About Alexandra

Alexandra lives in New York where she leads the social media practice for a public relations agency. In her free time, Alexandra enjoys writing, reading, and cooking vegetarian food. Please feel free to comment here and throughout her blog, to suggest articles and content ideas, or just to say, "hi."

The Visual Side of Social Media Marketing

It’s easy to water down a dialogue about the day-to-day of a community manager with editorial calendar chit chat. But editorial strategy makes up only a sliver of social media marketing. Visual storytelling has emerged as a necessary component of digital marketing for brands, with video carving out an important place in the social spotlight for many years to come.

Facebook has staked its competitive claim to video, encouraging brands to evolve from curators to broadcasters. Brands have been challenged — rightfully so! — to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to content, especially video. In one of its many moves to refine its algorithm in favor of audience transparency and user control, Facebook announced this week that it would begin penalizing pages who post misleading video click-bait or static images masked as videos with a phony “play” button.

I’m honestly fascinated by the potential of video, and not just on Facebook. Instagram — which sure, you could argue is just an extension of Facebook — is a platform ripe with opportunity for video creation. For brands on a shoestring budget, Instagram has a suite of companion tools like Hyperlapse and Boomerang that offer up an element of experimentation with video formats.

While there’s room for a learning curve, production value does still reign supreme from small-scale videos through to Facebook or Instagram Live broadcasts. Nailing down a visual aesthetic that’s cohesive with social images and complements editorial tone is crucial. Planning also plays an important role; using a storyboarding process helps organize the narrative, while also ensuring that each respective video aligns with the broader brand social media strategy.

More than anything, video allows brands to offer a stronger social experience to their engaged audiences. Considering the prominent role that paid content continues to play across channels, promoting the right set of videos with a smart and strategic target will help draw new and curious users into your page.

If you’re ready to usher your brand into a more immersive social storytelling experience, keep these things in mind:

  • Plan wisely. Draft storyboards, scripts that are integrated with digital marketing messaging, etc.
  • Budget realistically for equipment, props, labor (producing/creative direction, filming, editing), social advertising
  • Establish a cadence. Build video content into your broader social media content strategy and calendar so that it’s a supporting player, and not the main event. Social content is about balance.
  • Listen to audience feedback. If video doesn’t perform well, consider things like length, production quality, topics/theme, and platform. What might work well on Facebook might not work as well on Instagram, and vice-versa.
  • Embrace small-scale tests. If you’re not ready to dive into Hollywood-quality video for your social channels, start small. Play around with Boomerang videos and GIFs to test resonance and engagement with your audiences across channels.
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Beyond the Bottomline

I’ve always had ambitions, but I haven’t always been a leader. That’s not to say I was a follower; I’m a textbook skeptic, even when the ideas originate from my very own mind.

As a manager under 30, I’m faced with complex decisions every day — about people, clients, prospects, etc. — and without any formal training, I use team morale and communication as barometer against which I need to adjust my approach.

Pressure mounts as successes rack up. I sometimes feel like I’m always fighting with numbers. Perhaps it’s because I’m a wordy woman who married a “numbers” guy.

I find value in the tangible, but I also see the need to strike a balance with what some people write off: the emotional. It’s easy to get lost in the bottomline, obsessing about numbers. Numbers reveal trends, sure, but they don’t tell stories.

We get so stuck in building narratives around perceived value, deferring to basic arithmetic to convince and convert. And I’m anything but basic.

My never-ending quest alongside my team is to build a sense of belonging and ownership. Numbers alone mean nothing; they need words to fight back. I want my team to own their work in such a way that the numbers are just the beginning — they lead to new risks worth their weight in even greater rewards.

If numbers reigned supreme, we’d stop communicating via verbose e-mails and instead exchange Excel attachments. I’m interested in knowing what keeps each member of my team curious; our conversations are always rooted in purpose, but never in numbers alone.

The bottom line means bupkis to me on it own. As a leader and manager, I’m not just interested in the hard-and-fast “what” – I’ll always want to know about the “why” and “how.”

The Art of Follower Recognition

Long gone are the days when brand auto responses were socially acceptable. And by socially, I mean on social media. We call them consumers, but at the end of the day, the people who flock to a brand’s social channels are part of an audience, a community, if you will. They choose to dedicate however many minutes — and in some cases hours — each day to following their beloved brands, for whatever reason, and can all too easily get lost in a number.

Like many people in a social strategy leadership role, I’ve spent much of my career working with clients and colleagues to demystify vanity metrics, teaching what success actually looks like — numbers that actual have strategic implications versus what’s just shiny but ultimately without long-term brand value. And the reality is, for so many brands, the community gets lost in the numbers.

As we push brands to embrace engagement as the lead performance indicator, we have to identify opportunities to recognize and reward the “every-follower” — the person who’s not necessarily an “influencer” (its own class of buzzword that requires clear definition), but has nonetheless made the conscious decision to follow and actively react to a brand’s social story.

 

  • Start Simple: People don’t hear the words “thank you” often enough. Not every brand action on social needs to be draped in pomp and circumstance. If your main goal is to showcase appreciation for your community, start by saying it with words.
  • Say it with a Surprise: Don’t be afraid to go that extra mile for a person (or people!) who has been an especially active and supportive member of your brand’s social community. Surprise them with something offline, like a handwritten thank you note and their favorite product from your portfolio, or even something brand-agnostic based on what you know from being a careful listener and community manager.
  • Build Sustainable Relationships: Nurturing your existing community is as important as growing it. Establish a regular community management routine that involves not just “listening,” but learning — about your audience, their interests, their motivators, and their values. Get to know the people who believe in the brand messages that you’ve worked so hard to craft. Their follow, like or retweet is their way of saying “we care,” and as a community manager, it’s your job to look for ways to keep that message reciprocal, and ongoing.

 

 

Progress vs. Perfection

For whatever reason, it feels weird to admit that it’s taken me most of my life to-date to truly cultivate a sense of self love. It’s simply not something that comes natural to me. As the youngest of four children, who took a very unorthodox — for my family, anyway — path to success, I have a lot of chatter in my head, and it’s mostly criticism.

But then I discovered fitness.

I’ve never – read: NEVER EVER – enjoyed any element of exercise. As kids, we were never pushed to play sports; my parents focused on academic excellence. Until the pounds poured on.

I saw fitness as the enemy; exercise, in my eyes, was something only the naturally thin could endure without collapsing in misery.

And then I met Frank Duffy. And through Frank Duffy, I met my friends in fitness. And through that crew, affectionately dubbed my “gym baes” — judge me, I dare you, I’ve discovered a sense of self.

Coaching, which for me is now long distance, has truly changed my life. I’ve met friends who are invested in similar, highly personal health and wellness goals and strength has truly bonded us. We are grounded in our goals, and go above and beyond to support one another. The community aspect has been a critical component of my success; other gym-goers are not your competition. They should be your motivation.

I’m at a point now where I care about myself in a way that goes beyond a number on a scale or dress size. I care about my wellbeing and having a clear mind, much of which has been achieved through regular exercise and a balanced diet.

I see each workout as an opportunity to be a little better — in form, weight lifted, number of reps, etc. — and each meal as a challenge to be more creative with nutritious ingredients.

I’ve found comfort in community and accountability, and have found direction and purpose in owning each meal and workout. I’m not focused on perfection, but on regular progress.

Call me a convert, but I’m now a Franky Duffy Fitness devotee, and have found a form of exercise that enables me to feel stronger, better and happier each and every day.

 

Divorce

Divorce is a hot topic. From conscious uncouplings to trial separations, celebrity divorces dominate headlines. As a happily married late 20-something, I’m fascinated by how love, marriage and the dissolution of marriage have evolved over time.

I caught wind of HBO’s new series Divorce because of one of its Executive Producers, Sharon Horgan. Her work on Pulling and Catastrophe perfectly reflect my sense of humor. She’s tackled love and marriage, so perhaps divorce was the natural next step. It also didn’t hurt that Sarah Jessica Parker (SJP) was billed as the show’s star.

I found time on a Sunday to watch the early premiere of the series on HBO Go, and was really pleased. SJP broke free from her mold as Carrie Bradshaw, introducing viewers to an equally complicated lead named Frances.

The show is charming and rugged — kind of like 90s grunge — set cozily in the swanky suburb of Hastings-on-Hudson. The first episode established a lot of foundation while confronting major issues. Viewers were also treated to a darkly comedic side of Molly Shannon, whose character is both wildly dysfunctional and likable at first glance. She’s the friend whose safety and sanity you fear for, all while fiercely protecting her.

I’m excited to see how each character evolves. Thomas Haden Church and Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement add just the right amount of complementary quirk to the rest of the ensemble. 

While SJP’s celebrity friends helped raise awareness for the show’s early premiere — her interview with Eva Chen was a favorite of mine — I also happened upon an unrelated installment from The Guardian called “The Moment Our Marriage Was Over” that really struck a chord with me. Couples shared sincerely touching essays about the vulnerable moments when they knew their marriages were over.

We focus so much on the romantic part of love and marriage, but there’s a functional component — almost like how leadership factors into management — that doesn’t get the same level of limelight, perhaps because it’s the most painfully relatable element.

I love my husband dearly, but the highs and lows captured even in the first episode of Divorce will surely resonate with every couple, and inspire at least a little bit of sympathy and quite a few laughs.

The Human Side of Zuck

Articles pop up all the time about the importance of social media for C-suite executives. It’s a great promotion tactic for thought leadership, helps humanize a brand, and at its core, it’s a great way to network.

Enter Mark Zuckerberg, the 32-year-old CEO and Co-Founder of Facebook. I have a combined fascination and appreciate for Zuckerberg; in many ways, he paved the way for my career in social media strategy with the launch of Facebook. What’s fascinating though is his personality; he’s a textbook developer whose success has thrust him into the limelight since Facebook’s launch in 2004.

I work with a lot of digital people — most of whom would join me in a collective eye roll at being labeled “creatives.” The faces of our web design and development team are pretty fabulous, and while they’re definitely social, their work is so screen-centric that I find myself chatting with them on gchat or via e-mail more than in person.

Mark Zuckerberg didn’t strike me as much different — as a developer, but also as a CEO. He regularly updates his personal Facebook feed with major brand milestones, all of them so perfectly on-brand and message — ie: clearly vetted by someone on his comms team.

But here’s what special, and where he breaks free from the mold: he embraces the innovations that he’s invested in. From Oculus to Instagram, Zuckerberg has started to add a deeper layer of personality to his updates. Since adding dad to his resume, he’s even offered subscribers of his feed a glimpse into the life of his beautiful daughter Maxima.

Alongside Facebook’s investment in virtual reality, its not-so-new Live feature is perhaps one of the most important for the channel, and one that Zuckerberg has really embraced. My favorite broadcast was one that he aired before Sunday’s debate. Zuckerberg streamed live from his Palo Alto backyard, where he was drinking sparkling water and smoking meats. Commenters, myself included, began to dub the broadcast #GrillTalk, and I sincerely hope it takes off.

While Zuckerberg isn’t the only Facebook exec that I follow (I recommend following along with Boz and Ruchi Sanghvi, too!), I think he’s a game changer for C-suite execs who are open to letting the public in a little.

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On Being Human

After a tough day at work, or a rough day of deadlines, we tend to placate ourselves with reminders that our work, however important, is neither brain surgery nor rocket science. Ok, so I’m not my brother the radiologist, or my sisters the engineers, but with a job function that shapes how a brand communicates online, my work still tends to follow me after hours.

The communications industry has, over the years, contributed to a broader culture of people pleasers. As a perfectionist and overachiever, you’d think this would be a natural fit. Disappointing someone, or falling short in any which way, even if only by my own perception, can sometimes feel like getting that one B+ amongst an otherwise suite of straight As.

The reality is, though, when you’re your own worst critic, it’s easy to get lost in someone else’s reaction, feedback, or otherwise unfavorable opinion. Reading between the lines of an e-mail, a phone call, or worse yet a text, can set off a destructive spiral of self-deprecation.

I sometimes wonder if the solution is really about work-life balance more than anything. If we powered down, would we think a little more about what we say, how we say it? Would we be more enthusiastic if we unplugged after hours? Setting boundaries is definitely part of it — how people should speak to you, when they can reach you, what you’re actually able to do and responsible for — all of these elements contribute to a transparent — and most importantly respectful — working relationship.

Instead of devaluing the work that we do, it’s important that we remember to instead find ways to move on and move forward. After all, we’re all human, right?