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3 Lessons I’ve Learned About Social Media Reputation Management

I used to be a rather private person. Wait. Let me rephrase. I still am a private person, I just have a website and several social profiles that I update frequently – compared to the nothing I did several years ago. So, it feels like I am less private since I am accessible and open for an onslaught of criticism, compliments, and comradery by everyone on the internet. I chose to take the plunge and bask in the glow of a digital presence because I deal with small business clients who are struggling with the same burning fear: if I put myself out there online, what do I do about my reputation?

When I tell my clients that, yes, you have to get online now in order to meet your competition, a lot of the time I am met with a mix of absolute abhorrence or complete disinterest. I have gotten used to the fact that I am, typically, the only one in the room thinking, “This is going to be SO much fun.” Because it really can be, we just have to shift their thinking.

Instead of turning away from social media in fear, we should be running toward it with arms wide open through a field of brightly blossomed sunflowers. Especially when it comes to the reputation of a business.


Because social media is THE first place that the customer will have the chance to interact with your client’s business. Sure, they have a website and that’s wonderful (Side note: Everyone should have a website these days and if you don’t, well, then… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). What you really need is to amp up their social media presence to the point of kick butt. What I mean by that is give your clients a little extra push for their social media – get them to love it as much as we do.

social media and customer service

Image: Shutterstock

As a digital marketer, I try to get on my clients’ social media profiles to monitor engagement as well as monitor incoming posts – it’s one of the services I offer when they sign up for social media. If I notice something amiss, I notify my clients immediately and try to give them some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. The last thing I want is for my clients to have a bad reputation online and see a decrease in their activity – and then proceed to feel like their social media campaign isn’t working. No one wins in that case and the cycle just starts over – harder for me to go and win them back.

I’ve outlined some tips I’ve found that really help nullify that enormous beast that lurks under the bed, waiting to take us down to social media limbo where business reputations go to die.


Jay Baer, the author of the forthcoming book Hug Your Haters, wrote in his blog post about listening to your customers via social media: “Online customer service software company Conversocial partnered with New York University on research that found that more than one-third of all tweets to companies were about customer service issues, but that only three percent incorporated the company‘s Twitter username with the @ symbol. They are tweeting ABOUT you, but not AT you.” He writes that when customers are tweeting about you and not at you, they are more likely to be candid. But this gives you a great opportunity to really reach out and provide over-the-top customer service. Turn your haters in your lovers, advocates, devoted repeat customers by taking that extra step to notice and listen about their experience with your brand.

Taking the latest viral customer service experience (Go here and read it, take notes, because this is brilliant), Pret A Manger set a great example that we can all learn from.

Social Media and Customer Service examples

Image: Mashable


We know that the company listened to their customer as they responded almost immediately and proceeded to make amends (Dodds writes in his DM, “Thanks! Great service”). The fact that the company took time out of their day to listen to their customer was one way of really setting the stage up for engagement.


Engaging with their customers in a conversation helps build your clients’ reputation up on social media. Facebook now has a feature that gauges how responsive a business is dependent entirely upon how quickly messages, posts, reviews are answered. Great Twitter posts can go viral, like the Pret A Manger example I used earlier. After the customer complained on Twitter, the company responded by asking him to explain via Direct Message (DM). With the problem being resolved, Pret A Manger continued to engage the customer in an epic RAP battle. How great is that? Puns abounded and the interaction went back and forth until Pret A Manger left for the day. A great way to engage the customer and leave things on a good note.


Jay Baer, again, says that we need to be responding to every complaint on every channel. Responding to the customer (and how you respond, mind you) builds up your business reputation and trust with your customers. If other customers witness you handling a negative review in a positive manner, how do you think those customers feel about coming back to your establishment? I bet you they feel just that much more comfortable with giving you repeat business (here are some stats you can reference). CoSchedule has a great blog post on the different things you can do to respond to negative client feedback to regain control of the situation and leave your business with a clear conscious and a better reputation.

I’ve been able to apply all three of these lessons to my own personal brand, too. For instance, I make sure I engage my twitter followers regularly so they know that they are appreciated and their engagement with me is valuable. These lessons apply for agencies, as well, and bleed into other areas of the business’ reputation. Are you engaging your clients frequently? Are you listening to their concerns? How do you respond to criticisms?

Breaking into the social media realm can cause some hesitation from small business owners (I get that most of us don’t run through fields of flowers on the reg.) but it doesn’t mean you should completely shy away from the current state of marketing. The one thing that I make sure to tell my clients is this: If they aren’t going to be the ones in control of their reputation? Who is?


Harness the Power of Twitter Lists

Hoover Dam-Harness Power of Twitter Lists

photo credit: susteph via photopin cc

Flowing water contains a tremendous amount of energy, and with a hydroelectric dam that energy can be harnessed to generate electricity. Likewise, you can harness the energy of the overwhelming amount of information and communications on Twitter for business purposes, like building key relationships and finding prospective customers, with lists.

What are Twitter Lists?

Generally speaking, Twitter lists are lists you create or subscribe to and are organized around a general theme or group of people. They help you organize accounts you really want to follow so you do not miss tweets and can be private or public. You do not have to follow the accounts to monitor them in a list. However, if you add them to a public list they will be notified. Private lists do not generate the notifications.

Types of Twitter Lists to Create

The types of lists you can create are only limited by your imagination. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Clients* – Monitoring your clients can help you anticipate their needs, inspire new products and services and answer their industry questions.
  • College and community/business group organizations – Many alum and local association members are more than happy to help make connections and referrals.
  • Competitors* – Knowing what your competitors are doing is always wise. Insights can come from inferred information. Don’t just add the official accounts but also add key executive accounts. Because you are not actually following them, they will not be notified of your observation of their feeds.
  • Event / conference attendees –  Developing relationships with other attendees can lead to business opportunities. If you want to meet certain people, they often state their location so you can intercept them or specifically ask to meet. Also, following top tweeters allow you to better follow the event.
  • Helpful resources for customers – Create a list you think would interest your customers. For example, if you are an accountant to small businesses, you can create a list of small business resources. 
  • Industry colleagues – Following others in your industry provides an ongoing education, tips and insights into trends. Also, the relationships built can provide business referrals and collaborations.
  • Industry sector* – Instead of viewing only direct competitors, you can look at a larger industry slice.
  • Location-based list – Sometimes you want to focus your efforts on a particular geographical area. For example, I have lists for Dallas/Fort Worth and Tennessee experts and colleagues in my field.
  • Prospective clients* – Anyone you wish to approach to become a client would be in this list. Reviewing the tweets in this list will provide you with information about their needs and how best to approach them. You can add them to a private list without following so they do not know of your interest before you are ready.
  • Thought leaders / experts – Adding these people to a list provides multiple benefits: education, access and an ego boost to the added people.
  • Vendors* – Key management changes, acquisitions, supply or plant issues and the like can impact your ability to run your business. If your company is ISO certified, knowing information about your vendors becomes more vital.

The asterisked lists are the ones I would recommend you keep private. As relationships develop, people can be moved from one list to another. Remember you do not have to actually follow an account to have it in a list, and only people and companies added to a public list will be notified. 

Take Twitter Lists Further

Did you know you can subscribe to other people’s public lists? You can. Let them do the heavy lifting of curating them. Look for people and brands you respect or are interested in to see their lists. Then, subscribe to them.

Also, include your account in your public lists. That way people who subscribe to them will also see your tweets. This technique is especially useful on lists where you can act as an expert or business solution.

Last, promote your Twitter lists on other social media platforms. Each list has a unique URL. Use an eye-catching name like My Favorite [insert topic].

How to Create a Twitter List

Now that you know what kinds of lists you want to have and who to add, it is really easy to create them. Under your header photo, click on Lists and choose “Create a new list.” A pop up box will appear where you can enter the list name and an optional description and choose whether the list is public or private. You can then go to an account’s profile to add it to your list. Click on the “gear” icon for a dropdown menu to select “Add or remove from lists.” Your collection of lists will be shown for you to check which list(s) to place that account in. You can even create a new list on the fly in this pop up box. Once you have accounts in your lists, you can go to Lists and view the feed for an individual list. That’s so much better than scrolling through everyone’s tweets.

Now that you have your lists in place, you can start monitoring them for various types of information and use them to engage with people you want to get to know better or convert to customers. I hope they are as useful to you as they have been for me. Without them, I would have missed out on numerous new client and collaboration opportunities.

Using Hashtags in Your Social Media Strategy

Hashtag symbolHashtags are seen everywhere these days – online, television and print. I bet you use them in your personal social media, but are you taking advantage of them in your business?

Hashtags are used within a message and consist of the # sign plus a word or words. They were originally designed to index information and facilitate topic searches on social media. I love that the first tweeted hashtag involved one of my favorite unconferences, BarCamp. Now, they are used randomly and to express emotions or ideas that would probably best be done directly.

Why are you using hashtags?

Before you start using hashtags, you need to determine your objective. Is it to make your brand more searchable? Is it to monitor chatter about your brand? Is it to launch a new product or service? Is it to promote an event? Is it to promote conversation?

Knowing what you want to achieve will determine how you use hashtags, create brand consistency and provide a clear message to your target audience. Using hashtags haphazardly will waste your resources and may hurt your brand.

Types of hashtags

Brand hashtag

Brand hashtags are hashtags for the company name or tagline. If your company name is common or long, create a unique one. This hashtag is your go-to one because it defines your brand. Use it consistently across platforms, and get people to use it. If short enough, you can combine it with a campaign, event or other hashtags. For example, Verizon is #VZW, but it adds to it (e.g. #VZWBuzz, which is a weekly Twitter chat).

Campaign hashtag

Campaign hashtags are used to promote your latest marketing campaign. Make sure they clearly identify your promotion or contest. Promote this hashtag throughout the duration of your campaign to ensure people know about it and get them to use it.

Trending hashtag

Trending hashtags come and go very quickly so you have to be monitoring social media carefully to capture them. Done well you can take advantage of an event or other subject’s momentum to further your brand. Done wrong you can easily damage your campaign. Generally, only jump on trending hashtags that relate to your company’s products and services in some way. You can also use trending hashtags to show your brand’s personality. Spamming trending hashtags can get your accounts suspended so don’t use #MileyCyrus if she’s not related to the post.

Oreo is famous for its real-time social media. It got a big boost with its Super Bowl tweet “Power out? No problem.” accompanied by an image with the comment “You can still dunk in the dark.” Few companies can replicate Oreo’s success with real-time marketing.

Content hashtag

Many hashtags refer to the content of the message rather than the company itself. Therefore, they tend to be more generic.

  • Product / service hashtag
  • Lifestyle / hobbby hashtag
  • Event hashtag
  • Location hashtag
  • Industry hashtag

Content hashtags help people find information on specific subjects. Do not use too general of a hashtag, like #Facebook, or your message will get lost. Instead, you might use #FacebookTips. Event hashtags are great if you are participating in or hosting an event. Local businesses will want to consider location hashtags.

How to choose hashtags

Remember when I wrote about not using haphazardly? Well, now let’s talk about how to choose hashtags that will be the most effective. The short answer is research. Successful hashtags are unique, relevant, short and easy to remember.

You need to give special consideration to brand and campaign ones. You do not want them to be misinterpreted or hijacked by the public. For example, McDonald’s used #MeetTheFarmers to talk about the corporation’s guarantee of fresh produce and focus on wholesome stories about farmers, but then it used the related secondary hashtag #McDstories. The second hashtag was used by people to discuss fast food horror stories. #Fail.

Research will also help prevent errors such as Entenmann’s #notguilty tweet. Entenmann tweeted “Who’s #notguilty about eating all the tasty treats they want?!” Unfortunately, #notguilty was trending about the controversial not guilty Casey Anthony verdict. Oops! Apology to follow.

So how do you research and create a hashtag list?

Many tools and methods exist to research keywords to use for hashtags and existing hashtag usage. I’ll go over a few here to get you started.Many of the tools focus on Twitter, which dominates hashtag usage, but more companies are adding other social media networks.

If your company is new to social media, you probably do not know which hashtags are popular, but you probably know the influencers in your field. You can use Twitonomy to find out the hashtags used by influencers on Twitter. Remember that just because a hashtag is used by someone does not mean many people search for it. Sign in and enter the person’s Twitter handle to get a list of hashtags. Information is also provided on people they retweet and interact with most often for additional names to research. You can also search by hashtag. After doing this a few times with different accounts, you will have a basic hashtag list. I did one for Gini Dietrich.

Gini Dietrich-Twitonomy hashtags

Because I follow Gini, I know what many of these hashtags mean. But what if you don’t? You can click on the result to see how it is being used and get an idea of its meaning. Also, you can use Hashtag Dictionary and TagDef to find out more. People from around the world add definitions and descriptions for hashtags.

Next, will provide other trending hashtags related to your specific one. Enter the hashtag minus the # sign. You will get a graphic result that reminds me of Google+ Ripples. If you hover over one of the circles, more detailed information appears. The larger the circle size, the more popular the hashtag, and the closer it is to your hashtag, the greater the correlation. You can add the related hashtags to your list. Speaking of Google+, as you type your post, Google+ will create related hashtags, and as you type a hashtag, it will auto suggest others.

Here is the result for #contentmarketing:

hashtagifyme-contentmarketing hashtag result

But how popular is that hashtag? With Rite Tag, you can enter the hashtags you’ve collected and find out. Rite Tag uses a color code system. Gray is unused. Pink is overused. Blue is good. Green is great. You can even install a Chrome extension that will provide feedback as you type a tweet. I typed in #contentmarketing, and the result was green. However, #contentmarketingtips was gray. Therefore, I would use #contentmarketing as a content hashtag.

By this time, you may be wondering how to create a unique hashtag for your brand or campaign when so many hashtags have already been created. You don’t have to be completely unique, though that would be ideal. For example, BarCamp Nashville uses #BCN[2-digit year]. This year it was #BCN14. However, the same hashtag configuration is used by an event in Spain. As the events are local and in different languages, they continue to use the same hashtag. You would not want to use a hashtag that is also being used by a competitor or someone who could harm your brand.

Now that you’ve used these tools, you should have a good list of hashtagsto use for content you want to share, a brand hashtag and possible campaign hashtags.

How to use hashtags

Now that you have the why and the what, you need to add the how. One of the frequent questions I get is how many hashtags to use in a post or tweet. Research has found that the fewer the better. Too many hashtags create a spammy feeling. Generally, I advise one or two hashtags with a maximum of three. Although you can go up to 30 on Instagram, more is not necessarily better so please don’t go crazy. On Facebook, I recommend you test whether to use hashtags at all since it hasn’t really taken off there, except with the integration of Instagram.

Where should you place the hashtags? They can be placed in the message itself or at the end. Whichever method you choose, keep readability in mind. For that reason, I capitalize the words in a multiword hashtag.

Using the brand and campaign hashtags across multiple channels, including offline, will create consistency and integrate your messaging. Also, more people will see the hashtag, and seeing it in multiple places will help them remember it.

Remember effectively using hashtags as part of your social media strategy requires that you start with a strategy.Then, you build upon that foundation with a solid list of hashtags that are unique, short and easy to remember and use them properly. The result will be extended audience reach and increased engagement.

Getting the Correct Thumbnail Image in Facebook Post

wrong Facebook imageEver had the wrong thumbnail image or no image appear when you post one of your articles to Facebook? Frustrating, isn’t it? It’s especially bad if you need to automate your publishing. You carefully research and craft a fantastic blog post and start distributing it on social media and other outlets, and then the Facebook image issue happens.  What the heck?

Why Isn’t Facebook Picking up the Correct Image?

Facebook scans the site’s header for Open Graph tags with post image information. The Open Graph code looks like this:

<metaproperty=”og:image’ content=”/>

One of the reasons may be the thumbnail image size. Facebook itself states this information about the Open Graph:

The URL of an image which is used in stories published about this object. We suggest that you give us an image of at least 600 x 315 pixels. However, bigger is better, so if you have a 1200 x 630 or larger image that you can use, please give it to us. Also, we recommend that you keep images as close to a 1.9:1 aspect ratio as possible to avoid cropping. (Note: image size must be no more than 5MB in size.)

The thumbnail image may not be recognized if it is smaller than the other images you have in the og:image tag.

Size is not the only reason for thumbnail images not being recognized:

  • Several caching plugins do not support use of thumbnails when uploading content to Facebook
  • CDN issues could obstruct correct thumbnail sharing
  • Lack of a meta tag associated with the open graph image

Three Possible Solutions to Incorrect Facebook Thumbnail Images

Manually Upload the Image

You can use the upload image feature to publish the image you want. This example is from a large image. The same feature is available for small images.

manual upload of Facebook post image

With this option you can get the correct image at the optimal size, but there are two tradeoffs. The image shows up in your page’s photo list. Also, when other people share the link the incorrect image may still show up. They would have to manually upload the image, which they will not do.

SEO by Yoast for WordPress Sites 

If you have a WordPress site and use Yoast’s plugin, you can specify the Facebook image. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to the Yoast metabox. Under the Social tab, you can upload a thumbnail image.

Yoast Facebook post image

This solution should solve the problem. If it does not, you will need to clear your Facebook cache.

Facebook Open Graph Object Debugger Tool

Facebook has developed a debugger tool to help with image issues.  Paste the URL of the post in the debugger tool. Click on Debug. Facebook will show you issues it finds. The most common issue will be

common Facebook image warning

You will see a preview of what Facebook has scraped.

debugged Facebook post preview

Then, paste the debugged URL into the Facebook post to get the proper image.

debugged Facebook post image

This method does not work all the time. Sometimes a website has other issues that prevent it.

We hope these solution options help solve your incorrect / no image Facebook thumbnail issue. An image that matches your post will better enhance your Facebook post for viewing and sharing. Happy Facebook posting!

Episode #04: Creating a Simple Social Media Plan with Laura Click

In this episode, Laura Click and I discuss her most recent e-book: 5 Steps to Creating a Simple Social Media Plan

Laura’s background in journalism and communication provides her with the right expertise to know how to ask the right questions when preparing a social media plan.

5 Steps to Creating a Simple Social Media Plan (See presentation below to learn more from Laura Click and the Blue Kite team)

  1. Why do you want to use social media for your business?
  2. Who are you trying to reach?
  3. What does your audience want?
  4. Where does your audience hang out online?
  5. When do they want to hear from you?

Learn more about Laura at

Listen: iTunes and Stitcher.


Twitter Is Beta Testing Promoted Video

Twitter is becoming more visual with the introduction of beta testing of a new Promoted Video with select content publishers and verified users. Twitter’s initial testing shows tweets containing native video generate better engagement and more video views.

Promoted Videos are an extension of the Twitter Amplify program. Along with uploading and distributing native video on Twitter, advertisers will be able to measure the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns with full access to Twitter’s robust video analytics like completion percentage and organic vs. paid video views.

Tony Hawk Promoted Video gif

Twitter has switched to a Cost Per View (CPV) ad buying model. Advertisers will only be charged when a user starts playing the video.

Twitter claims the goal of these Promoted Videos is to “…bring more video into our users’ timelines…” However, if that was the sole point, they would be focused on users employing video, not advertisers. Advertisers are increasingly willing to spend higher prices for online video. According to eMarketer, US digital video ad spending will nearly double in only four years to a projected $8.04 billion in in 2016.

US Digital Video Ad Spending-eMarketer

If you have a Twitter advertising account representative, then you can contact that person to get on this beta launch. Otherwise, you will need to set up an advertising account first and then talk with an account representative. Agencies are already reporting surprising success with Promoted Videos.

LinkedIn Introduces Standalone Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Photo: LinkedIn

“We’re embarking on an era of social selling,” declared Sachin Rekhi, LinkedIn’s head of product management for Linked In Sales Solutions.


Sales are the lifeblood of a company and often include cold calling in the B2B world. But is there a more effective way to find leads? Recently, LinkedIn made its Sales Navigator a standalone product instead of a series of features. LinkedIn made this move based on the belief that social media is changing the buying and selling process. A LinkedIn company survey showed that salespeople who used social media in their selling process were 51% more likely to meet quotas that those who did not. For LinkedIn, social selling consists of establishing a social presence, finding the right people, engaging with those people and building trust. This understanding is built into Sales Navigator.


Sales Navigator’s features are intended to allow salespeople to focus on the right prospects, stay informed with insights and build trusted relationships. Some features are available in all plans whereas others are only available in Professional and Team editions.

  • Personalized lead recommendations
  • Account and contact importation from and syncing with Salesforce and other CRMs
  • Premium Search with Lead Builder using premium filters with ability to save up to 3,000 leads
  • TeamLink to find connections and leads from within your company and sales team’s contacts to prospective companies
  • Real-time updates on leads and companies – job changes, etc.
  • Full network unlocks (25/month)
  • Full list of who’s viewed your profile
  • Premium profile
  • InMail messages (25/month)

CRM integration, TeamLink and Lead Builder are three of the most notable features of the new Sales Navigator. The first two allows salespeople to capitalize on their current contacts and those of their team members. Lead Builder allows you to create a custom lead list.

Pricing Plan

So how much does all this cost? For corporate customers, the subscription starts at $1,200 a year per person, but discounts apply based on payment plan and the number of team members. Also, individuals can get a discounted plan for around $60 per month. How much value is assigned to a customer will help determine whether this product is worth the price.

LinkedIn anticipated its users may be wary and annoyed about receiving sales pitches. Block rates and other statistics were closed watched during the pilot phase. Furthermore, Sales Navigator users are limited to 25 targeted emails (aka InMails) per month to control spam. LinkedIn users can also decline connection requests and block members.

You or your sales team are probably already using LinkedIn in some respect but still using a multitude of tools. Sales Navigator could simplify the process so your salespeople can focus on selling. This new product is presently available for desktop and mobile web with plans for mobile apps.

Facebook Introduces “Buy” Button

Will people make ecommerce purchases inside the Facebook platform? Maybe.

Recently, Facebook started allowing people to make ecommerce purchases from a group of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses without leaving its page or app. These businesses can place a “Buy” call-to-action button on ads and Page posts. The companies can use this feature for free, but Facebook is reserving the option to change to a pay model. Facebook states that the feature was built with privacy in mind. None of people’s payment information will be shared with other advertisers, and people will have option of storing the information for future purchases.


Facebook Buy Button-Modify Watches Ad

If successful, this feature could be a boon for marketers. Customers can complete the entire transaction within Facebook. The lower friction means a possible increase in conversion rates. Who wouldn’t want a chance to increase sales? As Josh Constine of TechCrunch wrote, “It’s like the candy they sell in the grocery line. You’re already at checkout with your credit card out, so it’s easy to make an impulse purchase.”

Shortly after this announcement was made, conducted an unscientific survey:

Facebook Buy poll results

This survey does not represent a large enough sample to be truly representative. Therefore, I looked at the comments on articles about this feature for greater understanding. For the most part, commenters agreed with the basic results of this survey. However, many marketers have great hope for this latest by Facebook to enter ecommerce.

So what obstacles does the Facebook “Buy” button face?

  • People are on Facebook to be social.
    People are on Facebook to catch up with friends and family and share photos and memes. They are not in the buying mindset. Facebook will need to tap into impulse buying to get people used to purchasing on its platform and have people save their payment information.
  • Facebook has a privacy/trust issue with users.
    Facebook has a long history of tension with its users over privacy and trust. The latest issue involved its psychological experiment carried out on 689,003 users’ newsfeeds. Facebook directly collects a tremendous amount of information on its users and buys more data from third parties. Will people trust it not to misuse or sell information? What about a data breach involving saved payment information?
  • Increased reliance on customer reviews
    People are increasingly looking at customer reviews before making purchases, especially more complex or expensive ones. This feature does not offer the opportunity to look at reviews. Users may be more likely to make a purchase if they are already engaged with a brand or have already decided to make a particular purchase.

Time will tell if this latest ecommerce effort by Facebook will succeed. As a consumer, I will not use it. However, as a marketer I cannot write it off yet. Consumers may now be ready for ecommerce on social networks.

Episode #03: Developing Stories and Keeping Promises with Nancy VanReece

Nancy VanReece, is owner of Carpe Diem Management.

Nancy VanReece

In this episode, Nancy and I talk about using tools to build a story.

Nancy specifically talks about how she helps companies fulfill the promise they made, whether it’s delivering the best pizza or quick service. Whatever that promise is, it’s part of the story.

We discussed many of the tools that are available to tell those stories.

Every tool is not right for every business.

Lowes’ is doing some great stuff with Vine, That led to a conversation about Vine celebrities that can be found on tour with MagCon, Clearly, not the market Nancy and I are targeting, but fascinating regardless.

To get a sense of how Nancy VanReece helps companies find their “World Cup Moment”, check out this recent blog post:

3 Types of stories that we all want to hear

  1. The Ascending Narrative
  2. The Descending Narrative
  3. The Oscillating Narrative

What is your story?

Find more on Nancy’s Prezi presentation,

You can discover more about the great work Nancy does at

Other ways to connect:
Nancy on Twitter: @NancyVanReece
Nancy on Instagram @NancyVanReece
Nancy on G+: +NancyVanReece

Listen: iTunes and Stitcher.


Foursquare and Swarm: More Than Just Games

A funny thing happened a couple of weeks ago. While on vacation in Orlando, I grabbed my phone and used Foursquare to “check in” to our dinner restaurant – the ESPN Club at Disney’s Boardwalk.

A short time later, I received a push notification on my phone from John Ellis, commenting on my check in: “What?! I am here too!”

Yes, it’s true. John and I went on vacation separately with our respective families … and somehow ended up in the same place at the same time without prior knowledge of either of our destinations.

That’s part of the fun with Foursquare. I’ve heard stories from friends who used Foursquare to find friends at conferences or make connections at dinner. It’s this idea of instant connection that led Foursquare to launch Swarm last month, a spin-off app specifically designed to help people connect with their friends and acquaintances that just happen to be in the same area at the same time.

So, if the gamification aspects of the app – earning “stickers” and becoming “mayor” of a particular location – have been moved to Swarm, Foursquare is no longer relevant, right?


Foursquare is reinventing itself as a discovery app, geared toward helping users discover new places, using local search in a way very similar to Yelp. Swarm is also allowing users to search their own check-in history. According to the Los Angeles Times, this means that a user can “look up a city, a person or a type of places and Swarm will show them any relevant results.”

Yes, that means Foursquare can play a role in your search engine optimization.

SEO? Really? How does Foursquare impact my SEO?

Think of Foursquare as a piece of a larger puzzle. When people use their phones at businesses, some are reaching to check in using Swarm. But others might be requesting a ride using Uber. Or maybe another is posting a photo on a Pinterest board. How do users of both of those other apps tag their locations? Yep, by using Foursquare.

So your venue profile isn’t just a Foursquare profile. It’s Swarm … and Uber … and Pinterest … and means millions of users.

And then, there’s this.

Earlier this year, Microsoft invested $15 million into Foursquare, including a licensing deal.

The investment was announced in February and details of the arrangement have been very quiet since then. Technology and business magazine Fast Company, however, suggests that the location data could be used in Bing searches or other Windows-based mobile products.

Microsoft also gains access to Foursquare’s real-time recommendations feature – which Swarm is optimizing now by suggesting friends and locations near a user’s current location.

Are you sold yet? Here’s how to optimize your Foursquare/Swarm presence.

  • Claim your listing. Update the contact information, business hours and website URL.
  • Update your category. Make sure your business is categorized properly. This plays a significant role in how users can find you, especially when a search is performed by location type.
  • Consider adding an “offer” for those who check-in to your location. Some restaurants offer a percentage off of a menu item or a happy hour drink special to those who check in when they visit the establishment. This feature is likely to change when the new version of Foursquare is updated later this year, but it would be very surprising for this aspect of the app to be eliminated altogether.
  • Be social. Just like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, Foursquare (and now Swarm) is first and foremost a social network. So, if someone checks in to your location, leave a comment on their check in. Thank them for visiting. Maybe even offer them an incentive to return. But be sure to do something – anything – to acknowledge the visit, especially if the person leaves a comment or tip to other Foursquare users.

If Foursquare has fallen off of your radar, give it some thought. Ensure that your profile information is correct and encourage your customers to check in using Swarm or tag their location using another social network. It’s not only fun for them … it’s good for your SEO.

And besides, you never know who you might find vacationing just down the road from where you are.


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