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It’s not a surprise that social media moves fast — really fast. New platforms are ever emerging, algorithms are always changing, and new slang switches constantly. Even for the professional social media marketer, it can be hard to keep up.

That’s why we’ve rounded up our five favorite sites and blogs to follow for social media news and tips. Each offers something unique.

 

Social Media Examiner

From the web: “Social Media Examiner helps millions of businesses discover how to best use social media marketing to connect with customers, drive traffic, and increase sales.”

Why we love it: Social Media Examiner shares expert news and recommendations in a variety of different formats — text, video, infographic, podcast, talk show, you name it — making it easy (and fun!) to follow along with the current state of social media marketing. Through their social channels and physical get-togethers (they host what is, according to their website, the industry’s leading physical conference) they’re an excellent resource that empowers social media marketers to communicate with and learn from one another. With the theme of navigating the “jungle” of social media, their quirky exploration-themed graphics don’t hurt the experience, either!

 

Social Media Today

From the web: Powered by Industry Dive, “Social Media Today is an online community and resource for professionals in marketing, social business, communication, customer experience, content marketing and digital strategy, or any other discipline where a thorough understanding of social media is mission-critical.”

Why we love it: Social Media Today is a robust hub for the latest social media news. With an always-running Twitter feed and constant flow of industry-related content on the web, if something newsworthy happens in the world of social media, you can bet one of Social Media Today’s contributors will be one of the first to post about it. It’s our go-to for what’s going on.

 

Hubspot Blog

From the web: “HubSpot‘s Blog for marketing, sales, agency, and customer success content, which has more than 400,000 subscribers and attracts over 2 million monthly visitors.”

Why we love it: HubSpot’s blog tackles more than just the social media landscape. It delves into the 360-degree world of marketing, advertising, and sales to provide a more comprehensive experience for readers. While social media is an exceptionally important part of marketing today, it’s even more important to understand how it fits into the context of other business functions. HubSpot’s blog provides just that.

 

Sprout Social Insights

From the web: Sprout Social Insights is a social media blog for business with a focus on bringing you the latest social media tips, strategies and best practices.”

Why we love it: Sprout Social Insights helps show social media’s power across a wide range of industries, providing helpful recommendations that are relevant to more than just social media managers for B2C, for-profit brands. When it comes to platform-specific tips, Sprout Social Insights covers them all. And with Twitter chats and Facebook groups, the blog takes the conversation to a place they make a whole lot of sense: social media.

 

Buffer Blog

From the web: “Buffer’s social media marketing blog covers the latest social media tools, analytics, and strategies for Twitter, Facebook, and more…”

Why we love it: Buffer does a fantastic job of managing the community of commenters on their blog. Buffer blog writers are clearly acknowledged with profile pictures and bios, and participate in the conversations that happen both in the comment sections of the blog and on any social platform the topics continue to. (Take a read through the articles — you’re bound to see a comment from moderator Kevan Lee.) Marketers are customers to, and Buffer does an amazing job inspiring them to be a part of their community of experts.

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Through social media, you can learn a lot about your business, and your customers. The robust conversations that take place on social media can help you can learn the general sentiment about your business, your customers’ thoughts on your products and practices, responses to industry trends and your customers’ reactions to them, and so on. Essentially, social platforms house the pulse of your customers. The problem is: not everyone checks theirs.

Social media gives customers a voice, a platform to speak directly to a business — but not every business invests in actually listening to these voices. While some individuals will share legitimate customer service issues that need to be resolved through other vehicles, often times, people who reach out through social media just want to know that their concerns have been heard by a real, live human. Completely ignoring your customers — or worse, leaving your social customer service to bots and autoresponders — can completely alienate the people who went well out of their way to initiate a meaningful conversation with you.

In Business Insider recently was the story of a southern England train operator that had been experiencing less than stellar satisfaction ratings due to service issues, cancellations and union-led strikes. Southern Rail gave the reigns of their Twitter account to 15-year-old Eddie, so that he could gain work experience, at the height of this negative publicity. Yikes!

What sounded like a setup for a trainwreck turned out to be a way to allow disgruntled customers to feel like their concerns were being listened to, and the quirky kindness of such a youthful Southern Rail ambassador somehow seemed to lighten a heavy mood. People opened up to Eddie on Twitter, even people rooted for Eddie by giving him his own #AskEddie hashtag. Above all, train riders knew that the young volunteer wouldn’t single-handedly resolve all of the frustrating service issues they were experiencing, but they knew that they were at least able to communicate on a level playing field with a human representative of the company.

Southern Rail’s investment in Eddie’s experience resulted in a healthy dose of positive attention, something that had been completely foreign to the company in recent months. While this unique, youthful strategy was an unusual choice for the company, the lesson is clear: make everyone feel better by giving customers an actual human to voice their concerns to, then listen (and respond!) to what they are telling you.

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While we all think it’s a busy time of year, let’s pause. Who REALLY has the busiest schedule right now? That’s right, none other than Santa Claus and his band of jolly elves in the North Pole workshop. And if you think Santa does everything the ‘old fashioned way,’ think again. Sometimes when magic isn’t enough, Santa gets a little help from his social media strategies. Let’s face it; he has to keep on top of his staggering workload!

So, we can all borrow a few tricks found in Santa’s toy bag during the holiday season.

First, you need to keep on top of what’s trending. Santa does – in fact, he has to keep track of toy trends all over the world. Using media management tools helps Santa and his elves track what’s hot this year and what went “out” last Christmas. Santa’s website (and workshop) knows about all of the hippest and hottest trends online – you should too.

Secondly, communication, communication, communication. It’s important to your business and social media strategies, and it’s of the utmost importance to Santa. St. Nick has millions of kids that are expecting his best, not to mention managing thousands of elves in the workshops, which is no small task. Efficient and effective communication from the guy in red is mandatory. The same goes for your crew.

Third, it’s a great time of year to send out mass messages every day, every week, or more. Manage that workload by scheduling your updates in advance through third party platforms, such as Sprout Social. Sprout Social will allow you to plan out, weeks ahead, your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn messages. How else does Santa say “Merry Christmas” right at the stroke of midnight, on all his platforms? Magic…think again. He reaches key children and families; you reach key customers and future customers. Now that’s magic!

Fourth, remember the reason for the season. Santa wins the emotions on Facebook and Twitter the world over. He’s authentic and connects with people in a real and emotional way. He is always jolly and is full of engaging stories. Learn from the master, and this will work for your business, too. It’s the easiest and most effective way to communicate and engage with your “people” on social media. If Santa is re-telling a tale about a particular child and their wish, his emotional connection with networks/and people get stronger. So remember, the holidays are full of feel-good tales, and people love to hear about them. He’s directly involved in all of them, which is even better. Perhaps your company can adopt a family who needs gifts or takes part in a charity toy drive. The ideas are endless, but the results the same. Do some good; get the word out about your services and your company at the same time. Help spread peace on earth and show that your company harbors good will towards man.

So be sure to find a little magic in your social media bag of tricks. Have fun with it, and try not to feel overwhelmed. After all, take it from Santa, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night.”

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“Every day is Halloween, isn’t it? For some of us….” – Tim Burton

Boo! Did we scare you? Ah, the Halloween season. It’s all about spooky fun, trick-or-treat ideas, glowing jack-o-lanterns…in a nutshell – Halloween can be downright fun!

It’s also the perfect time to re-“VAMP” your online and social media platforms – get into the haunted season. Test those spooktacular social media ideas, as Halloween is a holiday that crosses cultural and age demographics – many celebrate Halloween in some form or fashion. Tap into that spirit!

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Ah, the rise of social media influencers. We see them every day (if we are keen on social media). These are the familiar faces that we are dazed by on our social media channels daily—they are the bloggers, vloggers (Youtube and Vine stars), and the social media experts of today.

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Content marketing and SEO. These are two entirely different things, right? While most people talk about one or the other, this post will focus on how you can actually connect the two and benefit your business or client.

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Out with the old, in with the new. We’ve all heard that saying. But an old idea is now making a rebound, and thanks to the age of social media, creating quite a revolution. Out with old? Not so fast…..

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Watch closely as we pull this rabbit out of this seemingly empty hat…or watch carefully as this card seems to float out of the deck by itself…..Wouldn’t it be easy if a little magic and illusion was all you need to make your business and marketing more memorable?

Well…as a matter of fact, that is all you need. And we’re not talking about a card tricks, or pulling rabbits out of hats. We’re talking about Animation, and how your business can use it.

In a nutshell, Animation is a graphic representation of drawings to show movement within those drawings. The series of drawings are linked together and, more than likely, photographed by a camera. When the drawings are played back in rapid succession (24 frames per second is the norm) there appears to be seamless movement within the drawings.

There are several pioneers in this genre, including American Winsor McCay, whose Gertie the Dinosaur was the first multi media animation. Early animations started popping up around 1910, and were basically a simple drawing photographed one at a time. Obviously, the whole system was extremely labor intensive. The celluloid development around 1913 helped make animation easier to produce. Unfortunately in the early days, animation was seen as a gimmick. While it was amazing and magical, that was about it. What do you do with it from there? It wasn’t until a trailblazer by the name of Walt Disney came around, that the history of animation was turned upside down.

Up until then, there wasn’t any sense of character or emotion with animation. With the breakthrough film of Steamboat Willie, the third of the Mickey Mouse series, things were a changing. It was the first cartoon that included a full post-produced soundtrack, featuring voice and sound effects printed on the film itself. This short film showed an anthropomorphic mouse named Mickey. Mickey had been neglecting his work on the steamboat, and was instead making music using the numerous animals that were on the boat. With the creation of Mickey Mouse, it gave animation a sense of character that it had never had before.

After it’s success, Warner Brothers Cartoons was founded in 1933. The biggest break for the new studio (and for animation in general) was Disney’s release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. It was the first animated feature film, and it was completely made using hand-drawn animation. You could say that Mr. Disney took animation to the next level….and then some. At 83 minutes, it was considered long, and a huge risk for Disney, as no one believed it could be done, or would find an audience who cared.

Yet, the adaptation of the Grimm Brother’s fairytale was a huge success, and with it began an era when Disney dominated the mainstream, and making a fortune at the box

office. It was the income from Snow White (42 million from U.S. and Canada alone) that allowed Disney the freedom to build a state-of-the-art studio in Burbank, California. He would follow Snow White with epic films such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi, just to name a few.

Disney was a master at combining a sharp story telling talent with masterful artistry. The result is an animation studio that is now responsible for creating some of the most beloved films ever made…..from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, to more current hits such as Frozen and Big Hero 6, the list is mind boggling. And it all started with a simple mouse named Mickey.

While most of us won’t have a Mickey Mouse creation in our lifetime, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from Mr. Disney’s genius in the story telling world of animation. Walt would be amazed at the fast-paced society today, but love how far the technology has come. The fast-paced society can pose a problem for businesses, as everyone everywhere is saturated….emails, texts, Facebook, linked in…ads are everywhere and we’re bombarded about every second of every day. Business and marking folks know that potential clients need to be entertained, not just presented with a boring script or facts on the company. How in the world do you capture the attention of today’s customer? As Disney would point out, you make them care, and grab their attention.

Video animation can be a powerful digital media tool, and allows companies to communicate effectively with an online audience of consumers. Video Animation’s strongest point is that it grabs attention right from the get go. With short attention spans abundant, it fits well with the consumers. It’s easy to watch, and fast and to the point…..it just communicates the point quickly. Let’s face it; most businesses have a few seconds to get the point across before folks move on to something else. According to a Forester Research study, one minute of video animation is worth 1.8 million words. No wonder video animation can also be easy to understand, whether the consumer is 8 or 102 years old. Animation can help transform the message, making it easier to understand and visualize. At the same time, if the animation is well done, it’ll keep your consumer audience engaged in the story or message. Overall, it creates a lasting impression, just like Mickey Mouse. Your audience will not only remember your company’s name, but it will leave an impression of what your company actually does.

So how about it. Ready for a little magic in your businesses life? Remember, in the words of Walt Disney, “If you dream it, you can do it.”

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The art of storytelling. It’s well known that storytelling is a basic need of human nature…has been since humans could draw stories on the cave walls. But why is it that some people are better than others at the craft? Even back in the caveman days, there was one Neanderthal whose cave wall was better than everyone else’s. Other cave dwellers would flock to his cave for story time, and why? Well, some humans can weave a tale better than others. They are better storytellers. Period.

We all love different kinds of stories; some folks love mysteries and the who-done-it; or horror stories that go bump in the night; while others prefer warm and fuzzy romances or the magic of fantasy fiction. And while every story genre isn’t for everyone, the basic story itself and its components are. Storytelling, at its core, is pure art. And those who have mastered that art get put on a pedestal of sorts. What do these folks up on the pedestal know that we don’t? While storytelling may be a basic part of our human existence, it doesn’t mean that skill is easy for everyone. Some excel at the storytelling part, while others prefer just to listen and soak it in. Some are better at telling stories visually, while others are masters at the written word.

Every famous storyteller has different opinions and ways of organizing and unfolding their story. But all these gifted weavers seem to come from the same place of basic storytelling principles, each with their own expertise in different areas. And it’s more than just the beginning, middle, and the end. Take Walt Disney, who was a master at using details to create an over-the-top experience; if you’ve ever been immersed in one of his films or theme parks, you understand the attention to detail. Or how about the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales – talk about immersing yourself into the story – their stories were full of witches, demons and assorted wicked stepmothers, and basically reflected life in the 18th century. And life wasn’t exactly easy in Central Europe around this time – religious leaders forced the Grimm Brothers to modify their tales, making them less gory and violent. But, let’s face it, life isn’t easy, and it can be gory and violent. Some classic favorites from the Grimm’s include Snow White, Cinderella, and Little Red Riding Hood. Or take a master storyteller from the current generation, Stephen King. King is best at taking our darkest fears and bringing them out into the light of day….And that doesn’t make them any less scary.

Instead of listing out categories and bullet points on why these legends are great storytellers, and what you need for a great story, we thought we’d share their actual wisdoms, their actual quotes, on the art. It’s much more fun to read, and frankly, then we get the wisdoms directly from their own mouth. They all knew the “secret” to storytelling, which isn’t a secret at all. Tell a good story – tell it well – and the people listening or reading or watching – will care about it.

“If I can’t find a theme, I can’t make a film anyone else will feel. I can’t laugh at intellectual humor. I’m just corny enough to like to have a story hit me over the heart.” – Walt Disney

“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” – Leo Tolstoy

“There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story…don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words – the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” – Stephen King

“Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we’re here.” – Sue Monk Kidd

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” – Rudyard Kipling

“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” – Brandon Sanderson

“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms” – Muriel Rukeyser

“What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.” – Rabih Alameddine

“Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.” – Alan Moore

“When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.” – Mary Higgins Clark

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” – Joan Didion

“To hell with facts! We need stories!” – Ken Kesey

“There is something in us, as storytellers and listeners to stories, that demands the

redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored.” – Flannery O’Connor

“It had been starling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up themselves like grass.”  – Eudora Welty

“A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” – Graham Greene

“Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.” – John Green

“It’s like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you want you are. We build ourselves out of that story.” – Patrick Rothfuss

“The more you leave out, the more you highlight what you leave in.” – Henry Green

“Every great love starts with a great story…” – Nicholas Sparks

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” – Erin Morgenstern

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” – Philip Pullman

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rachael@doukasmedia.com