MT: Mountain or Molehill

In the Twitterverse, RT means ReTweet and MT means Modified Tweet. So, what makes a tweet modified and when should it be used? Good question so glad you asked. Since I learned about Modified Tweets, which is a higher level of Twitter etiquette, I’ve tried to use them whenever appropriate. To start, I’ll give you an example of when an I would have appreciated an MT instead of an RT.

Back when I attended Blog Her Food 2012 in Seattle, I attended a very interesting and provocative morning keynote entitled: The Intersection of Brands, Bloggers, Ethics and Opportunities. As with the rest of the conference, I used the tweets from Twitter account for my food blog @kitchenettefind  as a way to keep shorthand notes of thoughts and quotes I found insightful, useful or thought-provoking. It was an excellent way to interact with other attendees without being disruptive and to keep track of what was going on in the other areas of the conference as many people were tweeting throughout.

Though there were many interesting moments and thoughts, it seemed that Alicia McGlamory from Masterbuilt (makers of fryers, grills and smokers) stirred up the most controversy. She was representing the point of view of brands that are often approached by food bloggers and she generated quite  a strong response in the room and on Twitter. One of my tweets that quoted Alicia got a small reaction as well.

When @mizmaggieb quoted my tweet she took out “your blog”, but she also took out the original quote attribution to @Masterbuilt (Alicia McGlamory’s corporate Twitter handle). Now, all the people in the room with us knew that these were not my words. But, given that @mizmaggieb has more than 6 times the followers that @kitchenettefind has, there would be a lot of people who would read her re-tweet of my mangled quote and assume they were my words. Now this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, or even in the little petty plan of things, but if you want to make friends in the Twitterverse treat their words with respect and acknowledge when they’ve been edited.

When should MT be used instead of RT? Anytime the re-tweeter shortens, replaces, corrects or inserts anything into the original tweet. That way, if you have changed the meaning in any way (intentionally or not) you are taking responsibility for the adjustment. I use it all the time when I’m shortening a tweet so I can re-share it with an addition or if I’m only interested in part of the tweet. I also sometimes add hashtags or remove links or other Twitter handles. The MT also lets other Twits know to check the source material (i.e. the original tweet) before they take the quote as verbatim.

The strength of the online community is based on respect and the etiquette that we create and conform to as a group. I will always use MT when it is appropriate to show my consideration for other’s words, thoughts and ideas.

Have you been RT’ed when you should  have been MT’ed? Do you or will use MT?

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Soda Social

Some people jump into Social Media and make up the rules as they go along, some people fall in and flub the rules as they go, others are lucky enough to have someone to guide (read: drag) them in and teach them the ropes. At different times I have filled all these roles: Jumper, Flailer, Dragee and Guide. That’s the thing about social networks, we all have to start somewhere and the more the merrier. I’d been pushing my friend to be more active on Twitter and a weekend trip to Seattle seemed  the perfect time to give her a gentle shove.

She’d recently discovered Instagram and with her visual arts and design background it was a more comfortable fit than just simple text-based Twitter. One night, while enjoying a delicious dinner at Lark in Capitol Hill neighbourhood, we were really impressed by the flavour of the cucumber soda from a local company called Dry Soda:

We were so taken with the one Dry Soda we’d tried that we tracked down a sampling of their other flavours and hauled them back to our hotel room. After polishing off the Wild Lime, I arranged the bottles on the window ledge, my friend shot and shared through Instagram and the image above went out on Twitter:

A couple of days later it was retweeted by @drysoda:

After getting her permission, they then shared the image on their website. This is something they do regularly and is a great way to encourage and connect with fans of their product.

I retweeted the image with my food blog Twitter account, which was then re-re-tweeted by Sharelle Klaus the CEO of Dry Soda on her Twitter account, @CEOdry:

I just think this is a really fun example of how brands can interact and build relationships with fans and customers on Social Media.

Have you had any interesting online run-ins with businesses or brands on Twitter or Instagram?

The Business of Blogging

Last month I drove to Seattle to take part in the BlogHer Food 2012 two-day conference. It was a weekend packed with information, opportunities and, of course, lots of delicious food. While I met lots of amazing food bloggers (celebrity and just plain folk), I found the brands (and the people who represented the companies) that participated and supported the conference equally fascinating. During the keynote breakfast we were encouraged to get to know our table mates, so I had the pleasure of chatting with Cindy from Land O’Lakes butter, she is their test kitchen manager and a contributor to their test kitchen blog. We had a lovely chat and it was interesting to hear about her viewpoint as a brand blogger.

All throughout the conference there was a lot of discussion about independent food bloggers working with brands, for brands and sometimes working against them. What this really reinforced for me was the need for brands and companies to have their own blog to make sure their perspective and voice is shared truly with the blog world and not only through the lenses of individual bloggers.

Here’s what a blog can do for your business:

Educate: A blog provides an interactive and informative platform to tell potential customers about the benefits of your products and/or services.

Examples: A series of tutorials on how something works or a behind the scenes piece on how your product is made.

Engage: The episodic nature of blogs is a great way to keep people coming back and keeping them up to date.

Examples: Seasonal posts or weekly features 

Entertain: Blogs are informal, they can break down the barrier between a faceless business and people who want a piece of it.

Examples: Share the stories about your company and the people who make it special. Are you pranksters, volunteers or triathletes?

Create a blog that is the source and the resource for your business.

If you have a business blog, how has it helped your business? If your business doesn’t have a blog, what is holding you back?

Facebook Fan Page Possibilities

Facebook is the virtual place to be for businesses looking to engage with customers and keep them up to date on the latest and greatest. Since it is free and easy to set up there is no reason you shouldn’t have a Facebook Page, unless of course you intend to do a poor job of setting it up and then never check it. But you wouldn’t do that, right?

Let’s take a look at a local foodie business’s Facebook Page and see what they are doing right. I recently checked out Soirette Macarons & Tea based on a blogger Joseph Mallozzi’s recommendation . The man knows his macarons.

Overall, the page is well done with lots of interaction from the fans and, fortunately, macarons are highly photogenic!

Strengths

  • Posting frequency: updates almost daily
  • Photos: lots of them!
  • Interaction: likes and replies to fan comments

Areas for Improvement

  • More “About”: Include the story of Soirette
  • Include Twitter and Pinterest links: @soirettemacaron & Soirette Macarons & Tea
  • Video: Maybe a little something like the following that I shot and edited on my iPad:

Do you think a video tour of the store and products would bring a certain je ne sais quoi to Soirette’s page?

Is Your Business a Big Wheel?

“What people in the world think of you is really none of your business.”
―Martha Graham

Agreed! But what the people in the world think of your business IS your business. There are people discussing your business online right now. Good, bad, ugly or totally untrue you need to be aware of the conversations and decide whether you should take part as well.

The interweb is a big place, so first you need to track down the chin wags that affect your business specifically and your industry in general. Fortunately there are free tools at the ready:

  • Google Alerts – email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your queries.
  • Monitter– a real time search tool that monitors a set of keywords on twitter. Able to search a geographic location.
  • Addictomatic – searches for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images.
  • How Sociable – measures the magnitude of your brand.
  • Twitalyzer – Twitter’s most powerful and popular analytics application. (free for first 7 days)

OK, so you’ve tracked down the Chatty Cathys, now what are they saying about your business and what do you do with it? Using Big Wheel Burger in Victoria, BC as an example we’ll see if the chatter is positive (+1), negative (-1) or neutral (0).

Let’s take a look at what Monitter pulled out of the Twitterverse:

(+1)

(0)

(0)

(0)

(+1)

(+1)

http://twitter.com/LittleLeagueYYJ/status/213832901446479873

(+1)

(0)

(+1)

(0)

The final tally for 10 tweets:

5 neutral

5 positive

0 negative

According to this quick survey, Big Wheel Burger is a pretty big deal in Victoria with a loyal fan base. You can see that they are actively monitoring and participating in Twitter conversations about their brand, which they do on their Facebook page as well. They also have a feedback form on Facebook as well, great idea!

What are you doing to make your business a Big Wheel? Are you listening? Are you replying? Are you asking for feedback?

Social Media Takes the Cake

Can Social Media take the cupcake to another level? Cupcakes have been a food trend ever since the Magnolia Bakery in New York was featured on Sex and the City and this hilarious SNL video. Since then cupcake specific bakeries have been popping up all over the world. Some have disappeared and others have managed to outlast the fad. I have tried to sample as many as the cupcake offerings in British Columbia as possible, it’s only fair to the cupcakes. While all were very attractive, there is only one bakery that has cupcakes so good that I think about them daily and will pay a bridge toll just to taste them again: Frostings Cupcakery in Langley. Part of the reasonI think about them every day, besides their sumptuous cupcakes, is their presence on social media.

I shared the photo below on Twitter and Facebook through Instagram last week and it was retweeted by @frostingcupcake with the comment “Hey, we recognize those :-)”. While I did pay for the regular size ones, the little mini red velvet cupcake at the bottom was a freebie I earned by checking in at their store using FourSquare. They have three specials set up through FourSquare, including 10% off for the mayor (it pays to be important). On Frostings’ Facebook Page they share their daily line up of flavours, so because I’ve “liked” their page, it pops up in my home feed tempting me every day.

Using Social Media to engage, reward and remind their customers, Frostings has created a loyal following. Let’s compare the stats for Frostings to another more established cupcake bakery in Vancouver: Original Cupcakes on Denman.

Frostings Cupcakery Vs. Original Cupcakes

2009 – year established – 2002

1449 – Facebook Page Likes – 527

98 – people talking about them on Facebook – 21

2736 – number of Tweets – 602

1355 – Twitter Followers – 3702

618 – Following on Twitter – 46

233 – FourSquare Checkins – 338

40 – Klout Score – 37

Though Original Cupcakes has been around seven years longer and has more than double the amount of Twitter followers than Frostings Cupcakery, Frostings’ followers and fans are much more engaged with their more active and interactive Social Media presence. If you think that’s impressive, wait until you taste their cupcakes!

Update: June 13, 2012

When I tweeted this post I included Frostings’ Twitter handle @frostingcupake and got the nicest reply:

Video: Hootsuite: Owl You Really Need?

I’ve used HootSuite to manage my social media profiles for a while and I recently upgraded to the Pro Plan, going from free to $5.99 USD per month. The limit of 5 social profiles was feeling constricting and I was becoming more interested in the custom analytics available. I love that HootSuite is a local tech company in downtown Vancouver and that they seem to be committed  to staying here. Not to mention that the owl mascot is adorable! Go ahead and “like” the Meat of the Message Facebook page and you’ll be in the loop with my latest scoop (I promise they won’t all rhyme).

Do you use HootSuite? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what’s holding you back?

Can Social Media Be a Piece of Pie?

 
Peachy Keen
Peach pie may not seem that scary to you, but it was a pastry that I regarded with fear. Just as many have fears about using Twitter or Google+. I love pie and I have very high standards when it comes to the crust. I would buy frozen tart shells or make a graham cracker crust to avoid trying my hand at creating a perfect flaky crust. Until one day, laden with a bushel of perfectly ripe peaches, I knew it was time to master a lattice crust. Grabbing a few trusted cookbooks, I researched what the pros said about pie. Armed with a scale for precise measurements and a can-do attitude, I rolled up my sleeves and got flour and fat under my fingernails. The resulting pie was better than I hoped it would be and I know it tasted that much sweeter because I’d faced my fear and come out on top with a pie!
Social media can seem daunting from a distance, but once you do your preparation and get some hands on experience you’ll see it’s just a matter of getting comfortable. Plus, the rewards can be rich. With traditional advertising losing people’s attention and respect, companies need to find new ways to engage consumers and expose them to their product or service.
Break It Down
The first step is to figure out your target market and find the networks that they like to engage in. Facebook is pretty much a no brainer at this point. Everybody and their grandmother is on Facebook and a business page is free and fairly low maintenance. Linked In is another low maintenance site that connects more with the business crowd, great for business to business services!  Twitter is becoming the method of choice for connecting with brands by individuals for expertise or customer service. If you’re targeting a female audience and your product or service has a visual appeal, Pinterest is the place to be. For bricks and mortar business, Foursquare is a great way to see who your most loyal customers are and what they are sharing about your business. Now, Google+ had a lot of buzz that hasn’t converted into a whole lotta love, but maybe it’s time to take a second look at some of their new features.
 Digg It
If you’ve read the linked articles about some of the top networks and want to get more info on Social Media options check out Digg, a site that compiles articles submitted by users. The more people who “Digg” an article, the more exposure it gets. Once your research is done, and you’ve picked the best place to start, embrace the experience and get the most out of it.
Even better than a piece of cake, Social Media can be a piece of pie: Worth the effort! So, where are you going to put your peaches?

Mama Meter

Social Media can seem like a limitless void that we toss useful information into and apparently get very little back. That is why it is so important to set goals for each media campaign and measure the results. Also, with the ever quickening pace at which new social networks are appearing great care must be taken when selecting the best channels to use when sharing the chosen message.

In honour of Mothers’ Day’s fast approach Meat of the Message will conduct a test of Facebook compared to Twitter at spreading the word about Campagnolo Restaurant’s brunch, Mothers’ Day being the biggest brunching day of the year. Campagnolo’s Facebook Page has 600 fans and the Twitter account has 2013 followers. I’ll be comparing Facebook “likes” vs. Twitter retweets (1 point each) and Facebook “shares” & comments vs. Twitter tweets and mentions (2 points each as these show greater engagement). I’ll update this post on Monday with the results.

Let the games begin and don’t forget to do something thoughtful for the Mothers in your life!

Update: Monday, May 14 2012

Well, we have a clear winner. Using Tweet Reach to assess the audience that received the tweet sent by @campagnolomain at 4:50 pm on May 10th : “Show your mama a little Itailan love for brunch, Sunday May 13, 11:30am – 2:30pm. Single stem flowers & Bar… http://fb.me/1QltmUrEW” it showed that there were no retweets, so the reach was 2017 accounts, which is the number of followers of Campagnolo’s Twitter handle. I also searched “@Campagnolomain”, “Campagnolo brunch” and “Campagnolo” on Twitter and couldn’t find any mentions.

Facebook Insights provided a few options to measure the interaction with the status update posted on Campagnolo’s Facebook Page May 10, 2012: “Show your mama a little Itailan love for brunch, Sunday May 13, 11:30am – 2:30pm. Single stem flowers & Bar Director Giovanni’s cocktails go a long way.” Right underneath the update, it’s clear that 6 people “liked” the update and one person shared it. Insights calculates that the reach as 208 unique people who have seen the update, the number of engaged users as 12 (number of unique people who have clicked on the post, so 6 who clicked “like” and 6 who clicked elsewhere), and the virality (percentage of people who created a story from the post) at 2.88%.

To calculate points for interactions: Twitter scored a big fat zero and Facebook scored 8 points. The conclusion I would make is that bigger is not always better, with more than three times the number of followers to fans, the Facebook post garnered much more attention and interaction. Also, Facebook posts have a longer shelf life of 22-24 hours, while tweets go stale after 1 hour! So, tweet, tweet again.

Interestingly, I found out that Campagnolo’s Mothers’ Day Brunch was not nearly as successful as last years. Though looking back, a very similar Facebook update (no likes or shares) and tweet (no retweets) were sent out. There are obviously other factors affecting the popularity of Mama’s brunching at Campagnolo than social media coverage. I definitely believe that by using social media channels more effectively that the brunch could have been more successful. It’s encouraging that the Facebook fans are becoming more engaged and if only a bit more effort is spent on social media it seems that Facebook would be the place to start as Twitter needs to hear things over and over. Most Mamas can relate to that!

Reflected Glory

Helping my husband realize his dream of opening his own restaurant was one of the most gratifying achievements of my life. For years we talked, imagined and sketched out what our restaurant would be like. The food, the room, the staff, the menus, we discussed and detailed every little item. Eating at restaurants became an exercise in what we would and wouldn’t do. But once the restaurant was a reality, it was his day-to-day place of employment and I was still at my credit union job. I realized that I didn’t want to work in a restaurant, I just wanted to create them and make them successful.

I found my new role was helping him imagine new restaurant concepts and turning those into bricks and mortar. As I took Communications and Public Relations courses through BCIT’s Marketing Management program, I discovered another way that I could support him and his ventures. Rather than spending money on traditional restaurant advertising, my husband and his business partner invested in a Public Relations Manager. She brought food writers into the restaurants and found opportunities for editorial promotions. I pushed the restaurants into the world of social media by setting up Facebook pages and helping the managers to generate content.

One of the most exciting challenges I set up for myself was a confectionary tasting for Vancouver’s premiere food bloggers. I invited, organized, hosted and live Tweeted the event and met some fascinating food lovers in the process. I created the website, set up and ran the Facebook and Twitter pages and did all the photography for the company. Unfortunately, the pastry chef moved back to his home province and the confections are no more.

But what I took away from these experiences was the understanding that I am not really meant to be the star in the spotlight, I’ll be the one directing the spotlight on the deserving talent and enjoy the occasional flash of their reflected glory.