Ladies: Making the most of your Social Media presense?

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This one is especially for the ladies, but this article by Lani Rosales gives some great pointers for making the most of your time online. From managing emails and time to the best tools for engaging with others, this article will knock your socks off.

  • Tell me about some of the tools you’ve tried before. Which were the most successful, and why?

Beyond Social: Leverage Your Online Networks

Rosales post corporate-social-mediaby Lani Rosales

You’re a top executive, a business leader in your industry and community. You need to use social media, but how are you supposed to engage with your networks without wasting time or becoming a slave to the pinging sound of someone mentioning your Twitter handle online?

First, I will explain how most high-level executives engage with social media; then, how to choose your own path; and finally, I’ll share some of my favorite tools to limit the chaos.

How most executives engage online

1. The broadcaster: This executive will share links to the company blog, news stories from within their industry, and interesting tidbits. You won’t see them respond to others, or ask questions, but rather put out information that expands their personal brand. People follow them as an influencer.

2. The interactive: This executive not only shares information from within their industry, they use social media as a listening post, setting up alerts on their phone for any time their personal account is mentioned so they can respond. They retweet others, they answer direct messages. They are always in conversation while they’re engaged on a social network.

3. The personality: This executive talks about their dogs, their kids, what they’re eating, which staff member had a birthday today. They’ll engage their friends and customers with the same tone. They’re typically magnetic online, and they are comfortable retweeting others and encouraging people instead of competing with them for the limelight.

Choose your own path

The biggest mistake one can make is to emulate their competitor online. Sure, watch them, but blaze your own path. What are you like offline? Let that be your online persona as well.

After choosing your persona, you’ll want to test it out. Before you go signing up for every single social network on the planet, dig around to find out (or have someone from marketing present to you) what your staff is doing with the company brand already, and what your team is doing with social media personally.

This is a great shortcut, because they can tell you if your customers care more about Twitter or Reddit, Facebook or LinkedIn. Social networks are not created equal, and the best use of your time is to connect with relevant consumers.

Use tools that will keep you sane

I’m a tool addict, so instead of sharing with you every tiny app I use, I’ll offer my most useful timesavers, because the easier it is for you to use social networks, the more likely it is that you’ll engage effectively. Here,

1. First, you must, must, must check out IFTTT. It stands for “If This, Then That.” This bad boy automates and integrates different aspects of your digital life. You can set up “recipes” so that when you do X, Y happens automatically without your touching a thing ever again..

With IFTTT, you can get text alerts or phone calls any time someone mentions you on practically any social network; you can automatically tweet every Facebook status update you make; get a text any time one specific customer or staffer emails or tweets you. You can even make your car automatically email your mechanic a report when your “check engine” light goes on. The combinations are endless.

2. Spend an hour this week with your devices. Go into the settings on every single social network you’ve set up and either turn push notifications on or off, depending on your preferences. Update every app so you have all of the bells and whistles available (don’t assume that the Twitter you downloaded a year ago is the same, it’s not).

3. Get to know your email system. A lot of social networking can be done from your email inbox, and you will find yourself setting up alerts there. Most email systems (Outlook and Gmail especially) can be augmented with extensions that can reduce the amount of time you’re spending in your inbox. Plus, many email systems play nicely with your existing CRM, and you may not be aware of how deeply ingrained social media is with CRMs these days, so brush up on features of both.

Bonus: while we’re talking about email, go peek at Notify Me Not to reduce junk mail, try ToutApp to analyze your emailing behavior to spot timesucks, and try Inbox Pause to temporarily stop all emails so you can focus.

4. Use a dashboard to save time. I like HootSuite, even the free version—you can schedule tweets, Facebook status updates, or LinkedIn posts from one place, time them to be posted throughout the day, offering the appearance that you’re engaged online throughout the day, not just the moments you’re in front of a computer. You can monitor mentions, new fans, wall posts, and direct messaging, so spending 30 minutes a day scheduling your posts and checking in from time to time saves a ton of time.

I’ve also come to rely heavily on Buffer, which is what I personally use to schedule messages throughout the day. I open my feed reader (I recommend Feedly) every morning and from within the reader, I can share posts that I think my audiences will like, determine which social networks I want to share it from, write a note, and hit “buffer” and it puts it in queue and automatically goes out throughout the day(s) without me having to pick out times.

5. Get updates in your downtime. At the store in line, waiting on hold, flying and so forth, spend a few minutes on some sites that you know will offer quick, useful information. Find something you enjoy that is packed full of tips for professionals, like Lifehacker or AGBeat, and randomly use Google as often as you can. Have two minutes? Google “productivity tools for [your industry],” “Top people to follow on Twitter in [your industry] or [your city],” and so forth. Get addicted to absorbing information. This tiny time investment will trim down your chaos long-term.

The main takeaway is that you can do this. It can be fun and useful. Find your own path, choose your own time commitment, and pull the trigger in a time-conscious way.

 

Lani RosalesLani Rosales is the COO of AGBeat.com and sister site Realuoso.com, Co-Founder of TheBashh.com, and has been repeatedly named as one of the industry’s 100 Most Influential Leaders. She is a seasoned business and tech writer who has published one business book and has two more in the works. As a digital native, Lani is immersed not only in advanced technologies and new media, but is also a stats nerd often buried in piles of reports. Lani prefers beer to fancy cocktails or fine wines, thank you. Connect with her personally at Facebook.com/LaniAR and Twitter.com/LaniAR.

 

CC Licensed image for commercial use and adaptation via Wikimedia.

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User Personas in Research

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MailChimp is arguably the most accessible and fun to use email marketing company ever. Their practices have certainly influenced the way my company writes our software, and I’ve noticed myself using their blog as a serious source of inspiration …and if I’m really being honest, a reference guide.

Below is a re-blog of an excellent post on user personas.


 

New MailChimp: User Persona Research

A few weeks ago, MailChimp’s DesignLab posted images of our User Personas to their blog. As Jason explained there, we wanted to find out who really uses MailChimp. It was a question posed to us by data analyst Allison last year. We could broadly generalize about our users (savvy, self-reliant, techie, motivated), but we realized that we couldn’t rattle off the four or five archetypical MailChimp users.

What we needed was a clear idea of our current users, so we could better empathize with them, and in turn design for and delight them—especially with amassive redesign on the horizon. To reconcile who we think uses MailChimp with who really uses MailChimp, fellow researcher Steph and I embarked on a long-term study of our customers to learn who they are; what, why, and how often they send; what kinds of issues they face; where they work; and what kind of people they are. This helps us understand how MailChimp fits into their day-to-day lives, which in turn empowers us to design smarter.

So, how’d we do it?

 

Step 1: Interview MailChimp stakeholders to see who we assume our customers are

Our interviews with decision makers here at MailChimp were illuminating. When we asked, “Who do you think uses MailChimp?” nearly all of our subjects identified the same characteristics: smart, self-reliant, and techie. Steph and I decided to model an “ideal user,” Fred, after the aggregate data we collected from those interviews.

Fred is a great tool for a couple of reasons. First, he exposes our biases and assumptions. Second, he reminds us of the level of expertise we’d ideally like to see in our customers. He tells us to design MailChimp to empower our customers to communicate smartly and efficiently.

Step 2: Rank our pool of active users by industry

We took a close look at the industries people selected when they signed up for MailChimp. Turns out, nonprofits, education, and the arts represent a huge number of MailChimp customers. This was helpful, because we thought specifically about them as we redesigned the app. We could start to contextualize where folks will be when they use MailChimp, and in what capacity.

Step 3: Identify subjects from popular industries and interview, interview, interview

We took several of the top industries and started contacting users for in-person interviews. We met those customers at their workplaces—to present us with not only a human face, but a sense of the environment in which a MailChimp campaign is created. For instance, is the office quiet, or is there a lot of foot traffic? Is the computer a newer model or something outdated? What terms or phrases did our customers use to describe their work, their situations, and their emotional states? We ended up traveling to speak to customers in North America and Europe, focusing on Atlanta, Paris, London, and Madrid.

Step 4: Analyze what we saw and heard

After we visited folks at their offices, we organized and tagged our findings, and then looked for patterns. We discovered a lot of similarities across different roles or types of customers. For example, we had initially thought of our advertising agency customers as much different from our communications consultant customers; we think of agencies as big groups with lots of moving parts, and consultants as independent operators. But both sets of users manage multiple campaigns for many clients simultaneously, and thus use MailChimp in similar capacities.

At the same time, both our public relations and administrative assistant customer groups described themselves as too busy to learn all of MailChimp’s features; they hardly have time in their days to set up and send a campaign—much less learn and implement new functions.

Step 5: Share our findings with the team

When all was said and done, we ended up with five archetypical MailChimp personas: Fred, our “ideal” user based on our internal interviews; Andre, our developer persona; Eliza, our PR manager; Ada, the receptionist; and Mario, the studio consultant. These personas are meant to serve as guides as we design and develop MailChimp—who struggles with time and tasks? Who is quick to adopt advanced features?

We wanted to share these personas with the rest of the MailChimp crew in a way that’s easy to grasp at a glance. Our UX Director Aarron suggested we turn our personas into posters. Using tags from our interview analyses, Justin and Jasonfrom DesignLab went to work and created posters that now adorn the walls of MailChimp HQ. They’re hanging right by the espresso machine, where people from around the office congregate. Our hope is that the posters get employees talking about our users and their needs over a cup of coffee.

Some of the descriptions we used on the posters raised a few eyebrows around the office. “Isn’t ‘inefficient’ a criticism?” “What’s up with ‘profiteer?’” We strived for honesty in creating our descriptions. Profiteer is not a judgement—we have users who want to make buckets of money. How can we help? Likewise, inefficient is not a criticism—we have customers who need more hours in the day and acknowledge they could be working smarter. What can we do for them?

We realize that personas aren’t representative of all MailChimp customers; instead, we think of these personas as a snapshot in time of common users, knowing that their shelf-life is limited. In the short term, these personas were a big influence on our redesign process: we thought more about how teams collaborate and how individuals work in a multi-screen world. The personas also influenced our UX research team. Our five personas are a good start, but sometimes they could be the same person on different days, or there might be enough space to warrant additional, feature-specific personas to add a bit of nuance. They’ll help guide us as we consider new features and functionality for MailChimp users. Now, instead of wondering who really uses MailChimp, we can ask more pointedly, “Who would use this feature?”

 

 

 


 

  • Do you identify with any of the personas MailChimp developed?