Telecommuting Tips from the Social Media Experts

Living in the digital age, our working capabilities have expanded greatly. One of the most noteworthy progressions is the ability to work from home - or anywhere in the world, for that matter. Working remotely comes with some serious benefits, such as the time and stress you save not having to commute to an office - not to mention getting to spend all day in yoga pants! It can however, present some roadblocks and potentially make you feel out of touch with your co-workers and the needs of your client. Here are a few ways you can ensure you're staying ahead of the curve and getting the job done.

Communication

This may seem like a no-brainer, but we are creatures of habit and you might be surprised how easily we fall into the same routine. Communicating and checking-in consistently with your clients allow you to reassure them you understand the visions for their brands, and are continually putting forth efforts to make those visions into realities. 

Talking regularly with your co-workers is equally important. Bouncing thoughts and ideas off of one another is an effective tool to keep the creativity flowing. While you may not have the water cooler or coffee pot to chat around, email, text, chat, and phone conversations are still readily accessible. 

Get a "local voice" 

The primary resource that enables you to work remotely (the internet) is your best tool for allowing you to learn about your client, as if you were there in person. In order to embody an authentic "voice" for your client, it's important to research the local area. See what other local businesses are doing on their social media. Look up posts with city related hashtags to see what resident fans are interested in. Many credible, local news outlets are available online as well. 

Time

Be aware what time works best for you, may not work best for your audience. Your client may be located in a different time zone than you and it's important to know when their highest engagement time is so you can capitalize on that. 

Maintaining a schedule and setting work "boundaries" will help you stay focused. It's easy to blur the lines between home life and work life. Creating a schedule with set hours will increase productivity, establish availability, and maintain expectations. 

By communicating regularly, researching your clients location, and implementing effective time management you will successfully overcome the difficulties of working remotely. 

Why Manual App Became a Social Marketer's Best Friend

If you are a social media marketer who takes photos for social media on your phone, my guess is that you have encountered some problems using the iPhone camera. Whether its too dim, too bright, or any other myriad of problems that you might have encountered, there may be a solution now.

The iPhone app Manual just released a new feature that iPhone photographers and social media marketers should be ecstatic over. You can now take RAW photos on your phone. Manual has always been an amazing app for iPhone photography because it allows the user to adjust the exposure with much more control than the standard iPhone camera tool. It has a manual focus slider, and even allows you to adjust the ISO and shutter speed. All of that is useful if you are someone who knows about all those various settings, however the new update is useful to a lot of other people who have never even heard those terms before. 

RAW files are a type of file that cameras create that have minimal processing on the various aforementioned settings. This allows for a much wider range of post processing to the photo without having to damage the contents of the photo. What does that mean though? Well to put it simply, RAW files allow a photo editor to manually adjust things like how much light is in the photo (exposure), how much contrast there is, what temperature and tint settings should be, all after having taken the photo; whereas with a standard JPEG photo, you have to manually adjust it before taking the photo, or risk damaging the photo later on when it is edited. Photographers have been using RAW files for quite some time, but they are generally limited to cameras that most consumers who aren't photography fans wouldn't have. Now your phone can take them, and it will change the game.

Many social media marketers taking photos on their iPhone have encountered the lighting issues that come with taking photos on an iPhone. IPhones really aren't the greatest at adjusting to lighting in dim light or bright light, which can be a problem if you are covering an event or your company has a physical building when it's sunny. That is what is great about the RAW format - you can bring back some of those pieces that might be lost initially. In order to fully utilize the RAW file though you need an app that can actually individually edit those qualities.

Currently there isn't a numerous selection of photo editing apps on iPhone that can deal with RAW files, however they certainly are on their way. For now, if you have a Adobe Lightroom, you can download and use the Lightroom App on your phone or iPad. The Lightroom mobile app is really nice as it is basically the full Lightroom from desktop but on your phone. This app, mixed with the power of Manual's RAW file, can take most photos and enhance them however you want. Mastin Lab's Filmborn app announced that they will be supporting RAW in the future, as well as a few other reputable editing apps, but those updates haven't been released yet.

Gone are the days of it being too dark to use your iPhone camera at the next client event, too bright because of the sunny day, or photos with too much contrast. Together, these apps can allow your social photos to most accurately portray your brand through all the abilities to edit the photos. For anyone not familiar with photo editing, this may seem daunting, but it really only requires a little reading to know the controls and what is important. It is also worth noting, that even with RAW files, you should aim to get the settings right when you take the photo if you can to ensure quality. If you have one of your employees taking photos for social, or if your company utilizes Instagram frequently, it would be to your benefit to get these apps so that your photos are always on brand, and look great. Even if you don't take photos for a client for social, this is a great opportunity for your own personal photos!

Crush That Writer’s Block

At some point, it happens to all of us. You sit down to write, but the words just aren’t there. It happens because writers aren’t machines - even machines need an oil change and tune up once in a while. When you have a million items on your to-do list, creative time can easily fall by the wayside. It’s one of the most important aspects of a social media manager’s job.  Anyone with a deadline for journalistic or other forms of writing has likely experienced writer’s block.

Here are some handy tips and tricks to help you stay focused and keep creating awesome content daily.

1.     Write at different times. If you usually write in the afternoon, try writing in the morning or evening. The change in time may be enough to create a fresh outlook. For me, evenings are great for getting some uninterrupted work done. Tasks from the day are behind me and I can focus on jotting down content ideas, catching up on some reading or to research new trends. For the early-bird, the hours before starting your work day might be most productive. Break your habit and experiment to see what works best for you.

2.     Change of scenery. Moving around in your office can get you out of a stale mindset and allow you to gain a fresh perspective in new surroundings. Try changing up locations twice a day. When the weather cooperates, try bringing your computer or notebook outdoors. Fresh air has a way of changing your mood and outlook, which is good news for your next project!

3.     Try something different. Sometimes it’s possible to be too familiar with a topic. Agency life can mean working in the same industry, with the same clients for years. After awhile, it becomes easy to get stuck in a rut. Try looking at your topic from a different perspective and research new ideas or trends to keep it fresh and interesting to read AND write.

4.     Take a break. Short breaks are a great way to stay motivated. As research has shown, we’re actually more productive when we break up our work routine throughout the day. Barring an immediate deadline, there is usually some time to step away from your assignment and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.

5.     Crank up the tunes. Sometimes office chatter can be too much to bear. Music can provide some much-needed relief to those little conversations and “quick” meetings that can easily break your focus and concentration. If you find you have difficulty listening to music as you write, try queuing up a playlist that doesn’t have lyrics.

6.     Do the dishes. Your brain needs to relax before coming up with creative insight. Staring at your computer screen might end up being counterproductive. Try stimulating those creative muscles with routine tasks. Tidy your work space. Fold the laundry. Wash the dishes. Above all, relax.

7.     Talk it out. In order to beat your writer's block, try seeking inspiration from others around you. Bounce your ideas off friends and colleagues, or ask someone to brainstorm with you. Just having someone to talk to can often lead to creating ideas you never thought possible, helping ending your writer's block-induced creative drought.

There’s no doubt about it - writing is hard work. Don’t become a tortured genius. Experiment. Find out what works for you. Write where and when you like. Be as crazy as you like to be. Just have with it fun!

When It Comes to Creating Content, Question It

This week, we are pleased to present guest blogger and Thin Pig friend, Rebecca Frisch. An award-winning journalist with a diverse career spanning broadcast news, public relations and digital as well as social media, Rebecca is recognized for her ability to both shape and parse brands. Rebecca currently leads social medial and public relations for the Pacific Northwest's largest casino, Muckleshoot Casino. Connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/beccafrisch.

Which is right?

A.     The internet is an amazing fount of information for content marketing and strategy.

B.     The internet can be an intimidating maze of content marketing advice.

While the inclination is to state “A,” we’ve likely all had moments where we have mentally penciled in a “C” option for “all of the above.”

“Oh, that’s interesting. But, wait, that’s good, too.”

Content, Content Marketing Everywhere

A seemingly harmless Google of the phrase “content marketing” can send browsers down a rabbit warren of opinions thought leadership. “Content Marketing Made Simple.” “Seven Creative Ways to Revamp Your Content Marketing.” “How to Ace Content Marketing.” The headlines, and the Google returns, go on and on. And, while knowledge is power, what if you’re new(ish) to the field, a team of one (or few), wear multiple hats and have a content calendar that seems to be judging you?

First, breathe. No, really, take in a deep breath. Relax those shoulders. Didn’t know they were so tense, right? Now, the suggestion: just ask, “And, then?”

“Wait,” you think. “Did I just read advice inspired by the stoner classic, ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’” Yes. Yes, you did. A bit for levity, but more importantly for the reminder that maybe we’re not diving deep enough (or at all) into the content (read: information; see also: data) that’s right in front of us.

Don’t be Content with Content

Google alerts and content creation tools can help find related content, but what happens when you need to tell your brand’s story and the info is slim? Creating new posts can be as simple as asking yourself what more you can do with the news or objectives you already available. Granted, that’s easy to write. But, it’s not as hard to do in actuality as you might think. Let’s visualize it together.

Scenario 1: You’re in charge of social media for a hotel. Execs send you pics and ask you to work your magic. You post about the great news. “The renovation is over and new rooms are available for booking!” Done and done, right? Nope. That should just be the start.

Instead of stopping there, ask if you can reach out to the design team and, once given the okay, let your curiosity loose. Was there anything unique about the project or materials? Is the design meant to evoke a certain feeling or be reminiscent of a locale? Was there a challenge that was overcome? What happened to the old furnishings? Once you ask, you may discover there was a special effort made to introduce increased energy or water efficiency, that a local artist is responsible for the artwork over the beds, or that the old furnishings were donated to low-income families.

Now, keep going! Were the toiletries made just for your brand? Is it an exclusive, new scent? Are they all-organic? Is your brand the only hotel in the area to offer them?

Also, monitor third-party review sites which will likely start filling up with renovation reviews. They could provide interesting ideas of their own and could even be strong enough to stand alone. See where we’re going here?

Scenario 2: You’re in charge of content for a restaurant. Execs send you details on a new special along with a pic. You post about this delicious, limited time offering. On to the next, yes? No. Once again, pondering “what else” and taking the initiative to ask a few thoughtful questions could yield unexpected, but welcome new ways to re-frame the narrative. Perhaps, you discover the recipe is the idea of a waitress or a guest. Or, that everything on the plate is locally sourced. Or, that it’s one guy’s sole job to smoke all that yummy brisket, day in and out.   

Bottom Line: “Question” Your Content

While information (or data) is a great foundation for content strategy, it’s questions that will give it life. Our jobs aren’t just to tell our brand’s stories, but to reveal them, too. As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” And, if we may be so bold as to add a third line, “Ask and repeat.” Don’t wait for information to come to you. Question your content. Allow it to lead you somewhere unexpected. It will pay off, for you and your brand. Also, don’t forget. Once you have all this wondrous new content? Remix, reuse and reshare! (See what we did there?)