Social Media

Make the most out of your next conference

Katie Stocking is the founder and President at Happy Medium LLC.

I’m heading to SXSW, which is held in Austin from March 13-22, for my annual interactive inspiration for work. Hopefully you are also lucky enough to be able to attend a conference or two this year to help you expand your knowledge in your industry. Conferences are not only educational but also inspiring. Since the season is upon us, here are my tips for making the most of them! 

Make a game plan: It’s always a great idea to plan ahead, especially when you (or your company) is investing in you.

Networking: Part of your game plan should include how you plan to network. Make sure you take enough business cards; you’ll be passing them out like crazy! Depending on your situation, it might also make sense to bring some company swag to really stand out from the crowd. 

Recap each day: Whether you’re attending the event with other team members or on your own, take a few minutes at the end of each day to digest things you heard and learned. Organize your notes while they are fresh in your mind.

Take notes: Take your laptop or your favorite notebook and pen to make sure you get to take note of all the great ideas you’re hearing. Also, when entering a room, check to see if the speaker has provided any print outs of the presentation so you have a base to work from.

Live in the moment: While taking notes is important, it is also equally important to make sure you’re not too busy jotting down every word you hear, to really absorb the overall concepts and say hi to the people next to you. If you don’t make it to the specific talk you wanted to, jump into the nearest room; you never know what great information you might hear!

Go home with a plan: For me this is probably the most important tip. It’s really very easy to get back from being out of the office, into the E-mail soup you have to clean out and forget to implement anything you learned! Go home with an exact list of what you want to implement right away and also a list of things you want to implement in the future. Write down your exact plan, and it is much more likely to happen.

Enjoy your travels! Follow me this week while I’m at SXSW. I’ll be tweeting and Instagramming things I learn. @klstocking

Cause marketing converges on the Super Bowl

Katie Stocking is the founder and President at Happy Medium LLC.

Like every year, there was a lot of hype leading up to the Super Bowl, specifically around which brand would have the best ad. This year advertisers paid the starting rate of $4 million dollars. You read that right—$4 million for 30 seconds for 100 million eyeballs to see a commercial! And it goes up from there. A 60-second spot went for $8 million, which doesn’t even include production costs!

Studies have shown that 50 percent of the audience tunes in to the game solely for the ads. Talk about a captive audience! This year we saw an interesting shift in the ads as many brands focused on cause related marketing. One of my favorites this year was Always’ #LikeAGirl ad working to break the stereotypes of women. According to Adobe, the #LikeAGirl ad had the highest volume of mentions on social media, as well as the largest positive sentiment, with 84% of mentions focused on feelings like admiration and joy.

Because so many people watch the game for the commercials, it can be one of the best places for brands to invest marketing dollars because they know people are actually going to watch the ad, and if done well, they are going to talk about it. On the other hand, they may also talk about it even if not done so well, like the Nationwide commercial.

Social media was abuzz after the soberness of the Nationwide commercial. From a marketing standpoint, it carried a strong message and was well executed—it just didn’t seem like the right placement for the audience during the Big Game when people were looking for something happy and peppy to fit the celebration. Regardless of your thoughts on the ad, Nationwide received a tremendous amount of social media buzz from their ad that has generated awareness, which definitely counts for something!

Coca-Cola also pulled at the heartstrings by starring Robby Novak, known as the Internet’s beloved Kid President, who has Brittle Bone Disease. Their message was to make the Internet a ‘nicer’ place by targeting millennials who like to spend money on brands that are socially responsible. Unlike any other generation, affiliation with a cause is most important to millennials and their habits and buying patterns support this.

All of these brands did a great job sharing their message while integrating what they are passionate about supporting as a brand. In today’s digital world, consumers eagerly share about the causes that matter to them and want to support and purchase from brands that are socially responsible. It’s no longer an expectation—it’s a requirement.

Does a brand’s social responsibility play in to your purchase decisions? What was your favorite Super Bowl ad this year?

2015 social media resolutions

Katie Stocking is the founder and President at Happy Medium LLC.

The other day the strangest thing happened. We were expecting Santa to stop by the Happy Medium office when, instead, the Grinch showed up! As you know, he now has a heart three times the size it used to be so he was in pretty good glee, that is until we started talking about social media.

He snarled and sneered a bit, so his notes we writ.

We promised we would not, do these things in 2015 (at least not a lot):

1. Your business set up as a personal Facebook profile (aka a page someone has to “add friend” for your business). Enough is enough. Let’s get things on track since you don’t want the Zuck all over your back!

2. Not responding to comments or questions. You wouldn’t stare at someone in your store and not answer a question, so don’t do it on your social media platforms. If you can’t get to it, do the same thing you’d do in your store, get some help!

3. Over-hashtagging and wrong hashtagging: let's make something clear—#this#is#not#the#appropriate#way#to#hashtag #neitheristhisdoyouhear?

4. Vague-booking is the worst—it makes us want to burst. Just be open with the thoughts you’re posting or get yourself prepared for roasting.

5. Auto-posting from one platform to all the rest of your platforms—just make it go away, it ruins our day!

So do the Grinch a favor and pay great attention, we do not want to cause further tension! 2015 will be the best year yet, no sweat!

Web summit: The world talks about tech

Katie Stocking is the founder and President at Happy Medium LLC.

I recently attended Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland. In just five years, Web Summit has grown to be one of the largest tech conferences in the world. This year, more than 20,000 people gathered together from all around the world, turning Dublin into the international tech capital for three days.

Speakers included Dropbox founder, Drew Houston; Tinder Founder & CEO, Sean Rad; Evernote CEO, Phil Libin;  former Apple CEO, John Sculley; Cisco Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, Padmasree Warrior; Eva Longoria and many more. Women in tech, the future of media and digital advertising, and the Internet of things were hot topics amongst speakers and attendees. 

One presentation that stuck out to me the most was a quick, ten-minute talk called “Digital Marketing is Dead”. The title alone got me in the room and riled up to hear what this crank had to say about my livelihood. The “crank’ was Cillian Kieran, founder & CEO at CKSK, and he was incredibly inspiring.  What he meant by “Digital Marketing is Dead” is that digital should not be confined to just marketing, we should all be focused on becoming digital businesses.

So how do we become digital businesses? Primarily, we must stop thinking in silos. Digital permeates and transforms everything including manufacturing, logistics, distribution, IT, sales and, of course, marketing. We must develop digital technology horizontally across all business units and it starts at the very top of the organization.

Kieran provided seven observations for digital transformation, all of which are extremely important:

  1. Never fear failure. Be willing to break with your industry’s best practices.
  2. Assume nothing. Remember to question everything around you.
  3. Forget about consumers. Instead, remember real people.
  4. Solve a problem. Remember to be an engineer and make truly useful things.
  5. User experience is like fairy dust. Liberally sprinkle it on everything.
  6. Test and learn. Fast. Think of it as rinse, wash, repeat.
  7. Take (small) smart risks. Take 10 percent of your budget for agile experimentation.

Challenge yourself to go digital in your entire business, including marketing, and tweet me your thoughts @klstocking.



Social media advertising

Katie is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Brands are increasingly spending more and more money on social media advertising than ever before. In fact, according to Social Media Today, social marketing budgets will double over the next five years. That is a strong statistic that brands cannot continue to ignore.

At Happy Medium, we are dedicated to helping our clients not only use their marketing/advertising budgets efficiently but effectively. We do this by encouraging clients to always have a social strategy. Keep in mind that in order to have a social advertising strategy, you first have to have a social media strategy. While we have used many different social sites to advertise for clients, I am going to focus solely on a Facebook advertising strategy and why every business should have one (small or large budgets alike).

According to Shareaholic, “Facebook is the social network to end all social networks.” While I’m not sure it will end all social networks, Facebook does have an unmatchable ability to reach your target audience. A few facts from our friends at Facebook.

1 billion total monthly active users

58% of people on Facebook visit the site daily

600 million monthly active users on mobile

3.2 billion likes and comments everyday

8x engagements for page posts in news feed

In an analysis of over 60 campaigns on Facebook: 49% had a 5x or greater return on ad spend; 70% had a 3x or greater return on ad spend

On top of that, their targeting capabilities are hard to match. Facebook can target users based on any of the data you put into your profile, instead of using cookies to build a profile around your interests like every other platform on the web. This first hand data is like gold for targeting -- you almost always know you are always going to be hitting your target market.

In a short comparison, Shareaholic put together a chart detailing social media traffic referrals year-over-year from data collected on more than 200,000+ sites. You can see in the below example that Facebook dominates this category with Pinterest and Stumbleupon following pretty far behind in 2nd and 3rd place.  

Shareholic Social Media Traffic Referrals

With all that said, I wanted to be able to share some results from a social media advertising client campaign at Happy Medium. The marketing objective was to highlight the value of some of their in-store offerings and to promote downloads of a new app release. The campaign ran for four months over the summer and all the advertising was done on both Facebook and Twitter (with the majority of the budget on Facebook). Below is the outcome of the campaign:

  • App downloads: After the first month, we hit 148 percent of their entire summer goal

  • Instant win game to promote in-store offerings: After the first month, we hit 105 percent of their entire summer goal for in-store redemptions, and 135 percent of their entire summer goal for people who played the game

During the campaign, we constantly revised the goals and increased the numbers we wanted to hit. These results were powerful, that not only we were proud of, but the client was as well. When implemented correctly, social media platforms can reach your target audience effectively and efficiently within budget to accomplish your marketing goals.

Are you suffering from the online compassion deficit?

Katie is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Are you #internetnice?

Have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel segments where celebrities read mean tweets about themselves? If you haven’t, check it out here! 

Although they are funny to watch, it’s really pretty disturbing how the Internet has made everyone so incredibly brave to say really mean things. It’s much easier to say whatever you want when you’re sitting in front of your own computer and don’t have to suffer any of the repercussions.

The same can be applied to how you treat businesses online. It’s very simple to go on company’s Facebook page and publicly complain about a situation. If you are a frustrated customer, you are well within reason to use a company’s social media platforms to share your experience. However, like with anything, if you are complaining just to complain, you may want to reconsider your decision to do so. Lets be honest, it’s just flatout not a very nice thing to do.

We manage social media for clients, and a big part of that means being “on the clock” 24/7 (the Internet never sleeps right!?) to address any concerns of customers. And after doing this for several years, you may be shocked to know that nine out of 10 postings made by frustrated customers (on any type of client we work with) do not give you the additional information you’re looking for to solve their problem. Even with followup and contact information for the company, we find that the frustrated customer still doesn’t contact them.

As a business owner, I can empathize with how frustrating it can be to offer someone help to solve a problem, and they are not willing to accept. Why? Usually it’s because they know they are wrong and they expect social media to not get a response. This is the part where you tell yourself “do unto others what you want done to you.”

In times of frustration, it’s probably best to take a deep breath before posting that Internet rant. Make sure it's helpful feedback, and make sure if there is something a business can do to make it right (within reason), that you are clear about your expectations.

If you’re bothering to complain, be willing to bother to let the company fix it. Not all companies are going to do the right thing, but when some are, be open to it.


Katie Stocking



Bringing in the social media pros

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

When it comes to events, “social hour” has taken on a whole new meaning.

Long gone are the days of registering for an event a few days beforehand, attending for a couple hours and then going home. Now, because of social media, events have become more long-term and interactive, giving attendees an entirely new experience. However, integrating social media into the promotion, execution and aftermath of an event can be harder than it looks. Read on to find out why it’s often best to call in the professionals when using social media during your event.


What are your goals for the event? How will social media help you achieve those goals? What will your strategy be, and what type of content will you post to your social networks?

These are just a few of the questions a professional can help you answer when setting up a social strategy for your event. In order to reach your goals, a plan of action is necessary and a professional can help you take the correct steps to develop it.


During the event you’ll be very busy actually running the event, so how will you possibly have time to manage your social media in addition to everything else? This is where the pros take over.

Art Center Photo

To give you a better visualization of what this entails, a great example is when the Happy Medium team worked with the Des Moines Art Center to help manage their social media presence during Art Meets Fashion week. Our social media team was responsible for taking photos, creating live posts and engaging with fans during the events throughout the week.

Through our efforts, we saw engagement increase across all platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A few highlights from our engagement statistics from Art Meets Fashion week include the Art Center’s Instagram growing from 58 total photo likes to 1,907, increasing Twitter replies by 60 percent, and 86 likes on the top performing Facebook post.

With the help of Happy Medium, the Art Center employees and volunteers were able to focus on making sure the event ran smoothly while the brand was still interacting with fans on social media.


The whole point of integrating social media into your overall event strategy is to better achieve your goals, which is why it is extremely important to analyze your efforts after the event. Art center Facebook post

When Happy Medium partnered with the Art Center for Art Meets Fashion week, we performed an initial analytics report before the events began and created a post-event report to showcase the changes that occurred over the week. Through the use of professional analytics reports, we were able to demonstrate the value social media provided during this weeklong event, as well as provide insights on how to plan future events.

Social media can greatly benefit your event and its attendees when done correctly. To ensure social media success during your next event, call in the pros!



How social media won summer 2014

The weather wasn’t the only thing heating up this summer! It was a season full of updates, changes and trends in the world of social media.

Best Moments

  • The 2014 FIFA World Cup made history as the biggest social media event of all time. More than 300 million tweets related to the World Cup were sent out over the course of the event. During the championship match there were over 618,000 tweets sent out per minute (source: Check out more incredible stats about social media usage during the World Cup here:

  • Social media was also a hit this summer with a craze known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For this challenge, people were nominated to either donate $100 to ALS or dump a bucket of ice water on their head. Most people decided to both donate and receive the freezing shower while posting videos of it on social media. The Happy Medium team even took on the challenge! Check it out here: As of Sept. 5, over 2.4 million Ice Bucket Challenge videos have been uploaded to Facebook, and the ALS Association has received a 3,000% increase year-over-year during this same time period in donations because of the viral hit.


  • Temporary messaging is becoming more and more popular through apps like Snapchat and Slingshot, which is a recently released app.

  • The selfie trend is still incredibly popular, reaching new ridiculous heights this summer with several new phones and apps coming out that are designed to specifically help you take a better selfie. Looks like it will be a while until your news feed is selfie-free again!


It’s safe to say social media was the MVP of summer 2014, so now bring on fall!


Snapchat for business…

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

As I was writing this blog, I started by thinking about how to describe Snapchat for those that aren’t quite sure what it is. I think it’s somewhat difficult to describe, especially to those who might not be all that familiar with social media. So, I did what pretty much everyone does when they are stumped, I Googled it!

Snapchat is a photo messaging application developed by Evan Spiegel and Jonathan May, then Stanford University students. Using the application, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. 

I am a Snapchat user (find me @klstocking if you’re interested in snapping me), but I think a few things are missing from this very basic definition that might help you understand this platform a little better.

One of the biggest ways Snapchat is unique from its social media competitors is the basis of its platform. When users send a picture, video or “snap” to their friends, they can only view it for a limited amount of seconds (to be set by the sender). Once the image or video is viewed for the set time limit, the picture “disappears” –- to where is an entirely different blog, but for these purposes it basically disappears and the recipient no longer has access to it. In order to view a snap, the recipient also has to be touching the image on the screen to get it to continue playing, which somewhat eliminates the ability to take a screen shot. However, if the recipient is crafty and can sneak a screen shot, the sender is notified a screen shot has been taken. Pretty neat, huh?

The million-dollar question though, as with most social media platforms, is what can this do for my business? This is definitely an interesting platform for business. The best account I follow that is doing a fantastic job is Mashable (@mashable). They are primarily using Snapchat the same way their business is set up, as an educational platform and by showcasing themselves as an industry leader for new and relevant information.

Happy Medium just launched our Snapchat account this week (@itsahappymedium), and we’ll be testing and sharing snaps over the next few months! I will be sure to update you on our journey to see what Snapchat can do for your business. I suspect we’ll have some fun and do some educating, which is what we do a lot in our regular day-to-day agency life. These same concepts will just be translated to Snapchat and dissolved after a few seconds of our viewer’s time. Don’t be afraid, try Snapchat out today!



Wait, you’re not advertising online? Why the heck not?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

In case you haven’t noticed, people are on the Internet quite a bit… an average of 5 hours a day to be exact, according to eMarketer (which to be honest, sounds a little low to me). Think about your day, how much of your time is spent online vs. watching TV, listening to the radio (not Spotify, or Pandora – the actual radio!), or reading an actual paper copy of the daily newspaper? If you’re like me, the combined total of everything (with the exception of online) still doesn’t equal the time spent online each day, especially for those of us whose jobs require us to be online the majority of the day.

Once you get your feet wet in the digital world, you will likely never go back. The really *fun* thing about digital advertising is you get to really hold your dollars invested accountable. Owning a small business, I fully understand the need to make every.single.dollar.count! I’d like to touch base on a few of the (many) ways to advertise online.

SEM (search engine marketing):

The big wig in this department is Google AdWords, but this is an option for any of the other large search engines, as well. When you advertise online with a Cost Per Click (CPC) model you are only paying each time someone clicks on your ad, so no wasted costs on someone just looking at your ad and not being interested in your product. The other good thing about SEM is you customize the keywords you want to use on a campaign. Basically you get to choose when to run the ad based off what people are searching for. There are no other advertising opportunities where you get the chance to serve an ad at the very moment someone is searching for your exact product.

Display Advertising:

Display advertising has been around for years. It is all of the ads you see when you land on a webpage. These can range from standard size static units to expandable ads to entire homepage takeovers. You can target users into almost any kind of segment you can think of (i.e. 28 year old female, who lives in Waukee, IA, is a dog owner, married, with kids) so that you are hitting your exact consumer. You can also bid on impressions in a Real Time Bidding (RTB) fashion or on exchanges (so you can hit many different sites instead of picking one site and solely running ads on it). The possibilities are really endless with display advertising and the technology is only going to increase over the coming years.


Pre-roll (or video) advertising is a good transition for advertisers who are scared to move their dollars from TV to digital. You can still run similar spots to what you have been doing on TV for years but you are now hitting that digital audience. Another great thing about pre-roll is that you can buy specific placements that don’t let the user “skip” past the advertisement so they are forced to see your product if they want to move on to watch what they came to the website to see. This is a definite win over TV since the introduction of DVR recorded shows has given viewers the ability to skip through every ad running.  

Finally, one of the best parts of digital advertising is the cost. It is by far one of the most cost effective mediums – which is usually music to a business owners ears!

The question, at this point, is not if you’re going to invest some of your dollars into digital, but when. Feel free to reach out to Happy Medium with any questions!


Did you celebrate National Social Media Day?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Last Monday was National Social Media Day! Happy Medium celebrated by hosting an event in the Kum & Go Theatre at the Des Moines Social Club. We had a great line-up of local social media gurus including the Iowa Nice Guy, Scott Siepker, Mike Draper, founder of Raygun, and many others. The event ended with a panel and was followed by a happy hour and networking at Malo.

It was incredible to see the variety of people that attended! Of course, there were people who manage social media for a living and those who work in various marketing departments, but there were also people just generally interested in social media, probably not for any particular reason, but because social media affects us all in some way. And in many ways social media is becoming basically unavoidable. (For better or worse!) My husband isn’t on Facebook, and daily we have discussions because I’m always referencing articles or things that happened on Facebook, and he doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

Although I own an interactive agency with a fantastic social media team, I always think it’s interesting when these situations happen, as it really makes you take note of the role of social media not only in our professional lives but also in our personal lives. Let’s be honest, social media is everywhere and there is definitely reason to talk about it.

Social Media Day Des Moines was a sold out event with over 150 people in attendance. Fun fact – our hashtag was mentioned 480 times and had a potential reach of 575,702 people! CRAZY!

Here are some pictures that prove how much fun was had – we hope to see you next year!

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To learn more about Happy Medium, follow us on Twitter and Instagram @itsahappymedium or find us on Facebook!

Tweet me your questions @klstocking.



So what the heck is Snapchat?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

There’s been a lot of buzz this past year over Snapchat, but what is it about this app that has everyone talking?

Snapchat is a photo-sharing app with a unique twist: the photos you send disappear. Once a “snap” (photo) is opened, it will disappear within seconds and is deleted from the company’s servers. Users can no longer access the images after they have disappeared.

Once downloaded, you can use the app to send out pictures to as many friends as you like. Some special features include the ability to draw on your photos, caption your photos and set how long - between one and 10 seconds - the image will be visible to those receiving it. You can also view when your snaps were opening by the receiver. Snapchat also added a few new features recently, including the ability to text inside the app, where messages will disappear once you leave the conversation. A new video call feature was also recently added.

When you receive a snap, you simply press and hold your thumb on the image to keep looking at it until the designated time runs out. While there is no public timeline, there is the ability to add photos or videos to your “story” which can be viewed by all of your contacts.

Basically, Snapchat is a light-hearted, visual way to have a conversation. The “disappearing” aspect and spontaneous nature of the app are what makes it different and more appealing to a younger generation than texting. With no signs of slowing down, it will be interesting to see how Snapchat grows in the future and how it will continue to change the way we communicate with each other.  

Email marketing – leave it to the experts

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

I got an astounding email this week that stopped me dead in my tracks. How could a company send out an email to a list of customers that was this bad?

First of all, it was clear the company was using a regular email client and blind carbon-copying all the recipients. This meant they weren’t getting any analytics or tracking, and their email servers were limited to sending to a certain number of people.

Content-wise, it was supposed to be giving the “Top 5” of something and only listed three things. So then the company sent out a second email with the rest of the list. Not the most professional or effective, right?

This may be a seriously horrendous example of email marketing gone wrong, but I see mistakes and missed opportunities in e-newsletters by brands and companies every single day. And my response is: just let someone help you!

There are a number of important things that should be given attention when creating an email marketing campaign. Subject line, timing, design, layout, contact information and list management are all crucial to the success of an e-newsletter.

All of those things plus the message you’re trying to get across plus dealing with all of this while running your business is a lot to deal with. It can take a lot of your very limited time and end up costing you in the long run. Your time can be better spent elsewhere and that’s why you should let a professional manage your email marketing for you.

Letting an expert help with your email marketing will not only provide cohesive branding (so your emails recognizable by customers), organized content (so your message is easy to understand), perfectly executed send (so no information is left out), and reporting on how many people opened your email and who they were (so you know that it’s working). The return on your minimal investment will be exponential.

Email marketing isn’t going away anytime soon so now more than ever is the time to get it right!

Tweet me your thoughts @klstocking!


How to manage nonprofit social media

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Managing social media for our clients is sometimes tough work, mostly a lot of fun, but everything has its challenges right? Managing social media for a nonprofit can be even tougher! I serve as a Bravo Greater Des Moines board member and was recently asked to discuss all things social media with some of the organizations we help fund. (On a side note, there are some really amazing and very cool cultural organizations around Des Moines – so get out and experience it, find them on Facebook!) Here are some tips we discussed which you could hopefully use to help out your favorite non-profit (if you don’t already work for one!)

Sometimes people just want to be in the loop: Maybe you don’t think the things you do everyday are very fancy, but really they kind of are! If you’re a food bank and you’re getting a load of food (hopefully something you do every day) take a picture, put it on your Facebook and give a shout out to whoever donated it (if they are ok with that). People will literally “like” it – I swear!

Commit: I totally get it, resources are especially limited in a non-profit environment. However, keeping in touch with the community of people who support your organization really should be made a top priority. Social media is a fantastic way to stay in touch for very low to no cost. Dedicate someone to your social media accounts to make sure there is accountability. Otherwise, you might look at your Facebook page and realize your last post was in July of 2013….oops!

Don’t beg: You need a lot of money to do all of the amazing things you’re doing to change the world. Everyone thinks that is awesome. However, the quickest way to lose engaged followers is to constantly be begging them for donations. If you’re doing a capital campaign, you should definitely announce it on your social media platforms (along with anywhere else you are announcing), but it would not be a good plan to discuss the capital campaign every single day from the announcement until the completion. Bring up when you hit big goals or had a large contribution you want to share. Other than that, find a place on your website people can contribute and it can live there every day!

Don’t try to be everywhere: If you’re already low on resources, don’t feel like you have to sign your organization up for every platform social media has to offer. Find one or two that make the most sense for you and work to make those the best they can be. You’ll have a much better chance of success and fresh content if you are running two platforms rather than fifteen.

There are a ton of other resources online for this, but a great start is getting a specific point person to manage this for you. Either someone internally or a volunteer would be perfect. The community deserves to know about all of the wonderful things you’re doing, and hopefully growing awareness will help grow your donations!

Tweet me your questions @klstocking.


What is Facebook Paper?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Have you even heard of Facebook Paper? You might not have, it’s pretty new. Plus, it’s actually an entirely different app then the regular Facebook app. Working in media, I always wonder how long an actual printed paper version of newspapers is going to continue to happen. I’m not sure this is officially the end for printed newspaper, but as more companies try to create your newspaper experience online, it doesn’t look good for them. Adapting is the name of the game. Here’s what I thought about the app.

The App: Technically speaking, the app was released last week and from my perspective, is a combined way, as well as some new ways, to get your information. My initial thought was Facebook tried to combine Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook into one app. Smart or crazy is yet to be determined. Like any new layout or app, I’m in the middle of my adjustment period of trying to figure out if I love it or am sticking with my old secure ways. The app is set up to have a mash of your Facebook information along with other information you would find in a news-“paper”. There are different sections you can follow, starting with of course your own Facebook. Other options are Tech, Enterprise, Pop Life, Score, Exposure, Ideas, Equalize, Planet, All City, Well Lived, Cute, LOL, Glow, Pride Flavor, Family Matters, Headlines, Creators, and Home.

Biz Record Blog_FB Papers_1

Biz Record Blog_FB Papers_2

The Good: If you’re looking for one stop information gathering, this is it! When you’re in the Facebook section, you’re going to only get served updates from friends and pages you follow. It’s one swipe to the right and you can find streaming headlines. Your content is separated, but housed under one umbrella now. If visual is your thing, you’ll probably like this timeline much better than the white background current Facebook timeline. It also seems to be pretty user friendly. I like their concept of it functioning like an actual news paper would. As you listen to the tour they use words such as “fold down” and “turn the page” to really enhance your “paper” reading experience, and yet feel familiar all at the same time.

The Bad: As you can see in the pictures, each story bump is pretty small (or is that just what it looks like after you turn 30?!) Either way, it’s small. One click and it’s bigger, which isn’t terrible. I think the large amount of information feeding into this app could easily get overwhelming as well. We’re somewhat conditioned when these concepts are separate (i.e. pictures on pinterest, short sentences on Twitter) to handle them in their respective platforms. Once you combine the concepts – it’s almost impossible not to have information overload. That is, until we’re all used to it, and there will so be a day when even this amount of information is not enough for us…

What do you think? Tweet me your thoughts @interactivekate.


Social media and the government shutdown

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

If you’ve been under a rock you might not have noticed that our government has shut down. If you haven’t been under a rock, you’ve probably not only noticed, but it’s all you’ve been listening to, seeing, and talking about. The last time this happened was 17 years ago and the only social media around then was playing the Oregon Trail with your friends actually sitting next to you and socializing.

Now with this shutdown in 2013, and our immediate access to information, we’re much more informed, empowered, and actually quite funny. So how has this impacted the shutdown?

Remember the Today Show Orange Room I was telling you about? They told their viewers to use the hashtag #DearCongress and have had a huge response. Some people tried to make light of the situation:


Others are taking this opportunity and these platforms to make a statement. If you look through any of the trending hashtags for this topic (#dearcongress, #governmentshutdown, #shutdown) you will see several people are committing to not voting for any incumbents in the next election. Members of our congress obviously can’t read each and every tweet – but the power of mass messaging is also very difficult to ignore, especially when our government is set up to have our people have the actual power with their votes. There have also been many comments about Congress still getting paid through this shutdown and other government employees not getting paid because of it. Regardless of where you stand, there are others out there for you to connect with and discuss.

Then, most government agencies even carried out their shutdowns to their social media platforms:


What do you think? Can all of this chatter on social media actually have an affect on members of congress and their decision-making? Tweet me and tell me your opinion at @interactivekate and join the conversation! 


Are you in the Orange?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

On Monday, The Today Show unveiled their new look as well as their new concept. Carson Daly will be their new “Orange Room” show host of a brand new digital studio. So what exactly is a digital studio? On the Monday launch, the audience was told what was trending (it was the name Redskins – with all the recent controversy). 

Not only did he talk about what was trending, but he showed it. He was able to pull up a Google chart of searches last week vs. this week of the word Redskin – then the audience was able to see the huge growth.

Next, because the show was doing so much self-promoting of the new studio, they asked their viewers to send in “selfies” -- pictures taken of yourself -- to grow some interaction.

I believe this is the way of the future – mixing the old with the new. It’s what we spend everyday doing at Happy Medium. It’s not time to let go of the old, but it is time to mix in the new and engage your audience – or in most of your cases your buyers.

Rather than just making posts to your social media platforms, make sure you are engaging. That is obviously easier said than done, but follow The Today Show’s lead and realize you can no longer just give the news. You need to interact with the news. You have the best chance to be able to listen to your viewers and make personal connections. The Today Show also realizes the digital world can no longer be ignored – that is news in and of itself. Rather than hiding from it, they built an entire show around it – and now their audience feels engaged and paid attention to.

So how can you engage with your buyers? When was the last time you looked at your reviews online and actually acted on them or even better – responded to them? Have you taken time recently to ask questions to your buyers on social media of what they are looking for from you in upcoming months? You no longer have to guess – they are right there and probably very willing to tell you exactly what they want! You just have to be willing to act on it! Use your platforms to talk with them. There has never been a better opportunity to go back to the personal touches a lot of customers are missing. Take advantage!

Tweet me at: @interactivekate and tell me what you’re doing to bridge the gap and get in the Orange!


Networking on social media

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

It’s practically impossible to go a full day without someone telling you how busy they are right now. Although that is somewhat annoying, it probably is also very true. I know for myself I would, of course, love to have more time for personal hobbies and interests, but I would also like to have more time for my business goals. One of those goals is networking. Since we basically live on all social media platforms here at Happy Medium, I thought it would probably be best to combine the two and make a go of it.

Here are my tips for networking on social media:

Use the appropriate platforms: For example, if you’re a photographer – using LinkedIn to network might be good – but wouldn’t Instagram or Facebook be even better? You’re a visual company, why not use your best marketing tool, your work, to get business? Find the right fit and you’ll find the right customers.

Be honest: I get a couple of LinkedIn messages every day asking me to coffee “to learn more about my business and see how they can help me get more work” – when usually what happens is you go to coffee and they spend the whole time pitching their own services. (Not all the time of course, but often.) Then you don’t want to go the next time when it’s a legitimate lead and you might miss out. So if you decide to do networking by reaching out to people you don’t know – just be honest about your intentions. Then you kick off the conversation with everyone understanding the expectations and nobody feeling like they were misled.

Set a goal: I try to reach out to at least two people a week via social media. It’s pretty easy to do because it can be on your schedule. Whether it’s participating in groups on LinkedIn/Facebook, tweeting with other industry professionals or reaching out to people you’d really like to get in front of, anything works – just two a week will probably get you pretty far!

Dress for success: Make sure your profile looks just as nice as you would if you were attending a networking event. First impressions are everything and online is no different! Don’t make your profile picture a photo from tailgating last year where you cropped out your spouse. Take the time (and money) to get a professional photo taken.

Ask for recommendations: This is one very simple thing to do. Ask your clients/partners/co-workers to leave recommendations on your LinkedIn/Facebook/Yelp (whatever applies) about you or your business. Often people will visit your page and you don’t even know they are there. The best recommendation is a testimonial – so make sure your pages are stocked with information about all the great work you do.

Good luck! It’s not that scary – I promise, and the worst you will get is a no – which is the same as networking in person right? Go for it and tweet me @interactivekate to tell me how it’s going!


What is SEO?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Digital marketing can include a lot of acronyms. One of them you’ve probably heard somewhere is SEO. So, what is SEO?

The letters stand for Search Engine Optimization. The basic definition of search engine optimization is increasing the odds that your website will appear near the top of search engine results pages for desired keyword phrases.

SEO has changed a lot in the past few years with various algorithm updates by Google and Bing. It used to be done by stuffing keywords in different areas of the page and in the copy of the website. This is now frowned upon, and Google will actually penalize your site for using these old “black hat” techniques.

Today SEO is all about content quality on your site, as well as trustworthiness. Search engines now start paying attention to:

  • How long people stay on your site

  • If they almost immediately return to SERP (search engine results page) after visiting your webpage (signaling irrelevant content)

  • Visit more than one page

  • Are people sharing your site on social media accounts? (Facebook, Twitter, Google+)

Google also just announced they’ll be penalizing sites that aren’t mobile-friendly or using bad techniques on mobile. Things like responsive design and properly loading mobile-optimized content help prevent these penalizations.

How do you get started with SEO for your business? CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT. Create a frequent blog, post resources and articles (that are RELEVANT to your website and company), and engage your visitors so they spend time on the pages and share the content with others.

Or, you can always hire an SEO company. If you’re a business owner you’ve undoubtedly fielded a phone call or two from someone “guaranteeing you top rankings on Google for just $X/month.” At Happy Medium, we do not do monthly billing for SEO. We have noticed that if it’s done right from the beginning, it really shouldn’t need monthly maintenance.

Also, beware of people making “promises” of where your website will be on Google. If they don’t own Google, they probably shouldn’t be making promises about it. Finally, if you want to see what the company knows about SEO - just Google something they offer as one of their services. That will be the best example of their own work. For example, if you search for “Des Moines Advertising Agency” you’ll find Happy Medium towards the top. Why? Because we know what we’re doing. So do your research on the company you’re hiring, because if they can’t even do SEO for themselves, how can they do it for you?

Follow me on Twitter @interactivekate and @itsahappymedium for more SEO tips.


What Facebook adding support for hashtags means for businesses

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

This week, Facebook began rolling out support for hashtags in user posts. This means Facebook users can click on anything tagged with a '#', bringing up a search of anything else publically tagged by other users on Facebook. (Just when those of us that work in Social Media had finished our campaigns to try and get our friends to stop using hashtags on Facebook because there was no point!)

So what does this mean for Iowa businesses using Facebook pages? As soon as they’re enabled, Facebook page administrators can tag their posts with appropriate phrases.

For example, if you’re a restaurant and you’re running a special for Independence Day, you could tag a photo of your special with #IndependenceDay. Your followers could then click on the hashtag, bringing up posts their friends (and other people or pages) have posted about Independence Day. Maybe a potential customer sees a friend looking for something to do on #IndependenceDay and invites them to your restaurant.

Of course, there are caveats. You’ll only see hashtagged posts from Facebook users who have set that post to ‘Public’ visibility (unless you’re one of their friends).

Another setback might be using a hashtag another competing business or brand is using, running the risk of distracting users from your page and your content (and ultimately, your business).

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how people and brands alike use hashtags as they begin to roll out to all users.

To use this, or see if your Facebook has enabled this feature yet - put a #desmoines in your status bar then hit space. If the “#desmoines” turns a light blue, you have hashtags -congrats! If not, just keep trying and it will be there soon. Once you see a clickable hashtag, click on it and you’ll see what we’re talking about!

How do you plan to use hashtags on Facebook? Tweet me at @interactivekate!


Social media: Keep it live!

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

The Happy Medium team is sponsoring the social media for Winefest this year. So what does that mean? It means during the times in between Winefest events, we’re helping out with the tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagrams. Even more so though, it means our team is at each event doing “live” social media. It’s really important to keep your social media not only fresh, but also rich with content. It’s much more exciting for people to see what is happening right now, rather than posting a photo album a week after an event has already taken place.

Social media is much like regular news, (that’s why they call it the “Newsfeed” right?!)

The activities you host, participate in and do in or out of your office are what make your business unique - so why not tell people about it? Just because something might be a “normal” everyday occurrence for you doesn’t mean everyone else won’t think it’s interesting. Even if it’s just something in your daily work life, on social media it doesn’t hurt to let your audience in on the happenings of everything you do. It will really help them connect with your brand and understand who you are as a company. It will probably even let them know about things you do that they didn’t know about and services you offer without you just saying it in a straightforward way.

For Winefest as an example, the engagement from doing social media “live” from events also happens outside of the pages themselves. We often take pictures of people and tell them to find us on our different platforms. If they know they are going to find themselves there, they’re much more likely to check it out and start following and even interacting with your brand, and isn’t that the goal?

Lets talk: Tweet me at @interactivekate


Business complaints on social media: do or don't?

Katie Stocking is the owner of Happy Medium LLC.

Recently I was told (anonymously) that I shouldn’t ever put anything negative about any business on my social media. I found that a little strange, but wondered if I use social media because it’s my profession or because of my age and generation. I decided to do a little informal research and heard the following results and opinions:

1)   Try other avenues before social media

In my particular cases that were referenced – both times I was having a problem in dealing with a company. I had tried many different ways to solve it before I went to social media. This seemed to be a general consensus of everyone else I spoke to. By the time they were posting things on Facebook about or to a company they had multiple phone calls, conversations and talks and just felt they were out of options. Businesses have a HUGE opportunity here on the customer service side to “save” a client, especially if social media is usually someone’s last stop before that client is on their way out the door. They might as well do some damage control!

2)   At least you’re standing behind your words

There is sometimes nothing more frustrating than when someone complains, yet they don’t give you their name and information so you can try and make it right. In the case of social media – although you’re complaining, your name is definitely right there with it. I think that is a plus. You’re definitely giving the company a chance to take care of the issue for you.

3)   Be respectful

As with anything in life, you probably catch more flies with honey. Certainly it is “your” Facebook page and yes, you are entitled to post whatever you want. But is that really the best option? I always try to make sure I’m not posting anything on my Facebook that I wouldn’t say to my own mother (mostly since we’re friends on Facebook!). There is always a right way to complain, and swearing, being completely unreasonable, and name calling probably isn’t it. If you need to vent or discuss with a company, make sure you always remember just because it’s a Facebook page doesn’t mean there aren’t humans involved. There is someone responsible for reading that and responding to you, or a person who actually owns the business. Play nice.

4)   Know there could be consequences – good or bad!

For me professionally, I own a business and posting the wrong thing on another business’ page (even if I feel it’s merited and respectfully written) might come off aggressively to other decision makers around me. Someday down the road, that perception could negatively impact my business. Even if you don’t own a business – people just doing business with you could be affected.

For me personally, usually if I’m posting “something about a business,” it’s actually something I’m writing on their page so they are aware of it and then they might fix the problem I’m having – which is definitely a win!

Overall, the general consensus of my research was if you see someone complaining on social media in a respectful way, it’s probably just their way of trying to take care of their business. Professionally, my guess is that we will start to see a lot more of this, so applying the tactics we use when dealing with companies’ call centers and managers when we have a problem is the best way to help get our problem solved!

I’m curious what you think, though, so tweet me @interactivekate and tell me if you use social media as a platform to handle any issues you might have with businesses?


A social media game plan

Does your social media marketing plan align with your overall business strategy?

If you’re reading this post, there’s a chance you think your social media efforts could be better focused in a few areas. As your business priorities change, you may want to re-evaluate what areas need the most improvement or what can be further optimized to deliver a better experience for your customers.

1. Know where your audience is, and when

There are many social platforms available these days offering a wide range of services and experiences.  If your target customer does not typically utilize Pinterest or Instagram, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend your resources developing a business strategy for it.

Timely delivery is another key element. Think about when your customer is likely to check Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc. and aim to deliver your message when they’re most likely to see and act on it.

2. Provide value to customers

Does every post you share serve a purpose to your customer? Is it quickly and easily identifiable? Will your customer know what to do with that information? If the purpose is not clear, your posts will likely see low engagement or response rates. 

A valuable post provides clear, concise, and relevant or beneficial information. If your customer finds value in your post, they are more apt to “Like,” “Comment,” or “Share.” Pay attention to their feedback, or lack thereof. 

3. Be authentic

Think of your social media presence as an extension of your business brand. Your post content and tone should reflect how you would speak to a customer about your product or service.

Standing out on the web is hard enough as it is. Personalizing the experience for customers will go a long way.

4. Be creative

What stands out to you when you first check Facebook or Twitter? It’s likely personal updates from family and friends, or perhaps someone shared a recent news article or something funny. Business competitors aside, your post is indirectly competing with updates from your customers’ social media friends.

Photos, images, video and other visual posts are excellent to include in your content mix because they tend to attract the most views. Bring customers to your physical or online store, by showing them what they are able to find or purchase. 

5. Focus on a few goals, test different approaches, and double down on winners

Whether your social media pages have been around for a while or you are just getting started, you are bound to have or receive many ideas about how to position your business. Begin by determining the key goals you want to accomplish. You may wish to test a variety of incremental approaches to see what works before investing more resources. Once you begin to receive the type of feedback or results you desire, amplify your efforts with additional time and budget.  

Have questions, other thoughts, or wish to add to anything above? Tweet me at @InteractiveKate or Follow me on Facebook at:

-Katie Stocking

Facebook rules to live by

…(or at least until they change them again!)

Just reading the title you’re probably thinking, “Facebook…there are no rules!” Sadly, that isn’t true and even our dear friend Facebook has rules. If you’re running a business page, listen up! There are rules and they are important.

Lets start with a basic. If you’re running a business page and the option is to  “add friend” for someone to connect with your page, you need to switch it over to an actual business page. I promise it won’t hurt as much as you may think. It will be a good thing. You will look more professional and the last thing you want is Facebook to shut down your page completely and lose all the momentum of friends you’ve gained. Switch it to a business page and you won’t have to worry a bit!

Now that you have your business page, you’ll want to get your cover photo uploaded. Facebook has a rule that a cover photo can only have 20% text covering the photo. Your cover photo is also viewable to the public even before someone likes your page.

A major problem right now is Facebook contesting. I know it seems like “just Facebook” shenanigans, but contesting on Facebook (to any extent) does fall under your state’s gambling laws. You can read about every detail here:

To sum it up though, you need to use an app to run a Facebook contest. Facebook provides a contesting app you can use or there are hundreds of other 3rd party app options out there. These will take care of most of what Facebook requires. (i.e. giving permission and disclaimers). I see businesses every day running contests where they require people to comment on a status to be entered to win, also illegal. It is obviously vital to adhere to these rules, because again the last thing you want is your page shut down by the Facebook gods…forever, or in this case to be against your state gambling laws! (yikes!)

These are just a few of the rules Facebook has that you should be thinking about.  If you have any questions about the rules you can feel free to tweet me @interactivekate or “follow me” on Facebook: – I’m happy to help how I can!


Facebook’s new 'Reply' button

If you are even somewhat active on Facebook, chances are you’ve seen a comment or two Facebook feature
that has initiated some strong opinions. In the old days, if you felt like you had to get your opinion in the mix, you had to reply at the bottom of a long thread to someone who was in the middle of that thread. Good news! Now you can just reply directly to the person who is driving you crazy and really hack it out with Facebook’s newly introduced “Reply” button.

The function does actually open a lot more doors than just getting your point across. Now admins and Facebook users are able to directly connect with specific commenters. This update really only helps encourage Facebook’s primary goals of getting people engaged. For example, as a business you will now be able to even further personalize response to your Facebook community members, therefore making your community stronger and message very tailored.

If you visit our client NewGov's page, you can see this already in action. Facebook actually just added it to their page a few months ago (we assume it was because the page has more than 20k "Likes") So far, people have really seemed to like the capability of replying to exactly who they want to and engaging with a specific user.

You will start seeing it on a lot of pages very soon though, and everyone should have the option by July 10. At this point, it is only going to be available on Facebook pages, not personal profiles. (All the more reason, if you’re still a person running your business page as a personal page – i.e. it still has the “add a friend” button – to switch it over to a business page!)

What do you think about this move? Are you excited to be able to respond to individuals? Tweet me at: @interactivekate or Follow me on Facebook at: and let’s chat!


New customers, new rules

Are you doing business the way your customers want to or the way you want to?

Change can be tough. What can be tougher, though, is losing business because you won’tIPhone change to fit your customer’s needs. Remember them? The customer, yes – well I’m sure over the years you’ve noticed they like things how they like things. What about your new customers though? New customers can equal new rules.

I decided we needed to get our home tested for radon, so I went online and found a company. I submitted my request through their website, in the comments section, and mentioned I prefer to do business via email. Two weeks went by and I didn’t hear back. Finally, they asked for my address and told me someone will be calling me to set up the rest. FAIL. I get immediately frustrated. The next week, someone did call me and as usual it went to voicemail and was lost in the land of unreturned phone calls on my phone for at least 5 weeks.

So, I went back on their website and filled out their contact form again. I explained the back-story and asked to be emailed. I heard nothing again. Finally, after 11 weeks of trying to get a simple task completed which I was told should take about 4 days total, we had our radon tested. I knew I would be writing this blog or they would have lost my business long before 11 weeks! If someone would have just taken the two minutes to E-mail me the info and set up the time they could have closed the deal two-and-a-half months ago.

It’s the digital age, yes, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Many people are very familiar with email and use it as a main preference. It is very difficult to get me to answer the phone, and I know a lot of other people like myself. Check over your processes and make sure you’re making yourself available for people to make purchases from your business the way they want to, because they are much more likely to work with you if it’s easier on them, not you. So really nothing has changed, just the tools we use for customer service are different.

A friend was trying to book a cab the other day and the only option available was the dreaded automated phone system. An immediate turn-off for customers. It says you don’t even matter enough for us to hire a human to answer your calls, questions and concerns. Call Happy Medium during any business hours and I promise a person will answer the phone. It’s something that is very important to me. Email us through our website and I promise someone will respond to your email within a few hours. Change is good and in this case, it’s not really that hard. A lot of your competitors are not doing this well with the digital age and consumerism, so the first in wins. Jump on the bus. I promise – it will only make customers happier!


Has something like this happened to you? Tweet me your thoughts: @interactivekate.

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Finding your "match" with social media

CathyCathy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I met my husband online (where ELSE would a digitally focused girl meet a guy!?). The lessons I learned from my (ahem…) 10 years of dating (all sorts) can also be applied to finding your “match” in social media for personal or business purposes. 

#1: Variety is the spice of life… If you looked at all of my past boyfriends, you probably wouldn’t find many common denominators. You have to try all the frogs to find your prince. It’s not much different as you begin your social media quest. Get crazy and try lots of different platforms (at minimum, claim your name/business on them). Give them all time to breathe and grow and see what happens. You may be shocked to find out that Instagram really actually does work for your financial planning business (probably not, but if you start showing pictures of a lot of happily retired couples you helped – maybe? The point is - you won’t know until you try!)

#2: Not everyone is a good fit… Right? Am I right? Yes, take a moment and think of your past relationships that ended up “not a good fit” (yikes). Just like it doesn’t end up working out with everyone, neither will your social media efforts. It’s good to try, but it’s even better to hone in on what works. Since you’ve already tried all of your options, make sure you’re really looking into which communities you’ve built are getting the most interaction – not just the most likes/followers. Talking is important! 

#3: You get out of your relationship with social media what you put into it… Yes, even in social media you have to “work on your relationship” (sorry). You have to nurture it everyday. If you create a page, in the beginning it’s exciting so you’re obsessively logging on every minute to see who new has found you and you’re coming up with new posts constantly. Then pesky time takes over, it’s a month later and you’ve posted nothing. People have asked you questions and you never responded. Not good. That won’t work for relationships and it won’t work for social media. If you can’t take care of it the right way – find someone who can for you.

#4: Overlook the tiny flaws… Maybe they leave the toilet seat up, or they say “like” every other word – annoying = yes, but if it’s a good fit you’re probably looking past these tiny flaws. The same should be applied to your social media. Is it annoying when Facebook constantly begs you to “promote posts?” Yes. Or you SWEAR you had more Twitter followers, but the count is off? Annoying! It’s no reason to break up, though. Go to your couple’s counselor, Google, and search your issue. Sometimes you’ll find a work around, but at minimum you’ll probably find others with the same frustrations to vent with.

#5: Be proud of your new relationship… Once you’ve been dating a few months and decide it’s probably going to work (at least for a while!), generally it’s time to introduce your new beau to your friends and family. You go home and show them off with pride, so why not do the same with your chosen social media. You’ve worked hard to make an effort to have social media in your life right? So why not show it off! Tell everyone about it, encourage them to “like” your page or follow you, etc. You are your own best advocate. You’ve already decided you really love your new social media companion, so tell the world!


Tweet me and tell me what you thought: @interactivekate



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Hello from Katie Stocking: An admitted social media addict

Hi, my name is Katie Stocking and I’m a social media addict. Now that we’ve got that out in Katie Stocking the open please let me introduce myself further. I’m the founder/owner of Happy Medium, an interactive agency in Des Moines. What does “interactive” mean? In broad terms it basically means we do anything that has to do with advertising digitally including building websites, SEO, SEM, online ads and social media management. I started Happy Medium in February 2011 as a traditional advertising agency and quickly saw a gap for clients trying to transition their businesses to be more digitally focused. So, we switched our focus and have been fanatics ever since.

In my blog I’ll be focusing mostly on everything relating to social media. There is so much information available for social media, whether you’re using it for personal use or business purposes. My goal is to help guide you through everything from the basics to the more cumbersome tips and tricks.

I plan to discuss all the types of social media here – even fill you in on new and up and coming platforms. However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with social media, my best tip for you is to choose one or two platforms and just work on those for now. Go ahead and claim your name or company on other platforms, but as far as updating goes, just focus on one or two to get started. Not every social media is a good fit for every person or brand. My company has them all, but that’s because it’s literally what we do for a living. When it comes to recommendations we make to clients, we manage their social media for, we do research and have multiple discussions to decide which platforms we’re going to focus on.

I’m very excited to be on board with IowaBiz and can’t wait to jump in to help you make social media work for you.

-- katie

Does Pinterest belong in business?

Pinterest-logoPinterest is the latest social network to take the world by storm, and it's a homegrown success. Founder Ben Silbermann is a Roosevelt High graduate, and has proven once and for all that you don't need to live on the coasts to start a successful Internet-based business. In fact, hometown legend Better Homes and Gardens (a Meredith Corp. brand) is one of the early Pinterest success stories.

For those of you who don't already know what Pinterest is, here is a description of the site and how to use it.

After creating a profile on the site, you get started by creating "pinboards" (resembling digital bulletin boards) in categories in which you are interested. Then, you "pin" images to the board. This kind of reminds me of the collages we were all asked to make in junior high by cutting images out of magazines. My friends and I used to make collages of outfits, hairdos, lipstick colors, or even guys we liked. I was a Parker Stevenson kind of gal, while most of my friends were Shawn Cassidy types...

So what's the big deal about creating a pinboard? What's in it for your business? Answer: Web traffic.

Pinterest is now the No. 3 website on the Internet, right behind Facebook and Twitter. In fact, in some categories (especially retail), Pinterest drives more website traffic than any other site, including Facebook. 

Social sharing is really the engine that drives Pinterest and makes it viral and fun. Pinterest has a button that you can install on your website, email messages or blog to allow quick and easy "pinning" of images. Users can also "re-pin" images onto their own Pinterest pinboards and users will be able to link back to the original "pinner."

Another intriquing thing about Pinterest is that Pinterest users, when they convert to buyers, spend more money than Facebook users. Social media has always been a reliable way to build brand equity and gain better relationships with customers, but Pinterest is proving that it can indeed convert users to buyers. Some experts think it's the visual nature of pinning that attracts people and converts them to buyers.

Speaking of visual, there's another intriguing aspect to Pinterest that I find fascinating. Marketers often categorize social media users by their proclivity to "create" content in social media land. The vast majority of people on social networks "lurk," that is, observe the content that others write or post. Pinterest allows these "lurkers" to join the party simply by pinning their favorite photos. It's an inclusive way to allow people to wade into the pool without putting themselves out there with a bold opinion or point of view.

However popular, Pinterest is taking a bit of heat from its business model. It's already making money, which is a bit unusual for such a social media youngster. Turns out, Pinterest surreptitiously attaches a code to pins and follows them back to the retail sites where purchases are made, ensuring that Pinterest gets a cut of the purchase. Many web critics are asking for more transparency from the new social media darling.

Here are some ideas from some big brands that are using Pinterest successfully to attract new business and social sharing from their customers. 

How are you planning to use Pinterest to attract more business? Would love to hear your comments, and "Happy Pinning!"

-Claire Celsi

From deliberation to execution


Screen Shot 2012-06-08 at 11.03.00 AM
The Time

Time can be your nemisis, or your BFF.

Getting thoughts discussed during meetings, conference calls or during those moments of brilliance in the shower typed onto paper to share with others is the first step toward execution. 

The "it's all in my head, I just need time to type it up" reasoning  - let's face it, excuse - is one of the biggest roadblocks to setting a social media or marketing plan into action. When we excuse the lack of action with the lack of time, time is empowered to become our nemisis. Once the plan gets on a screen or on paper, assignments are given, timelines set, editorial calendars written, content created and management put in place, i.e. execution commences. The first step is getting the thoughts from A. (inside your head) to B. (on paper for the rest of the team).

This is no new dilema. It is not unique to social media execution either. This is a widespread, relentless obstacle across industries and areas of practice. Many fantastic ideas with potential for great innovative new products, groundbreaking services, market shifts, and record-breaking funds raised fail to launch because they never convert from talk to action. It has been addressed by some of the greatest thought leaders in history:

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Well done is better than well said. - Benjamin Franklin

You see, in life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action." - Tony Robbins

One of my favorites is the Chinese Proverb: Talk doesn't cook rice.

What's the remedy? For me, it is writing as soon after a discussion as possible. I build time into my calendar to write at the end of a scheduled meeting. I've begun forming a habit of note taking on my iPad or even iPhone during meetings. These notes become the outline afterward, then I flesh it out and share it with others. This is when time and I become best friends. When I'm writing I also find it necessary to shut off all distractions - email reminders, my tablet, cell phone and even close Firefox and Chrome. If I don't, inevitably I become distracted by things I would much rather be paying attention to like tweets, texts, posts, notices and updates.

When I do not take these steps, I regret it. The result of waiting even one day to come back to notes from a meeting is much more time to get it done. Time is added to recall what I was thinking during the discussion, make sense of my notes, get my head back into the specific strategy or ideas for the social media plan. It snowballs from there. When it comes to the constantly improving nature of social media, waiting to execute a social plan is likely to result in the strategy losing its relevance.

What do you do? Are there tips that help you translate words to action?

-- Christine Stineman -- 

Creative with a purpose

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Digital communication channels provide countless opportunities to be inventive and tap into the creative ideas that come from those strategic communicators that make up the marketing, advertising and communications teams within any company.

A quick creativity assessment for marketers is to ask themselves about the digital strategy specific to Facebook Pages: Have you changed your strategy on Facebook in the past 3 months? Several updates, even during just the past 3-6 months, have taken place on Facebook alone for Brand Pages. There are inventive ways to utilize the Timeline beyond the historical reference to your company. A more organized approach for administrators managing Facebook Pages provided improvements that allow admins to schedule posts, highlight or make posts sticky similar to blogs, and promote posts. These new elements should be implemented into editorial calendars to establish a plan around marketing and advertising campaigns or events. 

Be creative within boundaries. Infusing your digital marketing approach with increased creativity does not (should not) mean abandoning the critical thought behind protecting your brand. One of the traits of creative marketing and communication is taking a risk, but it should be a calculated risk. Thousands of dollars, in some cases millions, go into your brand development annaually. It would be reckless to toss it out the window for the sake of getting a little attention. 

The creative new strategies need to make sense as well. Creative tactics on social media have a purpose at the end of the day. So reflect on the approach to see if it passes a few simple tests: How does it get out the specific messages about the brand, company or leader within the company? Does it reach the appropriate audience in the right way? Does it tie back to an overall objective?

Digital strategies will become increasingly complex as audiences become increasingly sophisticated. That, for creative communicators and marketers, is exciting news - embrace it!

-Christine Stineman

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Social Bullpen

An example of a Hipster in an office environment.Image via Wikipedia

The pendulum swings in politics, cyclical trends come in fashion (see hipster), history repeats itself in business and industry á la Ayn Rand.

What can we expect from social media? Continued metamorphosis with tentacles into every form of "media."

This is an observation, not a prediction.

The corporate budget bucket that social media, mobile and tech communication tools are falling into is marketing. The American economy is based on a free market. This puts the power in the hands of the people. BTW - Happy Independence Day! What a great day to celebrate the power of the American consumer!

And it is the people that makes social platforms so valuable - the users and every bit of information about the user that is gathered. Take Facebook users, we know their motivators, friends, family, networks, hobbies, attitudes, interests, musical tastes, careers, hometowns, ages, sex, religious beliefs, spending habits, spheres of influence, focus, entertainment, political opinions, philosophies, fashion sense, communication style, daily routines, important issues and topics, charities and habits. We know where we are at any given time, who we are with, and the locations we frequent.

If an American consumer received the line of personally intrusive questions from any other source - call, mail, email, online survey - it would go unanswered. The value of this information to a marketer is pure gold, hard to capture, arduous to compile, and expensive. Here it is. Social media put users in the habit of sharing this information in a public way and accessible way.

The most interesting part of the game to watch is how well the teams - in this case companies and brands - and the coaches - leaders - are seeing this bigger picture. Mobile marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, public relations, media, communication, advertising, public affairs, government affairs, blogs, the lines across these are becoming as blurred as the lines between personal, professional and social.

Those who take time to look around and: recognize and absorb the current environment; reflect on what it means specific to their own brand, product, business, consumer, et cetera; consider what is on the horizon; and develop a marketing strategy that fits will reap great benefits.

Next up... Google+ ???

:: Christine Stineman

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A Digital Defining Moment

Wordmark of Headlines Today. Trademarked by He...Image via Wikipedia

There are a few basic elements required for successful digital crisis communication, the least of which is that the communication piece begins long before getting even a whiff of trouble.

This has long been the case offline. But as companies move beyond dipping in a toe and dive into developing a robust social media and digital presence, the need for attention to online crisis communication and rapid response is elevated.

Responses to advice to take a proactive approach to crisis communication is typically met with a look of confusion. Stick with me. It's approaching digital communication with the expectation that at some point there is likely to be a problem that needs addressing. I can't go to a bank and simply get money by asking for it when I need it. First, I open an account, deposit money, and secure a debit card and checks. Then, when I need it, it's there.

The same principle can be applied to developing a relationship of trust and dependability around your brand online among target audiences, including customers, the local community, regulatory decision-makers and the media. Define who you are as a brand, as a company, as a service provider and product before a sticky situation arises.

Something may pop up before this is possible, in which case you will be in a position of reacting without having first established yourself. It is still a manageable situation, just not ideal. Facing a crisis situation prior taking a proactive approach to preparing for a potential crisis in the future gives the crisis the opportunity to define you before you can define yourself.

What if the definition of the word "nose" changed tomorrow and was no longer the thing in the middle of your face, but instead the knob used to open doors. It would be much more challenging to convince people of the new definition of the word than if it had been that way from the start.

- Christine Stineman

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No introduction necessary?

Hello my name isImage by maybeemily via Flickr

Marketers, meet social platforms. They have only begun to scratch the surface of their marketing and communication capabilities and are looking forward to working with you. They are open to your creative mind and ideas.

Social platforms, meet the creative and outside of the screen-thinking marketers. They are excited to tap into the potential usage of your digital tools.

The introductions have been made, so what is missing? There is a broken link. Both are looking to the other for the answer. Social platforms are becoming more marketing savvy and intuitive by the day - Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Get Glue. There is still a role, though, for successful execution and taking the potential of the entire digital menu of capabilities to the next level.

If there was still a question as to who will fix the link, it is up to marketing.

A few marketers for major brands have already paved the way as pioneers. Now is not the time for wait-and-see or the time to simply duplicate what others have done. Technology changes too quickly to duplicate what others have done. Consumers lose interest in repeating the same tasks just as quickly as the technology changes.

This is a call to all of the brilliant and creative thinkers I have encountered in the world of marketing and public relations over the years - the stage is yours.

By the way Web developer and graphic designer, my apologies your e-invitations may have gotten stuck in your spam filters...

What's the point?

Screen shot 2011-04-18 at 4.33.21 PMThis is one of the critical questions a company needs to ask not only about its social media presence, but its overall online presence.

There are many creative ways to communicate with customers and other target audiences, but at the end of the day, the communication needs grounding in order to have a long-term positive outcome for the organization.

It may seem like a bit of a no-brainer on the surface, "We're using this social platform to accomplish ____". You might think, "Of course this is something the team considered and defined." In reality, more specifically in practice, this seemingly simple task is often ignored or the mark is missed either in the interpretation or execution.

Consider for example: A company's leadership team takes several steps to thoroughly establish the purpose for its social media presence. It interviews internal stakeholders and appropriate departments, and maybe even conducts an internal survey. Yet, it falls short of successful implementation, because that same amount of time defining the purpose was not communicated in an applicable way to those responsible for executing it.

Here are five considerations when defining the purpose for your digital presence:

  1. The answer should embody the end goals and purpose for participating on the channel. It must be both achievable and connected to a specific timeline.
  2. Answer the question completely. Brevity has its place. In this case, a greater degree of specificity will produce a better result. Consider it an essay question as opposed to multiple choices.
  3. The answer can and will change with frequently, so ask the same question on a regular basis and create a calendar item for it.
  4. Answers will vary depending upon whom you ask within the organization, so ask all departments who will be impacted and those who can utilize social media to make an impact.
  5. Success requires the appropriate blend of thorough planning, internal communication, training and execution.

Take the time to sharpen your point.

Oh behave!

Austin Powers: International Man of MysteryImage via Wikipedia

We learned in preschool about the ins and outs of social interaction and acceptable behavior and responses. (i.e. don't pick your nose and wipe it on your friend, they might have an adverse reaction.)

"Social" by definition is an amicable interaction or relations between two or more individuals.

Like life in-person, knowing and understanding the way people behave when interacting with them through social media will improve the experience for all. These are a few social behaviors to maximize on:


  1. We respond to topical leaders. We like to hear from those who are an authority on specific topics. This is where the C-suite executives can play a role in your organization's digital presence, offering topical and timely advice on industry issues.
  2. People are sheep. I first heard this phrase in a fifth grade social studies class. I remember that because it struck me as sort of an aha moment about how we interact. Share ways that others are interacting with you by the numbers or by the activity. If you are asking your audience to share a video testimonial, show them videos others have submitted.
  3. We are creatures of habit. Provide consistent material, both in timing and in content and your audience will grow to expect it and continue to come back to you for it. I receive daily email updates from Seth Godin's blog, I don't read them daily, I read them every Thursday morning. It's my habitual routine.
  4. Who doesn't like freebies? Most feel an immediate connection even with the offering of something for free and are more likely to engage with you as a result. People feel a need to give something back when they have received something from you.
  5. Entertain me. Music, gadgets, videos, movies, television, games, comedy, performing arts, automobiles - from infancy, we delight in one source or another of entertainment. Be creative in your content and seek to entertain. This doesn't necessarily mean be silly - but rather smart, witty and clever. Offer your own interesting perspectives.

I could go on with the list, including competitive drive and the need to feel a part of something. With all of these the important elements, do not lose track of when communicating is basic social, human behavior. Don't forget you and your team members are human, too, hopefully.

What do you respond to?

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You Are the One (a-ha song)Image via Wikipedia

This week, the Pentagon decided to revamp its social media approach.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Douglas Wilson expressed his concern to Wired Danger Room over the Pentagon's approach to social media as being a "stovepiped professional area." (e.g. its social media was operating in a silo.)

Now, heading up the social efforts and social voice of the Pentagon is the communications team. This was a social media a-ha (not the band) moment: social media is where public relations, marketing and digital developers converge.

There are different social media roles for different aspects of a strategy. Communications and marketing will not effectively execute on a social media strategy without the expertise of digital developers, programmers and creative designers.

Those who know and understood the public voice of a corporation best are public relations, marketing and communications departments. Social media are public outlets.

The expertise and talents they bring are best employed in the strategic planning of content; the use of the social platforms, such as: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter; to engage in public conversation and action; to allow, reply and interact with the public. This part of the team also helps with visual aspects of a company's digital presence, because they have grasp on the need for brand consistency.

Web developers, as well as application and game programmers, bring talent and capabilities that also play a key role. Developing applications, games, websites and microsites that are connected across social platforms provide easily shared content and are dynamic. These building blocks establish a foundation for engagement with the community.

Put them all together to create and execute a customized, digital strategy that will provide the ideal environment for the target audiences to interact with your company and one another.

It's not one or the other that makes it work, it's tapping into a team of many different talents.


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Twitter love affair doesn't have to result in resource drain

Love Birds Like Chocolates, So I'm SoldImage by [F]oxymoron via Flickr

Looking back at 2010, one of the hot topics of discussion around social media was the resource drain and potential addiction.

Given that fewer Americans are smoking today than during the 'Mad Men' years, I welcome digital addiction. Nevertheless, there is valid concern when it comes to the potential workforce resource drain.

For me this year, the one social platform I have had to look out for is Twitter - I love Twitter! Once you spend the time to cultivate a community of followers and key people topics to follow, the amount of valuable information exchange is vast.

It can also pull you in and cause you to completely lose track of time spent there.

Here are some tips to help avoid growing blue wings and flying away:

  • Have a grasp of what it is you are there to talk about. This will make the time spend your spend covering topics and sharing with the people you follow more effecient and effective.
  • Use tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to their full potential to manage your social media profiles. They range from free to professional level rates. Most of the popular management tools have smartphone applicaitons that allow you to stay connected to your social audiences anytime, anywhere in an effiicient way. My choice is Hootsuite, It is well organized and both the mobile and iPad applications are easy to use and include all of the important information from your accounts, such as lists and keywords. Plus, with multilingual clients, the translation feature is much appreciated.
  • Organize those you follow with lists. The Twitter lists allow you to organize the information. You can also create columns for lists and key topics you follow on Hootsuite that show up in the apps as well.
  • Follow those who make sense for you to follow. This is a common challenge for users: Do I follow everyone, no one or only those I know. Follow those having a conversation about the topics that relate to you and your industry. Why not folllow everyone? It makes the effeciency tools less effecient, especially on mobile applications. The pertinent topics to you are more time consuming to find when your feed is cluttered with unrelated tweets - such as those profiles that only share movie quotes or song lyrics.
  • Resist the pull. Once you realize the potential of Twitter and begin interacting with your audience, it is difficult to pull back from it. In order to maintain the return on investment from Twitter, the time spent has to be managed. Schedule time for tweeting in the day and stick to it.

According to a study released today by Sysomos, Twitter usage has increased rapidly since January 2009 with much of that growth taking place in 2010. It was valued earlier this week at $3.7 billion as reported by Reuters. The value of Twitter as a social platform is being recognized and more companies and leaders are using it.

You too can have a love affair with Twitter, without it becoming a resource drain.

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Take it up a notch

Batman as he was depicted in Batman: The Anima...Image via Wikipedia

With its parade of launches over the past three months, Facebook is telling us "we're not going anywhere and we're committed to making sure you don't either." Offering more reasons for companies and organizations to make a commitment to finding ways to integrate the social network effectively.

I like to get down to the nitty gritty and be specific. Here are a couple of things to consider to take your social media integration up a notch. The first is something that makes me talk to the TV: the integration of connecting to your social community in your paid advertising. Tacking an icon onto the end of your TV ad does not tell me where to find you on Facebook or Twitter. It says we're here and we want you - a very busy consumer who is pushed and pulled in a million directions - to come find us! If you play digital hide-and-seek with your audience, you're going to be left counting for a very long time. It's an easy fix: add your company's name after the social icons.

Give social media a leading role with a speaking part in your advertising and marketing screenplay, rather than only a mention in the credits. Offer your target audience a reason to go to your page or profile. Consider what works to drive consumers into stores and use it to motivate them around events online. It's more feasible to hold a digital midnight madness or  a.m. sale online on Black Friday than it is to have several stores open for those special hours. Provide incentives for doing more for you, such as 'Invite 10 friends to Like our page and recieve free shipping.' Let consumers choose how and who they communicate with by giving them several ways and opportunities to share.

Currently, there are great prices on toys at Target online. The prices are better than in the store or than on other websites - my four-year-old isn't reading yet, so I know I'm safe in telling you speficially there's a great price on Wii games and Batman's Batcave. How about letting me share this news easily from the speicifc products via social media with grandparents? Or give me the opportunity to share a message about the great savings on the website via Facebook and Twitter posts when I'm checking out?

Social media integration into advertising and marketing isn't limited to B2C companies. The most successful use of social media comes when you understand what it is that you have to offer and make social media an extension of your communication about the unique value of your services and offerings.

The end of the year is nearing. This is a great time for accounting firms to use social media to start sharing invaluable tax tips with business owners or update corporate clients on ways to avoid penalties. Or an informative series could be offered to keep people coming back to you on social media sites such as: 'Ask the tax expert about corporate financial health during a recession.' As a business owner, I would both ask a quesiton and invite fellow business owners in my social network to do the same. That is, if I was asked to take the action. It's a matter of understanding your value, knowing what your audience wants and utilizing social tools to share it.

One of the best opporuntities overlooked by both B2B and B2C is tapping into pre-existing networks of "friends". Are you sharing messages with the vendors or trucking companies used by your business? Have you invited members of the trade and business associations you belong to share posts or participate is social events? What about connecting with nonprofit partners and other stakeholders to hold online events together? Tapping in to networks of support and identifying ways to work together via social media immediately expands your reach to your partners' communities.

We are rapidly moving toward more digital, not less. With each advertising and marketing plan, take the time to write in lines to give social media a leading role.

Social Media, Politics & Business

The United States Capitol Alight At Night in W...Image by Skibum415 via Flickr

Americans are heading to the polls this week for the midterm elections, but before casting a vote they will have been touched by the candidates and their messages many more times this cycle than in the past with the help of social media.

The increased use of social media by candidates also presents new avenues of access for communication on key issues that impact businesses.

For candidates and opponents, the increased amount of information and easy access to that information has made this year one of the ugliest we've seen on the airways. Social platforms provided a new mud pit location for the slinging as well. What is an interesting take-away for corporations and trade associations  is the potential for issue impact and communication via social media.

This is not a new takeaway. A few national campaigns tapped into social media opportunities back in 2008. The potential impact, however, has grown substantially even in the past two years. In that two-year span many more candidates, congressional members, state legislators, regulators, governors, key staff members, political media and pundits have embraced social media. This increases the accessibility of constituents and bloc constituencies to lawmakers and key staff and vice versa.

Following are five tactics that companies, associations and businesses can employ to communicate with decision-makers using social media:

  1. Identify and unify your supporters. Social media platforms are ideal for building your community of support. The support can be identified via all traditional methods - e-mail communication, newsletters, phones - but should also be identified utilizing social and online advertising. The most active target audiences are those with a vested interest and may include association members, employees, vendors, shareholders, and others in the industry.
  2. Educate the audience. Share the mission and goals of the group and educate the audience about the impact of legislative or regulatory action.
  3. Give them something to do. Simple tasks such as helping to educate and invite others to the community will help to identify those willing to take action and give them an immediate way to take action into their own hands.
  4. Provide them with ways to communicate. Once you have a robust audience of those who share your position on the issues, share with them where and how they can easily communicate the position with the regulatory and legislative decisionmakers on social platforms. Make it easy for them to do so and find different and creative ways to help them share the message.
  5. Let them know the impact. Once the audience has taken action to communicate with state or federal decision makers, it is important for them to know how their voice made a difference. Was there an amendment or language included in a bill that wouldn't have been without them taking the time to share their position?

Can social media be utilized in a way to have a real impact? Yes. Mashable  cites a couple of notable public affairs success stories via social media. Another success story that I had the opportunity to be a part of came from T. Boone Pickens on the issue of U.S. energy independence called the Pickens Plan. With the use of social media and digital communication we organized and activated volunteers in all 50 states and nearly every one of the 435 congressional districts. The efforts led to positive change through several federal legislative actions on energy.

Constituents have always had a voice. Figuring out how to use their voice has had its challenges and ultimately those challenges has reduced the voice to a whisper. I've said before social media provides individuals with a microphone. This is one way that can be used to your advantage.

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