Social Media

How to manage social media during a time of community crisis

Katie Patterson is founder and CEO of Happy Medium

The recent events facing the Des Moines and Urbandale Police Departments have our entire community in mourning. We proudly stand in support alongside these valiant officers, keeping the families of the two fallen in our thoughts and prayers, and rally as a community toward a future where incidents like these are no longer a reality.

When a crisis faces a community, state, region, the country or the world, it’s important for social media managers to be ready for action. The everyday social media messaging can be interpreted as distasteful or insensitive by the mass public. Here’s some steps to consider:

  1. First and foremost, be in tune with what is happening in the news cycle.
    No one wants to be the last person to know, and you’d think with so much breaking news being initially cited across social media platforms, the social media community would be the first informed. But this is not always the case. It’s important for those in this industry to be in touch with what’s happening in their community especially in order to be timely and effective.

  2. When crisis hits, get out of the way.
    This is a sensitive time. If you use any scheduling tools to set up posts throughout the week, check here first. Make sure you delay those to a time when normal conversations are back in play across your various platforms. Most users are looking to Facebook or Twitter for news on what is happening, and they don’t want to see a post on a sales promotion as part of that search. It can be immediately off-putting and damaging to a brand’s reputation.

  3. Express your condolences.
    There is definitely an opportunity to stand beside those impacted from an incident to show support. These messages should be brief but thoughtful. This can be a great demonstration of joining together as a community, while also providing an unwritten explanation as to why your accounts may be quiet for a while.

  4. Be careful with trending hashtags.
    It can be an initial great thought to monitor hashtags that are trending and want to act accordingly for your brand to generate traction. However, make sure you know what the hashtags stand for. Look through timelines to see how users are putting them into content. As an example, in 2014, #WhyIStayed was trending and the DiGiorno Pizza team wanted to get in on the action and tweeted, “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Looking into this hashtag even quickly would have shown that this was a discussion about domestic abuse with those impacted telling their own stories, and the brand faced major backlash as a result.

  5. Don’t use a promotion strictly as a sales tactic.
    Like many of us as individuals, companies can often wonder, “What can I do?” The desire to help is a natural reaction. Be careful with this, though. If you offer a promotion, go all in. You don’t have to donate 100 percent of proceeds from your entire business, but positioning a benefit as a way to attract general traffic can be a turnoff to the general public. A good rule of thumb is to donate 100 percent of sales from one particular item in the honor of those impacted.

Social media teams have to be ready to act at a moment’s notice, and times of crisis can be tricky to navigate. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and examine how you would feel in this moment and use your best judgment for strategy moving forward.

Sour candy: How Skittles brilliantly handled a controversy they didn’t make

- Katie Patterson is CEO and Founder of Happy Medium.

Social media management is all about being alert. The immediacy of Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the channels allows for brands to weigh in on world events in real time, some that are planned, as when a brand tweets something they’ve prepared for the Oscars, and others that are unexpected, as when the lights go off at the Super Bowl and your brand is totally prepared. The conversations happening online happen quick and the brands that effectively join that conversation are the ones that are ready, thoughtful and fast.

That applies to PR crises as well. Brands that find that customers are talking negatively about them online need to act quickly to address the concerns and quell any doubts. Most times, PR situations are at least partially caused by the brand itself. Whether it’s an oil spill, a safety recall or a CEO who said something they shouldn't, brands need to get in front of it to show that the mistake was an anomaly that doesn’t represent the way they do business most of the time.

Last month, however, a mixture that was part real world events and part PR crisis landed on Skittles' doorstep through no action of their own. Donald Trump Jr., the son of the Republican nominee for president, tweeted a graphic that included a bowl of Skittles with the words, “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.” Whether you think the sentiment of the graphic is right or wrong, the tweet caused a stir online with passionate arguments both defending and attacking it. Pretty soon, Skittles was trending in a way that must have made them uncomfortable.

Keep in mind, the idea of this graphic is not new, but now it’s being tweeted by the son of a major candidate in a heated election who also is someone who is a lightning rod for attention, online and otherwise. Rightly, Skittles, through its parent company Mars Inc., felt that they had to respond. A little more than four hours later, Mars tweeted this response; “Skittles are candy; refugees are people. It’s an inappropriate analogy. We respectfully refrain from further comment, as that could be misinterpreted as marketing.” The tweet went viral and was roundly praised by fellow tweeters and PR professionals. What is so effective about it?

  1. It neutralizes the crisis.

The controversy around Skittles wasn’t their fault, and I'm sure that there were some who wanted to avoid the whole conversation entirely, especially considering that the attacks online weren’t directed at Skittles, per se. But customers expect brands to be as aware of what's going on as they are, and there’s no denying that what was going on involved Skittles. In a simple statement, the brand acknowledged what happened, announced that they did not endorse the graphic and moved on.

  1. It takes a stand.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall for the meeting where this response was designed. It would have been easy enough to say, “Skittles and Mars Inc. do not endorse or speak for any candidate, nor do we authorize any use of our name in material disseminated by any campaign. Thank you,” and call it a day. I’m sure announcing a position caused a lot of anxiety and hand-wringing over at Mars. Political campaigns are nearly always divisive, and most brands want nothing to do with splitting their customer base up. However, Skittles found a way to give a response that was substantive, thoughtful and human without being overly controversial. The brand doesn’t weigh in on the refugee crisis; it only defends its name when used in a way it found to be inappropriate. They repeated what many users were saying online, that the refugee crisis is more complicated than a bowl of candy and that the two should have very little to do with each other.

  1. It doesn’t grandstand.

The best part of the response, to me, is the quick exit. The brand addresses the issue and then immediately turns the page. They understood that any sustained communication on their part could look thoughtless and crass, which would completely backfire in a situation in which the issue is insensitivity. Skittles pulled off the PR coup because, in their restraint, we are now talking about them positively. They seized an opportunity without seeming opportunistic, and in the process reminded us that a brand can be pretty human sometimes.

No brand wants to deal with a crisis, especially one that isn’t of their making, but things happen, and the way you distinguish yourself is by being alert, being a little daring and being decent. Skittles proved how sweet that can be.

Handling social media harassment and cyberbullies

Katie Patterson

CEO and Founder, Happy Medium

News reports recently alerted us to the cyberbullying that Gabby Douglas faced in Rio through social media. Her mother stated to journalists that the young gymnast felt she couldn’t do anything right and was criticized for everything from her hair to how she cheered on her teammates. The comments turned mean and ugly quite quickly, and Gabby turned away from her social channels as a result.

Brands are no strangers to this kind of backlash via social media channels as well. For some reason, people seem to have an easier time with complaints or negative comments when behind a screen and not face-to-face with an actual representative from your company. As stated in past blogs, social media is an extension of your customer service and no question, complaint or issue should be ignored. But every now and then, you’ll get someone who wants to stir the pot and leave negative comments repeatedly on your company posts. This can be a challenging time because instinct is often to delete the comments, but that can often make people angrier and backfire on the social efforts. A quick search of what to do turns up several recommendations that you never delete Facebook posts, so social media managers are often left wondering which is the lesser of two evils.

Here are some options to help detract the situation:

1. Set page guidelines to your company Facebook page. On your “about” page or through a Facebook note, you can set clear guidelines for commenting/posting on the company page. This oftentimes is as easy as no swearing, no spam, be respectful. It sets the precedent for what is accepted, and if anyone disputes why something was deleted, it’s easy to reference these guidelines as a benchmark for what will be allowed and those comments that are unacceptable.

2. Ask them to send more information privately. Taking the conversation into a private message allows you to get more details on the issue and also moves it to an area where the general public won’t be following along if the discussion gets heated on the customer's end.

3. Hear them out, and offer a solution. If the complaint is legitimate, offer a solution. Let them know you’re speaking with customer service or the employee who was involved in the issue. If it’s something that can easily be fixed, don’t be shy to repair the situation with a good gesture such as a complimentary experience or refund, if applicable.

4. Show appreciation for their feedback if a solution isn’t possible immediately. Oftentimes social media is where customers feel they can make suggestions for problems your team may already be working on but not have an answer to yet. At a minimum, thank them for their input. Most of the time, your fans just want to know their voice is being heard and acknowledged. 

5. Reply to reviews over individual posts to your page. Reviews are the more public-facing comments rather than posts to a page. Other viewers are more likely to look at your company reviews first, so make sure if a complaint is being left in multiple places, your response is focused on the review first. You can comment on other posts to say you have offered a solution on the review so other visitors are aware you didn’t leave the customer hanging with no response.

6. Hide their comments. If the conversation turns to a place where it is no longer productive, you can hide their comments. This allows the discussion to be hidden from your page but to the user who left it, it still appears as normal. This is a solution if you feel that deleting the comment will cause backfire.

7. Delete the comments or ban user if nothing else can be done. Some people simply cannot be reasoned with, and when the conversation turns down the path of no return, use your best judgment in deleting comments or banning the user from the page. Social media should be a place for productive discussion and engagement with your customers, and if the user refuses to be reasoned with or happy with any offering, this is the time when it’s OK to consider limiting future involvement on the page. This should be a last resort, but know that there are instances when this is the best option.

Snapchat: A platform brands can no longer ignore

- Katie Patterson, CEO and founder, Happy Medium, writes on social media for

With new social media platforms emerging every day, it can be difficult to navigate through and determine which are worth the investment of time and advertising dollars for your brand. When Snapchat first launched, it was largely seen as an app for teens and didn’t need a lot of attention. That, however, is no longer the case.

Recent research shows that on any given day, Snapchat reaches 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States. More than 100 million people use Snapchat every day to Snap with family, watch Stories from friends, see events from around the world, and explore expertly-curated content from top publishers such as CNN, Mashable, Cosmopolitan, MTV, Buzzfeed and more.

With this growth and attention, it’s hard for brands to ignore the platform altogether. However, if you’re not ready to dive-in fully on a brand account, there is a much easier way to expand awareness that is both cost-effective and engaging: on demand geofilters.


Geofilters are designs that can be layered on top of Snapchat photos or videos in the app while the user is in a set location during an established period of time. Snapchat allows companies or individuals to submit their own designs for approval. These have become a fun way to brand a special event, a significant day for a company, or event individual moments like a wedding.

HM_socialmediaday_snapchatFilter_6 Snapchat Filter Example

Images:  Before and after of Happy Mediums Social Media Day Filter in use. 

Once an individual puts your geofilter on their snap and sends it out to their friends, you receive instant awareness.

We recently assisted Principal Charity Classic with placements for special filters throughout the PGA tournament in Des Moines, and it saw a total of more than 25,000 views by the time the weekend was over. It helped raise awareness for the event overall and acted as an endorsement from those on the course as something their friends and family should attend in the future.

The key to an engaging filter is to have a strong design. If you just throw clip art on, it’s not going to be something that users want to put on top of their captured moments. Having a professional design team work on this for you is worth the cost, as they are well versed in the requirements and guidelines to get the filter approved and can develop a look unique to your organization.

For Principal Charity Classic, we put a branded hat that you’d see players wearing in order to encourage selfies on site and left a blank space below for the user to add copy for who they were cheering for during the event. It proved to be one of our most successful to date.

The design will be the biggest investment for this type of project. The rest of the price is determined based on the square footage of the area you want covered and of course the duration of time it should be up and running.

We recently launched a filter that was in our office for a full work day in honor of Social Media Day (June 30) and then added it to Hessen Haus during a happy hour event we hosted with the Social Media Club of Des Moines. For a total of 12 hours, it cost us less than $25 and we saw more than 4,000 views. That averaged to less than one cent per view, such a cost-effective option to increase our brand awareness.

Winefest filters

Images: Winefest filters saw more than 15,000 views at this year's event alone.


How brands can capitalize on new Facebook reactions

- By Katie Patterson, Founder and CEO of Happy Medium

It’s been just over two months since Facebook altered its platform beyond the traditional thumbs up “Like” option to now include an array of emotions via emoticons on posts: Like, Love, Haha (Laughter), Angry, Wow and Sad. This shift allowed for users to react more appropriately to content rather than just being allowed to “Like” a post or comment if they wanted to share more thoughts, but the introduction had many brands wondering how this will impact social strategy.

In this short time, the reviews have largely been positive from in-house social departments and agencies alike. The new reactions allow the opportunity to understand an audience even more and tailor content for heightened engagement.

In particular, companies should pay close attention to the “Love” reactions because it might lend some insight to where you should dedicate a full ongoing campaign rather than just a post here and there. It also could lend insight into potential social media advocates for your brand if you have repeat “Love” reactions from particular users that start to stand out. These individuals could serve a greater purpose for getting your message out to the masses as they’re proven fans of your service or message.

Initially there was a lot of fear of the “Angry” reaction but fret not. As stated in my previous blogs, social media is a great opportunity to extend your customer service. If something is off or falling short, make sure to engage with your audience to show concern and offer a solution to the issue. Your fans will see that your brand cares about their experience and will have more confidence moving forward with your business or organization.

Facebook recently introduced the “Thankful” reaction in some markets for Mother’s Day which includes a flower animation across your screen when selecting. They have cited this will only be available temporarily, but it opens the door for future reaction appearances as Facebook finds interest.  

From an analytics standpoint, all reactions are currently weighted equally so your strategist will need to dig a little deeper to research trends on your page rather than having it easily pulled from insights reports as “Likes” have been tallied previously, but the time investment could be worth it to catapult future campaigns to success.

Discussion among social media experts and pros include hopes that Facebook will allow for specific targeting based on reactions in the future. For example, if a politician posted details on an issue they were hoping to change, they could then target everyone who responded with “Angry” with a call to action such as signing a petition, showing up for an event or even writing other political leaders in hopes of change. Facebook isn’t there yet, but the future could present amazing opportunities for brands in this realm.

Stay tuned to see what other changes come about and how you can best utilize them for your own business or cause.

Your business needs a social media presence… Now what?

- Katie Patterson, founder and CEO of Happy Medium, writes about social media for

We live in a digital age and the necessity of a social media presence can no longer be ignored by businesses. You may have reached the point where you know you need to jump in but have no idea where to start… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, oh my! It can be so initially overwhelming that it’s easy to just put it off and worry about it later.

Take a breath and don’t fret. Companies often times think they need to jump in everywhere to be successful, but in reality, what platforms you should have an active presence on really depends on your target audience. It’s rare that a company has a need to be on all programs so take a look at your own customer demographics and where those fit in best with social media to develop your approach.


Facebook is by far the most universal social media platform, and if you have to start somewhere, the best bet is to start here with a business page. In January 2016, Facebook released there were more than 1.59 billion monthly active users worldwide (that’s 71 percent of all adults who go online), and of those, 1.04 billion log in daily, a 17 percent increase year over year. Women are slightly more active here but the difference is not large enough that you wouldn’t be able to reach both them and men if you are targeting one over the other.

  • Tip #1: Do not make a personal page in your business name; it’s not a great user experience and you won’t get the same benefits of a professional account like analytics.
  • Tip #2: More visual posts – such as video, photos and designed graphics – do tend to perform better, so have fun with it!

        Brands to follow for inspiration: Coca-Cola, Nike, Chanel.



Twitter is the next most known platform with 23 percent of all internet users active on it. This is much less visually-driven content than the others we’ll discuss today and is best used for brief announcements or breaking news about your company, participating in industry conversations such as Twitter Chats, and providing an extension of your customer service. The demographics show that majority of users are 18-49 years old.

  • Tip #1: Twitter users love to have dialogue with companies and brands about both good and bad experiences so if you decide to invest time in this platform, make sure you have someone responsive dedicated to participating in the discussions and offering solutions.
  • Tip #2: Do not link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so they’re posting the same content simultaneously.

        Brands to follow for inspiration: Southwest Airlines, MTV, Oreo, Scandal (yes, even your favorite TV shows can be active).


Instagram currently has a lot of buzz and is being praised for its growth. This platform is primarily known for utilizing photos although there is an option to implement videos which just expanded from 15 second snippets to now 60 seconds, initially launched by the Taylor Swift treadmill campaign. Twenty-eight percent of adult internet users are active here or 24 percent of the entire adult population. Women are slightly more involved than men here (31percent to 24 oercent) according to recent Pew Research Center studies.

  • Tip #1: Food, pets, and hand lettering do incredibly well on this platform. Go for bright colors and utilize apps like Over or Word Swag to add text to your photos before posting.
  • Tip #2: If you decide to do both Facebook and Instagram, try to not overuse the same images on both platforms. It’s ok to post to both, but try to spread it out a couple days or so in order for your audience sees value in following you on both.

        Brands to follow for inspiration: Staples, Mercedes Benz, Kum & Go.


Snapchat is having a moment. It’s rise in popularity has really exploded with more than 100 million active daily users and 8+ billion video views every day, but there’s a common misconception that this is only utilized by teenagers. While 60 percent of users are 13-24 years old, Adweek actually just reported the platform has seen a noticeable spike in active 18-34 year old women this year.

Snapchat is a series of photos and videos that only last for a set amount of seconds and then disappear. It was first utilized by friends who wanted to communicate with images or video but not take up huge storage space by sending via text. Brands eventually caught on, and visual industries such as fashion have been having a large growth in presence and engagement.

  • Tip #1: Focus on telling a story rather than just posting random content here and there. Take your audience behind the scenes in a cohesive series of posts.
  • Tip #2: Show content they won’t see anywhere else, on any of your other platforms, giving them premier access to what makes the magic of your business happen.

        Brands to follow for inspiration: Starbucks, Taco Bell, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The best thing about social media is that it’s free to participate so you can experiment to see what works for your company. You do, however, have to invest time and creativity, and if that gets to be overwhelming, there is help out there.

Katie Patterson is the founder and CEO of Happy Medium, a full service interactive marketing firm. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson.

Social customer service matters

- Katie Patterson is the CEO | Founder at Happy Medium.

Social media is often blamed for the end of interpersonal relationships. It’s too easy for us to stay online and away from each other. I was not particularly shocked to read about a study that found that regardless of how many Facebook “friends” you have, you can only really rely on 4 actual friends during tough times. When friendship is boiled down to clicking on a request, and some people can’t even be bothered to do that, what does that mean for the state of friendship?

At Happy Medium, we tend to be optimists. Yes, social media has the capacity to separate us from each other but it also has the ability to create more meaningful connections and the smart brands using social understand this.

An interesting post came across my Facebook feed a few days ago. A friend (both online and IRL) posted that she received a call from the surgeon who was going to operate on her knee, asking if she had any questions or concerns. She was impressed that the surgeon himself, not a staff member, took the time to call and make sure she was feeling confident about her upcoming operation.

That’s good customer service. And, because we live in a world where we don’t expect that, not only did the surgeon impress his patient, he probably impressed a number of people who saw my friend’s genuine post. So now, because of social media, that good deed committed by the doctor becomes a walking billboard for his brand of compassion and care. That’s a prescription any business could use.

As individuals, we may only have four friends we can count on, but businesses have to count on a lot more to feed their bottom line so they can ill-afford to mistreat their online acquaintances. And yet, time and again, brands forget basic customer service when it comes to social. 80% of the top 500 retailers ignore questions sent to them via Twitter and only a little more than half respond on Facebook. And the average response is longer than a day. Try sending my company a request that might turn into money and see if you don’t hear from us for a full day. If that happens, it’s the zombie apocalypse and you should find a place to hole up for awhile.

The story about my friend’s surgery proves that social media can be a tool in an overall customer service strategy. I’ll bet that surgeon didn’t call my friend expecting a laudatory Facebook post but he understands that good customer services results in happy customers and happy customers are apt to share their happiness. And just as you wouldn’t ignore a customer who called you on the phone or walked into your shop, you can’t simply avoid conversations online.

Luckily, just as platforms are making it easier to buy products through social, they are making it easier for brands to interact with their customers.

Facebook has launched a beta version of Messenger Business, a modification of their popular Messenger app (800 million users and counting) that allows real-time conversations between customers and businesses.

Twitter has dropped its “mutual follow” rule for direct messages, meaning that brands can reach out to customers directly, even if they don’t follow each other. And those direct messages don’t come with a character limit. We’ll see if brands use these new tools to improve their miserable online customer service numbers but for now, there’s a tremendous opportunity to be ahead of your competitors.

And who knows, when you do something good in real life, you might just find an extra bump for yourself online. People don’t always value their online friends, but brands can’t afford not to.

Katie Patterson is the CEO | Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson

Social media bandwagons…aka the worst things on the planet

- Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

If you spend anytime at all on Facebook, you’ve spotted a friend or two posting this little gem.

Facebook Blog Image

When you saw it you had two choices. Copy and paste as instructed, or assume it was a hoax and keep scrolling. I won’t judge you (too much) if you chose the first option of copying, pasting and posting. It happens to the best of us at some point. About 24 hours after you started seeing the post everywhere on your Facebook, then you probably started to see shared articles proving this was only a hoax.

Then there was this really awkward time when you’d see one person posting the privacy status then the next person on your feed posted the “it’s all a hoax” article. It was probably a confusing time for you. This was not the first privacy hoax to hit Facebook, and it likely won’t be the last.

In these types of situations, it’s probably best to go straight to the source, literally. Facebook is kind enough to offer up their terms here:

When it comes to your photos, here’s the truth about where Facebook stands: For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Before you get too upset that Facebook technically owns anything you put on it, it’s important to remember that you agreed to the terms when you signed up for an account. Further, posting something on your Facebook profile does not and will likely never make it an official legal anything. That’s like thinking Google’s Facebook page can answer your questions. It’s important to remember you are choosing to put your own photos on a platform that you pay nothing for. When you sign up for a social media platform, you are agreeing to be part of the conversation and that agreement means accepting their terms. You get what you pay for, and in this case you are paying nothing so it’s a bit presumptuous to expect privacy.

If you’re not comfortable with this, the best option would be to stop putting images and personal information on Facebook. No matter where you stand though, the next time you see a Facebook “statement” running rampant through your newsfeed. Be on the “in the know” team, do some research, and don’t repost it. 

Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson

5 tips to win social media when job hunting

- Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

I might be a bit biased since I own a company that provides social media as a service, but our recommendation would be to make sure your social media presence is combed through as much as your resume! To people doing the hiring, they are one in the same. Here are some suggestions to make sure your social media is helping you in your interview process.

  1. Exist – Again, I might be digitally biased, but if we can’t find you anywhere online we are likely going to ask ourselves why and be slightly concerned if you don’t have any online presence. You don’t need endless selfies or anything but just an indication that you are part of the game.
  2. Pictures – Once we do find your social media profiles, we are going to, of course, look through them to try and get a better feeling of who you are in your everyday life outside of interviews. This would be a good time to consider taking down your profile picture of you chugging a beer at the last Iowa/ISU game. The key to remember here is it’s not that we’re claiming nobody at our office has ever done that. The real issue is this tells us more about your ability to make professional decisions. It’s not that we really care if you chugged a beer, but we do care that you have the capabilities to decide the correct time and place to post.
  3. Privacy – Most social media platforms are relatively easy to set privacy restrictions on. My recommendation would be to base how tight your restrictions are by platform. Your LinkedIn page for example is a great one to make sure is robust with your resume and extra curricular involvement. LinkedIn would be an example of a platform you would not have restricted. You want any potential future employer to be able to find you on LinkedIn and see everything. On Instagram, for example, you could set to restricted if you have more personal photos there. I tend to set my Facebook to some restrictions. People could still find my profile picture and a few basics about me, but would not be able to see my everyday posts.
  4. Relevancy – One benefit to letting some of your social media stay public for the world to see is to show your skill set and involvement with the industry you are applying in. If a potential employer looks at two candidates’ Twitter accounts and sees one is posting industry content frequently, and the other is only tweeting with friends, it may become a factor in the decision making process of who they are going to hire. At Happy Medium, we definitely like to see people involved with our industry on their own accord. It gives us a great indication they have a true passion for this industry, and they aren’t only looking for a “job” they are trying to find their “career”.
  5. Engagement – speaking of being engaging on social media. One of the easiest ways to stand out is to start engaging with the potential company's social media channels. I always love to see a candidate send an application then a few minutes later see them follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page. It shows me they are likely going to be an active team member, they are researching us and they are very excited to potentially be a part of our team.

Good luck out there  - if you have any questions tweet me! @_klpatterson.

Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson 

The value of a strong work culture

- Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

At Happy Medium, culture is a top priority for us. We not only think of it as an integral part of how we hire new employees but we work really hard to ensure that we are emulating an amazing culture on a daily basis. In this blog, I want to share what culture at Happy Medium means to us, some things we’ve learned along the way, our company values, and some feedback from the rest of the team on what the importance of strong work culture means to them.


We think culture is one of the most important pieces to a successful company. When specific focus is given to the happiness and well-being of a team, the outcome is a bright one. When you give to your employees they give back to the company. It’s really that simple. This starts at the hiring process and trickles all the way to the CEO of the company; everyone has to be a culture fit. Hiring based solely on skill is going to cost you a lot of time, money and unhappy employees. Don’t believe that’s the case? Check out a couple favorite articles here and here.


  • Nothing can ever be perfect and sometimes you have to roll with the punches. Striving to be the best is admirable, but being rigid and disappointed with anything less does not help.
  • Our Culture Team and I have both been hyper aware of everything going on in the office, trying to get a read on everyone and their situation. This has really helped us avoid issues before they turn into bigger issues. It also shows us what works and what doesn’t (this is especially helpful when we’re working on implementing something new in the office).
  • Communication is key. 
  • Onboarding is crucial to the success of a new employee.
  • Failure is always going to happen, but we’ve learned to fail quickly so it doesn’t have as big of an impact on everything else that's going on.
  • We’ve got to keep culture top-of-mind all the time. We reward people for going above and beyond, ring a bell when a new website launches, talk about wins (both professionally and personally) in our weekly and monthly meetings, and are constantly incorporating our values in our day-to-day life. These things help remind people who we are and why we work so hard every day. One of our values is happiness and we want to make sure everyone feels that way.


We recently sat down and defined our company values. These values are at the core of everything we do. I think it’s imperative that a company with any number of employees has a defined set of values. It has opened up some great team conversation and helped to make the whole HM Team think about if we’re living and breathing all of our values on a daily basis. Company culture exists whether you define it or not, so to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals, you have to put those values into words. Take the feeling of working somewhere every day and write it down.

Having a core set of values can also help with hiring decisions and ensure that you are hiring the right people every time. These are the four values that we live and breathe here at Happy Medium:





A strong work culture is essential for me and has always been a top priority since starting the company. What fun things go on around your office? Give us a shout, we love to hear new ideas! 

Katie Patterson is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson

Check your email netiquette

- Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

We’ve all done it — you click send on an email, you watch it go from draft to sent and you noticed there’s a typo, or a date is wrong, or a sentence that makes no sense or, worse, that you’ve replied all and now Karen is going to know you hated her Bundt cake. It’s a terrible feeling.

All you want to do is snatch that email back and now, the people at Google have made that possible. After working on it for six years, Gmail now allows you to unsend an email. You only have 30 seconds to turn back the hands of time but this little feature could save a lot of embarrassment (now if Apple could only allow me to retrieve sent text messages #AutoCorrectFail).

As exciting as this new option is, 30 seconds isn’t a lot of time and doesn’t provide too much of a get out of jail free card if you’ve sent an email with a mistake. It’s still a good idea to practice sound email etiquette (or netiquette) before pressing send. As someone who does a lot of emailing (I send about 120 a day—sigh), I’ve come to a few conclusions on best practices.

1. Never Email Angry:
There are times when you get an email that makes you so furious that all you want to do is send the electronic version of an atomic bomb. A couple of truths about sending a scathing email; it never feels as satisfying as you want it to and, more importantly, burning bridges is a bad idea both online and in conversation (and, now that I think of it, it’s not a great idea at all because it’s arson).

Frustration through email is natural but let me introduce you to the drafts folder, which can be your little private bank of all the nasty things you so desperately want to say but, because you’re a good person, know that you shouldn’t.

2. Know your Audience:
I try to introduce myself in almost every email. There are times, of course, when the receiver will obviously know who you are, but an email should be helpful and you don’t want the reader trying to place how they know you instead of reading what you’ve written.

I love emojis and acronyms and excessive exclamation points but there’s a place for that, it’s the green icon at the bottom of your phone screen. They don’t often belong in an inbox. If I receive an email reading “OMG, Katie, we should totes meet up 2 talk biz opportunities!!!” I know I’m not dealing with a professional. Also, sarcasm and in-jokes are great for in-person conversation but are really difficult to pull off in an email. Do it wrong and your gentle ribbing ends up hurting someone’s feelings because they didn’t receive it in the nature in which it was intended and guess what, that’s your fault, not theirs.

3. Should the conversation be offline?
If you have a difficult email to send or a complicated problem you need to work out, it may be better to set up a meeting or a call. Sometimes a long email is great so the reader can use it as a reference, but other times they are confusing and inefficient. Email is supposed to save time but using one at the wrong time and creating rounds of back-and-forth emails when a quick call would clear up everything is a fail. Knowing when an email makes sense and when an in-person conversation is better is the hallmark of a great communicator.

As a marketer, sending emails is no different than creating a great ad; it’s all about tying the right message to the right audience. A great emailer needs to keep that in mind. There are literally hundreds of wonderful emailing tips; these were just a few of mine. What are some of yours? How about email pet-peeves or frustrations? Let me hear them! E-mail me!

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @klstocking

UX - 2 letters that are vital to your website

- Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

As the digital world continues to constantly evolve, I have to adapt to trends that are integral for myself and our clients. One area rising in interest and importance is User Experience (UX), a concept that involves the development, measurement and implementation of a product to best fit the end user. In the digital world, this can apply specifically to websites.

I asked Happy Medium web developer Jonna Buse, to write about what UX is and why it is vital to a website's success. Please enjoy her blog post - A lesson from "UX task #3":

A few years ago, I attended my first formal UX conference. If you have never heard of UX before, you are not alone. UX stands for User eXperience, and at that time, my department had only been using the term (and the processes that accompany it) for a couple of years.

I expected to meet a variety of people at the conference but went in with an assumption that most of them would come from comparable educational backgrounds as me (computer engineering and design studies). Only an hour into a networking happy hour, however, and I had met a former artist, patent lawyer, entrepreneur, behavioral psychologist, industrial designer, writer and astronaut. (Ok, I made that last one up, but that would have been cool.) I hadn’t even made it to a workshop yet and I had learned two valuable lessons: UX is a big field, and do not assume you know about people.

You may be wondering how all of those differing backgrounds at a single conference could fit under one UX industry umbrella. At the time, it seemed like an overwhelming amount of information to learn, but as I became more experienced in the field, I realized that most of the techniques and tools used by UX folks can be categorized into three basic areas: user research, design, and usability. Essentially, finding out who your users are and what they need, creating it and making sure it works.

On a recent Happy Medium website redesign project, we iterated through this whole research/design/usability cycle. We used a card-sort activity and survey to learn how users mentally organized the content on the site and what was important to them. We used that data to influence the visual design and direction of our early prototype. We then planned for the first round of usability testing. The design of the site seemed solid, and I confidently took our prototype down to our local business client and watched users as they performed some basic tasks.

Then “Task #3“ happened. The first user I tested with clicked an area of the site and just stared at the screen, eventually saying, “I think your prototype is broken.” Nope, it wasn’t. This particular interaction was not intuitive for this user, nor as it turned out, any of the subsequent users. Back to the lesson I learned a few years back – you are not the user. Often times usability testing can feel like watching a child put his shoes on backwards, but for a designer or developer, something may seem easy to use, but that is no guarantee that it will be easy for the target audience.

That’s why research and usability testing is so important – to discover and solve problems before they make it out the door. For customers to want to use your service/site/product again, it needs to let them get something done easily and efficiently. Ideally they will have a little fun while they’re at it. Because at the end of the day, that’s what focusing on UX is all about.

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @klstocking

Social media is the new customer service

- Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

As a marketing agency that offers social media implementation services, Happy Medium hears from clients and potential clients about what scares them about social. “We don’t want our customers to have access to us 24 hours a day,” “If we get a complaint, we want to deal with it privately, not give the complainer a megaphone,” or “We can’t give our customers a public forum for voicing their frustrations.”

We understand the sentiment, but we think their perspective is backwards. If a client could affordably run an ad to their customers for 24 hours a day, they’d want to do it, right? If the good things you do as a company had the potential to be shouted out on a megaphone, you’d go for that, wouldn’t you? That’s what social media is; it’s a place to make negatives a positive. It’s all about customer service.

The fact is, customers will sometimes get disappointed in the goods or services they purchase. This hasn’t changed since the dawn of social media, but too many brands think of social only as a place to give company information and share aspects of their culture. It’s a wonderful tool for that, but it’s even more effective as a customer service aid. It’s no different from an over-the-phone or in-person customer service experience.

If a customer came into your storefront or business and openly complained, you wouldn’t ignore that person. It works the same way on Facebook and other social media platforms. More than half of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes of reaching out to a company on social media (and they expect the same regardless of whether it’s after business hours or a weekend) but the average response time on Facebook for the Top 100 retailers in the United States is 24 hours. Thirty minutes goes by really fast and, depending on the complaint and a company’s compliance, standards and practices, etc., it can be difficult to respond that quickly. Nearly every company can respond quicker than an entire day, though. Would you let the phone ring that long?

It may be scary to think that a customer can air his or her dirty laundry about your company at any time for all of the world to see, but you have to remember that the entire world can see your response too. If you are timely and polite, even if your response directs the customer to a phone number or email address, the rest of the world can see you cared and did the right thing.

Only 36 percent of consumers think that their service requests on social media are being resolved quickly and effectively, but 71 percent of people who have received that effective response will recommend your brand to others. So here’s something that the majority of your competitors aren’t doing well but that turns consumers into advocates who will spend, on average, 20 percent to 40 percent more with companies that engage and respond to them on social media. A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by 125 percent, and all you have to do is treat your customers online like they were on the phone or in your store or business. Are you losing customers on social media? It’s time to respond.

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @klstocking

How live-stream social media apps can change the world

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.

You may not have an answer yet if someone asks you your Meerkat or Periscope handle but live stream social media apps have arrived. As with most new apps, now there is a combination of other similar apps with some new added twists. Since both are very similar I have done most of my experimenting with Periscope.

Periscope is Twitter’s official new live-streaming video app. Periscope is an app within an app, which means you need a Twitter login to get a Periscope account.

So how does it work?

When you log into your Periscope account you’re given the option to see if people you follow are doing any live streaming at that moment, or look into some popular feeds happening then of people you don’t follow. You also have the option of doing your own live stream.

To do so, you create a title of your stream and hit “start broadcast” – and just like that the entire world can and will see what you are up to. Once you’re finished with your broadcast, you end it and it will be left available for your followers to watch back. During a broadcast, anyone can join.

Often when I am doing a broadcast, I’ll have people chiming in with a “hello from Egypt” or “hi from Scotland.” 

It’s now the closest thing we have to teleportation. The people that have joined my broadcast can hear what I am saying, and are also able to type me questions. Anyone watching can see all the questions people type. Then you can answer them by just talking.

The first time I logged on I realized the power this type of media has to completely flip the way we get our news upside-down. The news, how they tell it and how we consume it is such an incredibly large part of each of our lives and the decisions we make daily.

Now when there is a house fire, the scanners go off in newsrooms, which send a photographer and reporter to get to the scene as soon as possible. Once they are there they will get set up, get video then go back to the newsroom, edit it and wait for the news to air it.

They might put it on their website in the meantime, but most local news still would wait for it to air then put it on their site. They might be live on the scene too but it would all still take a lot of time.

With Periscope, they could get to the scene, turn on their phone and everyone could watch immediately. The rest of the world has switched to real-time, why not our news consumption? It will be interesting to see how this becomes regulated over time, as this leaves a huge opportunity to see a lot of things that aren't necessarily allowed on TV. 

For example, the NHL recently successfully banned Meerkat and Periscope in their stadiums, claiming the footage would be in violation of the NHL’s Broadcast Guidelines. It will be interesting to see how other live entertainment venues react to the possibility of their product being posted immediately online.

I personally think the opportunities are endless. I love that I can jump on and see what someone in Costa Rica is doing live today. The world is your oyster and is now more available than ever for your viewing pleasure. Take advantage! Do you think you’ll use Periscope? I’d love to hear. Tweet me @klstocking or comment here. 

Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. 

Are you ready for Google’s new ranking preferences?

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

Beginning April 21st, mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) will be impacted by the mobile-friendliness of a website.

It’s sometimes hard to remember who Google’s true customer is, but it’s actually us, the searchers. People think of Google as a huge unbelievably powerful organization, and it is, but let’s not forget that the number one person they want to make happy is you when you’re looking up business leads or dinner recipes.

Google’s first priority has always been to ensure when someone comes to and searches for something they are finding exactly what they need, now they are investing in your experience while finding it.

Beginning in April, if you have a mobile friendly site, it will help your SEO. Having a mobile friendly site does not mean your website only works on a phone. It means it is a website that was built for mobile.

If it’s not, you can expect your rankings to be significantly impacted for the worse. One way to tell how serious Google is about this is the fact the notoriously elusive business, which holds its algorithm process as close to its chest as can be, has released this information to prepare vendors.

Companies should listen.

According to Restive LLC, only 15 percent of websites are fast and fully responsive to mobile devices - and if you are working or plan to work with a website developer, my recommendation would be to ensure the company plans to incorporate mobile.

Mobile friendly websites present a better experience for all users, especially now that most web traffic is on mobile devices, they bounce less frequently, they are generally faster, and soon, they will rank higher on the biggest search engine in the world.

Having a great website is just part of the process, having one that people can find while working great on the devices they use is just as important. 

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.

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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!


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