Ellen Cline, writer
Creative communication that markets, informs, and entertains

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Social Media is Doggone Hard Work

Author: ; Published: Mar 23, 2013; Category: Business Writing; Tags: , , , , , ; No Comments

Social Media Marketing for Dummies book cover

The name of the chapter highlighting International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) in the newest edition of Social Media Marketing All-in-One for Dummies is telling the truth: “Social Media is Doggone Hard Work.”

IADW is an annual event each August that I help promote. I was pleased to be recognized in the book, along with IADW founder, Marcie Davis, for the work that we do to honor assistance dogs.

The Social Media Marketing “All-in-One” has nine “books,” and IADW is in Book 9, Chapter 1. IADW is used as an example of integrating various tools, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Alerts, and Google Analytics, in addition to more traditional PR and marketing efforts.

When you’re promoting an annual event with a limited budget, use of social media can make a big difference. The main investment is time, rather than money, but of course even time is valuable, so you’re paying one way or another. 

One reason Facebook and other social media work so well for IADW is that it’s an international event. Social media gives us a way to reach an audience in many different countries, now more than 20, who all have a common interest in assistance dogs.

Read the Social Media book pages featuring IADW in a .pdf file.  You can also find out more about the Social media book or order a copy.

To learn more about assistance dogs and International Assistance Dog Week, please visit the International Assistance Dog website

Or check out the IADW Facebook page and see how many more likes we have since the screenshots for the book were taken.


Social Media Tips To Save Your Sanity

Author: ; Published: Jun 20, 2012; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools; Tags: , , , ; No Comments

Social media is driving the sun crazy

“Social Media Sanity: Choosing Social Media Channels for Your Business” was the title of a webinar I attended.  Well, I can relate to that: Social Media can drive people crazy.

Social media can take a lot of time so it’s important to know if the time being spent is worthwhile.  Everyone says your business has to be on social media, but for small businesses, it can be tough to manage along with other tasks.

Presented by the author of Web Marketing for Dummies, Jan Zimmerman, the webinar gave pros and cons of social media and reviewed the main channels, but also talked about other tools and how to manage your social media presence.

The pros of social media?  It’s free (well, except for your time), it improves your search engine optimization, and billions of people use it every day.  It helps you get more people to be aware of your brand; helps drive traffic to your website, and build relationships.

The cons? You can’t just get on Facebook and call it a day. You still need a website and other media channels. And it takes time. As Zimmerman said, “it’s your money or your life,” so you either do it yourself or pay someone else to do it. There’s a lot out there competing for people’s attention so you need to be on your Facebook or other social channels regularly and have a strategy.

What are you trying to achieve?  Is your goal to find new leads or customers?  To drive people to your website? Conduct research? Instill loyalty?  Share information?

Zimmerman advises you to do one channel well before adding more. If you have objectives, you can quantify them and see if your work is paying off.  Just like any marketing, you can see if you have achieved your goals, reached your target audience, and gotten them to take the action you want.

Depending on your goals, the type of social media you engage in will vary.  Facebook, for example, may or may not be the place for your organization or business. You can look at demographics and see if the audience they reach is yours. There are newer channels like GooglePlus with its circles and +1 ratings, “microblogs” like Twitter, professional social networks like LinkedIn. And what about ads on social media sites, are they worth it? There’s a lot to consider and learn about. 

In this presentation Zimmerman touched on just some of what is in the book: information on more specialized, stratified social media sites; social bookmarking and sharing sites that let people share your content; opinion sites, where people review your products/services; social media tools which let you combine all your social media activities in one place and post to more than one site at a time– HootSuite is one such tool; and social networking policies—does your organization have one? 

There was a ton of information covered in this webinar, which really only focused on how social media relates to web marketing. The book, “Web Marketing for Dummies,” which is now on its 3rd edition, teaches you a lot more about websites, e-commerce, mobile marketing, SEO, and much more.

Just this brief glimpse the webinar provided into one part of the book tells me that it’s packed with practical advice and will be a great reference. Want a taste?  Here’s a “cheat sheet” Dummies.com offers for Web Marketing for Dummies.

Facebook is for the Dogs

Author: ; Published: Oct 26, 2011; Category: Business Writing, Communications Tools; Tags: , , ; No Comments

International Assistance Dog Week logo

You might have read about me blogging for the dog  in the past. This spring and summer I was using Facebook for the dogs, specifically for International Assistance Dog Week.

Along with IADW founder, Marcie Davis, we started a Facebook page to help promote IADW 2011, held annually in August. At first I felt like we were just talking to ourselves, since nobody knew about the page or “liked” us. But once we started promoting the Facebook page in our e-newsletter and website, we began to build our audience, and the page became an important part of our overall communications.

As the time for IADW approached, the posts on the page were more and more about global events participating organizations were presenting, and links to media coverage of IADW. Now that IADW 2011 is over, we continue to post every day, but the posts are more about general assistance dog topics. As we move into the new year, we’ll start promoting next summer’s IADW, along with general assistance dog information.

More and more, there are others joining in the conversation. The IADW page is evolving as a place where people can not only find news, but also promote their assistance dog events, ask questions about assistance dogs, share information, and connect with others.

From zero about six months ago, we’ve built up the IADW page to now having almost 800 likes. I think a lot of our growth has to do with:

  • Posting consistently, year round
  • Sharing posts from related organization/topic pages
  • Promoting the page through emails and other communications
  • Having friends’ pages invite their followers to like us
  • Facilitating comments and discussion when needed

What has been great, too, is having people start to see the page as theirs, posting their own news and events, instead of just waiting for us to post. And when Facebook luminaries like Surf Dog Ricochet, with more than 50,000 “likes,” ask their friends to like IADW on Facebook, well, that doesn’t hurt either.

Some relatively new Facebook features are also helpful, including Insights, the tagging feature, and recommendations on who to follow. Then there are the old faithful features, like comments.

  • Insights gives us statistics about people visiting the page, data which might be of interest to potential corporate sponsors, as it shows visitor numbers and demographics.
  • Tagging lets us share information with like-minded individuals and organizations, and have our posts show up on their pages, helping to bring awareness of IADW to more people.
  • The recommendations from Facebook on who to “like” is similar to a feature that’s been on Twitter for a while. It can be very useful in turning up pages we might not have known about.
  • Comments let IADW friends interact with Marcie Davis, IADW founder and assistance dog author and expert, and with each other.

This was the first year IADW was celebrated internationally, and Facebook is one way for this nonprofit event to reach people globally, with the only expense being time.