The Art of Building A Company’s Social Media Presence

We’ve adopted the internet into countless aspects of our lives. Social media has, in turn, become such a significant part of our lives – whether we like it or not. From keeping up with friends and family to following companies we love, reading news on Facebook and Twitter and discovering inspirational influencers on Instagram, social media has become a go-to source for a constant flow of information. As a result, it has become a place to see, to be seen, and to become connected – particularly for companies.

What’s the point?

A company’s social media presence can offer numerous benefits. It can:

  • Provide a glimpse into their culture and values.
  • Help build a larger-than-life presence and provide more value to the company’s name – particularly since people often question whether or not a company is real if they can’t be found on any social media platform.
  • Establish a unique personality tied to the brand, with flexible posting and personalization capabilities that open doors to the most creative of content.
  • Serve as another route for the brand to engage with the audience, as well as a point-of-contact for consumers to reach the company – quickly being able to tweet at a brand is much easier than trying to find a customer service contact and sending an email.

Let’s talk about timing.

Regardless of benefits, there’s one thing to keep in mind: timing is everything. If a company is just starting out, perhaps it’s not quite time to jump into the online world. Instead, the best time to kick off social media profiles is when a company is established, with solid brand messaging and something to tell their audience.

If you are at that time, there are two key things you should know before you make the leap:

  • What you want your social presence to drive. Are you looking to attract recruits? Are you trying to build a larger customer base? This will help you direct your efforts and your content.
  • Who your point person is. Who will manage your platforms and make any final calls? This person should be able to provide insight on initiatives and run with creative ideas.

Where should we start?

When your company is at a solid standing with its brand messaging and ready to dive into the social media world, it’s time to address the big question: which platforms do you start with?

There’s no single, correct answer here. This fully depends on your company’s goals with their online presence as mentioned above. With that, it’s difficult to pin-point any particular set of social channels all companies should start with.

So take the time to address what you want your presence to drive and consider how each platform can help. Twitter is great for sharing quick news and updates; LinkedIn can help with hiring efforts; Facebook is great for growing a dedicated community. When we work on social media for our clients here at Inner Circle Labs, we often find ourselves starting with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – but the choice is yours.

Moving forward…

As you begin to build your company’s social presence, make sure to remember these three simple, yet crucial things:

  • Don’t neglect the platforms. Stay consistent with your posting cadence and keep your content interesting. Engage with your followers and give each profile the attention it needs to grow. It won’t grow without your help!
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small and grow your way up the stepladder. Stick with a few posts a week and don’t commit to posting four times a day unless you’re prepared to stick with it – know not to overwhelm yourself initially.
  • Pay attention to your posts and the comments that follow. This is a twofold concept – first, be aware of your posts and make sure that they are a) conveying the message you intended, b) don’t have any spelling or grammar errors and c) are interesting enough to draw an audience. Second, keep an eye on the comments and responses to your posts – and don’t be afraid to respond to them, either. Engagement is key, and knowing how your audience feels about your content can help you tweak or develop your content further in the future.

All in all, social media is a beautifully constructed way to reach an audience in the most personal form – as long as you know how and when to use it. It’s a must-have for companies looking to share big news, just like the traditional press release in the PR world. Social media will only continue to grow in years to come and will become an even more necessary platform to share company announcements and thought leadership. Consider this carefully, and use it wisely.

Other social media tips to share? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page:

Media Q&A: Beth Wischnia, Brit+Co

In our next media Q&A, we get to better understand which traditional PR tactics can truly help a reporter out. In this post, we hear from Beth Wischnia, the beauty editor for Brit+Co, a former PR person, and someone you should get to know.

Q: Tell us about a time a PR person has blown you away (in a good way).

There is a small agency in NYC I work with frequently that always blows me away. I've developed relationships with their publicists, so I can really count on them to only send me very relevant, timely pitches — and when we're working on a story, they always deliver. They respond quickly (and at all hours, bless their hearts), are very dependable, and really take the time to anticipate my needs as a writer — like proactively including hi-res images with pitches, using bullet points in their emails so I can quickly scan, sending me legit experts, etc.

Q: How important are PR events for brands?

Very. Events are a great way to bring a brand to life and to have consumers experience a product or service firsthand. Being able to interact with founders and brand execs is an added bonus. I try to go to as many relevant, worthwhile events I can so I can establish (and maintain) relationships with brands that are important to me and the readers I write for. That said, it's important to not waste your time going to everything you get invited to — it will get exhausting!

Q: What’s the best way for a new PR person to build a relationship with a reporter like you?

Sending me a thoughtful, relevant pitch is a great start. From there, understanding the content I create — beyond traditional editorial —  and tailoring future pitches to reflect that will make me really appreciate and prioritize a PR person if I see his or her name pop up in my inbox. Also, experts are e v e r y t h i n g. Sending me a constantly updated list of the experts you work with (and including topics they can speak to) is invaluable to me!

Q: Phone pitches – yes or no? If yes, how can someone grab your attention in the first few seconds??

Noooo. I used to have my phone number in my email signature but removed it for this reason! I find it incredibly distracting and unnecessary. It's really unlikely that what I am working on at the exact moment you call is related to what you are calling about, so to me, it's the most ineffective way to get my attention. A Tweet would be a much better way to get on my radar quickly.

Onboarding at a PR Agency – 6 tips from the ICLabs’ training committee

You did it! You finally found the best candidate for your open position. Now you can sit back and look forward to their first day…not so fast. Onboarding (the process in which new hires adjust to the job quickly and smoothly) needs to happen.

At ICLabs, we’ve done a lot of researching and tinkering when it comes to this and in this post, we outline our tips to ensure your employees gets the best first week month experience possible. Employees are a company’s biggest asset and turnover is expensive – therefore, it’s extremely important for PR agencies especially to invest in the onboarding process. Here’s what you can consider:

Before an employee starts

  • Everyone remembers their first day, right? – this goes without saying but make sure your office is ready for your new team members. We’ve heard stories about companies without a first day plan in place, or worse, didn’t know a new employee would be starting that day – don’t be that company! The first day will require prep work from a few different individuals and it needs to happen ahead of time. Start by envisioning the ideal first day and creating a checklist of what needs to happen ahead of time -- everything from having a computer/workstation ready to knowing who will be the first person to greet the new employee.
  • Don’t hide your excitement – whether it’s a tweet to announce your new team member or a casual happy hour in their honor, find a way to welcome your new team member that is unique to your company. The feeling is mutual, plus, we’ve found that these little gestures go a long way and make a lasting impression.

The first week

  • Find the right balance of training and work – the first week is crucial for training and getting to know the role, but try to incorporate real work. You’d be surprised to know how many new hires are anxious to show you what they can do. It’s best if you can incorporate work that relates to recent trainings. If not, figure out a set of tasks that can be done with little to no formal trainings and can still offer value to your team.
  • Do you know who you’re working with? – Get to know your co-workers. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting but make sure the new hire spends some time with the people he/she is working with regularly. People are great about doing this on their own and we’ve found that this is a great way to learn more about the history, brand or culture of the company.

After the first month

  • Keep it going – onboarding sets the foundation but it doesn’t end after the first week. Our team makes onboarding a focus for at least a quarter. This ensures that an employee (and the company) isn’t completely overwhelmed during the first week. Plus, it allows us to tailor specific trainings to an employee’s need.
  • Feedback – ask the new hire what they thought of the onboarding process. See what they liked and didn’t like and make tweaks to your onboarding process as necessary. Other than performance, having the new hire complete a questionnaire or meet with HR/hiring manager is the best way to determine if your approach was effective.

We’re constantly looking at new approaches and strategies, so let us know what you think on our Facebook page.

ICLabs & NewCo SF: What to expect

Inner Circle Labs was selected to be a presenting company at this year’s NewCo SF festival. We have a great panel and some surprises in store, and we prepared this short sneak peek clip letting you know what to expect:

There are many assumptions about the PR industry and I’m sure a few come to mind. Our team will share our thoughts and experiences and hear if attendees think these PR myths are true or not.

If you’re not familiar with NewCo, then you’re missing out. It’s a different type of festival where San Francisco’s most innovative companies open their doors and present to the community. There are 125 companies presenting this year, including Pinterest, Airbnb and SoundCloud. And the best part? It’s free! If you’re interested in checking out our panel on 9/11, then sign up here. Hope to see some of you next week.

New iPhone on the Way? This post is for YOU

Our team loves mobile apps. It’s probably one of our favorite office topics – and we really do get excited about new apps that we find incredibly useful.

So in honor of the new iPhone 5 launch, we put together a list of our favorite apps. Some of these apps may already be on your radar and some may not. But, we hope you’ll uncover a new favorite. So without further delay, here is our list of favorite apps (at least for now). Happy downloading.

  • AGOGO – finally, an app that changes the way we consume audio content – we dig it because you control the content you’re listening to
  • Baby Connect – great for parents who want to track their babies’ activities
  • CNN – CNN notifications keep you aware of what’s going on in the world
  • EasilyDo – imagine an app that keeps your life in line and organized – this personal assistant app does just that
  • Foursquare – a great way to see where you’ve been, and you’re offered deals at certain check-ins; plus being a mayor of something doesn’t hurt either
  • Instacart – this app is a lifesaver – it features photos, prices and descriptions of everything you can find at Safeway, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Costco, and delivers it to you
  • Instagram – a familiar favorite that helps us stay in the loop with friends
  • InstaWeather – like we said, we love Instagram – this app adds a cool weather overlay with forecast details and more to photos
  • MindSnacks – think fun mobile game like Angry Birds or Candy Crush but this one teaches you something (and you won’t feel as bad spending that much time on a game)
  • NextBus – since most of us take the bus, this app tells you when the bus is coming and going since no one likes waiting for the bus
  • 1 Second Everyday – create a video through one second snippets of your life
  • Pandora – our favorite stations are Hall & Oates, Beyonce, Usher and Montell Jordan
  • Pocket – you can save articles all day long to read on the Pocket app later (and you don’t need an internet connection)
  • Slice – perfect for online shoppers, Slice keeps track of purchases and shipments and doesn’t require you to fill in details
  • Snapchat – we’ve become obsessed with this messaging service. Who doesn’t love getting a snap?
  • Solar – a gorgeous weather app that provides perfect insight into the day
  • Starbucks – because there’s a Starbucks on every corner in SF and it’s fun to pay with your phone (not to mention the extra perks such as free songs and apps)
  • Swoon – this is better than those other hookup/dating/mutual matching apps because it’s created for women by women
  • Venmo – makes it super easy to transfer money with friends that adds a fun social element
  • Voxer – puts a new spin on voice messages – it’s like receiving a telegram but it’s read aloud
  • Zite –everyone’s favorite – this app finds news that matters to you. It’s like magic!

Vine Crazed

The crew at ICLabs has been experimenting with various ways to use Vine, the video sharing app. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans here – not only for personal use but in our jobs as well.

We thought it would be helpful to share what we learned about Vine, especially when it comes to creating content. Here are our top five tips for developing Vines:

  1. Have a theme for the Vine video. All clips should add up to one meaningful message.
  2. Take advantage of how much you can fit into a six second clip. You can fit more content than you think and it’s cool to see a bunch of really short (.5 second) clips strung together.
  3. Movement plays really well on Vine. Videos don’t need to be filmed from a static location.
  4. It’s OK if your clip isn’t perfect. People aren’t expecting a professional video and you can easily re-do a clip if necessary.
  5. Hashtags work in Vine. Don’t forget to add the appropriate terms so people can find your video. And now you can tag users too.

The possibilities are endless and we hope this inspires you to think about the ways to leverage Vine.

Let us know your tips and your favorite Vines via Twitter!

New Office Space

Our team recently moved from SF’s Financial District to SOMA so we wanted to offer a sneak peek into our new office space.

Located on the corner of First and Folsom, our office has its own grand entrance with a huge Inner Circle Labs sign that can be seen from the outside. The new office brings us more space so not only can we accommodate for more employees, we’ve also created new rooms to foster creativity and collaborations. There’s a play-themed brainstorming room complete with LEGOs and Play-Doh to inspire ideas, a yoga room for quick exercise breaks, a changing room for getting ready after workouts, a library filled with the newest publications and even a bar for happy hour hosting.

The entire team had a hand in decorating the space as well. Check out some of the crowdsourced art pieces that we’ve chosen to decorate our space.

To top it off, we hosted a fun-filled office warming party to break in the new digs. Complete with a purple step-and-repeat, cake pops and, yes, even purple champagne, we celebrated in true ICLabs style with some of our friendlies.

We’re happy to call SOMA our home for the next few years. As we’re still getting familiar with the neighborhood, we’d love to hear your suggestions for good eats or places in the area to check out. Hit us up to let us know.

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XConomy’s Beyond Mobile: Computing in 2021

On Tuesday, ICL braved the rain and 101 traffic to attend XConomy’s Beyond Mobile: Computing in 2021 event at SRI in Menlo Park. Was it worth the trek? Yes! Not only did we hear mobile predictions from SRI, Microsoft and Calit22, we also saw our favorite robot, Anybots, grace the stage with their “tele-presence”. So will we see a Windows Phone 15 in the near future? We shall see…in the meantime, we leave you with some takeaways from the program:

  • Unfortunately, most advancements don't get picked up due to cultural reasons, not because of technical limitations
  • Over time, the questions we ask don't change, just the answers do
  • Reason is overvalued by the minds of the tech space. The majority of the population is not up to speed with what we find to be easy and reasonable

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