Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Top 5 Apps for Digital Curation, Growth and Reporting

I am a digital media manager which means I spend most of my time creating and posting content on various platforms, then reviewing analytics to share this content to its proper audience. When I first began in this field, I relied heavily on KloutSprout Social and Hootsuite to help me post my content, making sure they met their maximum reach and engagement potential. The following article will not be bashing any of these great tools, if they work for you then keep using them, but there are other new and useful options I have discovered to be even more beneficial.
  1. Publish – As most developers and digital strategists know, Instagram is very picky who they release their API to. For instance, Sprout, Hootsuite, and Latergramme, your options to do anything on Instagram is very limited. On Hootsuite, you can check out what people are posting and you can engage with their content, but they have figuratively the worst publishing option I’ve come across. In fact, it’s so awful that I immediately switched to Publish upon discovering that the well-thought out caption I wrote on my computer had to be completely rewritten when the photo opened in my Instagram app. On Publish, I can attach the image I want, with the language I need and post to Instagram. While the Instagram app still needs to open, everything transfers over and all you have to hit is “post.” The Publish app’s algorithm also figures out when users are most active and gives you the option to allow them to post for you at these times.

  2. SumAll – If I could physically hug this particular digital marketing tool, I would. Though I have only dabbled with the free account, I know this tool has the potential to improve any social media manager’s workflow in a heartbeat. Good engagement-provoking content is absolutely the most important factor to an excellent digital media strategy. You WANT to get your audience talking so you can respond to them, but how would you know you’re even hitting the right demographic without analytics? The key to an over-all effective digital strategy are allowing insights and reports to work hand-in-hand with content curation and engaging with the consumer. SumAll reports takes all of the tedious, time-consuming elements of writing social media presentations by preparing them for you, allowing managers more time to focus on starting conversation with their customers. In addition to its reporting features, SumAll also offers Insights and Audience Boost services.

  3. Crowdfire – I have to admit, I just started using this app, but it’s incredibly useful when it comes to my online fan-base. With Crowdfire, I am able to find out who is following my client that I may not be following back, and who isn’t following me that I may be following. This encourages me to either strike up a conversation, or remove them from my list. I can see who recently followed or unfollowed me, and which of the accounts I follow went in inactive. I can also use their Copy Followers tool to follow accounts that follow my competitors who may be interested in my clients’ services, too. Crowdfire users are even able to find out who is tweeting nearby with specific hashtags and keywords. There are a ton of other great features I still need to discover, but what I’m using now is nothing short of extremely beneficial.

  4. Tweet Deck – Tweet Deck is easily still the greatest Twitter scheduling tool. Its interface is almost exactly like that of Hootsuite, but it is strictly for Twitter, because it's made by Twitter. I think what I like the most about Tweet Deck is that I can choose to shorten my links with Twitter or with I have always been an avid user. I love the insights provided through and how easily accessible they are. Hootsuite users their own link shortening tool,, but you have to actually pair it with your Hootsuite account to review your analytics. Plus, I have always found links to be less attractive than Bit.lys or short links. It just screams “GUESS WHAT MOM AND DAD? I’M USING HOOTSUITE.” I know, I know… beauty is in the eye of its beholder. Tweet Deck allows you to schedule your tweets based off of your most optimal time discovered from your SumAll reports (Hootsuite does allow you to do this automatically.) With Tweet Deck, you can customize your columns and even follow along with trends specific to your services. You can follow back, tweet, RT and favorite from one simple dashboard.

  5. The native platforms themselves! – Of course from a scheduling mindset, I use Tweet Deck for tweets and I log into Facebook for publishing content but nothing beats posting in real time – NOTHING! You won’t miss anything if you never logout. I am always checking my clients’ accounts when I check my own and it has done wonders for me in terms of going beyond simply scheduling and checking data. As we know in the world of social media, it’s extremely important to allow content, data and engagement to work together. When we can interlink these three strategies to work hand-in-hand, we see a social strategy that is not only good looking, but effective! Twitter and Facebook both have awesome analytics tool that allows you to see what your fans like based off of demographic.
These are simply my opinions of the best tools to use for social media marketing. I know that there are some great ones out there, but these work best for me. This industry is ever changing and constantly growing, and I want to grow with it, so if there are other options you think I should try out, let me know!
Adele Stewart is the Director of Social Media and Public Relations blogger.
Twitter: @adelemariestew​
LinkedIn: /AdeleMarieStew

Friday, July 10, 2015

How a General Contractor Compares to an SEO Professional

"Consider a business owner who is looking to build an entirely new location for his or her office. The land has been purchased and now it needs to be cleared, leveled, and excavated. The foundation must be laid, the structure built, various utilities installed, and countless other projects must be completed before the new building can open for business. Would you expect to see a well-rounded general contractor operating a bulldozer this week, pouring concrete next week, framing walls the week after, and wiring the building for electricity a month later? In a construction, a single person, no matter how skilled, would rarely take on a number of such specialized roles; instead, the general contractor will bring in subcontractors to handle each area with precision and specific expertise. The same principles can apply to increasing your company’s online visibility, as a team of niche SEO professionals with individual areas of strength can be much more efficient and successful than a single, SEO “general contractor.”" 
- Greg Wildman, OVC Lawyer Marketing Blog, July 10, 2015.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

3 Tips to Overcome Your Social Media Fears

I posted this on the Epic Web Studios blog last summer, but I think it's worth revisiting. As we began to head toward the second month of the new year, it's important to remind organizations just how important social media is for their business.
6/4/2014 -- Social Media is exploding. What started out years ago as simply social networking, has turned into digital advertising, media marketing, and so much more. When Epic Web first opened its doors, it was a Web Development company that sold social media as an added package. Today, it sells Social Media as its own entity.
However, many organizations and companies face a “Social Media Anxiety” –a fear of creating a social presence for their business. Here are tips on how to alleviate your social anxiety:
1. Use Social Media as Your CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Take the time to learn the benefits social media engagements have your business. Some fear social media, as it is a direct way to receive customer complaints and insults. They fear they will say the wrong thing and will tarnish the image they have set up for their brand.
HOWEVER, it’s imperative to humanize your brand. Just like stopping at the customer service desk in the physical world, social media users are expecting to engage with your brand and receive responses from another human being.
You would be surprised how much a person’s tone can change after a representative reaches out to them over social media.
2. Use Discovery on Platforms to Re-Strategize
As stated in a previous blog post, social media is the best marketing research tool right now. Engagements and interactions bring your customers’ needs into the light. When you are writing your strategic plan for the next quarter or year, you can base your next big move with social media’s help.
Your customers are chatting about products and brands right now all over the internet. Observe who they’re talking about and mirror that campaign as best you can with your own products/business. Analyze how other companies and organizations handle customer service and make a list of how you can do it better.
Not only will your customer’s suggestions and responses be of help to your market research, but your social media insights can help you determine who you should be selling for. Run various campaigns and see what works for your clients, and use those analytics to re-strategize.
3. Engage with Your Customers Frequently
The most important thing you can be doing on social media is actively engaging with your fan base. Whether it’s answering complaints, responding to suggestions, or plain old thanking your customers – show your customers that you appreciate their support! Chances are if you are actively engaging with them, they will encourage others to try out your business as well.
Your customer’s are your biggest promoters. Their involvement on your social media can do wonders for your business. Show your gratitude by hosting giveaways for your top fans, which in turn will bring more clients to your business. If you help them out, they are likely to help you out too.
Though it seems like an intimidating place to be, social media's benefits are really great for your business/organization. If you’re not engaging online, you are already losing potential customers. Don’t get left behind, take the plunge into social networking today.
If you’re still fearful of social media, contact Epic Web’s Social Media team. They will talk you through your digital marketing stress, and fit you to the next level of social media advertising.
Adele Stewart is a Digital Media Strategist at Epic Web Studios, a web development & strategic planning firm in Erie, PA, and Public Relations blogger. If you have questions about running a successful digital advertising campaign, contact Epic Web’s Social Media team today!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Startups & the Big Data Revolution

In fact, the skill is proving to be more useful now than ever. Startups all over the country are incorporating big data technology as a major part of developing their business strategy both digitally and traditionally. Simple ideas such as Netflix, Uber and Foursquare became large successes by the use of big data. Even companies in small cities like Erie, PA use data-mining to build their own ideas. In order to be one step ahead of their customers, innovators researched what their potential customers wanted more of, who their friends were and everything the potential customers liked - before the customer even realized it.
According to an article on, Netflix uses machine learning to engage customers and help them determine the user's preference. For example, when an user watches something, they can give a rating which will help Netflix determine what movies and TV shows to suggest to them. They can also see patterns in a user's queue to determine what types of movies they're most likely going to want to watch.
Uber uses regression analysis, which can determine the size of a neighborhood, price of the houses in the neighborhood depending on prices, demographics, schools and other information. According to, Uber uses this information to determine which neighborhoods will be busy on the weekends, which areas have the most bars and clubs, and when to add "surge charges" to their customers' bills. Like Netflix, Uber uses regression analysis to determine customer satisfaction, and since this type of big data is so sophisticated, it can also take other variables like the weather report into factor. According to, "it works best with quantitative data."

Foursquare uses a data-mining method called social network analysis. With this technique, Foursquare essentially finds the greatest "influencer" in a social network group and markets specifically to them, in hopes that said "influencer" will market the product to their friends. Social network analysis is so intricate that out of all the information it collects from the user, it only takes into consideration likes and dislikes, and studies the patterns between people and their ties between those with similar patterns and interests. According to the article on, Foursquare's approach focuses on the importance of one individual in a group and the minimum number of connections between two people. From there it can not only market places, but products and neighborhoods to individuals or one individual directly called a "maven" in big data terms. The maven then recommends this location to their connections and the other friends will follow suit.
Big data isn't  just limited to these digital platforms. Small businesses in areas across the United States are opening up to the idea of taking a non-traditional approach. For instance, four businesses in Erie, PA were able to open debt free from using an innovative fundraising campaign called Quickstarter.
Creator of Quickstarter Kris Wheaton, an associate professor of Intelligence Studies at Mercyhurst University in Erie, studied other Kickstarter campaigns in the Erie area and tried to measure their success. Compared to other cities in the state and nationally, he concluded that the city of Erie was "both underrepresented and had a higher-than-average failure rate." 
Would-be business people have their own skills, but often need some support in designing effective fundraising campaigns on Kickstarter. Intelligence students at Mercyhurst University were paired with these owners to essentially do the "dirty work" for them. Students studied neighborhoods, city-trends, and potential audience in order to develop a strategy that would prove to be most successful on Kickstarter. The four Quickstarters launched by Wheaton and his students were fully funded in less than the allotted 30 days.
Data analysis can be used for many different functions, but ultimately serves one purpose – growing a startup to its greatest and fullest potential.
* This skill is not dying, in fact, it’s becoming one of the most sought-after skill-sets for college graduates. If this is something that interests you, I encourage you to take a look at the Ridge School at Mercyhurst University’s various data science programs.
Adele Stewart is the Director of Social Media at Epic Web Studios, a web development & strategic planning agency in Erie, PA, and Public Relations blogger. If you have questions about running a successful digital advertising campaign, contact Epic Web’s Social Media team today!
Twitter: @adelemariestew​
LinkedIn: /AdeleMarieStew

Friday, May 22, 2015

An Ode to the Brand Marketer

I have been overly obsessed with reading articles about brand marketing - I think my next step in life ought to be picking up a marketing degree. From my current experience, I am learning quickly that advertising is much more than coming up with a catchy slogan and creative imagery to match. There's much more thought to it. 
Sometimes I see an ad and find myself saying, "WHY IS THAT DOG BREAK DANCING?" or, "Why are these Steve Madden ads human Bratz Dolls?!" I find it hard to believe people are buying these products. I mean, who comes up with this stuff? 
The brand marketer does. And chances are, if I'm confused by these ads, I'm probably not the audience they were going after.
Trust me - there is a lot that goes behind market research. Identifying an audience is hard! Sometimes we find that a brand's audience is not at all who they had expected them to be. I've seen brands come into my agency with a "from the gut assessment" target audience of women between the ages of 35-55 years old. But what we have found is that a slightly younger audience is spending the most money on their product, and engaging the most with their brand.
After the research is done, it's someone's job to take this information and turn it into the successful campaigns that bring the audience in through the door, and the products out of it. 
Someone has been creating the ads to captivate a target audience since the late 1600s. Whether they had the same tools as we do today or not, the idea has remained the same - sell your product.
Mercure Galant fashion plate from the 1780s.
The role of a brand marketer revolves around exercising their creative, and I have never believed that creative was something that could be taught, or a degree that could be obtained. Creative people can learn new techniques and what may please an audience, but a successful campaign relies on natural talent, skill and even empathy.
So, here's an ode to brand marketers from the 1600s to today! Take a look at these amazing images and check out this article on Ceros about the Evolution of Print Content.
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ad from the 1910s.
Baby Ruth Ad, 1940s.
Coca-Cola ad from the 1940s.
Nabisco Premium Saltines billboard from the 1950s.
Chef Boyardee Ravioli ad, 1971
Newport Ad 1980s
Austin Powers, among other celebrities posing for Got Milk, 1990s
Adele Stewart is the Director of Social Media at Epic Web Studios, a web development & strategic planning agency in Erie, PA, and Public Relations blogger. If you have questions about running a successful digital advertising campaign, contact Epic Web’s Social Media team today!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

​YouTube Video Shares Decline as Facebook Video Shares Increase

This was originally posted for my company, Epic Web Studios on 2/10/2015.
If your company isn't using Facebook Video to advertise, it should be.
Facebook Video is now bigger than YouTube for brands according to an article on Socialbakers. In October the website shared data showing an increase in Facebook video shares that was quickly catching up to YouTube. In fact, Socialbakers analyzed over 180,000 Facebook Video posts across 20,000 Facebook pages.
From January 2014 to December 2014, analysts watched YouTube shares decline from almost 100,000 shares to below 60,000 views, while Facebook video shares went from 40,000 to nearly 80,000 giving them the upper hand by 20,000 shares.

Though this is a serious threat to YouTube, it does not necessarily mean the death of YouTube will be any time soon. YouTube videos can still be embedded into brand’s websites. This is definitely a significant advantage to YouTube, as having content on multiple platforms only aids in promoting brand visibility.
Personally, I host most of my clients’ videos on YouTube and download them to share on Facebook. I only like to use Facebook videos for the fact they play right in the news feed, as opposed to taking viewers to a separate site by force. I use both sites for video marketing, but still rely heavily on YouTube to share videos on other platforms while also embedding them on other sites.
At this time, I don’t foresee myself dropping YouTube entirely, though I will be following trends from both sites a bit more closely.
So, will your brand be making the switch from YouTube to Facebook video this year? What are your 2015 predictions for Facebook video shares versus YouTube shares?
Adele Stewart is a Digital Media Strategist at Epic Web Studios, a web development & strategic planning firm in Erie, PA, and Public Relations blogger. If you have questions about running a successful digital advertising campaign, contact Epic Web’s Social Media team today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Working From Home vs. Being in the Office

As many folks already know, I took quite a spill recently, shattering my ankle in two different areas when heading into work one icy Monday morning. At first I thought I could handle sitting in my small space at the office and having the ability to prop my foot up on the community couch when I needed a break. That lasted a full day, and barely. I was in sheer discomfort for most of the day. By the time I got home at 6pm, I was ready for bed. 

Because of how exhausted one day made me, I was able to get my work’s network setup on my house computer so I could access everything on the company’s shared drive when I needed it. The first day of this stressed me out a bit, I couldn’t figure out where files were, and it took a while for my co-workers to get back to me on things I considered kind of urgent. Even my boss was stressed and kept me on the line for 30 minute increments at a time which made it nearly impossible to get things done. 

I spent a good hour that evening pulling my hair out, and getting things organized into a “To Do List” for the next day. 

When I woke up and crutched to my computer the next morning, I found that working from the comfort of my own heat, my own windows, my own computer was actually a wonderful feeling, now that I had a game plan. 

I was able to barrel through my list in a few hours, take a nap, eat a hearty lunch and then get ahead of more work when I returned to my desk. Although it seems like a dream come true, I think it’s beneficial to sort through the pros and cons of working from home versus being in the office. 

Pros of Working from Home

At work, there are three of us squished in a small(er) room with windows leading to nowhere and no carpet or insulation to absorb heat. Being at home during a Pennsylvania winter is nice. I have access to natural light, and I can control the heat. I can even grab a blanket and keep my pj’s on while I crank out work. 

There’s no one to talk to, so I am completely zoned into what I’m doing at all times. Aside from the occasional text message or package delivery, I have no distractions at home. I’m pretty lucky in the sense that there aren’t a lot of people in my house or even in my neighborhood during the day, so there is no dire need to pull away from my work. I seem to have more of a drive to get work done when I’m at home, knowing that once I’m done I can sit in front of the television and binge on Netflix all evening. 

Cons of Working from Home

I don’t have access to the work phone when I’m at home. If someone calls the office looking for me, my co-workers have to give them my cellphone number – which I don’t feel everyone needs to have. I thrive off of my privacy and being in the social media field, I don’t get as much of it as I would like. From past experiences, I have had clients call me over the weekend to request something that could easily have been worked on the next week. I can turn off email notifications when I’m away from my desk or over the weekend, but I can’t just stop receiving calls. 

I really like my co-workers. They are my work family and we come up with some really great ideas when we’re all together. When I am working from home, I find myself messaging them through Google Hangouts throughout the day, or sending detailed emails of ideas I’ve just come up with. Though the focus is great, I miss being able to turn around to say, “Hey, what do you guys think about this post -” and instantly get their feedback. It’s quiet, it’s weird, and doesn’t feel social enough for a Social Media Professional.

That’s my brief list for my short time away from the desk. I suppose it really could go one of both ways – I could stay home and get nothing done, or stay home and get everything done. 

What is your preference? At home? In the office? Pros? Cons? I want to hear your thoughts!