Summer Blog Series - Ramblings of the Intern: 1 of 10

Born into a family with eight siblings, it’s hard finding one’s identity. Throughout my life, I have been striving to create my individuality. In my family, there is one of every type of person and discovering who I was has always been elusive. I knew only a few things upon graduating high school in 2012: I didn’t want to live in poverty, I wanted a successful career that I enjoyed, and I loved my significant other with every fiber of my being.

During high school, I started attending Anoka Ramsey Community College through Minnesota’s great Post Secondary Enrollment (PSEO) Option program. Upon receiving my high school diploma, I was undecided of a major so I continued to get my associate’s degree while simultaneously paying off my student loans. At ARCC I took an intro economics class which sparked my fascination with the subject. A friend of mine convinced me to attend MNSU so I decided to accompany him on that adventure.

I started off as an International Business major because I wanted to be wealthy and travel the world. However, as I took more of the core business classes I found there was more for me in economics. The economics advisor compared me switching majors equal to upgrading from a Dodge Charger to a Ferrari.

Not long after that, I fell in love with a woman who I have since asked to marry me. My fiancé and I are happily planning a wedding, while both of us work and I finish my degree. This spring I applied for an internship with Decklan Group and they graciously accepted me as their pupil. My ten weeks at Decklan Group are going to be filled with learning, applying knowledge obtained from school, as well as both Annie and Tim, interacting with clients, and developing skills that will skyrocket my career in more ways than I can fathom.

With Decklan Group this summer I hope to provide a fresh pair of eyes to all of their accomplishments. I would like to increase efficiency (if that’s even possible), fine tune my skills, and experience real-world situations that will be hugely beneficial to local economies. Attending MNSU helped me find the love of my life. My time at Decklan Group is the beginning of my successful career, which will in turn help me not live in poverty. I accomplished one goal of mine on my own, but the others will be accomplished with the help of Annie and

Five Ways Destination Brands Can Be Built Organically

Another article in our series of guest blogs here at Decklan Group. Our branding project partner and specialist Steve Chandler of Chandlerthinks. Be sure you check his company out, you'll be happy you did!

I help destinations and communities with the process of branding themselves. It's not an easy task. Perhaps mostly because unlike any company, there is no sole organization or person that has control of the brand. A "place" is defined by ALL of the businesses, people, organizations, buildings and stories within it. And all of them speak in a different voice. It is very important for the led organizations of a community to rally together and capture a unified voice that can be used for outward marketing of tourism and economic development. That process requires great collaboration, organization, expertise and resources. Even when that happens, I've learned the communities that are most successful, do so because of related (and sometimes not) organic events that give them instant identification. Here are a five that jump to mind.

  1. What's your team? Seems a little strange right? Does your community have a professional sports team? If so what is their name? Bowling Green, KY has the Hotrods. Chattanooga has the Lookouts. Green Bay has the Packers. Pittsburgh has the Steelers. Houston has the Oilers…oopps… I mean the Texans:) If you do not have a team, you can still ask the question, "What would it be called"? More often than not teams are named based on the heritage and the core identifier of the community. 
  2. What are you greatest exports? Exports are products that are marketed outside of your community to the rest of the world. You'd be amazed how much this influences perceptions of your community. Ask anyone about Augusta, GA and they'll say the Masters or Gainesville, FL is almost always associated with the Florida Gators. Gibson guitars are known throughout the world but are all made in Nashville. Does your community have export products like Louisiana Hot Sauce? You'd be surprised at how many you have but no one knows they are from your town. Locating these partners and persuading use of your city in their marketing (or at elate their labels) can go a long way. 
  3. Tap into community pride. No one thinks your town is a great place to live, work and play more than the people that live, work and play in it. Arguably one of the greatest destination branding efforts of all time was "I Love NY". This effort started by the need to give New Yorkers a sense of pride (and pick up their trash). You can do the same thing. Recently Bowling Green, KY dedicated an entire week and day to "I love BG day". Merchants across the city were giving out specials to anyone who was wearing the "I love BG" button. Grand Prairie, TX has a similar effort using "100 Reasons Why I Love Grand Prairie" contest where locals were encouraged to submit their own entry. In all cases, these bring out authentic experiences and stories that capture a sense of pride. 
  4. Your events. What are your showcase events and festivals? No not your 4th of July festival or Christmas parade. Everyone has those. What are the signature events your community has that gives it definition? An International BBQ Festival like the ones in Owensboro, KY or Memphis? Dublin, OH has an Irish Festival greater in size than it's population. Shreveport-Bossier City, LA is know for the Mudbug Madness. Even Music City's crowning event is the CMA Music Fest. Events are great because they first and foremost give the residents and businesses a common time and place to connect with each other. The breadth of it attracts outsiders and gives them a taste of your unique culture. What is your marquee event say about you. If you do not have one, what should it be?
  5. A community's appearance. We all define ourselves by what we wear. Whether its sweater vests, suits, daisy duke shorts, flip flops, tie-dye shirts or flannels. So of course, the "dress" of your destination does that same. If you destination's skyline or first noticeable visual is a grain silo or a barn, then do not be surprised if people see you as a farm town. A community's architecture, streetscapes, and cleanliness says a lot about who it is. Ask Columbus, IN who is constantly listed as one of the top five architecturally significant cities in the U.S.. Their bridges, fire departments, libraries, churches and even city hall are testaments to their commitment to great design. It's a little unexpected but definitely sets a new expectations for the type of thinking that comes out of this community of 30,000. So one BIG way to make a dent in your destination's identity is to involve your local public works and areas developers in your branding plans. 

There are many ways to create a destination of distinction, but hopefully these will get your juices flowing towards action. I would submit these things can do far more for branding a destination than a great catchphrase or logo. One more thing, please refrain from using "A great place to live work and play as positioning message". Everyone does it and no one outside of your community cares. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Truth. A little hint for marketers of traditional public and private organizations, the idea behind all of these can apply to any business. Try it.

Interested in finding out more about what Decklan Group's role in community branding is? Click here to see how economic development and branding go hand in hand!

Your LinkedIn company page is less than 5 minutes away!

We all know that not every business type will see huge benefits from social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I have yet to find a business that can't see huge benefits from a LinkedIn Company Page. Whether you're a photographer, a caterer, a manufacturer, or an orthodontist, a company page on LinkedIn is a great place to post content, push traffic to your website, and reach a lucrative demographic.

A great deal of you have just begun to get comfortable with your personal LinkedIn profile (you must have one before creating a company page) and the last thing you want to do is learn something else new. You can breathe a sigh of relief, because I am going to walk you through a few simple steps to bring your business page to LinkedIn...IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES!

1. Login to your personal LinkedIn account and make sure you're on your home page. It looks like this:

2. Next, hover your cursor over the "Interests" section in your header and then click "Companies."

3. Now we are getting to the meat and potatoes! Click the yellow "Create" button under the "Create a Company Page" heading on the right margin of your screen.

4. After filling out your company name and your company email address (this is key, you must have an email attached to your company's domain i.e. you can't use generic email such as click "Continue." This will bring you to a page where you will enter your company information. Be as complete as possible. You must, at a bare minimum, give a company URL and a company description of at least 250 characters.

5. You're ready to make it rain! Click the "PUBLISH" button and you're in business with your very own LinkedIn Company Page!

Now it is up to you to make connections, publish content, and add extra awesomesauce to your page. Start with some good images and descriptive text, then move on to services and featured groups.

Be sure to follow our blog at to catch next weeks tutorial on how to bring the LinkedIn company page you just made to the next level with some awesome FREE tools!

6 Tips for OWNING Your Google Image Results

There is always talk about SEO. After all, SEO is important whether you're a business, an organization, a city, or a government. What people see when they enter your name into Google and click "search" will be their impression of what you offer, what you stand for, and how you conduct business. What do those search results say about you, your town, your business?

Today I wanted to talk about an often overlooked portion of SEO, Google Images. As the digital world becomes faster and more user friendly, rich media content is becoming more prevalent. 235,000 photos per minute. Staggering number isn't it? That number represents a SMALL FRACTION of what is uploaded to the web. 235,000 photos per minute only includes Facebook and Instagram! When was the last time you looked to see what those images say about you?

People are turning more and more to image searches to find information. Review sites, infographics, Slideshare, Social Media sites, and news outlets are powering the results they see. It's time for you to take ownership of those results. Below are six tips I have practiced not only with my own business, but also with clients (both business and municipal).
  1. Be Social - This should come as no surprise, but social media has an uncanny amount of power in Google Images. Use applicable CUSTOM images for your posts as much as possible. 
  2. Be a Pinning Fool - I don't care if your business sells custom yarn or aged t-bones, you need to be on Pinterest. Pinning offers you more control and customization of your posts, their content, and where they direct people than any other social medium. In my experience, Pinterest has the largest impact in Google Images. 
  3. Be Original - I see so many businesses and municipalities use stock images, memes, and "borrowed" infographics for their social and blog posts. Why? Everyone in your office has a phone with a camera. There are thousands of applications to help you build infographics. Your archives are no doubt rich with images CREATED by your company. USE THEM. When someone Google's your company, do you want them to see the same image as they see for everyone else, or do you want them to see something that captures the essence of your group, something that will pique their interest and stick in their mind. 
  4. Blog - I won't beat a dead horse here, you know you need to blog, and many of you are. Use that space! Tell your stories in pictures. Include applicable, memorable images branded with your company logo whenever possible. Nerds like me like reading, however, many people enjoy pictures more. Add more photos to your blog posts. Not only will they help you own your Google results, they also may gain you some new followers. 
  5. Ask for Help - Many times, your top results in Google Images will be your most "viral" past social posts. Be sure to ask people to share your great photos and posts. Send out emails to your subscriber list highlighting some of your most popular social or blog content and LINK THEM. The more it's shared, the more it's read, the more important it is to those always meddling Google Bots. 
  6. Update your Website - It is 2014 ladies and gentleman. We have 4G LTE service on our phones, we can stream video while rock-climbing or using the bathroom on a 747 at 50,000 feet. Does your video take advantage of that speed? How many images are on your site? Videos? People connect with stories and pitches made with visuals, so add some more to your site. You'll enjoy higher conversion and more ranking power on Google Images. As with social above, be sure to use original photos. Hire a great professional photographer like this guy. It is well worth the investment. 
The image is a screen shot of our company's results, which were built on the strategy and tips I outlined above. What's your impression? Everyone of these images link to one of our digital assets be it our website, our blog, our social media, etc.

This is what your Google Image search results should look like. If someone takes the time to Google your company name, you are given the opportunity to tell your story...make the most of it.

I would love to hear some feedback, and even some ideas and tips you may have that I missed!

Volunteering: Are You Part of the Pathetic Majority?

I stumbled upon a sad truth a week or so ago. While scrolling through my phone’s contact list to find a person willing to volunteer 3 hours of their day to help those less fortunate, I was coming up empty.

I finally found a taker, my good friend Representive Nick Zerwas, however the fact that I reached the letter “z” in my contacts before finding someone is what alarmed me the most. I like to think that my fiancé Annie Deckert and I have a wonderful and giving group of friends. Almost all of them volunteer in some capacity with regularity. If I was having this much trouble, how big of a problem is finding volunteers for the average American?

The typical responses you get from most professionals are; “I’m too busy,” or “I just don’t have time,” or even the dreaded “I already volunteered for such and such last month.” I myself have even been guilty of using one of those excuses at different points in my life, so I understand the thought process and the justification. That being said, I thought I would put this problem into context for everyone…maybe even cause a few of you to do some soul-searching.

Being as I chose social media as the forum to share my thoughts, I thought it would be appropriate to use social media statistics to illustrate my point. The BLS noted that 26.5% of Americans engaged in volunteering activities over a one year period. Now, standing alone that statistic actually doesn’t look all that bad. Over a quarter of us are giving our time to a cause free of charge!

Hold that thought though. A whopping 67% of American’s use social media according to Edison Research. Combine that withIpsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX)research showing the average American spends over 3 hours per day engaging with social media and you have a very pathetic truth.

On average, we as Americans can find more than 21 hours per week to socialize via electronic devices, yet scoff at the idea of carving out 3 hours that same week to help others. What’s more sad is that according to the same research, business owners and c-suite executives spend even MORE time on social media, and an even lower percentage find time to volunteer. How can many of us call ourselves leaders and role models with such skewed values?

I want to challenge each and every one of you to take a few hours away from your LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter activity this week. Spend that time volunteering…ANYWHERE! A school, Boys and Girls Club, a local food shelf, heck…teach some senior citizens how to connect with their families with social media! Volunteers are needed in many places, you are guaranteed to find something that fits your schedule and comfort level.

Post your time commitment and the organization you will be volunteering for in the comments below. That way, we can all hold each other accountable. As leaders, let’s stop being pathetic. Make time for what truly matters. Your news feed can wait.

You are now the special sauce...

As I sit in front of my various social news feeds, one thing is very apparent. Everyone is mad that the organic reach of Facebook posts has dropped off in recent months. Everyone is exclaiming; "I can't reach anyone without paying for Facebook ads!" I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Not only are you wrong, the position you now find yourself in is your own damn fault.

Several of the pages our company manages have seen consistent growth in their organic reach over the past weeks and months. "What?" "That's impossible!" "How could that be?" "What's your secret?" Those are all questions I have been answering on a daily basis. The answer is simple: we play by the rules, the way the game was intended to be played.

It is my observation that most marketers and business owners tend to think that "social" and "media" are just a couple words slapped together to make a trendy title. I sit back and laugh as they market on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, etc. the same way they use banner ads, highway billboards, TV commercials, and ads in the Sunday paper. I roll my eyes while they complain about their interruption marketing tactics being devalued by algorithms. "Social" and "media" aren't just arbitrary words, they describe the platform you are using. Take the hint!

Does it surprise you that an algorithm on a social media platform devalues content that provides no perceived social value? In order to prove to Facebook that you deserve to be seen, you need to conform to the ideals that the platform was built on. If people want to see it, it will be seen. How does Facebook decide what people want to see? They give value to comments, shares, likes, and clicks. Those actions signify that people are paying attention, they create "social value." The more social value you create with your posts and interaction, the more Facebook thinks you deserve to be seen. Your emphasis as a marketer or business owner needs to be on creating interaction, not selling product. True content marketing.

I will let you in on a secret search giant Google learned from Facebook; social media has changed the game of relevancy. No matter how good you are at ranking websites with math equations, the most powerful part of any algorithm is now you...that means PEOPLE. Call them shares, repins, comments, likes, tweets, hashtags, pins, social them whatever you like. They now control what people see, by indicating to search engines and news feeds what people WANT to see.

The burden has now fallen squarely on our shoulders as marketers. In the digital space, we not only have to create value for our product with an ad, in order for that ad to even be seen we need to create value in ourselves as a source. We have to build rapport. We have to engage. We have to...wait for social!

Why is the organic reach of my 1,000 fan page triple that of your 10,000 fan page? You went for the quick buck. You played hedge fund manager while I played Warren Buffett. While you were spending hours, days, weeks, months, years showing people what you wanted them to see, I was busy showing customers what THEY wanted to see, because of that they will now listen to what I say. They value what I post. And because they value my content, so does Facebook.

5 FREE Tips: Facebook tips you can use RIGHT NOW!

Developing and maintaining an amazing social media presence requires the mastery of many skills.  Having a decent social media presence boils down to executing the basics.  I have compiled this list of five tips that you can implement TODAY to make it look like you know what you are doing and provide you a solid foundation for your Facebook future.

1.) Create a schedule.

This sounds silly and very basic, however the amount of people who operate a Facebook Page without a schedule would amaze you.  Your schedule can be as simple as hand written notes on printed out calendar, or as complex and technical as a company wide shared calendar in Google Drive. Any option serves the same purpose; to save you time by assigning focused tasks and ideas.  It doesn't matter whether you plan on posting twice a week, or three times per day, you need a calendar (monthly works best).

2.) Have a place to collect content.

Again, this is a very basic practice, yet incredibly under utilized.  Many of us spend hours each week browsing the internet and emails digesting information about our industries and interests.  Collecting this information as you read it for use in the future is referred to as aggregating. You can save links to webpages, blogs, or articles. You can download images, white papers, and videos.  Create a simple folder on your desktop or cloud drive where you can collect all the information you find interesting for easy access later. Odds are if you found it pertinent and interesting, someone else will too!  You can never aggregate too much content, you always want a big reserve for those days when you just can't think of anything worth posting.

3.) Keep it short and sweet.

There is nothing that turns off fans like 1,000 character rants.  People just don't have the attentions spans anymore!  Keep your Facebook posts under 200 characters for sure, under 150 is even better.  Social and viral marketing is most often driven by curiosity.  Post too much and the curiosity and need to learn more is gone.  Let people know what you want to tell them and if you need more space provide a clear link to the information.  People like simple.  People engage with simple. People share simple.

4.) Post when people are listening.

In a previous blog I explained how simple it is to use Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online.  If you need a refresher, you can find that post here.  It doesn't matter how brilliant and captivating your content is if there is nobody around to see it!  Nothing frustrates me more than watching pages post content at 9:45 a.m. knowing 80% of their fan base is at work with their ability to interact handicapped by a number of factors. Marketing is, and always will be a numbers game.  Expose your message to the greatest number of potential customers as possible at the lowest cost possible is the recipe for success no matter what medium you are using.

5.) Be consistent.

Facebook and other social media marketing is about creating an identity.  Fostering a brand and a voice to effectively deliver your content and encourage relationships with people is the name of the game.  You do not want your identity to be a bipolar with multiple personality disorder.  You want a clear consistent voice, delivering high quality content at predictable intervals.  People are creatures of habit, cater to their need for regularity.


Everyone who reads my blog has a different understanding and ability level when it comes to Facebook. Most of you reading know that you should be utilizing Facebook for your brand, business, community, government, or cause.  A great deal of you are utilizing Facebook already.

Many of you aren't quite ready to cough up the money to hire a social media consultant or consulting company, so you find yourself on blogs like mine trying to piece together as much free information as you can to help you on your way and kudos to you!  I genuinely mean that.  There are tons of good information out there to give you an edge in developing and managing your own social media.  Most of it is FREE!  The trick is sorting through it, and putting it into practice.

So keep coming back, and I will keep the free advice flowing!

Tag! You're it! Another FREE Facebook Tip

This week Facebook announced a small change in its EdgeRank algorithm which could reward you handsomely if you use it correctly. In a press release on its developer site Facebook informed users that the act of tagging another page in your page’s post may increase your exposure. The beauty of this change is that not only will it increase your reach; it will potentially let you reach people who are not already fans of your page.

You have always had the ability as a page to tag another page in your posts. Many people do this to credit another page for content, or to let people know there is something there worth visiting. In the past, the only people who truly benefited from these tags were the pages being tagged. Well this week that all changed.

Facebook will now give the page who tags another page some reciprocal exposure. The algorithm will give you credit for tagging another page by showing your posts to a select percentage of the pages followers in their News Feed. For example, if Subway tags Lay’s Potato Chips in one of their posts, Subway will benefit from a percentage of Lay’s fans seeing Subway’s posts.

How should this change your strategy? Well you’ll be tagging pages with huge fan bases like crazy, right? WRONG. Facebook is not going to make it that easy to “Spam” other page’s fans with this tool. They are monitoring its use to make sure it is used in context and responsibly. They want this to benefit the fans, the users. They believe that if your page has something in common with the page you are tagging, then fans may potentially have an interest in what you’re saying. So, use this new arrow in your quiver the right way. Tag more, yes, however, tag with discretion and make sure there is a good reason for the tag.

As with all things in social media, you are rewarded for sharing with others.

FREE Facebook Tip: Do you know who you're talking to?

Would you advertise a special edition Coach handbag to a room full of 45 year old men? Maybe you think it would be wise to advertise RV insurance to a gymnasium full of 15 year old girls? I sincerely hope you answer "no" to both of those questions.

In order to maximize your return on any type of marketing investment, you need to know your target audience and how to reach them. In this blog post I will show you how to determine who you are talking to on your Facebook business page. After we work together to determine that, I will give you a few ways you may choose to use this information.

As with all blogs in this series, we will start by clicking on the "See Insights" button on your Facebook page's admin panel. From there we will click the "People" button on the navigation bar found on the "Overview" page. If you need help finding these buttons check out my earlier blog HERE.

You should find yourself with a graph like this staring you in the face:

This graph gives you two very important metrics and compares them to Facebook's averages. The two metrics are your fan age and your fan sex. As you can see in the example above, this page has a female dominated fan base with only 19% of their fans being men. You can also see that this page has a relatively young demographic with over 72% of there fans being under 34 years old and less than 9% of their fans are over 44. A very noticeable 35% of this pages fans are females between the ages of 25 and 34.

Now let's compare this graph to another page's insights; can you see the differences?

The first thing you should notice is that the sex of the fan base is a bit more even, with 54% being women and 45% being men, a substantial change from the earlier example. The real contrast however, is in the age demographic. In this example 77% of the fans are over 35 years old with less than 6% being under 25 years old. This shows two very substantial shifts in audience demographics. How does your page compare?

As G.I. Joe used to say, "knowing is half the battle." Now that you know who your fan base is, what can you do with it? The first thing you should determine is how these demographics compare to your target demographic.

If your target demographic is substantially different than your fan base, you will want to take a look at your post content and make sure it is striking the right chord. You may even choose to use some demographically targeted ads and promoted posts (we will talk about these in a future blog) to help attract your desired client base.

If you are lucky enough that your fan base is in sync with your target demographic, you can fine tune your post content. Use a voice and content that is pertinent to your target demographic. Remember who you are talking to. Do you want posts referencing TMZ, or 60 minutes? You are going to get the most engagement when you connect with your fans, speak their language and give them what they want. Make sure you're not wearing a Nixon mask at a toddlers birthday party...because they just won't care. If your fans want Barney, give them Barney!

Wow...that was a tremendous amount of television references in one blog, even for me!

Another FREE way to improve performance of your Facebook business page

Do you know how people are finding your Facebook page? One of the most powerful insights you can have in marketing is, knowing where your leads are coming from. On Facebook, we call these leads “fans” and it is important to understand how you are generating fans.

We all know that many of your Facebook fans find you through the posts, mentions, and likes thrust in front of them by Facebook’s News Feed. What you may not realize is that your page gets attention from other sources as well. Your website, your blog posts, Google & Bing search results, email signatures, maybe even the local Chamber of Commerce or other business groups you may be involved in! In this second business pages for beginners blog I will show you how Facebook gives you this information at your fingertips. After logging into your business page, find the button in the upper right corner labeled “See Insights.”

After clicking on the “See Insights” button you will find yourself on your insights homepage. This will be where we navigate to the many different statistics Facebook offers over the course of this blog series. Near the top of the screen you will see a bar of buttons that looks like this:

The fourth button from the left is labeled “Visits” and this is where we will be going for this blog. Click the “Visits” button and scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will find a graph titled “External Referrers” which looks like this:

You can see the list of referring sites across the top of this graph. In the graph above our listed referring sites are our company website (,,, and our company’s mobile site You may have more or fewer websites listed here, depending on your web presence. As you drag your cursor over the graph's different colors, it will snap to individual data points telling you the name of the referring site, the number of people who came from that site, and the date the referral was made.

You can also select a unit of time by clicking and dragging your cursor over the graph. For instance, you can highlight a one week period like the picture below. Facebook will then tell you the referring sites during that time, the number of people they sent your way, and what percentage of referrals each one of those sites is responsible for during that time.

These are very powerful insights. You can use them in many ways. One of the most useful ways is seeing the effect of button placement on your other sites. For example, for 30 days you may have a button linking your Facebook page at the top of each blog post, the next 30 days you may move it to the bottom of each blog post, day 60-90 you may move it to the right margin. With the “external referrers” insight you will be able to determine which placement yields you the best results.

There are many different scenarios where these insights will be useful and help you determine how to adjust your marketing, and your marketing dollars. Hopefully, I have given you some food for thought and some motivation to tweak your web presence to yield better results. Our next blog will give you even more information in understanding the power of Facebook Insights.

Don't post naked: More FREE tips for Facebook business page newbies...

Alright...if you can simultaneously update your status, take a selfie, create an event, check-in at a restaurant, and hashtag your wine selection this blog isn't targeting you. I mean, you're welcome to read on, just know that well versed Facebook users are not my target audience.

Who I really want to talk to are the small business owners who have made the effort to create a Facebook business page. They have made a commitment to post content. You folks who have your hearts in the right place with your semi-regular posts of happy hour specials at 10:13 p.m., your links to industry articles at 2:07 a.m., and your photos of your newest product at 1:47 p.m., you are who I want to talk to. You're not the most fluent of social users, however, you want to learn.

You're making the effort and you're putting your face out there, now how do you make it BETTER? You have to learn how to use the most basic, yet incredibly powerful feature on your business page; "INSIGHTS." You will find it right here:

Odds are what you see on your page afterwords overwhelms you. Graphs, and percentages, and words like "reach" and "engagement" come popping out of the screen like an Ancient Egyptian glyph. Now, it's time you start to understand them, in turn unlocking the potential they provide your business.

This blog will be the first in a series of blogs I will post explaining many of the basic "insights" on your business page and how to interpret them to increase the impact of your posts. I will try to focus on only one "insight" per blog to keep things easily digestible and to give you a chance to study up between posts.

Being as this blog is already beyond average length, we will start with a simple and easy to understand "insight" provided to you by Facebook. After you click on the "See Insights" button shown above, click the "Posts" button here:

By default this button will bring you to a screen that looks like the one above. What we are seeing are the days of the week and times of day YOUR fans are being exposed to YOUR content. In the example above, exposure is spread pretty evenly across the days of the week averaging about 4,800 each day. What isn't even is the time of day in which posts are reaching fans. As you can see, there is a noticeable "peak" at 9 p.m. which is when fans are the most active, and a "valley" at 4 a.m. when fans are least active.

Now your graphs will look different, but the takeaways are the same. You need to be active when your fans are active. You wouldn't waste money on a radio commercial when you know people aren't listening right? Don't waste your time and content on social media when your fans aren't paying attention! Use these "Post" analytics to determine when to share your content.

So, dig in. Click that scary button that says "See Insights" and be sure to follow the rest of our blog series to gain some knowledge about the other information you have access to on your Facebook business page. You have made the effort to create content, now let's make sure the content you created reaches the biggest and best audience! Don't post naked.

Social media...find it NOW in your grocers freezer!

You cannot bring your business to social media expecting to simply harvest customers from the billions of people on these platforms. People are asked by hundreds if not thousands of companies every day to part with their hard earned money for a product they are pedaling. Trust me, your pitch isn't that much better than theirs.

It’s noise, all of it. People learn to tune it out, just like banner ads and pop-ups. If you are simply going to pester them to buy-buy-buy, don’t expect results. Success comes from cutting through the noise; you must give before your take.

Start thinking of a social media feed as a grocery store. In a grocery store you have thousands of brands, many of them competing with the same products, all having the same amount of shelf space, more often than not sitting inches from their biggest competitor. Now, you can snag yourself and end-cap by spending some extra money, which might a help a little bit. To really set yourself apart though…you want to be featured on FREE SAMPLE DAY! You want people to taste your product with no commitment. “Here is our product, we think it’s so great we are going to let you try it for free and let it sell itself.” You want THAT connection.

Social media is no different than that grocery store. There are thousands of businesses and companies pushing their products. Everyone is entitled to the same news feed algorithm (shelf space). Your message is located within a couple hundred pixels, at the most, of another product. You can gamble on buying ad space in news feeds or side-bars, which can drive more traffic (end-caps). How do you truly set yourself apart though? You GIVE. You offer samples of your knowledge. You give people ways to differentiate you from others. You give people something to talk about and share. Every day is FREE SAMPLE DAY! You show them something for free and establish a relationship as a trusted contributor. You give, so that when you ask for the sale, they aren't buying, they are returning the favor. Give, so that you may take.

Give it a try. Start giving. See how it works for you. You will gain respect and a captive audience, if you don’t…well… if you can’t give it away, how in the world can you expect to sell it?

Hub and spokes: Expand and unify your company's LinkedIn image

The time has come to make it mandatory for your entire staff to be present and active on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the only social media platform on which nearly half of the members pay for premium access. That means they’re serious. From CEO to account executives, department secretaries to personal bankers, cashiers to janitorial staff, they all need to have a presence. Their participation is valuable, very valuable.

Give everyone the help they need to create a top-notch profile. Everyone on staff will have a different comfort level with LinkedIn. Pull together images, files, and links you want them to use in their profile. Create an easy to follow template and assign a qualified staff member to review each profile. Bring in a photographer to make sure everyone has a professional looking profile photo that portrays your company’s image. These profiles are your employees’ digital uniforms, make them look sharp.

Do you have a company LinkedIn page yet? If not, it’s time to create one. A company page is an ideal place for employees to access and share content endorsed by their employer. Assign someone the task of making sure there is at least one piece of new content on your company LinkedIn page daily. This content can be about products, services, team-building, staff appreciation, upcoming events etc. Your company’s LinkedIn page can act as your “hub,” connecting all of your ”spokes.”

Make them use it. Encourage workers to be on LinkedIn during business hours. Create company policy that requires 10-20 minutes of interaction via LinkedIn each day. Make it policy that content from the company page must be shared 5 days per week. Work with employees to further their understanding of LinkedIn. Show them how to connect to their email contacts. Have weekly lunch meetings to help those who need a little extra tutoring. Don’t let “I don’t know how” or “I don’t understand it” be an excuse.

Social Media has become your company’s second store front. Take the time to craft it in the light you wish to be seen. Make sure your company page and employee pages project the professionalism (or lack thereof), that you are known for. Give potential clients and customers a reason to choose you over everyone else.

If you aren't a decision maker where you work, forward, share, or otherwise draw your superior’s attention to this article. It benefits everyone.

FREE Facebook tip for's free...promise


It sounds obvious right? What if I told you that many businesses are guilty of doing the equivalent of yelling out their office windows to attract customers? Does that sound like being social?

There is an often overlooked component of being a "page" on Facebook. The strange thing is, it's the most common practice for actual people on their personal Facebook accounts. Do you know what I am referring to? Over 40% of people's time on Facebook is spent within their News Feed reading, commenting on, liking, and sharing other peoples posts. Figure it out yet?

I'll come right out and say it for those of you who haven't figured it out. You need to interact with your News Feed AS YOUR PAGE. Pages often fall into the routine of posting on their timeline, then if they are doing what they are supposed to, interacting with those who comment on those posts. That concludes their efforts, and they think they've done enough.

You have the ability as a page to LIKE other pages, other businesses, personalities, causes, organizations, brands, etc. You can view these pages' posts on your page's News Feed. You can comment AS YOUR PAGE on these posts for everyone to see. You can comment on a local charity's post looking for volunteers. You can congratulate a competitor on their post about a recent award. You can comment on a brands page about which flavor of their product you prefer. You can like a photo posted by your favorite sitcom. All of these practices put your page's name and personality in front of new people, and passively attempt to connect.

I would challenge you to spend 10 minutes a day for the next two weeks interacting with other pages' posts as your page's personality. Be genuine, don't SPAM, don't criticize, be constructive, BE SOCIAL. Pay attention to how it lends credibility to your page. See how much more genuine your brand becomes.

Appear human. People buy from people.

It takes two baby...

How do I make money with Facebook? How will I sell more of my product with Twitter? How does Pinterest put more money in my pocket? These are the most common questions your average business owner or manager wants to know from a social media expert. Those owners and managers want to run specials, do giveaways, and promote products in order to see an immediate uptick in the bottom line. Who can blame them…that’s the way marketing has worked for the last 50+ years. It’s not that way anymore though, social media is different.

The first thought you must eliminate from your mind is that social media is a broadcast tool. Yes, Facebook has over a billion users, and there is another billion plus users when you combine the next two biggest platforms. Yes, you can spend thousands of dollars a month to place targeted ads in front of those users. That isn't the value of social media.

Someone standing on the roof of a building shouting at 10,000 people below isn’t social. Someone standing in a coffee shop having a conversation with the barista is social. Social media by definition takes at least two people interacting. You see, social is a give and take. Social media’s value is in engagement and interaction, the building of relationships through genuine exchanges of information.

Stop thinking of social media as a billboard that blasts your name and product to passersby. The value is in making a passerby feel special. Make them identify with you and your product and your company. Make those people feel as though you listen and value their opinion and patronage. Remember that social media is an open forum. Now, not only have you made that person feel important, other people have seen you make them feel important, and social media makes it possible for them to share what they just saw with a simple mouse click.

You just became more than a product or company to thousands of people. You are now a person to them, and people buy from people. That's how you make money with social media. Let’s see a billboard do that.

Putting family first is not bad business...

A few weeks back I happened across a conversation on a local business Facebook page where the owner of the business was taking some heat for being closed on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. This business was not some national or regional brand. It was a Main Street, "Mom & Pop" style business that employs between 15-20 people. Reading the posts got me to thinking, "can putting family first ever be wrong?"

Our firm is small, about as small as you can get in reality. With only two full-time employees, some part-time help, and a couple handfuls of subcontractors we work with...we have a very small employee footprint. This small atmosphere makes us feel like family (some of us are family). During the holidays, with children and families in three corners of the state, and some across the country, spending time with everyone who is important becomes a logistics puzzle fit for a NASA analyst.

In this always on 24/7, consumer-centric, monetize everything, "I want it now or else" economy that mobile broadband and the marketing powerhouses of the world have built; I have to say it is refreshing to see a business shut-down for a few days to give their employees time with their families.

I know our business will be allowing everyone to put family first over the next 2 weeks. If you are a small business owner, we know it is hard to miss out on a few $$. However, I can just about assure you that the majority of your customers will accept and respect you valuing your employees.

This holiday season, be the boss who has the biggest heart. Be the leader of your company that says, "take the extra day off to be with your family." Be the company whose out-of-office responses say "during this special time of year our company believes that family and giving are more important than making money, we look forward to earning your business and serving your needs after our holiday celebrations."

I can guarantee that seeing or hearing that will earn you my business, and my referrals for years to come.

The Act of Giving with Social Media...I'll be gone til Movember

Remember charities and non-profits before social media? It seems like only yesterday that in order to raise money and awareness for your favorite charity you had to host fundraiser dinners, golf tournaments, and sell widgets. Today, thanks to social media, those tactics have had their effect magnified, or their need eliminated.

Social media has not only made it easier for established charities to raise more money, it has also had a very profound effect on smaller, local non-profits. Take for example your local food-shelf, or center for the arts. Prior to social media, it was expensive and time consuming to reach out and broaden their brand recognition. Today, those same small local non-profits benefit from viral messages shared by community members, community businesses, other non-profits, and can even gain exposure from regional news coverage. In my community, both the Elk River Area Arts Alliance and CAER Food-shelf have noticed the positive effects of social media.

Never has it been easier to find a cause you believe in. In 2012 total giving in the U.S. reached $316.23 billion, an increase of 3.5% over 2011. The surprising part of that statistic is that charitable givings largest benefactor group, religion, actually had their share of funds DROP by 2%. There are many reasons why this may be true. My opinion is that religion has traditionally been the EASIEST way to give. Now, with giving to any charity literally clicks away on your smart-phone people are choosing the city pound, the local scholarship fund, or the Movember office pool. I can't think of any more wonderful effect that social media has had.

The next time you start complain about advertising on Facebook, or a commercial in your streaming video of twerking celebrities, take pause. For every negative or "annoying" effect social media has, there is an equally wonderful one. Take the time to share a charity's Facebook post, or retweet a non-profit's daily message. Odds are, one of your friends, fans, or followers will benefit from the information and maybe even be driven to give.

Don't be a Negative Nancy...EVER

Whether you are on the East Coast, West Coast, Down South, or Midwest the media is nearly identical. Our daily intake of information is predominantly negative; so much in fact, that we as a culture and society have become conditioned to it. You may be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with social media?” It’s simple; marketing is about differentiation.

If you are a small business, a politician, or a public personality and all of your competition is relaying the same information, often negative, that mass media is spewing isn't there a simple solution? Sadly, people are so conditioned to news about deaths, accidents, and economic blight we have an uncanny ability to tune it out. As a personality or brand, you want to separate yourself from the crowd. Create an identity by cutting through the clutter.

What is the simple solution? Take the opportunity to spin positive. That’s right, even if it isn't the popular side of a story; the positive story has a substantially more impactful presence in the social media world. Instead of talking about the local athlete who got in trouble with the law, or the opposing politician whose decisions are letting a sex offender out of prison, talk about the local non-profit who is helping families during the holidays. Being positive is just as easy, and far more original than being negative. Our communities and organizations are filled with people doing well. Those good deeds are social media gold.

This isn't unfounded advice. The statistics back up everything I am saying. You have to look no further than your personal Facebook Newsfeed. Scroll through and compare the popularity of posts about wedding dances, feel good high school sports highlights, and people helping homeless veterans to those posts about hate crimes, and political attack ads. Do you notice anything? That’s right…people gravitate towards positive.

No matter how negative people are portrayed, the fact remains that the human race is inherently positive. We subconsciously gravitate towards positive stories, because we as humans want to believe that we are “good people,” and not the negativity we see in mass media. Capitalize on human nature, post positive, all the time, without fail. You will reap the rewards of added exposure and as a bonus remove yourself from the social media suicide of being on the wrong side of a controversial issue.

There is power in being positive.

Social media deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T...

Tell me you didn't sing out loud a little when you read that title! I channeled my inner Aretha!

I had a nice meeting today with a new client who was having a difficult time grasping how to “treat” social media fans. It occurred to me while having this conversation that a very large percentage of companies utilizing social media for marketing have it all wrong. Social media needs to be respected as more than a media push like a billboard, magazine article, or even a website.

Social media has earned its seat right next to barbershops, water coolers, and tee-ball game bleachers as a place where people go to talk about “stuff.” Social media isn't an “item;” it is a “destination.” Facebook is a place where people go and hangout to exchange ideas, learn something about their neighbor, or ask how to get their kid to eat vegetables. We as businesses need to treat it as such.

Customers who are engaging and interacting with you via Facebook, Twitter, etc. need to be treated with the same level of respect as someone who walks into your brick and mortar business. Do you ignore people browsing your aisles? Do you put a big picture of a cat meme in front of your receptionist’s desk? Then why do you do these things to your customers on social media?

Social media is a second show floor for you. Everyone who walks in needs to be greeted and their questions answered. If they have a complaint, it needs to be addressed and handled courteously and in a timely fashion. You need to engage in pleasant conversation and create a relationship which will give your brand an identity.

The next time you see a question on one of your social media sites, see how quickly you can address it. Seize the opportunity to “wow” someone who isn't expecting to be treated like they are in your business, credit card in hand. Do not ignore it and think it will go away, or that the answer is common sense, or that someone else will answer it. Each interaction is your chance to form a relationship, no different than a handshake at the ballgame.

Just because social media is technology does not mean that it should not feel personal. Not everything that CAN be automated SHOULD be automated. We aren't assembling widgets in social media; we are creating relationships between consumers and brands. Please treat it as such, you will be rewarded.

Is the UPS guy they key to your social media success?

I’ll be the first to admit, there are times when I find myself wracking my brain for the better part of 30 minutes trying to come up with some wonderful and ground breaking social media content. There are times when the words Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Instagram are the plaque clogging the arteries of my creativity. While it is easy to understand why someone who is responsible for 100+ posts per day for every industry you can imagine can run out of ideas, there are a few very basic ideas that are proven to create a “viral stir” that are simple and fool proof and should always be part of your business’s content arsenal. The one I want to talk about today is one of your most prized assets…your staff.

It is easy to forget that social media is all about people. With all of the metrics and analytics we are force fed on a daily basis in the social media world, it’s no wonder that everything starts to become a number. As powerful as those numbers are, it is what they show that is most important. Decklan Group has the great fortune of being able to pour over a nearly unlimited supply of data about posts, their reach, their engagement, their conversion, etc. What is the undeniable truth that this data shows us??? People like people.

There is one element in your company, no matter how big or small, that is more “human” than any other. That “human element” is your staff. Whether you are a fast food chain, an auto mechanic, a non-profit, a government entity, or a law office, your employees are one of the richest sources of effective, high value content. People engage with people. People relate to people. People trust people. People do business with people. After all, people are interesting and unique.

There are endless variations of ways to feature your staff, ownership, partners, and vendors in your social media posts. Make your next Facebook post a picture of an administrative staff person and let your fans know their favorite food, ask what your fans favorite food is. Your next tweet on Twitter can be a picture of your friendly UPS or FedEx delivery person with their middle name, ask your followers “what’s #yourdriversmiddlename.” Instagram a photo of your company president with their pet. Add one of your company secretary’s chili recipes to Pinterest. The list goes on and on and on. Whether you have 2 employees or 200, these types of posts need to be in regular rotation in your company’s social media.

It will take you no time at all to see the amazing effects and benefits that come with these types of posts. It creates a personal relationship between your company and your customers. Your customers are more likely to comment on and share content they can relate to. Everyone cooks. Nearly everyone has had a pet. Everyone gets deliveries. Through social media you are accomplishing a key building block in the road to a sale and that is rapport, you are establishing common ground. Your reach will improve and your conversion will skyrocket. Why? People do business with people.

The next time you have the urge to dig through Google Images for a stock photo or a cat meme, turn to the office next door, or the cubicle behind you. Find your office janitorial staff and snap a picture and find out their hometown. You will spend less time, and obtain much more powerful content by farming your company’s pre-paid content generators…its employees.