Recovering After You’ve Been Let Go

Last year at this time I was let go from my job, and it was the first time in my career that had ever happened. With the change of the corporate division president, it was decided that the company would no longer pursue launching their product in the US automotive aftermarket, so no marketing = no job.

The Writing on The Wall

In June 2016 when our consumer marketing strategy was presented at corporate headquarters, our then division president did not approve it, so it was only a matter of time before the proverbial other shoe would drop. I spent the following eight months filling my time with busy work scrounging up possible private label customers – not marketing.

At the end of February, my boss had the courtesy to tell me that I was being let go that morning, so I started to empty my desk and pack my things. Within 15 minutes I was sitting in a conference room with the president of the finished lubricants division and HR. I was offered a very fair severance package, and with that I was quickly whisked out of the office with my box in hand.

What Next?

The are natural phases that you go through when you’re terminated. Shock and/or Disbelief, Sadness, Anger and Resolve. Everyone deals with each of them differently. Some phases last longer than others. Bottom line is – there is no right or wrong way to recover.

After the initial shock wore off and I shed a few tears, I was mad. No – I was really pissed off just thinking about the steps that had led me to the ranks of the unemployed. So much of it was out of my control, and I had become a casualty of a change in leadership and triggers that were never pulled.

Regroup and Move Forward

I spent the month of March regrouping, updating my resume and taking the dog on long walks. I started canvassing LinkedIn and Indeed.com regularly, with a goal of applying to three jobs a day. I was a little nervous that the Houston job market was still recovering, because I wasn’t seeing a lot out there for my experience and skill set.

The key is patience. Easy to say, harder to practice. Know what you’re willing to accept if offered a job, and stick to it. You don’t have to take the offer if it doesn’t meet all of your defined needs. Salary, benefits, office hours, company culture, distance to the office, expected travel, etc.

Know what you’re willing to accept if offered a job, and stick to it.

I was fortunate because I didn’t have to wait too long to arrive at the next stop on my career journey. A month to the day that I was let go – I started a new job.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation where your position was eliminated or you were simply let go? How did you deal with it? How did you recover? Do you have any advice for someone going through it today?

Originally posted on my LinkedIn page.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/recovering-after-youve-been-let-go-marlena-solomon/

Don’t Downplay The Knowledge You Have to Share

If you are a brand or you manage one, you establish credibility and authority when you publish, share and amplify good content. So when I was considering a jump into the waters of social media marketing as a business, I struggled with the thought of, “What if what I have to say isn’t important?”

It took me a while, but I realized that in my own moment of doubt that I was downplaying the knowledge I had to share. Sometimes what others share on social really resonates with me and I experience that “A ha!” light bulb moment. At other times I but don’t really absorb the info at all. Not everyone is going to get you and what you have to say – and that’s okay.

Your Experience Can Be Applied to Other Markets

I draw my social media marketing experience from a very niche industry – the automotive aftermarket. It’s about knowing the difference between a gearhead and an enthusiast. Understanding the myriad of ways that people in the industry buy and sell their products. Being able to talk intelligently about the product without insulting the technical minded, but not talking over the head of the casual fan. You can’t bluff someone who is inquiring about your product for something they are an expert in. You simply admit you don’t know, but promise to get them the answer they are looking for.

Does that understanding of the industry and its customers apply to others? Absolutely. The social media marketer who focuses on the fitness industry or real estate knows what is acceptable in the market and know how to speak the language of that particular industry.

Share What You Know

You should never keep what you know to yourself. Challenge yourself and charge your employees and clients to share and teach what they know to others. But someone might take the idea you’ve based your success on and make it better. The fact of the matter is – someone is going to do it anyway. People who come out with new products or programs don’t reinvent the wheel. They take what already exists and make it better.

People who come out with new products or programs – take what already exists and make it better.

Find Opportunities to Share

Last Friday I was notified that I was selected to be a speaker at the Social Media Day Houston 2017 Conference on June 30. I am thrilled because it will be the first time that I will be able to share as an event speaker what was shared with me by Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics.

Speaking opportunities is just one way to share. Content can come in all shapes and sizes. Consider publishing a book, making a ebook or white paper available on your website or offering a course. What you have to offer IS valuable.

 

Filter this! Just kidding – Keep Content Real

filter photo collage

Using a photo filter has a time and place. I admit that I like to explore the filters on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, but there is some lost authenticity when you rely on manipulating the image too much.

A few years ago, my friend Kirsten sent me a photo she had of us taken on her phone. My response was, “Wow, we look good!” She replied, “Never underestimate the power of a filter.” And that was my introduction to the photo filter.

The Evolution of the Filter

Mobile photo filtering has progressed beyond Instagram. Now you can filter quickly from your phone, and from every social media platform. Confess – Who hasn’t had fun with the SnapChat filters or even the new Facebook Messenger ones? But in honesty, even after scrolling through all of the filters, the majority of my posts are without.

filter photo collage
Who hasn’t had some fun with the Snapchat filters?

There is Such a Thing as Too Much

It came to my attention a few weeks ago that there is a certain brand using a filter for EVERY image post on their Instagram. I get the idea of continuity and wanting posts to have the same “vibe”, but there is some authenticity lost  by insisting on using a filter every time.

Cropping the image is okay, because you filter out noise when you want catch someone’s eye when they are scrolling through their feed. Consider the image you are posting. If the intent of your social media presence is to drive sales, can each image be directly related to the brand or product?

I submit to you that more important than making sure that your brand social media images look exactly the same, or posting photos of pretty sunsets and snow covered roads – focus on using relevant hashtags and tagging the right people.

Staged photos aren’t representative of real life. Life happens without filters, and so should the majority of your content.

 

 

 

 

Five Tips to Cover Motorsports Events on Social

When you are covering a motorsports event, social media can be fast, flexible and unforgiving. You need to be prepared for anything to happen on the track during the race. At the same time, you want to look for opportunities to get candid shots of driver and fan interaction.

Little girl autograph
Keep an eye out for fan and driver interaction.

1. Show them what they can’t see on TV

At any given motorsports event, there are a hundred things going on at one time. I approach brand or sponsor social media coverage as the opportunity to take your fans either beyond what they see on TV or to places they wouldn’t normally have access to.

Do a quick video or Boomerang of the drivers practicing their exchange, or the crew going through the pit stop execution. Take a quick tour of the team trailer. Better yet, borrow a golf cart and head out to where the die hard race fans are camping and tailgating. That could equal footage for days, but some might not be shareable to your fans.

IMSA tire inspection
Give the fans a behind the scenes view.

2. Plan an interview list.

Between the practices, warm ups, track walk and meet and greet in the paddock, there will be time to get a quick video.

Don’t limit yourself to the team, race officials, TV personalities and the flag guy are all great one minute videos. To make sure you make good use of everyone’s time, make sure you know ahead of time what one or two questions you want to cover, and be ready to film on the fly.

3. Each social media platform has a purpose

Do not, post the same thing on each platform by hitting the button and cross-posting!

Twitter is used while the race is going on. Be part of and follow the ongoing conversation between fans, the series, track and teams. If you have enough follower engagement, I’ve had Twitter meet ups and hashtag contests while on site.

Facebook has evolved with the Live feature, so some of those interviews could be live as well as post race coverage in the winner’s circle. If you secure an interview ahead of time, promote it before you go live. I also use Facebook for pre-event promotion especially if there will be brand activation on site with a call to action.

For example, I would make a video slideshow using team promo photos and other photos I may have taken at a previous race. Then I would boost that video via a Brand Awareness campaign, targeting an audience who follows the series. Targets are not limited to the type of car that is sponsored by my brand, but should also include others who race in the series. You can also target fans who like other sponsors of the series and teams.

Now that Instagram has introduced the carousel, you’re not limited to posting one picture from the event. Pick your top five and post them and include a video snippet.

kid with front fender
Each sponsor, race series, team and driver should be tagged here.

4. Follow and Hashtag appropriately

Before the motorsports event, make sure you are following the series, teams, drivers, manufacturers and sponsors. Take note of the official hashtags that each are using so when you post you include those to be part of the conversation.

If you’re going to promote your own hashtag, first make sure it isn’t already being used. I like to use Tagboard. Then promote it in your Call to Action and graphics prior to the event. If no one knows it exists, they won’t use it.

5. It’s okay to be a fan, but you’re there for the brand

Whether you’re a lifelong series fan, or it’s your first time covering a motorsports event, it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the race.

It might sound obvious, but if you’re posting on brand social media platforms, you are expected to maintain their persona. Before you hit that post button, make double and even triple sure that you are posting as the page and not as yourself.

Regardless of what series you are covering, there is nothing like anticipation and the sound of the engines revving waiting to see the green flag drop. Showcase that energy through your social media coverage. And make the teams and drivers you are sponsoring  part of your brand’s persona through social media.

Follow and Follow Back

Social media is a reciprocal relationship of “Follow and Follow Back”. This applies to anyone who has a presence on social media.

Follow selectively

That doesn’t mean you need to follow every one. In fact, I’m a bit discriminating about who I will follow back. Especially if it seems like all I’m getting is a sales pitch.

What I want to do is build my network. In my opinion, building and maintaining a social media relationship is similar to going to a networking group or being part of a group online.

As I continue to build my personal brand and business, I want to be able to rely on my network for advice, opinion and input. And you never know when that relationship will come in handy!

Where others “miss the boat”

It’s cliche, but I see brands missing the proverbial boat when it comes to the Follow and Follow Back methodology.

If you are an established brand like Coca-Cola or BMW,  following back is not the necessity it is for smaller brands.

Brands who want brand awareness must be proactive in their engagement with others. This happens by being aware of hashtags, and following and tagging relevant brands, media and influencers in the industry.

Get found by others

Case in point. On Instagram, if you post a photo of a 1968 Fastback Mustang, then you should be including every Mustang hashtag that makes sense including #Ford and #FordMustang.

Use hashtags to find content
Include hashtags that allow your content to be found.

Don’t forget to include media tags to your favorite publications like #musclemustangsandfastfords. A saavy social media manager may pick up that you are an enthusiast, and could be a great brand ambassador or contributor.

 

Don’t just takeaway, give back

I attend digital marketing and social media workshops, conferences and seminars to learn in order to improve my skill set or expand my knowledge, and my expected takeaway is that I learned in order to achieve my goals.
I just returned from a Facebook marketing workshop hosted by Blitzmetrics. Led by founder and Chief Technology Officer Dennis Yu, the entire program is based on process and checklists. This methodology doesn’t stop with the program. It is also how Dennis trains his team ensuring accountability and results for both the business and clients.
Leading up to the workshop, each attendee has a project list in Basecamp. It is probably the most prep work I have to complete before attending an event. What initially seemed like a daunting check list, I made my way through each task and got all but one complete before arriving in Phoenix.
What is usually a week-long event, we accomplish in three intensive days. And it is impossible to explain the amount of information that we cover. I’m sure I’ll need a couple of days to decompress, and really grasp what I learned. Dennis and his team demonstrate their program works by showing us real time examples, and sharing step by step the how and why.
Dennis Yu kicking things off for the Blitzmetrics workshop.

What was your key takeaway?

 
As we drove to our the start of our final day this morning, the question was asked, “What is the key takeaway you got from attending this event?” Everyone had a different response. One said it meant validation of what they were already doing. Another said she had renewed motivation for her company.
My key takeaway was a little different. I’ve known Dennis for several years. I have sought Dennis’ counsel and the expertise of the Blitzmetrics team for social media campaign amplification and research and data for marketing presentations. Dennis has been suggesting for a few months that I should consider launching my personal brand. While I have never said “No” to Dennis, I also haven’t jumped into action either.

The kick in the butt I needed

For me the event is the kick in the butt I need to get myself moving forward. When it is all said and done, I believe I’m on the right path to achieve my goal. That goal is to help companies and brands in the automotive aftermarket build their own strong and successful social media program.
The third and final day was the most relevant to me. Isaac Irvine of GoDaddy spoke to us about the making of his “Why” video that we had viewed the day before. The end product was the result of several takes, editing, trimming, voice over and splicing. He talks about recording on the fly when he’s inspired with an idea for great content. As he spoke, I realize that his fears about making videos were the same as mine and others who were in the audience.

Be Willing to Teach

What I really connected with was Dennis Yu’s explanation of the Nine Triangles Framework. This put together everything we had been learning and implementing.
The most noteworthy triangle to me was Learn, Do, Teach (LDT). It isn’t enough to learn how to be a better social media marketer or knowledgeable about personal branding. So often we selfishly keep what we know to ourselves thinking that it is our “advantage.” Instead, it is our responsibility to pass on our knowledge on to others so that they may benefit and will teach others as well.
I was surrounded by amazing people with the same objectives, to learn more.
Beyond the wealth of information that I learned. I found myself surrounded by some of the most amazing people. All of us came from different industries, yet we have the commonality of wanting to know more. And that more was given to us by Dennis and his team. By the way, if Dennis believes in you, he never takes “No” for answer.

Personal Branding – What is your “Why”?

The making of the “Why” video.

Dennis Yu is my social media spirit animal.

Later today I’m off to Phoenix for three days of intensive training with Dennis Yu and the Blitzmetrics team. If you didn’t already know, Dennis is my social media/data spirit animal, and is helping me work my way though this personal branding journey.

It seems like I’ve been doing a ton of prep work to get ready for this event. Everything from establishing my business email and public figure page on Facebook, to setting up Google AdWord and Tag Manager accounts. The ultimate goal of all of this is to lay down the foundation and kick start my personal brand.

Part of the process is creating my “Why” video. As often as I have been on stage performing as a musician or in a community theater production, you would think I’m comfortable in front of a camera. I really don’t like the sound of my voice recorded and the old adage that the camera adds pounds to you is no joke! But in order to move this personal branding thing forward, I need to suck it up.

The “Why” video is – why me? The steps to building my why have been laid out very clearly by Blitzmetrics.

  • Start with a personal story that will connect your audience emotionally
  • Make my “I Believe” statement connecting to my Why
  • Who I am and what I do

This video concept sounds simple enough right? But how do I decide what experience I should connect myself to?

I narrowed my choices down to three:

  1. Adopted as an infant by a single American woman before it was cool to adopt children internationally.
  2. Went to an open call audition for performers to sing the National Anthem at PNC Park for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was selected.
  3. Was a stand in for Pocahontas at the mall.

When I post the video you’ll know which option I choose! Stay tuned! If you have an opinion about which one I should focus on, please leave a comment!

 

 

Social Media Marketing Is Only Valuable If You’re Doing It Right

“Thoughts on Social Media Marketing Is It a Fad?”  This was recently posted on an Automotive Aftermarket Networking page last week. It was no surprise that there were over 200 comments, and the overwhelming sentiment is that it is NOT a fad. Many respondents say that it has played a key role growing his or her business, and it is necessary for brand awareness. Others agree about the importance of social media marketing, but have issues with changing algorithms and organic reach.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion about what is the best way to approach social media marketing. While I didn’t comment to the post, it inspired me to write this blog post.

Changing Social Media Marketing Sentiment

Facebook business pages were launched in 2007 and was still a relatively new concept in 2009. At the time I was interviewing for a Communications Specialist position. I asked the VP of Marketing and Sales what he thought about social media. He quickly replied that he felt it was a fad.

I got the job, and in 2010, I had the opportunity to start the brand’s Facebook page. When I left the company in 2015,  the brand’s Facebook page had over 800,000 followers and social media platforms included Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

You Must Still Pay to Play

It would be nice to think that all of the success was due to organic reach, but it wasn’t. With a minimal budget, we utilized social media marketing early on primarily to promote campaigns and contests. Via promoted posts and tweets we were able to target audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to our posts. It was fascinating to watch the insights and page likes go up.

While we had the support of the promotional posts to the page traffic, I then began to “train” our page fans to look for multiple posts a day. This approach would hopefully foster continued organic reach. Based on the traffic we were experiencing, Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics recommended that I post 2-3 times a day. It seems like a lot, but if you think about the key times that people access their social media (morning, afternoon and evening), it makes sense that you are reaching different audiences with each post.

I was fortunate that the company offered a wide variety of products to B2B and B2C customers. That way, I ensured that every image I posted could be directly related to a product we sold.

Social Media Marketing Cannot Stand Alone

You social media marketing efforts cannot live outside of your overall Content Strategy. Instead, in this day and age of mobile and digital communication, it is one of the most important components.

If you look at the  Social Media Marketing Cycle illustrated below you start at the top with your goals. These goals should mirror your overall marketing goals. The next two parts of the cycle – Content and Target work hand in hand and could perhaps be switched in the cycle.

Social Media Marketing Cycle

Who are the personas you are targeting? More than likely you have more than one. So with each persona, what is the right content? You wouldn’t post the same content aimed at the gearhead and and use it to engage the minivan mom.

Then consider how are you going to amplify your content? You can spend your budget correctly by targeting, but also being flexible enough to re-target and optimize those posts. If you aren’t willing to analyze your targeting to ensure you’re getting the most traction from your spend, most likely you’re shouting your best qualities to an empty room.

Finally, keep an eye on your insights, and know how to explain them. Starting with a small social media budget that yields good results will give you leverage to ask for more the next quarter or fiscal year.

 

Does your work evaluation matter, or is it a filed formality?

Companies have evaluations because there is a need to measure the growth of the employee from year to year. The exercise of self and manager evaluation takes place at the end of the year at my company. I outline my goals, accomplishments and challenges, and also have the opportunity to assess my manager’s efforts.

Pae-gi – “The determination to succeed in his/her work.” Employees are expected to strive to be equipped with Pae-gi. Company leaders are to discover and develop those with it.

 

 

Evaluation is an exercise in voicing your opinion “professionally”

This year’s self-evaluation flowed easily. I was hired to lead marketing for the launch of a branded company in 2015. My managing director presented the launch strategy at headquarters this summer, and our focus changed from brand launch to private label business. If you know private label, they market their own brand, so supplier marketing isn’t needed.

In my evaluation I explain the change in my role, and outline my current responsibilities. I describe my efforts, plan execution, challenges and obstacles. Then I rate my company satisfaction and provide opinions or suggestions for the team/company.

My self evaluation takes a couple of days to complete from start to finish. After I write my initial thoughts, I go back a couple of times to edit myself before it is ready to submit. In other words, I start by being very to the point, and then upon review I censor myself and make it more “professional”.

Manager Evaluation – Critique or Assessment

My manager evaluation is currently open on my computer. It has been for two weeks. Do you approach it as a critique or assessment? Is there as difference?

According to dictionary.com, to critique is the act of passing judgment. Assessment comes across as friendlier. “An evaluation of one’s abilities and failings.”  (British Dictionary)

The majority of the evaluation is by rating. Categories include:

  • Passion on work
  • Affection/Trust on employees and clients
  • Responsible for his or her actions
  • Challenge for higher goals and breakthrough
  • Pursue Innovation Change
  • Moral Ethics and Differentiating Personal/Work

Write-in sections address the manager’s strong points, developmental needs and overall opinion.

Does it really matter?

Evaluation is a balancing act. A good or poor review can impact potential for pay raise and bonus. I toil over how to articulate my thoughts in just the right way. It doesn’t do any good to just point out the negative. You want to give opinion that will hopefully inspire improvement.

I find myself questioning if any of it matters. If you see no action as a result of providing your opinion, you wonder if it was read. Or was it read but your concerns didn’t make the priority list, and it was filed in the “black hole of paperwork” on someone’s desk?

How do you approach your annual evaluation? Have you seen any change as a result of your input?

When Giving a Little Can Mean A Lot

Giving comes in all shapes and sizes. We give what we can, when we can. Some times a little can go a long way.

Giving a little

Monday the most important question of the morning was “Where to go for lunch?” After tossing around a few restaurant options, my friend Mayra and I settled on a Freddy’s down the road. Soon after we got our food, a young couple came in. Looking a little disheveled they were carrying backpacks and sleeping bags. I saw in her hand she held a cardboard sign that said, “Just hungry.”

I know that every one has a story about the circumstances that have lead them to that place. The place where you have no other choice but to ask for the help of a stranger. I watched as they patiently waited in line and then approached the counter. I couldn’t hear what she said, but I could see her movements. The girl behind the register stepped away, and they stepped off to the side. I could only imagine the cashier said to her, “Let me talk to my manager.”

Count your blessings

Earlier in the day, my friend and I were talking about our many blessings. A good job, healthy kids and family. Our problems are small compared to others.

I stopped eating, put down my burger and reached for my debit card. How could I possibly continue enjoying my hot burger and fries knowing someone standing 10 feet away just wanted something to eat. After standing at the counter for a bit, but the girl didn’t come back to the register. So I stepped to the other side where the food is served where at least five employees were having a pow wow.

“Hey,” I said to the manager in the group. “I want to pay for two meals for them.” I told him I didn’t need them to know it was me who paid for their food. He thanked me as I handed him my card. The cashier told them they would get a meal, and just seeing the girl’s joyful reaction was worth the whole $17.62 it cost.

Freddy's meal receipt
How much does giving cost?

Timing is everything

I don’t believe in coincidence. I don’t often give to pan handlers on the corner, but I was meant to be at that restaurant when those kids walked in.

As I glanced at them waiting in a corner booth for their food, I realized that they are around the age of my own kids who are 19 and 22. I have no idea what their story is, or where they are headed. In the end it doesn’t really matter.

Give what you can, when you can, and when it feels right. It’s not about getting a pat on the back. But a small gesture of kindness can mean a lot.