Category: Social Media Advice

How Chocolate Saved Shawn Askinosie

How Chocolate Saved Shawn Askinosie

After a particularly dizzying murder trial, Shawn Askinosie thought he was fine.

He kept practicing law as a homicide defense attorney for five years after that moment, all the while wondering why he was dealing with panic attacks, mental fogs, and even the symptoms of a heart attack after nearly 15 years of loving his career.

Eventually, something broke within him: he loved being a lawyer but simply couldn’t do it anymore.

Listlessly trying to find his place in the world, he stumbled upon making chocolate. Now, 15 years later, Askinosie Chocolate makes some of the highest quality chocolate in the world. On the journey, he also found a renewed sense of purpose in life that helped him come back from the brink.

Featuring insights from Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons podcast episode one, and the accompanying unpublished interview, Shawn explained how chocolate saved his life – and how he’s using his chocolate business to help others thrive as well.

How Chocolate Saved Shawn Askinosie
Shawn Askinosie

From defense lawyer to chocolate maker

The trial started out fairly routine: he was representing a woman accused of murder.

Right before the trial was supposed to go to the jury for a verdict, the judge pulled him and the prosecutor into his chambers.

The judge said he was revoking the jury’s mandate. Instead of a jury verdict on jail time versus the death sentence, the judge would sentence the woman to probation. Shawn wanted to keep fighting – he wanted his client off completely, not accepting probation – but the woman told Shawn he’d done enough, and she accepted the probation deal.

For five years after that trial, Shawn tried to forget about it and move on, but he couldn’t. He even started getting physical symptoms.

“I started having these little mini panic attacks in the courtroom,” said Shawn. I didn't even know what a panic attack was then, I never even heard of such a thing… my doctor thought it might be a heart attack.”

While thankfully it wasn’t a heart attack, Shawn’s doctor was deeply concerned for his mental wellbeing and told him to see a psychologist. He ended up starting antidepressants, trying to keep himself afloat so he could continue the career he increasingly no longer loved.

“I loved what I did so much and then I didn't – that really kind of threw me off,” said Shawn.

Eventually, he just couldn’t continue law anymore and resigned.

He spent a lot of time figuring out what would come next and fell onto food. He cooked a lot of barbecue for his friends. Then he tried baking. He enjoyed it, but nothing sparked a true passion.

Then a thought came to him: what about chocolate?

He learned the basics of chocolate making from some blogs and immediately felt drawn to the process. Realizing the sparks of passion, he took a trip to Ecuador to meet cocoa farmers and learn about the entire production chain from bean to finished product.

On that trip, Shawn realized his new passion would be to make the best chocolate in the world.

How Chocolate Saved Shawn Askinosie
Shawn Askinosie and Lawren Askinosie inspecting cocoa beans with their farmer partners in Mababu, Tanzania (2019)

Honoring family, supporting farmers, and building community

Shawn set out to turn his passion for chocolate into a company so he could sustain himself and his family. But unlike his law career, which was driven by excitement for the game and the mountains of cash he could make, Shawn approached chocolate making as an homage to his grandparents.

“My grandparents were farmers and an inspiration to me, just very kind people who lived a simple life… and I wanted to honor them,” said Shawn.

Keeping his grandparents in mind, he thought about what he wanted the business to do beyond delivering economic profit.

He landed on three keys: caring for the farmers he worked with, providing great jobs for his future employees, and providing care and resources to the communities he worked with.

In his mind, profit gave him the ability to focus on these other, bigger things. It’s a belief he thinks all companies should adopt as they think about corporate social responsibility (CSR).

“Even though it's messy, we need to diffuse the CSR efforts throughout all aspects of the company,” said Shawn. “… [It should] not just be the elite within the company that have the chance to roll up their sleeves and really serve others.”

With his three keys in mind, Shawn built up Askinosie Chocolate. He now has a profit share agreement with farmers in his supply chain, he sets revenue growth goals with an explicit amount set for increasing employee wages and benefits, and launched a nonprofit called Chocolate University to teach citizenship, entrepreneurship, and civic-mindedness through teaching kids the business of chocolate.

How Chocolate Saved Shawn Askinosie
Shawn Askinosie inspecting cocoa beans with farmer partners in Mababu, Tanzania (2019)

Building a company driven by service

Through his decade-plus-long journey so far, Shawn has thought about growth a lot. But it’s far from his top priority.

“Everybody tells us that we need to grow, grow, grow,” said Shawn. “Why?”

Shawn knows that people asking about growth always come with good intentions: your friends and family want you to be rich while your local Chamber of Commerce wants you to provide employment. But he also wants to push back against this notion and ask how companies can stay small while still delivering impact.

“Scaling is a strategy that is not without sacrifice,” he said.

One quote Shawn regularly turns to when there’s pressure to grow for growth’s sake is that “more is not enough.” And he wants entrepreneurs to focus on “enough,” not just “more.”

“We have lived this life of massive consumerism, of over-consumption, and the younger generations are pushing against this … because it's a truth that they want to live by,” said Shawn.

Rebelling against mass consumerism is part of a larger movement that Shawn calls “corporatocracy,” when a few massive corporations control most of the economic means of production.

Underneath the corporatocracy, though, is the future Shawn sees: responsibility for the social good.

“There are a lot of really small companies that [you] don't even know, never even heard the phrase ‘social entrepreneurship’, but they have rolled up their sleeves and they're doing good works on their street, in their neighborhood.”

For new entrepreneurs trying to fight against the corporatocracy, Shawn has a simple rule: ask yourself how much is enough, don’t just ask for more. While “enough” will change throughout your life, it’s critical to figure out what is enough for you right now, then center your actions to that end.

This, said Shawn, will help create “companies of the future that are not completely driven by profit but are driven by this notion of service to their brothers and sisters in need.”

Building a business, rebuilding a life

There’s an adage that you should always start how you mean to go on. But the problem Shawn sees is not starting out with good intentions; most entrepreneurs do that. Instead, it’s keeping those intentions at the forefront when growth comes calling.

You can – and should – still aim for profit. The key is to balance profit with staying true to your purpose and your “enough.”

For Shawn, this balance of profit with “enough” turned out to be his savior. Instead of wondering why things don’t feel good even though he’s “successful,” Askinosie Chocolate has meaning behind every action and every dollar of profit, which helped rebuild Shawn’s mental health and give him a renewed sense of purpose in the world.

“I am confessing that my company is less valuable than it might have otherwise been,” said Shawn. “And I am okay with that. Why? Because it would be out of balance for me to end the company in a way that is inconsistent with the way I started it.”


Listen to Shawn's episode and interviews with other small business owners on Buffer's latest podcast, Small Business, Big Lessons and come

https://buffer.com/resources/shawn-askinosie-chocolate/

New from Buffer: Start Page

New from Buffer: Start Page

The past year and a half has shown many of us that small businesses are too often the unsung heroes of our world. For almost 11 years now, we’ve remained committed to serving small businesses at Buffer. Earlier this year, we decided to make an expanded effort to help small businesses by making something even more accessible for people starting out and going broader in the types of problems we help solve.  

Today, we’re launching Start Page by Buffer for anyone who wants to create a beautiful, mobile-friendly landing page in minutes and update it in seconds, and it’s free.

We’ve built Buffer’s publishing, analytics, and engagement features with small businesses in mind. Now, we’re exploring something adjacent to social media to help with another big challenge we know small businesses face — properly leveraging that one key link that we all get on our social media profiles.  

There are a large number of link-in-bio tools available but we wanted to build something different, something that gives small businesses and individual creators the flexibility and power to create a beautiful page to showcase their brand through products, content, events, or announcements, all from one link.  

Start Page lets you quickly generate a landing page and URL for your business, no matter what type of business you have. Combined with our social media tools, Start Page creates a powerful toolset to start marketing your business.

How Start Page works

Simply go to buffer.com/start-page to begin building your Start Page, if you don’t yet have a Buffer account, you can set one up for free.  

You can start adding boxes for text, images, videos, social links, and more, right into our editor to create the layout you want, or you can choose from one of our pre-made templates. From there, you can customize page colors and style as well as add your own images, GIFs, and logos.

Once you’ve created and customized your page simply hit publish to claim your unique URL and start sharing it in your social profiles, email signatures, and marketing campaigns.

What’s next for Start Page

We’ve already heard from several businesses and individuals that they love Start Page, and we’re thrilled to continue evolving Start Page as more and more people use it as the home for their business. On our radar is custom domains, adding analytics for page views, and making even more themes.

We’d love to hear from you! If you’ve given Start Page a try, how’s it going? What would you like to see us add to it? Get in touch with us on Twitter to share your thoughts and feedback.

https://buffer.com/resources/start-page/

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

Back in 2015, we launched our first social media calendar. We were so excited to bring a new way of planning and scheduling to Buffer, and it proved to be a favorite feature among customers.

Since then, Buffer has changed a lot. We’ve re-designed our interface and added new planning features, like Stories Scheduling, Campaigns, and Hashtag Manager. Inevitably, our calendar started to feel a little dated and out-of-sync with the rest of Buffer. It even began living on a completely separate codebase, which made it difficult for engineers to make updates and fixes.

What started as a quiet call for improvements became a chorus of feedback from customers. In fact, the word “calendar” has appeared a whopping 247 times in our feature request form since the start of 2020.

The most common theme? Having all social media channels visible in one global calendar view. Here are a few examples:

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

So, our design team got to work; interviewing customers, looking at existing usage patterns, and digging deeper into the ideal experience. This is how we summed it up in our design brief:

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

Which brings us to today, many prototypes later, launching a brand new calendar experience that's available on free and paid Buffer plans.

Let's take a closer look!

Total planning visibility

The new calendar sits within your publishing dashboard and you can access it from the menu on the left-hand side of the dashboard. You can choose between a weekly or monthly view.

The weekly view shows you the key details of each post you’ve scheduled for the week; the channel to which it is scheduled, a preview of the text, and a thumbnail of your image.

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

The monthly view gives you a higher-level snapshot of the month with timestamps for every scheduled post. It’s a great way to spot and fill gaps in your strategy.

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

If you want to exclude certain channels from the calendar, you can use the Channels dropdown to choose which channels are shown.

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

To add a new post to your calendar use the Create Post button. This will pop open the composer, where you can choose the scheduled time.

Note: we're currently exploring other ways to add and rearrange posts; for example by clicking on a timeslot and dragging and dropping. We'd love to hear whether this is important to you!

Check your calendar anywhere, anytime

The new calendar is built into our iOS and Android apps. It’s the quickest way to stay in sync with everything you have scheduled and add content on the go.

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

Much more to come

We’re excited to hear your feedback and to add more power to the new calendar. What should we add next? How can we make it twice as good? We have some ideas, including:

  • Dragging and dropping posts around the calendar.
  • Creating a post by clicking on a timeslot.
  • Viewing and filtering Campaigns.

Share your thoughts

Excited about the new calendar? Have some ideas for us? Send us a tweet @buffer or use the Share Feedback button we’ve added right above the new calendar in your Buffer dashboard.

Introducing a New Social Media Calendar

https://buffer.com/resources/new-social-media-calendar/

Introducing Our Canva Integration: Design and Share Visual Content Instantly

Introducing Our Canva Integration: Design and Share Visual Content Instantly

If you’re building your own business or work in social media, chances are you’ve heard of Canva. It’s the do-it-yourself design platform that has taken the world by storm, with more than 50 million people using it every month to create graphics and other visuals.

Today, we’re excited to share that you can now use Canva and Buffer together to create and publish social media posts, without having to leave Buffer. You get the best of Canva’s design features and the best of Buffer’s social publishing features in one place. Hooray!

Before I dive into how the integration works, I’d love to share a little bit more about why we love Canva and why it made sense for us to add this integration.

Making it faster to share great content

Buffer customers are already using Canva to design images and graphics for their social channels, taking advantage of the 14,000+ social post templates that Canva offers. Why not make it quicker to bring those designs into Buffer? With this integration, you’ll no longer have to download images from Canva and then upload them to Buffer. You can now add them directly to a post in Buffer with just a few clicks.

Keeping it user friendly and accessible

Canva’s mission is to empower anyone to design, no matter how much actual design experience you have. When we speak to our customers, we often hear that they love using both Buffer and Canva because both tools are easy-to-use, intuitive, and affordable. We’re excited to bring these tools together to create a streamlined process for everyone, no matter your skill level.

Growth and innovation

Canva is growing fast and adding lots of incredible new features to its design platform. We’re thrilled to bring those features to Buffer through this new integration.

Creating content is one of the hardest and most time-consuming parts of any marketer's life, especially if you’re wearing many hats while trying to grow your business. Canva is a life-saver for spinning up visual content without the help of a designer. We couldn’t be more excited to add Canva to Buffer.

A closer look at Buffer’s new Canva integration

Canva is available on all plans, including our Free plan, and it’s super easy to get started. If you don’t have a Canva account, you’ll need to create one at Canva.com first. If you have a Canva account, you’ll just need to make sure you’re logged in while you’re using Buffer.

Creating a new Canva design in Buffer
The new Canva integration is built into the publishing experience in Buffer. When you open the Buffer composer to create a new post and use the Add Image button, you’ll now see a new dropdown menu with the option to add an image from Canva. Selecting this option opens up the Canva editor, where you can create your image and add it directly to Buffer.

Introducing Our Canva Integration: Design and Share Visual Content Instantly

Buffer will automatically detect the appropriate image dimensions for you, based on the channel you have selected in the composer.

These are default sizes:

  • Facebook: 940 x 788
  • Instagram Post: 1080 x 1080
  • Instagram Story: 1080 x 1920
  • Twitter: 1600 x 900
  • LinkedIn: 1200 x 627
  • Pinterest: 1000 x 1500

If you’re composing a post for multiple social platforms at once, for example, Instagram and Twitter, the image dimensions default to a 1080 x 1080 square. This is the most compatible size across all social platforms.

Importing an existing Canva design into Buffer
If you have pre-existing designs in your Canva library, you can add those to Buffer too. The first time you use the integration, you’ll need to click on Folders in the menu on the left-hand side, and then All your designs. This will add it to the menu for future use.

Introducing Our Canva Integration: Design and Share Visual Content Instantly

For more details on getting set up, feel free to read our help center guide.

Tips and resources for designing with Canva

One of the best things about Canva is that it’s easy to pick up and use right away. You don’t need any formal design training; it’s made for non-designers. That said, if you’re looking for some help getting started, Canva offers excellent tutorials in their design school.

They also offer courses specifically about creating social media content. Social media mastery is a popular one, with more than 140,000 students already.

Other resources

We’d love your feedback!

Canva is available on all Buffer plans today and we’d love to know what you think. Share your thoughts with us on social and don’t forget to tag @buffer!

https://buffer.com/resources/canva-integration/

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content

There’s no denying that content creation is time-consuming. You have to think of what to post, create a graphic, write a caption, choose hashtags, post the content, and engage with your audience in the comments—and then do it all again, and again, and again.

While the challenges of social media content creation may feel daunting, showing up consistently has big benefits for your business. By posting valuable content consistently, you can:

  • Grow your audience
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Build authority in your industry
  • Improve engagement

If you are looking to achieve any of the benefits listed above, it is worth figuring out a sustainable strategy for saving time planning and creating social media content. The key to achieving this is twofold—planning in advance and batch working content creation.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
@stilclassics

Multitasking—A Cautionary Tale

Let’s take a moment to talk about something we all do—multitasking. Multitasking often feels productive because you are doing “all the things”, but in reality, multitasking is one of the least productive things you can do.

It has been estimated that only 2% of the population is actually proficient at multitasking. When you switch from task to task, it actually takes 50% longer to accomplish a task. (John Medina, Brain Rules).

“Only 2% of the population is actually proficient at multitasking.”

So what are the 98% of us that are not proficient multitaskers supposed to do? The answer—when it comes to social media content creation—is creating a system and batch working. Below is a process that you can repeat each month to save time planning and creating your social media content.

Content Planning Process

Each month, set aside time to map out your social media content for the following month. By outlining the content topics you want to cover for the entire month, you can look at your content from a higher level and be more strategic about your content plan. Plan on spending 1-2 hours each month mapping out your content for the following month.

Plan on spending 1-2 hours each month mapping out your content

Things to include in your content plan:

  • Number of posts. How often do you post (or want to post) each week? Keep in mind that quality and consistency are more important than the number of posts. Stick to a schedule and frequency you can sustain long-term.
  • Goals. What are your overall business goals for the month? How can your content support those goals?
  • Any important dates. Do you have a new product or service launching, or an event? Plug those into your plan first, so you can fill in supporting content around them.
  • Social media holidays you want to “celebrate”. Are there relevant social media holidays you want to celebrate on your social platforms? This list has a good roundup of these types of holidays, or you can always research those that are specific to your industry.

With this content roadmap, you can confidently go into the month knowing what content needs to be created each week (more on that later).

What Types of Social Media Content Should You Create?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to social media content is knowing what to post. When creating content for social media, it is important to share a variety of types of content. Your content should educate, entertain, or sell.

Below are a few examples of businesses balancing content that educates, entertains, and sells.

Bulletproof (@bulletproof)

Bulletproof balances entertainment, education, and sales very well in their content. They highlight their products, share recipes and answer FAQS, and create funny, relatable GIFs.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Screenshot of Bulletproof's Instagram profile.

Shopify (@shopify)

Shopify shares inspiring personal stories of their customers, encourages conversation and engagement by asking questions, and sharing video content with “how” and “why” motivating life hacks.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Screenshot of Shopify's Instagram profile.

Flodesk (@flodesk)

Flodsesk highlights new features, shares tips and best practices for email marketing, and encourages engagement from their audience by asking “this or that” and “would you rather?” questions.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Screenshot of Flodesk's Instagram profile.

Another advantage of planning your content for the entire month is that you can better distribute and plan the types of content you will be sharing. Rather than scrambling to come up with something to post and potentially posting too many sales-focused posts or too many funny memes, planning in advance allows you to be more intentional and strategic with what you post. That ensures you are hitting all the marks building the know, like, and trust factor with your audience, serving them, and ultimately converting them.

Let’s say you want to share four posts per week. To balance your content types, you could share two educational posts, one sales-focused post, and one entertaining post each week. As you plan your month of content, you can start to plug in your content ideas according to that cadence and flow.

Bonus tip: This step of the process does not need to be high-tech. Simply use a monthly calendar (you can print one at Print-a-Calendar.com if you don’t have one) and grab some sticky notes and a pen and start jotting down your content topics. This process allows you to move things around as needed to better balance and distribute your content. Alternatively, you can plan in digital form on a Google calendar or in software like Asana, Trello, or Cickup. Choose the tool that works best for you so that you are more likely to use it.

When planning content, it is important to remember that content doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Really anything can be content if it is valuable to your ideal audience. Share your knowledge, take your audience behind the scenes, introduce your team, share customer testimonials or reviews, answer frequently asked questions. Know that you have insight that your audience craves—they told you that when they chose to follow you.

Streamline Content Creation With Batchworking

Let’s circle back to batch working and how to apply the tactic to content planning.

What Is Batch working?

Batch working is a highly focused, topic-specific form of working. When batch working, you divide your work into different hours/days and focus on only one thing at a time. Batch working can be applied to all areas of your life and work, but here we will focus on how to utilize it for content creation.

The idea is that by focusing on one task at a time, you can get into a flow state which is when your productivity and creativity truly flourish. The end result is better quality content in less time. A win-win!

Step 1: Plan a Month of Content

As outlined above, the first step in planning and creating social media content is to map out the entire month on content.

Assuming you have your monthly content plan and roadmap ready to go, each week you should follow the steps below to streamline the content creation piece of the puzzle.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Photo by @stilclassics.

Step 2: Create All Visual Content

With your content roadmap, decide what visuals need to be created for the week. Write a list of everything you need from stock photos, custom graphics, videos, Reels, cover images, etc.

Once you have the list, it’s time to start creating. For custom branded graphics, you can use a tool like Canva. Create (or purchase) a library of templates you can easily customize with different content each week. This keeps your branding consistent and also saves you time as opposed to starting designs from scratch each week.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Photo by Canva.

Step 3: Write All Captions

Captions do not have to take a long time to create. By batching captions and following a caption formula, you can quickly write captions that convert your audience. A good caption should include:

  • Hook: Grab their attention right off the bat. Think of the first 7-14 words of your caption like an email subject line. You have to inspire your audience to click “read more”.
  • Value: Deliver on what you promised in your hook and share content that educates, entertains, or sells.
  • Call to Action: Tell your audience what you want them to do next (i.e. share, like, comment, click, buy, sign up, tag, etc.). Keep your calls to action simple and fun to increase the likelihood that your audience will follow through.
How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content
Photo: Luke Southern via Unsplash

Step 4: Schedule Posts

Now that you have your visuals and captions, it’s time to schedule your posts according to your content calendar. Using Buffer’s Publishing tool, go to Settings and set your posting schedule.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content

Then navigate to your queue, drag and drop images and copy/paste captions and click “Schedule Post” or “Add to Queue”. Depending on the type of post, your post will either automatically publish at the scheduled time, or you will receive a push notification at the scheduled time to post yourself.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content

Step 5: Add Hashtags (if posting to Instagram)

If you are posting to Instagram, when you schedule your post, you also have the option to add up to 30 hashtags to the first comment of your post. Buffer’s hashtag manager allows you to save hashtag groups right in the platform. This makes it easy to choose the right hashtag group(s) to add to your post. When used thoughtfully and strategically, hashtags are a great way to extend the reach of your content.

How To Save Time Planning and Creating Social Media Content

Enjoy The Benefits of Planning & Scheduling Your Content in Advance

Imagine not having to constantly be wondering, “What should I post?”. As you get into the habit of planning and scheduling content in advance, you will start to see your efforts pay off. Not only will your content strategy benefit you, but you will also save yourself time and reduce stress around social media content. Instead of “posting just to post”, adopting a content batching routine allows you to create high-quality content when you are in your “content zone” and schedule it according to your social media strategy.

When you plan content in advance, your content can better support your overall business goals. If you have a product or service that you want to promote, an event or a company milestone, planning in advance lets you work backward to create strategic social media content that supports those goals.

Finally, by freeing up time and energy in the content creation process, you allow yourself to spend more time in other areas of your business. That extra time can be spent building connections and relationships with your social media community, or in other areas of your business like sales, admin tasks, networking or growing your team, or even on self-care. Think about what you would spend those extra hours on each month, and use that as motivation for sticking with your new content process.

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses. By planning in advance, you can leverage social media strategically and thoughtfully.

https://buffer.com/resources/how-to-save-time-planning-social-media-content/

How we’ve built and evolved our habit of giving back at Buffer

In 2020, it was more important to us than ever to support small businesses and non-profit organizations.

There are so many organizations offering essential services to their communities, and we have felt so lucky to be able to support them while continuing to support our own customers. We always want to give back each year — the amount might change, depending on our profit, but we’ll always give back. It’s a habit worth building and continuing.

We’d love to highlight the organizations we supported in 2020 and the important work they’re doing, and how we came to support them.

An evolution of giving back and choosing flagship causes

Back in 2017, we committed to donating 20% of our profit each year to charitable organizations and, each year, we’ve chosen those non-profits in different ways.

The first year in 2017, we invited our team to nominate any organization they wanted and chose seven that got the most votes. It was a very open-ended prompt! In 2018, we focused our search a little bit, still taking in any team nominations but ultimately choosing one organization to represent each of our six company values.

In 2019, we put a stake in the ground and decided to focus our giving efforts on a core Buffer stakeholder — the environment. We worked to calculate our carbon footprint and found projects to fund that would prevent, remove or reduce carbon emissions of the same amount. Then, we asked our team to tell us their favorite organizations that produce clean energy, remove carbon from the atmosphere, support sustainable energy sources, or otherwise contribute toward the health of our planet, and ended up choosing five of them to support.

As we entered 2020, climate action was still a core cause we felt committed to supporting, but it became obvious that there was another area where there was significant work to be done. Combatting racial injustice and actively pursuing anti-racism became a priority for our company, and we worked to establish several programs to support BIPOC activists, as well as Black- or POC-owned or -led organizations engaged in anti-racism work.

When we started looking into our 2020 charitable donation, we decided we wanted to make a significant contribution to organizations tackling one of these two core causes — climate action and anti-racism — and that had a strong alignment with our vision: a world with more small businesses that do good while doing well.

The selection process

As we’ve always done, we invited our team to tell us about organizations that inspired them. Here’s what we shared about each cause and why it was important to Buffer’s vision:

“Without a habitable planet and the stability that provides, no small businesses will be able to thrive, including Buffer. Simultaneously, the climate challenge also creates tremendous opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship, hence more startups and small businesses! It feels crucial to do our part in building a sustainable and healthy environment where small businesses can have long-term success.”

“Systemic racism is not only injustice, but it is also bad for business. Research ‘estimates that aggregate economic output would have been $16 trillion higher since 2000 if racial gaps had been closed.’ When it comes to a world with more small businesses, we'll also want to see more diversity in those businesses. By making our contribution to a more equitable and just future, we can create a world where more people from underrepresented groups can start small businesses and have the means to support small businesses within their communities.”

From these prompts, we collected team nominations and we learned about some amazing organizations. After a team-wide vote, we settled on four organizations to each receive $12,152.25 USD — an equal split of $48,609 USD, which was 20% of our profit share from 2020.

Our 2020 charities and the work they’re doing

We chose two organizations to represent our focus on anti-racism and two that represent climate action. We’re proud to support these organizations that are truly working toward a more equitable and sustainable world. Read on for more information about their work!

GiveDirectly
When we zoom out to the global level, there is huge inequality between people born and living in developed versus developing countries. The differences in wealth and access to opportunities remain massive. Currently, there is strong evidence that giving unconditional cash grants to people living in poverty is one of the most effective ways to drive positive change in their lives.

GiveDirectly gives cash grants that enable folks to invest in the projects, businesses, and items that are most impactful for them, instead of relying on organizations to choose for them. From their website: "We believe people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives — cash enables that choice.”

We are excited about supporting GiveDirectly as a way to catalyze more small businesses — especially by folks from underrepresented groups — starting up all over the world.

digitalundivided
There is no doubt that the U.S. tech and startup scenes have long been homogenous in many ways — with race and gender in particular. We get really excited when we hear about organizations that are supporting underrepresented groups and lifting them up to get the same shot as other founders, and digitalundivided is doing just that.

At digitalundivided, they run training programs, pre-accelerator programs, and a fellowship to help Black and Latinx women founders get the resources and mentorship they need to develop their businesses. On top of that, we were excited to see that they conduct research about Black and Latinx women founders in the U.S and that they use their research as a catalyst for change and action. From their website: “At digitalundivided, we use original, proprietary research to develop a data-driven ecosystem that expands the current body of knowledge about entrepreneurship in emerging communities.”

Their mission is all about doing good while doing well — supporting Black and Latinx women in their entrepreneurship journeys, all while catalyzing economic growth in their communities.

Cool Earth
Trees are a powerhouse for our planet, constantly pulling carbon out of the atmosphere — so deforestation is a huge contributor to the climate crisis. Cool Earth works directly with rainforest communities to halt deforestation. They do this by meeting and learning from rainforest communities around the world, many of whom are indigenous communities that have intimate relationships and immense wisdom about their local forests.

Cool Earth partners with these communities to develop solutions that are unique to each location. In many situations, they support the local communities to develop sustainable incomes so they can be self-sustaining without causing harm to the rainforests. From their website: “Cool Earth supports local and indigenous knowledge to develop innovative ways to address threats to the forest while making communities stronger and more resilient.”

Cool Earth takes a tangible climate action while empowering and supporting indigenous communities, and it’s an approach we are honored to support.

VertueLab
Cleantech is a growing industry of companies working to support the environment through clean energy, the sustainable use of resources, carbon sequestration, and more. VertueLab works to tackle the climate crisis by providing funding and entrepreneurial support to early-stage cleantech startups whose products can deliver a measurable impact on reducing greenhouse gases. They also intentionally prioritize the growth of diversity, equity, and inclusion across cleantech industries.

In other words, VertueLab is directly nurturing small businesses that strive to make a difference in the climate space, and that shape a more sustainable and equitable world. From their website: “[Our mission is] to unleash innovation and entrepreneurship that will solve environmental challenges and catalyze shared economic prosperity.”

VertueLab actively fights against the climate crisis with a very similar vision to ours — to see a world with more startups that are doing great work for the planet and doing well in the process.

Additional donations to anti-racism organizations

In mid-2020, separately from our annual profit share donations, we also committed to donating $100,000 USD to organizations for and by Black people working to dismantle racism. After consulting with our Black teammates to determine the organizations they wanted to see the money go toward, we donated to three wonderful organizations:

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people.

The Marshall Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system.

Brave Space Alliance, a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ center designed to create and provide affirming services for the LGBTQ community of Chicago.

We encourage you to read more about these organizations and the daily impactful work they do to support Black communities.

Learnings for next year

We’re a team that loves to give, though our approach up until now has been to “figure things out as we go.” That’s worked for us thus far, but now that we’ve established several charitable initiatives, we’re excited to think through a more holistic approach to charitable giving.

Having our two flagship causes is a great help with this, as is our annual choice to donate 20% of our profit. We’re committed to continuing our anti-racism programs, internally and externally, and working to be as carbon neutral as possible.

We’re honored to support these organizations and hope you’ll look into their work as well. We list even more anti-racist organizations worth supporting over here. There’s much more work to be done!

https://buffer.com/resources/giving-back/

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

It’s been a busy season for our engineering, product, and design teams at Buffer — what we collectively refer to as EPD. In the past eight months alone, we hired a Chief Product Officer for the first time, promoted a team member to be our first VP of Design, completely overhauled and restructured how we organize our EPD teams, created new roles on the team and hired 10 new product and engineering team members to our now 48-person EPD area.

That’s a lot of change. Thus, in the spring of 2021, we put out a survey to the EPD teams to understand the level of engagement of our team members and our “eNPS” — employee NPS, or if team members would recommend Buffer as a place to work.

I did a deep dive into the experience of the engineering team in particular – the results were an honest, eye-opening look into the experience of our team members, and we have a lot of action steps to take from our learnings.

A few key takeaways:

  • Engineering teammates have very distinct and differing needs depending on their tenure at Buffer (6+ years, 2-6 years, less than 2 years).
  • Women on the engineering team have a much lower eNPS than their male counterparts.

Below, we’d love to share the survey results transparently through the note I shared with our team.


Hi team,

Thanks so much for completing the EPD Engagement survey. Here's the breakdown for us in engineering:

Engagement is quite high, and eNPS at 38 is ok. About half of you actively recommend Buffer as a place to work, half feel it’s kind of ok, and a couple of people actively do not recommend Buffer.

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

If we break it down, a few more interesting things emerge:

Breakdown by tenure

Veterans: 6+ years at Buffer

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

Veterans feel most committed to the company (100%), positive about coworkers (100%), and feel they belong here (100%) but don’t see themselves really growing in their careers anymore (29%).

This makes sense: only people who like their coworkers and company would stay over six years, and also, at that time frame, managers need to work harder to find career growth opportunities.

So the focus for this group is career growth, and that’s the main driver of going from “it’s ok” to “it’s great here.” This honestly does get harder as time goes on — to keep a growth curve after many years — and so we need to get more creative with these conversations. With Lattice reviews and growth plans happening now, that’s one way to think about what’s next for veteran teammates.

Tenured Teammates: 2-6 years at Buffer

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

Teammates who have been here 2-6 years are our largest group. Engagement & eNPS are the same as the all-engineering average, and this includes some people who actively don’t recommend Buffer as a place to work.

This group is happiest with Management (94%) and Team Culture (94%) but is also the most exhausted group. Only 38% of this group have energy for leisure, friends, and family after work. They also don’t feel that this hard work is noticed: only 44% of respondents say people notice that they are going the extra mile (or hundred miles).

For this group, work-life balance and managing workload is the main focus, with burnout and not feeling valued as the main concerns. This is an active focus for me and for engineering managers who have been hearing this, too.

Newer Teammates: Less than 2 years at Buffer

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

Teammates with less than two years at Buffer are by far the happiest. Again, nobody in this group actively thinks Buffer engineering is a bad place to work. I’m happy to see this because it means that our outside image, and who we are on the inside, aren’t hugely different (if we talked a big game during recruitment and the blogs but were horrible to work at, we’d see eNPS of new people be lower with many detractors).

This group scored every metric as 100% (seriously!) except for feeling valued, at 67%.

For this group, recognition of contributions, praise, and valuing their opinion is the most important thing to improve. We hear you!

Breakdown by Gender

Gender is one factor where people can have very different experiences at the same workplace. There are other factors too, but we don’t have data for those. We do have enough people to have data, which is great. What’s not great is that women in engineering have a very different and much worse experience than men.

Note: all respondents happened to identify within the gender binary as either “male” or “female,” so I only have two categories represented for gender. That said, there are many genders.

Men in Engineering

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

Women in Engineering

An Honest Look into our Engineering Team Engagement Survey

Obviously, this is a problem. I would rather have a team with an eNPS of 20 and all genders scoring “it’s ok here” than have some genders saying it’s “good to great” and other genders saying that “it’s just ok” or “it’s awful.”

It’s also notable that participation in the survey from women in engineering was a bit low. This means that an eNPS of 0 is probably over-estimated. People who don’t fill in the survey are not usually super happy. More likely, the non-respondents are either passive or negative (“it’s fine, and I don’t have time for surveys” or “it’s so horrible and hopeless that there’s no point in even filling in a survey”).

There is some good news: at least some women are saying it’s great to work here! Also, women rated Management at 100% (we have 50% women engineering managers, so that could be part of it), and they rated Team Culture at 100%: women think their coworkers are skilled and do quality work.

Job Satisfaction at 80% is good, and so is Fit & Belonging (80%). So the good news is that women don’t feel actively excluded, held back, and discriminated against. That’s a low bar, but it’s one many teams fail to clear.

For women, Work Relationships was one of the lowest scores. While “my supervisor cares about me” and “my coworkers want me to succeed” is at 100%,  “people know what’s happening in my life” is at just 20%. Women don’t feel comfortable talking about what’s going on for them outside of work.

Women are also more exhausted than average, with just 40% having energy for other things outside work.

One hypothesis or story here is that the pandemic has been extra hard on working moms, and women still pull a double shift in many cases. There’s also often a stigma around being a working mom or caring for parents and relatives, and so women feel exhausted and also unable to talk about everything draining them at and outside of work. Women are socialized to smile, be nice, don’t complain, have it all together, and face a lot of guilt and pressure to be always on, always  “doing it all.” This is true in society at large. So, it could be true of our women in engineering, and a problem if Buffer isn’t doing enough to support them.

Another interesting data point: women scored lower than average for trust in senior leadership’s decisions, with no “strong agrees” and a few “disagrees.” Recently, I read a post on Being Glue that offers a possible explanation here:

Women are socialized to be nurturers and often pick up extra work to shield their team members from decisions made in leadership that could be challenging for others to adapt to. Recent org chart changes come to mind; there could be other factors too. If women statistically feel the impact and are tired from trying to mitigate that impact, while men are more likely to feel the benefit of that Glue/nurturing work without as many costs, that could explain some of the differences between men and women’s experiences. That’s a hypothesis. It’s a story I could tell from the data I have on this team and from the data in the industry. I don’t know whether that is our story.

To find out more about what the story (stories?) really is, Melissa [our new VP of People] and I are going to run a session with women in engineering to hear more about the experience of being a women engineer at Buffer and why it is different — and worse — than the experience of being a man in engineering.

For men reading this, you are absolutely welcome to share your thoughts with Melissa or me directly. If you’ve noticed anything that would negatively affect your women coworkers, I absolutely want to hear about it, and if you have ideas, please share.

The reason I’m not including men in that live discussion is that I want to hear the women’s stories from the women because, in the data, we see that the story for women is different. I hope this makes sense. I am happy to talk more about it too.

Limitations

I don’t have enough data on race and sexual orientation to have statistically significant sample sizes, so I can’t draw any conclusions for these groups as part of this survey. We do know that these groups also can have a harder time in the industry at large.

In the long run, a more diverse team will mean more data. In the shorter run, we’ll need to rely on other methods to ensure everyone has an equitable experience. There is work to be done, and not having it in survey results does not erase that work.

-Katie


As we continue to make changes and improvements to the engineering experience at Buffer, we look forward to sharing our learnings along the way.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @gokatiewilde to continue the conversation about building engaged and fulfilled engineering teams. Always happy to chat!

https://buffer.com/resources/engineering-engagement-survey-2021/

How We Serve Our Customers While Working a 4-Day Work Week

How We Serve Our Customers While Working a 4-Day Work Week

As with the rest of the Buffer team, our Advocacy team was thrilled when we first experimented with a four-day work week in May 2020. Unique to this team, though, was a bit of wariness around the success of a four-day work week for a customer-facing team.

As a company, Buffer has always had a high bar for customer support. We aim to provide fast, personal, and informed customer support responses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We also assign one Advocate to every ticket so that each customer gets a sense of continuity with us. The thing about Advocacy is that even if we are working one less day per week, the incoming ticket volume remains mostly unchanged.

So how do we aim to set the bar high when we’re working four-day work weeks?

We’ve tried several different setups and are quite happy with where we’ve landed. Here’s exactly the system we currently use to make a four-day work week work for our Customer Advocacy team, along with a transparent look at our team goals and metrics from the last year of working a four-day work week.

How Advocacy is set up for a 4-day work week

Over the years, the Advocacy team has done a few different rounds of summer Fridays, where our teammates took half-days on Fridays for a month in the summer. We learned quite a lot from those, so we already had a framework for what the challenges and opportunities would be as we entered into the four-day work week.

In general, a shorter work week is a great opportunity for the Advocacy team to learn and grow in several areas:

  • Communication: With a four-day work week, we have to have excellent communication with a key focus on asynchronous communication.
  • Knowledge management: We already put a lot of effort into how we share knowledge and document our processes, and this is another chance to improve how we do so.
  • Experimenting with time management: It’s a chance to explore how we can work more efficiently each day, and how we can better manage our energy.
  • Setting individual goals: This was a great opportunity to rethink individual goals and give the team clear objectives to work towards.

Where we started with the four-day work week

When the whole Buffer team first started working four-day work weeks, we gave each team at Buffer the freedom to choose the day of the week to take off. The whole company mostly fell into two camps: Wednesdays or Fridays.

We already knew that choosing a consistent day each week wouldn’t work for us on the Advocacy team because we need to be available seven days a week for our customers. Any day that we have no Advocates working, ticket volume builds up, and customers don’t get responses. There’s also a chance we miss a bug or issue with the Buffer product that comes through the inbox.

From the get-go, we knew we would need a variety of days off for different team members. Initially, we rotated days off, so teammates were off on a different day every week, but there were always some teammates online. We did this for the first month, and it wasn’t a popular option. First, there was far too much admin work involved to set up this schedule; second, it was tricky for Advocates to plan anything when the day they were offline was continually rotating.

The system that works for our team

The schedule we have now is the schedule we landed on in July 2020, three months into us adopting the four-day work week. We asked team members for their preferences for a day off, and we try to follow that as much as possible. Most folks opted to have Friday off, some prefer Monday off, and a smaller group takes off Wednesdays. Now, it’s consistent every week, so we know exactly who will be online each day of the week.

Timezone
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday 
Number of teammates working
13
16
15
15
8
1
2

An important part of this system for us was building it to optimize for most folks on the team to be able to take three days off in a row.  This work structure — four days on, three days off — can be really replenishing, and we wanted that for our team members.  

Also, it can get tricky to have an ongoing conversation with a customer if you’re off one random day in the middle of the week. We built the schedule with that in mind, though we have a few team members who find value in taking Wednesdays off and we support that. For the majority of the team, though, it’s Monday or Friday off.

How we manage weekends

As you can see in the above chart, we have customer support coverage on the weekends as well. That’s something we’ve done since the early days of Buffer, and we hire a few people specifically for weekend shifts. By default, they work one of the weekend days and not both, so they have one weekend day off. The exception is that one teammate prefers to work Friday to Monday and have Tuesday to Thursday off.

For those taking weekend shifts, we still optimize for having three days off in a row to maintain the benefits of that added rest and maintaining flows for communicating with customers.

Goals and metrics and the 4-day work week

In general, we set goals and measure our incoming volume across seven days instead of the four that each teammate is working. The challenge for us is making sure that, collectively, we are as productive across those seven days with this new schedule. Honestly, we struggled in the first six months with this; we did the best that we could, but we didn’t have clear goals and we weren’t able to have clear expectations for increased productivity.

This year, we’ve been much more clear with our goals, specifically around ticket-number targets to hit within four days. That clarity means that teammates can hit our response time goals and continue to work a four-day work week. As with other teams at Buffer, Advocates also have the option to work a partial or full fifth day of the week if they feel they haven’t been able to achieve what they set out to do in a given week. We call that fifth day an “overflow day.”

A look at our goals and how they’ve evolved

Our two main goals for the Advocacy team have always been our response time to customers and individual ticket goals (how many tickets an Advocate gets through in a day). These goals were based on what we thought were realistic targets for the team and for the level of each individual.

In Q1 of 2020 (before we were working a four-day work week), our goal was to respond to customer emails within six hours. We also had individual ticket goals that were based on daily volume. When we moved to four-day work weeks in Q2 of 2020, we implemented new targets for tickets per day, but we didn’t tie these to the customer experience we wanted to provide or set these based on achieving the same output in four days instead of five.

We ended up evolving our business hours for offering customer support. At the beginning of our 4-day work week experiment, our business hours were Mondays at 3 am ET through Fridays at 8 pm ET — i.e. 24 hours a day during the work week. To create more consistent expectations for our customers, we changed our hours to be 6 am to 8 pm ET each day, Monday through Friday.

Now in 2021, we’ve set ambitious company and team-level OKRs (objectives and key results) around customer response times and overall service experience. It’s important to us that we don’t sacrifice customer experience for efficiency. We’ve aimed for a two-hour first response time, and subsequent replies sent within seven hours (for email tickets).

A few results so far in Q1 2021:

  • Our customer satisfaction score went from 92.3% in Q4 2020 to 94% this quarter.
  • We hit our goal of a two-hour first response time, with a median of 1.6 hours during business hours.
  • Our team sent 71% of second responses within seven hours (our goal was 90%).

We have also standardized our team targets for ticket replies sent per week (148-170 tickets) and ticket quality we expect from each individual. These goals ensure a level of output we need to achieve our objectives while being able to take that fifth day off.

Parting thoughts

We are proud that we’ve been able to improve our customer response times and experience in 2021 while working a four-day work week. Even with that, we know there is still room to evolve what a four-day work week looks like for our team.

The reduction of hours available across a global team means we’re at times a bit short of hands when we’re impacted by external factors such as third-party downtime or issues with APIs. Whilst we might be able to get the same amount of tickets done in four days as five, there is always going to be value in being available on specific days and times within the world of customer support.

As a team, we’re continuing to discuss how we can embrace a bit more flexibility around coverage in our strategy for the future.

Do you work on a customer support team that has four-day work weeks? Or do you have more questions about how we approach a four-day work week? Drop us a tweet! You may just hear from one of our Customer Advocates.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

https://buffer.com/resources/customer-advocacy-4-day-workweek/

Caryn Hubbard is Buffer’s VP of Finance

Caryn Hubbard is Buffer’s VP of Finance

I’m happy to share that Caryn Hubbard was recently promoted to Buffer’s VP of Finance. 🎉

Caryn Hubbard is Buffer’s VP of Finance

Caryn has been on the Buffer team for over five years now and has made huge contributions in her time on the team, both as the leader of our Finance team and as a member of our Executive team. She was instrumental in our $3.3M buy back of VC investors, in helping us navigate the turbulence of the financial impact of the pandemic, as well as in launching Buffer’s annual charitable donations. She has also piloted several projects that advanced Buffer’s transparency around compensation, including multiple versions of our salary formula.

Beyond the Finance team, Caryn has overseen Buffer’s legal and compliance focus through industry changes and Buffer’s expansion. She continues to be a strong leader for the financial team and most recently has been working on our approach to liquidity and equity.

I’m so grateful for everything that Caryn does for Buffer and our team. Buffer’s financial future is more secure, and we have a more sustainable business as a result of Caryn’s hard work. She is a trusted and calming presence who is relied on to provide regular thoughtful updates on Buffer’s finances to our team and investors. You can see the most recent report here.

https://buffer.com/resources/vp-finance/

Tyler Wanlass is Buffer’s VP of Design

Tyler Wanlass is Buffer’s VP of Design

I’m happy to share that Tyler Wanlass recently became Buffer’s VP of Design. 🎉

Tyler Wanlass is Buffer’s VP of Design

Tyler has been on the Buffer team for over five years now, initially joining as a Product Manager before he transitioned to our first Head of Design.

Throughout 2020, while we were hiring for a new Product leader, Tyler took on that role in the interim and did an incredible job. I’ve been impressed with how he’s juggled so much, operated at a high level, and contributed at layers from the leadership team down to the individual 1:1 level with product team members. He’s lead Product excellently, introduced new processes and alignment, and put things in a fantastic place for Maria, our CPO, to come and take us to a new level. Since working with Maria, he has formed a strong partnership and they’ve already achieved some incredible milestones together as well as jointly brought new energy to how we approach Product overall.

A key reflection I had over the past six months is that at Buffer, we’ve always spoken about Product being at the core of Buffer. We’re a truly product-led organization, putting the Product at the center of everything we do. We don’t have a sales team, and much of our growth comes through word of mouth based on our customers’ experience. With this in mind, it started to occur to me that having two Product leaders, both Maria and Tyler, within the leadership team would be the most appropriate structure going forward and help us to create the right balance and approach to strategy over time. VP of Design is not a role we previously had at Buffer, and in these first few months, it has felt completely natural and highly impactful. This decision reflects the importance we place on product innovation and quality, which is fundamental to a lot of the outcomes we are pushing for.

I’m so grateful for everything that Tyler does for Buffer and our customers. Tyler has been an awesome partner in some big decisions this year. I believe customers and all of us at Buffer are better as a result of Tyler’s significant contributions.

https://buffer.com/resources/vp-design/

Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action

Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action

Today’s youth is craving to be at the forefront of successful movements, tearing down and rebuilding structures and enacting positive change around the world. Increasingly, nonprofits are leveraging this desire and turning to younger generations to drive change and become the future leaders of the world. Their main catalyst of change? Social media.

This is the driving notion at Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), a young, vibrant, and growing organization that is pushing for bolder actions to make universal access to modern and clean energy happen by 2030. They believe that the younger generations are the driving forces of the current climate action movements; they ask the most challenging questions, are open-minded, and use their own network to reach new audiences of leaders and supporters. Through their platforms, SEforALL truly hopes to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.

In this interview, you’ll hear directly from Meriam Otarra, Communications Specialist at SEforALL, and you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadays
  • How to connect on a deeper level with younger audiences through reader-friendly, modern, dynamic content
  • The marketing tactics that work best to reach younger audiences
  • Tips on building awareness and community around important causes via social media
Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer Social Media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

There are so many great nonprofits working hard to make the world a better place. We want to help a tiny bit when it comes to their social media marketing efforts. We offer a 50% discount to all registered nonprofit organizations. Here’s how you can apply for the discount!


Tell us more about you! What’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) all about and what’s your role there?

Hi my name is Meriam Otarra and I’m a Visual & Digital Communications Specialist for international organizations. I currently lead the creative communications and social media for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). SEforALL is a young, vibrant, and growing organization that works with the United Nations, international organizations, governments and the private sector to ensure we achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) — access to modern, clean, reliable, and sustainable energy for all — by 2030. We’re soon celebrating a decade of SDG7 progress since SEforALL was initiated by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Since then, there has been an increasing demand for SEforALL platforms and products, and that’s why as part of the communications team, I make sure that these digital products are:

  • Reader-friendly, modern, dynamic;
  • Reaching the right audiences!
Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action
Meriam Otarra, Communications Specialist at Sustainable Energy for All

Tell us about the “This is Cool” campaign! What has made this campaign so successful?

From where I’m from, which is the Philippines, a day never passes by without hearing someone say, “It’s hot.” (Either that, or “Oh my god, it has been raining non-stop for 7 days!”) And without urgent actions to the climate crisis, the rural and urban poor in developing countries in Africa and Asia are getting more and more at risk of the consequences of heat, because they can’t access or afford whatever cooling technologies are available out there.

SEforALL started the #ThisisCool campaign last year after releasing one of the household reports called Chilling Prospects, which tracks the global development of delivering universal sustainable cooling. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the current cooling situation (last year it was found that around *1.02 BILLION* people are at high-risk due to lack of access to cooling!), its challenges, and what can be done across the world to make sustainable cooling for all a reality.

Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action

As part of the campaign, we created a microsite with Greenhouse PR, with different cooling case studies—from cool rooftops to farming innovations—and provided a nicely illustrated toolkit that can be used by anyone and everyone to start the conversation on sustainable cooling. Check it out at thisiscool.seforall.org!



Why do you believe it’s important for nonprofit organizations to appeal to younger audiences nowadays?

We’ve said it before at SEforALL (and we’re definitely not the first ones to say it!), but youth are the driving forces of the current climate action. They aren’t afraid to speak out and demand better policies or a better response to the pandemic that’s affecting us, youth, both short- and long-term. As social media managers, sincere engagement is what we ultimately aspire to build, and at least for what I can say as the frontline of SEforALL social media, youth are the ones who ask questions, are open-minded, share ideas, and use their own network to help SEforALL reach other audiences who may have otherwise not heard about SEforALL before. Through our platforms, we can only hope to channel the right mindset and influence the future leaders of the world.

As social media managers, sincere engagement is what we ultimately aspire to build, and at least for what I can say as the frontline of SEforALL social media, youth are the ones who ask questions, are open-minded, share ideas, and use their own network to help SEforALL reach other audiences who may have otherwise not heard about SEforALL before.

As a nonprofit international organization, how do you connect on a deeper level with younger audiences?

We’re not scared to dive into conversations with youth. That’s why we created the SEforALL Youth Summit last February, organized by the SEforALL youth representatives ourselves, to show that youth voices are needed to be heard and that SEforALL is here to listen. The outcomes of that Summit are also going to feed into the high-level meetings on energy happening this September.

Social Media for Nonprofits: Empowering Younger Generations to Take Action

What marketing tactics have you found work the best to reach younger audiences?

We found showing data and infographics that hit closer to home for younger people have had better engagement and reactions than most other content. Two good examples that we’ve pushed out during the Summit were (1) showing data through an infographic on the amount of energy the whole country of Senegal uses versus the amount of energy Californians use playing video games; and (2) no energy access, no internet.


We found showing data and infographics that hit closer to home for younger people have had better engagement and reactions than most other content.

For our #ThisisCool campaign, we also reached out to youth influencers in the climate action sphere in Africa and Asia by commenting on their posts related to passive cooling (see example below). And only when they follow us back do we actually send them a personalized message on Twitter telling them about our campaign and ask them for their emails so we can send the toolkit directly to them. It’s important for us to know that they believe in our message as we do with them before we bombard them in their inbox. With the support from Greenhouse PR, we selected them not just based on their following count, but also the quality of content that they put out.


Which social media platforms have successfully driven SEforAll’s missions forward and why?

As far as advocacy goes, our Twitter and LinkedIn profiles have had the most impact on SEforALL projects. Twitter is fast-paced and straight to the point and easy to connect with our audiences in the international organization sector. As we (and our partners) always have events, knowledge products to release, it’s usually the first platform we utilize for any campaign. And while LinkedIn is quite the contrary, we’ve used our LinkedIn to establish thought leadership in the energy access scene, as well as show value and appreciation to our staff. It’s also quite surprising but a lot of our youth audiences are mostly on LinkedIn.

We’ve used our LinkedIn to establish thought leadership in the energy access scene, as well as show value and appreciation to our staff. It’s also quite surprising but a lot of our youth audiences are mostly on LinkedIn.

What advice do you have for other organizations that want to build awareness and community around the causes they care about via social media?

Two words—timely and timeless. At SEforALL, we don’t want to be just quick, we also want our content to be relevant yesterday, today, tomorrow. It helps to create content that puts the cause into proper context, one that is straight forward, relatable, short.

At SEforALL, we don’t want to be just quick, we also want our content to be relevant yesterday, today, tomorrow.

We recently did a 2-minute explainer on why we need universal energy access or Sustainable Development Goal 7. It was also created to reach out to those who are not yet familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals in general. We talked about current events, why energy is needed for cold chains for vaccine deployment, why children need energy to access online education, etc. Art and copy have to go hand in hand. At SEforALL, I’m lucky to work with multimedia wordsmiths that make my work easier.


What actions can businesses and individuals take today to make sustainable cooling a reality?

When we think about cooling, the first thing that comes to mind is air conditioning. But cooling for all depends on many different solutions and with the climate, economic, health crises that we are facing, we need to make sure we prioritize efficient and affordable solutions that (1) won’t spike energy demand, and (2) don’t have negative environmental impacts.

Business, corporations, individuals—all stakeholders—can think about cooling solutions in four ways:

  • Passive cooling solutions: no-energy solutions like trees that provide shade or natural ventilation in buildings
  • Policy solutions: governments prioritizing passive cooling in building codes or cities ensuring enough green space to keep the city cool
  • Financial solutions: making energy-efficient refrigerators and air conditioners easier to purchase by the mass public
  • Service solutions: training people and companies how to be more sustainable and how to create sustainable products

To find out where we are in delivering sustainable cooling for all and what the newest cooling innovations are out there, we’re having a virtual event on the release of our 2021 Chilling Prospects report this May 5!


We hope this interview with Meriam helps you get started with or double down on your social media efforts. You can follow Sustainable Energy for All on Instagram here and on Twitter here!

https://buffer.com/resources/empowering-younger-generations-to-take-action/

When Taking Fridays Off Can Help Our Team Get More Done: An AMA on the 4-Day Work Week

When Taking Fridays Off Can Help Our Team Get More Done: An AMA on the 4-Day Work Week

Since we first kicked off a 4-day work week in May 2020, people have had a lot of questions about it. What day are we taking off? How long will we continue this practice? Is everyone really working four-days a week or are some people working more?

Some of the answers to these questions have changed over the last few months, and I’m sure some will continue to change and evolve as we learn more about operating within a four-day work week. A little while ago, I decided to answer questions about our four-day work week policy on Twitter, and I got a fantastic response. I’ve included a high-level recap in this post, but feel free to check out the whole thread if you’d like to see every reply.

Without further ado, here are some of the questions I got about the four-day work week organized into a few top categories, along with my replies and those of Caryn Hubbard, our VP of Finance, and Åsa Nystrom, our VP of Customer Advocacy, who contributed to several answers.

Why a 4-day work week?

Pranay asked: Why did it take a pandemic to implement it and why is a 4 day work week matter – cant it just be about the work itself instead of timing it?

We’ve thought about it for years, and I have a fundamental belief that 5-day workweeks aren’t necessarily optimal. The pandemic meant added stress for all of us, especially for the parents in the team. I wanted to get through it with the team, mentally, in the best position.

I believe that many businesses that are squeezing every last drop they can get out of their companies in terms of profit, productivity, etc. suddenly ran into issues in the pandemic. Growth goals to hit and no profit margin, meant layoffs for many companies.

And when you make layoffs, you erode trust significantly with your team. That can take years to build back. I wanted to build trust with my team through the pandemic. This was one of the best ways that I thought to do it.

How does it work?

Niel asked: Does everyone take the same day off? Or is it up to the individual? Or is it based on teams? Or something more nuanced?

In the beginning, we experimented with teams deciding the day, but knowing which day and having adequate time for cross-team collaboration was a challenge. Frankly it felt quite chaotic. Now, we do Fridays other than Customer Advocacy which rotate the day.

Shubham asked: Which 4 days of the week do you work? M – TH or Tu – Fr or something else? Do you find that the team tries to fit in 5 days of work in 4?

For the majority of the team, we do M – TH. In the beginning I tried Wednesdays as my day off, and enjoyed that but I prefer Fridays now. 3-day weekends are very powerful. I think overall, the team tries to work smarter. Perhaps trying to fit 4.5 days into 4.

David asked: woah didn’t know you were doing this – love it what would your reasons be for going back to 5 day?

The reasons would likely be not achieving our goals, which would be sad because I fundamentally don’t believe it’s putting in hours that will get us there.

And, one key thing is that over time, we’ve realized that 4-days should feel like a privilege, not entitled. So, if you get your tasks and goals for the week done, awesome – take that day off. If you didn’t quite do enough for us to reach our goals, spend part of Friday working.

Scott asked: Doing a 4, 10’s type of deal? Or not tracking exact hours, rather output and movement?

Not tracking exact hours, and more focus on tracking output. The goal is to achieve the same if not more, in less overall hours worked (more along the lines of 4 8’s).

Gaya asked: That’s awesome! Hopefully more companies will follow to normalise this. Q: Did the salaries stay the same? I know people who are holding back from working less because of decrease in pay

No change to salaries at Buffer with our 4-day workweeks. It’s less hours for the same pay. I don’t believe in same hours in less days, because for me 4-day workweeks are really about a more fundamental belief that hours worked are not correlated with results.

Stone asked: Love that you did this! Do you build in any deep work/no meetings time as well? Do you think the pandemic was needed for the transition/will you keep@it when offices reopen? How confident are you that people aren’t working longer 4 days or actually taking Friday off?

For many years we’ve had discussions and focus on deep work, and many teams have a day with no meetings. I don’t think the pandemic was needed to do it, but it was a motivator. I’m confident we’ll keep at it after, too. We’re already 100% remote so no actual offices.

I’m confident in most cases people are taking the Friday off. That said, we also don’t actively discourage working a little on Friday, if the team member feels that is needed to achieve our goals. We have big ambitions for what we can do for customers *and* innovating culture.

How do specific teams and teammates manage a 4-day work week?

Dwija asked: Do you have mothers working as full time employees? If working hours of those 4 days increase – how do they manage? I know it depends on them but just curious. Females are taking a hit – BIG TIME in Covid. ( For example: Yours truly)

From Caryn: We have many mothers and fathers at Buffer. Our shift to the flexibility of a 4 day workweek has been one of the most key things keeping my family of 5 healthy & safe this past year. The trust & flexibility to work the schedule that works for me & my family is everything.

From Joel: To add to the great insights Caryn shared, our decision to try a 4DWW was very much with parents in mind. Working hours haven’t increased. We work hard as a team to strive to achieve our goals without regularly working more hours. More here.

Mark asked: Does customer support participate in the 4-day week? If so, how do you stagger hours / meet customer expectations?

Yes, they do, but we still want to serve customers to the same high level. Over time, we’ve tweaked our 4-day workweek to drive us to push ourselves in the 4-days and feel like we’ve really earned that day off, not entitled to it.

Our customer support team is the one team that switches up the day off in order to make sure we maintain coverage for customers.

Stefan asked: Are the customer-facing teams doing 4-day work weeks as well? If so, are they all off on Fridays? If so, are customers’ emails/calls not answered till Monday?

No, we have to take a slightly more unique approach in our customer service team. We’re fully committed to providing world-class service, and we know the world works M-F (and even weekends). The specific day is different per team member, so more of a relay in that team.

Have y’all had any issues with a handoff from one team member to another in this relay system?

From Åsa: Jumping in to help with this q. No issues! We work in four-day blocks and use an assigned inbox flow to keep consistency in our customer communications. Our team covers most of the globe and are in constant communication across the week to keep on top of issues etc.

Jean asked: Do you have a strong customer support team in terms of number of people? Are you also applying this formula to tech team?

Our customer support team is 21 people out of 85. All teams adopt the 4-day workweek, but we also have goals we strive for and we see the 5th day as something earned not entitled.

Mercer followed up with: Does that mean that your support team doesn’t always get the same time off? How do you strive to protect the time of your customer-facing teams (who so frequently don’t get the same blessings as the other teams around them)?

It’s not necessarily that different for our support team, but it’s often more measurable for a support team. So we aim to be mindful of that. But we also have engineering teams that will work the 5th day if they don’t feel on track. Most teams work 4-days now.

From Åsa: Everyone on the CS team works a 4-day block & has the same days off every week to make sure we have the same ability to disengage and recharge! Being customer-facing doesn’t mean we can’t participate in company initiatives like these, it just means we need to plan a bit more.

Sllyllyd asked: Do the more senior team members stick to four days?

In general, yes. Often the more senior team members are the ones who feel the most accountability and energy for goals, and so we sometimes work the extra day to get make sure we’re on track. It’s not the norm, though, and when we do it’s usually just a couple of hours.

From Caryn: There’s a high level of flexibility and trust that we’ll meet our shared and individual goals w/in the schedule that works best for us. As a mom of 3, my needs look different than fellow colleagues but I thrive with that mutual respect & trust. Sometimes I choose to work 5 days.

How is it going?

Daniel asked: What’s better than you expected? What’s worse than you expected?

Better: The extra day builds in reflection time that we often don’t make room for, where many of us solve problems. So in many ways, we do more meaningful work.

Harder: Purpose becomes even more important. We need to feel driven to do great work in the precious 4 days we have.

Purpose on an org level or individual level?

Both. Especially with the past year we’ve had. The real magic is when org purpose feels intertwined with a personal sense of purpose, something worthy to go after that can really make a difference. If org purpose feels like it serves society, individual purpose usually follows.

Jesse asked: Are people get as much done? Do you have hourly staff?

We have no hourly staff, which is important. This isn’t less hours for less pay, it’s less hours for the same pay. In terms of productivity, that’s hard to measure in this wild past year we’ve had. But, things look promising. Philosophically, I believe we can get as much done.

Awesome. Are people happier and more excited to come to work? Boost in moral? Did you see it level off?

Yes, to all of that! You nailed it. We’ve not felt it level off yet, there’s still a ton of gratitude for the 4-day workweeks 9+ months in.

André-Paul asked: What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed within your team? Any new routines/behaviours/processes?

Well, there’s definitely a new level of gratitude. We’re here, trying out this wild new thing, and gaining this extra day for family or ourselves. It’s awesome. And with that, a sense of alongside gaining flexibility, giving flexibility too.

What I mean by gaining flexibility and giving flexibility is, especially as a global team, we need to be open to meetings once in a while earlier in a morning or late at night, to make everything happen. Especially with a 4-day workweek.

So, a renewed sense of, we’re lucky to have this extra freedom but let’s be smart about how we work in order to make 4-day workweeks really work for us as a company and for customers, so we can keep having them.

Ali asked: Has the rate of burnout gone down?

It’s hard to measure, but I believe absolutely, it has. Or rather, 2020 was a year that drove much more burnout than most years and we minimized the amount in part through implementing the 4-day workweek.

Michelle asked: I can always find more to do. Are people self-disciplined enough to really take Friday off and are people good enough at knowing how much they can really get done in a week or do they set goals that are too lofty and usually end up working Fridays?

Great question. I think it’s somewhere in the middle. I genuinely thing most people now take Fridays off. But, we still have big ambitions as a company and so once in a while we need to work a Friday. The real magic is when the Friday off helps you actually get more done.

Luthfur asked: How are you measuring productivity? Put another way, how do you intend to make the decision on whether this is going well or not.

Ultimately, we will make our decision based on whether we achieve our goals as a company. I fundamentally believe though, that the 5-day workweek is a relic of the industrial era and not necessarily the most effective way to work. So I believe we can achieve our goals in 4DWWs.

One of the benefits we have, is that investors do not control our company. We can take longer term stances and decisions, that we believe will lead to great results in time.

If you or your team are trying a 4-day work week send me a tweet to share how it’s going for you, I’d love to hear about it!

https://buffer.com/resources/ama-4-day-workweek/

3 New Ways Facebook is Helping Brands Manage Their Content and Communities

According to Facebook‘s recent State of Small Business Report, more than half (55%) of small businesses say they’re using digital tools to communicate with customers.

On the heels of this research, the platform announced several new tools and features to help businesses connect with their customers online and grow their communities more efficiently.

Building Community

For businesses that already use the new redesigned Facebook Pages experience, originally unveiled this past January, the platform is introducing additional ways to manage your community and find relevant content from other businesses without having to deviate from the app.

More specifically, businesses can engage as their business profile streamlining routine tasks including commenting, posting and liking. Once a user takes the time to check out or hover a particular update or post, they can tap through a new dedicated feed of listings from these Pages that may align with their top interests.

To further help you save time managing your business account, Facebook suggests leveraging the Professional Dashboard that serves as a central hub for all the key tools as well as actionable Page Insights. A final tip – don’t overlook the ability to set task-based permissions to admins to further monitor who has access to your Page.

Upping discovery

“The need for digital business communications and transactions isn’t slowing down, and we’re continuing to build products that meet the evolving needs of people and businesses as they look to do more online,” Facebook shared in the official announcement. In this vein, it’s rolling out a few noteworthy updates emphasizing the quality versus quantity of leads.

A new ‘Conversion Leads’ goal for Lead Ads allows advertisers to optimize for lead and most likely versus pure volume. Put differently, emphasizing functionality of Lead ads as opposed to going for reach alone. You can also integrate your CRM data with Facebook. Per the platform, Lead ads that used Conversion Leads quality optimization saw on average greater than 20 percent increase in lead-to-sale conversion rate compared with existing optimization.

To drive longer-term relationships, Facebook also introduced the option to convert Lead ads form into Messenger templates. As part of the testing phase, Newsome Interactive added Messenger to its lead-generation strategy and saw more than a 13 percent lift in lead volume.

Finally, new ‘Call Ads‘ will enable advertisers to display a ‘Call Now’ CTA button in their ads. This not only allows advertisers to connect with consumers in real time, but also help improve the overall performance of Call ads and lower the cost per call. In testing, Facebook reports observing a greater than 30 percent cost reduction in cost per quality call during the test, compared to running Call Ads with the Link Clicks optimization goal.

Improving the Business Suite: scheduling stories and editing scheduled posts y

Last year, Facebook rolled out Business Suite with the primary goal of taking the headache out of managing their online presence so they could focus purely on establishing meaningful connections.

A recent survey revealed that two out of three users said Business Suite helped them connect with more customers. Following 2020, however, as a growing number of people and businesses focus their efforts online, and with the future leaning heavily towards digital communications and transactions, the platform wants to take these efforts to the next level.

In its latest push, Facebook is focusing on helping brands streamline content creation by planning, and these new features are designed to do just that.

Here’s what’s new:

  • The ability to compose Stories within the app, then schedule them to go live on both Facebook and Instagram. Your scheduled posts will then be displayed on your content calendar within the Business Suite app.
  • The ability to save all Facebook and Instagram posts as drafts, adding even more planning flexibility for your Stories approach.
  • Coming soon: the ability to publish and manage Facebook Photos and Albums from Business Suite by navigating to the “Posts & Stories” tab.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post 3 New Ways Facebook is Helping Brands Manage Their Content and Communities appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2021/04/3-new-ways-facebook-is-helping-brands-manage-their-content-and-communities/

#SMWLA 2021 Preliminary Agenda Is Live!

We’re excited to announce our initial agenda of Main Stage and Academy sessions for the 12th edition of #SMWLA, June 29-July 1.

Secure Your Pass Today and Save Up to $140!

Featuring insights from REVOLVE, PepsiCo, Google, Hulu, Wieden + Kennedy, as well as creators including Hannah Bronfman and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, this year’s program is shaping up to be the best yet and you’ll gain actionable insights into the business of influencer marketing under the umbrella of our annual theme, “Reinvention.”

Take a peek at the new sessions below and don’t wait to register, tomorrow, Friday, April 16th is your last chance to save 40% on your pass.

Disruption, advocacy, and leveraging your brand voice

How to Be a Professional Troublemaker: Fighting Fear with Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Referencing insights from her new book “Professional Troublemaker” join Adweek and Luvvie Ajayi Jones for a conversation unveiling how we can leverage the power of our own voices, personally and professionally, for a greater good and how to drive actions needed to prove the truth of our words in a noisy social media landscape. Learn more.

Turning Passions into Businesses: A Conversation with Hannah Bronfman

Join Adweek in conversation with Hannah Bronfman, founder of HBFIT, as she shares insights and tips learned throughout the evolution of her presence as an advocate and a host, how mommyhood now shapes her views and strategy on social media, and how influencers can make small strides each day to drive positive change in our society from racial injustice to reimagining default standards of “beauty” and “healthy.” Learn more.

The Meme Economy, Building Brands and Catering to the Next-Generation Consumers

The Meme Economy with Reid Hailey

Memes have become one of the most culturally relevant methods for digital communication. Join Doing Things Media Co-founder and CEO, Reid Hailey, to learn how memes are applied to real-time Culturally Relevant Marketing (the new CRM) and how top meme creators (@Shitheadsteve, @Middle Class Fancy, etc.) produce branded content that capitalizes on real-time trends. Learn more.

Building Brands at the Speed of Culture

Join James Andrews, founder of Authenticated Ventures, as he addresses key questions as we navigate this next chapter including If culture is defined by where consumers are paying attention, what are you paying attention to? If authenticity is measured by credibility, how do you know when you are respecting or disrespecting the genres and sub genres? If we have now moved into a fractured and confusing media landscape, how do you know if you have the right personnel on the team with the right skill sets? Learn more.

How REVOLVE Caters to the Next-Generation Consumer

In this session, REVOLVE Chief Brand Officer, Raissa Gerona will explore how REVOLVE is approaching the business of influencer marketing, how they pivot their strategies as the space continues to evolve, and tips for ensuring partnerships move the needle and foster long-term loyalty. Learn more.

Academies: Cultural relevancy, collaborations, and “influence culture”

(Re)volution of Rockstar Energy Drink

2021 has been a year of reinvention and revolution for Rockstar Energy. It launched its first-ever TV commercial during the pre-kick off at the Super Bowl with Lil Baby and shortly thereafter announced a huge partnership with 100 Thieves. Hear from Gabe Alonso, PepsiCo’s Head of Digital Platforms and Community as he explores how the brand is developing key influencer partnerships to drive cultural relevancy and rebuild its brand equity with a new generation of energy drinkers. Learn more. 

“Influence Culture”: The Reinvention of Word of Mouth Marketing via Social Media

Join Hulu’s Head of Brand Social, Tatiana Holifield, to unpack this cultural phenomenon and learn practical ways to reinvent your influencer marketing strategy with credibility and authenticity. You’ll learn how word of mouth marketing creates a halo effect that drives Earned Media, why an Active Listening strategy is integral to mastering ‘Influence Culture,’ and what key forces and consumer dynamics are behind today’s hyper-competitive marketing landscape. Learn more. 

How Google is Evaluating the Return on Influencer Marketing

Join Google’s Global Influencer Marketing Lead, Tobias Rauscher, as he shares how he and his team managed to elevate influencer work to be a part of the broader marketing mix. He’ll also debunk commons myths around measurement frameworks and selling impressions and likes as impact. You’ll learn how to prove the return of influencer marketing and compare effectiveness across the marketing mix, how to think of vanity metrics vs. brand lift and how to think of long-form vs. short-form. Learn more. 

Passing the Pen: The Importance of Collaboration in Brand Partnerships

In this session, join Wieden+Kennedy’s Head of Social, John Petty III, and explore what modern brand partnerships need to look like to succeed in internet culture. You’ll learn how to identify the right collaborations and partnerships for your brand, the essential factors behind creating the best brand partnerships and how to make cultural waves and authentically engage your audience. Learn more.

The post #SMWLA 2021 Preliminary Agenda Is Live! appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2021/04/smwla-2021-preliminary-agenda-is-live/

Mike Armstrong is looking forward to attending, speaking at and teaching at this event today – #MikeArmstrong

USA Networking

Happy Tuesday Friends!

Please register here before 4pm UK time today.

Join Mike Armstrong #MIkeArmstrong a.k.a the #WelshDragon on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 11 am – 1:00 pm Eastern Time Zone (4pm to 6pm GMT) for a SPECIAL show of Networking plus the Singer and Actor Showcase.

THE LINK TO REGISTER TO SHARE WITH FRIENDS IS:  https://bit.ly/BlancaLawsofLife

THE FACEBOOK LINK TO SHARE IS: https://www.facebook.com/events/445495100086568

THE INSTAGRAM STORY TO SHARE IS:  https://www.instagram.com/p/CNkts8IL8O1/

THE LINK FOR FULL AGENDA (PLUS FREE LEARNING SCHEDULE) AND TO APPLY TO BE IN SHOWCASE IS:  https://bit.ly/3uCnNbV

THE PRESS RELEASE IS:  https://bit.ly/LawsofLifePressRelease

THE LINK TO OUR ONLINE MAGAZINE:  https://www.flipsnack.com/F5B6786D75E/online-news-magazine-xp86p9mzhm.html

 

INVITE FRIENDS.

NETWORK.

ENJOY THE SINGER SHOWCASE TOMORROW

HAVE YOUR PITCH READY!

Mingle in Breakout Rooms, Have a one on one

Join the Room of your Choice!

            BLANCA HOST – Led by Blanca to discuss webcasting, podcasting or business strategy

          LOVE HOST – Led by Mother Daughter Dynamic Duo Coach Rochelle Schwartz and Alisha Schwartz

HEALTH HOST – Led by Marc Siegel (Also Judging the Competition)

          REAL ESTATE HOST- Led by Sunny Arfa

          LIFE HOST – Led by Samantha Foster, The Lifehouse Project

          CRYPTO HOST – Led by Alan Hagel and David Shafman

 

GUEST HOST OF THE DAY: SKYLINE SKYLINE AND MARC SIEGEL

GUEST OF THE DAY: Sho-Time.  Read last week’s article about Sho-Time!  http://bit.ly/Shotimerocks

 

DIAMOND SPONSOR:  MARECKI & MEDOLLA, YOUR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY PUTTING COMMUNITY FIRST.  Mylegaladvocate.com or call them at 561-847-2868 if you have a personal injury and need their help.

 

SPONSORS FOR WINNERS OF SHOWCASE:

 

Guest of Honor and Gift Sponsor @shotimetv

Judge & Speaker @christiansantamaria + 60 minute marketing coaching sesh with Blanca

Radio Interview with @EliDapson

Radio Interview with @Osodiva

Magazine Interview with Authority Magazine

Magazine Interview with Medium Blog

Magazine Interview with Natalee Federal

Beat Gift Sponsor @farikoondatrack

Video Edit Sponsor @jordansantamarianyc

Shirt Giveaway Sponsor @SchebereNewYork

CBD Gummy Gift @quantumperformancecbd

Renu28 Anti-aging and pain gift @the_real_bionic_woman & @Gilat Khorsandi and Stacy Rosman

Glamour Face Mask gift @SOULsticesky

Laws of Life is giving an interview on IG, Magazine feature in THE LOOP and more. Visit www.lawsoflife.shop

 

LAWS OF LIFE LEARNING TEACHERS ON TUESDAY:

 

Christian Santamaria – Marketing for Singers and Actors and “Creatives” (1:30 – 2:00 pm)

Mike Armstrong – SEO Strategies (2:00 pm – 3:00 pm) #MikeArmstrong

Lizeth Alvarado – Instagram (3:00 pm – 4:00 pm)

Blanca – How to Utilize Social Media to Promote a Special Event (4:00 pm – 5:00 pm)

 

Remember to RESERVE Thursday, April 15, 2021  from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm for Marc Siegel’s Networking Group and join his Spectacular Small Business Facebook group if you have not done so yet!     https://www.facebook.com/groups/2970532012980880

Thank very much in advance for your attendance and for your kindness and friendship.

Blanca

Host

Laws of Life Network

561-543-9040

www.lawsoflife.shop

Published by Mike Armstrong a.k.a the #WelshDragon – https://linktr.ee/mikearmstrong

#MikeArmstrong the #WelshDragon

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Introducing the First Wave of Speakers for #SMWLA 2021

We’re excited to introduce the first round of leaders who will bring our 2021 theme, “Reinvention,” to life at the 12th edition of #SMWLA taking place June 29 – July 1.

Featuring insights from REVOLVE, PepsiCo, Google, Hulu, Wieden + Kennedy, and creators including Hannah Bronfman and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, gain actionable insights into the business of influencer marketing under the umbrella of our annual theme.

Register today so you don’t miss out any agenda updates in the coming weeks and save 40 percent on your pass when you register before Friday, April 16th.

Creators

 

Hannah Bronfman

Hannah Brongman

Author, Founder of HBFIT, Activist & DJ

Hannah Bronfman is the Founder of HBFIT, a unique destination for all things Health, Beauty + Fitness, a DJ, author of the book “Do What Feels Good,” and entrepreneur. On social media, she inspires her followers to embody a life of health and wellness by sharing her workout regimens and favorite homemade recipes. She is a vocal advocate for social and racial justice. Beginning in June 2020, Hannah began posting “History with Hannah” videos to her IGTV where she tackled voting rights, civil rights history, and the contributions that Black artists and chefs have made to American culture.

 

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Luvvie Ajayi Jones

New York Times Best-selling Author and Podcaster, “Professional Troublemaker”

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is an award-winning author, speaker and podcast host. Her books include New York Times bestsellers I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual. Her podcasts “Professional Troublemaker” and “Jesus and Jollof,” tackle culture with both humor and criticism with an underlying aim of making people laugh, think, face their fears and use their voice for the greater good. Luvvie is also the co-founder of the #SharetheMicNow global movement.

 

Building brands

 

Raissa Gerona

Raissa Gerona

Chief Brand Officer, REVOLVE

Raissa Gerona is the Chief Brand Officer of REVOLVE and Co-Founder of Alliance Apparel, which REVOLVE acquired in 2014. In her role, she leads the brand’s strategy at the forefront of marketing to connect with the next-generation consumer through social media and experiential events. In support of this, Raissa oversees brand marketing for more than 20 REVOLVE-owned brands in addition to the company’s owned brand collaborations. These involve global lifestyle influencers such as Chrissy Teigen, Nicole Richie, Aimee Song, and Camila Coelho.

 

Ben Trinh

Ben Trinh

Global Head of Entertainment and Cultural Marketing, Uber

Ben Trinh is the Global Head of Entertainment and Cultural Marketing at Uber. Previously, he served as the entertainment and influencer marketing arm of Postmates, leading successful campaigns which featured John Legend, Chance the Rapper and Billie Eilish. Prior to Postmates, Ben spent several years at Lyft as a city launcher and then Head of Influencer Marketing. Earlier in his career, he led his own agency, Bredfor, which also focused on influencer marketing and served as a foundation for his current role. In his spare time, Ben is also an investor and advisor as well as the host of the celebrity featured podcast, “First and Featured.”

 

Gabe Alonso

Gabe Alonso

Head of Digital Platforms and Community – Energy Drinks, PepsiCo

Gabe Alonso is a seasoned digital strategist, with experience across multiple marketing disciplines spanning digital products, social media, and CRM. In his current role, he spearheads digital Platforms and community for the Energy Drink portfolio at PepsiCo. Previously, he served as industry-defining brands like Activision and Nike, where he drove best-in-class digital storytelling across platforms with an obsessive focus on the consumer. These roles included Global Director, CRM Strategy and 1:1 Marketing and Global Director, Member Programs. In his free time, you can catch Gabe hitting milestones on his Peloton.

 

John “JP” Petty, III

Head of Social, Wieden + Kennedy New York

John Petty, III — “JP” — leads engagement strategy development for the likes of McDonald’s, Bud Light, Ford, Heinz, and Delta at Wieden + Kennedy New York. Prior to his current role, he spent five and half years at advertising agency, Translation. In November of 2017, he was instrumental in launching artist services company, UnitedMasters. He is a hip-hop and sports fanatic well-versed in project management and data analysis, a mix that allows him to combine a connection to culture with a methodical, data-driven approach.

 

James Andrews

Founder, Authenticated Ventures

John Petty, III — “JP” — leads engagement strategy development for the likes of McDonald’s, Bud Light, Ford, Heinz, and Delta at Wieden + Kennedy New York. Prior to his current role, he spent five and half years at advertising agency, Translation. In November of 2017, he was instrumental in launching artist services company, UnitedMasters. He is a hip-hop and sports fanatic well-versed in project management and data analysis, a mix that allows him to combine a connection to culture with a methodical, data-driven approach.

 

Reid Hailey

Head of Social, Wieden + Kennedy New York

Reid Hailey is the CEO and Co-Founder of Doing Things Mediam a digital content and entertainment company that houses the fastest growing library of viral videos on the internet. Under Reid’s leadership, Doing Things owns and operates over 25 of the most culturally relevant brands on social media including ShitheadSteve, NeatDad, AnimalsDoingThings, MiddleClassFancy, DoggosDoingThings, GamersDoingThings, and NoChaser. Since 2017, the company has doubled in size every year, organically garnering an audience of more than 60M followers across social platforms that consume more than 1B videos monthly.

 

Platform leaders

 

Tatiana Holifield

Tatiana Holifield

Head of Social, Hulu

Tatiana Holifield is a seasoned marketing executive with 15 years of experience in media, sports, and entertainment, As Head of Brand Social for Hulu, she leads the streaming giant’s social media marketing strategy to drive earned media and brand awareness. Her unique ability to lead high-performing teams, reach Millennial & Gen Z audiences, and elevate legacy brands through digital innovation has named her one of the industry’s top change agents. Prior to her current role, Holifield was the Vice President/Head of Digital Strategy for Pacers Sports & Entertainment where she one of the Pacers’ highest-ranking women in leadership.

 

Tobias Rauscher

Global Influencer Marketing Lead, Google

Tobias Rauscher is the founding member of Google’s social media team, the Social Lab, and Influencer Marketing Lead where he oversees more than 80 collaborations with social media influencers and YouTube creators to meet marketing objectives. Prior to this role, he served as Social Media Marketing Lead where he drove Google’s global social team, creative excellence, and innovation partnerships across over 100 teams including Google Assistant, Google Maps, and Pixel. In addition to starting #teampixel he built the first social network at the age of 14.

 

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2021 Pay Analysis: How We’ve Lowered Our Gender Pay Gap From 15% to 5.5%

2021 Pay Analysis: How We’ve Lowered Our Gender Pay Gap From 15% to 5.5%

Buffer has been built on the belief that transparency builds trust, holds us accountable, and can push our industry forward. Our salaries have been transparent since 2013, and for the fifth year in a row, we’re sharing our transparent pay analysis. In this report, we share the difference between what men and women earn at Buffer.

We have come a long way in the last five years. Far from the ratio of 70 percent men and 30 percent women on the team when I first wrote this report, this year, we are close to 50/50. And at the time of this report, our leadership team is eight people, five of whom are women.

Here are all of our numbers from our 2021 pay analysis, along with more on the positive impact that transparency has had on the gender pay gap for us.

2021 Pay Analysis

Here’s what the unadjusted gender pay gap looks like at Buffer as of March 2021:  

Buffer team: 83 people
Women: 39
Men: 44

Average salary for women: $123,707
Average salary for men: $131,923
Unadjusted percentage gap: 5.46%

Note: We specify an unadjusted pay gap as we are comparing earnings between all men and all women at Buffer, regardless of their role or experience level. An adjusted pay gap would be the earning gap between people who perform similar roles. We have no adjusted pay gap at Buffer as we use a salary formula for all of our salaries.

About the numbers

For the second year in a row, our gap has gone down, and this year it went down significantly compared to last year.

We’ve been tracking the unadjusted gender pay gap at Buffer monthly since 2019. Here, you can see our progress over the last year, where the gap has gradually gone from 12.5 percent down to 5.5 percent.

2021 Pay Analysis: How We’ve Lowered Our Gender Pay Gap From 15% to 5.5%

Compared to previous years
Here’s a comparison of all of the years we’ve been running this pay analysis. You can also read each full report at the following links: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017.

2021 Pay Analysis: How We’ve Lowered Our Gender Pay Gap From 15% to 5.5%
2021 Pay Analysis: How We’ve Lowered Our Gender Pay Gap From 15% to 5.5%

Our gender pay gap has gone down from 15% to 5% in the last two years — how did that happen?

We’ve been paying close attention to the gender wage gap at Buffer since we first started sharing transparent pay analyses, and we’ve been committed to lowering our gap.

Transparency has been a critical factor in lowering our gender wage gap.

There have been many small shifts we’ve made along the way, but the most significant factor for us has been transparency. We believe that transparency creates accountability, and it’s clear from our example that transparency can have a powerful impact on closing the gender wage gap.

Transparency led to more learning.

Through being transparent, we’ve learned more about the gender pay gap and have been able to keep making changes and adjustments every year. In 2017, when we first ran the report, we didn’t know much about equal pay. We also had a smaller team size with fewer women and later realized that having one high-earning woman on the team made our gap lower in 2017, so our report wasn’t an accurate reflection of the year for us.

In 2019, we had our highest yet gender pay gap — 15 percent —, and that came the year that we also increased the number of women on our team.
The correlation we saw is that when we hired more women, and it made our gap larger because in some cases, those women may have been at lower experience levels, but over the years, we’ve seen that gap slowly decrease as having more women on the team led to more women getting promoted and earning more overall.

Transparency brought more attention to making this change.

The act of reporting the gender wage gap every year has also brought more teams together to focus on how we can improve equal pay at Buffer. It’s not fun to publish a report showing that our gender wage gap is getting worse every year, and several teams have been highly motivated to improve this number.

Our Finance team started tracking gender pay data monthly instead of annually, and it gave us a clearer picture of the impact that new hires and departures have on our overall gap.

Our People team also played a huge role in diversifying our hiring pipeline over the years to bring on more women in higher-earning positions. Our People team’s work is especially impressive considering that as a long-term focused company, we aren’t growing our team considerably year-over-year. Our team size was 72 teammates in 2017 and is 83 teammates now.

The ratio of men and women at Buffer has improved significantly.

When we first started reporting on equal pay, we were 70 percent men and 30 percent women at Buffer. That meant that any change to the women at Buffer had a significant impact on this number, and it was much more likely to fluctuate when women joined or left Buffer.
Since then, our gender split has become nearly 50/50 with 44 men and 39 women on the team, and at the time of this report, our leadership team at Buffer is eight people, five of whom are women.

We’re confident about this positive downwards trend.

Now, we can safely say that our five percent gap isn’t a result of one high-earning person on the Buffer team. This consistent decrease of our gap over the last two years is a result of many areas of work, and it isn’t going to change drastically in one month.

What’s next for equal pay at Buffer?

We’re proud that our gender pay gap is at 5.5 percent, much lower than the industry average. We’ll continue doing everything we’re doing and closely watching our gender pay gap throughout the year. We’ll continue working towards no unadjusted gender pay gap and focusing on diversity overall in our hiring. We’re also hoping that our journey can help others looking to tackle the gender wage gap.

If you know of other companies sharing their gender wage gap publicly, or if you’d like to share yours publicly, please reach out. We’d be happy to chat!

Want to work at a company with pay transparency? We’re hiring, check out our open roles!

https://buffer.com/resources/2021-pay-analysis/

How We Decide What To Pay Our Team: Our Salary Formula and Compensation Philosophy

How We Decide What To Pay Our Team: Our Salary Formula and Compensation Philosophy

Compensation is an important topic at any company. At a company like Buffer, where our salaries have been transparent since 2013, compensation is a transparent internal discussion where the whole Buffer team can share thoughts and feedback.

A lot has changed in our salary formula over the past few years. We took a very simple formula and made it more accurate to the labor market, and most recently, we’ve been focused on improving our formula to make it a true benchmark for a remote-first world.

In this post, we’ll share an overview of our compensation philosophy and a simple explanation of our salary formula. Transparency is an incredibly powerful tool, and we hope that sharing our approach to compensation can help others who are currently navigating this space.

How we think about compensation

Our approach to compensation has evolved over the years, and our salary formulas have taken various forms, but a few fundamental pillars of our overall compensation philosophy haven’t changed.

Ultimately, we view compensation and benefits as the set of tools that empower our teammates to bring their best to Buffer so that we can share that same generosity in service of our customers. We want every single customer interaction to be a delightful experience. By ensuring our team members are fulfilled and engaged with their work, we can build the solutions and tools that support our customers to achieve success and fulfillment in their personal and work lives.

These key principles guide all the decisions we make about our team’s compensation and benefits:

Transparency: We openly share our approach and all salaries to create trust, hold ourselves accountable, and serve as a resource for the industry.

Simplicity: We aim to maintain an easy-to-understand formula that allows anyone to easily see how we arrive at any individual salary.

Fairness: We ensure that those with the same role and responsibilities who are at the same experience level are paid equitably.

Generosity: We pay above market to attract the team we need, thrive as individuals, and avoid exceptions and inequity resulting from negotiation.

Our salary formula

Every base salary at Buffer is derived from our salary formula. The formulaic approach minimizes biased decisions about compensation. This has been a valuable tool to ensure our awareness of any gender wage gap since our salary formula is rooted in objective market factors applied consistently across the team. Read our latest pay analysis for more insights into equal pay at Buffer.

Our formula is your role x cost of living = your salary.

How we determine role compensation

We benchmark each role to data from Radford, a platform that gathers compensation and benefits data from companies participating in global surveys twice per year. The role benchmark is based on the software industry and the 50th percentile of San Francisco market data. We selected San Francisco as a part of our principle of generosity as it is a competitive labor market.

How we apply cost of living

After we’ve benchmarked for position and experience level, we multiply by a cost of living factor that objectively considers one of four geographical areas in comparison to San Francisco’s cost of living and property price index.

High cost of living
100% of the San Francisco market = multiply by 1.
Examples: San Francisco, CA & New York, NY

Intermediate cost of living
90% of the San Francisco market, multiply by 0.90
Examples: Singapore & Sydney, Australia

Average cost of living
85% of the San Francisco market, multiply by 0.85
Examples: Boulder, CO & Madrid, Spain

Low cost of living
75% of the San Francisco market, multiple by 0.75
Examples: Bangalore, India & Wroclaw, Poland

These cost of living multipliers take into account being a global team while closing the gap found in traditional compensation approaches.

To see this formula in action, check out our Salaries page with the whole Buffer team’s transparent salaries.

The future of our salary formula

For the past few years, we’ve had the goal to further simplify our formula and do away with the cost of living consideration as a component of the formula. In practice, this would mean we’d eliminate the low, average, and intermediate bands to pay everyone at the same level of San Francisco market salaries.

The result of this shift would be a $1.2 Million increase in operating expenses based on the team we have today (March 2021).  While this change remains a consideration, we’ve deliberately set a goal to do this incrementally rather than all at once. Investing in our team is important, though we must weigh trade-offs, and in this season for Buffer, we believe that expanding our team size is more in line with serving our customer’s needs.  

Meanwhile, we’re also seeing market shifts that are bound to impact global compensation. With more companies embracing remote work, access to talent is no longer dependent on the local talent pool. You don’t need to live in Silicon Valley or New York City to work for companies headquartered in those areas. You also don’t need to headquarter in those cities to access top talent! While we’ve never looked only at local market to benchmark our salaries, we recognize that cost of living will likely become more and more irrelevant as part of the movement towards supporting a global workforce.  

Want to work on a team that has transparent salaries? Check out our current job openings here.

https://buffer.com/resources/compensation-philosophy/

How Facebook is Diversifying Monetization Options for Creators

Per new Facebook reports, fom 2019 to 2020, the number of content creators earning the equivalent of $10,000 per month grew 88 percent and content creators earning $1,000 per month grew a whopping 94 percent.

To further support its bustling community of creators, the platform recently unveiled several new updates and features to help them diversify their revenue options whether it’s a primary business or a side hustle. Here’s a recap of what’s new.

  • Earn revenue from short-form video: Content creators can monetize all video types and testing sticker ads in Stories.
  • Opening monetization to more content creators: Facebook is expanding in-stream ad eligibility allowing more video creators access to the program. In addition, Facebook is opening up in-stream ads for Live and expanding paid online events and fan subscriptions to more countries.
  • Accelerating fan support: Content creators have easy access to fan support while growing consumer adoption via free Stars giveaways to viewers.

Diversifying reach through short-form video

Looking to the expanding format of short-form video — Facebook revealed that creators will now be able to earn money from videos as short as one minute long, “with a minimally interruptive ad running at 30 seconds.” For reference, in the past creators and brands could only monetize with in-stream ads of videos three-minutes or longer with the ad itself shown no earlier than 1 minute.

In the announcement written by Facebook’s Director of App Monetization, Yoav Arnstein, explained the growth trajectory of in-stream adds across video partners of all sizes – with ad payouts increasing over 55 percent from 2019 to 2020 alone.

“We’ll begin testing the ability for content creators to monetize their Facebook Stories with ads that look like stickers and receive a portion of the resulting revenue,” Arnstein explained. The broader goal is to further the development of these in-stream ad formats that lend to diverse, engaging experiences amongst relevant audiences though rewards or product interactions.

With this, the company unveiled updated eligibility criteria for those who quality for monetization. These include:

  • 600,000 total minutes viewed from any combination of video uploads – on-demand, Live and previously Live – in the last 60 days.
  • Five or more active video uploads or previously Live videos. Videos must be published, not deleted, and compliant with our Content Monetization Policies.

Driving revenue through Live with Stars

Live is another key area of focus for Facebook. As part of the push, the platform is delivering new live video monetization options to a previously invite-only program. More specifically, those looking to add in-stream ads in their live broadcasts will need to have 60,000 Live minutes viewed in the last 60 days. Aside from in-stream ads for Live, the company is boosting awareness of its Stars gift-giving program. Per the announcement, over the past six months people sent video and gaming creators an average of 1 billion Stars per month, equal to $10 million per month.

“During certain Star-enabled livestreams, some people will see an offer to claim free Stars that they can send at their discretion to their favorite content creators to boost their visibility and connection with the creator and add to the creators’ earnings,” said Arnstein.
While Stars lends itself primarily to the Live format, Facebook is experimenting with Stars across different formats including a new test of Stars for video-on-demand and Stars options for short-form video clips.

Bringing fan subscriptions and paid online events into more regions

2020 was a testament to the power of digital in bringing people together. From sporting events, cooking classes, Live podcast recordings, virtual tours, make-up tutorial and more, brand and creators continue to expand the scope of how they connect with new and larger audiences and monetize their efforts. To continue the momentum, Facebook is bringing paid online events to an additional 24 countries including Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Ireland.

Similarly, Facebook is also expanding its fan subscription feature. To date, there are over 1 million active fan subscriptions to content creators on Facebook and paid online events are in 20 countries. The fan subscription feature is currently in more than 25 markets and, with a new push, will made available an additional 10 countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

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3 Ways Gen-Z is Empowering a Digital Economy

In partnership with Oxford Economics, Snapchat recently set out to explore the role of Gen Z in driving the post-pandemic recovery, digital economy, and their impact in marketing efforts and what this means for the industry at large.

We’ll take a closer look at some of the themes and trends unveiled by the findings, but amongst the key pieces of information in the report include:

  • Gen Z will support $3.1 trillion of spending by 2030 across six key markets studied: Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States
  • The global AR market is projected to expand four-fold by 2023
  • Technology and COVID-19 are set to transform skills demand, with the majority of jobs to require advanced digital skills
  • A greater emphasis for the future workforce will be put on skills such as agility, curiosity, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving playing into Gen Z’s natural strengths

Gen-Z: the engines of consumer spending

Gen Z is set to emerge as an independent and powerful source of consumer spending. While most of this cohort are on the periphery of the labor market given their age, this is set to change drastically in the coming years. Specifically, their consumer spending will increase more than six-fold, from $467 billion in 2019 to $3 trillion in 2030, equivalent to 11 percent of total household spending. Further, Gen Z’s share of total employment will rise noticeably from a mere 10 percent in 2019 to 30 percent in 2030.

Beyond digital competence, Snapchat highlighted several key characteristics that will set Gen Z-ers up for success in workforce. These include agility through absorbing information quickly and responding to new challenges with an open and innovative mindset. They’re also more creative and compared to their older cohorts and very curious to engage in forms of communication and content creation including AR, emojis, lenses and filters.

The evolving AR market

It’s no secret that COVID-19 will act as a significant disruptor, accelerating shifts towards a more digital society and fundamental changes that will transform our world of work.

One of the fastest-growing technologies many have their eyes on is AR. Outlined in Snapchat’s report, it is estimated that the global AR market revenue nearly quadrupled between 2018 and 2020. The next three years are expected to be marked by a similar trend with estimates projecting a 10x increase by 2023 from 2018. Stats aside, what is key to note is that AR’s characteristics pave the path for a significant demand in digital skills comparable to that seen in 2010 with the rise of social media platforms.

Allowing new forms of expression, entertainment, utility and information-gathering it is not only essential to how brands attract attention and connect emotionally at scale, but the technology is facilitating immersive experiences that are redefining retail and online beauty. According to research by Shopify, interactions with AR/3D garnered nearly 94 percent more conversion to sales compared to non-AR channels. Outside of marketing and e-commerce AR will continue to transform how we experience healthcare, education, architecture, entertainment and manufacturing.

The future of learning and re-skilling for a dynamic workforce

While the disruption to formal education amongst Gen Z is a key concern following 2020, the impact on their labor market prospects remains uncertain. To put the rise of online learning into context, platforms such as Coursera and edX enrolled over 180 million students in courses in 2020, up by 1,000 percent compared to five years earlier. As we face increased reliance on remote working, Snapchat’s analysis points to Gen Z’s higher digital competence as largely supportive to their adaptation to this new way of working.

Additionally, in common with all recessions, the pandemic is set to accelerate a new wave of automation driving demand for creativity and curiosity in the workplace—two of the inherent traits of Gen Z mentioned earlier. With this, the increased importance of lifelong learning is set to rise with workers required to adapt to more rapidly evolving demands. This involves picking up new technologies and software to spur new ways of doing business, respond to the structural changes and challenges, and re-skill in a dynamic workforce that will set the tone for the 2020s.

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The post 3 Ways Gen-Z is Empowering a Digital Economy appeared first on Social Media Week.

http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2021/03/3-ways-gen-z-is-empowering-a-digital-economy/

How The Clubhouse Phenomenon Could be Utilized as a Marketing Strategy

If you don’t happen to be familiar with the unique audio-based social network, Clubhouse, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many haven’t had the chance to use it because they’re either not on an iOS device or they haven’t received an invite. However, it’s likely that marketers will soon wake up en masse to the potential of this platform as a unique opportunity to win new leads and leverage fresh conversions for their business. 

Despite launching in May 2020, by the end of the year Clubhouse was enjoying having over 600,000 registered users, despite a lack of presence on Android devices and online. 

Clunhouse User Growth

(Image: Backlinko)

As we can see, in early 2021 Clubhouse downloads have spiraled past six million thanks in no small part to Elon Musk’s advocacy of the platform. The growth of Clubhouse appears set to continue to spiral due to the network’s unique invite-only framework, where users are unable to simply sign up to the app without first receiving a user invitation. 

Clubhouse non-us markets

(Image: Backlinko)

While the vast majority of Clubhouse users are based in the US, the market is expanding rapidly across Germany, Japan, and the UK. Other English-speaking nations like Canada and Australia are experiencing an increasing number of downloads while Turkey’s relatively young population is among another significant nation of large early adopters. 

But what actually is this new social media network that’s spent the past year steadily embarking towards global domination? And why could Clubhouse provide marketers with a golden opportunity to connect with their audience in a brand new way? Let’s look at how Clubhouse can be utilized as a marketing strategy:

What is Clubhouse

Clubhouse is a social audio chat app where users have the ability to tune into interviews, conversations, and discussions between people on various topics. Think of the platform as a podcast, or a streaming service like Twitch, only the content is live audio. Once the discussion has finished, the content is gone and there are no recordings available afterward. 

For the time being, only existing users are capable of inviting others. This means that to sign up, users will need to know somebody who has already registered to the platform themselves to get in. Meanwhile, anybody can download the app on iOS to reserve a username – and then it’s a case of waiting to get an invite to dive in. 

The reason behind this rather unique approach to Clubhouse stems from the fact that the creators are still developing the platform and working to develop safety features and guidelines ready for more broad adoption. When the app can handle large audiences, plans are in place to open it up for everyone to use. 

This closed-circuit release of Clubhouse may have inadvertently – or indeed deliberately – become an excellent marketing ploy by its creators. The scarcity of invites has created a buzz around the app that may not have existed to the same extent if everybody had the chance to join in and eavesdrop on conversations from the word ‘go’. 

Furthermore, a number of factors like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the sustained popularity of podcasts, the free time that remote work has generated and general widespread video fatigue appear to have combined to make Clubhouse the ideal social app at the ideal time. 

Ray Wang, Constellation Research principal analyst and founder described Clubhouse as “the modern version of AM talk radio democratizing a digital society. The other unwritten part of the business model is a way to reward content creators with a new platform.”

Clubhouse taps into the popularity of podcasts while allowing users to multitask as they engage in the app. Unlike with copy and video, listeners to audio can do tasks like exercising, cleaning, or checking our inboxes as we hear the individuals we follow talk live. 

The Potential That Clubhouse Holds for Marketers

So, what makes Clubhouse a great fit for brands? The answer to this depends on your business, and what you’re looking to achieve from your campaigns. 

At the moment, Clubhouse has displayed significant potential for boosting users as thought leaders and expanding audiences within their respective niche. 

In terms of use cases, it’s been reported that some attorneys have already been able to find new clients via Clubhouse by using the platform as an opportunity to share their expertise and demonstrate their value to followers within dedicated rooms – while some brands have even begun sponsoring discussions on the app and sharing business insights in rooms of their own. 

This appears to be the most significant benefit for brands. The platform is a hub for sharing knowledge and insight through the means of various discussions that can build on community connections. These demonstrators of value could hold significant value too with Clubhouse rooms currently seeing high levels of engaged, active users. 

As a marketer, you could ensure that your brand sparks the right topic of discussion and use it to draw in a refined and engaged audience – helping, in turn, to boost your presence and maximize audience reach. 

How to Run Campaigns on Clubhouse

While it’s reasonable to expect Clubhouse to introduce some form of advertising opportunities for businesses in the near future as the app grows, there’s real value in creating your own campaigns that are geared towards demonstrating expertise and engaging with a new audience. 

By using Clubhouse to set up a room of your own, you can use the app to grow your own community of followers who are interested in your business’ content and thus more likely to act on their interest and make a purchase. To get started on Clubhouse – assuming that you’ve managed to access an invite – here’s a step-by-step guide to building your own room:

1. Find People, Rooms, and Clubs to Follow

 

 

Start a room

(Image: Social Media Examiner)

One of the most significant things you can do as a marketer on Clubhouse is to be strategic with who and what you follow. Following too many random accounts can lead you to have access to too many rooms that you’re not interested in. Take care in who you follow – the hallway will generally show you only rooms that match your perceived interests. 

2. Begin Building a Vibrant Network of Users

 

 

Network

(Image: Social Media Examiner)

When you enter rooms, you’ll see a breakdown of the individuals around you. The people in the room are broken down into three categories. Firstly, you’ll have the stage which consists of those speaking to the audience. Then, there’s the front row. The front row consists of the individuals in attendance who the speakers themselves follow. Finally, the third section is the audience. 

When you click on the people on the stage and the front row, you can access information about them. This can help you to determine who to follow and how you can build your connections within the app. 

3. Optimize Your Portfolio to Build a Following

Your Clubhouse bio is where you can tell your audience exactly what you want to be known for. What you include in your bio will play a key role in how people find you in the member directory, so be sure to use a healthy array of keywording to get you noticed. 

Rather than a traditional online bio, invest time in creating an extended informational bio, and don’t be afraid to include emojis. Here, you want to stand out. Mention where you work, your title, content channels, and social profiles – as well as any clubs you’ve already launched. 

To build a following, enter rooms that are relevant to your industry and get to know the people who regularly visit them. As you get more active and show up more, the people who host those rooms could invite you to come on stage where your audience will notice you. The more time you get on stage, the more followers you’ll attract

Don’t waste time when you’re talking. Don’t introduce yourself or your field of work, or even your business. Simply ask or answer a question clearly and succinctly and offer value based on your expertise alone. When you effectively engage with your audience, they’ll feel compelled to click on your bio and read more about yourself and your business. 

4. Begin Hosting Your Own Rooms on Your Terms

 

 

Host

(Image: Good Housekeeping)

When you create a room, you automatically become a moderator for that room. As a moderator, you can control who comes up on stage, who gets muted, and who can join you in the role of moderator. 

Here, your goal is to bring order to the room and anticipate what the audience wants and needs. Sometimes that could mean taking a short break, where you can ask your audience to give moderators a follow. When the audio content resumes, you can even suggest listeners ping their contemporaries into the room to listen along. 

Having your own room means that you get to curate your content. You can invite your business’ industry experts to the stage in a bid to demonstrate why their knowledge can be a vital component in earning clients money, or you can tap into the diverse qualities of Clubhouse’s global audience by including voices from all around the world. 

New event

(Image: WikiHow)

To start a room, all you need to do is to create an event and schedule it. There are two caveats to creating your room that need to be addressed. Firstly, it’s important to ensure that you’ve networked enough to begin drawing an audience into your room. Preaching to an empty room can be a waste of valuable time spent on campaigns elsewhere. 

It’s also key to ensure that your room is scheduled well enough in advance and at a convenient time that doesn’t clash with any competitor discussions that could take your audience away from you. 

Building a Vibrant Community With Clubhouse

The explosion of Clubhouse onto the social media scene has come at a time when users are looking to favor companies with authentic and trustworthy branding rather than corporate giants with decades of accumulated brand loyalty. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a time of deep financial uncertainty and a steady stream of news events. In this era, consumers want to find confidence in brands that appear to share the values of their consumers. In creating live, uncensored and unscripted rooms through Clubhouse, your brand has the chance to demonstrate genuine value while offering users the chance to benefit from your expertise for free. 

HubSpot’s social media community manager, Krystal Wu explained that “Clubhouse offers a lot of opportunities for connection with celebrities, a vast variety of people in different industries, and even close friends. It opens the door for live conversations allowing people to be vulnerable within a community space. This type of connection is unique to deliver audio content with small to large groups of people. Its unscripted content that anyone can be a part of.”

By setting up rooms to discuss your industry and your brand’s position and potential to deliver leading service, it’s possible to win dedicated fans and followers who are more likely to reward your willingness to share your knowledge by choosing your business to make a purchase. 

As marketers utilize this early and largely untapped market, it’s vital to bring in analytics platforms to observe your progress. Insights provided by Google Analytics and Finteza can map how audiences receive your Clubhouse content and use it to inform their purchasing decisions. You can build a custom funnel that will show you exactly how visitors from Clubhouse navigate and behave on your website, how many of them convert and where they exit. 

Conversion funnel

Through studying the flow of traffic and subsequent conversions, you can make informed decisions on how to approach the market and how much time to commit to the app. 

Brands that use Clubhouse have a brand new opportunity to earn credibility by discussing topics that they’re experts on. However, they could also earn greater trust because they’ve made themselves available to listen and talk candidly with their audiences. 

This level of trust-building with potential customers is a chance that shouldn’t go begging in the value-driven climate of 2021.

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The post How The Clubhouse Phenomenon Could be Utilized as a Marketing Strategy appeared first on Social Media Week.

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Inside Our Engineering Mentorship Program and How It Helps Our Engineers Grow

Inside Our Engineering Mentorship Program and How It Helps Our Engineers Grow

Our Engineering team is the largest team at Buffer. It has a lot of moving pieces and is composed of several smaller teams. As with any large team, we’re keen to make sure no one individual lacks guidance or an opportunity to grow. In this post, I’ll share a little bit more about how we’ve done that through a new program at Buffer that we’ve already had a lot of success with, our Engineering Mentorship Program.

Why a mentorship program?

Over the years on our Engineering team, we’ve had great results from engineers pairing and sharing knowledge. We’ve also seen spontaneous mentorship relationships form and are currently at a point where we have several senior engineers who naturally fill the role of a mentor for a more junior team member.

These relationships proved to be extremely beneficial both for the junior and the senior engineers’ growth and have helped the teams be more cohesive and move faster. To extend the mentorship opportunities to more engineers, we’ve decided to launch an official Mentorship Program in the Engineering team, to add momentum to existing relationships and form new ones between engineers interested in growing as mentors or learning from one.

One of our main focuses on the Engineering Management team is helping engineers grow and advance in our career framework. At the same time, they learn and apply best practices to improve our codebase quality over time.

In the past, we’ve heard some confusion from our engineers around how investing in code quality and best practices relates to our career framework, and concerns that some technical debts might be making it more challenging to advance for newer engineers. This Mentorship Program feels like it has helped to level up more junior engineers, something we’re always keen to do more of.

How we’ve set up our mentorship program

There are three roles in our Engineering Mentorship Program: mentors, mentees, and mentorship champions.

Mentors

Mentors are senior engineers who have a depth of experience to develop the skills of others. They have regular meetings with their mentees and provide a safe space for the mentee to think out loud and be a sounding board to explore new ideas and innovative thinking.

Mentors can also be the personal cheer squad for a mentee, motivating mentees to achieve their goals and inspiring mentees with a mentor’s own accomplishments.

Mentors will share best practices, code quality, testing, refactoring, and how those relate to our engineering career framework. A mentee’s promotion is a sign of success! A mentor’s goal is to grow mentees technically, and promotions are one (but of course not the only) way that growth shows up.

Mentors will help identify and solve problems and provide practical, timely advice, and pair program to help remove any blockers and share knowledge.

Mentees

Mentees are engineers that feel they could benefit from having a mentor to guide career and skill growth. They don’t have to be “more junior” necessarily. A Senior Back-End Engineer who wants to learn front-end could be a mentee, too.

This program is for mentees, so they own the relationship and are responsible for organizing and driving all meetings with their mentor. They shouldn’t wait for their mentor to drive this growth. In their discussions, they should prepare tasks they want help with and code examples.

Mentees are responsible for implementing and growing from the feedback their mentor gives them. It’s on the mentee to take the advice and run with it.

Mentorship Champions

We’ve tried mentoring before, but we’ve had something missing: supporting our mentors. To fix this, we came up with the idea of Mentorship Champions. These are team members who are amazing mentors themselves, have extensive experience with teaching mentoring engineers and are highly experienced engineers.

Mentorship Champions regularly meet with mentors to provide guidance and support on how to be a great mentor. They help with any blockers, challenges, or frustrations that mentors might have and give feedback on the program to the Mentorship Manager to make sure it’s successful.

The difference between a mentor and a manager

Although there are some similarities in the mentorship and management relationships, such as helping and guiding team members to achieve certain goals, there are also key differences.

A manager’s focus is generally on achieving organizational and team goals, as well as ensuring their advice and decisions are aligned with the organizational vision. With a mentor, the focus shifts to personal and career growth. The agenda of a mentor-mentee relationship is focused on sharing knowledge and experience.

A manager is responsible for reviewing the contributions of an employee and giving performance feedback, while mentor feedback and reviews are personal communication targeted to help a mentee remain focused on their long-term goals.

Open and candid communication is a key element in a mentor-mentee relationship. In fact, the entire purpose of the relationship is to openly talk about mentees shortcomings and learn how to overcome them with the help of an experienced mentor, while it can be trickier to talk about ones technical gaps with a manager.

In short:
Mentors give answers; managers ask questions
Mentors advocate for you; managers develop you
Mentorship is casual; management is formal
Mentorship is personal; management is organizational

Key principles of this program

To help guide our mentors and mentees, we’ve defined some key principles of this program:

A mentorship session is all about the mentee.

It’s the mentee’s time, so the mentor should focus the session around them, their questions, and what they need. The mentor should also be prepared to fill in the gaps that the mentee does not bring or struggles to see for themselves.

Mentors help their mentees grow technically by supporting their mentee’s identity and interests.

The program’s aim is not to take a one-size-fits-all approach. It provides the tools and support for mentors to help everyone flourish in their own unique way.

Not everyone needs a mentor.

Some people learn best alone, or from casual chats with lots of different people, or they might already be getting everything they need at this moment from their manager and do not require additional mentoring.

An engineer does not need to be a mentor to grow.

There are other ways for engineers to expand in their careers and our mentorship program isn’t a requirement in our career framework.

Feedback from the Mentorship Program

Initially, we ran this program as a six-month experiment. After the first 6-months, we asked those who participated for feedback on the program and if they wanted it to continue.

The feedback we got from the program was extremely positive, showing that these kinds of relationships and the support the program provides has been very useful for the growth of both mentees and mentors.

Here are a few highlights:

  • […] I believe this mentorship has been the biggest factor in my growth at Buffer
  • […] the mentorship syncs are definitely one of the most helpful syncs I have
  • […] it’s a very positive experience overall, really enjoy building a trust relationship with my mentees, and seeing them progressing, it’s a rewarding experience for sure. It’s also a good way for me get more involved with different product areas, and problems, outside of my strict day to day work
  • This program has been an amazing help for me, I’ve been enjoying every single one of the calls I’ve had […], my mentor always challenges me and he has helped me to grow by doing the things I love.
  • […] “it’s been only a joy full of learning and mutual trust. I felt that we were able to bond together and discuss many things on career framework, personal growth and technical decisions in our organization”

Based on the feedback and individual chats with engineers, we decided to continue the Mentorship Program indefinitely with a few changes.

What we’ve changed in the program

Adding more Mentorship Champions

One of the Mentorship program’s identified benefits was having dedicated support for our mentors through Mentorship Champions. So far, this role was fulfilled solely by our Staff Engineer, Mike San Roman, making it difficult to scale and add more mentorship pairings (support more mentors). Because of that, we decided to add additional senior engineers and experienced mentors as Mentorship Champions.

Introducing regular mentorship chats

There have been important topics that emerged from this experiment, such as ensuring the program is inclusive and diverse, supporting and growing women mentors, and making the program more transparent and collaborative with Engineering Managers.

For this reason, we are now holding once-a-month calls between Mentorship Champions to discuss the above points, chat about any recurring themes in mentorship, and share learnings and updates with the Engineering Management team and wider Engineering team.

Introducing async office-hours

It has been quite tricky to gather mentors and mentorship champions on one call since so many of our team are in various time zones. With the 4 day work-week and leaning more towards asynchronous communication, we decided to introduce async office-hours where, on a dedicated day, everyone will share their updates asynchronously in our private Slack channel. The updates will include any successes, challenges, blockers, and celebrations that emerged during the past few weeks.

So far, we’ve seen great results from the mentorship program for the Engineering team, and we’re excited to keep investing in it and supporting our engineers in their career journey.

https://buffer.com/resources/engineering-mentorship/

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

The best marketers today are building loyal fans by engaging with their audience in the comments and in messages. By approaching every conversation with genuine interest, they are leveraging social media to drive a remarkable and unforgettable customer experience that has fans coming back over and over again. But how exactly can you create this remarkable customer experience on social media?

One marketer that has mastered the art of social media to drive a better customer experience is Bryanna Evans. She’s the Social Media Manager at Southern Elegance Candle Company (SECC), a home fragrance and budding lifestyle brand that captures the warmth and hospitality that the South is known for. Not only has her focus on engagement helped them build loyal fans, but it’s also helped them double or triple their revenue, as its founder and CEO D’Shawn Russell told us: “Our social media makes us a lot of money… We went from doing maybe $20,000-30,000 a month just posting pretty images to well over a $100,000 a month now simply by engaging people more.

Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how SECC creates a positive customer experience on social media that has customers coming back over and over again. You’ll hear directly from Bryanna Evans, Social Media Manager at SECC, and you’ll learn:

  • How a positive customer experience on social media can bring significant value to your business
  • How your audience can help you with your business’ marketing and product development strategy
  • The tool Bryanna uses to more efficiently engage with SECC’s audience
  • What social platforms are most successful for customer engagement
How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

This post is part of the #BufferBrandSpotlight, a Buffer social media series that shines a spotlight on the people that are helping build remarkable brands through social media, community building, content creation, and brand storytelling.

This series was born on Instagram stories, which means you can watch the original interview in our Highlights found on our @buffer Instagram profile.

Tell us more about you! What’s Southern Elegance Candle Co. (SECC) all about and what’s your role there?

Southern Elegance Candle Company is a home fragrance and budding lifestyle brand that captures the warmth and hospitality that the South is known for. The fragrances we offer are inspired by our CEO, D’Shawn Russell’s experiences growing up in the South. Through our products, individuals are able to experience the joys of southern-living no matter where they are.

My name is Bryanna Evans and the role I play at Southern Elegance is multifaceted, but my major responsibilities include social media management and overseeing customer service. Although many think of them as separate entities, I feel that they overlap quite a bit. Both assist in my process for developing strategies that appeal to consumers, content creation, and building authentic connections with our audience.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience

Why does customer experience on social media matter?

In this digitally charged age, everything is at the touch of our fingertips. We’ve been conditioned to expect information just as quickly as we consume it. The same holds firm for customer experience on social media. It’s often the first impression potential consumers have of the company and whether it’s worth investing in them, (browsing their social media platforms, following accounts, purchasing products). It can make or break a brand.

How does SECC create a positive customer experience on social media?

We use our platforms to cultivate a welcoming environment centered around unity and inclusivity. Our tagline ‘Modern Values, Southern Charm’ plays a huge role in our content creation process- from graphics to captions, we try our best to ensure that anyone who comes across our feed feels accepted. We engage with our audience as if we’re long-time friends whether they’ve been following since the beginning or just visiting out of curiosity. That energy also translates into how we approach questions, answer comments, email, and DM’s.

We engage with our audience as if we’re long-time friends whether they’ve been following since the beginning or just visiting out of curiosity. That energy also translates into how we approach questions, answer comments, email, and DM’s.

What are SECC’s most successful social platforms for customer engagement and why?

Instagram and Facebook are our most successful platforms, with TikTok on their heels. I would credit our success to our genuine interests in our audience. The internet has made many skeptical- It’s often hard to know if a brand really cares about you as a consumer or just your money. This feeling can be amplified through robocalls and chatbot assistants. If someone comments on our posts, we comment back. If they call they’re met with a welcoming voice. We spark conversations through quizzes, videos, contests & giveaways.

I would credit our success to our genuine interests in our audience. If someone comments on our posts, we comment back. If they call they’re met with a welcoming voice. We spark conversations through quizzes, videos, contests & giveaways.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Instagram post found here.

How do you learn from your community to help guide your marketing and product development strategy?

Our community is very vocal about what they desire from us. We often get messages regarding fragrances and products they want to return or see. However, in the event that we decide to launch a new product or scent, we try to include them in the process as much as possible. We allow them to test scents, vote for new fragrances, and name candles. We actively seek their feedback and test interest in future projects through story polls, surveys, and asking questions.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Facebook post found here.

How does managing SECC’s social media account and community look like on a day-to-day basis?

We always have a lot going on, so content is planned on a weekly basis. Personally, organization is key. I have to manage my time wisely; to do so I use a personal planner, a social media planner, and two whiteboards. One whiteboard has a tentative time-based schedule written out. This allows me to pivot if something arises and I need to help out on the floor or have an influx of calls for the day. The other contains important reminders for upcoming projects and tasks.

My workday usually starts at 8 AM. When I arrive I review my planners, and reminders for the day. The next hour of work is dedicated to answering customer service emails. For the next half-hour, I create any graphics I need for the day and schedule a few posts, if I haven’t done so over the weekend. Afterward, I dive straight into our Instagram and Facebook DMs. I also reply to comments from anywhere between thirty minutes to an hour. I then take a bit of time to check my work emails and knock out a few things on my to-do list. I also take this opportunity to plan and execute at least one TikTok video for the week for the company account.

We post to our Instagram and Facebook stories daily- depending on what’s happening on the floor I post behind the scene footage around 11:30 AM or 1:00 PM. Throughout the day I share stories we’ve been tagged in or important announcements like sales. After lunch, I go back to answer any new customer service emails, schedule any other posts if needed, answer DMs, story replies, and comments. My day typically ends at 4 PM. Before I leave for the day, I make sure to answer any lingering emails.

We post to our Instagram and Facebook stories daily- depending on what’s happening on the floor I post behind the scene footage around 11:30 AM or 1:00 PM. Throughout the day I share stories we’ve been tagged in or important announcements like sales.

Walk us through how you use our new engagement tool. What are your favorite features?

Buffer’s new engagement tool has really helped to boost the efficiency of replying to comments. My favorite engagement feature by far is the alerts, as they’re a huge time saver. I love how they allow me to prioritize which ones I need to reply to ASAP. When I see a shopping cart or question icon I know that may need to have detailed information available for that individual. An added perk is that the tool makes it easy to scroll through comments on each post and locate those pesky spambot comments so they can be removed or hidden.


What advice do you have for brands that want to start using social media to build a community of loyal followers?

My advice for brands looking to use social media to build a loyal community is to start conversations, gather feedback, and be real with your followers. Social media can be intimidating but at the end of the day, there’s no wrong or right way to go about it. What works for Southern Elegance, may not work for another company. It’s all trial and error. It’s important for brands to experiment with different approaches and see what sticks. A good start is looking into the topics, trends, and habits of your target audience and using that information to curate engaging content.

What works for Southern Elegance, may not work for another company. It’s all trial and error. It’s important for brands to experiment with different approaches and see what sticks. A good start is looking into the topics, trends, and habits of your target audience and using that information to curate engaging content.

I actually follow some of my professors from college. They regularly post articles, start conversations around emerging trends, social media, public relations, and marketing practices. I try to stay active on social media- Even if I don’t post daily, I set time aside to go through each platform, take note of memes, recurring topics, trending hashtags, etc. If I see something I think I can apply or rework to fit Souther Elegance I take notes and dig deeper.

Additionally, in my free time, I take online courses, and attend “YouTube University.” Social media is constantly changing and I’ve found that the best way to keep up with the algorithm changes, updates, and latest strategies is to just put time aside to actively learn.

What’s your favorite SECC product and why?

My favorite Southern Elegance product would have to be our wax melts and warmers. I just turn my warmer on, pop a wax melt in, and go about my day. My favorite fragrances are our Charleston: Sweet Tea and our Savannah: Peach & Champagne as they remind me of my time spent growing up in Georgia and attending my alma mater Georgia Southern University.

How a Candle Company Uses Social Media to Drive a Better Customer Experience
Instagram post found here.

Have any questions for Bryanna? Feel free to reply with your questions to the Twitter post below and Bryanna or someone from the Buffer team will get to them as soon as possible.

https://buffer.com/resources/how-to-use-social-media-to-drive-a-better-customer-experience/

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Towards the end of 2020, the Buffer engineering team held a two-day hack event where the team explored ideas that aligned with both our personal and company values. Whilst we strive to bring our personal and company values into the things that we build, sometimes it’s good to take a step back and really focus on those things that are important to us. These two days of hacking allowed us to do just that, building out a collection of projects that clearly embedded our values. ❤️

Leading up to the days, the team spent some time collating ideas in Trello. Here we discussed ideas, found projects that we wanted to work on and collaborators who we could work with on these projects!

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

With the projects laid out, we entered the hack-days with a clear vision of what it was we’d each be working on. Overall, a total of 14 projects were built. Some of these have already been shipped, whilst others need some more work or will be left as proof of concepts. Let’s take a dive into these projects and see what the engineering team built!

Emoji skin-tone support

Status: We have shipped this update to our engagement features but it still needs more work before we can add it to our publishing features.
Within our publishing and engagement tools, we currently support the ability to select emojis to be inserted into the content input areas.

However, the existing implementation does not support the skin-tone functionality that the emoji ecosystem utilizes. In order to allow individuals to express themselves in the way that they want, this feels like an important aspect of emojis to support.

During hack-days Ana and Hamish from the Publish team took a dive into getting this support added to the Publish Composer. The result looks awesome and adds full support for the emoji skin-tone attribute.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

As well as getting this into our Publish Composer, Boris and Sol from the team working on our engagement features added support to this in the composer under the engagement tab. Now, users across both of these areas can utilize emoji skin-tone support.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Hate speech detection

Status: We have not shipped this yet to any of our products, but are exploring the technical details for how we can make it possible.

When it comes to social media scheduling, there can be a lot of responsibility with the content that our users can send out to their networks. When it comes to facilitating this content currently, there is a manual process in place where accounts will be looked into if they breach our policies. David, Mike and Joe took a look to see if there was a way that we could automate some of these checks and prevent users from creating updates that breached certain policies of ours.

For this, David created an endpoint in our API so that clients could check whether textual content contained hateful speech. This was done using HateSonar and Perspective. This endpoint would return a score which would depict whether some text is deemed as offensive or hateful. With this endpoint available, Mike hooked it into the post creation flow for the composer in our publishing tool, meaning that when the user attempts to create an update that may contain hateful or offensive text they will be presented with an error message.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Joe took this same endpoint and hooked it into the snippet creation flow within our publish tool. Now, if a user attempts to create a snippet group that contains offensive or hateful hashtags, an error message will be presented and the group will not be created.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Creating a carbon footprint page

Status: We have not shipped this yet to any of our products, but are exploring the technical details for how we can make it possible.

Two of our charitable contributions last year were for climate focus organizations, so it was to be expected that there would be a project focused on the climate. Gisete, Phil, and Dan took a look at creating a page to display the carbon footprint of the servers that Buffer uses. This page not only shows a graph of the emissions, but also a breakdown of the server emissions, and some calculated equivalents. With this in place, this gives us the data and foundations required to start putting change in place for making our servers greener.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Diversifying campaign color options

Status: We have shipped this update to our mobile publishing features but it still needs more work before we can add it to our web publishing features.

Within our publishing tool, users are able to create Campaigns to hold a collection of upcoming posts. When creating a campaign, a color can be selected to be associated with it, however, this palette of colors did not include the color black. For Campaigns that might be focused around causes for Black people, this is a missed opportunity for inclusion. To fix this, our internal-tools engineer, Mick, added support for the color black in our publishing tool for both web and the Android app. With one of our iOS engineers, Jordan, adding this to the iOS app.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Snippet group suggestions

Status: We don’t have any plans to ship this to our publishing features in the near future, it will remain as a prototype for now.

Currently in our publishing tool, we offer the ability to create groups of hashtags, allowing our customers to re-use collections of hashtags across their posts. Currently they are required to create these groups themselves, so Joe took a look at how we could align some of his values with this feature. He added a new section to the feature that allows users to view a pre-defined collection of hashtag groups. This change allows us to display groups for any current events, allowing us to support these causes and raise the visibility of posts for them.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product


Status: We have not shipped this yet to any of our products, but are exploring the technical details for how we can make it possible.

In our publishing tool, users have the ability to share external links directly into the composer of our mobile apps. When these links are imported, the composer body is generated based on the content of the provided link. Currently, any links could be shared into the composer, which could allow our users to fall victim to the sharing of false information to their networks. As a solution for this, Prateek and Michael worked on a project that allows us to check the links that are imported into the composer of our publishing tool. This checks whether the link has come from a source known to provide false information and if this the case, the app informs the user before they add the content to their queue.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

‘Support Black’ brand badges

Status: We don’t have any plans to ship this to our publishing features in the near future, it will remain as a prototype for now.

Our Shop Grid feature enables brands to present multiple link-in-bio URLs in the form of a shoppable grid. Whilst this feature is used by many different kinds of small businesses, Char wanted to think about having a way for these brands to present their own values directly on their Shop Grid page. Char built out a quick prototype for what this could look like, by adding a Support Black-Owned Brands badge directly into the page. Not only would this allow shops to show support for Black-owned businesses, but it could be easily extended to allow further values to be shown on the page. For example, a brand could show that they are a Black-owned business or that they are carbon neutral business.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Adding alt-text to Facebook and LinkedIn media


Status: This needs more work before we can add it to our publishing features.

At Buffer, we use our accessibility statement to not only share our value for accessibility, but also to give us some clear direction of how this is represented within our projects. When it comes to this, it’s not about the accessibility within our own products but also how we can support the accessibility features that are supported by networks that we share content too. Currently our composer supports adding alt-text to Twitter as this was available early in the Twitter API. For hack-days, Amy-Lee added alt-text support to images shared to Facebook and LinkedIn, which is support that was added more recently to the APIs for these networks. With this work in place, alt-text will be available to add to three different networks that we support, helping to make content shared by our publishing tool more accessible.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Adding badges to attached media

Status: This needs more work before we can add it to our publishing features.

Within the composer for of our publishing tool, users are able to attach media attachments to be posted to supporting networks. Once these media items are attached, we offer the ability to crop these images but allow for no further customization. To offer some flexibility here and also provide a way for users to express their own values, Andy implemented a sticker feature for the publishing tool’s iOS app. This feature allows users to select a badge/watermark to be applied to an image before being shared to the desired networks.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Accessibility dashboard


Status: This will be shipped soon as an internal tool, but will not be released publicly in the near future.

As mentioned earlier in this article, our accessibility statement defines and shares our value for accessibility along with some requirements that we strive for our products to meet. Joe wanted to take a look into how we might be able to monitor our accessibility errors and warnings for our web products, as this could help us to keep track of issues and spot any commonalities across our products. For this, Joe used the pa11y dashboard to spin up an internal service for a collection of pages across Buffer products allowing us to get daily reports of accessibility errors and warnings.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Running a federated social network


Status: We don’t have any plans to ship this, it will remain as a prototype.

Our business is built around social networks, these are complex applications that have many different moving parts. One key thing that often arises around these networks are privacy and the control over your data. With this in mind, Eduardo decided to look into creating our own Buffer federated social network, using Plemora to do so. Whilst this is something we could use for retreats and other company gatherings, creating our own internal social network allows us to have control over our own data, as well as exposing us further to more in-depth concepts around social networking.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

Theme support for the Safari extension of our publishing tool

Status: This has been shipped and is available for use with our publishing features.

Our publishing tool offers browser extensions that allow users to share the current browser page directly into the composer of that tool, removing the need to manually copy and paste the site URL. For the safari extension, we only supported a single icon theme; meaning that the black Buffer logo was always displayed. When using a dark theme in the browser, this resulted in the icon not being accessible as against the dark background of the browser, this icon was barely visible. To fix this, Andy added support for a light icon for when the dark theme is in use, resulting in an accessible extension icon regardless of the browser theme you are using.

Hack-Week: Embedding Our Values and Causes in Our Product

With these 14 projects, the engineering team were able to focus in on our values and explore how they could be represented within our products. As you can see, this has been done in many different ways, along with many different goals being tackled.

I found it really inspiring to see everyone come together and build so many great features in such a short space of time. Whilst we strive to embed our values into our everyday work, it’s refreshing to take that time to step back and really focus in on what’s important to us. This helps us to nurture a pro-active mindset when it comes to the topics, as well as create a space to educate ourselves further in these areas. With this, hack week continues to prove a valuable investment in our engineering team.

Do you engage in hack weeks for your engineering team? We’d love to hear what works for you if so! Send us a tweet anytime! And you don’t have hack weeks, it could be worth reflecting on how this time could contribute to your team and product. ❤️

https://buffer.com/resources/hack-week-values-causes/

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

In March and April of 2020, work and life as we knew it was changing. I surveyed our team members (all 84 of whom are spread out across the globe) to understand the best way to help them cope with so many things shifting at once.

I especially wanted to hear from parents about what could help them as many schools were shutting down and partners or spouses were also required to work from home.

The results? Most people wanted more time to get through the new challenges they faced.

As a remote organization, we already offer a lot of flexibility to our employees, and it’s one of the many benefits of remote work. The ideal solution for us at the time was to both lean into flexibility and offer more time at once, which is when we started considering a four-day work week.

The concept of a 4-day work week gained a lot of traction in early 2020 as many companies saw better flexibility and thus happier employees when moving from five eight-hour days to four. Microsoft trialed this in Japan and saw a 40% increase in productivity, and Unilever New Zealand also rolled out 32-hour work weeks.

Given the stress, shutdowns, and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, this was also touted as a helpful way to address childcare, quarantines, and other things.

The combined survey of our teammates and increasing global proof that the four-day work week could be a good solution is what spawned our one-month trial. After that trial, we saw that not only had happiness and stress improved, but productivity hadn’t dipped. We opted for a 6-month trial to validate if this was a sustainable practice, and it was.

Now, we’re continuing four-day work weeks for the foreseeable future. Here’s a look at some of what we’ve learned from surveying our team about the four-day work week over the course of our two trials.

What our internal surveys have told us about a four-day work week

The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week. It’s worth noting that though we’ve seen sustained productivity levels, we’ve been gauging that based on teammate feedback and not company-wide goals, that is changing in 2021.

As we looked back on the impact of working a company-wide four-day work week in most of 2020, we decided to push forward with this model into 2021, with a few clarifications and exceptions. Here’s how we evaluated our six-month pilot program and why we decided to continue operating on a four-day work week.

Starting in May of 2020, I measured the following:

  • output based on area deadlines and goals
  • teammate’s individual autonomy
  • stress levels
  • general work happiness

Here’s a bit more about how each of those measurements has gone.

Our output during a four-day work week

In our May trial, we saw that teammates felt overwhelmingly as productive or more productive on a four-day work week as they did on a five-day work week. That was only the one-month trial, so it could be easy to ignore, but we saw the pattern emerge in our six-month trial. Nearly 34 percent felt more productive than when we had a five-day work week, nearly 60 percent felt equally as productive, and less than seven percent felt less productive.

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

While teammates reported feeling more productive, I also spoke with managers. I rounded up the data from our managers around team output to help establish if the data matched the teammate’s feelings and what my recommendation would be for going into 2021.

For our Engineering teams, the number of total coding days went down. However, we saw significant increases in output. Our Engineering Manager, Ivana, shared: “Weekly coding days went from 3.4 to 2.7 for product teams, and from 3.2 to 2.9 for Mobile and Infrastructure, while the productive impact increased significantly for product teams and doubled for Infrastructure and Mobile!”

Many of the managers I spoke with echoed Ivana’s feelings of seeing an increase in output.

The exception to these results in productivity was our customer advocacy team. We had a harder time maintaining productivity levels, which was to be expected because this role is unique in its unpredictability of volume.

Anecdotally, our advocates still cited feeling they were about 85 to 90 percent as productive as they had been during five-day weeks outside of the customer inbox, i.e., on other projects. However, customers did wait a bit longer to receive an initial reply to their emails.

As was mentioned earlier, we were asking teammates and managers to gauge overall productivity and not measuring it for ourselves based on company-wide goals. That is changing in 2021 as we’ve set down more specific company goals, so we will be able to see how well we achieve our goals each quarter, and it will be another key measure of the success of the four-day work week.

Individual autonomy

Reported autonomy and flexibility in May of 2020 was at 4.3 out of 5, with 5 being “total autonomy.” This increased to 4.7 by the end of our six-month pilot:

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

Reiterating that our teammates have control over their schedule has been a key goal of the four-day workweek.

Stress levels

Our stress levels in May 2020 (when we first launched the experiment) was 3.3 out of 5, with 5 being high stress. Reported stress dipped down to 2.7 at our June survey, and then only slightly up to 2.9 at our October survey.

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

General work happiness

Our overall happiness trend for the entire company stayed consistent, and given the volatility of the events of 2020, I felt this was a good trend.

4-Day Work Weeks: Results From 2020 and Our Plan for 2021

Our exact quarterly numbers were:

  • Jan: 4.1/5
  • April: 3.8/5
  • July: 3.8/5
  • Sept: 3.7/5

How we’re continuing the 4-day work week into 2021

Given that the data was primarily positive for a four-day work week, we’ve decided to continue this practice into 2021. Throughout the year, I’ll continue to keep an eye on productivity and team engagement through our quarterly surveys to ensure that the four-day work week is ultimately helping Buffer’s business needs.

Our guidelines for our four-day work week in 2021:

We adjusted a few things based on our experience in 2020. Here’s what I sent to our team about our guidelines for the four-day work week:

We’ll continue with:

  • No meetings or expectation of communicating on Slack on Fridays.
  • Fridays as a default day off for most areas.
  • Customer Advocates’ workweeks will look different due to the nature of the role. More communication will follow on schedules and expectations.
  • Further defining weekly output expectations at the area and department level.
  • Clarifying performance standings. Teammates who are not meeting their objectives may choose or be asked to work 5 days.
  • Evaluating this schedule at least quarterly on the basis of overall team productivity, hitting OKRs, teammate stress levels and feeling ownership of your work schedule.

We will continue to reiterate that while this is a special benefit, we as a company must meet our collective deadlines. Some work weeks might need that Friday as an overflow work day to finish up what we’ve committed to do. Everyone is still expected to get their work done.

While as a company we originally adjusted deadlines to factor in the four-day work week and the unique situation of the pandemic, we’ve since moved forward with establishing ambitious goals for the coming year and recognize that this will likely push the limits of the way we’ve been operating in a four-day work week and force us to keep adapting to this new way of work. Personally, I know every teammate at Buffer is capable and up to the challenge.

Because our Customer Advocates don’t have as much project-based work as other roles, we have specific targets to meet:

Customer Advocacy 4DWW Strategy 2021

Goal: Successfully work four-day workweeks as a team whilst delivering an above the bar customer service experience customers rave about.

Measurement: Team members are expected to achieve their ticket targets each week (number of tickets replied to based on level + personal commitment/goal agreed upon with lead) as well as average 2.8 ACE score on tickets and/or team members working outside of the inbox will be expected to complete projects, hit deadlines, and achieve key results.

We’ll continue to craft and iterate on ways to both serve our customers well and provide flexible work weeks to our teammates.

Looking ahead

I will continue with periodic surveys around team productivity, personal stress levels, autonomy, and happiness. Buffer is also diving back into using OKRs as a tool to track our productivity and progression, which will give us another measuring stick to use in the overall evaluation of our four-day work weeks.

We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day work weeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals.

Want to keep talking about the four-day work week? Reach out on Twitter and use the hashtag #BufferCommunity. 😊

https://buffer.com/resources/4-day-workweek-2021/