How to Find & Develop Relationships with Social Media Influencers

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably read my posts on how unit publicity helps indie film, great advertising campaigns and tips on great tools to use to help manage social media and save time.

But with the rise of influencer marketing and platforms to help you manage said campaigns recent years, I’ve been asked about the best ways to develop influencer campaigns affordably.

If done correctly, influencer campaigns can drive word-of-mouth marketing and consumer growth, leading to influencers becoming brand ambassadors for companies. Brand ambassadors can help to generate fun and engaging organic content for your brand on a consistent basis, lead campaigns through email, social and advertising and help to elevate events you participate in.

In order to avoid missteps and choosing someone just based on their number of followers, make sure you outline goals you want the influencer campaign to accomplish and do your research on influencers.

With this post, I’ll be focusing on how to develop a plan for influencer marketing campaigns and how to find the best social media influencers for your brand.

Developing a Plan for Influencer Campaigns

As mentioned earlier, working with influencers can help to put a face to your brand and humanize the company. But how do you go about creating a plan to find influencers and run marketing campaigns with tangible goals?

You want to thoroughly plan out what you’re looking to do. Are you launching a new product or service? Is it an event you’re attending and/or organizing? Is it a promotion/contest you’re looking to gain more entries?  Who are you looking to influence to pay attention to this news, attend these events or enter a contest?

If you’re looking for an influencer to share a video helping to promote your indie film fundraiser, are you prepared to offer them exclusive tickets to the world premiere or a media screener with a small gift? What about offering them a chance to tour the set of your next film or perhaps a cameo on screen?

If you want an influencer to write a blog post, review your product or hype up an event, you have to think about what you’re willing to give influencers in-kind. Are you going to be sending them different products to review 3 times/year? Will you have exclusive VIP events that they’ll be invited to? Are you expecting them to post 4X/promotion via Twitter, Facebook and perhaps do an Instagram takeover for an event?

Once you have the general framework for influencer campaigns in place, you can tailor it to suit specific campaigns for certain influencers.

Next, I’ll be focusing on how to find the best social media influencers for your brand and the tools you can use to make it easier.

Finding the Right Social Influencers 

The right influencers can help you reach more of your core demographic by allowing you to piggyback on their follower base and they can also increase your SEO value by developing more backlinks to content you’ve posted.

As you search for influencers, you need to consider the criteria you’re looking for:

Relevance: Is the influencer is sharing content and do they have an audience that’s relevant to my brand? Would my own audience trust this person and be engaged with the content?

Reach:  Does the influencer have enough of an audience that the content we create/promote together will bring my brand value?

Make sure you also do your outreach slowly. Don’t approach influencers right off the bat with an offer of a brand partnership. Start by following them (if you’re not already), comment on conversations they’ve having and share their content.

 

How to Find Influencers Using Tools You (Probably) Already Have

On LinkedIn

As LinkedIn is already a great platform to discover secondary connections through groups and your own connections, you can use the search function to also find influencers. You can search for keywords such as “indie film” and “food bloggers” and pull up secondary connections that are relevant to your industry. Send them a message about their content (make sure you do your research about what they do) and ask them if they wouldn’t mind having a chat about it. Be honest about how you found them and start the conversation.

On Twitter

As you probably know, Twitter’s advanced search function is useful to look for the latest news items and notable Twitter handles. Pulling up any search using hashtags will allow you to see who’s talking about a certain subject such as #indiefilm or who identifies as a #techblogger. From there, you’ll have an idea of who is sharing content relevant to your brand and you can start following them, sharing their updates and making an effort to engage them in conversation.

Twitter’s also a great platform to find micro influencers among your own fans as well. Your own fans are already interested in your brand, so it’ll take less effort to convince them to work with you. Fans are already promoting your content and your brand without prompting, so why not make it a mutually beneficial partnership by formally giving them perks to help hype an event or write a review of some of your products that you’ll gift to them? Of course, fans being interested in and supporting your brand is only half the story, their audiences also have to be relevant to your company.

On Instagram

Looking through your Instagram followers is also great way to find micro influencers (you’d want the reach to be significant-between 1,000-10,000 followers). Take a look at what your followers are posting about, including the reach of their posts and if they’ve been sharing your updates. If they’re consistently posting about food & wine, indie film, sports/fitness and your brand is in those industries, they might be interested in partnering with your company.

Just like on Twitter, you can also search for influential hashtags such as #organicfood, #organicbeauty or #MMAfitness. You’ll get a list of top photos using any of those hashtags that have the most likes. Take a look at the accounts that posted these photos and see if they’d work as a micro influencer for your brand. If you’re a fitness brand or gym facility, you could consider giving them free passes to your facility to try out training and a few classes. If you make organic sauces, marinades and spices, consider giving the influencer a gift basket to try out your products and ask them to make a few of your tried and tested recipes.

 

Using Other Tools to Help Discover Influencers

FollowerWonk is a tool that can help you find Twitter influencers and you can add the first profile for free. Once you sign up, you can click on the ‘Search Bios’ tab and look into the advanced search options. You can tailor the search results based on location, number of followers and whether you’re searching for bloggers.

The social authority column is the best indicator of how influential someone is as it combines the number of followers with how much influence they wield over the followers. If you see low authority numbers that means they don’t engage their own audiences and aren’t worth your time.

Lastly, BuzzSumo is a great tool to help with influencer marketing. Though the pro option will set you back about $79/month, you’ll be able to search for Twitter influencers using specific keywords.

The number of followers will give you an idea of an influencer’s reach and the retweet/reply ratios will keep you informed of the influencer’s engagement rates. You’ll also be able to find influencers, bloggers, companies, journalists and regular people. You can also organize results by followers if you’re interested in reach or retweet/reply ratios. Sorting the results by authority will give you a good mix of reach & engagement. Those who have high page authority are seen as experts in their niche.

Let me know if you have recommendations for more affordable ways to find influencers & manage influencer campaigns! Keep it posted here for more content on marketing, PR and social media tools.

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Attracting More Customers With Twitter and Vine

vine-twitter

So you’ve created an amazing Twitter profile for your company, complete with an eye-catching branded cover photo and profile image. You’ve started following key companies as well as industry influencers and bloggers in order to stay ahead of the competition and keep on top of what’s new and exciting.

You’ve started sharing cool tweets and updates of new products and tools you have, cool infographics and fun events and people are responding to them and sharing them with their networks. So, everything’s great on Twitter, right?

Well, you’re gaining followers and fans but you still feel like there’s more that you could be doing to help gain more of an audience and stay ahead of the competition via Twitter and other social media channels.

That’s where I come in. With this post, I’m going to give you a few secrets on to optimize your branded Twitter page for search and then bust a few myths about marketing on Twitter along the way.

Later, I’ll also give you some tips and tricks on how to attract customers by incorporating Vine into your marketing strategy.

6 Steps to Optimize Twitter for Search

1) Keep Your Handles Spam Free

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You can change your Twitter handle at any time, but make sure to keep it professional and unique. Don’t put too many numbers behind it because Google could mistake it for spam because there’s no way to differentiate between which ones are real and which ones aren’t.

2) Include Keywords in Your Bios

To improve SEO, include at least one keyword about your industry in your bio, but don’t overstuff it with keywords because it’ll look forced. A few keywords in an attention-catching bio deployed in the right way to help you increase your visibility on search results.

3) Build Your Reach

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Gaining an audience of high-quality followers in important for SEO purposes. Google checks the authority of every user who’s tweeting content, so make sure you share great quality content with legitimate Twitter accounts in order to raise your search ranking.

4) Create a Subset of Keywords

Your business should have a set of keywords it tries to rank for, but not all of them translate over to Twitter. Analyze the keywords through various tools and pick a smaller subset that are easier to tweet on a semi-regular basis to raise your ranking.

5) Keep Tweets in the Safe Zone

To make sure your SEO-optimized tweets aren’t deleted when someone re-tweets them, try to aim for status update lengths of between 120-130 characters. That way, re-tweets have some leg room and you’ll also improve click-through rates (CTRs) on your tweets.

6) Fuel Your Inbound Links

Posting updates that people love retweeting will boost your optimization efforts and Google analyzes the number of followers who retweet your content and ranking your retweeted link-the Twitter equivalent of an inbound link. So make sure whatever you share catches enough attention that people want to retweet it.

Busting Twitter Marketing Myths

marketing myths

Myth #1: Having a Twitter Account for Longer Time Period is Better than a Shorter One

Your presence on Twitter isn’t measured by how long you’ve been a member, but the value that you provide which translates into followers and engagement. To increase your value, make sure you provide high-quality content and don’t spend all your time simply trying to sell your products and services.

Myth #2:Tweeting every second of the day is better than tweeting fewer times

Everyone knows that tweets have a short shelf life but that doesn’t mean you should be tweeting every single second. When you tweet every second, your older updates will move down your followers’ news feeds and having constant updates can irk your followers pretty quickly. So remember that tweeting too many times can irk your current fans and decrease the likelihood of getting more followers.

Myth #3: Following industry influencers is better than following customers

Many businesses will follow industry leaders to gain insights into what they think and follow competitors to keep on top of what they’re doing, but they ignore customers. Don’t ignore your customers, if they care enough to like and share your content, you should give them some of that love and respect back and reciprocate by following them to see what’s been going on.

Now that you have a better grasp of how to master Twitter, here are some tips on how to incorporate Vine into your marketing strategy

How to Incorporate Vine

By now, you’ve probably heard about Vine. It’s an app that allows you to capture and share short videos that are 6 seconds or shorter. It compliments the 140 character limit on Twitter nicely and gives you more of a chance to be creative in a shorter timeframe.

You can use Vine to expand your video library and incorporate more videos into your marketing strategy. You can also share them via your Twitter updates quickly and easily. Unlike longer videos, Vine’s ability for quick uploads and easy-to-use interface gives you the freedom to experiment with different topics and images without having to worry about video production quality.

6 Ideas to Inspire Vine Videos
1) Sneak peeks to promote an upcoming event or webinar. (ie. speaker clips)
2) Product demos featuring a particular feature or tool
3) Clips showing new gear and products in action
4) Behind the scenes look at the office culture
5) Short case studies of customers using your products
6) Clips highlighting your company participating in community events

A great way to encourage engagement with your followers with Vine is to pose a question to all of them and post the answers in the form of short and snappy Vine videos, as a video Q&A or shortened version of a Google Hangout.

Once the questions come in, a moderator will tell your followers which questions are being answered and when to expect the video. Once a video is produced, you can automatically share it via Twitter. In an hour-long Twitter chat, you can produce anywhere from 15-20 short video responses.

If you’re going to do a Vine Twitter chat, make sure you have one person monitoring responses via Twitter, one person in charge of the filming and one expert on camera answering the questions. Make sure you always have a backlog of good questions collected from Twitter on hand so you can produce the videos faster AND when you post the video make sure you use the chat’s hashtag AND include the expert’s Twitter handle.

How to Measure Twitter and Vine ROI

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Twitter has two purposes that you need to be measuring: Business Generated through Leads and Twitter Database/Follower Growth.

To measure business growth from Twitter, you need to look at two elements: how many visits you’ve had to your website through links you’ve placed on Twitter and how many new contacts (ie. sign up for an e-book, enter their email addresses, contacted you) those visits have generated.

You can measure your Twitter database growth using 3 different metrics: Measure how many followers you gain from month and month (which allows you to see which campaign tactics have been working and which ones haven’t), daily follower growth and how many link clicks you’re getting from these followers. You can use a tool like TwitterCounter to help measure your follower growth over time.

Tracking Vine is a little trickier, but there are a couple of ways. You can add hashtags to status updates with links to Vine videos and hashtags are trackable using tools like TweetReach. You can then search for the custom hashtag you used for the Vine video and see how many tweets the hashtag received, how many impressions and how many people it reached. You can also see the month-to-month growth of followers on your Vine account.

Stay tuned for more posts on how to better utilize Vine and Twitter in your marketing strategies!

Turn Dedicated Fan Content Into Sales for Your Company in 4 Easy Steps

With the rise of cool techniques on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Vine, consumers are consistently finding new ways to create, share and consume more content on a daily basis.

Consumer-created content isn’t just popular, it also has the power to influence other consumers.
How many times have you watched a how-to video posted to YouTube by a fellow user to learn how to create a certain design in Photoshop? Or read a restaurant review on Urban Spoon from another patron that ultimately led you to decide to NOT eat there? Or, even just seen a friend’s beautiful travel photos on Facebook and wanted to travel to the destination yourself?

We’ve all made decisions about products we want to purchase, restaurants we want to experience and destinations we want to travel to, based on user-generated content (UGC).

But how influential is it really? Millennials report that user-generated content (UGC) is 20% more influential on their purchases than any other type of media.

And yet, many retailers still aren’t capitalizing on the popularity and influence of social content.

In 4 steps, I’m going to show you how to convert influential and authentic consumer content into sales for your company.

Step #1: How to Build a Library of User-Generated Content

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

#GEInspiredMe Pinterest UGC campaign

You can capitalize on getting value from consumer content by using one of the most powerful tactics: building your own UGC marketing campaign.

Building your own UGC marketing campaign allows you to use this word-of-mouth strategy to automate the content collection process. You don’t have to reach out to individual consumers to request permission to reuse their content and it collates all of the valuable consumer feedback in one place.

So what are some easy ways to create a UGC campaign?

Start with a hashtag campaign. Make it easy for consumers to enter the campaign with a designated hashtag. The beauty of hashtags is that they’re a common feature across many platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine, which allows your fans to choose how and where they want to participate; allowing you to pull off a cross-platform campaign easily.

Branded hashtag campaigns can be powerful calls-to-action across all platforms, including TV, social and print.

Take, for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s marketing campaign for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They wanted to ‘own’ winter and establish it as Canada’s identity and they did this by creating the #WeAreWinter campaign, the largest ad campaign ever for the COC.

With social media as the prominent platform, #WeAreWinter featured well-known Canadian Olympians (and their social profiles) talking about how winter is at the core of who Canadians are. Documentary-style videos on the re-designed Olympic.ca helped tell the stories of the lesser-known athletes and showcased the drive and determination of the medal hopefuls.

The end result? The hashtag #WeAreWinter was used over 500,000 times on Twitter in Canada, over a million times worldwide, and was trending worldwide on the final days of the Olympics.

Country_Living_Magazine

Country Living Magazine’s Pinterest Page

If Pinterest is one of your major platforms, consider running a contest on it. Take the Pinterest contest run by Country Living Magazine. They asked pinners to follow the Country Living Pinterest page, launch a new Pinterest board entitled “My Country Living Dream Bedroom,” and pin at least 10 items that represent their dream bedroom (5 of which needed to be pinned from CountryLiving.com), all tagged with #countryliving and #dreambedroom. To submit their entry, pinners were required to comment on the contest’s pin with a link to their pinboard.

Whether you’re holding a Pinterest contest or having fans enter into a cross-platform hashtag campaign, here are some tips to get a UGC marketing campaign on the go:

• Offer an incentive for fans to share & tag their content, whether it’s a prize or a chance to be featured on your home page.
• Promote the contest/campaign inside stores if you have a bricks & mortar presence.
• Put a CTA for the campaign on or inside product packaging
• Include a CTA in your e-newsletters
• Promote the campaign through all of your social channels & share the best fan entries

Step #2: Capturing Data from Campaign Participants

Suave_sweepstakes_t_and_c

Suave #RadiantWishes Sweepstakes

When you’re running a UGC campaign, it’s important that you remember to comply with legal guidelines by having your consumers agree to the terms and conditions.

After having fans send out a hashtag tweet to enter a contest, you can send them a custom response form thanking them for their entry and asking them to accept terms and conditions in order to claim the prize.

Sign up forms are also a great way to have fans grant permission to allow your company to use their content across multiple platforms. You can also use them to capture any consumer info you choose, from demographics to contact info and hobbies. Leverage the data you receive from sign up forms to better understand your consumer base, learn their preferences and to tailor future marketing campaigns accordingly.

Also, by enabling opt-ins for your email campaigns and allowing your consumers to receive updates about future promotions, you can now build an owned audience and create deeper connections with fans on your social platforms and through your website.

Step #3: Turn Your Website into a Social Hub

Burberry's UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

Burberry’s UGC campaign for their famous trench coats

When you create a cross-platform UGC marketing campaign, don’t forget to include your website. Save the best entries, photos & hashtagged images from your UGC campaigns and display them on a dedicated landing page on your site.

Displaying rich, engaging user-generated content on your website not only drives up web traffic but increases opportunities for users to share their own content, as well as content from other users that they enjoy.

Here are some tips on how to showcase UGC across multiple platforms:

• Create online displays via your website and social media platforms that promote holidays and seasonal offerings such as winter recipes or a summer product line
• If you have a bricks & mortar store, put up a prominent display in store with the site URL
• Ensure that you place reviews and comments on specific products on those product pages
• Pull quotes from your website and use them across the social platforms
• Run a Pinterest board with your favorite user submitted how-tos/styles/photos
• Run an email campaign with users wearing/using your products & drive traffic from the campaign to a branded landed page on your website full of UGC.

Step #4: Drive Sales & Measure the Results

mod_cloth_pinterest_contest

Don’t just display user-generated content, employ tactics to actively drive sales. Associate UGC with product-related content as much as possible across your website, email campaigns and social media platforms, providing a clear path to conversion.

Easy ways to do this include placing a link to the product page behind each photo, making it easier for users to click through and buy or link to pages that display products in seasonal collections or for certain occasions.
By including trackable links with each piece of content, you easily track visits, shares, views and ultimately sales. By measuring the results of each piece of content, you can make informed decisions about what content works and how you can include it in your overall strategy.

Stay tuned for more on content marketing, including a post on how to turn brand advocates into content creators for your company!

Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies: An Overview to 500 Million Strong

In the years since I started using Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with loved ones, promote my clients, share my interests and writing as well as engage in conversations with industries I am passionate about (interior design and tourism, being two of them); I’ve always wondered where I would be able to get valuable and concrete information on how to improve my presence on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, without resorting to outsourcing my social media presence to companies or individuals.

Seminars on social media I’d attended in the past yielded little results; save for a few different portals such as ping.fm that I could use to schedule updates.  Certainly, these sites are useful, but these seminars didn’t give me tools or tips that I could use on the actual platforms themselves, like the LinkedIn website.

As someone who already has their hands full engaging in discussions on LinkedIn, connecting on Twitter and currently working on building a Facebook business page; I wanted something-a workshop or seminar that could give me tips to utilize the existing websites better.

Enter the Advanced Social Media Marketing Strategies Webinar hosted by Sean Malarkey and Lewis Howes that I attended last week.

What made this webinar different from the other seminars? Well, for starters, Sean has over 10 years of experience as a real estate investor and was the first in his industry in his hometown in Ohio to use Twitter to increase real estate sales. He created Twixplode, an e-book with tips and tricks on how to make Twitter work for you. Lewis wrote an e-book called LinkedWorking on how to make LinkedIn do the work and establish connections for you.

Here are some of the tips they shared with me to help maximize the potential for connections, jobs and sales on the 5 major social media platforms:

5 Step LinkedIn SEO Challenge

1.       Search for relevant keywords (ie. If your business specializes in marketing, search ‘marketing’) to see if you are first in the search results.

2.       Add the keyword(s) in your profile headline

3.       Add the keyword(s) in your current and past work experience

4.       Add the keyword(s) in your summary

5.       Add the keyword(s) in your specialties, raising your profile in the LinkedIn search rankings for that specialty

Twitter

1.       Build a network of targeted people (ie. if you’re an interior designer, target architects & real estate agents)

2.       Save time by using tools available (ie. HootSuite & TweetDeck to monitor tweets/conversations and publish tweets for several profiles at once)

Facebook

1.       Take anything off of your Facebook profile with no value (ie. ‘Likes’, notifications of comments on other peoples’ pages)

2.       Keep conversations on your page

Blog

1. Content !! (Could be daily or weekly, even reposts of blog posts you liked, but must publish often)

2. Add an E-mail Capture feature on the blog as a call to action

3. Social Sharing (Easy, Accessible links for people to share on Facebook, Twitter etc.)

Maximizing YouTube

1.       Make Your Video Title Keyword Rich in Your Niche (ie. Top Color Trends in Interior Design) (Use Adwords to search for keywords with high search traffic and low competition)

2.       Add Your Video Description First

3.       Make sure your website link is the first part of the video description.

4.       Have tags and annotations for your video

 

For further information, Sean and Lewis have created a comprehensive social media marketing course called 500 million strong.

Environmental Communication & Sustainability: Ineffective?

Although the concept of sustainability and environmentalism has existed for decades, I became more involved with learning about sustainability through interacting with activists, consultants and businesses alike in the sustainable sector two years ago. Enrolling in a special topics course on Environmental Communications & Climate Change opened my eyes to the issues facing climate change and environment and more specifically, the challenges of communicating with the general public about the environment.

Environmental communication interests me because of two central issues: does terminology play a part in the effectiveness of environmental communication and what medium is most effective at influencing people on issues on the environment? A former classmate of mine mentioned during a recent conversation that he wanted to de-emphasize the fact that his janitorial company used ‘green’ cleaning products because he believed that the word ‘green’ is overused and therefore passé.

Is being sustainable really passé or is it just the language? How could educating the public about the environment and creating awareness around an alternative lifestyle-a sustainable one-be outdated? I believe that when it comes to sustainability and the environment, it comes down to the language and the terminology we use to talk about the subject.  If ‘green’ is considered passé and ‘eco’ is considered to be overused and perhaps outdated, perhaps what we need to do is to start referring to ‘green’ products, issues and concepts as ‘environmentally sustainable’. Certainly, it’s not as catchy, but it has the benefit of being true and it describes the heart of environmental communication in two words that you could never do with ‘eco’ or ‘green’.

Terminology and language aside, the other issue with environmental communication that fascinates me is the question of how you discover which medium is more effective at raising awareness on environmental and sustainability issues and how to influence audiences’ behaviors accordingly. Activist Tzeporah Berman once told me in a phone interview from her home on Cortes Island that it doesn’t matter if twenty, thirty years from now, everyone on earth is driving an electric car,  because it would do very little to reduce our carbon footprint. Why is that? Mainly because while a new behavior is introduced, we have yet to let go of all the other habits that lead to environmental harm.

On a local level, I sat down with Andy Orr, who is responsible for corporate communications for the CRD for the Greater Victoria region late last year. We both agreed that much of the behavior of the general public had yet to change in relation to sustainability because suitable and-permanent-alternatives were not available. Take the example of using reusable cloth bags. Certainly, I can use cloth bags for any of my shopping and storage needs, but what about garbage? As I pointed out to Mr. Orr, no one is about to spend money on cloth bags only to throw them out with the garbage. If the general public does not use plastic bags for their garbage, what suitable, biodegradable environmental alternative is available, that is also strong enough to handle heavy and really soiled items? We both agreed that while introducing reusable bags to the general public was a good idea, however, it only introduced a new behavior; it didn’t eliminate other behaviors, because permanent alternatives had yet to be introduced. On the issue of environmental communication, he expressed concern that transitioning over to social media to spread the message of composting would not only alienate the CRD’s existing audience but reduce creditability of the organization.

And would it? Certainly, there seem to be two camps within the sustainable sector that are involved with social media: the activists and the eco-consumerists. I’ve personally seen Twitter and Facebook accounts from activists such as Tzeporah on her initiatives such as Power UP Canada, active blogs such as the DeSmog Blog from Kevin Grandia, among others as well as larger environmental activist organizations like Greenpeace. And on the other end of the spectrum, you have businesses who have built their companies on selling eco-friendly, sustainable products from household items to gifts for pets such as local business The Good Planet Company.  For businesses and individuals such as these, utilizing social media to raise awareness and attract customers and activists does work. Why? Because their audiences utilize social media on a daily, sometimes even hourly basis.

But where does a government organization fit in with the medium of social media? Individual political campaigns nonwithstanding, how does a government organization devote time and resources to utilize social media to raise awareness of their initiatives with a NEW target audience and not neglect nor alienate their current audience? In our conversation, I didn’t have a ready answer for Mr. Orr. But after giving it some thought, I believe that it comes down to two things: individual target markets and the skills of the people who belong to that organization. If the organization contains individuals who are comfortable and knowledge about social media, give them the opportunity to reach out to new target markets on the issue of composting and devote the rest of your resources to the existing audiences.