Ask a Social Media Pro #6: The Holiday Soapbox Edition

By: Carmen Collins, Senior Social Media & Talent Brand Manager, Cisco

December 19, 2019

Carmen Collins, Cisco’s senior social media and talent manager, has long graced the (web) pages of The Social Shake-Up. There’s a reason for that: She never fails to offer What’s Shakin’ readers an unfiltered take on social media, whether she’s questioning Instagram’s like-hiding or sounding off on improper hashtag use.

Just in time for the holidays, Collins, who will be speaking as part of The Social Shake-Up 2020, stood on her soapbox to give the gift of candid social media advice.

Dear Carmen,

cisco, senior social media talent manager carmen collins

Carmen Collins, Senior Social Media & Talent Brand Manager, Cisco

What are your biggest tips for engaging followers? 


Late to the Engagement Party

Dear Late,

Please (please, please) remember that it’s social media. It’s not say-what-I-want-and-make-people-listen” media. It’s a conversation. A pow-wow. A soiree. It used to be called a “community”—I wish that word was still in the vernacular for this type of media. That means you should talk like a person would talk. Not. Like. A. Robot. (Beep!) Write like a person. Listen like a person. When you do that, you’ll figure out what your followers want from you, and you’ll be able to deliver it in the way they want to receive it.

Dear Carmen,

How do you break through the noise when it comes to social feeds and other brands’ content?


Noisy Nellie

Dear Nellie,

You have to be yourself (as a brand). Don’t try to be a different version of yourself. Wendy’s snarky comebacks only work for Wendy’s. (And many brands have been burned by trying.) What value can you bring?

It’s also important not to try to be everything to everyone. I’d rather have 1,000 engaged, active, excited followers than 100,000 followers with a 2 percent engagement rate.

Dear Carmen, 

How do you change things up when repurposing content across multiple social channels?


Game Changer

Dear Changer,

Are you ready for my soapbox? First, ease your mind by knowing that you don’t have to create unique content for each platform, but you do have to customize your content for each platform. You can use a “hub-and-spoke” model. You write a blog post: That’s your long-form content. But when you post that blog link on Twitter, check that the featured photo is cropped for optimal Twitter browsing (which is 90 percent on mobile, so a 16:9 ratio image is key). Be sure to use the appropriate hashtags and  make the most of your 280 characters.

On Instagram, you’ll want to square-crop a photo and either use the post as a micro-blog with the juiciest copy, or use a “link in bio.” Maybe the blog features a few great photos. Turn those into an Instagram Story. And so on.

Here’s my pet peeve. If you’re trying to customize for how people use different social platforms, and you market at them by putting a whole bunch of text on images: Please stahhhhhhhp. You’re making the mistake of trying to get what you want across, versus recognizing that your followers can’t and won’t read all of that text on a mobile device (not to mention that it’s not accessible for visually impaired.) Users don’t, as a general rule, click to make an image larger, so they scroll right past your content—hurting your brand and your reach.

At The Social Shake-Up