Ask an expert: Social media marketing

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  • Updated 5 years ago
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You have questions about how best to market on your social platforms? We thought so, and we want to chat strategy, tools and general tips.

Mary Foster (inbound marketing specialist), Peter Peltier (Emma Social product owner) and Jeff Slutz (content writer) will answer your social media marketing questions here in Emma Community on Friday, July 18. They’ll also pose a few questions to all of you marketing experts out there so we can all learn from each other.

Click to follow this conversation at the top-right, and you’ll receive an email notification when we begin and when a new question is asked/answered. We’ll keep the conversation going from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central before closing up shop.


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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Posted 5 years ago

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Photo of Katie Lewis

Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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And we’re live! Let’s get the conversation going. I’ll start – I’m curious to hear how often Emma users post on their social networks and whether it varies based on the specific network, like Twitter vs. Facebook.
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Brandi Leath

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I TRY to post 3 to 4 times a week.  I would LOVE to post our emma campaigns, and I do sometimes, but I don't like the way it renders on the networks, so I don't post them as often.
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Brandi Leath

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As of right now we are posting the same info across all networks, facebook/twitter mostly, and it's also because of time constraints and lack of content (and someone to create the content) but we have a plan in place to change all of that in the near future starting with a blog and pushing out content from there.
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Brandi Leath

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Also I alternate those days weekly as well. T/Th/Sat and M/W/F/Sat
(Edited)
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Hey Brandi! Are you referring to how you aren’t able to pick the thumbnail for the link preview when you post to Facebook?

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Trevor

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One way that we post our campaigns to make them look good is taking a screen shot of the campaign and then uploading that image alongside a link to the web-version. Because I agree, the thumbnail for the link preview doesn't work and/or doesn't look good.
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Lump to Laughter

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I have this issue. The image that posts when I share our newsletter on Facebook is not always the newsletter. Sometimes it can take several hours for the correct image to appear. By that time I have missed my audience opportunity.
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Brandi Leath

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Yes mostly.  99% of the time I have an awesome graphic across the top of my mailing, that would be a great image to post along with the link to the campaign.  I'm unable to choose this image, or any image rather to the posting straight from emma.  So my work around is to post the image with the link to the online view of the campaign, which is very time consuming when you could just post it straight from emma.
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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This is good feedback. We would need to build a feature to pick out all the images in a mailing (or any URL) and let users choose a specific one to display. There’s also another post on this forum where this has come up before, for your reference

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Brandi Leath

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That is an awesome idea, I'd love to see it "planned".  Thanks for the post in the forum, I'm following it now. :)
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I have used Pinstamatic so generate an image of our EMMA newsletter, then post to social media. But that requires several extra steps.  Being able to select a single image from the newsletter as the social media thumbnail would be preferable.
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Marketing Geni

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We do Facebook marketing and engagement strategies and utilize 5 posts a week. No tweeting though so cant answer that one

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Mary Foster, Alum

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How did your company decide to prioritize Facebook over Twitter? Do you typically use Facebook to try to drive traffic to your company site or just build engagement right on your company Facebook page? 
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Marketing Geni

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We believe that people on FB are in more of a comfort zone..they are more inclined to "click around" and provide information in FB mode than in twitter mode. We use Facebook ad targeting to drive traffic to a business Facebook page and then utilize forms and contests to turn that "Like" into a consumer profile..name, address, email, mobile and other business specific info. We then use THAT info to market to them outside of Facebook because now we know who they are.
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City Market, Onion River Co-op

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We try to post on Facebook once a day, sometimes twice a day.  For Twitter, we usually do 3-4 tweets per day during the week and then maybe 1-2 tweets per day during the weekend.  Pinterest we post new content from our website when it is published, and we pin others' pins (number of pins varies) maybe once or twice a week.  We post on Instagram once a day during the week, sometimes twice a day.  LinkedIn and Google+ we only post on once every 2 weeks or so.
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Brandi Leath

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That's awesome!! That's where I'd like to see our company's direction go in our sm efforts.  Right now we just don't have the manpower, people think sm marketing is easy, but they don't realize how much time is involved in creating "ENGAGING" content.  You can't just post whatever, it has to be thought out and organized.  High Five!!
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Sounds like you have your bases covered! Is there a particular network that performs better for you than another?
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City Market, Onion River Co-op

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Brandi - Thanks!  It definitely takes time and manpower - it's pretty much uses at least half of my day just managing all the different channels and content.  Always a process :-)
(Edited)
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City Market, Onion River Co-op

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Jeff - we've definitely seen a drop off in organic reach through Facebook, so I've been trying to build our other social networks to make up for the FB decrease.  Despite the drop, FB is still probably our most effective network, followed by Instagram and Twitter.
(Edited)
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Brandi and City Market: Totally agree that it takes a lot of time and effort to get the most out of social media. Do you have one person dedicated to managing your social media? And does that person (or team) work with whoever manages email marketing, or are those efforts kept pretty much separate?
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City Market, Onion River Co-op

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We have one main person (me) who manages both social media and email marketing, with help as needed (i.e. during vacations) from one or two other people, so there is crossover to some degree in the content we post on social media and in our emails. 
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Brandi Leath

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Jeff, right now I'm the only one managing social media, however I do have one person that helps push me content from other sources.  I am also the one who manages and designs our email marketing campaigns, I also manage our e-commerce site along with a team, I take/edit products photos and prepare them for the site, along with a lot of other things.

So yea...lol social media marketing needs to have someone that can dedicate at least half of their week if not all of their week to the marketing efforts.  If you can create engaging content and are able to spend the time listening to potential customers, man you can reach so many more people.  Posting alone doesn't do any good, it's all about the engagement.

We are only scratching the surface with our social media marketing efforts, but it's a lot more than what we were doing a year ago before I started here, so we are headed in the right direction! :)
(Edited)
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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Well, if that isn’t a great tweetable quote!: "If you can create engaging content and are able to spend the time listening to potential customers, man you can reach so many more people."
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Brandi Leath

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Feel free to quote me Katie!!! haha!! @brandimykle
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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City Market - Would you like access to our new social media marketing product that’s currently in beta? It may help you save time and effort by putting your email and social media marketing right next to each.
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Brandi, sounds like you need a raise! And you bring up a great point about listening. Listening to what folks are saying in the space your brand occupies is just as important as the content you create (if not more).
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City Market, Onion River Co-op

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Peter - I'd definitely be willing to take a look and give it a try!  Anything that can help coordinate our social media and email efforts would be great :-)
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Great! I'll make a note and get with you early next week to tell you more about it and get you access. :-)
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Brandi Leath

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LOL!! Thanks Jeff!! :) And yea you're right, I think it's just as important. If you listen to your customers then you can better manage the content you create for them.  If I'm a pet store and 75% of my customer's are dog owners and all I post is cat videos, how is that reaching my audience?  Knowing your audience is key.
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Brandi Leath

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Is this a public feed I can post on my twitter? There's some great content here! :)
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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Hi Brandi! Popping in here to let you know that anyone can read this conversation, so feel free to share. :) You do have to be logged into Emma Community to participate, but the content’s free for anyone.
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Brandi Leath

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Thanks Katie! I just shared it with my twitter peeps. :)
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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I'm curious to hear how Emma users are measuring success on social media. How do you determine if something was successful? Are there particular metrics that you're looking at to measure it?  
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Trevor

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I work at a national nonprofit association and our goal for social media is to be recognized as a thought leader. So we measure success by how engaging our content is, the total reach of our efforts, and how well we direct traffic to our website and blog. Currently Twitter is our most preferred and successful medium.
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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What type of content typically performs best for you?
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Trevor

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Anything visual--images, infographics, and videos--or anything that includes an emotional word, like "inspiring, exciting, intriguing," etc.
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Brandi Leath

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I LOVE THAT!!!!!
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Trevor

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Brandi--here's a great resource I use to come up with ideas for new blog titles or social media posts: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blog-post-title-templates-infographic  They're shockingly successful sometimes.

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Brandi Leath

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Thanks so much Trevor!!!!!!!! 
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Good find, Trevor. Nothing beats a good "How to" or "List" post.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Our website and our Adwords campaigns are all about lead generation, so success can be measured and compared over time. Our social media efforts are about building brand awareness -- we are not expecting to get conversions directly from Facebook or Twitter. But to the extent that social can drive traffic back to our website, we feel like we can't ignore Social, even if we can directly conversions.
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Susan@CTS

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Same for us, Ted. Social media is all about brand awareness and thought leadership for us, unless we do specific advertising that takes folks to a landing page- then we are all about conversions. Facebook was one of our largest drivers to the landing page in our FY14 recruitment campaign.
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Mississippi Main Street

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I measure success by the number of views Facebook says the post has garnered. Also, whether the post garners comments. One thing I don't like is when I share a published campaign on social media, it posts to my personal page rather than the public page I manage for our company.
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Trevor

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Yes, that's a huge consideration for me, too. I need the campaigns to publish to the company pages I manage on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google Plus. As it is now, I post all of our campaigns manually just to make sure it's done correctly.
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Hey Mississippi Main Street and Trevor, check out this Community post about sharing email campaigns in Emma to the Facebook page of your choosing. 

Also, we have a new social media marketing product we're beta testing now and if either of you are up for it and willing to provide some feedback, I'd be happy to add you to the list of customers to get beta access. 
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Mississippi Main Street

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Peter, you can add me.
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Will do, thanks! I'll follow up with you early next week on more details. 
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Brandi Leath

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Same here, views/shares/comments. 
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Marketing Geni

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Success for us boils down to conversions. Because we utilize FB with a goal of turning a fan into marketable consumer data our formula is simple...How many folks viewed our ads or posts, how many of those engaged with it, and how many of those completed a "Data Action" ie filled out a form provided email, mobile opt in etc. A 20% conversion rate is deemed successful but sometimes we have to measure the success based on the actual acquisition cost. Did it cost us more than $0.75 for a new lead? No..SUCCESS! (or whatever the threshold is)
(Edited)
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Brandi Leath

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Hey Marketing Geni...... I'd like to add you to my social network .... my twitter is @brandimykle if you'd like to add me. 
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Marketing Geni

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Hi Brandi! Thanks...you know I will!!
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Earlier we talked about how lack of time and manpower are major challenges. What are some other challenges or difficulties that you all are facing in your social media efforts?
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Brandi Leath

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Creating content that is engaging.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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My time is mostly consumed with producing fresh website content and managing our Adwords campaigns, so I have someone working with me part-time off-site to help with the social messaging.

We are facing 2 points of frustration with social media in general. The first appears to getting worse, and that is a definite drop off in reach with our Facebook page. Over time we have grown our FB followers to nearly 13,000, but find that in recent weeks our posts may only reach a few hundred unless we pay FB to boost the post. We have a very small budget for Facebook, so only do that for posts that actually get some organic traction on their own first.

The second point is one which appears to be actually improving a bit. We found it difficult to get much traction on Twitter until we grew our followers over 2,000 -- and that took a long time to do organically.  Now we're at about 2,200 Twitter followers and we're beginning to see engagement grow.
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Marketing Geni

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We always counsel our clients to write FUN attention grabbing content that is borderline business specific. Getting folks to realize every post does not need to be about selling their business or product is a constant head banger. They don't get that a Jewelry store can post a picture of a Bassett Hound puppy and get as good or a better engagement than a picture of a 1 ct yellow diamond. I agree with Brandi...content is key and also the hardest piece to put in place each time.
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Brandi Leath

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Right! So how do you get your managers on board with that? That's what is challenging for me.  There is content that I'd love to share and that is "funny", most of the time it's silly stuff that I KNOW will be engaging, but when I mention posting it the higher ups shake their head.  
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Hana E., Alum

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I think you two are hitting the nail on the head here, on a really big question about educating people who don't work in social media every day. What is that perfect balance of content?

Mark, how do you go about educating your clients on this, and is there any data or material that would help you do this? Brandi, same question for your higher-ups. 
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Yep, finding that right balance between the fun stuff and brand messaging (though they shouldn't necessarily be opposites) can be difficult. The important thing is to always be human and natural with whatever you're posting.

In terms of getting buy-in from the higher-ups, having a clear strategy and specific goals that everyone can agree on is always key. Then monitor and keep track of your results to help your bosses see what content's working to engage your audience and attract new followers. That should hopefully help them loosen up the reins on what you're posting.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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Balance is the key. If the fun stuff is the steak, I try to slip a few vegetables onto the plate from time to time, always with a link back to our website.
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Susan@CTS

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I agree. We tie our strategy back to our Mission and "Statement of Commitments" https://ctschicago.edu/about/philsophy which helps guide the content focus of our post strategy. We use the FB insights metrics to learn  more about which type of content gets our audience most engaged, and another on we love to watch is what gets SHARED! 
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Hana E., Alum

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I've heard a few people mention content as a challenge, and I'd love to learn more about that. How are you coming up with your content? How do you keep it fresh? How much is from you vs. re-posting from another source? (Also, hi Brandi and Mark! Great to see you guys on here!)
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Brandi Leath

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Hi Hana and thank you!!!!

Currently, I have someone in house pushing content to me.  I KNOW there are better ways of doing this (listening to your audience and engaging, etc.) but like I said, having the time to do it is a challenge.  
(Edited)
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I try to write a fresh blog post and add 2 or 3 new testimonials a week. This material is then generally repurposed or reformatted to share on social. I'm starting to do a bit more in Pinterest since it is such a visual platform. We'll see how that goes in the coming weeks.
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Marketing Geni

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Hana! Happy Friday... we try to live by the "teach a man to fish" strategy. There are a lot of great "pushers of content" but if our clients can learn the art of listening to the pulse of a social channel conversation and cater a custom content push that shares synergy with that content then... BAM! Alas, we still see a lot of generic content. Maybe Emma can set up a Content Concierge Department...:)
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Trevor

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We've had a lot of success increasing engagement by re-posting from other sources, which then translates in more traffic to our original content. We shoot for a 50/50 ratio, but we also don't simply hit the retweet or repost button. We "repackage" it to make it look more fresh and original, but then still tag the source to tie it back.
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Brandi Leath

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That's awesome info Ted! Thank you! It all comes down to time and manpower with us, hopefully we'll get there soon.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I should add it is both a blessing and a curse sometimes, but my managers don't often try to micromanage what I do, so I am generally free to write about things that I think our audience may find interesting. Everything is about lead generation for us. And I try to write with a personal (not a corporate-sounding) voice. So I am always looking for compelling stories to retell.
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Brandi Leath

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Awesome info guys!!!!!!!
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Susan@CTS

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I have a student helping (which is great for keeping our authentic voice) and we prepare posts about 10-14 days out, and then our leadership team likes to review and weigh in on them. It was a real drag at first to have to generate content out that far, but now it keeps us on our toes and we can add spontaneous post as we wish. It has also brought leadership along in terms of pushing content to us, which is very helpful. 
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Hana E., Alum

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This is great insight, folks.

Ted, hi and great ideas on repurposing the same content to use in multiple ways. Can be such an effective time-management tactic. Keep me posted on how Pinterest goes for you guys over at TDI.

Trevor, it's so interesting that re-posts are generating more traffic - what a cool statistic to share!

Mark, great suggestion - we'll pass it along to the concierge team :)
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Hana E., Alum

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Susan, are you using any tools to plan/schedule that far in advance? Or are you sticking with Word and Excel docs?
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Susan@CTS

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We are currently using an excel spreadsheet and Hootsuite. We just adopted the Hootsuite platform in June and I'm not completely happy with it-- therefore we still share the excel (google doc) with our social media review team every Monday so they can see whats planned.
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Brandi Leath

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I'm a HUGE advocate of MS Excel, however, I found Asana, and OMG my life was changed!!!
(Edited)
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Brandi Leath

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I also want to mention, that ever since we decided to put our social media buttons in our campaigns, we have had VERY LITTLE clicks on them.  How can we make that better?
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Trevor

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Yes! But then once we post it on our social media platforms, people have no problem sharing it at that point. Some insight from others wold be great.
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I think it is important to have the big social buttons in my email newsletter, but I would always prefer the reader link from the newsletter back to my article on the website than to our social media page. If they find the content interesting or useful to them, the social post will happen anyway.
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Brandi Leath

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Thanks Ted! That's a strategy I hadn't thought of and I love it!
(Edited)
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Susan@CTS

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Hi-- this is Susan. I'm Director of Marketing at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS). I manage all marketing efforts from email, digital, print, and social media. We currently use FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. I'm joining the discussion late, but I have read the posts from this morning and it's great stuff. I am also interested in the Beta group-- right now we are using Hootsuite, but it's not ideal.
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Hi Susan! Glad you jumped in and shared. I will definitely add you to the list for access to our new social product and follow up with you early next week. Thanks for joining us!
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Hana E., Alum

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Susan, question for you. What makes you say that your current social tools aren't ideal?
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Susan@CTS

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Hootsuite is quite costly (for us) when you try to add several team members --which was what we were after-- one place we could schedule and our reviewers could pop in to review, edit, comment and we'd all see it in real time.

To avoid the cost of adding each member, we reverted to the spreadsheet. However, when the team reviews the excel spreadsheet, we end up getting emails from each reviewer with their edits not in conjunction with other reviewers comment. Then we must make sense of all of it- make a change and send it back to the group. CLUNKY!
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Ted Hogan, Champion

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I was a little late to the party and I really need to drop off now, but I just wanted to say thank you to the team at EMMA for doing this. It is excellent conversation and insight. Please consider doing this again -- maybe as a once a month thing. EMMA rocks !!!
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Peter Peltier, Alum

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Thank you for joining us, Ted!
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Thanks for dropping by, Ted!
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Brandi Leath

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Thank you emma for the thread!!! It has been awesome, and yes I agree we should do this more often.  It also gives us the opportunity to connect with each other in the community and get to know each other better, etc.  I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL day!!!!  Time to chow down on some grub! :)
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Jeff Slutz, Official Rep

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Thanks, Brandi!
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Katie Lewis, Official Rep

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Thanks, everyone, for your participation today! Such thoughtful questions and points.

Be sure to check out our social blog posts, like this chat with some of our staffers. And give us a shout in Emma Community with any other questions! :)