Tagged: twitter

Looking into the Future: 7 Social Media Predictions for 2016

 

2015 was a huge year for social media innovations. Marketers once again saw changes to their algorithms, leading to a need for increased paid promotions. Facebook also continued their policy of curtailing posts that seem too promotional, making the number one social media site even more difficult to to budget for.

Twitter’s growth really began to stall in 2015 after seeing its peak growth in August 2014. Marketers began to shift their focus from this platform to another emerging and popular site, Instagram. With its 400 million monthly active users, Instagram became the new hot spot for reaching an audience in 2015.

But 2015 has come to an end and the changes to the social media landscape happening more and more frequently. Here’s what to expect for 2016.

     1. More Powerful Social Media Searches

In November, Pinterest announced a new search tool allowing users to zoom in on specific objects in a Pin’s image and search for similar objects or patterns. It works like Google Image search, allowing users to find products in a new way. In 2016, expect other platforms to catch on to the idea of new and improved ways to search for content and technologies to change the way we use these sites.

     2. Live Social Broadcasts

Periscope didn’t exist in 2014, but by the end of 2015 it had become Apple’s iPhone App of the Year. With more than 10 million users, Periscope’s unique live broadcast abilities have become the new way to interact with consumers. In 2016, Periscope will continue to grow, so expect to see other sites (Facebook!) to find ways to capitalize on this new technology.

     3. Buy! Buy! Buy!

Leave it to Facebook to find a new way to take our cash. In 2014, Facebook started a trend in social media that we felt through last year. Buy Buttons have recently become part of the interface of Instagram and Pinterest, so expect to start seeing these ads more often in your feeds and your budget.

     4. Video at the Forefront

Humans are visual beings, and we like videos. It’s the easiest way for us to learn and retain knowledge. Cisco estimates that by the beginning of 2017, 69% of all consumer internet traffic will be video, so marketers need to be starting a budget for video production for 2016.

     5. User Privacy Concerns

In 2015, about 32 million Ashley Madison users found out the hard way that privacy isn’t necessarily guaranteed online. With one of the largest hacks on record still fresh in their minds, social media users are now looking for assurances that their private information is, in fact, private. Expect to see major increase in protections offered from Facebook, Instagram and any other sites that store personal information like birthdates and credit card info.

     6. Incoming Messages

According to Forbes, the frequency of incoming messages are up almost one third from 2014. Consumers are catching on to a new way of connecting with companies, so expect to keep seeing an increase on incoming messages throughout the platforms. Don’t be one of the estimated 82% of brands who do not respond. Pay attention in 2016 and engage in a new way.

     7. Easier Publishing on Instagram

Instagram can be a time-consuming nightmare for social marketers simply because it must be used in real-time and is exclusive to mobile devices. If nothing else changes from last year, let’s hope Instagram has made Post Scheduling their New Year’s Resolution for 2016.

Shortcuts to Avoid in Social Media

042313-shortcutShortcuts are something that are used in almost every facet of life. Be it keyboard shortcuts or a quicker way to get home from work, people like to do things the easiest way possible.  We have automation tools that allow for advanced programming of Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and even Instagram.  But where do we draw the line between convenience and practicality?  Does automation of posts deserve the bad reputation it has? We personally feel that automation has it’s place, but it require supplemental monitoring to make it effective.  Here we are going to go through some social media shortcuts that you should avoid with your pages.

1) Pre-Scheduling for Events

This seems like a no brainer, but you should avoid scheduling your posts in advance of a real time event.  If, for example, you have programmed tweets talking about a specific driver in an upcoming race, it could backfire on you if something about the event changes. The driver could be injured before the race or the weather may cause a delay.  Stick to posting real time updates on events if you cover them to prevent this from happening.

2) Auto-Replies

One on one communication should never be automated. Whether it’s thanking someone for following you or answering a message, you should always do these yourself. There is no better way to turn off a new follower than to send them an automated thank you.

3) Posting the Same Message Across Multiple Networks

This is where automation gets the most flak from critics.  A lot of times when using automation tools to schedule messages in advance, you can schedule the same message across multiple networks. For example, you may send out a message as a tweet and as a Facebook update.  Unfortunately, this is pretty noticeable to followers. After all, it’s still a little weird seeing a lot of hashtags on Facebook if you are cross posting from Instagram or Twitter.  We recommend tailoring each message you send out for the network you are posting on.  What makes for a good tweet may not translate that easily to Google Plus and so on.

4) Sending Connection Invites Without Personalizing

For networks like LinkedIn, you can send a message along with your invitation to connect.  There is a standard message already in the template, but you should take the time to make it personal. People will know if you just sent them the boiler plate message, so make sure to put your own spin on it.  Explain why you want to connect or how being connected to you will be beneficial to that person. Don’t risk looking like a spammer with the standard message.

password5) Using A Simple Password

Most people use the same password for everything. Be careful of doing this, especially with an easy password. Social accounts get hacked all the time for one reason or another, so stay on top of your accounts with solidly difficult passwords.  Also be sure to change them every so often to keep your accounts as secure as possible. The process for getting your accounts back after they’ve been hacked can be difficult and sometimes not possible. Better to be safe than sorry in this case.

6) Buying Likes

Did you know that some companies offer ‘likes’ for a price? These businesses create thousands of fake accounts to generate likes for their clients. Facebook has caught onto this scheme and actually punishes pages that do this by limiting their organic reach.  Avoid buying into any scam that is supposed to bring you likes on your page, it will end up doing more harm than good.

7) Only Retweeting/Sharing

Retweeting is good for networking and spreading other’s messages if they are in line with your brand. The same goes for sharing on Facebook.  Only retweeting and sharing, however, shows your audience that you don’t have anything original or unique to offer. Use the retweet and share buttons sparingly so as not to oversaturate your followers. Otherwise why should someone follow you when they can get the message from the other source?

8) Inviting Every Friend to Like Your Pages

Annoying your friends with constant invites to like pages they aren’t the targeted market for will actually hurt your reach. You want to make sure you are reaching the right audience for your brand with your ad campaigns.  Stick to trying to gain a following of appropriate customers.

tagging-on-facebook9) Tagging Irrelevant People

This is probably one of the worst things you could do with your social pages. Under no circumstances should you tag people in an update that have nothing to do with your message. Get permission from anyone you want to tag before you associate them with your company and only then tag them if they are relevant.  You will get more exposure by tagging, but it will backfire if it doesn’t make sense.

These are just a few things you should avoid with your pages. Social media management isn’t easy, but if you make sure you aren’t taking the wrong shortcuts, you will do just fine. Good luck and happy posting.

 

Big Brand Facebook Tactics that Work for Any Business

Well-Known World Brand LogotypesThe most challenging part of social media management is staying active and engaging. Big brands like Oreo, Nike and Target have dedicated marketing departments that spend all their time coming up with great fresh content. Following the cues of these brands is something any business, no matter how small, can do.  We are going to go over some of the ways these companies keep their fan base coming back, so that you may be able to make your pages more engaging.

1) Holidays and Events

Heineken held a Instagram scavenger hunt content ahead of the U.S. Open Men’s final for a chance to win tickets. Fans had to search for clues in a mosaic of Instagram photos that would ultimately lead them to nine pairs of tennis tickets. In order to prove they had found the next clue, users had to comment on the correct photo with the codeword “#SHHH.” You can host promotions or games through your own social media channels the same way while capitalizing on an upcoming event or holiday.  Reward your fans for participation and they will continue to engage with you.

2) Crowdsourcing

Facebook and Instagram are great places to ask people for content. By asking your fans for their input, you can easily generate new content that is centered around your customers. Again, reward your fans for their input by acknowledging them and showing appreciation.  Someone take a picture of using your product? Feature their photo on your own pages as a shout out. People really appreciate being noticed by brands or companies that they use, so share the love with your fan base.

3) Fun

Humor is a great way to humanize your brand. It shows that your company can have fun and wants to share that with others.  Skittles and Old Spice do a very good job of engaging fans with nonsensical humor. If you can make your fans laugh they are much more likely to share your content and possibly let it go viral.

70-20-104) 70/20/10

Almost all the major brands that have successful social pages follow the rule of 70/20/10. That means the 70% of their content is information that is valuable to their followers in some way. This can be tips, tricks, contests, Q&A chats or anything else that does more for your customer than it does for you.  20% of your content should be shared from other sources to show that you acknowledge other companies, brands or even your fans. Share articles written by industry publications, or user submitted photos and videos. The last 10% of your content should be self-promotional. This is where you show off your products and services.  Apply this rule to your content and see it take off.

5) Customer Service

Daily upkeep of your social pages mostly includes responding to fans. Liking or encouraging good comments, answering questions and handling complaints is something that should be done often. This humanizes your brand and shows that you are active and involved with your followers. Take the time to respond to everything you get and make sure to tag the relevant people.

6) Consistancy

Quite simply, you should make sure that there is at least one post every few days on all of your social networks.  If you focus on just a few, it’s ok to post every day.  The most important thing is that you are consistently making posts so your fans know your page isn’t dead.  Take care not to over post or you’ll risk driving away your audience.

7) Storytelling

Video is a great way to tell your brand’s story. Oreo is definitely a brand who has utilized video to it’s fullest extent. They generally keep their videos simple using stop motion and viewer submitted content to engage their fans.  Your videos don’t have to be long or big productions thanks to Vine and Instagram Video.  These networks are free to use and are easy to navigate.  You can also use hashtags to categorize your posts and get your message out to a wider audience.

Four-seasons8) Capture the Seasons

As the seasons change, capture the feel of each one.  Fans know you are current and thinking about something other than your business if you play into the seasons of the year. Tie your brand or company into your messages. Change your profile picture or cover photos to keep with the changing times.

There are many ways to keep your audience engaged like the big guys do if you are willing to get a little creative. Play around with your posts to see what resonates most with your fans.  It’s all trial and error. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. There really is no wrong answer on how to best connect with your followers.  Take risks and you may see them pay off in the long run.  Good luck and happy posting!

Choosing the Right Network for Your Business

Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereWe spend quite a bit of time explaining what to do and what not to do when it comes to your social media strategy.  From what times to post, how to use certain networks and how to maximize your pages engagement, we like to cover our bases in social media.  We haven’t, however, really talked about choosing the social networks that best fit your business.  We strongly advise against joining every social network with your business because you will end up spreading yourself too thin. Instead, focus on the networks that are most active for your industry and will suit your business best. I’m going to break down each of the most popular networks by what they can do for you.

Facebook: The most popular social network across the board, so it would be very advantageous to have a page here if you already don’t.  Facebook offers the ability to post various multi-media like photos and videos with ease. Another perk is that Facebook has it’s own metrics built in for easy monitoring, not to mention you can schedule your posts in advance. Having an active presence on Facebook is essential for small and large businesses alike.

Twitter: Has a large population as well, but more for updates and news. If you are interested in branching out, Twitter can help you reach a less targeted audience than Facebook. This is also the birthplace of the hashtag, so utilize them if you are going to tweet.

Instagram: Very popular with millennials due to heavy visuals. Recently introduced 15 second video capability to much success. Great for businesses that have tangible products or services. Also uses hashtags to reach a broader audience.

LinkedIn: Professional networking site. Profiles of users are based around careers and exchanging information.  Establish yourself as an expert in your industry here by getting involved in groups.

google-plus-1Google+: Not as many active users as other sites but great for the technical crowd.  LOTS of SEO benefits by Google automatically indexing any content posted to Google+. The interface is similar to Facebook for multi-media postings, so be sure to link your website with lots of images.

Pinterest: Like Instagram, a good tool for brand exposure with visual elements of products, services, etc. Followers can repin your pins, so great for putting on contests. Can be used to drive traffic to your website.

Youtube: The second largest search engine after Google, Youtube is a powerful social networking tool using video. Showing off your work, doing a product demo, or highlighting customer testimonials all make for great video and are a worthwhile investment for your brand.

We’ve just scratched the surface of what social networks can do for you, so be sure to look for more in-depth breakdowns of social media marketing on our Youtube channel or here on our blog.  Good luck and happy networking!

Reasons Your Content Isn’t Working

Hand holding a Social Media 3d SphereSo you think you’ve tried everything with your social media marketing plan but you still can’t get your pages to take off? Well worry not.

Plenty of people have found their social media falling flat in the last year, mostly due to the many changes that effected the social media landscape.

Facebook and Google changed the way their algorithms work, Instagram added video and Twitter… is still Twitter. You are should be thinking about “farming” customers instead of “hunting” them. Even if you are creative and thoughtful with your content, there are still reasons why your current strategy might not work.

1. You Aren’t Being a Problem Solver

In this day and age anyone with a question immediately goes to the internet (read Google) for an answer. Blogs are a great way to solve peoples problems before they even know they had them.  That’s why list blogs are so popular, because they often walk people through their problem with step by step solutions. Problem solving shows your audience that you know what they want, thusly more engagement always surrounds posts of this type. Establish yourself as the go to source for answers by putting answers out there while you wait for the questions.

2. You Don’t Use Images

We cannot stress this point enough, but IMAGES increase ENGAGEMENT substantially.  Audiences would much rather read an article that has more pictures than words because it communicates faster.  Hardly anyone has the time to read a 2000 word blog post, but people will check out a 500 word post that has 20 pictures as examples.  People want to be visually stimulated, not sucked into a word jungle, so with everything you post, make sure the pictures are good and present.

3. Your Community Doesn’t Care Social-Media-Listening-Image-two

Is the content you are producing for your community or is it what you think it wants? Knowing who your audience is and what they care about is the cornerstone to any marketing strategy. If you are giving your audience what they want, your content should be successful.  Use the analytics tools that most social networks have to learn more about your target demographic and which of your posts gets the most engagement.  This should allow you to understand where your audience is coming from and where to give them what they want.  Remember, not all content is good for every channel.  If your community is most active on certain networks, save your best content for that without neglecting the other platforms you use.

Social media management is a full time job because content creation is no joke.

However, the best content in the world goes no where without a good strategy to reach your audience and deliver what they want. Always listen to your feedback and don’t forget the pictures.  Good luck!

 

Social Media Myths Busted

MythbustingIt’s now 2014 and social media is easily one of the most talked about topics in the last decade. Thousands of people are now “experts” on the subject and will offer you conflicting reports on what you should and shouldn’t do on social media channels.  What isn’t talked about much are the myths associated with social media use and how you can bust them.  Here are the most talked about myths in social media and how you can break them.

1) Social media marketing has no ROI

With so many users online, how could social media not increase your ROI if you are using the channels effectively? Reaching as many customers and potential new ones as possible with relevant information that will interest your audience will definitely bring in ROI. Make sure you are putting your best content out there for the benefit of the customer, not to make them buy something.

2) The More you Join the Better

The wonderful thing about social media is the number of choices and options to use for platforms.  Your instinct is to join as many of the different networks as possible to increase your visibility, but unless you have a lot of free time to keep these channels active, it’s best to stick to a few that you really understand. Pick the channels that are best suited for your content and focus on making them great.

3) You need more posts to be successful

Number of posts does not automatically equal success. In all actuality, there is a fine line between posting too little and too much.  Stick to relevant, quality posts every so often without spamming your customers or it will negatively impact your page.

4) Monitoring your social pages is not important

We cannot stress this enough. It is VERY important to monitor the growth and status of all the social channels that you manage. How can you tell what content is successful without checking on your metrics at least once a week? You can’t, which is why monitoring your content is so vital to the growth of your pages.

cash_cowright15) Social Media is a cash cow

The point of having social media pages for your business is to connect your with people, not to make direct sales or fundraise.  This simple concept escapes many businesses because they want to see direct results from their efforts.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work this way because it goes against the first tenant of social media, which is to be SOCIAL.  You should see an increase in indirect sales and customer satisfaction with your product if you are managing your pages correctly, but direct sales from social media will be rare.

Social media can be scary and daunting, but don’t get caught up in misinformation on how to best manage your pages.

If you keep it simple, monitor your content and listen to your audience it should be a breeze.

 

What to Ask a Marketing Agency

shutterstock_104707244We know that managing your company’s social media pages can be a time consuming task.

There are many media management firms that will take over your pages for a price. If you are thinking about outsourcing your social media marketing to an outside agency, there are several things you should consider before turning your pages over.

Firstly, can the agency use their influence to gain more traction for your brand and reputation? Ask about their understanding of influence and how to use it for media marketing. Does the agency have any connections that overlap to your industry? Do they represent competitors?

Don’t write off an agency just because they represent your competitor, as they should be constantly monitoring any brand they represent, and therefore should be in tune with the most cutting edge marketing solutions.

Another thing you should know is that the best user-generated content is usually produced by professionals.  Agencies generally employ copywriters who’s sole job is to write copy, or content, for publishing on various channels, be it blogs, facebook posts or tweets.  This is one of the benefits of outsourcing your social media and should be considered.  For most small business’s, copywriting is not something with a dedicated job position, so the time and skill to write good content is often overlooked or done poorly.

The last thing you should ask is if the agency will focus on specific digital channels for your business or try to cover all of them.

The best marketing strategy is to hone in on what will work for your business and not try to spread yourself thin.

Not every business is visual enough to warrant having an Instagram account but may benefit from a Pinterest page instead. Focusing your best content on select channels will ensure your audience is getting the most out of it, so make sure the strategy fits your business.

Third party marketing agencies exist to professionally put out creative content related to your business. If this is something your business is considering, don’t be afraid to ask what they will do for you.  After all, that’s why you will be paying them, not the other way around.  Putting your reputation in the hands of an outside party can be daunting, but if you find the right agency, it could be a match made in heaven.

How to Respond to a Social Media Crisis

crisis_managementSOSDo you know what to do in the event of a social media crisis? How do you defend yourself and your brand online? We’ve covered how to prevent social media meltdowns before, but now we will cover what to do when it happens to you.

Remember that your brand reputation matters, online and off, so it’s important to know who your critics are and where they are coming from.

Are they an upset customer? How about a competitor? Or is it just a troll who is seeking attention but no real solution?

First and foremost you should act quickly.  Avoid sitting on your hands waiting for answers and do your best to respond quickly and appropriately to any concern or criticism.

Next, take charge of the situation and assure your fans that you are in control of the crisis.  You will put people at ease by not only addressing their concerns quickly, but letting them know you have a good grasp of the problem.

You should be prepared to handle the reality of the situation and deal with the facts.  If someone is critiquing your product or a customer experience they had, allow them to vent but also try to rectify the problem at hand by engaging with them.  Dealing with the crisis as it arises will show others that you aren’t just trying to let it blow over.

To avoid any misconceptions, use all of your company resources to communicate what has happened and how you are going to fix it.  Encourage dialogue before others have a chance to spread negativity like wildfire.  Again, engage with the critics and nay-sayers before they accuse you of ignoring the problems they have.

reputationLastly, you should make sure you deliver on what you promise to do.  If you are handling customer concerns, do what you need to do make them happy.  Allow people to come back and say that you handled the crisis well instead of poorly.

There are many large and small companies that have made mistakes on social media, so don’t beat yourself up when they happen.

Remember that mistakes are part of learning and the experiences that don’t break you make you stronger.  This is especially true of crisis situations.  Make these moments your time to really shine and handle anything that comes your way.  You will be happy that you did.

The “Right Time” to Publish Content

It’s odd to start an article with the phrase “the right time to…”, because there really is no right and wrong in social media.  There is a large grey area around what works and what doesn’t because there is no predicting viral posts.

There is, however, a way to figure out what times are right for YOU.

A great place to start with any social measurement is checking your network analytics.  Facebook has Insights to help you see how your posts do and when they do best.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 2.40.46 PM

Check here weekly to monitor how your posts have been doing and adjust your schedule as necessary to maximize your reach. Pay close attention to what kind of posts get the most engagement and try to post those during your peak user times.

Other social networking sites don’t have built in tools like Facebook to view your metrics, however, there are services that range from free to expensive that will give you everything you need to know about your social accounts.

Regardless of how you choose to monitor your metrics, you should make sure it is being done.  Experimenting with your post times and days is the only way to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  Try making a post on the weekend and making a similar post during the week.  Change up the times of day that you post. Trial and error will determine what your audience will see more of, so don’t be afraid to try new things to get engagement.  If a post doesn’t do as well as you thought, don’t be discouraged. Instead take it as a learning experience about what not to do in the future.

Marketing business sales

After a few months of observing your own trends with your content, you should be able to pick up a discernible pattern.

Follow your own data and tailor your posting schedule to the trends.  Don’t take someone’s word about the best times to post because they can only speak to their content, not yours.  So get out there and put your pages under the microscope.  Good luck!

How to Do an Instagram Scavenger Hunt

instagram-contest-usopen-cropDoing a user scavenger hunt on Instagram is a great way to not only get awesome audience engagement, but to differentiate your business as an organization that knows how to use social media successfully.

Not to mention, it’s a fun way to generate great content.

Instagram is one of the best visual social media platforms, so use that. It can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it.  Depending on the audience reach and potential involvement, it generally makes things a lot easier to manage if you keep the rules simple. Here’s one way to develop a scavenger hunt with limited hassle that boosts your social media presence across multiple platforms.

  1. Establish your rules and prizes. What is needed to win? You could choose a list of things that need to be photographed to win. Make sure you include a way for you to find the images like tagging your user name and using a event specific hashtag.  Also, you have to give people a reason to participate.  Small or large, people love free stuff. Prizes can range from actual goods to a shout out or mention on your page.
  2. Figure out a way to distribute clues. This is where the cross platform social media usage comes in.  Plan out specific times or days when you will put the clues out and decide which platform to use.  Facebook and Twitter work well and will give your new fans a reason to follow your accounts.  Keep in mind that too many Facebook posts can turn off fans that aren’t participating, so if you are going to have a lot of clues, maybe stick to tweeting.
  3. Promote, Promote, Promote. If you want to have a good contest, make sure the word gets out about what you are doing. Create a cool graphic or several to put out across all your social channels leading up to the actual challenge.  Visuals are a lot more eye-catching and memorable than plain text. If you are centering around a specific live event, put out flyers or post cards with the information so people have a paper guide.  Engagement starts before the hunt is on.
  4. Monitor and Pay Attention. A scavenger hunt is exciting and should be a fun experience for your company.  Enjoy watching the submissions that come in and pay close attention to who’s achieving your goals.  If people are having a hard time meeting specific rules, make it easier by altering them or giving extra help with clues.  Hunt’s where no one wins are not only embarrassing, but discourage potential new fans from liking your company.  Stay timely with choosing your winners. If it’s first come, first serve, make sure you know who’s first by staying on top of submissions.
  5. Award prizes and thanks your participants.  This seems like a no-brainer, but people enjoy being rewarded.  Feature your winners or even non-winning submissions on your website or social media pages.  Your brand will benefit from the exposure as well as the gratitude. Photo scavenger hunts are an excellent source of content centered around your brand and image, so use that to your advantage.

 

Companies big and small are experimenting more with exciting and unique ways to increase engagement across social media channels. Research what works and what doesn’t.  Success marketing campaigns are often simple but effective.

Don’t be afraid to walk off the beaten path and make your ideas your own.

You may be surprised by how popular your campaigns become.  Good luck!