What should we make of the graying of Facebook?

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Content, Facebook, Featured, social media, Twitter | 0 comments

grannynet

 

By Kurtis Wiles

Facebook began as a medium for teenagers and college students to interact, hang-out, and socialize without the necessity of a physical interaction. However, 2014 may leave Facebook singing a different tune, and marketing to a different audience.

According to a recent Social Ads Platform study, released by iStrategy Labs and published in Time Magazine, there are now over 28 million users over the age of 55 on Facebook – around an 80.4 percent increase since 2011.

On the flip side, there are now 4,292,080 fewer high-school aged users and 6,948,848 fewer college- aged users than there were in 2011, a 25.3 percent decrease and 7.5 percent decrease.

Where are all of the millennials going, and why the steady increase in older users?

The rise in people older than 55 logging onto Facebook could have something to do with simply being a loving parent. Facebook is an avenue for parents to not only monitor their children, but connect with them on a different level that no generation of people have ever explored before now.

The parenting and family connection trend has been around for some time, even an article posted on CNN.com in 2009 revealed this to be the case. Almost five years ago, a 56-year-old Houston, Texas mother is quoted as saying “We call [Facebook] our living room. We call it our living room because everybody can tell what everybody else is doing.”

Many folks are not only able to monitor the well being of their children and interact with them in a new way, but are also connecting with people they previously lost all contact with before. A simple search may now reveal a long lost pen pal or high school sweetheart. Facebook provides the need human beings have to easily connect with other people, no matter how far away, and the older generation is latching onto the significance of connecting with the past.

So what about the millennials?

Many millennials don’t view social media as a way to connect with the past as the older generation does, they are constantly seeking the next best thing, and if the iStrategy study is any indication, millennials appear to be moving on to greener social media pastures. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have all seen an increase in the number of newer, younger followers (in the past six months especially) and the bus doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

See recent statistics for Instagram and Snapchat here as well as Twitter’s recent overtaking of Facebook as “teen’s most important social network” here.

In 2014, we should see Facebook facing an interesting new challenge as attempts to integrate multiple generational marketing strategies and interface updates will have to be made to appease the older generation while keeping the millennials engaged. Facebook remains at the top of the social media food chain (with all ages) for the time being when it comes to sheer numbers, but will shifting demographics change that soon? If Facebook’s recent attempted acquisition of Snapchat proves anything, it’s that

Facebook isn’t planning to wait around and find out.

Did Google just destroy SEO?

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Content, Facebook, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, SEO, social media, social media policy, the internet is great, Twitter | 1 comment

Did Google just destroy SEO?

Welcome to the world of “Not Provided”.

In a move that has rocked the digital marketing world, Google has announced that it will encrypt all of its search results. While that may sound wonderful for privacy advocates, it torpedoes the ability of marketers and website owners to see which keywords are bringing in visitors.

Two of the top sites in our industry – Hubspot and SearchEngineLand.com –  have looked at the issue. Basically, instead of Google Analytics showing the search keyword(s) that visitors used to get to your website, Google will block that info – posting “Not Provided.” For people familiar with Google Analytics, the percentage of searches coming up under that term has grown over the past two years.

Google has said that more search data will be available as part of its Google AdWords program … hmmm.

I asked Smirk New Media Business Development Director Stephanie Bice, who oversees all things SEO and Pay-Per-Click for our clients, her reaction to this news. Here are her thoughts:

“How can you write content, unless you know what potential customers are searching for? If I’m a business and I think the keyword phrase ‘flower shop OKC’ is how customers are finding me, but they are searching for ‘flower shops in Oklahoma City,’ I won’t know that using Google Analytics.”

“Essentially, everyone (will now be) guessing what kind wording they should be using in order to drive traffic to their site.”

“Social media may end up play a bigger part in driving traffic to your site than organic searches. You’d be better off on spending your money on growing your social audience. At least you are going to be able to measure results, because of the information about the audience you will have, instead of guessing.”

Combine this with Google’s recent tweaks to it overall search algorithm and it adds up to how to get the best results: consistent social media activity and quality content.

 

 

Facebook Announces Deal with Shutterstock, Updates Newsfeed

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in Facebook, social media | 2 comments

Photo by: Cardinal de la Ville.

Photo by: Cardinal de la Ville for Socialfixer.com.

Over the past couple of days, Facebook made some announcements previewing promising new changes ahead for the social media giant.

On Thursday, Facebook announced a new deal with Shutterstock that will make millions of stock photos in its library available for Facebook advertisers to use through Facebook’s online ad creation tool.

Facebook has over 1 million advertisers and it’s clear they’re making a serious play for more. Advertisers won’t have to pay anything for high-quality stock images used in their ads because Facebook is footing the bill. Facebook’s new image uploader offers the ability to select a range of Page photos, images used in prior ads and Shutterstock images.

With one of the coolest new ad features, you’ll be able to select up to 6 images and test them out to which image helps your ad perform better. This should mean better Facebook ad targeting than ever before for brands.

Expect to see the option to integrate Shutterstock images into ads in the next few weeks.

Newsfeed

Mostly since the introduction of Timeline, Facebook’s had serious problems with Newsfeed.

How many times have you visited Facebook occasionally throughout the day and seen the same content? That happens a lot for me and its drove me to use a Facebook less and Twitter more.

The old ranking system, called EdgeRank, has finally been replaced. With the new algorithm, Facebook says its focusing on pushing fresh, “high quality” content from Pages higher up on a user’s Newsfeed.

Right now Facebook uses a technical algorithm that takes several factors into account to rank posts and create a personalized Newsfeed for each user. Important designated ranking factors for posts include the author, number of likes, comments and shares.

To understand what people really want, Facebook surveyed users and asked them what made content important to them. The new algorithm is based on those respondents and it will now consider over 1,000 different factors when determining high quality content. Content will be mainly ranked based on quality of the page’s other content and the level of profile completion.

Facebook says it tested the new algorithm on “a small segment of users” and found those users engaged more with content on their feeds and hid fewer stories.

We’ve heard similar stories before on algorithm improvement, so we’ll just have to wait and see how much the Newsfeed really improves.

Look for the new algorithm to be rolled out over the next few weeks to users on both desktop and mobile.

One other development on Facebook’s horizon: updating its mobile apps for managing Pages. With the update, Page managers can upload multiple photos to a single post, edit existing Page administrators and add new Page administrators on a mobile device. It isn’t shocking this would be a pressing priority given a recent report that showed Facebook’s mobile usage is surging and desktop use declining. Facebook says nearly half of its ad business comes from mobile devices now.

I’m both excited and skeptical about some of these planned changes. So, what do you think?

Who should handle a restaurant’s social media?

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in Featured, Marketing, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media | 3 comments

Who should handle a restaurant’s social media?

This article recently ran in the Summer 2013 issue of the Oklahoma Restaurant Association’s Oklahoma Restaurateur magazine. How businesses are managing their social media is a key issue for Smirk New Media. We hope this is the beginning of a discussion of who manages online content for a company, and how it is managed strategically and creatively. Knock yourself out in the comments. – mk

Original headline: A Tiger By The Tail: Getting a handle on social media is a challenge for restaurateurs

Social media can be a scary creature for businesses — an open door for complaints and problem based on confusing tools that would be better if they just vanished.

But the truth is that social media isn’t going away. The digital generation is growing up using websites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp as its first stop to decided whether or not to visit a restaurant and then as a quick stop to praise or complain once they are there.

This is where the fear comes in for restaurant operators. How do you best handle all of these incoming comments and questions from customers (and potential customers), while trying to get the best information out about your business? With in-house staff, an outsourced consultant or just not at all? There’s not one definitive answer, but ways to protect yourself, your business and your brand.

Some have decided to ignore social media all together, figuring it is too big of a Pandora’s Box to open. Those operators allow the conversation to go along without them and don’t track if there is any impact from a bad review or a food blogger’s rave.

Others scramble online only to put out a fire. If you watch the news, similar stories like these happen regularly. A photo posted on Facebook of an employee doing something disgusting. A horror story of bad food. After that, some restaurant may set up a presence online, just to fight the damage.

But social media needs more than just to be shut out altogether or shut down during crisis. It’s a tool that can have great benefit, day in and day out, if managed properly.

How it’s managed is the key to controlling social media and making it work as it should: As a direct connection between business and customer, which accentuates a brand, quickly solves services issues and gets more business through the door.

The debate really shouldn’t be whether a restaurant needs a social media presence, it should be how that is handled, how content is created and issues are monitored.

More and more restaurant brands are deciding to go in-house, not with a full-time marketing staff, but by adding social media management on top of the existing staff duties. Often these are shift managers, administrative assistants or even hosts and hostesses.

As a social media consultant, this raises all sorts of alarm bells. While restaurants may be able to survive with a setup like this, they definitely are sailing into dangerous waters. Here are the pros and cons of a part-time in-house social media manager:

Pros

  • They should know the brand and the product.
  • They can easily communicate with other staff and management.

Cons

  • Who is monitoring social when the staffer is doing their full-time tasks – cooking, servicing, hosting?
  • Are they skilled and trained in social media (and all of the changes that come along with the platforms), content creation (can they write well?), customer service and marketing strategy?
  • Do they know best practices?
  • Are they reliable and can they be trusted?
  • Who has control over password, account access and what’s posted? Will your brand’s social media suffer if they leave for another job?
  • Do they know how results and return on investment are calculated?

“Leaving your social brand management in the hands of someone who is not dedicated to the practice is dangerous,” says David Schwartz, a restaurant branding expert out of Nashville, “It shows a lack of appreciation of the medium and how quickly something can go spiraling downward.

“My biggest issue with this type of practice is that it sounds like an execution without a focused, strategy and plan.”

There are restaurant brands in the state which have had great success in making an investment in hiring a full-time social media marketing coordinator on staff. This works especially well for restaurants with multiple locations or groups with multiple brands.

For restaurants who want the benefits of social media, but may not have the resources of a full-time commitment, there are of course other options. One might be to develop, with outside help, a solid training and execution strategy that an in-house person could follow. Part of this strategy would be customer service and crisis plans.

Another option is to outsource your social media to an experience team of marketing and content strategists. Some operators think by doing this, they give up control of their platforms and what’s being said. That’s not the case though, as this is strategically the best of both worlds, with the brand helping craft (and approve) the content posted, while the strategists set up and monitor the accounts. Many restaurants in the Oklahoma market and beyond use this plan to get success and never miss an opportunity to promote themselves online throughout the day and never miss out when a customer is talking about them.

Social media is just another in a long line of tools to market your restaurant. How it’s used is always up to an individual operator. Just as some businesses have great ads, jingles, menus and signs, ones that show a commitment to social media strategy and execution will thrive. The only difference is social media moves a lot faster and reaches a lot more potential customers than just about anything else these days. It’s up to you to figure out how to tame it — and not be scared.

 

 

 

Three years later…

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in Content, Featured, Mike Koehler, OKC, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media, the internet is great | 1 comment

Three years later…

So here we sit, three years after the launch of Smirk New Media.

When this time of year comes and everyone scatters out of town for vacations, work slows down and businesses do what they can to tread water until school starts, I have to wonder – “what was I thinking?”

But despite being launched in the middle of the summer in the middle of the Great Recession, our little company has survived and thrived.

And there is oh-so-much more I would love to tell you about. We are fast approaching a time of incredible growth and clients I couldn’t have imagined back in the one-dude-at-Starbucks days.

In the past three years, I have seen the social media world ebb and flow, just in our market, let alone across the virtual world. Much to our great benefit, companies now understand that having a consistent commitment to the social community to going to help their business in the long run and many of them are smart and humble enough to understand that they may need help getting there.

For a while, it looked like we would have to fight every day to just be noticed in what quickly became a pretty crowded space of social media strategists in 2011. It seemed like there were a lot of shingles being hung out, which caused me a great deal of stress a couple of years ago.

But some very wise friends taught me a valuable lesson: focus on what we were doing, what Smirk New Media was all about, and deliver as best we could to the clients who were generous enough to have us. Don’t lose sleep over competitors who will come and go. Just do what you can do.

And that’s what these three years have been. Trying, delivering, stumbling, correcting, praying, writing, trusting and growing.

Smirk New Media sits in a great position today, largely by ourselves as a agency devoted solely to social media and web content. We don’t design web sites (still) and don’t try to deliver every marketing, public relations and consulting service under the sun.

Words on the web. That’s all.

That focus has allowed us to keep away from temptations and rabbit holes. There have been blind alleys and mistakes, but all our lines have been pointing upward and the future looks very bright.

If I had any advice for anyone wanting to start any business, no matter the industry and no matter the economic climate, it would be this: Surround yourself with people who love you enough to tell the truth, help people when you can and pray.

I have many, many people out there who have been patience beyond measure and supportive beyond imagination. I hope they all know just how much I appreciate them. If I haven’t told them lately, then I will tell them again today.

All of this is because of all of them. Clients, the OKC online community, friends, brothers and sisters at church, my family, my incredible, incredible team at work and the indescribable foundation at home.

The best is yet to come.

Tweetdeck Rehabs Its Look, Simplifies Functionality

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Featured, social media, Twitter | 1 comment

Tweetdeck Rehabs Its Look, Simplifies Functionality

2013

After acquiring Tweetdeck in 2011, many of Tweetdeck’s fans feared Twitter would simply shut it down after making extensive updates to Twitter’s website and features. Instead, Twitter simply narrowed Tweetdeck’s focus, worked on its web experience and gave the dashboard a makeover that launched Wednesday.

Building up to this makeover, Tweetdeck phased out its mobile app and removed Facebook integration last month. After 2 years with the company, Tweetdeck’s founder Iain Dodsworth departed Twitter last week. Tweetdeck’s transition to Twitter-only compatibility isn’t shocking because the company is Twitter-owned, but is it a smart move?

Before getting into an analysis of this strategy, here’s a recap of all the changes Tweetdeck received in this week’s makeover:

  •  Tweetdeck’s interface has lightened up visually. Since its creation, the dashboard has always been dark gray/black with washed out white writing. The background is now light gray with black type. In some ways, the new look is an uncanny fusion of Hootsuite and USA Today’s site design.
  • They’ve relocated the dashboard menu from the top of the screen to the left side
  • The menu features some new options in the redesign. You can expand the menu to take a better look at all of its options. The menu now features an option to look at all your scheduled tweets, another feature similar to Hootsuite.
  • Each columns include and drop-down option giving you the option to search individual columns for keywords or users.
  • Every “Home” icon represents a main timeline for one of your accounts. An “@” sign signifies mentions of your account name. TweetDeck dashboards with multiple accounts will list multiple “@”s. Any accounts tracked in columns will also appear as “@”s.
  • Adding columns to your dashboard just got easier. The “Add Column” button is now part of the left menu, below the Column List. You can create columns based on any of nine different tweet facets, including “Mentions,” “Lists,” “Activity,” and search.
  • With the “Search” bar you can still search for other users, tweets or keywords, and to build a new column based upon search results, but it is now a part of the left-hand menu.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck have been rivals since they were both launched in 2008. These completely different social media dashboards are often compared and viewed as rivals. Users managing more than one social media account often choose between these two tools. In actuality, these dashboards fulfill completely different objectives.

I’d liken the Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck rivalry to tennis legend Roger Federer and the one-time American champ Andy Roddick. While in his prime, Federer dominated on every playing surface with a variety of superior skills, but Roddick’s Grand Slam success was primarily limited to grass courts and his record breaking fast serves that helped him reach multiple Grand Slam finals. These two were often compared, their matches highly anticipated and often filled with nail biting play. In reality, Federer defeated Roddick 21 times out of their 24 career matches. There was a contest, but Roddick, the underdog, never realized the heights of success he desired.

If Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are competing for best social media dashboard and management tool, Hootsuite will win nearly every time. Hootsuite has better analytics, compatiability with just about every relevant social platform out there and features that allow you to professionally manage multiple accounts. Tweetdeck isn’t trying to compete anymore. It’s trying to provide users the best comprehensive Twitter management dashboard.

In reality, most people using and monitoring Twitter need to do the same with their Facebook profiles. A lot of users tweeted their negative feelings when the ability to post to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously was removed, but will these changes result in a mass exodus for Tweetdeck’s core fanbase who miss Facebook’s integration?

I’ve used Tweetdeck for my personal use for years, but never professionally. Professionally, myself, my company and coworkers have partnered with Hootsuite and use it in our daily work.

Tweetdeck is a completely free service and in my opinion adequately provides features that help users have a better Twitter experience in personal use. Hootsuite does offer a free option as well, but a lot of its premium features are only available at a cost. Free features are important to the personal, casual Twitter user.

I use Tweetdeck to monitor my personal Twitter account and things that I’m personally interested in. It’s inconvenient that they lost Facebook integration, but it’s not a deal breaker for me. I use Facebook and Twitter differently. I use the different platforms to connect with different audiences. I use Facebook primarily to connect with personal friends and family. I use Twitter to connect with my community, make professional connections, stay informed and join in on global conversations. I really only need dashboard features for Twitter to monitor my tweets, scheduled messages, new followers and people that engaging with me.

I love having my personal profiles and the professional accounts I manage on separate dashboards. It makes me feel more safe when I’m using Twitter personally and helps me ensure I’ll never post a personal message on a brand’s profile. I don’t miss out on the Tweetdeck app because the Twitter app’s been approved and adequately allows me to use my personal Twitter account on my mobile.

So, what do you think? Do you think Tweetdeck’s makeover is enough to reenergize its fan base and provide better functionality to its users?

 

 

How you can help Oklahomans

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Featured, OKC, Oklahoma, Our Clients | 0 comments

How you can help Oklahomans

By Stephanie Bice

The devastation in Oklahoma yesterday is almost unimaginable. I’ve lived through this before, and even wrote about it. Oklahoman’s are amazing people. Any time tragedy strikes, we rise up and take action. It’s a great feeling to know so many people have my back if the need calls.

Many of my readers ask: How can I help? Non perishable donations are always great, but oftentimes monetary donations can be used for the weeks and months to come when needed the most. Here’s a list of current organizations you can donate to:

(As of May 21st, 9am)

This is by no means a comprehensive list – but it’s a start. Have other organizations you want to see listed? Leave a comment.
Thank you friends.

All Hail the Power of Hashtags

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in social media, Twitter | 0 comments

Hashtag Pic
According to a new study by RadiumOne, 58% of social media users use hashtags on a regular basis. Of the study participants, 71% that admitted using hashtags were women and 44% were middle-aged. By this standard, hashtags are mainstream and one of the main ways people choose to quickly explore and share content.
RadiumOne Study Graphic

A hashtag is a word or a phrase following the # symbol without spaces. Hashtags were created by Chris Messina, now a Google employee, on Twitter in August 2007. Chris was searching for a way to group conversations with his followers on Twitter. Today, Twitter and other social media platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, have fully integrated the hashtag and it’s the easiest way to search for and find out what Twitter users are currently talking about.

While the hashtag feature has been a driving force behind Twitter’s popularity, it’s also been the cause of a $50 million lawsuit against Twitter. In October 2012, a French court ordered Twitter to reveal specific online users tweeting anti-Semitic hashtags and the social media giant refused. Following the refusal, the Union of Jewish French Students filed the $50 million lawsuit on March 20. There are French laws forbidding hate speech in any forum. Twitter contends that it’s an American based company abiding by American laws and policies.

Hashtags have the power to put posts in front of the people who will care about them.  When utilized and circulated corrected, hashtags can be a powerful force in the community. The hashtag’s true power is its ability to direct millions of eyes to one conversation. Then, allow people to interact with the conversation and spread it even further.

In March, an Oklahoma City family used Twitter and a hashtag to rally community support behind an 18-year-old cancer patient denied life saving treatment by her insurance company. The hashtag #ApproveLorelei went viral in the community and was tweeted out hundred of times by Oklahoma residents. This event compelled the insurance company to reverse their decision within 24 hours.

Recently, Facebook announced plans to possibly integrate the hashtag into its social universe. Facebook already allows users to tag themselves with people at specific places, but public posts aren’t currently indexed by keyword the way the hashtag does. Hashtags could even be searchable with Graph Search.

Brands are starting to take hashtags more seriously and integrate them into their social media strategy. More businesses need to get on board. In the study by RadiumOne, 43% of respondents use hashtags to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest. During the Super Bowl, Hyundai implemented a hashtag campaign to drive social media traffic to a video advertisement. Of those visitors, 70% of the consumers that clicked on the ad viewed the full video.

To be effective, hashtags have to simply reflect your existing branding. They have to be easily memorable and integrated into marketing material. People need to know the specific phrasing to include in a post. If the hashtag isn’t phrased or spelled correctly, it won’t be added to the larger conversation. Use your hashtag as an opportunity to make statement or bring some appropriate levity to a campaign or an event. Allow your supporters or customers to spread your messages to all of their followers.

Social Influencers: An Undervalued Resource for Advertisers

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Content, social media, the internet is great | 1 comment

Connecting with your audience has evolved so much over the past decade. When the right people promote posts and they go viral, they can circulate across the world in minutes. Advertisers are still struggling to invest in word of mouth advertising and harness the power of influential community members.

With digital marketing budgets on the rise, it’s more important than ever to use every resource to reach as many people as possible.

Compliments of MBA in Marketing, a new info graphic may provide the insight advertisers need to finally get onboard with social influencers. This info graphic shows how social media influencers impact purchasing behaviors amongst peers.

social-influencers-infographic