Category: social media

20 Apr

Why Instagram wins: Quality content is its cornerstone

Mike Koehler digital content, Instagram, Snapchat, social media, social media content 0 Comments
Instagram seeks quality content from its users
Shooting photos of food – no matter how many times they have to do it to get it right – shows how much value Instagram users put into the quality of their content..

In the years since social media first burst onto the scenes, there’s always been a jostling among the platforms to prove which is best, most popular and actually making a profit. Facebook has emerged as the giant, but that doesn’t mean the second place hasn’t turned into a mad scramble.

At Smirk New Media, we preach that your audience should dictate the platforms your business uses. It’s still true and the cornerstone of many strategies, but when it comes to walling off the contenders from the pretenders, what comes next?

In the case of Instagram vs. Snapchat, it’s the burden of quality.

I’ve been using both channels more over the past year, consuming Snapchat Stories, before Instagram replicated the concept, then continuing to watch them butt heads day after day.

Instagram has always been the better product, both for the user and for an advertiser, as well as an exceptional experience. Why? Because when you step into the Instagram mindset, part of that is an expectation is to post great photos. It’s also about extra takes of the overhead shots of your salad, snagging the best Oklahoma sunset and, of course, the kids.

Something clicks when a user is on Instagram that doesn’t click when they are on Snapchat. Maybe it’s because Snapchat still carries around its grimy reputation that it’s not a showcase of the photos as much as it is of immediacy? That’s all fine and good until they compete on equal ground on something like stories and pursue brands.

A story that tells an experience – a trip to the Oklahoma City Thunder game or a special trip with your family – has so much more vitality on Instagram. When a brand approaches both, ready to spend dollars to promote quality content, they are going to choose (demographics being equal) where quality is built into the social media community.

During this battle with Snapchat, Instagram continues to survive, thrive and innovate under the protective parentage of Facebook. And with more than a billion users worldwide, Facebook remains the undisputed giant of social media, but Instagram is quickly becoming its most gifted and talented child.

 

24 Mar

To post or not to Post

Lauren Ashpole digital advertising, Marketing, Services, Social, social media, social media strategy, strategy 0 Comments

To post or not to post — that is the question. Tis nobler on social media to suffer the wrath of an audience than to post nothing at all. And by posting incorrectly? To die; to fail.

We won’t continue to quote Hamlet, but what an outstanding guy. In this part of the play, Hamlet is debating his own life and, to the extreme, what your brand is doing if they don’t have a social media presence — slowly killing themselves.

Mike Koehler, Smirk’s president and chief strategist, spoke to students about managing brand social media accounts at the PRSSA Regional Conference on Feb. 26.

“Social media is the Walmart greeter of your brand,” said Koehler. “Consumers are researching brands online and social is their first stop.”

Why does Walmart have greeters? Even if you had a horrible shopping trip, which could never happen at Walmart… there is someone with a smile telling you to “Have a great day!”

Consumers look to your social for your positive presence, how active you are within the community, what values you have or don’t have. It is your audience’s introduction to your brand.

Let your brand speak for itself. Publish content that reflects your brand. If you’re a dog shelter you don’t need to celebrate National Lollipop Day. Is there a way to make that event relevant to your brand? Maybe.

“In honor of National Lollipop Day, we are partnering with Lulu’s Lollipops. Proceeds from each lolli purchase today will help place homeless pets in forever homes.”

Every piece of content your brand features should pass two simple tests:

  • Is this relevant to my brand?
  • Does this add value to my audience?

 

Anything less than this and you are training your audience not to pay attention when you appear in their feed.

 

Some brands believe a lack of social activity will shelter them from negative reviews. When users critique your brand on Facebook, even if you don’t have a Facebook page, it will still tag your company and appear when other users search for you. Your active presence and timely responses speak volumes to users researching your brand.
Let us help you discover your voice. Smirk helps industries of all kinds find their voice online and connect with customers. For any questions about elevating your social presence, contact us about setting up a consultation.

13 Mar

Facebook Stories : Snapchat’s Evil Twin

Lauren Ashpole digital advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Marketing, Social, social media 0 Comments

They’ve done it again.

After numerous attempts, Facebook has created something to try and outrun Snapchat for good: Facebook Stories. The feature is being tested in Ireland right now with plans to launch in other countries soon.

Facebook Stories are based on Snapchat’s original format. Users can take photos, film videos, and add geofilters. Your friends can tap through your story and posts will disappear after 24 hours. Stories will appear at the top of the app right below the search tool and above the status update box. You may also respond to a story with a private message.

Facebook has two advantages over Snapchat that could help Stories have a successful launch: significantly more daily users and the fact that it’s an older, well-established platform that appeals to a much wider audience. Facebook has 1.5 billion daily active users while Snapchat only has 150 million. For comparison, Instagram Stories – launched in August 2016 – has 150 million daily users.

For most brands, Facebook is a necessity, as it’s where the majority of their audience lives online. With this feature, brands could give established audiences a look behind the scenes into the culture of their company. Facebook Stories could allow brands to be more clear and transparent than ever before: “Customers connect with emotion, originality and sensory details — all elements of a compelling story on any platform,” said Smirk’s Managing Director Allie Carrick. “Facebook Stories is a step in the right direction for brands to give users the cohesive, behind-the-scenes stories they want to see.”

How could ads play into Facebook Stories? Less people are wanting to see fewer advertisements their News Feed and because of this Stories could be a new place for sponsored content. Instagram has taken advantage of their Stories feature by recently introducing video advertisements that appear when you move between users’ stories. Facebook already has short advertisements playing before and during videos on the platform. Additionally, they are testing ads in the Messenger app.

10 Feb

The 5 social media mistakes most likely to cost you your job

Lauren Ashpole Facebook, social media 0 Comments

Over the years, social media has gone from a niche communications tool to a large part of many people’s, and businesses, daily routines. Even though Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., are accessible to anyone who knows how to set up an account and use a smartphone, no professional should dive into the at times treacherous world social media without knowing basic survival skills. Here are a five social media tips (and cautionary tales)  from Smirk that can help you keep your job in the highly visible world of new media.

1. Don’t trash someone else on Twitter, especially the president’s son.

katie-rich-tw

Smirk Tip* Don’t post anything about current social issues without thinking carefully and if you do make this mistake be prepared to do more than just delete your tweet.  

2. Don’t let out company (or jury) secrets.

Live tweeting can be a great way to share a conference or event with your network. What’s not so good? Posting about your company’s proprietary information or jury duty. Recently, A juror who was sitting on rape and sexual assault court case learned this the hard way. According to her Facebook post, she was having a hard time deciding whether to rule guilty or not guilty, so she made a Facebook poll asking her followers for help. When word got out about her post, she was dismissed from the jury and potentially ruined the entire case.

Live tweeting can be a great way to share a conference or event with your network. What’s not so good? Posting about your company’s proprietary information or jury duty. Recently, A juror who was sitting on rape and sexual assault court case learned this the hard way. According to her Facebook post, she was having a hard time deciding whether to rule guilty or not guilty, so she made a Facebook poll asking her followers for help. When word got out about her post, she was dismissed from the jury and potentially ruined the entire case.

Smirk Tip* Don’t share private information online. Even if your boss doesn’t follow you, one of your friends could share the post to your boss. Remember, social media post are never secret, even if you have a private account. Everything is accessible at the touch of a button or a share from a “friend.”

3. Don’t ask for drugs at work (or anywhere else) by posting it on Twitter.

screen-shot-2017-02-09-at-2-28-34-pm

Smirk Tip * Don’t think we need to explain this one. But kudos to the local police department for their great response.

4. Don’t post racial slurs. They’re not funny. Ever.

o-paula-deen-twitter-570-1

Once America’s kitchen sweetheart, Paula Deen’s career has gone down the garbage disposal due to racism. Shortly after her frequent racial slurs were made public, Deen paid a heavy price, losing deals and contracts with the Food Network, Smithfield Foods, Walmart, Target, QVC, Caesars Entertainment, J.C. Penney, Sears, Kmart and her then-publisher Ballantine Books.

In an attempt to be funny, Paula Deen’s social media manager posted the above photo to her social media followers, but no one really got the joke. Needless to say, her social media manager was fired.

Smirk Tip* Racism, sexism (or any ism) don’t play well on social media. Just don’t.

 5. Don’t be stupid.

Always, think before posting. If you wouldn’t want your boss to see it, don’t post it. The same applies to co-workers, clients, colleagues or your grandmother.

For example, PR professional Justine Sacco posted the tweet below before flying to South Africa. Due to her large amount of followers (many of whom were journalists) the tweet quickly spread across the internet finally reaching her boss. By the time she landed, Sacco had been fired and had become an international example of what not to do online.

Smirk Tip* Always, always consider your words carefully before posting, as you never know how your audience will react. Unless you want to get fired, then feel free to tweet away.

screen-shot-2017-02-10-at-1-40-07-pm

31 Jan

Update: Snapchat users aren’t loving the new update.

Lauren Ashpole Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Social, social media Tags: , 0 Comments

Snapchat is one of the most popular apps among teens and young adults. Their most recent update, with the addition of a new search bar, aims to help Snapchat be more accessible to all.

Katie Marshall, a Smirk strategist, has her own opinions about the Snapchat update.

“With Facebook testing stories, in addition to Instagram Stories, Snapchat is struggling to hang on to its users. Recent studies show Instagram Stories have as many viewers as Snapchat. I expect for Instagram and Facebook numbers to rise while Snapchat’s start to fall.”

The search bar gives users the accessibility to search any of their followers’ stories, any of Snapchat’s stories or to quickly send a private message to a friend.

“The new features, like the search bar, were introduced as an effort to make Snapchat more accessible to a wider range of users, but I think there is still confusion on what certain features, like Quick Chat, mean and how to use them,” said Marshall. “I do think the new update is more visually appealing, which is a bonus.”

Avid Snapchat users seem to love the new Bitmoji editing capability within the app. Some edits might include facial features and outfits.

A Bitmoji is a cartoon you can design to look, dress and talk like you. Bitmojis can say anything from ‘hello’ to ‘nope’ to ‘are you there?’

Below is an example of a Bitmoji. They are supposed to look similar to the person they emulate, but you can be the judge of that.

   

screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-2-54-22-pm    screen-shot-2017-01-31-at-2-54-29-pm

These new features come at a time when Instagram Stories, the mirror image of Snapchat Stories, are now reaching 150 million views. Snapchat has been the social leader for story type video — until now. Snapchat has yet to introduce live video streaming to the app, while Instagram already has live video and Facebook is testing out live video right now.

What does this update mean for Smirk?

“For businesses and brands, Snapchat still doesn’t make much sense because there is no analytics to ensure you’re actually reaching potential customers,” said Marshall. “For many, it’s still seen as a waste of time.”

24 Jan

Who should Market to Millennials?

Lauren Ashpole Business, digital advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Our Clients, Social, social media, social media strategy 0 Comments

The millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history, even bigger than baby boomers. For that reason, many of our new clients believe their brand should market to millennials.

Every client’s social media presence should be as unique as the products or services they provide. The answer to solving the millennial debate is knowing who you should reach.

“Some clients come to us wanting to appeal everyone, but I advise that their target audience should be much narrower,” said Allie Carrick, Smirk’s Managing Director. “Targeting the decision makers for your products or services impacts the bottom line.”

Your decision maker shouldn’t completely define your digital presence, but speaking their language will help you resonate. When speaking to older generations, avoid slang phrases (ex: FB/LB, respek, TD) and other passing trends (Pokémon GO, anyone?). Reduce your target audience down from generalizations to who they are, their decision-making process and what information is valuable to them.

If millennials are your decision makers, the perfect way to reach them — right from the source — is authenticity.

According to Forbes.com, millennials: value authenticity more than content, would rather buy a car and lease a house and read blogs before making purchases. This generation turns to their handheld devices to meet their needs. They value the convenience of asking a question via Facebook message to a brand’s page rather than making a call.

Millennials expect flexible technology and an easy customer experience as the norm. Brands must be able to maintain an active and authentic presence online to retain the millennial.

As a business owner, you may want more millennials to shop at your personalized paper store, but does this generation of shoppers see the value in your paper? Smirk has helped so many brands answer this fundamental question and many more like it. Starting the conversation is the first step to building an effective social media presence for your brand.

19 Jan

New updates to keep you LinkedIn

Lauren Ashpole Business, digital advertising, LinkedIn, Marketing, social media 0 Comments

470 million people have profiles on LinkedIn. LinkedIn was founded 15 years ago and has transformed as a company and platform through updates, CEO changes, Microsoft’s acquisition and transitioning from an all online website to an application.

Lennon Patton, Smirk’s director of sales, is an active LinkedIn user.

“As a digital marketer, I am excited about having a platform with a business focus that will be able to deliver better metrics. Some of the industries that Smirk creates strategies for are better served by the business focus that LinkedIn brings to the social media world,” said Patton. “Creating a better user experience should result in much better and more sophisticated ad delivery. This is a smart move by LinkedIn.”

LinkedIn introduced a new update for the desktop version of their site today. It will be more accessible with a straightforward layout. The features you know and love won’t change, but LinkedIn is adding some new user-friendly components to simplify their experience.

One of the more exciting new features is pop-up messaging boxes. Chatbots have been introduced, almost like a wingman, they will help you break the ice with whomever you are private messaging.  When you receive a message, on Facebook for example, the message sender and the message will show at the bottom of your screen and you can respond straight from the messaging box.

In addition to the new private messaging and design layout, LinkedIn updated their search bar and navigation. You’re now able to search by people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. Also, the platform’s navigation was reduced to seven areas: Home (Your Feed), Messaging, Jobs, Notifications, Me (your old profile page), My Network, and Search.

Smirk had early access to the redesigned company page and we’re excited for the new, more accessible LinkedIn. The first image below is a preview of the updated LinkedIn company page, and the second image is the old company pages.

 

13 Jan

The Boomerang Theory

Lauren Ashpole digital advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Social, social media, social media strategy Tags: , , 0 Comments

A Boomerang. A toy we all wanted until we had it, sometimes it came back to us, but most of the time it didn’t.

The Boomerang of the digital age is an app accessible through Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. It is a one-second video clip that loops back to the beginning after it reaches the end.

Here’s an example of how we’ve utilized Boomerang for one of our clients, Automobile Alley.

The graphic below, from Social Media Today, demonstrates most consumed type of content on Facebook in 2016. Boomerang could be a very useful visual tool to get your audience’s attention.

Video is just one of the latest trends fundamental to digital marketing success that Smirk’s founder and president, Mike Koehler, is currently traveling and speaking to companies about.

“Any brand interested in making a connection with its audience in 2017 needs to make video content a priority because it takes the transparency that people love to the next level,” said Koehler. “You can show the process of what makes your business great – your expertise and your behind-the-scenes.”

Smirk published our first Boomerang on our Instagram account this morning. Follow along as we share more insight into our content strategies.

On Friday we don't count calories.

A post shared by Smirk New Media (@smirknewmedia) on

10 Jan

Twitter to let users edit tweets, maybe. Finally.

Lauren Ashpole social media, Twitter Tags: ,

“You can only edit a tweet if you are a verified user, meaning you have a blue check mark next to your twitter handle,” said Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, in response to another Twitter user.

For avid tweeters, tweet editing capabilities could be a game changer. On other major platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, users are already able to edit a post after it goes live. Twitter hasn’t rolled out this feature for users yet.

Allowing original tweets to be altered would require a change log, so people can see all previous edits, as Dorsey would like to keep Twitter “a public record.”

“The change log is very necessary,” said Allie Carrick, Smirk’s Managing Director. “Editing would be beneficial for fixing small errors in your text, but not the entire tweet. Don’t rewrite history.”

Below are some examples why we believe tweets deserve to be edited. Enjoy.

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03 Nov

To OKC, from Burma: A Professional Fellow’s View

Mike Koehler social media 0 Comments

Editor’s note: Smirk New Media has had the privilege of hosting Aung Soe Win the past few week at our offices downtown. Aung Soe Win is a journalist from Burma, who is here in the USA as part of the Professional Fellows Program. We asked him to write up a blog post talking about his background, what it’s like to be in a country which just recently got press and social media freedom, as well as his thoughts on the Sooner State. Enjoy!

By Aung Soe Win

I was born in Lamaing, a small town in southern Mon State, and left my hometown to Thai-Burma Border in late 2006, and spent about 8 years for the searches of further education and job opportunity on the border and in Thailand.

In 2010, I worked at Human Rights Foundation of Mon-land (HUFROM) gathering data of human rights abuses and writing reports. In 2012, with a scholarship from Child’s Dream Association, I started my college at the Ramkhamhaeng University, studying for multimedia journalism and marketing. After finishing my study, I returned to Mon News Agency (MNA), which is under umbrella of HURFOM, working as marketing manager and news editor.

Apart from working for MNA, I recently started a new venture, which is running a restaurant, called Rasar Non, or the Royal Taste; the menu includes Thai and local Mon foods.

And, now, I am in Oklahoma and my placement is at Smirk New Media (http://smirknewmedia.com/ ) in the Oklahoma City. With the help from my placement, I have met several different people with different backgrounds, including web developers, journalists, NGO workers, and entrepreneurs. And, my colleague Lennon Patton from the Smirk New Media, who is taking me around the city and introducing me with different people, also has marketing and sale experiences and shared with me his experiences every day.

The Sooner State and its people

It is my first time in Oklahoma and the first time in the United States. What reminded me most on my first day in the state is about the article that talks about the tribe of people called “Asu” use an animal “rac” for their needs. Yes, cars are everywhere! And, people here do not seem to have or use public transportation. But, recently I learnt that the land is so massive in the state that it makes more convenient for the locals to travel with their own cars.

It has been two weeks already in the States, and so far, I love it! The people here are generous, friendly and helpful. They like to share about their work and ideas, invite you over dinners.

Although I did not really like “American Football”, now I start liking it. And, oh, keep in mind that people here do not like to see you being late.

What is Professional Fellows Program?

It is a five-week program and hosted by the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, partnered with the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Entrepreneurship Development at BRAC University in Bangladesh, BRAC Myanmar in Burma and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India.

The objective of the program is to inject the Bangladeshi, Burmese and Indian participants, who are mid-level emerging leaders in different working fields, including small business ventures, government, NGOs and social entrepreneurship, into working small businesses in Oklahoma and associate them with one of the America’s leading universities. It also aims to provide the participants with professional experience and training that will foster their talents and prepare them for more responsible leadership positions in their businesses, communities and society, enabling them to apply back in their countries.

What do I want to get?

During my Professional Fellows Program, my first priority is to acquire the skills and knowledge of writing a business plan, along with marketing and sale strategies. Second priority is to meet different people with different backgrounds but mainly in media sector, startups and social entrepreneurship.

Independent Mon News Agency or Mon News Agency

The company I work for, the Mon News Agency (MNA) (www.monnews.org) , founded as Independent Mon News Agency (IMNA) in 2000, is a multimedia agency. With its coverage on largely southern Burma, its media products include online news, weekly newspaper, radio [broadcasting] and video clips for TV news.

Since its inception, I had operated on Thai-Burma Border, but after the country has been reformed, the agency decided to move in the country in 2015. And, now registered as Mon News Agency, it is based in Mon State’s Capital Mawlamyine.

MNA, which has been running over the past 15 years as a non-profit, is now in transition to full profit agency. To be able to stand on its own feet and to generate regular revenues for the long term sustainability, it is now working hard and hopes for the best for this new adventure.

Media reforms and social media spotlights

Following a new government in 2010, the country unblocked international news websites, exiled news websites and YouTube.

In 2012, it lifted pre-publication censorship for the press and gave green lights to privately-owned daily newspapers and ethnic group-run newspapers to publish.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Burma was ranked at 174 out of 178 for press freedom in 2010. But, the results of political change have moved the country up to 144th place.

The number of internet users grew to 625,000 in 2014 but reached up to 11,000,000 in 2016 (according to InternetLiveStats.com and internetworldstats). At first there was only a state-run telecom, the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT), but two additional telecom companies, Telenor and Ooredoo, started in 2013, have been around the country ever since.

3G networks arrived in the country as early as 2008, under MPT operation, and there came 4G networks first by Ooredoo in May, 2016, followed by Telenor in July.

When it comes to social media platforms, Facebook reigns. In 2015, the Facebook had 4 million users in the country. But, mid-May 2016, Facebook had 9.7 million monthly active users (Amara Digital Marketing Agency), while the number of Facebook subscribers hit 11,000,000 in June 2016.

The number of mobile penetration and internet users is on the rise and in fact, the mobile penetration is expected to hit 100 percent within the next five years (according to lamplight.me).

About the Mon people and Mon State

One of the earliest peoples to reside in Southeast Asia, responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Indochina, and a major source of influence on the culture of Burma, the Mon people now mostly live in Mon State, Bago Region, Irrawaddy Delta, and along the southern border of Thailand and Burma.

The Mon language is part of the Monic group of the Mon-Khmer family, and believed to be source script of writing systems of Burmese. The national symbol is the Hongsa, Sheldrake or mythological water bird or Swan and known as Hintha in Burmese.

The culture and traditional heritages includes spiritual dances and Hongsa dance, and the musical instruments include crocodile xylophone, flute, harp, drums and gongs.

Mon State is located in southern Burma and is one of the seven states, along with the seven regions across the country. The state lies between Andaman Sea to west and Karen State to east, having a short border with Thailand to southeast.

The capital of the state is Mawlamyine, formerly known as Moulmein, and it is the sister city of Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the United States.

The State’s major products include rice, rubbers, betel nuts, and fishes, while there are also industries of paper, sugar and mining.

There are several tourist spots, while the beaches are yet exploited. Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, better known as the Golden Rock, is one of the most attractions in the state, and the visitors will be soon able to use cable cars going up to the pagoda’s compound from the bottom of the Kyaiktiyo Mount. Another popular destination is the Win Sein Tawya, which has the world’s largest reclining Buddha.  

Since Mon State lies on the coast of Andaman Sea, there are beaches – yet to be exploited. One of the “fresh beaches” in the state is Kabyar Wa Beach, and located in Ye Township, in the south.

After decades of isolation, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has now introduced significant political and economic reforms since the quasi-civilian government took the office in 2010.

Many foreign investments projects are flowing into my country, with over 50 million people and located in Southeast Asia, while construction can be seen at every corner in major cities, especially the country’s former capital Yangon, or Rangoon.

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