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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
By Michaela Lawson
A local hashtag became the top trending topic on Twitter and even received national response on Friday amid other big ticket news items – Russell Westbrook’s extension and the 2016 Olympics Opening Ceremony to name a few.
The hashtag #ShopEdmond was besieged with responses on Twitter Friday after the lifestyle magazine Edmond Active said it had trademarked the phrase.
The Twitterverse heartily rejected this assertion, and the hashtag was used by outraged users posting everything from silly pictures to heated screeds about marketing and intellectual property law.
The long and short of the dilemma stemmed from the publisher of the lifestyle magazine Edmond Active, Sherri Hultner, trying to defend a trademarked phrase when used for marketing and advertising purposes. Hultner said the tweet was intended for businesses trying to leverage #ShopEdmond audiences for their own business without advertising with Edmond Active.
However, the tweet requesting people not to use the hashtag was seen as an attempt to keep the public from using the hashtag as well, which is what seemingly fueled the negative conversation.
“It’s not even really a hashtag that the public uses,” Hultner said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman. “It hasn’t been an issue except for three or four people grabbing it for marketing.”
Not only did the original tweet offend, though, but the initial responses between the brand and upset Twitter users – including the blocking of local reporter Brianna Bailey – caused the controversy to continue growing until was a nationally trending topic and garnered a response from the man who created the hashtag, Chris Messina.
So, how could things have gone differently?
In any misunderstanding or issue involving brands, the biggest factor to a successful resolution ultimately lies in the immediate response by the brand. Here are a few things to keep in mind when responding to a crisis on any scale through social media:
- Step back and look at the whole picture
By allowing yourself a little bit of time to figure out the best response to whatever is happening, you automatically decrease the possibility of making the problem worse through hastily drafted responses. Allow yourself the time to have consistent, thought-out responses to defuse the situation.
Often times, having the right people in your corner can make the difference. Seeing a situation from multiple perspectives helps identify your blind spots for an overall better response. You may even need to consider having a marketing firm to consult with regularly to prevent and effectively respond to situations like these when they occur.
- Be upfront, honest and transparent
Own up to your shortcomings in the situation. If you said something you shouldn’t have, apologize wholeheartedly to those you upset and try to right the wrong. If there has been a misunderstanding, apologize for being unclear and reconsider your message. Understand where the outrage is coming from and address that concern directly. People are more graceful when you admit wrongdoing than trying to defend it further.
- Respond as quickly as possible
Once you figure out the right approach to resolving the issue, you want to respond to the problem as quickly as possible to try to get in front of the problem before it becomes overbearing in responses. Shaping your own messaging is important for being able to frame the issue correctly before someone else can write their version of your story for you.
- Consider what you could do differently
For ongoing issues, see if there is another viable option to resolving the problem without going to social media about the concern. For #ShopEdmond specifically, we suggest reaching out to the few brands using the hashtag without advertising with the magazine. By approaching them directly, you have the opportunity to express your concern and possible establish a relationship that would lead to a partnership opportunity with those businesses as well. The entire Twitter backlash may have been avoided using this approach.
Ultimately, if you need help in a situation like this, know who to call. Oftentimes, there is a fine balance between dealing with crises effectively and making them worse. By having a plan in place for difficult times, you are able to learn to effectively handle issues when they inevitably rise for your business.
Since working at Smirk, I don’t think a single day has gone by (okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerated) without hearing Allie say something about the necessity of putting money behind brand content on social media.
And, low and behold, a recent study by the American Marketing Association has found that to be absolutely true.
The Journal of Marketing reports that, based on their findings regarding company-generated content, social media is “most effective when combined with ads.” Even more than that though, they found that brand messaging on social media “indeed increases sales and customer profitability.”
Of course the report was quick to emphasize that other forms of marketing – the more traditional routes – are not to be neglected. Although 90 percent of customer responses were found to be generated from digital ads, “marketers should strive to achieve a synergistic approach so that ads in all platforms work together to reach audiences in cadence to an established tone and message.”
So, how do we integrate social media – backed by marketing dollars – into our overall marketing campaigns?
The first step to all marketing decisions starts with defining your target market, followed by framing messaging for optimal performance among those audiences.
Only then can you locate where the desired audience spends most of their time, which in the past few years is oftentimes social media platforms. Knowing where and how your target audience communicates allows you to engage customers according to their preferences.
Various features have rolled out in the last few months and years on social media platforms that allow for more specific demographic reach within those networks. These tools allow us to know who we are communicating with in very real and quantifiable ways more than ever before.
To neglect social media is corporate suicide. So, it’s about time marketers recognized the importance of spending money where the audiences are – social media. And with that, making sure the right people with the right training are running those messages and ads on social platforms for the best results.
When Snapchat opened custom on-demand geofilters to everyone, brands and marketers everywhere went crazy about the news. However, these custom Snapchat geofilters have flown largely under the radar, and are most commonly used by cities and some large events. The ability for local businesses to use these filters is relatively untapped.
While these filters could become an enormous business for Snapchat in its scalability, their value for users is also scalable. The feature is a prime example of content and context at its finest on social media.
Brands and businesses should take advantage of the ability to mark events with these custom geofilters. The value of your branding impression compared to impressions on other platforms is high because of geofilters’ ability to really be seen on the platform.
“Filters catch you off guard – they catch your attention and show up directly in your account. Plus, you’re bringing value to the viewer: they have the ability to interact with it in a contextually relevant and fun way.” – Gary Vaynerchuk
Snapchat has a pretty comprehensive guide to all the rules you need to follow when creating a filter. The premise is simple: design, map and buy. These three steps can lead to high engagement and value to users attending various events, especially local events.
For Rayo OKC’s opening night on April 2, Smirk New Media created a Snapchat geofilter to appeal to a captive audience. We wanted the brand to celebrate along with its fans about the first night of professional soccer in the North American Soccer League in the OKC Metro. With over 400 uses and more than 21,000 views overall, the geofilter brought awareness and creativity to fans in the stands.
In creating the filter, we followed Snapchat’s steps:
- Design: We came up with a half dozen examples of what could be done on Snapchat – in the top of the screen, bottom of the screen or corner, in ways that would highlight the brand, but still allow users to create a great photo.
- Map: Snapchat allows you to build a geographic fence on a map in which your geofilter will work. We made a pretty tight boundary for the Rayo OKC filter – just the boundaries of Miller Stadium where the team was playing. This pumped up the exclusivity of the filter and made it a real game-day experience.
- Buy: Snapchat’s custom geofilter offering is priced based on two factor – square footage of your mapped area and time it will be active.
Local brands and businesses have more to offer their audiences through the use of geofilters for events, whether it’s a grand opening or a monthly event. In order to help brands provide more to their audiences and customers, we are now offering services to create and manage event geofilters. Contact us for more information.
Come one, come all to the bandwagon of algorithm freak-outs.
Another social media platform sparked widespread panic among users and influencers after announcing the introduction of an algorithm to break up the reverse-chronological newsfeed.
A social media algorithm – first introduced by Facebook, then adopted by Twitter and now Instagram – determines which pieces of content are displayed on individual users’ news feeds. Facebook gives more weighting to personal pages over business pages, which are encouraged to ‘break’ the algorithm by paying for ads to reach their audience.
Instagram announced that it would be going algorithmic last month stating:
“You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.
To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.
The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.
We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months.”
While users began panicking about the change thinking that they would lose their beloved reverse chronological glimpses into the people that they follow’s lives, brands began a frenzy of urging followers to “Turn On Notifications.”
It was bound to happen: brands will have to start paying to play on Instagram’s platform, just like they do on Facebook and Twitter. As the algorithm aims to create a better experience for users, brands are forced to either create engaging and high quality content or pay for placement in the feed.
Entrepreneur, author and friend Gary Vaynerchuk said there are two big take aways from the change:
“(1) that algorithms like these, showing you what you care about most, is what Facebook and Instagram have done better than anybody else this generation and I give Instagram a triple thumbs up for what they’re doing. It’s a triple thumbs up not because it’s better for ad dollars, but because it’s better for the end user and anything that is better for the end user is the winning formula.
(2) You all need to understand the difference between being a headline reader and practitioner. Every time a big update for any platform comes out, everybody gets emotional real fast. Once again, I’ve been pissed off about how everybody’s crying and moaning because of all these headlines talking about how “Instagram’s decision to include an algorithm to their feed is going to ruin them.” It’s not. So instead of freaking out when you read headlines like this, form your own opinion. Think about it for yourself. Do the homework. Be a practitioner.”
Knowing what drives engagement on the visually-driven platform is key in knowing how to remain relevant to audiences. Here are three simple tips to stay engaging and relevant:
- Showcase products and services in creative ways. Your audiences are interested in your brand and what you have to offer. If you sell clothing, post visually-appealing photos of that clothing. If food, then food. If you are in a visually-appealing location, post that. Follow trends of what makes good content – right now, all the rage is the utilization of white space.
- Establish a visual brand identity. Have a standard for your photos, so that users know it’s you at first sight. Don’t use a variety of photo filters and don’t muddy your photo with text. Create consistently appealing photos and videos that your audience will love.
- Create interactive #hashtag campaigns. Give users the ability to join in on the community that surrounds your brand and follow others through their interactions as well.
Happy algorithm sailing and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Congratulations, Twitter! You’ve made it 10 years without being overshadowed or forced out of what’s popular.
In the social media world, platforms are constantly emerging, changing and disappearing. To be among the top networks requires skilled adaptation, cutting edge creativity and the perception among users that it gives something no other network can or does.
Over the last 10 years, hundreds of different social media apps and services have emerged – some successfully, others not so much. The following timeline outlines the launch years of more popular networks, showing just where Twitter falls in the mix.
Xanga – 1999
Linkedin – 2003
Myspace – 2003
Facebook – 2004 (open to all in 2006)
Twitter – 2006
Tumblr – 2007
We Heart It – 2008
Foursquare – 2009
Instagram – 2010
Pinterest – 2011
Google+ – 2011
Snapchat – 2011
From the very beginning, Twitter’s approach and understanding of how we want to consume content resonated with the multitudes and pop culture is forever changed. Here are 10 ways the platform impacted social media in the last 10 years:
Originally intended as a way to organize conversations, the hashtag has become part of a lifestyle that revolves around social media. It allows users to follow trends, create their own or add humor. Newlyweds use it to create funny and unique tags for wedding photos with friends, brands use it to track engagement with audiences, etc. The hashtag became a cross-platform phenomenon, but it originated on Twitter.
Sharing other people’s tweets through the retweet feature on Twitter moved tweets from one user’s timeline to reach other followers through sharing. The feature allowed for Quote Tweets that allowed users to talk about what they’re retweeting. This lingo has also infiltrated everyday conversation as a form of support or agreement.
Twitter didn’t reinvent the art of being brief, but it definitely capitalized on it. Twitter has rammed home the point that you can communicate in 140 characters or less though some users still tweet various times in a row to get one message across. These condensed messages moved focus from having the most information to communicating the most important information.
4. Live Tweeting
When it comes to events, television shows, movies and the like, users go to Twitter to express their feelings throughout the ordeal. This live-tweeting culture has created a community of constant interaction with a topic in real time as people discuss their enjoyment, frustration, support and other feelings toward a common event.
5. Spoof Accounts
The speed with which spoof Twitter accounts are set up in reaction to unfolding events is impressive. Twitter is filled with parody accounts, from Not Mark Zuckerberg and Pharrell’s Hat to Left Shark and Donald Drumpf’s hair. These parody accounts add a layer of comedy and connection to the Twitter community.
6. Widespread Hoaxes and Information Sharing
Thanks to the social media platform’s reach, news can reach around the world in a matter of minutes – even if it’s a hoax. Cher’s premature death notice was more misunderstanding than hoax thanks to the #nowthatchersdead hashtag that started after the death of Margaret Thatcher. Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Jeff Goldblum, even Justin Bieber have all had their fake deaths announced on Twitter. On the flip side of hoaxes, however, the far reach in short amounts of time also allow for a great outpour of support. For instance, Caitlyn Jenner’s ability to gains over 1 million followers in 3 hours, the support for those in Paris during the bombings, widespread grieving for Robin Williams, etc.
7. Brand Engagement
Twitter has given brands a platform for interaction, engagement and community with their audiences. As users use the platform to talk about their experiences in real time, brands have been given the unique opportunity to talk back immediately. Users also retweet brands, get involved in their polls and hashtags and tag brands when they interact with them. All of these lead to better communication between brands and audiences.
The launch of Twitter polls has proven to gain a lot of positive response by users. The short, up to four option polls allow for users to get a small idea of support for certain topics and create different discussions with their followers.
9. Twitter Moments
Packaging live moments from around the world within Moments has allowed for storytelling depth on Twitter that is more engaging and informative in one cohesive space. Moments give users the ability to figure out what is trending in each topic without the disruption of other unrelated messages on their timeline.
10. GIFs, GIFs and more GIFs
Among the newer additions to Twitter is the GIF Search capability. Integrating GIFs into the platform has lead to higher engagement and expressions by users and brands alike. The additional aspect of searching in one place to fully communicate an idea has given the Twitter community various options of how they want to communicate their current emotions.
Photo from Twitter