In the last 12 years of the evolving social media world, the number of users on platforms are ever-increasing, while marketers lack the confidence and skills for effective messaging on the different networks. The missed opportunities and lost revenue continues to build as the social media skills gap goes unaddressed.
By taking note of some of the causes of the social media skills gap and providing solutions to each, businesses and brands can move from baffled marketers to skilled managers.
Cause: Ever-changing platforms and features
It seems that every few months, at least one social platform has changed a feature – usually Facebook’s algorithm is the culprit of this cause of the increasing skill gap. Some months, it seems as though every platform is rolling out something new: Instagram’s account switching, Twitter’s optional algorithm, etc.
With ever-changing platform features, it can be difficult for brands to keep up with the latest trends on each social hub while still running their business efficiently and effectively.
Solution: Staying informed
Make time to stay informed on the latest trends in social media platforms. Set up Google Alerts for social media news to be pushed to you, rather than seeking it out yourself. Get connected with social media marketers on various platforms to see what they’re talking about in the social media news.
Cause: Lack of understanding social media expectations
Where users previously expected brands to only talk about their products and services, social media allows for two-sided relationships between brands and consumers. The wide adaptability of social media among consumers comes with their expectations to get answers to their questions on whichever platform they decide.
Solution: Know what is being said about your brand, respond
When consumers have either an extremely positive or a negative experience a product or service, they often times take to social media to tell their followers about it. Knowing where your brand is being talked about and what is being said is half of the customer service model on social media. Platforms give brands the opportunity to respond to their critics – and fans – in real-time with their complaints or praises.
Cause: Not receiving the proper education on social media
Unavoidably, many business owners and brand managers did not have a course on social media when they were in school. As a newer trend, these courses didn’t exist, or if they did, they were not comprehensive.
Solution: Social media and younger work generations
As social media becomes more and more prevalent with every new platform, their importance is being taught to the next generation of business owners, marketers and brand ambassadors. For current brand managers and business owners, there are various seminars and courses offered throughout the year educating on the latest and greatest of social media.
Smirk New Media is dedicated to keeping information channels open between brands and audiences. Through media training sessions and workshops for small business owners, Smirk aims to help bridge the social media skills gap.
Facebook’s Reactions feature rolled out globally in February and was met with excitement and criticism – as most things are – by people everywhere. After the initial dissatisfaction of Facebook still not having a “dislike” button, the Reactions available to users were embraced with excitement… and some confusion. Like all new things, it will take a little while to fully utilize the new feature. Ultimately, however, Facebook Reactions allow for more authentic engagement with posts.
The Smirk team sat down to discuss their favorite reaction, least favorite reaction and the advantages of reactions for brands and marketers.
What’s your favorite new reaction?
“I love the idea of the multiple reactions because as a user, it gives me more appropriate responses. I think people have already gravitated to that idea.
So far, I like “wow” and “haha” the best, because I think that is going to give us the most insight on how we make content better for these audiences. You want to elicit emotions in order to get engagement and, for lack of a better word, stickiness in the relationship between the brand and the audience.” – Mike Koehler, CEO and Chief Strategist
“Since the smirk isn’t an option yet, my favorite new reaction is the “love” sign because it’s a much more powerful sentiment than the original “like” and can help us gauge what content is resonating with the audience.” – Allie Carrick, Managing Director
“I honestly like all of them, but I think the “wow” and the heart are a tie for me. As marketers, you want to create content that moves people. It’s easy to get a “like,” but to create something that someone loves or takes them by surprise is a powerful thing. And now we can more accurately measure that.” – Kevin DeShazo, Senior Strategist
“I think my favorite reaction so far is the sad face. Not the most positive reaction, I know, but I’ve seen too many statuses and news articles over the years that has a certain mood that doesn’t quite fit the “like” reaction.” – Samaiyah Islam, Strategist
“My favorite Facebook reaction is “love”. The shape and color are the most distinct and it appears to make a wholly positive impression wherever it is left. I have seen it used primarily in three ways so far: people posting life events (such as engagements), people posting that they’re feeling sad (the “love” then being used as an “I love you”/”I am here for you”) and people posting screenshots of conversations in which they are being funny/arguing with someone and the “love” being used as a reward (“love the way you shut them down”, “love your sassy response”). The uses are so varied! Side note: I love that all of the reactions are animated on mobile.” – Kailey Emerson, Sales Strategist
“My favorite is the “love” reaction because it shows so much more emotion than just a simple “like”. As a user of Facebook, I appreciate the ability to show a wider range of response to a post beyond just a like. It’s nice that I can show that I saw the post without saying I “like” something sad or serious that may have happened in a friend/family member’s life.” – Lennon Patton, Sales Strategist
What’s your least favorite reaction?
“I guess I like the “like” reaction the least then, because that isn’t giving us as much information to drill down with.” – Mike
“I don’t think I have a least favorite, as all have a place. There are times when a post will make you sad or angry, and it should, so while some may see those as fueling negativity, I see them as a way to respond to posts that, for good reason, make us sad or angry.” – Kevin
“Because I am already used to seeing the “love” reaction used in a comforting way, I just can’t get behind the “sad” reaction. It’s too simple. I almost think the appeal of the other reactions is that they can be used in a wider variety of contexts. Maybe I just haven’t seen “sad” shine yet.” – Kailey
What can Facebook Reactions add to brands and managers?
“If we have a brand that can be a little cheekier with, these nuanced responses will help us do more of one kind of content and less of another. More real-time insights on Facebook are always great, because they allow us to pivot faster on the content creativity.” – Mike
“We’re always looking for new and improved ways to measure brand sentiment for our clients and the prospect of going beyond the “like” in a quick, easy format is exciting. For years, users have expressed that “like” just didn’t go far enough when they feel passionate about a piece of content.
I’m hoping the new reactions are just the tip of the iceberg in Facebook’s efforts to help users and brands connect and understand each other better. When brand managers have a deeper understanding of a Page’s digital audience, we can elevate our content — resulting in a better overall user experience. Plus, the easier it is for users to engage with our content, the more valuable this platform is for advertisers.” – Allie
“I like the 6 they have now, but one option would be too add a “confused/confusing” emoji reaction, for those posts that just make us scratch our heads and wonder what in the world we just read/saw.” – Kevin
“The new reactions feature will be great for managers because it gives them an idea of how their content is performing. Rather than just relieving a “lazy like” from your audience, you can see if people thought your content was funny or offensive. If you are getting a ton of “wow” or “angry” reactions on content that you didn’t mean to be controversial, you can get in front of the crisis and handle it accordingly.” – Samaiyah
“I think it will be another interesting aspect of engagement to measure. Right now, people are using the reactions in such varied ways, but I think over time there may be a more standardized usage and from there we can figure out how best to measure them. I am excited to see what it will reflect.” – Kailey
The moment all social media managers have been waiting for is finally here: Instagram supports account switching. The headache of logging out and in on various accounts is now a headache of the past.
With the rise of profiles dedicated to businesses, pets, professional accounts and any number of other things, the ease of navigating between profiles was an inevitable step for Instagram to make.
But wait, there’s more: you can add up to five accounts with one login. This is an obvious advantage whether you’re a small business managing your personal and business account, a brand manager managing multiple brand accounts or an agency partner managing multiple client accounts.
For marketers, this feature could not have come at a more perfect time (well, except for the fact that we’ve all been waiting for it). Last September, Instagram announced that its self-serve ad offering would be made available to all business, everywhere. And given the platform’s growth – which has doubled from 200 million users in 2014 to 400 million this year so far – advertisers have used the platform to reach its growing, visually-focused user base.
The ability to quickly and easily switch between accounts will also enable social media managers to avoid other problems they faced with the old approach to Instagram account management.
The new functionality allows for the increase in content posted. The easy navigation between profiles will allow individuals to update business profiles without having to logout and log back in. Being able to switch and post could make business owners more active on the platform, and the amount of time saved will be significant for those with active brand profiles alongside their own, personal accounts.
Being actively switching between multiple accounts also allows for more immediate customer service. The app now notifies based on profile what activity is being made on respective accounts. This capability allows for individuals to know who, when and where others are interacting with their content. For brand managers, this ability allows for better responsiveness to their audiences when comments or questions are made on brand posts.
* Note: The update is also important for those who currently use third-party tools to perform similar account switching as Instagram announced recently that they’ll be restricting access to their API (Application Program Interface) as of June 1, 2016.
In this episode of Smirk New Media’s podcast, Smirkcast, Allie Carrick discusses the hottest trend in social media marketing right now—mobile live streaming. Mobile live streaming apps, like Periscope and Meerkat, are a significant development in communication and offer brands an opportunity to provide real-time content to their online audience. Allie discusses when it’s appropriate for brands to utilize live streaming and some practical ways to use these tools with purpose, in a way that is consistent with your social media strategy.
Mark Zuckerberg is many things, but he’s not a dummy. He’s also a multi-billionaire. He also holds (and pulls) the strings on a social media platform very important to us and our clients.
So it’s been no surprise as Facebook has become more focused on money. Since going public, Facebook is looking for a steady steam of revenue. And, frankly, for too long we’ve been able to leverage content on the site, especially promotional business content, to a captive audience without ever having to pay a penny to Facebook.
That all changed at the beginning of this year, when Facebook turned around the rules of what kind of reach sales-driving content got for free. The answer: Zero.
Boosting posts and buying ads in order to improve reach is now a must for all businesses. And for people sitting in our seats as strategists, so is the importance of understanding the nuances of just what they are getting for that money. This is not a matter of throwing tons of money at a platform and all your problems are solved. Like everything with social media, there are a lot more intricacies to that, especially if you are looking to reach very specific audiences with very specific messages.
This is where we can put into play what seems to me to be the Moneyball aspect of social media strategy work. For those of you nerds who haven’t been plugged into sports for the past decade, “Moneyball” is a best seller written by Michael Lewis, about how the Oakland A’s used data to make decisions about the players they would add to their team rather the gut instincts of their scouting department, because it allowed the A’s and their limited payroll to compete with teams like the Yankees who were able to stock up on talent with big-money contracts.
This Moneyball idea has since spread to many other sports teams and businesses, who are looking to analytics in order to draft the best players and make their personnel dollars stretch when it comes to competing with other, often larger and more revenue-rich, organizations.
As someone who works with small and medium sized business, and is part of one myself, this Moneyball philosophy has a lot of appeal. But I’ve also seen the idea of precise targeting of dollars in social media spending be trampled by a run-away elephant of brands who are throwing cash at agencies, who in turn throw it at the platforms with no real strategy in place. Aside from the strategy of SPEND!
This is the New York Yankees plan, and I guess works at times, but it becomes a battle only the most bloated powers can fight. A big enough company could, in theory, buy so many ads on so many platforms to make any targeting unnecessary. They want to reach everyone, and indeed they will reach everyone. But then does that reach turn into transactions, or by then are people so sick of the brand buying its way in front of their eyeballs that they want nothing to do with them?
And on the agency side, is there any effectiveness in taking loads of money to buy a wide reach when none of those customers are going to have any relationship with your brand. It’s like we say about follower and fan numbers – you can get a billion Chinese people to like your page if you pay enough money, but unless your small business in Edmond needs a billion Chinese customers it doesn’t do you any good. Anyone who has done and continues to do this sort of unfocused cash dump for clients is only interested in their piece of the cash dump.
Now let’s get back to Moneyball. What does that look like in the digital marketing space? It looks a lot like targeting to a very nitty-gritty audience in order to make $5 or $10 a day into a potent weapon, while at the same time using great content to continue to service the audience who are sticking with your brand every day on social media. Fortunately, the platforms continue to provide us in the social media strategy building world with metrics, statistics and data that shows results, often in real time, just as the originators of Moneyball had at their nerdy fingertips when they were determining the real value of players who got on base or were efficient with each at-bat.
In a world of online marketing, where every dollar counts, where every piece of content is a doorway between your brand and a potential sale, and where the rules can be changed from day-to-day on the whim of a young billionaire, it pays to be agile and able to make smart moves instead of big ones.
Smirk New Media strategist Allie Carrick brings back Smirkcast, our podcast breaking down the changes, strategies, campaigns and content winning in the world of social media. This week, Allie breaks down all the changes that have happened in social media since the start of 2015.
We’ll skip the gory details of life in the 1980s and skip straight to today’s underlying premise: I’m old.
Totally. For sure.
But as social media has evolved over the past decade or so, I’ve tried to evolve with it – while remaining true to my favorite platforms. But for all of the changes sweeping across the web, up until the past few weeks, one social network had failed to trip my trigger.
Didn’t like it, didn’t get it, understood the value for a brand and as part of a social media strategy, but otherwise, it was one big meh.
That was until early last month, when we revitalized Smirk’s dormant account and I began to check it regularly. The Smirk New Media team already had some diehard Instagrammers and we had been executing content on some interesting client accounts, but in February, it all clicked.
One of the biggest benefits I’ve seen is how Instagram really redefines how you see potential content as well as how you can frame content with a little more eye to artistry than some of the other platforms (especially now that Facebook seems to be going against the grain to de-emphasize photo content in order to prop up video reach on Pages). Plus, at the moment, they’re not playing games. When users log in, they will see the most recent content from ALL of the accounts they follow.
As a big fan of Twitter hashtags, I’m also interested in how Instagram has grown its Twitter culture. I’ve witnessed first-hand how clients (and my teenage son) have connected with subcultures and ardent fans just based on hashtag use. Though I’m still not crazy about wild hashtag abuse on Instagram – the record I’ve seen for one post is 27 – I think using it as a niche audience finder is great.
Knowing Instagram’s solid audience numbers amongst the young – Fieldhouse Media’s latest survey found 80+ percent of college athletes are using it daily – it’s fair to say there are strategic advantages to using it. Are there workflow issues with it? Lord have mercy, yes. But, for the most part, Facebook’s ownership has done its best not to muck up a good thing, and if that continues, I just may like it more.