Category: Facebook

16 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – What’s Next for Users, Advertisers and Brands

Kailey Emerson Facebook, social media Tags: , 0 Comments

Last week, Facebook sent a notice to users directly impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. “We understand the importance of keeping your data safe”, it began. The notice explained that Facebook has banned the app “This Is Your Digital Life”, the third party tool created by researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who collected and extracted the data of over 80 million Facebook users and sold this information to several political campaigns. Further, Facebook encouraged users to review the apps and websites which currently have access to information on their profile. They emphasize that they are “committed to confronting abuse and to putting you in control of your privacy”.

This is one of just many changes that are expected to come as many Facebook users 

grapple with the fact that their data isn’t quite as private as they thought.

As Facebook moves forward from Cambridge Analytica, there are two truths we must acknowledge:

  1. Data is at the core of what Facebook does, and demographic knowledge such as age, location, and relationship status are only the start. The company brings in $40 billion in advertising revenue annually because it offers brands data that gives them an unparalleled ability to target consumers.
  2. Facebook is able to target ads to potential consumers by using artificial intelligence in order to analyze our behavior across the web. When internet users venture to other sites, Facebook can still monitor what they are doing with software like its ubiquitous “Like” and “Share” buttons. In fact, signing up for Facebook requires opting in to their data policy, which “includes information about the websites and apps you visit, your use of our services on those websites and apps, as well as information the developer or publisher of the app or website provides to you or us”.

It’s increasingly evident that the type and volume of data the platform has been collecting for years may be a revelation for most Facebook users who breezed through the lengthy terms and conditions portion of the sign-up process. What exactly does Facebook know about me? How are they collecting this information? Who has access to it?

Luckily, as mentioned above, there has already been action to combat the ability of third-party apps to mine user data when they are accessed by someone logging into the Facebook to share an article or take a quiz – in fact, the Cambridge Analytica outcry was triggered after The New York Times and others reported last month that a quiz app, “This Is Your Digital Life”, made by Mr. Kogan had collected information on Facebook users.

Which third-party apps might have had access to your profile? Games like FarmVille, Candy Crush and Words With Friends; apps that broadcast your extra-Facebook activities, like Spotify and Pinterest; and apps that were almost explicitly about gathering as much useful data as possible from users, like TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited app, which let you share a digital pushpin map with your friends.

So, what can you do as a user with Facebook’s new privacy and data features?

  1. Check to see if your data was used by Cambridge Analytica here.
  2. Review the apps and sites that you’ve allowed access to your Facebook profile here.
  3. Explore your ad preferences and related settings here.
  4. Take a look at your Facebook privacy settings here.

If you’re a business owner, you may also be asking yourself how Facebook’s potential changes will affect the ability of your content being seen on the platform, whether that’s organic posts having the reach and engagement they used to or your ads being seen by an audience of your target demographic. How can I target ads effectively when people are beginning to remove their data from Facebook? How will Facebook gather data offsite in a more transparent way moving forward? Will this affect the Pixel I have on my website? How exactly the platform will change over time may not yet be apparent. We can be certain that Facebook will be held to a higher standard moving forward, especially when collecting data across the web for platform users and non-users alike, as the demand for transparent actions increases and the third party apps’ access to data decreases. The Pixel itself is already a relatively transparent measurement. To review, your Pixel is set up through Facebook’s Business Manager and then activated by code you put onto your website. The Pixel can track conversions (newsletter sign-ups, completed online sales, etc) on your website or simply collect information on who visited your website and how long they spent there. You can create an audience based off previous website visitors within Facebook Ads Manager, which is advantageous for retargeting campaigns as well as the creation of “lookalike” audiences constructed from site visits. Taking advantage of the data your Pixel gathers is especially helpful when constructing audiences for your ad campaigns; coupled with meaningful and relevant messaging in your ad copy, the creation of targeted audiences allows brands a clear path forward as the uncertainty of access to user data clouds the future.

As we mentioned to our clients earlier this year, the era of posting multiple times a day is over, and the platform is continuing to prioritize quality over quantity when it comes to allowing businesses the newsfeed space they used to: “Facebook will not measure its success based solely on the time its users spend watching videos,” said Zuckerberg on January 31. “It will optimize instead for meaningful social interactions”. Our content strategists have taken this to heart, searching for new opportunities to tell in-depth stories for our clients and shifting the language in posts and ads we create to minimize any “sales-y” calls to action (“come on down to the store”, “get this”, “stop by my event”).

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great opportunity to produce content that creates opportunities for meaningful conversation to cut through the algorithm. It’s also increasingly important that businesses of all sizes are focusing on customer service replies more deliberately than ever — keep in mind that positive and negative interactions are nearly equally ranked opportunities to drive brand reach.

For now, short video is still king, with intentional organic content close behind. Avoiding an overflow of organic posts (posting just for the sake of posting) is the best place to start when it comes to improving your brand’s presence on Facebook. It’s also important to maintain an intentional, relevant lens with a consistent brand voice when crafting ad campaigns.

No matter the changes that Facebook may make over the coming months, telling stories with your paid and organic content is one thing that’s here to stay.

Kailey Emerson is a strategist for Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook’s response. Read the other posts here.

12 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – And Why It Still Works

Emily Martinez Facebook, social media Tags: , , , 0 Comments

So far, this blog series has discussed this issues surrounding Facebook, the platform’s reaction to these issues, and the changes being implemented as a result. This part of the series is taking a different approach. I want to talk about why Facebook is still an effective platform for digital marketing.

Despite the charges, changes, and Congressional questions, Facebook remains a pioneer in digital marketing with an enormous amount of active users and some of the most accessible targeting tools.

THE POPULAR VOTE

Facebook’s number of active users is in the billions. They were the first social media platform to cross that threshold and have maintained steady growth year over year. This platform connects people all around the world and provides a place to consume news, pop culture, and funny dog videos.

Typically, a scandal like Cambridge Analytica would cripple a business, but Facebook has not seen any significant decline in active users. How is that possible? Zuck touched on it briefly while fielding questions in front of Congress, but Facebook is not a platform with just one service. They act as a social network, a news outlet, a digital marketing platform, an online marketplace, and an event planning tool – to name a few – and they will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.

Even though the platform recently reported a decrease in active users from the younger generations, those audience members are still reachable on Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. and Facebook is making changes to increase user experience. Based on those changes, marketing professionals should be fine tuning their targeting skills right about now.

BULLSEYE

When it comes to advertising, Facebook has created an intuitive platform that remains a crucial part of any marketing strategy. Yes, the changes being implemented make it more difficult to get business accounts onto their audience’s news feeds. However, to offset these changes, will simply take a more detailed focus on the targeting tools available and possible pivots in strategy.

While we mentioned consumers’ ability to opt-out of sharing their data in the previous blog, doing so would prevent relevant ads from reaching those users. Instead, those who opt-out will mostly receive general ads for various unrelated products and services.

The tools to successful digital marketing are readily available and targeting allows businesses to get in front of the right audiences. This new era of Facebook will change the way marketers approach ad campaigns. However, the basics remain the same. A good strategy includes the target audience, and Facebook supplies the way to reach them.

Emily Martinez is a strategist for Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a look at what’s next from Senior Strategist Kailey Emerson. 

Read the next blog post here.

10 Apr

We Need to Talk About Facebook – New Blog Series

Allie Carrick Facebook, social media Tags: , 0 Comments

When news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm hired by several political campaigns, gained access to private information of more than 80 million Facebook users in March, I realized quickly this scandal had the fuel to impact every online platform. After all, online platforms had free rein to make their own rules and went mostly unregulated in the Digital Age.

Today, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress giving his account of where the company failed to prevent their platform from being used to harm the public interest. Full disclosure, this post was written before Zuckerberg testified, but there’s no doubt his appearance will be significant. Facebook representatives have appeared before Congress many times to testify on various subjects, but this is different. Zuckerberg appeared for damage control.

As I’ve spoken with clients, prospects, and members of our community in the past few weeks, it’s clear there are a lot of questions about what actually happened in this situation, how Facebook will change because of it, and how those changes will impact both users and brands on the platforms. Through this blog series, we hope to provide you with more clarity on the headlines and our perspective on what this means for social media marketing and digital advertising.

Allie Carrick is president and managing partner of Smirk New Media.

Editor’s Note: This is the first blog in a content series by Smirk New Media about the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal. Next in Smirk New Media’s We Need to Talk About Facebook series, a thorough recap of how Facebook got here from Smirk’s Founder & Chief Strategist Mike Koehler. 

Read the next blog in the series here.

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 2 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.

13 Jan

The Boomerang Theory

Lauren Ashpole digital advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Social, social media, social media strategy Tags: , , 5 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

26 Jul

Study: Ads on social media are no longer optional

Michaela Lawson Business, Content, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing, OKC, Oklahoma, Our Clients, Snapchat, Social

By Michaela Lawson

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.

Accepted

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.

16 Mar

Bridging the Social Media Skills Gap

Content, Facebook, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Marketing, OKC, Oklahoma, SEO, Services, Small Business, social media, social media strategy, strategy, Twitter

social media skills

By Michaela Lawson

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.

 

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