Category: social media policy

11 Apr

Instagram jumps aboard the algorithm bandwagon

Michaela Lawson Instagram, Marketing, Social, social media, social media policy, social media strategy

By Michaela Lawson

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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

26 Sep

Did Google just destroy SEO?

Mike Koehler Content, Facebook, Featured, Google Plus, Google+, LinkedIn, Marketing, Pinterest, SEO, social media, social media policy, the internet is great, Twitter Tags: , , , , 1 Comment

Welcome to the world of “Not Provided”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



12 Feb

Vine – what is it and what you need to know

Mike Koehler Featured, life, social media, social media policy 0 Comments

Less than three weeks ago, Twitter launched its newest project titled “Vine” – a video sharing service that allows users to attach short, 6-second clips of video with sound to their tweets or post as a stand alone video on the Vine platform.

Many believe Twitter purchased Vine to try and compete with the popular Instagram app, which was sold to Facebook last year. Since the buyout, Instagram has been integrated into Facebook so pics can be easily posted to your page, but has conversely removed certain viewing capabilities on Twitter – causing many Twitter fans to look for alternative image sharing apps. Within 24 hours of the launch of Vine, it became the Number 1 app in Apple’s iTunes App Store under social sharing apps.

Vine is easy to use and no editing is required like more complicated video apps, however, Vine has some serious challenges ahead.

Yesterday, technology industry news site TechCrunch reported that Apple has changed the age rating on this new app to 17+ from its initial 12+ rating. Why the change, you ask? Porn.

Shortly after the launch of Vine, users began complaining about inappropriate clips being posted. Twitter and Vine quickly sprang into action and began censoring searches containing graphic terms, as well as the ability to block users.  The issue became really problematic when human error promoted a Vine clip to an Editor’s Pick that contained hardcore porn.

So what have we learned from all of this? First, the change in rating to 17+  is appropriate. Until Vine can do some thorough vetting of its users and weed out most of the inappropriate content, it’s best not to let your 14 year old download the app. Second, pay attention to new apps. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about an app called SnapChat that I felt parents should know about (read about it here). The more you know about these apps and what they are being used for, the better prepared you are as a parent.

Happy Fat Tuesday All,





24 Jan

Social Media in the Workplace: 5 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Allie Carrick OKC, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media, social media policy, Uncategorized Tags: , , , 0 Comments
Every organization faces a choice on what popular websites to allow on company computers. Social media is the taboo of the last few years. Social media availability isn’t necessary for every industry, but certain social tools can encourage digital team collaboration and boost productivity. Here are five mistakes your company shouldn’t make when approaching social media in the workplace.
Ban social media on company computers.
Design a policy on acceptable use of social media during work hours and open social media up company-wide. There’s untapped value in these tools and your team can benefit from using them to collaborate and to help in identifying potential customers. Social media has streamlined the hiring process and can do the same in a lot of different areas. Your sales team can use social media to generate leads and easily communicate with customers. Research and development teams can use it to brainstorm new ideas by seeing what is popular and what people are asking for. Design teams can derive inspiration for the next big idea from pins on Pinterest. The possibilities are endless for productive activity on social media.
Rely on email as the primary group collaboration tool.
According to comScore’s 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus, the time spent on webmail by 18-24 year olds decreased by 50% since 2010. Email is ceasing to be the only and best way to accomplish team tasks. Google made functionality strides when it converted traditional emails to long-running conversations in Gmail, but things are changing and Gen Y will operate differently than any other generation. More than 200,000 companies worldwide are using Yammer, a social site designed to streamline team collaboration. With both free and paid features, it operates similar to Facebook and Twitter, but exists only for company collaboration, file sharing and knowledge exchange. It’s a web-based and mobile capable platform to encourage productivity wherever your team is working from.
Relinquish ownership of company profiles.
A big mistake businesses often make is allowing one person sole access to all the company’s social profiles. This is setting you up for disaster. I’m not saying you can’t designate one person to be in charge, but other staff members need to have access as well. If someone leaves the company, you could before forced to start over if you don’t have the account information and passwords. Also, if that individual is employed elsewhere, it could also lead to another company receiving your followers. In your social media policy, it should be clear the company owns social each social profile and can revoke an individual’s access at any time.
Be unaware of what’s being said about your company publicly.
Especially if you work for a company with more than 10 employees, monitor what’s being said publicly about your company by potential customers and employees. Don’t be caught by a surprise social media scandal. Searching the different platforms occasionally for public mentions of your brand will help you stay ahead of negative attention.
Allow employees to educate themselves on social media practices.
More and more companies are having branded social media training programs created for their employees. Sprint employees complete a two-hour workshop called the Sprint Social Media Ninjas. After becoming certified ninjas, Sprint employees are continuously asked to contribute ideas for new ideas for the company’s social profiles. Doing nothing is not option. Blaming an employee for a social media regulation that didn’t exist, after an embarrassment, helps neither party. Designing programs specific to each business or organization is a Smirk specialty. Contact us for more information on social media company policies, monitoring or training your staff.
08 Jan

Real-time Scandals: The Benefits of Social Media Training

Allie Carrick Content, Featured, life, OKC, Oklahoma, Small Business, SmallBiz, social media, social media policy, Twitter Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

Social media provides so many opportunities to connect with the public instantly. The downside of the positive opportunities is the possibility for instant embarrassment.

Twitter isn’t the top used social media network, but could arguably be the most powerful. Reckless personal use of this platform has caused politicians to resign, gotten a Greek triple-jumper banned from the London Olympics and lead to the firing of a Chrysler marketing executive.

It’s obvious that in a moment, with a careless decision, a bad post on social media networks could negatively affect your life or brand. Posts can be deleted, but not always forgotten.

In the Chrysler case, a marketing executive was fired after tweeting an expletive filled rant about Detroit’s driving issues. Chrysler has just released a new marketing campaign promoting its made in Detroit status and the controversial was the exact opposite of its branding message.

Simply, think before you post. But, it can’t be that simple because if it was possible for people to just change behavior, they would. The larger conversation is that social media training is now necessary in the workplace.

Implementing a code of conduct will protect some employees from themselves. Negative actions on social media are usually dealt with after the fact. Your employees must understand their behavior is a reflection of your brand. With any behavior correction, the punishment can’t effectively prevent embarrassing behavior without a warning.

Social media training doesn’t have to be approached as a negative experience. It’s an opportunity to understand the dynamic of personal social media use before committing an action that can’t be reversed.

Nothing is truly private in the digital age.

Smirk New Media offers social media training services that can be tailored to individual situations. Let us know how we can help you.

15 May

Dear Smirk: A welcome letter from Tulsa

Mike Koehler Content, Featured, Oklahoma, social media, social media policy, the internet is great, Tulsa 0 Comments

Joining the Smirk team: We go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong

 Chips and salsa. 
Angelina Jolie and little third-world orphans.
Olivia Newton-John and black leather pants. 
Smirk New Media and Me.
That’s right, I’m the newest member of the Smirk New Media team, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve got a public relations background, and I’ve always felt strongly that PR and social media go hand in hand. After all, with social media, you can

Allison Broyles

not only monitor what others are saying about your industry and brand, but you can speak directly with a group of people who have willingly opted to listen to what your organization has to say, and who can provide value in communication back to you!

Basically, social media is a huge PR opportunity that many businesses do not always have the time or know-how to get started.
That’s why I love the mission behind Smirk New Media – to help businesses grow relationships with their key audiences online.
I had the opportunity to work with the CEO and chief strategist Mike Koehler in 2009 as an intern at Schnake Turnbo Frank|PR, and since then I’ve jumped into the PR game, specializing in strategic social media for businesses.
The past few years, I’ve gained invaluable experience in social media strategy and management for campaigns, fundraisers, promotions and events, working in many different industries including technology, restaurants, retail, nonprofits and more. I’m thrilled to become a part of what Mike has created in Oklahoma City and to help bring it to Tulsa.
This is the beginning of what I hope will be a beautiful and lasting relationship.
Love from Tulsa,
Allison Broyles
Psst…Find me on Twitter!
11 Nov

Crisis Mode Social Media Strategy

social media, social media policy 0 Comments

by Allie Carrick

Open dialogue between business and consumer has never been more public, practical and immediate. Using Twitter and Facebook to publically address PR setbacks has become standard practice. However, using social media this way can be hazardous to your brand if the use isn’t properly planned out. Here are few tips for preparing your organization for the social media obsessed world:

1.   Seek out advice on your social media needs or constructive ways to use social media in the event of a PR problem. Smirk New Media is here to help. We have an informed and educated staff that will equip your organization with the right tools to be prepared in everyday social media practice and in the event of a crisis.

2.   Implement an organization wide social media policy. We can’t assume people understand social media use within an organizational setting and its boundaries. Most of you have an Internet policy and social media requires its own. Make sure your organization has a clear, appointed social media director responsible for online presence. Be clear on what you expect to see on your organization’s social media accounts and inform each person on how you will use social media to communicate during a brand crisis. You don’t want individual employees spinning a message about things happening in your company that is the opposite of your company’s last tweet. Also, encourage employees to utilize privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter. Although they should still be mindful of things they say online, the risk of reflecting poorly on your company is reduced when the message is contained to personal friends.

3.   Plan for the worst. Have plans prepared for how your company will react if your brand encounters a setback in the public. Will your company ignore or delete negative Facebook comments? Will you positively address negative comments? Should you allow people to comment and see other people’s comments on a blog post you know will be controversial? These questions and more should be considered objectively and answered before an issue arises.

4.   Implement social media training. Don’t just throw a booklet at your company and hope they grasped the concepts. Hold face-to-face programs educating on social media and acceptable uses within the company. Equip as many employees as possible to create positive online presences.
5.   Learn from other companies and their mistakes. Learning from others is the start of a proactive effort to avoid mishandling your social media accounts. Recently, Netflix responded to a brand crisis by posting an apology blog from its CEO that was equipped with a Facebook plug-in. This plug-in allowed people to use their Facebook accounts to comment on the blog. The comments were public, and people could respond to previous comments. Allowing this feature on a controversial blog resulted in a hostile, negative environment where customers fed off each other’s resentments ON the company blog. The blog quickly received over 20,000 comments and the topics included angry rants and people suggesting alternate streaming and DVD companies. This was not a positive social media strategy and didn’t further that company’s positive image at all, which should be a main goal of organizational social media use.

02 Aug

Why wall off the web?

Mike Koehler social media policy, the internet is great 3 Comments

I spent a good part of last week with a group of interesting teachers from around Oklahoma. At the workshop, I was part of a staff teaching them about multimedia journalism and how they could pass that along to their students.

But an issue that came up again and again was the difficulty these teachers had accessing the Internet at all in their classrooms — let alone as part of a teaching or journalism tool.

There’s a crisis in our classrooms and it’s this: While the rest of the world uses the web to become smarter, communicate better and learn faster, students in Oklahoma have to learn with one eye closed and one hand tied behind their back. In the name of safety and security, districts have locked down some of the most fundamental sites on the Internet and keep their students — and their teachers — from being able to access them.

Who makes that decision? It’s up to the individual district about what sites are blocked and which ones aren’t. And that usually means either one paranoid administrator or, even more troubling, someone, somewhere in an IT department.

That’s right. While the business world is learning about collaboration and cloud computing, our kids can’t logon to GMail. While journalism is coming to the citizenry, our kids can’t access YouTube. Can students see the works of art put online by the world’s great museums? Can they learn languages easier or communicate with other kids around the world with the touch of button?

Who knows? It’s up to the guy who just installed Norton Antivirus.

Are there bigger problems out there for Oklahoma education? Definitely. But it seems hypocritical to me for officials to decry how competitive Oklahoma students should be, and how they need to return to the state after college in order to help Oklahoma compete on a global level, all while we close the spigot to the biggest river of innovation and information history has ever seen.

There are bad things on the web. Offensive sites and scary people. And I guess it’s easier to build walls than watchtowers.

But if the schools aren’t there to show their students all the good that is available online and how it can benefit them now and in the future, they will end up just teaching themselves and only seeing a tiny corner of what the online experience has to offer.



Join our email list