Category: social media strategy
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.
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.
Pinterest reached an incredible milestone this year — 150 million monthly active users, up 50% year-on-year. Also, they reported they’re serving 10 billion recommendations a day, 150 million visual searches monthly and more than 2 billion text-based searches.
For product-oriented brands, Pinterest’s Promoted Pins are an unbeatable opportunity to broaden your audience and expand engagement of organic Pins or videos that translate to impactful sales results.
Similar to Facebook’s Boosted Posts, Promoted Pins are blasted through Pinterest and exposed to more targeted viewers. This helps Pinners discover new things and ideas quicker. They stand out to users, regularly receiving more engagement and superior user ratings over organic Pins appearing in their feed.
Brands can purchase Promoted Pins for any type of marketing goals, such as raising awareness, creating engagement, or improving viewer traffic. You can designate how-tos, demos, sneak peeks, or ideas as a Promoted Pin on your board.
Promoted Pins raise awareness to a targeted audience that is already using the platform to search for ideas and products. As Pinners gain interest, your brand could gain a Pinterest following with the ability to grow exponentially.
With Promoted Video, a new feature that allows brands to broadcast videos to a broader audience, you can provide a more direct call-to-action for Pinners to click under the video for more on the products or services featured.
Pinterest is not important for every brand, but it is an effective platform to connect customers with products and lifestyle brands. With the right strategy, target audience, content and budget — Promoted Pins can drive profit.
Instagram’s newest feature is making waves of controversy in the world of social media loyalty as the capability seems eerily similar to Snapchat Stories.
The Facebook-owned photo-sharing app just launched Stories, a new feature that looks almost exactly like Snapchat’s Stories product. Both let users post photos and videos to a timeline that disappears in 24 hours.
The genius lies in the platform having a larger audience for brands and advertisers that Snapchat has failed to really leverage. Unlike Instagram, Snapchat lacks the appeal for users to follow brands on their platform, which is commonly used for more personal interactions between users.
Despite user Stories airing their dislike for the Instagram feature that is “copying Snapchat,” these same users are watching more brands’ Instagram Stories than Snapchat Stories. The fact of the matter is simple: the same audience is more willing to follow brands on Instagram than on Snapchat, therefore providing better access to Instagram Stories by these brands.
Nike has already seen that size difference in action, telling Ad Age that it got 800,000 views on a newly posted Instagram Story versus 66,000 views on its most popular Snapchat Story. Snapchat may have a higher ratio of loyal millennial users than Instagram, but Instagram has way more users overall.
Unlike Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories offers more features that are more advertiser-friendly in nature, including uploading from your camera roll and more creative pen options, including a neon pen. Instagram does lack the geofilters and ever-changing selfie filter lenses that are uniquely Snapchat’s bread-and-butter with their users.
Regardless, though, Instagram Stories is a marketing game changer for brands already on Instagram. Utilizing the new feature is simple and easy to learn, but like all social media marketing, know the platform before you go on a posting frenzy.
For strategic posting on Instagram Stories and other social media platforms, contact us.
By Michaela Lawson
“We need to stand out a little more. Any ideas?”
“Change the font.”
“Change the layout.”
“Change the logo.”
“Change it all!”
“Let’s break the Internet today.”
That’s about how I imagine the conversation went at Instagram’s headquarters last week, before the unveiling of their new layout and logo. The iconic brown camera we knew and loved has been replaced with a simplified white line camera imposed over a “rainbow gradient.”
“Let me be perfectly clear, I think the new Instagram logo is an epic monstrosity. I thought color gradient screens went out sometime during the Clinton Presidency. But alas, there it is sitting on my home screen like some rainbow Cyclops.” – Mike Koehler, President and Chief Strategist
It’s a classic case of trying too hard to cause waves of news among fans and media alike. While rebrandings and logo refreshes are often useful and needed, the public outcry regarding Instagram’s remodel is simple: you did too much at once.
The image-sharing platform was known well for its logo, and a modern simplification and refreshed version of it would have likely been received quite well. Most users have agreed that the updates inside the app are great – new font, emphasis on photos, simplified buttons, etc. It’s the logo change itself that has everyone in an uproar.
But how do you know if your logo has reached the level of identifiability in which changing it would cause outrage, rather than a warm welcome? When should brands revamp, rebrand or reimagine their logo? And what value can it bring audiences?
The Smirk team responds:
“Rebranding is something that is necessary – you shake things up, spice them up a little. However, I do think that brands need to be very cautious when rebranding because many will already have a set identity. … I think rebranding is more to “freshen things,” making them more modern and relevant to the world today.” – Liz Ramirez, Strategist
“The logo is the visual symbol of a brand’s identity. That visual creates a sense of trust and familiarity in the minds of your audience. Making a logo change is a big deal and should only happen if it’s necessary to revitalize your brand, increase recognition or eliminate an outdated look that isn’t resonating anymore.
If you’re a well-known brand and decide to make a change, keep in mind: social media will probably hate it. Rebranding causes reflexive reactions and those are often negative. Don’t change course based on the immediate reaction, listen to your audience, be responsive and transparent about the reasons behind the change.” – Allie Carrick, Managing Director
“Why do brands poke and prod their logos? Sometimes I think it’s to add some freshness or reinvent themselves when the brand might be taking a new turn. I’m all for that. One thing to do though is to run that new logo past some normal people instead of falling in love with your own genius, which seems to happen a lot. Make sure your logo means something in a not esoteric way, and for goodness sake, hire a professional.” – Mike Koehler, President and Chief Strategist
“I think a brand updating their logo is most effective when they’re rolling out other big changes … Like a website or an app interface, I think good design is rolled out in incremental changes rather than a total overhaul.” – Kailey Emerson, Business Development
Instagram communicated that the reason for the logo change was that “the Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day.” The went on to say that the company’s “updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.” To that, we say:
“While Instagram has evolved as a platform since its inception, its original logo was iconic and identified them as the digital equivalent of Polaroids. I think Instagram made this change without any substantive reason to do so and sacrificed an iconic visual brand association for something that looks like elementary level spin art.” – Allie
“I am not too keen on the Instagram revamp because I’m not sure if it correctly represents their brand. This past when I’m scrolling through my phone, I always over look the Instagram app because my brain is not used to the change. I think most people have negative reactions to logo changes because it is never explained why there is a change in the first place. If you get your loyal audience involved, the change won’t be so shocking.” – Samaiyah Islam, Strategist
“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you change something in the app. Brand overhauls make sense occasionally, but the Instagram update was not one of these occasions. A simpler, more modernized version of what Instagram already had would have been a much better option to roll out the new internal updates from the platform. Keep it simple, but keep it recognizable.” – Michaela Lawson, Strategist
“From a sales/marketing perspective, I think the redesign was genius because people are talking about the app. And I would be willing to bet they had a lot of people opening that app just to see what was new or changed.” – Lennon Patton, Business Development
With logos being at the forefront of any company – but especially those with apps – redesigns require a lot of thought, conversation and transparency for them to be received well by the public. Involving your audience with your company’s decisions is a very practical modern day phenomenon that makes your fans feel closer to the behind-the-scenes daily grind at your company. Don’t neglect your loyal following and remember how your decisions affect the ones who got you to where you are today.
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.
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.