Facebook’s Latest Update: Bad News for Page Owners (Again)?

It looks like Facebook is updating its algorithm again, and it could be that Facebook Pages will take another hit to organic reach. This time it will be posts by your friends that get prioritized on the News Feed, which is great news for users and possibly bad news for businesses. This is, by in large, old news; Facebook has been hammering down on calls to action and clickbait content since November 2014. If you and your social media strategies have not adapted by now, then you need to step up your game and catch up to the rest of the social world.

Facebook has said time and time again that the type of content prioritized on your Followers’ News Feeds is relevant to their interests. And what’s relevant to their News Feeds? The type of content their friends share. Let that be a lesson to you: the days of pure advertising and calls to action are at an end in the social media frontier. To make it in this landscape, you, as a business, need to start becoming more human, and that means developing a brand voice and personality, and more importantly it means trusting your social managers to do their jobs. Of course that also means finding a trustworthy social manager who knows how to navigate the potentially dicey social media environment.

So how do you go about finding your brand voice? It depends on your business, obviously, but the first thing you should do as CEO, owner, president, or higher up management is set some ground rules. Are you a fun-loving business that likes to get into ridiculous conversations with your customers and fan base? Are you educational? Professional? Sensational? Ask yourself: How would you, the owner, talk about your company to interested parties? Take note of your vocabulary, cadence, and emotions. This is how you want your business to look and sound on social media, and that’s exactly the type of message you should get across to your social manager. When you’re online, you’re not a salesperson; you are a human being who is proud of their business or product, and you want other people to see that. Passion is contagious. If you feel it, your audience will feel it, too. That makes all the difference in how people react to your content. Be more human today.

Apple Watch: Yea or Nay?

Apple WatchOkay, this post is going to deviate a little from my usual fare of social media, privacy, and marketing entries, but I feel it must be said. I’ve worked in the watch industry for over five years, so when I heard that Apple’s got a new watch product, it really piqued my interest. What fun gadgetry can we expect from the computer giant? How will they innovate on an age-old accessory that has claimed a sizable piece of real estate in the “Men’s Fashion and Prestige” department? Then I saw the announcement videos, the renderings, and the previews and was immediately underwhelmed.

Will the Apple Watch be successful on the market? Yes, initially. People love brand new devices, and that’s doubly true for Apple products. In fact, I predict that people will be forming lines days before release to get their hands on one. Then will come the inevitable storm of unboxing videos, demonstrations, people excited for their snazzy new timepiece; the buzz will be spectacular. But what about the long run? What about long term success for the Apple Watch? That’s where I think the product will fail. Well, maybe not fail, but run its popularity course and disappear into, dare I say it, the sands of time. Why? Let’s explore a few reasons right off the top of my head.

Apple Watch Icons
Organization. Look, you’ve decided to go with a rectangular case, but your app icons are round. Not only that, they’re clustered closely together in different sizes and colors; it’s simply not easy to organize them or find what you want when you’re on the go. And if you’re going to be putting something on people’s wrists, you can be that they’ll be using it while walking. If we do that with phones, we’ll do that will watches, too, and with every gait and stride, we’ll frustrate ourselves as we tap the wrong icon for the bajillionth time thanks to the tiny screen. Will it actually be easier than I’m describing? I don’t know, but I intend to find out when I get to play with one at the Apple Store…and I’ll post an update when the time comes!

Power. Wait, you’re telling me you have to charge the Apple Watch every night? Or at least you recommend it or risk having your nifty high tech watch turn off when the power gets too low? People with mechanical watches have trouble keeping their timepieces wound and running. In fact, there are devices called winders that are specifically designed to keep automatic watches powered by rotating them and activating the rotor at fixed intervals. Furthermore, automatic watches need to be wound every 2-3 days if you wear them every day. You’re telling me that in this day and age, with this kind of technology, we have to maintain its run time more often than centuries old technology that doesn’t even use batteries? Come on, Apple! You can do better than that!

Apple Watch Use
Now let’s talk about the convenience factor. Does the Apple Watch offer any functions that your current smartphone cannot perform? If not, can the extra functions be performed by a cheaper alternative? From what we’ve seen so far from commercials and promos, the Apple Watch will let you open your hotel door or unlock your car doors (if you have that function on your vehicle), monitor your heart rate, and allow you to send doodles using its touch screen. Smartphones can already be used as hotel door keys, unlock car doors (again, if your vehicle has that function), and you can send doodles using its touch screen, all with the help of a few handy apps. As for your heart rate, a very nice heart rate monitor that also functions as a watch will cost you less than an Apple Watch, and they have vastly superior battery life.

The takeaway from all this: the Apple Watch can perform many of the same functions as your smartphone, plus a few features here and there. Those extra features, however, can be done by other, less expensive alternatives. And if you’re a potential buyer, chances are you already have a smartphone, which renders most of the what the Apple Watch offers redundant. What what about fashion? Surely it will be cool and trendy to wear such a prestigious piece of technology on your wrist, right? Of course, but if I know watch lovers (and I really do), they don’t wear their nicest timepiece every day. They’re for special occasions, and while not in use, they’re stowed away in glass or wooden cases, waiting for the next big event to be shown off in all its glory. Watches get banged up if you wear them every day, and every watch lover will have one that they won’t worry too much about if they get scratched up, cracked, or dropped. They’re called “beater watches”. The Apple Watch is a nice timepiece. Great price, too, but you can be sure people will feel just a little pissed off when they realized their snazzy smartwatch starts to get more than a few scratches on the case and glass. Look at how we treat our smartphones nowadays: protective covers, screen protectors, everything we can do to keep them protected and looking pristine. This will be a piece of wearable technology that buyers will be hesitant to wear every day. At the end of the day, people who purchase one will look back after a few months and wonder: “Why the hell did I buy this?”

Social Media and Customer Service: Related Skills

So what’s the difference between social media marketing and customer service? Surely the two share some intersection in the Venn diagram of your overall marketing plan. With small business, at least, your social media presence may be the first point of contact for existing customers that have inquiries and issues to be resolved; it’s much easier to get on a computer and type out your grievances than to call in and have to deal with automated messaging systems or highly scripted representatives. With mobile devices, it has also become more convenient and discreet, especially during work hours. That said, here are a few things to remember:

1. Courtesy – Tone is notoriously difficult to discern in text form, and it can become especially confusing on social media sites. Each social has an underlying expectation of decorum, one with which you must become familiar. Facebook interactions tend to be much more informal. While it may be tempting to emulate that informality in your interactions with customers, you must always remember to show courtesy and respect. They are speaking for themselves, and you speak for your company, which means you have more at stake in potentially volatile situations.

2. A Great Interaction is Worth a Thousand Likes – You shouldn’t be focusing on the number of likes and shares so much anyway; the name of the game is engagement. Positive engagement. If someone compliments you, your product, or your business, follow up! It’s important to get a good dialogue going while welcoming newcomers on your page to join in. And not just a “thank you”, and definitely don’t ask them to share. Ask them questions to get more specific answers on what they liked and why they liked it. Not only will you be able to show off your charming personality as a social media marketer, you will broadcast your expertise and authority over your product, service, or subject matter. Be reliable, always.

3. Treat Every Post Like a Tattoo – Sure, you can delete it, but you’ll want most, if not all of your content to be permanent residents on your social media accounts. Edits can be made, but that’s only effective before someone points out a mistake. Even if that happens, be sure to thank them for their input and confirm that the proper changes have been made. Deleting the comment will only make you look childish. The only exception is if their language is deemed unacceptable.

4. Give Credit Where Credit is Due – If someone compliments your customer service department on your social media accounts, make sure you let your CS Department know about it. Everyone loves it when their work is appreciated, and this is no exception. Take a screen shot, send it to a specific employee if their name was dropped, or send it to the whole department with a nice and encouraging note. That’ll put a smile on their faces, and smiles transfer directly to their voices.

Written Content – Tone and Approach

When it comes to content marketing, your tone and approach can make or break your strategy. This covers word choice, language, sentence structure, and generally everything under the purview of “written communication”. And let’s not forget about the place in which you submit this content. Long form blog posts will differ from Tweets or Facebook posts, and journalistic articles need to adhere to stricter guidelines in terms of how the content is organized and delivered. Marketing content have calls to action that creates an atmosphere of urgency.

A good writer will take advantage of the digital landscape; tone is difficult to mold and direct and not everyone will understand subtle jokes and satire. This means that, given the creative freedom they desperately deserve, writers and content developers can push the envelope when it comes to tone and subject matter in order to set the stage for audience reception. How they do this depends on several factors: the audience you have, the audience you want, and your company’s reputation. A bank seeking investors might write about numbers, risk assessment, and assets, but if they want people to use their services, they adopt a friendly tone and focus on savings, security, and rewards. Two different audiences, two different approaches. Once you’ve figured out your audiences, the next step is focusing on consistency.

Small companies might only need the services of a single copywriter or content developer, but when you’re talking about large corporations, you’ll need a small army to get through the workload. This is where consistency is paramount. When I say consistency, I mean all the things I listed about word choice, language, and sentence structure. Everyone on your content development team must be on the same page using the same tone and approach or you’ll end up sending mixed messages. You’ll want everyone to have as consistent an experience as possible, regardless of who they’re talking to or where they find their information about you. Think about how you speak to your supervisor versus how you speak to your colleagues. Note the differences in your vernacular and tone. That is exactly what writers need to be mindful of when producing content.

I’ve always said writing is difficult, and anyone who tells you it’s easy is either lying or has a very high opinion of themselves. It’s supposed to be difficult. Each writer has a personal style and structure, and that’s the part that comes most easily to them; if writing is “easy”, it most certainly means they are exceptional at writing in one tone and style: their own. When you write for others, you have to adopt a different voice and produce content for an audience you might not be comfortable with yet. Whether or not you can break down that wall of discomfort and get the job done speaks volumes about your writing ability. To do this you have to research your audience, gather data on how they communicate with each other, compare it to your company’s “personality”, assess the type of content your audience expects, produce that content, and then edit it into a satisfactory result. Writing is difficult. It can be frustrating, painstaking work, but it constantly pushes you to become a better writer and communicator.

Snapchat Ads – $750K/Day?

Snapchat has quickly risen to become one of the most popular social networks in the past year, and there’s no sign that their growing user base will stop or slow down any time soon. Obviously businesses and social media marketers are flocking to find a way to monetize on this; with social media, if you follow the people, you follow the money. However, if you want to advertise on Snapchat, it’s going to cost you a pretty penny; they’re asking for $750,000 a day for ads to run! While this isn’t anywhere near the realm of absurdity in the marketing and advertising industry, Snapchat’s inherent functionality have companies and marketers hesitating.

In order to succeed on Snapchat, you need to be prolific with your content. Very prolific. When you share an image or video, it only shows up for a short time on any given user’s device before vanishing into the ether. Since ads on social networks need to mimic the average user in terms of its appearance, they are also subject to this function. If you get right down to the nitty gritty, advertising on Snapchat means you’re paying a hefty sum for an ad to show up on a platform that prides itself on the fast-paced mutability of its content; users spend very little time looking content before it vanishes. To keep a photo or video up, you need to keep a sustained tap on it – something users would be loathed to do, especially for an ad.

So what does this price point mean? Smaller business will be left out of the loop, and larger corporations with the money to spend will need to focus on how to reach the Snapchat demographic (18-29) and keep their attention long enough for an ad to stick. So is the asking price worth the 100 million monthly users? If you equate this to normal analytics data, would a potential multimillion bounce rate be considered a success?

Instagram’s “Second Chance” Update

instagram-logoOne of Instagram’s most recent updates will actually allow you to revisit your old submissions and “revive” them by adding new hashtags. This was not possible prior to this new update; if you posted a photo without hashtags, then you’re just out of luck. You either had to live with your submission as is, or you had to delete it and submit it again. If some of your older pictures had very few likes, it might be simpler to delete them anyway and resubmit them, but if you’ve garnered a significant number of hearts already and would like more, updating the hashtags might gain you extra popularity for work you’ve already done.

So what does this mean for the future of your social media strategy with Instagram? With the right tools, even your oldest submissions can become powerhouses of popularity. If you use tools like tagboard, hashtagify, and hashtags.org, you can follow the most popular tags in real time. By updating your old content in addition to submitting properly captioned and hashtagged photos, you can drastically improve your follower base. Just remember to stay relevant. I would love to see how much this will affect #ThrowbackThursday.

I would like to thank Andrew Mucci for the information in his article.

Are Tips About Creating Viral Videos Useful?

viral-video-300x294Everyone wants something positive they’ve made to go viral, but whether it catches on is completely up to two factors: the effort you put into your content and luck. Mostly luck, because tons of viral videos and images took very little effort in terms of marketing and production to achieve their ultra-popular status. On the other hand, you could’ve put hundreds of hours into creating content you’re proud of and get very few views. And that’s where the problems with best practice articles come into play, especially the ones that give you a list of tips on how to make viral content. They’re intentionally vague. If a magic formula for virality exists, everyone would be doing it. Let’s explore the 6 “tips” from Social Media Today with a critical lens.

1. Make a Compelling Niche Video – All you need to do is offer something quality and original and niche…that’s it! That’s all you have to do! That’s like saying “All you need to do is take these tubes of paint and make a Picasso!” Let’s face the facts here: quality, original, and niche content takes time and resources; it’s not something you can half-ass or bang out in an afternoon. You need to worry about timing, environment, topic, execution, and reposting. And like I mentioned earlier, you can do everything right and still not achieve viral status.

2. Use Thorough Video Descriptions – Why wouldn’t you? This isn’t a tip! This is something you should be doing right from the start to take advantage of keywords for SEO!

3. Add Tags that Identify Your Video’s Keywords – This “tip” is unnecessarily separate from “tip” number 2.

4. Promote Your Video Through Social Networks – Again, this is nothing new. Standard practices are not tips.

5. Engage in Conversations on Youtube – Now this is a sound piece of advice. Many marketers forget to answer questions or make comments on their Youtube content. Taking this step can show you go above and beyond to engage with people who enjoy your content, and if there’s anything the people of Internet enjoy most, it’s that their opinions are heard.

I know this must all sound so cynical, but there are only so many best practice articles you read before they start becoming repetitive. Social media marketers are always looking for new ways to innovate their craft because the industry is in constant flux. Rules and tips that work today might not be relevant in 6 month’s time, trends change every single hour, and the global narrative of the Internet has no constant (except for the love of cats). Many of us look to sites like Forbes, Social Media Today, and Mashable to keep up to date with the latest tips and strategies. You guys and gals are the experts! Show us you mean business, because you’re held to a higher standard when it comes to your information!