Updating Again Soon

I realized it’s been two years since I updated this blog, but with the recent events regarding data, privacy, and social media, I feel it’s important to dust this place off and start writing again. Stickied to the top of Robots Nobots is a post I wrote four years ago about the dangers of Social Logins and how your information, along with all your friends, is being bought and sold simply by clicking a small, convenient button. Seems it’s gotten worse since then with the explosion of Apps asking for “permissions” before you get to use them.

These topics are relevant. They will always be relevant. To anyone who happens upon this blog, I hope you enjoy my content.

Social Media Turning Into Storefronts

If you take a look at how social media sites have evolved in the past few years, you’re going to see a pattern: they’ve all become places for companies to place their ads and initiate marketing efforts. It’s a billion dollar industry. After all, you always have to take your business to where the people are, and people are spending a great deal of time on social media. So what’s the next step? Bringing your marketplace directly into social media, of course. You can already set up a storefront on Facebook, but the interface is clunky and limited in its appearance; it’s just not an appealing place to shop for anything other than apps. Pinterest, with its cleaner design and focus on images, seems like the perfect place to put a “buy it now” button, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

In a recent update, Pinterest announced that it will be making it easier for people on iOS and Android (later) devices to link their Pinterest App to their credit card information. This “Buy Button” has a similar setup to an iTunes account, which allows you to buy music and videos directly. Business who have “Rich Pins” set up will then have the option of allowing customers to purchase items through the Pinterest App. As far as social media marketing goes, making it easier for people to instantly buy items of interest is a brilliant idea. It plays on the customer’s impulses; you can expect low-cost items to sell at greater volumes. If there’s anything I can compare it to, it would be the Micro-transaction* function from the gaming industry. The only difference is you get something tangible in return for your money.

*Micro-transactions are low-cost purchases in many free-to-play games that grant you access to limited items, extra play time in cases where the number of actions you take are limited per increment of time. These range from 99 cents to hundreds of dollars depending on the popularity of the game. These games are also called “Freemium” games. Personally, I despise this sort of practice and will not endorse any company or developer who employ this unethical tactic.

Pinterest: Motion-Based Pins

I don’t know about you, but I have a general dislike of “autoplay” features on sites whenever they feature a video. They’re indiscreet, and if you don’t have headphones plugged in, there’s a good chance you’ll end up disrupting others around you or embarrass yourself due to out-of-context audio clips. Facebook counteracted this bit by muting videos until you tap or click on them. When I saw what Pinterest was up to, I felt pretty excited: motion-based promited pins for businesses.

Let’s face it, video isn’t really Pinterest’s usual flavor, even if they are a powerful marketing tool. Their motion-based pins, however, makes use of a GIF-like format – moving images linked to videos, but they only “play” while the user scrolls. Not only is this eye-catching, getting people to scroll up again for a second look will make it more likely for users to see related pins. Combined with videos linked along with the motion-based pins can prove to be an excellent way to drive traffic to your site. You continue to impress me, Pinterest. I can’t wait to see where else you’ll go!

Success in Social Media: The Path

How do you measure success in social media? I’ve been asked this many times during interviews, and I always answer the same way: any and all interactions that place your brand in a positive light. Many people might disagree with me and focus more an metrics and numbers, but if we look at the path social media marketing has taken in the past few years, you will see that the measure of success has shifted into a more subjective realm. Does that mean the metrics and numbers don’t matter? Of course they matter! That’s the point of marketing, isn’t it? But in social media, the marketing aspect has quickly shifted over to branding, presence, and overall engagement with your followers.

Let’s take a look at the original metric that social media marketers used to measure success: Followers. The more followers you had, the better, right? Having a huge number of Likes on Facebook means that people actively sought out your page, clicked the Like button, and would then receive news and updates whenever you post them. Well, at the time it was the only important metric you had.

Social media marketers then started to focus on creating viral content, and the measure of virality was the number of Likes and Shares a post received. In came the flood of clickbait titles, “Like if you agree” image macros, and “Share if you love your mother” posts. Companies wanted to know that their content was being consumed, or, with the changes to the Facebook algorithms, seen by their followers. We’re at the tail end of this practice now, and we’re quickly shifting over into forming direct, emotional connections. Frankly, I feel like this should’ve been where we started as social media marketers.

How do you create emotional connections with your followers? Just check out the tagline of this blog: Be more human. That the adage by which I formulate my social media strategies, and companies and brands should pay attention. Be more human. Just take a look at the first word in “social media”! It’s “social”! The more you advertise and broadcast to your followers, the faster they get fed up with your content, which means they’re more likely to just ignore you. When that happens, say goodbye to your organic reach, which means you pay more to advertise your content, which exacerbates your problem. Literally throwing your money away. People on social media don’t want to be bombarded by ads on a daily basis. To reach them, you have to become like one of them, which means using the social media site as it’s intended: to create connections with people on a personal level. The playing field is already set; you just have to play the game instead of trying to create your own rules!

Each social site has its own expectations of etiquette and behavior. On Tumblr, for example, you’re expected to have fun and not take yourself too seriously. On Instagram, you need to show of your staff and show everyone what you’re up to. On Facebook, you want to be the person starting conversations and share your opinions (just be careful about this part).

If you’re likeable to the point where people can relate to you, they will take the time out of their day to support you. So how do you measure success in social media? Be more human today.

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?

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!