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.

Social Logins: Facebook’s New Privacy Features

facebook logins

My aversion to social logins shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows my blog or has spoken to me at length about social media, but I’m always happy when any social site takes a step in the right direction when it comes to preserving the privacy of its users. Last year Facebook introduced a new Login system that would give people the option to opt out of providing private information when using their mobile app, a courtesy that was to be implemented on apps that can connect directly with your Facebook account. It looks like they’re testing those options now, which means many Facebook users will notice error messages when using the mobile app. As they work the bugs out, I hope the end result will leave the social media landscape a safer and a more private one. These changes are expected to start going into effect on April 30th 2015.

So what’s different now? In the past, the app would give you a list of information it requires for you to use it. That’s it. No options to opt out, no settings with which to fool around with; your information was essential to the app’s function. Now apps will (or should) ask you what information you’d like to provide and ask whether you would like to share information that the onwers of the app would like to have. I, for one, want to know exactly what my options will be for my favorite apps. I will give an update the next time I touch upon this subject.

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.

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.

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?