Social Media Management

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You Are What You Read

Posted by Benjamin Porter

You are what you read. So we’re glad you’re reading our blog, packed with content tips and social media management tricks. After all, we’re experts. But what else should you be reading to ensure you get a balanced diet of noggin nutrients to maximize your digital engagement strategies?

Social media watcher Mark Hayes recommends Social Media Examiner, an information-dense, main dish type of resource. It’s the meatloaf of social media information consumption, if you will.

“This user-friendly site offers valuable tips for leveraging your opportunities on Facebook, Google+, Twitter et al,” he writes. “Whether you’re using Facebook for contests, Twitter for quickie ads or message forums to provide links to sites, you’ll find ways to enhance your marketing strategies. Social Media Examiner offers everything from advice on how to deal with website emergencies (such as security issues) to how to set realistic goals for your marketing campaign.”

Favorite side dishes around the office here at Brandsplat include Social Media Today for timely insight and analysis (like a spinach salad to add muscle to your social media plans), 12 Most for list-building inspiration (sweet potato fries, anyone?) and the smart, once-weekly Brain Pickings for discovering interesting new things (our version of spicy Indian-inspired green beans).

We also like Mashable for dessert. You don’t want too much of this sugary, image-dominated sweetness, but it’s a nice way to wrap up your reading. If you’re more of a cheese plate aficionado, try Forbes’ Social Media section. Less fluff, more substance.

Still, like any good diet, variety and moderation are the keys to good health. You wouldn’t want to consume information from just one of these sources and consider yourself well-informed. And don’t forget to exercise: Take some of the ideas you read out for a walk with you. Clear your mind and use them as a springboard for fun ideas you’d like to implement in your own diet (ahem, website). Then give us a call and put us to the test as to how we can help you realize those dreams.

But what say you, readers? Which blogs, news sites or other web-based sources do you rely on to ensure you’ve got a healthy amount of social media know-how? Sound off in the comments section below!

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2013-style Social Media Marketing is So Last Year: What to Expect in 2014

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

It’s safe to say we’re all finally on board the social media marketing train. Everybody, from billion-dollar-budget-wielding CEOs to small business owners, now recognizes the value of social media marketing. (True, some of them still don’t understand how and why it works, but at least they recognize the results social media marketing brings to their businesses. Phew! Glad that’s finally over with.)

But now, as companies are finally figuring out how to take advantage of social media darlings like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram to advertise their wares and get public reactions to both old and new products and services, the times they are a-changin’ again.

Take note, because in 2014, you’ll want to get on board with these social media marketing trends. Then again, why wait? Maybe it’s that Halloween is right around the corner, marking the official retailing kickoff to Christmas, but we’re in the mood to give you a head start.

Google+++

Are you still not using Google+? Sure, Facebook may still be the pack leader in social media marketing, but Google+ is now the second-highest social media outlet in terms of visitors (343 million monthly). This social networking wonder continues to prove that it is on its way to becoming a key aspect of Google’s SEO and social signals. This is especially true when you consider the only-months-old Google Authorship, which allows users to connect a piece of content with the Google+ profile of its author, which will be a cornerstone of the service by the end of 2014. Google+ will likely the “go to” social media outlet for businesses in 2014 because of its one-stop-shop ease. And let’s be honest: Google sets the rules on SEO, so it pays to play by them.

Image-ine All the PR

Social networks like Flickr, Mobli and Instagram are gaining far more exposure this past year than social media outlets that are text-based. In terms of marketing, pictures and videos say a lot more than words ever could. They also pose a shareability factor that words cannot live up to. In 2014, companies will be turning to video and picture sharing networks more. But don’t make the mistake that pictures are not content and therefore do not need to be managed accordingly: If a picture says a thousand words, you’ll want to make absolutely certain that all of them align with the messaging goals of your brand (hint: an outside reviewer helps).

Micro is the New Macro

Micro videos are becoming more popular than ever, thanks to easy-to-use apps like Twitter’s Vine and now Instagram’s video sharing feature. Real-time video sharing is basically providing you with quick and easy, organic commercial ads that can be made from your smartphone. No big budget required.

I See You Already: Let Go of Foursquare…

Foursquare is quickly becoming obsolete as other social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) continue to offer location-based features. The social media network already has reported a huge loss in 2013, and that is likely to get worse in 2014.

…But Don’t LinkOut

LinkedIn continues to be the most useful social networking site for professionals, and the site only continues to get better. The site’s Influencers program is helping to ensure that 2014 will continue to make LinkedIn the go-to website for B2B communication.

How about you, dear readers: Got a new favorite social scene? Scoop us in the comments section below!

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5 Things for October 4: Kleenex's Signs, Twitter's IPO & Fandango's Screams

Posted by Benjamin Porter

If you only read five awe-inspiring, toe-tapping, marker-moving stories this week, make it our weekly list of five things you might have missed!

1.) Sweet Screams: Fandango wants fans to scream their heads off on social media. According to ClickZ, “From October 1 to 18, Scream-Off fans can submit videos of their best ‘blood-curdling, skin-crawling screams’ on Instagram or Twitter, with the hashtag #FandangoScreamContest and @Fandango.” Fandango will pick a Scream of the Day and feature it on the site before moving it to the next round of competition. The best screamer gets a stay at the legendary Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where The Shining was filmed.

2.) IPOh!: Late Thursday afternoon, Twitter filed its paperwork with U.S. securities regulators in hopes of being a social media IPO that really delivers. Twitter is hoping that the ever-exploding mobile market will give it a leg up on Facebook. Social media marketers can expect Twitter’s decision to go public to mean a larger emphasis on advertising and mobile-friendly campaigns. But Twitter (or TWTR, as it will be known on the stock ticker) has a long way to go until it can bring in the ad bucks like Google or Facebook, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

3.) Drawn Together: Beer maker Steinlager wants its consumers to “be the artist, not the canvas” in a new spot which shows a mischievous young man who draws on his friends who have had too much to drink. The smart and funny commercial is accompanied by a “be the artist” app which gives users a chance to make and share their own ink masterpieces. 

4.) Adstagram: We knew it would come to this… Instagram announced this week that it would finally start delivering on the promise of introducing advertisements into U.S. feeds. Only a select group of brands that are already Instagram users will get to show ads first. The ads will slowly start appearing over the next few months. In contrast, complaints about the ads have already appeared on pretty much every other social network. 

5.) Bless You: Wrapping up our list is a little slice of online video creation that perfectly mixes “eww” with “aww.” The fine folks at Kleenex remind us not to get caught without a tissue by using people with signs telling their true sneeze confessions. It’s a simple, short and very memorable spot for a brand on the verge of a hipper, lighter digital makeover.

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How to Instagram Like the Big Brands

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

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Social media experts seemed a bit confused by Instagram when it first launched back in 2010. Would people actually care about photo sharing? Moreover, could this kind of platform really be social? And could brands find ways to make Instagram work for them? Three years later, the answer to those questions is a resounding “Yes!” Instagram has fast become the darling of social media marketing, and a new study shows just how Fortune 500 use Instagram. Turns out, the Instagram habits of the big boys are things every company can try.

According to the study conducted by TrackMaven, the best time to post on Instagram is, well, anytime. Marketing types often think social media ends with the workday, but TrackMaven found that user activity stayed virtually the same on Instagram on weekends as it was on the weekdays. As far as filters go, Fortune 500s used #nofilter the most on their Instagram photos, but the “Mayfair” filter performed the best. Also, Fortune 500 companies seem to be loving Instagram’s version of Vine  new video feature. Nike, Starbucks, Foot Locker, Apple and Ralph Lauren are the top five most active Fortune 500 brands on Instagram. Yet it should be noted that while 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have Instagram accounts, only 22 percent have active accounts.

For small businesses who want to get better at Instagram marketing, these are fascinating things to hear and chock full of lessons. For starters, post on Instagram all day, every day. Since photo sharing often happens from events (which happen whenever), normal business hours should be happily ignored. In fact, Instagram photos posted on the weekends have a better chance of getting “likes” with more folks off work and on their phones. Also, go crazy with the hashtags. As Mashable’s Jessica Lee puts it, “It’s often considered a social media faux pas to use more than two hashtags in a tweet; however, on Instagram, that rule can be thrown out the window. The data prove otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to on average 77 interactions per Instagram post.” Lee also reminds us not to clog the bottom of the post with hashtags; rather, we’d do well to pepper them seamlessly throughout the post instead.

Finally, in order to have big-time rocking Instagram success, you actually have to use the darn thing! Pictures from trade shows, mouth-watering snapshots of the day’s specials and exclusive backstage photos make for great Instagram posts. Remember, the top five only became the top five because they were inspired by Instagram’s endless ways to connect by sharing amazing, funny and interesting original images. 

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Hop on the Hashtag Bandwagon

Posted by Benjamin Porter

If you’re brand new to Twitter marketing, you’ve picked a perfect time to join the social network. Much of what Twitter users discuss is what’s currently happening in the world and there is a lot to talk about right now. From ObamaCare and the government shutdown to new episodes of buzzed-about television shows and from football to baseball, Twitter is on fire with hashtags relating to the things we are all talking about. Used correctly, hashtags can help brands join the conversation while potentially introducing themselves to a new legion of followers.

At the writing of this post, the following hashtags were trending on Twitter: #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, #Netflix, #Halloween, #Buctober and #America. If you haven’t used hashtags, that list might make zero sense to you. And that’s okay. Hashtags are simply ways to tag things others on Twitter are talking about — a way of joining and inviting others to join similar conversations. #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, for example, invites Twitter users to fill in the sentence with their own one-liners, funny memes or opinions. (This one, which referenced the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh, was the top of the pack, by the way.) But you don’t have to be born in the 2000s to take part in the conversation. Hashtag #Buctober is a shout out to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. Local brands like Pittsburgh eatery Primanti Brothers used #Buctober to encourage fans to come in after the big game. Trending hashtag #Halloween gave brands like ABC Family, American Apparel and Random House a chance to start trick-or-tweeting early with followers.

The key with hashtags is to strike when the iron is hot. Sometimes hashtags go on for days, but most peak in popularity in a matter of hours. Also, only use hashtags that relate to your brand and social media marketing story. If you sell cards, then #Halloween would be an easy one for you. If you sell tires, however, the hashtag of #Netflix might be a harder sell. But maybe you can make it work! For huge companies and mom-and-pop shops alike, hashtags and how we use them rely 100 percent on a brand’s creativity. Hence, the sky is the limit.

Readers, what recent hashtags have made you laugh, roll your eyes or get involved? Also, which companies rock a great hashtag? Sound off in the comments section below! 

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Online Video Creation & Google+, a Match Made in Heaven

Posted by Benjamin Porter

Social media marketing is a must to promote branded videos. Links to your company’s newest videos on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like are the easiest way to get your amazing online video creation in front of audiences. Posts with original videos make for dynamic and viral social media gold, so there isn’t a reason not to do it. Yet for our money, no social media channel is better for video marketing than Google+.

For starters, Google+ is incredibly YouTube friendly (naturally, given both channels are part of the Google family). This ease means original videos posted to Google+ can be added instantly to a brand’s YouTube channel. For anyone who has ever spent an entire day loading a video to YouTube, this is fantastic news. Also, videos uploaded to YouTube and then posted on Google+ look and sound great given there are no compatibility issues. And with Google+ Hangouts On Air, you can actually create live content which can also be saved to your YouTube channel. Hangouts On Air are used by tons of brands of all sizes for things like interviews, product reviews, conference coverage and live Q&As with followers. In fact, these hangouts can become a live event in themselves, potentially driving folks to your brand’s channels. If you’re good at rolling live and have a game plan for an entertaining segment, Hangouts On Air are a real solution for fresh video content. Finally, Google+ has dozens of ways to promote videos throughout the platform. Communities, for example, are terrific spots to place videos in front of handpicked audiences with interests in what you and your brand do. From bookworms and weekend warriors to travel lovers and fashionistas, there are Communities for everybody.

Finally, posting videos on Google+ has a distinct edge that the other channels won’t ever have: It’s Google! This means every time you create content for Google+, your company has just given its SEO a shot in the arm. Videos — and everything you post on Google+ — winds up in Google searches for your business. 

Readers, have you used Google+ for videos? Tell us your love stories (or tales of woe) in the comments section below.