Category Archives: Instagram

Are You a Social Snob? Rethink Your #Twitter Practices

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If given a choice to return to one’s middle school years, it’s doubtful many would say, “Sure, sign me up. I’d live in middle school forever!”

Do you remember those days? Kids who sat at the cool kid table during lunch felt obligated to demonstrate certain behaviors to remain at the table. Those who were not at the table observed what it took to sit there with that group. While some kids imitated and embraced the game, others avoided these kids all together.

If you’re not embracing your social media followers, you’re still in middle school sitting at what you think is the cool table (or trying to get there)—and you’re losing thousands of followers, views, and potential advocates because of this hold over attitude from childhood.

Reasons People Use Twitter
Let’s consider why people sign up for social media accounts.

1. I want to make money.
2. I want current information and opinions.
3. I want to be entertained.
4. I want interaction with others.
5. I want to influence.

There is a common thread through each of these motivations. That’s right. “I.” People on your Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, You Tube or Twitter accounts participate for self-gratification—even if that’s on behalf of a mission or charity. In your real life (the one you physically attend), ignoring the person who wants “two minutes of your time” or not responding to the secretary who says, “Good morning,” might be expected behaviors of you because of your perceived status in your world—however large or small that fish bowl may be.

But, in the big bowl of social media, anyone can be a celebrity and anyone can be a flop. The real gems of social media achieve the above five goals for themselves and others (and have more fun) with the following best Twitter practices:

Follow Back Real People.
Look at who’s following you. Go over to the other person’s page. Preview his or her bio and last ten tweets to decide if he or she is legit. Then, follow back. Remove the person if he or she annoys you, spams you, or plays the unfollow game.

Celebrities and celebrity social medians, search your name to find out what people are saying about you. Just by following them, you’ll build bridges with both fans and critics. Following others doesn’t mean you’re endorsing them. People know that if you follow a lot fans, you don’t know them all personally.

Respond to Mentions.
For some social media users, the online sense of community begins to parallel real life. Maybe you’ve met some of your followers at conventions or know them through business. Now, you have a face with a name. If you know the person and don’t care to associate with him or her, ignoring or blocking that person’s Twitter or G+ mentions is okay. However, remember that social media is its own world. You may do more harm to your goals than good by being a social media jerk. If you rarely see the person in real life, how much of a threat does it really pose to be polite? Are you sure you aren’t the problem?

If you don’t know the follower and don’t respond to his or her mention, you taint your brand. Absorb that statement.  Giving the cold shoulder makes companies, executives, and celebrities look bad. When fans take the time to participate in live tweeting sessions for their favorite TV shows, movies, conferences, or books and receive no response, it’s a turn off. Respond appropriately after someone takes time to comment on your blog post, tweet, meme, or picture. Better yet, maintain the relationship by revisiting the person’s page a few weeks down the road and commenting on one of their tweets. You’re doing a terrible job promoting if you ignore the people you’re trying to sell. Communicating demonstrates that you’re human and worth admiring. If you have people who perform social media tasks for you, make sure they know your parameters and Twitter’s best practices. Newbie Twitter user Kevan Lee puts it this way,

“When someone retweets you, mentions you in a tweet, or favorites one of your tweets, they are seeking a connection with you. From a certain perspective, this is a truly humbling event. Someone has valued you and your profile enough that they want to connect. It’s kind of an honor.”

Start Conversations.
Challenge yourself to interact by starting a conversation. You might make a friend or long term fan and learn something new. If you’re the social median for a business, find customers by searching for your products’ or services’ keywords. Then, start conversations about how fans are using the products or services. If a blogger writes about your brand, reach out to that person and thank them (or at least connect with them via social media.)

Do not play junior high cool kid as a celebrity or executive. Be a leader. If you’re asked a legitimate question or someone offers a compliment or interesting observation about your brand, unless you have legal reasons not to do so, take a moment and respond! You’re human and your fans want to see it. If you are not human, can’t afford a really good ghost tweeter, or hate being social, stay off the medium.

Unfollow Automated Accounts.
Unfortunately, after a social media account grows to a certain size, fake accounts will follow you for a period of time in hopes that your followers will follow the fake accounts, too. This helps fake accounts to build followership so the owners of those accounts can tweet out articles with links for SEO and promotional reasons and have armies to boost numbers. This industry is big business. Don’t waste your time on the game. Generously add real followers, but ignore the profiles asking you to buy followers. You can usually spot them by their numbers. Anyone who has say, 150K followers, but is following 5K, is probably a short term follower of your account. Within a couple weeks, they’ll drop you and then repeat the cycle later if you drop them.

Use Lists.
When you add fans, your stream fills up with content. It’s now time to create lists. Create categories based on the type of content you really want to read. You don’t have to follow someone to have him or her on a list. Create lists for your hobbies, passions, charities, news, industry associates, or hard core fans. Now you have the option to read everything in your stream or to visit certain lists.

Twitter for Celebrities
You have the potential to be a better celebrity or executive in the social media world than you are in the real one. Start minding details and tweeking habits to better connect with your fan base.

If you don’t consider yourself a VIP, remember that social media is a level playing field. Anyone can become a social media VIP, just by fulfilling the needs mentioned above, while being a courteous communicator. Don’t live in middle school forever. The world is so much bigger.  ~Jean

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Filed under Branding, Google Plus, Instagram, Social Media, Twitter

Seven Social Media Mistakes

thumb downIn this day and age, social media is the quickest way to stay in touch with friends and family all over the world. With at least five popular platforms, social media is also turning into another way for businesses and individuals to promote themselves to others. Whether you’re just starting to dip your toes into the world of social media or you’ve been active for a while, there are certain guidelines to follow. An article from Business Insider (based on a survey of sorts conducted by a small business consultant by way of LinkedIn) helped narrow down the list of social media mistakes that are regularly being made.

Don’t post too often! Sometimes, often when people get bored or have time to kill, posting on Facebook or sending a tweet on Twitter becomes an hourly activity. Not only does this clog newsfeeds, it takes away from productivity. Think how much more you could get done at work if you weren’t posting every hour on the hour, even if it’s just a quick comment on something. While you want to actively post if you’re promoting a business, don’t post multiple times each day—keep it in moderation. However, do make sure to check your page often. Many times customers will post to your page or send you a message consisting either of praise or a complaint. More often than not, these comments go completely unnoticed and are left without a response.

Don’t avoid posting—followers do want you to be active on social media! Posting once or twice (at most) a day will suffice. Sometimes business only post once or twice a week! Followers may be more likely to interact with you if they see your name once or twice in a newsfeed where they see other names upwards of four times. Keep in mind that commenting on posts is very different from posting in itself—customers will be happy to receive a response from you on something they posted on your page, whether they gave negative or positive feedback.

Don’t post or share irrelevant information or content. If you’re a small business owner, say an online store specializing in clothing, don’t share political content or science-related articles via your business page. Instead, share a link to a new product you have in stock. Customers and followers want to hear about things relevant to them—they made the choice to follow your page, so make sure to consistently post things pertaining to your page.

Don’t limit your social media activity to just one forum. Many businesses create a Facebook page and think it is sufficient social media coverage. There is also Twitter, Instagram, G+, and LinkedIn (just to name a few). Why limit yourself? The only thing that could happen is your business could grow!

Don’t overshare on personal matters. Even if the focus of your time on social media is your business, you will likely end up making a page for yourself. When that happens, keep the private details of your life private. On each page, you represent your company, so your followers don’t need to visit your company’s page, find the link to your page, and see that your relationship just ended and you were out on the town the night before. Yes, posting pictures is fun, it’s a way for people to see you are enjoying life, but keep in mind all the people who could view your page. Each social media site offers a privacy setting, some even offer a way  to change who can see what you post—use these settings. Do not toe the line between what should remain personal and what should remain professional.

Don’t link to articles or products if the content isn’t complete! Everyone has come across it at one time or another—click on an article and begin reading only to notice grammar mistakes, simple spelling errors, or captions that are completely missing from pictures. It’s frustrating for the reader and it’s not going to give your company a professional image.

Don’t get involved in social media for the wrong reasons. Many companies are heavily involved with social media, but don’t jump the gun—work on building your company first, focusing on creating the relationships. After you have a solid customer base, progress to social media as a way to stay connected and keep customers updated. Creating, building, and maintaining relationships is a big focus for companies with social media activity.

It may seem daunting at first, but remember to start small and build your social media reputation as a small extension of your company. Keep the focus on your customers and your company, not on your personal life. With this list of basic social media mistakes, you’ll be able to build a strong social media profile to better connect with your customers and grow your business!  ~Hollysocial media icons

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Filed under Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Quora, Reddit, Social Media, Social Media contests, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, YouTube

The 10 Most Popular Social Media Sites and Why They’re Successful

Humans are social by nature and the multitude of social media sites tries to meet that need. Their popularity is measured by the number of unique visitors that each site has each month. With so many sites what makes the top ten stand out from the crowd? Each site identifies a new way for the members to connect with each other and makes it as easy as possible for them to make that connection.

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

Image courtesy of Flickr.com user mkhmarketing

1. Facebook – The most popular site with an estimated 900 million unique visitors each month. This incredible popularity comes from the wide range of ways that users can share information and connect with other users. Facebook has also taken full advantage of APIs and allowed their users to embed external content on to their personal profiles.

2. Twitter – Short tweets have become big news with an estimated 310 million unique visitors each month. Twitter’s popularity is based on the immediacy of the internet. Users can post short updates about their lives and easily keep their followers up to date on their daily lives. The final component of Twitter’s success is the ability for users to follow their favorite celebrities and feel as if they have a small connection to these incredible people.

3. LinkedIn – This is the first social media site with a specific audience in mind. This site is dedicated to individuals looking for professional networking. LinkedIn gives its users ways to publish their skills for potential employers to find. There is also a feature which allows the users to ask for an introduction to individuals through a mutual contact. Asking for introductions creates a method of networking that very closely resembles networking in person.

4. Pinterest – Pinterest owes its popularity to focusing on one function and then performing that function extremely well. On top of doing that single function well it is also simple to use so that no one will be intimidated by complicated methods of sharing information. Pinterest also focuses on what its users want their lives to be in the future instead of what they are right now. The focus on future hopes and dreams provides another type of connection that other social media sides do not address as plainly as Pinterest does.

5. Google+ – Google+ allows the users to customize circles of connections who all share the same interests. It also allows users to stay connected through all the Google applications instead of only on the Google+ site. The strength of Google’s software also allows its users to have video chats with multiple people at the same time. Finally by building a strong profile on Google+ individuals are building up their Google authorship and increasing web traffic to other sites created by the same individual.

6. Tumblr – Tumblr represents a combination of the immediacy of Twitter with the informative nature of blogs. Users are given the strong connection that comes from blogs as well as a much more social aspect that comes from easily sharing information to other users. Users are able to create customized profiles to highlight their individuality in a more visual way above and beyond the content of the blog itself. One difference between Tumblr and other social media sites is that the content can be found by individuals who are not Tumblr users.

7. Instagram – Instagram capitalizes on the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Instagram is targeted at the millions of mobile users who enjoy taking and viewing pictures on their phones and tablets instead of a traditional computer. Instagram also focuses simply on the images themselves and provides a simple method for viewing beautiful pictures. Instagram also provides a simple way for users to share their pictures across many social media sites without having to upload the same picture multiple times.

8. Flickr – Instagram may focus on quickly sharing pictures Flickr allows users to better organize and display a large collection of images. Instead of searching through cluttered news feeds or unorganized albums pictures can be easily organized and shared. Above sharing beautiful images Flickr boasts a large collection of communities focused on all aspects of photography from specific locations to the color orange.

9. Vine – Vine allows users a platform to post their short looped videos with the immediacy of a Twitter news feed. The incredible popularity if this app has created many Vine celebrities who are able to tell their stories in seconds. Vine, like Instagram, has capitalized on the number of people using their phones as cameras and has given them a simple way to display their creativity to other mobile users.

10. YouTube – YouTube has long been a popular site to search for a wide range of information. With 100 hours of video posted each minute there is a wealth of information to be found. YouTube also appeals to the new trend of video logging which is similar to the traditional blog but using a visual medium. Now YouTube is taking steps to become more social by allowing users to post videos as comments and increase their interaction with others who are watching the same videos.

Knowing why each site is popular can help you know how information is shared and who it is shared with on each site. This knowledge will help you create social content that others will appreciate and share.

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Filed under Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Social Media, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine, YouTube

Teens & Tech – Instagram, Facebook, and Other Teen Fads

 By My Web Writersteens and tech

Teens are trend-hunters. They enjoy scouting out the latest and greatest clothes, technology and fads and being the one who introduces them to their entire network. Where they go many, many more follow. The same is true with teens’ use of social media. There is much we can learn about the future of social media by keeping a pulse on what teens are doing and saying on their favorite sites. Here are five teen trends worth knowing right now.

Video Challenges

Maybe you’ve seen some of the outrageous challenges being posed by teens to other young teens on YouTube, Vine and Instagram. Take this fad and turn it into a marketing positive. Give teens challenges that are safe, but fun.  You might find your brand riding the next viral video.

Snapchat

Snapchat allows users to share photos, but only for a brief period of time. The website highlights that you can snap a quick photo, regardless of whether it’s perfect, embarrassing or silly and share it with a small group of friends to “live in the moment.” Then, as quickly as it was sent, it permanently disappears. Snapchat’s feature has the opportunity to be innocent and fun, but also holds the recipe for danger – especially for teens. Just as the teen trend of “sexting” continues, Snapchat has started a trend where many teens will share proactive photos knowing Snapchat will delete the evidence moments later. But like any Internet technology, one small glitch in the system can cause a personal photo to be saved and shared across many other social media platforms. For anyone, especially teens, this would be a devastating outcome.

Moving Away From Facebook

This report from Digital Trends shows that teens are losing interest in Facebook. They are not logging in and interacting with their account as frequently as they used to and are finding other trends and forms of social media to replace the purpose Facebook once served. There’s no doubt that Facebook is among the most popular and most well-known social media platforms out there, which is exactly why teens are showing signs of being “over it.” They want to be on the cutting edge of starting new trends not following what’s already been discovered.

Moving Toward Instagram

While the teen trend is moving away from Facebook, it is moving toward Instagram. The most popular posts on Facebook tend to be the ones that include photos and Instagram takes this to a whole new level. Teens love experimenting with Instagram’s different filters and editing options that take the “selfie” to a whole new, stylish level. It’s a form of self expression and a way to see exactly what your friends are doing at all times. And because Instagram has yet to be deemed “too mainstream,” teens continue to flock to this social media platform.

Bullying Gone Viral

The days of the playground bully unfortunately still exist, except now the “playground” exists on numerous social media platforms. Social media bullies have been given an even bigger megaphone with which they can inflict public embarrassment and harassment upon others. This must be closely watched as an emerging trend because it is being encouraged and even glorified with the popularity of social media. And the repercussions are deadly. Edudemic.com states that 51% of kids say they’ve been bullied online and 49% say they have been the online bully. What can be done? Just like any trend, it will meet its demise once it’s deemed “uncool.” Whether you’re a teen, a parent of one or a fellow social media user who is connected with one, we can all do our part to discourage and counteract social media bullying through our own actions.

What else will teens come up with? It’s hard to say! The power and connectivity of social media has created a generation unlike any before it. But what can be expected is that the challenges and dangers of such trends will be equally as advanced as the technology that is used to create them. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Audience, Business Strategy, Capturing Audience, Facebook, Instagram, Marketing

Marketing Short-Clip Videos: Vine versus Instagram

By My Web WritersVideo Marketing new

Video clips are a heavily used resource for brand promotion and marketing. They are more interactive and captivating than images alone and have the ability to convey a message without words. While not everyone possesses the talent to create award-winning films, technology has provided us with a few key tools which allows us to come pretty close – at least on an amateur level. Two phone apps, Vine and Instagram have recently hit the market and are making quite a splash. Both allow for users to record short clips and make them go viral in seconds. While the uses of these apps may appear similar, their features and functionality make them quite different. With a closer look at each app, you’ll see that they have a core audience and key purpose in mind.

Let’s look at Vine…

Pros:

Through Vine, you are able to create video clips that are six seconds in length. The concept behind such a specific time frame is to create a clip that is easily consumed by viewers. It doesn’t require as much commitment or attention span as a video of greater length. Also, with only six seconds to capture a moment, you have to be more creative with what you shoot and how you edit it. Vine also allows for videos to be looped, giving them GIF-like qualities. Finally, Vine videos are able to be embedded which is ideal for sharing on social media and placing on your web site or in an email.

Cons:

On the other side of the coin, Vine does not give you the option of filters or editing for your videos. This means that how you shoot it is how you see it. Also, Vine videos can currently only be shared to Facebook and Twitter. Other social media sites like Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare and by email require extra steps to market your video.

To summarize, Vine is the best video app for someone looking to create a clip with a moving/GIF-like quality image that loops. It requires creativity to stick to the six second time limit, but the reward is that such a short clip will likely be viewed more times.  Vine is not for the masses. It appeals to a niche market of users who appreciate the talent it takes to create a short clip without editing or filter features.

Now let’s compare Instagram…

Pros:

In the battle of video apps, Instagram has differentiated itself from Vine by allowing users to create clips that are 15 seconds in length. This is a great advantage to the video’s creator who has more than double the time to tell a story. And telling a story is exactly what Instagram is designed to do! This length of time allows for a beginning, middle and end all within a quarter of a minute. Instagram offers filters to enhance how your video looks, image stabilization and the ability to delete the last clip. Unlike Vine, you can share your video to six different platforms including: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, Email and Foursquare.

Cons:

Although Instagram has many advantages, it’s important to also consider its drawbacks. This app does not feature looping, meaning viewers must click to replay the video each time. Also, videos are not embeddable which limits how you can share and promote your work. Finally, the 15 second video length is a pro to the creator, but it can be a con to the viewer. With our ever-decreasing attention span, even 15 seconds can feel too long and you risk viewers tuning out or turning it off before your message if fully relayed.

To summarize, the Instagram video app is ideal if you want to tell a story in a brief period of time. The fancy features such as filters, stabilization and editing allow you to run a “mini cinema” from your phone and easily share it across your social networks. This app is made for the masses. But when trying to be everything to everyone, it loses its niche appeal. ~Stephanie


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Filed under Instagram, Social Media, Video Production, Vine, YouTube

12 Steps to Create Your Own Infographic

My Web Writerseaselly_visual

It seems like there are infographics to cover every topic. There are even infographics about infographics. What if you have information that you want to tell others, but there is no premade infographic that has all your information? It’s time to make your own. Stumped on how to do that?  Follow these 12 steps to create your own.

Infographic Prep Work

1.      Plan it Out. Know what information you want to give to your readers. Keep your message short, simple, relevant, and original.

2.      Be Specific. Give your readers more than superficial details. Go in depth. Be sure you have correct information. Correct and specific details build your credibility.

3.      Balance Information with Graphics. Infographics shouldn’t be too wordy, but they do need words to get your point across.

4.      Grab Attention with a Headline. Your headline brings in readers. Make it snappy!

5.      Keep Attention with Sub-Headlines. Sub-headlines draw your readers’ eyes through your infographic. Give your audience reasons to keep reading.

 6.      Match Your Tone to the Information. You do not want to detract from your message by making light of a serious topic. Humorous information loses appeal if it is presented in a serious tone.

You’re half way there!  Once you have the information portion of your infographic lined up, it’s time to focus on the graphics.

Designing Your Infographic

1.    Find a Template. There are many websites that offer free templates that you can use, but most of them require you to register with them.  The three largest sites are infogr.am, piktochart, and visual.ly.  There are also templates that work with Microsoft PowerPoint from this blog post. No matter where you get it from use a design that catches the eye.

2.    Choose Your Colors. Use color wisely. Too many colors look chaotic, but too few look boring.

3.    Choose Your Fonts. This is not the time to use every font you can. Focus on readability and restrict yourself to only a few font choices.

4.    Create Your Graphs. Just like with the sources for templates, there are many websites that create graphs for you. Microsoft Excel is also another source for graphs if your information is already in a spreadsheet.

5.    Create Space. As you are putting all the pieces together remind yourself, infographics that share too much information look messy. Allow some open space around your graphics for a more readable finished product.

6.   Put it Out There. After you create infographics, they won’t go viral overnight. You’ll have to work to get them noticed. Share them on Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.

It may take a few tries to create the perfect graphic. If you have a relevant message and are using good information people will want to share it. ~Megan

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