How Strong is Your Snapchat Game?

You’ve been told over and over again that what you put on social media can haunt you forever. Unless you use Snapchat.

Snapchat, a popular picture-sharing app, shares videos, pictures and drawings with your friends for a pre-determined amount of time before it deletes the content. What started as a service to use among friends is now being leveraged by brands who are looking to target a younger audience. There are 400 million “snaps” sent each day, and 26 million active US users, so of course businesses are looking for ways in. But is Snapchat an application that brands can successfully use to reach their target audiences? And if so, what are some best practices for using it in a social marketing capacity?

While Snapchat’s user base has been growing by the millions, only a small fraction of its active users are brands. This is because Snapchat presents a few unique challenges for brands looking to leverage the app as a marketing tool to reach the coveted teen demographic.

The Challenges

  • Lacks editing capabilities. Marketers cannot edit the images they send out to improve photo quality.

  • Discoverability on the app is limited. Your audience isn’t likely to find you on Snapchat unless they make the choice to add you as a friend. This means that your brand will need to work on heavy promotion in other places to draw in users.

  • Basically no metrics. With a lack of in-app metrics, Snapchat does not allow you to track the success of your campaign.

With these massive obstacles standing in your way, is Snapchat really worth it? Depending on your brand’s audience, it may not be. But for brands looking to catch the eye of the teen demographic, it could be a fun, new way to expand your audience reach.

Your Snapchat Strategy

Having trouble coming up with ideas for your Snapchat marketing campaign? Try taking advantage of someone else’s. Recently, Tongal ran a contest that drew 584 ideas for how top brands can up their Snapchat marketing game. Some ideas included a city naming contest for free airfare through Southwest Airlines and cheat codes for EA Games’ most popular video games.

Will your brand add Snapchat to its social media basket?

Check out this infographic by Marketo to find out more about Snapchat’s user demographics, a few of the brands who are using it successfully, and some best practices for brand communication on Snapchat.

 snapchat-infographic

8 Tips for Social Media Spring Cleaning

Regardless of what Mother Nature is telling us, spring is here! Winter is a popular time to hunker down and flip on cruise control until the warm weather arrives again. A good social media spring cleaning might be exactly what your company needs right now. You should be doing regular maintenance in the winter, but right now is the time to optimize and revitalize your networks!

  • Make sure all addresses, phone numbers and emails are up to date. This is also a great time to add and update pictures of employees to the website and social media platforms. Adding that personal touch goes a long way. Let the public know how your company has been performing by adding recent awards and client testimonials.
  • Double check that each social media account has a secure password. Frequently updating passwords is an easy way to avoid getting hacked. Don’t forget to remove anyone as an admin that is no longer with your company.
  • Giving your avatar and cover photos an update will refresh your company in people’s minds. Don’t change it up too much or people won’t be able to identify your brand. Make sure that each photo adheres to each specific platform’s settings. A photo that is not sized correctly can turn off potential customers before they even get the chance to dive into your content.

secure passwords

  • Make sure everyone controlling your social media pages is caught up on the new features that social media platforms have recently released. We all know social media is rapidly changing, so it’s essential that everyone is informed and educated about new functionality.
  • Tidy up your fans and followers. Sure those high numbers look great at first glance, but clearing out inactive clients will give you a more polished look. It also allows you to engage with the right people easier. Are you following spammers or people who don’t give you any value? Clean those accounts out to start fresh.
  • Do your goals still align with your company’s? Reassess your company goals in the short-term and long-term. That way, all employees know exactly where your company is heading.
  • Update your contact list and see if there have been any prospects that fell through the cracks.
  • People are creatures of habit. Go over your last few weeks or months of posts to see the ROI. Creating valuable, insightful content each day can be tough; sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. If your posts are starting to taper off of engagement, get some fresh eyes on them. Get different people in your company to post on certain days. Keep an editorial calendar to prevent double posting content. This will also help maintain consistency throughout your messages.

espcalendartemplate

Nothing is more motivating then a good spring cleaning. That goes for your house and your company. Is your company already sparkling? What other steps do you have on your spring clean list?

7 Things You Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Sites

According to the latest data from BI Insider, the average American spends a little over half an hour per day just on social media sites. That’s a bigger amount of time than any other internet activity—including email. This is doubly impressive considering that is roughly a tenth of the time spent in front of the television, according to Nielson.

While social networks are slowly gaining more eyeball time with the average American, it’s becoming harder to keep attention on your brand. There are a variety of social media sites, and that number is growing every day. You can’t afford to run someone off of your brand. I’ve already talked about etiquette in a previous blog but this is about social media strategy. If you want to keep people in your sales funnel, avoid these seven social media sins!

Pinterest

This is perhaps the most focused and tight-knit of the major social media sites, in my opinion. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, where anyone can pretty much talk about anything, Pinterest is more focused on the appreciation of visual content—usually in the form of crafting and homemade items. It’s important to have an amazing piece of visual content on Pinterest, but make sure you don’t forget to link to what you’re pinning. There is nothing more annoying than finding the coolest Star Wars ornament pinned somewhere with no way of getting any details about it.

pinterest_facebook_9

LinkedIn

The most popular social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn has grown from a place to post your resume to a full-blown social network! While it’s great to like things and post content on LinkedIn, please keep in mind that you’re not on Facebook. Don’t get too casual! There is nothing worse than discovering a potential graphic designer for your company, and seeing SpongeBob Squarepants picture with the tag Who’s here to party?

Google+

It’s no secret that Google+ is a bit of a mystery when it comes to social media strategy. Some use it for SEO, while others enjoy the combination of visual content and longer written pieces on the social network. Not matter how you use Google+, please don’t over share. It’s just too easy to quickly share really good, visual content on the site, and many marketers can’t seem to help themselves. Use Google+ to promote the message of your brand and avoid the cat pictures.

Tumblr

Some would scoff at using Tumblr in their social media strategy, but there are some great opportunities on this visually centered social network. Teenagers and younger adults seem to enjoy the direct, earnest nature of Tumblr. The key is to avoid shotgun design. In other words, don’t just throw content up on your Tumblr. The best contributors have an obvious visual theme and they stick to it. 

Hashtags, Hashtags and More Hashtags

The hashtag is so addictive and now you can find it on multiple social media sites. It’s been mentioned before but it’s worth noting that you need to stop using any hashtags on Facebook. Not only is it doing nothing to draw attention to your brand, it might even be hurting it. Even if it isn’t affecting your social reach, hashtags on Facebook look misplaced and amateur.

willcoley2

On Twitter, it’s important to understand how to use hashtags properly. A hashtag on Twitter is like a place marker for content. It makes it easier for followers and potential customers to find you. Most brands can be summed up in a word or two, so don’t use too many hashtags. Over using hashtags (#like #putting #one #after #every #word) makes it harder for people to find you. It also looks terribly like spam. Furthermore, hashtags aren’t part of your sentence. They’re extra bits of information to help get your brand noticed. They don’t need to be separated by commas or anything else.

Have any other things turned you off from a brand? What’s been bugging you on social media sites lately? Please comment below!

Social Media Takes Over March Madness

Nothing screams “productivity” like March Madness and social media.

The NCAA knows how to harness the power of social media. The three days after Selection Sunday, there were over 135,000 tweets with #MarchMadness in them. In 2012, @MarchMadness had 38,000 followers and this year they have over 223,000. Last year’s NCAA championship game drew 23 million viewers, second only to the Super Bowl. During the 2013 tournament there were over 16 million tweets about the games in a three week span and the championship game generated 3.3 million tweets on its own.

This year, the NCAA has included ties with Vine, Instagram, Facebook and tablets from Amazon and Microsoft. It is the first time fans will be able to watch live games using an Amazon Kindle Fire, Microsoft Surface and smartphones with Microsoft Windows 8 operating systems. The NCAA is also allowing people to access the March Madness Facebook, Twitter, Vine and Instagram sites without leaving the NCAA website this year.

The big upset is one of the main attractions of the tournament that draws even the most casual of fans. This year has not disappointed and the upsets came early and often starting with the Cinderella story of 2014, Dayton beating Ohio State on the first day of the tournament. Riding that momentum, they were able to upset Syracuse Saturday which even caused a shout out from The White House and Barack Obama.

whitehouse

One team you can almost always count on to show up for the tournament is Duke, but not this year! Mercer took them out on Friday, which if you somehow had Dayton beating Ohio State then this was probably your bracket buster. This was the second consecutive year that Duke was upset in the tournament. They lost to Lehigh last year, who tweeted out to Mercer after their victory.

lehigh

Warren Buffet and Quicken Loans made the biggest news this year. In January, Quicken and Buffet announced they would reward $1 billion to anyone who fills out the perfect bracket.This is almost an impossible feat. The odds of picking a perfect bracket are about one in one billion, but should someone be lucky enough to win, they would be entitled to $25 million annually for 40 years or an immediate sum of $500 million. What would you choose? Unfortunately, it only took three days for the last perfect bracket to fall. Thanks to Dayton and Mercer, the final bracket was busted when Memphis beat George Washington on Saturday night.

How’s your bracket doing? I had Wichita State winning it all so you can imagine how I feel today. Let’s talk sports and social media on Twitter!

Bruce Lee, Astrology and Social Media Marketing

Would Social Media Have Kicked Bruce Lee’s Ass?

I’ve never been a strong believer in the validity of Astrology. I mean no disrespect to those who are. The truth is, I don’t understand how the positions and motions of the moon, sun and planets could affect human emotions and actions.

What I do understand is that the people who believe in this connection tend to be pretty serious about it. My birthday falls on the Summer Solstice (June 21) and I’ve been asked multiple times by very passionate individuals if I understand what a “cusp” is and which sign my personality leans towards. Recently, I got carried away hopping from website link to link (astrology supporters would say this is my inquisitive Gemini side) and ended up on a totally random yet interesting site that broke down celebrity traits based on their astrological sign.

Of course, I had to check out Bruce Lee (rest in peace). As it turns out, he was much better suited to martial arts and acting than social media marketing, and here’s why:

Lack of Consistency. According to TopSynergy, Lee’s conflicting and unpredictable nature lead to a life full of emotional extremes and inconsistency. Katie Otto of Endurance Marketing doesn’t think this would translate well to social media. In a recent blog post about producing stellar social content, she shares, “It’s small messages that all add up to make your brand…every post will build your brand’s unique identity whether you like it or not. If you remain consistent, people will get to know the real you.” If TopSynergy’s analysis is correct, Lee’s “high and low” personality might have led to weak content on the days when he was less than 100%.

What can we learn from this?

We all have days when we’re not quite on our game or have a lull in creativity. But how can you continue to create high-quality, engaging social media content during these times? In this guest blog for Y Marketing Matters, Samia Zaky recommends keeping a monthly content calendar to prevent social media writer’s block. Of course, it’s key to record all of the brilliant ideas that come to you on your most creative days. Then, on your not-so-awesome days, you already have solid content ideas in front of you.

Brucey Pic

Inability to Self-Analyze. Of Bruce Lee’s many strengths, the ability to analyze himself in an objective way was not one of them. While he surely sensed and felt what was going on around him, he did not necessarily reflect upon or understand his experiences. When applied to social media, this would have been a problem. The best approach to social media has always been tied to analyzing data and adjusting based upon what is learned. This is increasingly the case today. Check out my colleague’s recent blog on algorithms and big data if you need convincing.

What can we learn from this?

Few people excel in both math and creative writing. Luckily, there are tons of tools out there to help you learn which parts of your social strategy are working well and what needs adjusting. These solutions range from free options like Facebook Insights to much more robust tools like ViralHeat’s analytic and reporting features. Social Media Today was kind enough to compile a comprehensive list of the best social media analytic tools here. Of course, if your company needs help making sense of your data and avoiding “analysis paralysis,” StrataBlue is here to help.

Connect with me on Twitter @AHersh317 and tell me your favorite Bruce Lee movie, social media tips or any other random thought you might have. I’m always looking for a creative angle for my next post.

Not Even Ron Artest Could Wreck The Pacers’ Social Mojo

As a kid growing up in the Hoosier state, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Pacers. Watching Reggie Miller, the Davis “brothers” and the Dunkin’ Dutchman battle the Eastern Conference elite was a staple of my childhood and something my family enjoyed together.

I was a rowdy fan when we lost to the Lakers in the 2001 Finals and throughout the Jermaine O’Neal years (I still have a pretty clean pair of #7’s Nikes circa 2002) until my fandom was jeopardized by a tiny scuffle at the Palace at Auburn Hills. I wasn’t the only fan who expressed disappointment with the team through boycott. The Pacers were in the NBA attendance basement for several years after the event, including a dead last ranking in 2008.

Fortunately, today’s Pacers are positive role models, talented and light years away from the franchise’s darkest days. As a result, fans are back in full force. Just check out this side-by-side picture showing you the difference between then and now:

Pacers Transformation

But it hasn’t been solely the talented roster, our young head coach or a legendary President of Basketball Operations that have stepped their games up. It’s been an organization-wide effort including the Digital Marketing team. Consider how the team’s approach to social media and fan engagement has helped contribute to the revitalization of the Pacers’ fan base.

They Distribute Great Content

The Pacers’ Digital Marketing team utilizes Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to connect with fans and share content. Using such a robust and well-rounded mix of social platforms allows fans to connect with the team in their own preferred way. They’re also sticklers about getting the right content on the right platform at the right time. For example, on Instagram fans see images depicting intimate almost “behind-the-scenes” moments allowing fans to feel privy to something special. On Tumblr, the team tells a story through classic photography and connects fans with the team’s rich history.

pacers twitter

 

What other content does the team consider “high quality?” According to Celeste Ballou, the Pacers Digital Marketing Manager, the team focuses on “getting great photos, quotes, linking to relevant, interesting content on our websites, ticket offers, and creating well-designed graphics that excite fans enough for them to share and like.”

They’re Focused on Engagement

The team’s dedication to fan engagement has been noticed and appreciated by many. This approach helped them surpass 1,000,000 Facebook fans earlier this year and recently landed them an NBA award for Social Media Engagement. So how exactly do they foster social engagement? Here are a few specific types of content they offer: About the players info, game schedules, mid-game posts and score updates, questions to fans, and game results. According to PRWeb, another key component of their engagement is tied to how often they reply to fans’ messages. The Pacers excel in this area, trailing only the Brooklyn Nets in this category last season.

pacerswin

When you look closely at the Pacers’ non-basketball operations, you realize that their players and coaches are backed by an equally skilled group of supporting professionals. Everyone is on the same page and working toward a single goal. Do you think Ballou’s team has any “NBA Champions” graphics in the works yet? Connect with me on Twitter @AHersh317 to talk social media, Pacers or the boxer formerly known as Ron Artest.

10 Reasons Your Business Needs Social Media Marketing

Are you trying to convince your boss that your company needs social media? Or are you simply not convinced that social media can benefit your brand? Consider this: over 200 million tablets were sold in 2013. While traditional marketing might have “worked” for you in the past, the world is moving over to digital marketing, including SEO, SEM, email, blogging and social media. Here are 10 reasons why your company should make the move to social media marketing.

Does your company implement digital marketing instead of traditional marketing? Do you use a combination of digital and traditional marketing? We want to know your thoughts in the comments below!

Helpful Hints for Social Media Success

Have you ever used a social media platform and thought to yourself, “I know a way this could be improved?” Chances are, you have ideas on how to enhance the networks you use and make them more user-friendly. Take Twitter and Facebook for instance. How many times have you heard people say they want a “don’t like” button as an option?

Today, I’ll give you three examples of where Twitter and Facebook could improve their sites for better user functionality and an alternate solution.

Quote Tweet on Desktop

If you happen to have the Twitter app on your mobile device, you’ve probably seen the “Quote Tweet” option when going to retweet something. This option allows you to include the retweet as well as your reply to it in one tweet. But have you noticed that this option isn’t available on the web version of Twitter? Most people simply retweet things they find interesting, and while that’s great, you can’t add your two cents in! Sometimes you want to let your audience know why you thought it was retweet-worthy or add in your opinion.

Instead of going the easy route and hitting the retweet button, take a few minutes to do it the long way. Copy the entire tweet, including the Twitter username of the person who sent it and paste it into the text box wherever you normally tweet. Delete the user’s name and any unessential characters that came over when you copied and pasted. Type “RT @____” at the very front of the tweet and then your own text before that.

blogpic

Scroll to Top

You’re on Twitter or Facebook and you’re scrolling through the posts, reading it like its your morning paper. About 33% of young adults get news from social media networks the day before it is talked about on the TV news or in the newspaper. Before you know it, you’re a few pages down while scrolling and reading, but you want to get back to the top. Since neither Facebook nor Twitter have a “Scroll to Top” button, luckily there is an extension for that!

Scroll to Top Button is an extension for Google Chrome and Safari which allows you to quickly jump back to the top of any page! Once you scroll far enough down on a page, the button will appear in the top right corner. Click it and you will be taken to the very top in no time! This extension works on all websites, so it’s better to get this than wait for a website to integrate it.

Poll Your Followers

Facebook used to have an option that allowed you to poll those who liked your Facebook Page, but the Facebook team has gotten rid of it. Instead, they have added something even better which many people don’t know about: the Facebook Poll Extension. The poll extensions lets you ask free-form or multiple choice questions with images and videos. There are an unlimited number of questions and answers, but some options may require payment. You can later analyze the results with tables, charts and graphs and export it all to Excel. They offer a free basic version or an unlimited premium, which starts at only $4 per month. Check out this video about the app:

Ever run into something you wished your favorite social media site would incorporate? LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram have been making a few changes but we would love to hear what you would suggest! Connect with us in the comments below.

Build Your Next Campaign Using The Social Technographics Ladder

In 2012, Social Media Today posted a survey indicating that 90% of small business owners out of a sample of 600 were using social networking sites. Fast forward to 2014 and you’ll come across an abundance of success stories about businesses executing social media in-house or hiring online strategy firms to create and foster relationships with consumers.

Current and prospective consumers are online and they are saturated with information. According to a report released by Nielsen on Monday, Americans are spending about 60 hours a week viewing content across various platforms. The secret to resonating in consumers’ minds during their hours of online searching is understanding their behaviors while they are online.

Authors Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler go into detail about online participation of consumers in their co-authored book, Empowered. One chapter of their book highlights Forrester’s research about overlapping levels of social technology participation of consumers, also known as The Social Technographics Ladder.

ladder

 

 

Look through the descriptions of each level of the ladder and select one category that fits you best. You obviously are a ‘spectator’ at this moment for reading this blog, but are you more of a ‘conversationalist’ that posts daily updates? Now let’s use this ladder and make it work for you as ROI for your business. Segment a group of individuals from your target demographic and assign them to each level of the ladder. Consumer A is participating in a contest on your Facebook page to upload a picture and could be coined as a “creator.” Consumer B is subscribed to your monthly podcast but after further research, doesn’t tweet or post much online. They would most likely be categorized as a “spectator.”

By analyzing your consumers online using The Social Technographics Ladder, you’ll have the opportunity to formulate more effective social media campaigns to see increased web traffic, engagement or any other goals you have.

Want a quick snapshot on the social technographics profile of your consumers? Select the following drop down options that are appropriate for your business. You’ll be surprised to learn about how your consumers are interacting online and how you can tweak your strategies to better suit their online behavior.

 

Looking for creative ways to engage consumers from one of the levels of the Social Technographics Ladder or learn about successful social media campaigns created by StrataBlue? Comment below or chat with me on Twitter @whatupTUT.

Put a Pause on Facebook Photos

Stop posting Facebook photos?

At least, stop using them on every post. I recommend a few occasions, as an experiment. Why, you might ask? Haven’t we heard time and again that pictures increase Facebook engagement? Haven’t we also been told from Facebook central that Pages using text-only posts are going to start losing exposure on the News Feed? If so, why in the world should you stop using pictures on Facebook?

While it is true that Facebook photos increase engagement and get 104% more likes for the average page, I’ve seen something interesting happening with pages that use text-only posts. Let’s take a look at the sample below, using a picture:

FB Post With Pic

Forgive me, but I’ve blacked-out some of the details. Above, we see decent engagement with the post—34 people liked it and it had one comment. Also note the lower left-hand corner—the number of people who saw the post. To clarify, people “see” your post when it appears on their News Feed. There are many variables that go into whether or not a post is put onto someone’s News Feed (a mind-boggling amount), but the people who see your post simply translates to the potential number of eyes that view your post.

Let’s take a look at a text-only post:

FB Post Without Pic

This is the same Page and roughly the same time period. This little experiment wasn’t done once either. A colleague and I did this repeatedly for the span of a few weeks. The same results happened regularly: text-only posts were seen by more people…sometimes two or three times as many. Also, note that far more people liked the post with the photo than they did the text-only one. Yet, that post still reached twice as many eyeballs.

So my little experiment has proved—at least until Facebook changes the rules—that text-only posts are getting put in to more News Feeds than photo posts. But what’s the take-away? You need to be experimenting, because there’s more than one way to reach potential customers. A few other thoughts, while I have your attention:

Reach Doesn’t Equal Engagement: My text-only posts are just getting my brand on more News Feeds. It doesn’t mean that everyone is reading my content or absorbing my message. Personally, I think more eyes means more potential followers and customers, but others would argue measured analytics with me on that. But if you’re trying to get engagement with fans, this isn’t the way to go.

This Doesn’t Include Links: I never tracked posts that included links to other sites or pages. For all I know, link-heavy posts do twice as well as text-only posts. I also haven’t formally started measuring what sharing content from other pages can do for my engagement. That will be my next experiment. This leads to my next point…

Vary It Up: Do not get comfortable with photo, text-only or any other type of posts. Routine leads to stagnation, and that means lowered exposure in this business. Constantly try new things to expand your brand. Marketing is all about finding the next way to expand your reach to new customers in exciting, creative ways.

Have you ever tried an experiment like this with your brand? How did it go? What did you learn? I would like to hear some of your stories on Twitter, or you can comment below.