social media

/social media

Facebook Changes to News Feed Hurts Business Pages

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced major changes to what you see in your news feed and sent news publishers and businesses scrambling, again, when it comes to connecting to their audiences online. Facebook has invested millions in becoming a must-have marketing tool for businesses and created an entirely new way to engage with brands and share information. If we are to believe this latest change to news feed algorithms, they are biting the hand that feeds them.

TL; DR: Facebook continues to squeeze business pages to pay for engagement and visibility on its platform. Without a paid strategy, your organic reach and engagement will drop significantly.

Let’s first look at their statement and reasoning:

…The research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.

Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions…

Read the entire statement here.

Facebook’s lofty goal of claiming they want to see more meaningful personal connections on Facebook is a bit disingenuous after their aggressive courting of brands and publishers to invest so heavily in advertising through their platform.  So, now that they have announced this change brands and publishers are left to ask what this really means for a marketing and advertising strategy that has ballooned to a significant portion of their media strategy and budget.

While we don’t know exactly how this will impact engagement and long-term strategy for brands on Facebook, we can look at previous changes to gain some insight. Facebook has already shown that they are not a media company, but a data company and an advertising venue. The ‘pay to play’ strategy they implemented for brands reduced organic engagement from business pages to less than 10% and in some cases to zero without a business paying to “boost” the post or otherwise creating a paid strategy to be seen and generate engagement.  From this previous strategy we can only surmise that this will require even more spending on the behalf of business pages to be seen on Facebook. All of this comes as time spent on the social network is on the decline and, while still the top social media destination, Millenials are abandoning the platform altogether for Instagram (Which Facebook owns) and Snapchat, among others. We will certainly have to keep an eye on performance for our clients to continue current spend levels.

How can you boost engagement?

  1. Work with social media strategist to ensure you are using “best practices” when posting and curating content for Facebook
  2. Create a budget and schedule for social media. Realize you are working with an advertising vendor.
  3. Change the type of posts you are making from passive information to engaging and organic type conversational type posts.
  4. Create “Facebook Live” and video content, use photos to boost conversations, shareability and engagement
  5. Ask us to help create and manage your social media presence and evaluate where you are spending your advertising budget for efficacy.

 

By | January 18th, 2018|Marketing, social media|0 Comments

Here are the Top 5 Tips for the Non Profit Social Media Team (By team, we mean volunteer)

Social engagement for non profits is a great way to engage your supporters and keep the community aware of your organization and its mission. Navigating the social media landscape may not require big media budgets, but it does require attention, effort and planning.

There are key ways to engage your audience and keep them informed of your mission and successes that provide opportunities for meaningful conversations with supporters, constituents and the public.

Here are the top 5 tips to step up your organization’s social game

1.       Be a “Come to” not a “Run from”

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Create a social media voice the presents you as a resource and “subject matter experts” to provide meaningful content in the social media space. Using social media to solicit donations and post press announcements don’t engage an audience to feel as passionately about your cause as your existing supporters already do. An authentic voice will drive engagement and build support for your organization.

 

2.       Be the “tortoise” not the “hare”

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When starting a new social channel, it is easy to get fired up and post five times a day for a week and then nothing again for months. Be the tortoise, not the hare; slow and steady wins this race. Someone should be able to look at your timeline or feed as a chronological look-back window to understand the sequential development and progress of your organization. Consistency builds familiarity, familiarity builds trust, and trust gets donations.

3.       Show & Tell

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Tell a story that people want to hear and illustrate that story with visual elements. Share relevant photos and videos of team members and events. Photos and photo galleries consistently get more engagement than just text. Use photos with people that your audience can relate to and see which images get engagement to build a strategy of image use in your future posts.  If a picture is worth 1000 words and you only have 140 characters to tweet with, sharing an image is the way to stretch your communication coin.

4.       Keep it Fun

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There are so many wonderful (and not so wonderful) resources out there that all claim to have the secret recipe or formula for the perfect social media strategy. And while many of these offer useful information and insight, when the conversation gets so technical there is an eminent danger of overcomplicating and losing sight of your primary goal: to connect people interested in your organization. When things start to get hazy, don’t forget to keep it fun. Think about your organization and what you love about it. Share something that is fun or humorous. Making someone smile or laugh is the easiest, most foolproof way to engage someone when there are scrolling through their feed.

5.       Conduct your symphony

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Quality content, consistency, and telling a visual story, will all be instrumental in strengthening your voice across all of your social media channels but don’t forget your most important responsibility: YOU are the conductor of your organization’s digital symphony. Without you to lead the conversation, all of the voices are reduced to different sounds that make senseless noise and competing for focus; and in some cases can even cause us to cover our ears and tune it all out. Be a thought leader in your organization, provide your opinion and ask the valuable questions that invite your community to engage and contribute. When done right, social media for nonprofits can drive membership and donations and gain exposure for your cause, and that is the music we all want to hear.

By | June 17th, 2015|social media|0 Comments

Facebook Changes Newsfeed Algorithm, Again.

In a blog post, Facebook announced yet another change to their newsfeed algorithm. The recent changes from Facebook are focused not only on user experience, but also advertising revenue. The brand or publisher posts on the site have seen less engagement as the social media juggernaut forces those posts into a pay-to-play format.

Social Media Management company provides advice on branded posts

Facebook will penalize posts like the one above

 

Today’s announcement looks to penalize the most popular posts that drive users off the Facebook platform to the wider web. The official position is the new alogrithm is meant to reduce the spammy (and oft parodied) “You’ll never believe what happened next” posts categorized as “clickbait.” While this is a welcome relief for some of the true offenders of clickbait posts, it is an interesting step in how Facebook sees their newsfeed and is finding new ways to ensure what their users see is quality and relevant content.

Facebook faces two challenges that, at times, are in conflict with each other. On one hand, they want users to remain on the site in the Facebook environment and on the other hand, they want brands to pay for their spot in the newsfeed to drive users out of that environment. As the company matures and is beholden to a profitable business model, we’ll see how that shakes out.

It’s a good reminder to update your brand’s facebook strategy and post guidelines. Are you an accidental offender?

Top 5 Facebook Tips:

1. Make your posts relevant for your audience
2. Use photos in your post (use the right size photo)
3. Start a conversation. Ask questions. Reply to user comments.
4. Post when your audience is online. Is your post time sensitive? If so, schedule it accordingly.
5. Take advantage of Trending Topics and use hashtags appropriately.

By | August 25th, 2014|digital media agency, social media|0 Comments

Why Online Reviews aren’t the Holy Grail you thought they were

We have clients that want our help in promoting their online reviews, in getting more online reviews and calming their frustrations at a competitor that is bribing people to get good reviews.  For small to mid-size businesses we have seen the importance of online reviews obtain a hyper-inflated sense of importance.

This is partly our own fault. We have discussed organic search results and building your online presence and that includes user reviews and how they are indexed on search engines. Now that we have so many businesses using them in their marketing strategy and more people are relying on them for vacations, car purchases and even where to get the best cup of joe in town we are a victim of our own success.

Business owners with poor reviews are frustrated and angry at the injustice of how they are at the top of search results, they accuse competitors of planting fake reviews and wonder how we can promote better reviews to show up first. We have to argue against spending money with companies like Yelp! that are not an ally of the business owner and now we

review card shakedown

have another threat to the legitimacy of online reviews.

Brad Newman in Los Angeles (of course) has the brilliant idea to sell “Reviewer Cards” to people so they can show a business as soon as they enter that they are an online reviewer and will be writing a review of their business encounter. This is the worst idea ever. It’s a shakedown. Plain and simple. A threat, mafiaso style.

For instance, Newman brags about getting his request for half-off a hotel room when he mentioned that he would be writing a review of his experience. He also mentions that he was able to skip a long line at a Chicago restaurant by whipping out his ReviewerCard.

Not only does that reek of “Don’t you know who I am?” but it’s flat tacky. Newman probably smacks his gum at funerals.

This egomaniac is doing business owners a favor and he doesn’t realize it at all. I would instruct business owners presented this card to immediately refuse service to the individual and kick them out of their establishment. As anyone that’s ever watched a good mob movie, the minute you give in the shakedown they come after you for more and more.

First, they may want an upgrade to a better room but soon they’ll be demanding comped meals and the presidential suite for their good review of your fictional hotel.

If this catches on, we will be thrilled to report on the death of the legitimate online review. No one will believe a review from a holder of a “Reviewer Card” because they know it was a bribe and since they are super users, their reviews will have greater prominence and so the whole premise of online reviews will be undermined.

As it stands, online reviews are an important part of a businesses success. Without confidence they weren’t bought and paid for or bribed for, the entire concept is not only flawed, but failed.

Keep it up, jerkwad. You’re about to ruin it for everybody.

By | January 29th, 2013|Business Ethics, customer service, social media|0 Comments

Is it time for brands to find a Facebook alternative?

Surely when Facebook went public we realized that they must have a solid revenue strategy in place. Surprisingly, they didn’t seem to have a cohesive strategy and stumbled. First with their lack of mobile strategy and later as advertisers fled the service due to non-performance in the tiny ineffective ad unit options.

Slowly, all that is changing. Now, the question is “Will brands stand for the changes that now cost them what was once free and will the changes be any more effective than what they were getting for free?” So far the resounding answer is “NO.” The complaint among agency folks I have most often heard is “Our facebook campaigns don’t work. The ROI is well below our goals and we just don’t find the value in a new page like to make it worth our while.”  All of this is shocking because Facebook has some of the best abilities to target our audience in the market. They simply weren’t capitalizing on it correctly.

Facebook Changes Brand Page Reach

In a push to grow revenue after a dismal earnings report boy have things changed. The rumblings started at Oglivy when they noticed their facebook engagement flew off a cliff around the end of September. Investigations revealed a change in the algorithm for brand pages and their posts. Newsfeeds were suddenly missing out on facebook updates from brands and engagement dropped 50% or more from usual reach.

About the same time, Facebook introduced yet a new set of rules for their brand customers. In order to ensure your fans that have already liked your page (suggesting they don’t mind engaging with you or seeing your updates) you now have to pay to “promote” that post. The amount of each promotion is based on what percentage of your fans you want to see your page.

I have long felt Facebook advertising is ineffectual and debated the cost of an actual “like” on the social media site and these additional costs and algorithm changes are only strengthening my position that until Facebook figures out an advertising model that works for both brands and their users we would advise against spending money here.

Facebook ought to know better than anyone else that when you give something away for free and then suddenly start charging for it you are going to feel quite the backlash.

Our paid search, display and video campaigns generate exponentially better results than any Facebook campaign we’ve ever spent money on.

In their savvy methods of tapping into the new narcissism of facebook users they have also generously offered individuals the opportunity to promote their own personal facebook status update for a cost of $7 per post. Let me just say that if any of my Facebook friends ever pay to promote a status on Facebook I will immediately delete them because they have proven themselves to be the most narcissistic and dumbest person I have personally met.

By | October 31st, 2012|social media|0 Comments

How KitchenAid’s Social Media Team learned a valuable lesson

During last night’s presidential debate the president mentioned how his grandmother relied on Social Security and Medicare as her safety net retirement plan. His grandmother that helped raise him passed away three days before he was elected president. Now, nothing in the above makes me think great mixers and appliances…so why is KitchenAid in the news today regarding politics?

Well, someone on their social media team was clearly using Tweetdeck and let their personal political views fly

This is the nightmare of everyone that uses Tweetdeck and manages multiple Twitter accounts.  This PR problem from a corporate tweet isn’t the first and it won’t be the last.  The content of the tweet, while insensitive and politically controversial, isn’t the issue from my point of view. The issue here is choosing the right people to be on your Twitter and social media teams, providing adequate training and managing them as seriously as you manage the engineers that build your amazing products. (Seriously, the mixer is my standard wedding gift. Brides are always very happy to see me at the wedding.)

The only course, publicly, that KitchenAid could take was to issue a retraction and apology.

Here’s the issue. Brands take to social media because it’s where their audience is and they want to reach them in new ways and engage with them and develop brand evangelists through social media. That’s all good stuff. But, the problem is they don’t take it seriously. A lot of brands have interns tweeting for them or adding it a laundry list of responsibilities for another employee that’s already overwhelmed. Or the worst part, is you don’t vet your vendor and you wind up hiring a group of people that wowed you with a beautiful proposal and fancy graphs and talk about their technology and you get impressed and sign a vendor contract.

We don’t manage Twitter accounts for our clients. We train them on how to take this seriously, how to engage with their users and mentor them in the curvy road of social media. It’s something we ask them to take seriously or just don’t do it. I’d rather they feel left out of Twitter than ruin the brand equity they have gained over generations of moms teaching their daughters to bake because some untrained and unprofessional employee/vendor decided to tweet something without thinking.

Yes, brands need to engage on social media. But, for the love of Pete…take it seriously. Here is one free tip from me to you, when you dedicate someone to be a Twitter user for your brand make it a requirement that they do not also have a personal twitter account. Their entire life of Twitter should only be on behalf of the brand. That way you’ll never get a tweet like this one.

 

By | October 4th, 2012|digital media agency, social media|0 Comments

Test, but verify. Not every new digital offer is worth it.

We spend a lot of time educating our clients on the best ways to spend their digital dollars. There are tons of new ways to reach out and engage customers, generate new leads and meet their marketing goals, however just as the client expects ROI so do their customers.

Here is a perfect example of using something new, Chili’s offered free chips and salsa to people that check in using Foursquare. We think this is going to be a great way for retail outlets to reward their fans in the very near future. As location-based check in services and smart phone penetration increases, these types of offers are going to be affordable and commonplace not only with companies like Foursquare, which took off like a rocket during SXSW Interactive in Austin last year, but also with Gowalla and Facebook’s new “places” check in feature.

We have a lot training to do in the retail space before these types of offers don’t backfire on the advertiser. For example, point of sale systems need to be upgraded to accept non-traditional coupons. There is also a big training curve for servers or retail staff that must occur. These are big upfront expenses for large chains like Chili’s. You don’t just send out a memo from corporate to give away free chips and salsa to customers and expect it to go flawlessly.

Kate Buck Jr excitedly tweeted “Free chips and Salsa” as she checked in on Foursquare to her local Chili’s. Clearly, Kate was expecting a special offer.  When she showed her phone to her server, he/she replied that the coupon really needed to be printed. Really? This wasn’t just a missed opportunity, it created negative buzz—the opposite of what the company was trying to achieve.

Do you think she’ll return if she sees another “deal” for that restaurant on Foursquare? Will her nearly 28,000 followers? Probably not. Some companies “do” check-ins right: They train their employees to track check-ins, customers simply have to show up and mention the “deal” on Foursquare, and not only is the coupon honored, but the company or retailer has a method of tracking ROI when they offer deals on check-in applications.

We ran a campaign late last year for a retail client that asked users to print out a coupon because of this very problem. The point of service (POS) system could not recognize any “code” or result that could be delivered on a smart phone. While we were enthusiastically prepared to launch something creative like SMS short codes and location based check-in services offers, we had to conclude that the idea just wouldn’t work. It would be a logistical nightmare. The client was a little disappointed that they couldn’t be “sexy” with something new, but appreciated how well thought out our strategy was for their campaign.

Sometimes the answer really is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” for an advertising campaign. Think of all the training of staff and confusion and hurt feelings (and potential damage to credibility) we saved our client. Poor Chili’s…if only they had called us first.

Lesson learned, hopefully. The takeaway here for companies eager to jump on the “check-in deals” bandwagon is to think your strategy through first. If you don’t have a way to train staff to honor a coupon, a method to avoid abuse of a deal, a method to track ROI for offering that coupon—whether your goal is to bring in new customers or bring back old ones—put on the brakes and think it through. Check-in deals can be a great tool for your business, but only if it’s done right and with foresight.

Brands That “Do” Social Media Well

An article in AdAge this week about how AT&T plans to lift its image via social media “customer care” inspired us to share our own experiences with brands that use social media-as-customer-service (and do it right). As a business or brand venturing into social media, one of the most common mistakes one can make is set up the Twitter, Facebook, etc. accounts, post a few times, garner a few followers or fans, then maintain “radio silence.” The brands that we would qualify as “social media pros” use the medium not only for promotion and marketing, but also for customer service and brand loyalty.

One recent example: A friend spent a weekend at a Westin (Starwood) Hotel in Washington, DC, and returned from his trip with some unwanted “visitors” – dust mites that not only caused an awful rash that sent him to the doctor for treatment, but he also had to disinfect his clothing, bedding, luggage, and most of his home. When he called the hotel’s customer service department, they “opened a ticket” and finally responded to him (after several phone calls) that the room in which he stayed was indeed infested with dust mites. The offered compensation? Starwood Hotel points. When my friend hung up the phone, he Tweeted to his 1,000+ followers about his experience and his dissatisfaction with the resolution. In turn, several of his followers re-Tweeted his comment and shared it on Facebook. Within about 30 minutes, he was contacted by a staffer at Starwood responsible for customer care via its Twitter page (www.twitter.com/starwoodbuzz), an email exchange followed, and he was reimbursed for his entire stay as a result. He shared that information via his social media channels as well. Our grade? “C-” for initial phone customer service contact, but an “A” for follow-up effort via Twitter and Starwood’s customer care social media staff.

A few weeks ago after lunch, I Tweeted that I was dismayed to discover Central Market didn’t carry Sparkling Lime IZZE (my favorite IZZE flavor). Literally, within about four minutes, www.twitter.com/izzetasteagents were following me on Twitter and two weeks later, my favorite supermarket/lunch haven now carries my favorite IZZE beverage. Grade? “A++” for immediacy, responsiveness, and brand loyalty incentive. Clearly, the “taste agents” are on top of their game and since one-third of Twitter users talk brands, companies have to know what’s being said about their brand (and respond!).

Other top contenders for social media customer care:

Wachovia – www.twitter.com/wachovia, ranks “A” for customer responsiveness on Twitter, but also uses the social media channel to disseminate customer information.

Zappos – www.twitter.com/zappos, online shoe retailer (admitting to a little bias with my own love of shoes), but more than 1 and a half million followers can’t be wrong, can they?

Sephora – www.twitter.com/sephora, ranks an “A” or higher for sheer consistency and number of Tweets, lack of re-Tweeting, and sharing links relevant to its customer base.

Starbucks – www.twitter.com/starbucks, (I know, I know…we’re trying to “drink local” too). Interestingly, the coffee conglomerate has fewer followers on Twitter than Zappos and many other companies (less than 1 million), but we give them a “B+” for customer engagement via contests and other “follower only” promotions.

Whole Foods – www.twitter.com/wholefoods, Tweeting from its global HQ right here in Austin, TX. More than 1.7 million followers reading Tweets about healthy eating and in-store promotions (how else would I  have heard organic cherries were on mega-sale last weekend?), but this primary account is used to respond to Twitter users, followers or not, Tweeting about their Whole Foods experience. “A++” for responsiveness (to both negative and positive comments)!

There are many that rank high on the social media customer care index – www.twitter.com/coach, www.twitter.com/harleydavidson, www.twitter.com/gap, www.twitter.com/burberry, www.twitter.com/jetblue, www.twitter.com/HRBlock, and www.twitter.com/RedCross, among others. The reason?

They know “the four Rs” of customer service via social media: reviewing, responding, recording, and redirecting.

They also understand customer engagement, the immediacy of the social media environment, and the power of social media networks. We’ll be keeping an eye on AT&T’s new customer care initiative (considering the sheer number of mentions they have on social networks – more than 10,000 – in a 24-hour period) just to see if and how high they’re going to set the bar for large companies and “social care teams.”

If your company or brand is ready to dip a toe in the waters of social media, we’re here to help with anything from consulting to managing social media campaigns, monitoring, tracking, and responding. Contact us with any questions!