Tag Archives: Instagram

Zero Dark Thirty: Step Away From Your Cell Phone

By: Dallas J. Short

The NBA Playoffs are back and I’m sure you are just as shocked as I am that my Philadelphia 76’ers somehow did not make the cut. While many are convinced this year’s champion will be from the Western Conference, that has not stopped one of the league’s best from continuing a tradition that has helped him #StriveForGreatness.

LeBron James is once again on his “Zero Dark Thirty” social shutdown. No phone, no Facebook (21.5 million), no Twitter (20.7 million), no Instagram (9.6 million), it’s radio silence from the 4-time MVP. He started this in 2012 postseason, one year after he and the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. He says he only needs to talk to his family and his teammates. He’s locked in and focused on bringing the trophy home to Ohio.

Forbes.com has an article “30 Reasons to do a Digital Detox” and #19 “because it’s a challenge” is also one of the reasons LeBron gave. I’m sure King James’ bigger reason is to avoid distractions, trolls and negative comments, but who doesn’t love a good challenge every now and then.

Though I probably have as much chance of getting an NBA Championship ring as my Sixers do, I think a digital detox can be beneficial for anyone. That break free moment of ceremoniously throwing your phone into the ocean, taking a deep breath and inhaling the beauty of the world around you. At least, that’s how I picture it in my head. In reality, I make deals with myself. “I’ll only use my phone as an alarm clock.” “I’ll only reply to texts.” “I’ll just check it for e-mails.” “I’ll do it next weekend.” There always seems to be something that stops the disconnect. We focus on captioning the moment instead of capturing it. LeBron’s won back to back championships and continues to make the finals, so it’s definitely working for him. The super busy, super productive and super successful Arianna Huffington is also big on digital detoxes.

Here are a few other reasons Forbes listed on why to do a digital detox.

  • To give your brain a break from digital processing. Information overload is a serious issue. Recharging is healthy.
  • To see things clearly, make better decisions, and find a more productive way to do things when you return.
  • Once you switch off, time seems plentiful (compared to the version we tend to race against most days).
  • To have in-depth conversations that meander and make you think and bring up questions that aren’t answered by the Internet.
  • You’ll carve out space to think deeply, connect to yourself, and connect to the people around you.

So let’s do it this weekend. I’m in and up for the challenge.

Are you addicted to your smartphone and social media? Have you ever tried a digital detox?

As always, I welcome or comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

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Great Tips on How to Strategically Build Your Social Media Following

By: Gina Mason

Creating a loyal and interactive fan base is extremely important when developing a successful social media marketing strategy, but it can also be very difficult. After all, if you don’t have many followers, your messaging is not going to get far.

We often see people try to boost their following overnight by purchasing followers and while this method may look great on paper, they are wasting time and money spreading their message to fake accounts and completely missing their target audience. So how do you build a quality following organically? Well, let me start by saying that this process isn’t simple and it may take some time, but the quality vs. quantity theory applies when it comes to getting your company’s message out there.

Outside of the common tips such as “follow more people” and “be more engaging or interactive,” there are so many additional ways to increase your following and build buzz around your social media accounts and business. I recently read a fantastic article from Inc. written by Jayson Demers called, “39 Ways to Get More Social Media Followers” that I found to be extremely beneficial and useful. Here are 10 of my favorite tips from the article and I hope you find these to be as helpful as I did.

1. “Reach out to influencers: Find influencers in your niche using a tool such as Buzzsumo, and then share their content, tag or mention them, or comment on their blogs. As you build relationships, they are more likely to share your content with their followers.
2. Identify popular posts to get more shares: Getting new fans often comes down to how often your content gets shared. A tool like Fanpage Karma can help you identify the most popular posts in your niche.
3. Use relevant hashtags: Use a tool like Hashtagify.me to find relevant and trending hashtags. Use these in your posts to attract new followers who are searching for those hashtags.
4. Post viral content: Easier said than done, right? Post Planner can help by providing you with images and content that have been proven to go viral.
5. Add Facebook and Twitter widgets to your site: Go beyond simple social media icons, and use a Facebook Like Box or Twitter Embedded Timeline on your site or blog.
6. Build network-specific landing pages: Create landing pages on your site for visitors from each social network you’re on, and then link to these pages in your social media bios. This may increase your follows only marginally, but you should see an increase in traffic and conversions.
7. Use humor: Evoking emotions (positive or negative) through your posts is great for increased sharing; however, posting funny or happy content will net you more sharing overall.
8. Reshare other people’s content: Share posts, images, and tweets from other businesses, and they’ll be more likely to share yours.
9. Be relatable: Let your fans and followers know you’re a real person rather than a faceless business; this will make sharing your content with their friends feel like less of a risk.
10. Make your blog content tweetable with a click: Use a plugin such as Inline Tweet Sharer to encourage visitors to share your tweetable content.”

To read the full article, visit: http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/39-ways-to-get-more-social-media-followers.html

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As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

The #Effective Use of #Hashtags

By: Dallas Short

It’s the beginning of the new year and while more people will jump into social media in 2015 and even more will consider themselves experts, the fact is that social media is still young, evolving and unpredictable.

It’s never a bad time for a quick refresher (or introduction, depending on your level of use).
Let’s break down to how to use hashtags more effectively. I’m not referring when you’re making a personal status or tweet and want to use hashtags for humor. #WhenHashtagsGoOnTooLongAsInsideJokes. Instead, let’s focus more on the professional use:

1 – #Content – This is keeping it basic. Your typical internet user will search by topics of interest. Content hashtags are tags that fall more in line with Meta keywords that you use on web pages to help search engines understand what your content is related to. This is a good way to reach your general audience. This is where you will hashtag events, locations, lifestyles, products, concepts and ideas. For example, a restaurant in lower Manhattan (specifically the East Village) might try to increase customers/traffic to their weekend bottomless brunch special, with #EastVillage, #BottomlessBrunch. Try not to go overboard with the hashtags, pick two that are the best descriptions/fit and try to avoid more than three. The descriptive hashtag will work best, think about what your customer’s interests are. There is a such thing of overuse of hashtags, do not hashtag the world, it will not work or become a magical net to pull everyone in.

2- #Brand – This is the name of your brand or campaign. This will be the more direct link to your customers, so they can easily find you. Your brand hashtag should be permanent, while a campaign hashtag will focus on your current campaign promotion/goal/awareness. For example, the ALS Association will always use #ALS, but last year, they locked into the #IceBucketChallenge for its duration. You can look at most major consumer brands for more examples.

3 – #Trending – With the fast paced, real time updates of social media, there is that push and desire to be current and relevant. See which topics and hashtags are trending (being used the most) and if it applies to your brand or what you’re doing. If you’re a deli and it’s #NationalSandwichDay, use that hashtag when you tweet out your special. If a trending topic does not apply to what you’re doing, don’t force the issue.

#Research will be your best friend when using hashtags. A viral subject might not always be something you want to be attached to and it could end backfiring. You could have created a hashtag that “perfectly” fits your project, but be careful, that hashtag could have been used or is currently being used in a completely different way than you want your brand associated with. This happened multiple times in 2014, (beware of acronyms) and will be sure to happen even more in future years.

Finally, don’t expect the hashtag to pave the road for a clear lane to success. Social media is not something you can hop in and hop out of, you must place value and effort into monitoring and engagement. It needs to a conversation with your public. I’m sure we will delve deeper into that in a future blog.
Do you have any tips for others of effective hashtag use? I welcome any and all comments and as always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

The Risks of Resisting Social Media

By: MJ Pedone

 There are conversations taking place about brands 24 hours a day through social media. Are you a part of these conversations or are you hoping that this form of communication will come to a halt in a few more weeks? Social media offers a variety of opportunities for brands to get involved by participating in those conversations. While participating in social media is not without risk, not participating might prove to be the greater risk — especially to reputations.
Here are three risks for resisting involvement in social media for companies, brands, business owners and service providers:

Having your reputation defined by others: People are talking about you; your company and your brand, and your stakeholders expect you to be paying attention in real time, especially when they have a customer service complaint or positive feedback to give. You decide whether to participate in this conversation or not, but at least you are aware of what is being said. This is the new frontier for reputation risk management. If you don’t tell your story, others will tell it for you.

Being invisible and less credible: The social Web is changing how people communicate and access information. With a smartphone, tablet or any handheld device, you can search the web and find just about any information you seek instantaneously from wherever you are. People are searching for you and want to read what they can. Not having a presence on the web means that you are not easy to find and can lead people to question whether you have a credible business or not. People are constantly turning to the different social sites as the easiest and most effective way to get their questions answered within seconds. Potential buyers are going online to research products or services before they purchase them and potential clients visit your different sites before they meet you. If people are looking for information about you or your business, what are they finding? A social page or profile even on a basic level enables you to provide accurate and helpful information about the services you or your company provides. Furthermore, social media pages typically appear with prominence in search results — without these online presences, relationship managers and organizations risk not being present in the search results when an interested prospect goes looking.

Being perceived as behind the curve: As consumers embrace new technologies, they expect businesses to do the same. Organizations and their team members that aren’t using social platforms will not be perceived as forward thinking and can risk losing potential clients who want business partners who speak their language. Would you open checking account with a bank that doesn’t have an online portal? Today, we depend upon online access for our data, so that seems inconceivable. Soon customers will feel this way about having a social connection with businesses.
Social media is perhaps best thought of as a set of new and innovative ways for businesses and customers to do what they have always done: build relationships, exchange information, read and write reviews and leverage trusted networks of friends and experts.

As you contemplate the risks and rewards of social media, I suggest that the key source for evaluation is simply to experience it for yourself. There are many low risk ways to do this, even if you work in a regulated industry. One of the best suggestions I have is to hire an experienced social media specialist who has the knowledge and experience with different companies.
Today’s real time social media world is challenging all businesses, brands, and professionals to adapt or at least make an informed decision not to. As you consider the many risks associated with being or not being in social media, it is important not to overlook the rewards and opportunities.

Have you reaped the rewards of social media? Is your strategy relevant? I welcome all comments. As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Customers as Content Co-Creators

By: Jenifer W.

Content is currency in the digital age and a great way for brands to keep content fresh and relevant is with crowdsourcing and user-generated content (UGC). User-generated content stems from the basic principle behind word-of-mouth marketing: Peer recommendations are incredibly influential and provide enhanced credibility. It makes the brand feel more personable and approachable, its campaigns more authentic and builds loyalty among its fans. Brands should welcome customers’ excitement to be co-creators, co-innovators and even evangelists by launching new campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. As per Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads.

In order to achieve a deeper level of customer engagement and brand loyalty, brands need to humanize by connecting with customers on a personal level. UGC campaigns are an excellent way to collect creative material for marketing purposes, get photos of your products in use organically and drive engagement and sales.

Here are three great examples to get ideas flowing and start taking advantage of interactive social media to engage customers directly in developing more impactful and personal brand stories.

Celebrate Your Customer and Let Them Help You Tell Your Story
Consumers are already talking about you and your products online; you need to be leveraging that content. The value returned is often that people associate good things with and return to engage with the brand.

Recently, Starbucks harnessed the power of UGC to boost engagement with their “Meet Me At Starbucks” campaign, capturing real stories from real people and weaving them into their marketing campaigns. It chronicled a day in the life of a Starbucks through a mini-documentary, shot in 59 different stores in 28 countries. Starbucks said the campaign aims to show the “beautiful moments of connection between our customers around the world.” Anyone can participate by telling their story and sharing it on social media, turning the campaign into an interactive, multi-dimensional experience.

Crowd Source Creativity
All brands can benefit from added visuals in their marketing efforts. Why not run contests for your fans to show off their artistic skills? Not only will the opportunity create major buzz, but it also will inspire more brand loyalty. Personally, I really love what Creative Allies does for musicians and artists.

Creative Allies is a community of designers who enter contests to create artwork and merchandise for bands, films and festivals. A fan creates artwork based on criteria determined by the brand for posters, t-shirts, hats, lithographs or other merchandise items. They submit their design to the site, then get their friends to vote on their submissions for the chance to win prizes, sell their stuff and get their work noticed. For each contest, at least one grand prize winner is selected by the contest holder and awarded a cash prize and other goodies like tickets, merchandise and/or VIP perks. Additional submissions are selected to be sold in the Creative Allies Store even if they didn’t win a design contest. These items become official merchandise and profits are shared between the designer and the contest holder (the band, film or festival).

Inspire to Aspire
An active loyal community is very influential. Putting the spotlight on customers who live your brand, creates a “me too” response in others in their peer group. Just think of all the times you’ve seen a celebrity in an amazing outfit and feel that you need to own that dress immediately. When you find it online, it’s already sold out because your peers felt the exact same way. Smart brands are finding ways to utilize this phenomenon in inspirational ways.

Lululemon is all about living well, and to its consumers, wearing Lululemon is akin to a badge of honor, practically saying, “my body is a temple, and it can do amazing things.” They turned the positive feeling associated with the brand into a campaign, #TheSweatLife. Customers were asked to tweet or Instagram photos of themselves getting their sweat on and exploring the world while decked out in the company’s products. The images which were collected via the hashtag and posted to the Lululemon website, where they are a permanent inspirational fixture.

User-generated content is flourishing with the rise of mobile, emerging technologies, and social platforms. Building a campaign around crowd-sourced content serves as a genuine way for brands to engage with their audience and is a refreshing departure from traditional one-way messaging.

Have you run successful UGC campaigns for your brand? As always, I welcome your feedback and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Social Media Bad Habits Brands Need To Abandon

By: Jenifer Wetterau

Social media: when brands do it well, they do it really well. A great recent example is “Alex from Target.” So simple, seemingly effortlessly non self-promotional. Admit it, even if you don’t shop there you were intrigued.

Then again, there are those brands that continuously make mistakes that turn people off, and they don’t realize it. Here are four of my pet peeves that turn me off a brand:

Hashtag Overload
By using hashtags correctly, you can get maximum exposure for your brand’s message and deliver your content to the intended audience. But brands that abuse hashtags are hurting their image and driving customers away. More is not better.

Companies should ask themselves three things before tweeting with hashtags:
-Is it relevant to my post?
For example, using #socialmedia when your tweet is about sports to try to get maximum engagement will result in the opposite. Your customers will be turned off when they see you trying to cheat the system and engagement will decrease.

-Do my tweets exceed two hashtags?
Although studies show that tweets with one or two hashtags see twice the engagement compared to those without, that doesn’t mean you should cram in as many as you can. In fact, that same study showed that tweets with three or more hashtags resulted in a 17 percent drop in engagement. Keep hashtags to a minimum and your brand will not look spammy.

-Will my audience actually search for this hashtag?
You must do your research. Find out what hashtags your customers, and target customers, use with specific topics. Build your community around the hashtag by actively engaging with it consistently. You can’t use it one day and expect the results. You must promote it and promote it well. If you use them correctly, your content is going to get found by those who care about it.

Quantity over Quality
Social media is not a numbers game so don’t treat it that way. It’s essential to give your posts some thought before sending them out. Offer quality content that your customers will appreciate. When planning your updates, think about what you personally like to see in your timeline, and what makes you engage with a brand. I doubt it’s the number of times they tweet in a day! Show that you are value on social media and the followers will come. Everything you do should be strategic, follow best practices, align with your goals and image and provide value for your audience.

It’s All About Me
In terms of customer loyalty, it is important for brands to recognize that sometimes it is better to listen more and talk less. To be liked, you have to be honest, helpful, compassionate, willing to listen, genuinely interested in others and what their needs are and not dominate the conversation. Of course, one of the goals of social media is to promote your business, products, services and overall company brand. But what you should not do is be overly self-promotional, constantly pumping out updates and pushing your products. People don’t browse Twitter or Facebook to be sold to. Bombarding them with products and offers repeatedly will turn them off, and you may lose a few customers. Rather, let the information you share, the expertise you demonstrate and the brand personality you portray do the talking for you. Ask questions and address concerns to give your customers a voice. The more helpful and interesting you are, the more likely people will keep coming back for more.

Asking For Shares or Retweets
You don’t walk up to strangers on the street, yelling “be my friend!” and expect them to give you a hug and invite you to dinner. Why would you do this online? When brands do this I feel that begging makes them look needy and even inauthentic. You want people to engage with your content because they genuinely like it, and think others will to. Along the same line, tagging people to get attention reflects poorly on your brand and will alienate followers.

Now it’s your turn: what social media habits make you log off? As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Does social media affect your mood?

By Karleigh Creighton

Our mood and emotions change often. They are affected not only by the big things in life, but also by small incidences like the weather, a surprise text, a meeting with friends and even by social media. Have you ever thought about how social media affects your mood and emotions? Facebook recently released research on its “contagion effect.” An effect they say that results in posting like your friends post.

Evidence from this study of 689,003 random Facebook users showed that after their newsfeeds were manipulated to have either a more positive or negative vibe, their own timelines reflected that same feeling. Those who were exposed to more positive news increased the use of positive words in their own posts, while those receiving less positive news in their newsfeed began to use more negative words. The same trend was also seen in the type of post. Individuals with newsfeeds consistent with long, revealing, emotional posts generally reciprocated that type of post, while those who constantly saw less expressive updates were likely to do the same.

Due to Facebook’s data-use policy the actual content of the posts of the individuals studied could not be seen and the study was conducted by counting the number of positive and negative words within the posts.

Personally, my mood is not seriously affected by what I see on my timeline. I don’t like to see negative posts so I just keep scrolling through them without paying much attention to the naysayers. If I see too many negative posts in a row I might get slightly annoyed and think about blocking the user to safely avoid negative energy, but nothing more than that. My emotions, on the other hand, are affected by posts I see from family and friends. Happy posts from people about getting a new job, having a baby, getting a puppy, or something else special will put a smile on my face, while posts about a loss trigger sadness because I can feel how much someone is hurting through their words.

However, regardless of the mood and emotions present in my newsfeed, I post my own thoughts and feelings. What do you think about the information provided by the study? Does it hold true in your life?

In addition to piggy backing off of the atmosphere in your timeline, social media can have other ways of affecting your mood. After posting a picture and getting 50 “Likes,” chances are you are feeling pretty happy that your selfie scored big with followers.

But what about the days when your post doesn’t generate any reach, especially one you thought was extra creative and fun, it’s discouraging. I believe it’s all just mental. Post what you want to post because it’s how you feel. Don’t let the attitude of another infiltrate your mind and therefore the tone of your own posts. The only way your social media will be influenced by others is if you let it.

How big of an impact do you let social media have on your life? I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.