Tag Archives: Instagram

Is Facebook The New TV?

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Last summer a friend who was about to launch a big venture asked me to give her a quick assessment of major social media channels.

I made this analogy: Twitter is like AM radio. Instagram is like FM radio. Facebook is like TV.

The news, views, noise and chatter that fill my Twitter timeline are similar to what I hear on AM radio. News, political talk, sports talk, intelligent commentary and idiotic commentary. It’s all there on the AM band and on Twitter.

On FM, most stations play music. There’s less talk, generally speaking. While AM has more information, FM has more entertainment. Instagram is a pleasant alternative to Twitter with its focus on the visual. Food, babies, dogs, cats, landscapes and other lighter fare rule. Yes, politics and commentary do appear on Instagram, but more of the posts in my feed are non-controversial.

Facebook is the big dog because so many people go there on a daily basis and because it is, for many, a better advertising venue than Twitter and Instagram. Facebook delivers the noise and chatter we find on Twitter and the AM radio band but also features

Additionally, Facebook has been more successful with its Facebook Live streaming video than Twitter has been with Periscope. The video aspect provides Facebook with TV’s key element.

Much of the news and other info delivered by traditional broadcast media (whether via over-the-air, cable, streaming or satellite) has been verified to some degree, whereas info shared on social may be rumor or hearsay. This fact explains why Twitter is often the best source for immediate news, though not necessarily for accuracy in those early tweets.

Whether these analogies are valid or are just the result of goofy thinking on my part, my main message to my friend was each social channel has its own characteristics. Content that has value on one may not necessarily work as well on another.

The best way to learn about social media channels is to use them.

 

 

 

 

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Learn How Much You Don’t Know

Knowledge

In 2009, I participated in the St. Louis Public Relations Society chapter’s training program for PR certification. I attended sessions all over town and gathered knowledge and wisdom from a number of PR pros. I picked up and studied the suggested textbook. Yes, I learned a lot. I was unaware of the full scope of public relations. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.

Last month I took a course in Web Analytics at University of Missouri/St. Louis (UMSL). As a result, I am now certified in Google Analytics. I learned how analytics can reveal a wealth of information about traffic to websites. In addition to exercises on the Google dashboard, I had the chance to use Adobe’s Omniture analytics setup.

I may not be ready to be a lead analyst, but I now know enough to be a contributing team member. After completing the course, though, I realize there is much more about web analytics that I still do not know.

Even More To Learn!

This month I took a Social Media Strategies course at UMSL. I am now a Hootsuite Certified Professional.

I’ve been a Facebook admin and have used Hootsuite Pro for several years. Although I knew a lot about social media going in, the course revealed many areas I had not ventured into. I learned new ways that Hootsuite can help me and my clients. I gained insight about best practices for Facebook and Instagram. Again, I learned how much I did not know and how much more there is to be learned.

It feels good when you receive significant enlightenment or have an “aha” moment. My younger kids, both digital natives, have given me useful computer tips, generally without condescension. But every time they share, I am also made aware of how much I don’t know. Always and forever, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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Keep It Simple

Simple

In our busy, complex personal and professional lives, filled with information coming from every imaginable source, simple things are appreciated. We all have a finite amount of time and attention to give each day.

Here’s how you can help…

  1. Write shorter paragraphs, using shorter sentences.
  2. Edit your email signature and dump all that legalese at the bottom (which no one ever reads anyway).
  3. If you own a restaurant, eliminate half of your menu items. You’ll make life easier for your diners, your staff and yourself.
  4. Include just one sales message in your marketing emails. (You don’t have to tell me everything about your organization.)
  5. Make sure images in your emails and on your website are as recognizable on a tiny phone screen as they are on your big desktop screen.
  6. Facebook and Instagram allow for long posts. Don’t do it! Most of us will just scroll on past the long ones. (Thanks, Twitter, for maintaining a maximum post length.)
  7. Place a time limit on videos you share. How long? Determine what your audience is comfortable with. (Consider that some of us may hesitate to watch a 7-minute video but will gladly watch 7 one-minute videos.)
  8. Be merciless when editing content. Three good paragraphs beats twelve mediocre paragraphs every time.
  9. Unless it’s your doctoral dissertation, don’t be afraid to use sentence fragments, when appropriate.

For a perfect example of the beauty and effectiveness of a simple approach, compare the layouts of Google.com with Bing.com and Yahoo.com. (Google has a 67.68% market share for searches; Bing, 13.27%; Yahoo, 8.14%.)

An almost infinite number of choices in many aspects of our life is wonderful. Unless we want the regular version, in the standard size, and it’s not in stock. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and found a dozen or more variations on the product you want, but not the particular version you want?

The great singer/songwriter Merle Haggard who died last week was once quoted as saying, “The most important thing in a song is simplicity.” Keep it simple.

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Sales: The One Metric That Really Matters

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You are hired to create a social media campaign for a company. You do great work. You grow the audience. Facebook fans and Twitter followers click on links in droves to get coupons. Your Instagram contest generates hundreds of entries. But, for reasons unrelated to your efforts, sales are down 18% for the first quarter of your campaign and down 22% for the next quarter. Cuts have to be made. Will they come via staff reductions, advertising budget cuts or a trim for the social campaign? Or all three? Sales is the one metric that really matters.

Your PR client stages an event. You line up TV interviews, radio interviews and newspaper and online items. Awareness is good. A nice crowd shows up. While your client is happy that media coverage helped produce a decent turnout, his most important question is, “How much food and drink did we sell?” Sales is the one metric that really matters.

During my radio career I did many Saturday appearances at car dealers. At most such events, we had good listener turnout. But, occasionally, the number of people who came to grab a free hotdog and say hello would be disappointing. On Monday, we might say to the account executive who had the dealer’s account, “I thought we’d have more people show up Saturday. I hope the client’s not upset.” And, quite often, the account exec would say something like, “Oh, no! They sold 32 cars! It was their best Saturday in a year!” Sales is the one metric that really matters.

If you are charged with telling a client’s story, whether it be via social media, PR efforts or paid advertising, it’s in your best interest to help drive sales any way you can. Support your clever tweets, your genius PR campaign, your beautifully written radio/TV spot or print/online ad with suggestions to friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, church members, community organization members and personal social media contacts that they visit your client and buy something! Because sales is the one metric that really matters.

(This article was originally posted in June 2013.)

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Don’t You Just Hate That? (Social Media Edition)

Don't you just hate that

In 2004, I picked up a funny little book called Don’t You Just Hate That by Scott Cohen. The book listed things that annoy many of us, such as “accidentally setting your alarm clock for p.m. instead of a.m.” or “finding an old to-do list, most of which remains undone.”

Below is a list of social media annoyances that I’ve experienced, inspired by Mr. Cohen’s book. Maybe you can relate to some or all.

  1. When someone with half the number of followers you have sends a tweet identical to the one you sent three days ago. And she gets 15 retweets while you just got 2.
  2. When you open Facebook to see a huge number of notifications and expect most to be responses to brilliant content you posted to your clients’ Facebook feeds. But they turn out to mostly be game invitations from tangential friends.
  3. When a person or organization whose Instagram posts are compelling unleashes 10 pics in a row. You don’t want to unfollow, but you also don’t want to get bombarded.
  4. When you miss a great play in a baseball, football, hockey, etc. game because you were tweeting about the previous play.
  5. When notification pings wake you from a sound sleep.
  6. When you post a tweet to the wrong account on your mobile Hootsuite.
  7. When you see a famous person listed as a trending topic on Twitter and you immediately presume the person died.
  8. When a foodie or a restaurant posts a pic to any social channel and, while the food looks good, you have no idea what it is.
  9. When a Tweet promises content you’re anxious to see and the link doesn’t work.
  10. When an Instagrammer posts a novel length description beneath his/her photo.
  11. When you see interesting tweets with a certain hashtag but, even after researching, can’t determine what the hashtag means.
  12. When your Facebook timeline is filled with political content. Does anyone truly believe that by posting her/his political likes and dislikes she/he will change someone’s mind? (Can’t wait till next year!)
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I Don’t Exactly Understand…

head-scratch

…why organizations that promote free speech often impose serious restrictions on who can speak and what they can say within their venues.

…why certain astute social media professionals who can talk for hours about the vast differences between various social platforms… often post the same exact content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

….why certain individuals strive to obtain a job that others would die to have, then fail to put in the effort needed to succeed in that coveted position.

…why certain users complain loudly about things they get free. (Apps, software, social media channels, etc.)

…why providers of mind-blowing technology often cannot handle the basics of human interaction with customers.

…why people who have seen few or none of the nominated films/performances care deeply about who wins at the Oscars.

…why people are not more skeptical of statistics that are freely shared and repeated but may or may not be legit.

…why, in terms of engagement, one Instagram follower is just as valuable as 22 Twitter followers. (Okay, that’s a bogus stat that I just made up. See previous line.)

…why people in a hurry in the morning will devote 10 minutes (or more) to waiting in a drive-thru lane for coffee, etc.

…why certain PR types still occasionally post articles stating that the press release is dead (or, at least, obsolete).

…why certain individuals detest the perceived biases of a respected media outlet but are quick to quote content when that outlet’s output jibes with their own beliefs.

…why I find broadcast weather reports compelling even though I already have most of that info on my phone and my laptop.

Ah, life’s mysteries.

 

 

 

 

 

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Always Learning

As one of the year’s biggest mileposts approaches, here are some of the things I’ve learned so far in 2014:

  • How to reset the DNS on my computer.
  • A phone call frequently delivers a better result than an email.
  • Instagram>Vine.
  • An organization’s level of customer service often depends more on the individual you’re dealing with than on organizational culture.
  • Facebook’s targeted ads often hit the wrong target, based on the misguided sponsored content I’ve seen in my personal feed.
  • Even the world’s best communicators can have typos.
  • Digital content (especially photos and videos) must be backed up.
  • A great thing about cats as pets is they don’t bark.
  • Even if the road less traveled gets you to your destination later, you’ll likely encounter fewer tractor-trailers.
  • Streaming music services present a more serious threat to AM and FM radio than satellite radio does.
  • The ability to tell a story in an entertaining way is one to be treasured.
  • If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
  • Sometimes the most useful key on my computer keyboard is “delete.”
  • You can’t trust everything you read on Wikipedia, but it can be an amazing resource.
  • The public gathering spots that don’t provide free Wi-Fi are missing the boat.
  • You can’t trust everything you read on Twitter, but it continues grow as a vital source of information.
  • Even bad days must be savored and appreciated. Life is precious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PR Quiz: Social Media Edition

The correct answers to these 9 PR/social media questions may be obvious. But not always.

 

A team member schedules posts around the clock on your client’s Twitter feed. The content is good. One night a breaking news item is dominating TV and the web, especially Twitter. What do you do?

  1. Let the scheduled tweets be sent, figuring that more people than usual are checking their feeds and will see this meaningful content.
  2. Hijack one of the hashtags being used in breaking news tweets to get client tweets before more eyeballs.
  3. Cancel the tweets for fear of being perceived as out of touch with what’s happening and/or insensitive to the situation.

 

Your new client who hired you to do social for her business continues to tweet in the first person singular on the organization’s account, even though in strategy sessions all parties agreed the Twitter voice should be first person plural. What do you do?

  1. Delete all her tweets that begin with “I”.
  2. Help her get more than 62 followers on her personal account (so she’ll be more likely to share her thoughts there).
  3. Don’t worry about it until the business account hits 2,000 followers.

 

A customer has posted an unfavorable comment about your client’s business on the organization’s Facebook page you manage. While the post is written in a calm, measured tone, it points out a problem that needs to be looked at by ownership. What do you do?

  1. Delete the post.
  2. Reply to the post with an apology and word that the issue will be addressed.
  3. Copy and send the comment to owners/managers in an email and ask them to respond.
  4. Do nothing.

 

A savvy manager for your client’s business has a great eye for compelling visual content and posts wonderful pics to the company’s Instagram account. However his descriptions are too long and always get cut off when are copied to the 140-character Twitter feed. What do you do?

  1. Insist that Instagram posts DO NOT get copied to Twitter.
  2. Teach him to write shorter.
  3. Don’t worry about it; lots of folks do it this way.

 

The owner of the restaurant you consult posts photos to the Facebook page but her photos are not good and the food items she posts are unappetizing. What do you do?

  1. Tell her to take the pics near a window to get better light.
  2. Ask her to get a phone with a better camera and stop using the flash.
  3. Ask her to hire a professional photog and stop taking food pics herself.
  4. Monitor the feed and delete those images that are off-putting.

 

A post you made on a client’s Facebook page gets a large number of likes, shares and comments. While you personally thought the post’s content was not extraordinary, you are aware it resonated with your target. What do you do?

  1. Try to create more posts just like that one
  2. Share it on your own personal page.
  3. Have the client cough up some bucks and promote the post to others in the chosen demo/area.

 

A client has a daughter who is obsessed with Pinterest. The client repeatedly insists that you begin sharing content for his business via Pinterest (a move you feel to be of minimal value for his particular business). What do you do?

  1. Do the Pinterest thing as requested, warning that it may turn out to be time and effort wasted. (After all, he is the client!)
  2. Continue to brush off the client’s wrongheaded guidance as long as you can, so you can focus on social platforms that have delivered results.
  3. Resign the account.

 

Your client emails you a blog post he saw suggesting that all Facebook posts ask a question to generate comments. You have found that questions asked on his company’s Facebook feed generally get very few comments, whereas other content gets good response. What do you do?

  1. Say thanks but ignore the blog recommendation.
  2. Ask questions on his Facebook feed on topics that are polarizing, though not controversial, to generate comments. (Even if questions do not directly relate to client’s business.)
  3. Point out to your client that the “ask a question” strategy works better for some than others.

 

A team member makes a Hootsuite mistake on a Friday night and accidentally retweets a friend’s party pic to your client’s Twitter feed. It receives no mentions from client’s 3,000+ followers, but is clearly inappropriate for his feed. It stays there all weekend until you delete it Monday morning. What do you do?

  1. Apologize via the feed to all the account’s followers.
  2. Chastise the team member for using Hootsuite while drinking.
  3. Let the client know what happened and mention steps being taken to prevent it happening again.
  4. Say nothing.

 

Here’s my hope that you do the right thing when faced with similar situations. Right for you. Right for you clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Popular or Avant-Garde?

In a world ruled by Facebook and Twitter, should you devote a lot of attention to other social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Google +, LinkedIn, Tagged, etc., etc., etc.?

I say yes. Absolutely. Knowing how they work gives you an opportunity to share content in a different way and, in many cases, present it via links to… Facebook and Twitter!

For specific audiences and for specific needs, the “second tier” social networks can often beat Facebook and Twitter hands down. Your quest for place settings for a wedding reception can lead you to excellent results on Pinterest. Your search for your next job on LinkedIn connects you with people who are hiring (and people who know people who are hiring).

To me, the comparison between the more popular Facebook and Twitter and the others is like so many other situations in our lives where the easy choice is what’s most popular. But more enlightenment and satisfaction may come from the less popular choice.

I enjoyed Iron Man 3 (2013’s biggest movie), but my favorite movie so far this year is less-seen The Place Beyond the Pines. Pepperoni and mozzarella are all-time favorite pizza toppings, but the one made with pear, fig and gorgonzola can also be mighty tasty!

The key to successful utilization of the myriad of social networks is budgeting your time appropriately. You should fish where the fish are. While you grow your connections and share meaningful content on Instagram, Vine, etc., don’t forget that bigger things are likely still happening with Facebook and Twitter.

Another key is to be aware that everything is fluid and constantly evolving. What’s vital today may be passé next year. Myspace was big, then less relevant. (And it may come back, according to this news item.) Developers are always working on tweaks that may make their networks more important or… less so.

Stay curious. Check out the new. Hit Redbox for The Place Beyond the Pines (out on DVD 8/6/13). But as you dabble with the avant-garde, remember the value of the mainstream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do We Have Too Many Media Choices?

Have you ever been sent to the grocery store where you purchased exactly what you were asked to buy? But upon returning home, you are told you got the wrong thing. “I wanted the caffeine-free Diet Coke.”

Line extension is a wonderful thing for beloved products. With tweaks and variations, new versions are introduced. The reworked stuff requires more shelf space for the beloved product and may even push a competitor off the shelf. But the greater number of choices complicates our shopping experiences.

In so many aspects of our lives, we have an abundance of choices. Sometimes the options are overwhelming.

When you have a tidbit to share with friends and associates you can choose among Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Vine, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr and many others. Not to mention text messaging.

Chuck Klosterman, writing about Johnny Carson, called him “the last universally shared icon of modern popular culture.” For most of Carson’s run, Americans had three network choices on their TV’s, not the hundreds of channels we may now choose from. Not to mention all the internet options.

How do we deal with all the choices in the world of communication?

  1. If you can determine how and where your audience wants to get your content, go there. If not, go where there is the best chance of your message being received.
  2. Remember, it’s better to reach a smaller number of eager recipients (or likely customers) than a larger number of indifferent people.
  3. Try newer media outlets to see if they can be effective for your messaging needs. But don’t become enamored just because you personally like a particular channel. This includes new social media platforms and new outlets in traditional media.
  4. Know that you can’t reach everybody. Even when stars of a big movie guest on every TV talk show, many of us will miss them and their message.
  5. Listen to your peers, including competitors. If their product/service is getting response from, say, Pinterest, maybe you should be on Pinterest for your similar product/service.
  6. Monitor and measure.

Of the billions of choices you had today, thank you for giving this post a couple of minutes of your time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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