A Primer for Instagram: Social Media for Elementary Schoolers
I went down the Instagram rabbit hole today. I figured it was just time. Previously, I’d learned enough about it to be able to speak semi-intelligently about it if needed. However, I’d never felt the need to use it and its use never came up for a client. I never like being a late adopter, so today I dug into it.
Using Instagram is pretty simple, really, particularly if you’re already a Facebook and/or Twitter user. If you think about mobile Facebook with only pictures, you’ll get Instagram. Take a picture, apply filters and frames to the picture if you choose, and then post it. You follow people and hope they follow you, and you can comment on each other’s photos. You can adjust your privacy settings so only your friends can see your pictures, or anyone can see them. Like Twitter, you can apply hashtags to photos so they can be categorized.
Facebook Gravy Train Nearing the End of the Line
For years, businesses have set up shop on Facebook for free, gaining unfettered access to its hoards (one billion probably qualifies as many hoards) of users.
Those days are over.
Since going public and watching the company’s stock prices go far below what was expected, those who rule at Facebook have made it harder and harder for businesses to successfully reach their audience on the social media platform without paying for it.
Later, Facebook decided IT knows best what people want to see on their own news feeds. After that change, when your fans logged in and went to their news feeds, they MIGHT see what you posted. This potentially reduced the reach the posts on your pages would have, but in the end it was still a system that worked well enough and could be optionally supplemented with paid Facebook advertising.
Recently, Facebook made changes to the algorithm, called “EdgeRank”, that it uses to decide what posts are shown on your fans’ news feeds. These changes may have gone too far for some page owners. The algorithm takes a number of factors into account to decide who sees your posts. The recent EdgeRank change, which supposedly happened on September 20 but has been said to have started as early as the end of August, was reportedly made to “de-clutter” news feeds. What it really did was make room for more sponsored posts. After this “de-cluttering” change happened, page owners found that the reach of their posts was cut anywhere from 40 to 70-percent.
With this change and the addition of sponsored posts, Facebook is essentially saying that we have to pay to reach a higher percentage of people who opted in to receive our information by clicking “like”. In fact, we have to pay to reach the percentage that we reached this summer!
So, what’s a business owner to do? Here are some options:
- Pay the piper: Fortunately, Facebook advertising is not terribly expensive, and can be worked into the budget of all but the smallest businesses. Either use paid banner ads to boost your number of “likes” or use the money to purchase sponsored posts for your most important information.
- Squeeze out what you can: Take a look at what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, and who is being targeted. Make sure you’re posting interesting materials with as many bright pictures and/or videos. Also, look at your Facebook Insights to ensure that you’re posting at the best time of day. Finally, use Facebook’s targeting tools to target your key audiences with the right posts. The more that individuals interact with your page, the higher the chance will be that they’ll see your posts in the future. In the end, you’ll still have to get used to the idea that your reach numbers are going to be lower than they used to be.
- Look for alternatives: Perhaps Facebook isn’t your cup of tea anymore. It’s not sensible to completely abandon it, since it’s by far the largest social media outlet, but maybe for your business it would be a good idea to expend some energy on Pinterest, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.
What it comes down to is that going forward a successful Facebook campaign will almost be required to include an advertising budget in addition to the man hours it takes to manage it.
The Power of StumbleUpon
NOTE: I’m leaving this post intact, but be sure to read the follow-up about how I’ve been shut out by StumbleUpon.
To some these days, social bookmarking sites are almost a little quaint. Facebook and Twitter are the kings of social media content, and bookmarking sites seem so … five years ago. I’m here to tell you, however, that social bookmarking is alive and well as a traffic generator. Recently, for client SleepBetter.org, I was researching which tactics we weren’t using to help people find the sleep tips and advice provided by the site. Of course, we’re on Twitter and Facebook, and we’re also utilizing Google Buzz. We tried Digg, Delicious, and Reddit with little success. Then, we started submitting links to Stumbleupon. The results were immediate and dramatic. In fact, in the month of February, Stumbleupon was our second largest referrer, after Google.
Unlike other social bookmarking sites, such as the aforementioned Digg, Delicious, and Reddit, users of StumbleUpon don’t have to be looking for your content to find it. I’ve often thought this was the downfall of trying to use Digg to help visitors find you. Unless your content is tech-related or involves someone falling off of a donkey and hurting a sensitive part of the body, posting to Digg is often like whistling into the wind. StumbleUpon is different. In fact, the whole point of the site is finding random content that you didn’t know you were looking for. You click a button and “stumble upon” a site. It’s much like channel surfing. StumbleUponn can help you find random content that’s been submitted, or you can have it help you find random content within a category. Obviously, it’s an outstanding time waster.
PR Learning to Bypass the Media Filter
Public relations has always included business-to-consumer promotions in its arsenal of tools, but a large portion of the PR business has traditionally involved attempting to get stories placed in the media, in the hope that the consumer will then see those stories. Even highly public promotional stunts were largely, in the end, designed to gain mass media coverage.
But, what happens when the media weakens, and there aren’t enough reporters to cover even the most fascinating stories?
I happened upon two different articles this week that say essentially what I’ve been saying for some time — the answer is to create your OWN media. Blogging, podcasting, web videos, online news release distribution, Tweeting, and Facebooking all can take your message to your customers in an unfiltered way.
Facebook Groups Better for Businesses
It went unnoticed for a lot of people because Facebook groups are not used as widely as they used to be, but Facebook earlier this week unveiled a redesign of those groups. The screen shot below is of the former Fight SMA Facebook Group, which I’ve been working for some time to transition to a Fan Page.
The first thing you’ll notice (click the image for a larger view) is that the look and layout are now much more in line with Fan Pages and individual profiles. One obvious unique addition is organization information in the left sidebar, above information about group members.
So, the first question I asked myself after hearing of this redesign is, “Are groups now better than Fan Pages for businesses?” For the answer, lets look at the pros and cons of each…