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.

InstagramInstagram was launched in 2010 and was purchased by Facebook last spring.  The service currently claims 100-million active monthly users.  They lost quite a few users after an unfortunate decision to change their privacy policy late last year.

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.

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Who Are the Millennials?

As a member of the Generation of X, I feel like I know a little bit about people my age.  The generation before us, the Baby Boomers, have been written about far too much, so everyone knows about them (and is probably sick of them).  However, who are the Millennials?  This generation, whose parents are mostly Baby Boomers, are hard to define.  However, given that they are now in their 20s up to around 30, we marketers can’t ignore them.  Yahoo News recently re-published a story that tried to define them, and in my view did a pretty good job.  Here’s how Yahoo describes the Millennials:

  1. They’re natural entrepreneurs…
  2. …But they aren’t acting on whatever entrepreneurial instincts they have
  3. They’re spendthrifts…
  4. …And they’re broke
  5. They’re socialists
  6. They’re narcissistic
  7. They’re politically engaged
  8. They’re less religious
  9. They’re stressed out

You can check out the full article for more explanation of that list.  Obviously each of these doesn’t describe EVERY Millennial, but overall I’d say it’s fair, based on my observations.  I might add one more — They’re connected.  More than any other generation, this one is likely to be found with its eyes glued to a smartphone or tablet.

What do you think?  Let me know in comments.

Five Rules for Social Media Brand Management During a National Crisis

Before I get too far into this topic, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon.  It was and is the definition of senseless violence.

social mediaIt’s a very modern thing, and unfortunately it’s happened lately with increasing frequency — our entire nation mourning via social media.  The latest incident was the bombing at the Boston Marathon.  If you went on Facebook or Twitter yesterday afternoon, the vast majority of the posts you saw were expressing condolences or passing along details of what happened.

Unfortunately, what you also saw mixed with the heartfelt and personal messages of shock and grief were branded messages that had nothing at all to do with the horrifying events of the day.  The companies behind those messages either weren’t thinking when they posted them, or scheduled them hours or even days in advance and then walked away.

How bad and damaging these non sequitur posts are is up for debate.  Peter Shankman, one of the true gurus (although he may hate that word) of social media, is particularly bothered by them and thinks they’re significantly damaging to a brand when they happen.  He would most likely believe that this blog post is unnecessary as social media managers should know better by now.  But, obviously if it’s still happening then more education is needed.  That’s why I present my Five Rules for Social Media Brand Management During a National Crisis:

  1. Pay attention. You can’t afford to go into a rabbit hole and not pay attention to the news. Knowing what’s going on in the world is part of the job of a social media manager.
  2. It’s okay to be personal.  Posting a short and very concise message of sympathy for the victims is not only okay, it reminds your audience that your brand is made up of people.  Be very careful in the wording, however, and make it genuine. 
  3. Shut down.  Remove all non-relevant scheduled Tweets and Facebook posts, and stow them away for another day.  Not only will no one pay attention to them, continuing with “business as usual” may actually harm your brand as your audience may see you as not caring.  The exception to this rule is if your company has a personal connection to the tragedy.  Obviously, posting (for example) that the team your firm put together to run in the race is safe and sound is different than a branded message.
  4. Adhere to the 24-hour rule. Other than a short condolence message, it’s best to stay “dark” with branded messages on social media for at least a day after the incident breaks.  When you return to normalcy is a judgement call, but 24 hours should be the minimum.
  5. Let common sense be your guide. An hour or two before the Newtown school shooting, I posted a silly picture for “Friday fun” on a client’s Facebook page.  An hour or two after the news broke, I was planning to post a weekly winner in a contest we were running.  When I heard about the shooting, I not only scrapped the contest winner post, I also deleted the silly picture, as it no longer seemed appropriate.  In the end, if it doesn’t feel right then delete it or don’t do it in the first place.

And, a bonus: Help.  If your business is in a position to give help to victims or families, obviously give it but don’t brag about it. That’s not social media savvy … it’s just being good people.

What do you think? Am I missing a rule that should be included?

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.

It used to be that you’d start a page, gather fans (now “likes”), and when you posted something on the page, your fans would see the post if they were online around the time you posted 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

New EndGame PR Client Can Teach the World About IT

I’m completely thrilled to announce that EndGame PR is now working with Unisys!  Unisys is a company that for 135 years has been providing technology to make life and business easier.  We’ll be producing a series of podcasts featuring executives from the company talking about the unique insights the company can give on IT solutions and supporting a global workforce.  With 29,000 employees worldwide, Unisys has a lot to share with IT decision makers, and we can’t wait to help them share it!

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