Mar 15

Facebook Pages Get A Makeover

Photo: Facebook is beginning to roll out their latest News Feed redesign: few days ago, Facebook announced they are rolling out a new “streamlined” look for business pages that “will make it easier for people to find the information they want and help Page admins find the tools they use most.” A more efficient Business page sounds good to us, but what else can we expect to see with this change?

The new Business Page Layout will look much more like a personal profile, with all posts appearing in a single straight-lined column on the right hand side of the page. The left-side column will feature business information, including your hours of operation, phone number, map, website URL, as well as videos and photos. With everything more streamlined, it will display more consistently on desktop and mobile versions.

Other important changes to note include:

  • An “easier to use” Admin Navigation Bar
  • More insight on competitor Facebook pages
  • Larger visuals on posts
  • Post box that appears on the right
  • “Invite your friends” option that appears on the left
  • Page Apps that appear on the left

Between all of these changes, the one that stands out the most in a negative light is the change in placement of App Tabs. Now that they are no longer the first thing users see on the page, it has brought up concern that the Apps themselves will be completely ineffective. The truth of the matter is, Facebook has slowly been shifting away from the use of Page Apps for quite some time. Gone are the days of the mandatory default landing page and the required third party contest applications. Instead, with each change Facebook has made, Page Apps have faded into the background, with the singular exception of pairing them with advertising campaigns since an ad can still be directed to any tab.

So what does all this mean for your Facebook strategy? Honestly, aside from a possible temporary influx of users checking out your page to see the new layout (bringing more engagement with it), your posting strategy itself should remain the same. Statistics show that only 1% of users go to your page once they’ve become a fan, while the other 99% only see your posts in their News Feed. This means aside from easier access to insights and better competitive analysis, the new change shouldn’t affect the way businesses market themselves on Facebook at all.

However, there is one thing you can definitely be sure of and prepare for… the seemingly never ending stream of posts from angry users who will beg and plead for Facebook to “change back.”

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Mar 07

5 Tips to be a Tweet Genius

Ah Twitter. The social network that created the notorious #hashtag, inspired people all over the world to share their every thought/action with the public, and practically has their own language (FF, DM, RT, etc). It has over 600 million users and is arguably the best social media tool available for real-time communication. But with over a billion tweets sent every 48 hours (over 9000 tweets per second), it’s a tough battle to ensure yours are standing out in a good way. How do you make certain that people won’t just scroll right past your pithy sales message (<— psst, that’s your first problem), but will instead “favorite”, retweet or reply to it?

There’s no magic formula for being a tweet genius, but there are a few tips and tricks to make tweeting more worthwhile for you AND your customer.

1) Be authentic and conversational. The last thing people want to hear is another obvious sales message. Twitter is meant to be conversational, a fun way to communicate and share funny, interesting, relevant content with your followers. It’s all about creating an image for your brand and using that voice to give your customer a better sense of who you are.

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2) Establish a good tweeting schedule. Since Twitter is all about real-time conversation and a users’ home page is constantly being updated with the latest tweets, it’s important to tweet often. The trick is tweeting often enough to stay top of mind WITHOUT tweeting so much that you look like spam. A good middle ground tends to be once every hour or two.

3) Be quick to respond. Engaging with followers is half the battle to becoming a successful tweeter. It’s important to monitor your Twitter account for questions, comments and mentions in order to create a loyal fan base. It’s one of the best customer service tools available so be sure to use it to your advantage!

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4) Pay attention to trends. It’s important to stay on top of trending topics and the latest news in order to make the most out of your conversations. Not only does a trending hashtag get your message in front of a larger audience, but it also makes your brand look smart and informed.

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5) Keep it short and sweet. There’s really no need to use all 140 characters with your tweets. Keeping both the message and hashtag shorter makes your tweet more “retweetable”. Use photos when possible as tweets with photos drive much higher engagement.

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So there you have it. You’re ready to go out and test out your new tweet genius skills and create worthwhile tweets for you and your followers! And in case you can’t remember our rules, a little help from Dr. Seuss may do the trick!





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Feb 27

What’s the Deal with WhatsApp?


By now you’ve probably heard all about Facebook’s astonishing $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service, WhatsApp. But the question on most people’s minds (including ours) remained: “Why in the world would they pay so much for it?” After all, you can buy A LOT with $19 billion. Just look at this awesome comparison from TechCrunch:

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It’s pretty clear that this recent acquisition makes Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram a few years ago seem like child’s play. So what’s the deal with WhatsApp? After a bit of digging, here’s the general breakdown of why we think FB decided to invest in this seemingly unknown mobile service and where it could possibly take them.

What is it?

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 and is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. In just a few short years it has grown to over 400 million monthly active users, with 500 million photos and more than 16 billion messages shared DAILY. The kicker? 70% of those monthly users use the app EVERY single day.

So What?

Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected…We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want.”

With Facebook’s obsession to connect everyone around the world, it’s logical that the next step would be growing the mobile user base. And WhatsApp is trendy. Scratch that- It’s incredibly trendy, with an adoption rate of about one million users PER day! It’s most popular with young people who want to send photos and texts to friends overseas without being charged international data fees. This extends Facebook’s reach into developing countries who have otherwise seen slow adoption rates to Facebook itself. Not to mention it will also extend Facebook’s advertising reach, if (and when) they so choose to apply ads to WhatsApp.

Most importantly, as WhatsApp continues to grow Facebook will be able to successfully transition away from computers and onto mobile devices (which has been the trend for practically everything in the past few years). Sure it already has a mobile version of it’s website, but WhatsApp adds a whole new dimension of instant messaging and photo sharing that can keep Facebook dominant in most countries.

What Now?

At only about half the size of Facebook, WhatsApp still has lots of room for growth and that’s what the primary focus will be for the next few years. New features will be added of course- WhatsApp already announced earlier this week that it is adding a free internet voice calling feature, similar to Skype.

As far as ROI is concerned, it’s a little too early to tell how that will go. Facebook and WhatsApp operate on two completely different business models. Facebook is free “and always will be” while generating the majority of their revenue from advertising. On the flip side, WhatsApp, is completely ad free but charges $1 per user per year (beginning after the second year of app usage). This business model could end up providing Facebook with the opportunity it needed to seek new and more customer friendly ways of creating revenue.

One thing is for sure, with the way Facebook has managed to grow and stay relevant over the past decade, we can expect some big things with what’s to come with WhatsApp.

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Feb 21

Confessions of an Instagram Addict

By Melanie Torres


Not pictured here: Melanie Torres

I’d like to preface this blog by stating that I am quite fond of Instagram. Actually, let’s rephrase that, I’m somewhat borderline obsessed with it. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last thing I look at before going to sleep. I find myself liking other users photos throughout the day and searching for brands, celebrities, fitness gurus and fashionistas to follow on a daily basis. There have been several online purchases made solely because I found a discount or special offer on IG. When I go to restaurants, hangout with friends or visit cool new places, my first thought is if the moment is “instagrammable”.

Now, to many people this obsession may seem a little far-fetched. Perhaps you’re already googling “Instagram-aholics Anonymous” groups to send me to. But the fact of the matter is, I’m not alone. In reality, there are more than 150 million active Instagram users as of September last year, 90% who fall within my age demographic (under 35)… and the momentum isn’t slowing down. To quote a recent New York Times article, “Instagram is already growing like one of the beans in the Jack and the Beanstalk tale. With a little nurturing, it could grow to the sky.” Facebook recognized the vast potential of IG when they purchased it for $1 Billion back in April 2012 and now, statistics are showing that Engagement on Instagram is 15 times that of Facebook’s, with users spending an average of 257 minutes per month. Not only that but it’s the social network that has seen the fastest growth, most engagement, and highest conversion from browser to shopper.

Interested yet?

12330802_lWith those kinds of bragging rights it’s no wonder so many brands have adopted IG into their overall marketing strategy, with some like Starbucks and Nike dominating the platform and killing their retail competition in terms of follower count and engagement. Nike is currently one of the most popular brands on Instagram with 3,452,109 followers and over 22 million posts using the hashtag #Nike. Starbucks is also up there with 2,063,755 Instagram followers and over 9 million #starbucks posts. But it’s not just brands like these two that have truly embraced the potential buying power of Instagram users.

Roughly 91% of retail brands have flocked to Instagram and many have found that the visual photo-sharing translated directly into sales, even through the depths of economic depression. Each brand uses different tactics to become successful, but there are some commonalities that they share. For one, each of these brands pays close attention to what their fans are posting and takes time to feature fan photos and interact with fans who use their hashtag. They also are careful to post photos that have that “Instagram feel”. Meaning less product shots, and more beautiful scenery, people using their products and “real-life-in-the-moment” captures. To get a better idea of how to become successful brand on Instagram just look at some of these top brands and take notes.

Instagram has also been playing around with advertising, and the “first Instagram ad from Michael Kors received four times the usual number of likes compared to non-promoted posts.

That ad also reached a global audience of 6.15 million for Michael Kors, and the company received 33,000 new followers, 16 times more than usual.”  Those are some real eye popping numbers for retailers and something that will become even more common as IG ads become more streamlined. Instagram itself is quite aware of the potential buying power of their users and in an effort to make themselves even more appealing to brands, have announced the launch of the “The Instagram Handbook for Brands” just last week. The book profiles 11 brands on Instagram that post incredibly engaging content and also features Instagram’s brand values and ten popular hashtags that highlight the collaborative creativity within the IG community. They also showcase brand spotlights, Instagram tips and API examples on their blog “Instagram for Business”.

So as you can see, Instagram is much more than a mobile app full of hipsters, selfies and pretty pictures. It’s a place where brands can truly connect and immerse themselves into the lives of their customers, and if it continues to grow at this pace it may soon become the world’s most powerful selling tool available. A pretty huge accomplishment for a social network that hasn’t even hit it’s 4th birthday.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go browse through Instagram now…

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Feb 11

5 Ways To Pin Like A Pro

Giant red metal push-pin leaning against treeSo at this point you’ve heard the hype about Pinterest and decided to jump on the bandwagon and create an account for your business. (In case you haven’t, you definitely want to check this out and also their newly revamped mobile website and reconsider.) Perhaps you’ve started pinning content from your website, followed a few other Pinterest accounts and created a couple boards. But now what?

We’ve compiled a few essential pro tips to help you properly leverage your Pinterest in order to increase sales, generate brand awareness, and drive more traffic to your website:

1) Use the Right Tools:

There are so many helpful apps, buttons, and widgets that can be used in order to make pinning easier and more effective. We recommend starting with the basics, Pinterest Goodies. Install the “Pin it” button to your browser toolbar and individual “pin it” buttons to your website images. If you have space on your website for a Pinterest widget, it’s a great way to drive web traffic to your Pinterest account.

If your fans are posting photos of your business on Instagram, it would be beneficial to create a Pinterest Board specifically to showcase both fan IG photos and (if your company has one) your business IG photos. You can do this through Webstigram. All you need to do is type in your business name in the website’s hashtag search bar. Then click on the link that appears in order to see all the public Instagram photos that have used your company hashtag. There is a “pin it” button attached to each photo which makes the cross promotion very simple.

Another great tool is Pinstamatic, which gives you several fun editing options to make pinning more interesting. Play around with creating “quote” pins, or even pinning songs from spotify. Anything and everything that can make your board more unique and valuable to your fans.

Last but not least, if you want to be serious about your Pinterest marketing you need to check out HelloInsights. This comprehensive analytics platform provides you with the powerful toolset you need to optimize your Pinterest presence. It includes up-to-date statistics, a live feed of what your fans are sharing, top brand influencers, detailed traffic analysis, customizable comparison charts and more.

2) Quality over Quantity

There are two huge rookie mistakes you want to avoid when it comes to how often you’re pinning. #1: Pin Dumping: the art of spending 15 minutes once a week pinning and repinning as many images as you can and then never logging back in until the next week (or even worse, several weeks later). #2: Pin Spamming: the art of spending an hour each day pinning and repinning as many images as you can.

Believe it or not there is a happy medium between the two, and like mostly everything in Social Media, it really does depend on your business and your audience. Generally though, we recommend pinning/re-pinning 10-15 quality images every other day. Note the italics. Your Pinterest fans will most likely be interacting with your pins through their Pinterest Feed (essentially the same concept as Facebook’s Newsfeed). This is an assortment of pins from all pinners that your fan may follow. So your pins not only need to bring some kind of value to your fan, but they also need to walk the fine line of showing up regularly, but not too often. Hence the reason why Pin Dumping and Pin Spamming don’t work.

The most successful Pinterest accounts take care to choose Quality over Quantity when it comes to the amount of pins AND the amount of boards on their Pinterest. If a potential customer looks at your Pinterest account, it shouldn’t be extremely overwhelming. Boards are meant to make the viewer’s life easier since it’s an efficient way to organize pins (ex: wedding photos go in one board, recipes go in another). If you have too many boards that are too similar (ex: Science Crafts, Science Fun, Science Games, Science Fair Projects), this does nothing but make pinning more complicated for you and more frustrating for your fan. Keep it simple.

3) Be Social

This is probably the simplest concept that is the most commonly neglected. Pinterest is first and foremost, a social media site. Therefore being social is a key factor in optimizing your account and generating fan interaction. Being social is easy! Follow other companies and individuals, “like” their pins, comment on pins, answer questions, and repin, repin, repin. In fact, 80% of your activity should consist of re-pinning valuable content, while 10% should be pinning from your own website and the remaining 10% should be interacting with other pinners.

4) Follow the 4 C’s:

Content: The quality of your content is extremely important. That’s true on every single form of social media and it’s important enough to repeat. Multiple times. Picture Bart Simpson writing it on a chalkboard if that helps. In this case, that means images should be interesting, high resolution, and linked to an appropriate website (not spam).

Cross-promotion: Pinterest makes cross-promotion on Twitter easy, since you can send out a tweet of every image you pin. We recommend tweeting 2 of your most interesting pins per session. We also mentioned cross-promotion via Webstagram if your company has an Instagram account. Be sure to place a link to your company Pinterest page on your Instagram account as well so you are creating successful synergy between the two. You can also cross-promote via Facebook by making a collage of some of your best pins and posting them with a link to your Pinterest account. No matter how you choose to cross-promote, the more ways your customers can find out about your Pinterest the better, so keep that in mind when assessing all your media outlets.

Community Boards: Also known as Group Boards, these are open boards that allow you to “invite” specific pinners to pin with you. The best way to go about this is to create a broad category that still relates to your business but also is general enough for most people to get involved. For example, a board for favorite ocean animals would be great for an Aquarium or Zoo. Once you have established what the board will be about, make your first pin in the board your company logo. In the board description, tell fans if they want to be invited to pin all they need to do is “like” your pinned company logo. You can have as many pinners as you want on a Group Board, but keep in mind that quality assurance will become more rigorous when more pinners are involved. If anyone pins inappropriate images it’s best to just remove their rights to pin from your board and delete what they pinned.

Contests: The days of “Repin to Win” contests are sadly over, however there are still a few ways you can run a quality Pinterest Contest. The easiest way is to ask fans to “follow” you on Pinterest, create their own board with a specific hashtag as the title, and fill it with at least one repin from your account along with other related pins. You can do this by creating a contest board on your own account first, provide a description on the board informing fans on what the contest is and how they can participate, the terms and conditions as well as a few pins to get started. We recommend announcing the winner on your own board (changing the description to reflect the winners name when the contest has ended), as well as commenting on the winning board to inform them they won.

5) Use the Correct Categories

Pinterest currently has 33 categories, a new “Interests” section and a search bar. For each board created, it is vital to select the appropriate category in order to ensure that your pins end up where they need to be. (ex: a board titled “recipes” should be under the “food and drink” category, whereas a board titled “cute critters” should be under the “animals” category.) For every individual pin AND repin, it’s also important to add keywords or even hashtags to the description that will make your pin more “search friendly”. (ex. A pin of a wedding dress that has #wedding AND is pinned to a board that is placed in the “wedding” category, will have a higher chance of being seen by your potential customer than the SAME pin that has a description with no relevant keywords and pinned to a board that is placed in the “travel” category). This being said, don’t go crazy with keywords either. You want your pin descriptions to make sense and possibly include 1-2 hashtags. The last thing you want is for it to look like spam.


There are of course many other small tips and tricks to making the most out of your Business Pinterest Account, and we’d love to hear if you have any other “pro tips” to add! Just leave a comment below.


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Feb 05

10 Reasons Why Your Business Should Be On Facebook

In honor of Facebook’s 10th Anniversary, we thought it’d be appropriate to highlight ten key facts about the social giant and why your business NEEDS to be on it.

image_41) It’s Currently the #1 Social Network in Both Population AND Engagement

Facebook has over 1 Billion users and 50 million Facebook pages. That means 1 out of every 12 people in the world have a Facebook profile and spend an average of 20 minutes on the site each time they login. And unlike its social network competitor Google+, Facebook users actually spend quite a lot of time engaging on the site (with 64% of Facebook users visiting the social network daily), making it the perfect customer service tool.

2) 73% of Teens have a Facebook Profile

There has been talk for quite some time amongst marketing professionals that Facebook lost it’s “cool” factor amongst teens. However Pew Research Center recently debunked this myth by releasing some interesting facts about itself, including the fact that 73% percent of U.S. Internet users between the ages of 12 and 17 are on the social network. So if your Target Market falls within this age range, Facebook should still be a key player in your overall marketing strategy.

3) Powerful Advertising

Most online advertising reaches only 27% of its intended audience. Facebook’s average is 91%. That’s a huge difference! This is due to the extreme targeting abilities of Facebook’s Ad Editor, which allows you to choose your audience based on location, age, income level, interests, and more.

4) It gives your Brand a Personality

Having a strong active presence on Facebook gives you the opportunity to really bring your brand to life and create strong relationships with your customer. By providing engaging and valuable content, your customers will want to interact with your brand- either by sharing your posts, asking questions or commenting with their ideas. Delivering outstanding customer service online can convert people to paying customers and persuade current customers to continue buying from you.

5) Optimizes Word of Mouth

90% of consumers surveyed by Nielsen Global noted that they trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trusted consumer opinions posted online. If the average user is connected to 130 friends, that’s 130 possible new customers for every user who shares, comments or likes your Facebook content.

6) Chances are your Competitor is on it

With over 50 million Facebook pages currently in existence, there is a huge chance that your competition already has a presence on the network. If they are utilizing their Facebook correctly this means that they have a customer service and brand awareness advantage. If your customer is on Facebook and they constantly see valuable updates from your competitor in their Newsfeed, who do you think they will think of first when it comes to the service/product you and your competitor provide? Your competitor of course.

7) It’s Stickier Than Your Website

If you’re in charge of marketing for your business, you know how hard it can be to get customers to stay on your website. The average person spends only 5.23 minutes on the average website, whereas Facebook users spend an average of 20 minutes each time they visit Facebook. That’s almost 15 more minutes to get your message across to your customer!

8) Great Features

Want to hold a contest? Post an offer? Spread the word about your Event? Facebook has some great tools that allow you to make effective campaigns and generate large amounts of social sharing to increase awareness. Aside from options on posts, there are thousands of apps available to drive traffic to your website or cross promote any other social media networks your business is on.

9) More Online Visibility

Having an updated Facebook page gives your business more visibility with search engines by providing potential customers with another opportunity to learn more about your business. Customers not only have a chance to see what you offer on your website, but they also can see more real-time updates and recommendations from other people on your Facebook.

10) It’s a HUGE part of your Customer’s Life

If 57% of U.S. adults are on Facebook and 48% of 18-34 yr old FB users check Facebook first thing when they wake up, it’s safe to say that Facebook is a very important part of the average person’s life. And what’s important to your customer should be important to you.


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Jan 26

Facebook Resources

We have a few Facebook for Business seminars coming up, so we thought it might be a good time to post some resources that our students and blog readers could use in their quest for Facebook perfection. Of course Facebook is constantly introducing changes, so you may find it looks different now than from these pics… please contact us about the differences and we’ll try to keep it up to date.

On the top of the list are a couple of “cheat sheets” that you might be able to use. This one shows you the key features of the business page timeline layout (click for large image): Main Timeline Cheat SheetNext up is one that shows you the major dimension images for most of the graphics you encounter as a Facebook page administrator from the fine folks at Dreamgrow: Next is a quick guide to making someone a page administrator. A very common transaction that sometimes throws a new page admin a bit:

And when it comes to content, here are some good tips from Ford’s head of social media, Scott Monty:

Now for some links. Here are links to articles that are helpful for new page administrators. Some are easy, some are tough to get through, but all our important:

Create a Facebook Page

Let’s start with the basics. If you’ve never created a page before, this is the link you need to get started. Once you have at least one page, you will see the “Create a Page” button in the upper right corner of your page.

Deleting a Group

If you inadvertently created a group instead of a page, spend a week or two asking those people to like your new page. Then, when you’re ready, follow the instructions at the link.

Edge Rank

Here’s a great infographic that covers what we talked about regarding Edge Rank.

This site will give you a number value for your Edge Rank that you can compare on an ongoing basis to see if your Edge Rank is improving or declining. Remember to select the page you want, the date range, and then all the way at the bottom, look for a link that says “to manually refresh data, click here.”

Covert a Profile to a Page

Follow the instructions at this link to take an erroneous profile and convert it to a proper page. You will lose all content on the page and start over, BUT you WILL keep all of your friends as fans on the new page. If you have a page AND a profile, convert the profile first, then merge that with the page.

Merging Pages

If you have two pages for the same business, you can merge them under certain circumstances. It’s important to note: you can only merge the page with fewer likes into the page with more likes, so be sure the page with more likes is configured to be the main page going forward.

Rules for Facebook Pages

Not the greatest read, but ignore them at your peril. The Facebook police may never knock on your door because you ran an illegal contest on your page. But all you need is one smart and disgruntled employee to make a stink and cause trouble. Better to just play by the rules, even if they hamstring you a bit.

Top 10 Facebook Marketing Mistakes

I was going to write a list of the biggest mistakes new admins make, but Mashable has already done a bang-up job on this one, so why reinvent the wheel?

When to Post

Here’s another good Mashable article about a recent study on traffic peaks and when to post. Generally good advice here, but remember: every audience is different. You should know when the peak times our for YOUR FANS… to hell with the studies.

Well, that’s all for now, but if you come across some great tools or examples for us to add, please share them in the comments below. Also, if you come up with questions after one of our courses, feel free to leave those in comments too. We’re happy to answer them!

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Jan 24

What’s Making Facebook Trendier

dreamstime_xs_10482463Last week Facebook introduced users to a new Twitter-esque feature called “Trending”, which appears on the right-hand side of a users’ Newsfeed. The Trending List shows popular conversations and topics that could be interesting to users, ranging from pop culture shockers like Justin Beiber’s DUI arrest, to exciting updates like the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Once a user clicks on the Trending headline, they get taken to a page with articles, public posts and other stories about the topic.

In typical Facebook fashion, trending topics are determined based on an algorithm that not only separates topics that have surged in popularity, but also what a given user has liked, shared, or commented on before. It also provides a small description under each trend that explains what users can expect to see if they click on it. These two customizations are what really differentiate Facebook’s Trending feature from Twitter’s, which simply lists topics.

It didn’t go unnoticed that the new feature is strategically placed in the same area that brand advertisements appear. Just another way to incentivise users to glance over at the ever changing stream of ads that generate the social network billions of dollars in revenue each year. This could prove to be beneficial to brands whose ads may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Which brings us to the real question: how can businesses leverage this new feature to reach a wider audience? As of right now the Trending Topics box only appears in users’ Newsfeeds, not Business Page Newsfeeds. So as a business on Facebook the only way to take advantage of the feature is if you actively search for it.

Here are a few tips on how to get started:

  1. Acting “as the business” page, type any popular hashtag into the search bar. An example could be #TBT (Throwback Thursday). Click on the first “hashtag” category to appear and it will bring you to a stream of all relevant posts
  2. On the right hand side of this stream you will see a complete list of 10 Trending topics. Click on one that is the most relevant to your business
  3. Join the conversation! Find posts by businesses that you can comment on, thus making your brand visible to all the other Facebook users who are also interacting with the given post.
  4. If the trending topic is extremely relevant to your business, find a good article or story posted by another business to “share” on your own page. Or better yet create your own post about it making sure to use the trending keyword in your post description.

Try to include this in your daily Facebook page management as the list of Trending topics will change often. As of right now it’s too early to say whether this new feature will really provide any significant value to brands or consumers, but Facebook has promised to continue making improvements to it based on user feedback. Let’s just hope that this proves to be more useful to brands than Facebook hashtags, which have done very little in adding exposure to business page posts.


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Jan 16

Can Google+ Force Us to Like It?

google-plusBrace yourself everyone, Google+ has yet again tightened their grip on Google users by adding a new feature that further integrates gmail into their neatly wrapped “Google package”. Last week Google announced that Google+ users are now capable of sending and receiving emails from other Google+ connections, even if they have never exchanged email addresses. There  are ways to opt out of this new feature, but the update has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many users who flocked to Twitter shortly afterwards with many choice words to say about the social network giant. This was to be expected, since the same reaction was elicited back when Google announced that users must be logged into their Google+ account in order to leave comments on Youtube.

Google+ may be gaining quite a reputation of bullying people into getting an account. By making Google+ the glue that holds all Google services together, the social network has quickly become second to Facebook as the largest social media platform available in the United States(not including Youtube). However, in terms of active monthly visits it’s number 4, only beating Pinterest by a few million users. With an array of exciting and unique features that are exclusive to Google+, it is surprising that it’s down the list of social networks in terms of engagement. Could it be that their aggressive tactics are actually doing them more harm than good?

Not what they mean by "Punch the Opt-Out Button."

Not what they mean by “Punch the Opt-Out Button.”

Take the newest update for example. If a user receives a Google+ message from someone outside their circles, the email will appear in Gmail’s “social” folder, not the main inbox. Naturally this reminds most people of those pesky spam emails that are sorted away and never opened, thus lumping Google+ emails into the same overflow of communications people are already used to. Definitely not Google’s most brilliant marketing tactic ever.

All this being said, Google+ does deserve some kudos for making their network very “Brand friendly.” If you’re a business owner it is crucial that your social media marketing strategy includes the use of Google+ since an account carries significant weight in terms of SEO and organic search visibility. And as we mentioned earlier, there really are some cool features that Google+ offers. For example, Hangouts allow you to schedule online group events that allows multiple people to participate, while Communities allow you to participate in focused groups of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest. Not to mention Google+ is a significant component of Google Authorship, which allows you to link your content across the Internet. The more quality content that you post and the more it is shared, the higher your Authorship ranking will be.

So it’s obvious that as a business you’ll reap many benefits by being an active Google+ user. Now if they could just find a less aggressive way to entice individuals to join the Google+ party, perhaps they could make an even bigger impact in the world of social media and truly compete with platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

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Jan 10

5 Ways Businesses Can Use Instagram Direct

Photo Credit: Instructables

Photo Credit: Instructables

With the rollout of Instagram’s new “Direct” feature, marketing professionals are struggling to find out how they can best utilize it for business. The concept of the feature itself is simple; instead of uploading a photo for all IG fans to see you can now select up to 15 individual followers to send a given photo or video. Essentially it’s Facebook’s direct response to the app Snapchat, which has grown exponentially in popularity over the past year. The idea of pushing a message to specific followers is obviously very appealing for businesses, especially those that are currently struggling with IG fan interaction. However with this new found power, where should a business draw the line? If not handled with care it could potentially do more harm than good.

As with any other aspect of social media the first step to success is developing a solid strategy. When determining the best way to go about using Instagram’s newest feature, it is important to outline key ideas that will bring the most value to your company’s target audience. Bringing it back to social media fundamentals, it’s essential to understand that the message should not be what the business wants to say, but rather what the followers want to hear. After all, the last thing anyone wants is to be spammed on their own Instagram profile.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. New Product Releases:

Reward fans who interact with your business on a regular basis with exclusive sneak peeks of new products that are ready for release. Include a link to your business website where they can find out more about it. Sending this out to only select fans gives them a sense of exclusivity and has a higher chance of sparking word of mouth.

2. Contests:

IG Direct gives a business the opportunity to run a very organized contest or giveaway. Post a public photo to Instagram alerting followers that the first 10 to comment will be entered into a private contest. Once you have the appropriate number of comments, message all 10 followers individually with contest details. Another contest option is to ask followers to use the Direct feature to send a specific photo to your business in order to be entered into a random drawing. Be creative with it and choose a contest option that work best for your business.

3. Special Coupons or Sales:

Reward top followers by sending them special coupons as a way to thank them for their loyalty and interaction with your business. Top followers are any fans who comment or like the IG photos of your business on a regular basis.

4. Fan of the Week:

If sending coupons isn’t an option, another great way to reward top followers is to select one each week and feature them as your “Fan of the Week.” Find followers who have IG photos visiting your business or using your products and feature one of the photos on your business Instagram profile. Send them a Direct message of congratulations and be sure to ask them to check out their photo on your business page.

5. Customer Service:

Perhaps the best way to utilize Instagram Direct is to deliver superior customer service by establishing a unique relationship with your followers. Answer questions that are sent directly to your business IG account and find other ways to reach out in a positive light to your fans. For example, if a fan has posted a photo with a complaint about a product your business sold, send them a Direct message with an apology and a coupon code for a new one. If you notice a fan posts many photos of your business, send them a thank you video from one of your employees.


To send photos/videos with Instagram Direct:

  1. Take a new photo/video or upload a photo/video from your camera roll.
  2. Add optional  filters and a caption.

  3. Tap Direct. You’ll see some features appear in green.

  4. Tap the names of people you want to send the photo/video to.

  5. Tap Send.


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