New from Instagram: Ability to Follow Hashtags

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Are you increasing your use of Instagram for business? (Hint: you should.) And now you can follow specific hashtags. Doing so can amp up your listening campaigns and help you determine the best hashtags to reach your target audience.

Get the complete scoop from Social Media Today.

Facebook Algorithm Changes in 2018: The Sky is Falling! (No, no it’s not.)

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Mark Zuckerberg recently announced in his 2018 “State of Facebook” address that Facebook users will soon see even less content from brand pages in favor of posts from friends and family, stating a desire to ensure we are using Facebook primarily as a place for connecting with each other.

“We started making changes in this direction last year, but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you will see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family, and groups.

As we roll this out, you will see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. Moreover, the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

What Does This Mean for Small Business and Non-profit Marketing?

Well, that depends. Facebook has increasingly been shifting from being a “free” social media channel to a paid media channel, despite recent protests from Facebook that it is not a media channel at all, a statement more likely stemming from the scrutiny following the 2016 U.S. elections.

We have been counseling our clients to include some form of paid posting in their Facebook content plans since that 2014 change, so, thankfully, our clients are ready for this new paradigm. That is not to say we have ruled out posts that rely on organic reach, either. Admittedly, organic post reach is nowhere near what it used to be, but results vary depending on the size of a page’s audience and the quality of the content.

Create Meaningful Content

What does “meaningful content” mean to Facebook? That is a moving target. So, don’t try to please Facebook in this regard. Work on pleasing your audience by providing information that is helpful and engaging. Make them laugh. Help them solve a problem. Use your content to build the “know, like, and trust” factors of the consumer journey.

DON’T:

Don’t create posts that use “engagement bait” as a means to gain more “likes” such as emoji reaction posts or posts asking for a “like” or a “share.” Facebook is increasingly penalizing these posts:

“…over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed. Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.”

DO:

Let your page followers know that they can choose to see all your posts first in their newsfeeds. Share this JPG in your own Facebook posts and email newsletters.

 
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Increase use of Facebook Live – Facebook claims that Facebook Live broadcasts reach 6x more people than uploaded videos. Facebook Live is a tremendous way to make a customer feel as if they know you before they walk in the door or click “buy.” They’ll begin to rely on you as a trusted advisor. It’s well worth your time.

Start a Facebook Group. It depends on the type of business you have, but using Facebook Groups ensures your page fans will hear from you and works to create community.

Listen to your audience. Find out what subjects they’re interested in. How? Social Listening. Search Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for your company’s keywords or questions your customers might have to see what information your target audience is seeking.

Moving Forward

So, now that you’re ready to conquer this new Facebook landscape, go get ‘em! If you need help, we are here for you, ready to provide advice or work with you to tell your story as effectively as possible.

Social Media for Business: Current Trends

There's no doubt that the use of social media has transitioned from "the new shiny" to established marketing tool. The Pew Research Center affirms this, stating that use of social media by adults in the U.S. has risen from 5% in 2005 to 69% in 2016.

By now we know that social media can help you promote your small business with:

  • Brand Awareness / Increased Exposure
  • Leads / Referrals
  • Setting Expectations / Customer Education
  • Recruitment
  • Competitive Analysis
  • SEO
  • Client Insights

Here are a few new developments in social media that can help you reach your customers:

Facebook Chatbots
Acting similarly to Facebook Messenger, you can initiate an interaction with a prospect using a Facebook Chatbot.

Facebook chatbot

You can create your own brand page chatbot using one of these online tools: ChatFuel, Botsify, or OnSequel.

Shop or Book an Appointment with Instagram
Instagram recently announced they’ve reached the 1 million advertiser mark. So while it’s still a visual playground, it’s also a space where business can happen with ease. Soon, business pages will be able to include a “book” button, so customers can make appointments and reservations.

Video
Using video in social media isn't new, but if you're not taking advantage of this way to get in front of your audience, start today. 

Facebook Live isn’t really new anymore but you should absolutely take advantage of using it as a communications tool. 

  • Facebook Live Videos Are Watched 3x Longer Than Videos That Aren’t Live Anymore
  • sers Comment On Facebook Live Videos At 10x The Rate Of Regular Videos

You can use it spontaneously or schedule “Facebook live” sessions – Q&A's tours/walkthroughs, event coverage, and more.

How will you work toward including more social media in your marketing efforts? 

Facebook & Video = Small Business Advantage

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Are you using video to the advantage of your small business? Does the idea of using video to promote your business sound intimidating?

While you do want anything you present about your business to be of good quality, you can use video without breaking your budget. By starting with simple educational videos to allow potential customers to have their first experience in dealing with you, you're well on your way toward accomplishing the goals of know, like and trust.

Facebook recently published these 10 Tips on getting the most out of sharing your videos via their popular social media channel.

Stay tuned for an update on our VoiceMatters' clients are using video to generate new leads and strengthen existing customer relationships.

Coming to Our Senses: Using All Five to Reach Customers

Reaching customers via all five of our senses - taste, touch, sight, sound and smell - brings to mind old school gimmicks like Smell-O-Vision

The Psychology of Social Media

This snippet of a podcast by "Hooked" author Nir Eyal speaks to the "almost psychologist" in me. Fascinated by what motivates human behavior, I began my college studies as a psychology major. In the end I realized my strengths were writing and communicating, and I changed majors. It was all helpful, as a good understanding of what makes us tick also makes for effective marketing.

In this segment, Eyal talks about the "user's itch," the internal need that compels someone to click Facebook over Twitter, or post a photo to Instagram rather than Pinterest.  It's an excellent reminder to think more deeply about the user experience. Listen to the full podcast here (track #4). 

Business Owners: Don't Let Facebook as Paid Media Scare You

Today's news that Facebook has surpassed 2 million (yes, that's right, million) advertisers should convince any business owner that Facebook should now be shifted to the "paid media outlet" column. 

Does that mean you have to completely ditch the "social" aspects of this social media channel? No, of course not. My clients still benefit from relating directly to their audiences, sharing news and useful information. I also recommend that they continue to share the posts of organizations/pages as appropriate, making sure to tag the page being shared, as a means of community building.

However, with strong organic reach a thing of the past, it pays to, well, pay. If you're unsure about fitting this into your budget, try a few boosted posts for the minimum of $5. With proper targeting, over time, you will increase your exposure and interaction. Let those posts work smarter for you not harder.

Twitter for Business

Twitter came up in conversation at this morning's meeting of the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce's Marketing & Membership committees, leading me to realize that I never got around to uploading slides from my recent seminar on Twitter for Business. Let me correct that error now, reiterating that Twitter is a terrific tool for networking and learning.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to me some more about Twitter and its role in growing your business, please connect!

Facebook for Small Business: Surviving the Next Adjustment

Yes, Facebook is once again making changes affecting how your brand's posts are viewed in the Newsfeed. Starting in January 2015, posts that are solely or too promotional in nature will be seen far less by Facebook users.

What constitutes "overly promotional?" According to Facebook, this:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Hopefully you've been shying away from this kind of content anyway, given that within this year Facebook has been adjusting their algorithm to both monetize (aka decrease your organic reach to the point where you're willing to pay to boost posts and/or create ads) and encourage posts that include value for the consumer. 

Why this seemingly drastic transition? According to Facebook (by way of Hootsuite's blog):

“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

While the initial reaction is to moan about yet another Facebook algorithm change, is this such a bad thing? Not if you're already following a good content marketing strategy of being helpful and sharing information that is valuable to your audience. Does this mean if you share any promotional content, it'll be invisible? Of course not. But you might need to put some money behind it, or make sure the news of your promotion is included within a broader context of the value of your business.

One of my clients has great success with contest-themed posts, but they are created to be of interest to the customer base. When I experimented with a similar contest on another client's page, it fell flat. Why? It wasn't as relevant to the people who liked their page.

Brands should already be considering Facebook as a monetized platform rather than a home base. Given the ability to target your audience with precision - and even have decent results with as little as a $5 boost depending on your goals - this could be a welcome change to your content marketing strategy.

Above all else, brands should remember the social in social media. Be helpful. Create community. Be of value before someone needs your service and guess what? You'll be on their mind when they're ready to use your services.

 

Twitter Works.

I confess. I might have a Twitter problem. I'm one of those "two-screeners" watching the Phillies game, the Oscars, or the latest episode of The Good Wife, glancing occasionally at my Twitter stream to see who else might be sharing the experience.

I also firmly believe that Twitter works for building business relationships - from networking to customer service. Ann Handley's recent experience with JetBlue proves that Twitter can be a mechanism to provide exceptional customer service. Read all about it here in her post, Twitter Helps Me Get My Lost Book Back, and What You Can Learn from It.

Why Work with a Solo Communications Consultant?

Working as a solo communications professional has its challenges, like any other career. Sometimes, the challenge is to help potential customers understand that just because your consultancy is run by one person, it doesn't mean that their needs won't be met. 

In my case, I pull together a team that suits the needs of the client's project. The process is the same as when I was an advertising account executive or directing non-profit communications - determine the needs of the project and assemble the appropriate team. I have web developers, printers, writers and graphic designers within my network to provide the same experience and solid results for my clients.

It looks like I'm not alone in my solo consulting world. Kellye Crane of Solo PR Pro points to a new study by MBO Partners on the State of Independence in America, which finds that the solo work force is here to stay and is growing each year. Read her full recap here.

Solo consultants are often seasoned, savvy professionals who are more than prepared to partner with you to achieve your business goals.

As you look toward planning for 2015, what are your marketing/communications/PR goals? Want some help looking at where you've been and the progress you want to make in the coming year? Contact me - I'd love to learn more about your business and how we can achieve results together.

Singing to a Full House: Blogging, Content Marketing and Social Media

I've spent most of the day today working on client blogs. It's fun and, of course, benefits them by sharing news, establishing thought leadership and boosting their SEO efforts. Blogging is a great component of content marketing, allowing a company to educate and establish trust with an audience. But the audience first has to find the blog. That's where social media comes in and where I turn it over to Jason Falls' recent piece on social media as the conduit for content marketing:

Social media is how you can take your content marketing – a blog post, a webinar, a white paper, a video, a contest, hosted event – and deliver it to a relevant and willing audience.

If it’s good enough, they’ll share it, you’ll drive interest, traffic or sales, and all will be well with the world.

Read the full article here.

Instagram Debuts Hyperlapse

Instagram has just unveiled a new feature - Hyperlapse. It will allow Instagram users to shoot a video using their mobile device's camera and upload to Instagram.

The Hyperlapse feature is currently available only on iOs. It is expected to be available on the Android platform "soon" and there are no current plans for Windows phones.

Stabilization for Hyperlapse from Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

 

As Wired.com points out:

Using clever algorithm processing, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that look as if they’re shot by Scorsese or Michael Mann. What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free. 

Imagine the possibilities for creating content to promote your business. 

Facebook Focuses on Discouraging Click-baiting

You've seen them. The short headlines designed to intrigue you, encourage you, sometimes even scare you into clicking the link to read the whole story followed by the disappointment of not much "there" there.

Similar to the sensationalized local broadcast news teasers - "You won't believe what vegetable causes belly fat!" Or "If you have this in your home, you could already be in trouble." - these "made you look!" headlines are known as "click-bait." 

Facebook is once again adjusting the newsfeed algorithm to discourage this practice in favor of content that people actually spend time engaging with and will be measured by time spent reading the content as well as how many people "like" or share the content.

While the general consensus can be to groan about yet another Facebook newsfeed change, this one has the potential to improve the quality of your newsfeed.

For businesses using Facebook as part of their social media strategy, it reaffirms the overarching strategy of attracting new business and retaining customers by establishing trust and being helpful. Be the answer to your customer's question.

You can read more about this newsfeed change here or reach out to us, we'll be happy to help you strengthen you business' message and customer relationships.

Happy Independence Day, Small Business Owner!

Well, ok, I'll wish a Happy Independence Day to all of us in the United States, but a special "independence day" to those of us who have embraced the all-American spirit of can-do and started a small business.

According to a recent study by Manta, small business success is on the rise and 72% of small business owners are happier with the freedom being the boss provides, even if 21% did acknowledge that they also carry more responsibility and less independence as a result.

As the infographic below shows, two of the largest barriers to small business success are economic conditions and marketing to find new customers.  

Courtesy of MANTA.com

I started my small business providing integrated marketing services and public relations to meet the needs of the small business owner who knows marketing is essential to success, but that hiring an employee or creating an in-house department doesn't fit the budget.  Let's talk about how we can help each other banish these barriers to small business ownership freedom and make every day Independence Day.

 

Is Your Online Refrigerator Stocked? How to Find Fresh Content

Summer is finally here. This usually means trips to the farmer's market and refrigerators stocked full of fresh produce from local farmers. You have everything you need to create a delicious summer menu.

This may sound strange, but finding fresh content to share on your blog and social media channels isn't all that different.  Even when the big sale is over or that long-term project is complete, there's always something to talk about via everyday occurences and items all around you. 

Take a moment and look around your office or your store.  When was the last time you shared a photo or talked about the benefits of one of your products? Or when was the last time you shared a slice of office life? 

Our client, Chrysalis Hair Design, will from time to time feature their products in their Instagram and Facebook feeds. They recently redesigned their storefront to remind customers to take care of their hair in the sun and sand this summer. All it took was a simple photo to communicate this:

Maybe it's something you're working on today. Are you using summertime to plan for the fall? Talk about it.  What do you customers have to look forward to? 

Pampered Pets Grooming Salon and Spa is another example of how sharing the everyday activity of your business can yield solid results.  Here's another happy four-legged customer.

This sharing of content isn't random, it's a strategy in and of itself. The more your customers and prospective clients see from and about you, the more they will likely trust you, remember you, refer you, do business with you. 

Take a moment out of your day and tell your audience what's going on.  If doing so on an ongoing, consistent basis sounds like one more thing you'd rather not handle, we've love to talk to you. Reach out via email to info@voicemattersllc.com or give us a call at 267-236-3607.

 

Welcome, The Grand Theater!

It would be wrong to close the week without ringing the new client bell! It's a pleasure to announce that VoiceMatters, LLC will be working with East Greenville's very popular The Grand Theater in promoting their Silent Film Series featuring live accompaniment via their historic 1923 Marr & Colton 2/7 Theater Organ

 

 

New Phishing Scam via Google Docs Request

If you receive an email with the subject line "Documents" that asks you to log in to your Google account to download, beware. This is a new, very sophisticated phishing scam that's going after Google Docs and Google Drive users.

Symantec provides more details about it here.

As with anything via email, if it looks unusual, don't risk opening it. Check with the alleged "sender" via another channel to make sure it's legit.