4 Instagram Pro Tips for Brand Managers

Instagram

Instagram is a platform that is growing and growing everyday. Engagement levels on Facebook are decreasing while they are increasing on Instagram. In this post I’ll share six Instagram pro tips to convert you from a novice Instagram brand manager to a pro. This article is geared towards those using Instagram for businesses or organizations.

1. Contests

Instagram contests are a great way to engage your fans and earn user generated content. User generated content is the currency of your marketing plan and you want as much as possible to become a wealthy marketer. Petco’s summer photo contest asked fans to upload a photo of their pet paired with a weekly theme. In order to win, entrants had to follow @Petco and use their branded hashtag #PetcoPlayList.

The winner for that week would win $1,000, which is a high value prize.  A high value prize is important because it needs to be worth while for your fans to participate. Realizing that not everyone has $1,000 to dedicate to a contest, try soliciting for prize sponsors.

It’s a win win for both parties involved. Once the winner is chosen, upload the photo to your feed, tag the winner and watch the likes roll in. Ensuring that entrants need to follow you in order to win will help your account grow at a rapid rate.

Important note:

Do not have likes be the determining factor for the winner of the contest. There are services that let users fake likes, which will ruin your contest and upset your fans who legitimately tried to win. You can have likes account for 50% of the criteria, but try using a panel of judges instead.

You may also be interested in Using SnapWidget to embed Instagram photos on your website. You can also embed Instagram photos using their built embed code.

2. Hashtags and Tagging

Hashtags have evolved since they originated on Twitter. Now on Instagram and Facebook, hashtags are a fantastic way to categorize your posts and they are useful for branding content and user engagement. Petco used a branded hashtag to allow their fans to enter their summer photo contest. It also makes it easy for you to see what photos were submitted to your contest.

You can also use a hashtag to insert your image into an existing conversation. It’s especially helpful for events that someone else has organized. You’re likely to pick up new fans from people peaking in on that hashtag.

3. Links

Instagram does not allow live URLs in the comments of your photo. You can get around that by changing the link in your profile and telling your fans to “click the link in your profile to learn more.” To change the link in your profile from the mobile app, click the profile icon at the bottom right and then you will see an “Edit Your Profile” button.

Underneath your name and username is the option to add a URL. Keep in mind that if you ask someone to click the link in your profile for a photo posted two days ago, and do it again the next day. Someone who is behind on their Instagram feed may not be clicking a link you want them to.

I use goo.gl to track how many clicks those links are getting. The stats for those clicks let me measure the best day and time of the week to post for my audience.

4. Use Locations as Links

I learned this trick from the Miami Marlins. As mentioned in #3, you can’t use live links in the comments, but you can provide a URL as a location. Notice their use of www.marlins.com/SocialMedia. Again, this is not a live link.

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 5.16.34 PM

These Instagram tips should help you become a pro Instagram brand manager. If you are interested in learning more with a one on one training, consider booking a live social media training.

3 Expert Ways To Engage Your Fans on Twitter

Twitter_bird_logo_2012

 

A Sweet Way To Engage Twitter Fans

Here’s a few valuable ways to engage your fans on Twitter. A well-organized social media strategy does not come easily to all brands, but some just get it. In this post, I’ll share three interactions I’ve had on Twitter and what you can learn from them. My number one rule for being social media successful is the ability to engage your fans.

Asking trivia questions is a great way to engage your fans, which is a trend I have been seeing a lot of lately. Let’s start with Publix, my local grocery store, who asked a trivia question about their owner.

 


I’ll give kudos to Publix for their ability to engage me, but I was disappointed with their response when I asked if I won anything. I do want to point out that their commitment to customer service is fantastic. I’ve had a few problems with their online deli ordering lately, but their social media team was quick to respond and they even sent me a $10 gift card for my trouble. I had another online ordering problem a few weeks later, tweeted them about it and they had the manager call me.

No gift card the second time, but I appreciate their attentiveness to customer service. Needless to say, I googled the answer to the trivia question and they did have a cutesy response letting me know I was right (thanks Wikipedia), but I would have enjoyed winning something for my efforts. If anyone from Publix reads this, can I suggest you offer social media dollars for trivia questions like this? Your fan base would grow exponentially if fans knew they could earn discounted groceries and incentives. I’d be happy as a customer and as a social media enthusiast.

The Sweet Stuff

This is the best way to engage your fans on Twitter I’ve seen. Citrix, the makers of GoToMeeting, the software I use for my social media trainings and coincidentally headquartered in the next town over, deserves a medal for how they engage their fans on Twitter. Citrix also tweeted a trivia question, on Throw Back Thursday (brownie points for that), of an advertisement from many years ago which included fax instructions.

 

I didn’t google it this time, but my first few guesses were wrong. I took a closer look at the image and saw a 95 in the corner, so I tweeted another guess. The next day, Citrix tweeted that another user and I got it right. Sweet!

The other user beat me to it and asked Citrix (“and we win a….?)” I jokingly asked for a free year of the webinar software I mentioned. The other user already had that, but Citrix did have something better in mind. Also, kudos to GoToMeeting for jumping in on the conversation too. It could be the same person managing both accounts, but still, it’s a great way to engage fans on Twitter.

What I won

I thought it was a joke and that I was just going to get a picture of a cupcake, but au contraire! I am physically getting a cupcake in a jar, mailed to me, courtesy of Citrix and GoToMeeting.

Enter TwitGift

I really thought it was a joke, especially because of my recent Twitter trivia experience with Publix. I clicked the link in the tweet, and was asked for my address, and boom, my cupcake in a jar is on the way to me at work. I wonder if it’s from Wicked Good Cupcake?

TwitGift is a service that allows companies to send gifts to their fans on Twitter. They seem to be in a beta program right now, but this is an unusual, fantastic, amazing and wonderful way to engage an audience on Twitter. I did some research and Citrix uses this often, especially if a customer has a complaint.

Image Credit: Twitgift.me 

What amazes me is that Citrix, a tech company, sends me a cupcake in a jar for getting a trivia question right, but Publix, a grocery store, didn’t send me anything. Thanks for spoiling me Citrix, now I’m going to expect a cupcake in a jar from every trivia question I get right. Kudos to you for knowing how to engage your fans on Twitter. I’m going take a photo of my own cupcake when it arrives, post a thanks and a link to this post.

The $12, which is peanuts to a tech company, will pay dividends on the word of mouth front. This post is exhibit A of the payoff their TwitGift purchase has given them.

Honorable Mention

At every Miami Marlins home game, they run a promotion called #TweetYourSeats. They ask fans to tweet their seat location at a given time during the game. Their social media team picks a few winners and offers them “social media dollars”. The dollars can be used to purchase concessions throughout the stadium. I’ve won a few times now and it’s always fun knowing the beer I’m drinking was sourced via a tweet. Thanks social media!

 

 

These examples are fantastic ways to engage your audience on Twitter.

Twitter Now Supports GIFs

Hey Tumblr lovers! Twitter announced yesterday that they now support GIFs on the iPhone, Android and Twitter.com. GIFs are a series of images animated together to create a looping animation, invented in 1987.

If you are a Silicon Valley fan (If you aren’t, you should be) on HBO, you know that compression is very important. When you post a GIF, Twitter will convert it into a soundless MP4, which helps with load times.

Facebook does not support GIFs, but they do support video that will play in Newsfeed automatically, a relatively new feature. Instagram also supports video.

There are a few ways to create a GIF. Photoshop is my creation tool of choice, but there are tons of GIF generators on Google. If you do use Photoshop, check out this GIF tutorial.

Facebook to Allow Anonymous Login

facebook-logo-1

 

Every year, Facebook holds their F8 conference for developers. This is where they announce what’s to come with the social network. This conference is mostly intended for Facebook developers, but some of their announcements are applicable to the general public. This year, their main focus is mobile and putting people first.

Control How You Share Your Information

facebook-login-button

How many times have you logged, or tried to login, to an app only to be forced to provide your login information? Last year Facebook separated read and publish permissions to allow control over what an app could share on your behalf. Apps could no longer require you to give them the right to publish to all your friends prior to signing in to the app.

So now, whenever you login with Facebook, you will see this dialogue. You’ll be able to share, line by line, what you want to share. Sorry, no word on when this will be available just yet.

Screen Shot 2014-05-03 at 4.39.01 PM

Soon, app developers will be able to make people feel more comfortable (sit back relax, and sign into our app) to sign into apps. Apps used to be able to share friends’ data too. Not anymore! Each individual user will have to give permission to what data they share. You will have more power and control over what information is shared.

Anonymous Login

Anonymous Login

In addition to controlling what information you share, Facebook announced the anonymous login. If you don’t want the app to know who you are yet, you still want a streamlined experience of what the app can over. This gives you a hassle free way to experience an app. You’ll have the option of providing login information once you feel more comfortable with the app.

The goal with these two new login tools is to get people more comfortable using apps. The more comfortable you are, the more often you use it. The more often you use it, the more ads Facebook can show you and the more money they can make. People first yes, but money is a close second.

Watch the Whole 2014 F8 Keynote

 

Snapchat Adds Chat

If you haven’t jumped on the Snapchat train yet, their new feature may have you jumping on board. On May 1st, Snapchat released a chat feature! Wait? You couldn’t chat with Snapchat? No, not really!

Sending messages that deleted after a few seconds was their bread and butter, but you couldn’t reply with just text, you had to send an image to respond. Getting a funny dog video and not being able to respond pictureless is the worst. Now you can reply just like you would a text message. Hoorary!

But wait, there’s more! Snapchat will also tell you when your friends are viewing the conversation, so you can chat live via video too! Better make sure you have your hair did!

Share-on-Facebook-


 New Commenting System on SociallyGold

I recently enabled the ability for readers to comment on direct sentences, rather then the bottom of the post like traditional blogs. Share what’s on your mind by clicking the chat bubble and logging in with a social network. Enjoy!  

Twitter Announces Pop-Up Notifications

Twitter announced on its blog this week that they will soon roll out pop-up notifications to their web interface. These notifications will be in real-time and will alert you when someone engages with one of your tweets.

When you’re logged in on twitter.com, you will receive notifications if someone has replied, favorited or retweeted one of your Tweets. You can also receive notifications for direct messages and new followers. They’re fully interactive, so that you can reply, favorite, retweet, and follow right from the notification. We’ll be rolling this feature out over the coming weeks.

If you don’t want to receive these notifications, don’t worry. You can turn them off.

What do you think of this update to Twitter? Let me know in the comments!

Guest Post: 6 Tips to Make Your Facebook Page as Efficient as Ever

facebook-logo-1

Facebook has changed. Many think not for the better. But Facebook obviously thinks differently. And we all better get used to it.

Welcome to spring 2014, where we can now write the eulogy of Facebook’s “free lunch” era. What do I mean by that? Well, we’ve all heard the saying “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Yet for Facebook’s existence up until now, “free lunch” actually was aplenty for all.

That’s because organic page reach was high. There was a relatively low barrier to entry. Overnight, any Facebook page could become the next big hit. Any page probably had some pretty good engagement numbers on any average post.

But that is no longer the case. You’ve by now likely seen the articles about Facebook’s strategic changes and how that is affecting organic page reach. Here are just a few links from around the web:

Why Facebook is Laughing All the Way to the Bank
Your Brand Posts Are Fading On Facebook
The Free-Marketing Gravy Train Is Over on Facebook
Facebook Is Ending the Free Ride

From October 2013 to February 2014, Facebook organic page reach dropped from 12% to 6%. It will continue to drop and dramatically so. Over time, this number will get closer and closer to zero. That’s reality. It’s Facebook’s prerogative to monetize its product. This was undoubtedly inevitable.

We can’t be sad about it. Instead, we – as managers of small-scale Facebook pages – must be proactive. There are action steps we all can take to make our pages more efficient and encourage as much engagement as possible, at low costs. Just like the olden days.

Here are my top six tips on how to make your Facebook page as efficient as ever, given the changing dynamics of organic page reach:

1. Engage with your posts with your personal account. This is an absolute no-brainer. Facebook’s computing algorithm views favorably posts that already have engagement. This is how certain items go viral. By just regularly sharing, liking and commenting on your own page’s posts with your own account, you’re getting an easy bonus point (or two or three). Do this often.

2. Ask other people to also engage with your page’s posts. Same reasons apply! You should plant occasional seeds with friends, colleagues, board members and more to have them also engage with their shares, likes and comments. These are such easy, easy tasks. You should never have an important Facebook post end up with little-to-zero engagement. That’s your own fault for not engaging yourself and directly asking others to do so as well.

3. Use photos as often as possible. Photos are vitally important on all social media entities in 2014. Facebook made changes not too long ago that hurt “text-only” posts, an under-appreciated wild card of the olden days. Nowadays, never do that. Every post should have a graphic of some kind. Don’t have one that relates? Use an organizational one! Anything counts.

4. Scratch that: Use good photos as often as possible. Well, more specifically, you should strive to only use good photos. What do I mean by that? Use high-resolution photos with real-life smiling people. These individuals should be as excited as you are to share the word about your organization. Check with them first to make sure they like the photo. Make sure the lighting is good, the background is not too boring and as always, have fun!

5. No ugly links. I see this way, way, way too often. That’s unacceptable in 2014. This item should definitely have been on my social media pet peeves list. I’m not sure how it didn’t make the cut. On Facebook nowadays, links load up with thumbnails and website previews. That means you can then delete the text of the link. Always do that. If the link still looks funny or ugly, use a link shortener, such as bit.ly. That should be a regular option too when using photos (!).

6. Keep it simple. Don’t try to do too much at once. As I urged in my last Socially Gold guest post: The No. 1 rule is to be consistent. If the contents of a potential post seem too crowded, split it into multiple posts. When you just have 10-15 minutes of down time, schedule a few posts for the week. Make it easy on yourself. Be direct, clear and concise with any possible calls to action.

As with all social media entities, a Facebook page can’t simply portray a boring and robotic view of your organization. Best practices would encourage page managers to be witty, show personality and display creativity. There are ways to do that, while also not limiting your audience or being too overly political.

There always is a fine balance to play as the manager of an organization’s external image on Facebook. One can never understate the importance of risk management and this especially relates to social media in 2014. Any post can still go viral; and that’s not necessarily a good thing if you’re not careful.

Now that Facebook has been so heavily saturated with more users and more pages, page managers should temper their expectations. Just by creating a Facebook page and posting some bland status, you won’t immediately be inundated with new sales, new customers or any added visibility.

Facebook ads – the ultimate antidote to declining organic page reach – might not be realistic for your organization. You might not have a large enough advertising budget (or one at all). These ads also might not be that good of a value for you. Every situation is different.

But for now, you should at least start by controlling what you can to make your Facebook page’s presence as efficient as possible. That’s all you can directly affect. And there still are plenty of ways to do what you can to grow your page. The tips above are a great place to start.

Jacob Rosen is the Development Associate for Hillel at Kent State University. He can be found on Twitter in two locations: @WFNYJacob, where he tweets about Cleveland sports and sports analytics; and @udjrosen, where he tweets about Northeast Ohio, the media industry and other whimsical things.

Jacob is a contributor at WaitingForNextYear.com and SportsAnalyticsBlog.com. He has professional media relations experience in Minor League Baseball. He also was the editor-in-chief of his college’s newspaper and has been an active social media user (and critic) for years and years.

Updates to Twitter for Mobile Devices

Twitter made updates to their mobile app this week regarding how you share photos. These Twitter updates will make the sharing of photos more social…and awesome!

[Tweet “These Twitter updates will make the sharing of photos more social…and awesome! sociallygold.com/updates-to-twitter-for-mobile-devices via @socially_gold”]

 

“We’re rolling out two new mobile features that make photos on Twitter more social. One is photo tagging, which lets you tag the people in your photo; the other is the ability to include up to four photos in a Tweet.” says Twitter.

 

New Features

  • You can tag up to 10 people in a tweet, without sacrificing any characters…WHO HOOO!!!
  • You can upload up to 4 photos in a tweet, which automatically creates a collage. This feature is currently available on iPhone and will soon come to Android and twitter.com.

Here is an example of a tweeted photo with multiple people tagged in it.

The large text in this photo was created by covering the camera in Snap Chat, creating a black screen and then taking a screen shot. 

How can you use this?

This update is exciting for brands because it will allow you to create more engagement around your photos. Also, it will encourage you to post your photos on Twitter, rather then via Instagram and then shared to Twitter.

I always recommend that you shouldn’t share photos on multiple social networks, you want to give a reason for your fans to follow you on both. They are likely to get annoyed if you are posting the same photos multiple times.

What’s your take?

How do you feel about these new features? I’d love it if you shared how you are going to implement this in the comments, so others can learn from what you’re thinking.

I’ll start…This will be really helpful if you are live tweeting an event. You have the ability to create real-time engagement by tagging up to 10 users in a photo, you’ll need to know their name (or username) to tag them of course.

Now it’s your turn to share some potential ideas for these new features. Scroll down and share an idea or two. Also, don’t forget to share this post with friends.

Facebook Adjusts News Feed Algorithm

facebook-logo-1

I have sad news to report. Facebook is playing with their news feed algorithm yet again and it is going to affect your brand page. I thought this was just a rumor, but when Time and AdAge report on it, it has to be true. Facebook has already cut down organic (non-paid) reach from 12% to 6% and it will soon be cut down to 1-2%. Users are likely to like a page and never see their content (organically) in their news feed ever again.

A Facebook engineer explained the competitive environment last summer when he cited internal research showing that 1,500 pieces of content are eligible to appear every time a daily user logs into the network. Each day, an average of 300 “stories” are then prioritized by news feed algorithms to appear to that user.

What’s do I do?

The annoying answer is to open your wallet. If you want to have more of your fans see your posts, you’re going to have to shell out the cash. The really of it all stinks if you ask me. Facebook made over $7 billion in ad revenue last year and are looking to make more. They are a public company now and they have investors to make happy. If you are unfamiliar with facebook ads, you can pay facebook to display your content to your fans or non-fans. The more money you are willing to pay, the more people you can reach.

How else can I get my message out there?

You may want to consider other social networks and communication channels to get your message out there.

  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Vine
  • Snapchat
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • Word of mouth

I’m upset that Facebook is not what it used to be. The non-profit clients I work with aren’t able to shell out extra cash to tell their story, so they will have to go elsewhere.

What do you think?

Is this enough to make you rethink your use of Facebook? Share what you are thinking in the comments.