Friday, July 15, 2016

How to Make Twitter Actually Useful

With new features, the social network is fixing its biggest problems to win back Twitter quitters—but it still needs to do more

Here’s the longer-than-140-character version: Hannah Barz, a 22-year-old New York University student, signed up for Twitter in 2013 and really wanted to get into it. But she gave up, because she just couldn’t catch on. Who was she supposed to follow? How could she keep up with the fast-paced timeline? When she tweeted, was anybody listening? Ms. Barz hasn’t logged into the service in a year.

My own love for Twitter borders on unhealthy. It’s the first thing I look at in the morning and the last before I go to bed. You really can’t get the news faster or in greater breadth on any other social media platform. But nearly half of my 84,000 followers, including @hannahjeanbarz, change their Brita filters more often than they tweet. Many of their profiles look like deserted bird’s nests, with the default egg profile image and no sign of fresh tweets.

I’d blame my own boring tweets, but they’re certainly not the cause of Twitter’s most recent business woes. Not only is the company failing to attract new users, but it reported a decline in monthly active users last quarter. As a result, Twitter has been desperately releasing features to address everyone’s issues.
To find out if these features knock down the biggest roadblocks, I tracked down and interrogated dozens of my followers who have abandoned the network. It turns out, Twitter does deserve a second chance. Still, it has a long way to go in fixing its biggest problem: explaining why you’d add it to your already packed social media repertoire of Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Problem #1: What is Twitter for, anyway?

I heard it a lot: Facebook and Instagram are for connecting with friends, LinkedIn with business colleagues. So what exactly am I supposed to do with this thing? 
The Moments tab is the best way to catch up on the most recent news stories being discussed on Twitter. Photo: Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal
It’s time to stop thinking of Twitter as a social network. It’s more of a news network. I spend 75% of my time in the app getting news on everything from politics to technology to, yes, the Kardashians. Twitter is one of the few places where you can get direct access to the newsmakers, too, and eavesdrop on conversations between people you’ll never meet in real life. (Here’s an all-time classic.)
It’s OK to use Twitter only as a real-time news wire, and only launch the app when you want to keep up with live events like the Oscars, presidential debates or the NCAA tournament. You’ll likely find it to be faster, franker and funnier than Facebook.
Want to know the easiest way to use Twitter? Log into your account, skip over the Home tab and tap on the lighting bolt that is Twitter’s Moments tab. Here Twitter surfaces the most current and popular news stories shared on the service, and the best tweets about them.

Problem #2: Who do I follow and how do I keep up?
Of course, one of the best parts about Twitter is customizing your experience by following the accounts and people you’re most interested in.
When you sign up for the service, Twitter allows you to select people, companies and media outlets to follow based on your interests. Though Twitter doesn’t offer users a similar tool after the sign-up process, anyone can find interesting things to follow by tapping the little man icon in the top left corner of the mobile app, then selecting either Popular (for everyone) or Tailored (for you).
Now, beware: Twitter’s timeline is like Facebook’s newsfeed on caffeine pills. People told me they stopped coming back to Twitter because of the frenetic pace of their feeds. You just have to let go of the idea that you’ll be able to read everything.
Once you’ve accumulated a reasonably sane number of news and entertainment sources, say 50, turn on the new Best Tweets timeline setting. It shows you the top tweets from those you follow. (Unlike Facebook, if you scroll down a bit, you’ll eventually see every tweet from every account, in reverse chronological order.)
The tweets are chosen based on their popularity and what you may have “liked” in the past. Selected tweets aren’t marked—you may just notice a tweet from two hours ago at the top of your timeline.
This is a giant step in the right direction, but its setting is buried. You must go into Settings > Account > Timeline personalization, then flip the switch. Twitter will soon send prompts to people letting them know it has turned the feature on for them. You can disable it in Settings if you don’t like it. Whether or not you have this turned on, you’ll still see a “While you were away” digest of tweets when you come back to the app after several hours. Yes, it’s confusing.
Another buried feature, Lists, allows you to organize accounts in themed clusters, like work colleagues or cooking. Twitter should do some of that work for you, organizing the accounts you follow around themes, then surface the most important tweets from those feeds. How about, for instance, an automatically generated hometown news feed?
If you want to see what’s trending in your immediate circles now, the best bet is a service called Nuzzel. When you sign in with your account, it shows you the top stories being circulated by accounts you follow.

Problem #3: How do I use this thing?

The most interesting complaint I heard was some variation of this: “I’m very tech-savvy, but the whole service confuses me. I didn’t know if I was using it right.”
Twitter isn’t as baffling as Snapchat. But at first it can be like learning a Morse code of @s, #s, retweets, quote tweets, DMs, etc.

Explanatory videos aside, Twitter needs to provide more basic instructions. When I sent a direct message (aka DM) to a follower, he responded, “I didn’t even know you could private message on here!” Another user asked the difference between “retweet” and “quote tweet.” Here you go: A retweet is sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers. When you quote a tweet, you add commentary before sharing it.
Usability has become a major area of focus, Jeff Seibert, Twitter’s head of consumer product, tells me. The “favorite” star icon became a small “like” heart, and millions more are now clicking it, he says. Hashtag pages, where you can see trending topics, are now easier to read. Soon, there will be a way to respond to someone so everyone can see your response—a move which now requires an awkward workaround.
Intimidated by the character limit? While the company explores expanding the famous 140-character text limits on tweets, you can upload a screenshot of text—try the OneShot app—or use the new GIF button to insert some fun animations. Mr. Seibert says Twitter is even considering letting you edit tweets after they’re posted.

Problem #4: Who am I supposed to talk to?

Twitter can feel like yelling in a soundproof room: No one seems to be listening. Many Twitter quitters expressed confusion about who they were tweeting to—if anyone.

Know when you should absolutely tweet? When you have a problem with a company or product and need assistance. Many brands actively engage with users, and Twitter recently released a customer-service messaging tool so they can talk to you directly. Last month, Apple launched its @AppleSupport account and is responding to most inquiries. @NikeSupport, @zappos_service and @KLM are among the other top customer service accounts on the network.
I know I said you should mainly just shut up and read, but there are plenty of good conversations to jump into on Twitter if you’re brave enough to take the leap. And that’s the best way to get followers: Share when you have something meaningful and constructive to contribute. Taylor Swift will probably never respond, but if you’re, say, a marine biologist, you might just end up having great conversations with your peers—if you can find them.
If improved, it could be one of the greatest strengths over Facebook, which has slowly picked off some of Twitter’s best features.
“Facebook has become my go-to for news and videos. It’s just been much easier to manage,” Ms. Barz says.
Told you she’s Twitter’s biggest problem.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

User-Generated Content Is How You Get Your Customers to Sell for You

User-Generated Content Is How You Get Your Customers to Sell for You

Let’s start with the bad news: You are not your company’s best salesperson.
In fact - no matter how effective your training, incentive or marketing programs may be -- nobody within your business is as good at selling as your customers. This is why brands are taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC).
According to Business Insider, shoppers who interact with UGC are 97 percent more likely to convert with a retailer than customers who do not.
The science behind UGC on social media is built on the principle of social proof.
According to Yotpo, at its most basic level, user content marketing is based on a psychological response known as social proof. Social proof explains we are hardwired to learn from others to help us avoid making potentially harmful choices. For example, if we see someone else touch a hot pan and experience pain, we are probably not going to try it for ourselves.
Take the online retailer Chubbies. Chubbies’ Facebook Page is a healthy mix of original content pointing back to their site, social-friendly shares, which heavily reflect their ethos, and UGC.
A recent Shopify case study highlights what Chubbies got right. "Rather than pictures of the founders in skimpy shorts or professional models with rock star-like features, Chubbies wants real men to show off their retro shorts known for their forgiving elastic waist bands."
To do that, Chubbies actively solicits, and shares first-hand UGC:
Image Credit: Chubbies
As a result, Chubbies doesn’t talk at their customers; even less is the majority of their top-of-funnel content explicitly “marketing.”
Instead, they lean on their audience to tell their own stories - through images, videos and words -- about the Chubbies' lifestyle. Leading with UGC across all their social platforms has amassed Chubbies nearly 1.5 million Facebook fans and over 272,000 Instagram followers - all for a men’s shorts company.
Another brilliant example of UGC is the “Share a Coke” campaign.
screenshot-twitter com 2016-05-30 11-38-17.png
Image Credit: Yotpo
Coca-Cola produced personalized bottles of Coke with names on them, and customers were asked to upload images of themselves with the bottles to social media. Coke attributes this campaign to a two percent increase in revenue, which might sound small, until you consider that Coke’s full-year cash from operations [in 2015] was $10.5 billion.

More recently, for a prize of €12,000, Coke set up a competition where customers were required to create a short video explaining why they enjoyed Coke. The IMC Director of Coke reported the result of the competition as six million online mentions with 92 percent cost saving efficiencies from new marketing ideas, all generated by their target audience.
Omni-channel marketing means bridging your sales and marketing avenues - most notably in-person retail with online content -- for one, seamless customer journey.
These hand-offs between brick-and-mortar shopping and online content have becoming increasingly vital because “82 percent of all shoppers check their phones while in store before making a purchase.”

For instance, C&A, a large fashion retailer in Brazil, is one brick-and-mortar store that has identified the benefits of connecting offline and online initiatives. Understanding the need for social validation before purchasing offline, the retailer added hangers with clothes items that shoppers could “Like” in real time.
The result? One-thousand new fans every hour. Some of the collection was sold out in a day, and more than 1,700 blog posts were created from this initiative.
Image Credit: SmartInsights
If creating interactive hangers sounds complicated, there are two simple solutions that meet customers where they are.
First, adding QR codes to your in-store products that link directly to customer-review pages - like Best Buy does --anticipates retail shoppers demand for social proof prior to making a purchase.
Image Credit: SmartInsights
Second, you can also take digital advantage of your physical displays by “featuring consumer-generated content on screens throughout their stores.” This is exactly what won Caleba’s, an outdoor sports retailer, Digiday’s Retail Award for “Best In-Store Digital Retail Experience.”

In addition, as CIO reports, retailers can also “promote content sharing within stores by displaying [brand-related] hashtags on signage and on monitors and kiosks and encouraging customers to share content right then.”
As hard as it might be to accept, you are not your own best salesperson. Your customers are. Knowing this means prioritizing UGC at two strategic levels: social media and omni-channel marketing.
Brands that focus their efforts not on selling themselves but on encouraging their customers to sell them can achieve what traditional marketing methods fail at: building trust, earning credibility and selling more.

Monday, July 11, 2016

10 Things Your LinkedIn Profile Should Reveal in 10 Seconds

Some people call LinkedIn the Facebook of the working world. While the platform definitely draws comparisons, employers don’t search it to be updated on your latest party or to play Candy Crush. They want to learn more about you and your professional experience.
Once an employer reaches your profile, they’ll want to know some things right away. Your profile should answer these ten questions quickly in order to satisfy employers who don’t have a lot of free time to spare.

What’s your current position?

First, employers need to know what you do. They need to know how you make your living. Make this clear right at the top of your profile, where you can fill in a professional headline. This will catch potential employers’ eyes right away.

Which job titles suit you?

Chances are strong you’re not a one-trick pony. Your areas of expertise stretch beyond your college major or your current workplace. You may be a software developer who also handles the public relations sector of your business. You could be a lawyer who owns a construction business.
When you meet someone new, you talk about your careers. What would you say to this new person? That’s the job title that suits you. If all else fails, you can list a few titles that would fit you perfectly in your summary.

What makes you credible?

There’s one major place employers look to when wondering how credible you are: your work experience. Fill it out to the best of your ability. List where you’ve worked, cite what titles you held and provide a cohesive list of your responsibilities.
One new trend for this section is to quantify your responsibilities. Don’t just say “wrote code” or “sold houses.” Enhance your credibility by showing off the numbers: For example, perhaps you “wrote X lines of code for Y amount of apps” or “sold X houses in quarter Y.” These numeric values will instantly stand out from the rest of your profile.
Another place where employers look for credibility is your recommendations -- we’ll have more on that later.

How well do you write?

One thing that will be obvious to employers right away is your writing ability. In order to succeed in this world, excellent writing skills are paramount.
The use of noticeable spelling mistakes, run-on sentences, SMS language and slang will all result an instant “no.” You’ll never hear from your dream job if your profile is written poorly.

What’s your personal brand?

Job hunting is all about marketing yourself. Think of the commercials you see on TV -- they make products seem appealing and flawless.

Personal branding is like a commercial for you, and like most commercials, a branding statement is usually the driving factor. In this statement, you need to indicate what separates you from the rest. Create a tagline that is targeted towards your ideal employer.
Other things that can help you market yourself are logos and stylistic continuity.

Do you know your field?

Brag all you want about your skills, but employers will know when you’re absolutely clueless. It will show in your work.
Companies and organizations want someone who is both comfortable and confident enough in their field to talk about it clearly and concisely on their profile. Your target employer should know exactly what you’re talking about. Nothing should be ambiguous!
Here’s a good example. His profile clearly conveys his role as the president of his own real estate agency and shows what he did to work his way up to that position. His posts about the latest industry news develop him as a thought-leader in the field -- something that’s critical if you want to catch the eyes of a recruiter.
Demonstrate your knowledge of the industry in the posts you share, the updates you make, the companies you follow and the media you add.

What’s your greatest professional accomplishment?

You started your own business. You won an award for best employee. You helped navigate a company through a rough year. Whatever it is, you accomplished something big, and it made you feel on top of the world. Why not let a potential employer share a little of that awesome feeling?
When you make your greatest professional accomplishment clear, it sends a message to employers that you’re successful and you can work through adversity to achieve greatness. That sounds like a model employee.

How experienced are you with certain tools?

So you’re a graphic designer: Great! The employer scrolls down the page to see what programs you know ... and doesn’t find anything. There’s no proof that you’re a Photoshop wiz. Discouraged, the employer moves on to the next candidate’s profile, hoping for better results.
Your profile should include every tool, every program and every system you know. It only improves your chances.
Even if you only know something at a basic level, include it. Be sure to include metrics for each skill -- novice, intermediate and advanced are easy labels to start with.

What do others have to say about you?

Employers will eat up recommendations and quotes from former bosses, coworkers and even friends. They can’t ask outright about you unless they want to hire you, so the second best thing is seeing other people’s opinions.

If you don’t have any recommendations, asking around is easy. Go to people you trust, especially in your professional setting, and ask what they value most about you. Ask what you bring to the table on a daily basis. Ask what makes you stand out from the rest. They’ll be happy to let you know.

What do you care about most?

Believe it or not, LinkedIn is an emotional investment. You have to convey your passions through words and pictures to someone who has never met you before.
It’s definitely hard and time-consuming to make your profile appealing. As a hardworking professional, writing about your career may flow more easily as you work your way through your profile. If you care about your work in real life, chances are it will show on LinkedIn.

Friday, July 8, 2016

How to Live-Stream Like a Pro on Facebook Live

Right now, the vast majority of Facebook users streaming live video content are using Facebook's Live app. And while the quality of the video content created in Live looks acceptable when displayed on a mobile device or in a small desktop window, it’s hardly broadcast quality (as we saw last week when protesting members of Congress switched to live streaming after C-Span’s high quality cameras were turned off).
But let’s say you’re working for an agency, or an educational institution, a ball team, a software company, or a news organization. Chances are that you’d like to create a better, higher quality video impression on Facebook than what's possible via a basic mobile phone or desktop webcam. To do this means using a professional camera, and may also entail a pro audio set up as well (for example, to livecast a panel discussion, you’ll need multiple microphones and a mixer).
Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy to plug the output of your pro-level video and equipment into Facebook, making it viewable by Facebook’s huge audience.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Go to your Facebook Business Page and click “Publishing Tools” on the top horizontal nav bar.

Step 2: Once in the Publishing Tools area, click “Video” in the left-hand panel:

Step 3: Once you’re in the “Videos/Video Library” area, click the “ Live” button at the top-right corner:

A "Create Live Video" window will open. This window has important data – dynamically created – that you’ll need to paste into the Settings area of your streaming software. If your software supports Single Field streams, simply paste the data in the top field (Server or Stream URL) into your Settings area; if it supports Separate Fields, paste both the Server URL and the Stream Key data.

Step 4: Activate your streaming software and click “Preview.”
If everything's working correctly, you’ll see a preview of your live stream within the display rectangle within the Preview window (in this case there’s nothing displayed because I've not connected any pro-level video or audio gear). If you have a problem it might be an issue with your encoding software - make sure that its output is compatible with Facebook Live Video: Facebook requires that 3rd party encoding software supports the rtmp or rtmps live streaming video format. Add a Title and any relevant Video tags to identify your stream.

Step 5: Click “Go Live” and start streaming your high-quality video feed through Facebook.

Wait a minute - is it really this easy?

While Facebook has made interfacing your own streaming software with its distribution network as easy as it could, it’s possible – even likely — that you’ll encounter problems when first attempting to make the connection. Live-streaming, while easier than ever, is still a bit of an unpredictable medium and glitches are common. In fact, Facebook itself suffered a massive failure when it attempted to live-stream an interview with President Obama back in May.  But it’s more likely that there’s some incompatibility on your end that’s holding things up.
First off, your streaming software must output to rtmp or rtmps, which is a standard output format for popular streaming software, including live-stream, OBS, Wirecast, Xsplit and ffmpeg. Double check that your software supports this.
Furthermore, you’ll have to make sure that the stream you’re outputting to Facebook is in the right format. Facebook requires that any 3rd party streams sent to it be:
  • 720 x 1280 aspect ratio, 30 FPS, with 1 key frame sent every 2 seconds.
  • Maximum bit rate of 2,500 Kbps
  • Titles less than 250 characters
  • Video stream must be H264 encoded video and AAC encoded audio only
If you have a live event scheduled, make sure you thoroughly troubleshoot everything well ahead of time. Still, because Facebook Live is such a new medium (last time I checked the Facebook Live Video map, only 11 people were live-streaming from California – which has a population of 38 million people), there’s a lot of first mover advantage potential for marketers who get out in front of the curve with high-quality live feeds, so it’s something worth doing if you have the resources – internally or via your agency.
So go forth and live-stream in a way that sets you apart from the low-fidelity crowd

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A Realistic Digital Detox in 5 Easy Steps

 A Realistic Digital Detox in 5 Easy Steps

We all know someone who seems glued to his or her smartphone, constantly checking email, taking calls during meals and even sleeping with it bedside. In 2007, Levi Felix was that guy. As vice president and creative director for a Los Angeles tech startup, Felix worked 60-hour weeks and was available for business calls at all hours. He kept up the pace for two years until he burned out – literally.
"I wound up in the hospital with internal bleeding," he says. "I thought it was food poisoning, but it was my body telling me to slow down."
Felix shifted priorities -- he decided to backpack around the world with his girlfriend for over two years. Over the course of his trip, his health and demeanor changed, but when he returned to the United States in 2012, he saw the pace of life had gotten worse.
"Everywhere I went I saw people looking at their screens," he says. "On the subway and in restaurants -- no one was talking to each other anymore. I felt in my gut that this was wrong, and I wanted to do something about it."
So he launched The Digital Detox, an Oakland, Calif.-based company that leads tech-free personal wellness retreats and summer camps. In addition to mandatory unplugging for a few days, the program provides tools and resources to help people slow down and be more present in their lives.
"Technology can be disrupting your life if you feel a need to check it compulsively," says Felix. "The first step is to become aware, and the next step is to do something."

He offers these five things you can do to take your own digital detox:

1. Pre-broadcast your detox.
The fear of missing something important leads many people to impulsively check their phones and email accounts several times a day. Instead, let other people know through social media, email, phone or an in-person conversation that you will be offline and unavailable even if it's for a few hours. You can give an alternative form of communication in case of an emergency.
"This will keep your nerves at ease and ease your temptation to find an excuse to jump online," says Felix.

2. Buy an alarm clock.
Many people use an alarm app to wake up in the morning, but having your smartphone by your bed can create an urge to check your messages first thing in the morning. Instead, Felix suggests making coffee or tea, and starting the day on your terms before getting wrapped up in email, Facebook, memes, the news or other forms of digital communication.

3. Go device-free at meals.
More than a third of employees eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis, according to a survey by talent management company Right Management. But Felix says meals should be a trigger for unplugging.
"Set meal times as an opportunity to connect with your food, the people around you and yourself," he says.

4. Disable all push notifications.
Alerts from Facebook, Twitter and email interrupt your day and your thought process. Instead, Felix suggests that you choose the time to check your messages and be intentional about it.
"Don't let the beeps and buzzes of the online world pull you from the moment that you are currently enjoying," says Felix. "Unless you are responsible for saving lives, you really don't need to be on-call."

5. Welcome quiet time.
With the world at your fingertips, boredom can be a thing of the past. But Felix says unoccupied moments can be magical, and when a lull leads to an urge to check your email or Facebook, resist it.
"It's in those moments, when we have no intention or expectation, that we sometimes have an amazing realization or thought, and even remember something we had forgotten," he says. "Don't fight being bored -- sit with it and see where it takes you."

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

6 New Social Media Marketing Tools the Experts Use. You Should, Too


Social media is transforming the way brands market themselves online. Actually, it’s safe to say that social media has already changed things in a big way.

New platforms have emerged that continue to transform the way we communicate. These changes affect both how brands promote their message, and how their fans respond.
With these new platforms comes a handful of new tools to help social media marketers engage with audiences in creative ways, and to keep track of their efforts. To keep pace with the latest social media trends, it’s time to review and update that tool set, recognizing which tools we should keep, which we should discard and which new tools we can add to supercharge our social media efforts.
Here’s my shortlist of the top social media tools that every marketer should be using in 2016.

1. Buffer

With its clean interface and simple analytics features, Buffer just barely edges out Hootsuite as my favorite social media scheduling tool. You can share content across multiple accounts and networks, all from one central dashboard.
A Chrome extension makes it even easier to share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and even LinkedIn simultaneously. Buffer has some epic social media guides and case studies on its blog, which is a great place to start if you’re new to social media marketing.

2. Social Clout

It’s all well and good to share content and get likes. In fact, it can be quite addicting. But to really understand which posts get the most engagement, we need to look past vanity metrics and focus on the metrics that matter.
Enter Social Clout, a social media analytics tool designed specifically to track engagement and calculate social media ROI. Social Clout shows you which demographics have the best engagement and which platforms convert the best, and at what times.

3. Feedly

Put your content ideation on autopilot, with Feedly. To set it up, just add the RSS feeds of your favorite blogs and writers and Feedly will create a daily “magazine” with all its content, organized by topic.
Moreover, Feedly is a great way to know what niche influencers are talking about, to join the conversation and to stay up to date with the latest industry trends. Staying up to date with the latest current events helps guide your own content strategy and social media posting schedule.
What’s great about the app is that it integrates with scheduling tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, so you can share and schedule posts from directly within the dashboard. In my own work, Feedly saves me hours of time and energy combing through social media posts to find good content.

4. Canva

Here’s a thing most people don’t know about me: I’m terrible at graphic design. (Blog design is another story.)
This is especially true when it comes to choosing and editing photos for my blogs. Luckily, there’s a tool that’s built specifically for non-designers: Canva.
Canva is my favorite tool for creating stunning images for social media posts. Creating images is so easy even a bean-counting marketer could do it. Using Canva’s multiple templates, fonts and colors, all you need to do is drag image elements around and drop them into place.
Canva is free to use, but don’t let that fool you. Despite its affordability, major sites like Buzzfeed use Canva to create images for their posts (which, last I checked, drive nearly half a billion visits each month).

5. Socedo

Social media campaigns have countless moving pieces, all of which need to work together if the campaigns are to be successful. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an established social media manager, there’s never enough time in the day to manage it all while still you're looking for customers.
Socedo is a B2B demand generation tool that does most of the grunt work, so you don’t have to. It works by automating lead generation, and finding and acquiring targeted leads through different social media channels. That way, you can focus on increasing ROI (sales and revenue) without getting bogged down in minutiae and repetitive tasks.
Using a combination of keywords and demographic criteria, Socedo finds and engages prospects across major social networks. Whereas most demand-gen platforms focus on email, Socedo is one of the few that handles outbound prospecting via social.

6. Edgar

Ever notice how influencers like Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk and Richard Branson repeatedly share their old content?
While that practice may appear redundant or irksome, the fact is that old posts have high engagement when shared. It’s just plain smart.
First, social media accounts gain and lose followers with time. Re-sharing content is an excellent way to showcase your top stuff to new followers. Second, even the most loyal fans won’t be online all the time. Regular sharing is a way to engage with audiences at different times throughout the day
That said, it’s not always easy to know the best social media schedule for new and old content. Edgar knows, and shares your content at the times when it’s most likely to engage your audience. The tool categorizes all of your content by topic and target demographic, determining which posts get the highest engagement with which followers.
Edgar doesn’t stop there. After posting an update, the tool recycles the post back to the bottom of your queue, so it will post again later once the rest of your content has been shared. The result is an endless supply of social media posts that shares and reshares itself continuously, without you having to lift a finger.


In 2016, social media marketers can choose from thousands of tools to help streamline their social media campaigns. However, it’s important not to get bogged down with decision anxiety, giving in to the feeling that you need to learn everything all at once.

These six social media tools handle the 80/20 of social media marketing, adding sizzle and power for everyone from the bootstrapped freelancer to the full-scale social media agency. Are you ready to try them?

Monday, July 4, 2016

This Old Man Gave Some Surprisingly Good Advice On Using Social Media

Ayatollah Khamenei’s words of wisdom will be especially easy to put into practice for the millions of Iranians blocked from Facebook and Twitter. 

Hey there, millennials. Feeling ~stressed~ about your social media accounts? Overwhelmed by your Instagram? Desperate for the fleeting feeling of acceptance that comes with a fav?

Hey there, millennials. Feeling ~stressed~ about your social media accounts? Overwhelmed by your Instagram? Desperate for the fleeting feeling of acceptance that comes with a fav?
Antonioguillem / Getty Images

Well, have no fear! Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, is here to soothe your furrowed brow.

Well, have no fear! Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, is here to soothe your furrowed brow.

Atta Kenare / AFP / Getty Images

You laugh! But just listen to this nugget of wisdom from the septuagenarian: “The number of ‘likes’ on social media doesn’t determine the true value of a piece of work.”

Khamenei dropped this pearl of knowledge into our laps while talking about poetry and how what really matters is how other poets and critics see the work, not how popular it is.

He also speaks from experience, sort of. Nobody knows who runs the @khameni_ir account on Twitter but it’s pretty good at the game, using slick graphics to viral effect.

It’ll be especially easy for Khamenei’s subjects to follow his advice, when you consider the fact that both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in the country.

It'll be especially easy for Khamenei's subjects to follow his advice, when you consider the fact that both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in the country.

Raheb Homavandi / Reuters

(A lot of Iranians have filter breakers and VPNs installed to access these these sites, but it’s also a really annoying set of steps to have to go through when you just want to post a picture of your dinner.)

And with a recent crackdown on women using Instagram — which Iran’s government thinks may or may not be a Kim Kardashian–supported plot against it — Khamenei’s urging to free yourself from the tyranny of likes is all the more timely.

And with a recent crackdown on women using Instagram — which Iran's government thinks may or may not be a Kim Kardashian–supported plot against it — Khamenei's urging to free yourself from the tyranny of likes is all the more timely.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How to Become an Instagram Millionaire

Many of us have fantasies of becoming a millionaire by way of Instagram. Why can’t we be like the Rich Kids of Instagram or Instagram guru Liz Eswein  -- who was able to start her own social media management firm following the success of her account?
Of the hundreds of millions of Instagram users, it can’t be that hard to match your income to your lavish-lifestyle instaphotos look, right?
Turns out, figuring out the minefield that is social media and determining how to make your account a gold mine isn’t as easy as it sounds. Luckily, Dorry Levine, a digital-media strategist from ReThink Media and Nick (who tells us he prefers not to diclose his last name), creator of the popular @MillionaireLifestyle Instagram account, provides a few tips to grow your account into a money maker.

1. Look and act the part

It starts with the million-dollar photo, Levine says. It should be a clear, high quality and attractive with an image that’s identifiable. Olympic runner Usain Bolt’s Instagram is the perfect example of this -- taking ownership of his brand and profession as an athlete and competitor.
“Pixelated pictures aren't a good look,” she cautions. “Show that you've given some thought and attention to this.”
A similar effort should be put into the username, which should match the message you’d like to convey. Make sure you know the purpose for your account. Is it professional? Personal? It’s most likely best to simply use a variation of your name, she says. But if it’s personal, it’s okay to have a bit more fun with it.
Just like a cover letter, your bio should help to clearly describe or provide an explanation for your perspective and what’s unique about you or your account.
“Don't write anything in any of your bios that you would not want to be publicly associated with you, regardless of your privacy settings,” cautions Levine.
In writing a bio, Nick says it facilitates figuring out why you want followers in the first place.
“Come up with a strategy,” he says. “You don’t want followers just for the sake of having followers.”

2. Make it interesting

Images you post on your account should be just as clear as your profile image, meaning high quality and unpixelated. These platforms, Levine says, emphasize strong visuals, like videos and pics.
Most importantly, Levine points out that you should know why your account matters. What does it add to the conversation?
“Why would someone care to read what you post?” she says. “Add your perspective and insight, so you aren't one of the masses just posting the headline of an article you read.”
Take @waverider_ -- with 1.7 million followers, he found his niche by consistently posting his own unique content by mimicking the top celebs, such as singer Ariana Grande.

3. Be consistent

Levine says that "the frequency and regularity with which you post is correlated with the number of followers you have.” Posting regularly and often (daily or several times a week) enables followers to stay in regular communication with you while you offer your unique take on whatever topic you’re covering.
For instance, Puff Daddy -- also known as the rapper P. Diddy -- posts consistently and on message (for his rapper brand, at least) and has 6.6 million followers. If you’re on the more serious end of business, take a look at entrepreneur Tim Sykes’ instagram, also regularly active; he has over 700,000 followers.
Doing the opposite -- not posting regularly and having bursts of content -- will most likely cost you some followers. (Looking at you, Kanye).
“Nobody wants to be suddenly inundated by a haphazard sharer,” Levine says.

4. Stay focused

If you have multiple social media accounts linked each other so you can post automatically from one or the other, stop that practice.
Levine warns that there’s been many unfortunate mistakes and mishaps from doing this, so while it may save time, it’s much better to offer your own narrative and curate content fitting to each platform.
It's also pretty apparent that you’re automatically posting through linking because each platform is vastly different with varying styles and conversations or purposes. By posting directly, it looks better on the account and encourages followers.
“Cross-promoting content looks lazy, antisocial and ignores the conventions and social norms of each platform's users,” she declares.

5. Be social

Don’t just push out content like a machine. Create content and talk about yourself. Be conversational!
Engage your followers the way movie star Dwayne Johnson -- aka "The Rock" -- posts inspirational videos and photos for fans on his Instagram account. He has over 55 million followers.
“It's called social media for a reason,” Levine says. “Ask questions. Comment. Reply. Favorite. Like.”
By actually conversing with your followers, you encourage them to come back, to keep following and even share material from your account.
Nick suggests giveaways or contests online as beneficial ways to interact.
“It’s incredibly important to engage,” he says. “By commenting and reaching out, users are showing interest in you.”

6. Be yourself

Nothing is better than being your true self on social media. By embracing her voice and life in the big city, Liz Eswein, creator and curator of the @newyorkcity account, was able to become a millionaire and start her own media management business. 
Nick’s account @Millionaire Lifestyle got started, for example, because of his passion for cars which eventually transformed into an opportunity to showcase the millionaire lifestyle itself. Though he, himself, is not a millionaire, the Instagram guru is getting there -- and has experienced luxurious adventures of millionaires because of his ability to tune in and capture the lifestyle -- like when he posted an Uber helicopter ride in Dubai.
Levine says most users online are able to tell pretty easily if you’re not being authentic (like certain emoji-happy politicians).
“Authenticity is huge,” she says. “Post in a way that's conversational. Add your perspective. Share the value you add to a conversation. And have fun.”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

3 Steps to That Unplugged, Peace-of-Mind Vacation People Talk About

3 Steps to That Unplugged, Peace-of-Mind Vacation People Talk About

It is officially summertime. The good news is that vacation season is upon us. The bad news is it can be really hard to fully disconnect and engage in a true vacation these days. One tap on a mobile phone and you’re checking email. A click of a button and notifications alert us with an update from one of many social media platforms. Truth is, it can be hard to be fully present in anything these days, especially vacation. Sure you can go away physically, but what about the mental and emotional parts of you? The fear of returning from a vacation behind on your work and having to spend nights and weekends catching up can make a sunny day seem a little gloomier.

Vacation is important. Rest and relaxation is good for the soul, and even positively affect your productivity. Taking time to disconnect from “it all” and reconnect to yourself, your hobbies, your dreams can be very beneficial and rejuvenating.
"Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential for wisdom." -- Arianna Huffington
Spending uninterrupted time with family, out in nature or simply by yourself has the potential to re-inspire you. Vacation gives you the opportunity to reflect on why you’re working so hard and for such long hours. Maybe so you can provide for your family or to be the best you can be. Your hopes and dreams are the foundation of those reasons, so it is important to take care of you during your time away from the office.
“I didn’t want to be alone. I just wanted to be free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves digitally” says Baratunde Thurston in his article #Unplug: Baratunde Thurston Left The Internet For 25 Days, And You Should, Too. If you have a vacation planned soon and you’re about to take time away from work, here are three things to consider before heading out that will help you enjoy your time away unplugged and with the peace of mind you desire, just as intended.

1. Before you leave.

Discuss your MITs (Most Important Things) that need to be done before you leave. Clarifying what absolutely needs to be done before you leave for vacation will make it easier to leave. Write your priorities down and mark them off as you complete them, this way you are visually watching your to-do list shrink while your confidence in leaving is growing as your mind is becoming clearer and freed from the impending list of things to do. Take care of the essentials so you don’t have to give any mind to them while you are away.

Bonus tip: Ask for help. Consider implementing a morning “stand-up” meeting with some of your coworkers the three to five days before you leave. Each morning, identify the one priority you have for that day, and ask for any help they may be able to give you. You want to complete as much as possible before you leave the office.

2. While you're on vacation.

Agree on your MITs (Most Important Things) for the time you’re on vacation. Be willing to define what is most important during your vacation. It may be one simple thing or it may be a few things. Regardless, keep them at the forefront of your mind. Write them down if you need to. Put them on a sticky note to stick on your mirror while you are gone as a daily reminder of what is truly important to you while you are away. If you need to check into work at least once, give yourself the grace to check in. Not all vacations are the relaxing and peaceful kind, but find time in each day to refresh your mind with what is most important to you during your time away.

3. Catch up days.

Schedule two afternoon “catch-up days” for the week after you return. After being away for an extended period of time, it can be very overwhelming to get back into the swing of things at work. Feeling buried under papers or drowning in emails, it can seem hopeless and stressful coming back. To avoid feeling like you will never recover, schedule a at least two afternoons that you can dedicate to catching up. As Muhammad Ali said,It isn't the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it's the pebble in your shoe.” Make the time to get the pebbles out of your shoes by getting caught up on what you missed so you will be ready and available to stay on top of what is current and in need of your attention now.
By taking the time to consider these three things before you leave for vacation you will not only have a peace of mind while you’re away from the office, but you will fully be able to engage in your time away. Prepare for your vacation at work, just as much as you prepare for vacation at home. Make the list and tackle your to-do’s one at a time. Vacation you will thank you.

5 Up-and-Coming Social Media Tools You Should Know About

 5 Up-and-Coming Social Media Tools You Should Know About

Social media marketing is still a new business tool, relatively speaking. There’s no magic formula for success, and the potential benefits of your efforts are broad and not entirely predictable.
That promise is appealing, especially to young entrepreneurs, but results don’t come automatically -- even if you have a solid strategic foundation for your campaign. In fact, it requires a tremendous amount of planning, effort and refinement before you start to see results. And in most cases, the tools and features offered by social media platforms straightaway aren’t typically enough to give you the edge you need.
Social media operates in a hyper-competitive arena, and if you want to stay alive, you’re going to have to use the newest tools to support your efforts.

The key measure of success in social media, as in most other forms of marketing, is your overall return on investment (ROI). When most people think about ROI, they focus on the return they’re getting, and how to improve it.
Some tools will help you do this by providing more data you can use to target your demographics more accurately or allowing you to reach wider audiences than you have up to this point. However, most tools are directed at the other side of the equation -- the investment side.
They help you work more efficiently, to reduce the amount of time and money you expend in managing a campaign, and increase the power of everything you create or direct. In theory, at least, this should boost the potential of every dollar or hour you put in.

With those goals in mind, we want to show you five incredibly powerful up-and-coming social media tools you should be using to enhance your campaign:

1. Notifier.

One of the biggest trends in social media marketing right now is influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the art of engaging with prominent authorities to earn more visibility for your posts and brand. Notifier is a tool that helps automate and improve your influencer relationships. By plugging in your content, it will automatically search it for references you’ve made to other brands, and pull up their social information so you can notify them that you’ve cited them. This gives you an “in” for engaging with new influencers, streamlining your influencer marketing campaign.

2. Real Geeks’ Facebook Marketing Tool.

If you’ve ever been intimidated or frustrated by the process of Facebook advertising, but are convinced of the potential value there, Real Geeks’ Facebook marketing tool is perfect for you. Designed for realtors, the tool connects your Facebook ad campaign directly to your website. From there, it automatically pulls data (such as home listings, images, etc.) and generates the type of ads that tend to generate the best results. You’ll be able to monitor and adjust these ads before they go out, and create your own if you so desire. The tool also provides detailed, easy-to-follow reporting, so you can track your progress accurately.

3. SocialOomph.

SocialOomph doesn’t have a particularly fancy user experience layer, but its functionality is powerful. With this, you’ll be able to connect all your social media profiles into one area, schedule posts in advance, and even “bulk upload” updates to have them roll out periodically over a preset schedule. It’s fantastic if you’re in the business of content syndication (as you should be), and it offers a number of audience insight tools as well.

4. Sprout Social.

Sprout Social is similar to Hootsuite in concept, but offers more robust functionality. You can connect to almost every major social media platform, schedule posts, monitor progress in terms of likes, engagements, and user activity, and easily see how your content performs over time. Sprout Social also furnishes social listening functionality, which allows you to perform better content topic research and market research by plugging into your key users’ social media conversations. Perhaps best of all, Sprout Social was designed with teams in mind, so you can establish different user roles and delegate tasks here too.

5. Crate.

Crate is a relatively new content curation tool designed to help you find the best-performing content on the web. Plug in the types of content and social media feeds you want to see more of, and Crate will generate a list of the topics that have performed best on social media. You can use this list to fuel your own social sharing strategy, or use it as inspiration to write better content for your blog. Either way, it’s incredibly useful.
Before you go out and start using these tools indiscriminately, let’s leave you with a pertinent cautionary note about automation in a marketing campaign. Automation can be incredibly valuable; it can give you more objective insights and save both time and money.

However, if you rely too much on automation, your campaign could suffer. Here’s how:
  • You could develop a false sense of security and assume your campaign will go perfectly, and end up overlooking vital signs of weakness.
  • Your creative muscles could atrophy, and give you less innovative material to work with.
  • Your campaign could become stagnant and repetitive, which risks alienating your audience.
  • You could lose touch with the key demographics your business needs to survive.
  • Your biases could misinterpret the data provided to you, thanks to confirmation bias.
You don’t need to worry actively about these weaknesses or forgo automation tools because of such concerns. You merely need to acknowledge them, and keep them in mind when you choose to employ such tools to complement and build your campaign. It’s all about achieving a proper balance.

Monday, June 27, 2016

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.
It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and -- perhaps most importantly -- your bottom line.
1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.
2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.
3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.
4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.
5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.
This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.
6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.
If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.
7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.
8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.
9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.
10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Is social media making people depressed?


Anyone who regularly uses social media will have had the experience of feeling envious of the fun their friends all seem to be having. This might especially be the case if you’re are sitting at home on a cold wet evening, feeling bored while everyone else is partying or having a glamorous holidays in the sun.
But is it possible that these feelings could be the start of something worse? Could using social media actually make you depressed? A recent US-based study, sponsored by the National Institute for Mental Health, identified a “strong and significant association between social media use and depression in a … sample of US young adults”. The study found that levels of depression increased with total amount of time spent using social media and number of visits to social media sites per week.
Previous studies have painted a more mixed picture. It would seem that the relationship between social media and depression and well-being is complex and likely to be influenced by a number of factors.
At its best, social media allows us to connect and keep up with friends and people we don’t see very often. It allows us to have short interactions with them that keep the relationships going when we don’t have much free time. At its worst, social media can, it seems, feed into feelings of inadequacy.
There are likely to be many complex reasons why social media use might be associated with depression. For instance, it is possible that people who are already depressed might be more inclined to rely on social media instead of face-to-face interactions, so greater social media use may be a symptom rather than a cause of depression.

An unsatisfactory fix

We all have a basic need to be liked and accepted by others and social media can play into this vulnerability. “Likes” are the currency of social media, and people who have low self-esteem may place great value on seeking validation from their social media use by trying to attract likes to their comments as a way of increasing their self-esteem. In this way, social media can be a bit of a popularity contest. Of course, “winning” the popularity contest by garnering the most likes is only a short-term boost to morale. It’s a precarious way to boost self-esteem.
How everyone looks on social media.
It is human nature to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes comparison can be a way to inspire ourselves to improve in some way, but, more often than not – especially when someone is feeling down or is prone to depression – the comparisons become negative, and erode self-esteem. One problem with social media is that the image people portray of themselves tends to be positive, interesting and exciting. Let’s face it, most of us would rather post a photograph of ourselves looking great on a night out than one where we are in our pyjamas, washing the dishes. If someone is feeling down or dissatisfied with their life then, instead of being a bit of a distraction, social media use can give the impression that everyone else is having way more fun than we are.

Not all bad

Many parents have misgivings about their children’s use of social media and more than one parent has had to console a tearful teenager, distraught over an online argument. Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay and, for many young people, opting out of social media would mean losing access to their network of friends. For them, it is not a viable option.
At the moment, we don’t know enough about how the way that social media is used and its impact on mood and longer-term mental health. Until we do, perhaps the best option is to recognise that social media can be a valuable tool to keep in touch with friends and that our interactions on social media should not overly influence our self-esteem. It might also be worth remembering that, although everyone else might seem to be having a great time, newsfeeds are more biased towards showing all the fun, interesting things that people are doing. So they are just curating the best bits of their life – not necessarily having a better time than you are.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How to Keep Your Social Media Images Looking Fresh

How to Keep Your Social Media Images Looking Fresh

Consistently posting high-quality content is the lifeblood of a great social media strategy. But it’s easier said than done.
Not only do you have to post consistently to gain traction, the content has be to timely, relevant to your audience, and engaging. Social media is for conversations after all, not megaphones.
Whether it’s a plane in the Hudson River or a crying boy hugging a police officer, social images are unique in their ability to communicate so much information in just a snapshot of time.
And social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest have built-in features to make it incredibly easy for users to share great images and spread them across their entire network.
In this blog post I am going to cover several strategies to keep your social media images fresh as well as 10 types of images you should try out.

Balance consistency vs. content fatigue

Why is ‘fresh’ content so important? Two words: content fatigue.
If you just share the same images over and over, your followers will tune you out. In advertising this is known as ad fatigue. Essentially, what this means is, when consumers are shown ads too many times and start to ignore them, making click-through rates fall and lowering the ROI.
The same is true for your social channels. Without fresh content, your engagement rates will fall and your fans will start to pay attention to less and less of your content, or every marketer’s worst nightmare: they ignore you.
The trick is to find a balance between consistency and fatigue. And there is no perfect answer for everyone.
Every audience is different. Some brands can get away with posting six Instagram photos a day and still have high engagement while others will see their engagement drop off after only two posts. At Buffer we’ve found that we can post 13 times to Twitter per day and three times to Facebook without seeing any significant drop off.
Make sure to periodically do some experimentation with the quantity of images you post each day, the results might just surprise you.

Develop a style guide for your social photos

Having a unique style is essential to a great brand and the same goes for your social media strategy. Consistently using the same Instagram filters, typefaces, colors, or visual cues can help viewers instantly recognize your content.
Everyday Carry is a great example of an Instagram account that has found a style of photos (knolling) that works for their brand. If you see a top-down photo with a phone, pen, & wallet in your feed, there’s a pretty good chance that it is by Everyday Carry.

The attention-grabbing copy with a consistent typeface and highlighted players with the black and white background make for an impressive image. There is also minimal copy in the Tweets, letting the images speak for themselves.
Creating a style guide for your social accounts can be massively beneficial when you have multiple team members with content creation duties. Every member of your social team should know the ins-and-outs of your style guide so there is no loss of quality when someone steps in.

Read more  How to Keep Your Social Media Images Looking Fresh