Monthly Archives: July 2015

Instagram Best Practices

Instagram is a unique platform for sharing and engaging with your followers. It requires great visuals, either photos or videos, and finding the right voice, as well as the right value to your brand, can be difficult for many people.

You’re not going to drive site traffic, or see results from Instagram with a click-tracking campaign. But it’s extremely valuable for interacting with your followers and fans, and it’s very powerful as a visual branding tool.

As with other social platforms, stay away from images that look like ads, unless there’s a specific reason to use it that you know will work. People want to see and understand more about you as a person or brand here, so show some love to your followers with exclusive information, behind the scenes videos, or images that show your appreciation of them as your supporters.

Insider Tip: If you’ve used Instagram very long, you’ve likely seen someone oversaturate a post with hashtags. Avoid the temptation to do that. Use 3-5 relevant hashtags in your photo. However, if you really have a purpose in using more hashtags, because you have specific streams you want your content in, put the rest of the hashtags in as a comment. Your photo post won’t look overloaded, and you’ll still get your visibility in the other hashtag streams.
Instagram videos can be as simple as a behind the scenes sneak peak at an event, a hyperlapse video of a run through your store aisles, or funny and clever entertaining clips. Whatever you use, be sure to mix in video in your stream. It’s easy to fall into thinking you need a perfectly produced professional video like big brands – but don’t overthink it. Just get something up there for your followers to enjoy.

The largest brands on Instagram post an average of 23 times per month. So post regularly to stay top of mind for your followers. Instagram can feel more intimidating than dealing with text posts on Facebook or Twitter, but it doesn’t have to be. Have fun with it, and show personality, and your audience will respond.

Download the PDF here

Social Media Best Practices on Instagram

Infographic by Grayce Holcomb

Why Do Odd Articles Generate Great Traffic?

Written by Andrew Eaton

Bloggers using odd articles to generate traffic is becoming increasingly popular. From strange recipes to unusual DIY projects, it seems the stranger the better as far as website traffic is concerned. Odd articles generate wonderful streams of traffic because they intrigue the reader, and they provide excellent visual content.

We’ve all done it: we have seen something strange and clicked on an article to see how it was done or how the finished project turned out. We have wondered “how did they do that?” or “what is that made of?” The blogger’s imagination is the only limit to an odd article. The key is to intrigue the readers and give them an amazing visual display.

If you’ve browsed Pinterest lately, you know exactly what we’re talking about. That funky shaped birthday cake with 14 different colors and sparklers protruding from the top or that unusual, yet amazingly gorgeous coffee table made from nothing but old wine crates. These are the types of unusual things that can drive excellent blog traffic.

Why do odd blog articles generate great streams of traffic? The answer is quite simple, either no one else is writing about the topic, or you’ve managed to captivate the reader and create an addictive article with stellar imagery.

Low Competition

If you’re writing about an unusual topic that not many others are writing about, you’ll notice while doing your keyword research that there is a low competition rate. Having low competition is a signal that you’re about to embark on a journey to write an odd article. Something not many others are interested in writing about.

Because the content is unusual, the search competition is low. This also means that there is a likelihood that there are less people searching for the content in your article. In turn, with less people searching for your odd article topic, it’s important to do proper keyword research to maximize your article’s potential.

With low competition, proper keyword research and on page SEO techniques, it’s easy to rank high in search results for your odd articles, thus producing a steady stream of traffic.

Amazing Imagery

When articles are loaded with stellar images, they’re more likely to be shared over social media. Great images telling an odd story often produce great results. Have you seen a cool picture of something on social media and just had to click on the link to find out more? We all have, and that’s what makes social media so wonderful for producing blog traffic. We can quickly jump from our social norms to a blog article which intrigues us.

I’m sure you’ve even shared a picture of a coffee table made from wine crates, or at least know someone who has. This shows you exactly how something out of the ordinary can produce great results. Imagery matters, captivate the audience and create an addictive response.

People Like Odd

It may be as simple as that. People like to see and read things that are odd, silly and off-the-wall. There are many sayings such as “you don’t see that every day” which come to mind. Odd and unusual articles resonate with people because of the pure fact that it’s not something they see every day. It’s not just another ad, it’s not just another craft, it’s not just another recipe – it’s weird and it’s cool and it’s something we all want to click on.

Regardless of genre or niche, articles with unusual or odd content can produce endless streams of traffic, so long as the content resonates with the audience. Odd articles are contagious, they catch on and can spread like wildfire.

Therefore, next time you’re brainstorming about an article topic, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and come up with something a little odd. Your readers may just love it!

About the Author: Andrew Eaton is a New England native who enjoys the freedom of freelance blogging, web design and social media management. He loves to explore the nooks and crannies of New England as well as travel across the country with his best friend and better half, Katie. He is an avid DIYer, a magician in the kitchen and a geek at heart. He blogs at Scrappy Geek.

The Art of the Follow Up

Written by Jason Francis

Content creation is a skill. It’s a skill that goes deeper than just writing about random things and occurrences. Content can be viewed as a seed that, depending on how much attention and care you give it, can grow and last for weeks, months and even years (or it can bloom and flourish for a few days then die.) Within the current age of shortening attention spans, it’s a constant challenge to keep eyes on your work for lengthy periods of time. The mind doesn’t always allow for brand new ideas for you to write about but fortunately there is a way to breathe new life into existing material. Learn the Art of the Follow Up.

The Follow Up is the ability to revisit past content and address it again in a manner that adds additional information and substance to it. Here are examples from a social/event viewpoint and then from a brand marketing position.

Covering events that take place in society is a high speed reactionary job. It’s a 24/7 news cycle where something can happen and claim the attention of the masses at any moment. Afterwards, that celeb story or business scandal gets lost in whatever that newest issue may be. Put on your reporter’s hat and dig deeper. In 2013 when the planned partnership between Hip Hop mogul Jay Z and high end retail store Barney’s met claims of extreme racial profiling, my views skyrocketed on my initial posting. After about 48-72 hours, I saw the attention swing to the next story of the moment. In the meantime there were ongoing investigations, reports and updates on the Barney’s story that would go on over a 2 month period. I set continuous personal page view records with each update post. The goal is to keep the conversation going beyond mere sensationalism. Initiating talks on race, capitalism and celebrity without baiting became a hot button matter and I saw my content shared among people who never shared my work before. Overall, identify something that hits with your audience and flesh it out. Few stories are ever finalized quickly so make a point to stay with it over time.

You can apply this similarly to brand marketing material. When we get opportunities to review products or create narratives for lifestyle blogging, it often ties into a larger marketing plan on the side of brand. Yet, it’s important to keep in mind that after our social sharing obligations are met, these companies are still active and they are still watching. If you’re true to the lifestyle you are writing about, then go back and reference products or services that you still use. I’ve worked with shaving products before that I still use. When writing about my work traveling and being presentable on the road, I’d incorporate that previous content. On the imagery side of things take a present day picture showing that you still use what you promoted months ago. I turned 3 respective grooming posts I did into a triple shout out while covering an event in Canada. That breathes life into those older posts and also connects you more to your reader as someone truly living versus merely posting for pay (Not to mention the shares from the brands themselves who love to be mentioned.)

There is a lot of creativity needed to get the most out of what you write and post. With the speed of social media, it’s easy to overlook things once it’s up and published, but try to make a point to revisit what you write and look at what new spins and fresh energy you can interject into them. The more you do the better you will become at this art.

About the Author: Jason Francis is a Writer, Blogger and Social Media consultant. He specializes in connecting the rapidly growing world of digital media and entrepreneurship via social media. His site www.TheSocialMediaSamurai.com speaks on a number of social, technical and professional issues that affect the lives of young business people. In addition to this, he manage the social media for the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an international collective with 10,000 members worldwide.

Twitter – @TrueomegaNexus // Instagram – @Nightfall914

Jet.com: The New Amazon?

Shopping platforms like Amazon.com and club stores like Sam’s Club are making it easy for consumers to get the best price for the items they purchase every day. Just like any good idea, one comes along that’s better and there is a new kid that has joined the shopper discount race.

The new kid on the block is Jet.com and after one use, I’m hooked! I placed my first order for items we usually buy at Sam’s Club or Amazon.com. I chose 5 items we were running out of, made sure I spent $35 to receive free shipping and placed my order. Jet.com had everything I was looking for…Domino sugar, Cottonelle wipes, Swiffer Dry Mop refills, Always feminine products and Finish Dishwasher Powerball Tabs. I was offered an additional discount if I waived the option to make a free return, so I did since I knew I already liked and needed these products. After placing the order, which will arrive in 1-2 days, I went to Amazon and placed the same products in my cart. I already have Amazon Prime, so I receive free shipping on my orders.

I was shocked at the difference in price between the two sites. My total on Jet.com was $38.64. The total on Amazon.com for the exact same products was $62.06! Both gave me free shipping.

Jet.com offered me a free 3 month trial period and once it ends the annual fee to be a member and reap these awesome discounts is $50 a year. The membership includes free shipping on orders over $35 and free returns (unless you waive this option to receive a larger discount).

Amazon Prime is $99 a year, which includes free 2 day shipping on every purchase, without a limit on your order size.

When you compare apples to apples, Jet.com soars to the top. What move will Amazon make to win this battle of the shopping platforms? I’m sure we will soon find out!

 

 

The Weekly Bias: News Feed Overhauls & Redditors Running Wild

If you’re tired of reading about Donald Trump’s hair and Amazon’s less-than-prime day, then we’ve got you covered. Let us know what has caught your fancy this week in the comments below.

Facebook’s latest News Feed change lets you pick who you see first

Tired of seeing posts in your News Feed from that random person you haven’t seen in 10 years or that neighbor who constantly posts direct selling links? Facebook has finally heard you. While currently only available in the iOS app, you can now adjust the News Feed features to “prioritize who you see first.” You can select up to 30 Pages and people whose updates will always appear first in your News Feed. Even better, there’s also a feature with a menu for unfollowing friends and Pages you want nothing to do with. Nice move, Facebook.

Facebook Redefines a “Click” to satisfy advertisers

What is a click? Not a like, comment or share on a Facebook ad according to advertisers. Facebook is no longer charging marketers for engagement clicks. The new ad model will only count clicks that spawn a coveted action such as visiting the marketer’s website. While a new model for Facebook, Twitter has been experimenting with direct response ads for nearly a year. However, the challenge of predicting click-through rates still lingers.

Reddit and how NOT to do community

As the self-proclaimed “front page of the Internet”, Reddit has always boasted its protection of free speech. Much of the site is powered by unpaid moderators who oversee the numerous forums, or subreddits, and the massive amount of content these forums house. The kicker is these moderators have no one overlooking their shoulder, meaning they have the power to close off their subreddits if they so choose to. Several subreddit doors were shut to the public after the “questionable” firing of Victoria Taylor, Reddit’s communications director. One of Taylor’s major duties was coordinating the prominent Ask Me Anything, or AMA, posts featuring chats with public figures. Moderators who worked with Taylor said their jobs were made harder by her unannounced sacking. What now, Reddit?

Does Sex Still Sell? How the Idea Has Changed (Or Not)

Written by Jamie Smith 

Do you remember that Quiznos commercial about five years ago that strongly implied a sexual relationship between the oven and an employee named “Scott?” The point was to sell a new sandwich called Toast Torpedos that looked delicious but the innuendo created such a vivid image that I haven’t been able to eat at Quiznos since.

The term “sex sells” has been true for decades but is it still true? I reached out to the Social Fabric blogging community to ask about their thoughts on this subject and got responses that represent a variety of demographics.

“I think it depends on the brand, and I think (more importantly) that it depends on their targeted audience,” blogger Cathy Mini said. “For example, I think it’s safe to argue that, generally speaking, ‘sex sells’ more for men than women in the United States. Is it ‘dead’ though? No, I don’t think so. But I would hope that my generation (Millennials) has developed more in consumerism and needs more from an ad than just sexual imagery.”

Fellow blogger Sarah Bouvier agreed and discussed the issue further when I asked about how body image and using sex to sell products go hand in hand.

“I think it’s the same thing,” she said. “Brands who are using ‘sex’ and selling mostly to men, are still showing ‘sexy’ women. While brands targeting women are showing a different standard of ‘beauty.’”

The recent ads by Dove are a prime example of this where women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities are portrayed as beautiful. We can’t forget the emotional ads showing women that they are beautiful even when they don’t feel that way about themselves.

“I think emotions are the new sex. More and more ads seem to be playing on strong emotions,” Blogger Darcy Zalewski said. “The ads during the Big Game were a great indication of that.”

I never thought of it this way, but the Dove ads are still using body image and a strong sense of sensuality to sell a product. But unlike ads where the sexuality is overt, I, like others, remember Dove in a positive light instead of being repulsed. And instead of just addressing a small audience that might look like the “hot” models in ads, Dove addressed a broader audience with their message of body image acceptance and beauty. (Ironically, I don’t remember one thing being said about my armpits not stinking if I use the product but I’ll admit to recently switching to Dove deodorant.)

Another blogger named Melissa Ann agreed with initial thoughts on the Dove campaign still using body image to sell.

“A bunch of women standing around in their underwear is still using sex to sell, in my opinion, regardless of the shape/size of the women,” she said. “Deodorant is pretty much the least sexy thing ever so I guess sex helps sell.”

Blogger Mary Juett said she’s worked in direct sales for an intimacy business and that while sex still sells, “people want it to be tasteful, they want it to be relevant, and mostly they don’t want it to be flashy.

“If you really want ‘sex to sell’ for your product you have to be able to show quality and a real connection to the audience, not just throw a sexy image up and expect it to sell the product,” she continued. There needs to be audience connection, knowledge and confidence behind the product first.”

Do you think sex still sells? How have brands adapted to changing opinions in their audience? What kind of messaging do you prefer? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author: Jamie Smith is an avid content creator both for her personal blog Jamie’s Thots and for her writing business Jamie’s Notebook. A newspaper journalist by training, Jamie has loved the written word since elementary school. She started her personal blog in 2005, but had never considered that platform as a means of making a living until joining Social Fabric in 2013. She still writes some magazine and newspaper articles, but the majority of her work is now in sponsored blogging, corporate blogging and website writing. Happily married to husband John, Jamie works in a home office and loves sharing about her four-legged “children.” Tweet her at @JamiesThots.

Social Media Best Practices on Pinterest

Pinterest can be a really important and valuable social network for bloggers and brands. However, the uses are so different than other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, that it can be difficult to master. In our infographic, we’ve outlined the basics that you need to know to get started and up your game on Pinterest.

One of the main keys to succeeding on Pinterest is recognizing that its main purpose isn’t a newsfeed, like Facebook. Think of it as a search engine. While the feed of people users follow is important, making sure you have the right keywords to show up in search, and you have a commanding visual presence in the search results are more important. Your visual presence is equally important in the newsfeed as well.  So think vertical images, not horizontal. Make your images 600 or 735 pixels wide, and make them long.  The longer the image, the longer it shows on the page as someone is scrolling down! That means people have more opportunity to really pay attention to your content.

When it comes to the content of your image, infographics, like this one, perform well. But really anything unique and eye-catching for the user will do well. Overly branded or self-promotional content is easily ignored. Pinterest eschewed all ads for a long time for a reason – we program our brains to ignore them. Don’t be your own worst enemy by simply placing graphic ads as pins on Pinterest.

Your pins should be useful and should link somewhere. Resist the temptation to simply place pretty pictures on a board.

Finally – be a part of the community.  Find interesting things that are in your niche, or relevant to your brand and repin them to your brand’s own interest boards. People take note if a major brand repins their stuff, and will often promote your brand for you as they thank you publicly. Work with influencers and shared board communities who will reshare your content, as your reshare theirs. Above all – keep the user’s interests in mind. Is your content interesting, and does it tell a story that people will care about? It’s rare that a brand produces the kind of rabid fandom necessary for a board all about the brand to work. Create boards with shared interests. For instance, if your company makes baby diapers, a board dedicated to parenting hacks, baby room decor, or even Mom & Dad date night ideas could really work for your audience. You don’t even have to produce the content, just repin it from other influencers!

Download the PDF here

Social Media Best Practices on Pinterest

Infographic by Brandon Lyon

 

Back-to-School with Millennial Moms

For most parents, back-to-school time means pulling out wallets to purchase new backpacks, school supplies, clothes and more for their kids. In fact, back-to-school sales are expected to reach about $56.3 billion this year. Targeting parents during this “time” has become a more complicated process than ever before. As some parents start their shopping well in advance, a study by America’s Research Group found that 58% of parents want to wait until the winter holidays to spend money when retailers increase their sales and deals. So how can brands and retailers effectively reach back-to-school shoppers when such a large shopping window exists?

In her new MediaPost article, “Back-to-School with Millennial Moms,” Holly Pavlika interviewed Jeff Fromm, author of Marketing to Millennials, to find three things brands should keep in mind when targeting the group.

Tip #1? Remember she is very pragmatic. To ramp-up your back-to-school marketing strategies, read the full article on MediaPost Engage:Moms.

The Weekly Bias: Prime Shopping & Millennials

Written by Rachel Majors

The weather is hot and so is this week’s social media news! Let us know what you think in the comments.

Today Is A Prime Day to Shop On Amazon

Amazon Prime Day, a global shopping event, is taking place online today, July 15. Amazon is offering Prime members “more deals than Black Friday” to celebrate the site’s 20th birthday. The one day event will bring Prime shoppers Lightning Deals, seven Deals of the Day and free shipping as always. Members can also experience Prime Photos, an unlimited photo storage option, while participating in the #PrimeLiving Photo Contest to win a $10,000 Amazon Gift Card. There’s a lot happening on Amazon today! Not a member? Sign up for a 30-day free trial of Prime to get in on today’s deals.

Use Facebook Groups to Grow A Niche Community

Building a local niche community can sometimes be a daunting task to leaders. In-person networking takes time that a lot of people struggle to find. Facebook’s wide outreach abilities can help ease the trouble of finding group members. By searching for people who like other groups similar to your niche, you can find people who will benefit from your expertise and grow your community. Outreach templates, rewards and personal engagement are just a few tips offered in this article for building a successful niche community.

Can Shopper Marketers Reach Millennials?
Millennials make up “80 million shoppers with one trillion dollars in buying power…” according to this article. Brands are constantly looking for ways to reach the influential generation, but it’s difficult. Millennials seem to be all over the place when shopping. They’re not brand loyal yet, they crave money saving deals and can give or take when it comes to shopper marketing. One-third of Millennials are active on shopper media while almost the same amount are completely detached. Don’t give up hope, there are still opportunities to reach these shoppers through creative strategies, active targeting and using different media to reach the generation.