Best practices

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Including a photo or graphic with every social media post is second nature for most business accounts at this point. Eye-catching images aren’t just for show- studies prove they have a massive impact on user engagement. One study found posts that included a photo received five times the engagement of their image-less counterparts.

Although the importance of visually driven Facebook posts and tweets seems to be widely acknowledged, the importance of high quality images still seems to elude many organizations. Here are a few tips based on my own professional experiences:

  • Purchase a DSLR camera. From a marketing perspective, every organization should have a bank of high resolution photos. These are photos that can appear on everything from postcards to billboards without the nasty pixelation that comes from enlarging a low resolution photo. There is no smartphone available that can truly match a DSLR camera. They might be expensive, but it is a worthwhile investment. Here is the camera I use for work purposes.
  • Download and learn how to effectively use photo editing software. Every photo and graphic should pass through some type of editing software before it is posted. In addition to perfecting your photographs, editing software will also allow you to add text and unique features to your artwork. If you can’t afford the Adobe creative suite, there are dozens of Photoshop alternatives available. Here are a few.
  • Cut it out with all the text on Facebook. This is especially true if you plan to boost your photos. Facebook cautions that it may not serve an ad to a full audience if the ad includes too much text. While they’ve walked back their 20-percent rule, a requirement that text only appear in a maximum of 20-percent of the ad, too much text still has an obvious impact on reach.
  • Speaking of too much text, prioritize the mobile experience. In a study of 9 markets including the United States, Comscore found that 60-percent of all digital minutes occurred on a mobile phone. That means mobile devices have passed the computer screen as the preferred platform for using the Internet. Social media graphics should be designed for smaller screens. I’d go so far as to recommend proofing any images on multiple screens before posting.

Time to share your thoughts! If you are a social media guru, what are your best practices for crafting stunning photos and graphics? If you are just starting out, please feel free to leave any questions you might have for me in the comments section.

The digital decision

This weekend, my fiancé took me to Kitchen– a tiny, unassuming breakfast joint on Federal Hill in Providence. He found the restaurant via a Google search and decided to take me after seeing a rare 5-star review on Google. I was surprised to find out this eatery has no social media presence or website and yet still somehow draws a line of people each morning.

For a place like Kitchen, word of mouth seems to hold more value and allows them to keep their overhead down. Not all small businesses are this lucky. As of 2015, there were a whopping 40 million business pages on Facebook. It is safe to assume that if a business is not on Facebook, their competitors most likely are. Furthermore, having a website and social media presence allows consumers to vet the company. According to DMANews, 90-percent of consumers expect consistent interactions across marketing channels, social media platforms included.

So how should a small business determine if they need a Facebook page and/or a website? A good place to start is first determining the company’s goals. If the company would like to attract new customers or better communicate with existing customers, then having a digital presence is necessary. However, in the case of Kitchen, where the company is running at full capacity every day, a digital presence may not be necessary but it certainly could help to build brand loyalty. With so many free resources available, I would always advocate for any small business to build their digital presence.

What do you think, should every small business have a website and Facebook page? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Instagram did WHAT?!

Here’s an early birthday gift for all my fellow social media strategists: A recently released Instagram feature that allows users to upload images from a browser.

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We’ve all been there. You meticulously design a graphic or edit a photo in Photoshop and follow it up with the cumbersome process of emailing it to your phone to upload.

Don’t celebrate just yet- this isn’t a complete resolution to our troubles. While the feature does make it slightly easier to upload that great content directly from your desktop, it still isn’t as simple as uploading to Facebook or Twitter. iPad users are able to upload in Safari. Desktop users will have to temporarily change their browser to a mobile experience in order to upload. In both cases, functionality is greatly reduced.

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Reduced capabilities and the needless switch to a mobile experience aside, my hope is that this is a step in the right direction to better serving business users.

Facebook touts 8 million registered business profiles and the use of Instagram ads is growing with each passing day. Despite prolific interest in using Instagram to connect with potential customers, clients, or donors, Instagram hasn’t made it easy for small business owners and non-profits to connect with users via desktop. Even though posting will still require a few extra clicks, this new offering should at least reduce some of the time spent switching from one device to another. While we’re busy counting engagements and impressions, perhaps we should also keep track of the time saved uploading straight from our computers. Meanwhile, it is my sincere hope that Instagram is using this opportunity to quantify the influence of browser access on their own metrics.

Share your thoughts on this new feature in the comments section. If you’re interested in trying it out yourself, check out this explanation of how to switch to mobile view.

Ads Manager: Your new best friend

Non-profits with limited resources often look to stretch their ad budgets as much as possible- that is assuming they even have an ad budget. I’m a big supporter of digital ads, mainly because of their robust ability to drill down into demographics in a way that is unmatched by other mediums. It also helps that they are impossibly cheap.

While the majority of non-profits have some sort of social media presence, I often find that few actually utilize Facebook to its full potential. Consider this: 79-percent of all online adults are on Facebook. While Facebook presents an uparalleled opportunity to reach the masses, it is possible to cast too wide of a net (hint: If you use the “boost” button, you’re doing it wrong). Allow me to introduce your new best friend: Facebook Ads Manager.

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Businesses can better define the geographic area in which their ad will be served and change age range.

Ads Manager is a platform offered by Facebook for businesses. It expands on the “boost” experience by providing deeper access to demographics and user habits. Businesses can better define the geographic area in which their ad will be served and change age range. My favorite feature is called “Detailed Targeting”, which allows businesses to filter their audience based on interests and behavior. For example, if a non-profit is committed to saving natural resources in the rainforest, they can actually drill down to only those who have previously shown an interest in the rainforest.

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My favorite feature is called “Detailed Targeting”, which allows businesses to filter their audience based on interests and behavior.

To ensure that money is well spent, Facebook Ads Manager also asks businesses to choose an objective, such as conversions or brand awareness. Facebook explains the benefit of choosing an objective is that it helps their algorithm to identify what the business most values. For example, if a campaign objective is to receive web traffic, Facebook will attempt to serve that ad to individuals who are more likely to click a link. Additionally, these objectives allow the organization to reflect on data collected during the campaign to determine if the return on investment met expectations.

For those of you thinking of using Facebook Ads Manager, I recommend checking out this brief tutorial video. Please feel free to leave any questions you may have about Facebook Ads Manager in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Don’t throw spaghetti at the wall

“Undercooked noodles and undercooked social media strategies are both destined for the barrel.”

Coming from a marketing background, I am always looking for tangible evidence to support conclusions. Throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks may result in some success, but what about those noodles that end up on the ground? Undercooked noodles and undercooked social media strategies are both destined for the barrel.

In this post, I’ll highlight two examples that seem most perplexing for smaller businesses and organizations that do not have a dedicated social media professional on staff.

The Snapchat Quandary

I’m often asked by clients and colleagues if Snapchat is a useful business tool. My answer always comes with a big caveat. Snapchat can be very effective in spurring engagement, IF your target audience is teenagers and young adults. As of last year, 60-percent of Snapchat users were between 13 and 24. Another 26-percent were between 25 and 34. Incorporating Snapchat into a social media strategy hinges on the goals of the organization, which should always be defined before a new platform is even considered.

“How often should I post to Facebook?”

I often respond to this question with more questions. The frequency to which a company posts on Facebook relies on several factors, including the target audience. Hubspot found that a higher rate of posting only benefited pages with more than 10,000 likes. In other words, if you have less than 10,000 followers posting nine times a day won’t necessarily increase your reach. While my recommendations for frequency will always reflect the organization’s unique needs, my response always includes two boilerplate suggestions:

  • Determine an ideal posting schedule and commit to it. I’m all about consistency- if three posts per week is optimal, then post three times per week. Posting eight times in one day and then going dark for a month is inconsistent, amateurish, and likely to have a negative impact on the company’s likes and follows.
  • Content for content’s sake isn’t always in the company’s best interest. Create thoughtful, engaging content that has a uniform voice and visual style (again- consistency).

Organizations that do not have a dedicated marketing team may think they need an account on every social media platform, but that is not the case. Smaller organizations need to maximize what limited resources they have at their disposal. It doesn’t take a marketing degree to cook up well-defined goals and target audiences.

What does it mean to ‘stay current’?

For those who were late to adopt social media, the experience of starting new accounts can be daunting. This blog will provide tips and best practices for government entities and non-profit organizations who may possess little to no resources, but who still recognize the need to incorporate social media as part of a strategic marketing plan.

The great thing is that a decent social media strategy doesn’t require unlimited funds or a team of professionals dedicated to curating content 24/7. Organizations ‘stay current’ not by bombarding the latest social platforms with as much content as possible, but rather by using the right platforms in a meaningful way. This requires clearly defined goals, a recognizable target audience, and well-crafted content, all of which are attainable for those willing to put in the time.