How one small business creates great Facebook content

Anyone who uses Facebook for social media marketing is looking for that magic bullet of content: What can I post that will get my fans talking, make them loyal, and spread the word about my business?

One of my favorite local small businesses has figured it out. Modern Edge Art Bar is a studio in my area that offers BYOB painting classes, jewelry classes, birthday parties, and kids classes. I have taken 3 of the BYOB classes, and was thrilled as a non-artist that I could have so much fun with my friends and walk out with a painting I am proud to hang up at home.

When I first heard of Modern Edge last summer, and liked their page, they had a few hundred fans. Since then, they’ve grown to 1,200 fans and have expanded their business – last month they moved to a larger space, increased their staff, and added more classes.

I think that word of mouth had a lot to do with Modern Edge’s growth, and they’re getting great word of mouth through Facebook because of the engaging content they share. Here are 5 ways Modern Edge creates great Facebook content

1. They strike the right tone

Modern Edge doesn’t post bland text updates about products or services. They share information about their business in a friendly, helpful way. This post is about a possible painting for a future BYOB class – it got 33 comments and 133 likes.

Modern Edge Painting

2. Photos, photos, photos

There is no mystery about what happens in a Modern Edge art class. They post photos of what project the class will work on. They post during a class. They post photos of happy artists with finished projects. This is the cover photo they posted after a class I attended with my friends.

Modern Edge Cover Photo

3. Call to action/get people to share

Want to drive traffic to your products or services? Modern Edge has this down: tell people how many seats are left. Or ask your fans to share on Facebook for a chance to win a free class. This post got 47 comments:

Modern Edge Giveaway

4. They ask for their customers’ opinions

Modern Edge instructors are trained and skilled art teachers. But you can’t fill your classes if no one wants to learn what you’re teaching. They keep their classes fresh by asking their fans what they want.

Modern Edge Facebook Poll5. They’re not all business

This Bob Ross meme is spot-on. It’s about art and it’s entertaining to fans, which is why it got 53 shares.

Modern Edge Bob Ross

Need more help with Facebook marketing? Check out my other posts about Facebook!

3 tools that will help you measure and optimize your Instagram engagement

Instagram isn’t the largest social network in terms of users (13% of Internet users have accounts) or businesses using it for social media marketing, but you can make a big impact with the content you’re creating there.

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. You can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, and a few other sites through Instagram’s settings.
  2. People love visual content. If you share your Instagram photos to Facebook, they will receive between 120-180% more engagement than just a text-based post.
  3. You now have access to a lot of 3rd party tools that can measure engagement with your Instagram content – and show you some other nifty stats about your activity.

I’ve done a little digging recently, and thought I’d share some tools I found to help you get the most out of your Instagramming.

Statigram

I’ve mentioned Statigram before – as a tool you can use to create a Facebook profile photo from your Instagram shots – but Statigram also has great statistics for your account.

Statigram Optimization

When you click on the Statistics tab, it will give you:

  • An overview of your total photos, likes, comments, followers. The overview also shows scores for your love rate (how much your followers like your photos), talk rate (how many followers comment on your photos), and spread rate (engagement from non-follows). Judging by those scores, I have a lot of work to do on my Instagram account!
  • A rolling month analysis – and this is exactly a month from when you’re currently accessing your stats. You’ll see the amount of content you posted during that period, engagement in likes and comments, and follower growth.
  • Content analysis from your first Instagram post, including total photos per month, a month by month and week by week comparison, which day of the week and hour you post the most, filter usage, tags, and geolocation.
  • Engagement statistics, such as the percentage of likes from followers and nonfollowers, likes compared to growth history, most liked photos, percentage of comments, comments compared to growth history, and most commented photos.
  • Optimization of your frequency and filters, and how they impact engagement. I think this is the most useful set of statistics. There’s a great chart that shows your current posting habits for days of the week and times, compared to when your followers interact with your photos. The places those intersect are your optimal posting date and time. You’ll also see a chart that shows the lifespan of engagement with a photo – how quickly people comment after you post a photo. There’s a graph that shows the filters you used, compared to comments and likes. It looks at your tags as well – what tags you use compared to the most popular tags.
  • Community statistics on your followers – who you’re not following back, who’s not following you back, and who are you following that follows you back – and your follower growth.

SimplyMeasured

SimplyMeasured’s free reports give you a look at multiple social networks, including Instagram. The best part about the Instagram report is the engagement activity. If you’re sharing to Facebook and Twitter from Instagram, SimplyMeasured will show you which channel is getting the most engagement for your images.

Simply Measured Engagement

In my case, Instagram ranked the highest, followed by Facebook and Twitter. Since I share photos mostly on Instagram, sometimes on Facebook, and rarely on Twitter, that makes sense. If I shared every photo on all networks, this report would give me a better idea of – all sharing being equal – what channel would give me the most engagement as far as Instagram photos.

SimplyMeasured also analyzes engagement among your Instagram activity – likes and comments per photo. And it shows engagement via Twitter and Facebook – tweets per photo, and Facebook likes, comments, and shares per photo. It shows your top photos for the last month, a keyword analysis – comments per keyword, and determines your best time and day for engagement. Not what I expected at all; it turns out my best time is 4-5 pm, and my best day is Friday.

Twtrland

A tool called Twtrland might throw you off – we’re talking about Instagram here. But in addition to Twitter analytics, Twtrland gives you stats for your Instagram profile:

  • Your follower count, and what percentage of your followers are novice, casual users, or power users.
  • Your average activity per week
  • Likes and comments per photo
  • Your most popular photos – my No. 1 is of one of my cats, which is a relief; I’m trying not to post too many cat photos. But I guess this just reaffirms that cats rule the Internet.

Twtrland

What I Learned

Based on these tools, my current Instagram habits, and common marketing knowledge, I know that I do need to post more (I have been slacking). My growth history from Statigram shows the more I post, the more engagement I receive and my follower count goes up.

I get good results if I’m posting photos during an event and tagging the pics with the event hashtag – more exposure because event attendees are looking for related content. The Simply Measures activity stats show that the weekend I posted during Blog Better Boston, my engagement went up. Hashtags count too – when I participate in the Photo a Day challenge, other participants are looking at the #fmsphotoaday hashtag, and are catching my content. And that explains why my most popular photos from the Twtrland stats are from the photo challenge.

Simply Measured Instagram Twitter Facebook

Stats from Simply Measured and Statigram show that I should be posting at 4 pm on Fridays, but weekend mornings and weekday evenings after dinner will get me steady engagement.

Simply Measured Frequency

How is Your Instagram Activity?

If you’ve used these tools, what did you learn? And if you have other tools to suggest, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

A lesson on Facebook EdgeRank: Fans miss out when they don’t engage

Like ButtonIt’s not a secret that – as a user of Facebook – you don’t see every single thing posted by people or pages in your little corner of the Facebook universe. It’s all based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

If you’re not familiar with EdgeRank, check out this nifty infographic by PostRocket – EdgeRank is Facebook’s formula that determines what a user sees in their newsfeed. It’s a complicated secret sauce, but the basic idea here is this: between your friends and the pages you like, there’s a lot of stuff being posted, and Facebook wants you see the posts that are most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on how much you interact with a friend or a brand page. The more you comment on, like or share posts, the more often that friend or page will appear in your feed.

Facebook has become a primary source of where we get our information about our friends’ lives, news, and what’s happening at local businesses. And if something’s not in your newsfeed, you’re missing out.

I experienced this in my life this week. It’s a small incident, but it illustrates the power of EdgeRank:

My friend Andrea and I take a Zumba class at our local gym. There are 2 instructors who teach the Zumba classes, and we prefer one instructor’s teaching style over the other. When we walked into the class this week, the other instructor was setting up. We saw a mutual friend and asked if she knew what was up – she said that the regular instructor announced on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t be teaching that day.

Not a big deal to most people, but it was to us. We left during the class, before the first song was over.

“We were on Facebook all day,” I said to Andrea. “Why didn’t we see this?”

And then it hit me: EdgeRank!!! (shakes fist and screams at the sky) I didn’t see the Zumba instructor’s post because I never interact with her content. My lack of engagement means those posts are hidden from my newsfeed.

Something else hit me: Marketers talk all the time about what brands need to do – create engaging content, share more visual content, think about the frequency of posts, and find out what days and times are best – but the fans have a responsibility too.

If you are really loyal to a business, it’s a good idea to interact with a brand on Facebook on a regular basis so the information you’re interested in is coming to you in the newsfeed. It can be as simple as liking a post, or you could take a few seconds to write a comment. Or – if it’s something you think your friends might enjoy – click that share button.

Another thing that helps? Use Facebook’s interest list feature and give yourself easy access to all the recent information from the pages you really want to keep track of.

Have you missed out on something because you didn’t see it on Facebook? Let me know in the comments!

Make your blog better: Tips from the Blog Better Boston conference

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston (I have no idea how to pose at these things!)

This past weekend, my friend Emily and I attended the second annual Blog Better Boston conference, held at the Boston Globe, and organized by fabulous bloggers Alana of The Good Girl Gone Blog and Amy of I’m Gonna Fly.

The event included some great sessions on creating media kits, blog design, working with brands, photography, and creating content – I learned so much from everyone I met, and discovered that Boston has a very welcome, friendly blogging community (who knew?!).

If you have a blog, or you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, check out what Blog Better Boston speakers had to say about design, content and planning:

Design

Alison of Long Distance Loving (fellow Hoosier-turned-New Englander!) shared great tips on blog design – I hope to put some of those in action, so look for a redesign soon! Why does blog design matter? “From the moment you first lay eyes on a blog, you know whether you want to stay or go,” Alison said.

And what makes good design? A blog that’s easy to read and navigate, uncomplicated, has consistency (photo sizes, alignment and length of posts), and reflects your personality. Some people opt to pay for professional design, but if you’re doing it yourself, try some new fonts. Free fonts are available at:

Content

Boston Globe beauty and fashion writer/blogger Rachel Raczka knows good content, and the best kind is created when you find out what your readers want from you. She suggests that each week you should check your stats: what posts do people click on the most? What search terms are bringing them to your blog? Those are the topics they’re coming to you for, so make sure you’re filling that need.

“How to” posts are a great way to connect with readers, but try using more multimedia than text for a how to post. The visuals for this type of post are the best aspect to concentrate on – try steps and photos or go for video. Try combining those tips in a Vine post – Vine has been getting attention, but it’s underutilized. A creative Vine post can get you noticed.

Planning

Julie of Orchid Grey shared her solution for the work-life-blog balance: a content calendar. Planning your blog posts, creating a recurring calendar of themes, and scheduling when you write and research creates consistency for you and your readers. It also allows room for your priorities, time for other interests, and creative inspiration.

This blog is not my full time job. It’s a creative outlet that I try to make time for between my full time job, the 2 hours a day I spend commuting, my social life, and my nonprofit commitments. So, for right now, I have time for one post a week. And that’s OK.

I fit blogging into my week by scheduling office hours in my calendar. I set aside a few hours (as little as 1 hour, but no more than 3) during the week for research, blog stats, checking out new tools, and brainstorming. I plan one night a week – and it varies each week based on whatever I have going on socially, or with meetings, or other responsibilities – to write a post. And there are little times throughout the week where I think of ideas and add them to a spreadsheet, or bookmark interesting stats, infographics or posts that I come across.

Why you should blog

Although I walked away with a lot of practical tips, the biggest lesson I learned is that blogging is a tremendous opportunity, and you get out of it what you put into it. If you spend the time and make the commitment, the payoff is a community of loyal readers and fellow bloggers, a place for you to share your creativity, and a chance for you to grow your personal brand.

Got more tips?

If you are a blogger, how do you do it? Got any tips to share? I’ve been writing my personal blog for six months, so I have a lot to learn from the blogging community. Feel free to your thoughts in the comments.