Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

Why I’m not participating in restaurant week: Your Facebook posts don’t link to your menu

On paper, restaurant week is a great idea. If you haven’t heard of restaurant week, it’s a week out of the year where the restaurants of a community offer special prices and menus to drive people to local dining establishments.

Pretty cool, right? Eat local! Spend local! I’m for it.

Until the restaurants and organizers of restaurant week try to execute the event online. What happens is the organizers cobble together a horrible looking website using every font available in their publishing platform, hastily throw up a Facebook page and attempt – but fail – to provide prospective diners with the necessary information.

I’m not talking about the dates and the list of restaurants themselves. What I’m talking about is what every diner who searches for a restaurant online is looking for: the special restaurant week-only menu.

Aside from reviews on Facebook and Yelp, the menu is a key factor in the decision making process for which establishment gets our money. What are you serving? Do I like it? Will my friends/kids/family/co-workers who have gluten-free/picky eating/vegetarian issues be able to enjoy anything on your menu?

For some reason, restaurant week event organizers don’t get this, and they link to everything else besides the menu in their Facebook posts. They link to the Facebook pages of participating restaurants, the restaurants’ homepages, and their aforementioned terrible event website. All the links on the event’s website are also typically to the participating restaurants’ homepages. Although they did a good job reminding fans and posting delicious food photos, after post after post on one local restaurant week’s Facebook page linked to everything but the menus.

Linking to the homepage of a restaurant does not bring me to the restaurant week menu because restaurants typically build a special page for it. The restaurant owners and workers and their marketing folks know where to find it – they spend every day on their website. But the prospective customers who may use restaurant week to try you out have no idea where that special menu is or how to get to it. They don’t use your site every day, and they are not going to spend more than 2 clicks trying to find your menu.

So you’re going to get a scenario like the one I experienced with my friends this week. We picked a day, and then chatted on Facebook messenger to find a restaurant we could all agree on. The local restaurant week’s webpage listed the homepage of 18 participating restaurants. After a few tries of searching and failing to find the restaurant week menus, we decided to try the restaurant week of another nearby town. We found the same situation with the next town’s website, and they had 42 restaurants listed. Who has the time or energy to look all over the interwebs to find the restaurant week menus of 42 restaurants?

Restaurant week fail. We gave up.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Here’s one Facebook fan’s response to the Restaurant Week Menu Quest:

Restaurant Week Facebook Post

Do not make customers work to complete a call to action. They will give up.
So my point is this: If you want people to do something, link to the thing you want them to do. This is not just for restaurant week. This is for any marketing anyone does anywhere, no matter if you’re doing it for an event or your business. Do not make people work to follow through on the call to action. It’s that simple. You want people to come to your business. Make it easy for them to come to your business. You spend a lot of time and money on your websites and social media marketing. You want prospective customers to view all the pages of all the fabulous things you have to offer. I get it. Just get them there first. If they want to come back, and want to learn more by perusing your Facebook posts and website, they will.

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3 easy tips to make your social media content look professional

There’s a lot of noise in the newsfeeds of social media networks. A lot of clutter and sloppiness.

But your content doesn’t have to look like that. Your posts can stand out from everyone else’s. Before you share, take a moment and use these 3 easy tips to look professional

1. Shorten your links

When you include a link in a post or a tweet, avoid long URLs. They just look bad. And if you’re writing a tweet, a long link can get cut off if you go past 140 characters.

The solution is a link shortener. I’ve used HootSuite’s link shortener and bit.ly, an there are a number of others out there. I used HootSuite to shorten the link for this tweet:

Tweet Shortened Link

The benefit of using a link shortener is that many of them include tracking tools so you can see how many clicks your link got and – if you share that same link on multiple platforms (bonus points for this!) – you can see which platform gave you the most engagement. Here’s a look at HootSuite’s reporting tools:

HootSuite Summary Clicks and Referrers

HootSuite Top Clicks

2. Change how your link is displayed

When you share a link on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, the URL is in your status update, and a preview of the webpage you’re sharing shows up below by pulling an image from the site, as well as a title and subtitle.

Once that link preview shows up, delete the URL in your post. You don’t need it because it’s still active in the preview.

Then use editing tools to clean up your link preview. These editing options are all pretty similar for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Make sure you’re pulling in the image you want. If there’s more than one image on the website you’re linking to, you can choose to display the most relevant image. Click on the arrow below the image to flip through the options.

LinkedIn Edit Link Headline

You can also edit the title, subtitle (if shown), and the first sentence or two that are pulled from the website. Sometimes the link preview will cut off sentences once they’ve reached a character limit. Click in the editor in the link preview and clean up the text.

Here’s a cleaned up Facebook link post for one of the nonprofits I volunteer with:

Facebook Delete Link

3. Crop your photos

Did you know that each social network displays images a little differently and resizes them based on the network’s design? Make this work to your advantage. If you’re sharing a photo, crop it for the best possible display for whatever network your posting to.

This cheat sheet lists all of the photo sizes for each kind of image – from profile to cover photo to photo posts – for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. Don’t have photo editing software to crop your images? Try a free service like PicMonkey.

I created this image in PicMonkey and cropped it for optimal display in the newsfeed. This post is for the Facebook page of the nonprofit I mentioned earlier. You’ll notice that I have a link in the text for this post because you can’t go to it by clicking the image:

Facebook Photo Crop for Post

Look great!

These tweaks take a few minutes, but they’ll make your posts look like the pros. Once you get in the habit of shortening your links, editing your link preview and cropping your photos, you’ll be able to optimize your social media content, look professional and attract the attention and engagement of your fans.

Got more tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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3 steps to testing content for your Facebook page

A common question I hear from people using Facebook for marketing is “What kind of content gets the most engagement?” There’s no easy answer I can give you. But what you can do is test to find out what topics and types your audience is interested in. And you can also take advantage of marketing research that shows what kind of content gets a typical Facebook user’s attention.

That’s what I did recently in September when I started volunteering with the Leominster Office of Emergency Management (LOEM) and helping with their Facebook page. Before I became involved with the page, the organization had been posting text updates about severe weather warnings and links to news or information about public health, safety and emergencies. This was important information that the page’s fans needed to know, but it wasn’t getting them much engagement, spreading the word about what the organization and its volunteers does, or helping to grow their fan numbers.

What was missing from the page was original content, posts that show what happens behind the scenes at LOEM, and photos. If you want to increase your engagement, photos are a great start. Photos get 2 times the engagement of text posts. Photos are also the No. 1 content type shared by Facebook users.

So, for the month of September, I tried posting more of that type of content, and the results showed that this is what the fans want. Here’s how I tested the content:

1.       Testing Post Types

Facebook Insights Post Types

We posted 4 text updates during the month and tried 5 photo posts. The text updates included the weather warnings and information about a community event. The photos showed LOEM volunteers in action at a fire and at a booth during an annual festival, as well as a post known as a word image that combined a stock photo of a first aid kit and 4 emergency preparedness tips and a link to more information online.  It’s clear from the stats shown above in Facebook Insights that photo posts get the most reach and engagement.

2.       Measuring Likes, Comments and Shares

Facebook Insights Likes Comments SharesThough photos received more clicks than likes, comments and shares, fans are showed through digital body language by just clicking that they’re interested. Of course I’d love more likes, comments and shares on the page, but the clicks are a good start and indicate strong interest. The activity shows Facebook that these fans want to see our page’s updates in the news feed. And the actions of likes, comments and shares can be seen by our fans’ friends in their news feeds, which gives us greater reach, more exposure and potential page likes. The behind-the-scenes and LOEM in action photos are starting to help spread the word about what the organization does. Since the September tests, there have been a few fan comments thanking volunteers for their work.

3.       Posting When Fans are Online

Facebook Insights When Your Fans Are Online

In recent months, as Facebook has updated its Insights, page admins now have access to some great data about when fans are online. The stat – found when you click on the Posts tab in the new Insights –  shows an average  of how many of your fans are online during each day of the week, as well as during each hour of the day.

So I decided to post 3 out of the 5 photo posts specifically using the When Your Fans Are Online data. The majority of our fans who are online using Facebook are viewing the site from early afternoon to late evening on any given day of the week, from 4 pm to 9 pm. This is pure speculation on my part, but based on the time of day and the gender of our engaged fans (65% women, 40% of them are ages 25-44), many of them may hold day jobs and may be parents. They are using Facebook after work or after their kids are in bed, so they have time to browse Facebook. By posting during those hours, our content has a better chance of being seen in their news feed.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t solely rely on the When Your Fans Are Online stats. Make sure you’re testing other days and times as well. But the stats are a great start to helping you find a frequency sweet spot.

Results and Moving Forward

There’s a lot more that you can test when posting Facebook content, but just looking at these 3 factors helped us determine that trying visual content that showed what the LOEM was about is a great start to improving the page.  As more people interacted with and commented on our content, that engagement was seen by their fans, and that helped to influence fan growth. The LOEM page gained 10 fans in September. To some people, that may not be a lot, but to a small organization, those small gains are a fantastic step forward. We’re continuing to post photos and testing to see what other types or topics our fans will engage with.

Need more Facebook help?

Check out my other posts on Facebook marketing or ask your questions in this post’s comments.

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Yes, you can create video content: Busting video myths

Video content is a marketing conundrum.

People love watching video. It’s content gold, but it’s a marketing challenge. Some marketers are hesitant to use it because video content creation is often misunderstood.

Today I want to set the record straight on video. Anyone can create an effective video, and it’s easier than you may think. Let’s bust some video myths:

Myth #1: I don’t know if my audience is interested in video

They are and I have the stats to prove it:

Instagram's tools allow you to edit your video's length. And yes, this is a video of my cat :)

Instagram’s tools allow you to edit your video’s length. And yes, this is a video of my cat :)

Myth #2: You need fancy, expensive equipment to create a video

Nope. If you have a smartphone, that’s all you need – no high-end video equipment, no expensive video editing software. What counts here is the content. Your video has to be interesting, engaging and useful for your audience.

And there are plenty of free video apps like Vine and Instagram. When Instagram recently added video, it included features that allow you to edit for length, change colors with filters, and pick your own cover image.

Myth #3: I need to spend a lot of time creating a long video that includes a lot of information

No you don’t. In fact, please don’t. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve worked on over the years for organizations that insist on long videos built to satisfy the needs of their internal organizations (bosses, board of directors, etc.). Your audience will not watch them because they were not built for them. They were built for the hierarchy of your internal organization. The only views they get are from the meeting or event the video was built for, and that’s it. A few years ago, I worked on projects that involved spending hours of dividing videos of long speeches into multiple parts of YouTube sized chunks. No one clicked on them.

Just because YouTube allows you to upload 15-minute-long videos doesn’t mean that you should. People have short attention spans. You’ll lose 10% of your viewers within the first 10 seconds.

So how long should your YouTube video be? The average I’ve seen on marketing blogs is between 2 and 3 minutes. Try testing different lengths. YouTube’s analytics will give you stats on the average time people spend on your videos, and at which point your viewers drop off.

Myth #4: Written content is better for my SEO

You absolutely need written content but video will drive visitors to your website, blog and other digital assets. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google – which owns YouTube. And 70% of search results are videos. So the more video content you have, the more likely it will be found in a search.

What’s holding you back now?

Hopefully nothing. Grab your smartphone and start shooting video! Got video questions or myths you want to be busted? Let me know in the comments.

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Ask Azure: Should I link to my email newsletter signup form in more than one place?

QuestionOne of my friends – who is a marketer for a small business – recently asked me this question:

Q: When people request a free sample or download our manual, there’s a link on those pages to sign up for our newsletter. I was thinking of adding the link to the automatic email they receive after they fill out the form for the sample or manual. Is that too much?

A: The short answer is no.

And here’s a long answer and explanation to back that up. When I switched careers from journalism to higher education PR/social media marketing about a decade ago (oh man, I’m old), I had a tough time with content reuse and using the same links on multiple web pages. “Won’t people get sick of seeing the same thing all over the place?” I thought.

But here’s the thing: People don’t pay attention. They’re not seeing the same thing over and over again. Why?

  • People don’t enter your website through the same place and take the path that you use or laid out for them to discover information. Maybe you have a link to your newsletter on your homepage (which you should have anyway!). But what if your most popular page is your events calendar? What if people find your blog first when they do a Google search? You never know how, when or what page people first enter your website. So if there are important resources or actions you want people to take, make that part of your template for every page.
  • Your audience is not the same group of people across your platforms. Your website visitors, blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Pinterest board followers might have some overlap, but all of those people are not going from channel to channel to follow your every move. Some might not know you have a presence in other places. Or they might forget to check! That happens to me all the time. I’ve been a fan of HGTV on Facebook forever, but did not even think about following them on Twitter until I saw one of their commercials that featured fan tweets. And right after I typed that sentence, I realized that I was not following the HGTV Pinterest boards either. Done! My point:  If you’re posting to one network more than others, the people on your other channels who aren’t following you there might miss it. And – for those of us who are following you on other channels – we’re all getting flooded with content, so even if we are following you on Facebook, we might miss a post there, but could see it in your newsletter or on Twitter instead.
  • No one is going to notice but you. Who knows every link, every photo, every bit of content on your website, blog, email newsletters, autoresponder emails, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+? You, your boss, and anyone else who works on marketing for your business. Everyone else is coming and going quickly, and bouncing along to the next thing. You are the only one scrutinizing your Facebook page for hours and hours. Reusing links and content is going to only look repetitive to you because you’re the only one seeing it everywhere.

Got a question? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to ask in the comments or send it to askazurecollier@gmail.com.

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Search and discover: Secret tips to finding and learning more about your connections on LinkedIn

I have more LinkedIn connections than Facebook friends – 371 on LinkedIn and 269 on Facebook. That’s because of my personal rules for adding people to those networks. I’m happy to connect with people on LinkedIn who I’ve worked with, known in person, or crossed paths with digitally. But I really don’t want all of those business contacts to have access to the personal details I share on Facebook.

Since Facebook tends to be a place where the conversation mostly leans toward personal than professional, I’ve found my LinkedIn community to be a place where I can learn more about the people in my network, tap into their collective skills of the people in my network, and discover new connections. And LinkedIn has a few resources to help me do that – some “secret” resources that you might not know about.

LinkedIn InMaps

This is my favorite LinkedIn feature. LinkedIn InMaps is a product of LinkedIn’s analytics team, and is an “interactive visual representation of your professional universe, based on the relationships between your connections.” InMaps organizes your contacts into color-coded clusters, and it’s pretty easy to tell what past jobs and connections have influenced each cluster.

Here’s what mine looks like:

Azure Collier LinkedIn InMap

The most interesting part of my InMap is the connections I’ve made during my current position at Constant Contact. I’ve been there a little over 2 years, and that’s the largest cluster of connections – even larger than connections by positions I’ve had for 4 or 5 years.

You can also see which people you’re connected to in your network are connected to others in your network, just by clicking their name. The larger that person’s dot is, the more shared connections you have.

Azure Collier LinkedIn InMap Connections

In this example, you can see visually who my colleague Dave Charest is connected to – their threads are darker than the non-connections. The right sidebar of the page lists that connection’s title, resume highlights, and some of your shared connections; there’s a link you can click on to see all of your connections.

LinkedIn Mobile Calendar

LinkedIn’s mobile app allows you to sync your phone’s Outlook calendar with your LinkedIn contacts so you can get to know more about the people you’re meeting and working with. To get started, click on the blue LinkedIn logo on the app, then choose calendar, and allow access to your phone’s calendar.

LinkedIn Mobile Choose Calendar

The calendar sync function automatically pulls invitees’ profiles and adds their photos to your scheduled events. In my case, most of my meetings are with people I already am connected to, but this is a great tool if you have meetings scheduled with people who are new to you, or are from other companies.

LinkedIn Mobile Calendar

Alumni Search Feature

Curious to see if any of your fellow college alumni work in your area and in your industry? LinkedIn makes this easy to do with their alumni search feature. To use it, click on Network in the LinkedIn menu bar, and then choose Find Alumni.

LinkedIn Find Alumni

LinkedIn will automatically pull alumni for the college in your profile – if you have degrees from multiple colleges, you can choose the one you want to search for.

Choose which graduation years you’re interested in, and you’ll see the top 5 cities, companies and careers for alumni from that time period. Want to see results for a certain city, company and career? Click See more at the bottom of the top 5 to expand for more options. Click on the ones you want, and find alumni connections in your field.

I searched for all graduation years – there aren’t a whole lot of Purdue University grads in the Boston area, but it was interesting to see that there were some fellow alumni nearby who are in marketing and communications. Go Boilers!

LinkedIn Alumni Search

Need more LinkedIn tips? Check out this post to learn how you can add projects to your LinkedIn profile and show off your work!

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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!

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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 shotsbut 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!

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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!

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5 years, 1,000 followers, and (almost) 5,000 tweets: What I’ve learned on Twitter

twitter-bird-white-on-blueThis month is my fifth anniversary with Twitter – I joined as @azurecollier in April 2008 – and as of today, I’ve grown to have a smidge over 1,000 followers and I’m pretty close to posting 5,000 tweets. To celebrate, I thought I’d take a look back and share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

1.      Tweet like a person, not like a robot

People do not want to interact with a robot that auto-generates posts when you update your blog, Facebook, Instagram, and anything that you can connect with Twitter, and just “set it and forget it.” They like helpful information, but they want to know why they should click on a link you’ve posted in a tweet. So, when I find interesting things I want to share, I try to make a comment about what I like about the thing I’m linking to or share a cool stat that I found in a blog post or article. Sometimes that’s hard to do in just 140 characters, but it’s worth it if you can be helpful to your followers!

2.      Negative words get attention, but make sure you include a positive message

Every time I post something that includes the words “Don’t do this!” or “mistakes” or “things that make you look dumb” or “social media crisis/fail”, I get lots of clicks. Why? Because you want to make sure you’re not doing these things! The negative words will catch your eye, and the reward is usually a post that includes not only the things you shouldn’t do, but also how you can fix it or how you can do it the right way.

3.      Sometimes reading is overrated

I’m a recovering ex-journalist, so I hate to say this, but it’s nice to take a break from scrolling and reading chunky paragraphs on a screen. Give the people what they want: something pretty to look at or listen to. Share infographics and videos, and make sure you use those words in the tweet. And write them in all caps to get people to notice (oh Twitter, when can we start using bold for emphasis instead of shouty caps?). Tell people there is a VIDEO or INFOGRAPHIC in this tweet.

Fellow tweeters also like PODCASTS. I’m a podcast junkie (what else are you going to do on an hour-long commute?), so when I hear something that’s relevant to what I do or is just really cool, I like to share it. Need podcast suggestions? I have a ton: The Speakeasy Marketing Roundtable (shameless plug, I am on this podcast), On Point, This American Life, Car Talk, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Radiolab, On the Media, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, WTF with Marc Maron, and Fresh Air. If you listen to ANY of these, your brain will thank you, and you will be on your way to becoming an official smarty pants.

4.      People like tips and things they can pin to their cubicle walls

I am always in search of social media stats, tips, trends, what’s new, and any best practices that I can have on hand for reference. So are the people who follow me. When I find something that is reference-worthy and can help me with content creation or can function as a marketing best practices checklist, I often include words like “bookmark this” or “print this out and pin it on your cube wall” – those tweets get lots of clicks and retweets. If you are someone who uses that kind of information, sign up for Diigo – a social bookmarking site. You can tag anything you add to your Diigo account so it’s easy to track down later.

5.      Tweet chats are helpful and will get you more followers

I’ve been a bit of a tweet chat slacker lately, but I definitely recommend them. I usually learn something, meet some new and smart people on Twitter, and get a few followers (if I add something interesting to the discussion!). Find tweet chats by topic on this Google Twitter Chat Master Schedule. If you see one you like, create an appointment for it in your calendar to remind you to attend.

6.     People like shoes, food, hilarious signs that have bad grammar, and videos of cats on Roombas wearing shark costumes and chasing ducklings

Since we’re not auto-posting robots and we’re talking like people on Twitter, it’s OK to not be all business all the time. Share your Instagram photos of your pets or a PacMan doodle on an office whiteboard. Post a link to 33 ingenious ways to store your shoes. Do not keep awesome things a secret. If you find an epic video of a cat wearing a shark costume who is riding on top of a Roomba and chasing a duckling (I am not making this up), you are obligated to share it with the Internets! Hilarious and interesting things are clicked, shared and retweeted all over the place. They might even cause you to ask a real live person sitting next to you: “Did you see this?!” You will laugh, have a shared experience with another human being, and enjoy yourself.

I have many more lessons to add to this list, but these are at the top of my mind today. Do you have any Twitter tips to share? Or more podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

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