Social media’s secret inboxes: How to find your hidden messages on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

You spend hours each week scanning through your Facebook news feed, scrolling past pics on Instagram, and checking to see who was clicking on your LinkedIn profile. You have push notifications on your phone, email notifications hitting your inbox, and reminders popping up in your browser so you don’t miss a conversation.

I hate to break it to you, but you are missing some messages. Some social networks have installed secret inboxes that you don’t know about.

Who has them and how do you get to them? I’ll show you.


Facebook has two secret inboxes buried behind your main Facebook Messenger inbox. Here’s how to find them:

Start by going to the Facebook News Feed and clicking the Messages feature on the top left menu to access Facebook Messenger.


You’ll see your current inbox from Facebook Messenger, but have you ever clicked the Message Requests option on the top? This is the first secret inbox and these messages are from people Facebook thinks you might know. I’ve had some legitimate message requests sent here from people I’ve actually met, and I’m glad I checked them!


Click the More dropdown menu on the right, and you’ll see even more inboxes for unread, filtered, and archived messages. The filtered messages – Facebook’s second secret inbox – are from people you’re not Facebook friends with and they’re placed in a secret inbox because Facebook thinks that the sender may be trying to send you spam. Judging by the images I’ve seen here, Facebook is right.



You may know about Instagram’s direct messaging inbox that allows you to send messages and photos to other Instagram users you’re connected to. Within the last few months, Instagram snuck in a little update to this inbox called Message Requests that allows people you aren’t connected to on Instagram to send you messages as well.

To find your Message Requests, start by opening up Instagram and going to the News Feed. Click on the inbox on the top right of the screen.

Instagram Messages 1.png

You’ll see any previous messages listed here in your regular inbox, but if you see a blue strip at the top that has a number and the words Message Requests, then you’ve got messages in this secret inbox. If the blue strip doesn’t appear, then you don’t have any messages waiting for you here.


Click on the Message Requests notification to get to the messages. Click on them to read them. You can click the Allow button to let the sender know you’ve seen the message and write a response. When you allow a message, future messages from that sender will appear in your direct inbox. If you click the Decline button, you can ignore the message.



LinkedIn has two kinds of secret inboxes: one is in your regular inbox and the other can be found in your connection requests. They contain communications from blocked users that I’m assuming – I couldn’t find details on this – that LinkedIn believes are people you may not know and are trying to spam your profile.

To find your secret message inbox on LinkedIn, start by clicking the messages feature on the top menu bar.


Then, click the All Messages dropdown menu near the top of the page and select the blocked messages.


At some point, LinkedIn started filtering your connection requests and they’ve hidden them in a secret inbox. It’s definitely important to check these because I’ve found some legitimate requests there from people I actually know. Don’t leave them hanging!

You can find these hidden requests by going to LinkedIn and clicking on the invitations feature on the top menu.


LinkedIn will show you your pending invitations and a list of people you may know. Click on the dropdown menu on the right of the pending invitations and select Blocked invitations.


The list of LinkedIn users whose invitations are blocked will appear on a new screen.


The secret’s out!

Now that you know about the secret inboxes on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I hope you check them out and I hope you find something interesting there! It’s not always spam. Don’t ignore these messages. They might be from actual people you know that have been waiting to hear from you.


Social media search tips you may not know about for Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

What do you do when you want to search for something online?

You probably open up Google in your Internet browser and type in your search, right?

But what if you’re in the middle of using a social network? You’d have to leave the webpage on your desktop or app on your smartphone and start your search on Google.

Social networks don’t want you to leave, so they’ve built in some helpful search tools you may not know about. In case you haven’t been using them, here are a few tips on using three social networks – Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram – to conduct a search.

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook introduced its Graph Search tool (the search bar at the top of Facebook’s desktop page or smartphone app) in 2013. It pulls information from Facebook’s big data resources – as well as your relationships, activity, and pages you like – to help you find people, pages, posts and other options based on your search query. To be honest, it’s not the easiest search tool, but once you start trying some searches, you’ll learn what types of queries Graph Search responds to in order to produce the best results.

Here’s a few examples of some things you might use Graph Search to discover:

  1. Friends who live in certain locations

If you’re traveling and wondering which of your friends live in your destination city, try using the search “friends in” and adding the city. You can see what happened when I searched for friends who live in Boston:

Facebook Graph Search Friends in Boston

  1. Friends who work at a business

If you’re job searching, networking, or trying to do business with another business, you may want to try finding out who you know who works at the business to get your foot in the door. Try this search: “my friends who work at” and the name of the business. Here’s my search for friends who work at my former employer, Fitchburg State University:

Facebook Graph Search Friends Who Work At.png

  1. Friends who like a Facebook page

Let’s say you like a business page of a new restaurant, but you haven’t gone there yet and you want to know how good the food is. Or you like a business page and have a question about its return policy. You might want to check with friends who are familiar with the business. Enter these search terms: my friends who like” and the name of the business. This is what happens when I search for my friends who like Southwest Airlines:

Facebook Graph Search Friends Who Like.png

  1. Local business directory

Just about every business has a Facebook page, which means Facebook can be used as a directory for local businesses. For example, if you’re looking for a specific type of restaurant, like Italian restaurants in Boston, enter those terms into the search box, and then click the Pages tab to show the pages of the businesses that match the search terms. This is a search I did to find Italian restaurants in Boston:

Facebook Graph Search Italian Restaurants in Boston.png

Pinterest Visual Search

Pinterest has text search tools like other networks, but what makes Pinterest really stand out with search is its visual search tool that finds other pins that share the same image. The visual search tool is available on any pin.

Get started by clicking on a pin that has something in the image you’d like to search for to see Pinterest pins containing similar items. When you find a pin you like, click on it to enhance its size, and then access the visual search tool by clicking the magnifying glass in the top right of a pin.

Pinterest Visual Search Magnifying Glass.png

The search tool opens a search box that you can resize over the pin to focus on a specific item in an image, or you can resize it over the entire pin. Once you’ve set the search box size, Pinterest visual search will show you pins that match your image.

If you see an icon next to the word from and a business name under the images in pins that show up in the search results, these are product pins, which means it’s easy for you to buy the product pictured in this pin. Product pins are linked to retailers’ websites – the retailers add code on their site that connects their web content to their Pinterest profile and content – which means that you can click on the pin and go directly to the retailer’s website to purchase the product.

Pinterest Visual Search Results.png

Instagram’s Local Search

Because of the location tags you can add to Instagram posts, Instagram has become a great way to find out what’s going on at locations near you.

Start by going to the search bar in Instagram and clicking the Places tab. Instagram will offer a search for places near your current location, as well as suggested cities nearby. Click the Near Current Location to find locations that have been recently tagged in Instagram posts.

Instagram Search 1.PNG

Choose one of the locations in the list.

Instagram Search 2.PNG

Instagram will show you a map of that location, a list of the top 9 posts from that location (posts that have gotten the most engagement – likes, comments, and shares), and a reverse chronological list of the most recent images that have been tagged with the location.

Instagram Search 3.PNG

Why would you want to use this? You could be visiting a new city and looking for something to do. You could be bored and want to find out if there’s anything worth checking out in your area. Or you could have plans to attend a place or event, and you can check out the recent images from the location to see if it’s worth checking out.

What are your favorite search tips?

These are the social media search tips I use the most, but there are tons of ways to search using social networks. What are your favorites? Did I miss some big ones? Let me know in the comments.

Instagram features you may not be using

Instagram is a fantastic tool for taking, editing and sharing photographs, but are you taking full advantage of all the features it offers? Here’s a few options that you may not know about:

  1. The Layout app

OK, technically Layout is a separate app from Instagram, but it was created by the folks at Instagram. Layout allows you to quickly combine multiple photos from your phone into a collage. Choose the images you want, and Layout will automatically give you photo collage suggestions.

Layout Choose Photos for Collage

Scroll through the options and click on any of the images to switch them, rotate, or choose a mirror image option.

Layout Edit Collage

When you have the collage you want, upload it to Instagram, Facebook or a few other options. If you’re sharing it through Instagram, follow the regular steps to edit and post to your feed.

Layout Share Collage

  1. Location tagging

Did you know that you can tag your Instagram images with a location? Instagram uses geotargeting – if your phone’s privacy settings are turned on – to offer location suggestions. When you’re filling out your photo caption on the “Share to” screen, turn the Add to Photo Map function on, and then click on Name This Location.

Instagram Select Add to Photo Map

Choose a location or create a new one.

Instagram Choose Location

The location will appear on the “Share to” screen.

Instagram Share Image with Location Tag

When you share your photo, it will be tagged with the location.

Instagram Click on Location Tag for Photo

Want to see more photos that were taken at that location? Click on the tag. You’ll be able to scroll through images that share the same location tag. This is a great way to find out more about a location, and to show you’re a loyal fan!

Instagram Photos with Location Tag

  1. Managing filters

Instagram recently added some options that will help you organize your filters so that you’re using the ones you like the best. To organize your filters, click and hold to highlight a filter. You can drag it anywhere on the row so that your favorites appear at the front of the list. If there are filters you hate and never use, drop them to the middle of the screen to hide them.

Organize Instagram Filters

Have you used any of these Instagram features? Which one do you like best?

Pin this blog post!

Instagram features you may not be using

6 tricks to get more clicks

6 Tricks to Get More Clicks

Anyone who uses social media marketing to promote themselves or their business wants people to see and interact with all the content they’re sharing. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen. You have an off day, a post that gets less engagement than you had hoped, or nothing but crickets.

But there are a few things you can do with your social posts to increase the odds of engagement. Here are 6 tricks to get you more clicks.

1. Use hashtags

Hashtags help to highlight the topics you’re talking about in a social post and make your content more searchable. And they’re used on all the social networks. When you use a hashtag, the network will turn it into a link, and when you click on it, you’ll see all the posts on that network that also use that hashtag. When people click on those hashtags, your post will be shown as part of that conversation. Take a look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram and see what topics are trending. Use relevant hashtags for those topics in your post, and your content will be more likely to be seen by a larger audience.

When Spike TV’s Frankenfood truck stopped by my office to give out free samples and publicize the show, I took an Instagram photo, and shared it on Twitter, using their #frankenfood hashtag in both places. Frankenfood saw the tweet and retweeted it, resulting in a 52 engagement actions, including 14 link clicks, 11 clicks on the tweet to expand it, 9 clicks on the photo, and 7 favorites.

Frankenfood hashtag

2. Use the hashtag #mostpopular
Everyone is interested in the latest trends – we want to know what everyone is talking about, what’s popular. Why can’t it be your content?

If you’ve been using a link shortener like or Hootsuite’s when you’re sharing links to your content or curated content, check your stats at the end of the week. Which of your posts got the most engagement? Retweet yourself or repost on Facebook using the same link and tell your followers it was your best content of the week by adding the hashtag #mostpopular. Anyone who read it or missed it will see that it was trending and they’ll be curious – why was this so popular?

A few weeks ago, I tweeted a link to a blog post about the Seinfeld emoji app, and also shared the link to the blog post on Facebook.

Original Tweet Seinfeld Emojis

It got the most clicks out of my tweets that week, so I retweeted it that Friday as my #mostpopular tweet, and got a few more clicks.

MostPopular Tweet Seinfeld Emojis

3. Use an interesting fact, stat or tip

People love trivia and learning little nuggets of information that help them connect the dots about what’s happening in the world around them. Think about the content you personally or your friends share on Facebook. I bet there’s at least one thing that shows up in your news feed that makes you think “Hey! I didn’t know that. Pretty cool.” Do the same thing for your followers. Share something that makes you say that, but make sure it’s relevant to your business and your social voice, and link to the news story or blog post that talks about the stat, fact or tip.

Make it stand out visually – create some graphics with free tools like PicMonkey or Canva to Illustrate your stat, fact or tip. Share the image in your social post and link back to the blog post or article.

Here’s a tweet I posted that includes a link to tips on finding the best time to post on social media. People are always looking for tips like this!
Social media posting tips
4. Share multimedia
By now, it’s no secret that photos, video and graphics get more engagement than a text post. It’s why all of the top networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram have either improved the quality of the display of visual posts in their newsfeed, or added it or are all visual. If you haven’t started sharing multimedia, what are you waiting for?

Post photos to visualize your blog posts. Post photos on their own. Show off what you do, what you sell, or what happens behind the scenes (to show off your personality). You don’t need a professional camera for this. Use that gadget you keep in your pocket all day and on your bedside table at night – your smartphone. Smartphone cameras have improved a lot. That’s one of the reasons your iPhone is so expensive. It’s a fancy camera! Just make sure your photos are sized appropriately for the social network you’re posting to. Not sure what size you need? Check out this handy social media size guide for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

This is a simple photo collage I shared on Twitter when our office started offering manicures at work from Manicube. You can see it got some nice engagement when you view the stats via Twitter’s analytics tools – 13 clicks to view the photo, 10 clicks on the link (which linked to the original Instagram photo), a few favorites, retweets and clicks on my profile. Pretty sweet!


Manicube Tweet

Please promise me that you won’t use your iPad or whatever tablet you own to take pictures. That’s embarrassing. It looks like you’re holding up a book and smashing your face in it. Just don’t. Cameras are tiny. Use your smartphone.

Your phone also records video, so share that too. Record a greeting to your fans – tell them what’s new. Or try a how to video that includes instructions on how to use one of your products. Just make sure the video is short. Attention spans have changed – more than half of viewers will stop watching a video within the first 90 seconds.

5. Tag people
If you want people to see your posts, sometimes you have to do something that personally asks them “Hey would you please click on this?”.Try tagging people in your posts. When you tag someone, they get a notification and they’ll be more likely to click on your post and share with their networks, which gets you more clicks.

But don’t be obnoxious about it, like this person. It’s like they’re on a public sidewalk shoving a flyer in my face: “HEY I DON’T KNOW YOU, BUT READ THIS THING!” First of all, I don’t know who you are and if you’re credible. Secondly, you clearly aren’t a social media expert because you didn’t shrink your link in your Twitter post and you maxed out your 140 characters with a long link. So no, I might not like your post. Also, I might just block you and report you for spam.

Tagging Don't

How do you do it the right way? Relevance. Tag them if you or someone else mentions them in the thing you’re linking to (like a blog post). Tag them if you have a relationship with a person and you know them well enough that they would be interested in the thing you’re linking to. I tag my alma mater, Purdue University, when I see a blog post or news article that mentions them or their community (which is also my hometown). Sometimes they are very generous and retweet me, which gives my tweet more exposure to their 44,000 followers. Here’s a recent tweet I shared about a Forbes article that listed my hometown as one of the top places for small businesses and careers. It’s relevant to Purdue so they retweeted it. According to Twitter’s analytics, the link got 66 clicks!

Tagging in Tweets

6. Post on multiple networks

Another great way to get clicks is to post the same content on multiple social networks so that more people will see it. You don’t have to be on every network – just the ones that are relevant to you and your audience.

It’s OK to post on multiple places because your followers aren’t exactly the same people following you every place. If you were to print out a list of your Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Instagram followers, etc., you might have some overlap, but there could be some people who follow you on one or a few places, but not all. Don’t isolate your content to one network – people might not catch it there if they follow you on a different network. Or if they are following you on multiple places, well, clearly they like you. They won’t mind seeing the same thing a few times – in fact, they might scroll by and make a mental note to read your content later when they see it on Facebook, and make the move to click when they pass by it on Twitter.

Just make sure that you are not auto-posting and blasting out the same exact thing to multiple places. Keep in mind the nuances and etiquette of posting on each channel. If you’re auto-posting your Facebook posts to Twitter, those Facebook posts won’t work as tweets. If you exceed the 140 character limit in your Facebook post, it will get cut off on Twitter, which means a long link you post on Facebook might end prematurely in your tweet. Also, if you’re not changing up the content a little bit for each channel, you’re not really giving people a reason to follow you in multiple places.

Also, make sure you are shrinking your link so you can tell where the traffic came from. I shortened the link to an infographic I created and shared it on my personal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Notice how each of the posts are a little bit different:

Facebook Post

Twitter PostLinkedIn Post

According to HootSuite, it got 22 clicks in the first 24 hours. On the day I posted it, it was the only one of the links from my tweets that I shared on multiple networks. You can see referrals came in from LinkedIn and Facebook.

Social Media Infographic Stats

How do you get clicks?

These are just 6 examples of how to get engagement with your content. How do you do it? Leave your tips in the comments or link to tips that you’ve seen on other blogs. I’d love to learn a few new tips!

My top 5 of 2013

2013On this last day of 2013, I wanted to take a look back at my blog and the topics that spoke to my readers the most. I reached a milestone this year – 10,000 views – and these are the top 5 posts you were interested in:

1. Make your LinkedIn profile stand out by adding projects

This is by far the top post people come to my blog for. If you haven’t read the post, it has instructions on how to create a visual, creative portfolio by adding links to your projects in the Summary or Experience areas of your LinkedIn profile

2. 3 tools that will help you measure and optimize your Instagram engagement

As Instagram’s popularity grew in 2013, people were interested in getting the most out of their Instagram content and measuring how effective it was. This post gives you 3 tools to do that – Statigram, SimplyMeasured, and Twitrland.

3. 3 tools that will turn your Instagram images into a Facebook cover photo

If you’ve been taking Instagram photos, they probably look better than other photos you’ve snapped with your smartphone, thanks to Instagram’s magical filters. So it makes sense that Instagram users want to show those off in their Facebook cover photo. This post has instructions on how to use PicStitch, Statigram, and  InstaCover to do just that.

4. 3 tools to analyze the impact of your personal Facebook profile

Most marketing blogs are focused on how to create and measure effective content for Facebook business pages. I really haven’t seen anything to show how your network of friends and family interact with your personal Facebook profile. This post looks at 3 tools – WolframAlpha’s Facebook Report, Klout, and My Social Strand – and how to analyze what content your personal network likes.

5. How can your business get noticed in the new Facebook news feed? More visual content

In 2013, Facebook made several changes to the look of its News Feed and what kind of content is seen by fans. Those changes reflect something that Facebook users have been telling us for a while: they want more photos and videos.

Thanks to all of my readers for checking out my posts this year! I look forward to writing more posts to help you with social media marketing in 2014. Happy New Year!

How to get volunteers involved in social media during your nonprofit event

I recently volunteered with the social media marketing for my local United Way’s Day of Caring for the third year in a row. If you haven’t heard of this event, it’s a day-long volunteering event where United Way chapters pair employees of local businesses with service projects at local nonprofits. I’ve written about volunteering for them before, and focused on how nonprofits can use social media to promote their events.

This year I noticed more social media participation from volunteers, which is key for nonprofits. Their volunteers are their biggest supporters, and social media provides an easy way for them to create social visibility for nonprofit causes.  What did we do this year to encourage conversation?  Check out these tips to get volunteers to share your event on social media.

My Instagram college from the Day of Caring kickoff.

My Instagram college from the Day of Caring kickoff.

Start at the kickoff

Over the last 3 years, we’ve become more vocal to volunteers about sharing their day on social media. Don’t just assume that people will take photos and post them or tweet using your event hashtag. Tell them to do it. Encourage them. The event kickoff is a great place to plant the seed. We add it to the “housekeeping” portion of the event kickoff speeches. Everyone is listening to instructions at that time, so we will list Facebook and Twitter URLs and the event hashtag on the screen, and our speaker will hold up their smartphone and reassure volunteers that they can and should use them during the day.

Send staff to the sites

The Day of Caring involves more than 600 volunteers at 62 project sites. Throughout the day, the sites are visited by project leaders, United Way staff and volunteer photographers. The organizers and photographers remind the volunteers – many of whom are already capturing their day with their smartphones – to share their experience on social media. And the volunteer photographers remind them that their photos can be found later on the United Way Facebook page.

Encourage people to tag themselves

When I posted the event’s photo album on Facebook, I tagged businesses, nonprofit agencies who have Facebook pages, and any people that I was personally connected to as friends. They’ll all get a notification that they’ve been tagged. The tagging and any activity they create when they check out the photo album will be seen by their friends in the newsfeed, and that creates social visibility among their networks.

Post when your fans are online

One of the best updates to Facebook Insights has been the When Your Fans Are Online stats. This tool looks at your fans over the most recent week, and determines the average number of your fans who are using Facebook on each day of the week and each hour of the day.

If you haven’t found this tool yet, the steps are below:

Step 1 and 2 When Your Fans are OnlineStep 3 When Your Fans are OnlineStep 4 When Your Fans Are Online

The Day of Caring took place on a Thursday, and Facebook Insights showed me that the highest number of fans were online at 9 pm on a Thursday. That’s when I shared the photo album and got great results – our content got 52 likes, 18 comments and 8 shares.

Share your volunteers’ posts

One great way to capture the conversation online during your event is to create a Storify story, which is a collection of social media content from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and more. You can do a search for your event hashtag and save all the public content that’s been posted. When you publish your story, you can also notify the people you quoted that they are mentioned in your content. Here’s a partial screenshot of the Storify story I created for this year’s Day of Caring.


Want more nonprofit tips?

Check out my previous posts on social media and nonprofits:

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.