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

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

The most important lesson from Facebook’s news feed upgrade announcement this week is this: multimedia is critical to your business’ success on Facebook.

Photos and videos will appear larger in the news feed – currently that content makes up 50% of the stream. And there’s a good reason for that. Facebook users are more engaged with multimedia than with text updates alone, or with text and a link. MBooth found that videos are shared 12 times more than link or text updates, and photos are liked 2 times more than text updates.

It makes sense. for Facebook users – your fans and followers – photos and videos are a huge part of their social media activity. A recent Pew Internet and American Life study shows that almost half (46%) of online adults post photos and video, while 56% have completed at least one photo-sharing activity.

For small businesses who are already using photos and video, the changes validate the time and effort they spend on creating that content. For those that aren’t, it’s time to take stock of your content creation for 2013, and change those New Year’s content resolutions. The top content types that small businesses in a BusinessBolts.com study planned to increase this year were written content; 53% wanted to focus on video, and 30% planned to increase photo creation. If your business placed multimedia towards the bottom of the list, your smartphone is going to be your new best friend.

The time is right for multimedia content, especially for small businesses on a small budget – no one has to purchase expensive equipment, or hire high-end professionals to show off their business. Everything you need is on your iPhone or Android. The tools are extremely easy to use, and you don’t have to spend hours on your photos or video. A couple of images in a small album or photo collage, or a short video (really short if you’re using 6 second clips from Vine) are all you need. If you haven’t already, download Instagram and Vine, and start capturing engaging, interesting visual content.

Timelape video for Community Builders/United Way

Check out this video I worked on for the Community Builders of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. It’s a timelapse of their Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day from last month. I’m very happy with how this turned out!

15 tips for using social media marketing for nonprofit events

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn't create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn’t create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

I’ve volunteered for my local United Way the last two years, but I’m not building houses, helping with community gardens or raising money. I’m using my social media marketing skills to help the agency with social media for their events.

My role is to engage their audience of volunteers and supporters before, during and after events, including traditional save-the-date/registration, thanking volunteers when the work is done, and creating and sharing multimedia. Most of the work takes place during the event day – including live posting and working with a group of volunteer photographers who provide images and video content.

After helping with several events – including annual Martin Luther King Jr. service days and the Day of Caring – I’ve learned a lot of tips on how to use social media for nonprofit event marketing, and I’d like to share a few of them with you:

Working with the nonprofit staff, volunteers and supporters

1. Create a content calendar – Meet with event organizers at least two months prior to your event to plan out your social media communications. Include save-the-date messages, registration reminders, linking to monthly newsletters, and highlighting sponsors and participating organizations. Balance your event content with your everyday content so you’re not just talking about the event all the time.

2. Meet with everyone who has access to the organization’s social media profiles – It’s important to review basic social media marketing best practices to prevent oversharing, to know who is posting what content, and to review social media etiquette (such as not liking your own posts).

3. Look before you post – If you are a Facebook admin, you will get alerts when a fan interacts with your page or content. You don’t get alerts if another admin has posted to the page. Even if you have planned your content with the other admins, someone will forget. Check the time and the date of the previous post to avoid oversharing.

4. Integrate your marketing – Remind event organizers to include links to the nonprofit’s social media sites on every communication that goes out about the event, and make sure you have a sentence or two that lets volunteers know that they can find event updates there during the event day.

5. Follow your supporters – It’s important to thank your supporters – those who gave money to your cause, as well as those who sent teams to participate in your event. Get a list of supporters before the event day. Make sure your nonprofit’s page likes their pages, and your Twitter account follows their accounts. When you thank them on Facebook or Twitter, tag them. They’ll be notified that someone’s talking about them, and any interaction they have with that content will be seen by their fans, and so on.

6. Encourage volunteers to participate – If your volunteers don’t know that you’ll be providing live updates throughout the day, they won’t know to check your Facebook page or tweet about the event. Let them know in your event communications. Tell them at the event kickoff. We have lots of younger volunteers at these events, so – at one point during event kickoffs – one of the organizers holds up their smartphone and tells volunteers it’s OK to use it. We usually create an event hashtag for Twitter, and we’ve been getting better about sharing it and the social media info during the kickoff –we had table tents with the Facebook URL, Twitter handle and Twitter hashtag on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. service day this month. Volunteers had plenty of time to pull out their smartphones and follow us as they were having breakfast.

Working with volunteer photographers

All of the events I’ve worked on have involved projects that require physical labor. A few of them have involved multiple locations, so the following are tips for working with volunteer photographers under those conditions:

7. Use Dropbox to gather multimedia –You’ve got multiple people who are shooting at multiple locations and are producing dozens of large image files. Dropbox is the easiest and best way for you to receive those images. Create a folder for the event and share it with your volunteers ahead of time. New Dropbox users have trouble navigating the site, so setting this up ahead of time and providing instructions for uploading photos will make it easy on your volunteers and yourself.

8. Minimize your uploads – During an event day, I’ll edit as many images as I can and post them all at once in a Facebook photo album around lunchtime to show fans the progress that’s being made. I’ll wait for more photos to come in, and then add the rest of the images that night or the next day in one bulk upload. By adding a ton of photos at once, that action appears once in the newsfeed and will keep me from oversharing.

9. Provide some photography guidelines

  • No butts – Volunteers who are working at the Day of Caring or the Martin Luther King Jr. service day are typically doing a lot of bending over – working in gardens, painting rooms, or hammering nails. So you’re going to get a lot of photos of butts unless you point this out to your photographers. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want a photo of myself bending over to appear on Facebook. Ask your photographers to slow down, take their time and find a more flattering angle.
  • Smiling and candid shots are great – These events are about working hard, but they’re also about teamwork and having fun. Encourage your photographers to get group shots at project sites. These are great images for nonprofits to add to their website, blog or promotional pieces about their programs.
  • Ask for the top 10 – Save yourself and your photographers some time by asking them to send you the top 10 photos from each project site. It’s not realistic to use every image that was shot that day – no one wants to look through a Facebook album of 300 images to try to find themselves.

Working at project sites

On event day, your role is dependent on technology, so make sure you have everything you need:

10. Wifi – Does the event site have wifi? If so, get the account name and password ahead of time. If not, consider purchasing a mifi/wifi card to create your own wireless hotspot.

11. Social apps – Are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, HootSuite, or TweetDeck installed on your phone? Do it before the event day so you’re not trying to remember logins and passwords on the fly.

12. Electricity – Are there outlets on site, and are there enough? You might think about bringing an extension cord to support your laptop power source and any chargers you need.

13. Batteries – Are all batteries charged for digital cameras and video cameras?

14. Cell phone contacts – Add your event staff and volunteer photographers ahead of time so you’re not digging through notes or paper lists to find their contact info.

15. GPS – If you’re traveling to several project sites, consider using an app like Waze to get turn-by-turn directions.

This is a long list, but it’s essential if you want to get the most out of social media for your nonprofit’s service days and events. If you can think of any other tips, please share them in the comments!

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

It’s been over a year since Facebook introduced cover photos for profile and business pages, and I’ve only changed mine 9 times. Why? That is a big space – 851 by 315 pixels. Whatever you put up there is huge, and you want it to be good, right?

That’s where Instagram comes in. Their filters and tools let you look like a photography rock star. Why not use all those great images you’ve been creating, and make them into your cover photo?

I’ve found 3 tools that will help you create a beautiful Facebook cover photo from your Instagram pics:

PicStitch

PicStitch (available for iPhone and Android) is a collage app with 70 different layouts. To create your cover photo, choose your layout, then click on Aspect in the tools on the bottom of the screen. After you choose Aspect, you have several sizing options; scroll until you see the one called FB Cover.

PicStitch FB Cover

To add your photos, click on any of the boxes in your collage layout and click the Edit tool. Then choose your Instagram images you’ve saved in your phone’s photo album or on Facebook. Once your photos are in place, click Export, and choose Facebook.

PicStitch Edited and Export

Statigram

Statigram is an Instagram management dashboard that tracks your Instagram stats, but did you know it’s another tool that you can use to make Facebook cover photo collage?

To get started, click the Promote tab, and scroll down to Profile Cover. Click the Create your cover button, and Statigram will automatically pull and size your images.

Statigram Create Your Cover Button

It takes a few minutes, but you get an easy-peasy way to create a cover photo. When your image is all set, right click it and choose Save image as to save to your computer. Then use Facebook to upload to your page.

Statigram Save Image As

InstaCover

The InstaCover site makes a Facebook cover photo that’s a bit similar to Statigram, but you get editing options. Start by choosing which Instagram account you want to pull from – it doesn’t have to be yours – by entering the Instagram ID. You could also make collages out of categories, tags, or photos you’ve liked. Choose your layout and spacing, and then click the Preview button.

Insta-Cover Choose Options

InstaCover pulls up a draft of your cover photo, which you can edit. Click the orange X in the top right of any photo to drag and drop to another spot, or delete it. When you delete it, InstaCover replaces it with another Instagram photo. Click the Final Preview button when you’re finished editing.

InstaCover Edit Drag and Drop

You’ll see the finished cover photo, and you can save it to your Facebook profile by clicking the Save to album on Facebook button.

Save InstaCover to Facebook

Changing your cover photo

None of these tools instantly changes your cover photo. You need to be on your page to do that.

Go to your Facebook page, and hover over the bottom right corner of your current cover photo. A Change Cover option will appear. Click Choose from Photos.

Change Cover

Select the new cover photo you just added to your Facebook page.

Choose from your photos

Voila! You now have a collage cover photo made from beautiful images you created with Instagram.

PicStitch Cover Photo

3 ways to promote your blog with social media

Stephanie Fielding

Stephanie Fielding

Today’s guest post is from my friend Stephanie Fielding, the fabulous woman behind Sandpaper & Glue.

Hi!

I’m Stephanie from Sandpaper & Glue, a DIY blog centered around first time home owning. I started my blog about a year and a half ago and have since earned a modest following not only on the blog, but on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as well. Here’s my two cents worth of tips, tricks, and experience:

1. Branding!

It’s strange to think that something as all about you as a blog needs an actual brand, but readers are quick and savvy and fleeting, and it’s important they know it’s YOU when they stumble upon something. Also, everyone uses social media differently and at different frequencies, so the more ways readers have to connect with you the better off you are. Here’s how that’s done:

Keep your names and look consistent

Create a logo or a pattern 

Sandpaper & Glue Logo

  • Put solid thought into what colors, style, patterns are most you – look around your house and at your wardrobe to see what you tend to be drawn to. I recently designed my whole blog for the new year, I created a new pattern for the background and a new header. This then meant I had to create a new thumbnail for my Google Reader and Blogger followers, a new Facebook cover photo (because headers are not the same dimension), new Facebook tab buttons, and a new Twitter background. Whew! (if you need a quick reference for social media photo sizes, check out The Ultimate Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet)
  • I happen to be handy at Photoshop, but PicMonkey.com is a free photo editing site I highly recommend you check out. Also keep in mind you don’t have to be an artist to create a brand; it can be as simple as picking a color scheme or sticking to a font.
  • Let me step back for a second and address something in that first bullet – create tabs on Facebook that match your brand. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you’d think; this article by Her New Leaf gives you step by step directions on exactly what to do. I made the images for mine in Microsoft Paint, and followed her directions and I had it done in less than an hour – doesn’t get much easier than that! To get my Twitter feed linked up as a tab, I installed this app, then just uploaded a new image. Please email me at SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any help with this!

2. Unique content is key! 

Sandpaper & Glue Pinterest Boards

You can’t expect people to follow you around the interwebs if they’re going to see the same thing everywhere they go. Of course you’re going to have some crossover: I have a Project Central board on Pinterest where I pin all my tutorials – but I have lots of other boards I pin to as well. My blog posts automatically link to Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to talk to other bloggers and reblog cool things they’re up to, and share giveaways they’re hosting. My Facebook page has a Twitter feed tab, and I sometimes put my blog post links as a status, but more often than not I ask questions or share images there.

3. Be yourself!

Pinterest Food Challenge

This one takes a while to figure out. I used to link up to a weekly fashion post about what outfits I wore that week, which was a good way to drive traffic to my blog. But I got bored with that real fast, and when I thought about it, I realized why: I don’t run a fashion blog, and the traffic I got was from readers interested in fashion, so they weren’t going to stick around. That’s when I got a little more clever and created the Pinterest Food Challenge. Once a month I cook something I’ve pinned, then I share the recipe and review it. (Don’t forget to create a logo for anything recurring!) This drives people from Pinterest to my blog, and vice versa. Think about how your social media can work with your blog in an interesting way, but just every once in a while because unique content is key. 🙂

So there you go – my two cents! I do hope my tips help, and feel free to get in touch with me through the Sandpaper and Glue blog or SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any assistance or have any questions!

Why George Takei is a Facebook superstar

Rainbow StarsI’ve never been a Trekkie, so I missed George Takei as Sulu in the original Star Trek series, but I knew who he was. When he popped up occasionally as Howard Stern’s official announcer (I know – shocking. I listen to Stern. Sometimes. His celebrity interviews are amazing!), I thought – hey, what a nice, funny, laid-back, sweet guy.

And that’s exactly what George Takei brings to social media.

Takei has the kind of following and audience engagement that social media managers dream of – 3.2 million Facebook fans, more than 500,000 Twitter followers, 250,000 Pinterest followers, and a hilarious Tumblr page.

When he was on WBUR’s On Point last week, I tuned in to hear the secret to his Facebook success (to hear the interview, check out the On Point podcast – the whole podcast is fantastic, but the Facebook stuff starts at 37 minutes in). Here’s what he revealed:

Show me the funny

Takei originally jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote his new musical, Allegiance. He wasn’t sure what kinds of content to post at first. “In order to get the likes, we kind of experimented. How do we get the likes?” He quickly found out what his audience wanted. Anytime he shared something funny, he got a lot of likes. But visual content hit the home run – photos and funny memes got even more engagement. This is something we’ve been hearing for a while. I couldn’t find any stats on humorous posts, but there’s plenty of data about images and video. Visual content rules: photos are 5 times more popular than text updates, and videos are shared 12 times more than links or text.

Don’t stop

Facebook fans want consistency. If they like your page and they’re engaging with your content, don’t leave them hanging. They might forget about you. And – according to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula – the more someone engages with your page, the more you’re going to show up in their news feed. “If we’re on regularly, more and more people will come to expect to find us – regularity. And so we kept growing and growing,” Takei said.

Regularity does not mean posting every hour. But don’t speak to your fans once a week either. You have to balance your content and frequency, and Takei does that well because he knows his audience. They love his content. It’s something they look forward to seeing in their news feed, so they’re OK with a few posts a day. On the day I’m writing this blog post, Takei has shared content 3 times, and I haven’t seen one complaint about posting too much. This may not be the case with your page – 33% of fans have unliked a Facebook page because they posted too many updates. The important lesson here is to test. What is the engagement, new likes and unlikes on days that you posted several times vs. just once? Let your audience tell you what their limit is.

Ask for help

Takei is a celebrity, so of course he can hire people to do his marketing – in the early days of his social media management, he started with an intern, and now has a small staff. But that doesn’t mean you have to do this on your own. If you have the money and can hire someone, or have a person on your staff that can take on your social media marketing, that’s great!

If you don’t, you can still get help for free. Reach out to other social media marketers in your industry and ask them for advice. Find a LinkedIn group in your industry or create your own. Network via a Tweet Chat. Attend free social media events in your area or start your own by creating a Meetup group. Read as many social media marketing blogs as you can for tips and best practices (thank you for reading mine!). I suggest the Constant Contact blog (of course!), Mashable, HubSpot, Likeable, Social Media Examiner, Content Marketing Institute, and MarketingProfs. That’s just a few – there are many, many more out there. And if you have any recommendations of who to read, I’d love to hear them!

Have a digital suggestion box

A lot of Takei’s content is contributed by fans, and he makes sure to give them credit. “The material is really what my fans send me. The commentaries are mine. That is genuinely me. But I do not take credit for the memes. They are very clever, very funny, and I’m very grateful that I have those clever, funny meme creators,” he said. This is a smart move – you can’t be everywhere at once, and – even if you have a staff – you can’t find every interesting bit of content that’s out there. So encourage your fans to share. With 3 million fans, Takei has a lot of digital eyes and ears scanning the interwebs to find EdgeRank gold.

Nice guys can finish first

Though most of Takei’s content is very visual and very funny, what comes across to me most is just how nice he is. And that’s just who he is – his Facebook page is his personality. He’s the same guy on Howard Stern’s show as he is in the On Point interview, and in any news story I’ve read about his social media success. There’s no negativity on his page, which is very rare because everyone (guilty!) lets the crankiness get to them from time to time, and shares their bad days online. I think this caller – a woman named Pax – from the On Point interview says it best: “It’s how you’ve reinvented yourself now – as a beacon of kind and clever and informed humor in the face of all the fake behavior that we’re barraged with in our society that has made me a devoted fan.”