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top of mind marketing Facebook 3D camera 2

Facebook Rolls Out 3D Camera

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Mark Zuckerberg spent most of last quarter mired in controversy for indiscriminately sharing millions of Facebook users’ account details with third-party vendors. His punishment? Peeling off that ratty tee-shirt, donning his first-ever big-boy suit and tie and testifying before Congress. He was completely MIA for a few weeks as his handlers schooled him in the art of humility. Among his tasks: Explaining to a group of aging politicians that cookieshave no relation to one of America’s favorite desserts. There was clearly a knowledge gap between Zuckerberg and his audience—these legislators had little understanding of the power of data mining or the value of user information.

While Zuckerberg was defending himself to Congress, his team was creating new functionality

At the company’s annual developer’s conference in May, Facebook showcased new visual tools that focus on the platform’s augmented-reality (AR) capacity.

Facebook introduces their new 3D camera

You can now download Facebook’s free 3D camera to your mobile device and take three-dimensional (3D) pictures and upload them to your Facebook News Feed and other apps. The 3D posts provide a whole new layer to images that respond when users scroll past or angle their phones.

Time for a reality check

To try this out, I took a few photos and uploaded them to my own News Feed to see if the camera really worked. I was delighted to see that the new images really do provide an interesting new dimension. The 3D camera has an editing tool so you can filter, enhance, highlight, crop or add text to an image. You can take a new picture or pull up an existing image from your smartphone’s photo library and turn it into one that’s multidimensional. You can upload your new 3D image directly to your Facebook News Feed, Instagram, iCloud Photosharing or WhatsApp applications.

Facebook and VR: enticing us with great new functionality

Facebook is making a significant investment in virtual reality (VR), betting that 3D will be an important component of social communication’s future. While this may be the future, it’s still a long way off. To transition users from their regular social feeds to full VR environments, Facebook will be providing little stepping stones that hint at what the next evolution will be. While the 3D photo may seem like a modest step, the new imaging will make users more interested in how they view images and enhance their own photos. With more than 2 billion smartphone and Facebook users around the world, I’m betting these 3D images will quickly become disseminated across our social channels.

Look for more new tools from Facebook

In the coming months, look for Facebook to introduce visual enhancements that will showcase new ways to engage with Facebook content. Watch Party lets users watch video while chatting with friends.Dating Home enters the online dating space, accessible by clicking on a small heart icon.Facebook is counting on its users to embrace the new functionality that will broaden and enhance our content experiences.

Need help with your and content marketing program? Contact Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

 

top of mind marketing Facebook algorithm change: what this means for you

Facebook’s Algorithm Change: What This Means for You

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If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Facebook has rolled out a major algorithm change. They’re veiling this as an effort that will take us back to simpler times, to Facebook’s origins, before social exploded, when things were purer, warmer and fuzzier, when it was about connecting with friends and family. According to Zuckerberg:

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

The first place we’ll see these algorithm changes will be in our News Feeds. We can expect to see fewer posts from brands and businesses, a greater focus on our friends and family and groups. “And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.”

So what does this mean?

It means that it just got a whole lot harder to grow your reach on your Facebook page. The classic Facebook engagement tips haven’t changed. If you expect to engage, these are the guidelines:

  • Create meaningful, high-quality content. So who decides what is quality content? It must be true. It can be funny or sad and makes us think.
  • Add value. I always think of value as providing information that will help someone do his/her job. It informs, educates.
  • Get consumers to genuinely interact with you. It’s really, really hard to elicit a response from our audiences, but it happens by building trust and familiarity.
  • Avoid clickbait. Clickbait is apparently dead, but I still see it all the time. I get news flashes from a range of news sites. They are all promising breaking news about the Trump administration and Russiagate. Tantalized, I click on this little clickbait morsel, knowing full well that the information I’m dealt likely will be a tired rehash old information.

How Facebook’s algorithms will affect your posts

In the near future, posts from brand and publishers will be scored differently from posts from friends. The score is based on your relationship with the poster, your interaction history, the type of content—all calculated by Facebook’s News Feed algorithm. Facebook is using your engagement history to determine which posts are most likely to keep you clicking. Sound like power tripping? Well, yes.

The expectations?

Time spent on FB and some degree of engagement will decline. The exact impacts of the change are not yet known, but what is clear is that Page post reach will decline. How significant an impact that will have on your content distribution and performance will come down to your approach.

Ad prices expected to rise

Here’s the rationale. If people are spending less time watching funny videos and consuming fake news on Facebook, people will be less likely to advertise. Brands and publishers will spend more on Facebook ads to revive their declining organic reach.

The bottom line

Facebook will prioritize posts based on the amount of meaningful discussion they generate. Long responses and replies will do well in the new FB environment.

One more thing: Why did Facebook make this algorithm change? Remember that thing where the Russians spent $300K on political advertising during the runup to the 2016 election? Zuckerberg and other tech titans were hauled before Congress for a come to Jesus. To talk about corporate social responsibility. This well may have been a response. Or not. Zuckerberg is insanely wealthy, but he also has a social conscience. He and his wife started a nonprofit, but rather than make this a 501(c)3, the created an LLC. In this way, they would be free of the constraints on reporting, lobbying and political campaign activity that are imposed by nonprofit status.

Do you need help developing and managing a marketing plan that includes social media? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and marketing experts.  

top of mind marketing_using emoji to make an emotional connection

Emoji on Social: Up a Whopping 776%!

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Looking back on 2017, I remember a year filled with gut-wrenching political turmoil and anguish, devastating natural disasters, protest marches and the rise of an aggressive right wing. It’s been a year filled with anxiety and dread. We have learned how important democracy, freedom of speech and the rule of law are as they are threatened and undermined on a daily basis.

Completely oblivious to the year’s upheaval, emoji are happily flourishing

Consider for a minute the outrage sparked across social when Google made a cheeseburger emoji with the cheese misplaced. Even the CEO got involved to make sure the cheese would be moved to its proper spot, above the patty where everyone knows it belongs.

Content that evokes an emotional response is more likely to be shared

With clickbait thankfully going extinct, there seems to be an emerging trend in the top content on social media: Content that provokes an emotional response is more likely to get shared.

Examining the top Facebook posts in September, the stats show that the posts with the most shares also had a higher percentage of reactions. And more publishers are using emoji in captions, perhaps to elicit that emotional response. It all goes back to the premise that good marketing tells a story. It reaches people on an emotional level. Clearly, emoji are helping to make that emotional connection.

Charting the growth of emoji 

The use of emoji in the top 100 headlines jumped from a mere six in fall 2015 to 28 in fall 2016. At 52 emoji-sprinkled headlines in 2017, it’s clear that this trend isn’t slowing down. The big jump in emoji usage is happening among news publishers. In fall 2015, there wasn’t a single emoji in the top 100 news posts. One year later, in 2016, this number jumped to 10; by the fall of 2017, the number had more than doubled to 24. This stat helps explain their popularity: Four out of every ten millennials would rather engage with pictures than read.

top of mind marketing emoji on facebook

News publishers are catching up to the trends that have been working for viral publishers

What types of stories use emoji from news publishers? Breaking news, hard news and tragedies are less likely to have emojis associated with them. So how do publishers strategically use emoji? Not really surprising—emoji are lighthearted and whimsical; they’re meant to delight and for the most part, they deliver. Emoji developers keep adding to the inventory, and they’re great fun! I like to think of emoji as the print version of adding a sticker to a letter or other document. A bit frivolous and totally unnecessary. Just as there are words and phrases that elicit the best response in your headlines—You need to, The greatest ever, That will rock your, etc.–are inappropriate for serious topics, so emoji are often a bad fit for hard news and serious topics.

Who uses emoji the most?

  • Soft news and human interest stories are most likely to have emoji in their headlines.
  • Brits may like emoji more than Americans. Daily Mail, The Independent, and BBC News all used emoji in headlines that appeared in the top 100 Facebook posts this November.
    As to be expected, happier emoji were generally the most used.
  • If we take a look at the Facebook graph of most-used emoji on Facebook, Fall 2017, clearly LOL has pulled into the lead, followed by the ubiquitous heart, clapping hands, etc. Hearts in some form made it on the list a total of five times. Yet clearly, if you’re writing an article that’s intended for a professional audience, there’s no place for a heart, a rainbow or any of the other emojis in Facebook’s top performers.

Emoji from brands

Brands have stepped up and are adopting emoji into their social posts.

  • Starbucks and Macy’s are using holiday-themed emoji in their messaging.
  • On the Fourth of the July, Bud Light tweeted an emoji American flag composed of fireworks in place of Old Glory’s stars and American flags and beers for the red and white stripes
  • Baskin-Robbins is using an emoji ice cream cone in their messaging.
  • On World Emoji Day, July 17, NASCAR Tweeted a photographic mosaic of some of the sport’s most famous drivers.
  • The Smithsonian, in a tweet about Louis Armstrong, used an emoji trumpet.

Using emoji comes down to a few considerations and knowing your audience. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What channels are you creating content for and do emoji make sense in that context?
  • What is your brand’s voice?
  • What’s your topic? If you’re writing something fun and light, this is the perfect landscape for emoji. If, on the other hand, you’re explaining a complex concept to a bunch of accountants, save the emoji for an audience who will appreciate them. This probably isn’t it.
  • What are you looking to achieve with emoji — is it to provide a more succinct message, encourage an emotional response in your audience, or cleverly punctuate your caption?

Do you need help managing your social media program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Twitter’s New Promote Mode: 10 Tweets/Day/1 Mo for $99

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Many of us have become weary of Twitter for one big and very obvious reason. Of course. It’s about Donald. We’re sick to death of our president’s indulging in inappropriate tweetstorms at all hours of the day and night when he should be working. I have to admit that I’ve become a bit prejudiced when it comes to Twitter. But let’s remain open-minded. I’m a big sports fan, and I listen to KNBR, a local sportstalk station, and I know that the sports guys are all over Twitter. I have to wonder if it has something to do with their only having to come up with 140 characters. Another conversation.

Promote Mode: A new service that’s $99/month

Twitter has rolled out a subscription ad service that charges $99 a month to automatically promote tweets to generate larger followings. If you don’t know about promoting tweets or posts, it’s a method deployed by all of the social media sites to do a one-time boost of a post. The benefit is that you’re not buying into a long-term commitment to a campaign that requires metrics and management. The results are immediate and impressive. This doesn’t replace a long-term, thoughtful marketing strategy, but there are situations where this is a great way to spend your marketing dollar.

Promote Mode gives subscribers up to 10 promoted tweets/day. If you don’t know about social media and promoted posts, this is A LOT. It’s designed for small businesses and brands that don’t want the hassle of managing sophisticated ad campaigns. Their words. And they exactly reflect mine. Sometimes you just want to do this and see the results without analyzing it to death.

Why are they doing this?

Twitter’s ad sales have been slipping, most recently in the third quarter, when its $503 million in ad revenue represented an 8% decline from the period a year earlier. Twitter does not disclose how many advertisers it has, but it is undoubtedly a fraction of the 6M that advertise on Facebook. Promote Mode could be Twitter’s ticket to attracting the businesses that don’t spend as much as the big brands. This could also completely change the online ad landscape.

According to Wook Chung, Twitter’s director of product management. “”Promote Mode is always-on; it automatically promotes your Tweets and profile, steadily attracting more followers and additional reach for a flat fee.”

But it remains to be seen whether Promote Mode is worth the fee

Boosting 10 tweets a day at that price can prove valuable, as one promoted tweet can easily cost small businesses $30, according to Darius Mohammadi, director of Elite Lucky Gamers Limited, an online shopping business that also helps ad clients with digital and social marketing. It has subscribed to the automated Twitter ad service.

Now for the downside . . .

  • The biggest downside may be that Twitter’s automated system decides which tweets to promote. What? How does Twitter know how I’m marketing my business? Even for the very best of us, there are posts that are brilliant and those that are just okay. Let’s not assume that Twitter scrutinizes our posts and conscientiously picks out the brilliant ones for promotion; instead, it is randomized.
  • Twitter’s subscription ad product also has limited targeting options. It mostly extends the reach of tweets, showing them to a wider audience and promotes accounts.
  • The new program includes analytics so subscribers can track the impact of their promoted tweets.
  • Through a mobile-optimized dashboard, Twitter Promote Mode will display how many people saw a subscriber’s tweets or account during the current period, including both the organic reach and the Promoted reach. Subscribers can also track the number of followers they’ve gained, profile visits, and the performance of individual tweets.

Important to note: Promote Mode works best if you have up to 2K followers

According to Twitter’s FAQs about Promote Mode, only those accounts with up to 2,000 followers will see the most value from this subscription at launch. The company plans to offer additional, higher-priced subscription tiers for accounts with larger followings in the future.

No guarantees, but this may represent a good investment

Twitter doesn’t make any guarantees about the gains subscribers will see with the program, saying those will depend on targeting selections, account type and frequency of tweets. However, the company does say in its FAQs that accounts on average will reach 30,000 additional people and add 30 followers each month. That is a significant traction for $100 and may be worth a three-month trial.

Do you need help managing your social media program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Big Changes at Twitter: Character Limit Increases to 280

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Twitter is making some changes, which may be in response to its drop in ad revenue. The company tested an expanded, 280-character Tweet limit for users over the last month (I was not one of these users). Apparently they liked the response, because 280-character tweets are now available to all users, unless you happen to be living in Japan, China or Korea.

Longer tweets getting a mixed reception

The longer form of tweets has received a mixed reception, but Twitter has provided data that helps justify the reason for the company’s doubling the Tweet character limit. Twitter says that users are engaging more with the longer tweets. More importantly, longer tweets are generating more likes than shorter ones.

More rationale from Twitter on the character limit change

Historically, 9% of Tweets hit the character limit. This translates to our laboriously trying to edit our posts to make them fit within the limits of the 140-character Tweet. With the expanded character count, the number dropped to only 1% of Tweets running up against the limit.

Interestingly, timelines haven’t filled up with 280-character Tweets—users aren’t necessarily using the limit. Only 5% of Tweets sent were longer than 140 characters and only 2% were more than 190 characters.

Too early to know the results

It’s still a little early to get any definitive data on the results of this change, but I believe that the 140-character Tweet has taught all of us to communicate efficiently on all of our social channels—not just Twitter. While it’s challenging to stay within 140 characters, statistics show that it’s short posts that get read. Those 500-character posts are overwhelming—and no one reads them. Distilling your thoughts down to the heart of your message requires skill. One thing I’m dreading: What will this expanded limit mean to our Tweeter-in-Chief?

Do you need help with your social media program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

top of mind marketing_russian interference in the 2016 election

Russian Facebook Ads: The Result? Increased Transparency

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If you’ve tuned out all things political, you’ve missed a growing problem of political advertising on social media. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? Except that Facebook reported on Sept. 6 that it had found an operation likely based in Russia that spent $100,000 on thousands of US ads promoting divisive social and political messages over a two-year-period through May 2016. Zuckerberg has apologized, but probes are in the works by several congressional committees, along with the Department of Justice.

The Russian ads spread divisive views on immigration, race and gay rights

“For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better,” Zuckerberg said in the post. Facebook, still the dominant social media network, said 3,000 ads and 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages spread polarizing views on topics that included immigration, race and gay rights.

This brouhaha is a very big deal because of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the appointment of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, the ensuing investigation into the matter and the potential charges of obstruction of justice against Trump and members of his team.

As a result of the Russian takeover of the Facebook platform, Facebook now is testing a lengthier review process for ad campaigns that are using highly controversial topics to target an audience. Facebook now will request ad buyers for election-related topics to verify their identity, and they will include disclosures for each ad.

Implementing new changes will slow down the buying process

According to one political advertiser, Facebook is alerting ad buyers, letting them know that their campaigns might take longer than usual to run if its target audience is based on political, religious or social issues. Facebook has become a popular advertising platform because it provides the opportunity to drill down to rich demographic detail, including user interests.

“Ad sets that use targeting terms related to social, religious or political issues may require additional review before your ads start running . . . or you can adjust your detailed targeting elections.”

Tech companies testifying before Congress about Russian operatives’ use of their platforms

The notification comes right before attorneys from Facebook and other tech companies are scheduled to testify before Congress to talk about how Russian operatives might have used their platforms to sway U.S. voters during the 2016 presidential election. It also comes just days after a top lawmaker introduced a bill to require large tech companies to hold a database of political ad spending.

Facebook not alone in its efforts to become more transparent

As Facebook rolls out new oversight procedures and policies, Twitter is also stepping up its efforts to become more transparent. It will soon begin explaining to users who see political ads why they’re seeing them and who paid for them. An industry that was self-regulating will now fall under government regulation to avoid the kind of takeover of the platform that occurred during the runup to the 2016 election.

Do you need help managing your social media program or maybe just some help generating quality content? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

top of mind marketing. Going viral on Linkedin is based on generating quality content that focuses on your niche.

A Quick Guide to Going Viral on Linkedin

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It’s been more than a year since the mighty Microsoft purchased Linkedin, and there have been many changes, including the interface which now resembles that of Facebook for a reason—it’s this interface that more than 2 billion active monthly users are familiar.

Earlier this year, Digiday reported on how business publishers were seeing growth in referrals from Linkedin.

  • August seems to have been a banner month on Linkedin, with more than 50 million shares of new articles during that 31-day period.
  • LinkedIn engagement is beginning to rival, or even surpass, their shares on Facebook.
  • According to Executive Editor Dan Roth, Linkedin had 3M writers and around 160,000 posts per week at the end of 2016.
  • LinkedIn claims that 87% of users trust the platform as a source of information, making it an important destination for attracting attention.

But what sort of messaging works on LinkedIn, and how does it get distributed?

Unlike Facebook, there isn’t a whole lot of discussion about the influence of LinkedIn’s algorithm on what their users see when they log on. As with most algorithm-based newsfeeds, the reasons stories go viral is divided into two sections.

  • Analyze the actual substance, tone and presentation of the stories themselves.
  • Consider the distribution particulars of LinkedIn, the role of its algorithm, and the influence that a writer or publisher can have on that process.

An emphasis on the jobs marketplace

LinkedIn is fairly explicit about the types of stories that are likely to go viral. They like articles that share professional expertise, suggesting titles such as these:

  • What will your industry look like in 5, 10, or 15 years and how will it get there?’
  • What advice do you have for career advancement?

Career advice ranks well on LinkedIn

Career advice and professional development insights are extremely popular—because LinkedIn is a huge marketplace for both recruiters and those looking for jobs. The problem is that for those of us who are in the trenches actually doing our jobs, offering advice for career advancement is simply not a likely topic.

LinkedIn attempts to distinguish itself for its higher quality content

LinkedIn discourages the use of listicles (an article format that is written in the form of a list—popular because it’s easy to scan and digest), and obvious clickbait. Linkedin recommends that writers keep articles appropriate for the LinkedIn audience—avoiding that which is obscene, shocking, hateful, intimidating or otherwise unprofessional. Notice that LinkedIn is rarely mentioned in discussions about the spread of fake news, and It’s not known as a place where viral publishers expect to thrive.

LinkedIn articles avoid being overly promotional

It’s fine to mention your work or the project on which you’re working, but endless self-promotion may result in spam status and a visibility downgrade. To its credit, LinkedIn has carved out a niche; it isn’t trying to compete with Twitter for breaking news or Facebook for mass appeal. Rather, it’s become a powerful platform for thought leadership, where users share content relevant to their careers. Becoming recognized for a particular expertise on LinkedIn is an excellent way to build an audience on this platform. LinkedIn recommends that articles be at least three paragraphs long, and to rank well in search engines, an article really needs to be at least 300 words—besides, you need some substance to make your point.

Distribution: The algorithm at work

Distribution of content on LinkedIn is an algorithmic process, and that algorithm is designed for engaging, interesting stories to go viral. In this sense, the algorithm isn’t all that different from the type of stories that the bigger platforms employ, but aimed at a more niche audience. LinkedIn deploys a man+machine approach to classifying content in real time based on signifiers such as early engagement, previous reaction to content from the page, etc.

LinkedIn has a three-stage process for identifying and dealing with low quality content

  • As the post is being created, a classifier bucket posts as “spam,” “low-quality,” or “clear” in real time.
  • Next, the system looks at statistical models based on how fast the post is spreading and people are engaging with the post which helps determine low-quality posts.
  • Human evaluators review posts flagged by users as suspicious.

Each of us has a LinkedIn community

Stories are shared with a subset of our connections and followers. The bigger our community, the better chance that a large number of people will see our articles. This is determined by connection strength, your connection’s notification settings, and notification state (i.e. number of unread notifications). Members who aren’t in your network can choose to follow you, and by doing so, they will receive your articles and posts in their feed. Followers may receive notifications when you publish an article. Your articles may be available in their LinkedIn homepage feeds and can be included in news digest email.

It is LinkedIn’s editorial mission to provide timely, professional content to its users. Want your articles to reach a wider audience? Provide well-written, quality content that addresses the needs of your community.

Do you need help managing your social media program or maybe just some help generating quality content for LinkedIn? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

top of mind marketing_posting to social media: focus on a single point for brevity

4 Tips for Better Social Media Posts

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Despite Twitter’s imposed 140-character limit that has us all thinking in shotgun bursts, I still see some really long posts on Facebook and Linkedin—many of these without an image. The result? Forget it. No one’s going to take the time to stop and read this. Like it or not, we want our messaging condensed into quick, easily digestible sound bites.

Ask any writer: it’s much harder to write a little than a lot

If you’re writing headlines, social media posts, ad copy or taglines, think efficiency. Pare down your copy to the fewest number of words that will make your point.

Here are some tips that have helped me be a better, more efficient writer

1. Identify the single message you want to communicate

Time to prioritize. What is the single most important thought? Not the reasons it’s going to enhance your clients’ lives. Save that for other parts of your content-marketing program–an e-book, presentation, blogpost or a white paper, where you have the space to build a compelling case. Identify the one primary message and whittle away the excess.

2. Rely on images to help tell your story

With limited space and character limits, images and graphics take on an enhanced role. Incorporating a great image will help convey your message without contributing to the word count. Be selective; not all images are created equal. Spend time finding not just a good image, but a really great one that will get people’s attention and contribute to the overall impact. A note: avoid clickbait. Way too cheesy and it will hurt you in the long run. Select images that are relevant—but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be funny, fun, clever, whimsical, etc.

3. Get rid of everything that doesn’t contribute to the core thought

Even great writers have blocks and struggle. The cure? Start writing. Forget about word or character limits or making it sound good; rather, focus on your main point without regard to how many words it takes to convey your story. Once you’ve finished, sit back and review what you’ve written, and begin to edit. Apply liberal does of your delete key. It will take a few passes, but you will be able to trim this down to its core.

Another tip: A longtime writer, it’s always my goal to write efficiently, making my point with the fewest possible words. My favorite strategy is to write something one day, then come back the next day to review it. The passage of time provides startling clarity. I’ll look at something I’ve written and wonder what in the hell I was thinking!

4. Keep your perspective. It’s just one piece

Concerned that someone will see a single tweet and form an opinion? Let it go—that may be the source of your problem of trying to cram too much information into one thought.

A single piece of content isn’t likely to be the decision-maker for a potential client. A social media post is only one piece of a greater whole, which is an integrated content marketing program.

Do you need help managing social media? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

top of mind marketing_five instagram tips include keeping message brief and focused

5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Instagram into Your Marketing Program

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Those who are dragged kicking and screaming to social media groan with every new application that hits the market. Each has its own little niche in the online space, and we eagerly or reluctantly join the frenzy, competing with millions of other users to create a following, connect and share information. We’ve ramped up to Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. We’re members of online communities such as Nextdoor and Patch.

But many people—especially older users–are struggling with Instagram

If you think Instagram is going away, you may have to wait a while. There are currently more than 700 million users. The demographic? Of course. It’s those millennials and youngsters again—that group who cannot bear ever to be separated from their phones. In response to those who find Instagram annoying and awkward because the messaging has to be executed on a phone, well, you may not be their demographic.

  • More women than men
  • 18-29: 55%
  • 30-49: 28%
  • 64+: 11%

Love it or hate it, if you want to reach your market, you need to be using Instagram. Here are five tips for maximizing your Instagram posts.

1. Every word counts

Twitter users get this one. Think efficiency. Conveying your message as succinctly as possible is critical to Instagram communications. While you can include up to 2,200 characters, including emoji, and up to 30 hashtags, only 125 characters will appear before users have to click “More” to see the rest of the caption. In a recent analysis, the average number of words per caption was 33 words. The bottom line: Keep it short.

2. Use emoji where it makes sense

Those emoji showing up most frequently in top-appearing posts? Hearts, clapping hands, the camera emoji. Be selective.

3. Add hashtags for visibility

Hashtags help users discover your content. Instagram limits hashtags to 33—but that’s ridiculous. One study that looked at top publishers such as National Geographic, Bleacher Report and Dodo found that the average number of hashtags per post was only one, due to many of the top 25 publishers’ not using hashtags at all. As with content and emoji, be selective.

4. Provide context with mentions

Publishers and big brands add more power to their Instagram posts by tagging the subjects of the photos—so mention others in your posts. Big brands like Vogue, National Geographic and Time average two-four tags/mentions in their posts. Vogue, for example, mentions fashion brands, celebrities and the stylist teams with whom they collaborate.

5. Add a call to action

As with all of your marketing efforts, include a call to action. Ask a question, ask your audience to tag a friend or direct users to a link in their bio for more information.

A final note: Instagram on your computer

While there are apps that you can download that enable your using Instagram on your computer, this is not recommended because it’s getting away from the essence of Instagram—a spontaneous, immediate way to share great images and impressions.

Do you need help managing your social media program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

instagram stories are 24-hour images or videos to share with your audience

Instagram Stories: Connecting with a 24-Hour Sound Bite

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One of my pals used to groan about social media. He’s a millennial, but his response was “why do we need another application that does the same thing?” He’s right, of course. They all do the same thing, which is to keep us connected and share stuff that should never be shared. We’re all witnesses to the painful public spectacle of Donald Trump’s Twitter abuse. This is a classic example of how he and the world would be better served if he kept some of his thoughts to himself.

Instagram has captured the imagination of more than 700M users

While these social media companies are all helping us share information, they’re finding interesting new ways to do it. Instagram has become the favorite app among the young and trendy. It’s immediate, it’s visual and it’s on the ubiquitous cellphone, which has become an appendage on many of today’s youth and millennials.

One of the latest features is Instagram Stories

To add Stories to your Instagram account, you may have to update your account, so check your settings and go to the App Store if necessary. With Instagram Stories, you record live video or take photos with your smartphone and add them to a story that lasts for just 24 hours. It’s totally ephemeral.

Instagram has become the latest social media app to capture our imagination, with 700M users

Instagram Stories: you have two options

You can modify your privacy settings for each individual story you publish or for all of your stories from your main Instagram settings. To do the latter, go to your Instagram profile and click on the settings wheel icon at the top right.

When you’re ready to create your first story, tap on the circled + button at the top left of your Instagram screen. From here, you can use the icons at the bottom of your screen from left to right to configure flash settings, take a photo or video, or switch the camera from front- to rear-facing. If you tap and hold the center button, you can record a 10-second video. Something I learned: You can turn your camera orientation to landscape, but Instagram will still post your photo or video in portrait mode.

Once you’ve created your story, you’ll see your own profile photo at the top of the news feed. Your photo will always appear first so you can easily access your current story at all times. If you want to add to your story, tap on the circled + icon at the top left to record video or take a photo. Each new video or photo you take will be added to the end of your story and lasts for 24 hours.

Instagram, with more than 700M users, is filling people's need to connect

Note that each of these options applies to each 10-second increment (photo or video) of your story. This means that you can do the following:

  • Delete the part of the story you’re viewing.
  • Save the photo or video portion of the story you’re viewing.
  • Share the photo or video portion of the story you’re viewing as a poston your Instagram profile.
  • Change the story settings for the portion of the story you’re viewing.

As you add more photos and videos to your story, the same applies. You can delete individual photo or video portions of the story, save individual portions of the story, etc.

Once you finish taking your photo or recording your video, you have the option to add text or draw on your photo or video using the options at the top right of the screen. At the bottom of the screen, you have the options to cancel and start over, or download the photo or video to your camera roll.

Once you’re satisfied, tap on the checkmark at the bottom to add the photo or video to your story.

Too much work for something with a limited shelf life?

If this sounds like a lot of fooling around—editing, adding more photos and videos to something that has a very limited shelf-life–it may be. But when it comes to people and their phones and cameras, I’m not sure there are limits. I’m not one of these. I spend a lot of my time in my office on my laptop with a big monitor. I’m not really interested in editing and enhancing images on my smartphone, but I see people doing this all the time.

I am beginning to like Instagram and its application as a business tool. I like its immediacy, its whimsy, but it’s just one more social media app that’s emerged in a growing market that’s trying to find new ways to connect.

Are you struggling to include social media in your marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing specialists.