Instagram Adds New Editing Tools

Instagram Editing Tools

If you’re like the rest of the human population, you’re probably on Instagram everyday ūüôā Well, good news for the platform’s users: new photo editing tools.

Earlier this week, the popular image sharing social platform rolled out¬†a new set of tools to help edit photos even more, including the ability to change an image’s contrast, warmth, saturation and more. With many IG users already turning to¬†additional apps to help edit pics, it only makes sense for the platform to provide its users with tools they really want and need.

Instagram stated, ‚ÄúYou take a photo to capture a moment, but often what you see in the photograph doesn‚Äôt feel the same as what you remember.¬†From brightening up a photo of your dinner party to better capturing the warmth of a sunset portrait, these new creative tools help you bring out and share the beauty of the moment as you remember it‚ÄĒright inside the same simple Instagram you already know.‚ÄĚ

Although it may not seem like a drastic change in the application, for many this means cutting out the middle man — or other editing apps like the popular VSCO Cam. Similar to how IG added video capabilities after Vine was launched through Twitter, this new addition will make many folks happy and consequently, continuous use of¬†the platform.

Have you tried the new IG photo editing tools yet?

— Samantha

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LinkedIn Study: 81% of Small/Medium-sized Businesses Use Social Media

Small Business on Social Media

About 81% of all small and medium-sized businesses use social media, based off of a recent LinkedIn study. Out of the companies that do use social, 94% of them are using it for marketing benefits — especially those that are experiencing high volumes of growth.

Finally, businesses are beginning to realize that having a social presence not only increases brand awareness, but also help push customers down the purchase funnel. Having said this, almost 75% of companies experiencing growth increased their social media budgets, including more online ad spend, hiring community managers, etc.

Lana Khavinson, the senior product manager at LinkedIn says, “We know that for SMBs the greatest challenge is attracting and retaining customers. Here is a really clear indicator of the value that social media is providing to companies that are rapidly growing.”

As the numbers of those small and medium-sized businesses using social increase, many social networks are benefiting, beyond LinkedIn (who has hundreds of thousands of small business entrepreneurs within it’s member base). For example, Facebook and Twitter, which both boast several million businesses with active accounts, will gain significant ad revenue in the future. We’ll see this start to take place as companies start to pay to rise above the clutter in people’s Newsfeeds on Facebook, and as¬†Twitter expands its “self-serve” advertising ideas around the world to further attract small businesses in places like Canada and the UK.

We’ll be interested to see how much each social network can rake in over the next few years. To us, it feels like shooting fish in a barrel, especially as such networks are literally writing the rules to how marketed content is shown to customers.

Tell us: Does your small business utilize social media to its fullest potential?

— Samantha

Facebook Introduces Paper iPhone App

Paper on Facebook

Ready to have your mind blown?

Just this morning, Facebook made a HUGE announcement. Introducing Paper, the newest iPhone app that’s more than a simple news outlet. Instead, it makes a user rethink Facebook with a horizontally scrolling screen of news articles, friend updates and more — a completely new way of sharing and telling stories.

The new app doesn’t include many buttons. Instead, users will need to get used to a completely different set of gestures that make navigating that much simpler. Not only that, but fans will be able to make every post, photo or news article full-screen, adding another lovely level of aesthetics. Although many have made references to the already popular Flipboard, Paper seems to do similar functions but so much more!

The interface for reading news will stay very similar to how such content is presented currently on the platform. Cards that resemble Twitter make it easy to consume new information, but if you’re used to a feed of quick tweets, this may be a bit hard to get used to. Looking to share content? A user will be able to¬†post to Paper, therefore on Facebook, in a brand new, one-of-a-kind composition screen.¬†¬†If you’re interested in checking it out, Paper will be available for download on iPhones (in the US only) on February 3rd.

Sadly as a current Android user, I’ll have to wait to see what Paper does — unless I can quickly borrow a friend’s phone next week! Until then, I’m happy that¬†Facebook is getting closer to finding a solution for its stand-alone apps. With mobile becoming more and more popular with users, I believe that this is the only way to go in order to be successful!

Tell us: Will you be downloading Paper on February 3rd?

— Samantha

Vine Turns 1 & Celebrates Best Videos of the Year

A Year on Vine

It’s crazy to think that a whole year has passed since Vine was introduced to the world.

For those who are unfamiliar, Vine is a mobile application where users can create six-second videos, with the ability to start and stop recording as many times as they want. In January 2013, Vine was acquired by Twitter and made big news as people and brands could now easily express themselves through another medium.

Although competitor Instagram introduced video capabilities in June 2013, Vine has remained popular. Today, it celebrates its first anniversary. To get the party started, check out Vine’s 200 video compilation totaling 18 minutes,¬†including funny clips from fans, as well as videos from President Obama and Justin Bieber.

We picked out a few of our faves:

Tell us: Which is your favorite vine video from 2013?

— Samantha

3 Ways to Handle Unruly Social Fans

Delete Facebook Post

As a community manager, you always have to monitor your social platforms. Why? Because no matter how great the content is that you post, there is always one fan who puts down your post, highlights a typo error or continues to spam you wall with angry comments with our without profanities.

Although your first reaction may be to delete the comment or ban the user, here are a few other options to handle those unruly social fans (in a professional manner):

1. Respond to the Comment. Respond to the fan in a timely fashion (the sooner, the better) by thanking them for commenting and providing an answer or another support outlet where they can receive help from your company. By responding to all comments, whether negative or positive, other fans will see that you care and your brand will earn credibility within the space.

If the case arrises when the comment is serious and needs more support than you can provide via social, take the conversation ‘offline.’ Provide a secondary email address that the fan can contact to further discuss the issue at hand. By taking the conversation off of social media in a professional way, you’re not only giving the best service to your customers, but will give your company the opportunity to diffuse the problem in a less public way.

2. Hide the post. Although we don’t recommend doing this unless a comment is offensive (includes profanities, etc.), as a community manager, you must make whatever call is best for the brand. Will this offend other fans? Would the post be considered spam? If so, hover over the right-hand ‘x’ and click ‘Hide’ on the Facebook post in question. When a post is hidden, only the fan who wrote the comment and his or her friends will be able to see it. One can always ‘unhide’ the comment if necessary. Make sure you respond to a comment before hiding it!

3. Delete the post. This is a touchy action that not every digital marketer will agree with. One point that is true? As a representative of a company, you don’t want to get a reputation for deleting user’s comments, especially because their backlash will come back ten-fold which only means bad news bears for you. If it is necessary (and similar to hiding a comment on Facebook), hover over the ‘x’ in the upper right-hand corner and click ‘Delete.’ Once deleted, you can click ‘Undo’ to get the comment in a hidden form, then click ‘Unhide’ to bring it back completely.

With the option to delete, comes the power to report the content and even ban the fan. For those posts that are too aggressive or provocative, these options may be best for you.

When reporting content, you’ll have the option to flag the post as spam, a personal attack, hate speech, violent or harmful behavior or sexually explicit content — then it’s up to Facebook to decide what to do with the user. When you ban a user, they’ll be able to see the page, but will not be able to comment or post on any content. Note that a CM can ban and un-ban users from the admin panel. Note: If you don’t ban a fan permanently, be aware that they can go back and Like your page again.

Ban a User on Facebook

Bottom line: You’re always going to have problems with some fans who are negative people or simply don’t like your brand — it’s inevitable. Do you best to handle the situation in a professional manner and be confident that if it gets really bad, you can delete comments and even ban a user entirely. Good luck!

— Samantha

5 Social Resolutions for 2014

2014 Resolutions

It’s that time of year again to wipe the slate clean! Whether it’s promising to exercise, cutting back on TV or decreasing your use of profanity, we all have things we can work on to be more successful in 2014. But what about social media resolutions?

Here’s a quick list that you may find useful:

1. Edit before you post.¬†False information, incorrectly spelled words and posts that borderline on inappropriate all need a second glance before posting. Take the time to review your post to ensure that you are happy with whatever comments or reactions it may get after it goes live. Let’s tweet correct information and post content that will positively add to someone’s life to ensure that our brand is seen in the best way possible.

2. Don’t worry about the numbers.¬†Yes, metrics like the total number of followers or RTs are important to track over time, but don’t let it take over your social strategy. Instead, use your social pages to make meaningful connections with your fans. Create brand loyalists who will market your company (often) better than you can. Focus on the quality of your fan base, not just the quantity.

3. Make customer service a priority. Although taking care of customers has always been the backbone of running a business, doing so on social has become just as important. Take a moment to respond to ALL of your fan’s requests and comments in a way that helps them feel closer to the brand. Random acts of kindness also go a long way, so feel free to send a loyal fan a special coupon or product to show how much you care.

4. Focus on high-quality content. Not only will it help your posts rise to the top of people’s Newsfeeds on Facebook (thanks to recently changed algorithms), but high-quality content will ultimately help you grow your community. Think: “Would I want to interact with this piece of content on my feed?” If the answer is no, don’t post it. Make sure your work is the best possible so fans perceive your company in a good light.

5. Be consistent on all social platforms.¬†Just because Facebook is the biggest platform doesn’t mean that your audience is there or that it’s the only platform you should be showing some love. Instead, do your best to be consistent on ALL platforms. Whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, post on a schedule so your fans grow accustomed to your messages, which in turn will keep them engaging over time. Consistency will help keep your community alive.

Got more resolutions that you’d like to make in the new year? Tell us below!

— Samantha

Facebook Changes News Feed Algorithm (Again)

Ready for Facebook’s latest update? This week, the platform¬†tweaked¬†the algorithm behind the Newsfeed function with the intent of bringing higher quality content like news stories, to the top of the feed.

As you may have noticed, posts from friends that received engagement like comments or shares, automatically rise to the top of a user’s Newsfeed, even if that user has already seen the content before. Facebook is essentially ensuring that one sees conversations between friends and will engage with the post as well.

Memes and other low quality content will be pushed down on one’s Newsfeed which will impact what type of content marketers use with their fans in the future. Brands will need to think strategically before posting lighter content as Facebook is attempting to keep fans on the site (especially on the mobile version), rather than clicking on a meme or other pieces of content hosted elsewhere.

Additionally, more and more platforms are competing with Twitter as the main platform where fans receive timely news. Specifically speaking, Facebook will begin suggesting specific news stories based on what content a user clicks (see example above). Similar to pushing high quality high on the Newsfeed, recommending content that a user might like will potentially keep users on Facebook more frequently and for longer periods of time, allowing them to see more ads, suggested posts, etc.

Facebook Recommended Stories

Overall, we’re curious to see what content rises to the top of our Newsfeeds — and whether or not it’ll make us engage more with our friend’s content and the platform in general.

Tell us: Have you noticed the new changes on the Newsfeed?

— Samantha

Sweetgreen: How Social Built A Restaurant

Sweetgreen Restaurant

We’ve all heard how important social media can be to a company’s marketing plan, especially for start-ups trying to make a name for themselves. Although social triumphs in retail and consumer-based industries are all too common, such success within the food industry sometimes flies under the radar.

Well, we’d like to introduce you to Sweetgreen: a start-up restaurant that utilized social media to its full potential and truly came out on top. Making salads cool, Sweetgreen was able to transform itself into a lifestyle brand, rather than simply a place to pick up a healthy lunch.

By taking advantage of Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Sweetgreen generates content containing much more than your typical “food-porn.” Such engaging content include helpful yoga tips, cool new¬†music selections and even upcoming sustainability projects which ultimately keeps fans engaged with this salad company time and time again.

We think this is an impressive social strategy that everyone can learn from.

Take a look at the full story below:

— Mike & Samantha

Best Buy, Walmart Dominate Black Friday Social Efforts

Black Friday is only one day away and if you’ve been anywhere near a computer or TV, you know how hard retailers are marketing their holiday sales. As Social Media Today recently reported, Shareablee (a social business intelligence platform) discovered the top brands that are engaging the best online. What makes brands successful? Being innovative, creative and developing unique content that is highly sharable to expand reach.

Twitter: BestBuy wins with the most engaged followers

According to Shareablee, BestBuy followers represented 30% of all the RTs related to Black Friday, followed by Nordstrom with 9% and Ebay and Target with 8%. ¬†As many social experts will note, a RT is a great way to measure word of mouth marketing because if one is willing to RT your company’s content, they are most likely interested enough to share it with their own communities.

Shareablee Most Engaged Audience

Facebook: Walmart dominates with the most engaged fans

When it comes to one of the best metrics to measure engagement on Facebook, shares take the cake. Similar to a RT, a share is a direct action that typically means a fan cares enough about the brand’s content so much so that they’re willing to repost it. In the first half of November 2013, Walmart fans at 27%¬†shared 3 times as much content than other brands, followed by QVC at 9% and Macy‚Äôs and Nordstrom at 8%.

Shareablee Most Engaged Audience

For those brands that don’t show as much success, we agree with Shareablee that there’s still a chance to increase engagement before the big shopping day arrives. Brands need to keep content short, CTAs (call to actions) clear and creative as interesting as possible to rise above the noise. If this is possible, such businesses will have the best chance at converting engagement into future sales.

— Samantha & Mike

4 Crazy Social Media Stats That Could Change Everything

Thanks to a great article on FastCompany.com, here are four interesting social media stats that could ultimately end up changing your current view of the digital space. We chose our favorites, but you can check out the rest here.

#1: About 25% of smartphone owners between 18-44 years old, say they can’t remember the last time their phone was NOT next to them.

This fact means that users are rarely disconnected with the internet, and subsequently social media platforms. With the opportunity to interrupt the lives of your users all day, everyday, your brand should reconsider developing a highly successful mobile marketing strategy to fully reach the highest number of fans possible.

Smart Phone Statistic

#2: 189 million Facebook fans, only use the platform on their smartphone and create 30% of all Facebook’s ad revenue.

Similar to statistic #1, not only do you need to have a mobile strategy, but your brand needs to completely understand how content is showing up on mobile devices before posting. This includes making sure sharing capabilities are easy for users and creative is the right quality to be engaged with whether on a desktop or a smartphone.

Mobile Fans

#3. Social media has become the number one activity on the internet.

Because social media is the most popular activity for people of all ages, this industry and outlet as a whole, carry more weight today than in past years. No longer is using social media simply a fad, but people are now forming habits around it and new social platforms pop up every week. If this stat doesn’t push you to create a digital strategy for your business, you might want to give it a bit more thought.

#4: The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is between 55-64 years old.

This particular bracket on Twitter has grown 79% since 2012, while the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing on Facebook and Google+. These numbers are evidence that social media is no longer just for teens and young adults. If you have customers in these older brackets, you should have a social marketing strategy that engages with these users, instead of ignoring them completely by focusing on younger demographics. Be sure to understand your brand’s demographic before creating a posting/tweeting strategy.

— Samantha