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Why Social Media Managers Need To Smarten Up On Facebook

MarkZuckerberg

Have you noticed that your Facebook News Feed has changed somewhat in recent times? Where once upon a time you used to be inundated with everything from everybody, these days you are seeing way more promotional posts from businesses trying to get you to buy something. For the average Facebooker, this isn’t ideal and makes for a less than perfect user-friendly experience.

If you cast your minds back to the early days of Facebook, creator Mark Zuckerberg was increasingly reluctant to put ads on to the site at all and claimed to be less interested in making money and more interested in making users happy. Very commendable. But with pressure being applied from every angle (as depicted by the film The Social Network) the ad-free days didn’t last long.

Since then, and before anybody really knew the potential and value of the social media platform, Facebook has and continues to make plenty of rule changes that affects users. Probably the most significant of these is the evolution of the news feed. If you were previously unaware – we hate to break it to you – but Zuckerberg and co have been filtering what you do and don’t see for years (they make no secret of this). But these changes are all geared to making Facebook as effective as possible for individuals as well as businesses.

The latest development – which is to be introduced in 2015 – is that the company promises users will see fewer of these ‘promotional’ posts from businesses in their news feeds. They say this is just one in a series of new measures the platform has taken to ensure News Feeds don't get overloaded with useless content. In a statement they said,

“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

According to Facebook, this promotional content won’t refer to advertisements, but from pages that individuals have liked. So if you – as a Facebook admin of a page – continue to post solely about buying products, pushing promotions or sweepstakes or installing apps, with ‘no real context’ you can expect the social networking service to penalise you.

This means that for us Social Media Managers, we have to be smarter about what we do. Of course, it is in Facebook’s interests to keep users as engaged as possible so they don’t lose interest in the site and they are hoping this development will do just that. So how can your business successfully run a Facebook page, which meets this new criterion? The key is to be as engaging as possible!

"Businesses should think about their page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply a publishing service," Facebook commented. "The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their page."

As legend goes, when Zuckerberg first brought on Mike Murphy as Facebook's ad sales man way back in 2006 (just 2 years after the social network launched) he said, "I don't hate all advertising. I just hate advertising that stinks." Since then, because of the site’s popularity in the business world, the Facebook team appear to have made it their mission to make ads more engaging and sophisticated and this new change clearly personifies this attitude.

Photo Source: By Robert Scoble (Flickr: Facebook Press Conference) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Top Five Reasons Why We Love ‘Top Five’ Style Articles

Lists

The Internet loves lists. Top 10 this, top 5 that. You can find a list for pretty much anything these days and it’s actually been proven that people gravitate towards reading list-type articles, as opposed to a straight block of content. But why do we love them? When you wake up in the morning do you think, “I must know what the most watched television shows of all time are?” We don’t. Firstly, because we all know it’s Friends, but secondly, in an ever-increasing world of chaos and choice, our minds like order. So in true list fashion, here are five reasons we love our lists:

1. We know what to expect

Whenever we encounter new information, our brains immediately try to make sense of it. Once they figure out what we’re seeing in a physical sense, they work to provide personal context and decide if it’s relevant enough to focus on further. This is done instantaneously, we don’t even realise we’ve made a choice in the time our minds have selected one path or another. Our gaze either stops, or we simply keep scanning.

2. It’s easier to remember

Lists tap into our preferred way of receiving and organising information at a subconscious level; so from an information-processing standpoint, they often hit our attentional sweet spot. When we process information, we do so spatially. For instance, it’s hard to memorise the shopping list off by heart. But, it’s a lot easier to remember everything if we write it in bullet points, or numbers. Then, even if we forget the list at home, it is easier for us to recall what was on it because we can think back to the location of the words themselves. Clever huh?

3. They are more attractive 

An article that is numbered has several features that make it a lot more captivating. For starters, the headline is eye catching, it positions its point of reference within an existing chronological system, it spatially organises the information, and it promises a story that’s fixed, where the length has been quantified upfront. These things together, aid in creating an easier reading experience. We really are lazy, aren’t we?

4. They make us feel better

Believe it or not, in 2011, the psychologists Claude Messner and Michaela Wänke investigated what, if anything, could alleviate the so-called ‘paradox of choice’ - the phenomenon that the more information and options we have, the worse we feel. They concluded that we feel better when the amount of conscious work we have to do in order to process something is reduced. So the faster we decide on something – whether it’s what we’re going to eat or what we’re going to read – the happier we become. Within the context of articles featuring lists, with their many choices, a list is the easy pick because we know what we’re in for. The more we know about something, the greater the chance we will commit to it.

5. We have short attention spans

In the current media environment, a list is perfectly designed for our brain. We are drawn to it intuitively, we process it more efficiently, and we retain it with little effort. Faced with a detailed discussion about the current state of the UK’s economic policy or ‘Top 10 Things Our Government Wastes Its Money On’ we will almost always choose the latter bite-sized option, even when we know we will not be entirely satisfied by it.

Is Russell Brand More Valuable Than The Sun Newspaper? A Social Media Debate

Russell Brand

The gloves are off as the war of words between Russell Brand and The Sun newspaper continues to be played out in the media. But as technology has changed the way we consume content, whose media is winning?

The Sun is claiming that because the comedian can afford to rent in a trendy part of London, he isn’t fit to make comments about the lack of affordable homes for the working class. The newspaper dedicated 2 front pages in 1 week to the man from Essex in December. The first of those labeled him a ‘hypocrite’ for the reasons mentioned above. The second, a damning indictment stating ‘The Nation Speaks’ – suggesting the public is on the side of the tabloid as 68% of people say he is a hypocrite, and 64% say he’s not funny.

Like many, I’ve been following this story in great detail. Whether indeed it is one man attempting to bring down a spiteful publication with a clear agenda, or a national institution just doing their job and asking the difficult questions, is for you to decide. What I am interested in is – as the headline declared – whether the nation has truly spoken?

So let’s give you some figures. In terms of publishing, The Sun’s circulation is 1.9 million people, whereas Russell Brand’s last book ‘Revolution’ has so far sold roughly 50,000 copies. But on social media, Russell has 8.6 million followers, 13x more than The Sun’s 655,000 as well as 2.9 million Facebook users, almost doubling the newspapers 1.7. Regarding regular viewers, the comedian has nearly 100x more subscribers to his channel where he hosts The Trews, than The Sun’s equivalent.

In the aftermath of the second front page ‘The Nation Speaks’ coming to press, a tidal wave of people immediately took to Twitter to weigh in and mock The Sun’s stance that ‘my opinion has been decided for me’. The hashtag #TheSunLogic began trending and gained an enormous amount of attention from public figures speaking out over a range of issues from politics to wealth that the paper themselves had been guilty of hypocrisy. So while the newspaper has a greater circulation with regards to print media, the huge numbers in favour of Russell in the online world, illustrate just how far we’ve come in terms of new media’s ability to influence a debate.

Newspapers’ popularity has dropped significantly in recent years for a number of reasons. In a bygone era, publishing was every business’s second business. Today, it’s every person’s second business. But print media doesn’t have to die, what it has to do is adapt and evolve in to something else, something relevant. You don’t have to be a media mogul to understand why tabloids feed on this kind of sensationalist narrative. Yet there attacks simply aren’t connecting in the way they used to because of platforms such as Twitter that undermine these transparent campaigns of hate.

Thanks to social media, the landscape has shifted and become more democratised. The goal posts have moved because where once upon a time there were only a few opinions being heard, now, everybody is a publisher. For the kids who are having to grow up with The Sun – like I have – the straight, rule abiding world of parents and papers bemoaning the antics of a dynamic, anti-establishment comedian is exactly the kind of publicity Brand's celebrity feeds off. It’s fuelling the fire, and this is taking place online, not in print. By attacking and rubbishing a popular youth figure the paper is inadvertently alienating many potential future readers.

Tabloids are now viewed as the guy who may well have been around for a few years, but is now struggling to keep up with a fast-paced modern society. Alternatively, whether you love him or loathe him, when Russell Brand speaks, thousands listen and engage, which are aided by his devotion to continually publishing new content on social media platforms. From a marketing perspective, Brand really is nailing it. The conversation is both ways and his audience feels connected and appreciated, which is something traditional newspapers are struggling to master. So this poses the question; does the Sun really speak to more people than Russell Brand?

Photo Source: By English: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

8 Social Media Books To Add To Your Winter Reading List

Winter Reading

It’s that time of year again, isn’t it? Christmas songs are beginning to emanate from the car radio on the drive in to work and we’re already knee deep in the annual avalanche of seasonal advertising.

Instead of identifying those all-important ingredients of what makes the most heart-warming, tear jerking television advert this Christmas, we had a long hard look in the mirror and said no. We will not conform. So instead, we’re going to bring you something else, because let’s face it, there’s no better way to spend these cold and dark evenings than switching off the T.V and opening up a good book.

Social media is an industry that is constantly evolving and in order to be a knowledgeable practitioner, it’s crucial to keep up to date with the latest and greatest goings on.  Groucho Marx once said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” So here are 8 social media books that we’ve learned a lot from and would make for perfect winter reading:

1. Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

How do you cut through the noise, commotion, and bad information that is right now cluttering up your customers' digital space? From the Godfather of content marketing himself, this book helps brands tell the stories that matter. After reading it, you’ll be convinced that producing a vast array of content is the way to go for your business to break through the clutter and win more customers.

2. Digital Leader by Erik Qualman

Erik provides a framework for living life in a digitally networked world. One in which our social and business circles are increasingly overlapping. He draws from a variety of sources while delivering a clear message, ‘You have more power than ever to become a leader!’

3. The Noob Guide To Online Marketing by Oli Gardner

How relevant is your marketing? Are you targeting the right people? How do you even know this? These questions and many, many more are all explained in probably the most comprehensive online guide on the market right now. It contains a 6-month action plan and works as a fantastic on-going reference.

4. The Social Media Management Handbook by Nick Smith & Robert Wollan

Every business wants to implement social media, but how do you go about doing this? While social media books focus on strategies for communicating with customers, this handbook discusses the internal process that takes place before those strategies can be implemented. A great place to start.

5. Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford & Joshua Green

If content doesn’t spread, it’s dead. This book examines the concept of viral media in a participatory where people choose to spread ideas and their interests to other people. It's a fascinating read that presents an alternative perspective on marketing, but also on pop culture studies.

6. The Zen of Social Media Media Marketing by Shama Kabani

If you want to get to grips with all things social media, this book’s for you. It’s very easy to follow, provides detailed instructions for launching social media campaigns and examines all the ins and outs, dos and don’ts. Although it’s been 2 years since this was published, the 3rd Edition goes into even greater detail about spending more time with SEO and Google+, as well as blogging.

7. Word of Mouse by Marc Ostrofsky

“Technology changes so fast and it’s easy to be intimidated by it.” But don’t worry; help is at hand in the shape of Marc Ostrofsky. He reveals the ways that although new technologies implant themselves in our daily lives, we can easily take advantage of them to live, learn, work, play and communicate better.

8. The Social Media Side Door by Ian Greenleigh 

This book is a brilliant guidebook to navigating your way around a complex social media landscape. There are many practical strategies included which range from using social media to get a job, to reaching those all-important gatekeepers. A top read for anybody looking to find creative ways to foster long-term connections.

Should The Future Of The Internet Belong To The Highest Bidder?

Money

There’s something unsettling happening in America right now. No, it isn’t The Kardashians relentless popularity and world dominance, nor is it the latest Amanda Bynes Twitter meltdown. It’s something that has the potential to affect us all and harm what’s most important to us. Our Internet.

Cable and telecoms companies are pushing for the ability to create Internet ‘fast lanes’ for high volume customers (those who use sites such as Netflix for example) that take up a lot of bandwidth. This may not seem like such a bad idea on the surface, but when you delve a little deeper, there are many problems that come with opening up the Internet in this manner – and what’s more, this is something that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had previously embraced as something positive. That’s until the news went viral that is.

Now, the FCC is there to preserve an equal Internet, one that regulates all interstate and international communications by television, satellite cable etc.  so you’d think that by agreeing to this idea, it would stand against everything that they value, right? Think again….

By allowing cable and telecom companies to get their way, this would create an Internet for the haves and the have-nots. Undoubtedly an element to online innovation that nobody wants – apart from the service providers themselves that is. That’s because these providers would charge technology companies like YouTube for access to this lane. YouTube would then be forced to pay the premium in order to continue sharing quality video and content at high speeds to users. If it didn't pay, users would only be able to stream slow, constantly buffering videos.

The idea of the Internet is to create a place where people can connect on level that can transcend both geographical and cultural barriers. However, the way the Internet works right now is changing, for the worse. We must not let internet service providers pick who gets a fast-lane connection and at what price. If we do, there's nothing to stop this spiraling out of control.

For businesses and websites that thrived and were successful because of the quality of their product, would (if these regulations were implemented) suffer because instead of the value they provide consumers and customers, it would be down to who can afford to pay off the biggest service providers. This would be a backwards step and would completely go against the democratic system we currently have in place.

President Obama has remained defiant and has emphasised his stance on net neutrality – and rightly so. He recently stated, “The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.” The good news is that the FCC’s proposal is just that – a proposal, so there is still time to change it and to convince them to create net neutrality rules that prevent paid prioritisation. Let’s just hope they see sense after this setback and do what’s best for the good of every Internet user on this planet.

Is Instagram Right For Your Business?

Instagram Business

How do you understand an enigma like Instagram? While selfies, belfies and food porn may dominate some Instagram pages, that’s not all the app can be reduced too. The image based social networking site rose to prominence in 2010 and experienced such rapid growth and popularity that Facebook purchased them two years later for a cool $1 billion (didn’t they know they could download it for free?) Yes, with roughly 60 million photos that are shared on Instagram daily, it’s a place crammed full of engaged users, but is it a place where your business should be operating?

While many businesses are finding it an increasing struggle to get their message heard within these crowded social media platforms, (the facts are that 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute with Facebook users uploading 350 million photos a day) it is beyond doubt that the value of visual content is increasing all the time and this is reflected in the emergence of visual apps such as Instagram.

Now, in order to have an awesome online presence, the first step in any successful social media marketing strategy is to build a foundation. It’s important to research and to discover the photos that people share related to your business or industry. Are your competitors already on there? If so, what are they doing and what kind of engagement are they getting? Can you go one better and do something that they’re not? This needs to be considered before you jump straight in and start posting.

The next thing to consider is what your Instagram objectives are. You’ve already established that this is where your audience is, now you must determine what exactly you’d like to achieve. Instagram is brilliant for creating brand awareness and generating engagement and if you do this successfully then you’ll build a truly engaged community that will interact with you every step of your journey.

Now trust us, although it’s easy to get caught up looking at all the pretty pictures and testing your hand at using a range of wonderful, arty filters, there’s a lot more to the platform than just solely pictures. In this respect it’s like many other social media networks in the fact it’s about being social and networking. Above all else, the platform was designed to help people meet new people and then to build relationships. It allows interaction to occur between like-minded people that can create new customers as a result.

Instagram offers an excellent opportunity for brands to diversify and really broaden their reach in an entirely new scope. Ultimately, it enables your followers to gain an inside perspective about your business to stimulate a deeper connection. If you’re not on Instagram yet, it’s really time to sit down and have a re-think because if you fail to keep up with modern marketing, you’re going to get left behind.

10 Funny Pun Memes You Need In Your Life Right Now

A pun: a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word. Here at Giraffe, a day doesn’t go by without at least one pun making its way into conversation. From the silly to the downright cringey, you cannot deny these will make you smile!

1. This job isn't for everyone. But hay... it's in my jeans.

Hay

2. I really like taking these trips. They help remind me that I'm in control of my life. A remote island.

Remote Island

3. Christian Bale.

Christian Bale

4. Is this real life or is this just Fanta sea?

Fanta Sea

5. I'll be out in a moment, I'm bearly dressed.

Bearly Dressed

6. Go shawty, it's sherbet day.

Sherbert Day

7. Chocolate milk shake.

Chocolate Milk Shake

8. The night I lost control.

Lost Control

9. Daniel Boringcliffe. Daniell Radcliffe.

Daniel Radcliffe

10. Stop making me laugh, you'll make me puma pants.

Puma Pants

Puns, puns and more puns, we really do love them! Have you seen one that we haven’t? Be sure to send them through and we’ll cast our expert eye. Remember, the punnier the better.

Halloween: 3 Scarily Bad Social Media Campaigns

As we all know by now, social media is truly awesome. Can you remember any other time in history when businesses would have been able to reach out and regularly engage this many potential brand advocates and new customers as quickly as we are able to today? We can’t! So to mark Halloween, we thought it would be rather fun to remember some of the social media campaigns that DIDN’T quite go to plan and left their company a little red in the face. Here are 5 scarily bad social media campaigns that give us the creeps just thinking about:

1. NYPD – Police Backlash

NYPD

Remember this one? The New York Police Department’s Twitter campaign is now infamous in the world of social media marketing. What they did is encourage users on the platform to tweet their experiences of the police and different members using the hashtag #myNYPD. What could go wrong? Well it turns out rather a lot, because ‘the po po’ over in the big apple isn’t held in such high esteem with folk on Twitter – cue mass backlash. Rather than the light-hearted, good-natured photos the police were expecting, instead they were greeted with images displaying rather distressing scenes of police brutality. We’re guessing they won’t be rushing in to their next campaign in a hurry.

2. McDonalds’ McFail

McDonalds

Now not all multi-billion pound companies are great on social media, but when it comes to digital marketing campaigns, McDonalds have got a pretty impressive track record. However, back in 2011 the fast food company attempted to engage its customers by asking them to share stories about eating at McDonalds using the hashtag #McDStories. A great campaign idea from the offset, we’re sure you’ll agree. But what McDonalds didn’t expect was the barrage of grief they received detailing everything from shocking customer service, substandard food as well as the companies lack of cleanliness. Now that is terrifying.

3. Kellogg’s – Tweets in exchange for food for the starving

Kelloggs

As disasters go, it couldn’t get much worse than what Kellogg’s tweeted back in November of 2013. Somebody from the cereal manufacturer thought it would be a good idea to post 1 RT = 1 breakfast for a vulnerable child as part of its ‘Give a Child Breakfast campaign’. As expected, the message was immediately attacked for cynically trying to squeeze advertising from starving children. Not a clever move guys. To be fair to them, Kellogg’s deleted the tweet soon after and gave funding to school breakfast clubs in vulnerable areas to compensate.

Social media can be a wonderful tool to raise brand awareness but in the wrong hands, or at the wrong time, it can be detrimental to your business. Great social media management is about so much more than just getting your campaigns away; you should aim to enrich your users timelines with topical, current and relevant content to engage with any many people as possible and give you the best chance of achieving your online objectives.

Having said that, we hope we haven’t scared you too much and instead this article has inspired you to create a campaign that makes it in to next year’s piece - 3 scarily good social media campaigns.

Happy Halloween everybody!

10 Social Media Developments That Will Go Down In History

Giraffe Car

Social media is now such an intrinsic part of our daily lives, it’s sometimes hard to imagine a time before its existence. So for all of our younger followers out there, as well as those who are a little long in the tooth and would like to be reminded, here’s 10 (of many) events that have got us to where we are today…

1. Email Send-sation 

Emailing today is such an integral part of how business is conducted; it’s hard to believe the first email was only sent back on 1971. What was sent exactly, nobody really knows, but it was a computer engineer by the name of Ray Tomlinson who has been credited with the achievement and it was he who decided to use an @ symbol to separate names from domains.

2. Blogging Begins 

Like all techy inventions, blogging started with several precursors and the term itself wasn’t actually coined until the late 1990’s. Blogging now plays a central role in the digital marketing landscape but it’s only really within the last 5-10 years that the industry has cottoned on to their importance and value to customers.

3. Friendster… Come Again? 

Back in the day, this platform was a social media giant but we’re banking that not everyone is familiar with the name. Founded in 2002, it was the first social networking site to really exist, but for various reasons it was unable to sustain it’s early success.

4. Myspace – Hello Old Friend

Now you’ll be a lot more familiar with Myspace. This was launched in 2003 and just 1 year later had over 1 million unique visors to the site, which at the time was mightily impressive. It has a strong music emphasis and many artists attribute their success to being discovered on this social networking service.

5. Facebook Frenzy

This year Facebook surpassed over 1.23 billion active monthly users and you don’t need us to tell the significance this platform has had on the way we communicate and live our lives. Its founder, Mark Zuckerberg is 30 years old and has a net worth of £10 billion. Not bad going eh?

6. The Launch Into Twittersphere

Who knew that posting messages or ‘tweets’ of up to 140 characters would provide to be so popular? The micro-blogging service was created in 2006 but only began receiving mainstream success after the culture of celebrity began getting on board. Ashton Kutcher, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Fry were early Twitterati adopters.

7. YouTube And Viral Videos

Unlike the 4 social media networking platforms we’ve previously mentioned, YouTube is based around only one thing, video content. Users can not only watch but also upload videos to the site, which has the potential to be viewed millions and millions of times.

8. Social Media Mobile

Getting all these services to your mobile device has been revolutionary for the online world. Users can now interact and have real time access from their smart phones in the form of apps. As a result, native mobile social networks have been created such as Foursquare and Instagram, which are proving very popular.

9. Social Media Advertising

Advertising via social media platforms is something that did not exist just 10 years ago and now it is a multi-billion pound industry. Social advertisements offer opportunities to build awareness, target all kinds of different consumers, as well as monitor behavioral data.

10. Google Analytics

Like social media advertising, this final one is particular relevant for businesses. Google Analytics makes it possible for you to track and measure how well your websites are performing. Whether you want to boost sales, find more visitors or improve your mobile app, this tool can provide the insights you need to improve your business.

So pretty exciting stuff, huh? Hopefully this demonstrating just how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. And what’s more thrilling is, who knows just how big the next 10 developments will be….

Social Media: How Far Is Too Far For Advertisers?

1984

Do you ever get the feeling you’re being watched? It’s a talking point that just won’t go away. As Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are hailed as heroes for exposing just how deep global surveillance and intelligence runs within power, is our private information being used for other means?

New knowledge has been unearthed in September detailing how advertisers are also using your information in order to build online profiles of people – those of whom are completely unaware. So if you’re partial to a selfie, or love a cheeky photo upload to your Facebook or Instagram account, these photos could be revealing more about you than what you originally thought.

Big brands have now introduced cutting edge state-of-the-art software that scans the photos you upload, identifying potential clues about their prospective customers. For example, if somebody is wearing a Nike cap in a photograph or a Portsmouth football club replica shirt, that information is then gathered and used in order to create an online profile of you. Why do this? You may well be asking. It’s simple, for money. Marketers are always looking for creative ways to find out more about audiences. Advertising can then be targeted to those people who they feel would be most receptive to the information from the ‘profiles’ that they have created. Clever, huh?

However, like the two names mentioned earlier in the article that promote anti-secrecy and accountability, advertisers aren’t hiding the fact that they are doing this. The photo posting service Tumblr who works with marketing service Ditto Labs say, "We're able to find brand logos and patterns inside of public photos shared on social media. We can also tell if people are smiling or not in a picture, as well as the type of environment a person is in," said David Rose, Ditto's CEO.

While critics say that selling this information on is somewhat underhand, advertisers simply have to refer to the terms and conditions that are presented to users when signing up to social media platforms, which plainly state ‘once someone's images are public, that person has already given legal permission for them to be used.’

A little scary, isn’t it? Nevertheless, a way to combat others using your information is to simply adjust your privacy settings to private. As the old saying goes, "If you're not paying for the product, you become the product."

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