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Archive for Social Media

Why Instagram Inspirational Quotes Don’t Inspire Quality Engagement

Instagram inspirational quotes bad engagement
Inspiring engagement may be harder than it looks - but Instagram inspirational quotes graphics aren’t always the right way to go.

If you want to inspire more Instagram engagement (and by golly you do) you first need to revisit what engagement is and means. Firstly, Instagram engagement doesn’t just refer to big numbers under your images. It also refers to comments and how those two factors relate to impressions.

Depending on how they are viewed, each of these factors can say different things about how your Instagram audience view your posts, page and brand as a whole.

I'll use luxury accessories brands as an example. Do users express a desire for these products in their comments as a result of the images? Or are they more infatuated by the aspirational situations that models are in? This simple example could show that a product may not feature prominently enough and assist with the decision on what should be posted next.

Engagement on Instagram insights

Instagram’s in-app insights are very basic, showing one single number for impressions, reach and engagement. The engagement metric is an amalgamation of all likes and comments on your post - a number that video views doesn’t seem at the moment to play into.

Its important to note that this metric can absolutely be useful as a tool for you to compare and contrast the success of each of your posts at-a-glance. But to use Instagram engagement rates as a defining factor for future strategy you will have to go deeper and look at what users are saying and why they are saying it

Reading Instagram engagement as a metric and using it as a signifier for future content is an art in itself. But when it comes to Instagram inspirational quotes and motivational business advice, that gets even harder.

Why Instagram inspirational quotes don’t always mean quality engagement

It’s true that a load of businesses have built up a fairly strong strategy with Instagram inspirational quotes graphics, coffee wisdom and motivational quotes. But that number is now an awfully big one. Like, seriously big.

I want to be totally clear here; what works for somebody else doesn’t have to work for you.

If you have been posting Instagram inspirational quotes and change your strategy it may seem at the beginning that this results in a drop in engagement. Often this is because the hashtags that you were using before had been hijacked by automation services and bots. Or, as I like to call it, noisy marketers marketing noisily to other noisy marketers.

And when you think about it, the people you were marketing to with motivational quotes were the kind of people who already engage with that kind of content - namely your competitors.

Remember the brand-building potential of Instagram

Individuality is the key here. Many businesses have harnessed the might of Instagram to build their brand image. In any other case, posting what your competitors post would at best look like an attempt to piggyback their engagement. At worst, it would look like they were trying to totaly steal their brand image.

But with motivational quotes and inspirational business advice, we have something else entirely. So many businesses do it that users have seen it all before. Even if you log onto canva and throw your own fonts and colours on it, you still inadvertently fashion your pages into the shape of “generic business Instagram”. You don’t want that.

Here’s what you want…

You want to stand out. Instagram was created for individual lives to shine - so don’t feel you have to post what your competitors are posting. If you can create a strategy that focusses on frequently posting actual, original photos on a theme that suits you, do!

I believe in you.
If you can think it, you can do it.
#inspiration #monday #mightnotbemonday

Why You Should Never, Under Any Circumstances, Buy Followers

why you should never buy followers
If there is one thing you should never do when building a social media strategy it is buy followers. Of all cowboy social media tactics, it is the worst.

Listen carefully; in the world of social media marketing, there are no shortcuts to quality results. In fact, you could be right in saying that there are no shortcuts at all. You may be able to reach your goals quicker, but the only way to do that is to revisit your social media strategy and either increase or shift your investment to a different focus.

It’s natural to want to expect immediate results, especially when immediacy is almost expected. Sadly social media marketing can often work out as something of a slog. Certain quick-fix techniques have been heralded as cheap and easy ways to smash your goals. But that is far from the truth.

Buying followers may be a way to see bigger numbers, but I’ll say it again; the only thing that will speed up your path to your actual goals is increased investment in an already expert strategy. In most cases, these numbers are empty, meaningless and potentially harmful. So you definetely shouldn’t buy followers. Here’s why:

Fake followers can’t interact properly because they aren’t real people

If you buy followers you aren’t buying followers at all. You are just buying numbers. What follows you is a collection of fake or innactive accounts that offer absolutely nothing to your brand. You can’t expect them to interact or engage with your content. And if they do, it will just be incredibly spammy auto-comments that actual, real people can spot a mile off.

Their inactivity can result in a reduced organic reach

Social networks use intricate algorithms to determine the strength of your content and ensure it gets in front of the right amount of users. Engagement is a key signifier for the quality of your content. If tonnes of people engage with your posts then the social networks will consider your content quality and serve it and similar posts to more and more people. When you buy followers who simply don’t engage the opposite happens, resulting in a reduced organic reach.

They can destroy the credibility of your pages and your business

As I mentioned earlier, real users know when you buy followers. An account with big numbers should have content that supports and upholds those numbers. Also, auto-comments by fake accounts are quite clearly just that. Users know and will lose trust and respect for you brand as a result. Nobody wants that.

They totally fluff up your metrics

If you buy followers you have no way of differentiating between real and fake followers. This will really mess with your metrics. You have absolutely no way of working out genuine audience behaviour from that of robots. You are no longer able to work out what aspects of your strategy are getting you the biggest return and invest in them. It’s just not worth it.

You can end up being marked as spam

When you buy followers all of these things - decreased organic reach, high-rate of auto-comments, disinterest by genuine users - work to systematically sabotage your page. Because of how social media algorithms work, your posts will eventually begin to look like spam - and spam just attracts spam. Which means you will just end up being a can of spam. Spammy spam spam. You might even have your accounts suspended as a result… which at that point could actually be a blessing in disguise.

In conclusion, don’t buy followers.

Just don’t do it. If you were thinking about it, take the money and invest it into a different aspect of your strategy. Promote a post. Even if it amounts to nothing, at least you won’t have inadvertenly sabotaged your social pages.

The Best Free Social Media Tools For Small Businesses

Best free small business social media tools
By leveraging the right small business social media tools you can ensure awesome results from your strategy - and these are the best tools around.

You could say that a social media strategy was only as good as its best social media tools. It’s not true; a social media strategy is ultimately only as good as the marketer who devises and employs it - but you could say that all the same.

Why? Well, every social media marketer makes use of social media tools to help streamline their processes and maximise the amount that they can achieve. For small businesses, this process can save heaps of precious time and energy that can be much better invested elsewhere.

This index of free small business social media tools is an updated version of a previous list that I combiled back at the beginning of 2016. Each of these small business social media tools I have tried and consider worthy of mentioning.

1. Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer

Nothing boosts a social media marketing strategy quite like the addition of an awesome content marketing strategy. That’s our jam here at Giraffe. Seriously, if you want to get more from social media, start writing awesome web content that your audience will value before posting and promoting it. You can thank us for the results later.

Coschedule’ Headline Analyzer provides quality scores on the strength of article titles and headlines in relation to social media engagement, particularly the likelihood of shares. It also helps to determine the likelihood that a blog title will be beneficial to your SEO.

2. Yoast WordPress Plugin

Yoast is the number one search engine optimisation plugin for wordpress. Users set their chosen keyword for each article they post and are given simple tips to increase the likelihood that they will rank well for that keyword. These include increasing the frequency of the keyword throughout different parts of the content such as headlines and alt text for images. It also gives you little coloured dots which signify the strength of each aspect of your article - and nothing compares to the feeling of turning all those tiny specks green.

Technically it is an SEO tool… Come to think of it, both of the first two examples weren’t really small business social media tools… However, articles put through Yoast commonly experience more click throughs from social due to the optimisation. So certainly worth using. Plus the extra benefits are definetely not to be sniffed at.

3. Socialrank

Socialrank is a simple to use platform that allows you to identify, organise and manage both Twitter and Instagram followers. As small business social media tools go, this is one that will help give you genuine insight into the strengths of your following such as who your best followers are and what they are about. With the use of filters you can see, amongst other things, who your most engaged and influential followers are.

4. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the preferred social media management tool of millions that allows you to schedule, engage with and grow your audience across all of your social networks from one place. It also offers social analytics. Free features are limited but there is a selection of affordable pro plans available.

Although I have used Hootsuite in the past, it isn’t currently in our arsenal of in-house social media marketing tools. This is mostly down to the pricing structure which can escalate quickly once you start to add extra accounts and services. However, as small business social media tools go, the free version can certainly be useful if you only have a few channels to manage.

5. Tweetdeck

If Hootsuite isn’t for you, that’s completely fine. There are plenty of other social media scheduling tools out there of varying quality. While scheduling for Instagram may be a serious task (there are ways, but they are difficult), Facebook’s in-built scheduling tool is perfectly adequate. It may hiccup every now and then, but with that many users you can be sure that it will be fixed soon enough.

For Twitter, Tweetdeck is a great tool that allows users to create and schedule Tweets, alongside a bunch of other features like creating custom feeds. These can come in really useful for spotting opportunities for interaction. While it may not have as many advanced analytics as Hootsuite’s paid version, that doesn’t stop it being the preferred choice of many social media marketers.

6. RiteTag

Hashtag strategy - what is it? Well, it’s using hashtags. Sounds simple, right! It’s not. Shame. What makes RiteTag one of the best small business social media tools is that it gives instant feedback on your chosen hashtags to help you decide which to use as part of your strategy.

Using the right hashtags is integral to seriously expanding your reach, but left to our own devices we are all guilty of having a few that we always use. We do so mistakenly thinking that they are powerful when they are actually just a waste of characters. If that’s you, I can’t recommend RiteTag highly enough.

7. DrumUp

Depending on how important external content (that is, content from other websites) is to your social media strategy (and the likelihood is that it will be to some extent), DrumUp can be a great tool. It has multiple functions which recommend content for you to share or curate based on your keywords, direct to your dashboard.

The dream is that your content marketing strategy would eventally become so good and so frequent that you would never need to go looking for content to curate - you would always have a steady stream coming from your blog. But until then, DrumUp is a great tool.

8. Canva

I’m pretty sure we are sponsored by Canva at Giraffe… If we aren’t and you are from Canva, get in touch. We are always raving about it. Absolutely everyone in the office makes use of it to create professional looking graphics for social media posts. It’s simple, easy to use and comes with a whole host of graphics, layouts, fonts and images. Power users - hit up either of the two below resources to get more out of it…

9. Pixabay & 10. Pexels

If Canva is the sword of Giraffe Social Media, Pixabay and Pexels are the shield and… force-field? Something like that. Anyway, these two sites are perfect for finding images under Creative Commons CC0. In laymans terms, this means you can do absolutely anything you like with them. Seriously, anything. And you won’t have to thank anybody.

There are a few things to consider when making use of stock images though. Ideally you only want to make use of them as one-off graphics - don’t make them key to your brand such as a permanent placeholder for the homepage on your website. The reason is that many consumers have seen the majority of them before and can spot them a mile off. But one-off use is ideal.

11. Websta

For my sins, I have only just started using Websta and I must say it is fabulous. It provides everything you would expect from a social media management tool - key analytics and insights, custom feeds and the ability to explore content - while allowing you to view and interact with other users’ posts. Instagram’s in-app analytics are currently basic at best - Websta takes those one-step further.

12. Later

Marketed as “The simpler way to plan your visual content marketing”, Later is a scheduling tool for Instagram that allows users to schedule and manage their posts ahead of time. Is it that? Well, it is true that Later allows you to spread out and create a steady stream of content - but it does take some investment. That said, if you use Instagram a lot then these kind of small business social media tools can be a God-send.

13. Website Grader

Hubspot’s Website Grader gives a full report on the strength of your marketing efforts across all of your digital channels. This includes, you guessed it, social media, but also content and SEO. Certain information can seem a little iffy from time to time but it is still really useful if you are strapped for time and looking for immediate direction.

14. Uprank

Uprank is an advanced research tool that analyses and provides data on the strength of your brand’s digital marketing, including website architecture, SEO and social media. It then generates and delivers a digital marketing strategy tailored to your site in the form of comprehensive tasks. Great as a starting point - but lacks the creative and innovative aspects needed to develop an awesome social media posting strategy.

15. AdParlor

AdParlor lets you create free mockups of ads for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. This can give you a much better idea of what your finished campaigns will look like to users on these networks. The brand new interface is sleek and easy to use. As small business social media tools go, this is one that can be perfect to help develop your social media advertising strategy, with scalable and downloadable mockups, instant previews and in-line character limits.

Simple Instagram Tricks Beyond Better Content That Actually Work

Instagram tricks beyond better content that actually work
Instagram is about way more than sharing photos. Start using these Instagram tricks and soon you will see more users engaging with your brand.

Social media marketers are insight-obesessive. For this reason, nothing delights me more than when a friend of mine who isn’t a devoted full-time social media marketer helpfully informs me which social networks are big business.

No really, I mean it.

Okay, I will admit that this is due in part to the fact that I take great pride in pointing out when people are incorrect… which is probably an aspect of my personality that could do with revisiting. But it’s mostly because this passion gives me great insight into how each network is currently viewed by users. Most recently it was this line…

Mate, it’s all about Instagram now. All about IG. IG is 🔥 right now.

Just how my friend managed to express the fire emoji verbally I’ll let you decide, but it definetely happened. Normally I would have taken the opportunity to start a discussion about the positives and negatives of single-network social media strategies, but instead I found I had to agree with him. Instagram is, for the mean time at least, most certainly 🔥.

Instagram tricks that work

It’s all well and good to say that one particular social network has the edge over others for inspiring engagement (ten times the average engagement of Facebook to be precise), so long as you explain how that engagement can be unlocked. Luckily there are some simple Instagram tricks that can give you an edge over your competitors and ensure that you are getting the most out of your activity.

Be super specific with your goals

If there is one of our Instagram tricks that casual marketers could do better with its being super specific with their goals, because many don’t really have any beyond “post something great, get likes”. Instagram can be great for keeping your audience aware of the inner-workings of your organisation, but it has much more potential than that - potential that deserves to be stretched! If you want to see more purchases of a particular product, be bold and make that your goal. Create a marketing plan focussed around constantly promoting and bringing awareness to that product including partnering with influencers, and you will hit that goal.

Initiate active following

The best way to grow your following in Instagram is to unashamedly steal your competitors followers. Unfortunately there aren’t any Instagram tricks for engagement in the traditional sense; you want an engaged following, the only way to grow it is through engaging. Utilise hashtag research to identify large accounts within your industry or niche and then begin to engage with their following - like and comment on users posts and follow them, give them a few days to respond before unfollowing any that haven’t followed back and repeating the process.

Attempt to influence the influencers who influence your influencers

This may be a mouthful, but at it’s centre is a strategy that is surprisingly easy to swallow. Influencer marketing is big business, especially on Instagram. Paid shoutouts can be great for certain users, especially e-commerce and bespoke products. However, by taking time to identify not just the influencers you want to potentially reach, but those that influence those influencers, you can substantially cut your budget as your products are likely to be picked up by those other users.

Use Facebook Insights to decide on partners for Instagram

If you’re considering about utilising influencer marketing on Instagram, one of the best Instagram tricks is to check out Facebook’s Audience Insights in order to discover the best users to partner with. The best way to do this is to create a custom audience and upload your customer email list, then click on Page likes. This will give you the best insight into what your audience is interested in.

Forging a Destiny of Social Media Influence

forging a destiny of social media influence
If you want to succeed in selling your products or services, you need to succeed in selling yourself first. You need to have social media influence.

What does success really, truly look like in the world of social media marketing? Simply put; influence. Successful brand pages quite openly exploit the influence that they have on their audience for their own gain. Trouble is, building social media influence is easier said than done. You can’t buy it. It won’t come as the result of some innovative new web tool focused on maximising engagement and minimising fuss.

Truly, far fewer marketers are competently cultivating it than would care to admit.

So how do you do that?

Becoming a social media influence for your industry is about more than writing great content that benefits your audience. That can only work in part after you have an identity. You must first identify some vital attributes for your brand and consistently display these in any and all marketing channels that you invest in.

Social networking is about connections. To use a technical analogy, and bearing in mind I have little to no knowledge of this sort of thing, the stronger a connection is, the more current that can pass through it without it breaking. (Is that right? It sounds right anyway.) If you want to have a significant social media influence on your connections you must first have created bonds that are unbreakable. That takes time and persistence; no amount of careful soldering is going to help. (Is that right? I think it’s time I let this one rest and moved onto something I’m more comfortable with.)

One for the Gamers: building a character, forging a destiny

If you’ve ever played a Role Playing Game, you’ll understand the process of building a character. And even if you haven’t, this is a great simile so I’m going to use it all the same and you should definitely read it.

When you build a character you are given a finite amount of character points. You spend them to govern which attributes and aspects of your character are most and least prominent. For example, you might have a natural inclination for high intelligence levels but not be as strong as others. Or you might, like me, cram all of your character points into charisma and be unable to even walk up a flight of stairs without fatigue setting in; but your silver-tongued nature means you can talk peasants into giving you a piggy-back. (Generally not recommended.)

How your brand is represented online, and even more so on social media, needs to be human. It needs to have a face and a voice that users will find instantly recognisable. As you launch (or in most cases now, re-launch) your pages for social media influence, you are essentially creating a character. The attributes that you invest in at the beginning will determine how far you can go towards influencing your audience.

In short, building influence can only occur with consistency of voice and persistence of post. Regardless of industry, these are the characteristics that you should be investing in to get there:

Intelligence - value beyond measure

At the bedrock of influence is value. Quite honestly, if you want people to care what you have to say about your industry then you have to have something good to say about it first. Ask yourself, honestly; is your brand sufficiently showing (not saying) that they hold an expert knowledge of their field? Content marketing is about showing, not telling. You can bet that there will be tens of thousands of brands and professionals in your industry who are happily boasting about being an expert - but how many of those are actually living the responsibility that comes with being an expert and sharing their opinion?

Endurance - consistency of voice

If you want people to care about what you have to say, they have to value you. Value is a reciprocal resource; you have to offer value to be value. Sounds simple, but by golly does it takes time. Only when coupled with dogged persistence will you start to see the expert opinion that you offer on your industry noticed and advocated by those in your online community. Social media marketing is most certainly a long game - just keep at it.

Charisma - unique individuality

Charisma isn’t just for peasant-riding stairwell-dwellers. A little individuality goes a long way. In fact, it’s the only tool in your arsenal that will allows you to stand out from all those competitors of yours who also want to unleash their ultimate influencing power. Be bold in creating a voice that isn’t just valuable to your audience in content, but also in style. Humour is not to be shunned. Salesy waffle-talk is.

Perception - cultivating trust

A perceptive social media marketing strategy isn’t just preoccupied with growth. It focuses on retaining an audience by building, setting and maintaining high standards of trust. The biggest of no-nos is constantly plugging your audience with promotions and salesy waffle-talk. If it was your expert voice that lured them in the first place, those are the expectations that they have. Under-deliver and expect a damaging loss of trust.

Strength - community orientated

What is it they say, there is strength in numbers? Well, forging an influence is about building a community of advocates; a tribe of individuals all united around the knowledge that you offer. So how are you supposed to cash in on that? Be community orientated. Or rather, within the confines of my fabulous gaming simile, guild orientated. Create a community culture, one of inside jokes, catchphrases and camaraderie.

Now, to battle worthy hero. Influence awaits you in the wilderness of... Das I’nTernet.

Social Media Tactics that Deserve to be Bulldozed

social media tactics that should be bulldozed
There are good social media tactics, there are bad social media tactics, and there are social media tactics that deserve to be bulldozed.

It's official. Just one glimpse on Twitter and it was confirmed to me; time to take out the metaphorical trash of beyond-bad social media tactics. Not controversial tactics, mind. That would suggest that these tactics warranted even a smidgen of advocacy from the deepest darkest fringes of digital marketing.

No. In the crosshairs today are those social media tactics that have gone past being dead in the water; so far past that they have started bloat, smell, and risk contaminating an otherwise fresh experience.

They are ruining it for everybody and they need to be levelled.

The final wrecking ball

Funnily enough it wasn't actually one of these tactics that confirmed it for me, it was the abscence of one. This morning I logged on to Twitter and was greeted by a tonne of notifications (which I was super psyched about) and about double the amount of messages waiting for me (which I was wholey un-psyched about).

As any self-respecting marketer whose account isn't primarily used for customer service would, I ignored the latter and launched directly into exploring my notifications. I was happily replying to interactions with witty GIFs and generally having a great time with our awesome followers, before my hand accidentally slipped. I found my screen populated with automated messages asking me to "collaborate!", "attend a free webinar!", "click for a guaranteed 5k+ followers!", and even one asking what type of bread our business used.

Now, apart from the last one which genuinely made me chuckle, I wasn't engaged by this inbox full of disengenuous ones and zeros. That is until in the centre of it all I found something I did not expect:

A proper, genuine message from an actual, real person.

You see, thanks to the mountains of automated messages we received every day I'd forgotten that direct messaging had another little-known function aside from being a take-it-anywhere robot junkmail cabinet. A barely used function that allows one Twitter user to message another privately. I know - mind boggling.

Down with this sort of thing

I know for a fact I’m not the only one who despairs at instances of marketing idiocy on social media. So once I’d responded to the human being (or might it have been a very convincing bot?) I resolved myself to write this article. What follows is a list of social media tactics that should be condemned to the past.

1. Automated Twitter messages (obviously)

If I hadn’t already made it perfectly clear, automated Twitter messages are on the verge of making the Twitter inbox obsolete for highly-active users. Primarily users make use of the standard “Thank you for following - insert pitch here” format. It’s nigh-on devoid of reason as theres nothing private about it. It may aswell be a tweet.

If you want a user to actually engage with you, reach out with something of value to them. And do it publicly. Direct messaging can and should be reserved for customer service and private matters, which can then be shifted to email. Bulldoze that bot.

2. Facebook groups for events

There is nothing more harrowing than being added to a club-night guest list group by a random promoter acquaintance you haven’t seen since freshers week at University eight years ago. But it happens.

I’m not completely sure where the inclination for creating private groups for public events on social networking came from - perhaps it’s a result of users being stuck in the dark ages. But its about time it stopped. Creating and promoting an event through your page on Facebook is the correct way to do it. Your friends want to be invited - not accosted.

3. Automated Instagram comments

No matter how hard you try to make your automated Instagram comments sound authentic, they just don’t. They are completely obvious. What’s more, they aren’t fair on everybody else as hashtags that are practically owned by bots fluff up engagement rates by polluting them with empty numbers.

And what’s worst, you won’t know where and what has been commented on on your behalf unless it is responded to.

Some services can seem intuitive enough, making use of hashtags to target content that might want to engage with. But at the rate that automated comment services work, sooner or later one of those seemingly random innocent comment combinations is going to look not-so innocent next to a particular photo - say for instance the comment “Wow, gorgeous! 😍was generated next to a photo of a small business owner’s children on holiday. Not good.

4. Mindless, useless tagging

Tagging can undoubtedly come in useful for expanding reach and building social media discourse. But like anything else on social media, it should only be engaged with if it offers value to users. Tagging a user in a conversation that is of little to no importance to them is a redundant endeavour and can actually harm a brand’s image. It is effectively wasting their time.

The key with tagging is to definetely do it when a piece of content or a conversation allows, but don’t go looking for it.

5. And finally, letting your politically fired-up MD run your Twitter account

This may sound ridiculous and obvious, but now is not the time for your brand to start getting politically fired-up. In fact, unless your business explicitly requires your engagement, you’d do well to avoid politics alltogether for the foreseeable future. I chose the above statement as one of the worst cases of political preaching I have ever seen came from the account of producers of novelty coasters whose brand was otherwise rather witty.

So, to recap; don’t let the robots takeover, don’t force users to do something they don’t want to do, and definetely don’t let your political stance ruin your otherwise jovial voice.

Got anything you’d like to add to the list? Tweet us - @GiraffeSM.
(Just ignore the automated response)

Why Popular Hashtags are Ruining Your Social Media Strategy

Hashtags ruining your social media strategy
There are two different ways to use hashtags to drive your posts. Both will expand your reach - but only one will have a lasting positive effect.

Early one morning last week I was asked by a close friend of mine whether hashtags still matter. My response was, justifiably, abrupt. Yes, obviously hashtags still matter. While their applications may vary from social network to social network, they are one of the few remaining organic tools that social media marketers still have in their arsenal; one that allows them put their content in front of previously un-reached users.

My frustration was valid - you see, my friend is an incredibly tech-savvy professional with a firm grasp on the ins-and-outs of social media marketing. While this would be a respectable question for somebody less clued-in to ask, for her it felt a little… well, silly.

But the more I got to considering the way that some businesses are now using hashtags in their strategies, the more my friend’s question seemed justified. So I apologised for the curtness of my response. I ensured her that it was definitely due to the early hour and my low caffeine reserves, and not at all a result of my now making the majority of my social interactions on Twitter and forgetting what appropriate human communication looks like.

The issue with popular hashtags

Hashtags serve a selection of different purposes. For users they offer a quick-glance insight into the content of a post, while also serving as shortcuts to developing conversations that matter to them. For businesses they are a tool for putting their brand voice directly in front of those users, and of keeping track of their campaigns.

Engaging with popular trends week-in week-out is a great way to extend your reach. The issue where some business is concerned surrounds engaging with hashtags that remain only popular to marketers. Sure they trend - but they only trend because they are overused by social media managers struggling for originality. And you will certainly receive engagement - but it is likely to be from the very same users, and not anybody who could eventually become an advocate for your brand.

Marketers marketing to marketers (often about marketing)

In the past they were used to complement the creation of creative campaigns. However, for some users (not all, mind) they are now more often used where brands are struggling for originality; they have become something to fall back on.

Take #MondayMotivation for example. Now, this may be a relevant hashtag for a family service that focusses on supporting people, but possibly not so much for a corporate electrician. However, the latter might have posted about it once and seen a nice amount of engagement, and so continually do so, unwittingly serving an audience who aren't their customers at all.

At this point we merely have marketers inadvertently marketing to other marketers (often about marketing), and raving about their results... regardless of the fact that those results have just come from other marketers who marketed to that marketer, inadvertently. Sounds bad, right?

Hastags: we must use them - not the other way around

Hashtags are an integral part of your social media marketing strategy. That means that you have to do your research in order to get anything out of them. Simply moulding your calendar around weekly trends and resorting to the same hashtags won’t work. Don’t let a fancy piece of alliteration decide how your posting strategy is going to look.

If you’re struggling to start using better hashtags, consider making use of a tool like Ritetag or Tagboard. The former is a great tool for reviewing the performance of current popular hashtags, whereas the latter has a handy grid layout that allows you to analyse the strength of specific hashtags. Still lost? We'd love to help - reach out @GiraffeSM.

Beware These 9 Popular Social Media Myths

Popular social media myths busted

There is so much so-called “advice” on the Internet that it can be difficult to work out what is actually true and could make a difference to your digital marketing efforts - so let's bust some social media myths.

Social media allows businesses to market themselves in a place where their customers are naturally comfortable and willing to listen. Because content marketing has become such a prominent and effective tool for maintaining a steady market on your website, many people write and promote their own blog articles - including social media heads and digital marketers. The problem is that some of the tips that they include in their articles may well appear to be classed as common knowledge but, in reality, have little to no grounding in fact.

We’ve set out to bust some of the most popular social media myths so that you can have a better idea as you launch into your own digital marketing efforts...

MYTH #1:
Integrating all your networks is the path to success

There are plenty of social media automation tools out there that allow you to integrate and post your content across multiple networks. This isn’t always a good thing. Because each social network has its own restraints and features, one piece of content simply cannot be suitable for all of them. Remember that your messages are not catch-all and need to be tailored specifically to each network.

MYTH #2:
The more followers the better

A huge social media following does not always spell success. It’s far better to grow your network steadily within the right audience; after all, these are the people who are going to consider using your services. social media gives new light to the concept of specifically targeted marketing. Sometimes all it takes is a small following of the right people for your network to grow organically. As far as social media myths go, this is one of the worst and can be damaging.

MYTH #3:
It’s impossible to track ROI on social media

Tracking ROI through social media can be difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible. Any social media marketing company worth their salt should have access to the right analytical tools and reporting software that can help track leads that have come directly from social media.

MYTH #4:
The popularity of your social media pages has a direct impact on your web search results

Some people seem to think that the strength of your social media pages has a direct impact on your website’s Google rankings, as studies have pointed out a correlation between high Facebook activity and good ranking on SERPs. It doesn’t - it has an indirect impact that’s all down to content marketing. If you want your social media to have a positive effect on your search results you need to be creating awesome content on your website and encouraging shares, clicks and links through social networking.

MYTH #5:
Only promoted posts give you a reach worth shouting about

It’s a matter of time and about building an engaged audience. If you spend time investing in building the correct audience, eventually the amount of engagement on your organic posts will be able to stand up to the might of your promoted posts.

MYTH #6:
Interacting with your competitors is bad for business

It’s understandable that some businesses are wary about interacting with their competitors on social media - it’s something that is simply not done down any other marketing avenue. However, their audience is your audience, and interacting with them will get you noticed. You aren’t poaching their customers - you are simply promoting the beginning of a discussion that will hopefully grow among users and become mutually beneficial.

MYTH #7:
Follow and retweet competitions are the best way to grow

Follow and retweet competitions can grow your following quickly over a short amount of time - but after your competition is over you are likely to find out that many of your entrants were only interested in the free iPad that you were giving away and they will inevitably unfollow you. That’s not to say competitions aren’t great though - it’s just much better to create something that is interactive and requires a particular action to enter. While you will have less entrants, you will find that you grow a far more engaged audience as a result.

MYTH #8:
You can guarantee a certain amount of growth

While social media is a great digital marketing tool, that also makes it very competitive. Be wary of any social media management service that makes a promise about the amount of followers they will get you - this is one of the most toxic social media myths. Quality social media marketing companies will always research and undertake the best practice to get the best results for your industry but it is impossible to guarantee results. There are a number of illicit services that can buy you followers and none of them are even worth considering.

MYTH #9:
Social media is just a fad

The concept of social media has been around for years, way before the Internet boom of the nineties. There are now 2.307 billion social media users worldwide - over 31% of the global population. So I think we can safely assume that it’s here to stay.

What Happens When You Ignore Social Media Marketing?

What happens when you ignore social media

We’re at a point in time now where choosing to ignore social media is laughable. Without it things look very bleak indeed..

The reason is simple - it’s a marketing avenue where even the nichest of audiences can be found, one that facilitates brand awareness and advocacy on a herculean scale whilst also granting access to intuitive and measurable advertising.

When we talk about social media marketing we can all benefit from recognising that we’re no longer referring to a new concept. Social media is now about what we do not what we could do. This means that businesses who now engage in social media marketing (which should be absolutely all of them to one extent or another) can do so with a complete understanding of what each network can (and can’t) viably achieve, hence the possibilities become achievements and the future becomes the now.

The numbers are still significant and still growing - average daily social media usage among internet users reportedly amounts to 118 minutes this year, up from 109 minutes daily during 2015. The idea of pulling the plug on it needn’t bear thinking about - but just in case you are, here’s what happens when you ignore social media marketing.

Web traffic slows down and your content has very little impact

Because so much of our daily internet usage is taken up by social networking, a significant chunk of discovery for external sites comes from there. Opting to rely wholeheartedly on traffic from your blog and organic clicks from search engines will undoubtedly result in a noticeable slowing down of web traffic.

Social media isn’t about blindly posting your brand in front of random people, it’s about distributing the expert or entertaining content from your website to those who are likely to have use for it. Figures released last year suggested that Facebook now accounts for more traffic to news sites than Google. Content marketing is pretty useless without a clear social media distribution strategy; in order to increase your chances of your content getting noticed, shared and curated by influencers, you need to make sure it is sufficiently published.

If you aren’t noticing a high level of engagement or clicks on your content, it’s likely to do with how it is optimised for that particular network. Not one site is the same, so be aware of what performs well wherever you are posting and ensure your content is suitably tailored to each.

You risk being seen as the friend who never comes out and brand awareness significantly drops

Social media is integral to building awareness of your brand by real people. Social media brings with it something of a label that validates your business among the 24/7 culture of the 21st century. When you aren’t remaining active on there you risk losing that potency.

Remaining active on social media is about positioning your business beside users’ personal life; sooner or later you are likely to be integrated. As those discussions grow, so can your audience. When you are nowhere to be seen, people start to forget about you and instead turn their focus to those that are there; your competitors.

Your industry stops appreciating your voice and you lose customers to competitors

This is particularly significant for those in a B2B industry. Utilising content marketing alongside social media marketing is the perfect way to develop and expert, a professional voice that builds trust and awareness in your brand. When you let that slip often those in your industry begin to forget about you.

On social media your audience expect to be listened to. Regardless of whether they have something positive or negative to say about your brand, they expect a response. By not remaining reactive and retaining your professional online voice your risk alienating customers and losing them to your competitors.

Facebook research looks to allow people to communicate via brain waves

Facebook wants to read your brain waves
Facebook may be investing in futuristic technology that uses neuroimaging and electrophysiological data to let humans communicate via brain waves.

Last year Facebook created an uber-secretive research division named Building 8. Headed up by ex-Google Advanced Technology and Projects Group Executive Regina Dugan. Its vision is to developing innovative consumer hardware products that advance their ultimate aim of connecting the world. A worthy assignment, granted - but what specifically are these products they speak of?

Sadly, we don’t really know. That’s the issue with top secret research facilities. They do tend to be rather… well, secretive. Anybody who was ever a fan of 90s zombie horror can tell you that. However, several recent job postings suggest that they are working to make Mark Zuckerberg’s previously cited dream of communicating via brain waves a reality.

One such job posting seeks a Brain-Computer Interface Engineer with a Ph.D. in neuroscience (or similar) and at least three years experience working with “brain-computer interface technologies or other applications or machine learning methods to neuroimaging and/or electrophysiological data”. Another seeks a Neural Imaging Engineer with a Ph.D. in Physics (or similar) to “design and evaluate novel neural imaging methods based on optical, RF, ultrasound, or other entirely non-invasive approaches”.

Wait, seriously, what?

In layman’s terms (if such technology can actually be described in layman’s terms), neuroimaging technology seeks to scan, understand and discern what is happening in the brain, specifically through brain waves. Previous technology has made use of headbands to measure brain waves activity. While there is no way of telling exactly what methods Facebook will use and the kind of product that they will eventually create, they are likely to build on previous known technology.

The creation of such a product is likely to be a long time coming. Nevertheless it would represent a major breakthrough in computing and would elevate Facebook, already the uncontested leader in social networking, to the top of the world of science and technology.

This may just the tip of the iceberg for groundbreaking, innovative research projects to come out of Umbrella Corp. Sorry, did I say Umbrella? I meant Building 8. Clearly.

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