Yesterday, I got a text at dinner from a fellow social media geek (Thanks Casie!), telling me the best Twitter news since, well, Twitter.
For social media managers, this means one less thing to get frustrated with our business partners about. Before, it was all about the 2:1 ratio rectangular image (which so many people either didn’t understand, or chose to ignore.) 1024×512 px – I will hold those dimensions in my social media brain for years to come.
This was a unique-to-Twitter image size. It didn’t matter as much on desktop (though it still drove me crazy there) but on mobile, were 80-90% of Twitter users enjoy the social media platform, it meant that if you didn’t use this image size, the pictures usually looked terrible.
This was me before the news, when it came to telling people to STOP posting non-Twitter-friendly images.
This is me after the news. Mainly because I can cross this particular pet peeve off my list.
Here are 3 things (I’m hoping) this Twitter news will change.
1. No more cut off heads. I never understood why people insisted on Tweeting images directly from their phones that weren’t taken in landscape mode or cropped to the Twitter wide image size. Because every vertical photo in the history of Twitter (that may be a stretch, but you get the point) was sure to have a line up of smiling, happy people doing something fun except THEIR HEADS WERE CUT OFF!
The new Twitter image announcement should mean that we can stop the beheadings and actually see Tweets with faces again!
2. No more quote graphics where we only see three words of the quote. The same principal applies here. All those wonderful square quote graphics you see on Facebook? They’re square. Until yesterday, they were cropped into Twitter size, meaning rectangular. It was like reading a redacted bulletin from the government. Now, they should be more readable.
3. Better, quality engagement for brands. When you’re looking at total engagements or engagement rate on Twitter, someone clicking on an image counts as an “engagement.” When images were cut off, clicking on an image was the only way to see the full graphic. That meant, if your goal was getting someone to click a link, reply to your post, etc. you were diverting engagements away from your real goal. This way, the whole picture is there. If people are clicking on an image, they’re really interested, because they’ve seen the whole image before clicking. That SHOULD mean they’re extra engaged, more clicks, more replies, etc. I think I hear the hallelujahs already.
There’s on downside, mostly for me, personally, and social media purists. It just means that brands who handed social media off to the “youngsters” or the interns, or to old-school marketers who didn’t understand how to effectively use Twitter can continue in blissful ignorance of how they were shooting themselves in the foot and giving their followers a less-than-social experience on the platform.
They can still continue to post not-engaging photos, blurry pictures, pictures taken of a panel of people from the back of the room — things that this new Twitter change won’t affect at all. Plus, there are other social channels, like Instagram, that marketers can focus on ruining.
Social media managers have been talking about the “Reachpocalypse” for nearly a year now. Over the past months, Facebook has tweaked their algorithm time and time again to get us to the current state of affairs – Facebook Zero.
Facebook Zero is the result of Facebook making it harder and harder for brands to achieve any organic reach at all on newsfeed. If you want to play for eyeballs, you have to pay. For the Facebook user in me, who has her Facebook news feed curated like the Smithsonian, I see less “junk” in my feed, so I see the benefit. For the social media manager in me, it’s taken all the fun out of Facebook.
During the earlier part of my career, part of what I thrived on was seeing how many fans we could get and how many would engage with the content I created. Only just a few years ago, I increased organic engagement 30% quarter over quarter for more than a year. What a rush it was to play with the content, tweak it, create graphics and get those shares.
For a while now, it’s been hard to feel that content high. What was killing it before is now merely a “meh” in the content-verse. For the past six months, it’s been like pulling teeth to get even the tiniest organic reach on any content. Companies started giving up on Facebook completely as early as last year, because Facebook played the old “bait-and-switch” — encouraging them at first to spend mega bucks and mega time to grow an organic fan base that is now unreachable unless you spent more.
In my social media heart, I moved on as well. The strategy was to still post Facebook content, but as an extended version of content created for other channels. Twitter became my favorite channel, because while their algorithm has changed some, good content could still get me that reach “high.”
Then, something happened. There was an organizational change and a new mandate to “take some risks” with social content. That put some of the fun back in “fundamentals” and I took a new look. Then, something like a magical kitten riding a rainbow unicorn happened. Our reach on Facebook increased by 4-5X. It wasn’t a fluke, because the reach has maintained the increase for a few weeks now.
I will say the reach is nowhere near where it would’ve been a year ago, but it was an interesting mini case-study. Can good content combat against the chains that is Facebook Zero? Yes — and no. It’s probably more important than ever, and we did see an increase in organic reach. However, a paid strategy is still in order to make the content investment worthwhile. I’m wagering that the content that showed organic reach will kill it with a paid boost, as it has in the past.
It’s just that now, I’m feeling a little bit of my Facebook groove coming back. 🙂
I’m going to get very meta and write a blog post about writing a blog post. However, there’s a blog post, and then there’s a socially-optimized blog post.
There’s the standard wisdom, which bears repeat mention. Write about what you know. Be conversational, not preachy. If it’s not helpful or enlightening, don’t write it. Evoke some kind of emotion. (Humor, anger, excitement, an ah-ha! moment.) Spell check. Use proper grammar and sentence structure.
However, if you want to have your blog post (or LinkedIn post) be social-media-friendly, here are some extra insights.
1. Socially-optimized blog tip #1. Use lists, and craft your headline around them. <Click here to Tweet this tidbit.>
See my headline for this post? It’s 3 tips. Maybe you write about 5 pet peeves about resumes. Or 7 great gifts for social media geeks. There’s a reason David Letterman has a top 10 list every week on his show. Lists are a great way to organize blog content, and they’re also highly shareable.
While writing this post, I saw an article about a study BuzzSumo performed, and they found that lists are the second-most shared content, only behind infographics. It’s nice to know that data backs experience. 🙂
2. Socially-optimized blog tip #2. Allow readers to share your blog content in bite-sized bits as well as the whole shebang. <Click here to Tweet this tidbit.> So we’ve said that using lists is a great way to organize and display content. It’s also a great way to break up your thoughts into 140-character shares. (Perfect for Twitter.) There’s this great site called Click To Tweet. You type in the message you want to share (in this case, the list item) and it gives you a link. Use the handy embed code or WordPress plugin for your post, and boom! Easy sharing.
Let’s tell the story of social media visuals, with social media visuals. 🙂
There has been some debate about the origins and the number of 60,000X, but I included it here and made the caveat not because of the number itself, because of the vast amounts of science that indicates the principal of the number.
Describe a circle in a sentence. Then show them a circle. How much faster did the concept resonate? It’s an important principal as we move forward.
Think of how fast the world we live in moves, especially on social media. One minute we’re all worried if Kim Kardashian’s butt will break the Internet, and the next we’re wondering what selfie we’ll post after lunch. The human attention span is getting shorter and shorter, thanks to technology and social media. Down from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013 (so says the National Center for Biotechnology Information.)
So now think of how fast we thumb through our Twitter feed, or our Facebook timeline when we’re on mobile. And when we’re on mobile, we’re usually only using half of that 8 second attention . . . . wait, squirrel! (You get the point.) We’re walking. We’re shopping. Hopefully we’re not driving. So how do you, as a brand, as a small business, as an influencer, stand out in a sea of Tweets and posts? With visuals.
“How is social media going to drive results for this project?”
All social media managers have a (*wink*) magic keyboard button that gives the answer to this question. It’s next to the “create a viral video” key.
Joking aside, this might be the most frequent, and frustrating, question that social media practitioners hear. I recently attended a social media conference with 400 other social folks from big brands, and this is the one area where everyone had a gripe, and an opinion.
There are two answers to this question to help you work your social media mojo. What makes these questions magic? They are answers in the form of questions.
Magic Answer #1: What is the goal? There is no shortage of data in social media. In fact, there is an abundance of it, but you have to know which goal you’re driving towards in order to sort through all that data. Different goals mean different data points. Where on the marketing funnel are you trying to make an impact? Let’s take a look at some examples.
Goal = awareness. In this case, you’ll want to talk about reach (how many people saw the social post) and engagement (how many people took an action. Engagement rate, which is reach divided by engagement will also be helpful here, to show you if it’s awareness, or QUALITY awareness.)
Goal = site traffic. Here, you’ll want to track click through rate, along with reach and engagement. Of course, you will optimize your social post for clicks (for example, engagement on Twitter also includes clicks on images, hashtags, your user name, etc.) and use tracking codes along with metrics from your shortened url.
Goal = leads. Of course, you’ll still want awareness and engagement, but this is a much more finite number. How many emails did you get from the white paper download, for example. Suggested strategies are that you focus on paid campaigns for better results.
I have a big social media pet peeve. This one thing that drives me crazy. I see it a lot. Please, for the love of all that is #Holy, stop doing this right now.
Stop optimizing your social media profiles and status updates to look great on desktops.
Those of us that do this crazy social media thing for a living are likely posting status updates and such from a desktop or laptop, but that’s not the way social media consumers are accessing it. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s not the way social media professionals access it either. (At least, when we’re in our real lives.)
Business Insider says 60% of social media time is spent on a mobile device. When last I got a report from Twitter, the reps had the number closer to 80%. You can’t even POST to Instagram from a desktop. Regardless of the source, the story is the same.
Statistically, most of your social media audience is on a mobile device. So why isn’t your profile mobile-friendly? <Tweet this!>
AMC’s The Walking Dead has trained an entire fan base on how to prepare for the possibility of the zombie apocalypse. First, keep calm and call Daryl. 🙂 But seriously, those same survival tactics can help you survive a possible social media-pocalypse. Preparedness is key.
1. Be a part of a group. There’s protection in numbers when the zombies come a’ chompin’. Social media can be a cruel, cruel world, too, and you’re going to need support. Surrounding yourself with strong social media folks/friends can go a long way to surviving out there.
One of the best ways to find your people is through Twitter chats. There are several social media Twitter chats I can recommend, but the ones I try to block my calendar for are #BufferChat on Wednesdays at Noon EST and #CmgrChat on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. EST.
There are other ways to group yourself with smart social folks. LinkedIn groups can offer a great way to get involved, as can Google+ groups. For example, I just joined a G+ group for Pinterest, and already have 2 new tips to try!
2. You’re going to need good tools/weapons. Without a good sword/knife/arrow you don’t stand a chance against the Walkers. The same goes for social — you can’t make a dent out there in the social media sphere if you don’t have the right tools. Just as each character on the show has their weapon of choice, social media tools are a personal decision, but there are a couple I can recommend.
Canva – While it’s in Beta and can still be glitchy, it’s a life-saver when it comes to creating social-friendly and professional images for your posts on the fly. Maybe you don’t have a designer, or you need something, like, NOW! Canva is key, and makes it easy for those of us with little to no design ability.
TweetDeck – I couldn’t keep my Twitter feed organized on my laptop without it. Web-based and easy to use, it allows me to set up columns based on follower lists, hashtags, @mentions, whatever. It’s like having an organized closet, you can see everything at a quick glance. They really need a mobile version, but there are some mobile apps that do the same thing. Sadly, none make me as Tweet happy as TweetDeck.
3. Have a plan, but be ready to act fast. In case of the zombie apocalypse, it’s important to have a plan. Where will you run? Who will you find first? Every social media person should also have a crisis plan. What happens when something like the Boston Marathon bombings go down, and you have a paid Tweet targeting Boston? Knowing what do to in an emergency in social can save you time and a lot of bad PR.
More than that, it’s important to have a daily social media plan. A calendar if you will. Know what you’re posting, when you’re posting it, and how you plan to post. This helps keep you organized in case of those emergencies, but it also allows you to see above the day to day into the overall strategy. That’s not to say, however, that you shouldn’t be flexible. When the zombies start groaning in the direction of your escape route, you may need to change your plan. Some of the best social media opportunities (Oreo’s Superbowl “You can still dunk in the dark” Tweet, for example) happen when you’re paying attention and adjusting on the fly. Having a bigger plan in place can help you take advantage of those opportunities.
4. Stupid stuff gets you killed. Just when you think you’ve got the zombies figured out, you get complacent, and forget to check and make sure someone sufficiently stabbed a dead in the head, and BOOM! you get bit. Social media world is the same. You can never be complacent, you can never rest on your laurels. It’s a dog-eat-dog social media world out there, and things are always changing. Algorithms change, tools change, new platforms emerge.
Here are just a few examples of stupid stuff that gets you killed in social.
Not thinking through your hashtags. Possibly the most famous fail was Susan Boyle’s album launch party. Hashtag # Susanalbumparty. (Caps in hashtags are allowed, folks.)
Forgetting that you don’t own your social message, your fans do. Think you can pay for social recommendations and get away with it? Think you can talk about your product amidst a scandal and not address it?
Letting interns manage your social account just because they’re GenY. Social media marketing is a skill, just like coding or engineering. It’s just that people think that having a Twitter handle makes you an expert. Yeah, no.
Personally, I know I’m no match for the zombie apocalypse, and no matter how much Walking Dead you watch, you’re probably in the same boat. But these social media tips can get you through the day-to-day struggle in social.
If you are using Twitter to amplify a brand, either a professional or a personal one, it’s important to understand how the platform works before you start using it if you want to be successful.
I’ve seen this mistake too many times in the past few weeks to let it go any longer. I’m certainly not the first to try to help erase the practice (nod to Gary Vaynerchuk) but if writing my own post about it will help change the Twitterverse in some small way (and eliminate my own *headslaps* in the process) I’ll do it.
Gary V’s Slideshare is a fun way, in 44 slides, to talk about the problem. I’m going to boil it down for you into one sentence.
If you want all of Twitter to see what you post, for the love of all that is holy, do not start your Tweet with an @ symbol. (Click to Tweet)
@UVAMensHoops I really want to win a national championship this year. #GoHoos
In this example, only the people who follow both my account (@CShirkeyCollins) and @UVAMensHoops will see this post. Out of my 1300+ followers, that probably equals 15 people. Maybe 16.
I, however, am a rabid UVA fan, having matriculated there as the Class of 1994. Aside from a short time during my attendance, where our football team was ranked number 1 in the country for a mere three weeks, I’ve never witnessed a UVA football or basketball team get national recognition. Sure, we have a great soccer team with many championships, but we’re Americans. That would mean a lot to our European students, but we care about football and basketball. (We’re so shallow.)
That means I want THE WORLD to know that @UVAMensHoops needs to bring it home for me this year.
In that case, I am going to make sure I don’t start my Tweet with an @ symbol. I am going to add a simple piece of punctuation, a period (.), in front of my Tweet so the entire Twitter universe will know of my obsession.
Example: .@UVAMensHoops Please oh please oh please keep your stellar season going and win one for the #Hoos!
Now, anyone can see my fandom! It’s a Twitter miracle!
Just because someone is your competitor, doesn’t mean that, on social media, they are your competition. If you’re Coke, your competition on social media isn’t Pepsi. If you’re Starbucks, your competition on social media isn’t Dunkin’ Donuts.
My friends at Twitter gave me the best slide ever to explain this concept. It was visual, visceral, and I’ve used it over and over again to great success in convincing peers and higher-ups as to what the heck I’m striving for every day.
The slide featured three pictures. One of Ellen’s all-time-record-breaking selfie. One of Lebron James, and one of an Oreo cookie. Below those pictures were the words: “What do these things have to do with your social media program?”
The answer? They’re your competition.
Traditional marketers are going to argue with me. They’re going to think this is crazy. They spend their time comparing and competing with their business rivals. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be aware of what your competitors are doing in the social media space, I’m saying that shouldn’t be your primary concern.
Your customers are human beings. They have a life. They’re on social media to have conversations — with their friends, with their favorite brands, with celebrities (they hope) and more. If you’re going to be successful in social media, you need to stand out among all of their conversations. You’re competing for the one resource that we can’t make more of — their time.