Making Instagram Work For Your Brand

For many small businesses and solopreneurs, especially those in the business to business sector, finding value in or leveraging Instagram can be difficult. It’s been a challenge for me as well. Over the past 6 months in my quest to figure out how to crack Instagram for myself (all part of walking the talk), I’ve learned a few things.

 

What To Post

Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual based platform. The big difference between the two social media sites – curation vs original content. While much of the content I see posted are memes, quotes and other assorted images pulled from other places, Instagram’s Community Guidelines clearly state:

“As always, you own the content you post on Instagram. Remember to post authentic content, and don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.”

To use Instagram you need to be taking and posting your own images. I’ve posted before I don’t generally take many pictures (though I am getting better – to a fault. I was recently scolded for taking pictures in the grocery store) and then there’s the issue of what to even post. If your business isn’t visual, what then?  No pictures means no post. This was one of my issues until I started rethinking how I approached Instagram.

 

My shift in how I approached Instagram – more personal than business – helped. Finding images was easier. Anything which makes me laugh is worth posting. A ‘saga’ has even started to emerge based on the antics of my daughter’s little men:

Tactical Social Media Instagram Ikea men saga

Being primarily personal has helped build a following and highlight my brand’s personality (and it’s more fun), but hasn’t done wonders for driving traffic. I decided to experiment with adding images from my blog posts.

I now have a mix of content – business for the traffic, personal for the fun and, well consistent content – and all original.

 

Driving Engagement, Interaction and Web Traffic

Engagement

Getting engagement matters, but only to a point. How you interact with those engaging on your content matters more. It’s where the relationships are built.  Getting engagement on Instagram is about getting your images seen.  The platform is a cross between feed driven (seeing the posts from profiles you follow) and search driven (looking for new content).

Building a following helps, but like Twitter, having your image show in a feed can be a challenge. A great image when seen, will get the viewer to stop. Adding the good description will help get the engagement.  The right use of hashtags will get your image will get it found and assuming your image is perfect and a great description, you should get your engagement. It can be overwhelming to excel enough at each point. My advice – stop trying!

You may get the most engagement from the perfect image posted at the perfect time but in the end it’s not about how much engagement you get but how you interact with it that matters. You don’t need the perfect post. That quest, at some point, ultimately ends with frustration (been there).

 

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]There is a diminishing law of returns when you start calculating the time to find, craft and post the perfect content in the quest for the perfect post and most engagement.[/perfectpullquote]

 

Here’s my approach:

Images: Keep it simple. I see something – I post it. I may even specifically look for something. What I don’t do is stress over the image’s colors or how it might look when posted. The perfect image may be the route to the most engagement but requires quite a bit of work.  Stop over thinking and aiming for the ideal. Post what makes you take notice, smile or laugh. Besides, if the image was good enough to have caught your eye, chances are pretty good it will catch someone else’s and you may just be seen as more genuine to your followers.

As for the comment about specifically looking for something – when you do find something that connects with your audience, put the effort into finding similar content.

Stress less over what the ‘experts’ tell you is best. Social will be less like work if you just post and more likely you’ll do it consistently. Have fun with it.

Descriptions: Keep it short. Aside from blog images where I can simply cut and paste the text and I’m after ‘readers’, I try to keep the wording to a minimum. It’s a visual platform. I want to make you take notice and get a glimpse at who I am and my brand’s personality. Short, sweet and simple.

Hashtags: Use them to your heart’s content. HStuck On How To Make Instagram Work For You Instagram?ere is one time more is
better. Engagement rises as the number of hashtags increase. Hashtags are the default search method. Seems the optimal number is 11 or more. My personal rule of thumb – just make sure all of them are relevant to your image.  Can’t think of more than one or two? Try this:

  • Grab your phone
  • Open Instagram
  • Search for the one hashtag you plan to use
  • Open a few images and check out the hashtags used.

And if you can’t come up with 11 – just post it! You’ll notice most of my content has far short of 11. Again, diminishing ROI. Too much time and stress for me.

 

Interaction

Interaction is the key to social. I don’t care how many people like you. They need to connect with you. What you do with the likes is what truly matters and there is a way to do it on Instagram.

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]Engagement is good but to really leverage Instagram or any social site for that matter, you ultimately need interaction.[/perfectpullquote]

 

Hats off to my friend Debra Jason, author of Millionaire Marketing On A Shoestring Budget, does a better job in this area than anyone I know. She does it using a tactic she borrows from her LinkedIn experience. Not only does she reply to everyone who comments, doing so in a way to foster conversation (HINT!!), she takes the time to add a simple comment thanking even those who liked her post.  A simple thank you goes a long way towards building relationships and support.

Brilliant!

 

Web Traffic

Here’s the real challenge. Converting social into web traffic requires links (though someone could see your business name and search it).  The only place working links will appear on Instagram is in your bio.  Not only do you need images and descriptions which get seen and earn engagement, your content needs to be compelling enough to get the viewer back to your profile and clicking the link.  It may seem like you’re asking a lot but Mike Allton points out in his article for The Social Media Hat Instagram followers are devoted and will take that time!

One area I ‘break’ with most experts is on use of links within image descriptions. The prevailing wisdom is the lack of value links provide (by not being live) makes it pointless to include them. Including them can be seen, like using hashtags in LinkedIn posts – those don’t work either – as ignorant

 

So why do I include links in my descriptions?

In a word, opportunity.  Adding a link within your post description may not result in traffic,  but more do equate to more opportunity, even if they’re not active links.

  • Remember and manually enter:  Cut and paste isn’t possible in Instagram posts (on your smartphone) but shortened links are easy to remember and manually enter into your mobile browser.  Mike Allton spoke to the dedication of Instagram devotees in his recent   If they’re willing to track back to your bio, hit the link to your homepage and then find the content, they’re every bit as likely to type a short link directly into their browser.
  • Desktop use. Instagram may be a mobile-based platform but you can still access profiles from your desktop. You cannot post, edit or comment on posts via your browser but you can log into your account. That enables you to view your feed and search for content.  For those using this method, albeit a very small minority, cut and paste is quick and easy.  Viewing feeds also allows them to be pinned from Instagram. While the preference would be pinning directly from your site (leveraging Rich Pins), any link in the description, will carry over to Pinterest. It may still not be a working link, but there is another opportunity to cut and paste.
    .
    Some third-party Instagram web viewers like Websta have enabled active links. If you were smart enough to include a link within your description and I view you image on Websta….. a simple click will take me to your website.Active links in Instagram posts with Instwogram; Making INstagram work for you.
  • Working Links:
    Links aren’t clickable when using the OEM app BUT they are with the Instwogram Android app. This makes it extremely beneficial for those of us using this application (I originally came across it when researching a method for posting to multiple Instagram accounts) and following you. If you’re including links, you make it far more likely (than even the most devoted follower) to click-through.

Adding a link within your content may not look as clean and could show ‘ignorance’ as to how Instagram works, but for me, what others see as ignorance I see as a potential opportunity.

One point to note here. Instagram’s predominant mobile bias means unlike the rest of the big social media sites, clicking a link within an Instagram bio will attribute the link as direct and not from Instagram in Google Analytics. To accurately identify the traffic you will need to use tracking links in your bio. The same holds true for links within the body of you post.

Hootsuite users can follow the details laid out by Mike is his above-referenced post or by using Google’s URL Builder.

 

The Bottom Line

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]Instagram not working for you? #BeTactical: Maybe you need to take a fresh look at it, stress less and just have some fun with it.[/perfectpullquote]

 

There are 2 parts to social media: Social AND Media. Your content is only PART of the equation. Social + Media = Success; Tactical Social Media Agency, Tacoma: #BeTactical

There are 2 parts to social media: Social AND Media. Your content is only PART of the equation. Social + Media = Success; Tactical Social Media Agency, Tacoma: #BeTactical

There are 2 parts to social media: Social and Media.

Less broadcasting, more engagement.

If you’re not doing both, success will be limited.

Are you doing both or just broadcasting?

53 Percent of Instagram Users Follow Brands…

A recent infographic (posted below, credit to adweek.com) by Global Web Index found

53% of Instagram users follow their favorite brands and 44% use Instagram to conduct brand research.

The natural first thought is it go full throttle and start making Instagram your new best friend based strictly on the infographic, but a word of caution is in order.

I firmly believe Instagram is a great platform and small business owners and solopreneurs would be remiss if they weren’t at least using it to some degree.

However, the results, like those of any study, should be looked at with some additional scrutiny to determine how much effort or focus should be put into the platform.

Defining ‘Brands‘.

I’m not looking to actually define what a brand is but determine what was considered a brand by the respondents of the survey.  For most, mention brands and we immediately think if Coca-Cola, Old Navy, Porsche….. what we consider to be nationally recognized name brands.  Your business and even yourself, if you’re a professional, are brands.  One of social media’s core roles for your business should be to make your name recognizable and a ‘household brand’, if even on a local level.

But, if we were to logically assume the brands followed were those national brands, do those same numbers correlate to local brands?  Do local brands see the same or similar percentages?

The Demographic.

The study did look at the active base of each network from 16 to 64, but Instagram’s core user is under 35. According to GWI’s email regarding the study to the SocialTimes about 70% of Instagram’ users are under 35. but that number is actually 90% (as of 6/16/2015 according to expandedramblings.com. Here are two very significant statistics from the same report that should affect how you should interpret the results:

30% of all Instagram accounts are inactive (7/2/15)

70% of all Instagram users are outside the US (9/20/15)

After discounting the inactive accounts, with so many users outside the US and the vast majority under the age of 35, how many in your target market are using the platform?  Of those, how many are active daily and seeing your content. Further reduce that figure by the percentage likely to follow you or engage with your content you will start to get a  better picture of how truly effective Instagram will be for your brand.

B2B or B2C?

The study, at least per the infographic doesn’t tell us if the users are businesses following other businesses or consumers follow businesses. Given the core user base, it’s probably safe to assume they’re individuals following businesses.  Instagram, while having value for those engaged in business to business sales, it’s probably safe to say Instagram is a far better channel for business to consumer brands.

Should You Be Using Instagram?

Again, I am a firm believer of the social site so I’m not recommending you abandon it or reconsider getting started.  I maintain accounts for both myself and Tactical Social Media.

My concern and what I want to get you to recognize is that every study and report should be looked at a little closer before you shift your focus or put too much stock into it.

And if you are using Instagram and questioning how to make it work for you, take a look at my strategy.

Your Turn

Are you on Instagram? Why or why not?  If you are (post your profile so I can follow you), have you see results either in terms of engagement or traffic?

 

GWI Instagram Brands Infographic

Maybe We Should Call It “Unsocial Media”

Too often people using social media as a tool to build an audience to pitch or as a broadcast platform rather than as a relationship tool.  Social media is a powerful tool when used right….but it takes time (sometimes lots of it) to generate that ROI.

5 Signs you’re unsocial and doing it wrong!

  • You’re only posting your own content.
  • You’re sharing content from others but not commenting or replying first – It’s great you’re sharing and it’s better than complete self-promotion but it’s still broadcasting. (Read: Why I Don’t Use Twitter’s Retweet Button by Bridget Willard)
  • It’s all business.  Yes, it is a business account but I not only recommend you post personal content, I recommend it.  There’s a reason business deals are made on the golf course, at the bar or over 2-hour martini lunches (do they even do those anymore?). You learn quite a bit about someone when they’re having fun and relaxed.
  • You don’t respond when spoken to (or you take too long) or acknowledge when someone mentions you. Ignoring people isn’t social. It’s just plain rude.
  • You use social media for cold calling.  This one is prevalent on LinkedIn and Twitter and it’s one of my biggest pet peeves!
Social media isn't supposed to be a broadcast platform. It's supposed to be social! Click To Tweet

 

Nothing bothers me much more than following someone on Twitter or connecting here and then getting “a buy/download/ attend my….” Tweet or message (and don’t get me started on the automated direct message thing!).

A few weeks back a very unsocial Twitter conversation started with receiving a download request via Tweet within 30 seconds of following a brand:

Why wouldn’t you want fitness combined with personal safety? Download……

My immediate response (and yes, not using their handle first made this public):

Wow! XXXXXX Followed you and secs later you’re asking me to download stuff from your site. .

The remainder of the conversation had me thinking they understood:

They tweeted an apology and stated they thought I might find it a good, useful app…

I do XXXXXX Think it’s a great idea.  builds relationships; Relationships drive biz. 

‘Social’ builds relationships; Relationships drive business. 

Thanks! Didn’t intend on being unsocial, just want to get the word out about our … tech! Downloading is up to you!

Sure thing XXXXXX. Great app for hikers, cyclists too. Getting the word out effectively comes down to how you craft the message.

You’re right! We appreciate the input!

I even helped them by crafting a tweet and sending it out to my audience with their handle and link!

Sadly, a look back at their posts for the day showed a constant unsocial stream of tagging individuals asking them to download their app.  Really?

Needless to say, I deleted my tweet.

Whatever happened to building relationships and being social?

Are we so focused on making a quick buck? Do we see our fans and followers as merely ‘targets’? Are they just a means to an end….money in our pockets?  Are we really that unsocial?  I’m beginning to think we are.

I know they will likely get some to buy their app as a result of the practice, but it’s short-term gains.  Business runs on relationships.  Social media is an incredible tool for building relationships.  Use it right and you’ll see a return on your time and money.  Use it right and you’ll have customers for life.

Do social right and be social!

FYI:

1.  I will call you out (and unfollow you) if you spam me with a DM or tweet me to buy /download/visit/ attend something of yours simply because I followed you.  I follow because I looked at your profile and liked what I saw.  What you have to offer by way of your tweets (or products/services) interests me.  If you want to sell to me, fine.  Just buy me a drink first.

I get enough direct solicitation via email, direct mail, TV, radio…. I don’t need or want it on Twitter, Facebook or any other social – or is that ‘unsocial’ – channel

2.  If I give you advice, you’re welcome to do with it as you please. Tell me I’m right, then resort to your old ways….UNFOLLOWED.  They obviously had no intention of doing anything different and simply paid me lip service.

Measuring The Effectiveness Of Social Media…

….is not and will never be easy. Determining how your time or financial investment is paying off isn’t black and white.  Short of a sale where you’re informed you were found on a social site or a social media post prompted the sale or call, you may never know how your social media activity impacts the bottom line. (I won’t say ‘if’ as I know it does when done right).

But what if we look at how we measure social media success based on its core role – community and relationship building
rather than as a sales channel? We’d have to focus on what best builds those relationships and that community – personality and fun. Who really wants to start a friendship with Oscar The Grouch or the grumpy old neighbor? We gravitate to those who are upbeat, engaged, inviting, friendly and fun.

Fun, actually how much fun you’re having, it would seem, might be a great way to determine the successfulness of your social media efforts.

I love Carol Stephen’s (be sure to follow her on Twitter at @Carol_Stephen) ‘gamification’ take on how social and fun are intertwined – or should be!)

How much ‘Fun’ you’re having might be the best measure of ROI for your social efforts.

 

So Are You Having Fun?

Psst! I am. You can see just how much at the end of this post!

Too many small businesses owners see social media as a chore – a must do activity – instead of a ‘want to do activity’.  I think we’re flooded with everything we should be doing that social is no longer natural, no longer fun. It’s forced. That further overwhelms us and increases our resolve not to do it or reinforces our lack of enjoyment in doing it. As a result, we outsource all of it.  Either way, the real value of social media is lost.

If you feel forced to post or engage, it will show through. It’s as easy to see as when talking face to face with someone in a bad mood. Our emotions do show in our posts and responses. That certainly won’t help you build or maintain relationships.

Outsourcing? I’m not against all outsourcing of social activity but you have to admit paying someone to engage and build relationships on your behalf isn’t really authentic.  Remember the movie scene where the boy recites a poem to the girl in the window?  She thinks it’s coming from his heart when in reality he was simply saying what his friend hiding in the bushes told him to say.  At some point, the truth always comes out and you’re sure to lose more than you gained.

Paying someone to engage and build relationships on your behalf isn’t authentic.

So how do you have more fun?

 

Change The Way You Approach Social Media

Easier if you’re just getting started but if you’re already at that ‘overwhelmed’ point, slow down and regroup.

Frame your social activity the way you would approach joining a new networking group.  Most of us feel intimidated, uncomfortable, out-of-place when showing up the first time.  We tend to be quiet and reserved.  We listen and watch.  We’ll introduce ourselves and we’ll do the 60-second infomercial, our elevator speech, but usually it’s stressed or unnatural.

Over time we start to see the ‘flow’ of how the group works. We warm up to others and they to us.  We begin to relax. We start more conversations. We’re quick to jump in, to introduce ourselves. Over time we grow more comfortable, our elevator speeches (by the way I hate this term since it makes them seem so rehearsed and mechanical – something opposite of what they should be for real impact) become more animated and natural.

After a few weeks or months (in case you’re more introverted and need that time), we’re quick to introduce ourselves to new guests and to start conversations.  We start having fun.

What changed?  We’re now among friends.  We’re more comfortable with our surroundings, in terms of how things work and the people around us. We’re relaxed. Our actions are natural and genuine. We now truly like what we’re doing.

Case in point: I remained involved in a group in AZ for several years, including after I closed my business because I was able to have breakfast with my friends! I measured the ROI of the membership cost on what I personally got out of the group. Since good relationships are priceless, I think I made out pretty well!

If you approach social media in the same way, you’ll see social as not simply a tool you need to use, but one you enjoy using. The ROI is not solely about dollars and cents, but something more intangible and infinitely more valuable.

Oh. I almost forgot!

So how much fun do I have on social? Here’s one exchange between myself and Adam Fout of Blue Steele Solutions (one of those awesome relationships I have thanks to Twitter).

Twitter conversation with Adam Fout; How much 'Fun' you're having might be the best measure of ROI for your social media efforts.

I love my time spent online, especially Twitter.  I’ve built some great relationships which are priceless in and of themselves.  I also know, over time, those relationships will lead to opportunities and ultimately increased revenue.  It simply starts with being social and having fun.

If you’re on Twitter, follow me at @rnissenbaum.

Are You Missing Out On Web Traffic By Not Using Twitter?

While Twitter is one of the best social channels a small business owner can leverage, far too many I speak with want little to do with it.  That’s an absolute shame.

When I look at the effectiveness of a social media strategy, I’m looking to see how much web traffic is being driven more than page growth or post activity.  Those numbers are valuable, but in the end, your relationship building, page growth, and likes, comments and shares have one end goal – increased sales. Since most social posts don’t usually convert directly, they, along with your activity elsewhere on these social sites, need to drive traffic to an external lead generation point – your website.  Of course, you still need the traffic to convert but that’s the role of your website and sales teams, not your social pages and profiles.

How well a social channel does at driving traffic to your website depends on a number of variables, but all things being equal, or at least similar, Twitter is one of the best social platforms for that purpose.  Since I have active and engaged profiles on each of the six major social sites and I post similar content, it’s easy to see just how well (and easily) Twitter works.

So how well does Twitter work?

 

Social media referral traffic drive to tacticalsocialmedia.org over a 90 day period

 

  • Twitter drove more traffic as reported by Google Analytics than the other 4 big sites.
  • Twitter drove as much traffic as organic search over the same time period.
  • Twitter was actually the 2nd highest source of web traffic during the time frame measured.

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]Twitter is an amazing platform for converting social engagement into leads.[/perfectpullquote]

 

What’s even more impressive:

  • Twitter had the lowest percentage (58.04%) of 1st-time visits meaning it drove the most repeat traffic (and if they’re coming back, you know your content is on the mark and your tweets are crafted properly).
  • Twitter had the 2nd lowest bounce rate (Google+ was tops in that category)
  • Twitter had the most pages per session and the highest measurable onsite time (Not a valuable measure in and of itself but notable for comparison purposes)

 

Google Analytics report showing how well Twitter drives website traffic, 2015

 

To be fair, Twitter’s conversion rate for goals I have set was minimal BUT anecdotally, it drove the 2nd most business (behind LinkedIn). The low numbers could be due to the goals I am measuring and/or how Twitter users chose to reach out to me when they decided to purchase. Twitter users may simply have chosen to come back by going directly to my site rather than through Twitter. With direct traffic being the second highest source of website views, the lowest bounce rate and the highest conversion rate at close to 17%, the latter is certainly plausible. 

Direct traffic is a good indication of effective branding.

Unless someone knows your site URL (generally through traditional marketing, networking or social activity), they wouldn’t be going directly to it. In my case I haven’t done any traditional advertising and do (as of now) minimal networking.  The majority of my branding is done via online activity (and I’ll add – none of it paid).

What makes Twitter’s ability to drive traffic even better?  The ease of using it.

 

How Easy Is It To Drive Traffic Using Twitter?

The beauty of Twitter is in how little posting, and therefore time and effort, it takes to drive traffic. You still need good content and to learn how to craft your Tweets to attract attention, but master it (heck, just moderately excel at it) and you’ll be surprised at how well it works.

Over a 90 day period, I post just 514 Tweets from content on this site (the smaller light blue circle).

 

Twitter traffic report: Twitter Card data from May 20 to Aug 19, 2015

 

Those tweets earned 44,617 impressions and 53 link clicks (the smaller circles)! My following at the time?  Roughly 2400-2600; a relatively small number by standards.

 

How Little Work Was Actually Involved?

Think about it.  Only 514 tweets over 90 days. That’s less than 6 per day!  Since my content was already written, all I did was leverage my previous work. My tweets came directly from work I already did.  Posting time? My Tweets were scheduled via Hootsuite‘s bulk scheduler reducing the actual time spent posting to maybe an hour one afternoon per week! (Not sure how to do this?)

Here’s a better graphic showing just how much value I received from only a handful of Tweets.  You can clearly see the number of impressions relative to the number of tweets.

 

Twitter traffic report: Twitter Card data from May 20 to Aug 19.2

 

Disclaimer:

Simply posting a handful of 100 -140 character snippets from your blog posts probably won’t drive the traffic you need but it will get you on the right track.  I’m actually tweeting 15+ times per day.  It’s the additional posting, the sharing content of others and being social, which has helped increase my following and build the great relationships which have contributed to my results.

Yes, it does mean more time posting, but since there is no stress on me to find or post content, I spend more time reading, engaging, being social and having fun.  That makes it easy and enjoyable to find a few minutes at various points during my day to Tweet. It’s actually time I look forward to having.  As an added bonus, it has made finding content almost effortless too! (Things tend to fall into your lap when you’re not really looking.)

The bottom line

Twitter is phenomenal for building relationships, creating visibility for you or your brand and driving traffic to your website.

If you’re not using it, why?

Why I don’t use Facebook’s messaging feature on my pages.

A few days back I caught an article by Post Planner on the why they removed the ability for fans to privately message them directly from their Facebook business page.  The reason the article intrigued me – I had just removed the messaging feature from both Tactical Social Media brand page and my business person page.

While one of their primary reasons was spam – understandable given the size of their fan base – that wasn’t a motivating factor for me.

When Facebook introduced the “Call-To-Action” feature for pages back in December of 2014, I chose to use the ‘Contact Us’ option. While ‘Sign Up’ would have potentially increased my email database, I had other ways to incorporate that option into the page via apps and the contact page provides an opportunity to subscribe.  From a traffic standpoint I felt (and still feel) people were more likely to ‘click through’ to get answers than to provide and email address.

 

Using the 'Contact US' option with Facebook's messaging is counterproductive. Should you turn off Facebook's messaging feature on your business or brand page? #TOFMF

The benefits of not using Facebook’s business page messaging feature:

  • Reduced spam.  As Post Planner knows all too well, it’s an easy tool for others to directly target page admins. I’ve seen my share of requests to like pages, buy products, etc as well.
  • Reduced notifications.  Even with just one page (and I have admin rights on more than 20), the number of notifications received can be overwhelming. You can choose to remove some notifications BUT that runs the risk of missing something important. No messaging option means one less to get and possibly one less to miss.  How often do you look at your page and realize you missed a message?
  • The Share Button.  When the messaging feature is off, the button is replaced with a share option.  While pages can be shared by other means, this is a more visible and easier option. This benefit disappeared with the shift to the latest page layout.

With the messaging feature inactive, Facebook fan pages get the share button. #TOFMF

  • Web traffic.  Social is great for branding, creating relationships and forming bonds that create new and loyal customers.  One area it lacks – direct sales and lead generation.  Yes, as a previous post on Facebook’s viability showed, it does work, BUT that’s not where it excels.  Using the ‘Contact Us’ CTA button forces traffic to my website and an opportunity to capture an email address or convert on other pages.

Should you remove Facebook’s messaging feature from your page?

For me, removing the messaging feature made sense.  Whether it does for you depends on your situation:

  • Some clients are finding it easier to manage then emails. They actually respond faster to them.
  • Adding the ‘Share’ button by removing the messaging feature can create a compliance issue for financial advisors as the ‘Share’ button due to SEC regulations over testimonials.
  • Many network marketers have sites on the back-end of the parent company. Others may only have an Etsy page. They may not have a contact form on their site or one which allows direct email capture.

 

Facebook Is Still A Viable For Lead Generation!

Updated July, 7, 2016:Facebook is a viable social channel for B2B

 

The original article below provides an excellent example of a Facebook post directly responsible for a lead.  To show this is not an isolated example, I caught (through social monitoring) a post I wrote and published for the same client on March 29th of 2016 generate a lead more than 3 months later!

 

What makes this example an even better testament to the value of Facebook:

  1. The link shared was NOT from my client’s website.
  2. The original post was not ‘boosted’ or part of a paid ad.
  3. The original post had very poor initial reach.

Facebook works.

 

Original article:

Yesterday I posted an article to Facebook for a B2B consulting client, Darling Geomatics. Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable #PTFISV

It included a quick snippet, a link to an article run by the Sierra Vista Herald written about a particular project they recently completed and a thank you.  The post itself was completely non-promotiona.  No CTA. No “how could this help you?” Just a simple informational post.

After allowing the post to ‘run its course’ for a few hours, it was strategically (and inexpensively) boosted through targeting.  Just 20 hours later it has:

  • 44 likes
  • 2 shares
  • 5 comments
  • An organic reach of 404
  • A paid reach of 2851
  • Has generated 2 new likes

AND…….

  • It resulted in a request for services:

Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable? #PTFISV. Facebook is still a viable channel for lead generation.

 

Keep in mind that this is for a local business with only 355 Likes prior to the post!

 

Why did this post work?

That’s hard to assess and on quite honestly know why. I’m not sure I could even duplicate it on purpose. It could simply have
been the right post, the right targeting, and some dumb luck.  The point though – social and specifically Facebook – can and do still generate direct leads and sales when used properly.

Without question Darling Geomatics’ approach to how they use Facebook  creates the foundation for such successes:

  • The strategy for the page (and all of their social profiles) is branding and to be informational and educational around their services, not promotional.
  • The content is quality.  Consistency and regularity may be critical but quality content still trumps both if you have a loyal following.
  • Following: It’s not bought. It’s been earned through what they post and their reputation. Page growth is primarily driven by offline channels.
  • Paid advertising (boosting) is limited and strategic.
  • Tactical engagement (how and when they engage)
  • It was posted based on the optimal time according to their insights and my experience monitoring when they see their best engagement, NOT at a time the ‘experts’ say is optimal.

 

Does Facebook generate leads for you?

Most overlook the platform, though, based on the notion it’s not where the decision maker is active.  There are 2 issues with the thought process.

First – you’re focused solely on the decision maker. Ever wonder who influences the decision maker? It could be a lower level manager, the office manager or even his or her spouse. Back in the day, to get in the door, I ‘sold’ the office manager. I let them sell the person controlling the checkbook. I focused on the influencer.

Second – Facebook, more so than any other platform, is a social destination. It’s where people go to hang out, keep up with friends and family and look for referrals/advice. Small business owners are present on the social media site. They’re employees certainly are.

 

A few final notes

  • Make sure you have a monitoring system in place or having a reputable firm doing it. Once a lead comes in, your timing in how it’s handled can make the difference between getting and losing the sale.  In this case, the comment was initially acknowledged and responded to within 38 minutes.  That allows time for a follow-up later without the client thinking they were ignored.
    .
  • While you should not look to social channels as a sales tool and not every post will perform this well, a good strategy, smart posting tactics (that do not revolve around ‘expert’ generalizations) and monitoring works.

Do You Need Proof That Facebook Is Still Viable #PTFISV #BeTactical

The 2015 Facebook Algorithm Change

Back in April, when Facebook updated its algorithm back in April (2015), rather than simply post what changed, I decided to break down what each change in the latest Facebook algorithm meant for brand pages. I stated at the time that “(f)or some brands, this latest Facebook algorithm change will be a major benefit” for brand pages who post good content, drive interaction and engagement with their fan base and are truly social will see big gains.”

Did your brand benefit from the latest Facebook algorithm change, Tactical Social Media; #BeTactical

My question two months later?  Did your brand actually benefit?  There is more than enough anecdotal evidence in my personal feed alone (backed up by page insights) to make some general conclusions regarding the impact of the latest change.  Brand pages who posted good content drove interaction and engagement with their fan base and were truly social saw big gains from April’s Facebook algorithm change.

I spent a good deal of time recently scrolling through my personal feed tallying posts and looking at the content and ‘publisher’.  Combined with the activity I’ve noticed on close to two dozen pages I manage/admin over the past couple of months, what I am seeing is a clear win for brand pages.

Recap: The three significant Facebook algorithm changes

 

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Posts about friends liking or commenting on a page’s content will be pushed down the news feed.

The Anecdotal Evidence:  Just looking at my personal feed, posts about what my friends like and comment on is all but gone.  I ran through 25 posts (my feed is defaulted to ‘recent stories’) just yesterday afternoon and found only 1.  It was the first time in several weeks I can recall seeing stories about friends liking or even commenting on content from others.  I have seen more shares, however.  I posted previously that the removal of ‘like and comment’ stories could hurt brands (liking your own content, leveraging a few friends or ‘core fans’ to like posts for visibility was a short-term tactic many employed to get visibility) and this has proven to be the case.  The flip side – shared content is now more likely to be seen, even if it’s shared by someone who is constantly posting!

I do want to add for several pages I manage, comments on posts DO have a positive impact on reach.  I tracked a few posts over a 24 hour period, then commented as myself and tagged another individual to comment as well. Within a few hours, post reach tripled.  To avoid the possibility that the posts were already viral, relevant or otherwise ‘Top Stories’ I purposely posted at off times based on page insights and in some cases, content was truly irrelevant to the brand’s audience.  Most of the posts saw an initial reach of single digits or low double digits.

Since post reach is only a measure of how many see a specific piece of content in their feed either Facebook is choosing to show comments and likes at random, is counting views in the ticker as feed views, or quite possibly, Facebook is toying with ‘influencers’ and comments and likes by certain individuals affect what you see in your feed (similar to how your connections and influencers in Google+ affect SERPs).

 

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Facebook will allow multiple content from individual publishers to show in your feed.

The Anecdotal Evidence:  In that same string of 25 posts I found one instance of multiple posts from the same author. This morning, with the next 25 posts I looked at, there were 3 by one author.  Over the past two weeks, I have consistently seen multiple content from individual publishers.

What makes what I’m seeing more impressive?  In many cases, it hasn’t just been multiple content from individual publishers.  It’s been multiple content from brand pages!

 

Significant Facebook Algorithm Change:  Trying to balance the content you see in the right mix.

The Anecdotal Evidence:  This one can be a little harder to quantify as I’m not sure if ‘content mix’ referred to brand vs individual, content type (video, link, image) or a combination.  I can tell you my feed is still more heavily video posts, but I am seeing more links and text only posts than previously.

Interesting note –  I’ve seen overall video views decrease for pages with smaller fan bases since the latest Facebook algorithm change.

With respect to individuals vs brands, I think Facebook has done a better job of showing a mix.  While I can run through my feed at any given time and only see a handful of brand page posts (2 in 25 as I am writing this) I have seen brand posts dominate my feed.  Remember that 25 post reference above? Fifteen of those 25 posts were from brand pages!

I’ve run a few tests purposely posting when I know certain fans are online and without prompting they’ve been liking that content.  Without question brand page posts are much more likely to show in feeds since the April Facebook algorithm update.  What I found most telling – I now see content from my own pages in my feed!

The Insights

Of course, anecdotal evidence only tells part of the story.  I pulled insights for posts on the Tactical Social Media brand page activity for January through April and then again for May through mid-July.

Tactical Social Media's Insights BEFORE the latest Facebook algorithm change in April of 2015; #BeTactical

There is a very noticeable spike in activity at the end of April, and while that level wasn’t sustained in later months, there was a noticeable increase in post engagement after the latest algorithm update.

Tactical Social Media's Insights AFTER the latest Facebook algorithm change in April of 2015; #BeTactical

To be fair, there are still plenty of low points (I do experiment with my own posting tactics) but there was clearly an increase in overall post engagement since algorithm update.  What stood out was the jump in posts seeing more than 10 points of engagement.

With only 149 fans on the page at this point and only a few increases per week, page likes didn’t contribute to the numbers and as I have generally only posted once daily over the past 6 months, the increases aren’t attributable to frequency.

The April 2015 Facebook algorithm change is a ‘win’ for brand page owners.

My Take

While this is not a real study by any means, the April 2015 Facebook algorithm change is a ‘win’ for brand page owners.  It isn’t, however, a return the ‘post it and they’ll see it days’ of the past.  I mentioned purposely posting content at odd times and of irrelevant content to limit reach – well, reach WAS limited.  While the change helps, “Brand pages who post good content, drive interaction and engagement with their fan base and are truly social will see big gains.”

Benefiting from the update still requires:

  • Posting timely, relevant and shareable content (#BeTactical)
  • Driving interaction and engagement, and being engaged (#BeSocial)
  • Posting timely – it’s critical you regularly monitor your insights to find the best times for you to post)
  • Posting consistently

.

The Latest Facebook Algorithm Change, April 2015: Facebook Organic Reach = (Quality Content + Post Timing) x Post Frequency + Engaged Fans; Tactical Social Media: a Tacoma, WA / South Sound Social Media Consulting Agency

Facebook Organic Reach = {(Quality Content + Post Timing) x Post Frequency} + Engaged Fans
Where Quality Content = Content x (Relevant + Timely + Sharable)
Where Engaged Fans = Active Fans / Total Fans

What’s Your Take?

Are you seeing more page stories in your personal feed?  Have you seen any increase in post reach?  Do you think the April 2015 Facebook algorithm change has helped?  If not, could it just be your content or posting strategy/tactics?

Content Monitoring vs Brand Monitoring

A few weeks back I published an article on LinkedIn (updated here last week) asking people to stop monitoring for brand mentions.  Clearly, I don’t want you to stop.  You need to pay attention to what others are saying about you, when they’re saying it and where.  More importantly, you need to be aware that conversations are taking place about you and your brand yet many of them never mention your name.  Brand monitoring is only one aspect of your brand reputation management efforts.  If you aren’t monitoring for content mentions, you’re missing a critical component.

In my LinkedIn post, I pointed out the need for monitoring your content as a tool to catch theft and plagiarism.  I routinely monitor for phrases, keywords and article titles as well as my name, ‘Tactical Social Media’ and my branded hashtag #BeTactical. As a result, I caught an outright case of unauthorized use of my content and was able to take down the blog post and shares on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Since neither I nor my brand was mentioned in the post, content monitoring was the ONLY way I could have found it.

Content monitoring goes a step further, however than just catching theft.

Why You Should Be Monitoring For Content in Social Media

Content Monitoring – Insights and Opportunities

Insights:  If you’re content monitoring, you gain valuable insights into what content is being shared. Content monitoring, combined with Google Analytics and social sharing metrics, provides a very clear picture of what content is best received, where it’s shared from (I contribute to a number of sites), where it’s being shared to, what’s driving viewers back and what other’s are saying about it.

With content monitoring, I know exactly what content to write on for future articles (though I still like to write as much on what I feel is important), what points to explore further and even if I need to rethink some of my ideas.  Insights gained help me tailor what I write based on the audience of a particular site or social channel.

Opportunities:  As I said earlier, not everyone will mention or tag you or your brand when sharing your articles.  Content monitoring prevents lost opportunities.  The fact that someone is shared your content is important.  They read it and liked what you had to say enough to pass it into their audience.  You want to leverage that fact.  You already have their attention.  You want to keep it. One of the best ways to do that is simply acknowledging them.  That’s hard to do if you don’t know they’ve shared or interacted with it in the first place.

While I would have caught shares of my article this morning even if I wasn’t content monitoring.  (It did hit for my brand as well as the blog title (‘Leveraging Facebook Authorship‘), the only reason for that happening was due to an anomaly.  For this article, I included the brand name as part of the title for SEO purposes.  I normally do not as character length is limited.  What I would have lost missing this?

My article was initially shared twice on Twitter, once by Jose Javier Garde and once by Personal Branding, then reshared 5 more times.   In the end, the first share by Jose Javier Garde was favorited 12 times and ReTweeted 6 times.  That’s great exposure for my content.

#BeTactical: Start content monitoring! Not everyone will mention or tag you when sharing content.

I was able to favorite each of the initial shares and Tweet out a couple of ‘thank yous’.  While not saying ‘thank you’ isn’t necessarily being unsocial or unappreciative – the fact is most don’t – doing so makes you stand out.  Jose knows I appreciated his sharing my content.  That makes him more likely to follow my blog, get on my mailing list, follow my social profiles and share my content in the future.  That’s a huge relationship building opportunity as well as future visibility.

That simple thank you to Jose, however, actually generated some great exposure of its own.  It was favorited 9 times and ReTweeted 4 times!  Content monitoring generated some phenomenal visibility and huge relationship building opportunities.

#BeTactical: Start content monitoring! Not everyone will mention or tag you when sharing content. Without content monitoring, you'll miss valuable opportunities.

The Take-Away

In this case, and in several others I catch daily, while there is a huge upside to knowing my content had been reshared, not knowing wouldn’t have hurt me…at least financially. But what if the content shared was preceded by something negative? What if someone had tweeted a link to my content and stated the ‘author clearly doesn’t get social media’?

While I firmly believe you should respond to all interactions on your content (if they took the time to interact, the least you can do is acknowledge it), not responding to negative posts/reviews leaves your reputation at risk.

If you’re not content monitoring, why not?