Posts

Updated 17 April 2018

THE SIMPLE TRUTH ABOUT FACEBOOK…

(and social media sites in general):

If you want results, you need to work for them. We are long past the good old days on Facebook when you can ‘post it and they will see it’.  While there are techniques you can use (and should) to get feed visibility and it’s still a passive approach. What’s worse? No matter how:

  • Well you craft your post
  • Relevant it is to your fans
  • Timely your content is
  • Shareable you think your content is….
Having your posts seen in a news feed is a crapshoot!Click To Tweet

 

You have NO control over it and you are doing way too much work and spending way too much time for an outcome with no reasonable guarantee for results.

In any other area of your business you’d never consider taking such a gamble so why do it on Facebook (or any social site as the concept applies for any feed driven platform)?

 

If you want results from your social media marketing efforts, get off your ass and make it happen!Click To Tweet

 

Let’s start with what happens when you stop being so passive:

Tactical Social Media‘s Facebook page from April 10th through April 16th (2018):

  • 388 likes
  • 5 posts
  • 23 page views and 3 page previews
  • Reach was 22.4%  {avg of reach on those 5 posts relative to the number of likes (reach/likes)}
  • Engagement rate was 20.7% {avg of engagement on those 5 posts relative to the avg reach (engagement/reach)}
  • 34 website views driven (pulled from Google Analytics) and none of the 5 pieces of content included content shared from or linked to this site.

Tactical Social Media Facebook Insights, 28 days through 16 April 2018

A few points to keep in mind:

  • I ran no paid ads during this time.
  • My content is written well and FAR too long according to most experts.
  • My content is rarely on a trending topic or timely.
  • I do not care about what Facebook thinks is shareable.
  • What I post is based on the value it provides my fans or anyone stopping by my page.
  • I post at random times (I never pay attention to when fans are online per my insights). That means most of my posts are NOT likely being seen initially in news feeds (how reach is defined by Facebook).

 

What should you be doing?

Actively driving people to your page, not waiting around hoping they see a post in their feed!

Those viewers who actively seek out your page, are interested in your content. That real interest drives the engagement and, if you are following along, that engagement and interaction create the stories pushing your content into the news feeds of your fans.

Yes, a well-timed and perfectly crafted post will see some ‘organic’ reach, though, the real visibility comes from ‘manufacturing’ the reach through your activity:

  • Page views drive engagement.
  • Engagement ‘manufactures’ reach
Actively driving people to my Facebook page creates my reach, NOT when or even what I posted!Click To Tweet

 

How?

Social networking.

You being active in the right places through your social interaction creates a want or curiosity in others to know more about you. This can be achieved by either networking as yourself (make sure there is a direct link from your personal profile to your Facebook page) or your brand page.

Plus, there is a side benefit to social networking… unexpected lead generation and web traffic!

Original publish date 15 April 2016

Updated 16 January 2018

Your likes are worthless.

Worse, they are hurting your efforts.

 

Stop asking everyone to like your Facebook pages! It's damn annoying and adversely affects your 'reach'.Click To Tweet

 

If you haven’t decided I am completely off my rocker and are still reading, I’ll explain why (and it might just make sense – and if I am right?)

When Facebook launched pages, Liking a page was required to comment. Asking for likes made sense.

After the requirement to like pages to engage was dropped, likes still mattered. Those who liked your page saw your content. You WANTED likes and again, asking was the best way to get them.

Fast forward to Facebook’s big algorithm shifts in 2012,  the one in 2015. and 2018. The changes meant an individual liking a page would not be guaranteed to see its content. Facebook’s decision to ‘restrict’ or ‘choose’ what content is seen means likes have far less value.

And with the announcement by Mr. Zuckerburg that Facebook will start to show users more posts from their friends and family in the News Feed, a move that means people will see fewer posts from publishers and brands,‘ likes will carry even LESS value.

 

Less value, yet not worthless.

I did say likes were worthless, and that is not entirely true. They still have an iota of value.

Page likes still mean the opportunity to get your content seen in the news feed (though there are better ways to get visibility), so you still want them. The difference now – you no longer want to ASK for them. Why?  A little something called ‘relevance’.

Timeliness. Shareability. Relevance.

Facebook determines what shows in a fan’s feed based on 3 factors: Timeliness. Shareability. Relevance.

There are effective tricks to get around the timely and shareable factors. There is no way around the relevance issue. Your content, at the time it is posted, is either relevant to your audience or it is not.

So how does Facebook determine what is relevant?

Data. They have data. They have it and lots of it. Most of it we willingly provide.

Those lists of books, movies, sports teams, etc you like? Facebook combines that information with your actions – what you like, what you comment on, pages you like, what you search for, who you are friends with, what you share – and then adds in everywhere you go on Google (there is something called a tracking pixel website owners can add to allow Facebook to track visitors to their pages for ad targeting – but it also means Facebook knows your every move – FYI we will never install those tracking pixels to protect your privacy).

All of this data means Facebook knows your habits, interests, needs, wants, and who knows what else, at any given moment. Content which fits this ‘profile’ is considered relevant and will (potentially) be seen.

 

At a bare minimum, asking for likes is worthless.

Why?

I will place bets that most of the people you ask to like your page do so as a courtesy (as you do when they ask) and not because they find your content relevant or of value to them.

And per Facebook’s algorithm, those fans (the ones you asked to like your page) will probably never see your content.

So why even bother asking?

I get the ‘more likes look better’ factor, the ‘feel better/ego’ factor (‘yay, I’m loved’) and the ‘credibility’ factor – more fans make the brand look better.

Though it is nothing more than window dressing. If more fans do not equate to more visibility and interaction – it is nothing short of a vanity number. Why even put effort into something of little real value?

The real pitfall in asking.

Facebook’s algorithm, like Google’s, keeps changing to prevent gaming the system. They want engagement and interaction to be purely natural and organic. Asking for likes is not organic! Yes, they allow it – because they do not care if you invite others for whom your content is truly relevant.

Joe, I am inviting you to my page. After speaking I think my content would interest and might be of value to you.  That’s great.

Joe, I met you last week at a networking event, will you like my page?  Not so great.

Beyond not great – it is actually bad. Very bad.

What do you think Facebook sees when you invite 100 people (or everyone you meet) to like your page when they know your content is not relevant to them?

Me? I think they see you trying to game the system – exactly what they are trying to prevent. That makes the practice ‘black-hat’ as I see it, even if Facebook won’t come out and say it.

 

Asking for others to like your Facebook page could be hurting your efforts by limiting posts from being seenClick To Tweet

 

While they won’t blacklist your page…..there is no doubt in my mind they are blacklisting your content. I have admin rights on 25+ pages. I know which page owners ask for likes and which follow my line of thinking. Anecdotally, I can tell you, those who ask see lower overall effective reach (and engagement), regardless of the content quality.

 

With Facebook content already unlikely to be seen in feeds and the possibility you could be doing harm asking for likes, why risk it?Click To Tweet

 

If the feel-good/ego factor is in play, I can tell you it feels far better earning likes than getting them by asking.

How do you get your content seen? Try social networking.

Updated 26 November 2017

In a Social Media Today post in July of 2015 (what prompted the original version of this post), Sarah Snow stated as the number one thing you shouldn’t do on Facebook, “Don’t like your own posts”.

Granted she was likely referring to personal status updates, but the mention of it being like a black hat SEO practice had me thinking it could be see as applicable to business page posts. And that set me off. Why?

 

Liking and commenting as yourself on business page content is one of the simplest and most effective tools you have to help drive post views.Click To Tweet

 

To understand why and how you need to first understand the algorithm.

‘After the Algorithm’

Facebook’s algorithm change back in April of 2015 effectively meant the end of your posts showing in the news feed of your fans (since most people asked for likes instead of building their page organically). Getting posts seen in feeds meant ‘paying to play’ or understanding the point of the algorithm and working with it.

Facebook started out as a tool allowing individuals to keep in touch, share and see ‘content’ from friends. It was social tool. You connected with those you WANTED to be connected with and see the updates you wanted.

Fast forward a few years and Facebook opened up to businesses. With no checks and balances in place, you would see EVERY status update. Granted, if you connected with someone or followed a page, you would want to see their updates. That is, until, your feed was so flooded it was impossible to keep up. Add in limited time and you would likely miss the content you most wanted to see.

Enter the algorithm

Business owners cried it was an attempt to force them to pay, yet the core reason for the change was to shift Facebook back to what was intended.

In an effort to curb the ‘spam’ in feeds, Facebook’s new algorithm looks at our behaviors within the platform and elsewhere on the web (a wonderfully insidious marketing tool called the Facebook Tracking pixel – a boon for advertisers – effectively tracks your entire online movement – though not on our site).

Combining this data with what users provided in their profiles allows Facebook to determine what is most important (read relevant)to each user.  They then layered in something referred to as ‘timeliness’ and a ‘shareability’ score so only the best ‘relevant’ content makes the cut.

If you want your published content seen, first and foremost, it must be relevant. That means knowing your audience (you can start by not asking everyone to like your page) and creating valuable content they want to consume.

It means making that content timely. Don’t write about outdated topics. Leverage current trends where you can, tying it into your core content.

‘Liking your own business page posts’

Here is where it gets a bit complicated and the ‘liking your own business page posts’ thing comes into play…

As much as you can try to create content others would want to share, that is out of your hands. Like the joke some find hilarious and has others wondering why what you think is ‘shareable’ Facebook may not. The single best way to make something ‘shareable’, something others really want to see… is creating interaction AFTER the post is published. You need to manufacture reach! How?

By getting engagement.

 

The more likes, comments, and shares a post gets, the greater the indication Facebook is given the content is relevant and shareable.Click To Tweet

 

That is the goal behind liking your own posts!! It’s about ‘getting the ball rolling’ or giving that extra ‘kick’ to keep the engagement going (at which point you responding to comments comes in to play).

It is important to note that this only works if you like the posts as yourself, not as your page.

 

About that ‘Black Hat’ part

I get it though it doesn’t apply here. Yes.liking your own posts is effectively playing the system. Still, you are allowed to interact with your own posts. I prefer to see it as voting for yourself in an election. Further, for the tactic to even work, your content must be valuable and relevant to your audience. If neither is the case, not ‘tricks’ will work. Hence, not black hat.

 

Liking your own Facebook posts as yourself only helps drive 'reach' if you first publish well-written, valuable content which is relevant to your audience!Click To Tweet

 

You have to be doing the basics correctly in the first place and this is exactly the behavior the algorithm is trying to create.

The smarmy piece – if you are the only one who ever likes or engages with your business content – it stands out and simply looks bad. And it indicates to me you could benefit from reaching out and getting some help.

 

Original publish date 29 July 2015

Updated 23 November 2017

Spend Less Time Publishing Content!

Consulting clients and those who have had an opportunity to hear me speak know I am far less concerned about consistency in posting new content to pages and profiles than I am with being consistently engaged.

Publishing new content is vital. Done right it will help develop and nurture relationships, it establishes authority, and drives action. The flaw in our thinking is that our published content is the most important aspect of social media marketing.

News flash. It’s SOCIAL media, not broadcast media. Approaching social sites like you would traditional channels will not work. The algorithms reward social behavior. ‘Reach’ is down. Published content does not create visibility (and the type which does, usually does little to establish authority or drive action – with some exceptions like this article on body image).

Unless you want to ‘pay to play’ (a bad idea as a core strategy as the split second you choose to stop paying the game is over), you need to create visibility in a different way. I suggest you spend more time being social.

 

Engage. Interact. Be Social.

Think about your behavior in the real world. What do you do, as a business owner, to get your brand known? Aside from advertising, you network. Ask yourself, how many networking groups do you attend? And if you stopped going?

The same applies to social media. You cannot simply publish content and pay for ads if you want a successful social media marketing campaign which measurable converts.

 

Social media sites should be seen as networking and relationship building opportunities, not a place to 'pitch your wares'.Click To Tweet

 

They’re about creating engagement and social interaction.

Ideally, you want it to occur on your content yet, that’s not the reality for a small business. Stop fighting to make that happen. What if you simply started to engage with the content of others?  Things happen when you do.

You become visible. Sitting back and publishing content to your pages will not get you seen (again, the damn, ever-changing algorithms). Engaging where others are, does. This is why we attend networking groups and events – to get in front of our audience, not passively wait for them to see our ‘ads’ and come to us. Sitting on your ass will get you nowhere.

You create opportunities.  If you want something, you need to make it happen. Being active and engaged is the best way to find and create opportunities.

You drive attention back to your content. Simple psychology. (channeling Wade Harman here). If you add a great, value-added comment, you will get noticed. Do it well, and often enough, you’ll pique someone’s interest. They will look at your profile or page. If you establish a practice of doing this on multiple pages, interacting as your page, you will see a significant increase in page views.

 

Think about how you behave on Facebook.

When you get to a new page for the first time, so you only read one post? No! And the better the content, the more you will continue reading and the more likely you’ll interact or follow a link.

 

If you have been focused on creating valuable, well-written content, the kind which provides answers and demonstrates authority, not simply the fluffy shit designed to attract attention in news feeds, when someone gets to your page or profile, they will keep reading.Click To Tweet

 

Quality comments will get you and your core content seen. At the minimum, it provides for the opportunity.

Have you considered that your comments are a form of content? That they have the same ability to develop and nurture relationships, to establish authority, and to drive action?Click To Tweet

 

How Well Does it Work?

Scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I came across this post from April Torrestorija. April owns Noire & Jet Coffee, a subscription-based coffee company (and pardon me for being a coffee snob – it’s pretty damn good coffee at a great price!)

Linkedin post by April Torrestorija owner of noire jet coffee

Create conversation

While it’s the type of post most LinkedIn purists hate, I thought it was funny and added a smart ass comment. April responded and we had a conversation.

 

Private LinkedIn conversation with April Torrestorija or Noire & Jet Coffee

 

The resulting interaction piqued my curiosity (normally it works the other way). I took the opportunity to learn more about April.

April is in Tucson, AZ. An opportunity trigger for me. Something I could use to further build a relationship with April, having spent 23 years in Tucson. I sent her a private message.

A simple smart ass comment grew a relationship, provided a resource for someone else, and could generate business.

The best part….. It took less than 5 minutes on my feed!  (there’s a method to who I follow and why.) That is a far cry from the time involved to create and publish new content.

 

This is not an isolated experience

Deborah Olive of Deborah Olive Consulting attended one of our LinkedIn workshops. I discussed this concept as part of the class. Deborah listened and put it into practice for herself. Within a couple of weeks, she created an opportunity for using my approach:

 

Deborah Olive of Olive Global SOULutions, LLC's experience generating opportunities on LinkedIn through engagement, not content

 

Deborah’s simple ‘like’ and comment opened up a relationship opportunity and the potential for business at a local networking event because she was active, visible and engaged. The opportunity was not created by content published on her profile.

 

Publish Less, Interact More

If you are listening to all of the so-called experts preaching content first, stop and ask yourself how much time and effort are you putting in and what are you getting in return?

 

I challenge you to publish less and spend your time engaging and interacting. Then let me know how much your social media marketing has improved. It is social media after all. Are you being social?Click To Tweet

 

Original publish date 20 September 2016

 

how you post and share content matters

If you listen to me long enough and you’ll know I am more focused on social networking and being engaged than creating content. I’ll keep saying it too….

 

Your content is designed to play a supporting role.

 

People do business with people. They build relationships. They act on those relationships. When they choose to act is when your content matters. It is at that point they will read (or read again). It is at that point they will decide if, aside from having that relationship with you, they trust you are the right person or business to hire.

Content isn’t the most important thing…. what you post and more importantly, HOW you write, post or share content IS critical.

Your content MUST have a purpose

Your content MUST serve a purpose. It must help build relationships, must be authoritative and/or must drive action.Click To Tweet

Not every post needs to do all of it, and the best content will hit multiple points. If your content doesn’t hit on at least one of those points, you’re wasting your time posting it. PERIOD

I adore Rhonda over at Fat Dog Creatives. She’s a fantastic graphic designer and her process is incredible. She’s also a big proponent of me (yes, I have an ego).

She shared one of my Facebook posts about the value of engagement  to her business page. I immediately thanked her (as Tactical Social Media, though I could have as myself.) and as quickly as I did, I scolded her. Love that she shared it, hate that while it was good for me, it did nothing for her!

She already decided to share my content. She gave me something, so why not leverage it to truly nurture the relationship, to establish her own authority, drive some action and share a little bit of herself? She should use it further help herself.

 

Blindly posting or sharing content provides little value to YOU. Make what you post count for you AND your audience.Click To Tweet

How you create your post matters

How the share first appeared…..

How you post and share content matters

Here’s the edited version…..

How you post and share content matters if you want to see results

The difference?

She leveraged my content to help build her authority. She continues to nurture our relationship (more than simply sharing my content, she acknowledges she is learning from me – that ego thing again) and she is making it personal and herself more relatable to her clients.

 

The bonus… Rhonda will get some HUGE additional visibility:

*  She tagged me (with permission – do not ever tag a person in a business post without permission. It is rude and a relationship killer) placing her post on my timeline. Her brand was promoted to my personal network.And since I was tagged personally, I responded personally. That adds further reach.

*  She has real content that could be found later when someone uses Facebook’s search function (and trust me, they do!).

 

While I will continue to preach that content is less important than social engagement, there is no doubt content is vital. It’s not about how much content you post, how often or when.

 

It is about WHAT you post and HOW you post and share content that matters.

Business Is Built On Relationships.

I’m old enough to remember all it took to close and honor a business deal was a handshake.  There was an unmistakable level of trust. Yes, there was an unwritten code that you honored your word and would not enter into an agreement you couldn’t fulfill, but there needed to be more. You still didn’t do business with just anyone. You KNEW whose hand you were shaking.  You had a relationship with them.  You weren’t doing business with a brand. You were doing business with the person behind the brand.

Business has changed.

It’s now legal contracts, binding agreements, pre-payment. It’s become less personal and more business. Large brands came in and took over where the small mom and pop stores once dominated. They didn’t do business better. They did it cheaper, faster, easier. All of us have had a hand in that shift.

The shops and businesses that survived did so, not because they could out-compete the big brands. They survived because their owners had built long and solid relationships with their customers. They knew them by name. They didn’t just sell to them. They talked. They shared stories. They bonded.

 

They became friends and those customers stayed loyal.

 

I do still see that as very much alive. I see it often in the local shops here in Proctor. I see it when I travel to Idaho. I know it exists throughout the world. Businesses small and large are thriving and growing on the simple idea of building and nurturing relationships.

When it comes to social media I am constantly hearing that reach is done. That ‘we’re getting no engagement’. That ‘we’re not seeing results’.  What I see missing – social media should be an online equivalent to what you are doing in the real world. How you network, how you interact with customers, how you conduct business should be how you operate on social media – only it’s not.

 

Why Not?

We broadcast, we promote ourselves. We don’t interact or engage (and I’m not talking about your own content). We don’t act as part of a community. We’re not out supporting that community, we’re not building relationships. We’re not being social.

As a small business owner, you ARE the face of your business. The more you are personal and the more of yourself you bring into your content, the more opportunity you provide for others to connect. The more opportunity you have to create, develop and grow relationships. The more opportunity to develop a friendship.

If you are inextricably linked to your brand, why not leverage who you are? I get the privacy issue. I get why you would want to limit posting personal content. You can actually do both.  It’s why I run a Facebook workshop dedicated to properly setting up your personal profile properly. I want you to be able to be personal yet maintain your privacy when and where necessary.

 

Keeping it separate.

I think there is still a point at which we can separate personal from business and still succeed. If you are engaged, if you are out supporting others, you post non business content that is relevant to your audience (you’d better know their buyer persona) and as my friend Randy Clark has said, as long as you bring a more personal tone to blog content.

Me? I do control my privacy. You won’t see pictures of my family (unless from behind) but I do share my adventures and stories. I share other non-business content. I share from others, I regularly visit and interact with others. I try to be open.

 

The vast majority of my social time is dedicated to being social.

 

I’m after relationships. Know, Like and Trust only goes so far. To be successful, you need to connect with your customers.

 

My challenge to you:

In the next 24 hours post something to your business page(s) that has nothing to do with your brand. It could be a community event, an adventure you just took, a great meal at a local restaurant, a dream vacation you’d like to take.

At least once per day find the page of another business you could support (maybe a local place you do business with) and add a valuable (not just ‘I agree’ or ‘great post’) comment.

In short, I want you to work on developing relationships.

Goodbye To Twitter’s 140 Character Limit…

 

UPDATE (16 May 2016) – “Twitter Inc. will soon stop counting photos and links in their 140-character limit for tweets, according to a person familiar with the matter.”  

 

I mentioned back in an October 2015 post about a few of the recent changes with the big one the removal the 140 character limit for direct messages. For businesses, this was a HUGE positive move. It was hard to have any real significant dialogue whether it be with a customer or colleague when you were forced to send multiple messages for one thought. I remember a few conversations I migrated to LinkedIn just so we could actually communicate.

The ubiquitous 140 character limit remained for public Tweets. Now there is a buzz again over Jack Dorsey’s hint at increasing it to 10,000, the same new limit for direct messages. (Update: For now, at least, there will be no change in the character limit. It’s still worth considering a few ideas for what COULD be changed to increase character counts while still maintaining limits.) How it will affect Twitter’s role for businesses, especially small, unknown brands is obviously unknown but a few of my thoughts based on having used Twitter since 2009:

 

The Art of Twitter Effect

For someone who enjoys writing and provides copy editing services, Twitter’s character count means I am continuously perfecting my craft. Can I get my message across, can I get you to click-through to a link and can I get you to further convert using only 140 characters?  And when it comes to resharing old content, I get to play with different content to see what gets noticed or picked up in searches.

 

Getting content seen and engaged with on Twitter has become an art form.

 

Based, at least on what has been reported, the skill in getting a Tweet seen will not likely change. What will change is what happens when a Tweet is seen. This’s where the real concern lies. It’s where the copy editing skills will shine and the art form elevated.

 

Web Traffic Effect

If your content is crafted well and seen in a feed or pulled in a search, the default action (and what you want) is clicking on your website link. That’s web traffic. That’s an opportunity to capture lead information. That’s an opportunity to convert.

What happens when content can be directly added to a tweet? No reason to click-through.

 

Given the amount of web traffic I see from Twitter and the quality of it, I’m not ready to give that up.

 

Yes, there still is a huge opportunity by creating compelling content within the tweet to get the click-through, but that requires even more action and time on the part of the reader (personally I’m always tapped for time):

 

  • Get the reader to see or find the tweet.
  • Get the reader to expand the tweet
  • Get the reader to actually ingest the content.
  • Compel the reader to want to more.

 

The last point is the tough one.  The additional content has to be crafted perfectly to be read, understood and still drive one more action – for me ,a link click to this site. Depending on how the change is implemented you may even be able to add  in an image, an animated gif or a short video. The bonus with the longer character count – you can have multiple CTAs and links. Regardless, your content will need to be able to encourage further action. Rather than focusing on web traffic depending on post length will they really need or want to read more?), your link CTA may need to be direct list sign ups, registrations, downloads or purchases. Suddenly not only is the art form alive, it’s is elevated to a whole new level.

For me, what still likely gets lost is website traffic. Granted list sign ups, sales and downloads are valuable, but I still have a chance at those when you’re on my site. It’s more about what else I get. You’re exposed to more content than just one article whether it be through links within a post or content in a sidebar. Regardless, the reader is ON my site. Even without additional content being consumed or traditional conversions, there’s still an opportunity to bookmark my site or grab an RSS feed.

On other platforms, I see less traffic to my site and I suspect it’s in part due to NOT needing to click. All of the content is already visible. While you can still create ‘teaser’ posts, I find those to be click-baiting when the opportunity is there to tell me more and you don’t. I know all you are after is that click. (The practice costs you search value – more on that in a minute).

A blog post in a tweet may provide new opportunities but I’m worried about the ones lost. I’m not convinced what we gain makes up for the losses.

 

The Readability Effect

 

As of April 2015 80% of Twitter users were mobile.

 

Increase content within Tweets offers the plus of not having to follow a link but the length of the tweet could affect if it is read. Reading anything long, having to continuously scroll, then still potentially needing to click on a link could make for a very cumbersome read on mobile devices.  I won’t even begin to consider writing a long post from a mobile device. Twitter’s current format favors mobile devices. In fact, aside from Instagram, it’s the ONLY social site I prefer on mobile.

One nice feature now is actually the ability to have a link to click for external reading. If I can easily open a browser window and bookmark a page to read later. Remove the link and if I see something I like, getting back to it could be a challenge.

 

The ReTweet Effect

There are two sides to how this can play out. The first is compounding the effect of losing web traffic. If web traffic is reduced by fewer URL clicks in tweets, it makes sense for the effect to carry over to ReTweets. In my case, approximately 15% of my web traffic is driven from my ReTweets. Not a significant amount of traffic but still another hit.

The flip side?

I see far too much content reshared that shouldn’t be. No time is taken to actually read the content, presumably because it actually TAKES time.

The end result can often be a hit to one’s reputation. While this will not change when using auto retweeters (really, I beg you not to do this), removing the need to follow another link may mean more content is actually read and less crap is reshared. End result – a less cluttered feed filled with better quality content.

 

The Search Effect

One big positive being touted by Jack is additional text being searchable. It just may be the best thing about removing the 140 character limit. With 1500 million visitors (as of 12/10/15) who do not log in, more searchable content matters. If you know how to write good copy (again, the Art of Twitter Effect) and Tweet often, this could be a be a huge win. Of course, it also means with everyone posting more your actual odds of content appearing in a search could decrease.

More searchable content, however, still doesn’t diminish the lost web traffic effect. It could also lead to wide scale abuse in due to keyword stuffing and other black hat ‘SEO’ practices.

(The Search Effect Side effect: This could create an internal Twitter SEO industry.)

 

The Conversation (or the Customer Service) effect

My favorite reason for loving Twitter (even more than the oodles of web traffic I get) is it’s ability to build and grow relationships. Yes, it can be done effectively elsewhere (I’ve been having a great conversation about life, this industry and working together on a few projects with the Fabulous Amy Donahue of Get Hybrid Social on LinkedIn), but Twitter offers me something exclusive – brevity

 

Twitter’s beauty has alwaysd been in its brevity.

 

Since I can get wordy – this article is over 2100 words – being forced to cut it short is a good thing for me. Then there’s the time management issue. Tweets were set to 140 character limit for compatibility with SMS messaging. As life has gotten busier, as demands for our time have increased, it’s been harder to sit down and chat for any length of time. I found myself scheduling time for conversations with friends. That meant longer intervals between speaking. Text messaging has enabled me to have ‘conversations’ and ‘talk’ regularly. It allowed life to proceed and still maintain or grow connections. Twitter, for me, works the same way. For business, it’s the equivalent of constant customer contact and top of mind awareness.

I’m concerned the messages could start becoming longer, requiring more time to read, longer replies and ultimately become too time consuming.

Not to be completely negative here, having the ability to expand a tweet still works for me (and I’m excited about the prospect). There are times I truly could use an extra 20 characters.

I really dislike abbreviations and shorthand (and you’ll rarely see me use them). To me they’re less professional and using them runs the risk of miscommunication. The 140 character limit means sometimes having to use them or change the content and what I really wanted my message to be. That’s one thing for my content but another for conversations and especially customer service.

I have a number of Twitter conversations most days and keeping within the 140 character limit is easy. But what happens when it’s a customer service question? What happens when the answer simply cannot be cut short? That means multiple, continued Tweets. It works but still a choppy conversation. It would be nice in these circumstances to have some extra real estate.

 

The Meta Description

This is not the first time the character count has been discussed. If there is no change, I expect it will be brought up again.  That means thinking ahead. True, I do not need to change my posting strategy.  I can still march on as I have been doing. I may even be successful for a time but….

Failing to adapt in a changing environment, however, rarely has a good outcome.

 

My posting strategy if and when the 140 character limit is removed:

What if Tweets were structured like Google’s search listings?

The body of the tweet, the 140 character limit you see now, would continue be the attention grabber, what gets you to stop and hit ‘expand’. It’s the article or page title in the SERPs.

The expanded content would contain the post link with a short description, effectively the post’s meta description. Like the meta description in search listings, it’s what truly determines if the link is clicked.  Only in this case that ‘meta description affects the actual search results.

A Tweet for this article would look like:

Are you ready to kiss Twitter's 140 character limit goodbye?

The expanded version:

What if Tweets appeared in your feed looking more like a Google search page result?

The art form remains. Instead of writing content to be seen in a feed or picked up in searches and getting the external click through, it’s slightly altered to produce an internal click. The bonus is in getting a few more characters to work to use (your link moves to the body of the Tweet).

 

What I’d Like To See

I do like the idea of changing up Twitter. I think it could use a refreshing. I do however like much of what has made Twitter such an awesome platform for many of us using it. Going from a 140 character limit t0 10,000, while offering some positives comes at the potential expense of diminished web traffic and a few other negatives.

So what would I do?

Granted no one is asking my opinion, especially Jack Dorsey himself but that’s never stopped me before so…..

 

Simply thinking about how I would approach posting above, maybe a hybrid of what we have vs what is proposed may work best.

  • Split Character Limits: 140 character limit for the visible portion of  tweet and 155 (from Google’s meta description length) for the post body. This more than doubles the character count, adds the search value from more text, makes conversation (customer service and relationship building) easier, maintains Twitter as a great source of web traffic and still keeps with the initial reason for the character count. Add in a link, image or video at the end (not counting towards the character count).
    .
  • No links in the visible portion of the tweet.  This should encourage more quality content within the visible portion reducing clickbait practices as well. It would force content writers to step up their game. While Twitter would still be a good source of web traffic, you will have to put in a little more effort to get it. Want the traffic? Your content needs to generate two clicks. One to expand the post and one to get to your site.
    .
  • A post save feature: Yes, I can click on a tweet’s timestamp, open it in my browser and bookmark it for later, but it would be so much nicer to have a ‘save’ button. Then I’d have access to the content long term. Even give me a column next to Notifications called ‘Saved Tweets’.
    .
  • An edit feature: None of us are perfect. (Thanks to Angel Rubia for the suggestion during today’s #DigiBlogChat with Carol Stephen.)

No Engagement On Your Posts? Who Cares!

One of the challenges for small brands on social media is simply getting engagement.  We stress over writing and posting good content our readers want at the perfect time only to find it doesn’t get seen or worse – it does – and still there is no engagement! Rather than tell you why and how to get that engagement (I’ll save that for a later post), I’m going to throw this out there and tell you to:

Stop worrying about how many likes, comments, and shares you’re getting. You do NOT need engagement on your social media posts for your efforts to be successful.

For the record, your efforts should be focused on creating engagement but not seeing good levels of does not mean your efforts were worthless and social media as a failure as a result. I stress this point because it is possible, no matter what efforts you undertake, you may never actually get good levels of engagement.

 

Maybe it’s your product or service?

If you’re a fertility doctor, a divorce attorney or therapist, there’s a good chance not only won’t someone want to like or comment on your posts, they may not even want to like your page. The same may be true for lawyers, financial planners, and doctors. On the off-chance, someone they know will see that activity is enough of a reason to not engage.

Some just prefer to lurk.

Some people don’t like to comment. They may like the page and lurk on purpose. They want the information, not the conversation. They’re learning, researching and making a determination of what they need or want and if they’ll buy from you. Unless they have a specific question, you won’t likely hear from them until they’re ready to buy. Even then, contact is likely to be them emailing, calling or stopping by, not social engagement.

 

Stop stressing over post-level engagement

It isn’t necessary to drive sales

A  very compelling CTA in radio spot or print ad may get your customer’s attention and trigger that ‘buy response’ but by the time they get home or take few minutes to think about it, they can find all kinds of reasons not to buy. The moment passes and it’s forgotten.

The big value for smaller brands using social media is the direct connection and interaction it enables. You can talk to your customer, ask questions and work to move them to action in real-time on a piece of content. This direct, immediate communication makes it much easier to work through customer objections.

But what if you don’t get the engagement? Those compelling CTAs in a radio or print ad still work. Not every customer will have or create obstacles. The same holds true for CTAs in social content. Even though social media’s value is predominantly its inbound capability, it still can be successful as an outbound tool. A post with a great CTA doesn’t need engagement to convert.

A word of advice here. Leveraging social media in this way over the long-term is not a good practice. What you may gain with this approach will be far less than otherwise possible using social media as a relationship tool. I am merely pointing out it’s possible for social media to generate revenue as an outbound tool when the inbound aspect isn’t working.

 

It isn’t necessary to drive website traffic

This is another area where engagement simply isn’t needed to convert. A great intro which makes the reader want to click throughOptimized link content for a Facebook post - title, meta description and featured image + source and Facebook Authorship and an optimized link (think visually appealing featured image a great meta description and title) is enough.

In fact, a post which doesn’t see a like or comment but drives traffic may result in even better engagement later. Once on your site, there is an opportunity to capture email or other lead generation information allowing you to provide more tailored content and to engage with a prospective client when you want, rather than waiting for them to take action.

Focusing on writing content which drives web traffic is a great tactic for those whose businesses, like those mentioned above, tend not to get post-level engagement.

 

It isn’t necessary to build relationships

How do you build relationships and connect with your audience if you’re getting limited or no engagement?

Limited: With the exception of Facebook (it’s not as easy but still possible – why you need to leverage your personal profile for business) you can see who liked or +1’d your content and privately or publicly thank them, even ask them a question to drive further interaction  They still may not reply with more than a like, but they are aware you noticed them and took the time to acknowledge them. That is a simple gesture which goes a long way.

None: Even with lurkers on your profiles, you can still create relationships.

 

If you cannot build relationships through conversation, build it through your content.

 

Original Content.  I urge my clients to be more personal on their business profiles. Bring some of yourself into your brand. If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, it’s already there. You just need to showcase it and put it out in the open. Bonds form over commonalities and shared interests. They form when there are natural connections.

This is one of the primary reasons knowing your audience is so important. Knowing their likes, wants, desires and interests, their buyer persona, allows you to create content which speaks to them. Posting stories which appeal to your audience on a personal level as part of your content mix is a simple way of connecting without the actual conversation.

 

Shared Content.  Sharing content is a terrific way to reduce your time commitment while still showing authority but it is also one of the best ways to create relationships through content. Consider HOW you post the content you are sharing.

 

You do not need to engage with your audience to form a connection or bond if you’re creating content which resonates with them.

 

The Bottom Line

Without question, you want the engagement. You want likes, comments, and shares. You want to write content to drive them, but knowing you may never get that engagement, make sure your content needs to ‘speak’ directly to your audience, to make them connect with you and your brand.

Should You ‘Regram’

using apps to share Instagram posts by others? Having one account under Tactical Social Media and another under me (with minimal overlap) there is an advantage to sharing my own content.

From their own Terms of Service (the short version): “Post only your own photos and videos… Given this statement and no native share option, it would seem ‘regramming’ is not permitted.

What has set Instagram apart from the other big social media sites is original content.

There is a bit of conflicting info here if you look at the long version: “….don’t post anything you’ve copied or collected from the Internet that you don’t have the right to post.” While they’re telling us to only post our own content, they seem to have left the door open to sharing when you have permission.

I have been sitting on the fence on this one.

 

Should you Regram?

I’ve read a few articles discussing what counts as permission. One even stated you may have the rights to share content which someone else posted featuring you or your brand. Personally, even if your brand is featured in my content, unless I give you explicit permission to use it, you cannot. It’s still my content.  This can be a real issue when it comes to user-generated content, not just on Instagram but on other social media sites as well.

Apps like Regram, Repost, Instarepost (I purposely haven’t included links to these apps) and a few others I have found make it possible to share Instagram posts and do include a watermark attributing the image to the original account. This, however, doesn’t count as permission.

 

Do you Regram?

If you do, what are you sharing?

  • Is it your own content across your profiles?
  • Is it someone else’s content.
  • Do you have permission to regram a particular piece of content if you’re sharing from others?
  • What about when someone tags you or your brand in a post? Should you regram it? Do the right to do so?

A final thought.

The short of it – Instagram has made it ambiguous in its TOS but the lack of a native share option leads me to think the practice is not acceptable. The fact that third-party apps exist doesn’t change what is or isn’t allowed.

There is a small window here where the practice may actually be used legitimately. It’s possible Instagram’s TOS was designed to foster personal, original content and allow sharing of it (as opposed to posting content found elsewhere. The lack of a native sharing option may have been to remove their potential liability for content theft rather than prevent the practice in its entirety. In this case, regram apps, which are designed to allow sharing from within the social site would OK.

I’ll leave you with this related post for as additional food for thought – Instagram Etiquette // Is Regramming OK?

For now, I don’t regram and my professional advice has been not to do it, but is the practice acceptable? Should I reconsider my stance?

 

Thoughts from Justine Pretorius: To Regram or Not To Regram

And if you’re still working on figuring out Instagram for your brand: Questioning How To Make Instagram Work For You?

 

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.

 

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#123517″ class=”” size=””]My Instagram strategy:  Be social, be personal, be myself, be fun and #BeTactical doing it![/perfectpullquote]

 

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]