Why Instagram trumps Vine

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In the world of technology, in order to stay relevant and profitable, your brand has to adapt. Today, social media giant Facebook unveiled a highly anticipated video feature on Instagram, a strategic move to satisfy audiences who are seeking innovative mobile technology. It’s a much needed defense tactic against rivals such as Twitter’s mobile application Vine, which has amassed a large following for its six-second videos, and Snapchatwhich enables videos and photographs to “self-destruct.”

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive at Facebook, believes that mobile is the best way for his company to remain profitable. In Facebook’s 2012 annual report, the company stated: “We believe that mobile usage of Facebook is critical to user growth and engagement over the long term, and accordingly are prioritizing mobile product development.” The Menlo Park, California-based company has tripled the Instagram workforce since the photo-sharing platform was acquired last year, and during the launch event Zuckerberg hinted, “We’re really just getting started with this product.”

The recent announcement is evidence that Instagram’s video application trumps Vine’s current offerings, allowing users to record and share 15-second videos with the option of selecting custom covers and one of 13 signature filters, as well as boasts image stabilization. But unlike Vine videos, Instagram videos do not continuously loop.

Brands have learned that uploading videos online is a powerful way to deliver advertising. Consumers watch videos for two reasons: First entertainment, and secondly information.  With projections that streaming video will harness more than 70% of online traffic in the next few years, it’s clear that video consumption won’t dwindle.

If you’re looking to try your hand at creating an online video, here why Instagram video trumps Vine:

It’s user-friendly

The selling point of Instagram is its ease of use. The app takes seconds to learn and is so simple to use.

It’s reach and integration is unrivaled

Instragram let’s users share video on Facebook and Twitter, as well as embed videos on a blog or website. These capabilities offer brands the opportunity to extend their reach to a larger audience and integrate marketing efforts over several platforms. This far outweighs Vine’s appeal since Instagram currently has over 100 million users. The product update is likely to send the user count up.

Less restrictions

While Vine only gave users six seconds of video, Instagram video boasts 15 seconds of recording right out the gate—and the videos don’t loop. In addition, Vine was only available for iPhone users until earlier this month while Instagram launched its video option immediately on both platforms. Trust, socially savvy customers won’t forget those details.

If you have yet to secure your brand identity on Instagram, now is the time to do so. Craft a strategic plan for utilizing the technology and start shooting.

6 Ways to Keep Your Brand Hack-Free in Social Media

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There’s no question that social media is an ideal venue for marketing and sales. But along with the rewards come threats, due in part to the fundamental qualities of cyberspace: easy access, ambiguity, and global reach.  Because the online world has seen little formal policing, it’s perfect for the “hijacking” of brands. Brands such as NBC News, Jeep, Burger King and USA Today have fallen victim to hacking, exposing the vulnerability of these platforms. While I cannot assure you that your social media accounts will not be hacked, here are some tips to minimize your brand’s risk of being victimized.

Use social media tools

HootSuite, an online brand management service, can provide your organization with the ability to allow multiple employees to monitor, engage and manage your accounts without giving them access to your social media sites’ passwords. HootSuite Teams allows you to control access to social networks and profiles, as well as change permissions any time to remain consistent with your business needs.

Implement a strong social media policy

If you haven’t already, develop a social media policy and review with your employees what is and is not appropriate to post online to ensure that you safeguard confidential information. Also, require employees to log into social media accounts via one computer rather than allowing them to access them from a public venue such as a hotel or conference center.

Are you in the know?

Keep up to date with warnings from news outlets about tactics employed by spammers and hackers. Never click on links that contain suspicious messages or that are from sources that you do not know. Consider setting up a Google Alert, utilizing keywords such as hacked, spammer or hijacked.

Enable two-factor authentication

Sites including Facebook and Google+ show your active sessions. As a general security precaution, you can enable these features to ensure no authorized person is logging into your accounts.

Change passwords often

A password should be hack-proof yet something that is simple enough to remember. Powerful passwords combine upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers. Change the password as soon as an employee leaves the company or if you suspect that security has been compromised.

Have a contingency plan in place

It’s imperative that everyone on your team who manages or evaluates your brand’s social media accounts knows what to do if your account is hijacked. The plan should be in writing and reviewed with the staff quarterly.

S. Lynn Cooper is a Washington, DC-based digital strategist and communications expert. Cooper is the founder and director of Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency that specializes in the creation of social and digital strategies and campaign management. Follow her on Twitter at @sociallyahead.

5 Tips to Improve Engagement With Video-Sharing App Vine

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With the recent release of the Twitter-owned service, see how your brand can create engaging content

Vine

Imagine garnering one of the best sales teams in the country, having them refer new clients to you every day without having to pay them one red cent. By incorporating the power of video in your digital strategy, you can increase your brand awareness and sales significantly. Recently, Twitter acquired a new mobile video service called Vine. Vine lets you create and share short-form videos (6 seconds or less) just like tweets (140 characters or less), the brevity of videos created on this platform allows users to get more creative with content. Here are several ways you can use Vine to increase online engagement:

Convince

Videos are more persuasive than written content. In fact, studies conducted at Harvard have shown that videos can increase behavioral changes significantly. By shooting a customer testimonial showing how they have personally benefited from your product or service may be more effective than you running a sales promotion.

Get Personal

Supporters want to know the people behind your brand. By personalizing your brand using video, you are able to build relationships with your target audience and ultimately convert more business. Create short content clips at team meetings, corporate announcements and events.

Inform

When you create video content that educates your target audience about aspects of your business, you become the face of the industry.  Keep in mind, Dr. Oz may not be the best surgeon in the world, but he has established himself as a medical thought leader by engaging with his audience on video.

Compel

Do not miss the opportunity to ask your viewers to take some type of action at the end of your video.  Ask that they visit your website; share the video or sign up for your newsletter. If your video is persuasive, you’ll most likely have their undivided attention so take full advantage of it!

Exhibit
To stand out from the crowd, think beyond a single video. To increase your visibility, create a series of short content videos that are published regularly. You can showcase your products individually or  ask your internal team entertaining questions. Not only will this create synergy around your content, it will also allow you to build brand identity.

How to Visualize Your Brand With Instagram!

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The photo-sharing app recently rolled out web profiles. See how you can use the new addition to your advantage

Today there is so much content on the Internet and you only have seconds to catch someone’s eye.  In fact, brands are still trying to figure out the best ways to standout from the crowd. When devising your social media strategy, you should consider that visual images garner more than just attention, they drive engagement.

Enter Instagram, a rapidly growing social network acquired by Facebook in April of this year.  Instagram currently has over 100 million users. It provides a visually engaging way to display your brand to clients and influencers through a series of pictures. The company recently announced the roll out of web-profile pages, taking Instagram from a purely mobile application to a photo-sharing, web-based network. The move will give brands a public URL so they can promote and engage with limited restrictions.

Here, we look at the various ways brands can use Instagram to grow their business:

All-Access Pass

The best thing you can do for your business on Instagram is show people why they should get to know your brand. Instagram is more than just a social media tool; it is an opportunity. Gather your team and conduct a brainstorming session. During the conference, think of creative scenarios where photographs and images can highlight your product and/or service, employees, events or even the office.

Taylor Swift shares her Starbucks Message with Instagram Fans!

Empower your Audience

Get the most out of Instagram by crowdsourcing content. Request customers upload and tag your brand when utilizing your product or service. This will not only initiate engagement between your company and your target audience, but also expose your brand to its tribes.

Popular #hashtag for outdoor enthusiasts!

Tag It

A hashtag, a topic with a hash symbol (#) preceding it, is used to categorize messages. It adds metadata to your tweet. Just like its social media cousin Twitter, Instagrammers are avid users of hashtags and they are exceptionally important for searching on the platform.  Incorporate relevant hashtags— and relevant Twitter or Instagram handles—into your uploads as a means to market content to a wider audience.

Add Icons and Widgets

Direct customers to your corporate Instagram profile by adding a “Follow me on Instagram” link or icon to your corporate website, email signature, social media profiles or consumer outreach.

Backstage at New York Fashion Week

Share Insider Tips

People love when they are privy to insider information. With that being said, why not employ Instagram to highlight new, exclusive offerings associated with your product or service? Give visual systematic instructions on best practices or provide customers with a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your product.

Contest are a great way to connect with fans!

Run a contest

Online contests allow prospects and clients to get more involved with your brand, as well as increases communication. The great thing about running a contest is you will also build up a beautiful collection of images that your brand can later use. It’s a win-win situation!

We hope this article helped you to discover new ways to utilize this platform. Don’t forget to share with your networks!

13 Ways to Use Google Search like a Pro

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We’ve been told time and time again to “Google it” and let’s face it with the fast paced society we live in we use the search engine several times a day. But, chances are that you are probably still using Google search in its most basic form. Guess what! Below are 8 super simple tips for you to implement. We suggest that you bookmark this post of Google search tips, so you’ll then have the tips on hand!

  1. Explicit Phrase:
    Let’s say you are looking for content about social media marketing.  Instead of just typing social media marketing into the Google search box, you will likely be better off searching explicitly for the phrase.  To do this, simply enclose the search phrase within double quotes.

Example: “social media marketing”

  1. Exclude Words:
    You’re searching for content about strategy, but you want to exclude any results that contain the term mobile.  To do this, simply use the “-” sign in front of the word you want to exclude.

Example Search: strategy -mobile

  1. Site Specific Search:
    Often, you want to search a specific website for content that matches a certain phrase.  Even if the site doesn’t support a built-in search feature, you can use Google to search the site for your term. Simply use the “site: somesite.com” modifier.

Example: “social media training” site: http://www.sociallyahead.com

  1. Similar Words and Synonyms:
    Let’s say you want to include a word in your search, but want to include results that contain similar words or synonyms.  To do this, use the “~” in front of the word.

Example: “social media” ~professional

  1. Specific Document Types:
    If you’re looking to find results that are of a specific type, you can use the modifier “filetype:” For example, you might want to find only PowerPoint presentations related to internet marketing.

Example: “social media” filetype: ppt

  1. This OR That:
    By default, when you do a search, Google will include all the terms specified in the search.  If you are looking for any one of one or more terms to match, then you can use the OR operator.  (Note: The OR has to be capitalized).

Example: social media marketing OR online advertising

  1. Phone Listing:
    Let’s say someone calls you on your mobile number and you don’t know who it is.  If all you have is a phone number, you can look it up on Google using the phonebook feature.

Example: phonebook: 202-656-0949 (note: the provided number is the number to Socially Ahead’s office, you can use any number you like for your search).

  1. Area Code Lookup:
    Strange incoming number to your phone? No need to fear,just enter the 3-digit area code and Google will tell you where it’s from.

Example: 202

  1. Numeric Ranges:
    This is a rarely used, but highly useful tip.  Let’s say you want to find results that contain any of a range of numbers.  You can do this by using the X…Y modifier (in case this is hard to read, what’s between the X and Y are two periods.)  This type of search is useful for years (as shown below), prices, or anywhere where you want to provide a series of numbers.

Example: British Prime Minister 1930…1990

  1. Stock (Ticker Symbol):
    Just enter a valid ticker symbol as your search term and Google will give you the current financials and a quick thumb-nail chart for the stock.

Example: GOOG

  1. Calculator:
    The next time you need to do a quick calculation, instead of bringing up the Calculator applet, you can just type your expression in to Google.

Example: 7821 * 7.50

  1. Word Definitions:
    If you need to quickly look up the definition of a word or phrase, simply use the “define:” command.

Example: define: socially

  13.  Currency Converter

If you are traveling or doing business in another country, you can easily look up the   exchange  rate by entering your nations currency and putting a ? with the other country’s currency abbreviation .

Example: 1 USD = ? PKR

Hope this list of Google search tips proves useful in your future Google searches.  If there are any of your favorite Google expert power tips that we’ve missed, please feel free to share them below in the comments.

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Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency specializing in the creation of social /digital media strategies, online communications, training, staffing and web content production with offices in Washington, DC and New Jersey.  Socially Ahead focuses on helping brands and individuals navigate social media and online space to build better connections.

The final log off: Do you need a social media will?

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Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide advice only. Every legal matter is unique and you should consult with a legal professional in your area.

Unfortunately a few months ago, I lost a friend to leukemia who was in her twenties. She was an active participant on social media networks and during a discussion with friends someone asked “What do are they going to do with her Facebook account?” It is a great question that many of us in this digital age are going to be faced with. In fact, creating a “social media will” is now one of the government’s official personal finance recommendations, listed on USA.gov.

So ask yourself, what should happen to the content you have posted? Consider creating a statement of how you would like your online identity handled by appointing someone you trust as an online executor. The executor will be responsible for the maintenance and or closure of your email addresses, social media profiles and blogs after you are deceased.

Consider these steps to assist you with write a social media will.

  • Write down a list of all the websites where you have a profile, along with usernames and passwords.
  • State how you would like your profiles to be handled. You may want to completely cancel or leave it up for friends and family to visit. Some sites allow users to create a memorial profile where others can view your profile but cannot post anything new.
  • Identify and meet with your intended executor. Explain to them their role and share the list with them. (Google Drive may be a good resource as you can retain ownership of the document and share it with them. This way if your passwords are changed it can be easily updated.)

While my friend did not have a social media will her family chose to leave her profile up so that we could post photos and memories, and while I knew she was an awesome person now I can connect with the hundreds of people whose lives she touched and make new acquaintances.

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Socially Ahead, a strategic communications agency specializing in the creation of social /digital media strategies, online communications, training and web content production based in Washington, DC. Socially Ahead focuses on helping brands and individuals navigate social media and online space to build better connections.

LinkedIn launches Targeted Status Updates for Brands

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Thanks to the LinkedIn Gods, you can now select a target audience for updates shared on your LinkedIn Company Page.  You can specify your target audience by company size, industry, job function, seniority, geography and whether they are employees of your company or not. Targeted Status Updates were launched to select LinkedIn customers and are now available to all Company Pages.

Click video below to learn more

Don’t forget to share this article with your network!

Can your business afford a social media mistake?

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Before you think of assigning an intern to manage your corporate social media… think again!

In general, most companies post news and articles related to their services and products. They also post events, photographs, tips and other information that aligns with their company’s direction.

This information gathering takes time. One way to solve the posting bandwidth issue is to assign the social media updates to an intern. After all, interns are social-media savvy and inexpensive, right?

However, if the employees posting to social media sites aren’t in the loop about the latest projects, releases, initiatives, or other organizational goals, they may find it difficult to know what to say. What they post may not align with your company’s mission.

According to A Social Primer for Technical CommunicationIntercom. June 2011, an intern or young staffer may not have the knowledge needed to guide the social media endeavors with the right direction. It states:

“Someone must have ownership of the social media strategy. The initial reaction is to look to the new intern or the youngest employee because he or she is probably using many of the tools, but this can be an unsuccessful choice. An individual’s goals do not always align with a company’s goals. Individuals are often looking to share personal thoughts, photos, and news with family and friends—probably not the same goals as a company. The strategic choice is someone who understands the mission of the company, the goals of implementing the strategy, and how the tools and the message delivered therein, may have positive or negative effects.”

In other words, although it may seem logical to designate a young, social-media savvy employee to handle the social media updates, such an employee may not have the right information and direction to post in alignment with the company’s goals.

Your corporate social media presence can help garner or lose clients. There have been numerous articles and case studies where social media faux pas have severely hurt businesses bottom line.

So ask yourself

  • How much supervision and coaching will this individual need to complete this task?
  • Does this person have the communication skills and professionalism needed to represent your business globally?
  • Does this person have the research capability to find relevant information to post on your corporate social media profiles?

If you answered negatively to any of these questions then this is not the person to consider and you may be better suited to retain a professional strategist.

While we understand that some organizations may not have the financial resources to outsource, we strongly suggest that you invest in training for the intern or young employee is implemented prior to them taking on this task.

If your business has hired an intern to manage social media what has been your experience? Was it positive or negative? Please share.

 

 

8 Twitter Tips for Small Businesses

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Did you know that there are over 2 billion sent out each month? Curious how you can get your small business tweets to stand out? Here are eight effective tips that can be implemented into your social media campaign today!

  1. Search through your competitors’ followers and follow them if you think they could offer valuable insight or become leads.
  2. Add Tweet variety with news, photos, videos etc.
  3. Share projects or community service with your followers.
  4. Don’t just promote yourself –share information about your industry and retweet others relevant content.
  5. Reply to your @Mentions, especially if your followers ask questions relevant to your product or service offerings.
  6. If you have a sale or promotion, tweet about it! It generates free buzz!
  7. Notify followers of exclusive corporate news, events or conferences to encourage interest and allegiance
  8. Follow Friday #FF – leverage it every week. You’ll be happy you did.

If you’re looking for more info on how to get the most out of your Twitter campaign, be sure to contact us, sociallyahead@gmail.com

Is your reputation on the line because of social media?

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Benjamin Franklin once said ” It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. ” Social media has become a part of our daily lives, in fact for some it has been their only form of communication/interaction.  I truly love connecting with individuals on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for personal and business reasons yet I cannot express enough to my cohorts that the social in social media is misleading.

Below are two examples of personal social media accounts that cost the individual their jobs!

Gilbert Gottfried – Fired from Aflac over offensive Twitter posts

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired by employer Aflac, for whom he was a spokesperson, for making at least two jokes about the recent tragic events in Japan. Gottfried, whose voice served as that of the Aflac duck, isn’t known for either tact or good timing; he famously made a 9/11 joke just three weeks after 9/11 happened. And the comedian’s Twitter stream is replete with jokes that some might describe as tasteless or insensitive.

Read more here via Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/03/15/gilbert-gottfried-japan-twitter/

Dawnemarie Souza – Fired by American Medical Response for “online badmouthing”

Former medical technician Dawnemarie Souza was fired on December 1, 2010 for using vulgar language to criticize her boss on Facebook after he denied one of her requests. Several co-workers joined in on the thread, making similarly negative comments about the supervisor. Souza made these comments from her private account on her own time and on her own computer. Her case received national attention regarding employers social media policies. Her case was eventually settled with her former employer.

Read more here: http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/08/technology/facebook_firing_settlement/index.htm

These two individuals will now have a track record that will follow them for life and I would hate for something like this happening to you. So, I encourage you to THINK before you POST anything as  it estimated that more than 68 percent of employers do a Web search on job applicants as part of their hiring procedures. More than half of them admit to not bringing someone on board because of negative information they found online. Also do not post any negative information about your employer online unless you want to get fired – remember if you post it anywhere someone could see it. If your unhappy with your job then its time to move on not tweet about it!! As my mother would always say – “Don’t burn your bridges

So when was the last time you used GOOGLE to perform a search about you?  Well.. what are you waiting for…

If you need any assistance with social media please email me at sociallyahead@gmail.com

All the best,