State of Social Media for 2016

In the investment world when looking at the future performance of a stock you are often labeled as either “bull” or “bear”. The bull outlook is optimistic. The bear outlook is the opposite and you don’t see future performance as profitable.

With any social media platform, you are making an investment of your time and/or your resources.

With that in mind – here is my current state on some of the major players and my stance on each one now:

Facebook – BULL

It’s the largest social media network and its tools for reaching a targeted audience are exceptional. Creating a community of loyal fans and developing a marketing plan for growth has resulted in an excellent return on investment in nearly 99% of all campaigns I have been involved with.

They continue to innovate also with new tools like Facebook live that came out this year and continuous tweaking to what will reach the most people.

Another example – events on Facebook worked well at one point, then they stopped working. Recent changes have made using these very profitable again.

For a social media company to remain relevant and growing, you have to see these subtle changes constantly occurring…and Facebook is doing it.

YouTube – BEAR

There are still great uses for YouTube, but the Facebook video platform will nearly always guarantee more views with your intended target audience. Cross post your videos here if you have the time, but focus on Facebook.

Twitter – BEAR

Twitter literally sucks the time away from your day and has been overrun with marketing messages which can make for a cluttered news feed. Their advertising tools are OK, but only on one occasion when running a campaign to target 25-45-year-old males have I found what I considered a positive return on investment.

LinkedIn – BEAR

Their niche is focused on the business community and for helping you find your next career. I would highly recommend keeping your personal resume tuned up here if seeking a new position or willing to listen to the recruiters that will undoubtedly call upon you. It’s also a great place to demonstrate and share knowledge to colleagues in your career field. It’s been immune to most efforts to include boosting posts…they’re available, but their effectiveness in this platform is questionable. For businesses, my recommendation – use this if seeking your next hire.

Pinterest – BEAR

I’ve never been a fan. I’ve used it with one client with zero results. Great place to find something to cook for dinner.

Google Plus – BEAR

Have a page for search engine purposes then walk away. Seriously.

Instagram – BULL

Instagram has grown wildly this year for many businesses we work with. The new business accounts that allow boosting posts, along with its integration into our Facebook marketing efforts has seen an increase of walk up customers and building buzz around products. The trick is researching relevant hashtags and taking advantage of trends to boost awareness.

There are several issues to overcome which I’ve come to appreciate: There must be an image. No links (unless you’ve boosted the post). Posts must be done manually, no scheduling allowed though there are tools that can save your images and text, then send you a reminder to post.

Snapchat – BULL

Is it easy to use for marketing, no. Do I love what it can do to bring brand awareness? Absolutely.

Building a geo fence around your event or location can be expensive, but building an awareness campaign of your special branded filter and using it to promote your business to a VERY young audience is priceless. How often can you get 18-24-year-olds to openly post their images with your brand associated where all their friends can see it? That’s what snapchat can do for you.

Conclusion

All this to say, and in keeping with my investment theme, I would like to add this disclaimer. Past performance does not guarantee future results! All the platforms must continuously evolve to remain relevant…if not, they will die…or just wither away like MySpace.

5 Tips For Using YouTube

I’ve used multiple avenues for sharing videos, some names you may not even recognize. Remember Blip.tv? It’s not around anymore. Google even had it’s own video sharing service before they bought YouTube and merged their videos into it.

YouTube has really come into its own and evolved into a true social media platform…so much so that Facebook wants that share of the pie too (a post for another day).

Here are a few tidbits about YouTube that you’ll want to take advantage of:

 
1. Subscribers. Having subscribers is big. YouTube does this great thing and notifies your subscribers when you post new videos. The subscribers ultimately choose how often and when they want these notifications, but the more you get, the more likely your new videos will be seen. If they are getting seen by these fans that are bought into your channel, your views go up. Hopefully, your loyalist will share your videos via other social media channels. Doing that leads to more views and you got it…more subscribers.

Here’s a little trick that I started using recently with YouTube channels I work with. I’ll show you my church for an example.

If you have a link on your website, email blast, Facebook or Twitter post, add this: ?sub_confirmation=1 at the end of your address. It will look like this: https://www.youtube.com/user/VaughnForest?sub_confirmation=1

Go ahead and click it to see what happens and become a subscriber to my church’s YouTube channel.

2. Custom Thumbnails. I admit, this is something I’m still experimenting with to determine its usefulness, but it sure does make your channel look nice and when you embed a video gives a professional appearance.

Again check out my church – http://youtube.com/user/vaughnforest. Notice how most videos have a custom thumbnail versus the random image that YouTube pulls out.

YouTube reports that engaging thumbnails (however you choose to define that depends on your audience) increases click through rates. What I can confirm through my experience is that it shows you are actively producing videos and putting a little extra thought into their presentation across multiple channels.

Here are a couple important factors that YouTube points out when creating thumbnails for your videos:

  • Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels)
  • Be uploaded in image formats such as .jpg, .gif, .bmp or my personal favorite .png.
  • Remain under the 2MB limit
  • Use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews

3. Take advantage of the YouTube channel tips. On the right-hand side of your home page (while logged in), YouTube shows channel tips. Basically, it’s a list of suggestions that YouTube is giving you to show you how to better engage your audience.

It has good suggestions. Read through them and do as many of them as possible.

4. Live streaming is available. Some people actually are able to stream live events for free using it. You’ll need to have your account verified, in good standing then go to your account features to enable it. Once it’s enabled, you’ll have a new option in your video manager for live events.

5. Copyright infringement is serious business. YouTube takes copyright violations seriously. Even ones that aren’t your fault (long story). Violate it, you get to go to copyright school and watch this fun video. I’d suggest watching it now so you don’t have to do it later. I say this from experience, and I’m a little annoying to others about copyrights and it still happened to me.

Last but not least…YouTube is constantly changing. YouTube has recently introduced an ad-free subscription service. There’s even a YouTube for Kids app that’s had over millions of downloads already. The gist is that it will enable families to have a simpler and safer video viewing experience.

So if you’re already producing videos, jump into YouTube. It’s not just cat videos anymore.

Why Should You Be On Social Media?

If you’re not using social media already for your business, you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with your current and potential customers and clients.

Here are some ways that being on social media can help you:

  • Increased exposure by opening new avenues of communication
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Develop loyal fans
  • Generate leads – connections, interests, etc.

Social media provides the ability to reach out and communicate on a personal level with your target audience on a DAILY basis!

 

Of course with the need, there are challenges that may present themselves:

  • Lack of time
  • Difficulty integrating social media with other activities
  • Moving beyond event promotion and sharing reports and results
  • Developing a consistent presence

That’s where we step in. We manage social media for many organizations and would love to help yours too. We work to grow your audiences, provide consistency, and tell your story in order to get your followers engaging with you!

Contact us so we can get to work helping you to take advantage of all that putting your business on social media can help with.

Image Or Results

Don’t be deceived by the title. You don’t have to choose. But for small business owners, you must prioritize. When faced with this balancing act we encourage you to return to what drives your business forward.

Many local businesses miss the mark of connecting with their audience because they choose trendy, over-polished and often vague creative instead of identifying and then building off their already solid reputations. It can’t be stated enough that to succeed YOU MUST BE YOU. That means your creative needs to continue to tell your story in an effective manner. If that requires a more “local” or “unpolished” feel to do so. We say jump in head first.   Not every advertising budget is created equal. Not every company is Nike or Apple where a simple swoosh or icon is all that’s needed to create familiarity.

Work within yourselves to create, project and brand your company in a way that will not only connect with your target customer, but will generate significant results. That should be daily goal of all advertising. Because, in the end, it’s only creative if it works. Creating a buzz is great, but what we really want to see is an increase in profit. Our advice: NEVER sacrifice actual results for a perceived image.

Rudy – Rudy – Rudy

Most of you are familiar with the 1993 film “Rudy.”  I must admit I have lost many afternoons of productiveness due to stumbling upon the movie while channel surfing. Rudy’s goal is to play football for Notre Dame, but before that’s possible, he must get accepted into the university, a task that will require extreme dedication and hard work. After several attempts, Rudy realizes his dream may be slipping away. While in conversation with a priest that had been counseling him, he asks the question, “Have I done all I can?”

I wonder how many business owners can truthfully answer “yes” to that question when it comes to promoting their company. Just like Rudy they’ve dedicated themselves to achieving something special only to leave a disconnect between their services and the potential customer.

Advertising has no blueprint, no set of Cliff’s Notes to guide you. Even if there were, how quickly would it become outdated in the ever- evolving world of branding and marketing? That is why The Ad Spark and other like-minded agencies are of benefit to many business owners. Our services and philosophies allow them a choice beyond the 2 most common and often detrimental options; 1) Handle the advertising decisions themselves. 2) Pay a high-cost agency to handle the advertising on their behalf.

I know many business owners want a say in how their ad dollars are spent, some even enjoy the marketing process. In my spare time I enjoy checking out homes and floor plans, I even have suggestions that would improve them.  But when it’s time to build or design, I want to hand over my suggestions and advice to those that have specific expertise in the field. Thus a true partnership is born.

So, in my discussion with business owners about their advertising, if I’m ever asked, “Have I done all I can”, my response would be, “who have you partnered with?”

Let’s work together to have potential customers chanting your name!

Try and Try Again

“I tried radio and it didn’t work!” I’ tried TV before and I didn’t see any benefit!” “I have tried that but it didn’t do anything for my business!”

Being in some form of advertising for 16 plus years I have heard about every excuse you can think of as to why a business won’t advertise. The general assumption is, “I tried it…” and for one reason or another it just simply didn’t work, or so they think.

There are many different reasons why an advertising campaign doesn’t work. Maybe the station wasn’t the right demo, maybe the message was ill timed, maybe the schedule didn’t run long enough or the frequency was watered down?

Maybe just maybe, you tried to be everything to everyone, when in all honesty your message spoke to no one in particular.

You might have been overwhelmed trying to run a business and buy a little advertising and said “what the heck” or “we’ll try it,” all the while you just wasted your hard earned money!

Try, and try again.

This time try it with a smaller one on one advertising and marketing agency. We help many frustrated business owners who have handled things on their own for many years and have wasted tons of money. We work with budgets of all sizes and we save you money when advertising. We aren’t afraid to tell you that something isn’t the right fit. Your success is our success.

It’s a new year, Try, and Try Again with The Ad Spark!

Let me know your thoughts. Register or login to comment.