Before the seemingly unstoppable rise of Snapchat, Instagram was very much regarded the place to be. The concept of a picture telling a thousand words is far from new, but can it really be used by business to succeed? Certainly, the integration with Facebook’s advertising platform offers no end of opportunities for engaging visual copy to succeed. But can it convert into something worth the investment?
Consider for a moment, that Instagram didn’t exist. We’d still like to share attractive pictures of ourselves and our surroundings to our friends and the world. Would we text them? Of course not, nobody likes a show off. Plus, only one person would realistically see it. Therefore, what need does Instagram actually serve? The answer is, it provides us the best means of promoting the best possible version of ourselves to as many people as possible. Why were people upset that a Facebook algorithm was set to kick in? Because it removes the chronological chaos. For those unaware, Instagram typically worked like a giant free for all, in which the best photos and content would rise to the top of the pile through the community. When the announcement came that it would prioritise your friends instead of the random force of the Instagram bubble, people were more than a little sad. Before, anyone could be Instagram famous for a day and have their message go viral. Now it needs engineering. Horrible news for the innocent civilian, but tremendous news for the data-driven marketing teams of the world.
With the recent addition of Google Analytics tracking codes for links on Instagram, they’ve made it entirely clear in the plainest terms that they want people to measure their success on the platform. This isn’t a move that would be made, if people weren’t successful. Indeed, there’s already an industry around individuals being sponsored to post about products – and it’s booming, and growing. Companies like Thuzio continue to grow and find success, connecting the right influencers with the right brand, at the right time to deliver maximum value for advertisers. In many regards, this is where we see Instagram being particularly useful. It offers a means of being incredibly visual, and if content is promoted by the best person for a specific audience, it offers the best way of making a first interaction. Platforms like Instagram, more than many others, allows for the positioning of a brand expert much faster than many others. While someone’s Twitter authority is typically measured by the number of followers held, and a Facebook page by it’s number of likes, Instagram authority is all about your most recent image – presenting the opportunity for anyone to be the “go-to-guy/girl” on any issue.
The conclusion? Instagram very much offers business value, but in order for it to succeed – it absolutely must be picked up by the right people. The platform, in addition to third party tools such as SoDash, Thuzio, and SoGrow (who have Instagram automation coming soon!), offer an excellent means of identifying the key influencers for your industry. What matters most next, is tailoring your content to meet their needs. And that, is something we’ll discuss very soon!
It’s absolutely no secret that Twitter’s a social platform with a lot to prove. Growth has slowed, leadership has been questioned, and there’s a feeling that the forthcoming big changes to character limits is the last roll of the dice. However, there’s been some more subtle tweaks that we reckon not everyone knows about. So here’s 3 quick points;
1) Connecting Contacts
Last Month, Twitter realised that without following the people you know, it’s not particularly “social” media at all. After all, if we wanted 24hr news, there’s no shortage of places to get it. To combat this, Twitter introduced the Connect tab, allowing you to search through your contacts for people to follow. Not only this, you can also receive recommendations based on location and the types of people you already follow. To get there, follow Twitter’s helpful guide below;
2) Go Live
It feels like everyone has seen “that” Chewbacca Mom video, and it goes to show the value of live video. Indeed, even Facebook prioritises live streams in the newsfeed, making it a great way to get the message out quick. If we look across to Snapchat, we see the value of video even more pronounced, with videos gaining 8-10x more engagement than traditional text or picture driven copy. If you’re lucky enough as not be tied to an Apple device, some users will see a “go live” button which connects you to Periscope, and lets you show a live feed on Twitter. Gone is the 140 character Q&A.
3) Images, Polls, Videos
We’re not quite there with this yet, but one big change to keep an eye on – especially if you’re a fan of visual content – is the coming removal of media counting towards your character count. This will also apply when you’ve used any @handles to reply. Not the biggest change in the world, but one that opens up a world of possibility. Considering that a link and a photo consumes 48 of your 140 character, you’re now going to open up around 20% more Tweet space. Don’t waste it.
Any other big changes that we’ve missed? Comment below!
As the election race continues to heat up, the SoGrow team have got all excited about something else. Unless you’ve lived under a social media rock, you’re probably aware by now that the new series of House of Cards has arrived. To give a brief summary of the series for those who haven’t watched it, the show follows protagonist Frank Underwood’s unique and shadowed path to the presidency.
The 10 word summary: This show displays what happens when POTUS and FUBAR merge.
(If you’re not an acronym expert, it’s maybe best to check over your shoulder before you click that…).
A key feature of this year’s real-world race has been the roles of social media and online communities. With Bernie Sanders raising over $40million in one month, politicians can’t avoid online channels anymore. Debates have consistently trended on Twitter, and offered candidates a chance to row back or fact-check after the event – giving candidates even more range with which to land a punch or deflect a blow. But with this in mind, we ask ourselves – if Frank Underwood had Twitter, what would it look like? And of our current contenders, where are their profiles strong, and where are they weak?
With such a divided field, and in the interest of not boring our readers to tears, we’ll take the three most likely candidates – Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
Where he’s strong:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. Whether you agree with his opinion or not is a different issue, but his constant attack stream makes it difficult for opponents to gain an advantage on social media. As soon as he has points scored against him on one issue, he’s able to find another to shift the focus. This is an art, and say what you will about Trump – he’s not stupid.
Where he’s weak:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. But, writer, you said that was where he’s strong?! Exactly. The problem with being as active on so many positions as Trump is on Twitter, is that sooner or later it’ll always backfire. Whether it’s a spelling mistake, or whether it’s a block capital loaded press of the panic button, Trump can be his own worst enemy.
Where he’s strong:
Cruz is fighting hard to support traditional areas of Republican voter pride, and given his performance in last night’s debate, it suggests he’s starting to build momentum. Whether this is enough, time will tell, but his inclusive rhetoric on Twitter is a marked difference from other candidates – and could position well in a fight against Clinton’s “Make America Whole Again” message.
Where he’s weak:
Attacking the front-runner candidate is rarely a bad plan. What creates an issue, is when you have to spend so much time trying to bring them down that you neglect your own message. There’s a balance to maintain here, between tearing down a rival’s barricade (or wall…), and promoting your personal brand. We feel Mr Cruz has struggled with this, and needs to start pushing himself as a better alternative – hope often beats fear.
Where he’s strong:
Rubio is the type of Republican that should play well with their younger voters, and has pushed his belief in millennials hard. Indeed, his newer approach to take on Trump with sophomore type jokes will serve to strengthen this position, and shows he’s prepared to fight in the trenches.
Where he’s weak:
Rubio’s Twitter feed has become filled with nothing but anti-Trump messages. While this may help him towards the Republican nomination, it doesn’t help the early general election message. Rubio must be careful to ensure he’s known as more than “the guy who makes fun of Trump” – and essentially, start looking like a president, instead of a message candidate.
The fight goes on, within America continuing to “Feel The Bern” despite state losses. There’s still twists and turns in the road before the nomination, or according to some sources, coronation. So let’s have a look at where the pair stand;
Where she’s strong:
Clinton’s campaign have an excellent understanding of visual media – and not only visual media, but how to be funny through it. Comedy might not win a presidency, but it makes her significantly more personable – helping her start to shed the Wall Street Hillary tag. If keeping up the momentum on Twitter, she might start to win over some of Sanders grass-roots campaigners – and deliver the fatal blow.
Where she’s weak:
An interesting message, given the articles about Goldman Sachs donations. Clinton has to work hard to be seen as more than a franchise candidate, or a safe pair of hands. In other words, she needs to inspire – and her Twitter content is on the whole humorous and easily shared, it doesn’t fit the media narrative. Something has to change, otherwise there’s an imbalance and the attacks over her lack of consistency will continue.
Where he’s strong:
Bernie’s popularity with young voters, a demographic often turned off by politics, has defied expectations. The strength of a grass-roots campaign that has snowballed to the stage where he has a slim but real path to the nomination is remarkable. The way his campaign has run will allow him to last longer in the race than many would have expected, and his donors can afford to give again. The longer the campaign rolls on, the more the message will get out – but will it be interesting enough?
Where he’s weak:
As a grass-roots powered candidate, it’s disappointing to see that he takes no personal involvement with his Twitter campaign. While in some ways this may add to his charm, it does beg the question as to whether he’s ready for the younger voter, despite the younger voter clearly being ready for him.
Tired of your business being beaten by the 0.1%? So are we.
You probably don’t know us. We don’t really know you. Yet what’s strange is, through social media, we can know almost all there is to know about each other in a matter of minutes – everything from where you went on holiday 3 years ago, to that time you spilled coffee on the office floor and put a photo of it on Instagram. That’s powerful information. Some of it’s pointless. Some of it’s scary. Above all, it’s valuable information. And that’s why it’s so important to have a system in place that’s capable of using and interpreting it in a way that makes sure you and your business survive way beyond the final rise of the robots.
Fortunately, you’re John Connor and we’re the T-800 (That’s The Terminator, in case you wondered – the friendly one, of course!). SoGrow is here from the future to protect you and boost the social profiles of small business. We live in a world where massive corporations and political figures will throw millions of pounds at targeting you, and knowing everything they possibly can – from when you’re most active on social media, the content you share, the websites you’re most likely to visit, the candidate you’ll vote for. Some of what they have access to, as well as how effective their predictor models are, would not only make your skin crawl – it would make you reach for the nearest tin foil hat. We’re proud to say that despite having access to the same tools, our company have never turned to the darker side of social media when working with high profile clients – and we aren’t going to.
According to the FSB, SMEs make up 99.9% of all private sector businesses, and SMEs employ 60% of all private sector employees. And yet, SMEs provide under half of all private sector turnover for the UK – 47%. Which means 53% of private sector turnover comes from 0.1% of business – and that’s not fair. It’s a statistic belonging of the old world, and we want to give small business the tools to reclaim a bigger share of the turnover through competing on social media.
“Big data” is an odd phrase. It feels as though since 2008, it’s been the biggest buzzword in every circle, from finance to market research. It’s crept into politics, and businesses that can’t manage it are finding themselves struggling to last the pace. Small business must be given a chance to not only catch up, but grow beyond the struggling behemoths. We want to use our powers to help community enterprises compete with multi-billion pound corporations. We’ve seen the power of social media – and we’re determined to take it to the masses. But to do that, we need people to know who we are, and what we do. Which is why we ask you to let us help your small business by pressing our social media hands firmly on your side of the scale. Together, let’s get your brand the recognition it deserves.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest romantic drama’s of all time, Casablanca follows Rick Blaine’s great love choice – whether to chase his love, or help the Czech Resistance leader escape and continue fighting against the Nazis. But “as time goes by” (the first of many Casablanca references in this piece), and the rise of Tinder, Coffee Meets Bagel, happn, and endless others continue to involve social media in our love life, we ask – how does it all work?
Step 1 – The Meet-Up
You’ve swapped the messages, progressed from the app to social media and texting, and the big day is here – you’re going to find out if the story matches, or whether you’ve been Catfished. Hopefully you’ve done this sensibly, and told your friends where you’re going, and following all the important safety rules of meeting a stranger (which can be found by clicking here). This is the first part where you’ll experience the reconnect – the part where social media stops being a pretend world, and starts being real life. We’re undecided if this is a good thing, or a bad thing. In many ways, it’s a good thing as it ensures that people remember they’re talking to real people. It’s very easy when presented with dating apps to view people as commodities, and meeting them serves as an excellent way to remember the human aspect of it all. However, we’re also aware it’s a risk, as meeting a stranger always will be to some degree. As such, we’re undecided at step 1 whether social media in our love life is a good thing. What comes next, depends on how it went – Step 2, it went well. Step 3…it didn’t.
Step 2- The Success Story
Congratulations, you did it! You survived whatever system you went through, avoided doing “that thing you do”, and made a positive impression on your new significant other. Social media in this sense has worked for you – it’s allowed you to build a feeling of closeness and knowledge of someone in a short space of time, through having multiple constantly connected channels of communication. You’ve liked each other, and now it begins. The next step of managing social media as you progress to the stage of awkwardly fielding questions such as “how did you meet?” is inevitably a challenge (as this dated but relevant article shows). Indeed, you now have more social decisions – do you want to be seen on social media together, will there be a disagreement over what you are as a couple? Your future mother-in-law has added you on Facebook, what do you do now? It can complicate things, but if it brought you together, it can’t be all bad? Right?
Wrong. Because while it’s not a problem if it worked out, if it hasn’t, we’ve got to look at Step 3. And it’s not good reading.
Step 3- The Escape
We did promise this would be Casablanca heavy.
“Of all of the news feeds in all the towns in all the world, her post is on mine”, could well become the next generation’s monologue. When we’re bombarded with more photos and romance related content than ever before, it’s very hard to escape a failed date or relationship that has it’s roots on social media – there’s a message thread, photos you’re both tagged in, tweets and retweets, shares, comments, and likes. The “relationship status” update that everyone liked – the same friends that said “about time!” when you two got together, now say “well done you” for separating. What now? Delete them? Seems a bit harsh doesn’t it? Plus then you’ll lose the post break-up spin war. Leave them there, but don’t talk to them? Now you’re not moving on at all, and have your social media as a virtual box of memories. Take yourself off social media? Exile isn’t the answer.
So what’s the answer?
First off, there are very few in this office who are well-positioned to give first class relationship advice. After all, we focus on making award winning social media software instead of candlelit dinners. We narrowed it down to what we think is a clear and simple three steps, that if you follow, things will work out as best as they possibly can.
Keep it off social media
A final thought…
If you do feel the need to share your romantic dinner for two, just remember – once something’s on the Internet, it’s always on the Internet somewhere. Never, EVER, let it be something you could regret.
Stephen Fry takes to the stage as Bafta host, and in his unique and wonderful fashion, made jokes at the expense of some participants – think Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes, with considerably less controversy. Except, while news outlets perhaps did not pick on Fry to the same extent, on Twitter, criticism that night was rife after a joke was poorly received by a large part of the social network. Fry has, for now at least, deleted his account and labelled Twitter as “A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know”. This got us thinking. We’re a social media company, who couldn’t exist without it. But what about us as individuals? Could we realistically step away from social media in our personal lives? And if so, should we, and would we?
Social media can be a daunting place. High profile figures from Hollywood such as Penelope Cruz have labelled it “frightening and unnatural”, while LeBron James has been named the NBA No.1 Social Media Ambassador – and it’s important to remember that James is as good a businessman as he is a basketball player. For those who take a moment to truly think about what social media entails, it does sound fairly scary – you’re sharing your personal information and data with your friends, but also a company that you may know very little about. Your words and thoughts, if retweeted or shared, can easily go viral overnight and have everyone from the general public, to journalists or the police at your door. Conversely, it can serve as a platform for good – Facebook’s implementation of the Safety Check during a disaster can be a priceless tool for families and friends who are cut off from each other but are worried. It shows, in one small way, that social media is more than just content. And yet, content is what powers social media.
Without enough users inputting data on a regular basis, the news feed runs dry, and the network isn’t used. With this in mind, let’s consider the positives and negatives of you sharing data. On one hand, it can be a brilliant way to keep your network (personal and professional) fully up to date with what’s happening in your life. For everything from job seeking to celebrating important occasions, social media allows people to bridge geographical distance and involve everyone who is remotely important to them. However, while the content you share will reach your friends, there also remains the chance that your data will go beyond your friend circle. Not everyone feels comfortable sharing close and intimate family occasions, and if you’re one of these people, social media may indeed not be the place for you.
There’s also a certain degree of comfort that comes from curating and managing your social media, and indeed, observing that of others. It allows the user to “blank out” parts that they don’t want to share, and project the best version of themselves to the world – even for those who don’t use extensive filters etc, it can be argued that they are presenting the form of themselves they feel is most appealing. Russell Belk famously wrote on the concept of the self, that we purchase and interact with things in order to move us closer to our aspirational self(pictured above), and become the person we want to be. Social media provides a cost effective way to fulfill our ambitions. However, in doing so and showing a wonderful life, it can create feelings of envy or jealousy among the readers of your content. This can make it a difficult balance, whereby your comfort from social media is arguably achieved through creating discomfort for others.
Perhaps, therefore, the conclusion is to engage in social media in a way that is giving. Through sharing, liking, or retweeting content, you get to interact by sharing content relevant to you and “own” a piece of it, while the original poster feels the benefit of having their content appreciated. Of course, this can’t work in practice as content must always come from somewhere. However, it does highlight the importance of truly reading and understanding someone’s social persona – and above all, remembering there’s a real person on the keyboard at the other side. If we remain respectful and understanding of each other’s perspectives online, the same can be achieved offline – to the benefit of all.