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What’s New In Social Media Platforms

New social media platforms are cropping up all the time, attempting to cover what no platform has yet been able to accomplish. The categories range from visual (Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr) to organizational (Twylah, Pixabel) to further privatizing your social media circle (Path). While many are created, not all take off as intended. After wading through the deep pool of new social media platforms, I’ve narrowed down the list to the ones I consider the most promising. Some of these may not necessarily be new to social media veterans, but for someone who’s just beginning to delve into social media and wants to branch out from the usual suspects of Facebook and Twitter, here are some suggestions:

Pinterest

A virtual pinboard or “dream board” that allows you to organize/share photos and articles from the well curated site, as well as from any sites that have enabled “pinning” capabilities. You need a Pinterest invite in order to register, and even then you need either a Facebook or a Twitter account to complete registration. Depending on which one you decide to sign up with (I chose Facebook) it’ll automatically add all of your friends for you, eliminating the potentially time consuming task of finding new friends. It also suggests other people’s boards based on photos that you have found for your own boards. For example, in my case Club Monaco’s boards are worth checking out as not only do they have pins of clothing that represent their style, but also decorating and food ideas – things that I’m interested in. Some independent designers also use their Pinterest to document inspiration for future looks they might create, giving a fan an insider look into their creative process.

Instagram

A photo sharing program that allows you to take a photo, apply one of many digital filters to it, and then share it not only on your Instagram account but also to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, FourSquare and to any e-mail address. It ties in well with the whole retro revival that began in fashion and then moved to more traditional methods of photography such as black and white and coloured polaroid. Now you get the effects of both without spending a cent! I like using it to make my food photos look more appealing. Nothing looks more salivating than a picture of pancakes set aglow with the ‘Rinse’ filter.

Path

A more privatized Facebook-esque app dedicated to your inner circle. You can sign into places (such as FourSquare), post photos with Instagram-like filters, video, what music you’re listening to (with a link to the song itself), a “thought” (not unlike a Facebook status) and the option to let your friends know when you’ve gone to sleep and when you wake up. With all of the options you can also say who you’re with within your circle (except for the asleep/awake feature, thankfully), fuelling the smaller community feel that Path is trying to cultivate. This is a great app to create a culture around your business. Because of its cap on how many people can be added to your account, Path is not so much business oriented, but more for those who are very active on Facebook or Twitter with their company and wish to hold on to some aspect of the two without having to broadcast personal information to potentially hundreds of followers.

Pixable

It helps organize and discover your friends photos on Facebook and Twitter. Want to only see the photos your friends posted without having to scroll through all of their status’ and conversations? This app uploads those photos from last weekend without you having to go through a treasure hunt. It also notifies you when you’ve been tagged in a photo. The website claims that it provides a “tailored experience that learns a user’s preferences and gets better with every visit.” However, unlike many social media outlets, Pixable is only available on Mac products for the time being. Though geared towards more personal use, it could also be used for companies who like to be notified when a customer has tagged their product in a photo, which gives them an idea on the type of audience they’re reaching.

Klout

The app that measures your influence within your social networks. Like Pinterest, you can only sign up with either your Facebook or Twitter account, but you don’t need an invitation. They use data based on your ability to drive action in certain social media outlets to prove that everyone has some degree of power to influence others. Actions include retweets and mentions in Twitter, comments/wall posts/likes on Facebook, comments and reshares on Google+, comments and likes on LinkedIn and tips/to-do’s/done on FourSquare. Facebook pages, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress, Last.fm and Flickr are still in the works. There have been some complaints that the more active someone is on social media, the lower their Klout scores are – so perhaps use it to gain a general idea, rather than taking your score to heart.

Twylah

The ultimate Twitter experience! Feel that your tweets are going unheard? Twylah essentially takes your tweets and makes it into website form so that your readers can see who you are and what you’re about at a glance. Twylah strives to take your tweets and make them in a biographical masterpiece. Commonly used subjects, mentions, videos and photos are all turned into categories. I admit, having browsed Lady Gaga’s Twylah (http://www.twylah.com/ladygaga) it is more visually appealing and interesting to see everything laid out in such an organized way, rather than having to read all of her tweets (not that I do that…). I see this as being a great tool for both businesses and those with a personal brand. This acts as a bridge between their Twitter and website, and is especially helpful if the latter hasn’t been updated in some time since you get all the real time information from Twitter.

Scoop.it

Your own personal online magazine. Like Pinterest, you need an invitation in order to join, but getting one is worth the wait. Branching out from just Facebook and Twitter, you can use LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress and RSS Feeds and more while logged into Scoop.it. I can’t forget to mention that you can also use any number of websites to help curate your content. Think of this as an unlimited Pinterest account that deals more with written content (your “articles”) than pictures, except you aren’t limited to its database or websites that are only Pinterest enabled. You can have any number of topics as well. When saving a post/article on Scoop.it, a dashboard with many options appears. You can change the title, which ‘topic’ you’d like to add your post to, what image will be used to represent it, which social media channel you want to post it to and whether or not you’d like to provide a comment before it’s posted. It also automatically creates a tiny url which is a bonus when using Twitter, given its ever-limiting 140 character limit. Companies or bloggers would find this helpful in sharing relevant articles with their audience. I follow lots of health oriented Twitter and Facebook pages that often share links, and Scoop.it would be a great archive for them, so that a reader wouldn’t have to search through weeks of past posts to find a particular article again.

Tumblr

Surely everyone knows what this is by now. In any case, I like to educate all users of the internet – not just the tech savvy ones. Though the latter came later, I feel that Tumblr is the love child of Pinterest and blog hosts. It’s a fully customizable blogging platform. While traditional blog sites such as WordPress and Blogspot encourage lengthy posts, I’ve found that Tumblr is more multimedia based and any text written is pretty short. You can ‘re-blog’ from other users’ Tumblr accounts as well as upload your own from your phone or computer. Like any other blog, good Tumblr accounts have a consistent theme. I cut all my hair off one year ago thanks to a well curated short hair-dedicated Tumblr (I think I brought at least 20 photos with me to the poor hairdresser). Nowadays, I’m fascinated by a yoga-focused one that posts inspirational photos of seasoned yogis bending themselves into pretzels as well as the author’s personal journey towards that level. Because of the microblogging nature of the site, and the ability to add followers, Tumblr may be best suited for personal use, as it doesn’t have many options for creating sub-categories on the site. While the “archive” that all Tumblr pages have gives it a broad visual selection of posts to chose from, unless something has been tagged (such as “clothing”, “food” or “exercise”) expect to be searching for what you want for hours.

Gentlemint

Essentially, this is Pinterest for manly men. Founders Glen Stansberry and Brian McKinney “wanted to add an old-school, “gentlemanly” feel to the website”. There’s no girly material to be found here. Gentlemint connects to Facebook and Twitter, as well as to Google+. Personally, I found this site to be a little too focused on the battle of the sexes. Pinterest probably didn’t set out to be dominated by women, but it failed to develop a side that catered more to men. As a result, Gentlemint branched out entirely. However, Gentlemint’s clear preference of men seems to make it a little more exclusive than Pinterest, which prides itself on its inclusiveness. Why can’t everybody just get along on one platform? Seems a bit redundant to me. It’s not like the home layout of Pinterest is particularly girly, it’s as gender neutral as it comes compared to the moustached and monocled mascot on Gentlemint. Because of the great similarities between the two, the same ideas would apply in terms of business use for Gentlemint as well, except with the obvious emphasis on more male-oriented material.

Given the over-saturation of new platforms, it can seem daunting and overwhelming when deciding which ones to use. The great thing about all of these platforms is that they’re free, so if you try something out and it doesn’t work for you, then you aren’t out of pocket. Check out each of the sites listed above and see if they can benefit you. You never know, you might just find the missing piece in your social media platform collection

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How To Manage and Monitor Social Media Tools Within Your Busy Schedule

Social media has become extremely popular, making it less of an option and more of a necessity if you have a business or brand. It’s become more important than ever that you maximize the possibilities of social media platforms so that you develop a greater web presence.

Social media are tools of constant communication which help businesses and brands develop relationships with their audience and customers, as well as grab the attention of new ones. With the huge amount of choice for getting the word out in social media it can be a daunting task to figure out what suits your business or brand. Well thought out content as well as a commitment to your community will reap results.

When getting started, there are a few key questions that you have to ask yourself:

  • What do I hope to gain from social media?
  • How will I keep my current audience interested, as well as lure in new followers and fans?
  • And most importantly: how can I fit this into my already busy schedule?

Whether you’re the sole business owner, an employee in a larger company, or even a blogger looking to take your blog to the next level, neither you or your employer want to be consumed by social media all day. In the case of larger companies, this can be unproductive from an ROI standpoint. You need to develop time saving techniques that still enable you to still take full advantage of the networking opportunities that could result in great relationships.

Step 1

Before you can optimize social media’s highest potential for your business or website, you should take some time to do some research into different platforms you could be active on, as well as develop your content strategy. This could take a few hours, or a couple of days. A good tactic is looking at similar brands or ones that you like and use them as inspiration for your strategy. Often you can uncover interesting uses of different platforms that you could recycle for your own use. As you do more research you’ll be able to narrow down your arsenal of social platforms to a manageable number, making their management less time consuming.

Step 2

Once these platforms have been put into use, the next step is to develop content. What’s important to realize is that the more relatable and personable the content is, the more people will stay connected to you. Readers are interested in knowing the personalities behind a brand, so make sure to let them shine through! Variety is the spice of life – video clips, pictures and contests will keep your audience engaged by being able to see you or your product in action.

By creating a set list of content that you know can be easily produced on a regular basis, it takes the guesswork and stress out of planning for future content marketing.

Step 3

As soon as all of the research has been completed, it’s time to put all your hard work into action! It’s important that you remember that social media is an extension of customer service and it should be treated with the same priority. Although the initial stages of setting yourself up on your chosen platforms may still feel daunting, the more you uncover and create content, the more it will become second nature. You will feel in control with monitoring and growing your brand, be able to participate in discussions with confidence, and develop meaningful connections with your audience.

Step 4

Once everything is set up, you should be taking steps to include social media updates into your schedule. Often people take care of social media first thing in the morning, and then monitor the rest of the day. Knowing that this task has already been taken care of first thing allows you to get on with your other work. Alternatively, if the morning idea doesn’t suit you, social media tasks can be done at any point when you take a significant break – lunch or afternoon work as well. Social media shouldn’t make you feel burdened or obligated- it’s part of your job- own it!

You could also create a system of reminders for yourself until you get in the habit. One idea is scheduling activities into your calendar at a specific time. If you’re organized, creating and posting content shouldn’t take very long – if you have time to grab a coffee, you have time to tweet to your audience!

The bottom line is to avoid making it feel like an obligation. Obviously there will be an adjustment period, but overall the experience should be one of seeking out opportunities and developing new relationships, not a chore.

Step-By-Step Guide To Translating Ad Clicks Into Sales For Better Social Media ROI

Online businesses are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to efficiently promote their products. Recently, the newest method has been through various types of social media marketing campaigns. You’ve undoubtedly seen the ads that seem oddly in tune with your interests (you can thank the big data analysts for those – it’s no secret that your personal information on sites like Facebook create ads that are tailored to you) and it’s possible that you’ve been tempted to click on at least one. As a business owner, it’s your job to get potential customers to click on the link and be enticed enough to purchase your product(s) for better ROI. But how can this be achieved? While there’s no fool-proof way to go about it, there are some key things to bear in mind that can help.

Step 1: How to entice

First and foremost, you need to understand your target audience and know what kind of sites they’re likely to visit besides social media ones. While the former are good tools to promote links via status updates and tweets, we live in a visually-oriented world and nothing grabs our attention better than a well designed ad. However, it’s important to research your target audience’s potential browsing behaviour to know where to place these. Having good SEO is important, but the end goal is to reach a person – not a search engine bot. If someone isn’t specifically looking for your product, you need to find ways to make yourself visible. Blogs are a very popular advertising medium, especially if they really promote the kind of culture your business is aiming to achieve.

Anticipating emerging and seasonal trends is also important. Everybody loves a deal and a great way to entice a potential customer is to have an ad that includes seasonal sales. I know very few people that wouldn’t be at least a little intrigued by an end-of-summer sale where everything was 30%-50% off.

This may seem obvious, but it deserves to be said: having proper site hosting and e-mail is your first priority before you even begin to think about promoting your products. It shows that you’re invested in your business. Having only the company name as the website domain rather than having it be attached to another hosting agent will fuel credibility and assure the customer that they’re purchasing from a serious vendor, not an amateur. The same rules apply for e-mail.

Step 2: How to keep them interested

Good design puts function before personal taste. It starts with the ad. While good aesthetic is important, if it distracts from what’s being offered then you’re not achieving the initial objective of generating a like or even a click. When the customer is enticed enough to click on the ad, a well-groomed site must follow. All design elements should promote usability. Eliminate site flow disruption by using high quality graphics that act as a map of the site, are clearly categorized and easily link back to the homepage. The actual product itself shouldn’t be too far down the page if the user is clicking on a direct link, it’s best to entice from the top. I know from experience that the further I’ve had to scroll down a page, the less interested I become and the likelihood of me wanting to purchase product from the site is slim.

Your visitor should be able to reach all of the products on your site in as few clicks as possible. Consider showcasing best-selling or most important products on your homepage. Categorized links should be as clear as possible so that there’s no guesswork, because the more clicks towards a product translates into the consumer’s interest beginning to wane.

While being concise and clear is an important aspect, being able to set yourself apart from the competition will also keep visitors coming to your site. When you research your target audience’s behaviour, also educate yourself on the competition so that you’re one step ahead. You don’t need to compromise the clear cut messages you’ve already laid out in order to convince users that they should purchase from you – just use the same concept to explain how your product would benefit them. Will your product make them healthier? Richer? More fashionable? Here’s your chance to stand out. Benefit-driven and relevant sales pitches are the quickest and most effective way to engage visitors new and old. Listing product details as well as warranties will also help educate your visitor. I don’t consider this to be part of your initial message, but it’s a second step that’ll help solidify a visitor’s decision to purchase.

A sure fire way to progress to a sale is by offering special promotions; sales, reduced/free shipping, coupons or two for one deals. All of these are excellent ways to not only ensure a sale but also potentially get the user to spend more. I’m guilty of going a little crazy on a regular basis on sites such as Beyond the Rack, who not only show you how much you’re saving on a regularly priced item (often designer) but also frequently offer discounted shipping and store credit, with the amount increasing depending on how much is spent before checkout.

Step 3: Making the sale

While visitors might like what they see, before they commit to purchasing they’ll want assurance that they’re buying from a reputable source. Testimonials eliminate any remaining doubts or concerns, but some visitors might view yours as suspect since they can easily be forged on the web. Be sure to include full names, titles, business information and/or personal websites to establish credibility in the testimonials listed on your site.

The next step is to be sure that any questions consumers may have can be answered promptly and effectively – be an expert on your products. Providing things like an FAQ, articles and possibly downloads that pertain to your product will further build trust within the visitor. Never ever make up information if a question is posed to you and you don’t immediately know the answer. In this case either find out quickly or respond immediately with a courtesy e-mail stating that you appreciate the question and that you will respond soon with an answer. This will further build trust in the visitor who might not only become a return customer, but might be so impressed with your professional attitude in covering all the bases that they recommend you to their friends.

Of course your visitors will be curious about you, and having an ‘About Me’ section on your site will help them to understand the person behind the business. This will reveal to them who you are, but make sure not to over share. Visitors are curious about your inspiration, education and what your overall mission is, not how many cats you have. In addition, make sure you have multiple methods of contact, anything from e-mail to social media pages works. You want to ensure that your customers are clear on how to get in touch with you.

Last but not least, when the visitor has made the commitment to purchase from you, ensure that you’ve provided as many payment options as possible – particularly those that aren’t yet being offered by your competitors.

Step 4: Looking to the future

After hopefully seeing through a slew of successful sales, you should consider investing in metrics and analytics to properly identify which time/promotional periods were most successful and why. Keeping tabs on your business as well as keeping a watchful eye on your target audience will keep your site and products fresh in the buyer’s mind.

Converting clicks and likes into sales should follow the KISSprinciple – Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t overcomplicate matters with fancy graphics and lengthy explanations. Stick to key points that’ll help to speed up the visitor’s decision and make everything helpful, from your website to your online store. Above all, be the most reliable source you possibly can as a business owner. In time, you’ll become known for your reputation and not just your ads, inevitably leading to exponential sales growth.

What Exactly Is Big Data and Why Should I Pay Attention To It?

So, what exactly is big data? How is it unlike ordinary data? The answer is all in the name – it’s really, really big. In the Mad Men days, an advertiser could send out nationwide surveys, scrutinize TV ratings, or cram a focus group full of 35-45 year-old moms with a preference for chocolate ice cream into a room. Nowadays, the world is your focus group.

That’s because technology has snuck its way into nearly every moment of our lives. And everywhere that there’s technology, there’s data. From websites to tablets to smartphone apps, consumers are generating mind-boggling amounts of information about themselves and their habits to marketers and advertisers.

You spent 3.2 minutes on haagandazs.com this morning?

We know.
You tweeted about how you can’t wait to scarf some ice cream tonight?
So did 1,672 women this week.

As marketers, this means we’re sailing through oceans of data that Mr. Draper could never have dreamed of. We can literally eavesdrop on our customers’ social media conversations. We know where they’re spending their time, which types of ads they’re clicking on, and which ice cream brand they Google the most.

 That being said, many strategists and analysts find the sheer quantity of readily available data overwhelming. That’s why big data is typically broken down into four V’s for measurement:

• Volume
• Velocity
• Variety
• Variability

Volume is the amount of data being produced – in other words, how much information we have about ice cream. Processing and mining that volume is the first step to getting meaningful data that can be analyzed. And with the constant hum of social media, big data is always getting, well, bigger.

Velocity is a consequence of two factors: how quickly new data is being created, and how quickly the new data is integrated into existing models. That’s how often people talk about ice cream, and how quickly we will learn when chocolate unseats vanilla as the most popular flavor. “Stale” data can hurt your marketing – sometimes no information is better than bad information – so you’ll need to know how quickly data in your category is evolving.

Variety is what makes big data so immense. It’s asking “how many different ways can we learn about ice cream?” There are clickthrough rates, Facebook likes, Google searches, Foursquare check-ins at ice cream parlors, and countless other potential metrics. The more you’ve got the better – as long as it’s relevant.

Variability is usually considered the most important pillar in big data. If there was just one variable, volume would take precedence. Because there are so many characteristics that come together in social media, this can make for some exciting strategies once analysis is completed. For example, in retail, when a client’s information is combined with social graph data, it may identify key influencers within the retailer’s community. These people can then be contacted to participate in promotions and launches.

Even despite knowing the four Vs inside and out, you might be tempted to leap into the huge pool of data at your disposal before you really look at it. Take time to digest, strategize, and analyze. Remember that big data is constantly evolving with new analytics, new conversations, and new destinations emerging daily. The world is talking – now you’ve got to learn how to listen.

Top 3 Pinterest Faux Pas Social Media Marketers Should Avoid

With any social media platform, proper “Internetiquette” has to be exercised in order to maintain an engaging environment for all to enjoy. There will always be users that disregard the unspoken rules entirely, marring the experience for others. We’ve all seen flame wars on Facebook and Twitter, yet Pinterest is no exception. Though harder to troll than traditional social media websites, there are some key faux-pas to watch out for. Here are three of the worst offences that you can make, whether you’re using Pinterest for your personal pleasure or as a business-savvy social media marketer.

1. Promoting only your product and/or service

If you’re a designer of any kind, it can be awfully tempting to solely promote and advertise your own products and/or services. While this is an effective approach to quickly and affordably reach a large number of consumers, do this in moderation or you risk coming across as too commercial. The point of Pinterest is to share material from a wide variety of sources. If your boards are strictly focused on your brand, you can alienate visitors with your apparent vanity. You give visitors insight into what inspires you by pinning material from other boards, giving your boards more interest and depth.

Aside from shameless self promotion, the next big promotion faux-pas is using paid-for-pins that are selling subscriptions or e-books. This kind of pinning is not beneficial to you and is typically seen as spam by other pinners, making your chances of receiving a re-pin close to none. In addition, the images for these links are usually unappealing – which lowers the quality of the site overall. While these types of pins may seem appealing to social media marketers as a medium to launch a campaign, steer clear of using Pinterest as a tool in your social marketing campaign. The purpose of the site is to pin inspiring images relative to your brand or personal tastes, not generate direct ROI.

2. Photos with dead ends and improper credits

Pinterest is made possible thanks to users taking the time to carefully curate images and give proper credit to the main source. However, as these images become re-pinned over and over again, the motivation to acknowledge the original source or photographer falls to the wayside. Users can find themselves in hot water if the person responsible for the photos demands credit when none has been given. This can be avoided if you simply take the time to find the original source or photographer of the image and also provide a link to a site, if possible.

Speaking of links, there’s nothing more aggravating than finding a photo of a delicious-looking baked good but no link to the recipe! Do the recipe creator and all ravenous Pinterest bakers a favour and include the link. Hell hath no furry like an unfulfilled chocolate craving.

3. Not Pinning Selectively

Now that you’ve realized how counterproductive it can be to shamelessly self-promote your own material all the time, this doesn’t give you the license to pin every photo you come across. Exercise selectivity to maintain the quality of your boards. Ask yourself why you want to pin this image and how it’ll affect the curation of your board, as well as your overall image. Don’t confuse your followers by pinning random things.

It’s important to note that constantly pinning will scare away followers. By spreading out your pins, you decrease the risk of overwhelming your followers by coming across as a spammer. Less is sometimes more.


 

To sum up, it’s easy to keep Pinterest a positive and encouraging atmosphere by having the decency to adhere to sharing content that isn’t just your own, giving credit where credit is due and not going pin-crazy. This will help in maintaining Pinterest’s reputation as a well-curated image archive and successful social marketing tool, as well as attracting followers and re-pinners to your boards.

Instagram vs. Pinterest – Which Is Better For Your Brand?

As someone who uses Instagram and Pinterest on an almost daily basis, I’m well aware of the benefits they can have on brands. I really get a kick from peeking into the “behind the scenes” photos taken by my favourite celebrities and bloggers, as well as the inspiration from the design brands who use Pinterest as a public thought process for their own ideas.

Social interaction has been given a whole new meaning – connecting with fans has become increasingly personal as brands move beyond text and links towards enticing visuals. Given how easy it is to share photos online with your friends, brands are using this approach to reach their audiences faster and to extend their number of followers. In turn, platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram prove to be useful in kicking off social media campaigns and have slowly become a part of most brands’ social media marketing strategies.

Both have very useful aspects in connecting fans new and old but that doesn’t mean the two are necessary. More isn’t always better, so you have to decide which platform is more desirable to your brand – Instagram or Pinterest?

Instagram

Inspired by vintage photography effects, the idea is to share your photos with friends in a unique and artistic way. Photos taken in the morning can have the ‘Rise’ or ‘Amaro’ filter to give them a soft glow, while ‘Lo-Fi’ and ‘Brannan’ cast a harsher dark light that might work better for nighttime photos. In any case the narrative lies in how you choose to express the image, rather than the description. Celebrities can easily take snapshots to document aspects of their life that they wish to share with their fans, allowing you to see a person beyond their red carpet worthy appearance. This very personal interaction is a positive step away from the glossy gossip magazines, allowing the celebrity to be seen as a real tangible human being, and not just an easy target for criticism.

In the fashion world, brands such as Burberry use Instagram to showcase photo shoots, new products, celebrities wearing their designs and street style – making their reach very wide. Anyone from a keen amateur photographer, blogger, or even Hollywood celebrity would find something interesting in a fashion label’s Instagram account. Fashion brands can also use it to promote a lifestyle; Lululemon snaps photos of their clothes in action, usually in complicated yoga poses.

Instagram photos can also be used to generate buzz around a news report from sites such as NPR and The National Post. Food experts like Jamie Oliver and Richie Nakano have accounts to inspire you to make one of their delectable meals, as well as help you find inspiration outside of the kitchen. Expect lots of photos of their family and time spent with them outside. You won’t see an overwhelming amount of kitchen photos, as these celebrities want to give a glimpse into their life beyond their profession. Other food brands such as Starbucks use Instagram to promote new products as well as old favourites, and places their drinks in real life settings – iced tea on a patio by the beach is taken to encourage viewers to recreate the scene for themselves.

Are you a budding photographer? Consider Instagram as the perfect marketing platform for your work. You can choose not to use a filter on your photos, or use one to enhance a certain aspect, enticing viewers to check out your site.

Like Twitter, you can also use hashtags in Instagram to easily search for a specific person, event, or promotion, so don’t think that all users are either individually or company based. Expect to find unique shots from events such as The Grammys and Cirque du Soleil, which give the venue and the occasion a fresh look.

Variety adds interest to your account, so don’t be monotonous and only put out one single kind of photo – really give a sense of who you and your brand are. At the same time, don’t take photos of everything. This diminishes quality and people won’t be interested in your photos. Be selective.

Pinterest

Unlike Instagram, Pinterest is not geared towards personal photos, but rather is used to build a culture around a brand. Pinterest is essentially a dream board comprised of photos curated by other Pinterest users. If you see a photo that you like, you can “pin” it and place it in one of your “boards.” These “boards” can be organized into as many categories as you’d like (e.g.: food, fashion, beauty, etc), making it very customizable in how your interests are reflected. Instagram, on the other hand, is one large page of photos with no way to organize them beyond the newest image being placed first and the others following chronologically. Not only can you organize your Pinterest page however you’d like, but the act of ‘pinning’ something allows your brand to showcase content in front of a wide audience.

There appears to be a lot of focus on design, decoration, beauty and party planning on Pinterest. Retailers would find this useful as users would find inspiration in the retailers’ pinned images, as well as some of their own products and services that they wished to advertise. Your followers will begin to fill their boards and realize that it’s time to, for example, act on re-decorating their bedroom, making them more likely to purchase from your site. Retailers might even find it useful to team up with other online sites and magazines that are known for their high quality photography and content, doubling their social media reach. Martha Stewart (the brand), Shape and The Kitchen are all sites that are visited by Pinterest users, and Martha herself has her own active Pinterest account with boards showcasing some “good things.” A lot of sites and blogs now have the ability for you to pin an article or photo directly to one of your Boards, without having to go through the added trouble of creating a pin from scratch.

Though the comments are not as relevant as the photo, a pin’s description has a maximum of 500 characters, making it easy to create a comment that can lead back to a brand’s site, a full recipe write out, product description, etc. Most interestingly, Pinterest can also be used as a focus group. By following your fans you can “listen” to what they’re saying through their Pins and Boards.

As tempting as it is to only post your own content and services, branch out and show your audience what inspires YOU. Additionally, if Pinterest does catch on that you’re using it as a platform to solely toot your brand’s horn, you risk getting removed.

Comparing the two

While both platforms have their merits, there are some key things to take into consideration. Peer to peer connection on Instagram is stronger than on Pinterest, as the content pertains only to the user and has the flexibility to either focus on the user only, a product/service, or a combination of both. Pinterest prefers a healthy combination of the two.

Your reach on Pinterest might be a bit greater than that of Instagram with Pinterest’s ever-expanding archive of photos and fast repinning capability. Your account has the potential to reach further, especially since there’s a higher likelihood of having one of your photos crop up on a follower’s page, then their follower’s and the follower’s after that. Your reach will emulate that of a web; first touch does not matter here.

Both platforms have various degrees of customization as well. Pinterest has its boards and Instagram has its filters. Instagram filters have more of a personal touch, since it becomes an expression of how you wish the photo to be perceived by your fans. The touch is more personal and takes a bit more thought and time than re-pinning photo after photo.

Depending on your brand intention, you’ll find at least one of these platforms useful to your brand. My favourite is when users such as local designers successfully use both Instagram and Pinterest to allow me to see into their professional life as well as their personal life. Pinterest fuels my creativity while Instagram allows me to get a more tangible feel about a person. Think about what is most important to your brand – do you want someone to understand your creative process, or just see photos of your products?

Hashtag Tips and Twitter Faux Pas For Businesses

Using hashtags on Twitter is a great way to search for a particular topic, social media marketing campaign or conversation. If you don’t know what a hashtag is, it’s a number sign followed by a certain word (or short phrase) and its purpose is to help users find content quickly and effectively. The Twitterverse is overflowing with information and with the amount of tweets being published every second, it can become overwhelming to keep up with what happened only fifteen minutes ago. Using hashtags can make you stand out and help your content be found by a wider audience, as they’ll easily be led to your profile while conducting their topic searches. Hashtags can help you stand out from the crowd, especially if you’ve made up a unique one for business purposes.

But Where Do You Start In The Vast Twitterverse?

If you’re new to how hashtags work, the best first approach should be to monitor and analyze what’s already happening in the Twitter world. Start by following business communities that either interest you or relate to your own business and find out what they’re talking about. How are they using hashtags? How much activity (mentions, retweets, favorites) are they generating? What are your goals and how can you implement the knowledge that you’ve gained from these competitors?

A Successful Hashtag Is Identified By How Catchy, Concise, Clear And Relatable It Is

Some hashtags can be time sensitive, especially if they revolve around a certain event such as the Oscars. Older hashtags are never deleted by Twitter, so they can be easily accessible to anyone that’s interested in finding them. Whether you’re a brand or an agency, you can learn invaluable lessons from past and present hashtags and apply them to what you’re working on – whether you have a campaign that requires user participation or just want to promote your product or service in a creative format. These lessons can include learning the appropriate length of both a tweet and a hashtag, what kind of buzzwords were used and which content to promote. For the latter, ask yourself – what’s the focus of the message you’re trying to convey? Are you supposed to document an experience or photo relating back to a product? Is it a campaign that links back to a landing page? Figure out what others have focused on so you, too, can be considered interesting and innovative enough to garner a re-tweet from your followers.

A recent campaign that made a huge impact on Twitter was the one generated by the #BullyMovie hashtag. This campaign had a dual purpose – to raise awareness about bullying within schools (an increasingly distressing problem) as well as promote the upcoming documentary, which the hashtag was named after. After the documentary’s rating was changed to R by the Motion Picture Association of America due to strong language, outrage began spreading across Twitter. An appeal had been made against the rating, but was denied – which meant that the opportunity to show the film to middle and high school students, its target audience, wouldn’t be possible. Unwilling to accept the rating, the film’s creator, Lee Hirsch, seventeen year-old high school student/activist Katy Butler and The Weinstein Company Senior V.P. of Marketing, Bladimiar Normand, teamed up to create a Twitter campaign that would mimic the effect that Hirsch hoped the film would have. The outcome was hugely successful, resulting in the film being left unrated. Normand did extensive research in how to cultivate a Twitter hashtag trending campaign, proving that doing your homework can truly pay off in the long run. Find out more about #BullyMovie here (http://mashable.com/2012/04/11/bully-twitter-campaign/).

Hashtags Perform Wonderfully As A Networking Tool

It’s always a good idea to begin tweet chats with other likeminded individuals and businesses. Not only will you create more connections for yourself but you may also find that you’ll gain insight and advice pertaining to your field from the users you interact with. A popular way to promote and compliment other businesses is by mentioning them in a Follow Friday tweet. Many casual users use Follow Friday (#FF) to help their friends get more followers but often have a slightly ulterior motive. Follow Friday is kind of like flirting via the Internet – you want to share inspiring people and businesses’ profiles with your followers, but you also want those inspiring people and businesses to notice you back.

There are two formats for a #FF post. Establish a theme (social media, cooking, cats, etc.) and compile a list of businesses/people that fit within those parameters. Begin your post with #FF and list as many accounts that the limited character count will allow. Relevancy is key – you can’t just pick a bunch of random accounts for no reason. They don’t all have to relate to your product or service either. If you’re working with a campaign about shoes, for example, feel free to create an #FF mentioning top brands that you support. The other way to #FF is to choose a couple of accounts (again with a common theme between them) and create a personalized tweet to accompany it. Bat your Twitter eyelashes again and compliment those you’ve chosen about their recent achievements, overall quality, etc.

Twitter Faux Pas

Other than hashtags that #dragonforeverandever, the biggest Twitter faux pas is to #hashtag #every #word #in #your #tweet. It’s easy to adopt the “more is more” attitude when you see an increase in attention towards your tweets due to the hashtags you’ve inserted in them However, hashtagging frenzies are interpreted as spam and an attention-seeking gimmick.. Very few people will be inclined to follow you if the majority of your tweets are 90% hashtag, 10% content.

Now that you have a better idea of how to navigate the wonderful world of hashtags, go forth and further your education! Here are a few hashtags that we, at Source Metrics, follow avidly:

#smm (Social Media Marketing)
#SmallBiz (Promotions and discussions pertaining to small businesses)
#cm (Community Manager)
#mmchat (Tweetchat that occurs every Monday, at 8pm EST, with leading experts from successful firms in the marketing and social media industries)
#Blogchat (Run by SEO and social media expert, Mack Collier. He leads discussions and q+a’s about the industry)
#SMManner (A networking hashtag that encourages a high level of etiquette – be courteous, stay on topic and blog links only when relevant to the discussion)
#smmeasure (A chat dedicated to social media measurement and analytics)
#BrandChat (Hosted every Wednesday, at 8am PST, this chat solely focuses on how to build your brand)

Using hashtags as a search tool (you’ll be surprised what people come up with) will open up a world of information that can also expand your own world of connections. You may even have the opportunity to take the connections you’ve made outside of the office. “Tweetups” are in person events similar to networking functions, but are organized through Twitter. These give you the opportunity to put a face to the Twitter handle, which can lead to many more fruitful experiences.