Tagged: instagram

Helpful Hint of the Day? Sign Up for HootSuite

hootsuite-logo-200x200Just a quick post today about a social media management tool that we’ve found to be extremely helpful for managing the myriad of social media accounts on behalf of clients. The tool is called HootSuite and as far as social media management tools go, we think it’s top dog.

If you’re a small business or even a social media maven that manages multiple personal accounts, this web tool will make your life about a million times easier. With an intuitive dashboard and features like link shortening and post scheduling, it’s the perfect blend of simplicity and power. They also have a GREAT iPhone app that makes managing your social presence on the go even easier.

After you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to link social media accounts that you manage to HootSuite. The simplistic design makes for a very seamless linking process. Just click “Add a Social Network” to get started.

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After you’ve connected a few accounts, use the navigation toolbar on the left to move from feature to feature.

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Clicking on “Streams” will bring up the page that you will see every time you launch HootSuite. This is your main dashboard and where you will manage your accounts.

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The social media accounts that you manage are represented towards the top as tabs. The vertical columns that comprise a majority of the screen are called “Streams”. Essentially, Streams are just dynamic feeds of information from the social media accounts you’re managing, like @mentions, direct messages, news feeds, and more. Selecting “Add Stream” on a particular tab will bring up a small window that lists the types of streams you can add, depending on the type of social media account contained in that tab (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.).

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Once you get a few Streams added for each account, you can begin exploring all of the features HootSuite has to offer. Compose a status update or Tweet for any of your accounts, right from the ever-present “Compose Message…” field towards the top of the dashboard.

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The icons to the right of the input field allow you to attach an image, add your location, or even schedule the message to post at a later time or date. For you Twitter users, you can shorten links from here as well. Using this feature will allow you to track the number of people who have clicked on a particular link in the analytics page of HootSuite – a very useful feature, especially if you’re using HootSuite for business.

I can’t tell you how much easier life has gotten since signing up for this service. Being able to see all of our clients’ social interactions from one dashboard has been invaluable and has cut down our management time significantly. And even though this was just a quick run-through of the basic features HootSuite has to offer, I hope it has enticed you to sign up and start exploring what this powerful tool can do. The basic version is free and will allow you to do everything I mentioned above and more. HootSuite Pro is only $9.99/month and gives you access to pretty much every feature you’d want in a social management tool.

So whether you’re a growing business that’s looking for a way to simply manage your various social media accounts, or just a social media enthusiast that’s tired of logging into 5 different accounts throughout the day to manage your social life, HootSuite’s probably the solution for you. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

Third-party Mobile Ads – Not Exactly a Christmas Miracle

People are in the buying mood. It’s the holiday season and everyone’s looking for the perfect gifts for friends and family members. This is the time of year that advertisers relish. People are just waiting to spend their money and if your product is decent enough, making sales can be like shooting fish in a barrel.

Unfortunately for Facebook, Mashable reports that rather than cashing in on the spending spirit, the social giant announced a halt on testing for their third-party mobile ad network. The ad network focuses on advertising within third-party mobile apps and could be compared to Google’s AdSense – the hope being that Facebook could significantly increase its ad volume without overwhelming its own mobile app users with advertisements.

Facebook – still searching for a way to leverage its more than 1 BILLION users to generate significant profits – is once again experiencing frustration and mild defeat. While still the largest social network in the world, their troubles are steadily becoming just as big.

Still embroiled in yet another privacy kerfuffle, it wouldn’t surprise me if this delay was the last straw and Zuckerberg swapped out his trademark grey hoodie for something even gloomier.

As for us Facebook and mobile app users, I’m not sure if this is a win or a loss. On the one hand, I’m not thrilled about Facebook cramming even more advertisements down my digital throat. But on the other hand, I’m beginning to detest the full-page, poor quality advertisements that keep popping up while I’m trying to get over 500,000 points on Subway Surfer.

“No, I do not want to buy ‘Dessert Maker’, thank you very much.”

So if Facebook develops a better way to display advertisements on mobile and can make them more targeted, I guess I would be open to that change, seeing as mobile advertising is an inevitability.

Either way, Facebook cannot be happy about the last week or so. Plagued by privacy issues and now forced to reallocate resources from their promising new ad platform to address their current Facebook-mobile ad woes, the holiday season seems to be a bit of a let-down for poor Facebook. And seeing as this is the season of giving, I think we should all help out everyone’s favorite social giant by clicking on a Facebook Timeline ad. Perhaps we can’t do anything about their mobile ad issues, but if we can find it in our hearts to spare a click, maybe we can help Scrooge McZuck have a merry Christmas, after-all.

p.s. Happy holidays from SUM :)

Social Media – Let’s Cut to the Chase

WebLet’s face it – what started out as an exciting new platform for engaging potential customers, has become a sometimes shallow, polluted environment of over-sharing and “me, me, me” attitudes. I’m talking, of course, about social media.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think (when used properly) sites like Twitter and Facebook can have a profound effect on startups and small businesses and can allow you to develop relationships with people you would have had a difficult time connecting with several years ago. But the focus has shifted from using these tools in meaningful and effective ways, to merely signing up and running a half-hearted campaign with no real idea of what we’re doing and why. Enough is enough.

Below is a list of some of the most popular social media sites and a rundown of what they are designed to do and what impact they may have on your business.

 

Facebook: Perhaps the king of social sites, it’s hard to overlook Facebook. Having signed up for my profile when Facebook still required a college email address to do so, I’m quite familiar with this behemoth of a social site. In addition to being a good way to communicate with and receive feedback from customers and partners, Facebook has become a standard of legitimacy for most businesses. Are there exceptions? Sure. If you have absolutely no consumer-facing products or services and you work exclusively with one major company or client, then you can probably go without. But everyone else should have a profile for their business.

The cover photo provides an excellent opportunity to show off your branding and the enormous user-base makes it a great choice for large-scale messaging campaigns. But be careful; the sheer volume of users can also make it difficult for you to connect with the RIGHT people and you can end up putting in a lot of time and getting out little value.

Twitter: Twitter can be tricky. It is more about giving than receiving and building a large group of followers can take a lot of time. I try to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of things you tweet about should be adding value (sharing an article or interesting thought) and be related to your core competency. 20% can be slightly personal or humorous. By providing good info, rather than adding to the clutter, you will build loyal followers that are likely to retweet you and actually pay attention to the rare tweets that promote your business.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is made up of professionals from all over the world and is geared towards business networking and professional relationship building. This is not the place to constantly post about your latest product and doing so can irritate your peers and damage your reputation. LinkedIn is more of a “rainy day” social site. It is a virtual rolodex, of sorts, and it creates value by allowing you to stay in touch with and meet new contacts that could be key for your business some day. It’s not about the here and now, but rather about building a solid set of online contacts, facilitating industry discussions, and keeping apprised of relevant topics, as well as being an excellent tool when hiring for your business.

Google+: Google+ is relatively new to the scene, but it has grown quickly. With more than 100 million users, it’s definitely worth considering. Unfortunately, many consider its interface to be confusing and less than aesthetically pleasing. I tend to agree, but I have also discovered some inherent value there that may be worth tapping into. You can use the “Circles” feature to disseminate information to a targeted demographic, rather than blasting the information to all of your followers. Share things that may only be relevant to your local customers with your “Local Circle”. This gets your message to the right eyeballs, easier. Google is also starting to use their “G+” feature to help rank websites on their search pages. Websites with a lot of “plusses” (similar to “Likes” on Facebook) will start to show up higher on search results pages than their competitors. This feature should not be ignored.

Instagram: Instagram is a photo sharing app for Android and iPhone that was recently purchased by Facebook for a cool billion dollars. And with Facebook behind them now, it’s no longer a “hipster-only” affair and it’s worth paying attention to. If you have an exciting office space or do a lot of on-site work where photo opportunities are abundant, Instagram is a great way to show your followers a more personal side to your business.

Pinterest: Pinterest is a photo curating site that has been receiving a lot of press recently. Anyone can sign up and surf millions of pictures, looking for inspiration, a laugh, or just something interesting. Businesses have been signing up by the boat-loads and many are left wondering how to extract value from the site. If you have products that are visually appealing or very consumer-facing, Pinterest can be a good opportunity to get your work out there. But if you do B2B consulting or work mostly in the virtual realm, Pinterest might be a waste of time. Time is the most precious commodity in the startup world, so don’t feel the need to sign up, just because it’s the new, hip thing.

 

To sum it up, social media is a two-edged sword. These sites can be invaluable tools for connecting with customers and promoting your company, but they can also trap you in a time-sucking vortex of updating, posting, and sharing. The key is to choose the right websites for your business, outline specific goals for your social media presence, and post in a way that adds to the whole and elicits interactions.

So spend time thinking about what you want to get out of this experience and what you can offer others. When in doubt, default to a “less is more” mentality and be patient. The old idiom “It is better to give than to receive” should be your mantra every time you log into your accounts. So choose right, manage your time, and above all – have fun!

 

For more info on social media and how it can be customized to help your business, contact info@sumseattle.com and ask us about our social media offering.