engagement

Marketing with Instagram?

taking photo snow

Instagram. Many people’s first impression of it involve cats, coffee, skies, all confined to little squares.

But to the marketer, Instagram is marked by its ability to foster strong brand communities – and well-managed communities grow quickly, too. Indeed, Instagram was found to be the fastest-growing social site globally, according to Techcrunch in early 2014.

But what are the secrets to a well-managed Instagram community?

Inc reviewed some Instagram powerhouses and asked what their strategies were.

One of the more interesting insights is  to be authentic. ‘Authenticity’ is a pertinent advice to almost all social media marketing. Consumers are increasingly cynical of companies and marketing, they shun corporate presence and demand ‘conversations’ with brands.. Authenticity is therefore a good starting point with Instagram marketing.

Another important factor is engaging influencers.  This is not exactly a new idea, according to the ‘diffusion of innovations‘ model (virtually a must-read for academic marketing). Early adopters, if satisfied, can be powerful evangelists for your brand. But gaining their support can be tricky, because they actively engage in social conversations- which means they may not be sparing in their criticisms.

Instagram marketing in Australia?

To achieve authenticity, the marketer is well advised to avoid solely presenting their client’s work. Consumers these days are not impressed by overt ‘marketing campaigns’. They want to be part of a conversation, and consume information that is relatable to their lives.

Thankfully Australia is an incredibly photogenic country. Stunning natural sights, interesting urban scenes, and culturally diverse.

There is never a shortage of interesting visual stories to tell, whether in your town, your city, or events that appeal to your target demographics.

Of course, there are times when you would like to showcase your client’s (or your own) brand. Traditional billboard-style advertisements on Instagram simply will not appeal; you gain a far better chance from presenting your brand in more relatable ways, such as:

* Events;

* Behind the scene quirks;

* Competitions

We have a fledgling Instagram community, showcasing the best of our local community in Sydney. We do hope you join our conversation some time!

(Image: Flickr/MunKuvia)

CIA, and being witty on Twitter

CIA floor 2

CIA made its foray into Twitter on June 7 with this maiden tweet:

Both mainstream and tech media went abuzz, not only at having the US’s top spy agency joining social media, but at what was widely perceived as an attempt to be un-CIA-ly witty. In the ensuring month, CIA continued to surprise and bemuse commentators with tweets that you won’t expect from men in black:

And a shout-out to US goalkeeper Tim Howard ahead of their World Cup clash with Belgium:

And when talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres asked them to follow, they even invoked a celebrity moment:

Not everyone’s impressed. Business Insider Australia thinks CIA is being ‘too cute’ on Twitter. Slate thinks CIA’s experiment has ‘gone downhill fast’.

Horses for Courses

I wouldn’t be so harsh. Sure, CIA is a serious organisation – if its Twitter account is a person, it probably should be impeccably dressed, black tie and sunnies. But the humour is not entirely irrelevant. They attempted to interact with influencers (well, at least Ellen). They addressed questions (pertinent ones such as whether CIA could retrieve your Twitter password). I think the CIA has made an admirable attempt to be human, especially given its profile as a super-serious, secretive organisation.

But will wit work for every organisation?

The better question is, will ‘wit’ help or hinder your attempt to be build authentic relationships on social media?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution (surprise surprise). Which reinforces the need for individual organisations to truly understand its audience, and engage with them in a suitable manner.

(Image: The Telegraph)

Why is Facebook ‘engagement’ important?

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‘Engagement’. A term bandied about sufficiently often in social media marketing and research. But exactly what is it?

There are many ways users can engage with Facebook, some of them include:

* Commenting on a post;

* Liking a photo;

* Sharing a page to friends.

There are almost as many ways that ‘engagement’ can be defined as there are ways to interact with Facebook. The issue is further muddled by the fact that Facebook defines engagement at both ‘post’ and ‘page’ level - that is, users’ interaction with your page’s posts are measured separately from their interaction with your page itself; but those two metrics are interconnected – for instance, a user can like a post on your page, but may also like it through his/her own timeline (without ever accessing your page).

Engagement became even more contentious after a recent study by Simply Measured, showing that Facebook engagement has dropped alarmingly for some of the United States’ biggest brands, some by a staggering 90%. Much of this decrease was due to Facebook’s recent algorithm change, which was said to have lowered brands’ organic reach (that is, reach achieved by fans sharing and liking your contents, rather than through paid promotions).

For social media marketers on low budget who want to maximise organic reach, understanding of ‘engagement’ becomes even more crucial.

Social Media Today provided a handy ‘engagement’ metric:

In simple terms, engagement rate on Facebook can be calculated as the number of “People Talking about this” divided by the total number of likes.

Simply Measured also argued that marketers should encourage more sharing, rather than more liking:

A customer … posted a photo meme that received 123 shares, 419 likes and 6 comments… She posted a link the next day with a photo as a thumbnail (which Facebook now enlarges) and received only 27 shares, and 2 comment threads.

The meme photo with 18 times higher engagement had a Reach of 11,256 – only 1/3rd the amount of the link post, which Reached 26,288 unique users…

Even the solution to the organic reach drop problem varies between analysts. The same Simply Measured article also argued that you should post more often (so your posts get seen by more unique viewers); but another analyst contends that more posting doesn’t reach more unique viewers – a little paid promotion does.

Ultimately, your online media manager have a number of options:

1. Expend budget on paid promotion (to reach unique viewers), or

2. Develop contents that encourage your audience to share (which may involve some good old fashioned consumer insight).

All depends on your goal really – and your bottom line.

(Photo credit: Flickr/InTheRough)

social media clock

When is the best time to post on social media?

‘What time should I post on social media?’

A vexing question for any social media-savvy marketers. Despite its obvious importance, a clear answer remains elusive, mainly because many of those metrics are difficult to define. It had been argued that social media metrics, being a relatively new phenomenon, is not yet matured enough to clearly predict campaign effectiveness. Even one of the seminal metrics – CTR (click-through rate) – was found by Nielsen to be poorly correlated to return-on-investment on marketing budget.

Nevertheless, I’ve managed to dig out a few patterns from previous studies (with several good reviews from Buffer, starting here). Given the uncertainties in metric definition (or if you must, ‘opertionalisation’), these studies must be considered in light of your business’ particular circumstances.

Twitter engagement:

Day: weekdays generate more clicks (Argyle found 14% improvement overall; Dan Zarrella found most optimal clicks between Thursdays and Sundays. Somewhat conflicting results, but late in the week seems the overlap between the two.)

Time: most retweets are received around 5pm; most clicks are received at 12pm and 6pm (found by both Argyle and Dan Zarrella - the latter warned against dinner time tweets where activities drop (6-8pm)). Conversely, in a study involving Bitly link shorteneers, Raka found the best click-through rate is achieved at between 1-3pm on Mondays to Thursdays.

Best mobile usage (181% improvement) is during morning and evening commutes (8am, 2pm, 4-6pm), according to a Twitter study.

Facebook:

Days: Buddy Media found that engagement is best on Thursdays and Fridays (with Sundays somewhat positive), whilst business industry engagement peaks on Wednesday, closely followed by Thursdays.

Time: Buddy Media again found that early morning (6-8am)/ late night (9-11pm) are times when most brands don’t post, which provides opportunity to reach the top of fans’ news feeds,

For blog posts:

* KISS Metrics found that Mondays, and 11am on a particular day, are highest for blog-viewing. However given the lack of cross-tabulation, it is not immediately clear whether Monday 11am IS the best time for blog viewership.

* Dan Zarrella, meanwhile, found that blogs posted at 8pm receive more likes; and those posted at 6pm receive more shares. He also found that weekend blog-posts receive more likes (but unclear on whether shares differ by days).

A caveat on engagement – one of many!

If your goal now is increased engagement, that’s fine, higher likes/ shares will be good enough.

But if you want your business to be profitable, or build real relationships, then does engagement necessarily translate to those objectives?

As I mentioned in the second paragraph, the maturity and agreed framework on social media metrics remain debatable. In other words, do click-throughs necessary mean better ROI? (recall that Neilsen research said no) Do likes generate better brand image? – some of these questions are asked in good-old-fashioned marketing, well-predating social media. But that’s a topic for next time.

(Image credit: PosBisnis.com)