2013’s Social Media Trends

2013 is coming to an end, and Social Media stats from around the Internet are rolling in! Many social sites saw impressive number gains this year, and the statistics make for very valuable marketing tools when planning for 2014. I have gathered what I think are some of the most important facts and put them into an infographic for all of you to reference.

Continue reading

10 Ways to Humanize Your Brand Through Social Media

Many people will Like a brand on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter, simply because they love what the brand has to offer. Some won’t stick around unless the company has valuable messages to deliver. In the end too much repetitive information and not enough humanized content can make community members bolt quickly, so it’s very important that your brand finds a unique voice and keeps it consistent. Not only do you want to stand out but you want your fans to feel like they’re talking to someone they can trust – not a company CEO who can’t relate to them. Here are ten tips for humanizing your brand on Social Media, and some advice on what to avoid.

Continue reading

How to Run a Photo Contest Using Social Media

These days it can be tricky to come up with fresh, new content for your Social Media pages without sounding repetitive or copying other businesses. One of my favorite solutions to this problem is crafting a contest around your business – not only will your fans appreciate the change of pace, but if you throw in some kind of a reward they’ll jump at the chance to participate and create more buzz for your pages!

A simple yet effective contest to run is a photo contest. The idea may sound daunting, but as long as you plan ahead and make efficient use of your various social sharing venues, you won’t fail. To begin coordinating your photo contest, start with choosing a theme. If there’s an upcoming holiday, you can center your contest around that special day and give your audience something to work with. Should you decide to give away a product, gift certificate, or coupon, you can cater the prizes to your theme as well.

Next, you’ll want to decide upon the official rules that they’ll need to follow. Here’s a sample set:

  • Participants must be 18 years or older.
  • Entries must be submitted by March 1st.
  • Entries submitted on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram must be tagged with #EpicPhotoContest.
  • Entries limited to three per person.
  • Any entries displaying offensive or sexual material will not be counted.
  • It is the responsibility of the winning participant(s) to contact us via email by March 10th.

promote-your-blog-contest-though-images-and-bannersOnce you have your theme, prizes, and rules finalized you can start planning all of the media elements of your contest. Consider your Social Media presence and how your pages can be used to leverage this competition. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and Tumblr are all excellent venues on which you can accept your entries, but you’ll need to monitor the pages closely to make sure contestants are not posting inappropriate content. This is especially important for Facebook as they have very strict policies about such violations. On Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr you can supply a certain hash-tag or keyword so that you can easily search for entries. In the sample set of rules above I used #EpicPhotoContest, but this tag can be anything related to your brand. Just make sure that it’s unique so you can easily pick out the entries when you search for the tag. You may also consider asking your contestants to geotag their photos, as this will help you with statistical research and allow more insight into your audience.

It’ll be important to have some graphical images to accompany your contest. Use Photoshop or a free program like Gimp to come up with something simple but eye-catching which includes all of the important information. You can post these graphics on your website and link them to your official rules, and you can also post them on all of your Social Media channels. Because consumers are very visually driven, this will be a great way to catch their eye and draw them in. You can also print off flyers for the contest and pass them out around your town, including information such as your Social Media pages and the proper hash-tag they’ll need to enter.

Once your graphics are made and your contest has begun, don’t be shy about promoting it often! Feature entries as they roll in to encourage other users, and send out a newsletter about the contest. If you partner with similar companies, ask them to make blog post or send out a Tweet directing their fans to your contest, and promise to do the same for them in the future. Once you reach the ending date, make sure you praise your winners on your various Social Media pages so that other users know the contest is over. Such praise will also encourage future entries! Be transparent through the process, providing updates and news on your Social Media pages, and it’ll surely make your brand seem more personable. Remember: the more personable and open you are with your audience, the more they will trust you and want to participate in your online activities!

2012’s Social Media Trends

2012 was a big year for Social Media – we saw some venues flourish, some flounder, and some explode with news distribution. It’s important for us to look at such statistics whether we’re seasoned Internet analysts or average users, so that we can stay on top of these fast-changing sites. Which were stars and what trends stood out the most? Let’s find out!

Statistics

facebookAccording to Huffington Post, in 2012 a staggering 1 million websites integrated Facebook as part of their Social Media stash. Even better for businesses, 80% of Facebook users prefered connecting with their favorite brands through Facebook and 23% of them checked their feeds five or more times a day, widening the door to better communication and more efficient customer service. [source]

twitterHuffpost also saw some interesting numbers for Twitter which marketers should consider. A sizable 56% of Tweets from consumers to businesses were ignored, and while it can be impossible for larger companies to answer every message, it is indicative of how Twitter can fail as a customer service tool with users getting lost in the shuffle.  [source]

google_plusGoogle+ had some good and bad results from 2012, because while websites using that +1 button saw a 350% increase in traffic, a hefty 70% of users want to learn more about Google+ with only 40% actually using it. This tells us that many marketers don’t yet see the value of Google+, or that the sharing site itself isn’t quite user-friendly enough for companies. In terms of average consumption it fared very well; 625,000 people joined Google+ every day and the +1 button is hit 5 million times per day! [source]

instagramInstagram saw booming growth, though they didn’t end 2012 with a bang. Traffic increased by 724% for this popular photo sharing service, and in 2012 an average of 5 million photos were uploaded every 24 hours, with 575 Likes and 81 comments every second. The most popular hash-tags according to Huffpost were #Love, #Instagood, #Me, #TBT, and #Cute, which indicate an overall positive environment for users.  [source]

pinterestInterestingly for Pinterest, 80% of pins were repins which tells us that users spent more time on their feeds than on other sites looking for things to pin to their boards. We also learned that 50% of Pinterest users have children and 80% of them are women, which greatly defines the audience for businesses. Considering 57% of pins are food related, Pinterest would make an excellent tool for companies that are food-driven and speak to young mothers in 2013! [source]

Trends

Looking back at 2012 for Twitter, they’ve packaged their trends and hot topics for us to review. The top two ‘Golden Tweets‘ came from President Obama Tweeting “Four More Years” during the 2012 Presidential Election, and from Justin Bieber Tweeting “RIP Avalanna. i love you” about a six year old fan who passed away from a rare illness. What makes them ‘Golden Tweets’ according to Twitter? They were the most re-tweeted messages of the entire year. The biggest conversations on Twitter, or the ‘Pulse of the Planet‘, were about the Summer Olympics, the Presidential Election, Superstorm Sandy, and much more – generated from the most Tweets, Re-Tweets, and general discussions. Twitter also has a neat set of events that they’ve coined ‘Only on Twitter‘, with unique events such as “Live, from Mars” in which NASA live-tweeted Curiosity’s adventure to Mars, and the London Olympics Live Pool Camera that gave users a rare view of the swimmers from below.

Twitter has also neatly presented their biggest hash-tag trends and categorized them into various topics such as Conversation Starters, Politics, Sports, and TV. In similar categories, their ‘New Voices‘ page lists the most popular newcomers to Twitter from television, sports, film, and more – with convenient Follow buttons for easy one-click connecting. Finally, Twitter partnered with Vizify.com to give you a personal look at your 2012 year on Twitter. Simply visit their site, download the app, log in, and voi la – you’ll receive a “stunning graphical bio that shows the best of you.”

Facebook has a less comprehensive 2012 review, but they still nicely display various categories and topics that trended heavily this past year. Showcasing memes, events, songs, movies, check-ins, books, politics, and more, clicking on a specific topic will show you the Facebook rank for different trends – all very similar to Twitter’s hottest trends. You can also see trends from all over the world, peeking into different cultures and comparing what was most talked about across the globe. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is their built-in ‘Your Year in Review‘ feature that, with one click, will show you your 20 biggest moments based on comments, Likes, photographs, and events. It’s much simpler to access than Twitter’s application, and more visually heavy, which some users prefer. Once you’ve had a look, you can hit the Share button and let all of your friends see what you were up to in 2012.

Googles Zeitgeist 2012 encompasses everything that was searched for using Google for 2012. Hot trending topics and searches were for Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style, Hurricane Sandy, One Direction, iPhone 5, Michael Phelps, the Olympics, and much more. Google, like Twitter and Facebook, neatly packaged these trends into various categories and ranked the most popular topics within. Because venues like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook can be sources of news that often pique interest and send users to search engines for more information, we can use Google as a highly informative window into the most interesting topics of 2012.

Summary

Overall what were the memorable trends across all sharing sites? The Election, the Olympics, Whitney Houston’s death, and Superstorm Sandy were some of 2012’s biggest hitters. It was a year like years past; driven by social and political movements, entertainment shockers and events, sports and world news – though it was unique in Social Media consumption and some sharing sites surprised us when they pulled ahead of the pack. You may wonder why you should pay attention to these trends and statistics when the year is dead and gone. The answer is quite simple – before you can be a Social Media Marketer, you have to be a Social Media lover, so look back at your own trends and the world’s sharing habits from 2012. These are the very patterns that will drive you and your organization through Social Media in 2013!

Instagram’s Latest Folly – Updated TOS has the Internet abuzz in a bad way

Just one week after Instagram and Twitter announced they were severing an important tie, it seems that the photo-sharing app’s maintainers are looking to displease even more users. Yesterday they announced an update to their Terms of Service – which will include more information in January – and has the Internet abuzz with distaste for the service changes. instagram

Now Instagram can share users’ photos with advertisers who can then use those photos and general user data to promote sponsored content. This means that, in theory, you could someday see your Instagram’d photo of a heart-shaped pizza pie on a Valentine’s day advertisement for Pizza Hut and you wouldn’t see a cent, dime, or single pepperoni as payment.

The update states explicitly, “…To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.” This is par for the course when it comes to the TOS of some other sites (like Facebook for example), though the general response from the Internet has been negative. A plethora of former Instagram users  have openly said that they’re leaving the service – which isn’t very pleasant to do if you’ve enjoyed your time Filtering prized snapshots.

Getting rid of your Instagram account requires a few steps, and there’s no way to undo the process or sign back up later on with the same username. If you’re worried about Instagram selling your photos then deactivating your account or removing all of your pictures is the only way to keep them from doing so. Before taking such a drastic step, I recommend backing up your photos with a service like Instaport (which seems to be running slow today due to an influx of traffic) or Copygram and downloading them to your computer. To preserve your username, simply delete your photos one by one and then leave your account vacant, should you want to reinstate it in the future.

Screen shot 2012-12-18 at 1.20.52 PMIf you’re looking for a new service many shutterbug folks are flocking over to Flickr’s improved photo app crafted by Yahoo. It has everything that Instagram does and then some – filters, Social Sharing, geo-tagging, groups, and the ability to search millions of beautiful photos from all over the world. If you’re going to make the switch, this app is currently your best option.

As the dust starts to settle, it will be interesting to see how many people leave Instagram in fear of creative violation. One thing is certain; ever since Facebook purchased Instagram and it became a chess piece in the game of Twitter vs Facebook, things have been on a downward slope for this once glamorized photo sharing tool. Are you leaving it behind?

Update 12/18/12

In response to this backlash, Instagram has released a statement on their blog addressing some of their users’ concerns and redacting changes to their TOS. According to the post, “The language we proposed also raised question about whether your photos can be part of an advertisement. We do not have plans for anything like this and because of that we’re going to remove the language that raised the question. Our main goal is to avoid things like advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience.”

The question remains; are they sincerely undoing the changes or simply back-tracking to save face and keep their users? To me it seems like a combination of both, but we can’t blame Instagram for wanting to fix such a tangled mess that has undoubtedly tarnished their once shiny image.