Posts in Social Media
How to Get Your Audience to Hear You When They're Not Listening

Sometimes it feels like you’re talking and talking and no one is listening (please tell me that I’m not the only one!). You spend so much time and energy planning amazing video content to use in blogs, on your Facebook profile, and in your advertisements. You record, rerecord. and probably rerecord again, until it’s perfect (or as perfect as it’s going to get). You upload, hit publish and… it feels like you’re talking to a brick wall.

Here’s the deal though. You’re audience isn’t listening to you. And chance are they probably aren’t going to 90% of the time. So how can you get them to hear what you have to say?

This week’s video has the answer to that question, and trust me, it’s WAY easier than you think!

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Creating Instagram Worthy Images From Your Phone

Do you have Instagram jealousy?

We've all been there. You're scrolling through your Instagram feed and you come acress that account that always seems to have those gorgeous images. Their images look sharp, clean and attention grabbing. Their profile looks cohesive and they seem to have "it" - that thing that sets them apart from your blurry, dark iPhone shots.

Now, while I'm no photographer, I can point you towards one that has some amazing tips on how to take to better shots (and bonus, the advice does not involve a very expensive camera!). 

But, what I can help you with, is how to better edit those photos after you've taken them. While Instagram filters are the OG (don't get me wrong, I love a good filter), there is actually a better way to do it.

Check out the video below to learn more about my favorite way to create Instagram worthy photos, and get my step-by-step walkthrough of exactly how to do it.

Want even more marketing hacks? Make sure you follow me on Instagram and IGTV! Every Tuesday a new one is posted!

Do You IGTV?

In case you haven't heard, last week Instagram announced it's brand new app, IGTV (short for Instagram Television). What is it? It's a stand alone app (yes you have to download it from the App Store.) that allows users to create long form videos that can range anywhere from 15 seconds to 1 hour. 

That's right! You're not limited to the 15 second snippets inside Instagram Stories, or the 60 seconds on your feed any more! It allows creators to make vertical form videos (think no more having to rotate your phone sideways to watch videos) that tell longer stories, showcase their talents or business, and save those memories to their channel for people to continue going back to (long after your Instagram Story has expired). 

So, how can a business, like yours, utilize IGTV? Let's talk about what you can use it for.

1. Welcome/About Videos - Need some more space to talk about you and your business? In IGTV you can create long form videos that showcase your products/services, walk a potential client or customer through what they can expect if they work with you, or give a full view of what a day in the life is like for your business.

2. Training Videos - Facebook (and particularly Facebook Live) has been notorious for capturing the "training" video market. Now, educators have another platform to give step-by-steps, offer tips and tricks, and give insider advice.

3. Dive deeper into products - Create showcases around physical products and really get a chance to showcase all the in's and out's. Walk potential customers through membership sites or courses, giving them an inside view of what they're about to purchase.

I know it can be daunting to take on ANOTHER social media platform, but look at this one as an extension of what you're already doing. Video, and digital TV, is the way people are continuing to consume more and more information, and jumping on this trend early can put you ahead of the crowd.

Ms. Digital Diva: How to Take Advantage of Live Streaming for Your Small Business

Today, Hub Digital is super excited to have Ms. Digital Diva (aka Sara), a tech and digital blogger, join the blog and breaking down live streaming. Check out some of her great advice on how you can successfully utilize live streaming to promote your business, and then head on over to her blog, Ms. Digital Diva, for even more great information!

There’s a charming women’s clothing boutique a few blocks from my home that’s become a huge hit since moving into the neighborhood, and one thing that’s helped their business bloom is the owner’s social media expertise. On top of the basic social media presence, she also makes great use of Facebook’s live stream feature. On more than one occasion, I myself have gone into her store and picked something up after seeing it in one of her live videos.

If you’re intimidated by live streaming, don’t be! It’s not complicated, and with a little bit of practice you’ll have the hang of it in no time. Below you’ll find a few tips to help you get started.

Choose a Platform

Before doing anything else, you’ll have to choose the platform from which you’re going to live stream. The best platforms that don’t require an additional app to do this are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Facebook and YouTube can be accessed from mobile and desktop, but Instagram can only be viewed on mobile devices. Live streams on Facebook and YouTube are converted to regular video and remain on the app after you’re done recording, but Instagram live videos disappear forever afterward. For these reasons, and because you likely already have a Facebook page set up for your business, Facebook Live is probably your best bet. 

Test in Private Mode

Prior to launching your first live video, start with some test videos (you can change your privacy settings on Facebook so only you can view them) to check your lighting and sound and practice setting up your recording device on a stable surface. If you’re planning on filming vertically, make sure the platform you’re recording on won’t format your video with two black bars on either side of the video. If it does, try recording horizontally instead. Don’t feel like you need to make this look like a professional production; your goal should actually be the opposite. You want to appear as authentic and genuine as possible while avoiding glaring errors. 

Before you broadcast, send an invitation to your customers via email, your website, and/or your social media networks, and include a caption on your video describing what you’re doing.

Choose your content!

Now for the most important part: content! There are endless possibilities to the routes you could take with your videos. The boutique I mentioned earlier likes to make live videos as soon as they get new merchandise to show it off, sometimes letting their employees model the clothing, and they also pop on to announce when they’re having a sale. 

You could consider doing something similar if it would transfer well to your company. Otherwise, you could give viewers a tour of your workplace, make a live tutorial on how to use your products, hold a prize drawing, interview one of your employees, or just allow your customers a peek into the inner workings of your business. Be creative and brainstorm what your customers might like to see. 

Be personable, introduce yourself, answer and ask questions, engage in any conversation happening in the comments, and include a call to action before ending the broadcast. You want to shoot for at least 10 minutes, but try not to go any longer than about an hour. 

Once you’ve stopped recording, analyze your results. If you find them to be unsatisfactory, try broadcasting on a different day or at a different time or adjusting other factors like video length or including other people on camera with you. 

Live streaming is a great free way to connect with your customers and personify your business. Don’t let it go to waste!

The Money Making Social Media Platform You're Missing Out On

What money making social media platform are you most likely missing out on? HINT: It's NOT Facebook!

Local businesses especially, are missing out on one of the most influential, cost effective and money driving platforms out there. What is that platform? Pinterest! Now, before you shut it down, hear me out. In this recent Facebook Live I broke down WHY Pinterest is for you, no matter what your industry is. 

Some Stats About Pinterest:

Pinterest Demographics:

  1. Pinterest has 175 million monthly active users
  2. 2 Million Pinterest users save pins daily
  3. 81% of Pinterest users are Females
  4. Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram
  5. Median age of Pinterest user is 40
  6. Half on Pinterest users HHI is $50K or greater
  7. 10% of Pinterest users HHI is $125K or greater

Pinterest Facts:

  1. 87% of Pinners have purchases a product because of Pinterest
  2. 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline
  3. 93% of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases
  4. More than 14 million articles are pinned each day
The "Emily Post" Guide to LinkedIn Etiquette
 Learn how to optimize your LinkedIn profile for maximum networking.

Ok, so this is more the ‘Tuni Schartner’ guide to LinkedIn etiquette, and anyone that knows me is probably getting a chuckle right about now as I tend to tell it like it is and I’ve been known to be honest to a fault!  I’m not, necessarily, who you would think of in an Emily Post reference. But, when it comes to LinkedIn I think I have a pretty decent grasp on best practices around ‘how to behave appropriately’.   I’m, at my core, a relationship marketer – I enjoy meeting and getting to know people and I’m a natural connector and facilitator of putting together mutually beneficial relationships.

We should start with the very simple basic facts:

  1. LinkedIn is a platform designed for professionals to engage, it is not a ‘social’ site like Facebook or a dating site (more on that later!).
  2. Professionals are people.  When it comes to sharing your professional information on LI, remember that even the top CEOs (or whoever you’re trying to connect with) are people so information should be created and delivered in a way that the ‘people’ on the other end hopefully find interesting, become engaged and might even convert into clients/customers or great referral sources.
  3. LinkedIn is a GREAT way to connect with and build your audience! 

A great quote from the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman:

"LinkedIn is a closed network, and for a very simple reason: For the network to have value as an introduction tool, the connections need to have meaning. It's up to you to vet each and every request so that if someone comes to you and says, 'Would you introduce me?' you're in a position to evaluate whether the connection would be of mutual benefit."

*Quote taken from the book, ‘Never Eat Alone’ by KeithFerrazzi. 

Hoffman’s quote really hits the nail on the head.  Why are you here?  LinkedIn can be a highly effective tool in your toolbox for creating connections then building trust with those connections that turn into mutually beneficial relationships.  

I often recommend to our clients, our Hive coworking members, and at workshops I lead on the topic of ‘Painless Networking Tips to Grow Your Business’ that when an authentic connection is made, say at a business networking event or through a warm introduction, etc…you then send a connection request on LinkedIn with a personalized note – as well as follow them on their other appropriate platforms ‘appropriate’ being the operative word here as their personal Facebook page wouldn’t make sense if this is strictly a professional connection.  In the case that a connection is made at a networking, business or even personal event and it appears that this might be a mutually beneficial connection, I recommend you follow up immediately with a personal email (or phone call or both) then go to LinkedIn and send that connection request and note.  If you find someone on LinkedIn that you’d like to be connected with – for different reasons such as, he/she is a colleague of a friend or client, someone you’ve met in the past through business or even an old schoolmate that you found on LinkedIn that makes sense (again in a professional and respectful way) to connect with , a new client (individual and team members),  and so on, use the same basic practice of sending a connection request with a personal note explaining why you’d like to connect.

Ok, now back to that reference to LinkedIn NOT being a dating site…don’t ever ask someone to ‘hang out’ or in any other way ‘hit on’ someone on this platform – it’s creepy folks, this is a professional platform.  Sorry, this literally just happened to me and as I was planning on writing this week’s Hub Digital blog on this topic…couldn’t resist and had to add this ‘what not to do’ tip!

Another what NOT to do tip, and this one is HUGE, don’t send someone a connection request and as soon as they accept it send them a super cheesy straight up sales pitch.  ‘I love it when people do this’ SAID NO ONE EVER!!!  

Overview: LinkedIn is a great resource and tool.  Use it to highlight your unique value proposition, differentiator, expertise and unique personality in a professional and respectful way that would make both Emily Post and I proud!  Grow your network, grow your business through solid relationships and the mutually beneficial sharing of information and connectivity!  

Budgeting for Advertising - How Much Should You Spend?
 How much you should budget to spend on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and GoogleAdwaords.

Whenever we bring up the topic of digital advertising we always get the same question, over and over again. How much does it cost? This is a tough one to answer. Knowing how much to spend on your digital advertising is really dependent upon your business, time of year, and frankly, what you have to spend. The great thing about digital? Even the smallest budgets can succeed online, which is especially helpful for small businesses that are priced out of the more traditional options, like newspaper and TV.  We've pulled together some basic guidelines on what you should be prepared to spend if you really want to start seeing your online ads make a difference for you. Again, remember these are just general guidelines and should be adjusted to fit what you find works best for your individual business (testing is always important).

Facebook
The big kahuna. The main one. The platform everyone wants to be on. With an estimated 33.76 BILLION (that's right, billion with a "B") expected to be spent on Facebook ads in 2017, both local and national advertisers alike know that this is the place to be. However, with so many options available it can be hard to know exactly what you should be spending on each of the different types of campaigns.

  • Like Campaigns - While guaranteed to get you likes, it can be a little hard to know if the people liking your page are truly interested in your business. Keep these budgets small, starting around $50 for a 3 or 4 day run. See how they perform and go through the list of who liked your page to see if any seem "off" or "spammy". Then wait a few weeks to see if engagement has gone up or these new likes are paying off.

Total Spent Per Campaign: $50, Expected Cost Per Like: $1

  • Boosted Post - Again, jury is out on whether these are effective or not so keep the boosted posts to only those things that are truly important. Limited your boosting to your own fan base can be beneficial to ensure you reach all the fans that you just can't get to relying on organic reach alone. Save targeting people outside of that existing fan base (those that already like your page) for a more traditional FB advertisment.

Total Spent Per Boosted Post: $10-$30

  • Advertisement - For more traditional advertisements (whether they be static image or video ads) start small here and gradually increase your budget over the course of a few days. Studies show that throwing large amounts of money at your ad off the bat actually ends up costing you MORE per lead in the long run. Another benefit of this strategy is that you can test different ads and target groups slowly with less money and then increase spend on those that you find are working for you. Plan on hitting a target of at least $30 to $40 per day (this can go up to hundreds of dollars per day if your budget allows) and being about to sustain that for a minimum of 5-7 days to really see ad impacts.

Total Spent Per Campaign: Start at about $10-$20 per day, Slowly increase in $5 or $10 increments daily depending on overall budget and time of campaign. 
Expected Cost Per Lead: $3-$5

Instagram
Another Facebook owned platform, Instagram is quickly being indoctrinated into the FB advertising fold. While they haven't touched algorithms around what's appearing in Instagram newsfeeds (yet), it's getting harder and harder to reach new users and followers without the use of ads. If you're adding Instagram ads on to Facebook ads (which you can do right through the Facebook Ads Manager), plan on following a similar budget and strategy as your Facebook ads.

Total Spent Per Campaign: Start at about $10-$20 per day, Slowly increase in $5 or $10 increments daily depending on overall budget and time of campaign.
Expected Cost Per Lead: $3-$5

Pinterest
Ahh Pinterest! The underappreciated and underutilized advertising platform, for small businesses especially. With the common misconception that Pinterest advertising is way too expensive and out of reach, not enough small business are jumping on this bandwagon. But we're here to tell you, it's WAY more affordable than you think! There hasn't been any evidence of needing to "start small" in Pinterest like you do in Facebook, but if it's your first time running ads on the platform it's always better to try testing with a smaller budget first to see if it's something that works for you. Plan on about $20-$30 per day (but feel free to go up from there) and about $100 - $500 per campaign. 

Total Spent Per Campaign: $100 - $500, Expected Cost Per Click: $.25-$1

Google Adwords
Once the king of all online advertising, competition is fierce. Google is THE search engine with the majority of searches done within it, it's no wonder advertisers are clamoring to get their brand in on it. However, with this one we like to say, “buyer beware!". While it can be effective, it's taking increasingly more and more money to outbid competition. In addition, users are getting very savvy to knowing what are "ads" and what is real, organic content. Latest studies show that about 60-70% of people searching tend to skip past the ads altogether and jump right to organic search. Good news? 30-40% of people are still clicking so there is still value in the platform, just be prepared to expand your budget.

Total Spent Per Campaign: $500 - $5,000, Expected Cost Per Click: $2-$15+

Are You Where Your Audience Is?
 Know the best social media outlets your small business should be on from Hub Digital.

No seriously, understanding human behavior, or more specifically your audience’s content consumption habits, is key to creating consistent quality content that will keep your current clients, prospects and brand ambassadors engaged.  We know you’ve already clearly identified your audience and we know you’re totally committed to producing really great organic content for your social posts, blogs, email campaigns, newsletters, videos, white papers, articles or other information but really identifying how your audience is consuming that information is key to your integrated marketing campaigns and efforts being effective.  We don’t want you to just feel like a hamster spinning on a wheel after all!   We often refer to ourselves as ‘Professional Spaghetti Throwers’ because we are constantly throwing spaghetti against the wall and quantifying what is sticking, what isn’t, what we should shelf, trash or invest more time, money and energy into.  We do this within our own business and for all of our clients every day, every week, every month…it is SO important to really understand which efforts are creating a positive ROI - makes sense, right? 

We often get that glazed over eye, deer in the headlights, reaction when first discussing social media campaigns with prospective clients or when giving a presentation or workshop because so many of you feel overwhelmed enough already with the amount of work it takes to run your business and the thought of adding social media with all those different platforms can make your head spin.  But, it is often not as complex as most think.  No, really.  Oftentimes, it’s really a matter of identifying which platforms make the most sense for your business to reach your audience.  

As an example…

Let’s say you’re a realtor. You’re going to want to have a professional logo and a solid web presence that clearly represents your differentiator and unique value proposition, a Facebook page, a comprehensive personal LinkedIn profile and a company profile.  All of these will of course be streamlined with a clean consistent style and with tons of relevant engaging content.  Are you still with us?  Once you’ve mastered these basics, which we’ll refer to here as the super important foundation, (which is often the hardest part to build) the rest is fun! …Well, for us it’s fun, let’s just hope it’s not painful for you! Now you’re ready to add some more floors to that solid foundation.  

Instagram: What about Instagram?  We’re guessing you’ve got some pretty nice listings and/or you’ve sold some pretty nice properties to some happy clients?  Take pictures when you’re working and post away!  You’ll need to continue to follow a fairly consistent style or theme.  Here are some great tips

Snapchat: Okay, we know your 13 year old uses Snapchat – you must be thinking we’re crazy.  Why on earth would we be suggesting you should use it for your business?  Here’s an eye-opening article by Gary Vaynerchuk that’ll back up our suggestion and prove that we’re not going cuckoo!  It all goes back to understanding your audience, so this platform may or may not be a good idea.  If you’re selling some stylish condos in an highly sought after area that is super popular to 20 and 30 somethings, Snapchat is a great idea, but if you’re selling retirement properties…probably not so much!

Pinterest: Women are BIG decision makers and major players in the consumer real estate market so chances are Pinterest is a no brainer for the realtors out there.  Here is a great article that talks specifically to that. 

We didn’t touch on video in this blog but let’s just say if content is king then video content is the king’s KING!  Video is consumed more and more and if done right, you can’t go wrong with video content.  

We’ll be following up next week with a very beefy blog all about video content and best practices for using it in your integrated marketing strategy.  Until then, happy content creating!

How To Optimize Your Facebook Ads
 Learn Hub Digital's quick tips on how to optimize your facebook ads.

Ok, so if you've had anything to do with Facebook in the past decade (that's right, Facebook has been around now for over 10 years!), you've noticed that it's gone through some major changes. What once was a mecca for small business owners who were looking for organic reach and inexpensive advertising, has now become a frustrating place of lost content just floating around with no one paying attention to it.

Algorithm changes over the past few years has significantly decreased the organic reach of business pages. It's gotten to the point now, where on average a business owner can expect that only 2% of the people who like their page will organically see what they've posted. As someone who spends a significant amount of time researching, creating and editing content to send out to the masses, that is a bummer. There's nothing worse than knowing you have something really important to say, without an audience to say it to.

Well, once you've mourned the loss of your organic reach (because trust us, it's not coming back), it's time to buck up and make the best of it. Despite some challenges, there ARE ways you can get great reach on the social media platform at a lower cost than other outlets, and those are Facebook ads. Trying them out? Below we're breaking down just a few tips to help you optimize your ads to ensure they're working the best for you.

1. Spend some time researching your audience and target them. When you're looking to target your ad don't just go by geographic area. Take some time to do some research on some of your existing audience's interests and likes. On Facebook you can target by general interests, things they've looked at on the web, and even other complimentary Facebook pages they've liked. Spending some time playing with the interest categories available for targeting can make a HUGE difference in your ad performance.

2. Pick the ultimate pic.  Ahh the ad image. This is always the most difficult (for many people) when designing an ad. The image is the first thing people will see when scrolling through their newsfeed so you want to make sure it not only makes sense with your content, but that it's attention grabbing as well. Find something with bright colors, interesting designs or a little bit of humor to ensure maximum results. And be sure to keep text to a minimum! While Facebook has loosened up a little on their restrictions, it will cost you more to run an ad with text in the image than one that doesn't have any. And be sure to keep it in the 1200 x 628 wide format so it fits the space nicely.

3. Start small with the budget. A lot of times people think the more money you throw behind an ad the better. However, recent studies have shown that dramatically increasing your budget will actually cause your Cost Per Click (CPC) to go up dramatically as well! Start your budget smaller (about $5 per day) and test it out over the course of a few days to see how it's working for you. Don't like what's happening? Go back and edit the image, text or both until you find the right mix. Happy with the results? Slowly increase your budget (No more that $5 per day) over time to increase the reach without increasing the CPC.

Crafting the Perfect Pin
 Learn how you can take full advantage of Pinterest for your business.

If you have a brand that targets women (and in many cases, even men) you’ve probably heard of Pinterest. The bookmark-style brand has skyrocketed to over 100 million users who log on daily to save some of their favorite products, wedding DIY, dream home decor and fashion styles. Touting a nearly 75% purchase rate (that’s right, 75% of Pinterest users have purchased something they found on the site) it’s a digital platform that can't be ignored.

Thinking about getting into Pinterest or have tried in the past and haven’t seen success? Well, like anything, there’s an art to pinning that can make or break your Pinterest page. Below we’re breaking down some of our favorite tips to help ensure that your pins will get seen, clicked on, and converted to sales.

1. Create a "Buyable Pin" if you can. "Buyable Pins" are something that are still growing in popularity and are still very limited to only certain commerce platforms. However, if you are one of those lucky ducks who hosts their online store on a compatible one, you can easily activate "Buyable Pins". These allow the end user to purchase your product DIRECTLY from Pinterest, making it even easier to get that sale. Plus, word around town is Pinterest is promoting buyable pins more in users feeds than a normal pin. If you have an Etsy store, it's not compatible with Buyable Pins yet, but you can create a "Rich Pin". Pin directly from your store listing to feature the product price and description more prominently than a regular pin.

2. Create an eye catching image. This one may seem obvious but you'll be shocked by how many people pin cut off or poor looking images on the site. A great idea is to create almost a cover photo by combining a great picture with some brief text of what you pin is about or where it links to. Now, you can't add call to action text like "click here" to your pin, but a general title helps give pinners and idea of what they can expect for your pin without having to read it so the chances of them pinning to read later go up dramatically.  Research has shown that vertical images with a 2:3 ratio (the recommended Pinterest size is 735 x 1102 pixels) tend to be the most eye catching and get repinned the most. Need help crafting the perfect pin image? Check out Canva where you can utilize pre-sized templates and get some ideas.

3. Keywords, keywords, keywords. You knew it was coming...  You HAVE to add keywords to the description of your pins if you want to see any traction. People are not only searching for pins within the actual site, but they show up on Google as well. Take a few minutes to ensure your pin descriptions include not only keywords about what your specific pin, but about your business as well.

4. Timing is everything. This one is the big one. Research has shown that pins are the most effective about 20-40 minutes after they are pinned. Because they are shown in users' feeds based on the time they are pinned, they have an EXTREMELY short shelf life. When you sign up for a business account, you'll get access to your analytics. This will help you see when people are responding to your pins the most and what is getting repinned. Take some time to research and test when your users will be online and save your most important pins to go live during that time (although a good rule of thumb is about 2-4pm or 8pm-1am as popular times). However, be careful because....

5. There's nothing worse than going overboard. It may be tempting to pin all your products to your page over the span of a few hours. We get it - You're on a roll, you have a plan and you just want to knock it out. However, because the shelf life of pins is short, it's recommended to spread out your pinning over days, weeks and months, to ensure there's always something fresh in your viewer's feeds. Also, bombarding your followers with 60-70 pins at a time is super overwhelming and may turn them off from your feed. The best rule of thumb is to plan on about 15-30 pins per day, spread out over the course of 24 hours (with your most important ones going live during your optimum engagement time). Now, it's not always ideal to check in to Pinterest at 1am, so check out some scheduling options like Buffer to help make it easier on you.

It's All About That Snap...

So, even though I'm still in my 20's, there is nothing that can make me feel older and out of touch like Snapchat can. I understand how to use it, and even have fun sending snaps to my friends once in awhile. But the second I get in front of my teenage cousins and her friends, who are masters at the platform, it becomes pretty clear that I just don't "get it". As someone who prides themselves in being pretty up to date with all things digital (I mean, it is my job, people...) I've decided to take it upon myself to do a little research on this relatively new social platform so we all (because I know you've been wondering too) can finally grasp not only the purpose of the app, but it's business implications as well.

Ok, let's start with the basics. What is Snapchat? Don't know? Don't worry. You're not alone. I get this question almost daily and unless you're in high school, college or immersed in digital culture, you probably have heard of it but may not have any idea what it does.

Snapchat is essentially a messaging app that allows you to send photos and videos that only last for a predetermined period of time. Although recent updates, like Snapchat Memories, allow you to now access your camera roll, the original purpose of the app was to take photos within the app only and share them with friends quickly, before they essentially "self destructed". In the past year alone, Snapchat has seen a 400% growth, officially beating out Twitter in the User game (it now boasts about 150 million registers users and rising). 

Another feature to the app, and one that makes it interesting on a business level, is "Snapchat Stories". Outside of sending pictures and videos directly to friends, this part of the social media platform essentially acts as your newsfeed. You can post content to your account that can be accessed at any time, by anyone that "follows" you, for 24 hours. This is where many businesses can find opportunities to post sale announcements, featured products, behind the scenes tours, etc. However, with a variety of other platforms like Instagram, FB and Twitter, this leaves many business owners scratching their heads and wondering why in the world they have to add yet another platform update to their already overbooked schedules. 

Well, whether or not you choose to add it to your repertoire really depends on your audience. To being with, Snapchat users skew VERY young. In fact, recent studies show that 23% fall within the 13-17 yr. old age group, while 37% are between 18 - 24 yrs. old, and 26% are between 25-34 yrs. old. While there is some disposable income to be had in these groups (not to mention the social buzz they can provide), it isn't necessarily the right target for all businesses. If you know you tend to skew a little older with your demographics, than this platform may not be worth investing in.

The other part of the equation is figuring out if you have the time, energy and resources to develop strong, engaging Snapchat content. Whether you choose to directly message your followers with exclusive content, or post out to your story for all Snapchatters to see, it takes time to create a strategy around content that is not only exclusive, but interesting to Snapchat users as well. Don't forget, these users are young and cool, and don't appreciate anything cheesy, too salesy, or boring. Think about creating content that isn't just to sell a product, but to interact and entertain as well. 

Thinking about diving in (or maybe just testing the waters) to Snapchat for your business? Check out this super cool infographic courtesy of mediakix with some examples of brands that are doing it right and ideas on how you can get started.

Your Guide To Google My Business

Many of the questions I get on a daily basis revolve around the infamous "Google My Business" platform. Everyone wants to know how to show up on the "little map thing" in Google Search, but no one really knows what it is or how to get there. Let me break it down for you.

Google My Business is essentially a free directory listing where Google allows you to post information about your business, pictures and social media updates, as well as receive reviews from other Google users. The benefits of this platform are tremendous and those include:

  • In-depth insights into how many people viewed, clicked on, or called your business from this listing.
  • Easy "click-to-call" capabilities for smart phones. Meaning if someone Googles you on their phone a button will appear where they can call you in one click.
  • Integration with Google maps to easily show where you are located on a map when searching from a desktop, and one click access to directions when searching on a phone or tablet. 

Businesses with a Google My Business account also get several benefits in search. These range from showing up, essentially immediately, on the first page in search (on the right hand side map search section), as well as the added SEO benefits of linking your website directly with a Google property.

Now here comes the confusing part. There are 2 ways you can sign up - as a "Brand" page or as a "Location". A lot of businesses lean towards the "Brand" option as they may service multiple locations or may not be location specific. Here's the problem with just doing a "Brand" page. You don't get all the added benefits that I listed above. You are only going to show up in that Google Search Map section if you sign up as a location and verify it.

So here's how you do it. Head on over to www.google.com/business and either sign in (if you have a gmail account already) or click "Sign Up" if you don't. From there you're going to click "Add a Single Location". From here you can follow the steps to either claim your business (if it's already listed) or add it from scratch. Keep following the steps to fill out all your information. Here's where you have to be patient. Google will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification code. Until you enter that verification code you won't be a "verified" account and can't reap the benefits of having a Google My Business profile.

Once it's verified, it's important to keep you profile up-to-date with the correct information. Check in about once per month and make any changes to your contact info, hours or description as needed. Google My Business is also integrated with the Google+ social media platform. They haven't officially announced that if you post to Google+ they're going to rank you higher in search. However, think about it this way - chances are Google is going to favor its own social media platform. It can't do anything but help you to post on it and show Google you're utilizing it. The other benefit is that it gives you another opportunity to create keyword rich posts and content as well as places to link back to your website. At the end of the day, spending just a few minutes a week keeping things updated, fresh and new is well worth it in the long run.

What is Everyone's Obsession With Live Streaming?

Between Google Hangout, Periscope and Facebook Live, it seems like everyone, and their mother, is live streaming. Celebrities are live streaming out at clubs and business owners are live streaming networking events. Being able to broadcast, in live time, what is happening around you, is giving brands, and the people behind them, the ability to connect with their audiences immediately in a way they never have before. Potential clients and customers instantly feel connected to whatever you're doing, even if they're 3,000 miles away.

Today we're breaking down the pros and cons of livestreaming to find out what everyone is freaking out about.

Let's start with the potential bad parts:

Cons

  • Copyright laws - Music playing in the background, and branded images on ads are everywhere. Even though you're not doing it intentionally, it can be difficult as a business owners to make sure your content is strictly your own and to avoid the legal ramifications of copyright laws.
  • Quality - While cell phone cameras are getting better and better, they still don't live up the high quality HD we're used to. Brands that normally produce high quality video may find the lower quality of live streaming a hinderance to their brand image.
  • The "Live" Factor - As we all know with live TV, ANYTHING can happen. Unlike live TV, there isn't a 5 second delay and someone sitting there with a buzzer. If something gets out of control, it can't be edited, and it can do some serious damage.

That being said, with great risk can sometimes come great reward. Let's explore the pro's.

Pros

  • Get Closer Than Ever Before - Live streaming allows you to connect and grow close with your audience like you've never been able to before. Pre recorded video or content will never be able to do that.
  • Timeliness - You can't get any more timely than the exact moment something is happening. Live streaming concerts, sports or other events can allow you to interact with your audience in a way that is extremely engaging and relevant.
  • Exclusivity - Giving your consumers an inside look into something, in live time, makes your audience feel like they're part of the "in-crowd". Unlike pre-recorded video, if you're not there for the live-stream, you can't go back and watch it later, making the content extra special and desirable.
  • It's Free - With a Facebook, Google or Periscope account, a brand can post FREE content for their consumers. This makes viewers happy, as well as increases the likelihood of them sharing and promoting your video stream and brand.
Social Media Contests - What is Actually Allowed?

Everybody knows, there is no better way to engage an audience on social media than a contest. People love give-a-ways, and they love the thrill of possibly getting something for free. However, there is a lot of confusion surrounding social media promotions. Facebook has recently begun implementing rules about what contests are and are not allowed on business pages. Businesses that break those rules could be risking their page getting shut down and losing all of their followers. Below we're breaking down some of the contests you CAN run as well as some ideas to help you make the most out of your next social media contest.

1. Like To Win (PAGE) - Currently, Facebook allows you to collect page likes in exchange for contest entries. This is one of my favorite contest types. Not only will you get people interacting with your page for your contest, but they will continue to see your updates after the contest is over. To encourage shares and to spread the contest even further, I like to create a "tipping point" in order to win. As an example, if a page is hovering around 1,500 likes, the contest would have a contingency that says it will be activated when it reaches 2,000 likes. With this contingency, entrants are more likely to share with their friends and family to participate to activate the contest and win the great prize you're offering. 

2. Like To Win (POST) - Similar to the "Page Like" contest, you can also ask participants to "like" a certain post to enter the contest. To me, this is a little less effective as it doesn't encourage long term engagement with a Facebook page. However, it's extremely easy for someone to just "like" a post so this technique tends to encourage a lot of entries. This type of contest is great if you have a smaller prize that isn't tempting enough for a more difficult entry process.

3. Comment - These require a little bit more work by the entrant but can be a great way to get your contest (and subsequently your business) in front of someone's friend list (since what they're commenting on tends to show up in newsfeeds). You can encourage comments in a few ways. You could ask people to comment on a photo with their best caption idea. You could ask for help naming a product or to come up with a new, creative idea. (As an added bonus you now get to utilize the new name or ideas provided by your audience). Or you could write a sentence and ask entrants to fill in the blank.

4. Run a Poll/Vote - This works by asking a question and asking people to vote (either through comments or through a 3rd Party App like Poll on Facebook). These are great ways get feedback from your audience while offering an incentive for them to do so. Another idea is asking for entries that will then be voted on. You could run anything from a "Cutest Baby Photo" contest to a "Fan Of The Week" contest. This will encourage those who have entered to share their photo or entry to encourage more votes, which means more eyes on your brand.

5. Tag The Photo - This one is a little different and I haven't seen it done many times, however, may be worth trying out. Your business could post a picture and ask entrance to "tag" themselves in the picture with a piece they identify with. As an example, a jewelry store could post a picture of different ring styles and ask women to tag themselves in the style they like the best. This photo tag will now post to each entrants timeline and will show to all of their Facebook friends.

As a general rule of thumb, the biggest thing that can make or break a contest is the prize. Make sure the value of your prize is in line with the amount of work a participant has to do to enter. The more steps that are involved the better the prize must be, or a user it more likely to keep scrolling.

Can My Business Use Instagram?

So, I started writing this post really as a way to convince myself to get on Instagram. Now, don't get me wrong. I LOVE the platform and use it personally and professionally for some of my clients. I know I, and many others, have seen HUGE amounts of traffic driven through Instagram posts. However, I've never created an account specifically for Hub Digital. My reasoning has always been, "What would I post about?". Let's be honest, marketing is not very exciting. It's a challenge just to get people to read my blog or Facebook posts. How am I supposed to come up with exciting, cool images that will get people to follow me related to marketing?

Well after doing a little bit of research, I found that utilizing social media platforms like Instagram IS doable for service based businesses like mine (and I'm sure plenty of you). Below are a list of tips and ideas on how you can rock an Instagram account even if you think you don't naturally have great content for it.

1. Go Behind The Scenes - You may not think your life is super exciting but you'd be surprised how interested people are in what it takes to get your job done. Throughout your day take pictures of the little moments that make your business what it is. Driving a long distance for a client? Take a picture and post about the new area you discovered. Came across a cute dog on a service call? Snap a pic and post about your new little companion for the day.

2. Give Advice, Accompanied with a Fun Picture - People love free advice. If you can combine that with an eye catching image it's ten times better. As an example, if you're a tax professional you could snap a pic of an over-packed closet and remind people that clothes donations are tax deductible. 

3. Be Inspirational - Who doesn't love an inspirational quote? Post something that speaks to you and your brand. Keep it in your brand's colors or fonts to really play up who you are. Relate it back to your business and inspire people to move forward with something.

4. Take Advantage of a Holiday - Check your calendar and make sure to take advantage of any holiday's, big events, sports games, anniversaries, etc. It's always great to stay relevant and on top of current events. If you're running out of ideas - make sure you check out the Days of The Year calendar. It has a bunch of fun, internet holidays that you could take advantage of such as "Be Kind to Lawyers Day" or "Blueberry Pie Day"

5. Post a Testimonial - Don't just tell, but show, how your service can benefit your clients. Screenshot or create a little meme with some of your latest and greatest testimonials. Sprinkle them throughout your instagram feed for instant impressiveness. 

Does Social REALLY Know What I Want To See?

It all started with Facebook's filtered news feed. In an attempt to serve us just the information we want to see, Facebook began filtering content that appears in our news feeds. That means that posts from pages we've liked, brands we've followed and even friends we've accepted may not show up, and therefore missed. While this may be a good thing, especially if you have that annoying friend who only posts pictures of their cats (yes, I'm talking to you Karen...), it has left brands struggling to connect with their fans and followers on this outlet.

Pinterest quickly followed the trend by curating and ranking "Relevant Pins" vs. the chronological order of pins your friends saved. And most recently, Twitter and Instagram both announced curated feeds to launch soon.

With all of these algorithmically ordered feed changes, users have begun pushing back, asking the questions "Do these social sites really know what I want?" and "What if I miss something important?". Well here's the rub. Studies show that most of us have so many friends, fan pages and groups throughout our various social media pages that without a curated feed we end up missing about 70% of what is posted. That's right, we miss a HUGE majority (70%!) of content that is posted anyways. On top of that, they've seen that some of those without curated feeds often become quickly overwhelmed with information and end up jumping off all together.

So really, these curated feeds are being introduced in an effort to save us from ourselves (and keep us using their various social platforms). Still frustrated with what's showing up in your newsfeed? Begin curating it yourself! Here's a tip: run through your fan pages and start liking and sharing content from those you care the most about. The more you interact with a page, the more likely it is to begin organically showing up. Those 1,000 friends you have? Take a quick run through and get rid of the strangers and ones you can't stand any more- See ya' later Karen! After some time you'll begin seeing the more of the content you want, and less pictures of cats (unless you're into that kind of thing). 

We've got a Q: Quality or Quantity?

When it comes to social media, we often seem to idealize those accounts with 10's of thousands of likes or followers. We strive to get as many likes as possible in order to compete and feel important. We think it is only in mass numbers that our pages will hold any sort of authority or drive any kind of significant sales.

However, recent studies have shown that you don't need thousands of fans to make an impact. Despite what you may think, your general fans are not the ones sharing, commenting on and liking your content. It's your SUPER fans that are doing that. They are the ones that are championing your brand, spreading your content and purchasing from you. These are the ones you want to appeal to and these are the only ones who are reading your messages. I know that sounds a little harsh, but let me explain.

According to it's own estimates, the average Facebook user could see up to 1,500 messages per day. However, they are only shown about 300 messages per day based on what they most likely would care about. This means that just because someone "likes" your business page, doesn't mean they're going to see your status updates. Unless they show interest in your information (by clicking, liking and sharing) chances are they aren't going to see your post anyway.

Instead of focusing your time on getting more likes or followers, shift that intention to crafting quality content geared towards the ones you do have. It may sounds obvious, but too often businesses attempt to appeal to a wide audience. Instead of garnering any sales, you're now marketing to a lukewarm audience that may-or-may-not be even seeing it. Take some time to create content geared towards those Super Fans who not only care, but will champion your brand. In this case, the old adage really is true, "Quality over Quantity".

How Facebook Reactions Are Helping Your Business Page

Yes, I know I did a Facebook blog last week. But unless you've been living under a rock, at this point you should have noticed the new Facebook Reaction emojis and I think those are important to talk about. Just in case you actually have been living under a rock (or too busy binge watching all 9 seasons of "The Office"), Facebook now offers the ability to "react", in a variety of ways, to posts including laughter, shock and even anger.

To me, these new Facebook emojis offer a chance for your fans to interact in a more meaningful way. As many page owners know, just getting people to see your posts can be a challenge. New rules around serving organic content have severely limited a business' reach on Facebook, and have left many marketers struggling to figure out how to connect with their customers.  When you are finally able to get in front of a consumer, the questions then becomes how to get them to interact with your post. Encouraging commenting and sharing is even harder, as many consumers won't take that extra step. You want to know what they think about your post, they're just not telling you.

Thankfully with the implementation of the new Facebook Reactions, you can finally get some insight into how your audience is reacting to your posts. Now with one touch they can tell you whether they "Like" your post, "Love" it or even if it makes them "Sad" or "Angry". Eliciting emotions from your consumers helps them connect even more with your brand and shows you how they are feeling about the content you are posting. As a marketer (and as a business owner, you are a marketer) the more information you can have on your target market (even if that information is they love cat videos) the better.

Facebook Instant Articles: To Do or Not To Do?

Beginning April 12th Facebook will be opening up Instant Articles to anybody with a website and a Facebook page. The question becomes, if you're not publishing a massive amount of content daily like the Washington Post or the NY Times, how should a small business utilize Facebook Instant Articles (if you should at all).

We've all been scrolling through our news feed on our phones when we've come across a piece of content that peaks our interest. After clicking on the link you're taken to a white screen while you wait for the content to load. Depending on a publisher's individual hosting platform, this wait time can become a huge barrier. With dwindling attention spans, audiences aren't willing to wait for content to load and will often click off. For brands that rely on their content to make sales or that make money from advertising, this can be a big problem.

Utilizing the same technology their app does to create fast load times for photos and videos, Facebook has created a new tool for publishers called Instant Articles. Allowing the content creator to publish directly on the Facebook platform allows articles to load instantly, dramatically increasing the chances of a mobile reader clicking through to the content.

On top of that, audio, video and pictures are integrated seamlessly into the article. Video is set to autoplay in either newsfeeds or within the actual content. Pictures, which before you had to pinch and zoom to view can easily be shown close up simply by tilting your phone left or right. Audio captions can be created, so the narrator can actually explain to their audience what is going on in an image. All of these combined streamline the process of consuming content to create tiers of information for the reader. 

All pages are completely customizable with fonts and colors and also included is the ability to add advertising directly within the articles This can be done through your own advertising outlets or through Facebook directly. Still a little confused? Check out this pretty cool video on the features of Instant Articles.

So the question now becomes, how does a small business utilize something like this? To me, if you're not publishing content on a daily basis this tool is a little less valuable, however, worth checking out. No matter what you're business is, we've talked about the importance of content to drive traffic and increase SEO on your own website. If you can make it easier for your customers to get your content, why wouldn't you? You may not benefit from the ads and the video integration like a blog can, but adding just one more step to your publishing routine can help your customer's experience when interacting with your brand. 

The great part about this is Instant Articles are published directly from an RSS feed pulled from your current content management system. This means that on top of being able to utilize the fast loading technology of Facebook, content is still published directly on your own website, giving you all the juicy SEO benefits of all those keywords.

You can Click Here to read more about the how-to nitty gritty of Facebook Instant Articles as well as sign up to become a Facebook publisher when the platform opens up to everyone on April 12th.


Changes are a-comin'
 
 

When it comes to Facebook, if you're a small business owner, you've probably noticed some changes in the past few months. Lately, it seems like it's been getting harder and harder to get anyone to see what you've posted. Looking at that little number underneath a post, it can be quite frustrating to see it equal to only a small percentage of those who actually like your page.

Well, things are about to get even harder in the world of social media. In a recent article, Facebook announced that beginning in mid-January, they are stepping up their efforts to block promotional posts from showing up in news feeds. For small businesses frustrated with the lack of organic reach, these changes seem to be rubbing salt in an already aggravated wound.

This leaves many owners and marketers scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to get their message out to the massives. While you are not going to get the reach you expected, Facebook can still be a useful outlet if utilized correctly.

To begin with, set your expectations for Facebook. No longer can you sell products, or drive significant traffic, by using your posts without paying to boost them. It's time to look at the site as a place to educate your customers and store information that potential consumers can view while researching you. Stay away from the advertising and focus instead on interesting facts, cool articles or fun pictures that will entertain viewers. Begin to utilize Facebook as more of a resource for customers looking for more information, as opposed to an advertising outlet (unless you're willing to pay, that is). 

When you do want to promote a sale or particular product, spending a couple extra dollars to promote the post can make all the difference in the world.

Learn more about the upcoming Facebook changes and how you can prepare for them here.