Category Archives: Social Media Marketing

Binary Instagram

What the new Instagram algorithm means

If you are active on social media, whether for personal or professional uses, you are likely to have heard some of the uproar surrounding Instagram lately. But what is all the fuss about?

The image-based social channel recently announced that it would be changing its algorithm, which essentially means that images are now ranked based on engagement levels rather than chronology.

Brands big and small have been concerned that this would have a negative impact on their online presence. This is because users will now see posts from people who they regularly engage with – by commenting or liking their images – before pictures from other users show up.

For small businesses trying to increase their presence on social media, this could pose a significant problem. How are you supposed to engage with users if they are unlikely to see your posts in the first place? How can you create brand loyalty if you can’t even engage with your audience? These are valid concerns and ones that smaller firms may struggle to address but it isn’t all bad news.

If you know your target audience and are taking the right steps to engage with them, then the Instagram changes shouldn’t affect you too much, as you will already have built up the customer loyalty and advocacy you need.

On the other hand, there’s no denying that those who want to grow a following may find their engagement drops. But this might not be all bad news. The rise and rise of social media has meant that many brands are trying to keep a presence on three, four, sometimes even five or six different platforms. For a small business, this can be a massive time sink, and even worse, your efforts may not have the impact you desire if you don’t have the time to properly understand the audience you’re targeting.

This is part of the reason why Instagram has introduced such a significant change. Too many brands are flooding the social media website with adverts, and engagement has plummeted as a result. To the Facebook-owned platform, this means that it isn’t as profitable as it could be – especially compared to the likes of Snapchat – and has triggered a fundamental change in how the site works.

If you are overly concerned that your Instagram following will suffer as a result of the new algorithm changes, it may be best to focus your efforts on other aspects of digital marketing.

Having a comprehensive digital strategy, which includes a well-optimised website and engagement on the right social media platforms, can work far more effectively than trying to battle with Instagram’s new rules.

The old Instagram almost rewarded bad practices. With the newest images appearing first, brands that posted the most had the best chance of being noticed by users. However, the changes will mean that only businesses that have targeted and engaged with the right audience will prosper.

There’s no denying that the changes will make it more difficult for small businesses to grow on Instagram, but the new algorithm is there to try and weed out the spammy approach that some companies adopt, which can only be a good thing for digital marketers.

hands holding digital strategy

The importance of a well planned digital strategy

So, you have decided you need a digital presence – everyone is online and your competitors seem to be everywhere you look. You may be familiar with SEO (search engine optimisation) and Google adwords or may just have decided you need to look into increasing your digital presence and need help. Social media is all the rage but does it really help businesses? Facebook is something you have probably been keeping your staff away from during working hours.

The first advice I would offer my clients before we discuss different ways to market their product or service is to ask themselves why. Why do they want to implement a digital strategy and what is their main goal. By determining clear goals and objectives and understanding what success looks like it is possible to create a clear, objective based, time managed strategy.

There are many reasons to increase your online presence some of these may include:

  • Increasing a customer base
  • Branding
  • Selling a product or service
  • Lead generation
  • Product awareness
  • Information awareness (a charitable cause)

First ask yourself. what does success look like. Is it a monetary value or do you have other key performance indicators?

Next decide on the resource you have to create this success = time, money and skill sets. Once these are decided (external skills needed, amount of time you are willing to spend to achieve, you can now have the outline of your digital campaign. You have the ‘why’ and the ‘means’ you can then set to researching the ‘how’.



Social Media’s role in Charitable Fundraising

Social Media’s role in charity – Many years go and my first ‘proper’ job out of university, I worked for Barnardo’s children’s charity. My role was a Student Fundraiser, I encouraged students from college and university to fund raise for Barnardo’s, mainly by shaking a bucket in a town centre.  I can’t help but think how much has changed since then and how the role of fundraising has shifted very much to digital. More specially social media campaigns.

Charities have always relied on content marketing, whether this is online or offline. The need to engage a lot of people by telling the story of why their charity deserves donations to do their vital work is not new. But this is content that, once read, was aimed to create the immediate desired response i.e. Donate.

Social Media’s role in charity fundraising is slightly different. A campaign is launched not just for consumers to read and donate, but to actively encourage others online to take part in the donation process. This has been very well executed in the resent ALS Ice bucket challenge.

The challenge originated in America (the charity is American) where participants would either pour an ice cold bucket of water on their head and donate $10 or just donate $100 and nominate other people to do the challenge in 24 hours and nominate new people – and so on.

The challenge dominated social media though out the western world with high profile celebrities, sports stars and the rest of the countries participating. The ALS Association which raised $64 million in the whole of 2013 reported to have raised $10 million on Thursday, August 21st 2014 alone.

A massive success right? I for one was amazed by the way the campaign had clearly made an impact on society and was raising money for a good cause.

But, here lies the downfall of social media. Campaigns only work if the public ‘own’ the campaign. This means the direction by which it goes once launched into the world of social media is never 100% predictable, and so the backlash started.

Many posted that the waste of water used recklessly by this challenge showed a massive lack of empathy and understanding towards the 3rd worlds struggle to have clean water. Others criticised ALS Association for taking more chartable donations away from other charities (people who normally donate what they had to a different charity have given to ALS).

Other critics said it was self congratulatory, rather than concentrating on the what the charity does and the seriousness of its role. A humorous criticism came from Willard Foxton, writing in the Daily Telegraph describing it as “a middle-class wet-T-shirt competition for armchair clicktivists”.

Since the launch of the craze I have seen on my social feed people addressing many of these concerns. Re-using water from the sea or lake; Donating to other charities local to them after the ice bucket challenge.

Despite all the criticism one can only think that anything that gets the public talking about charities and donating to charities is a good thing.



Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing

What is the difference between Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing and what is their role in SEO?

It seems like Social Media is taking over the world. The average smart phone facebook user checks their account a staggering 14 times a day, with 79% of users logging within the first 15 minutes of waking up. So what is the real difference between Social Media Marketing and Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is content created for people to read/view/listen to in order to create the desired response (normally a lead, a purchase, an enquiry). Offline examples are content in magazines or newspapers, the interaction is between the content and the reader and this is presumed enough to create the desired response. It is planned, it is targeted, it is sometimes shared between readers but the key (I believe) is that the conversion success is kept between the content and the reader.

Social Media is content designed to evoke discussion, opinions, interaction between ‘the masses’. It is less structured (although planned) as once it is in the social hemisphere it is largely down the public where and how it takes its journey. This is why small businesses often find it difficult to create a return on investment from social media alone – if what they are selling is not a discussion topic, it is unlikely to succeed in social media.

This is not to say there is a massive cross over between each type and they certainly are not clearly defined as content can easily become socially shared and social can become content that provokes a direct reaction.

Their role in SEO is in my opinion both as important as each other. Shareable content and readable content with good links and structure will create positive results in the search engines. The restrictions are more down to whether a social marketing campaign would be successful with the content that is being shared. If content is just uploaded and not shared, perhaps a more content marketing approach would be more successful for SEO.