Social Media Rundown: Instagram Hits 1 Billion Users, Lunches IGTV; Facebook Subscription Groups; LinkedIn Kudos

The new IGTV from Instagram in use.
Brands and individual creators jumped right into IGTV.

Big news coming from Instagramland: Not only has the photo-sharing platform surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, but it also just announced IGTV. Despite the unspectacular name, IGTV puts Instagram in direct competition with YouTube and further establishes the mobile platform as the ultimate social media platform for creatives.

Looking beyond the major Instagram news, Facebook ponders ‘subscription groups’ and rolls out an initiative to combat the opioid crisis. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is rolling out a new ‘kudos’ feature.

Be sure to check out the Learn section for social media success tips from National Geographic and all you could possibly want to know about IGTV.

Social Media News:

  • With IGTV, Instagram Takes Aim at YouTube (Wired). On IGTV, long-form vertical videos can go as long as 10 minutes (in-feed videos are still limited to one minute). Some creators with large audiences can post up to 60 minutes of video — National Geographic, for example, used its first episode of “One Strange Rock” for its first video on IGTV, all 47 minutes of it. IGTV videos are all prerecorded, but live video could come later. By the way, the app now has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Read all about IGTV and its user growth in the official announcement on the Instagram info center.
  • Facebook Tests ‘Subscription Groups’ That Charge for Exclusive Content (TechCrunch). I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine ever paying to access a special Facebook sub-group — especially $30 bucks a month. But Facebook has apparently already started to letting Group admins charge $4.99 to $29.99 per month for access to special sub-Groups full of exclusive posts.
  • Facebook to Redirect Users Searching for Opioids to Federal Crisis Help Line (STAT). Facebook users attempting to purchase opioids or seeking out addiction treatment will be instead redirected to info about a federal crisis help line.
  • LinkedIn Adds new ‘Kudos’ Feature to Acknowledge the Contributions of Connections (Social Media Today). Despite the negativity from the article’s author, this seems like a nice new feature for giving public praise to a colleague. LinkedIn Kudos is rolling out now globally in the LinkedIn iOS app, and coming soon to Android and desktop.

Learn:

  • The 4 Lessons Any Brand Can Learn from Nat Geo’s Social Media Success (Hootsuite). As it turns out, National Geographic is the largest non-celebrity brand on Instagram so they’re clearly doing something right. National Geographic’s social strategy is based on four core guiding principles: Stay true to your brand, go immediate (or live), harness the power of “wow,” and embrace new technology.
  • IGTV: The Ultimate Guide to Instagram’s New Video Platform (Later). This article from Later (the company that provides NEJM’s Instagram landing page) has the main points you need to know about IGTV. If you need to go deeper and enjoy a tidy list, Hootsuite has a nice roundup of the technical aspects and more.

What do you think of IGTV? Seen any good ‘shows’ yet?

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Social Media Rundown: Lots of Facebook Headlines; Instagram Algorithm, Explained; Building Social Proof

Another week of news regarding Facebook privacy concerns and other negative headlines for the battered social media giant. It’s OK though, I’m sure we’ll all keep using the social networking site like nothing’s wrong.

Mark Zuckerberg takes a sip of water before Congressional questioning.

Also, be sure to check out the learn section to see how the new Instagram algorithm works, ways to build social proof, and how to make sure your social media marketing is in line with Facebook’s priority of making sure time spent on Facebook is time well spent.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook Says It Accidentally Let Anybody Read Private Posts From 14 Million Users (Business Insider). Facebook discovered a “software bug” that caused millions of status updates that were intended to be posted privately among friends to be public. The bug affected 14 million users, between May 18-27. Affected users will be notified and asked to review their posts from that period.
  • Facebook Will Remove the Trending Topics Section Next Week (The Verge). After a couple years of controversy due to Facebook editors curating the headlines, the company has decided to ditch the trending section. Other ways to deliver news, including breaking news labels and a section that collects local stories, are currently being tested.
  • A New Privacy Problem Could Deepen Facebook’s Legal Trouble (Wired). A New York Times article revealed that Facebook had deals with phone manufacturers that gave them access to personal data about users and their friends in order to re-create a mobile version of Facebook on their devices. Information included relationship status, religion, political leaning, events they planned to attend, and whether the user was online. Facebook disagrees with The New York Times.

Learn:

  • The New Instagram Algorithm Has Arrived – Here’s How it Works (Later). This could also go in the news section; Instagram recently invited a group of reporters to explain how the feed algorithm works (TechCrunch among that group). The short version is that the algorithm focuses on three core areas: interest, timeliness, and relationship. Secondary factors include frequency, following, and usage. If you’re an IG user, you probably won’t see any posts from several weeks in the past anymore.
  • Why You Should Be Using Your Content to Build Social Proof (Convince & Convert). In this blog post, the author outlines three ways to build social proof: release content consistently, create incentives for people to share, and measure success.
  • How Facebook Marketing is Changing (And How to Be Prepared) (Buffer App Blog). Rather than prioritizing content that might grab a user’s attention, but drive little interaction, Facebook favors the content that sparks conversations and brings people closer together. This helpful chart sums up what Facebook is prioritizing:
Signals that affect Facebook News Feed rankings.
Facebook wants more ‘meaningful interactions,’ as this chart outlines. Image: Buffer.

Social Media Rundown: Teens Flee Facebook; Twitter Bans Teens; Use Instagram Stories Like a Teen

Not a whole lot of major social media news this week, but it’s definitely worth pointing out the recent Pew Research survey that shows just how quickly teens are fleeing Facebook for other social media platforms. I wonder, as these teens get older will they start using Facebook more frequently?

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular online platforms among teens.
Facebook is losing the teen audience at a quicker than thought pace.

Also, Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel defends his platform and Twitter has started completely banning some of its youngest users.

This week’s learn section has some cool tips on using GIFs in Instagram Stories and how to be a real social media marketer using the power of Google Analytics. Read on to learn with me.

Social Media News:

  • Teens are Breaking Up with Facebook Faster Than We Thought, Says Study (Mashable). YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are now more popular among younger users than Facebook.
  • Snap Is No Facebook, and Spiegel Insists He Wants It That Way (Wired). Facebook’s Instagram is projected to surpass one billion users this year, while Snapchat has 191 million daily users. Its stock price is half what it was in February, when it redesigned the app. Further, Facebook seems to just wait for new Snapchat features to roll out and then copy them.
  • Why Twitter Started Banning Some of Its Youngest Users (Gizmodo). The minimum age to use Twitter is 13, though it doesn’t require users enter a birth date when signing up. If a user later enters a birthday indicating they were under 13 when they began tweeting, it presents a problem.

Learn:

  • 7 Creative Ways to Use GIFs on Instagram Stories (Later). Read this one if you’re on Instagram and want to use Stories like a pro (and impress all your teenage followers). In all seriousness, I’m on Instagram everyday (both personally and professionally) and I learned a few things from this helpful article. Did you know you can pin GIFs to appear at a certain point in a video? Or that you can actually create your own branded GIFs?
  • How to Use Google Analytics for Social Media: A Beginner’s Guide (Sprout Social). This article gets into the nitty gritty of how to use Google Analytics to create, optimize, and improve your social media marketing strategies.

Lastly, a little GDPR humor:

Tweet about GDPR.
A nice jab at all the companies sending emails regarding their updated privacy policies in light of GDPR.

Social Media Rundown: Cleanup on Facebook & Twitter; Klout Dies; the Ideal Post Length

Let’s all take a moment of silence to remember Klout… OK, that’s enough. Well not quite; it’s worth noting I’ve written about Klout a couple times in the past.

The Rock rolls his eyes at the death of Klout.
Did The Rock ever care about Klout? I think not.

In this week’s edition of the Social Media Rundown, Facebook and Twitter take further action to remove bad actors from their platforms and improve the user experience.

Lastly, be sure to check out the learning section for a handy tool on creating the ideal post lengths across a number of social networking sites. Also, have you felt like a victim of an Instagram ‘shadowbad?’ Relax, it’s not what you think.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook Says It Deleted 865 Million Posts, Mostly Spam (The New York Times). The cleanup came in the first quarter of this year, the vast majority of which were spam, with a minority of posts related to nudity, graphic violence, hate speech and terrorism. Meanwhile, Facebook has already investigated thousands of potential apps that may have leaked data. 200 have been suspended.
  • Twitter is Going to Limit the Visibility of Tweets from People Behaving Badly (BuzzFeed News). The changes apparently led to an 8% drop in abuse reports on conversations and a 4% drop in abuse reports in search. But do we really want Twitter searches and replies further filtered?
  • Klout, the $200 Million Website that Measured How Important You are on Social Media with One Number, is Shutting Down (Business Insider). This news is hardly important, but for a short time, Klout was a big deal and many brands used Klout scores of individuals to determine how influential people were. Hootsuite even displayed Klout scores on profiles within its platform for a while. I think Justin Bieber’s Klout score was always the highest at 100 or so (apparently making him more influential than Barack Obama and any other world leader) while mine usually sat around 55, I think.

Learn:

  • Know Your Limit: The Ideal Length of Every Social Media Post (Sprout Social). This post outlines not only the ideal post length for the major social networking sites, it also has a handy character counter tool you can use for help in crafting your posts.
  • Instagram Shadowban? What Marketers Need to Know (Social Media Examiner). Wait. What’s a shadowban? Don’t worry about it, because it’s not really a thing. This article can basically be summed up as such: Don’t be a spammer. But there’s plenty of Instagram algorithmic insight to read the full thing and get a better understanding of how to be successful on Instagram.

 

Social Media Rundown: Twitter to Add Encrypted DMs & GIFs in Quote RTs; Tips on Growing Your Instagram Following

A bit of a slow week in social media news, but there are some new features being rolled out from both Facebook and Twitter that’s worth noting. I’m particularly excited about being able to send GIFs in quote tweets soon.

Jonah Hill Excited GIF
Are you excited about GIFs in quote retweets?

Oh, and those big changes coming to Facebook News Feed? Yeah, not much has changed.

Lastly, be sure to check the learning section for tips on growing your Instagram account and what GDPR is all about.

Social Media News:

  • Twitter Tests Two New Interactive Options, Including Encrypted DMs (Social Media Today). Not sure I’d ever need encrypted direct messages, but you never know. Being a GIF fanatic, I’m more excited at the second feature: the ability to add GIFs to quote retweets. I’ve wanted to do this many times.
  • Twitter Urges its Users to Change Their Passwords due to a Bug (Digital Trends). If you’ve used Twitter in the past week or so, you were likely greeted with a message about a bug in which the passwords of all of its 320 million users were exposed as plain text. Some of you have changed your password already; that was probably a good idea.
  • Despite Facebook News Feed Algorithm Changes, Fake News Still Thrives (Mashable). Did you notice that big change in the Facebook News Feed algorithm? Neither did I. “Despite what was categorized by the company as sweeping updates, the state of the News Feed remains just as rotten as always: Fake news still thrives, and that old Facebook favorite Fox News is king once again.”

Learn:

  • How to Get Your First 1000 Followers for Instagram (Later). The “CHECT” system is a nice cheat sheet on things to consider with each in-feed Instagram post. CHECT = Content, Hashtags, Engaging, Captions, Tagging.
  • What the GDPR Means to Social Media Marketers (Buffer Blog). This helpful breakdown of the new GDPR outlines how the new data privacy regulations should be beneficial to both businesses and consumers.

What did I miss this week?

Social Media Rundown: Facebook to Launch Dating Service; LinkedIn Turns 15; Make Better Cover Photos

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces Facebook dating service.
Facebook announced its new dating service at its F8 conference. Photo via Mashable.

Despite the privacy concerns hanging over Facebook, the social networking company has announced its plan to launch a new dating service. But it won’t just be a hook-up site. No, no, this will be all about finding serious relationships. Meanwhile, its Instagram product just keeps getting better and is definitely drawing folks away from Snapchat (see below). And happy birthday, LinkedIn!

Don’t forget to check out the learn section for tips on creating a Facebook cover photo and how you can use lookalike audiences to better target your Facebook ads.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook to launch dating service as Zuckerberg takes aim at Tinder (The Telegraph). It was only a matter of time; Facebook has come full circle. You’ll soon be able to create a dating profile that is separate from your Facebook profile with potential matches recommended based on dating preferences, common interests, and mutual friends. The idea is already being ripped for catering to the older demographic.
  • Instagram debuts video chat, opens Stories up to developers (Mashable). Instagram seems to just keep rolling out more and more exciting features and beating Snapchat in its own game. Users will soon be able to share content from third-party apps directly to Stories. Plus, video chat, augmented-reality camera effects, and a redesigned Explore tab are all rolling out soon.
  • LinkedIn Turns 15 (LinkedIn Blog). Happy birthday, LinkedIn! View a ‘then and now’ infographic to see what’s changed in the past 15 years.

Learn:

  • How to Create Great Facebook Cover Photos: Sizes, Styles, Examples (Hootsuite Blog). The cover photo (or video) is the first thing people see when visiting a Facebook Page so it’s important to not only have an on-brand image, but to also change it up from time-to-time. This post gives you everything you need to know to create a new cover photo and some examples to get your creative juices flowing.
  • 3 Overlooked Facebook Lookalike Audiences That Will Improve Your Ad Results (Social Media Examiner). This post takes a thorough look at targeting people who spend time on your website, who spend money on your site, and people who’ve watched 75% of a video.

What big news did I miss this week? Please let me know.

 

My Top 5 Super Bowl Ads of 2013

It’s time for a breakdown of my top five spots from advertising’s biggest day. This was certainly a good year for Super Bowl advertising and an even bigger year for social media during the big game. Last year I ended up picking five funny spots and this year I have a more balanced list (as balanced as a top five list can get). Brands mostly went for heart-warming over hysterical this year and many of the comedic spots were really not that funny in my opinion or they were produced a little too over-the-top.

Social media played a role in this year’s brand bowl more so than ever before. If you’re a marketer reading this, I’m sure you’re well aware of the brilliant and timely posts delivered by the Oreo social media team. When the lights went out at the Superdome, Oreo pushed out the below image on Facebook and Twitter in a matter of minutes:

This was an image with real staying power. It picked up another thousand plus retweets the day after the big game, the Facebook post got over 20,000 ‘likes’ and close to 7,000 shares and the quick and witty post picked up tons of free press. Oreo is certainly on top of its game and made sure its ‘Cream Or Cookie’ Super Bowl spot was fully supported with social media build up and timely posts sent out before, during and even after the game. Social media activity like this can only be achieved with a command center and all hands on deck. The social media activity during the Super Bowl this year was certainly impressive, but it’s time to break down my favorite ads.

#5. Samsung Mobile USA – The Next Big Thing

I’m not usually one to fall for celebrity endorsements, but these two are hilarious. Not sure how much the ad will help in its epic battle for marketshare over Apple, but it can’t hurt.

#4. Viva Young – Taco Bell Game Day Commercial

This commercial is great. I can only wish I will be this cool when I’m sitting around in a retirement home a few decades from now. Only thing bad about it is now I have that Fun. song stuck in my head, which I spent most of 2012 trying to get rid of. At least it was in Spanish.

#3. OREO – Whisper Fight

A whisper fight in a library? Brilliant. Though I’m a little surprised it hadn’t been done before. Again, Oreo absolutely stole the show from a branding and marketing standpoint. They even took this moment to launch an Instagram account. Before the Super Bowl, Oreo had around 2,200 followers on Instagram and garnered around 35,000 followers by the end of Sunday night. Props to 360i and the Oreo social media command center.

#2. Budweiser Super Bowl Ad — The Clydesdales: “Brotherhood”

This ad literally brought tears to the eyes of some of my coworkers. With several terribly awful ads from Bud Light, Anheuser-Busch InBev totally redeemed itself with this tear-jerker of an ad.

#1. Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial “Farmer”

This one struck a chord with me from the first frame and had chills going through my spine by the end. Growing up in northwest Oklahoma and listening to farmers talk about the weather and wheat prices everyday definitely had an influence on this year’s pick. Paul Harvey had a big part in my life as well. Seemed like anytime I showed up at my grandparents house in Alva, Okla., Paul Harvey was delivering his famous “The Rest of the Story” segments on the kitchen radio. It also helped that the commercial was beautifully done with shots from a National Geographic photographer and a renowned documentary photographer. Nicely done, Dodge.

Bonus spots:

Because of my Oklahoma roots and because the Flaming Lips are just incredible in general: 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe | Big Game Ad | “Epic Playdate

Because I love awkward moments: Unattended Laundry: You needed the machine. You got caught panty-handed (Speed Stick)

Because I love Amy Poehler: Best Buy – Asking Amy: Official 2013 Best Buy Game Day Commercial

My Personal Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2012

My nine best on Instagram from 2012.
My nine best on Instagram from 2012.

Another year has gone by. I’ve been through some fairly major life changes. New city. New job. New friends. New experiences.

Instagram has gone through some major changes as well. The photo-sharing app with vintage filters opened its doors to Android users and a few days later was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in early April. A few Instagram users freaked out about the availability on the Android Market and even more freaked out after the news of Facebook’s purchase. Of course, this did nothing to slow its growth. In fact, during this 10 day period, the app saw explosive growth and ended up adding another 10 million users–1 million new users a day.

Then Instagram changed its privacy policy and people freaked out again–this time with the idea that Facebook was going to start selling users’ photos. This would all come to a close soon enough after Instagram apologized to its users and vowed to remove language that suggests they have the right to sell users’ photos. Oh, and a new version with a new filter was recently launched. Nice timing.

Now that you’re all caught up on the latest happenings of Instagram; let’s take a look at some of my personal top photos. For the second consecutive year, I have combed through my hundreds of photos and picked my top 10 of the year. I posted a good number of images shot with my Nikon D90, but this list is comprised of only photos shot and edited with my iPhone. You can take a look back at my top 10 photos of 2011 to see I have continued to grow as a photographer and get more creative with my shots. To view all my best photos from 2012, follow my on Instagram (@eric_wheeler) and view my hashtag #wheelers_best_of_2012. Take a look at my top 10 and let me know what you think!

Instacanvas: An Easy way for Instagram Users to Sell Their Work

Click to view my Instacanvas gallery.
Click the image above to view my Instacanvas gallery.

If you’re an Instagramer you have probably heard of Instacanvas by now. Interestingly though, Instacanvas has received little media attention thus far. Some of the larger tech and social media news sites I generally turn to have yet to crank out a feature story on the new start-up. That is rather surprising considering the site is generating 1.2 million unique monthly visitors and supplying around 20,000 artists with galleries to showcase their work and hopefully earn some passive income.

The concept behind Instacanvas is simple, but I’ll turn to the Instacanvas website to describe its offerings:

With Instacanv.as, Instagrammers can signup to sell their art and then people looking for something cool for their walls can buy that art printed on stretched canvas. We’ll print it, ship it, and tell you that you’re the best too.

I first discovered Instacanvas while scrolling through my home feed on Instagram and was pretty excited about the opportunity to showcase my work and hopefully sell a few items. I’ve been asked by a few people now if I sell my work. The short answer is yes, but the longer answer is a little more complicated. Printing, shipping and collecting money for my work can be quite difficult and time consuming (though, selling my work in person is a rather simple transaction). Instacanvas will hopefully solve some of these issues the next time someone asks to buy one of my Instagram photos.

Instacanvas appears to be open to everyone now, but in its early beta days (a few weeks ago), only users who were in the greatest demand were granted a gallery. This is undoubtedly where much of the early success of Instacanvas stems from. Using the power of Instagram’s 50 million users to promote a website is a sure way to gain some early attention. When I first heard of Instacanvas, I immediately started asking people to help me open my gallery via Facebook, Twitter and, of course, Instagram. I got the support I needed and about a week later, my gallery was open.

I have yet to see a physical canvas print, but the Instacanvas website claims they have developed proprietary image resizing technology that enables them to make beautiful canvas prints, up to 20 x 20 inches from Instagram photos. Of course, I would be absolutely delighted if I sold a few pieces, but I might even buy a print or two for myself or as gifts. The price is reasonable and I’m curious to see how my Instagram shots would look on 20 x 20 canvas–I have never printed Instagram photos larger than 5 x 5 inches. Maybe you’ll be the first to see my Instagram photos on stretched canvas?

Please click here to view my Instacanvas gallery.

Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 2 – The Power of Visuals

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.
Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience as I presented at a recent St. Cloud State University mass communications alumni event. Now is time for part two of that discussion: the importance of visuals in communication.

The idea that people are visually minded is nothing new, but I feel it is important to discuss as the concept directly transfers to the public relations industry. There’s been talk for a number of years about whether or not news releases are effective and if they are on the way out. The short answer is no, they are not on the way out. That’s my opinion maybe, but as long as there are journalists with tight deadlines and news organizations that continue to cut staff, news releases will be an easy go-to source for journalists.

Without getting into the particulars of  journalists expected to push out more content in a shorter amount of time and editors choosing to sensationalize soft stories instead of producing in-depth hard news, I’ll just say news releases are still important. What has changed over the past few years is how the news release is developed and disseminated.

Now in the PR world we’re seeing more interactive news releases. News releases optimized for search engines and the “social media news release” are commonplace. These are news releases rich in content—containing at least one visual element, keywords and links for more information. A media-rich news release is far more effective in reaching a target audience and should resonate with reporters much better.

Visuals are so effective now that many companies are using infographics in place of the news release. Infographics are great because they can take relatively complicated statistics and visualize them into easy-to-understand graphs. A news release with a bunch of stats crammed in the body will never be as effective as a well-designed infographic. They also are easy to share and can make their way around the Internet with little effort.

Further building off the importance of visuals in PR, let’s take a look at what has brought us to this point. Surly, communications specialists have recognized the importance of strong visuals long ago. Marketing and advertising is almost completely based off of visual cues. Even radio commercials contain a visual element—a good radio spot will paint a picture in the mind of the listener, which can be more effective than actually seeing something in print or video.

Social media and, more importantly Web 2.0, have made it much easier to share images and video across a variety of platforms. A few major news items have surfaced over the past few months that have really made this point be heard.

The first is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to pin images that link back to the original source onto “boards,” or a scrapbook-style collection of a user’s personality. Pinterest is significant because the website hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever.

Another interesting phenomenon is Draw Something hitting 20 million active users in just seven weeks. Draw Something is a Pictionary-style mobile gaming application in which users draw something from a set of words and the other user watches the drawing unfold as he/she tries to guess the word.

A final piece of news is that of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion–which was still a startup at the time with only 9 employees. Each of these news items should aid in understanding the the importance of using visuals in communication.

Lastly, please stop using comic sans and clip art: