Attention spans are dwindling, that’s no secret. Reading a newspaper has fallen by the wayside, in favor of reading simple headlines via an app on our phones or tablets. Magazine articles are getting shorter, Vine is offering a way to film videos that last only 7 seconds, and we’ve got devices in our homes that allow us to skip commercials. Everyone remembers the old days of looking at photos; we sat down around a table and passed an envelope of photos, careful not to smudge them with our dirty fingerprints.
Since then, the process has become simplified with the advent of digital photography. We can now briskly look through hundreds of pictures via online storage or our computer’s hard drives. We can snap a quick photo and send it over text or email, and people are instantly able to enjoy the fruits of our creativity. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any easier, Snapchat emerged.
YouTube is a huge social media outlet with unparalleled outlets. It has a huge audience and great marketing potential for your business, but most businesses or brands aren’t quite sure how to use YouTube to build up their brand. The most common use for YouTube and business is to promote their company and show consumers what they do, but this isn’t the only way you should be using YouTube to promote your business. So what can you do different to market yourself on this social media outlet with one of the largest audiences on the internet?
First of all, most people don’t visit YouTube and search YOUR business. Most people will not subscribe to your YouTube Channel to see your commercials and what you sell. They typically know that car dealerships for instance, sell cars. They will most likely know what your dealership is all about from television commercials, internet ads, newspaper, and radio ads. They aren’t there to research your company’s history. Although these things are important, YouTube may not be the best outlet to promote these items on. Of course, you will want to still have videos like this on your channel, but to capture your target audience, you must do more.
Most marketers are aware that Pinterest can take a website from unknown to super successful with a single pin. However, up until now, finding the secret formula for content that will take off and go viral has been largely based on experiment. Marketers have been scrambling to find a way to reach the largest market possible using Pinterest as the medium.
Pinterest is a social online pinboard known for its eye-catching images, but over the past year, it’s become a search engine of sorts as well. After it received two sizable investments in 2013, the site rolled out a variety of features that have made it even more user-friendly. It’s no longer just a site to save images for travel and home decor inspiration or to create wishlists.
I’m not a big fan of redundancy, especially on social media. Under normal circumstances, if you have good plugins and widgets properly placed on your blog, there’s no reason to have others. If you want to annoy me with a blog post, put an inline plugin, a floating plugin, and another one at the bottom. Oh, and throw in a “Share It” widget just in case three ways to share weren’t enough.
After years of fighting, I’m actually going to make an exception to the one-place-to-share-them-all rule. I have two Pinterest plugins on my blogs now and they’re both useful. I have, of course, the standard inline plugin. Some like the floating plugin and that makes sense, but it slows the page down a bit too much for my liking and it often isn’t visible on all devices even if your blog is responsive. I follow the unspoken rule of 5, 5, or 5 sharing options (no more, no less) and I prefer the big-5 for my particular blog (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn) but there are variations to this rule that replace LinkedIn with Tumblr if there’s no business-reason to share your site. Reddit is an obscure option of you have truly viral content of general interest or if you’re the mast of a popular niche.
I recently added the jQuery Pin It Button For Images. I have held off for a long time because I’m not crazy about it graying out the images upon hover and I don’t like that it’s an overlay, but I relented and haven’t looked back since. It works. People are pinning more. More importantly, they’re pinning the right link rather than pulling it from an archive or pinning the individual image itself. It’s light on the load and does have a nice little protection of not allowing your images to be right-clicked and saved.
One might ask why I wouldn’t eliminate Pinterest from the standard sharing section. The image button does not have a count and is only visible if people hover. Some people like doing all of their sharing from the same basic area, so they both stay up. Most importantly, it doesn’t work on all mobile devices.
The best part of the button on the image is that it acts as a good reminder to visitors. On a desktop, it whites out the image and displays the Pin It button when they hover over any image with their mouse. This is a prompt, a call to action, and it actually works very nicely.
Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most important social networks when it comes to search. Some would say that the inclusion in Bing image results was the last surge of importance necessary to put it over Twitter on the effectiveness scale. Regardless of where you place it exactly on the social signal list, it’s definitely in the top 4. It helps with search engine optimization, period.
The traffic that can come from it can be pretty useless if you’re not selling items to a wide audience, but it’s still a good bulk play. Depending on the topic, it can be the second best traffic-driving social network showing up on analytics.
Nobody knows exactly where Pinterest will go and how long it will stay so important in the whole scheme of things for both search and social, but for now, you might as well take advantage of it while the ride is still hot. This plugin is an easy win.
Does anyone remember “Friday?” It’s likely that it will become all the more familiar once you hear the few opening notes of the song that went viral two years ago. Since that time, Rebecca Black, who performed the song, seemed to stay relatively under the radar, which usually indicates the 15 minutes of fame cliché that’s easy to tie to any Internet fad. Fifteen might not be enough, though, as Black went viral once more; this time, it was through a surprising show of humility.
A few days ago, Black posted a new music video on her YouTube channel called “Saturday.” Very much tongue-in-cheek in relation to “Friday,” one can only describe this latest lyrical outing as a skit that Saturday Night Live would show if Black was the special guest. With a number of references to “Friday,” cereal bowl and all, it’s all but given that she’s making fun of herself, which was arguably the best route to go considering the backlash that “Friday” gave her. If you think that “Saturday” did anything but earn attention, you would be mistaken.
Since “Saturday” was posted, it gained over 12 million views, which should be worthy of note alone. However, the ratio between likes and dislikes is practically even, with the former just edging over the latter. Keep in mind that “Friday” was heavily disliked when it came to the surface back in 2011, meaning that “Saturday” may be looked at as more of an improvement in the eyes of the audience. It’s safe to assume that Black understood why so many people disliked “Friday,” so her next creation had to be something that was more self-deprecating.
It proved to be the best creative decision, as Black earned a number of comments that actually praised the video. While it goes without saying that there were those who lambasted “Saturday,” a good number of YouTubers spoke positively about not only the better lyrics but in how her singing improved. If you were to get the opinion of Long Island marketing experts, “Saturday” seems to be more of a platform that was designed to showcase the improvements on Black’s part while “Friday” was more of a grade school project not unlike a model volcano that failed to spew faux lava.
In fact, earlier this month, Black posted a video that showed her reaction while re-watching “Friday.” While she was visibly embarrassed at points, she wasn’t afraid to laugh at herself. The fact that she was able to do so indicates a greater level of humility than many Internet personalities lack. From a karmic standpoint, perhaps the viral nature of “Saturday” is well-deserved.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably failing at social media image marketing. That’s not me being cynical. By examining dozens of business social media presences every week, I get to see what so many are doing and the unfortunate fact is that 9 out of 10 are doing it wrong or not doing it at all. I’m being conservative with that estimate.
The “unfortunate” fact really isn’t that unfortunate, especially for those who are reading this. You see, you can actually do it right, which means that you’re going to have a leg-up on the competition. When things are too easy or too well known, they have a tendency to become universally good. When they’re universally good, that means that everyone is average.
Image marketing on social media is not about taking advertisements and posting them as images. It’s not about talking about your big sale next week in the form of a banner that you post to Twitter or Instagram (though there’s a way to do that which I’ll demonstrate below). It’s not even about taking pictures of happy customers in front of their latest purchase jumping in the air with the caption, “Oh what a feeling!”
Proper image marketing should accomplish some of the following goals listed in no particular order:
Promote an upcoming event
Demonstrate a lifestyle advantage associated with your product
Connect with the community
Make a statement
Drive traffic to a landing page
It doesn’t have to do all of these. It can do one of them really well, a couple of them very well, or knock out three or four of them with a single post. To highlight this, I’ll use examples that I found in my Twitter feed just in the last couple of hours. This does not only apply to Twitter; Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and Facebook can all work nicely here.
It should be noted that size and aspect ratio are extremely important and arguably the biggest miss by most. Twitter has an aspect ratio of 2:1 while Instagram is 1:1. Small images don’t do as well. on any of the platforms. Pinterest is the only platform that does vertical images well. Appearance on mobile is more important than appearance on desktop. These and other technical aspects of image marketing will be covered in a future post. For now, let’s just look at the content…
Bad Examples of Social Media Image Marketing
These ones are bad. Don’t do these. I blocked out the business that posted one but I kept the one posted by Ram only because as a manufacturer, they should know better by now…
The image quality is poor. The car is cut off. There’s no visible branding for the dealership in the image. Overall, it’s extremely boring. This is not going to get anyone’s attention and nobody who sees it in their feed will care.
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It’s a nice image of a mountain. Wait. Is that a truck at the bottom peeking up over the edge? It’s good that they are getting their fans involved, but the picture should have been edited to appear properly on Twitter before posting it. This is the lazy way out and accomplishes none of the goals.
Decent Examples of Social Media Image Marketing
These aren’t bad. They aren’t good, either. They’re good enough to get listed here just to show the differences between them and the ones further below so you’ll know what mistakes to avoid.
The attempt by Nissan is pretty strong. They’re trying to do well on Twitter and they’re doing an above-average job at it. This particular piece is missing something: impact. The message in the image means nothing other than stating a minor incentive. It gives no reason for people to actually click through to the landing page other than the boring message itself. With image marketing, you need to make a statement in order to get clicks. They should have put more creativity into the messaging rather than state the offer plainly.
More importantly, the offer itself is designed specifically for those who already plan on buying a Rogue, so the incentive is in the reservation itself. At first (and second, and third) glance, this appears to be another rebate offer because it looks like another rebate offer. There are brighter minds than mine that could have fashioned a better message, but it should have been less statement of the facts and a bit more mystery and uniqueness to draw people to click.
This Rogue wants to be reserved (and it will pay you to reserve it)
What do reservations and $250 have in common? The 2014 Nissan Rogue.
Early Bird gets the cash on their Rogue
No Reservations Necessary (unless you want an extra $250)
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This isn’t bad because it does accomplish one goal – making a statement. The only thing keeping this at decent rather than good is that the message is a personal one and should have been delivered in a personal manner. While the picture is cool and the message in the text is strong, it would have been better to have a member or former member of the military (there’s probably some working at the dealership right now) by a car or the dealership’s sign with an American flag in hand. This is a bit generic but a good attempt – still better than 9 out of 10.
Good Examples of Social Media Image Marketing
Here are some good ones. These are nearly great but are missing a couple of minor components. If you did your marketing like this, you’d be ahead of 99/100 others.
Great aspect ratio. Hot car. Good message and most importantly there’s a link to the inventory search for the vehicle itself!
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This one is much like the previous except a different variation for two reasons. First, it uses a stock image, which is only good if the image is as good as this one. The thing that brings it up from “decent” is that the link takes you to a vehicle specific landing page which is more appropriate on Twitter than a straight vehicle search. Remember, if they want to search, they will. Putting them on a page with information about the vehicle is better for higher-funnel customers that you’ll get through social media.
Great Examples of Social Media Image Marketing
These are the best that I’ve seen so far… after searching four hours back in my Twitter feed. There are better ones. There are plenty of worse ones. They aren’t perfect but they’re pretty darn close.
This one hits goals 1, 5, and 6 nicely but it really nails home #3: Demonstrate a lifestyle advantage associated with your product. It doesn’t need to show the whole car. It doesn’t need a beautiful background. It has a simple, elegant four word message that can reach the target audience where it hurts.
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Remember, it doesn’t have to nail several goals to be effective. This time, it does a wonderful job of branding but keeps it touching the community with the localized weather factor. This is exceptional and if the following is engaged, it’ll resonate.
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Simple and powerful. This is what Nissan missed when they promoted their message. Well done, Mr Potratz and Mr Ziegler.
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You don’t have to be a professional photographer or a creative genius to get it right with social media image marketing. You just need to have a good strategy, solid execution, and a willingness to know the “rules” well enough to break them ever so slightly.
Let’s state this for the record. I am not convinced that using the new image features on Twitter is the best way to go when it comes to marketing your business. It still smells too much like spam and if it’s not handled properly it could do more harm than good.
With that said, there are definitely instances when it could do VERY well, particularly when it comes to gaining exposure and picking up more Twitter followers. The key is making sure you’re keeping a 2:1 ratio aspect ration for your images.
They are displaying that way regardless of the size or shape of the image when seen in the screen. They can be enlarged, of course, but that’s so old school. With the new Twitter feed displaying them inline without a click and the fact that they’ve added the engagement actions under each post across all of the platforms, it makes sense prevent people from having to click to see the whole picture.
Look at the example below, a tale of two Tweets. As you can see, the top image that I just posted fits perfectly into the frame that Twitter gives us. The one below it forces you to click through to see it. It doesn’t matter how compelling the message is, only a handful of people will click to find out what the punchline was. They’re much more likely to skip right past it, particularly if they’re like the majority who check Twitter on mobile.
If your images are twice as wide as they are tall or close to that ratio, you’ll be able to get the most impact out of your Twitter image marketing. Don’t go out and make a bunch of ads at that ratio. Again, this can be abused and you’ll turn more people off than ever before if you spam the system (and feeds). Keep it legit and everything will be just fine.
It isn’t often that an airline safety video gets over 2 million YouTube views in two days, but Virgin America isn’t your standard airline. They “get” us in ways that most other airlines just seem to fail at miserably.
The good news – their safetytainment video is a hit, surely making travelers smile before take-off and exposing the company to the social media world as the forward-thinking company that they are. The bad news for them is good news to us. The rules are changing about turning off electronic devices, so that part of the video may be obsolete soon.
No matter. Mission accomplished. They win once again in the uber-competitive airline arena. Here’s their video:
In an ideal world, you’re the social media and content manager for your company. You spend eight hours a day harnessing the power of sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ while developing content for your blog and YouTube channels. It’s tough, but you’re making it happen.
In the real world, you’re probably responsible for a ton of different things and social media was tossed onto your pile of work. How can you cope? Is it possible to have a strong social media presence without devoting a ton of time to it? Yes and no. Yes, you can have a pretty decent one, but 30-minutes as detailed below is the bare minimum to be considered truly active. I’ve seen people do it in about 2 hours a day and have a super strong presence.
For those of you who are having to hold it together until help (or more time) arrives, here’s a great infographic that can work as a daily checklist of activities that you need to accomplish to maintain the minimum level of social media power, courtesy of Pardot.