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May 2013

#Stop #Using #Hashtags #On #Facebook

House over water

The # symbol was invented to connect people, topics, and events you care about on social media. Though hashtags were initially invented to group tweets about a specific event or topic together for easy search, they have morphed into a form of creative expression. Since its birth on Twitter in 2007, the hashtag has found its way on television shows, advertisements, and other social networks like Instagram and Tumblr. However, one place you won’t find (functioning) hashtags is on the mother of all social networks: Facebook.

Though Facebook has been hesitant to adopt hashtags, Facebook users – unfortunately – have not. Since hashtags on Facebook are just dead text, they serve no purpose whatsoever.  Therefore, many people are beginning to use hashtags solely for nuanced articulation, rather than functional references/groupings. Using hashtags in this manner on Twitter wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since Tweets are limited to 140 characters. However, when you begin to incorporate this hashtag fad on Instagram and Facebook, people get a little excessive (to put it lightly).

hashtagsI can understand the occasional Facebook user whose updates are a direct feed from Twitter and therefore contain a hashtag or two, but it drives me nuts to see photos with a million hashtags (like the one pictured to the left) in my FACEBOOK newsfeed. What’s worse, the people who post these photos to Facebook don’t even have a Twitter account, and therefore have no clue what a hashtag really is (or, needless to say, how to properly use one). So, hashtagging photos on Facebook turns into a game of monkey-see, monkey-do. The more people see it in their newsfeeds, the more people blindly join the bandwagon. Using hashtags on Facebook shows ignorance (and I won’t even get started on brands that do this).

So, for all you Hashtag-confused people out there, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Hashtags don’t belong on Facebook, EVER.
  2. When you post an update to Facebook, it publicly states where the update was shared from (Via mobile, Twitter, Insagram, etc.). Therefore, people can see if your Facebook hashtags are a direct feed from hashtag-friendly sites (like Twitter), and when they’re not it makes you look even dumber.
  3. ‘#The’ is not a hashtag. Hashtagging conjunctions altogether is unnecessary and should be avoided. (which brings me to my next point..)
  4. #Dont #hashtag #every #word #in #a #sentence – this does nothing but show ignorance
  5. Limit the number of hashtags in each post to less than 5 (I recommend 1-3). Photos with 10+ hashtags come off, at best, vain or crying for attention.
  6. Keep your hashtags short: 1-2 words, 3 max! None of this: “#everystormrunsoutofrain” (yes, I pulled this example directly from my Facebook newsfeed)
  7. Keep them relevant. If you posted a picture of yourself on Instagram, don’t throw in off-the-wall hashtags like #quote or #Love, just so more people will see it. Including irrelevant hashtags on your Instagram photos to get more likes makes you seem desperate and comes of spammy.

I realize that Facebook is currently testing hashtags in beta, but until they are a public feature the guidelines above still hold true (even if/when they are introduced on Facebook, don’t disregard steps 3-7).  On that note, I’ll wrap it up with a great quote from Miki Pereanu:

“Hashtags on Facebook – or what happens when idiots become inspiration for the greater good of marketing.”



Is It Time to Update Your Website?


As technology continues to evolve the way sites are being used is changing and the designs are becoming more and more advanced. Even things such as social media and community interaction are changing and shaping how websites should look and function. If you have been questioning whether your website needs a redesign or not, then it is important to look at the common signs and issues to justify doing so. Having a website that is merely online does not mean it will bring visitors to it or get you customers.  When visitors find a website difficult for them to use, think it is ugly, or have a problem finding what they are looking for, they will have no issue taking their money somewhere else. A website redesign can help your company gain the competitive advantage you need in order to attract new business and keep it.

Here are the most common signs that you might need to update your website:

 1. Information and Site Look is Outdated

When is the last time you updated the information and look of your website? It is very important that the content on your site be freshened up as much as possible. Websites need more than just accurate information to gain new visitors they also need regular updating and action. If you don’t update your site as often as you know you should, then a website redesign can be a perfect way to solve the problem. Possibly just hiring a web developer to install a content management system (CMS) so that you can update the site yourself may be the answer.  You may also consider needing to completely start from scratch and create a new website that will allow for easy updating and a new look. Search engines will also not rank you kindly in this case either, as they like sites that are constantly being updated with new content.

 2. Your Web Design is NOT Responsive.

Before, it used to be that you would only have to be concerned with the way your website looked on a regular old computer screen. As the number of people using smart phones and other devices to browse online increases everyday it is important to have a responsive design. Nowadays, with the different mobile devices that can access the web, you need to make sure your site’s design is accessible for all platforms, from a desktop PC to a smartphone. If your site is annoying and hard to navigate on smaller devices, it’s time for an update. With a multitude of various devices able to access the Web now, the web design community has made it clear that it is time to rethink the way we design websites. It is no longer good enough to design a website for a desktop or laptop computer, especially with millions of people accessing the Web on their smartphones, and tablets.

3. Load Times are Long.

A website that takes too long to load is a turnoff, especially with the smartphone crowd. It shouldn’t take more than five seconds for your site to load. Most web developers agree that if your site takes longer than five seconds to load, then you should look into optimizing your site. According to TheNextweb.com after about five seconds on slower bandwidths, people become disinterested and will leave your site. If your site is taking longer than five seconds to load, I first recommend hiring a web designer or developer to look into why your site is taking so long to load or consider a redesign that will allow for less loading of certain areas of the site.

4. You Are Losing Visitors.

If you’ve noticed that visitors never navigate past your home page, or if they’re declining in numbers, it’s time to revamp your site’s content. This is particularly true if your site holds no SEO influence. If you notice that you are starting to lose visitors, then you need to look at your homepage and see if there is something that needs to be changed or fixed so it attracts people to look around, or consider a complete redesign of your site to make those visiting your site intrigued enough to stay on it.

5. Seem to be Non Existent on Search Engines.

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo like sites that have content that is up to date, consistent, and coded properly.  If you go to search your website and cannot be found on search engines, then it may be time for a new website to help boost your SEO and search engine visits. Since most people will find you through a Google search, make sure to follow the necessary steps that search engines will respond to so that they will find you and put you in their results. This will help get visitors to come to your site.

If you think that these signs apply to your website, then it is time to start thinking about updating it. It is important to use a company or web designer and developer who know what they are doing. A website can be a deal breaker for some customers, so make sure your website is as up to date as possible.





Identifying, Locating, and Converting Brand Evangelists

Road Map for Locating Brands

A ‘brand evangelist’ is someone who is actively promoting a certain product, or an aspect of that product or service in the social media sphere. Brand evangelists could come in many forms; they could be your employees, customers, affiliates, etc. Regardless of whom they are or how they are related to your product, brand evangelists help create a human connection with a product and are extremely beneficial when it comes to building buzz. Brand evangelists are a marketers dream. In fact, a study conducted by Bayne and Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can produce more than a 25% increase in your profit. Therefore, turning happy customers into brand evangelists is a very good business strategy. But how do companies convince customers not only to use their products, but to adopt their brands? What makes consumers advocate for a product and willingly accept and “own” it as part of their individual identities?

The first step is locating these potential brand advocates – which can prove daunting, seeing as there are millions of conversations happening online every day. Therefore, you must begin with simply listening. Collect and test conversations until you have established a few key search terms that are returning beneficial results. Then analyze them. One of the fastest ways to find your brand evangelists is to start marking the mentions of your brand with sentiment. You are looking for the people who really like your brand,  are saying good things about it, and are recommending it to others. These people are really out there promoting you, and 9 times out of 10 they have no connection with the company whatsoever (in fact, the company most times is never even aware of them).

What to look for in a potential brand evangelist:

So you’ve found people who love your brand and who are out there talking about it – these are your potential evangelists. It’s important that you find someone who really knows what they’re talking about, who really understands the product and can talk about it with authority. For them to be effective we have to buy into the fact that they know much more about this product than I do, and based on their insights this product is going to be a good choice for me.

Potential brand evangelists have to be very active in social media. They must be someone who has a big reach, and a good following. They have to be very active conversationalists. They can’t be someone who’s constantly on the soap box or someone who’s controlling the conversation. You don’t want someone who just moves in on the conversation and completely takes it over, because that will alienate people more than anything.

Converting customers to brand evangelists:

Oftentimes it can be small things that convert a happy customer into a brand evangelist. If someone has a really outstanding experience they are going to want to tell others about it. This is particularly true if it is a constant experience. It’s not hard to have the “best cookie in the world” one time, but can the bakery do that every single day? That’s when you’re going to find people who start raving about your product. Therefore when that happens consistently, and time after time the product is outstanding and/or the service is outstanding, that’s something that will turn people into brand evangelists.

It’s important for businesses to remember that every interaction leaves some kind of impression, and oftentimes it’s the little things – good or bad – that people remember the most. For example, if you’re serving food to somebody it could be things like: did you clean the table? Is everything perfect? All of those leave an impression, and online is where people are talking about it. Hence, in order to get more positive conversations happening about your brand online you need to start internally and ensure your business is producing happy customers.

Once you find these happy customers you need to help them become brand evangelists. Very often all it takes is just a little bit of attention. It’s amazing how far showing them a little love can go. You need to acknowledge them and show them that you’re listening and that you’re interested. Oftentimes in life, very few people get acknowledged for what they do, so just doing so can make a big difference.

Another important method of turning customers into brand evangelists is by giving them something that will help increase their visibility within their own groups/communities. In social media today it is important to remember that your audiences have audiences of their own (who also have audiences, and so on), and they are all looking for more content. Therefore, you need to give them something that would raise their visibility, and bring them more readers/traffic. Help them by supplying value – which could mean giving them insider access and doing things like giving them content, or perhaps access to your experts.

It’s important that, on your search for brand evangelists, you don’t forget to look internally. Oftentimes you’re likely to find brand evangelists right under your nose within your company. Many times your employees know the company and the product much better than anybody else, and they often are people within the company who are very passionate about the company they work for and the product that they make or sell.

When you turn loyal customers into brand evangelists they really become passionate and they are very loyal and very supportive. They help spread your key messages into important communities and, consequentially, the reach goes beyond just the fans – you’re reaching their friends and their followers as well. But you have to enable them by giving them the content and the tools to go out and tell your stories about the latest things that are happening, their exclusive experience, what they’ve seen happening in the company, why this company is so different, etc. Once you give them the stories, it becomes their personal stories, and not only will they share them, they will become your biggest fans online.








Consumers Now Value A Brand’s Facebook Page More Than Its Website

Sunset and People on a Paddleboard

There has been much speculation surrounding the value of a Facebook “Like,” and the ROI of a Facebook fan. However, according to a new study by market research company Lab42, liking a brand on Facebook now influences the consumer experience more than ever. In fact, the study found that 50% of consumers think a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than its website.

Of the 1,000 social media users surveyed, 82% of respondents said Facebook is a good platform for interacting with brands, and 50% agreed it’s more useful than a brand’s website. The study also found that the main reason users follow a brand on Facebook is for discounts and coupons.

For more details of the study’s findings, check out Lab42’s infographic below:


LinkedIn Becomes More Social With Photos and Videos


With the new wave of changes that are coming to most social media sites, LinkedIn has officially announced that they too will join this latest trend. LinkedIn will now allow members to showcase their talents in a completely new and improved way. Starting now, you can add visual content, ranging from photos, videos, and presentations to your LinkedIn Profiles. This will be a great advantage for a company, job seeker, or business owner. Sharing visuals from your company on your LinkedIn Profile can be just as powerful as if uploaded to your Company Page.

“For the first time, you will now have the ability to showcase your unique professional story using rich, visual content on your LinkedIn profile. This means you can illustrate your greatest achievements in the form of stunning images, compelling videos, innovative presentations and more,” stated LinkedIn on its company blog. “From the analyst who makes annual predictions on tech trends to the 3D animator who is looking to fund a new short film, the opportunities are limitless…”

Additionally, it’s a great way to set your profile apart from others. Until now, every LinkedIn Profile looked almost the exact same besides the head shots and company logos. Now community managers can customize their profiles with photos of past events and presentations you’ve shared at conferences. This will definitely come in handy for job seekers.

To begin adding visual content to your profile, select “edit” on your profile and then follow the prompts in the “Summary,” “Experience,” and “Education” sections. Other people can “like” or comment what you’ve posted, so if you are going to post pictures or videos it is best to make sure that those looking are interested in what you are putting on your page.