Instagram Stalls, Time to get Worried?

tumblr_ni919clKSx1sp8304o1_1280

As Instagram rolls out it’s battle tank to increase revenue, usage statistics are tanking. Which is sort of ironic since the whole idea was to innovate and get more advertising money.

The dearth of technology is tied to innovation. Instagram has been slow to the finishing line since it was purchased by that behemoth, Facebook. People are sharing less on Facebook and for Instagram, people spend less time on it than in previous year.

Advertising on Instagram got a whole lot easier in 2016, namely, anyone with a Facebook account can buy adverts now on Instagram. It is basically the same way you buy Facebook advertising. No different except that you get to put your adverts up within a user’s newsfeed.

Not long ago, Instagram started to ditch its show me everything newsfeed to adopt a tuned algorithm. They will show you more of what you like….or suggest users that have similar post which you like and at the same time, take into account the number of likes and views of your particular post and tell the world where you stand. What do you make of it? Well, it is really to justify what you pay for. If your advert or post get shown to an audience, you get to see how many times it has been viewed. It cuts both ways.

Metrics are everything but results are a wee bit subjective.

Instagram is Spreading its Wings

If you happen to like posting stuff, Instagram now helps you to get discovered. Content consumers may not have an idea on who to follow so this clue might be helpful when users who have similar post you like are often suggested. Herein lies the problem.

Instagram-signup

With 80% of its users now from outside the US, up from 75% last fall, Instagram’s growth has relied heavily on its popularity in overseas countries like Japan, Germany, France and Indonesia.

Marketing overseas got easier but not all of them speak English. So Instagram has introduced instant translations for post for users to read. 

This two prong approach sort of solves the problem but it doesn’t quite solve the engagement problem. People are using Instagram less as it is so yesterday, and this has gotten Instagram worried of course, and as a brand advertiser, you should be too.

If you don’t catch enough eyeballs, then where should you be?

Time to Get Worried?

Instagram has also hit 300 million daily active users. While 300 million is impressive, CNBC reported that Instagram usage has actually dropped 23.7% between this year and last . So even as Instagram is reaching a wider daily audience, its users are spending less time in-app. Less time means less revenue for Instagram and this is how it plays out.

The immediacy of an advertising campaign doesn’t mean you should be throwing more dollars at Instagram but to spread that reach wider on both traditional and online advertising and not rely on social media alone.

drop

That’s because the Daily Usage has tanked for Facebook and Instagram. People don’t post as much anymore or for that matter share or check their newsfeed to the point Instagram has to send you suggestions on who to follow and what to follow in terms of interest and pages.

Since the adverts are targeted, advertising can be directed at a particular profile but this will not stop ads from running meaninglessly when users scroll pass them. Do I recall what I just saw that was inserted into my news feed? Nope. Nor do I care since whatever advertising that was directed at me wasn’t of interest to me.

Videos got Longer on Instagram

Posting video is being extended to a whole 1 min. However Twitter has countered this allowing videos up to 140 seconds long with Vine. Wow. Would you be bored?

download-1

The fight for video time is apparently getting longer for these two competing platforms but Twitter still lacks punch. Instagram is more social media while Twitter is more conversational. Even when Twitter can stand up on its own with the combination of Vine and Periscope, it can be a bandwidth hog if you’re not too careful with your mobile data.

This is what is keeping people from streaming on mobile. Data is expensive and viewers would rather watched the saved videos on Wifi.

Collective Engagement is the Key

The only reason why Starbucks would set up another shop a block down the road from the first one is location. If that is the case, then a collective engagement is what you are after should you have a social media strategy.

I find it pointless to pit Instagram with Twitter and Vine, or Google+ with Facebook. It is a collective engagement (the sum of its total) that you are interested in because duplicating content on all your social media platforms bores the hell out of people. Why should I follow your Instagram feed if you post the same stuff on Twitter? Or for that matter on Facebook or Google+.

Return on Investment Explained

ROI is very simple to explain in advertising terms. The aim is always thrice the amount of return on whatever you have spent in promotional activities.

The amount of time spent, and the effort put it has to justify the results. The rough advertising reach model is three times the cost in terms of ROI. So if you calculate all your social media time and effort to a daily rate, and if you multiply that in terms of dollar value by three times, this is the actual benefit you should be receiving from this collective engagement on social media for a weekly or monthly expense. If you are not getting that in ROI, then it is pointless to continue social media activities.

This justification is what doomed Facebook’s stubborn approach to organic reach and would happen the same way to Instagram if it is not careful. If an advertising or promotional effort is costing more than what it returns to brands and businesses, then the money would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Epic fails on Content Creation for Facebook Post

 

“Good content always has an objective; it’s created with intent. It therefore carries triggers to action.”

It is no secret that Facebook seems to be the place every brand wants to get into especially when it comes to eyeballs. Every time you send out a post from your page to followers it only gets a 1 percent organic reach. The one percent organic reach is for pictures and links. Video on the other hand gets you more, maybe to the tune of 4 percent in a day.

Facebook defines organic reach in terms of unpaid post that pops up on your newsfeed. This means that you may have a truckload of followers but they won’t see your post unless you paid Facebook to reach out to them.

During my 2 year observation on Facebook post, I run a page which I use to obtain metrics. I have managed to get a 10 percent reach in two days using a very sly method of commenting on other Page post using my Page persona. This is very hard work and for a 10 week old post, I am able to hit a 50 percent reach of my followers.

Recently I took the global car brand from BMW to task.

Obviously they haven’t a clue on what works and I told them to create content when posting instead of just putting up a picture.

Engagement counts to each Posting 

When you post a picture, like the above, telling followers hey, custom job for you mini, why not do this? Then the picture stands alone, without a link or a FB content, then you are in trouble.

Facebook measures each post with an engagement. So if people liked it and clicked on it, then it gets shown to more unpaid followers. This grows and grows but it tops off at 50 percent. When people leave comments on it, it also gets circulated around for longer period. And this is what creating meaningful content is all about.

Brands who are not serious about this should only post pictures only content to Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Pinterest is a bit iffy here as its quite nebulous. People collect pins which are pictures with content links but you don’t know if they get viral like herpes when you pass it around. Once you take into account that females like Pinterest more, then you could have more gender specific content created.

Brands like Mini should know this. If they give ideas to people with no wear to start, then it is useless. The picture stops there and without the content to keep it going, it dies. The top picture illustrates this.

Mini should ask itself what the picture is suppose to generate. Eyeballs, likes or Clicks?

epicfailcontent

  • There is no URL to lead to a content page but the picture entices you.
  • The introduction creates a expectation that you can get a custom job.
  • It ends with a question, “how would you customise your MINI” without even telling people how it can be done.

This is why brands must have partners.

For the above Mini campaign, it makes sense for Mini to partner Avery Dennison for car related vinyl wraps or Dupont Standox for a full custom paint job.

Once the content is created, both Avery Dennison and Mini can share in the Facebook post, giving the content a longer life span instead of a one off, emotional Like on a page. Facebook isn’t Instagram and vice versa. If your goal is to get people to like the image, then it is in the wrong place. The FB Page algorithm has already killed it for you whereas for Instagram, there is still a chance of getting unpaid eyeballs if the person is already following your Instagram page.

The Difference in Gaining Followers versus Boosting Post

Thanks to the money grubbing ways of Zuckerberg, you have to differentiate between paying for new followers or just reaching out to existing followers.

Reaching out to existing followers of your FB page is through boosting your Post, while gaining new followers is like putting up Ads for your Page to attract new followers. Both are very different and you should never confuse the two.

tumblr_npgq2vVbWb1sp8304o1_500

Boosting a page is crucial if you want to get content out to the open for all to see. But gaining followers is just the act of getting people to Like your page, and hopefully in the process, get them to subscribe to ALL your notifications. This is secretly hidden away within the Like button and by people who Like your Page doesn’t mean they will get all your notification on content. This is a secret that Facebook doesn’t want to share with you. If you knew how many were subscribed to your Content notifications, you won’t be paying FB to show it to your followers.

This is why it is important for Brands to reward followers with physical items. It could be a keychain, a unique sticker or even a goodie bag.

 

Good Content means a Long Shelf Life

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAStAAAAJGVmMWM5NjRhLWM3NDctNDVmNy1iNjk2LTY4NTg0ZTgzOTYwMA

 

In difficult economic environments, the first thing big brand budgets get cut are those in advertising. It makes sense because like brand advertising, no one is going to notice when the economy faces difficulties. Selling to a exhausted market is like selling ice boxes to eskimos. This is where meaningful content comes in because of its long tail nature.

Useful content gets recycled and used for a very long time. And for Facebook post, this is perfect. It is a slow burn process. Since Facebook algorithms work in the way that you only pay for what you are getting, it makes perfect sense to engage people with such post if you don’t intend to pay for them.

What’s more I am all for featuring unique content.

People are not going to be grateful if the SAME content they see appears in their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds. This is another bad habit that Brands do partake in.

For the follower, what good is it to follow your favourite brand page on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram when they see the same stuff all the time? Makes no sense. Followers could just subscribe to just one and leave the rest out. But here, you need them to follow you because….you have unique content for each social stream.

On Facebook alone, you need to have at least 35 content Likes or Comment Engagements before Facebook gives you another 1 percent organic (unpaid) reach. This is a tough proposition.

So when it comes to a bull market, advertise. In a bear market, you create content with a long shelf life. That way, you brand stays in shape for the long haul and when the bulls come around again, you have your long tail content to thank. People will remember the brand and that’s what counts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epic Fails in Social Media Content Marketing

gino-selva-to-asher-elran2

There was a time when Content for Social Media Management platforms like Buffer, Hootsuite and even Klout made sense in its hey day but not anymore.

The amount of effort (unpaid) that goes into creating content and then having no eyeballs to appreciate them is a reality we all have to deal with some day. You now have to get on board with all social platforms, be online 24/7 to answer queries and find the time to manage your real business while at it? That’s true too. Forget the hired hand who blogs for you. He won’t do it for free so that in itself is a cost factor.

All social media platforms will give away some freebies but these freebies do not always justify the effort you put into creating content for your followers.

Your efforts are bound to fail if you don’t want to understand that content marketing is like any other advertising or advertorial campaign that is backed up with plenty of ad spend. Here’s why.

Facebook Organic Reach is a Costly affair

Facebook is like the high class hooker from New York. If you don’t have the money then there is no honey. Social Media Management platform gurus will always tell you that you have to decide on your objective and strategy for Facebook but NEVER tell you that you need to budget lots of cash for this effort.

Yes, creating content takes effort. But signing up to a Social Media Management platform is not going to get you the eyeballs you need for branding of conversion success. The platforms cautiously omit telling you this as they want you to take the bait, hook, line and sinker before you realize that your budget isn’t enough for a year long campaign. How much does it cost? Let’s assume you are doing this on your own for a small business, spend probably US$100 a week on promoted post to your followers on Twitter and Facebook. That’s US$400 a month, and let’s throw in that package from Hootsuite, which at the lowest is US$120 a year. That’s about US$5,000 a year, excluding the cost of a hosted site. And this is just for a a small business. Let’s factor in a 3 fold ROI to justify that return on investment. You need to pull in US$15,000 in revenue returns to your small business to spend that sort of cash.

Facebook has zero organic reach. Twitter won’t give you the time of day too if you are not going to pay so signing up for a promoted tweet is a must.

People who start on Facebook do not understand that each post cost them money to show to your followers. These are the same blokes who liked you page in the past but come back to play candy crush with their online pals on Facebook. Do they notice the notifications on their menu? Nope. So the best way to reach them is to force feed a post onto their timeline.

Here is how Facebook wants your moolah.

Facebook-Power-Of-Advertising-Header

Every FB post (unpaid) to your followers will yield roughly 1 percent reach. That means if you have 1000 followers, you post will reach about 10 people per 1000 followers. To get your post on all their timelines, you have to spend money. Lots of it…and this is just to build awareness.

All FB post to your page is best suited for branding and awareness building. It does not help you get more followers. To get more followers, you need to promote your page which is actually a subset of their advertising master plan. You have to advertise either on the timeline or on the sidebar [sidebar advertising isn’t available on mobile platform].

If you are interested in a straight out conversion from your advertising budget, you need to advertise to a regional or country specific audience. This is where you measure ad spend versus return on investment (ROI).

In old world advertising terms, if you spend US$100, you should get at least US$300 return in investment (3 fold ROI). This unfortunately doesn’t quite gel these days in any social media marketing plans if you take into account the money you have to spend on FB or Twitter, and at the same time sign up with a Social Media Marketing Platform [at a cost of over US$120 to US$600 a year depending your requirement]. So once you go down this path, you have to take into consideration the amount of money you have already spent without even going into the advertising details of each social media platform.

Facebook is not responsible for the quality of eyeballs you get on their platform. In the old world advertising, you advertise with a magazine like Tatler or Monocle because the people who read it are…well, are your specific target audience who would buy a whole wine cellar as a hobby. That means these eyeballs command a premium if you advertise with them. FB and Twitter is by no means a quality platform as any Tom, Dick or Harry can start multiple profiles as seen in the Click Farm business. Instead, you are given a choice of location, target age and probably some of their more fanciful hobbies as a potential audience profile.

Getting followers for you blog, Pinterest board, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter can be done in only two ways. The paid way is to get people to click a link to your content and become a follower. The other is the splatter method.

The splatter method is when you follow people to get them to follow you back. It is like a follow for follow tag currently popular with some folks hoping to break into to the social circles. I call this a splatter method because you have no idea who you are following most of the time, except maybe that they like what you like or live within the same locality as you do. This is not quality advertising for your content as people who have similar interest as you do may not live within a 1000 miles from you. So unless you are running a brand awareness campaign, or offer online shopping, chances are those post will be ignored. But all this takes effort on your end to search and add them.

Videos give you Better Reach on Facebook

Here is another clue. Video is the next big thing on FB. They have even tried to introduce self streaming videos to the annoyance of mobile users.

Posting videos to your FB page will automatically give you a 5 percent reach as compared to a link or text post. So for every 1000 followers, you have a chance to reach 50 of them for free. You want more eyeballs? Sign up for their Premium Video Ads for ROI.

facebook-launches-premium-video-ads

But before you say it’s a good deal, let me ask you, how much time and effort did you spend on shooting, editing and planning for that short video? Is 50 eyeballs enough to satisfy that need? Go figure and write Santa a note about getting some Facebook credits for next Christmas.

Twitter is no different than Facebook

Yes, unfortunately that is true. You pay for what you get and in the end, you just gotta justify your ad spend. Twitter’s organic reach is hovering at an all time low. It just fails to suck up those eyeballs and convert that into measurable ROI.

twitter-analytics-tweet

That’s why these folks are betting big on ‘live’ streaming since that is a buzzword they can still use to justify their dollar denominated advertising plan. Vine videos haven’t taken off in a big way except with college kids and people with too much time on their hands. Instagram has video to further add to the basket of eyeballs wanting moving images and finally, there is live video which could be the future for Twitter on Periscope.

Tumblr isn’t for Everyone

The young of heart may be your next target niche but no one told you that Tumblr is still a very American centric social and content discovery platform. You are not going to reach out to that same age group in Japan, Korea or for that matter Vietnam using Tumblr.

Even though Tumblr maybe way better than WordPress.com in some ways but in the end, you still have to pay to get discovered.

Ever since Yahoo bought them out in May of 2013, featured ads has been appearing in user’s content stream. This is both good and bad news.

The good part is that hashtags can still be used a strategy to find your future or potential customers and generate the sort of brand awareness you need to start. However if you want a straight cut ROI on your ad spend. You probably have a better deal signing up with Tumblr to show those ads.

Pinterest is Instagram on Steroids

Let’s face it. Starting a board on Pinterest is a time consuming affair. You can either curate or create content for each board. Who gets to see these boards? Only fellow users who are out to get more pins.

Instagram vs Pinterest-resized-600

Since Pinterest is image centric. You can’t help but draw similarities between them and Instagram. Both require User inputs and that’s you I am pointing at.

Both work the same way and since each board is in itself the description of the pins, you can’t help but think that the board itself is a hashtag of sorts to categorize content.

Pinterest also has promoted pins, and with it an advertising plan to suit your target audience. The same can be said of Instagram when they started to introduce promoted content (advertise content) to specific region of users.

There is no such thing as a Free Lunch

I like to call social media campaigns as a Freemium Advertising Gateway as you have to ante up on those dollars to find some sort of success.

d87f7c6aaee276d2_Google-Plus.xxxlarge

The only free social platform that is devoid of any advertising right now is Google+. That’s because Google has much grander ambitions than to charge you for your post as they have the search engine to back that all up.

Getting a ROI on investment on any social media marketing campaign will cost you money. Don’t think it is cheap as even Americans feel it is far too expensive.

If you can spend the time to crate content but can’t spend the money to promote it, you are doomed. At every level, you cannot think for one moment you are getting a free lunch. That’s why Social media has become a Freemium platform. Once the social media networks hooks you, they hope you get dragged under the water with their advertising masterplan.

Success in any business can only be measured by ROI. How much you aim to get out of it in the end to sustain your business empire is crucial. It’s not just about eyeballs but quality eyeballs. This sad fact, unfortunately, is lost in translation as one grabs onto social media…thinking it was the elusive pot of gold to their online success.

Start with a Web Presence

A web presence is a web site. If you haven’t got the time of day to do one then social media marketing isn’t for you. There are plenty of free hosting sites which can of course establish your de facto web presence. My own recommendation is strikingly.com, which gives you a free web page for your product, company, portfolio in the simplest design terms. It has easy to use templates and you just key in the text and fill in the pictures. I will give you my reasons why this should be the first step towards establishing your own web presence first before any social media marketing can take place, but you already know that having an actual web site speaks volumes about your online dedication. So take the first step. Start your web presence with a site before attempting social media.

Blackhat Tactics of Using Instagram

tumblr_npgq2vVbWb1sp8304o1_500

You would have heard by now that Instagram is open for advertising. Mom and Pop stores are all ready to take the plunge but the folks at Instagram isn’t opening a rate card for advertisers when they said they were taking promotions. Why?

How User Experience is important to the User

Facebook is a good example of something that is spinning out of control when it comes to advertising and promotions. Every nook and corner is being used to show you some advertising and they now appear on your mobile feed as well. That is probably one reason why the app got so bloated that they had to take out the Messenger functions and put it into a separate app.

tumblr_inline_my161xHyrO1s1gyup

Instagram will stand to lose users if there is an advert appearing in your feed all the way. This is why they are only negotiating with big brands with between US$500,000 to US$1 million to spend monthly on Instagram advertising.

This sort of advertising will appear in your Instagram photo feed as a ‘sponsored post’. So if you suddenly are seeing Ben & Jerry’s adverts in your photo stream, hey, you probably used the hashtag #icecream a little too often.

Besides, Instagram sponsored post are location targeted. So if your Ukrainian hryvnia can’t buy enough dollars for an Instagram campaign, what are you gonna do?

Black Hat Techniques

There are only a few which you can take advantage of. The reason is simple, you can’t post active URL links unless it is part of your profile. So that limits the amount of spamming, but spamming can still happen.

First, you need to have an active account where you post a regular feed. Don’t be lazy on this as people who eventually follow you want to know if you are one of those fly by night entities where they post a whole load of stuff for one day and then silence is all they hear. The rest of the work is detailed down here.

#1 Use the Follow4follow Method to grow your followers

#follow4follow

Getting followers without paying for them is very hard. What’s more it makes no sense paying for fake followers as they don’t convert to anything meaningful.

So get down to the basics, search for hashtags of things which are related to your business. If you are an online shop, so much the better as the world is your oyster. You can start adding people from all over the world. Add the #follow4follow or #followback tag. This will help you get even more people. Once you have those #f4f fans, you can grow it even more by going through their own followers to add them to your account.

This is a lot of leg work but that’s what you have to do when you don’t have a million dollars to spend on Instagram advertising.

#2 Use location tags to find followers to add follow

This is a little more tricky but it can be done. Look out for tags of locations within your sphere of business. If you live in a city like NYC then look out for #nyc or #newyork. Problem with this method is that there are a lot of cities in the US which have similar names to cities in Europe. So do your homework, add those by checking their feed using Iconosquare. This site lets you see stuff on their feed and know the relevance. If that person is just visiting a place of your business sphere, chances are you have to add them to find out if they would be interested in coming back.

location

Restaurants, cafes and even retail shops should use this method to best optimize their reach without having to pay a cent.

#3 Use that one link available to you in your Profile

Think of this as your one phone call while in jail. Nothing else matters. So think very hard on where you want this to lead.

insta

If you had to put a link that says something about your business or service? Will that be an impressive site that you spent time on? Or just another template website to bore the hell out of people? Think very carefully about this as people do not want to click on a link to a sales pitch.

#4 Use hashtags to find followers of similar Interest

If you sell waffles, of course you would follow people who post waffle pictures. Engage them if you like, and hopefully they will return a favor.

location-1

For example, I post pictures of drones used in aerial photography and Instagram users who use that hashtag often will follow you base on that. This is also where the ball gets rolling and as long as you add more, then people will follow you back in kind as you have the same interest.

This can also be a branding exercise, if say you are pushing out your own special brand of toys or for that matter drone related accessories. Just with those drone pictures alone, I have people asking me questions on where to buy them or if I can sell them one. Now that’s what I call a sales lead without even trying very hard.

#5 Bait your comments to an Instagram Feed

This is the last trick in the book. People know that user accounts are clickable. What you do is to insert a secondary Instagram account that is nothing more than your product catalog. Link baiting is something Instagram cannot avoid as these are they are users. Some companies create entire catalogs on Instagram, This was how Ikea for Russia created the catalog.

trickinstagram

By citing the @useraccount in the comment section of a post to any of your followers, you are actually baiting them to come take a look. This eyeball method is what you basically need to optimize traffic. Sometimes you can follow a celebrity and do the same thing….it’s called link baiting by Facebook, and by posting something like that on a celebrity who has a million followers, you could slide your product catalog in on the sly.

The Last Frontier of Social Media

Social media campaigns and marketing is a lot of work. Do not think for one moment that you can spare the dime and do the time. Many will eventually give up because it is a full time affair posting, creating and crafting content for Instagram.

Instagram-Shipping-Box-icon

However Instagram is relatively free of interference from its owners, Facebook. There are certain blocked hashtags you can’t use on Instagram but you can always get around this to find similar minded users by browsing their feed. This manual method of identifying of customers is what builds your followers. And once you do that, you can engage with them directly.

The outright sales pitch is probably not very useful. You can of course use Instagram for branding as well. Contest wise, it’s less visible as the web site Iconosquare is the only place that let’s users engage with brands provided they bother to user the site to log in.

Right now, there are no real third party apps which can access Instagram APIs fully on a mobile app. Some allow you to browse your feed but not manage your post. It is probably this stage of Instagram which is not yet regulated makes it a real challenge for mass market spammers.

The idea behind the instagram black hat strategies is not about spamming but chosing your content to market to like minded folks. This, takes time and the rewarding part is seeing your content post do its magic without having to part with a million dollars for Instagram advertising.

Social Media through Click Farms

facebook-search-feature

I don’t really care for likes but for some strange reason, that seems to be the social media metric that everyone uses these days to calculate a ROI on advertising investment. So the more people who like you or follow you, that is suppose to translate to some kind of online credibility, even fame possibly.

Social Media Celebrity-hood

When a celebrity goes social, they have thousands if not millions of followers. Often, these so called social media accounts are professionally crafted by PR spin doctors hired by the celebrity to manage his or her online persona. These Spin doctors have only one goal, that is to gain as many followers as possible for the client as a way to measure their success. No doubt it might be a shallow way to measure your popularity but hey, it’s the age of the Internet.

Since then it has been de rigueur for online entities to follow suit and have as many followers as possible. This created a black hat business for those who just wanted to show off and in time, allowed them to profit from such vanity exercises. Today, it has become a booming business in third world countries such as India and Indonesia which sells followers for as little as US$600 for 1 million likes.

Even today, we talk about Leo Messi having 76 million followers on Facebook, which makes you wonder if any of them were bogus in the first place. Even the US State Department has bought ‘likes’ from Click Farms so why not you?

Daze of the Click Farms

The last couple of months researching this topic has yielded much clues on how they work. You heard of people doing data entry work at home and getting paid for it? Well that’s actually one of the methods. These folks with a computer and internet access will sign up with one of these social media provocateurs who in turn get them to manage hundreds if not thousands of social media profiles on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram.

Each Click Farm may have up to a few hundred real people working for them and in these will control up to a million fake accounts.

The age of Online Celebrity Fame

Though illegal in the eyes of social media platforms, there are some benefits for would be businesses or professionals. Think for a moment about the benefits of showing a potential client your own FB or Twitter accounts with half a millions followers. Would the client accuse you of faking the numbers? Of course not. Then you throw up a low ball by showing your nearest competitor who provides a much smaller number of followers and likes on post and the client will be sold on you.

This low ball technique works. The only way you get discovered is when you stop paying the click farms to like your post and follow you and you’d see 100K followers disappear within a night.

Online fame can be bought. So let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that such marketing technique has karmic consequences. Like any scheming adulteress, your aim is not to get caught in the act and as long as you cover your tracks well, you will never be found out.

Click farming is a US$260 million Industry

Click farms are evolving fast. Today, it might only be clicks through third world countries but tomorrow, these same clicks can be performed via a VPN to show it originating from a developed country. Clicks farms are now targeting all social media platforms as they become magnets for entities seeking online fame. They cost less than what you’d pay FB or Twitter to boost your post and these folks can also be paid to like your post as well…something which FB, Twitter or Instagram can’t do.

Once you have a million likes, you are in the mile high club. Selling yourself as a professional will be so much easier this way. What’s more, click farms can also like your video post on YouTube, click on banner advertisements on your video and earn you money.

Abusing the System

Sometimes you have to ask yourself why social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter don’t do nearly as enough to wipe out the click farm business. Well, they are all part of the eco-system and Facebook knows this only too well. Wiping out these so called fake accounts is going to be difficult because they are active. Even when they can be traced to a single IP address, Facebook just cannot wipe out a chunk of their daily active user base overnight. That would cause a stock market crash. Imagine if Facebook closed down 100 million accounts overnight. You can already see Wall Street junking the stock.

Abusing the social media system will continue. There is no overnight hang over cure. They can periodically close social media accounts that are not active or are seemingly ‘spammy’ but to close an active account from a click farm is to cut one’s nose to spite the face.

Benefits of using Click Farms

This is a tricky issue but first let’s look at the issues rationally.

Building your Online Clout

 The black hat technique to gain huge number of followers is still the only way outsiders measure your fame and popularity, without it, you’re dead in the water. You cannot trust FB alone to do this for you as they have gotten so massively expensive over the years that it would be so much cheaper to pay a click farm to both follow you and like your post. This gives the impression of having a genuine number of followers even though it’s only 10 guys working out of a cyber cafe in Dhaka who happen to be your 10000 followers. Having a large following has its benefits. You look more presentable when approaching brands for endorsement and if you happen to produce good content, freebies will start arriving on your doorstep. This could be the crucial step towards building your online fame and fortune.

Cheaper and more effective than Legal methods

Frankly, you could pay a thousand bucks to Facebook to have people like your page but the results are far from satisfactory. Part of the problem is that once you have a targeted a specific audience profile, FB can never promise you 10,000 likes or followers for a thousand bucks. FB, Twitter or even Instagram can never guarantee that sort of metrics even if you kept throwing money at them. This also means you can’t have the thousands of followers based on a specific amount of money spent, say US$.50 cents per Like. It is these sort of guarantee that a click farm can give you that keeps you going back to them. If you loosen the band for target audiences to like your page, then why bother going legit? It’s far cheaper to hire a Click farm to give you that amount of followers in the shortest amount of time possible than to rely on Facebook ads.

Remember your cost of investment in the two before embarking on a ROI cost evaluation. Click farming is only for building online reputation and has nothing to do with generating quality leads or business leads.

For example, you have 10,000 fake followers on your Page, and with it, you want to gain 100 real followers from a targeted locality or which maybe only 10 will translate into real customers, then you have to do the maths for this to see the cost of it all. Your real gain is based on those 10 customers and not 10,000 Click farmers that are plowing your site. If the means justifies the end then you should continue doing it. However if that doesn’t work. I think it is time you cut your losses and invest that in something else.

Wear your Facebook page like a vanity license plate. It can do wonders to your ego but you still need to milk those dollars from a paying customer. That said, no one said this was going to be cheap.

 

 

Making the move to Instagram

InstagramInfographic1

Now that we have all written off Facebook for content and marketing engagement, we have to find another content outlet to try spice things up. Instagram at the moment is trying to rev its engine up a bit by going more exploratory and in the process suggest new ways for people to follow like minded post from Instagram users. This is an interesting move as it is generally regarded as the next step towards advertising and promotional ad space. Instagram’s growth has been phenomenal. Look at the stats published so far and you know what I mean.

instatis

So before Instagram gets into the same Facebook act, by forcing you to advertise to get seen, there is no better way to ride the wave than now.

How to Ride the Wave for Free

I peered into my crystal ball and have seen the future. Instagram will soon have its algorithm and that means you are going to have to fight to get noticed but until then, here are some rules to follow.

Encourage User Generated Content

In any B2C business, UGC is the best way forward. They are your ambassadors, and you don’t have to do the heavy lifting. Now as a business owner, when was the last time you thought of your customer’s satisfaction and UGC? How many times have you come across a boutique that supports or encourages UGC? Or for that matter a retailer that was UGC friendly? Forget the luxury goods store that protects the design of it products. It won’t work there coz they charge so much for something which can be copied for a fraction of the cost, hence the ‘no photography’ rule but what about general retailers who want to make a difference? Allowing your customers to browse, try things out and even take a selfie when trying an outfit is going to generate eyeballs and in the process generate awareness and branding. Restaurants and cafes already offer free WIFI for customers, and this makes for an easy check-in and free advertising to their friends who will come by.

Make use of the 15 Seconds of Fame on Video

If you want to create interesting content on your own, then try posting a video. 15 seconds is pretty easy and if you have an app like MeiPai, which is mentioned in another of my blogs on video apps. There are plenty to choose from and some like MeiPai even offers auto editing to make your job easier.

Instagram allows for Editing in Post

Another new feature from Instagram this time, you can edit all your earlier post without having to worry about what you left out the last time. Previously, you had to delete the post and repost them. Well not anymore.

IGeditThis means you can link your post to your G+ site, webpage or FB Pages (if you haven’t already dumped it) on a later date, or for that matter add in your twitter links. We all know that sometimes when you generate a shortlink, the process becomes cumbersome on mobile.

Location data can also be edited. So if you moved shop for some reason and need to re-edit all your older post, you can do so now. Having a check-in location gives your business credibility. So remember to make use of the new editing feature to stay current.

Achieving Business Succes in Instagram

There are plenty of competing platforms when it comes to video and image post. For example, in Latin America, the de facto choice is Mobli. While for China, Instagram is still blocked so you only have access to Storycam, which is an app from the same folks who brought you WeChat.

All of these apps have cross posting capabilities so you can of course post to more than one social account or for that matter duplicate the post in different social account.

Instagram will in the future change its algorithm to match that of Facebook. Until that time happens, you better start building your audience on Instagram now.

 

 

 

Facebook Pages is officially targeting Social Media Marketing Platforms for a Take Down

Social-Media-Marketing

Facebook is at it again, taking another shot at business pages by destroying your Social DNA. In recent past, Facebook has messed around with its new algorithm to make it more difficult for business pages to build their EdgeRank or Social DNA. The latest blow comes in the form of two new rules which will take down your content development and marketing efforts. In its latest post on the changes, Facebook engineers has doubled down on two critical factors that make up your EdgeRank.

EdgeRank

.

Like-baiting

“Like-baiting” is when a post explicitly asks News Feed readers to like, comment or share the post in order to get additional distribution beyond what the post would normally receive.

People often respond to posts asking them to take an action, and this means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed. However, when we survey people and ask them to rate the quality of these stories, they report that like-baiting stories are, on average, 15% less relevant than other stories with a comparable number of likes, comments and shares. Over time, these stories lead to a less enjoyable experience of Facebook since they drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.

The improvement we are making today better detects these stories and helps ensure that they are not shown more prominently in News Feed than more relevant stories from friends and other Pages. This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.

Like-baiting-screenshot

Frequently Circulated Content

People and Pages on Facebook frequently reshare great content, but people tell us there are occasionally instances where photos or videos are uploaded to Facebook over and over again.  We’ve found that people tend to find these instances of repeated content less relevant, and are more likely to complain about the Pages that frequently post them.  We are improving News Feed to de-emphasize these Pages, and our early testing shows that this change causes people to hide 10% fewer stories from Pages overall.

What’s clear now is that Facebook is clearly on the war path with Content Marketing Platforms such as Hootsuite, Buffer and a host of Social Media Marketing platforms which are taking away advertising dollars away from Facebook. If you post often, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will get featured. And if for some reason the same picture gets shared, chances are it won’t be shown.

Where is my Social DNA dude?

For Facebook Pages,  your Social DNA or EdgeRank needs these two the most. First, let’s examine Like-baiting. This is what makes your content relevant where you can reach out to an organic audience. People who have never heard of you will hear of you from their friends who repost and comment on your content.

Your content is worth sharing, that sounds cool but Facebook doesn’t want that anymore. Instead, any form of Like-baiting will be taken down in the Newsfeed Algorithm. Regardless of what they tell you that your Pages post are safe, there is no denying that Facebook’s new newsfeed content algorithm will affect you. First, what is a genuine post and what is not? Can the new algorithm decide on such a difference? If you were a bakery making a new line of cakes and wanted your audience to like them, would that constitute like-baiting? What about a Pages contest that ask you to like and share it with your friends? Is this illegal now?

Here, your social engagement will be nullified and there is no Content Marketing platform in the world that will save you from this. Good content gets shared. Engaging content gets commented on. Now that this is out the window for you, Facebook wants you to promote your newsfeed content for a better reach with $$$!

spamfb

spamming a popular post is possibly the only way you can get someone to notice

Frequently Curated Content is probably the best way to go viral. Different people who like your video will post in their own language. This localized type of sharing is what creates a bigger reach for content. Sometimes people repeat the content that you posted because Facebook has HIDDEN it from the newsfeed! Your friends never saw what you posted earlier and for that, it messes with the content newsfeed to ensure the same content won’t get seen unless of course you boost the post. This also means Facebook is demanding that you promote your post in your newsfeed by paying for it to be seen!

Facebook is all about Money

Social Media Marketing platforms are now taking a severe hit. Sad but true, you have no choice but to ante up on those Facebook credits just to stay ahead of the game. Even services like Hootsuite will be taken down a few notches. What use is your content marketing and management efforts when the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm doesn’t play nice with your content? You can share something that doesn’t show up on your fan’s timelines and even if you do, there is a good chance that it will be limited to just a handful of fans and not the broader fan base. Facebook does not tell you your organic reach per post.

Facebook has come out to say they recognize the big brand names. So if you have a smaller competing brand, chance are you don’t stand a chance. A big brand can throw a hundred thousand into a campaign and you miserly $100 isn’t going to get you a comment. The reach of an average Business Page post is in the ballpark of 8%. This means only 8 out of 100 people will see your post. The numbers go up once you ante up by paying Facebook to promote that post you made. More money means more fans will see the post.

What Brands does the Facebook Algorithm recognizes?

Based on current observations, the brands that enjoy a wider reach will be those like Musicians, bands, long dead book authors and team sports. Facebook prioritizes newsfeed items based on your hobbies and interest. As a new brand owner, you won’t enjoy these privileges.

Social engagement cost time and money. Content development cost money too. But now with Facebook jumping queue and coming to you with an outstretched hand asking for some dough, will you be able to turn them down?

What it Means for You?

Less casual posting, more money into content development. Save your ammo for the best content to post instead of just staying within eyeball reach. Create an online strategy for engagement to build and audience and , have a budget for Facebook promotions because you are going to need it! Set aside a few hundred dollars at least. US$300 is a good start and see where it goes. If that fails to make a dent, chances are you’re better off with Twitter, Pinterest, G+ and Instagram.

Remember that getting a LIKE for you Page isn’t going to generate a dime in ROI. That’s overly optimistic. You need to feed this repeatedly with each post. The budget for each content posted and the ballpark should be US$8 for those with 1,000 and up to US$50 for 5,000 fans or followers. This is the burn rate you have to live with. When you promote a post, Facebook determines this rate automatically and tells you to double down on those credit card details. There are no returns for this sort of investments except to build your fan base. A paid reach has a higher chance of success for any content that elicits a response from your followers.

Build up your EdgeRank or Social DNA from there and as you reach the optimum goal of say 10,000 fans. Having a bigger fan base is far too expensive to support unless you got plenty of money in the bank for Zuckerberg Inc. This means you need to develop loyal customers to your service quickly with each post and not carpet bomb the newsfeed with curated content. Curated content has very little room to outmaneuver the newsfeed algorithm. Once people see these and don’t react to it, your content will be wasted, this also creates bad Social DNA. You need to have reactions and comments in all your post to get a boosted EdgeRank. All this takes time and you can’t waste it on curated content. If you are going to put money into developing engaging content, do it with conviction. Those cheap stunts are not going to return any eyeballs and with the clock ticking on the time decay algorithm, chances are the post will be forgotten.

Online businesses advertising their latest wares on Facebook pages will have to pay up to get the newsfeed noticed. You can get around this by asking your followers and fans to subscribe to your Twitter or Instagram feed for updates. Reward them for following you. Facebook alone isn’t viable anymore.

edgerank

What Makes up your Social DNA on Facebook, the EdgeRank