Microsoft fluffs its Content App Sprightly

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If April came early, this would have been a nice joke. Microsoft released a content creation app called Sprightly on the Google Play store.

Initially I was mildly surprised that Microsoft Garage would incubate the concept for this app and release it as it is.

Now, it is billed as a really a tool for creating flyers, pricelist, catalog and eCards.

After I took it for a spin, I didn’t know what to say. I had to drown myself in absinthe and feast on rotted cheese to clear the memory of that experience.

I do not know what to say.

Microsoft isn’t the most creative company in the world. After a string of misses, they still do not understand what people want. Which makes me wonder if they are at all serious about content creation.

These are the folks who set the bar for Microsoft Office. Since then, they have wallowed in the mud, stepped on a few landmines and followed a sure path down hill.

Real World Applications

Why is Sprightly so bad?

Let’s say you wanted to create a catalog, of say four items to showcase on your instagram or Facebook page. The first thing you will realize is that you have no control over the cropping of your images, you have to crop your photo to the correct shape before using it on the template.

There are no tools to beautify the image either. So if you didn’t enhance your photo before you took it, you are pretty much fucked.

Then you have no creative control over the fonts used. It is as if the 21st century never happened. It has only ONE font option and you can have any color for that font as long as it is black.

Then you have the sad lack of creative layout for template choices.

I know. Microsoft is as creative as a culinary chef from McDonalds. They recycle ideas from the last century and hope you don’t notice but no one told them they got found out.

Content is all about Catching your Eye

This is where Microsoft gets it all wrong. By coming out with a vanilla grey Sprightly app, they think you should communicate in black and white.

The creative option is as rigid as adamantium. You can’t add borders, or for that matter use a different paper color. It is also is unable to make things attractive to the eye with creatively curated fonts.

All you do with the Sprightly app is to drop in a picture, fill in the descriptions and maybe the price and leave it at that. There is really nothing else you can do with it.

Is it simple to use?

Yes. If all you want is to drop a pix and add a price, yea. But that’s not to say that you can’t do this on other apps.

The multipage feature may sound brilliant but is hardly useful.

The flyer option is dead boring. How would you want an flyer that bores the hell out of people when you send it to them?

I suppose the idea behind this app is to integrate a host of services that Microsoft offers online but this addition is by no means cohesive.

You don’t fetch files from your skydrive or import excel files into your Sprightly document.

Maybe I am being harsh here after all, it is Version 1.0. Who knows what might happen with Version 2.

For now, I think that the app is probably suitable for the more geriatric members of Microsoft  who probably think that dropping a picture and adding a description is probably all you want to do when sending out a sales list or catalog.

As insane as it sounds, they might be right but I can assure you, the rest of us will disagree.

 

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No Brainer Web Presence with Strikingly.com

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I get asked a lot about having web presence and technically speaking, it is one of the most boring and common question that I face.

People often think that for the time spent of Facebook, that should be enough. Well, technically that is a social presence and it’s not entirely the same as having your own website.

A web presence is really about having a website that says it all. It can be for your book, company, service or nanny services in which you provide real hookers for menage a trios outing.

You can call this an online brochure and for those who have no idea on what to do and where to start, there is always those free web sites on blogspot or wordpress.com which caters to your varied content needs.

But many of you do not need a CMS to have a web presence. There are so many alternatives to this, like in the case of wix.com and squarespace virtual real estate packages that come preloaded with templates for you to switch to.

Strikingly Dot Com

I have a site here and don’t pay a dime for it. But my site is my own calling card of sorts. I have test driven a whole load of these other hosting sites in the past and I have to admit, these dudes at strikingly have done a good job. And no, I have not been paid by them to say otherwise.

First, you have those clean templates which you can use for almost any type of site for any web presence requirement. Some are so well done that you’d only find it as a paid CMS template on WordPress.

imac-4e2a6cf4d4f2c2f58f978754e565c9c1Test driving it is free, and you can also have a free site as well so no hidden sign up fees for those who do not know if they would end up liking it.

For those who want to customize their needs to suit, say their books, seminars, portfolios, etc. You have to option of paying for an annual plan which to me, cost as much as you would in setting up a paid hosting service on WordPress.

Strikingly also offers great design options that are also mobile friendly. The templates have improved in time and today, you even have the option of adding a blog space to your site if you so wish.

Not everyone blogs. That much is true.

Some might not have much to say while others will wear you to the bone with their text. To create a successful web presence, it’s a toss between the two but people ultimately are visual creatures.

This is where the Template organization and usage comes to play. If the User Experience (UX) for the site sucks. You can be assured your visitors will opt out faster than they found your site link.

LinkedIn with Strikingly

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Here is another good reason to build your own resume/CV without the confusing and often badly designed UI of LinkedIn.

I am not a fan of LinkedIn because the UX feels cluttered. Even if they sell themselves in a social manner, I never found the value of browsing someone’s LinkedIn file unless I was looking for people to hire.

Strikingly has a auto-import feature that will layout your LinkedIn profile into a proper web portfolio. Just import your profile and key in the missing details. It looks far better than the jumble mess you find in LinkedIn.

Cost Versus Effort

For as little as US$96 a year, you can have your own domain and email forwarding plus 50GB of traffic. Now, ask yourself….how the hell would you exceed 50GB of web traffic unless you are running a porn site?

And let’s not forget about the cost of having a designer or a webmaster of sorts to set up a CMS if you don’t already know how. Strkingly is a snap to set up as its visually designed templates allow that freedom to not hire someone who has better brains than you to set it up.

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For example, to use forms, you have a visual interface to create it. No more having to install a plug-in on the CMS to get it running. Plug-ins will crash and depending on their security compliance code, can let hackers break in. But you wouldn’t know that unless someone told you about it.

Now Squarespace offers you loads more in terms of blog, e-commerce and stuff you probably won’t end up using for the same price. However there is no free ‘site’ option like in the case of Strikingly where you can create micro-sites to link to your own personal web presence.

Visual Content Matters

For me, having a visual web presence is far more important as people normally do not know what to write or say on a web site. I am sure you can pen a few words about what you wish to communicate to your visitors but trust me, having the right pictures to go with the site is all that matters.

The human attention span of the average web surfer is about 100 words. If you don’t hook someone for the next 100 words, he will click the nearest link to a porn site.

Visual marketing plays an important part of that psyche. It has to flow well. Look nice and the colors have to gel too.

A pure white and minimalist template often times do not work (sorry square space but you suck) and people might say that’s the safest option for your pictures to stand out. Going one up the ladder would be to be attractive than to be safe. How a UX is designed becomes important if you want to hold those eyeballs.

People on the Internet have a truckload of choices in which to spend their time on. Trying to be Zen in your layout just isn’t one of them unless they suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder.

So start your web presence in baby steps. I know you hate to jump in and realize that you can’t swim. That’s how it happens sometimes so you have been warned. To build your own site with strikingly, start here.

Hidden Secrets of Facebook Organic Reach Algorithms

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For the last 12 months, I have been working on proving some of the theories on Facebook’s Page algorithm reach and I think it is time to unveil them.

In 2015, Facebook organic reach was pegged at about 2 percent. It is a ballpark. So how this is measured is pretty simple. If you have 1000 followers on your FB Page, that means only 2 percent of them will get shown your post. This is in all technicality a penalty to get you to ante up on some advertising credits.

Facebook advertising is like a blackhole that will suck up all your cash without giving you the ROI you’d expect. But at the same time, some Facebook pundits want to prove that you can beat the low organic reach on Pages with a few tips and tricks, many of which don’t actually work.

In some of my previous post, the only ones that are true so far are the following:-

  • Short Videos uploaded to Facebook increase organic reach by 4 percent
  • Post that generate comment and sharing generates 3 to 4 percent increases
  • Facebook organic reach for non paying post tops out at 1 percent of your followers
  • Followers will see your post more often only if they subscribe to your notifications

These are the rules so far that has brought results. And here are the rest that has to be dispelled before you hit that steep incline and fall off a cliff.

Posting Often on your Page will generate better Organic Reach

False. This is where the Facebook algorithm kicks in. It gets the idea that you want to reach more people and you will incur a penalty for this. It starts with one post every few days, two at most for a week. Anymore and the penalty kicks in. This penalty reduces the visibility of your post to your followers.

Posting at Odd Hours so that your post will appear on your Follower’s Feeds

False. I have scheduled post to reach people at odd hours of the morning and the organic reach fell off a cliff. What I did was to schedule some news post during the morning hours between 1am to 6am, and did this every two hours. It didn’t work as the Facebook algorithm penalty kicks in once they detect you are posting more and more often.

Boosting your post with a paid fee will generate Better Organic Reach

False as the amount of budget you have allocated is dependent on the amount of followers. I now owe Facebook 20 bucks for testing a few post to see if they grow organically within a 935+ strong followers of my page. What happens when you boost a post is that more of your followers who have not turned on their notifications from your page will see them, how much more? It is about 1 to 3 percent more over the 2 percent average. This means if you have 50 dollars to spend, that would only be for one post served up for about 100 followers.

So if you multiply the number of followers you have just to maintain that 80 percent average for 1000 followers, you have to be spending big bucks for boosting each post. The catch here is that the moment you pay Facebook to boost your post, you don’t have to do anything but sit back and see the organic reach grow. This is only for ONE chosen post so it’s not cumulative for all other post.

Difference between Organic Reach and Organic Growth

Organic reach refers to post that you make to your own FB page that is viewed by your followers which you did not pay Facebook to show on their timeline. Organic growth however is about the followers you gain for you FB page which you didn’t pay for.

Organic growth during the test period conducted only improved by about 3 people, meaning it is minuscule for a Page with 930 followers. So that’s less than 1 percent, so with it you can assume that organic growth is dead.

Organic views is limited to 2 percent by default for post you make every two days. Make anymore than that and that, then you will be penalized by Facebook. This 2 percent organic reach is free to you…but you got to earn it if you want that 2 percent reach per say. So if you want more, then you gotta pay for the eyeballs.

What’s the Best you can do for Organic POST Reach?

Here’s my take on it. If you post often like three to four times a day, your organic reach falls below 1 percent of your total followers. This means you’d be hitting around 0.3 or 0.1 percent of the total crowd. So NEVER post often. In fact, it is better to stagger your post to a maximum of 2 a week. This is where the Facebook algorithm gets worried and start to knock on your door to see if you’re still alive. 

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It is a chicken or egg issue when it comes to getting your post served up to your followers and having them liking it in the process. If your followers do not see your post, then your post becomes irrelevant. Don’t even hope to see your page promoted to those outside your followers unless you paid for it.

You can spend hours crafting a post but when it doesn’t get liked by your followers, then it gets pulled.

However you still get your 2 percent organic within a 24 hour cycle. 

Using Comments to maximize a 2 percent reach in 24 hours

This apparently works but it takes a lot of work and is not worth you time. During my test period of 4 weeks, you need to show that you are actively posting comments on other Pages with your own FB Page’s altered ego or persona.

For example, if you are the owner of a page, start to comment as your FB Page identity in all your post. The Facebook algorithm assumes that comments that get Liked by others are a form of engagement and that means your FB post will be shown to more of your followers all for free.

Facebook assumes that as long as you did not pay for a reach, it will award you with a 2 percent organic reach as long as you get an average of 35 Likes for your posted comments in ONE day.

Wow, 35 post comments Likes per day. And this is only to extend your organic reach to the maximum allowable 2 percent a day…consistently. Facebook will NOT give you any more organic reach for your post above 2 percent a day unless it was a video post and one that is shared by your followers.

Beating the facebook algorithm on organic reach

Just remember that the Facebook algorithm will give you a two percent maximum organic reach a day provided you are actively commenting and getting those 35 Likes for these comments. If you add more than one post a day, say two…then your two post per day will have to share that 2 percent allowable organic view between them.

This is why you should not post often.

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Conclusion, it’s not worth it

Once you work so hard, curate the best content or by creating them, the organic reach within your own fellowship is going to hover around the 1 percent average in a week without doing anything. For all your older post, there is no limit on how far this growth will grow. Right now, I am see a five week old post gaining over 20 percent organic reach.

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Facebook’s own algorithm only detects engagements and sharing as signs of interest, so if someone indulges your post, chances are they will see more of it. If the majority of us like to sit back and read stuff without lifting a finger to say something, then those post will decline in importance and they won’t be seeing them anymore unless they have subscribe to all notifications from your page.

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This insight is crucial if you are a small business operating in a social media environment. When your page stops engaging others (and I do not mean spamming them with links), you need to work around how to achieve your desired goal within the limited organic bandwidth Facebook allows without paying.

It’s different if you say you want an immediate reach to your followers by advertising say 100 bucks to boost a post. Even then the ROI is subjective since you cannot see who are your paying customers.

Within the Facebook ecosystem, you can already sell directly to your followers but for that to happen, you will need to spend money or in this case, milk that 2 percent organic reach per post a day. In five days, you’d have 10 percent organic reach, in ten days…20 percent. So if you are planning on a month long promotion. You could possibly get 80 percent organic reach using this formula.

So if you are a small business, plan well. Be active with your FB page persona, say the things which gets Liked and in return, Facebook will eventually reward you with the much deserved organic reach without you having to pay for those eyeballs.

Twitter doubles down on UGC with Moments

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One of the conundrums of content development is that social networks don’t own them. Content is mostly user generated and passed around like herpes for what it is worth and when Twitter launched Moments in the USA, it has got to be some mistake.

I have avoided writing about Moments from Twitter for the longest time as I watched the announcement live on Periscope some time back. All I wanted to know is why now?

Twitter is for conversations. It has no content to offer except maybe a link to the content site.

Social conversations that are limited to just 140 characters is probably more Neanderthal than social. What Twitter does well is to give us a voice to reach out to those who have one. We don’t have a voice being a nobody but somebody with fame and influence could be of help.

This is why Moments just doesn’t make sense.

I know how Periscope fits into the whole scheme of things for Twitter and how Vine is half assing its usefulness with those short clips but the point is still Moments is pretty odd. It’s like going to a Mexican restaurant to order Chinese food. People have used social networks like Facebook and G+ for content distribution but when Twitter gets into the act….you sort of question the wisdom behind it.

What Moments is All About

In short, it is trending content on the news. Say that there is a big fire on the East coast of America, and people want to know more about it, that’s probably the one that fits the bill but to curate content for users to have a conversation is really out of place.

Twitter wants to provide the goto content you want to hear about with Moments. It wants your eyeballs and your voice. They want you to retweet about it. It wants you to discuss content in the news, and to that effect curate meaningful content that affects you.

For a start, Moments will have two centers for curation. One each on the East and West coast of America. It is not global as yet and as much as people want that to happen, Twitter prefers not to hire more heads but to focus on getting a UGC algorithm in place so that they don’t have to use a team of people all over the world. Right now, that algorithm isn’t yet working….but the idea behind project lighting is.

So if the news and users are trending a subject, say Elon Musk jumping off the San Francisco bridge to highlight his ailing Tesla car business, the underpinning interest would be decided by the content curators who feel that you should know about this and for some reason talk about it online. Once you do, then they have secured the eyeballs necessary to serve you some ads.

That’s the whole point of it. Moments is integrated right into the Twitter app so there is no need to have a secondary app installed to receive the curated content.

Will Moments work for You?

To be more precise, Moments aims to scrap treading content from news networks and if you are just running a blog, chances are you won’t be featured.

There is no reason to feature some Joe Blow who writes a rant on his blog on a product review. Such content has no merits.

But if you care to troll the news, you would realize that there is a lot of noise and unsubstantiated content coming from the likes of CNN, Washington Post and even the New York Times. So what constitute as credible news these days is pretty subjective.

Then you have breaking news where big name media companies do not have a correspondent in place to tackle the news and what you get are repeats from off media sources mentioned everywhere else.

Twitter can be used successfully to maintain contact with your customers and to get feedback on how you are doing. Some use it to start a war of words with detractors while others just talk about how bad Nicki Minaj was at the awards show.

For me, running an active Twitter feed is a lot of work. Stats for readership are pretty low for each post if you’re not famous or intelligible with 140 characters.

So don’t put any hope into Moments for it to change how do business online or in real time.

The truth of the matter is that Twitter is running out of ideas for innovation and since it’s platform is conversational, they are hoping you would put in your two tweets worth for all the curated news you read on Twitter Moments. Maybe someone will read them, respond to it and that would get those eyeballs Twitter wants to show ads to?

Blackhat Tactics of Using Instagram

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Content Creation and Curation Tips for Tumblr

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Tumblr is many things, a blogging platform as well as a social space. The problem why Tumblr is difficult to understand is that it is relatively popular only in the US, and this makes any global outreach strategy difficult to justify but to be fair, it’s all about repositioning your post to appeal to a younger and more vibrant audience.

During the US elections, Tumblr users were a targeted demographic. Why? It is the young that will shape the future of the country and their views and opinion counts.

Any global brand have to recognize the need to cultivate the interest of the grass roots before they can be harvested as customers. Building that interest doesn’t happen overnight. It takes times and there are many competing brands in the market place which are doubling down on that reach.

Another thing about Tumblr is that it is social. Fellow bloggers connect with one another and this has been a winning strategy for brands who want more exposure. Bloggers on Tumblr are accessible to both readers and brands. It’s also part Twitter, #hastags rule the roost, if you content isn’t tagged, you don’t get found of followed.

Tumblr is all about Content

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Forgets about trying to ‘convert’ or monetize. Tumblr is really for those who have content to share. Brand building, engagements with fans, and even a short blog for your company with lots of pictures and hashtags are good to go.

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Let’s not deny the fact that the Internet generation is a little short on attention span. Long form journalism isn’t a way of life for the young. They like pictures and short sentences. Got a video? That’s cool too.

Trying to push them stuff via a shopping cart isn’t going to work. Think of it as a picture catalog of content. Cast your subjects in the best light. You build anticipation and if they like what they see, they could hit the shopping cart button to buy something.

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Like Pinterest, there are more women than men on Tumblr, and from the stats above (taken from Alexa), you get the idea that they are the school going sort who spend a whopping 15 mins at a time browsing Tumblr content. There are trending topics for people to discover and since Yahoo acquired them, there has been a visible change in their content discovery strategy.

Tumblr is a fully loaded CMS platform

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WordPress CMS is the platform of choice for most companies, but Tumblr is the most popular, beating WordPress to a pulp in the process. It has all the options to set up multiple pages like a real website, and is totally social, allowing you to link your Flickr, Pinterest, Facebook and Google Plus pages and profile right into the blog. What’s more you can even link your online shop which is redirected. It may not have the muscle to process transactions but with the link embed, you can still bounce potential customers to your online store.

Multiple page navigation is a great way to start a full blown website. Think of the navigation links your company or service needs and it will be fulfilled. No need to host it on WordPress if you are on a budget. Tumblr will do fine for those who are not accustomed to writing long passages or at describing what they do. You don’t have to be corporate sounding too. Just be cool and you’re hip.

Tumblr is US centric

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There are a lot of lurkers on Tumblr. These are the folks who subscribe to Tumblr just to view content while not having anything else to share. It is a wonderful place to dust off your old pictures and post them online with the appropriate hashtag.

The problem with Tumblr is that it isn’t a global phenomena. Most of the web traffic is from the US.

Re-purposing Content for Tumblr

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Tumblr was created to showcase content in a grid space. This means your content, regardless of the material has to flow vertically or be placed in a grid like manner for every content post.

Consuming these post in bite size pieces is probably the easiest way for the majority of Tumblrs. A nice picture entices the eyes, and upon clicking on a grid, you have descriptive text.

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This also means you need to re-purpose your content. If your original content was a hard sell, you need to ante up on the graphics or pictures. Drop in a line or two that sounds cool (or not anything at all) and hashtag your post with the target in mind.

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Tumblr can exist as its own as a company blog. I know there are a lot of companies who do not like to say too many things so a picture post every now and then as a company blog is fine.

You can still host your company website on a WordPress CMS but have a redirected link to your Tumblr blog post for all the latest happenings.

Sometimes just because you don’t have anything to say doesn’t mean you should leave your blog gathering dust. This is something that is happening to many corporate sites which are either brochure-ware or catalog based. When they have something new, they would have to put their corporate spiel onto it. So stop thinking of those keywords to convert customers and engage them through the visual senses.

Even a picture post every week on the things you do is probably going to do your company blog a lot of good now that Facebook pages is officially dead when it comes to eyeballs. Facebook engagement to your followers are in the region of 0.8 to 1 percent in 2015. Boosting your post might yield 16 percent. Organic growth remains at zero for Facebook pages.

This is why you should post to Tumblr, and have that same post carried on Facebook just for SEO purposes. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.

How Twitter turned Nazi on Coke’s Campaign

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When it comes to creating content, the last thing you should do is to use an automated bot. A bot is a term for a robot, which of course is just some dumb waiter in this instance. In the case of Coca Cola, they were on the receiving end of the joke when Gawker themselves started a bot to counter the #MakeItHappy hashtag used by Coke.

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People using this quote will have the chance of getting a lovely ASCII graphic as long as it was tweeted with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. So this was Coke’s way to spread some love and happiness in the time of ISIL and the burning pilot trapped in a cage. The quoted text below sums up the experience.

Coca cola started a new Make It Happy campaign during the SuperBowl TV spots and didn’t know the consequence of using Twitter hashtags. As part of Coke’s ad campaign, it allowed people to reply to tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy, which would prompt the @CocaCola account to automatically take that tweet and spit it back out as fun ASCII art.

This basically sums up the use of bots. If you fail to employ a full time human staff to man your content feed, then you’re looking for trouble. In Gawker’s case, they wanted to prove a point that having a Bot manage your content feed is a bad idea. All they had to do was insert lines from Hitler’s infamous book “Mein Kampf” and use the hashtags to lure the Coke Bot to pick it up and this can happen to anyone. The quoted text will appear as a happy ASCII art as seen below.

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Why Content Has to be Managed

You learn the hard way that you have competitors and they are out to destroy you in the most creative way. In the case of Coke, a rival like Pepsi could hire someone to hijack the campaign. Even though any publicity isn’t bad publicity, in this case it gave Coca Cola a boost in the social sphere, things could have turned out far worst for SMBs who do something which can tarnish their long term marketing objective.

Coke pulled the campaign, Gawker laughed so hard and yes. You have to be-careful when using Twitter.

Hashtags have become a way of life in content promotion. You find a unique hashtag and try to own it by using it. The NYPD also had a campaign which backfired. It started a #myNYPD campaign to show how citizen friendly they were and got a slew of citizen photos showing otherwise. Then it was made into a joke which put the NYPD in a very hard spot.

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Twitter for the Rest of Us

Twitter is a two way street. It is sort of like a bulletin board of sorts where people can reach out to you and it works particularly well for brands, celebrities and politicians. If you wanted to reach out to someone directly, he or she may respond to you in Tweets. The whole process then helps you to communicate with entities you do not normally have the chance to. This power to the people scenario is also open to abuse. Twitter is severely limiting to those who can’t sell something in 140 characters. Using a URL embed is the only way but to get people clicking on that URL is also a shot in the dark. Twitter has made it clear that it aims to clamp down on spam and post abuse but so far, they have been slow in responding.

As with all social media platforms, Twitter allows you to shore up your followers with lots of buy-in fake followers, take promotional adverts to promote your content on the platform and use it for content marketing. What they don’t tell you is that organic growth has been spiralling down and is only a tad higher than Facebook’s zero percent organic reach.

The platform has been moving away from its text based roots and is now openly supporting picture post and later, video post as well. Twitter has no choice but to do this as it has to secure the eyeballs instead of letting people exit the platform to view something on YouTube or a third party video host. In the past, they have blamed iOS 8 failures and broken mobile apps that costed them millions of users.

However I am not particularly sold on Twitter is that after experimenting on it, I realise that the ambiguity that is often associated with it is what makes people abuse the platform. For one, it rarely ever reaches out to the masses unless you happen to use a ‘pop’ hashtag. These are the trending hashtags that Twitter tells you about in your dashboard. You have to craft your content to fit the moment instead of relying on your own unique hashtag to take off. Its like riding a popularity wave, once it dies down, you find the next hashtag wave to ride on. It’s a bit like surfing, where you wait for the right wave to ride on. So for example you can add a Tweet to ride on Coke’s  #MakeItHappy trending tag and add #hireMyWhore at Men’s Health Spa.

I have seen Bots that are programmed to work as a spamming tool by inserting bit.ly URLS into a reply to your tweets and then sends you to a spam site upon clicking on it. Thanks to Twitter’s method of restricting your characters, people often are not sure if the given URL is a genuine reply or a spam link.

In the case of Coca Cola, they started this off without much thought and didn’t plan on responding  that someone hijack their campaign, this undermined their online credibility. By having a human process to moderate the replies, spam and abuse can be checked but this is far too costly for a industrial giant that pulls in billions in global revenue every year.

This is where content marketing gets expensive for corporate use. People have to be assigned as moderators while for SMBs, you just have to monitor this on your own time. Imagine if you’re out fishing for the weekend and constantly fighting spam on your hashtag on your mobile. That’s the reality for the rest of us.

How Twitter can Work for You

As a communication channel to your business, it has to be manned 24/7 and this where you tell customers to follow you for updates. You can of course insert marketing or promotional content but often the character limitations will leave your followers guessing. This is why people make use of picture post as a marketing lure. In the case of Coke, the happy ASCII picture was the lure for people to jump onto the hashtag wagon.

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Instead of just tweeting pictures, you should consider using Twitter for the following:-

  • Content updates to your Followers on Social Media.
  • Promotional updates to your site
  • Sharing of curated content using shortened URLS to your followers
  • Feedback and Contact channel for customer/product satisfaction

It makes no sense to acquire users on Twitter unless your targeted audience are also frequent users of the social channel. Such acquisitions are a miss-miss affair. Remember the hashtag rule. If the brand isn’t yours then there is no point pouring money into it in the hope it will go viral.

So before you embark on any content marketing campaign, think about the strategy behind it first and follow through on it. Murphy’s Law is all about consequences on things that can go wrong and for social media, there are heaps.