Facebook, News and Trends

Where Is Facebook Heading? An End-of-Year Reflection

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time to do some predicting of the direction of social media marketing and what will be successful in 2018. All of my December blog posts are going to be focused on trends and predictions for the coming year. Starting today with a social media giant: Facebook.

Facebook has been launching a lot of new features recently. Some of them are logical, and some of them seem random. Here’s a short list of their biggest feature rollouts in the last year:

  • Marketplace – a Craigslist-like way for you to list your used goods for sale and browse things for sale in your area
  • Messenger Day – a Snapchat clone through the Facebook Messenger app that allows you to post pictures and short videos that your friends can view for 24 hours before they disappear
  • Sending money – you are able to send money to your friends or request money from them via Facebook Messenger
  • Ordering food – a new feature rolled out in October that combines several food-ordering sites to let you order your dinner through Facebook and have it delivered to your door

Some of these things make sense – a feature like Messenger Day doesn’t seem out of place with a social network. Others – like ordering food – don’t seem to fit at all. So what exactly is Facebook trying to accomplish here?

It all starts with WeChat

WeChat is a Chinese messaging app that is used by 95% of Chinese people over age 16 (source). That is a staggeringly high usage rate! The main reason for this high percentage of people using it is its ability to do everything. Far from just being a messaging app, WeChat also lets you check your bank account, order food, call a cab, and chat with colleagues, all from a single app.

More relevant to Facebook’s interests, WeChat’s wide variety of uses provides more potential revenue streams for the company. Facebook now seems to be attempting to copy this lucrative business model.

Facebook ads

Put simply, Facebook is running out of space to display ads. They’ve already maxed out the amount they can put in the newsfeed (at least without driving users away). They’ve started introducing mid-video ads to longer videos, selling ads inside Messenger, and even letting advertisers on its new Marketplace feature. But they’ve pretty much reached advertising saturation, and in order to keep seeing revenue growth, they have to expand to new uses in order to create new ad platforms.

The takeaway

If you want to advertise on Facebook in 2018, don’t limit yourself to just boosted posts. Facebook has been and is going to offer a lot of other places to put ads, and becoming an early adopter of one of the new ad spaces could help you stand out.

Also, if you use video in your marketing, consider longer videos. Since Facebook is now putting ads in the middle of videos, they’re prioritizing longer content. Creating longer videos (around 2 minutes) will help turn the Facebook algorithm in your favor. Just make sure it’s interesting enough that people will want to keep watching after the ad!

 

Picture of an iPhone on a white background with the Instagram logo on the screen
Instagram

A Quick Guide to Optimizing Your Instagram Profile

Getting your Instagram account right might not seem that hard – after all, you set up a lot of it when you signed up. But optimizing your Instagram profile actually takes some thought. It takes less than a second for people to form an impression of your account when they first encounter it, and you want that impression to be a good one.

Posting strategies are part of that, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about today. In this post, I’m going to go through four ways you can optimize your Instagram profile for maximum searchability and follower gain.

Get the right name

Obviously, you want your Instagram handle to be the same as your brand or company name. (For example, mine is @jalynelyconsulting.) But what happens if the handle you want is already taken? The best thing to do is add a small bit of extra information on the end (such as “inc,” “co,” or even “official”). Whatever you do, don’t add something to the beginning – you want your handle to start exactly the same way someone would type it into a search – that way Instagram’s auto search complete feature will suggest your account.

Besides your handle, you also have a name associated with your account. This displays prominently above all the other information in your profile. You have 30 characters to enter a name, which, again, should be the name of your brand or company. Sometimes you may have to shorten your name to fit within the character limit – I had to shorten “Social Media” to “SM,” for example.

Picture yourself

You want your Instagram profile photo to be representative of you. Usually your brand or company’s logo goes best here (as long as you make sure it’s optimized for Instagram’s circular display – you may have to shrink it or add white space around it to avoid getting corners cut off). If your brand is more a personal brand or a one-person operation, though, you may opt to use a professional picture of yourself. I emphasize the personal, one-on-one nature of my consulting, so I have a picture of me as my profile picture instead of a logo.

Optimize your bio

I could write a whole post on this. (I probably will later.) But for the basics: Instagram gives you 150 characters for a short bio, and you want to use this to tell potential followers a little bit about you and why they should follow you. This can be a short statement (such as “I help those new to social media marketing get the most out of it”) or a list of things you will post about (such as “social media advice | tips and tricks | social media strategy | growing your social impact”). You can also include your contact email or a brand hashtag (if you have one).

Putting keywords in your bio isn’t going to help your searchability at all (Instagram only considers your name and handle for searches), but a few well-placed keywords can tell your potential customers that this is an Instagram account they’d be interested in.

You get one link

The only clickable link you get in Instagram is in your bio. In general, you want to link this directly to where you want people to go, whether that’s your website homepage, your blog, or your shopping site. You can also change it frequently to feature new products or your most recent blog post. Since Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts, some people use the “link in bio” idea – write your post, put “Link in bio!” at the end, and then update your bio link to whatever it is you want to link to. Personally, I like to use bit.ly to shorten links so they don’t get cut off.

Facebook

Are Facebook Pages Still Relevant in 2017?

You may have heard rumors of the decline of Facebook for business – that pages aren’t useful anymore and that likes mean nothing (or very little). But even if you haven’t, you may have doubts about putting effort into the social media giant. After all, it’s 13 years old, it doesn’t have a very specialized audience (it includes everyone from teenagers to grandparents), and it would seem to make more sense to focus on newer, more popular networks like Instagram and Snapchat. Right?

Social media experts (including me) say otherwise. Facebook pages are still relevant and it’s still valuable to maintain your Facebook presence. So let’s take a look at a few of the arguments for why Facebook pages aren’t important – and why Facebook pages are still relevant in 2017.

Argument #1: Facebook is losing its audience

Whether or not you’ve heard this myth (a rather old one from 2013), it’s simply not true. Facebook’s user base is currently bigger than the population of the three of the world’s largest countries (United States, Brazil, and China) … combined. (source) And everyone is on Facebook. No matter what your audience is – retirees, college students, young parents, or anything in between – your audience is on Facebook. And with 1.37 billion users active every day (source), Facebook is where a lot of people on social media are.

Argument #2: Your fans won’t see your posts

This argument is presented because of Facebook’s algorithm updates that are reducing the amount of Facebook fans who see your page’s posts. This is a frustrating development, but Facebook is trying to keep their users happy and not overwhelm them with brand posts – there are more Facebook pages than ever before, and Facebook can only succeed if the users are happy. And besides, as long as you’re posting regularly, your fans may not see everything you post, but they’ll still see some – and it only takes a few to keep you in their minds.

Argument #3: Page likes are irrelevant

Some people will argue that page likes are irrelevant (sometimes including argument #2 – they’re irrelevant because people won’t see your posts). But ever since Facebook introduced the “like” feature in 2009, Facebook likes have become a form of social proof. The more likes your page has, the more popular and valuable it appears to new visitors, and the more likely it is that they will trust you (and maybe click the “like” button themselves). Because of Facebook’s algorithms, likes don’t necessarily correlate to the size of your audience – it’s more about showing potential followers that your page is worthy of being liked.

Argument #4: You’ll get better results on [insert network here]

This is a “grass is greener” argument. Everyone seems to have their network of choice that gave them better results, and they’re happy to tell you how you’ll get a better ROI on X network than Facebook. And who knows, maybe your audience will respond better on Instagram, or Twitter, or another network. It depends on your audience. But success in social media is about going where the people are – and as we established back in Argument #1, the people are definitely on Facebook. Even if your page doesn’t do well, if you don’t spend a lot on advertising, all you’ve lost is time.

Bonus tip: Since Facebook is a general, multi-purpose network with a massive active audience, it’s a great network to get started with when you’re first starting to build your social media presence.

Twitter

The Advantages of Twitter’s New, Longer Tweets

Twitter is famous for its 140-character limit for its tweets. And whether you think that’s a good thing for preventing rambling posts or a bad thing for limiting the nuance and context that can be included, it’s become a defining feature of the site.

But that defining feature is becoming a feature of the past. Twitter still places an emphasis on brevity, but the old 140-character restriction is falling by the wayside.

Twitter has been testing allowing 280-character tweets, but yesterday began rolling the feature out for all users – once the rollout is complete, only those tweeting in Chinese, Japanese, or Korean (languages that use fewer characters overall) will be stuck to the old 140-character limit. People tweeting in all other languages will be able to use 280 characters to express themselves on Twitter.

Why?

When Twitter was in its early years, many users used texts to receive tweets. The 140-character limit was imposed to allow each tweet to fit into a single text message. People using Twitter still found ways to cram more into tweets, though, whether that’s including a screenshot of a large block of text or creating multi-part tweets. And now, most people access Twitter though the app, not via text.

Twitter has recently been easing restrictions to allow people to put more into a tweet. In September 2016, they stopped letting features like polls, photos, and videos count against the character limit. This is an attempt to reengage their audience and get users to tweet more – by reducing the frustration and annoyance of having to edit your thoughts down to 140 characters, Twitter hopes you will be tempted to tweet more.

Is this a good idea?

Some will say yes, some will say no. Long-time Twitter users will find the change strange and may have a hard time getting used to it. I predict most users, though, will appreciate that they have to do less editing of their tweets to fit the character requirement.

Personally, I like the idea – the 280-character limit means that you still won’t get long, rambling posts like you can on other social networks, but it allows for more nuance, detail, and context, all of which I think are important for both posting and engaging with other people. It definitely will take some getting used to, but I think it will make for more human-sounding tweets – and maybe fewer (or at least shorter) Twitter arguments.

What does this mean for marketing?

The main benefit to those marketing on Twitter is the added ability to add detail, context, and human-ness to your tweets. 140 characters doesn’t give you a lot of room to include friendliness and necessary detail in your responses to customers – the new 280-character limit will let you sound more open and human, and it will let you more fully address their concerns without asking them to call or email you.

And if you’re one of the many who already has access to this feature, take advantage of it! Your longer tweets will stand out while people are still getting used to them.