In recent weeks, Instagram has cracked down on users who have violated their Community Guidelines. As a part of this process, Instagram casts a wide net around certain areas, so many users who have not actually violated anything are also getting an Instagram Account Lock notification. Here’s how to know if you have actually violated Instagram’s Community Guidelines and what to do if your account has been locked.
Last Tuesday, July 2, 2019, Facebook announced that they implemented two new post ranking updates to their most recent algorithm which was released last month. These updates target Pages that post “exaggerated or sensational health claims [or are] attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims.” According to Travis Yeh, Facebook Product Manager, the reason behind this change to the algorithm is to “improve the quality of information in News Feed.”
Examples of the types of posts that would be downgraded were provided by Facebook. However, they leave a lot of room for interpretation. In our opinion, that means that there will be a lot of misidentified posts. The only good news is that Facebook won’t block the identified posts. Instead, they will be shown lower in the News Feeds of your followers.
Here’s what Facebook says about how they are evaluating posts through this new lens:
“We consider if a post about health exaggerates or misleads — for example, making a sensational claim about a miracle cure [and] we consider if a post promotes a product or service based on a health-related claim — for example, promoting a medication or pill claiming to help you lose weight.”
As you can see, their definitions are fairly broad, though they anticipate that a majority of Pages won’t see a significant change to their post distribution in News Feeds. They suggest that Pages should avoid sensationalist health claims and solicitation using health-related claims. In addition, any pages that do see a decrease in distribution can simply stop posting that sort of content.
These newest changes to the ranking algorithm come on the heels of another major change involving health-related posts. In March, Facebook announced that it would take strong action against Pages and Groups that “spread misinformation about vaccinations on Facebook.” Those types of posts will see harsher consequences than those discussed above. Spreading misinformation about vaccinations can completely exclude your Page or Group from recommendations on Facebook. Also, Facebook will reduce the distribution of posts made by offending Pages and Groups as well as rejecting ads with the offending content.
So how do you avoid this type of content if you’re in a health-related field?
As with most issues related to Facebook’s algorithms, this all comes down to word usage. The algorithm will indetify posts by searching for phrases commonly found in spammy health-related posts. Facebook has not said what phrases the algorithm will look for. We believe terms to avoid are things like “guaranteed results”, “lose weight fast”, and “risk-free”.
What do you think of this change? Do you think it will help reduce spam for users? Or will it just make more unnecessary headaches for business Page owners?
One of the least expensive ways to improve your marketing is to ensure that your social media game is on point. In fact, according to a recent study from Clutch, Social Media is the second-highest priority for Small Businesses (second to a business website) and three out of five small businesses use basic social media outreach to market their brand. As an added benefit, using social media marketing can also cultivate brand loyalty!
We can hear you all now, saying “I don’t have time for social media marketing” or “I don’t know how to do it”…well we’re here to help! If you don’t have time, reach out to us and we can manage your social media for you; if you don’t know how (or just want some great tips), here are some easy ways to use social media marketing for your business.
Content creation 101
The most important part of any social media marketing plan is content creation. You need to have something to post and you’ll need to have a lot of it! Here are some of the best places to find content relevant to your business:
- The first place to look for content is things you’ve already created. You can repurpose content from a blog, a past newsletter or any other marketing collateral. If you sell products, you could do a weekly product spotlight with just the product image and catalog description (plus a link to the product on your website, of course!)
- Spotlight upcoming events.
- Offer freebies or discounts for your social media followers.
- Live stream a video of something your target audience would be interested in. You can also add some “hype” posts prior to going live to increase viewership. Here are some ideas for live videos (these can be good topics for traditional text/image posts too!)
- Share details about your business. This can be anything from how the business started to how you got to where you are now.
- Give an insider’s look at what you do. For example, if you manufacture something, do a sneak peek at the manufacturing process.
- Share what makes you different from your competitors – why should potential clients choose you?
- Do happy customer/client interviews so they can share what makes your business the best.
- Solve some problems. Think about the problems that your target audience faces and post ideas or solutions to those problems.
Share content from other sources
You don’t have to write everything you share on social media. Instead, you can share posts that include links to other information or articles that you find interesting, or you think your target audience would find interesting. Make sure to add some text to the post, discussing why you like the resource your sharing, and don’t forget to include a link! Also, be sure that you don’t imply that you’re the author of the content.
Make it nice to look at
Whenever you’re doing a social media post – especially for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest – it’s essential that you include an image (it’s actually a requirement on Instagram). The only exception to this would be if you’re doing a live video on Facebook. Coming up with images for every post you do might seem like a daunting challenge, but we’re here to tell you that it can actually be relatively easy!
Unless you have a graphic designer on staff, we recommend that you use Canva. It’s a service that let’s you create high-quality graphics and ads with an easy drag-and-drop interface. It includes access to stock images, text, icons, graphics and more! There’s even a free option that works wonderfully for basic designs.
Automate, automate, automate
When coming up with any kind of new strategy (marketing or otherwise), scalability is essential. We recommend that you post at least once a day to your business social media platforms, but to do that, you’ll need some serious automation. Automation is one of the best ways to ensure that your social media presence is consistently active. Basically all we’re talking about when we say “automation” is a service that will allow you to schedule posts in advance. There are multiple options available to schedule posts in advance, but we recommend Hootsuite for the best all-around option. All you do is set it and forget it!
There is obviously a lot more that we could go into for setting up a stellar social media marketing plan, but this is enough to get you started on your marketing journey!
Drop us a line if you have any questions or would like us to help you set up a marketing plan!
What other ideas do you have for social media marketing for small businesses?
If you’ve been on Facebook for any amount of time (for business or personal use), it’s likely that you’ve had a post flagged for some sort of violation of Facebook’s community standards. As Facebook comes under more scrutiny for the content posted on their platform, they have increased the automated detection of said content. For the most part, this is a good thing, but there is a dark side to this increase in automated standards enforcement: misidentification.
In a recent report, Facebook gave an overview of how their automated detection is working. For the purposes of our post, we’re only going to focus on the spam numbers in the report. The report covers the first quarter of 2019 along with a broader view of the past year. Specifically, it shows the amount of content that Facebook has “taken action on” during that time period (meaning they removed the content, applied a warning screen to the content, or they disabled the account). According to the report, the amount of spam content that has had an action taken on it has more than doubled in the past year, going from 836 million in Q1 of 2018 to 1.76 billion in Q1 of 2019.
For the first quarter of 2019, they’ve added a new metric – they are now showing how much of the content that had action taken against it was restored, either by their own accord or because a user requested an appeal. They don’t have that information for any other time periods, so everyone is just going to have to wait and see how that metric increases or decreases in relation to the amount of spam identified.
To give Facebook some credit where credit is due, the report shows that in Q1 of 2019 only about 3% of the posts Facebook took action on were misidentified. That low of a percentage is great, but it still equals out to 44.2 million posts that were restored after being misidentified as spam. If one (or more) of your posts was part of that 3%, I’m sure you’d agree that it’s frustrating and troubling, to say the least, to have your content misidentified as spam. According to some users, having a post identified as spam can also cause problems in other areas, such as having your comments on other content flagged and locking you out of your account.
Overall, it appears that Facebook’s automated standards enforcement is doing its job, but because of the incredible amount of content shared on the platform every day, we feel like they might be struggling with getting it right. Regardless of our opinions though, one thing is certain, as Facebook continues to increase their automated standards enforcement, it’s likely that you will see an increase of spam notifications for content that you post on the platform.
What are your thoughts on Facebook’s automated standards enforcement? Have you seen an increase in reported posts on your profile or pages?
You’ve just built a website (or had one built), so now you have a brand new, shiny website. It looks great, it has good SEO, and it has all the information anyone could ask for…but no one is visiting your site. Why not? Getting new website traffic is not just a matter of building a site. And while good SEO is very important, and can help increase traffic over the long term, it won’t be a fast solution to gain your site new traffic at the start. But don’t fret – there are ways to jump start your site’s traffic right now, and better yet, a lot of them are free!
Here are 5 ways to drive traffic to your site for free
1. Get Some Backlinks
Backlinks are links on other sites that go to your site. There are two reasons why this works: first, it gets your website in front of a larger audience through the backlink itself. Second, it can increase Google’s trust in your site, which also increases your search engine rankings. When Google sees your link on other trusted sites, it increases the trust of your site, hence increasing your Google ranking and then your website traffic. Here are some of our favorite ways to build backlinks to your site.
- Write testimonials for the products or services you have used or are using. Once you purchase a product or service and have had some time to utilize it, visit the product/service website and write a testimonial about it. Be honest, but remember, this is also for your benefit, so be polite and courteous. Once you’ve written the testimonial, sign it with your name and a link back to your website.
- Ask to be interviewed. There are plenty of websites that specialize in providing expert interviews. Once you do enough of them and are established as an expert in your field, you’ll be asked to do interviews. Until then, you will need to go looking for them. Using Google (or another search engine), search for websites that run interviews and let them know you’re interested in participating in an interview in your area of expertise.
- Check out this article on Entreprenuer.com for more about the options above and many other ways to build backlinks on your site.
2. Get Involved Online
Join social media groups, discussion boards, and websites that are relevant to your industry, then get involved. Comment on posts, answer questions, and join in on the conversations that people are having about your industry – and don’t forget to include a link back to your website! The more you post and interact, the more backlinks you get and the more you are seen as an expert in your field. As an added bonus, you get to help people in your industry!
3. Start Blogging
We know, we know, this is the recommendation everyone gives for increasing website traffic. Do you know why that is? Because it works. Blogging not only helps to improve your status as an expert in your industry, but it also gives search engines new content to review. The more new content you have, the more search engines like your site. Once you’ve written some blogs, use some of the ideas under the Backlinks section above to provide other sites more options for where to backlink.
4. Post to Social Media
If you don’t already have profiles on at least Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, go sign up for them now. Go on…we’ll wait. Once you have social media profiles, start scheduling posts that are interesting to your target audience. You don’t have to create all the content you post, instead, you can post articles from other websites in your industry. The goal here is to be the place where your target audience turns when they’re looking for information. Check out our article on powering up your social media for more ways to improve your social media game.
5. Add your business to online directories
Online directories are a great resource for people looking for products or services online. Some examples of online directories are Google My Business, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Foursquare. When you add your business to these directories, you not only increase your chances of being found by potential customers who are looking for your services, but you’re also adding backlinks to your site!
What other ways do you have to generate traffic for your website?
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, recently announced plans to merge Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. The three are the main messaging services in the Facebook “family of apps”. While the apps themselves will continue to operate as stand-alone apps, the core infrastructure will be integrated together.
According to a statement given to the New York Times, Facebook says the purpose of the integration is to “build the best messaging experiences we can; and people want messaging to be fast, simple, reliable and private.” They also plan to improve the security and privacy of all three services. Facebook’s goal is to complete the changes by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
How will this affect your marketing?
This change will be a major boost to your business marketing efforts, especially if you use chatbots for your business. Once this change takes place, you will be able to choose one platform to communicate with the customers on all three platforms. For instance, you could us a Messenger chatbot to communicate with customers using WhatsApp or Instagram.
This merger will also provide the opportunity to tag users on different platforms – something that’s not possible right now.
We see this as a positive change for small businesses – allowing an easier way to communicate with potential customers.
How do you see this change affecting your business?
A new change to Google My Business could be a game changer for many small businesses. “Google My Business” is a free service associated with Google Maps and Search. It allows you, as a business owner, the opportunity to create a Business Profile so people searching a specific area can find your business.
In the past, this feature has been largely utilized by businesses with a “brick and mortar” location that doesn’t change. Now, with the launch of the new features, we think that’s going to change. If your business involves working out of a van or your car, but you still only service a specific area, these features will help you!
In a blog post about the new updates, SMB Product Lead, Tom Pritchard gave an overview of the types of small businesses it might help.
“Let’s say you’ve started your own business. The office you’ve leased is a 22 by 14 foot sprinter van. Every day, you find a new challenge in a new location across the areas you serve. You might be a plumber or an electrician or a landscaper, but above all you’re a business owner. We’ve recently made a few updates to Google My Business, so you can now share your service areas and information about your business via Google Maps and Search—so you can get found and tap into the many people searching for businesses like yours everyday.”
The Google My Business dashboard now provides a “service area” tab in addition to the “storefront address” tab. This distinction allows businesses without a permanent physical address the ability to target a specific service area.
With this new change to Google My Business, will you be using it to connect with more potential customers?
If you’ve spent any time researching social media for business recently then I’m sure you’ve heard, video is where it’s at. Video ads are the fastest growing form of advertising online. According to eMarketer, US advertisers are expected to spend almost $16 billion just on video ads in 2019. That number is expected to jump to an estimated $25 billion by 2022!
The reasons behind the swell in video advertising are clear: more people are watching and responding to video ads than ever before. It’s estimated that by 2020, the number of smartphone users watching mobile video will be close to 200 million. In addition, those viewers will spend close to 30 minutes per day watching mobile video. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
Regardless of if you’re a seasoned video advertiser or just getting into the game, the one thing you need to know is how to measure the effectiveness of your video ads – the return on investment. “Video Views” are generally the metric to watch to figure out your ROI. A video view is how many times the video has been watched, but the definition of what constitutes a video view is fuzzy at best.
Video view metrics vary based on the platform and can mean different things based on which one you’re using. So, here’s a breakdown of how “video views” are measured on some of the largest platforms.
Definition of a view: 30 seconds (or the whole duration, if your video is less than 30 seconds) or when the viewer actively engages with your video, whichever action comes first.
For what counts as a view on YouTube video ads, we looked at their TrueView in-stream advertising. For TrueView in-stream, a view is counted as the number of times your video is viewed for 30 seconds (or the whole duration, if your video is less than 30 seconds) or when the viewer actively engages with your video, whichever action comes first.
Also, it’s worth noting that when a video is first posted, YouTube filters the number of views based on what it considers to be actual human views, not computer programs. It shows what it considers to be “quality views” until the number of views gets up high enough. They don’t really say what that means, because it varies based on the popularity of the video. Read more about this process in YouTube’s Help Center.
Facebook and Instagram
Definition of a view: three seconds, or 97% of the total length of the video if its total length is less than three seconds.
The definition above is the standard for Facebook and Instagram. However, calculating how much you’re charged for the ad depends on the type of ad you purchase. If you purchase a CPM (cost per 1,000 views/impressions) you will be charged after the standard three seconds. However, if you purchase a ThruPlay ad, you will be charged after a viewer watches your video for 15 seconds (or 97% of the video, if its total length is less than 15 seconds).
Definition of a view: 2 seconds of continuous playback while the video is at least 50% on the screen or an active engagement with your video, whichever comes first.
LinkedIn has adopted the Media Rating Council’s (MRC) definition of a view. LinkedIn also provides metrics on the number of times a video is viewed to 50%, 75% and 100% of the total length of the video.
Definition of a view: 2 seconds of continuous playback while the video is at least 50% on the screen.
Pinterest has also chosen to adopt the MRC definition of a view. Pinterest also tracks some engagements and how long the video was viewed, but their analytics are limited, so they’ve partnered with other companies to expand the options for measurements.
Definition of a view: 2 seconds of continuous watch time or a swipe up action on the Top Snap.
Snapchat also adopted the MRC definition, however they include the “swipe up” action in their definition due to the nature of the way media is delivered on their platform. The number of Snaps watched to 25%, 50% and 75% is also provided.
Definition of a view: 2 seconds of continuous playback while the video is at least 50% on the screen.
Twitter also opted to use the MRC definition of a view for their Video Views metric. They also have a metric called “Media Views” which includes views of all media types: videos, vines, gifs and images.
Don’t just use the number of views as your measurement of success. Different video campaigns should have different desired outcomes and different results. If it’s not necessary for viewers to watch your entire video, then completion rates aren’t as important. You can use the percentage of completion rates to see if viewers are watching long enough to get the message. You can also use demographic information to see if you’re reaching your desired audience.
Do you use video ads as a part of your business’ marketing campaign? What metrics do you look for on your video ads?
Whether you’re a seasoned hashtag expert or you still call it a “pound sign”, hashtags can still befuddle the best of us. To help clear that up, we’re going to to over some hashtag basics.
You’re a small business owner. You know you need a business website and you know you need it now (if you don’t know you need it, check out these reasons why every small business needs a website). But there’s a problem…maybe your website won’t be up and running for a couple weeks, maybe you don’t have the budget to make a website now, or maybe you don’t know where to start at all (start here). Regardless of the reason why you don’t have a website yet, while you’re waiting for your business website to be a reality, there are some things you can do.