Social Media’s Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Summer may conjure up lazy days at the beach, but social media platforms have been busy debuting new features. Here’s a summer roundup of features you may have missed, so you can incorporate them into your social media strategies.

Social Media's Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Is your brand utilizing all of the new features on your favorite social media platforms?

Instagram

It started in May with an improved inbox. More than 150 million active daily users converse with businesses through Instagram Direct each month, so the platform added more tools for business owners to manage these conversations. You can now star important messages for follow-up, and IG is testing quick replies. In addition, messages now come directly to your inbox instead of languishing in the oft-forgotten Pending section.

Related: Making it Easier to Do Business on Instagram

Then, the popular platform went crazy and introduced five new features in a month! Everyone is talking about IGTV, Instagram’s new platform for long-form vertical video content. It’s available in the upper right hand corner of your app (next to Instagram Direct), or you can download the standalone IGTV app. Will IGTV become a major competitor to YouTube or fade away over time?

Other new features that may benefit your business include group video chat (now available in Instagram Direct), music and question stickers in Instagram Stories and an updated Explore page. The new stickers can help you show personality, draw more eyes (and ears) to your Stories and increase engagement with fans and customers.

Related: 5 New Instagram Features to Help Grow Your Business this Summer

LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to expand its features, so it’s important that you maintain an active presence. It’s no longer enough to post a resume and forget about it. Even if you’re not actively pursuing new employment, this platform presents a multitude of opportunities: making professional connections, strengthening relationships, seeking new clients and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.

We enjoy pulling a quote from an article to highlight an important point and encourage conversation, so we’re excited to see LinkedIn make it easier to do. Now you can highlight a quote, right click and share it to your feed or message it privately on mobile. It will automatically include a link to the article along with your quote as the caption.

LinkedIn's new capabilities

Another exciting new development is the ability to save drafts directly on the LinkedIn platform. Say you’re browsing articles and find three that you’d like to share. Share them, write your caption (or pull a quote) and save as a draft. You can share it at a future date in order to share your content at optimal times for your audience.

The Posts & Activity shortcut (now available on your account drop-down menu) is an easy way to see what you have shared recently with your network. The built-in translator will come in handy when connecting with professionals across the word, and video captions help you communicate with viewers even when they’re watching your video silently, which people commonly do today.

Twitter

Not to be outdone, Twitter has been rolling out new features too. The platform announced it will begin showing related topics in its Trending Topics listing, which could help you tap into trending news. The related topics can give you a more complete view of the trending discussion, so you can see if a tie-in to your brand is appropriate and what additional hashtags to use.

Twitter also removed millions of accounts from follower numbers, cracking down on suspicious and spam accounts. Remember that active, targeted followers are more important than quantity, and don’t ever buy followers. This update will help make follower counts more accurate and add more legitimacy to influencer marketing on Twitter.

Finally, Twitter is making an effort to improve users’ experience by adding the ability to dock videos, so you can keep watching while you scroll. This may lengthen the amount of time viewers watch your videos or even boost views overall.

Facebook

Meanwhile, Facebook has made changes while trying to climb back into users’ good graces. The beleaguered social platform removed its Trending section to make room for future news experiences, such as exclusive video news content on Facebook Watch.


 

The social giant also introduced Keyword Snooze to help users further control their News Feed. This feature allows users to temporarily hide posts with a specific keyword or phrase from people, Pages and Groups for 30 days. It joins Facebook’s other News Feed controls: See First, Hide, Unfollow and Snooze.

Speaking of Groups, Facebook introduced Subscription Groups, so admins can charge for the content they provide group members. This could be a new distribution option for your brand’s premium content, such as in-depth tutorials, live streams of event sessions and video coaching sessions.

As we were compiling this roundup of new features, some platforms dropped even more new features.

Instagram Adds Active Status Notifiers to Fuel Real-Time Connection
Facebook Adds Option to Merge Instagram Contacts into Messenger
Bring Your Conversations to Life with New Updates in LinkedIn Messaging
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project

Watch for more insight on these new features and how they can help you build your brand and connect with your communities in future articles. What new feature are you most excited about? Does one or two platforms work better for you than the others? Do you utilize different platforms for different reasons?

We would love to discuss social media marketing with you! Leave your comments below, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social, so we can stay in touch.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

How To Find the Right Influencer For Your Brand

In our last post of 2017, guest blogger Tanya Sen shared Why Influencer Engagement is Important in Digital Marketing. Partnering with an influencer can boost your digital marketing efforts, but you need to put together a plan before diving into a relationship.

How To Find the Right Influencer For Your Brand by Clearly Conveyed Communications

A Partnership Made in Heaven… or Not

The success of your influencer marketing efforts will hinge on who you partner with. Is this individual or group a good fit for your brand? Will your audience — and theirs — believe the influencer uses your product or service? If not, you’re unlikely to see any real return on investment (ROI) from your efforts. The influencer’s posts or ads may draw high engagement due to his or her star power, but it won’t carry over to your brand.

Who Is An Influencer?

When you think of an influencer, you may think celebrity, but that’s not always the case. Especially in B2B marketing, it helps if your influencer has clout or expertise in your area or some type of tie-in. For example, uni-ball® partnered with legendary identity theft expert, Frank Abagnale, to promote the tamper-resistant ink in its pens. Abagnale’s story was told in Catch Me If You Can, and he now works with the FBI to help them catch identity theft criminals.

Micro-Influencers May Deliver A Big Win

When you’re looking for the right influencer to partner with, look closely at your loyal supporters or key personalities in your niche. This person may not have a massive following on social, but you’ve noticed he or she has an active audience interested in what you do — and this micro-influencer’s opinion on the subject. You may have found yourself a partner who can help drive your digital marketing efforts even though he or she has fewer than 10,000 followers and no celebrity status.

“Micro-influencers deliver 60% higher campaign engagement rates; moreover, those campaigns are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than those with influencers with larger followings.” -Ismael El-Qudsi, MarketingProfs

Look For Star Power In-House

You may find the perfect influencer for your brand in-house. Do any of your employees have a special relationship with your audience? Whether through a memorable personality or exceptional service with a smile, one or more of your employees may be an ideal influencer. In addition, an employee advocacy program can help your employees become more comfortable sharing your content on social and promoting your brand.

“In an average company, only 3% of employees share company-related content, but they are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the content’s total likes, shares, and comments.” -Katie Levinson, LinkedIn

Integration Is Key

Wherever you find an ideal influencer, integration into your brand messaging is key. It’s not enough to pay someone — famous or not — to post about your products and services. The partnership needs to “fit” and feel right to both audiences. Launching a new product or refreshing your brand? Bring in an influencer early on and integrate him or her into your marketing plans. True integration brings authenticity and better results.

Summary

Influencer marketing can drive your digital marketing efforts — and sales — to new heights, but take the time to plan your strategy before jumping into a relationship. Don’t get wooed by a trendy celebrity or hot fad that doesn’t make sense for your brand. Do your research to find the right fit, whether it’s a micro-influencer, employee or thought leader in your field, and remember to integrate your influencer into your marketing efforts and overall brand message to increase your chances of success.

What celebrity/brand partnership works well? Is a bad fit?
Has a micro-influencer helped boost your sales or encouraged you to buy?
What employees influence your purchasing behavior at a company?
What brands do a great job of integrating influencers into their overall marketing efforts?

CCC’s Chief Influencer,
Jaime

https://www.facebook.com/ClearlyConveyedCommunications/ LinkedIn_2013_30x30 Pinterest_2013_30x30 Twitter_2013_30x30 https://instagram.com/jaimeshine

What’s in the Power of a (Re)Brand? Everything

Photo by Melissa Olson for Kent State Magazine

Rebranding is all over the news these days as brands deal with changing audiences, shifting priorities and, in some cases, dramatically altered landscapes. I was reading a story in Kent State Magazine about my alma mater’s rebranding, when a quote caught my eye.

“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be — a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” -Kent State President Beverly Warren

The first part of President Warren’s quote nails what a brand is, but there’s also a second part to the equation. A brand’s customers, or target audiences, have to buy in to those aspirations. Brands live in the real world, not a vacuum. If your customers (or potential new customers) don’t buy what you’re selling, so to speak, your aspirations and where you want to be don’t mean much.

Let’s look at two high profile examples. Budweiser tried to boost its summer sales by temporarily renaming its beer, America. That’s right, the popular beer manufacturer ditched its memorable ad campaigns and iconic Clydesdales to put our country’s name on its label for the summer. Who’s up for an ice cold America?

Budweiser becomes America temporarily.

Image courtesy of Fast Company Design

While this odd move probably won’t hurt the company’s sales (summer is beer-drinking season), it’s been met by mockery online and seen as an attention grab by the press. Even worse, it’s brought the company’s Belgium ownership into the conversation, which is not something that a brand marketed on patriotism and American ideals wants to discuss.

Budweiser, err America, isn’t the only well-known brand to freshen up its look lately. Instagram felt its logo was outdated, so the company unveiled its new, modern look this week. While the previous logo represented a camera, the fast-growing social platform “wanted to create a look that would represent the community’s full range of expression — past, present, and future.” (Read more on the rebrand here.)

More on branding: The True Power of Brand // Branding Is A Feeling, Not A Noun

That makes sense. Why hasn’t the Instagram community (and world) embraced it? The company is right that most people (outside of professional photographers) don’t use stand-alone cameras to take the pictures they post on its platform today, and you can now post videos too. But Instagram is still a visually-inspired platform, which is what the camera icon represented to so many people.

Instagram unveils its new logo

Image courtesy of Adweek

Sometimes brands are so focused on short term sales or attention, they forget the essence of who they are or why consumers love them. As KSU President Warren notes, “Our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.”

I’m proud that my alma mater has handled its rebranding process so well and that brands everywhere, from beer manufacturers to social platforms, could learn a thing or two from a university where I learned so much.

A Lesson on (Re)Branding

What do you think about Budweiser’s temporary name change or Instagram’s new look?

What other brand has handled the rebranding process well?

What brand needs to rebrand?

A proud KSU alumna (and fan of great branding everywhere),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about branding, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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The Dark Side of Social: How to Respond When Things Go Wrong

At CCC, we’re big believers in the power of social media and the value that it can provide to your brand. However, you need to understand the darker side of social so you’re prepared for anything that could go wrong or reflect your brand in a negative light.

Velvet Heart Promoted Tweet

Velvet Heart was trying to promote its new arrivals for spring, not trend with a mass shooting.

Recently I was on Twitter and noticed the name of a nearby town trending (regionally). I clicked on the link to see why it was trending and discovered a mass shooting had occurred at a retirement village. (My thoughts and prayers are with this community during this difficult time.)

While scrolling through the feed, I saw a promoted tweet advertising a retailer’s new spring arrivals. I was included in the audience targeted in this campaign, so the tweet showed up in my feed — no matter what I was viewing at the time. The advertiser had no say where its targeted audience members saw its tweet. (For more on Promoted Tweets, click here.)

Last week, I saw a news story about a guy who blew his lower leg off while shooting a lawn mower packed with explosives. As usual, an ad played prior to the video on the news site where I watched it. AT&T didn’t ask for its ad to play prior to a graphic video, but that’s when I saw the ad and its brand.

“A brand can’t control the message in the way it once did but it can still have influence.” –Jeff Barrett, CEO, Status Creative

These examples both point to why some brands and companies are so afraid of getting social — loss of control. On social media, it’s impossible to control every aspect of the message about your brand.

I’m not trying to discourage you from joining the conversation — just the opposite, in fact. If you’re a part of the conversation, you can help guide its direction and speak directly to your online community.

What if I hadn’t known that advertisers don’t control where Promoted Tweets show up? A user may have tweeted the advertiser expressing her dissatisfaction that the company would try to profit off a tragedy. That’s why you need to be aware of all the possibilities before jumping into something like Promoted Tweets. You can respond to say that you only chose to promote a tweet to a targeted audience, and did not use a trending hashtag or phrase inappropriately. If you’re not active on a social platform where a discussion breaks out about your brand, you can’t help set the record straight.

“While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.”

Don’t worry about controlling every aspect of the conversation about your brand. Be prepared and know what you’re doing before jumping into social media in general, or a specific area, such as Facebook advertising or Promoted Tweets. Have a plan, but be prepared to adjust it as necessary.

Social media may not be easy for brands, but it’s worth it. Getting social can start a conversation that takes your business to new heights!

Are you struggling with your social media strategy, goals or execution? Let’s talk. We’d love to help you join the conversation and shine the spotlight on your brand.

Getting social (day or night),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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3 Simple Marketing Tips For Your Next Product Launch

Are you planning a product launch? How is your marketing plan looking? If you’re looking for some tips, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve helped startups launch new products over the years, and today I’m going to share three of the most successful methods I’ve seen.

Deadly Sins (Snowglobes), Pure Products USA by See-Ming Lee via CC BY-SA 2.0

Focus on your core

Just for a second, I want you to think about your general fitness and strength. If you are a little out of shape, what’s the one thing you can do to improve it? Strengthening your core is the perfect start, because it affects nearly every other part of your body.

Now let’s apply that analogy to your business. You have to focus on your core audience when planning your new product launch. Talk to them — and only them — in a way which they can relate. Your target audience(s) will give your product launch the momentum it needs to succeed. After the initial excitement, the rest will come to you easier, and you’ll see more sales.

Organize an event

It doesn’t matter whether you are selling a physical product or a service; a launch event can give you the initial boost that you need. Get in touch with your state or city business department and find out if there are any empty premises available.

Look for something striking, perhaps with exposed brickwork or beautiful features. Contact your local steel suppliers to find surplus floor plates for a modern, urban look. They’re good for safety, look fantastic, and can lead people straight into your main sales area. Let the local press know, and invite all your friends, family, and social networks.

Hire a local DJ to set the mood, and a caterer to provide hors d’oeuvres. It’s amazing what a little music and food can do for an event! The bigger buzz you create for your event, the bigger buzz there will be about your product. A launch night is all about adding that extra bit of pizzazz.

Make people an offer they can’t refuse

My final suggestion is to entice people to take action. You should be doing this as early as possible in the process. Advertise your product online, and let people know when they can expect to see it.

Encourage them to sign up by offering them a better deal — 25% off for example — if they give you their email address. Keep in touch with them and offer early access to anyone that wants it. Or you could give away early or exclusive access as a prize to help drum up even more excitement ahead of your launch. Early adopters are always eager to try new products and spread the word to their social circles.

As you get closer to launch day, ramp up their interest with more frequent emails. Don’t overdo it, though. When the big day arrives, relax and enjoy the culmination of your efforts. Best of luck with your new launches, and let us know how your big day goes!

What tip(s) would you add for a successful product launch?

What has been your favorite product launch to date (by you or another brand)?

p.s. Are you planning on launching a new product or service? Let’s discuss a plan to make your big day a success!

Thinking BIG,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about product launches, marketing your services or otherwise):
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Essential Guide To Creating A Memorable Brand For Your Small Business

Branding is all about resonating with your target audience. If you want to cut through the incessant chatter of the online world or make an impact in the offline world, then your brand needs to say a lot about you.

But how do you go about creating a brand that both reflects what you do and that forms a connection with your customers? For small and mid-sized businesses on a budget, it’s a tough job. So we’ve put together this guide to help you find some answers.

Branding by EdgeThreeSixty via CC BY 2.0

Ask yourself who you are

Be honest about your business and who you are. While some companies, such as legal firms and funeral homes, should stick with a serious or solemn image, others can go with a more lighthearted, cheeky or even humorous approach.

This is where small businesses have an advantage. We can position ourselves as local companies who are helping our local economies while battling corporate behemoths who are sending profits far away. This ‘us vs. them’ message can work well; check out the Brew Dog story for inspiration.

“Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.”

Get your target audience right

To create a successful brand, you have to know who you are talking to, so researching your market is an essential part of the process. Find out who your customers are, what they do, and where they live.

Also, look at what they like and what encourages them to respond. What are their fears, hopes and dreams? Once you have learned enough about your target audience(s), you can create a tone of voice that connects with them.


Be consistent

Great branding is consistent. When people see your business, they should know exactly what to expect. So it’s important to reflect the same brand message throughout your organization. Make sure that employees, partners and anyone else spreading your message are using your tone of voice. Look at managed print services that can keep your marketing materials consistent. Give people what they expect, and they will continue to trust and work with you.


Be yourself

As a small business, you face disadvantages when competing against a national or global company. Don’t try to copy their branding and positioning, because you don’t have their resources to achieve the same results.

You have to look for a unique aspect of your business that differentiates you from your competition and let people know what that is. If they beat you on price, then offer value-added services that they can’t possibly match. There will be many things that you can do better than the big players, so figuring those out — and promoting them — is vital to your brand.

Related reading: Mad Men: Master Storytelling in Any Era


Don’t concentrate on winning new customers

Of course, bringing on new customers is always important, but as a small business it’s important to put more energy into retention. Your current clients are the people who buy from you already — and will be likely to buy more in the near future.

If you offer excellent service and forge long-lasting relationships with your current clients, you’ll grow your brand more than spending all of your time chasing potential new customers.

Related reading: Branding is a Feeling, Not a Noun

Do you want to create a memorable brand for your small business? Check out our other branding posts for tips and tricks or get in touch. We’d love to help you tell your brand story.

We give brands a voice,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your brand, the art of branding or otherwise):
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Does Your Brand Speak Emoji? 😎 💬 💻

Emoji. Those cute little characters that you add to your texts and tweets are all grown up — or at least getting there. In fact, the “picture letters” have moved into the business world.

Take the above example: Chevy used emoji to launch its 2016 Cruze, and the popular auto manufacturer isn’t alone. Brands continue to get into the emoji game, tapping into the characters’ popularity and universal appeal.

With today, July 17th, being World Emoji Day, brands across the globe, large and small, are getting into the act.

Brands utilizing emoji took a big step forward when Instagram announced that you can use emoji in your hashtags. This is a great move, expanding brands’ reach and allowing them to connect with people across time zones and languages. Considering that we live in a global world today, that’s good business.

As more people and companies use emoji, the demand for a wider variety of characters grows. According to Yahoo News, 38 new emoji are set to debut in 2016. We’re excited to see new business characters, such as a handshake and clinking glasses. The latter seems so much more appropriate to celebrate a business deal than clinking beer mugs.

Our goal in the short-term is to work on incorporating more emoji into our social media, including hashtags on Instagram. We recommend that you do the same. Just remember to use appropriate emoji for what you’re trying to convey and don’t go crazy. Even these cute little characters can make your audience want to face palm, and that character isn’t available until next year.

Emoji Talk

Are you planning on incorporating emoji into your brand’s social strategy?

CCC would love to see an emoji representing a brand. What would you suggest?

What brand does a great job of utilizing emoji?

p.s. Did you know that you can use emoji on Facebook via desktop too?

Majoring in emoji,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on emoji, branding or otherwise): 
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Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

Selfies tend to draw a reaction one way or the other. Some people love them while others hate them. But here’s the real question: are they awesome advertising for your brand or bad for business?

Selfies: Awesome Advertising or Bad for Business?

It depends on how you use them. For example, the above image is a selfie I took after a spring run two years ago. (Yes, I said spring, which includes snow in Northeastern Ohio.) I’ve used it a few times already for different purposes in addition to this post.

Why do I use selfies? As a small business owner, it benefits me to let customers and prospects see the face behind CCC. It allows people to put a face with a name and helps to build trust, essential for small businesses to survive and grow. When I started this journey over three years ago, my personal brand carried a lot more weight than my company’s brand because CCC was new. Utilizing selfies (and pictures of myself in general) helped me establish and promote my new company brand.

Related reading: 7 different types of selfies

Having said that, there’s a time and a place for everything. I only use selfies where it makes sense, either connecting something in the photo to my business or using the picture as an example. When I kicked this post idea around in my head, it made sense to me to use a selfie and this image immediately came to mind due to its color and layout. I’m not a huge fan of having my picture taken, so it’s taken me some time to get used to being more visible.

Related reading: 8 of the Absolute Worst Times to Take a Selfie

In addition to tapping into your personal brand and building trust with target audiences, being visible as a small business owner can also help your social media efforts. As we’ve covered before, photos with faces receive 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^ Showing faces in your photos brings in the human emotion element, which increases engagement on any network. Snap a selfie with happy customers at your next event or meeting to show what’s happening ‘behind the scenes’ at your business.

In summary, selfies can be awesome advertising for your brand AND bad for business, depending on how you use them. Think before you post a selfie to a business (or semi-business) account. Is it appropriate to post to this account? Will your target audiences find this image insightful? If so, go ahead and showcase your self(ie), letting customers and prospects alike see the face behind the business.

Selfie Talk

What are your thoughts on selfies?

Tell us about a selfie you saw or posted that made sense.

Did it surprise you when selfie was the word of the year for 2013?

Source: ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs

Hanging out behind the keyboard,
Jaime

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What’s your story?

image

Storytelling is a powerful tool in today’s business world. It allows us to connect on an emotional level with customers, so they become loyal, longtime clients.

It’s not about selling a product or service. It’s about understanding your clients’ challenges so you can solve them and make your clients’ lives just a little bit easier.

Every brand has a story, and your story is integral to your success.

What’s your brand’s story?

CCC’s Chief Storyteller,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on brands, storytelling or otherwise):
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Amazon Turns Its Boxes Into Ads With First Of Its Kind Marketing Deal For “Minions” Movie

Recently, we blogged about taking your message to your audience instead of waiting for them to come to you. Well, here’s a great example. Universal Studios partnered with Amazon to promote its new movie, Minions, on the retailer’s shipping boxes.

What a great idea! You can’t miss these bright and cheery boxes, and everyone from recipients to postal carriers is sharing pictures via social media. Heck, some people are even ordering something from Amazon just to get a Minions box. On that note, we may need some office supplies…

If you are a Minions fan, Amazon has you covered. Check out http://amazon.com/minions for nearly anything with the little yellow guys that you could possibly want.

Have you received a Minions Amazon box?

Are you going to order from Amazon to get one?

Have you seen or been in a partnership like this before?

Poopaye! (Goodbye in Minion-speak)
Jaime

Let’s chat (on the Minions, brand partnerships or otherwise): 
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