4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Easy: 5 Reasons Why It’s Worth It

Last week, we reminded everyone that social media isn’t free and recommended five ways to maximize your time and money. This week, we’re addressing another misperception.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

 

Social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. We’re not talking about the act of tweeting itself or posting pictures of your kids on Facebook or Instagramming every meal you eat.

We’re talking about getting social for business, engaging your brand’s communities and developing long-term emotional connections. In other words, creating fans for life.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?

Here’s 5 reasons why social media is worth it for your business:

  • Find New (Targeted) Customers: In a sea of 2.03 billion social media users*, someone is interested in your products or services. Find the right audience by utilizing hashtags, groups and platforms they’re using.
  • Delight Current Customers: 65% of customers leave over a single poor customer service experience.* Delight your current customers by providing amazing service via social media and beyond.
  • Participate in the Conversation: Customers will talk about you online and share their experiences with others. While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.
  • Deliver Content Straight to Your Fans: 61% of people are more likely to buy from a company that delivers content.* Deliver value to your fans by creating content they love, and you’ll have a better chance of converting them into customers.
  • Turn Fans into Fanatics: Consider this: 53% of people who follow brands on social media are more loyal.* After converting fans into customers, make them fanatics for your brand by delighting them every step of the way. They’ll become your best advertising!

As we said before, social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it if you do it right. Just remember that it’s a long-term addition to your marketing mix, not an overnight savior for your sales.

If you need help with your social media efforts, from strategy to management, we’d love to chat. There’s nothing that we love more than brands getting social — and getting it right.

Get Social on Social Media

Why is social media worth it for your brand or business?

How much time do you spend on social in a typical week?

Do you have a documented strategy?

What’s your brand’s favorite social media experience so far?

*Statistics via The Inbound Marketing Checklist: 21 Strategies for Growth

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, strategy or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Free: 5 Ways To Maximize Your Time & Money

Social media isn’t free. There, we said it. It’s been said before, but no one seems to believe it. Even if you’re not advertising or boosting posts, someone (or multiple someones) is spending time strategizing, creating content, posting and engaging with community members. Or at least we hope they are.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

Social Media Isn’t Free

Time is money, something that entrepreneurs and small business owners say often but don’t usually take to heart. We try to race full speed ahead doing everything ourselves, trying to fit 30 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. That’s a poor long-term strategy that leads to burnout and failure.

How can you maximize your time (i.e. money) on social media?

  • Think before you post. In other words, spend time putting together a strategy before you rush into creating a presence on a social platform. Think about the resources that you have (time, money, staffing), and factor that into your decision. Research your buyer personas to see which platforms prospective buyers are on, and talk to your current clients about which platforms they connect with brands on. Focus on platforms that fit your business niche the best.
  • Take advantage of holidays, special events and trends. We’re NOT telling you to use unrelated hashtags or run a special on an inappropriate holiday. However, you can reach new audiences by tapping into the marketing power of Small Business Saturday or jumping on the popularity of a trending hashtag. Just make sure that it’s applicable to what you do like the example below.

  • Get mileage out of your content. Repurpose content to fit other platforms, and continue to keep popular content in the rotation. It’s OK (and a good idea) to share a hot blog post multiple times, depending on the platform. For example, Twitter is a higher volume platform than Facebook, so it makes sense to share the same content at different times in different ways (i.e. a quote from the post vs. a picture tweet). Track your results, so you can see what works best with your audience.
  • Curate, don’t create. While original content targeted to your audience reigns supreme, it’s difficult to produce enough quality content to satisfy your audience all the time. That’s where content curation comes in. Find resources who are creating quality content that delivers value to your communities, and share it with them. There are a number of tools available to help with content curation, including Pocket, Buffer and Flipboard.

Related Reading: 11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

  • Spend your advertising dollars wisely. If you decide to advertise, put together a strategy first and review your options. What are you trying to achieve? For example, it may make more sense to boost a specific post showcasing what you do than advertising your Facebook Page in general. A Twitter Card may work better for you than a Promoted Tweet, depending on your objectives.

Social media isn’t free, but it is worth doing if you do it right. Figuring out your objectives first will help you determine how to proceed in the social landscape. If you have questions, let us know. From strategy to management, we’d love to help your brand get social — and see the results.

Get Social on Social Media

What social platform have you seen the best results on?

What’s your favorite content curation or social media management tool?

What holiday, event or trending hashtag have you tapped into with success?

Feel free to leave your social handles and/or URLs in the comments below, so we can connect.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, content marketing or otherwise):
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Why Grammar Still Matters (Even on a Smartphone)

Does your email signature on your smartphone contain the following disclaimer?

Sent from [insert smartphone model here]. Please excuse misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Sorry, it won’t save you.

This post is being typed on a smartphone, but I don’t expect you to excuse any errors. In fact, I’m embarrassed when I spot an error, even a minor one, in an old post.

Today, even in our 24/7, hyper charged world, grammar matters. Why?

Great advice from Grammarly: Spellcheck yourself before you wreck yourself.

1) It impacts your credibility.

Want to be a thought leader or subject matter expert? That’s hard when people struggle to read your thoughts. No matter the subject, readers will judge you for misspelled words and missing punctuation, which will change the conversation from what you had intended. Keep the focus on your knowledge, so you can impress.

2) Bad grammar makes you look unprofessional.

Go ahead: submit a resume, cover letter or business proposal with grammatical errors. You probably won’t be receiving good news. Business emails, texts and letters also reflect on you, so take time to proofread. It could be the difference between a thriving partnership or career and a missed opportunity.

Read: The Power of the (Red) Pen

3) It screams “stop getting social with us.”

We live in a digital world, so businesses need to get social to survive — and thrive. Customers, fans and prospects won’t share your posts if they’re chock full of grammatical errors. Already this week, I’ve been disappointed to see major grammar gaffes in posts I wanted to share, so I refrained. Lost advertising and missed opportunities don’t help businesses grow.

4) Bad grammar is bad for business.

In a recent Grammarly poll, 63% of respondents said they would hesitate to buy a product with grammatical errors. Several respondents even gave examples of what products they have passed up due to poor spelling or punctuation. Think about it. Wouldn’t you wonder about the quality of a product if there was a noticeable spelling error or poor grammar?

But I’m not a writer, you say. The fact is that most business professionals write more than ever today for the company blog, your LinkedIn profile or even an online portfolio. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of emails, social media and other communication.

Read: 4 Quick and Easy Ways to Make Your Business Writing Better

So take some time to understand the writing process or find someone to handle it for you. Don’t laugh; it’s no different than taking your car to a mechanic to have it repaired or hiring an accountant to mind your business finances.

You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your craft. Don’t ruin it with bad grammar!

%$#^%#$&%

p.s. If you’re looking for a professional to craft your prose, or even spruce things up, we’d love to help! Not sure what you need? Let’s talk. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on the wonderful world of writing.

A writing queen,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on grammar, writing, a new project or otherwise):
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Facebook Wants to be Your News Source: Is That What You Want?

Facebook’s at it again. The social behemoth has tweaked its News Feed algorithm to focus on time spent looking at a post — regardless of engagement.

Facebook wants to be your news source

Facebook wants to be your news source. But do you want to get your news from Facebook?

“We’ve discovered that if people spend significantly more time on a particular story in News Feed than the majority of other stories they look at, this is a good sign that content was relevant to them.”
-Ansha Yu, Facebook software engineer

The implications of this move could be interesting to brands. We had previously been encouraged via another News Feed algorithm update to share link-style posts instead of pictures. This move presented a dilemma to some pages, including CCC, because photo posts continued to draw more engagement while link posts now had a greater reach. So we mixed our post types in order to satisfy Facebook’s wishes and our audience’s.

Now Facebook is pushing even harder towards brands sharing link posts with its ‘time spent reading’ update. People rarely spend much time looking at photo posts, unless someone uploads an entire album or an infographic. You’re more likely to linger on a post while reading, whether it’s text or an article.

This move fits in with Facebook’s overall goal to be your destination for news. However, it seems that Facebook users don’t want to focus on the news when they visit the site. On the CCC page, we’ve always had a much higher engagement rate on photos than articles even if fans are clicking through to read the articles.

So let us ask you, Facebook users: What type of content do you prefer on Facebook?

A) Newsworthy articles
B) Fun/inspirational pictures
C) Updates from family/friends
D) Special offers from brands

For now, we’ll continue to offer a mix of newsworthy articles in our areas of expertise (marketing, writing and social media) along with fun pictures and tips in a visual format. But it will be interesting to monitor this development and see if Facebook is able to move closer to the news destination it wants to be.

Where do you see Facebook’s future — news, entertainment, connecting people or something else?

CCC’s Reporter Extraordinaire,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on Facebook, news or otherwise): 
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5 Ways To Showcase Services (& Boring Products) on Instagram

You’ve probably heard that visual marketing is all the rage these days, driving more interaction and traffic than text alone. Pair that trend with Instagram being the fastest-growing major social network in 2014*, and you’ve got a love affair — or so we thought. However, we were surprised at the lack of marketers, especially B2B, on Instagram.

5 Ways To Showcase Services (& Boring Products) on Instagram

Report Findings

Statistics on the popular visual social platform in Social Media Examiner’s recently released Social Media Marketing Industry Report were underwhelming, at least to CCC.

Instagram was the 7th most popular social platform for marketers in 2014, with 36% utilizing the site. Platform use did rise significantly from the previous year, with an eight percent increase. However, the disparity came to light when we looked at business-to-consumer (B2C) use vs. business-to-business (B2B) use, as the following chart indicates.

B2C vs. B2B social platform use chart

Social platform use differs significantly between B2C and B2B marketers, especially on LinkedIn.
Source: Social Media Marketing Industry Report

OK, so B2B marketers are a little slow to adapt to this platform. That might make sense until you look at future plans. Again, B2C marketers outpace their B2B counterparts with 60% likely to increase Instagram activities (compared to 40% of B2B marketers). What’s making B2B marketers hesitant to devote resources to Instagram?

Two Reasons Why B2B Marketers Aren’t on Instagram

We can think of two reasons to start. One, some B2B marketers feel like a platform or vehicle isn’t worth their time until they can advertise on it. With Instagram opening up advertising to all companies, that should draw more B2B companies to the platform. New ad formats, including a buy button, and enhanced targeting should help as well.

Two, several B2B companies sell services, and they may be having trouble understanding how to utilize the platform to promote what they do. (Even if they sell products, they may be considered ‘boring’ products, such as ink cartridges, paper, industrial cleaners, etc.)

Five Ways To Showcase Services (and Boring Products) on Instagram 

How do you showcase services (or ‘boring’ products) on Instagram?

  • Sell benefits, not features. Show how your products or services impact people or companies. For example, a picture of a sales letter may not be enticing, but a picture of my client’s happiness after making a sale using that letter conveys human emotion.

Photos with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^

  • Utilize picture editing tools. Tools such as Pic Monkey and Square InstaPic, among others, allow you to create professional images to showcase your work. A picture of my blog post on a modern marketer’s tools may not generate much interest, but this picture of the items mentioned in the post was a hit.


  • Share behind the scenes videos. Instagram’s the perfect place to ease into video production due to the 15-second maximum timeframe and built-in editing tools. Introduce employees, share an office tradition (bean bag toss break on Fridays!) or record brief tips on what you do. For example, share a marketing tip every Monday or a social media tidbit on Saturdays.

Seventy two percent of marketers plan to increase their use of video in the future.`

  • Be creative with built-in filters and editing tools. We’re not telling you to filter every picture you post, but the built-in editing tools that Instagram provides do appeal to users if used appropriately.

Organic Instagram-style photos can increase click-through rates from 2.35% to 8% and drive conversion rates by 25% over traditional photos.^^

  • Encourage followers, customers and other users to join your campaign by tagging their photos with a unique hashtag (i.e. #CCCgetssocial) and tagging your account in order to enter a contest or showcase how they use your products or services. User-generated content is powerful because other people are telling your story for you. Plus, Instagram stores photos that tag you in your profile so others can easily see them.

Top brands’ Instagram posts generated 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.**

So what’s a B2B marketer to do? Get visual on Instagram! But remember to put together a strategy first, just like you would with any other marketing initiative. Your customers (and potential customers) will like what they see.

What’s your favorite Instagram account to follow?

Where does Instagram rank in your favorite social platforms?

Do you utilize the Instagram website at all or only the mobile app?

Intimidated by Instagram? Have no fear! We’d love to answer your questions or help you put together an approach to put your best face forward on this popular visual platform. Contact us or leave a comment below to join the conversation!

Sources:
*Pew Research Internet Project | ^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs
`Social Media Marketing Industry Report | ^^Laundry Service | **Forrester

Have an Instagram-worthy weekend!
Jaime

Let’s chat (on Instagram, the SMM Industry Report or otherwise): 
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Facebook Is An Enigma To Marketers But Its Still #1 (Most of the Time)

Social Media Examiner recently released its highly anticipated Social Media Marketing Industry Report. If you want to know how 3,700 fellow marketers are using social media to grow their businesses, then you’re in the right place. We’ll discuss a few key findings and surprises over the next few weeks that you can incorporate into your own plans.

Planet Facebook or Planet Earth?

“Planet Facebook or Planet Earth? by Paul Butler” via Duncan Hill via CC BY 2.0

Key Findings, Facebook Edition

Facebook, the ultimate enigma, at least for marketers. “While 93% of marketers are using Facebook, 68% want to learn more about it and 62% plan on increasing Facebook activities. Only 45% of marketers think that their Facebook efforts are effective,” however 52% would stick with the social behemoth if only allowed to utilize one platform. So you use it and are planning on increasing efforts but aren’t confident your current efforts are effective. Got it.

These conflicting findings aren’t surprising given the overall size of the platform and marketers’ struggles with connecting to their audiences on it. You realize the potential in Facebook but have yet to see your substantial efforts pay off. It is interesting to see that marketers are planning on increasing their activities despite the number of “I’m quitting Facebook” articles making the rounds.

If you’re frustrated with Facebook (which we all are from time to time), take a step back and look at the big picture. What are you trying to accomplish? What type of content is your audience most receptive to in this environment? While general tips are helpful to get started, you need to utilize Insights or 3rd party analytics to build your own knowledge base. Your audience is unique, so what works best for another page may not be music to your audience’s ears.

Check out these new resources for Facebook marketers and get ready for some exciting updates coming in the near future, such as Facebook Messenger now being its own platform — and open for business. This is a game-changer for small businesses, especially the upcoming payment feature. If you haven’t heard, Facebook is adding a feature to Messenger that will allow you to send payments to other users, including businesses, for free.

Discover more helpful tips and tricks for succeeding on Facebook by checking out our blog posts on the subject. Or message us (here or on Facebook), so we can discuss your current status and how to get where you want to go.

SMM Industry Report: Facebook Edition Feedback

What’s your favorite way to use Facebook for business?

What feature is it missing?

What’s one tip that you would share with others using Facebook for business?

p.s. You can download a free copy of the Social Media Marketing Industry Report here.

Facebook fan and foe,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about the SMM Industry Report, Facebook or otherwise):
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How To Test Your Way To Success As a Small Business

As a small business, you have an advantage over larger competitors: agility. It’s harder for larger, more established companies to be agile. You can, and here’s how to use that to your benefit.

How To Test Your Way To Success As a Small Business

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3…

Test, test and test some more. Try things out. You may have noticed that the CCC blog publishing schedule has been a little off lately. That’s because we’ve been testing different publishing days and posts per week. We apologize if we’ve thrown off your reading schedule, but things should be settling down now. After studying our data, we’ve decided on a Tuesday and Friday publishing schedule (for now).

Related reading: Social Media Marketing: Try Stuff. Test. Repeat.

In addition to testing out publishing schedules, we also like to test our content in different formats and on different social platforms. For example, we usually tweet each CCC blog post twice within a few days to a week after publishing: once with the title & featured photo and once with a quote or a question that is discussed in the post.

On May 4, we tweeted the above tweet to promote a recent post, Twitter’s Retweet with Comment Feature Changes The Conversation. This tweet with the title and photo racked up 413 impressions and 16 engagements, which are fantastic for us. Then on May 7, we tweeted a quote from the post along with the social media hashtag. That tweet fared much worse, gaining 159 impressions and 1 engagement. Lesson learned: always tweet with pictures. Not so fast!

On May 8, we sent a title and photo tweet promoting a post, Inside/Out: Brands, Take Your Message To The People. It garnered only 94 impressions and 0 engagements. (The irony is that this same picture was a hit on Instagram, racking up 31 likes and 12 comments.) So on May 11, we sent a text-only tweet (shown above) that was viewed 311 times and engaged with 4 times.

Finally, we posted the picture shown below on Instagram on April 13th showing our love of all things Mad Men. (If you missed it, check out Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era, and you’ll understand at least part of our love affair.) It’s still pulling in traffic, currently at 69 likes and 25 comments. We also posted this picture on Twitter with fantastic results (5/17/15: 556 impressions and 19 engagements) and Facebook with less fantastic results (4/14/15: 11 people reached, 1 engagement).


Can anyone hear us?

Here’s our point: keep testing and trying things so you can stay in front of your audience, who is always moving. You’ll read so many posts that tell you to publish blog posts on Tuesdays at 10am and Facebook posts on Wednesdays at 3pm and LinkedIn posts on Thursday mornings at 7:30am. Those are general suggestions that can help you as you accumulate your own data to study and test. Your audience is unique, so they’ll set their own best practices. The hard part is breaking through all of the noise and clutter to hear, see and follow them.

Your Feedback

As a small business, we love your feedback! So let us hear it.

What suggestions do you have for the CCC blog?

What suggestions do you have for small business owners?

How has testing led you to success?

Enjoy your long weekend, but remember what Memorial Day represents. THANK YOU to everyone who has given the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country and freedom. And please, stay safe and be smart; don’t put a first responder in harm’s way.

Always testing, always learning,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on testing, small business or otherwise):
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