Social Media

Snapchat for Businesses: Pros & Cons

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Last summer, the following conversation occurred between a good friend and myself:

Me: “I got an iPhone! In no way am I qualified for this much technology!”

Friend: “You have to get Snapchat. NOW.

And, since I lack the forces necessary to counter peer pressure, the app was on my phone less than 5 minutes later.

For anyone who is unfamiliar, Snapchat involves taking a picture or video, adding a caption and/or drawing on the picture, and sending it to friends (who you can search for or add right from your contacts). The catch is you can set the viewing time between 1-10 seconds, which adds the urgency of “THIS MESSAGE WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN…”  The premise resembles a social experiment where  people  live free of consequences, and the ability to screenshot functions as a vague force that keeps (almost) everyone in line. Plus, you never know quite what to expect. When I explain this concept, some people  react as if I’m chatting up the sketchy guy standing alone in the corner of an already questionable basement party (I promise, it’s not that bad).

Business_Snapchat.jpg

Snapchat boils down to these basics:  it’s fun, easy, and at times, totally inappropriate. What’s not to love?

In the past months, businesses large and small tested Snapchat as a marketing tool. My knee-jerk reaction was Why would anyone want to get snaps from businesses? Well, after taking a bit of time to ponder the issue, I came up with this list of business snap pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Exclusive, One-on-One Connection with Customers:   Snapchat provides a new way to engage with customers on a personal level. For example, some use it as a way to take customers “behind the scenes.” For smaller businesses with a close-knit customer base, this might be a fun way to communicate. All you need is a cell phone number (or, give your company’s profile name to customers, and let them add you). Roughly 63% of people use the internet on their mobile phones , and most likely check e-mail and Facebook. Snapchat doesn’t get tied up in that stuff: it’s a different thing altogether, which means more room for your message to be seen. Plus, unlike e-mail blasts or status updates, snaps are sent to individuals who can’t see the other recipients, making it feel like a message meant just for them.
  • New Medium for Contests and Giveaways: For example, 16 Handles is recognized as one of the first businesses to implement Snapchat as a marketing tool. The giveaway went like this: customers added the company on Snapchat, sent them a snap (which had to be a picture of them at a 16 Handles), and in return, a snap was sent back with a coupon (with anywhere from 16-100% discount). In order to redeem the coupon, customers had to wait until they were at the register before opening it. Sure, this could’ve worked with a different medium. I’ve seen department stores mail coupons that get scanned or scratched off at the time of purchase to reveal the discount. Using Snapchat instead reaches a different age group altogether, and saves the trees.
  • No One Else is Doing It: Well, that’s an exaggeration. But in the grand scheme of social media, Snapchat is still considered emerging. Discovering how to implement it in an entrepreneurial way remains a challenge, but it may be rewarding for the businesses who try.

Cons:

  • Junk Mail Potential: Most people assume that if businesses start using the app, they’ll constantly be sending spam snaps, and the whole experience will lose its appeal. One person’s “Oh that’s fun!” is another person’s “Stop marketing to me!”
  • May Not be Worth the Time: The 16 Handles Contest, while innovative and successful, made the customer do quite a bit of work for slightly cheaper fro-yo. While it doesn’t require Herculean amounts of effort, the snapping back-and-forth might feel cumbersome to some people, and thus not worth their time to participate. For businesses using it as a way to send “behind the scenes” or what have you, if they see people aren’t opening the snaps, or otherwise engaging, it may make sense to either try a different approach or scratch the snaps altogether.
  • It Leaves No Trace: In terms of meaningful forms of communication, Snapchat a few steps below texting. The whole appeal is that the content doesn’t last. It’s fleeting in nature. I get a Snapchat from a friend, open it, laugh a little, and go on with the day. Depending on something that lasts 10 seconds (at most) to build a consumer base seems like a recipe for failure.

So, whether or not you decide to try Snapchat for your business, I definitely recommend it for entertainment purposes. My only example is this snap below, from last December. Could I have e-mailed or texted it? Yes, but I wanted to spare my friends the burden of having “Wrecking Ball” stuck in their head all day, so I sent the type of message that cleans up after itself.

Wrecking_Snap

A Yuletide Miley tribute.

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Instagram And Your Business

Did you know people can ‘tag’ your business on Instagram and upload pictures about it?

Don’t worry, people, that’s what I’m here for.

Now if you want to use Instagram for your business, here’s a quick guide for creating an account (with screenshots) someone else wrote.

But if you’re sitting there thinking ‘How can I see what people are posting about my business?’ that’s what I’m going to tackle here.

First of all, you need 1) a smartphone and 2) an Instagram account.

Sorry, you just do.

Now let’s assume you have both these things. The easiest way for me to see  my business stuff is to take a photo and upload it tagging my business. (There might be other ways to do this, this is just my way):

1) Take a photo:

takeiphonepictureinstagram

1a) You can pick a filter/crop it a bit:

applyfilterinstagram

2) Add some information in the caption (I tagged Derrick, my man friend, in this case since he transplanted this for me.)

instagramshareimagelocation

3) Click ‘Name this location’ and add yours. (Aside: Instagram pulls in map data from a bunch of different sources like TomTom and Yelp so if you aren’t coming up, get your business datamapped!)

instagramlocationpicked

4) Click ‘Share’ on the bottom.

Once your listing is uploaded, you can click on the writing in blue…

taggedlocationininstagramfeed

And see who else has uploaded photos.

Since my business is tiny, I took screenshots of another business (in this case Side Street Cafe) to let you see some cool stuff:

instagramsidestreet

So don’t assume because you don’t use Instagram that people who come to your business aren’t. (Classic mistake to think everyone is like you… and one I make almost daily.)

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: What Social Media Sites Should I Be Using?

As a business, it’s becoming increasingly crucial to put yourself out there on social media accounts.There are hundreds of social networks… how do you know which one you should spend time on? Basically, be where your customer is!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

LinkedIn: The Sleeper Social Network

linkedinMost of the time, when people talk about social media, what they are really talking about is Facebook.

No one has ever asked me to give a LinkedIn seminar and when I talk about building my network using it, I usually get a couple eye rolls.

Here’s the thing though. To me, LinkedIn is that quiet but really nice nerd in your high school class that goes on to found the Fortune 500 company. You kind of wish you would have invested a little effort getting to know him while you sat at the same cafeteria table. And quite honestly, all the nerd wanted is just a little bit of effort (which is a lot more than you can say of your high maintenance friend Facebook, which requires you to post multiple times a day since only 2-3% of people see your posts ever.)

Here’s why I think LinkedIn could be doing more for you if you spent maybe 15 minutes a week updating your profile, sharing links/ideas, and recommending other people you’ve worked with:

1) It got me my biggest contract ever.

On my skills, I listed a familiarity with Joomla among other softwares. I thought no more about it.

A year later, one of my contacts, someone I don’t even know that well, sent me a private message about his organization’s Joomla site. What that short message exchange turned into was a 1.5 year contract that is the biggest I’ve gotten to date. Turns out that, while they were most interested in my marketing background, the fact I could use Joomla is what sealed the deal.

LinkedIn allows you to display your skills to a group of people you already know. Because let’s face it, people like to hire people that they know… but your Facebook friends might not know you can use InDesign or have a job history with medical non-profits. LinkedIn allows you to display these things in a completely non-selly way.

2) Your information is visible and lots of people in the market for someone like you are looking at it.

Here’s a screenshot of a slower week on LinkedIn for me:

linkedin-lurkers

While I’m sure lots more people look at my profile on Twitter in a given week, I bet most of them aren’t looking to actually hire me like the 11 prospects on LinkedIn searching for someone like me this past week.

People spend so much time on their own websites that they don’t understand that people in decision making positions are using LinkedIn to do their research.

Why is this still true of a very old social network. In my opinion, LinkedIn has partly survived as long as it has because it’s never been a trendy place to be. If you want a broken down demographic of LinkedIn compared to other social networks, this giant but useful infographic is for you. (Summary: LinkedIn skews older, higher educated, and higher income than the most popular social networks.)

3) Make it look like you are on top of your game with weekly digests.

While Facebook is cluttered with vacation photos and links to Buzzfeed quizzes, LinkedIn is all work. You get notified if 1) Someone changes job or 2) shares some likely work-related link (most people don’t so if you actually do, you’ll stand out) or 3) wants to connect with you.

My LinkedIn weekly email digest gives me my network at a glance in a way looking at other networks doesn’t do.

Also by actually posting articles, I show up in other peoples’ weekly digests. Several people have emailed me after seeing a blog post or link I shared on LinkedIn. No one does that about what I share on Pinterest, no matter how cool it is.

So if you are at all in the market to be hired for something, whether you are underemployed, self-employed, or the kind of person/firm that gets hired by other businesses, I recommend you spending a bit of time on LinkedIn. It might not be the coolest thing you’ve done this week but when you are sitting on your nerd friend’s private jet six months from now, that won’t matter so much.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Tech Thursday: Doing More With Images On Social Media

We all know images are great for websites like Facebook and Pinterest, but are you using them in the best way possible?

Here are a few tips that will allow you to spend five extra minutes and get much better results from your marketing efforts!

Kassie is a distance runner and a distance reader really. She lives in Ellsworth Maine and, while she might be quiet when you meet her, will throw out something witty when you least expect it.

Have No Idea What To Say On Social Media? Read This.

Something about a blinking cursor can give even the most enthusiastic writing types writers block.

This post is unblocking this writers block when you update your social media profiles.

Here’s a couple things to think about:

1) It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one’s going to die if you get it wrong and too many people wait around for perfection.
2) It doesn’t have to be amazing. You only have to be clever for about two sentences, max.

With that in mind, for every client I work with, I come up with a content plan for each social network.

Let’s say I’m… a kitchen remodeling specialist. Here might be my Facebook content plan:

Mondays: Kitchen Remodeling Tip of the Week
Tuesdays: Kitchen of the Week (photo)
Wednesdays: Review of Kitchen product (could be on my blog or elsewhere)
Thursdays: Recipe
Friday: BUY MY CRAP

Here are what some of those posts could look like:

remodeltipfacebookpost

fbpostkitchenoftheweek

Now a couple of things here:

1) I credited the original source for my information in both cases and
2) If I care about tracking what things people like, I use bitly.com links. If I don’t really care whether people click or not (or if it’s something on my own website), I can just throw the link in there. (More on this in a future blog entry!)

I’m not changing the world here. I’ve just given myself something to work with. When I open Facebook and it’s a Thursday, I know I should go find a recipe to share. When it’s Monday, I find a remodeling tip. I’m never ‘stuck’ for what to say. If some day I have something else I’d rather share, it’s alright; I just have this as a framework to approach social media and force myself to be creative and on-topic.

The other thing you’ll notice in my first list is the BUY MY CRAP post, which I am thinking about for Fridays for this fake person.

Most of the time on social media, you won’t be posting your own stuff. You want to be conversational, knowledgeable, interesting, helpful. But occasionally, you should remind people about your business. (And you shy people are particularly bad about asking for the sale).

Now what do I mean by BUY MY CRAP? You could

  • A link to an item someone can buy
  • A link to where they can leave a review
  • A link to subscribe to an email newsletter
  • A flyer for your upcoming sale
  • A link to another social media account
  • A link to make a donation to your cause

You get the idea. You give yourself the space, one day a week to promote or cross promote something your business is doing.

Here are a couple of my BUY MY CRAP posts:

selfpromoteypost1

selfpromoteypost2

The other bonus of having some set things you share? People can start to look forward to them. By the third of fourth week, Thursdays your fans/friends are subconsciously looking for that review post and wondering what it is going to be about. Even if they haven’t consciously picked up on the pattern. That’s why traffic on this site spikes on Tuesdays and Fridays, because that’s when people have come to expect new blog posts.

Now you’re sharing plan is going to be different and depend on the social network as well as what kind of business you have… but you really should make one.

A few other fake sample ones:

Jeweler on Twitter

Monday: Post about a celeb who wore jewelry well recently (link to photo)
Tuesday: Retweet something in the #jewelry hashtag.
Wednesday: Jewelry related quote
Thursday: BUY MY CRAP
Friday: Thank people who have retweeted this week

Coffee Shop on Instagram

Monday: #firstcupofcoffee photo
Tuesday: Customer of the week photo
Wednesday: BUY MY CRAP (In this case since it’s a photo only website, maybe a photo of a pairing idea (food with beverage) that you sell. Maybe all pairings could be under $10 which you could say in every caption.)
Thursday: From around town photo
Friday: Staff at work photo

You get the idea, if you step back from what you are doing and think ‘How can I regularly be creative about this?’ you are ahead of a majority of people on social media.

So hopefully you feel unblocked and see the blinking cursor as something that’ll now take up way less time in your day… and open up a new way to have fun with your online marketing.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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