social media

Halloween and Social Media

Why are demons and ghosts always hanging out? Because demons are a ghoul’s best friend. 

Ghastly puns aside, Halloween might be the best holiday out there. Back in 2009, Americans spent nearly 6 billion dollars on Halloween related activities (costumes, candy, parties), and that number has since increased..  Plus, there’s almost no better holiday for social media sharing than Halloween. Here’s a few reasons why:

It’s not really offensive/religious.

Yes, there are some religious groups that don’t celebrate Halloween, but unlike the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza debacle, people don’t get super offended by this holiday. There is not too much in the way of offensiveness that comes of little kids (and adults with kid enthusiasm) dressing up and having fun.  Plus, it’s not a real family or couple-y holiday, it can be enjoyed by everyone from your 5 year old cousin to your 50 year old uncle who lives in your grandmother’s basement. No one has to cook anything and no one has to get stuck next to that Debbie Downer of a relative. It really just boils down to the basics: eat, drink, and be scary.

It’s an excuse for women to dress a little scantily. 

Alright, let’s not beat around the bush here. Our society secretly (and in sometimes not so secretly) likes scantily clad women. And on this one day of the year, every woman can dress a little trashier than she normally would in the name of a costume.

Mean_Girls

Also dudes can dress like women without anyone batting an eye. I can’t think of better fodder on Instagram. #halloweenrules.

People are expecting, and executing, pranks.

Raise your hand if you’ve seen a pranky Youtube video? When do you think most of those get produced? Likely when there is a higher tolerance for weird things happening than normal (there’s a reason why we say “Trick or treat,” after all).

People have devised shenanigans that go beyond t.p.-ing their teacher’s house. This is a great example of a stunt that went viral last year:

These videos are great material for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. If you’re scheming a clever prank of your own, just keep safety in mind.

There are lots of parties.

Nothing says ‘social media’ like throwing a party. Halloween parties are fun for kiddos and adults alike, and offer a chance for creativity to run rampant with games, costumes, decorations, and food/beverage selections. The hype begins with the invites and builds until the actual event. Everyone has a chance to share costume ideas, or keep it top secret until the party and blow everyone else’s mind. I have been invited to three Halloween parties on Facebook… definitely more than the amount of Fourth of July barbecues or New Year’s Eve parties I was invited to this past year.

If you’re planning on throwing a graveyard smash of your own, social media can be a great planning resource, and a way to get the word out to people. There are so many fun games, like Dizzy Mummy, so there’s no reason to make anyone bob for apples.

Costume ideas all over the place.

If you are game to make your own costume, Pinterest and blogs can show you everything from how to execute realistic fairy wings to 100 costume ideas that cost $5 or less. The DIY zombie makeup tutorials are also gruesome, in the best possible way.  For those who leave their costume creation until the last possible minute, there are plenty of 5 minute costume ideas. So, if you’re uninspired or a procrastinator, get on Pinterest, and you’re guaranteed to have a costume plan in no time. Which gives you more time for gathering candy, in the true spirit of the holiday.

Whether you decide to go solo, as a couple, or in a group, social networks can help generate some ideas. And then, there’s the added fun of sharing the finished product on Facebook or Instagram. One piece of advice (that I learned so you don’t have to): if you have to explain your costume, it probably isn’t very good.

 

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween!

And we hope everyone gets better treats than Charlie Brown.

And we hope everyone gets better treats than Charlie Brown.

 

 

Tech Thursday: When Should You Pay for Online Advertising?

One of the cool parts of marketing online is that, for the most part, it’s free. But sometimes, it does pay to pay for some online advertising. What are the options? Why should you spend money to promote your business on Facebook? We have some answers!

This video is all about how to strategically spend your advertising money online, whether it’s by using Pay Per Click advertising on a site like Google, or through targeted ads on social networks. Remember, the key isn’t to spend the least amount of money- it’s to spend your money in a way that will get the most returns to your business.

And, hopefully after watching this edition of Tech Thursday, you too, will make it rain.

Ride the Yak: Why YikYak is Possibly My New Favorite App

I’m generally accustomed to being the “in-the-know” person in my circle of peeps (unless we’re talking Twitter or Seinfeld references), but during our recent Boston trip, our friend Matt totally won the “Have you heard about ______?” game. Matt introduced Nicole and I to a little app called Yik Yak. It is AWESOME, and kind of addictive. It follows SnapChat’s model of “leave no trace,” which people seem to find more and more appealing lately.

In hindsight, my brother definitely already tried explaining Yik Yak to me while he was at Bowdoin (college students are the target demographic, and the app is most popular on the East Coast), but, I clearly was only half-listening.

How does Yik Yak work? Yik Yak is more or less the social media love-child of Twitter and Whisper. You can post an update of up to 200 characters, and its completely anonymous. You can’t upload any pictures, so its an all-text app. It also uses your location, so you can only see yaks (“yaks” are to Yik-Yak what tweets are to Twitter) that’ve been sent out within a 5 mile radius. If you’re in a city, there’s a LOT of material coming in throughout the day. If you’re in a more rural area, it’s unfortunately less exciting. Especially when no one else has YikYak.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents' home in Milbridge.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents’ home in Milbridge.

As one might imagine, coming back from an introduction to this app in Boston and then traveling back to Trenton/Bar Harbor/Milbridge, Maine was a bit disappointing. We’ve probably seen the same 3 Yaks over the course of the month (most of them from visiting people complaining that no one here uses Yik Yak). I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this changes in the next month or so, because it’s a great source of mindless amusement.

Seagull_Yak

To interact with others on YikYak, you can upvote, downvote and/or reply to something they’ve written (which also happens anonymously). A neat self-monitoring tool of YikYak is that if a post gets a certain amount of downvotes, it will disappear entirely (so if someone posts something especially inflammatory, other people can downvote it to make it go away). And, as you might imagine, people tend to hide behind the safety of anonymity to say/do some negative things.

The Dark Side:

The intended age for Yik Yak use is 17 and older, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t keep out the younger kids. These kiddos (and the college students, I’d guess) are using it for cyberbullying purposes, and apparently bomb threats. Despite being an anonymous post, there are ways to trace it back to a certain phone when the content is a clear threat to others.

Instead of knocking the app itself, or using our energy to forbid kids to use social media, doesn’t it make more sense to educate them about respecting each other? Just because you CAN be mean to someone (with no consequences) doesn’t mean you should. And there’s really no age limit on that philosophy.

 

Sad, but true.

Sad, but true.

 

 

Selfie Madness

Here’s the thing about selfies:  you may absolutely love them, or denounce them and everything they stand for, but chances are you’ve taken one. Or have at least thought about taking one. According to this infographic, about a million people take a selfie every day.

 Selfie_Stats

Sometimes, hearing the word “selfie” is enough to produce some heavy eye rolling, yet it’s also comical to see selfie fails go by and vaguely wonder what is happening to society. On the other hand, I feel like there’s more and more stories about people going to extreme lengths for “The Ultimate Selfie,” which in turn makes me wonder if things have perhaps gone a bit too far.

You have so many other things to be worried about right now, man.

You have so many other things to be worried about right now, man.

From what I’ve observed, it seems that people generally have two issues with selfies. The first is that they can be obnoxious in a social setting. Going out to dinner, a movie, the gym, or wherever- you may encounter people taking selfies. To me, selfies in public are kind of like seeing someone pick his nose. I’d probably prefer he didn’t, but it’s not really interrupting my life so it doesn’t bother me that much (and, hey, I might want to keep the option open for myself, so why judge?). However, if he came over and wiped his nose on me, I’d freak out a little. Unless a person’s selfie is directly interfering with another person’s life, I guess I don’t see the problem.

The second grievance is that some consider the selfie a ploy for attention, as if all selfies should be captioned: “Please look at me and give me validation. Pleeeease” To a certain extent, this is probably true. There are some interesting studies circulating these days about what goes on in our brains when we post selfies on social media. Many of these studies claim taking “too many” (interestingly, there is no actual number for the “right” amount of selfies one should take) is a sign of underlying mental disorder- namely narcissism and addiction. Then, there’s the mental process that happens after a selfie has been taken, potentially retouched, and uploaded into the world for approval. People can apparently get a bit neurotic post-posting, becoming fixated on the number of “likes,” comments, and positive/negative attention their picture receives. This kind of behavior is concerning, and the studies argue that this process of attention-seeking will set people off into this compulsive-behavior spiral of selfie taking and no one will ever find true happiness. More or less.

Some also claim that selfies are a way of “branding” ourselves as individuals, which I find pretty intriguing. It makes sense: the process is about constructing an image and presenting it to the world as “You.” Branding is about telling a story, and, when it really boils down to it, so is taking a selfie. In other words, selfies = self-definition. The problem starts when self-definition shifts from the picture itself to the amount of attention it gets from others.

This llama's selfie habit is clearly getting in the way of it's day-to-day life.

This llama’s selfie habit is clearly getting in the way of it’s day-to-day life.

Selfies aren’t all bad, though. This article brings up an interesting argument for selfies, and how they can help parents teach their kids positive lessons about self-image. Being childless, I never thought about this. The article discusses negative image issues that many women deal with post-children, and, as a result, they don’t want to appear in pictures with their children. It turns out, the advent of selfies changed all of that. Now, women are appearing in photos with their children, which will ideally impart something positive about self-worth to their kiddos: “I

want them to learn that we, as their parents, see ourselves as good enough to star alongside them in the photographic records of their lives.” It’s a good point- we’re all setting examples, whether we realize it or not, so why not make it a positive example?

Ultimately, people are going to keep taking selfies, and there will be ongoing speculation about mental stability and what filter someone’s using. Whatever your stance on selfie taking, just remember: no duckface.

Unless you are literally a duck.

Unless you are literally a duck.

Online Video and SEO

Way back when, search engines relied heavily on text. But in the age of Youtube empires and search results including videos, it is time to realize that video and doing well in online searches actually go hand in hand.

videoinsearchresults

Think about it:

Youtube = Search Engine

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google and attracts 157 million unique visitors per  month. So people are going directly onto Youtube to find information they need.

Worried about your performance in Google? Videos are 53 times more likely to be on the first page of search results.

So if you want to do good in search engines, make videos, upload them with good titles and descriptions to sites like Youtube or Vimeo, and make sure in the description and on your profile, you link back to your own website.

Video Websites = Social Networks

Youtube has 1 billion monthly active users (as of March 2013). Vomeo has 25 million members with a 70%+ international audience. In other words, people go on video sharing websites (not just large networks like Youtube and Vimeo but video sharing sites/curating sites like Upworthy or Godvine) and not only watch your initial video but all the videos on your channel (this obsessive watching has a term now: binge watching).

So not only do people connect with your video, they might see what else you have to say, what else you are liking and commenting on, and otherwise want to interact with you.

Video = Sticky website content

There are entire websites built on curating specific groups of videos (Upworthy and Godvine above but also even very specific websites like Twitch, where you can watch people play online video games in real time).

People are four times as likely to stay on a website that has video on it. In other words add video to your site and not only are people more likely to come but they’ll also be more likely to stay.

Video = Less competition (for now)

I do this exercise when I talk to groups.

1) How many of you have watched a website video this week? (99% of people raise their hands.)
2) How many of you have watched a website video today? (Depending on the time of day it’s at least 50% but sometimes close to 99%.)
3) How many of you have made an online video in the last month? (0 hands go up)

In other words, here is this thing that people want but not many people are making. A low supply/high demand scenario at its best. If you are the ones making the videos that other people are watching, you win!

So this is why we have resolved to do more with video this year: because not only is it a cool thing to do but also because it is worthwhile in terms of online visibility. And it’s never been easier folks so step in front of that camera and let’s see what you’ve got!

Click here to binge watch Tech Thursday… 

Tech Thursday: How to Avoid Shady Web Developers

This week’s video is all about weeding out the wrong sorts of people to work with (in terms of web developers). But, how do you tell if a web developer is shady? Interestingly, the signs are similar to dating a shady sort of person. Does he/she nag you about your site’s appearance or overall function? Is he defensive or secretive about offering examples of past work? And, finally,  does he only have ONE client that he seems to mention all the time?

The moral of the story: If someone gives you a weird vibe, do you really want to trust him/her with your business? Don’t settle!

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