Why Small Businesses Need to Adapt to Social Media’s Teenage Years

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Let’s be honest with ourselves, when you hear somebody say “I’ve never heard of Twitter,” or “I don’t tweet” you might double take – at least on the inside. The inner marketer in you can’t believe there’s someone out there who hasn’t heard of Twitter. Twitter has been around for …

That’s where you get sidetracked. You know Twitter’s old, but it can’t be that old. As it so happens, Twitter changed everything with its inception in 2006. And although it’s not even 10-years old in human years, being seven years old in fast moving social media years makes it an adolescent, roughly speaking.

Twitter, and Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. are no longer a new-borns. You’ve been talking about them the same way you talk about your 16-year-old nephew – you hold your palm to your knee and say, “I remember when you were this big.” Similarly, the same incentives that worked for your nephew when he was “yay tall” no longer work on the teenage version. It’s the same with social media.

It’s time we really examined why – not how – today’s users are communicating across social networks, and why we as marketers cannot afford to limit our business efforts to just strategic silos. As Twitter and Facebook grow-up, the SMBs who approach their customers on common ground will enjoy the most success.

Here’s how SMBs can use Teenage Twitter and Teenage Facebook to enhance their brand:

Twitter

TWITTER AS A YOUNGSTER: The “mentions” landscape was fractured, directionless and often low-value. SMBs participated because the consumers were there, but they didn’t know why they were there or what they necessarily wanted to talk about.

TWITTER NOW: Twitter, as an adolescent, is a self-sustaining marketplace. Consumers engage the businesses they love because the nature of communication on social media is “out of the norm.” The veil of Internet anonymity mixed with the wonton desire for greater personal gain creates an environment through which consumers are entitled. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for small businesses.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: The communication marketplace on Twitter is fluid and has a very short shelf life. The number of users on Twitter is far larger than you may imagine. Not all your customers engage on Twitter, but many listen. The best SMBs understand this and play with it. Here’s how you can present a better image to all: Follow your customers on Twitter. Read their posts (yes this takes time, but there’s a direct relationship between time invested and trust gained). Engage with them on their interests. Because it’s your customer, they need to know that your business is using Twitter to make them feel special. Do this for a few customers, and more will recognize the “special” value they can gain by meeting you there. Take Oreo for instance, they regularly meet consumers on the consumer level. This tweet provided only slim brand association, yet was still highly engaged upon due to the brand sponsoring its community’s interests. For some of the best small business engagement, follow @UnMarketing, @RamonRay and Anita Campbell of @SmallBizTrends and see how they conduct conversations.

Facebook

FACEBOOK AS A YOUNGSTER: The introduction of ads and privacy concerns initially put Facebook users and business at odds. Facebook took some time to fine tune its platform: traditional display ads made way for sponsored stories, sponsored accounts and higher values on visual content (more on that soon), Facebook has certainly been an up-and-down in its youth. Brands and businesses were in an arms race to gain more likes, without having a real-world understanding for what a “like” meant.

FACEBOOK AS A TEENAGER: Everybody uses Facebook (Moms, Kids, Teenagers, even cats and dogs). Your content may only be delivered to a certain percentage of your already-gained audience. BUT, your beacon of branding still exists as a landing page, and now it’s mobile. And as any parent will tell you, a mobile phone is a teenagers third hand.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES: Teenage Facebook tells us exactly what it wants. It wants fresh, visual content that looks great on that $600 smartphone. The emphasis is less about using it to post posts, and more about creating an environment where your consumers’ interests are sponsored and hosted on your Facebook page. Tactically speaking, this means SMBs should be focused on creating and posting more pictures, graphics, videos, videos of cats…For a good cue, go to MagCloud publisher BRINK Mag’s Facebook page. There’s tight integration with photo sharing, leading to more relevant and inspiring content. The key with strong visuals is allowing for a breadth of creativity, especially for SMBs. Create something memorable, and your consumers will be more inclined to participate, associate and share. For a great example of memorable visuals, visit the How to Market Your Horse Business Facebook page.

Have some ideas of your own? Agree/Disagree with how to treat Twitter and Facebook as they grow up? Let us know in the comments!

A Pinterest Q&A With MagCloud Publishers

Pinterest LogoBy now, you’ve seen some of the investments the social media community has made in Pinterest. The visual inspiration engine resonates with communities in such a natural way it’s no wonder that the little network that could is on a meteoric growth trajectory. But as Pinterest usage and prevalence increases, marketers are beginning to ask themselves how best to leverage the platform to get its message out.

MagCloud publishers have been using Pinterest for some time, with good success thus far. We’ve reached out to some “Pinteresting” publications to understand more about Pinterest’s benefits: Cory Ann Ellis (Pinterest page here)– of AC Ellis Photography, SD Wedding Style and The Cake Lady Bakery – and Trey Hill – who uses both MagCloud and Pinterest for Square Root of Nine, a story telling agency.

Have some thoughts, tips or ideas of your own? Let us know in the comments! And as always, if you’d like to respond to us or the authors, the comments section is the place to be.

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MagCloud: Have your publications used Pinterest for promotion recently? What have you seen from the platform that made the promotion unique?

Cory Ann: “We actively use Pinterest to promote our print and web publications. Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform, and the viral exposure a company can receive through pinning is an important component of our marketing strategy.”

Trey Hill:  “As the owner of a storytelling agency, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish what I do for myself and what I do to further our story. At some point, I just embraced that the line is blurry. I do use Pinterest regularly to bookmark images, stories and styles that I find appealing. I try to temper promoting my business, but do have a few boards that highlight my work.”

MagCloud: What do you think Pinterest might offer publishers that is unique to publishing (as opposed to the advantages for other small businesses)?

Cory Ann: “I think Pinterest offers publishers an opportunity to generate continued support and readership of past publications. When your publication is long off the shelf or not at the top of your promotional efforts, you have the ability through Pinterest to promote past issue sales, articles and advertisers. What a great way to stretch your reach and create a good use of past content rather than collecting dust in a lost folder on your hard drive.”

Trey Hill:  “I’m certainly no publishing expert, but I think whether you’re a publication, small business, non-profit or sports team, Pinterest offers you the ability to curate tangible expressions of your brand’s story. You can craft a character and associate yourself, powerfully, with ideas, imagery and products you admire. However, most brands I interact with on Twitter aren’t taking advantage of this aspect of Pinterest.”

MagCloud: What are some tips that may help other publishers to get started on Pinterest?

Cory Ann: “Try not to only pin promotional pieces for your own business, but also images, services and products that supplement your business or life. For small businesses, Pinterest offers an easy method to allow your customers and readers to get to know the owners and employees by creating personal style boards. A personal connection is so important to brand and business loyalty, and this is a great easy way to reach out to your customers and share in a subtle way, without taking up vital print space. Pin images directly from your site or blog. Be sure the link back on Pinterest leads to a specific post and not just your home page. Use simple clear descriptions and hashtags on the images you pin. Make it easy for viewers to find your pins when they search.”

Trey Hill:  “Don’t be scared to pin things that might not end up in a click back to your website. People respect organizations that are secure enough in their own identity that they are free to applaud the efforts of others. And, when you begin to point people to the things you admire, more often than not, the favor is returned.”

MagCloud:  Pinterest is a highly visual social media platform, how can you use that style to promote your publication? 

Cory Ann: “We are visual people and the use of good images and design can draw a viewer in and entice them to read a full article or publication. We like to post images of our publication that link back to our sale page on Pinterest. Also a board can be created for each article or issue to supplement the publication and drive traffic back for a full purchase or download. Behind the scenes and extra images that don’t make the article are great to draw the viewer in without compromising the distribution of the original content. Most publications are driven by advertisers. By pinning the ads, websites and products of your advertisers, you create an increased value to your ad sales.”

Trey Hill:  “First, let me start with a warning. Self-promotion in social media of any kind needs to be tempered. Heavily. Make sure you’re pinning 15-20 items that have nothing to do with you directly for everyone that points back to you. If you can make that ration even larger, do it. As Brian Regan so appropriately warned, ‘Beware the Me Monster.’ I am continually impressed with Warby Parker’s strategy for pinning. This past summer they launched a Blue Mirror sunglass lens & created a board that featured pins with that shade of blue. Of the 39 pins on the board, only one featured the glasses themselves. That was an interesting idea and could apply to publications as well. Does your current issue have a theme that you could pin from? What about doing boards inspired by the various stories? That kind of thinking gets people excited and generates repins and conversation, which in-turn builds loyalty to your brand and the larger story you’re trying to tell.”

MagCloud’s Favorite Instagram Users and Hashtags

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If you’re not already following @HPMagCloud on Instagram, you should be! We love to engage with our publishers and see MagCloud publications and products out in the wild–how you use them, where you enjoy them and cool pictures of your work coming together… So when you decide to show off your MagCloud product, be sure to tag us (@hpmagcloud) or use the #magcloud hashtag.

In the meantime, we have a few favorite Instagram users we’re following, and some suggested hashtags for when you share the MagCloud love on Instagram.

Favorites to follow:

Us, of course – @hpmagcloud

Andrew Shinn – @shinnphoto

BRINK Magazine – @brinkmag

Cory Ann Ellis/AC Ellis – @coryannellis

CycleEXIF – @cycleexif

James Worrell – @worrellphoto

Jennifer Koskinen/Merritt Photo – @merrittphoto

Julian Bialowas (16 Hours Mag) – @julianbialowas

Rob Shore/I Carry the Bag – @shorespeak

Sian Richardson Tax Attorney (16 Hours Mag) – @sian_richardson

Standard Magazine – @standard_mag

Toobydoo – @toobydoo

We Like We Love – @welikewelove

#tags to remember:

#MagCloud

#MagCloudinthewild

#MagCloudLove

#printisnotdead

#graphicdesign

Creating Conversions: How to Maximize Instagram for SMBs & Publishers

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So you’ve survived the holiday season, but now your smartphone is filled with a veritable art gallery of filtered Instagram photos. Those Amaro- or Kelvin-tinted shots don’t need to sit there collecting dust in your phone, however, and this is especially true for small businesses and publishers. The question is: How can those Instagram pictures lead to more paying customers for your small business or publication?

Instagram’s core idea is less about cool filters and more about creating strong visual narratives. We hear all the time about how visual content draws the most eyeballs on social media pages. For you the business owner, this key insight can change the way you tell your brand’s story.

For instance, let’s say your publication holds a launch party. You can use Instagram to highlight portions of the party that make your brand stand out amongst your competitors. You can use Instagram to create a visual narrative that will draw new eyeballs, and thus new potential customers. This process is called conversion. Check out our Instagram profile to see an example.

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Here are five tips to create business conversions on Instagram:

  1. Create clear branding on your Instagram Profile Page. When Facebook bought Instagram recently, social media users started noticing small but important changes in how the platform behaved. One of those changes was Profile Pages. Profile Pages are no different than a Facebook page. They house all the photos you’ve uploaded to Instagram, and allow you to browse your feed. To maximize this for your brand, make sure you have a link driving back to your business’ home page, write a short and catchy bio and display your logo prominently.
  2. Upload your Instagram photos to as many other social platforms as possible. This sounds counter-intuitive, but keep in mind Instagram’s core idea. Instagram tells visual stories. In order to tell that story to as many people as possible, post your Instagram shots to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. Spread the #love.
  3. Use hashtags. For those of you unfamiliar with a hashtag (#), it’s no different than your average pound key. But, when used in a caption of an Instagram photo as a theme, your photo has the potential to be introduced to a much wide audience. This is because whenever the hashtag is used, it’s picked up by Instagram’s search tool. For instance, if your publication centers on classic cars, and you’ve just uploaded an Instagram shot of your favorite ’67 Chevy, don’t forget to put #musclecar or #Chevy in the caption of your photo to introduce it to more potential readers.
  4. Use location tagging. But do it wisely. Many folks are afraid to tag a location to their photos, but it’s a great feature aimed at growing your exposure. When you tag locations, your image is grouped with all the others taken at that location, which again adds to the potential for your image to be seen by a wide audience.
  5. Be a consumer. Most brands and publishers use Instagram as a one-way street. They upload the pictures, with the appropriate hashtags, and then leave it alone. Make sure you add new followers with similar interests to your business or publication. Follow your readers. Like photos that relate to your own. This is called building a community, and doing so will reap large rewards in future conversions.

We here at MagCloud have talked about Instagram and seo services a few times in the past for businesses and consumers. Highlighting ways to use your Instagram photos to create business collateral whether that be a client calendar, trade-show or event poster or portfolio or photo collectible.  There are lots of ways to extend your Instagram conversations from the phone through other marketing and sales channels.

Do you guys use Instagram for your business? How do you use it differently from your own private Instagram account? What other tips do you have? Make sure to share in the comments!

MagCloud’s Favorite SMB Pinterest Boards

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In addition to being a great tool to market your publication, Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration for your business. From infographics to marketing tips, the following are some of our favorite SMB focused Pinterest boards to follow:

Do you follow any SMB focused boards on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments below!

Ringing in the Holidays with a Meet-up and Twitter Chat

Hope you’re all enjoying December so far and that you’ve got those final MagCloud orders in for the holidays!

For your viewing pleasure, below are a few shots from our recent holiday meet-up at the Press Club in San Francisco. Be sure to follow MagCloud on Instagram to see the latest and greatest from our team. We look forward to seeing you at our next meet-up in the new year!

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MagCloud’s Chief MagClouder Andrew Bolwell and
Marketing Mixologist Patty Tulloch at the MagCloud Meetup.
 

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All the awesome MagCloud publications at our meetup!
 

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Hooray for new MagCloud fans and friends!
 

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Delicious food and wine from the Press Club
at the MagCloud Holiday Meet-up.
 

We also had a memorable Twitter Chat last week with Kyle Menard, editor of BRINK Magazine. There were quite a few inspirational tweets that we wanted to share with you. Below is a brief excerpt from the Twitter Chat – feel free to read our entire Twitter Chat via Storify.

  1. MagCloud
    Q1 – To start things off – @BRINKmag, how did you get started in publishing? #MagCloud
  2. BRINKmag
    Started with a vision & to create a guide for young professionals RT @magcloud how did you get started in publishing? #MagCloud
  3. MagCloud
    Q3 – Do you see a difference in behavior/interest between your print and digital readers? #MagCloud
  4. BRINKmag
    @MagCloud It’s a challenge, but readers want that hard copy AND the instant download of the latest issue. MC lets us provide that #MagCloud
  5. BRINKmag
    @MagCloud Definitely. Big digital numbers when an issue debuts, but it tapers off. Hard copy somewhat sustains through the year #MagCloud
  6. MagCloud
    That’s great to hear, @BRINKmag. Digital offers instant gratification while print gives longevity – makes it easy to go back to. #MagCloud
  7. MagCloud
    Q5 from @TONE_DOPE: “When will @MagCloud begin offering subscriptions & an oversized 10×13 print copy option? #MagCloud
  8. MagCloud
    @TONE_DOPE We’re looking at subscription models and new product types. We do offer 11×14 today. #MagCloud
  9. MagCloud
    Okay, @BRINKmag. Jumping back to you with question from our community, how do you see #mag publishing evolving in the future? #MagCloud
  10. BRINKmag
    @magcloud There will always be a place for print, but with trends, it seems essential that a publication have an app #MagCloud
  11. MagCloud
    Last question from our team, @BRINKMag – what advice do you have for magazine publishers starting out? #MagCloud
  12. BRINKmag
    @magcloud It comes down to being on top of your game (in whatever you do), being a leader in what you believe in & staying current #MagCloud
  13. BRINKmag
    Lay the groundwork, be prepared (cont) RT @magcloud – what advice do you have for magazine publishers starting out? #MagCloud
  14. BRINKmag
    Also, (turning the tables) what advice do you have for publishers? RT @MagCloud Do you have any questions for Andrew? #MagCloud
  15. MagCloud
    Answering your 2nd Q: Listen to your customers, focus on innovation, embrace change, and don’t be afraid to take risks. #MagCloud
  16. BRINKmag
    BOOM —> RT @MagCloud “Listen to your customers, focus on innovation, embrace change, and don’t be afraid to take risks.” #MagCloud
  17. BRINKmag
    Definitely going to be quoting some of that for the next few weeks @MagCloud! Great stuff. #MagCloud

MagCloud Holiday Meet-Up and Twitter Chat

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Hey Bay Area! Help us celebrate 2012 at the MagCloud holiday meet-up in San Francisco with our Chief MagClouder and his team. Hear about all the latest MagCloud products and services, and learn what’s in store for next year.

  • Who: Fans of MagCloud – from new to seasoned publishers and all our social media fans!  Not sure what MagCloud is? Stop by to find out!
  • What: Learn about what the MagCloud team is working on, ask questions, share feedback and win prizes!
  • When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11
  • Where: Press Club, 20 Yerba Buena Lane, San Francisco, CA 94103 (View Map)
  • Cost: FREE! Light appetizers and drinks will be served
  • RSVP: Let us know you’re coming by RSVPing in the comment section below!

If you can’t join us on Tuesday evening, you can still discuss all things publishing during our next Twitter Chat with one of our MagCloud publishers! The hour-long Twitter Chat kicks off at 10:00 a.m. PST on Tuesday, December 11 on our MagCloud Twitter handle (@MagCloud) and will feature our Chief MagClouder Andrew Bolwell and BRINK Magazine editor Kyle Menard.

What are Twitter Chats? It’s simply a discussion conducted on Twitter, where you get to Tweet live with our Chief MagClouder and Kyle about, in this case, publishing as well as any other MagCloud questions you have on your mind.

How can you participate? Starting now, submit questions for Andrew and Kyle by either tweeting them to @MagCloud using the #MagCloud hashtag or ask them right here in the comments section of this blog post. We also encourage everyone to join our Twitter Chat from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. PST on December 11 where Andrew and Kyle will respond to your questions live.

As an added incentive, all fans who ask a question will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win a $25 Paypal MagCloud gift card perfect for you, your colleagues, friends, family, etc. to purchase your favorite publications on MagCloud.com during the holidays. The drawing is open to residents in the United States only. For the complete rules, see below.

Here’s a little more info about Kyle:KyleMenard

Kyle Menard sets his sights on achievable goals while keeping the big picture within his scope. After launching his own award winning magazine in 2009, BRINK, he continues to explore fresh and innovative channels to reach a bigger and broader audience while keeping the current audience engaged. He thrives on spreading the message of entrepreneurship, attainable goals and staying dedicated to a brand – the ultimate message of BRINK Magazine.

Don’t forget to follow our Twitter handle, @MagCloud, for the latest MagCloud news and updates, and ask those questions using #MagCloud or in the comments section here! Look forward to seeing you in-person or virtually next week!

The giveaway opens on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Entries must be submitted by 10:00 a.m. PST, Tuesday, December 11, 2012 and the winner will be announced via Twitter and our blog on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. The prize will be one (1) $25 MagCloud gift card and one (1) winner will be selected at random. All entrants agree to be contacted by Hewlett Packard for prize fulfillment. The drawings are open to MagCloud blog readers, Twitter followers and Facebook fans that reside in the United States and are at least 18 years of age at time of entry. No purchase necessary to enter or win. There is no limit on the number of entries from any entrant, but each entry must be submitted separately as a Tweet using the hashtag #MagCloud on Twitter or as a blog comment on this blog post. Anyone found to be in violation of any of our rules or third party networks will be ineligible. Entries in this contest will not be carried over into subsequent giveaways or drawings.