Mythbusting Instagram Shadowbans

Have you been shadowbanned? If the answer is ‘I don’t know. I have no idea what that even means’, then it hasn’t happened to you or your not a social media manager trying to explain to your client why his post cannot be found by searching the hashtag that you have used on his post and engagement and new followers have dropped off significantly.

What is shadow banning then?

To begin quite simply, Instagram uses hashtags as a method of searching for content you may like.  If you are a personal trainer you may use the hashtag #fitness, and use it in every post to help those who may be looking for a trainer to be able to find your photos.  Instagram may find it ‘spammy’ if you are using that same hashtag on every one of your photos and will limit the reach of your photos to only yourself and your follows. Unless someone already follows you, he or she will not see your post by searching that hashtag.  That is shadowbanning in a nutshell, and it can hinder the growth and reach of your account.

Other reasons that your account could be shadowbanned include being inappropriate, abusive or utilize bots to try to comment or grow your account.

For some time Instagram had been denying the claim that they shadowbanned accounts, while users were showing real examples of how their accounts were being affected.  In February of this year, however, Instagram put out a statement that they understand that users have experienced issues with the hashtag search which caused the posts to not be surfaced and that they were working on improvements.

Yesterday, Taylor Loren from  Later, which is an Instagram scheduler and a company who keeps us up to date on Instagram news, published an article regarding the new Instagram algorithm update and other myths.  The new updates appear to be good news for users.

The feed will be more chronological and personalized to your likes.  The goal is to show more posts from your friends and family, but Instagram gets to figure out who your friends and family are.  They use a formula that takes into consideration your interests, the timeliness of the post, and your ‘relationship’ with the poster.  Other factors that Instagram said will have an impact on what you see include frequency, following, and usage of Instagram.

Other myth busting included the fact that Instagram does not prefer personal over business accounts when placing posts in a feed, a video is not favored over photos, and using other features such as stories and Instagram live does not help place your posts higher in the feeds either.

What was then said of shadowbanning?  Instagram did not deny that it had happened, but that it was a bug in their system that caused posts which used the same hashtag to not be seen.  Instagram has stated that it does not hide content based on hashtag usage.

Directly from Instagram, shadowbanning does not exist.

Myth busted – at least for now.mythbusting shadowbanning

10 Social Media Marketing Gaffes to Avoid

Does your business need to be on social media?  No – and that is coming from the mouth of a digital marketer!  There is no reason to be on social media if you are not going to make an effort or if you consistently make mistakes without learning from them and changing course.  Below are what I believe to be the 10 biggest mistakes companies and brands make with their social media.

1. Hopping onto social media without a plan

Social media, while often given to the intern, son, wife, or anyone who has the time to post about your business, is an investment of time and requires a well thought out strategy. You need to create a plan which will help you save time and money in the long run and ensure your goals are met.

2.  Not knowing your goals

What do you hope to achieve with social media? Do you want to increase sales, let the audience know you exist, show that you are involved with the community and support many organizations and events?  Your social media strategy should tie into your overall business plan, and each of your objectives requires a different plan or course of action. Don’t forget to consider your outcomes and what you consider to be a successful campaign.

3.  Not having the same ‘handle’ and branding on all platforms

If you’re going to be on multiple platforms, make sure that your handles and branding is consistent among all platforms, website and physical location.  Make it easy for your customers and fans to find you and know that it is you. If you have a big, iconic green sign in front of your shop, incorporate that green into your graphics.  Try to name of your company consistent within web URL and across any platforms you are active on without modifications of any kind.

4.  Quantity over Quality

How many times should you post a day?  It depends on what your audience wants on what platform.  If the post does not incite emotion, educate or entertain your audience don’t post it.  Even if you enjoy a heartwarming video of a puppy and a baby, but your audience has not been receptive to these in the past, leave it for your personal page, not your business page.  Do not post it just to say that you have a post for the day.

5.  Inconsistency

This is one of the toughest for me.  Because I want to provide value and I don’t want to be spammy, it is hard to come up with something to post that I think you think would find beneficial.  There are many workarounds to finding the best content that your audience loves, but it takes time and effort!

6.  Being on all platforms

You do NOT have to be on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedSM GaffesIn, Google+, SnapChat, WhatsApp, etc. Be where your audience is.  Pick one or a couple and dominate it! Be the best on that platform and your audience will appreciate it.

7.  Not interacting

You want your fans to interact with your page by asking questions, telling you that they appreciate your content, or just stopping by to say hi.  Why? This interaction shows all platforms that your content is relevant and good content that others want to see. So why would you waste this perfect opportunity by not responding to a comment or question?  A simple and quick response means a lot to your followers, and will likely help boost the visibility of your post.

8.  Who is your target market?

Is it everybody?  Noooo. Remember the old marketing adage ‘If you try to sell to everybody, you will sell to nobody’?  The same holds true here. Your customers visit your location or website for a reason. What is that reason?  Embrace that and carry that over into your social media. You can use your analytics to help you figure out who your target market is as well.

9.  Too much selling

I know you want to sell your amazing product or service, but too much selling on social media is going to drive away your fans.  Self-promote no more than 20% of the time. The rest of that time you need to be dropping value and positioning yourself and your company as a leader in the industry.

10.  Expect that it is free

Social media sites are free to set up and use, right?  So it seems to follow that social media should be a cheap way to get in front of a lot of eyes.  That is just not true. Yes, the sites are free to use, but guess what – you should budget for social media as you do any other traditional marketing.  You can utilize a completely organic method to your social media, but planning a strategy, finding, creating and scheduling content, interacting with your fans – that all takes time.  To grow your social media presence and to sell goods and services, the best route is paying to play.

Do you have any questions about social media?  Drop them in the comments and I will do my best to answer.

8 Ways Freelancers Can Improve Their Work With Coworking Spaces

In 2015 the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimated that one third or 53 million Americans are working as a freelancer, and I imagine that number has increased over the last few years. This has been such as a change in our workforce that Sara Horowitz, Executive Director of Freelancers Union has called the movement the ‘Industrial Revolution of our time”.

Working as a freelancer, while allowing for certain freedoms, also has its own unique set of challenges. Some of these challenges can be overcome by working in a coworking space. These office spaces can be beneficial to both the digital nomad as well as someone who just needs some time away from a home office.

What is a coworking space? The definition put forward by the Harvard Business Review is ‘member based workspaces where diverse groups of freelancers, remote workers, and other independent professionals work together in shared, communal settings.’ The coworking spaces near me have options for an occasional day visit, a short work week of 2 or 3 days, a full week during business hours, or 24/7 access. Many have opportunities to have your own desk space, meeting room space, or just a place to hang out and use the wifi and drink coffee.

How can becoming a member of a coworking space improve your work performance?

  1. Your work tends to be more meaningful to you and often involves something you care about.
  2. There is little competition among coworkers as the members are often from different companies and working on completely different projects.
  3. There is little internal politics or a need to feel like you fit in with the rest of the office employees.
  4. Because the members of the coworking spaces have very diverse backgrounds (and maybe not the resources that would be available in an office environment) there are often opportunities to collaborate with other members who may be in need of your special skill set. This allows for learning opportunities as well.
  5. Depending on you coworking space agreement, you may have access to your space 24/7, giving you the opportunity to work when you need or want to.
  6. While we appreciate the ability to work when we like, we also like to have structure and routines. A coworking space can provide just enough structure to keep us disciplined and motivated.
  7. There are still opportunities to socialize, but it’s more on your terms. If you want some socialization, head over to the cafe area. If you prefer to work undisturbed, there is likely a quiet spot where you can spend some time.
  8. Your coworking space may offer opportunities for additional learning, collaboration, and relaxation. Coworking spaces near me this month offer discussions and learning centered around the Python programming language or WordPress, games at lunch and a community lunch, networking events, volunteer opportunities and of course beer 30, a celebration and relaxation time where members can bring their own beer and celebrate a week well done.

It may take some time to figure out what type of community fits your work style and personality. Most do not require a long commitment so you are free to explore and find what works for you. I have my eye on one that is expanding into a new space within the next couple of months. I hope to be able to spend some time within that community to be able to surround myself with other creative minds that have an understanding of what I do and how I work.pexels

Three Reasons Your Photographs Should be Treated as an Asset

This week I had the opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association of West Michigan’s lunch where the topic centered around social media.  When I sat down at the table there was a small flier with tips for a photoshoot. Perfect timing, I thought as the next skill I hope to improve upon is photography and video.

I was even more delighted when Adam Bird from Bird + Bird Photography gave a short presentation on photography.  Adam shared several key takeaways that seem so simple, but to me were pretty profound. I’m sure this was because of my lack of understanding of photography as messaging, and I feel like I cannot be the only one who feels this way.  Because I was so impressed with his presentation I asked Adam for permission to write about it, and he graciously agreed.

Adam began with the premise that we all know that the best campaigns are run across multiple channels and that the messaging should remain the same across these channels (of course tweaked to be the correct content for the channel you are posting on). We have also heard that content is king. However, Adam shook things up a bit when he stated that content is not king.  Wait. What? He continued with “it is the Caesar – Dictator – in Chief President.” Well, it must be pretty important then. He explained that your photography must be multi-channel too, and it must not suck. Those are his words – not mine.

The first takeaway is that photography is an ASSET.  Sure, ok I thought to myself, not fully understanding the importance of photography.  As Adam talked though, it became perfectly clear that he is right. I imagine a large portion of us, myself included, think of a photograph as the last thing to add to a blog post or the awful headshots of employees flat against the obligatory brick wall for an ID badge.  Your photography should be a library of assets that you can access for many purposes. As with any of your assets, the better you do it the first time, the better the return on your investment will be.

The second take away is that a well thought out photograph can be used in multiple ways which Adam showed quite well, of course in photos.  The first picture was that of a girl sitting at a microscope in a classroom setting. He showed how that same photo can be repurposed for many different uses.  This one picture can be used as is for a blog or website photo. It can be cropped to accommodate the different types of social media. We can zoom in on the photo and just see the girl and the microscope, or we can recenter the photo so that the focal point of the girl and the microscope are to the side and text can be added to the other as we like to see.

The second image was a beautiful group shot of 9 people in an office with an amazing city view from the window off to the side and behind them.  They were grouped so that a couple was near the window and a few near or on a couch and the remainder were near a grouping of chairs. Previously I had gained some knowledge, somewhere, that odd numbered groups are visually more appealing. So now this photograph makes sense to me in that respect.  Now, take that information and couple it with the information above that photos should be thought out and staged. Not only can we show the big picture, but the photo should be built so that you are able to then dissect it and use it in multiple ways. Of course this photo can be cropped to fit the dimensions of the desired platform.  But here is the brilliant part to me. Each group of people represents a different department in the company. Now one single photograph can be used in even more ways by cropping for size, a tight shot or zoomed out or by the group to be able to tell a story of a particular department.

The final point Adam made is that great photography is an investment.  It should not be an investment that breaks your budget, but with all that a single, well thought out photograph can do, these photos should certainly be more of an investment than the cost of your office supplies.

As I was writing this, I did some quick research into how quickly we process images.  An article from the Daily Mail says it takes your brain 13 milliseconds to see an image. According to B2C that is 60,000 times quicker than a person can recognize the text of your company name or what the article associated with the picture is about.   You can capture the attention of someone quickly and draw them in to read your article or learn more about your company with a well thought out photo. Your images are what is seen first, and should always adhere to brand style. The viewer will begin to associate that style of photography with your company without having to read a single word, leading to instant brand recognition. That certainly seems to be a few reasons to invest in great photography.pixabay photograph - photograper

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

That quote is attributed to Confucius. I was not there to hear this, so I guess I have to rely on hearsay for this one.

What made me this of this right now though is that my husband is outside, in near-freezing weather, fixing my car for me. My son is out there as well, learning how to fix something in the suspension. My son graduated in December with an engineering degree and a lot of debt. I am incredibly proud of his accomplishments these past few years, including making the dean’s list the last 2 years. That is a proud mom moment, but not at all the point.

While it was completely his choice to go to college, as a society, in general, we have shunned learning a trade as a career. For many years our children were told that college is the only way to get ahead and make a good living. We now have a society that is crippled by student loan debt and yet we have a shortage of builders, plumbers, mechanics, etc. Often upon graduation, we do not find a job in the field that we studied in college or even a job we like.

What if more dad’s and mom’s and grandparents showed their kids as they were growing up how to do things such as fixing a car, building a shelf, laying bricks for a patio? What if these kids found something they enjoyed and were good at and could feel the satisfaction at the end of the day of a job well done? What if we respected our mechanics, builders and other tradesmen?

Would we be happier if we all found a job we could love?farrier-1246258_1920