Comments Are Important & There’s a Company Making Sure You Know That

As I make my way through the courses for the Social Media Cert. program here at Algonquin, one thing I recognize more and more is the emphasis placed on comments. Or, rather, comments as part of a social media strategy. I’m not saying comments are the most important aspect of a social media strategy, but engagement is, and one of the easiest ways a brand (person, company, etc). can engage their followers is through comments. If you forgot how important comments were in the grand scheme of your strategy, there’s a company making sure you know their place and what can be done through comments. From here on out, I’ll use the word “brand” when referring to someone or something that has a social media strategy.

There’s a company called Disqus that is helping brands utilize the power of comments in their social media strategy, and you’ve probably already heard of it but never realized what it actually is. In my case, I use my Disqus account when commenting on blogs whose platforms allow the service, but I didn’t actually understand what Disqus was until their ad floated through my Facebook newsfeed the other day. I saw it, recognized the logo and thought, “Wait a minute, I use Disqus to comment on blogs and websites. What the heck is it?”

In a nutshell: Disqus is a blog comment hosting service for web sites and online communities that uses a networked platform. For anyone who didn’t quite get that, Disqus is a commenting service that helps generate discussions. But in actuality, the service goes far beyond that.

The service has two unique offerings: Engage and Reveal.

Engage is likely the service you’ve used if you’ve ever used Disqus to comment on a blog, a website or something similar. Basically, it’s a commenting platform that can be added to any site or blog, but it comes with some additions that are super useful if you’re looking to measure & monitor your social media. Features like measuring engagement, monitoring your results, attracting readers, and more. The best part: it’s free. You can use Engage easily & freely.

Then there’s Reveal. This platform is geared towards sites, blogs, or published content looking for monetization. With Reveal, the company claims that you get “Robust reporting, analytics and quality controls for premium ads on an easy-to-test platform.” Essentially, it’s ads included on your site that you can profit from. As a publisher of content, you choose ads which you think work best for your site, and earn profit when readers/viewers of your site engage or interact with those ads. It helps you earn money for doing really nothing at all. The only hitch is that your site has to average 25,000 weekly page views. So for smaller sites, blogs, etc. this may not be an option right now.

Okay, so we know what the services from Disqus are. They seem pretty great and free, bonus! But why would we use these types of commenting services?

Here’s a few reasons:

Comments are crucial in your social media strategy. I don’t just mean for the parts of your strategy where you plan on actually interacting with your audience, though that is a very important aspect.

Comments can help with the SEO of your website, blog or digital platform by improving your ranking and searchability on major search engines, like Google.

Comments also help promote your content, which is beneficial if you’re looking to earn money from viewership or just get your stuff out there. Buzzfeed, for example, allows Facebook comments on all of their articles. You can tag friends, choose whether your comment shows up on your own Facebook and share the articles at the same time. In allowing this, Buzzfeed ensures that their content is talked about but also interacted with, shared and exposed.

Commenting on other sites or blogs can create backlinks to your platforms. People looking to increase viewership would benefit from backlinking and the subsequent exposure. For instance, when I comment on a blog, I leave what I call a “mark,” whereby my comment has created a backlink to me and my content.

Comments get people talking about your content. If someone is able to comment and add their POV to your content, not only does this generate discussion — the purpose of services like Disqus — but it also gets people looking at your content. This is like silent engagement, in which people comment their opinions or thoughts and even if you don’t personally reply, chances are other commenters will.

Comments = social media listening. Yeah, you can’t really know what people think of your site or content if you don’t let them speak, right? Comments are one of the best tools you can use to guage how your audience a) reacts to your content b) interacts with your content c) how they feel about your content. It’s also helpful that comments can be indicative of why you may or may not experience traffic to your platform.

Comments are calls to action, which means someone has actually taken the time to read your content and cares enough to respond to it. If someone is willing to take the time to do those two things, it can result in further viewer and readership. That person can end up adding your blog to their RSS Feed, recommending your blog, sharing your content, promoting it on their own platform…the list goes on.

So why use services like Disqus? Well, it seems to make it pretty easy to engage with your audience. The services give you tools to measure & monitor that engagement, views, comments, interactions and more. It’s like if Google Analytics was a commenting or blogging service. The Reveal service from Disqus is handy for people with enough viewership that they can profit from. But Engage is likely to be the most useful for anyone simply looking to better incorporate comments into their social media strategy and monitor the success. What would happen if you added Disqus to your blog or site?

 

Be the Louis CK of Your Digital Market

We all have our favorite comedian (or at least, some of us do) you makes us laugh and always has witty material to impress us with. For me, it’s Louis C.K. He’s hilarious, in a sarcastic, brutally honest & unpolished sort of way. Then there’s Mindy Kaling, a comedian/tv actress who is honest through wit and expresses herself through comedy by being raw, real and unashamed. When it comes to laughing, comedians may have the market cornered but what about incorporating humor into a different sphere? Say, social media?

We all have a social media strategy. If you don’t, perhaps it’s time to get one. Regardless of whether you’re a brand or an individual, a small business or a big-time corporation, your social media strategy will differ from the next guy’s because, even if we have common goals, we have different approaches. Rarely do brands or businesses copy other social media strategies to the tune of mass success. But something many brands or people have in common is the addition of humor to their strategies. They may not be making harshly accurate jokes about life like Louis CK does, but adding some humor into their strategy seems to be working.

Look at the Old Spice brand, for example. Their campaigns, which basically mock male stereoptypes and society’s view of female expectations, were terribly successful upon their creation in 2010 because they were witty, honest and funny. Yes, most followers and customers bought into the Old Spice brand because they’re ads were hilarious as h***.

R/GA, a New York based creative agency, uses sass, sarcasm and satire to appeal to its audience and is often seen poking fun at its own industry. People love this because of the honesty that shows through the humor. I mean, let’s be honest: when a brand or company says what you’re thinking and makes it funny, we’re usually intrigued.

Beer companies will often incorporate humor into their social media ads and content as well because, well…beer. There’s not really a way to make beer “sexy” or attractive unless you just really like beer or don’t mind the commercials with scantily clad woman holding beer in the mountains somewhere in Canada. So they use humor in social media posts, tweets, photos, etc. Newcastle Brown Ale does it by being honest with a no-care attitude and it works because it’s both funny & relateable.

Taco Bell uses humor because just the idea of a fast-food chain devoted to burritos, is sort of funny. They use humor to interact and engage with their online audiences (especially through Twitter) and it works well for them, based on their followers who regularly tweet at them and receive responses. Basically, people love sassy Taco Bell.

But why choose humor? Is it because people are tired of looking at serious, dramatic, depressing or otherwise content that doesn’t really make them chuckle? Humour not only makes a brand memorable, but the way brands use it makes them relateable. No one ever looked at body wash and thought it was funny until Old Spice blew their campaign out of the water. You probably would never consider Taco Bell at all until you saw them comically interacting with their followers on Twitter. Humour makes people laugh, in turn making them happy. And if a brand can make you happy, its arguable that you may feel inclined to follow that brand for more laughs. Down the road, that turns into follower loyalty and is likely to eventually result in customer loyalty. So, really, when brands use humor, they’re being quite clever.

Here’s 5 tips on incorporating humor into your social media strategy.

Here’s the list of brands from which I took the aforementioned examples.

We Hide Behind Social Media & This Defeats the Purpose of It

Like most people, when I first began using social media, I didn’t sign up for every platform or network at once. I chose to start off slow, first creating an account with Facebook, then Twitter. It wasn’t until I was nineteen years old that I created an Instagram account and began ‘gramming about my time spent living overseas, on my own, as a young almost-20-something.

I first became aware that I was using social media incorrectly when I Instagramed a photo of myself in Harrods, England’s famous (ridiculously expensive) department store located in London. I had been ‘gramming my adventures gallivanting around the large metropolis when one day, I received an influx of texts and messages from my friends and old highschool peers professing their jealously over my adventures, waxing poetic about how much they wish they could be doing what I was. Mainly, moving overseas alone at a young age to travel and see some of the world.

That’s when I realized I was using social media all wrong.

Despite the amazing adventures I did have whilst living overseas (many of which translated into popular photos on Istagram and Facebook), my social media accounts didn’t document my struggles when moving from one new country to the next on my own; they didn’t show how scary it could be landing at an airport and waiting for your luggage, knowing there were no family members or familiar faces to greet you. They certainly didn’t showcase the difficult times I experienced after going through a breakup with a person I had moved to Sweden for, which had me flying to Prague like a glorified Icarus.

In other words, I was documenting all of the good and none of the bad. I was allowing people a glimpse into my world, but it wasn’t a totally truthful one.

Recently, several social media stars have quit social media, citing life-altering changes in their attitudes towards the platforms as the ultimate inspiration to take themselves – and their lives – off of social media. As many of you likely know, several people around the globe become famous from their online presence and not only earn fame and notoriety, but also a living from it. One such famous star – Essena O’Neill – hasn’t even turned 20 yet, and is already quitting Instagram after realizing she was so caught up in the illusion of the platform and what it did for her self-esteem, that she hadn’t even realized she basically relied on it to get through everyday. Once online stars like O’Neill realize they show the world a basically “fake” side of their life, they often take time away to get back to their roots.

I suppose you can say I did the same thing after deleting my entire Instagram and starting from scratch, just last year.

I believe, however, that the real wakeup call for me came when I realized just how unhappy a friend was.

I had been friends with this woman for over 5 years, and we were very close. I knew she had some familial issues, but I never knew to what extent the entirety of her issues reached until I began spending more time around her family. I slowly but surely realized that many of the problems she claimed to have with her family were really blown out of proportion; she had self-esteem, confidence and insecurity issues which results in her using our friendship to her own gain, her boyfriend moving out and breaking ties with her, and her university grades dropping. She became eratic, saying that no one cared about her, no one took care of her and she had no one to rely on. Hearing this as a close friend of over 5+ years slapped me awake and had me recognizing that I didn’t know this person.

But if you were a stranger looking in from the outside, you’d never know just how unstable this young woman was.

Her social media accounts were littered with happy-go-lucky posts about shopping, traveling, drinks with friends, and more. Many of the happy, popular photos on her Instagram account would receive hundreds of likes, but no one knew that I had been there for many of those photos – had even taken several of them – and knew that just 5 minutes prior to that photo being posted, this woman was crying hysterically or arguing with her ex, sometimes even yelling at her father on the phone for no reason. I started to really look at these photos and thought, “Am I perpetuating a cycle?”

In the end, we became distant as I began moving away from the friendship, unsure how to handle the girl I knew with the online presence I didn’t. It caused me to reflect on my own online presence and I realized that, though I wasn’t eratic or bipolar in my posting, I wasn’t showing the whole truth either.

I always believed the purpose of social media was to utilize certain platforms and networks to share what is going on in our lives and, if we are a brand, to showcase what we’re selling and spread the word about it. I thought it was about putting ourselves out there and saying “This is my life and this is what happens, I’m simply documenting it for you.” I never thought I’d be one of the users who post only what I think people want to see, rather than simply posting my true life.

What we forget when it comes to social media usage is that these platforms and tools for connection and awareness are not curtains, closets or facades we should be nor can hide behind. They are meant to connect us to people, brands and more; they exist to help raise awareness, literally about anything. But we use them as platforms for showing the world that our lives are sometimes far better and “cooler” than others’ are. We abuse social media in an attempt to tell the world, “This is how great my life is” when, in reality, no one will ever know the struggles we face, the hard times we go through or the challenges we sometimes experience. For example, do any of your friends know that maybe one photo you’ve posted of yourself with #goodhairday #browsonfleek #lashesfordays was actually taken on a day where it took at least an hour to finally get your hair the way you want it just for one perfect selfie? The answer is likely no.

What I hope any reader of this post can take away from this whole “rant” (if you will) is that social media is not meant to be hidden behind. So much of it has become a game of hide-and-seek, where we post one thing and others delve deeper to find out just exactly how awesome our lives are. People admire online sensations like O’Neill for her killer bod, her fashion, her adventures and more; but as she has openly admitted, no one really ever knew the truth. And because she made money from her online presence, even delving deeper into the life of someone like O’Neill likely wouldn’t result in people feeling vindicated that a 17 year old’s life is actually miserable, and not the mirage we all thought.

If you use social media to showcase the “truth” according to what you think the world wants to see, ask yourself whether it’s worth the hassle of faking it to make it in the world of online presence, or whether you should simply be yourself. After all, the authentic, real you is what people see in real life. It’s not your perfect selfie.

 

 

If Your Online Persona Was a Flavor

I came across and interesting article recently on Mashable which really got me thinking about online persona. The article (found here) was quite intriguing and I recommend that everyone take a moment to check it out. It’s really worth the read.

Okay, so what am I talking about??

There’s a company called Talenti, which makes yummy gelato in a vast array of flavors. Recently, they came up with a very creative way of incorporating our online personalities into ice cream flavors.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Basically, the company came up with an algorithm which takes your most-used words from your social media feeds and places them into a flavor index. Each word is then catorgized under sweet, salty, spicy, bitter and sour. You simply get started with your flavor profile here and Talenti does the rest.

What do the results tell us about our online persona?

Well, for one, the results can indicate what kind of person you are online and help you recognize whether your online persona is the one you want to have representing you on social media. This is especially important for those using social media to grow a brand or business. If you’re a mostly sour, bitter or spicy person, this may be reflective of your online attitude and how you come across to others online. You can use the results to ask yourself: is this how I want my followers to see me?

Your results can also be indicative of how you interact with others. Let’s say your flavour tips more to the sour or bitter side. Is this because the words you are using on social media are negative, sarcastic, narcissistic, etc? What kind of words are you using during your interactions with others? Is your flavor indicative of how you treat your audience/followers online?

Another aspect of the flavor test is your online image. Everyone is a brand and we all have an online image. How and what you post on social media, the words you use, the links you share, the people you connect with…all of this factors into your online (and offline) brand. If you’re a mostly bitter, sour flavor, chances are those results also stem from how you come across as an online persona. If you’re trying to build a brand or business, that can spell bad news for the initial and future success of your company.

I took the flavor test to figure out my own online persona, here’s my flavor:
“Strawberry Crepe Bourbon Spice Earl Grey.”
So, if I were a gelato flavor, that’s what I’d be.

The results tell me a few things:
1. For the most part, I have a nice online persona. I mean, “strawberry crepe” and “earl grey” don’t exactly scream “negative nelly!” They do sort of make me sound like an eldery woman, though.
2. Perhaps the “bourbon” is an indication that I’m at least mature online, which I like to think I am anyway. I do not interact with negative people online nor do I have any online drama.
3. The “spice” result indicates that I may have a bit of a fiery personality, perhaps there’s an aspect to my online persona relating to that.

Overall, I don’t think I have a bad “flavor.” And the results indicate to me that my efforts to have a positive “brand” and online persona, are working out for the best.

Will you take the test? You never know, you could end up finding tasty results (yeah, that was lame. I know).

Stumble Upon a New Way of RSS & Gain Traffick

During my first year of University (back in 2010) I discovered the site called StumbleUpon. I remember sitting in U of Guelph’s [perpetually crowded] library with a few of my dorm-mates, all of us ooohh-ing and ahhh-ing over the various features of the site. We would crack up over funny pages, gush over the animal photos and keep up-to-date with all things global. I think we spent more time on StumbleUpon than our homework.

The site, which lets you “stumble” through a plethora of pages filled with all sorts of content, really became popular that year and everyone who was anyone, used it. But what few of us knew is how StumbleUpon actually works and how useful of a tool it can be for one’s social media strategy. I know, who thought StumbleUpon of all sites would actually come in handy for something other than cute pictures of puppies frolicking in fields?

Many people use what is called an RSS Feed. This is a really handy feature on the Internet which basically lets you set up alerts through sites like Google, using keywords. Any news or information you want about a subject, person, product, etc. can be sent directly to you in your RSS Feed as opposed to you having to troll through the Internet to find what it is you want to read. It’s a great strategy and if you take (or are taking) Algonquin’s “Developing a Social Media Strategy” course, you will learn how to set up your own RSS feed. So, RSS feeds bring information to you rather than you going to the information. It’s pretty cool, but did you know that StumbleUpon basically does the exact same thing and it can help bring traffick to your website/blog/social media platforms? Probably not.

StumbleUpon acts like an RSS feed in a couple of ways:

  1. StumbleUpon is a system which lets you find new, interesting sites/pages based on/around your interests. The more you use the site, the more it gets to know you and it caters the content to your interests. You can even tailor your interests so that StumbleUpon will only show you content relevant to those interests. In other words, just as an RSS feed gives you info based on keywords, StumbleUpon gives you info based on interests. Neat, right?
  2. Like an RSS feed, StumbleUpon delivers content directly to you. If you set up an account, just as you have to with any RSS feed site (like Feedly), you not only receive content based on your interests, but the content will always be new, interesting stuff because StumbleUpon trolls the internet for you. Similar to an RSS feed, you can get content that you may have never known about, all in one place. So there’s no need for keywords, setting up two accounts, using Google alerts, etc.

How does StumbleUpon do this?

  1. First, a page is submitted to StumbleUpon. This could be someone’s post from their blog, a recipe from an online cookbook, etc
  2. The toolbar at the top of StumbleUpon’s website will show the submitted page to a number of users
  3. The toolbar at the top of StumbleUpon’s website has “thumbs up” & “thumbs down” buttons. The more “thumbs up” the page gets, the more people it is shown to. If the page receives more “thumbs down” than “ups,” it will be dropped from the queue

**It’s important to note here that StumbleUpon has millions of pages and when you press the “Stumble” button on the site’s toolbar, it will automatically go to a new page through a feed. This is when you would click either “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” StumbleUpon tailors the content it shows you based on what you approve and disapprove!

Here’s a list of 10 tips for using StumbleUpon

Now, we know that StumbleUpon is basically an RSS feed. But how does StumbleUpon help drive traffic to your social media & how can it be useful for your social media strategy?

Well, first you have to submit your content to StumbleUpon. It’s pretty easy to do and this is the first step to driving traffick to your own online content (like your website, or blog). Once you submit your content, StumbleUpon takes it from there. That’s when people will either “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” your content.

A great tip for optimizing StumbleUpon is to add a StumbleUpon widget to your site(s). This allows people viewing your site to click the widget (button), and they can then recommend your content or add it to StumbleUpon. Basically, your site visitors can help you get traffick, too.

Because StumbleUpon is essentially a bookmarking site, it acts like an RSS feed in that people can save your content that they Stumble across. They can bookmark your site, share it, link to it, etc. Even if you submit Instagram content, it can be Stumbled. It does well to remember that when one someone gives your content a “thumbs up” on StumbleUpon, it keeps it in the StumbleUpon lineup.

You can also use Stumble’s Paid Discovery feature. This is sort of like Facebook Ads but instead of just having an add randomly floating around on Facebook, with Stumble’s Paid Discovery system, people interested in your topic or subject will be directed right to your site.

Here’s 4 ways to use StumbleUpon to drive traffic to your site(s).

I’m not saying you have to use StumbleUpon in order to have a successful social media strategy. I am saying that it can play a role in such a strategy. We have actually forgotten about Stumble as a useful tool for putting our platforms out there into the world, despite it being totally functional as a tool for generating traffic online. If you’re interested in using Stumble to get some traffic to your platforms, here’s a great tutorial.

A Whole New World: How NGOs are Successfully Using Social Media

A Whole New World: How NGOs are Successfully Using Social Media

same Nasa url as the last one please

Courtesy of Google

It seems as though every NGO out there – old & new – has one social media account or other which they use to reach people and spread their message. Most are on Facebook because, well….Facebook. Some may use Twitter or Instagram but I’m willing to hedge a bet that none of you reading this are looking on Insta for your favorite Nonprofit. The ones who do utilize social media to its utmost potential are those with a good social media strategy. Hence why fundraising with social media has become so popular and has helped hundreds of orgs succeed in achieving their funding goals. Just look at the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014, which literally swept across the globe and even had celebrities participating on all social media platforms.

How do NGOs do it?

  1. They tell their stories through photos: most NGOs, non-profits & the like use social media to tell the story of their org through photos. The popular Instagram account called “Humans of New York” has had much success in raising funds for projects & awareness about global issues through photo-essays — essentially, they post a photo with a story + info below it on Insta and everyone (including the Whitehouse) gets involved because it’s easy to stay connected this way. And it’s pretty smart.
  2. Schedules: One thing you learn in the “Developing a Social Media Strategy” course in Algonquin’s Social Media Cert. program is the importance of a content strategy – included in that is how you prioritise and schedule content. NGO’s aren’t likely to have all day to spend trolling their social media platforms and posting updates every minute, so they schedule the info & messages they want to put out there. This is why services offered by the likes of Hootsuite are so popular and why Facebook allowing scheduled posts is so handy. When you don’t have time, you have to have a crafty but effective content strategy & schedule.
  3. They know their stuff: NGO’s do not blindly walk into social media – and if they do, they quickly learn from their mistakes. So they become educated on stats, patterns and most of all they measure and monitor how their messages are received. That’s important, considering most of us learn about causes and orgs on social media.
  4. Awareness Days/Events: Just like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, orgs and non-profits tap into the power of awareness days/events which allow them a period of time (whether one day, week, month, etc) to spam the world with their challenge or event. This is especially true of International Days like “International Tiger Day.”
  5. They look to youth: Hey, the best way to get a message out into cyber-space is to get a group of young people to Tweet the heck out of it or Instagram it. Considering children are the future, NGOs often have targeted demographics which speak directly to youth and encourage them to get involved in a cause (or causes).

Source: Best Social Media Practices

Most NGOs realize that people do not want to constantly be asked for money and no one is attracted to a social media post based on a request for hand-outs. Harsh? Yes. True? Yes. So NGOs go about it differently and opt for telling stories (as mentioned above) rather than immedietly or directly saying “We need your money, this is why you should give it to us.”

An interesting way of looking at it, is by looking at this infographic here. Essentially, income does not determine an NGO’s popularity or success in social media. The way they use social media does. The infographic deduces that it is an NGO’s approach to use social media in order to connect with people which is the key determining factor in how successful they are. Who knew NGOs could be so savvy?

craigsconnect-infographic

You may be surprised to learn that the most successful NGOs gain profit due to the clever ways they use social media, and not simply because people automatically donate to an NGO based on an online or tv ad. In fact, many stats show that social media has a direct impact on how NGOs function and their overall success. Check out this link for stats about social media and its connection to cause awareness & fundraising. Whereas people used to go door-to-door seeking donations, now NGOs simply use social media to reach out to people and find larger audiences through which they can achieve their goals.

Not convinced? Here’s 12 examples of social media success stories with NGOs.

 

 

 

 

 

Herschel Supply Co. is a Social Media Darling….& Genius

 

 

 

 

You know a brand is using social media well when it tells a story without throwing a product in your face, and yet you’re enticed to shop with that brand based on one Instagram photo.

tofino-photographer-kaitlyn-shea-well-travelled

Millions of people around the globe use social media platforms to connect with friends, family, celebrities, artists, groups, organizations and the like. But one of the most important connections an individual can make on social media is with a coveted brand. Enter, Herschel Supply Co.

Herschel is a Canadian born-and-bred accessory brand whose roots stem all the way from, you guessed it, Herschel (Saskatchewan). The brand produces several different products all categorized by “lines,” basically what we fashion noobs would call “collections.” From backpacks and wallets, to messenger bags and laptop sleeves, Herschel Supply Co. has branded itself as a global accessory company with acute attention to detail. But they are also social media genius’ and it’s because they’re doing everything right.

Consider they way in which they market their brand through social media. Herschel doesn’t simply throw up pictures of their own product on Instagram with a few promo codes here & there and hope that someone buys a duffel bag. Instead, they have cleverly sought to reach a specific group or “niche” of people (both here in Canada and internationally); specifically, people who travel, are into adventure, the outdoors or any state of being which requires a VSCOcam filter. A quintessential “hipster” brand used by hipsters & non-hipsters alike, Herschel reaches millions of people through clever social media marketing, and it’s working. Really well. How are they doing it?

For one, Herschel actually gives the people what they want. Every product the brand designs is unique in its style, fabric, print, makeup and its advertisment. Several other brands have copied their style and essentially use Herschel as their muse. They make functional items for literally every occasion – whether you’re boarding a plane to Europe, camping in the middle of nowhere, canoeing in Alberta or shopping in Toronto, there’s a product perfect for you. They don’t have just one collection, but several, offering customers a wide range of products from which to choose, and not just one color of one product, but a vast array of options. They’ve made accessory shopping unique, personal and personalized, which is far more than many travel accessory brands can say. Herschel allows its customers to choose from so many options that you never feel limited and the product you buy can reflect your personality. Into floral? Great, Herschel has bags, totes and beyond, all in that pattern. Looking for a sleek, black duffel? Well, you’re in luck, Herschel makes those too. I happen to own several accessories from their collection of black/white/red products. Walking around the York University campus, where I attend whilst completing my Classics degree, I see so many people sporting Herschel that I might as well be in their supply factory.

Herschel has also utilized social media to their advantage by engaging with their customers in a way that isn’t all about them. Let’s take a look at their Instagram as a prime example. You won’t catch Herschel crowding its Insta feed with a bunch of photos taken from their website and blurbs about how great & functional their products are. Instead, Herschel posts pictures from its customers who have tagged their own Instagram photos with one or more of Herschel’s cleverly-crafted hashtags. Their #WellTravelled campaign encourages Instagram users to take photos of their adventures with the hashtag and post them to social media – irregardless of whether the user is a Herschel customer. Additionally, they are smart in having more than one campaign going at a time with photography contests like #CityLimitless, a campaign that continues to grow despite the contest being long over. They have a multifaceted blog which features users’ photography, Journals about various adventures, product features and more from their campaigns; their Twitter acts more like a guide to everyday life than it does a promotional method to market their brand despite their constant use of their personal hashtags peppered into each tweet. They’ve connected social media accounts by linking their Twitter & Facebook together, so all users and customers can keep up with all things Herschel. So the company, whilst being very present on social media, is actually marketing their brands through customers, as opposed to marketing their brand at customers. That’s hella clever.

You know a brand is using social media well when their social media can tell a story without throwing a product in your face, and yet you’re enticed to shop with that brand based on one Instagram photo alone. Herschel sells the idea of a lifestyle which you can have with its products, rather than selling you the product. Clever, no?

But the brand also moves, and this is perhaps the most important and impressive aspect of why Herschel is so successful at social media. All of their platforms are social media user friendly; that’s key, considering we live in a world where everyone is looking at their phones more than at one another. They move with their customers and followers depending on what each follower/customer is looking for. A person looking strictly to buy a Herschel product can easily find their website on any of the brand’s social media accounts. Aspiring photographers will be more likely to follow or be attracted to Herschel’s Instagram, whereas brand-fans will use Twitter to keep up with new product releases similar to how fans follow the releases of albums or music from their favorite artists. It’s easy to get support from the brand, considering they have a separate Twitter account specifically set up to help customers and followers with every question imaginable. As people move, the brand can move with them due to its clever and rather smart use of social media. But really, it’s the other way around: people will move with the brand because Herschel makes it easy and so effortless that you’d probably never realize you were moving with them, and not vice versa.

It doesn’t hurt, either, that the brand is constantly creating in order to stay relevant and ahead of competition like Poler Stuff, another brand creating accessories like Herschel which are functional for almost any situation. Herschel does this through collaborations which see the brand working with other brands on products, collabs which solidify Herschel’s presence in the industry as collabs don’t let you forget who made what and with whom. Many brands would have newsletters go the way of the Dodo, but Herschel still sends them out and thus encourages customers to remain connected, even if you’re already obsessed with them on Instagram or drool over their products on their website. I should probably mention that Herschel makes it easy to purchase their products via their website, because it offers the customer various payment options. You can pay with your credit card, debit card or heck, why not purchase that new duffel using your PayPal account? If you live in Canada, shipping is relatively quick from the company’s Vancouver location, which definitely helps with customer satisfaction. I can attest to the quick shipping times; I once ordered a backpack and received in three days later with the nicest packaging.

With its use of social media so evidently advanced, it’s no wonder many consider Herschel a digital media darling. The brand quite literally uses every social media tool available to it. If we consider how involved they are across social media without actually talking about themselves, yet they sell thousands of bags per year without batting an eye, we’d have to admit that this brand is pretty darn clever. Herschel didn’t set out to be a social media socialite but with the founders of the brand having represented large brands prior to starting their own, it’s obvious as to why the brand would succeed. Literally anyone can own a Herschel product, despite many assuming it’s a hipster brand; I know several people who have never even heard of Herschel and yet, someone they know (like me) owns several of the brand’s products. Whether you’re a college frat boy, a preppy drama-club member, a skateboarder or lawyer, it doesn’t really matter with Herschel because their products speak to everyone, and they’ve made backpacks cool again. Without social media, the brand really wouldn’t be as popular as it is; after all, not everyone can physically visit a store or location selling Herschel merchandise in order to make a purchase. As the writers at Twist Image say, brands need to be digitally-led first, and Herschel does just that. It digitally leads us to nicer, more expensive backpacks through it’s really smart use of social media. How can you argue that when just one gander of their Instagram feed makes a wanderlust-ridden zombie of us all?

 

But what does all of this mean for those of us looking to use social media, or even to have a career-oriented role in the world of social media? If there’s one thing we can take away from Herschel’s social media success, it’s the fact that we have to be willing to understand social media first. You want to make your own brand? You’ll need to understand social media. Have a company you want to market better digitally? Ask yourself if you know how to use social media to increase your reach, grow your following and reach your target consumers. Personally, as a freelance writer I require social media to promote my writing just a novelist in the 21st century needs it to promote their book(s). I have a desire to learn about it because it can advance my career and my sphere of influence; could it not do the same for you? Your business? Your brand? I’m curious to see how my experience with learning about social media helps me utilize it in the real world, and whether I can become as savvy & successful with social media as Herschel has.