COM0011 – Can Snapchat Become a Primary Social Media Tool for Small Business Marketing?

snapchat-logo

By: Kamal Hylton

When it comes to how useful a social media platform is to the business world, I zero in on how effective it is at interacting with an audience, sharing ideas and/or getting a message across.

During the current era of social media boom, the impact of tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn on big business have made a clear impression. However it has made an even bigger mark on small businesses, startup companies and given local entrepreneurs marketing power and global reach like never before. Twitter have allowed owner/customer relations to blossom and build productive long-term relationships through short and simple messages, Facebook has enabled startups to unleash detailed marketing campaigns that are professional quality at little to no cost, Instagram is tailor-made for video or image marketing equal to any big advertising firm and LinkedIn has done away with the old rolodex in its ability to keep up with contacts and find like-minded professionals.

That said, one social media platform I personally can’t wrap my head around as a “go to” tool for small businesses social media marketing is Snapchat – the video messaging app that allows viewers to see short videos up to 10 seconds in length before being deleted permanently.

Being a writer/social media marketer on behalf of a media company, part of my job is to help startups acquire and sustain an online following. Typically these are companies with little to no advertising budgets or are in fields like healthcare, data security and employment services that although important aren’t exactly sexy or exude excitement like the music or art industries nor do they have the ability to get a big star like Justin Bieber or Drake to do a social media takeover of their brand. When it comes to Snapchat, I’ve found it hard even suggest as a primary tool to our clients simply due to its premise and main selling points not making sense for them. There are some good selling points to Snapchat that I’d love to use for specific projects like the “Discover” feature, giving companies a 24 hour channel of videos and short articles. The easy way Sanpchat can be used to promote specific events is also a plus, its immediacy perfect for pop up giveaways or the creation of citywide treasure hunts all in the name of publicity.

The issues I’m presented with in regard to Snapchat could come down to demographic  or nature, with more than half of Snapchat users under the age of 25 and companies I tend to work with not catering to the flashy nature of the app. It could also be as simple as Snapchat still being a new tool that hasn’t reached its full potential enough to make it a primary social media pillar like the others mentioned. Whatever the case, right now I can’t recommend Snapchat for a company right out of the gate in the same vein as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

I’d love to hear from you (especially if you are a regular Snapchat user). What makes Snapchat appeal to you? How could a small business make best use of Snapchat? How do you see Snapchat evolving in the future?

Reference Material:

Snapchat for Beginners: 6 Ways To Use It For Business –  http://bit.ly/1TOdR8F

Making Sense of Snapchat for your Small Businesshttp://bit.ly/1TqZ31q

Guide to How Snapchat is being used todayhttp://read.bi/1UjutWv

I Think I’m Addicted to Social Media

A few years ago, I read this book called The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, for my first year communications class. The booshallowsk focuses on the effects the Internet has on our brains; looking at how different our productivity, concentration, creativity, etc, are with the Internet being such a prominent figure in our lives. He found that there is a significant difference between the brains of those who regularly use the Internet and all it entails and those who don’t. He also found that his ability to focus on reading a book diminished because he wasn’t able to sit down and read without loosing his concentration, because he’d get distracted by his phone or quickly loose interest. His ability to think deeply on topics that used to intrigue him and doing research became taxing. His thought process and the way his brain accepted information changed with the increase of new technology. After reading this book, I seriously noticed the change my life undertook because of the internet.

I was born in the early 90’s, so my childhood was a mixture of the classic ‘go play outside’ kid thing and experimenting  on the new household computer that came with dial up Internet. Looking back on my childhood  and comparing it to the kind of childhood kids have now, I’m glad that I wasn’t a computer/phone focused kid. I mean yes, they were around but since that technology was still in its infancy I felt I was able to have a fairly lax relationship with it. I loved reading when I was younger; so much so that I could usually finish a book in a single sitting. As I grew up and the internet took a more prominent seat in my life I noticed that I slowly stopped reading as much. My focus started to gravitate toward the internet and chatting online with friends. Now when I try to read a book, I can’t focus for more than a few minutes; I end up checking my phone or open an app to scroll through feeds until I remember I was trying to read. Same thing happened to me in class when I was in university. Whenever I got bored or I saw a notification light up my phone, I would check it and get distracted thus putting me behind in lecture. This became a vicious cycle.

My boyfriend hates when I’m on my phone, and I don’t blame him. I know I have problem which somehow makes my addiction worse. I like scrolling through Instagram, opening Snapchat stories, sending Snapchats, looking at my Facebook group messages. I feel connected and up to date with my friends and their lives. I like stumbling across new Instagram feeds for local restaurants or stores. With my acknowledgement of my problem though, I feel like I should take some steps to help me out and reorient my life.

I recently downloaded this Android app called QualityTime. It tracks your ‘digital diet’, or the amount of time you spend on apps. It tracks your history and shows your usage trends. This app has a feature that allows you to ‘take a break’ which helps to minimize your phone notifications, allowing you to focus on whatever it is that you are doing. I’ve only had this app for a few days, but already I can see how much I use my phone. Once I’ve had the app for a bit longer, I’ll have a better sense of my phone habits which will help me switch off my phone more often. There is a similar app for Apple users called Moment, which tracks your overall usage of your Apply products.

 

During finals in university I always struggled with focusing on studying because my computer posed too much of a distraction. I found these programs to be useful to me when I was trying to procrastinate. For Windows users, there is a site called Cold Turkey and for Mac users, an app called Self Control. Both sites do similar things, such as blocking certain websites for a set time period. These programs have gone through some major modifications since the last time I used it, but all for the better, including updates toward having a schedule, group settings, advanced settings, and more! These sites really help if you have no control and you know you’ll just end up on your favorite site.

I hope that I’ll be able to garner some control or at least balance between my online life and ‘real’ life. I honestly feel like the development of the internet just happened all at once and it took everyone by storm. It’s so overwhelming at times and since there’s so much you can do online, it can feel like you have to see and do it all. While I believe that what the internet and social media holds for us is important, it is more important to have a healthy ‘digital diet.’

Has anyone else had similar issues of feeling addicted to their phone/social media? 

Is this idea that the Internet has changed the way our brains think something we should look into? 

Let me know if you think these sites and apps are worth the effort or do you think its a mind over matter kind of situation. Until next time, check out this video from Refinery29, in which they ask people about their social media lives!

Social Media and Kids

Every time I think about my daughter hitting teendom, my face does this:

mayaface

Image from theglow.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets worse when I think about how social media will be a major part of her teenage years. And while I don’t believe in banning kids from social media land altogether, I do think (as do most parents) there needs to be limits.

And it’s not only Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter that we need to be aware of.

There is a boatload of apps that many parents (including myself until recently) don’t know about. I know a lot of moms and dads will get their hackles up over the suggestion that they don’t know what their kids are doing online. But let’s face it, kids can be naïve, sneaky, and risk-taking – a perfect storm for terrible social media choices.

I am not a helicopter parent. I think the idea of “stranger danger” is completely blown out of proportion. And I don’t coddle my child. But I really think social media has the potential to be really harmful if parents and kids don’t understand it or know how to use it responsibly.

Here are just a few of the apps that give me the shudders. None of them are directly aimed at the under-aged, but because it’s impossible to verify ages when registering, kids can easily use them.

Tinder

If you’re a grown-up, go for it. If you’re still in grade school, nope. This app describes itself as a new and interesting way to meet people, which really means a new way to hook up. And there is nothing to stop kids from using this app. Its anonymous nature can lead to cyber-bullying and the geo-location feature puts kids at real risk.

YouNow

A very weird website where anyone can make their webcam live so that others can watch them do mundane, everyday things and comment on it. Enough said.

YikYak

This app allows users to “yak” anonymously to the people closest around them (based on geo-location). Obviously, this can lead to some really harsh stuff that teens and young kids may not be able to handle.

Ask.fm

Used almost exclusively by kids, this app lets users ask anonymous questions about anything to other users. Again, this kind of app can open the door to harassment and cyber-bullying.

I love social media. Social networks and mobile apps are incredible ways to make connections and become a part of a community. But things can turn on a dime and kids can quickly get caught up in something ugly.

So what can parents do? I can’t give the best advice because my daughter is only two. Her social network is a gaggle of stuffed animals. They don’t say much.

But for parents of older kids, I think the best thing is to know what’s out there and insist on keeping the lines of communications open, even if it drives them up the wall.

What are your social media safety tips for kids?

Com0015 – Post 4 – Out of the Box

What truly amaze me are the multiple applications that can be downloaded by smartphone users that have nothing to do with calling. In fact, according to Pew Internet Research, nearly four in ten users do not use the calling feature on their mobiles. For example, sending text messages, reading emails, setting an alarm clock are more popular than calling.

Taking pictures with smartphones has also changed the way we interact with people and has propelled the success of Instagram, allowing more people to view the world through imagery than texts. The GPS functionality on smartphones allows location specific interactions with information and people. Google alerts from calendars keep us on schedule. And there are lots more……

Below are some of the interesting apps that have proven to be very trendy with smartphone users. Their popularity could be due to the convenience they provide when dealing with normal day-to-day life activities.

  • Google Maps has changed the way we travel around in unfamiliar settings. They help us find locations, or provide directions and other location-based information. It has helped me find my way back to the cottage when we were lost this spring in the woods.
  • Google’s Earth-viewing app lets you look at cities in street view in one second, zoom out and then see the whole country.
  • Google Search lets you surf the Internet almost anywhere where there is a connection and with GPS functionality prioritizing suggested sites nearest you.
  • Making banking transactions has never been so easy.
  • Accessing your files across all your devices is now automated.
  • Reading Kindle e-books while waiting to see a dentist.
  • Poweramp lets you listen to music while Audible for Androids lets you listen to books.
  • Changing television channels or the temperature at home with a click of a button or
  • Scanning a barcode to obtain competitive pricing in a store nearby.

Again according to Pew Internet Research, mobile is gaining in popularity with 94% of adult Americans owning a cellphone. Google seems to believe that mobile is the future with their release this year of its Mobilegeddon algorithm update to phase out sites not optimized for mobile. It’s clear that Google is banking on desktop traffic fading away, meaning the smart money rests on mobile-focused on-line marketing.

Continuing this trend is the popularity of wearable technology. Apple watch was unveiled this year and most expect to see more trendy wearable devices next year. The trick will be to make these devices fashionable enough so more people will be interested in owning them.

What does all this mean for on-line marketing and social media? It means an opportunity to reach a huge audience “hooked” on their smartphones…it means an opportunity to instantly share materials and ideas…and it means an opportunity to simultaneously share an experience with several people at once…

But most importantly, it means that if you do not have a mobile strategy guiding your marketing or social media plans, you will be rapidly “tuned” out.

COM0011 – Blog Post 6 – Mobile Apps

Mobile Apps – Increase revenue and engagement in 5 steps

apps

Going are the days were people look up your website online to see what you are about and to interact with you. Today’s market is an app based market. Although it can be hard to get consumers to download your app it is very easy to get them to delete you.

People are over whelmed with millions of different apps to choose from. You need to stand out amongst the masses to be the top downloaded app. Making sure that your app is appealing, and engaging will help win them over and encourage them to use your app versus another’s and endorse yours as well.

Here are 5 steps to follow to make sure you are not deleted and forgotten about forever.

  1. Build Trust to Onboard Effectively

It’s all about making a great first impression. Have an initial splash page to guide users through your app’s top features. Also motive new users to create an account. Having accounts make the check-out process on your app much smoother and encouraging to use.

  1. Provide Value to Encourage Engagement

Send relevant and valuable marketing messages with personalized recommendations based on ‘last brand viewed’ or ‘most recent purchase’.

  1. Inspire Urgency to Drive Mobile Conversion

They are now engaged and it is time to encourage a purchase. Creating a push and in-app message encourages an immediate conversion and making it specific to each user and what is in their cart will grab their attention.

  1. Offer Social Proof to Cultivate Brand Loyalty

Encourage sharing special VIP campaigns or special promos to transform your customer into a brand advocate.

  1. Find the Right Rhythm to Retain Users

Remember not to over message your customer. Build your push strategy around each user’s habits.

COMM0015 Blog Post #4 – Out of the box

SkededelThere is not a single time where I have not had an eye-opening moment reading about an application or the unexpected use of an application in a RSS feed or newsletter. For instance, I just came across Yelp while reading up on an app called Skededel. Of course, I know Yelp has been around for a while but I’ve never looked into it. I really should have, because it would have saved me a couple of “no need to come here again” dinner experiences.

The application Skededelreally seems to be on the forefront of online and social location reviews. Users want to offer their content and engage, others turn to it for reviews and recommendations. The app Skededel brings it to the next level when you’re out and about and try to figure out where the next restaurant or coffee shop is. The app pulls pictures from Instagram, which others checked out and you might even get to preview a dish you’re thinking of ordering.

One application I’ve used but have not given that much attention to yet is LinkedIn. I think it is a great way to create a professional community with people you have worked with as well as people you might be working with in the future. More time should be spent updating my profile and also tapping into parts of the application I know of but have not used yet. I did not realize how much more one can do with LinkedIn.

In Graphic Design, which is what I do, many specialize on one or perhaps a few programs to work with due to their complexity. I’m wondering if there will be a similar development in social media. Seems to me, it is quite time consuming to truly leverage all the different tools available. What are your thoughts?

Image: Skededel