social networking

2014 Study Reveals Instagram, Twitter Most Important to Teens

Are you marketing to teens only through Facebook? If so, you could be missing out on reaching the majority of them.


Teen Social Media Importance Study

A recent Piper Jaffray & Co study of 7,500 teens in 48 U.S. states  revealed the top social media site for teens is Instagram at 30%, followed closely by Twitter at 27%. Facebook follows at 23% and 5% of teens reported not using social media networks.

The biggest surprise of this report is the rapid decline in teen use of Facebook. As recently as Fall of 2012, Facebook was reported as the most important social networking site for teens at 42%. Now, just a year and a half later, Facebook’s popularity among teens has declined by almost half, while Instagram has nearly tripled. Twitter has remained fairly steady in the mid to high 20% range.

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post

This chart shows the rapid change in social media site use by teens since Fall of 2012, Source: Huffington Post, Piper Jaffray

What Does This Mean?

With all the stimulation we are exposed to on a daily basis, our attention spans have been decreasing significantly over the past several years. We have so many more things to pay attention to, many simultaneously, so messages consisting of images and short text blurbs are easier for us to process versus lengthy text. So it’s no wonder teens are more attracted to Instagram, which is made up of images and Twitter which has a 140-character tweet limit, keeping communication very brief.

Targeting the teen demographic now requires more images and minimal text. Messages will need to be designed to attract through imagery, catchy phrases and relevant hashtags.

What About Facebook?

Facebook is still the most popular social networking site, so it’s important to maintain a healthy presence there. However, it would be wise to take tips from Instagram and Twitter to keep Facebook posts high in imagery and low in text characters to appeal to a more visual audience. Also, to reach a larger audience, it would be wise to set up your Facebook page to share content to your Twitter account.

Best Practices

This report goes to show how quickly social media usage can change among a demographic. While it’s important to continually adjust  your social media strategy to hit your target market effectively, it’s also wise to maintain a consistent presence on multiple networks.

Most social media sites allow and encourage sharing content to other social media sites. This is a great way to easily maintain a presence among multiple sites without a ton of effort. For example, it’s a good practice (if relevant) to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare when uploading to Instagram. One photo, six social media sites, all at once.

Report Source: Piper Jaffray & Co., company reports


Google Plus: How I Went From Zero to 60 Overnight

Recently, I had the opportunity to try my marketing abilities with Google Plus. As a marketer, I try to have at least somewhat of a presence on the majority of social networks. In fact, whenever I see a chart showing the popularity of social networks, I make sure I’m signed up for most, if not all of them, to ensure I have a foot in the door of the social media world.

Working for a large automotive group, I try to keep my company well-represented online, not only to build relationships, but to take advantage of SEO achieved through posting regularly. This week, I tried my hand at Google Plus.

I’ve been maintaining several social media sites and learning more about them in the process. Facebook and Twitter have become second nature, but what about Google Plus? How can I get people to interact with us there? I was determined to find the answers.

How to prepare:

  • Make sure your page is set up completely and properly. As the representing social media page of your company, you must make sure it is branded consistently with the rest of your sites and has accurate information.  (Here’s a handy guide for Google Plus covers & images, although it’s highly littered with ads)
  • Follow companies, brands and groups relevant to your company.  Because we are an automotive group, I follow our brands as well as automotive review sites, local interests and related groups for fans of our brands. Following these groups will give you content to share and lead to followers and fans.
  • Post regularly. This should be pretty obvious, but if you’re not posting regularly, it becomes obvious that you are not monitoring the page and people won’t want to follow you because the page appears inactive. By posting even just once a week, you are showing your online presence and increasing your chance of gaining more followers.
  • Post photos. Lots of photos. Engaging photos. If you hadn’t noticed, the average consumer attention span is decreasing faster than the speed of light. They are bombarded with so much content on a steady basis that they don’t take time to read much (are you even reading all of this blog post? Probably not.) Share photos, helpful links and anything they can consume in very small bites. Be concise and clever and don’t overload them with too much content or they will simply skim right past it.

Now for the pièce de résistance: the simple things I did to gain 60+ followers overnight:

We received 3 amazing Ford Shelby GT500 Mustangs from a car collector with dash plaques autographed by Carroll Shelby AND each had less than 100 miles, even though they were 3 and 5 years old. These are not something you see very often and to have THREE of them is even rarer.

So I took artsy photos of them and created a photo album on Google Plus. I described the cars in each caption for SEO and included links to our site, since they are all available for purchase. Once the album was complete, I had the option to share it. Since we follow a 3,500+ group of Mustang enthusiasts, I shared it with that group.

Instantly, many of them received an email of the post and within 1 minute of posting, I already had 3 comments. Within an hour, our + count had increased by 30 and I was responding to as many comments as I could to keep the fans engaged. By morning, we had more than 60 +1’s on our profile and even more on our photos. As the day stretched on, our photos were going mildly viral through the Ford and Mustang community and we were steadily gaining popularity.

Next Steps

As much as I don’t want to admit it, that burst of popularity was accidental. I dabble in Google Plus to gain experience using it and to learn more about it, but Facebook and Twitter have been my comfort zones. However, because of the SEO, targeting, and ability to share links with a much larger audience without having to pay for advertising, Google Plus is definitely a platform to pay attention to.

So now, I will be duplicating my “Shelby project” with other photos, increasing our +1’s, sending potential customers to our site, and placing efforts into growing our other brands.

I’m so impressed with how quickly the photos went viral, if even for just a few hours. I felt the energy of increasing our popularity and that is the momentum needed to continue surfing through the waves of Google Plus.

How to Improve Your Online Social Influence using Klout

You may have 500 Facebook friends and 2500 Twitter followers, but how influential are you really online?  A free service called Klout can measure your online influence and teach you how to improve your presence.

I’ve become more and more involved in social media over the past couple years and while I feel influential at times, it’s hard to know exactly how I impact others.  I found a great tool that measures just that, and it’s called, a free service that measures your online influence over others.

How Klout Works

The way Klout works is simple: you log on using your Facebook or Twitter account, connect it to your other social media accounts (i.e. Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, WordPress, YouTube, etc;) and it analyzes your social interactions to score you between 1 and 100.  This score can help you understand how much others trust your opinions, topics about which you are influential and how influential others in your social network are.

You can also give and receive Klout K+ points which increase how influential you or others are on particular topics.  If you do not receive enough K+ points and do not seem to be influential enough about your topics online, you will no longer have those topics listed on your profile.  It’s okay to not have topics listed, however they help others to understand what you are influential about and can increase their likelihood of following you.

Your Klout score is based on three factors:

  1. True Reach: how many people you influence
  2. Amplification: how much you influence your true reach
  3. Network Impact: how those in your true reach respond to and share your content
Some of the actions that influence your Klout score are re-tweets and mentions on Twitter, comments and likes on Facebook, and re-shares and comments on Google+.

Klout Style

After your influence has been analyzed, you are placed into a category or “Klout Style” based upon your social interactions.  Currently, my score is around 50 and I am considered a specialist: someone who has a specifically focused topic and a highly-engaged audience.

This is great for me, because I have been focusing on sticking to specific topics on my Twitter account and the majority of those I follow as well as my followers share the same interest in those topics.

Using Klout to Improve Your Social Influence

If you are interested in your Klout score, then you are most likely interested in improving your social influence.  One way is to review your score on a daily basis to see how your interactions impact your score.  Ask your network an open-ended question or post a link to a must-read article.  Make an effort to comment on others’ posts, re-tweet, and respond to their comments on your posts.  Every interaction can help increase your score.

Or perhaps you would like to be more like someone you follow on Twitter.  We’ll use Oprah Winfrey for example.

Oprah’s Klout score is 85 and her Klout Style is Celebrity.  Granted, I’m not a celebrity like she is, but if I want to shift my influence to match Oprah’s, I can view Klout’s comparison to understand how she uses social media, who she influences and topics on which she is most influential.

Looking at our comparison, her main network is Twitter, while mine is Facebook.  We don’t share any of the same influencers and are not influential about the same topics.

So how can I change this? For starters, I can steer my focus on Twitter rather than Facebook.  I can check out her influencers and follow them so we start to build similar networks.  Next, I can review her topics and start posting about the same topics in which I am interested (we want to keep this organic over copycat).  Finally, I can get my friends on Klout to give me Klout K+ points on my topics to keep my topic scores high.

Why You Should Use Klout

If you understand the influence you have over others, you can improve your use of social media to reach your network more effectively.  You can also understand who you influence the most to cater your posts to those who are most interested or change your message to appeal to a larger audience.

Do you use Klout?  How has it helped you better reach your audience?

Netflix: A Big Business Decision Gone Awry

Last week, I wrote about the New York Times sending an email to 8 million recipients in error and how it quickly ended causing no real damage. However, emails that aren’t well thought out can cause serious repercussions, damaging the company’s reputation, causing the company to lose significant profits.

Consider the email from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix, back in September regarding the splitting of streaming and DVD services and websites. This was following the July price increase that already caused many subscribers to drop their subscriptions. So in addition to the already unpopular price hike, subscribers now faced the inconvenience of managing their account and movie queue on two different websites if they wanted to keep both services.

Three weeks later, another email was sent out announcing that there would not be a division of the services and that the site would remain as is. Unfortunately, due to all the confusion, Netflix lost 800,000 U.S. subscribers during the third quarter of 2011, the largest drop they’d seen in seven years.

The email from Hastings almost comes off as an internal email, a suggestion for a new idea. But generally, ideas of such magnitude require planning, research and marketing. Suggesting such a big change to generally satisfied customers through an email was quite a blow. Being a subscriber to streaming services myself, I know I was shocked at this announcement and felt unsure about this new venture.

So how could this have been handled better? Rather than sounding like a cross between an internal company email and a message from a stern uncle on “how things are going to be,” Netflix could have taken a few steps to make this new idea more exciting and acceptable to subscribers.

Focus groups and subscriber polls could have been used to determine how subscribers would feel about the drastic change. With the outcry of threatening to cancel Netflix subscriptions quickly spreading across the internet after the announcement, Netflix could have quickly determined this might not be the best decision.

Rather than sending a long explanatory email to subscribers, the message could have been better controlled and spun to demonstrate the benefits to the customer of having these split services. Is splitting a service that works fine for me convenient for me? No, not at all. I don’t want to have to manage my one service through two sites. If you want to do that, then tell me why I should be happy about it and how it will benefit me.

The end-user doesn’t care how your company works internally and definitely doesn’t want to complicate their life to make yours easier. Stating “we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently,” is something you tell your employees, not your customers. You tell your customers “here’s what I’m going to do for you to make your life easier and make your experience with my product or service even better.”

The message could have been conveyed better as well. Rather than sending a long-winded email letter, placing internet ads, commercials announcing the “exciting new service” and easing customers into the change using controlled messages to build their confidence in it would have been much more effective. Sometimes it is better to slowly inch into cold water than to dive right in.

Waiting three weeks to announce the change was not going to occur was another blunder. Granted, big decisions take time and I’m sure it took a long time to field all the calls and emails from unhappy subscribers, but had they responded earlier, perhaps they could have prevented some of the subscriber loss.

In the end, Netflix, a company that had been functioning perfectly fine in the eyes of its subscribers, upset and confused the very people it needed to exist. The company made a very bold move that ended up backfiring, giving the impression that the company was unafraid to make drastic decisions without regard for its subscribers.

What other companies have made drastic decisions that didn’t turn out well?  Which ones made big decisions that worked out?  How would you handle a negative backlash of a recent business decision?


Red Robin E-blast: Marketing Genius or Disaster?

I received an e-blast from Red Robin today with the subject reading “Are you Jim? A FREE burger awaits!”  I was a bit excited because I recently signed up for their royalty card and had thought maybe they confused me with someone else—nevertheless, they think I get a free burger so maybe I’d take them up on the offer!

Then I open the email and see this:

Red Robin e-blast - Free burger if your name happens to be Jim, James or Jimbo

Red Robin e-blast - Free burger if your name happens to be Jim, James or Jimbo...

I did forward it on to my father-in-law, Jim, but then I started to think about how it made me feel.  Granted I’m a vegetarian (yeah for RR Boca burgers) and I’ve sworn off Red Robin for receiving poor service the last few times I’ve been there, but I’m also human and a fan of free stuff and equal opportunity.

I went to Red Robin’s Facebook page to see what others thought about the promotion:

  • There were a lot of excited people, as I was in the beginning, sharing this with all the Jims they knew.
  • There were confused folks who didn’t get it and thought Red Robin thought their name was Jim
  • There were some who were disappointed they couldn’t get the deal and hopeful for a Carol or Melissa free burger day.
  • There were all the happy Jims (and derivatives of the name)  announcing their excitement for the free burger.
  • There are those who think this is a fun and cute promotion.
  • There were the naysayers, not thrilled about being fooled into thinking they got a free burger.
  • There were the extremists exclaiming how sexist this awful campaign is because it’s only valid for people named Jim and even states to forward on to “him,” and many even suggesting boycotting Red Robin.
  • There were the regulators telling the extremists to calm down and just be happy for the Jims.

There’s a couple sides to this reputationally-risky promotion: is it good to get any publicity even if it is negative or do the risks of negative lashing out by the public outweigh any positive attention this campaign could get?

The Red Robin representative on Facebook has been commenting like crazy, making sure the rules are clear, responding quickly to positive comments and laying low in response to the negative comments.  Is it wise to focus on the positive and avoid drawing attention to the negative?

It will be interesting to see the reactions of Red Robin executives over the next week to see if there is an apology or if they stand behind their marketing campaign.

What do you think about this e-blast: genius or disaster?

Using html to Create a Linked Image Map

Call me old-fashioned, but sometimes, there’s just something about coding in straight html that is so refreshing to me. Granted, with all the software out now, many html-illiterate folks can create amazing web masterpieces. I, however, was always someone who took pride in being able to write my own code from scratch and I still do on a fairly regular basis.

There are a couple of reasons why I stick to coding my own html:

  1. It’s reliable. The more you mess with a WYSIWYG html editor, the more the code gets scrambled and the higher your potential is for having unexpected results. It’s kind of like purifying a bottle of dirty water with bleach—it may be “clean” but it’s still full of dirt particles.
  2. It’s good to know what’s behind the scenes. If you notice a glitch on your website, how can you fix it? This is especially if you have a WYSIWYG editor or CSS that wants to override the html. If you are able to look at the raw coding and know where to look, you can fix the problem a lot easier.
  3. You control the coding. Sure, I don’t always put values in “quotations” as I should and I don’t always close out my coding in table cells, but when I code, I put only what I need in there so I know exactly what I will end up with. It’s like using a recipe that I created to suit my particular taste.

This week, I decided to go back to my late 90s html roots and create an image map. You’ve seen these before: it’s one image, but if you click in different areas, you will go to different links rather than having the entire image linked to only one site.

So take a second to see what I created in this link, then I will tell you how you can do it yourself.

NOTE: A great free html editor is the Coffee Cup Free HTML Editor.  I use this regularly so I can quickly view my coding without having to save a Notepad file as html and go back and forth between txt and html files.

First, I created my banner in Photoshop creating two distinct categories at the bottom: Leather and Composite. Rather than lead the viewer to a general page, I wanted to lead them directly to the page for each category.

Then, I wanted to find the coordinates. Now depending on which type of image map you plan on using, you will need a different set of coordinates. And don’t worry, the coordinates are probably the easiest part of this process—just open the image in Paint, mouse over the points and the coordinates will show up on the bottom right of the screen. So here’s the image map types and the coordinates needed:

  • RECT: This is a rectangle shape and all you need is the top right and bottom left coordinates, in that order. It’s what I used for my image map and is simple if you need a rectangular area.
  • CIRCLE: This type creates a circle around one coordinate point and the distance if the link created is indicated by the radius of the circle .
  • POLYGON: This is a very specific map that allows you to select several points around an area. Just make sure the points are selected in order (i.e. clockwise or counter-clockwise) to ensure a proper image map area.

So decide what type of image map you want to create, locate the coordinates, then come up with a name for the map. NOTE: If you are linking to multiple parts of the image, be sure to collect all coordinates needed, keep them separate for each location and keep them in order. I named mine “cover” in reference to the cover materials of the balls. Name it whatever you want.

NOTE: A great free html editor to test your coding in is Coffee Cup Free HTML Editor.  The free version only allows you to code and preview, but it is much faster than coding in Notepad, saving in html and viewing it that way.

Now you are ready to code! Here’s how I did mine:

<img src=”; usemap=”#cover” border=”0″>
<map name=”cover”>
<area shape=”rect” coords=”268,199,39,235″ href=”″></area&gt;
<area shape=”rect” coords=”621,197,331,235″ href=””></area&gt;

  1. The first line is the image link: <img src=”; usemap=”#cover” border=”0″>
  2. Second line is the map name: <map name=”cover”>
  3. Third line is the first link: <area shape=”rect” coords=”268,199,39,235″ href=”″></area&gt;
  4. Fourth line is the second link: <area shape=”rect” coords=”621,197,331,235″ href=””></area&gt;
  5. The fifth line is the map closure: </map>

Image maps aren’t limited to just page links, try them for page anchors and email addresses too! You can include a Facebook “like” or Twitter “follow” or whatever you can link to! This is a fun way to create a more interactive image without using tables or slicing to create the links.

As always, be sure to test your image map in different browsers and have friends or coworkers test it as well to ensure it works correctly. The purpose of straight coding html is to control maximum output so the last thing you want to do is take the time to create an image map that does not work.

Enjoy and happy coding!

Integrating QR Codes Into Your Marketing Plan (& Video – How to Create QR Codes)

Quick Response or “QR” codes are quickly becoming a way to easily engage your market, creating a shortcut to an action you want them to take.  With the ever-increasing number of smartphones in our consumers’ hands, the faster and more easily we can get information into their hands, the more likely they are to use it and act on it.

What is a QR code?
As barcodes evolved, the desire to use them to store increasing amounts of information also evolved.  Standard barcodes are limited to horizontal data storage.  Several attempts were made to try to include more information, but these attempts resulted in oversized or multiple barcodes, which lead to scanning and printing errors.

QR codes are two-dimensional square barcodes with the ability to encode information both vertically AND horizontally.  This allows users to store much more information in a small space.  For example, if you wanted a barcode for, a standard barcode would need to be about 200 pixels wide.  A QR code could easily be half that size, and contain your entire contact card or code for the scanner to “Like” your Facebook page.

How are QR codes created?
It’s easy!  Check out a site such as, select the type of QR code you want to generate (i.e. web link, social networking, vCard, etc;), enter your content and download your QR code.  Pass the code on to your design team to incorporate wherever possible.

How can QR codes be integrated into a marketing plan?

  • Direct link to purchase or additional information – Put a QR code on your flyers that links directly to a site where they can purchase the product advertised or get more information about the product or service.
  • Easy download of contact info – If you’ve ever had a stack of business cards from potential clients after a trade show, one of the last things you want to do is have to enter all that information into your database.  By placing a vCard QR card on your business card, clients can download all your contact information in one scan.  That beats even using a business card scanner!  Try putting a vCard QR code wherever you put your contact information, on your business cards, website or even on a company vehicle!
  • Social networking – According to Facebook statistics, there are more than 500 million active Facebook users worldwide, so getting your business out there on Facebook can help you gain massive worldwide exposure.  The more “Likes” you get on your Facebook page, the more exposure you will get.  So QR codes encouraging clients to “Like” your Facebook page is an easy way to gain exposure.
  • Map location – If you are encouraging customers to go to a location, include a QR code with a Google Maps location so they can easily find your location.
  • Promotional Products – Put a QR code on promotional/giveaway products to allow your customers to order products, visit your website or email you.  The easier you make it for customers to reach you, the more likely they will be to be repeat customers.
  • Informative videos – Enhance your customers’ knowledge about your product or service by linking a QR code to a YouTube video demonstrating your product or service in action, testimonials or a commercial.
  • Event reminders – Are you planning a grand opening or sale?  Link a QR code to a calendar reminder!

Best Practices
It never hurts to put a short explanation of what the QR code is for, especially if it does more than just take the viewer to a website.  Just a short blurb such as “scan this code with your smartphone to Like us on Facebook” or “use this code to add my vCard to your smartphone” can increase your client’s likelihood of scanning your QR code because they will know exactly what action they will be taking when scanning the code.

QR codes are excellent tools, but overuse can be annoying especially to those without smartphones.  Try limiting your use to just 1 QR code per document or web page.  If you really want to serve multiple purposes with a QR code, direct the QR code to a landing page where viewers can select the action(s) they want to take.  You could offer options such as information links, email sign-up, download your contact information or a link to a social networking site.

When saving QR code files, it’s really helpful to include the code’s purpose in the file name.  For example, you would know qr.emailsally.jpg is a QR code to email Sally or qr.facebooklike.jpg leads to a “Like” on Facebook.  This way you are less likely to confuse your codes.

These are just a few of the ways QR codes can be integrated into marketing.  How do you currently or plan to use QR codes?

Scan this code with your smartphone to email me!