It’s 2018. Why does your business not have a website yet? Or, it’s 2018, this is the year you start that business and get it off the ground! And for that, you’ll also need a website. You see, your website is the hub of your brand. Yes, some people get Instagram famous or create a brand that lives entirely on one social media platform, but by and large, nearly every business has a website and/or a blog to contain relevant information and additional monetization techniques. If you’re just getting into the digital game, you absolutely must have a website. And I highly highly suggest you start with WordPress. [Read more…]
As influencers grow their audiences and photographers showcase their talents on Instagram, stolen pictures are growing at an increasing rate. Just like a company defending a patent, brand managers, and those managing their personal brands, need to defend their own intellectual property from being stolen and copycats.
Reporting stolen photos on Instagram
A previous client added a picture to her Instagram story last night calling out an influential Instagram account that simply steals pictures from prominent outdoor photographers and influencers and then posts them as their own.
As she found out, reporting the account or reporting the picture as SPAM doesn’t actually remove the picture, and since the account is not behaving as SPAM, flagging it probably won’t do anything to shut them down.
What you need to do is file an Intellectual Property Theft claim with Instagram. I’ve had to do this several times myself recently.
Getting to this form is pretty tedious and unless you know where to look; I’m not sure how anyone would ever find it. And why Instagram doesn’t make this feature as easy as “reporting an account as Spam,” I have no idea.
The form is extremely self explanatory and easy to fill out. You just need to provide some contact information, a link to the stolen picture, and a link to your original picture.
The Account Stealing Pictures
As for the unethical account in question, I hate to give them any traffic or free publicity, but if you’re an outdoor photographer or influencer in the outdoor space, you might want to take a look and make sure none of your pictures are on there.
Until there’s a way to easily report stolen pictures or report an entire account like this one (which there’s not), this problem won’t go away. All you can do is defend your brand or the brand you represent.
Once again, the form to remove your stolen picture on Instagram is here:
I’ve been in Influencer Marketing before Influencer Marketing existed. It started in 2012 when I became a grassroots marketing “experiment” with outdoor brand Arc’Teryx. I was given an allowance I could use for the purchase of any of their gear. In return, I would tell my story using their gear on my blog and social media network.
Shortly after that, I was accepted into Evolv’s climbing team, followed by long-term relationships with Columbia Sportswear, Discrete Clothing, Pret Helmets, Mountain Standard, and more than several “one-off” partnerships with other brands.
Influencer marketing has come a long way since 2012. Back then, “we” were happy to get the gear and associate our personal brands with upper echelon brands in the industry.
Then things started to change. Influencers started demanding reimbursement beyond free product. Brands needed to start developing separate budgets to attract influential…..influencers. And my personal theory is that the brands themselves are in part to blame.
Why it all got so expensive
Before I, and many many many many others, started negotiating monetary compensation for access to our web traffic and social media spheres, a typical negotiation would go something like this:
Brand: Hi, David! You look like the perfect candidate to join our ambassador/athlete/influencer network. We’d like to give you “XX” amount of product for you to use and tell everyone about how well it performs. If you hit any snags, let us know if we can fix them before you post about it.
Me: Hi, Brand! Wow, I’m so honored you discovered me and think I could help you. I’d love, love, love to tell your story. Besides free gear, will you be helping me cross promote my content? You have many many followers, and I’m just starting out. If you help me get more followers, then more people will see and share my content. Which of course spreads your word even faster!
Brand: Absolutely! We’d love to feature your work on our channels. Just send us the links and the content and we’ll be sure to post them at relevant times.
After blog posts and months of social media tags and mentions….brands FAIL to follow through with their end of the deal. In most cases, just trying to contact them ends up in silence.
That experience is not of my own. I’m well connected in the blogging, writing, and influencer sphere’s and this is/was a VERY typical relationship. For the cost of a t-shirt, or maybe a $150 item, the brand was getting tons of targeted and qualified leads sent their way, and “we” rarely even got a follower from them in return.
Pay for play
It was at this point when bloggers and influencers started realizing their own value. This is when we started realizing that $100 in product was actually worth a couple thousand to the brand. So, if compensation wasn’t going to come in the form of exposure and mutual support to build our personal brands, it seemed like money was the natural point of negotiation. The bigger the influence, the more the brand would have to pay.
This is a lose-win relationship
And the brand is the loser.
An influencer is just that. Someone that has a large digital presence. And now it’s someone that’s demanding, sometimes steep, compensation for access to their network. There’s no authenticity in that. How likely are their followers to click through and support your brand if you’re promoting on an irrelevant channel? For example, asking me to review traditional home goods. My followers follow me because of the outdoors and VanLife…not Saran Wrap.
You’ve just paid an influencer in real money (which is a lot more expensive that free-product-money) for little to no ROI unless they’re already positioned to fit your niche.
Asking too much for too little
Now that influencers know their worth, it seems unlikely that you’ll attract high quality ambassadors by asking them to join your program and then:
- Not even giving them a free starter package
- Forcing them to pay for your products so they can endorse them (albeit at supposed wholesale prices)
- Demand professional grade pictures, blog posts, and content for your use wherever you see fit (hint to influencers: website content should be paid out at higher rates that social media content)
- Not even credit them when someone complies
Certainly you’ll get people to apply to your program. Certainly you’ll get a few people that won’t realize they’re being taken advantage of. But absolutely, this is not a sustainable model for attracting the right kind of content and influence marketing you’re looking for.
How to run a kickass ambassador program in today’s environment
We can’t change the past, but brands can, and SHOULD, learn how to optimize within the current environment (and hopefully improve it).
BIG GIANT PRO TIP TO BRANDS READING THIS: It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money!!
As my friend, and social media marketing GENIUS, Adam Buchanan calls it, you want Advocate Marketing.
Advocates are people that are already using and advocating your brand. These are your true fans. These are the people talking about you without you asking them to talk about you. An influencer nowadays is nothing more than paid advertisement in disguise (and Google and Facebook are cracking down on this).
The Influencer vs. Advocate psychology
This is important because you need to know what drives these two very different types of people. And the same person can actually be both things.
Not to sound shallow, but influencers are kind of, more or less, in not so many words, after social media fame and money. I’ve heard unconfirmed but close-to-the-source rumors of some influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers demanding 5-figure compensation just for 5 Instagram pictures and mentions.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, an advocate is absolutely just tickled pink that their favorite brand has recognized them and reached out to them with a personal message. You can get away with sending them some free product and testing the waters to gauge your ROI at first because if you send them free product, they WILL talk about it.
If you decide to move forward by welcoming them into your family, you absolutely cannot abandon them after your first and one-time partnership (I call this the honeymoon phase).
Fostering a long-term relationship and creating an army of #1 fans
It’s so easy.
Firstly, outline your program and stick to it. If you tell your ambassadors you’re going to promote their content, promote their content! Rarely do I see brands do this once the 2-week honeymoon phase is over. Then go above and beyond. Don’t just promote the content that directly mentions your brand, promote ALLLL of their content when it compliments your brand’s message. This not only builds the relationship with your ambassador and hugely grows their personal brands, but it also shows your fans that your official brand accounts aren’t just another machine for selling product.
Secondly, I believe in compensating your advocates as well. This means having an open door policy for individuals to approach you with ideas and projects outside the general outlines you’ve defined above. And when you have a mix of ambassadors (some with 10’s of thousands of followers and some with only a hundred), do not, I repeat, DO NOT tell the one with a hundred followers “there’s no budget” but then fund a similar project with the ambassador that has the 10’s of thousands 2 weeks later. Not only have you just said that “we only care about the number of likes and followers you have,” but you’ve just lost an advocate too. All you had to say was,
“We think it’s a great project and we love the message you send to people, however the cost to us is much greater than the return we would get from your exposure. Let’s work together on some smaller projects, build your followers, and then we can look at bigger projects in the future. Sound good? Here are some ideas for you to think about…”
Thirdly and lastly, make sure you have time to do the first two things properly. When you do this correctly and have an army of rabid advocates just waiting to pitch you on their next big idea, you’re going to be pulled in a million different directions.
You’re going to have to schedule their posts along with your posts. You’re going to have to determine which content should go on which platform (they are not all the same). You’re going to have to do budget analysis. You’re going to be updating their information. You’re going to be sending gear. You’re going to be strategizing which direction to steer your advocates.
“Being an Advocate/Influencer/Athlete/Ambassador Manager is a full-time job.”
I’ve been a part of programs where the manager was also asked to other things within the company. When that happens, they can’t focus on managing the ambassadors. When you don’t manage the ambassadors, you lose them. When you lose them, you have to start over or pay more (in some way) to get them back.
So if you have no plans to hire a full-time manager, I highly suggest that you either don’t create an influencer program that does more harm than good (influencers talk, you get a bad rep, no one wants to work with you — trust me!) OR only take on as many influencers as you can handle while juggling your other responsibilities.
Playing on both sides of the fence
As you’ve seen, I have been, and currently am, in several different influencer programs. Each brand has had its learning curves, growing pains, and mistakes, but if I’m currently representing them, it’s because they’ve done enough to keep me happy (and vice versa).
Because of my involvement and experience with influencer marketing since its accidental inception, I’m positioned to help you manage your program, get it started (do you know where your biggest advocates live? Tip: you already have access to them), or right a sinking ship.
I’ve done this with a former freelance client and created an advocate network with no budget simply by taking the time to get to know the influencers I reached out to and understand what drives them and their personal brand goals. Since then, I’ve not worked with the client, but I still see those same advocates posting about that brand with no reimbursement of any kind in return.
If it sounds like you could use my help, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.
I found myself getting stressed out by seeing things I didn’t want to see on my Facebook timeline for a myriad of reasons. That statement alone is pretty sad if you think about it (Getting stressed out by Facebook? Do I not have a life??), but rather than doing a deep psychological dive, I’ll just tell you about the two things I do on a regular basis to avoid getting stressed out over a ridiculous thing like Facebook.
Unfollow but don’t Unfriend
Getting annoyed with the same person complaining about their relationship problems? Do you know more about others’ kids than your own? Sick and tired of seeing someone constantly posting about living in a van? But at the same time, terrified they might get mad at you if they found out you unfriended them? There’s a solution. Just unfollow them.
On Your Computer
As you’re scrolling by the post you don’t like in your timeline, click on the upper right-hand arrow. Then Unfollow XXX.
Go to the person’s profile that you’re going to unfollow. To the right of their profile picture (but still on their cover photo) is a button that says Following. Click it.
A drop-down box appears. Click on Unfollow.
On Your Mobile App
Same deal as on your computer. As you scroll past, click the arrow in the upper right-hand of the post and then tap Unfollow XXX.
Go to the person’s profile. Under their profile picture, you’ll see Friend, Following, Activity Log, and More.
Tap on Following. Tap on Unfollow.
Turn Off Notifications
I follow a lot of social media celebrities. That means if I leave one comment, I’m going to be bombarded with notifications by the next 32 people that comment. Likewise, if I just want to be sarcastic on someone’s mundane Going to the Grocery Store status, I don’t want to be notified about the 3 people that actually care and reply with, “Me too!” Sometimes I’ll leave a comment and immediately turn off notifications because I know nothing good will come after my masterpiece has been left. It’s the equivalent of leaving a flaming bag of dog poop on someone’s doorstep and running away.
On Your Computer
Leave your flaming pile of poop from your timeline, and then immediately turn off notifications. Go back up to that friendly drop down menu in the right-hand corner. Click it; then click Turn off notifications for this post.
If you forget to turn them off right away, or if you intentionally left them on but then the comments get dumb, you can also go directly to that post from your notification center and follow the same steps.
On Your Mobile App
Same story. You can turn off notifications directly from the timeline or go back after you get a few notifications. Same arrow on the post but an ever so slightly different looking dropdown menu. Either way, tap Turn off notifications for this post.
Now with those things out of the way, you can find something else to be mad about. Like red Starbucks cups.
What is Hootsuite?
Hootsuite is the industry leader in social media management tools that claims to simplify the way you manage multiple accounts across multiple platforms and increase efficiency.
It allows you to schedule posts across those platforms for times in the future. That’s incredibly beneficial to a social media manager for several reasons:
- You can spend one day or just a couple hours scheduling posts for an entire week. Then you’re done!
- It appears as though your brand is active, even when you’re sitting by the pool.
- You can schedule things for when you’re sleeping or you can schedule them for targeted peak hours for maximum exposure, reach, click-through, and/or interaction.
I am currently on the 30-day free trial of the “Pro” package and after using it for a week, this is what I’ve already learned.
What Platforms are Supported by Hootsuite?
Natively, Hootsuite will integrate with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and WordPress. The latter two out of the three are arguably negligible in terms of marketing anyways.
What this means is that you can directly link your accounts on those platforms to your Hootsuite dashboard simply by signing in and granting Hootsuite access to those profiles. Hooray for easy!
Platforms Supported through Apps
The big ones that we’re all concerned with, especially given that Twitter has never been a good revenue generating platform and Facebook is on the decline unless you have major money to spend on ads, are Instagram and Pinterest.
Instagram has been growing steadily as a traffic driver for the past couple of years, and Pinterest is the new hotspot for e-commerce marketing. People are seeing ungodly ROI during its infancy.
These are still pretty easy to connect to your Hootsuite Dashboard, but you have to download middlemen apps. That is, Hootsuite developers have not yet found a way to connect their API directly with Instagram’s and Pinterest’s API like they have with Facebook, Twitter, etc.
But somehow, these 3rd party apps can talk to both. It’s like this:
Instagram talks to the app, and then the app relays the message to Hootsuite. And when you want to reply or post something to Instagram from Hootsuite, Hootsuite talks to the app, and then the app talks to Instagram.
Basically, the app is the friend that’s caught in the middle of an awkward situation when the two other best friends decide to stop talking to each other but still need to communicate.
What I Really Like about Hootsuite
My dashboard currently has two tabs with 9 streams total.
By no means is that impressive. Nor am I a 100% devoted social media manager. Regardless…
Every Account in One Browser Tab
I think a reasonable assumption is that a successful social media manager could have up to 10 accounts and span AT LEAST 4 platforms each. Do you know how annoying it is to have that many tabs open on your web browser? Super annoying.
Even with my measly nine, the amount of time Hootsuite saves me from having to constantly click through my open tabs for each platform is really nice.
Logging In and Out (repeat x Infinity)
The biggest time saver is no longer having to log out and then log back in when switching between personal accounts and clients’ on the same platform. To do that for one platform sure, especially if it’s one you can kind of post once or twice a day and then forget about it. But for 2-6 platforms across however many accounts you manage? Naaaaaahhhhhhhh!!
This is also really nice, especially with limits that far surpass how much I’d actually want to post on any given platform for any given account in a day anyways.
When I know I’m going to be busy all day and can’t really focus my attention on Social Media, I’ll queue up some posts so they go out later and make sure my pages are still delivering content to our communities. It’s also really helpful since I’m on a 12 hour time difference with my target audiences in the U.S. and am usually sleeping when they’re awake and clamoring about on social media.
Why Hootsuite still isn’t Worth $10/month
The streams you can add to your Hootsuite tab, for each account you manage, are:
- Posts to page
- My posts
From this list, before figuring out what each of them mean, the one’s you’re likely interested in are:
- Posts to page*
* = This is might only be mildly important if you’re managing a huge page with a ton of interaction. For most of the people I know in this biz (for others and for themselves), posts to their pages are rare and easily dealt with on a one-by-one basis.
Timeline and Activity
You might initially think, “YAY TIMELINE!” But no, you’re wrong.
We are used to timeline meaning newsfeed. That is, the stories of other people and pages we follow. In Hootsuite speak, Timeline = your own timeline, the things you post for other people to see.
There is virtually no difference between Timeline stream and the My Posts stream. Useless.
Ok, what about Activity?
You want to think that it’s all the different likes and comments you’re used to seeing in your notification center on actual Facebook. But no, you’re wrong.
Activity in this case is the stream that tells you that you’ve posted on your own wall. Or I guess probably if someone else has posted on your wall (then why do they have Posts to page???). It also shows comments on posts, but not every comment and not replies to comments. For that, you still have to go to Facebook.
Mentioning People and Pages in Your Posts
Yeah, you can’t do that. At all. Which means if you want to, you have to go back to Facebook.
And scheduling a post that mentions someone? Get outta here.
Oh, you want to know who just ‘liked’ your post? No. Go back to Facebook.
Oh, you want to know who just ‘liked’ your page? No. Go back to Facebook.
Oh, you actually want to interact and see what the other people and pages you follow are posting? No. Go back to Facebook.
Oh, you want to mention someone in a post, now or later? No. Go back to Facebook.
Wait, why am I even bothering with Hootsuite for Facebook at all??
It’s actually pretty good with Twitter, but Twitter has a pretty simple interface to begin with. Even still, there’s a thing that make me question its value.
If I want to mention someone out of the blue, as opposed to replying to their tweet, and start typing @LowGravity… it may or may not auto-fill the username. Even if you’ve been following that person for years.
It’s not a big deal if you remember the username of every single person you follow, but what if something @RandomPerson238 said last week came up again and you can’t remember their name to continue the conversation? You know it started with a Ra, but that’s it. So you start entering @Ra… and nothing. Nothing pops up. Great. Now how the hell are you supposed to chat with this person?
Oh! I know! Go back to Twitter and do the same thing. Then the name WILL auto-fill.
Again, the integration here is pretty good except for the fact that you first need to install a 3rd party middleman.
Instagram’s API doesn’t allow any program or any app to post on your behalf. No matter what, you always have to go back to the Instagram app to post a photo. Which kind of sucks if you only have one phone for 4 accounts (or even just 2).
But with Hootsuite, at least you can still like and comment on the pictures of the people you follow. It displays the true timeline of people you’re following as opposed to the nothingness of Facebook.
The only TRUE downside here is that you can’t see who likes your photos or get notified if someone comments. Once again, go back to Instagram.
Like Facebook, I can’t see a real good reason to even use Hootsuite for Pinterest.
Firstly, you must once again download a 3rd party app. And so far, the only one worth anything only allows a 30-day trial for one account before charging $10/month. If you want to manage more than one account, get ready to pony up $120 PER YEAR PER ADDITIONAL ACCOUNT. Gtfo.
And then, you still can’t see a timeline once you’ve integrated it with Hootsuite. You can only see the pins that you’ve pinned to your boards. And yeah, you can see how many re-pins and likes you’ve gotten, but you can’t see who did it.
Know how you have to do all of those things? Go back to Pinterest.
The One Caveat that Makes it Still Worth It
Despite still not having a one-stop solution, still having to use multiple tools and potentially pay for more than one, and still having to go back to the native sites repeatedly (read: login, logout x infinity), the one thing that still makes this software worth the $10 is if you manage a sizable amount of accounts.
I said that early in the beginning, and for $10/month, it might be worth it.
If you’ve got 10 clients with 4 social media platforms, just having all of them in one tab of your browser and not having to do all the searching, switching, and logging in and out is still a huge time saver.
For a small guy like me, where $10 is 2 days worth of living expenses in Thailand and only 2 real accounts to worry about, it’s just not worth it.
It’s been 5 years since I joined the Twitter revolution in May 2009.
Shortly after I joined, I made what I thought was a very obvious observation. As it turns out, social media professionals that manage accounts for very large corporations are still making the same mistake 5 years later.
I got into online arguments with so-called superusers with 10’s of thousands of followers, and they were absolutely certain they knew what they were doing.
Then Sara Lingafelter came to my rescue three years later. Well, indirectly. She tried to get the word out too and has a much more successful blog and social media presence. I thought perhaps people would listen to her. (Sorry, I can’t find the exact post right now. I’ll keep looking.)
So what is this mistake that makes me cringe every time I see it?
Biggest Twitter Mistake
Whether you’re an everyday user, superuser, or social media professional, you need to know the difference between a public mention and a direct reply. NOT a Direct Message (or generically, ‘private message’), but a direct reply.
Let’s say your Twitter name is Bill (@Bill) and you are following your friend Margo (@Margo). Margo is also following you. (Following back)
Let’s say Margo tweets: Hey, everyone, what should I eat for lunch?
Being that she’s your friend, you want to suggest that she has rocky mountain oysters for lunch. So you want to send a direct reply to her that says:
@Margo Have you tried rocky mountain oysters?? You should get them with buffalo sauce!
I think we all get that.
The confusion comes in when you want to mention someone but then start the tweet with that person’s name. Let’s go back to Margo’s question…
The Correct Way to Retweet or Mention Someone
Once again, because Margo is your friend, you want to help her gather as many opinions as possible. One way of doing this would be retweeting her. That can either look like this:
RT @Margo: Hey, everyone, what should I eat for lunch?
“@Margo: Hey, everyone, what should I eat for lunch?”
or you can just hit the ‘retweet’ button on your chosen Twitter interface.
Either way accomplishes the same thing — Margo’s tweet has been broadcast all of your followers.
Another way of gathering opinions for Margo is by getting creative.
Hey, everyone, @Margo is wondering what she should have for lunch. Any ideas for her?
Once again, all of your followers will see that Margo is asking for lunch suggestions.
The Retweet and Mention Mistake
The incorrect way to mention someone when trying to broadcast to ALL your followers is by starting the tweet with Margo’s name.
WRONG WAY GOUGE MY EYES OUT: @Margo wants lunch suggestions. What should she have?
So why is this wrong?
This is wrong because there are no characters in front of the ‘@‘ symbol. In this scenario, only your mutual followers will see the tweet. That is, only the people that follow both you AND Margo will see the tweet. If your follower is not also following Margo, it will never show up on their timeline.
On all the examples for Correct mentions and retweets, there is at least one character in front of the ‘@‘ symbol. It can be the quotation mark, a period, a hyphen, and emoji….anything. Your tweet just cannot start with @. Once you start a tweet with ‘@‘, only mutual followers will see that tweet.
What’s a Mutual Follower?
A mutual follower is a follower that follows both you and Margo. A venn diagram explains this masterfully.
So to beat a dead horse, if your tweet starts with ‘@‘, only the people in that intersecting area of the diagram will see your tweet. If you truly want ALL of your followers to see a tweet, it must start with some character other than ‘@‘.
This goes for creative retweets or if you want to call someone out (for good reasons….or not).
Social media and Twitter is ever-changing so I’m not saying it will be this way forever. However, it’s been this way for over 5 years and people are still making the mistake. Don’t be them. Be better.
For more social media tips sign-up for my free e-book, Don’t be a Social Dumbhead, below.