New Twitter Changes Allow you to Express More in 140 Characters

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Coming soon: Twitter announces changes which will allow us to express even more in 140 characters

Over the past decade, the Tweet has evolved from a simple 140-character text message to a rich canvas for creative expression featuring photos, videos, hashtags, Vines, and more.  In the past few months they’ve added the ability to poll your community, react quickly and cleverly with GIFs, and share and enjoy Periscope broadcasts in Tweets.

In the coming months Twitter announced changes to simplify Tweets including what counts toward your 140 characters.  For instance, @names in replies and media attachments (like photos, GIFs, videos, and polls) will no longer “use up” valuable characters. Here’s what will change:

Replies: When replying to a Tweet, @names will no longer count toward the 140-character count.  This will make having conversations on Twitter easier and more straightforward, no more penny-pinching your words to ensure they reach the whole group.

Media attachments: When you add attachments like photos, GIFs, videos, polls, or Quote Tweets, that media will no longer count as characters within your Tweet. More room for words!

Retweet and Quote Tweet yourself: The Retweet button will be enabled on your own Tweets, so you can easily Retweet or Quote Tweet yourself when you want to share a new reflection or feel like a really good one went unnoticed.

Goodbye, .@: These changes will help simplify the rules around Tweets that start with a username. New Tweets that begin with a username will reach all your followers. (That means you’ll no longer have to use the ”.@” convention, which people currently use to broadcast Tweets broadly.)  If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly. If you’re worried that you’ll see all the replies between members of your feed, don’t;  only new tweets that start with the @username will be seen by all followers; any replies after that will still be only seen by those that follow both you and the @username account.  “If you want a reply to be seen by all your followers, you will be able to Retweet it to signal that you intend for it to be viewed more broadly,”  Twitter noted.

Three new ways to make most of your 140 characters on Twitter:

  1. Room to chat: Characters are for conversations, not usernames
  2. Show more: Photos, polls, and more won’t cut into your character count
  3. Say it again: Retweet or quote tweet your tweets and replies

These updates will be available over the coming months.  Twitter announced that in addition to the changes outlined above, they’re exploring ways to make existing uses easier and enable new ones, all without compromising the unique brevity and speed that make Twitter “the best place for live commentary, connections, and conversations.”

Some say these and previous Twitter changes are an attempt from keeping Twitter from ‘dying’. We think Twitter is far from dying. Although it might not be as widely used and popular as Facebook, and growing in popularity like Instagram and Snapchat, Twitter is a tool that connects you directly, and gives you access to people you otherwise might not have the access to. We look forward to seeing how these changes will be implemented and accepted, and how Twitter will continue evolving together with its users.

Source: here and here. Image source here.

Social Media Tips: Get More From Meerkat and Periscope with Katch

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If you love Meerkat and Periscope, but wish both of these apps would offer more functionalities than ‘just’ live streaming, try Katch!
Katch enables you to easily record, permanently archive and automatically publish your broadcasts from either of the apps with one tweet.  

How Katch works:
– Sign into Katch.me and connect it to your Meerkat or Periscope accounts (or both)
– Open your favorite live streaming app
– Add #katch hashtag to your title
– Tap the Twitter icon so Katch can see your stream
– Katch starts recording your stream, including your comments and hearts
– After you end your broadcast, @KatchHQ will send you a link on Twitter
– Tap on the link to view your replay
– You can play, fast forward and rewind your video
– You can also view and scroll through all your comments
– All your broadcasts are stored permanently in the cloud.

Katch is a free app, sign up for it at www.katch.me.

If you need help with your live video marketing or social media marketing strategy, email us at info@LA76.com. We’d be glad to be of help!

Pinterest Marketing Infographic

30 reasons why Pinterest will rule Social Media in 2014

Half of the year has already passed, and if you are not using Pinterest for your business yet, you are missing out.  But why should I use it?  This Pinterest marketing infographic shows 30 reasons, among them:
– 70 million users worldwide
– out of 20 million active users worldwide, 79% are from the US
– there are 2.5 billion monthly pageviews
– Pinterest attracts 1,090 visitors per minute
– International traffic in 2013 has grown 125%
– Pinterest user stays on the site for 15.8 minutes

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Source: Omnicore

How to Boost Your LinkedIn Connections

Facebook and Twitter might be the most commonly used social media platforms, but when it comes to professional networking, LinkedIn is the uncontested champion.  The site’s more than 260 million members tend to leave the funny cat videos and goofy eCards to other, more informal sites, preferring to focus on expanding their professional networks and building their brands.

In fact, a 2013 survey by the Wall Street Journal found that over forty percent of small businesses regard LinkedIn as having the most potential for helping their business grow.  And a study conducted in 2012 by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research, found that 81% of Inc. 500 companies used LinkedIn for social media, as compared to 74% and 64% for Facebook and Twitter, respectively.

Clearly, LinkedIn has plenty of opportunities available, and no matter how many connections you already have, it’s easier than you might think to grow your network.

One of the easiest ways to stand out on LinkedIn is simply to be active.  Nearly half of the site’s members spend two hours or fewer on the site each week.  So simply interacting with other users is a great way to let them know that you’re invested in the site and ready to connect.  Sending at least one invitation to connect each day takes only a moment, but can have a big impact, provided you reach out to someone who’s likely to share your interest in building a professional relationship. (And your invitation is in the proper format.)

Sharing useful, high-quality content is another way to encourage interactions.  LinkedIn began opening its content publishing platform, formerly limited to experts known as Influencers, to all users in early 2014. Publishing original content—including presentations, images, articles, etc.—is a fantastic opportunity to build your authority and interact with your audience.

Making the most of LinkedIn connections for your business doesn’t have to be a chore. By taking the time to review your options, seek out those likely to be interested in, and benefit from, a new relationship, taking advantage of tools like groups and content publishing, and staying active in discussions, you can start to expand your professional network and grow your business.

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Information and Infographic via WhoIsHostingThis.

7 Pinterest Tools to Improve Your Blog Traffic

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If at first glance Pinterest seemed only a pastime where you can collect recipes and ideas for house decoration, Pinterest proved to be so much more than that.

In the past year while doing monthly reports for my clients, Pinterest never failed to prove that it is the strongest referral source, in many cases even stronger than Google!  According to Shareaholic, this visual social network draws more referral traffic than YouTube, Google, LinkedIn and Reddit combined.

With that in mind, if you are not doing so already, consider including Pinterest in your social media strategy in 2014!

Here are 6 Pinterest tools and plug-ins to get more value out of your pins.  Add these to your blog to optimize it for great traffic results.  Besides those, don’t forget to pin beautiful photos / interesting images!

1. Feature Rich Pins

Enabling easy pinning from your website or blog is crucial to enhance your Pinterest reach.
Pinterest offers five different types of “rich pins” on your blog that will make your content pop.

– Try product pins for your online shop.
– Try recipe pins for the food blog.
– Travel related businesses should consider pinning their pins to the map.
– Bloggers devoted to feature articles or news stories should check out article pins.  The resulting content has a bold headline, site logo, and relevant clip, all serving to draw readers to click on the pin.

To enable rich pins, go to rich pins and click the “Get started!” button at the bottom of the page. Follow the step-by-step directions that result, and, once it’s approved, your blog’s content will be a touch more impressive.

2. Pin it button for images

Add this handy little Pinterest plug-in (Pin it button for images) to your site to make it easy for your visitors to pin your content to Pinterest.

Don’t add the plugin if the hover-over pin button would conflicts with other pop-ups or features on your page.  If adding the button makes your site too cluttered, it might just get lost in the confusion; in that case, it’d be better to leave it out.

3. ‘Pin it on Pinterest’ button

Another way to encourage pinning is to add a “pin it” button to the bottom of your posts.

With the Pin It On Pinterest button, you not only get a clear “pin it” button at the end of every blog post, but you also get the opportunity to customize what the resulting pins will say.

Right within your dashboard, you can create a custom description for the picture the button will pin.  Though there’s no obvious downside to the “pin it” post footer button, it still should be used strategically.  Think first before making it yet another of the many “pin it” buttons everywhere on your site.  You don’t want to annoy your readers. Choose which locations will draw the most attention, and focus your Pinterest buttons there.

Alternative: For our website and lifestyle blog I use Really Simple Facebook Twitter Share Button, which shows Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other popular share buttons within one setting – that way I don’t need to install several different plugins to enable my readers to share the content on their favorite website.  The plugin offers easy customization in the Settings menu.

4. Pinterest Widget

Want to point your blog readers to your Pinterest page to increase your followers? Get the Pinterest badge widget plug-in.  This helpful plug-in adds a widget to your site that links visitors to your Pinterest profile, shows off your most recent pins, and displays your follower count.

The Pinterest badge tool is definitely a bigger and more obvious way to promote your Pinterest profile—which for some bloggers might be overkill.  This widget is best used when you are focusing on pumping up your Pinterest following.

5. Pinterest Follow Button

Another way to point readers to your Pinterest profile is with a simple button. The Pinterest Follow Button plug-in offers various styles, from a red “Follow Me on Pinterest” button to a white square icon with the Pinterest logo.

Add the plug-in to your WordPress blog, and customize it to your tastes.  Most bloggers have social media buttons on their sites, so the Pinterest button is nothing new; what’s more, it’s not that difficult to install, even without a plug-in.  Nonetheless, adding it with this plug-in makes it especially easy.

Note: if you don’t want to focus only on Pinterest, but would like to promote sharing on other social media channels as well, see my note “Alternative” in point 3.

6. Pretty Pinterest Pins

People react to the visual content in astonishing 80%, so work that to your advantage.  If you are a blogger that wants to heavily promote your Pinterest profile, with Pretty Pinterest Pin you can display your two or three most recent beautiful pins in your sidebar?

The Pretty Pinterest Pin widget automatically creates large, eye-catching clips of your pins to display on your blog. However, since the badge can seem large and a bit flashy, some bloggers might not want to use it.

7. Use Canva to Create Beautiful Pins

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Canva is a simple, drag-and-drop, design software that’s completely online (I also love their iPad app!) and free to use.  Canva’s own library is home to hundreds of awesome and professionally designed social media templates created by their team of designers.  Canva social media templates can be used on not only on Pinterest, but on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube and Instagram as well.

What we love about Canva is that they already have predetermined optimal sized for each network; so you just click on the social media network that you’d like to create an image for, and they’ll offer you plenty of templates, where you can add the text, add your own image or use any from their library (they have free and for purchase images available). Check them out, I’m sure you’ll find it a very useful resource. (Featured image of this post was also created with Canva).

Do you use Pinterest and promote it’s usage from your website or blog?  What are your favorite tools or methods?  I’d love to learn about them in the comments below.

I got inspired to do this post after seeing the Shanna Mallon’s post on PR Daily, and especially because of the results we are achieving with the Pinterest traffic we are achieving for our clients. Photo source here.

Location Marketing: Foursquare Introduces Ads for Small Businesses

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Foursquare Ads are a new kind of advertising made just for local businesses, which Foursquare introduced on October 14, 2013.  With this new offer, Foursquares offers to connect local businesses with the people nearby that are most likely to become customers.  I see them as a very useful location marketing tool for businesses like restaurants, boutiques or stores and places that want lots of walk-in traffic.

Senior Social Media Manager Caitlin Bergmann from Century 21 department stores, who have already tried Foursquare Ads said: “With Foursquare we are able to track how the ad was doing. Plus, we saw that people physically went into the store. With paid social ads in the past, I thought people saw it. It’s much better to tell a client that this person entered their store.”  See more success stories of businesses who have already used Foursquare Ads here.

foursquare-ads-dashHow Foursquare Ads work?

– Pay for actions. You only pay if someone acts on your ad – either by tapping to see your business details or by checking in at your business.
Reach people ready to buy. Make sure they visit you, not your competition — 78% of people who search locally on their phone make a purchase. (source: comScore local search usage study, 2013)
Attract customers that should be yours. Ads are shown to people nearby who are searching for something related or have been to similar places.

How do you create Foursquare Ads?

Creating a Foursquare ad is simple.  All you need to do is go to foursquare.com/ads and build your ad – by choosing a great photo of your business and either offering a special or highlighting a great customer tip.  Then you set your monthly budget and push your ad live for people nearby to see.

After your ad has gone live, you can monitor how many people have viewed it, how many have tapped on it, and how many actually came into your store.  With Foursquare Ads you know what you are paying for – real actions and real customers.

Who will see your Foursquare Ads?

Foursquare Ads targets people based on two criteria: whether a person is near your business, and if they are likely to become a customer.  They base their judgment on the likeliness of a person to become a customer based on where they’ve checked in previously (for instance, at similar places in another part of town) or because they’re searching for something related to your business (for instance, ‘pizza’ if you’re a pizza parlor).

Where will your Foursquare Ad appear?

When someone opens Foursquare on their phone, they might see an ad when they search for a specific place to go, or on the first screen if Foursquare knows they frequent similar businesses.  They will never show an ad to someone who is already at your business.

Short 36 second video where Foursquare describes how Foursquare ads work.

If you would like to implement Foursquare Ads for your business, and would like help with it, you can contact me by leaving a comment on this blog post, or by sending me an email here.

Instagram Video vs Vine: Which Mobile Video App to Use?

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Image via Techcrunch.

Shortly after Twitter launched their mobile video service Vine, Instagram introduced their Instagram Video.  While clients often ask me what is better, if they should use one, the other, or both, the answer, in short, could be: depends.  It all depends on what you want to achieve, what kind of short videos are you (or your social media manager) able to do, and on the social media strategy that you already have in place.

Here are some of the differentiators between both, Instagram Video and Vine, which might help you decide on which video app functionality to use:

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Image source: Techcrunch. Since they published the article Instagram enabled video embed and importing functionality, that’s why we corrected it with YES.

What I like about Instagram is that with 15 seconds you can create slightly longer videos, that you can add filters (although I realized that I hardly use them) and that you can import the video from your phone stream (it doesn’t have to be taken at the moment).

I think importing videos functionality has its pros and cons.  I like the importing function because sometimes it just feels better / easier to record the video with your phone’s camera.  I often take videos at the ocean and with the wind blowing too hard, the beautiful scenery becomes difficult to watch with the scratching sound of the wind – in such cases I find it useful to be able to correct the sound on my computer, and then upload to Instagram.  It would be very useful if Instagram adds a sound editor function as well.  On this point I like Viddy and Videolicious apps where you can add music to your videos from the app itself. With importing video functionality I wouldn’t like to see on my Instagram feed a flood of videos done professionally, and then uploaded to Instagram.

What I like about Vine best is its looping functionality, which can turn a 6 sec video into an endless stream of let’s say waves at the beach, sunset, fashion defile and so on. I also like it because of the creativity it encourages.  Many brands have embraced Vine with stunning, creative and fun videos, which I believe brings them closer to a new audience.

For example, Burberry, a 156 year old global fashion brand, has fully embraced Vine as part of its social media strategy, using the platform to showcase the runway show from AW13 London Fashion Week show:

LA76 Strategic Design’s Creative Director @MADianito has Vine as well, and I love how creative and fun is this post:

Which mobile video app are you using, Instagram or Vine? How do you use it? Which functionalities you like best? I look forward to hearing your comments or questions below.

Social Media Marketing Tip: Following Up with Reading On The Go

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One of my favorite recent discoveries is SoundGecko App, which will, in just a few seconds, turn your favorite websites, blogs and articles on your reading list, documents and more into audio, which you can listen on the go; in your car, while walking your dog (that’s what I do), laying at the beach, vacationing at your favorite resort, in the gym, on the plane and anywhere else.

If you are worried that you would have to listen to a robot reading the documents  – don’t. It almost sounds like having the documents read live by your friend or colleague. It’s that good!

The new version of SoudGecko has a new set of “stations” that will serve you content based on your interests, push notifications when an article is ready for listening, a speed boost, and the ability to add articles right from the SoundGecko app itself.

Get SoundGecko for iTunes (there is a Free and Pro version), Android, and Windows iPhone.

What is your new favorite app or tool that keeps you more efficient and productive? I’d love to hear about it in the comment below.