3 Simple Steps to Up Your Insta Game

Aquicon-InstagramOf all the social media channels, Instagram is hands down my favorite. I’ve used it personally since 2012 and it’s been my go-to app since. This is probably because photos make me really happy- but it’s also a great marketing tool that our clients are starting to add into the mix. Below are three of my Instagram 101 tips to start your account off on the right foot.

1. Take great photos: This may sound like a no-brainer- but it’s crucial! Whether you’re using a professional camera or simply using your phone, picking a great backdrop that’s clean and visually appealing will go a long way. And if you don’t know what type of photos you should take, spend some time thinking about your audience on Instagram and what your brand should look like in photos. What would your audience want to see? Once you have that squared away, you can start taking photos that will resonate with your audience.

2. Use hashtags to your advantage: Hashtags will be your new best friend, but only if you use them appropriately. One thing I’m telling you to NOT do is randomly hashtag words that will provide you with little return. #Some #words #should #never #be #hashtags. Get my drift? Instead, do your research like you would for any other client account. While you’re searching for the most-used hashtags, make sure you check the related hashtags as well. You never know what hashtags you aren’t thinking of!

Tip: For the hashtags you use on a regular basis, make a note in you phone and simply copy and paste them into the first comment under your photo. Not only will the note trick save you time, but putting the list of hashtags in the first comment will make your feed look more clean and will be hidden after you receive several comments!

3. Be social!: Like any social network, don’t just post your own content– engage with others! I try to comment on at least 5-10 photos a day. This will help you build your following and allows you to connect with other accounts that are similar to yours. Also, take the time to respond if one of your followers comments on your photo.

With these three tips, you’ll be an Instagram expert in no time!

Social Media Tips in Time for the Holidays

With the holiday season well underway, social media becomes the vehicle for displaying holiday spirit. In a perfect world, there would be enough social content to avoid cross posting on social networks, however, more often than not my content cache leaves a lot to be desired. Posting the same image across social networks doesn’t always have to result in criticism and unfollows, if you tailor your post to the platform accordingly.

Like many dog moms during the holidays, I took Guinness to get his picture taken with Santa and wanted to share the experience with my friends and family online. Even though engagement metrics only serve as bragging rights on most personal social accounts, I still wanted to practice what I preach as a digital marketer, while posting the same image to three different mediums. To maximize your online efforts, it’s important to adapt your post to the medium. While similar in some respects, each social medium utilizes different features that enhance the platform appropriately.

The biggest criticism of cross posting between networks is the lazy impression it gives to your audience. It’s important to tailor your message to the appropriate channel to not only demonstrate you’re making the effort, but also to prevent using inappropriate jargon on the wrong medium. You wouldn’t tweet a full-length PR story 140 characters at a time or use “favorite” and “retweet” jargon on Facebook, so do not share your content to inapplicable mediums. Instead, speak to the network’s inherent purpose and adapt your content to the proper medium.

So how do you adapt one image to three social platforms?


Facebook: At first Guinness was clearly a little apprehensive about meeting a big, bearded man in a red suit (can’t image why), but he eventually warmed up to the holiday spirit. Merry Christmas, family and friends!

Twitter: Meeting Santa for the first time: the genuine photo vs. the Christmas card. #HappyHolidays #Christmas2015

Instagram: #MRW meeting a complete stranger in a big, red suit…until that stranger bribes me with dog treats and squeaky toys. #Christmas2015 #DogsofInstagram

As you can see, the same message was executed three different ways, based on the platform the image was posted to. Posting your image on different social channels increases the reach of your post and adapting the execution of the image to the channel, increases the likelihood of better post engagement. As much as I love my dog, I’m aware that no one wants to see the same image of Guinness with the same post copy three different times. Switch it up and get creative!

Happy holiday posting everyone!

Chatbooks- My Latest Obsession

Chatbooks-White-and-Green-400x246Do you love taking photos and sharing them on Instagram? If you follow me, you know that I post at least once a day, if not more! And with all of the social media platforms available today, I can honestly say that Instagram is my app of choice.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a really awesome app called Chatbooks. Chatbooks is a service that links to your Instagram account and every time you share 60 photos, a new Chatbook is produced and sent to your home. The best part- the books only cost $6 and the shipping is free! You also have the ability to remove certain photos you may not want printed in your Chatbook- and you can also see the date, location and caption if you choose!

Chatbooks are great not only for individuals, but could also be a fun way for your clients to share their photos. You can also add contributors to your Chatbooks, which would be great for getting multiple perspectives at big events. At True, we have several clients who use Instagram as part of their social media strategy, documenting daily happenings, big events and posting inspirational photos. What better way to showcase a brand than with Chatbooks containing your own photos?

We want to know: What’s your Instagram strategy? Could you see yourself (or clients) using Chatbooks?

Author: Allison Ewing[Google+]




With Social Media, Aim for Quality Over Quantity

In November, Facebook eliminated “like-gates,” the practice of requiring users to “like” a page in order to participate in a contest or access exclusive content.

In December the “Instagram Rapture” removed millions of fake accounts and sent the follower counts for the heaviest users – including Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian – plummeting overnight.

Most recently, Facebook took steps to remove voluntarily deactivated or memorialized accounts from pages’ “like” counts, causing a smaller scale drop in likes for many brand pages, including several pages we manage.

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Facebook’s change makes sense; after all, it’s meant to take users who no longer use Facebook out of the equation and it’s an extension of policies already in place that remove likes and comments from inactive users from individual posts.

It seems like every time a social media channel announces a clean-up effort, the changes prompt an online uproar from social media managers who live and die by their follower counts, along with an outpouring of articles on how to survive under the new rules. Want our advice? Stop worrying about short-term shifts in the numbers and instead focus on building a quality social media following.

Cleaning out inactive accounts– and certainly fake, spammy accounts – makes it easier for marketers and social media managers to build a profile of their true followers and engage with people who want to hear from their brand. It makes targeting tools like Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences more accurate. And, frankly, it makes social media more enjoyable to use when you’re not constantly monitoring your accounts for computer-generated comments and spammy posts.

So if all the social media housecleaning had a major impact on your online following, give us a call. We’re happy to talk about long-term strategies for building an audience that will stick around to hear what you have to say.

Free Kittens – What’s in a title? Everything.


Pictured from left to right: Molly & Vito- Allison’s adorable kittens!

In our ADD-stricken lifestyle where we can’t be bothered to read more than a smartphone screen’s worth of information, a good title is more important than ever before. While titles have always needed to be attention grabbing to pull readers into an article, it was Twitter that really changed the game. Twitter forced us all to step up our creative game since the title or lead is the only words that show in Twitter.

I’m seeing the trend continue on Facebook where headlines are all competing for my time and attention. Here’s what’s on my Facebook feed right now:

25 Hilariously Awkward Texts Only a Mom Could Send from Distractify – I wonder if any of my mom’s text messages made this list? Probably.

10 Habits that are Killing your Productivity from Business Insider – I’m guessing that reading Facebook and getting sucked in by the headlines is one of them.

11 Health Problems Hidden on Your Face from The Weather Channel – Okay, the headline didn’t get me as much as the source. Why is the Weather Channel reporting on health issues?

Why are you So Damned Scared of Nipples from Huffington Post – Is it wrong to admit that I’m bummed this is a podcast and there are no pictures? I never thought I was afraid of nipples. Must find out why I am now.

Who needs pick up lines when you have this sweater from Awkward Family Photos – I don’t even have to read; just look at pictures? Sold!

Beagle siblings team up to fight a toy snake from Mashable – Don’t get me started on puppies. Only possible better headline would be Pug Puppies or cats, which of course rule the Internet. I just can’t say no to a cute, little puppy.

So the next time you’re working on a blog post or article, spend time on your headline and include attention-grabbing words. Remember, you had me at “kittens.”



U Talkin’ to Me?

UTalkintoMeBy now, it’s no secret that social media has become a major outlet for communication across every industry worldwide. I would go as far to say that business leaders outside of the marketing world are even aware that a brand should have a social media strategy complete with personality, style and characteristics that match the brand image. However, not everyone on social media seems to know how to post content that speaks to their audience and conveys a tone that highlights their brand image.

So far in my career, one of the areas I’ve focused a lot of my time and effort in is social media messaging and tone. I’ve heard business leaders of other agencies and my own say that they know why they need a Facebook account but they don’t know how to effectively talk to their customers through the channel. This is where messaging and tone become major players.

With both messaging and tone being key elements in your social media strategy, the best way to effectively convey these factors is by knowing your audience. The more research and understanding you have with the people you interact with on your page, the more effective your social strategy will be. People on social media interact with what they know; let your audience know your brand. Their personal connection to your brand and content is what will boost your engagement rates.

Unless you’re a pet store or something of that nature, resist the urge to post the cute puppy “Happy Friday” photo. We’ve all had thought about posting to Facebook about the weather or a trending topic from the Internet, but if the content doesn’t relate to your brand, steer clear. I highly suggest checking out John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight rant regarding corporations on Twitter for a better understanding of how brands should not act on social (I was going to link out to the video in this blog post, but it’s a little too vulgar…but also hilarious). Anyway, it’s better to focus your social media strategy on content that allows you to create a direct connection with your audience. One of True’s areas of expertise is the building products industry, which is heavily dominated by male culture. It would not make sense to post content with puppies and flowers to men who work with power tools day in and day out. The content needs to reflect the brand and appeal to the correct audience.

Equally as important as the content of your messaging, is your tone of voice. How does your brand talk to its audience? Going back to True’s industrial clients, tone of voice definitely plays a factor in audience engagement. Because the audience is mainly blue-collar construction workers, using a dominant and confident tone in the messaging resonates better than a cheerful and energetic tone. The audience needs to identify with your content in order to engage. The best way to go about that is to speak to them on the same level.

As a recap, it’s important to have a clear image of your audience, with the goal in mind of making your social content as personal as possible. Social engagement stems from the connection the user has to the post. A user’s connection with social content derives from the right messaging and tone that appropriately reflects the brand. The more you know about your audience, the better your social media strategy can be, which will lead to better engagement rates that benefit your brand.

Time for a Facebook Break?

facebookbreak 2Every generation has its breaks. For my grandfather it was a lunch break. For my parents it was a coffee break or a smoke break. So what breaks do we take today? Increasingly we check our favorite social media channels to see what’s going on.

True Digital Media Strategist Shannon Wallace pointed out a new social media trend. With so many people using mobile devices to access social media, it’s common to take a quick break during the workday to check Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what’s going on. Shannon refers to it as a Facebook Break. It’s the Millennial’s and Generation X’s version of a coffee or smoke break, which they might be doing too since they multitask constantly.

When you’re developing a social media strategy, remember to think about how your target audience consumes social media. They’re probably not Facebooking for hours but instead are checking in for five to 10 minutes. You need to grab their attention and not ask them to do too much. They don’t have time. Remember, no one likes to work when they’re taking a break.

What’s the Key to Digital Networking? Make it Personal.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 10.32.55 AMIt’s that time of year again when thousands of graduating college students begin their job search and realize how tough making it in the “real world” can be.  Young marketing professionals often ask me how they can stand out as they search for their first job.  My advice to all jobseekers is to engage with prospective employers through digital networking and to make it personal.

Have a plan when you start your job search and do research on the companies and industries that interest you. There is a wealth of knowledge available online, but don’t stop there. Invest time and effort into digital networking with key individuals at your target companies. This is just like regular networking but is done through online channels.

Google the name of the gatekeeper who you would like to meet. I know this isn’t new advice but don’t stop there. Are they on LinkedIn? How about Twitter? What are their social media habits? For example, are they posting articles on LinkedIn or engaging with contacts on Twitter? Do they actively write a blog? Watch and learn more about how they engage with others, their interests and the types of information they read and share.

After performing your research, go ahead and connect or follow them, but you need to stand out. This is where you need to make your digital networking personal. Tell them a little about yourself. When you follow them on Twitter, let them know you like their tweets. For LinkedIn, do not just send them the standard, “I’d like to connect with you” request. Send a personalized request to connect instead of the standard LinkedIn request. Don’t share your life story but let them know you are genuinely interested in them.

Social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn provide a very nonthreatening forum to meet and network. Facebook may be a good channel too, but for me, it’s too personal. While each is a wonderful platform for expanding your network, they lack the personal touches that are so important in a business or personal relationship. The key is to stand out by making your communications personal with them. Share articles and stories you believe will be of interest with them. Comment or engage in an interesting post. All of these activities will help separate you from everyone else.

And when you see a job posting or are ready to ask for an informational interview, you’ll already have been engaging with this person. Trust me, this is a huge advantage during the interview process.

Finally, in this world of instant communications don’t forget about the value and significance of writing a personal note after an interview. A thank you letter sent through the mail gets noticed. It is far more valuable than an email.




The Social Update Checklist – Process in Posting

Chris Baldwin and Tyler Norris recently spoke at the YouToo Social Media Conference presented by Akron PRSA in Kent, Ohio. Their session focused on True’s checklist for posting social media updates. The following post highlights insights from the presentation.

Wtrue-postchecklisthether it’s from a content calendar, under direction from a marketing manager or off the top of your head, you post new content on social channels daily. You type a sentence or two, maybe include a photo or a link and you send it of into the social ether with your fingers crossed – hoping for retweets, waiting for shares, longing for engagement. Instead of relying on the fictive social gods to lift your post onto the wings of social prosperity, apply some strategy to help. We recently finished a book called the Checklist Manifesto for our agency book club. The book is a nonfiction account of how some of the most complex professionals (surgeons, pilots and civil engineers) have implemented checklists to be more efficient and save lives. While social media and marketing strategy may not save lives, we thought we could learn a thing or two. The result was a checklist to make sure every social update, no matter what the focus, is as engaging is it can be.

VALUE Providing value in social posts

Value doesn’t have to be a discount, a freebie or contest. We define value as anything that would make your followers say “thanks.” Sometimes this is affirming quotes, humor or helpful tips. It all depends on your audience. What do they want from you?


Make sure anything you post caters to your band messaging. It sounds selfish and may not directly influence engagement, but remember what you’re here to do: benefit your brand. A lot of times we see organizations break this rule when posting topical content that has nothing to do with their brand. For example, “Yay! It’s the first day of Spring!” or “Can you believe the How I met Your Mother finale? #disappointed.” Maybe these are relevant in some cases, but odds are, you should steer clear. Stick to topics that allow you to create a direct connection.


How does your brand talk to its followers? Things like user personas and competitive research are particularly beneficial here. The more you know about your audience, the more you can effectively talk with them. Beyond some of these traditional tactics we use a basic Excel function to determine which words and phrases resonate with audiences. “=AverageIf” tells you the average of a range of data based on a specific criterion in a separate range. Put simply, it can tell the average reach or engagement of posts including specific words or phrases. Just export your data to excel. Using the syntax below, include your posts in the column A range, the word or phrase (surrounded by asterisks and quotes) and your metrics in column B. =AverageIf([post copy],”*[word or phrase]*”,[metric you’re measuring]) True-AverageIf


Provide context for social posts Last but not least, make sure users can understand your posts. It’s scary how often I come across updates online that make no sense. If I view the media or click the link, I can piece it together, but it’s 2014 and this is the Internet! It should be easier! You may not agree, but your followers think this way. We like to give posts a new-follower test. Will the post make sense to someone who just heard about your brand? This is typically your basic who, what, where, when, why and can be tougher than it sounds when dealing with 140 characters, but it’s worth the additional clicks. So think before you post. Stop relying on social magic and be a social master!

Author: Tyler Norris [Google+]

Pinterest is Doin’ it Right – Openly and Honestly

pinterest 2It’s no surprise that Pinterest has decided to add sponsored pins to our Pinterest accounts; I mean, how else are they going to make a profit? But what I did find surprising – and refreshing – was how Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, sent us Pinterest users a nice letter (that he also shared as a blog post: Planning for the Future), sharing his personal pins to help demonstrate the changes that we’ll see coming.

What’s different here isn’t that Pinterest made this announcement, rather it’s how they made the announcement that’s different. It wasn’t a formal, official, corporate-like statement that appeared when you opened your account; it was a nice, open letter (delivered via a personalized email to those with a Pinterest account) that felt more like a conversation – even though it’s not like I actually conversed with Ben, but I did look at his Pinterest page and got to know him a little bit better as a person. Ben shared the pins he plans to share with his son – while he’s small and while he’s older – something that I (a mom) could relate to. Point being, Ben first and foremost identified a way to relate to me, and many people, as a user of Pinterest.

Ben was also very upfront and honest – an admirable quality. He makes it very clear in his letter that they – Pinterest – don’t yet know what this means, yet they chose to give us fair warning. Who does that these days?! He goes on to give us an idea and a few examples of what promotional pins might be like while still making it clear that this isn’t happening tomorrow, rather it will be an evolution.

Ben’s letter was kind, compassionate, and open. What’s more is that this isn’t the first time he’s done this – we Pinterest users have received other letters from Ben, i.e. the letter announcing the secret board capability (perfect if you’re pregnant, want to plan and not ready to share!). I realize that promotional pins beg a lot of questions but for now I can’t help but be excited for Pinterest – as a company and as a user. And I think they’re open, honest approach is one we can learn from.

If you’re interested in learning more about Pinterest, how to use it for your business or how they’re experimenting with promoting pins, you can fill out this form and they’ll share updates as their launch date approaches. Enjoy.