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Don Jr’s Site is on Shopify

Donald Trump Jr is tweeting about how “big tech” is cracking down on “free speech” after his father was booted from Twitter, FB, IG, YouTube etc over the last few days as a result of the Jan 6 terrorist attack on our nation’s Capitol.

Not good marketing

What’s interesting here is that Trump Jr is using Shopify to sell books and bulk up his newsletter subscriptions after Shopify moved to also ban Trump-related sites this week:

Shopify does not tolerate actions that incite violence. Based on recent events, we have determined that the actions by President Donald J. Trump violate our Acceptable Use Policy, which prohibits promotion or support of organizations, platforms or people that threaten or condone violence to further a cause,” a Shopify spokesperson wrote in a statement to TechCrunch. “As a result, we have terminated stores affiliated with President Trump.

Shopify statement

Regardless of your politics of late, I urge you to build on your own property. Own your own domain, own your own intellectual property, own your own content, and don’t rely on third party providers to host your digital presence, one of your most important assets.

Don’t Look Over Instagram Reels for Your Marketing in 2021

I remember the first few times I saw a friend post a Reel on Instagram and thought “well, that’s a weird knock-off of Snapchat and Tik-Tok” and wondered how or if my clients should even know about (or bother) with it.

Then in November, we also got word from Instagram that major changes were coming to how they promoted content in a much search-friendlier way (without having to use hashtags!).

Those two combined together means that Instagram with its 2 billion active users and built-in affinity groups shouldn’t be overlooked in 2021.

Use Reels for whatever you’re marketing or trying to message about and don’t skip over the functionality there.

2021 is going to be the year of 15 second videos.

Engagement umbers are already through the roof with Reels and that’s only going to continue to increase.

To further help Instagram categorize your account, you want to consistently post content that’s relevant to your niche. To illustrate, if you run an Instagram account for your dog training business, you’ll want to focus on posting content about dog training and avoid content that strays into an unrelated category. Other ways to help you show up in search within your category include following other similar accounts and adding a relevant keyword to your name in your bio (i.e., Alexa | Dog Trainer).

To compete with the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels, a new form of video content delivered in 15–30 seconds to create quick, attention-grabbing moments in a creative and entertaining way. Instagram’s new UI update, which put IG Reels front and center, should hint to marketers that Instagram Reels will be here to stay in 2021.

Source: Social Media Marketing Trends for 2021: Predictions From the Pros : Social Media Examiner

Google Shopping Gift Guide and Importance of Trending vs Popularity

Google’s annual Shopping Gift Guide is out for 2020. While it’s a handy tool for personal shopping, it also has some incredibly helpful stats for marketing and messaging.

The trick is to focus on trending items using data. The same is true for Instagram… the hashtags that you should be incorporating into your posts for more exposure and likes (and follows) are the ones that are trending but not necessarily popular.

So, if you’re looking for some fun market research in your business’ sector, don’t pass up these sorts of insights:

  • Monitors and headsets with microphones both saw 450%+ spikes in searches.

  • Searches for streaming increased 33% this year.

  • Searches for ring lights are at their all-time high, as they provide ideal lighting for video recordings and meetings.

The Google Shopping Gift Guide provides a helpful list of products rising in popularity based on Search trends in the US.

Source: Google Shopping Gift Guide

Facebook and Instagram’s New Social Good for Business Platform

Along the same lines of posts I’ve been making about authentic marketing outreach aimed at specific communities, causes, and moments… this isn’t just about crass capitalism.

Businesses, nonprofits, churches, community orgs, public officials etc need to be engaged in this sort of marketing messaging regardless of your political or religious affiliations but in respect of what your group’s ethos represents… super powerful:

Show up where and when it matters.With advancements in communication, moments create new avenues for marketers, planners and creatives looking to connect with these once-a-day, once-a-year and once-in-a-while moments. Find a moment like Giving Tuesday, Ramadan or Pride Month when your business can connect with customers and communities who share the same values.

Source: Social Good for Business: Facebook Resources to Make an Impact | Facebook for Business

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Since I was in college (maybe before), I found the concept of pillows strange. So, I started sleeping without one. I’ve always primarily been a “stomach sleeper” (which is a benefit if I ever do contract Covid, I guess). My normal sleeping posture involves my head resting on my left arm face down with my right arm curled up so that my right hand is curled just below my chin.

I’m not sure why I have such an aversion to pillows. I’m not alone, evidently. King Henry VIII banned the use of soft pillows for anyone except pregnant women.

Maybe it’s that independent streak I have and my assurance that I shouldn’t have to rely on things like external pillows for comfort and sleeping posture if I can do it all on my own. Which seems to be a good metaphor for this time in our lives where we are all forced to reconsider what is important and what we rely on to make it through our days and nights. Whether that’s the camaraderie of a busy office space with our co-workers, or meals with friends, or opening night of a major movie in a crowded theater… our brains are undergoing cognitive loads that many of us aren’t realizing but definitely feeling the effects in our day-to-day walk through life.

But in times of change and disruption, the creative spark is made more available as our brains try to make sense of a new reality. Perhaps that what’s the pillow was supposed to prepare us for over the last 10,000 years or so that we’ve actively been using them as human beings. Learning to find comfort in the dark and mysterious time of night with all of its dragons and witches and spells while we give our brains time to defrag from a long day of processing being human.

Most of us aren’t spending our days gathering barley, millet, and emmer or stalking a herd of antelope hoping for a successful hunt to feed our families and appease our gods… but 2020 is weird. Give your brain time to rest and process at night whether you use a pillow or not. Dream up new avenues for your own creativity whether you’re looking for a business angle, a sermon message, or just a new hobby to replace Netflix binging.

What I’m Thinking About Today

At Tuesday’s hearing, Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief executive, said the company would no longer make policy exceptions for Mr. Trump after he leaves office in January. During Mr. Trump’s time as a world leader, Twitter allowed him to post content that violated its rules, though it began adding labels to some of the tweets starting in May to indicate that the posts were disputed or glorified violence.

“If an account suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Mr. Dorsey said.

Well this out to be interesting…

This thing works like an iPad. That’s the best way I can describe it succinctly. One illustration I have been using to describe what this will feel like to a user of current MacBooks is that of chronic pain. If you’ve ever dealt with ongoing pain from a condition or injury, and then had it be alleviated by medication, therapy or surgery, you know how the sudden relief feels. You’ve been carrying the load so long you didn’t know how heavy it was. That’s what moving to this M1 MacBook feels like after using other Macs.

Instagram users’ ability to search is getting an upgrade. Today, the company announced that English-speaking users in six countries, including the UK, US, Ireland, and Canada, will be able to search the platform using keywords. Before today, they could only search for hashtags or accounts. So, for example, if you previously wanted to find “healthy recipes,” you’d only be able to search for posts that tagged #healthyrecipes or accounts with variations on “healthy recipes” in their name or bio. Now, however, Instagram will let people search the keywords themselves, meaning posts that feature healthy recipes should surface, even if the specific tag is missing.

This is super helpful for content creators in specific niches and should help elevate quality posts that otherwise get buried in heavily trafficked hashtags.

Well that’s interesting.

To be updated throughout the day

Instagram’s New Home Screen and Importance of Reels

Today we’re announcing some big changes to Instagram – a Reels tab and a Shop tab. The Reels tab makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you. The Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love.

Source: Introducing a New Home Screen for Instagram

Instagram’s new layout announced today isn’t a massive overhaul and most people will probably adjust just fine… but the inclusion of Reels as a separate tab is super interesting and yet another way that Facebook and Instagram are looking to capture some of the virality and buzz around TikTok.

There’s not much conclusive data on Reels’ success or adoption so far (released back in August), but it is notable that it now has its own tab in an interface that hundreds of millions of active users visit daily (or hourly depending on your demographic).

Shopping also gets its own tab. Again, like the talk late in the summer about how Wal-Mart was interested in acquiring TikTok due to its ability to be a platform for e-commerce, Instagram is making it easier for users to make direct purchases from their app rather than the janky “link in the bio” workaround we’ve been using for years. I know I’ve personally made a few impulse buys of new camping gear or knives (looking at you, Smoky Mountain Knife Works) because of an Instagram Story or pic.

But take note that the landscape is changing ever so slightly from Instagram (and TikTok) being places of consumer-generated content to consumer buying and selling. That will continue, especially as we all hunker down in our homes this winter to avoid Covid outbreaks.

About the Microsoft and Walmart Acquiring TikTok Deal

The idea would be to help turn TikTok U.S. into more of an e-commerce app for creators and users, much like what TikTok parent company ByteDance does with a similar app in China.

Source: Microsoft working with Walmart on TikTok deal – Axios

One of the main reasons TikTok has taken off with influencers, soccer moms, niche businesses, and aspiring dance stars here in the US is that it “feels” like an indie app that isn’t owned by Facebook or Google.

TikTok very much has that Instagram feel from about 2013 (I remember when an 8th grader first showed Instagram to me and explained why it was so much better than Facebook or Twitter and wasn’t owned by a big company).

With the ongoing speculation that Oracle is somehow involved in the attempts to acquire TikTok from the Chinese company ByteDance at our current administration’s behest, the CEO resigning last night, and now the two COOLEST brands in the United States… Microsoft AND Walmart!… I just don’t see how TikTok retains that feeling. Especially if this odd consortium of mega-companies turns it into an “e-commerce app for creators and users.”

I think we’ll look back on this period a few years from now and use it as a cautionary tale for huge companies looking to make a play in a hot space.

Yes, there are some previous examples of successful transitions for creative-focused apps and services that kept the mojo after being gobbled up, such as when Google acquired YouTube for $1billion in the mid-2000’s. But then, Google wasn’t quite the behemoth it is now, and YouTube sorely needed the backing of a Google to stay on the web given the legal and logistical load it was rapidly taking on. But then consider services like Flickr or Tumblr that had a diehard communities before being subsumed into the Yahoo! debacle and mismanaged into oblivion.

All that to say, I don’t see how Oracle / Microsoft / Walmart pulls this off and pivots TikTok into a successful “Made in America!” platform while keeping the hotness of the app.

A Week Without Twitter (or Facebook)

I made the decision last week to attempt what I previously thought was relatively undoable for my business and/or personal life and pull out of the Twitter stream and Facebook world, and Instagram performance art gallery. Some of that was due to this liturgical season of Lent and some of that was my constant need to try on new “thought technologies” that helps me explore more of this life.

After a week, I can say a few things that have struck me as personal revelations.

First, I am more focused and “get things done” work-wise in a more deliberate and intentional way. It’s not that I was skipping over things a year or a month ago, but the silence that comes from not having a constant TweetDeck tab open in my browser window (or on the large screen that was dedicated just to TweetDeck) has made a marked difference in my workflow as evidenced by my time sheets and my client ticketing system.

Second, I find myself reaching for my phone fewer times during the morning, day, and night. I would constantly be scanning Instagram or Twitter when I had a few spare moments or minutes during the course of a day. Now that I don’t have those time sinks, I find myself scanning Feedly for news or longer form articles or just doodling on paper for 30 seconds.

Third, I’m blogging here more. I feel more “creative” in general to be honest. Being away from the constant stream of short takes on the latest political scandal or presidential tweet or funny meme has made me recognize how much I’ve pushed down my own voice inside of my head (as much as it is an unreliable narrator sometimes!). But I feel like we’re picking back up the conversation after a long 12 years on Twitter and as a heavy user of all things social. I feel more creative and less anxious in general.

Most importantly, I have space to be more mindful about my place here. I already feel a change in my outlook on issues and things I need to give or pay attention to. I’ve found myself turning off notifications on my phone from Slack and Email (heaven forbid!) and even our ticket support system. Could I make do with a flip phone? Who knows. But that mindfulness and a better sense of presence does feel different than it has the last few years.

Coincidence is not causation, so we’ll see how this happens as I keep up with this thought technology of being mindfully and spiritually situated in specific places and times rather than floating through the matrix of performative attention.

The Sublime and Silicon Valley

The sublime—whether a feature of the natural world, or of UFOs, or of religious experience—is a sense of our own vanishing smallness before something impossibly vast: a mountain range, a churning ocean, the universe, God. What we get in return for being so existentially demeaned is freedom from the tyranny of our own personalities, a sort of liberating oblivion. But data-extracting platforms don’t sublimate our personalities; they multiply and magnify them. And the Data Sublime, far from making the internet feel thrillingly big, has conspired to make it feel smaller, claustrophobic, and profoundly boring. As Facebook and Google metastasize, the more interesting destinations on the internet are dying off; recent sweeping media layoffs were also largely the result of Facebook, Google, and Amazon’s stranglehold on advertising revenue. The sublime promises a sort of redemptive immensity, but Silicon Valley strives to compress all of digital experience into a single, monotonous feed, mainlining capital into the pockets of billionaires.

— Read on thebaffler.com/latest/close-encounters-of-the-tech-kind-harnett

The Next Social Network is Private Messaging

https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/a-privacy-focused-vision-for-social-networking/10156700570096634/

Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication. There are a number of reasons for this. Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely.

Not saying I called it, but I called it. Look to WeChat for how we’ll be doing “social networking” here in the US within the next 5 years.

Twitter completely flopped and missed the ball by not shipping a DM app.

Instagram egg is worth “at least $10M”

Some days… I just don’t know… wow.

Marketers, however, are taking the bait. Nik Sharma, the head of DTC at VaynerMedia, told The Atlantic, “being the first brand to crack out of the egg is worth at least $10 million.” He went on to say that businesses, in fact, should “spend on the egg instead of the Super Bowl.” Read that again, because that’s a quote a supposedly human being made about a picture of an egg!

Source: VaynerMedia exec: Instagram egg is worth “at least $10M”

Instagram Party Accounts

Only a matter of time before us 40-year-olds start spinning up Instagram party accounts (just like we took over Facebook)!…

While Facebook event pages make clear who their organizers are, Instagram party accounts frequently don’t divulge that information. The anonymity of a party page allows for plausible deniability if the account gets discovered by a parent. If a party you spent weeks hyping up on Instagram gets out of hand, you can simply “be like, ‘Yeah, I had friends over and more people came,’” says Brown.

Source: What Is an Instagram Party Account? – The Atlantic

NASCAR’s Social Media Leaderboard

Marketing and NASCAR are two of my longtime passions (lots of overlap on that Venn Diagram)… so I couldn’t resist sharing these stats.

Interesting to note that Danica retired from NASCAR after this year’s Daytona 500… that doesn’t say very good things about the health of the sport from a marketing perspective.

Kyle Busch led all drivers in engagements and total video views, with Danica Patrick coming in a close second. Busch and Patrick are both sit near the top in nearly every category.

Source: NASCAR’s Social Leaderboard: How the Top Drivers Stack Up | opendorse

Instagram Stories Maker (for Churches, Nonprofits etc)

Just this past week I was having coffee with a friend who volunteers to manage all the social media and website duties for his church (bless them). They’re savvy and very good about getting their church on Facebook Live each Sunday and creating shareable content throughout the week.

I brought up Instagram Stories during our conversation and remarked at how “hot” Stories are from a marketing point of view compared to the FB Newsfeed or Instagram’s photo feed and how more churches need to be hopping on the bandwagon to increase engagement (if that’s your sort of thing).

I just happened to stumble across this iOS app today to make creating Stories easier… will have to give it a shot this week!

Templates You can choose from 40 templates of many different styles. All are 100% editable. · Text Styles There are 50 different texts styles you can add to your stories. All styles are beautifully animated. You can customize fonts, colors, sizes, positions and alignments. · No Account Required…

Source: ‎Mojo – Create Video Stories

Instagram Stories for Churches and Nonprofits

More and more of my clients on the nonprofit and church side are asking about Instagram Stories and experimenting with them in some form to help with outreach. Like anything on the web or mobile, it’s always fun to dive in and try things out. But there’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you’re looking to make the most of your time (especially given that most nonprofit marketing is done on a volunteer basis!).

Here’s a handy guide that makes some of the same points that I do with clients… shoot vertically, don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t be afraid of stickers, be afraid of hashtags, and (most importantly!) PLAN PLAN PLAN with a calendar that you’ll stick to…

Consider treating your Story like a TV network with scheduled programming for the week, or even recurring “episodes” that happen on certain days. Thinking in advance about what kind of content you’ll be sharing and how your Story will flow will help you craft a more addictive and consistent experience for your viewers.

Source: Instagram Stories: Everything Businesses Need to Know

Instagram is Dead

For starters, this is the end of Instagram as we know it. Systrom and Krieger were deeply involved in day-to-day product decisions, and retained an unusual degree of autonomy over the company. For years, they were careful to the point of being obstinate. Even as they began to expand Instagram’s suite of offerings, they remained deeply cautious. (Features for creating groups of “favorites” and a standalone messaging app have been in testing for 15 months and 10 months, respectively.)

— Read on www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/9/25/17903556/instagram-founders-quit-kevin-systrom-mike-krieger-facebook

Do Facebook Ads Really Work?

Within the advertising industry, the debate about whether advertising works on Facebook is not new. A survey last year showed over 60 percent of small business owners felt advertising on Facebook was ineffective. The lawsuit takes it a step further, saying Facebook is misleading advertisers.

Source: Does Facebook Really Work? People Question Effectiveness Of Ads : NPR

Like anything else, you do need some expertise to make Facebook or Instagram or Snap or Google or Pinterest ads work. We are finishing a period where these advertising companies have held that “ANYONE CAN DO IT! IT’S SO EASY! JUST SIGN UP AND TELL US WHO YOU WANT TO TARGET!” with regards to their ads and effectiveness.

But that’s simply not true. I could probably re-roof our home. But I’m not going to spend the time, effort, and money trying to do that job myself. I’m going to hire someone who knows what they are doing.

Same with social media advertising and marketing. That’s how I pay our mortgage (and for our new roof) every month!

The reason Twitter will ultimately fail

I still firmly believe we’ll see a reckoning of sorts for social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter (and even Instagram and its lovely filters) where the network effect takes a backseat to quality interactions and we move away from hegemonic one-size-fits-all walled gardens towards decentralized and specified communities based on our preferences. Reddit is already pointing the way on this (partly):

The internet of old — composed largely of thousands of scattered communities populated by people who shared interests, identities, causes or hatreds — has been mostly paved over by the social-media giants. In this new landscape, basic intelligible concepts of community become alien: The member becomes the user; the peer becomes the follower; and the ban becomes not exile, but death. It is not surprising that the angriest spirits of the old web occasionally manifest in the new one. But what’s striking is how effectively they can haunt it, and how ill-equipped it is to deal with them.

Source: Twitter’s Misguided Quest to Become a Forum for Everything – The New York Times

Churches and nonprofits shouldn’t focus on attribution as a social media goal

For years, marketers have tried to attribute social directly to sales, but industry standards and consumer data reveal that their true focus should be expanding awareness and consideration.Think long-term, not quick fix. Think relationships, not attribution.

Source: The 2018 Sprout Social Index | Sprout Social

The biggest mistake I see churches and nonprofits make when engaging in an intentional “social media campaign” is counting the likes and hearts on Facebook, Twitter, or Twitter rather than measuring the engagement factor of relationships.

Only 14% of marketers polled say that they can attribute any revenue from social media. The same is true when a church or nonprofit creates a social campaign… focus on long-term relational signals, not short-term likes and favs.

Improving Twitter in 2018?

Dave Winer:

1. Eliminate the character limit, allow for linking, simple styles, titles and enclosures (for podcasting). The move to 280 chars was so successful, that should be a clue. Remove the barriers to expression and let the whole web in via linking. Handle length the way Facebook does with a see more link. It’s good prior art.

— Read on scripting.com/2018/07/22/155344.html

I remember having a conversation with Tris Hussey over breakfast at some conference or other in early 2007 where we discussed Twitter and its future possibilities. I was convinced at the time that Twitter would go on to see the light and open itself up as a protocol for the internet to facilitate public micro-messaging, similar to what IMAP and POP were for email. I was wrong, of course. Twitter actually reversed course from its early openness with developers and a flexible API and shifted towards the advertising platform model around 2009 as it sought out a way to monetize the service.

I’m still an avid user of Twitter, much more so than Facebook, ten years later. I remember the early talks and discussions about the need for more editing features and the ability to post longer entries and I always thought that was antithetical to what Twitter was. I still think that’s the case (think Old Man Yelling At the Clouds). What makes Twitter such an interesting and valuable platform for news and social interaction to me in 2018 is the brevity of content. Going from 140 characters to 280 characters is less of a paradigm shift and more of a realization that the perception of too much information density has changed in the post-SMS messaging world. Whereas a long text message was seen as rude and inconsiderate in 2007, a long iMessage is considered the norm in 2018.

So, I have to disagree with Dave here on his point that Twitter should eliminate the character limit and promote features such as styles, titles, and even enclosures. What makes Twitter so unique in a world of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, FaceTime, Signal, WeChat etc is the constraint of expression. People use Signal for privacy. We use Snapchat for its ephemeral and whimsical nature. Instagram is how we share visuals. Twitter is how we share quick thoughts.

We have blogs for the other features that Dave mentions here. Open the API’s and get the app developers back on board if we want to Make Twitter Great Again.