We need to talk about Denny’s.
I’m from New York City. Born here, raised here, still here, and will probably die here.
If you’re from the New York tri-state area, you know that diners are a dime a dozen. I’ve only been to one Denny’s, and I think it was in Oregon.
So why, might you ask, do I care about Denny’s?
Cool Brand Content Spotlight: How Denny’s Wins at Social Media
That’s why Denny’s is unlike any other social media account I’ve ever encountered. They don’t actually promote any of their food on a regular basis. In fact, it’s a rare occurrence. They’ll throw in some tweets about… foodstuffs. Food that’s on their menu – sometimes.
Bottom line: it’s unpredictable. When I first came upon this social media presence a year ago, I had no idea how or why their marketing team had chosen this approach. That confusion was short-lived. Because a year later, I still think about Denny’s tweets and share them with my friends.
Where else can you get lowercase quips about The Walking Dead with a reference to food?
In some ways, it’s impossible to describe how these tweets make me feel. It’s akin to stumbling upon scrupulous spam like @Horse_ebooks:
Or an account like @dril:
Weeks later and I’m still laughing at that tweet.
This sort of social media posting is like a free-association experiment. I’ve no doubt in my mind that whoever runs their social media was around for the birth of You’re the Man Now, Dog and 4chan.
What Denny’s Does Right: Niche Content Audience-ing
That being said, Denny’s is clearly targeting Millennials and Gen X’ers. I’m still not sure which one of these I belong to; though for the sake of my ego I’ll go with Gen X. We were around for the birth of memes, both creating them and sharing them. Moot was a household name for us (I had the odd honor of working with him professionally many years later in Manhattan — touche!), and may or may not have (almost) failed out of college because of late night raids in World of Warcraft.
Denny’s knows this demographic. They know quirky memes and they embrace the randomness that certain niches of the internet also embrace, even desperately fall in love with. Who needs proper grammar and punctuation? Not Denny’s.
They win because they make your brain associate good feelings with their product. Let’s call it the Meme Sensation. It’s that instant gratification that you feel when you find a great meme. It makes you chuckle, makes you hit the little Retweet arrow, or copypaste it into your Facebook Messenger group chat.
In Denny’s case, their social media makes you want to join their business’ culture, not necessarily hook you in with their food. You’re investing in the brand, which in Denny’s’ case, is a weird world of puns and run on sentences. It’s how we (my generation, the just-turning-thirty-year-olds) talk when we’re really excited about something. You know, caps lock is cruise control for cool. So when you RT that weird tweet about eggs or how scared of Negan we all are, you associate it with Denny’s. It’s a brand new world of marketing, akin to getting jingles stuck in your mind – only this time, it’s something entirely different.
Denny’s embraces the randomness that certain niches of the internet embrace, even fall in love with. Who needs proper grammar and punctuation? Not Denny’s. And yet, it’s still highly unique and marketable.
What Denny’s Needs To Work On
Pet peeve alert! Despite how quotable Denny’s is, the fact is they don’t seem to engage with their customers. I talked about my great interaction with @PenguinRandomHouse in an earlier blog.
Interaction like this would only further cement their fans’ loyalty. We are all attention-starved on social media, after all.
For instance, Denny’s passed up a perfect opportunity to get involved in some great, free marketing. Widely popular webseries @GameGrumps (SHOUTOUT TO MY OLD FRIEND @egoraptor) engaged in exactly the kind of random quirky banter with a bunch of food chains’ social media, and Denny’s missed the mark and never replied:
This thread is absolute gold, by the way. I highly recommend checking it out.
Honestly? I don’t know if I’ll ever go out of my way to go to a Denny’s while I’m at home. But if I’m outside of NYC and need American comfort food, their tweets will definitely come to mind. They’re tapping into an unconscious need to laugh at random stuff that your parents wouldn’t even begin to understand. The stuff you find yourself remembering and laughing about on the toilet at 3am.
The difference? It’s connected to a company. And it’s 3am. Guess who’s open at 3am?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a psychology major who plays a lot of video games and loves hockey. I’m not good at left-brain stuff. I failed pretty much every math test I ever had, but excelled in writing essays and art class. That being said, I didn’t know what to expect out of the SEJ Summit.
The Summit is sponsored by the SEJ Journal – the leading source for digital marketing news. It’s a powerhouse with 80+ active contributors. Marketing? Yes, I can definitely do that. That’s my forte: crafting words to get people excited, to get them IN.
Express Writers meeting John Brown at the SEJ Summit. None of us had enough coffee yet. Left to right: Tara, Krystal, Josh, John, Julia
During the SEJ Summit breakfast, there was a dude with a little xylophone and a microphone. He played the instrument and like the walking dead, everyone stopped what they where doing and headed toward the auditorium. Not a word. Bells that herd people. Pavlov would be very proud. I remember thinking… “man, I wish marketing were that easy.” But I digress.
Express Writers Goes to SEJ Summit 2016 New York: 19 Top Takeaways (as told by Krystal)
I’m going to give you my takeaways from each presentation, because I’m nice like that. SEJ was all about connecting us (the industry) with the user. I’m talking deep UI/UX. Even when we’re talking Google analytics and algorithms (the things I’m bad at) we’re actually talking about serving users a more robust online experience (the things I’m great at).
So come along, on this magic (fiber optics) carpet ride…
Google’s Maile Ohye: Serving The Mobile-First Searcher
This presentation was given by Maile Ohye, the Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google. She made a point to mention that she’s dead last in her fantasy league team, which I can definitely relate to, being last in my fantasy hockey league because I chose players based on how cute they are or how much I liked watching them beat up other players.
3 Takeaways from Ohye
She had three key points:
1. Continue to pay off technical debt
How technically agile is my brand? Keep in mind that big Fortune 500 companies have gone out of business because they didn’t keep up with the tech/digital age.
2. Keep the target personas in mind
You should always keep in mind what the big guns (like Google) are saying, but find commonalities in customer needs and journeys as well. For example, map customer needs. If a customer wants to be vegetarian, they’ll probably search for benefits of becoming a vegetarian. Facilitate this journey with your UI/UX. Let them scroll quickly through testimonials. Don’t let them get bored. Most of all, understand what your customers want to use! Most users don’t want to download a native app – it’s an annoying extra step.
3. Target a specific audience
It’s not all about ranking. It IS all about being present and awesome in your customer’s journey.
From here, we need to understand that our customers are emerging with new tech. Mobile search traffic surpassed desktop traffic, with nearly a third of mobile searches are related to location. Don’t forget that your customers are in other countries, too… and not everyone has an unlimited data plan.
What became clear early on was that AMP would play a big role at the SEJ Summit. AMP = Accelerated Mobile Pages. Coding is kept to a minimum. It’s reminiscent of when I was in coding school, trying desperately to keep codes to a minimum to reduce load time. I was terrible at coding (more right-brain woes) but this was a key takeaway when it comes to understanding usability.
Bill Hunt on Making SEO Lemonade: Moving The Needle On Missed Opportunities
Bill Hunt was a fantastic presenter and gave us great, easy-to-understand points in his topic on SEO lemonade.
Root cause identification is a critical skill. Are you able to understand the root of your access issues? Let’s say your website disappears from google. A simple problem that a design agency didn’t catch can cost a lot of money, and for one company fixing an inclusion issue increased traffic by 58%. 74% of their pages weren’t indexed. Can you imagine paying for 300 pages of analysis to identify the problem when it was just an indexing issue? It’s paramount that you have an agile IT team to troubleshoot giving search engines error-free pages.
Remember what I said about remembering that your audience may be in a different country? Make sure you’re HREFLang correctly and align to the correct country. Is your page ranking correctly? Again, we can see an 88% drop in traffic due to reindexed pages. It’s the little things that matter.
Lastly, you need to match searcher intent. Are you keyword targeting? Is top 50 on top of your rank? Remember – mobile and location searches are most popular, so you need to think about what people want when they are searching for something. This can max out your clickability.
3 Main Takeaways from SEO Lemonade
Again, three main points from this one:
1. Understanding the importance of indexability
If no one can find your content, it doesn’t matter what quality it is!
2. Accept that searcher intent is critical to success
This ties into takeaway 3, but you need to understand whom you are catering to and why they’re looking for you in the first place.
3. Maximize clickability
Get in people’s heads. Get them in on that first click, and the rest is… well, easy as making lemonade out of lemons.
SEJ was nice enough to give us permission to use their SlideShare recaps. Here’s Bill’s full presentation:
AMP Tactics From The Conde Nast SEO Team, by John Shehata
John Shehata of Conde Nast led this one. AMP launched in February 2016. Before AMP, Conde Nast’s average ranking was around 6.4. After AMP, it jumped to 1.6. Their average CTR (clickthrough rate) went up about 4%.
Mobile search traffic is still coming from regular Google search. BUT if you only look at NEW content versus old content, over 60% of Conde Nast’s traffic was coming through AMP. For example, a AMP site vs. non AMP site covering the Oscars: AMP queries got 15x more visits, 7x more impressions, and 2x higher average rankings.
Everyone needs AMP in their arsenal. Now… I know what you’re saying. I’m not a publisher! Who cares about CTR and AMP and all of these fancy acronyms? You still need to care about AMP! There are HUGE opportunities on getting traffic via AMP Blue Links.
Your 3 Best AMP Resources
Check out these links. They’ll help you understand what projects to use AMP for.
Full presentation recap on SlideShare:
John Brown from Google: Best Practices To Protect Ad Spend
Next up was John Brown from Google, the Head of Publisher Policy Communications at Google.
Us folks at Express Writers had a chance to chat with him at the breakfast before we were herded off, and it turns out he’s from Austin like the EW team (I was the only loser from New York City, sadly). We all got a picture with John, who was super down-to-earth and cool!
Our friend proposed two stellar questions: how do I obtain good traffic? How do I grow my network?
The answer? Work with partners that respect users. Protect your users. There are three main takeaways here:
1. Strong practices build trust
2. Measure real ROI
3. Identify bots and real visitors
To build trust, you need to CREATE trust in the entire ecosystem of business. “Trust is the currency with which we trade” — invalid traffic and bad ads threatens to break this trust. In your organization, you must be on the same page as the rest of your team. You need fundamental top-down collective focus on user trust and obtaining quality traffic. With this in mind, you need to be selective. Work only with people who have goals that benefit the entire ecosystem, with a focus on rich, original and organic content. Develop a common language with publishers. Understand what illegitimate and nonhuman traffic sources are out there to harm that ecosystem.
Once you’ve created that foundation of trust, you need to measure how that trust is helping you. Measure REAL ROI. Real ROI are real conversions, not clicks, CTR, or views. You want to pay attention to signups, purchases, even tangible leads.
Lastly, we delved into the world of bots. Bots can skew everything and really mess up your metrics, as well as send your users on a wild, uncomfortable ride. Don’t break that trust because you can’t identify real traffic.
2 Final Takeaways from John Brown & Google
1. Trust, trust, trust
Your brand is only as strong as the trust exists between you and the ecosystem of your business. That includes business partners, customers, and especially the people within your own team. The more open and transparent you are about your goals, the smoother your interactions will be.
2. Get savvy about traffic
You need to know how you’re doing in order to understand how to move forward. If your metrics are all wrong and you don’t have accurate numbers of what your legitimate human traffic is, how will you know if you’re on the right track?
Brands, Search, and the US Elections – Sponsored by Search Metrics
Admittedly, I didn’t go to this one because I was election’d out. I’d love to hear some feedback about this presentation, though, now that that day has come and gone. Let me know in the comments what you think, if you listened in!
Glenn Gabe on What The Doctor Ordered: Your Yearly Google Algorithm Update Checkup (2016)
Glenn Gabe from G-Squared Interactive was a strong speaker with terrific information to present here. This one was for all of the analytic and algorithm nerds out there that I can definitely get into, being a nerd myself. Google Panda, Phantom, and Penguin are real things, not just something you have weird dreams about. They’re algorithms rolled out by Google to control SEO visibility. They can be aggressive, they can be slow, and usually hard to detect.
Takeaway: Popups will haunt you, know Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines
The main takeaway from Glenn is that you need a user-friendly site, and you should avoid too many popups or Google will de-rank you for that (soon to be more fleshed out in algo updates!). Also, low quality content is a no-no. Most importantly: read Google’s quality rater guidelines.(Julia, our CEO, actually broke the Search Guidelines down in detail in this massive post on our blog in late 2015.) It’ll help you run a better site that Google will love, and help you avoid cute Google animals… and ghosts.
Larry Kim Breaks the Summit: Top Takeaway from Hacking Rankbrain
I think Larry Kim’s presentation was everyone’s favorite, on the subject of Hacking Rankbrain themed in Judgment Day subject material (yes, the “I’ll be back” guy), fantastic memes, colorful rainbows, donkeys and unicorns. He nailed the storytelling elements!
Our CTO Josh made the awesome correlation of Larry Kim + Charlie the Unicorn:
Rank brain (machine learning and search) is a very real thing, with algorithms auditioning our queries. Larry offered us SEO Weapons to survive SEO Judgment day, which included donkey detectors, unicorn converters… you get the idea.
Our takeaway from Larry’s presentation: You want to edit and find your most dynamic keywords and headlines.
You don’t want headlines that sound like keywords and do not offer any emotional triggers. Adopt personas for your keyword-ing, just like basic user testing for UI/UX. Why are we marketing? We’re trying to create biases so that even if people don’t buy your stuff right away, they’ll remember you.
Killer stuff, Larry!
We want to be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys. If you haven’t figured it out by now: donkeys are crappy headlines.
Mark Traphagen Presents Success By Design: Content That Builds Both Brand And SEO
Traphagen sums it all up, succinctly.
This presentation was my jam, and the rest of Express Writers felt the same way.
Here are our 2 top takeaways from listening to Mark Traphagen:
1. Don’t forget the basics of building strong content
Taking an analytic approach to your content and SEO can make a huge difference, which is something I don’t think about, and I really should. For example, one backlink from one major news site to a competitor’s site caused a huge ranking change. Using a backlink moved them to #2 slot in SERP.
First and foremost – keep in mind basics like that.
Now, for the fun part.
2. You must create content for listeners, shares, and linkers
Your content has to be 10x better than anything your competitors are doing, WITH strategic links. You’d be surprised to know that the vast majority of content gets neither links nor shares, and that your shares don’t mean that people are actually paying attention to the content. I’m sure you’ve encountered this on your social media journies – people read the headline and scrap the rest. No correlation between social shares and actual links, which means there isn’t any SEO/traffic value.
How do you break through this dead end? You have to do something unique and target it to whom it matters. Very good content is no longer enough. ELITE content is where you should focus your efforts. Understand that your audience is early adopters and innovators, and that your content should be for listeners, shares and linkers.
Yes. Throw “good content” out the window. Our culture at Express Writers really ties into this. If you look through our Expert Niche Category in the Content Shop, one vertical we’ve been working on heavily this year is introducing high-level copy to our leads. Everyone, we believe, should be investing in expert copy these days if they really want their brand to stand out.
Elite content is the key, and you need to know how to share it. (Mark’s SEJ presentation really ties into the podcast Julia did this month with Mark! Listen in here on the Write Podcast, E17.)
Keesa Schreane Presents Inspired Marketing: How To Leverage Emotions In SEO
Keesa Schreane, Senior Manager, Marketing at Thomson Reuters, spoke on this cool topic.
The big phrase here is the THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MARKETING. Yes! I have a degree in this! This presentation focuses on service oriented marketing, using the relevancy of the Girl Scouts as the baseline. They’re still relevant after 100+ years, and that’s because every single little girl feels good about the work they put into the organization. If the customers and shareholders can see themselves in a brand, that’s good. That’s what we’re striving for.
Apple is built on the same platform. If you bought one of the first iPhones, you saw yourself as being an early adopter and a member of a community. People saw themselves in the brand. We desire ASSOCIATION. We desire that others are aware of our needs.
However, not only do you have to understand your own industry, but you also have to understand your customers’ industries. For example, with Express Writers, I have learned to become aware of the needs of the facility managers’ industry for one of my clients. I’ve learned the complexities of what these managers need to know for their job, and through that, I am able to develop a more understanding social media experience for them.
When we’re designing content and SEO strategy, we need to make our clients aware of the fact that we care.
Then, put yourself in your client’s shoes. Do you want a relationship with me, or just a sale? Do you appreciate me? Identify your clients’ needs and let them know that you need their support. Let them know that you are willing to learn about their industry and build a more robust relationship. Understand who your customer is and who they aspire to be. Authentically appreciate them, and ask them questions.
A-MAZING content, Keesa!
Takeaway from Keesa’s presentation:
Try to understand marketing as the balance between being passionate about your own product and figuring out how to get other people passionate about it, too. You want to welcome others into your world, and make them want to stick around for the long haul. Understand your clients’ needs and how you can fit them with your own.
PSYCHOLOGY! Or, the time my degree actually came in handy.
PSA: I left before a few final sessions and an AMA, but Kelsey Jones at Search Engine Journal has those covered on their recap, which you can catch on SEJ here. Check out all the presentations on SEJ’s SlideShare.
Conclusion: The SEJ Summit Was an Amazing Conference!
And that’s my journey at SEJ Summit. As a psychology major, persona studies were an amazing revelation for my ability to connect with clients. For me, understanding who the customer is key. AMP and algorithms might be the tech team’s sweet spot more than mine, but the user experience on the outside is just as important as the back-end workings that you don’t always see.
Krystal is a creative writer and Social Media Expert at Express Writers. Want to have her write YOUR content? Buy custom expert copy in the Content Shop and request her!
Krystal is a Social Media Expert at Express Writers.
REALITY CHECK! It’s 2016.
If you have a pulse, you’ll know that door-to-door salesmen aren’t around anymore. We’ve all become proverbial Biff Lomans, haven’t we?
And yet, once we follow our dreams and get our businesses up and running… we realize that the old way of doing things is dead. Whenever I see company reps standing on street corners trying to pitch their newest subscription-based products, I wonder what the turnaround is for that.
Don’t they know?
This is the age of social media! It’s faster and more effective to get your message out with RTs and shares than leaving some poor young man dressed in an apron on the street, hawking down college students. (If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. But I digress.)
I’m online. You’re online. Our dads and cousins and people we knew in elementary school are online, consuming products and services and letting their social circles know about awesome experiences they’ve had with company X, Y, and Z.
It’s the age of social advertising, where your customers are your greatest marketing tool. If you have great, shareable content, and know an effective way of pushing it out, the rest of the work is pretty much done for you.
Of course, if it were as simple as that, I wouldn’t need to write this blog post guide for you. Social media is more than just the sum of its parts — you need to know how to manipulate those parts to your advantage.
That means understanding how each social media platform comes into play when you’re trying to reach a specific audience, whether it means changing your tone for that platform or adding/omitting a platform, depending on who you’re trying to reach.
Think about who uses social media in your life. If you’re a social media professional, chances are you use social media in your personal life.
What do people always say? Oh yeah, some complaint about their mom seeing a post they made on Facebook. And do you know why? Moms are on Facebook! (and dads, too.)
From personal experience, my mom got as far as setting up a Twitter account and stopped there. I’m all about using intuition when it comes to social media advertising, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a frame of understanding about each of the top three social media platforms.
Social Advertising Basics 101: How to Get Business Traction, Succeed & Win on Social Media
Let’s start by looking at how to use my three favorite (and the top hottest) platforms to work with as a social media manager: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Organic, real-people-friendly tips here only!
1. How To Succeed On Twitter
It’s true: Twitter is the cool kids’ table
In my private social media presence, Twitter definitely feels like the cool kids’ playground table. Indeed, the majority of Twitter users are from urban areas.
It’s where I hang out with celebs, complain to airlines about my 4 hour delay, and lose my geek mind over social media presences like Arby’s as they make nerdy video game references that touch my very heart and soul.
Awesome to see the humans behind the big businesses. (They’re nerds just like me)
Twitter is instant gratification, and instant reach
With the instantaneous nature of gratification and reach in mind, as a marketer, you want to keep some of these same perks in mind when you’re trying to use Twitter to your advantage.
Use Twitter to connect to your industry in a fast and productive way; it’s also an easy way to learn who follows who in what ever niche community you and your business belongs to. Or, you could be playful and engage over businesses and customers in friendly banter. I see it all the time from very well known businesses (especially in the book industry — I’m looking at you and your book banter, Penguin Random House!)
Twitter facilitates fast-paced conversations
But doesn’t Facebook provide the same sort of interaction, you ask? On the contrary! Twitter is like having a conversation, whereas Facebook can sometimes seem more like forum posting. People refer back to Facebook statuses for information and conversation, whereas Twitter is much more fast-paced.
Want to be hot on Twitter? Build your own chat
With Twitter, you can even start your own hashtag chats easily amongst those in the industry, whether it is other companies or customers/fans (or future customers!). Chances are, the followers of the people engaging in your chat are going to take note of those hashtag remarks and may poke their heads into the conversation to see what’s going on. Bam! A new follower of your brand is born.
Join a few chats (we have a list of 25 on Social Media Examiner, and our own #ContentWritingChat hosted by @ExpWriters)—and then consider being a cool brand that starts their own! Want some inspiration? Check out Applebee’s or Corner Bakery Café and see what they’re doing on Twitter—it’s genius.
2. How to Succeed on Facebook
A TOLKIEN AND A HALF-LIFE REFERENCE IN ONE POST? *joyous hair pulling*
Be about them, not you
Facebook is a different audience and a different culture of communication than Twitter. While Facebook’s user base is largely adults, the volume of user total as a whole is staggering. You want to make use of all of those users out there and be a responsible Facebook poster. That means posting conversationally.
Remember — you want to get your information out there, but you don’t want to sound like a commercial spam bot.
You want to have a conversation with your audience in a singular space, and that’s your status for the day.
Engagement isn’t as high as other platforms
For the most part, businesses don’t respond to comments on their Facebook unless someone has a question or a complaint. It’s a space for customers to engage each other, but I don’t see the same level of interaction with brands on Facebook like I do on Twitter.
3. How to Succeed on Instagram
u ok Tony?
The newest member of the Social Marketing Band, Instagram is a great way to reach out to your customers if you’ve got great product to show off.
Good visuals go far
Since Instagram is a visual medium, keeping your wording to a minimum on your images is key. Surely, your company name and the name of the product can go on there, but don’t write an essay on your image and expect it to resonate with people. Show off that sexy Mustang concept car! Entice with photo edits of your cupcakes!
Don’t forget filters
What ever it is you’re selling, show it off to the world with an appropriate filter. Black and white can make things look timeless and classy, but if you’ve got something to show off that’s colorful, it stands to reason that you’ll want a filter that’ll bring those colors out without blinding your audience. It’s also a great way to draw attention to a blog post or an event.
Hashtags are key
And don’t forget your hashtags. Instagram helps you figure out which hashtags will actually be helpful to you by telling you how many posts are tagged with the hashtag that you’re trying to use. That’ll help you clean up your post and not have ten hashtags that are worthless on your Instagram. 30 is the max you can add, and anywhere from 15-20 is a sweet spot. PostPlanner has an awesome list of 25 best hashtags here.
No One Likes Ads: Staying Grassroots Could Mean A Bigger Win
Folks, you can do anything with money. Even boost your online presence. All of these platforms have ad service that you can buy into to increase your exposure.
My dead-honest opinion of that is in this day and age, no one likes ads.
Doesn’t matter if it’s your mom or a millennial. As soon as people see that *sponsored* footnote on your post, alarms go off.
That’s not to say that using ad services can’t help you reach a community that you think you’re just not getting exposed to, but I firmly believe in the grassroots approach to social advertising.
That’s creating great content, using your platforms smartly, and engaging with the online community. After all, you can’t put the “social” in “social advertising” without being a bit of a social butterfly.
Remember — you’re not on social media JUST to post about yourself.
What’s going on in your neighborhood? Your city? Your industry? Keep people engaged and thankful for your presence by bringing them into YOUR world. For this reason, I think Twitter is my favorite platform. It allows for the greatest possibility of expanding customer loyalty through social advertising and communication.
While I definitely love Facebook because of its exceptional reachability and the ability to format longer posts, I’ve fallen in love with more businesses through Twitter, both as a user and as a professional.
Don’t be afraid to check out the accounts you love and try to emulate their style — if you can pull it off, and if it makes sense for your business. If you’re selling product to an older age bracket, you might not want to reference Caturday or Sephiroth in your social media posts. Always keep your demographic in mind.
And don’t forget, as always… use images when you can! Instagram is obvious when it comes to this rule, but as far as Twitter and Facebook goes, a catchy image will make your status pop off of someone’s timeline and into their eyeballs. I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way of putting that, but I do enjoy getting right to the point.
Conclusion: Don’t Overdo Your Hashtags
Listen, I’ve had a bit of an awakening when it comes to hashtags. I really don’t like them. I think they’re vital on platforms like Instagram, but Twitter’s and Facebook’s algorithms have changed in such a way that they capture key words without actually needing hashtags. I think having more than one or two hashtags ends up looking pretty tacky and outdated these days. But that’s just me.
What do you think? I’d love your feedback on this one! Let me know in the comments.
For creatively ingenious social media copy and posting, request our social media experts (ask for our amazing Krystal!) in the Content Shop.
As a social media account manager, I have a lot of tools at my disposal.
I organize all of my social media posts for Express Writers in Excel, which makes it easy to categorize and date all of my posts (not to mention, archive them. This is important to a packrat like me).
Google is my best friend (who can’t say that?) when it comes to research.
I even have a notebook that I take notes in for client work, whether it’s jotting down ideas for social media posts or thumbnails for graphics.
That brings me to my next point.
Social media isn’t simply words on a timeline, though it’s what I do best. The internet is a sensory, tactile place, and sometimes words just aren’t enough to grab your reader’s eye off the page of their quickly-scrolling dashboard.
Canva & a Non-Designer’s Perspective: Why It’s the Best Visual Tool for A Social Media Account Manager
If your business is having a special event, a sale, or perhaps there’s something new in stock, how do you grab your followers’ attention?
A quirky pun or a one-liner, definitely. But it’s still just words on a page.
First and foremost, I’ll come clean. I’ll admit it: I really suck at Photoshop. I majored in art in high school, did a year stunt at an art college, but only did fine art. At times I would use Photoshop to draw or do some very minor color correcting, but overall, I hated it. I sucked at it. It was never intuitive for me, and I’m impatient when it comes to ui/ux, especially when it comes to the creative process. I need to get it out of my head and onto paper/a computer ASAP or else it just feels… cluttered. You know what I mean, right? (…Right?)
So when it came to professional gigs where I HAD to produce some sort of graphic with my copy, Photoshop (don’t even get me started on Illustrator) had me scrambling to produce something eye-catching that didn’t take me 4 online tutorials and 5 hours of putzing around the application to complete.
That’s where Canva comes in.
How to Create Images (Pre-Sized for the Right Platforms) On Canva
Admittedly, I had never really heard of Canva until I started working for Express Writers. I’d heard some of my designer friends talking about it and figured it was something else that would be way over my head, but now I would have to use it. Canva was EW’s choice app for making images for their clients’ social media.
When I signed up for Canva (which involved my favorite 4-letter word: FREE), I knew right away that I was in a good place.
Check it out! There’s presets for sizing your different social media images. No more Googling “PLEASE GOOGLE WHAT SIZE IS PERFECT FOR INSTAGRAM?!” or keeping a list next to your computer.
Let’s say I want to make an Instagram post for my client. I just click INSTAGRAM POST (self-explanatory, right?) and…
BAM – there it is, in all its 1080px x 1080px glory.
Now you can see its defaulted to the LAYOUTS category, which kicks butt. Canva has a ton of free presets for eye-catching graphics that will draw the eye of your customers.
You can even tweak the presets to include your own personal touch, whether it’s adding your own stock imagery to the background or tweaking the font.
Canva has a ton of preloaded fonts at your disposal, from the stuffy kind to the rustic kind. Fonts can be rustic, right?
Want to really start from scratch? Head on down to the ELEMENTS tab. You can build your own image with grids and frames if you have an idea that the presets just won’t fulfill.
From there, add text, lines, images, and shapes. There’s even an option to append all of Canva’s free images that you simply drag and drop into your creation.
But not to worry – that UPLOAD tag is just for you to do just that with your images.
Can’t find an image that would work for your creation?
The search bar is great for looking through Canva’s entire catalogue, which includes some paid content. PAID is definitely not my favorite four letter word, but the images are only $1 each.
And the best part? Canva has filters for your images. Yes, you Instagram junkie – you can make your images more dynamic without the pressure of knowing how to use layers in Photoshop with Canva.
Drop saturation, up contrast, even use preset filters like “Retro” and “Epic” (I use this one often) to get the mood you want out of an image.
Here’s something quick that I put together for a client. The social media post itself was about their customer service reviews, with a link to the testimonials section of their site. Now, that text by itself might not get you to stop scrolling and click that link. But the image, with its warm colors and engaging text, as well as an active model in the stock photo, might draw your attention. It’s all about finding ways to attract attention to your client’s brand in a natural way.
Here’s my Canva homepage.
You can see some of the images I’ve created here and how diverse they are. I’ve managed to capture the mood of each client without spending a ton of time trying to create the perfect image.
I can do a Canva image in ten minutes and devote the rest of my time to doing more research for the client, or brainstorming more copy for their social media.
IF YOU REALLY NEED A STARTING POINT, I highly recommend these tutorials: https://designschool.canva.com/tutorials/
They’ll give you some great tips for using Canva (though it really is very user-friendly) and greatly touches upon one of the most important things to remember about creating images:
KEEP IT SIMPLE!
If you load your image with too much text, shapes, lines, and frames, it’s a turn-off for the customer’s brain. The simpler an image is the more professional it looks. It shows that you’ve put real thought into building your image instead of throwing elements onto the canvas willy-nilly.
Got any tips of your own? Please feel free to let me know in the comments!
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