Do you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social media feeds? If you’re between the ages of 14 and 65, there’s a good chance you were scrolling right before you started reading this blog post! But, eventually, we stop scrolling. Whether we want a closer look or actually engage with the content, we’re most likely stopping because of the image we saw. A great visual leaves us wanting more and inspires our own work.
If you’re anxious about posting photos to your social media channels, here’s the good news: The basics are easy to learn and remember. And you should definitely learn them, because utilizing quality photos is key to creating engaging content, whether for your business or personal profiles. Fear not — we have tips to help you get started.
Use a good quality camera.
Whether you’re using a cell phone camera or DSLR, make sure it has the capacity to take high-quality photos. Newer iPhones and Androids have the specs to take desirable photos, but if you’re still rocking that Moto RAZR from 2004, we’ve got mad respect for you… but it might be time for a new phone.
Hold the phone steady.
Another easy tip. Unless you’re trying to capture a photo of the Blair Witch, there’s no reason for excessive camera shake. Your photo will always come out blurry (see below). But this is avoidable! Invest in an inexpensive tripod to help, which will also be useful in low-light situations.
Let there be light.
Speaking of light, find a light source and use it. If you’re in a poorly lit area and all you have is your cell phone, it’s going to be tough to capture a properly exposed shot. This is where that aforementioned tripod comes in handy — but always move to better lighting if you can.
Use the Rule of Thirds to help compose your shot.
Pro-tip: Justify your subject to the left or right of your photo to make it more visually appealing. This is a good rule to follow, but remember: All photography rules are meant to be broken. Speaking of which…
Symmetry is awesome, so use it!
For some scientific reason, humans are naturally drawn to the beauty of symmetry, and you can find it almost anywhere — in a cool building, out in nature or even in a mirror! Taking an engaging photo is all about finding balance, and that’s exactly what symmetry offers.
Perspective is everything.
If a subject looks boring to you, move yourself around. By simply shifting positioning and shooting angles, you can turn the most mundane photo into something striking and original. If you don’t look like the guy below, you’re doing it wrong.
Focus on your subject.
No, seriously. It sounds obvious, but always make sure your camera is in focus. And if your cell phone camera has a portrait mode function, try it out! This mode gives a nice, artificial bokeh effect to certain shots that can sometimes rival a DSLR. But be wary – it’s far from perfect.
If you’re using a cell phone camera, avoid the zoom.
Whenever you zoom in on a subject using your phone’s camera, high-quality pictures become a lot harder to take. Zooming means dealing with pixelated images, more camera shake, lack of detail, etc. It’s best to just use the zooming device you were born with to get in closer (yes, I’m talking about your legs).
When in doubt, keep it simple.
If your photo has too much going on, it can confuse the viewer and downplay the importance of your subject. For example, there’s always a lot happening at speaking or networking events. Instead of getting a boring shot of the whole room, try focusing more on individual interactions to breathe some life into otherwise stale photos. See a few examples below from an event Candor recently covered.
Ask other people what they think about your photos.
You might not always like what you hear, but getting constructive feedback is an important part of getting better.
Are you ready to start taking photos? These tips will put you on the right path, but the professionals at Candor are always around to offer more advice, cover events or even deliver trainings. Send us an email if you have something on your mind! We’d love to help.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. It’s evening. Dinner has been made or bought. You’ve got roughly two hours to kill before you should be in bed. For just a moment, you consider doing something productive.
Then you remember you have a phone. A laptop. Netflix. Literally anything you want to watch for the next few hours is a click away. Plus, you haven’t scrolled through social media enough today.
For the next seven hours, you’re simultaneously absorbing as much as you can from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, all while vaguely listening to a group of weirdly qualified kids try to defeat a demogorgon in rural Indiana on Stranger Things.
You may be reading this blog solely because you saw the link to it on social media while doing something else.
That means I’ve done my job. And I guarantee this isn’t the only thing you’ve clicked on while you were scrolling. Somewhere between the seventh photo of a newborn and the 28th I-promise-you-I’m-having-fun selfie, you saw something from a local business that caught your eye. That is the holy grail for a local business’s social media presence. They don’t need you to see every piece of content; they just need you to see the right content.
You’re probably sick of being targeted with ads. Social media pros get it. But with the way social media has evolved, that’s the primary way to be seen. Here are a few local brands worth following — they do social media the right way.
Facebook has made it increasingly difficult for brands to stand out. The platform prioritizes posts from friends and family over organic content from businesses. If an organization doesn’t have an advertising budget, frustration levels can run through the roof because posts aren’t getting the reach or engagement they deserve. But brands can fight back.
Facebook prioritizes video over graphics or text-based posts. And if it’s a Facebook Live video, that’s even better. Facebook will curate an interested audience and push your video to the top of newsfeeds.
In Oklahoma City, one organization stands out for getting seen.
Oklahoma City is getting more impressive every day, and the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau does a fantastic job showcasing growth and revitalization. In the past month and a half, @VisitOKC has created nine videos on a myriad of topics, including planning the perfect girls’ getaway, finding adventure indoors and a series of five things to try around the city.
Those nine videos have garnered over 88,000 video views.
Here’s something to remember: You don’t have to be a professional videographer to create quality video on Facebook. Use your phone. Use your camera. It may take some practice, but you can improve your engagement rate through video.
Candor gets asked a lot whether every brand should have a presence on Twitter. If content fits a target audience and someone has the resources to run Twitter correctly, it makes a lot of sense. But a great Twitter handle doesn’t mean scheduling out a few tweets a week and never checking responses. Twitter is all about engaging with brand advocates (and even haters). If mentions and messages aren’t getting blown up, then you should be tracking relevant keywords and responding to conversations.
One Oklahoma City brand has really stepped up its Twitter game.
This indie bookstore hasn’t even celebrated its one-year anniversary, but it has already made a huge impact. Showing traditional Oklahoma hospitality, Commonplace welcomes visitors with open arms. On my first visit, I was greeted as soon as I entered and treated like a family member. Ben offered a tour, a coffee and I met who I believed to be his young daughter (who happened to be the one who rang up my purchase). On my most recent visit, I was offered a mimosa, my books to be gift wrapped and a few minutes of cuddles with Boz (the giant shop dog).
Commonplace carries its one-for-all persona to Twitter by constantly engaging with followers and reaching out to other local businesses. Twitter is all about showing the human side of a brand and making the audience feel welcomed. Commonplace does Twitter the right way.
If an organization doesn’t have engaging visuals to share, then it probably shouldn’t be on Instagram. That’s why the best Instagram feeds often belong to restaurants, retail shops and friends who travel.
But what if you don’t have enough engaging content to last through most weeks? That’s where UGC (user-generated content) comes in handy. That means sharing/posting content created by other users. This could be a follower sharing a picture of something from your store, food selfies from your restaurant, etc. It’s an easy way to deliver content without putting in a lot of effort. According to Social Media Today, UGC has a 4.5 percent higher conversion rate than regular posts.
The ultimate Instagram goal, however, is being able to package UGC with interesting, original content. Several OKC brands do this well, but one really rises above the rest.
Specializing in locally crafted apparel and quirky home furnishings, Blue Seven has become a local favorite for stylin’ wardrobes and secret Santa gifts. The Blue Seven team has enough interesting material in their store to create several quality posts per day. But having great material to work with isn’t enough: Brands must craft great posts. Look at these photos:
You might assume a professional photographer came in and took all these photos. The lighting, the placement, the editing — everything is spot-on. I want to buy literally everything they post about. I can’t be the only person that feels that way, either. Great job, Blue Seven. Now take my money.
I had a good career in journalism. My experience should make me an expert at spotting fake news. But the proliferation of information on social media means it’s challenging for anyone to decipher fact from fiction.
I have seen too many Facebook posts go viral, garnering thousands of angry comments, only to discover the story was bogus or repurposed from years ago.
Once, I was shocked to read about feces floating off the Hawaii beaches where my family lives. When I shared the story with my relatives, my direct sources discounted the stories.
Unfortunately, nobody can count on having a personal connection to verify or refute everything she reads. But if general users spent more time digging a little deeper and less time recklessly reposting, online angst might not ignite into a digital wildfire so often.
Facebook has joined the fight. The world’s dominant social network now offers an “educational tool” to weed fake news from current events. The company changed its algorithm to reduce the spread of bogus articles designed to deceive people. However, there is only so much social media platforms can do to identify fabricated stories. Readers must take proactive steps.
Here are five ways to find the facts:
1. Read beyond the headline
A new study reports only four in 10 Americans read more than news headlines. But readers must do more than skim the top if they want to know what’s really going on. Reading several paragraphs — perhaps even a full story! — will help them spot misleading or incomplete headlines. They will also learn more about where information came from, which can help determine if it’s true.
2. Verify the source
Factcheck.org is a valuable resource to filter out false information from reality. Informed readers must stay up to date on a changing media landscape. It can be easy for small groups to publish professional-looking sites with no credibility, so readers must have their guard up. When people see a site with an unfamiliar name, they must ask a few questions, starting with, “Have I ever heard of this source before?” People should also read the website’s About Us section, double check the URL and see if anyone else is reporting the news.
3. Use multiple resources
Google News added a “Fact Check” tag to identify articles reviewed by news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Chrome extensions are another resource for technology to flag fake news sites.
4. Reframe the picture
Does a photo in the story look fake or seem unlikely? Dig deeper. Upload, drag and drop an image into Google Image to find the image’s origin. Many fake news stories, especially after disasters, take images from movies or previous events and pass them off as current.
5. Don’t take information at face value
Sometimes the news posted online is not new. The information presented is often misrepresented and outdated. Snopes.com has been a reliable reference exposing misinformation and myths for decades. Research the rumors, check the publication date and carefully inspect the domain name to shun out the satires.
Everyone bemoans what mobile technology has done to personal interactions. But who would really give up their devices? Our pocket computers provide many advantages – including deepening our connections with loved ones – and someone without a digital connection would miss out on too much of the modern world.
The desire for connection creates challenges and opportunities for brands. When brands try to reach an audience, they must compete with millions of other companies, celebrities, friends and loved ones, cute animals, mainstream news sources and verbose politicians.
To break through, successful organizations need to find ways to make emotional connections with the audience, rather than just providing information.
One great way to make sure content – especially on social media – feels authentic is to imagine speaking to a real person. When I worked in internal communications, a conference speaker reminded people not to write for a generic group such as “fellow employees.” She suggested picturing someone specific, like Carol in accounting, or John from IT. Writing as if I were sending an email to a coworker helped me keep things simple and clear.
Brands must also remember what the audience wants. People who have already taken the time to like a Twitter account or follow on Facebook have demonstrated an interest in a product or service. They want information about upcoming events and new offerings. But to build trust and loyalty, users must sense a real person on the other side of the screen with real emotions – and perhaps a sense of humor. Nobody wants to read dry, corporate copy; so don’t write it.
Listening truly sets people apart on social media. Traditional media relied on “we say, they listen” communication; the technology required it. Too many organizations act as if things still work that way. They Tweet or post on Facebook without a plan for the next step. Anything interesting online draws shares, likes, comments and reviews. We recommend group organizations designate a person, process and culture for responding quickly and consistently. It’s the key to being seen as more than self-promotional.
Candor doesn’t believe any of this is easy. Making every follower feel as if they’re the center of attention may be the greatest communication challenge we have. But when organizations set authentic connections as the goal, they take a huge leap toward generating a loyal, passionate audience.
Candor recently helped a client open a new location. They wanted to generate buzz and excitement.
In the past, we would have suggested blowing up some balloons, ordering a backdrop and a podium. Then, we would hope the press showed up for our news conference (maybe we’d even let them know there would be cookies).
Now, we have much better ways to share big developments.
1) Own the Content – We didn’t wait for reporters to spread the news. Instead, we turned carefully crafted talking points and Q&A materials into blogs, news releases, etc. and posted them to the company’s website.
Along with those tactics, brands can share content on social media channels. Send a digital newsletter.
Basically, we took control of spreading the message, rather than waiting to see if TV stations and newspapers would do the job.
Brand bonus: Allocate a budget for social media advertising to amplify the message to your target audience.
2) Go Live – We also grabbed a mobile phone and broadcast the grand opening live. Hundreds of people watched in real-time, and the video ultimately reached thousands of people. We also interviewed the client on-site and posted the mobile video later in the day.
Facebook and Instagram have launched incredibly successful live video functions. These broadcasts are unedited, authentic and in the moment – which is exactly how most people prefer their content. This tactic also accommodates understaffed newsrooms. Reporters under tight deadlines may be more likely to watch the announcement on their computer rather than traveling to the event.
Brand bonus: Have a staff member play reporter. He or she can pose questions to leadership, give a tour of a new facility or demonstrate the newest product.
3) Tweet About It – In addition to the client’s other channels, we posted to Twitter throughout the day regarding the announcement and grand opening activities. Many reporters use Twitter as a resource to gather information and story ideas, and we generated additional coverage with a few posts and photos.
We issued a press statement in 140-character chunks. Today’s news consumer has a shorter attention span, and many get their news while scrolling through feeds in their spare moments. This change is scary, but it represents the future of our society and presents new opportunities for engaged brands to take control of the narrative.
Brand bonus: Include short videos or creative infographics online to increase interest and social media engagement.
Ultimately, we were successful with our client’s celebration because we didn’t focus on doing things the way they used to be done.
There are many innovative tactics companies can use to share information and announcements with the public instead of relying on traditional media. With new ways to create content, brands must take advantage of digital media channels and rethink their old communication plans to reach audiences and goals.
The average user in the U. S. checks Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts at least 17 times a day, and that includes your employees. Nearly every business uses social media, and it’s more critical than ever to make sure company employees are helping rather than destroying the brand.
Social media is an essential marketing tool for positioning a business in a positive light. It can also ruin a reputation in a heartbeat. How does an organization ensure its staff has the skills and intuition to handle themselves online without putting the company at risk?
Anyone can post a photo or a comment. It takes training and practice to understand how to gain user engagement and create brand awareness. Whether working for a large corporation, small business or nonprofit, employees must use social media responsibly for three reasons:
1: Brand protection
In a matter of seconds, a bad social media post can tarnish a good reputation that took years to build. Setting expectations about what is appropriate to post, communicating those guidelines and helping your staff understand the company’s goals will protect the brand.
2: Brand engagement
Encourage employees to promote the company’s brand in their social networks. The staff is likely already using social media to stay on top of industry trends and connect with co-workers, clients or prospects. More likes, comments and shares will generate more views and greater engagement on official posts.
3: Brand ambassadors
Buy-in from employees can help drive brand loyalty; the most credible source of advertising is word-of-mouth. Eighty-three percent of consumers believe brand recommendations from family and friends, according to a Nielsen survey. Training an employee to positively promote products, services or community actions can be one of the best ways to generate brand awareness and possible business leads.
So, how do you go about social media training?
Sometimes all it takes is a one-hour workshop to bring your employees up to speed on your marketing plans; however, a brand brief, style guide and social media policy book are helpful resources to create. Candor has extensive experience hosting interactive workshops with business leaders and employees to teach social media best practices.
Even though the NBA’s regular season ended last Sunday with the Cleveland Cavaliers becoming world champions, the NBA offseason is just beginning. Now is the time to look forward to the NBA Draft coming up on Thursday (June 23) and the mayhem that is NBA free agency (starting July 1). And, of course, what would the NBA offseason be without a few ridiculous articles? Whether you like it or not, social media has become a huge part of the NBA. Nick Young, aka “Swaggy P,” has over 2.2 million Instagram followers. Stephen Curry’s wife just got into hot water for her untimely tweet during the Finals. From players to players’ families, from journalists to fans, social media has become a necessity in terms of interaction, engagement and education when talking about the NBA.
Here at Candor, working on social media campaigns and handling social media crises (like Ayesha Curry’s aforementioned tweet) are things we do on a daily basis. Because social media is so integral to the NBA, we wanted to take it to another level: What if NBA superstarswere actually social media platforms? This is for digital marketers and business owners that want to know a little more about social media network characteristics, and for NBA fans that really like personification. Let’s see who made the cut.
Facebook: LeBron James
Facebook is by far the most globally dominant social media network. As of April 2016, Facebook became the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts and currently rests at 1.59 billion active monthly users. It could be argued that the Facebook comparison belongs to Stephen Curry considering he has taken LeBron’s throne for most global jersey sales. Curry’s flashy ball-handling, off-the-charts shooting ability and palatable, yet cocksure demeanor have made him the face of the NBA over the last two seasons. He has become Pitbull. He’s Mr. Worldwide.
However, anyone who watched the NBA Finals saw LeBron is still clearly the best player in the world. And much like LeBron, Facebook is quite polarizing in terms of popularity, but it’s still the unquestioned leader of the pack. As the demographic for Facebook grows, we can’t help but be reminded this is LeBron’s thirteenth year in the league (he turns 32 this year!). And much like Facebook, LeBron has been consistently dominant over the last 10 years. According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, 56 percent of all adults over age 65 use Facebook (compared to 21 percent on LinkedIn and just 10 percent on Twitter). Like a fine wine, both Facebook and LeBron are getting better with age.
But let’s take this a step further than dominance and age: Let’s talk about advertising. Facebook makes a killing off of social advertising revenues, routinely eating up two-thirds of the social ad market (which is roughly $15 billion/per year). We have to remember LeBron may not lead in jersey sales anymore, but he still remains the king of advertising. According to Forbes, LeBron is making $48 million in endorsements this season. That’s $12 million more than the next guy (Kevin Durant) and $36 million more than Curry.
LeBron IS Facebook.
Snapchat: Stephen Curry
If LeBron is Facebook, then Curry has to be Snapchat, which is quickly becoming Facebook’s biggest rival. Snapchat now receives over 10 billion video views per day, which has surpassed Facebook’s stranglehold over video engagement. You can liken this to Curry surpassing LeBron in jersey sales, I suppose, but two things really stand out when comparing Curry to Snapchat: money and usability. Let’s start with the money.
Curry is currently signed on to the NBA’s most financially hilarious contract: four years/$44 million. He made just over $11 million this season, which made him the 54th highest-paid player in the NBA. That’s right, the back-to-back NBA MVP wasn’t even in the top 50 in terms of salary. That will all change after next season when Curry becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Warriors lowballed Curry back in 2013, but will have to reach deep into their pockets to keep him around next year. Another deal happened (or at least tried to happen) back in 2013 that sounds awfully similar: After losing the engagement from its teenage audience, Facebook offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion. At the time, that number seemed ridiculously high, but knowing now that Snapchat’s approximate value is $20 billion, the offer definitely screams lowball. If Facebook ever wants to keep Snapchat in its back pocket, it’s going to have to shell out a lot of money.
Next, let’s talk about the usability of Snapchat. While it started as a photo app, video has really become the driving force of its user engagement. Anyone can send up-to-10 second clips of anything they want to their friends, and then it’s (assumedly) gone. Snapchat is the perfect comparison for Curry because his on-the-court highlights were seemingly made for the platform. In 10 seconds or less, Curry can dribble across half court, crossover two defenders and nail a contested 40-foot jumper. It all happens so fast, and he’s gone (back down the court) before the ball ever gets to the goal.
Twitter: Draymond Green
Why would the social network with the easiest engagement functionality NOT be the league’s most hated trash-talker? You can confront whomever you please in seconds on Twitter. This makes trash-talking easier for the world’s keyboard warriors. At times, it’s almost like reading the comments section of controversial articles. Draymond Green made his presence felt (with his mouth, foot and hand) throughout the playoffs, which led to a suspension in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. And what was the go-to social media channel to talk about his suspension? Twitter. I can almost guarantee if he hadn’t been fined numerous times already, Green would have been right there on Twitter complaining with the rest of the Golden State fans.
LinkedIn: Kevin Durant
This is the summer of Kevin Durant. The lanky small forward who many deem as one of the top three basketball players in the world is finally a free agent. Though the consensus pick is for KD to return to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a short-term deal, that doesn’t mean he won’t have many recruiters blowing up his phone come July. That, more than anything else, makes LinkedIn Durant’s social media counterpart.
LinkedIn is the quintessential networking platform when it comes to job hunting. However, while Durant’s inbox might be flooded, his decision may ultimately be to just hit ignore and stay with his current gig. So forget the anticipation, because this is going to be pretty boring – a feeling LinkedIn users know all too well.
Pinterest: Russell Westbrook
The NBA’s most notorious fashionista has to be soulmates with Pinterest. Whether you love or hate his style, Westbrook’s passion for fashion is on another level compared to other NBA players (and really everyone else, too).
For now, Westbrook will continue flashing his inner-Pinterest nightly in the NBA, turning each pre-game arena arrival into his own personal catwalk.
Instagram: James Harden
Instagram has grown rapidly over the last few years, going from a network primarily used for selfies to a social media powerhouse with over 500 million active users per month. However, the latest update to its algorithm has many users complaining. Like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is changing from a chronological, most-recent-post-first feed to an algorithmic feed, which means users will only see the most relevant content from accounts they follow. As of March 2016, the average amount of a newsfeed Instagram users missed was already 70 percent. This new change should result in an even higher percentage.
So, why is Harden’s social media counterpart Instagram? Like the increasingly popular photo app, Harden’s rise in popularity and prowess has grown rapidly. Ever since his departure from the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden has served as the Houston Rockets’ number one option, made the NBA All-Star game four times, been named to the All-NBA First Team twice and finished as the runner-up to Stephen Curry in 2015 as the league MVP. However, despite finishing this past season with career highs in points, rebounds and assists, Harden failed to finish in the top five for MVP voting and didn’t make the cut on any All-NBA team. What changed? The Rockets had a lot of internal problems that ultimately made them hard to watch. They changed their game plan (see: algorithm), which left fans (see: users) wanting more. If that doesn’t convince you, then let’s liken the inability to see at least 70 percent of your newsfeed to Harden’s inability to see 70 percent of the floor when he’s playing defense. Like Instagram, that number is going to get even higher when another change comes (see: Dwight Howard’s likely departure). If THAT doesn’t convince you, here’s a fun stat: There are over 175 million Instagram posts associated with the #food hashtag. Needless to say, Instagram is a foodie’s paradise. Have you ever seen Harden’s popular celebration? No doubt he’s a foodie.
YouTube is still a powerhouse among social networks thanks to its one billion users and roughly four billion video views per day. Generally, when you want to watch basketball highlights, YouTube is the first place you’ll go. Griffin’s highlights are other-worldly, but that’s not what makes his social media counterpart YouTube – it’s his comfortability for being on screen. If you didn’t know him as Blake Griffin the basketball star, you might know him as that tall funny guy in those KIA commercials. When his career is over, he might want to look into becoming a YouTube star.
Just a few years ago, Google+ was seen as one of the top social media networks in the world. Now? Google+ only has four to six million active users per month. It’s become a bother to work with, and many question the importance of keeping it around. If that doesn’t sound like the plight of Dwight Howard’s career, I’m not sure what does. Just four years ago, Howard was seen as the most dominant big man since Shaquille O’Neal (and it was hard to argue). However, after playing with a few ball-dominant shooting guards (Kobe Bryant, James Harden), Howard’s numbers slipped as he faded away from the spotlight.
Now, it’s 2016 and Howard is a free agent again. While he’s no longer the most attractive asset to teams, there’s no denying his ability to protect the rim make him desirable and necessary. Google+ is in the same boat when it comes to businesses and local search engine optimization (SEO). While businesses may not be using Google+ as their primary weapon, it’s still nice to have them around in case anyone is looking to drive there.
Swarm: Kawhi Leonard
Does anyone even use Swarm? For those unaware, Swarm is a ‘check-in’ social app that was supposed to be a new-and-improved version of once popular Foursquare. But even though it hasn’t yet received the overwhelming notoriety of other apps, it still gets the job done…quietly. This is the perfect counterpart for Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ stoic, straight-faced small forward. Unlike Kawhi, Swarm isn’t getting any MVP votes in the social network world; however, its functionality is the closest resemblance to Leonard’s playing style.
Swarm is essentially a tool that can be used to virtually stalk people. It will tell you when people are nearby. It will let you check-in everywhere you visit and display it to the world. It always knows where you are. Enter Leonard: Back-to-back NBA Defensive Player of the Year. His overwhelming length and always active hands make him the best on-the-court stalker in the NBA.
MySpace: Carmelo Anthony
They were both really relevant from 2006-2008. Now? Eh…not so much.