Category Archives: social media

The Best Photography Blogs On The Web – Part 2

I could sit at my computer and look at photos all day especially when it comes to great photo blogs.  I love all sorts from big journalistic blogs with multiple contributors to blogs of independent studios like ours.  I wrote a post in 2012 about the 6 best photography blogs on the Internet and since then I have discovered some others that are fantastic, so now I bring you the best photography blogs on the web – part two!  Do your eyes and your soul a favor by clicking on these and bookmarking them!

Best Photography blogs

Steve McCurry’s Blog

Steve McCurry is simply put one of the most important photographers of all time.  His photo “Afghan Girl” taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan in 1985 is the most recognized photo in National Geographic’s history.  You have seen it.  Meanwhile his work continues around the world and the photo essays he posts on his blog are amazing.  Take this one for example entitled “Children of the Omo” which takes place in the Omo River Valley in Southwest Ethiopia.

 

The Photo Argus

The Photo Argus has something for everyone.  Photos to enjoy of just about every category are here.  You can also find plenty of photography resources and tips for beginners and pros alike on this site.  Here is a really neat tutorial on night sky timelapse photography.  This one gets pretty technical but the timelapse photography in the first few minutes of the video is really cool.

 

Sullivan J Photography

Here is another blog with plenty of emphasis on education and training for photographers which I like and recommend, but Janice also posts plenty of her photos which are largely macro, travel and landscape.  Her macro photos of flowers are really nice and I also enjoyed this little photo essay of a trip to Oatman, AZ which is an old mining town.

 

Proof

This is the new photo blog launched by National Geographic.  Who didn’t love looking at the photos in National Geographic growing up?  This site is everything you would expect from them like this article about the Chernobyl disaster with truly haunting photos – some of them inside the plant.

 

Twisted Sifter

Twisted Sifter is a unique site I came across recently which states as its objective “to educate, entertain, and inspire each and every day” with three new posts daily as well as a picture of the day.  This “close encounter with a curious cheetah” is unbelievable!

I hope these sites entertain and inspire you, and if you have any to add please comment and let us know!

How To Make Cool Instagram Collages

If you follow us on Instagram you have noticed that we don’t post a lot of final images there.  For now we prefer to show what is happening at the studio closer to real time so I usually snap photos of Ally doing her thing with my iPhone.  I am not the pro photographer here – Ally is.  So while the photos we post on Instagram aren’t of professional quality, that’s not quite the point of Instagram in the first place.  That is not to say you can’t post professional and artistic photos on Instagram, it’s just that a professional photo might look better as a fine art piece on a wall.  Meanwhile I am going to show you how to make cool Instagram collages so you can have some fun!  We had a recent session with the men from Tapper’s Jewelry which is down the hall from us here in the Orchard Mall for their upcoming in-house magazine, Accent.  Here is the Instagram collage I made from the photo shoot.

How to make cool instagram collages

Get Your App

First download an app from your app store.  I use the free version of Snap Collage which I find to be pretty user friendly and effective.  There is a paid version but so far I haven’t felt like I’ve needed it.  For this little tutorial we will be using Snap Collage.  Some of the other apps are similar and the steps will be similar as well.

Think Ahead

Keep in mind the type of collage you want to make when taking your photos or at least give yourself some options by taking some vertically and horizontally so that when you’re trying to fit your photos into your collage you’ll have more flexibility.  You’ll get better at this as you go.  You may even want to clean up your photos with another app before you start – I just started using VSCO and I think it is a great app.  Here is an iPhone screenshot showing the sharpening tool within VSCO.  The process of taking photos and editing them on a smartphone is a whole other topic that I won’t go into in detail here.

How to make cool instagram collages

1.  Launch the app

You’ve got your photos now let’s go to our Snap Collage home page.  You will see the different galleries available there – just click on one and it will bring up thumbnails of the photos there as you can see below:

How to make cool instagram collages

2.  Select the photos you want to use.  The nice thing is that Snap Collage automatically slots them into a few different templates which you can choose from along the top of the screen.  You can add or remove photos by tapping the thumbnails.

How to make cool instagram collages

3.  Pick the collage template you want to work with.  I have picked 4 photos I want to use and Snap Collage has automatically slotted them into several 4 photo templates for me.  You can scroll along the top to look at the choices and if there is a template you like but don’t like the way the photos are arranged then just deselect one of the photos and re-add it and the photos will rotate within the template.  Tap the one you like to see it in full screen.  Note the options at the bottom – we’ll be using the “borders” option shortly.

How to make cool instagram collages

4.  Edit each photo if necessary.  Tap on a photo in the template and Snap Collage will bring it to the forefront where you can play with it.  Pinch and expand to zoom and/or rotate the photo to reposition it to your liking, and you can see there are a number of tools you can use to make more changes to that photo.

How to make cool instagram collages

5.  Add color, drop shadows, rounded edges, and/or themes to your collage frame.  There are several tools in the app to do this.  First tap again on the zoomed in photo to get back to the whole collage and then tap on the “borders” button at the bottom.  This will bring up the dashboard for editing the frames of the collage.

How to make cool instagram collagesThe ratio choices at the far left determine the aspect ratio of the whole collage – ideally I go for the 1:1 or square ratio which is the Instagram standard.  The icons directly under the highlighted word “Frame” indicate which aspects of the frame you are adjusting as you slide the white circles next to each to the left or right.  In this case I’ve already adjusted a couple of them including giving my frames some drop shadow to give them a little dimension (this is 5th and last icon at the bottom that I’ve slid almost half way across).  The 4th one down allows you to round the edges as such:

How to make cool instagram collages

As you can see I’ve adjusted it more than 50% to the right and the edges are quite rounded.  That’s a little more than I want so let’s slide it back a little:

How to make cool instagram collages

There that’s a little better.  Next let’s click on “Color” and start adding a little color to the frame.

How to make cool instagram collages

You can now simply slide the vertical scale with all the colors of the rainbow to the right and then within each palate range hone in on the exact color you like in the square.  You can see I’ve selected black and grey for the border and inner frame.  There are also pre-loaded patterns you can select instead of colors if you click on the “Pattern” button.

6.  Share your collage!  When you have it just the way you want it you can either save it to your device or open it directly in Instagram right from the app.

How to make cool instagram collages

As you can see in the last screen shot you can use this app and save these collages for use anywhere – not just Instagram.  I’ve used it for posting elsewhere often.  This is not the final word on Instagramming or making collages so please share your own techniques!  I learn something new every day as I use these tools and play with all the different options.  What tips do you have to add?

Doug’s Rant – Show Yourself! Embrace YOU! December 20, 2013

Yep – time to rant.

You cannot be actively social on social media with NO pictures of yourself.  Your photo doesn’t have to be your profile picture, but if you send me a friend request and I’m not totally sure who you are and you have no pictures for me to see of you then why would I accept your request?  It’s like knocking on my door with a bag over your head.  I’m not going to judge how you look – you look fine – I just want to see who you are.  If you are comfortable enough to reach out then I will likely accept you especially if I know you.  But if you are not a friend offline – close enough for me to recognize you instantly by name – then you have to show yourself to be my friend.  I can’t be friends with a sunset or a landscape or you based on all the other people you have pictures of in your profile instead of you.  If you want to be on Facebook to connect with your close circle, remain private to everyone else and not be found by the public then you can choose to have no pictures of yourself and that’s fine – really.  I’m talking specifically here about people who send me a friend request and expect to be social online.

Embrace You

Embrace You!

Okay – got that off my chest.

Now let’s talk a little.  Listen I don’t know exactly why you are reluctant to put yourself out there.  We have clients who think they “photograph terribly” and “have never taken a good picture” and on and on and on…  I see both sides of the coin here.  On one hand the camera doesn’t completely lie in the sense that yes – that picture is you so it’s for the most part what you do indeed look like, but on the other hand there are plenty of factors that can contribute to a good picture.  I could go into all those factors that a professional photographer brings to the table (there is obviously a huge difference and maybe that is what you need for your profile picture), but instead I want to focus on YOU first.  This may sound cheesy (okay significantly cheesy) but the fact is that everyone is unique and beautiful.  It is as true as the Earth is round.  You are the only one of you – perfectly unique and the perfect version of you.  Sure maybe I look at a picture of myself once in a while and think “ugh” for a second but you just gotta let that go – it’s that simple.  If you can do that, if you can accept yourself, then you won’t “photograph terribly” regardless of whether you are in front of a friend’s iPhone or a pro’s Canon 5D and anything in between.  If you are scrambling to figure out what your resolution will be for 2014 then first resolve right now to forgive yourself of any of your self-perceived flaws and shine!  Embrace you!  You absolutely deserve it.

Doug’s Rant – An Epic Post About Twitter – November 15, 2013

I’ll be the first to admit I am not a total expert at twitter, but I know a thing or two.  I tweet under several different profiles and I’ve used twitter for almost 5 years.  I didn’t really get it at first, went away from it for a while, and then came back.  These days I feel like I’m starting to get more out of it than I ever have.

Twitter

Twitter Goes Public, And Why Twitter Is As Important As Ever – Haters Pay Attention:

My initial impetus for writing this was an article that HootSuite (my social media management tool of choice) tweeted entitled the “Top 5 Reasons You Weren’t Supposed to Buy Twitter Stock“.  ICYMI (that’s twitter for “in case you missed it”) Twitter went public and started trading on the NYSE on November 7th, 2013 at $26 per share.  As of this writing a week later it is trading at $43.98 – not a bad start…  Facebook’s IPO by comparison was widely viewed as somewhat of a disaster – not that Facebook is going away anytime soon or in any kind of real trouble, but the point is that for anyone who doesn’t think twitter is a major force they are flat out mistaken.

A Little Bit Of Fun Twitter History

Without going into all the typical boring history-class-type details, this fun and informative article by Ann Handley will give you a peek into the early stages of twitter and how people were somewhat unsure of what to do with this 140 character platform at first.  I think seeing how a platform and the culture of the platform has evolved helps you to use it more effectively.  Ann takes a peek at a bunch of the very first tweets of well known twitter profiles and she reveals how to find the first tweets of any profile you like.  Give it a try!  Here are a few local (Metro Detroit) first tweets for you including ours.  Our first tweet makes us cringe but what the heck….   There’s a learning curve for everyone as you’ll see with some of these.  As for Reflecto‘s first tweet just last year – that’s a true story…

Frameable Faces first tweetDoug Cohen's first tweetReflecto's first tweetOrchard Mall first tweetFirst tweet of the Detroit NewsGM's first tweetFord Motor Company's first tweetHillers Markets first tweetTapper's Jewelry first tweetYoga Shelter's first tweetDan Gilbert's first tweet

Advice From One Of My Gurus

As I said before I’m not sure I’m an expert on twitter, but I think Rosh Sillars is – really I think of him as one of my gurus on all things social media, plus he is a photographer and based in Metro Detroit so I can be sure that his viewpoint is relevant for us.  I just got his new podcast in my email the other day entitled “How Can Twitter Help Your Business?” and it’s worth a listen.  Funny thing is much of what can help your business on twitter isn’t about the specifics of twitter itself but rather your approach to connecting with people and this is true about all of social media.  Don’t forget the social part of social media!!!  Check it out.

A Rant For This Rant, Faves And Tips

Lastly let me share with you a few nuggets of my own before I send you on your way.  You don’t have to agree with all of them and I’m always open to a little healthy debate.

  • I’m not going to get into a whole list of “do’s and don’ts” for twitter here but I just have one big pet peeve “don’t” to rant about which I’ve covered before.  Don’t automate your Facebook posts to automatically post as tweets.  When I see a tweet that has an “fb.me” in it I actually get offended.  It comes off as lazy and often spammy.  It’s one thing to schedule tweets with a tool like Hootsuite to spread them out as long as you’ve actually tweeted them yourself and will be there to reply and engage if someone responds, but it’s another to just automate from somewhere else and not bother actually being on twitter.  My only “exception” to this rule at the moment is Vine – it’s owned by twitter and it’s an easy way to incorporate the 6 second looping videos right into your tweets because of the way they are embedded.  Besides when I send a Vine to post on twitter I’m still making the decision to do it manually so it’s not really automated, whereas a lot of Facebook-to-twitter automation that is out there is done with a setting that is just turned on in Facebook and left on indefinitely…  When I consult with a business or sign on to take over some community management for a brand one of the first things I do is turn that off.
  • Make use of twitter lists to manage your feed based on categories that work for you. This is a great way to set up your own personal topical news wires and manage the volume of tweets that build up as you follow more profiles.  Here are a few of the Frameable Faces lists if you would like to check them out and you will see what I mean – Local Detroit / Michigan, Photography, and Social Media Focused.  A few of my personal lists are Sports, History and Music.
  • There are several ways to connect with us on twitter and we hope you follow all of the Frameable Faces-related twitter profiles.  They are: @frameablefaces, @dougcohen10, @orchardmall, and @Reflect_o
  • Lastly, I think my award to most creative and unique profile on twitter goes to @arjunbasu who writes complete short stories in 140 characters.  I think they’re absolutely brilliant.

I hope you enjoyed this post – it’s not the ONLY twitter “handbook” you’ll ever need but hopefully this will get you started if you’re a newbie and I hope you picked up a little something if you’re a veteran.  Feel free to comment and share and most importantly, go forth and tweet!!!

Doug’s Photography and Social Media Rant – May 31, 2013

Doug's RantIt’s been an interesting week or so in photography and social media – from a certain Internet-based company CEO’s assault on professional photographers, to facebook’s announcement (finally) of verified accounts.  A couple of interesting nuggets happened here at Frameable Faces as well, so while I’m not sure if this is something I’ll do weekly or monthly (or ever again haha), I thought a little column about various current events as they relate to our business, the photography industry, and social media might be a good idea.

Not feeling so “yahoo” about Yahoo.

We haven’t used Tumblr or Flickr before so while Yahoo acquiring Tumblr and making changes to Flickr didn’t affect us, the comments Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer made during the announcement that “there’s no such thing, really, as professional photographers…” caught our attention a little.  I watched the news conference and while I don’t like the stuffy overly “professional” suit and tie approach in corporate America, I also think your CEO should sound slightly more articulate than this person.  I was not impressed.  Scott Bourne has shredded her and she is treating him like some random troll to be ignored.  Scott Bourne is a very influential professional photographer (maybe that’s why she hasn’t heard of him) and I believe her comments and her subsequent non-apology will come back to bite her.

Facebookus Promotionus Interruptus

We pride ourselves on being pretty savvy when it comes to social media – we try to do it the right way and follow the written rules and (more importantly) the unwritten rules, but we still make mistakes and we are still learning.  Heck, there is something new to learn every day if not every hour.  For example we got tripped up last week in some changes to facebook terms that we were unaware of.

Email notification from facebook

I must say I find this “no more than 20% text” policy a little arbitrary and bizarre.  We spent 5 dollars to promote a fundraiser for Relay For Life West Bloomfield.  We created it as an “event” on facebook, and there is an option to add an event cover photo.  The dimensions for this cover photo are 714×264 while the standard timeline photo is 851×315.  Not sure why the slight difference here other than to encourage users to create unique content for your event different from your timeline photo?  Fine – makes sense I guess.  Logically I figured I’d keep it simple and include the three logos of the participating entities with a simple phrase “Let’s Help Defeat Cancer!”.  When we created the graphic we didn’t think it represented a call to action with phone numbers, websites etc. which we thought must have been the issue when we received the email.  However it turns out that facebook “quietly” updated their terms on March 6th to allow for calls to action so that wouldn’t have been a problem.  The problem is this new 20% text policy, which I’m fine with when it comes to a timeline cover for your brand, but isn’t an event by nature a call to action which requires a little bit of text to announce the event?  They let me keep the cover photo up, they just wouldn’t let me promote the event.  I didn’t think my promoted post was going to include the cover photo in it anyway so I’m still a little confused.  Weird…  No biggie – I suppose this year (our first year at the Relay For Life) we can take some photos and next year include those as a collage for the cover photo for any fundraiser events we are doing.  That will look better anyway than this quickie we put together this year…  While I’m at it, here is the link to our team page if you want to donate to help us fight cancer.

Relay For Life Fundraiser - Facebook photo

Our event cover photo which violated the new 20% text rule....

 

Yes This Is The Real Doug Cohen

I must admit that there have been times when I’ve had to do a double take on fake facebook profiles of famous people – wondering if it’s really them.  Some of the fakes are obvious and some can fool you even if it’s just for a second.  With twitter you always knew because of the little “verified” check next to the profile.  This is finally coming to facebook and facebook will determine who gets the verified label.  First will be celebrities and public figures but eventually it will come to highly followed people and pages.  I’m wondering since the limit for personal friends is 5000 for everybody what the threshold will be for personal verification.  Pick me!!! Pick me!!!  I wanna BE somebody!!!  😉

Other quick hits…

  • Really want Vine to be released for Droid!  Hurry up Vine developers!!!  Thinking this could be a cool platform for Frameable Faces and this seems to be taking forever…
  • I’m becoming more active on Yelp (yes this is a link directly to my profile) as a way to connect with people – spend some time there – you’ll see what I mean.
  • Had a really nice genuine interaction on twitter (I know right?) with a charming Australian tweeter I met named Susan Israel.  Reflecto was a little snarky to her of course (remember he tweets) but she took it in stride.  You should follow her at @bondi_izzy.

Social Media Stream of Consciousness Pt. 1 – Facebook and Google+

Okay so this is a little change of pace…   Usually when I blog about social media it’s the standard “5 ways to….”  or “7 tips for….” or “the 6 best….” – some type of informative lesson with the perfect title designed to explode our SEO to Jupiter and make our blog the envy of every photography studio East (and West) of the Mississippi.  Okay well maybe that hasn’t quite happened (yet) but one can dream…..right?

Stream of Consciousness - social mediaThis time it’s a little different…

This is part 1 of what could be a series of streams of consciousness about social media as it relates to Frameable Faces, being a small business owner in general, or whatever else I feel like ranting about.  It is a stream of consciousness after all, so who knows what I’ll say right?  And just because there’s a part 1 doesn’t mean there will be a part 2 – that could depend on the response, so be sure to comment and share this post or lose this potential opportunity forever (see – when all else fails just scare them into sharing – that should work).

Facebook Fail?

I am a facebook power user.  Have been for 5 years.  Facebook has changed and I’ve blogged at length about how to navigate the changes.  I practice the techniques I’ve preached when it comes to staying the course, but I will admit that I’m not perfect (HA) and yes occasionally I get a little annoyed at how facebook manipulates the user experience to generate money (this usually happens after I post something boring that no one shares).  While you’ll normally find me preaching to stop whining about the facebook changes and create better content, I’m just being honest here – I do whine once in a while.  Observe:

Text-only posts are getting the most reach right now by a mile for business pages.  I had a text-only post on Friday get a 450 reach with no likes or comments.  It was a dud and yet it still went out to almost half of our following.  The following day I posted a link to a blog post I thought was a good one – no one agreed with me since no one commented and it only reached 93 – only slightly more than one fifth the reach of the text-only post.  Then there’s the recent status of ours that contained a link to a blog post which got 25 likes and 9 comments and only reached 306.  Oh yeah facebook – that’s really hilarious.   Hahaha.  Ugh.  BUT – the other way of looking at this is that I’m okay with 306 people seeing a great post and a good percentage of them clicking on it and appreciating it.  That’s a more successful post than a post that went to 450 that no one cared about.  And if my other post that only went to 93 would have been more interesting then more than 93 people would have seen it.  Remember to take accountability for your content.  So you see how that goes?  I have my moment of weakness, but then I right myself and get back on course creating the best content I can.  That’s what happens in my head.

That said, I notice as an end user that my “most recent” items in my newsfeed aren’t recent at all.  Sometimes the most recent is two days old – I can see how facebook is holding back the content I want to see, so I have to go find the info manually.  Annoying.

Facebook Future?

This all makes me wonder about the future of facebook – it’s not as cool of a place as it used to be.  Too much garbage, spam, memes, chains, links, etc.  I just wish people would post a little bit less of that stuff and more of their own thoughts, and I wish brands would stop littering with salesy posts, crappy ads and specials begging for business.  Sigh.  Now I’m in no way thinking about jumping off the facebook bandwagon, but I’ve always been careful to make sure our eggs are never only in the facebook basket either….

Looking on the “plus” side of life….

I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting Google+.  I’ve always thought it was a ghost town, but a very interesting thing happened on Scott Stratten’s blog recently where he ripped G+ for inflating their numbers based on total Google usage across all of their products and a lot of people ripped him in the comments… he defended himself for a while but eventually he posted an updated retraction when he was proven to have had a slightly incorrect reading of the numbers.  Keep in mind that Scott Stratten is one of the baddest dudes in marketing in my opinion (he calls what he does UnMarketing) and whether it was just a technicality that prompted his retraction or if he is really softening his stance on G+, it was the visceral reaction by so many on his blog defending Google coupled with the changes on facebook that is making me look at adding G+ as a regular spot for us.  I’ve referenced Scott here not to point out that he was wrong, but to point out that I think he is almost never wrong and this got my attention.  The question now is how we might use G+.  We mostly use social media platforms for one of two reasons:

1) The “age old” (at least a few years) social media criteria of be where your peeps are

2) We use the platform for a specific purpose – either for a certain kind of content (like Instagram is our behind-the-scenes platform) or maybe it’s a good place to get info (still our favorite use for twitter – not the only use, just our favorite).  I don’t like to simply duplicate content and behavior on two different platforms (part of the reason we don’t automate from one platform to another).

So that leads me back to G+ where I suspect that there is some exploration to be done specific to photography – seems that some photogs/bloggers/hangout-ers are getting a lot out of it.  It might be a good time to make some connections there if it’s really still growing.  Disclaimer here – we actually have a G+ page for Frameable Faces and yes I have been posting links to new blog posts there, violating my own rule of not simply duplicating content.  I only do it because it takes two seconds and early on people were saying to post there to help with SEO.  Google is the #1 search engine after all.  Is it helping?  Who knows…  But I do know that G+ is not likely to be going anywhere.  We just got Google computers for our kids….  Google is a monster.  Do you use G+?  Personally?  For your brand?  What do you like about it?  I really would like to know.

So there you have it…. a little bit of my mind in words…. fascinating right?  Stay tuned….  🙂

Our 5 Favorite Ways To Instagram!

We love Instagram!  For those of you still not familiar with this (it’s okay we won’t tell anyone) Instagram is a social media platform that enables its users to take pictures (generally with their smartphone), apply digital filters to them, and share them.  As with all of the different social media platforms we use such as facebook, Pinterest, twitter, YouTube (just to name a few), Instagram has its own unique purpose for us.  We generally do not use it to post examples of our work, but rather to post what happens behind the scenes at Frameable Faces.  If you don’t use Instagram you can still see ours by going here.

Meanwhile we thought it would be fun to post 7 of our favorite Instagrams here representing 5 typical categories.  We hope you enjoy them whether you are a Frameable yourself or another photographer/small business owner looking for ways to connect with your peeps.

1. Behind the scenes on a photoshoot

We love these – showcasing the process of creating the images is a lot of fun.  It’s instant gratification since I can snap a quick shot of Ally photographing a high school senior for example with my smartphone and upload it right away while we’re still on location.  Instagram also has a location map feature which uses the GPS stamp from the photo to create a map of locations where the images were produced.  This way people following us can get ideas for where they want to take their photos by seeing where they were taken.

Behind-the-scenes Instagram2. Happenings in the Orchard Mall

The Orchard Mall is our home and it is a very cool place with many other independent businesses and good eats.  It’s a central meeting place in West Bloomfield and any time there is an event or even just beautiful new decorations we Instagram it.

Events:

Chanukah Wonderland at the Orchard Mall - Instagram

Decorations:
Valentine's Day at the Orchard Mall - Instagram

3.  Fun Shout Outs Just Because

We like to celebrate our community – our brand, and life in general…

Frameable Faces Photography - Snowy Instagram 4.  Visits From the #Frameables

Nothing brightens our day like visits from our #frameables and yes these visits make us want to share!  #Frameables is our hashtag on Instagram which works much in the same way hashtags work on twitter.  Our peeps ARE our studio and we mean it.

Seniors:

Frameable Faces Visits from #Frameables - Instagram

Babies:Frameable Faces Visits from #Frameables - Instagram 5.  Stuff That Has To Be Shared Because…Well…It’s Just Too Good Not To

This speaks for itself – you just know when you have to snap a shot and post it.

Ally Cohen with a nice horse named YukonThere are plenty of others – a banana tree at a greenhouse, a practical joke, our snarky reflector Reflecto, road trips, selfies (of course)…..  What are some of the things you like to Instagram?

 

When Should You Promote A Facebook Post? Part 2 – Results

Last month we wrote a piece about when to promote a facebook post which included a case study, and we mentioned that we would post a follow up with the results.

Facebook Results

For starters let’s just say the results were…..  successful to a degree but also a little mixed and confusing.  We spent $15 and it did seem to reach a lot of people.  From that standpoint we feel like we got what we paid for, but there are plenty of discrepancies in the numbers.  Sure there is a chance I’m just not understanding them completely but I think I’m a bright guy and if I can’t figure them out then I’m guessing I’m not the only one.  The engagement level was not quite what I’d expected either but I think there is a learning opportunity there.

Total Reach

Total Facebook Reach

First let’s look purely at the number of people the post reached.  Above is the graph that breaks it down into three categories.  When we selected the $15 dollar (highest) option it indicated that the reach we were paying for would be in the 2.5k – 3.5k range.  When I hover my cursor over each category the organic (people who like the page and either clicked on it themselves or had it appear in their news feed before I started the promotion) shows 372, the paid shows 1637, and the viral (people who saw it as a result of a friend liking, commenting on, or sharing the post) shows 76.  By my math that adds up to 2085 – not 1894 and still way short of the estimate I was given.   However….

Facebook Total Promotion Details

They also provide a promotion summary where I’m told that the paid reach of the post is 3215.  Uh…. okay….  so which is it?  1637 or 3215?  If 3215 is the number then I’m pleased with the reach.  We had about 940 people following our page at the time and we promoted this to our followers and their friends so if $15 bought me 3215 people seeing this post I’m good with that.  Side note: I have since found out from a friend who manages a page with a much larger following than ours that it would cost them much more to promote a post – facebook charges considerably more to a page with 100,000 followers than they do to a page with 1000  – like hundreds of dollars instead of $15.

Engagement

So far we’ve looked at the pure mass numbers of people reached.  Now let’s dig into how the people who saw the post responded to it.  First we’ll look at engaged users:

Engaged facebook users for a promoted post

There were 33 engaged users (number of unique people who clicked on the post), 50 other clicks, so there were people in that group of 33 who came back to the post and clicked on it more than once.  There were 10 link clicks – this was a little disappointing since I thought that the thumbnail of the damaged photo of the tent in Vietnam would compel people to check out the link.  14 stories were generated (likes, comments, shares) and only 3 out of thousands hid the link (negative feedback) which is nice – it didn’t turn people off.  Overall not huge numbers of engagement.  This also doesn’t tell me what kind of collective impact the post had by showing up in thousands of news feeds, but I suspect that there was some impact that I can’t measure immediately.  We don’t typically advertise and I’m not an expert in open / click through rates etc. but I do know that when I promoted this our engagement level was over 1.5% and it ended up at .63%  When I promoted the post it had met the criteria for Jay Baer’s STIR strategy for when to promote a post which includes waiting 6 hours to promote and only if the post has over 1% engagement.  I may raise that to 3% going forward especially if it proves to be true that there will be a natural drop off in the percentage engagement once you send it out to people who may not be familiar with your brand.  The last graph of data they give you is the break down of the “stories generated” or people “talking about this”:

Facebook pie chart showing stats for a promoted post

11 likes (even though the earlier summary says 14), 2 comments, and 1 share.  I think it’s great when someone shares a post because the post then reaches a whole new audience.  One share isn’t much, but it’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Conclusions

So as I mentioned before I would say the results on this one were mixed.  The confusing numbers are a little troubling – even if it’s only $15 dollars I at least want accurate numbers.  Facebook is a public company now and these tools are part of the ways they are trying to generate revenue to show Wall Street they can be profitable, but they should clean up the data if this is so critical to their future.  As for whether we would promote again?  I would say yes but still very selectively.  This one while not a complete flop was not a home run but that’s okay – they aren’t all going to be home runs.  That’s on us to make sure we learn what content has the most value and appeal for our followers.

Have you paid to sponsor or promote a facebook post?  What kind of results have you seen?

When Should You Promote A Facebook Post? A Case Study

This is really a follow up post to “Restoring History” which focused on photo restoration.  Here is a little social media strategy discussion – as of this writing the strategy for the “Restoring History” post is in a test mode as we speak, and hopefully we can get some results we can learn from as we go along….

Promoting Posts on Facebook

The Option To Promote A Facebook Post

For those who may not know, Facebook rolled out a new tool a few months ago where you can pay to promote your status updates so that they will reach more users.  They also changed their algorithms so that posts don’t automatically reach as many folks as they used to without paying.  If you post something that people love, comment and share then you can still get good results but it’s not a gimme like it was before.  Many people became very upset about this when they saw their reach suddenly dwindle unannounced.  I’ve written in the past about staying the course and not freaking out about it – in a way it’s a good thing because now boring lame content doesn’t get the free ride it used to get and good content that is useful and interesting still gets rewarded.  Meanwhile if you want to give your content a boost you can pay to have it promoted.

Facebook Tool for Promoting Posts

Identifying A Guru For Some Guidance

Jay Baer is a social media strategist and author whom I follow and he posted a great article with the criteria he uses for determining How To Know When To Promote A Facebook Post back on 10/27/12.  If you manage a facebook business page it’s worth reading and bookmarking.  In short he discusses a 4 part “STIR” criteria that includes a waiting period to figure out first if your post is engagement worthy on its own, and the suggestion to promote a post that has a link to click on or some call to action.

Other Factors To Consider

Before yesterday we only promoted twice.  Each time we did the minimum level and we only promoted to people who already like our page.  There is also the option of promoting to people who like your page and their friends.  Depending on your product, your overall Facebook strategy, and the post you are promoting there are a few factors to consider in addition to “STIR” when promoting:

  1. Organic vs. paid approach.  We’ve been fiercely committed to earning Facebook likes one at a time without gimmicks to inflate our numbers.  We want our content to be entertaining and useful.  Being “salesy” is spammy and boring.  We want people to like our page because it’s likeable – not because we beg for it or flood their news feeds (they’ll shut us off if we do that anyway).  Too many promoted posts can threaten that aesthetic which is why we had only done it twice before.
  2. First impression if you go outside your likes.  If you promote a post to your likes and their friends keep in mind that this post may be for many their first exposure to your brand.  Is this post focused on a topic that is more tightly focused on current clients?  Make sure the post serves as a good first impression and consider whether it has broad appeal.
  3. Geography and goal of the post.  Make sure you are going to get the proper bang for your buck.  If you are a local business that can only serve local clients then you may want to be careful about promoting to your likes and their friends.  You may spend money reaching too many folks who are out of state and may never be your client.  Then again word of mouth can travel out of state and then back into your neighborhood from afar so it’s not that black and white, but just be sure to consider what are you trying to accomplish with the additional exposure you are paying for.

The Case Study

So we’ll let you in on the strategy we used yesterday when we promoted the post “Restoring History”.  We did the maximum amount with the option of promoting to our likes and their friends for a three day period.  First off the post met all 4 of Jay Baer’s STIR criteria before we promoted it.  We also considered the 3 additional factors outlined above:

  1. Even though it’s a promoted post which by definition isn’t exactly an organic approach, we feel it is interesting and useful content which keeps with the spirit of how we attract folks to our page.  I’m not promoting a BIG SALE! or running a cheesy contest to just gain empty likes.  If people follow us as a result they’ll likely do it because they appreciate the content – it will expose them to our blog and maybe they’ll see there is real value here.  Like we mentioned before, we do NOT promote often and that won’t change.
  2. Even though photo restoration is NOT our core business by any means, I don’t mind this post creating a first impression of our studio to people who don’t know us.  It’s a thoughtful post that will show we have something worthwhile to say and we think it has broad appeal.  Not a bad way to discover Frameable Faces.
  3. This is one service and maybe the ONLY service that we offer that we can offer to people out of state without them ever visiting our studio.  While I don’t anticipate a ton of out of state photo restoration business, in theory as long as someone can scan the damaged photo and send it to us we can do the rest – have it restored, print it, ship it.  Therefore if going outside of our likes takes us out of our local geography here and there in the process that’s okay.

We will post an update to share the results good and bad.  Let us know if you’ve had experiences with promoted posts and if you have anything to add!

Facebook First Aid For Brands – How To Survive The New Changes

West Bloomfield Photographer, Frameable Faces Photography, Metro Detroit PhotographerI wrote a guest post back in May for The Collective where I echoed the predominant thinking about how your blog (and website) should be the center of your online universe since you own them, as opposed to your pages on Facebook and Twitter that you don’t own.  You don’t know what might happen with those sites and you can’t control it.  Well something indeed happened to Facebook…

Money changes everything.

The short version is Facebook went public, it didn’t go well, and now they are scrambling to make more money – fast.  They have Wall Street investors to answer to now and everything has changed.  I get it – they are a business.  The problem is how they went about this.  Now stay with me here… They encouraged brands to build a following by engaging with their fans, and then once the brands acquired the fans Facebook took away the ability to reach the fans unless the brand pays to “promote” posts to the fans who were already following the posts.  A major bait and switch.

The dilemma…

Keep in mind that our philosophy at Frameable Faces like many others has been to grow our likes and our reach on Facebook in a totally organic way – steadily building relationships fan by fan without contests and cheesy promotions.  This suddenly has become more difficult and it raises a two part dilemma:

  1. I’m not in love with the idea of my peeps seeing my posts because I paid for them to see them.  I want them to see our content because they like it and the posts are worthy of being seen.  Facebook used to ensure your posts would show up in the news feed of people who regularly interacted with your brand.  Your reach was largely a result of successful engaging posts.  Not sure if that’s happening at all anymore…
  2. Even though we’ve had some success with diversifying on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter to name a few, we haven’t been able to ween ourselves completely from Facebook for reaching our peeps or driving traffic to this blog for example.
So what next?  First what NOT to do…

I read a great article by Ken Mueller on 10/22 that stated in part to “stop trying to game Facebook’s Edgerank” – in other words don’t try to cheat the system because shortcuts are not the answer.  People are trying to find ways to do this like moving brand content to their personal pages for example.  While I have used my personal page to promote our studio from time to time I’ve done it in a very limited fashion, and with a couple exceptions it’s usually when I’ve written a blog post that is more universal like tips on social media that I know everyone can use.  If you start doubling up your content on both your business and personal pages your message can start to get lost. Think of it as making a social call on your personal friends to market your studio to them – this isn’t the exact same thing but it’s similar – in real life it’s a little awkward, in online life it’s a little spammy. The people who subscribe to our page (personal friends or not) subscribe there to follow our studio, the people who friend me want to be my friend – not necessarily my prospect.

So What Next?  What TO Do…

The best bet seems to stay the course and focus on creating great content, and make sure all your eggs are never in one basket – especially a basket you don’t own like Facebook.  However Facebook isn’t going anywhere and it’s critical to be able to adapt to these changes.  One way to adapt unfortunately is to yes, spend a little money to promote a post here or there to make sure you continue to reach your audience.  Which leads me to the following tip.

A Specific Tip I Learned From Trial and Error

I paid my first 5 dollars to sponsor a status update to see what kind of result I would get.  The number of people it reached was a little disappointing, but here’s the tip – this was a post that no one commented on or liked (pretty pathetic I know). But misfires happen once in a while to the best of us, and these posts are NOT the ones you want to promote. Afterwards I came across an article by Jay Baer about when to sponsor posts and one of the things he mentioned was to only promote a post if after waiting 6 hours it’s exceeded a 1% engagement rate. Then give it a boost.  Don’t try to boost a dog that no one is responding to in the first place.  Promote a status update that is already proving to be engagement worthy.

Hope this helps!  Please comment with any feedback or helpful tips on this topic!