Twitter No Longer Crops Images

From websites to social sites, trends show that images are king. Image-based web headers, backgrounds, and navigation are skyrocketing in popularity; Facebook posts with images perform significantly better than non-image posts; and photo-based sites like Instagram and Pinterest continue to grow at astronomical rates. Images have also been linked to high conversion rates.

Because of this, businesses work hard to curate impressive imagery that will attract and convert users. The downfall is that some of these sites have different image guidelines, causing your original image or artwork to be cropped, unless you spend the additional time and money necessary to customize that image to fit each platform’s suggested size guidelines.

Luckily for businesses using the popular micro-blogging platform Twitter, that is no longer the case. Earlier this week, Twitter announced they are no longer cropping images down to what was the size of roughly 1000 pixels by 500 pixels. Additionally, the multi-photo displays will appear larger and more beautiful. This means your images will appear just as beautiful on Twitter as they do on Facebook, increasing the opportunity for clicks and/or conversions.

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Instagram also no longer crops its images providing users with more creative freedom. Before this change, Instagram photos would be cropped into a square, often cutting off important parts of images. However, the popular photo site now allows landscape and portrait photos in addition to its square format option.

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Crowdsourcing With Twitter Polls

Twitter Poll

Crowdsourcing is a term coined in 2005 that means the act of obtaining needs, services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community. Over the years, social media platforms have turned out to be an excellent avenue to gather such information.

People follow a business on social media for a reason; they are interested in the product or service, and want to be a part of a community. Several businesses have tapped into their community and engaged in the two-way communication we’ve all come to appreciate. What color shirt should we get, blue or green? What type of food should we add to the menu, steak or spaghetti? The communities of interested followers speak their mind and these businesses are reaping the benefits by providing the customers with exactly what they want. No more guessing.

Twitter has recently introduced a new opportunity to gather information from its ever-expanding audience—Twitter Polls. With Twitter Polls, users can create a question with two options to answer. The poll is open for only 24 hours and once it is over, a push notification is sent out to all of the participants to see the final result. Unlike almost every action on Facebook, participation is not tracked. Your interaction with a poll is not made public and the information is not being sold to marketing firms—at least not yet.

Before official Twitter Polls were in place, you could still participate in polls by tallying hashtag responses, tweeting a question, and tracking the replies, or by asking followers to favorite or Retweet a vote. It now has simply become a more streamlined action. We are interested to see how the feature grows and changes as Twitter does. What do you think of Twitter Polls? Will you or your company use them? We’d love to hear from you!

Twitter Might Lose Its Wings

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What do the president, the pope and Grumpy Cat all have in common? They are all on Twitter! The micro-blogging site has changed the way people communicate since its creation in 2006. The short and sweet social site has been known to spark revolutions, bring instant fame and get people in hot water, as well as creating the infamous hashtag, of course. You would think with 302 million influential users, including world leaders, celebrities, athletes and top journalists, Twitter would be a force to be reckoned with. In reality, after nearly 10 years, Twitter has never made a profit. Are you surprised? We were, too.

Despite last week’s announcement of the CEO’s departure and dropping stock prices, the site still has potential, according to industry experts. However, some bugs need to be worked out in order to do so. The challenges Twitter is facing include, user interest, ease of use, trolls, application options and advertising.

After 10 years in business, Facebook had 1 billion users. After nine and a half years in business, Twitter only has 302 million. Why isn’t it catching on? We’ve seen the media catch onto it in a strong way with hashtags and Twitter handles displayed on most shows, but for some reason, users just don’t seem to care. Is it too hard to use? According to tech investor Chris Sacca, almost 1 billion users have tried Twitter, but most haven’t stuck with it.

Trolls have also become an issue on Twitter, and not the spiky haired, jeweled tummy trolls—online bullies. The ability to make fake profiles is much easier on Twitter than some other sites, allowing people to hide behind the ambiguity, causing alienation of potential and established users. In April, Twitter updated its policy against violent threats to include people promoting violence, in addition to specific threats.

If Twitter, or any other social site for that matter, is looking for advice on how to be successful, look to Facebook. The powerhouse has obviously done something right over the years to be worth $192 billion. One thing Facebook has done that industry experts feel Twitter needs to do is capitalize on their brand and offer separate apps for certain functions, the way Facebook has created the Messenger app. A lot of other popular social sites, including Snapchat, have been focusing heavily on direct messaging, an area where Twitter has simply dabbled. However, Twitter recently announced that they are removing the 140-character limit to their direct messages, so there could possibly more changes coming in the future.

The last thing that Twitter needs to do in order to stay aflight, is to better optimize its advertising. Twitter currently offers a variety of ad placements and has recently announced video ads and objective-based ads—similar to Facebook. Is this all too little, too late? Can Twitter make the tweaks it needs to keep from getting its wings clipped? Only time will tell.

Online Ads Are Pushing ‘BUY’ Buttons!

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Automobiles, the Internet, auto-brewing coffee makers; every now and again there is an idea that sweeps the nation—or the world—and changes the fundamental way we live our lives. Though this idea may not change the world as a whole, it has been changing the digital marketing world for the better—the “buy” button.

Facebook started this call-to-action trend last summer, and Twitter soon followed with its call-to-action Twitter cards. Last week, we wrote a blog about Instagram’s new advertising changes, which included call-to-action buttons, and two weeks ago, it was announced that Pinterest was toying around with the buy button, as well. In addition to these top social media platforms, Google has recently confirmed the enabling of buy buttons on search ads. The idea is still in its inception phase, so specific details on how it will work are still mum; however, the general idea is that after clicking the buy button on a mobile search ad, users would be taken to a special Google landing page to complete the transaction.

This is moving Google from a search engine to a marketplace, similar to Amazon, and people are on edge. Some industry influencers feel this change on Google could hinder retailers by decreasing their website traffic and preventing them from obtaining consumer data, since the transactions will be happening through Google and not the retail website. However, Google’s intention is to speed up the mobile buying process in order to strengthen the consumer’s shopping experience, which in turn will increase the retailer’s mobile conversion rates that have stayed low even though mobile usage rates have continued to rise. Only time will tell.

Call-to-action and buy buttons have made it easier for retailers to capture leads and conversions in this social-media-newsfeed-surfing era. Call-to-action buttons, in most cases, will increase traffic and conversions to a retailer’s website by leading consumers directly to what they are interested in, but in some instances, such as on Facebook and Google, transactions will happen in a limbo land between the platform and the retail site, essentially allowing consumers to purchase items without having to leave the site they are on.

Back in September we wrote a blog about this “new idea” of a buy button and wondered if it would take off or not. I guess we have our answer! Have you seen any call-to-action or buy buttons while on your favorite social media network? Have you used them? We would love to hear from you!

Further Reading:

http://searchengineland.com/google-buy-buttons-could-start-showing-on-mobile-shopping-ads-in-a-matter-of-weeks-220997

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/251395/the-buy-button-is-coming.html

The Power of a Hashtag

The term “hashtag” has been around for several years now, but it just recently began gaining popularity.  It was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in June of 2014. Essentially, a hashtag is the use of the number symbol or pound sign before a word or phrase to form a label or metadata tag. It allows an electronic search to return all messages that contain that term. The first use of a hashtag was in a blog post in 2007, “Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings.

Twitter was the first social media site to use hashtags, as well as the first site to show trending topics. Twitter sifts through the “twitterverse” looking for the most-used hashtags or keywords and compiles a trending list. The list changes as the conversation changes. Many social sites have since started using hashtags, as well as the trending topics.

For business and brands, hashtags can be very useful. They can categorize what people are saying about your brand, product or even certain advertising efforts, making is easier to manage, communicate and share. It also lets you join other conversations and helps extend the reach of your message to a new audience. One of the best, most recent examples of this happened during the American Music Awards on Sunday night. Jerry Riekert went from a simple man from New York who makes lamps to an Internet celebrity, solely by using one hashtag.

During the AMAs, Jerry tweeted about the teenage boy band One Direction while using the #amas hashtag, and Twitter exploded. If you have seen anything about One Direction, you may have noticed that they have extremely loyal fans. Well, One Direction fans saw Jerry’s tweet while they were reading the #amas feed, and now Jerry is no longer just a simple man from New York.

Jerry Riekert Tweet

 

Jerry Riekert Tweet

Like any smart businessman, Jerry utilizes his increased audience by showing off his products. He even started crowd sourcing his followers for ideas for a One Direction-themed lamp.

Jerry Riekert Tweet

Though Jerry’s story is rare, it still shows the power of using hashtags. Using popular hashtags properly can extend your message and help you gain new followers and potentially new business.  Still have questions on hashtag usage or social media in general? Call Robmark Web. We can extend a helpful hand or handle the creation and management of your social media sites.

Social Media Ecommerce

Online shopping was first introduced in 1995 with the launches of Amazon and eBay. At that point in time, only 16 million people in the world had Internet access. Ecommerce made shopping for most items more convenient, but not necessarily easier. Over the years we have seen many changes and advances in ecommerce, not only from the seller’s side but also in buyer’s behavior.

Now, in 2014, there are over 3 billion people in the world that use the Internet, and the way we use the Internet is drastically different, thanks to the introduction of social media in the early 2000s. With an immersion in constant, immediate information, we are turning into an instant gratification-seeking type of people. Experian Marketing Services says Internet users spend 27% of their time online on social media, which, according to Business Insider, makes social media the most popular online activity.

Facebook and Twitter are both working on a one-click buying process that won’t take you away from their website, making it easier than ever to buy the products you want, need and love. Back in July, Facebook started to test a ‘buy’ button to make it easier for consumers to purchase items featured in its ads and posts. It was also announced in September that Twitter is working on a ‘buy’ button for tweets. These social networks seem to realize that when users are on their favorite social network, they don’t want to leave.

Twitter has been focused on making “social ecommerce” easier for a while now. They have been working with the number-one online retailer, Amazon, since May. Simply by using the hashtag #AmazonCart, you can now place an item in your cart on Amazon. In July, Twitter bought CardSpring and now allows users to redeem coupons and discounts by using —you guessed it —tweets. This month, Twitter introduced the hashtag #AmazonWishList, to place an item, on your Amazon Wishlist.

Not only will these ‘buy’ buttons change the way users purchase items, they will also change social media advertising. This ecommerce push gives even more value to ads on the social networks. Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke says, “Because you are actually selling something directly, that makes all kinds of sense.”

This new, strong focus on ecommerce efforts poses a lot of questions and potential opportunities for retail businesses on social media. Do you think these ‘buy’ buttons will be successful? Do you think there will be an increase in social media advertising? Do you think other social networks will join in on the ecommerce fun? Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations would love to hear from you!

Further reading:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/hot-stock-minute/e-commerce-in-social-media-is-inevitable-154403857.html

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/81009.html

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/use-twitter-build-amazon-wishlist-using-hashtag/116829/

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/social-media-is-a-terrible-ecommerce-tactic-or-is-it/