Social Media Reference Guide for Summer 2016

Social Media in 2016

With so many social media networks today and each one constantly changing, keeping track of your company profiles across all these channels can be challenging. Everything in a specific social channel is likely to change, sometimes frequently. Most social networks have already seen changes: user behavior and accessibility, website design, posting rules, and social media image sizes in 2016 are already different compared to the previous year.

Regardless of whether you’re a social media manager for a major brand, or handling a startup’s social accounts, you should be aware of the core formats and stay up to date on the best practices for social channels. Here we provide the most updated information available to help you set up your social accounts in the best way possible. Finally, you can stop worrying about social media basics, and start focusing on attracting and engaging more visitors!

Facebook logo

Facebook

Facebook is still the largest active social network, and it doesn’t look like that will change any time soon. According to Zephoria, 1.65 billion accounts are active users on the website, and 1.51 billion of those users are also mobile users. In the scheme of things, Facebook is just getting started. The company has already begun experimenting with unconventional projects that blur sci-fi and reality: drones that beam Wi-Fi, Virtual Reality video calls, live mobile streaming, and business service robots.

The social network, now in its twelfth year running, is still primarily used as a way to connect friends and family with each other. It’s rare to see users adding strangers as friends. In the U.S. alone, a Pew Research study found that 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook. Facebook is especially popular with women, as 77% of online women use the service. The same study also shows that many users have at least some college education, and tend to live in cities.

So if that answers who uses Facebook, how can you reach those people?

Focus on Popular Interests (for getting shares and comments)

Screenshot of Facebook's Trending News Stories Section

Source: Gawker

Ever seen a post where someone is sharing an article on their favorite TV show, or a song from their favorite artist? That’s because social networks are about describing who you are, and connecting with people with similar interests. Facebook is perhaps the best example of this. If you want to get people involved and sharing your content, you need to tap into what they’re into, whether that may be politics, sports, art or food. Be sure to check out Facebook’s Trending section. It will give you a snapshot of what’s being discussed online. No matter how seemingly superficial the content, there’s always someone on Facebook who will engage with it.

Share Videos and Images

Screenshot of Facebook's mobile videos section

Source: Adweek

If there’s anything to take away from posting on Facebook, it’s that images and video are becoming increasingly popular. Images always grab people- with the popularity of cameras and large screen phones, people are more likely to look at a picture than to read a block of text. That’s why internet memes go viral so easily.

On the video side, Facebook has made huge strides, incorporating 360 Virtual Reality, livestreaming, and suggested video playlists. But the greatest change, which we’re only now beginning to understand, is Facebook’s decision to autoplay videos in mute as you scroll through your feed. This invites users to watch without fear of disturbing or confusing those beside them.

According to the most recent data (as of 2015), there are 8 billion video views from 500 million users. While a 3 second video still counts as a “view,” it’s still impressive considering users have accumulated 760 years of video watch time each day.

Twitter Logo

Twitter

If Facebook is the most popular social network, then Twitter is the most active. While there’s only an estimated 310 million users (2016), there are an estimated 500 million tweets sent out each day.

However, the volume and recency of all these tweets make it difficult at times to organize and find content. The result is a surplus of spammy, fake, and meaningless tweets. Twitter’s greatest strength is also its greatest challenge. What can you do to overcome it?

Use Hashtags

A Screenshot of Twitter's Trending Topics section featuring popular Chicago Hashtags

One way Twitter organizes content is to use the hashtag or pound symbol (#) in conjunction with a keyword or phrase. For example, today (May 9th), one of the most popular hashtags is #mondaymotivation, a collection of inspiring, motivational tweets to help people work through Monday. The hashtag has accumulated 139,000 tweets, making it a Trending Topic. Tweets with this hashtag are grouped together and presented as a sort of headline, making it easier for people to find Monday motivation related tweets.

Hashtags present an opportunity to be creative, to promote a brand, and to make your content more easily discoverable. Last year, several brands used hashtags to their advantage and created some successful campaigns. KFC used #NationalFriedChickenDay, Coke used #ShareACoke, and Red Bull used #PutACanOnIt, all resulting with positive engagement.

Use Mentions

A screenshot of a tweet with a hover display over the @ mention.

Source: TNT Digital Media

What’s the difference between a reply and a mention? Replies are tweets sent to the person you’re replying to, and so only followers that are following both you and the mentioned users get to see the tweet. Mentions, on the other hand, which also involve the @ symbol followed by the user’s twitter handle, directly notifies the mentioned user and all of your followers (regardless if they follow the mentioned user).

Mentions are a great way to give someone a shout out, increase chances of them retweeting you, and have others interact with your content. Instead of using a hashtag, indicating that you’re part of a bigger conversation, mentions show that you’re trying to build rapport and develop more meaningful relationships with certain individuals.

Youtube Logo

YouTube

Youtube continues to be the go-to website for videos, reaching a wider and more diverse audience than any cable company or streaming website. 6 billion hours of video are watched by a billion people every month. It is the second largest search engine, with more searches than Yahoo!, Bing, and AOL combined!

Even with this much content available, marketers are still failing to optimize their content for Youtube. The result is usually a channel with some quality video content, but with an audience too small to engage. Here are a couple practices to avoid that.

Create a lot of videos, and post regularly

A screenshot of all of Hubspot Videos showing how frequent they post.

Source: HubSpot Youtube Page

This might go without saying, but the major key to getting exposure on Youtube is to create multiple videos a month, and to keep posting them every month. In a Youtube report published by Pixability, the top 100 global brands post an average of 78 videos each month. Media companies post an average of 500 videos a month.

While you may not need to post that many videos, there’s still an important lesson to be learned here: maintaining a consistent posting schedule results in a stronger brand image, and higher viewership in the long run.

Make your videos easy to watch

Screenshot of a video from Youtube Rewind, called Now Watch Me 2015

There are two ways to give your viewers a more pleasing viewing experience: 1) make short, bite-size videos, and 2) optimize them for mobile viewing. Research conducted by SocialBakers found that videos under 2 minutes long generated the most views. More specifically, 16 second to 120 second videos made up 50% of all Youtube videos. Not everyone wants to sit down and watch a video. Often viewers are watching a few seconds of a video on their phone before moving on.

To back this, TrackMaven says that 40% of Youtube videos are viewed on a mobile device. This means that not everyone will have a large enough display to pay attention to videos with tiny details and text, say a video on diagnosing your computer for instance. Create videos made for mobile, and they’ll scale better for users with desktops or laptops.

Pinterest logo

Pinterest

While only 6 years old, Pinterest has already proven to become one of the most popular image-sharing social websites online. Users create “pins” or post images to a “pinboard”, creating a catalogue of pictures for a particular subject. For example, a Cooking pinboard might feature photos of various cuisines or recipes. There are currently 100 million active users, with a combined total of 1 billion boards.

Because of its relatively niche audience, marketers are still failing to see the upside to creating a profile for posting images. How might Pinterest, an image-sharing network, benefit a company’s digital marketing?

Use quality images and informative captions

High Quality Pinterest Images

If you’re going to work in an image-rich environment, then your images themselves need to be better than the majority. This means using high quality images, measured with the right social media image sizes in 2016 (thumbnails are 236px in height and width). The exact measurements can be found in the infographic at the bottom of the post. Choose relevant images that display your brand’s message, and remember to include descriptions that describe the image to make them easier to discover.

You can also provide value for customers by using some text to accompany the image. This might be the actual ingredients to the recipe’s photo, the title and credits to someone’s artwork, or the location of a scenery shot. These keywords can still be found by a search engine or by someone typing them into Pinterest’s search engine.

By providing high quality images and useful descriptions, you position your brand as a thought leader and reputable source of information in your field.

Create Boards that people care about

Pinterest Board on Small Kitchen College Recipes

It’s not enough to only create boards and post original content. You should always re-pin other brand’s and user’s images to create new boards, to gain new audiences, and to remain in tune with your current audience. Think about what kind of content your audience could find useful, and create a board for that. If you run a Pinterest on cooking, a board on college-friendly recipes might interest your younger, less well-off crowd. By understanding how to segment your audience, you can deliver stronger, more relevant content.

Instagram Logo

Instagram

Instagram started in 2010 as just another photo sharing app, but with two distinct features: all photos were in a square shape, and users could apply stylized filters. Today, the social network sees a monthly 300 million active users, posting 70 million photos a day. Photos can be any size, and short, 15-second videos can also be uploaded. Somehow, its unique presentation caught on with the public, and the app has forever solidified as an important social media channel in the 21st century.

Get Your Audience Involved

Indy500 Instagram campaign using the hashtag #Indy500orBust

Asking open-ended questions, or running a competition will encourage your audience to interact with your brand, increasing loyalty and promoting awareness. A good example of this is when the Indy 500 created “A Day at the Races” campaign. Posts asked users to upload images to Instagram with the hashtag #Indy500orBust for a chance to win a VIP experience at Indianapolis 500 in 2014. In the four months leading up to the race, 11.4k photos were shared with the hashtag. That number shot up to 52,700 shares during the race. They also gained 4,100 new followers. For relatively little cost, Indy 500 created its own buzz and excitement.

Use Third-Party Editors and Apps

While Instagram has a pretty powerful editing tool, third party apps will allow you to create stronger and more unique content. VSCO is a popular app that a lot of professionals use, as it features more advanced camera settings and mobile presets. Pic Stitch is another app that allows you to create collages of multiple images. Finally, Hyperlapse lets you record and post time lapse videos.

Social networks have changed a lot in 2016, and they’re likely to change even more next year. We might soon start seeing more virtual reality content, livestreamed videos, and smarter search algorithms. Until then, marketers should brush up on the latest industry trends. The more you understand the strengths and limitations of each channel, the better you can tailor your content to your audience.

For some more information on how to make the most out of each social network, be sure to scroll down and read the complete infographic this post is based upon. You’ll find the best times to post on each channel, some useful keyboard shortcuts, and important social media image sizes in 2016!

And finally, the complete Social Media Reference Guide for Summer, with links, tools, shortcuts, social media image sizes in 2016, and more!

Arcalea Infographic on Social Media in 2016, covering Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram. Shows tools, shortcuts, links, best times to post, and social media image sizes in 2016.