The Roaring PJ - A Social Media Blog

What’s Your Story, Instagram?

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Last month, Instagram rolled out Instagram Stories, an exciting new feature that allows users to share snippets of their day for just a 24-hour period. Sound familiar, by chance?instagram-story Instagram Stories bears a striking resemblance to another popular platform that allows for disappearing media, Snapchat. Our team spent considerable time exploring the two platforms, experimenting with the networks and answering client questions on this format. Here are the top three questions we had and continue to receive about this brand new component of our favorite photo sharing network, answered for you.

What are Stories and how do they work?

A combination of photos and videos in a slideshow format, Instagram Stories tell a story of one’s choosing. Unlike a regular Instagram post, Stories don’t appear on one’s feed or allow for public likes or comments – only private messages. Available for only 24 hours and appearing in the bar at the top of a feed, Stories can be enhanced with text and drawing tools.

Stories can range from purely personal to business oriented. For example, one might share a Story with a behind-the-scenes look at one’s day, the unboxing of new products, the unveiling of a new project or the process for creating a new product or service. Additionally, a business could also use Stories to feature coupon codes, special offers or enticing incentives for clients or customers. Of course, the uses are almost limitless.

Ready to get going? Start with Instagram’s directions on how to share a photo or video to a story:

  1. Tap 1 in the top left of your screen or swipe left from anywhere in Feed.
  2. Tap 2 at the bottom of the screen to take a photo, or tap and hold to record a video. To upload a recent photo or video from your phone, swipe down on the screen and select what you’d like to share.
  3. You can tap a or pen to add text or draw on your story. Tap Undo to remove an effect or Done to save it.
  4. You can tap Cancel to discard your photo or video, or arrov to save it to your phone. When you’re done, tap check to share your story.

Need more details? Check out Instagram’s Help Center, which features a robust page on Stories – including the scoop on tips, who has seen a story, privacy settings and much more.

Are Instagram Stories better than Snapchat?

As with most things, the answer to the question of “which platform is better?” depends on your viewpoint. It’s true that Instagram Stories looks suspiciously similar to Snapchat. For long-standing Snapchat users with hoards of loyal followers, this new interloper likely seems a nuisance.

However, Snapchat has long suffered from usability problems. While millennials require no tutorial to get started, anyone over a certain age finds Snapchat confusing, complicated and counterintuitive. Even finding users on Snapchat proves difficult, let alone creating snaps and stories. In fact, we often wonder if Snapchat intentionally confuses users over 30! But, I digress.

Instagram and the new Stories feature seem much more intuitive than Snapchat. The ease of finding users and brands on Instagram starts as a great first step in usability, and the process for creating and posting content – including Stories – feels much less complex and scary. Given the user-friendliness of Stories, our team at Roaring Pajamas prefers it. Plus, many of our clients already use Instagram, so adding Stories seems an easy way to extend reach without adding yet another new platform or strategy. Who wouldn’t want to simplify things, right?

One differentiating feature of Instagram Stories recently emerged with suggestions on accounts to follow. While Snapchat doesn’t recommend accounts to check out, Instagram just started rolling out personalized suggestions for accounts to follow atop the Explore tab. The suggestions are based on Instagram’s secret-sauce algorithm. Given that this new feature showcases different users in the suggestions, those featured will likely gain followers.

Should I try Instagram Stories?

At Roaring Pajamas, we talk a great deal about the importance of infusing personality in a brand through social media. Instagram Stories allow for one to post just about anything – otherwise rarely-seen views of a day, special deals, sneak peeks and more. Such views help impart a sense of accessibility and – hopefully – affability that builds trust and loyalty. And, hopefully, new customers and clients.

Our only word of caution is this: remain true to your brand on Instagram Stories and all of your social media efforts. Never venture too off-the-cuff, rogue or negative so that you turn off your target audience, customer and clients. Always carefully balance personality with professionalism to achieve social media success.

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The ABC’s of Photo Credit Etiquette

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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With millions of gorgeous images flooding the internet daily, some may be tempted to use another’s photo without attributing proper photo credit. Using or sharing images without giving an obvious nod to the image creator may seem innocuous, or perhaps, may even be intended as a compliment. However, this practice proves very upsetting and – in some cases – harmful to a person or business who creates the image used without permission or attribution. To keep out of the image sharing dog house, which could include legal ramifications, let’s talk about the ABC’s of photo credit etiquette.

A: Ask for Permission

Before reposting, regramming, borrowing or pinning, be certain the creator of the image allows use of the image by others. In some cases, image creators or sites where images are found provide specific parameters around using the visual content and guidelines for photo credits. If such guidelines don’t exist, ask if you can use the image before assuming you may use it. Creatives live and die by their work; don’t presume they can afford to let any old Jane or Joey employ their work freely.

B: Be Honest

Ever remember a coworker or boss taking credit for your great ideas or work? Using someone else’s photos or images without properly acknowledging the creator ranks right up there with your boss presenting your strategy slides and not even mentioning your name. Stinky, right? Be honest with your posts and use of images. If you didn’t take the photo, or create the graphic or think up the funny caption, please be honest with your readers or viewers. Give credit where credit is due. Trust us; your followers will appreciate the honesty far more than they appreciate a perfectly curated site that doesn’t truly belong to you.

C: Credit with Clarity

Now that we’ve established the importance of asking for permission and being honest about the origin of images, let’s talk about how to credit with clarity. There are many ways one may indicate the genesis of a graphic, but crystal clear visibility of the photo credit remains the most important rule. Attribution in a somewhat buried comment on a post, or a the very end of the hashtags, seems either totally clueless or – sadly – downright devious.

Some guidelines to consider for photo credits done right:

Of course, we also recommend one should also post their own creations with clear indication of ownership. When spending precious time and resources to create the perfect graphic or image, considering adding your URL or watermark in such a place that shows the photo credit but doesn’t distort the image. By adding your mark, you will save yourself the frustration of unwitting – or otherwise – image thieves.

Have you ever had your images used without your permission? Has anyone posted a picture you took without giving you proper photo credit? Have you accidentally used someone else’s work without the correct attribution? We’d love to hear your perspective.

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Why Giving a Damn About Reputation Management Matters

Posted on by Melanie Yunk

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Unlike Joan Jett, who doesn’t give a damn ‘bout her reputation, any astute business owner should pay keen attention to reputation management in order to sustain – and grow – a RM APPROVED BLOG IMAGE BLUE URLbusiness in today’s digital age. I mentioned this topic a few months ago after I wrote about my experience speaking on the topic at Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s Small Business 101 seminar. As promised in that post, I will now dig deeper into the topic of reputation management and its significance to business owners.

As online reputations go, perception is reality. As a result, managing one’s reputation by keeping abreast of everything written online about a business – including in forums, on Yelp and other review sites – rates as extremely important. No shortage of opportunities exist for customers, clients and prospects to voice opinions and read reviews – good, bad and ugly.

When and How to Write a Review

Let’s first think about how people determine whether or not to write a review. Take my recent personal experience as an example:

A few months ago, we encountered a bad situation in which I was served a supposed gluten-free meal. Unfortunately, it was instead a very gluten-full meal. I quickly became ill and – needless to say – unhappy. By the end of our experience, the waitress – who had no fault in the mishap – was exceptionally apologetic and we had the manager’s full attention to ensure I was okay. The manager gave us a free meal, I walked to the bank nearby for cash to leave as a tip and I went home satisfied by the solution.

Now, was there a reason to write a bad review? Maybe; however, their handling of the situation was impeccable. We were totally impressed.

Will we return? Probably not; the restaurant now makes me nervous. Bummer too, because their menu appears friendly to my dietary needs.

Did I write a review? No; they made a mistake but handled the aftermath perfectly. They solved my problem and I walked out happy. Still, no review from me, good or bad because, at that point, I wasn’t inclined to keep worrying about it.

So, when and how should people write online assessments of an experience? I believe personal preference dictates when to write a review, or not. In most cases, review writers fall into two camps: horribly underwhelmed and upset or extraordinarily impressed. Given that reviews end up on opposite ends of the satisfaction spectrum, they can either hurt or help a business – something important for everyone to keep in mind, especially in the heat of the moment. If I decided to write a review, either good or bad, here’s the approach I would have used:

  • Remain calm if writing about a bad experience. Write the review, walk away then come back later to read it again before submitting.
  • Never call people names or use defamatory language.
  • Stick to the facts.
  • Keep it short, as no one wants to read a book on how you found a hair in your salad!
  • Name the person who provided you with superior service if writing about a great experience – he or she may be rewarded!
  • Check out the BBB’s tips for writing good online reviews.  

When and How to Respond to a Review

Now, let’s consider the flip side, the restaurant’s position. In this situation, regardless of the nature of the resolution, the restaurant could have ended up with a poor online reputation as a result of a negative Yelp (or other) review. Alternatively, since I eventually walked away happy, they could have ended up with a more positive review. Regardless, here’s how I advise clients to handle and respond to reviews from customers or clients in order to properly manage their reputation:

  • Stay on top of reviews on a regular basis.
  • Take a deep breath before responding to negative reviews.
  • Respond quickly and politely to all reviews.
  • Remember that everyone is entitled to opinions and your response will tell a great deal about you and your business; always handle responses in a business-like and constructive manner.
  • Check out Yelp’s tips on responding to reviews.

How to Encourage a Positive Review

An entirely different part of reputation management entails encouraging satisfied customers and clients to post positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review from a happy customer. Remember an unhappy customer will tell the world. Often, a happy customer tells one or two friends and then moves on. Asking and even handing out a card with links to the various review sites you prefer is a great way to encourage clients to write reviews. In LinkedIn, you can send a recommendation request to a client.

Reputation Management Matters

Proactive online reputation management yields tremendous benefits for businesses, especially when approached in a methodical way and handled in a timely manner. Smart business owners don’t stick their heads in the sand. Read reviews; embrace them; and take action to remedy a negative situation. Sometimes, taking action in a positive way will lead to either a retraction of the bad review or at least an update to show a good outcome. As well, savvy businesses should work diligently to garner supportive online evaluations from satisfied customers and clients.

Have you ever written or received an online review? What lessons did you learn from the experience and how has it shaped your reputation management practice?

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