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What’s working on Instagram in April 2023

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Don’t call it a comeback, but … gasp … pictures may actually be returning from the dead on Instagram! Crazy right? The social media site that built its foundation on pretty pictures that soothed our souls and gave us the escape from our judgemental Facebook peers has finally realized that they’ve been screwing everything up and ruining why people liked them in the first place.

I get it … TikTok got all popular and stuff. So then Instgram panicked and decided that they had to copy all of the success of our Chinese overlords in order to hold the attention spans of busty influencers and 13 year olds everywhere, and they gave Reels a boost. OK … they gave Reels a BIG boost and basically threw everything else in the trashcan and assumed nobody wanted it anymore.

Well guess what? Reels are REALLY annoying to have to constantly create, especially if you’re a small business owner who has 647 other daily tasks and jobs to deal with. Now, instead of being able to produce some well-curated photographs that were on brand, you had to spend hours trying to come up with 60 second sizzle Reels all the time just to keep up with the stupid algorithms. And that ended up creating a large group of brands that started doing Reels because they HAD to, and not because they actually WANTED to, thus flooding the landscape with a whole lotta crappy Reels that nobody wanted to look at in the first place (or create).

Thankfully the team at Instagram finally came to their senses and admitted they had gone overboard on pushing Reels in the past year. Now I’m not going sit here and act like everything in world has been healed and crafting an Instagram page for your business that has solid reach and engagement is by any means “easy,” but at least we’re returning to a more competitive balance of content.

So what’s the big takeaway from all of this? I see two things …

1. Always always ALWAYS grab content in as many forms as possible. If you’re taking a picture, don’t just take that one picture and move on. Take a vertical picture. Take a horizontal picture. Take a quick vertical video. Take a quick horitonzal video. Take a LONGER video. Then save ALL of it. Never ever assume that whatever is “working” right now in social media is what will still be the standard in six months … or a year … or six hours from now for that matter. You’re spending the time to grab the content … take the extra minute to grab it in multiple forms.

2. Never ever EVER try to copy somebody else just because something seems to be “working” for them. This goes for a small business trying to copy another brand on social media just as much as it goes for the multi-billion dollar social media company themselves that tried to copy another one. They didn’t do it becuase they genuinely believed in the process, they did it because they were merely following something that looked like it was working for a competitor.

Personally, I don’t understand why all of these gigantic tech companies feel like they need to monopolize EVERY market. Why can’t they do one thing really well and serve their customers instead of feeling the need to be a retail outlet, streaming service, game hub, health care provider, social media network, and whatever the heck else they can try to control?

When you try to please everybody, you end up pleasing nobody.

Keep that in mind when working to grow your business. Do what’s genuine to you and what you do well. The rest will follow!

Are you afraid of the Metaverse?

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Personally I think the metaverse (or VR/AR in general) has a ton of potential to do great things, but I don’t blame the people in this study one bit who said it made them “more scared” about the future. I’m not exactly excited to trust Zuck as our virtual leader either.

Here’s the reality (or maybe it’s the VIRTUAL reality … ba-dum-tss) … VR/AR will absolutely continue to grow and become a bigger part of our lives. There’s simply too many billions of dollars being sunk into it for it to not happen. So as a brand you need to start asking yourself, “How are ways that my brand can use this avenue for the GOOD of my business and my customers?” It about finding new ways to engage with your people on a personal level, and that can always be made into a positive thing when done properly.

Nearly a third of U.S. adults are more ‘scared’ of the metaverse than ‘excited’

Approach Your Business With “Little Dog Attitude”

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I have a little dog named Francy.  She’s a muttley rat terrier(ish) sort of dog that weighs all of about 14 pounds (we have a cat that’s bigger than she is).  She spends most of her life curled up on a pillow, a lap, or a blanket … to the point that I’ve always said she’d be perfectly content if she was a dog with no legs that had to be carried around everywhere she went.  She’s super sweet, cuddly, and friendly to just about anyone and anything on earth … until she sees a big dog.

Then … “little dog attitude” kicks in and Francy ain’t gonna take no crap from nobody.

I’ve seen this little dog launch herself into the air, land on top of a dog four times her size, and pin them to the ground in a growling fit of unexplained rage.  Why? I honestly have no clue.  I don’t know why this dog spends 98% of her life perfectly content to be in some sort of snuggle position, only to turn into a rabid beast with more attitude than Conor McGregor’s pre-fight interview.

But what I do know is this … that’s “tiny dog attitude,” and that’s how every small business owner should operate.  Don’t be afraid of the big guys … attack them!  Better yet … COPY THEM!!!!

These large corporations can spend millions (or billions) of dollars on marketing, advertising, and branding on a level that a small business will never be able to equal.  However, what a small business can do is study the big dogs, and then emulate these practices for their own brand.

Before Wal-Mart was … well … Wal-Mart … Sam Walton built his empire by doing one thing amazingly well … studying his competition.  He walked around other stores, paid attention to how things looked, where items were located, how shoppers behaved, etc etc. He then took this data back to his own store and used it to improve his own customer experience to a level that nobody else was even considering.  He had “tiny dog attitude” back then that allowed him to grow into one of the biggest dogs of them all.

Soooo … that brings us to the present, where we can see what the big dog is up to, and that my friends, is first-party data collection.  That’s right, the JPG Agency mantra of OWNING YOUR AUDIENCE is in full effect! (Excuse me while I sprain my shoulder patting myself on the back for a minute.)

Wal-Mart knows that the key to their continued dominance is to know, first hand, everything they possibly can about their customer, their wants and needs, their purchasing patterns, their lifestyle interest, their moods, and just about anything else they can get their hands on.  And while this data leads to an enhanced shopping experience for their customers, what it also does is give them an additional cash cow that they can use with others.

Did you know Wal-Mart made $2.1 billion dollars in ad REVENUE last year?  That’s right, other brands are paying Wal-Mart to get access to the data they’ve collected, and the home of “Everyday Low Prices” is poised to become one of the top ten ad agencies in the country within the next five years.

So how do we apply this to our “tiny dog attitude” lesson for the day?  It’s simple … we OWN OUR AUDIENCE.  We don’t rely on some social media algorithm to reach our customers or PPC ad spend or whatever.  We develop ways to obtain the contact information of our customers in a way that allows us to directly engage with them without having to depend on anybody else to do it for us.  Nobody … and I repeat … NOBODY is going to understand your business better than you, so why in the world would we put all of our reliance onto somebody else to do it for us?

Is there a place within our success path to do things like social media marketing, digital ad spends, and things like that?  Absolutely!  And we here at the JPG Agency are happy to help you do that, but we also believe very strongly in helping you develop ways to grow your direct data streams with your customers, because we know that is the true key to growth and long term success.  Don’t let the big dogs strut around like they control everything … launch yourselves into the air and pin them to the ground yourself!

Here’s some additional articles/resources for the details discussed in this article today:

Walmart made $2.1 billion in advertising last year—here’s how

Walmart Media Group Rebrands to Walmart Connect in Bid to become a Top 10 US Ad Biz

Walmart moves further into livestream shopping

Meta vs. TikTok: The Short-Form Video War

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In the past year, TikTok has put a significant dent in Meta’s world of social media dominance of Facebook and Instagram. Facebook’s user numbers shrunk for the first time in the history of the company, and the brand identity of “Facebook is for old people” and “Instagram isn’t as good as it used to be” has continued to grow sentiment with younger demographics.

In retaliation, as outlined by Social Media Today, Meta is turning up the heat on TikTok and going all in on short form video. Facebook and Instagram Reels are rapidly adding monetary incentives for content creators and pushing their content out organically in an effort to get more and more users hooked on the short form video format. If you’ve made any kind of “regular” post recently on FB/IG (especially IG) and then made a Reels post as a reach comparison, the numbers aren’t even close. Meta is putting their eggs in the short-form video basket and doing so in a way that they hope will bury TikTok, or at the very least swing the pendulum of new growth back to their platforms.

Here’s a crazy idea … maybe had they not squashed the hell out of organic engagement in an effort to force people to buy more ads, this never would’ve happened in the first place?

I don’t know about you, but in the “good old days” of FB/IG when you could simply post good content on a regular basis and have organic growth, it actually made me WANT to spend money on ads to spread that content even further. Now I feel like I’ve gone to a restaurant where I’ve ordered a meal and they’ve served me a bunch of hot garbage on a plate, but tell me “well if you pay us a little bit more, then MAYBE we’ll bring you some better food. We probably won’t bring you the whole dish or exactly the food you wanted, but we’ll be happy to take your money and throw you a few more crumbs.” Doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies on the inside.

We’ve seen this pattern before … when Facebook first starting crushing organic growth, people started gravitating to Instagram. They could post nice pictures, get a bunch of likes, grab a handful of new followers with every post. Things felt fun and positive, and you felt like you could grow your brand in a simple and effective way. So what did Facebook (or Meta or Darth Zuckerberg or whatever you want to call it) do? They bought the company of course! Because while the old adage may be, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” the mantra in a trillion dollar tech world is more “if you can’t beat ’em, copy ’em, steal their market share, crush their growth, and then buy ’em out.”

So that’s what Facebook did, and then began to apply the same practices to Instagram. Oh you actually want someone to SEE your post? Give us money and then MAYBE we’ll let our algorithm robot overlords expose it to a couple new people. Or maybe we won’t, but we’ll take your money either way. Pleasure doing business with you!

The battlefield is set yet again … this time against TikTok. So what will happen next? Will Meta win this battle too? Will TikTok be able to weather the storm? Social Media Today has some observations on how this could be a total disaster for TikTok, so it will interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Regardless of how this all shakes out, the real message here for the growth and success of YOUR brand is one that we preach over and over here at The JPG Agency … OWN YOUR AUDIENCE!!!!! Social media platforms certainly have a place in your branding and marketing strategies, but they should be a supplement to your primary objective of creating a direct line of communication with your audience that allows you to engage with them on YOUR terms.

Sure … you can make a post on Facebook, or Instagram, or TikTok, or [insert next big thing here] but you’ll always be relying on that platform to actually deliver that content to people. Meanwhile, when YOU are the one who owns your audience and has a way to reach them directly, you can do exactly that and not rely on someone else’s algorithm to do it for you. Yes … this method takes TIME to achieve, but once you have that direct line of communication, you own it FOREVER, no matter what new trend or delivery system emerges.

6 Simple Ways to Increase Facebook Page Engagement

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Guest writer: Andrew Scherer, HSBO

Almost 3 billion people use Facebook every month, including almost 300 million in the United States. With that number expected to increase to around 325 million in 2026, it’s no surprise that 93% of businesses are on Facebook. 

Furthermore, 78% of consumers in the United States have made purchases after discovering products on Facebook. However, if you’re frustrated by the lack of engagement you are getting on your Facebook page, don’t despair. With a few simple changes, you can drastically increase your Facebook engagement and drive more traffic, sales, and conversions.

Here are six simple ways to increase Facebook page engagement. 

1. Analyze Your Most Popular Posts

Your first step should be to analyze your most popular Facebook posts. That will allow you to discover things such as: 

  • Which topics are driving the most engagement
  • What type of media gets the most likes, shares, and comments
  • Whether short or long posts fare better
  • Which CTAs work best

For example, you may find out that posts with memes get more reactions or that posts with GIFs get more shares. Or, you may learn that asking a question leads to more comments or that using a specific type of CTA results in more click-throughs. 

Facebook Insights has all that you need to analyze your top posts. There, you can sort your top posts by shares, likes, or comments. I suggest doing all three to figure out the specific factors that lead to each of those three. Then, you can try to combine all those factors in future posts to get more post interactions. 

Like in SEO, the 80/20 rule applies here: You will likely discover that 20% of the strategies or tactics you have been using generate 80% of all your success on Facebook. 

You will need a Facebook page, as opposed to a private profile, to access those insights. 

2. Post What Your Audience Wants

It sounds simple, but it’s necessary to stress nonetheless. That’s because too many businesses post what they want to post instead of what their audience likes. 

Or, they post what they think their audience enjoys. However, their audience may want something different. 

So, how can you find out what your audience is interested in? Analyzing your top posts is one way to do that, but you don’t have to stop there. There is a lot more information you can glean from other sources. 

I suggest using Facebook Audience Insights, which you can access in the Facebook Ad Manager. There, you can drill down into the specific demographics of your target audience, including: 

  • Age 
  • Gender
  • Relationship and marital status
  • Education
  • And a lot more

I advise taking a look at the Interests section. There, you can learn about the types of pages your target audience has expressed an interest in on Facebook. If a large percentage of your audience seems interested in a topic, consider incorporating it in your future posts. 

It’s also worth asking your audience directly. An easy way to do this is to set up a poll on Facebook. If you have a Facebook page, this is straightforward – create a post and select the poll option. Add a few different response options, and set a time for your poll to end. 

3. Keep Your Posts Short

Facebook doesn’t limit the length of your posts like Twitter does (technically, there is an upper limit, but it’s over 63,000 characters). Nevertheless, if your posts are too long, people will just gloss over them. 

When long posts show up in users’ news feeds, Facebook will only show the beginning of those posts. Users will have to click on “See more” to reveal the rest of the post. That’s why your most important information should be at the top of your post. At the very least, include an intro that is eye-catching and engaging. 

However, if people click on your post to read more and discover a lengthy essay, they won’t bother reading through it. 

Consider keeping your posts to just one or two paragraphs. That way, people will be able to read your entire post, without any of it getting hidden by Facebook in the news feeds. 

You’ll be surprised by how short you can make your Facebook posts and still get superb engagement. You might think that longer posts engage better, but they don’t. The ideal Facebook post length for optimal interaction is just 50 characters, according to a Buzzsumo analysis. Generally, the longer posts get after that, the less engagement they attract. 

4. Don’t Disregard Images and Videos

Did you know that Facebook posts with images get more than double the amount of engagement as text-only posts? 

The reason for that is simple. Humans are visual creatures. Half of our brains are involved with processing visual information. We can identify images we see for just a few milliseconds, and we learn and remember information better when it’s presented in a visual format. 

When people are scrolling through Facebook, they are often relaxing or distracted. They might not be in the mood to force their brains to concentrate on a block of text. Seeing what their friends are up to by browsing images and videos they uploaded is a lot easier and requires less effort. 

Facebook, above all, is a social platform. People go there for the social aspect and less so for discovering businesses and products. Nevertheless, by using visual imagery, you can overcome that obstacle and make your posts eye-catching, fun to look at, engaging, and interesting. 

As you may expect, videos also make your posts infinitely more exciting and engaging. Typically, video posts do a lot better than posts with images. Nevertheless, you can’t make all your posts into video posts – you want to spice things up a little. 

Even when posting images, you want to vary the type of photos you post. For example, you can include professional product pictures in some posts, but include snapshots of your team and office space in others. You can upload GIFs and memes to foster a stronger relationship with your fans and catch the attention of even more followers. 

Just be original! Don’t lift memes off the internet. Instead, follow meme pages on Instagram to learn about recent meme trends and make unique variations of those memes, geared towards your niche and followers. Remember that memes won’t work well for every niche – they tend to work better with younger audiences. 

5. Post at the Right Time

Not all businesses realize this, but Facebook won’t show your post to all your followers. It will only show each post to a small percentage of fans. Facebook looks at the pages and profiles a user engages with most often when deciding which content to show them, and in which order to prioritize that content. 

In addition, it won’t necessarily show all your posts to even your most engaged followers. Or, it might display some content further down in their feeds, and they may never see it. 

Posting at the right time can help you beat the algorithm, as it increases the chances of your followers coming across your content. When your followers spend more time on Facebook, Facebook will end up showing them more content than usual. 

So, what is the best time to post on Facebook? Many studies have been done on this, with different studies suggesting different optimal times. However, as a general rule, afternoons seem to be a good time, especially on Thursdays and Fridays. At those times, people are at work but are tired and are looking for distractions. 

Early morning during the week may also be a good time. Weekends may not work as well, as people may be busy spending time with their families or relaxing. 

It’s worth pointing out that your followers may live in different time zones, especially if you run a global ecommerce store. Look at your audience demographics to see where they are located. 

Also, the optimal time varies from one target audience to another. That’s why it is better to do your research instead of relying on the research of others. Publish posts at different times, on different days, and track engagement for each post. Eventually, you will notice trends, and you will be able to pinpoint which times work best for you. 

6. Engage With Commenters

Finally, engage with commenters! If people comment on your posts, but you never reply or even like their comments, they will eventually stop commenting and engaging with your posts. Nobody wants to feel ignored, as if their opinions are not valued. 

Reply to comments regularly. Even if you schedule posts to be published in advance, you need to check in on your page and engage with comments. You don’t have to respond to each comment, but the least you can do is like or react to them. 

Final Thoughts

Engagement on Facebook is critical. Facebook uses engagement to decide which content to show to which users. If you can get people to engage with your content, it will create a snowball effect. The more they interact with your posts, the more Facebook will show them your content, leading to even more engagement. That makes it easier to eventually convert them into clients.