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LOOKING TO 2022: WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HECK IS THE METAVERSE?

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You probably saw it in the news … Facebook announced its parent company was changing their name to “Meta.”  And in true Facebook fashion, it came equipped with creepy statements like “we are a company that builds technology to connect people, and the metaverse is the next frontier.”  (Cue sinister Dr. Evil music and your own sippy cup of Kool-Aid for the journey.)

The reality is, Facebook owns a lot of things … Facebook, Instagram, your personal data(!)  … the list goes on.  So at the core, it DOES make sense for them to rename the parent company, but it may leave you scratching your head and wondering what the heck this “metaverse” actually is.  

My opinion? It’s the future of social and digital media and something that your business should be prepared to capitalize on to reach and grow your customer base.  

I don’t make this statement because I’ve done hours of research or have some sort of crystal ball, I just see what the giant companies with tons of MONEY are doing.  Those companies are sinking money and resources into the metaverse.  Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft … you name it … they have their hands in this.  So I keep it simple … go where the big money is going and figure out how to capitalize on it.

So what is the metaverse?  Really it’s just a fancy buzzword for “virtual reality,” but with a cool and scary twist … we basically all live inside it.  Have you seen the movie “Ready Player One?”  If you haven’t, then go watch it, because more and more I have the feeling the “fiction” of the story has a very eerie possibility of coming true.  People will basically spend most of their waking hours living in virtual worlds.

And while it’s scary at its extreme, think of the practical business applications.  For example:

  • A restaurant shows an entire table of food laid out to an interested diner before they visit
  • A dog trainer gives hands on training to an animal 1,000 miles away
  • A clothing designer lets you “try on” an outfit without ever leaving your house.

Pretty cool, huh?  

Is it also kinda terrifying to think about people “living” in a fake world?  Yup! But all we can really do as small business owners is understand the trends, and then figure out ways we can use them to make our own surroundings better (and hopefully those we interact with).  

Start thinking out of the box and ask yourself how you can take advantage of this virtual world for your business. Like it or not … the metaverse is coming and it’s time to understand how to take advantage of it.

I’M OUTRAGED!!! (wait … am I?)

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“As a business owner, I love navigating the minefield of social media outrage!” … said no one ever.

Down one path, social media can be a wonderful way to connect with friends, family, and clientele.  A place to stay in touch, share life moments, and as a business be able to interact on a personal level with current and future customers.

The other path?  Yikes.  Remember in “Beauty and the Beast” when the Dad looked down one path in the forest and the weather was beautiful, the birds were singing, and the colors were glorious?  Then the other path looked like darkness, death, and destruction?  Yeah … that’s what we’re dealing with here.

Side note:  WHY DID HE CHOSE THE SCARY PATH??? The other path was lovely! Wanna know why?  If we make the jump and compare this to social media, it’s because he was trained to take the dark path.

Researchers at Yale recently measured expressions of “moral outrage” on social media (specifically Twitter) and found out something very interesting … the algorithms and engagement metrics encouraged people to continue their outrage.  You see this all the time on Facebook as well where someone expresses their outrage, and then basks in the glory of all the likes and comments that they get from their friends and followers.  So guess what? That trains their brains to crave that attention and do it even more!

Feel free to also throw in a recent NYU study that showed that misinformation on Facebook gets SIX TIMES as much attention as actual facts.  Six times!  So basically now we have a situation where people are being spoon fed misinformation, and then their brains eat it right up with a dash of “moral outrage” to further complicate everything.

So what, as a business owner, do you do about it?  

Nothing.

That’s right. NOTHING!

Remember that sunshine-filled path from “Beauty and the Beast?”  Go down that one instead!

What I mean specifically when it comes to operating a business on social media, is to stay true to the identity and voice of your brand. Resist the temptation to get pulled into things that stray away from it. Instead, focus on creating the best possible experience you can for your customers.

I tell my clients all the time … stop caring about how many likes and comments ANY post gets, and instead care about how that post speaks for your brand and how it appeals to your customer.  You don’t make money off Instagram likes, you make money by selling your product or services to your target audience.  Don’t get tricked into pointing your arrow away from that target!

The Almighty InstAgram Algorithm Explained (sorta)

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A common question most everyone who’s ever posted on Instagram has asked themselves … Who the heck actually sees these posts? What sort of magical robot determines this? Well … that robot (to an extent) was recently explained in more detail by Instagram head Adam Mosseri.

If you’d like to read the whole post, it’s in the Instagram blog section, but I’ll do my best to save you the time and give you the quickest summary possible. In fact, if I had to recap the post in just one sentence it would be this …

“We promise our collection of algorithms strives to show you all the stuff you like the best. Trust us!”

So … do you trust them?

Me? Kinda.

I know that’s a flimsy answer, but I’ll explain. Do I think Instagram strives to show you the content it thinks you like the most? I do. It doesn’t do them any good to inundate you with content you hate because … quite frankly … you’d stop using them.

So what does this mean for a business and reaching customers? The more a person interacts with your page, the more the algorithm thinks they like your content, and the more of your future content it will show them. This is why you seem to have a stable of superfans that like and comment on everything you post. They’re locked in by the algorithm, and it shows them all your posts.

So how do we turn more people into these superfans? That’s the REAL challenge, and I believe the only legit way to do this is to go on offense. You need to take the time to target these customers, and go to their page and interact with THEM. Social media is a two way street, and when you start realizing this, more traffic flows in your direction as well.

Ever go to someone’s page you haven’t seen in your feed in a while and interacted with their page for a couple posts? Well guess who ends up close to the top of your feed the next day? That person! Why? Because the algorithm knows you interacted with them before and figures you’d like to do it again.

So try going on offense and interacting with some of your followers (or even the followers of your competitors). Like one of their posts, throw in a comment, or better yet ask them a QUESTION … because when they reply it carries even more weight with the algorithm. Also … keep this engagement in mind when creating your own posts. Instead of making a statement like “we have happy hour specials,” consider asking a question like “anybody out there excited for happy hour?” Squeezing out just a couple more comments/likes per post makes a difference, and definitely adds up over time. And when somebody comments on one of your posts, do your best to reply to that comment (again ideally with a question), and that interaction may squeeze out even more engagement.

Is this a simple thing to do? Absolutely. Is it a time saver? Absolutely not. But sometimes the best growth for your business takes some effort (but you already knew this).

Don’t Be Everywhere

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Social media can be an exhausting landscape.  Facebook.  Instagram.  Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Pinterest. Oh wait … and now there’s Tik Tok.  And Clubhouse.  And Instagram has launched Reelz.  And Twitter has something called Spaces. And what about my Facebook and Instagram Stories?  Oh and my YouTube.  And IGTV.  And should I be on Facebook Live?

AHHHHHH!!!!!

Feels like too much, doesn’t it?  Well there’s a reason for that … it IS too much.  No rational human with an actual life (let alone a business owner with a hundred different duties on their plate) can possibly do all of these things.  So how the heck do we do all of these things?

I have great news for you … we don’t.

WHAAAT??? You’re telling me I don’t need to have my business on every single social media platform?

Yup.  That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Sure … every one of those things I mentioned CAN serve a purpose for a business but that doesn’t mean it serves a purpose for YOUR business.  Furthermore, unless you have an entire staff of individuals who’s sole job is to produce and share content on every single social media platform, you’re simply never going to have the time to do all of them properly.

And that’s OK.

To me … the single most important social media strategy is to first decide which platforms work best for your specific business goals.  You don’t have to be on ALL of them.  You just have to be on the ones that you feel you’re able to maintain an interesting and engaging voice for your brand.  That’s what will yield you the highest return on the investment of your time and energy.

You won’t get punished by your customer base for not having a Twitter page, but you will get punished by your customer base for having a BAD Twitter page.

I don’t know about you, but if I am checking out a business, and I see that their last post was 11 months ago and it simply said “Happy 4th of July,” I’m immediately less interested in what they’re offering.

Don’t let that happen to your business!  Take an honest look at every social media platform you are on and what kind of content you’re producing.  If it’s not where you think it should be, then consider trimming the number of sources. 

If having just one or two social media platforms for your business is all you can handle, then put all your focus into those.  It is far more beneficial to do a great job at a handful of things vs. spreading yourself too thin and doing an average job (or below average job) at a lot of things.

Facebook Finally adds story scheduling!

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Scheduling Stories is Here!

Rejoice!

Being able to schedule posts has been a Godsend for small businesses and social media managers alike. And while there are plenty of third party sites out there that offer this service, using Facebook’s Creator Studio function presents itself as a more convenient option because it doesn’t require additional logins and syncing to other sites. (Plus, let’s not act like Facebook doesn’t give preferential treatment to posts run through its own site vs. outside sources!)

Scheduling POSTS has been a great resource, but Facebook had yet to allow the scheduling of STORIES … until now! Stories are a great way to create an additional contact point with your audience, but it has always required you to do it in the moment, which can be incredibly difficult for any small business owner who’s already wearing 27 different hats on a daily basis. Now you FINALLY have the ability to do it in your down time, additionally allowing you the advantage of scheduling things with daily relevance to drop at midnight on that day and disappear 24 hours later. No longer does your “Happy Taco Tuesday” story have sit there and look all ridiculous for 8 more hours on a Wednesday morning!

There is one catch … this function is available in Facebook’s new Business Suite functions, which not everyone has access to just yet. For more information on Business Suite and scheduling stories, Social Media today has more