Filter this! Just kidding – Keep Content Real

filter photo collage

Using a photo filter has a time and place. I admit that I like to explore the filters on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, but there is some lost authenticity when you rely on manipulating the image too much.

A few years ago, my friend Kirsten sent me a photo she had of us taken on her phone. My response was, “Wow, we look good!” She replied, “Never underestimate the power of a filter.” And that was my introduction to the photo filter.

The Evolution of the Filter

Mobile photo filtering has progressed beyond Instagram. Now you can filter quickly from your phone, and from every social media platform. Confess – Who hasn’t had fun with the SnapChat filters or even the new Facebook Messenger ones? But in honesty, even after scrolling through all of the filters, the majority of my posts are without.

filter photo collage
Who hasn’t had some fun with the Snapchat filters?

There is Such a Thing as Too Much

It came to my attention a few weeks ago that there is a certain brand using a filter for EVERY image post on their Instagram. I get the idea of continuity and wanting posts to have the same “vibe”, but there is some authenticity lost  by insisting on using a filter every time.

Cropping the image is okay, because you filter out noise when you want catch someone’s eye when they are scrolling through their feed. Consider the image you are posting. If the intent of your social media presence is to drive sales, can each image be directly related to the brand or product?

I submit to you that more important than making sure that your brand social media images look exactly the same, or posting photos of pretty sunsets and snow covered roads – focus on using relevant hashtags and tagging the right people.

Staged photos aren’t representative of real life. Life happens without filters, and so should the majority of your content.





Follow and Follow Back

Social media is a reciprocal relationship of “Follow and Follow Back”. This applies to anyone who has a presence on social media.

Follow selectively

That doesn’t mean you need to follow every one. In fact, I’m a bit discriminating about who I will follow back. Especially if it seems like all I’m getting is a sales pitch.

What I want to do is build my network. In my opinion, building and maintaining a social media relationship is similar to going to a networking group or being part of a group online.

As I continue to build my personal brand and business, I want to be able to rely on my network for advice, opinion and input. And you never know when that relationship will come in handy!

Where others “miss the boat”

It’s cliche, but I see brands missing the proverbial boat when it comes to the Follow and Follow Back methodology.

If you are an established brand like Coca-Cola or BMW,  following back is not the necessity it is for smaller brands.

Brands who want brand awareness must be proactive in their engagement with others. This happens by being aware of hashtags, and following and tagging relevant brands, media and influencers in the industry.

Get found by others

Case in point. On Instagram, if you post a photo of a 1968 Fastback Mustang, then you should be including every Mustang hashtag that makes sense including #Ford and #FordMustang.

Use hashtags to find content
Include hashtags that allow your content to be found.

Don’t forget to include media tags to your favorite publications like #musclemustangsandfastfords. A saavy social media manager may pick up that you are an enthusiast, and could be a great brand ambassador or contributor.


Social Media Marketing Is Only Valuable If You’re Doing It Right

“Thoughts on Social Media Marketing Is It a Fad?”  This was recently posted on an Automotive Aftermarket Networking page last week. It was no surprise that there were over 200 comments, and the overwhelming sentiment is that it is NOT a fad. Many respondents say that it has played a key role growing his or her business, and it is necessary for brand awareness. Others agree about the importance of social media marketing, but have issues with changing algorithms and organic reach.

There still seems to be a lot of confusion about what is the best way to approach social media marketing. While I didn’t comment to the post, it inspired me to write this blog post.

Changing Social Media Marketing Sentiment

Facebook business pages were launched in 2007 and was still a relatively new concept in 2009. At the time I was interviewing for a Communications Specialist position. I asked the VP of Marketing and Sales what he thought about social media. He quickly replied that he felt it was a fad.

I got the job, and in 2010, I had the opportunity to start the brand’s Facebook page. When I left the company in 2015,  the brand’s Facebook page had over 800,000 followers and social media platforms included Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+.

You Must Still Pay to Play

It would be nice to think that all of the success was due to organic reach, but it wasn’t. With a minimal budget, we utilized social media marketing early on primarily to promote campaigns and contests. Via promoted posts and tweets we were able to target audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to our posts. It was fascinating to watch the insights and page likes go up.

While we had the support of the promotional posts to the page traffic, I then began to “train” our page fans to look for multiple posts a day. This approach would hopefully foster continued organic reach. Based on the traffic we were experiencing, Dennis Yu of Blitzmetrics recommended that I post 2-3 times a day. It seems like a lot, but if you think about the key times that people access their social media (morning, afternoon and evening), it makes sense that you are reaching different audiences with each post.

I was fortunate that the company offered a wide variety of products to B2B and B2C customers. That way, I ensured that every image I posted could be directly related to a product we sold.

Social Media Marketing Cannot Stand Alone

You social media marketing efforts cannot live outside of your overall Content Strategy. Instead, in this day and age of mobile and digital communication, it is one of the most important components.

If you look at the  Social Media Marketing Cycle illustrated below you start at the top with your goals. These goals should mirror your overall marketing goals. The next two parts of the cycle – Content and Target work hand in hand and could perhaps be switched in the cycle.

Social Media Marketing Cycle

Who are the personas you are targeting? More than likely you have more than one. So with each persona, what is the right content? You wouldn’t post the same content aimed at the gearhead and and use it to engage the minivan mom.

Then consider how are you going to amplify your content? You can spend your budget correctly by targeting, but also being flexible enough to re-target and optimize those posts. If you aren’t willing to analyze your targeting to ensure you’re getting the most traction from your spend, most likely you’re shouting your best qualities to an empty room.

Finally, keep an eye on your insights, and know how to explain them. Starting with a small social media budget that yields good results will give you leverage to ask for more the next quarter or fiscal year.