Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What You Need to Know About the New Facebook Algorithm

Facebook recently announced that it will be rolling out a new algorithm, and it has gotten brands and businesses alike abuzz with worry about what these changes mean for them. The reality is that your newsfeed will favour content from your friends, family, and groups over business pages, which really, is what Facebook was originally all about. 

Yes, unfortunately your organic reach will probably drop. The good news? These changes forces brands to up their content game. We've been preaching quality over quantity for years, and that earning engagement online is like winning the Stanley Cup of social media, and platforms are finally getting on board. 

How can your brand stand out with these changes?

·      Comments = King
The new algorithm favours authentic engagement above everything else. Not only should you be taking the time to comment on others posts, but you should focus your posts on asking thought provoking questions and encouraging engagement as well.

What not to do: Increasing engagement does not mean bugging your audience to comment on every. single. post. You wouldn’t do this in real life, so don’t do it online either.

·      Now is the time to give Facebook Live a try
The keyword here is live. According to Mark Zuckerberg “live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

What not to do: Of coure this isn’t a catchall; use Facebook live when appropriate but don’t overkill it with irrelevant topics. Does your breakfast really need to be shared on Facebook live? Probably not.

·      Personal branding is where it’s at
Think outside the box of your business page. Use your personal account to build relationships and reach people. If you are an entrepreneur or business owner, it’s pretty much expected that you eat, breathe, and live your business, so why not spark conversations with your network about ideas or hear their suggestions?

What not to do: There’s a fine line between promoting your biz and spamming. Building relationships does not mean talking about your biz 24/7; it’s about nurturing your current connections through a wide range of personal and professional conversations. 

·      Be a good listener
Listening skills are going to be even more important with these changes. The only way to have an accurate pulse on who your audience actually is, is to listen to them. Take the time to hear what they care about, what they’re talking about, and where they spend their time online.

What not to do: Don’t forget to listen to your competitors too. You probably share an audience, so if they aren’t talking about you, they just might be talking about them.

Facebook returning to it’s roots means that your brand should as well. Think back on the classic building blocks of relationships and communications – creating trust, two-way conversations, and transparency. 

Social media doesn't replace real relationships; it merely provides a medium to further them. The key here is to treat your online relationships the same as you would if you were face to face, and by the sounds of it, this new algorithm will reward real relationships accordingly and help cut out the fake news. 

What do you think of these changes? Do you have any concerns?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Twitter Chats 101

Congratulations! You finally joined the Twitter world, and are ready to dive in. Although if you are in the Public Relations field, you have hopefully been on Twitter for some time now. Here at Bowda, we love Twitter chats. They are a great way to connect with colleagues on a global level, and engage in great conversations.

What is a Twitter chat anyways? A Twitter chat is a scheduled discussion around a specific topic. Twitter users participate by following a designated hashtag and including it in their own tweets. Most chats take place over an hour, and happen one to four times a month.

Here are our top 3 tips for participating in a Twitter chat:

  1. Find a Twitter chat that interests you. There are plenty of resources that provide lists of current Twitter chats. We suggest using Tweet Report’s website as they have a great list of chats organized by day of the week. Check them out here: http://www.tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/
Since Twitter chats can be global, remember to check their timezone. Once you have picked a chat, schedule it into your calendar so you don’t miss it. Just a few that we participate in are: #HootChat, #Bufferchat, #SocialROI and #semrushchat.

  1. Prepare your toolkit. Twitter chats are fast paced, and over before you know it. Here are a few free tools to help you follow along:
Tweetchat uses the hashtag given and provides you with a feed similar to Twitter that is the specific chat. This stream is updated in real time, and you can easily RT and create your own tweets while using it. Plus they include the hashtag for you, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting it.  
Tweetdeck is similar. You enter your hashtag and authorize your account to start, and the rest is simple. This tool allows you to create multiple columns so you can see all aspects of the chat at once. You can event schedule a tweet within the program.
Access both tools here:

  1. Get involved and follow up. Twitter chats are fun, and you can learn a lot while participating! For many people’s first Twitter chats, they simply observe. Once you are comfortable, you can start replying to questions yourself and adding your own input. It is great to retweet tweets you agree with, and tweet at your fellow participants. Do not hesitate to follow users and thank others for following you. Just as you should at a networking event, follow up with people after a chat! This is a key to expanding your reach and network on Twitter.

There you have it, our top 3 tips for Twitter chats! Each chat is a great opportunity to expand your network, and learn about the topic at hand. Now that you know how, and why to participate in Twitter chats, we hope you put these tips to use. Happy tweeting!  

Monday, June 12, 2017

4 PR/Communications Events to Attend in Ottawa

Summer has (finally) arrived, and the temptation is high to ditch all responsibilities to have fun in the sun. Just because the heat is here, it doesn’t mean you can’t mix business with pleasure! Check out the following four public relations and communications events happening right here in your city this summer. Whether you are a public relations or communications professional or student, you might want to consider checking out these amazing networking and professional development opportunities!

The Ottawa Chapter of the The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) will be hosting their Annual General Meeting on June 13th from 5:00-7:00pm. This event is important because new members to the board of directors will be elected. They will also provide a presentation of their annual reports on the student program, professional development, and their financial position. Whether or not you have been involved with this CPRS chapter before, attending their AGM will give you a great idea of the benefits of being a member. This event also doubles as a great networking opportunity with local public relations professionals. The event will be held at Alt Hotel Ottawa. Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/cprs-ottawa-gatineau-2017-annual-general-meeting-assemblee-generale-annuelle-2017-de-la-srpc-ottawa-tickets-34910309676

Similarly, the Ottawa chapter of the International Association for Business Communicators will be hosting their Annual General Meeting on June 20th, from 5:30-8:00pm at the 3 Brewers on Sparks Street. Voting for their new executive board will take place, as well as some awards. There will be time to network and connect with communications professionals over cocktails during the evening. Reserve your ticket here: http://ottawa.iabc.com/events/celebrate-ottawas-communications-community-at-the-iabc-end-of-season-event/
Additionally, if you want to help IABC Ottawa build their strategy for their chapter, you’ll want to attend one of their focus groups. There will be a focus group for non-members on June 15th from 5:30-7:30. For members, the focus group will be held on June 22nd from 5:30-7:30. This is a great opportunity to make an impact on IABC Ottawa’s next year, and network with communications professionals. Reserve your spot through this link: http://ottawa.iabc.com/events/youre-invited-to-help-us-shape-the-future-of-iabc-ottawa-for-communicators-in-the-capital/

Local Talks will be hosting a panel around the theme of self-promotion on June 15th. You definitely want to make it out to this event because it is their one year anniversary in Ottawa! Not only is the location at Maker Space North extremely unique, there will be donuts and prizes on this evening. Kristen Ritchie, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Climax Media will be the moderator. The Local Talks panels spark a great conversation around each theme, and attracts a great crowd. This is a great event to attend if you are looking to connect with local entrepreneurs and professionals. For more information and tickets, visit their Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1139366279500586/

We have all seen multiple amazing TED Talks online, but have you ever considered that you could hear one live? That’s right, TEDxOttawa is happening here on September 28th. This event will be held at the Algonquin Commons Theatre, from 6:00-9:30pm. With a theme of “Who knew?” you can expect a range of speakers and topics. This event is a few months away, but tickets will go fast. Make sure to secure yours here: https://tedxottawa.ca/tickets/

Are you a little shy or somewhat introverted, or simply new to networking? Check out our blog post The Four C's of Networking for Introverts for tips and trips on networking best practices.

Will you be doing any professional development over the summer? Are these events up your alley? Share your thoughts and experiences with us!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Mystery Behind Facebook Business Manager

Benefits of Facebook Business Manager

Most businesses are active on Facebook, aiming to reach a portion of their one billion+ daily users; and many of those companies have been switching from using a personal profile as a business platform, to a Facebook Page because if not, they risk losing the page entirely. It is against Facebook Terms to use a personal account to represent something other than yourself, so they have the right to deny access to that account. If you manage one or more pages for a business, company, or organization, you have probably heard of Facebook Business Manager.

What is Facebook Business Manager?
It is a free tool, released in 2014, for agencies and organizations to manage access to their Pages and ad accounts without divulging their account passwords, and giving full access to each user. Facebook has been asking anyone who shares login information with others for their pages and ad accounts to change the way they sign in. This has become almost mandatory, unless you have a small account and have the option to choose to link your Pages and ad account to your personal profile.

The initial setup the Business Manager is actually very simple. However, it can take about an hour to figure it all out. I would caution you to make sure that the personal account you are using to get to https://business.facebook.com/ is the CEO of the business, or the main admin as they will have the highest power when managing all of the Pages and contributors on this account. What kinds of benefits are there to Business Manager? Here are a few:

Business Manager keeps you focused and efficient
You can keep your work and personal life completely separate with the use of business manager. Your Business Pages login is not the same as your personal profile login, which means that you are brought directly to the timeline of your projects, and your pages. This tool brings all of your pages and ad accounts to one centralized location, which you can easily flip through using the tabs provided. There is no more need to log into different accounts for multiple platforms, they can all be accessed through the same account.

This tool has made managing multiple Facebook Pages much easier and less daunting. It is more simple now to request access to a client’s page, and you can specify what kind of access you need, such as ad analyst, or editor. The client receives an email and can approve the request with just one click.

Assigning roles
One of the best features of business manager is that you can easily assign roles. This means that you can grant people access and tasks to different pages and ad accounts. There is a tab that allows you to easily see who is working on what page, whether it be an individual or a group. The master admin has the power to remove people easily, and grant specific access based on each project or task.

The beauty of this is that you do not have to be friends with someone to grant them access to a page. You simply need a coworker’s work email, avoiding seeing photos of their new dog on your personal timeline.

Recommended improvements
As mentioned previously, Facebook Business Manager was released in 2014. Since then, a number of bugs and technical difficulties have been erased and improved. We couldn’t help but notice a few ourselves, like the difficulty to comment or like posts from pages in business manager from a mobile device. Additionally, the steps to access a page’s newsfeed seem to change often, however Facebook does not provide this update information to its users. Please keep us in the loop, Facebook! Overall, it seems that Facebook Business Manager is a great tool for managing pages and ad accounts, but less ideal for interacting as a page.

The mandatory switch may feel harsh, but take the time to explore the benefits of Business Manager. Have you used Business Manager? How is your experience with it? Let us know in the comments below!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How Instagram Stories are kicking Snapchat’s Butt

The new Instagram Stories feature hit the social media scene on August 2nd and has been making more of a splash than anyone expected. Instagram stories are photos or videos where you can add text that only appear for a period of 24 hours.

Among my own personal network, I’ve noticed a surprisingly consistent decline in Snapchat usage ever since Instagram stories launched. Gone are all the stories from my friends and family, stories of the few celebrities I follow are seem to be the skeletons of what remains.

This could also be attributed to the unfortunate timing of launching an anime inspired filter that many thought to be racist and caused multiple brands like Buffer to jump ship from Snapchat. This was the perfect moment for Instagram to creep up and steal the spotlight, while many users were already questioning Snapchat’s values. Although Snapchat removed the filter and made a statement ensuring it wouldn't be put back into rotation, the damage was already done and the opportunity created. 

Here’s how Instagram seized it:

  • Going after growth
One of the main reasons Instagram stories are successful is because they aren’t trying to covert current Snapchat users (even though they may successfully do just that), rather they are going after the ones who haven’t jumped on the Snap bandwagon yet. They aren’t trying to diminish or take over the app and it’s current following, but tackle it’s opportunity for growth. This TechCrunch article does a great job of explaining how they are using the “good enough” strategy, stating that "The real target for Instagram Stories, though, are all the people who've been curious about Snapchat's fun creation tools and format, but either tried and abandoned it, or wrote it off as just for teens or too much work to adopt"

  • One platform
Instagram stories offer the added benefit of being embedded right into Instagram, allowing you to have both features (short term stories and long term photo posting) in just one app. In a world where a new “it” app is popping up every day, and storage space on our cell phones is a constant struggle, this is huge. We already have so many apps to keep up with on a daily basis, adding stories to an app you’re already using anyways simplifies your life, and who would say no to some simplifying? Not me, that’s for sure!

Instagram CEO even openly admitted "They (Snapchat) deserve all the credit. This isn't about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it."

  • The numbers
I’ve read multiple articles about how Instagram stories are booming, but I always like to test the theories for myself for multiple reasons: 

1) Many of the articles are based out of the US and don’t take into account a Canadian market, 


2) they usually use large companies as examples for statistics and numbers, which isn’t overly pertinent or accurate when it comes to small business and/or personal branding.

On average, my Snapchat stories get between 20-40 views. I would attribute this to many factors, how many friends I have, time of day, content, etc. My very first Instagram story received over 90 views within the first few hours. I’ve been on Snapchat for months, but have been on Instagram for years. It only makes sense to take advantage of the platform you’ve invested more time into building your brand and audience on.

Facebook owned Instagram clearly had timing on their side, but also had strategy to back it up to ensure success.

Have you used Instagram stories yet? Which social media platform do you think will win the battle to share our stories?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Team Canada: A Nation of Success

Over the past several decades, Canadians have been able to come behind individual athletes to watch them achieve greatness. Though unable to compete themselves, the loyalty and devotion shown to them as fans has been a driving force in the success known as “Team Canada”. Team Canada’s social media is an avid portrayal of their willingness to make sport accessible and to demonstrate that anyone is capable of achieving greatness if they only believe. From inspiring graphics that feature athletes young and old alike, to articles that showcase Canada’s triumphs on the playing field, Team Canada is able to perfectly capture what it means to be Canadian. 
Due to the fact that Team Canada is nearly a cult phenomenon, they have a fairly large social media presence and therefore are able to gain a lot of traction with their posts and content sharing. The Team Canada Facebook page has 756,992 page likes, with post likes ranging from 24 to 50,000 depending on the content relevance. Twitter comes in with a close second at having 561 thousand followers, and Instagram with 84.5 thousand followers. Though not reaching over a million likes/followers on either page, Team Canada  also maintains several other forums, such as the Paralympic pages, the Canadian Olympic Team Foundation, and individual sport pages (Cycling or Hockey to name a few). Surprisingly however, they are able to interact with their followers on nearly every platform; whether it’s by adding to the conversation, addressing concerns or simply stating another point. They seem to keep their commentary relatable and often times add inspiring messages to satisfy their fans. By using the “Join the Olympic Club” slogan, they are able to make the Olympic team exclusive yet also widely attainable for anyone who wishes to participate. By highlighting the word ‘Club’, Team Canada has ensured that their fan base will feel included and apart of the selection process for every Olympic Games. In some ways, they encourage you to pretend to be an Olympian without actually having to be one.

Though the message that they are sharing online is relevant to their content, the one noticeable issue with their three social media platforms is that the same content is shared across the board. Their Instagram and Twitter are fairly similar with an image and a link being shown for both; the same image and link is later shared in full on the Facebook page. By having the same content across three platforms poses the risk of losing a follower base for each one. If viewers see that the same content is being shared on all three platforms and they follow all three, they will most likely unfollow one or the other due to repetitive content – no one wants to see the same thing twice (or three times in this case). The upside to this however is that the content itself will get more views and more traction because it is being shared on multiple platforms; everyone has their chosen media source and therefore will prefer one over another. Instagram leverages graphics and images, such as one of their most recent campaigns, the 100 day countdown to Rio 2016. Everyday Team Canada showcases a moment in Olympic history achieved by a Canadian Athlete; they highlight up and coming Olympic athletes and give them an opportunity to say hello!
The use of these images on Instagram are clean and easy to understand, and basically begging to be shared and screenshotted for use on followers accounts. By having athletes as the mainstage of nearly all their posts, fans and young athletes alike can print out the images of their favourite athletes for inspiration. In some ways, this brings back a devoted follower base who rely on real time images of their favourite athletes to watch; the Team Canada page gets more hits and interaction if you have people returning for content based images and ideas. Take the #iceinourveins campaign for example; the use of new and veteran athletes has people returning to the site time after time to re-watch the magic of what enfolded in the Arctic. In fact, this video now has over 75,000 views on YouTube and thousands more across the platforms on which it has been shared. 

 The #iceinourveins campaign was an idea to demonstrate that Canadians no matter where we go, will take a piece of our northern pride with us. Even though we are travelling to Brazil, we will take the snow and ice with us to win Gold this summer. The video is a great portrayal of who we are as Canadians; individuals who can brave the cold to achieve their dreams however, it would have been interesting to see this version of what they did, shot down in Brazil. It could have been foreshadowing showing Team Canada arriving in a gust of cold air and swirling snow (embracing the stereotype) and emerging as victors in the hot summer sun. Instead of using the #iceinourveins by itself, you could introduce a second hashtag, #heatinourhearts – Team Canada is fired up for Gold!
Overall, Team Canada’s social media can be considered to be greatly successful. They help athletes find sponsors, motivation and help them realize their fan base. They do an excellent job of reaching out to their fan base and encouraging them to donate, connect and envision themselves as a part of the team; after all, the slogan “Join the Club” is used throughout every platform. Though the content that they share could be divided more equally between platforms, the message itself is for the fans and those fans seem to enjoy exactly what Team Canada is serving up.