Monday, October 26, 2015

Colors to FALL For


Fall is here! It’s time to swap out the bright summer colors for earth tones. One of our art director, Meredith Mahoney, shares her top 5 favorite fall colors for 2015. How can you work these into your next project? 



1. Eggplant
As a TCU fan I love any shade of purple, but Eggplant is a deep, rich purple hue that almost seems fit for royalty. The Decoist says, “eggplant is a color that you want to use around your house in the next few years. Sophisticated and stunning, this color is admired by many.”

2. Marsala
The 2015 Pantone® color of the year, “Marsala,” is a perfect fall color. Pantone describes Marsala as a “tasteful hue that embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

3. Stormy Gray
Gray tones might be the new black. It isn’t as harsh as black, yet still goes with everything! You will be seeing a lot more Stormy Gray in fashion this year. Fashionisers says Stormy Gray "can come off as a strong color, signifying a protective spell, its power lying in the enduring blue-gray."

4. Gold
Mikkel Vang of Elle d├ęcor sums up the elegance of Gold perfectly: “In many ways, gold can be considered a neutral. Yes, it's glitzy and too much can be off-putting. Still, if you love glimmer, it transitions brilliantly from one season to the next.”

5. Hunter Green
Apartment Therapy foresees Hunter as part of a "movement towards darker, moodier colors." Hunter seems perfect for the bedroom, "where darker hues feel wonderfully calming and restful."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Thinking Outside the Social Media Branding Box

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has made the Polaroid-style square photo its trademark. But all that changed on August 27th, when the app announced that their users would no longer be bound to posting only square photos. According to Instagram, one in every five photos posted on the app is a shape other than a square. Looks like the social media giant responded to the demand for more creative freedom by altering its now-familiar format.

This portrait photo was edited using a third-party app to add white space because cropping would ruin it.
Instead of using a third-party app to post a landscape photo of a beach surrounded by white space, you can now choose to either preserve the photo's original orientation or crop it to the traditional Instagram square. The update also allows users to add filters to videos, not just photos. The future is now!

This photo uses Instagram's update to fit a portrait photo into the traditionally square frame.



























Much like other social media sites, Instagram has recently gotten a facelift in an attempt to keep ahead of the competition. Last spring, Twitter announced a revamp of their original profile page, which used to include users' tweets in reverse chronological order.
The addition of a Facebook-like "cover photo" allows company Twitter accounts to further promote their brands.

Twitter's update includes a wide landscape photo at the top of each profile, accompanying the user's avatar. The new format clearly adopted from Facebook's Timeline cover photo update as a way to incorporate visuals in a mostly text-based medium. The update was optional at first, but has now been applied to all user profiles.


Since December 2011, Facebook Pages and user profiles have incorporated a cover photo.

So what does this mean for your brand?

Although the ever-changing social media landscape might seem more intimidating with each update, these changes can actually expand your potential for creative branding.  Facebook's (and now Twitter's) addition of the cover photo feature means you have an extra space that functions as a billboard for your company or organization's brand. Whether you want to coordinate your "Page's" profile picture and cover photo is up to you. The potential is limitless: check out these brands' creative Facebook Pages for inspiration.

Instagram's reduced restrictions on photo orientation also mean you can do more with your brand. Photographers can post full-size landscapes and panoramas, retailers can include portraits of models, and Instagram's three- to fifteen-second videos can become grayscale, sepia, you name it. Paying attention to the new tools provided by social media giants allows companies to implement changes early and catch competitors unawares. (But first, remember to read up on the size requirements for Facebook and Twitter's "cover photo" features.) Happy posting!



Monday, July 13, 2015

Tread Lightly: Approach These Online Venues with Caution

Instagram announced that after a year of invite-only brand advertisements it will be opening its users' feeds to brand's of all shapes and sizes.

If you've ever seen an Instagram ad, you might've seen comments like this:

(This is the part where I'm supposed to say this isn't funny, except that it's kind of funny.) 


But Instagram isn't worried. And they shouldn't be! People are always resistant to seeing ads in places where they didn't see them before. Yahoo bought Tumblr, Tumblr freaked out and Tumblr is still around. There's no good alternative to Instagram anyway, so people will just begin to deal with the ads and you'll get to take advantage of a new (and probably eventually great) place to advertise.

So what other online venues can you advertise that may be equal parts tricky and rewarding?




Have you ever spent 10 minutes just poking around reddit, and then you look at your clock and it's been 5 hours? 

Reddit can be fun, but as often as it can be fun, it can be insane/intense/any crazed adjective you can think of. Redditors are relentlessly honest and incredibly vocal. The site openly rebelled when an employee was fired. There was so much noise around this that the CEO resigned! Zuckerberg could lay off all of Facebook and replace employees with robots and I don't think any user would care. 

Reddit is a mix of both the best and the worst of the internet, and with that there is something both tempting and scary about it for advertisers:

1) You should want to create an intelligent conversation with a base of people who are that vocal and passionate.
2) You should be afraid of upsetting a group of people that vocal and passionate.

Many brands have seen success with reddit ads. But, as you can see these aren't ads that say: "Buy this great item and get 25% off this other item! [insert gif link] K bye." These ads tie back to some sort of charitable effort, they engage a community to request their help in assisting another community and most importantly, they are forthcoming about who they are and speak the language of redditors. They didn't just copy and paste a promoted Facebook post or tweet into reddit and hope for the best. They also didn't try to sneak a click in there. If there's one thing users hate (any internet user, really) it's being tricked into participating in an ad. Show up, be honest about who you are, and invite people to be part of a conversation by talking to them like people and not clicks.

Reddit's community might be intense but they're also very thoughtful and intelligent with their comments. Bad comments get downvoted and buried, the good ones make their way to the top.

So even if you make a bad ad, you might get some good feedback on it.


Full disclosure: I don't really like BuzzFeed...but I used to. Like, a lot. I had their app on my phone. But BuzzFeed got a little too BuzzFeed-y and I cut them loose, but hey, a lot of people still go to that site. A lot, a lot. And as you'll notice, a lot of those visitors are young, they come from mobile and they come from social. 

So you can write a listicle, why not hop into the BuzzFeed advertising world? 

Well, for starters: it might not fit your brand. Facebook and Twitter are both so pervasive at this point that either one works well for pretty much any brand. BuzzFeed, as popular as it is, is still somewhat of an online advertising niche. There is a very specific language to BuzzFeed posts and listicles, one that you should study well before attempting to go at it on your own. BuzzFeed has its own team that will work with brands to craft posts that are right for them, but at the end of the day, BuzzFeed wants your money and if you're offering it, they likely won't tell you that it's just not the right fit. And you don't want to wait for their commenters to tell you that. 

But a post on their site can still lead to good things





Yeah, I know. This sounds...terrible, but hear me out. 

We've worked a lot with AdWords and seen a lot of positive results through those, and ads in Gmail are a simple extension of that. 

The service has 900 million users and just last year hit 1 billion downloads on Android. Gmail has a huge diverse audience, and as you can see from its growth, the presence of ads hasn't slowed down growth. 

So why do you have to be careful about placing an ad in Gmail with such a huge audience? Same reason as we've been discussing this whole time: the ad should just appeal to people who you think might use Gmail on a regular basis. Again, you'll want to avoid any negative feedback. The thing with AdWords is that Google will get you your clicks on the ad no matter what, you just have to make sure that when people do click that the content is worth their time. 

People search Google all the time for nothing important, if they click on an ad from there, they're not wasting time. But whatever ad you place in their inbox better be good enough to a) justify being in their password protected inbox and b) be worth the time it took to go away from reading a work email or replying to a friend. 

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There's nothing that says you even have to consider an ad placed on any of these sites or any others. The main point we're trying to make here is that you don't to let yourself get comfortable in one spot for too long. Internet content is able to exist largely in part thanks to advertising and an ROI on that advertising. Just keep an eye out on what apps, sites, or social networks (e.g. SnapChat) might be offering ads next and you'll always be one step ahead of most people. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Periscope, Meerkat and the Arrival of Live-Streaming

Ever since Facebook arrived in direct competition with MySpace, people have wanted to predict the deaths of new social networks they don't necessarily understand.

Twitter was once "going to be gone before the end of this decade."

People thought a Terms of Service update would kill Instagram 3 years ago.

But, of course, for every success there are many failures. For every Spotify there is a Ping and for every LinkedIn there is a....whatever Google + wanted/wants to be. All of this considered, it should come as no surprise that with less than a few months on the market, the lives and deaths of live-streaming apps, Periscope and Meerkat have already been written/predicted/hot-taked to death.

We're not really here to tell you which one to use or which is better (but, yeah, it's probably Periscope). What we would like to do is simply run through what these apps do (short answer: basically the same thing) and why at least one of them will end up mattering to a brand's social presence.

What They Do

Periscope and Meerkat are both Twitter-integrated live-stream apps. Meaning that your friend in California can take a video at Venice Beach and live stream it to you, in New York City, and the rest of his or her followers all over the country/world. 

So that you don't get too confused: Meerkat and Periscope are not different because of what they do but because of how they do it. They are both live-stream apps that exist for the purpose of giving people a live look at whatever you're looking at, the difference simply lies in the ease of Twitter integration and what interface you prefer. 

To simply further, Twitter owns Periscope so it will always integrate more easily with Twitter. 

Why Use It 

This is fun to write about because my crazy hot take is this: no one can really tell you how to use it. 

I'd be lying to you if I tried to sit here and preach the ways in which Periscope and/or Meerkat can help your brand. The simple and exciting truth is that we don't really know that yet. Periscope and Meerkat might have some answers that they use to lure investors, but they can't really know because...well, not a lot of people have done it yet! MySpace was repackaged as a music-based social network for bands which has gone...okay? The point is that you don't really know what good a social network will do for you without trial and error. 

So...Why Care? 

I did mention this was exciting. You're on the ground floor of a social network. This doesn't happen that often and without being able to tell you exactly why Meerkat or Periscope will be important for your brand, I can tell you that there's an innovative way out there for you to do that. And you get to find out what that is (maybe even before anyone else does). 

These live-stream apps are blank canvases for you. You can use it to enhance your brand personality, give yourself more of a presence at conferences or host live Q&As via the comments section on either app. It's up to you! One may work better than the other, but one will work out well enough to try again. 

Final Question: Meerkat or Periscope?

Look, you can Google that question and find a consensus or you can just do the fun thing and download both apps and see what you like best. No brand that started on Facebook and never moved to Twitter is too far gone to be on Twitter. Many brands still haven't figured out a way to be on Instagram (which is fine!). 

The point here is that, if you like Meerkat, use Meerkat. If you like Periscope, use that. If one fails before the other, you can move to the winner without much of a problem besides a few adjustments days/weeks. But you should try one out, even if it's just on your personal account because while people might have been right in predicting the deaths of certain social networks, others have been proven very wrong in predicting the death of social media. It's here to stay for the foreseeable future and apps like Meerkat and Periscope are a part of the evolution. 

The best thing you can do is just try not to fall behind. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Analyze These: How You Aren't Using Social Analytics

It's 2015, Facebook and Twitter are two of the largest operating entities in...well, the world, and yet, people will still undoubtedly ask about ROI on social.

It's understandable. Social networks are free services so why spend money to use them? To create a strategy, to boost posts, promote tweets, etc. 

What's even more surprising than all of this, however, is that some people struggle to answer the question about ROI on social when the answer is probably right on the social network they've been using.

And, as usual, the answer is in the numbers.

No, Seriously. They're Literally Right There. 


Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube all have native analytics systems built into their platforms. Meaning, if you have any kind of business page, you can literally just go to your menu and pull data to analyze.




Look at all of those nice charts and numbers. Each of these platforms can be used to determine how your posts and strategy have been performing over a set time period. You can use these numbers to compile monthly reports and even develop new strategies! Isn't that great? There is a catch, however...

Reading the Numbers


We understand more than anyone that social analytics aren't always easy to decipher. Especially if social media already isn't your area of expertise. As helpful as these analytics platforms are, they aren't necessarily built to be instantly and readily easy to use. 

Additionally, once your figure out what all of these numbers mean, how do you put it into context with your social strategy? To go one step further, how do you then use that information to develop new social strategies? 

The answer to this one is easy...

Let Us Help 


We're not saying that you shouldn't take a stab at trying to interpret these numbers yourself. By all means, if you're ambitious enough, you should definitely educate yourself. However, by acknowledging that these numbers exist and that you can use them to your advantage, you've already done more than most pages on Facebook or Twitter will likely ever make an effort to do. 

But now that you've seen what's behind the curtain of your page, it might be best to hand out the diagnosis to a team that specializes in analyzing social data and compiling that data into reports that will ultimately help your social presence. 

And of course, this all comes back to...

ROI


We don't take an investment into social media lightly. Even in this day and age, we understand how it can be a tough maneuver to justify. And that's why we're encouraging you to take a look behind the machinery of the pages you likely already have. Even glancing these numbers over on your own will give you the sense that's there's much here to be discovered and much potential for growth. 

Moving forward doesn't have to be scary. Just click the Insights tab of your Facebook page, visit analytics.twitter.com and see what all there is to be done with a Facebook post or a tweet. Then maybe let us know if you'd like us to help take it the rest of the way. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Beyond the Filter: Simple Tips For Getting Started on Instagram

It may not seem like it, but Instagram has been around for almost 5 years now. Those 5 years have led to numerous food and travel pictures, jokes about food and travel pictures and, no joke, is even affecting how college-bound students choose their college.

And with Instagram ads rolling out more and more, we're without a doubt heading for a future in which the channel will be a viable advertising option for all and not just bigger name brands. With that in mind, here are some basic ways that you can stand out amongst the Instagram clutter:

1. Think Outside the Square

Instagram's default aspect ratio is 4:3. It's so pervasive now that iPhone's have a camera preset for Sqaure to accomodate Instagram photos without cropping. However, just because it's what Instagram designed itself for, doesn't mean it's what you should stick to.

Most major brands find themselves sticking to the square, but the more you come across photographers on Instagram, you'll see them opting for 3:2 photos that allow you to utilize a wide screen image. This not only allows you to use more versatile shots, it'll stand out more for people scrolling through their followers' pics.

Use mobile photo editing apps like VSCO cam to find different crops, then screenshot them in your library with a white background and simply post to Instagram!

2. Avoid Instagram Filters

It's really easy to get stuck using just Instagram's filters. Nashville is so awesome, right?

Yes, for people using Instagram for the first time.

Apps like VSCO cam provide you with more filter and photo editing tools than Instagram likely ever will. Simply import your shots into VSCO, edit them, download them again and post them for a more refined looking image. Again, everyone is using Instagram filters, but not everyone is using VSCO's. Stand out from the crowd by simply downloading a free app.

3. Use Your Phone

This seems really simple and obvious. And it is...to everyone except for far too many major brands.

If you do a quick run through of a major brand on Instagram (Nike, Walmart) you'll see they have some nice photos in there...too nice. Why? Because they're stock photos taken by a professional photographer on a really nice camera.

Thing is, there's nothing wrong with these photos...on Facebook. But they really should have no place on Instagram. Instagram is built for mobile photos and it's what your community of followers will want. Instead of paying money for stock photography or just reusing stock photos that don't look like they could've been taken on a phone, invest time and energy into generating some nice camera shots.

Check out Taco Bell and Starbucks Instagram feeds for great examples of photography that looks like it came from a phone (even if it didn't).

4. You're Not a Photographer, But You Can Learn

There are some real photographers on Instagram taking great photos. But most people aren't those photographers, and the odds are that neither are you. Which is fine! Instagram was not designed for great photographers just like Guitar Hero was not designed for true guitarists.

That doesn't mean that you can't educate yourself on how to make your photos look good. Check out this article from Vogue Austrailia with easy lessons on how to make your photos better, including composition and angle tips, as well as a rundown of photo editing software.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Say No to #TheDress: When Brands Should Stay Quiet


If you are a internet-using human being with eyes and ears then you likely have discussed #TheDress with someone you know. And as a result, you may or may not like that person anymore depending on whether they say blue and black or white and gold.

Look, I loved #TheDress. I spent the better part of my evening the night it broke the internet getting into faux-arguments with my friends and family about how we were seeing different colors and trying to decipher the madness behind it all.

You know who I didn't want to talk about it with?

IHOP, Coca-Cola, Lincoln Motors, just to name a few. But they insisted on being a part of the conversation anyway for some reason known only to the poor, misguided souls behind their Twitter accounts.







These are all legitimately deranged. Febreze is even over here trying to join the party a full 24 hours later. 


How many memorable posts are you seeing there? Just look at the brands tweeting: Red Lobster? Cottonelle? SPAGHETTIOS??????

What. Is. Happening. 

We all should know what happened. Oreo and the Super Bowl blackout happened. 


Oreo tweeted out the above image during the infamous Super Bowl blackout a few years back and Twitter lost its mind. Rightfully so. The Super Bowl is the most-watched event of all time, year after year. Everyone is tweeting about it while it's happening, and Oreo got a great impromptu zinger in there. 

Only now, everyone (Oreo included) has been trying to recapture the lightning that was so delicately caught in a bottle once upon a time. 

In retrospect, why did anyone care what Oreo had to say during the biggest sporting event of the year? Their brand kind of connects to football with commercials featuring the Manning brothers in spots during the big game, but that's about it. But for whatever reason, we didn't question it much when it happened. 

But we should now. We should hold these brands accountable for just looking at what's trending and thinking they can push in on it in order to look like the cool kids and...show off their brand? (Who knows what their endgame is at this point?) Listen, no one on Twitter is cool talking about random trends and dress colors. That's the norm and the norm is generally fun. And when brands nose their way in they don't look cool or funny, they look the exact opposite. They appear as if they're trying too hard and their jokes fall flat. 

Look at those four #TheDress tweets above. Are any of those even remotely original insights into what was happening or are they just: "HAHA. Colors, amirite?" 

They say nothing about the brand and do nothing for the social presence of those brands. All they serve to do is show that they think their followers are so dumb as to be impressed that someone on their social teams could look at the trends bar and make a very, very, very obvious joke. 

The point in all of this being: be true to your brand. Cottonelle: unless The Cottonelle Movie is coming out next year, you have no reason to be live tweeting the Oscars. Same goes for you, Red Lobster (your lame tweets can't save you now). 

The only brands that could maybe make an argument for #TheDress tweeting are clothing lines or fashion-related brands. Lincoln Motors also tried to get in on #LlamaDrama and guess what? They're not a zoo. They are a car company and all they're saying about themselves when they post about trending topics that have nothing to do with their brand is that they have no idea what their brand even is. 

I know it's tempting. You want to be a part of the conversation that your followers are having. But for the good of your brand and your followers, the next time you want to participate in a heavily trending discussion, switch off of your brand account and go over to your personal. Everyone will have a lot more fun. 



Monday, February 2, 2015

What Happened to Super Bowl Ads?

Usually, we like to do a write up of what Super Bowl ads we liked the most and which we liked the least.

Not this year.

Something interesting happened in our morning meeting today. Instead of talking about which Super Bowl commercials we loved, the conversation quickly went to which ones we disliked. Why? Because the growing trend is that there's a lot more we dislike vs. like.

Obviously, there are good years and bad years for Super Bowl ads, but the past three years or so have dominated by the bad with only a few memorable ones emerging as clear greats and favorites. This morning, I tried to think of my favorite Super Bowl ads of the past few years and could only come up with VW's Darth Vader kid spot.

And let's be honest, the other great Super Bowl advertising moment didn't even happen as a result of a commercial, but because of Oreo's awesome social team.


So what happened to the great Super Bowl ads that gave us moments like the Budweiser frogs, the eTrade baby, Heineken's Brad Pitt beer run and Mean Joe Greene? Well, a few things...

It's Halftime in America


Come on, you remember this. It's one of the most grandiose Super Bowl ads of all time. Hang on, I should say, it's one of the most effectively grandiose Super Bowl ads of all time. This spot, obviously plays better with context. Detroit was hugely hit by the financial crisis of '08. A city that prided itself on its auto production was dying, but hey, in 2012, they were starting to come back. As a result, this spot played pretty well. It put Chrysler and the Motor City's name back on the map in a good way. 

But just look at that production value, that message, that delivery...this is why, in 2015, we're still being bogged down with commercials going for the same effect. Only they're not hitting the target. They're missing and only getting the absurd self-seriousness without any of the sentiment. 

Check out Carnival's ad from this year's game: 



This is just gibberish. They're using a dead US president's words to sell cruises. Maybe in 2005, Carnival would've made an ad that was fun, you know, what you want a cruise to be. Instead they saw "Halftime in America" and "God Made a Farmer" and thought, "Yeah, that's a good idea, we'll do that." 

Unfortunately, they're not the only ones. 

4.5 Million Dollars 

That's how much a 30 second spot cost in this year's Super Bowl. What's worse is that we're seeing more and more one minute spots during the big game meaning that some brands spent NINE MILLION DOLLARS to air nonsense at drunk people. 

So obviously, when someone spends $4.5 million to advertise for 30 seconds, the pressure is on. It's a lot of money for any brand to spend and it's the largest platform they'll be able to speak to at any given time. What do you say with that opportunity? Something funny? Something smart? Heartfelt? Support a cause? Send a message? Sometimes a brand freaks out and just spends $18 million to do all of those things. Like Nationwide did this year. They bought one ad featuring Mindy Kaling which was...okay? Not the worst celebrity heavy commercial we've seen at the Super Bowl. 

And then, they tried to have their cake and eat it to in the form of killing a child at the end of a fantasy filled ad: 


This is ill-advised in pretty much every possible way and the only thing worse than the actual spot is that Nationwide thinks they've started some sort of conversation here. No conversation is started during commercial time of a Super Bowl telecast. This kid is a meme now and the only conversation they've started is one that asks, "Does Nationwide know how their own product works?" 

Maybe if they hadn't buckled under the pressure of spending $18 million on ad space, they would've made a better commercial. 

The Water Cooler 

Yeah, I know this sounds super generic, but what most brands are going for with these now is not to make a genuinely good ad as it is to make an ad that people will still be talking about the next day. Unfortunately, brands, more often that not, hit this target (which is why we're still talking about that awful Nationwide ad). However, just because they hit that target, doesn't mean they've made a good ad. Case in point, Fiat's "Blue Pill" spot: 


Get it? Because sex. 

This feels like a commercial designed to be edgy, which is the first way you can screw up making something that's actually pushing the envelope. Here's some chatter in response to this ad: http://mashable.com/2015/02/01/fiat-viagra-super-bowl/

A Change Coming? 

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I think this year could be the tipping point for a deluge of bad Super Bowl ads. As I write this, "#NationwideAMovie" is trending on Twitter. One of the most popular memes being circulated features that kid's face. Carnival is being taken to the cleaners for using a dead man's voice to sell cruises and Fiat...well, you can read some comments in the above link. 

All of this combined with the overall sentiment that this was a bad, bad year for Super Bowl commercials make me hopeful that brands will get the message in time for next year's game and maybe, once again, just have some fun with what they're doing. 

I mean, they might as well, it's going to cost over $10 million next year. 

For good measure, here's what (in our opinion) was probably the best Super Bowl ad this year (Steve Buscemi saves the day).




Monday, January 5, 2015

Boost Your Social Media Engagement in 2015

2014 was the 10-year anniversary of Facebook's existence. It's weird to think that something that connects over a billion people has only been around for a decade and even weirder to think how young social media marketing and advertising is. If Facebook has only been around for 10 years, then brands have only been using social to enhance their brand image for 8 years (and capably for even fewer years than that).

So let's use 2015 as an opportunity to once and for all, dispel the myth that capably running social media is an easy thing to do. By now, we should know that it's more than just setting up a page and posting a couple of times a week. If you have a plan for direct mail marketing or SEO for your website, you should have a social media plan as well. 

That being said, here some quick tips to help you increase engagement on your social posts in 2015.

1. Photos, but not just a photo...

Have you ever scrolled through your Twitter feed and come across a photo that doesn't take up the whole width of the frame. There's some white space on the side and you have to click on the tweet for the photo to expand and see the whole thing. It looks ugly and it's terrible to interact with.  

I'm not saying vertical photos are worse from a photography perspective, I'm saying it from a social perspective. Vertical photos get the best engagement on Pinterest, but aside from that, I can't think of a good reason to use them on other channels. Just take a scroll through your Twitter feed and look at their horizontal presentation of images. If you take a vertical photo and tweet it, you're probably cropping out vital real estate. When instead, you can turn your phone sideways and make sure that most of what you want to get in, will get in. 

Even using the 1x1 set up that Instagram so dearly values is better than just a straight up vertical shot. A long vertical image could even get cropped in a Facebook NewsFeed as opposed to a square or horizontal shot that fits neatly. 

You want your photos to get likes? Make sure people can see them.

2. Clicks, clicks, clicks 

Clicks lead to engagement. And no, I'm not just talking about link clicks, I'm talking about all clicks. 

Hopefully, you're taking a look at your Facebook and Twitter analytics from time to time. If not, start. Like, yesterday. Anyway, when you take a look at these analytics, they talk about "engagements" which you can use to find an "engagement rate" on your posts. Now, there's a common misconception that engagements end and begin with likes, comments, share, favorites, retweets, replies, etc. However, that's just the beginning.

Twitter and Facebook value every single engagement made with a post. That means clicking a photo to make it larger, clicking a link that's included with the post, clicking a handle included in your tweet, clicking a hashtag included in a tweet and so on. With Facebook in particular, this information is vital. Facebook recently changed up their algorithm to make it more difficult for a brand page to appear in a user's NewsFeed. With that in mind, you need to make sure that people can make multiple engagements so your post is seen by as many people as possible. Why? Because the more engagements your post gets, the more likely Facebook's algorithm is likely to put it in a user's feed.

However, I'm also not saying to overload your Facebook and Twitter posts with clickable content. Just be economical and smart about it. A photo and a link make every Facebook post more engaging and an @ mention and hashtag are useful for tweets, but don't overuse them if they have no place there.

3. Get on Instagram and be smart about it 

Did you hear the news? Instagram reached 300 million users last week and now has more users than Twitter. And yet, there are many brands that aren't on Instagram and even fewer who are using it effectively.

I don't care how un-photogenic you think your brand is, you need to find a place for it on Instagram. If you haven't thought of a way to feature aspects of your brand on Instagram, it's because you're not thinking hard enough. Recently, I've been seeing sponsored Instagram ads for State Farm. State Farm. An insurance company. And you know what? They have better ads than even Adidas did.

And let me continue to pick on Adidas for a moment. Here's their Instagram channel. Honestly, I think for a brand with 2.4 million followers, this is an embarrassing use of the social channel. It's all photography that really has no place on Instagram. It's too shiny, clearly not taken on a cell phone and doesn't tell me anything about their brand outside of SHOES.

To preface this next point: I'm not a huge fan of the food at Taco Bell. In spite of that, I still think they have an amazing Instagram. And whether you like Taco Bell or not, I think you could probably agree that their food is not high class. Yet their Instagram makes it look like so much fun and even, dare I say, appetizing? The photography doesn't look like something that was shot with a professional camera even if it was. It looks like a relatable Instagram account. And some quick math shows that they get double the engagement that their Adidas counterpart gets with a quarter of the followers.

This rambling about shoes and tacos is all to say is that any brand can be on Instagram. Taco Bell and State Farm both found a way to be relevant in the channel.  If they can do it, then other brands can, too.

The great thing about social media is that there's not only always more you could be doing, but there's also always new things you could be doing. These three things will be a great way to get started for 2015, and (hopefully) through them you'll find even more ways you could be improving your social presence. Follow along @kearleydotcom for more social news and updates.