5 Great Places to Find Animated GIFs

Hey, do you ever find yourself in situations—perhaps a blog post, or maybe an email—where words just won't do, and there's not an emoji to properly convey your feelings or emotions? Well, then you've come to the right place.

These types of situations are exactly what animated GIFs were made for, and we've rounded up some of our favorite places to find them. 

New_20d671_5314949.gif

Buffer's GIF Mood Board

As the title implies, this one covers GIFs by mood, and for the moment (as of this writing), they're entirely positive. So if you're feeling happy, head here.

Giphy

Giphy is like Google for GIFs. It's searchable, which is a huge plus, and you can even make your own. Best of all, every GIF comes with an embed code, for easy use on blogs.

James Van Der Memes

Pretty straightforward: It's a bunch of reactions, acted out by TV and film legend James Van Der Beek.

Lookout Landing

Specifically, check out this Kyle Seager post, although if you read LL on the regular, you know that they're never short on great, Mariners-related GIF material in general.

monkeyvk.gif

Google Image Search

Go to Google. Do a search for basically anything. Click on Images, on the results page. Click Search Tools, then Type, then Animated.

Boom. You're welcome.

One small warning: There's no guarantee these are public domain, so be careful.

Why Facebook’s Redesigned Notes Could Be Rad for Bloggers

If you host your own blog, you can already syndicate each post on platforms like Medium, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Now that Facebook has updated its Notes tool to be more blog-like, you’ve got another, and potentially a more powerful one.

Why syndicate? It’s kind of like atomizing your content, but my rationale is that it gives a post more chances to thrive. Personally, I have more Twitter followers than I do blog readers, and I get more interactions on Facebook than I do on Twitter.

The cool thing is, now that Facebook has upgraded Notes, I’ve got at least five “big” places to post content:

  • This blog
  • LinkedIn (using their Notes-like blog feature)
  • Medium
  • Tumblr
  • Facebook Notes

Even if one of my posts doesn’t go supermegaviral, the aggregate readers I get from all those places are far greater than what I’d get on one of those platforms alone. And the way Facebook’s algorithm works, if I can get the ball rolling on just one post, I can stretch my audience to more—and arguably more relevant—people (re: friends of friends).

I’m not one to blast all my content everywhere, all at once, but I’m interested to see how Facebook Notes could help increase reads on my Facebook-focused and personal posts.

This post was originally published on Facebook Notes.

4 Ways (Good and Bad) Facebook's Dislike Button Might Affect Your Business

Well, it's official: Facebook is getting a "dislike" button.

If you run a branded Facebook Page, this might seem terrifying. That might be the right reaction. But it might not be all bad, either. How so? We'll walk you through that in a sec. 

First, a disclaimer: No one knows what this button is going to look like, where it's going to live, how it's going to function, or if it will even be called the "dislike" button. For the purposes of this post, we're going to assume that it becomes as universal as the ubiquitous Like button that we all know.

Anyway: What might Facebook's new dislike button mean for your business?

1. People might dislike all your stuff

I would imagine this is what a lot of brands and brand managers are afraid of. And if you're BP or something, that's probably a legitimate feeling. A few things, though:

  1. Do people have a reason to dislike all your stuff?
  2. If so, maybe don't do things/make products that cause people to dislike you.
  3. If causing people to dislike you is a natural byproduct of the sweet, sweet cashflow your brand produces, maybe reconsider social media as a space where you need to be.

Nothing anyone posts on your page hasn't been thought or spoken at some point. In a way, those people are doing you a favor. They're serving as a focus group to tell you what's good and bad about your brand.

On the other hand...

2. You might find the dislike button to be really useful

As long as we're talking focus groups, let's talk about putting your audience to use. Let's say your business designs sponges, and you're trying to decide on whether to roll out orange or purple as your next color. 

With the addition of a dislike button, there's no weird "click like on this photo to vote for this one, and click like on that photo to vote for that one." It's one or the other, plain and simple.

3. More options for posts!

Now, instead of just publishing content that people like, you can actively publish content that people dislike.

Why would anyone do that? Outrage can be really effective. Let's say you're the page manager for an environmental organization. That emaciated polar bear photo isn't very likable—without some verbal gymnastics, at least—but it's definitely un-likable. A dislike button makes it that much easier to say "ugh" without having to type "ugh" in the comments.

4. Engagement could go up

If you're a news organization, you've probably published a fair share of posts that are:

  • Not likable;
  • But not so offensive as to move people to comment;
  • Just kind of "ugh."

Great example: Here's the weather forecast; it's raining for the next week. In the past, you'd maybe get a few likes and a couple comments, sure. With a dislike button, though, you have a piece of content that people can almost compete on. Like rain? Don't like rain? There's a button for you!

Before, it would be easy to just think "meh," and scroll past; now, there's a built-in Facebook function for you to use, that doesn't require that much effort.

Don't dislike it just yet

This is a big change for Facebook, and it's natural to have a gut reaction about it. Wait. It's not a good or a bad thing yet. All it is right now is the promise of an expanded feature that will probably have more creative applications than we know.

How to Find Your Hidden Social Mentions on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Whenever a client asks us to help improve their social media presence, one of the first things we look at is how responsive they are. It's one tactic in a larger audit we do, but it's a big one because it represents the "social" part of social media.

We're not just talking @ mentions and wall posts here; we look at brand mentions, and whether our client's social team is picking those up. If they're not, queuing them into these types of mentions is one of the fastest and easiest ways to improve the amount of engagement on a social account.

You can do this yourself if you know where to look. Here are a few key places to check:

Instagram - Photos of You and geolocated photos

Open up your Instagram account and click to view your profile. Click on the head-and-shoulders icon inside the tag in the middle-right of the page. This is Photos of You—photos that other users have tagged your account in. If you see photos there that you haven't noticed before, and that you haven't commented on or liked, go through and do that.

Next, check out who's geotagged photos at your place of business. To do this, you'll need to have uploaded a photo that's geotagged to your business' location. Click on the geotag, and see who else has posted. Again, make sure to like and comment on all those photos.

Make it a habit to check these spaces regularly, and interact with any new photos you see.

Facebook - Notifications tab

You probably already check for likes and comments on your Facebook posts, but there are a lot of other actions Facebook users can take on your page. The Notifications tab is a great way to check for them. Along with notifications for likes, comments, and shares on posts, you'll see when people post to your wall, mention your page, or check in at your location. For storefront businesses, the check-ins can be particularly high-volume and valuable.

Twitter - Brand name search

We've talked before about how useful Twitter Search is. One of the easiest ways to put it to work for you is to type your brand name into the search field (in quote marks, if your brand is more than one word) and see what comes up. The initial results will show the most-popular tweets about your brand; if you click the Live tab, you can see everything in chronological order (newest on top).

From here, do the same thing you did on Instagram and Facebook—interact with as many tweets as you can. Try out variations of your brand name, too; for example, search "Coca-Cola" as well as "Coke," "Diet Coke," "Coke Zero," #cocacola, #coke, etc.

Got it?

If you haven't already grabbed at this type of low-hanging social media fruit, work on it for a week, and you'll see great results in terms of the number of interactions and impressions your accounts receive.

You Know Your Social Media Post Sucks If It Sounds Bad Out Loud

 " The Rebel Yell " by  Pascal  is licensed under  CC0 1.0 Universal

"The Rebel Yell" by Pascal is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal

A lot of blog posts I read mention that I should write more "engaging" social media posts. They tell me to ask my audience questions or post an interesting photo.

That advice is all well and good, but how do you actually write in an engaging way?

I have a simple trick I use when I'm writing: Read your social media post out loud.

Here's how you can tell if you've written a bad post:

  • It sounds like a headline.
  • It sounds like an ad.
  • It sounds robotic.
  • It just sounds bad.

And here's how you know you've written a good post:

  • It sounds like something someone would say in real life.

Bonus points if it sounds like something you would say in real life. (That takes time to develop, so write a bunch of variations of each post to practice!)

It's really that simple. Social networks aren't billboards, despite how hard some brands try to make them that way. Social networks are conversation spaces. So converse. Like a human being.

Do This, and Watch Your Twitter Engagement Take Off

If there's still a debate about whether it's a good idea to automate your social media feeds, I'm on the "yes" side. It's the only way I get anything done and still manage to publish. So I get excited every time I find some new trick that makes it easier for me to post and interact on my social networks.

This IFTTT recipe, via Aaron Lee at Post Planner (which, by the way, is a great blog that you should subscribe to immediately), is one of the most useful automations I've found all year. Click the link to let him walk you through the ridiculously easy set up; here's what it does:

[Thomas] Marzano added me to a list called ‘IFTTT Engaging Followers’. ... The cool part is I was added to the list automatically. Marzano told me he created an ‘IFTTT recipe’ that automatically adds users to the list when they mention [him] on Twitter.
— Aaron Lee

I called my list "Active Followers"—call yours whatever you want. I created it a couple weeks ago, and it's become probably the most useful part of my Twitter account. (You're not using Twitter Lists? You should.)

It's effective because it takes away the hardest part about engaging: remembering everyone you've talked to. It's like a digital business card that you can pocket for future reference. Since these people are, you know, responding to you, they're arguably the most important people to talk to on a regular basis.

A couple shortcomings that are easily fixed:

  1. Yes, spammers will get auto-added to your list. Just be diligent about reporting them as spam, and they should be removed.
  2. People you argue with will get added, too. So don't argue. Or, if there's someone you really don't like who keeps tweeting you, block 'em.

I hope this recipe works as well for you as it has for me. Tweet me if you like it, and join my list!

How Did a Cat Get 743,000 Instagram Followers? We Talked to @IAMLILBUB and Found Out

Pets on Instagram. I follow my fair share of Insta-famous pets, but what makes them famous? Everybody can post pictures of his or her cute animals, but only handfuls are recognizable in the social media world. I picked the brains of the owners of some famous Instagram pets, @iamlilbub (Mike Bridavsky) and @Chloepomstagram (Parker Smith), and discovered some tips and tricks that lead to their success.

Give them a Voice

Mike said a friend of his saw BUB, and said he should start a blog for her. He said he thought it would be a fun, sort-of-ironic thing to do. Initially, Mike made a Tumblr for BUB. He answered questions in her voice because it was funny. Then, he decided to say she was from outer space. Giving BUB a voice and a personality clearly worked. Now, Lil Bub has more than 743,000 followers on Instagram.

 "BUB: A rare and stunning specimen of pure innocence and wonder. #lilbub #scienceandmagic"

"BUB: A rare and stunning specimen of pure innocence and wonder. #lilbub #scienceandmagic"

Photography is Key

Parker said quality photography indicates likes (most of the time). She said people are more compelled to like a photo and tag their friends when they see a well-photographed picture, especially one that has meaning.

 "Halftime walk in the park #gohawks #inrusswetrust #pom #pomstagram #chloepomstagram"

"Halftime walk in the park #gohawks #inrusswetrust #pom #pomstagram #chloepomstagram"

Mike said there are a lot of things that factor into the amount of engagement that BUB's posts get, but obviously the content itself is a huge part of it. He spends a lot of time getting great photographs and videos, with a lot of variety. He treats her social media as her main source of content. It's sparse, it's good, it's original, it's relevant, and it's simple.

 "#lilbub #newyorkkitty"

"#lilbub #newyorkkitty"

Consistency

Parker said an account that is consistently posting quality pictures will gain more followers and likes, because fans know what to expect. Fans want to be a part of the personality that is created within the account. You’re creating a brand, after all.

Mike said people need to be able to remember something about your pet. Once you stick with a consistent theme, it will attract fans.

Go Behind the Scenes

Show them a glimpse of the real stuff. People love real-life, stripped content. Fans like feeling like they get a glimpse inside the daily life of whomever they are following.

 "Ran around the mall all day with my human and when we got to the last store, my legs were jello. She just doesn't know when to stop!"

"Ran around the mall all day with my human and when we got to the last store, my legs were jello. She just doesn't know when to stop!"

Mike said BUB's story is integral to her following. She isn't a meme or an internet sensation—she is a real cat with a real story (but also a fictitious one) and a real message. That's why her fan base has consistently grown since it started more than three years ago, and also why her fan base is so committed.

 "#lilbub #scienceandmagic"

"#lilbub #scienceandmagic"

Culture

One way to attract followers is to insert yourself into the conversation. These days, pop culture plays such a big role in what’s “trending now”. Take some time to think about what’s happening around you, like Chloe during the SuperBowl.

 "#bluemonday in celebration of yesterday's big W! #pom #seahawks #SuperBowl #repete #chloepomstagram #1fan #12 #12dog"

"#bluemonday in celebration of yesterday's big W! #pom #seahawks #SuperBowl #repete #chloepomstagram #1fan #12 #12dog"

Hashtag It

This kind-of ties into culture. One way to grow your pet’s online social media presence and generate content is to use hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday or #TransformationTuesday. There’s always some content you can create out of nothing on a slow day.

Humor

Parker said everyone likes something that brightens their day and makes them feel good. Chances are, if it makes them feel good, they’ll spread the content to their friends to share the positivity!

 "Happy #friday #tgif #pom #pomeranian #partyallnight #sleepallday #nocturnal #chloepomstagram #bunny"

"Happy #friday #tgif #pom #pomeranian #partyallnight #sleepallday #nocturnal #chloepomstagram #bunny"

 "From BUB's most recent BUBle BATH. #bubath #BUBblebath #lilbub"

"From BUB's most recent BUBle BATH. #bubath #BUBblebath #lilbub"

Relationship

Last of all, a common quality among the pets I follow is their unique relationships with their owners. Showing a genuine relationship between you and your pet will attract followers, hands down. 

What's the takeaway?

Mike said the key factors are consistency; fresh, original content; not over-saturating or over-posting; fewer words and more images; and interacting and maintaining an accessible rapport with your fans.

So go now, make your pet famous! Give them a voice, take amazing photographs, consistently post, and give people an inside look into what makes your pet unique and lovable.

How I Keep Up With Social Media Industry News

One of my most important jobs as the Social Media Strategist at Curator is to keep up with what’s going on in the social media industry. It’s an easy thing to overlook, because the task is essentially to read a lot of links on the internet. But it’s also crucial to keep our company and clients informed of the latest innovations and changes to the platforms we use—and the ones we may use some day.

The challenge for me is there is an absolute ton of news out there, and it multiplies exponentially every day. If I don’t stay focused, it can be easy to end up arbitrarily clicking my way through an internet rabbit hole that doesn’t lead to any gained knowledge for me or Curator. So I rely on a few tried and true tactics to stay on top of things in a timely manner.

For starters, I trust that my network will deliver the big news to me.

When someone launches a new social network, or when a change happens to one of the existing ones, I don’t worry about how I’m going to find that news. I’ve spent years building up a network of social media experts, and I know that when the ALL-CAPS-headline stuff goes down, the information will find me.

You don’t need years to develop your network (though it will get better over time as you tweak it to your specifications)—you can subscribe to my social media list on Twitter. Even better, go check out their lists and subscribe to those. A good follow-up to that would be to follow Magic Recs, which sends you DM alerts when people in your network follow someone new or share a particular piece of content.

I schedule time to read about the social industry, and I set a limit on that time.

Like I said, there is a ton of news out there. There is no way to read it all. I put a cap on how long I spend looking for social media news—usually only 15 minutes or so—and I’m absolutely brutal with deciding what’s interesting and what’s not. I use headline view in Feedly and pick out a few stories each morning that pique my interest—everything else gets marked as read.

I’m equally brutal with the blogs I subscribe to—I shuffle things in and out of my RSS subscriptions all the time—and I don’t worry about what I’m not subscribed to. Read what you like, read what keeps you informed, read what inspires you—that’s my attitude.

One last thing: I have a bear-minimum threshold for how much I read each day: One link. If that link sucks, oh well. I treat reading like working out: better to have done a bit of it than none at all.

I bundle social-industry reading with other tasks.

I’m fortunate to be tasked with curating content for Curator’s social media feeds, which means I can do that and knock out my social-industry reading at the same time. When that’s not enough, or when what I’m curating isn’t related to the social industry, I look for the “holes” in my day when I can get a quick read in: On the bus, between meetings, etc. 

I write to myself.

One of my perpetual regrets is that I don’t dedicate enough time to my personal blog, particularly since I spend a lot of time writing to myself. There’s an old saying from someone, somewhere, that if you want to learn something really well, teach it. Writing to myself is my version of that. I’ll write about anything from “what happened in social media this week,” to “how do you do this new thing that Facebook just rolled out,” to “here are a few ways I think one of our clients could use this cool new social network that just debuted.”

Ninety percent of what I write will never see the light of day. That’s OK. I consider it practice—the other 10 percent is game-time stuff. And just like with sports, there’s a hell of a lot more time spent in practice than in a game situation that counts.

Lastly, I ask stupid questions.

One of the intimidating things about a public social network like Twitter (well, my profile is public at least) is that if you ask a question, it’s out there for the whole world to see. It’s a huge opportunity to look like a complete idiot. I don’t care. I’ll tweet dumb stuff that I’m curious about to people who will probably never respond to me because sometimes they do

Even if someone doesn’t respond, someone else might—that’s the beauty of an open network like Twitter. 

In summary, here’s how I stay updated on social media news:

  • Develop a great network that will find the big news for me.
  • Schedule a window of time to read about the industry, and stay within that window.
  • Bundle reading with other tasks, like content curation.
  • Summarize the news I find in notes to myself.

Do you have any surefire ways of staying up-to-date with social media news? Tweet me your tips: @paulbalcerak

2 Lessons from Meerkat that Have Nothing to do with Meerkat

 " Meerkats " by  Ronnie Macdonald  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

"Meerkats" by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Who knows if Meerkat is here to stay or completely dead? Anyone who says either is just after your click. And who cares—Meerkat’s quick spike in popularity is more about the underlying behavior of social media users than anything else. 

Here are the two big takeaways we’re focused on:

1. People want to see cool stuff

Since social media started, guys like me have been advising people to make their social media interesting by giving people a look “behind the curtain.” Show people what you do while it’s being done. Give them raw information—photos, videos, stories—before you’ve had a chance to distill it through your particular lens (let them form their own lens).

This is one of the big reasons Meerkat blew up. It’s live, raw video—no edits, no real preparation, just shoot-and-go. People like it when you loosen up and stop trying to polish your content so thoroughly.

2. If your stuff isn’t cool, no one wants to see it

It’s one thing to watch Jimmy Fallon flip on his Meerkat app and talk about the St. Patrick’s Day parade while he looks out his office window. That’s cool. It takes the host of The Tonight Show and makes him into any other one of your friends or Twitter followers. The rawness of the video—crappy lighting, watery sound, shaki-cam-ness—creates a sort of tactile feeling, like you’re there. It makes him real.

On the other hand, a shitty video of you walking around your office is just that: a shitty video of you walking around your office. (Exception: Your office is The White House.) If you aren’t inherently interesting (sorry) you need content that is.

This will happen again

These “rules” apply to all social media. Meerkat blew up because it offered a new format for them to work. But as new social networks crop up, we’ll see them catch fire for the same reasons (and also, luck). 

If you want to be successful on social overall, don’t get caught up on the network; pay attention to the behavior.

Social Media’s ROI is the Same as a Billboard

 " Billboard  003" by  Roberto Nieves  is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

"Billboard 003" by Roberto Nieves is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Brooke shared a great link this week about how brands have, and continue to, struggle with tying their social media efforts and spending to return on investment. It’s a great post, and you should check it out, but it’s also a really frustrating one.

It’s frustrating because there seems to be a double standard when it comes to paid and earned media. Most mid- to large-sized brands have, at some point, purchased a billboard or radio ad, and felt good about it because it delivered them X amount of impressions. How do we get those impressions? Who knows. It’s an assumed based on, X amount of people drive by there every day, and that data comes from some traffic study done some number of years ago.

With earned social media, we know exactly how many people have seen an ad—that’s what branded social media posts are—how many of them chose to interact with it, and we can even take steps to roughly, but still pretty accurately, quantify how much actual revenue the ad generated.

Why, then, is earned media held to such a stricter proof of ROI than traditional paid media?

I’m not saying that social media shouldn’t be held to a strict proof of ROI. But I am asking why it seems so inherently easy to consider an ad buy of X impressions a success, while a social campaign with the same number of impressions would just as easily be looked upon with suspicion because it couldn’t prove a direct tie to business results.

I’m also not simply saying this isn’t fair—my point is that if you’re struggling to understand what social media can contribute to your business, you should ask yourself if you can draw an A-to-B line from your paid media efforts to your business’ bottom line as well. Because an Instagram post costs a hell of a lot less than space on a billboard, and in a lot of cases, it’s driving the same return: eyeballs.

Realistically, until we come to a Minority Report-style world where consumers’ every movements are tracked, there’s always going to be some level of educated guesswork with ROI. But it makes the most business sense to measure the effectiveness of all media efforts—paid, earned, traditional, non-traditional—against the question, “What does this do for the business?” and treat all answers equally.