Social Media 101 – The Basics

There’s no doubt that social media is an important aspect of many people’s personal lives. Over the past few years, however, more and more people have begun using social media from a business standpoint: marketing a new product, booking performances or presentations, or just expanding their online network. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool, not only for promoting yourself or your brand, but also for listening, gauging the sentiment of your followers, and facilitating conversations with potential new customers. While some businesses have been using social as a part of their marketing process for a number of years, there are plenty of others who are just discovering the power of social media. If you’re new to the social media marketing game, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

The best way to begin is with the fundamentals. Want to find out the best time to post on Facebook? Wondering how to effectively use Google+? Need to know the optimal character count for a Tweet?

Here’s a taste of the basics:


Want to learn more about how to use social media to your advantage? Download the full version for free: Social Media 101 – The Basics

Did you find this guide useful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

Social Media Cheat Sheet – What You Need to Know

There are a lot of different social media platforms out there. While some have been around for almost a decade, others are just now stepping into the spotlight. As new technologies emerge, social channels need to adapt to survive in the evolving digital landscape. This can happen quickly, making it difficult to keep up with the latest updates. Whether you use one or all of them, it’s important to know who else uses them, how often they use them, and some best practices. Applying this information can help you make better decisions on social for your personal brand and for your business.

One of the most important rules of using social media is knowing your audience. Whether you’re trying to increase your blog’s readership, sell more wine, or simply expand your digital network, you’ve got to know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them. This cheat sheet will give you the insight you need to effectively reach out to your online audience and facilitate a successful conversation.

Take it from our team of community managers, brand strategists, and all-around social media obsessors – here’s what you need to know.

Did you find this helpful? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Silverback Social’s Favorite Moments from the Westchester Digital Summit

Westchester Digital Summit

What an incredible few weeks it’s been here at Silverback Social. You see, we produce an event called the Westchester Digital Summit. This year we were named by Forbes as one of the “Must-Attend Marketing Conferences For Leaders in 2014.” Each year we curate the brightest minds in tech, media, and entertainment. This year’s event, held on May 15th lived up to that moniker.

There were many highlights throughout the course of the day – here they are as told by the Silverback Social team:

Idia Ogala:

Undoubtedly – the Vaynerchuk keynote. As a marketing student, hearing that marketing principles that I was currently being exposed to instantly becoming obsolete was inspiring on so many levels; after the initial disappointment from a financial standpoint, of course lol. It was an eye opener that really challenged my understanding of marketing. It compelled me to try and use education and personal creativity to attempt to solve some of our industry’s problem through innovation. Challenge accepted.

John Zanzarella:

Mine came from our youngest participant, Josh Orton. Josh made waves at WDS1 when he was 12 (estimating) and heard a hyped up Gary V drop a digital smackdown on Westchester. This year Josh was prepared for Gary and when Q&A began Josh’ hand shot up. “What is ROI?” – at first I thought there was more to the question but then I realized that there didn’t need to be. There was something so innocent and brilliant about Josh’s question in a day and age where most businesses are more worried about ROI numbers than providing value with their marketing dollars.

Gary Vaynerchuk answering Josh’s question about ROI.

What happened next was a thing of beauty. Gary took a simple question, which most of the room knew the answer to, and answered it in a way that added value to everyone. Simple is difficult. Gary takes a complicated world of digital and social marketing and he makes it simple. That to me is his greatest strength and what helps make his keynotes so compelling.

Brian Funicelli:

Getting the chance to chat with some of the speakers after the event. I wasn’t expecting to have such casual, relaxed, down-to-earth conversations with executives from big-name companies like IBM, Mashable, and Fox Sports. I was able to talk to Adam Ostrow from Mashable about a mutual friend we have, and I was surprised at how much he and I had in common. Not only are this year’s summit participants incredibly smart, but they’re also super friendly. I’m looking forward to connecting with many of them again in the future!

Brian Levine:

Seeing all the speakers interacting and exchanging information behind the scenes. It’s great to have a lot of smart people in the same room, but when they start sharing and riffing off each other, that’s when the real magic happens. Helping facilitate the Q&A sessions with Chris and some of the speakers after their segments was fun and informative. During one of the Q&A’s, Adam Ostrow from Mashable recounted his inspiring story about how he became employee #2, which started by simply emailing the Founder when it was a one-man operation. Stories like these can inspire entrepreneurs at any
level. It was a great way for me to gain a deeper context to what they were talking about on the stage. WDS2 was a great day of learning and connecting with smart folks, which, at the end of the day, is what
social media is all about.

Tesla Motors at the Westchester Digital Summit

Josh Fenster:

Having the Telsa model s car at the event. At an event that last 9 hours it’s always a good idea to take a break. What a better way to spend your down time than to test drive one of the most technologically advanced cars in the world. As much as the summit was about information sharing and learning it was also about the experience. I didn’t get to test drive the Tesla because I was running around all day but I did take a peak inside. I was amazed how simple the design of the car looked yet how complex the technology that powered the car was. Between the Tesla, the chocolate delight buffet and the cocktail hour, the summit experience was one I’ll cherish forever!

Daniela Raciti:

My favorite moment, as everyone knows, was when I met Chris Hansen. Having watched him for years on TV, I was star struck when I found myself standing a few feet away from him. When he finished a conversation, I approached him with a huge smile on my face and said, with arm out, “Mr. Hansen, it’s so nice to meet you. I’m a huge fan, I just love you” to which he responded, (something to the effect of) “Too bad I’m not 30 years younger!” After speaking with him (and taking a picture, and wishing he was 30 years younger), I thought how cool it was that he was attending WDS2 to discuss how social media has changed the landscape of modern journalism. I hope that one day (soon) our paths cross again!

Westchester Digital Summit

Chris Dessi 

A highlight for me was the moment when Gregg Weiss VP Social Media at Mastercard was explaining to the audience how Mastercard keeps “Priceless” fresh – by offering their fans “priceless surprises.” The way he pulled this off in a room of 300 digital marketing executives was a thing of beauty. Let me explain:

Gregg Weiss of Mastercard turned to the crowd and posed the question:

What are you passionate about?

To which an audience member blurted out;

“the Mets”

Gregg replied

“Do you have a Mastercard?”

Audience member:


Gregg turned to the other side of the room:

“What are you passionate about?”

Another audience member shouted

“The Yankees”

Gregg replied

“Do YOU have a Mastercard?”

Audience member:


Great said Gregg (now standing up and reaching into his pocket:

“you just won a $50 Mastercard gift card.”

The crowd erupted in applause.

Greg sat back down in his chair and explained why that exchange was important and a great real life representation of how Mastercard engages with their community via social media. He started by saying that Mastercard is interested in their community – so they ask questions and engage with them. He also created something he referred to as “card envy.” The first audience member didn’t have a Mastercard, and missed out on the “priceless surprise” of a $50 gift card. Envy ensues. Brilliant. I’m certain that some in the audience were upset that they hadn’t chimed in as well. He trained them to always be on the lookout for “priceless surprises” guaranteeing future engagement.

The final maraschino cherry on top was that after Gregg sat back down at his seat and began explaining what he’d just done an audience member shouted:

“Can I get an application for a Mastercard?”

If that’s not ROI, I’m not sure what is.

Photo Credits: Pinksy Studios

Were you at the Westchester Digital Summit?

What was your favorite moment?  Share in the comments below.

Facebook Algorithm Change = Death of Memes?

A few days ago, Facebook made some additional changes to its algorithm. Here are the changes summarized below:

  • Posts to popular articles and other content will show up more than images.
  • Text posts reach a larger audience than image posts do.

We’ve seen the changes affecting the reach of our posts over the last few days:


Our average reach was ~50, but over the last 3 days, the highest reach for one of our posts was only 22.

What does this mean? Well first, forget trying to get engagement through memes. Facebook is becoming inundated with meme images and it’s clear the social network is looking to shift towards a place to get high-quality content rather than a meme farm.

Second, this change coupled with the recent “story bump” update means content aggregators will be rewarded for posting highly engaging content. This means you’ll probably see a lot more articles from large publications like the New York Times and high-traffic blogs like Mashable.

It seems that, in an effort to compete with other quickly growing social networks like reddit and to get users to stay on the platform, Facebook is trying to become a network that people go to for high-quality news and content. Also, in an effort to become a valuable company in the eyes of shareholders, they are pushing smaller content creators to pay for sponsored posts and ads, since less trafficked blogs don’t tend to get as much engagement as larger publications.

If Facebook is a channel that you use in your marketing plan, consider these changes and test the effect your metrics.  Will the greater reach of text posts help your click-through rate, or will the lack of an image cause people to skim over your post even though it reaches more people?


Will Story Bump Turn Facebook Into a Public Forum?

Story Bump

Earlier this week, Facebook announced the introduction of an entirely new algorithm known as “Story Bump.”

To give you a brief overview, Facebook has done away with “EdgeRank” – an algorithm based heavily on the timing of a post – and is now embracing the method of ‘story bump’: bumping stories that you don’t see in your newsfeed during a browsing session to the top of your newsfeed so that you can see those first during your next browsing session.

It may also be affected by the amount of likes, comments and shares that a specific post gets.  Meaning that the more interaction a post gets, the more likely it is to rise to the top of your newsfeed.

If you’ve ever used an internet forum or message board before, you’ll notice that Facebook’s concept of ‘story bump‘ is very similar to the process of ‘bumping’ a post on a forum.  A post on a message board gets ‘bumped’ each time a person interacts with said post.  Each interaction makes the post rise back up to the top of the message board.  You can imagine that very compelling, popular and controversial posts are often commented on the most, therefore they are constantly being ‘bumped’ and remain at the top of the message board.  Here are a few examples:

forum bump bumped 2

So, is the ‘forum’ concept Facebook’s future? It’s possible, but we don’t know for sure.  If nothing else, examining the forum concept gives us a few guidelines on how to make the most of the Facebook algorithm change.  Here are 3 tips:

1) Make sure your content is compelling

First things first: The more informative, educational and compelling your content, the more likely it will be interacted with making it more likely to be bumped to the top.

2) Start Segmenting your Facebook Content

Content is extremely segmented in an Internet forum. As an example, let’s take this bodybuilding forum:

bb forum


You can see that you have one board dedicated to ‘supplements’ which houses all conversations about supplements, so on and so forth which each board.

Did you know that you can do this with Facebook? (I know – I just blew your mind…).  Facebook recently introduced ‘Facebook Post Targeting’ which allows you to segment your content on Facebook (you can access it by clicking the ‘GPS Signal’).

Facebook post targeting


You can target ‘men’ or ‘women’ or target by relationship status, education level, etc.  So rather than just a blanket Facebook post about your brand, you can segment your post to the people who will find it the most interesting.  By putting your content in front of the right audience, you’ll grow your audience exponentially and create brand advocates because you’re sharing information that they want.

3) Shares, Likes and Comments have never been more important

With EdgeRank, it hardly mattered how many people liked, shared or commented on your Facebook post.  Now the entire Facebook algorithm is based on it, so make sure that your including a “social call to action” in at least 50% of your posts.  By a “social call to action”, I mean invite them to interact with your Facebook post: say “tell us”, “please share”, etc.  You might worry that this will dilute your post if you’re asking users to take these actions – trust me – people won’t take an action unless you tell them what action to take.  Used sparingly, these methods are extremely effective.

While I can’t say with certainty that the future of Facebook is a ‘forum style’ platform, it does seem like it’s headed to that direction.


Do you see similarities in Facebook and Internet messages or forums that you’ve used before?  Please, share with us!

Facebook’s Story Bump: Get Creative or Drift into Obscurity

story bump algorithm

A new Facebook ‘Story Bump’ algorithm system released Tuesday has — in essence — given brand advertisers an ultimatum: increase engagement by producing interesting, creative content or drift into obscurity!

As of August 2013, the typical Facebook frequenter sports an average of over 141 friends, with a large chunk of the company’s primary demographic (18-24 year old’s) boasting a significantly higher accumulation (510 per user).

Facebook and its double friend request mechanism allows for an influx of content, prompting interaction and engagement among its users. On any given day, the average user’s News Feed attracts 1,500 possible stories.

Upon filtration, however, a mere 20% of the aforementioned 1,500 stories actually reach the eyes of the user.

Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon..


Facebook, the world’s largest social networking platform announced that it’s altering the way it deciphers the posts you come across when you log in. The most recent photos, integrated links, videos and status updates, will be available — as usual — but now old, engaging posts that might have been overlooked the last time you checked your Facebook, will be bumped to the top of your feed.

“Our main goal is really to make the best personalized newspaper for our users,” said Facebook News Feed engineering manager Lars Backstrom on Tuesday. And the way to execute this sentiment is by putting the “best stories at the top where you’re most likely able to engage with them“.

They are calling this new algorithm, “Story Bump”.



Facebook has come along way since its inaugural days where the tech company distributed content (statuses, videos, images) on user feeds through the use of dials. Today, a systematic algorithm does the heavy lifting, highlighting the stories it assumes account holders will find most interesting on any given day.

Via Mashable:

“The process assigns each new story a score, placing the highest scoring stories at the top of the feed.

Scores are determined using a number of factors, such as the relationship you have with the user who posted it, the number of comments, the number of shares, and the number of likes that the story has accumulated.”

Very Reddit-esque..



After a recent test conducted by Facebook on Story Bump, it was reported that the dynamic News Feed resulted in an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on the organic stories testers saw from Pages.

And if your organization is invested in advertisements, an 8% increase in engagement can prove to be extremely substantial to potential reach.

Whether a small brand with a fast growing following or an industry leader with millions of brand advocates worldwide, to sustain upward progress and ensure an ROI on your daily social media output, the focus must be on creation of shareable, scalable, engaging and compelling content.

For dull brands that lack innovation within the social media ecosystem, their message will continuously be replaced (on news feeds) by content more interesting and engaging.



  1. Educating – Empower your audience by providing shareable, uplifting resources. These include weekly tips, productive/industry-relative quotes, a link to current events that align with your company’s objective etc. Your fan base will recognize your brand as a source of information and will willingly visit your page for updates and share posts with their connections.

  1. Creating An Emotional Attachment – Brand loyalty is built when a unique relationship is cultivated between your brand and members of your target audience. When consistent with your company objective, infusing emotion into your culture ensures your target audience that selling isn’t necessarily a top priority.  Showcasing your company culture and embracing the community your industry inhibits creates this attachment and builds brand equity.LLS emotional attachment

  1. Prompting Fan Engagement – Allow fans to showcase their creativity through Fill in the blanks, Photo Captions Contests and answering thought-provoking Questions ensures continuous engagement on your posts! Remember, question-based posts get 100% more comments than standard text-based posts and shorter posts get 23% more interaction than posts that exceed 250 characters. So keep ‘em short and inquiring! lls engagement

  1. Using Images !! –  Dress up compelling, informative text with a compelling graphic! It’s by far the most engaging format of content on Facebook today, even receiving more likes, shares and comments than its counterpart, video. Photos eat up more space in your readers’ News Feeds and they are easier and quicker to produce than video.

By consistently integrating these simple steps into your day-to-day Facebook posting, you’ll reap the benefits of the Story Bump algorithm designed to reward user creativity…


… and in the process, avoid drifting into obscurity.

What’s your opinion on Facebook’s new algorithm, “story bump”? Will it affect your current Facebook strategy?

The Trayvon Martin Case: Why Your Opinion Matters

On February 26th, 2012, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman.

Over a year later on July 13th, 2013, George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder, and was also acquitted of manslaughter in the Trayvon Martin case.

The trial was broadcast live on most television news stations. However, the trial was also the number one topic of conversation on social media on Saturday night, the night the verdict was reached. Millions of users posted on social media about “Zimmerman” and “Trayvon Martin,”  two key phrases that are still trending on Twitter almost a week later. These people chose to share their opinions about the verdict by sharing it via Twitter and Facebook to all of their followers, and considering how controversial the case was, these opinions were deeply felt and strongly voiced. Countless people disagreed with the verdict and commented on the flaws of the state of Florida’s legal system, while numerous others felt the jury produced the correct verdict and that Florida’s laws functioned exactly the way they were designed.

Despite my personal opinion, I found myself being influenced by the hundreds of social media users whose thoughts and beliefs I was reading. After scrolling through a ton of angry, confused, relieved, disappointed, and/or joyful posts, I caught myself regurgitating other people’s opinions while discussing the case with my friends and family. I was making arguments and forming opinions based on the feelings and emotions that other people had shared via social media.

Once I became aware of this, I realized that it must have been happening to a lot of other people too. It’s obviously important to get information from multiple sources to establish a broad and unbiased perspective. The introduction of Twitter has drastically accelerated the rate at which people receive and absorb breaking news. However, Twitter acts as a double-edged sword in this case because anyone can Tweet about anything at any time. There’s no validation process. So while people may be getting information much more expeditiously, the truth and accuracy of this information may be diminished.

I think it’s important to be able to voice your opinion, and I think Twitter is great because it enables and facilitates these conversations. However, I strongly urge Twitter users to read carefully, share their thoughts even more carefully, and THINK before posting. There’s a lot of information out there, and in today’s age it is our responsibility to determine what information is valid and what is not. Your opinion matters because though you might not realize it, your opinion may be influencing and shaping the opinions of others.

How does social media affect your understanding and opinion of breaking news and current events?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Marketing Beyond Facebook

If you think social media marketing is limited to Facebook and Twitter, it’s time to zoom out.  While these social networks are an excellent place to begin your social media strategies, expanding it to a wider range of social media platforms can help your business market to new audiences, build brand awareness, increase brand loyalty and increase the amount of traffic back to your website. 

1) Review boards and recommendation sites (

The opinions of the e-crowd are taken seriously by people who are looking for advice and recommendations.  If your brand can provide your own recommendations and interact with those who are talking about your brand, it gives you the opportunity to expand the awareness of your brand and show that you care by actively engaging.

2) Comment Section of blogs, news sites, etc.

Enter the conversation! If you sell swimming pools for a living, comment on news articles or blogs where people are talking about swimming pools (in fact, one of my favorite entrepreneurial gurus, Marc Lyons did just this and saved his pool business!).  Your target market will be searching for these articles and blogs to gather content about decisions they are looking to make.  If your brand can provide content that adds to the blog post or news article, they may click over to your website to learn more.

3)  PhotoSites (Flickr, Picasa)

Today, you’re wearing your favorite Converse sneakers and decide to take a picture of them, which you upload to Picasa.  Suddenly, you get an update.  Converse commented on your image saying “Great shot!”.  Your loyalty to Converse has just been fueled, right?  People want to engage with you as the brand.  When you surprise them by finding them in unexpected places, it just strengths the relationship they have with you.

4) Forums (Quora, etc.)

Every industry has it’s own forum (literally, every industry).  There’s weight loss forums, motorcycle forums, video game forums, beauty forums — it’s overwhelming…and it’s also a great place to engage with your target consumers through content marketing.  Imagine you’re Harley Davidson’s Product Expert and you jump into a motorcycle forum and see a thread about a user looking for new riding gloves for his bike.  You contribute to the conversation and provide a real, relevant (read: not ‘salsey’) answer that helps the user decide what gloves to purchase.  Will he buy Harley Davidson gloves?  Maybe, maybe not.  But at least the relationship between the user and your brand has started…and that relationship has every chance to grow and flourish until you have a 100% loyal consumer.  Relevant interaction and engagement is key.

5) Answer & Question Sites (Yahoo Answers, ChaCha, even LinkedIn Discussions)

People come to the Internet to answer questions and identify solutions.  And they’re not necessarily using Twitter or Facebook.  Going the extra mile to visit some Question and Answer sites allows you to demonstrate thought leadership and introduce them to your product through content marketing.

Remember -Social media doesn’t play well with the hard sell – it just wasn’t created for that.  So if you do decide to explore these as marketing avenues, be sure that you are providing relevant, real and educational information.  Show you care by engaging.  Show that you want to get involved by answering their question and providing solutions.  At the end of the day, that’s what’ll get the consumer’s attention.

Have you used any of these methods before with success? 

What platforms do you regularly engage on that aren’t Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.?”

Vine vs. Instagram Social Community Manager at Silverback Social Brian Funicelli Weighs In

Facebook made an announcement on Thursday, June 20th regarding an update for Instagram. The popular photo-sharing app has introduced Video, enabling users to capture 15 seconds of video, edit video segments, and apply up to 13 brand new filters. The app also allows users to stabilize shaky video footage before sharing it with followers, using a function called Cinema.

Instagram has made the process of capturing and sharing video easier than ever, along with providing the right tools to create more visually appealing short films. In comparison to Vine, the more basic 6-second video-sharing app, Video for Instagram gives users much more capability to make videos look great.

With this announcement, Instagram, which already has over 100 million artistic and creative users, has opened the floodgates for a huge amount of beautiful, original video content to be produced by people all over the world.

Instagram vs. Vine Josh Fenster Social Engagement Manager at Silverback Social Weighs In

As soon as Facebook announced “Instagram video”, brands immediately had advertisements ready to be viewed and shared within the social media ecosystem. Minutes after the Instagram application update Lululemon posted a unique digital ad using the new technology.  It will be interesting to see which video sharing platform will be used more by advertisers, Twitter’s Vine or Facebook’s Instgram? Brands must provide content for both platforms, not only because of the 150 million combined users that are active on the apps, but because they both provide different ways of story telling.  Vine forces companies to be creative with their content by limiting each video to six seconds. The “game” of creating great content on Vine highlights the companies or agencies creativeness, planning and execution.  For example check out this cool vine video by Ian Padgham.  However Vine is limited because there is only so much one can fit in six seconds and for the fact that you can’t seamlessly edit the video. Instagram video allows brands to use filters, edit the video, film  for 15 seconds and pick the video’s thumbnail. 15 seconds is the same length as many commercials on TV. Brands will use video on Instagram to create unique commercials using the new features that were introduced today.  If brands repurpose their TV commercials instead creating unique content exclusively for Instagram video they better be prepared for a negative response.  People are getting tired of the old way of advertising, tired of brands pushing and dumping products on them.  Brands must be providing value with each and every ad, whether that means the ad is funny, cool or informative.  Native advertising is the future and these platforms play right into the trend of brands becoming publishers.