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!

CBRE is Crushing it on Instagram: Silverback Social Asked Them 8 Questions to Find Out How

Here at Silverback Social we’re students of social media. We also love to share the wealth of knowledge that we’re exposed to as a result of being at the tip of the spear in social media. Recently we stumbled across the amazing work that CBRE is doing in social media, particularly Instagram. That’s right, CBRE, the world’s leading commercial real estate service is crushing it in social media. So we thought, wouldn’t it be cool is the worlds best social media agency and the worlds leading commercial real estate service sat down for a chat to better understand just how they’re dominating Instagram.

CBRE on Instagram

CBRE on Instagram

Answers are given by Andy Garrett | Senior Director of Global Marketing and Larry Koestler | Digital Marketing Manager
CBRE | Americas

1) As the world’s leading Commercial Real Estate service and investment Company, you guys are obviously already successful. When did the need for moving to a platform, such as Instagram, emerge?

Andy Garrett: So much of our success has been about pushing into new areas and uncovering opportunities. In the world of commercial real estate and amongst B2B companies, Instagram is really still in its infancy. It’s been a platform dominated by B2C brands and power-users. But we saw an opportunity to shake things up a bit.

Instagram has presented us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the elasticity of our brand, transcending the B2B and commercial real estate space and becoming a meaningful part of the consumer conversation.

Larry Koestler: Real estate plays such a huge part in all of our lives, both professionally and personally. Instagram has really been a great way for us to celebrate this impact, focusing on the art and science of structures from around the world and the people inspired by them.

2) Has there been considerable growth in your business as a result of the company’s Instagram? What is the ultimate goal—growth or increased engagement? Do you believe these things must be mutually exclusive?

Andy Garrett: For us at CBRE, Instagram is first and foremost about inspiring our people, our stakeholders and our audience groups. The early success has been both exciting and tangible, manifesting itself in the growth and engagement of the account.

3) How do you gauge which content your audience will enjoy the most?

Larry Koestler: We’re a global company, with offices in every major market and over 44,000 employees. That provides us the benefit of curating from an amazing pool of content to feature in our posts. Whether it’s stunning views of some of the world’s most iconic structures or a behind-the-scenes look at our new Workplace 360 offices, our audiences have responded in the most positive of terms.

4) What has your most popular Instagram post been? Why do you think that this particular post was so successful?

Larry Koestler: To date, our most-engaged post has been a photo of an amazing digital signboard at the Sydney Airport created by our CBRE Sydney team.

Andy Garrett: I’m thrilled with that post. It celebrates the imagination and creativity of our teams and shows the level of camaraderie and collaboration we have here at CBRE. Our team in Sydney did an amazing job with this and it shows the power of creativity to allow ideas to spread beyond their original jurisdictions. I’m very proud of our team in Sydney.

Larry Koestler: I think people responded so well to it because of the pride it instilled with our people and for those that work with us around the world.

5) What would you say to someone that did not believe that social media was an integral part of expanding various aspects of their business?

Larry Koestler: Social media has long since shed the tag of being a trend or curiosity. Today’s modern companies must look at social media as a core component of their marketing strategy. It represents a channel where barriers have been eliminated between organizations and their audience, allowing much more relatable and accessible interactions.

6) When you first decided to “storytell” your company through Instagram, since your competitors didn’t think to use that platform before, were you hesitant or doubtful that it would have a negative effect and if so, what precautions did you take?

Andy Garrett: Great stories should be told, regardless if those around you are telling their own or not. We believe we have a really great story to tell and we feel Instagram is an amazing place to do it. The buildings, clients, cities and people we serve everyday around the world inspire our story and it’s built on a 100+ year history that is rich and varied. It’s a story we are proud of and thrilled to be able to share in an organic, exciting way.

7) What other initiatives or ideas do you plan on having in the future to make sure you stay well ahead of your competition?

Koestler: There is so much we want to do on Instagram. We have really passionate people from around our organization constantly sharing ideas. So we’ll continue to keep our eyes and ears open, acting thoughtfully and purposefully to continue innovating and reaching our audiences.

8) What are the specific goals and purposes that your company uses the Instagram platform?

Andy Garrett: Instagram has been an amazing way to tell our story and connect with our people, stakeholders and audiences around the shared passion of real estate.  We’re going to keep having fun and connecting with our audiences and continue shaking up the notion of what Instagram could be for B2B and real estate companies.

Andy Garrett | Senior Director of Global Marketing

CBRE, Inc.

200 Park Avenue | New York, NY 10166

T +1 212 984 8185 | M +1 805 895 6828

[email protected]

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Larry Koestler | Digital Marketing Manager
CBRE | Americas

CBRE, Inc.

2800 Post Oak Boulevard | Suite 2300 | Houston, TX 77056
 [email protected] |

Connect with me on LinkedIn

 If you have any additional questions for Andy and Larry, please ask them in the comments section below. 

Instagram Ads: 3 questions + A Fatal Flaw

After Instagram’s initial announcement that ads were coming to it’s social platform a few weeks ago, we didn’t hear anything more.  Just that they were happening “soon”.  Last week, we got our first glimpse into what they would look like.

Instagram Ad

Beyond the initial announcement and the first mockup of the ad, the whole event has been shrouded in secrecy.  There’s been no word on algorithms or how Instagram ads work.  And while I understand the hesitation of over-promising and under-delivering on Instagram’s part, I can’t help but have the following concerns when it comes to what we don’t know about sponsored posts coming to one of our most beloved social media platforms:

Will it dilute the Instagram experience?

It’s scary to think about, but I can see the day where you can’t continue to scroll through your Instagram feed until you stop and watch Levi’s 15 second Instagram video for their #MakeYourMark campaign, a la YouTube.  When that happens, and users are unable to use their newsfeed the way that they want, the experience will be completely diluted.  Really hoping this doesn’t happen (are you listening, Instagram Gods?!), but again, I wouldn’t be surprised…

What’s the difference between a sponsored ad and a regular uploaded ad?

I’m confused as to why Instagram would activate ads in the first place, since each image a brand uploads is already somewhat of an ad for that brand.  Sponsored ads don’t seem to do much more than regular photo uploads (at least in these initial mockups we’re seeing).  So what’s the value of doing them?  Which brings me to my next question…

What’s the point?

How exactly do these ads help a business reach it’s goals via this platform.  Really what I’m asking here is what’s the problem that Instagram ads solve?  Right now, it looks like the only benefit is that brands get the opportunity to reach more users, according to their initial ad announcement (“Seeing photos and videos from brands you don’t follow will be new, so we’ll start slow”).  This is great for getting more eyeballs on your photo and maybe a few new followers.  But after a user follows you on Instagram, that’s pretty much the end of the relationship.  Which brings me to Instagram’s huge missed opportunity and it’s fatal flaw:

The inability to including functioning URLs within an Instagram caption!!!

Why has Instagram not implemented this yet?!  URL’s STILL do not work in Instagram captions which is extremely limiting for all users, from bloggers to brands.  What would have made this ad rollout significantly more valuable is allowing functioning links to be added to captions, so that when Burberry uploads a photo of it’s new winter trench coat, there’s a direct link to buy it (imagine the sharing capabilities here, as well!).  If they had implemented this as a premium feature for brands choosing to advertise with them, companies would have been chomping at the bit to sign up – it would have been the proverbial “game changer” for Instagram.  Instead, they’re charging brands to do exactly the same thing that all users can do, with the only added “benefit” being that they can reach more people.  And while there is value in reaching more users, the purpose of doing so is rendered ineffective because the users can’t take any further action (like learning more about the product or clicking through to view the product) besides simply following the brand on Instagram.  The way I see it, it’s a huge missed opportunity for the platform and seems like an ineffective way to monetize and maximize the ROI of advertising on the platform.

I’m curious to see whether Instagram ads take off or whether they’ll be a bust.  Until then, look for the new ads in your Instagram feed, come back and tell us how you feel about them.

Guns, Drugs, & Social Media

Earlier this month, the NYPD arrested 19 people in the biggest gun bust in New York City’s history. Furthermore, Matthew Best, one of the people involved in the gun running, unknowingly aided the police in the bust by posting pictures and videos on the Internet. Best, a young man aspiring to be a rapper, shared pictures and videos of the guns and the money involved in the operation to his Instagram and YouTube accounts. The NYPD used these photos and video clips as evidence to convict Best and 19 others of gun smuggling.


Additionally, teenagers have recently been using an underground website called Silk Road to purchase drugs online. These kids then posted photos of the drugs on the Internet to brag to their friends. Police located and arrested the adolescents for possession after finding the drug photos on the teens’ personal social media websites.

These stories are two prime examples of how transparent our world is today. Many Internet users are convinced that, since their privacy settings are configured so only their friends can see what they share, their photos and videos and status updates are only seen by a handful of people. This is not true. It is crucial to understand that ANYTHING you put on the Internet, regardless of who you think is able to see it, can potentially be seen by ANYBODY.

We are living in a time in which everybody is documenting everything they do. New parents take hundreds of pictures and videos of their babies and share it on Facebook. “Foodies” take photos of their meals and share it on Instagram. Aunts and uncles film their nieces’ and nephews’ piano recitals on iPhones. These photos and videos are wonderful to share with friends and family, but the impact of these picture and video files goes much further than that. Many people don’t realize that they are slowly but surely creating a long-lasting archive of their entire lives; not just for our friends and family, but for EVERYONE.

Sending out a Tweet with an F-bomb or a tactless comment can seem harmless. Tweets are short, fleeting, and innumerable, which makes it easy for them to appear to “get lost in the noise.” Again, this is not so. It is absolutely imperative to understand that these so-called “harmless” Tweets are not getting lost “in the cloud.” They are being documented, aggregated, and archived. They do not go away. They still exist on the Internet, and are visible to many more people than you might think.

Another example: By posting a picture of yourself and a close friend, you may be using social media as a sort of online diary. You’re saving that personal memory in picture form and putting it in a place where you know you and your close friend can access it at anytime and look back on it fondly. While this might have been a fairly normal way to use social media in the past, this is not the case in 2013. Today, it’s important to think of your social media networks as public display of your personal identity. Whatever you post on your social media pages, consider it a digital representation of how you want others to see you.

The name of the game is transparency. Get comfortable with the fact that certain aspects of your life that were once private are now becoming more and more publicly accessible. My advice is to treat the social networks you use as a personal résumé for your life. Treat everything you share on the Internet as something you would be comfortable sharing with your grandmother, acquaintance, or next employer. If you’ve just finished writing a short story, share it on your social places and be proud of it. You might just get noticed by a newspaper that wants you to write a segment for their online column. If you’ve just done something illegal and want to brag about it, DO NOT share it on your social places. You might just end up in prison.


Do you think social media has become too public? Do you feel that there’s not enough privacy on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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.


Vine vs. Instagram Silverback Social’s Director of Digital Communications Cristin Grogan Weighs In

Instagram video will be a tough sell. Not just because Vine was here first, but because the fun of Vine was the “challenge”, right? “How can you fit amazing content that speaks to your brand in a six-second video?” This question encouraged companies to get innovative, creating amazing stop-motion video content and other cool experiments (a personal favorite of mine was the Vine’d Burberry Men’s Fashion Show). While Instagram’s 15 seconds of video certainly allows for more content, it takes away from the “challenge” of a Vine. And what about the human psychology element here? Vine has already conditioned our attention span to a 6-second video. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve watched so many Vines that it’s getting harder and harder to watch a 2 minute video on YouTube. According to a study done by the Associated Press this April, the average attention span in 2012 was 8-seconds – and trust me – our attention spans will never get longer. Now that we’ve been spoiled by the 6-second Vine, I can’t see us regressing to a 15-second Instagram video. Honestly, I don’t think Vine has much to worry about: they not only created a platform that allowed creativity and innovation, but they allowed efficiency and human psychology to be part of the larger picture. Whether that was part of Vine’s plan or not, it was something that Insta just couldn’t bring to the table.

Vine vs. Instagram – Silverback Social’s Online Reputation Manager Alex Yae Weighs In

As soon as Vine was released, I knew it was a matter of time before Instagram/Facebook followed suit. Announced June, 20th, Facebook unveiled that Instagram now has the ability to share 15 second (over 2x the length of Vine) videos, complete with filters and effects – just like it’s picture sharing feature. So, what does this mean for Vine? A lot of people are predicting its demise, but I personally believe it is far too early to tell. Although right now Instagram is looking like a better Vine, each app serves a different purpose. Instagram is used more to tell a story and to make it aesthetically pleasing (no looping, longer limit, filter effects). Vine is for those who want to take a snapshot of a moment in time (limited editing capabilities, constant looping). I don’t see one overtaking the other, but I do see both coexisting as separate platforms, just like Facebook and Twitter.

And besides, who’s to say the folks at Twitter can’t change the way Vine functions? Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see Twitter responds to the new Instagram.