Is the Facebook News Feed Change as Scary as It Sounds?

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For years, Facebook has been the “go-to” platform for targeted marketing as well as social sharing. It was fairly easy and inexpensive to reach your customers. Businesses could set up a free page and begin publishing and sharing content that would be seen by many of their followers. If a post didn’t perform well, they could spend a small amount of money to “boost” it, or sponsor an ad, and even pinpoint the audience they wanted to reach.

The recent change will favor stories from friends and family in user News Feeds over promotional posts and news. Marketers and business owners reacted to the news swiftly and with trepidation. The question top of their minds: How can we maintain our presence on social media and get results?

Applaud Good Intentions. Address Worrisome Consequences.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the change earlier this month, explaining that true human connection was always the goal of the social network. In returning to its more noble roots, Facebook is seeking to nurture more authentic connections and engagements. And this is great, but now what? How can brands and small businesses that rely on social media reach their customers? Will there still be a place for their content in the News Feed? How much money will they need to spend to boost or sponsor their content— – and will it still not make a difference?

While it’s too soon to know what direct impact this algorithm change will have on business pages, it’s not too soon to start thinking about your strategy.

Evaluate Your Game Plan.  Don’t Throw In the Towel.

While concern about this change is prudent, throwing in the towel is not; Facebook is still the dominant social network. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 79 percent of online adults use Facebook and its 1 billion daily users spend nearly a half hour each day on the site. And who are these 1 billion daily users, you ask? Eighty-three percent of them are women and 75 percent are men. Let’s not forget age: People 18- to-29 years old make up 88 percent of Facebook’s users, followed by those who are 30- to 49 years (84 percent), and 50-to 64 years old (72 percent). Lastly, adults ages 65 and older make up 62 percent of users.

There is no better time than now to get creative with your social marketing strategy. Now that Facebook has signaled that engagement is the top priority, businesses need to make it theirs. Sooner than later.

Take a good hard look at your page, and ask yourself:

  • What kind of content do my followers react to?
  • How can I tell my brand’s story in a way that gets our followers excited and inspires their engagement?
  • Which kind of posts get the most engagement?  
  • Who are my most engaged followers?

Facebook knows when you’re not on your game. A stagnant page has little to no authority over Facebook’s algorithm.

Get Creative. Try New Strategies to Increase Engagement.

The answer is clear. To stay in the game, you have to find new ways to play. More than ever, you need to encourage an interactive yet authentic exchange of information on your page. That means more than “likes.” It means shares, comments, views longer than 10 seconds. In other words, real engagement.

Just make sure you don’t resort to posting “comment bait” or using other tricky ways to get your users to reply. In the past, it was OK to reward your audience for responding to a post. You could offer an incentive or discount to the first 10 people to respond, for example. It was a simple and fairly effective way to make the algorithm work for you. It’s not going to work as well anymore.  Here’s what will:

1. Post content that is top of mind. Maybe even a little edgy. Definitely thought- provoking. We are not suggesting you post political opinions on your business page but rather something that is a hot topic for your particular audience. It is more likely to get a conversation started than endlessly posting blatant self-promotional content.

2. Create a Facebook Group. There is no better time to start a community-driven Facebook Group, if it makes sense for your business. A Facebook Group is a closed network of people who are interested in your brand or message. You may not be able to push your message out to the world, but everyone in the group will see your posts. Most of all, Facebook has come right out and said it will favor this kind of content.

3. Increase your activity on other platforms. Good content is still the King of SEO, but Facebook just made it a little harder to use it to drive traffic to your website. Rather than dropping a link in your Facebook post to your website, you should consider posting longer blog summaries and sharing them on LinkedIn. You should make a point to send people who are engaging with you on Twitter and YouTube, for example, by linking your content back to your Facebook page. Facebook doesn’t like to see you sending all of your users off its platform; it would rather see you bring people in. When you post a new blog on your website, include a link to your Facebook page, for example. There are also many plug-ins that allow you to add a Facebook feed right to your website.

4. Engage with other brands. Make a point to comment and like content on other pages relevant to your users. In return, these brands may start to engage on your page as well. Content sharing can boost your engagement quickly.

5. Stick with a few basics. Continue to post clear calls to actions, as well as strong visuals, feature more video (including live video), and keep your content timely and relevant. In other words, don’t throw out your entire playbook. These strategies are just as important as ever.

If you don’t have the resources to keep up your page—not to mention all the changes at Facebook—a consultation with a social media specialist can help.

What's In a Name? Your Heart. Your Soul. Your Brand Identity.

What could be more fun than naming a new company? Almost anything? While it’s true that the idea of naming a new product or a startup company sounds like the ultimate creative assignment, it can also be very stressful. There are so many ways you can go with it … starting with the wrong way.

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Case in point, you could name your company the same way I named my cat. The night of the adoption, we asked our waitress at dinner for her opinion. She was up for the task and asked every one of her customers for suggestions, and later returned with a napkin full of names. That random exercise proved successful. But don’t try it at home. Or at the office.

Naming competitions and games might work for your pet goldfish, but your company is hopefully going to be around a lot longer. Your company’s name needs to be authentic, a true reflection of your brand. It will impact all future marketing, and in ways you may not think about until you realize you missed the mark. And possibly your trademark.

As a general rule of thumb, your company name should not:

  1. Offend people
  2. Confuse people
  3. Contain too many characters
  4. Limit you geographically
  5. Be too trendy
  6. Blatantly copy another company name
  7. Use peculiar spelling
  8. Add superfluous prefixes or suffixes
  9. Contain overused “buzz” words
  10. And, obviously, be trademarked to someone else

It doesn’t take long for the name game to turn into a brain drain. You start to question every single syllable. What if no one can pronounce my name or understand what it means? What if someone else already has the name? How can I keep the URL short and sweet? Why is every possible domain already taken?

Don’t Give Up. Don’t Settle. Keep Plugging Away ...

The biggest mistake you can make at this point is to give up, thinking you are wasting precious time and energy on the naming process. You know that you need the right name to have a strong brand identity, but the process has worn you down. It might be time to get help.

There are companies you can hire that specialize in naming. Big brands spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a naming strategy. Pete’s Pet Sitting in Piedmont doesn’t have that kind of budget or need. Everyone in Piedmont knows Pete and his pets and his cute logo. He is well branded for his local audience. He has a strong word-of-mouth business, too, and all of his flyers and business cards have a distinctly “down-home” comfortable feeling. Nothing too fancy for Pete’s. He is the brand. He got it so right, maybe by accident, but it works. What works for you?

Your company name should:

  1. Be the right length: Research says 5 to 10 characters
  2. Work well in an email subject line
  3. Fit nicely in a tweet
  4. Be easy to recognize
  5. Connect with your audience
  6. Truly represent your company

Your company name should be a true reflection of who you are, but not be so personal that no one else “gets it.” It should not be so clever that no one gets it either. It should speak to your audience, not just your best friends and co-workers. Get their opinions. Take surveys. Conduct focus groups. Do your research. Google similar businesses. Check out your competition. Do a domain name search. Yet, at the end of the day, rely on your own intuition and judgment.

You can create a new version of a word by adding an “ly” or an “ity” to your name, but only if it makes sense and is easy to read and understand. You can come up with a completely new word. But don’t just do it for the sake of being clever. Do it because it is part of an overall strategy. The word, the overall look and the logo should tie together to create one cohesive first impression. That all said, leave some room for creativity and gut instincts. It has to feel right to you.

We struggled for weeks to come up with the name “Ananta.” We arrived at the word because it means “infinite” in Sanskrit and we were marketing wellness in the early days. We connected the word “ananta” to the word “creative” because our business was founded by the creative team: a photographer, a copywriter and graphic designers. Yet we knew that the word had to stand on its own.

People will comment that they love our logo and our look. The word “ananta” opens up a discussion about our core values and mission. Think about your brand a few years down the road as well as a few hours from now during a new business presentation. Imagine yourself in front of a room making your pitch. Now visualize your company’s name on a sign outside your door or on your building. Picture the name on an app, in a web address, on a flyer, on a business card. How does he feel to you? 

Still not sure what to name your company?  Give us a call. We are happy to sweat it out with you.

What It's Like To Work with Us

It’s not every day that we travel to the beaches of Boston’s North Shore for a photo shoot. Ananta Creative Group is very much a local business, focused on promoting other local businesses in and around Princeton, New Jersey.

Matt Pilsner Photography Ananta Creative

Yet, when the right opportunity presents itself to stretch the limits a bit while remaining true to our high-touch approach to marketing consulting, we are more than happy to jump right in.

When Danielle Selleck of Healthy Intentions Living contacted us from Ashland, Massachusetts, we were at first only mildly curious. How did she hear about us? What is an alchemy crystal singing bowl, and how does its beautiful sounds help us to meditate? Where could we try a session?

We don’t have the luxury of working on every project that intrigues and challenges us on a personal level, but we do make a point to weave them into our production schedule. It’s how we stay true to our mission to promote good health, in business and in everyday life.

From the moment we first heard Danielle play the bowls, we knew she had a special talent. We spoke with her several times over the phone, but it wasn’t until we experienced a session with her that we truly understood her passion and her business. We wouldn’t start a new client relationship any other way.

What you can expect when you work with Ananta Creative Group:

1.    Face-to-face meetings (when possible). Of course we have the technology to conduct all of our business remotely, but we place a high value on personal interactions.

2.    A request to be your client (at least for a few hours). You build homes? We want to meet you on the site. You run a soccer camp? We want to see the kids in action. You manage a wedding venue? Sorry, we have to draw a line somewhere, but we would love a tour of the facility.

3.    A lot of questions (and some really good answers). Like other marketing agencies, we initiate almost every project with a standard questionnaire or phone consultation, but we are likely to take the conversation to unexpected places. We want to get you thinking in new ways from the start.

4.    A highly customized product (including custom photography whenever appropriate). We have built our reputation on stunning photography supported by engaging yet optimized copy. As we have grown and expanded our services, we continue to focus on creating content that is as far from generic as a client’s budget allows. 

Read more about our award-winning photography and copywriting at nj.com.

5.    Knowledge of your industry (and a passion to learn more). We work with a diverse group of clients and have developed a strong expertise in a number of arenas. If we are not experts in your field when you hire us, we will be soon enough.

6.    Your participation (every step of the way—or not). Everyone has a different style of working. Whether you want to turn over all your marketing to us and not worry about day-to-day details, or you would rather share in every decision, we will make sure you feel comfortable—and confident—with the process.

7.    Flexible scheduling (that respects your time). This is the new world of work. We understand that you may work at home, or have family and volunteer commitments, or be in another time zone. We certainly can’t be everywhere you want us to be, whenever you want us to be there. But we make every effort to set up conference calls and meetings that address your situation.

8.    Field trips to the beach (okay, we are kidding, but … ). As much as we take our work seriously, we also think it’s important to keep joy in the process. We like to spend some time getting to know our clients, and to go the extra mile delivering personal service. That doesn’t always mean a photo shoot on the beach on a picture-perfect day. But it’s pretty wonderful when it does!

 Just another day at the office? Not exactly. But we do take the time to capture the essence of your business.
To find out more, give us a call at 609.759.1209.

Matt Pilsner Photography Ananta Creative Group
Gail Rose and Matt Pilsner Ananta Creative Group
Ananta Creative Group Custom Photography

Are Creative Awards Still Relevant?

Ananta's Managing Director looks back-and forward–as the agency accepts three marketing communications awards for their work at the 2017 NJCAMA ASTRA Award Ceremony.

 Gail Rose and Matt Pilsner accept an ASTRA Award at the New Jersey Communications, Advertising and Marketing Association (NJCAMA) 2017 award ceremony.   Ananta won Silver Awards for “Design/Advertising, Still Photography” for “The Prallsville Mills at Night,” “Excellence in Website Writing” for Ananta Creative Group, and “Multimedia Campaigns, Business-to-Consumer,” for Dickson Development.

Gail Rose and Matt Pilsner accept an ASTRA Award at the New Jersey Communications, Advertising and Marketing Association (NJCAMA) 2017 award ceremony. 

Ananta won Silver Awards for “Design/Advertising, Still Photography” for “The Prallsville Mills at Night,” “Excellence in Website Writing” for Ananta Creative Group, and “Multimedia Campaigns, Business-to-Consumer,” for Dickson Development.

Do creative awards still matter in the new world of marketing? I started to ponder this question on my way to the shopping mall the other day. Ananta had won three awards, and I had completely neglected to order a new dress to wear to the awards ceremony. Suddenly I felt like I had entered a time warp. Was it time to throw on a pair of pumps and pantyhose and rock my 80s playlist?

Not quite. Not yet. Technology has brought us to a much better place than we were when I began my career in marketing. We are now standing on solid, data-driven, measurable ground. Our work is being evaluated every single day by completely impartial robots! We can’t take them out to lunch to secure better placement on the page. The only thing that might get us to the top of Google is strong, relevant and engaging content with strategic on-page SEO implementation supported by an effective paid search campaign.

There is nothing subjective about a Google Analytics report, or the number of impressions on a LinkedIn post. And, frankly, even with all this data, we still have to prove the true value of our marketing initiatives every day. Do these statistics make us any more successful as marketers than an old-school, peer-reviewed creative award?

Yes, they do. There is little value in great marketing creative if it produces no measurable result. This is at the core of all the work we do at Ananta.

Naturally it came as no surprise that my highly disciplined, task-oriented millennial creative partner was completely baffled by the idea of a creative awards ceremony. Why in the world would we take time out of our day to celebrate ourselves when there was important work to be done? How could anyone even measure something as subjective as creativity? Would he have to wear a tie?

At the end of the day, the question is not about looking back to another time but how we move our message forward. Sure, you can argue that there is no point in spending time and money on awards when anyone today can self-publish their successes on our social media channels.

This is why, I suppose, I stopped entering work years ago. However, when a client asked us to win an award for the work we were doing, we got right on it. And found it was neither a waste of time nor money. It was an important reminder that we are not just in this to boost our rankings—or our egos. We are in it to make a difference.

Creative awards celebrate the human side of marketing, something that drives our energy and spirit at Ananta Creative Group. We love telling stories. We love making it personal. It is essential to acknowledge great work privately. It is a very good idea to do it publicly from time to time as well. Our strong creative product attracts top talent to our teams. Above all else, it creates a work culture that is uplifting, empowering and very relevant.

When You Are Too Busy To Blog

Of course you are too busy to blog!  We all use that excuse. It's time to lose it.

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Remember how excited you were to start your company blog? And how you kept it current for … one issue?

We are all guilty of letting the blog drop. This is the first time we have added a new blog to our own website in a couple of months. Fortunately, our excuse is that we have been busy blogging for our clients. Check out some examples below.

Why blog in the first place?

You may think that no one cares about your rambling thoughts, and you may be right. That’s why you have to offer something of value to the reader. Unless you are an industry thought leader or a particularly engaging writer, chances are good that the masses are not eagerly awaiting your next update.

However, Google and other search engines are waiting for your next update. Text-heavy websites are a thing of the past, but content is still the King of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines recognize when content is added, and that gives your site authority, which translates into better rankings. Do the math. Add some words. Add the right words—we call them “keywords.” But don’t just throw 5,000 of them up on your home page and call it a day. The search engines see right through that, and worse, you will scare away human readers with all that intimidating text.

What about all your stunning photography?

Keep your home page clean and visually appealing, with brief, informative and compelling copy. Use it to direct people to the new content on your site that is as appealing to humans as it is to search engines. With strong images and intriguing, timely and SEO-friendly copy. That sounds like a blog! Now you get it?

  1. Blog because it gives Google new content to crawl.

  2. Blog because it gives you a voice and establishes you as an expert.

  3. Blog because it gives readers a reason to come back to your website.

  4. Blog because it gives you original content to share on social media.

What should you blog about?

What do your readers want to know? How to hire a builder? How to burn fat? How to get their kids into college? Think about the kind of information and questions your clients and prospects ask you.

Now take a look at your website and newsletter analytics. What are people reading? Give them what they want. It’s just that simple. Even if you are not directly promoting one of your products or services, you are building trust with your readers by offering them useful, insightful and engaging information. If you can mention your product or service as well, that’s even better. Just try not to make it too self-promotional. This is a blog. Not an ad.

For example, people are always asking us how they can do a better job managing their social media business pages. Many of them are people we know will never hire an outside agency to do their social media, but who could very likely engage us in another way. We want to be recognized for experience, and we want to be helpful, but we don’t want to give away the whole shop. By offering a few tips, we get the conversation started. Or help them along their way. Best of all, they find us on the web. If we do our homework, blog about the topics that are interesting to our clients, and implement effective SEO, they have a much better chance of finding us than if we never update our content.

How long should your blog be?

There are some excellent reasons to keep your blog short. And just as many, if not more, to make it long. What’s just right? That depends on many factors. Short blogs are great when you are trying to get the reader to take action—schedule an appointment, sign up for a newsletter, order a product. All the same, a blog needs to be at least 300 words to rank with the search engines. What’s more, research suggests that 1,600 to 2,500 words and up is ideal for SEO.

We have a specific goal in mind every time we write a blog, and they vary widely. But our commitment remains the same: We write for people first, and search engines (a close) second. We aren’t going to fill a page if there is nothing left to say. Let’s face it, most people are not only too busy to write blogs, they are also too busy to read them.

How will you find time to do it?

Simply stated, you have to make a commitment to blog, and that starts with good planning and these four tips:

  1. Set realistic goals, just as you would at the gym. If you know you will be lucky to get one done a quarter, then schedule it that way and stick to it. We suggest at least one a month, but if the task becomes too overwhelming, you may just give the whole thing up.

  2. Create an editorial calendar. Set deadlines. Share them with others on your team. Be accountable.

  3. Schedule time. Put the tasks in a project manager tool or on your calendar

  4. Get help. You may not be able to do it alone, especially if you are not a writer. Engage others on your team or hire a consultant.


Still staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration?
We are here to help. We love to write and edit blogs for our clients.
Give us a call at 609.759.1209 to find out more.