New Facebook feature listens in to what you’re doing


Soon, Facebook won’t have to ask what you’re doing; it’ll just know.

Facebook app users were in an uproar when they discovered the social media giant is releasing a new feature that activates the microphone on their smartphones to listen in on their surroundings. Essentially, the feature was created to use a sound recognition software to determine what TV show or movie a user is watching or what song they’re listening to. However, the simple fact that Facebook would be listening in was a uncomfortable thought to some users, so much so that a petition arose to halt the app from being released in the first place.

Currently, the feature is opt-in only, which means you have the ability to disable it. However, the discomfort for some users still remains.

This isn’t the first time a brand in the technology sector has had the ability to tap into your surroundings. According to Business Insider, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect feature is always on, watching and listening. Pretty shady stuff right there.  Microsoft announced they are now selling a console without the Kinect option, making it cheaper and less Big Brother.

Of course, one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind isn’t whether Facebook will continue with the feature. It all comes down to the blurry line of privacy with our smart devices. In an age where technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid rate, will our privacy continue to take the back seat? Will privacy become nonexistent?

What are your thoughts about the latest feature? Leave your comments below.


Google’s Social Media Definitions

If search engines were given earthly authority, Google would be king.  However, even with that impressive standing, Google isn’t the dictionary. A king aspiring to be a comedian? Yes. An engine of accurate descriptions? No.

Here are some of the best auto-fill descriptions for popular social networking sites. Enjoy!



Quick! Somebody call the paramedics. The most popular social network seems to be losing consciousness. That, or it’s possessed…we can’t tell.



Wow, such pessimism over the world’s only professional social network. If only they knew how much this platform is growing and thriving, especially in the world of online marketing.




Don’t believe anything Instagram says. Our guess is that it’s probably a bold-faced lie.




Just because you can’t log into Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s stupid. That’s not nice.




Houston, we seem to have a problem with the YouTube.




Oh, poor stupid, useless Twitter. #LifeIsMeaningless #TwitterProblems




We refuse to believe Foursquare is dead. Especially in Istanbul.




Such bitterness and angst. Are we sure Google auto-fill search isn’t run by teenagers?




Here’s what we know: 1) Google is your friend with evil tendencies that 2) may or may not be Skynet and 3) is looking for minions. Sounds legit.


Have you experienced any Google Auto-Fill Awesomeness? Share it in the comments!

Have selfies gone too far?

Blue Swimsuit self portrait

Selfies are everywhere: from our social media news feeds to television to songs celebrating them on Top 40 radio stations. With stories like suicide attempts and plastic surgery inspired by selfie-taking, do you think the fad has gone too far? Read the Social Media Today exclusive here: Invasion of the Selfies

What are your thoughts on selfies? Leave a comment below or on Social Media Today.

Why You Should be Investing in Digital Advertising in 2014


Where are your marketing dollars going this year? If you are anything like the other thousands of businesses in America, you’ll probably shift away from the more traditional forms of advertising in 2014 and pool your money into digital.

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies across the United States are expected to spend $50.1 billion on digital ads in 2014. While that figure still comes second to television spending at $68.5 billion, it’s growing at a much faster rate than any other form of advertising.

Let’s say your company is used to traditional ad spending: mail flyers, billboards, newspaper ads, radio blurbs, etc. For years, all your marketing department has done is focus on these methods without furthering the company’s presence in the digital realm.  While traditional ways of advertising are still effective, not investing in digital advertising could actually be having an adverse affect on your company’s bottom line.

Here’s our reasons why you should focus on digital advertising (with particular emphasis in social media advertising) in 2014:

Digital advertising reaches the same amount of people, if not more than traditional advertising

Welcome to the Internet, where the world truly is your audience. Your goal in marketing is to make sure people see your advertisements. Every time someone sees your ad, it’s counted as an impression.  Traditional forms of marketing have limited impressions, depending on their target audience. For instance, hosting a billboard in a medium-sized metropolitan area (like Sioux Falls, SD) reaches weekly impressions of around 55,000. If you take out a  1 column x 4 inches ad in the Los Angeles Times, you can expect a fraction of the 1.7 million readership will run across your message while flipping through the paper.

While this sounds like you’re getting a good deal, consider how many impressions you can get with online media. On Facebook, depending on the specifications you set for your ad, you can reach way more people, up to 180 million, to be exact. Remember that print ad for the Los Angeles Times? If you target a Facebook sponsored post and sidebar advertisement to appear to only those living in LA , you have a potential reach of 6.2 million people over the span of your ad campaign. That’s 4.5 million more than the LA times.

Digital ads ultimately save you money

Who doesn’t like saving money?  Every company keeps a hawk’s eye and a tight fist on their budget, so isn’t it time to update your marketing plan in order to help the folks out in accounting?  Think about it this way: would you throw down almost $25,000 for a billboard that’s only displayed for four weeks in a mid-sized market? Or take out a $13,000 4-day national ad in the Wall Street Journal or $6,275 for an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune? Or what about $1,500 for a 30-second television spot during local segments? Is it worth it? Maybe, but not necessarily.

Here’s a tCloud Solutions example: Just recently, we took out a Facebook ad to boost clicks to our website for 30 days. In that month, our ad received over 200,000 impressions and only spent $125. Remember how many people saw your ad via billboard per week in a medium-sized market? 55,000, on average, meaning 220,000 per month. That puts our digital ad right up there with that billboard ad, which is pretty incredible considering we spent $24,875 less than those billboard customers.

Your audience is online

 If you’re still not convinced that digital is the way to go in 2014, think of your target audience. Who are the recipients of your marketing messages? Chances are, your audience is on social media. Even if they’re not, they’re still using email and seeing your digital ads in Google search results.  And, once you connect with your customers online, your reach expands to their inner circles, causing a pleasant chain reaction of new customers and a boost in profits.

The bottom line: While having a strong digital presence is absolutely necessary for your marketing strategy, we’re not saying to completely forgo traditional methods. Just use them sparingly while making up for the rest online. Understand that traditional methods do have value, but digital advertising can match that.

If you’re not sure how to get started with digital marketing, let us know. We can help come up with a social media strategy that works for your company.

The Best (and Worst) Times to Update Your Social Networks

Hello digital astronauts,

Check out this helpful infographic we found on Fannit.com. Go ahead, print this out for your office or cubicle to serve as a guideline for the best times to update your social media for increased audience engagement.

Courtesy Fannit.com

Courtesy Fannit.com

Social Media Boot Camp: Deciding which account needs help

socialmediabootcamp new

All right, social media users, it’s time to get down to business. Welcome to tCloud Social Media Boot Camp, where inadequate social accounts are whipped into shape by our experts and molded into the best possible platform for your business.

In our first installment of the tCloud Social Media Boot Camp blog series, we’ll show you how to determine which of your social media sites need to shape up. After all, your social networks are meant to extend the voice of your brand to consumers and if your pages don’t even show up in search results, something needs to change.

So, how does one know which social network is under-performing? The answer lies within Google’s search algorithms.

According to HootSuite, one of the easiest ways to figure out which of your platforms isn’t up to snuff is by typing your name or business’ name into Google and taking note of where your social platforms rank.

Taking that into account, we did a Google search for tCloud Solutions, and this is what appeared on the first page:

google search resultsSo, using these listings as a basis for how our social sites are performing, we see that:

  1. Our LinkedIn profile has the highest search ranking, followed by our Twitter page, FourSquare and Facebook.
  2. We also have a Google + and YouTube account, but our Google profile isn’t shown until the second page (if you disregard the link under our main website entry) and our YouTube account is buried in the search results.
  3. This blog is also on the second page of Google search results.

What does this really mean?

While the exact algorithm is somewhat of a secret, we do know Google ranks search listings by a variety of criteria, the most common being:

  • Recently updated content
  • Keyword location on the site (SEO)
  • Hyperlinks to and from your website
  • How long the site has been in operation

Theoretically, social media sites that take these aspects into consideration will have a higher ranking. From our previous Google search, it’s safe to say our LinkedIn page and Twitter account are doing well. We post content on those sites nearly every day and make sure they have links to our main site as well as other social media sites. On the other end of the spectrum, our YouTube page is lost in the mix partly because we just created the account and don’t have any videos up just yet. It also has the lowest amount of traffic and no referral traffic to our main webpage, because we haven’t started publicizing it. Therefore, the account we’re checking into Boot Camp is YouTube.

Which one of your social media accounts is last on Google search? That site is boot camp material. Go ahead, take ’em to Boot Camp by leaving the URL in the comments.

Be sure to follow our weekly web series for tips on how to improve your Boot Camp social site so it moves on up in the digital world.

Which Social Network are You?


Let’s pretend for a moment that social networking sites had the ability to transform themselves into people. Which one would resemble you the most?

Our Social Media Specialist at tCloud Solutions came up with a fun, sharable quiz that detects your personality and pairs it with your ideal social network.

Go ahead, take a break from work and give it a try:



Businesses: It’s Time to Get a Social Strategy Plan B


By now, you have probably heard about Facebook’s plan to decrease how many of your business page’s updates post to your follower’s news feeds. If not…we’re sorry we had to break the news to you.

According to a ValleyWag report, a source says the social media giant is “in the process of slashing organic page reach down to 1 to 2 percent.” What does this mean for your business page? In short, you will need to “pay-to-play”. Consider this: if you have 1,000 fans, only 10 of them would see your post. If you only have 100 likes, only 1 fan is seeing your latest post. The only way to guarantee views and engagement is with paid advertisements.

No matter how large or small your business, the Great News Feed Depression will affect all company pages.

So, what’s happens next? You have a few options:

  1.  Pay for advertising through Facebook
  2.  Educate followers on the “Get Notifications” option
  3.  Come up with a social media Plan B…It’s time to start using other networks

Let’s pretend that paying for advertising is out of the question at the moment. If option #2 sounds like a good solution, you may wish to educate your followers as soon as possible before Facebook drops the hammer. Here’s how:


Use a screenshot similar to the one above to illustrate the “Get Notifications” option. This choice is found in a drop-down menu in the navigation bar on your business’ Facebook page. All followers need to do is select “Get Notifications” to receive your status updates. Encourage your customers to use this option by posting this graphic on Facebook, your website, blog or any network you can. (Go ahead, you can take our screenshot if you need.)

Tip: If your followers don’t see that red notification box over their globe icon, encourage them to check out their news feed’s left hand module. Facebook users have an option that says “Page Feed” with a little orange flag beside it. That is where all liked pages’ latest posts are. 

However, Facebook is conducting a business page layout redesign, so it is unclear if the “Get Notifications” button will even exist in the near future.

In that case, option #3 may be your best bet. In that situation, what should you do if Facebook is no longer a viable option for generating organic views and engagement with your brand? Here’s our tips:

  • Evaluate your strongest social networks: Besides Facebook, what other social sites are driving traffic to your website? Is your Twitter account thriving? Do you have thousands of subscribers on YouTube? Or maybe your LinkedIn profile is generating the highest click-through rate. Find out which sites are booming and use them to engage your target audience.
  • Build your own online community: Perhaps launching your own social network is the key to gathering your online audience and keeping them engaged. This could be a subsection of your website or if you have the resources, your company can have its own social platform built and customized to your specific needs.
  • Promote your presence on another up-and-coming social network:  There are literally hundreds of social media sites out there for your use. (Here’s a list of just a few of them) Analyze your target audience’s demographics and promote your message through other platforms.

What do you think of the new stipulations for business pages on Facebook? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

tCloud’s Take: Facebook Prepares to Launch Multi-Million Dollar Video Ads

Courtesy PR Web

Courtesy PR Web

Look out, mobile Facebook users, video advertisements are coming your way.

The situation: Within the next several months, Facebook says it will roll out 15-second video ads on mobile sites. Just like videos shared by friends or sponsored pages on your news feed, these premium ads will play automatically without sound and stop if you scroll past. However, if you tap on them, the screen expands and you can watch the full commercial with sound. (Here’s what they’ll look like.)

The price tag: If you’re a business owner thinking about possibly promoting your company through these video ads, get ready to dig deep into those pockets. Way deep. Facebook says the average price for premium video ads is anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million per day.

The result: While this sounds like an enticing way for profitable businesses to gain more exposure, there is a fear that the videos will be a turn-off to mobile internet users and cause backlash instead of a positive experience. However, many analysts don’t think so. In fact, they believe it will be great for Facebook’s stock.

Analyst Victor Anthony told MarketWatch he believes Facebook’s delay in video ads has been very strategic.

“Rollout was/is slow because Facebook wants to ensure that the user experience will not be disrupted,” Anthony said. “With this launch they are communicating that they now feel comfortable that the user experience will not be compromised.”

And, Facebook is planning on taking only the highest quality advertisements for its premium video ad program.

“To make sure Premium Video Ads are as good as other content people see in their News Feeds, we’re working with a company called Ace Metrix to help us review and assess how engaging the creative is for each ad — before it appears on Facebook,” said Facebook. “Ace Metrix will allow us to objectively measure the creative quality of the video in the Facebook environment, and highlight performance indicators for advertisers such as watchability, meaningfulness and emotional resonance. We’re taking this step in order to maintain high-quality ads on Facebook and help advertisers understand what’s working to maximize their return on investment.”

Here’s what we think: First of all, video advertising is not a new venture. Google’s been on the video ad train since 2006. Online viewers have watched promotional ads before streaming videos on YouTube and Hulu for years. However, what is new is the notion of video advertising through a widely-used social network like Facebook.

The fact is online video advertisements work. A 2010 Nielson study shows viewers had much greater brand and message recall and greater likability for online video ads as opposed to their traditional television counterparts.  Of course, the more interactive these video ads are, the better click-through and conversion rates for the represented company.

Katie Parr, Social Media Specialist here at tCloud Solutions, says she doesn’t believe these video ads will annoy Facebook users in the long run.

“I think at the beginning users won’t necessarily care for them, but they’ll adjust to the changes very quickly, just like they do for layout changes and other Facebook fixes,” she said. “As long as Facebook keeps the video ads to a minimum, which they are already planning on doing, I don’t think it’d be a problem at all.”

What do you think? We want to know. Leave your thoughts in the comments below. (Yes, that rhymed. We like to pretend we’re poets once in a while.)

How Your Digital Marketing Strategy is Like a Pulsar

Credit: David A. Aguilar / NASA / ESA

Credit: David A. Aguilar / NASA / ESA

As Astronauts of the Digital Universe, we’re constantly exploring new (and sometimes daunting) terrain, taking notes on our observations and using those notes to prepare  innovative marketing game plans for our clients. Sometimes, we come across interesting comparisons to our own amazing universe that are too cool not to share.

Take pulsars, for example. They’re easily one of the most intriguing stars in the galaxy. Pulsars are extremely dense, rapidly rotating stars that emit periodic beams of radiation into the universe. Some of these neuron stars spin several hundred times per second. Astronomers have noted one of the most powerful pulsars exists in the Crab Nebula (pictured above). The Crab Nebula Pulsar spins only about 30 times per second (which is relatively slow for pulsars), but emits gamma-ray beams that are a million times stronger than medical X-Ray machines.

Now, let’s pretend pulsars are like your company’s digital marketing strategy. You’ve got a lot going on: social media, content marketing in the form of blogs, YouTube videos or eBooks, online contests, email campaigns, and digital ad space.  Every time you post something online, it’s like a pulsar’s radiation beam sweeping across the universe. If your company releases a timely beam once in a while, it’s a really cool optical illusion (aka your fans and followers are poked and prodded just enough to result in intrigue). But if your strategy consists of rotating 1,328,971 times per second, you can bet your public will be turned off by your relentless social media posts (not to mention they’re probably shielding their eyes by now since they were staring at an out-of-control disco ball.)

No matter how intriguing your campaigns are, too many in a short span of time will get annoying very quickly.

So, how do you avoid spamming your customer base and stop sending out so much radiation that they cease to exist? (Yeah, that’s no fun.) We’ve gathered the following observations for your business to put into practice:

  • Create a digital marketing campaign calendar: Everything you do on the digital front should be thoroughly planned in advance. Using whatever type of calendar you prefer, write out the times you’ll be sending email campaigns, posting on social media and actively targeting users through digital advertising. Make sure it’s frequent enough to keep customers in the loop but not often enough that it will create negative emotions or bad feedback toward your brand. Balance the campaigns out so that it has even coverage throughout your platforms. Planning your content several months in advance is a great way to keep your digital marketing goals alive and well.
  • Schedule your social media posts: Most social media networks have an option for scheduling content for a later time. If the content is not incredibly newsworthy and doesn’t need to be sent out into the digital universe immediately, hold back and schedule the content for later. You can even set up your whole week’s content in one setting. Using a social media management system like HootSuite is also a big help when it comes to scheduling your social media posts across a variety of platforms.
  • Understand social media content timing: Not every time is the optimal moment to post on social media or promote your blog. Research which times have the most successful engagement rate depending on what network you’re using and put it into practice. (hint: it’s probably not the day and time you think).   

Bottom Line: While pulsars are fascinating, they’re also incredibly strange and potentially dangerous. So it is with digital marketing campaigns. Exercise caution when embarking on your latest strategy and understand that timing is everything.