I’m Guilty of Neglecting My Own Blog

My goodness, it’s been forever since I’ve created a blog post for my own website!

Do you ever find yourself neglecting your own digital assets like a website or social media?

You are so not alone!

The original intent of my business blog was to offer advice and helpful hints on all things marketing and social media. Occasionally there are some random things sprinkled throughout as well.

Go ahead and read through the older blog posts if you have some extra time on your hands. (I’m guessing you do, in light of the whole global pandemic we find ourselves navigating.)

My hope is to eventually add more blog posts to this website. I tend to focus on other things long before my own, though, so don’t be too surprised if you don’t hear from me via the business blog.

Instead, I’ll be working on client projects. It’s so much easier (and way more fun!) to help someone else out with their writing needs than to write for myself.

And, let’s be honest, I’ll be doing a whole bunch of procrastinating as well.

If you have any suggestions of business, marketing or writing topics that you think I should cover in a blog post be sure to let me know.

Until then, be well!

“Like, Tag & Share” Facebook Contests: Are they against Facebook’s rules?

The short answer: YES.

But first, some background.

For nearly as long as businesses have been on Facebook, there have been contests and giveaways. Perhaps you’ve seen them (yes, you have, unless you’ve been living under a rock). Typically a business page will run a contest or a giveaway and to be eligible one must like the post, tag a friend in the post and also share the post to their personal Facebook profile.

This happens all over Facebook, so you’d think it would be perfectly in line with Facebook’s policies, right?


Let’s take a look at Facebook’s policies, which you may or may not find as interesting as I do. If you pull up the policy pertaining to Facebook Page rules this will be a little easier. Once you have the document in sight go ahead and scroll down a bit to the section titled “Promotions on Pages, Groups and Events.” There are several details worth noting here, but today we’re just going to zero in on the paragraph heading called “Administration of a Promotion.”

I’m going to quote directly here for the sake of clarity. Facebook’s policy states:

“Promotions may be administered on Pages, Groups, Events, or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries”, and “tag your friends in this post to enter” are not permitted).”

First thing to note is that they do give you permission to run promotions on your page, group or event. So far, so good. The big thing that I want you to notice here is the next line. And the one after that.

Facebook explicitly states that asking people to share a post or tag a friend on a post in order to enter a contest is not allowed.

Let me repeat: your Facebook page is technically not allowed to make people tag someone or share your post to enter into your contest.

Yes, I added ‘technically’ in here for those of you who are paying attention. The reason being is that too many pages ignore this rule. You know this because you probably just saw about eight different posts that your friends shared this week alone about entering a contest. Or, even more annoyingly, perhaps your friends keep tagging you in a contest so they can become eligible to win something or other.

So if ‘everyone’s doing it,’ as they say, why isn’t Facebook cracking down?

That’s an excellent question, and one I don’t have the answer to. (What, do I look like Mark Zuckerberg to you?) A reasonable guess might include the fact that some of these businesses are small enough to fly under the radar. Or perhaps Facebook’s algorithm isn’t so great at detecting these kinds of policy violations right now. Or maybe Facebook just likes to be annoying. Anyone who has ever administered a Facebook page is likely rather familiar with random glitches (AKA things randomly not working and/or disappearing from time to time). As much as Facebook can be great for business, it can be just as annoying and irritating sometimes.

I don’t mean to be a killjoy here, but if your page has run contests that require people to tag anyone or share anything to enter…Please stop. I know that it seems like no one else is following the rules but there are a few of us sticklers that actually are. I can’t imagine Facebook wrote up this rule for no apparent reason so it stands to reason that at some point they will start cracking down on this behavior. And I would guess you don’t want your page or your ad account shut down, right?

Got questions about the contest rules? Send me an email: brittany@bvanderbillconsulting.com.

Let’s Talk About Instagram


I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog and there are many, many social media marketing related topics I could cover. (Facebook is now ranking us, the latest Facebook scandal, or how to keep up with Facebook news just to name a few.)

But I’m not going to talk about that today.

Today, I want to talk about Instagram. More specifically, let’s talk about those Instagrammers that use the follow/unfollow technique. They drive me crazy!

If you’re not that familiar with Instagram or this particular move, let me first explain. Instagram users can create personal or business profiles and rather than ‘liking’ or ‘friending’ someone as you would on Facebook, you can ‘follow’ other profiles on Instagram. It’s the same concept essentially, just different wording.

Now that you have that concept down, let’s move on to the shady practice mentioned above. Essentially, an Instagrammer who wants to grow his or her follower count will go around and follow hundreds of other profiles. How do they do this? By taking advantage of the natural tendency to follow someone back.

Think about it for a second. If someone decides to follow you on Instagram, you tend to give them a follow back, right? It’s only natural. But these people don’t continue to follow you. As soon as you follow them back, they unfollow you. But you don’t get a notification from Instagram about this so you won’t know when it happens.

I haven’t kept official count of this, but it seems that this is happening more and more often lately. I figured I’d write up a little post about it so that if you’re new to Instagram, you become aware of this annoying tactic. In my mind, it’s just plain rude. I tend to be rather suspicious of anyone I don’t know that follows me on Instagram these days. Especially if they seem to have a disproportionately high number of followers compared to accounts they actually follow.

For instance, I won’t name names, but a musician found one of the Instagram profiles I manage and followed it. Her profile had 30,000 and some followers while she only followed some 1,000 or so. This was highly suspicious to me so I made a point to check back in 24 hours. Sure enough, after I followed her back she unfollowed me.

*insert eye roll here*

Maybe it doesn’t bother other people so much but it certainly gets under my skin. So if you are new to Instagram, please consider this a polite PSA to avoid this tactic. Grow your follower count organically or run some ads if you must, but don’t resort to shady tactics like this. Remember that social media is about being social, not tricking people into following your profile just to get some absurdly high number of followers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you noticed this happening more and more frequently on Instagram? Does it bother you or do you just let it roll off your back? Drop a  comment below and tell me what you think!

Facebook Updates: Two Big Themes

Facebook updates

Ah, Facebook. The good-old social media standby network…or is it?

If you’ve used the app at all this year you’ve likely noticed some changes taking place. It’s actually been a bit of a whirlwind trying to keep up with all of the news releases and articles about Facebook. To help condense the updates and determine what they all point to, let’s take a look at an overview of what we’ve seen in recent months.

Engagement Baiting Crackdown
Technically, Facebook started cracking down on engagement baiting at the end of 2017, but this seemed to be the kick-off to a laundry list of platform updates.

‘Fixing’ Facebook
In early January, Facebook released its plan to start fixing Facebook. Among other things, the news release from the social media company announced its intentions to de-prioritize newsfeed reach for business pages and instead increase the amount of posts users see from people and groups.

Prioritizing Local News
A little later, Facebook announced its intention to show users more content from local news sources to create trust and further its attempt to make the app ‘healthier’ for its users.

Organic Reach Stats 
Jon Loomer reported on some analytics changes that Facebook made which seemed to show a big (…ger?) drop in organic reach. Interestingly enough, the update was to the stats about reach instead of any algorithm changes that would affect a page’s newsfeed placement.

No More Explore Feed
Last fall, Facebook announced it was testing a separate feed for pages, much to the panic of many businesses. As of March 1, Facebook is discontinuing the Explore feed.

Believe it or not, this list is an incredibly condensed version of the myriad of updates Facebook has been rolling out. Next up will be the addition of some paid promotion options with groups, according to Mari Smith.

When we take a look at the overarching themes of these changes, a couple of things stand out. First, Facebook is placing emphasis on connecting with other users instead of businesses. Second, Facebook is emphasizing groups in a huge way. This is something that’s immediately obvious when you pull up your personal newsfeed, as the majority of content is now coming from groups instead of pages or individual users.

While Facebook is still going strong, I would encourage businesses and nonprofits to experiment with two things. First, consider creating a group and linking it to your organization’s page. We won’t know if this emphasis on groups is long-term or not until Facebook tells us, but if it’s relevant to your organization it’s a good idea to try it out now while you’ll still receive a lift in organic reach.

Secondly, be sure to experiment with other social media sites if you haven’t done so already. Even without these big changes it’s a good idea to diversify and keep a pulse on what your target market is doing. If you’re going after a younger demographic for instance, then Facebook is not going to be your best option anyway. Even if you’re targeting baby boomers, it’s good to know what other social media sites that demographic is using.

What other updates have you read about or observed within Facebook? Have they made you reconsider your use of the platform or are you still holding steady?

Facebook Algorithm: 3 Things You Need to Know

Here it is, only February, and Facebook has really changed things up in the new year. It can be really difficult to make sense of it all, and then you add misinformation and scare tactics on top of it and it gets really murky.

I came across an article from Buffer this morning that does a really thorough job explaining Facebook’s newest algorithm shift. In addition to the algorithm’s top ‘ranking’ factors, the article goes on to explain some insights into Facebook groups and other helpful information.

Going forward, it’s very important to understand what Facebook is looking for and what kinds of things are good and not-so-good for getting reach within the newsfeed. First and foremost, Facebook is all about engagement. Yes it was always ‘supposed to’ be about engagement, but now they are on a mission to restrict the reach of pages that don’t have much engagement.

Most notably, Facebook will be taking into account the comments on your posts. Also, the algorithm shift will be ‘looking’ at whether or not your page replies to user comments and if there are ‘conversations’ happening. Read: don’t just throw a post out there and forget to check in to respond to your followers’ comments.

Comments are not the only thing that Facebook is looking for. They are also going to give priority to page posts that other Facebook users share. Sharing can be done privately through Messenger or it can be shared to a user’s timeline.

Some people may see this and decide to create a sort of ‘support group’ for Facebook. No, I don’t mean the kind that sits together in a circle and listens to each others’ problems. Some page owners may try to skirt this portion of the algorithm shift by organizing a handful (or so) of friends who agree to share posts from each others’ business pages.

This is a good thought at first glance, but I suspect Facebook has already thought of it. Facebook is also going to look at how much engagement the shared posts are getting. If a user shares your page’s post to his or her timeline and no one engages with it, that’s bad news for your post and potential reach.

Let’s say for example that you publish a post on your Facebook page this afternoon and line up 10 of your friends to share it to their own personal timelines. While shares are great for the newest algorithm, remember that Facebook will also look at how each share of your original post is performing. So if those 10 friends share the post and it’s not relevant to them or their friends, chances are the shared posts won’t get any engagement. That ends up reflecting back on your page thanks to the algorithm.

The third biggest algorithm factor is whether or not Facebook users react to your posts. Some of us might enjoy a post but not enough to share it or even comment on it. That leaves reactions, which is something the algorithm will put into play for pages now.

This is a lot to take in, but the main thing is that page admins need to be thinking about how their posts will resonate with their audience. The more something provides value or sparks a feeling, the more likely a person is to share, comment or react to it. This is what social media is all about: creating conversations and, yes, being social. That being said, Facebook is definitely moving forward with ‘cracking down’ on pages that don’t engage with their followers.

What questions or concerns do you have about this algorithm update?


How to Share Multiple Photos on Instagram

Instagram glyph logo

Have you seen your friends posting multiple photos at one time on Instagram? If you’re not quite sure how they managed that, keep reading to find out. (Hint: it’s really easy!)

First, head to your Instagram profile. Tap the “+” as shown below:




Next, make sure that “Library” is selected so you can access the photos you’ve taken with your phone:



Now, find the icon with multiple squares. It may be hard to see but it’s there:



Select up to 10 photos to upload by tapping on the ones you want. The circles will turn blue once you’ve selected a photo:



You’ll be able to apply filters to each photo selected. Or, you can tap each photo to individually edit it. (Side note: yep, I have lots of cat photos on my phone!)

After you’ve uploaded the photos and edited them, add your caption and hashtags and post as normal.

It is pretty easy to post multiple photos at one time. The hardest part can be finding the correct button since they’re not labeled with text.

Try it out and let me know how it went! You can also follow me on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes and random cat photos (only half joking!). My username is @bvanderbillconsulting. I’d love to connect with you!

Tagging Photos on Instagram

Instagram glyph logo

I provided a mini-training session to a business last week and they had some great questions about social media. One question in particular centered on the idea of tagging someone in an Instagram post and how that post shows up within Instagram. I figured this might be valuable information to share with all of you, too.

My client’s question essentially boiled down to who sees a tagged post on Instagram. In this situation, the business posted a photo and tagged someone in it. The business wanted to know if the tagged person’s followers would see this post in their own feeds.

It would make sense if this was the case, since Instagram is owned by Facebook.

However, that’s not actually what happens. To answer this question, we first need to look at whether the business’ Instagram profile is public or private. In this case, it is a public profile so anyone can see their posts. If it was set to private, only the business’ followers would see posts.

When this business tags someone in a post, the person tagged should receive a notification. (I say should because sometimes ‘bugs’ and glitches happen as we all know!) The photo then shows up in a special section on that person’s profile.

On the screenshot below, the circled area is where ‘tagged photos’ will be on an Instagram profile:


Instagram Tagged Photos

Instagram Tagged Photos

If this business tagged me in a post, it would show up under this section on my profile. So my followers can see the post but they’ll need to navigate to my profile to do so. The tagged post won’t automatically find its way into my followers’ feeds like it would on Facebook.

What Instagram questions do you have?

Big Facebook Changes Coming (Maybe?)

Were you on social media at all yesterday afternoon or evening? If you were, then you might have heard something about a big shift on Facebook up ahead.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced his plans to somehow ‘fix’ Facebook. This is an interesting form of New Year’s resolution if I’ve ever heard one, full of complications and dare I say it–oxymorons. You can read the article and form your own opinions on that though.

Today, I wanted to help get the word out to you about changes that will affect all of us. Notice I said ‘will’ and not ‘may’ there.

Back to the big shift I originally mentioned. Facebook has now announced its plan to ‘bring people closer together.’ Within this article, directly from the source itself, you’ll find lots of words. Are the meanings of those words clear? Not exactly.

Essentially, the upshot of this announcement is that brands are probably going to see a large(er) drop in reach because Facebook is really going to start prioritizing our newsfeeds for us to focus on interaction with people and not brands.


So many experienced people and businesses have already pushed out some helpful thoughts on this topic, from Social Media Today to Mari Smith to Jon Loomer and Tech Crunch, among numerous others. I find Jon Loomer’s article the most helpful as he breaks down the Facebook announcement snippet by snippet and tries to interpret it.

The article seems to indicate that if you have a business page on Facebook, get ready to be pushed to the bottom of the newsfeed. The curious thing about Facebook’s announcement though is the contradictions sprinkled throughout.

For instance, live video is mentioned more or less as a preferred tool that receives much more engagement. The entire announcement though is about ‘meaningful interactions’ between people and ‘making Facebook better’ so people spend less time on it. Here we have but one contradiction: if this change will make Facebook so amazing and better for us, why in the world would we spend less time on it?

I could go on about how weird and vague this most recent development is. However, that’s not helpful. Instead, what are some things you can do as a business owner or nonprofit running a Facebook page? While no one (outside of the Facebook executives, of course) has an answer for that just yet, here are some ideas for you:

  • Prioritize live videos. It may or may not help more people see your page, but it sounds like it Facebook is likely still favoring live videos at this point.
  • Create posts and content that starts discussions. This is kind of a core value of social media in a way. It’s more important than ever now with the crackdown on engagement baiting and this latest update. It seems that pages with lots of interaction (conversations) on Facebook will get preferential newsfeed treatment.
  • Ask your fans to prioritize your page. Get ahead of it now while you can. Ask your fans to tell Facebook that they’d like to see your page’s posts first in their newsfeeds. (Side note: if you want some screenshots and how-to help with how to do that, let me know in the comments.)
  • Pay to play. Yes, it’s a bit of a tired phrase but it’s becoming more and more relevant with Facebook. You need to be boosting posts and paying for ads in order to reach Facebook users. With these changes, it’s highly likely that ad costs will start to go up. So if you haven’t created ads before, do it now while costs are more normal so you can ‘practice’ with fewer dollars spent.

What else have you read about this? Leave any helpful insights you have here. I’d love to read them!

Facebook: Making Sure Your Prospects Find You (And Like What They See!)

It’s no secret that social media is a big part of our everyday lives. Facebook in particular seems to capture our attention like no other.

Making sure that your business or nonprofit has a presence on Facebook is important.  Equally important is that your organization’s Facebook presence is polished and offers your prospects the information they’re looking for.

According to research from Retail Dive, close to 67% of us research a business or product on the internet before purchasing. That number actually sounds a bit conservative to me, but even so this is a big number. The majority of people want to educate themselves on a product or service before they contact you or stop in to your business.

If a potential customer of yours is trying to find your business on Facebook and they can’t, it becomes more likely that he or she will move on to a competitor. If that same potential customer searches for a company like yours and finds you on Facebook, what will he or she see? Does your business have a polished, consistent presence with actively engaged followers? Or has Facebook become a backseat priority among the dozens of things your business needs to accomplish every day, creating a page that is unappealing thanks to zero engagement, outdated information and no recent posts?

I hope your Facebook page shines with consistent posting (something within the last week, ideally) and branded graphics with high quality photos and videos. If you find yourself reviewing your page (go ahead, I’ll wait…) and realizing that it could use some help, I’ve got you covered.

Whether you already have a page and just need some help ensuring you have the basics covered or if you’re in need of a brand new Facebook page, I’ve put together a list for you. This beginner’s checklist for Facebook offers some key points to help you create or update your page to make sure your potential customers find it and that they like what they find once they get there.

Remember that people do business with those that they know, like and trust. The more your page provides value to a potential customer, the more likely they are to keep engaging with your page. They’ll get to know and enjoy your brand through what you put on your Facebook page and eventually they may bring their business to you.

If you find that you’d like a little more help getting started with using Facebook or other social media sites, you might find a personalized training session helpful. Schedule your free consultation to find out more!

Engagement Baiting and Your Facebook Page

Facebook is officially going to start cracking down on pages that practice what’s known as “engagement baiting.”

If you’re not familiar with this term, it refers to posts that pages create that encourage people to like, comment, share or tag a friend for really no reason at all–other than to gain additional reach in the newsfeed. You’ve seen these several times, I’m sure, as they seem quite prevalent with some pages. Here are some generic examples:

“LIKE this post if you agree that pizza is the best food ever!! LOVE this post if you can’t live without pizza in your life!!”

“TAG a friend that you would share this ocean front bungalow with!”

“TAG a friend on this {really weird/disgusting/disturbing} video and don’t say anything!”

People find these somewhat amusing so they play along, apparently. Essentially pages using these types of posts are trying to ‘beat’ the Facebook algorithm by encouraging users to engage with the post. Interestingly enough, Facebook is rolling this change out over the course of a few weeks.

You may have been tempted to jump on this bandwagon and create posts like this, but consider this your PSA to avoid it! It’s hard enough to get any organic reach at all through Facebook these days and using engagement baiting tactics as part of your social media marketing strategy will make it worse. Facebook’s crackdown means that pages using this tactic will now be penalized with even further reduced reach for their page.

If you’re not in the practice of creating these types of posts, you really have nothing to worry about. In fact, it might just help clear up our personal newsfeeds, which is something I can appreciate! How about you?