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Blowing the Filter Off Instagram: A November Breakfast Recap

November 19, 2015 - Posted by

Not all social media channels are the same. Facebook is still the giant, twitter is still the one that makes people ask “why?” and Instagram is the one everyone is trying to figure out because that’s where the younger generations are headed. At the November Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Instagram was the featured platform. Three marketers from three distinct organizations shared their tips on the platform, sharing their stories of how they started in the channel and what they’ve learned along the way.

Katy Zimmerman, the Social Media Coordinator for Bread & Butter concepts was up first. Zimmerman’s job is to get bodies into her restaurant concepts. To do this via the Instagram channel, she shared the 5 things she does when thinking about what she’s going to post on Instagram on behalf of her concepts.

  1. Re-imagine Product – or, more simply, play with food. Zimmerman deconstructs recipes, shows the ingredients in different ways and arranges food to catch the eye.Slide10
  2. Utilize Surroundings – pulling the restaurant’s atmosphere into photos. Bringing the ambiance of the restaurant into the photo inspires thoughts of dining with friends, not just consuming food.
  3. Don’t be afraid to stand on chairs (or tables!)- Creating a different angle for her photos gives potential guests a perspective they might not see for themselves while dining. A shot from above the table shows all food, while a typical consumer view might only be focused on the food in front of them.
  4. Bring in human elements – People connect better with the product when they can visualize themselves in the picture.Slide20
  5. Get Your Staff Involved – Gives guests another connection point when they visit the restaurant to see a person in real life who they have seen online.

Duane Hallock, a Marketing Strategist for the Red Cross presented as both an employee of Red Cross, but also talked about his personal use of Instagram. His two pieces of advice to begin: start somewhere and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Hallock’s first pictures of a coffee cup and taco bell condiment packets show how far he’s come, both from a composition and concept standpoint. He shared seven tips for consideration when using Instagram:

  1. Shoot lots of pictures Slide45
  2. Focus more on the art rather than the hardware - Hallock uses a small point and shoot camera and a free editing app called Snapseed.
  3. Avoid photo clichés like the plague – if you have seen it a million times already, don’t take it. Just…
  4. Try something different – for that same photo everyone else does, is there a different angle?
  5. Never compare yourself with other photographers – look to them for ideas and inspiration.
  6. Deliberately blend personal and professional - Hallock follows the guidelines set forth by the Red Cross because he knows he is always representing their brand, even when posting on his personal channels.
  7. Have fun: If it isn’t fun, don’t do it - This speaks more largely of any social channel in general, if you don’t WANT to be on the social channel, maybe you (or your brand) shouldn’t be.

The final presenter of the morning was Marianne Gjerstad of Barkley. Gjerstad began her portion of the talk discussing the “Why?” of Instagram. In a nutshell, it’s where the millennials (especially the younger ones) are. The platform is all about discovery and inspiration and reaches people differently than other platforms. For her clients, Gjerstad considers the following:

  1. Is the post discovery not disruption?
  2. Does it feel like part of the native user experience?
  3. Is it relevant and share-worthy?
  4. Is in consistent with the rest of the images shown? Gjerstad and team only use 3 filters for a brand
  5. Is there a strong focal point? Is it not too busy?
  6. Is it really different than the other channels and not just re-purposed? Gjerstad’s advice if content must be used across channels is to start with content for Instagram and then apply it to other channels. Copy on the Instagram channel is different, as is engagement.
  7. Are we engaging with purpose? Have to pay attention to the numbers and not creep on people. Think about the brand channel from a user perspective.
  8. Does it have subtle cues to drive action?
  9. Are hashtags being employed to enhance brand discovery? Gjerstad recommends no more than 5 hashtags and suggests only ones that are purposeful or trending.
  10. Will tagging the location increase engagement? Gjerstad says test it out.
  11. Does the caption tell a story? Caption content on Instagram can be longer and tell a story differently than other channels. If used to short captions, try longer ones.

Before Gjerstad concluded her portion of the talk, she explained a bit about paid Instagram. The biggest takeaway she noted is that there is no longer a minimum ad buy necessary to sponsor a post on Instagram. Through testing, Barkley also knows Instagram ads have an impact.Slide88

To conclude the event, the panel was asked a few different questions:
When asked about garnering a bigger following, Hallock advised posting Instagram content to other channels such as facebook and twitter. He did note when he pushes content to facebook, he puts hashtags in the first comment of his Instagram post instead of in the original caption because he doesn’t employ hashtags on facebook.

When it came to videos on Instagram, but Zimmerman and Gjerstad commented that they still use more still shots on Instagram than videos, but if videos are going to be used, they have to have an enticing first one to two seconds to be engaged with and have to take risks not seen in normal videos.

A question was also asked about whether to use polished images or rough images. While Gjerstad has a team of creative behind her ready to create the stylized images, her final note was on Instagram, the most successful images were the ones taken on the fly, on a phone.

Instagram is a different channel, with its own opportunities. Its differences are why it earns a different audience looking for something different.

*This blog post originally appeared on the AWG Marketing/Advertising blog. All slides were taken from the deck shared at the Social Media Club of Kansas City's November breakfast.

The 2nd Annual SMCKC AMPS Awards are coming

October 30, 2015 - Posted by

AMPS2016Register now and plan to join us February 18 for the 2nd Annual AMPS Awards. The annual AMPS Awards was created and is judged by fellow Social Media professionals to acknowledge excellence in Kansas City Social Media. Campaigns that ran between August 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015 are eligible for submission. AMPS Awards will be presented in the following categories broken down by industry (Agency, In house, Small Biz/Solo, Government/Financial or Regulated and Nonprofit/Cause-Related):

-      Multi-Channel, Integrated Campaign

-      Integration with an Offline Campaign

-      Facebook (Sole or Primary) Campaign

-      Twitter (Sole or Primary) Campaign

-      Email (Sole or Primary) Campaign

-      Visual - Instagram or YouTube (Sole or Primary) Campaign

-      Blog (Sole or Primary)

-      Event/Real Time Campaign

In addition, special recognition awards will be presented to the following:

-      Rookie of the Year

-      Volunteer of the Year

-      Trailblazer

-      Hat Tip

-      Most Bang for the Buck

-      Biggest Big Deal


From recognizing the best campaigns in KC to the most influential Social Media personalities, the AMPS Awards dinner will be all about celebrating our local impact in Social Media (and a few surprises too). Whether you submitted for an award or want to join in the party, we look forward to seeing you there as we spotlight the best of the best!

Follow #AMPSKC on Twitter now through February 18 to see the who’s who of Kansas City Social Media!

For tickets and tables - Register now

Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting SMCKC's AMPS awards exist to recognize Kansas City area companies, advertising agencies, and non-profit/government employees for their excellence in social media campaigns and marketing. The suggested list of sponsorship opportunities is below, but SMCKC prides itself on delivering custom approaches to achieve sponsor objectives while supporting our club events:

Event Title Sponsor - $5,000
The Title Sponsor will include branded logo use with all events, dedicated social media posts, recognition in all event signage, and the opportunity to have a custom portion of the AMPS program (2-5 minutes to present). Title sponsors will also be listed on all website and program material for the event.

Amplifier Sponsor - $1,000
Amplifier Sponsors will be mentioned in all printed and online materials and receive four free tickets.

Category Sponsor - $500
Category sponsors will announce the winner of their sponsored category, be mentioned in all printed and online materials, and receive 2 tickets to the event.

Retweeter Level Sponsor - $250
Retweeter Sponsors will be mentioned in all printed and online materials, and receive two tickets to the event.

What would you do: 4 social scenarios

October 27, 2015 - Posted by

Let's face it, social media is anything but typical. In fact, it's more than likely one of the only professions where anything can happen - and generally does more than a few times on a daily basis. We've put together a few scenarios in the infographic below, and would like to get your feedback. What would you do? Also, what are some of the situations you've experienced where you had to think fast to save the day?


Facebook update Thursday

October 8, 2015 - Posted by

Facebook Unveils 'Reactions,' Emoji Buttons That Go Beyond 'Like'

Following up on SMCKC communications team member Lauren Wells' blog post, Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Facebook is launching "a test of Reactions - a more expressive Like button."

The current concept includes a series of animated reactions to choose from when you tap and hold the Like button. They include the well-known thumbs up (Like), as well as Love, Haha, Yay, Wow, Sad, and Angry.

They will start testing Reactions in Ireland and Spain, before they bring the refined experience to everyone.

See the announcement here.

Facebook adding additional ways to interact beyond the “thumbs up”

September 30, 2015 - Posted by

What social and digital managers need to know

BELCHATOW POLAND - AUGUST 31 2014: Facebook logo printed on paper and stuck to the finger.

By Lauren Wells, @laurenwellsKC

You may have seen the headlines in mid-September about Facebook’s new “dislike” button after Mark Zuckerburg hosted an online Q&A session. His announcement caused quite the social media frenzy. Every headline said almost the exact same thing: “Facebook to add ‘Dislike’ button.”

The headlines themselves were so disruptive that after posting one of these stories on my own News Feed, a friend who works at Facebook commented on that post trying to clarify what it meant.

So here’s the truth. Don’t count on seeing any “dislike” button on your news feeds anytime soon.

Once you dig past the misleading headlines, you’ll find that Facebook is planning to release additional ways for users to show sentiment beyond a “Like.” Users have been requesting this for quite some time.

Raise your hand if you’ve felt awkward “liking” a post, not because it was necessarily good news, but because you wanted to acknowledge that you saw it and support it.

The iconic “thumbs up” just doesn’t work for every situation. It’s a very limited emotion and response.

To Zuckerberg’s point, a push button solution with additional sentiments around content is “surprisingly complicated.”

For now, it sounds like Facebook is testing options that allow you to show different feelings for situations when a “like” just doesn’t feel appropriate. For example, Facebook is seeking to provide a means to show support for a variety of situations, such as:

  • Afriend’s loved one passes away
  • Aa story about the Syrian refugee crisis
  • A story of mixed emotions from our local Great Plains SPCA about a deplorable puppy mill situation but included the rescue of 48 dogs

"It's important to give people more options than just 'like'" to help express empathy and sympathy, Zuckerberg said. “Not every moment is a good moment."

Facebook has long used its current interactions to intelligently guess what content is relevant to you and what you might be interested in. I’m guessing this won’t change that, but rather enhance it.

Don’t expect this to be like up/down voting you might see on Reddit or YouTube. Just because you don’t “like” something or you come across a sad post, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t want to see it. That’s where Facebook’s new interactions will be different.

It appears Facebook is trying to focus on more ways to express civil interactions - ways to express solidarity, support, sympathy etc. It is probablyunlikely there will be a focus on allowing users to “downgrade” certain content. Facebook won’t want to discourage users from sharing content as freely as they do now.

Zuckerberg says they are close to unveiling a new button or buttons. Facebook will begin testing soon and then roll out more widely.

So what does this mean for brands and those of us that manage the online presence? It may be a little too early to tell. However, just because we don’t know how it will affect the algorithm for Pages doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start preparing.

Here are some key things to keep in mind:

  • This may force you to enhance the quality of your content
  • These new interaction options should improve algorithms that deliver users and consumers content that is relevant to them
  • Customers will have more options to share feedback with your brand
  • You will likely have more at-a-glance feedback on the content subject you post about (opposed to having to sift through a Comments string)
  • In the meantime, focus on positive content you can put out - testimonials, magic moments, and success stories

We are interested to hear the perspective of fellow SMCKC members. How do you think this will affect brands? How do you think the algorithm might change? What impact do you think this might have on this political season? Please share your thoughts and comments via Twitter using #SMCKC.

About the author: Lauren Wells is the marketing and communications manager for Sporting Innovations and serves on the communications team for Social Media Club of Kansas City.

Ignition: Update

September 30, 2015 - Posted by

SMCKC Membership,

Many of you have followed along with the discussion of Ignition, an SMCKC event geared towards helping KC-area nonprofits develop complete social media campaigns using the great talent in our SMCKC community. This event should have happened last month, but was cancelled at the last minute.

I'd like to apologize to the membership and the chosen non-profits for canceling at the last minute. It was my opinion that we had insufficiently updated our chosen non-profits to the timeline for Ignition. Additionally, we had done a very poor job of recruiting creative and graphic design talent to make the social campaigns a reality. The combination of these factors would have resulted in a sub-standard product being delivered to our chosen non-profits.

After several meetings on how to improve the event and make sure that this doesn't happen again, we are now confidant we can move forward with a rescheduled date of Saturday November 14th, 2015. All of the originally chosen non-profits will be invited to join us and let KC's best in social help them develop campaigns to help their unique challenges.

We want to make Ignition the best event it can be. If you'd like to volunteer your skill in social media, click here to volunteer! (Note: We need a dramatically higher amount of creative and graphic design support... please pass this along to anyone who you think would be a good fit).

Any questions? Shoot me an email at

Kris Nielsen

President, SMCKC

AMPS is Coming

September 30, 2015 - Posted by


Last year we had the privilege of giving away dozens of awards to amazing members of our social media community. From in-house teams to agencies and even non-profits, we had the opportunity to recognize the great work in social media that is going on here in Kansas City.

We learned a lot from year one that I'm sure will make year two even better. Here are some updates on the 2016 AMPS:

Date: The Second Annual AMPS Awards will be held on February 18th, 2016 at 28 Event Space so mark your calendars!

Categories: We learned a lot from year one and have added some new categories (how'd we miss Twitter?!) along with removing some that didn't have many submissions. Reminder: Campaigns running between October 1st, 2014 and September 30th, 2015 are eligible. A full list of categories:

Category Who is Eligible
Rookie of the Year Individual
Multi-Channel Integrated Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Integration with an Offline Campaign Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Volunteer of the Year Individual
Hat Tip Award Individual or Team
Facebook (Sole or Primary) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Twitter (Sole or Primary) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Email (Sole or Primary) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Visual - IG/YouTube (Sole or Primary) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Blog (Sole or Primary) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Trailblazer Award Individual
Event or Real Time Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Most Bang for the Buck (ROI) Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government
Biggest Big Deal Agency, Brand, Nonprofit/Government

Look for more information and a submission process to come! Year two is going to be amazing!

Kris Nielsen

President, SMCKC

Hack and win prizes at Techweek KC Hackathon

September 3, 2015 - Posted by


Love to code stuff and want to win a bit of dough? There’s a new Hackathon in town this month, with a $2500 grand prize.

SMCKC member and email marketing sponsor emfluence is geeking out even harder than usual: They’re sponsoring the Techweek KC Hackathon Sept 19-20!


Techweek is a weeklong series of events, focused on shining a spotlight on technology and entrepreneurship. This year, they’re hosting events in several US cities and, of course, KC was one of them.

Alongside IBM and Cerner, emfluence will put their Marketing Platform API in the ring for teams to use during the 24-hour hackathon. The teams’ goals are to make the best app, as determined by a team of judges. They’ll determine the grand prize winner and a winner for each API.


Our pals at emfluence are going to sweet that pot even further by awarding a $1000 prize to the best use of their own API, judged by Dave, Jess and the emfluence crew.

The Hackathon is free to enter! Check out the details and prizes here.

emfluence also has some passes for the full week of events – Check out the full schedule here. Email for more info!

SMCKC Election Results

July 21, 2015 - Posted by

It is my privilege to announce that another round of SMCKC elections have been successfully completed. I am pleased to welcome the following individuals to their new roles on the SMCKC board.

Vice-President: Formerly the communications chair, Kate Favrow will help us keep our amazing trajectory as a club (as well as stepping in as President should I meet an untimely demise).

Secretary / Treasurer: Bridget Koan will help us keep finances in line and lend order to our regular meetings and proceedings.

Membership Chair: Maliha Khan wins the Membership Chair spot and will direct the future of programming and membership development for SMCKC.

Events Co-Chairs:

Mike Levine was the top vote for membership chair. Mike brings a rich experience in event planning from his work with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Joining Mike at Events will be Leah Godfrey, our exiting membership chair. Leah has brought an array of ideas to the development of the membership position and will continue to make sure our events are organized to maximize member enjoyment and education.

Communications Co-Chairs:

Marc Vasquez joins the SMCKC board as Communications Co-Chair. As the current social lead at UMB, Marc brings his extensive expertise to the table. Marc has served in leadership roles on other area marketing club boards as well.

Liza Perry was the most-voted runner up in each of the other above categories and has accepted the position of Communications Co-Chair. As social lead for Cerner, she also brings a wealth of information to the board.

Please join me in welcoming these new and returning board members!

I would also like to thank the other candidates who ran for positions. This is by far the highest caliber bunch of candidates we have ever slated for elections and I know each of you will continue to make a difference for the SMCKC in the future.

Here’s to another great year of #SMCKC!

Kris Nielsen

President, Social Media Club of Kansas City