Twitter can seem like an alien world to people who have never used it; 140 characters of plain text per tweet, so how can you get anything out of it that’s actually useful?
Well of course, it’s more than just plain text, with hashtags, hyperlinks, and an increasing choice of multimedia formats.
Embedded images were among the first supported media types, Twitter’s own Vine application adds the possibility of videos (albeit only six seconds long) and Audio Cards extend the media types to include streaming audio.
So how can you capitalise on the wealth of possibilities put forward by the microblogging platform?
Outreach is one of the key uses for Twitter, with a fundamentally public audience – more than on any other social network, it’s possible to reach Twitter users who do not actually follow you yet.
The benefit of this is simple: it maximises your potential audience and allows you to build your customer base by reaching people who might otherwise have never heard of your brand.
A potential downside is that you will need to invest quite a lot of time and energy into tweeting if your profile is going to look active and approachable to people who are unfamiliar with your company, but it should be worth it for the final payoff.
Focus your efforts by joining in with an active hashtag in your industry area, or your geographical area: good examples of both include #journorequest for PR and journalism professionals, and #NorthWestHour for firms based in the region.
Focus on developing a list of bloggers and journalists in your industry and monitor their requests and interact with them.
One of the best uses for Twitter is customer service – the ability to quickly respond to queries, and to acknowledge comments that wouldn’t ordinarily warrant a full reply.
It’s a platform on which people often ask the little things that can keep them interested in your brand, but which they would be unlikely to go to the trouble of contacting a Tech Support email address for.
Good examples of this include telecoms firms such as Virgin Media, whose account is almost solely used for customer support.
And within their recent tweets, a particularly fine example of how Twitter can allow you to tweak your tone of voice is a thread from a customer who opened his enquiry with: “What’s occurin’ gorgeous?”
Virgin Media’s response blamed his issue on their web page being “a little bit of a diva”, a great example of replying to the customer in their own terms, and of how the social aspects of Twitter can keep things light, even when people are experiencing problems.
Just be careful if you are taking this approach – some people will feel you are not taking them seriously enough, so be certain that you only adopt a light-hearted tone of voice to those customers who used one in their own enquiry.
Perhaps the best example of using Twitter for positive PR occurred on the day when Google unwittingly started displaying a parody of the bakery chain Greggs’ logo in search results.
The logo appeared in Google’s summary box of facts about Greggs on related search pages, and said the bakers had been “providing s**t to scum for over 70 years”.
Greggs responded in good humour, tweeting a photograph of their donuts to Google and adding: “Fix it and they’re yours!”
Soon after, another photograph followed, this time of the Google logo spelled out in sausage rolls, and a suggestion that Google might use it as their Doodle for the following day.
OK, so that may have been a rather audacious suggestion – but Greggs got near-universal positive feedback on the stunt, with Twitter user Claire Dauria calling it “the best pastry-based social media bants ever“.
The best example of a Twitter PR campaign that backfired is probably MasterCard’s #PricelessSurprises hashtag.
As a campaign itself – giving people the surprise of a lifetime – it was not badly conceived, but MasterCard famously tried to force journalists at the Brit Awards 2014 to use the hashtag, whether they wanted to or not.
The response was outrage from the journos and from Twitter users in general, and while the campaign definitely got the company’s brand name in the headlines, it was for the wrong reasons.
Be careful when using Twitter – or any social network – for PR, and remember that a little self-deprecation goes a long way online, whereas trying to force your brand on to people will always be met with hostility in return.
Building a brand on any platform can be a challenge, but on Twitter the expectations are a little different, and small businesses in particular can often gain a substantial following by allowing their personality to shine through – perhaps because they tend to be a little more modest than the big brands, and don’t make the same mistakes.
A good example of this is Alyssa Smith, an award-winning jeweller who has picked up several celebrity customers and is a regular tweeter.
With an approved charity range of Formula 1 jewellery and appearances in print and on Channel 4 News – not to mention gracing the back end of a bus as a poster girl for her university – Alyssa is a shining example of how Twitter can help transform an individual or small firm into a fully fledged brand.
She is friendly and approachable, replies regularly to all of her customers and brand advocates, and strikes just the right balance with tweets about new product launches and special offers.
Again, it’s not always easy to do this, so don’t assume that it is, but the massive public audience and easy access to celebrities and media outlets makes Twitter a great tool for the job.
You’ve heard that having a Facebook page is all the rage for business nowadays. You think that you should be part of the Facebook trend. You possibly use Facebook personally and see that it could help you gain new customers and communicate with existing ones. You even wonder whether you can use it to promote yourself to some of your competitors’ fans. So what should you do?
Setting up Your Own Page
Obviously before you can even think about using it to attract customers, new or those of your competitors, you need to build up a professional, attractive Facebook page yourself.
It is a relatively easy job to set up a Facebook business page, but there are a few clear steps that you need to follow.
Begin by clicking on the downwards facing triangle towards the right of the blue bar across the top of any Facebook screen. A list of options comes up; choose “Create Page”. Select the most appropriate of the following options:
- Local business or place
- Artist, band or public figure
- Company, organisation or institution
- Brand or product
- Cause or community
Fill in any relevant information you are asked for. Note that it is not possible to change your category without having to create a completely new page, so think carefully before you choose it. If there is any doubt at all, this might be a good time to look at your competitors’ pages. How have they classified their pages?
Fill in all the basic information and upload your main profile image (sized 180 x 180). As this is the image that appears beside all of your posts it should ideally be your logo. Also, think carefully about how you describe yourself in the About Me field. This is what will appear on the front page, and is what any casual visitor will see about you. Make it count. Again, look at your main competitor’s description, and try and produce something better than what they have written.
The next section looks at your Admin Panel, which will be an area you will work from regularly. One job to do here is to write an expanded About Me section for the fan who is interested enough to click on the shortened version on your front page.
It is time to check your opposition again. Generally, what is the first thing you will notice when you go to their site? It will probably be the cover photo that they drape across the upper section of their front page. You need to ensure that yours is equally as striking, or preferably more so. Remember that the measurement is 815 x 315 – get this right, otherwise you will be disappointed by the results.
The absolute key to your business Facebook page is to have regular engaging content. You need to ensure that somebody is given the task of regularly updating the page, and keeping conversations going. You can easily set up rights for different staff members in the Administration Pane.
You can create tabs with content. Again check how your opposition use their tabs. You want your visitors to have a good user experience, so it is often best to restrict yourself to the four tabs that remain visible without scrolling. If you were a British firm in the fast food industry, you might notice that the McDonald’s U.K. site uses far more than the four basic tabs, and have them listed in a somewhat eclectic order. The four main tabs, in order, are Timeline / About / Photos / Students. These are followed by More, which if you click on brings up McDonald’s Breakfast / House Rules / Likes / Locations / Videos / Search Jobs / Visit Us / McNuggets Saucy Challenge. Burger King, on the other hand, chooses to only have three items under their More tab, obviously relying on their customers navigating to the more visible tabs.
Make certain that you post regularly. Analyse what your readers seem to like and engage with. Do they like images? Do they like statistics? Do they click on particular types of links? You can find this information out by clicking on “View Insights” in your Admin Panel. From there you can monitor reach, engagement etc., and determine what works and what does not.
If you have any particularly important posts, maybe they are about a particular promotion or some key item of news about your business, you can make these posts stand out by clicking on the star at the top right of any post. This highlights the post horizontally across the entire page.
Targeting Your Competitors
So specifically, what can we do to target our competitors? There are a number of strategies, although many of these have had to change quite recently as Facebook has altered its terms and conditions, limiting the activities that it considers acceptable within its rules. They have cracked down hard on tracking add-ons recently, and it is now quite difficult to get detailed information about pages that are not your own.
Firstly you should analyse your competitor’s internet strengths and weaknesses. You can get basic statistics about a domain’s popularity on Facebook by entering the following url in your browser:
e.g. if you want to know statistics relating to McDonalds, you could enter:
This will bring up an XML file that will include the number of Facebook likes, shares and comments, relating to the particular domain. So, in the McDonalds.com example there are currently 2913 likes, 6800 shares and 4448 comments, but their McDonalds.co.uk site has only 17 likes, 102 shares and 2 comments.
You can find some more information by using http://graph.facebook.com/facebookname,
e.g. for McDonalds:
Some useful information you can learn here is their site ID number (which can be substituted for their name in the address bar), the category they have chosen for their website (have you chosen the same category?), their Facebook likes (a huge 32153757 in the case of mcdonalds.com), their username and a number of other statistics.
You can find some interesting information by going to https://www.facebook.com/competitorsname/likes, e.g. https://www.facebook.com/McDonaldsUK/likes tells you the number of likes on a day-by-day basis. It also tells you that McDonalds UK’s most engaged fans are Londoners aged from 18-24.
The next area to look at is what your competitors’ fans are writing on their Facebook wall. Go to their Timeline page, and scroll down the left sidebar until you come to the Posts to Page section. Click on that. You will now have a page of the most recent posts made by the visitors to their site.
Read these comments. What do their fans like about them? What can you do to emulate the things that they are doing successfully?
Just as importantly, what are these people complaining about? On the day I looked at the McDonalds UK page, there were fans complaining that most of the vouchers they were given were years out of date. Immediately you know of something to watch out for yourself. There were also many other complaints about poor service and even dishonesty by a particular branch. While there is obviously not any proven veracity as to the truth of some of the complaints, it is still a good guide as to public feelings about your competitor’s performance.
You can learn a lot from how your competitors respond to the complaints, either from the good techniques they use or the bad ones. Notably, the McDonalds technique was to not respond at all.
You can learn more information about your competitors’ Facebook pages (as well as interesting and useful statistics about your own page) by subscribing to Fanpage Karma. There is a 14 day free subscription option if you only want to use it once to get basic information. It can tell you what kind of posts attract fans and encourage engagement, e.g. do the fans react best to pictures, links, videos or offers etc. In the case of McDonalds you discover that they only post pictures. Fanpage Karma also shows you statistics about what days result in the best interactions. Clearly the most successful McDonalds posts are made on Fridays. This does suggest that if McDonalds was your competitor, you should be making Friday posts.
You can use the History and Benchmarking tab within Facebook Karma to see what kinds of posts have done well for your competitor. Maybe you could benefit from producing more posts like those with high engagement. While you are on that page you can see who the top influencers are, and you can look to see why they have been successful. At the time of writing the most successful food and beverages page is actually the Starbucks one. Make certain to record these successful competitors’ ID numbers, which you can use when targeting your Facebook advertising.
Targeting Your Facebook Advertising
One way that you can really target your competitors is by targeting your advertising towards the people who like your competitors’ pages. You can even design ads that focus on the problems that you have seen mentioned on your competitors’ pages. For example, a UK fast food restaurant, could make a point of advertising how they do not hand out dated vouchers.
When you set up your Facebook ad it is recommended that you use the Power Editor option. This gives you a number of choices to help you specifically target your ads. If you click on Ads, then Audience and scroll down you will find a section on Demographics. Within that you will find a section on Internet Behaviours and Categories. To target your competitors’ pages, search for them by name in the Interests section. So, for example our fast food restaurant would target their ads at people who list McDonalds as their interest. While you are at it, you may find that it might be a good idea to choose to target a Lookalike Audience for your existing fan base in the Audiences section.
If your competitor is too small to appear in the Interests field, you can at least target the same demographic. As McDonalds UK targets 18-24 year-old Londoners our fast food restaurant could also target the same group.
It is no longer easy to get specific lists of your competitors’ supporters. Facebook have made it clear that you breach their conditions if you try. There used to be quite a few applications that would strip out for you the I.D. codes of the people visiting your competitor’s Facebook pages. There is no longer an easy way to do this. However if you do your homework and follow the techniques I have outlined you should be able to focus on your competitors’ fans with your targeted advertising dollars and promotion, combined of course with high quality appropriate content on your own page.
January 6th, 2014.
The Daily Mail Thinks You’re a Dribbling Simpleton
“The Daily Mail is a worm-ridden sack of pus, sucking the life out of everything that’s beautiful about our world”
– reportedly the opening lines of The Dead Sea Scrolls. That said, they run one of the most successful websites on the internet.
Now I’m going to tell you how you can be loathsome and get 100,000,000 visitors to your site. I’ll also tell you how you can do it without being loathsome. That’s the kind of nice guy I am.
First, a quick note on ‘Virality’ and ‘Sharing’. ‘Viral Content’ is a term that can only be applied retrospectively. Nobody makes intrinsically ‘Viral’ things – it’s theoretically possible for anything to go viral provided it’s appealing and enough people share it. When I talk about ‘Sharing’, I mean exclusively the sharing that takes place on social media. Tweets, Retweets, Likes, Shares etc. The two concepts go hand in hand.
I’m a big fan of Jonah Berger, author of ‘Contagious’. Berger has scientifically tested different theories about virality and sharing to see what makes the best web content. He gives a selection of ideas. They are:
Social Currency – Make sure you’re supplying information that people will want to know.
Triggers – Make sure it’s something people are likely to be talking about.
Emotion – Make people emotional – this is really important (I’ll explain why later)
Practical Value – Make something useful
Public – Do everything you can to make it sharable
Stories – Tell a story. People love stories.
I will now go through and systematically address each of these points and explain how the Daily Mail uses them to great success.
People love to show off about things they’ve learnt. ‘Pub Ammo’ is the toe-curling cliché that seems to sum this phenomenon up neatly. If you make something that you think people will want to tell people then they’ll want to share it.
Take this example:
A cursory glance is enough to make you think we’ll all be riding around on ‘hoverboards’ next week, but a little critical thinking tells us that this would only apply to hoverboards that were 1mm in size. Take away the misleading opening question and this article could be quite interesting – and it certainly fills a knowledge gap (albeit not the one it advertises), plus 447 people shared the article
…presumably with this expression on their face:
You don’t have to be misleading with your own content. Just telling people something really, really interesting will be enough to ensure it gets shared around.
In creating content, I would normally advise you to see what people are talking about by going on Twitter or Reddit and trying to tap into that subject with your own slant. Giving a different perspective can be good. However, if you’re the Daily Mail, instead of adding to the discussion you can just make news up about anything you like.
Here is a selection of things deemed newsworthy by The Mail. I have provided notes on how each tapped into ‘Triggers’.
‘The Only Way is Pregnancy: Billy Faiers and boyfriend Greg are ‘expecting their first child’ in the summer’
(5 shares in the first 20 minutes. Not bad. I have no idea who these two people are, but based on the particularly rubbish pun I guess they’re reality TV stars. Obviously I’m not the target audience, so possibly they’re well-known in certain circles. The people who are interested in the breeding habits of television stars will be likely to share it).
‘What are THEY doing together? Justin Bieber takes Selena Gomez for a Segway ride around his neighbourhood’
(Obviously ‘Justin Bieber’ is a hot topic. I forecast that there is someone Googling ‘Justin Bieber’ somewhere in the world every second of every day. By running a non-story about ‘Justin Bieber’, The Mail ensures it will appear in the news results for ‘Justin Bieber’, increasing its clickthroughs and engagement. This article had 79 shares in an hour)
‘I would rather be alone with dignity’: ‘Relieved’ Jack Cockings opens up on Twitter following abrupt ‘trial separation’ from wife Melanie Sykes
(Only 4 shares for this one. Probably because nobody knows who Jack Cockings is. I’ve heard of Melanie Sykes, but she’s not the focus of the story, so this is quite unremarkable.)
‘Sam Faiers leaves home to cheers from family before being ‘hidden’ as she arrives at secret location ahead of CBB’
(Obviously the whole world will be tuning in for ‘CBB’ tonight. And readers will be pleased to learn that Sam Faiers (possibly a relation to the Billy Faiers above?) is a potential housemate. A reality TV star is going on a different reality TV show. This is the greatest thing to happen since The Flintstones met The Jetsons. For tapping into a ‘big new story’ (CBB) they’ve earned 34 shares).
You may think that these articles don’t have a particularly huge number of shares, but bearing in mind The Mail produces hundreds of new pages each day, these shares (and views) soon add up.
We all know that the Daily Mail’s articles usually tick one or more of the following boxes:
Inaccurate, insensitive, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-NHS, warmongering, scare-mongering, sensationalist, science-fearing.
That’s because they’re trying to make people emotional.
According to Jonah Berger, the best emotion for getting people to share things is ‘Awe’. If you create something awesome, people will be more willing to share it. Some people would incite ‘awe’ by cataloguing every sighting of Jesus’ face in everyday objects… but The Mail doesn’t care about awe. They’re targeting a different emotion (and one which I personally think would be more useful to target…) Anger.
Anger causes arousal and arousal causes activity. If you spend an hour on Facebook, you’ll see roughly 66,753 posts from your friends, outraged about some story or another.
Take this example:
The article is about a woman who had post-natal depression and committed suicide after seeking help for her mental illness. The article (written in the words of the woman’s husband) suggests that she was failed by the system because the hospital staff focussed on the breastfeeding issue and ignored the mental health issue.
Firstly, women aren’t admitted to hospital just because they can’t breastfeed. Maybe she had Mastitis and needed antibiotics, maybe the baby was losing weight and needed to be monitored. In any case, this probably wasn’t the focus of the hospital staff when treating her.
Secondly, breast feeding wasn’t the direct cause of her suicide. She still killed herself after she’d fed her baby with a bottle so although the breast feeding problem probably wasn’t helpful, it wasn’t the only cause.
Thirdly, hospital staff aren’t trained to treat mental health issues (it’s still a fairly new discipline). Even then, people aren’t admitted on mental health grounds unless they’ve attempted suicide before or have a solid plan to do so.
So this article is unscientific, inaccurate, insensitive, sensationalist, anti-NHS and misleading. But it was still a viral success.
People could have shared it for 4 reasons:
1) They applied basic critical thinking and were outraged that this type of ‘journalism’ exists.
2) They were angry that a woman was driven to suicide by a breast-feeding obsessed society.
3) They were angry at the mail for suggesting the breast feeding obsession is a bad thing.
4) They were depressed by the story (sadness is still an emotion, though not as arousing and therefore not as useful for sharing).
It doesn’t matter what made them emotional. They still got worked up and shared it, causing more people to read it and get worked up and share it.
And with every angry share, The Mail grows in strength.
(If you’re creating content for your business, a bit of controversy is ok but it’s probably better to stick to ‘awesome’ stuff)
Content that teaches people how to do something in a simple way is a success story in the making. Life Hacker has made its entire business model out of it, and there are thousands of similar tips and tricks doing the rounds all the time on social media.
The Daily Mail doesn’t really target this aspect too much (unless you find paparazzi shots useful), but occasionally they’ll offer something vaguely practical:
The article doesn’t answer the question, the ‘expert’ is a dietician who says ‘there is no quick-fix for weight loss’ and the rest of the article reads like a series of press releases from dieting products.
But you can see they were trying to be useful, and for their trouble the article got 226 shares.
If you were thinking about content for your company, you could keep it interesting and useful and summarise some kind of industry secret. That would be pretty valuable. The more useful, the more people will share it and promote it.
Making your content easily sharable is the key to getting it shared. If you can prompt people to talk about your company on Facebook or Twitter then you’re on the path to viral success.
Just think about The Daily Mail. If you’ve ever taken to Twitter or Facebook to complain about the latest ball of hate spouting out of the Daily Mail, then consider yourself a sucker.
Last year, Samantha Brick wrote an article claiming other women hate her for being beautiful.
She claimed that although she is heaped with gifts from men, she is admonished by jealous women. The article included lots of pictures of Brick. I don’t want to republish them here (I’d have to credit The Mail) so instead, I’ve done an artist’s impression of Samantha, complete with Rotten-Seafood Grimace.
Bearing in mind The Mail’s readership is 52% female, the formula of ‘piss off the most people’ seems to be in full swing. People took to Social Media in their thousands to complain. In the blink of a heavily mascaraed eye, ‘Samantha Brick’ was trending on Twitter and the firestorm of comments drove an untold amount of traffic to the Daily Mail site.
Digital success is fickle. While it’s likely 100% of the Tweets were chiding Brick, they turned out to be a tool of success. By complaining about her en masse, the Twitterers strengthened her platform – lifting her onto a pedestal and turning an unknown woman into a ‘celebrity’ overnight. Now we have to put up with her trending on Twitter every time she meets her controversial opinion deadline.
We enjoy stories.
I mean ‘we’ as a species. It’s possible other species also like stories. Of course, there’s the famous case of the bonobo which learned a rudimentary sign language. He was able to tell the zookeeper that the missing toucans could be found in the lion’s belly. Amazing.
I made that up, but I reckon you liked it. People like stories. See?
I’m afraid The Daily Mail’s stories aren’t quite as heartwarming as mine.
They’re ‘human interest’ I suppose. The breastfeeding example above is a beacon of story-telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. A hero (the woman who died). A villain (the NHS). And a moral (don’t obsess over breastfeeding?).
Other stories the Daily Mail has introduced to the literary cannon include these heart-warmers:
‘RAF veteran has clocked up a million miles over 73 years (and hasn’t had a single accident or prang)’
‘Baby-faced gang leader is banned from town centre unless he is with his mother after terrorising shoppers’
‘You’re the best dad ever’: Mairead Philpott’s sick letter to a vile father of 17 who killed six of their children in a house fire’
‘Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle: Dictator had him stripped naked, thrown into a cage and eaten alive by a pack of dogs’
These stories are so reductionist they can fit into one grammatically-questionable sentence, but that’s part of their beauty. You’re intrigued by them and you click on them to read more.
Then you get angry and share it.
Hopefully this article has helped you understand why The Daily Mail is so consistently horrible.
In the words of Pope Benedict: ‘I DID IT ALL FOR THE RETWEETS, BABY!’
If you want to emulate this kind of viral success, give us a ring and we’ll sort you out with a bespoke content marketing strategy.
P.s. If you don’t like anything I said, you should probably share this with everyone in your social circles and possibly write a blog post about me (but be sure to link back).
How we gained a client 1000 new fans in two weeks.
‘How can we increase our social following?’
It’s a question we get asked all the time.
There are a number of ways to boost your social profile, but the most efficient and effective is a targeted and well-publicised competition.
This is something we told our friends at The Turtle Mat Company when they approached us to help build their social reach. We sat down and developed a plan for a brief but effective competition – tying in with the launch of their new range of door mats and their promotional stall at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The prize was simple, but attractive to their target demographic: £100 in Gardening Vouchers, with runners up receiving a mat from their new range.
We wanted to make a big impact, so rather than relying on Facebook’s somewhat costly promotional posts and adverts, we developed an app using Offerpop – a really straightforward and comprehensive competition design service.
Entry to the competition required Liking the page; answering a simple question: ‘What’s your favourite flower that blossoms in May?’ and also included the option to leave an email address to sign up for more promotions and news.
In the run-up to the competition launching, we publicised the competition via email, Facebook and Twitter; then during the course of the competition we arranged for some paid-exposure through relevant social platforms.
The results were phenomenal:
– Turtle Mat’s Facebook fans boosted to over 1200 in the two week run of the competition
– 90% of people who Liked the page also supplied an email address for future contact.
– Since the competition was targeted, the responders were passionate and excited to be involved.
– Cross-promotion on Twitter led to a run-off increase in Twitter followers.
Overall the competition was a huge success, and gave a huge boost to Turtle Mat’s marketing power on Facebook.
Social competitions are a really effective way to generate a buzz around your product, engagement with your brand and (most importantly) give a natural increase to your marketing potential.
To talk to us about boosting your social profile, give us a call!
July 8th, 2013.
In response to the growing need to get creative in the link building world, our content team has been putting a lot more effort into developing Infographics as part of the outreach process.
The offer of a resource with great data and a huge visual impact is something that’s useful to both the bloggers we want to work with and their readership. Ultimately, it’s a more engaging method than standard Guest Posting.
We tested our theory with our friends at www.ppcgb.com, who specialise in parts and accessories for performance cars.
I reached out to www.autoblog.com, an AOL-affiliate in the Auto industry, and we worked up something that fit with both their editorial style, and the needs of PPCGB. At our end, we researched the facts and got the infographic made up. They then wrote the story and broke it as news.
The primary response was fantastic.
Facebook Shares: 329
Google+ +1s: 30
On-Page Comments: 61
These are great figures and it shows that infographics are exactly the sort of thing that make a big impact socially. The big benefit of social success is a boost in visitors to the page, meaning an increase in click-throughs and a generally stronger link.
The secondary response was where the real magic happened.
Dozens of pages ‘borrowed’ the infographic, and after a bit of nudging via email and Twitter, they all supplied proper author credits to PPCGB and ultimately contributed to a fantastic link profile.
More than that, high-authority domains from around the world found a use for the infographic, each focussing on a different aspect of the information (examples below). That’s one of the major benefits of dealing with infographics as a platform: as long as the information is laid out simply and is visually stimulating; it has universal appeal.
The Greek version of Autoblog:
‘Auto News’: A Russian car blog
‘Carplace’: A Portguese lifestyle website
‘Niconico’: A Japanese Pop Culture website
Overall, we’ve been able to prove the power of infographics, and undeniably, people love them.
Just like anything in the world of digital marketing, change is constant and there is always a need to think one step ahead. There’s been a lot of talk lately that the next updates to Google’s algorithms will factor in methods such as infographics, so we’re currently working on ways to drive traffic and links directly to our client’s sites.
We’re currently working on building resource-type static pages, which answer big industry questions. ‘Definitive Guides’ and ‘How tos’ as well as entertaining and engaging content which is purpose-built to make a big impact on social media.
We’re always looking to push the limits and create more engaging content to get people spending time with each brand, so get in touch to talk about a Content Marketing strategy to suit your brand.
It’s time to answer the age-old question: How do Travel Companies use Social Media?
Two questions arise first: How do they convince their audience to keep them in their networks, among their friends and family? And how do they convert Social Media users into customers?
Below is a review of some of the biggest names in one of the biggest international market places: The Travel Industry.
For uniformity and narrower scope, we’ll be looking at the UK arms of each company.
Let’s start with the big dog: Thomas Cook.
The Facebook stats for TC are more or less what we’d expect…
In fairness, the figures could be higher since Thomas Cook is one of the biggest travel agents in the UK. Let’s take a look at what they’re doing right (and wrong):
The typical post on Thomas Cook’s Facebook wall is one that encourages ‘Liking’ pictures.
Normally the idea users are encouraged to like is something that everyone inherently likes. In fact I daresay everybody on earth likes Relaxation and Saving Money.
Playing it safe: generating a big response. Also, check out the very subtle link to their website. Every post on their page is an advert, but you wouldn’t know it.
They also run a weekly competition to win: Nothing. They encourage users to guess the destination and share and like the picture. There’s no incentive, but it appears to work. In my opinion it’s the nice picture that helps. People love sharing pictures. If this had been a picture of a ruined village I doubt it would have generated the same level of response.
Interacting with Customers
The posts from other people on Thomas Cook’s page appear to almost exclusively be complaints from customers.
With the examples below I’m immediately struck by the bureaucratic nature of the responses. The Facebook page is the face of the company, and here it is fobbing off problems to other parts of the company. It would have served them better to say something conciliatory: ‘Sorry to hear that, let’s try to get it sorted’. These responses don’t help the customer or allay their dissatisfaction.
On the bright side, they do give informative answers to non-complaints, and ‘Claire’ seems to be willing to put her name to the posts.
Moving on to the next company, we have Intrepid Travel. A smaller company, focussed on ‘Adventure Holidays’ to exotic destinations.
Even though the company is smaller, we can see immediately that they have a great engagement with their audience.
This is a typical post:
They’re promoting the work of one of their fans, with everyone’s favourite sharable media: A Nice Photo. Even better, it’s a photo taken by one of their customers and Facebook fans. It’s a great way to generate a buzz within the community and it acts as a superb advert for a holiday to Nepal.
Another type of post serves a completely different purpose:
On this occasion they’re plugging another Social Media event. Again, this is an advert; but surprise-surprise they’ve used a cool picture to disguise it.
Noticing a trend yet? Here’s another example:
Advert in disguise. Very clever.
Interacting with Customers
Intrepid Travels have praise lumped on them as much as Thomas Cook receive complaints. Moreover, they engage with their customers as people rather than a faceless company:
Even though they’re plugging another part of their Social Profile, we can forgive it because they’re so friendly and encouraging. Plus the feature in question is a photo album of their customer’s travels. Croud-sourced content. Great stuff.
They’re also well informed and helpful:
Whilst the numbers are lower than the Facebook page, Interpid’s Twitter stats are nothing to be sniffed at:
Their Tweets are pretty much what you’d expect, along with some questionable #Hashtags.
Industry news along with links. And asking engaging and amusing questions:
Another Adventure Travel site of note is Wild Frontiers. An even smaller company with a significantly smaller Social Profile:
What’s the one thing we’ve learnt works?
With that in mind, it’s fairly easy to see where these guys are going wrong:
Sharing a link to your own site under a block of text (and the full link at that!) is not a good way to get people excited.
The next example is a great piece of industry news with a lot of chances for incredible pictures; and although they’ve tried to encourage involvement with a question, the question is rather niche and the post feels cluttered.
Interaction with Customers
On the plus side, they’re very informative in their responses to customer’s questions (although perhaps a little slow).
Even when fans are just keen to share their love of TV Documentaries staring Chris Tarrant, they give them the time of day and respond in kind.
WF’s Twitter standing is reasonably good compared with its Facebook:
The Twitter stream is very much focussed on audience interaction. Twitter is used to promote the blog (company news, industry news and all company projects etc.):
WF’s link with its blog is great to see. Not only does it promote the blog by getting the content into the social sphere; it also shows a conscious desire to engage with the audience.
Also, it never hurts to help your fans sing your praises:
And once again, back to the sure-fire winner… nice pictures!
Moving away from adventure holidays and into luxury travel: Next up on our list is Western and Oriental.
The Facebook statistics seem rather paltry for W&O, and taking a look at the typical wall posts, it’s easy to see why…
Although they’ve caught onto the trend of using stunning pictures, the accompanying text reads like a press release. They’ve even gone as far as keeping terms and conditions in the post, and using the pure URL. All this screams one thing.
They’ve also picked up on the trend of using regular features. The ‘Wonderful Offer of the Week’ isn’t particularly catchy, but once again they’re let down by a focus on stats rather than an appeal to emotion. Check out this link for more in the same genre.
Although they do get one thing right: combining nice pictures with regular features to get: ‘Picture of the Week’. This got a good response in comparison to the marketing posts:
Interaction with Customers
Having few fans means little need to react to their questions, but to their credit, on the one occasion someone did ask something they were very helpful:
Compared with their Facebook page, W&O have a great following on Twitter:
They use their Twitter presence to spread industry news (with out-of-place hashtags):
Although, almost counter-intuitively, the marketing material seems to generate more of a response than the stories about animals:
Although the cynic in me thinks Tom Browne works for W&O since he retweets nearly all of their posts…
Moving onto another slightly bigger travel agent, we have Sta Travel.
They have a good following and their posts generally generate a good response:
I like that the above example takes advantage of the dominance a picture has in a Facebook post. Yellow is eye-catching and its a very evocative image. The text is also both topical and carries a great incentive.
Equally posts that are purely promotional/marketing traps use incredible images and shortened URLs. The point is clear and the opportunity to engage is very easy.
And it’s always nice to see a company link its Social Media with its blog:
Engagement with Customers
STA have an exemplary customer relations attitude. Even when a customer offers a vague question such as the one below, they give a full comment with examples and research – and even drop in a bit of upselling completely naturally. This is the
best only way anyone should use Social Media as a sales tactic – dropped in almost as an afterthought.
Also to its credit, STA offered a Q&A with its online team where Facebook fans could ask anything they want about Thailand. The response was great, and even though STA didn’t answer every question, other members of the community were more than willing to help each other out. It made for a great foundation for an online travel group:
STA’s Twitter following (whilst not quite as big as it’s FB following) is still respectable:
By mentioning unconventional holiday activities, they’re able to inspire engagement and response:
It seems that even by acknowledging their own marketing methods, they’re able to use them to a decent effect:
And as ever, it’s great to give your fans a bigger platform to praise you from:
Overall, great customer engagement and a focus on more unique aspects of travel give STA a great social media presence.
And finally on our hitlist, we have Eastern travel specialists, Travelfish.
Travelfish are quite unique as all of their social media appears to be run predominantly by one man: the owner, Stuart McDonald. In any case, their Facebook stats are very good:
This post takes advantage of the ‘great picture’ phenomenon, as well as giving the appearance of a kind of travelogue or diary entry. It appears to have generated a good response whatever the reason:
Conversely, this very promotional product-based post did less well. I still thing it’s weird when people use full links. The full one seems overwhelming.
And also posts about industry news with stunning photos are used to generate a decent response (still with the full link though )
This is where the obvious flaws in having one person run an entire company’s Twitter becomes apparent…
Despite a decent following, the Tweets don’t seem to generate much of a response.
I think it’s because they’re largely idiosyncratic. The mini-blog style doesn’t lend itself to corporate social media:
Also giving off-brand reviews about other Social Media tools (which you use!) is probably a no-no:
The majority of the rest of the Tweets are conversations with fans about eastern travel. In this sense, the personal touch is a benefit as McDonald is clearly an expert in his field and loves talking about it. It does leave the rest of us feeling rather left out though:
As a sidenote, Travelfish is the only one of our subjects here that features a Facebook App as one of its social tools…
Unfortunately the ‘App’ is a still image which shows the date in Asia along with some bizzare travel related images. That’s it.
Overall it seems that the best posts in Social Media are ones that contain unique perspectives and nice pictures. However, this is totally down to each brand.
Ultimately, it’s important to stress that Social Media shouldn’t be used as a Marketing Tool, it should be used as a way to interact with your customers; and for them to be able to reach you easily.
Sewing the seeds with sharable engaging content means that you can use subtle advertising methods once your audience grows to a decent size.
The real challenge is coming up with a Social Media plan to suit your business.
April 9th, 2013.
I’m going to Paris in a few weeks. Should I turn to Google and review sites to find restaurants and places of interest to visit, or would I rather turn to more trusted sources, like my friends?
I’m going to prefer recommendations from my friends, of course. This is the genius of Facebook Graph Search: personalized results based on data collected from people your network. Google is aiming for this through Google Plus and Search Plus Your World, but the more personalized data Facebook has access to arguably makes it a better source for this kind of search.
Released this January, Graph Search initially made waves, with some calling it a direct competitor to Google. Graph Search’s future is still uncertain and for now it seems laughable to think Facebook will give Google a run for its money. But, in its current iteration Graph Search is pretty useful for helping potential customers find you (without them ever needing to leave Facebook).
How Graph Search Works
Users can search for information about friends, such as photos and interests, but they can also search for businesses.
For now, it looks like the biggest benefactors from Graph Search will be businesses with physical locations. But, I suspect Facebook will begin rolling out other search functions as time goes on.
You can search for businesses based on location.
You can also search for types of business that your friends have visited (a.k.a checked in to).
Results will show you which of your friends checked in where. You can also use the filters on the right to refine the results.
Preparing Your Page for Graph Search
Just like you add certain information to your website in order to be found in search engine results, you can increase your page’s visibility in Graph Search with a few optimization techniques.
1. Fill in Your About Page
Make sure the description in your About section is keyword rich and describes all of your service offerings. If you have a physical location, make sure to include an accurate address and store hours so people searching for businesses in your region can find you.
2. Customize Your Vanity URL
If you haven’t already done so, updated your page’s vanity URL with your business name and/or your business’ keywords.
3. Categorize Your Page
Check that your page is categorized properly. Place pages can have sub categories, so make sure to include any applicable subcategories, as well.
4. Claim Your Place Page
Anyone can create a Place for a business on Facebook (this happens automatically when someone checks in to a business that doesn’t have an existing Place listing). The good news is you can claim these Place listings and merge them with your Facebook page.
Search for your business through Graph Search and then claim any existing Places. Visit the Facebook Help Center for the instructions on claiming and merging pages.
You’ll also want to try to check in to your business on your mobile (while you are at or near your location) to find any other rogue Place pages. Check out how your Place listings appear on iPhone vs. Android phones, since results might vary in different mobile versions of Facebook.
5. Encourage Check Ins to Your Business
The more people are checking into your business, the better chance your page will show up high in the Graph Search results.
For example, when I searched for Indian restaurants in Paris, I was surprised to see the top results did not have a lot of Likes on their page, but instead a lot of check ins. It looks like offline popularity trumps online popularity in this instance…
Start encouraging check ins by offering discounts for checking in and putting up signage in your storefront to let customers know your business is active on Facebook.
6. Keep Your Page Active
Consistently sharing great content on your page will keep your fans engaged, which will help your page appear higher in Graph Search.
The fuss seems to have died down since its release, but Facebook has invested huge in building its own search engine. Expect Graph Search to become a more integral part of Facebook as its features are refined and users begin seeing its value. Businesses that prepare their pages now to rank well in Graph Search will be ahead of the curve if and when this becomes a popular way to search on the web.
Kerry Jones is a freelance writer, editor and blogger based in Tampa, FL. Her background is in online marketing, where she gained experience doing social media consulting and management for Fortune 500 companies. img credit
April 3rd, 2013.
Love it or hate it, the Daily Mail has always had the power to shock. With its daily obsessions over immigration and ‘human rights insanity’ to a determination to cover every tiny detail about the Royal family and celebrity stars, the paper has an almost equal share of critics and fans. Yet although this British national newspaper is not the biggest selling daily in the UK, never mind globally, it has been named as the biggest online news source in the world overtaking the New York Times (comScore, Feb 2012).
All the British national papers began their internet websites on a more or less equal footing in 2008. While the Times (in June 2010) decided to go down the route of paid subscription content, the Daily Mail and most of the other papers decided to monetise their websites through the use of paid advertising. The announced in June 2012 that they had become profitable for the first time.
However, the success of the newspaper’s online operations is set to continue growing. Guy Zitter, managing director of Mail Newspapers, told an industry conference in June that the advertising potential of the Mail Online was still “not even touching the sides”. Whilst advertising revenues are predicted to top £30m this year, two thirds of this still comes from the UK, whereas two third of the Mail Online’s audience lies elsewhere. – Four Media
For this strategy to work, they would have to be able to drive traffic to their websites in high volumes. Most of the newspapers translated their daily issues of the paper into online editions, using traditional journalism and headlines to create their websites. While this ensured that they kept their loyal readership, the websites were not able to maximize the attention of the search engines.
Setting up a Dedicated Web Operation to Write up News
The Daily Mail from the start set up a separate web operation. Their homepage is made up of hundreds of stories, each clamouring to be read. The headlines read as summaries of the story, but they are also anchor text, a link that when clicked will lead the reader to the story. The story pages themselves are chock full of pictures, diagrams, commentary, YouTube clips, in fact anything that is vaguely relevant to the story. The links are designed to keep you reading and following other stories of interest on the Mail Online website, in the process maximizing their advertising revenue.
One section of the site that is deliberately written for the online version and doesn’t feature anywhere near as heavily in the print version is the celebrity news section. This is a deliberate ploy to target keyword with high search volumes as well as developing a loyal online readership around these topics. The popularity of the celebrity content is shown when looking at the directories on the site with the highest search visibility, with TV and showbiz capturing a larger share of visibility than news.
There is a column of abbreviated stories, small pictures and anchor-linked headlines down the right hand side of every page. This public hunger for celebrity stories has driven trending articles upwards for the Mail Online and they are regularly updated. They will rewrite and republish stories in real-time if the interest is there.
The content is refreshed at a fast rate. The web team receive the articles from the journalistic team and tweak them to suit the online readership. Articles are also gathered from other news websites and rewritten. This enables the team to put together a large amount of news stories quickly, cheaply, and optimise them for the website and publish them. A frequent criticism of this tactic is that journalistic integrity is often compromised, facts aren’t checked as there isn’t time, and often articles are closely plagiarised from other sources.
Developing News for the US Audience
A large part of the Mail’s success is based on their growing US readership. Dedicated journalistic web teams were set up in Los Angeles and New York. The website has a link to its US edition across the top tabs of the homepage. The Mail’s strategy drives a high volume of web traffic to the website by offering popular stories. Most news websites advertising revenue is driven by page views and the Mail’s success in encouraging visitors to click more links is instrumental in becoming the most widely read news website online. The Mail Online aims at the English speaking world and there is no shortage of potential readers.
Successful SEO Strategy
SEO strategy has played a large part in the website’s popularity. The mini-article type headlines are long tail keywords, researched and utilised for their popularity in the search engines.
In-depth articles help to maximise long-tail search visits, and the incorporation of images, diagrams and rich media help to encourage other sites to cite them as a source to develop their link profile.
But the website’s most successful manipulation of the web involves social media. The Mail Online wants to be the news website that everyone is talking about and often the tactics involved could be considered as linkbait, that art of creating something controversial that provokes debate by manipulating emotion.
Samantha Brick – Successful Linkbait?
Samantha Brick, one of the Mail’s regular journalists wrote an article entitled ‘Why Do Women Hate Me because I’m Beautiful’ in April 2012. During the following 24 hours, the article trended on Twitter, over 200k Facebook likes and received 1.5 million comments, most of them uncomplimentary.
At the time she was one of the most talked about women in the world. The Mail Online received backlinks from trusted and relevant sources including other national newspapers, Twitter, and many different blogs which included the Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Gawker and Buzzfeed amongst others. Overall the article helped to generate more than 4,000 links to the site. There was also a follow-up article with Samantha Brick in The Independent and TV and magazine interviews which followed.
In SEO terms, this kind of exposure is pure gold and the Mail Online gained a lot of attention. However many of the commentators were concerned at how deliberately the furore was created and maintained.
The Rush to Publish – The Mail Online’s Public Mistake
This need to be constantly at the forefront of trending articles can turn sour as the Mail Online found out when it tried to publish the results of the Amanda Knox trial appeal in October 2011. Two versions of the appeal story had been written up. The wrong story was published which stated that the appeal had been turned down when it had in fact succeeded. The story was only published as fact for 90 seconds, but it had been noticed and the Press Complaints Commission upheld a complaint about it, citing concerns about the accuracy of the reporting.
Several large blogs picked-up on the mistake and the rest of the national press picked it up as a story. However even when they get it wrong, people are still talking about the Mail Online, discussing it on Twitter and posting the links.
Success At The Expense Of Journalistic Integrity?
The Mail Online’s success has been due in no small part to its ability to understand that it was important to differentiate between the newspaper and online news markets and to ensure that each was correctly targeted.
It tempts visitors to stay and click on two or three pieces with its anchor-linked teaser headlines and most articles are commented on. A quick check of the website today and the lead story has already collected 1099 comments; another story further down has 50 comments, yet another 531 comments. The Daily Mirror on the same day has its highest number of comments as 18 on one article; the Sun has a story with 50 comments.
The Mail has a knack of getting its readers to participate and that is one of the secrets of its success.
The Mail Online is the most successful of the British newspapers to translate to online readership, but it has adapted its techniques to achieve its goal. Coincidentally, the Times website makes more revenue from its subscription service, but it serves only a fraction of the readership of Mail Online.
February 14th, 2013.
Linkbait. The One True Love of the Content Makers.
That essential tool in the arsenal of online marketer, Linkbait is content designed to attract the attention of other web users by baiting them to link to it (see?).
Linkbait isn’t just ordinary content. Blog posts are easy; but making something that your industry will want to share and celebrate is a different ballgame entirely.
Linkbait can come from a stroke of genius or hours of planning, or both. As long as people look at it as either a resource for their industry or something novel and entertaining, there’s no reason it shouldn’t attract links from the right people.
More links means more traffic and better SEO!
So we know you’ve already made a killer piece of content. You’re just here to find out how to spread it around properly, right? Well fret no more, Ladies and Gentlemen. We present:
The Datadial Original ‘Guide to Content Appreciation’ Triangle.
Ok, Calm down. We know it looks overwhelmingly complicated, but let me explain exactly how it works:
LEVEL 0 – Creation:
The whole thing works on the basis that you already have a piece of original content that you think will attract attention from your peers in industry. Whether it’s a video explaining how Les Miserables is a great model for growing your start-up, or an infographic explaining the best way to seed Linkbait, as long as you think people will be able to use it; you’re on track.
Level 1 – Social Media:
This is the most basic type of seeding. It’s an essential step, but exposure will be limited to the size of your following. If you’re lucky, your content might be Shared, Retweeted or +1’d to a wider audience. It’s possible that you have 6 million followers on Twitter, but if you don’t it might be worth taking measures to grow your following. Social sharing is a self-fulfilling process – the more people share it, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chance of them sharing it.
Level 2 – Social News Sites:
This is a stage that requires a bit more work and skill. Sites like Newsvine, Digg and Reddit allow users to submit links and articles to be read and reviewed by their peers. These sites are community-powered and collaborative.
– Newsvine is more news-based and content is reviewed by site-users who can indicate good content by clicking the ‘Seed Newsvine’ option. The more people who seed it, the more it spreads.
– Digg is a little serious but reflects a community interested in alternative news and modern trends. Content is promoted by clicking the ‘Digg’ button and the more Diggs an article gets, the higher it climbs on the front page.
– Reddit has the potential to be the strongest tool in your Content Sharing arsenal. Reddit is, in essence a news/link/media sharing site which is comprised of niche special-interest Subreddits. There are Subreddits for pretty much anything you can think of, from /r/pokemon to /r/indiegaming. Finding the right Subreddits to seed your content is key, and if the community like it; you’ll reap the rewards.
My Top Tips for Submitting to Social News sites:
1) Think of a catchy title to draw people in and make it seem newsworthy. (‘New Study Shows Horses are Just Really Big Dogs’ is a lot catchier than ‘I read an article earlier about how horses are really big dogs and I thought I’d share it with you on here’).
2) Don’t offend the community. There’s a certain tribalism associated with community-based social sites and it would be a faux-pas to insult the people you are trying to impress. (‘Redditors Might Benefit from this Spell-Checking Plug-in’ works better than ‘Redditors Can’t Spell!’)
3) Don’t be too self-serving; for some reason people think it’s less authentic to promote your own work than to find something organically. (‘Cool Infographic about Seeding Linkbait’ works better than ‘I made this amazing article about Seeding Linkbait).
Level 3 – The Newsiest Blogs in Town:
These are the former Search Engine Contenders that for the most part have bowed out of the Search Wars to focus on other parts of user experience. They’ve become pinnacles of the online news world, and although they’re still somewhat community-focussed, they are edited. They now support a news format with a kind of blog/online magazine layout. Emailing the editors of relevant sections with your ideas could earn a link to your content and massively improve your exposure.
Level 4 – Industry Specialists:
If you’ve written a post on ‘Implementing Google Authorship to aid SEO’, you might consider contacting SEOMoz or other industry leaders to see if they’re interest in the resource you’ve created. One tweet from a well-followed industry leader is worth more than an email to everyone in your address book. If your specialism is music you might contact a blog such as Pitchfork or AllMusic; and if books are your forte, Waterstone’s are industry leaders. Specialism can extend into things as niche as genre, so don’t hesitate to hunt for the best blogs in your industry.
Level 5 – Actual News Sites:
If your content is really a revolutionary resource you might consider contacting the editors of international media and news sites. The Guardian, The Times or The Huffington Post could (if targeted properly) gain you worldwide exposure. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll just be wasting your time, but a carefully strategized approach could land you on the pages of the centres of global news reporting.
Level 6 – The BBC:
Only one step up from The Huffington Post, but perhaps a world apart. The BBC departs from the idea of community-based news reporting and presents itself as the leading resource for news. You can submit news stories to the BBC and its various subsections, but since they are keen to avoid any undue consideration in news reporting, the only way to get an acknowledgement from this avenue would probably be to create something that actively changes how people think about your industry.
Some Final Notes on the D.O.G.C.A.T.
Three factors that seem to change as you move up the ladder are cost, difficulty and exposure.
Cost is actually higher on level 1 than level 6. Using paid methods of promoting your material on Social Networks can be very useful. In fact, the clever clogs in charge of these outlets have been sure to make sure spending money is easy and will benefit you. However, as you move up the D.O.G.C.A.T., cost is no problem. You can’t buy your way onto the pages of reputable news sites, but truly strong content dressed up properly can be submitted for consideration for free.
If you’ve already got social media plug-ins installed, spreading your content on Level 1 is a cakewalk. You literally have to do nothing. Isn’t the internet amazing? That said, by relying on the automated service alone you probably won’t see the benefit. Pumping your content back into the mixer will ensure more people will have a chance to see it and click through. Level 2 requires only an idea of what that particular online community are looking for; but from Levels 3 to 6 it becomes much harder. The content must be of an incredibly high standard and it will help to have a point of contact in the business rather than emailing ‘email@example.com’.
Level 1 could go one way or the other in terms of exposure. On the one hand, if you run the social media for a multi-national corporation; you’ll probably have a big following and high exposure. If you’re a local fruit shop, you might find significantly less exposure. Level 2 can offer a high level of exposure if your submission proves possible; but as we’ve said, this requires a certain level of skill. It goes without saying that a lot of people read news websites, so Levels 3-6 will be guaranteed high-exposure.
We hope you find the D.O.G.C.A.T. as useful as it definitely is.
It will probably change the industry.
…BBC here we come.
Customers are selfish lovers. They want to receive a lot more than they want to give, but treat them right and they’ll stay with you forever.
Advertising, reputation and great offers have always been at the forefront of all marketing; but the world is changing. TV spots and billboards aren’t enough anymore.
In a digital age, where choice is encouraged and variety is celebrated; how do you keep your customers’ eyes from wandering? Let’s take a look at some key aspects of ensuring your brand stays strong online.
Make sure your web address is as simple as possible. Leave no room for error in spelling, reading or punctuation of your company’s web address.
Learn from the mistakes of French tree-surgeons ‘Les Bocages’: ‘www.lesbocages.com’.
And never be afraid to abbreviate to make the address more memorable and remove any room for error, as in Cancer Research UK: ‘www.cruk.org’.
Customers love a brand they can trust. Featuring endorsements on your page from other trusted online service providers can be a ringing thumbs-up in terms of brand appeal.
Authentication exists for both payment transfer services and any sensitive data entry services.
In any case, having an international corporation’s logo as a stamp-of-approval on your site can only help to improve your brand’s reputation in the eyes of your customers.
First impressions are everything in business. You wouldn’t want a customer to walk into your shop and be met with a messy, confusing or overwhelming store layout and the same should apply to your website. Matt (?) gives an excellent idea on how not to design your website right here at the Datadial blog. For an idea of a nice way to design a website, look to your own favourite websites. For me, the Reddit interface is massively simple and uncluttered; while Facebook seems to be in an eternal battle for usability, updating several times each year.
Customer Service (e-chat)
Customers like to believe you’re willing to help them whenever they might have a problem. Many online services offer a kind of helpline in the form of e-chat services. This would be especially useful in cases where technical support is likely to be required, but don’t overlook the benefit of offering this facility for things as simple as order tracking or site navigation. Simply offering a helping hand can be enough to encourage your customers to trust in your brand.
Take Rewards Online
We’re all familiar with that sly loyalty trick: coupon collecting. Collecting wrappers and tokens from sweets, drinks and cereal boxes is nothing new, but linking these items to exclusive online content will drive traffic to your website and revamp your presence on the web. Encouraging social media users to Tweet, Share, Like and Comment on your competitions will further increase involvement and exposure to a wider audience.
If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you 1,000,000,000,000,000 times: Content is King. In the big bad world of internet marketing, the only guaranteed way to get people to engage with your brand and thus build your brand’s reputation is to create fresh new content that is relevant to your target audience. If you’re offering the latest industry news; the best competitions and the most entertaining media, you’ll see a high amount of traffic and a big boost to your reputation.
In the same vein as content creation is viral marketing. Suddenly the greedy customers who only want to receive are paying you back with page views and backlinks. And they don’t even realise how much they’re helping! If you post a totally original super hilarious video on your site and it goes viral, you’ll see the page (and your site) grow in strength as interest grows.
Think of something like the not-even-slightly household name ‘BlendTec’. You’ve probably already forgotten the name, but you’ve definitely seen their viral marketing campaign. ‘Will It Blend?’
If videos aren’t your thing, you can take advantage of the spreadability of online content by sharing stories about your brand. Whether intentionally or not, Sainsbury’s were on everyone’s digital lips last year when they followed a 3 year-old girl’s advice to change ‘Tiger Bread’ to ‘Giraffe Bread’.
Whatever your brand, don’t look at Online Marketing as a challenge to overcome. Think of it as a tool to increase your exposure and improve your reach.
December 5th, 2012.
Aside from staggering wealth and undeserved attention, one of the things that I’ve always associated with The Royal Family is their strategic but reserved PR coverage.
I remember when the Queen Mother passed on. The news was broken by a headed-letter placed at the gates of the palace. 10-Years-On, the world has changed. In the age of Social Media and online press, would they still have delivered the statement in this way? I doubt it.
It would be a waste of paper.
Buckingham Palace is moving into the modern age, and I think that’s a step in the right direction.
Following the announcement at The D and D of C’s website that there is to be a Royal Baby, the whole world has gone Royal Baby crazy. For an idea of what the baby will look like, The Poke gives a pretty scientific model. For an idea about names, namethatroyalbaby.com is the place to go. As The Royal Baby still hasn’t developed a skeleton and is smaller than an apple, all we can be sure of is it will be a PR dream-come-true. So I thought I’d write a guide for Content Marketing that The Palace can use to promote the infant once it’s born.
…Other readers might also find it useful for their company’s Content Marketing Strategy.
There can be little doubt that content marketing should be a central focus of your digital marketing plan. It’s alleged that 19% of Internet Users now get their news from Social Media. I can attest to this: having spent most of yesterday avoiding social media platforms in case I saw spoilers for the Boardwalk Empire Season Finale, I only found out about the Royal Baby this morning when I was on Twitter researching coverage of the Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. But with 400 million Tweets being sent per day, and 1 Billion Facebookers scrolling through content all day long; how can you make the Royal Baby (or your product) get the attention you think it deserves.
SECTION 1: Competiting for Attention
As with any content production, you need to know your audience.
When it comes to Content Marketing, often it will pay dividends to build-your-own audience. Obviously the current market-share for people interested in the Royal Baby is lower than it could be. Create content that evokes people’s curiosity and encourages them to come back for more. A weekly feature called ‘Ask Royal Baby’ where Royal Baby answers Tweets on a YouTube Channel, or takes part in a Google+ Hangout would be ideal. Tweets featuring #AskRoyalBaby will stand out in the stream, and the Sharability of videos means you’ll see huge coverage, and a huge amount of attention.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: You might benefit from an ‘Ask an Expert’ style weekly blog that runs along the same lines.)
As well as being current with what you output, you need to be current in how you output. It’s no secret that the ease and simplicity of mobile internet has made the trials of turning on a computer a thing of the past. React to new releases in the digital consumer world before your competitors and you’re bound to see the benefits before them. You might consider releasing an App with minute-by-minute news and updates straight from Royal Baby central. As new technology reveals itself, don’t be afraid to take chances on new ideas. You never know – Royal Baby could be the first star of Holographic Video Blogs!
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Make sure you’re aware of growing interest in different areas of media consumption. A fairly basic App could be a really innovative way to interact with your customers, or distribute your Blog and Newsletter).
Section 2: Original Content
You are probably asking yourself ‘How Do I Remain Current AND Still Stay Original?’
Simply put, I would say the most efficient and effective way to combine these two things is to put new slants on established concepts. Make things that people will find entertaining or useful and, importantly, things people will want to share. These are all concepts you’ll be very familiar with, but for clarity and usefulness, here are all of them:
How-To – Accessible Application of Expertise
This could be anything from your typical ‘How to’ Video Tutorials (‘How to change Royal Baby’s Nappy’; ‘How to Dress Like Royal Baby’ etc.), to Un-Paid (or even Paid) Teleclasses such as ‘How to Prepare Royal Baby’s Dinner in 10 Easy Lessons’ or ‘Why Is Royal Baby Crying?: A Five Week Course’. People will visit your company’s page to turn their interest into expertise. The more variety of ‘How-Tos’ you offer, the more visitors you’ll attract.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Share the knowledge in your field of expertise. ‘How to Revamp Your Webpage’ or ‘5 Ways to Make Your Own Furniture’ would work equally well. And like I say, you can name your price if you don’t feel like giving your secrets away for free.)
Also: don’t underestimate the power of E-mails. You can offer E-mail guides which could be more cost effective and a lot simpler if your professional interest is more technical.
You already have regular news updates on your website, so why not offer a weekly or fortnightly specialist post. Much like SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday where SEO concepts are described by a professional using a White Board to illustrate their points; you could offer a an insight into Royal Baby’s lifestyle from the people who know him or her best. ‘Royal Family Friday’ would be an excellent platform to get visitors to your website. Short interviews with members of The Royal Family talking about Royal Baby are sure to bring in hits. Think how many people tune in for The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. Imagine how much traffic she could bring in each week just talking about Royal Baby’s antics. It’s an untapped gold mine.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Think what regular features would interest your audience. If you run a management blog, it could be worthwhile interviewing managers from different industries each week on ‘My Manager Monday’. If you run a Travel Agency, you could have reviews of different holidays from people who have just returned home in a weekly ‘Airport Arrivals’. The scope is huge, but as long as people will be interested and willing to share it, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try!
This is an incredibly straightforward and well-used format. It’s basically an entertaining list of things related to your company. It doesn’t even need to be 10! You might go for ‘The Top 10 Mushed Food Royal Baby Loves’ or ‘5 Toys Royal Baby Can’t Sleep Without’.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Come on… This is an easy one. Just make sure you’re relevant and interesting!)
Twitter Campaigns – Make Your Content Live in the Stream
The top thing to remember when using Twitter for a marketing campaign is that it should be 95% relationship building and only 5% selling. Twitter is predominantly a social platform. People want to see the latest thoughts from their friends and celebrity interests in their stream, so flagrant advertising sticks out like a sore thumb…
A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued on…
A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued onto a mouse’s back….
Ok, maybe that’s too much. The point is: it’s obvious and unwelcome. If you only tell your followers about Royal Baby merchandise all day, you’ll be doomed to fail as people don’t just want to be sold things. If you actively engage with your followers by replying to their tweets and sharing pictures and videos, you’ll probably find them much more susceptible to being sold Royal Baby calendars and car accessories.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. At the minimum, you could use the platform to promote news from your company and share content. If you are a reasonably well-established company with thousands of followers, you could start a Twitter Event. Stage a giveaway for the 1,000th retweet, or start a Hashtag idea like #ReplaceSongNamesWithCarParts or #CarPartFootballerNames. If it’s funny and accessible, people will be weighing in with their own ideas in no time, (but if it spreads too far you probably won’t get the recognition for creating it).
Compare whatever you’re writing about with a current news story
[See ‘Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!’ by Joe Shervell, or ‘What The Leveson Enquiry Can Teach Us about Tobacco Farming’ by nobody.]
Reproduce Advice You Gave a Client
If somebody phoned you this afternoon asking for your advice, they probably aren’t the only person who needs it. Turn a customer’s question into a ‘How-To’ (see above) or even a Video Q&A with the customer where all questions are asked and answered. This could be anything from ‘How Can I Join the Royal Baby Fanclub?’ to ‘Which University Will Royal Baby Attend? I Want My child to Marry Royalty’.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Judge the important problems your customers are brining to you and work on ways they can solve them by referring to your blog or online guides. Again, the more diverse the content, the wider the variety of visitors you’ll attract.
Never Underestimate the Power of Hard Copy
In the modern world, emails; messages; texts and tweets fly around our heads and across our field of vision faster than we could possibly process. It might be a refreshing and paradoxically novel idea to approach your audience with something fresh: hard copy letter or CDs or DVDs. You could send out hand-written letters to everyone citizen of Britain and the Countries of the former British Empire, signed with a poster-paint handprint by Royal Baby. This would be a massively personal way to reach every member of the target audience.
(If your product is not The Royal Baby: You could send out sales enquiries in hand-written letters, or send your Newsletter printed on card. This will instantly set you aside from everyone else in your industry and keep you at the forefront of the clients’ minds. Floppy Disks may stand out even more, but unless your client has been making a concerted effort to halt progress, they will only be useful as Coasters).
Section 3: Other Key Factors
Aside from the content itself, there are several theories worth bearing in mind.
Good Content = More Followers
Broadly speaking, the better the content, the more people will want to see more of it. These will be the subscribers; the followers; the digital friends; but crucially, the online customer base that is so essential for this type of marketing. The more people who are interested in Royal Baby, the easier it will be to tell them about Royal Baby.
Content Knows No Bounds
For the connected generation, everything is accessible on mobile. Whether it’s an article, picture or video; you can access it on your desktop, tablet, phone, TV or PS3, all at the same time! This means it’s never been easier to get the latest content from Royal Baby straight to the people you want to see it the most.
The More Natural, The Better the Results
The more your content fits into the platform you’re using, the better the engagement from the audience. ‘Sponsored Tweets’ look just like Regular Tweets (Except for the fact that they say ‘Sponsored Tweet’). To Johnny User, this is much more acceptable than the stapled-on banner ads we learned to ignore in 1997. It also puts the content directly in the stream, meaning even the most highly-trained content avoider has to give it a cursory glance. If you fill Royal Baby’s fans Timeline’s with pictures and Hilarious Demotivational Posters, you’ll find a much higher engagement than straight-up bit.ly links to RoyalBabyShop.Com.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Other People’s Success
Unfortunately, Royal Baby isn’t due to make an appearance until Spring 2013. This means he or she will be late for even the ‘Dead Horse Flogging’ phase of Gangnam Style. But you could recreate a timeless classic in the Sneezing Baby Panda video, with the Duchess of Cambridge nearly having a heart attack as Royal Baby sprays mucus everywhere. Or feature Royal Baby in a series of parody Old Spice adverts doing dangerous but awe-inspiring things like cliff-diving or riding a motorbike around the Large Hadron Collider.
Never overlook the importance of a Strategic Partnership with other brands. I’m sure Google will do some kind of logo to celebrate the baby being born. In fact, I’d put money on it. Other internet sensations Royal Baby could be involved with are:
– Twitter Feud with Nicki Minaj
– A Vice Documentary About Royal Baby
– Will It Blend?
Ok, I’m joking about the last one.
But there’s nothing wrong with partnerships. You’re judged by the company you keep, but if you can achieve extra exposure for your product then there’s no reason not to try it out.
Whether you’re promoting The Royal Baby, or a Digital Marketing Agency; original marketing that gets people talking and sharing is the way forward. Generate interest and you’ve made a step towards generating sales.
November 29th, 2012.
Every day we sign into Facebook, Twitter , Google+ and a plethora of other Social Media platforms. The content shared on these sites is limitless, and with new content being created and shared every day, the power of Social Media has never been stronger.
We are constantly told about the benefits of Social Media as an Online Marketing Strategy, but one question that I’ve been pondering is: What do the 700 million people who use these sites actually use them for?
I propose a three-pronged method of identifying social media users.
1) Those who seek to create new content for their online audience for a multitude of reasons and in a multitude of ways. (Creators)
2) Those who enjoy nothing more than engaging with online content and sharing it among their family, friends and professional peers. (Amplifiers)
3) Those of us who sign in just to see what our friends and family have been up to. (Voyeurs)
The spread of users across these three categories is far from even. As the following diagram comprehensively explains, the people responsible for creating new content are in a tiny minority, while most people are quite content to just observe what other people are creating.
So what type of user am I?
There is no easy answer to this question. I imagine most people fall under ‘a bit of each'; but here, I will give each User-Type a profile and you can see which you most identify with.
These are the people at the top of the content waterfall. People who focus on creating web content. Here are the different types:
Type 1: Raising Awareness/Expanding a Fan Base/Increasing Exposure
The creators with the most exposure are big brands with big followings. A company like Coca-Cola push new content all day every day. They want to keep people interested in their product and spread the good word. If people are sharing new pictures, competitions and media around Social Networks, it’s free promotion for the company and everyone’s a winner.
There’s obviously a sliding scale with the multi-nationals at one end and independent companies, artists, musicians and people trying to build a fan-base at the other end.
(If you’re on the digital marketing team of a big brand; an unsigned musician; or a celebrity, this is you).
Type 2: Staying Current/Inspiring Ideas/Informing
Other creators might be Bloggers or companies who offer online services. They spark discussion about topics and, as their content is shared in email or social networks, they build more of a following. New content is important for these people. Staying fresh and current in the SEO-driven world requires a focus on innovative ideas and compelling writing.
(If you’re a Blogger, SEO or Redditor, this is you)
Type 3: Have-a-Go Heroes
The final type of creator is anyone else who posts on any Social Media Platform. The people who Tweet about their breakfast; or Instagram pictures of the weather; or update Facebook after a successful bowel movement. The people who just want to share their lives with their contacts. Features such as ‘Checking-in’ and ‘Tagging’ on Facebook enable these users the opportunity to be as detailed as they could possibly be when creating new content. The more they tag, the bigger their audience becomes. Mobile technology means that essentially anyone with thumbs can be this type of creator.
(If you have an internet connection, this is probably you)
The Amplifiers of Social Media can be broken into similar sections, as such:
Type 1: Shameless Self-Promoters
This is the type of Amplifier who tries to get their own content as much attention as they can. For example, a Blog-Post writer at an internet marketing company might Tweet a link to his post for his followers to see. His Twitter account is linked to his Facebook page, so it will also post the link to Facebook. He might then post a link to the page on Reddit; Submit the page to Stumbleupon; +1 the page on Google+; Pin the page on Pinterest; e-mail the page to all of his friends; write a letter containing the URL to his Great Aunt; Spray paint the link under a railway bridge or just go door-to-door asking people to visit his page. If he’s lucky, his followers, friends and associates will give the post the same treatment; retweeting it and sharing it around their own online networks and this will get the post the recognition it deserves.
(If you are trying to increase exposure to your own content, this is you)
Type 2: Subject Gurus
These are the types of Amplifiers who are considered (by themselves at least) to be experts in their field of interest. They will follow anyone who shows an interest in their subject and retweet, comment and increase awareness of the content they view to be of a high standard. This could be @DogFoodCentral Retweeting your comment about the new biscuits you bought your Labrador, or it might be @MattCutts raising awareness of your worthwhile post about Google’s Interpretation of HTML Tags. In any case, these are people who have an online following interested in a particular subject. They acknowledge that responsibility by sharing the best content in that field.
(If you are an online expert on anything, this is you)
Type 3: Fankids
These are the people who share content from their favourite bands, celebrities or artists. There are pages and sites dedicated to sharing the content put out by pop-cultural icons from all walks of life. Many artists have modern-day Fan Clubs in the form of Fan Pages and Groups on Facebook. There are also a growing number of Twitter accounts dedicated to Retweeting people talking about the artist. For example the frankly confusing account dedicated to 2010’s 4th Place X-Factor Contestant, Cher Lloyd:
For an example of the hype that can be created by Fankids, look at a fairly innocuous Tweet from a young boy named Justin Bieber:
That was Retweeted by more people than could fill Wembley Stadium.
Take a moment to process that…
Now, I’ve got nothing against Justin Bieber. I’m sure he’s completely deserving of the attention he receives for quoting other people’s lyrics. But I’m sure if an 18 year old boy doing an Apprenticeship at a local City College had Tweeted the same sentiment, it might not have generated quite the same buzz…
Fankids share their love of artists to an alarming level of dedication, making them a huge part of the Amplification process.
(If you are obsessed with someone online, this is you)
Type 4: Keyboard Keensters
This applies to anyone else who interacts with online content. Casual Social Networkers who either want to get involved with the technology or just keep up with their friends. They will retweet @sportsquotesoffical or whatever sage advice is being handed out by @charliesheen that day. They will comment on each other’s photos with material that 5 years ago would have been confined to a text message or phone-call. They will like their friend’s status updates, share photos from their favourite singer’s pages; but still be fairly restricted to slightly extended group of people that they probably see on a day-to-day basis anyway.
(If you spend much of your time on Social Networking sites, but don’t like posting, this is you)
This is less easy to break into different segments since we are all guilty of it in some way. By Voyeurism I mean the idea of looking and not touching. Seeing but not interacting. The idea of voyeurism conjures up a lot of negative connotations, but I think it is exceedingly appropriate here– especially in an age where privacy is flouted just as much as it is protected. There’s something kind of perverse about how most of us use Social Media. Every day we log on and trawl through updates of people we probably wouldn’t even think about were it not for this fairly unnecessary level of connectivity.
I’m in the age bracket where people start to have children. I’m sure having a child is the most precious thing in the world, and I’m sure when I have children I’ll want to share it with everyone I know. But at the same time, I find it almost unsettling that I’m being exposed to an enormous number of such life events by people I barely know and may never physically meet again. We invite people who are essentially strangers to share in our successes and failures, knowing that they probably don’t care. We watch people’s lives go by in our Newsfeeds and learn more about them than we care to know; but in many cases we wouldn’t even say hello if we passed them in the street.
And we still log on every day to do the same.
Looking but not clicking.
…Welcome to digital voyeurism.
So Why Should I Care About This?
It’s important to recognise who will be using your content and what they will be using it for. If you want to get a killer video out there; or you want more people to spread your latest blog post you need to think of ways to turn Voyeurs into Amplifiers, and Amplifiers into Super-Amplifiers. You might offer a prize for the 1000th Retweet or comment. You might reward commenters by commenting back with feedback. People like to know their opinions are being heard, and the more links you build on that personal level, the more people will connect with your company and the more they’ll come back. Get visitors active, and then reward their activity.
As a planet, we’ve never been so connected. The next stage for online commerce is activating the potential to interact with all of their potential customers. Things like Google Authorship are a step away from online anonymity and a stronger sense of community.
Put the effort into engaging the visitors to your site and you’ll see the benefits in no time.