March 16th, 2015.
The whole internet may have gone completely content crazy, but developing something great to share with your target market isn’t even half the battle when you’re serious about generating great engagement, squeaky clean links and enviable organic coverage with content marketing.
With the web swamped with headlines and ads all fighting to win a click, it’s not easy to put your content in a place where the right people are going to see it. If you’re struggling to achieve ROI in your content marketing strategy, it’s time to explore new techniques that will get your lovingly crafted content right under the cursors of carefully targeted readers.
Your new weapon of choice? Native advertising.
Native advertising in a nutshell
If you haven’t come across native advertising before, here’s how it works. A huge range of publishers from the Daily Mail and Twitter, to Spotify and Skype now give advertisers the opportunity to buy advertising space in clever locations on their site. Whether it’s a sponsored tweet or a prime position in the “MORE LIKE THIS” section under a relevant article, these sponsored spots are perfect for placing your content directly in front of a relevant and already engaged audience.
With a vast and diverse menu of platforms to advertise on, it’s possible to target extremely niche audiences, ensuring that your ad spend is going on the right people. This excellent infographic from triplelift will introduce you to the key opportunities that are out there.
Each one of these options has specific rules, prices, systems, analytics, audiences – you name it. Which is why it’s so helpful to have a good understanding of the native advertising landscape – and how it relates to your clients, their budgets and their target markets.
But, with a little experience, a small dose of trial and error and a soupcon of insight, native advertising can be a powerful, cost-effective way to win fantastic organic coverage and the sort of links that Google loves: free, no-follow, organic and from genuinely interested sources. With an average cost per click of £0.06p, this technique is a low-cost way to offer genuine value to your target audience, using a non-aggressive advertising format. In the right hands it’s a win-win-win.
Native is growing…
That’s why native advertising is growing – and growing fast. According to data from eMarketer:
• Back in 2012, the US was spending $1.4bn on native ads.
• In 2013 that rose to $2.4bn…
• …reaching $3.1bn in 2014.
• In 2015 native ad spending is predicted to rise a further 19.4% to $3.7bn.
Here are a few compelling facts and stats which go some way towards explaining native advertising’s meteoric rise:
• 32% of native ad viewers claimed they’d share sponsored content with a friend or family member. When asked about banner advertising shareability, just 19% would be willing to share.
• This company achieved an astonishing 8% CTR (Click Through Rate) and won 416,000 click throughs using native advertising
• In contrast, the average CTR for traditional display ads has steadily plummeted from 9% in 2000 to a mere 0.2% in 2012
• Browsers are 53% more likely to click on a native ad compared to a banner ad
• 81% of US marketers are actively seeking to increase brand visibility and engagement by harnessing native advertising
How to “go native”
If you’re considering incorporating native advertising into your SEO or content marketing campaign, this blog will give you a head start.
Over the past year I have run a number of native advertising experiments, identifying best practice and working to discover if there can be a positive correlation between native ads and quality shares and links. I’d like to take you though 4 campaigns I ran for 5 SMEs using 4 different networks – and share the valuable lessons I learned along the way…
• Experiment #1
Outbrain & The Lazy Hostess
With a minimum spend of just £6.00 and the opportunity to entirely self-manage campaigns, Outbrain felt like a natural place to start the experiment. From The Guardian to CNN Travel, the platform offers plenty of outlets and tonnes of tools for honing and targeting your campaign.
This campaign was developed to promote a free resource of 15 recipes from The Lazy Hostess, with the goal of winning big links and lots of shares. The result? Failure.
With an average cost per share of £5.80 and just one no-follow domain link achieved, this native advertising campaign simply flopped. But why would a great, free resource from an influential author not attract shares and links? The answer lies on the original landing page. Heavily promotional and clumsily designed, the destination which link-clickers found themselves on did not look or feel like the helpful, free resource they’d been promised.
• Experiment #2
Taboola & Two Little Fleas
Taboola is the go-to network for anyone attempting to reach a UK tabloid audience. With a fun video list of 20 crazy marriage proposals created to promote an online bingo, this platform was the ideal outlet for my next naive trial.
Learning from the hard lesson of The Lazy Hostess, I invested time in creating a non-promotional, non-branded landing page which served up exactly the content described and did not overtly advertise the brand until the bottom of the content. Throughout the page, the opportunity to like and share the content was immediately accessible and an option to embed the resource was offered underneath.
The results were great. 504 social shares at a cost per share of just £0.14p, juicy links at a cost per link of £5.00 and high quality exposure from The Huffington Post who published the content themselves.
• Experiment #3
Facebook & Two Little Fleas
Armed with a video list of ridiculous talk show topics (including “My fear of mustard and pickles is ruining my life”) I decided to try to leverage Facebook’s native advertising opportunities to gain exposure, shares and links for an online bingo portal.
Outreach was modest, but effective, achieving 96 shares and 4 links. However, the cost per share and cost per link were prohibitive at a not-so-peachy £70.00 per link. The lesson here? For small businesses with limited budgets, Facebook is not a great option.
• Experiment #4
Twitter & Entrepreneurial Client
Twitter, meanwhile, is a far more scalable, cost-effective option if you want to use a social media giant for native advertising. It’s run on a cost-per-engagement basis, which means that you’ll pay per click and per share. Twitter’s advertising options were recently only available to bigger brands, now the doors are open and it’s well worth exploring the opportunities the platform offers for highly targeted advertising via keywords or the people users follow.
Personally, I’d recommend the latter option, which is how I gained 17 links (£5.88 cost per link) and 204 shares (£0.08p cost per share) for a listicle of the 10 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read. By targeting the followers of the authors featured on the list, this piece of content enjoyed lots of great, organic coverage and shares, spreading the cost of direct, original RTs (21 at £4.76) to a whole other level.
Using Twitter for native advertising
On the back of the success of my Twitter campaign, I’d like to share a little bit of best practice to get you started on the platform…
• Target based on who users follow
You have two options for targeting here. Targeting by keyword and targeting by who users follow. Although SEO professionals are pretty much hard-wired to choose keyword-based options, the ‘following’ option seems to yield far more accurate results. The correct keywords can be tough to identify and can be used in all sorts of unrelated contexts. Looking at who follows who will give you a far clearer picture of your targeted audience, their likes, dislikes and preferences.
• Avoid @ & #
It’s natural to try to make your Tweets as interactive as possible, however, when you’re paying a cost per engagement, the only thing you want users to click on is the link to your content, otherwise you’re just throwing your spend away!
• Embrace Twitter cards
If you’re not making full use of Twitter cards, you should be. These recent developments allow you to include lots of lovely rich media which ensures you take up a healthy slice of Twitter feeds, capturing your audience’s full attention. They’re pretty similar to open graph tags, but you’ll need to get Twitter approval before you use them. Well worth the effort, though.
Looking the part
If there’s one thing you need to know about native advertising, it’s that your content doesn’t need to be mind-blowing. Instead, it needs to be packaged correctly. Amazing content which looks heavily promotional and feels unintuitive to explore will not give you the exposure you need. Instead, focus on decent content which looks interesting and doesn’t send visitors running for the hills with aggressive promotions.
In best practice terms this boils down to:
• Creating a bold, visually interesting microsite for your content
• Avoiding heavy branding (no big logos, no telephone numbers at the top, etc.)
• Making content as readable as possible with plenty of multimedia, short paragraphs and eye-catching sub-headings
• Including lots of opportunities for sharing
• Providing options to tweet images and quotes
– Image plugin
– Quote plugin
• Including embed codes at the bottom
“How One Phenomenal Headline Grabbed Everyone’s Attention”
But before your audience reach your perfectly presented content, you need to grab their attention. That’s where your headline comes in. It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of a great headline. A good one could help your content go viral, a bad one will leave your content languishing in obscurity.
Look to websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy for inspiration. Upworthy believe headlines are so important that they regularly A/B test 25 variations before choosing the ultimate version to run with. Here’s what Upworthy have to say on the matter: “You can have the best piece of content and make the best point ever. But if no one looks at it, the article is a waste. A good headline can be the difference between 1,000 people and 1,000,000 people reading something.”
So how can you craft headlines that make a difference to your native advertising campaign?
• Pose a question
How? Why? What? Where? Questions pique curiosity and offer something readers really want: answers.
• Use a number
Studies regularly demonstrate that headlines which include numbers rack up more clicks
• It’s all about “You”
Make it personal, grab attention and start a relationship with the reader by involving them in your headline. e.g. 17 Techniques Which Will Turn You Into a Native Advertising God
• Test, test, test!
Most importantly, use data to discover which headlines work, and which don’t. A/B testing is a crucial part of this – and it doesn’t need to be complicated. For $99, the AppSumo plugin will give you the power to easily test multiple headlines.
The take home
And that’s a wrap. I hope you’ve picked up some useful pointers from my successes and learned some helpful lessons from my less fruitful forays into native advertising.
Done well, native advertising is a powerful, cost-effective way to generate good organic exposure for your content. It’s scalable and therefore ideal for smaller businesses, and it can give a low-cost boost to your original SEO and content marketing strategies. If you are going to give this technique a go, here are my parting words of wisdom:
• Know your publishers
Take time to get to grips with a range of platforms which publish advertising on a broad range of websites. The better you understand the audiences they can reach, and the tools available, the more effective your native advertising will be.
• Be scientific about headlines
This is the first glimpse readers will have of your content. Your headline will either inspire a click or get overlooked. That’s why it’s essential to craft the most clickable possible headline. Use the headline writing best practice outlined above and make sure you A/B test as rigorously as you can to give your campaign the best chance of web domination.
• Look the part
Your content doesn’t need to be Nobel prize-winning, but it does need to serve up what your original ad offered, make visitors feel comfortable and grab their attention all at once. If you can tick all these boxes you’ll see much more value from your native advertising campaign.
• Encourage sharing
From using Open Graph formats to including embed codes beneath your content; give visitors absolutely every opportunity to share your content, without bombarding them. It’s a fine line, but keep your buttons available yet unintrusive and you’ll enjoy better exposure.
• Measure your success
How do you know how far you’ve come if you have no idea where you’ve started? It’s really important to measure your campaign to analyse the performance of your native advertising. Make sure you look at factors like bounce rate, time on page and goals.
Above all, set yourself clear click per link (CPL) and click per share (CPS) targets and look closely at your results. This data provides valuable insight into what you’re doing right and, more importantly, where you’re going wrong.
Pete Campbell is Director of Kaizen SEO.
You can also hassle him on Twitter @PeteCampbell
December 7th, 2014.
Social media is a truly unique platform for businesses. With social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you are able to form much stronger relationships with your customers and potential customers. You are able to interact and engage with them, in a way that simply wasn’t possible before. According to statistics, 74% of consumers say that social media influences their purchasing decisions, making sites like Facebook an invaluable tool for businesses.
If you use social media sites the right way, you will increase your company’s visibility, further increase brand awareness, and even increase your conversion rates. When social media is done wrong, however, it can have a negative impact on your business. Through mediocre posts, ill-timed tweets and poor social media management, companies can end up ruining their reputation. There are certain things that you simply don’t do on social media sites, if you don’t want to be known as “that annoying company”.
Mix Personal and Professional Accounts
Putting photos of you and your family on holiday next to photos of your products looks very unprofessional. Posting what you ate for lunch or your weekend plans is also unprofessional. Those types of postings are fine for your personal social media profiles, but not for your business. Keep your personal and your professional social media profiles separate, and you’ll increase your company’s credibility.
Having an opinion on a matter is fine, but sharing that opinion on social media often isn’t. Always be careful when it comes to your opinion. Oversharing can have a very negative impact on your business and it can ruin its reputation. So next time you are writing a post, ask yourself whether this post is relevant or useful to your readers or whether you are just using social media as a platform for your opinions. If it’s the latter, don’t post it.
Get into Arguments
People have always complained, even before the Internet. However, the Internet is making it easier than ever for people to express their views and opinions on everything, from TV shows to services. On your social media profiles, you will find negative comments. If you want to maintain your reputation, and build a strong brand, you need to deal with these comments in the right way.
If someone has a legitimate complaint about your company, do not ignore it and definitely don’t delete it. Instead, reply to their post over social media, so that everyone else can see that you deal with customer issues professionally and efficiently. In your response, tell the customer that you would be happy to discuss the issue and that you will send them an email address or a phone number in a private message, where they can contact you about their issue.
Sometimes, people online, often known as trolls, will simply leave negative remarks that may have nothing to do with your business, just for the sake of it. In this situation, simply ignore it. Never get into an argument with someone over social media, as it looks unprofessional, and it certainly won’t create a good image of your brand. The last thing you want your customers to see when they first visit your company’s Facebook page is an argument between you and a customer.
Ignore or Capitalise on Current Events
Keeping up to date with current events is important. You could accidently post something offensive, without realizing it and your business appear extremely tactless. Also, do not try to capitalise on current events. For example, during the Arab Spring uprising, Kenneth Cole, a designer, used the hashtag circulating for the incident, which was #Cairo in a tweet to advertise his spring collection. The tweet, which said, “millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is available online”, was incredibly tactless and disrespectful. The tweet damaged his reputation.
Posting sporadically on your social media profiles is a guaranteed way to turn off consumers. If a person visits your Facebook page, for example, and sees that you haven’t posted anything for a month, they will start to wonder if your business is legitimate. They will wonder whether your company is still active too. If you want your business to be an authority it its field and increase its visibility, then you must be posting at least three times per week on your social media profiles.
Consistency isn’t just important for the frequency of your posts, but also for the personality and the voice that you use in your posts. Your company should have its own voice and personality. If your company is laid back and casual, then your tweets and Facebook posts should reflect this. Make sure that all of your profiles, posts and tweets have the same personality, tone and voice. Don’t post a formal tweet followed by a casual one, or you’ll simply confuse your customers. Your social media profiles should provide your customers with a strong sense of your brand’s personality and values.
Post too Much
Filling up someone’s Twitter feed with inane tweets will only annoy your potential customers. People don’t need updates on Facebook or Twitter every ten minutes. Posting too much is a mistake that companies often make. They feel that in order to target potential customers and increase their visibility, they must always be posting. Ultimately, customers don’t want, or need, constant updates on your company.
Use your Profiles just to Advertise
It’s true that social media profiles are an effective tool for businesses. They can improve customer relations, make your company seem more credible and help you to attract and retain more customers. However, if you want your social media profiles to achieve the results you want, you must avoid over-advertising. Using your Facebook, Twitter or other social media profiles just to advertise your products or services is a bad idea. Instead, your social media posts should be useful, valuable and relevant to your potential customers. Use your profile to link to your company’s blog post, to share tips and to share links to content that your potential customers may find useful.
72% of people who use the internet are active on social media sites, making social media a highly effective platform for businesses. If you want to utilise social media to boost conversion rate, and improve customer relations, then don’t be that annoying company on Facebook or Twitter. Make sure that you avoid doing things that will simply annoy your customers. Instead, use social media to engage with your customers. If you do social media right, you’ll build much stronger relationships with your customers.
Reddit is a social networking platform and news website. On Reddit, users of the site can share links to content online, and also post their own unique content directly to the site. Other users can then up-vote or down-vote this content and leave comments. While Reddit is primarily a social platform, it can be a valuable asset for online businesses. Ecommerce sites can use Reddit to promote their content, and increase the visibility of their products or services. With 114.5 million unique visits each month, Reddit is a platform that can vastly increase your businesses’ visibility.
When you visit Reddit, you’ll see a front page that lists links posted by other users. The website also contains subreddits, which further categorise content into areas of interest, such as fashion or fitness. Each subreddit has its own front page too. Having your link feature on the front page of Reddit provides you with maximum visibility. Many Reddit users aim to get their link posted on the front page. To find out how Reddit ranks its content, you need to understand how the Reddit algorithm works.
The benefit of having your content featured on Reddit is , outside of the huge traffic that it brings, it gives your content exposure to influencers. Bloggers and journalists often use Reddit for story ideas, so getting visibility on the platform often translates into exposure on other prominent sites a few days later.
How the Reddit Submission Algorithm Works
As Reddit is an open source website, its code is freely available. The site’s algorithms are written in Python and the sorting algorithms are executed in Pyrex. Reddit has a story algorithm that it always uses, which is called the Reddit hot ranking. With the Reddit story algorithm, the number of votes and the submission time of a link have the largest effect on where a story will rank.
This is because Reddit implements a logarithm function in its algorithm. With this type of algorithm, the first votes on a link are more valuable than later votes on a link. For example, the first 10 up-votes will have the same value as the next 100 and so on. This means that as a link gets older, its ranking will slowly degrade, as the impact of the up-votes it gets becomes less significant. Conversely, it is also important to get some initial traction on a submission in order to give it early visibility.
Reddit ranks an item by calculating the number of votes a link has and then subtracting points based on how old that link is. This means that newer links generally rank higher than older links. This keeps the front page fresh, and ensures that links with thousands of up-votes aren’t stuck on the front page for weeks or months at a time. Stories that get a more equal range of up-votes and down-votes will generally be ranked lower than stories that have a larger percentage of up-votes.
How the Reddit Comment Algorithm Works
For comments, Reddit uses a different algorithm, as using the hot ranking algorithm wouldn’t be practical. For comments, it is most logical to list the best rated comments prominently, rather than giving precedence to the older comments. Instead of using the hot ranking algorithm, Reddit uses a confidence sort algorithm based on the Wilson score interval for its comments.
With a confidence sort algorithm, the best rated comments that the system has the most data for will be ranked the highest. For example, a comment with ten up-votes and 1 down vote will rank higher than a comment with only 1 up-vote and no down-votes, even though the latter comment has a 100% up-vote rate. The comments are ranked by data sampling and the date the comments are submitted isn’t an active factor.
Understanding the basics of the Reddit algorithm can help you to better understand the way that the platform works, and be able to use it more effectively.
November 14th, 2014.
As more and more companies become aware of the importance of social media and the impact a well-run social media marketing campaign can have on their business, the need for clear, effective and efficient analysis of performance, reach, and the wealth of data available is ever greater.
Social media allows businesses to interact with their customers and create interest and excitement around their products and services, build their brand and ultimately generate revenue.
Knowing your audience, understanding how they behave and finding out what works and what doesn’t is key to helping develop a successful social media marketing strategy.
Below are 10 great social media tools for marketing managers to help you gain greater insights into your audience and manage your social media campaigns more effectively.
1. Google Analytics
Probably the most well-known analytical tool, Google Analytics has a whole host of features including social reporting which allows you to measure how visitors use your site, where they came from and how you can keep them coming back. Social reports help you measure the impact social media has on your business goals and conversions showing you conversion rates and the monetary value of those conversions that occurred due to referrals from each social network.
The Social Plug-in report shows which articles on your site are shared and through which social media channels (Facebook like, Twitter Tweet, etc.) while tools such as Multi-Channel Funnels and Attribution show how all your campaign elements work together so you can concentrate on those that work best .
While there is a free plan, the Premium service is designed for larger organisations and the more detailed insights they require.
Hootsuite is a Social Media Management Tool which allows you to manage multiple social streams like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and many more in one place. It enables you to monitor and track what is being said about your brand or product and help you to respond instantly.
This is a useful tool if you have a team rather than one person managing social media as it allows you to delegate responses to different team members ensuring that no fans or followers are overlooked.
Although there is a free plan for personal use, the Pro versions costs £9.99 per month for up to 9 team members, 100 social profiles and unlimited RSS while there is also an Enterprise package for larger corporations (demo available).
3. Socialbakers Analytics Pro
Socialbakers Analytics Pro allows you to analyse the performance of your competitors on social media in order to gain a better understanding of their social business strategy across media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, etc..
Learning from their successes and failures helps you to create more effective social media campaigns for your brand. Features include competitive analysis, visual reporting and Fan and Follower Insights as well as Mobile App Support.
There are various pricing plans starting from $120 per month.
Crowdbooster is a tool which helps you achieve an effective presence on Twitter and Facebook.
With Crowdbooster you can track the growth of your audience, know who your most interactive and enthusiastic fans are, and schedule posts for both Twitter and Facebook. Crowdbooster also highlights the key information you should pay attention to, such as new and influential followers, so that you can engage with them. You can also manage multiple accounts and share access with colleagues and clients.
There are a variety of pricing plans starting from $9 a month with a free 30-day trial.
Posting describes itself as “your all-in-one inbox for all social activity about your business”. From one social inbox, you can monitor what’s being said about your business on the web and respond to messages from your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. You can also be alerted whenever a word or phrase you are tracking is published on Twitter, Facebook, Google News and WordPress.
Another feature is that using Postling you can publish to a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Facebook Photos, and YouTube.
Pricing starts at $1 for the first 30 days and $10 a month thereafter.
SocialBro is a tool specific to Twitter which helps you better target and engage with your audience while also providing analytical insights. It informs you when’s best to tweet, how to indentify your influencers and discover new users, and analyse your Twitter competitors. SocialBro works alongside Twitter scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and has a complete suite of tools designed to meet the needs of all types of user from individuals and small businesses to large enterprises. Pricing plans range from free to paid to tailored.
Argyle Social is a B2B Social Marketing platform which ensures your efforts add value to your marketing through monitoring prospects, aiding engagement and tracking conversions. Segmented campaigns, multi-network reporting and integration with sales platforms such as Marketo and SalesForce help prove the true value of social interactions.
Argyle Social helps you to qualify and quantify better leads, and build and maintain stronger relationships with your audience.
There are three monthly pricing plans with different features ranging from $200 for small marketing organisations to $600 for professional marketers to $1100 for large marketing teams.
Spredfast is an enterprise social media management system that allows an organization to manage, monitor, and measure its performance across multiple social media channels.
It enables companies to , increase audience engagement through integrated campaigns and discover relevant topics from the moment they start to trend facilitating the creation of inspiring authentic content.
Spredfast’s listening and analytics solutions provide end-to-end visibility into the social data that helps companies understand their audience and make better business decisions. It can be Integrated with your existing digital analytics applications like Omniture, Google Analytics, Brandwatch, Crimson Hexagon, and more.
Request a demo to see what it can do for your business.
Shoutlet is an Enterprise Social Relationship Platform which enables companies to understand their market, reach and engage target customers, grow their social database and plan and execute social content. The ability to link different platforms together means site management efficiency and enables companies to see what products are popular with their customers.
It’s designed for social media marketing professionals who need a streamlined solution to creating social media content and managing interactions. A demo can be requested.
For enterprises and agencies, the Wildfire Social Marketing Suite enables you to turn separate social media tactics into effective strategic campaigns. Features include Social ads which helps you reach the right audience across a variety of networks, the creation of interactive landing pages and promotions using pre-built templates or your own custom design and the management of conversations with your audience across social networks from a single dashboard. Integrations between Wildfire, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager provide the insights to measure social ROI.
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).
July 11th, 2013.
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.
May 2nd, 2013.
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.