October 15th, 2015.
Marketers often struggle with Pinterest. Most Pinterest howtos are rather manuals on how to use “rich pins” or other features.
Both techniques are typical for selfish marketers but often backfire. Here’s an actual closer look at really popular pins other than recipes.
You already know about Pinterest don’t you? It’s that site run by desperate housewives collecting recipes or revelling in depictions of dream weddings. I didn’t believe the Pinterest hype either a few years back. I mean I don’t cook despite my nickname: Chef. I already married but I didn’t even wear a suit and tie at the ceremony.
I’m not a woman you might want to add. Yet I tried Pinterest to find out whether I can build an audience there, and to learn about the potential organic reach it was rumoured to have.
Almost three years later I have more than 100k followers and sometimes dozens or even hundreds of repins (as reshares are called on Pinterest) on my images.
Don’t get awed by the huge follower number though. It’s all lurkers. Pinterest decided that because I’m an active user living in Germany I must be the ideal option for newbie users to follow. Now all these empty accounts run by people who logged in once and never shared an image are inflating my follower number but showing no engagement, predictably.
Thus the most interesting thing is not how I got the followers (which aren’t the same as on other social sites anyway) but how I was able to get some pins reshared numerous times.
Of course it’s a combination of many factors I can only guess based in my first hand experience.
I can’t offer you survey results or big data but instead real life examples and my explanation why I think these and not other images have made it.
Viral Pinterest spread may come in many different flavors:
- You can have a large niche-oriented audience – for example people collecting images of architecture. Indeed that’s what I have.
- You can rank well on Pinterest for particular images, boards or even user names. I did rank well for more than a year at least in an area with fewer competitors where I was an early mover.
- You can get popular with old pins by now as a new algorithm is unearthing similar images of those you already show. With three years worth of shares I get a lot of that love.
- You can get a lot of viewers simply by covering a topic many people like. Inspirational quotes are such an example. People browsing the default quotes category might notice you. Sometimes the wrong category might lead to broad sharing as well.
Let’s take a look at the actual pins. I have chosen a few of them based on popularity and the possibility of replicating them. You can predict success based on some aspects of these pins. Examples of such are
- the category
- the image size
- the image form
Of course these can only work when the message and the depiction is inspiring enough. That’s what Pinterest inherently is about. It’s a huge collection of what people want, what they look up to and what they would like implemented to see in their own life.
Inspirational quotes are one of the most popular categories on Pinterest despite the fact that not everybody is speaking English on the service.
Images that are bigger in height than width are better for Pinterest in general but with quotes it’s almost a prerequisite.
The “be brave/take risks” quote image is 500px wide but 750px high. That’s essentially the prefect size and ratio 1:1,5 for Pinterest simply because of the way Pinterest shows thumbnails.
Even without the perfect vertical format and a category which is popular in itself, you can get hundreds of repins. This building above is a good example. Although architecture is one of the default Pinterest categories it’s not hugely popular (with a few exceptions)-. In most cases people love to repin lavish seaside villas with luxuriously dimensioned pools. Yet even these pins in most cases get dozens of pins rather than hundreds.
Most people like to aspire to lifestyles they can’t afford yet. There is a considerable group though that likes a both realistic and affordable way of life both in reality and on Pinterest. These people for example like ecological buildings, prefabricated homes for example, short prefabs. An extremely popular trend among those people are shipping container homes.
I was a shipping container enthusiast myself a decade ago until I’ve worked a month in one during summer. In short: It was hot. Even my laptop overheated. It was a very basic shipping container home with zero extra insulation etc. though.
By now there are numerous buildings worldwide that use shipping containers as basic elements but also add sophisticated padding so that at the end of the day you barely recognize that a minimalist modern home is made from containers underneath. The image above is such an excellent example.
Did I also mention that shipping container homes are much cheaper than other buildings and that they are also environmentally friendly? Yes, shipping containers can easily be recycled as buildings and are available by the millions. Thus whenever a home made of containers looks good without looking too trashy it gets additional attention from the treehuggers all over the planet.
You don’t have to cover a popular topic. Even an unpopular one like cycling or bikes can garner a lot of attention when combined with beautiful women and ideally women also are already celebrities. Famous men also work to some extent but don’t get as widely spread as female cyclist depictions.
This image of actress Belen Rodriguez is proof of this concept. I pinned it mainly because of the neat cruiser underneath those beautiful legs yet I wasn’t sad to show the latter either. Like in this example ideally you get repins from several groups of people:
- beauty oriented women
- health-focussed heterosexual men
- cycling fans and bike experts.
Last but not least celebrity hungry gossip girls will love that image.
I’m not a big aficionado of celebrity news but when they display an environmentally friendly mode of transport I’m glad to give them additional publicity. Did I mention that other treehuggers tend to act in a similar way?
Thus when dealing with a topic that usually affects only a minority you rather want to add something to your image that has a wider appeal and is suitable to the masses or at least a larger interest group.
Adding Star Wars elements is also a fool-proof way to get attention as another unusually popular cycling pin of mine shows:
I’ve got pins that have been repinned thousands of times but are often exceptions to the rule. The pins above have become popular for reasons you can easily deduce from the context. In case you want to look at my popular pins yourself to get the bigger picture make sure to visit my profile over there.
* Creative Commons image by Hello Chaos
July 8th, 2015.
I know, creating content is already hard enough, but when you add promoting that content to the brief, and many give up from the start. They publish only occasionally and do not spread the word about it.
How can you make your content appear on the radar without spending hours per week on promotion?
Also: How do you promote without shouting “click here!” all the time?
You are not Seth Godin or Neil Patel
First off there are basically two ways to promote content by working smarter not harder. Automation and humanization. Sadly you have choose only one of them. Why? They contradict each other. When you read mainstream marketing blogs you will be inundated with advice on how to automate social media sharing.
Scheduling and cross-posting messages on different social media sites is quite often offputting though. You can only do it when you already have a large and faithful audience. In case your name is not Seth Godin or Neil Patel you can’t do it in most cases.
Guess what happens when I notice that a particular account is largely or completely automated? I stop talking to it. Imagine it in real life: would you talk to an answering machine or mailbox each and every time when you never get a proper response by a human being? No, after the third time most people will lose patience I guess.
I don’t stalk influencers or brands on social media.
I may be an exception but I even like to be able to reply to your newsletter mails. I can do it when Brian Dean writes to me but not with most independent musicians who put me on their list.
I downloaded their free album so they started to send me updates from Google-like do-not-reply addresses. I unsubscribed after failing to send feedback on the sometimes even broken mails I received. It happened three times with three different artists.
Dear Buffer, how are you today?
Just like in the early years when seemingly everybody in marketing attempted to flood social media with their self-submissions nowadays most marketers automate their social media activity using tools like Buffer.
I reply to your Buffer a few times by accident but then I will sooner or later notice and stop talking to you.
I may be a rather advanced user of social media you might argue. Average people won’t even notice which tool you use to share content on social media. True, they will usually notice that you aren’t very responsive though. Even non-geeky people are not stupid. They don’t like talking to walls either unless they are some kind of lunatic.
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
It’s called social media for a reason. No, it’s not selfish media. People want to actively socialize with you. No, they don’t want to chat about your breakfast unless you’re a foodie but instead they want you to respond when they ask you something. It’s as simple as answering the “social media phone” as some pundits put it.
Luckily unlike a phone social media does not always need instant reactions. You can listen and monitor throughout the day and respond in batch. Most of us should be glad to be able to have something to respond to in the first place.
How to humanize your social media activity
OK, now that we know that automation is evil or at least ostracizes people we can focus on the real thing: being friendly in person. Didn’t we want to save time instead of practising social networking all day! Yes, true. Like mentioned above you can respond in batch to those who have mentioned you.
Of course you need people first who would respond to you. Nobody talks to strangers. It’s important to introduce yourself first. What’s the best introduction on social media? It’s a present. Bring flowers. In social media terms you can share other people’s content first.
Yeah, but isn’t that time consuming too? yet it is. You can streamline that too. Collect the posts that mattered last week and share them throughout this week. You can use free tools like
Just peruse the popular posts and take those that mattered to you and your preferred audience and plan how to share them throughout the week. Yes, you could automate that but then again you would lose potential friends. Instead you can select five to fifteen posts that matter to you and share them throughout the days.
Just share the posts you planned on Monday during the evenings when you reply to messages in batch.
Ideally start with the content you share (curate!) so that you are still around when people respond. React to the updates people have posted throughout the day. Then answer your mails or phone calls or whatever and then recheck whether some new social media interaction ensued.
Personally I schedule half an hour in the morning for SMO that is using social media for business and then in the evening I reply to the messages that ensued. I do it every day but on Mondays I spend longer on the content curation part. Sometimes I look up Twitter or Google+ in-between tasks as well, as a diversion.
Organic social media approach
Personally I practice a moderate form of the inbox zero type of approach where I spend half an hour or more each evening to respond to my messages, including those from social media and phone.
I don’t treat people differently just because they used a different tool to contact me. Yes, social media messages are probably less formal or even important in some cases but in the long run you can’t be antisocial and only respond to current clients or people who reach out to you by phone or mail.
Weak social media links (connections not hyperlinks) are often the most important ones when it comes to promotion on social media sites. The idea is that once you share others people’s work they will notice you as well. Some of them will check out your shares or onsite content and a few of them will even share something as well and/or follow you in future.
This is a very organic approach that works in reality but takes a while to unfold. Most marketers are in a hurry and do not want to invest time and effort. To speed up the process you can actually use Twitter lists to remember and highlight all those people who actually engage with you. I have done that in the past with private lists but decided to create a public list instead called engagers.
Engaging with the engagers
The engagers list features the few good people who really listen and respond to me on Twitter. There are many broadcasters in the marketing sphere, that is people or companies that use social media like radio or TV back in the days: just telling the world about what they want the world to know but never responding. Like mentioned earlier the rise of social media automation also leads to a growing noise level.
People who automate usually repeat a lot and share while they are are offline so that they won’t respond to your feedback. Automators usually won’t be around when you share your or third party content either. When you have no time to promote yourself so that you automate it you most probably won’t promote other people either. These non-responsive people use social media selfishly.
And it doesn’t make sense to follow them until their content is so unique and valuable that you want to. Again in case of Seth Godin you may follow him for the unique insights although you know that he will never even notice you because he’s simply not there.
Then there are the lurkers. They usually make up 90 or more % of any platform’s user base. What do they do? Nothing! In the best case they listen and never reply but in most cases they just started using a social media service once to rarely or never return. Ignore them like they ignore you. Sadly you can’t save lurkers.
I tried to convert lurkers to active users for a few weeks. I addressed them personally. I thanked them for following me. I asked them questions. Nothing helped. They do not want to engage.
When they follow you it’s their only action. They are downright rude by not responding but again, they are probably not even there anymore. They just followed you accidentally or because the site suggested you.
Showing love for those who care
When you can forget the
the few good ones left are the engagers. In recent weeks I have focused all my attention on them. I collected the few dozens of people who responded to my social media activity on Twitter. I will do the same thing on Google+ using circles. I just hope they don’t discontinue the feature before I can do it.
I had a secret best friends list on Twitter for ages and I always checked these people’s updates first but over the years many of them turned irrelevant to me or stopped being friends, just like in real life. So checking out their offtopic tweets just because we were close 5 years ago appeared to be counterproductive to me now.
That’s one of the best things of the engagers list. It’s public. No nepotism behind closed doors.
You can engage with the people and companies I have identified as active engagers already. They are very cool people in most cases: I’d like to highlight some of them here. I will write more in detail about the engagers in future. As of July 2nd, 2015 I have only 39 engagers on my list. Consider that I follow over 1.000 accounts in total!
I’m still testing but I can already recommend you some people who care:
Gab, as I like to call her (I’m not even sure I’M allowed but she never slapped me) was one of the few people who stayed on my best friends list for several years while remaining relevant an ontopic. She has at least three Twitter accounts she actively uses and is very supportive.
Ed is one of the few leading agency types who get social media right. He is actively curating news and evergreen resources and likely to share your content when it rocks. He’s also responsive and likely to give positive feedback.
Dan is the anti-automator who takes a stand by not automating social media at all. He’s even written a post on it: that’s even better than me. I tried automating here and there, mostly to no avail or mixed results. He’s also the opposite of noisy but when he shares something it usually matters.
Paul has a long history of being a connector. He will think of you when a topic matters to you or when a client needs your services. He already sent me interesting articles, warnings and at least one client my way.
Ashley is en excellent blogger. He also excels at personal (not public) relations. A few weeks back we chatted on Skype for at least half an hour and exchanged anecdotes of the secret life of business bloggers. He uses some automation but he also seems to be around a lot and he will talk to you.
Stellan is a prolific curator who will digest the huge onslaught of industry news from search, marketing and adjacent disciplines to serve only the news that matter. I always try to view most of his tweets to get a quick overview of what’s going on. He’s very attentive and will notify you of errors on your site.
Jeremy has been stalking me all over the place for a few years. He just can’t stop adding useful comments and sharing valuable insights. Whenever he starts a debate below you post you can rest assured that it will be a worthwhile addition. He’s been with Raven Tools for years but now is an independent consultant.
The linkaratis is a whole team of bloggers from the Page One Power Agency. They have been reaching out to me years ago already and we’ve built a successful business relationship ever since. I’d need to include at least three name from the team here, so I’d rather feature the whole linkarati account. They also engage during their #linkaratichat.
* The content promotion image has been provided by the illustrators of Freepik.com
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.