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On the subject of Social Media

Voyeur

Joe Joe

November 29th, 2012.

Rise of the Digital Voyeurs: What is Your Role in Social Media?

 

Every day we sign into Facebook, Twitter , Google+ and a plethora of other Social Media platforms. The content shared on these sites is limitless, and with new content being created and shared every day, the power of Social Media has never been stronger.

We are constantly told about the benefits of Social Media as an Online Marketing Strategy, but one question that I’ve been pondering is: What do the 700 million people who use these sites actually use them for?

I propose a three-pronged method of identifying social media users.

1) Those who seek to create new content for their online audience for a multitude of reasons and in a multitude of ways. (Creators)
2) Those who enjoy nothing more than engaging with online content and sharing it among their family, friends and professional peers. (Amplifiers)
3) Those of us who sign in just to see what our friends and family have been up to. (Voyeurs)

The spread of users across these three categories is far from even. As the following diagram comprehensively explains, the people responsible for creating new content are in a tiny minority, while most people are quite content to just observe what other people are creating.

 

So what type of user am I?

There is no easy answer to this question. I imagine most people fall under ‘a bit of each'; but here, I will give each User-Type a profile and you can see which you most identify with.

Creators

These are the people at the top of the content waterfall. People who focus on creating web content. Here are the different types:

Type 1: Raising Awareness/Expanding a Fan Base/Increasing Exposure

The creators with the most exposure are big brands with big followings. A company like Coca-Cola push new content all day every day. They want to keep people interested in their product and spread the good word. If people are sharing new pictures, competitions and media around Social Networks, it’s free promotion for the company and everyone’s a winner.

There’s obviously a sliding scale with the multi-nationals at one end and independent companies, artists, musicians and people trying to build a fan-base at the other end.

(If you’re on the digital marketing team of a big brand; an unsigned musician; or a celebrity, this is you).

Type 2: Staying Current/Inspiring Ideas/Informing

Other creators might be Bloggers or companies who offer online services. They spark discussion about topics and, as their content is shared in email or social networks, they build more of a following. New content is important for these people. Staying fresh and current in the SEO-driven world requires a focus on innovative ideas and compelling writing.

(If you’re a Blogger, SEO or Redditor, this is you)

Type 3: Have-a-Go Heroes

The final type of creator is anyone else who posts on any Social Media Platform. The people who Tweet about their breakfast; or Instagram pictures of the weather; or update Facebook after a successful bowel movement. The people who just want to share their lives with their contacts. Features such as ‘Checking-in’ and ‘Tagging’ on Facebook enable these users the opportunity to be as detailed as they could possibly be when creating new content. The more they tag, the bigger their audience becomes. Mobile technology means that essentially anyone with thumbs can be this type of creator.

(If you have an internet connection, this is probably you)

 Amplifiers

The Amplifiers of Social Media can be broken into similar sections, as such:

Type 1: Shameless Self-Promoters

This is the type of Amplifier who tries to get their own content as much attention as they can. For example, a Blog-Post writer at an internet marketing company might Tweet a link to his post for his followers to see. His Twitter account is linked to his Facebook page, so it will also post the link to Facebook. He might then post a link to the page on Reddit; Submit the page to Stumbleupon; +1 the page on Google+; Pin the page on Pinterest; e-mail the page to all of his friends; write a letter containing the URL to his Great Aunt; Spray paint the link under a railway bridge or just go door-to-door asking people to visit his page. If he’s lucky, his followers, friends and associates will give the post the same treatment; retweeting it and sharing it around their own online networks and this will get the post the recognition it deserves.

(If you are trying to increase exposure to your own content, this is you)

Type 2: Subject Gurus
These are the types of Amplifiers who are considered (by themselves at least) to be experts in their field of interest. They will follow anyone who shows an interest in their subject and retweet, comment and increase awareness of the content they view to be of a high standard. This could be @DogFoodCentral Retweeting your comment about the new biscuits you bought your Labrador, or it might be @MattCutts raising awareness of your worthwhile post about Google’s Interpretation of HTML Tags. In any case, these are people who have an online following interested in a particular subject. They acknowledge that responsibility by sharing the best content in that field.

(If you are an online expert on anything, this is you)

Type 3: Fankids

These are the people who share content from their favourite bands, celebrities or artists. There are pages and sites dedicated to sharing the content put out by pop-cultural icons from all walks of life. Many artists have modern-day Fan Clubs in the form of Fan Pages and Groups on Facebook. There are also a growing number of Twitter accounts dedicated to Retweeting people talking about the artist. For example the frankly confusing account dedicated to 2010’s 4th Place X-Factor Contestant, Cher Lloyd:

For an example of the hype that can be created by Fankids, look at a fairly innocuous Tweet from  a young boy named Justin Bieber:

That was Retweeted by more people than could fill Wembley Stadium.

Take a moment to process that…

Now, I’ve got nothing against Justin Bieber. I’m sure he’s completely deserving of the attention he receives for quoting other people’s lyrics. But I’m sure if an 18 year old boy doing an Apprenticeship at a local City College had Tweeted the same sentiment, it might not have generated quite the same buzz…

Fankids share their love of artists to an alarming level of dedication, making them a huge part of the Amplification process.

(If you are obsessed with someone online, this is you)

Type 4: Keyboard Keensters

This applies to anyone else who interacts with online content. Casual Social Networkers who either want to get involved with the technology or just keep up with their friends. They will retweet @sportsquotesoffical or whatever sage advice is being handed out by @charliesheen that day. They will comment on each other’s photos with material that 5 years ago would have been confined to a text message or phone-call. They will like their friend’s status updates, share photos from their favourite singer’s pages; but still be fairly restricted to slightly extended group of people that they probably see on a day-to-day basis anyway.

(If you spend much of your time on Social Networking sites, but don’t like posting, this is you)

Voyeurs

This is less easy to break into different segments since we are all guilty of it in some way. By Voyeurism I mean the idea of looking and not touching. Seeing but not interacting. The idea of voyeurism conjures up a lot of negative connotations, but I think it is exceedingly appropriate here– especially in an age where privacy is flouted just as much as it is protected. There’s something kind of perverse about how most of us use Social Media. Every day we log on and trawl through updates of people we probably wouldn’t even think about were it not for this fairly unnecessary level of connectivity.

I’m in the age bracket where people start to have children. I’m sure having a child is the most precious thing in the world, and I’m sure when I have children I’ll want to share it with everyone I know. But at the same time, I find it almost unsettling that I’m being exposed to an enormous number of such life events by people I barely know and may never physically meet again. We invite people who are essentially strangers to share in our successes and failures, knowing that they probably don’t care. We watch people’s lives go by in our Newsfeeds and learn more about them than we care to know; but in many cases we wouldn’t even say hello if we passed them in the street.

And we still log on every day to do the same.

Looking but not clicking.

…Welcome to digital voyeurism.

So Why Should I Care About This?

It’s important to recognise who will be using your content and what they will be using it for. If you want to get a killer video out there; or you want more people to spread your latest blog post you need to think of ways to turn Voyeurs into Amplifiers, and Amplifiers into Super-Amplifiers. You might offer a prize for the 1000th Retweet or comment. You might reward commenters by commenting back with feedback. People like to know their opinions are being heard, and the more links you build on that personal level, the more people will connect with your company and the more they’ll come back. Get visitors active, and then reward their activity.
As a planet, we’ve never been so connected. The next stage for online commerce is activating the potential to interact with all of their potential customers. Things like Google Authorship are a step away from online anonymity and a stronger sense of community.

Put the effort into engaging the visitors to your site and you’ll see the benefits in no time.

i-find-you-interesting-but-facebook-thinks-your-dull

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

I like you but Facebook thinks you are dull

This post is to do with Facebook and how to get seen in people’s news feeds.

The problem is that every time you log into to Facebook it has about 500-800 possible items that it could show you in your newsfeed.  How on earth does it decide which are most relevant to you?

And how as a marketer on Facebook do you make sure that your company’s posts are getting in front of your so called fans?

 

Facebook’s Ranking Algorithm: EdgeRank

For anyone seeking to market a product or service on Facebook it’s essential you understand how this algorithm works.

In the olden days it was easy

Just like getting to the top of Google getting to appear in users’ news feed used to be a breeze.  That was when there were about 100m people on Facebook.  Now there are 900m.  Getting your company’s posts to appear in Facebook users’ feeds has meant that marketers have to really think on their feet.  No more easy money.

General rule of thumb is that if your posts are so dull that no one shares them or likes them then it’s unlikely Facebook is going to rate them as being of any interest either.

Let’s look at Edge Rank more closely

What is it: EdgeRank is Facebook’s equivalent to Google’s algorithm for ranking news feeds.

Every time you click, like, share, RSVP something on Facebook EdgeRank gives yoru behaviour a score.  The higher the score the more popular the post, the more likely it is to appear in other people’s news feeds.

If only it was that simple!  How does it really work?

Well it’s a secret for a start.

But we know there are 3 ingredients:

  • Affinity Score
  • Edge Weight ( an edge is any interaction a user has with the site such as clicking on “Like”)
  • Time Decay

 

Affinity score

Affinity score means how connected a user is with someone else. The more you write on someone’s wall the more affinity you have with them. Each interaction has a different weight: commenting on something is more valuable than just liking.  The more mutual friends you have with someone then the more affinity you have with them adn the more likely you are to receives their posts.

If you stop interacting with someone then your affinity score declines and you will stop hearing so much from them! Phew in some cases.

 

Edge Weight

Each edge has a different weight.  In order of decreasing importance you have commenting, sharing, liking.  Photos have higher value than links.

Every action that a user takes creates an edge, and each of those edges, except for clicks, creates a potential story. By default, you are more likely to see a story in your newsfeed about me commenting on a fan page than a story about me liking a fan page.  This is what Facebook marketers must understand

There is even a theory that actively searching for a page/person and Fanning it is more important than just Fanning it as someone else has posted it.  This and may other twists and turns to the Edge weight make it very clever but at the end of the day it’s quite simple:

The more interesting you are the more Facebook will rate your posts.

 

Time Decay

Old stories are old news. So when someone logs on the newsfeed is populated with the most recent stories with the highest score at that time.  Your story will not appear unless it has a higher score at that moment in time than all the other possible newsfeeds.

Time decay is also affected by how long since the user last logged into Facebook and how frequently they log in.

 

How can I optimise the my Fan page for Edgerank?

It’s the same advice as with search engine ranking.  Don’t try to trick the search engines, just make your content interesting and informative, or funny. Funny is best!

Take your turgid press releases, turn them inside out so that they ask opinion rather than give it:

eg

  • “Click ‘like’ if you think our new product will be useful”
  • “Fill-in-the-blank: I can see myself using this product in ______.”
  • “Would you recommend this product if it was _____  ______.”
  • “On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate the design of our new product X.”

 

Here are some real world examples

Here is a great example from Luv me Buddies.  Funny how’s it often the small companies that get it right! 

Though beware these sorts of give aways that tend to attract unengaged, professional competition enterers

The BBC Good Food Show have great content and potential to engender interactions but this post is too passive and does not engage.

Easy Jet are having a good go.  Their question gets you thinking of Italy and sharing your experiences.  It’s still quite a big jump to think that this might make you suddenly book a holiday but it’s all good branding  I guess.

 

Businesses are still struggling to really derive any revenue from Facebook and personally I doubt they will unless they are big brands.  But that should not stop everyone from trying.   BUT whoever you please think of something interesting to post before you post it!

 

fawltytowers

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Fawlty Towers and Trolls SEO strategy – have you got the balls?

 

We all know that if a customer is unhappy that they are 10 times more likely to complain than if they are happy. Well poor service could be a fantastic opportunity to improve your SEO.

Let’s say you run a restaurant.  Consider a situation where for a day you deliberately gave all your clients appalling customer service – picture a day at Fawlty Towers.  In the past your clients would have just grumbled and not come back, nowadays they’ll be straight online on Facebook, twitter, mumsnet, forums, tripadvisor, restaurant review sites etc. and anywhere else to vent their spleen and to take revenge on your appalling rudeness.

They’ll be so agitated that they’ll post a link back to your site just so that your readers are in no doubt as to where you are and so that they can avoid you.

What a great result!   Fantastic.  Go out into the streets and rejoice.   Think of all those juicy, natural, organic links pointing back to your site. Clever though the poor old Google bot is it cannot determine sentiment very well (or may not even want to) and will treat those links as a good reason to boost your site’s rankings.

This is obviously a very dangerous tactic and not one to be approached lightly but you do see instances of it happening if not deliberately then definitely inadvertently.

Ryan Air are exemplars of deliberate bad PR to attract venom and spite from their clients, who keep coming back, and who presumably keep posting links to their site.

Mothercare were in the spot light last month for its appalling customer service, this was all over Mumsnet for days and other forums just clicking up the inbound links.  What a gift!

Also see here for a case study from american company My Decor Eyes whose poor customer service has catapulted them  up Googles Rankings. Here is an excerpt with a comment from the owner:

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

 

For the ultimate SEO buzz and getting attention online why not try Troll SEO.

It’s dangerous but could be fun

 credit

Indeed it is not all about links on the Internet it’s all about getting attention and this is where Trolls come in.

Online a Troll is someone who deliberately stirs up forum discussion by posting extreme, controversial, rude, occasionally funny, comments just to annoy and cajole other readers.  He is the firestarter, the poker of ants nests.

Get it right and and everyone gets on their high horse and attacks the troll, the number of contributors increases, attention and eyeballs gather and hey presto suddenly everyone’s on your site.

This is maybe how we know about Liam Stacey who used twitter to launch a stream of racist abuse against footballer Fabrice Muamba as he fought for his life.  Is he really such a racist?  Maybe, maybe not but now we all know who he is and he’s got our attention.

Why did I find myself reading Louise Mensch’s (Tory MP) Twitter the other day?  Well she had decided to promote all the sexist abuse she gets on Twitter in her favourites.  Too disgusting to broadcast on the radio I had to see it for myself when I heard about it!  As did thousands of others neatly promoting her profile, her number of followers etc.

But who were these people posting all this sexist abuse?  If you were to meet them face to face would they be so bold?  I suspect not, but online they are Trolls, operating unseen, below the fold of the page, viley expurgating their venom and inadvertently promoting their hosts’ blogs and websites.  Everyone should have a pet Troll.

 

 

whathasfacebookeverdone-for-you

Rob

May 18th, 2012.

Social media: a fool’s paradise

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calling all Marketing managers, Social Media agencies

Can anyone send me a small business social media case study where they can definitively show a positive return on investment?

Please include time spent promoting as well as other expenses and the revenue generated.

Do not include SEO/PPC revenue.

Whilst “social media,” whatever that may be, may be useful for some large brands I suspect that it is an unnecessary diversion for 85% of smaller companies when used in the wrong way. I suspect that very few can actually attribute a decent if any ROI to it.

But I remain to be convinced.

 

google-demographics

Adam Adam

February 22nd, 2012.

Google+ Demographics: A Look at the Top 5 Countries Using Google Plus

There’s been a lot of debate recently about the possible success (or failure?) of Google+. Google themselves have been a little cagey when it comes to giving information on their userbase, and whilst Larry Page boasted 90 million users globally, Larry didn’t quite explain their metrics in their entirety, as this post from Forbes showed.

Last week Website Monitoring shared some interesting research showing the overall demographics for Google+ users, and whilst the findings are fascinating I wanted to find out how these averages differed by country. Having identified the US, India, Brazil, UK and Canada as being the top five countries based on the estimated number of users, I’ve looked at the relationship status, interests, sex and age of Google Plus users based on the locations stated in their profiles.

This has produced some interesting statistics, such as:

  • There are almost as many Indian men as there are Female Americans
  • 76.02% of sampled Indian Google+ users are single, and are more interested in forming relationships and dating combined than networking
  • Brazilian Google+ users have far more ‘it’s complicated’ relationships than the other four countries sampled
  • The trend of 18 – 24 year old users being the most popular age group within Google Plus’ userbase appears to be true across the top five countries sampled, however there is a larger percentage of 18 – 24 year old users in Brazil (69.90%)
  • Plus a whole number of other interesting nuggets!

Thus I present:

Google Plus Infographic

Embed this- Sharing is Caring!

Google Plus Demographics InfographicDatadial

Matt

September 6th, 2011.

10 Of The Biggest Social Media PR Disasters

This is not a top ten list. This is not a countdown. You can’t really try to rate something as detrimental as a social media PR nightmare, because each disaster is just as much of a mess as the next and either way the damage is done until management comes up with a campaign to redress their image.

One thing about the internet, it’s much like bad Facebook photos. Sooner or later, your internet activity can come back to haunt you. So don’t think of this list as a countdown. Think of this as a checklist of what not to do for businesses.

1 Rats in the Taco Bell-February 2007

What started as a simple laugh amongst employees led to Taco Bell’s and KFC’s being shut down across the state of New York and outrage amongst the public, who were now questioning what exactly went into the gorditas. It started in Greenwich Village. After receiving an anonymous tip, TV crews arrived at a Taco Bell/KFC franchise and broke out the cameras.

What were they hoping to film, you ask? The assembly line of tacos? A special piece about the employee of the month? Unfortunately for the Bell, none of the above. The guest on this particular live feed was not human nor an employee, at least not a paid employee. The special that day focused on rats. Now one rat would have been bad enough, but it wasn’t just a single misplaced rodent. The film crew that day caught footage of dozens of rats scurrying all over the floor of the restaurant, scattering across the floor, climbing over the tables where people sat and ate, and, even worse, in the back where the food was prepped.

And it was broadcasted live.

Taco Bell’s and KFC’s all over were slammed with heaps of health code violations and Yum Brands, the mother company that owns the chicken and tacos, were ordered to clean up their restaurants or risk being shut down for good. All of this on the tail end of an E. coli scandal which sickened several people back in 2006. Stocks took a serious tumble for Yum Brands, and Taco Bell is still recovering even a few years later.

2 The Whole Foods Blog-July 2007

Whole Foods is known across the states as a Safeway of sorts for the organic and natural food industry. They have been happy to take up flags supporting the green movement, providing recycled and reusable bags to patrons, and advertising themselves as supporters of healthy living. But, like any other major food company or provider, there is competition in the field of healthy living and organic farming. So the company chief came up with a great idea to increase consumerism and productivity: assume an internet identity named “rahodeb” and troll forums and review boards of his main competitors and publish bad (i.e. false) reviews of their products.

Now that’s a great idea when you’re a kid still living in your parents basement with no ambitions and nothing to lose trolling that guy who keeps beating you on your Ebay auctions; not so great when you are the C.E.O. of a multi-million dollar corporation and the Federal Trade Commission files a lawsuit.

It turns out Mackey had been up to this “rahodeb” business from about 1999, haunting food blogs and the reputation of several companies and raised a few government eyebrows in the process, because “rahodeb” had a lot of bad things to say, none of them about Whole Foods. It really got suspicious when “rahodeb” made a thinly veiled prediction about the buyout of a competitor, Wild Oats, by Whole Foods that eventually came true a month later. Mackay resigned from his chairman position in 2009.

So if you find yourself trolling review boards trying to find the right stuff for organic, healthy living, and you see the name “rahodeb”, remind yourself that healthy living also requires a clear conscious and pure business ethics.

 3 Belkin’s “Positive” Review-January 2009

Alan Parsa was studying for his degree in documentary film making from Chicago’s Columbia College. Like any normal college student today, he needed a little extra cash in his pocket, so he went cruising on Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk for a quick buck or two. He clicked on a link to a possible job and imagine his surprise: there was an ad to get paid, provided he write a 5/5 positive review for any of Belkin’s products. With his internal bells and whistles going off that this probably wasn’t an honest thing to be paid for, Parsa did what any self-respecting internet person does: blog about it.

In just a few hours, the story broke across the internet. Belkin was very slow to reply to request’s for personal comment, which gave plenty of time for the Belkin hate wagon to pick up steam and really get rolling. By the time Mike Reynoso, Belkin’s president, posted an apology, the damage was too far gone and The New York Times had grabbed the story. People were quick to boycott Belkin products soon after and really, aren’t bloggers the last people you want to piss off when you are in the market of producing internet equipment?

 4 Domino’s Falling-April 2009

You’ve had the job. We all think about it. Spitting on the burger meant for the obnoxious customer at the counter. Pouring Diet Coke instead of regular just to be a jerk. If you’ve had that kind of fast food job, you’ve had that bad day and you’ve thought about doing exactly those pranks that would normally get you fired. But you were never stupid enough to actually do them. And even if you did, you weren’t dumb enough to film it and put it on YouTube.

Kristy Lynn Hammonds (31) and Michael Anthony Setzer (32) at Domino’s Pizza in North Carolina apparently didn’t get the memo. Late one night, and probably not in their right minds, the dynamic duo taped themselves sticking their hands in prep stations, shoving cheese in their noses, waving meat by their (ahem!) rears, and performing an array of other juvenile antics with the produce in the back of the store. What was meant as a prank video gained more than one million viewers within a few days and spread rumors of poor management and business ethics on Domino’s Pizza’s part. The Domino’s employees were, of course, fired, and consequently brought up on felony charges.

 5 There’s A Comcast Technician on My Couch- June 2006

Brian Finkelstein needed some technical help with his Comcast modem, so he called the cable company and asked they send a man over. The technician arrived awhile later…and promptly fell asleep on Finkelstein’s couch. Maybe he was out too late partying, maybe he was too worn out from night classes. But instead of doing his job, the tech decided his beauty rest was more important than attending to the original problem he had been sent out there for.

Annoyed and irritated that his modem was still not working and certainly wasn’t going to get fixed on its own, Finkelstein broke out the camcorder and recorded the tech asleep. After some careful editing and cutting the film to “I Need Some Sleep” by Eels, the D.C. resident uploaded the video onto—you guessed it—Youtube. The fifty-eight year old employee was fired but too little too late. People were already climbing out of the woodwork to make their own comments about Comcast’s poor customer service and low quality technology. Apparently a sleepy technician was only the latest in a long line of complaints, but this was the one to finally get the ball rolling downhill all over Comcast’s public image.

 6 “Dell Lies; Dell Sucks”- June 2005

You would think that the first rule of running a business would be to keep the customer happy, especially when if someone writes a bad review long enough, loud enough, and with a catchy enough title, the customer will make sure the whole world hears about it. Dell had already suffered enough from the embarrassment of the “Dude, you’re getting’ a Dell” guy getting busted for marijuana, and then customer Jeff Jarvis published “Dell Lies; Dell Sucks”. With words like “lemon” and “the service is a lie”, Jarvis’ blog was read by many others who also felt they were the victims of faulty products and less than admirable customer service and the growing internet following of Jarvis’ blog tore Dell a new one.

Who didn’t read the blog? Anyone and everyone at Dell.

Lesson learned here: follow up on what the customers have to say about your products before you find yourself in the middle of an internet firestorm and not even realizing it.

 7 Johnson and the Red Cross-August 2007

You hear the name Johnson & Johnson and you think of the tear free shampoo, or the tagline “a family company”. You think of fresh smelling babies or dish soap that leaves your hands feeling smooth You think of the Red Cross, you think of relief efforts in Louisiana for Hurricane Katrina and first aid. So why should these two good natured well effort companies have anything against each other? For Johnson & Johnson, it was what the two companies had in common that was the problem: the iconic red cross.

The way it goes is this: the family company, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), filed suit on August 7, 2007 for copyright use of the red cross which appears on first aid kits and other various products that J&J claimed competed against their own first aid line. The family company wanted all paraphernalia with the cross emblem destroyed and for the American Red Cross to pay punitive damages for dollars lost and legal fees for filing the suit which was their idea in the first place. Red Cross argued its name was licensed to first aid kit makers to advertise readiness for disasters. J&J threw around words like “violation of federal statutes” and went on to insist that the commercial Red Cross went outside the span of historically well-agreed use of the image.

Never mind the fact that the so-called “family company” was attempting to sue one of the most well known and charitable humanitarian corporations in the world, but here are a few facts that came to light that doomed J&J’s case. First of all, the American Red Cross was founded in May 1881; Johnson & Johnson didn’t start using the cross image until 1887. Second, the American Red Cross founder, Clara Barton, had already signed a deal J&J in 1895 that recognized the company’s use of a red cross as the trademark for chemical, surgical, and pharmaceutical goods.

A judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson’s case on May 14, 2008. In June of the same year, both companies agreed that both could have access to the trademark red cross image and everyone has been pretending like it’s never happened, like a bad drinking binge.

 8 United Airlines Guitar Non-Hero-July 2009

You almost feel sorry for the airline industry. After September 11th, 2001, airports all over the nation went into a massive upheaval of security protocol and travel procedures. Many feel their privacies are being violated. Airline industries have suffered financially from the economy and a few of the major airlines flirted with bankruptcy. You almost pity them. That is, until the airline breaks something important to you in transit like, let’s say, your guitar.

Baggage handling is notoriously sketchy, but Dave Carroll, a country singer from Canada (there’s a few words you never thought would go together) added a lyrical quality to it. In 2008, Carroll was flying on United Airlines from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. He and several other members of his band, Sons of Maxwell, witnessed the baggage handlers literally throwing their guitars around on the tarmac. Carroll’s own guitar, a $3,500 Taylor, was badly damaged to the point he couldn’t even play it.

Carroll fought for almost a year trying to get United Airlines to take responsibility for the damage they had caused. When that didn’t work, he took the Youtube route, writing a song and directing music video detailing his woes with the airline. Nine million views and one iTunes track later, United Airlines was running damage control, apologizing through Twitter and offering to replace Carroll’s guitar. The Canadian instead requested they donate their money to the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute. United gave a total of $3,000 but there has been no word yet on whether this has had any impact on how baggage handlers handle your valuables.

 9 Chrysler All A-Twitter- March 2011

“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.”

No, this wasn’t posted by someone riding the coattails of afternoon rush hour road rage. Believe it or not, the tweet came from someone who worked for Chrysler Group LLC automotives in Detroit, Michigan. Now you might start bemoaning any person should be allowed to openly vent on their own Twitter log. Free speech, the first amendment, personal expression, all of that applies, and it certainly does. The problem is the off-brand topic expletive tweet was listed on Chrysler Automotives own Twitter feed.

Whoops.

The irony of the situation is the tweeter was actually employed by New Media Strategies, a company there to specifically serve Chrysler’s social media needs, i.e. reach a new audience through current social media networks. Chrysler was quick to release a statement that said the company would not tolerate such language or behavior. The worker was fired, the expletive tweet was deleted, and Chrysler dropped NMS.

 10 Asus Kissing- July 2009

To help generate some buzz for their products, computer manufacturer Asus decided to hold a competition. In this contest, randomly selected bloggers would be given a kit of Asus products to review and blog about. Followers would be encouraged to vote for the best blogger of them all and the winner would get to keep the Asus kit provided. The competition was going smoothly enough and the fans had voted in a winner: by most popular vote, it was Gavyn Britton.

For some reason, Asus did not approve and oh so intelligently and diplomatically announced a decision to change the rules right at the end of the contest, proclaiming a new winner through new voting polls which did not include the popular vote which was initially what would decide the outcome.

Within a week, Asus was flooded with complaints and understandable outrage at this turn of events. Many who had participated in the contest felt used like cheap whores. They accused the Taiwanese company of manipulating the system and the voters for their own benefit and gain with little to no cost for the company. The story picked up mainstream attention but Asus was reluctant to admit any wrong doing on their part. They insist there was no intention to mislead the public, but little has been done in the PR department to effectively rectify the situation and the computer company’s reputation remains bruised.

Here’s an idea: when you write out the guidelines for a competition, you stick to the way they’re written instead of trying to backtrack at the very last second.

Martina Martina

August 11th, 2011.

[Infographic] – Which search engine holds the most weight?

Google, Google, Google…it’s all we talk about, it’s (possibly) all we care about in terms of SEO ranking and PPC ads, and some might say they even live in fear of it (you know, since the big bad Panda updates).

One thing we can’t argue with however, is its resourcefulness; it has “everything” one could need, making it so much more than just a search engine. It’s a machine.

Now that isn’t to say that Google can’t be annoying sometimes (infact an earlier post of mine focuses on just that *shakes fist* :x ) and familiarity breeds contempt after all, right?

Perhaps it’s because of its ‘one size fits all’ approach or perhaps it’s because of it’s dominance of the entire internet that causes people to look elsewhere for a search engine that fits their particular needs and that feels slightly more personal…in any case, I came up with this helpful infographic to help you decide:

Click image for the full HQ infographic

Use the following code to post the full infographic to your blog:
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Martina Martina

July 25th, 2011.

How to create the perfect return-customer!

If you take a look at what you eat, where you shop or even what you wear, you’ll discover that the most effective brands and businesses in your life are successful because of their ability to keep you trapped in their rotating doors. You’ll buy that same beverage maybe twice a week, and go to that same supermarket at the end of each month- all because you’ve convinced yourself you like the design on the plastic bags, and the staff are friendly. Actually, there’s more to it and I’m about to tell you exactly what that is…

Brand evolution…

You frequent a brand because it grows with you and becomes something that understands you. For example, after McDonalds understood the issue the population began to have with societal obesity, they reduced portion size (although I blame inflation) and boosted the nutritional value of the food through the choice of ingredients used. This became acceptable to parents, who then were more inclined eat there with their families.

An example of an industry that arguably did not readily embrace evolution and suffered greatly as a result, is the music industry. After the birth of the digital age of music, illegal downloading and iTunes, the archaic business model of selling CD’s showed a huge decline in sales. Failing to catch on quickly enough meant that some artists suffered (and the customary private jet was downsized to a regular limousine).

Whatever your line of business, you need to understand the importance of evolving with the customer, if you sell tube-socks and make a great profit in winter, introducing a pop-sock range for the warmer months would mean that you have something to offer customers all year round. Alternatively, if your business is to provide SEO services (and you are doing this well) – then perhaps you could suggest Pay Per Click (PPC) services too.

Integrating, and actually wanting customers’ opinions…

When listening to a friend or colleague talk about something they care about, you always feel that little bit of gratification when they ask you your view on the subject and genuinely care about your answer. Imagine this never happened – if people talked at you, telling you their views and never asking about yours…you would get tired of listening to them, and they would eventually emigrate to a world of bias where only their opinion matters.

Feedback is a wonderful thing, and to guarantee any kind of success you need to be engaging the people whom that success relies upon. There are many ways this can be done such as market research, comments sections and incentives.

Personally, I dislike the emails I receive asking me to ‘spend 2 minutes’ of my time filling out a feedback form, but interestingly, when shopping online – the reviews section about the product I am interested in, is the first place I look before pressing the ‘checkout’ button. If you struggle to get feedback, try using incentives in exchange for it, offering a discount or a token for free software after a few important questions are answered, is a ‘quid-pro-quo’ way to dig out helpful information that could help you better your business.

Offering alternatives…

Nestle’s chocolaty awesomeness is far from limited. Nestle offer a range of sweets and treats making them one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world. If Nestle was limited to just one chocolate bar, sure that bar of chocolate would taste good to those that enjoy it, but after years of just a milk chocolate bar, people would stray – they’d try praline, white chocolate, plain chocolate – and so on. If Nestle weren’t the ones to provide these different types, they’d be losing out on possible revenue and brand awareness.

The power of a brand comes from its ability to churn out good ideas and give people choice. This isn’t limited to types of product or service offered, your business alternatives should extend to forms of payment, methods of contact and more. Yes this is 2011, but believe it or not, some people prefer to send a postal-order or a cheque rather than use their credit or debit card online. Similarly, some people like to mail a letter to you rather than send you an email – and some people like to call you on the phone, instead of using Skype.

Being savvy is important, but it is important to remember that you could alienate a whole market simply by not catering for it. If you sell online, offer WorldPay, PayPal and the ability to pay by card – by doing so, shows customer consideration which is exactly what you need to do!

Avoiding over-saturation…

An unexpected text message from an old friend, is often the perfect segue for reconnecting, because sometimes it’s the subtleties in life that we enjoy the most. However ‘broadcast-message’ after Facebook invite from that annoying person you’d probably cross the street to avoid, will never get the attention they want. This is because there is an important difference between the two – in the first example, you feel as though that person put thought and care into the message and in the second, you feel undervalued, someone just making up the numbers.

Your business works the exact same way, its quality over quantity. Flooding prospective customers with emails about what their missing might cause them to report you as spam, and maybe even tell others to do the same. However, providing them with worthwhile information they may not already have gathered, might prompt them to subscribe to your blog, or enquire about your business.

Acknowledging loyalty…

Many businesses have cottoned onto the positive effects of personalisation, sending out post with only your first name as the title as if they’re your buddy, addressing you with “hi” rather than the traditional “Dear” and sending out seasonal gifts and confectionary. Even if it’s slightly corny and obviously not based on some fantastic rapport you have with them, they do it in hopes that you’ll feel appreciated causing them to stand out.

Even if a thousand others receive the exact same gift, unlike the Facebook invite example above and more like the Google+ invite in its beta stages – it makes you feel all special.  Using this method is an added charm, especially if the customer is new to you; it works almost as a reminder to them of their importance to you. Consistent use of this technique might eventually convince that customer that you are important to them, because you obviously ‘care’ about them enough to remember them personally.

Customers will keep coming back if they are fully catered to. Whilst I am not suggesting that if you are not doing all of the above perfectly, you will fail – including these tips into your already operating mode of business, will help boost ROI and customer satisfaction. A ‘win-win’ outcome! :-)

Matt

July 19th, 2011.

Ecommerce website content for SEO – what is it and are you wasting your time?

A phrase that you often hear being thrown about by SEOs is “content is king”, Although this is (arguably) true, I think that in many cases this just leads to commercial webmasters blindly adding low-quality content to their websites for the sake of it without really considering if it is beneficial to them in any way.

It is incredibly important to understand that different kinds of content act in different ways and using different types of content in different areas of your website can drastically influence traffic, sales and conversion rates.

The table below outlines the typical types of content that commercial websites may use and the likely impact on rankings, conversions and links.

Filler Blog Posts

Description

What I would term as ‘filler’ blog posts are often the first thing many people produce when asked to provide ‘SEO content’.   Frequently outsourced they often ask their writers to write low-quality bulk copy based around their range of products and services and then dump it all onto a blog attached to their domain.

While this kind of content by virtue of its sheer volume can sometimes produce visitors, it really is the SEO equivalent of a numbers’ game, and webmasters have recently seen Google move to reduce the effectiveness of this kind of mass produced content with the Panda updates.

This type of filler content almost always converts very poorly, it is of low quality and therefore generally results in a high bounce rate, also because visitors end up on an article page rather than a  product or category page you are relying on them to navigate quite a few pages before they reach your products.

That’s not to say that keeping and writing a company blog or news pages is going to harm your site in any way, but there is a large distinction to be made between in-house staff adding knowledgeable and informed content and an external agency using it as a dumping ground for keyword stuffed articles.

Examples

Rather than picking out and linking to any sites in particular I found the example below on a paydays loans site. As you can see, it’s not particularly compelling to visitors, fairly keyword heavy along with a lack of images and calls to action. I would expect a page like this to suffer from a very high bounce rate and a minuscule sales conversion rate.

Resources, FAQs And How To Guides

Description

Resource guides, cheat sheets and how to articles are brilliant sources of great quality content if you are an expert on a topic. Even if you’re not a  fountain of knowledge you can easily research topics well enough to write an influential guide for others.

The great thing about this type of content is that it tends to attract topical links from closely related sites over a longer period of time, and because of it’s text heavy nature and the number of links that it attracts you will find that these type of articles frequently rank very well for a wide range of generic and long-tail key phrases.

However this type of content isn’t often going to convert into sales directly, but the branding a link benefits often result in secondary traffic from SEO, brand recognition or word of mouth.

Examples

Yoast – WordPress SEO

Yoast is a very well-known SEO who specialises in WordPress, he wrote the definitive guide to WordPress SEO which attracted hundreds of topical links and social shares.

The Mashable Twitter Guide Book

Social media website Mashable launched a Twitter guide book in both an online and downloadable pdf versions.With an impressive 16k Tweets and over 5,000 links to date.


Linkbait

Description

Linkbait covers a wide rage of content types, and really encompasses anything that is specifically designed to elicit a link from other websites or more recently, sharing on social media websites. Linkbait can range from anything from a funny image or video, controversial views or interesting top 10 type lists.

Again SEO behaviour is very similar to resources and how-to guides, linkbait won’t often result in direct sales, but will often attract links far better than other types of content.

Examples

Will It Blend? iPad

A really clever viral video linkbait from Blendtec piggybacking onto aspirational nature of the Apple iPad, while using the shock of destroying one to send it viral.

Berocca – Blogger Relief

Berocca used a free giveaway in conjunction with a blogger outreach programme in order to directly target the linkerati themselves. Using social media to promote the campaign and the the bloggers themselves to spread the word.

 

Infographics

Description

Strictly speaking inforgraphics would probably fall within the linkbait category, but I think their usage is now so widespread that they deserve a mention on their own.

Infographics are an attractive, visual presentation of statistics and data, however they are often criticised for over-simplifying data and not indicating facts are clearly as possible.

Scientific they are not, but they do tend to be viral magnets, people seem to be far more willing to link to or share data presented as an infographic that other forms of information.

Examples

Profile Of A Twitter User

Taking inspiration from a Guy Kawasaki tweet NG Online News put together this quirky infographic that spread like wildfire on Twitter.

The Spread Of Starbucks

Princeton University in conjunction with Flaming Toast Productions created a really interesting infographic detailing the spread of Starbucks coffee shops worldwide.

Optimised Product Copy

Description

I think that well optimised product copy is one area where many eCommerce websites are really missing a trick. You see so many with short inadequate product and category descriptions, or sometimes missing altogether. It’s all very well adding 2-3 keywords to your title tags, meta descriptions and H1 titles, but given the opportunity there is a wealth of long-tail keywords that you could also have the opportunity of getting traffic from.

Of course there are often design and branding implications that often limit the copy available on a page, but it really is worth trying to work through these issues in order to try to offer more extensive page copy. Being able to answer sales queries before they arise will also improve conversion rates and reduce the time your staff spend answering telephone or email queries.

Taking a fictitious example of a website with a category page selling toasters. You may expect to have optimised the page for key phrases such as Toaster, Sandwich Toaster etc. But if you did a little keyword research around the topic you could probably pull in  a few hundred other phrases that were used in conjunction with “toaster” each month. In this example the full list is over 400 phrases long.

Passing this list onto your copywriter and asking them to include these secondary phrases in the body text on product and category pages will have a huge impact on relevant long-tail traffic and sales to the site.

In terms of a financial impact, for example a website that has a modest 200 products, even adding 5 extra visitors per day to each product page will result in an extra £164,250 in increased revenue assuming a £30 average sale and a 1.5% conversion rate.

Examples

Simply one of the best product pages that I have ever seen is at Firebox. Product pages are immensely detailed, well written and optimised so each one should receive a large amount of long-tail keyphrase traffic. They have also incorporated social media voting, comments, videos and user reviews and FAQs. This is almost perfect in terms of creating a huge amount of content on normally difficult to optimise product pages.

Breaking News

Description

Being first to breaking news is a great way of going viral without too much effort. Of course it’s not easy to be first to the punch, but if you have inside knowledge and the ability to publish before others you will often find that you get cited and referenced on other websites that write subsequent articles.

Examples

One of the best examples of the power of breaking news is Gizmodo managing to break details of the next Apple iPhone when a prototype was lost in a bar. The story received a massive 245,000 Facebook likes and almost 10,000 links.

UGC And Reviews

Description

UGC content for eCommerce sites is really a no brainer for most sites these days. Being relatively easy to implement on most eCommerce platforms and easy to promote using reminder and follow-up emails to recent customers.

Where UGC really comes into it’s own is in competing for long-tail search phrases. Often your customers may use non-industry terms and phrases that you haven’t included in your original page optimisation.

Examples

Argos along with most large online retailers have been encouraging user product reviews on their websites for some time. Users as well as being able to leave star ratings for products are encouraged to leave more detailed text descriptions and reviews.

Widgets and Badges

Description

Although widgets and badges tend to fall far more into the off-site SEO remit I think they’re an important enough part of a promotion stratgey that they can fall into both on and off page strategies.
Often these can be used in conjunction with other content strategies such as generating top 100 lists of industry sites and asking those in the list to link back, or producing infographics with easy embed codes.

Examples

AdAge Digital produce a “Power 150″ of the top 150 worldwide marketing blogs. Members of the list can of course download versions of the badge to use on their blogs and Facebook pages.

Link Acquisition Rates

The graph below shows the typical link acquisition rates that you would expect to see over time from different types of content. The vertical axis represents the level of activity (links and social shares) and the horizontal axis the phase in the content cycle.

Content types such as infographics tend to attract a lot of links very quickly as they usually perform well on social bookmarking sites and get embedded on related blogs. This activity usually tails-off over time.

Compare this to content such as resources and how-to articles, which if well written then often sharing activity increases over time, and in the long-term can be a stable source of good quality links.

Conclusions

The main takeaways are that although content is vital to eCommerce websites, it has to be the right kind of content used in the right way. The best content strategy is one that is diverse and encompasses many of the above methods rather than focusing on one particualar one.

Matt

July 12th, 2011.

Why Google Plus will fail

Google+ launched a couple of weeks ago, and now the dust has started to settle on what is Google’s most important project to date outside of search.

So how will + be received and what are the chances of long-term success? Launching a social network is always going to be tough, even tougher when your aim is to replace Facebook, however Google have done themselves no favours with their launch strategy.

The invites scheme sucks

While an invite scheme works really well at generating launch buzz around non-social products such as GMail for instance, for social networks restrictions on sign ups can be a major contribution to their failure. Exclusivity obviously restricts the number of people that are able to sign up in the early stages. When Google+ was first announced they benefited from a tremendous amount of mainstream media coverage, since then while industry chatter has grown, the mainstream coverage has tailed-off. This may be have been an unmissable opportunity to get mainstream sign ups on the site.

Google are terrible at social

Google actually have a terrible record of ‘doing’ social media, a long list of failures lie in their wake – Google Wave, Buzz, Voice, Orkut, etc. Getting people to talk about Google products has never been an issue, getting them to use them has.

Critical mass

For a social network to succeed in the long-term they have to reach a critical mass of users. It’s not easy to persuade people to join a social network, and it’s even less easy to persuade them to move networks. People aren’t likely to move over to Google+ while their friends are still on Facebook.

Wrong choice of early adopters

When MySpace launched it did so with a sprinkling of cool bands and music promos. Facebook grew exclusively off of the back of college students in the US. Who did Google choose to be their path-finding early adopters? Geekerati and Internet marketers. Hmmm

Too easy for Facebook to counter?

While the Google+ circles are a great idea and is touted as being Googles game-changer, I love the concept of being able to share certain content with certain groups of users, but plus is not exactly groundbreaking elsewhere in terms of features and functionality, I was actually pretty disappointed at the lack of new ideas and features when I first signed-up. Facebook lists already exist, and I’m fairly sure that Facebook are already looking at extending the sharing functionality around these.

Martina Martina

March 25th, 2011.

What colour hat matches your shoes?

Ok, this isn’t a post about fashion.

If you are familiar with the various SEO techniques that exist, then you might already be familiar with the infamous ‘hats’ and what they all stand for. If you have no idea what I am talking about – you should definitely read on.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is the nice clean cut, ethical and moral way to practice SEO. This hat represents by-the-book SEO that doesn’t cause harm or upset to anyone because every success is the result of hard work and quick thinking.

Black Hat SEO

This is known as SEO from the dark-side. Bending search engine rules, adopting various naughty techniques and deceiving Google to achieve a quick result in a short space of time. Techniques include things like putting invisible hidden text on web-pages, cloaking – whereby a web user is redirected to a different webpage than they initially searched for, keyword flooding – using hundreds of paragraphs on any one page including every keyword you are bidding for…the list goes on…

Grey Hat SEO

In a palette, black mixed with white = grey, well the same thing counts here.
Tactics used that cannot be clearly described either as ethical or unethical but sit in the middle of the two, are ‘grey hat’. While grey hat SEO is often frowned upon, it is unlikely to cause a site to be banned or shut down…take from that what you will…

Green Hat SEO

New to the collection of hats, green hat SEO represents a less tactical approach and a more procedural one with the main aim of increasing the amount of visitors to a website. Focus is placed on creating brand awareness, becoming trustworthy and gaining customer loyalty as opposed to targeting keywords that will increase impressions and click-through rates only for the user to find that the pages on your website are not relevant to them anyway. It seems the ‘green’ element relates to being friendly (think eco)…the customer is the focus, and the aim is to make them happy.

Blue Hat SEO

This one isn’t “official” just yet and many SEO’s may refuse to accept it. Others however, will understand this hat as one that relates to what is essentially advanced white hat practices. In plain terms, these are advanced internet marketing and SEO techniques that get the results you want in the best way possible without annoying or upsetting anyone. This is not to say that blue hatters are not aware of black hat practices, in-fact it is quite the opposite, blue hatters have an advanced knowledge of both hats, and use this knowledge in a creative way enabling them to manipulate search engines in a way that benefits their site.

So choose your hats wisely and happy SEO-ing :-)

Martina Martina

March 11th, 2011.

Slightly immoral and unethical ways companies might use Google Adwords to generate business…

In July 2010, ‘Goldtrail holidays‘ a British tour operator, collapsed leaving thousands of holidaymakers abroad when it went into administration.

It took no time at all for fellow tour operators to see this as a great way to generate business. ‘EasyJet’, ‘Fly Thomas Cook’ and ‘Sunwings’ were but some of a few who cottoned onto this and broke a fundamental rule – bidding on a brand-name term that isn’t your own.

Nevertheless, a search query using the term “Goldtrail” or “Goldtrail holidays” returned adverts for cheap holidays abroad and the like. Of course Google would have had to allow this, and probably didn’t act on it because at that point, technically, Goldtrail was no longer an actual legal entity.

The recent Earthquake disaster in Japan, hitting 8.9 on the Richter-scale and sparking off several Tsunamis’, is all over the news and the internet today. It isn’t a brand name, but could this idea be adapted and used as a possible gateway for business? For example, charities pushing sponsorship in the third-world for instance, might post adverts asking for financial help in countries where natural disasters are common by using the words “Japan disaster” “Japan” “Tsunami” “Japan earthquake” “Japan Tsunami” etc, as a broad match – or any keywords that are relevant to this recent tragic disaster.

Click the thumbnails below to see some search terms that are fairly popular at the moment due to current events, and have little competition:


If ads are tactically written so that technically they are not breaching any rules or regulations – like the Goldtrail example above – and instead are tugging at peoples heart strings, this might work.

It seems fine until you consider how this could be misused, for example by charities who take most of what is donated to them and use it to pay “administration fees” and “business costs” before any of it makes it overseas to those in actual need.

You never know…

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