February 14th, 2013.
Linkbait. The One True Love of the Content Makers.
That essential tool in the arsenal of online marketer, Linkbait is content designed to attract the attention of other web users by baiting them to link to it (see?).
Linkbait isn’t just ordinary content. Blog posts are easy; but making something that your industry will want to share and celebrate is a different ballgame entirely.
Linkbait can come from a stroke of genius or hours of planning, or both. As long as people look at it as either a resource for their industry or something novel and entertaining, there’s no reason it shouldn’t attract links from the right people.
More links means more traffic and better SEO!
So we know you’ve already made a killer piece of content. You’re just here to find out how to spread it around properly, right? Well fret no more, Ladies and Gentlemen. We present:
The Datadial Original ‘Guide to Content Appreciation’ Triangle.
Ok, Calm down. We know it looks overwhelmingly complicated, but let me explain exactly how it works:
LEVEL 0 – Creation:
The whole thing works on the basis that you already have a piece of original content that you think will attract attention from your peers in industry. Whether it’s a video explaining how Les Miserables is a great model for growing your start-up, or an infographic explaining the best way to seed Linkbait, as long as you think people will be able to use it; you’re on track.
Level 1 – Social Media:
This is the most basic type of seeding. It’s an essential step, but exposure will be limited to the size of your following. If you’re lucky, your content might be Shared, Retweeted or +1’d to a wider audience. It’s possible that you have 6 million followers on Twitter, but if you don’t it might be worth taking measures to grow your following. Social sharing is a self-fulfilling process – the more people share it, the more people see it. The more people see it, the better the chance of them sharing it.
Level 2 – Social News Sites:
This is a stage that requires a bit more work and skill. Sites like Newsvine, Digg and Reddit allow users to submit links and articles to be read and reviewed by their peers. These sites are community-powered and collaborative.
– Newsvine is more news-based and content is reviewed by site-users who can indicate good content by clicking the ‘Seed Newsvine’ option. The more people who seed it, the more it spreads.
– Digg is a little serious but reflects a community interested in alternative news and modern trends. Content is promoted by clicking the ‘Digg’ button and the more Diggs an article gets, the higher it climbs on the front page.
– Reddit has the potential to be the strongest tool in your Content Sharing arsenal. Reddit is, in essence a news/link/media sharing site which is comprised of niche special-interest Subreddits. There are Subreddits for pretty much anything you can think of, from /r/pokemon to /r/indiegaming. Finding the right Subreddits to seed your content is key, and if the community like it; you’ll reap the rewards.
My Top Tips for Submitting to Social News sites:
1) Think of a catchy title to draw people in and make it seem newsworthy. (‘New Study Shows Horses are Just Really Big Dogs’ is a lot catchier than ‘I read an article earlier about how horses are really big dogs and I thought I’d share it with you on here’).
2) Don’t offend the community. There’s a certain tribalism associated with community-based social sites and it would be a faux-pas to insult the people you are trying to impress. (‘Redditors Might Benefit from this Spell-Checking Plug-in’ works better than ‘Redditors Can’t Spell!’)
3) Don’t be too self-serving; for some reason people think it’s less authentic to promote your own work than to find something organically. (‘Cool Infographic about Seeding Linkbait’ works better than ‘I made this amazing article about Seeding Linkbait).
Level 3 – The Newsiest Blogs in Town:
These are the former Search Engine Contenders that for the most part have bowed out of the Search Wars to focus on other parts of user experience. They’ve become pinnacles of the online news world, and although they’re still somewhat community-focussed, they are edited. They now support a news format with a kind of blog/online magazine layout. Emailing the editors of relevant sections with your ideas could earn a link to your content and massively improve your exposure.
Level 4 – Industry Specialists:
If you’ve written a post on ‘Implementing Google Authorship to aid SEO’, you might consider contacting SEOMoz or other industry leaders to see if they’re interest in the resource you’ve created. One tweet from a well-followed industry leader is worth more than an email to everyone in your address book. If your specialism is music you might contact a blog such as Pitchfork or AllMusic; and if books are your forte, Waterstone’s are industry leaders. Specialism can extend into things as niche as genre, so don’t hesitate to hunt for the best blogs in your industry.
Level 5 – Actual News Sites:
If your content is really a revolutionary resource you might consider contacting the editors of international media and news sites. The Guardian, The Times or The Huffington Post could (if targeted properly) gain you worldwide exposure. If your content isn’t up to scratch, you’ll just be wasting your time, but a carefully strategized approach could land you on the pages of the centres of global news reporting.
Level 6 – The BBC:
Only one step up from The Huffington Post, but perhaps a world apart. The BBC departs from the idea of community-based news reporting and presents itself as the leading resource for news. You can submit news stories to the BBC and its various subsections, but since they are keen to avoid any undue consideration in news reporting, the only way to get an acknowledgement from this avenue would probably be to create something that actively changes how people think about your industry.
Some Final Notes on the D.O.G.C.A.T.
Three factors that seem to change as you move up the ladder are cost, difficulty and exposure.
Cost is actually higher on level 1 than level 6. Using paid methods of promoting your material on Social Networks can be very useful. In fact, the clever clogs in charge of these outlets have been sure to make sure spending money is easy and will benefit you. However, as you move up the D.O.G.C.A.T., cost is no problem. You can’t buy your way onto the pages of reputable news sites, but truly strong content dressed up properly can be submitted for consideration for free.
If you’ve already got social media plug-ins installed, spreading your content on Level 1 is a cakewalk. You literally have to do nothing. Isn’t the internet amazing? That said, by relying on the automated service alone you probably won’t see the benefit. Pumping your content back into the mixer will ensure more people will have a chance to see it and click through. Level 2 requires only an idea of what that particular online community are looking for; but from Levels 3 to 6 it becomes much harder. The content must be of an incredibly high standard and it will help to have a point of contact in the business rather than emailing ‘email@example.com’.
Level 1 could go one way or the other in terms of exposure. On the one hand, if you run the social media for a multi-national corporation; you’ll probably have a big following and high exposure. If you’re a local fruit shop, you might find significantly less exposure. Level 2 can offer a high level of exposure if your submission proves possible; but as we’ve said, this requires a certain level of skill. It goes without saying that a lot of people read news websites, so Levels 3-6 will be guaranteed high-exposure.
We hope you find the D.O.G.C.A.T. as useful as it definitely is.
It will probably change the industry.
…BBC here we come.
January 3rd, 2013.
Customers are selfish lovers. They want to receive a lot more than they want to give, but treat them right and they’ll stay with you forever.
Advertising, reputation and great offers have always been at the forefront of all marketing; but the world is changing. TV spots and billboards aren’t enough anymore.
In a digital age, where choice is encouraged and variety is celebrated; how do you keep your customers’ eyes from wandering? Let’s take a look at some key aspects of ensuring your brand stays strong online.
Make sure your web address is as simple as possible. Leave no room for error in spelling, reading or punctuation of your company’s web address.
Learn from the mistakes of French tree-surgeons ‘Les Bocages’: ‘www.lesbocages.com’.
And never be afraid to abbreviate to make the address more memorable and remove any room for error, as in Cancer Research UK: ‘www.cruk.org’.
Customers love a brand they can trust. Featuring endorsements on your page from other trusted online service providers can be a ringing thumbs-up in terms of brand appeal.
Authentication exists for both payment transfer services and any sensitive data entry services.
In any case, having an international corporation’s logo as a stamp-of-approval on your site can only help to improve your brand’s reputation in the eyes of your customers.
First impressions are everything in business. You wouldn’t want a customer to walk into your shop and be met with a messy, confusing or overwhelming store layout and the same should apply to your website. Matt (?) gives an excellent idea on how not to design your website right here at the Datadial blog. For an idea of a nice way to design a website, look to your own favourite websites. For me, the Reddit interface is massively simple and uncluttered; while Facebook seems to be in an eternal battle for usability, updating several times each year.
Customer Service (e-chat)
Customers like to believe you’re willing to help them whenever they might have a problem. Many online services offer a kind of helpline in the form of e-chat services. This would be especially useful in cases where technical support is likely to be required, but don’t overlook the benefit of offering this facility for things as simple as order tracking or site navigation. Simply offering a helping hand can be enough to encourage your customers to trust in your brand.
Take Rewards Online
We’re all familiar with that sly loyalty trick: coupon collecting. Collecting wrappers and tokens from sweets, drinks and cereal boxes is nothing new, but linking these items to exclusive online content will drive traffic to your website and revamp your presence on the web. Encouraging social media users to Tweet, Share, Like and Comment on your competitions will further increase involvement and exposure to a wider audience.
If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you 1,000,000,000,000,000 times: Content is King. In the big bad world of internet marketing, the only guaranteed way to get people to engage with your brand and thus build your brand’s reputation is to create fresh new content that is relevant to your target audience. If you’re offering the latest industry news; the best competitions and the most entertaining media, you’ll see a high amount of traffic and a big boost to your reputation.
In the same vein as content creation is viral marketing. Suddenly the greedy customers who only want to receive are paying you back with page views and backlinks. And they don’t even realise how much they’re helping! If you post a totally original super hilarious video on your site and it goes viral, you’ll see the page (and your site) grow in strength as interest grows.
Think of something like the not-even-slightly household name ‘BlendTec’. You’ve probably already forgotten the name, but you’ve definitely seen their viral marketing campaign. ‘Will It Blend?’
If videos aren’t your thing, you can take advantage of the spreadability of online content by sharing stories about your brand. Whether intentionally or not, Sainsbury’s were on everyone’s digital lips last year when they followed a 3 year-old girl’s advice to change ‘Tiger Bread’ to ‘Giraffe Bread’.
Whatever your brand, don’t look at Online Marketing as a challenge to overcome. Think of it as a tool to increase your exposure and improve your reach.
December 5th, 2012.
Aside from staggering wealth and undeserved attention, one of the things that I’ve always associated with The Royal Family is their strategic but reserved PR coverage.
I remember when the Queen Mother passed on. The news was broken by a headed-letter placed at the gates of the palace. 10-Years-On, the world has changed. In the age of Social Media and online press, would they still have delivered the statement in this way? I doubt it.
It would be a waste of paper.
Buckingham Palace is moving into the modern age, and I think that’s a step in the right direction.
Following the announcement at The D and D of C’s website that there is to be a Royal Baby, the whole world has gone Royal Baby crazy. For an idea of what the baby will look like, The Poke gives a pretty scientific model. For an idea about names, namethatroyalbaby.com is the place to go. As The Royal Baby still hasn’t developed a skeleton and is smaller than an apple, all we can be sure of is it will be a PR dream-come-true. So I thought I’d write a guide for Content Marketing that The Palace can use to promote the infant once it’s born.
…Other readers might also find it useful for their company’s Content Marketing Strategy.
There can be little doubt that content marketing should be a central focus of your digital marketing plan. It’s alleged that 19% of Internet Users now get their news from Social Media. I can attest to this: having spent most of yesterday avoiding social media platforms in case I saw spoilers for the Boardwalk Empire Season Finale, I only found out about the Royal Baby this morning when I was on Twitter researching coverage of the Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. But with 400 million Tweets being sent per day, and 1 Billion Facebookers scrolling through content all day long; how can you make the Royal Baby (or your product) get the attention you think it deserves.
SECTION 1: Competiting for Attention
As with any content production, you need to know your audience.
When it comes to Content Marketing, often it will pay dividends to build-your-own audience. Obviously the current market-share for people interested in the Royal Baby is lower than it could be. Create content that evokes people’s curiosity and encourages them to come back for more. A weekly feature called ‘Ask Royal Baby’ where Royal Baby answers Tweets on a YouTube Channel, or takes part in a Google+ Hangout would be ideal. Tweets featuring #AskRoyalBaby will stand out in the stream, and the Sharability of videos means you’ll see huge coverage, and a huge amount of attention.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: You might benefit from an ‘Ask an Expert’ style weekly blog that runs along the same lines.)
As well as being current with what you output, you need to be current in how you output. It’s no secret that the ease and simplicity of mobile internet has made the trials of turning on a computer a thing of the past. React to new releases in the digital consumer world before your competitors and you’re bound to see the benefits before them. You might consider releasing an App with minute-by-minute news and updates straight from Royal Baby central. As new technology reveals itself, don’t be afraid to take chances on new ideas. You never know – Royal Baby could be the first star of Holographic Video Blogs!
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Make sure you’re aware of growing interest in different areas of media consumption. A fairly basic App could be a really innovative way to interact with your customers, or distribute your Blog and Newsletter).
Section 2: Original Content
You are probably asking yourself ‘How Do I Remain Current AND Still Stay Original?’
Simply put, I would say the most efficient and effective way to combine these two things is to put new slants on established concepts. Make things that people will find entertaining or useful and, importantly, things people will want to share. These are all concepts you’ll be very familiar with, but for clarity and usefulness, here are all of them:
How-To – Accessible Application of Expertise
This could be anything from your typical ‘How to’ Video Tutorials (‘How to change Royal Baby’s Nappy’; ‘How to Dress Like Royal Baby’ etc.), to Un-Paid (or even Paid) Teleclasses such as ‘How to Prepare Royal Baby’s Dinner in 10 Easy Lessons’ or ‘Why Is Royal Baby Crying?: A Five Week Course’. People will visit your company’s page to turn their interest into expertise. The more variety of ‘How-Tos’ you offer, the more visitors you’ll attract.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Share the knowledge in your field of expertise. ‘How to Revamp Your Webpage’ or ‘5 Ways to Make Your Own Furniture’ would work equally well. And like I say, you can name your price if you don’t feel like giving your secrets away for free.)
Also: don’t underestimate the power of E-mails. You can offer E-mail guides which could be more cost effective and a lot simpler if your professional interest is more technical.
You already have regular news updates on your website, so why not offer a weekly or fortnightly specialist post. Much like SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday where SEO concepts are described by a professional using a White Board to illustrate their points; you could offer a an insight into Royal Baby’s lifestyle from the people who know him or her best. ‘Royal Family Friday’ would be an excellent platform to get visitors to your website. Short interviews with members of The Royal Family talking about Royal Baby are sure to bring in hits. Think how many people tune in for The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. Imagine how much traffic she could bring in each week just talking about Royal Baby’s antics. It’s an untapped gold mine.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Think what regular features would interest your audience. If you run a management blog, it could be worthwhile interviewing managers from different industries each week on ‘My Manager Monday’. If you run a Travel Agency, you could have reviews of different holidays from people who have just returned home in a weekly ‘Airport Arrivals’. The scope is huge, but as long as people will be interested and willing to share it, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try!
This is an incredibly straightforward and well-used format. It’s basically an entertaining list of things related to your company. It doesn’t even need to be 10! You might go for ‘The Top 10 Mushed Food Royal Baby Loves’ or ‘5 Toys Royal Baby Can’t Sleep Without’.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Come on… This is an easy one. Just make sure you’re relevant and interesting!)
Twitter Campaigns – Make Your Content Live in the Stream
The top thing to remember when using Twitter for a marketing campaign is that it should be 95% relationship building and only 5% selling. Twitter is predominantly a social platform. People want to see the latest thoughts from their friends and celebrity interests in their stream, so flagrant advertising sticks out like a sore thumb…
A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued on…
A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued onto a mouse’s back….
Ok, maybe that’s too much. The point is: it’s obvious and unwelcome. If you only tell your followers about Royal Baby merchandise all day, you’ll be doomed to fail as people don’t just want to be sold things. If you actively engage with your followers by replying to their tweets and sharing pictures and videos, you’ll probably find them much more susceptible to being sold Royal Baby calendars and car accessories.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. At the minimum, you could use the platform to promote news from your company and share content. If you are a reasonably well-established company with thousands of followers, you could start a Twitter Event. Stage a giveaway for the 1,000th retweet, or start a Hashtag idea like #ReplaceSongNamesWithCarParts or #CarPartFootballerNames. If it’s funny and accessible, people will be weighing in with their own ideas in no time, (but if it spreads too far you probably won’t get the recognition for creating it).
Compare whatever you’re writing about with a current news story
[See ‘Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!’ by Joe Shervell, or ‘What The Leveson Enquiry Can Teach Us about Tobacco Farming’ by nobody.]
Reproduce Advice You Gave a Client
If somebody phoned you this afternoon asking for your advice, they probably aren’t the only person who needs it. Turn a customer’s question into a ‘How-To’ (see above) or even a Video Q&A with the customer where all questions are asked and answered. This could be anything from ‘How Can I Join the Royal Baby Fanclub?’ to ‘Which University Will Royal Baby Attend? I Want My child to Marry Royalty’.
(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Judge the important problems your customers are brining to you and work on ways they can solve them by referring to your blog or online guides. Again, the more diverse the content, the wider the variety of visitors you’ll attract.
Never Underestimate the Power of Hard Copy
In the modern world, emails; messages; texts and tweets fly around our heads and across our field of vision faster than we could possibly process. It might be a refreshing and paradoxically novel idea to approach your audience with something fresh: hard copy letter or CDs or DVDs. You could send out hand-written letters to everyone citizen of Britain and the Countries of the former British Empire, signed with a poster-paint handprint by Royal Baby. This would be a massively personal way to reach every member of the target audience.
(If your product is not The Royal Baby: You could send out sales enquiries in hand-written letters, or send your Newsletter printed on card. This will instantly set you aside from everyone else in your industry and keep you at the forefront of the clients’ minds. Floppy Disks may stand out even more, but unless your client has been making a concerted effort to halt progress, they will only be useful as Coasters).
Section 3: Other Key Factors
Aside from the content itself, there are several theories worth bearing in mind.
Good Content = More Followers
Broadly speaking, the better the content, the more people will want to see more of it. These will be the subscribers; the followers; the digital friends; but crucially, the online customer base that is so essential for this type of marketing. The more people who are interested in Royal Baby, the easier it will be to tell them about Royal Baby.
Content Knows No Bounds
For the connected generation, everything is accessible on mobile. Whether it’s an article, picture or video; you can access it on your desktop, tablet, phone, TV or PS3, all at the same time! This means it’s never been easier to get the latest content from Royal Baby straight to the people you want to see it the most.
The More Natural, The Better the Results
The more your content fits into the platform you’re using, the better the engagement from the audience. ‘Sponsored Tweets’ look just like Regular Tweets (Except for the fact that they say ‘Sponsored Tweet’). To Johnny User, this is much more acceptable than the stapled-on banner ads we learned to ignore in 1997. It also puts the content directly in the stream, meaning even the most highly-trained content avoider has to give it a cursory glance. If you fill Royal Baby’s fans Timeline’s with pictures and Hilarious Demotivational Posters, you’ll find a much higher engagement than straight-up bit.ly links to RoyalBabyShop.Com.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Other People’s Success
Unfortunately, Royal Baby isn’t due to make an appearance until Spring 2013. This means he or she will be late for even the ‘Dead Horse Flogging’ phase of Gangnam Style. But you could recreate a timeless classic in the Sneezing Baby Panda video, with the Duchess of Cambridge nearly having a heart attack as Royal Baby sprays mucus everywhere. Or feature Royal Baby in a series of parody Old Spice adverts doing dangerous but awe-inspiring things like cliff-diving or riding a motorbike around the Large Hadron Collider.
Never overlook the importance of a Strategic Partnership with other brands. I’m sure Google will do some kind of logo to celebrate the baby being born. In fact, I’d put money on it. Other internet sensations Royal Baby could be involved with are:
– Twitter Feud with Nicki Minaj
– A Vice Documentary About Royal Baby
– Will It Blend?
Ok, I’m joking about the last one.
But there’s nothing wrong with partnerships. You’re judged by the company you keep, but if you can achieve extra exposure for your product then there’s no reason not to try it out.
Whether you’re promoting The Royal Baby, or a Digital Marketing Agency; original marketing that gets people talking and sharing is the way forward. Generate interest and you’ve made a step towards generating sales.
November 29th, 2012.
Every day we sign into Facebook, Twitter , Google+ and a plethora of other Social Media platforms. The content shared on these sites is limitless, and with new content being created and shared every day, the power of Social Media has never been stronger.
We are constantly told about the benefits of Social Media as an Online Marketing Strategy, but one question that I’ve been pondering is: What do the 700 million people who use these sites actually use them for?
I propose a three-pronged method of identifying social media users.
1) Those who seek to create new content for their online audience for a multitude of reasons and in a multitude of ways. (Creators)
2) Those who enjoy nothing more than engaging with online content and sharing it among their family, friends and professional peers. (Amplifiers)
3) Those of us who sign in just to see what our friends and family have been up to. (Voyeurs)
The spread of users across these three categories is far from even. As the following diagram comprehensively explains, the people responsible for creating new content are in a tiny minority, while most people are quite content to just observe what other people are creating.
So what type of user am I?
There is no easy answer to this question. I imagine most people fall under ‘a bit of each'; but here, I will give each User-Type a profile and you can see which you most identify with.
These are the people at the top of the content waterfall. People who focus on creating web content. Here are the different types:
Type 1: Raising Awareness/Expanding a Fan Base/Increasing Exposure
The creators with the most exposure are big brands with big followings. A company like Coca-Cola push new content all day every day. They want to keep people interested in their product and spread the good word. If people are sharing new pictures, competitions and media around Social Networks, it’s free promotion for the company and everyone’s a winner.
There’s obviously a sliding scale with the multi-nationals at one end and independent companies, artists, musicians and people trying to build a fan-base at the other end.
(If you’re on the digital marketing team of a big brand; an unsigned musician; or a celebrity, this is you).
Type 2: Staying Current/Inspiring Ideas/Informing
Other creators might be Bloggers or companies who offer online services. They spark discussion about topics and, as their content is shared in email or social networks, they build more of a following. New content is important for these people. Staying fresh and current in the SEO-driven world requires a focus on innovative ideas and compelling writing.
(If you’re a Blogger, SEO or Redditor, this is you)
Type 3: Have-a-Go Heroes
The final type of creator is anyone else who posts on any Social Media Platform. The people who Tweet about their breakfast; or Instagram pictures of the weather; or update Facebook after a successful bowel movement. The people who just want to share their lives with their contacts. Features such as ‘Checking-in’ and ‘Tagging’ on Facebook enable these users the opportunity to be as detailed as they could possibly be when creating new content. The more they tag, the bigger their audience becomes. Mobile technology means that essentially anyone with thumbs can be this type of creator.
(If you have an internet connection, this is probably you)
The Amplifiers of Social Media can be broken into similar sections, as such:
Type 1: Shameless Self-Promoters
This is the type of Amplifier who tries to get their own content as much attention as they can. For example, a Blog-Post writer at an internet marketing company might Tweet a link to his post for his followers to see. His Twitter account is linked to his Facebook page, so it will also post the link to Facebook. He might then post a link to the page on Reddit; Submit the page to Stumbleupon; +1 the page on Google+; Pin the page on Pinterest; e-mail the page to all of his friends; write a letter containing the URL to his Great Aunt; Spray paint the link under a railway bridge or just go door-to-door asking people to visit his page. If he’s lucky, his followers, friends and associates will give the post the same treatment; retweeting it and sharing it around their own online networks and this will get the post the recognition it deserves.
(If you are trying to increase exposure to your own content, this is you)
Type 2: Subject Gurus
These are the types of Amplifiers who are considered (by themselves at least) to be experts in their field of interest. They will follow anyone who shows an interest in their subject and retweet, comment and increase awareness of the content they view to be of a high standard. This could be @DogFoodCentral Retweeting your comment about the new biscuits you bought your Labrador, or it might be @MattCutts raising awareness of your worthwhile post about Google’s Interpretation of HTML Tags. In any case, these are people who have an online following interested in a particular subject. They acknowledge that responsibility by sharing the best content in that field.
(If you are an online expert on anything, this is you)
Type 3: Fankids
These are the people who share content from their favourite bands, celebrities or artists. There are pages and sites dedicated to sharing the content put out by pop-cultural icons from all walks of life. Many artists have modern-day Fan Clubs in the form of Fan Pages and Groups on Facebook. There are also a growing number of Twitter accounts dedicated to Retweeting people talking about the artist. For example the frankly confusing account dedicated to 2010’s 4th Place X-Factor Contestant, Cher Lloyd:
For an example of the hype that can be created by Fankids, look at a fairly innocuous Tweet from a young boy named Justin Bieber:
That was Retweeted by more people than could fill Wembley Stadium.
Take a moment to process that…
Now, I’ve got nothing against Justin Bieber. I’m sure he’s completely deserving of the attention he receives for quoting other people’s lyrics. But I’m sure if an 18 year old boy doing an Apprenticeship at a local City College had Tweeted the same sentiment, it might not have generated quite the same buzz…
Fankids share their love of artists to an alarming level of dedication, making them a huge part of the Amplification process.
(If you are obsessed with someone online, this is you)
Type 4: Keyboard Keensters
This applies to anyone else who interacts with online content. Casual Social Networkers who either want to get involved with the technology or just keep up with their friends. They will retweet @sportsquotesoffical or whatever sage advice is being handed out by @charliesheen that day. They will comment on each other’s photos with material that 5 years ago would have been confined to a text message or phone-call. They will like their friend’s status updates, share photos from their favourite singer’s pages; but still be fairly restricted to slightly extended group of people that they probably see on a day-to-day basis anyway.
(If you spend much of your time on Social Networking sites, but don’t like posting, this is you)
This is less easy to break into different segments since we are all guilty of it in some way. By Voyeurism I mean the idea of looking and not touching. Seeing but not interacting. The idea of voyeurism conjures up a lot of negative connotations, but I think it is exceedingly appropriate here– especially in an age where privacy is flouted just as much as it is protected. There’s something kind of perverse about how most of us use Social Media. Every day we log on and trawl through updates of people we probably wouldn’t even think about were it not for this fairly unnecessary level of connectivity.
I’m in the age bracket where people start to have children. I’m sure having a child is the most precious thing in the world, and I’m sure when I have children I’ll want to share it with everyone I know. But at the same time, I find it almost unsettling that I’m being exposed to an enormous number of such life events by people I barely know and may never physically meet again. We invite people who are essentially strangers to share in our successes and failures, knowing that they probably don’t care. We watch people’s lives go by in our Newsfeeds and learn more about them than we care to know; but in many cases we wouldn’t even say hello if we passed them in the street.
And we still log on every day to do the same.
Looking but not clicking.
…Welcome to digital voyeurism.
So Why Should I Care About This?
It’s important to recognise who will be using your content and what they will be using it for. If you want to get a killer video out there; or you want more people to spread your latest blog post you need to think of ways to turn Voyeurs into Amplifiers, and Amplifiers into Super-Amplifiers. You might offer a prize for the 1000th Retweet or comment. You might reward commenters by commenting back with feedback. People like to know their opinions are being heard, and the more links you build on that personal level, the more people will connect with your company and the more they’ll come back. Get visitors active, and then reward their activity.
As a planet, we’ve never been so connected. The next stage for online commerce is activating the potential to interact with all of their potential customers. Things like Google Authorship are a step away from online anonymity and a stronger sense of community.
Put the effort into engaging the visitors to your site and you’ll see the benefits in no time.
May 18th, 2012.
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 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.
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.
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:
- “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!
May 18th, 2012.
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
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.
May 18th, 2012.
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.
February 22nd, 2012.
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:
Embed this- Sharing is Caring!
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.
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.
August 11th, 2011.
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:
Use the following code to post the full infographic to your blog:
<a href=”http://picturepush.com/public/6293344″><img src=”http://www1.picturepush.com/photo/a/6293344/img/6293344.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Image Hosted by PicturePush – Photo Sharing” /></a>
July 25th, 2011.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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! :-)
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Profile Of A Twitter User
The Spread Of Starbucks
Optimised Product Copy
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.