Social Media « Datadial Blog
0208 6000 500

On the subject of Social Media

Matt

April 30th, 2010.

7 Things I Wish PR Agencies Would Understand About Social Media

With the growth of digital marketing and social media participation we’re now starting to see more and more PR agencies looking to online communities as a way of increasing their clients influence.
In my opinion a more organised and structured approach to social media can only be a good thing, used in the right way it can be a very powerful tool, however far too many companies are either not using it to its full advantage, or doing things badly and damaging their brand while isolating themselves from other social media users.

However that’s not to say that every PR agency jumping headfirst into Twitter and Facebook is doing a great job. I still see many agencies that don’t really have a full understanding of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Many cases tend to be client-led, with questions and requests for a social media strategy leading to hasty moves in order to win business and prevent existing clients from potentially looking elsewhere.

In our various dealings with agencies these are the topics that repeatedly seem to reappear…..

Content really does matter – Most Of Your Ideas Will Fail

  • The quality of the content is the key to any social media strategy
  • You can’t rely on contacts for success. There are no friendly journalists or editors that can swing a campaign with a well placed piece
  • Okay, good and great don’t cut it, if you’re relying on people to see your content and pass it on then it needs to be amazing, fantastic or brilliant
  • Let go of the brand – in many cases overuse of the client brand will turn a successful viral into blatant advertising that people have no inclination to pass-on.
  • The trickle-down effect is key to a successful campaign, brilliant content seeded onto key blogs, Twitter accounts and other social news sites will explode onto other social sites, smaller blogs and media outlets without you having to do anything.
  • Having said all of that, most of your great ideas will fail. There really is an element of being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of any good fortune that comes your way.

It Isn’t ALL about Twitter

  • Twitter at the moment tends to be used as a buzz-word for social media, desire to participate can often be driven by a CEOs 14 your-old daughter.
  • There are other social sites that are just AS important
  • Sites like Digg can potentially send far more traffic and is monitored constantly by journalists and influencers
  • A well seeded and targeted story on a sites like Digg and Reddit can translate into national and international press

Understand Your Audience

  • You need to understand not just who you’re talking to but why
  • Is your or your clients Twitter account supposed to be speaking to potential clients, existing customers or journalists, bloggers and the media?
  • Is Twitter and Facebook or Digg and Reddit the best way to connect with your linkerati?
  • Spend some time understanding where your targets are communicating with each other. Any time spent on competitor intelligence is worthwhile, but bear in mind they might not have got things right themselves.

Don’t Use Channels In Isolation, Look At The Bigger Picture

  • If you’re just using one social media network in isolation then you’re almost certainly underperforming
  • It’s usually a good idea to create a blog or news section on your client site and then use this as a ‘hub’ for all of their social media activity
  • Cross-promote your different networks, you’ll find that users will sign-up for other networks as well as the one they arrived from

It’s Not Just About What You Say But How You Say It

  • Syndicating content isn’t just about pushing a release through a network like PRWeb, if only things were that easy!
  • Draw up a list of targets for each release – blogs, news sites, media outlets, find their contact details and contact them directly as you would with any offline story.
  • Have some idea of the potential ‘influence’ of each target, record metrics such as domain authority, Compete rank, Technorati ranking, and look at the number of comments each article receives. The idea being you can then identify the top sites in a given vertical and prioritise where you focus your efforts. Remember if you can gain coverage on the larger sites the smaller ones tend to follow.

It’s All About Measurement And Metrics

  • The real advantage of being online is that everything is trackable. You can gain insight into where visitors arrived from, how long they spend on the site and where they move onto.
  • Use this data to understand which elements of your activity work and which ones don’t
  • Sign-up to a reputation monitoring service to track brand mentions online, you’ll almost certainly miss posts, mentions and articles if you don’t.
  • Have a clear plan as to which metrics are important and make sure you track them – visits, views, contacts, sales, comments, signups, links gained, search engine rankings can all be influenced by your activity – track it and report it.

Remember You Have No Control

  • Always remember you have no control over how things are passed-on and how they’re being received
  • Things aren’t always ‘on-brand’ – remember people pass things on because they like them, not because they help you or your clients
  • Be ready to react and respond directly to questions, be honest and professional at all times

Belles

April 14th, 2010.

Facebook PPC vs Google PPC

Many of us have the question in our minds trying to figure out whether they should use facebook ppc or Google ppc, but realistically the only way one can resolve this dilema is to try them both and measure the results over a period of time.

Facebook Ads:

  • Facebook ads are rapidly gaining in popularity and are very beneficial to small to medium size businesses, attempting to increase traffic with pay per click.
  • Facebook is currently showing up as having four hundred million active members and is the only company that Google actually acknowledges is a real competitor to them.
  • Facebook is pretty much untapped compared to PPC advertising on Google, Yahoo or Bing.  There is another big benefit to this type of advertising – if people like your business, they can pass “word of mouth” very easily to other people on facebook, and now you have happy customers doing your advertising.
  • Another fantastic advantage of facebook advertising is you can target a list of potential customers in a way that was never available before.  Demographic targeting means that facebook PPC clients will be able to set up their ads so that they only appear on the facebook pages of people who are tightly defined as part of their target market. For example, advertisers will be able to select from a number of options such as age, gender, marital status, geographical location, hobbies and interests. When ads are as well targeted as this, copy writing becomes a much easier process. You have a much better chance of generating targeted clicks to their sales pages.

Example of how to advertise on facebook

Google Ads:

  • Google pay per click advertising is a flexible, relatively low cost method of promoting your website and generating interest that can help you achieve your company’s targets.
  • It can be economical compared with more traditional advertising strategies.
  • The principles of pay per click advertising are straight forward – if a company is willing to place the highest bid for a keyword it will be ranked the highest on the search results page.
  • For short-term advertising campaigns, pay per click advertising is ideal – allowing organisations to change the copy of ads. as desired to reflect keyword changes.

In both cases the disadvantages of pay per click campaigns is if they are not monitored on a regular basis, ones company could end up spending more money than it made by pay per click advertising. The cost per click will remain the same rate, whatever your traffic levels are.

Rob

April 8th, 2010.

Social Media Principles from Coca Cola

 

This document is a great guide for anyone company setting up a Social Media policy for their company and employees.

Coca-Cola’s approach is mature and shows the situation that we have arrived at: that is to say that they cannot restrain their staff from writing about their job and their company in which they work but that in doing so this also comes with (social) responsibility.

I cant remember where I first found this but it was floating around on the Internet so apologies if you have seen it before.

Coca-cola – Online-Social-Media-Principles-12-2009

Belles

March 25th, 2010.

What is best for advertising your business on facebook a group or a fan page?

‘What page should I launch – a group or fan page?’ 

You are not alone in this question and here are some simple ways that might help you decide.

There are two ways on facebook you can advertise your business – a fan page or a group page.  Firstly, you should consider how you want to communicate with your audience, i.e. do you want to be an information source or do you want to engage your audience in dialogue? Both groups and fan pages allow you to create discussions and others to reply. Both have a wall for people to write on and allow you to share videos and pictures and require you to manually remove posts as an administrator if something does not meet your standards or purpose for the page.

Here are some points that can help you decide which is best for you:

Fan Pages

Example of a fanpage in facebook

  • Pages are similar to personal profiles on facebook, but used in a commercial capacity such as a celebrity, public figure, Brand, local business and so on.
  • Pages are essentially a profile for your business, which can also be viewed publicly by people who are not users of facebook.
  • Businesses can use fan pages to publish information, which is then picked up in status feeds of their fans.
  • facebook users can connect with their favourite artists and businesses through fan pages and also show their colleagues/friends what they care about.
  • Once a facebook user becomes a fan they then can recommend that page to other friends.
  • Pages have two walls, one which the Page owner writes, and one just for fans to write their own messages. Like a normal facebook profile, Pages have tabs that uncover more information.
  • Pages are better  for companies who want to interact with their fans or customers without having them connected to a personal account, and have a need to exceed facebook’s 5,000 friend cap.

In summary if you don’t want to mix your personal interactions with your business on facebook, then a fan page might be just want you need.  Your fan page can be strictly for your online business and will keep all your interactions steered towards your business contacts.

Groups

Example of a group page on facebook

  • These are generally better for hosting an active discussion and attracting fast attention.
  • Groups allow you to send out bulk invitations (for instance, you can ask all of your friends to join the group) and any of your group members can also invite their friends. If you have “friends” on your facebook page who are acquaintances or just share common interests this is a good way to market.
  • Groups are not public, but allow you to send messages that show up in a person’s Inbox, making more direct communication.
  • Group pages allow you to set other administrators to see who is requesting to join the group. If you post something to the group page, it will also show up on your personal wall. Some people don’t like this because it ties them to their businesses, but this can be useful in creating a “person behind the online business” feeling with your customers. You have more control over participants and permissions with group memberships.
  • A group, however, has a limitation of 5,000 members if you wish to send a message. They are generally considered to be best for more personal interaction.

In summary groups are great for organising on a personal level and for smaller scale interaction around a cause.

Regardless of which one you choose (of course, you can have both), be sure to update regularly, keep your audience engaged and offer something of value. If you use your fan page or group purely for promotional reasons, you are far less likely to build loyalty, and there’s a good chance that your members and friends won’t be returning to your pages anytime soon.

Matt

March 22nd, 2010.

The Social Media Penetration Of The Major UK Political Parties [INFOGRAPHIC]

With the UK elections fast approaching I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how well the major UK political parties were using social media to connect with voters.

With Barack Obama famously using social media to court the youth vote in the US elections, social media is now a viable  platform for politicians to connect with people on a large scale.

All of the UK parties are maintaining a social media presence, with Facebook pages, Twitter and YouTube accounts prominently linked from their respective websites. To take a snapshot of activity and a gauge of its success I recorded the following metrics,

  • Facebook page friends
  • Twitter followers
  • Twitter tweets
  • Twitter reach
  • Klout score – a measure of Twitter influence
  • Compete score – a measure of website traffic

While all parties get points for maintaining a social presence on the major social sites The Conservatives are way ahead of their competition when it comes to the number of raw followers and the reach of their campaign. The Green Party received the highest Klout score, a measure of their influence and interaction on Twitter.

Interestingly enough the extremist BNP received by far the largest level of traffic to their website, but were one of the lowest scorers when it came to followers and interaction levels – perhaps an indication of voters researching their headline grabbing policies, but a degree of unwillingness to follow and interact with them, will this translate into a lack of votes?

On the whole though the UK parties are doing a fairly poor job of leveraging and interacting with social media users. Compare the Conservatives 23,000 Facebook page friends with Obama’s profile currently over the 7.5 million mark. Even allowing for a smaller population and  lower levels of social media engagement it’s clear that campaigns are failing to achieve what they should be doing. It’s difficult to tell if this is due to campaign mis-management, or simply voter apathy after recent political events.

Matt

August 17th, 2009.

Is Social Media A Fad? The Social Media Revolution

Is social media a Fad? A lot of people believe it is. I hear countless times that Facebook will go the way of MySpace and that the Twitter bubble will burst. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re falling into the trap of believing that everyone uses the web in exactly the same way that they do.

When you actually break them down, the numbers and stats surrounding social media are truly staggering.

Some of my favourite social media stats……..

  • 77% of active internet users read blogs
  • 700 million pictures re added to Facebook monthly
  • Digg attracts 236 million users per month
  • 40 % of journalists use blogs to research their stories
  • 13 HOURS of video is uploaded to YouTube every MINUTE
  • Flickr contains more than 3.5 billion pictures. That’s one for every 2 people on the planet
  • 5 billion minutes spent on Facebook each day

For many many more have a watch of this……

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8[/youtube]

Rob

July 6th, 2009.

Just how social was Compare the Market campaign

meerkat

I attended the Online Marketing show at Olympia on Tuesday and listened to “How to implement a social media campaign” By Amelia Torcode, Partner and Head of Digital Strategy, VCCP.

VCCP and Amelia are now the darlings of the social media world following their successful Compare the Market/ Compare the Meerkat campaign.  Anna picked up an NMA award last week for the campaign.

I’ve got to say that I was a little disappointed by the presentation, especially on behalf of the delegates who had actually gone along in order to learn about Social Media Marketing.  All they got was a self indulgent “aren’t we wonderful” lecture on the Meerkat experience, along with a repeat of some of the adverts just in case you hadn’t quite got the message yet.  The talk cost £40 to attend so you would hope to learn something in return apart from how wonderful VCCP are.

But my main beef with the whole thing was actually the question of whether this was in fact a successful Social Media Campaign at all.  At its simplest VCCP came up with a cute idea, paid a huge amount to advertise it, set up a Twitter account and Facebook page and then encouraged the banter on these and other sites.  This has created incredible awareness and has kept a lot of people happy.  Site traffic has gone up 80%,  but still way below Confused.com. Succesful quotes have gone up 20%.

But was this really a social media campaign in its truest sense?  Could they have achieved a better result at a fraction of the price? Did they essentially miss the point of social marketing?

Social media is a method of generating discussion about your product or service within social network platforms seemingly without any effort being made by yourself.  In short you start a story, others pick it up and pass it around because its either funny, interesting or useful  If you get the story right you don’t need to spend any money because the “network” does the work for you. In VCCP’s case they (must have) spent a fortune on the development of a separate www.comparethemeerkat.com website and on the TV campaign, and in the process killing the average cost per conversion, although Anna claimed that this had come down by 21% but it was not clear that this took into account VCCP cost.

The point and beauty of social media is that you don’t need a TV campaign, the network does the work for you.  The message is passed on because people feel the need to.  And the number of people who link to your site ultimately help the Google rankings.  The actual spike in traffic is an irrelevance compared to the long term effect on Google rankings

On the point of search engine rankings, in her talk Anna started off by saying that Google was the benchmark around which the whole campaign was based but then did not mention Google from that moment in.  When I questioned her about the traffic from Google she was unable to answer as she had no stats and there was a separate agency altogether dealing with natural SEO. In fact any discussion about Google rankings or PPC had her flummoxed. I found this astounding.

I don’t want to knock Anna or the the meerkat campaign but it’s really interesting seeing the different approach that an Advertising agency can have to Social Media compared to a proper Online Marketing company. Advertising is all about brand awareness.  SEO is all about driving sales via the website.  As an SEO consultant myself I could not imagine implementing a campaign without keeping Google and other search stats at the forefront of any analysis of the campaign’s success.

Also I would have questioned a totally separate site, comparethemeerkat.com to be the backbone of the campaign.  Any self respecting SEO will tell you that for a social media campaign to be successful is to get people to link to your client site voluntarily which in turns helps rankings and therefore sales.  In this campaign as the majority of the new links will be pointed at the stand-alone Meerkat website.  In my opinion this is a huge miss of the campaign.  1000’s of lovely links all going to the wrong website – how depressing!

The only solution would be to 301 the meerkat website one day when no one is looking, though this is a huge social media faux-pas and could potentially lose them a lot of trust and goodwill.  Undoubtedly VCCP have been successful in raising awareness of CompareTheMarket but I am unconvinced about the benefits of the long term online presence.

If I was new to social media I would certainly have left none the wiser after this talk.  If I had been giving the talk I would have attempted to reveal the theory behind succesful social media marketing, explained how stories got picked up and spun about the web, how a traffic spike in itself is not important but the links that it brings, how the ultimate prize is rankings.  In short I would  have talked less about myself and more about how to help others, especially if I was charging £40!

Rob

June 26th, 2009.

12 things to check for your SEO Christmas checklist

santa-6-months-copy

Christmas 09 is only 4 months away.  No doubt you’ll already have your products organised and maybe some ideas on offline marketing but what about online marketing.

Because online marketing can take 4-6 months to “kick in” there’s no time like the present to activate your Christmas strategy.   So below are 12 timely reminders on what needs to be in place to ensure that your site delivers this Christmas in a way that would make Santa Claus proud.

1. Blogging – sounds similar to ‘tobogganing’ and is just as much fun

  • Simply, unless you are willing to put the time into adding useful and interesting content on your site then there really is little chance that the search engines will bother ranking you for anything more than your domain name.  You have to deserve to be number one.

2. Social Media – it’s time to get social (both online and off line) – and we don’t mean just churping along with the robins

  • Marketing is no longer a one way monologue.  It’s all about dialogue now and if you’re not up for a chat then users won’t listen.   If you say something  interesting then others will refer to it and pass it onto their friend – if it isn’t then they will talk about your competitors products instead.

3. Link Bait – lay the foundations now and reap the rewards by Christmas

  • How would you like say 500,000 more visitors to your site. Content will go viral if written properly – but before it goes viral make sure that your website can take the strain of the increase in visitor traffic.

4. Mouse tracking – discover how your customers behave online and throw them a lump of cheese…

  • Find out where people are clicking on your site and where they are getting confused. You’ll be surprised by how quickly and easily people get lost and move on elsewhere.  Make sure buttons like “Add to Basket” are big and easy to find (and look like buttons)Â

5. Cross-selling – if your customers have a basket, fill it!

  • Seems pretty obvious thing to do but many companies still miss this easy opportunity to up the customers’ spend by 10% or so.  Ask your web programmers to implemenet basket based offers.

6. Communications – ensure your data management system is working for you and send glad tidings to all your customers

  • I’m presuming you already have an email database.  If not, why not?  But continue to refine your database so that you can target relevant offers at different people.

7. Seven swans a-swimming – (well we had to give some reference to the twelve days of Christmas) Will your customers be able to swim through your site without any hold ups?

  • Should you really be making your customers register before purchase?  Are you hiding your delivery charges? (Hidden delivery charges are the 2nd most cited reason for people abandoning a shopping cart). Is it obvious how to make the order?  All these issues will effect conversion rates.  Get friends to perform specific tasks on your site and see how they perform. You’ll be surprised.

8. Content management system – check that your system will enable you to do everything you require. We’re still working on a turkey cooking programme but we are happy to cover off everything else.

  • Got a great idea for a Christmas offer? Have you checked that your e-commerce software is capable of handling this type of offer.  Find out now and don’t leave to last moment.

9. Reputation management – discover if you are featuring on your customers’ Christmas wish lists this year

  • Find out what people are saying about you with Datadial’s reputation management software and then respond to these comments and start a dialogue.  See how Love Film responded to a post I wrote about them – this was a classic bit of Reputation Management whereby they quashed my negative comment about them.

10. PPC – Pretty Perfect Christmas?  We believe Pay Per Click is the icing on the cake of an online marketing strategy (never the key ingredient)

  • Multi channel marketing includes PPC as well as snail mail.  PPC is expensive if implemented incorrectly.  Get this sorted before the Christmas rush starts.  Do all your experimenting with what works and what doesn’t or else you’ll find all the money coming in one end is going out the other end.

11. Online PR – You don’t need to bring frankincense and myrrh but if you’re doing anything quirky or different then let the blogosphere know about it

  • Do not presume that your PR company can do online PR.  Online PR is an entirely different science to Offline PR and most PR companies do not have a clue about how to create buzz on line.

12. Online optimisation – creeping round every corner making sure everything is as ‘friendly’ as possible

  • This is the most important thing to get right – If your website is not optimised for search engines then it has no chance of being ranked for its keywords.  Ask us to provide a website analysis for you.  If you ask nicely we might even do it for free, seeing as it’s nearly Christmas!

If you’ve got it all covered then you can join our happy Santa on the beach

santa-tanning-300x225

Matt

May 21st, 2009.

SMX London Roundup – More News, Tips, Tricks, Tools And Links

smxlogoAs I mentioned yesterday, we have just returned from the  recent SMX London search marketing conference. Below is our roundup of the best hints, tips and links that we picked up over the two days.

There are also some fantastic posts over at SEOptimise and Distilled that are well worth a read.

The State Of The Search Industry

  • The search industry must focus more on, analytics, holistic search and education for senior management. Cooperation between companies is required in order to grow the industry.
  • During the keynote, Brian Fetherstonhaugh from Ogilvy One pointed out that although search marketing is seen as the holy grail of marketing by the top 1000 CEOs, this still only occupies around a 1.5% mindshare. Search marketers should focus on how search can ad value to existing advertising mediums and can be sold as a research tool.
  • The US has a greater buy-in from senior management. This could be due to an increased understanding/awareness of the technology, or better and more organised education.
  • Integrated search is set to be a huge growth area, both in the form of integrated digital campaigns (SEO, PPC, Digital PR) and also increased synergy between online and offline PR.
  • 46% of respondents to the Guava/E-Consultancy Research were spending a minimum of £10,000 p/a on SEO.
  • 32% are spending a minimum of £100,000 on paid search.
  • 55% of companies predict an increase in SEO spending despite current economic conditions.
  • SEMPO research indicates a shift from paid search back into natural search.
  • SEO is increasingly being used for branding as well as direct response advertising being driven by an increase in local, video and news results visibility.

Keyword Research Tips And Advice

  • Download the Microsoft adCenter Excel Add-In for keyword research. This will help to quickly build keyword lists and give additional demographic information.
  • Don’t just use traditional tools for keyword research. Initial brainstorming with client sales teams is usually an untapped resource for potential keywords, as well as looking at internal site search queries.
  • The credit-crunch has altered search behaviour. Consumers are searching more, researching more but buying less.
  • There has been a 3-fold increase in informational and a fall in navigational search queries. Less brand searches, more price-led queries.
  • Optimise category pages for plural search keywords, product pages for the singular.
  • Use Google Trends to find and keep ahead of topical search terms in your industry.

SEO

  • Wordle is a great tool for finding which keywords a site/page has been optimised for.
  • Using a keyword site:domain.com query you can find the most important pages on your site for a specific keyword.
  • Mis-spellings can be targeted using a glossary or a ‘similar searches’ widget.

Link Building

  • Before releasing online PR/link bait you must understand the reasons that people link to pages. If your content doesn’t encourage people to link in some way, then it isn’t linkbait.
  • A successful linkbait article has an average of 2.7 seconds to grab a bloggers attention. The solution to retaining this attention? A Great Headline. These great headlines should be continued into the subject of the text, and should also be continued into the headlines of whichever social media distribution channel you choose (Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon etc).
  • Websites Don’t Link to Websites- People link to other people’s work. To improve the response from your linkbait, look into the mindset of the blogger reading your piece- why would you link to it if it was your blog?
  • Discussion sparking content – Create content that can spark controversial discussions. Not everyone in your industry will always have the same view, and providing content that sparks such discussions allows readers to get involved in the discussion. Invite other bloggers to get involved in the conversation (subconsciously inviting the blogger to link to the discussion and make a comment on the discussion on their own blog).
  • Actively promote your own content. Build a directory of targets and inform them when you publish linkable content to increase the take-up rate.
  • Link your articles with current affairs, topical news stories, or hot topics in your industry to increase the chances of publication.
  • Link building is very much dependant on the kind of website you’re working on. Big brands can get away with a far lower link quality than smaller companies and brands.
  • Analise the current inbound links- Big brands should have a range of authoritive links, meaning less authoritive links with optimised anchor texts can help when optimising for a particular phrase.
  • Install ‘Links From Images’ Plugin on WordPress. People still hotlink images… why not provide them with the HTML code and include a link back to the page the image.
  • Where possible, remove all social media buttons (‘tweet this’ buttons etc) on linkbait articles- remove the option for visitors to share the content on other networks to encourage linking to the article instead.
  • Six degrees of seperation works online… target the bigger sites in the industry that the smaller bloggers will read to get links from both the bigger and smaller blogs (and scraper sites!)
  • Build a Promotion Network-
    1. Research sites in the industry and see what they link to
    2. Create an email list
    3. Create the linkbait article
    4. Social media promotion- this is mainly for show- the more powerful links will come from the bloggers you email directly
    5. Send a personal email to the bloggers on your email list informing them of the post ahead of the buzz
    6. Watch the links come in
    7. Show gratification- thank the bloggers and show gratification (Tweet/Stumble/Digg their post in return)

Social Media

  • Social media is now sending significant amounts of traffic to many sites, for the right industries/demographics it’s crazy to ignore it.
  • Utilising Facebook connect and the Twitter API is an excellent way of encouraging your visitors to interact on social sites and linking that interaction with your brand.
  • Use the RIOT principal – Relevant Interaction = Optimised Traffic – Massimo Burgio
  • Bear in mind the 4 P’s of social media – Passion, Proactively, Perseverance and Patience
  • Twitter may well become more important in the search engine world as it starts to index the content of links in tweets and starts to rank these.

Reputation Management

  • There are several basic strategies for dealing with negative listings in the search results. 1) Legal action 2) Purchasing the offending site 3) Organic strategies to push other listing above it 4) Paid listings to argue your case/divert attention5) Hacking – not recommended!
  • Resort to legal action only if sure of your legal footing and as a last resort. It’s very easy for aggressive tactic to blow-up in your face.
  • Sometimes authority domains that have negative listings may also contain positive pages that can easily be used to replace the negatives.
  • Reputation management shouldn’t just be thought of in crisis situations. Effectively monitoring and managing online reputation before a crisis occurs can save time and money later.
  • Bear in mind that if people want to look hard enough for negative stories and articles, they will find them.

Analytics

  • SEO is not a ‘free’ medium – everything has an ROI that should be measured.
  • When monitoring the performance/conversions of large groups of keywords, separate them out into groups for more manageable analysis – Top 10, Top 100, Top 1,000 and 1,000+
  • Brand engagement can easily be worked out using BE = #brand searches + #direct visits / #search visits + # direct visits
  • Another metric worth measuring is the % of pages yielding search traffic. Consider replacing or amending under-performing pages.
  • Link building counts are a metric that people should be using. The most accurate tools for tracking this are Linkscape and Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Use the 2nd page traffic filter to spot keywords sending you traffic from the second page of search results. Pushing these phrases onto the first page are your low-hanging fruit.
  • Use multi-touch tracking to find the initial referrer for a sale rather than the final one. Often a sale initially comes from a long tail search query, then possibly a branded search or PPC ad which then incorrectly gets the credit for the sale.

Digital PR

  • Get Known- build a brand, attend conferences, seminars and other industry engagements. Comment in forums and become a noticed resource.
  • Build a Platform- Speaking slots, interviews, trade shows. Announce your presence at these industry events ahead of time
  • Find industry news and get on it

Presentations/Write-Ups Currently Available Online

Dean Chew – What’s New With Social Media?
Lyndon Antcliff – Smash A Brick In The Face Link Building
Richard Gregory – The Latest Stats About The Search Engines
Patrick Altoft – Blow Your Mind Link Building Techniques
Ciaran Norris – Old Or New? The Future Of Media
Will Critchlow- Analytics Every SEO Needs to Know
Lucy Langdon- What’s New With Social Media?
Rich Cotton- Paid Search & Tricky Issues
Rob Ousbey- Brand & Reputation Management Strategies
Guy Levine- Writing Killer Search Ads
Massimo Burgio – What’s New With Social Media Marketing?
Richard Baxter – Diagnosing Website Architecture Issues
Richard Gregory – Paid Search And Tricky Issues
Nick Abramovic – Multivariate Testing

Anything I have missed? Let me know :)

Matt

April 27th, 2009.

Case Study: How NOT to do social media – Digg, The BNP and Operation Outreach

 

While playing around on Digg yesterday I began to notice a lot of stories in the upcoming section that were either from the BNP website, or were from blogs sympathetic to their cause.

For the uninitiated Digg is a social news site where people share interesting stories by submitting links and voting for stories that they find interesting. Digg has the potential to send huge amounts of traffic to links that prove popular, raising their profile considerably. For this reason many site owners try to ‘game’ Digg in order to increase the level of traffic to their websites.

The BNP (The British National Party) for those people unacquainted with their politics is a “far-right whites only political party based in the UK. (Paraphrased from Wikipedia)

While I don’t want to get into a political debate regarding political views, a study of the submissions being made to Digg read as a good study on how NOT to do social media.

Concerted Effort?

After a little digging (no pun intended) it became clear that there has been a concerted effort to submit as many pages from the bnp.org.uk website as possible with little regard to their quality, topic or relevance. Some submissions for example are simply candidate profile pages or navigational pages with very little content. Submitting poor quality pages such as these are a sure sign of  some form of suspicious voting activity.

The Digg search function makes it easy to isolate all articles being submitted from a specific domain – all submissions from bnp.org.uk can be viewed here.

Using date filtering it’s also possible to view when the articles are being submitted – over the past 12 months there have been an average of 212 submissions each month. Compare this to The Conservative Party with has 32 submissions from their website, and the Labour Party website which totals just 7 submissions during this entire 12 month period, the number of submissions is far above what you would expect from a political party. In fact, even The Sun, the UK’s highest circulation national newspaper has only 1000 more submissions over the time period.

Reading through some of the comments on the stories I found some postings by a couple of regular Digg users that indicate that I’m certainly not the first person to notice this unusual activity.

For anybody who doesn’t know, the BNP has recently made a big push into Digg and other social media sites, enlisting members to vote up their press releases on a daily basis.

Jordan117

Doing a search of BNP submissions I found the following comment:

“Operation BNP Outreach is proving to be a huge success – keep up the good work, comrades.
By 6 June, with lots more hardwork and a fair wind, we should have our first MEP!
VOTE BNP – you know it makes sense!”

This ‘Operation outreach’ seems to be what is causing the trouble.

TheAuditor

Poor Submission Selection

This first lesson to learn is that topic is everything. Submitting poor quality stories will not get your submission onto the front page of the site. Of the 3036 submissions just 5 have received more than 100 votes. Compare this number to popular front pages submissions which frequently run into thousands of votes.

Wrong Target?

In all probability the BNP submissions will have minimal impact at Digg as on the whole users of the site tend to be at the opposite end of the political scale. During the US elections the user base was well known for ‘Digging up’ positive Obama submissions, with one entitled “Digg this if you voted for Obama” receiving a huge 38,443 votes. Submitting controversial far-right political material is unlikely to generate success as the majority user base will ‘bury’ articles far before they come close to reaching the front page.

Clumsy Tactics

The submission and voting tactics that are being used also arouse suspicion, with the same users submitting content from the site over and over again and voting on each other’s submissions – not always suspicious activity on its own, but when couple this is a distinct lack of submission and voting activity on other domains it begins to look more and more like a deliberate strategy to promote content from a specific domain – which incidentally is against the Digg terms of service.

What Can You Learn?

As a business owner social media is a powerful medium if used correctly.

  • Create great content, give knowledge and expertise away for free. In social terms, content really is king.
  • Make sure you choose the right audience. Write for your users and submit to sites that are consistent with these topics and demographics.
  • Submissions from your readers are more powerful, getting your network of staff to submit everything on your site is easily noticed.
  • Interact, get involved with real users of social sites. Network and communicate, you will find that relationships are what breeds social success.
  • Don’t be tempted to cheat or get involved in schemes to promote your own stories. This kind of activity is almost always spotted.

Matt

April 22nd, 2009.

Twitter Guide For Small Business

Twitter is very much the flavour of the month at the moment, you don’t seem to be able to turn on the TV or read the papers without it popping up in some way.
Now businesses are being told time and time again that they should be using it, but how can you as a business owner use it to promote your business in a positive light?

What is Twitter?

The basic idea is that users have 140 characters to post their message, and then this message (a tweet) appears to their ‘followers’. When you choose to ‘follow’ people you see their tweets. Conversely when they ‘follow’ you they see your tweets.

Twitter is simply what you make it to be. You choose who you follow, and therefore the kind of updates that you see. For example, if you choose to follow the key movers and shakers in your industry, then you’ll not only keep abreast of the latest industry news, but the chances are you’ll also get to hear about it before anyone else. Not only that, but you’ll also have a direct communications channel with industry figures such as publishers, PRs, bloggers competitors and consumers.

Will it work for me?

Maybe, maybe not. If your customer demographic is 16-40, tech aware and users of social media, then getting a presence on Twitter should be a very high priority. Even if your demographic just targets the 16-40 year old age range then you would still be surprised at the number of your customers and potential customers that are already using the service.

Some notable Twitter stats (Hitwise & Quantcast) –

  • Twitters largest age group is 35-44 years of age accounting for 25.9% of all users
  • 63% of users are male
  • UK Twitter traffic has trebled in 2009
  • There are an estimated 8 million Twitter users
  • 53% Earn over £40,000 p/a
  • 63% Have at attained a college education or higher

First Steps

  1. Sign up for an account. You’ll certainly want to register your company name, maybe even individual accounts for key staff within your company. The main thing to consider here is how much time people can spare. It’s probably better to have several people using a single active account than a few seldom used accounts.
  2. Make sure you add a picture to your account. A clear logo or company name is a must. If you’re registering individual people then a clear face picture.
  3. Add your bio – a clear concise introduction of who you are and what you do.
  4. Follow people interested in your company and your industry. This may include customers, potential customers, competitors or suppliers.
  5. Start to interact. This isn’t a forum for you to post what you’re up to every moment of the day. Ask questions, answer other people’s questions, give opinions, offer tips and advice and post useful links and information. The more useful your Twitter stream, the more followers you are likely to attract and retain. Simply spamming your products and services is likely to lose you all of your followers. Don’t be afraid to put a human face on things and use some personality. People are there to talk and listen to you, not to hear a brand message.
  6. Above all, be sure to have a clear strategy and goals as to what you want your Twitter account to achieve, who your messages to be aimed at, and how you want to be viewed by your followers.
  7. While I don’t want to spend too long on the basic account functions, there are several Twitter guides aimed at beginners, have a read of some of these to get a taste of how the real basics work. Some of the best ones can be found here, here and here.

How To Choose Who To Follow

Choosing who you follow is one of the most important steps that you’ll take. These are the people whose updates you’ll be seeing, the people that may choose to follow you back, and the people who you’ll be forming relationships with.

I recommend using tools like Twitter Search, Twellow, and MrTweet to find people talking about topics in your industry.

How To Get People To Follow You

  • Follow people relevant to you, many people follow people back if they are tweeting about similar topics.
  • Leverage non-twitter properties, promote your Twitter account on your blog, emails and business cards.
  • Twitter isn’t a one way conversation, talk to people, and not just to those that are already following you.
  • Make sure you’re following key people in your industry, this is where Twitter ‘communities’ are formed and you need to make sure you’re part of it.
  • Be an expert – be free and easy with advice, tips and answers. Being an expert on a topic isn’t enough, you also need to look like one.
  • ALWAYS make sure your profile is complete with a picture and bio, and preferably have more than a handful of tweets to your name. With an empty profile it’s difficult for people to gauge who you are and therefore hard to make a decision to follow you.
  • Post interesting material – posting great links and info is the best way to build a reputation as someone who needs to be followed rather than be ignored. Make sure it’s not just links to your own site. Make sure you subscribe to the RSS feeds of key industry blogs and news sites. These are a great source of interesting industry links that will provide a great source of message ideas.
  • Organise contests, giveaways and give discount codes, reward those that do follow you.

Ideas On How To Use Twitter For Your Business

  • Getting feedback – Twitter is a great way to get free and impartial advice on product and service decisions.
  • Making connections – Bloggers, publishers, journalists and PRs are amongst the heaviest adopters of social media, and a large percentage of Twitter users fall into this category. If you want to make contact with the influencers in your industry, this is probably the best place to do it.
  • Monitoring Conversation And Opinion – Twitter is a great way to monitor what is being said about your company, products and your industry. Use Twitter search to setup some search queries, subscribe to the RSS feed and receive email updates every time you’re mentioned on Twitter. Then follow those talking about you, respond and listen to what they have to say.
  • Fast access to information – Twitter is a massive source of information and opinion. If you’re following the right people then you’ll get access to news and industry gossip far before its published on any official channels.
  • Customer Service – Many companies are now using Twitter as an informal customer service channel, offering product information, answering questions quickly and fielding queries and feedback.
  • Brand And Personalise Your Company – Not just branding your company and yourself as experts, but also use it as a chance to show off the real people behind the brand.
  • Promoting items of interest – Use Twitter to publicise items of interest on your own website. Be careful here though, there is a fine line between drawing peoples attention to interesting posts and spamming them, so be careful what you post and how often.
  • Giveaways and discounts – Reward your followers by offering giveaways, discounts and competitions. As well as increasing interaction and creating a buzz this will help follower retention and acquisition.
  • Advertise vacancies and recruit staff – Many companies are turning to Twitter as a way to recruit staff. As well as being instant and free, you can guarantee that any respondents will already be interested in your company.

Case Studies

There are a wide range of companies already using Twitter, with a diverse number of aims, some are unsurprisingly better than others.

Businesses That ‘Get It’

  • Zappos – While several members of the Zappos staff have Twitter accounts, the main company account is run by the company CEO. As well as covering the daily goings on at the company, the account is also used for obtaining feedback on website functionality and conducting giveaways. Approaching half a million followers this has to count as one of social medias most successful business users.
  • JetBlue – Use the service to monitor people talking about the airline. Frequently responding to people, engaging in conversation, dealing with complaints and resolving issues in a organised and professional manner.
  • WineEnthusiast – It’s not just big multi-nationals that can benefit. There are many wine bloggers, publishers, journalists and producers already using Twitter. The Wine Enthusiast website has connected with this group of influencers and posts relevant links for them and builds relationships with them.
  • Whole Foods Market - Use Twitter as a way of connecting with their customers. They ask questions, engage in conversation and recommended resources and their podcasts.

In a hat-tip to HR Block, they explain in this interview how they use social media effectively for their company.

Business That Don’t

  • Zenergy Internet Marketing - Directly offering (spamming) your services to other users is bad enough, but to do it without checking who they are, and as a consequence offering them to your competitors is just plain dumb. Pimping your services in this way is the equivilent to going up to people at a party and asking if they want to buy from you, without any form of introduction. You wouldn’t do it offline, so don’t do it online.
  • Skittles – Skittles though it would be smart to publish every tweet that mentioned Skittles on it’s homepage. Of course as soon as this was picked-up upon many people started posting less than flattering comments about the product.
  • Ryanir – After freely admitting that they have no interest in engaging in social media and calling bloggers ‘idiots’ it was a surprise to see a Ryanair account appear on Twitter. In what looks like a failure to establish a presence on the service, the door was left open to imposters to create accounts and pose as the company themselves. Attempts to contact Ryanair and to clarify the situation have failed.

Twitter Tools For Business

There are many free tools that help to make running a Twitter account far easier for a business. A short list of my favourite ones include.

  • Tweetdeck – This time saving desktop application allows you to save time, organise and group your messages, send pictures, create custom searches and ensures you don’t miss anything important.
  • Monitter – This is great for tracking products, company or brand mentions. Input your keywords and let Monittor do the rest.
  • PollDaddy – Allows you to create polls for your followers. Useful for asking questions and getting feedback.
  • TweetLater – A useful tool that will let you schedule your tweets and it will post them automatically.
  • SplitTweet – This is a must if you’re monitoring several Twitter accounts. It allows you to follow and reply to tweets quickly and easily.

I am a regular user of Twitter and can be followed here!

Matt

March 10th, 2009.

Link Building 2.0 – Getting Attention In The Social Age

Building links to your website has always been vital, and it is likely to remain so for the near future. Links provide the basic structure that the Google algorithm is based on, and are the main indicator of a pages importance.

It’s important not to make the mistake of assuming that as the need for links hasn’t changed, that the methods of acquiring them haven’t. Just as the web has changed from brochure websites to interactive communities so has the methods of building links to these sites.

So how did people used to build links?

  • Directory submissions – We’ve all seen the “submit to 10,000 directories for $9.99″ adverts haven’t we? With that many links you can’t go wrong surely?
  • Internal links – Footer links, yes I know, we’ve still got them!
  • Paid links – need some quick links? Pop over to Pay-Per-Post and get a blogger to knock up some paid reviews.
  • Forums and blog comments – Drop by, drop your links, nobody really cares right?

All of that sounds easy right? And to be fair it is, or was. Google wised up to all of these methods a long time ago. Some are devalued and won’t bring you any benefit, others are going to put your site in danger of being penalised.

So bearing all of this in mind, what should your link building strategy consist of in the Web 2.0 age?

  • Directory submissions – I’m a firm believer that good directories will still pass value. Directories like Yahoo, JoeAnt, Business.com, BOTW, The Good Web Guide, Elib, Site Sift and many more are on my submit list. Niche directories that offer a comprehensive review process are also worth their weight in gold.
  • Internal links – Logic dictates that footer links are probably devalued by now. Either way, it’s probably preferable making the most out of your standard navigation links. Include your keywords where possible. Make sure your navigation links are present on each and every page. Provide an additional breadcrumb navigation where this isn’t practical.
  • Internal in-content links – It’s not just navigation links that help. Be aware when you’re using your keywords in your body text. Link them to your target pages.
  • Online PR – Drop the paid links and start drawing up a list of sites that you HAVE to be seen on. Go through the list contacting them, form a relationship with them, find out what you need to do to get involved with their site. They may allow you to write editorial for them, offer to review your products, publish your link in their directory or even just give you a mention where relevant.
  • Offline PR – A lot of people don’t give this any consideration. Bear in mind that a lot of offline PR is now also published online in digital editions. A surprising number of places don’t automatically include a link to the website, your PR has to be aware of this, normally it’s just a case of asking.
  • 3rd party hosted pages – Make sure you have a presence on sites that offer profile pages. Facebook brand pages, About.org, Flickr, Squidoo and many other industry based sites.
  • Press releases – Do something newsworthy. People generally aren’t interested in how your XPC-1i is different to your XPC-1ii, but they’ll probably want to write about it if you’ve just set a land speed record in it. Don’t just submit it to the PR outlets, but send it directly to the people that you want to publish it.
  • Linkbait – Create worthwhile content. These days your site HAS to stand out. You need to offer something that others don’t. Create something useful, funny, or shocking – think like a tabloid newspaper editor or an encyclopedia publisher. Whatever you do, do it better than anyone else.
  • Related industry pages – Don’t forget industry bodies and associations, suppliers, retailers or other business contacts with websites. Many have places where they would be happy to link to your site.
  • Network – One of the most important of all. Join in with your industry online. Comment on blogs, post on forums, subscribe to RSS feeds, link up with people on Twitter. Networking with people will give plenty of opportunities to ask for a link. By getting involved though you’ll probably find that people link to you anyway.
  • Competitive intelligence – Tools like Linkscape and Yahoo Site Explorer now mean that we have even more imformation than ever before about who links to our competitors. Find out who they are and then add them to your target list.

While linkbuilding over the past few years has become more skilled and time intensive, it isn’t always harder. Just like Web 2.0 linkbuilding 2.0 is all about developing relationships, information sharing and adding value.

Newer Posts » « Older Posts

Recent Posts »

Our work »

What we do »

Who we work with »

Got Questions? Lets Talk »