Archive for ‘Facebook’

January 27, 2015

3 lessons learned from writing 100 blog posts

100BlogPosts

With this being the publication of my 100th blog post on davidhallsocialmedia.com, I think it’s time to reflect upon a few lessons I’ve learned since my first post in 2011. When I started this site, I shared many of the ideas that I had about how to be a successful blogger in a three-part series about starting and writing a blog (part 1, part 2, part 3). Primarily, these were lessons that I had learned through research, and a bit of my own blogging experience. Each of these posts was written before I had a full year of experience blogging. Although (I think) that three-part series still offers good tips and information to people thinking of starting a blog, here are three more things I’ve learned after being in the trenches for a few years:

1. Consistency is key

We all know this. Post regular, quality content, and you’ll be successful. The problem is, this is very hard to sustain. I’m not a professional blogger; I don’t get paid a cent for a single word. That’s OK, because that’s not the purpose of this site. I measure the success of my site by views, comments, and shares. It took about a year of me blogging at least once each week for traffic on the site to really increase. As I continued the one-post-per-week model for another year, traffic nearly tripled.

In January 2013, my wife told me that we were pregnant. Fantastic news! I decided to focus on the immediate tasks at hand and willfully neglected my blog. I didn’t publish another post until about 9 months later (I wonder why). Most of 2014 was spent with my new son, only blogging sporadically. I loved this time, but my blog traffic certainly didn’t. This lack of new content really hurt traffic on davidhallsocialmedia.com. Now in 2015, my goal is to resume the one-post-per-week model to see what happens.

2. Build shareability into your content

FacebookThumbnail

Example of the Facebook thumbnail that requires blogs to have embedded multimedia in order to work properly.

As you are writing every post, think about trying to make it as easy as possible for your readers to share it. To do this, I focus on three main components.

First, be timely. My most popular posts are the ones that are published (or promoted) during times of the year when people want that content. If it’s Christmastime, find something interesting to connect your topic to that observance. Same idea goes for the Super Bowl, first day of school, or even shark week.

Second, always include at least one image in your post. Make sure it’s not awkwardly proportioned, too large, or too small. I also try and put it right at the beginning of the post. I do this because, yes, it’s nice to see an image above the fold when landing on a website, but more importantly, many social media share buttons automatically grab an image from your post to accompany that link when it is shared on your personal network. The most visible example of this is the Facebook thumbnail; Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ also do this.

Finally, forget Facebook; the headline of your post is your best promotional tool. It’s important to try to convey one interesting message from your post in 100 characters or less. Try and get one key fact or statement into your headline. It doesn’t have to be a summary of the whole post: just a key point, statistic, or opinion that may get people to click. During the 6-week blogging assignment in the Social Media Management course I teach in Algonquin College’s PR program, I encourage my students to think of the headline of each of their posts as a tweet.

3. Always think about your audience, but you won’t always satisfy them

You need to be comfortable with writing content that nobody likes. If you haven’t published a failure of a post, you haven’t blogged. I’ve written some blog posts that have gone nowhere. Back in 2011, nobody was interested in what I had to say about Trendsmap and finding geographically relevant tweets. Only about 50 people viewed it right after it was published, and now 4 years later, it has a whopping 160 views. According to the viewership, comment, and social sharing statistics, that post is garbage. I still love Trendsmap, so I’m good with it.

You won’t know who your readers actually are until you publish for a few months, better yet a year, and pay attention to your site’s analytics that tell you what countries your viewership is coming from, what search terms are referring  to your website, and what social media networks your viewers are finding you on. My readers, for example, are primarily Americans who work in the Marketing / PR world. This doesn’t meant that I don’t get plenty of readership from my home and native land, but it does mean that I write posts with the majority demographic in mind.

Useful content is sometimes better than thought-provoking content. I try to be helpful to my readers by posting how-tos, infographics, and resources that I have found useful in my own life. Posts of this nature, along with the timely ones, tend to get the most viewership. I do also write for myself. These pieces don’t generate great traffic, but they do give me an opportunity to think through a few ideas and try to organize them in a somewhat articulate fashion. I imagine that this post won’t be wildly successful based on views, but it’s important for me to write it. I have gone through the experience of writing 100 posts, and without reflecting on it, it would be a personal learning opportunity missed.

January 21, 2015

Facebook cover size, and 26 other exact images size requirements for your social media profiles [Infographic]

I’m always checking, rechecking, and double checking the proper size constraints for images uploaded to my social media accounts. Nobody wants to upload a profile picture, which they rather like, and have the parameters of the website stretch and skew it to make it fit the one-size-fits-some model. I have found that the best way to avoid the potential problem of stretching and skewing is to crop (or design) the images you plan on using on your social media accounts to the exact pixel sizes according to the rules of the site…but that information isn’t always easy to find.

If you do plan on uploading exact-sized images to your Facebook account, the good news is that you don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to create these perfect pics. Sure, Photoshop will work just fine, but you can crop your images to exact sizes using almost any photo editing software, including the ones that come bundled in Windows (Microsoft Image Manager), or OS X (iPhoto). If you want to use software with a few more features than these standard options, but don’t want to pay a dime, you can try one of these 10 free photo editing tools. I’ve used GIMP in the past and it works well.

Below is a handy infographic from the people at setupablogtoday.com who have collected all the pixel requirements for some of the most popular social networks all in one place. Knowing these exact sizes will help you create and/or crop perfectly-sized profile pictures, cover images, headers, backgrounds, banners, and thumbnails.

2015-social-media-image-sizes-infographic

December 22, 2014

Amazon reviews are almost as trusted as peer recommendations [Infographic]

A recent survey suggests that 50% of customers are actively using their smartphones to compare prices while in store.

A recent survey says 50% of customers are using their smartphones to compare competitor prices while in-store.

CRM software providers crowdtap published an infographic (below) this month to share some emerging trends in the ability of social media to influence consumer behaviour. After surveying over 3,000 US customers in 2013, and again in 2014, they found that social media is increasing its value to businesses who want to influence buying decisions throughout the holiday season.

A few things caught my eye:

1. Amazon reviews are almost as trusted as peer recommendations. I was a little surprised to see the difference between trusting a peer and trusting an online review was only 5 percentage points. I suppose this speaks to the importance of hearing directly from an existing product owner, rather than just trusting somebody in your network who you happen to already know who may not actually own the product.

2. Facebook dominates. If your business is only going to participate in one social media activity, you better make it Facebook. The survey results suggest that people are turning to Facebook, more than any other social network, to research gifts, look for promotions, and share their purchases. The only category where Facebook finished second was “gift inspiration” – losing the top spot by only one percentage point to Pinterest. Twitter seems to be rounding out the bottom of each of these categories. Perhaps this could be due to the transient nature of the messages, and also because Twitter relationships are often centered around topics of interest rather than trusted personal connections.

3. People are shopping at your competitors, right from within your store.  The survey results suggest that 50% of the people physically walking into your store will whip out their device and check a competitor’s price to see where you compare. I do this. I do this all the time. I expect this trend to continue to grow year-over-year.

4. Social media supplants TV as the most popular source for “inspiration”. For the first time, we’re relying on social media to provide us with gifting ideas more than any other medium; overtaking traditional television’s historical dominance in this area. This could be a symptom of the declining TV viewership numbers across every age demographic – with the largest decline in television consumption belonging to the 18-24 segment.

How does social media impact your holiday shopping behaviour? Check out the following infographic, and let me know what you think.

HolidayShoppingSocialMediaInfographicSmall

September 29, 2014

The Science of Marketing – 6 Key Takeaways [Book Review]

science-of-marketing

August is the only month on my calendar where I get a bit of time to catch up on my personal reading list. This year, I spent much of that month reading book after book about social media, marketing, communications and leadership. One book that had immediate actionable content for social media community managers, was The Science of Marketing (2013) by Dan Zarrella. Working for HubSpot since 2009, Zarrella has access to the tens of thousands of data-sets he uses to identify trends and make process and content recommendations on how to improve your organization’s social media presence. Once you get past Zarrella’s description of himself as a “Social Media Scientist”, you’ll find some rather useful information that can help you benchmark and experiment with the social media communities you manage.

This is a tactical book, not a strategy book. If you are looking for ways to tweak your Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email marketing, blog, and lead generation efforts, this book is well worth the 200-page read. A few key takeaways:

  1. Content is still your biggest ally, and the most important piece of the social media puzzle. Zarrella’s response to the question “how much should I be blogging/posting” is “more than you are now”. He even suggests that, to increase engagement and shares, the optimal amount of blog posts is three per DAY.
  2. Blog posts published on Saturday and Sunday get more comments than posts published during the week. Zarrella considers two reasons for this. First, weekends allow users more time to actually read a blog post. Second, fewer companies publish content on the weekend, which means less competition for attention. In fact, Zarrella suggests that we should seek to publish our content when others are not. He calls this “contra-competitive timing”.
  3. Sentiment is important. Posts that are positive get the most comments, shares, and likes. The second most effective are negative posts, which leaves neutrality as the last place finisher. In other words, neutral is boring. If you are going to post something, make sure it contains your tone and think positive first.
  4. Calls to action work. The primary example used in this book is the correlation between retweets and asking for retweets. Zarrella found that simply asking people to retweet your content delivers four times more retweets than tweets that don’t make that request. I wouldn’t use this tactic for every piece of content I tweet, but it’s good information to know if you are responsible for managing an emergency/crisis situation where you need information to spread very quickly.
  5. If you want to catch your audience’s attention on Facebook, photos are by far the best option. Zarrella’s research indicates that photos are the most sharable form of content on Facebook, blowing text, video, right out of the water.
  6. He even gets down to a very granular level of detail by looking at where within a tweet is the best place to include a link in order to maximize clicks. The answer: right in the middle. He even provides lists of the most, and least, sharable/retweetable keywords.

All of these ideas, and about 100 more, are laid out in simple language and charts in this book. The author is quick to mention that his findings are in no way the set-in-stone way to do things that will guarantee success on social media. They are merely data-backed observations that can help marcom professionals tweak and tailor their social media program. In essence, what Zarrella has presented in this book is a look at trends in social media engagement. It’s now up to us as social media managers to use this information to benchmark and experiment and see what works in our communities.

You can find this title on Amazon for about $20, well worth the investment.

December 12, 2013

Infographic: Consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video

YouTubeFormulaWe all know that content is king on the Internet; and when it comes to types of content, it looks like video is at the top of the food chain. Video is everywhere online, from feature-length films, to sales pitches, to amateur videos of people at the zoo. Year over year, YouTube comes out with statistics showing staggering growth in videos uploaded and viewed.

The good folks at MultiVisionDigital published the infographic below to put into perspective how the omnipresent video is affecting consumer decision-making and behaviour. If you are trying to sell products or services, you may want to add video to your online strategy (if it isn’t there already) as consumers are 64% more likely to purchase a product after watching an online video.

The most unexpected finding was that video has a lifespan of 4 years. That’s an eternity. Considering that the average lifespan of a Facebook post is 3 hours and 7 minutes, a four-year shelf-life for a video is astounding. To put it in perspective, exactly 4 years ago, on the date this post was published, Taylor Lautner was hosting Saturday Night Live making jokes about Kanye’s stage crash of Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs…but you know what, I still like that Kanye video so the 4 year lifespan checks out.

The infographic also shows that video is not just used for traditional B2C decision-making, but executives are using videos to inform their B2B purchasing choices.

  • The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video
  • 60% of consumers will spend at least 2 minutes watching a video that educates them about a product they plan on purchasing.
  • 96% of IT decision makers and tech buyers watch videos for business
  • 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites once a week

VideoSalesFigures

What do you think? Do online videos impact your decision-making? When was the last time you made a medium-sized or large purchase without checking out YouTube to see the product in action? Leave a comment and let me know.

November 11, 2013

You are what you tweet: Researchers predict users’ gender with 92% accuracy

How often do you think about what you are telling the world about yourself when you post an update to your social media profiles? Well, it turns out that you are being studied, whether you know it or not. Earlier this fall, PLOSone published a study that aimed to link the vocabulary netizens use with their age, gender, and select personality traits. The unique twist on this study was the methodology. Instead of using known word correlations to base their analysis on, they adopted an open vocabulary approach in an attempt to “find connections that are not captured with traditional closed-vocabulary word-category analyses”.

The use of the open vocabulary approach yielded some interesting results:

1. Men are much more likely to use profanity and talk about gaming while women seem to be much more positive and upbeat. *The size of the word in the word clouds below indicates the strength of the correlation; color indicates relative frequency of usage. Underscores (_) connect words of multi-word phrases.

MenvsWomen

 

2. Your age can be determined based on whether you talk about school, work or family.

Age

 

3. Extroverts like to party, introverts like the internet, neurotics use angry and depressed language, and the emotional stable like….basketball?

PersonalityTraits

 

4. Finally, the people in your social media networks who’s updates are negative, profanity-filled, and often tiresome, may rank low on the agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness scale.

Agreeable

Beyond simply being “interesting”, these correlations will further help communicators and marketers get their message in front of the right audience – You need to know where your audience “lives” before you can influence them. Be sure to check out the full study “Personality, Gender, and Age in the Language of Social Media: The Open-Vocabulary Approach” for the complete methodology and findings.

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