Archive for ‘tips’

February 26, 2015

Who else wants stats for ANY Instagram account?

Stats are good, right? I’m always searching for ways to look at how my content is performing, whether it be on my blog, twitter account, Instagram profile, etc. Stats provide an understanding of who your audiences are, what they like, and what are your most engaging pieces of content. While looking inward is always a great way to gather insights to improve your practice, it’s sometimes nice (and informative) to see some data on how other high performers within your industry, or your competitors, are doing.

HubSpots’ Dan Zarella has recently released an Instagram app called PicStats.com that lets users see details about any non-private account.

Once you login with your Instagram account, you’ll see stats on your own account; then you can search any other account by username. The app provides data on the usual metrics, like top likers and commenters, “like” activity, most-used filters, etc., but then it goes on to add some interesting details about how each of the following areas affects likes and comments:

  • Filter choice
  • Tags choice
  • Number of tags used
  • The effect of tagging users in your photos
  • Caption sentiment
  • Reading grade level
  • Caption length

Remember, this app doesn’t just tell you how complex your language is in your captions; it relates this complexity to the effect it has on engagement (likes and comments).

The site is beautifully laid out and visually appealing. Make sure you pay particular attention to the small grey question marks that appear just to the left of each title of the graph – this is where you get a more complete description of what the chart is showing you. Admittedly, this took me a bit to find, but once I did, the utility of the site jumped right out at me.

Here’s what the stats look like for the most-followed consumer brand on Instagram – Nike:

PicStatsZoomOutNike

Sorry for the size of the text in this image. I zoomed out to try and capture as many charts as I could to give a visual representation of the types and number of charts the site offers. If you head over to http://picstats.com/u/nike you can read all the details.

 

 

 

February 19, 2015

5 ways to get thousands of Twitter followers

GeorgeWtwitter

George W. Bush didn’t say this, I did. This is a visual representation of how I felt after responding to one of my students when asked about the number of Twitter followers I had.

This past week in my Social Media Management class at Algonquin College, one of my PR students, @MunnaAden, asked a question I had not really thought about before. She queried, “How did you get so many followers?”. A great question, but I didn’t have an answer readily at hand, so I came up with the classic “well, uh, I’ve been tweeting for a long time (since 2008), and I followed everybody back for a while (which is a bad idea).” After reflecting on that class session, I felt that I really should have had a better answer. Although there’s no sure-fire way to guarantee twitter followers, here are a few things that I have done over the years that I think played a role in the amount of Twitter followers I have.

1. Pick a niche and stick to it

The content I share focuses on only a few topics: Social media, communications, marketing, and education. Of course, these topics are complemented with some personal posts, or comments on the sports teams I root for, but for the vast majority of the time, you will be getting social media, communications, marketing, and education-themed tweets from @David_Hall. Try and think of your tweets as a service that you are providing to your readers, not an online platform for sharing every thought you have. The service you provide, just like any consumer service, should be focused, consistent, and predictable (to some degree).

The longer you tweet about a certain suite of topics, the more followers you will get. I feel that the sheer length of time I have been tweeting about my topics has had a positive effect on followership. It’s a lot easier to get eyes on content shared from a mature account than to get eyes on a new twitter profile that only has a few dozen, or hundred, tweets.

2. Follow relevant people in your industry

When I started tweeting, I was eager to see what other communicators were saying. Remember, this was back in 2008, so I was, like most people at the time, just trying to figure out exactly what the power of Twitter was. For each new marketing/PR/social media professional I followed, I gained access to their content, which was often great for retweeting. This retweeting helped me because it notified the original tweet sender that I was listening to, and endorsed, what they tweeted by sharing it with my followers. Telling people you like their content is a good way to make friends, and it can often result in a follow from the retweeted account. Retweeting great content from other accounts also helped my own Twitter presence because it gave me more great content on my account. It’s a self-reinforcing circle.

3. Be careful when following back

This one is a bit contentious, and I do not recommend it. When I first started on Twitter, I thought it would be a courtesy to follow-back any account that followed me. I thought of it as a nice little digital-hug while saying “thanks for following”. This didn’t turn out so well for me. Over the years, I have now followed or followed-back several thousands of users. As a result, my home feed is virtually useless. I now have to manage my twitter feeds through lists and keyword searches in Hootsuite to make sure I see what I want to see. This, however, ruins some of the serendipitous content discovery that I love about Twitter.

I do, however, believe that all this following on my behalf made me a great target for those looking for follow-back, meaning that the main reason they followed me in the first place was in the hopes that I would follow them back. I can’t say for sure, but I would wager that some of my followers would fall into this category.

Lessons learned: Don’t just follow back because you think it’s a nice gesture; your home-feed will be shot.

4. Curate great content

If you want to be a successful content creator, you should start by curating some great content first. Content curation becomes easier when you have purposefully done step 2 on this post. The idea goes, if you follow people who share good content, you have a virtually endless stream of relevant and shareable content delivered directly to your home feed.

Simply curating retweets won’t get you all the curated content you need, so I also have a few go-to resources when I need to find good content to share: Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner, Mashable (less so lately), Tech Crunch, PR Daily, AdWeek, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academica, etc. Just find some blogs and newsletters you like to read and share their content.

5. Be a content creator

This is the most important step. My Twitter following didn’t really start to grow rapidly until I started this blog. I consistently created weekly content for a few years, and over that time my blog and Twitter popularity grew. Along with this weekly content creation, I also did an hour-long podcast for about 18 months focusing on social media and technology. I found that once I started creating, people really started to take notice and began to follow my account in higher numbers.

Munna, I hope this does a better job answering the great question you asked in class last week.

 

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

August 16, 2013

Kids would actually change their online behaviour if they knew their parents were watching [Report]

parents-just-dont-understand

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about the relationship between children, their parents, and the Internet. Most of us would probably agree that parents need to educate their kids about getting the most out of the internet while staying safe. The problem seems to be that, although parents worry about their kids, they are unable, or unwilling, to take the necessary steps to create the next generation of Netizens.

The truth of the matter is that the Internet is an 18+ world – always has been. Kids need to be shown early on how to navigate and keep themselves (and others) safe and productive online.

The 2013 McAfee Digital Deception Study explores the online disconnect between parents and pre-teens, teens, and young adults. This 23-page report makes it clear that many parents’ perceptions are out-of-sync with today’s online reality. Some of their findings include:

  • 62% of parents don’t think their child can get into that much trouble online.
  • Only 17% believe the online world is as dangerous as the offline world.
  • Only 20% say they know how to find out what their child is doing online.
  • 74% of parents say they don’t have the time or the energy to keep up with everything their child is doing online.
  • 72% of parents say they are overwhelmed by modern technology and just hope for the best.
  • 66% say their child is more tech-savvy than they are, and they’ll never be able to keep up with their child’s online behaviors.

Really? The majority of parents don’t think their child can get into that much trouble online? Only 20% say they know how to find out what their child is doing online? 74% of parents say they don’t have the time or the energy to keep up with everything their child is doing online? Come on, get with it parents – invest some time (and potentially money) into internet literacy. If you don’t know where to start, simply Google “How to track kids online activity” and start reading. I’ll bet your kids will be at least this resourceful when they are looking for ways to hide their activity from you.

Sure, kids don’t make it easy on their parents to find out what they are doing online. This study also showed that young people use a whole host of techniques to hide their online behaviour from their parents, and less than half (47%) of parents are aware of these measures, which include:

  • Clearing browser history or using a different browser than their parents
  • Deleting IMs and videos
  • Viewing content away from the home and on different devices
  • Creating private email addresses and social media accounts their parents don’t know about
  • Disabling the parental controls

In essence, young people know how to hide their online activity, and most parents are either clueless or unmotivated to do anything about it. The golden nugget in this study, from my perspective, was that the report indicates that nearly half (46%) of these young people said they would actually change their online behaviour if they knew their parents were watching.

Below you will find an infographic with similar stats about social media use by children. It  also contains plenty of stats covering cyber-bullying, sexting, the amount of time a young person spends online, etc. As you might imagine, I was most intrigued by the “Parental Perceptions” section. For example, 72% of parents worry theirs kids will share inappropriate information with strangers online, but only 33% have helped their children establish privacy settings. It seems as though the actions of parents don’t match their anxieties in this case.

Kids and Social Media

August 15, 2012

I challenge you to Google yourself! [Infographic]

A simple Google search to see what results come up when your name is punched into the worlds biggest search engine – It’s just a smart thing to do. Feel free to head over to Google now to do a quick search…I’ll wait…Did you like what you found?

You may be surprised to know that you are not the only one searching for information about you online. It turns out that just about everybody wants to know more about you, and it’s not just your family and friends:

  • 79% of HR recruiters and hiring managers screen job candidates by reviewing online information about them.
  • 86% of hiring managers have told candidates that they were rejected based on what was found online about them.
  • Even 12% of College admissions officers said that posts which include photos of alcohol consumption, illegal activity, and the use of vulgar language have negatively impacted a potential student’s chances in being granted admission.

Sometimes I think that too much of the “Google yourself often” conversation is framed around the fear of having bad things appear online about you. This fear approach may motivate some, but I prefer to remind people of the opportunity angle. Yes, I firmly agree that it’s a good idea to keep your questionable behaviour offline as much as possible, but it’s also good to remember that hiring managers are looking to find out good things about you too…so they can hire you. This infographic from 2011 says that 68% of recruiters have hired a candidate because of what they saw about their potential hire on social media. Some of these reasons were because the candidates profile:

  • Gave a positive impression of their personality and organizational fit
  • Supported their professional qualifications
  • Showed the candidate was creative
  • Showed solid communications skills
  • Demonstrated the candidate’s awards and accolades
  • etc.

Googling yourself isn’t about vanity, egotism, or a sense of self-importance. It’s about ensuring your online presence is an accurate representation of who you are personally and professionally. You wouldn’t submit a resume without proofreading it, so it just makes sense to take a few moments each month to Google yourself and “proofread” the information available about you online. If you don’t like what you see, you can take steps to remove questionable posts/photos and change your online behaviour going forward. It’s better to start now than to wait until you are actively looking for a job.

For some additional facts, stats, and tips to help you find out what the internet is saying about you, check out the infographic below from www.backgroundcheck.org.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This infographic asks you to log out of Google to get “unbiased results”. It is true that this will disconnect the search results from any information Google has stored about your Google Account. But Google also uses third-party cookies that your browser has stored to customize your results as well. To turn off both of these customizations at the same time, all you have to do is add the simple “&pws=0” URL parameter to the end of your search URL, hit enter, and you will see the results most people on the web will see. The URL should then look something like this https://www.google.com/search?q=Your+Name&pws=0. Big thanks to colleague @erichollebone for sharing the URL parameter tip.

The Google Yourself Challenge
From: BackgroundCheck.org

…And, on a lighter note, a final thought on “Googling yourself” from 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy and Tracy Jordan…

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