Posts tagged ‘tips’

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

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.

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

November 17, 2012

Talknowledgy Podcast #107: BB10, Ron Swanson’s Movember video, talking trash with athletes on Twitter, and more

Right off the top of the show we discuss BlackBerry 10, Pinterest brand pages, and Facebook’s rumoured job board.

This week’s “Creepy or Awesome?!” is centred on the recent Twitter outrage when big man Pau Gasol from the NBA Lakers missed the last shot of the game handing the historic club yet another early season loss.

Our YouTube Hero this week is Ron Swanson’s pro-Movember video encouraging men to keep growing their “mos” and raise money for men’s health. It also has some guest appearances from cast members from “The Office”.

Finally, a military sex scandal gets our #Hashtag Fail of the Week. That’s right, the sloppy use of email clients may have lead to the infidelity bust in the David Petraeus scandal.

If you liked the show, feel free to subscribe to this blog or our RSS feed to make sure you’re always up-to-date with Talknowledgy.

August 23, 2012

Want to know some stats about YOUR Instagram account? There’s an app for that.

Since October 2010, Instagram has been one of the fastest-growing social networks in history. By the end of March 2012, it had about 30 million iPhone users, and, since the release of the app on Android, Instagram user numbers have balooned to 80 million.

Like all Android users, I’m new to Instagram but really enjoying the experience. After getting to know the tool a bit, I began to think that it was missing two things. First, a browser-based interface that would allow the user to manage photos, comments, likes, and account settings from a laptop. Instagram users know that almost everything usually has to be done with your smartphone, which isn’t always the easiest task.

The second thing about Instagram that left me wanting more was a lack of stats. Initially, I went searching for the “total views” a photo had received  Knowing this stat would give me an idea of the types of photos my followers are most interested in, and also how successful my sharing tactics are.

After a bit of Googling, I came across Statigr.am – a brower-based app that gives you dozens of stats about your Instagram usage, essentially filling in both of the gaps that were bothering me about Instagram. Statigram helps you keep track of:

  • Reading, posting, and responding to comments
  • Liking photos
  • Following and un-following other users
  • The number of photos, likes, comments, and followers you have
  • A month-by-month analysis
  • Your tag usage – i.e. the most popular tags associated with your account
  • The most popular filters you use
  • Your most liked and most commented on images
  • Best time to post
  • Photo lifespan
  • Follower growth
  • And so on…

They even have extra functionality that includes: the ability to create a Facebook Cover image out of your instagram photos, Instagram follow buttons for your website / blog,  an RSS feed,  a public URL, and a toolkit for brands to help them setup and monitor photo contests.

And it turns out that I’m not the only one looking for the functionality and statistics Statigr.am offers: just last week they announced that they have reached the 1 Million user mark and are still growing.

Let me know: Do you care to learn more about your Instagram stats?

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