December 20, 2011
When Google+ launched it was about connecting people on a personal level, but the search engine giant always maintained that they would be launching a solution for brands to promote themselves on the platform.
In November 2011 Google finally unveiled brand pages for Google+, allowing businesses and brands to join Google’s social network.
So why should your brand care about Google+ pages? Initially it would seem there is little difference from Facebook. Google+ brand pages are similar to Facebook in both appearance and layout. However, it’s been claimed that Google+ is not a Facebook ‘killer’ but is rather an evolution.
So, while Facebook may be at the centre of the social world, Google is positioned firmly at the centre of the business world – and a closer look at Google+ reveals added benefits that will help businesses make closer connections with their audience.
For these reasons, and because of its unique features, businesses must seriously consider establishing their presence on the channel. While at this early stage Google+ pages are where businesses interact with early adopters and Facebook is where you interact with everyone else (Facebook boasts 800 million users, while Google claims around 50 million) there is a lot to suggest this could well change in the future.
Here are our top 3 reasons why brands should consider using Google+ brand pages:
Demonstrates commitment to innovation and offers unique features to engage
Launching a Google+ brand page now will help set your brand apart, marking you out as an early adopter – and puts you in a stronger position than your competitors. It also demonstrates your willingness to be innovative within your field and shows you are ready to engage with your audience on the latest platforms.
While Google+ pages at first appear very similar to Facebook there are a range of key differences – not just in terms of appearance (though Red Bull’s use of Gifs in their page is worth taking a look at) but in terms of the unique functionality which allows you to engage with fans in new and powerful ways.
One of the main features of Google+ is Circles which allows users to group followers in specific categories. While it may appear initially a challenge (you can’t add a person to a brand page’s circles unless he has first added your brand page to his circles), once you have won the right to be in a person’s Circle you can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most by sending targeted, relevant messages to niche audiences sets.
Google+ Hangouts offer brands another unique feature, allowing them to hang out with followers or customers through video chat. This is a great feature for customer service for example and could potentially also be used to host live events.
Brands can also use competitions to build engagement. While currently, Google+’s content and promotion policies page states you cannot run promotions DIRECTLY on your Google+ page, you may link to a separate site (such as your website or blog) that promotes your competition.
Google is also adding a feature that will allow users to “check-in” via the Google+ mobile application in order to receive time-sensitive deals or discounts. This feature is mentioned in Google Places’s Help documentation, but has not yet been made available to business owners using the Google Places service.
As Google continues to build on its initial model and offers brands greater and more compelling ways to engage with their audience we will see a rise in its effectiveness as a way to drive traffic, raise brand awareness, increase audience reach and engage with your audience in more powerful ways.
The Google App-roach
The vast reach of Google and its range of apps will allow you to reach and engage with its huge existing audience base – this offers almost limitless potential.
Apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, Chrome and YouTube – to name just a few – are tools that many online users make use of everyday — and can be tied back to Google+. By aligning Google+ with these platforms extends the reach of the platform and by extension your brand page.
We are already beginning to see opportunities arise – Google is using social to integrate their apps, providing a personalised approach and helping to drive users through to Google+ and enabling users to easily share content with friends.
YouTube is a great example. The deep Google+ integration has seen Google add a YouTube search tab along the top right edge of each Google+ screen. Plus, when logged into Google all the subscriptions and channels you follow are organised into a left sidebar, which makes it easier to see videos that are shared from people within your social circles on Google+. When users search for a video, they now see a pop-up video player and playlist of related videos, and each one can be +1′ed and shared with the user’s Circles.
Google has also created integrations with Google Reader and Chrome. As they add to this they are increasing the opportunities for brands to drive people to their Google+ pages – and this is a great benefit for brands. It means as Google+ grows it will be able to further promote its social network — and the branded pages within it — in ways that are inaccessible to Facebook or Twitter
Being the largest search engine in the world certainly gives Google a massive advantage – one which they are taking advantage of. This is where Google has a competitive advantage over Facebook. That’s because creating an engaging brand experience on your Google+ page will help improve your search rankings.
Now that users can +1 your brand (the equivalent of a “Like” on Facebook), your + 1 will begin to affect the rating and placement of your brand in the search results, especially Google’s. Google’s Product Management Director Dennis Troper said Google will add up all +1 button clicks — from brands’ pages for Google+, websites, and search results — and the single total will be used to determine relevancy in Google’s search ranking results.
Google.com attracts over 1 billion unique visitors per month so this is obviously a massive benefit for brands and by implementing a strategy that is focused on keywords and optimising all relevant terms, brands can use Google+ to really benefit their search engine rankings.
Google is also debuting a feature called “Direct Connect” so that users who type “+” in front of a company’s name in Google’s search field will be connected directly to the company’s Google+ Page, if there is one.
Google + Brands = audience growth
While Google+ is still in its relative infancy it is clear that it has grown at an impressive pace and offers brands new and compelling ways to reach their audience. With such a huge range of apps and platforms at their disposal and a willingness to integrate these in social ways, Google is showing that it can challenge Facebook and provide brands with the tools and data they need to target their audience – which means you need to be there to talk to them.
December 9, 2011
Back in March 2011 we reported on a significant day in the history of digital and social media marketing and advertising. When the ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) remit was extended to cover all brand owned websites, their social media pages as well as video and mobile campaigns.
The changes to the Cap Code meant the ASA had the power to regulate all online and mobile marketing communications and ensure compliance with the Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (The CAP Code). This covers all businesses, regardless of size, and extends to other non-paid-for space online under your business’ control (e.g. messages you post on social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook).
This Code also extended to cover not just what the brands themselves posted but also rules on how brands should not retweet messages or Like comments on Facebook that a user has written which are incorrect as they will still be liable based on them endorsing the content.
The intention was to make all online communications more transparent and ensure people reading online content are receiving honest and truthful messages. However, since the laws have been implemented brands have still unintentionally broken the law within social media, and the IAB has had to launch guidelines to help brands comply with consumer protection law around the payment for content to promote products within a social media environment.
Recently Saville Home Management was found to have Tweeted misleading and unsubstantiated claims on the Twitter feed of cmRENT estate agents that “cmRENT have 93 Rental properties available” and “cmRENT have 105 Rental properties available”. They were reprimanded by ASA and the offending tweets were removed.
It is clear that brands need to be more mindful of the laws that have been put in place and agencies need to be offering their clients greater guidance as to what is and isn’t allowed as part of the Cap Code. At agency:2, as one of the Founders of the DMA, we have constantly adhered to strict ethical guidelines. We are proud of always working ethically and legally for the good of our clients – brands must be increasingly aware that whatever they post on social platforms must be transparent and clear.
December 1, 2011
At it’s first-ever U.S. press conference yesterday, Spotify unveiled their new app platform, which they hope will be the next big step in social music.
The platform allows third-party developers to use the streaming service’s music library and community to create personalised and tailored services for their users. Initially the Spotify Platform is only launching with a dozen apps but more are expected to appear shortly.
Spotify have so far confirmed they have partnered with the likes of Rolling Stone, Last.fm, Billboard, Songkick and The Guardian, as the online music service aims to build on its current offering and enhance the user experience.
An app launching its own app platform is a fascinating move and also an exciting one – it should allow companies and services to use Spotify in new and inventive ways.
For music publications such as Rolling Stone and Billboard, apps offer a way to allow users to read a review while silmultaneously listening to the album. However there are even more exciting and compelling ways that services can use Spotify. Let’s take the example of the Last.fm app within Spotify.
Last.fm is the world’s largest online music catalogue, powered by your scrobble. Spotify has long allowed users to integrate their Spotify listening to their Last.fm accounts. Now, the integration is bolstered with customised playlists. The new Last.fm app allows users to generate related song playlists based on the track they are currently listening to – by clicking “Similar Tracks Playlist,” Last.fm will generate a playlist of similar tracks of music available to listen to or subscribe to within Spotify and suggestions for users.
That’s not all – the “Now Playing” section of the Last.fm app allows users to get more information about a track or band.
The future of social music?
Having launched in America, begun its subscription model and formed a partnership with Facebook it has been a busy year for Spotify. These new apps will help to continue to build the brand and add a new and exciting dimension to Spotify’s user experience.
November 29, 2011
The last year has seen the rise of ‘social’ within search. The huge growth of social media, together with search engines now increasingly focussing on providing the best possible user experience, has resulted in a greater prominence being given to social platforms when search engines return results.
Google, Yahoo and Bing now index social comments and use this information to tailor and personalise users’ search results. Google’s ‘+1’ button now has a large impact on page rank, while Bing has partnered with Facebook to display data from the Facebook ‘Like’ button as well as users’ profiles.
One of the most important effects of this shift towards social is the impact content now has on improving your brand’s online visibility. The phrase being constantly repeated is that ‘content is king’.
Brands therefore need to devise a highly effective social media content plan that takes into consideration the importance of search optimisation. This means creating fresh content which is optimised with relevant keywords and encourages people to share, retweet and engage with it across the social web.
Yet, competition is fierce. There are 27 million pieces of online content shared daily and 1 in 5 social media messages include links to content on the web.
So, as a brand, how do you stand out? With SEO success focusing increasingly on a brand’s social presence it is not enough to just ‘have’ content.
Your content needs to provide something unique and valuable to your audience. Ask yourself: does it convey your brand accurately and provide value to your audience?
The aim is to create active content so that your audience are participating and interacting. Onsite this could be encouraging them to comment on posts and rate articles, while offsite you need to maximise the number of social reactions, such as Facebook ‘Likes’ and tweets.
Here are my recommendations on key considerations when creating content:
WHERE you say it
Social media offers a range of tools that will provide unique insights which allow you to understand your audience. It’s vital you use these tools to research, monitor, understand your audience and make sure that you are where your audience are and using the most relevant and effective platforms.
Your social media content plan should reflect this. It also needs to be continuous and flexible as well as multi-channel. Brands must leverage a range of relevant channels. Twitter and Facebook seem the obvious choices but there are several channels that will help boost your SEO – these could include blogs, LinkedIn, Q&As, podcasts as well as virtual events. Also consider creating a presence on video sites, photo sites, social bookmarking sites and review sites. These will all help to boost the amount of ‘high quality’ content you have and boost your search optimisation.
WHAT you have to say
When creating content, think about the user’s online journey – how will they find your content? This is where search engine optimisation is vital. With the rise of social search, investing in original, quality content is essential to your SEO success.
Google itself has stated that their algorithms are aimed at helping users easily find high quality content. The launch this year of Google Panda, a major upgrade of their ranking algorithm, has resulted in what can be seen as a transformation in search optimisation.
Preference is now given to websites that publish high quality, original content on an ongoing basis. There is also a new focus on social mentions so that the more times people retweet, +1, ‘Like’ or share your online content the higher it ranks.
It means that brands must have a strategy in place for creating regular, relevant and optimised new content as well as growing and engaging your presence on social media networks.
Keywords, meta-tags, alt tags, anchor tags, page titles and heading structures all need to be optimised with the keywords that are most relevant for your brand. It is also vital to be aware of what your competitors are doing and what keywords they rank for and bid on. Putting in place an effective content marketing strategy that is fully optimised and continually updated will have a significant effect on your ranking position on search engines.
However, remember that optimisation of your content shouldn’t be to the detriment of the quality of the user experience or how compelling the content is – it needs to be both optimised so that search engines will find it and compelling enough that your audience will read and share it.
HOW OFTEN you say it
It’s often said that the secret to social media is timing. This means that you must schedule your social media activity and make sure you post at the optimum times for your audience.
Brands often ask how frequently they should post on their Facebook Page and when is the best time to post. The answer is that each campaign and brand is different. As a rule of thumb early mornings as the working day commences, lunchtimes and early evenings straight after work provide the most engagement. Facebook’s Insights data provide an invaluable understanding of how often and when your fans are engaging with your content – and help to ensure that you connect with your audience at the optimum times. Posting at these peak times will have an impact on the viralability of your content, with people more likely to connect with it and share it.
When it comes to frequency there is a delicate balance to be found: post too often and, though you will see an immediate increase in impressions, you will also see a loss in fan numbers. Post too infrequently and you will miss out on opportunities to reach your fans. In general, tweeting 1 – 4 times per hour and posting at least once a day on Facebook will provide the best results.
HOW you say it
As a brand you will have a tone of voice that permeates your organisation. When you create a social media content plan you need to consistently communicate this tone of voice across all platforms.
There are several fundamental factors and ideas that you should focus on when creating your content plan: use your brand narrative to tell a story through social channels. And present this story in a fresh and interesting way by using a range of media – videos, polls, photos as well as text.
One of the most important things, and one that many brands often seem to forget, is that social media is about having conversations. Be engaging, start conversations with your audience and build a real community – this will make your audience much more receptive to your brand and more likely to share and comment upon the content that you are posting.
You must use your content to associate your brand with specific topics and segments that are relevant to your brand and will position you as the experts within your field. It must also be entertaining, informative, and deliver some quantifiable value such as exclusive deals or products.
Quality AND quantity
The rise in the importance of social media to search requires brands to devise a content strategy that provides both quality AND quantity. The real time nature of social media means that content has to be posted frequently in order to stay ahead of your competitors. However, if you want to really stand out your content must also be compelling enough for your audience to engage with it.
Creating optimised content that is tailored both for your audience and for search engines will result in conversations, sharing and high visibility on search engines – in other words, social media success for your brand.
November 25, 2011
The launch of the new iPhone 4S showcased a new feature that has had everybody talking: Siri. The voice-recognition tool has proved a revelation since the release of Apple’s latest mobile, allowing you to use your voice to send messages, update your Twitter feed, schedule meetings, place phone calls and more.
Now Wishpot, the social shopping service that lets users build online wish lists, are taking advantage of the technology to do something festive. So, with Christmas fast approaching, there is now one more thing you can use Siri for: adding items to a Christmas wish list and getting a text response.
With many people currently making their Christmas lists it’s the ideal time to launch the app – and it couldn’t be easier to use:
How it works:
It really is simple: if you are a member of Wishpot you tell Siri the product you want (you can also read aloud barcode UPC and ISPN numbers). Siri’s technology then sends it to Wishpot, which automatically sends you a message telling you the lowest price for the item – and also notifies you when the price drops.
With brands like Amazon and Starbucks rolling out tools and apps to help boost sales during Christmas, Wishpot’s use of Siri demonstrates the brand’s innovation and is a great way to keep track of everything you want to buy. Particularly today – it is, after all, Black Friday.
November 24, 2011
With the launch of Google+ the search engine giant has been taking steps to more closely integrate its platforms – and this has now extended to YouTube.
Last week they announced a new design of their video platform and this week it was rolled out to certain users. The revamped design features a new look and places a much larger emphasis on social integration.
The look and feel includes an updated sleeker design which is less cluttered and also easier to navigate. YouTube may be the biggest video sharing platform on the web but its design has never been the most appealing, especially compared to other video sites such as Vimeo. This new design goes a long way to improving this. The design also provides users with more sizing options for their videos and also makes recommended content ‘pop out’ when clicked.
The greatest change, however, is the deep Google+ integration. When logged into Google all the subscriptions and channels you follow are organised into a left sidebar, which makes it easier to see videos that are shared from people within your social circles on Google+. This means it’s simple to watch videos that people who you trust have recommended. There are also recommended content category sections tailored to your needs.
This is a smart move by Google, providing users with a personalised service and integrating their services – and in the long term it should see Google+ grow their user numbers.
How to enable the new design
The new design is currently being rolled out in phases to certain users and will not be available to all video users for a few weeks. However, there is a way you can start using the new design right now.
It’s relatively simple to do and will only take a couple of minutes. When you’re on the YouTube website, you need to open up your browser’s developer tools — Ctrl / Cmd + Shift + K in Firefox; Ctrl + Shift + J (Win) or Cmd + Alt + J (Mac) for Chrome — and input the following code. Alternatively to put it more simply – right click on your mouse, in the pop up box click on ‘Inspect Element’ then click on the ‘Console tab’ and copy paste in the line of code:
Close the pop up box, reload the site and you should then be viewing the brand new YouTube design.
November 10, 2011
People often refer to the term ‘viral video’. However, without video seeding and organic growth all you have is a video – it is the seeding and sharing that make a video ‘go viral’.
This means that ‘video seeding’ should be an integral part of an online video campaign. A successful seeding campaign, which is fully integrated across your entire brand’s marketing activity, will get your content seen on social channels and plant it across the web, ensuring it gets in front of as many of the (right) people as possible.
A critical element of any online video campaign is, of course, creating a great piece of content; one that is as ‘watchable’ as possible. There are a number of key considerations. Think about the length of the video (ideally it shouldn’t be over 2 minutes) and understand the intended aim of your video and set out clearly defined KPIs so that you can measure its success. Most importantly, make sure you have created a video that is compelling enough for your fans to want to watch and share with their friends. By completing this check list of online video best practice you’ll be the ideal position to launch your seeding campaign.
Here are our top 5 essential steps to give your video the very best chance of success:
1. Optimise the videos for search
Whether you’re hosting your video on YouTube, Vimeo, MetaCafe or another video site it is crucial to optimise it for search in order to maximise the number of video views.
With over 13 million hours of video uploaded to the site last year alone, YouTube is by far the most popular video-hosting platform and is the second largest search engine in the world. It relies on three key signals when ranking your videos within the YouTube search results:
- Keywords in your title and description
- Number of video views
- Video ratings
It is crucial to think about what keywords you use in the titles and descriptions when uploading your video. At the outset you must carry out keyword research in order to uncover niches in the targeted terms. Use your brand insights to decide upon your keywords in your title, description and tags and ensure each is fully optimised. Here’s a checklist to ensure your videos are fully optimised:
Title: The title is very important to SEO. Make sure it grabs the attention of your target audience and use high volume keywords. You have 99 characters to optimise your title text so search engines can easily categorise it and your audience can find it. Think carefully about your target keywords, as well as any other keywords you may want to rank for, and choose a title that is popular enough to drive viewer numbers. Another important factor to remember is that before you even upload the video you need to optimise the file name of the video using your keywords.
Description: The video description should explain exactly what is being shown in the video. You have 5,000 characters in which to describe your video (though keep in mind only about 25-30 characters will be visible in your YouTube search results) and optimise it for key terms. The YouTube Creator Playbook advises putting the most “compelling” information at the beginning. It’s important to avoid key word stuffing, however you must also make it as easy as possible for search engines to find your content – getting this balance right is crucial.
Tags: Tagging your videos allows you to choose a range of words or phrases that will help search engines and your audience to find your video. The key to using tags effectively is to choose unique keyword phrases that you think people would use to search for your video. As a rule of thumb around 5-10 tags for each video is best practice. One tip that may also prove useful is to include any misspellings of your brand name.
In order to assist you with this YouTube has an extremely useful Keyword Tool which allows you to view search volumes for individual words, analyse the demographics of people searching for them and generates suggestions for you.
2. Use social bookmarking tools
Submitting your videos to social bookmarking sites like Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon is an extremely useful way to set in motion your video seeding campaign. During the initial launch of the campaign these sites can help to drive increased traffic to your videos.
Submitting to these sites will also help your video get indexed faster and will help to optimise your video by providing additional inbound links and improving video search engine ranking.
However, as a brand you must be extremely careful how you promote your video. If the audience think that you are simply pushing out a video while offering no value this may be seen as spamming and could result in a backlash from online users. One way of avoiding this is to use Reddit’s sponsored links, which allows brands to upload content while avoiding accusations of spamming.
3. Maximise organic growth
For brands social media is all about creating compelling content that has great viral potential, content that fans want to talk about and share. The more creative and innovative you can be the more inclined your audience will be to share your content and engage with the brand.
Make use of the viral nature of social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+, as well as leveraging your other marketing channels such as your website and newsletters. By creating an integrated strategic marketing approach and optimising all of your channels will greatly increase the exposure of your video.
This will also bring with it optimisation benefits. Google use the number of links to your video to determine its position in the search rankings, so by encouraging people to share your videos across the social web you will also boost your SEO results.
4. Use advertising
While organic growth and manual seeding are powerful ways to boost the number of views your video receives social advertising is also an extremely effective way to reach specific audience groups.
Strategic advertising can be run on video sharing channels themselves such as YouTube who offer a range of options, such as promoted videos as well as ‘InVideo Ads’.
Facebook’s advertising platform also offers a powerful and highly targeted way to promote your video. With the ability to target by age, sex, location and also by interests it provides an invaluable way to promote and drive traffic to your video channel.
5. Blogger outreach
Blogger outreach is another extremely effective strategy when running an online video campaign. Working with prominent bloggers you can connect with targeted groups of consumers who you know are interested in your offering and are receptive to your messages – this will guarantee your brand word of mouth recommendations across key communities.
With access to influential, relevant and trusted influencers you will be able to successfully drive traffic to your video and leverage the passion and enthusiasm of the target audience and amplify the reach of your video.
Optimisation + great content
‘Optimisation’ is key when it comes to video seeding. When you have uploaded your video you must optimise the key words so that search engines can easily find it. Then, in order to optimise the reach of your video, you must use social advertising and social bookmarks. Finally you must optimise the power of your message by leveraging trusted influencers on blogs, Facebook and Twitter.
These tactics will help to maximise the chances of your video being seen by as many people as possible – and are key to helping it go viral. However, it’s also vital to keep in mind campaign effectiveness will be limited unless you have a great piece of video content which people want to share and engage with in the first place.
So, when launching your video, remember that it requires the perfect combination of great content, measurable objectives, a comprehensive seeding strategy together with continuous optimisation. Only then are you giving it the very best chance to go ‘viral’.
November 3, 2011
Twitter has grown more in the last 9 months than in the last 5 years. This staggering growth is fantastic news for brands. Twitter is a platform which offers a range of opportunities to brands, with companies having used Twitter in innovative and effective ways to increase online visibility, communicate key messages, provide customer service, promote themselves and, most importantly, engage directly with their audience.
Working with brands and developing a Twitter community we have found that people who follow brands on Twitter are more likely to both buy and recommend those brands’ products. Indeed over 50% of users are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after following them on Twitter.
This ability to increase customer loyalty means brands must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities Twitter provides. Yet, it is not a simple or straightforward process – building an audience on Twitter requires you to both attract and continuously engage with your fans and build a longstanding relationship with them.
So, how do you attract and keep the audience that you want? Here are our top 5 tips:
1. Set out objectives
The first and most important question must be: what do you want to achieve with Twitter? Before embarking on any social media activity it’s crucial to have tangible aims in mind and a clear vision of what success means for you. There is no point (and, most importantly, it’s a wasted opportunity) launching a Twitter account with no clear objectives in mind. You need to decide: is it a customer service tool? Is it a promotional tool? Is it simply for brand awareness?
At the outset you must carry out research on your competitors so you can analyse what they are doing on Twitter and uncover the gaps in the market. Brands can use this information to devise a way to differentiate themselves and offer their audience something new.
When formulating your Twitter strategy you also need look at the broader marketing and strategic goals of your business – this will give you an understanding of what you want to accomplish. The most important thing to ascertain is if Twitter is right for your business. If it doesn’t make sense for your company, then don’t use it.
If you decide it is the right platform you must set out measurable goals and KPIs so that when you launch you have a clear focus and are able to measure exactly what you have achieved.
2. Monitor to understand your audience
When it comes to understanding your audience Twitter is an invaluable source of information and insights. Its real-time search engine provides you with an immediate pulse of public opinion and it’s vital you use this to discover what your audience or clients want. Utilising this information will be invaluable in understanding the public perception of your brand and devising an ongoing strategy that responds to audience needs.
There are also a range of external tools you can utilise to track your brand on the platform. By creating search queries for key industry terms and tracking them throughout the day using a tool such as HootSuite you can uncover and understand the conversations that are happening around your brand.
Utilising Twitter monitoring tools allows you to track conversations about a problem your business can solve and gain insights into what is happening in your industry. You can also understand if one of your customers is making a complaint about you (and respond immediately) as well as receiving direct and immediate feedback on promotions you are running.
3. TwOptimise your Tweets
Optimising your brand’s keywords on Twitter is crucial to your brand’s social success and must form the foundation of any strategic plan.
Think carefully about your keywords and create a content plan that schedules what you are saying and sets out which key terms you will be using in your posts. Keeping a very clear focus on the core essence of your brand – and the keyterms you will be using – is crucial for optimising your brand for search.
While Twitter is about being flexible and responsive, it’s also crucial to have this content strategy in place so you stay focused on achieving key objectives. This doesn’t mean you can’t vary the type of tweets you are posting but it does mean that you have to regularly publish ones that are on-topic and keyword-rich. This will ensure that your Twitter page ranks higher than your competitors.
There are other ways you can make your brand easier to find for search engines. Your Twitter profile is like any other page Google is indexing, with a headline, body copy and links. Therefore, you must ensure that the copy is keyword dense – while not forgetting that it needs to be compelling enough so that whoever reads it will want to follow you.
4. Remember: Twitter is a value exchange
Many brands, particularly smaller businesses (but also some bigger businesses as well), are misusing Twitter as a platform to simply push out promotional messages onto users’ Twitter streams.
This is a mistake. At the forefront of your mind should be that Twitter is not about you – it’s about providing something of value to your audience. People follow brands for specific reasons: for example, to receive exclusivity, promotions and be “in the know” (67% of brand followers expect unique content from them). As a brand you need to be offering all of these things – and more – to ensure that people read your tweets and are engaged enough to click on your links and retweet you.
Carry out research to uncover what your audience want to hear about and tweet it. Understand which tweets get the most interaction and refine what you are saying until you have perfected it. You must also follow relevant people and use the features on Twitter, such as hashtags, to engage in conversations and make your brand more visible.
Through all of this you must remain strategic about how you tweet. This means focusing on your brand proposition, providing value and not focusing solely on ‘the sale’. In this way you will develop a style that matches your brand personality and engages with your consumers in a consistent, compelling and helpful way. Such an approach ensures that when your audience need what you offer, you are the brand they choose to use.
5. Fit Twitter Into Your Social Media Marketing
Your online and social media marketing needs to be integrated and connected and it’s crucial to constantly keep in mind how Twitter fits into your overall social media marketing strategy. This can help to build stronger relationships by offering value across the social web. There are a number of ways to do this.
At the simplest level you must make sure that there is a clearly displayed link to your Twitter account on the homepage of your website. In addition to this add a link to your account in your email signatures. It’s also best practice to add your profile to popular Twitter directories such as WeFollow, Twellow and Just Tweet It. These directories increase the chances of relevant audience groups finding you as they allow you to put your brand in the most relevant and popular categories.
Another effective way to ensure a ‘connected strategy’ is to link your tweets through to relevant content you have produced on other platforms. Linking through to blog posts will allow you to drive traffic and engage in industry debates with your followers. If you are running a competition on Facebook use Twitter to promote it, and vice versa. This kind of cross platform promotion is a great way to keep your audience engaged and aware of everything you offer.
However, remember that each platform demands its own strategy – so don’t have tweets that are synched directly to your Facebook Page, as hashtags and the way tweets are presented do not often lend themselves well to Facebook.
Your audience is out there
The great news for businesses is it’s clear that if you get all of these elements right the audience on Twitter are very open to having a relationship with your brand. Too many get it wrong and don’t understand why their follower numbers are low or why there is no interaction. However, brands who do provide value and engage with their audience are really seeing the benefits of using the platform. Your audience is out there, you just need to understand what they want – and deliver it.
October 31, 2011
For many companies it can be difficult to gain a clear view of the bigger strategic picture when it comes to social media. Businesses often make the mistake of trying to build their strategy around platforms instead of their own unique business objectives.
Yet there are fundamental questions that need to be answered before engaging in any form of social media activity: how does social media investment relate to business value? Is an acquisition or retention model the best strategy for your business? How does your social media strategy align with your business and other marketing strategies? And what are the real costs?
It’s vital to come up with clear answers to these questions in order to devise a comprehensive social media strategy that is integrated with your wider marketing approach. There is very little value in starting, for example, a Twitter account and a Facebook Page with no plan in place to measure success or understand what you want to achieve from it.
A social media strategy is the cornerstone of any successful social media campaign – it will help you understand how social media can best help you achieve your unique objectives and ensure you maximise ROI.
Here is our step by step guide to creating a comprehensive and successful strategy:
Set objectives and goals
It’s vital to establish from the outset exactly what your business wants to achieve from any social media activity; who the demographic audience are you are trying to reach and identify a clear way of quantifying your success. When setting your objectives you must always bear in mind that social media is a long-term commitment.
You need to think strategically about what your business and your audience want from social media and set goals accordingly. For instance, do you want to use social media for brand awareness or to help drive more leads? Try to connect social media goals with the wider goals of the organisation – how can social media help drive sales? How can it help you save money? How can it improve internal communication?
In many instances social media is uniquely positioned to help your business achieve these – but it takes careful planning, expertise and experience.
Whatever you want to achieve from social media – whether it’s improving customer service, increasing leads or growing brand awareness – it’s vital to attach KPIs to all activity you are running so that you have a clear understanding of its effectiveness. These can include but are not limited to:
- Twitter followers
- Facebook Likes
- The % of females versus males within your community
By tracking these metrics over time the results can help you understand the true value of social media and the impact it has on your bottom line.
The social media audit
Once you have understood what you want to achieve from social media you must analyse the online space and your brand’s place within it. Use best of breed monitoring tools – together with expert human analysis – to carry out research and understand your brand’s online presence and share of voice.
This requires a social media audit. The audit is a complex and extensive process but it is essential in providing insights into your brand – the volume and sentiment of relevant conversations in social spaces and what action must be taken. This market analysis also allows you to benchmark yourselves against your competitors and understand how you are positioned in your industry.
Platforms must be analysed and conversations tracked in order to identify business relevant topics as well as potential crises and issues. The result will be that your brand is in a position to establish who your audience are, where they are online and define your objectives to maximise engagement with them.
Finding the most relevant platforms
The growth of social media means there are a wealth of social platforms available to your business, each providing different ways to engage with your audience. However, not every platform will be relevant to your brand. When setting out a strategy you must decide on which of them will be most valuable in helping you achieve your objectives.
You must develop an understanding of which social platforms provide the best way to engage with your audience. Monitor these sites to see mentions of your brand name, your competitors and specific keywords in order to identify and understand which ones your target audience use and which offer the greatest opportunities for your business.
Of course this list will include sites such as Twitter and Facebook – however, there will also be specific blogs and forums which will be suited to your business as well as niche sites where passionate fans of your brand congregate.
The global nature of social media also means that you need to be aware of networks in particular territories. For example, in China you will be using Renren instead of Facebook.
Stakeholder buy in and resources
When identifying these platforms, the resources available – both in terms of finance and staff – must be at the front of your mind. Social media requires a lot of time in order to sustain meaningful relationships with your audience across multiple platforms.
You need to get buy in from staff throughout the organisation – from management through to the people who will be involved in the day-to-day implementation of your social media activity. This means demonstrating the impact of the strategy and the tangible ways it will benefit the entire organisation.
Develop a roadmap to social media success
With your priority platforms chosen you can then start to put in place a roadmap for defining and managing the customer experience. This includes clearly outlining how you will engage on each platform that has been selected, what content will be used to populate each site and how you will maximise engagement with your audience.
Central to this is the creation of a content plan. Your content plan will include a content calendar, tone of voice document, brand guidelines and social media guidelines which will encapsulate your brand narrative. This process requires time and resources but these strategies are crucial in helping to create relevant content that you can publish to bridge a connection between your business and ensures you will build an active and engaged community.
Having a comprehensive communication plan in place ensures that you can interact with your audience in a timely and relevant manner and means that you are ready to deal with any potential crises or challenges that occur. It also provides a clear strategy for future social media success.
Having a strategy in place is a crucial foundation for a successful social media programme – but it is just that, a foundation. It is essential to continuously measure and evaluate your social media activity in order to maximise the success of the programme.
You will have already established metrics and baselines that are relevant to your business goals. By tracking the performance of your activity in relation to these KPIs you can gain insights which will be invaluable in fine tuning your social media programme.
The good news is that social media provides the tools to accurately track and monitor your programme – and you must use these findings to optimise the programme and ensure that your social media activity is performing as effectively as it possibly can. This not only leads to social media success but is also vital in contributing to the overall objectives of your business
October 13, 2011
Facebook has recently released a new set of tools in order to give marketers deeper insights into how well their Pages are engaging and reaching Facebook users. Facebook have promised that these new analytics will help page owners better understand engagement on their brand pages – and, ultimately, make those Pages more useful to brands.
The Facebook Page Insights tool has now been expanded to provide marketers with additional information about their audience. Now, not only will marketers be able to understand the number and ‘Likes’ and impressions on their Page, but they will also be provided with more detailed information such as Friends of Fans, which is designed to show the maximum reach, and Weekly Total Reach, which combines the total exposure to the brand, either via paid or non-paid activity. Most interestingly to brands could be the ‘People Talking About This’ metric which is designed to show conversations happening about a brand across Facebook.
Are ‘People Talking About’ your brand?
The ‘People Are Talking About This’ metric will perhaps prove the most appealing to brands. This metric is based on the total numbers of ‘Likes’, shares and comments relating to a Page during the previous 7 days.
It takes information including the number of people ‘Liking’ your Page; the volume of people ‘Liking’, commenting on, or sharing, the content you have posted on your wall/Page and how many users answered a question you posted, who have RSVP to your events or checked in at your location.
The most important thing to note about this metric is that it is not only visible to the administrators of the Page – it is also visible to page visitors as a public facing metric.
The number appears on the left hand side of the page under the total number of ‘Likes’ and is calculated through an algorithm which analyses ‘Likes’, comments, shares and other Facebook actions to do with your Page. The aim is to help your fans understand how engaging a Page is, in a way, giving Facebook users a transparent version of Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.
It’s all about engagement
These tools and metrics reflect the company’s increasing emphasis on the value of ‘sharing’ and the weight Facebook place on engagement between brands and users. Facebook mark a continuation of their growing belief that the amount people share on Facebook and how much they engage with a brand Page as a stronger indication of the value of the Page than simply the total number of users.
These new metrics will force brands to develop a truly effective engagement strategy in order to leverage the power of sharing and use peer recommendations as a brand marketing tool. Pages have never been just about the number of ‘Likes’ and this metric helps to further reinforce this idea.
By focusing on engaging with your target audience rather than just on volume the end result will be a win-win situation for both brands and users. Users will see the quality and value of Facebook Pages improve, while brands will, ultimately, have a more engaged Facebook community who feel an affinity with the brand.