Archive | July, 2013

The New Facebook Insights- Top 3 Metrics!

29 Jul

One thing’s for certain: with the new insights tool, Facebook takes the lead as the social network that provides the most comprehensive analytics for brand promotions. Apart from its updated ad displays, this will be yet another feature that will attract businesses to invest in the largest social network. We’ll take you through why!

We’ll touch upon three main points that we believe are the most useful insights for marketers and brand managers.

Facebook breaks down reach between fans and non-fans so you can know who’s sharing your posts the most. Another important metric is the track of when your fans are online. You no longer have to rely on different infographics telling you the optimal posting times for Facebook. Now, you can gauge optimal times for your page yourself. Lastly, Facebook has finally included official statistics for engagement ratewith statuses, photos, videos or links.

Reaching Fans & Non-Fans:

The new Facebook insights combine viral, organic and paid reach into total reach so you can track one number constantly. You can always choose which to view with a simple drop-down menu in Posts tab. Under All Posts, go to the Reach drop down menu and choose between total or organic/paid reach.

When you select organic/paid, it will show you the reach in different colors. You can hover on the reach bar and it will display the exact number of people reached organically and through paid advertising.

Similarly, you can see statistics for whether your post reached more fans or people who have never liked your page. This is an important metric that can help you measure the value of your current fans. If your fans are legitimate, you should be making more efforts to get your message across to them because they’ve already shown you that they are interested in what you have to say. Click on any individual post and you’ll see how many times the post has been shared, liked and commented on. We’ll talk about this in more detail under “Engagement Rate.”

Optimal Posting Times:

Did you spend hours researching on optimal posting times for Facebook? Did you get confused by vague guidelines and infographics that all said different things? Say goodbye to all the confusions. Facebook has incorporated the official optimal times for your specific page in the new insights. Go to your Posts tab and then choose “When Your Fans Are Online.”

Here’s how they work:

Under the “Days” section, Facebook will show you the average amount of your fans who saw any posts on Facebook in an hour, on a given day of the week. Since it says “any posts”, we’re assuming it means not necessarily your Page posts. So this metric shows when your fans are most active on Facebook updating statuses, adding friends, liking and commenting – a handy metric for you to know when your fans are most likely to see and engage with your posts popping up in their News Feeds. You can analyze which days they are the most active and choose to increase posts for that day.

Under the “Times” section, Facebook displays the average number of people who saw any posts on Facebook in an hour. It says “people” here instead of “fans” but we think it means your Page fans onlybecause otherwise the stats would be showing a breakdown of 699 million people! You can now find out the average time every week that your fans are most active on Facebook. But you’re posting on Facebook daily, right? You can now optimize your Facebook posts per day and post at optimal times for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.

Simply hover your mouse over a specific day and you’ll see a dark blue line graph superimpose the area graph. This line graph shows you the average number of people who saw any posts on Facebook in an hour on that specific day (Monday, Tuesday etc.). The area graph in the background is faded out and still shows you the weekly averages so you can compare and see exactly how activity changes on a specific day.

Engagement Rate:

Under the “Posts” tab select “All Posts.” Next to the Reach drop-down menu, there’s another one that by default is set to “Post Clicks/Likes, Comments and Shares”. Choose “Engagement rate” from this menu. Facebook has introduced the official engagement rates for each post. It adds the number of likes, shares and comments on a post on a given day and divides by the total number of fans on the day.

This is a crucial metric as it is important to have both reach and engagement on your posts. If you’re reaching a lot of people through one post but that post is not attracting as much engagement, you need to be careful. Why? Because if a person sees your post and doesn’t interact with it, Facebook will gradually reduce the number of times he sees your posts in his News Feed. You don’t want to lose your fans’ attention like this.

You can sort the posts by post clicks or likes/comments/shares by clicking on “engagement” and choosing an option. If your page has had a lot of posts, it may take time for the table to get sorted. Further, if you want to find metrics for each individual post, simply click on it and you will be treated to all the data about how much the post was liked, shared or commented and even if someone hid it or marked it as spam on their News Feed. The latter is under negative interactions and this is a great way to stay on the alert.

All in all, the new Facebook insights are another reason why we think it is a great social network for brand promotions. The addition of new features such as when your fans are online and engagement rates for individual posts means you can build a more effective strategy for your page.

Why You Should Update Your Business Marketing To Include Social Media

22 Jul

If you own a business and you are not tapping into the vast empire of marketing possibilities social media offers, you should be. It is undeniable that social media is here to stay. Businesses that choose to integrate social media into their existing marketing plans can easily gain a competitive edge over their competition.

Regardless of whether you are in charge of a small local restaurant or large construction company, adding social media to your marketing plan can provide your business tremendous value. To learn more about why you should update your business plan to include social media marketing, consider the following.

Social Media Is Your Marketing Budget’s New BFF

Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter dominate the social media world, and they are free to use. Consider the plethora of possibilities your business can tap into by bypassing costly print advertising and posting your promotions for free through your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

If your current marketing strategy includes promotional events or coupons, using advertising and networking with social media efforts can reach far more customers than print advertising, creating endless potential. Adding social media networks to your existing marketing toolkit keeps your business plan current, stretches your marketing budget and gives your business a competitive edge.

Join The Social Media Party

Social media is everywhere and is available for everyone to use. The likelihood that your customers are using social media networks is colossal. If you are wondering if your invite was lost in the mail, it wasn’t — there is no invitation needed to join the social media party.

If you are a small business, chances are your competitors are already using social media to communicate to their customers. If you’re not using social media marketing to reach yours, it’s time to join the party. By simply adding a Facebook page that’s connected to your business website you reach an untapped market of customers.

Moreover, the increased visibility allows you to connect with customers on a more personal level, which can drive more traffic to your website. Social media networks and marketing strategies can easily fit into your current marketing initiative while integrating easily with your existing online presence.

Don’t Be Afraid to Invest

Social media is growing fast, and it can seem overwhelming at times — but don’t let your fear of the unknown be the decision maker on whether or not you use social media for your business. If you are keeping yourself in the dark because you’re unsure how to take the social media plunge, consider investing in consultants and software integration.

Social media consultants can offer their expertise and help you develop a strong online media campaign for your business. Additionally, consultants can give you advice on what type of social media management software can best meet your business needs. For example, if you own a pizzeria, in addition to your social media marketing plan, connecting it to an online ordering restaurant program can offer conveniences your customers never dreamed of.

The possibilities are endless as you can promote events, specials, coupons, menus, advertise job openings and make ordering a pizza for delivery as simple as sending an email. Overcome your fear of social media and keep one step ahead of your competition and update your marketing plan to include social media today.

5 Ways Social Media Insights Can Influence Your B2B Marketing

13 Jul

You meet new people all the time. At work, at your kid’s school, at Starbucks while waiting for your morning latte … and maybe it’s someone you’ve seen before, but once you’ve had a conversation you’ll always look at that person differently. Why? Because you’ve chatted, looked them in the eyes, traded pleasantries. It doesn’t take much for you to form an impression.

As a matter of fact, you probably have a better sense of how to market to someone you’ve actually met than anyone who’s name and email address happens to be in your database. Now imagine if you could meet with everyone in that database. Well, clearly that’s not possible unless it has less than 100 people in it, and even then, that’s a lot of morning lattes!

The good news is there’s another way.

Why not leverage social media to gain insights into what your target buyer is talking about, what content they’re sharing, and who most influences them? It’s not the same as connecting one on one, instead it’s more akin to walking through a party listening to conversations and seeing whom different folks gravitate to. But what a great way to get a sense of who to approach and how to engage them, right?

Tap into Social Insights About Your Target Audience

To get started, you first need to do these three things:

1. Build social channels filled with prospects and customers

My experience is that most B2B marketers aren’t focused enough on building high quality social channels. If you’re one of them, then repeat after me: “It’s about quality NOT quantity.” Given that, how do your social channels stack up? Look through your followers and fans and see how many you (or your sales team) would be excited to talk to. Yes, you have a lot of work to do.

2. Find your target audience on social media

Don’t think your prospects are using social media? You’re wrong. They’re on LinkedIn, they read industry blogs and they ask questions on Twitter. So find out where they’re participating and be there too.

Start with LinkedIn. Join groups that your best customers and top prospects are already participating in. Next look at industry publications and see who’s commenting on blog posts and following these publications on Twitter. You get the idea!

3. Start listening to social conversations

Now track what your customers and prospects are talking about on social media. Each day list the relevant discussions happening in the LinkedIn groups you care about. Note which industry blog posts seem to generate the most comments and what those comments are about. See what sources and topics your “quality followers” are tweeting. Over time (and it won’t take long) social insights will begin to emerge …

Lots of Ways to Put Social Insights to Work

Armed with these social insights, you can begin to incorporate them into your marketing efforts.

Here are five different ways to consider:

Inform buyer personas.

You’ve found out where your target buyers are active on social media, shouldn’t that information be part of your buyer personas? Absolutely. How about the topics you see them sharing or questions they’re asking? Yes, again. And which publications, brands, and people they read, share, and mention? Ditto.

Identify key influencers to engage

Not sure who else to have as a guest speaker for your next webinar or user conference? Take a look at who in your industry has the strongest influence with your target audience. Hint: they have lots of followers, retweets and mentions. Start engaging these key influencers before you need to ask for their help.

Get content marketing ideas

So what are your prospects talking about on social media? What questions are they asking? Which posts are getting shared the most? All helpful information if you’re trying to figure out the topic of your next blog post, white paper or webinar. And knowing which keywords they’re using will help with title creation, too!

Find out where to promote your brand

Which online publications are doing the best job generating content that your target audience actively shares, likes, mentions, and comments on? Chances are this is where you want to consider paid advertising, public relations outreach, and submitting “by-line” articles.

Competitive insights

Don’t forget your buyers are also following, sharing, and engaging with your competitors. Plus your competitors are participating on LinkedIn, tweeting out their latest whitepapers and building their own social channels. Why not get insights into what they’re up to?

Now it’s your turn. Are you using social media insights to inform your marketing efforts?

If so, how? If not … well, why not?

You’re Dead… If You Don’t Integrate Social Media & PR Into Your Local SEO Strategy

8 Jul

he peppered moth (Biston betularia), once white with black spots, faced a strange challenge in London during the Industrial Revolution. Buildings and trees, stained with soot, turned black. The light colored moths could no longer hide against this backdrop, and were eaten up by birds.

But some peppered moths survived – by turning black themselves!

To survive, you must adapt and change with your environment. Otherwise, you’re dead. That’s the powerful lesson business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs can learn from a humble moth.

The Times, They Are A-Changin’

A major shift has taken place that alters the way you’re doing business online — and offline. It has to do with social media, SEO and public relations (PR). Ignoring their impact on your marketing is suicidal. Weaving them into your strategy can be transformational.

Let’s talk about why you mustn’t merely include social media, SEO and PR in your existing business and marketing, but intelligently integrate them in a manner that lets you dominate your niche. With the right approach, you can create and reap synergies that will deliver long-lasting effects at a high ROI.

The Shift In Emphasis Toward Trust

Tactical SEO games are about to end. Google will no longer ignore manipulative SEO tricks based on fake check-ins and false reviews. Tactics like that could destroy trust in Local Search, and Google doesn’t want that to happen. Thus, there’s a concerted effort on Google’s part to determine identity and assign trustworthiness based on it.

Then we have Google+. Did you believe it’s just another social network for folks to meet, greet, and share information? No, it’s much more — it’s a far-reaching effort to establish user trust levels.

Trust has become Google’s financial lifeline. With the majority of the search giant’s $50.2 billion revenue in 2012 coming from ads, Google wants people to keep coming back. And they arecoming back — because they trust Google’s search results. Once they stop finding relevant and reliable answers, they’ll abandon the big G.

To prevent this, Google must:

  1. Correctly uncover searcher intent and understand their problems, mining data from the knowledge graph.
  2. Provide local ads and search results relevant to people, wherever they happen to be at the moment.
  3. Identify real people and assign them a trust score, using signals that are tough to game or cheat.

This means SEO suddenly has grown very complex. Isolated on-page and off-page SEO tactics are no longer enough. SEO is now true marketing. It’s also about social media and PR.

Where Are You Investing Your Marketing Budget?

Blindly throwing cash at outdated techniques is a road to slow, sure death. To succeed today, your approach must change. You must evolve to survive.

According to Google, 97% of customers search for local businesses and offers online. If they can’t find you, they’ll go to your competition. Optimizing for local and mobile search is therefore critical.

Google CEO, Larry Page, has said that the knowledge graph is only 1% of where they want it to be. They want to know more about their users, and this includes you. They seek to judge whether or not your content, your website, your offer — your business — are worth sharing in their search results.

It’s a long journey, and there won’t be any quick fixes. There are 3 key factors at play in this dynamic marketplace:

  1. Technological advancements
  2. Human behavioral and attitudinal changes
  3. The digital ecosystem

Google needs to keep pace with all of them. If you’re worried about how challenging this all seems for your business, just think about how much harder it must be for Google!

Google Knows Where Your Customers Are

Google Knowledge Graph Carousel For Local Search

The search giant recently launched a knowledge graph carousel for local search, which means that local search results are now displayed higher on the SERPs. The carousel is populated dynamically based on the searcher’s location, so the geographic location of a business or outlet will impact which search results users will see first.

Social signals and PR also play a greater role. People come ahead of links.

Until now, the focus on links was like the proverbial Achilles heel. Google relied primarily upon links, which were easy to manipulate. Google has to find a way around this — not to replace the value of links, but to gain a greater perspective by considering them in context.

While SEO in general is still the same, local SEO is influenced by 2 unique factors:

  1. The citations your business has received
  2. The number and tone of reviews from local customers (tone being positive, negative or neutral)

Guess which carries the highest weighting? That’s right — the one associated with social signals. In other words, positive reviews. Convincing your satisfied customers to post stellar reviews of your business can have a dramatic impact on your local search rankings.

Why Should You Care About What Google Thinks/Likes?

Google has wedged itself firmly into the modern online economy. You and I use it, businesses use it and our clients use it.

Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with 67% market share. There were 1.2 trillion searches on Google in 2012. Search users find information, do research, and make buying decisions. Google is a goldmine for businesses looking for ready-to-buy customers.

But, recent changes impact your search rankings. Social media marketing, SEO and PR were previously treated as separate, watertight compartments. Businesses bought these services independently of other marketing activities. The different consultants rarely collaborated, leading to many missed opportunities.

In a modern economy, this must change. It doesn’t matter if you’re IBM or a mom-and-pop local business, a neighborhood eatery or the niche store around the corner. You’ll have to seize these opportunities to make more money and grow your business in a cost-effective way.

How Social Media Impacts SEO

Social media, with its billions of active users, includes Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and various discussion forums where you can meet existing customers and new prospects. It’s a great medium to build fans and followers.

Social content ranks well on search engines. What happens on TripAdvisor (a social review site) and Yelp (a business directory) stays on Google (a search engine). What people say about your business — their feedback, the ratings they leave — everything — is publicly accessible to your prospective buyers. And this, of course, impacts the research/purchase cycle.

Overlooking social media can harm your brand and reputation, lower your revenue, and hurt not just your SEO, but your entire business. Adapting your strategy to include social networking can present a huge, untapped opportunity. Consider the following:

  1. Social media can multiply your SEO impact. Spreading virally by online word-of-mouth, news about your business can reach far and wide, creating ripples that self-perpetuate and strengthen your brand. While the actual spreading of your content is free, there is an upfront cost to produce it.
  2. Social media drives offline sales. Many search users research online, but make their purchases offline. Google presents these searchers with locally relevant results. Local business review sites rank well in specific geographic areas, and can drive more people into stores.
  3. Social media is constantly evolving. Working with a social media consultant can help you prioritize tasks and devise a tactical plan to utilize the medium to maximum effect. That alone will make the difference between achieving mediocre results and delivering outstanding value to dominate your niche for years to come.
  4. Social media creates long-lasting synergy. Ripples set off by social media interactions can create positive (or negative) perceptions far afield — and the impact will linger long after the initial event or action has ended.

Intelligent Integration Can Multiply Impact

Imagine you’re a hotel or restaurant owner with many bad reviews (1/5 stars) and a general negative tone to client feedback on your TripAdvisor and Yelp listings. What can you do to attract new local customers?

First, you’ll need your satisfied customers to write great reviews and leave 5/5 star ratings on your TripAdvisor page. That will show up as a rich snippet on Google’s SERPs, which can positively impact the click-through rate (and thus the number of visitors who arrive at your website). Some of them will become customers. The upward spiral begins.

What can you do to encourage people to review your business? You can inform your users on arrival or check-in. You can place a sign at the entrance or in the bar. There are many ways to do this, but do read and follow the rules for each different service.

What if you do nothing at all? The bad reviews will scare away new customers. You’ll lose business. Remember this: your customers are now in control. Anyone can create a profile for your business on a social review site, check in at the location, and share their experiences with the world. The bus will leave the station — with or without you aboard!

And, Google is always watching.

What you must understand is that whatever goes on in social media affects how Google regards your business (as relevant and trustworthy, or not) — and, in turn, affects your rankings in local search results.

How Social Media Merges With SEO

People no longer blindly trust everything they see or hear. They want “social proof” and validation of their choices.

When you synchronize your social marketing campaigns with your most important keywords, your audience will use those words to research your business, find you on the top of Google, see other social signals (like PR articles, news stories, social media profiles, ratings and more)… and begin to trust you.

It’s an SEO + Social Media + PR win.

Evolution Just Sped Up

Not only do you have to evolve and adapt, you’ve got to do it quickly. The way people communicate, socialize, discover and purchase has changed dramatically. The ability to solve problems and enrich lives is now within the reach of any business who cares to grab this chance…and they will also make a lot of money in the process.

But you need to be aware of the ways in which social signals can influence search engine rankings. While no one but Google’s programmers knows for sure, we can state with reasonable certainty that there’s a strong link between the two.

Google serves a huge client base successfully because they have gained trust and maintained it over the years. People come back to Google because they find answers to their questions. For free.

The minute people lose trust in Google and find another, more trusted search engine, Google’s financial backbone will be broken. That’s why Google’s management team is obsessed with one thing above all else: users’ ability to find what they came for, regardless of where they are or how they access the Web.

That’s a complex task. How do they manage it? Relevancy.

Google listens carefully to users. Observes what they do. Learns from their interactions and conversations on social sites. By understanding user intent, they can serve up the most relevant solutions.

Keywords in text can be indicators of relevancy. Links to a page can be signs of popularity. But the signals that emanate from social media interactions allow Google to understand relevancy and popularity on a whole new level.

Takeaways for Social Media Marketers

“Today’s approach must change to survive tomorrows major economic changes.”

So what’s a business owner or marketer to do?

  1. Build trust with your customers and offer a quality service.
  2. Focus on “people building.” Develop a network of fans who are active on social media and spread word about you and your brand.
  3. Make your content fascinating to your audience. Being mediocre will get you no where.
  4. Get people to engage and share (recommend) you. That provides links and will be a better long term strategy because of the social signals generated.
  5. Appeal to logic. Draw upon statistics, credible sources, reasonable arguments and inherent rationale of a situation to get more people to buy in.
  6. Go viral. Get many shares on social media. Make news about your brand spread — fast.

One of the biggest imperatives for business owners is to evolve our way of doing business to fit tomorrow’s altered digital ecosystem. Offering a better service and content, integrating your online and offline strategy, and harnessing the power of social media and PR to the tested and proven power of SEO can bring the best results.

This applies equally to large and small businesses. In the long run, how big you are will not matter as much as how rapidly you can evolve.

A key element of evolution within a digital ecosystem like ours is building rich, vibrant networks of friends, fans and followers.

Sharing valuable or important information is one way to grow your network. Encourage your clients and others to read this article. And share your thoughts, opinions and feedback with others who can gain from your insights, by leaving a comment below.

10 Benefits of Using FourSquare for Businesses

1 Jul

One of the hottest areas in mobile technology is geo-location based services that offer real time interaction between your destination and your online audience. Some of the more popular geo-locationservices include yelp, loopt, buzz, Facebook places and foursquare.

Foursquare allows individuals from anywhere in the world to openly engage with their friends so they know exactly where they are and what they are doing. Users of Foursquare simply “Check-In” on theirSmartphone sub as an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or Palm Pre or a variety of other smart mobile devices.

For marketers Foursquare offers a unique and compelling opportunity to use geo-location based services to promote their brands in real-time.  Businesses and organizations are learning the benefits of social media campaigns that include Foursquare, here are 10 reasons to use Foursquare for your business:

1.  It’s a Hyper Social Platform

The typical Foursquare user is one of the most desirable demographics, they tend to be young, college educated and employed. They are heavy users of online social media platforms and are actively engaging friends and acquaintances with the businesses they’re interacting with. This demographic is highly mobile, has money to spend and most importantly is very influential.  They want to be seen out and usually use Foursquare updates as rallying points for the rest of their social circles.

2. Consumers Love it

Consumers are heavily engaged in Foursquare because of its ability to take what may be a great excursion or a simple trip and turn the notification process into a game. By checking into a location you earn points that are constantly being added and compared to their networks. The competitive nature of Foursquare allows users to earn badges for checking-into certain locations, multiple bars in one night, the first person to check-in to a new location- all of which may earn you special recognition in the form of a badge.  Finally users have the ability to create check-in locations such as their homes with custom names so their friends know exactly where they want to be seen.

3. Free Advertising

Free Foursquare Advertising? Just by listing your business, brand or venue on Foursquare for free you automatically open yourself to hundreds, thousands or potentially millions of users. When users check-into a location or hunt for a venue there’s a good chance they may find your brand or location. That impression leads to awareness, the opportunity for some type of engagement and by the very least an opportunity to add credibility by being associated with one of the fastest growing social media tools.

4. Generate Buzz with Foursquare Coupons

At a local Washington DC restaurant Firefly, our team checked-in with our iPhone ‘s for a company meeting and received a free round of champagne for everyone who had their first check-in. Coupons have a word of mouth appeal, and for restaurants with one or a few locations offer a hyper local way to advertise. What’s better, the coupon is initiated by the consumer, so there is no overhead in printing, distribution or redemptions that complicate the experience.

5. Get found on Foursquare

Many brands and business locations don’t know that Foursquare users use the tool to find local businesses. Instead of using Google maps, users turn to Foursquare’s powerful geo-location based service to search for businesses, browse local establishments and determine what’s close to them. And because Foursquare is almost exclusively used on Smartphone, you know those are individuals are interacting with your brand locally.

6. Let Foursquare Tips and Reviews Help Generate Buzz

Foursquare allows its members to leave tips for other members when they sign in to a location. Users typically leave tips on what to purchase or experience often times with a sense of purpose or humor. The brand experience becomes more personalized when a consumer can instantly connect with a pervious patron and make an immediate emotional connection based on recommendations they find appealing.

7.   Use Foursquare to Introduce New Hires and Students

For large companies, universities and organizations, Foursquare is being used as a way to introduce individuals to useful resources and areas. For example UNC Charlotte is currently using Foursquare to introduce students to the campus. Many companies are also using Foursquare as a visibility tool to allow other employee’s know where and what they are doing.

8. Use Foursquare’s Auotmated Tools

Businesses are benefiting from Foursquare by utilizing its automatic auto check-in and shout messaging features. Whether it’s a coupon, promotion or a special event, your brand or venue can benefit by automating messages targeted at this hyper social demographic.  The ability to drive additional customer engagement on a Smartphone can compliment staff and resources that might otherwise be occupied.

9. Engage Your Foursquare Users

Beyond coupons or shouts, brands can drive customer engagement by interacting with users live while they are at a particular location. The options include real-time games, polling, questionnaires or sharing additional information on an event or location on a more personalized level.

10. Data Mine Foursquare Demographics

Foursquare collects as much data from its visitors as Google and Microsoft, but how can your organization benefit from this massive amount of information?  Fortunately Foursquare offers both Venue owners and Brands unique tools to attract new customers and help people stay engaged no matter where they are in the world.  Foursquare offers a Venue Stats Dashboard that helps companies mine and tailor campaigns to maximize your business offerings.  The Venue Stats dashboard, allowing you to track your customer foot traffic over time.