Archive for the ‘Social Media Marketing’ Category

5 Fast Hacks To Increase Your Twitter Click Through Rate

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Guest post by Logan Strain.

There are few things more satisfying to an online marketer than witnessing your brand’s Twitter account reach critical mass. All the work you put into building a large social platform is paying off, and now your account, which was once only followed by your coworkers, is now a social media powerhouse. But after that success, how do you make the most of Twitter as a traffic driver to your blog posts, landing pages, and other valuable content?

How to get more clicks on Twitter

Image credit: Flexspan

Merely providing links to your followers without thinking about presentation isn’t enough. Through a few tactical tweaks to your tweets, you can achieve a higher click through rate and more traffic to your digital properties.

Here are five simple ways to improve your tweets for a higher CTR.

Create Custom URLs

You’re already using a URL shortener to make the most of the limited space you have on Twitter. But are you carefully crafting those URLs, or are you letting your shortener turn them into a nonsensical garble of words and numbers? Random characters in a link have the whiff of spam, so they may get unfairly overlooked on Twitter.

Bitly, one of the most popular link shorteners, now features vanity URLs, which means that your social media links are 100% customizable. So you can turn “bit.ly/jd59i8” into “bit.ly/PrettyLink.” The latter, since it contains an actual word, is appealing and is more likely to earn those coveted clicks from your audience.

Choose An Eye-Catching Image

Gaining followers is only half the Twitter battle. Since your followers scroll through countless other tweets on their feed, you also need to stop them in their tracks when they see your tweets. When we promote blog posts on Instant Checkmate’s Twitter account, we create a banner image for both the blog post and the tweet. This not only makes the post itself more visually appealing, it creates a graphic that can help your tweets get noticed.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer or spend half an hour tweaking an image in Photoshop to create pro-style images. Online graphic creators like Canva can help you make high-quality, customized Twitter graphics in mere minutes. Simply create an image that contains your content’s headline and a visually striking background and your tweets will stand out.

Command Them To Click

Experienced marketers and salespeople know that you have to ask for what you want. Ambiguous calls to action produce lackluster results. But for some reason they consistently fail to apply that knowledge to their social posts. If you want your followers to click the link, tell them to do just that. Commanding your audience with a simple, brief “click here” or “check this out” will turn more Twitter followers into website visitors.

 Tweet Multiple Times

When pushing your content through Twitter, there’s no reason to take a “one and done” approach. When scheduling your posts, set your most valuable content to be tweeted multiple times throughout the week. Just like you, your followers have other things to do and might miss tweets relevant to their interests. A tweeting schedule that pushes your best pieces multiple times gives them many opportunities to see your content.

 Leverage Hashtags From Industry Events

Relevancy always increases click through rates. If there is a major conference or Twitter chat that is relevant to your industry, take advantage. Include the event’s hashtag in your tweets to promote your content. You’ll get in front of a brand new and intensely passionate audience for your content. By using this technique, you won’t just gain new traffic, you’ll probably also see a bump in followers.

Logan Strain is a web content creator who regularly contributes to Instant Checkmate’s blog, a father, and a podcast addict. When he’s not browsing Reddit, playing with his daughter, or binge-watching Netflix, he’s creating top notch web content. Follow him on Twitter @LM_Strain.

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The Biggest Roadblock to Social Business Success

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Stories about how top executives just don’t “get” social media and the concept of social business were common four or five years ago. But it’s jarring to still come across such reports today.

Despite the fact that 82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media, and 77% are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media (those stats themselves nearly two years old), “64% of CEOs do not use social media at all, with only 5% of all Fortune 500 company CEOs on Twitter,” according to The Guardian.

Don't fear social businessWorse, C-level executives who don’t use social media themselves are also much less likely to understand how to capitalize on the social media savvy and reach of their employees to benefit their companies. And those benefits can be considerable. Per recent research from GaggleAMP:

“Connecting your business with your employees in social media can boost your social media presence. Employee advocacy not only has the ability to acquire new leads, but also can help create original content and bump your search rankings on Google, Yahoo, and MSN…Prospective clients are more likely to recognize your brand when you’ve got a network of employee advocates helping to sell your product through social media. This can cut down on the time it takes to gain the trust of clients as well as help solidify the relationship more quickly.”

Expanding a company’s social presence through its employees’ networks requires some give and take. Employee participation must be voluntary. Employers will need to do some level of monitoring, in order to measure results, share best practices, and incentive employees for social amplification.

That monitoring activity needn’t be excessive or intrusive; it should be limited to work-related social media activities, and social networks on which employees are active on the company’s behalf (an individual employee may, for example, choose to use his or her Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to promote company content and interact with customers and prospects, but use Facebook strictly for personal relationships).

Yet too many companies, regardless of their progress as social businesses, already take or plan to take this monitoring to excessive, even downright creepy, levels. Per per research from PricewaterhouseCoopers:

“More employers plan to begin or increase their monitoring of employees’ social media use and other personal data over the next decade…the idea is frankly kind of Orwellian in that terrifying corporate kind of way: The data profiling that drives customer management will increasingly be replicated among employees as screening and monitoring move to a new level. Sensors check their location, performance and health. The monitoring may even stretch into their private lives in an extension of today’s drug tests. Periodic health screening gives way to real-time monitoring of health.”

Of course, employees need to actually be engaging in social media activities on a company’s behalf in order for their to be any social activity to monitor. Nearly as disturbing as excessive monitoring, more than a third (36%) of businesses block social networks completely within the office, and more than half (57%) permit workplace social media access only for select employees (e.g., marketing and HR).

The fundamental barrier to embracing a social business strategy seems to come down to one word: fear.

  • • Fear of bad, or even unmeasurable, results. While precise social media ROI may or may not be measurable, many indicators of success certainly are. Social media amplification is like any other business process: test, measure, improve, repeat.
  • • Fear that employees will waste time on social sites. Employees have been finding ways to distract themselves, and others, and generally waste time at work, for pretty much as long as groups of human beings have worked together. Employees intentionally wasting work time are a sign of poor hiring, poor motivation, and/or poor management. Those determined to waste work time will do so regardless of social media policy.
  • • Fear that employees will be unproductive. This is different than the point above; it’s not fear that employees will purposely waste time, but rather that employees, with the best of intentions, will use social networks inefficiently. Monitoring, measurement, and training are the answer.
  • • Fear that employees will say the wrong things. They’ll get brand messages wrong, or argue with customers, or reveal trade secrets, or disclose sensitive financial information, or bash competitors, or bash management, or tweet while drunk, or say something racist or sexist, or…whatever. Actually, in a healthy work environment, employees are far more likely to appreciate trust than to abuse it. And, backed up with training and clear policies, they deserve it.

Most fundamentally of all, however, is the fear that a surprising majority of companies still seem to have in acknowledging that they are staffed by actual people. Try this experiment: pick 10 business websites, from companies of any size, pretty much any industry. See if you can find a way to directly contact a specific individual (e.g., the head of marketing, the top HR exec, anyone in customer service, the webmaster, the VP of sales, even the CEO) at any of those companies, through information presented on the company’s website.

Many sites won’t list any individual employee or management names at all. Some will have “management team” pages that list a handful of top executives (though not with any direct contact information). Most will not provide any email addresses beyond the generic “info@” or “sales@” variety. Many will link to the company’s social media accounts—but not to the accounts of any individual employee, even if used strictly for business purposes. In some cases, you’ll be able to find contact information for the individual in charge of public relations—but often as not, this will be someone from an outside agency rather than a company employee.

That may be the most fundamental fear of all: being social means being human. That is what needs to change, first and foremost. As social media guru Ted Rubin notes, “A smart brand supports its employees in building their personal brands because it expands their reach right along with that of their employees.”

How do executives who want to overcome these fears and embrace social media start? Search for guidance and resources online, watch videos like this one, read books like The Social Employee by Cheryl and Mark Burgess (a veritable field guide to social business best practices, based on case studies of brand-name social enterprises), and begin by getting employees involved with the business socially internally, using tools like Yammer or Chatter.

But whatever you do, start. With regard to social business, the only rational fear top executives should have is fear of being left behind.

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Why More Members, Money, and Ads Don’t Always Mean More Success: A B2B Marketer’s Survival Guide

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.

Historical Lessons

B2B marketing lessons from Facebook and MySpaceThere is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?

My answer is certainly–yes! This question is particularly compelling today as we see Facebook set new records in terms of users, market valuation and revenue growth and wait with anticipation to see if Myspace can reinvent itself after conceding its market leadership position in social networking back in 2008. How can the respective histories and behaviors of these two companies inform the best practices for B2B marketers?

Background on the two social media sites

From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.

In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.

Lessons

The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes.  These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.

A bigger user base is not always better

Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.

Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.

But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.

The importance of the Network Effect

Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.

This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray.  Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.

Make customers happy before you worry about money

While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.

Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.

In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.

Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.

The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing.  Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.

The importance of targeted ads

Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.

Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads.  Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.

Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”

It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.

Example of bad MySpace ads

An image of Myspace inbox screen with advertising ranging from a spammy new scientific way to lose weight and free credit reports, to sour candy

Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate

Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.

In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.

While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.

Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”

For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.

About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.

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The Complete Guide to Google+ for B2B Marketing [Infographic]

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Guest post by Dave Landry.

Google+ seems to be an enigma in the social world, the quiet kid in the corner of the room that most are afraid to interact with. This is particularly so in marketing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, Google+ can be friendly and a resource with amazing results when a respective marketer learns how to utilize it in the right manner.

Google+ is all about visibility, exponentially so when it comes to B2B campaigning. Learning about Circles, Communities, Influencers and Authorship is the first key to G+ B2B domination. You’ll also need to be prepared to:

  • • Keep Up With Your Plus Stream
  • • Share Content Daily
  • • Reach Out to Influencers
  • • Use Google Hangouts
  • • Use Communities
  • • Monitor Follower Growth

Need more details? No sweat! This infographic below will have you on track to G+ B2B marketing success. Good luck!

Guide to article marketing with Google+

Dave Landry Jr.About the author: Dave LJ is a financial expert who also studies and writes about social media’s use in business and marketing efforts. He is very excited to contribute to Webbiquity.

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5 Twitter Strategies And Tools To Take Your Branded Account To the Next Level

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Guest post by Logan Strain.

If you’ve invested the groundwork necessary to build a Twitter account, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing it actually gain steam. Your best tweets get retweeted on a regular basis, you can count on discovering more followers every time you check in, and you can see that you’re developing a strong presence on a noisy platform.

Advanced Twitter tactics and toolsBut all accounts reach a level of stagnation if you use the same tactics over and over again. If you see your growth starting to level off, it might be time to shake things up a bit with new techniques.

How can you break through a Twitter plateau and take your account to an even greater level of success? Use these these five helpful Twitter tools and strategies to build upon what you have already established.

1) Improve Multimedia With Twitter Cards

A highly powerful yet underused optional feature of Twitter is the Twitter card. This feature, developed by Twitter, allows accounts to create media-rich experiences that can help you stand out in the mostly text platform. Accounts can use one of seven different cards in a single tweet.

  • • Gallery cards that display images
  • • Photo cards that include a single image
  • • Summary cards with a link
  • • Summary cards with images
  • • App cards
  • • Player cards which showcase videos
  • • Product cards

For example, if you want to show off a few different photos of a brand new product on Twitter, you can use the gallery card to display shots from several angles. Or you can use the photo card to add a large picture to your tweet when you link to your blog.

Using one of these cards increases click-throughs and engagement, since they make your tweets look so much different from those ones in your followers’ feeds.

While Twitter cards have been adopted by some major brands, they are still not used by everyone. To learn more, check out Forbes’ great comprehensive overview on this nifty feature and how to implement it.

2) Use Tweriod For Perfectly Timed Tweets

When you tweet can have a huge impact on how much engagement your tweets generate. While there have been some studies on the best overall tweeting time, every account is different. So how do you find a tweeting schedule that is perfect for your particular niche?

Tweriod is a powerful (and free) tool that can give you actionable analytics to supercharge your tweeting. The tool analyzes your tweets and your followers tweets, and lets you know what tweeting times give you the best results. With this information in hand, you can fine tune when you tweet using your tweet scheduler.

3) Experiment With New Hashtags

Hashtags, of course, are essential to getting attention on Twitter. If Twitter is one giant cocktail party, then hashtags are how you take part in a conversation. Most established accounts use a handful of hashtags, either ones directly related to their industry or market, or ones that have successfully garnered engagement in the past.

But if you keep using the same hashtags, you’ll keep getting the same results. Break out of your tweeting routine by exploring other hashtags to connect with. One easy way to brainstorm new hashtags you can try is use the app in Hashtagify.me.

Just enter your most common hashtags, and it will give you other common hashtags that are commonly associated with it. Now you have several more ways to connect with Twitter users with which you can experiment.

4) Create Your Own Branded Hashtag

There’s no reason why you have to use hashtags that are already popular. You can really break through by creating a hashtag of your very own. For example, to promote their “Share A Coke” campaign, Coca-Cola created the hashtag #shareacoke.

In promoting their breakfast items, Taco Bell joked that “Breakfast Burrito from a burger place? That’s like taking a T Rex to yoga.” They then encouraged other followers to create their own jokes in that vein using the hashtag #thatslike. Think of an interesting or funny way you can engage your potential customers with a clever and original hashtag.

5) Optimize Tweet Length

Since 140 characters is so short, many social media marketers take advantage of the full amount of space available with every tweet. But that strategy may overestimate the attention span of the users of the most hyperactive social network on the Internet. Some studies even suggest that the optimal length of a tweet is a paltry 100 characters.

Shortening tweets below Twitter’s limits has resulted in increased engagement for some marketers. Try your hand at extreme brevity for a week of tweeting and see if it has an impact in shares and favorites.

Never Stop Testing

How do you know you’re making the most of the time you spend building up your Twitter account? By consistently trying new things, and keeping what works. Any Twitter account can see steady growth if you simply maintain a steady and consistent tweeting schedule. But if you want to supercharge your growth, you’ll need to rethink your tactics on a week by week basis.

Logan Strain is a web content creator who regularly contributes to Instant Checkmate’s blog, a father, and a podcast addict. When he’s not browsing reddit, playing with his daughter, or binge-watching Netflix, he’s creating top notch web content. Follow him on Twitter @LM_Strain.

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