Tag Archives: twitter

Grow Your Audience with Twitter

4 May

Grow Your Audience with Twitter

Today I wrote a post for the eBay Partner Network Blog that I think is very relevant to my readers here. I’ve often talked about the importance of using social media in a smart way that is centered around goals and building log term brand reputation:

From the ePN Blog:

“As publishers at eBay Partner Network, many of you use websites or blogs as part of your business model. That means you’re constantly thinking about how to increase traffic to those properties and stimulate more engagement with your brand. Today I want to talk to you about how you can accomplish that more effectively using Twitter.”

For me, using Twitter involves three major components:

1. Setting Up Your Infrastructure

Did you choose a Twitter handle that properly reflects and represents your brand? Did you complete your profile in a complete and thoughtful way? Did you include your URL?

2. Creating Excellent Content

A couple weeks back I wrote about how Content is King – that applies especially to social media channels like Twitter. How can you expect people to follow and engage with you on Twitter unless you have something interesting or important to say? A word of caution though: don’t use Twitter as a one-way broadcast channel. People get over that really fast. Instead, try to get involved in conversations and be part of a meaningful dialogue.

3. Building Your Community

This will take you a bit of time and effort and shortcuts will usually come back and bite you. I recommend following people that are into the same things that interest you. Do keyword searches for people that have the same types of interests and engage them in a discussion. Over time, people will see you a contributing member of the community and will start to follow you back.

Make sure you check out the full article over at the eBay Partner Network Blog for a deeper dive on these points.

Hashtagging Primetime

26 Apr

Hashtagging Primetime

I’m sort of a TV nut. Truth be told, I probably spend too much time obsessing about my favorite shows. In my defense I can say that I’ve drummed up more than a few content ideas for this blog by feeding my TV addiction. Watching what brands do well (and do poorly) in their television marketing has sparked more than a few tirades on these pages.

Two weeks ago I was watching an episode of Fringe on Fox. In the lower right hand corner of the screen, just above the affiliates ID badge, I noticed the hashtag “#Fringe.” For those unfamiliar, a hashtag is either a community or brand driven convention labeled with a “#” meant to add additional context to tweets. While using hashtags to promote a show may not be a new concept, Fox is the first network that I’ve seen use hashtag placement on screen for the entire episode.

So, who cares right? Well, as a marketer, YOU should.

FOX GETS TWITTER

Clearly Fox understands the power of Twitter. I also appreciated the subtly of their hashtag implementation. They didn’t beat it over our heads with a big explanation or garish graphics. Instead, they figured that if you are hip to Twitter, there was no explanation needed. To those of us dialed into the social web, that makes it sorta cool.

SAY NO TO THE DVR

One of the big obstacles that TV executives have been battling in recent years is the ubiquitous DVR. When people timeshift their favorite shows, they fast-forward through the advertising. That advertising is what keeps networks on the air.

I personally don’t know anyone that schedules time to watch their favorite shows when they actually air – do you? Instead, we program our season passes into our DVR and watch our faves on our own schedule. Instead of fighting that viewer shift, Fox is doing something that might actually have the power to affect real change on that behavior – they are creating a community experience around a shared passion.

Let’s use sports as an example – why do you think that DVRing sporting events hasn’t really caught on? I think it’s because sporting events are meant to be shared by a community – we feel connected to the fact that others in a relevant geographic zone are watching something at the same time that we are watching it. In fact, if you’ve logged onto Twitter or Facebook in the last week you’ve surely seen people live updating while watching the NBA playoffs. As humans, we get off on those types of shared experiences. Fox is essentially creating that type of communal event around Fringe. By creating and encouraging the use of a hashtag, they are inviting fans of the show to watch it as it airs and live tweet with millions of other enthusiasts. You can’t create that level of excitement with a timeshifted program.

SPREAD THE WORD

There is no better way to create buzz about your shows than with strong word of mouth. NBC can (and has) shown me all the promos for “The Voice” that I can stand, but I’m way more likely to watch it if I see members of my social circle talking about it online. Traditional advertising has it’s place, but you can’t beat the trusted recommendation of your personal social graph. By creating and promoting the use of a hashtag, Fox is not only connecting enthusiasts of its shows during their airing, but also generating trending buzz on Twitter.

SAVVY VIEWERS

Would this type of campaign work on a show like NCIS or Law & Order? Doubtful. Those shows tend to skew to an older, less tech-savvy demographic. My guess is that you wouldn’t find my Dad watching either of those programs while updating his Facebook profile. The audience for Fringe on the other hand is a younger, hipper demographic and Fox is taking advantage of that enthusiasm. For the record, I’ve also seen them apply the hashtag treatment to Glee as well. You don’t get a more rabid, vocal fanbase than the “Gleeks.”

MINIMAL INVESTMENT, MAXIMUM RETURN

These are the types of tactics that brands don’t spend enough time thinking about. If you break this campaign down, it involved absolutely no time, resources or infrastructure on the part of Fox to implement. Hell, their graphics department didn’t even have to create a badge! All they did was type #Fringe or #Glee into the character generator and apply it to the screen. Everything else is handled by the existing Twitter platform. It doesn’t get any simpler or more cost-effective to launch a marketing initiative than that.

What other tactics have you seen that are as easily deployed ? I’d love to get your comments below.

Social Media: What Should I Measure?

15 Mar

Social Media: What Should I Measure?

Last week I wrote about what I think you can expect in terms of ROI on a social media strategy. This week, I want to focus on what you should be measuring to gauge the productivity of your initiatives. These are not hard and fast rules, but more my personal preference of metrics.

BLOG

Your blog should be your hub, your epicenter. It’s the soul and personality of your business. In addition to being the most effective place to create and share content, it will also boost your domain rank in search results on sites like Google.

Measuring your blog is fairly straightforward. I use Google Analytics and keep monthly tabs on things like pageviews, visits,  and time spent on site. Also, look under the “content” section in GA to see which of your posts has had the most impact in terms of pageviews and average time on page. My analytics tell me that “Bad Emails Killed the Radio Star” has been my most popular piece of content so far, but people spent the most time (five minutes and 40 seconds) reading “Driving Traffic to Facebook.”

Next, I look at where my traffic is coming from. Right now, 30.41% is direct traffic, 56.43% is from referring sites and 13.16% is from search engines. Of those referring sites, Twitter and Facebook are my top two traffic generators.

Finally, I look at how I’m doing this month compared to last month. Google Analytics tells me I’m up 19.51% in total traffic.

TWITTER

Twitter has been my most popular referral engine for my blog thus far – I can see that from Google Analytics, but what else can I measure in Twitter? First off, I look at how much my community is growing. Are people following me on a regular basis? Is my number of followers going up and not down each month?

Next, Let’s take a look at Twitter engagement. How many people are clicking on links that I Tweet? A great way to measure this is by setting up a free account at Bit.ly. It will tell you how many people have clicked on a particular link making it easy for you to measure how far and wide your content is traveling. Beyond clicking, how many people are re-tweeting your content? Are you creating #hashtags? Are people picking them up and using them?

Twitter can be measured and quantified in a variety of ways. These are just a few of the metrics I look at to make sure my Twitter mojo for my own brand is moving in the right direction.

FACEBOOK

More and more data is emerging that Facebook may not be the best place to interact with consumers. Sure, it’s the largest social network on the planet – by far – but new studies suggest that users don’t necessarily want to interact with brands there. Instead, they see Facebook as a place for interaction with “real” friends and family. That said, I think there is still value in participating there if you’re a business.

How do you measure it? The most comprehensive way is to use Facebook Insights. In addition to tracking obvious things like the number of fans your page has, you can also use Insights to look at Interactions, Post Quality, Page Views, Media Consumption, Discussion Posts and Demographics. Essentially , if there is a stats that has some meaning to your campaign effort, Facebook Insights can probably help you track it.

If Insights is a bit much for you, try looking at simpler things like friend / fan count month over month. Is it increasing at a rate that is meeting or exceeding your stated goals? What about interaction and engagement – are friends and fans commenting on your content and status updates? Are you engaged and commenting back?

YOUTUBE

YouTube is a tricky social media platform. Sure, it has become the defacto standard for online video, but most companies still don’t know how to properly use or measure it. My preference is to not drive traffic to my YouTube.com channel. Instead, I embed my videos on my blog and send traffic there. Why encourage interaction and comments on YouTube’s site, when I can provide a richer experience for users on my own web property?

So what should you measure to gauge YouTube’s effectiveness? I’ll admit that this one is a bit trickier. It’s hard to measure much more than total video views and comments. I think the more valuable metrics when assessing a YouTube video’s success are the ones surrounding the other channels in the social media wheel. Embed the video on your blog and use Twitter and Facebook to distribute it. Then, look at the metrics we’ve outlined above to track the efficacy of that particular piece of content. You’ll get a more comprehensive set of data points.

The other really great thing about using YouTube is the SEO benefits it provides. As we all know, ranking for almost any text keyword is extremely difficult. Getting on the first page of Google for almost any subject is nearly impossible. But, Google is always trying to find a way to feature video items in search results. So, while you may not rank on the first page for text-based keywords, you might be able to get prime placement for a video you created that was tagged and described properly for those competitive terms. The reason? While everyone is out there fighting over text-based results, very few companies are creating relevant video clips thus the competition for those video placements is far less. Obviously, applying some sort of metric and goal around that concept will legitimize your use of YouTube in your social strategy in a big way.

TIP OF THE ICEBERG

Obviously there are hundreds of other social tools I didn’t touch on in this post. I also only scratched the surface of what you can be doing to measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign. For companies that want to really drop some cash and dig into the depths of social media measurement and reporting, there are products like Radian6 that are geared towards enterprise level clients that need more extensive data at a more granular level. While I understand the need for  Fortune 500 companies and the like to go to such lengths to report on such a large component of their marketing budget, I think the tips outlined above should get the majority of you started on planning and launching the first stages of your social media campaigns in a manageable and affordable way.

Twitter Embarrassment

3 Mar

Twitter Embarrassment

People use Twitter for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s a way to promote a product, skill or business. For others it’s a tool to share interesting links or makes quips about celebrities in the news (yes, Charlie Sheen, I’m talking about you). One trend that surprises me is the use of Twitter to attempt to embarrass complete strangers.

OK, maybe “embarrass” is a strong word, but I haven’t quite figured out what to call it. I’m referring to the practice of calling out users publicly that stop following you. There are a host of services that will do this, but the latest platform I’m seeing is called Fllwrs. Essentially, it’s a service people sign up for using their Twitter credentials to be notified when users stop following them. It then posts an update to your Twitter stream calling those users out. I seem to be getting one or two mentions a week calling me out via Fllwrs. It doesn’t particularly bother me, but I thought I’d a dig a little deeper into this practice and the implications of it.

First, let’s take a look at a business that is using Fllwrs:

Caucus World is a social media business based in London. They claim to “develop deeper insight through engagement and participation.” Hmmm OK. I’m curious as to how they do that. If their Twitter stream is any indication of their methods, I’d say they’re not very good. First off, the have a total of three tweets in five weeks time – that’s not a lot of engagement or participation. Second, those three tweets aren’t even real human updates – they’re automated jabs at people that have unfollowed CaucusWorld using Fllwrs. Again, I have to ask how this fosters engagement and participation?

As a business, what is the purpose of using Fllwrs and calling out those that have stopped following you? Are you looking to embarrass those users? To what end? Are you hoping that by calling them out, they’ll be guilted into following you again?

Let’s step back and think about what message that sends to the world about your brand. First, it seems to suggest that you are petty, shortsighted and punitive. Second, and more importantly, it advertises to the masses that your Twitter stream is so mundane and lacking in value that people are regularly unfollowing you. Is that the message you want to send?

Granted, most of the accounts that I found using Fllwrs and similar services are individuals and not businesses. I would argue that speaks to your personal brand in a powerful way as well. I would argue the same points I mentioned above apply to an individual as well as a larger corporate entity.

Maybe I’m missing something here – I gave you several solid reasons why you shouldn’t be using tools like this to call out and embarrass people, but maybe someone can give me a reason why you SHOULD be doing this? I don’t see a single upside beyond a fleeting moment of satisfaction and stroked ego around calling someone out, but maybe there’s something I’m missing. What say you Twitterati?

Keep Your Signs Off My Lawn

26 Jan

Keep Your Signs Off My Lawn

With online communities sprouting up everyday, there really isn’t time to develop rulebooks for how to behave. However, there is some unspoken etiquette when using sites like Twitter or Facebook.

One of the things that really annoys me is when people thank me for following them and then post a link to their website in my Twitter stream. To me, this is akin to coming to my house and sticking a lawn sign for your business in my yard because I visited your store one time. If I’ve followed you on Twitter it’s because I saw some value in what you were doing and wanted to know more. The quickest way to get me to unfollow you is to start spamming me with the hard sell of your business. Instead, try engaging with me in a real way. Comment on something I’ve tweeted recently or ask me a question. Do something that shows me that you’re interested in a conversation, not a one-way broadcast.

While we’re on the subject of spammy stuff – please stop with the automatic direct messages every time you get a new follower. Again, if I’ve followed you it’s because I see something of value in your content. Nothing devalues that more than a generic form letter DM (direct message) that pushes your website on me.

I know that lots of you are small business owners and you’re trying to figure out how to use digital marketing in a meaningful way. There are a lot of people setting bad examples out there and it can be tough to know which approach you should take when trying to build your social community. A good rule of them to follow is less is more. Don’t try so hard to sell. Instead, get involved in the conversation and become an active member in the community. Focus on building the relationship and the rest will fall into place.

What are some of the things on Twitter or Facebook that annoy you?

Has Engagement Shifted?

24 Jan

Has Engagement Shifted?

Over the last year or so I’ve noticed a trend throughout the blogosphere – including my own media properties. People don’t seem to be commenting on blogs with the frequency they once did. For example, my radio show American Cliche used to get anywhere from 10-25 comments per episode. Now, I’m lucky if I see 2 or 3. Why? My analytics tell me that the audience is still there, but they’re just not commenting. Have I done something differently to cause this?

It’s also occurring on this blog. I have several posts with numerous “reactions” but not a lot of comments. Take a look at the post I did about Van Halen – it was retweeted a bunch of times, but not commented on by anyone on the blog. By all accounts it is the most successful post I’ve done here to date, but what do the lack of comments mean?

My research and personal experience tells me that tools like Facebook and Twitter have moved commenting away from the blog and onto other platforms. People are venturing out less from their chosen communities and instead sharing feedback on social platforms rather than a blog.

I’m guilty of this as well in my behavior. I read between 25 and 50 blog posts a week, yet I may comment on only one or two. But, you’ll often see me sharing items I find interesting on Facebook and Twitter multiple times per day. I don’t think I’m any different than what most of you are doing. In fact, I wrote a post about the increase in linking to professional content the other day.

What does this say about engagement? Does it mean our blogs are missing the mark if there aren’t as many comments as there used to be? Does it mean our audience is less engaged or does it mean they are just engaging differently? Would you rather have a supporter that comments all the time on your site or one that shares your content with their audience via social channels?

I’m still trying to decide what this all means. I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments, or not, as the case may be.