Sales & Support 1-888-220-7361

The Reciprocal Consulting Blog

You are browsing the Social Media Optimization category:

Bill Slawski has an excellent post this morning on Hummingbird and Authorship. What it boils down to is short text, or social messages.

If you’re one of those people who has developed a habit of sharing links on social media but not including any context for those links by adding helpful commentary so your fans and followers can understand the importance of the link, then you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors. You should start adding more to your social messages.

I’m not saying you should write a book. Twitter only gives you 140 characters, but those 140 characters are very important.

In a word, they add context to your links. But that’s true of your messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ too. What you say about the links you post can determine an awful lot about what you think of that link. In the case of Google+, it could also determine your authority on the topics you post about. Google knows what those topics are based on your social messages – or short text.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you post a link to a how-to on changing the oil in a Mercedes. If you are a Mercedes auto mechanic, then that’s a link that is right in line with your expertise. But how will Google know that if all you post is a link. One paragraph of text explaining that the article is a must-read for anyone who owns a Mercedes helps Google associated the keyword “Mercedes” with your name and reputation. Do that enough times and Google will learn to associate your name with “Mercedes” all the time.

One post here and there isn’t much, but long term, a habit of turning your links into short commentary will give you a boost in authority.

Do you know which demographic spends more time on social networks? If you guessed moms with young children, then you’d be right.

It isn’t hard to figure out why young moms spend more time online than anyone else. Their children aren’t old enough yet to demand running around here and yon. Older kids have extra-curricular activities. Younger kids have diapers.

Young moms can put the youngster to bed for a nap and sneak away to Facebook.

But they’re not just talking to their friends either. They’re actually engaging with brands.

These moms also engage with more brands online and they say advertising helps them choose the right products for their children.

In addition to using social media to find products for their young children, moms also are active on mobile devices. In fact, they’re twice as likely to use their mobile phones to access the Web than the rest of the population. They’re also heavy users of their tablets for Web surfing.

All of that spells one thing: If your target market is young moms and you sell online, then you can have a heyday. Take to social media and look for those moms who are searching for products for their young children. It’s a great demographic to market to anyway, but it’s even better now that you know they spend more time online than their neighbors.

Both Starbucks and Amazon have started a gift giving campaign using Twitter as the delivery vehicle. In Starbucks’ case, gift senders can send a $5 gift card to one of their Twitter followers. But one problem with this seems to be that the receiver may not know about the gift and, if they don’t redeem it, then it’s money down the drain for you.

One quick fix for that problem, however, is this: Hold a contest. That way, the receiver of the gift will be expecting it and should redeem the gift certificate when it comes through to them on Twitter.

Amazon’s gift giving program allows you to donate money to your favorite charity, which can actually make you feel better about your philanthropy. The program is called Amazon Smile Program, and how it works is like this: You designate .05% on eligible purchase items to go to a charity of your choice. This is done before selecting your shipping options.

With Amazon’s program, you can choose a recommended charity or pick one of your own.

Here’s the question: Is this the new thing in online marketing? Will this start a new trend? Will other companies, like Amazon, commit to giving to charitable causes out of their own pockets as a branding strategy? Will other retailers, like Starbucks, allow you to give Twitter gift certificates to your followers? If this catches on, expect Twitter to get a little bit more like the wild west – and that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Getting any ideas?

According to a recent eMarketer report, 15% to 17% of TV viewers engage with social networks in real time. This is a golden opportunity for brands who sponsor television programs and are looking for ways to engage with audiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The key is in the use of hashtags.

This Sunday, Season 4 of The Walking Dead will premiere on AMC. As one of the most popular TV shows, you can bet there will be a good number of watchers who will be tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. What will they be posting about? Most likely, the characters and the story line. Whether they like it or not, your brand can get in on the conversation. You don’t even have to be a sponsor of the show.

The official Walking Dead hashtag is #WalkingDead. You can see the 24-hour trend for the hashtag at Hashtags.org.

If your brand’s audience coincides with the audience for this TV show, you could be watching the show and tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. Be sure you don’t annoy your audience with self-promotional posts that hijack the hashtag. Instead, use your branded Twitter account or Facebook page to join the conversation going on about the show and its characters while it is happening. This alone will become a way for you to expand your brand’s influence as you discuss a common interest with your audience. You can engage in this form of social media marketing with any TV show in real time.

Yesterday we wrote about Facebook Insights. I should have played around with the new Facebook Insights first because the biggest social media site on the Web has updated its metric tool and changed some of its terminology.

For instance, People Talking About This has been divided into several more useful metrics. Those metrics include:

  • Page Likes
  • People Engaged
  • Page Tags and Mentions
  • Page Check-ins
  • Other Interactions

Facebook also said goodbye to “Virality.” That metric is now called Engagement Rate. As a part of the engagement rate, Facebook is now including clicks.

Additionally, positive and negative interactions have been integrated into one page-specific score card. Metrics being graded include likes, comments, shares, clicks, hide post, hide all posts, report as spam, and unlike posts). If you run a Facebook page, now you can see all of these metrics side by side for each post.

While there are many changes taking place to Facebook pages, there are things staying the same. APIs are one of them.

If you have a Facebook page, click the button that appears to see your Facebook Insights in its new format. If you like it, leave a post here and let us know. If you don’t, let us know that too. Improvement is a good thing – even, or perhaps especially, on social media.

If you have trouble coming up with a steady stream of blog post ideas, why not consult with your Facebook Insights?

Facebook Insights is your page metrics tool, which you can see only when you have obtained at least 30 likes. One aggressive social media marketing campaign can get you those 30 likes pretty quickly. After that, it’s just a matter of monitoring your metrics.

Every Facebook post you make can be measured. That’s true whether you post a simple message or you post a link. If you post links to your blog posts on your Facebook page, then Facebook Insights will tell you how popular those posts are.

Among the metrics you can follow on Facebook Insights are:

  • Total Reach
  • Paid Reach
  • Likes
  • Talking About This
  • User Engagement
  • Virality

Total reach and paid reach should be self-explanatory. Under the Reach tab you can get eyes on your reach by demographics, including gender and age. You can also measure your reach by country and the number of page views versus unique visitors.

You can also see the same information about people talking about your page.

The Overview tab is probably the most valuable. Below the graph you can see how many total people have viewed each Facebook post – those with links and those without. This is total reach. If you click on Reach, then you can reorder your posts by highest reach. Engagement shows the number of people who have clicked on a post and read it. The Talking About This column shows the number of unique people who posted about that particular subject. And Virality shows the percentage of people who have created a post from your Facebook post and the number of people who have seen it.

Play with these columns a little, reordering them by each column and studying which posts are the most popular. Take your most popular posts by Reach, Engagement, and Virality and write about those topics on your blog. Be sure to SEO those posts by relevant keyword.

Constant Contact published a recent blog post telling online marketers how to convert their Facebook profiles into a Facebook page, but there’s the overriding question of … why would you do that?

Actually, there are several good reasons why you might want to do that.

The first reason is this: Facebook has a rule that businesses can’t use personal profiles. If you are publishing commercial content as a business through a personal profile page, then Facebook could delete your profile without warning and you’d lose all your friends and all your content.

Beyond that, there are other benefits to having a Facebook page.

First, pages are public, and you can easily share them with your friends. Your freinds can easily share and like them too. Basically, Facebook pages are so public that anyone can share them.

You can also run promotions on your Facebook page and organize your content in a way that makes your business look more professional.

Finally, Facebook has a metrics section for pages that allows you to see what your most engaging content is. You can see the reach of your content, how many people are talking about it, and see how many people have liked and shared it. You gain access to data on Facebook Insights after 30 likes. This alone makes a Facebook page a necessary component to your online marketing.

If you are operating a business as a personal profile on Facebook, switch it over to a Facebook page today.

Online marketers are infatuated with an alleged war taking place between Google+ and Facebook. An article at LinkedIn claims that Google+ is sneaking up on Facebook, but this could only happen if the two are competing or at direct odds with each other.

The folks at Google+ have claimed that they are not competing with Facebook. In a sense, I think they’re right.

Google+ is a bit of a social network, but it’s not JUST a social network. It’s also a content organization platform. Google wants you to integrate Google+ into your total online experience. That includes being social.

However, in a real sense, it is Google that is competing with Facebook. Both properties are competing for your advertising dollars. Google+ doesn’t display advertising, so you can’t say it’s about Google+. Google displays ads on its search results pages. That’s where the real competition is taking place.

That said, it might be worth discussing how Google+ influences the SERPs.

I have noticed that they do influence brand searches. That is, your personal profile does rise higher in the search results when people search your name if you are active on Google+. Of course, you could say the same thing of Facebook, Quora, Twitter and other social networks. The more active you are the more your profiles will rise in the search results.

Google+ is making good improvements. I’m looking forward to seeing more. But as to whether they beat Facebook or Facebook beats them, does it really matter?

Constant Contact has an innovative Facebook technique. They’re offering a free download of 100 social media mistakes to avoid, but to get the download, you need to like their Facebook page. That’s a good idea.

As a preview, I’d just like to mention what some of those mistakes are. The report focuses on four social media sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

For Facebook, Constant Contact says you should talk with your customers not at them, respond to comments and questions, and monitor your page on a regular basis. There are a total of 25 mistakes to avoid regarding Facebook.

Among the 25 mistakes listed for Twitter, CC says to make sure you leave enough space in your tweets for retweets, shorten your URLs, and don’t abuse the hashtags.

LinkedIn advice offered by Constant Contact include completing your profile, including a photo on your profile, and consider the SEO benefits.

Finally, among the 25 tips offered for Pinterest, CC says you should link to Facebook and Twitter, keep your personal and your business pin boards separate, and pay attention to your analytics.

Reciprocal Consulting agrees with all of these tips. Social media is an always changing landscape. What works today may not work tomorrow. That’s why it is important to keep up with the latest developments in social media and to employ those strategies that work well.

Mashable proclaims that job seekers are more likely to get hired if found through social media. In an uncanny way, this sort of validates social media marketing.

While the article doesn’t go into detail about the tactics companies are using to find employees using social media, the fact that they do shows yet another valuable purpose for being on social media websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. It isn’t just one big online party.

If companies are hiring employees through social media, you can bet they’re also finding vendors through social media.

A company willing to invest in the time and expense of social media job recruiting is a company that obviously sees value in the platform. Therefore, you can ask what other activities they might be using social media for. The obvious choice is marketing.

If your competition is marketing through social media and seeing results, then it’s a good bet that you should probably find a way to get into that marketing, as well. Not only that, but employing social media tactics to learn about your competition while engaging in competitive analysis may also be a solid reason to work the social media scene.

What are you doing on social media? Are you recruiting candidates for jobs, marketing, or spying on your competition?

Twitter is a great place for marketing your content and for developing relationships with members of your audience that you want to go deeper with in terms of your content marketing strategy, but it’s also a great place for doing research related to your niche. Here are 5 powerful ways to conduct competitive and content research on your niche.

  1. Hashtags – This one is easy, but so many people miss it. Find a hashtag or two related to your niche and follow them. It’s easy to do in Hootsuite. You just create a stream for the hashtag and any time content is shared on Twitter using that hashtag, you’ll see it.
  2. Lists – Create a list of your favorite bloggers or niche-related Twitterers. You can create a stream in Hootsuite to follow that list. Add and take away Twitter users at will.
  3. Ask questions – One method many professional bloggers and Twitter users use is to ask their audience questions. You’ll be surprised how many of your followers will respond. You’ll likely hear from people you never knew were following you or who wouldn’t normally interact with you. Just ask.
  4. Twitter Search – Did you know Twitter has a search feature? It works much like Google or Facebook’s search feature. You can find information related to a specific topic on Twitter just by using the search feature.
  5. Twitter Trends – On your Twitter sidebar you’ll see a section for Twitter trends. The default setting for this is to target trends based on your geographic location and interests. Did you know you can change that? Click on the “Change” link and you can change your geographic location. You can make it Worldwide or choose a country or region, or even your city. Click on “Tailored Trends” and you’ll see the trends based on what you tweet about the most.

You can use Twitter for more than marketing. You can also use it for research.

You might be wondering whether Facebook has any interest in quality – particularly in quality content on your news feed. But a recent article at Constant Contact illustrates just how Facebook does see quality.

To summarize, Facebook’s idea of quality seems to be:

  • Timely and relevant content
  • Content from trustworthy sources
  • Content that is shareable
  • Genuinely interesting
  • Isn’t trying to game the news feed
  • Not considered “low-quality” post or meme by users
  • No one would complain about the post in their news feed

In other words, Facebook views quality much the same way the rest of us do. If it’s shareable, derived from a trustworthy source, timely and relevant, and not annoying, then it’s probably quality content.

What’s the takeaway here?

When you create your Facebook content, do you have a specific set of quality guidelines to help you achieve the best content for your wall and your friends’ news feeds? If not, why not?

You should. In fact, you should set up some guidelines for your Facebook posts (and social media posts, in general) to help you and your team think more deeply about your social content. Are you just posting links? Maybe you need to be more diverse in what you post. Are you posting three-week old data? Make your content more current.

The bottom line is to think of your Facebook content in the same terms that your friends are going to think about it. Go for quality, not quantity.

Facebook is in the news again with hashtags.

It’s not real big news. It’s just that when you search for hashtags you’ll get a list of other hashtags below the search results page on Facebook. From what I can tell, the hashtags aren’t related, so it makes me wonder how really useful this feature is. Unless you are in the habit of making random hashtag searches, it might not prove useful.

For instance, the search for #flashfiction yields the following Explore More Hashtags:

  • #beetlejuice
  • #mileycyrus
  • #usopen
  • #tmac
  • #MTVVMAs
  • #1stdayofschool

None of these hashtags are related to flash fiction. I performed another hashtag search just to see what would happen. Actually two.

I searched for #onlinemarketing and #smallbusinesses only to end up with endless search results. So it appears that the Explore More Hashtags box is only useful if the hashtag you are searching for offers limited search results. Really popular searches will only result in endless search results.

Still, I have to hand it to Facebook for exploring the hashtags search feature in the first place. They’re trying to appeal to their users, even if they fall a little short sometimes.

What do you think about the hashtag search feature on Facebook? Will you use it? Do you think it will be helpful? Are hashtags the new social media model, the wave of the future?

Companies have been debating how to determine the value of a social media contact for years. Today, I’d like to specifically discuss how you can determine the value of a Facebook fan.

Kudos to Ryan Rasmussen for bringing up this subject. Rasmussen states succinctly:

Instead of using an approximate static value of a fan (e.g., $10 per fan, on average, as SocialCode concluded in 2011), it proves the effective value of your program and the unique value of your particular customer segment in taking an action or adopting an attitude that can be tracked back to sales.

In other words, if contact with a Facebook fan doesn’t lead to a sale, then there is really no value in that fan.

Don’t take that to mean that the fan herself must be the one buying your product. The fan could share a piece of your content with her network of friends, and if that leads to you getting another fan or two who purchase your product, the sharing fan proves her value. Is it much? It depends. Do her referrals purchase often, and do they purchase a lot?

I agree that Facebook fans should not be given a blanket static value. This is arbitrary and doesn’t give a true picture of your Facebook marketing efforts.

When it comes to determining value, think a little deeper. Don’t just look at the surface.

Jeremy Page shares his insights into marketing on Instagram in only five minutes a day at Search Engine Journal. More interesting to me is that his strategy uses hashtags.

Hashtags have become a de facto social media organizing tool. They started on Twitter. You can even search Twitter hashtags at Hashtags.org.

Over the past year, hashtags have become regular use on Google+, Facebook, and Instagram.

While this doesn’t exactly spell ubiquity, it does say something about the growing popularity of hashtags. It’s entirely possible that hashtags could become the Internet’s social organizational tool and may even be indexed through a dedicated search channel in the search engines. Just as Google has search channels for News, Blogs, Videos, and other verticals, it’s possible that search engines could develop a vertical for hashtags.

I’m not saying that will happen, but it could. Hashtags are becoming, more and more, a way for people to catalog their information and a way for them to follow and find information that is important to a large cross-section of people with something in common.

How do you use hashtags? Are they important to you? Do you use the same hashtags across several social media platforms or do you create unique hashtags for each platform? What are your thoughts about the future of hashtags?

Facebook post embedding is soon coming your way. And I can’t say it isn’t soon enough. It makes me wonder why Facebook hasn’t allowed this before.

You’ll often see with online Web properties, especially once they become popular, that changes come a bit slowly, but when they do come they come with a fierce vengeance. I fully expect that the Facebook embed posts will become a very popular feature very quickly. As many people who use Facebook for promoting their blog posts, you know this feature will be put to some good use all over the Web.

Unfortunately, as of right now, the embed feature is not available to everyone. But I can hardly wait.

According to a Mashable article, only a handful of news organizations currently have the ability to embed Facebook posts. These include:

  • Mashable
  • CNN
  • The Huffington Post
  • Bleacher Report
  • People Magazine

Embeds will also make use of hashtags, which allow journalists and bloggers to track specific conversations the way they do on Twitter.

Surprisingly, 72% of Facebook users set their posts to private, but in order to be embeddable, a post has to be set to public. I don’t think this will hurt Facebook at all. Journalists, news organizations, and others in the communications business, even businesses, are going to set their posts to public. Private posters aren’t generally posting information that anyone would want to embed, with only a few exceptions.

What do you think? Will this make Facebook posting more or less valuable from a social media marketing standpoint?

Jill Konrath and Ardath Albee released an e-book based on a survey of LinkedIn users and their conclusion is that top LinkedIn sellers view the social network as essential to their marketing efforts. “Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code” shares some insightful statistics about how these top sellers use LinkedIn to nurture prospects and build their businesses.

Konrath and Ardath share five key findings in their report:

  1. LinkedIn “contributes” to opportunity creation.
  2. The most frequent LinkedIn activity is prospect research.
  3. Top sellers use more of LinkedIn’s capabilities than other users.
  4. Top sellers also pay close attention to their professional “presence” on LinkedIn.
  5. The biggest obstacle to using LinkedIn effectively is knowledge of its capabilities.

It is clear after reading the report that top sellers on LinkedIn have a completely different mindset than average users. They frequently close more sales than the average user and find more qualified prospects too. In other words, they actually have a LinkedIn strategy.

Konrath and Albee are careful to note, however, that merely using LinkedIn the same way that top sellers do won’t guarantee sales success. Putting in the time doesn’t translate into sales (BTW, top sellers spend 6 hours or more a week on LinkedIn).

When you consider that in a typical 5 day work week a power user will spend 1-1/4 hours per day on LinkedIn and contribute to 30 or more LinkedIn groups, then it’s clear that top sellers are people who are active on LinkedIn. It makes me wonder if they are active on other social networks too.

What do you think? Are you using LinkedIn like a top seller/power user?

Marketing on Facebook is an art, not a science. People will follow your business page, but they want it to be entertaining and engaging. They want something more than a little self-promotion. They want a page that acts like a community. They’re OK with your central control over the content as long as fans feel like they are a part of your community.

Here are 5 ways to spruce up your Facebook business page and keep your fans happy.

  1. Talk about other people. A lot. Don’t make your page all about you. Talk about your customers, your business partners, even your competition. Just don’t talk about yourself all the time.
  2. Post videos. People like images. They love moving images even better. You don’t have to post a video every day, but you can post one once a week. Less, if you want. But videos are powerful ways to communicate a message, and if you have the resources to produce high quality videos, they will work hard to promote your brand.
  3. Post about something else. I wouldn’t advise you to go off topic with every Facebook post, but you can do it once in awhile. People want to see your personality. They want to see the personality of the person running your Facebook page. So give them what they want. Post off-topic content every now and then, but keep it professional.
  4. Make unforgettable offers. Businesses offer discounts and run promotions. You can do that on your Facebook page. Of course, you can run general business promotions, but do something special for your Facebook fans. Offer a Facebook-only promotion.
  5. Tell stories. People love stories. Have your customers share their stories about using your product or service. Talk about events that have happened around your brand. Tell stories, and make them interesting.

When it comes to social media marketing, your Facebook page is one piece of the puzzle. Use it well and it will pay you back.

Social networking site LinkedIn started out as a place for hungry job seekers to find employment. Then it blossomed into so much more. They added forums, communities, a question & answer board, and a load of features for business people. And they started growing by leaps and bounds.

Not long ago they added a new feature that has grown quite rapidly – business pages. Recently, they hit the 3 million mark with business pages created. 500,000 of those were within the last 12 months.

From the way the service is growing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another million business pages added in the next 18 months. Yours should be one of them – if it isn’t already.

Because so many business professionals are using LinkedIn, if you run a business to business operation, then you should be there too. One of the reasons so many business owners and executives are using LinkedIn is because it doesn’t have all the circus-like distractions that Facebook has, which more a destination for business to consumer operations.

Social networking is here to stay. You have to go where your audience is. You can’t be on every network. You have time to manage. Pick your venues wisely. LinkedIn is for businesses.

This is perhaps the greatest social media blunder in history.

MySpace decided to change directions – again – and when they did they closed off some features to users and deleted all of their old information. And what did they apologize for? A MySpace with limited features.

I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t seem right.

Imagine going to Facebook and being told that all the posts, comments, photos, videos, and everything you’ve ever done on Facebook is gone. Kaput. Finis. You can’t get access to it, and you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to get it back. But Facebook apologizes for redesigning the site so you can’t create groups any more. Would that tick you off?

This little social experiment by MySpace should tell you one thing: You need to start saving all of your Facebook data.

In fact, you should backup all of your social media data every so often just in case your favorite social media website decides to follow MySpace’s lead. I think Cynthia Boris makes a valid point when she says

we don’t own our space in social media, we’re only renting.

If you thought otherwise, sorry to disappoint you. The social media services may claim that you own your own data, but if they can delete it at any time and not give you access to it, then does it do you any good to own it? Take some good advice. Do your own backups.