Sales & Support 1-888-220-7361

The Reciprocal Consulting Blog

You are Browsing the March 2014 Archive:

There is a practice going around called Twitterjacking. It is essentially using other people’s tweets, hashtags, and other Twitter marketing strategies to draw attention to your business. It’s controversial, but it can also be powerful if you don’t overdo it or misuse it.

The first step is to find popular Twitter users and hashtags in your niche and follow them for a while. Get a feel for what they tweet about before you do anything.

If opportunities arise, interact with these power users. Ask them questions or respond to their tweets. Focus on building a relationship first. You can even retweet some of their most interesting or useful tweets.

After you’ve built a solid relationship, tag along on one of the popular hashtags that are gaining traction. Rising hashtags are great opportunities. Make sure your tweet is relevant to the hashtag and to your audience. If possible, mention the originator of the hashtag or the associated brand by @ sign and name.

This practice, if done well and unannoyingly, will usually net you a few extra followers every time you use it. Just don’t abuse it.

Retweets, hashtags, and even favorites are all subtle but powerful ways you can hijack Twitter to attract a little attention to your brand.

Every now and then an idea comes along that seems hokie on the surface but actually turns into a big deal. Twitter comes to mind.

Flipagram promises to be to video as Twitter is to blogging. Call it microvideo production, but it could catch on.

The name makes you think instantly of Instagram. That’s understandable. It is integrated with Instagram. But it’s also integrated with Facebook and Twitter, which means that it could see a lot of users checking it out.

It’s actually a smartphone app – with downloads for iOS and Android.

The essence is Flipagram allows users to create short videos (15 to 30 seconds) using their own photos and music dubbed over them. One question that comes to mind is this, Can users use their own music? If so, then it could catch on with independent music artists, and the marketing value for small businesses will go up immediately, as well.

That’s not to say that you can’t use Flipagram for marketing if you are forced to use music from a pre-established library, but my guess is there will be commercial restrictions on copyrighted material.

I can’t wait to see how users put Flipagram to use and begin to share their videos across their social networks.

All Facebook says it won’t have the same marketing usability as Vine, but I do wonder. What do you think? Will Flipagram become useful to social media marketers?

One underutilized feature of Twitter is something called a Twitter chat, or a tweet chat. In a nutshell, this is simply the practice of using a special hashtag to host a discussion about a particular topic on Twitter. It’s a great way to use Twitter for branding your company.

It’s really simple. I’d recommend creating a special hashtag for your chat session rather than co-opt one that already exists. There are several reasons for this:

  • If you use a hashtag that already exists, you may find people joining your chat session who shouldn’t be there.
  • You may annoy other Twitter users who feel like you’ve taken over their conversation.
  • Creating your own hashtag is fun and practical as it carries with it a branded element that points back to you.

Before choosing a hashtag, conduct a search for it to see if it already exists. If it does, then come up with an alternative.

After creating your hashtag, write a blog post inviting your readers to join your chat session. Be sure to publish the time and date. Next, create an event on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to notify your followers of the chat session. And don’t forget to invite your Twitter followers.

If you plan your chat session far enough in advance, you can promote it regularly prior to the event to encourage a higher attendance. Make sure everyone knows the chat hashtag.

Twitter chats can be conducted during a specific short period of time (i.e. 7 P.M.-9 P.M. on a specific date) or for a designated time period over several days (i.e. 8 A.M. on a specific date to 9 P.M. three days later). Either way, it’s a great way to get feedback on specific issues related to your customers and your brand.

Search Engine Journal makes a convincing case that marketers should tweet their content more than once. To summarize, here’s what one publisher found through a study conducted on Twitter:

  • Tweeting a blog post multiple times results in more traffic to your blog.
  • By tweeting the same content several times throughout the day you can reach people in different time zones. Our comment: That’s very important if your audience is global, much less so if it is local.
  • You can reach new followers with each tweet. Our comment: Even though local businesses aren’t concerned about multiple time zones, there may still be a benefit to tweeting at different times of the day as people often have different social and work schedules based on our 24-hour economy.
  • You cant test different headlines to see which one is more effective.

One thing I found particularly interesting is that the writer of the article mentioned that after testing several headlines she would go back and change the original title to a blog post. Here’s what she says in her own words:

When we see a big difference in engagement on a different headline like that, we usually go back to the original post and change the title itself (the URL never changes, just the heading of the blog post), so this can be a really useful learning experience for us, as well as helping us share our content with more people.

That’s not a bad idea. Maybe it’s time to rethink your social media strategy.

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?

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.

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.

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?

I like how Jon Morris tells this story. While he offers several “key takeaways,” for me there is one really BIG key takeaway.

In his words, he shares

Provide your influencer with exclusivity in viewing and sharing your personalized content. Allowing them to create the first surge of the sharing wave will help reinforce that they are an extremely valuable, important part in the process. But don’t rely on them for everything — have a two-pronged approach and invest in link building efforts to compliment the awesomizer’s reach.

Jon came to this revelation by experimenting with an infographic, which he created specifically for a Twitter power user to whom he gave exclusive rights to with no expectation of return. The risk paid off.

I like this strategy.

You don’t always have to be first to share your own content. In Jon’s case, he could have published his own infographic, but would it have gained the same amount of attention as the one he created for his Twitter pal? Not likely.

When he offered exclusivity to Travis on Twitter, he essentially allowed the power user to get the glory that comes with sharing something great with your audience. Travis, however, paid it back and passed that glory on to Jon and his team. When you pay it forward, good things happen to you.

Lesson to learn: You don’t always have to be first to share your own content.

Going viral can be a lot of fun, and for a business it can be really profitable. But at what cost?

One fan wasn’t doing it for the business, but he went viral in a very un-recommended way. @MasoneDylan posted on Twitter that he’d run across the field at the Major League Baseball All-Star game if he got 1,000 retweets. He ended up getting 3,552.

Now, I have to ask this question: What would you do for 1,000 retweets?

Keep in mind that a retweet doesn’t necessarily mean more money in your pocket. Those social media users may never visit your website and may never buy your widget. But you’d get a lot of publicity, especially if you do something stupid like interrupt a professional sporting event.

Some people get desperate for attention. Business owners are not immune to it either. Be sure, before you do something risky, that you stand at least a good chance of seeing positive results from your crazy antics. It’s OK to do something wild from time to time as long as you don’t endanger people’s lives and you don’t end up ruining your reputation. These kinds of antics are a risk.

If you want to go viral, think a little on the crazy side, but stay away from the stupid side.

This is an interesting experiment. Twitter marketing at its finest.

Actually, it’s book marketing using Twitter as the medium and the main character in a work of fiction as the medium. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not this is effective book marketing and whether or not this is the future of book marketing. Let’s see what we can learn from it for business purposes.

Do characters work? On the whole, I’d say no. But I can see a scenario where they might.

Let’s say your business has a mascot. It’s a well known mascot. Your target audience knows who it is. For instance, the Dallas Cowboys has a mascot named Rowdy.

Suppose Rowdy had his own Twitter account.

Wait a minute. He does have his own Twitter account. And his own Facebook page too.

Rowdy has his own character’s voice, even on Twitter. Which is cool.

So if your business has a mascot, you could create a Twitter account for your mascot and use it as a platform to give your mascot a character’s voice. Instead of using it as a marketing tool where all you do is post links to your products (which would be boring), you could use it as an entertainment platform. Let your customers interact with your mascot through Twitter as if he was a real person. Give your audience entertainment value and you’ll see the rewards in a tangible way. That’s online marketing in the 21st century.

Last year Twitter introduced its advertising program, rolling it out to businesses first then to everyone. We learned that recently they also rolled out their analytics tool publicly.

Obviously, this is a way that Twitter hopes to encourage more users to buy sponsored tweets. I hope it works.

The analytics tool is a part of Twitter’s advertising platform. But you don’t have to be an advertiser to view your stats. You just login and get the data. But be forewarned, it doesn’t tell you much – yet.

What it will tell you, however, is helpful. For instance, you can see how many mentions you’ve had on any given day. And you can also see how many followers you picked up and how many followers you lost. In addition, Twitter will tell you how many faves and retweets each of your tweets have received to date. If your links have been clicked, it will tell you how many times. And particularly helpful is a notification when a particular tweet has been getting more attention than your normal tweets. You’ll get a message akin to this:

15x NORMAL REACH

Twitter analytics is still in its infancy. I expect it to get better. Meanwhile, to start using it, go to Twitter’s advertising platform and log in.

Social media has become the big gorilla of online marketing. Unfortunately, it isn’t the panacea that a lot of hype makes it out to be. It can, though, be very rewarding if you work it the right way.

I’m not going to tell you which social media websites to be on. Instead, I’m going to tell you how to make the most of the websites you are on, and what to do if you are posting to certain social media networks. Here are three ways to improve your social media marketing experience.

  1. Be an authority and seek out relationships with other authorities. If you are not a highly respected authority, then you are second rate. That’s the taxonomy of the Web. So how do you do that? One very important way is to seek relationships with other authorities in your niche. If they follow you and share your content, then the search engines will like you better.
  2. Implement Google Authorship. Just by adding the Rel=Author code, along with an image and your byline, to your content, you are telling Google that your content is trustworthy. Trust is very important online. If your content can’t be trusted, then it won’t be ranked by the search engines and no one will find it. Google Authorship helps you do that better.
  3. Add A Twitter Card to your tweets. This is a fairly new tool for Twitter users. If you aren’t on Twitter, don’t worry about it (whether you should be on Twitter is another story). Twitter cards make your tweets more trustworthy. Untrustworthy content doesn’t get shared.

There you have it. Here are three ways to improve your social media marketing campaigns right now. Today.

You can’t hardly turn the TV on any more without hearing a tweet mentioned or see a Twitter account plugged. Major news outlets have Twitter accounts, and news is often first announced on Twitter. But that’s not enough for Twitter. They want to push further.

Twitter Amplify is Twitter’s advertising program, and they’ve announced some new partners:

  • A&E (@AETV)
  • theAudience
  • Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV)
  • Clear Channel (@ClearChannel)
  • Conde Nast (@CondeNastCorp)
  • Discovery (@Discovery)
  • Major League Baseball (@mlbdotcom)
  • National Cinemedia (@NCMonline)
  • New York Magazine (@NYMag)
  • PGA Tour (@PGATOUR)
  • PMC (@Variety)
  • Time Inc. (@Time_Inc)
  • VEVO (@VEVO)
  • Warner Music (@warnermusic)
  • WWE (@WWE)
  • VICE (@VICE)

Twitter calls these partnerships two-screen partnerships. Brands promote themselves through Promoted Tweets to remind viewers to tune into their TVs at the appropriate times to view their favorite shows and programming. And then the shows often tweet during the airings as well as immediately before and after.

Everything from news programs to sports can be seen on Twitter’s new Amplify.

So how can you turn this into a marketing opportunity for your business? You could contact Twitter and ask how you can participate in the Twitter Amplify program. If it works out, you could expand your audience and reach new people through Twitter and your TV screen.

Friday, we talked about Yahoo!’s new partnership with Twitter. Today, USA Today reported that Yahoo! is purchasing Tumblr for $1.1 billion.

Here’s the kicker: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer said, “We promise not to screw it up.”

That’s good news. It makes you wonder why she’d say that. People who have been following Yahoo! for a number of years realize it for what it is. Yahoo! executives know they have a problematic history of buying up Web properties and then screwing them up. Mayer’s comment is supposed to be reassurance to Tumblr fans that Yahoo! will accept the blogging site the way it is.

But a lot of them aren’t buying it.

Here’s my question. Assuming that Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr, how can this acquisition benefit Internet marketers?

That could happen any number of ways. Already, the company is discussing potential advertising opportunities via Tumblr bloggers agreeing to run ads on their blogs. There’s no definitive answer yet, but if that happens, then Tumblr itself could increase in value in terms of how it can benefit Internet marketers.

It also makes me wonder if Yahoo! has in mind using Twitter in any way within this relationship. Would Tumblr blogs run Twitter ads, by any chance? Or Yahoo! PPC ads?

All of these are unanswered questions, and it may be too soon to speculate. For now, let’s just hope Yahoo! makes good on its promise not to screw up Tumblr.

Remember when Twitter and Google partnered up for realtime search? It didn’t go so well. In 2011, they parted ways because they couldn’t reach an agreement that was acceptable to both parties. Now, Twitter has partnered with Yahoo! to show tweets in Yahoo!s search pages.

This is awkward for a number of reasons.

  • First, you may not think of Yahoo! as a search engine any more, but it is. That really is its core function. However, it is third in the search competitive space with only 5% of the market share on its best day.
  • Because Yahoo! has such a small portion of the search market, that’s not a big feather in the cap for Twitter.
  • It is a huge benefit to Yahoo!, however.
  • I wonder how it makes Google executives feel that they lost a valuable asset to Yahoo!?

Twitter is a valuable medium for any company to partner with. Still, it’s Yahoo! They aren’t exactly a force to be reckoned with any more. On the other hand, you can’t write them off completely.

For search marketers, this is still a good deal. It opens up Yahoo! as a potential new source of indirect traffic. If you are a Twitter user, it’s time to play around to see how your tweets are chosen for display on Yahoo!’s SERPs. There is a lesson in search engine marketing to be learned from this. I’m sure we’ll hear about it from the top pros soon.

As more people flock to Twitter for following their favorite celebrities and other people of interest, the social media site is becoming saturated with tweets, retweets, and hashtags. How can a serious-minded business person stay ahead of the curve and have a meaningful experience on Twitter? One way is to create Twitter lists.

A Twitter list is simply a list of other Twitter users who fit a particular mold. You can use these lists to create a specific-niche group of people to follow.

For instance, if you are interested in sculptors, you can create a list of your favorite working sculptors. Let’s say you have 15 sculptors worldwide that you would include as your favorite living sculptors. Create a list. This list makes it easier for you to follow those sculptors as you keep them grouped in that list.

The Twitter list also tells other Twitter users who you think are the important people in that niche. This is important for reputation purposes. If others agree with your recommendations, they are more likely to follow you.

Another benefit to lists is it puts you one step closer to those individuals. When you put someone on a list, you are one step away from them. You actually have a relationship, of sorts.

Twitter lists keep Twitter interesting. They also boost your reputation and draw you closer to the type of people you want to follow, and who you want to follow you.

The Facebook era of Tweetdeck is over. Actually, the third-party app era of Tweetdeck is over. No more Facebook integration and no more Android or iPhone apps, and no more Tweetdeck AIR.

The bright news is that Tweetdeck is working on an app for Chrome, which should include notifications.

What’s this mean for social media marketers who rely on Tweetdeck for posting?

First, it means that you’ll have to find another way to make your posts to Facebook. That’s bad news. If you are currently using Tweetdeck on your iPhone or an Android device, or still using Tweetdeck AIR, then you’ll have to migrate your usage to the web-based version of the product. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If the Chrome app happens, then Chrome users will have an advantage.

Tweetdeck does offer a reason for their discontinuance of their smartphone apps:

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady trend towards people using TweetDeck on their computers and Twitter on their mobile devices. This trend coincides with an increased investment in Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android –– adding photo filters and other editing capabilities, revamping user profiles and enhancing search. That said, we know this applies to most of our users –– not all of them.

Tweetdeck has spent the better part of the last year enhancing its web-based platform. The fact that they are still hiring developers means that we’ll see more improvements to that platform in the coming months. I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Initially, sponsored tweets on Twitter were open only to big corporations. Now, they’re open to everyone. You can take advantage of Twitter’s self-service advertising platform in two ways:

  • Promoted Accounts – Ever see those “Who To Follow” lists in your Twitter sidebar? If so, then that’s what I’m talking about. You can have your account show up in that list for people that you target based on demographics you choose. Get more targeted followers for your business and capitalize on them.
  • Promoted Tweets – The other way to use Twitter’s self-service advertising platform is to promote individual tweets. These are also based on demographic data you input based on your preferences. The difference is that your promoted tweet will appear in the Twitter streams of the people who match your targeting preferences.

This is a new opportunity for small businesses looking to capitalize on Twitter. You can keep tweeting for free and hope to get a response from your followers, or you can reach Twitter accounts based on your preferences. These may be followers or not, but they’ll be targeted based on criteria you define.

I think now is the time to jump on this bandwagon. It is likely that the cost of Twitter advertising will increase as demand increases. At least, initially. What you’ll pay for promoted tweets two years from now may not be what you’ll pay today.

According to Constant Contact, 74% of all social media users are using #hashtags. That’s interesting because at last count, Facebook hadn’t incorporated hashtags – yet.

They’re working on it, though.

So, what is a hashtag and how can you use it for business?

Simply put, a hashtag is a word or phrase accompanied by a preceding # symbol that is often used to track a conversation. For instance, if you want to know what people are saying about hashtags on social media, you can go to Twitter or Google+ and search for #hashtags. You can even subscribe to the threads to follow the conversation more easily.

As a business, you can enter conversations where hashtags already exist or create your own hashtags. For instance, the popular micro-job site Fiverr has the hashtag #Fiverr on Twitter.

This is another way to optimize your social media posts. By creating hashtags around popular topics related to your niche you can pull in people who may not already be following you on the social media sites where you have a presence. Be sure, however, that you use the hashtags appropriately. Don’t use them to spam people with related topics. That’s a sure way to tick people off and get a bad reputation.

Hashtags are powerful social media tools if you use them correctly. They’re easy to implement and could lead to some big boosts in your business.