Category Archives: Social Media Marketing

This Week in Social Media: Facebook’s Organic Reach Decline

If you’ve been on Facebook at all recently, you’ve probably seen posts from pages asking if you can see their posts, to like or comment so they can tell who is seeing them, etc. They complain that Facebook has reduced the number of people they can reach organically and don’t understand why.

WHBC Facebook TestFacebook claims to be showing users stories they wouldn’t see if their feed was clogged with just posts from pages they has “liked” and followed.

Facebook has made a number of comments on this decline, but the most prevalent assumption is that Facebook has what is being referred to as a “Pay for Play” attitude. They want to sell more advertising, so they are suppressing posts so that marketers and others have to pay to be seen. The graph below, done by Social@Ogilvy, shows the average decline of the organic reach of content published on Facebook pages over the last several months. As you can see, most pages are reaching only 2-6% of the audience following or liking their page. As of last week, that number was closer to 1-2%.

Ogilvy Facebook Reach Graph

Matt Kapko from www.cio.com shares a quote from Marshall Manson, managing director of Social @Ogilvy for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, in his article on the topic:

“The proper response to these changes, according to both analysts and marketers, is to develop a wider social media strategy. The capability to build large communities of engaged fans was a critical aspect of Facebook’s early appeal to marketers and many brands have invested millions toward that objective. Facebook Zero is a reality now facing every brand and business with a presence on the platform. Action is required, and specific decisions will need to be made with regard to content planning, paid support for social media activities, audience targeting and much more.”

So what does that mean for you, in regards to your brand and social media? Diversify. You can’t keep all your eggs in the Facebook basket anymore. Social media will continue to evolve, and this is just one stage in the evolution. I think we can assume all the social media platforms will one day do the same, unless someone can come up with a way to eliminate users who don’t interact with your brand from seeing your posts in a regulated way – allowing brands to trim dead weight from their followers, and marketing to a very targeted audience. Even then, social media platforms are going want and need to cash in on your use of their platform. Be ready to spend some money, but you will also need to be ready with unique content and the ability to change things up, grow your presence on the most useful platforms when necessary.

Have you noticed a big decline of your page’s reach on Facebook? Has that in any way impacted your sales or other marketing goals? We’d love to hear from you in the comments – tell us your Facebook Zero story!

The Best Ways to Optimize Your Videos for YouTube

If you’re thinking about using video content on your site, the next thing you’ll need to do after creating them is market them. We typically recommend publishing your videos on YouTube – after all, it is the biggest search engine after Google and typically the go-to place for anyone who wants to access the world’s largest library of video content. YouTube videos are also very well indexed within Google search results.youtube

But, how do you make your video stand out in a sea of cat montages? You optimize it, just like you do you website’s content.

The YouTube algorithm relies on several signals when ranking videos within YouTube’s search results, including:

  • Text in titles
  • Text in descriptions
  • Tagging
  • Number of views and recent trending
  • Ratings

Titles

While it is tempting to use creative or cute titles, it is actually more difficult for your videos to be found organically in search with titles that convey ideas other than the actual content of the video. Keep it simple, describing only what the video is actually about.

Descriptions

Your video descriptions should be compelling, but should also be simple and true to the topic of the video. Make sure to include links to your site near the front of the copy so that it appears above the “Show More” line.

Tagging

While tags are not visible to the viewer anymore, they are still an important part of optimizing your videos because they are used by search engines to position your video in organic searches, and by YouTube to associate your videos with others containing similar content. Choose relevant tags only, but think bigger than just your company. For example, a local business might want to tag their video with their city or state.

Number of Views

Using the right titles, descriptions and tagging with help boost your views, but you can also do that by sharing your videos with your audience across all of your social networks, embedding in your site where relevant or linking to it via newsletters, etc. Keep in mind that it doesn’t count as a view until it’s played for 8 seconds – so make sure your video is compelling enough to get someone past 8 seconds. (Actually – make it compelling enough that they want to watch the whole thing!)

Ratings

If your content is compelling, ratings are generally pretty easy to get. It’s also OK when you share your videos to ask your audience to give your video a “thumbs up”! Often the best way to get visitors to convert is simply to ask them.

Have you had success with videos on YouTube? Tell me in the comments!

The Importance of Google+ Local Reviews

Google ReviewIt is no secret that having an active Google+ page helps to increase your local search rankings. A high, positive review rating increases those rankings even further, but you have to be careful how you go about soliciting reviews to your Google+ page. Here is a quick list of things to try out and things to avoid as you navigate through the Google+ Local review process.

Effective Ways to Increase Customer Reviews

  • Ask – it is that simple
  • Review your partners – if you work with contractors or other businesses on a regular basis, post a review to their Google+ page, they might just reciprocate
  • Add a “Write a Google+ Review” tag to the bottom of your invoice or receipt
  • Promote your Google+ presence by adding the G+ icon to your website.
  • Add the G+ tag to the bottom of your email signature and ask for reviews
  • Send out a weekly or bi-weekly “How did we do?” email – you can ask customers to respond by writing a review on your Google+ page
  • Respond to reviews – both positive and negative
    • A simple “Thank you” goes a long way
    • Address a negative review by acknowledging the input and let the customer know that the issue has either been resolved or is being addressed

Playing Nice in the Google Sandbox

Google is smart, so any attempt to circumvent their rules is going to eventually come back to haunt you. Adhere to Google’s written policy for reviews. Here is a high-level summary of reviews that will be removed:

  • Inappropriate content – Keep it PG
  • Off-topic reviews
  • Reviews that appear to be ads or spam, this includes links to other websites
  • Be a good sport – don’t write negative reviews of your competitors
  • Don’t re-write past reviews or testimonials and post them on behalf of someone else
  • Avoid placing a public computer or kiosk in your lobby designated for reviews
  • Avoid conflicts of interest – this includes the following:
    • Paying or incenting customers for reviews
    • Reviewing your own business
    • Asking employees to review your business

When it comes to reviews, slow and steady wins the race. A few quality reviews from your loyal customers will greatly outweigh brief and sloppy one-off posts.
photo credit

This Week in Social Media: Pinterest Gift Giving Feed

Pinterest has introduced a new feed specifically for gift giving. This feed is meant to help get brands in front of consumers in a more direct way. Because many people use Pinterest for gift ideas, they developed the feed as a way to allow businesses to advertise, as well as a way for users to filter results to get more accurate products in the feed.

Pinterest Gift Giving Feed

The Gifts feed was announced on the Pinterest blog:

“We know people love to use Pinterest for shopping ideas, which is why we’ve created a new Gifts feed of all the different things you could buy.

The work-in-progress feed lives with our regular categories but it’s special because it only shows Product Pins. Product Pins show extra details like pricing, availability and where to buy right on the Pin so Pinners can decide which products are right for them.”

The Pinterest Team notes that product pins have a higher click through rate than other pins, so they have created “Rich” pins – this enables brands to optimize their pins for the intended audience.

Pinterest Rich Pins

The Gifts Feed also has a pricing filter, allowing shoppers to narrow their selection by price. Pinners will also get a notification if their pinned product drops in price, and hey, that’s just fun for everyone.

What are your favorite ways to shop? Do go directly to e-commerce sites or do you like to have ideas suggested to you via Facebook, Pinterest or some other site?

Is Your Business Keeping Up on Facebook?

In a fast-paced social media world, it’s not just important to stay up to speed; it’s an absolute requirement. The relevancy of your business is critical in the digital landscape, and there’s no place that shines brighter than through Facebook.facebook logo official

It can be hard to keep up with such a rapidly-changing social world, especially for smaller businesses without a lot of resources to devote to marketing. Worth it? Definitely.

So if you haven’t been keeping up, here is a little cheat sheet detailing a few of the biggest changes Facebook has rolled out so far this year that are affecting brands:

Pay to Play

This is the big one that has all the brands and marketers talking. It’s true, organic reach of business Facebook posts are plummeting. While most businesses jumped on the FB bandwagon over the last few years because it was easy and produced great results, it was an easy decision because it was also free. It’s still easy and continues to produce great results, but now you have to pay for them. A major algorithm switch this year pushed brands to the bottom of newsfeeds. No longer can brands have the expectation that because fans like their page, they will be able to see all posts show up in their newsfeed. In the pay-to-play world, being strategic in selecting posts to sponsor – and ensuring the content is always great – will always work in your brand’s favor. Free posts were nice while they lasted, but the truth is the small fees associated with sponsored posts can produce some really great results. It will be interesting to see how the change plays out in the months to come for big and small businesses alike.

Brand to Brand Tagging

Let’s say TKG posted a status update and tagged another brand, like Google. FB recently changed the algorithm so that status may show up in the newsfeeds of people who like that page as well. So TKG’s post may reach some of Google’s much larger audience. Until that switch, users only saw the posts of those they followed directly. This is a great marketing win, and opens the door to many new possibilities, such as brand-to-brand partnerships and cross-promoting. This only works for brand pages; an individual can’t tag a brand and get that same audience. All that said, while this sounds great in theory, I haven’t seen a lot of first-hand successes yet. Stay tuned on this one.

Trending

You may have noticed the “Trending” section to the right of your desktop newsfeed. Facebook has indeed jumped into this Twitter favorite. It’s being rolled out in batches, so it isn’t available to all FB users yet. Click on a trending topic to see what others are saying about it right now (note: Status shared in the Trending feed are only those set to be shared as Public). This addition offers some interesting options for brands, and makes real-time marketing an essential. It can be another way to join a larger conversation in an effective way.

Layout

Some layout changes rolling out this year should allow Facebook admins easier access to information and insights. Rather than the two-column layout for business pages, the info will stream in an easier-to-read single column. An additional column will include the business basics (hours, likes, photos, contact, etc.). All the info about your business will display nicely in this format. The tabs currently shown under your cover image won’t be there – they will show up in a drop-down menu. And, wait for it, new visitors to your page will get prompted to like the page to see your posts show up in their newsfeeds. Among the new insights available to admins is a Pages to Watch tool. Admins can create a list of pages similar to their business and compare their performances. The layout change has just barely started to roll out, so we’ll see if it implements as well as it appears.

This list could go on and on about FB changes for businesses in recent months. Has your business been affected by any of the changes? I’d love to hear what is (or isn’t) working for your business. Share in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Social Media Community Management: 3 Things to Consider Before You Get Started

A lot of clients we work with are starting to dip their toes into social media this year – typically Facebook or Twitter. As we start defining their goals, and the strategy for achieving them through these social channels, the one thing that comes up universally is the need for Community Management – which is just a fancy way of saying: When our audience talks to us (YAY!!!!), who is in charge of answering back? And, what guidelines do we want to follow in our replies?

If you’re dipping your toes into social media this year, here are 3 things to think about as you establish your editorial calendar and community management guidelines:

  1. Timeliness: We believe that all companies should engage with their audience when and where they want to engage. What this means is that we use analytics to help us figure out what times of day are best to publish content on social properties, and we try to make someone available to respond when our audience talks back. This doesn’t mean that someone needs to staff your Facebook or Twitter account 24/7, but you should establish guidelines for your company on what is an acceptable response time. 2 hours? 4 hours? 24 hours? And then watch your analytics and adjust as your community grows.
  2. Whether to Respond: This one is easy. Yes, yes, yes, you should respond. Always. Listen; if someone is going to take the time to interact with your brand, you want to thank them. And with social media, it’s easy to do! Positive posts can be liked, re-tweeted or commented on, same with neutral ones. And negative ones, while tempting to delete sometimes, should (almost) never be deleted. Instead view this as an amazing customer service opportunity. Not everyone will like your company and its products all of the time, but your audience as a whole will always appreciate that you took the time to respond sincerely.
  3. How Much Can You Really Handle: It’s tempting to jump into social all the way – but the reality is that social media can be a LOT of work. What’s sustainable for your company? How much do you need to do to meet your goals? What do you have the staff for? Can you hire an outside partner to help you? Deciding on the answers to this early will really set the tone for whether or not you succeed – and whether or not you’re still doing social a few months down the road. Our best advice? Start small, measure, analyze and grow from there. You don’t have to tweet 10 times a day to be successful- you just have to be consistent, and have someone respond when your audience tweets back.

Of course these are just the community management concerns – there are plenty of other things to consider as you get started with social media, most importantly your content strategy. Yep, you’ll need to have one of those too.

Any other big things you’re thinking about as you plan your social media strategies? Tell me in the comments!

This Week in Social Media: Yelp Sting Operation

In an ongoing effort to reclaim their platform, Yelp has announced that through a new “sting” operation, they will determine which businesses are purchasing reviews. Yelp’s Consumer Alerts began in 2012, but Yelp has recently decided to take a harsher stance. This week, they have rolled out a fresh batch of these alerts and renewed them for some businesses. If you are a restaurant, small business or other establishment who has been targeted for one of these sting operations and found to have fake or purchased reviews posted on your Yelp page, you will get a warning slapped on your profile to make users aware that the information is not trustworthy.

Some businesses waiting for reviews to be verified are claiming that Yelp is holding the reviews in order to get the businesses to buy advertising. In contrast, Yelp states that as of February, they had almost 300 additional businesses who will be penalized for paying for reviews, whether with cash, discounts or other benefits.

Yelp’s controversies aside, Yelp has decided to slap a business they feel has phony or paid for reviews with a big, embarrassing Consumer Alert badge. While they buffer this with stating that they don’t remove the business’ listing, some might argue  – with the sad state that Yelp (and most review sites for that matter) is in – it might be just as well to get banned from Yelp altogether, or just attempt to remove your listing yourself.

Yelp Consumer AlertHave you had difficulties with Yelp or any other review service? Were you able to rectify the problem or is it still an issue? Tell us your story in the comments, we’d love to hear how you fixed a problem, or if you were able to get phony reviews removed, or even a success story.

Red Heart Yarn Gives TKG Their Social Media Rundown

Red Heart Yarn on Social Media

Red Heart Yarn If you are a crafter, knitter, crocheter, or anyone who knows or loves one, you are familiar with Red Heart Yarn. In the yarn business for over 75 years, Red Heart Yarn is part of the Coats and Clark family of brands. Coats and Clark began in the 1800s originating in Scotland, making thread and needles. The Clark family expanded to the US, opening a cotton mill in New Jersey and quickly adding others in the Eastern states, eventually becoming the #1 needlecraft company in the United States. I had the  fantastic opportunity to talk with Coats and Clark’s Crafts Consumer Marketing Manager, North America: Carrie Leahew, about the company’s web marketing strategy.

What is your policy regarding customer service via social media?

If a consumer contacts us via private message or through wall post the social media community manager determines if this is something she can answer or if it needs to go to our customer service department. We strive to answer our consumers back within 24 hours of the original contact.

Do you have a person or team on staff to respond to social inquiries, or do you outsource?

Red Heart has a team of people who are responsible for social media and a customer service department that helps answers queries that the social media team cannot answer.

What percentage of your marketing budget goes to traditional marketing, and how much to web marketing, and social media in particular?

40% of the marketing budget is for digital marketing activities. This year we increased our social media budget to 10% of the overall marketing budget.

I’m sure you have seen marketing evolve, especially in the last 5 years. What do you think has changed the most?

Red Heart Yarn TwitterThe fact that we have social media as a marketing channel. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all within the last 5 years, so it is a whole new fast paced world we are exploring.

What do you like about marketing via social media? Is there any aspect that you feel does not serve your company well?

I love getting immediate responses from consumers on the things we are posting. Engagement is the most important metric for us on social media, so the more people interact with us through social media the more we feel we are getting out of it. Social media has been an important marketing channel for our business being in the craft industry, and I can’t think of one negative thing about it for us. Our consumers love making things, sharing photos and experiences through social media and we love seeing what you are making.

I personally think that your industry lends itself incredibly well to social business, and social media in particular. What platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) do you feel have the greatest impact on your sales?

I think they all collectively have an impact, but in the last 12 months Facebook has had the most growth going from 100,000 fans in January to over 280,000 in December, and that is sure to have an impact on sales.Red Heart Yarn Facebook

Does your company use social business platforms such as Salesforce or something similar internally to communicate rather than email?

We do have Microsoft Outlook 360 which has a tool called Lync that we use to communicate a lot with video chat, IM and screen sharing.

Do you establish the same social media policy and efforts across all of your brands? Why or why not?

Yes, we are working towards establishing the same core social media policies across all our brands. It is important to be consistent in the manner in which we interact with the consumer from a corporate brand perspective.

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Red Heart Yarn provides thousands of free patterns, plenty of social media interaction and a lot of great ideas on the website and across their social media profiles. Their fans are prolific with their photo sharing and very vocal on Facebook and Pinterest. The Red Heart site is very interactive, and appears to be where the brand chooses to spend the majority of their web marketing budget.

I am so glad Carrie Leahew was able to share a bit of their social strategy with TKG. It is fantastic to see a brand that is well over 200 years old able to adapt and grow with the way marketing has changed, especially with such rapid change in the last 20 years. Not all brands of the same age and scope have been so adaptable. The web, with it’s ever changing uses, trends and potential will continue to be a great way for Red Heart to market their brand, especially when they are so willing to go with the current trends. I look for the rest of their brands, especially Coats and Clark, to follow close behind.

Real-Time Marketing: Is it Always a Super Idea?

Capitalizing on quick-witted humor and well-timed tweets, real-time marketing has become the newest digital marketing darling. Super Bowl

And the Super Bowl seemed to be the perfect target for some brands to try working out the kinks. Along the way, it provided abundant fodder for real-time marketing flubs and success stories.

Everyone remembers Oreo’s big social win last year during the Super Bowl, when the cookie company aptly tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” during the game’s unexpected power outage. Talk about quick wit and perfect timing. Oreo instantly became one of the most buzz-worthy moments of the ad game.

No one expected a brand to react outside of their usual marketing silos last year, making the effort stand out and make an immediate impact on the Oreo brand.

So this year, it was game on. You had to know it was coming.

Now smarter to the new realities of content marketing, everyone wanted in on creating a moment like that for their brand. Marketers everywhere tried to hone in on a way to inject their brand into the Super Bowl audience in whatever way they could. And this time they came prepared.

While watching my Twitter feed, it seemed pretty clear to me that several brands tried pretty hard to stock up on material that that could be pulled out in a variety of situations to appear timely. A safety to start the game was the perfect time for Nestle’s Butterfinger to chime in and say “Every game should start with two” with a pic of two of their new peanut butter cups. Seemingly well played, but it certainly didn’t net a lot of reaction from their 25,000 followers ‑ only 21 retweets and 13 favorites. Perhaps it was overkill from the dozen or so other posts to the same extent in a short amount of time.

Butterfinger Super Bowl Tweet

It seemed much of the social action this year happened between brands. Tide was quick to clean up on this tactic, tweeting out to dozens of brands in retort to their messy Super Bowl ads.

JCPenney drew some buzz with their tweets that appeared to have been written by an intern that put back one too many beers. Noted, Coors Light tweeted to JCPenney: “We know football goes great with Coors Light, but please tweet responsibly.” It was later revealed that JCP’s tweets were set to promote Team USA mittens (#tweetingwithmittens). Funny or too staged? The seemingly drunk posts received around 20,000 retweets, while the mittens explanation garnered less than 4,000.Coors Light Super Bowl Tweets

So where’s the sweet spot? When is real-time marketing effective for your business and when does it start to work against you?

It all comes down to authenticity. The key is to stay true to your brand and your mission and have a plan for your long-term social success. A one-time witty tweet means nothing if your brand isn’t going to continue to engage with your audience in a meaningful way.

Content – in any form – always needs to be relevant, dynamic and engaging. When you see an opportunity that works for your brand, don’t be afraid to jump on it quickly – but don’t force it. Your brand, and your followers, will thank you for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your favorite Super Bowl tweets. Share in the comments!

photo credit

 

This Week In Social Media: Pinterest Adds Interests

Pinterest, the much loved social platform of crafters, cooks, artists, travelers, gardeners, hobbiests, fashionistas, browsers and brands, will be adding a new feature just announced this week. The feature will be rolled out in coming weeks and  – an Interest page. Pinterest will begin showing you a page based on the pins you have exhibited interest in on the site in previous visits.

Your Interests Page, which right now is just a preview of what is coming, will basically just be a snap shot of the types of pins you have shown the most interest in during your most recent visits to Pinterest.

For example, I haven’t rPinterest Interesteally used Pinterest much since planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party. As you can see, the page is full of new pin categories, more specific than the broad categories you are used to seeing.  Mine shows cupcakes, party favors and lots of pink.  I think this new tool could be a time saver…if you are looking to save time when browsing through Pinterest, the ultimate time suck of social media. It shows you specific pin categories related to the ones you  have recently pinned or searched, or loved. As you use the tool more and more, it will become more specific to you. For example from the Pinterest blog:

Before today, all the billions of Pins on Pinterest were organized into just a handful of broad categories. So if you were browsing for ideas for your yard, you had to go somewhere like “Gardening” and sift through all the Pins. If you’ve collected lots of Pins that show climbing plants and wall ferns, your interests page might recommend vertical gardens for you to check out.

This is utter genius if you pin for your brand, within specific parameters, because now Pinterest is doing all the work of finding new pins for you. Just check out the Interest page to see what is new for you!

Have you checked out Pinterest Interests? What did you think? Will you use it, or do like doing all the discovering on your own (i.e. – the hard way)?