The End Has Come

This will be my last required post for my Digital Marketing class. I am glad that I was given the chance to create this blog and try my hand at writing. It was interesting to see how many of my friends were actually interested in reading about what I had to say. I was happy to see that I did gain some attention in the blog world and gained many followers that were not people who I knew.

So what did I learn?

The main take away I got from this class and experience is how important digital marketing is. It wasn’t like I wasn’t already aware of this but I didn’t know to what extent its importance held. Digital marketing has its moment when it is in your face and obvious, like paid search and banner ads.

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You know it exists and you see that it exists. Most of these type of digital marketing can be annoying and people want it to go away. What I didn’t realize was the amount of marketing that is sneaky about being marketing.  For example, lets talk about content marketing.

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Most of the time there is content marketing people don’t even realize that is advertisement. They are just fun, engaging items that bring the user to your site and you don’t even realize what they are doing.

Digital Marketing and just marketing in general is all about being the puppet master. We use different strategies like, inbound marketing, social media, database marketing,etc… to persuade users to come to our site and buy our products.  This has become a second nature to the users and they are so unaware how much everything has to do with marketing.

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The skill that marketers need to have is knowing how to relate and draw in all the different people. Personalization is a key factor  in drawing in all different types of users. Supplying different types of content on your blog or on your site allows for people to find something to their liking with your company.  This is why it is extremely important for marketers to not only be creative but to also have technical skills. By having technical skills marketers will be able to help the users even more and they will be faster about it. Research will go quicker and decisions can be made by the marketers with confidence, instead of having to trust what the IT guy is saying. Going through code academy was a great experience in this class and I am happy that I’ve made the decision to learn more and more about coding.

I could go on and on about what I learned in this class but I suggest that you read my past posts to hear more about what I have to say about digital marketing.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that it was interesting to see how many people of my friends would read my blog and  how many new followers I was able to obtain. Well for the last day of my blog I did a bit of an experiment. I’ve been using Klout for a while now  and I was interested in how many people were influenced by me to a point that they would do what I asked.  For two days I asked people to help me out and read my blog. I never expected the results I would get but I got over 728 views in one day.

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Throughout the quarter I had been pretty consistent with my blog. I gained more and more followers but would  only get roughly 20 views per post.  I would regularly post on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I would just tell people they should read the blog but there was no real incentive for them to do what I asked. The fact that in one day I was able to get 728 views, granted only roughly 60 visitors, shows that I do influence a large group of people as long as there is something in it for them. In this case it was helping out a classmate and I promised I would stop giving them a hard time about reading my blog.

This could be used in digital marketing also. Brands want their customers to want to help them out, for example in co-creation. The dream is to ask your customers to do something, doesn’t matter what it is, and they will do it without a second thought. Granted me asking them to read my blog was very simple and easy but just  think if I kept asking small favors from my followers and escalating the level of difficulty each time. If the user gets something out of the favor, whether it be physical or psychological, they will more likely want to help. I’m excited to keep writing this blog and see what I can make out of this.

For the end of this blog I would like to say that I learned a lot and I defiantly got a lot out of this class.

I became HootSuite Certified: untitled

I became Google Analytics Certified:GAIQ

I also wrote 14,775 words with an overall view of 1,315.

Thank you for continuously reading and walking with me through this process.

EdgeRank: Get More People To See Your Posts

Today we are going to talk about how to improve your performance on Facebook.  If you didn’t know all of your posts that you make on Facebook do not show up  in the News Feeds of every one of your fans. This news flash can come to a shock to many and even piss a few off. For example Mark Cuban (Dallas Maverick’s owner) or George Takei (Star Trek Star). Mark Cuban is very angry with Facebook because he doesn’t get publicity for free anymore. Businesses have to pay to reach the fans that have already liked their page. Below is the Tweet and screen shot that Mark Cuban shared out to his twitter fans when he realized he would have to pay $3,000 to reach a million fans.

mark cuban

I mean honestly I think Cuban is overreacting a bit. When I went about researching Cuban I noticed that he gets mad at a lot of people. Facebook just ticked him off at the wrong time but I don’t think he has a valid excuse to be angry. Facebook is a free source for the basic social media platform but they can’t be a charity and need to make money some how. Businesses pay for advertisements everywhere else so why shouldn’t they have to pay for it on Facebook. If branded pages were given free rein on Facebook to push as much advertisement as they wanted for free to every user, then the users are going to get fed up. We don’t use Facebook to get blasted with advertisements and I believe Facebook is just trying to protect the life of the site and the loyalty of their users.

Now your probably wondering how Facebook goes about choosing what is placed in people’s News Feed and what isn’t. Understanding this concept is going to help improve your Facebook performance. Facebook uses this algorithm that they call EdgeRank.

edgerank

You may read some articles that state it isn’t called EdgeRank and there are hundreds of new factors that affect whether your post is shown or not, but I am just going to give you the most important basics. If you would like to read more about the changes please follow this link: EdgeRank is Dead.

As you can see in the picture above, there are three very important factors that you should focus on.

Affinity: This is your relationship with users. The amount of users that have interacted with your page in the past affects how likely they are to see your posts. If they’ve clicked, liked, or even commented on your posts in the past, EdgeRank assumes that they are pretty interested in what you have to say, which gives it higher priority to show in that user’s News Feed.

Weight:  This is how much priority EdgeRank gives to your post, based on the post type. Facebook has a hierarchy of post types, which photos and videos take top priority. Links come in as a second priority and your plain text status are at the very bottom. Interactions with other users , like comments, are more weighty than likes.

Time Decay: This is how old your post is. The longer your post is on Facebook, the less likely it will show up in a user’s News Feed.  Your post is going to be more relevant to users who check Facebook constantly versus Facebook users who only check it once or twice a week because of this time decay aspect.

Now there are four things that EdgeRank checks every time you post and you should make sure to take this into consideration when trying to improve your Facebook performance.

User’s past interactions with the author

          The more you engage with a friend or a page, the more likely you are to see their posts.

User’s past interactions with that post type

If you often engage with a certain type of post you’re more likely to see posts of that type.

Reactions from users who already saw the post

The more Facebook users engage with a post, the more likely you are to see that post.

Amount of complaints or negative feedback

As more users give negative feedback, the less likely you are to see that post.

Now that you are aware of the basics I am going to talk about the 5 most important things you need to do to get into the News Feed of your users.

Post Regularly

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I have heard and read many conflicting data that states when the best day is to post on Facebook. This is honestly something you need to experiment and play with. Try Google Analytics to study your data. The picture above shows that the end of the week is best time, but once again it depends on your users and business. What I do know is that you should post regularly and mix it up. You want to make sure that your new posts are replacing the old posts.

Post photos

In this society people don’t like to read very much, or at least that is what I have noticed in my experience. Photos are self-explanatory and gain more engagement. Videos are also a great way to bring engagement in and are more interesting than text updates. Images tell a story and the best ones are the ones that people don’t have to wonder and question about.

Encourage Engagement

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Ask questions, create contests, have fill-in-the-blank statements. Do whatever you can do to gain the attention of your users and make them want to participate.  This will bump up your affinity score with the users and will give your future posts a higher chance of reaching their News Feeds.

Keep it clean

No profanity. Complaints about your Facebook posts will harm you way more than you think.  There have been many of times that I have unliked, even complained about a page because of profanity on their site. Make sure to watch for spam so that you can avoid negative feedback.

Focus on quality

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This is not what you want! Quality posts are the most important thing you can do to improve your Facebook performance. Make sure you are consistent as well because you are more likely to receive engagement that will push your posts into the News Feeds on a regular basis. People realize when you are not spending time on your posts and they will punish you for that.

Of course there are many others things you can do to improve your Facebook performance but if your boss asked you to improve your Facebook performance in one month, then focus on the five factors above and keep in mind the factors that EdgeRank looks for. This will help boost your performance and then you can begin focusing on other aspects.

Tools And Etiquette For Using Social Media Effectively

Social media is not just for  tweeting your thought of the day or updating your status about the “amazing” lunch you just had, which  you just had to take a photo of. It can  be used to further enhance your business and get your customers more involved in your company than you ever thought possible.

I have never been a “social media guru” and have usually attempted to stay off of the social media “bandwagon” because I never appreciated the value that it can bring to ones image. I was very wrong with this mindset because there are so many different things that can be done with the different platforms of social media and  every business can stand out in a crowd, if used correctly.

The different types of social media that  is out there can be a bit scary to comprehend when you first jump into the online world, but they all follow a similar etiquette when it comes to promoting your brand and gaining leads. Like I have been saying in my last few blogs, it is all about content.

Your content needs to be informative but humanized. Don’t worry about always selling your brand and your product. Give the customers something fun and interesting to read. There are many different tools out there that will help track what your customers are talking about and what they found particularly interesting that your company has shared with them.

Google analytics(http://www.google.com/analytics/) is a great tool that can be very handy when it comes to tracking your blog or your Google+. It is a free analytics tool that will help provide insight into your user’s behavior, the traffic that your page receives, and the behavior on your website. This tool will help you by providing useful data that will help you get to know how you can better serve  your customers.

Pinterest, I feel, is very unacknowledged for its promotional benefits and generation of leads. All a business has to do is pin a picture and link their website to the picture. If you pin it to the right board and promote it to the right audience than you generate many leads. One thing to keep in mind, when it comes to your audience, is the gender that the site is most likely to be used by. For example,  women are five times more likely to use Pinterest than men are, while men are supposedly  more likely to use Google+. By knowing this you can customize your sites to bring in the right type of audience. Pinterest has many tools that you can use to get the fullest advantage out of your boards; Curalate (http://www.curalate.com/) helps measure your pin and board engagement. It helps find advocates and generate traffic. This is a great tool to use because it can  find out what types of pins are becoming popular and what are not.  This tool can also be used for Instagram. Currently in beta testing for Pinterest is promoted pins. These pins work like any other pin,  but have a little icon in the right hand corner. This icon is clicked on by the user and they are given more information about the pin and the company that it came from. What I feel is great about this type of promotion is that it is not pushed into the customers face and the people clicking on it genuinely want to learn more about the product and business that it came from.

This leads me into the next etiquette rule that you should always follow on any social media site: Don’t be pushy. Update continuously but know when to promote and how much to promote. If you tweet all of your information at the exact same time then you are going to flood your customers feed. They are going to eventually get bored and then ignore what you are trying to say.

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There are many tools out there that will help you with the scheduling of your posts. For example, Buffer is a scheduler for LinkedIn. This tool lets you schedule your posts, while also giving you a basic click/reach analytics for all of your pages.  HootSuite ( https://hootsuite.com/) is also a great tool for scheduling your posts. This allows you to post to many different websites at the same time. You can choose to schedule your posts or have them decide when would be the prime time to post a status. Scheduling is extremely important  because you don’t want to post something on your page when no one is paying attention. A fellow blogger, Belle Cooper, and team member of Buffer wrote  a blog about the best time to tweet, post, email, and blog. http://blog.bufferapp.com/best-time-to-tweet-post-to-facebook-send-emails-publish-blogposts

In this blog she stated some interesting facts like, the engagement rate for Facebook is 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays and Twitter engagements for brands are 17% higher on weekends.  As you can see there is a bit of a trend here. More people are engaged near the end of the week, but that isn’t the case for blogs.  Mondays are the highest traffic days for an average blog. Not only should you focus on the day that you are posting but also on the time.  You want to post when there is the most users are one the site but at the same time you don’t want to be lost in the feed. Belle provides more information about the best times to post in the link I posted in the paragraph above.

One last very important rule of etiquette that you should always follow is: stay engaged. Don’t forget about the users and don’t ignore them either. If you allow for your users to comment on your pages then make sure you answer them back. I would answer back in 24 hours, if possible. You want to keep building and maintaining that relationship with the customer and make sure they know that you care about them and what they have to offer your company. If you leave a comment ignored that can result in the loss of a customer, but also make sure that when you do comment back you do it appropriately.

A bad example of responding to customer comments would be the very famous Applebee’s  incident.  Long story short a picture of a customer’s bill was posted on Reddit, making fun of the “10% tip for God” that was left instead of for the waitress. This picture went viral and Applebee’s responded by firing the waitress responsible, for violating the customer’s privacy. People were very angry and felt that Applebee’s was being hypocritical because they post positive feedback from customers on their page.  Negative opinions flooded Facebook and Twitter.  It didn’t get better from there because an Applebee’s employee decided at 2am to respond to the comments. Not only did they respond at that time but they made it a comment and not a Facebook status. They then being tagging people in their comments and ended up arguing with the customers.

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Applebee’s lost a lot of customers because of this incident and hopefully the employee who did this was fired. If they had responded at an appropriate time with an appropriate message and not have fought with the customers then they may have been able to salvage their image. This just goes to show that you need to make sure you are engaging with your customers in a well-mannered way and at an appropriate time. If you would like to read more about this incident and see some of the customer responses follow this link: http://rlstollar.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/applebees-overnight-social-media-meltdown-a-photo-essay/

There are of course more social media etiquette rules that you should follow but I highlighted the ones I felt were the most important to know. I would like to give a shout out to the people at MOZ. They just put out this very lovely beginners guide to social media, which is filled with techniques and tools you can use to further enhance your social media presence and your business.

http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media