Social Media Management
Our site has recently been updated with a number of videos on social media and in particular, the use of software designed to make managing your online social standing a little easier.
Which social network you choose to market on depends entirely on what your business does. A news site may choose twitter to garner interest in its new articles whereas a local takeaway might benefit more from Google+ and its ability to integrate with local listings on Google Maps. However, if you feel that you want to create an identity on multiple social networks, then you will need a way of quickly and easily posing content to each.
This is where social network managers such as HootSuite come to play, with a click of the mouse you can post to multiple accounts with ease and the customisable streams pane lets you keep up to date with your profiles at a glance. Twitter has by far the largest amount of compatible managers, perhaps due to its status as the social network for business, or simply due to the support for its API. If you do use a social network, it is worth checking these out, especially as some of them, such as SocialBro, provide basic functionality for free.
As well as using an external managing system, it is important to maintain an online status for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes, as a Facebook or Google+ page with a large amount of activity will be more likely to appear higher up in search results than an abandoned account. This is further enhanced if you set up Google Authorship on your main business website, syncing your Google page with your site. If you run a blog or news site, this is increasingly important because, as well as boosting your rank on Google searches, it has the added effect of placing a small image of the writer next to the description of the article, which statistics show results in a higher click through rate for your site. While Google+ is relatively new to the social network scene, the number of features it provides for both businesses and individuals makes it incredibly attractive so it is definitely not one to pass on lightly.
So if you’re using one of these applications and want some tips and tricks on how to use them, or if you were undecided and wanted to know how easy they are to use, take a look at the videos to see how quickly your social standing could be improved.
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The Internet is hugely important in today’s society, with almost everyone constantly connected, interacting through the cloud. As a result of the massive adoption of smartphones and mobile browsing, there need never a moment that the internet is unavailable. After the migration of consumers online, it was only a matter of time before business followed suite; for an unprecedented number of potential customers could be contacted personally, directly, with very little cost. Marketing departments across the world started to ask: How can we exploit this wealth of activity, this new marketplace that has appeared? That’s where online marketing comes in.
Combining advertising (AdWords) with the analytic side of things helps this even further, allowing you to identify the more successful landing pages and direct more traffic there. Alternatively, the reason behind the lower figures can be identified and remedied, improving the experience for potential customers and therefore your business.
John Wanamaker, an American merchant considered to be the founder of modern advertising, is attributed to have said: “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Using analytics tools, however, now we can know. The power and knowledge advertisers can access from cookies is staggering. Using software such as Google Analytics, it is possible to see every single person who clicked on your ad, which site they came from, what keywords they searched for, how long they spent on your page and even how many went on a page with your ad displaying and didn’t click on it. Using these tools, an advertising campaign can be adjusted on the fly, less successful tactics can be dropped, leaving only the popular and lucrative ones.
Analytics can also be applied to a social media presence just as easily. The recent rise in the popularity of social networking sites and the vast hoards of people that have flocked to them over the past few years has opened up a whole new audience for businesses to interact with at a very low cost. All social networking sites are free, and they allow businesses to connect with their clients on a far more personal level than has been seen before. However, when there are so many ways to market your brand, often it is very difficult to choose which ones to pick, which ones are relevant to your customers and business. In this case, it is far better to do initial analysis, rather than setting up a page on each popular social networking site. After all, the rising number of networks people use: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. has made it increasingly difficult to organise and sustain profiles on each.
HootSuite’s ow.ly links can only be tracked through HootSuite itself
Instead, discover which sites your targeted customers use most frequently, one that is more suitable to your brand (i.e. Twitter for News Site) to again ensure that you get the most return out of the least investment. After all, merely having a site on Facebook helps market your brand through community. Enter the social media manager. Software such as HootSuite, SocialBro and TweetAdder allow companies to manage their social presence quickly and easily, sometimes even automatically, and HootSuite itself has a range of inbuilt analytics for tracking your progress. However, this in turn has led to an increasing divide in analytics. HootSuite’s url shortened links cannot be tracked using Google analytics, or indeed any analytics other than HootSuite’s and SocialBro’s analytic capabilities are incompatible as well.
No matter how much has changed in the ways companies market themselves, it always has the same purpose: to increase awareness of your brand, attracting people who might otherwise have not known about your company, and make them aware of and want what you are offering. The range of options to market over the internet is continually growing and developing. It’s complex and it can be difficult to keep up, to find out what is the best use of your time and money in attracting new business. Fortunately the analytics available to measure your marketing activities on the web can help you to decide, and if used properly, also help you to succeed and get more business, rather than just spend more money on advertising.
There are several resources online about how to set up Google+ Authorship for blogs with multiple authors, but not much information about how to set up Google+ Authorship for blog posts with multiple authors.
It’s quite normal to co-write a blog article; just like news articles often has co-authors on longer pieces. Unfortunately Google doesn’t seem to have catered for this option when designing Google+ Authorship. As it is now, only one author can claim authorship of an article by linking it to their Google+ profile.
The question is though; will co-authorship be supported any time soon? Technically there shouldn’t be any big hindrance for Google to implement this. It’s reasonable to assume they might have to rewrite their AuthorRank algorithm so that co-written articles are weighted differently than a single author article.
Then of course they need to figure out how to display two, or more, authors in their search results – especially considering that the headshots are already quite small, so making them smaller is probably not a good solution.
My guess is that Google want to get Authorship to work properly before implementing options for co-authorship. The high number of “How to set up Google+ Authorship” posts online indicates that Authorship for single authors are complicated enough, let alone having the option of multiple authors of a post.
But what should you do with articles that are co-written? How do you deal with this in regards to your current Google+ Authorship setup? If you run a multiple author WordPress blog (requires a plugin), and you’ve connected all the authors with their Google+ profiles, you basically have two options.
The easy way is probably to create a user in WordPress and call it e.g. “co-authored”, and credit the authors at the top, or at the bottom, of the article. With this approach neither of the authors will improve their AuthorRank, and the article will be less prominent in search without any picture attached to it.
The more complicated option is to credit one of the authors “properly” through Google+ Authorship, and then mention the co-author(s) in the body, either at the top, or at the bottom, of the text. By doing it this way you make sure that the blog article gets all the SEO benefits of Authorship, and that AuthorRank points are given to one of the authors.
Note that the example above is for a WordPress multiple author blog where Google+ Authorship is verified via a reciprocal link back to the Authors Google+ profile, and that other measures need to be taken if you have set it up via email verification.
Considering the increasing importance of AuthorRank it’s likely that authors will go for the latter option. Not only does it benefit their own AuthorRank, but also the website they are creating content for. As long as Google don’t have a solution for attributing co-authors correctly through Google Authorship, then this is the way to do it.
A few weeks back we sat up and ran a test campaign on Bing Ads for one of our clients. The number of clicks we received, reported by Bing, was very good – even outperforming Google AdWords. However, to our surprise, only 20% of the clicks were recorded on Google Analytics. This led into a long and bumpy investigation, trying to find out the cause for this.
Our initial research found that ads on Bing’s “Content” network returned a very high number of extremely cheap clicks – which turned out to come from the US, although the campaign was correctly configures to target areas in the UK. We raised this issue with Bing Ads without getting a good answer. However, they were hinting that it might be because the ads were running on the Syndicated Search Partners network.
So, when we looked at the statistics from Google Analytics we found that only about 20% of the clicks from Bing were registered, despite the fact that every ad was properly tagged. Approximately 70% of these clicks/visits registered on Google Analytics were from Windows mobile devices. This prompted us to take a look at Bing Ads reports one more time, and we found that almost all the clicks came from a mobile app on the Syndicated Search Partners Network.
It is obvious that the clicks generated from this mobile app, most likely outside the targeted location, are fake or perhaps even fraudulent.
Many users have expressed their dismay with the Syndicated Search Partners network – often reporting very high Click Through Rates (CTR). Yet, Bing persist in having Syndicated Search Partners added to the “Ad Distribution” setting by default, as well as making it difficult to deactivate it by making the users having to change it on Ad Group level. However, for those who use Bing Ads editor (desktop version) there is an easy way of doing it.
If you have any Bing Ads campaigns running, or are planning to set up one, make sure that you closely monitor the clicks coming from Bing’s Syndicated Search Partners Network. Consider to create multiple campaigns in order to separate Bing and Yahoo! Search from Syndicated Search Partners, as well as creating different Ad Groups for the Search- and Content network.
As for why Google Analytics only recorded some of the clicks from Bing Ads, this is still unresolved, but it is fair to assume, in our case, that the clicks coming from Bing’s Syndicated Search Partners, are not genuine clicks.
Normally when an online marketer wants to add or update tags on a website, such as the Google Analytics tracking code, they have to liaise with a webmaster or developer in order to get it done. This is not optimal considering that marketers and webmasters usually do not share their work cycle, resulting in developers having to revisit earlier work, and marketers hurrying to get their campaigns tagged.
The Google Tag Manager aims solve this by consolidating all website tags with a single snippet of code, and then let users add and update tags through a web interface. This gives online marketers increased flexibility, and webmasters more time to focus on their work.
From a SEO perspective the Tag Manager is extra interesting since it can improve websites loading time, as well as decrease the chances of errors as the tags firing off. It even comes with error-prevention tools such as Preview Mode, so that users can see proposed changes before implementing them.
It is important to note however that there exists, and has for a while, products that offer more or less the exact same functionality, e.g. QuBit Opentag.
Overall the Tag Manager will ease the workload of webmasters, make it easier for online marketers to do their job and improve the overall site performance.
Twitter recently broke their more than two year old relationship with LinkedIn, which made it possible to automatically post tweets to your LinkedIn timeline. By adding the hashtags #in or #li, Twitter users could easily decide which tweets to be posted on LinkedIn.
Photo by Alex Bellink, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
But do not worry! There are alternative ways of getting the same functionality via 3rd party services.
Iftt.com, short for “if this then that”, is an online service that can replicate the lost functionality entirely. It is based on so called recipes, which lets you set up a series of rules and apply these to your social media networks.
The great thing about these recipes is that they can be shared, meaning that you do not need to create the rules yourself. Instead, all you have to do is to log into your ifttt.com account, choose the right recipe and then login to the relevant social media services.
Recipe 42957 is one of these. It will scan your tweets and post every tweet containing the has htag #in, to your LinkedIn timeline.
HootSuite, which is a social media management tool, offers a different solution. Instead of setting up automatic rules, it allows you to post to multiple social media networks at once. So for example; if you use HootSuite to post your tweets, you can with one simple click include your LinkedIn account, and the tweet will be posted on both accounts simultaneously.
The drawback with this is of course that you cannot use the native Twitter client, and instead you need to use the HootSuite web client or one of their applications for handheld devices.
If you are engaging on multiple social networks, HootSuite will let you monitor and engage on multiple social networks, all within the same interface, making it perhaps the best solution. However, if your main social media platform is Twitter, and you do not engage actively on other social networks, ifttt.com is perhaps your best pick.
In the early days of the Internet websites were virtually islands in an ever expanding ocean called the World Wide Web. Then the search engines came, making it easier to surf from one place to another. Today Social Media is almost like a second layer on top of all these islands, interconnecting websites, social networking sites and search engines into an increasingly complicated web of signals and relationships.
A more tangible example of this second layer is Social Media buttons. They record signals in form of Facebook likes, Twitter mentions and Google +1’s, and establish relationships between users, websites, businesses, brands etc
So how do Social Media buttons work? Are there different types of buttons?
Social media buttons on a website can roughly be divided into two different categories; Subscribe and Share. Confusingly these buttons often look very similar, and it can be hard for the untrained eye to spot the difference.
It is necessary that the visitor have an account with the social networking site they choose to click on, and if not already logged in, a log in pop up box will appear. Similarly the website, or the business behind it, need an account with the social networking site to be able to offer its website visitors a subscribe button, while with a share button this is not required.
When you see a ‘Like’, ‘Tweet’ or ‘+1’ on a website they normally allow the visitor to easily share the URL of the website. Technically it is possible to do this manually by for example cutting and pasting the URL into your preferred social network. However, it is possible to embed share buttons which keeps count of the number of shares and optionally let you display it, see image.
Alternatively there are services such as ShareThis and AddThis, which basically let you embed a share bar on your website containing a selection of social networking services such as Facebook, Tumblr and StumbleUpon to mention a few. Another great feature that these kinds of services offer is statistics, providing detailed information on how your shares are being spread.
However, the main purpose of having these social media share buttons visible on your website is to let your visitors easily share it with their friends, and effectively advertise your site.
Subscribe buttons can often be confusingly similar to share buttons. As an example the Facebook ‘Like’ button can either mean; you like the website and want to share it with your friends, or you like their Facebook business page and want to receive status updates from them in your stream.
There are effectively two ways of letting your visitor to subscribe to you or your business on social media. One way is to direct them to your social media page via a link or a button, whereupon they can decide to subscribe once inside your social media page. Or alternatively, embed a subscribe button directly on your website that allows your visitors to subscribe to your social media page without leaving your website – particularly useful for businesses preferring that their visitors stay on the website.
To embed subscribe buttons it is necessary to have presence on the respective social networking sites, and preferably maintain it by posting updates which will show up in the subscribers stream.
The bottom line
‘Likes’, ‘Mentions’, ’+1’s’ etc. are all about conversations between people and signals to the search engines. This is why social media is an integral part of establishing an online presence, and crucial for businesses to succeed these days.
On the 26th of May the grace period imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for compliance with new laws relating to cookies ended. This means websites are now more likely to face sanctions if they do not take steps to adhere to the new rules.
The law has not been well received by many site owners, and is in many cases appears to be ignored as yet. As one user on Twitter remarked sarcastically:
“These cookie popups on every single website are really improving web user experience. Thanks, e-Privacy Directive”.
It is also ironic that in order to accomodate the new directive, it is necessary to use more cookies!
For many smaller sites the risks of non-compliance may be small initially, but even some larger well known sites, have not apparently implemented the changes, whereas others appear to have made only minor changes which may not strictly satisfy the legal requirements.
Read more about the legal implications concerning the new law on cookies at Azrights.
However, for those that do want to comply, there are fairly simple low cost solutions, such as the one we have used on this site. Contact us if you want more details.
Social Media Management
Staying afloat on the rapid developments in social media is not easy for any individual these days. New social networking sites, such as Pinterest and Google+, gain millions of users in record time, making Facebook look pale in comparison.
For a big and heavy business it’s an even more daunting challenge to ride the waves of social Networking Sites, and this is where management tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck and Social Oomph comes in.
Being visible online is essential for any business, and over the last few years social media presence is becoming increasingly important when it comes to competing for customers and clients. What many businesses get wrong though is that they think social media is a marketing tool for sales, which it’s not; it is a tool of communication.
HootSuite is a very sophisticated tool for both monitoring and managing your social media communication. Its best feature, if you look at it from managing a business point of view, is the opportunity to create teams and assign tasks. This effectively means that you can incorporate your entire operation into communicating with customers and clients via social media, and thereby gain a synergy effect compared to having one “social media guy” in charge of all social media communication.
Tweetdeck is a similar service to HootSuite when it comes to core features such as arranging feeds, scheduling and monitoring, but does not offer the same level of team cooperation and is therefore not equally convenient for businesses. On the other hand TweetDeck is a free service, while HootSuite have a paid pro version with more features.
Social Oomph is currently HootSuite’s strongest competitor for the professional market. Their main difference at this point is that HootSuite is more customizable, with better collaboration tools, while Social Oomph offer more advanced scheduling features.
A main issue for a business to engage in social media is time. Social media management tools however allow automating various aspects of posting, including replying to posts. One feature that saves a lot of time, especially for businesses that blogs frequently; is the possibility to generate automatic updates for e.g. Twitter and Facebook, based on the RSS feed. The only problem, as of yet, is that pictures are not drawn from the blog and posted on services such as Facebook or LinkedIn which offer this option. This is currently an algorithmic issue where the challenge is to make sure that the right image from the blog post is used, and it also illustrates that there is plenty of space for improvement.
Anyhow, social media management tools are essential for any business to manage their presence online, and at the same time it emphasizes how difficult and intricate it is to implement a social media strategy that focus on communication instead of sales. On a medium where people speak to people, and not seller to people, a business greatest asset is its employees. Management tools like HootSuite, TweetDeck and Social Oomph are absolutely essential for any business setting up a social media strategy.
Keywords and Search Terms
Many businesses that have poured time and money into creating a website assume it’s a case of launching and letting the floodgates open.
Build it and they will come, right?
Wrong. Just like in your core day to day business, success depends on identifying your target demographic, and purposely catering to that audience.
If you start up a website for your mechanic business in Ealing, ‘The Internet’ is not your audience – your audience is car owners in West London who use the Internet.
Before any new online business even contemplates a website, they should invest at least several weeks into researching their target demographic.
How are your competitor’s visitors finding their site? What search terms are they using?
Only when you understand exactly who your target market is and establish what that target market wants can you provide a valued service.
You wouldn’t invest in a new shopfront without investigating local demographics, potential foot traffic, and competing businesses in the area.
The digital marketplace is no different.
Keyword research involves discovering which popular keywords and phrases users frequently search when trying to find the product or service your company offers.
If you’re a mechanic in Ealing, do your potential customers search “MOT Ealing”, “mechanic West London” or “Ealing car service”? Knowing which terms are most used will help you when wording the content of your site.
One way to test for keywords is to use Pay Per Click, by purchasing placements on search engines for select key words. So for a select period you would buy listings under “Mot Ealing” / “mechanic West London” and compare which keywords bring your more visitors.
How do Keywords work?
Search engines such as Google crawl through the web looking at all the sites, and then index parts of these sites on their database.
Their sophisticated algorithms draw comparisons between the text a user is searching for, and the content of your web page as indexed on their database. If a page contains the exact phrase used in a search query the site is likely to rank highly in the results.
When a user searches for “green eggs and ham,” a web page with that precise text “green eggs and ham” ranks higher than a page containing “lime-coloured hen spawn & pig parts”. Both mean the same thing, but one is more precise and closer to the actual search term used by the user.
Single keywords are not desirable, as they are too general and broad, whereas 2-4 keyword phrases will be more focused and less competitive. If your keyword is ‘mechanic’, then your Ealing business is competing with every single mechanic website on the Internet. But if you aim to attract users searching for ‘Ealing mechanic services’, you are only competing against other Ealing mechanic businesses…and if you know enough to use keywords you’re probably already ahead of your competitors!
How do I find the relevant keywords for my company?
One method of finding keywords is to brainstorm with people understanding your business, and work out the phrases people might use when searching for your products and services.
Think; If my company is providing the answers, what are the questions?
Another way is to look at your own and competitors sales and marketing literature, both online and offline. The phrases most commonly used to describe your products and services will be strong candidates for keyword selection.
There are also a number of software tools on the web which help you find sets of keywords, including WordTracker and Google Keyword Tool.
Use the power of the Super Niche!
Cheap, global Internet access and free content management systems such as WordPress have made the web a far more accessible environment than it was a decade ago, but also a far more competitive one.
For example, a blogger who wants to develop a film review site and make money by selling DVD’s through an affiliate program is simply not going to be able to compete with the established movie sites.
You don’t start selling hamburgers out of a fast food van and expect to take on McDonalds.
But by narrowing the website’s content to just ‘movies of the silent era,’ the site might find a niche not catered for by the big established sites. You can even drill down further to create a super niche, such as a website (or section of a site) devoted to silent British cinema pre-1910, or the films of Buster Keaton.
If you’re running a generic ‘movie review’ website, you might pick up some stray traffic here and there. But if you’re one of only a handful of sites catering to a super niche topic, you will likely attract a small but highly devoted following.
Think of a super niche as addressing a very specific customer, one who is more likely to return to your site or online store than a casual visitor that stumbled upon it.
A regular customer is worth more than dozen one-time customers, especially when you’re operating on a limited budget. Instead of having to actively try and create new customers – one of the most difficult tasks in marketing – you can focus on keeping your existing loyal customers happy.
A loyal fanbase is good business, online and offline.