Could Twitter Have Predicted Brexit (Better Than the Polls)?

The Brexit asteroid hit us on Thursday, June 23, and there’s still plenty of dust settling in social media and global news. Did the referendum confirm our assumptions of how we consume media? Leading up to the vote, was Twitter aflame with UK youth, while the grownups gossiped over the daily paper?

That’s probably what my mother would assume if she ever logged into Twitter and saw the abyss of tweeny chatter, spoken in memes and animated GIFs (and poor spelling). But just as Twitter has shown to be a switchboard for dialing into the latest pop culture zeitgeist, it’s also a solid barometer of public opinion on divisive issues.

Polling data from UK think tank YouGov showed that 60% of voters aged 50 and up were pro-Brexit and 71% of UK millennials (aged 18-24) voted to remain in the EU:

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Given the above numbers and the common assumption that:
A) Twitter is for Beliebers and Kanye’s latest monologue
B) The #VoteRemain millennial voice would dominate social media

We’d be in for a shock:

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We searched Twitter for mentions of Brexit and each hashtag, taken from January 1, 2016 through June 27, 2016. The Twitter vote was 87% in favor of #VoteLeave.

The tweet we posted the day after the referendum results—capturing Twitter activity only for the day of the vote—showed a majority Leave vote. But when we expanded this search to January 2016, we found the #VoteLeave crowd to have been chanting loud and clear all year long.

(Maybe Mum and Dad tweet after all.)

Next we benchmarked Boris Johnson, the former London mayor and Brexit proponent against the Labour Party’s rising star, Angela Eagle, using them as stand-ins of the positions they and their parties represent, #Leave and #Remain, respectively. Again, Johnson was a clear winner on Twitter.

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We searched Twitter posts mentioning each politician and “Brexit” since January 1, 2016

With far-reaching implications of a true Brexit, the financial speculation alone has kept news outlets buzzing the world over since the beginning of the year. On what side were readers of traditional news? To find out, we looked at the heated debates playing out in the comments sections of articles on the referendum.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 3.38.34 PM.pngIn this metric, “negative” translates to siding with the Remain crowd, or in other words, having a negative opinion of Brexit.

Online readers of traditional news sided with the more liberal stance of staying within the EU, again challenging typical demographic associations. For PR and marketing pros, Brexit can be seen as a reminder to stay on your toes and check assumption about your target audience, where they spend their time, and the messages they are amplifying. In the face of historic moments like Brexit, we have to use as many tools at our disposal to ensure our visibility is more than just a few feet ahead of us.

On a final note, Brexit is far from over. Just in the last three weeks, before and after the vote, we’ve recorded over a million mentions, comprised of worldwide news, from small-town papers to national outlets, from Greenland (3 mentions) to Mongolia (26 mentions) and the UK (155,018 mentions) to the U.S. (245,692 mentions).

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World-wide media monitoring results for Brexit coverage in the news since January 2016.

 

ROI of Social Media: Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When I started reading up about social ROI, I found it so confusing, I wondered how other business owners were managing to understand it.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do great with numbers or formulae. But in the process of creating their guides on ROI for social media, I found that most experts had substituted simplicity and comprehension for thoroughness and over-complication.

That was when I decided to make sense of this topic for you and me. In this article, I simplify the steps to measuring your social media ROI.

Why Social Media ROI Matters

As Lewis Carroll (and later, George Harrison) so famously stated, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” If you’re running a social media campaign without taking the time to assess if you’re getting the results you want to achieve, then you really don’t know where you’re going.

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Social ROI matters because it tells you where you are, where you want to go and where you should be heading if you want your marketing campaign to work. Otherwise you might as well be chucking all that time, effort and money down a very deep well.

If your business has been trying to make sense of calculating the ROI of social media, here’s where you should start.

1. Decide where you want to go

The first step towards calculating the ROI on social media is to decide where you want to go. What are your goals and business objectives?

What do you want to ultimately achieve through your social media campaign? For instance, you can choose to focus on one or more of the following goals.

  • Getting more blog and website traffic
  • Getting more leads and calls
  • Getting more branding, reach and visibility online
  • Getting a reputation as an expert (thought-leadership)
  • Getting more sales and conversions

2. Plan your campaign

The social media campaign that you decide to run will ultimately depend on your goals. For example, if you decide to go after leads, you will have to create a lead magnet – an incentive for which your prospects will share their email address or phone number with you.

In this case, you could run a Twitter card campaign or a Facebook ad campaign to generate leads from these two channels immediately, while creating a blog as a long-term campaign to generate leads from organic traffic.

If you decide to go after sales on your ecommerce website, Facebook carousel ads might be the best option for short-term sales and app downloads a more long term plan to deliver content right to the buyer’s mobile devices.

You need to customise your social media campaign and creatives depending on what results you ultimately want to achieve. You also need to decide which channel you want to run a campaign on based on your audience demographics.

For instance, images will do best on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. But if your demographic is largely a B2B audience that is active on LinkedIn and Slideshare, you will have to rethink your creatives and campaign.

3. Track everything

The wonderful thing about online marketing is that you can track almost everything. From the content that works best on social media to the path your visitors’ take through your website, to the signups, leads, sales and follow-up, everything can be tracked, monitored and customised to optimise the customer experience.

Website Traffic Tracking

If you’re using a CRM like Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Software, you can customise and track your entire visitor experience. It can quickly help you create campaigns and track which ones are working and which aren’t so that you can put your time, effort and money into the campaigns that are getting the results you want.

No more do you have to wander blindly around the social media landscape, wondering which posts are working best, or use the “Post and Pray” method of sharing content.

A good marketing CRM will give you analytics on how many clicks and conversions a certain post is getting you, so you can tweak your copy and creatives. Get familiar with tools like Google Analytics, Facebook conversion tracking and strategies like A/B testing to refine your campaign further.

4. Decide the value of a lead or sale

What does the ROI of social media mean to you? Calculating ROI is ultimately about calculating the cost of a lead or sale and deciding if your marketing expenses were worth it. Only you can decide whether the ROI in social media campaigns was worth it to you.

There are a lot of social media tools, methodologies and complicated formulae to calculate social media ROI, but the only one that actually makes sense is to ask yourself whether it was it was worth spending $6.94 on a Facebook ad to gain a lead that went on to convert to hundreds of dollars worth of sales on your website.

It’s up to you, as the business owner, to decide what campaigns make sense to spend on and what you can pass on. When calculating ROI, don’t forget to factor in the cost of your social media marketing agency or, if you’re doing it in-house, the salaries, time, expense and effort it takes to go from point A to point B.

5. Set a course for success

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Once you have calculated your ROI, it’s time to analyse your results, assess if they are taking you where you want to go and tweak and fine-tune your campaigns to take you on a trajectory to social media success.

 

This article was written by Priya Florence Shah from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


How to Measure the Quality of Your Website Traffic

Quality traffic is an outcome of providing the right content and experience for your visitor. It is only with clearly defined business and marketing goals that you can measure the quality of your traffic. Traffic, leads generated, interactions, and sales are a few ways companies measure the success of their website.

By defining what success looks like for your website you can then identify which signals are most important for reaching your goals.

Once your goals are defined, here are 5 signals that can help you measure the quality of your website traffic.

1. Lead conversion rate:

Marketers focused on driving qualified leads for their sales team should watch their visitor to lead conversion rate like a hawk. As you publish more persona-aligned content offers and call-to-action buttons on your website, you can expect to see this conversion rate improve. There is a whole field of science around conversion rate optimisation. Here are some additional resources to help you improve the lead generation efficiency of your website.

2. Geography

Brick and mortar or service-area businesses should pay attention to the % of traffic that is visiting from the area they serve. Your website isn’t going to help you drive qualified local customers if you’re only driving in website visitors on the other side of the country. You can run a geo-based report in Google analytics of all traffic visiting your website and you can also run a contacts report in HubSpot based in IP address.

3. Engagement on site:

How long are people staying on your website? What are they clicking on to do their research? You can learn a lot using Google Analytics to see a click-path of how the visitor moves from page to page. Heat mapping software, like Crazy Egg, can show you exactly where they are clicking on within each page of your site.

4. Form submissions:

Once you have forms on your website you’ll start to gather more names and emails that you or your sales team can follow up with. Your form should contain questions that allow you to identify the persona of the lead on your website. As you start to build new leads, measure how many of these leads fit the criteria of your persona(s) based on the form information.

5. Bounce rate:

Bounce rate measures the number of people who come to your site and immediately leave. In most cases, visitors who come to your site and leave immediately do so because the experience on your website doesn’t meet their needs.

On the other hand, sometimes bounce rates are high when people are coming to your site to find out a single piece of information.. Bounce rates from organic search traffic are typically high on recipe and ecommerce product pages. This shows that people are looking at your price, model number, ingredient or another spec then immediately leave.

What are some of the metrics you use to measure the quality of your website traffic?

 

This article was written by Paul Schmidt from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


4 PR Tips to Demystify Influencer Outreach

Trust + Reach = Influence

Influencers have earned their audience’s loyalty. Their communities consider them trusted authorities. And PR pros have caught on to the fact that they provide a great conduit for their messages. According to a recent article in Inc., influencer marketing delivers 11x ROI over all other forms of digital media. So, if you’re trying to increase engagement, reaching out to a few key influencers (whether paid or unpaid) to help you spread the word is a smart strategy.

The first step in finding the right influencers is to make sure you understand the audience you are ultimately trying to reach. For example, if you have a demographic that is primarily on Instagram, they won’t be swayed by an article in Slate. For one, they might never see it. And even if they do, it’s not where they connect with their community. The first step in finding the right influencer is to go where your audience is. Once you’re there, look for signs of two-way engagement, including compelling content and followers who re-share it.

Influencers include journalists, analysts, social celebrities, bloggers, and spokespeople. The lines are increasingly getting blurred between all of these categories. Journalists expand their reach on social, while social media personalities find themselves being taken more and more seriously by traditional media. But for the sake of simplicity, we explain how to assess trust and reach in two categories::

Journalists—They are trusted based on how respected their publication is, as well as for their individual work. Often, their reach is dependent entirely on the publication. For example, an NY Times staff journalist has substantial reach (based on subscriptions and pass-thru) and is presumably well respected. Otherwise, he/she would not be writing for the NY Times. Influence is, therefore, based on the credentials of the publication.

Social Influencer—Online influencers don’t have the reputations of their publications to rely on. They are trusted based on the quality of their content and the enthusiasm with which their readers back them up and amplify their message. Their reach is determined by a network, usually made up of well-trafficked social media platforms or owned media channels, such as blogs.

So, how does a PR pro decide which influencer is more important? That answer depends on your brand’s goals, your company, product, or campaign.

Keep These in Mind When Strategizing for Influence Marketing

  1. Research, research, research. If you’re reaching out to journalists, look beyond their prescribed “beat.” Instead, see what type of stories they’ve written over the last six months to a year, an arts and culture writer might cover science and technology when discussing their impact on artists; a business writer might cover the field of architecture and design when discussing their role in driving economic change. Access a journalist database to begin your research and use that knowledge to consider how you’d craft a pitch. On social channels, you’ll also want to search for keywords and see who’s posting on those topics and generating engagement. Publications and organizations also have social accounts, so you’ll want to find ones related to you and see who is active on their channels.
  2. Know your platform. Look at how engagement happens on the media platform where you want to promote your brand or grow your following. Ask yourself, are you looking for comments on Instagram? For your hashtag to trend on Twitter? Click-thrus to your site? Make sure you know how you’d like the community to engage, before you contact prospective influencers. By focusing in on specific behavior, you’ll more easily see how a given influencer could be effective at provoking the response you’re looking for.
  3. Know your intended audience. Make sure you know the audience you’re hoping to influence. Don’t approach an influencer without knowing the same information that they possess about the demographic of the community. Sketch a persona of a community member whom you’re hoping to promote to: How old are they? Where do they generally live? What are their buying and engagement habits? Drill down as deep as possible to their wants, so that you know why your brand aligns with their community and can provide an influencer with guidance and clear targets.
  4. Craft relevant and original pitches. When approaching influencers, you may be tempted to save yourself time by sending out a form letter to both bloggers and journalists, alike. Don’t put the onus on them for how they might want to cover your brand or topic. Make sure you understand how you’d like to work with each influencer and craft a pitch that makes sense for them and their community. In the current information saturated landscape, a PR pitch that is relevant shows the influencer that you understand their position in a community and it will have a bigger chance of convincing them.

By considering these tips when researching influencers for your campaign, your outreach will be both more relevant and much more diverse. The playing field of the influencer is messy and includes the classically trained journalists, citizen journalists, online influencers, and everything in between. So, before you dive in, think about how to research and approach influencers for maximum success–for both your brand and the community.

Read about fine tuning your PR and marketing messages to win over influencers and better engage your audience in our Jeff Bullas penned ebook, 11 Lessons that PR Professionals Need to Learn in a Digital World.

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*The concepts in this article are based on a previous article published on this site in December 2013 by Marc Cowlin.

 

5 Quick Tips for Social Video

Creating video content for use on your social media channels is not only a great way to stand out, but is quickly becoming an essential part of any social media content strategy.

With social networks such as Facebook prioritising video content in the feed, and investing heavily in new video tools and tech, including video into your social content strategy is quickly becoming a ‘must have’. Getting started doesn’t need to be hard, but it can be tricky to sort out where to start.

To help get you started, here’s 5 Quick Tips to keep in mind!

1. Keep it Short & Sweet

It can be tempting to create an epic, feature length, video dissertation on the topic of your choosing. However, the average attention span has dropped dramatically in recent years. Unless your content is incredibly compelling and to the point, you’re not going to be able to hold the attention of most social media visitors for more than a few minutes.

In addition, you need to make the first few seconds count! If you’re not showing something interesting in the first few seconds of your video, you’ve already lost most of your audience. So make the most of it: Use those first few seconds to your advantage and show something great that will ensure your audience sticks around!

2. Always Add Great Description Text

Don’t skimp on writing and revising your accompanying description text, be it YouTube ‘Show More’ text, an accompanying Facebook post, or even a quick Tweet. You have a golden opportunity to capture the attention a larger audience, make sure to make the most of it.

This is particularly important if your thumbnail doesn’t clearly communicate what your content is at a glance. People want to know why they should be interested before they spend time looking at your content. Give them a quick idea of what to expect, and encourage them to watch through the accompanying text!

3. Consider the ‘No Sound’ Experience

A substantial portion of all social media traffic now occurs on mobile devices. As of 2013, Statista reports that more than 65% of social networking traffic now occurs on mobile devices. In addition, Cisco reports that mobile video traffic has exceeded 55% of total mobile data traffic as of 2014.

As mobile usage often occurs in public areas, many users now have their sound off by default. When you’re editing your video for social media, it’s important to consider the ‘no sound’ experience.

Ask yourself:

  • Does your video still make sense?
  • Does it capture interest without relevant audio cues?
  • Are there ways to communicate the same information that do not rely on audio?
  • Are subtitles or other on-screen visual cues as possibility?

4. Upload Natively If Possible

As the race for social video content domination kicks into high gear, it has become increasingly important to upload your video natively whenever possible. This means that instead of uploading to one site and then sharing across your various social channels, that you should upload the video directly to each of the networks.

You may have noticed that when you post a link on Facebook to a video that’s located on YouTube, it no longer displays in the larger inline video view that it once did.

Example YouTube post:

Native Facebook Video:

Likewise with links to YouTube from Twitter. As individual social networks attempt to gain more of the video market, they are less likely to support and surface video content which is hosted on a competing platform. This can be frustrating as it involves a bit of extra work, but by uploading the video to each platform individually, you increase your chances of your content being seen, viewed, and shared by the users on that platform.

5. Include a Clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

It’s important to remember while content for content’s sake is fun, without interaction and action from the part of the viewer it can be seen as an ineffective and costly exercise. Before creating any content, it’s important to understand:

  • What does the viewer get out of this content?
  • What action do I want the viewer to do as a result?
  • What do I want to get out of this as an individual / business / organisation?

From there, it’s should be fairly straight-forward to create a clear call to action. Want more subscribers? Make sure to ask viewers to click subscribe at the end of every video. Want more suggestions on what your viewers would like you to cover in future videos? Ask them to post a comment! Simply asking for what you want can go a long way towards encouraging more social interaction and subsequent growth!

Example CTAs:

  • ‘Click subscribe to be notified when we release a new video!’
  • ‘Like what you saw? Drop us a line on _twitter account_ and let us know what you think!’
  • ‘Which topic should we cover in our next video? Post your suggestions in the comments!’

Bonus

If you’re creating video content for Facebook and intend to pay to promote it, ensure that your thumbnail includes no more than 20% text. Note: This includes Logos and UI.

Facebook will remove boosting from any sponsored post that displays more than 20% text in the accompanying asset. It can be incredibly frustrating to create the perfect video, set it up for boosting, then have it switched off because you forgot the ‘no more than 20% text rule’ and had a huge logo in the middle of the thumbnail.

If you’ve got any questions, or picked up your own tips along the way, please share them in the comments below. And remember – have fun!

 

This article was written by Tara Brannigan from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

12 PR Blogs Your Competitors Are Reading (And 3 They Don’t Yet Know About)

We barely have time to tailor every one of our PR messages by channel and approach influencers with customized pitches. How are we supposed to keep up on the best work being done by colleagues and competitors? For this, we turn to PR blogs to read about successful campaigns and find out about the latest best practices. In putting together this list, we included those run by big media properties like AdWeek and small niche blogs, like PR Couture, but they all have a few things in common: actionable insights, sharp writing, and examples that apply to the entire industry. With that in mind, here are the PR blogs we read on the regular and why we think they’re good reads. Sites are listed in order of Twitter reach.

Adweek, Galley Cat
An Adweek blog, Galley Cat, spends most of its time on the publishing and book-selling business, but also covers film previews and reviews, available positions, and courses to improve industry-specific PR skills. This blog frequently updates (multiple times per day) with short posts of 175-words or so covering a breadth of media topics. @GalleyCat followers: 277k

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The Skimm
Straightforward, factual, short blurbs about a wide-range of topics, such as timely takes on events like last night’s NBA finals and insights into commonly used acronyms in social media or the relevancy of the Panama Papers. Think of it as the Cliff Notes of important stuff happening in the world right now. @theskimm followers: 145k

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Ragan’s PR Daily
More than a blog, Ragan’s PR Daily is a public relations industry hub with everything needed to run a modern day PR shop. Content runs the gamut of how-tos, videos, ebooks, career development, and think piece articles by PR pros and personalities, such as Gary Vaynerchuk. Ragan also has various writing summits, webinars, and industry awards. @PRDaily followers: 97.2k

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PRSay
PRSay—The Voice of Public Relations is the blog of the largest organization of public relations professionals. It covers current issues, PR relevant topics, and proven strategies for the public relations industry. PRSay’s goal is to provide resources and professional development to those who are looking to succeed in the industry. It’s the go-to for anyone looking for a proven path to PR success. We like PRSay so much we’re sponsoring their international conference in October. @prsa followers: 94.1k

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L2inc covers the PR industry with an emphasis on brands and how they’re competing in the market. The site shines when it compares campaigns, assessing successes and failures through the lens of data analytics. A sassy editorial tone with well-researched reporting makes it a must-read and a fun read. @l2_digital followers: 69.5k

Adweek, PR Newser
PR Newser covers the inner workings of the public relations industry from headline stories to public relations fails. Bills itself as a no-holds-barred, fluff-free take on the state of the industry. Does a good job of covering PR in the digital space, the international arena, and in political communications. @PRNewser followers: 47.8k

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PR Couture
PR Couture is a fashion industry hub, or as they say, “haute spot,” for publicists, marketers, designers and brands. Not for the PR student, it aims to keep those already in the know up-to-date in the fashion industry. Packed with well-penned articles by fashion industry PR, there are career and how-to resources, as well as information about associated activities like digital marketing and social media and interviews with experts in the field. Beyond the blog’s resources, there’s an email newsletter that comes out every Friday. @prcouture  followers: 44.7k

Media Village
Media Village, like Adweek, is a group of blogs that cover the media landscape. We read it for the Stuart Elliott Report. Ostensibly a weekly column, the former NY Times tech and media editor writes with a conspiratorial air on the state of the publicity, advertising, and marketing industry. Weaving a weekly narrative that both name checks and gut checks—readers are left feeling like they got an insider tip from a verified source. @stuartenyt followers: 38.3k and @MediaVillageCom followers: 6679

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The Holmes Report
Trends, news, industry reports, podcasts, videos, long form articles. Acts as a resource hub of for those working in the trenches of PR. The Holmes Report’s newly redesigned Agency Playbook (formerly the Agency Directory) is the PR industry’s most comprehensive listing of firms from every region and specialty. As a resource, the Agency Playbook enables collaboration and research into PR verticals. @holmesreport followers: 19.1k

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Spin Sucks
Spin Sucks is for an audience of both PR students and professionals. The majority of posts are penned by Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. There are also posts from guest bloggers, who share perspectives on topics such as using hashtags, SnapChat, or competition within the PR space. Spin Sucks wins awards due to fun sections like Gin and Topics with the weekly meme-able videos from around the Internet; and the Spin Sucks Inquisition, which interviews marketing and PR professionals from across the industry. @SpinSucks followers: 16.7k

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Bull Dog Reporter
Billing itself as a hub for PR, Views, News, and Resources, the Bull Dog Reporter has posts by Industry folks, edited press releases, profiles of PR peeps and winning campaigns, industry reports, and webinars. The content is vetted and is a useful resource for all-in-one PR 101. @BulldogReporter followers: 12.9k

PR Conversations
Bimonthly updated blog-style PR discussions, edited and written by industry vets: Judy Gombita, Markus Pirchner, and Heather Yaxley. Posts vary widely with some very casual in tone (mostly from outside contributors)—think the LiveJournal of PR musings—to clean and crisp insights into the issues that surface through the course of publicity work. Personable and deep insights keep other PR pros coming back again and again. @prconversations followers: 4793

For an Extra Edge, Take a Look at These Too

Dorie Clark
Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, and Forbes. She has improved the digital IQ of several influencers across the globe, including execs at Google, the World Bank, Microsoft, and many politicos. She wrote the book about the people behind the brands they impact in Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. Blog updates offer brilliant tidbits about the most effective strategies for developing a marketing voice as a thought leader in your industry and maybe, even, the world. @dorieclark followers: 32k

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Stratechery
Ben Thompson spent his career developing public awareness and branding strategies for Apple, Microsoft, and Automattic. Reading his insights feels like you’re getting VIP information. His Stratechery site operates on a unique “freemium” subscription plan, but the jam-packed analytical posts and daily newsletter will make you the smartest person at happy hour. (Yes, you have to pay for some of the exploratory content, so know that going in.) Check out his Hype Cycle about why TV advertising may suffer the fate of the dead cat bounce (even a dead animal—or medium—will bounce at least once if it falls from a great enough height). @stratechery followers: 23.3k

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Influence and Co.
Influence and Co. is full of quick, slick reads of real-world PR problems (and solutions) and trend reports on high-concept marketing tactics that seem hypothetical in their execution. As a bonus, post titles are poetic magic that gets the PR careerist clicking; past titles include Three Simple Ways to Sound Brand Your Podcast and Hook, Line, and Sinker: Why PR Needs Content Marketing for a Complete Sell. In short, Influence and Co. creates content that matters, then aggressively engages, and cultivates new audiences to spread that content. @InfluenceandCo followers: 14.9k

If you’re wondering what stellar podcasts we’re listening to and what blogs help us write, we’ve got you’ve covered.

What You Need to Know About Fake Followers

One of the most asked questions in social media is: “How can I grow my following?”

Don’t listen to those who say that it does not matter. While the quality of your followers is most important, if you have no followers, you are talking to yourself.

So What About Buying Followers?

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A common assumption is that a large following reflects the relevance of a Twitter account (and by proxy its owner). True, Obama and the Pope are relevant and have lots of followers. But also ‘false’, if your followers are mainly robots and people outside your target audience.

Use Case

I once worked with a client who had tens of thousand of followers and when I analysed the account with TwitterAudit.com, it turned out that 97% were “likely to be fake”. She looked popular on Twitter but in reality, few were listening.

Let’s Take a Step Back

I recently got this question in an email from a client:

Can you explain what a fake follower is and why they are allowed?

The Facts

In the November 2013 WSJ article Inside a Twitter Robot Factory, Jeff Elder describes how he bought 1,000 new followers for $80 from a “vendor” who had been in the business for six years and manages 10,000 robots for about 50 clients to make them look more popular. The article infers that these false accounts -run by robots (or bots) – even affect trends on Twitter.

From the horses mouth:

In their 2013 securities filings, Twitter says that fake accounts represent fewer than 5% of its 230 million active users.

Independent researchers believe the number to be higher:

According to a New York Times report from 2013, 4% or 20 million Twitter accounts were fake accounts. This number is corroborated by an Italian research firm that claims to have found 20 million fake accounts, as well as “software for sale that allows spammers to create unlimited fake accounts.”

So Why Does Twitter Allow Fake Followers?

They Don’t.

Fraud Alert

It’s like saying why are hackers allowed to infiltrate government networks? Or why are people allowed to rob banks. The challenge is how to stop them.

‘Fake Followers’ are against Twitter policy and the company has actively tried to stem the flood. But unlike Facebook, Twitter allows users to set up as many accounts as they like.

(As a side note: here a report from 2012 by NPR that sheds light on Facebook’s dilemma and approach: For $104, This Guy Will Sell You 1,000 Facebook ‘Likes.)

How Can You Weed Out Fake Followers?

For my clients, I try to review all new Twitter followers to block or report those that are fake or spam accounts. I would say that at least every 20th account that tries to follow is openly a spam account.
How can I tell?

  • On Twitter, many fake/spam accounts have pictures of pretty girls (often showing a lot of skin) and handle names like @XYZMPX.
  • Some fake accounts tweet mostly URLs or completely random and useless content (I know, some real people do that too).
  • Then there are fake accounts that look legit but once you’ve followed them will send you a direct tweet that offers you to buy followers.

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LUCKILY, there are a few tools that can help you figure out how many fake followers you have (for free) and some even offer to help you clean them up (for a fee).

I have never automated my “fake follower” removal, as I have never seen any “unfollow” tool that did not suggest to me to unfollow people I cared to keep in my feed. A close friend or client might rarely tweet but when they do, it matters to me.

Here two tools as an example (Google for more):

  1. Status People: Fake Follower Check.
  2. TwitterAudit: Quick & easy. How accurate? I can’t say.

Why Don’t We Hear Much About Fake Followers?

PHishing

There’s not been a lot of press coverage on the ‘fake follower’ topic lately, probably because the onus has moved on to related topics like security (account impersonation, account take over, phishing, scams etc.) as well as harassment and abuse. For example:

But that’s a topic for a whole other blog (or two).

Please share any experience you have with identifying and getting rid of fake followers!

 

This article was written by Natascha Thomson from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


How to Succeed in the Crowded Content Marketing Competition – and Prove It with Media Measurement

Research shows that content marketing holds advantages over online advertising. Consumers prefer to discover digital content on their own and are skeptical of brands pushing disruptive online advertising. Millennials are especially mistrusting of interruptive online ads.

A survey of over 1,000 consumers by Rapt Media reveals that:

  • 95% take action to avoid seeing or receiving online ads
  • 5% say ads influence their purchase decisions
  • 57% of millennials block ad content because it is too pushy
  • 43% say online ads are not personalized to their interests but 62% say the content they discover on their own is personalized
  • 61% say they prefer to find content on their own even if it is customized
  • 46% say content they find on their own influences their purchase decisions.

Winning in a Crowded Market

“The only way to compete in an increasingly crowded market is by providing valuable content for consumers to discover on their own and building relationships through interaction and engagement,” says Erika Trautman, Rapt Media, founder and CEO.

The keyword is valuable. Content must be targeted and compelling to gain the audience’s attention. Producing personalized content requires substantial resources and investment, and that investment requires data to prove its value. Measurement can show if content marketing strategies are successful, but many content marketers lack adequate measurement.

The first key steps are to identify content marketing goals and align those goals with key performance metrics. Marketers sometimes list a slew of metrics in an attempt to provide detailed information. “However, if the metrics don’t align with the objectives, they cause more confusion than clarity. This confusion leads to ineffective content marketing,” warns David Pembroke, founder and CEO of the Content Group.

Metrics that Match Objectives

Pembroke explains how to match metrics to particular goals. If your goal is audience engagement measure time spent on content and engagement, including social media shares, likes and comments and engagement on your website.

If your goal is a desired action, proper metrics include click-through rates and conversion rates, which can be measured by submissions to a sign-up page on your website or click-through rates to gated information

Conducting polls, surveys or analysis of statistics (such as ABS data) can help measure offline behavior. You can also measure the cycle length from awareness to action. Successful content will reduce the length of the cycle, converting people from interest to action more quickly.

“To measure the uptake of a desired action, you need to focus on the tip of the activity funnel – where interest turns into action,” Pembroke advises.

The Social Media Listening Solution

More organizations are improving their marketing strategies and finding how to produce superior content through social media monitoring and measurement.

Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide recommends that marketers monitor social media to determine their target audience’s hot buttons. Listen to your audience and that of your competitors. Social media now refers more traffic to websites than search engines, notes Cohen, president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.

“Social media is where we seek people and information. This reflects a change in our habits. We spend our time on social media,” Cohn states. “More importantly for marketers, we trust our family and friends most.”

A white paper from IBM Marketing Cloud, 10 Tips for a Stronger Digital Marketing Program, cites social media listening as a key strategy for maximizing marketing resources. Perhaps counter-intuitively, listening to consumers is more important than publishing.

Social media networks among the best places to conduct market research and gauge customer satisfaction. For example, a search of highly specific keywords can immediately produce research on what a couple hundred million people think about a specific topic. Organizations can learn what consumers like and dislike about their products and how people feel about competitors’ products.

Bottom Line: Research shows that consumers prefer to learn about products through their own searches rather than through disruptive advertising. As more companies realize the potential benefits of content marketing, marketers churn out more content. Winning consumers’ attention becomes more competitive. However, careful measurement and social media listening can identify consumers’ hot-button issues and produce content that earns their attention and trust.

To read more on how to measure all of your content efforts, including your content, download the ebook, The Keys to the Kingdom: Making Your Marketing Team More Data-Centric.

 

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This article was written by William Comcowich of the CyberAlert blog for Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

3 Ways to Let Customers Tell You How to Design Your Website

What’s the best way to get direction on designing your website? Your customers hold the key. Read on below…

Did you know that when prospects visit your website, they leave cues that you can collect about their behavior on your website?

This data can help you design a better website for your customers, reduce their ease of finding what they are looking for, and earn you new business.

When you’re deciding how to design your website, put an end to the guessing game and let your customers speak for themselves. Provide ample opportunities for your visitors to give feedback, and combine that information with data from tools and analytics to find the best ways to satisfy your customers and increase your sales. Here’s how:

1. Perform Usability Testing

A usability test is when you ask real people to accomplish tasks on your website while you observe. The key here is that you’re going to want to get people in your target audience to do this, not employees of your company. Also remember that this isn’t a test of a person’s ability to use your website, it’s a test of how user friendly your website actually is.

From page layout to text readability and everything in between, the goal of a usability test is to make sure visitors can navigate the page intuitively and quickly find the information they’re looking for. For a quick, low cost option, look for services like those offered at UserTesting, where actual humans put your website through its paces and provide feedback about its strengths and weaknesses.

2. Solicit Visitor Feedback

Encourage customers to give feedback, but don’t make the mistake of burying your contact information in a small link at the bottom of a page. For the best results, include a link to a feedback form “above the fold,” near the top or side of key pages.

A page where visitors can request a quote or sales call is already priming them to communicate with you, so you should take the opportunity to ask for feedback about their site experience, too, but do it on the page that follows a form submission. To make it easy to respond, ask simple questions like, “Were you able to find everything you needed on our site?”

3. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful tool you can use to track and analyse visitor behavior. Simply copy and paste a bit of Google’s tracking code into your website pages, and Google Analytics creates and maintains a variety of graphs and other data visualisations to help you analyse that information.

One of the most important factors to analyse is the bounce rate on particular pages, which tells you when and how often visitors to a given page are leaving it. A high bounce rate means that people are immediately deciding that a page doesn’t hold their interest, indicating you need a better “hook.”

You should also regularly review the Behavior Flow reports and their drop off points. A behavior flow provides a visual map of how users navigate your site, and what path they’re taking as they browse from one page to another. A drop off point shows where they left that path — and perhaps the entire site — which could indicate a weakness in that page’s content.

 

This article was written by Rick Whittington from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


How to Make Your Content Marketing More Newsworthy

Many of us started our content marketing careers delivering newspapers in our local communities. What a great lesson in sales, customer service, marketing, and being social!

In the days before social media, social selling, and content marketing, people consumed content via newspapers. And, some of that native behavior still exists! However, your self-promotional use of Twitter is likely missing the mark because it is just not newsworthy.

Brands need to activate their content and awareness messaging—to make it more like a newsfeed and less like a promotional feed. By making your content more newsworthy, your customers will increase their likelihood to read it, count on it, and act on it—especially those who do not have a long relationship with you. Think less about the features and benefits of your products services and more about the news. Show that you understand your audience’s industry, category and company challenges. This approach will help you win their trust.

Remember you have to show your ability to deliver the news before they pay for the newspaper.

Reading the News Is a Native Behavior. Reading the Ads Is Not.

My paper route customers had a news reading ritual:

  • Delivery. Expect delivery of the paper every day.
  • Headline Scan. Scan the paper for meaningful headlines to learn something without having to read any further.
  • Read What Was Relevant and Interesting. Dive deeper into the content to get to the heart of the story—expanded from headline.

These are content consumption behaviors today’s consumers still practice—only now they do it with Twitter.

5 Reasons to Make Your Marketing Messaging More Newsworthy

I am not sure to whom we can attribute the phrase, “The news and nothing but the news”—however, it appears to have been foreshadowing for what your consumers want on Twitter.

  • It’s All About The Headline. 80% get their news by scrolling through their timelines—while 67% by browsing the timelines of others. This native scrolling behavior indicates the need to break through the clutter. (Source: American Press Institute, Twitter, and DB5)
  • More News Consumption. 60% of Twitter users say they get more news now than before they joined the service—indicating our audience is using Twitter for news content. (Source: American Press Institute, Twitter, and DB5)
  • Easier News Consumption. 79% of Twitter users say staying on top of the news was easier compared to 62% of non-Twitter users—indicating your audience consumes news on Twitter to consume and probably does not engage as much as you think. (Source: American Press Institute, Twitter, and DB5)
  • Active News Consumption. 86% of Twitter users use the service for the news—75% using it daily—suggesting the need to be relevant and active with your content creation (Source: American Press Institute, Twitter, and DB5)
  • Taking The Relationship To The Next Level. 92% click through, at least sometimes, to read the news—showing you that great newsworthy headlines will help you advance your customer relationship (Source: American Press Institute, Twitter, and DB5)

The Big Question You Should Ask About Twitter, Consumption, and Content Marketing

“Should I be using Twitter as a way to position my awareness messaging as a news feed?” Well, the above research provides one very clear takeaway for your content marketing strategy—make sure your messaging is more newsworthy … and distribute it on Twitter!

How to Make Your Brand’s Twitter Feed More Newsworthy

Even though your company is not a collection of journalists or a news publication, you can take a page out of their playbook with these simple tips:

1. Headlines. Write your tweets in 70- to 100-character capitalised headlines to capture your readers’ attention.

2. Facts and Lists. Feature facts and lists to convey your understanding of your audience’s business. You need to make your readers’ life a little better because you got them to think about things a little differently—or you taught them something. Have an informative approach to your messaging and you’ll be building your relationship in no time!

3. Pictures. The old saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ also applies to content marketing and Twitter. Try to include a custom-made and newsworthy graphic in 75% of your messaging to help break through the clutter and capture the hearts, minds, and most importantly the eyes of your readers.

4. Call to Action (CTA) Connected to The ‘Story’. You need to deliver the news. However, you also need to give your audience a clear next step to ‘learn more’. Accomplish this ‘click’ with a ‘Read More:’, [WHITE PAPER] or similar CTA.

5. User Experience. Make sure to link your tweet to an informative landing page or blog post that naturally ‘fits’ the headline in your tweet. Think of this experience as a story supporting the newspaper headline.

So, how can your brand use content or content marketing to secure the attention of your readers? Give your audience the news and nothing but the news and they will start to pay for it with their social and relationship currency.

 

This article was written by Gerry Moran from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.