Final Four Predictions: Social Listening for March Madness

March Madness (which extends into April – it’s madness, I tell you!) is heating up with the Final Four showdown tomorrow night.  When I did my Sweet 16 picks based on nothing but chatter volume, I definitely expected to do better than I did last year: the team I picked to win it all last year was knocked out in the first round, so there wasn’t actually any way to do worse.

What I didn’t expect was to get 8 out of 8 picks correct.  This made for a very special “Interesting Topic” to add to our Monday morning marketing meeting, so thanks, social listening tools: you made our morning.

Out of sheer curiosity I’m using the same method to predict the Final Four, which is: measure the volume of social chatter around the teams playing, and choose the winners according to who has the most talk.

Final Four Predictions:

Kentucky

Florida

[ed note: due to reading the chart wrong, I typed Wisconsin in rather than Florida.  But the Huskies and their tight-lipped New England fan base beat out the more socially-mentioned Gators.  Ah, well: still better than last year.]

Kentucky is dominating social chatter overall, so if I had to pick the team to win it all right now with this admittedly ridiculous methodology, that’s who I’d pick.  But that’s not actually how the method works (there is method to my April Absurdity): I like comparing the team chatter after the most recent round of games, and up until the day before the next round.

That’s just how it works.  And I don’t question a method this silly yet uncannily accurate (that one time).

Whether my Final Four predictions end up being as directly correlated to social chatter as the Sweet 16 games were remains to be seen; whatever happens, I’ll at least have another “Interesting Topic” to share in our Monday marketing meeting.

 

4 Steps to a Great Facebook Business Page: NEW E-Book

Wondering how to set up a Facebook Page for business? This quick guide can help!

Do you have a Facebook business Page?

If so, you might be interested in our 7-book Facebook Business Essentials series, meant to provide an end-to-end education of everything you always wanted to know about Facebook marketing, but didn’t know you needed to know.  These are quick guides outlining the process of setting up a robust Facebook marketing program.

If you don’t have a Facebook business Page, you’re in the right place: our first installment in the series gives you a 4-step process to setting up your company Facebook page with digital marketing goals in mind.

So, even if you have your company Facebook Page set up, you might want to take a gander at this first book and make sure that some of the foundational elements of setup that become important later are covered.

Get this free Facebook business Page setup guide by clicking that magically SEO-friendly link there.

This book is full of tips and tricks from our own Facebook expert (he’s huge in Sweden – seriously), making it a great read for anyone who’s serious about Facebook marketing.  Stay tuned for the next 6 volumes, complete with more tips, tricks, real-life examples, and exceptionally enthusiastic polar bears.

DOWNLOAD HERE:

How to set up a Facebook Page for Business

Social Media Audit: 7 Easy Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning time! Your social media audit is a virtual feather duster away.

OK, let’s get real: “social media audit” sounds exactly like a project that social media managers really don’t want to do.  But Spring has sprung, and with this time of renewal and rejuvenation it’s a great time to revisit the nuts, bolts and other such connective parts of the social media machine that you brave social media marketers have constructed around your brand.

So, rather than “social media audit,” let’s call this process something a wee bit more fun, like:

7 Easy Steps to Social Media Spring Cleaning

That sounds better, doesn’t it?  We’ve tried to make your social media audit as painless as possible.  Hey, we like you.

  1. Audit permissions on all your social media sites

    When was the last time you took a look at who had access to manage your Facebook Page, Twitter feed, or third-party app that posts across sites?  The reality is that a lot of us use multiple sites, tools and logins – and this makes the permissions piece an organic one, as employees leave companies and change roles.  Go ahead and log into everything and make sure that your permissions are in-line with your current employee job descriptions.

  2. Refresh your look and feel

    Has it been more than a year since you changed out your Twitter background or Facebook banner?  If so, it’s time for a refresh: no social media audit is complete without a design refresh.  The good news is that you probably want a refresh anyway, due to the need to…

  3. Revisit your positioning

    Take a look at what your social media profiles are telling the world about your company.  What’s the brand story?  It’s possible that your corporate positioning has changed since last year, and your social media profiles aren’t up to date.

  4. Take a deep dive into your success metrics

    Q2 is a really great time to look at metrics: theoretically your annual goals are set (and if not, you’re not alone: I once worked for a company that got our annual marketing plan together in May), and you still have 2+ quarters left to hit them.  Summer is an off time for a lot of industry topline revenue, so Spring is a good time to plan for that by making sure that your KPI’s are sound, and that they’re still relevant given any positioning or other changes coming up that might affect them.  If you haven’t yet set your goals or are having trouble figuring out what success looks like, check out our social media ROI article.

  5. Get organized with lists

    Ooh, lists!  Who doesn’t love a good list?  Facebook has interest lists, Twitter enables influencer lists, G+ has circles and YouTube has playlists.  If you’re not using these, now’s a great time to start.  If you are, now’s a great time to revisit them and make sure that they’re cleaned up and full of the people and content you want.

  6. Optimize your profiles

    YouTube, Pinterest and SlideShare can be really powerful for SEO.  Part of your social media audit should be revisiting your company’s SEO strategy to make sure that you’re optimizing for the terms most important to your business goals.  If you haven’t experimented yet with anything beyond Facebook and Twitter, consider trying out something like Pinterest or SlideShare.

  7. Change all your passwords

    With so many logins, it’s easy to let those password changes go by the wayside.  Yes, password changes are a pain – but even before Heartbleed, changing our passwords quarterly was actually the rule of thumb.  If it’s been 3+ months since you’ve changed the passwords to your social media profiles and associated sites (stock photo imagery, for example), now’s a great time to go ahead and make those changes.  This becomes a lot less painful if you’re using a social media marketing tool that allows multiple uses, as – rather than changing all those passwords and then having to email them out to everyone and keeping track of who has them – you can simply adjust the main account and invisibly make that change.

 

So, there you have it: your annual social media audit, packaged together in 7 Spring Cleaning steps.  If you have any other tips, feel free to share them in the comment field.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Did Google Kill the Press Release? (No, Just Press Release SEO)

There was a time when PR pros regularly heard the following from SEO experts: “Press releases are AMAZING for SEO, we need to issue lots of press releases.” Press release SEO was a game changer for PR. PR teams were suddenly considered major players in digital marketing, we issued a lot of press releases and we were told the press release was the new SEO gold. Like a flash those days were gone. So, who killed press release SEO? Was it Google? I say no…

 

Before we dive into what changed, a quick overview of the press release SEO glory days

On a very high level, here’s how it worked:

  • Either PR or the person charged with SEO wrote a press release that satisfied a keyword strategy. Often times this release didn’t announce news at all, but was rather a was a vehicle for keywords and links
  • PR posted the release over one of the many news wires
  • The release, once out over the wire, was picked up by news syndicators, such and Wall Street Journal, Yahoo News, and more (read more about news syndication), resulting in many online postings of press release across the web.
  • As Google crawled the web, it found instances of the releases, on very respectable news websites, recognized the keywords and links and gave the posting company ranking based on those posts.
  • The company’s SEO ranking for the terms and links went up

Pretty powerful stuff, right?

We flooded the market with press releases in the name of SEO

With great power comes great responsibility…*  Right?

After PR and SEO experts figured out this formula, the Internet was suddenly flooded with non-newsworthy press releases, and new wire services were popping up like weeds across the web. Suddenly EVERYONE was issuing press releases – in fact, they began issuing tens-of thousands of press releases per day. Now, this may not seem like a problem on the surface: after all, the Internet is like the universe.  It is ever expanding and has no limits, right?

Actually, yes: the Internet Universe is unlimited, and it will most likely grow and expand forever. The flood of press releases was not a problem of space, it did, however, sacrifice the true purpose of a press release.

A press release is meant to inform the public of news – it’s pretty straightforward. During this SEO-driven period, the release was simply not used for its intended purpose. Too often releases stopped being used to inform and became a vehicle to market and drive traffic by corporations.

The Impact on Journalists

This is where I begin to feel sad. All of a sudden press releases were being used as marketing tools, which became a problem for journalists. During this time, as thousands of non-newsworthy releases were passing by a journalist’s desk something bad happened, they stopped being a useful journalistic tool.

One could argue that the release was already in danger of becoming irrelevant to journalists, what with the amount of information that the Internet made available the release was simply not as important. If a journalist can easily research on the web, do they need a press release?

However, even with the Internet as a research tool, releases, assuming they are newsworthy, have a journalistic purpose. As soon as they stopped being about news, and the legitimate releases were like the proverbial needle in the haystack, journalists all but stopped looking at them.

What’s more, today PR pros outnumber journalists, so there simply weren’t enough eyes to read all of the releases being issued!

Then, last year, something changed…

What Changed?

The simple answer is that Google changed their search algorithm. While the reviews of the algorithm change and its impact on the noble press release are varied, there seems to be one consistent theme: Google had figured out that SEO experts were gaming the system by writing press releases that were less about news, and more about key word stuffing and back links.

As reported by Shift Communications, Matt Cutts – web SPAM leader at Google – was quoted as saying,”…Google identified the sites that were press release syndication sites and simply discounted them…” and ““…press release links weren’t penalized, because press release sites do have value for press and marketing reasons, but those links won’t pass PageRank.”

In other words, Google was smart. They realized that PR pros were in cahoots with SEO experts to game the system.

The Impact of Press Release SEO on PR

When I began writing this article I, like many others, was of the opinion that Google had just killed the press release. And had as a result killed a long standing aspect of PR.

Then I began to think that, perhaps, it was the practices of PR and SEO pros that have killed the press release.  After all, before SEO experts and PR pros started using releases as marketing tools, they still had a journalistic value.

My theory is that Press Release SEO practices – not Google – killed the press release.  I tested the theory on my colleagues, Leslie (Social Media pro), Tom (digital and social media marketing pro) and Chas (Meltwater CMO and marketing pro) here’s how they responded:

Leslie Nuccio:

“There is a difference between content marketing and SEO: while the first can service the second, and certainly a good SEO strategy will necessitate content, the primary goal of content marketing as a discipline is to engage your community. The press release is one of the earliest forms of content marketing as we know it – and as such – any press release that is done primarily for SEO purposes is just bad PR. I agree, Google did the press release a favor.”

Tom Treanor:

“Like “content farms” and “comment spam” (which both worked for awhile), Google has made adjustments to limit the value of “press release SEO”. These types of actions help limit the junk (although some people never learn) and steers press releases back towards the direction of newsworthy items versus keyword-optimized spam – although it’s clear that the value of a press release will never again be as high as it was in the pre-Google era.”

Chas Cooper:

“Google’s Penguin update may have saved the press release from death-by-SEO, but only time will tell how the press release adapts to survive death-by-Twitter.”

So… What happens now? A Theory!

Now that press releases hold little SEO value, I believe that the number of non-news press releases being issued will decline. As we see the quantity of press releases decline and an increase in quality newsworthy content, will journalists rediscover their intended value? Will the release become the glorious PR tool it once was?

It’s likely too early to tell. So far I see few indications of things going this direction, other than the fact that most SEO and PR folks acknowledge that press release SEO value has declined.

If things do head this way, will PR Pros one day be celebrating Google as the savior of the press release? It’s quite possible.

Where can I read more about Press Release SEO?

*Great Spiderman quote, right?

When is the Best Time to Post on Social Media? – INFOGRAPHIC

“When is the best time to post on social media?”

This is one of the most common questions in social media circles, and with so many apps out there to pre-schedule content, it’s a good one to answer when you’re setting your content marketing strategy and calendar.

Now, our overall answer would be that engagement for your own target audience may occur at times that differ from any back-of-the-napkin social media timing guide; at the end of the day, the best time to post on social media is when your target audience is most likely to respond.  There are some helpful apps out there that can help you figure out how to optimize your content marketing (other than the native apps): SocialFlow, for example, analyzes your audience’s interests to help you understand what sort of content is going to do best, and when.

Our own Jen Picard wrote a thoughtful post on the best time to post on Facebook (and how to find the right time for your brand), but the folks over at Fannit put together an infographic that’s a good rule-of-thumb for folks who need to just get the content flowing.

best time to post on social media

If you have any insights as to the best time to post on social media, feel free to share them in the comment field.