March 15, 2013

A Recap of Blog Best Practices

We all understand how powerful a blog can be in educating customers or prospects, and in driving site traffic and ultimately helping fill the sales funnel. BUT, when not done properly, a blog can become stale and useless. Remember these key points when getting your team on board.

Types of blog posts that get the most traffic:

• Best practices
• Numbered lists
• How to
• Examples
• Event recaps

Blog Structure:

• Most blog consumers are short on time and want to scan your post
• Aim for 300-600 words; if you need to say more, break it into multiple posts
• Make it scannable:

- Add a main point in the first paragraph, refrain from lengthy lead-ins when possible
- Use sub-headings
- Use bullets where possible
- Bold text to emphasize points

Titles

• Always include a title
• Keep is short and engaging
• Keep social sharing in mind:

- Can you RT the title?
- Will people understand the title on Twitter?
- Use known keywords wherever possible

Keywords

• Try using only a couple keywords over and over in your post.
• Use them in the title, sub-headings, and through text

Outbound Links

• We encourage linking to other industry articles or sites, but make sure they are credible
• Stay away from linking directly to downloadable files (readers don’t like this)
• Add a link on key points

Inbound Links

• Link back to pertinent pages on the corporate website, such as product pages, past blog posts, white papers, case studies, contact forms, etc.

Images

• Try to use at least one image per post
• Use screenshots, charts, event photos, etc.
• Only use logos as a last resort
• Make sure you are authorized to use an image (if not, you must cite the source)
• Use high resolution images when possible

Call to Action

• Leave your reader with a next step
• For example, ask them to comment, ask them to participate in a webinar, ask them to download a white paper, etc.

Use your Social Brand to Promote

• Leverage your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts to promote your blog and direct readers back to the corporate blog to read it
• Use hashtags if posting on Twitter

Commenting On Other Blog Posts

• Be transparent, make it known who you work for
• Don’t directly pitch your products. Instead give feedback about process and approach, and then subtly mention a solution.
• Don’t hard sell

February 15, 2013

The Most Redundantly Redundant Blog Entry With Multiple Redundancies, or Not

Yes, the marketing world has thought of EVERYTHING. Case in point, a white paper to highlight the year’s 10 best white papers. Absolutely ludicrous, right? Except that it’s actually a pretty good culmination of high-end content, regardless of it seeming somehow redundant. I’ll admit this WP from Awareness had me laughing initially because the premise is hilarious, but the joke’s on me.

Many of today’s social white papers are still teaching basic best practices, and not focusing on the marketing tactics or potential impacts to sales or the business overall. These 10 topical papers from outlets like Gartner, IBM, Marketo and the 451 Group, tackle topics including revenue benchmarking, social marketing, social CRM, customer acquisition via social and more. No redundancies here. Check it out:

http://ow.ly/gwbwu

And let’s be honest, the best redundancies are not really redundancies at all… thanks Arnold and Danny!

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

February 4, 2013

How to Get Started Measuring Social Media Engagement

Measuring engagement in social media can be challenging with all the changes happening on social sites. There are standard equations that can get you some general numbers for Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, but the reality is that each business is different. Many of the formulas take a variety of variables and give you a mean engagement number. But for some businesses, CTR may be more important than a retweet, or a like might be more important than a repost. So… it’s key to think about your organization’s engagement objective when deciding whether to use a canned engagement formula, pay for a tool, or create a formula of your own.

For example, we have one client at VOXUS that really values CTR. However, CTR is not included in some engagement formulas. What to do? We created our own formulas (or modified best practices). Here again is the challenge with social media – one size doesn’t fit all. Why use the same engagement formula used by Coke if you’re a B2B chip manufacturer or network tools supplier? Your target audience is different, how you sell is different, how you leverage the channel is different, and the list goes on and on. So it’s safe to say that how you measure social media success may also be different.

Courtesy of Village Roadshow Pictures

While existing formulas and information may indeed be a good fit for your business, make sure your PR team does their homework and explains how these activities are measured and why. Sometimes it can be as simple as adding in a new element to the measurement equation. But, make sure you’re consistent and commit to that approach. Changing mid-stream can null the information you have to date, making year-end evaluation difficult.

Here are some standard equations that could help you get started.

Twitter

# of Replies, Retweets, CTR / # of Followers  X 100 = % engagement

*This formula is simple and straightforward and used throughout the industry.

Facebook

# of Engagements / # Organic Reach X 100 = % engagement

*This formula is based on the best thinking currently in the industry. However, we have modified the formula to only count organic reach and not total reach. Organic reach is the number of unique people, fans or non-fans, who see a post on their news feed, ticker, or on the company page, meaning they’re either a fan of the company or seek out the company’s information by visiting the page. In contrast, total reach would include paid reach, which is reach controlled by Facebook and cannot be specifically targeted to an audience or controlled by us, and viral reach, which is when people see a post just because a friend engaged with it, not necessarily because they fit into the target audience. We use this approach because we only want to calculate the engagement rate of our content as it pertains to a niche audience (or our qualified audience). Measuring against total reach would provide inaccurate numbers that can be impacted by paid promotion.

LinkedIn

#Likes, Posts, Comments, CTR / # Group Members X100 = % engagement

* This formula is the best current approach to calculating engagement in LinkedIn. However, LinkedIn is changing faster than any other social platform, so we anticipate this formula will change in the future to ensure we’re accurately measuring activity.

December 14, 2012

Turn YouTube into a Marketing Asset

YouTube is practically a household name these days, but many companies still struggle to make their channels a true marketing tool versus just a place for video storage. It’s the third most popular site in the world and over the last five years, has become an interactive social site for information seekers. And, in case you’ve been living under a tree, video search rank matters more than ever today, especially since we now live in a Google Search world where SEO optimization can drive your video to relevancy. In the end, if you have a YouTube channel and are investing time in making videos, the goal is to drive leads. When done correctly, YouTube does just that and can help your business fill the funnel. So turn your YouTube channel into a marketing asset.

Here’s how:

1. Spend some time and brand your channel page accordingly. It needs to look professional. Think of it as an extension of your website.

2. Get the title right. Stop using product names and start using keywords that describe the value of the video. “How to…” is a great approach for titles and increases search rank. Using verbs will improve results.

3. Write a good description that includes keywords. Utilizing keywords will improve SEO and allow the video to rank higher in Google Search. Also, include a link so people can get more information on the site and you can drive leads. This will also contribute to the overall company website SEO.

4. Use in-video annotations and overlays to align videos with marketing promotions. You can use basic free overlays, or get more creative with paid overlays. When you show the product, have an overlay pop up that says “Enter to Win Now” and built a social marketing promo.

5. Use the Promote Your Video (PYV) feature on YouTube. This allows you to promote via Google AdWords using the same PPC budget (no additional buy needed). It offers cheaper CPC than search, has less competition, and offers metrics on total views, region, search queries, time of video watched and more.

6. Don’t waste your data. Take the information you get from PYV and add viewers to remarketing lists for future follow up. The list can even be targeted to viewers via the Google Display Network.

7. Have a variety of language videos, think about creating playlist to help with video search. YouTube’s index structure is still a bit archaic, but playlists can help separate content so it’s more easily navigated. Too complex? Think about creating a separate channel for region or support.

8. Standardize how your organization uploads video. Create a marketing template that must be filled out prior to upload. Posting consistent titles and descriptions will make the channel more cohesive and professional.

November 16, 2012

Four Social Media Tips for 2013

Social media continues to play a larger role in filling the sales funnel for B2B. Don’t believe in B2B social? Check out Forrester Technographics™ Ladder.  Savvy marketers are constantly looking for new ways to execute on engagement marketing with these audiences. If you’re not, you’re probably being left behind.

There are many strategies you can follow and tactics you can execute on to be successful in social. Here’s a quick hit list of some items you should either already be leveraging, or plan to leverage moving into 2013. They can help streamline your activities, improve reporting, and boost content performance and engagement in social.

Number 1: Great Googlie Mooglie (AKA Google Analytics). Of course you know what it is…but so does your PR team. So why haven’t you given them access? By doing so, you can make them accountable on closing the reporting loop on PR activities designed to drive traffic to pages on your website. This is even more important when trying to understand social media activity and campaign effectiveness.

While not the be-all end-all for measuring success (you may also be measuring things like followers added, retweets, etc.), it’s certainly an important data point to understand and learn from. If you do a promo, and run it in social, you should track the effectiveness of driving individuals back to a specific page on your site. After all, the ultimate goal is to use social to fill the funnel. Getting the customer to the website is a vital part of that cycle. If you don’t measure, and optimize for your next effort, your team is not being strategic in their efforts. Honing in content for the social audience requires understanding cause and effect. GA is a part of that process.

Number 2: Promoted It. You may be posting content on Twitter and Facebook, but consider paying a small amount of money to promote that content. For Twitter this means it comes up higher in search around key words. For Facebook, you can get fairly specific when targeting to your audience. We recently compared promoted posts to an ad buy on Facebook. To our surprise, the promoted post dramatically out performed the ad buy – and this was in the network test and measurement market (the ultimate B2B).

With just a little spend, you can get good results that will increase engagement (even just organic), drive followers and increase CTR back to your site. Don’t know where to start? Just dive in, start with $50 and see what happens.

Number 3: Don’t Be an Island. Businesses don’t survive alone; they need partners to succeed. Communicate with those partners on your social media strategy. Oftentimes you have the same goals in mind and by leveraging each other and doing special promotions you can both see the benefits with less resources used.  The channel is often overburdened or looking for good social media content. Share with them, help them educate their customers and use that opportunity to drive them back via social to your assets (webinars, posters, infographics, white papers, etc.).

We recently engaged with the channel for a client and gave away Kindle Fires to some lucky winners. All they had to do was download a poster and follow a Twitter handle. Simple to execute and it got the channel engaged and excited.  (Don’t forget your rules and regulations.)

Number 4: Mix it up. Every company has an internal marketing mail list. Use that list, along with your social network, to run surveys to gather information from users. Find out what challenges they face, what concerns they have, what approach they prefer, how a solution can be better… then use that information to more effectively message your next launch. B2B markets can get so buried in the technical details (yes, I’ve even been accused of that as well). Getting survey data can help distill a value prop and put the pain point in terms everyone can easily understand.

Albert Einstein said it best, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This applies to all elements of PR – messaging, measurement, storytelling, etc. The answers are there. They just take some digging and a PR team that’s willing to turn hard data into actionable, understandable information.  Expect more from your PR team in 2013.

June 7, 2011

Don’t Go Nuts During Press Interviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know that having your product team on the same page is important. When it comes to PR and media, it’s vital. Therefore having a good set of media guidelines that you share with your team just makes good business-sense when launching a new product. A recent global product launch with a client reminded me of the best practices in the world of media etiquette and espionage for product launches. I thought we would share.  May the force be with you.

1. If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it.

2. NOTHING is off the record anymore (unless you have a signed NDA).

3. If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer. But, tell them you’ll find the answer and then empower your PR team to help.

4. Stay on topic. If you’re there to address a product, talk product, not corporate initiatives or growth. Your PR team can always arrange a follow-up briefing to review the “state-of-the-company.”

5. Don’t talk about competitors proactively or reactively, unless you can bridge the conversation to demonstrate extra value with your products.

6. Don’t feel compelled to fill space with random comments or information. The more you say, the less chance you have of them picking up on your key messages. If your update is 15 minutes, great, keep it short, press will appreciate it.

7. An interview is not a confession. Just because you know it, does not mean you should share it.

8. Use simple language and not company-speak. Remember, they don’t know your internal acronyms. Be clear.

###

May 9, 2011

The AP Editors Have Spoken!

That’s right, the AP editors have spoken and laid down some new phrasetastic smack (that’s code for new stylebook changes).

Let’s get right to the point. What do we tech-heads need to know?

- the crowd roars, that’s right “email” instead of “e-mail,” as in “Pippa did you see the email from Sir Justin about your date next week?”

- boo-yaa “cellphone” and “smartphone” are finally one word, as in “I started to cry when told I could spell smartphone as one word.”

- device geek bonus round, 500 points for spelling handheld as one word when a noun, or hyphenated when an adjective, as in “I swear The Queen was texting on her handheld during the wedding. Doesn’t she know hand-held devices are banned from Westminster.”

- okay, okay, I’ll stop, here’s the rest:

Bluetooth (capitalized)

download (and upload, one word)

click-throughs (lowercase, hyphenated)

cyberspace (one word, lowercase)

domain name (two words, lowercase)

e-book, e-reader

end user (as a noun), end-user (as adjective)

fan, follow and friend (acceptable as nouns and verbs)

Google, Googling, Googled (uppercase)

home page (two words, lowercase)

hyperlink (one word)

Internet (always capitalized)

intranet (no capital)

iPad, iPhone

IP address

JPEG, JPG (uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out)

login, login, logoff (lowercase, no hyphen)

liveblog

microsite

online (no hyphen)

plug-in

search engine (two words)

unfriend (lowercase one word)

URL (uppercase acronym, lowercase spelled out)

World Wide Web or Web (always capitalized)

website (one word, lowercase)

 

###

 

 

April 7, 2011

New Social Media Report Highlights Top Issues and Growth Areas for 2011

Yesterday I sat in on a great HubSpot webinar (with Michael Stelzner) that reviewed a report released today by Social Media Examiner. The report was based on extensive research and surveying about concerns and usage of social media in 2011. You can access the entire report here. I highly recommend it.

If you don’t have time to read the report or sit in on the archived webinar, here’s a summary of the high-level research.

Some quick key takaways:

- 73% of businesses plan to increase their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging in 2011

- Small businesses are investing heavily in social media

- 90% of marketers believe social media is important to their organization

- Half of marketers have less than one year of social media experience

- B2B (52.6%) companies have been using social media longer than B2C (46.2%)

- 56% of marketers are using social media for at least 6 hours a week (34% for 11 hours+)

- 62% of marketers use social media to increase search rankings

- 72% of marketers that have use social media for at least 3 years reported that it helped close business (i.e., it takes time for social media to impact bottom line)

- With 6 hours a week, 52% of marketers saw an increase in lead gen via social media (more effective with SMB)

- Currently on 28% of marketers outsource social media activities, but that number is expected to grow dramatically in 2011

What are currently the 3 most common questions about social media and their implications:

 

What are some other key research points:

 

March 29, 2011

Strange Brews for Social Media

Two things I love — beer and social media. What better way to start off the day, than looking at what top brewers in the world are doing on the social media Facebook front. I’ll have to admit, I already followed Corona and Miller Lite (obviously not a beer snob), so I knew they were doing some cool things (remember Corona’s Time Square customer billboard?). But, I just assumed all the bigger brands were as innovative in this space. I WAS WRONG.  While many are engaged in social media and knocking it out of the park, some are doing it better than others. And, some have either not made a commitment to focus on it, or are just struggling to roll it out effectively.

This is not a comprehensive list. Just some meddling I did based on some of the top name brands I know of.

Who’s hot right now as a beer brand in Facebook?

Miller Lite, Budweiser, Heineken, Corona, Michelob Ultra, Labatt Blue Light, Amstel Light, Dos Equis, all are doing it right. Here’s some samples:

`
Who’s warm?
Coors, Henry Weinhards, Stella Artois, Guinness, Tecate, Beck’s, Miller High Life, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, are all doing social media. They have good fan bases and engaging them. At this time they may not have a promotion of compelling offer.
`
Who’s lagging?
Pyramid Brewery (local company, breaking my heart), Rolling Rock, Fosters, Pacifico, King Cobra, Steel Reserve, all have a Facebook presence, but are not being aggressive (we’re talking the basics here). Perhaps it’s time to take this task off the intern’s plate.

`
Where oh where are you my sweet Pabst???????
March 7, 2011

Speedtesting Crosses the Social Chasm

Did you hear the BIG news?  Speedtest.net launched a completely revamped site!  Not only has the look and feel been updated (which rocks), but tons of new amazing features have been added, including tweaks that improve testing (such as a new interface and mapping scheme).

However, what makes all of this very cool is the element of social integration and sharing that Ookla (the company behind the site) built into the latest release. The new site allows for user accounts (the crowd goes wild). Why does this matter? Well, now consumers can test and track broadband performance over time, and have access to their testing history, regardless of browser or location. This information can be vital in holding your ISP accountable (that’s right, you pay for performance, make sure you’re getting it).

They can also start what’s called a Speed Wave. This feature allows a user to create a testing wave by inviting others to group test. Essentially you can start an ACME Company wave, or get a city or ISP wave going. Now, if you’re competitive, this feature could spark some great broadband testing rivalries (think ISP vs ISP, city vs city, college vs college, etc.). What’s the icing on the cake here? For all of us super-geeks, Speed Wave awards users with badges (much like FourSquare) for certain achievements in a testing wave. And, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ookla run some cool contests, if this feature takes off.

How do you get people to participate in your Speed Wave? Inviting others is simple. Speedtest.net allows direct posting to Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, direct email, LinkedIn, Reddit and more, so you can post your call to duty and rally friends.

Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about broadband speed testing, the new site has a variety of useful resources.