David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

Tips for better SEO (search engine optimization) and website marketing …

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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

How a TSUnami might drown FaceBook

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

FaceBook is under attack. Can its hegemony stand against up-and-comers like Tsu and Ello?

Of course, the answer is…maybe. FaceBook might seem like a Rock of Giberaltar, solid and unmovable. But so was the Soviet Union (for you younger readers, that’s what they called Russia and a number of its vassal states before the fall of the Berlin Wall ended the Cold War).

Tsuccess - success on Tsu social network

There was a time before Google, too, when Lycos and Alta Vista and Excite and Looksmart ruled the Web.

And FaceBook itself displaced MySpace in the social networking space, which in turn displaced Friendster. The question is not if FaceBook will be replaced, but rather when and by whom?

2014 has seen the launch of two contenders with a better chance than most so far.

Ello is the media darling, which launched in beta mode early this year with its promise never to sell user data or to post ads. It has positioned itself as the anti-FaceBook and has attracted some good capital funding to stake its claim. But it is still in beta and you still need an invitation, so I will report on Ello some other time.

Tsu is less than a month old, and distinguishes itself from FaceBook by sharing its revenue with users. Like Ello, it appeals to people’s sense of fair play: you put content on a social network, you should share in the profits.

Each of these social networks has a captivating Unique Value Proposition. The question is whether either of them will displace FaceBook, or at least make a stand side-by-side with FaceBook.

I use FaceBook and there is nothing specific that bothers me about the site, at least not enough for me to quit. Nothing specific. But there is something just a little shifty about the changing terms of service, the blocking posts from users that we want to see, the privacy concerns… It’s like that guy you meet who always seems to have something to hide.

So I have signed up for Tsu and I am committed to being active there; I am closing in on 500 friends in under a week. I do not expect to get rich from Tsu, but I do spend time on social media. If that time can be converted into a couple extra pizzas each month, that’s a nice little bonus, right?

Tsu has the basic layout and functionality of FaceBook, but feels more fun – the community is somehow more like Google Plus (and that is a good thing). Tsu has hit the ground running, going public before all the features are live, the opposite strategy from Ello. To be viable, at very least Tsu will need some form of groups or communities, so we can assume that will be coming shortly. To compete with Google Plus, Tsu will probably need something like circles and hangouts, or something else uniquely its own.

How you can be be successful on Tsu

  1. Share awesome content – things that are useful, entertaining or newsworthy.
  2. Build a large network of friends, so that your content gets seen and shared.
  3. Be sociable – comment and like other people’s posts, and share them when you really like them.
  4. Forget about the money. Seriously, you need to be social because you have reasons to interact for fun or to build a community for your business.
  5. Be an early adapter. This is key to the whole making money part. Invite people. This is the ONLY thing you should do for the money. A year from now, thousands of people will be banging their heads on the wall for not getting in right away and inviting their friends.

Tsu early adapter

The more people you invite, the more “children” you will have and the bigger your “network” will be. Tsu will share with you its revenue based on your activity and the activity of your children and grand children, so it is important to invite A) lots of friends and B) active friends.

I can’t stress enough the “active” portion of all this. You are not paid for the number of people you recruit; you are paid for the activity you and they generate. Being an early adapter means that you have a better chance of inviting active people who have not yet joined.

This brings us full circle to “forget about the money”. Invite people and encourage them to be active. Then, just go ahead and do what you would be doing on FaceBook or Google Plus anyway. Did you notice that those first three points are the same as for any other social network? Yes, Tsu is much like any other social network in that respect, just that you get a share of the revenue that your activity generates.

If you try too hard, you’ll become a spammer. And as I pointed out in the Social Media Sun, nobody wants to share their revenue with a spammer. Spammers will not get far on Tsu.

Already Tsu has taken measures to prevent spamming and encourage quality sharing. Anyone posting or sharing “Share this to earn more money” posts will have their accounts terminated. And there are daily and weekly limits for posting and friend requests, to keep spammers from running amok.

I hope Tsu stays vigilant on the matter of spamming, even if it makes things occasionally inconvenient. That is what makes it a great place to be – good quality content with a really fun atmosphere.

HOMEWORK: Join Tsu today, then invite three social media friends to join, too. You will sooooooo thank me for it later.

 


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Could your Twitter buddy be a bot?

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Bots are making their presence felt on social media. But can you tell a bot from a real person?

Anyone who’s been playing the social media game for a while should know that not all of their followers bleed when they are cut. In fact, many followers don’t even exist – they are just bits and bytes.

Bots.

“Bot” is short for robot, in much the same way “shroom” is short for mushroom. A bot on a social network is no more than a virtual presence created by a set of automated instructions.

The bots are following you.

And, more than likely, you are following some of them, too.

Does any of this matter to you? Some people really don’t care. The more the merrier, whether human or otherwise. Others care a great deal, sometimes being quite consumed over whether a follower is a real person or not.

I am in between. I don’t really care who follows me, but I am a little pickier about whom I follow.

So it was with interest that I read an MIT story about the bot named lajello, who (Can I say “who”, or should I say “that”?) became the second most popular “person” on the Italian social network aNobii. A quick glance at the “Italian” social network, which is all in English, makes me wonder if the whole community is made up of bots, but that is not the point of our investigation today.

Today’s investigation is how to tell if you are following a bot, or more to the point, how to recognize a bot or fake account on a social network like Twitter before accidentally following it.

Could your Twitter buddy be a bot?
Check out their smile

The most obvious way to quickly do triage between bots and real people is to check out their smile.  If they are smiling, there is a good chance they are real.  If they are frowning, they are likely real, too, although they might just be real trouble.

But if they are not smiling because they have no head, that’s another matter.  Real people don’t walk around without heads.  If you see a generic icon for an avatar, chances are the account is a fake.

What if you see a company logo for an icon?  Real, although it might not be just one person, but rather a team of company staff – sort of like a virtual group hug for profit.

What if the avatar is something else, such as an animal or a famous character?  Could still be real.  Or it could be fake.  Best to check out other factors, which you should do anyway, because there are fake accounts with real faces (ah, the wonders of modern virtual face surgery!).

Check out their elevator speech

Every account has an elevator speech – a short summary of who they are or what they do.  If that little snippet includes a link to a blog or company website, they are probably real.  If there is something meaningful written, it is probably real.

If the snippet tries to sell you Twitter followers or FaceBook likes, who cares if it’s real?  You don’t want to follow an account selling fake followers, even if the account itself is real.  You could end up being a bot by association.

If the snippet is just a quote or a pithy saying that looks like it took no effort to create, that is another clue that the account might be fake.  If the snippet is left blank, there is an even greater chance that it is fake. The again, some people don’t have much imagination and just leave it blank.

Do a quality assurance check

Check the tweets of the account.  If they are all ads or all promotional or all meaningless or all just don’t feel right in some way or another, don’t follow them.  Many accounts will have some meaningless tweets; most people post some drivel. Many will have sponsored tweets, because they get some money for that.  Many will pitch products and services.  All of that is fine.  But if that is all they do…well, it’s up to you to decide whom you wish to follow.

Check out whom the account is following.  If the “person” is following all real-looking accounts, then it is probably a real person.  But if the account is following a fair number of fake accounts, you might want to stay away from them.  Bots follow bots, and you probably don’t want to tag along at the end of a bot konga line.

Check out who is following them.  This is less accurate, since even a good account can be followed by lots of bots.  But it can give you one more signal as to the quality of the account.

Follow me on Twitter.  I’m not a bot!

Ultimately, there is no way to be 100 percent certain that an account is real, unless you came to the account from someone’s blog post, from their email or from some other place where you know they are real.

And all these guidelines still might erringly identify your next door neighbor, who hasn’t added a pic or a blurb to his profile, as a bot.

Don’t feel bad if you discover that one of your online buddies really is a bot.  As the MIT story says:

It is not hard to see the significance of this work. Social bots are a fact of life on almost every social network and many have become so sophisticated they are hard to distinguish from humans. If the simplest of bots created by Aiello and co can have this kind of impact, it is anybody’s guess how more advanced bots could influence everything from movie reviews and Wikipedia entries to stock prices and presidential elections.

 

 


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Choosing the Best Social Sharing Platforms

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Which social platforms are worth adding to your activities, beyond the obvious?  Let’s look at this blog’s traffic as a case study.

Those who know me for a long time, know that I have had a reputation as social sharing addict, often seen at all the social bookmarking websites, large and small.  And people often ask me questions:

  • Is it worth it?
  • Do you get good traffic from them?
  • Do you get good SEO links?
  • Do you get customers?
  • Do you get engagement?

Everybody is after a different metric.  I plan to address only one of them directly.  But before I do, I should provide just a general response to these questions.

Yes, it is worth it, but you have decide how much effort to spend on social sharing and how much time on each site.

I suspect that SEO links are no longer much of an issue, except to the extent that you get traffic and engagement (and therefore links from blogs and news websites).

Choosing the best social sharing sites

I doubt I have gotten any customers directly from social sharing websites, but I know that I have earned myself clients as a result of networking on these sites.  A funny thing happens when you vote for and comment on and share somebody else’s labor of love – it opens up the doors to all sorts of valuable collaboration, including occasionally some new clients or subcontracting opportunities.  So engagement and traffic would be good metrics to help decide where it is worth spending your time.

In this post I will not rehash the relative value of being active on Twitter versus FaceBook versus Pinterest versus Google Plus versus LinkedIn.  At least 57 other bloggers are at this very moment rehashing those mysteries of the universe for you.  I won’t ignore them, but instead I want to share with you some of the other social websites that bring me traffic, either as stand-alone social communities or as sharing tools I use to extend my reach on the big social sites.

METHODLOGY

I like to add a “methodology” heading because it gives this blog post an air of scientific je ne sais quoi.  Truth be told, the methodology is simply that I have looked at my Google Analytics traffic sources so far in 2014 for this blog, for another business blog, and for a “simple lifestyle” blog that covers self-help, personal finance, health and fitness, and entertainment.

Here are the social sharing websites that have sent the most traffic to this blog, among the top 20 referral sources over the almost 5 months so far this year, in descending order (with my comments):

Twitter (No surprise, as Twitter is the ultimate link-sharing platform and I am very active there. This is my account.)

Viral Content Buzz (Wow!  This is a platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, FaceBook, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.  But the direct referrals alone are worth being active there.)

Google Plus (I am very active on Google Plus, especially in the communities, where I find engagement to be fairly strong. This is my account.)

FaceBook (No surprise)

Blokube (Big surprise!  Older and more established than DoSplash, Klinkk and Kingged, I nevertheless would never have expected Blokube to outpace BizSugar, Pinterest and Triberr, especially since I am more active on all of those platforms.  Clearly I need to pay much more attention to Blokube.)

BizSugar (Small surprise.  I love BizSugar and I am active there, although not quite as active as I would like to be.  Yet it is sending almost as much traffic as Pinterest and Triberr combined!)

Pinterest (Considering the effort I put into creating highly pinnable pics, I am somewhat disappointed that Pinterest is not proving a better source of traffic.  I suppose if I ran an Etsy store…)

Triberr (Like Viral Content Buzz, this is a platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, and  have found it also a great venue for forging relationships with other bloggers.  I would rank it quite highly for engagement.)

JustRetweet (Another platform I use to extend my reach on Twitter, and to some degree FaceBook and Google Plus, and again worth using also for the direct traffic.)

Scoop It (Content curation platform, and obviously I am getting some traffic from it.)

Gentlemint (One of four “male” answers to the female-dominated Pinterest, it is sending me more traffic than Manteresting, Dudepins and DartItUp)

Kingged (One of the newest social sharing communities, probably with the narrowest range of topics – just internet marketing – but with the most engaging users, both on the site and in comments on this blog.  If your blog fits this niche, it is worth the time and effort.)

DoSplash (Similar to Blokube and Kingged, fairly new and with a slightly wider set of niches.)

I won’t run through the same details with the other two blogs, but I will offer a few outstanding observations from their referral stats.

First, I should note that if a post or two goes hot on StumbleUpon or Reddit, it can dwarf all other social platforms, as traffic takes a ridiculous spike for 24-48 hours.  On the other hand, it can really mess with your bounce rate and time-on-page stats. I shall ignore those aberrations.

Secondly, considering the niches of the other two blogs, you won’t be surprised to hear that I get much less traffic from the likes of Blokube, BizSugar, Kingged and DoSplash.  But in their place, Gentlemint figures much more prominently, in one case ahead even of FaceBook, Pinterest and Google Plus (Wow!).  Three others also featured: Snapzu (quite strongly), Social Buzz Club (moderately) and Manteresting (barely).

If part of your marketing strategy is to reach out to other bloggers, to collaborate more, to extend your reach on the major social sharing platforms and to build a well-engaged following, this should give you an idea of which venues would be worth your effort.  Of course, your results might not be the same as mine; nothing is more accurate than your own results by trial and error.  This guide is meant strictly to help you make the best educated guesses as to where to start or expand.

 

 

 


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Who uses Google Plus?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

So much talk online about the growing popularity of Google Plus, even while all your real-world friends are still on Facebook.  Let’s look at exactly who is using Google Plus.

There is a lot of background chatter online about Google Plus, and whether 2014 is the year that it replaces Facebook as the social network of choice.  I have seen a few smirky cartoons and signs about people leaving Facebook for Google Plus.

Why join Google Plus?

I have even written about how Facebook gave Google an orgasm not long ago.

Notwithstanding the chatter, I do not predict that Google Plus will eclipse Facebook this year.  The statistics still show that Facebook is way ahead of Google Plus, and that even if Google Plus accelerates its growth, Facebook should still dominate by the end of 2014.

Facebook still dominates social media usage.

Of course, both sites have been found guilty of cooking user stats:

“Google+ may have 540m monthly active users, but this year they disclosed that this takes into account anyone who clicks on a +1 button that may be embedded on an external page (such as this one). Likewise, Facebook also takes into account anyone who clicks on a like or share button on any external site, meaning that you don’t have to use Facebook directly to be considered one of its monthly active users.”

Never mind the stats.  If you go out onto the street and talk to “real people” – I mean people who don’t use the words “social media” in everyday conversation and who might not even know what the term means -  they are almost all on Facebook. They are there because that’s where extended family and friends (people they know in the real world) all are.  They won’t switch social networks easily because no other social network has what Facebook has – their real-world family and friends.

Many of these people have also heard of Twitter, thanks to mainstream media coverage in the news and promotion through shows like American idol.

Few of these people have even heard of Google Plus.

Until these people are given a very compelling reason to leave, Facebook will retain the upper hand.

Who’s on Google Plus now?

But a lot of people are using Google Plus anyway, and maybe you should be boosting your Google Plus mojo to reach those people.  Just who are those people?

 


 

 

Disaffected Facebook users.

There are many reasons people are leaving Facebook.  Some studies say that Facebook makes us feel bad about ourselves. Others suggest that Facebook’s privacy and ethics policies are driving them away. I know of people who are upset with the ads and sponsored posts that are invading their streams, although I have yet to hear any “real people” (offline friends and family) comment about this. Will Google Plus be any better on any of these points? Only time will tell.

 

And down she goes.

Smirky cartoon that has been doing the rounds on Google Plus

 

But who are these disaffected Facebook users?  They seem to cut across all ages, although they tend to be more men than women.  Which ones are moving to Google Plus? That is even harder to tell, since so many disaffected Facebook users might not be “leaving” one platform for another, but simply spending more time on Google Plus and less time (or no time at all) on Facebook.

But many of them fit into the groups below.

Artists and photographers.

This is almost a no brainer.  If you have images you want to share online, Facebook just doesn’t cut it. Facebook gives you very little control over images, clipping them automatically.  See what Facebook did to my New Year’s message:

Facebook hacked up my pic

Sharing pics on Twitter is not ideal, partly because of the 140 character limit to describe the image, and partly because the pic doesn’t show up unless you open the tweet.  Here is my New Year’s tweet:

How Twitter shows and image

Here is how most people saw it:

How most people see a tweet with an image.

Google Plus works just perfectly for sharing images, whether you are a photographer, and artist or just someone who like sharing lolcats.  And you can easily describe the picture in as much detail as you wish.  See the difference it made with my New Year’s message:

How an image appears on Google Plus

It is worth noting that for really large images, Google Plus gives extra width, so they sometimes span across two columns.  That makes for some superb online vistas.

Marketers.

This has suddenly become a no-brainer.  Small businesses and online marketers were recently told by Facebook that they are unwelcome.  Not officially, of course, but if you read my recent post on Facebook’s antics, it is clear that they have made the Facebook climate inhospitable for supporting small business life forms.

I am seeing more and more of these people – people just like you, perhaps? – heading over to Google plus. So it’s a great place to network with like-minded marketers, develop relationships, partnerships and collaboration.  But is it a good place to sell to them?  Time will tell.

Europeans.

As Google Plus grows so quickly, I suspect the data is changing quickly.  Nevertheless, you can expect Google Plus users to come from similar places as those on Facebook and Twitter.  My own experience, however, shows that Google Plus is skewed more toward Europeans.

If I remove the local bias in Facebook (so many fellow Canadian offline friends, former friends and family), both Facebook and Twitter tend to be USA-centric, followed by India, after which would be UK and Canada (at least for English speakers).

I do not find myself interacting with a lot of people from Italy, Spain, France, Greece, etc. on Twitter and Facebook.  But on Google Plus, I do.  Perhaps it is just that the avid sharing photographers tend to be Mediterranean, or it might just be an accident of a couple circles I was included in early on.  But I find much less participation from India, and Asia in general, on Google Plus that I find on Twitter and Facebook.

I also find the content split to be interesting.  Very few Europeans seem to be sharing links to blog posts, whereas that seems to be what I see the majority of Americans and Indians sharing.

Google Plus cartoon

Perhaps you have a different experience on Google Plus, in which case please share it in the comments below.  My own observations might be too narrow-based on which to draw any useful conclusions.

Have I missed any important segments?  Are there other large, identifiable groups blazing trails on Google Plus?  Please let me know (and your fellow readers, as well) in the comments below.

 


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How to become a Google Plus rock star with Circle Shares

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Circle sharing is taking over Google Plus like wildfire because people can quickly expand their network. Let me show you exactly what steps to take.

Two weeks Ago, I was in the circles of 600 or so people on Google Plus. This morning, I am in over 3000 people’s circles. Welcome to the magic of “Circle Sharing”. If you want to grow your Google Plus following, I will show you exactly what to do, exactly what steps to take.

How to do cirle sharing in Google Plus

But first, let me explain why circle sharing is so powerful and warn you about why there might be a risk.

READ ALSO: Why Google Plus might be more valuable than Facebook.
READ ALSO: Who uses Google Plus these days.

Circle sharing is powerful because everybody who saves the circle follows everybody in the circle. So if you are in the WowAnotherCircle circle, everybody who saves the WowAnotherCircle circle becomes a follower of yours. In order to get into a circle share, you need to be a circle sharer.

So it’s like everybody shaking hands and agreeing to follow each other.  You have a lot of people building huge followings, all sharing their followers with each other…well, it’s one big happy circle family.

How people react to circle shares on Google Plus

So is there a risk? Well, yes actually. People are following each other in order to get followers.  Not because they have something specific to offer or because they know them or because their posts are somehow relevant.  If this was link-building for SEO purposes, Google would ban everybody doing it. But instead, it is follower building. Why doesn’t Google ban the users who do this on its own network?

I think I know why.

All this circle sharing is increasing engagement on Google Plus and increasing loyalty to the site. Circle sharing is helping Google Plus catch up to Facebook as the top social networking website.

 

But what if someday that battle is over? What if someday Google Plus is the top social network, just like Google is the top search engine?  What happens when Google no longer cares about pulling ahead of Facebook and starts to care about quality?

Google has shown that it is not above penalizing websites for perfectly normal activities they did years ago, but which now are considered spammy. Could the same thing happen to circle sharers? Maybe. My advice to hedge your bets is to actually engage with your followers, with all of them. Whatever you do, don’t just post marketing messages, for example. Nobody likes the guy who wanders around the room handing out business cards while everybody else is talking about the weather, sports and the mating habits of the Southern Prickly Porcupine.

Post really cool stuff. Post personal stuff. Be real.

Be interesting.

For now, I’m having fun, and I really don’t expect Google to cut people off from building connections on their site as long as no users find it intrusive.

For now.

Words of wisdom from a champion Circle Sharer

Michael Q. ToddBefore I provide the formula that increased my network by 500 percent in just two weeks (yes, I am giddy about it), I would like to share with you some words of wisdom from Michael Q Todd who happens to have the single biggest Circle Share of all time, Megaball.

He began the circle share to connect like-minded people, something you might consider doing even if you don’t want to get into the huge, huge networking numbers: “I did my first circle share to better connect Empire Avenue members about 2 and a half years ago…”

Then he got addicted, eventually realizing that, as with anything else, success is about perseverance:

Justin Matthew got me into circle sharing with his snowball circle shares about 1 year ago. I dabbled in them but then appreciated that success would come from being regular and consistent and branding my circle share. I learned this from Scott Buehler and Daniel Stock.”

Who gets included in the really big circle shares?  Those people who share the circle shares and their sponsors’ other content (no surprise there, right?):

“As far as ‘criteria’ the pages and profiles included will probably have given +1 and publicly shared the #Megaball for the past 2 weeks in a row and will have made an effort to promote it outside G+. I can see this on their post when they share. If they have had no reaction to it it probably means that they have not made such an effort. I also take into account people who make ripples with their shared posts of my other content during the week. I am looking for influencers who like connecting people basically.”

Here is how you can start circle sharing.

Get invited into an already phenomenal circle.

Here are a few already going on.

Start by following their instructions, but also make sure to follow these 4 critcal steps (if they are not already in the circle founder’s instructions).  That really is how I began to be included in several of the bigger circle shares. It shows their sponsors that you are happy to help out. “In order to get into a circle share, you need to be a circle sharer.’

    1. +1 the post
    2. Comment on the post
    3. Include the circle among your circles (add friends that are worth sharing)
    4. “Share this circle” publicly (make sure to “Include yourself in shared circle.”) Here is how to add the circle to your own, and then share it:

How to Save a Circle on Google Plus

How to save a circle on Google Plus

How to share a circle on Google Plus

Include yourself in shared circle on Google Plus

 

Please add me in the circle you share. My Google profile is https://plus.google.com/u/0/112928640804164819202/

Start your own circle share.

Create a circle specifically for sharing. Include the people you engage with the most (and please add me, too!). Or the most interesting people you follow. You can put up to 500 people, but even 50 is fine to start with. Then share the circle publicly, asking your friends and readers to share the circle.  Once again, here are the instructions you can put in the post for your friends to follow.  You can also point them to this post for instructions.

  1. +1 the post
  2. Comment on the post
  3. Include the circle among your circles (add friends that are worth sharing)
  4. “Share this circle” publicly (make sure to “Include yourself in shared circle.”)

Share the circle once, and maybe again the following week, updated with new folks who comment their way in.  You might find yourself updating it each week.  That is how some of the big circle shares got started, and their original sponsors are in over 50,000 people’s circles .

I would like to do a BlogPostCircle share based on the people who read this post.  Yes, that’s you. If you want in, leave your Google Plus URL for me in the comments below, and I’ll put it together in January once I get past the time challenges of the Christmas season.  make sure to put me into your circles, too.

Just for fun, I happened to be visiting my Google Plus profile page just when this lucky number appeared, so I thought I would leave you with a capture of that moment:

David Leonhardt in 2,222 circles on Google Plus

 


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Facebook just gave Google an orgasm!

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

This is a shocker, indeed. I don’t mean that I used the big “O” word in the title. I mean how the script is unfolding.

Facebook is trying to eat away at Google’s search hegemony. Meanwhile, Google has been laser-focused on toppling Facebook’s social network dominance.

It’s just like a classic movie showdown!

But every now and then two rivals meet at a climactic point in the script, engage in hand-to-hand combat, and…get distracted. They smell each others’ hair. They touch each others’ skin. They look into each others’ eyes.

But rarely do we see one of the rivals give the other an orgasm. Perhaps Hollywood is more family-friendly than social media after all.

In case you have been hiding under a rock this past week, Facebook “announced”:

“We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.”

This has not sat well with the many, many online small businesses who are among the most voracious users of social media. Here are a few samplings I have read this week of reactions to this news:

To sum it up, if a person “likes” your page on Facebook and wants to receive your updates that way, tough luck.  For them, and for you.  Chances are they will very rarely see those updates.

As a user, I actually like that.  Just because I “like” something, doesn’t mean I want updates.  In fact, I might like something because a friend recommends it or because there is a contest or some other incentive, and the last thing I want is to have all that commercial stuff blocking updates from friends, inspiring mini-posters and those crucial lol-cats.

But from a marketer’s perspective, after investing huge amounts of time and money building up a “likes” arsenal, it totally sucks.  100 percent.  Let this serve as yet another warning – I laid it out in Who Owns Your Twitter Account? and in 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year – you don’t own the work you invest in someone else’s website.

Google “Likes” Facebook

So Facebook is neutering your “likes”.

And Google really likes that.

Google has tried many times to supplant Facebook. Remember Orkut? Remember iGoogle? Remember Google Buzz? Remember Google Circles? Oh, wait…that ended up becoming Google Plus.

Well, it looks like Google’s long history of trial and error is finally over, and the question most of the way through 2013 has been whether Google Plus could do to Facebook what Facebook did to MySpace. (Don’t get me wring – MySpace is still big, especially in certain niches. But it is “big” only if it isn’t in the same room as Facebook.)

A year ago, Google Plus already had some impressive stats, having passed Twitter in total number of “active” users, but still with only half the number of Facebook.

Social media users

Dreamgrow published the following graph showing the trends up to March of 2013, and as you can see, Google still had not broken out of the pack as far as actual usage by US users is concerned.

Social networking usage

According to Jeff Bullas, Google Plus is closing in on Facebook, at least as far as the number of users and active users is concerned, but still had quite a way to go before catching up as of March.

I wish I could find some more recent stats, but I can’t. However, over the past six months, I have seen traffic from Google Plus increase, not just to my sites but to others’, as well. And the engagement going on now has hit fever pitch with all the circle sharing going on (Yes, drop me a line if you want to include me in a circle share; I would love to join the party.).

So, to cut through the blah-blah-blah, Google Plus is storming the palace gates and what does Facebook do? Facebook opens the gates. If small businesses move from Facebook to Google Plus for their marketing, and at the same time bring their personal social networking over, it could just be enough to create a neck-in-neck race.

In the world of social media spectator sports, 2014 promises to be a year full of oohs and ahs.  And one big social media “O”.

 


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A social media monitoring success story

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Smart brands are monitoring social media to track their reputation and following up with action. This is the story of one such smart brand.

So here I am, working remotely once again from my favourite office away from home – the Ottawa Public Library. I wrote about this set-up on my lifestyle blog, not from a marketing perspective, but focusing instead on the flexibility that working remotely allows me to have with family life.

I mentioned the service I use to access my desktop computer, back at my home office, remotely from the library: LogMeIn.com. I did not really do a review of the service, as I have nothing to compare it to. And I was very frank about the advantages of the service as well as the weaknesses. But all in all, it was a positive experience, and I reported it as such.

And I tweeted it. Here is the tweet (It’s a good one; don’t be shy to retweet it.):

 


 

And that’s where the branding fun began. Interestingly, I did not tweet #LogMeIn or @LogMeIn. But the folks at LogMeIn were obviously paying attention, because they messaged me via Twitter for my address. A few days later, a courier arrived with a care package from LogmeIn. Look at all the promotional items they sent me in appreciation for having blogged about their service.

We can always use new water bottles around here. And pens, of course. And I know my daughters will love the little iPod speaker port when I release it to them, as well as the ear plugs. Nice sticker, too, although perhaps less useful. The playing cards will be a hit when one of our current decks burns out, and we need another deck for Dame de Pique or Sequence. And who doesn’t need more pens? (The hats were already on the mantle.)

Tweet this: “Look what brand really ‘gets’ social media.”

Why was it smart to send these promotional items to me? Well, for starters, I am a user of their services and it will build loyalty. Yes, I do feel more positive about LogMeIn because of the gesture.

Perhaps they thought I would be likely to share a pic of these items on Instagram or on Pinterest, and as a blogger who is at least somewhat connected, that would be good promotion for them. (Answer: yes to Pinterest, no to Instagram).

Perhaps they are trying to build brand ambassadors.

They might hope this will inspire me to upgrade to “pro”.

Perhaps they figured I might write about them again, and it never hurts to show your appreciation. After all, in any networking situation the two most important words are “Thank you” – even more important that “How can I help you?” If that was the case, they were right, because here I am writing about them.

Read Also: Case Study on how NOT to do reputation management

Of course, as a social media strategist myself, I am more keenly aware than many people of how a brand is using social media. But I suspect that most bloggers would also sit up and take notice.

Are you monitoring your brand on social media? Are you taking advantage of positive opportunities as much as trying to fix negative situations? Any time your brand is mentioned, you should know about it and take action. And that action should be…

  • Turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.
  • Consolidate an advocate
  • Provide more fuel for advocates to use

I have no idea how consistent LogMeIn’s social media monitoring and follow-up are; I can base my opinions only on how they followed up with me. And for that, they get an A+ in social media marketing.

 


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REVIEW: Comparing Social-sharing Co-op Services

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

I have been using three popular social sharing co-op services for a while now.  These help spread your content across social networks like Twitter and FaceBook.

The three services are quite similar in some ways and different in other ways.  If you are like me, you will want to use all three.  But if you are too busy for that, this review will help you decide which to use.

The three websites we are reviewing are…

How these social sharing co-ops are similar

I call these three websites “co-op” because of the fundamental basis on which they all function: you share other member links, you earn credits…which are spent when somebody shares your links and earns your credits back.  The more you share of others, the more others will share of yours.  And the corollary…the more you want your links shared, the more you need to share of others.

The other major theme in common between these websites is that you are in charge.  You get to choose what to share on your social media account.  Nobody tells you what to share.  Nobody pressures you into sharing anything in particular.  No selections are automated. You decide what is appropriate and of interest for your followers.

When it comes to social media accounts, what the three services have in common is Twitter.  All three of them are built on the basis that people share each others’ content via Twitter.  But that is where the similarity ends.

How these social sharing co-ops differ

Easy Retweet lets you tweet and sign up new Twitter followers.

Viral Content Buzz and Just Retweet also let you share by FaceBook – but with a difference.  Viral Buzz lets you “share” on FaceBook, in your timeline.  Just Retweet lets you “like” on FaceBook.

Viral Buzz also lets you share on Pinterest – the only service that does.

Just Retweet lets you upvote on Google Plus – the only service that does.

The three services offer different levels of “quality”.  I use the word judiciously, since you might not necessarily want “quality”.  I will explain later.  First, let’s look at what each service officially says about quality, and then I will tell you what really happens at each service.

Here is what Easy Retweet says about “Tweet Contents”:

Any tweets containing pornography (in any form), illegal materials, unauthorised materials, materials in violation of any law will be removed as soon as noticed.

Here is what Just Retweet says in its “Terms and Conditions”:

JustRetweet reserves the right to remove any content posting (text, images, audio, video) for any reason, without notice at any time. Specifically, any posted content that: (1) is pornographic or offensive in nature (including nudity, violence, sexual acts, or sexually provocative images.); (2) infringes upon copyrights as specified by the content creator; (3) is illegal or violates any laws; (4) harasses (also known as “CyberBullying”) any person or any group of people. Such content posts will immediately be deleted and the IP address of the user reported to authorities, if necessary. Violating these terms will result in the irrevocable termination of your ability to use the JustRetweet service.

But on the Just Retweetrules” page, in red text that really stands out…

Here is what Viral Content Buzz Quality Guidelines have to say:

What will NOT be approved to be shared here:

  • Weak-in-content articles (that have no unique style or visual appeal);
  • Ad-stuffed and / or made-for-links articles.
  • Articles directly promoting affiliate products (such as affiliate product review posts)
  • Any sales page directly promoting a product or service
  • Content that is overly promotional in nature
  • Press releases
  • A home page of a business website or blog
  • Anything that the VCB staff in their discretion deems to not be “quality”

What will be highly appreciated here:

  • Unique and original articles that catch an eye and engage;
  • Trending and popular topics with your personal perspective (apps, tools, DIY, infographics, etc).
  • Articles or content that is either extremely useful, interesting or entertaining.

Viral content is defined as “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet“, so before adding a project, please give it a thought: “can it go viral”?

Our platform is NOT designed to help everyone get free social media votes. It’s aimed at generating buzz around GREAT content.

You can probably tell just by the length of the rules how serious each service is about ensuring quality and blocking spamminess.  In fact, here is what I have found:

Easy Retweet is full of spammy share requests.  Many things there I would not retweet because they are ads for things like BlogEngage or Fiverr gigs or ecommerce pages.  But there is also some good stuff, and I usually can find plenty to share.

Just Retweet is mostly real content, but there are some sales pages and other business pages that get snuck in.

Viral Content Buzz has been spam-free so far, true to their very detailed quality guidelines…except for Pinterest shares.  As you may know, Pinterest is an image-sharing platform.  But many Pinterest-sharing requests on Viral Content Buzz are for really, really poor images that are totally unworthy of sharing.  Obviously, many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe there needs to be some pop-up “image quality reminder” or something.

To spam or not to spam?

At first blush, it is pretty obvious where people would want to go: to the high-quality, no-spam service.  Especially bloggers who generally share very high quality content to begin with. And there are some benefits, like not having to wade through do as much triage.

But you probably will still want to do some triage.  Not every blog post or Infographic posted is one you will want to retweet to your followers.

And what happens if you want to promote a sales page.  Sure, it’s spammy – but it’s the sales pages that pay the bills.  They need to be promoted, too.  So there is also value in participating in a service where spammy pages aren’t considered spam.  And that’s the point of Easy Retweet – to cater to the Warrior Forum crowd.

On a final note, what is missing is StumbleUpon.  None of the services offer StumbleUpon sharing or thumbs up as an option.  Yet.

 
 

 


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How Far Can You Trust the Internet?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

If something is critical, make sure you own the real estate. This is a good principle to keep in mind when building a reputation, a business or whatever is important to you on the Internet.

Yes, there are popular platforms, such as YouTube and FaceBook, where you might want to be active. But these sites do not belong to you.  You never know when they might shut down (stranger things have happened), change their focus, fall from grace, or decide that you are a spammer or even some minor infraction in the terms of service that you were not even aware of (with no recourse for you to protest).

I was reminded of the importance of owning your own space, when Larry Ludwig had his Bogleheads account terminated.  Basically, after 250 posts, 20 of which he referenced articles he had written that were relevant to the discussion, his account was terminated.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.  All that work – or most of it – down the drain.

Readers with a bit of memory will recall how my account at BlogEngage was terminated, when I was the third top member listed there and had just a few weeks earlier been praised by the owner for  how I conducted myself.  From model community member to pariah in zero easy steps.   I am still guessing that he noticed my free account (grandfathered as an early member) was generating much more success than were the spammer accounts he was selling automated submissions to.  So on a whim, I lost all the work I had put into my account and the site as a whole.

In between these two minor catastrophic events, a new social site called Thruzt came along and was steamrolling ahead to success in its second or third month.  I tried to login to my Thruzt account, when all of a sudden – “Poof!”  Unless you have just wished for a loaded buffet table, “Poof!” is not a sound effect most webmasters like to hear.  Thruzt was hosted on the Cloud (or is it “in” the Cloud?).  And the Cloud lost it.  The entire site.  Yes, from social site of the hour to blank page of the hour in zero easy steps.

These are each individual cases, and they are not specifically instructive to any of our individual activities.  But they do provide a combined perspective of the importance of owning space that cannot be summarily deleted.

  • Your own domain, not a freebie blog hosting or website service.
  • Cloud, OK, but backups, backups, backups.
  • Your own hosting service.
  • Offline backups of all information.
  • Offsite backups.
  • Own your own social site or forum if you want to be certain that nobody will give you the boot.  Nobody can boot me from Zoomit Canada, for instance.

And now for the latest news, I tried to login to my Diigo account last week, but it was gone – but not for reasons similar to those above. In fact, the whole site was gone, but not because the site was terminated (as was the case with Mixx, Propeller and so many other social sharing sites).  I just learned that Diigo’s domain was stolen. That is much like owning a car or cottage, vulnerable to thieves.  But it does give us reason to ponder how much trust we should place in the Internet.

You be the judge of what measures you need to take, but whatever measures, take control.  You cannot control everything, and if you want to reach large audiences, you need to be all over other people’s property.  But make sure that what really counts is on your own real estate – or at least a copy.

Have a story of your own? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

* Featured in the Working At Home Blog Carnival.

 

 


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How to Reach New Markets with Facebook

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Creating lasting connections was the idea behind the creation of Facebook. The network allows people to document friendships and keep any sorts of “promotions” lined up in one place, so it is no question why businesses started hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon. It’s a great place to reach new markets whether you’re a well-established business or just starting out.

Unfortunately, there are still businesses today that don’t take advantage of the benefits Facebook has to offer. Many businesses feel they are doing just fine with their current marketing strategies, and some claim that there are simply too many social networks to possibly keep up with them all. If you fall into one of these two categories or have your own reasons why you’re ignoring Facebook, it’s time to consider how you can reach new online markets with this social network.

Top 3 Ways to Discover New Online Markets with Facebook

The biggest myth about Facebook is the idea that it is simply another way to reach your already existing audience. However, Facebook works great if you’re looking to expand your audience and discover others who might be interested in your business—and you might be surprised with who you discover.

  1. Microtargeting – Many businesses immediately consider having a Facebook business page, but there are actually huge benefits that lie within the ads you see on Facebook. Facebook offers microtargeted ad campaigns where most target a small audience with customized messages. However, Facebook is now encouraging businesses to expand their audience base by testing different microtargeting standards. You can start with a large audience and then use Facebook ad analytics to see who is clicking on your ads. Although these initial ads will be someone broad, they will give you a brand new audience. Once you know who is clicking on the ads in your first test, you can start creating customized messages.
  1. Facebook Insight – If you have a Facebook brand page (aka a Facebook page for your business), you will have access to Facebook Insight. Facebook Insight is a way to gather information about your followers. You can learn where they are from, their age, what other companies they follow, etc. You might be surprised to find that most of your followers on Facebook are kids between the ages of 13 to 18. This will help you realize that you should change your promotions and advertisements to things that would appeal to this age group; an age group you may not have expected.
  1. Facebook Junkies – Many businesses are starting to offer promotions via their Facebook pages, and users are starting to catch onto this and pay attention. Facebook is a medium where approximately 845 million people feel comfortable (or at least take notice), so it makes sense that more and more people are turning to Facebook to learn about new businesses and find some great deals. Many people don’t even bother looking online anymore because they know they can look on Facebook. They are already using Facebook to chat with their friends, so when your company pops up on their feed their bound to give it a look. This is an entirely new audience that would have likely never found you had you not been an active member of the Facebook community.

How to Get Started with a Facebook Page for Your Brand

Whether you’re just starting a business or trying something new with your well-established business, Facebook brand pages are extremely easy to setup and use. Simply visit Create a Facebook Page and then enter in all the information required (city, description, type of company, etc.). Once you have your page setup, it will ask you if you have a Facebook account. If you do not, you have to click “I do not have a Facebook account” and then enter in your email address. This is a way to make sure that the right person has access to the account, so use an email address you know you will have forever.

You can also connect your blog to your Facebook page so that every time you upload a new blog post, it will update onto your Facebook page. You can do this through Twitterfeed. Once you’re set to go, you will have the option of writing status updates or connecting with customers and clients. The site will take you through all the steps and features of Facebook, so it’s easy to get started.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to VoIP phone service. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including government small business loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.

 

 


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