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What makes the Perfect Post?

We all know that social media success comes from engagement and content. And that varied statistics guide us into developing what we consider a good Facebook post that will result in wide reach, immediate engagement, and hopefully a future sale… but is there such a thing as the Perfect Facebook Post?

The argument is a good one. In my opinion, every business is different with a different audience. A Facebook message is asking something unique from that audience to show that their message was effective – so how can you judge the perfect post based on all these variables? OR if you follow all of the advice and research you can read without going crazy, you could actually create the perfect post.

The guys at SocialMouths think they have the answer for the perfect post and created a really awesome infographic  based on research from TrackMaven that analyzed 1.5 million posts across 6,000 pages. Here is the answer to our dreams…

Word Count
The results show that posts with 80-89 words get double the engagement that those with 70-79 words. However, don’t be afraid to share what you need to with your audience, regardless of word count.

Visual Content
According to analysis, posts with photos get an average of 2.35 interactions per post versus text-only posts. Of course you need to consider that 88% of Facebook posts do have an image.

After Hours
Posting after hours (5pm – 1am EST) can get you 11% more interactions than those published during work hours. Makes sense, since most people are trolling the web outside of work and daily activities.

Weekends
Posts published on Sunday can get 25% more likes, comments and shares than those published on Wednesday, yet only 18% of the total posts are published on weekends.

Hashtags
Posts with hashtags see an average of 60% more interactions. #NowIKnow

Questions
Of course you would expect a question to increase engagement (by about 23%). That does not mean every post should be a question or poll. When you’re writing on a topic, you can use a question to generate engagement and expand the conversation.

Infographic
Because image and content are king!

The perfect Facebook post

Catalogs Adapt New Purpose in Marketing Mix

stackedcatalogsWell, if they say that print is dying than catalogs must be a thing of the past… but not really. While many catalogs are no longer printed but available in digital format, the concept behind them continues to hold A LOT of value in marketing.

In many cases, catalogs are no longer considered part of the selling channel yet they still hold value in sharing in depth details about products and services. This survey had great answers to why companies (both B2B and B2C ) still use them in targeting customers.

The 2014 Multichannel Merchant Outlook Survey reported that ecommerce websites at the top channel through which merchants market (90%), followed by social media (87.4%) and email (83%). Still 51.7% of retailers that responded said they do use catalogs to promote their brands. – Get the full report coverage here.

So unless you have a limited breadth of products where a direct mail campaign would be more appropriate, acquiring customers with catalogs statistically increases response rates, average order size and drives repeat purchases. The top three answers for catalog usage today are mobile traffic driver, customer retention tool and web traffic driver.

Catalogs also have a renewed purpose in prospecting. More than three-quarters of merchant respondents said catalogs were a top choice for their  prospecting strategy in the next 12-months. And more than 52% of companies planned to increase their catalog circulation by up to 20% in 2014.

The style and size of catalogs are changing too. While the number of pages have dropped dramatically in the past 10 years, the page counts seem to be leveling off with more than half of respondents expecting catalog page counts and frequency of distribution to remain the same from last year. It’s not all about quantity of pages though, some companies are selecting better paper quality and creating a tactile experience.

QR codes also hold value in catalogs, more than half the merchants use them. The codes mostly linking to a product page (54.8%) or video (13.7%).

But do these changes really make catalogs effective?
YES! A little over 66% claimed key code capture proved effectiveness and over 60% used a match back program. Often catalogs are part of a multimedia program targeting customers which makes true evaluation for each mailing difficult.

Catalogs are also adapting to digital formats – allowing users to easily find what they saw in print and more. Some choose to only offer a PDF digital version that customers can zoom in, share on social media and have one click shopping.

The fact remains that customers need prompting to purchase and catalogs are a good format for prospecting sales and driving traffic to a website.

Do you still find a benefit in providing a catalog for your customers? How have you changed the role of catalogs in the marketing mix?

Social Media Trends Update

According to Forbes, there were 7 Social Media trend predictions made just before 2014… and they’ve taken the time to analyze how accurate they were in predicting how companies are marketing their brands so far this year.

Prediction 1:  Investment in Social Media will become a Necessity, not a Luxury.
Yes, this seems true… and quite obvious. The importance for brands to engage with its customers online ,through Facebook, Twitter, et al, is increasingly critical as more consumers spend their “free” time on those channels and not with traditional media (print and television). And while 92% of businesses say that social media is important to their business, the challenges become showing ROI for the marketing investment to the board and having talented staff to engage and maximize the online conversation.

Prediction 2:  Google+ will become a major factor.
Umm, not so much. Yes, 61% of businesses are planning on increasing their Google+ activities, however changes in the platform are making it difficult to be cost-effective in communicating effectively with targets when brands must first establish Author Rank and authority for content.

Prediction 3:  Image-centric Networks will see huge success.
Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram are seeing steady increases in number of uses and activity on their platforms. Brands continue to find creative ways of engaging their customers and as a result both the companies and Social Media have found success.

Prediction 4: The rise of Micro-video.
Brands that use micro-video platforms, like Vine and Instagram video, can stand out by simplifying their message. While both platforms are currently hot with uses, Instagram is definitely providing a greater return on content engagement.

Prediction 5:  Foursquare will decline sharply.
In an effort to re-invigorate the dying platform, Foursquare recently split its app into two: The original Foursquare, and its new app, Swarm. Swarm allows users to easily find friends without the need to “check-in” and giving recommendations based on personalized usage and searching.

Prediction 6:  Myspace will grow.
While the once popular platform is still around and loved on the music scene, the slow increase in visitors is not much compare to the activity on Facebook, Twitter and even Google+… expect more changes as they try to remain competitive.

Prediction 7:  LinkedIn will become a major player for B2B business growth.
Yes, LinkedIn is the primary network for businesses, particularly B2B. Company page usage increased from 24% to 57% so far this year. Amazingly I think this trend is only going to grow as more B2B brands and professionals use the network.

What trends are you seeing? Has anything surprised you about consumer social media usage?

 

 

 

Give Your Next Post a Visual Boost

social_networkingWhile we could debate on whether or not a picture is really worth a thousand words, when it comes to social media, a picture CAN give your post a visual boost resulting in more likes, shares and reach.

All the latest studies and statistics suggest that images on social media commend more attention than text alone… so multimedia becomes a key element in successful online communication.

How many ways can you make a photo or video part of your next post? Let’s think about it.

The Product Shot
Every business and brand has a product to display, so don’t just talk about the benefits and features – show it off in pictures. The more, the better.

The Team Picture
Take pictures of your colleagues on a regular basis – at work, with clients, at a trade show, on the next ad campaign shoot –  and share them with your audience. It humanizes your business/brand behind a real face and something your audience can relate with.  People like to do business with people, so the more they feel like they’re part of your business, the stronger the connection to your brand.

The Spotlight on Your Fans
Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame – why not give it to them! By highlighting fans and followers, it shows you care about them being part of your brand and ambassadors for it. Give them a bigger stage, Retweet them, Tag them, Make it all about them – you’ll get more loyalty in return.

The Peek Behind the Scenes
Provide your audiences with the occasional exclusive experience, something they can’t get anywhere else, like a big reveal or look into what goes on behind closed door meetings (this would work for B2B audiences too). Take them backstage or show them how your products are built.

The Action Shot
While a team picture may be posed, your action shots are of you and your fellow team members actually doing what you do best. It doesn’t matter where you are – speaking at podium, swinging a bat, or in front of the computer – capture your people in the act of doing their jobs.

The Graphic
Creating your own visuals from scratch is a unique way to add variety and call more attention to your posts. Use PowerPoint, Photoshop PicMonkey and other tools to add special effects and text to the image you share. Or, if you have real data to share – make your own infographic!

The Spontaneous Shot
Capitalize on social media’s ability to connect with customers in real time. Share impromptu, candid shots of you and your team in the  moment. What’s happening now is far more credible and commanding on social media than old news.

The Collage
Twitter’s new mobile feature let you upload four photos in a single tweet or you can always rely on the aforementioned photo tools to edit your pics into a collage for sharing.

The Selfie
Of course, the Hollywood favorite, because we can’t get enough of ourselves doing what we do, the Selfie.

The Moving Picture
Yeah, remember when I mentioned multimedia – that means VIDEO  too! Right before you snap that group shot or selfie, take some video or just make a video to answer your customers FAQ. Not every video will be a viral hit, but if it educates and/or entertains your customers then you have something worth sharing.

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, snap away and give your next posts some extra boost.

Adapt these habits if you seek high success in PR

Do you strive to do your best every day? Can you communicate your clients message with its most important audiences? Ever wonder what it takes to be highly successful in public relations?

Well, I have. This article from the PR News blog had tapped into the best public relations professionals and thousands of leaders to develop this list of 9 Habits of Highly Effective PR People.

Do you have some of these qualities already?

1. Listen hard: Focus on key conversations and jot down what you heard, because you think you’ll remember the key takeaways but you wont.

2. Speak the local language: understand the lingo of the communities and markers you serve and learn their language.The nuances can make a difference in your campaign.

3. Read until your eyes hurt: Reading stirs your imagination, helps you to become a better writer and keeps you well informed.

4. Embrace measurement: you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

5. Become a subject matter expert: Find a niche, study it, live it and become the go-to expert on that niche.

6. Practice your math: Knowing how to read a Profit/Loss statement, build and execute on a budget, how to calculate growth and decline will position your for leadership, and improve your PR initiatives.

7. Hone your writing skills: how you write is often how you’re perceived in the field of communications, if you can’t articulate our message in writing, you can’t go from Good to Great.

8. Master your Social: Social media is not a strategy, its a platform. Understand it and use it regularly, but don’t forget about communicating and networking in person and by phone – it holds more long-term value for you as a PR leader.

9. Be a PR advocate:

Public Relations often suffers from an image problem; PR is not just about pitching to the media or bitching about the media; it’s one of the most important disciplines within an organization. Advocate for your profession – and the best way to do that is by being a Great PR Person.

Some personal habit to add…

  • When a reporter bites get them whatever they want as fast as you can. Always be available to the press and follow up to thank them when they cover you.
  • Tell a story that moves people to act – share your ideas through words, written and spoken. Use visuals (share photos/video media when appropriate).
  • Build relationships with the media – when you need to tell your story, those relationships will get the job done.

I am always seeking new ways to improve how I communicate. What habits have made you a successful public relations agent?

 

Improve the ROI of Your Next Event

While digital marketing is changing the way we reach and engage our audiences, research shows that face-to-face contact is still how business gets done. Events are effective, but because of long sales cycles and multiple customer touchpoints, quantifying their success is more challenging.

This article from ClickZ  outlines several ideas for measuring the success of your next in-person event… and relates it to attributable revenue. I’ll list a few of my favorite tips below along with some my own.

  • Number of leads/business cards collected.
    Expert tip suggests jotting down a personal note (his son plays violin) and professional note (he’s interested in XYZ services) on the back of each card. This makes it easier for you and your team to follow-up and stand out from others after the event.
  • Number of attendees. How many people were there? how does that compare to your goal?
  • Attendee composition. Are you reaching the right people? If 70% or more of the people were in your target audience, you’ve done well.
  • Revenue. Suggest putting attendees into company system and tag them as attendees for this event. Do a baseline pull after the event, then every three months to see how revenue among those accounts grew above forecast.
  • Generate Feedback. The feedback you get right away at the end of an event is different from what you’ll hear once attendees have gone home, mulled over it, discussed it with coworkers, and crystallized their thinking. So field a questionairre card during the event and send a followup email two days later.
    **Keep surveys short (more more than seven rating scale questions) and Ask about overall satisfaction with the event, favorite/least favorite sessions. Offer an incentive like a gift bag at event after survey complete, then a free ebook/webinar to increase response rate with follow up survey.
  • Meetings Booked. Look beyond attendee counts to track the number of follow-up meetings you were able to secure within 30 days of the event.
  • Downloads, view and share. What you content accessible online after the event? How much of a role did social media have before, during and after the event? Track downloads of material and quality of conversations with sources like HootSuite and Facebook/Twitter analytics. Also if you are going to offer original content, gate the download to capture their contact information first.
  • Increased Engagement rates. Track the bump in your open rate, click-through rate, website visits and share rates after the event.
  • Sales Feedback. Through you may not always like your employees feedback, its better to ask and make improvements than to not ask and risk making the same event mistakes. Surveying your internal attendees could help bolster or provide counterpoint to other survey feedback, ensuring your next event will be more successful.

And finally, think about how many attendees come to your next event? Repeat attendance and new guests via word of  mouth is the best marketing to start your next event right.

What have you found to be effective ways for measuring your ROI after events? Would you agree with these or do you think there are other factors to consider?

Measuring B2B Online Content Success

As a B2B online marketer, you’ve already realized that while the channels are the same for reaching the everyday consumer, your strategy in reaching YOUR target audience is distinctly different. That’s not to say you can’t still be successful in creating and delivering valuable content to your target audience.

social_networkingLike most businesses with an online presence, your goals fall somewhere in these areas: brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition, thought leadership,  engagement (customer loyalty and retention), and increasing website traffic. But does telling the C-suite how many likes, retweets and shared messages you had in the past six-months mean anything to the bottom line? This great article from Content Marketing World gives basic advice for how you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing content.

For brand awareness, metrics from Google Analytics show strong indicators of content marketing success, but it does not always illustrate the reach of the content that’s developed and promoted. More effective benchmarks for analyzing your brand awareness include keyword reports, webmaster tools and social media post performance.

The Google Webmaster Tool suite improves your ability to review traffic, especially with lack of keyword referral data from Google Analytics. For an overview of the clicks and impressions your site is generating, use Webmaster Tools navigate to Search Traffic – Queries – Top Pages. You’ll want to record the impressions, clicks and keywords from organic search results these web pages have received. **NOTE: this data is only accessible for 90 days, so you should export info periodically to build out trending data.

Bing Webmaster Tools provide similar data in association to Bing search engine results. Once registered, you can use Reports & Data- Page Traffic to monitor visitor trends.

Social Media platforms also offer a variety of tracking data which help prove reach and engagement of your online content. When reviewing this data, significant metrics for post performance include:Facebook – individual post performance and comprehensive data exports
Twitter – performance activity (favorites, replies, retweets)
LinkedIn – visitor types, impressions and engagement percentages of company updates

As we move onto the most effective ways to monitor thought leadership and engagement are similar, first, consider your social shares. Paying attention to the volume of sharing across your platforms can be an important indicator for establishing improvements in thought leadership and broader engagement levels. Other resources like SharedCount and RavenTools provide simple-to-evaluate dashboards for insight on shared posts and mentions.

Also inbound link performance helps establish the ties between quality content and attribution by third parties. Inbound link reports from Webmaster Tools enable you to review third-party sites linking in, as well as specific inbound links on individual pages. So what does this mean to you?? When relevant audiences and influencers share and link to your content, you will be able to see how many additional likes and reach your message has among targeted audiences.

Finally, web page referral reports can help identify the specific sources of traffic to your site from various landing pages. The “Secondary Dimension” filter helps define the source and specific domains that sent traffic to that web page.

There are many other methods and metrics that can be recorded and tracked from your website and social media platforms. These should give you a good place to start when evaluating your content marketing goals.