Category: Social

Selling via Social Media: How to Start

People are buying things on social media. They’re browsing Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, seeing things they like and buying them then and there.

What about your customers? Are they buying your products on social media? Would they shop from your Facebook page if they could?

A few years ago, the idea of getting conversions directly from social media seemed like something unachievable. You were perhaps seeing social media assisting conversions, but it was rarely the last click. Anecdotally, the idea was people were too busy looking at friends’ photos, following celebrities, stalking ex partners and posting their own content, to bother interrupting all of this to go and buy something.

However, social shopping is on the rise, with plenty of existing options for setting up shop on your social media channels, and many more developments coming soon.

If you sell online, here’s what you need to know.

Pinterest

Pinterest launched “Buyable Pins” way back in 2015, offering Pinterest users the option to buy products they’d seen on Pinterest directly through the Pinterest app. Unfortunately, this feature isn’t available for UK retailers yet. However, there’s another option UK businesses have for capturing shoppers on Pinterest – implementing Rich Pins.

The Ikea Pin in the feed here is a “Rich Pin”

The Pin itself shows the price and availability

Rich Pins is what Pinterest is calling Pins that have added value information. Set these up and whenever you, or a customer, pins a product from your website they’ll be able to see additional information like the price and if the item is in stock.

This information could lead to more people clicking through to your website via Pinterest and making a purchase.

Check out Pinterest’s guide to setting up Rich Pins.

Instagram

Instagram offers businesses the option to tag products within the user feed and through Instagram stories. With the product page being within five taps.

On the user profile page, shoppable items have a bag icon, plus a “shop” section in the menu.

On the post itself, you click the shopping bag to view the products

 

Tapping a specific item will take you to a product information page within Instagram.

The final tap for those ready to buy is to “view on website” and make the purchase.

Within Instagram stories, it’s a similar story, with a shoppable icon and product title being shown first:

Tapping the icon / title opens up the option to “see details”

Then you’re onto the same product page you see when you click through from the Instagram feed.

As with Pinterest, there are steps to take to set this up, including having a Business Account on Instagram, a connected Facebook page and a product feed. You can find more information on the technical setup here.

 

Facebook

Businesses can set up a “Shop” tab on their Facebook pages which can get people from Facebook onto your website to buy the product in three clicks.

Set up your shop and your products will be displayed in a grid.

Clicking a product opens up further details and the crucial link to your website to buy.

Check out Facebook’s guide to adding a shop to your business page.

 

What you should do about it

Ok now you know what social shopping tools are available for you to use, but before you rush off and set it all up, here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Consider your social audience
    Setting up your products so they’re ready to shop socially is just the start. You need to think about your audience, and in particular your audience size. If your following is very small, you’re not going to see the benefit of having shoppable products. You should consider a strategy to build up your following and get your social shopping posts reaching a wider audience. This could involve running some paid media campaigns to boost your following, or trying tactics like running competitions.
  2. Optimise your product images.
    Your product images will be key to securing those all-important clicks on social media. The images which work well on your website might not be the right ones for Pinterest’s grid, or maybe you’ll shoot some photos of multiple products so you can tag each one in via Instagram.Either way, make them as attractive as possible for each social audience and, if you can, test them to see what works and what doesn’t. You can use each social channel’s reporting tools to see which images are getting the most impressions and clicks and make your decisions from there.
  3. Invest in your tracking
    Each social network has their own internal tracking systems and you may need to set up some custom tracking to make sure your sales are being tracked accurately in Google Analytics – or whichever web analytics platform you’re using. Social Media Examiner has an in depth guide on this: Tracking Social Media Traffic using Google Analytics.It’s well worth investing the time in this to make sure you’re seeing the true return from social, whether that’s sales directly from social media, or sales where social is assisting.

 

Using the social shopping tools available for free is a great opportunity to sell more products, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Even if you don’t have the resource to set up all your products, select your best sellers and see if social works for them.

If you want to talk social media, online shopping or paid media, call us on 0161 956 8963

Should I work with influencers? And how do I even start?

social media influencer recording a video
Influencers. If you market yourself in the digital space chances are you’ve heard of them. They’re seemingly everywhere. And they’re not just confined to industries like fashion and beauty either. There are influencers working with all types of businesses, from DIY blogs, to sports and nutrition “gurus”, restaurant bloggers, money saving influencers. Whatever your business is, there’s likely to be an influencer who your target audience engages with.

Big brands are increasingly investing more and more of their marketing budgets into working with influencers and a lot of small businesses are following suit too.

So just where do you even start with putting an influencer marketing campaign together? Here’s a guide to follow.

What even is an influencer?

Influencers aren’t a new concept. They’ve been around long before the days on the internet, they just went by a different name: celebrities. Celebrities who found fame through music, sport, acting and other high profile professions, used their fame to work with brands and sell more than just their latest album/film/whatever. Celebrity endorsements is still a huge part of many marketing campaigns.

But what about non-celebrity influencers? Well, you probably have a few in your social circle – that friend who’s always ahead of the curve, buying the latest technology before it becomes popular, being into the newest bands, the trendsetter who’s already visited that new holiday destination and inspired you to do the same.

It’s this “friend” vibe that sets today’s influencers apart from celebrities. Thanks to the intimacy of social media publishing, people can feel like influencers are trusted friends. The official term for this is a parasocial relationship; the audience comes to feel like the influencer is someone whose recommendations they’ll follow, someone they genuinely like and feel an affinity with, even though the influencer doesn’t necessarily directly interact with them, . Today’s online influencers can seem more relatable than a big celebrity with a life so far removed from their audiences.

Is Influencer Marketing The Right Move?

Item 1 on the checklist: should you be doing influencer marketing in the first place? I said earlier there was most likely an influencer who’s reaching the target audience of most business types, no matter how niche. But just because the audience is there, that doesn’t necessarily mean you jump straight in.

Ideally, working with influencers needs to be considered as part of your wider marketing strategy. Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget, chances are you’ve got to choose your campaigns wisely and keep your eye on the return on investment.

Struggling to make a decision on whether to put budget into influencers? Take a step back and start with your marketing goals. Research your target audiences, and consider other ways you could reach them aside from influencers, so you can compare. Can you get a better return on investment using another channel?

I’d also advise doing some competitor research. Are your competitors working with influencers? Is it working? You obviously won’t be able to see the financial results, but the great thing about social media is that brand collaborations are there in place sight for all to see. What’s the engagement like? Do you think you could be doing a better job?

Find the right influencers for you

Ok so you’ve decided influencer marketing is something you’d like to try. Time to find some influencers to work with. Remember, the focus should be on your target audience – whose YouTube videos are they watching? Which Instagrammers are they engaging with? Do the research, ask your existing customers. The responses might surprise you, the “influencers” you had in mind for your campaigns might be completely different to the ones your target audiences are following.

There are tools and searchable databases online which can help you with your search for influencers. Facebook is even trialling an “influencer search engine” for marketers. And if all else fails, run some basic searches across social media channels and the ones which come up first will give you an indication of who’s the most influential on various topics.

Influencer Evaluation

You should hopefully have a shortlist of potential influencers now, and you’ll probably have realised it’s hard to compare. There’s possibly a few on your list with 100s of thousands of followers – they’re probably going to be more expensive to work with than an influencer with 10s of thousands. And perhaps you have some on your list with less than 10,000 followers, or less than 5,000.

The key thing here is to look beyond the numbers. “Fake” influencers are a concern. They’re influencers who have bought followers in bulk to make themselves seem more popular and influential than they really are. Tools like Socialblade offer one way to check for influencers buying followers, but you can also use your common sense. Look at their posts, take a look at how many likes and comments they’re getting. Huge follower numbers with low engagement rates are a red flag.

Mega Influencers or Micro Influencers

Ok let’s go back to the follower numbers for a moment. You’ve probably heard of the term “micro influencers” – this is often used to refer to influencers with a smaller (typically less than 10,000 followers), but heavily engaged following. Mega influencers is a phrase I’m not sure is widely used, but I’m using it here to refer to influencers with big followings, I’m talking 50k+ into the millions.

In an ideal world, you’d have the budget to work with all types of influencers, but in reality, chances are you don’t have that option. So who do you work with?

To make this decision, take it back to the objectives of your campaign. If you want one-time exposure on a huge scale, it might be best to sink all your budget into 2 or 3 mega influencers. If you want longer term exposure to an audience, then a micro influencer might get you the best return on investment.

What are the options for influencer campaigns?

Influencers chosen, now what? How do you want to work with them? What are the options? Just send them some free stuff and hope they’ll write about you? That’s a risky tactic and your offering is likely to get lost in all the other free stuff they’re receiving!

Your first port of call should be to read these guidelines from the Advertising Standards Authority because however you choose to work with influencers, if money, goods or services are exchanged with the influencer in return for something, then you’re going to have to disclose this to their audience.

In terms of options, again I’ll refer you back to your campaign objectives. Decide what you want to achieve and work with your influencers to agree on the best way to get there. I’d advise treating the influencer as if they were a freelancer working for you – set out your brief, work with them, agree on deadlines and payments, and most importantly get everything agreed in writing. This will help keep both you and the influencers on track and ensure a return on investment for both parties.

A few examples of ways to work with influencers include:

  • Offering them products or services to trial in return for creating and sharing social media/YouTube/Blog content about the product or service.
  • Paying them to create and share content about your products.
  • Hosting events to showcase your products/services to influencers

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Celebrating the launch of @1821bar in Shoreditch this week with a delicious @luxardo_uk Cherry Negroni. ? The history of the family-owned Luxardo brand is fascinating (founded nearly 200 years ago) and so is the variety of products they make near Padua in Italy: from Maraschino (a marasca cherry distillate) to Sour Cherry Gin, Amaretto, Limoncello and many more. I love their Maraschino cherries, so good I was eating them straight out the jar! ? You’ll find the pop-up Bar 1821 at 147 Bethnal Green Road (just off Brick Lane) until the 9th September. And the first 50 people to use the code GIULIA1821 at the bar will get a free cocktail (offer valid until 24th August) #LoveLuxardo #drinkresponsibly #ad

A post shared by Giulia Mulè (@mondomulia) on

How do you make contact with them?

Many of the big influencers have “agents” or managers who deal with all the requests they receive. Others run the show on their own, alongside full-time jobs and family commitments. Either way, be professional in your approach, whether the first method of contact is a social media Direct Message, or an email.

You may need to get creative with your opening line to grab their attention. Tom Chapman, CandidSky’s Publishing Specialist, who regularly reaches out to publishers to pitch ideas and collaborations for clients advises:

Get a good understanding of what your influencer enjoys covering. A ‘mummy influencer’ is going to be searching for angles to do with parenting and work/life balances. Search through what they’ve previously covered and try to focus on a unique approach.

“Do this, and you’re already better than the vast majority of offers they receive.”

Final three things to remember

In essence, to get your influencer campaigns flying remember these three things:

  1. Audience Targeting
  2. Setting Objectives
  3. Keeping your return on investment in mind

Checklist complete! Now you’re ready to go. If you’re in need of some ideas and inspiration for how you could be working with influencers, get in touch with the CandidSky strategy team now on 0161 956 8963.

Why you should be using video to attract and retain customers

Video views have surged in the past few years, which is largely due to the advances of smartphones, social media and improved connectivity speeds. However, it is only recently that businesses have capitalised on the emerging opportunity, with 65% of businesses who aren’t currently using video planning to do so in 2018.

But why should businesses invest in video production?

Despite what you may think, it’s not just cat videos that gain high engagement on the internet.

Ask yourself, would you be more likely to buy a product if you are delivered a long blurb about how great a product is or if you had watched an informative video? If you would rather watch a video, you are probably in the 74% of people who have bought a product after watching a high-quality explainer video. In addition, if you are able to create a video which is engaging, informative and relevant to your audience, you are placing yourself as a thought-leader which increases trust and the likelihood of a user converting on your website.

On the other hand, if you are not currently seen as a thought leader in your industry, a great way of gaining exposure is to collaborate with publications and influencers in the industry. Doing this will help increase the audience reach, add unique insights and improve the perceived quality of your video content.

23andMe partnered with Buzzfeed to showcase their product through video

Another benefit of creating videos for your business is the ability to use them across your marketing. For example, you could place an explainer video on your product page, while also using it to attract engagements on social media and improve click-throughs for your email campaigns. A recent study from Hubspot found emails that include videos experience 200-300% increases in click-through rate compared with those that don’t. So by ignoring video, you’re potentially losing a considerable number of customers.

If you want to successfully deliver your message and ensure it sticks in the memory of your audience, you may need to incorporate video in your content strategy. As our brains evolve in this ever changing digital landscape, only 10% of information is retained from text, whereas studies have found that 95% of a message is retained through video. Therefore if you want to improve your awareness, there is probably no better way than creating branded videos.

“I have created a promotional video but it isn’t receiving any views”

Many businesses create outstanding videos but fail to get them viewed by their target audience. This is why it is imperative to have a clear purpose for the video prior to creating it, with measurable goals and a strategy in place to achieve them.

If you are creating a video for promotional purposes, we would recommend hosting it on YouTube, which is the site with the second highest traffic in the world after Google. Not only does this provide an opportunity to reach your audience through the platform, it also provides an opportunity to gain visibility through Google in a video carousel, which has started to appear more since an update in June.

Google SEO video carousel

Improving your search visibility through video will result in a higher possibility of reaching people who are researching for products or services, and allow you to educate a user on why they require your product or service. Plus, once your video is live on YouTube, it is easy to use the video as part of your overall marketing strategy, reaching as relevant a target audience as possible.

In addition, high-quality videos are a great way to engage your existing customers and we would highly recommend publishing videos across your social channels multiple times to reach and engage with as many existing customers as possible. This may result in increased repeat purchase and increased confidence in your brand.

What does the future look like for video?

There are huge opportunities for businesses to capitalise on in an ever-changing digital landscape, not least with Facebook launching 360 degree video functionalities last year, and the growth of Instagram stories and IGTV.

A 360 degree test video in the CandidSky offices

We are also able to create videos which are more creative than ever with tech such as drones and easy to use video editing software. As a result, there is no longer space in the market for poor qulality videos and consumers demands are expected to increase further in the next few years. A recent study showed that 61% of users were put off buying a product due to a poor quality explainer video, which shows the power that video has on a users journey in 2018.    

In addition, there are huge opportunities emerging from advances in AR (augmented reality) technologies, which we expect to have an impact on how we interact with customers in the future, and will undoubtedly have an impact on what customers expect from your business.

Finally, we have witnessed the attention span of users decrease in recent years and millenials are demanding video content that grabs their attention in the first 5 second of a video. As such, when creating a video, we need to ensure it has a powerful message which is delivered in an engaging manner – quickly. This is why we recommend concentrating on quality over quantity when it comes to all content created for business purposes, otherwise, you could be setting yourself up to fail.

How to get started

Video should be a small piece of your overall marketing strategy and should align with your business’ goals and objectives. If you are new to video production, we strongly recommend speaking to an expert, such as CandidSky, to ensure you deliver your message effectively, make sure it aligns with your wider marketing strategy and reflects your brand voice.

Example of some short animations CandidSky created as part of a content marketing strategy for Peninsula.

 

LinkedIn or LinkedOut – how to get the most out of LinkedIn for your business

With  250 million monthly active users, LinkedIn is a valuable B2B platform which can effectively promote your company, grow revenue, and add value to customers as well as employees. If you’re stumped on how to improve your brand visibility using LinkedIn, here are some tried and tested approaches:

Company Page:
Think of your company page as being as important as your website. For many people, LinkedIn will be the first place they interact with your business. The imagery, content, and style of this page reflects your brand, creating that all-important positive initial impression. Therefore, make sure your company details are all up-to-date and any content on the listing clearly explains your product offering and how you’re superior to competitors.   

You can also publish ‘Showcase Pages’ which are dedicated to specific products and services. That means you can publish content which appeals to different audience segments.

If you want to see a great example of how this works, LinkedIn leads the way with their spectacular showcase. Conveniently, it is also full of great tips and step-by-step instructions to setting up and optimising your company page.

Recruitment firm Hays has also produced a great company page. Their company statement clearly defines what they stand for and they also post regular useful content to aid job hunters.

Paid advertising:

As Facebook changes their algorithms following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and reduces how advertising works on the platform, marketers are understandably looking to focus their spend and efforts on alternatives.

LinkedIn marketing boasts impressive conversion rates in comparison to other social media networks like Facebook and offers a variety of advertising formats such as text ads, sponsored content as well as inbox mail.

These highly targeted advertising options ensure you’re reaching your defined audience and allows you to nurture their development through the buying process.

You can see the approach that Oracle has taken with their sponsored content below, leading with a prominent image and concise text. 

Advertising jobs

A free way to advertise any positions within your business is through posting on your company wall. Although this allows for applicants to approach you directly, there is also the opportunity to use LinkedIn as a wider hiring platform. For example, by using paid postings, you can set job adverts and control these through daily budgets. As a bonus, you’re only charged when a candidate views the post.

As LinkedIn is actively used by job seekers, it is a no-brainer to feature any positions you have on the platform.

Here is how Talk Talk use their Linkedin Company page to host their available positions.



Articles:
LinkedIn has a dedicated ‘Publishing’ section where anyone can publish an article on any topic. Articles can’t be published by a company itself as it has to be from an individual, but there is obviously the connection back to the company as an employee.

This is often called ‘thought leadership’ content you can effectively open up a dialogue with customers and position yourself as an authoritative figure to solve your customers’ problems Articles then remain on the personal profile of the publisher.

Wrapping up:

Don’t forget that through the analytics section of LinkedIn, you can also gain crucial customer insights into your followers and see how your content is performing in terms of engagement. In turn, you can use this information to improve your marketing strategy.

Armed with this knowledge, we hope you have everything necessary to improve your own company profile and enhance your business’ LinkedIn marketing efforts. Of course, if you’re really stuck, our CandidSky page has some great features.

Closing Wetherspoons’ social media accounts – madness or genius?

social media

 

Last week, pub chain Wetherspoons used Twitter to announce it was quitting social media, closing their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. With more than 100,000 followers on Facebook and 44,000 on Twitter, why wouldn’t Wetherspoons want to communicate with their customers?  Social media is one of the main avenues of customer communication in the 21st Century, so how could such a move be justified?

Quite easily apparently.

In interviews with the BBC, Chairman Tim Martin appeared to give two main reasons for his decision:

  1. Public backlash against social media

Mr Martin stated on radio that if people “limited their social media to half an hour a day, they’d be mentally and physically better off”. Furthermore, the decision was reportedly influenced by bad publicity regarding the networks. For example, data misuse, potential addiction, and internet trolls.

  1. Social media didn’t work for Wetherspoons

According to Mr Martin, “We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers” by using social media for advertising. Moreover, at least 90% of Wetherspoons’ pub managers reportedly felt that these platforms were not beneficial for the business.

In my opinion, the decision to close social media accounts for the ‘greater good’ seems a little weak, seeing as people will still use social media regardless if Wetherspoons is active on these channels or not.

However, when it comes to poor returns, that sort of makes sense.

What could Wetherspoons have done differently?

When considering social media as an effective marketing tool, it’s extremely common to find a variety of conflicting statements and viewpoints. Our profession is no different. Indeed, strategies are often written off as ‘dead’ or not working as well as they used to.

Sometimes, this is indisputably true. Yet, in most of these situations, that person has just not been doing this strategy correctly. In the case of Wetherspoons, they could have improved their actions through social media by making a few alterations:

Employing a dedicated social media expert

Many of Wetherspoons’ estimated 900 pubs had their own separate Facebook pages. Mr Martin’s statement suggests the accounts were run by the managers themselves. These individuals were trained to keep pubs operational, not run a social media account.

Perhaps this is why the organisation’s actions on social media didn’t gather much attention. According to Marketing Week, the average tweet from Wetherspoons generated six retweets and four likes. To put this in perspective, the firm serves three million pints every week.

Clearly, social media wasn’t working as well as it could for the organisation. A dedicated social media expert could have turned this around.

Centralising accounts

Each pub having a dedicated Facebook page creates an operational nightmare, requiring a large team to keep updated. It might have been more beneficial for these accounts to centralise into one dedicated Wetherspoons feed.

This would have made social media much easier to manage and allowed staff to focus on serving customers. Furthermore, as many of the individual pub pages on Facebook had fewer than 1,000 likes, combining these into a central account would have increased followers – making social media posts more likely to be seen across newsfeeds.

 

Resolving poor reviews and bad press

Many of Wetherspoons’ individual pub pages on Facebook were dominated by poor reviews. Some of these discussing poor quality of service, problems with food, or complaints about staff. While this empowered the public, it didn’t do the chain any favours.

Based on this reason alone, shutting down social media accounts could be a wise move. Furthermore, the organisation has had to deal with a variety of ‘fake news’ online. For example, last year, a spoof account on Twitter claimed Wetherspoons staff had been prohibited from wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

Deciding on a social media strategy

While an expert would have ensured this, Wetherspoons did not seem to have a dedicated social media strategy in place. This would have revealed effective metrics to measure as well as the aims of using these networks. Instead, the organisation seemed to be largely using social media as an additional way to communicate with customers.

Will this decision backfire?

Shutting down Wetherspoons’ social media accounts was a brave business decision. However, given the levels of interaction which the organisation achieved online, it’s unlikely to lose customers. With a few changes though, their social media strategy could have been so much more.

Competitors should pay close attention to this choice and look to their own actions across the networks. Potentially, there could be an opportunity to prove just how effective a marketing tool for pubs these could be.

The real danger comes in the form of SEO. When Wetherspoons shuts down its social media accounts, it will create thousands of broken links. Assuming redirects aren’t implemented, savvy competitors could attempt to get these links pointing to them instead.

Furthermore, as we have already seen, hoax accounts could appear claiming to be Wetherspoons. Without a dedicated social media team, it will be difficult to police and combat these threats.

Regardless, these are all potential problems for Wetherspoons to sort out. It will take months to determine if deactivating social media worked for them.

Will more companies start to delete their social media channels?

Businesses and social media appear to, at times, have an increasingly antagonistic relationship. For example, Unilever threatened to withdraw their adverts from platforms such as Facebook due to the presence of extremist and illegal material.

Other incidents include Microsoft’s chatbot ‘Tay’ being taught racism and HMV’s social media team live-tweeting a mass firing.

However, social media can do a lot of good if managed properly. If Wetherspoons devoted more thought to this, their accounts could have performed much better. The right strategy in place could have been deeply beneficial – it would also have highlighted which networks work best for customer interaction.

This decision – much like Wetherspoons itself – has been a controversial one. Time will reveal if it was the right one.

Shopping comes to Instagram

instagram shopping

Instagram has launched a new function for the platform which provides a more immersive experience for users and an exciting opportunity for e-commerce brands.

Shopping for Instagram enables you to tag up to five products per image (20 per carousel) which works in the same way as tagging a friend in an image but provides information on the cost of products.

As a user, you can tap the products for pricing, click for further information, and visit the business’ website when you’re ready to buy.

In 2017, Instagram announced that 120 million users had visited a website or directly contacted a business via the channel (source Instagram). What’s more Sprout Social’s 2017 Index found that 71% of users were more likely to make a purchase from a brand after a positive social experience.

The focus of Instagram is to share beautiful imagery that tells a story to users. Unlike Facebook, users tend to follow people and brands that they genuinely take an interest in and as such can be much more engaged. This new functionality makes it easier for brands to connect with their customers on a more immersive level and creates an easier path to purchase. Brands will start seeing a big increase in organic conversion rate as users will be able to make more informed decisions before they click to the site.

How has Instagram shopping performed?

The function has already been trialing in the US since last year and companies have seen some amazing results:

Tyme increased traffic by 44%

Spearmintlove revenue increased by 8%

Lulus grew their following on Instagram and generated over 1200 orders
Reference

Unfortunately, Instagram Shopping is not currently available for promoted ads – fingers crossed they will open this out for advertisers in future as it will provide huge opportunities for new and growing brands. Are you looking to take up Instagram shopping for your posts?

The feature is currently available for businesses in United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil.

Next steps

If you are looking to grow your social media marketing activity, please get in touch to discuss how we can add value to your business, even if you are just looking for some advice.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.


What I learned after downloading my Facebook data file

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I downloaded my Facebook personal data file, in an attempt to better understand the information which similar companies could have on me.

I found the experience to be a troubling one – albeit not exactly surprising. Suffice to say, the file contained more or less everything about me. From the photos I had uploaded to the organisation to reams of messaging history, it was a reminder that the internet – or at least Facebook – apparently never forgets.

How can I download my personal data?

If you want to take the plunge and download your personal data file, you can do so by logging onto Facebook, clicking ‘settings’, and then ‘download a copy of your Facebook data’.

general account settings

Depending on the size of the data file, you’ll receive a copy to your email in hopefully less than 30 minutes. It should resemble something similar to this:

data file

Files of note

There are several folders and files in this download. In my opinion, the ones which are of most interest are:

  • Index – a general snapshot of the information on your profile
  • Messages – a repository of the conversations, images, videos, files etc shared through Facebook
  • HTML – there are several interesting files located here – namely ads, contact_info, and messages. The latter being a thorough history of conversations.

Reviewing these, I learned several interesting things about my personal data.

There are false records

The index file contains more information than I would expect to find. For example, I wouldn’t expect previous relationships to be an important factor worth storing. Reviewing this field, I was surprised to see a name of someone I had never heard of. For the purposes of privacy, I will refer to this woman as Megan.

 

Looking into her own presence on Facebook, I was surprised to see Megan went to the same university I did.

Then it hit me.

Back in university, I was ‘Facebook hacked’. Instead of being some elaborate cybercrime, it was actually my stupid fault for staying logged on through a public computer. These students changed a lot of personal information including my relationship status – adding a name of someone I had never met.

Back at home, I corrected the information and changed my password – thinking nothing of it. Years later, Facebook still thinks Megan and I were in a relationship.

‘Facebook hacking’ was – and probably still is – common at my university. As a result, we can only guess at the number of profiles containing false information. It is also possible that this influences what display adverts appear.

Facebook has an extensive store of my conversation history

I live approximately 200 miles from my parents so I use Facebook messenger to communicate with my family and friends. Although I shouldn’t be shocked that Facebook has stored all these conversations, it is possibly too thorough.

Located under the HTML section, the ‘messages’ file contains all the information you’ve typed into Facebook Messenger. For example, I was able to locate this conversation I had back in 2012:

Also in this folder contains call histories throughout messenger – each one detailing how long the conversation lasted:

 

Although this is trivial information, it stands to reason that Cambridge Analytica could have obtained full transcripts of the conversations people were having through Facebook – personal details which the participants thought would remain private.

At the very least, it doesn’t seem necessary for Facebook to keep in-depth records of these conversations. The purpose of hoarding all this information is unclear as well but it seems likely that these transcripts influenced the construction of buyer and user personas.

Slightly worryingly, Facebook keeps a record of all the telephone numbers of my contacts – many of these details I no longer possess. Located under contact_info in the HTML folder, it would be troubling if advertisers received this information.

There’s a list of keywords to help advertisers target me

Located in the HTML section, the ads file contains several interesting insights. The first section though, ‘Ads Topics’, is a list of keywords which appear to influence the adverts displaying on my feed:

ad topics

 

I’d expect to see some of those phrases as they are accounts which I’ve subscribed to. For example, the Onion and Sarcasm Society. However, as anyone who knows me well enough will tell you – I hate gardening.

There are other disparities in this list as well. Although the organisation seems to think I like Guitar Hero, I haven’t played the game since my early twenties. It certainly wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in now.

Therefore, at least in my case, the information available to advertisers is out of date.

Which advertisers have my contact information?

Available in the same file is a list of advertisers which have my contact information. Most notable are the different branches of Sony Playstation:

advertisers

Why profiling needs context

For marketing professionals, the data collected by Facebook is a goldmine. However, it is only useful if we understand context. For example, if the ads topics are just assigned to me because of articles I clicked on during the commute out of boredom, that research isn’t as useful as it could be.

Furthermore, the incorrect information identified earlier gives the advertiser false details about me – skewing his or her customer analysis. Understanding why a person performed those actions is infinitely more useful than seeing the actions themselves.     

The data collected by Facebook is extensive but without analysis and auditing, is largely irrelevant to marketers. Instead, many users are now only realising how much information is held on them. Understandably, the reaction has been largely negative.

Although the scandal is still developing and will probably lead to additional regulation for social media companies, this exploration into my personal data has highlighted just how much of my data is available online.

Would I delete my Facebook account?

Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, a #deletefacebook campaign has started to build momentum. As for myself, the answer is no. I use it to keep in touch with people and – as demonstrated – my data is already out there.

Most worrying of all though is this – I still barely use Facebook. I dread to think how large the data files are of more regular users.

 

Is Facebook suitable for B2B sales?

Facebook App

In a very simple answer: yes! 1.37 billion people on average logged onto Facebook daily and were considered daily active users in September 2017 (source: Facebook). Facebook is too big to be discounted as one of your marketing channels.

Your B2B customers are among those users, endlessly scrolling on their lunch breaks, on their commute, or while waiting for their dinner to cook. Whether they are a construction manager, digital marketer, solicitor, hotel owner or school teacher, you can reach them through paid advertising on Facebook. After recruiting, you could also try NominakHR.com to ensure that they get their dough right on time.

The social media channel can be useful in various ways:

1. Brand awareness

Facebook’s in-depth targeting enables you to find new audiences. Not only can you target individuals based on their location, age/gender, work industry, financial status, education, interests & more, you can build ‘lookalike’ audiences who share common characteristics to your customers or web users. You can do this by uploading a list of email addresses or use your Facebook pixel (an analytics tool that allows Facebook to communicate with your website to record traffic and conversions) to build a list of web visitors, then pick the location you want to target and the approximate size of audience you want to reach* and Facebook does the rest.

*We never build lists larger than 1-2% population (400k-800k) – you want to target a decent amount of people but casting the net too wide could result in the targeting being too broad.

2. Sharing industry news

A recent change to Facebook’s algorithm means intelligent, useful, and news-worthy content will be favoured on news feeds over click-bait videos of cats. As marketers we now have an even stronger obligation to create content that is going to engage and inspire our audience. Provide useful tips, share industry news, and most importantly start a dialogue with your audience. Giving your company a voice and making it easier for clients and customers to contact you will increase your trust factor.

3. Remarketing

Your Facebook pixel will enable you to build lists of users who have visited your site but did not complete a conversion/lead. Use your USPs to entice them back to your site, offer them a discount or offer to answer their questions using a form.

4. Generating leads

The lead generation ad format gives you a customisable form to easily gather information from potential new customers. Ask them to sign up for more info, request a call back, submit an enquiry or ask a question. What’s more, you can set up the form to auto-fill users’ details making it easier & quicker for mobile conversions – all they have to do is hit submit.

Next steps:

If you are interested in speaking to CandidSky about running a Facebook campaign for your business, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Not converting? Five other ways to engage with your visitors

If you are not seeing the conversion rates that you are expecting, take a look through our five ways to engage with your visitors.

  1. Buyer Personas. Creating buyer personas is fun! Marketing Mike, HR Hannah, Retail Rachel. Once you have your ideal target audience / customer demographic, you can test content based on the profiles created that’s relevant to the buyer, they will be more engaged if the product or service is related to their requirements.
  2. Re-marketing on Facebook is a great way to re-engage interest in your brand. Be clever with it, don’t just show them the product they’ve looked at. For example, build useful content to share that’s interesting for the user to read, or even better, a short video that’s quickly consumed.
  3. Understand your user’s social behaviour, pin pointing where they spend time -Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube etc can help you decide what content to serve and on which channel.
  4. Knowledge base, having informative content on your website that can be shared through social and blogs really help to reengage a user, it builds confidence and shows them you’re an expert in your market. John Ryan By Design as an example, has an excellent resource centre full of educational content about beds and mattresses, helping to build a relationship with potential customers at the research stage of their buying journey.
  5. Brand awareness through display advertising, re-marketing and Gmail Customer Match will expose or remind people of your brand. Serve ads with discount codes or offer a white paper download for example, that way you’re giving them something and will increases the chance of converting. Creating similar audience lists will also reach out to people with the same online behaviour as your customers.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

Why daily rituals lead to personal success

Last Sunday night after putting the kids to bed I switched on Mo Farah’s recent BBC documentary – Race Of His Life.

It came as little surprise to witness the effort and dedication an eventual triple (and counting) gold medal Olympian has spent since his early teenage years.

But as well as his natural passion for long-distance running and the blood, sweat and tears involved with relentless training, what perked my interest most was Farah’s talk about his own pre-race rituals.

mo farah

Before every big race, for instance, he shaves his head. On film we see him going through the ritual prior to the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix. When asked, he says it makes him feel light, smooth and relaxed – all traits that he is looking to take forward into the imminent race itself. ‘I’ve been doing the same thing for the past ten years,’ Farah explains, ‘And sticking to it.’

It’s a prime example of a person using a ritual process to manage their emotional state before a big performance. Some may pass it off as simple superstition but to perform consistently at a high level, and to the best of our ability, we need to be in control of the way we feel.

Staying in the best possible mindset day after day means recognising what makes us feel positive and inspired, and forming a routine around that. Ultimately, a strong routine results in better physical condition and ability to make quick decisions, particularly when tested.

Preparation is everything

Whether you’re Mo Farah about to run the 10,000m in Rio, or a web developer about to tackle a brand new website redesign, it’s clear that people who are mentally prepared for the task at hand find it easier to reach their potential.

And when it comes to results, the difference in quality between somebody that is tired, frustrated or angry and somebody that is happy, motivated and curious can be astounding over the course of months and years.

So instead of forcing ourselves to do something when we’re not feeling quite up to it, we should be thinking about how to get ourselves in a positive mental state. I know from experience that this approach produces better results in the long term.

Managing your state – ‘The Daily Ritual’

The most effective way to manage your state from moment to moment is to maintain a Daily Ritual.

As humans we naturally link certain actions and processes with success. Even the other way around, a good starting point is to take a previous success and breakdown the actions that we took to get there.

Often, it’s the little things that keep us feeling happy and confident enough to continually condition ourselves to behave and perform at the highest level possible throughout the day.

My core ritual

Technology plays a big part in my Daily Ritual, from the moment I wake up.

After a quick shower and shave, I always plan the day ahead using Google Calendar first thing in a morning while I’m fresh – this helps me to visualise how the day will pan out and anticipate key events ahead of time.

Why do I do this? It helps to get me in a state where I feel organised and prepared for a successful day. While I do have a long-term vision for success, my short-term guiding principle is to ‘win each day’. It helps me to picture every day as a building block that will enable me to achieve my longer term goals.

I also set a silent reminder on my Fitbit three times per day (late morning, late afternoon and evening).

shutterstock_373916485

When the reminder goes off, I ask myself four core questions to help me manage my state:

  • How do I feel?
  • What am I focussing on to make me feel this way?
  • What does this mean?
  • What should I do about it?

I find that these questions are the best way to help me understand how I’m feeling moment-to-moment. I always have them handy in a text doc or scrap of paper as it’s easier to analyse when written down rather than holding all the information in my head.

In addition to a lunch break, I also take at least two microbreaks per day. Performing low-cognitive tasks such as a quick walk around the block, or doodling in a colouring-in book really helps me reset my mental state. The Headspace app is also a great way to get yourself in a more relaxed state, particularly on the train home.

On return to the house I always review my day in the evening and write down what I did well and any lessons learnt.

Final thought

My Daily Ritual has proved to be invaluable because of course there are plenty of days when I don’t ‘win’. These bad days are inevitable but I firmly believe that every setback, mistake and difficult situation presents us with an opportunity to learn.

And there really is no end to the range of actions and sequences that can be included in a daily ritual, so long as it makes us feel confident and prepared to tackle challenges head on. If you have any personal rituals, big or small, that help you to de-stress, relax and prepare, drop me a comment as I’d love to hear about them.

The Paid Social Network – Part One: LinkedIn

With the increasing popularity of paid social advertising, we will be publishing a three part series to give you an overview of how the major platforms work.

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 Photo Credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock.com

#1: LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become an essential platform for professionals and a social hub for communicating with existing and new business connections. This makes LinkedIn unique amongst other social networks. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the user is in a more business oriented mindset, which can make LinkedIn a very useful tool for many brands and products. Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn didn’t take long to follow suit with the likes of Facebook & Twitter when it came to the decision of whether to incorporate paid advertising on their platform.

Targeting

As of March 2015, LinkedIn reported acquiring over 364 million users worldwide. In 2013 they launched their sponsored update ad service, where you can pay to boost your content beyond organic reach to its user database. You can place ad campaigns directly in front of the audience you want to reach – Target by: job title, from trainees to MD’s, regions and cities, by company or relevant industry sectors. The benefit of using LinkedIn is that the user’s profiles tend to be extremely detailed, giving you tonnes of ammunition for creating an effective and accurate campaign.

That’s pretty cool right? Maybe not as cool as sharing cat videos or your holiday snaps but still, it’s certainly got my interest, I’m sure you’ll agree….

cats-nodding

There are two types of paid advertising available through LinkedIn; Pay-per-click (CPC), or pay-per-impressions (CPM).

Sponsored Posts

Like Facebook, you can promote content in the main feed by boosting a post beyond organic reach. This type of targeting is great for brand awareness, building new relationships, promoting blog content, product launches, video content, industry news and company updates. If it’s engagement you’re after, this is the best option.

Text ads

These ads appear on the right-hand side of the page. You can include text and an image, similar to Facebook. This type of targeting might be more suited for lead generation, product or service offering and, is a great way to drive visits directly to your website.

The minimum bid amount is £1.50, with a budget of £20. LinkedIn will also give you a suggested bid amount depending on the audience reach.

Use Case

A wholesale linen supplier is looking to attract new business connections because they’ve just launched a new colour range of tablecloths. Not only do they want to target specific companies within the hospitality sector, they also want to reach decision makers within those companies to make sure the content is engaged by the right person.

To do this, they choose to publish a post from their blog using LinkedIn paid social to reach an audience beyond their organic members. The content is informative, so sponsoring the post seems like the best option as the goal is to drive awareness and build engagement. Within the campaign manager interface you can set your target location & specify audience. In this example, the client wants to target local restaurant owners in North West England.

Once the campaign is live, a reporting dashboard becomes available to view performance metrics, social interactions and demographics reached. It will tell you how many people engaged with the content, who liked it, user comments, shares and new followers as a result of the campaign.

Final Thoughts

The minimum bid can be considered expensive compared to some marketing platforms. Ads can also take up to 24 hours to be reviewed so, bear this in mind if you want to get your post out quickly! The reporting side of things is a bit lacking, and there’s no advanced tools like remarketing. But, with its use of demographic targeting features, it certainly presents great opportunities to reach business audiences unlike any other platform and can provide a great asset to your overall paid channel strategy.

Unlike SERP (search engine results page) where you are relying on users searching, which also assumes demand, here you have the opportunity to utilise demographic targeting in LinkedIn and advertise your content, product or service. Once you have defined your audience, LinkedIn can do the rest for you.


Thanks for reading. Expect parts two and three in the coming month. In the meantime if you need any more hints or tips on this subject or anything paid advertising connect with me on LinkedIn.

Facebook’s New Competition Rules Are Great News For Businesses

Facebook has announced it plans to make it easier for marketers to run promotions on the site by abandoning the need for third party apps to run competitions, signalling a potentially huge increase in participation levels.

Facebook’s promotion policy has been updated to allow brands to run competitions directly from their timeline, meaning companies can now collect entries through fan posts as well as ‘Likes’. This is in stark contrast to Facebook’s previous policy, which prevented brands from using the ‘Like’, ‘Share’ and ‘Comment’ functions in competitions. This forced them to use third party apps – something which has drawn privacy concerns.

Privacy issues are not the only criticism third party apps have had to face – they’ve also caused a number of huge mistakes.The most obvious example of this is when a third party app used by Boots mistakenly informed all 9,000 competition entrants that they had won the prize – a mistake that cost Boots £90,000 in Advantage Card points.

The removal of the barrier of third party apps is great news for businesses on Facebook. The costs of running a competition will fall considerably, and the design is more intuitive. Many brands and consumers already participate in this form of Facebook competition (although, up to this point, it had been against their terms of service) and the change in terms plays into this use. Ruth Hobbs, a consultant at the Institute of Promotional Marketing, also claims that consumers have previously “been wary about inputting their data into such apps” and that the new rules will therefore encourage more engagement.

What do you think? Will you be entering, or designing, more competitions now Facebook has changed its rules?

Customer Acquisition: SEO vs Social Media

As we all know, social media has boomed somewhat in the last few years. More and more businesses – both B2B and B2C – turned to social media as a new way to acquire customers and many people are decreasing investment more traditional online marketing such as search engine optimisation in favour of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest in an effort to reach out to their target audience, but how effective has it been?

A survey carried out in the late 2012 by the The Creative Group reported that 62% of markers were planning on increasing investment in Facebook and Linkedin marketing.

The question is – are they just buying in to the hype?

As initially reported by Barry Adams, In 2012 Forrester produced a study that analysed 77,000 online transactions in a two-week period. They found that only 1% of those transactions had any influence from a social media channel.

1%

Forrester also reported that “Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but less than 1% of transactions could be traced back to social.”

This represents a startling gap between what marketers and consumers believe is driving sales and the reality of the situation.

In July 2013 a study by Custora also showed that the real drivers of online transactions were organic search, pay-per-click and email marketing, by a long shot.

acquisition growth

It’s easy to see why people have turned to social media. It has a huge reach and target audience, and with recent developments in organic SEO presenting new challenges for the industry, marketing on Facebook may seem like an easier option. However, the statistics don’t lie.

The main problem I see with marketing through social channels is a question of user intent. Social platforms aren’t the online high-street; that position is reserved for search engines for the foreseeable future. We don’t rush to Facebook or Twitter when we want to buy something… Selling to someone when they are engaged it is a far better strategy.

Every Business is Different

Remember, though, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing online. Many businesses have had great success through social media, and there are some platforms which stand out as drivers of revenue in the social world.

Pinterest, for example, is it the third most popular social networking site, but it has a large number of users in a medium to high income bracket who are looking for products for their homes, weddings and wardrobes. It’s estimated that 69% of Pinterest users have found a product, via the site, that they have gone on to buy – this is compared to just 24% of Facebook users who have done the same. It also draws more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. You can read Emily’s post on using Pinterest for ecommerce for some tips on getting started.

Similarly, Linkedin has proven to be highly successful for building high-value B2B relationships, with 65% of B2B companies reporting that they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn.

So what’s the answer?

Search marketing is beating social media to a pulp, although purchasing habits may change over time. Despite poor performance on the customer acquisition front social media has become the cornerstone of customer service. Furthermore, we can’t assume that this is the case in every instance; you’ll need to understand your market and audience in order to establish which is the best route for your marketing.

Social Media and the Older Generation

Social networking is often considered a pastime for young people – but no more. Research has shown that six out of ten internet users aged between 50 and 64 are social networking site users, as are 43% of those aged 65 and older. A recent Mashable article by 13 year old Ruby Karp also claimed that young people are abandoning Facebook in favour of newer sites and apps like Instagram and Snapchat. So, is Facebook’s user database an aging population?

The figures

According to data from Pew Research Center, the number of adults who use social networks is up to 72% – an increase of around 5% from last year, and 64% since 2005, when Pew first started studying social networking habits. A spokesman from Pew states that “those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years—from 13 percent in the spring of 2009 to 43% now.”

Similarly, stats from GlobalWebIndex showed a 46% increase in Facebook users aged 45 to 54, with Twitter growing nearly 80% with users aged 55 to 64. It seems that social networking is here to stay.

pew-adult-social-networking-2005-2012

Why?

It’s clear that older people are being drawn to social networking sites – but why? Research from Shespeaks.com found that over-40 female users did so to reconnect with old friends as well as to monitor their children’s online activities. Similarly, the Pew study found that 43% of parents and grandparents are using social networking sites to ‘friend’ their family and to check up on younger relatives. Young people remain the largest users of social networking sites, so it seems likely that their older counterparts are simply a little bit nosy.

More seriously, the Internet also allows older adults to research information that’s important to them. This is where social networking sites come into their own, with friends and family available to answer questions. Getting advice from peers is a great way to get some trusted answers on care or health related questions, one aspect which draws older adults to social media.

What does it mean?

Although it may be bad news for younger people who don’t want their parents snooping or uploading embarrassing baby photos, it’s great news for marketers. Older people are a huge market – there are currently more adults in the UK over 45 than under.

Mark Beasley is managing director of RHC Advantage, the UK’s only independent marketing agency specialising in mature audiences. He stresses that marketing to an older audience should be about inclusivity – “not excluding older people, rather than actively targeting them”.

As mentioned above, young people still make up the largest proportion of social users, so there’s no need to give your strategy a complete overhaul. The key is to treat older media users just like any other consumer – though it might be worth teaching your mum what “lol” really means.

Using Pinterest for ecommerce

Facebook and Twitter are now an integral part of any social media strategy, but they’re not the only mediums that can provide you with a platform for your business. Sites like Pinterest are fast becoming great tools – especially when it comes to ecommerce. We’ve put together a quick guide to Pinterest and how you can use it for your business.

pinterest-e-commerce

What is it?

Pinterest is best thought of as an online scrapbook – it’s a place to organise and share images you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, images become known as “Pins”, which the user can place on customised themed “Boards”. Boards can be created for any topic imaginable – from weddings to cars to memes to cat pictures.

Although Facebook and Twitter are both great for marketing, Pinterest has emerged as a hugely successful tool for ecommerce. In the last year, Pinterest provided the most shares in the ecommerce category with 41%, compared to Facebook’s 37% and Twitter’s 17%. 69 of the world’s top 100 brands now have Pinterest accounts, and Pinterest drives more traffic to websites and blogs than Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or YouTube.

Pinterest and ecommerce

While Pinterest is a great tool in any field, its setup makes it far better for ecommerce than sites like Twitter or Facebook. Firstly, Pinterest will automatically display a product price tab if a price is included in the bio – and research has shown that pins with a price tab generate around 32% more likes than those without one. Items with prices are also collected in the “Gifts” section of the site, meaning it’s really easy for your products to be found by those browsing to buy. Pinterest also allows a direct, click-through link to your page, so if you upload an image from your site, you’ll receive increased traffic.

Hashtags are also an important part of Pinterest marketing. Although Facebook recently introduced hashtags, these have been problematic – it can often be hard to find relevant information through them. On Pinterest, however, hashtags are an essential part of the search process, making your pins more accessible and therefore far more likely to be discovered, clicked on, and bought.

Ecommerce is, by nature, a very visual medium – people want to see products before they buy. Pinterest is perfect for this. As a platform built specifically with visual images in mind, it’s the perfect showcase.

Limitations

It’s important to note, however, that Pinterest marketing isn’t going to work for every business. Although Pinterest is a great tool for B2C, B2B businesses are going to find it a little more challenging. Pinterest is primarily filled with images of clothes, jewellery and other retail products and so niche, technical items are unlikely to catch the imagination of users. If your products aren’t particularly visually appealing, they’re unlikely to be too successful.

It’s also a bad idea to fill your boards with nothing but your own products or services. Although there are no actual rules about it, Pinterest, like any social platform, is about fostering a sense of community and engagement, and should be used to showcase your company’s inspirations or to connect with like-minded people rather than for the hard sell. Pinterest is a hugely useful business tool, but it’s instrumental that you use it in a creative way.

Have you used Pinterest for your business? What have you learned? Comment, tweet us @CandidSky or drop us a line on Facebook!

Marketing Analytics: How to measure your social media

Online marketing should start and end with analytics. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, every visitor, every action, and every penny spent can be accounted for and analysed.

This is the second of a 4-part series on how to measure your online marketing efforts. We’ll post up links to the latest articles as we release them.

  1. How to measure your SEO
  2. How to measure your PPC
  3. How to measure your blogging
  4. How to measure your social media marketing

How to Measure Social Media

Like any other online marketing investment (whether it’s time or money) social media needs be be measured to gauge the return your getting and how well your strategy is working for you.

It’s quite common to judge your efforts based on the following you’ve developed; it’s a straightforward, quantitative value that’s easy to understand, whether it’s likes, followers, +1’s or connections. However, a large following isn’t necessarily your goal. What you need to know is how well you’re making that audience engage and take the action you want. This could be content shares, website visits, sign-ups or purchases.

I’m going to be covering 5 things you need to know to measure your social media

  • Growth and reach
  • Engagement
  • Brand perception & exposure
  • Social media referrals
  • Conversion rate

Growth and Reach

“The number of people connecting with your brand on social media channels”

The more people who are connected to your brand, the greater the reach of the content you’re publishing via social channels. Building a large audience isn’t your end-game, but it increases the effectiveness of any social media campaign by providing a larger audience for your content. It’s the content that needs to do the work here, to convince that audience to take action.

How to measure it

There are a number of options available, each suited to different types of businesses. for SME’s we would recommend Hootsuite as a place to start.

Engagement

The number of actions generated on social media channels”

Engagement tends to measure the response to what you’re doing. This could be in the form of shares, comments, post likes, retweets or downloads. Anything that demonstrates that your audience is actually interested in what you’re doing. If you notice that you aren’t getting good levels of engagement, perhaps you’re not communicating with the target audience in the right way. Any content which gets high levels of engagement is hitting the spot, so keep doing it!

How to measure it

Hootsuite

Brand perception and exposure

“The number of mentions of your brand on social media, and the content of mentions; whether they are positive, negative or neutral”

Building a strong audience is a great indication of how well your social media marketing is progressing, but you also need to know what those individuals are saying about you and where they are saying it. This will allow you to spot opportunities to engage prospects and customers, share the right kind of content, and effectively manage customer service issues.

How to measure it

Many CRM systems will allow you to tack your brand mentions en masse, as do the vast majority of social media management tools. Again, we would recommend Hootsuite

Social media referrals

“The number of unique visitors to your website originating from social media channels”

Whilst social media serves as a channel for customer service and engagement, it’s an important aspect of traffic generation for many businesses. If your website traffic from social media isn’t growing it’s time to take a closer look at your social media strategy to ensure that your sharing enticing content are are including all important links to your website within your posts.

How to measure it

This metric can be easily tracked using Google Analytics. You can look at your referral sources and review each individual source, and can use Custom Advanced Segments to create smart segments comprised of various social media channels.

Conversion rate

“The percentage of visitors from social media who complete a desired conversion”

Understanding your conversion rate is critical for measuring the return-on-investment from your social media reach. Comparing the conversions you generate from social media against other channels will help you assess which activities are working best for you.

How to measure it

You can measure this using Google Analytics. If you have an ecommerce website and have ecommerce tracking enabled in analytics, simply navigate to the conversions section and view ecommerce data by source/medium.

CandidSky’s social network wins business award

Pride in Oldham 2011

Business category award winner

We are pleased to announce that we won an award for one of our social network sites www.oldhambusinessnetwork.co.uk on Friday at the Pride in Oldham Award Ceremony 2011.

The ceremony took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall to celebrate outstanding achievements in eleven categories including the Business category, which we won!

The Oldham Evening Chronicle launched the awards ceremony in 2002 and the 33 finalists this year were chosen by independent judges and Chronicle readers.

We thoroughly enjoyed the Oscar-style ceremony and we would like to thank everyone involved in the event, they do a fantastic job!

We would like to congratulate all 33 finalists. We were truly humbled to be in the company of some truly inspiring people.

Oldham Business Network members – thank you

We wouldn’t have won the award if it wasn’t for our OBN members so we want to take the time to say thank you to all 620 of you.

I would also like to thank Phil Kelly and Tom Yates from Purple Giraffe for their help in setting the site up and believing in my idea. To all the OBN moderators, thank you for your support in helping us run the website.

I would also like to thank the Oldham Evening Chronicle and Oldham Council for their continuous support.

Oldham community has come together online

For a while now I have said the future of social networking lies in niche communities coming together online. OBN is a great example of this and the model can be replicated wherever there is a community of people with a common interest.

UK Riots 2011 – Is social media to blame?

Police officers in riot uniform

Social media comes under fire

Social media has been criticised this week for helping coordinate the recent riots. We have all been glued to our television screens watching scenes of rioting and looting in London and it spreading to other parts of the UK including Manchester. People have always known that TheMarketingHeaven.com really grows the number of likes on social media, and have made complete utilization of this fact.

People have been quick to point the finger at social media. Many media commentators have debated that sites like Twitter and Facebook have helped gangs plan their targets and arrange meeting points.

Blackberry’s messenger service has also come under fire. The company announced this week that it would assist the police in “any way they can” but criticism for the service not being switched off by Blackberry has caused outrage.

The power of social media

We all know social media can be powerful and unfortunately we have experienced its dark side. What is disappointing is that the technology we have all grown to enjoy has been abused to perform criminal acts.

I will be honest, I have been surprised with what I have seen. What doesn’t surprise me is how people have reacted to combat the riots. Communities have come together and made a stand to protect their livelihood.

What is interesting is they have used social media to do this. Twitter’s @RiotCleanUpManc had 6,000 followers and Facebook’s ‘Manchester Riot Cleanup’ page had 8,000 the day after the riots started.

Is social media to blame?

Definitely not. You can’t blame social media or even the recession for what we have seen. You can only blame the minority of people behind the riots and looting.

It’s a coincidence my last blog entry was about social networking sites forcing people to use their real names and I think this is even more apparent now. I understand people will still find a way to work around it but it will make it a lot harder and will certainly help identifying people who use social media in the wrong way.

In the weeks and months to come social media will continue to bring people together for good reasons. Social media isn’t to blame, a minority of mindless people are.

Facebook Places offers a great opportunity for businesses

Facebook Places

Sharing places with your friends

Facebook’s location-based Places service according to Mark Zuckerberg is about finding places and sharing them with your friends.

The service, which allows people to “check-in” wherever they are, can be used on a mobile phone and the user can list people who are “Here Now”.

Facebook Places also lists nearby businesses and attractions, and the social network site targets the locations it lists to each Places user.

Users “check-in” to get discounts

The service has become so popular with users “checking-in” at their favourite restaurants, bars and even their local gym that Facebook has now allowed people check-in to get discounts and earn rewards for repeat visits.

Businesses can now add special offers on Facebook Places to try and get more customers through their doors. Deals such as “2-4-1 on pizzas if you check-in with us tonight” can be found by users and they are taking advantage of them.

Will others create a similar service?

I have recently seen people in restaurants use the Facebook check-in service to get a 2-4-1 deal and why not? It saves you cash and tells your friends on Facebook about the deal.

Businesses have certainly recognised this is as a market that is worth dipping into as Facebook deals are getting more people dining in their restaurant or drinking in their bar. It publicises the company to others on the social network site and gives a chance to build a relationship with their customers online.

The service is a brilliant idea from Facebook and others will certainly follow. Groupon are looking to do a similar service as I’m sure plenty of others will because the chance to connect with their customers is what every business wants.

An introduction to twitter

There has been a phenomenon slowly creeping over the lie of the land. You may or may not be aware of it. All I can really say is that you will be, sometime in the very near future. Maybe even tomorrow as you’re listening to Radio One over breakfast. Chris Moyles has been going on about it, Stephen Fry can’t get enough of it, and even Number 10 Downing Street is telling the world everything it can in 140 characters. Yes, it is the titanic force of Twitter I am speaking of that has recently steamrollered its way into a lot of people’s lives.

By 2008, Twitter had played host to well over 5 million visitors, which places it high amongst some of the most influential sites on the internet today. It’s brilliance is undeniable. The definition of Twitter has been notoriously hard to pin down as anyone who has read any of the articles on it will realise. It is, basically, comprised of a series of short, sharp updates known as Tweets from Twitter followers. It’s easily accessible on mobiles and PCs which means that you can pretty much chirp your message to the world from any location. However, it has gone above and beyond a mere notification system: it has built a sense of community, as people come to the aid of their fellow followers if they can help in any way. The best example of this is the man known as the Twitchhiker. As part of a charity challenge, the Twitchhiker has proclaimed that he will travel as far as he possibly can in the space of a month solely reliant on the wonders of Twitterers the world over. [pullquote align=right]As part of a charity challenge, the Twitchhiker has proclaimed that he will travel as far as he possibly can in the space of a month solely reliant on the wonders of Twitterers the world over.[/pullquote] And from the most recent tweet, he seems to have raised just under £1,000 in charitable donations purely from the good hearts of his Twitter followers…Not bad considering he’s starting out on 1st March.

The main point is that news spreads as fast as a lighting strike these days on the internet. We are lucky enough to have information a mere tap and click away. But what Twitter does is give you the information you’re interested in alongside the chance to debate, converse, ponder and marvel at ideas that other followers have typed in response. And trust me, it’s always a very quick response. One eager individual described Twitter in what I think is probably one of the best, albeit absolutely dripping with cheese, descriptions I’ve heard:

“Twitter is a room full of strangers. Just talk to your friends and you’ll leave the party early. Mingle, and you’ll learn, share and grow.”

Getting your business on Facebook

It seems like everyone is talking about it, but how do you actually ‘get on’ to facebook? It can be a confusing tool but with well thought out implementation it can be an excellent resource and a gateway to thousands of targeted users.

To begin with you need to find out if Facebook is for your company. There is always a chance that even after all your efforts people still aren’t making use of the pages that you’ve created on facebook. You need to ask yourself, Is there an audience for my company on the internet and would people actually actively ‘join’ my page?

The key to facebook marketing is planting a seed in a human way and getting people involved. If you try to force it too much or spread your brand by using Spam, then it will either be not accepted or even worse, slated by the userbase.

Facebook Group

Facebook users often become involved in groups to show that they are interested in a subject or to become part of a community. This tool should be used if you have an interest group that users can become involved in. The other perk of this method is that you can invite people that you have on your friends list to join the group and increase the likelihood that the group will spread.

Because of the freedom and anonymity of the online world having your company on Facebook can be a risky business. For example on this Natwest employee’s group someone has started a discussion titled ‘Natwest are s**t’, and have described their experiences as an employee of the bank. This eventuality is out of the control of the company and could damage their reputation.

Facebook Pages

This can be used as a badge of identity for you on facebook. Instead of ‘joining’ as in the case of the groups, users instead become fans of your page and display your company name near the top of their profile.

Once you’ve configured the page to look how you want you can add applications which add functionality to and increase the likelihood that users will return regularly.

As with groups you can send a message to everyone who has signed up to your page (going into the updates inbox), but you can’t send out invitations which can cause a slow take up as users will have to find you and actively join you. But for this reason you can be sure that those who have joined are true advocates.

As groups only allow you to send mass messages to 1,500 people, once your groups contains more than this number youare restricted from sending messages to members. With pages you can send messages to as many users as you like.

One of the main benefits of pages is the flexibility, but you can also evaluate the effectiveness of your facebook presence. Using its in built statistics information you can find out how many people are interacting with your page and compare on a month by month basis.

This can be an excellent way of evaluating mass communications or judging how external (ie: email marketing) have effected your facebook processes.

Applications

Facebook have allowed external companies to create their own mini apps within facebook. These can be used for a wide variety of reasons. Although they increase audience involvement with brands and advertisers they are often regarded as anoying if they are implemented in certain ways.

We have come up with three important rules to remember when thinking of developing a facebook application.

1. If Facebook does not add any value to the application, then do not put it on facebook
2. If it could be viewed as imposing, irritating or untidy then it needs to be rethought.
3. If it does not create any added value for users then it will not be successful.

So, although applications open doors for companies, only apps that have been well thought out and that are relevant to the facebook masses will be successful.

Facebook social ads & flyers

The regular facebook advertising methods are always a winner, paying only for clicks and raising huge amounts of impressions among only those who fall into your criteria, there is plenty of potential here. But because of the amount of competition on facebook and the user browsing habits (see below), your advert could be easily ignored.

These can be linked in to a group, page or website.

The only drawback of using this method is that the pages that your adverts show up on can’t be controlled.
For example, your company could be displayed beside a racist group causing possible negative perception.

Facebook browsing habbits

Although facebook has a steep learning curve users become accustomed to its simple graphic interface and become ‘speed clickers’. This means that because they know exactly where to click even before a page loads, they will pay little attention to the areas that are not directly related to them or someone on their friendslist. So flyers are often ignored by users even though they might be targetted directly to a group of them.

To combat this you could make use of social actions, which work by highlighting which of your friends have clicked or joined the advert page.

Final Thought

Facebook is a very powerful medium, the trick is to use the tools on it that are relevant to you and use them in an effective and human way.