Infographic Week! History of #Hashtags

In light of the recent news that Twitter might do away with hashtags, here is an infographic that shows the history of the hashtag (and makes a good argument why Twitter shouldn’t abandon it!)

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Infographic Week! Blogging Stats and Facts

For this week, I am going to give you some great infographics about every weekly subject that you can share with clients, coworkers, or just learn from yourself! The first one is about blogging stats and facts. For more amazing information, visit the article the infographic appeared on at Social Media Today!

The-blogconomy-infographic-640x5604

How to Make Your Facebook Posts Stand Out – Part 2

Facebook marketing for business is an often talked about subject. While there are many great Facebook tips for business out there, it is hard to find discussion on what makes a post stand out from the others on a user’s news feed. There are certain things businesses can do to make their posts on Facebook more authentic and noticeable.

There are seven basic things you can do to make your posts engaging and memorable. The first three we talked about last Friday. Here are the remaining four things you can do to grab the attention of the quickly scrolling user and stand out in the virtual crowd.

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

  1. Shorten all links in posts. Many URLs you will share are long, causing people to not want to click on them. Use popular link shortening websites, such as Bitly and Tiny URL to shorten the link. Bitly will choose a name for the link while Tiny URL lets you add a custom end alias. Choose one that will grab reader attention and make them want to click on the link.
  2. Provide a call to action and hashtags. A call to action is when you write a post and put click here, learn more, read more, share this, or what do you think at the end of it. You are telling the user what you want them to do. This will increase user engagement and direct traffic how you want.
  3. Hold contests every few months. Contests are a great way to get user engaged since contests are fun! You could have users share a post in order to win one of your products or services. To make it more inventive, hold a caption contest where you post an interesting photo relevant to your market and ask people to caption it to win a prize.
  4. Find out what time of day is best to post. By looking at Facebook Analytics, you can find the best time of day to post in order to get more user response. For a few months, post three or four times a day at different hours, such as in the morning, at lunch time, in the afternoon, and in the late evening. Then look at your analytics to see what time of day users are engaging most often with your post.

    You can also only post six in the evening to midnight when most people are home. Analytics show that, overall, people are on Facebook more Thursday through Sunday than they are Monday through Wednesday.

Don’t forget to check out the second part of the post that was released last Friday! In the meantime, what are your favorite Facebook posts to see from businesses? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How to Make Your Facebook Posts Stand Out – Part 1

Facebook marketing for business is an often talked about subject. While there are many great Facebook tips for business out there, it is hard to find discussion on what makes a post stand out from the others on a user’s news feed. There are certain things businesses can do to make their posts on Facebook more authentic and noticeable.

Facebook’s News Feed used to be completely customized by the user. They could set their feed to show the most recent posts by the people they follow or the top stories. Now, the News Feed has a new algorithm that decides what content shows up in what feeds. Placement on a feed depends on:

  • How many people Liked, Commented, or Shared a post
  • Relevance to the user, analyzing if the user has interacted with the brand or person much
  • Timeframe of the posting in reference to the last time the brand or person posted

Keeping these factors in mind, you need to start crafting posts and posting them in a certain way and timeframe. There are seven basic things you can do to make your posts engaging and memorable. Here are the first three I am going to talk about and we will get to the other four next Friday.

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

Via Flickr mkhmarketing

  1. Always remember the brand identity when making posts. Make all content you post emphasize on your brand identity. 80 percent of the content you post needs to be entertaining or valuable in line with your brand. Only 20 percent of your content should be completely promotional.
  2. Make quality content. Make sure you have a solid idea for the content you post before you post it. There is no reason to simply post content for the sake of it. Content should solve a problem, be informative, or be entertaining. Also, over-posting will flood your follower’s feeds, causing them to un-Like your page.
  3. Post photos, tips, quotes, and other varied content. This is the key to quality content. Photos are the easiest way to capture attention and photos on Facebook get more Likes than any other kind of content. Even if you are linking to a blog post or the company’s website, add a relevant photo to the post in order to grab attention.

    Tips are another great kind of content to post. They offer a nugget of information that is interesting or informative to the user. Quotes can also generate likes, especially if the quote is funny or from a famous person. The best kind of content, behind photos, is a question. Posing a question to the people who follow your page will make them want to comment with their answer. Make the question dimensional, not something simple like, “What is your favorite book?”

Don’t forget to check out the second part of the post that will be released next Friday! In the meantime, what are your favorite Facebook posts to see from businesses? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

Ways to Optimize Your Business YouTube – Part 2

I was so excited to start writing about Vine videos for social media marketing that I forgot to talk about part two in my series about optimizing your business YouTube profile and videos! Without further delay, here it is!

When it comes to search engines, YouTube is the second most popular one on the internet. If your business has the creativity, time, and budget for it, making YouTube videos to market yourself is a great way to engage your customers. Before uploading, you need to know how to make your YouTube channel SEO friendly and how to promote YouTube videos with optimization.

Optimization is necessary if you want your YouTube marketing campaign to be successful. There are 800 million monthly views on all YouTube videos with hundreds of videos being uploaded every day. There is a lot of competition. For your videos to be seen, you need to understand how to optimize every aspect of your channel and videos.

Via Flickr marioanima

Via Flickr marioanima

Call to Action

You need to tell your viewers what you want them to do.

  • A call to action is the next steps a viewer should take
  • Usually, videos tell a user to like, comment, and share the video. They may also tell a user to visit their website or get on Twitter to post something with a hashtag.
  • Call to actions can be placed in the video, on the YouTube page, or in the video description.

Consider making the titles of your videos a call to action as well.

  • Make the title 70 characters or less including spaces. This helps YouTube index them for higher search result placement.
  • Use keywords at the beginning of the title.
  • Accurately represent the subject of the video in the title.
  • Include the episode number in the title if it is part of a series.
  • Titles need to be enticing so people click on them.

Stat: Generalized call to actions increase conversion by 10% while call to actions that are specific to the product or brand can increase conversion rates to 20%.
Tip: A call to action that is related to your product or service will convert better than a generic call to action.
Stat: Putting a call to action at the end of a video can increase conversion rates by 144%.
Tip: By placing a call to action at the end of a video, you force people to understand your message. They get excited about the product or service and are more likely to respond to your call to action.

Annotation

You need to be careful if you use annotations. There are some businesses who nearly cover their entire video with annotations that link to other videos or to their website. This is tempting, especially when users can easily turn annotations off if they don’t like it. However, this is seen as a desperate attempt at advertising from viewers, making them less likely to watch your videos. If you do use annotations:

  • Use them sparingly, at most two at a time. Space them out throughout the video.
  • Make your points clear with interactive commentary.
  • Add background information.
  • Highlight calls to action.
  • Link from within the video.

Stat: There are 500 Tweets per minute containing a YouTube link.
Tip: Consider using annotations at the end of the video, telling the user to share the video on Twitter with a link.

Via Flickr Lachlan Hardy

Via Flickr Lachlan Hardy

Thumbnail

An excellent thumbnail image can attract people to your video even if they do not have a particular interest in the subject. YouTube automatically generates thumbnails that are screenshots from your video, but you can also create your own thumbnail to insert into the video.

  • When creating your own thumbnail, they should be 1280px in height and 740px wide. Make sure the file is under 2MB.
  • Thumbnails can be a close up look at the product or service you are talking about in the video. For example, if you are talking about kitchen knives, make the photo a close up of the blade slicing through an onion.
  • Entertaining thumbnails pique curiosity about the video for people who do not become interested based on the title and description.
  • A representative thumbnail will accurately depict the subject of the video.

Stat: Thumbnails increase clicks from searches by 64% among men and 154% among women.
Tip: Make your thumbnails stand out in order to get more search engine clicks.

For more ways to optimize your business YouTube, check out Part 1 and Part 3 of my series on the subject.

Beyond the Stats – 4 Actual Ways Pinterest Increases Your Online Sales

Pinterest is the third most popular social media website, yet it is ranked number one above Facebook and Twitter for driving spontaneous online shopping sales. This is because Pinterest is a community of creative people that want to find discover products, craft projects, and inspiring images. When you sell online, Pinterest can be a huge asset in increasing your online sales.

There are many ways businesses can take advantage of Pinterest to increase their sales. By implementing four simple strategies, you can increase your revenue and convert more Pinterest users into loyal customers.

Via Flickr Pinkpoppy

Via Flickr Pinkpoppy

Make Pins Resonate with Users

Pins need to contain professional and high quality photos or collages. Do not just pin stock product photos that can be found on your retail website. Products should not be from your eCommerce website. Instead, it should be how the products look when they are being used. If you sell clothing, have people wear them doing everyday things. If you sell kitchen appliances, show them being used on a kitchen counter with food all around.

You could also create something called a Pinographic. This is a single pin that has a series of images that are instructive. They tell a user how to do something or how a product works. A business that sells clothes can create a Pinographic advising users how to best wear their styles.

Via Flickr stevendepolo

Via Flickr stevendepolo

Change Your Goal to Getting Repins Instead of Sales

In order to make sales, you need to get a lot of repins. Research shows that 19% of purchases were recommended by a friend and 24% through a stranger’s Pinterest. Only 7% of purchases were made from pins found on a retailer’s board and 10% through a Pinterest search. Creating excellent pins will increase the chance of them being repined.

Via Flickr DaveOnFlickr

Via Flickr DaveOnFlickr

Connect with Repinners

40% of Pinterest-directed purchases were made within a week of original pinning. 80% of purchases are made within three weeks of a pin. This means you have a three week window to make a sale happen.

Look at your Pinterest analytics and look at your most recent repins from followers. Engage with these people by reaching out and offering to answer any questions a customer has about the product they have pinned. This helps keep your brand in the repinner’s mind during the critical three week window.

Via Flickr SCHW4G3R

Via Flickr SCHW4G3R

Run Promotions and Contests

Pinterest contests come in many different forms. You can have your pinner’s post a photo of themselves using the product, or ask people to repin one of your pins in order to enter into a sweepstakes. David’s Bridal often holds contests where they ask people to go through one of their many boards and pin five things from the board that they like onto the user’s wedding board. This enters them into a contest where they can win a Visa gift card.

Do you think all retail stores need Pinterest in their social media marketing plan? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

Stats Don’t Lie – How Pinterest Increases Your Online Sales

Pinterest is the third most popular social media website, yet it is ranked number one above Facebook and Twitter for driving spontaneous online shopping sales. This is because Pinterest is a community of creative people that want to find discover products, craft projects, and inspiring images. When you sell online, Pinterest can be a huge asset in increasing your online sales.

Via Flickr MKH Marketing

Via Flickr MKH Marketing

The statistics speak for themselves when looking at how beneficial Pinterest is for online sales:

  • The daily number of Pinterest users has grown by 145% in the past year.
  • Unique visitors are up 2700% since May of 2012.
  • The growth of Pinterest is better than Facebook and Twitter at the same point in their history.
  • Referral traffic from Pinterest to stores is more than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. Pinterest is about to beat out Twitter for referral traffic and is still behind Facebook.
  • Apparel referral traffic has risen by 289% from Pinterest since 2011.
  • Pinterest pins with prices get 36% more Likes than those without. Without a price, a pin gets 1.1 Likes on average. With a price, a pin gets 1.5 Likes on average.
  • Social media driven revenue to stores from Pinterest is growing considerably. From 2011 to 2012, revenue from Pinterest increased 16%. Twitter and Facebook’s revenue went down in this same time period.
  • Buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy a product. They also spend 10% more than those from other social media sites and 70% more than traffic from websites.
  • Brands have an easier time connecting to their target markets on Pinterest than any other social media site.

Do you think all retail stores need Pinterest in their social media marketing plan? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!

How to Successfully Perform Content Marketing

Content marketing is the base of all successful business marketing and internet marketing strategies. Many businesses try to regularly put content into the world without setting up a plan for it. There is a six step process you need to follow in order to create a successful content marketing plan.

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

What should the business accomplish?

Before putting any content on the internet, you need to figure out some basics. Businesses want to jump in and start putting content on the web. However, you will have better results with your content marketing campaign if you brainstorm and document what exactly your content should accomplish. Consider these questions when deciding the goal of the campaign:

  • Do you want new clients or customers?
  • Are you interested in cross-selling?*
  • Do you have new products to launch?
  • Do you want to be an industry thought leader?
Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Via Flickr ChrisL_AK

Research the target audience.

After you have decided what the goal is for the marketing campaign, you need to research the audience that will be targeted. If you are cross-selling, this is a B2B campaign and you need to research fellow businesses in your industry. If it is to be a thought leader, you need to research what kind of content audiences will use the most. Overall, research:

  • Buyer personality and their segmentation
  • Keywords the audience would use when searching for products or services in your industry
  • Competitor’s SEO strategy and their results
  • How competitors use social media marketing platforms in the industry
  • The formats the target audience prefers
Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

Via Flickr Pink Sherbert Photography

Plan your marketing scheme.

You need to plan, optimize, and manage your initiatives for your content marketing plan. All of this needs to be documented by:

  • Finding out what content marketing needs to do for the business
  • Write down the goals, the plan to achieve the goals, and indicators to prove the success of the goals
  • Make sure everyone involved with content marketing has a copy and complete understanding of the plan

You need to be able to manage workflow when creating the content. One of the best ways to do this is to put someone in charge of your content marketing plan. They will execute the goals that are desired and organize all of the avenues the content will use.

Via Flickr Book Work Laser Design

Via Flickr Book Work Laser Design

Create the content and publish it on social media outlets.

When creating content, it needs to fit the needs of the target audience. It should answer a question or be useful in some way. Make sure to:

  • Create content in many different formats that can be used by the audience
  • Create content for each stage of a buying cycle
  • Optimize the content by using SEO keywords efficiently
  • Keep producing content and do consistently, either every day or the same three days a week

Content is the most successful when it is posted on social media sites because:

  • Social media increases awareness of your business to impact lead generation
  • 70% of consumers will click through to a business’ website or blog after content is shared on social media
  • All social signals, such as likes, retweets, +1’s, comments, shares, and mentions, influence Google rankings which increase the business online exposure
Via Flickr greyweed

Via Flickr greyweed

Promote your content.

Simply publishing the content online and sharing it on social media is not enough to create a successful marketing campaign. You need to promote it in order to make the content more viral and make the business gain more exposure. Content can be promoted by:

  • Using social media to distribute content
  • Build internal links to create authority
  • Respond to comments and feedback to get more user engagement
  • Use bookmarking sites such as Pinterest, Reddit, and StumbleUpon
Via Flickr Bob Massa

Via Flickr Bob Massa

Use analytics to measure success.

Analytics are going to become your best friend. There are many different kinds of analytics tools that will help you track the success of your campaign, including:

  • Google analytics
  • Social media platform analytics tools
  • Marketing KPIs, or Key Performance Indicators

*You would suggest related products or services to consumers who cannot find the perfect thing with your business. The benefit of this the business you refer consumers to will also refer consumers to your business in the future.

The Stats Don’t Lie – Blogs Are A Powerful Revenue Generator

Social media is very popular for marketing right now. There is a lot of debate about which social media platform is the best to market one, but the debate overlooks the importance of blogs. Blogs allow a business to produce content that is worthwhile to their consumers. Your marketing strategies should incorporate blogging for business to get higher SEO ranks.

Via Flickr Maria Reyes-McDavis

Via Flickr Maria Reyes-McDavis

The numbers themselves speak for how important it is for a business to keep and maintain a blog that produces high quality and industry relevant content with proper SEO keyword placement.

  • 88% of companies who blog get more leads every month than companies who do not.
  • 55% of companies that blog will get more traffic to their website.
  • 57% of companies that blog will most likely get a customer from their blog.
  • 78% of companies that blog daily get customers strictly from their blog.
  • 92% of companies that blog multiple times a day will receive the most new customers directly from their blog.

There are many free and popular blogger websites, such as WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, and TypePad. They let you create your own blog with various customizable options. Some blogs do a better job appearing in search results than others, do your research to find the hosting platform that is best for your company.

Whenever a business blogs, it allows them to get involved in their community, create great content that will be shared, and start conversations that are time relevant. Other social media platforms can be utilized to spread the blog to reach new audiences. There are three major benefits of blogging for business – thought leadership, SEO increase, and accumulate social media followings.

Via Flickr Rosaura Ochoa

Via Flickr Rosaura Ochoa

Thought Leadership

Whenever businesses take the initiative to spread valuable content about their niche to consumers, they slowly become the leaders in this train of thought. When you position yourself as an expert on the field, visitors understand your authority on the subject. All it takes is for you to be yourself and share the wealth of knowledge you have gained in the industry. Material for blog posts can contain frequently asked questions, opinions on issues in your field, and problems you solved at work that week.

Via Flickr SEOPlanter

Via Flickr SEOPlanter

SEO Increase

New content gets way higher search engine rankings than static pages on your website. In order to get high SEO rankings, you need to know how to use SEO keywords properly. You can research this online, buy textbooks on the subject, or hire a company who specializes in SEO keywords. What is nice about SEO is, if you figure out how to do it right, then you don’t have to pay for Google AdWords or sponsored links to get more views on your blog. Instead, an SEO-optimized blog will get views, comments, and shares on its own. It takes some time for a blog to get popular, so be patient and use SEO keywords correctly.

Via Flickr Nicole Yeary

Via Flickr Nicole Yeary

Accumulate Social Media Followers

When you create a blog with high quality content, you need to share it on all social media sites you use. This provides your customers with value. Providing value in social media will help you accumulate more followers on these platforms. When you create your own content, you can integrate easily with your social media and people will share it to give more exposure to your website.

What are your favorite business blogs? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!