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12 websites digital marketers should be reading

Photo by Ewan Robertson on UnsplashThe Internet is awash with blogs, news sites, and social media outlets but which websites can give you new insights and help to steal a lead over your competitors? We have compiled a list of 12 sites which we think will give you the competitive advantage. Bookmark them, follow them, Flip them or just visit them!

Wired

Wired has been around since the early 1990's and continues to offer cutting-edge articles on a range of subjects from business to culture. It is well-known for articles on the latest developments in technology. Gotta be one of my favourites!

Sample article: The Blockchain Explained

Harvard Business Review

An excellent read especially if you're looking for articles on strategy, working effectively and HR, to name but a few. Many of the articles are free though sometimes, for more in-depth articles, you will need to subscribe.

Sample article: Why a Gen-X CEO Hired a Millennial to Help Him Keep a Learning Mindset

Fortune

There was a time when Fortune had a pure focus on "C-suite" business news. Like many other publications/websites it now seems to offering wider reading options, though many of its articles are aimed at chief executives, chief financial officers, etc.

Sample article: Here's Why Twitter Won't Suspend or Delete Donald Trump's Account

MIT Sloan Review

Fascinating articles on a range of subjects aimed at "academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology, that are transforming how people lead and innovate." A very good read for those doing level 4 and level 6 CIM qualifications, along with marketing and business under/post graduates.

Sample article: Are You Taking the Wrong Approach to Digital Transformation?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Bloomberg produces titles on subject like markets, tech and business. Though quite a lot of the articles are US focused, often on US politics/business, there are still interesting reads to be found here.

Sample article: Facebook Is Still In Denial About Fake News

Entrepreneur

This magazine seems to have a focus on start-ups, franchisees and would-be entrepreneurs. You will find the usual "get rich" and investment articles but you'll also find interesting articles on digital marketing and interview tips, networking and tips on growing your business.

Sample article:  The Face of Intelligent Marketing? Your Customer

Inc.

A quick look at the sections of this American website/magazine will give you an idea of the primary focus of its articles: Startup, Lead, Grow, Innovate and Technology. Articles are often varied, relatively easy and short to read.

Sample Article5 Productivity Tips to Get Your Work Done (Now That It's Dark at 4 P.M.)

AdWeek

Guess what? It's about advertising! Anything and everything to do with advertising. It also has a healthy mix of articles relating to digital marketing which is always of interest to our clients. Stats and case studies make it of interest to students.

Sample articleThese Digital Billboards From McDonald’s Change Depending on How Bad the Traffic Is

Fast Company

This is one of my favourite magazines (alongside Wired) and, as their site says, "Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, and design". So, there you have it!

Sample article: For Amazon, The Future Of Alexa Is About The End Of The Smartphone Era

Entrepreneurship - NY Times

Entrepreneurs, start-ups, innovation, funding and small business - these are the topics you will find on this website. Like its parent site, the Entrepreneur section offers meaty and interesting articles which are also well-written. Not as frequent as others but worth a read.

Sample articleA Paintbrush in One Hand, and a Drink in the Other

VentureBeat

If Big data, Cloud, Deals, Dev, Enterprise, Entrepreneur, Gaming, Mobile, Security, Small Biz, and Social float your boat then Venture Beat may be the place for you to check out. Definitely worth a read.

Sample article: AI Weekly: Digital assistants are changing business, but they still need human help

TechCrunch

TechCrunch covers the business side of technology. When news breaks about the latest digital innovations/disruptions TechCrunch is often the first to break it. Its Crunchbase offers great insights into people, investments and companies in the tech industry. Another "must-read" publication.

Sample articleTwitter fixes another important problem with support for 50-character usernames


Tweet length goes from 140 to 280 characters

Yesterday Twitter increased its character count from the famous 140 characters to 280 characters. It would appear they carried out a trial among a small group of users in September but have now rolled it out to the majority of users. According to Twitter:

Historically, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit. This reflects the challenge of fitting a thought into a Tweet, often resulting in lots of time spent editing and even at times abandoning Tweets before sending.

Twitter also found through this experiment that:

more space makes it easier for people to fit thoughts in a Tweet, so they could say what they want to say, and send Tweets faster than before.

You might think that doubling the character limit to 280 may result in people using up this limit but what was interesting was that Twitter found that only 5% went over the 140 character limit and 2% went over 190 characters. In terms of engagement the folks at Twitter also found that:

In addition to more Tweeting, people who had more room to Tweet received more engagement (Likes, Retweets, @mentions), got more followers, and spent more time on Twitter. People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall.

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Multiple Images Make LinkedIn Posts Much More Interesting

LinkedIn has recently refreshed its update facility to allow users to add multiple images to posts. This latest development is designed to make your posts much more interesting to your followers. Imagine you're at a conference or even if you want to showcase features of your latest products, this might be of interest to you. 


Social Media Spotlight On: Flavourly Craft Beers

This article started out as a focus on customer love within social media: that is how brands embrace/encourage their customers to positively interact with the brand using tools such as images on Instagram or retweets, but it then developed into a review on how an online Craft brewery was using social media.  It is the 2nd such article we have done on this subject - the first being on Starbucks Social Media efforts . Flavourly is an Edinburgh-based craft beer club, which sends monthly boxes of craft beer to its customers. I came across them through some tweets that appeared in my Twitter timeline. Ironically, the first tweet I saw was a little dig at them for including one bottle less in their monthly pack - however, it was followed up by an apology and a promise to rectify said error.

How does Flavourly work?

They invite you to either sign up for a monthly 'supply' of 10 bottles or to offer this delivery as a gift to friends (the company also has a gin club). The cost of membership is £20 and includes a selection of light, dark or mixed cases. Flavourly encourage  you to rate the beers so they can be personalised to your own tastes. And here is some blurb from their own website:

At Flavourly, our team of top beer experts help you discover the best small batch craft beer from UK (and beyond) microbreweries who brew with a passion for quality, not quantity!

What Social Media channels do they use?

Flavourly use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. There is a blog but it looks like it may have been mothballed as they haven't updated it for over a year. YouTube and Vimeo accounts can be found but little activity has happened on them.

Facebook

The company has a very good following on both Facebook and Twitter with a decent following on Instagram. Their approach to using these social media channels, appears on the surface, to be quite different. Facebook is a channel that is used to introduce the craft beer companies that they have teamed up with and whose beer they offer clients. They give some insights to the companies and very often include 'behind-the-scenes' peeks as to how these companies operate. These updates are enjoyed by customers as they help tell the brand's story. Here is one such example:

Have you heard the amazing story of Hillstown Brewery? A passionate pair of eejits in Northern Ireland decided to feed...

Posted by Flavourly.com on Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Twitter

Twitter seems to be an ideal channel for retweeting 'customer love'. To a large part the company itself is proactive in 'pushing' customers to publish images - each craft beer boxes is emblazoned with the words:

"Grab a brew, snap a picture, and join the community on Twitter using the hashtag below, it's lots of fun!"

Here are some recent examples of their customers publishing user generated content:

and another:

Instagram
Their Instagram account - FlavourlyHq seems to be made up of user generated content from the folks at Flavourly. It features their beer, their suppliers, their staff, some behind-the-scenes images and images of boxes/materials/magazine. All good stuff.

Related Article
Social Media Spotlight On: Starbucks

Related Courses
Social Media Course London
Twitter Course


Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2017

For all you Internet stat monkeys out there, this is probably the highlight of the year for you - the presentation of Mary Meeker's Internet Trends report.  And this year you have an absolute treat as she has packed 355 slides into this slide deck. 

Here's what some of the folks on Twitter have learnt/are saying about it:

And this one on newspapers:

And here's one on mobile usage - over 3 hours per day in USA

Someone identified that 69 of the 355 slides were dedicated to online advertising.

Whilst these guys found it interesting that Marketing topped the cloud services used.


3 Great Tools To Create Better Instagram For Business Updates

Every week there seems to be new developments in Social Media, designed to make the platforms easier to use or to create more functionality or as as ways to help you help them generate more money! Here are a few which are generally used on Instagram, but some can be used on Facebook, which will help offer a better experience for your customers. Instagram is definitely one channel that marketers need to consider, especially considering that there are 600 million "Instagrammers" and it is adding 50% more users per month these days than it had been over the previous two years.

Layout

Layout is an app by Instagram that lets you combine, flip and mirror multiple photos into a single image for a fun, one-of-a-kind take on your photos. You can do it all from your phone. Check out the video below to hopefully give you some inspiration and ideas for creating engaging photos. Download the app on iOS or Android.

Boomerang

According to Instagram with Boomerang "you can make everyday moments fun and unexpected with captivating mini videos that loop back and forth. All you need is a little movement, your phone and the Boomerang app for iOS or Android". A key ingredient for this app, along with the one below is movement.

Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse does away with the need for "bulky tripods and expensive equipment" - ideal in a world where most of us, and especially digital marketer, will have access to the latest smartphone technology. Hyperlapse seems to solve one of marketer's main bugbears and that is shaky video footage. And as Instagram says, "even the most common of subjects can turn into a cool, well-made video." Check out the video below and give the app a test drive on iOS or Android.


Social Media Spotlight On: Starbucks

I thought I'd begin a series of blog articles focusing on what some of the brands are doing on Twitter.  Starbucks is the first company that we'll point a spotlight on. Over the past few years Starbucks has featured in some form or other on most of our our Social Media courses. They are a company that really seem to get social media and are often at the cutting edge when it comes to new, innovative use of social networks. we must also remember that their products/stores easily lend themselves to the visual updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. As you'll see below they also garner a steady stream of likes, retweets and replies. Promoting a new seasonal initiative.

Wonderful use of gif images. Makes you want to buy one, doesn't it?

Neat way of getting some engagement. Notice the use of the hashtag.

Focusing on a worthy initiative - in a fun way, enraging way.

When Starbucks want to make a big impression they work with amazing animators like Rachel Ryle, who creates really special animated gifs.

Retweeting selected tweets. Like many brands Starbucks is careful in its selection of tweets to retweet. For the most part it tends to retweet text-only tweets like this one:

though once in a while when a Twitter user exploits the right mix of visual and text (story), Starbucks will retweet out (notice how this is a tweet from an employee, though).


Enter Our Spring Competition To Win A Free Book!



'Truly addictive'
Malcolm Gladwell * 'Brilliant' Susan Cain * 'Essential' Charles Duhigg

This Spring we thought we'd offer as a free prize Adam Alter's, Irresistible. You won't believe the number of times we get asked what makes social media and mobile so addictive. There are so many factors at play here and we hope that you'll find the answers in this book.

How many times have you checked your phone today? Why are messaging apps, email and social media so hard to resist? How come we always end up watching another episode?

In recent years, media and technology have perfected the lucrative art of gaining and holding our attention. This extraordinary feat has changed the behaviour of billions of people, and especially the young: by current medical standards, we are experiencing an unprecedented, global pandemic of addiction. But what exactly is an addiction? And what, if anything, might we do about it?

From cliff-hangers to earworms, from religion to pornography, and from the awesome allure of the 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' app to the unexpected benefits of the 'butt-brush effect', Irresistible blends fascinating stories with ingenious science to explain how and why we all got hooked. Revealing the surprising causes and sometimes bizarre nature of addiction, this book will equip you with the tools and understanding you need to navigate our irresistible new world.

To enter the competition to win this free book, please complete the form below. The winner will be notified on Thursday, April 13th 2017.


Are You Making Digital Marketing Waves or Ripples?

Adobe Spark-5

Just before the summer I came across an interesting article from Darren Rowse, entitled How I use Google Analytics ‘Compare’ Feature to Motivate Me to Grow My Blog. Though it is around 3 years' old, the basic idea really resonated with me. In it Rowse highlights the 'hourly' feature of Audience Overview within Google Analytics. This interesting Analytics report splits the day into hourly segments and lets you view the number of sessions per hour (in the form of a graph). However, what Darren Rowse does is add an extra element - comparison of today against yesterday or the week before.

What grabbed my attention was the idea of trying to see how you could possibly make one hour, or a number of hours today, 'beat' the session count from another day. Imagine that you look at your graph and say, "it looks like 9.00 isn't performing as well as this time last week." Well, your challenge is to consider the tactical digital tools at your disposal, and boy there are MANY, which could improve on last week's rankings. Whilst this is very much a reactive exercise, it would well turn into a proactive one in the future once you know what works and whats doesn't for you.

One topic the we cover on our digital courses is the interconnectedness of many of your digital media channels.Taking your website as the centre of digital marketing activity we consider how you might go about 'making noise' or making waves through this digital network. For the remainder of this article we will explore how you can go about doing this.

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation is the foundation on which much of your digital marketing activity is built and making sure the your website is positioned highly on Google is a key objective. So, what should you be doing on a frequent basis?

Keyword Checking. Are you using the right combination of keywords? Are you going for highly trafficked keywords or focusing on the long tail? Let's say that I am looking at keywords for social media courses in London", do I go for the high volume (where there is potentially higher competition ) or for lower volume (where there MAY be lower competition but richer pickings)? Once you know the right keywords, you can start by placing them in key locations: page titles, content, links, headlines, meta descriptions and more.

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 09.29.19

Page Titles. Are you using the right keywords in your page title? Let's assume that most people don't enter your website on the home page, then the company name/brand is not important at this point. Think about the theme of the page and change keywords accordingly.

Search Console. I wrote an article on Search Console last year so won't go into it in too much detail but from an SEO perspective these things are important:

    1. Search Analytics. Where are you positioned? How many clicks are you getting for your keywords but as importantly how many of the keyword impressions display "0" for you? 0 means that people are not clicking on your listing in Google but on someone else's which probably means you are not optimising your pages (on-site and off-site) for Google. This is a great opportunity for you to get untapped traffic, so get working on it!
    2. Fetch as Google. If you have created new pages or modified other pages (see below), then you might want to use this tool so that Google can identify your site in a matter of hours (not weeks!).
    3. Data highlighter. Offering events, courses, confernces? Well, you should be using this tool as it gives your website more visibility in the search engines. Check this out:

serps21

Meta Descriptions - These are 160-character strings which allow a website to indicate what a page is about. They are often used by search engines to supplement your search results. We often say that they can mean the difference between someone clicking on your link and your competitors in the Search engine results. However, did you also know that social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook also use them when displaying information that you share (notice below)?meta

Email Marketing

So. you're harvesting email addresses for your mailing lists but are you telling your customers about the latest products, services and offerings that your company has to offer?  Use email marketing to flag up the following:

  • New products and services
  • Latest blog articles
  • Company news
  • Achievements (in our case congratulating students on passing their exams)
  • What about new staff?
  • Latest promotions?
  • Book offers?

Aside from using your email marketing package (such as MailChimp), have you considered using email signatures to flag up new articles, products, offers, etc? On my email accounts I often have different offers. So, someone who has already been on one of our courses will be invited to sign up for a special rate on another course.

Social Media Marketing

Each time I write a blog article or have a new product/service that I would like to promote, I'll fire up many of my social media tools. Let's go through how you might use each of the tools.

Twitter - OK, first thing you need to consider is what you are trying to promote and then consider crafting a tweet with some or all of the following checklist:

  • Image - have you sourced or created (possibly using Canva) an image that conveys the message of the article of page you wish to promote?
  • Link - have you made sure you have created a link on Bit.ly (probably using your custom link)?
  • Hashtag - have you identified the broad hashtag that sums up what the tweet is about and how about the 'granular' (or focused hashtag which may directly relate to your business)?
  • Call to action?
  • Keywords - have you thought about the correct use of keywords in your 140 characters?
  • Photo tagging - could you have tagged someone in the tweet (journalists, stakeholder, etc)?

In his book, the Art of Social Media, Guy Kawasaki invites Twitter users to try and 're-use' some of their tweets. Don't just tweet once, but use the same tweet at different times. Aside from tweeting another way to gain some traction for your tweets, and hence content, is to pay for Twitter advertising.  The potential benefit of using this to complement your tweets is that you can now expand the reach of your tweets outside of your followers. What about directing tweets at influencers within your industry (with the hope of a Retweet or alert a follow or reply)?

LinkedIn - I use LinkedIn on a few different levels. Firstly, I use it inform the people who are following me that I have added something new to my website - blog article, new service, etc. It is possible that I might  'repurpose' (or slightly change the updates) as we mentioned in the Twitter section. Images and links are vitally important and don't forget that LinkedIn sends 4 times as many people to your website than Twitter or Facebook. I also find that Sundays are pretty good days for pushing people to the website from LinkedIn. LinkedIn groups are another place that I will often go to, having published something on my website, just to flag up articles of interest for members. And don't forget to use your Company Page on LinkedIn. I find that many companies tend to neglect their LinkedIn company pages but don't forget your contacts/clients/employees/stakeholders are using this platform more and more so, why not use it to flag up stories of interest to them? And how about the good, old direct message? Consider who in your network might find your new content/offers/products of interest and then directly message them. It does work!

Facebook - this may not be your 'top' platform for 'professional social networking' but that doesn't mean that people don't use it to check friends/family updates during the day. They do - all day, every day! And, of course, if they're following your company page, they can also receive bang-up-to-date information from your website. So, why not create schedule those updates and get them to appear at peak viewing times on Facebook? Learn for your success full updates (check Insights). For certain posts that are working (engagement and reach) or those you think may need nudging, why not boost a post? Don't forget that organic reach for your Facebook posts may be as low as 6.5% and these boosts can help you reach either more of your Facebook followers or even those who are part of your potential market.

Related Courses

Social Media Marketing Course (London and Cardiff)
CAM Diploma in Digital Marketing