Why Should You Care About the Other Search Engines?

Standard

By Sue Brady

 

DuckDuckGo search engine

 

Wait, there are other search engines?

Google has 67% share of the search market. With over 19 billion total searches happening a month (Comscore, August 2013) there is no question that Google has a stronghold on the search market. However, other search engines represent 6 billion searches a month and should be a part of your search plan.  The partnership between Yahoo! and Microsoft’s Bing powers almost 30% of all searches.

Another search engine, DuckDuckGo, recently relaunched (in beta) with features to make it more useful. DuckDuckGo is small but does process almost 5 million searches a day. They’ve added image search and auto suggest along with some other features. The appeal of DuckDuckGo is privacy. Their claim is that they don’t track what you search. That can become a more valuable value proposition as time goes on and consumers decide that they like the idea of being able to search privately.

If you aren’t including at least Yahoo!/Bing in your search plans, you should be. Or more to the point, at a minimum you should be testing there. For one thing, Yahoo!/Bing will cost you less per click. You might be reaching fewer people, but importantly, your Cost per Click will be lower. Your strategy can be similar on both search engines. You can even import your Google ad campaigns into Bing.

As has been reported in the past by many other studies, click-thru rates and conversions on both Google and Yahoo!/Bing are fairly similar if you’re a small business. But for other advertisers, it seems that conversion rates are typically higher on Yahoo!/Bing. Here’s a great read by Amanda DiSilvestroon on why you should try Bing and how to get started with a Bing account.

Yahoo!/Bing has some new features like ad units called Hero Ads that come up when a user is searching for brand specific information (currently it’s a pilot program, only available on Windows 8). They offer call extensions on mobile ads and claim that those can yield up to 30% greater click-thru rates. And, Bing is the default search engine for Siri on the iOS7 release. Plus, search is being integrated into a number of Microsoft products such as Xbox, Windows 8, MS Office and others. Finally, while Google is no longer showing keywords that drive organic traffic to your site, Bing is not imposing that limitation in their analytics.

While this article will help you understand how much to actually spend on your campaigns, the real trick is to figure out how much to allocate between Google and Yahoo!/Bing and still be profitable. Plus, adding in some of the smaller engines like DuckDuckGo might give you surprising results. To figure out the balance, you’ll need to test. Definitely start with Google, and take your best keywords/phrases from there and test them on other search engines. If your profit is greater on Yahoo!/Bing or DuckDuckGo, try allocating additional spend to maximize that profit.

Know your options and continue to test so that you can adjust and balance to maximize your spending. Don’t forget, there are others besides Google who want your business.

Google: The big search engine gorilla

Some Cool Twitter Features You may not Know About

Standard

By Sue BradyTwitter

Twitter has recently rolled out a number of features. They are summarized here for your tweeting pleasure.

Mute Feature – It is now possible to continue to follow someone, but mute their updates for as long as you care to. In other words, if you decide you no longer want to see someone’s updates for a while, but you also don’t want to ‘unfollow’ them, you can put them on mute. This feature is not fully rolled out yet. I have access to it via TweetDeck (owned by Twitter), but not yet from Twitter.com. To see if you have this feature, click on the … that appears to the right under a person’s tweet. A box with options will present. Then click on mute. The person you mute is not notified. To unmute, go to Settings, click on ‘mute,’ then ‘remove’ and then ‘done.’ (Note: I would never mute Joe Pulizzi…this is just an example!)

Twitter mute  optionScheduling Tweets – This can be done from ads.twitter.com and will only work if your ad blocker is turned off or allows access to this particular site. Click on the new tweet button at the top right of your screen. A tweet box will open and you can select the Scheduling tab. There you’ll see the options to pick a date and time for your tweet. Finish by selecting the Tweet button in the lower right-hand corner. Read here about other tools you can use to schedule tweets.

Schedule your tweetsSearch – This feature has gotten more robust over time. When you run a search on twitter.com (there’s a search bar at the top-right of your screen), you’lTwitter search barl see the options pictured below on the left side of your screen. The ‘advanced search’ option will give you a ton of choices as well.

Twitter search options

Lists – Not a particularly new feature, but a good one to know about. Using lists allows you to organize the people you follow into categories that make sense for you. You can access this feature on twitter.com by clicking on the name of a person in your feed, and then selecting the gear to reveal the drop-down box. When you select the ‘Add or remove from lists’ option, you can add this person to a list you already have created, or you can create a new one. Note that unless you make your list private, anyone who comes to your profile page can see your list titles, along with who is included in those lists. In the example below, my list called ‘Partners’ is private, meaning I’m the only one who can see who I’ve put there.

Sue's Twitter Lists#tweetsmart!

 

If You Build it, They Will Come: How to Get Facebook to Work for You

Standard

By Sue BradyBuild a social media plan

With over 500,000 million active users, Facebook is an important tool for your social media strategy. If you aren’t sure how to set up your page, you can read this post. If your page is already setup, read on.

Goals. What do you want to get out of Facebook? Is your goal customer engagement? Are you trying to reach influencers to spread the word about your product? Do you want prospective employees to see your page and want to come work for you? Or is your goal simply to get as many followers for your page as you can (aka ‘likes’) in the hopes of driving more business?

Content. After you’ve set your goals, think about what you want to post about. Your topics should support your goals. Are all of your posts going to be product-centric, can they Editorial Calendars are Importantvary with the seasons, do you want to include personal stories about some of your employees? Whatever it is, establish a content calendar to help guide you. This calendar can help you organize all of your social media content (across different media), and probably should. I have a client who lets multiple people post dependent on the day, but the theme for the content is provided by management. Your content calendar can be a simple excel sheet that tracks date, title, topic and keywords.

Content Sources. Sources of content are plentiful. Think about asking your sales people for the types of questions they hear from customers. Or talk to your customer service phone or sales reps. They have daily interactions and are a wealth of information. Ask other employees if they have a pertinent topic they’d like to write about. Take a look at your competitors and see what they are writing about. Or check out what experts in your industry are saying.

Posting. Decide on your posting frequency. Will it be multiple times a day, daily, weekly, monthly? It’s important that you are clear here. If you post too much, fans may ‘unfollow’ you. And the same may happen if you don’t post enough. Facebook is a visual medium, so post with pictures. Here are some statistics from KISSmetrics that show the value of posting with pictures:

  • Posts with photos get 53% more likesPhotos with likes get more shares
  • Posts with photos get 104% more comments
  • Posts with photos get 84% more click-thrus

KISSmetrics also states that posting with a question generates 100% more comments than posting a statement. Get users to engage with your brand by asking questions!

Gaining Fans

  • Ask your personal network to ‘like’ your business page. It’s a great way to gain exposure early on, and to generate some immediate buzz and activity on your feed.
  • Include ‘Please share this’ in your post. You’ll generate more shares that way.
  • Advertise. Advertising on Facebook took a while to work for many brands. But that’s been changing. I know a company who went from a fan base of less than a few hundred followers to over 5,000 fans in three months. How? After about 6-months on Facebook they started running ads that offered a cents off coupon. Now they are enjoying much greater customer engagement, with fairly frequent posts from customers on their page. Facebook has some easy to use methods to help you maximize return on your advertising. This post is a great read on the subject. (Little known fact from the folks at Hubspot: you can test your messaging before you run your ad by creating unpublished posts, known as dark posts. Dark posts appear in the News Feed but not on your timeline. This article tells you how to do it.) If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s another gem from Hubspot explaining the options.

Why do consumers follow brands?

  • It’s no secret that a big reason consumers like brands is because they are hoping for coupons. In a survey by market research company Lab42, they found that 77% of those who had ‘liked’ a brand saved money as a result. Tweet that stat! In the same study, 69% said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.
  • Understand the Facebook Algorithm. Facebook’s goal is to keep users interested, and to do that, they show content they think will be of interest, based on past behaviors. It’s important to understand this because it impacts how your posts will be ranked. Rank is determined through an algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank. EdgeRank was created as a way to prioritize stories in a user’s news feed and referred to the concept of ‘gaining an edge.’ The key elements have remained the same over the years, although according to Facebook, they now use over 100,000 factors.

Key Elements in Facebook’s EdgeRank

  • Affinity Score – This is based on an action the user took, his ‘closeness’ to the person posting, and how much time has passed since the posting. Commenting on someone’s posts, or ‘liking’ those posts, increases a fan’s affinity to a brand. ‘Liking’ gives that brand an edge.
  • Edge Weight – Edges are weighted based on the effort required on the part of the user. Leaving a comment has more weight than leaving a ‘like.’ A video view has more weight than leaving a comment.
  • Time Decay – This refers to the length of time that has passed since an edge was created. As time passes, it loses value. However, if a story is very popular, even if it’s a few hours old, it could be bumped to the top of a feed.

You can read more about EdgeRank here.

3. Promotions. Promotions are a great way to garner fans on Facebook. But there are rules that have to be followed. The rules around promotions continue to evolve, so make sure you are using the most current set. For instance, it is now okay to use the ‘like’ functionality as a way to collect entries. Here’s a summary of the <current> Facebook rules as of August, 2013. You also must follow local and national rules imposed by the government (check with your lawyer!).

Be prepared for trolls. A troll is someone who frequently posts negative comments on your page. Trolls can be problematic. They may have a legitimate beef with your company or maybe they have nothing better to do. Have a plan. And, let management know that they are likely to see some negative comments on the company Facebook page. No surprises. And also let them know you have a plan.

See you on Facebook!

How do I get Started with Social Media?

Standard

By Sue Brady

treasure chestSo you want to get started but you feel like there’s so much you aren’t sure of.  How do you uncover the hidden treasure that is social media? Do some reading on the topic, starting here, and you’ll be on your way in no time. It’s not as hard as you may think!

  1. GOALS. Establish your social media goals. What do you hope to accomplish with social media: are you looking for awareness, loyalty, sales, customer service opps? Whatever you decide, this will drive your presence online. Your goals help you determine the type of content you post to promote the behaviors you want to see, and also help you determine the places where you should have a presence. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to post content that will be shared. In that case, the goal is customer engagement as measured by shares. Or let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to your website. In that case you would be including links to pages on your site, and you’d measure clicks on that link.Links
  2. AUDIENCE. Next you need to figure out where your audience is: where do they like to go online? I heard a great way to do that last night from Brad Farris at Anchor Advisors:
    • Compile a Twitter list of your ideal customers and follow them
    • Capture all of their tweets for 10 or so days
    • Sort out all of their tweets that have links
    • Visit all of those links and identify if there are common sites, or types of sites, among the group.
  3. EDITORIAL CALENDAR. Develop an editorial calendar to keep topics you want to write about organized. This will also help you remember that specific keywords are important in order for your posts to gain traction with the search engines. There are many templates that you can find on the Internet, but what’s most important is that the calendar has what you need. My calendar is very simple. I keep an Excel spreadsheet that has dates down the left hand side and the following categories across the top: Author, Title, Status (ie, written, published), 3-5 Keywords or Tags, Category (general topic of the post), and Notes. I have a separate tab for each site I post to (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.). This will also help ensure you are posting with sufficient frequency.  If you have nothing of interest to post, it’s best not to post anything that hour/day/week.
    Make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. Give your customers and prospects a reason to return to your site. Interesting and useful content is a way to do that. Also, remember that some content does not necessarily translate well to different social media sites, so make sure you are creating your pieces with a specific posting destination in mind.
  4. ANALYTICS AND MONITORING. Set up analytics and monitoring. From the start, you’ll want to understand what is happening with the content on all of your sites. Use analytics to determine if you are meeting your goals and to drive further engagement. You can track what’s been successful and replicate it to drive future success.
    Make sure you monitor all of your sites to hear what your customers and prospects are saying and to answer any questions being directed to you. Monitoring can help you nip a problem in the bud (see point 6 below).
    There are many sources for social media monitoring that also include analytics. Some examples include: Hootsuite, Salesforce, Meltwater, and Brandwatch, and there are many others. Google Analytics is of course widely used as well on the analytics side, so read about how you can use it.  Read reviews, sit through some product demos, and determine what would work best for you.
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. It’s important to have a social media policy for your employees. This policy should be a part of your overall employee policy document and cover things like: code of conduct for your company, roles and responsibilities of employees who will be posting, who can post on behalf of the company, company policies such as the treatment of confidential information, external laws if appropriate, and best practices for online behavior. You’ll want a lawyer to review your policy to make sure all is good. Here’s an example of a well-written social media policy by Coca Cola: (source: Andy Sernovitz)
  6. NEGATIVE COMMENTS. Be prepared to hear negative comments from customers. Sooner or later, everyone gets them.  The key is to have a plan for dealing with them. I’ve already posted about Handling Trolls here. Not only should you yourself have a plan for dealing with these comments but you should also make sure your management is forewarned. You don’t want an upset CEO calling you because they read something negative and want you to remove the comment immediately. Negative comments are to be expected. The trick is to handle them well and quickly, so that they will have little importance and visibility. And removing the comments is really a last resort option, as you don’t want your readers to doubt the honesty of the site.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Monitor your results and over time you’ll figure out what works best for you. You’ll learn things from your customers you’ve never even considered. Talk about a treasure trove of information!

Gold bars cropped