With Social Media, Aim for Quality Over Quantity

In November, Facebook eliminated “like-gates,” the practice of requiring users to “like” a page in order to participate in a contest or access exclusive content.

In December the “Instagram Rapture” removed millions of fake accounts and sent the follower counts for the heaviest users – including Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian – plummeting overnight.

Most recently, Facebook took steps to remove voluntarily deactivated or memorialized accounts from pages’ “like” counts, causing a smaller scale drop in likes for many brand pages, including several pages we manage.

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Facebook’s change makes sense; after all, it’s meant to take users who no longer use Facebook out of the equation and it’s an extension of policies already in place that remove likes and comments from inactive users from individual posts.

It seems like every time a social media channel announces a clean-up effort, the changes prompt an online uproar from social media managers who live and die by their follower counts, along with an outpouring of articles on how to survive under the new rules. Want our advice? Stop worrying about short-term shifts in the numbers and instead focus on building a quality social media following.

Cleaning out inactive accounts– and certainly fake, spammy accounts – makes it easier for marketers and social media managers to build a profile of their true followers and engage with people who want to hear from their brand. It makes targeting tools like Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences more accurate. And, frankly, it makes social media more enjoyable to use when you’re not constantly monitoring your accounts for computer-generated comments and spammy posts.

So if all the social media housecleaning had a major impact on your online following, give us a call. We’re happy to talk about long-term strategies for building an audience that will stick around to hear what you have to say.

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Office Yoga

Let’s face it: work can be stressful sometimes. Add that on top of sitting at a desk all day, and you have a recipe for stiff muscles that are begging to be stretched. This past January, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training program. I could go on and on about the benefits of yoga: increased flexibility, decreased stress levels, increased muscle tone and so on, but I’ll save that for another day. However, you may be thinking, “How does yoga relate to a marketing blog?” Let me explain.2015-03-12_0001

How many times during your 9-5 job do you move in an hour? Not a lot, right? It’s easy to get caught up in emails, media pitches and social media posts and before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t stood up for 3 hours. If this sounds like you- keep reading!

What better way to combat excessive sitting for long periods of time? You guessed it: yoga! Doing the following easy moves at your desk will keep your muscles happy and will probably help your mood throughout your day!

Gentle Twist: What better way to keep your spine happy then with a nice, gentle twist. Use your chair to help you get into the pose. With each inhale, lengthen your spine and with each exhale, see if you can’t twist just a little bit deeper!

Backbend: Inhale your arms up high, clasping the hands together and interlacing the fingers if possible. This is a great counter-pose for the hunched back we tend to deal with when typing at the computer all day. Keep breathing!

Forward Fold: This can be done seated or standing- whichever you prefer. Either way, fold forward over your legs and let your head and neck hang heavy. Feel free to rock from side to side if that feels nice! Also, if you’re standing, but find your hamstrings are tight, go ahead and bend your knees as much as you need to!

Supported Headstand (Bonus Pose): Please note that you MAY get funny looks from your co-workers when you randomly break into a headstand at the wall. But, if you can get past the stares, the benefits to this pose are certainly worth it.

So, there you have it! Five simple yoga poses you can do throughout the work day to help make you feel great!

Namaste.

 

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Google Analytics Cohort Analysis; Overview and Offline Conversion Tracking

You may have noticed the new Cohort Analysis report in Google Analytics recently. Most of our clients have access to the new feature, but it looks like Google is still rolling it out to all users. We always get excited for shiny new charts, but this one could have a much bigger impact on your reporting and Google Analytics’ overall reporting power.

Google Analytics Cohort Analysis

So what is cohort analysis? It’s not just a report that Google invented. It’s been used in marketing analytics for a while as a way to look beyond sessions and conversions, which can sometimes be one-dimensional, and see trends in how a user interacts overtime. The standard, textbook definition you’ll commonly read is: the behavior of a group of users defined by a common attribute and represented by a common metric.

So what can we do with that? The cohort analysis report defaults to user retention (metric) by day (size). Right now the only “Cohort Type” is “Acquisition Date,” which is a fancy way of saying the date of the first visit. This chart and graph show the percentage of users who return to your site one day after the acquisition date, two days after, three days after, etc., etc. This can be a very valuable report if your website is heavily content driven. How many people are coming back for new blog posts, webinars and white papers? You can change the metric to see how session duration and pages per session change with visits over time. This version of the report also makes a lot of sense if you’re a SaaS provider, tracking an app or generally provide a web-based solution. How many people come back, reengage and continue using the service? You can filter these users by specific channels or content types (using advanced segments) to get a measure of where your best customers originate.

But there are also some pretty interesting ways you can use the tool to uncover new info on your conversion funnel.

Shed light on offline conversions

We work with a non-ecommerce site that uses a free sample request as a primary call to action. Users get the sample and then go to a dealer to make the final purchase. Because most of the resulting steps happen offline, it’s difficult to tell which users are purchasing and which drop out after receiving a sample. This is where cohort analysis comes in. We can filter our cohorts by converters (by adding an advanced segment) to see when and how often these converters come back to the site and reengage. In other words, this can tell us how long it takes a user to research and narrow their consideration set.

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We found found large clusters of users returning to the site after three to five weeks. It may seem like a long time, but the product is a relatively significant and expensive B2B purchase with multiple SKU options and several internal and external audiences who consult in the final decision. When you add all these factors to the shipping time, it’s not unreasonable to assume it takes roughly a month to narrow a consideration set or make a decision.

Cohort analysis alone is not the solution. We need to combine this info with other Google Analytics reports to tell the whole story, but it uncovers part of an ongoing mystery about our offline conversions. Now, we can take a deeper look at how converters come back to the site, what pages they view and what indicates they’re moving closer to purchase. More importantly, this can inform other parts of our marketing. We can find the best time to email users who requested samples or adapt our remarketing program to ensure we’re displaying the right message (based on pages users view when they return) at the right time (when they return). We can even redesign sample packaging to provide more relevant information when the package arrives, shortening the overall time to purchase.

What does this say about Google Analytics?

When Google made the switch to Universal Analytics, we knew the user-based approach would have a lot of benefits. Cohort analysis is one of the first reports to lean heavily on the tool’s ability to accurately track users. As the tool moves out of beta, we hope to see more cohort types and other user-based reports. So be on the lookout for new reports and tools!

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The Science of Copywriting

Let’s talk about your copy. Search, display, social, email, landing page – doesn’t matter. First of all, I’m sure it’s great. Your copywriter knows the audience and the writing is effective. But here’s the question… could it be better? If not, return to Facebook and go about your day. Now, if you feel there’s some room for improvements, let’s talk.

What could be better?

Could you use a more engaging tone? Are your key messages effective? Are you asking users to read too much or do they want to know more?

There are a lot of variables at work. Most marketers view copywriting as a left-brain activity, but when we isolate these individual factors, we can introduce a touch of right- brain that connects your copy to your goals. So what’s the answer?

A/B testing.

I know, I know. Calm down and let me explain; It’s more than a buzzword. Marketers generally have one of two thoughts about A/B testing.

  1. Crippling fear of numbers
  2. Passive nodding because you get it and you’re a pro

I say to both of you: A/B testing can be incredibly easy and incredibly easy to overcomplicate. For us, it comes down to three considerations: Isolate, tag and test. Remember those three things and you’re well on your well to better conversion rates.

True-Copytesting

Isolate

When you look at copywriting as a sacred, creative process that must be organic, it’s hard to isolate. And it makes sense – like colors and brushstrokes in a painting, all these factors work together to make a final product. But when you take a step back, it’s still just brushstrokes and colors. What if this stroke was broader or that color was brighter? Pick one area that may be weak, and try something new.

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Tag

Naming convention is crucial to testing. As campaigns get more and more complex, we need short-hand to keep track. Your ads, emails and pages all have a lot of elements. For example, you have email campaigns that address several audiences and you want to test a call to action (CTA). Try something like:

Edition_Number-Audience-KeyTheme-CTA

Now we can test the following CTAs and clearly determine the winner. More importantly we can test as many CTAs as we want over the next year. As long as we are consistent, we always have clear data.

  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-BuyNowCTA
  • 078-WestCoastDealers-Spring2015sale-LearnMoreCTA

Test

This can be the tricky part. How do you implement the test. For landing pages, Google Analytics has a tool that will automatically serve your test pages. Some email systems link MailChimp and ExactTarget have the feature already built in. And any good ad platform allows you to ad and test a lot of variations.

Social media can be a little more difficult to run a test because we don’t want to post the same thing over and over again. There are ways to adapt your content calendar to test a single variable over time. More on that another time.

One last caution: sample size. The goal is a sample large enough for statistical significance. I know audience size doesn’t always allow for a large enough sample. So when you’re dealing with smaller numbers, tread lightly. Feel free to reach out for more on that one (don’t want to bore all these copywriters with too many numbers).

But for now – go forth! Isolate, tag and test!

 

 

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How Are Those New Year’s Resolutions Coming Along?

newyearIf your New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside, you’re in good company. Every year, 45% of Americans make resolutions and 92% of those fail to keep them. If personal improvement seems like too lofty a goal for 2015, why not apply a few of the most common resolutions to your blog instead?

Resolution #1: Lose Weight/Get Fit
Getting rid of the extra weight on your blog will help your pages load faster and create a better user experience. High resolution images and WordPress plugins are two of the most common causes of slow page load. Trim the fat by reducing image size and resolution before you upload, rather than relying on HTML scaling to display images at the proper side. Take a look at your list of plugins and remove any that aren’t absolutely necessary, and look for plugins that can do double duty.

Resolution #2: Get Organized
If you’ve been adding categories and tags to your blog posts without any real strategy, chances are you’ve created quite a bit of content clutter in the process. Take some time to clean house. Decide on a manageable set of categories that encompass the types of content you typically write and consolidate posts into those categories. Clean up tags, too. If you have multiple versions of the same tag with capital letters, no capital letters, plural versions and singular versions, decide on a tag strategy and weed out all the stragglers.

Resolution #3: Reduce Stress
Developing a content calendar is the number one way to avoid spending 20 minutes staring at a blank screen because it’s 4 p.m., you need to write something and you’re fresh out of ideas. Plan ahead. Use that list of categories you cleaned up in resolution #2 and brainstorm post ideas for each one. Set up a tentative schedule for at least a month’s worth of content and try to build up a cache of finished posts, whether that means working a week or two ahead on your calendar or creating a handful of “evergreen” posts that you can rely on for blogging emergencies.

The year is still young. Take the rest of January to make a plan and implement a few changes, and you can join that smug 8% of resolution-makers who actually succeed!

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Free Kittens – What’s in a title? Everything.

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Pictured from left to right: Molly & Vito- Allison’s adorable kittens!

In our ADD-stricken lifestyle where we can’t be bothered to read more than a smartphone screen’s worth of information, a good title is more important than ever before. While titles have always needed to be attention grabbing to pull readers into an article, it was Twitter that really changed the game. Twitter forced us all to step up our creative game since the title or lead is the only words that show in Twitter.

I’m seeing the trend continue on Facebook where headlines are all competing for my time and attention. Here’s what’s on my Facebook feed right now:

25 Hilariously Awkward Texts Only a Mom Could Send from Distractify – I wonder if any of my mom’s text messages made this list? Probably.

10 Habits that are Killing your Productivity from Business Insider – I’m guessing that reading Facebook and getting sucked in by the headlines is one of them.

11 Health Problems Hidden on Your Face from The Weather Channel – Okay, the headline didn’t get me as much as the source. Why is the Weather Channel reporting on health issues?

Why are you So Damned Scared of Nipples from Huffington Post – Is it wrong to admit that I’m bummed this is a podcast and there are no pictures? I never thought I was afraid of nipples. Must find out why I am now.

Who needs pick up lines when you have this sweater from Awkward Family Photos – I don’t even have to read; just look at pictures? Sold!

Beagle siblings team up to fight a toy snake from Mashable – Don’t get me started on puppies. Only possible better headline would be Pug Puppies or cats, which of course rule the Internet. I just can’t say no to a cute, little puppy.

So the next time you’re working on a blog post or article, spend time on your headline and include attention-grabbing words. Remember, you had me at “kittens.”

 

 

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Finding your Strengths

imageI was asked to come back to Kent State University (my alma mater) and speak at PRSSA’s annual Communications Connection event. This was my second time speaking at this event, and it’s still crazy to me because I feel like it was just yesterday that I was the student attending this event to gain knowledge from area professionals.

The topic I was given was “finding your strengths” and I thought I would recap the key points I told the students.

  • Identify what you love to do and recognize what you excel at. Build on those strengths and find opportunities that will allow you to do what you love.
  • It’s OK to not know what all of your strengths are! This can take time, and that’s totally fine. (There is a great book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, that takes the guess work out of identifying your strengths and weaknesses.)
  • Take advantages of committees (i.e. PRSSA Kent and AAF Kent), internships and jobs. This will allow you to gain valuable knowledge and get experience in multiple areas. You never know when these opportunities will turn into a passion you didn’t even know you had.
  • When interviewing for an internship or job, I highly recommend having a section in the back of your portfolio that highlights things you are passionate about. Even though this may have nothing to do with the job you are applying for, it says a lot about you and your personality. For me, I highlighted several of my favorite photos that I had taken, along with several of my favorite posts from my Vera Bradley blog. Besides, it’s easy to talk about the things you love! Embrace it.
  • If you know your strengths, but your current internship or job doesn’t necessarily list that in the job description, I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Volunteering is one of my favorite things to do- especially when I can use a skill that I’m already good at, and help an organization that may struggle in that area due to lack of resources and time. Either way, it’s a great networking opportunity and you’re gaining real-world experience, too!
  • On the other hand, if you know what one of your strengths is, let’s say- media relations, yet your current internship or job doesn’t list that in your responsibilities, speak up and talk to your supervisor or boss. Letting them know (or better yet, showing them) that you are interesting in a particular area, is one way to get on their radar. Ask if you can sit in on their next media pitch or see if you can help craft the next media list, the worst they can say is “no.”

Do you have any tips that you would add? I’d love to hear them.

 

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Open Office Considerations

There was a lot of interest in the concept of open offices at the Worldcom Americas Meeting earlier this month. Open offices can offer a significant cost saving for employers, but they can also dramatically increase employee stress and decrease productivity. As open office dwellers ourselves, we’d like to share a few suggestions for those who may be considering knocking down the walls:

  1. Consider how much time team members spend on the phone. Lack of privacy makes client conversations more difficult, and constant exposure to other people’s phone conversations creates disruptions for those who aren’t part of the discussion.
  2. Separate meeting spaces from workspaces. Sound carries in an open office. Plan ahead to make sure a meeting in one part of the office won’t create so much noise that it takes over the entire space.
  3. Give employees a way to control how accessible they are. There’s a fine line between “spontaneous collaboration” and “constant interruption.” You might be able to ignore someone who stops at your office door in a traditional office, but that’s harder to do when they’re staring at you from the other side of a table. Let employees create visual cues that let others know when they’re not available, and respect their need for some uninterrupted time.
  4. Respect how employees need to work. Chances are you have account managers who spend a lot of time on the phone, senior staff who regularly meet with clients and team members, and writers, analysts or developers who need blocks of uninterrupted time to produce work. Creating a space that works for everyone may mean grouping employees together by work style rather than client team.
  5. Ask your employees for their input before you draw up plans. Their insight can help you determine the best use for your space and minimize frustration and stress in the long run.

Author: Pam Long[Google+]

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True Digital Communications is the newest member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group

I am pleased to announce that True Digital Communications joined the Worldcom Public Relations Group this week. I was a member of this esteemed network of independent PR and marketing firms in the past and am so happy that they welcomed True into the network. We are the only digital marketing focused firm in the network.

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For our clients today, we now have the ability to provide you access to firsthand geographic insights and representation, best-in-class public relations services and experience, and unparalleled industry knowledge. For example, if you have an event in Los Angeles, we will work with The Pollack PR Marketing Group, which is based there, to provide strategic planning and support. There are more than 140 agencies in the Worldcom network with offices all around the globe. See the full list here.

I am a firm believer in working with partners who can provide knowledge and insights to help our clients achieve greater results and growth. I know many of our Worldcom partners personally and believe we can work together well with them in developing solutions to meet our clients’ challenges.

As True continues to grow, I will be tapping well-established and successful Worldcom friends to give us direction and insights as we add services, team members and continue to evolve. I know we will be better because of it.

In addition, many Worldcom member agencies are already reaching out to our True Team members to provide digital marketing services and recommendations. We are quickly finding our skills and services are helping create successful integrated campaigns for their clients.

Worldcom is an exciting partnership for True and for all of our clients, today and tomorrow. I invite you to check out Worldcom and please let us know what questions you have.

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U Talkin’ to Me?

UTalkintoMeBy now, it’s no secret that social media has become a major outlet for communication across every industry worldwide. I would go as far to say that business leaders outside of the marketing world are even aware that a brand should have a social media strategy complete with personality, style and characteristics that match the brand image. However, not everyone on social media seems to know how to post content that speaks to their audience and conveys a tone that highlights their brand image.

So far in my career, one of the areas I’ve focused a lot of my time and effort in is social media messaging and tone. I’ve heard business leaders of other agencies and my own say that they know why they need a Facebook account but they don’t know how to effectively talk to their customers through the channel. This is where messaging and tone become major players.

With both messaging and tone being key elements in your social media strategy, the best way to effectively convey these factors is by knowing your audience. The more research and understanding you have with the people you interact with on your page, the more effective your social strategy will be. People on social media interact with what they know; let your audience know your brand. Their personal connection to your brand and content is what will boost your engagement rates.

Unless you’re a pet store or something of that nature, resist the urge to post the cute puppy “Happy Friday” photo. We’ve all had thought about posting to Facebook about the weather or a trending topic from the Internet, but if the content doesn’t relate to your brand, steer clear. I highly suggest checking out John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight rant regarding corporations on Twitter for a better understanding of how brands should not act on social (I was going to link out to the video in this blog post, but it’s a little too vulgar…but also hilarious). Anyway, it’s better to focus your social media strategy on content that allows you to create a direct connection with your audience. One of True’s areas of expertise is the building products industry, which is heavily dominated by male culture. It would not make sense to post content with puppies and flowers to men who work with power tools day in and day out. The content needs to reflect the brand and appeal to the correct audience.

Equally as important as the content of your messaging, is your tone of voice. How does your brand talk to its audience? Going back to True’s industrial clients, tone of voice definitely plays a factor in audience engagement. Because the audience is mainly blue-collar construction workers, using a dominant and confident tone in the messaging resonates better than a cheerful and energetic tone. The audience needs to identify with your content in order to engage. The best way to go about that is to speak to them on the same level.

As a recap, it’s important to have a clear image of your audience, with the goal in mind of making your social content as personal as possible. Social engagement stems from the connection the user has to the post. A user’s connection with social content derives from the right messaging and tone that appropriately reflects the brand. The more you know about your audience, the better your social media strategy can be, which will lead to better engagement rates that benefit your brand.

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