Understanding Facebook Referral Traffic in Google Analytics – The Link Shim

We’re like white on rice with Google Analytics in our office. Our digital media account managers are consistently measuring our clients’ campaigns — analyzing website traffic and conversions, among other social media-driven KPI data. That’s why it struck us as odd when we began noticing “l.facebook” and “lm.facebook” popping up as traffic referrals to our clients’ websites. We did some research and hope this post helps better explain these two mysterious referrals from Zuckerberg’s empire.

Background on Facebook Link Shim

In 2012, Facebook Security shared a note to better explain the practice of Link Shimming to users. Here are two key takeaways:

  1. The Link Shim was implemented in 2008 to protect users from malicious URLs. For instance, if a malicious advertiser displayed a link on a post or ad and a user clicked it, Facebook would sometimes include a pop-up notification indicating that the page is suspicious.
  2. Another purpose of the Link Shim is to protect a user’s anonymity when visiting websites. Indulge Media explains that users often unknowingly display personal information in their vanity URLs on Facebook. The Link Shim creates anonymity for users visiting websites and allows Google Analytics to track the source of traffic from Facebook.

 

The Facebook Link Shim has played a significant role in Google Analytics and the ROI of social media with regard to where website traffic is coming from. Perhaps you’ve also noticed these same traffic referrals in Google Analytics and wondered what l.facebook.com, m.facebook.com and lm.facebook.com mean, and how they differ from straightforward facebook.com traffic:

Google Analytics

Our 3rd, 6th, 9th and 10th sources of traffic all came from Facebook.

After compiling some research, we’ve come to a few unofficial conclusions about how these different forms of Facebook traffic were actually generated:

  • l.facebook: This is website traffic from a desktop-accessed Facebook post (organic or paid) that was sent through a Link Shim. The “l” stands for “Link Shim.”
  • lm.facebook: The same rule applies as above,only this time users have accessed your website via a mobile device, hence the “m.”

Then why does facebook.com still appear sans “lm.” or “l.”? I make my educated guesses below:

  • m.facebook: The obvious: users have accessed a website through Facebook on a mobile device, most likely using the Facebook Mobile App. However, we are not sure why the “lm.facebook” wouldn’t apply. My guess: with the hundreds of thousands of posts a day on Facebook, maybe the Link Shim tool didn’t scan these posts. Or, maybe it is because the app has its own built-in browser.
  • facebook.com: I speculate that website traffic was directed from a desktop Facebook post or ad. But yet again, I have the same curiosity about Link Shim not scanning these posts. Some SEO experts suggest that this appears in Google Analytics from users browsing under “facebook.com” rather than the secure “https://facebook.com.” This is one mystery we may not know now, but hopefully will in the future. (Stay tuned!)

Your Website Probably Isn’t Malicious

After reading points 1 and 2 under the background of Facebook Link Shimming and learning the origins of l.facebook and lm.facebook, you may be nervous that you’re website page is being deemed “suspicious” by Facebook and deterring visitors from your website. Don’t panic, and keep reading.

The Proof is in the Analytics

Instead of Facebook traffic appearing as “none” or being funneled under “direct” traffic in Google Analytics, Google is now categorizing these traffic sources to help marketers better analyze their various campaigns. It does not mean that your website is “spam city” for visitors.

Interested in learning more on how StrataBlue can optimize social media campaigns to increase your website traffic or other goals? Tweet me at @whatupTUT

Tweet Like a Pro: The different approaches to using Twitter for business

You’re composing a tweet for your brand, but you’ve only got 140 characters to work with. What are some rock-solid, best practices for crafting a Tweet that will accomplish your business objectives?

Organic Tweets

These are tweets that you don’t plan to spend ad dollars on to promote, but you’d like to be engaging all the same.

Thought Leadership

Talk about what’s going on in the business world related to your brand without talking about the brand itself. Post about relevant news and link to the news author’s Twitter handle. You want fans to view your timeline and feel like your brand or company is knowledgable about the industry, as well as fresh and relevant. Don’t copy the headline of the news you’re linking to, either. Rewrite it.

Promotional

Have a Twitter content strategy that is aligned with business objectives. Decide if your goals are, say, for traffic generation, email list building, or promoting blog posts, YouTube videos, or other marketing content. More importantly, be timely and relevant.

A link helps; a link accompanied by a picture works even better. There’s a lot of content flying by in Twitter feeds, so use a photo or video to stand out.

Consider asking a question. You want to encourage fans to engage with you through replies and retweets without coming right out and asking them to do it. This will also allow you to nurture online relationships with influencers, employees, customers, and other brand advocates.

Finally, you don’t want to tweet promotional material all the time. The golden rule is 80/20: Eighty percent of your content should be interesting and engaging and informative, but not necessarily advertisement, while 20 percent should be promoting the business.

ReTweets

A good Twitter account retweets things from thought leaders in its field. Be sure of the following before you retweet, though:

  • Don’t retweet something that makes the company look bad by association. Read what’s in a hyperlink fully before you retweet it.
  • Don’t retweet something that looks like a story, but is really an advertisement. Thoroughly read and assess the content you are sharing before you share it.

If the retweet is short enough, you may even be able to edit that retweet and add a few words of your own. If you are going to RT a lot, consider adding a comment in front to address it somehow. Examples of this might be to offer an opinion, a short comment, or something that tells us why you feel it’s worth sharing. Even just “Useful” or “Good post” is better than just a lazy RT. In fact, it is recommended if you are looking to have your own tweets retweeted that you not to take up all 140 characters. Leave room for others to include comments.

Also, consider writing an original tweet and linking to the same piece that the retweet linked to, with a source cited at the end, like this: “via @person” or “h/t @person” Variety is key here.

The Anatomy of a Tweet: Expert Business Composition on Twitter Link to a relevant article that shows your client’s expertise.

Paid Tweets

We’ve covered Twitter Ads in the past, specifically Twitter’s new Card format. We have an updated article in the works to reflect recent changes that Twitter has made, but the important thing is that the Twitter Card format is now everywhere. Here are the different types of ad-based tweets you can do now:

Follower Campaign

Twitter recommends you don’t have a photo in this tweet, and hyperlinking is no longer allowed. A short and sweet call to action is wise here, especially if it talks about what benefit will gain from following your Twitter account.

Tweet Like a Pro: The different approaches to using Twitter for business Keep it short, and you’ll encourage many follows.

Tweet Engagement

A tweet that has one or all of the following is wise here: a call to action, a hyperlink to something that will engage the audience, and a photo that does the same. (Around 1,000 x 500 is good for a non-Card Twitter ad image.)

Use a URL shortener for these, preferably Google URL Shortener as it’s free and provides a wealth of analytics data. After you’ve composed the Tweet, your followers will see it in their feeds, and if you promote it soon after, you’ll reach an even wider audience.

The Anatomy of a Tweet: Expert Business Composition on Twitter Promote something new your brand has to offer.

Website Clicks and Other Campaigns

Using the Twitter Card format, you’ll have 70 characters to use within the card itself as a headline, and the standard 140 characters to introduce the card. Plus, the image is squatter than a standard Twitter ad image: 1,000 by 400.

For the shorter ad blurb, talk directly about what’s in the image and include your call to action.

For the longer Tweet, go into what the product or service provides in plain language. Include a call to action here as well, because third-party Twitter apps might not show you the image right away.

Tweet Like a Pro: The different approaches to using Twitter for business

Bottom Line

You’ve only got 140 characters, so make them count. The goal is to make your brand look good, so follower numbers go up and your audience engages with your content. The ultimate goal is for brand awareness to be positive, not negative. Try not to be That Person who goes viral for the wrong reasons.

Are you a business that would be thrilled with engaging tweets that reach your audience? Contact StrataBlue today.

Unlocking Knowledge with SMEs — Subject Matter Experts

Captain Hook had his trusty first mate Smee as a go-to for all advice in Neverland. As an agency in the content marketing space, when we are in need of a sidekick, we reach out to SMEs — or subject matter experts. When producing and managing content for a client, it’s important for us to identify and reach out to SMEs in that field or industry, especially when those experts come from within our clients’ companies. Here’s why this knowledge is important.

The Rising Tide

By leveraging the experts of your client’s company or within a highly specialized field, you gain expertise quickly yourself. Things like acronyms, terminology, corporate style, words and phrases to stay away from, and so on, are all important things to learn when getting up to speed with a new client. As you begin to speak the same language, you’re able to effectively manage content seamlessly.

Company Insight

Sometimes the SME will have insight that you might not get through your usual contacts or through your own research. By getting to know your SME, you get to know the inner workings of the organization, and this helps you to create and manage content better. For example, a client may want to freely talk about the competition, or they might want you to avoid mentioning them – or even following them on social media – altogether.

Hold, Please

By networking with relevant SMEs, you’re also able to route questions, feedback and crises to the appropriate person at the company. Let’s face it, there are sometimes questions you can’t answer, and it’s important to find the person that can. That way, when speaking through the company voice on Facebook or other social media platforms, you’re collecting the knowledge of everyone at the company.

The Buck Stops Here

Depending on how comfortable the client is with this, sometimes it’s even okay to talk to the CEO or other high-ranking managers that also serve as SMEs. Ask him or her about corporate culture, the history of the company and his or her expectations. After that, when creating company content you truly have insight into where the client came from and where they’re going. And getting on the CEO’s good side is key for continuing to work with that client, right?

Ask Questions!

Above all, ask questions. If you want to gain insight and expertise into the company, company culture, what the company makes or does – whatever helps you do your job better – ask the SMEs. Get on the phone, send an e-mail or use a collaborative project management tool like Basecamp. The more you and the client are on the same page, the more fruitful and long-lasting that relationship will be.

To find out how we can work with the experts at your company to craft compelling content, contact StrataBlue today.

Show, Don’t Tell: Creating Visually Useful Infographics for Your Audience

StrataBlue’s Senior Graphic Designer, Suzanne McGill, presented at the National Association of Bar Executives Conference in Indianapolis on Thursday, October 2nd at The Omni Severin Hotel. She covered the topic of creating visually engaging infographics for target audiences.

Infographics are beneficial for many different reasons. They allow complex information to be communicated quickly in a way that’s often more easily understood. In a world of big data, this is becoming increasingly useful. From a marketing perspective, and when promoted properly in the digital space, infographics are able to deliver increased brand recognition and SEO benefits.

Check out Suzanne’s presentation via the SlideShare below to learn more, or click here to view. 

[slideshare id=39818195&doc=showdonttellinfographicssuzannemcgillstratablue-141002165523-phpapp02]

 

For more information on how your brand can harness the power of infographics to increase brand awareness and improve website optimization via social promotion, please contact StrataBlue’s Director of Sales, Josh Pyne.

Make Content Go Viral by Creating an Infographic

Whether you’re a butcher, banker or beautician, your business can benefit from the power of infographics. Any company can use this visual tool on social media, and research indicates that infographics assist companies in increasing traffic 12% faster than organizations that don’t use them.

Embrace the Visual Marketing Era 

We’ve learned through science that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and is processed 60,000 times faster than text. (Maybe it’s time to revisit adding Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat to your brand’s marketing strategy.) The daunting fact about creating infographics for many marketers is the time investment required. Hot Butter Studio explains it quite simply in their infographic, on, well, infographics.

Infographic created by Hot Butter Studio

Infographic created by Hot Butter Studio

 

A successful infographic does not exist without data. If it’s time you are worried about investing in an infographic, look back on your past blog posts, case studies or surveys to cut out a majority of the work! You’ve already put in hours, maybe even months’ worth of work, so repurpose the content to be more visually appealing on different platforms. If you are interested in which infographic will perform best with your target audience, try using Facebook Dark Posts to analyze which visual resonates best with your fans.

Or maybe you want to start an infographic from scratch, but need some assistance. Have no fear and read on.

Make Your Infographic Go Viral with 7 Steps

  1. Define your audience – Marketing 101, build brand personas to narrow down your audience’s attention in your industry.
  2. Research and focus – I spend hours researching topics for my blogs and often have mass amounts of information to sift through. Marketing 101 again, use the K.I.S.S. principle. Narrow down what you want to share based on your audience’s interests. The last thing you want is to create an infographic that is full of text that doesn’t pertain to your audience.
  3. Cite your sources – Whenever you have the opportunity, cite your source. It’s just frowned upon and not cool to steal someone else’s hard work.
  4. Organize – Writing out your infographic focus helps to organize your thoughts in a manner that will flow better and help your designer. Which leads me to step four…
  5. Collaborate with a Design Wizard – I say wizard because speaking from experience working with our Design Team, they can turn my outlandish ideas into amazing digital visuals. Talk out any ideas you had for your infographic with your wizard, determine a color palette, a theme, etc. For many folks, this is the weakest link in making an infographic into reality. Check us out if you need help in this area.
  6. Part Two of Collaborating with the Design Wizard – Think about the platforms you’ll be promoting your infographic on, such as Twitter or Facebook. These platforms have certain dimensions on images, so you’ll want to create a few different graphics teasing your infographic rather than having it cut off or cram into one size fits all format.
  7. Promote! – After making your teaser graphics and perfecting any details within your infographic, get out there and promote your hard work.

 

Interested in having StrataBlue work with you to create your first infographic? Tweet me at @whatupTUT.

Facebook to End Like-Gating in November

In the digital media marketing world, November 5th means a change for how you’ll need to go about growing your fan base on Facebook.

Back in August of this year, Facebook announced in some very fancy language that there were Platform Policy changes coming in the fall. (See highlighted in orange below.)

Borrowed from Facebook's Blog

Borrowed from Facebook’s Blog

In layman’s terms: Facebook will be eliminating like-gating, also known as fan-gating, which requires fans to like a page through apps like Rafflecopter, Woobox, Tabsite in order to view content, participate in contests, receive ebooks and things of the like. This is also an extremely common tactic for game developers who require users to Like a page to move on to the next level of a game or to receive more lives.

Why the Change of Heart Facebook?

Similar to Facebook’s recent decision to crack down on click-bait headlines, the company hopes that eliminating fan-gating will help improve the user experience in terms of content users actually want to see. Essentially, the method behind Facebook’s madness is that it wants users to stay on its social networking site. A user that likes a page because they wanted to win an iPad doesn’t necessarily indicate that they wanted to see Joe’s Plumbing Service’s updates or targeted ads. (Sorry Joe.)

 

The Glass is Always Half Full

The soon-to-be death of fan-gating doesn’t mean the end to Facebook Like success for brands, especially small businesses. Dry your tears and try one of these strategies instead:

 

  1. Facebook Like Ad Campaign – So easy you forgot about it! Target your Like Ad with Interests that your fan base would enjoy like specific wines, sports teams and so on. Focus on your brand and target on what your consumers would like. If you are a small business, consider targeting by zip code to home in on your local supporters.

 

  1. Split Test – Use analytics tools to gauge when the most people are online as a guide on when to post content. Then develop several different dark posts to see which one performs best with different headlines, copy and images. Not familiar with Facebook Dark Posts? Read my blog to learn how to create one.

 

  1. Quality Over Quantity – Instead of plastering your user’s timelines with meaningless content, provide them with a benefit and call to action in more deliberately spaced posts.

 

  1. Install a Like Button on your Website – Chances are if consumers searched out your website, they have a sincere interest in your brand. Installing a plug-in on your website is a subtle way for you to say, “Show me you really like me.”

LinkedIn Gets a Virtual Makeover

You’ve heard it before: visual content rules in social media. Following suit, LinkedIn has received a virtual makeover!

If you’re in a visual profession, such as photography or design, this new feature might spark your interest. Users can now add visual content such as photos, videos or presentations to their profiles, turning bland resumes into eye-catching displays of accomplishments and merit. No two people are alike, so why not show that no two employees are the same? Make our LinkedIn profile unique with these simple steps.

Want to add visual content? Here’s how. First, click “edit” on your profile.

In the Summary, Experience and Education sections of your profile, you will see a new icon that allows you to add media. You can choose to upload a file or link to your work and add a title/description to these. If you’re using a link instead of an upload, make sure that it is a link to a public URL because LinkedIn doesn’t support blogs. You can learn more about approved providers and content types for work samples here from LinkedIn.

Don’t worry if you don’t see this icon yet, don’t worry. This new feature started rolling out on May 1 and is making its way to your account. When adding visuals to your LinkedIn account, keep in mind that this isn’t Facebook or Instagram, these pictures and videos should be professional and used for job-recruiting purposes.

Do you think that LinkedIn’s new tool is useful? Will you use it to give yourself a competitive edge?

Social Media Spats: Tips to Handle Online Altercations

When a problem comes across your brand’s social media, how do you address it? Social media customer care is a hot topic. Your instinct tells you to defend your brand when people bash it, but what is the best practice? You don’t want to offend your followers or concerned consumers, but you do want to protect the integrity of your business.

We always say that social media is a conversation, but that conversation isn’t always going to go your way. You’re going to get negative feedback or criticism from people because the reality is that you can’t make everyone happy. Ignoring these criticisms or simply deleting the comments might be tempting, but don’t do it! Responding to comments is what makes social media “social.” Sometimes, you can even turn your biggest critic into your biggest fan.

So how do you deal with negative feedback? Here are five quick tips to guide you through a social media train wreck.

 

  • Stay positive! Even when your critic is being negative, spin it into a positive situation. Make sure to respond to the problem in a timely manner and let your solution to the problem be known. Simply apologizing isn’t going to satisfy your critic, but offering a solution and a way to make things right will please even the most sour critics.
  • Listen to constructive criticism. Whether you’re running an event that didn’t flow correctly or your product has a flaw, take constructive criticism for what it is and learn from the experience. Think of social media as a huge, free, real-time focus group and listen to your audience. Thank them for their input and tell them you’re putting it into consideration. Maybe it’s an idea you’ve never thought of and it would improve your product!
  • Sometimes people are simply looking for a fight. Don’t let it get personal and don’t give in to the temptation to fight back. There is no way to win in this situation so the best solution is to simply move on. Focus on problems that you can solve, not the impossible.
  • Be human, not a robot. One thing people hate are corporate responses. Show that you are a human and you have feelings, that you can relate to the person’s frustration. If you feel comfortable, give your name or an email for the upset customer to contact you. This way, there is a name and almost a face to the problem instead of someone simply yelling at a faceless brand.
  • Make it right. Offering an apology is a good start, but you can’t turn around a critic without action. Everyone makes mistakes, but how we fix those mistakes is what consumers will remember.

 

Facebook Home for Android Users

Facebook Home

This week, through rumors of a Facebook phone, we were introduced to Facebook Home. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement using the phrase “people first,” meaning that your friends are front and center on your mobile device instead of the apps. Zuckerberg tells us that we can now keep up with what our friends are doing and easily communicate with them using Facebook Home, personalizing your home screen and making it as if Facebook Home was the phone system and not a third party app.

Want to learn more about this new development in the world of Android devices?

What Goes Into Social Media Management?

So you’re thinking about becoming a Social Media Account Manager? On the surface, the job looks fun and simple, socializing on Facebook and Twitter with people on behalf of a company. But social marketing takes time and effort to run a successful campaign. In order to be successful, you have to have goals and a strategy, and that strategy includes more than simply the fluff of posting cute animal pictures and making an office Harlem Shake video.

Every organization is different and the workflow is catered to work towards achieving your goals. But what really goes into social media management? Let’s break it down a little bit to help get a closer look.

  • Updating social networks by posting text, photos, videos and comments
  • Planning, publishing and socializing blog posts to the right audience
  • Research and planning, sourcing both internal and external content
  • Reading different feeds in your field, filtering through content and sharing it
  • Listening and monitoring brand mentions
  • Keyword searches
  • Building relationships and creating conversations by responding to follows, mentions, dialogue, questions and comments
  • Damage control!
  • Research
  • Community building
  • Strategy, planning and brainstorming
  • Analytics, measurement and reporting

 

In addition to all of these duties, Social Media Managers have to stay on top of the latest trends in the social media world. If there’s a new platform coming out (and it seems like there always is), you better be testing it and seeing how to jump on it to give your business leverage above your competitors. Conference, meet-ups and community events are vital for networking and learning new tricks of the trade. Also, you have to remember that unlike a regular 9-5 business, the internet never turns off.

Social media management is more than Facebook and Twitter; you have to be an expert in all platforms and networks from Google+ to LinkedIn to YouTube. It is a field that is always evolving and continuing education is a must. It is a demanding schedule of tweets, meetings, updates, replies, blogging, editing, designing, marketing and even sales. People skills, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness and creativity are all part of the job. Can you say multitasking?

Being a Social Media Manager can be a fun and rewarding job, but it is also one that is tough, demanding and time-consuming. Social media never goes to sleep. Do you think you have what it takes to run a thriving campaign?