Math is Becoming Your Biggest Ally in Online Campaigns

When I was in the third grade, I cheated on my 7’s multiplication tables (sorry, mom and dad) and I’ve been cursed ever since with the inability to succeed in math. That same year, I achieved something slightly more noble and had a short story published in a children’s magazine. It was then that I realized I would manifest my destiny through creative writing rather than spend my life crunching numbers and manipulating equations. And yet here I am, about to justify the relevance of math and how it is molding my industry I work in.

Algorithms in Simple Terms

Kevin Slavin, an assistant professor and founder of Playful Systems at MIT Media Lab, said in his 2011 TED Talk that algorithms “acquire the sensibility of truth because they repeat over and over again, and they ossify and calcify, and they become real.” In layman’s terms, an algorithm is a mathematical code that is entered into a computer program by computer scientists that obtains “big data” from you, me and any other stranger on this Earth online.

KEvin Slavin

Breaking Down “Big Data”

Big data can be defined back to 2001 when industry analyst Doug Laney separated it into three parts: Volume, velocity and variety.

  • Volume: Ranging from transaction-based data to data from social media that is so large it is challenging to analyze it.
  • Velocity:  The speed at which all this information is being shifted through.
  • Variety: Numeric data in traditional databases, information from applications, videos, e-mail, and beyond.

What the Pros are Doing

These three parts of big data are changing business operations for companies like Facebook, Google and Netflix because it’s aiding in better decision making. For instance, toward the end of 2013, Facebook replaced their News Feed algorithm from EdgeRank to Story Bumping. Story Bumping deciphers all the posts a specific user has seen and moves all the unread stories to the top. Netflix has their head in the cloud, literally. They are improving their online recommendation engine through “deep-learning” algorithms through Amazon’s cloud service. And can you even imagine your daily life without Google? Google computer scientists unveiled their newest search algorithm called Hummingbird that provides direct answers to complex questions.

HummingbirdHow to Use Big Data

Through all these different complex algorithms being created by, in my opinion, geniuses, big data is revealing insightful information about populations, segmented audiences and individuals. Social media account managers like myself are using this information to tailor how our brands target and nurture consumers to increase ROI.

Now here is a two part equation I can understand:

Computer scientists + Algorithms = Big Data

Big Data ÷ Analytics = Tailored campaigns for consumers that increase ROI

Want to chat about deciphering big data or school me on new and emerging algorithms? I welcome the conversation! Follow me on Twitter @whatupTUT or leave a comment below.

Guest Blogging is Dead, But Your Blog is Still Alive

According to Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google, guest blogging is dead.

The reason? The practice has become too spammy. That can be debated, but let’s focus on why a brand should blog in the first place. 77% of internet users report reading blogs. Of that sizable herd, 81% of U.S. online consumers find blogs trustworthy and informative. Without making this about statistics, blogs equate to consumer attention and authority for brands.

But let’s be fair. Most brands (especially small businesses) only want to blog about one thing—their products. According to Ignite Spot, 61% of U.S. Consumers have bought something based on blog content. If blogs can generate sales, why talk about anything but products and features? The simple answer is that overly commercial blogs are spammy and boring. The average Internet user is spending 23 hours online per week, allowing them to see much more content than they did even a few years ago. If your blogs look like nothing more than a wordy commercial, they will be just as dead as guest posting.

A New Hope. So just writing about products and promotions is bad. What should you be writing about? Glad you asked. Below are a few suggestion to get you started down the right path:

  • Local events: Blogging about a traditional festival or new fundraiser in your community is great content for a few reasons. First, it establishes you as an information source to your readers, instead of a salesman. Second, it shows potential customers that you care about their local community, and want to share in those experiences. Finally, it helps out other businesses, who will likely return the favor when you have news to share. Local events are a bit of a misnomer if you’re writing for a national brand, but you can always scale up to events like the Big Ten or the Grammys.
  • Employee profiles: Does every customer rave about your hostess? Why not do a profile on her for your blog? This will establish more of a relationship between your customers and employees, and content like this shows your readers that that you care about your staff. Only interview willing employees though. Don’t force anyone to participate if they don’t want to.
  • (Slightly) Controversial Opinions: Perhaps the local neighborhood is getting a chain restaurant in the spot where everyone’s favorite diner used to reside. Feel free to put just a bit of vitriol behind your blog suggesting everyone shop local. You will want to be very careful with this option. As my grandfather always said, avoid talking about religion and politics in public. You want your customers interested and engaged, not pissed off at your personal views.

Hopefully this will add a few options for your new editorial calendar, but keep in mind that the best way to keep your blogs fresh is to keep learning. Experiment with new topics, and keep reading.

What blog topics have you found the most useful for your brand? What failed horribly? Feel free to share below, or find on Twitter.

What’s in Store for Social Media in 2014

Does your brand have New Year’s resolutions for 2014? Do you know what will be trending next year? Here are a few marketing trends you can expect in 2014:

  • A budget for social media will be a must these days. Yes, it is free to create and manage social media accounts but with a lot of these social media companies going public, they will need to start making money to keep their shareholders happy. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Management Association recently did a study and found that in August 2013, social marketing spending accounted for an average of about 6.6% of marketer budgets.In 2014, that share is expected to rise to 9.1%, and in the next five years, marketers expected social to account for 15.8% of spending.
  • Start paying closer attention to your analytics. Check what’s trending each day and engage in conversations about topics that are relevant to your company. Be cautious on straying too far from trending topics that have little to do with what your company represents. Engagement should be natural and commenting on a random topic will come off as forced or a publicity stunt.
  • Content marketing is critical. Google’s new search algorithm, Hummingbird, uses “conversational search” which brings up better results based on the way we speak. Simply put, you will need to have quality content that is published frequently. The steady rise of platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ will make pictures matter more than text. Your content is much more valuable when it is shared and according to Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts that only have text.
  • While photos are easily the most shared content, micro video is becoming very dominant in visual storytelling. With Vine only allowing 6 seconds of video and Instagram allowing 15, it will take some creativity to correctly get your message across. But with Instagram being owned by Facebook and Vine owned by Twitter, these marketing tools will only increase in popularity.
  • User-generated content is a great way to get your fans to be a part of your company. One example of this is having your customersupload photos to Instagram with a relevant hashtag so that other people can see them using your product. Having your fans take an active role in your marketing is a cost-effective strategy.

2014 will surely be a visual year for social media marketing. What other trends are you predicting?  Feel free to leave me a comment or connect with me on Twitter.

The Impact of Social Media on SEO

Social media has billions of users across platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. And we’ve all heard the saying that “content is king,” so don’t forget about the bloggers. Today, there is a blog for absolutely anything you’re interested in. Everyone and anyone is a critic, expert, photographer, videographer, journalist or authority due to the popularity of social media and mobile apps.

So what does this have to do with your business? Everything. It’s a no-brainer that social media should be part of your business plan, not only because it will impact your sales but also your SEO. While backlinks are still important, social media signals should not be overlooked. In fact, seven of the ten most important SEO factors come from social media! Let’s take a look at how social media, content and SEO all work together to transform your online marketing strategy.

Create quality content that people love. 92% of marketers say content creation is either “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for SEO. When writing a blog, you should consider three things: is this helpful, does this solve a problem and is this relevant? Your content needs to be valuable and shareable in order to engage people, and it needs to be original and high-quality in order for it to rank well with Google.

Engagement increases your rankings. Google+1s increase both your visibility and credibility, and a report from Searchmetrics states that Google+ has the highest impact on SEO ranking. What are other social indicators that help? Facebook shares, Facebook total, Facebook comments, Facebook likes, tweets and Pinterest are all in the top social factors. It isn’t enough to simply be posting on social media, you need to be engaging in order to increase your rankings. Here’s a quick fact for you: tweeting cuts indexation time by 50%!

Build trust. How relevant is your page content to the keyword query of your visitor? Google looks for authority (the number and quality of the links that point at your pages) and relevancy (keywords) when determining search results. A keyword-rich profile is the first step on all of your social media platforms.

Develop relationships. Connecting with your audience helps build your online authority and also creates long-lasting relationships. These relationships can transform into online brand advocates and ambassadors that will help spread the word about your brand to their own communities.

Linked content. When trying to build your brand and authority, having well-known and trusted websites link to you is one of the best ways to gain trust and respect. Think about it as a type of online “celebrity endorsement” vouching for the validity of your business. Keep your content easily shareable by adding social media links on your pages, because you want to make it as easy as possible for people to share your content.

If you’ve been avoiding adding social media to your SEO plan, now is the time to reconsider. Social media is now an integral piece in the SEO puzzle. Social shares, presence and high quality content cannot be ignored any longer. If you need help with your SEO and social media strategy, contact us today!

Customer Reviews Prove to be Critical for Business

You’ve advertised. You’ve wooed. You’ve closed. You’ve onboarded. You’ve launched. But your work with your client has only begun.

The statistics vary from study to study, but retaining a client is far less expensive than gaining a new client. Your business needs to work as hard to keep your existing clients as it does at earning new business. And when you keep your existing clients – the right way – you’ll earn new business.

A client relationship manager or account manager should be as empowered as your sales staff to make deals and retain business. And your CRM should be able to tell you which clients are happy and which clients need some finessing. One way to do this is to ask your clients – honestly and sincerely – in what areas you can improve and what things you do well.

Get customer reviews.

This sounds silly and simple, but it’s essential. 82% of new business is earned by word of mouth, but 66% do online research. Your web presence needs to include customer feedback and reviews. When customers provide feedback, you can identify areas of opportunity to strengthen your relationship, and identify strategies that are working well for your brand.

You need customer reviews.

Only 15% of consumers don’t use the internet to find a new local business. 76% of consumers read reviews when deciding to use a new local business. 58% of consumers report that online reviews affect their decision.

Customer reviews will grow your business.

When you ask your clients for feedback, you let them know that they’re important. When you address their concerns, you let them know you’re listening. When you share your reviews, you let potential clients know that you’re great.

Ask your clients how you’re doing, and don’t be afraid of the feedback. It’s a terrific opportunity.

Twitter Optimization

Twitter Optimization

Twitter is a great tool for brands’ to use to engage potential customers, but are you using this social media platform to its fullest? Twitter optimization is critical to ensure your tweets are relevant for your audience. Get the word out to a wider audience and make sure that you’re tweets are being seen using some of these quick tips to improve your social media marketing. It’s one thing to use social media, but it’s another thing to do it the right way. What other tips do you have for using Twitter for business?