9 Must-Have WordPress Plugins To Improve Your Website

The world is at your fingertips when operating your website on the WordPress platform. Figuring out what plugins you will need for your new website or updated website can be tricky.

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Video Is The New Tweet: The Latest On Twitter Video Ad Integration

Twitter Integrated Video

The New Age of Social Media Video

As social media platforms move away from YouTube and into hosting their own video, we’ve seen the quantity of videos increase, engagement increase and social media users embrace the constant presence of video in their feeds wholeheartedly.

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5 Best Practices For Using Hashtags in Your Social Strategy

On social media today, a hashtag can be used on several platforms including, but not limited to: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. The purpose of a hashtag is to connect people to conversations that are happening on the Internet. The original hashtag was created to mark keywords or topics within a tweet. Putting the “#” symbol in front of a word or phrase turns it into a link that makes it easier for people to find. Hashtags are easy to create and easy to find, but what are the best practices for using hashtags? Below, I have complied a list of the top 5 best hashtag practices for social media use.

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Don’t Delete A Negative Facebook Review

The ultimate dilemma for a business owner on Facebook is how to manage a negative review. Whatever you do, don’t delete a negative review. Why you ask? Negative reviews have the ability to actually help and not hurt your business. Here is my guide to using a negative review to support your business.

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Is it worthwhile to advertise on Pandora or Spotify?

Pandora, Spotify and other music services are the wave of the future for music listening. MP3 purchases and CDs are way down in sales, as the public at large moves toward services that will stream their favorite music for a low monthly fee. It doesn’t matter for many that you don’t own the tracks, if you can access a radio station that plays them frequently (in Pandora’s case), or has access to any songs at any time (in Spotify’s case).

As of this article’s publication, Pandora boasts 76.5 million users and Spotify 60 million users. The massive popularity of both music services, and the fact that the large majority of users opt for the free, ad-driven version of the service, means that advertising there can make a lot of sense. Let’s look at what’s involved in an audio ad and whether it’s worthwhile to advertise this way.

  1. Professional Recording
    Unlike a text or graphical ad, the ads on Pandora and Spotify are audio. In some cases, there’s a graphical popup element for the phone app, so there may yet be some text / graphic design element to the ad. For the most part, it’s audio. This is something you’re not going to want to have someone in the office record on their iPhone.A good audio ad is professionally recorded in a sound studio by a trained voice actor, is attention-grabbing and witty, doesn’t apologize for interrupting the music, and gets to the point early in the time alloted.
  2. The Ad Script
    You’re going to want to write a dialogue script and read it aloud to make sure it sounds natural. Like with any other ad, be sure there’s a call to action, such as a coupon code or an easy-to-remember URL. Again, if there’s a graphical pop-up ad in the music app’s user interface that the user can click on, be sure to integrate these well in the planning and scripting process.
  3. Ad Rates
    Both Spotify and Pandora have ad rates that are not public until you get in touch with them, likely because they fluctuate often due to the surging popularity of streaming music services. However, both ad departments are easy to get in touch with with ad rates, specifications, ad standards, minimum buys and so on. It’s going to be somewhat pricey — especially compared to a typical social media ad on another platform.
  4. Not Just Audio
    Pandora has dozens of different ad configurations that stretch beyond audio ads, to animated overlays to banners to custom mixtapes. Agencies that really like to think outside the box will find a lot to play with here.Spotify also has just introduced video ads to go along with their traditional audio ads, and these join their many other ad formats, such as watching a video to get 30 minutes of ad-free listening, display ads and even homepage takeover ads.
  5. Should I?
    Advertising on a music service is a way to reach a connected, music-loving audience in a hyper-focused way that might not be possible on another platform. That bears repeating: Listeners on Spotify and Pandora are music fans first, so if your product makes sense to that kind of person, then give it a try.

To explore out-of-the-box thinking with advertising your product or service, contact StrataBlue today.

Case Study: Restaurant Grand Opening

Creating Buzz in the Community and Building an Email List for Restaurant Opening

At StrataBlue, we work with lots of restaurants. And when it comes to the recipe for a new restaurant’s opening, creating buzz via social media and using email to acquire and communicate with customers are key ingredients it the success.

Problem

The proprietors of a new restaurant came to us just four months prior to their targeted open date. They didn’t have a logo, let alone a website. They were still planning the menu. And even though they’d signed up for social media profiles, they had no branding or content up.

  • Our Challenge: How do you create word of mouth and buzz when the restaurant is still months away from opening?

Our StrataBlue team made it our mission to aim for massive, targeted reach and to build and educate an audience that included local foodies and social media influencers, who could help us serve up the maximum amount of online reach and digital buzz.

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Solution

Cooking up the Foundation:

While the eventual goal was to grow a social media following, generate and amplify buzz, and build a foundational email list, we had a lot of work ahead of us before we could begin posting content and amplifying it throughout the social sphere. Our graphic design and social teams worked hand in hand with the restaurant proprietors to create the overall voice they wanted to convey through their branding and digital presence.

Our graphics team started from scratch to design the following:

  • logo
  • website
  • branding materials
  • menu design
  • social media profile branding (Facebook & Twitter)
  • social media display ads (Facebook & Twitter)
  • email marketing templates

 

 

Meanwhile, the social media team worked to set up and brand the following digital channels:

  • Facebook Page
  • Twitter Profile
  • Instagram Accounts
  • Email Marketing Account

Digital Buzz Building:

StrataBlue took care of the social media before the restaurant was open for business, so this created a fantastic opportunity for us to tell the story right from the start about the development and vision. It also allowed us to involve the local community from the outset.

Our goals were to:

  • Announce the restaurant to the community and begin educating them about the concept, menu development, and plans for drink specialties and weekend entertainment.
  • Build a climate of anticipation around the launch.
  • Connect with the locals and foodies to create excitement and buzz within the foodie community.

Action Plan:

Even before the time came to open its doors with a promise of delicious food, StrataBlue ensured the restaurant was an aggressive user of social media channels to connect with potential patrons, and grow its digital footprint.

  • We began posting teasers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, cross-promoting content between the various platforms three months prior to a September opening date.
  • To increase the number of social media impressions, both Facebook and Twitter advertising were used to drive awareness, while connecting and engaging with more followers.
  • Appealing to a customer’s eyeballs is where Instagram came in, and we were able to show off what the restaurant would bring to the table (pun intended). We also used all social profiles to chronicle the evolution and construction of the restaurant, posting photos of both food and interior progress.
  • Socially shared and promoted content was also dedicated to staff Q&As, specialty cocktails that were planned, and entertainment acts that were being booked to perform.
  • While the website was being designed and built, we set up a landing page to announce that the new concept was coming. An embedded lead capture form was used to gather subscribers who wanted to be the first to know all the launch details, including opening week festivities.

Measurement & KPIs:

We defined KPIs to measure our performance, which we carefully measured over the course of the campaign:

  • KPI 1: Growth of the social following across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  • KPI 2: Overall digital media impressions and reach
  • KPI 3: Email list subscriber growth
  • KPI 4: Increases in website traffic (the landing page went up two months prior to launch and
    the full website was launched several weeks before opening)

The restaurant’s grand opening was a massive success! During the first five months (three months prior to opening and two month after), the restaurant’s website received 49,000 visits by nearly 35,000 users, and the brand now has a database of 2,100 email address with which to send targeted e-newsletters.

Prior to opening night, Social Referral traffic and Direct traffic made up 19.14% and 25.33% of website sessions, respectively. After five months, the client was able to attribute nearly 10% of their website traffic to StrataBlue’s social media efforts. Direct website traffic, which demonstrates brand awareness and also includes some email and social media traffic, made up 21.43%.

The social media strategy achieved fantastic results within the first five months: 7,100+ Facebook Likes, nearly 1,250 Twitter Followers, and 960 Instagram fans actively engaging.

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Overall, the multi-channel campaign drove well over 2.5 million digital media impressions across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Two months post-opening, the StrataBlue team continues to use social and digital marketing to generate traffic to both the client’s website and brick-and-mortar location. Business is booming!

Would you like to see what we can do for your new business? Get in contact with us today!

Twitter Advertising Guide Part 2: Website Clicks or Conversions

In Part 1 of my Twitter Advertising Guide I discussed the how-tos for creating a Follower Acquisition Campaign and a Tweet Engagement Campaign. In this sequel, I will be covering the coveted Website Clicks or Conversions objective within Twitter Ads campaign tool. In other words, how to use Twitter Ads to drive targeted traffic to your website and increase website conversions.

Getting Started

A Twitter Website Clicks or Conversions objective is geared toward connecting users with your website and driving traffic. Within the advertising campaign tool, you are given the options to create a Website Card, create a simple Promoted-Only Tweet or simply choose an existing Tweet. The choice is up to you, but keep the following in mind when choosing:

  • Website Card: Add extra content that enhances your Tweet. It’s made up of an image, button and link. Cards improve campaign performance, because each element helps link to your website. Website cards also give you the option to choose a call to action (CTA). Those CTAs include: Read More, Shop Now, View Now, Visit Now, Book Now, Learn More, Play Now, Bet Now, Donate, Apply Here, Quote Here, Order Now and Book Tickets.
  • Promoted-Only Tweet: These tweets will not show up on your public timeline and will NOT post to your followers, unless of course if you target them.
  • Existing Tweet: This campaign style allows you to select a tweet from your timeline to promote.
StrataBlue Twitter Ads

Start here to create your Twitter Promoted Tweets within the ad campaign management tool.

TIP: When creating your tweets from scratch, I recommend choosing at least three different tweets. Even a combination of Website Cards, Promoted-Only and Existing Tweets works well to diversify for more effective results. I also suggest using different photos to go along with 3 Website Cards for the campaign.

Finally, the most important thing to remember when creating a Website Click or Conversions campaign is to include the URL to which you would like to drive traffic. Without this URL you will not see any performance.

Targeting

After you have completed the content for your Tweet(s), you can now select how you want to target your ad. Choose from the following criteria:

  • Location: Here you can enter countries, states/regions, metro areas or postal codes.
  • Gender: Obvious.
  • Languages: Select a language to target.
  • Devices and Platforms: Choose from several different digital platforms and devices on which you would like your tweet(s) to appear.

Additional targeting criteria options include:

  • Interests: Choose from interest categories that are similar to those of your target audience.
  • Keywords: Reach people that might be associated with similar keywords related to your promoted tweet.
  • Followers: Select specific Twitter accounts with followers that would have similar interests to your target audience.
  • Television: Target people who follow specific TV shows. This is great for tweeting during TV show finales, premieres, award shows, sports games and more.
  • Tailored Audiences: For this, you will need to use a third-party system through which you can upload lists or use code to collect information about your website visitors. More information is below.

The last part in targeting is to choose whether or not you would like the Promoted Tweet to appear on the Users’ timeline on their homepage.

More on Tailored Audiences

Tailored audiences uses three data types to create audience targets: Twitter IDs, email addresses or other customer data, and website cookie IDs. Here is more of what those entail:

  • Twitter IDs: Compile custom groups of Twitter users.
  • Email Addresses: Reach customers who have given your their contact information via email service providers like MailChimp or CRM software such as Salesforce
  • Cookie IDs: Target users who have visited your website. You must first place a tag on your site and work through a third-party ad partner to use this type. This tag will allow you to remarket to Twitter users.

Following is a list of the third-party services and ad partners currently associated with each information category above:

  • Twitter IDs Ad Service Options: AdParlor, Brand Networks, SHIFT, SocialCode, and Unified.
  • Email Address & CRM Partners: Acxiom, AdParlor, Brand Networks, Datalogix, Epsilon, ExactTarget, LiveRamp, MailChimp, Merkle, Salesforce, SHIFT, SocialCode, and Unified. Note that by connecting to their Twitter account, MailChimp users can upload their lists directly, bypassing the need for third-party ad partner intervention.
  • Cookie IDs Ad Service Options: Adara, AdRoll, BlueKai, Chango, Conversant, DataXu, Dstillery, Lotame, MediaMath, Perfect Audience, and Quantcast.

TIP: Of the list of Cookie ID remarketing ad partners, our preferred vendor is AdRoll. In our experience, only AdRoll currently offers pricing suited to small businesses.

Budget

Website Cards are priced at a cost per click (CPC) method. This means that you will only play if someone clicks over to your website.

Twitter asks you to set a daily and total budget per campaign. So the good news here is that Twitter will never charge you more than what you want to pay. Suggestions from Twitter will also be given as you set budgets for your campaigns. This offers a user-friendly way of creating ads.

twitterblog1

Select your daily maximum, maximum CPC and total budget.

Measuring Campaigns

On the Twitter Advertising Campaign Dashboard you will easily find and be able to track progress for your campaigns. Frequently check this page in order to optimize your ads. For example, should you be switch up or adjust your targeting or re-evaluate your under-performing ads’ creative.

One downfall is that Twitter can very easily exhaust your campaigns before their due date of running. This means you might need to raise your overall budget or lower your daily budget.

Here are some great Website Clicks or Conversions Campaigns you should check out:

twitter card

Domino’s using Twitter Advertising for online ordering.

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Buca di Beppos using Twitter Advertising for reservations.

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Vevo using Twitter Advertising to promote video views.

tiwtter blog

Target using Twitter Advertising to entice audiences to shop.

With recent improvements to the campaign manager functionality, Twitter Ads are continuing to provide businesses with an effective online tool to reach their online marketing goals. Whether a brand’s goal is to grow its digital footprint, increase audience engagement or drive traffic and website conversions, running social media ad campaigns on Twitter should be part of any business’ digital marketing strategy.

Interested in seeing what Twitter Advertising can do for your business or product? Get in touch with one of StrataBlue’s digital-media marketing specialists today!

Twitter Advertising Guide: Follower & Tweet Engagement – Part 1

Social media advertising welcomes a new effective player to the game. With the recent roll out of optimized advertising, Twitter has proved it will be a front runner among options for paid digital ad campaigns. Just like Facebook advertising, Twitter offers a variety of choices for objective-based ad campaigns.

In Part 1 of this blog series, we’ll look at the Follower and Tweet Engagement Campaign Objectives within Twitter.

Follower Acquisition

A Follower Acquisition campaign is meant to increase your community on Twitter by asking people to follow your account. When setting up a Twitter Follower Campaign you have the option to select a tweet you have already tweeted to your followers. Alternatively, you can choose to create a “Promoted Only” tweet, which will not post to your timeline, but rather it will only appear on your targeted audiences’ Twitter feed.

I recommend keeping your Follower Campaign text to a minimum of 100 characters. Something short, sweet and to the point. Twitter also suggests that you don’t include a photo in your tweet, because that will distract potential followers from clicking the “Follow” button.

Here are a few examples of engaging tweets:

  • Follow us to get exclusive deals and coupon codes!
  • Follow us if you love fried chicken!
  • Love coffee? Follow us today for special offers near you!
  • Hate how expensive your phone bill is? Follow us to see how you could be saving up to 60%.
Jack Daniel's Fire Follower campaign.

Jack Daniel’s Fire Follower campaign.

twitterblog6

IU Health Follower campaign.

Tip: Create at least 3-4 unique tweets to increase your chances at a successful performance.

The next step in the set-up process is to define your audience. Twitter allows you to choose from one of the following targets:

  • Interests: Choose from interest categories based on who you would be interested in following your account.
  • Followers: Choose specific accounts and target followers similar to their account.
  • Tailored Audience: Here you can upload your own lists and target those people. Note: Listing uploading can’t be done within Twitter advertising. Twitter asks users to us a third-party source for uploading lists.

Once you choose a target, you will then be able to narrow down by location, language, device and platform and gender. The final step is then to choose your budget for your Followers Campaign. Twitter makes advertising worth the buck, because no money will be spent unless your objective is achieved.

Tweet Engagements

Twitter is a place for people to connect and engage. To increase your chances of an engagement, try constructing a Tweet Engagement Campaign. I would compare this type of objective to that of Facebook’s “Post Engagement” objectives. The goal is to create the largest audience for impressions, retweets, favorites and clicks.

Examples of Tweet Engagements could include:

  • Special sales or promotions
  • Events
  • Visually appealing photo
  • Vine or YouTube videos
Amazon promotes their coupons with Tweet Engagement ads.

Amazon promotes their coupons with Tweet Engagement ads.

Ugg Australia promotes a video on Twitter for the holidays.

Ugg Australia promotes a video on Twitter for the holidays.

I would consider this objective the catch-all for tweets that you would like to promote to larger audiences. The key to creating a successful Tweet Engagement Campaign is to create content that is shareable, but also has a purpose to be shared. And just like a Follower Campaign, Twitter allows you to use a previously posted tweet, or to create your own Promoted-Only tweet.

With this objective, Twitter lets you choose from one of the following targets:

  • Interests: Choose from interest categories that are similar to your followers.
  • Keywords: Reach people that might be associated with similar keywords related to your promoted tweet.
  • Followers: Select specific Twitter accounts with followers that would have similar interests to your tweet.
  • Television (one of the coolest features!!): Target people who follow specific TV shows. Great for tweeting during TV show finales, premieres, award shows, sports games and more.

Just like a Follower Campaign, you will be able to tailor your audience by location, language, devices and gender. You can also upload lists, CRMs, and more to reach a specific audience.

Twitter Advertising is a great tool for increasing your brands reach along with increasing followers to your account. In Part 2 of this guide, we will explore the Website Clicks & Conversions, Leads and App Installs or Engagement objectives. Stay tuned…

Office Communication: The Right Thing at the Right Time in the Right Way

How we communicate with clients, contractors and vendors is important — nobody can deny that. Yet how we communicate with our fellow employees and co-workers within the same office space is just as important. Following are various types of intra-office communication in today’s modern office, with a look at how each applies to (or is preferred for) specific types of conversations or purposes.

Electronic

Let’s face it — in most of today’s cutting-edge office spaces, the majority of communication inside the office walls is done electronically, for better or worse. Let’s break this category down further to look separately at chatting / instant messaging, emailing and using a project management tool.

Chat

Chatting via an instant message app such as Lync or Skype is the engine by which things get done fast. That doesn’t mean you should rely on this all the time. With this form of instantly gratifying communication, there’s always a chance that something will be said off the cuff (it’s not like you can save your chat as a draft and think about it before you hit send). This can lead to tension between employees. Furthermore, without the associated tone of something that is communicated aloud, things can be misunderstood and cause confusion. It’s therefore important that intra-office IM and chat be reserved for issues that are non-critical, non-controversial and can be solved quickly.

Email

The volume of emails is insane even in start-up environments. And as you move up the management ladder, it gets even more insane. In fact, in 2013, email traffic coming from business email accounted for over 100 billion messages per day. Email is best used for technical or elaborate discussions where a record of communication needs to be kept. Don’t use email to complain, get angry or start a fight, even between peers. Do use email to communicate confidential information that shouldn’t or can’t be said out loud. Email is also wonderful for exchanging data that’s far too unwieldy for other methods of communication.

Project Management Tool

As mentioned above, email volume can be a nightmare, even with a carefully curated folder and filter system in place. And email is terrible for project management. Version control is an issue, as is keeping the correct people cc’d on an email. And when it comes to keeping track of timelines, associated files and client needs on projects, relying on email alone can be a nightmare. Enter a project management tool. At StrataBlue, we’re a big fan of Basecamp. This tool will allow you to collaborate with co-workers and clients in one place, which includes sharing project tools such as to-do lists and calendars.

Voice

The phone is often used strictly for communication with the outside world. However, depending on the size of your office (especially if you occupy multiple floors, in which case you might even say it is “inter-office” communication), a phone call may be the best way to get things done. If you have something to communicate that depends on tone of voice, if the person you’re calling is a phone person and hates electronic communication (those beasts are rare, but they exist), or if you’d like to set up a conference call that includes people in and outside the office, the old-fashioned phone call is often the only way. Note that some offices run these over the Internet and integrate headsets. Even the best phone doesn’t feel comfortable after holding it to your ear for two hours.

Face-to-Face

And the final form of communication is one that’s the most underrated. Sometimes you just have to walk over and speak in person. Too much has been made of video chat, telepresence, Oculus virtual environments and so on. Trying to handle crucial intra- or inter-office issues via texting can also downplay their importance or lead to confusion. Depending on your office’s policies, you might have to set up a meeting first, but looking someone in the eye and talking things over is often the best way to get issues addressed and tackled fast.

Never knock the face-to-face chat. There’s a reason why it’s so valued when a CEO of a major corporation takes the time to talk to employees in person. It’s considered special and personal, and face-to-face communication is great for conveying ideas that just wouldn’t hold as much meaning any other way.

Efficient and productive communication between and amidst co-workers is crucial to the success of any business. We take communication seriously at StrataBlue, not only amongst ourselves, but also with our clients. Get in touch.

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