Choosing the Right Live Streaming Video Platform for Your Business

Choosing the Right Live Streaming Video Platform for Your Business

Social Media

Live streaming is the bright shiny new object that all brands are chasing after. First, it was social media, then it was mobile, now it’s getting in front of audiences with real-time video content. Traditional TV viewership has declined 44% since 2012 as a result of the popularity of online video content, according to ZDNet. Instead of “rah-rah, look at us,” the best brands are leveraging live video to educate, entertain, and show something off that users find valuable.

There are essentially two areas that need to be thought-through before hitting “go live.” First, the strategy. Why are you choosing to do this? What value are you providing and what goal(s) do you hope to accomplish? What will you be saying? How often will you broadcast? Who will be the brand spokesperson? All of these of these questions (and more) should be identified and documented in a strategy/planning doc.

The second area is the technology/platform you’ll be using to manage the broadcast. There are pros and cons to each platform, and it will likely depend on your current audience (where your most/best fans are) and the type of equipment you have. Or, you could choose different platforms for different situations. Let’s consider your options.

Facebook

Pros: Most popular, desktop or mobile broadcasting, commenting and sharing enhances virility, notification to followers, archive videos, great for longer broadcasts (4 hours max)

Cons: Technical issues happen, if you manage multiple pages then cross-publishing can confuse some content creators

Recommendations: Use when you have a large (or devoted) fanbase. Create a Facebook event in advance for the live stream, tease it and promote it ahead of time, go live. After the broadcast, have the video exist in your feed/library and boost it to get more out of your efforts.

Twitter

Pros: Easy for users to view and play, can be found through hashtags and search, can be found within Periscope’s app in its location map for extra reach

Cons: Mobile-only posting, it gets lost in the shuffle like everything else on Twitter

Recommendation: Use when you have a devoted Twitter following, and you’re at an event where you want to give an “inside look.” Keep it short and sweet. Okay if the videos are rough and raw. Can publish here often. Reserve more exclusive content for Facebook or Instagram.

Instagram

Pros: Still a hot, new feature, appears within the “Stories” area and can get more views than a normal video post, unlike Stories, you can broadcast up to an hour

Cons: Limited to mobile-only, limited to access only by app users (typically just your followers seeing the content), only accessible for 24 hours

Recommendation: Because of the timeliness of live videos and Stories on Instagram, it’s best to tease when you are going live through posts and Stories ahead of time. Remember, these are your best followers paying attention. Reserve for highly anticipated content: exclusive interviews, new product reveals, major company announcements, etc

YouTube

Pros: Easy to set-up, archive video in your library, real-time comments, do not need to be a YouTube user to watch

Cons: Most businesses don’t have a ton of subscribers on YouTube, so you need a way to drive viewers

Recommendation: Use for longer video broadcasts if you aren’t active on Facebook, create a Live Event ahead of time so you can tease the broadcast link in ads, email campaigns, social media, etc. After running, leverage the archive version on your website and email campaigns. 

Livestream.com

Pros: Access to customer service, can embed video onto website, push to Facebook and YouTube simultaneously, ad-free

Cons: Costs money

Recommendation: Use if/when you are devoting a great deal of time, talent and money towards your live streaming program. If you are planning on broadcasting weekly and have thousands invested in equipment for a more professional quality look, go this route. It will allow you still to push your content to some of the above networks, but with added video production capabilities and support. 

Case Study: Live Streaming Lectures for CoreLife Eatery and Making the Change from YouTube to Facebook

The issue and set-up.

For years, CoreLife Eatery has hosted lectures inside of its restaurants. The team brings in credible authority figures from various fields (health, nutrition, fitness, medicine, etc) to speak to guests on educational topics. The events that take place inside of its Vestal, NY location have live guests and are also live streamed for online fans. Vestal was designed with live streaming in mind – it has a lecture hall, adjacent to the restaurant, and has professional video production equipment installed.

When we first started to live stream in 2016, Facebook hadn’t yet enabled the ability for brands to stream live via desktop. At the time, one could only broadcast from a mobile device. This just wasn’t feasible and would also produce a quality that wasn’t up to our standards. After research, we settled on YouTube.

Distribution became nightmarish.

The stream needed to go through YouTube but our audience resided on other social platforms – mainly Facebook (99% of it, in fact). Therefore, the links had to be shared on our Facebook location pages.

  • By the time the posts went out and started to gain traction, the hour-long live stream was over.
  • When we tried to boost the posts, by the time they were approved and received that extended reach, the live stream was over.
  • We also tried to send the live links out to our massive email distribution list. By the time emails were opened and clicked, the live stream was over.

Noticing a trend? The very nature of live video wasn’t allowing us enough time to promote.

View numbers were extremely low too – some videos were only watched live by about 20-40 people and watched later by another 70-100. The “CoreLife Lesson: Maximizing You Not” video, for example, has only 133 views to date. Attaining comments and responding to them on the YouTube chat board was also not very effective since we couldn’t pull comments into our third party social management tool (SproutSocial).

Not long after we started doing YouTube live streaming did Facebook open up its capabilities to live stream from desktop (meaning, you could now use full video equipment to broadcast). After giving ample time to YouTube, and testing various tactics, we realized it would be in our best interest to change our strategy.

We made the jump to Facebook Live.

We began with research in how Facebook Live works – particularly for brands. We then held a training session with the client who would be using the equipment on-site in Vestal to broadcast. They had a video encoding software called Wirecast that allowed the videos to be uploaded directly to Facebook. This software also allowed them to toggle between multiple camera angles and add lower thirds and other basic video production techniques.

We walked them through the process, granted them access to the Facebook brand page, established a sync with Wirecast, showed them how to create a title and description for the post, and tested.

Our sharing plan came into focus.

Since we had 25 Facebook location pages (and knowing that number continues to grow), we didn’t want to publish the video directly to all 25 locations. Though this is technically possible – it would require increased software costs (maybe even forcing them to purchase and learn a completely different video tool) and it required that we provide access to all Facebook pages to the client (which increased the risk of accidentally publishing and posting – which we always try to prevent).

Therefore, we decided to broadcast live only to the main brand page, and then we would be on standby to immediately share to all other 24+ location pages. Through that unique link, the live video would remain live on all pages where it was shared. In doing so, it allowed us to gather more views and more comments across all of our pages.

Commenting would exist as normal Facebook comments, meaning it would be aggregated inside of SproutSocial and our engagement team could more easily manage responses. Additionally, we have all of our Facebook pages connected and authorized to cross-post. This allows us to save the original video into the libraries of each of the location pages (something that is important to the client), so the videos can always be found later no matter what community a fan is from.

Here are some results.

In the first few live streams we broadcasted via Facebook, we saw more than a thousand views in real-time, and another several thousand after the live videos ended – since they continued to exist as videos in our Facebook feeds. The “CoreLife Eatery – Happiness Axis” video, for example, has gathered 6,718 views to date. That’s a 4950% increase from the example above that was broadcast via YouTube. We created an event for the live stream ahead of time, teased it on our Facebook pages, distributed an email to our fan base with the link, and managed comments from the video in real-time. If we boosted the live stream videos across our pages after the broadcast concluded, we would have seen even more impressive stats!

Overall, this adjusted strategy required some upfront work and training, but it has panned out much better from an upkeep standpoint and generated greater results. For us, it was a much more successful solution.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

How I Lost 2,000 Twitter Followers and What I Learned In the Process

How I Lost 2,000 Twitter Followers and What I Learned In the Process

Social Media

My story.

At my “Twitter peak,” I had around 11,000 followers. That was in late 2015. Today, I’m down to 8,980 and counting and I typically lose a few followers each day. Here’s what happened, and here’s why I don’t mind seeing them go…

I graduated from college in 2009. It was a tough time to be a college graduate due to the Great Recession that hit earlier that year. Thousands of companies were laying off so when positions did happen to open, those who were laid off with plenty more experience under their belts, were acting as competition.

On the flip side, this new thing called social media was beginning to gain traction. Though many platforms were a few years old, it was the period when businesses wanted to try to understand and exercise the benefits of these channels. I was instructed by several mentors to get involved, learn the tools, appreciate how businesses can take advantage, etc. So I did.

How I gained my following.

I set out on a – what would soon become a seven-year journey – to be a Twitter all-star. I treated it like a second job. I would get home from work each night and devote at least two hours to the cause.

I’m not Twitter famous by any means. I’m not even verified. But for someone who wasn’t/isn’t a full-time blogger, member of the media, or a celebrity, I think having several thousands of followers was a nice feat. It certainly helped give me credibility when I spoke to clients about social media marketing.

Throughout the time when I was highly active, I was often asked my peers and clients how I accumulated such a following. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a magic bullet, and it didn’t happen overnight. I don’t mind sharing some of my best practices for gaining a following:

I talked to everyone.

I would use the search tool and hashtags to find people in PR, marketing, and technology, etc. Then I would engage – the good ‘ol true definition of the word. I’d reply to people for hours on end, asking questions, commenting, getting involved in professional conversations with my opinion and limited expertise. This was before it was all too common to use the “fav” feature (now “like” feature) so it was all real commentary. Many users came and went. Some I continue to talk to today. (Shoutout to @jesslaw ‏@aubzim ‏@Courtz112 and @bitty_boop ‏ for holdin’ it down since day 1.)

I participated in a ton of Twitter Chats.

#PRChat, #JournChat, #ContentChat, #PPCChat, etc. These were/are weekly chats focused on a variety of topics in my industry – public relations, blogging, marketing, technology, etc. I’d answer every question and stay involved for the full hour. After each event, I would follow all users who I interacted with throughout the chat. Most would immediately follow back.

I hijacked live events.

There were many users who would list and/or follow users who were participating and tweeting about certain live events. This could be music festivals (#WarpedTour), TV shows (like the #Oscars), or trade shows (#NRAShow) and industry conferences (#INBOUND). By using the owned hashtags for the event, my tweets would be noticed among other participants (both live and online) and cause quite a few follow backs. I also participated in a few live Tweet-Ups, gatherings made up of active Twitter users in a certain area.

I followed relevant people.

I wanted to follow (and get follow backs from) people who were in my industry. As a shortcut, I knew that people who engaged with marketing/ad agencies would be related to my field. I used Twitter lists like mad to classify and organize my following. I followed tons of those who were connected to local/regional agencies. I also used Twitter directories to find relevant handles based on topics. Having a professional headshot, detailed bio related to my job, and a website with supporting material helped ensure that I was legitimate and wasn’t a bot. It helped me get noticed.

I created and shared a lot of content.

I’ve seen Twitter users who tweet a lot, but it’s nothing meaningful. Content creation is important because people look to you as a source of rich information, as a thought leader. I created/shared blog articles, short videos, photos, charts, infographics, etc. Some on behalf of my business, some that I did on my own time simply to support my Twitter initiative. I also used relevant hashtags when posting. These pieces got shared, caused reactions, and led to follower growth.

There’s been a ton of articles over the years on ways to develop a following. Do a quick Google search. Blogs from 2009 up until yesterday. Many of them have decent suggestions, beyond some that I mentioned above. Here’s one.

How I lost my following.

I’m not sure if it was the changing usage patterns of Twitter or maybe I had just grown tired of reading tweets from total strangers. Either way, for me, Twitter had lost some of its luster. I decided to make a change.

It took me about four hours (since they got rid of all the mass unfollow tools) but I cleansed myself of about 8,000 following. I only left remaining: 1) those who I personally knew, 2) those who I had developed Twitter relationships with over time, 3) trusted media outlets that I often read, 4) select businesses and brands that I pay close attention to. I left myself with about 200 following.

A lot of users on Twitter play the “I only follow people who follow me back” game. It’s not a bad form of etiquette. If you don’t care about what I have to say, why should I care about what you have to say? It’s not like Facebook or LinkedIn. If we don’t know each other, there are no real repercussions if one of us hits “unfollow.”

After I had cleansed my list, I watched as 2,000 followers slowly unfollowed me over the course of about three months. Since then, a few followers fade each day. I still have 8,000+ but, more importantly, I have true connections with many that have stayed and I continue to engage with them regularly.

I had preached it for years but I wasn’t living it – until now. Quality > quantity. The number doesn’t mean anything if those individuals weren’t paying attention, engaging, sharing a connection, communicating. I have no interest in spectators – on Twitter, in business, or in my personal life, so the following number means nothing to me. It’s all about the conversations.

How Twitter has changed.

Twitter is very different today than it was in 2009. From my experience, it’s become much more of an article exchange center rather than a source of original content. What I mean is there’s a few creators, namely big bloggers or media outlets, and the rest of users simply add to the commentary with a RT, like, or reply (remember the 90-9-1 rule?). The ability to reply with animated gifs and emojis has only fueled this behavior since you don’t need to leave Twitter to find these reactions. Of course, Twitter as a source for instant news is still a critical function, especially with the addition of live streaming – but again – most people sit back and watch the 1% do their thing.

Jay Baer at Convince & Convert predicted this as soon as Twitter updated its software to algorithmically show certain tweets ahead of others. He also alluded to the rise of Twitter ads to help businesses find their way to the top of user feeds.

Here’s what I feel Twitter still does really well and where I feel it struggles. This can help you and your business decide if/when to use Twitter and how much attention to give to it.

Pros:

  • Customer service. Those on Twitter expect instant responses. That’s the nature of the tool. It’s real-time. Business can/should use Twitter as a way for customers to ask questions. The only caveat – you should be ready to respond immediately, at least within the hour.
  • Skews younger. If you’re a brand whose target audience is tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings, this is a great outlet. It isn’t as shiny and new as SnapChat, but it does boast these users in great numbers. Plus, Twitter outweighs SnapChat with the ability to add call to actions, have versatile content, and remain top of mind longer.
  • Show off your brand voice/personality. I’m sure you’ve read about Wendy’s on Twitter. It’s amazing. They are sassy, sarcastic, even sometimes rude, but it fits the personality they want to convey. Their target audience is younger, more urban, with less income. It fits them. Other brands should follow suit, find a voice that makes sense, and embrace it wholly.

Cons:

  • The novelty is gone. Twitter still continues to claim that it has 320 million users. But it doesn’t take a Twitter expert to browse around and see all the dormant, dead accounts that exist. Not to mention the crazy amount of spam or fake accounts. I think the numbers are inflated. The newness of Twitter has faded and many social influencers have taken to Instagram or SnapChat as an alternative.
  • Short life span. Despite the “In case you missed it…” feature, the very nature of Twitter means that tweets have a short life span. Within hours, sometimes even minutes (depending on the user), the tweet is buried and gone. This requires users and brands tweet often to stay top of mind and more resources are needed to make that happen.
  • Challenging ad interface. It’s not challenging to use. It’s challenging to find success. Unless you’re a company with a very broad target audience, it’s tough to find your niche. The targeting features on Twitter aren’t nearly as good as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can use keywords, related followers using handle names, geography, and interests, but even just a few keywords or handles will put a lot of people on your list that aren’t relevant. When I used Twitter ads, it took some time and a lot of babysitting and adjusting to find my sweet spot. You can certainly find success, but you may waste money in the process.

This article was originally published for Site-Seeker. You can find it here.

7 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Social Media Marketer

7 Questions To Ask When Hiring A Social Media Marketer

Social Media

Beyond my normal 9-5 at Site-Seeker, I also teach social media marketing at Utica College. I often tell students that social media, though 10+ years old now, is still seen as the new kid on the block. Because of this, some seasoned marketers still frown upon social and the abilities needed to actually do it well, do it right, and generate results.

They either:

  • Don’t see the value, or
  • Don’t respect the work

Either way, those professionals are setting their departments/businesses up for failure. When you aren’t recognizing the importance of social as a key component, or maybe even the single most critical component of your marketing plan, you end up shirking your responsibilities when it comes to resources. That goes for both tools and people.

Recruiting fitting talent to perform social media for business may not seem like it’s hard. But it is. And here’s why:

Everyone thinks they can do social media.

SPOILER ALERT: They can’t. Not by a long shot.

As a [somewhat] young marketing professional, I’ve been lucky enough to be on both sides of the coin. I’ve applied, interviewed, and secured (and didn’t secure) social media jobs. And I’ve job posted, screened, interviewed, and hired for social media jobs. In both scenarios, I’ve picked up quite a few tips on the best ways to prove your social media knowhow and worth.

Here’s seven questions I always ask when interviewing a social media marketer:

1) What’s your education?

I’ve found that some of the most talented people in new media and digital marketing don’t have any formal education in these areas. However, I’ve often found people that do, have an advantage. They can look beyond the work itself and answer the “why.” Why is engagement important? It’s not the “like” that’s valuable; it’s the advocacy that’s slowly being created to draw in fans, cultivate them, and turn them into brand loyalists. Sure, someone without formal education can grasp these concepts with the right training. But academic education often creates that foundational understanding and the roots that tie social media to the rest of important business activities. You won’t need to worry about taking on that training yourself. Consider majors (or master’s) in marketing, public relations, or communications.

2) Do you have executing strengths?

At Site-Seeker, we use the Clifton StrengthsFinder test to determine both current and potential employees’ top strengths. This is important in hiring for the right position and placing people on projects where they will excel. If you use this test when hiring, ensure that social media marketing candidates have execution strengths (which is one of the four categories that strengths fall within). Social media is such a detail-oriented environment. There’s a lot of planning involved, but also so much to follow through on. If you have a strategic mind, are a creative dreamer, or are an individual who just can’t seem to put pen to paper – forget it. You need someone who has an innate talent in taking loose ideas and turning them into something real and tangible.

3) What channels have you managed on behalf of a business?

I brush my teeth every day, but that doesn’t make me a dental hygienist. Just because you post photos on your personal Instagram or live tweet during The Bachelor, it doesn’t even come close to describing your abilities in using social media for a brand. We’re talking about creating a unique and professional voice, posting with intention associated with a buyer persona and pre-created objectives, being meticulous over engagement and responses that can aid in brand storytelling. You don’t discount the work of a dentist or dental hygienist. Don’t discount the work of a social media marketer.

4) What are the top metrics you feel would measure success in a social program?

You need to determine if they can analyze web data. This is often the most under-appreciated side to social media marketing. I’d even go to the length of saying it’s the most important. The inexperienced professional will automatically defer to “likes” and “follows” as top metrics. But experienced inbound marketers know that social media is just another one of the many media used to reach business goals. Namely, social should drive conversions, and in most cases, this translates to web visitors, leads and online sales. See how candidates handle this question and allow them to elaborate on their experience and comfort level with handling data and turning it into usable information.

5) What are some social media tools or software that have worked for you in the past?

There are too many components of social media today to not rely on tools. Whether it’s SimplyMeasured, If This Then That, SproutSocial, BuzzSumo, Canva, etc – there are a ton of software options that not only allow marketers to be more efficient, but to get work done that would be nearly impossible if done manually. Quiz the candidate on the various tools that they know can potentially work to make for a more successful social program. If they don’t know of any, they probably need a bit more experience. On top of that, advertising is critical for social media in business today. I usually tell clients that if they don’t have a social media advertising budget, don’t even bother. The candidate should be well-versed in online advertising and know the best techniques in how to manage and carry out successful ad campaigns.

6) What type of proof can you provide to showcase your writing skills?

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a 1200-word blog post, or a 12-word tweet. Keen writing skills are crucial to everything we do in marketing. Research, putting information into an easy-to-understand way, writing to entice a share, a click, a purchase. Make sure you look at the candidate’s portfolio. There should be proof of sound writing skills and creativity. Look for example pieces of copywriting, blogs, email campaigns, or even formal writing like research projects.

7) What is your experience with creative work?

The only way to break through the crap, err, I mean clutter, is creativity. Think about it. What do you actually click on these days? You scroll through probably 100 videos on Facebook each day. 500 tweets. 50 snaps. Which ones do you actually take the time to watch or read? Or better yet, which ones do you actually recall an hour, a day, or a week later? The only pieces of content that work are those that are the most creative. Text, graphic, photo, video – it doesn’t matter the medium – it matters if it stands out (while also being relevant to the brand, industry, and goals of the campaign). Get a feel for the candidate’s creative work and experience. If they aren’t creative, they’ll likely fail hard in a social media role.

Based on all that above, consider some of the key skills needed for the most important jobs that social media marketers do on a regular basis:

Once you’ve given my seven questions some thought – and any other interview questions that you deem as valuable to making sure the candidate(s) is a good fit for your company or organization – you’re ready to start recruiting.

  • Consider LinkedIn and Facebook as resources to locate talent. Since it’s a social media position, they should be using these tools already and have rich profiles.
  • Be careful about your job description, ensure that talent must be local (if that’s the case, or else you’ll get a lot of remote workers due to the nature of the job). They should provide a resume, cover letter, and portfolio (this will weed out bad apples, and provide proof of experience/skills). Be sure to deeply explore their social channels and website.
  • Take time to explore portfolio work and check into references.

Good luck and happy recruiting!

This article was originally published for Site-Seeker Inc. Find the original article by clicking here.

Social Media Posts That Suck vs Ones That Rock, And Why

Social Media Posts That Suck vs Ones That Rock, And Why

Social Media

There are 500 million tweets per day. About 1 billion Facebook posts. And more than a billion videos if you combine those from Instagram, Vine and YouTube. That’s a lot of content. And that’s only one day.

In short: You have to cut through the clutter to stand out above the rest. Wait. You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? Well it’s easier said than done. Of course, it takes a great deal of creativity to really get noticed online and see your posts take off. It’s a challenge that we all face and some of us have been rewarded for our efforts.

But we’re not talking about creativity today. Instead, I want to focus purely on the basics: structure and design. For every platform, there’s a certain way of posting that lends itself to a clean, polished look, which leads to greater chances of being found and shared. This is the first step to being noticed and garnering excitement and interactions. Very few brands see the benefits of social media when publishing ugly, disjointed or irrelevant material. You must take the extra time and effort to ensure your content is being presented in a way that looks great and best represents your brand, so it will more likely be received by your target audience.

Below, find 10 different types of social postings. We’ll look at a poor quality post compared to a high quality one and explore some of the differences.

Facebook

Bad

Good

Here why…

First off, Seaport Hotel has quite a bit of text in this post. Too much, actually. They also didn’t shorten the link, which makes the post appear very unsightly. They also failed to tag iFest in the post. By doing so, it would have appeared on their partner’s page for additional viewers to find. On the other hand, Coke keeps their text length fairly short (the shorter, the better with Facebook). It includes a full size, branded image that is entertaining and relevant to its brand. And it has also tagged fans who have commented, so those individuals feel special and will be more likely to share the post, enhancing its virility. Finally, they include the custom campaign hashtag #ShareACoke, which relates to offline efforts.

 

LinkedIn

Bad

Good

Here why…

Equipment Depot committed a few mortal sins in this post. First, they are posting to LinkedIn from Facebook. As a result, the post is formatted terribly, the headline and caption just say “facebook.com,” and the text is cut off. If you are going to auto-post or use a third party automation tool, you must be very cautious and ensure that posts come out neat and clean on the other side. Secondly, the brand liked its own post. Just don’t. Adobe publishes an excellent post. It keeps its message short and direct with a shortened link. And it uses a branded landscape image with all of the details directly in the photo (in case people share just the photo). The inclusion of Richard Sherman is likely to intercept those scrolling too (you like that pun?).

 

Twitter

Bad

Good

Here why…

Here, we see automation once again ruining the impact of a post. With Facebook connect, Zips Car Wash tweets a text-only tweet with characters also getting cut off. No image. No hashtag. No call to action. Lowe’s produces a nice post as it shares an article on gardening ideas. It’s close to the ideal length of a tweet, which is 100 characters. It has a shortened link for a cleaner look while allowing for tracking. Lowe’s also includes the handle of the blogger (so she can be notified and push it to her followers) and it includes no more than two hashtags, *after* the link. The embedded image is relevant to the story and allows the tweet to take up more real estate in followers’ feeds.

 

Pinterest

Bad

Good

Here why…

VIP Cars pinned a picture of Cape Town. Although beautiful, it is a random photo that isn’t exactly relevant to its brand. It also pulled the picture from the image-only page of a site so the pin isn’t correlated with a webpage for users to read/find more information. Instead, All You Magazine shares a delectable recipe shot directly from its own website. Users can click and find their way to the recipe to make it right at home (directly in line with its brand). The description is short and to-the-point. It has also placed it on a fitting board, “Outdoor Entertainment,” for followers to find other similar recipes, and follow the board outright.

 

Instagram

Bad

Good

Here why…

DJ Auto Collision tries to piece together three different pictures but it is not presented in a very aesthetically pleasing way. Lime green? Eek. I’d recommend shying away from bright, bold colors in most cases, unless it pairs well with the image. It also only uses one hashtag, which is the business name. Conversely, Utica Coffee Roasting posts a very down-to-earth photo of a customer taking a sip of its own product – a very delicious-looking latte. It keeps the caption brief with a few relevant hashtags to help it be found for those searching for similar images. It looks like a filter may have been used as well to just tone the image a bit and add a nice subtle effect.

 

Vine

Bad

Good

Here why…

FashionOffice doesn’t really include anything in this post that is captivating nor fitting for its brand. A short (and shaky, at that) montage of Times Square isn’t all that unique. It’s a scene seen by a few hundred thousand people every day. The caption isn’t very descriptive either. Oreo has been a long-time power user of Vine. It leads with a branded sign held by a person (kind of like a director’s action board). A magician then performs a quick trick using the Oreo cookie. The description is short and sweet (another pun, gotta love it!) and features a custom hashtag for loyal viewers who want to find more of these particular Vines.

 

YouTube

Bad

Good

Here’s why…

DigitLab’s video is high resolution but lacks any sort of supplemental graphics or charts to reinforce key spoken points. The video is short and the title and description are limiting. The one camera angle also creates a very monotonous experience. It’s boring. Conversely, Rand Fishkin, on behalf of Moz, posts video blogs on a regular basis, which cultivates a following. There are custom-created bookends at the beginning and end of the video to introduce and reinforce the brand. There’s also an intro slide, which includes the name of the topic as well as the presenter’s name. The title of the post is complete and a relevant description is provided too. Finally, the video is close to seven minutes, the ideal length of a video blog post.

 

Google+

Bad

Good

Here why…

CCRI published a very plain, text heavy post with no other information. It doesn’t capture a reader’s attention and has no call to action to lead users anywhere outside of Google+. WVU, on the other hand, features an article that leads back to its website. It begins with a simple but sensible caption and includes three relevant hashtags to pair with the content. The photo is eye-catching (seriously, who looks away from a wedding proposal picture?) and the headline and description for the article are also featured, taking up more space in the Google+ interface. As a result, this post saw a great deal of *engagement* (okay, third pun, what do I win?!).

 

Blog

Bad

Good

Here why…

Columbia features a very short post that is all about its own products. There is one image and a few outbound links but the content is very thin. The headline isn’t SEO friendly and no author name is provided. It’s very bland.

The idea for the blog post you’re reading stemmed from Kevan Lee’s post for Buffer on the ideal length of everything online – so I might as well give it a plug here. This post has it all. A title that is very search friendly. A custom banner graphic featuring the title of the blog. An author area with Kevan’s headshot. The ability to easily share on social. It’s a very length piece of content supported by research, stats and graphics (ideal length of a blog post is in the 1600-word area). And it features practical information that is very useful to viewers. The comment feed is open and Kevan has replied to some posters. It’s broken up by H2s to make it more readable. It features links for more information. And it features a sharable summary image at the bottom of the post that was purely made for social media.

 

e-mail

Bad

Good

Here why…

Your email marketing campaigns shouldn’t look like a website. Instead, treat it like an extension of your social activity. You want this touchpoint to be useful, not a piece of junk mail. Allied Bank’s email is very overwhelming with too much information and too many places to click. The many different content boxes make it seem disorganized and messy. In comparison, Simply Measured delivers short weekly emails instead of long monthly newsletters. Titled “How to Time Your Tweets Down to the Minute,” it is right in the area of the perfect subject line length, which is less than 39 characters. It has one main feature with a link to the website to read the full article. That’s followed by three more articles with simple teasers and images. In the footer, one can request a trial (its primary goal with these emails) or one can find its social media channels. It is a simple layout and effective at the same time.

 

Have you seen any other great examples of social media posts from brands? Share some additional examples and let us see!

Top Social Efforts to Boost Referral Traffic to Your Website

Top Social Efforts to Boost Referral Traffic to Your Website

Social Media

Social media has many benefits to a brand. Raising awareness, generating buzz around events or news, keeping your name or products top of mind, managing customer service, gathering consumer-generated content, market research, and the list goes on. But for some reason, many of us get hung up on the fact that social media has to have an immediate, short term return on investment. Many social strategies are long term investments, so when looking at a tight time frame, we migrate towards metrics that try and allow us to justify our efforts. Enter: referral traffic.

 

Referral traffic is a very important thing to measure within a social media campaign. For many companies, bringing visitors to your website helps them learn about your products and services and establishes one more touchpoint in that very important buying process. It gets the user away from all the chaos on social media and lets them solely focus on one thing…you. And that’s valuable stuff. So after using many social media channels over the past few years, I’ve learned which ones generate the highest return on investment, based on cost vs referral traffic. Of course numbers will very based on your industry and the content you’re producing, but for the most part, this will give you a simple indication of which channels are best for driving traffic back to the homebase.

 

Social Media ROI

1) Blogging

The only one with 5 stars in terms of referral traffic is blogging. Are you surprised? If on a subdomain, blogging can be tremendously helpful to sending traffic to one’s website, if using links properly. If housed on the company site itself, blogs will generate organic traffic from search and attain visitors from referral links from any sites or bloggers who re-run your material or cite your writing. A misconception is that this effort is free but it is one of the biggest investments your company can make in the social space. The best blogging companies invest tons of time and resources into blogging efforts. Beyond time for writing, you will want to budget money for stock photography or time for your design team to create custom graphics, infographics, charts or visuals to supplement your material within the post and/or for social media when distributing. It makes the world of a difference in getting people to read, react and share your content. It’s also helpful to promote your blog articles on social using ad dollars to “light the fire” and get the traction rolling.

 

2) E-Newsletter

Email marketing may not be the best approach to reach your teen audience (most do not use email with the exception of using it for registration purposes) but email is still widely used among most working professionals. It’s a great way to reinforce messages, introduce the latest news to a loyal audience, and keep them coming back to your site. Carefully design a layout – don’t have too much information there – and drive people deep into your site on specific landing pages, not just the homepage. Tell them what you want them to be looking at. Costs here are associated with monthly software fees (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc), stock photography, design costs, and the time it takes to prepare and distribute. Your list is critical. Always be conscience about growing this – whether it’s through other social channels, events, contests with registration walls, etc. Your list is powerful in bringing in visitors to your site.

 

3) Twitter

Many of us know how great this tool can be at luring traffic to your site. But this audience is very cautious what it clicks on – simply because they are being bombarded with hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of tweets each day. Because of this, be strategic when you include a link to your own site. Always use the old age “What’s In It For Them?” Push them to an educational blog posts, a cool new product, a fun contest going on, etc. Be creative and straightforward in your limited description too, because you have to convince them to click in less than 100 characters or so. Costs here are related to stock photos or designs you’ll want to use to pair with your content. Also, do not overlook Twitter advertising. It’s a great way to get new users in front of your material and you can select the type of person that is most appealing to your business, so it works well.

 

4) LinkedIn

Of all the promoted post- style advertising on social media, LinkedIn can often times be the most expensive. But it’s a great way to get highly targeted people in front of your content and lead them to your site. The filters available through LinkedIn are extraordinary, allowing you to target by age, geography, profession, industry, hierarchy, group, and more. Naturally, you’ll pay for this luxury in your higher cost per clicks. But regardless, it can be effective. LinkedIn readers love tips on how to do their jobs better, motivational articles, and the inside scoop on new jobs available in their fields. Keep this in mind when sharing material that refers back to your website. You don’t want them to be disappointed when they go for that click. So make sure it’s meaningful and in line with the type of professional readers that are here.

 

5) YouTube

I have YouTube listed as the most expensive of all the tactics. Because quite frankly, video production ain’t cheap. Sure, you can get away with haphazardly winging some videos together and throwing them up online. You might get a few views. But ever notice the ones that we gravitate towards every week (if they are a regular series) or the ones you pull to use in presentations or demonstrations. You and I both are pulling the ones that look professional, are in high definition, boast great audio quality, and subtly use visuals as examples to support the verbal discussions. You’ll need lights, microphones, a great camera (preferably two), lots of time and research, a personable and lively spokesperson, and more. But here’s the bright side. Of all the types of content available to you, in my opinion, videos are the one type that is most likely to really take off if done right. You can include links in your description area or within the videos themselves. And finally, you can expose your messages to more people through advertising (which again, costs money on this platform). But think about all the embeds and shares you can get if your videos are valuable to your target audience. In all, YouTube can be one of the biggest spends in your social media budget but can also see one of the greatest returns on investment, especially in terms of referral traffic.

 

Social media has a variety of benefits. Gaining visitors to your website is only one – though an important one if it matches your goals. Share content that is worthwhile and carefully select the channels that you wish to invest in to see high levels of return. Keep in mind that you don’t want to *just* share content about yourself – social media is all about sharing the wealth and getting involved in conversations that are out there on the web. But being selfish every now and again to impact the bottom line is a no-brainer.

 

Which channels, in your experience, have you seen bring about the highest levels of referral traffic. Comment below!