Why Timing is Everything With Social Media

By Mark Evans - September 29th, 2014

Among the different tactical approaches to social media, quantity seems to rule the roost for most brands.

It’s based on the belief that whoever makes the most noise wins.

The problem, however, is when everyone is shouting to be noticed, it is difficult for anyone to capture the spotlight. It’s like going to a dinner party where everyone is trying to talk over each other, rather than having a civil conversation.

An approach to social media that is often overlooked or, frankly, ignored is timing. It’s about figuring out the best times to post on social media to connect with the biggest audience.

img vspace=Most social media tools are focused on instant-gratification (aka publish my updates, tweets immediately) or scheduling updates based on guesses more than science.

It means many updates appear when few people or no one is listening, which makes them ineffective and, in blunt terms, a waste of time and energy.

So when is the best time to be posting on social media?

While there is no one answer, SurePayroll put together an infographic that provides some insight into the “best” time slots for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

While the information on the infographic shouldn’t surprise anyone, the more important lesson is how brands need to think about when to effectively reach out to customers.

For some brands, being active on social media during the day makes sense because this is when customers are focused on work.

But within the working day, there are clearly better time to publish – e.g. lunch time, late afternoon.

For other brands, the best time to active social media may be at times when other brands are quiet.

A B2C brand, for example, could discover that posting content, tweets, etc. works best late at night when its target audience is chilling out at home.

So how do brands figure out the “best times”?

1. You need to know you target audiences, including the creation of buyer personas. This gives a brand tremendous insight into how its customers behave.

2. A willingness to experiment to see what and when works best. Sometimes, doing what seems to be the right way may be off the mark.

3. Looking at analytics to see what the data tells you.

How does your brand decide when do tweet, update, etc.? Do you have a plan of attack, or simply post when you think it’s the best time.


Social Media Goes Mad for the iPhone 6

By Mark Evans - September 26th, 2014

li-iphone-crowdAs the world went bonkers for the release of the iPhone 6, social media was held hostage by activity that included opinions, features, flaws, stories and excitement.

The sheer amount of content that was produced over a roughly 2 week period about the Apple iPhone 6 was astounding, and since its release to the market it has not slowed down.

One video in particular made its way around Twitter and Facebook in particular. It was of the first purchase of the device in Perth, and the owner dropping it on the ground during a news telecast.

The amazing part is that Apple is not the most social company, stemming from Steve Jobs who wasn’t social media’s most ardent fan.

That hasn’t stopped Apple enthusiasts from using social media to share and connect over its products. Let’s be honest, very few fan brands build as much buzz for a launch as Apple, and social media is a huge part of that buzz.

Apple has become a vital part of the social media fabric, driven mostly by its fans, something that every brand wants to accomplish. Not an easy feat.

The buzz turned to hysteria as the the iPhone 6 rose to become one of the biggest technology launches of all time, something that was predicted by many on social media.

Yahoo! Finance created a system that could track and map social media posts. It would track a post and pin it to a geography. This allowed for the buzz to be quickly mapped. A user could zoom in on a map and then see the chatter specific to that area.

The enormous lines of people waiting to purchase the smartphone was relative to the social media activity. Both together paint a picture of brand loyalty the likes that few brands can claim as their own.

Maybe Apple knows a thing or two about social media after all.

Apple and U2 Jump the Shark

By Mark Evans - September 24th, 2014

ABC_apple_u2_mar_140909_16x9_992Social media had its latest outrage and digital marketers had another important lesson recently courtesy of Apple and U2.

The crime was to “gift” U2’s new album, Songs of Innocence, to Apple iTunes users. Apple reportedly paid 100 million to U2 for the right to do this for their user base.

The kicker was that initially there was no way to delete the album. Shortly after its release and social media upheaval, Apple had to publish instructions on how to delete the album.

This is just the kind of thing that causes social media to explode, and it did just that once the album hit iTunes. It wasn’t even just about the quality of the album that had Facebook and Twitter talking.

It was something being forced onto a device that its owner was suppose to personalize and have reflect their likes and interests. Apple pioneered the deconstruction of albums into individual songs based on the belief that people make an emotional connection to a song.

The posts and tweets were relentless and the hope should be that other brands (including globally popular bands), realize that you can not force something on your audience and customers. They must choose to want something even if it is free.

Another takeaway from this incident is that your best laid plans can easily go to waste. It’s obvious that Apple felt they were delivering something of value only to have it blow up in their faces.

If this tactic worked and was planned and executed properly, this would have been a huge win for all parties involved. It would have exploded on social media but for positive reasons. Of course, this wasn’t the reality of what went down.

The greatest wound might be felt by U2 more than Apple when all of the dust settles. Nonetheless, this was a harsh lesson for Apple to have learned, and a very expensive one.

Reinventing Advertising for Social Media: It’s Not About You

By Sheldon Levine - September 23rd, 2014

This post first appeared on the Social Media Week global blog and is a companion for our talk at Social Media Week London happening today.
Social Media WeekSocial Media Week is here and we’re thrilled to be joining the conversation in London. For those of you just tuning in, the week-long conference provides the ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world. We’re honored to have our very own Roy Jacques join powerhouses Tariq Slim (Twitter) and Selena Harrington (Microsoft Mobile) in three short presentations followed by a Q&A discussion that will explore the best ways for brands to embrace Social Advertising in their everyday activities.

Social media is forcing reinvention of every marketing decision – new goals, new messages, new channels, new metrics, new timelines, new analytics. Marketers have to embrace experimentation, creating learning environments that support quick execution, rigorous analysis and continuous improvements of results.

As social continues to proliferate every aspect of our existence, advertisers are among the most eager to take advantage of the opportunity to reach their target audiences. It’s not as simple as creating a Twitter account and blasting brand jingles, however. Roy’s presentation, “Reinventing Advertising for Social Media: It’s Not About You,” will discuss how advertising for social media is a two-way conversation between brand and consumer.

The good news is that today there are thousands of opportunities for customer connection, and a wealth of real-time, accessible information. Twitter alone sees over 500 million tweets per day, and an “always on, always listening” approach presents advertisers with spur-of-the-moment connections with customers that not only build brand reputation, but foster a community of brand champions who will take a brand’s message even further.

The challenge that accompanies these opportunities is that many are overwhelmed with data. Advertisers are drowning in it and are relying on archaic models of decision-making in this new age. The result: untargeted messages sail over the heads of target audiences and countless opportunities are missed (or worse, the wrong messages go to the wrong audiences and get categorized as noise). What’s a brand to do?

The Power of Social Media to Acquire Website Traffic

By Mark Evans - September 22nd, 2014

For all the talk about social media being a way to engage and have conversations with customers, one of the most compelling features is attract Website traffic.

From a sales and marketing perspective, social media is an effective acquisition channel. This is particularly the case for companies that have embraced content marketing. What better way to get people to read your blog, white papers, case studies, videos, etc. than an aggressive social media strategy that puts everything into the spotlight.

In a recent blog post, Fred Wilson, a well known venture capitalist with Union Square Ventures, looked at the referrals sources for his blog.

social mediaHe discovered that social (Twitter and Disqus) attract 23% of all traffic, while search accounts for about 20%.

For anyone wondering about the value of social media, Wilson’s blog traffic is a clear illustration about how customers are discovering content.

Social media has become so valuable for brands and individuals creating content because it’s a vibrant, dynamic landscape that can take on a life of its own.

In social media, a particular piece of content can be easily distributed, discovered and shared. Content that captures the spotlight suddenly enjoys the benefits of viral marketing and the multiplier effect.

As important, content that is shared and recommendation within social media enjoys authenticity and validation.

I’m not suggesting in any way that search isn’t an effective tool for content discovery. But it is important to remember that social media channels can deliver extensive reach.

Brands and individuals driving hard with content marketing need to look at all their distribution weapons to attract as many readers as possible.

In some cases, social media is going to be the biggest traffic driver. This is especially the case around dynamic content such as blog posts.

In other cases, search offers tremendous value, particularly if it’s high-quality content (e.g. white papers, e-books) that attract a lot of attention (aka in-bound links).

The key lesson is it’s important to tap into anything that can attract the spotlight and drive Website traffic.





#WhyIStayed Opens the Domestic Violence Conversation

By Mark Evans - September 19th, 2014

whyistayed-473x315Social media has been flooded the past month with a lot of differing conversations about domestic violence. These conversations have been fuelled by Ray Rice, the running back of the Baltimore Ravens who was arrested on aggravated assault.

This came on the heels on a video being released of both the altercation in the elevator between Rice and his girlfriend, and the haunting and disturbing aftermath.

It might be hard to believe but many users on social media were not overly sensitive to the situation, and some were even in defense of Rice and others like him.

Much of the conversation has been constructive and open communication, but nothing has had the emotional impact of the simple hashtag of “#WhyIStayed”. A hashtag used by victims of domestic violence to tell their story.

It quickly became one of the hottest trending topics, and easily the most compelling. It was human experience on display acting as a conduit for others to empathize and learn.

The hashtag was so immediate that its ascent is a true testament to the abilities of social media, and in this case, Twitter.

The hashtag was started by just one woman who shared her story in 140 characters. From there, it spread like wildfire and hasn’t stopped since. Twitter is the perfect arena for safe and open discussion on this issue.

Social media has been able to focus the spotlight on the victims, giving them a personal microphone and podium to talk about what they’ve endured and to help others who might be experiencing the same trauma.

It only took hours to explode but there’s hope that this hashtag and its insignificance will not only have staying power, but also the ability to change circumstances.

Truly, one of the more inspiring stories to follow in social media and a ray of light compared to some of the other conversation that many users have had to endure.

Social Media Shaming Backfires

By Mark Evans - September 17th, 2014

102005906-tip2.530x298Shaming by social media comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Rarely though is it a good idea to shame someone publicly, even if you are certain that they deserve it.

This school of thought extends to users shaming other users, users shaming brands and organizations and can even includes brands shaming customers or potential customers.

PYT, a popular burger restaurant in Philadelphia, had to learn this lesson the hard way when they posted to Facebook the receipt of Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy showing the $0.20 tip he left on a $60 meal.

The strategy backfired as users on Facebook thought the move by PYT was classless and some even spoke about their own experiences at the restaurant which might have led to the poor tip.

It’s hard to sympathize with the owner of PYT who admitted to posting the receipt. The restaurant left itself open to criticism and negativity by taking this route.

In fairness though the post did generate close to 3000 likes as of Tuesday, but overall the conversation was slanted towards disapproval and overall negativity.

A silver lining to this story is that the receipt is on eBay where bidding was up to $100,000. The owner has promised to share some of the money with his staff in lieu of a tip.

The lesson for all businesses is to respect your customers and think twice before taking any harsh feelings public via social media. You have to really consider if this is the best route to take, because many times it is just a can of worms waiting to be opened.

You also have to be honest with yourself before posting. In this case, did the owner ask the staff what happened? Did they consider that the tip was the result of bad service, food or maybe even something else.

This is an interesting story and an even more notable cautionary tale amongst the many for businesses in social media,

Talk Of The Scottish Referendum In Social Media

By Sheldon Levine - September 16th, 2014

The Scottish ReferendumThis Thursday is going to be a big day in the United Kingdom.

On Thursday the people of Scotland will be voting on referendum that would see Scotland breaking off from the United Kingdom and England to become it’s own country. Of course, this is a huge deal for everyone in the United Kingdom.

People have been talking about this referendum for almost two years, but now that it’s getting down to crunch time, we thought it would be interesting to see what people have been saying for the past month in social media around it.

Using MAP, our social media monitoring and analytics software, we searched through social channels for people using the referendum’s official hashtag, #IndyRef, and social conversations that contain both Scotland AND referendum for the past 30 days.

Our search came up with over 2.7 million results. Our search terms showed 9,403 blog posts, 36,161 online news articles, 8,160 forum postings and 2,673,318 tweets that have been talking about the upcoming referendum vote.

Sysomos MAP - Activity Summary

While, of course this has been part of a great deal of conversation, especially in the United Kingdom, for a few months, when we looked at these mentions spread out across the past month, we can really see the referendum talk ramp up in the past few days as the vote becomes eminent.

Sysomos MAP - Popularity Chart

As we’ve mentioned a few times already, this is news around the world, but especially in the United Kingdom. When we looked to see where conversations about the Scottish referendum were coming from, it wasn’t surprising that the majority of it came from the United Kingdom. 59.9% of all the conversation was actually coming from the United Kingdom. Interestingly enough, the two largest “colony” countries also seem to be keeping an eye on what’s going on with Australia accounting for 3.5% of the conversation and Canada with 3.4%.

Sysomos MAP - Country Distribution

However, many people around the world outside of the colonial countries are keeping an eye on what’s happening and also talking about it. A look at our geo location heat map of tweets that have surfaced in the past month that meet our search criteria shows that people around the globe are in fact interested in what’s going to happen on Thursday.

Sysomos MAP - Geo Location Heat Map of Tweets

Since we were already looking at Twitter, we decided to dig in and see what hashtags were being used most when people were tweeting about the Scottish referendum. When we look at the list below of the top 10 hashtags being used we can see that five of the 10 seem to be on the #VoteYes side, which is the side vying for Scotland’s independence. On the flip side of that, only two of the top 10 hashtags being used seem to support Scotland staying part of the United Kingdom; the #BetterTogether and #NoThanks hashtags.

Sysomos MAP - Top Hashtags on Twitter

For one last idea of which side of this referendum might be winning, we decided to compare the #VoteYes and #NoThanks hashtags side-by-side over the past month. When we did this, we found that #VoteYes hashtag has a commanding voice in the social space over #NoThanks with 87% of those conversations.

Sysomos MAP - Comparison of Overall Activity

There seems to be a lot of chatter pushing towards Scotland becoming it’s own country on Thursday, but social talk is only one thing. Only the votes will really tell.

For a much better (and funnier) explanation of what the Scottish referendum is about and what’s been happening, here’s a great (and hilarious) video from Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver:

What do you think is going to happen on Thursday?

Blogging Is Easy….With the Right Approach

By Mark Evans - September 15th, 2014

I always find it interesting to read articles about how to discover ideas for blog posts, how to stay organized, or how to drive distribution.

It’s helpful advice but it tends to over-complicate blogging, which has much to do with writing content on interesting topics.

It’s really that simple.

The problem, however, is people tend to over-think how and why they blog. In the process, it becomes a multi-faceted approach overwhelmed by strategy, tactics and planning.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Instead, blogging should be something that happens naturally or, at least, happens by simply creating a measured approach.

When a blog is rumbling along, the ideas and posts flow. There’s no writer’s block or a lack of things to write about. It just seems easy.

How does that happen?

In some respects, it’s a matter of not trying too hard to make things happen. Yes, that may sound simplistic or unstructured but blogging shouldn’t forced or a lot of work.

Here are some tips for making blogging easy and, hopefully fun:

1. Keep a close eye for ideas wherever you go and whatever you read. Think about how something could be an interesting blog post by developing your own take on something, or reacting to someone else’s ideas or thinking.

2.blogging Allowed yourself to be inspired rather than thinking about blogging as something that happens by coming up with a long list of editorial possibilities. Sometimes, blog posts idea come out of nowhere when you’re not working. And often, these are the best posts because they materialize when you least expect them.

3. Keep a notebook for ideas, even if they are half-baked. Sometimes, a blog post idea takes time to completely emerge so its essence needs to be captured right away. Another approach is writing quick drafts in WordPress that may feature a headline and/or a few sentences.

4. Write a variety of blog posts, rather than the same kind of posts day after day. It’s like visiting Baskin Robbins, rather than eating vanilla ice cream all the time. It’s a more interesting way to write, and a better way to serve your audience.

5. Think about your “customers” (aka readers), and their interests. What are kind of things that they would read to be engaged, entertained or engaged. What kind of things would encourage them to invest a few minutes of day on your blog?

6. Spend as much time on the headlines as the blog post copy. A bad headline will cut a blog post off at the knees.

7. Use images and links to spice things up and offer more information. There’s nothing like a wall of text to quickly discourage someone from reading a blog post.

8. Answer questions that your customers are asking. To discover the questions being asked, talk with your employees – people in customer service, sales, marketing, etc.

9. Blog when the iron is hot. If an idea pops up at 5 a.m. or midnight, it’s a good sign to starting writing. It may not be the best blog post but sometimes an idea just needs to come out.

10. Don’t look at blogging as work, otherwise it becomes tough slogging and a drag to do. Blogging should be interesting. It should inspire, spark someone’s curiosity or educate.

Putting aside the mechanics of blogging (e.g. creating an editorial calendar, holding formal brainstorming sessions, etc.), what do you think the keys are to a good blog?

More: For advice on how to blog faster, check out Brad Blackman’s post on how to use a checklist or template.

Build Awareness through Social Media

By Mark Evans - September 12th, 2014

Donations-590x250With the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and with the many causes that have flooded and leveraged social media to fundraise, it’s important that organizations ensure that they have raised awareness along with capital.

Social media offers the unique opportunity to know more about your charitable campaigns beyond the amount of dollars raised.

For instance, ALS’ wikipedia page views are up 18% since the Ice Bucket Challenge commenced. The Ice Bucket Challenge isn’t alone in this field, even though it has fully dominated most newsfeeds this summer.

Race for the Cure, The Big Dig, Charity Swear Box, amongst others have all raised funds successfully on social media. The hope beyond money is that the message of why these campaigns exist gets across to a large and engaged audience. Essentially, to go viral in some capacity.

Each campaign must monitor and measure their website analytics, where users are interacting with their website, Wikipedia and any other satellite websites where information of their cause is kept.

On top of all of this, you need to closely monitor social media activity. Every tweet, post and comment must be part of your measurement and determining success.

An interesting point to note is that the ALS Wikipedia page in other languages has generated an increase in traffic, proving that this sparked interest from around the world.

This is not to say that the money raised isn’t the real cause, but the real value lies in increasing awareness which can lead to ensuring spikes in fundraise don’t take nosedives in the future.

Social media has the power to get a message out to the large group of people and have it expand from there. This has to be part of the intention when crafting these online campaigns.

Once the Ice Bucket Challenge subsides, it’ll be fascinating to see how the next few campaigns handle the challenge. As well, will people have gotten the message of what the Ice Bucket Challenge was really about.