Social Media Fakeness: Facts You Should Know

We all know the power of social media, but there are many businesses out there handling social media the wrong way. So many people want to take the easy route with social media and buy their way to fame rather than legitimately earning followers. These fakers usually include comedians, actors, politicians, and musicians but can also include bloggers and startups.

When there are substantial increases in followers in a short amount of time usually means the that person has fake followers. This is big business for companies that actually sell followers to people. Did you know that the average price per follower is $0.01 but can be much higher? However, we all know that it is better to have quality over quantity when it comes to followers.

The infographic below by Who Is Hosting This? gives us great insights into  how to check up on social media fakeness. So what do you think, should you Fake It To Make It on social media? Should you buy your way to Social Media Fame?

social media fakers

What Marketers Can Learn from 2013′s Hottest Words

2013. Wow what a year. We had the pleasure of learning so many new words while viewing SO MANY selfies. Just the other day, selfies were being discussed on Facebook by a group of friends. But the selfies and their various forms is another blog in itself. As marketers we can certainly learn from all these new words and take action.

While everyone seems to love a good cronut, most of us could have survived without Miley Cyrus’ legendary twerking incident. While Miley certainly sparked controversy, we have to learn to sometimes do just that–take an unconventional approach to new ideas. Remember, #YOLO.

In our industry, we all attend conferences and networking events several times a year. This brings phubbing to mind. We have all seen that awkward guy standing around playing with his phone because he does’t know what to say or do in a social setting. Maybe he suffers from FOMO, however, this does remind us that we need to focus on mobile and social marketing. Even THAT GUY will click on ads!

So in 2014, let’s keep up with all the latest trends, words, and technologies; utilizing them to reach our consumers while maximizing engagement.

Let’s take a look at some at some of the hottest words of 2013 from this great infographic by OfferPop:

Hottest Words of 2013

Google Webmaster Tools Adds Exact Click Traffic Data

Have you logged into your Google Webmaster Tools account recently?! If not, you should because you now have new data available. Google has added exact click numbers into Webmaster Tools. This data is great for figuring out actual click volumes and clickthrough rates from the SERPs. Google Webmaster Tools has its limitations, but could be used as part of an overall analytics strategy. Of course, no data source is perfect but having as much as data as possible always helps. This is as close as we’re currently going to get to seeing solid traffic data for specific keywords.

Take a look at the screenshot example below. As you can see in the Clicks column this previously would only show estimations and ugly data like “<10″ but now you can actually see the exact number of clicks received for each keyword.

GWT Adds Exact CTR Screenshot

Here are a few quick ideas for integrating the data into your AuthorityLabs account:

  • Segment out top traffic keywords and track them separately so they are easier to quickly view and manage
  • Find low traffic, high clickthrough rate keywords and track those to make sure rankings are improved. Some may be long-tail keywords and those may be worth breaking out into additional segments for tracking.
  • Look for high impression, low CTR keywords and track where they rank. These may be skewed due to things like image search being counted as ranking positions by Google. It’s important to track these and make sure they rank in the organic SERPs. If they do not, this is a good opportunity to improve rankings.

Should Marketers Learn to Code in 2014?

marketersWhen Google ran its Grace Hopper doodle in early December, it got me thinking about an idea I’ve been kicking around for a few years now: Should I learn to code?

If you’re like me—a digital marketer and/or an entrepreneur—you may have asked yourself that same question. It seems learning to code is easier than ever with so many resources available online. But is it really worth the time and possible expense?

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no programmer or developer. I can wield some pretty good HTML (does that count?), and I’ve muddled my way through writing WordPress theme hooks in PHP, but to just sit down and create something from scratch? I’m nowhere near that level of ability.

I took a computer class in the eighth grade. All I can remember of it is the teacher forcing us to write sentences in binary code, and being bored out of my mind. Between that memory and some programming languages looking like intimidating strings of nonsensical letters, numbers and symbols to me, I never took the time to learn how to code.

It seems I’m not the only one considering whether it’s a good idea to learn now. In this Entrepreneur article, AJ Agrawal, co-founder of Greekpull, explains why he gave himself a crash course in coding. I think it makes a lot of sense for him, though, considering the types of sites he’s involved with. Knowing how to code allows him to work on his sites himself, saving time and money, and the headaches of trying to explain ideas to a developer who may not share Agrawal’s vision.

But marketers? Why would anyone in marketing need to learn how to code?

Improve Communication With Developers

How many times have you worked with a developer to create, redesign, or optimize a site for a client, only to become mired in days, weeks, possibly months of back and forth, trying to get the developer to understand the SEO benefits to certain structures and tactics while the developer tries to get you to understand complex website functionality? Frustrating, right?

Learning to code doesn’t necessarily mean you could jump in and do it yourself, although that’s not impossible if you have the time and inclination. But it will help you communicate with developers a little better, save a lot of time, and possibly save you both some headaches.

Master APIs

I’ve been following along lately as Annie Cushing has discussed meeting one of her goals for the year—learning SQL. Working as much as she does with both Excel and the Google Analytics API, learning SQL will be a boon to her skills, and her business. She explains:

One of the best reasons to learn SQL is to be able to use the immensely powerful QUERY function in Google Spreadsheets. You can query your data, then import it into an Excel spreadsheet using Analytics Canvas and even wed it to your analytics data.

So, although I don’t have to work with databases too much, I can use SQL to build out powerful reporting dashboards right into Excel.

And what happens when you use those API skills to create a kickass dashboard for a client? Google shares it, of course. So learning a programming language provides skills and Internet fame. What more could you want?!

In all seriousness, learning to code has now given Annie the ability to better serve her clients. In addition, she’s planning on creating training courses in 2014 to help others learn to wrangle data this way. Just think what you could do for your clients if you could build custom dashboards like this, and manipulate Google Analytics data to provide comprehensive reports that help your clients make better, more educated decisions. What is that worth to them? And in turn, what is it worth to your business?

Increase Revenue

This is the answer to that last question. If you’re able to offer your clients additional, improved, or more in-depth services, you’re putting yourself into a higher cost bracket. Sure, you can outsource services, and charge a premium to satisfy your margin, but if you can either perform those services yourself, or train someone in-house to do them, you can charge for that service, but keep more of it.

One caveat—this means really learning how to code, not just skimming a For Dummies book, and then winging it. If you can’t or don’t want to take the time to truly learn coding that can be helpful to your business and your clients, then leave it to the professional programmers and developers. Once you decide to charge for a service, you create an expectation that the service will be performed well. No client should have to settle for sub-standard work because you thought you’d dabble in a bit of code.

Does It Make Sense?

I started this by asking whether I should learn to code. I think the answer for me right now is no. I don’t build dashboards for clients. I don’t work with developers to build websites (yet). And while I’m always looking for ways to increase revenue, learning to code and taking on tasks that are removed from the services my company provides right now doesn’t make sense.

This isn’t to say it won’t be a good idea in the future. But before you spend the time, money, and sleep learning to code—or learning to do anything new related to your business—ask yourself whether it will offer a return on those investments. You can always make more money, but you’ll never get that time back, and with each passing year, our time becomes ever more precious.

Image Credit: Shutterstock alphaspirit

How to Cut Marketing Costs without Compromising Quality

budgetReaching your target audience and getting adequate exposure is an integral part of running a successful business. Even with the best products or services, sales can be minimal without an effective marketing campaign in place. While dishing out big money for advertising may not be a problem for large businesses, it just isn’t an option for many small to mid-sized companies.

Fortunately, there are several ways to get your name out there without spending a fortune. Here are some techniques for cutting marketing costs while still running a quality campaign.

Utilize Analytics

First, determine which marketing techniques are working and which are simply draining your time and budget. Google Analytics is the choice of many marketers because the basic version is free and it provides detailed performance metrics on a plethora of areas. This platform generates data about consumer demographics, behavior, traffic sources, mobile devices and several other aspects of marketing channels.

In turn, you can get a clear picture of how consumers are finding your business’s site and what’s leading to conversions. As information accumulates, it becomes easy to tell which strategies are leading to sales and which aren’t. When a particular channel is doing more harm than good, you can scrap it and slash marketing costs considerably.

Focus on Customer Retention

Sometimes businesses fall into the trap of constantly trying to reach new customers rather than concentrating on existing ones. Although increasing your presence is important, it can be deplete your marketing budget. According to Marketing Metrics, “it’s 50 percent easier to sell to existing customers than to brand new prospects.”

That’s why it’s smart to nurture relationships with individuals who have already made a purchase and let them know how much their business is appreciated. Whether it’s sending customers a “thank you” email or alerting them of new promotions, putting forth the effort to generate repeat business is advantageous and can reduce the need for costly marketing campaigns.

Opt for Digital Instead of Print

If you’re using any type of print materials like direct mail, brochures or catalogs, the costs can add up in a hurry. Besides the costs for materials and printing, sending them out through traditional mail means paying for stamps as well. Instead, it’s much cheaper and efficient to create PDF versions of brochures and catalogs. Rather than sending direct mail, creating an email newsletter is perfect for reaching a large volume of consumers quickly and with minimal costs.

Content Marketing

Establishing trust in your niche and proving industry knowledge are both important for increasing conversions. A simple way to prove your worth is by blogging and engaging in social media. These tactics are effective for two reasons. First, these are inbound techniques, where consumers essentially come to you. This means the vast majority have a pre-existing interest in your content. Second, it’s extremely affordable and costs little when done in house. As your audience continues to grow, you can develop a loyal following and a thriving community around your business for a small monetary investment.

Repurpose Content

Repurposing is a simple trick to expand the reach of your content. For example, let’s say you wrote a white paper about a certain topic. You could extract the core message of the white paper and write a blog post, create an email for newsletter subscribers and make a video for YouTube.

This doesn’t mean rehashing content so that it’s a duplicate or becomes watered down. It simply means spreading the same message across multiple channels so the maximum number of people can find it. Maybe a person hates reading lengthy blog posts, but enjoys quickly digesting content through a five-minute video. Repurposing content allows consumers to digest the content they’re interested in through a variety of mediums. Not only can this save money, but it optimizes your output and is great for improving branding.

Outsource Certain Tasks

In a world that’s becoming increasingly globalized, it’s never been easier to outsource. Let’s say you have some redundant tasks that are draining your time and resources, but don’t require any major skills to complete. Rather than paying an in-house employee or performing them yourself, outsourcing those tasks to someone in another state or country can boost productivity dramatically.

With sites like oDesk and Elance, you can quickly find a freelancer to handle it. Due to the healthy amount of competition out there, it’s often possible to get great deals. This should free up your time to concentrate on more pressing issues while slashing marketing expenses at the same time. In some cases, if the work is performed overseas, this can even help with reducing taxes as well.

With so many possibilities and technologies working in your favor, running an A+ marketing campaign doesn’t have to kill your budget. By being smart and capitalizing on available resources, you can generate new leads while converting first-time customers into repeat sales. Over time, this can increase profit margins and put your business in a position to thrive.

4 Essential Data Points for Viral Videos

A viral video is every marketer’s dream. In a spot that takes a matter of minutes, their message can be seen and shared by billions of people in literally seconds. There’s never been a more effective, faster or unstoppable way of advertising to the entire world than a viral video, which is what makes them notoriously hard to dissect. However, there are things we can learn from what makes them click. Here’s a look at some of the important data points for viral videos.

How Long Do People Spend Watching Viral Videos?

When analyzing viral videos, there are a few criteria to consider to measure their effectiveness. The cumulative time spent watching the video is one such tool. For example, the Harlem Shake meme was incredibly popular in the early part of 2013. By one set of calculations, people spent a total of 2,782 years watching various Harlem Shake videos on sites like YouTube. The brevity of the videos – roughly 30 seconds each – undoubtedly helped, as the very nature of viral content is that it appeals to a general public with attention spans that are being pulled in multiple directions. The shorter the video, the higher the likelihood that people will watch it.

How Are Popular Videos Shared?


Another factor that measures the success of viral videos is how often they are shared. Everyone from private uploaders to record industry executives pays very close attention to the popularity statistics on social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Every single ‘Like’, ‘Share’ or e-mail indicates a new potential customer, a new potential launching pad for a new round of sharing.

Going back to the Harlem Shake example, even other short advertisements, like those shown during the Super Bowl, couldn’t hold a candle to the popularity of the Harlem Shake: only 7.9 million views to the 24.8 million of a number of Harlem Shake videos, and average ‘Likes’ on YouTube of 20,500 against 127,000 for the Harlem Shake.

Choosing The Right Moment To Go Viral

Even when the video is released, and watched, becomes a key data point. Some videos (particularly the shorter ones) might be more popular during the workweek, as employees become bored and look online for distractions. Knowing when an audience is most likely to be on YouTube (or any other sharing platform) is key. It’s comparable to television networks scheduling popular programs for weekday evenings, when people get off work, and moving unpopular or failing programs to Friday night, when people are less likely to watch television.

Know Your Audience

A data point of importance to viral marketers is understanding the kinds of people who are most likely to share the content. Videos featuring cats, for example, are targeted to animal lovers, in the hope that they will share the video with other animal lovers in their social or professional circles.

However, sharing a cat video in a sports category, and assuming that it will go viral anyway, will get you nowhere. In a profile of a company using business intelligence to make viral video predictions, Forbes magazine points out that a large audience is not the same thing as an ideal demographic. Go for quality of audience rather than sheer size of it; you’ll get better website traffic, higher quality leads, and less wasted time and hassle on low-quality ones.

Conclusion

Viral videos are the holy grail of online marketing, but it’s not easy to predict what will go viral. Popular viral videos range from the Harlem Shake to “Charlie Bit My Finger” and there seems to be few connections between each one other than the stars aligning (ie, these four data points aligning). If you’re going for a viral video, keep these points in mind, and good luck! If you get lucky, you just might strike internet gold.