How To: Identify The Topics Your Target Audience Actually Wants To Talk About

If a post goes up on Twitter or Facebook, and no one is around to engage with it, does it still make a sound? Not if you’re trying to build up a brand it doesn’t.

Ad.ly Analytics

Whether your social media efforts are for personal or professional gain, they still require a certain amount of — well, effort. And, unless you’ve got a lab in your basement that manufactures that elusive commodity known as free time, you probably don’t have either the appetite or the ability to expend effort without receiving some sort of return. And, the best way to guarantee that your time investment nets a nice big return is to first identify the topics that are most likely to get your target audience talking about and — more importantly — sharing what you write.

To figure out which topics your target audience likes to talk about, you first need to identify who that target audience is. Ad.ly has a great analytics platform  that breaks down the geographic and demographic makeup of your Twitter audience, but since the platform is still in Beta, you need to give them your email and cross your fingers for an invite. While you’re waiting, Klout will help you identify who your social media efforts influence the most, and tell you which topics you talk the most influentially about. You can also use Export.ly to break down data like location, time zone and bio for your Twitter followers, and activity, engagement and comments for your Facebook fans. Plus, there’s always Facebook Insights to help you get demographic data like age, gender, language and the like for folks who like your posts and pages.

Once you’ve got a handle on who your followers are, the next piece of the puzzle is figuring out what they want to talk about. To do this, you could go the manual route — going back through some of the aforementioned tools, like Klout and Facebook Insights, to see which topics you’re considered most influential about and which posts get the most likes and shares. Similarly, you can also look at a site like Crowdbooster to see who your most influential followers are, and hone your topic choices based on their profiles. Crowdbooster also has a dashboard that shows you which of your Tweets got the most replies, which is a great indicator of which topics you should probably talk about more.

Tweetstats also has a similar feature, allowing you to hone in on your Tweet density, as well as a nifty ‘Tweet cloud’ that shows you which topics you already talk about all the time. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare, ViralHeat will makes a great companion to that sort of info, as it generates all sorts of charts illustrating what goes viral from your accounts and when. The plus side to ViralHeat is you can chart Facebook, Twitter, your blog and any other social media efforts you’re making all in one place, although it does take a monthly fee and a little bit of elbow grease to get it all set up. If you want to stick with the free tools, TweetEffect tells you which of your Tweets resulted in a gain or loss of followers, complete with a color coded timeline of your Twitter history. And, Facebook Insights will give you a similar sense of which days you generated a lot of likes and comments, and which days you didn’t, which you can then use to infer which posts got people talking and which were met with radio silence. For more guidance on that, check out this recent Mashable article detailing all the ways to make the most of the Insights platform — especially section 2, which goes into a lot of useful detail about content optimization.

 

Now that you’ve identified who your audience is, and what they like talking about, there’s only one thing left to do. Stop reading this post and get on with writing a few of your own — after you’ve shared this article with all your fans and followers first, of course.

Social Media ROI Presentation from SMASH at USC

On Thursday of last week, I had the opportunity to present at SMASH (Social Media Advanced Skills Huddle) at USC. What I was really excited most about was the fact that we had many of the Master in Human Behavior students in attendance at the conference and was great hearing their thoughts and insights around Social Media. I presented on Social Media ROI and while my presentation is below I thought I’d share a few highlights:

1. Create Goals and a Plan: I really do believe that before starting any campaigns and worrying about the tools to track ROI, you need to define what those goals are, what you’ll be measuring against, and have a plan to achieve those goals.

2. Value: When you set those goals, it’s also critical to understand what types of value Social Media Marketing is going to add to the overall campaign or your organization daily, monthly, or weekly. Some of those values can be increased engagement (e.g. mentions, blog comments, etc.), increased traffic, or increased brand recognition.

3. Platforms: While there are many Social Networks, Bookmarking, and news sites, it’s important to understand where your site should be represented on the Social Web. While the general Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are really important to have a presence in, if you participate in photography Flickr has a large community.

4. Use existing tools on Social Media Platforms: Facebook has their insights product for Facebook Page owners, StumbleUpon has domain stats (e.g. http://su.pr/domain/myspace.com), and Myspace has Artist Dashboards. These tools can take you a long way without having to pay for anything right off the bat, so, make sure to take full advantage of all the free tools you can.

5. Free and Paid Tools: Along that same note of taking advantage of all the free tools out there, bit.ly has good click tracking for URLs you tweet and I highly recommend to at least start there with tools. After that, it would be a good idea to start looking at tools like Alterian SM2, Radian6, Social Flow, CoTweet Enterprise, etc. that make the most sense for your organization.

Would love to get your thoughts around Social Media ROI and hear any tips you have for others out there that are learning and/or working on programs to track these metrics. Leave a comment and lets get the conversation rolling!

Facebook Like Button: Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as it gives the content that we and/or our users “like” more visibility in the Facebook stream. Along with that, it will likely greatly reduce the clutter that we see from around the web with share implementations, many publishers still have the facebook share and like button on their site. Time to clean up your UI!

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Social Design & Optimization: The Power of Network Effects

One of the most interesting things I’ve been studying over the last year has been the power social design and network effects. Even though many of us have used Social Media for quite sometime, it has typically been what I would call a disconnected and fragmented system of communication. Now, of course, I have to make a statement like that to catch your attention, but, really, is it that far off?

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Setting goals and executing with social media marketing

While at SXSW, Chris Winfield and I had our presentation on “Social media marketing for your business.” My biggest focus for the presentation was to help people realize the power of creating a plan, setting goals, and executing them. Overall, creating a marketing plan or strategy should not just involve trying to get some traffic or a few links. There needs to be an end result that helps the business bottom line, like getting new users.

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foursquare: The arrival of the location based business "game"

I’ve been on this huge kick of creating visibility for products online lately. All I can think about is how to gain visibility for an online brand. Along with that, I’ve been really interested in two other things: Local and Location Aware applications. I’ve had my eye on Yelp for a bit, but even more so lately as the mobile market is growing. But, even more than Yelp, I’m a huge fan of foursquare since I jumped on the bandwagon back at SXSW. Something I really like is that, like any smart business, they are adapting the product to the market and use. They’ve created a product that included Social Game features and recently launched foursquare everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yelp adding checkins could totally change the face of the game and knock foursquare out of the Mayor spot, so-to-speak (I had to do it!).

So, that all said, it’s important to note, that I wanted to take a look at foursquare from a perspective outside what everyone else is talking about with how cool the app is, but rather, talk about how it is great for marketing/monetization opportunities going forward.

1. Building Social Capital with Mayorship & Badges

As I mentioned opening this up, they added social gaming to the local mix and understand that social capital is an asset that is ever so important in todays online world. With the creation of Mayors and Badges, it creates an opportunity for individuals obtain a larger amount of social capital within their local cities/neighborhoods.

As a local business owner, wouldn’t you want to know who the people are that frequent your business and have an online presence. I know I would if I was a local business owner, I’d want to know who the people are that have the ability to talk up my business.

We’ve all heard Tara Hunt talk about The Whuffie Factor, and, it’s all very true, social capital is very important now and will continue to be moving forward. I think as local businesses understand that, they will start figuring out ways to market via channels like foursquare. Furthermore, smart local marketers will start figuring out ways to leverage foursquare when working with clients. Also, think about all the chain restaurants that have the ability to build this as a nationwide local targeted marketing initiative as more and more users adopt this.

2. Local Advertising with a real revenue model

I’m a marketer and I look for revenue models as a sign of a product taking that next step into the major leagues. I see foursquare having a major opportunity to create sponsored events, sponsored or featured locations, etc.

Now, before you say, “Why would they do that! Businesses paying to be listed is not authentic!” Think about it, when banners on the web came out, people threw up their arms, when Google Adwords came out, people yelled from rooftops, and when ad.ly (one of my fav. startups, btw) came out, people were outraged via Twitter…do you see a pattern??

It is inevitable for sponsored and premium/featured listings to be highlighted within the content that we see on a daily basis. Saying that it is evil and not right, is thinking without logic. Businesses can not live on without REAL revenue models. Here is how I could see something like this playout:

3. The ego is more important than you think

I’ll bring up Mayors and Badges for the second time in this post because it is worth the mention again. I think something we have failed to see in most Social Media products is the ability to touch the human Id and ego boosting. While we choose to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, it is the base for all human activity. When we feel better about ourselves through any sort of ego-stroking, we tend to do that activity more: championships and trophies in sports, awards in entertainment, etc. Gaming companies do a great job of this, and you have to give credit to Zynga for recognizing this and on their platform with Mafia Wars and Farmville:

But, look at other Social Media platforms, Digg removed it’s top diggers list years ago because they didn’t want the users having more power than the product. Twitter has yet to introduce any sort of ego-boosting platform, (outside of the retweeting functionality), and Facebook really doesn’t have any way of producing this either at this moment. But, introduce foursquare in the mix and you’ve got a real tool for ever so important ego-stroking that we all choose to ignore. Becoming a mayor makes people feel self important, it provides a feeling of self worth. We shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing, it’s human nature for christ’s sake.

Whenever I tell people about foursquare, the first I find friends get excited about: becoming a mayor or getting badges.

4. Capturing local search results:

Being that I’m someone that understands SEO and the search game, I’m always going to look at opportunities to drive traffic. Now, while Yelp does have this market pretty cornered, as they have tons of authority in the local/review market, within a short period, I’ve seen foursquare locations show up top 10 and even top 5 in many situations for local results:

5. Customer Service has never been more important!

Consumers are now subconsciously advocating companies or they are talking about their complete dissatisfaction for another company. Remember, more than 50% of people will make a purchase or purchasing decision based on the reviews of that brand. If I see someone checkin via foursquare is talking about how horrible a location is, I’m probably not going to want to check it out. At the same time, if people really enjoyed their experience, it will make me add it as a to-do item in Foursquare.

This basically is the flip-side to what I talked about when it came to local/in-stream advertising. Customer Service is ever so important, because, even if you are paying for prime placement and top dollar for sponsorships, you can’t fake the overall customer experience.

The truth is, without even knowing it, consumers are becoming what I’ve dubbed: “Subconscious Advocates.” Consumers are revolutionizing the way they tout the brands, restaurants and shops that they love via the tips they leave or the shouts they make when they check-in to a location. Because of this, businesses need to create
opportunities to “wow” these customers and influencers daily, otherwise, I believe they will start to feel it as the market starts to adopt these services more and more.

What do you of the location aware model and/or foursquare? Where do you think it will end up or how will it play out?

Keep the conversation going on twitter, follow me: @tonyadam!

Twitter taking the Social out of Social Discovery

The most trending topic on twitter right now as I am writing this post is #fixreplies. It is shocking to me that after weeks of proclaiming that twitter is all about social discovery, we see the biggest Bonehead Decision that twitter could have made. There are posts from around the industry talking about Twitter putting a Muzzle on your friends.

Originally, by default, twitter would not show you the @replies sent to other users until you went in and made the change under Settings -> Notices. Apparently, this caused confusion to many people, despite the help article explaining replies settings to users.

Where we use to see this:

We now see this!

<img class="alignnone" title="new replies" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2186/3527229565_f240b8efd5 webpage.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”187″ />

What I am wondering is how they came to this decision?! Isn’t the point of Social Discovery to discover people that share the same friends or interests that you do. Turning this feature off only negates that experience.

Personally, I would like to know how many users have made the change in their settings to receive all @ replies. Not to mention, but, I thought that’s what Direct Messages were for, to keep the conversation personal. Twitter and Social Media is about conversations and by putting this “muzzle” on as @marshallk mentioned, we are losing out on that conversation and furthermore, we are witnessing Twitter taking the Social out of Social Discovery.

Update: Since posting their note about the “small settings update,” Twitter has posted this in response to all the feedback that they apparently didn’t realize how important the social discovery aspects were to the community.

Update #2: Since this mornings chaos and feedback note Biz mentions that they have learned a lot and are working on changes to the replies functionality.

Updating Permalinks when moving to WordPress 2.5

Tonight I updated WordPress from WordPress 2.0.2 to WordPress 2.5 and ran into some issues with permanlinks. Turns out that Yahoo! Web Hosting does not allow you to do Permalinks the standard way with WordPress and you have to use the Yahoo! Plugin for this.

Essentially what happened was that standard permalinks in WordPress go 404 and Yahoo! Permalinks Plugin continuously re-directs with the following error “The page isn’t redirecting properly.”

So, here is what I did to get Permalinks working:

1. Active the Yahoo! Permalink Plugin

2. Download the Disable Canonical Redirects Plugin. (which i probably should have had installed a while ago)

3. Upload the file to your wp-content/plugins folder

4. Activate the Plugin from your Plugins Menu

5. Customize your Permalinks!

Done, done and done! All my permalinks issues were resolved! Just a reminder, this is a Yahoo! Web Hosting issue and not a WordPress 2.5 issue.

Social Media – Part 1: Being Active in your Community and Answering Questions

I’ve wanted to start writing more about Social Media and I think the best way to start would be to talk abut what I love doing, and that is building my own personal brand and how it applies to an organization as well.

I have always considered it to be tremendously important in getting my name out there whenever possible, it has been absolutely crucial to my career development. This approach also really applies to companies and organizations as well. How you represent yourself online through Social Media can play a very important role in how your business is perceived by many. Building an online brand as a whole might be a bit more complex than building your own brand. But, when it comes to the aspects of Social Media though, more specifically thought leadership, it is definitely not as complex.

You can do this quite simply by doing the following:

Answering questions online: LinkedIn and Yahoo! Answers can be a great place to get some Brand Awareness by showing off some of your knowledge and expertise with a community. Branded usernames and/or individuals representing your brand through these services also builds a trust in your organizations ability to follow through on the products/services offered.

Comment, Comment, Comment: Commenting on Blog posts by sharing feedback and or getting involved in the community shows a real passion about the topics at hand. Especially in communities like technology/web/internet, you will gain a massive amount of respect if you can hold your own.

Be active on your own blog:
So, you wrote a blog, people are getting to it, linking to it, and commenting on it…you’re done right? WRONG! There is still another step to this, staying active and responding to your comments shows that you care about the community following you. The Mozzers over at SEOMoz do a great job of staying active on their own blog, and same with Aaron Wall of SEOBook.

Ever heard of “Twitter”, if not, you better!:
Microblogging using sites like twitter is an awesome way to reach users and amazingly enough, control any negativity. Although it is widely used for sending out updates and such, using the “track” feature, you can find out what people are saying about your brand. Steve Ganz at LinkedIn does this CONSTANTLY and I am always watching him follow up with complaints, issues, etc. and it just makes me feel good knowing that some people really “get it.” As a matter of fact, a blog post recently talked about how LinkedIn Hits the Mark.

All of the above items will help you build brand awareness and control the reputation of your brand.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you are using this or other things to either build your personal brand or corporate brand through the use of similar strategies.

5 Quick Viral and Referral Marketing Tips

Many companies completely forget to include the following viral strategies or they are simply looked over. The sad truth is that these strategies are almost always EXTREMELY simple to implement.

1. Add to Favorites: One of the easiest tools and effective tools for getting people to come back to your website. There are typically pre-written scripts or scripts easy enough to implement. A must have to start with…

2. Recommend / Email to a friend: Not allowing your customer a route sending your website off to his friends or co-workers could lead to a major amount of lost opportunities. Make sure that you have some form on allowing customers to recommend, and definitely make sure it is EASY.

3. Add to Del.icio.us: Although this is not as easy as the first two, with today’s age of social media and how much it is used, it is crucial to getting recurring site traffic, almost as much so as “Add to Favorites.”

4. Share on Facebook: Customers and site user’s are spending more and more time on Facebook and giving them the ability to share stories, articles, landing page’s, etc. on their profile can get you some major traffic and conversion.

5. Social Media Madness: Other than the above listed items, social media is your friend. If you are a blog or publisher network, then add items like “digg this” or “submit to netscape” and even things like google bookmarks.

Giving your customers and/or users an opportunity to pass the word along and keep coming back to your site can only be an advantage to your overall success. Obviously you don’t want to over do it, with links ALL over the place and scattered that it would drive someone insane. Just make sure that you are giving people the opportunity to spread the word.

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