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Ayelet Golz

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part Three

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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You’re now at the third and final stage of our influencer outreach marketing series. Remember, influencer marketing is the practice of building relationships and collaborating with influencers in order to increase brand awareness, build a community, and/or expand your network.

If you’ve missed the first two posts, you’ll want to catch up with those before continuing on to the last stage here. The first post will help you understand why influencer marketing is so important, what it can do for your brand, and how you get started. The second post will walk you through how to keep your focus on the right influencers and how to authentically engage with influencers in a way that will lead to more success when you are ready to send over a pitch. And speaking of sending over pitches, that’s where I’ll pick up this part of the series. Read More

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part Two

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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In our series about working with influencers in authentic and meaningful ways, we’re now moving into Step 2 through 5 in this post. If you’ve come to this post before reading the first one on why you should collaborate with influencers and how to start your research, you can check it out here. For those keeping track at home, here are all the steps of the series: Read More

7 Steps to Authentic Influencer Marketing, Part One

By | Outreach, Social Media, Web Marketing | 2 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Think back to your last big purchase, let’s say a new oven.

You probably started out your search getting to know your options and narrowing down what features you wanted in the item you purchased (4 electric burners with a timer and a broil setting). Then, you tried to find out which oven was rated best for the features that were most important to you and was within your price range (your search might have taken you to Home Depot or Lowe’s to cost compare).

Somewhere between researching the item and actually buying it, you probably got input from friends, family, coworkers, online forums, or online reviews. Feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of info out there, you turned to the people or places you knew you could trust for unbiased reviews or feedback. You might have asked, is this brand better than another? Why does this one cost $200 more? Is that extra feature worth it? What oven do you have? Do you love it? Why?

We look for others’ feedback to validate our thoughts and help guide us in making the best decision or confirm that we made the right choice. Our desire to get others’ feedback before we make a purchase is what makes influencer outreach marketing so powerful, and therefore, important to many marketers. Read More

Quest-Post

Conversion Rate Isn’t Everything in Digital Marketing

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | 5 Comments

I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve sat in where it’s immediately obvious that the only thing the client cares about is leads, conversions, or sales. Hey, I get that. They want to improve their business. We want to help them build a better business. We’re on the same page there.

But focusing on conversions – and conversions alone – isn’t helping a business get any better for a few reasons. First, focusing on the number of conversions ignores a lot of the work that goes into setting the stage for those conversions, drawing people to the brand. Like integrated marketing. Using all the channels together to keep your strategy in sync and make sure the right people are becoming aware of you. These efforts aren’t as easy to express as conversions, but they are worthwhile. Without these efforts, conversion rate suffers… a lot.

diasppointed turtle

Second, the conversion-only focus means you (or more likely your staff, under pressure to perform for conversions alone) neglect your higher level goals (you know, the ones that move you toward a better business and not just a better income). Again, those higher level goals might not come wrapped up in one simple number, which can be presented to superiors. However, they are just as important to moving your business forward.

If we had only focused on how many conversions (in this case, how many clients we signed) we received from our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities and neglected to look at our integrated marketing efforts and all they accomplished along the way, we would have felt like we failed.

If we only looked at new client conversions alone, we would be missing the more important, bigger picture of everything we achieved. When we took the time to analyze our efforts, we realized we accomplished so much more than signing on new clients. And we saw our success in a whole lot of different places. Read on for our very own study on measuring integrated marketing efforts.

The What, Why, & How of Our Community Building Guide

The What

Over 10 months ago, we released our Community Building Guide. We affectionately nicknamed this 147-page guide Arthur. The guide itself is an ode to why and how to build communities online.

The Why

Arthur sprang up out of our need to talk about the benefits of online community building to anyone who would listen. No, really, we are passionate about building communities (it worked so well for us) and we wanted to share this love with the world (it can work well for others, too).

In addition to our desire to share our community-building knowledge with the world, we had goals for the company. As a brand, we wanted to continue to earn and enhance our reputation for thought leadership in our community and the industry it serves. As a benchmark for that, we set the goal of 8,000 downloads of the guide by the end of 2014. We also set a business goal of increasing leads. We had no idea that launching this guide would do so much more than that.

The How

Here’s the first twist in measuring the results of a single piece of content when you’re Mack Web. We’re strong proponents of integrated marketing so nothing exists in a vacuum. We know our goals are better met if we put all available outreach channels to their best use.

Now to go back to Arthur specifically: take a look at all of our community building guide efforts in visual form first so you can be truly and properly overwhelmed. Then, we’ll get into the bits & pieces.

all the things for the guide

Pre-Guide Release

Here’s everything we did before the guide was even released:

  • We created a signup page for people if they wanted to get the guide right when it came out.  We used Launchrock to collect the email addresses and we highly recommend it.
  • We organized a Google+ Hangout with some excellent community building panelists in our industry two weeks prior to the guide’s launch.
  • We made five videos to promote the guide before it came out and to build some momentum. The videos provided lots of good tidbits about building community. We structured them as bite-sized teasers to the guide to inform and inspire people thinking about building online communities.
  • We sent out six pre-launch emails that shared value with our community and were related to our other efforts.
  • We wrote seven blog posts related to the guide and efforts surrounding it.
  • On social media, we made sure everyone and their brother knew that we had a guide coming out. And then we told everyone again.
During Release

And here’s what we did (mostly on the day of the release):

  • We released news about the guide on the blog, on our site, and via email to those who had signed up ahead of time and those already on our email list.
  • We contacted friends and peers in the industry to help spread the word about the release.
  • We promoted the guide on social media and to our community.
  • We celebrated and worked together that morning (our war room was filled to the brim with fruit, breakfast burritos, other delights, and snacks). This was a very important part of our launch.
Post-Guide Release

We didn’t leave it at that – here’s what we’ve done since the guide was released:

  • We asked for feedback about the guide via email and on social media.
  • Mack did a webinar based on the guide .
  • Mack spoke at WistiaFest and State of Search about the video series we did for Arthur.
  • Mack also wrote on Moz about 5 strategic steps to big content, stemming from our experience with the community building guide.
  • We promoted these spawn of Arthur via email, on the blog, and on social media.
  • And we’ve got a secret project in the works related to Arthur. No, you can’t bribe us for more information with gummy bears. We’ve got morals, people.

Now that you’ve got a bit of background about the tactics we used, you’ve probably reached two conclusions. First, we must have gotten a million new customers. Second, figuring out how many of those millions was a direct result of the guide would be pretty much impossible. Well, you’re right about the second one (coming up soon). As for the first conclusion… yeah, not so much.

The Results of Arthur Alone

Conversions

We can count the number of conversions of new clients we received off of our guide on one finger. Approximately 3 months after Arthur launched, we signed a client because they had read our guide.

You read that right. One. Single. Client. Un cliente. Ein Client. Great result for all that work, right?

But here’s where I’m going to blow your mind. That’s only an embarrassing result if all we cared about was the conversion rate of clients. Lucky for us (and our egos), we had a ton of other results from this guide that we’re proud of.

Inbound Links

The guide received 373 total inbound links since it launched in October 2013. Influential sites like Moz, Inbound, Conductor, and Wistia all linked to the guide, substantially increasing its reach. Most of those links were thanks to friendships we had made in the industry waaaaaayyyyyyy before the guide was even a twinkle in the Mack Web team’s collective eye. That’s the kind of groundwork that’s hard to measure and hard to do, but gives indisputable value.

And then, because the guide was full of so much good stuff, it earned even more links all by itself. That’s value we can’t even begin to attach a number to.

Guide Downloads & Pre-Guide Signups

Before the guide was launched, we had 350 signups from people who wanted to receive word when the guide launched. Within 30 days of launch, we had 1,250 downloads. As of July 2014, we’d reached  more than 5,500 guide downloads (just 9 months). We’re well on our way to reach 8,000 downloads by December 31st (I wouldn’t bet against us if I were you).

The number of downloads is a valuable metric for us. Each time a person downloads our guide and reads it, that’s one chance for us to convince someone of the value in building an online community. And once they’re convinced of that value, they often share the guide with their friends,  which expands the reach of our brand. As a bonus, the social proof offered by their willingness to share the guide builds trust in our brand as people come to know us as the folks who know what they’re talking about in terms of building communities.

The Results of Arthur as an Integrated Marketing Campaign

Those results above are just the ones directly related to the guide. We look at the community building guide as just one part of our march towards inevitable integrated and digital marketing greatness. And in the time since launching Arthur, we’ve made great strides forward.

The Full Story on Conversions

Let me go back real quick to the conversion. The best part about signing on a client because of the guide was that the client fully understood who we were and the value we bring to the table. Our guide did all of the work and we are now basking in the glory of a client who is in sync with our community building passion.

Leads

In March 2013, right around when we started the earliest pre-launch promotion efforts for Arthur, we were averaging 3-5 leads/month. Arthur was launched in October 2013. As of July 2014, we’re averaging approximately 20-25 leads/month. Conservatively speaking, that’s a 300% increase in leads.

arthur leads pre and post guide

Email Marketing

Our email list increased by 50% year over year (2012 vs. 2013). Once the community building guide was released, we started to see all kinds of organic email subscriptions.

Social Media & Community Building

Conversation, Amplification, & Applause

We’ve made solid growth on social media in our amplification, conversation, and follower count.

total applause amplification conversation fans_pre and post guide

Sessions & Pageviews from Social Media Referral Traffic

I like looking at how Arthur affected social media referral traffic. We saw awesome growth in our referral traffic sessions (what Google Analytics now calls visits) and pageviews from Twitter.

pageview referrals from Twitter

session referrals twitter

The other social channels also performed really well.

linkedin slideshare youtube referral sessions

Speaking & Blogging Gigs

In the 3 months after the launch of the guide, Mack was invited to speak at SearchFest and Conductor’s C3 conference. The guide helped give Mack a little bit of extra awesomeness (like she needs it).

mack

Site Traffic

New vs. Returning Visits

These metrics show us that not only are more people who’ve never heard of us coming to our site, but also that people who have heard about us are coming back for more.

new and returning visitors

Organic Search Traffic

We saw a 145% increase in organic search traffic in the 3 months after the guide launch (compared to the 3 months before the launch). And at the time of the launch, that meant more people were coming to our site than ever before. Woo hoo!

organic search traffic change 3 months pre and post arthur

Session (or Visit) Duration & Total Sessions

Session duration increased 8% (comparing 9 months pre- and post-Arthur) and we had 55% more sessions after the guide was launched (same time period). So not only are we getting more traffic to our site, but now they’re staying longer, too.

total sessions pre and post arthur updated

The Mitigating Factors

Are you thoroughly and undeniably impressed? All of that was a huge boost to our presence on the web, the awareness of our brand, and the respect in which our knowledge is held. We also want to acknowledge that a) just because we only signed one client directly from Arthur doesn’t mean we didn’t sign other clients in the intervening months and b) we are insanely selective about our clients, which is why more of those leads haven’t turned into clients.

And yet, Arthur was not the impetus for all those results. Because as the guide launched and lived on, we did not sit idle.

We launched a new website that more effectively communicated what we actually did. We started to get more qualified leads for our business. We became more strategic about our blog posts.

And as is fitting in a company that believes in building communities, we made more connections on social media and offline. We experimented with our email marketing and email subscription efforts. Mack keeps getting more speaking and blogging opportunities. Our processes are becoming tighter and even more integrated. We’ve found more llama images than when we wrote the guide. Sure, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but our team is in better shape than ever.

All of which is to say that, though Arthur undoubtedly played a huge role in the results of the year here at Mack Web, we don’t actually know how huge that role was (because of all the things). Which leads to one natural conclusion.

My Conclusion: Measuring the Effects of Truly Integrated Marketing is Hard

When you do a lot of things, it isn’t always clear what results can be attributed to what action. Arthur achieved a lot, but so did all our other integrated marketing efforts in the year. Because all these efforts played off each other as well, the data becomes even more entangled, harder to attribute, and skewed.

The important thing is that we’re reaching our goals, and not just with Arthur. With everything we do now, have done in the past, and will do in the future.

The Solution

If I told you I had the solution right now on how to best measure integrated marketing efforts, you’d probably give me a million bucks. Sorry, I have no such thing.

However, here are a few things that I advise you to remember and remind your clients or superiors along the way:

1. Assign specific KPIS to your goals, meaning all goals, not just business goals.

Conversion rate will only get you so far (and mainly it just works to make marketing look like a total loser. Which it isn’t. Anyone tells you otherwise, you send them to us. We’ll straighten them out.)

Think through key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics thoroughly, and take baseline measurements before you start your efforts. It’ll make your life infinitely easier in the long run, but it still won’t make it a cakewalk (mmm, cake).

2. Look at the long-term data.

So what if your campaign only lasted 3 months? You should still look at year over year data because it gives you an excellent baseline to show how much progress you’re making. Sure, it’s difficult to directly attribute specific successes to specific campaigns, but long-term data makes the results of all your efforts wonderfully obvious.

3. Educate your clients/higher ups on the the importance of meaningful goals (beyond conversion rate).

Remind them you can’t increase conversions without increasing brand awareness, establishing an online and social media presence, and building community.  Integrated marketing efforts are more than just stepping stones to more sales or leads. The broad-reaching and foundational goals they achieve – such as brand awareness and online community – are both vital to higher conversion rates for your digital marketing and valuable in their own right.

Questions, comments, suggestions, congratulations? We’ll accept all of those things (but especially the latter) in the comments below.

Hashtags in Social Media Marketing: Ally or Enemy?

By | Social Media | No Comments

Part I

A Fellowship is Formed

“Umph.”

This sound, the vocal equivalent of eye rolling, is uttered every now and then by Ayelet, our Community and Social Media Strategist. And it can only mean one thing.

It’s hashtag time.

Youre it_hashtag

Hashtags in social media marketing cause certain grief for Ayelet and others who manage online communities (more on that in a bit). And as the one with the pleasure of being her officemate, I have long played the role of counselor during these trying times.

Until the day when everything changed. Rather than offering commiseration and gummy bunnies (oh yes, they’re real), I engaged in a spontaneous mini-brainstorming session in which we worked through the pain together. What we discovered was that I actually enjoy the process and associated wordplay, and Ayelet prefers the metrics and measurement side of things. And so a partnership was formed. (Although I prefer to call it a fellowship, but alas no ring of power is involved. Yet.)

Gandalf_2fly2die

And as is the Mack Web fashion, we developed a process for approaching this elusive campaign asset, harnessing its power and using it for good instead of evil. We’re still testing and measuring and all that jazz, but as is our calling, we aspire to share with you some tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way. And since this is a true partnership, we even joined forces to bring you this post.

The Hashtag: A History (sorta)

The # has an involved and, at times, a somewhat unverifiable history. Much like Lord of the Ring’s Gandalf, this symbol goes by many names: pound, sharp, space (for you copy editors) and even the etymologically-challenged octothorpe.

Symbol

Today social media has adopted this multi-purpose symbol and its use has exploded. Now most commonly referred to as a “hashtag,” the # is used before words or groups of words on a variety of social platforms (such as Twitter, Instagram, and Google+). What makes hashtags really special? They are searchable, clickable, and measurable.

As this triple threat has grown in popularity, so have the numerous ways social sharers choose to utilize the hashtag in their tweets, pins and posts. Some are clever and strategic and worthy of our praise, while others make community managers want to rip those four little lines apart limb from limb, or slash from slash, or whatever.

On that note, let me turn things over to my “umph”-grunting Fellowshipper Ayelet, who is well-known in these parts as our social media & community savant. And I do believe she has something to say on this subject. But never fear – I’ll be back next week with our follow-up post Hashtags: A How-To for Success. Take it away, Ayelet.

Hashtags as Your Ally

Hi everyone! So, #YOLO and #SorryNotSorry aside, hashtags honestly can be a valuable tool in your social media campaigns. Hashtags can do a lot to further your strategies and help you connect with the people you want to build relationships with. In fact, there are a number of benefits to using hashtags.

They Boost Searches on Social Media & Help with Brand Recognition

The number one reason to use hashtags is because they can be used to file and find specific topics that otherwise would be hard to group together on social media. This works in two ways. First, when someone searches for a specific hashtag, all of the conversations and updates that contain that hashtag will show up in the search results. Second, when someone clicks on the hashtag within her news feed, it shows all the conversations that are using that hashtag. Both ways of searching make it easy to group discussions that relate to that hashtag for the person who is interested in it.

Using a hashtag allows you to reach people beyond your current followers but who still share in your interests, which increases your brand’s recognition and awareness among a new, awesome audience.

They Unify an Event or Campaign

Conferences use hashtags to keep track of what’s being said during the conference (often in live tweeting form) and to unify the messages that they’re sending out. When you see a conference hashtag that you know about or are interested in and you see that hashtag used either by the organizer or an excited attendee, you immediately identify with that hashtag and pay closer attention to see what’s new.

For example, MozCon happened recently so my news feed was bombarded with all the great information people were learning at the conference. Because I know it’s an awesome conference, I paid closer attention to the hashtag #mozcon on Twitter and kept up with all the good learning to be had from the conference.

#mozcon posts

Hashtags also make contests possible on social networks where contests are hard to run otherwise. For example, Facebook allows handy third-party apps to manage contests on its network. However, Twitter and Instagram don’t have that capability. So people use hashtags on those platforms to group contest entries together (and to make life as an online contest manager that much easier).

Also, Twitter chats (where people get together to discuss topics through a Q&A-style format on Twitter) would be impossible to do without them – people wouldn’t be able to understand the purpose of the Twitter chat, find the conversation, follow along, or participate in it without hashtags.

hashtag of #cmgrchat Twitter chat

Hashtags also can be used across social networks (with varying degrees of success), which can unify a campaign that runs on different social networks and encourage more interaction. A fan might use the hashtag not just on one network, but maybe two or three of her favorite social networks (especially if she has a strong motivation to do so, like a contest). This would spread your campaign beyond just one platform and let people take the campaign to the social networks where they already interact.

They Help Build a Sense of Community

As I mentioned with the conference example above, when you see news about a conference you’re going to, you pay closer attention. That’s because you’re part of the conference community. Hashtags help bring that community closer on certain social networks by identifying potential friends you haven’t yet met.

Similarly, as we’ve seen with news events around the world, hashtags support activism and knowledge about current events. When you see a hashtag related to a world event popping up more and more in your news feed, you start to wonder what’s going on and seek out additional information about the situation. That is likely to lead to expanding your community to include new people who are equally concerned about the issue. You may even take action on what you learn from each other to help make the situation better.

They Increase Engagement on Social Media

Research shows that hashtags improve engagement on social media (well, only on certain social networks that is). Buffer wrote the book on the science of hashtags, but we can give you a summary of their findings:

  • Tweets with hashtags are more likely to be retweeted.
  • Posts on Instagram with 11+ hashtags (seriously?! I don’t think I even know 11 hashtags) get more interactions.
  • Posts on Facebook that didn’t have a hashtag did better than posts that did (this is not unusual because Facebook predates the use of hashtags and users have been unwilling to adopt them).

Facebook

They Can Be Used as a Trending Tool

You know in high school, when all the cool kids showed up to school wearing striped shirts and pretty soon everyone was wearing striped shirts? If a high school equivalent of Twitter were around, you could monitor the hashtag #stripedshirtsrock (or some such hashtag) and be in the know before the mainstream. Similarly, using a real-time, trending hashtag that’s relevant to your brand could earn you some major wins on social media.

You also can look at trending hashtags as a pattern to help influence and boost future campaigns of yours. For example, if you’re a marketer for a football jersey company, you would want to monitor the hashtags being used around certain teams and then incorporate those hashtags into your social media updates for more exposure.

The screenshot below shows what trending hashtags look like on Twitter (you can find them to the left-hand side of your news feed). The trends change based on what your peers are saying or what you’re interested in (not everyone cares about Denver or Colorado as much as we do since we live here). There are lots of hashtag trending tools  if you’re interested in looking beyond your own trends.

trending twitter hashtags

Hashtags as Your Enemy

But as beneficial as hashtags can be, there also is a sinister side to them. It’s the side that can derail your campaign or strategy the moment you let that hashtag loose. Check yourself to make sure that you’re not falling into any of these hashtag traps.

Are you focusing too much on the wit of your hashtag rather than what it’s supposed to accomplish?

You’re going to run into serious issues if you focus way too much on the hashtag and way too little on your actual strategy. Goals should always come first, always. Remember why you’re using a hashtag  and what that hashtag is doing for your campaign. Make sure that the hashtag complements and furthers your goals. An awesome hashtag is gold, but a solid strategy is priceless. (This point is so vital that we’re going to repeat it again very soon.)

TIP: Beware of premature brainstorming. Don’t start the brainstorming process too soon. Make sure your critical campaign assets (landing page copy, product name or title, etc.) have been developed before you start the wordplay.

Are you hijacking the traffic of a trending hashtag?

Many companies get excited about the conversations that happen on social media when breaking news hits. As it unfolds on social media, the surge in activity and promise of impressions can easily lure companies into jumping on the bandwagon, leaving all of their common sense behind. If you see a trending hashtag and want the extra boost it may give you, think very carefully about it. It’ll work for some situations, but not for all.

klm world cup tweet

For example, during the World Cup, the #NEDMEX was trending and KLM Airlines tweeted the above after the Netherlands beat Mexico. Needless to say, Mexico’s fans did not take kindly to it and there was a huge uproar. The tweet was deleted and you can bet someone got a reprimand… or is looking for a new job.

It’s also common that companies try to ride on the coattails of weather-related and/or sports hashtags and this has backfired dramatically on many brands. Let’s say you’re a sock company and the trending hashtag is about a hurricane. Whatever you do, do not hijack a hurricane hashtag and tweet about how now is a great time to buy new socks because the ones you used to have are being washed away. By doing so, you would be taking advantage of a tragedy to peddle your wares and it will not reflect well on your taste, class, or heart. Go ahead and press that delete key, and then face palm yourself a few times.

Are you using a hashtag that doesn’t convey anything?

Listen, there is an art to hashtag creation. I know because I don’t have it. At Mack Web, we call Rebecca the Hashtag Queen and rightly so. She would never craft and approve a hashtag that was overly vague or too cryptic for anyone to figure out.

You may think your hashtag is creative and expresses your brand perfectly, but your followers may not get it (and that’ll make them feel stupid, which goes against basic social media etiquette). So what’s the test to make sure a hashtag is appropriate for a campaign? Run it by a few people who aren’t overly familiar with the campaign (but are active on social media) and listen to their feedback. Don’t say to yourself, “Oh, they don’t get it, but our followers will.” If they don’t get it, your followers won’t. Get thyself back to the drawing board.

TIP: Don’t be a snob. Let’s be creative, but keep control of those wordsmithing reins. Don’t sacrifice brand recognition or basic understandability for a chance to pat yourself on the back for your amazingly clever wit. If fans don’t get the inside joke, then there’s a disconnect with your community, and that’s no good.

Want more tips like this with a how-to process for your team? Then tune in next week for Part II: A How-To for Hashtag Success.

How to Dominate Google+ Hangouts on Air

By | Miscellany, Social Media, Web Marketing | 11 Comments

Mack Web is  now Genuinely. Learn more.

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You’ve decided to do a Hangout on Air for yourself or your brand. Great idea! They’re a lot of fun and can help you provide value to your fans and solidify relationships within the industry. They also can make you want to pull your hair out.

oh no i've gone cross-eyed

That’s why I created this checklist with all the things that you want to do when you’re planning your Hangout on Air. This’ll take you from A to Z in chronological order, with a few side trips in between.

To get you pumped and ready to go, here’s an overview of the steps:

  1. Install G+ Hangouts plugin and make sure Hangouts are enabled
  2. Schedule the Hangouts on Air page as your brand page
  3. Connect the correct YouTube and Google+ accounts
  4. Think through the roles of your team
  5. Do a test run before the event
  6. Send panelists and participants an email about hangout structure and additional preparation
  7. Embed the Hangout on your event page or website
  8. Set up the apps in the Hangout
  9. Broadcast your Hangout on Air and have some fun!

**Everything has been updated in December 2015 to give you the most accurate, up-to-date information**

One note before we dive into the deep abyss of Hangouts on Air. Google+ has two products that are very similar: Hangouts and Hangouts on Air. Hangouts on Air is different because:

  1. You can embed the live video stream of the Hangout on Air to your YouTube channel, a G+ Event page, and even your site.
  2. You can have millions of viewers watch the Hangout on Air, but not actually participate in the Hangout.
  3. The Hangout on Air is recorded and published onto YouTube so anyone can watch later.

For the purpose of this post, assume that when I say “Hangout”, I mean “Hangout on Air.”

Let’s get started.

Way before the Hangout

If you or your Hangout participants don’t use Google+ much, you’ll need to install the G+ Hangouts plugin and test it. Also, if your account is controlled by a domain administrator, they’ll need to make sure that Hangouts is enabled for your account.

enabling Hangouts as domain administrator

Here’s where you need to enable the Hangout settings as an administrator

 

There are two ways you can create a page on G+ for the Hangout on Air to live. You could create an Event page or schedule a Hangouts on Air page. The only differences between the two options is that with the Hangouts on Air page, you can use the Q&A app (more on this later) and you don’t need to embed the video on to the Hangouts on Air page. For those reasons, scheduling a Hangout on Air page for the date of the Hangout can be an easier option for people. You can create this page ahead of time to use for promotion of your Hangout.

Whichever way you create your Hangouts page, you need to create it as your brand page, not with your personal G+ account. The Hangout will not be associated with your brand if you create it from your personal account (unless you’re hosting it as yourself in which case disregard the above advice).

Another item you want to do before you go playing around with Hangouts on Air is to connect the correct YouTube and Google+ accounts (mainly your brand accounts) if they are not already connected. You will get a notification on this if you have not done it by the time you schedule your Hangout on Air.

Here’s another warning for you: only 10 people are allowed on a G+ Hangout on Air at a time (meaning you can only have 10 individuals or screens total inside the Hangout although you can have an unlimited number of people watching it). Plan accordingly. Before you get too far into your planning, also think about the roles your team will play during the Hangout on Air:

  • Who’s moderating?
  • Who else will have control of the Hangout? More on this later.
  • Who will be your tech person (meaning someone who is knowledgeable about G+ who can work out technical difficulties you may/will have with the Hangout)? They must be on hand for the Hangout if they take on this role.
  • Who’ll be live tweeting and monitoring activity on social media?

Along with this, you may want to set a hashtag for your Hangout so that your followers can follow along on other social media outlets like Twitter. I’d recommend making your hashtag short, unique, and descriptive of the event.

During your test run of the Hangout

Yes, you must do a test run, especially if you’ve never ever done anything with Google+ or Hangouts on Air before. Hangouts is a great tool, but you will run into technical difficulties. Do not compromise on a test run to save time or effort. Google+ Hangouts on Air is not the most intuitive platform so familiarize yourself!

It’s best to do a test run about a week before your event. You should run through all the steps in this post as well as test the location, sound, and lighting of the person who is moderating the event. You can decide whether to invite your panelists to join in that particular test run or do another one just for them (depending on how comfortable with G+ Hangouts they are).

In the days leading up to your Hangout

About 3-4 days before the event, I will send participants info in an email about the structure of the Hangout, questions they can expect, and other logistics or prep they need to know about.

A few things that I make sure to cover are:

  • Tell them you will be inviting them to the Hangout 30 minutes before it starts (or goes on Air) to take care of a few last-minute logistics and make sure all is well before go-time.
  • Make sure they know they need a Google account and have the plugin installed on their computer before they can log into the Hangout.
  • Remind panelists that internet bandwidth is important so they should ask their team not to upload/download big files, back up their computers, or all watch the Hangout during the Hangout itself.
  • Ask for their cell phone numbers in case of internet issues. That way you can communicate with them easily if something goes wrong.
  • Have a logo file ready to upload for their footer during the Hangout (more on this below).
  • Let panelists know that you will be muting them during the Hangout when they are not speaking so that there are no audio issues. They can unmute themselves when they want to chime in and then mute themselves again when they’re done talking.

30 minutes before the Hangout

You made it this far and you only have a little more to go before you’re ready to rock your Hangouts on Air. To start the Hangout, you either go to your Hangouts on Air scheduled page and get started there, or you can start a Hangout on Air from scratch.

To start or schedule a Hangout on Air

  • Go to the Hangouts on Air page (it’s also in your left-hand nav under Hangouts). The new Google+ layout has Hangouts on Air in slightly different place when you go to the Hangouts page so I took a screenshot for you:where to find Hangouts on Air on new Google+ layout
  • Select “Create a Hangout on Air” on that page – don’t worry, it won’t start broadcasting until you tell it to.

Google+ hangouts on air page

  • You’ll be asked to put in the event name and details. Select ‘starts now’ (or later if you’re scheduling it).
  • You can invite your audience by typing in their emails or their names to find them on Google+.
  • Then, select Share.

how to schedule a Hangout on Air

 

  • You may get a screen that asks you to connect your YouTube and Google+ accounts. This is something to take care of when you test out the Hangout on Air.
invite guests to hangout, connect youtube

Here’s how to invite guests and connect your YouTube account to your G+ account if you haven’t already done so.

You’ll now see this:

hangouts on air screen

What you’ll see when you’ve done everything right

Now you still need to do a few things before you click that tempting Start Broadcast button at the bottom.

1. Embed the video stream on your Events page (skip this step if you scheduled a Hangout on Air instead – it will do that automatically)
2. Embed the video on your site (if you plan to do so)
3. Set up your apps
4. Do a final check with your panelists

Embed the video stream on your Event page

If you’re using an Event page to stream your Hangout on Air, you’ll need to embed the YouTube embed link there.

  • Grab the YouTube URL from the lower right corner of your Hangout screen.

how to find youtube embed and video embed links for hangout on air

  • Plug that into your Events page if you created one. Go to your Event page, then Edit Description,  Event Options,  Advanced, and then Show More Options. If you did a Hangouts on Air page, just ignore this step.

hangout on air events page edit event

You’ll see the YouTube URL on the second from the last line. Paste the URL in there. Save.events page editing

The video on the page will show a coming soon type message until you start broadcasting so you can get this going ahead of the hangout.

Embed the video on your site

To embed the video on to your site, grab the video embed link just below where you grabbed the YouTube embed link. Paste that into your page where you want your video stream to be. Update your page and save. Just like the Event page, the video will show a coming soon type message until the Hangout starts broadcasting.

Set up apps

All of these apps can be found on the left-hand navigation panel or can be added as an app from the Add an App feature.

Control Room app

If you want to give control to co-moderators or managers to mute/unmute or take someone off screen, this is the app to do that.

  • Hover over that participants name and click the dropdown button to the right of their name.
  • Choose Give Controls and they’ll now be able to do the same things that you can do in the Hangouts on Air.
  • If someone comes on to your Hangout uninvited, this is the app you’ll use to shut them down (don’t laugh – it’s happened to me before).
Cameraman app

This app controls the broadcast and how panelists come on. I follow Google+ Hangouts mastermind Max Minzer’s advice and select yes, no, yes on the three options. Like so:

google+ hangouts on air cameraman app

Hangouts Toolbox app

This app will take your Hangout on Air from amateur to pro in 1 minute flat. What it’ll do is create a footer below each panelist with their name, company, and company logo.

  • Click the add app extension in the left-hand nav. Find and add the Hangout Toolbox app.
  • It’ll ask for your permission.
  • The app will then show up on the right side.
  • On the tab that has the person in the circle to the left, enter your name and company name; upload your logo; and change the color scheme of the line in the first box to the right.
  • Where it says “Lower Third” – click to change it to “On.”
Here's what the Toolbox app looks like

Here’s what the Toolbox app looks like

  • If you want to make changes to your name or logo, make sure you turn the lower third off, make the changes, then turn it back on.
  • Your panelists will need to do this themselves, but that’s why they should come on early to the event so you can walk them through this.

If your footer shows up in reverse, all you need to do to change it is to click the rotate or mirror icon and rotate until the footer looks right.

Google+ hangouts on air toolbox app - rotate or mirror logo footer

  • Here’s an example of a footer before I rotated it: wrong layout for toolbox app footer G+ Hangouts on Air
  • This is what the footer will look like when done right:G+ Hangouts on Air Toolbox App correct footer layout
Q&A app 

This app lets your audience ask you questions before or during the Hangout. You’ll need to set this up before you start broadcasting and you’ll have to use a Hangouts on Air page rather than a simple Events page. In order to enable the Q&A app, you need to click on the Q&A icon on the Events page preview video.

How to turn on the Q and A app on G+ Hangouts on Air

It will go from greyed out to a color icon when the app is enabled. You will do the same for the Showcase and Applause apps from this page if you want to use them.

Showcase app 

With this app, you can share links to resources, content, products, and sites without disrupting your broadcast. This is helpful if your participants mention articles when they’re talking and you want to send listeners to those pieces, or if you have a call to action you want to send viewers to.

You enable the app for use the same way you enabled the Q&A app above by clicking on the icon on the preview image on your Events page before the broadcast begins. In the screenshot below, it’s the yellow icon in the middle.

How to enable the Showcase app on Google+ Hangouts on Air

To use the Showcase app:

  • Once the app is enabled, you can use the app in the Hangouts on Air window.
  • Click the yellow Showcase app icon on the left-hand navigation in the Hangouts on Air.
  • You’ll see the text field where you can add a URL. Once you add the URL, you will see the item you can show when the time is right.

How to add an item to be shared on the Showcase App

  • When you’re ready to show an item, just click the checkbox next to it and it’ll be visible to your audience. Unclick the checkbox on that item when you’re done with it.

How to show an item in Showcase app on Google+ Hangouts on Air

To learn more about the ins and outs of the Showcase app, Mark Crosling has additional tips and tricks for you.

Applause App

You can use this app to allow your viewers to express their thoughts about the Hangout via thumbs up or down icons. If you’re looking for specific feedback or questions from the audience, the Q&A app would be a better option. However, if you want to get votes or do a simple poll during your broadcast, the Applause app would work well.

Final Checks Before Going Live

There are a few final things to check before your broadcast goes on air:

  • Is everyone there? If not, copy the link to the Hangout on Air and send it in an email to them. Some people don’t get the notification from Google.
  • Does everyone’s sound and video look ok?
  • Does everyone know where the mute button is?
  • The camera should automatically go to the person who’s speaking. To override this, the moderator can select the video image at the bottom of their screen to select the person he wants to be show.

Once you’re all ready to go, click Start Broadcast and you’re on air as well as streaming the video to YouTube and your site (if you chose to). Live tweeting the Hangout can enhance the experience for all and provides easy retweets to those who are listening and following along. You’re all set to start hosting your own Hangouts on Air now!

Do you have any questions I didn’t answer? Run into an issue? Want to commiserate about the difficulty of using G+ Hangouts? Share in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter.

Social Media Engagement Metrics: Taming the Elusive Beast

By | Data and Analytics, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement | No Comments

Quest-Post

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Meaningful social media metrics are like an elusive mystical animal (for the sake of having a good metaphor: a unicorn). You go searching for what you want, and you find metrics that are close, but not quite right (um, a donkey). Or you realize that there’s no way to get exactly what you want (just grow a horn already, donkey).

That’s been my life for the last couple months. As part of our quanlitative quest, I’ve been obsessed with finding the most relevant and useful qualitative metrics to complement our already great quantitative social media metrics list. Given that we use different metrics based on each client’s strategy, it’s been a complex undertaking.

However, there are some social media engagement metrics that show promise – they more effectively communicate the true value of social media efforts and show whether your community is actually engaging with your brand.  I wanted to share those with you so that you can benefit, too.

Calculating True Engagement on Facebook

[Editorial note: Facebook moved this metric since I first reported on it so I’ve updated this blog post to include new screenshots and stats.]

Let’s set aside all the backlash Facebook’s received recently with its steep decline in organic traffic to brand pages because they are doing one engagement metric right. I’m going to start with that one.

Facebook’s Talking About This metric has been around for a while, but we’ve only really started paying attention to it recently. This metric is a great, public equalizer: great, because it bypasses taking fan numbers at their face value and puts it into perspective of how many people are actually engaging on that page; a public equalizer, because you can see this metric for any page.

Here, on Mack Web’s own Facebook page, is where to find the information you need to figure out the Talking About This metric:

How to Find Facebook Talking about This number

Facebook Talking About This Number second screen

The Talking About This metric counts “stories”, meaning everything from liking a page to posting on the wall or a post, sharing a post, mentioning a page in a post, or checking in at a location. That’s a whole lotta engagement in one little metric. That’s why it’s a good overall number to look at for Facebook.

I look at the Talking About This number divided by the number of fans, and multiply by 100 to get the percentage of engagement. This tells me the percentage of fans who are actually, actively engaging with the brand. I watch to see if it rises or falls, month to month, and what inspires those trends.

Here’s the formula if you want to take it for a spin:

Formula for the percentage of fans who are actually actively engaging

And this is how I keep track of it in a spreadsheet:

Calculating Facebook's People Talking About This Percentage
*Note on date: measure consistently on the same day every week or month, and note the date in your spreadsheet.

This percentage can unlock the reality of how a page is performing. If a brand has a lot of fans, but a low Talking About This percentage, then you know no one’s really engaging with the brand. All they have is a higher fan count, but they don’t have the attention of those fans.

Let me give an example.

NY Times vs. The Huffington Post. Which would you think has the higher Talking About This score? Don’t look below or sneak a peek at their Facebook pages. Just take a guess.

Actually, The Huffington Post is the big winner here (at least according to Facebook’s Talking About This metric).

Huffington Post Facebook Talking About This Number

The NY Times Talking About This Percentage

Here it is in action in spreadsheet format with the above example:

Comparing Huffington Post vs NY Times with Talking About This number
Not only is this metric helpful in truly understanding engagement on a page, it’s useful when we’re trying to educate clients who are fixated on fan count.

Calculating Engagement on Other Social Networks

Which other big social media channel takes engagement metrics to the level that Facebook has? Right now, none of them. Not Twitter, not LinkedIn, not Google+.

Publicly, these channels all focus on follower or fan count and hardly anything else. You can find your own engagement metrics in their analytics platforms, but you can’t often find your competitor’s unless you love counting and simple addition. Also, more often than not, the engagement metrics that these social networks provide for your own pages or profiles are either not great or are hard to pull together. And yet most channels have the capacity to provide us with that engagement data we crave. They just don’t. (Don’t even get me started on this).

For example, here’s the Impressions graph you can see on your LinkedIn Analytics page (but you can’t see for any other profile). In order to see total impressions for a month, you’ve got to add all the impressions up.

So what’s a marketer to do when it comes time to analyze engagement efforts on social networks other than Facebook? I’ve got a list of engagement metrics I’ve either 1) been using for a while or 2) recently found and think are worthwhile. Lucky for you, I’m going to share those, too.

Applause, Amplification, and Conversation

We are big Avinash fans over here at Mack Web so it’s no surprise that the basis of our engagement metrics is seated in Avinash’s Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics. We talk about these metrics a lot, and for good reason. You can find them (and calculate them) on all social networks in one form or another. Plus, they give you meaningful information about the health of your social media channels by showing you how well your fans are engaging with your brand on social media. These are our foundational social media engagement metrics – you have to watch these metrics in your analytics to fully understand your brand’s social media engagement.

In case you’re learning about these engagement metrics for the first time, here’s a quick breakdown of what they indicate:

Applause: This metric shows whether people like what you’re posting. If they’re not liking/favoriting/+1ing your stuff, it may mean they don’t like what you’re putting out there.

Amplification: Amplification shows that people like your posts enough to take action and share them.

Conversation: Conversation indicates whether people are actually interacting with you. Here you’ll be looking at @mentions, replies, comments, etc. on your posts.

Some other metrics that are good indicators of engagement and action are:

  • social media referral traffic and
  • how social media traffic effects micro-conversions or goals on your site.

Both of these metrics could make up a blog post by themselves so I’ll skip over them for now. (But stay tuned for more on these in future posts).

Additional Engagement Metrics I’m Experimenting with

I haven’t yet had a chance to put these metrics into full effect, but with the little experimentation I’ve had, they’re proving to be really promising:

Average Engagement Rate on Other Networks

Okay, yes, I know I just said that Facebook is the only network with easy, public engagement metrics. The most important word in that last sentence is easy. The Talking About This feature makes pulling this engagement metric simple. It’s in the same place on every brand’s page and publicly available. 

You’ll notice that I also said you can find engagement metrics on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. It’s just harder. They have all the data, but they don’t share them yet and also won’t give you a lot of information about your competitors. (Which always makes me think that the social networks must be hiding something, but maybe that’s just the conspiracy theorist in me).

Fortunately, there are wonderful people in the world, like our friends over at Raven, who have already figured some of this out. Here’s how you can calculate engagement rates for the other networks (and their competitors if you really love counting likes, +1s, shares, and the like).

Essentially, what you’ll be doing is adding together all the small indications of engagement (Applause, Amplification, and Conversation metrics) to build your own Talking About This metric for each social network. This allows you to track how many of your fans and followers are actively engaging with your brand, both in the moment and over time.

Average engagement metric forumla - 2

Twitter
Add the total number of retweets, mentions, and replies together (Sprout Social is my friend here). Divide that number by your follower count and turn it into a percent. I like to look at this metric over a longer period of time to see a trend.

LinkedIn
Much like Twitter, add up all likes, comments, and shares for the month on your company page and divide by total followers. Make that a percentage and look at the trend over time.

Side metrics rant: LinkedIn analytics is really special in my book because they don’t give you a total number for the month, as I mentioned before. Plus, its API doesn’t play nice with other analytics platforms. I hope you enjoy adding because you’ll be getting a good workout between LinkedIn and Google+ below. If you figure out a workaround, please leave it in the comments below – I will send happy thoughts your way as a sign of my gratitude.

Google+
Google+ is super fun because most pages (unless it’s a local page) don’t have easy numbers on the backend for shares, comments, and +1s. I have to count them on the actual page – suffice to say, that my simple addition muscles are real strong.

Click-Through Rate: The Content that “Clicks” with the Fans

This metric is a combination of two metrics: clicks on content and reach (a big thanks to Steve Webb for this tip). When you divide clicks on content by the reach of the content, you get this magical percentage that tells you how many of the audience who saw your post actually clicked on it.

Click through rate equation - 2

What can Click-Through Rate tell you?
I’m just getting started with this metric, but my favorite use thus far is as a barometer of whether people are liking the content we’re sharing and creating. Think of it as a way to measure an even fainter sign of interest than applause metrics. Your follower isn’t willing to commit publicly to liking you, but they are willing to see what you have to say beyond your 140 character message. Click-through rate can also be a great indicator of whether the wording of your updates entices them to click.

How to use Click-Through Rate
I see a few good ways to use click-through rate. You can use it to compare campaign to campaign on the macro level. On the micro level, you can use it to compare how specific pieces of content or content topics or themes perform. You can even use click-through rate to compare how different updates for the same link did.

You also can look at the level of interest from network to network for certain types of content. For example, you might find that Twitter followers like reading about case studies more than your LinkedIn followers. Or that your LinkedIn followers really like reading about ROI of social media.

How to Calculate Click-Through Rate on Various Social Networks

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here. Currently, click-through rate data is only available on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

Sometimes, I think G+ is floating off in left field somewhere, picking dandelions. I hope it’s having a good time, at least.

Twitter
In order to calculate click-through rate on Twitter, I use Sprout Social and you’ll also need to use bit.ly links for your clicks to be counted. Unfortunately, you can’t get this data on Twitter Analytics. On Sprout Social, go to Reports, then Sent Messages, then Twitter. Here’s where you get the info you need to calculate click-through rate:

So now you want to take the number of clicks (249) and divide by the reach number (750) and multiply the result (.33) by 100. This update had a 33% click-through rate. Not too shabby.

LinkedIn
On LinkedIn, you’ll find click-through rate under the Analytics tab. Divide number of clicks by impressions and multiply by 100. Here the click-through rate would be 9%.

Facebook
Facebook’s click-through rate can be found in Insights under the Posts tab. Look down at All Posts Published. In the example below, if you divide number of clicks by people reached and multiply by 100, you’ll get click-through rate for this post (2% click-through rate).

A Note on Sample Size when Using Click-Through Rate
Let me address the elephant in the room when you’re looking at click-through rate: sample size. Obviously, working with 249 clicks and a 750 reach (as in the example above) is not going to provide definitive answers. This means that you want to be careful about drawing conclusions from click-through rates taken with a small sample size.

Use click-through rate to guide your experiments on social media, not as a final judgment of what you must do. With a small sample size, click-through rate can only give you so much information about what’s going on on your social media pages. To draw an accurate conclusion, you’ll need to test a lot of theories and analyze loads of data. I never said this all was easy.

Taking Advantage of Engagement Metrics

Finding these types of metrics that show the value of our social and community work is our number one goal this year. It’s our Quest. Stick around for the ride – in the end, we want to swap out that donkey sporting the paper maiche horn for the real deal: a beautiful unicorn.

Have I missed your favorite engagement metric? Share in the comments below.

Social Meta Tags on WordPress for Regular People

By | Miscellany, Social Media, Web Marketing | 3 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

I’m no expert at SEO, but I do know enough about the subject to not make a fool of myself. So when I read Cyrus Shepard’s recent post about incorporating meta tags to optimize content for social media, I had conflicting reactions. On one hand, I knew we had to put that into practice for ourselves and all of our clients. On the other, I felt anxious because it looked like alien speak to me. I didn’t even know where to start with putting the code templates into place on our own site using WordPress.

The first thing I did was seek the advice and help of someone who was much more knowledgeable about SEO: Mack Web’s own Tyler Brooks. If he hadn’t helped, I probably would have been stuck in the “crying and pulling out my hair” phase.

If you’re anything like me, keep reading – this post will help you immensely by giving you a step-by-step guide to implementing social media meta tags into your WordPress site. If you’re a full-fledged SEO, go and read Cyrus’s post instead. 


Why are social media meta tags so important?

Social media meta tags make your content look better on social media. You can control how your post or update shows up in news feeds. And handsome social media updates make your content more appealing.

[box]

Before:

Mack Web Tweet - Before

After:

Mack Web Tweet - After[/box]

Meta data allows you to tell social media platforms how titles, images, and more should show up in the newsfeeds on those sites. Rel=publisher and rel=author also are on this list because those two tell Google+ to link your site to your company page and your posts to your profile, respectively. Using meta data on social media (which also shows up in searches) shows potential readers more information such as author byline, description, and images so they are more apt to click on your content.

Another example of social media tags in the wild.

Another example of social media tags in the wild.


What you need

The first thing is to download the Yoast plugin – this plugin made everything easier. Also, I’m talking here about doing this with a WordPress backend (so you’ll need admin access). Without this plugin or WordPress, you’ll need to go to Cyrus’s post, with its assumed coding knowledge, to do any of this.


How-to: rel=publisher

First a word on why having Google+ links to your site are important. These links will help you get indexed more quickly and establish your company’s online authority. This can only help boost reach and search rankings for your company.

Now on to the actual tutorial:

  1. Go to SEO in the left-hand navigation on your WordPress site’s backend.
  2. Click Social under SEO.
  3. Go to the Google+ tab and you’ll see where you can put in the right information.

There is another way to add the rel=publisher code by adding it directly into the site theme. Yoast should work fine, but in our case, the plugin didn’t work. If Yoast works for you, do it that way because it will be loads easier.

This is the rel=publisher code you need to put in in your site’s header if you’re doing it manually:

[box]<a href=”https://plus.google.com/yourpageID” rel=”publisher”></a>[/box]

Now you need to point your Google+ company page to your site as well. This one is decidedly easier than adding code:

  1. Go to your G+ page. Click the Manage Page button if you’re logged in on your personal account.
  2. Go to Edit Page, then About.
  3. Go down to Add Your Website and put in your website URL there.

Once you’ve added the code in and updated your G+ page, test it with Google’s structured data testing tool. You should see the magic words, “Publisher markup is verified for this page” if it worked. If it didn’t work, the best advice I can give you is to remove all the code and start again.

[box][/box]

How-to: rel=author

Before I get too far into rel=author, I must mention there’s been threat of an authorshipocalypse recently. More data needs to be reviewed before anything conclusive can be said about whether it’s related to authors themselves or is site-specific. For now, I’d recommend adding authorship to your content, as like rel=publisher, it also adds to your social authority and reach.

[box][/box]

To connect the individual G+ pages of your contributors (e.g. your employees) to their content on your site, here’s what you do:

    1. Go to the backend of WordPress.
    2. Find Users in the left-hand navigation and select that.[box]wordpress-users tab[/box]
    3. Click on each individual user and scroll down to the Contact Info section.
[box][/box] 4. Copy the person’s G+ profile page link – it’ll look like this example link: http://plus.google.com/+AyeletGolz.
5. Paste the link into the Contact Info’s Google+ line on WordPress. [box]

[/box] 6. Save and you’re done with that part.
[box]

[/box]7. Make sure to test it with Google’s testing tool again, but this time plug in the link to one of your blog posts and then your Google+ page link in the author verification box. This is what success looks like:


How-to: social media meta tags

Yoast will be your best friend for this next part. To add the rest of the social media meta tags, you can either watch this handy video or follow the written instructions below the video:

1. Go to the left navigation and click on SEO and then Social under that.

[box] [/box]2. In the Facebook tab, check the checkbox “Add Open Graph meta data.”

[box][/box]

3. Select Save Changes.
4. Now move on to the Twitter tab and check the checkbox “Add Twitter card meta data” and save changes.
5. You will already have updated the Google+ tab with the rel=publisher information.


How-to: Twitter Cards

Twitter cards allow you to add media (such as images or video) to your content links and those bits of media show up then on Twitter.

[box][/box]

Now that you’ve got the social meta tags up on your site, you have a few final steps to do:

1. Go to the Twitter validator site and validate the meta tags you placed on your site.
2. First log in with the Twitter profile connected to your site.

[box][/box]

3. Decide on which Twitter card you’d like to validate. You can pick more than one, but you’ll have to go through this process each time to validate the different type of cards. Here are the cards you can validate:

  • Summary: This is what you’ll want to validate first, especially if you have a blog or lots of written content on your site that you plan to share. This card offers readers a preview of your content before they click on the link.
  • Product: This card is specifically for highlighting products and providing details about those products.
  • Photo: This gives a preview of an image.
  • Summary Large Image: This is a mix of the Summary and Photo card – it shows a summary and a large image (see screenshot to get an idea of what this will look like).
  • Player: This is for video and audio playback within the tweet.
  • App: This card is relevant for mobile apps.

In this example, I’ll show you how to validate a Summary Twitter card. Once you’ve selected the Twitter card you want to validate, click on the Validate & Apply tab.

[box][/box]

1. You’ll be asked to enter your URL – pick any random post from your blog and enter that URL into the field.

[box][/box]

2. On the next screen, select the Request Approval button.
3. All done!

Your approval should be done quickly and an approval confirmation will be sent to the email associated with that Twitter account. If you get a screen that says you’ve timed out, go back to the Validate & Apply screen and apply again. Sometimes it’s just finicky.


How-to: Pinterest Rich Pins

If you use Pinterest a lot, you need to validate your rich pins. Here’s how you do it:

1. Go to the rich pin validator page.
2. Grab a link to a random blog post on your site and plug that in the field on the validator screen.

[box][/box]

Validate your rich pins on Pinterest.

3.Click the Validate button.
4. On the next screen, click Apply Now.
5. You’ll get a screen that shows you your URL – you’ll want to make sure you select HTML tags here.
6. Click Apply again.
7. Pinterest also will send you an email to the Pinterest account holder’s email when your application has been approved, which should be in a few days.


Test, Test, Test

The last thing you’ll want to do once you have all of your applications approved is test. The different platforms have different testing sites.

For Facebook, test using the Facebook debugger. It’ll look like this when it’s integrated successfully:

[box][/box]

On Twitter, you’ll want to go to the validator site and use the Try Cards tab. It’ll look like this when you’ve done everything right:

[box][/box]

And lastly, you can test Google+ with the rich snippets tester. Plug in a link from a random blog post on your blog and see what happens. At the very least, it’ll show you if authorship and publisher status are working for the blog. Plus, it’s preview feature is nice to see how your post will look like on Google search results. Tweak as needed.

[box][/box]

You now have all the tools to rock social media meta tags (without touching coding at all) and make sure your content looks amazing on social media.

Are you ready to put social media meta tags into play on your site? Let us know your thoughts on social media meta tags in the comments below.

Do you have questions our Truly Monumental Guide didn’t answer?

By | Building Community | 2 Comments

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to peruse our Truly Monumental (and Llama-Riddled) Guide to Community Building. (If you haven’t, go ahead and take that opportunity now. You won’t regret it. We are 97.5% sure of that).

We are pleased as punch with the whole thing, bursting at the seams with pride, and so forth. We also acknowledge that we are (maybe) just little (teeny-tiny) bit biased on the topic.

Which is where you – lovely and intelligent people that you are – come in.

Talk to us

We realize that 147 pages is a lot to cover and that you may have some questions you’d like to ask. And because we like you, we’re ready to listen.

Give us some feedback, would ya?

Please complete this form so that we can address your community building questions and concerns. We’re here to help. Really.

[si-contact-form form=’1′]

Don’t Wait to Create a Social Media Crisis Plan

By | Social Media | No Comments

One day you’re sitting there, minding your own business, and you realize your company’s Twitter account has been hacked. You didn’t do anything to deserve it and maybe it’s not your fault, but regardless it’s been happening to people more and more often.

You need to be ready. No excuses. So you’ve got to have a social media crisis plan you can put into place the second something fishy starts.

Of course, this goes beyond someone hacking into your brand’s account. A social media crisis plan should cover communication mistakes (wait, did I just tweet that on Brand XYZ’s account?! It was supposed to be from my personal account.), faulty product or services, making unpopular changes, bad press, or even angry and dissatisfied customers.

Be Proactive

The best defense against a social media crisis is to be proactive. The following are a few actions to take to prevent a social media crisis from happening in the first place.

  • Change your passwords every 3-6 months and make them a combo of letters, characters, and upper- and lower-case letters. No more “password” as your password either.
  • Have a social media policy in place for all your employees and contractors to use. Tailor it to the social networks you are on.
  • Keep an eye on conversations (both good and bad) that people have about your company, product, or service. Respond to dissatisfied customers promptly. Even if your public response is to ask the person to send you an email, this stops them from broadcasting their concerns or complaints to all and can help you resolve the situation faster. You don’t have to respond to everyone who writes something bad about your product. Just keep an eye on negative comments so they don’t get out of hand.
  • Have an internal plan in place if your product or service is recalled or has a glitch. You want to know who to notify right away and who will handle the crisis or issue as it comes up. It’s best to have this set ahead of time so you’re not scrambling.

Sometimes, regardless of how you try to avoid a crisis or issue, one pops up anyway. Below are various situations that may arise and how to handle them if they do come up.


hacker-on-social-media

1) Hacker on Social Media

Situation:
A hacker hacks into client’s social media account and sends out spammy or inappropriate messages. Because getting hacked is becoming more common place, fans and followers will probably be forgiving when this happens.

Steps to Take:

  • Change the passwords on your accounts. The most important thing is securing the account again.
  • Remove the hacked message if possible (e.g. if it’s a tweet or status update).
  • Admit that the client has been hacked with a pre-approved message. See some examples below:
    • Sorry everybody, it looks like we’ve been hacked. Please do not open the link. We’re working on getting this resolved quickly. 
    • We’ve been hacked – please delete any personal message you might have received from us. Thanks for understanding.
    • We’ve just joined the league of people who have been hacked, but have no fear, we’ve run them out of town. Thanks for understanding.
  • Monitor the situation to see and respond to any issues that may arise from the hack.

communication mistake

2) Communication Mistake

Situation:
The person in charge of the company Twitter account posts something inappropriate to that account. People see it and a brouhaha ensues. This social media crisis also is becoming more common as people are managing multiple social media accounts and flipping back and forth between them.

Steps to Take:

  • Admit the error and explain that it is being looked into or it has been dealt with. Apologize for any offense taken.
  • Decide internally how to deal with this error so that it does not happen again.
  • Monitor the situation to see and respond to any issues that arise from the hack.

3) Faulty Product or Service

Situation:
Your product has been recalled. What do you do?

Steps to Take:

  • Look into what the problem is and the company’s plan to resolve the recall situation.
  • Notify your fans and followers of the situation. Offer as much information as you are able to give. Ask fans and followers to email the company if they have concerns about the recall.
  • Keep fans updated about the situation as it unfolds.
  • Monitor conversations. This is a situation that could have longer lasting implications.

social-media

4) Social Media Issues

Social media issues differ from social media crises because they are smaller in scale. These may look tiny now, but if you let them go unattended, sometimes they’ll turn into a social media crisis. It’s best if you can avoid that.

A) Making an Unpopular Change

Situation:
You’re making a big change to a product that many people love. Do you really want to go down this road?

Steps to Take:
There are two potential ways to handle this:

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]
  1. Listen to their feedback and revert the change.
  2. Stand firm and hope it blows over. It might. Shake Shack had an issue with making the change from crinkle fries to fresh cut fries… and well, this is what happened. All seems to have died down since then and Shake Shack stood by their decision.[/ordered_list]

B) Angry/Dissatisfied Customers

Situation:
Your customer is not happy with you and he’s telling everyone he knows about it. You can’t win everyone over, but the best thing you can do is try to resolve his issue offline and quickly.

Step to Take:
Write to him on the social media platform he’s broadcasting from and give him the contact info of the person who can resolve his problem. Even if you cannot resolve his issue fully, at least the customer (and all his followers) can’t say you ignored him.

C) Negative Press

Situation:
A reporter writes something horrible about your company or your CEO, or unearths a terrible secret from the past.

faulty-cat

Steps to Take:

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]
  1. Talk it through internally.
  2. Decide on what to say about the situation to your fans or followers.
  3. Communicate with your fans and followers in a human way (meaning not in an overly formal way while still remaining professional). It’s easier for people to forgive humans for being humans than forgive a faceless corporation for human errors.
  4. Monitor and respond accordingly.[/ordered_list]

Other Social Media Crises

Since you may encounter other social media crises than the ones on this list, here’s a good general outline for response:

[ordered_list style=”decimal”]
  1. Take action internally to understand the situation and remedy it if possible.
  2. Communicate about the situation with followers/fans, but do not say more than you know. ‘Fess up if you did something wrong, apologize, and then work to make it right.
  3. Monitor the situation closely.[/ordered_list]

Notice how I didn’t say that any of these social media crises or issues have to spell the death of your company or brand. Although it may feel like it when you are in the heat of the crisis, the furor will die down… as long as you take appropriate action. With that, you may even win a few fans over to your side in the end.

Have you ever dealt with a social media crisis or issue? How did you handle it?