Social Media

Social Meta Tags on WordPress for Regular People

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

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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.



Mack Web Tweet - Before


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=”” 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.


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.


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:
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]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.”


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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:


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:


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.


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.

Onwards and Upwards – 2013 in Review

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, Miscellany, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments


One of the best things about having a blog is that it becomes a natural archive of everything you’ve ever written. Better yet, it holds the story of the transformation and evolution of your company.

I am tremendously grateful for the prosperity and lessons that 2013 brought. We saw tremendous growth not just in our team, but in our reach. We continued to hone our focus, seek our passion, and experience first hand the rewards that come when you invest in your own brand and community.

What follows are some of our most visited posts of 2013 and the story that they tell of our growth over the past 12 months.

Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community Building

We’ve had many pivotal moments in this company over the last couple of years and this post was one of them. Tyler wrote  Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community Building as a start on our quest to answer the recurring question of return on investment (ROI) earned from social media. Tyler continued this conversation with Our Experience With See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework and you can look forward to more in the days to come. This topic will be a priority on our blog as we continue to add value to the discussion throughout 2014.

This Job (as an Entrepreneur)

I am inherently an extremely positive person. I constantly exude energy and passion. I dwell in possibility. And normally that’s what I write about when I share my experiences of growing this company.

2013 was a test of my optimism. It challenged my endurance, my commitment, and my spirit. This Job (as an Entrepreneur) divulges the personal and mental struggle I sometimes face as a mom and CEO of a growing company. This was a risky one for me to write, and I’m glad I did.

More than you Ever Wanted to Know About Building Online Communities

2013 began with my very first post on building community. Over the course of the year I continued with 5 more posts that provided all kinds of details and goodness to help businesses understand the benefits of and grow their very own online communities. In order to make those posts easily accessible, I put together More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Building Online Communities, a curated post of every community building resource I’ve written on the Moz blog.

Our Guide to Building Online Communities is Finally Here

The biggest milestone we’ve ever had in the history of our company’s existence was when we launched our community building guide. I’m really proud that we were able to mark our 10th year with this achievement. We knew people needed it and we knew it would be awesome but we had no idea how well received it would be (more than 3,100 downloads to date).

Our Guide to Building Online Communities was the final post in a video promotion series we had put together to promote the guide (or ‘Arthur’ as we so fondly refer to it). Certainly the guide was a huge accomplishment and so was the fact that we were finally experimenting with video. Sort of a buy one, get one free of achievement.

4 Flat Design Takeaways and How You Should Use Them

What I love most about the fact that 4 Flat Design Takeaways and How You Should Use Them made the list of our most visited posts from 2013 is that it was written by Nat. By the middle of the year we had all agreed to contribute to the blog, but of all of us, Nat was the most reluctant. As a designer, she didn’t recognize the strength she had in writing.

It has been incredibly refreshing to have Nat’s design knowledge on our blog. She too has had a remarkable journey this past year with starting grad school, embracing flexible work hours, and stepping up her illustrating skills. Everything that Nat writes is definitely worth a read.

Our Experience with See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework

In 2013 we did a whole lot of testing. Throughout the year we had iterated many different versions of reporting with our clients in an attempt to effectively communicate the value of what we do. Our Experience With See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework was a big victory for us. Adapting Avinash’s framework for use at Mack Web was a breakthrough in our approach and certainly in effectively presenting how our efforts (heavily weighted in content and social media) affect the entire brand, revenue and all.

How We Accomplished (big) Goals with Content & Social Media Marketing (in just 10 months)

I wrote How We Accomplished (big) Goals with Content & Social Media Marketing (in just 10 months) in 2012 when we first began seeing the positive results of making ourselves a client. With the use of content, social, and email marketing along with SEO and concerted offline efforts, Mack Web was quickly gaining traction and momentum in the industry. It’s neat to see that this post was one of our most visited in 2013 as we are still making Mack Web a priority and it continues to pay off.

Make Friends not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media

One of the biggest contributors to our growth in the latter part of 2013 was when we pushed toward that T-shaped specialization and invited an experienced Social & Community Strategist to join our team. Ayelet spearheaded a bunch of valuable efforts for our community and industry last year.  Make Friends not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media was a delightful collaboration of interviews with several community managers from some of the best companies in the industry to determine their best approach for making proactive  friends instead of just passive followers.

On Processes and Predictability

I’ve always had a strength in systems and process development. I think it comes from the many years of teaching I endured. Because of this, I continually work with the team to develop systems and processes that will make our work more enjoyable, efficient, and certainly pave the way for the team to come.

In 2012, we threw out a whole lot of systems and processes. By the end of the year, I felt like giving up as nothing seemed to stick. Then finally, toward the end of  2013, something changed and our systems and processes started working.

Tyler is our minimalist. He’s always asking why and looking for ways to reduce effort and maximize efficiency. When he  wrote On Processes and Predictability to provide his take on the need and importance of process, I knew we were making progress.

Not Remotely as Expected

It’s quite fitting that we end our year in review with Not Remotely as Expected.  In 2013, Courtney, our beloved Content Strategist and voice of the Mack Web brand, decided to move to Chicago. At first we discussed keeping her on as a contractor, thinking that her relocation meant she couldn’t contribute as a full-time member of our team. As her move got closer, I realized I had overlooked the possibility of her remaining on our team, fully in-tact, remotely.

The way we work is changing. Everything from productivity to balance and how work is ingrained in our lives. We’ve been learning to adapt and evolve in a lot of ways here at Mack Web, and allowing for a flexible work environment this year has been such a benefit. We are passionate about the work we do and diligent about the people we work with. There’s no denying that our work lives are part of our lives as a whole and so learning to blend and balance the different parts is a natural part of caring for our incredible team as we grow.

What a journey running this company continues to be. Always so much to do and even more to learn. Maybe it’s the fresh taste of the New Year, but I’ve got a feeling that 2014 is going to be a great one. We wish you all of the abundance, joy, and satisfaction you can possibly handle.

Our Experience with See, Think, Do – A Reporting Framework

By | Building Community, Data and Analytics, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. – Winston Churchill

Ahhh… reports. Those things that come at the beginning of every month when we look to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needs to be changed.

I’ve always struggled with creating reports. Because it’s so easy to get so complicated so quickly. Many of our clients don’t need all the figures (or have their own logins to the analytics accounts) so our reports need to actually be helpful and not just a collection of numbers. Poorly constructed reports can easily get too long or raise questions that are entirely irrelevant to the conversation.

Thus we set out on a quest to find the best format and framework which allows us to show our value, give the client an accurate picture of their current and past situations, and to make the data both easy to understand and actionable.

We tried a variety of formats over the past several months – usually with a focus on dividing each of the metrics up by channel. For example, we’d group visits from social, goal completions from social, and ecommerce values for social. Then we’d do the same thing for organic traffic, paid search, and email. And although this seemed to be the logical way to break things out, we were missing a lot of the picture.

After all, we usually don’t see tons of conversions via social. Did that mean that our time was being wasted on social media? We don’t think so, but it was hard to show any value with those kind of numbers. Plus, if you compared social to something focused on direct sales (like PPC), the conversion rate was so far off we’d just get depressed. But we knew that fundamentally, social media is a different animal than PPC.

PPC should always be converting quickly. Social media on the other hand is much more interactive. Although you want users to convert eventually, judging social by conversions alone isn’t exactly fair. If most businesses honestly used this metric, there would be virtually no brands on social media.

Thus we faced our challenge. We needed to find a framework or system that allowed us to break out our value by more than just mere conversions. Mack Web is as much a branding agency as we are a marketing agency. Although we don’t do branding in the traditional sense (logo design, taglines, etc.), we help companies translate their brands online to create a unified presence that builds trust, inspires confidence, and develops community. How do we measure that?

Branding vs. Direct Selling

The first step in the journey was to differentiate our efforts. Virtually all marketing efforts fall into one of two categories – either they are a branding effort or a direct selling effort. Branding efforts help build you a reputation. They make a deposit of trust with your customers and potential customers. GoPro, Red Bull, and Chipotle are all examples of companies who have taken their brand seriously over the past few years and worked to develop a strong following and reputation.

On the other hand, you have direct selling efforts. These efforts aren’t focused on impacting the brand, but instead make a play straight for the customer’s wallet. Most of the time direct selling is the goal of paid ads (online and offline) as well as a majority of traditional SEO efforts. Because direct selling has received a bad rap over the years, many modern firms have basically relabeled this term growth hacking. Regardless of what you call it, the goal is the same: get people to give you money as quickly as possible.

The Problem:

Our problem was that, while we were doing some “growth hacking” (direct selling) for our clients, most of our time was spent building a brand. We’re in this for the long game, not just the immediate gains. But our reporting and key performance indicators (KPIs) only reflected the direct selling mentality. As a result, we were shortchanging ourselves and our clients. In the words of Avinash, we were trying to judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. And we wondered why we were not getting the desired results?

The Solution: See, Think, Do

In the middle of this problem, I stumbled upon a podcast where Avinash breaks down his See, Think, Do Framework (Ok, seriously…go back and click that link. And then read it. All of it. You’ll be glad you did).


This framework is fundamentally different in that it acknowledges that sometimes people aren’t willing to buy. Sometimes they are just shopping, looking, investigating their options, and figuring out what brands they’re interested in working with. As a marketer, you have the opportunity to engage with these people long before (and long after) they make their first purchase. However, using typical reporting and conversion based metrics, you don’t count any of these interactions. Most sites typically convert less than 2% of overall visits, so you’re judging your entire marketing effort on those 2% of people who may convert at any given time.

What about all the rest of the efforts? What about the brand and community building pieces? What about the interactions on social media? How do you measure all of those “non-conversion” endeavors?

The best solution we found is the See, Think, Do framework. We’re beginning to implement it company wide. This framework puts people who are not yet customers into one of the three categories: See, Think, or Do.


The See category is for people who may at some point in the future be interested in purchasing your product. For a consumer product, this could be a huge potential audience. For more niche markets, the pool can shrink significantly, but this is still generally the broadest category that you’ll target. Almost all of the KPIs (which we’ll break down in detail later in the post) reflect branding. They are simply getting your brand in front of consumers without expecting them to purchase anything right now.


The Think category is a little harder to define because it is a hybrid of both branding and selling. People in the Think category are likely to buy a product soon and are actively looking, but may not quite be ready to purchase. This is the investigating category. They are researching, digging, and looking into options. For low priced products (like groceries) the Think phase may literally last for seconds while standing in a store aisle or while shopping on your site. For larger purchases (such as an automobile), this category can last for months. Users are comparing your product with competitors and trying to find the best option.

Although the Think category is harder to define than the See or Do categories, much of the opportunity lies here. This is where product focused marketing can really be valuable. They are thinking about purchasing something specific, but may need some more information before making a decision. Sometimes they don’t just need information on your product, but they want to find out the kind of company you are and whether you stand behind your offering.


The Do category is what traditional conversion-based reporting measures. The Do category is full of people who are ready and willing to make a purchase. Most site optimizations and ad campaigns are focused on people in this category. When marketers use A/B testing or other site optimization techniques, they are trying to maximize the number of users in the Do category who actually make that purchase. These efforts are both valuable and important, but to be truly effective (especially for larger brands) they should be part of the overall marketing strategy, not stand-alone efforts.

Metrics and KPIs:

Instead of choosing one key metric (like conversions) to obsess over, we made a list of the key metrics we wished to track that we feel best reflect our efforts in each of the three categories. Although many of these aren’t perfect metrics, they are a great way for us to attempt to communicate how our efforts are impacting each of the three categories.


  • Conversation
  • Amplification
  • Applause
  • Natural social shares
  • % of non-branded SEO traffic
  • Number of new visits (% of new visits)


  • Bounce Rate
  • Page Depth
  • Per Visit Goal Value (Client specific, depends on micro conversions that they have)
  • Click-through rate for social sources
  • Branded SEO traffic


  • Visitor Loyalty
  • Funnel Abandonment Rate
  • Conversion Rate
  • Revenue!
  • Form Submissions
  • Phone Calls

Inside and Outside:

Since we’re using these metrics to track our efforts internally, we’re also starting to format our reports to fit this framework. By utilizing this framework, we take the focus off of one metric (conversions) and instead use the data to paint a whole picture of how our efforts are improving (or not improving) engagement in each of these categories.

Putting these types of metrics in our reports is also a subtle way of helping us change our client’s perspectives. By helping them understand how we are impacting the business as a whole, we can begin to help them think in the holistic context of marketing for their business rather than an obsessive focus on the bottom line.

So far I feel that our reports more accurately reflect our efforts and our desires for our clients. Furthermore, I believe they will help build trust between our clients as we focus on a few key metrics in each category and allow us to not be distracted by the overwhelming amount of data modern analytics programs offer. Only time will tell.

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.


1) Hacker on Social Media

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

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

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.


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

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

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

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


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?

Make Friends with Other Communities

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Online Community Building Videos, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Make Friends with Other Communities

Making friends is an important part of building community. When you go to meet-ups, conferences, and events and get to know the people who are doing great things, you not only get to be a part of what they’re doing, but you get to leverage their communities.

So be a friend, share the cookies, and sign up for our free community building guide.

(Only 4 more days until launch!)


Building Community is a Team Effort

By | Building Community, Online Community Building Videos, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Building Community is a Team Effort

Building community is a team effort. No longer is marketing the sole job of one department, but great community building involves a variety of people – from the CEO to the intern. Trying to build community on your own is tough, so let your team help. We did our best to illustrate this for you and…well…it didn’t turn out quite like we had hoped!


Building Community Takes Personality

By | Building Community, Online Community Building Videos, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Building Community Takes Personality

Building community is an important part of building your brand and your business. If you want your efforts to be successful, you’ve got to use your personality.

Even if you’re a company in a “boring” niche, your company still has a personality and it’s important to show it. Who does this well? Well, our friends over at Wistia (an epic video hosting solution) are a great example. They get everyone involved. We <3 them. Check it out!

Make Friends Not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media Hangout

By | Building Community, Events, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Thanks for joining Mack Web for our first live hangout! And a huge thank you to all of our panelists who contributed their experience and knowledge. We are truly honored for your community building wisdom.

In case you missed it, below is a recording of the entire hangout. There are tools and questions answered from the hangout listed below.

Special Thanks to our Panelists

We’re honored to have featured these panelists today:

Sheena Medina – @sheenamedina (also @CMmeetup)

Cheri Percy – @thedivinehammer (also @distilled)

Sara Lingafelter – @Saralingafelter (also @portent)

Jen Lopez – @jennita (also @moz)

Elise Ramsay – @eliseramsay (also @wistia)

And of course our own Mackenzie Fogelson – @mackfogelson (feel free also to reach out to @mackwebteam)

Key Tools Mentioned in the Hangout




Really Targeted Outreach

Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community

Free Online Community Building Guide

Questions From the Hangout

Here are some of the questions that were asked during the hangout. We’d love to hear more in the comments below:

  1. How does content fit into the community building portion of online marketing?
    For us (at Mack Web) content is community building. In other words, you will use all kinds of tools to build community (like SEO, social media, email marketing, PR, offline, etc) but you can’t do any of it without valuable content. Content is what starts the conversation and it’s also what is necessary for meaningful engagement.I’d also add that in order to be effective in your content and community building efforts that you have a strategy. Starting from your goals, not tools, will help get your efforts off on the right foot.
  2. How do you start a community for a client that’s in a very boring industry (let’s say heat pumps)?
    It has been our experience that you can build community really for anyone (even boring niche companies). We’d recommend starting from goals and developing a strategy that will help you to reach them. I’d also make sure that you have a common understanding of expectations. Things like: what everyone’s role is, how the process works,  how success will be measured. Community building is hard work and it takes a long time to gain traction (especially in boring niches). You just need to be consistent and do whatever it takes to reach the goals you’ve set. For more in-depth resources on the “how-to” of actually building a community, you can read More than you Ever Wanted to Know About Community Building and you can also sign up to receive our free community building guide which will be available on October 15th.
  3. Which platform should I use to get more people to know about my business Facebook page. I do not want to use ads.
    You can certainly use a variety of channels to drive traffic to Facebook that you don’t have to pay for. It just might take a little longer to get the traffic you’re anticipating. Certainly though you’ll have to to the work to build it.First, I’d recommend determining what people will get if they “like” your Facebook page presently as it is. Is there any value there? Is your page all full of self-promotion, or is there meaningful content that would attract the right customers and initiate engagement? That’s a great place to start. You’ll want to use valuable content (not just your own but other people’s quality content as well) to not only drive people to your page, but to keep them coming back. The type of content you feature on your page has everything to do with what you want to accomplish and who you’re wanting to attract to your community and your business. Again, I’d recommend instead of starting with the tools (Facebook), work from goals. What is it that you want to accomplish in your business (not just on Facebook)? This will help you determine a strategy that would include many other platforms and tools that you could use to build exposure and traffic to your Facebook page. And certainly, that strategy will include content. See #2 above for more on building community and how to get that started.
  4. What is the best way to handle a crisis on social media?
    It really depends on the crisis that is taking place as there are different approaches to handling things that arise on social media. I’d say that transparency and communication are key to any crisis that may arise. We actually have a blog post coming out in the next week about this exact topic (addressing many of the different crises that can happen on social media), so I will be sure to update this post as soon as it is out.
  5. What is the single most effective thing you’ve said to a stubborn organization who thinks talking about themselves is the answer?
    Show them some data. We track our client’s content and we have data that shows their self-promotional stuff doesn’t do as well as their more value/resource driven content that is meant to indirectly prove their expertise. I’d ask for 60-90 days to conduct an experiment. Test just your tweets. Do all self-promotional tweets all day long for several weeks and measure engagement indicators like shares, RT, conversations, etc. Then switch to a mix of both. We’ve had luck with the 80/20 ratio. The mix of self-promotion vs. more indirect value-driven is going to be different for every company so you really have to test what works best for you. What we’ve experienced is that it’s got to be a mix of both. And it’s not all about you.


Perceived Risk in Marketing

By | Creativity, SEO, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

If you’ve ever done any investing, you’ve undoubtedly been asked about risk. Do you want more guaranteed investments (like bonds or other government backed securities)? Or do you prefer an investment style that is more risky. Say, startups or technology companies?

Most portfolio managers begin any interview by asking those questions. The idea is that, ultimately, more risk brings more reward (hopefully).  But, of course, with more risk also comes more risk. There is always the chance that you could lose some or all of what you’ve invested.

The exact same is true in the marketing space. Now more than ever, there are more ways to engage with customers. In the old days you had billboards, print, radio, and TV and the choice was a fairly simple numbers game. TV was the most expensive and often gave you the greatest ROI, but if you were a small business, billboards, print, and radio were great secondary options.

Today, we’ve kept all these “old” mediums and added dozens of new ways to engage. Each one comes with its own sliding scale of risk and reward. How is a small business marketer to know where to start?

Even “the internet” doesn’t refer to a single medium, but dozens of channels and broadcasts intertwined. Social media alone can be broken down into a dozen different networks that each require their own unique blend of personality and content.

Deciding which channel to use and when is, among other things, a game of balancing the risks, whether the effort expended will return satisfactory results.

Assessing Risk

So let’s start with a couple assumptions about marketing and perceived risk. Now understand that in this article we’re talking almost exclusively about perceived risk. There are way too many variables to talk about actual risk.

After all, one company might spend $4,500 to make a video that gets millions of views while another company spends ten times that amount and gets 5,000 views. Marketing is inherently unpredictable, so analyzing real risk accurately is far beyond the scope of this post. That said, perceived risk is much easier to understand. To do this, you just need to understand the point of view of your client, manager, or customer. So perceived risk is what we’ll be working with for the rest of this post.

How Risky Do You Want to Be?

So let’s boil it down a little bit. We are going to make two assumptions with regards to perceived risk:

The harder it is to track the exact ROI of a marketing effort in the short run, the riskier it is perceived to be.

The more expensive a marketing effort is, the riskier it is perceived to be.

Let’s look at a couple examples. For instance, say that you work for a national company that sells car tires. You go and spend $1 million on a TV campaign and sales across the nation rise by about 3% over the previous month. A million dollars is a lot of money, and it’s difficult to tie that increase directly to that campaign. How do you know that sales increase did not come from the radio ads or print ads you’ve published? How do you know that people are not just getting their ties on their cars changed before winter? This marketing can very easily be perceived as risky. Say that $1 million was around ⅓ of your total marketing budget. That’s a lot of money! Because this campaign is both difficult to track and rather expensive, it is perceived as high-risk.

With this in mind, before you start proposing marketing strategies and designing campaigns, it is important to understand the willingness to take risks of the organization you’re working with. Are you working with a bunch of risk averse business folks? Do they much prefer the predictability of PPC to the less predictable content marketing? Are they all about maximizing trackable ROI and minimizing the costs? If so, you’ll want to find a methodology that caters to their wants.

On the other hand, do you have a company that is willing to take risks? Even if they don’t have huge, Budweiser-sized budgets, are they willing to think outside the box and create content that may win big (or totally flop)? If they are, then by all means, do that!

Ironically, many companies are highly averse to taking risks online, but are more than willing to burn through thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars on traditional advertisements. They will pay for full page ads in industry publications (where they can’t track any direct ROI), but do not want to spend a dime online unless they know exactly how much they are getting back.

And part of this is our fault. We’ve promised things that we can’t always deliver. In the early days of the internet (before social media) when display ads were the go-to type of marketing online, we promised businesses lots of metrics. “Track everything!” is what we screamed from the rooftops. And yet, in an age of social media and content, we are now forced to begin thinking long-term again. These types of marketing defy easy tracking – despite our best efforts.

So it’s helpful to think of your marketing mix as you would a portfolio. If you have a young company that is able (or needs to) take some drastic risks, then do something brave. Be bold. Turn heads with your content. If the company is much more conservative, they may prefer to simply sit on their PPC ads to generate additional sales leads. But it’s helpful to understand their mindset upfront, before you come up with a grand strategy that is at the opposite risk spectrum that they should be operating in.

In order to build out your portfolio, it’s helpful to think of marketing in terms of four quadrants. Let’s illustrate:


In this quadrangle we are tracking two primary metrics. The first is cost. How much does it actually cost you to do your marketing? And don’t just look at literal and direct costs. For example, people who haven’t really had to do social media marketing generally think, “Social media is free! Why not just use that?” In a sense they are right, the tool is free to use. Nobody is going to charge you to use Twitter. But there are additional costs associated with using Twitter. Do you use any tracking tools? Do you pay for a subscription to Hootsuite or Buffer?

In addition to the tools, the real cost of social comes from the time it takes to do it well. You need to invest in strategy. You need to create graphics. You need to update (or pay someone to update) your feed and respond to users. These should all be included in your costs.

Ability to Track ROI

The challenge with many marketing efforts is the ability to track a solid return on investment. We discussed this pretty in depth a couple weeks ago. There are also a bunch of other great posts across the web so start searching!

Marketers (as well as CEOs, CMOs, and especially CFOs) really, really like to know if their investments are getting a good ROI. And really it’s only sensible for them ask. After all, there are many companies spending lots of money on marketing, and they want to make sure it’s worth it.

Communicating Perceived Risk

So that a neat little graph, but how does it help us?

It’s a communication tool. Clients (or your bosses) want to know what they are paying for. They want to know (dollar-for-dollar) what they are getting from the investment they are making. This is a very fair request, but if they need to know this exactly, you’ll generally only end up investing heavily in the efforts on the right side of the graph.

SEO, PPC, and email marketing are by far the easiest metrics to track. Using Google Analytics (or some similar platform) you can build an entire campaign and report the return of virtually every single dollar that you invest. CFOs and marketers love this.

The problem with these forms of marketing (generally) is that you get a diminishing return on your investment. Eventually you get to the point where more investment does not equal more sales.

Furthermore, most of these efforts (with perhaps the notable exception of email marketing) do not help you develop a long-term relationship with your customer. Your relationship (if you can even call it that) is purely transactional. As soon as something new or shiny pops up, they’ve left you for someone else.

The most uncomfortable quadrant for most marketers is the top left. This category is dominated by things that cost a lot of money, but don’t have a very easily measurable ROI.

Funnily enough, this is also primarily where traditional marketing resides. TV ads are the pinnacle of this quadrant. Think of all the money Budweiser and Pepsi spend on Superbowl (or am I supposed to say “The Big Game”?) ads. They pay millions of dollars just to air the ad. That’s not even considering the costs of pre and post production. It’s a lot of money!

Understand Your Client’s (or Customer’s) Willingness to Take Risks With Marketing

We created the above illustration to serve as a guide to help marketers engage with their clients in meaningful discussion before strategies are developed. Each unique channel brings it’s own risks and costs, so finding the right marketing mix will be important for your brand.

Sit down with your client and talk to them about the risks that they are willing to take. What does their budget look like? Just as importantly, are they willing to live with some vagueness in their marketing efforts – at least in the short term? If you can’t give them a 100% accurate dollar-for-dollar report, are they going to be frustrated?

If they want exact figures, it might be helpful to point out how they are (likely) not getting such reports on their other marketing efforts either. Do they know exactly the ROI of the latest full page ad they put in the big industry publication? Probably not. At best they are just making educated guesses. The new era of internet marketing relies heavily on this educated guessing.

You may also want to point out the longevity of great content. A full page ad in an industry publication is done in a month. A great piece of online content about a relevant topic may last for months or even years.

So, next time you bring on a new client, talk to them about their marketing risks. How much budget do they want in each category – understanding that with great risk comes the opportunity for even greater reward. Get on the same page, then build out their strategy based upon their risks. If your primary focus is on content marketing, but they only want low risk and exact reports on ROI, maybe you’d better pass them off to your display ads team. It’s probably going to be a better fit.

Don’t Get Lazy

What I’m certainly not advocating is that we give up trying to track ROI on our social media and online efforts. We should always be doing what we can to gauge our ROI, but sometimes this is difficult at best. And clients need to understand this. So we recommend that you discuss risk with them. Some companies will be perfectly fine living in their little, happy PPC world. But brand building involves perceived risk. Are they willing to take those risks?

More Than You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Building Online Communities

By | Building Community, Mack's Musings, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

So I’ve written just a little bit about how to build online communities.

It’s only because I’m so extremely passionate about it. And I’ve lived it. In the last year we’ve experienced first-hand the amazing benefits and opportunities that open up when you do the work to build your brand, your community, and your company.

What follows is a curated compilation of a community building series I’ve written on the Moz blog (along with a Mozinar and a slidedeck from a speaking gig). Certainly there will be more to unfold, but here’s all of the community building goodness I have to give (in one convenient place):

Building Community with Value

The first in the series, Building Community with Value, explains one of the most fundamental concepts to building a community around your business: the 80/20 rule. The gist of this ‘rule’ — no matter what your ratio ends up being — is that social media is at its best when it’s driven by valuable content (that’s not all about you). One of the most meaningful ways to build relationships, trust, and your community, is to share other people’s great stuff. The 80/20 has been a great accelerator in our community building efforts. Give it a shot and see how it works for you.

How to Identify an Online Community for Your Business

The best part about building an online community is that you don’t have to start from scratch. There are so many great communities, people, and companies online who would love to be part of other great communities. All you have to do is find them. If you’re working on building your community, How to Identify an Online Community for Your Business is a great place to start.

Attract Customers to Your Community with Content

This is one of my very favorite posts in this community building series. I remember when I was writing this post I was telling my husband Jon that I was frustrated because I wanted to explain the difference between self-promotional content and customer-focused content and I couldn’t find any effective examples. He sent me a couple of emails he had recently received from Patagonia. They were perfect.

If you want to Attract Customers to Your Community with Content, you’ve got to create two kinds: foundational and community building. Patagonia does an amazing job of this and it’s all detailed in this post.

How to Build an Online Community for Your Business

Lucky for me, we have an amazing designer at Mack Web and her name is Natalie. She’s responsible for creating the spectacular info-graphics that we use to explain how we build community. In this post, How to Build an Online Community for Your Business Nat provides the illustrated version of this step-by-step processes.

If you’ve got an hour or so, you can also listen/watch this one Mozinar style.

Think Differently: How to Accomplish Big Goals for Your Business

This is not a Moz post, but even better, it’s a slide deck from my first big industry speaking gig. When I was on that stage at SearchLove, I challenged the crowd to Think Differently: How to Accomplish Big Goals for Your Business. This deck represents the community building process that we developed and tested on ourselves and our clients. My talk walks through this entire process (from buy-in to reporting) so that you can emulate it for your business.

Meet Your Community Building Team

After I had been writing and speaking about building community for several months (and of course working with our clients), I started to receive a whole lot of requests for role support. Who do we hire to do the work? Do we need one person for every single role? How do we build an ideal team?

I wrote Meet Your Community Building Team on the Moz blog in an attempt to encourage as many companies as possible to un-silo their existing marketing department and effectively build their ideal community building teams.

The Fundamentals of Building and Managing Your Community

Essentially, this Moz post is the final entry in this community building series. The Fundamentals of Building and Managing Your Community breaks down the important elements of both building and managing your community.

Specifically, the post highlights one of the most effective concepts we’ve used in community building—the Goals not Tools pyramid. In essence, you want to make sure that no matter what you’re doing — whether it’s building community or working on other important facets of growing your company — you start from goals. Identify the big picture of what you’d like to accomplish before jumping into the tools that will get you there.

Bonus! Mack Web’s Free Guide to Building Online Communities

So that about does it (so far) on Moz posts and the community building series, but if you like what you’ve read so far, then you’re in for a real treat. Mack Web has been developing a free, step-by-step guide on building online communities. This guide, written in true Mack Web fashion, will come in the form of a handy-dandy PDF and will incorporate all of our community building wisdom in one pretty little package.

If you don’t want to miss out on all the fun, sign up here. It will be your early Christmas present.

What Else Would You Like to Know?

As the year continues to unfold, and we continue to develop, iterate, and collect data about building community, there will be a whole lot more to tell you. What is it that I haven’t covered that you’d like to hear? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below.