Cause Marketing Climbs to the Next Level

If you strike a chord with the heart, the mind will follow. With brands, it’s no exception.

There are ample examples of cause marketing by brands for some years now. We have all seen ads, posts, promotions urging us to buy, like, share something and an equivalent value, fixed by the brand, will be donated in some social cause or charity. If we were already a loyalist of that brand, we felt good about it while buying the product or service. Even if they were not our brands of choice, a like or share did not cost us anything, so we felt good furthering a cause. You must be wondering, what novelty could I bring to this topic now?

You will know in a moment. While going through endless social media campaigns this year I came across four excellent ones that set me thinking. These were campaigns that did not sell their product or service, they were just trying to make us value life and its joys. They were trying to alleviate the social vices that plague us every day. Before I make my point, let me share what these campaigns were:

Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Campaign

First launched in 2006, these videos show an artist sketching a series of women, based on their own descriptions of themselves versus an onlooker describing their appearance to the expert, with the latter’s descriptions producing a far better, rather beautiful, picture than each woman’s own description. Thus revealing the harshness with which we look at ourselves, obscuring the real beauty. This video has recorded 4.24 million shares on social media this year and has become the most viewed ad ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpaOjMXyJG

Pantene #whipit Campaign

This campaign launched in the Philippines only recently has been trying to dispel social stereotyping of women at the workplace. It compared similar actions of a man and woman at work and how the same action induced totally opposite perceptions in society, with women receiving the flak every time. The ad ends with the message ‘Don’t let labels hold you back. Be strong and shine’. Not only has it sparked engagement in social media, it received an endorsement by an iconic women in the corporate world – Sheryl Sandburg, elevating its value up many notches.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOjNcZvwjxI

Visa #smallenfreuden Campaign

The social media centric campaign started in Canada with an anonymous video and a twitter account with a coined term #smallenfreuden, which translates to “the joy of small”. The video depicts a series of small events in life that produce joy and glorified the act, urging people to do it more and more every day and in the process turning the coined term into a verb and asking viewers at the end – “Do you #smallenfreuden?”. The unbranded teasers on Youtube and conversations on twitter followed for some time till Visa revealed itself to be force behind it. The video received 400,000 views in the very first week of its launch. Visa claimed its share of payments increased 30% during the campaign period.

The ‘Batkid’ Campaign

The Make-a-wish Foundation wanted a 5 years old kid, Miles Scott, a leukemia patient’s wish come true. It planned a real life enactment of the movie with the child as the protagonist, rescuing a damsel in distress and fighting the bad guys. The city of San Francisco serving as Gotham City, the fictitious town the Batman guards in the movie. What is a regular activity for the foundation, turned into one of the most notable heartwarming events that garnered unprecedented support both from masses as well as government, with President Obama himself tweeting about it. The entire credit goes to social media that supported the event right from its onset. A whopping 600,000 tweets and 1.7 million impressions were recorded within the short span of 12 days and nearly 20,000 people turned out on the streets to witness the event.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-uu2zpn82WI

The striking feature of all these campaigns was – none of them were selling their product in the campaign. They were trying to either participate in contributing to the betterment of the society or helping in making us appreciate life. They were not asking us to trade anything at all with them, even for goodwill, they were just spreading the joy. By not following the trend, they were leading the change. This thought is further vindicated by the Nobel Prize winning Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who according to an article published by ‘The Economist’ argues, advertising prizes emotion over information and pays more attention to the brands “purpose” than its products.

These were not causes of epic proportions, like Arab Spring or Awareness against Rape, yet, they made an indelible mark on the consumer’s mind through the new world of social media. The key take away from this analysis thus proceeds, that is, there is immense scope of brands of all varieties to champion such a cause, in the very subtle away the above have shown us. There is no dearth of issues in society – from bullying to hatred, encouraging compassion to eradicating racial bias and the list can go on. So, why not spread some happiness and joy, while going about your business?  Especially when the returns are so rich and enduring.

Stop Using Facebook Hashtags. They Suck.

If you haven’t been paying attention – hashtags are no longer just a “Twitter” or a “Pinterest” thing. The latest to join the hashtag bandwagon is Facebook, having rolled out their first phase of global use of hashtags on June 12, 2013. Quick crash course: Hashtags are basically used to help organize timely conversations around popular topics, such as current events and public personalities. It is just another form of tagging someone in your post, even though they aren’t your “Facebook Friend”.  The technology may seem young, but its use dates back to the early days of IRC, where hashtags were used as a type of metadata to categorize content that is posted.

On Facebook, this feature connects people and posts with categories in common; to help surface conversations.  The social networking site only wants to make it easier for people to find related content already available on Facebook, and hashtags is the first step. (Well, at least that was the intention when they came up with this plan!) Users can now compose posts directly from a hashtag feed and search results, making addition of real time content to specific topics easier than before.

The actual intention behind introducing Facebook hashtags, was to reach out to more people – to make content/ pages go viral. But, according to EdgeRank’s study, this hasn’t really worked out. At all. Posts with hashtags were supposed to notice an increase in their reach – weren’t they? Wasn’t that the plan, Zuck? But, marketers have been let down. What else is new. The study says that the posts with hashtags have a far lesser reach than those without hashtags.

graphTwitter follows the same hashtag technology and brands have noticed over 70% increase in ReTweets (Twitter’s equivalent to Viral Reach), when using hashtags versus not using any. This indicates that hashtags tend to increase the likelihood of ReTweets! But, this fact remains true only for Twitter – the only platform to do something nice with hashtags. Maybe we should just let it be a Twitter thing and let it stay there.

graph

Then why are brands experiencing a downfall in their reach? Is it because the content they use hashtags with is not as relevant as the users may want it to be? Or is it because  users tend to click more on the ‘related’ content instead of the Page posts and the bounce – off rates have increased unknowingly (and alarmingly)? For example, if I click on #socialmedia, I get a chance to view other pages that have used the same hashtag.

#socialmedia

The typical content shared by brands weighs more towards Photos (Obviously! We all know photos do a better job than text content!) Again, thanks to EdgeRank’s survey we have a clear idea about the usage of hashtags with content and their distribution is clearly depicted in the graph.  

graph

But why are Facebook hashtags such a big failure? According to the survey conducted by EdgeRank, it is clear that people don’t tend to click on the ‘hashtag’; else posts with hashtags would have noticed a considerable increase in their reach. And this raises further questions – Why are posts with hashtags experiencing lesser reach when they have the same content as those without hashtags? This is clearly because brands are using hashtags mostly in posts for their promotional campaigns, and these campaigns as it is experience lesser engagement, lesser clicks and hence, LESSER REACH! Could it really be that simple? Surely a hashtag like #SocialMedia should get more reach then?

Another problem that wasn’t predicted, was the use of Facebook hashtags – how good are its users at relating and categorizing content? Evidently, not very good. The maximum number of hashtags used in a single post is 19 ‘individual’ hashtags and 60% of the posts with hashtags use a ‘single’ hashtag! (That’s what the survey says!) Personally – using more than 3 hashtags in a post does seem a little wonky.

graph

This would certainly worry all  marketers, considering their brands aren’t doing too well with or without the hashtags. Perhaps, they could use ‘exclusive’ hashtags instead of the common hashtags, in their posts – but wait, isn’t that the reason hashtags aren’t doing so well in the first place? It does however – provide a consistent stream of data for users interested in that hashtag, as they’ll see posts only by that brand. Long story short – hashtags aren’t doing jack for your Facebook post, so don’t use them.

The Year That Was – The Top Social Media Campaigns of 2013

2013 has been an amazing year for social media. Platforms have taken off, trends have gone haywire and non profit organisations have taken to social media, new terms have been coined, old terms have been re-visited with Facebook changing their algorithm more times than Lady Gaga has caused an outcry. All said and done, 2013 has been a fantastic year for some social media campaigns – with fresh ideas rolling in and creativity vowing the digital spectrum.

What did 2013 bring? Too much. But to capture what stood out the most, here’s a countdown of the social media campaigns that got us talking in 2013, and will probably have us talking in 2014 too.

5. Nikon – The Warner Sound Captured

Influencer marketing is using the power of influential people to harness social media. This is an organic, new-found type of marketing that’s yet to join the mainstream. However, Nikon leveraged the power of this trust-building media tactic when it came up with The Warner Sound Captured. This campaign involved giving select fans Wi-Fi-enabled cameras to record and take photos of the three-day musical extravaganza, and instantly sharing them via social media. These attendees, though non-celebrities were great influencers due their technical expertise. The live streams of the concerts that Nikon uploaded as part of the campaign were watched for a huge 11 minutes on average – far surpassing the industry average of just two minutes.

 

This resulted in 166 million social impressions and created a lot of trust where fans respected Nikon’s faith in sharing its brand new cameras.

The success of this campaign arose from targeting the right influencers at the right time.

4. Oreo @ Super Bowl

This was the best spontaneous social media campaign of the year. It showed the importance of timing and recognizing and capitalizing on opportunities. Oreo tweeted “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” during a 34 minute power outrage. This was accompanied by a picture of a cookie. The tweet capitalized on the impatience of fans. It led to 15800 retweets, 8000 new followers and generated further talk on Facebook and Instagram.

Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC

— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013

 

This impulsive campaign was the brainchild of a special social media command designed to make the most of little opportunities.

The best part? They generated more buzz than all the other paid forms of advertisement at the Super Bowl.

+1 to Oreo!

 3. Starbucks – Tweet a Coffee 

Starbucks succeeded by revolutionizing e-gifting through social networking website Twitter. All one have to do was connect one’s Twitter account to their Starbucks account, tweet @tweetacoffee and their friend\’s Twitter handle, and your friend could click and add the gifted coffee to his or her Starbucks account.

Starbucks first launched this in 2011 and has extended this cool e-gifting platform to Facebook and mobile apps. They have managed to launch a seamless process that makes the online experience more shareable and personal. They also have the numbers to prove this. This has so far prompted $180,000 in purchases. What\’s great is that Starbucks has now linked 54,000 users\’ Twitter IDs to their mobile phone and customer IDs.

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Though it’s still in a nascent stage, the e-gifting model of Starbucks is something that we sure have our eyes on.

2. Hashtag Killer

Do you remember #FirstWorldProblems where people tweet about how their iPhone 5 isn’t updating quickly enough? The Charity Organization Water is Life decided to kill this hashtag and raise awareness about real problems.

The campaign began with an anthem where Haitians sing about some problems that people have posted as First World problems. Their sarcastic statements include “I am sorry your leather seat wasn’t heated” will help you to put their problems in perspective.

The campaign was so successful that people donated 1 million days’ worth drinking water.

Dare we say ‘Social Media for change’?

 1. Dove’s Beauty Sketches

There is hardly anyone who’s not heard of The Dove Beauty Sketch Campaign. This campaign set out to prove that ‘A woman is her own enemy’ when it came to deciding how attractive she was. The video was a continuation of Dove’s attempt to understand and define real beauty. The three minute video has 54 million views making it the most watched video ad ever. It also has a six minute version where a forensic artist draws women based on their own descriptions and descriptions of people who have been introduced to them for the first time.

This eloquent, meaningful campaign proves once again that the power of social media campaign lies in moving beyond the product and into people’s life.

Dove drives this point home sealing the numero ono spot on our countdown for the best social media campaigns of 2013.

Amazon's Pinterest Board

Amazon US Tops the Traffic Chart on Pinterest for Winter 2013

When it comes to social media success stories, Pinterest tops the list with its rapid growth. Nearly four years old, Pinterest grew from having 50,000 to nearly 17 million users in 9 months and is currently hosting over 70 million users. With the success of the network expanding, retailers have been seeking many ways to leverage Pinterest marketing to increase their visibility, brand reach and sales. In a recent study conducted by Searchmetrics, it has been revealed that the Amazon Pinterest Page tops the list with the highest traffic since the beginning of this holiday season.

Searchmetrics’ statistics show that Amazon ranks top on the list of highest pins/shares a week followed by Walmart and Apple. Amazon is currently averaging at 16,360 pins/shares a week while Walmart and Apple are far behind in the race with 5,778 and 3,871 pins/shares a week respectively.

A majority of retailers have tried to exploit the potential of Pinterest for digital marketing with measurable results. In a recent case study by eConsultancy, the success of many top brands and their Pinterest traffic has been listed to show the efforts made by retailers across various industries to popularize themselves on Pinterest.

Brand

Pins/Week

Total Pins

Followers

Amazon

16,360

1,740,314

5,637

Walmart

5,778

529,992

33,337

Apple

3,871

1,111,959

1,597

QVC

325

54,935

42,683

Staples

307

17,252

2,025

Best Buy

281

60,630

4,047

Netflix

202

7,802

445

Sears

29

1,511

190

Office Depot

27

2,635

1,994

Dell

9

2,715

1,160

With little effort and less number of followers compared to Walmart, Apple is observed to be the second best to Amazon in the top ten list. Based on their strategies, popularity, online presence, and performance, the various retailers have different results in the Pinterest campaigns for Christmas 2013.

 A Little about Pinterest

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board that allows users to collect and share pictures, videos, articles or any visual information with their social circle on their ‘Pinboard.’ Retailers use this platform for marketing by displaying their products on their pinboards essentially using them as a shop window. Users often ‘Pin’/share images of products that they like with their friends and family eventually leading to a buying process in the long run. The chief advantage of Pinterest is that it allows retailers to introduce their ‘followers’ to new products. When the content is shared by a user it acts as a sign of recommendation persuading others to view the image or even website through backlinks.

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What did Amazon do differently?

Amazon US has its own official Pinterest page (www.pinterest.com/amazon/) that is highly active since Thanksgiving 2013. The profile has 17 themed pinboards with a total of 520 pins. The various themes include Holiday Toy List, Holiday Entertaining, Delicious, Your Office Space, Ideas for Dad, and more. The pins are images of products sold on Amazon that are categorized by themes to help users find them easily for gifting purposes this holiday season. The reason for Amazon’s success lies in three simple yet major aspects:

  • The Pin Button: The Amazon website has integrated Pinterest very well into its ecommerce site very much like Walmart encouraging users to share the products they like on Pinterest.
  • Creation of festive themed pinboards: As a general marketing strategy, by categorizing pins on different boards, Amazon aims at targeting various user niches and generating their interest in a wide variety of festive themed products.
  • Linking all thought leadership activities: The Amazon website has a section on recipes as a thought-leadership strategy. In the festive themed Amazon pinboard are delicious looking images of dishes that are linked back to the recipes so users can try them out at home during the festive season. Although this does not help in selling any product, it does increase traffic, followers, and popularity of the Amazon Pinterest page.

 How can you leverage Pinterest for your brand?

Pinterest is a social network that is tailor-made to browse on-the-go. Considering that a majority of the customer population has access to smartphones and browses products and product information on the phone, you can leverage Pinterest to share any interesting content to draw user attention towards your brand. Also remember that Pinterest is a network with a majority of female users from across the world, and customize your content accordingly.

According to Pinterest statistics, over 80% of total pins on Pinterest are repins. Considering how the Amazon pinboard has only 520 pins but a total of 1,740,314 pins, you can be assured that if you pin something, your content will be repinned.

The very lucrative Pin This button is the key to directing traffic to your pinboard or website as it allows users to share your products freely with their circle. While Pinterest marketing may not directly lead to a sale, it does indeed have a higher reach and a greater power of recommendation through visual and viral content that can increase brand advocacy and promotion.

Themed boards draw attention towards the brand and products through keywords and hashtags. Themes often increase the excitement and enthusiasm during the holiday seasons encouraging users to share content at a greater rate.

Pinterest contests like Pin it to Win It are often useful in directing your traffic into ROIs. Many brands have used Pin It contests to increase the number of followers and brand reach during product launches, promotions, and festive seasons to see measurable traffic through Pinterest marketing.

While pushing a brand’s content is quite important, the secret to succeed on Pinterest lies in sharing content from other boards too. Different social networks have different forms of displaying thought leadership. On Pinterest, you can be successful by sharing content that can intrigue your fans while it may not be of any marketable value to you. Any interesting content that you share can go viral and thus bring traffic towards your Pinboard.

The true potential of Pinterest is unveiled only during holiday seasons as more women turn to the website for ideas. So use the website as your tool for marketing and leverage it to drive traffic towards your website and increase sales.

Listen To Your Community – A Lesson From Twitter and #RestoreTheBlock

Twitter Inc. was forced to fall back on its old “block” feature, on December 12, 2013; less than 12 hours after the new feature enticed a lot of criticism from its users who accused it of empowering executioners of online misconduct. The U.S users of the social platform took to trending #RestoreTheBlock hashtag in its protest against the new block feature.

All of us are aware of the old blocking policy – a blocked user could not interact with the tweets of the person who blocked them – no Retweets, no Favoritism, no adding to the list, etc. But under the new policy, a blocked user could still see your activity and interact with it; and not even be ‘aware’ of being ‘blocked.’ (A modest change that received a colossal response!)

Twitter introduced this change, firmly believing that this would end the vindictive behavior displayed by users in response to being blocked – mockery, abusive language, etc.

A company that fights for free speech rights of users (even when they use abhorrent language) shows their commitment towards the whole idea of tweeting; but it has a major flaw – harassment and abuse (a general case of misuse of freedom). Balancing out both has been quite a task for Twitter.

The company’s blog states, “We’ve built Twitter to help you create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. That vision must coexist with keeping users safe on the platform.”

Tweets are ‘public’ by default (an entirely private profile is of no use when you want to share ideas!) and the asymmetric following model allows anyone to follow you – whether you appreciate their presence or not. (Something that Facebook lets you decide!) The block function was an attempt to pin privacy protection of its users. Even though the block function is helpful, Twitter would need to cater for more tools for users. (Considering the latest change to ‘block’ was all in vain)

Twitter’s Chief Executive, Dick Costolo and Communications officer, Jim Prosser initially sought to justify the changes as a response to the requests from victims of abuse, but did not! Because surprisingly the protest surfaced many facts that are hard to believe (if you too are a believer of ‘busy lifestyle’) – Users who were blocked, would simply log out of their current accounts and register a new one, making the process of interacting with the person who blocked them easy breezy!

There is a speculation that Twitter might have an economic interest in changing the way this feature works – as many branded accounts or advertisers were blocked by users to avoid being spammed by their promotional tweets (and of course, the new ‘block’ curbs them no more!)

Even though individual tweets can be reported for abuse and emails can be sent to Twitter in case of illegal or perilous content, and you can block that user – is it enough to protect users on Twitter? Twitter is entangled between playing the ‘Knight in shining armor’; safeguarding users and offering a platform for free jargon (as it is in the company’s DNA)! Tweet patrolling is going to take away the open, spontaneous edge of the platform! But can the user disapproval be ignored? Apparently not, as even Twitter took into consideration the points that came forward against the ‘shadow’ blocking policy! (Ignorance is not bliss, when it is about the company’s long term success!)

Customer feedback has always been top priority to companies, as their views help better their business – listening to them, lets them know how important they are to you and to your business. The more satisfied your users are, the more viral you go (that is the power of ‘word of mouth’).  And Twitter seems to have taken to this aphorism! They offer exactly what a ‘community’ is meant to – feedback on services from their users.

Analytics and data give us the desired insights into what our users demand or expect from our business. But wouldn’t it be easier if you could just ask your users directly and save all the statistics for later?

All you need to do – be a good “LISTENER.” And here are some ‘listening tools ’you could use, the next time you need your services reviewed:

  1. Surveys: They are the bread and butter for getting feedback. They are easily created, implemented, executed and analyzed! (Keep it short!)
  2. Feedback boxes: Does your site have a defined process for receiving feedback? It is just a small box that can most certainly be adjusted! (You can’t lose out on customer comments!)
  3. User activity: Now you can use your statistics to know user interaction/ activity. (It shows how interesting (or boring) your site is!)
  4. Social listening: Listening through social media, by engaging users in surveys/ polls/ general interaction, surely ensures some candid feedback from your users. (You want the truth!)

The Walking Dead\’s Guide to Survival for Marketers

The Walking Dead is a Golden Globe winning American series that looks at a post-apocalyptic world where survivors battle flesh-eating zombies. Before you raise your eyebrows at the questionable taste of the 12 million people who tune into the show, here’s how it’s revolutionizing social television, marketing campaigns and exemplifying how to last in tough markets.

The Walking dead’s social strategy to promote itself involves:

  1. Tugging at your emotions: They rerun episodes in black and white. It adds nostalgia, gets them eyeballs (the non-zombie kind) and gives them full marks for out of the box thinking.
  2. Why change what’s perfect? : They have a follow-up segment called The Talking Dead that they air in the commercial segment which is when they introduce the hash tag around the hot topic of that particular episode that keeps Twitter abuzz. It keeps fans hooked for an extra 30 minutes after the show.
  3. It’s about you, not about them : They love conversing with their fans. They are not just airing updates on the next season. They want you to question and wonder.

They have over 20 million fans on Facebook who they constantly stay in touch with. They have an active team that constantly retweets what their 9 million followers have to say. They also let fans provide insights and participate in their extended segment.

So, what’s their secret? Their strategy involves creating light, funny, interesting, and easy to share content.  Case in point, a video that went viral which asked “Could Zombies live among us?” They know that when social media is used correctly, your fans become your marketers. So, how do you ape the success of The Walking Dead to become a smarter marketer?

Plan, Plan, Plan

Do you know that awesome marketing campaign started by that company where people had no clue what they were doing and it became a roaring success?

We don’t either. If you don’t know in which direction you are heading, you wouldn’t know what to do when the zombies (aka competition) comes calling. Taking out time to design a plan ensures that everyone’s on the same page and it’s easier to understand what went wrong and where.

Create Music, Not Noise

It’s not about how amazing your product is. It’s about how amazing people who use it are. If your brand talks about itself and not about its customers, your brand won’t last long. Your customers should be creating the noise, not you.

One Word – Timing

The Walking Dead has an amazing strategy of being where you are. Hard to believe? They position themselves in such a way to attract maximum attention – online and offline.  They know what your peak internet usage hours are. They know how long you are likely to linger in front of your television set. People won’t bother with your posts unless it hits them when they are in the right mind frame. Bad timing will pull you down faster than a zombie bite.

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Risks Will Make More Often Than They Break

The only way to be different is to be different. The Walking Dead walks into your life via zombie invasions and invading events like the ComicCon. You can populate Twitter, Facebook and Instagram but the truth is that it’s saturated. Any attention you get there is going to be short-term. Get out and reach people through a different route. For example, CDC launched an emergency preparedness kit in the form of a graphic novel known as The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide that got thousands of downloads.

No One Wins Alone

Like a zombie search, every marketing campaign needs a leader whose vision and intuition leads the group forward. In The Walking Dead, that’s Rick. However, focusing overly on leadership and power will disrupt your group and create rifts. That is what happens when Shane, Rick’s deputy gets jealous. Minimise egos on your team by ensuring that everyone does a specific job and they do what they are best at.

You Are Surrounded by Danger

The only sin bigger than ignoring your customers is ignoring your immediate surroundings.bThe competitor is closer than you think. If you do not adapt to the changing surroundings soon, you might not last that long. Remember, there is nothing worse than dying at the hands of a zombie. Manipulate your surroundings as a marketer before they kill you.

Facebook Reach Declining? It\’s Not Your Fault.

If you’ve noticed a dip in the organic Facebook reach on your Facebook page lately, you’ve most likely been panicking like most social media marketers around the world. It’s a well known fact that as your page grows, the organic reach (number of people a post is shown to without promotions) tends to slowly dip.

However, of late a multitude of Facebook pages have been showing massively decreasing Facebook reach stats – except for a special few. Not that there is any decline in the quality of the content on their page, it’s just Facebook playing with the newsfeed algorithm all over again.

Akin to the Dark Knight’s Joker saying, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free” – Facebook has decided to take his advice and implement it sadly, on the news feed algorithm. Given that Facebook’s good at helping brands reach out to their target audience, they aren’t going to let you do it for free any more. At least not as much as you’d like.

To increase organic Facebook reach on their Page’s posts, companies will have to completely revamp their Social Media Strategies, and invest more time and money to boost / promote their posts, to reach out to a larger audience.

According to Facebook’s new algorithm (we’ve lost track of which version this is) – Facebook displays more timely and relevant posts, which automatically shifts focus to creating unique content for Company pages on a regular basis. The idea is to present likeable / shareable content to the audience; and avoid being a ‘blink n miss’ or being ‘scrolled down’ at.

Mostly, we observe people sharing images/ statuses/ videos/ links on their walls, thereby increasing ‘that’ page’s reach.

Publishing houses such as the Daily Mail, the Independent have seen a vast increase in their page’s organic Facebook reach, given that Facebook’s newsfeed is now going to focus on more news. Frankly – this seems like a very bad idea.

Facebook has clearly stated on its company blog – “Ultimately, what’s good for people on Facebook is good for the businesses that use Facebook to reach and engage them. One of the ways we maintain a good balance between the two is by making sure News Feed is as interesting and timely as possible.”

Facebook might as well come out and say, “We’re going to show your posts to 5% of the people who have liked your page, and if you’d like more people to see it – throw some money at us.”

Is this fair? Probably not. Companies have vested money, time and effort into making sure that thousands of people like their pages and stay up to date with their content, only to have Facebook strip them of the right of showcasing the content that they’ve previously asked for to be shown on their newsfeed.

The only hope we have as community managers is that the next newsfeed update (which will probably happen in the next four minutes) – brings with it change that reverses this experiment.

What’s the Perfect Post Length Across Social Media Networks?

Social media is all about having a conversation. As social media executives or community managers we try various combinations to get the perfect post for maximum engagement. The brands we manage have presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus (among others like LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and more). Each of these platforms cater to a slightly different audience, and so the composition of these posts also varies accordingly.

The length of the post is one of the primary factors that determines whether your Fan or Follower, who has been overloaded with updates from various Facebook Pages and Friends, will be willing to engage with your brand. An update, complete with appealing content (including hashtags, images and links) will finally lead the Fan or Follower to interact with your post. Since every networking site is used for different purpose, the behaviour of the Fans and Followers also varies on every platform. Interestingly, research shows that people are willing to read more detailed posts on Google Plus than on Facebook. So, what’s the length of a perfect post across social media networks?

Facebook

When it comes to Facebook, we can see that most posts have a length of about 103 characters (as mentioned in Quintly Research). It has been observed that posts that have around 850 characters have received the highest post interaction i.e. a sum of Likes, Comments and Shares. I would suggest 850 characters is too much information for the Fan, and so an ideal length should vary between 2 – 4 lines approximately which is about 200 characters. A well worded post (with an attractive image preferably) and simple language has the potential to do wonders on Facebook.

Post embedded below is by Mashable – who talk about all things social.

https://www.facebook.com/mashable/posts/10152192886569705

Twitter

While most conversations on Twitter happen in 140 characters, shortened links in a tweet are a common element. In fact, one must add links to blogs, images, videos or redirect followers to the  website from the social media platform. Links take up about 22 characters in a tweet and so an ideal length of a tweet should vary between 110 – 120 characters including about 2 hashtags (which are ideal for a tweet), and/or RT @twitterhandle. The idea is to use all 140 characters, as Quintly Research also suggests that 140 characters is the “optimal posting length in order to get the most engagement” however, it was found out that the highest peak of engagement was for 22 characters.

Tweet embedded below is by another social media veteran Eric T. Tung. This tweet consists of 120 characters, complete with a Link and a @mention.

Google Plus Longer posts seem to work better on Google Plus. Post length of 156 characters appears to be the average length of posts on Google Plus according to Qunitly Research. Most of the social media marketing experts also maintain this post length while conversing with their Followers. The research also states that “there is not a real peak for Google+” which would suggest that a fixed length of post would work better than others. But, a peak in interaction can be observed at 5 characters and second highest peak is at 442 characters. I would suggest to maintain an average length of 200 characters for your regular posts, as compared to 442 characters, unless you have to give out extremely detailed update on your brand. The post embedded below belongs to Mari Smith – a renowned social media consultant – is of 157 characters only.

Click Here to View Google Plus Post

A Perfect Post

Now that we have discussed the perfect post length, here are some more suggestions on a the elements of a post for various platforms. Key aspect to keep in mind is to maintain a union between the communication done on every platform. The length of the post may vary, but the conversation being carried out across platforms should be one. Here are some Do’s of a perfect post.

Facebook Do’s

  1. Maintain the medium length of post ( 2 – 4 lines)
  2. Remove the long url from the post – instead add a shortened url
  3. Support your post with an attractive, perfectly cropped image (403 x 403 px for box image, and 803 x 403 px for Highlight image)
  4. Use relevant hashtags (preferably upto 2) to increase your post’s searchability

Twitter Do’s

  1. Maintain the 110-120 character limit (excluding @mention and link)
  2. Add RT in the start of the tweet and mention @twitter_handle to give due credit
  3. Add link (if any) in the first half of the tweet
  4. Use upto 2 hashtags (more than 2 can be an overkill, so be judicious in your hashtag selection)

Google Plus Do’s

  1. Maintain the post character limit of upto 200 characters approx
  2. Add shortened links in the post
  3. Use attractive multimedia – videos and images to support your post
  4. Use relevant hashtags to identify the category of your post. Or you can include SEO keywords in your post and #hashtag them. (Google Plus contributes heavily to SEO – so hashtags are extremely important.)

Follow these tips to make your perfect posts for all social media networking sites. Length of a post will demand the attention and, ultimately engage your Fan and Followers in a conversation with your brand.

Facebook’s New Like and Share Buttons Lead to Higher Engagement

Of late Facebook has been on an overhauling spree, from its News Feed algorithm to the significant change in their embedded posts display; the changes just don’t seem to cease! To add to the confusion, which seems to be Zuckerberg’s forte, Facebook is rolling out some new “like” and “share” buttons.

Facebook encourages people to make their posts public and share newsworthy content, and hence, optimizing this feature was very important – considering the new Facebook News Feed algorithm prefers to display more relevant and timely content.

facebook-like-and-share-redesign The redesigned Like and Share Buttons for Facebook.

The social network announced the redesign of its “like” and “share” buttons, on their developer blog, stating: “In early tests over the past month after launching the new like and share buttons, we’ve seen more than a 5 percent lift in likes and shares across the Web. This is significant, given that both buttons are viewed more than 22 billion times daily. Based on these results, we’ve rolled out the new design to everyone and extended it to the follow and like box plugins, as well.”

The stories that are generated when a customer clicks on the like and share buttons are automatically shared with their friends and family, resulting in high referral traffic; making Facebook the “single biggest” source of traffic on the internet.

So, what’s new and special about these buttons? The new buttons can be embedded on websites, easing the process of displaying the like and share buttons side-by-side or only the share or like button; encouraging user interaction and resulting in an increased number of “likes” and “shares” – something that brands seem to absolutely love.

Even though the eyes see no significant change in these buttons, their impact reportedly has been formidable – from November 2012, the time these buttons were redesigned and put under trial, the buttons combined have been viewed more than 22 billion times in a day, increasing the number of likes and shares by a whopping 5%; compared to the statistics of the previous buttons.

facebook-visits-graph Shaeaholic’s Facebook Visits

But is the mere redesign of these buttons behind this “Big Bang”? It would definitely seem so – although it would also mean that people are simply clicking the buttons because they seem new and flashy. Could it be more engaging content on Facebook pages, resulting in more likes and shares? Unlikely – given that community managers worldwide probably didn’t become content marketing geniuses at the exact same moment the new Facebook buttons were released.

Or, people are just clicking on these buttons out of curiosity. (Hmm..that’s new! What does it do?) This seems to be the most plausible right now. Don’t shoot us.

Haven’t seen or used the new buttons yet? As is the case with every Facebook change, these are gradually being released across accounts. I saw them for the first time a few days ago, while a non-social media savvy friend saw them a week ago, driving me up the wall.

Considering that the results are A-1, we’ll be seeing the updated buttons very soon. (Maybe, a year-end surprise!) The continuous overhauling screams out the company’s intention to grow as a platform for public sharing. If only they’d sort out their newsfeed fiasco and make community managers happy too.