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Paid Advertising on Social Media

Published September 22, 2016 in Business , Marketing , Social Media - 0 Comments
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social-media-management-1Paid advertising on social media is a tricky beast.

OK, let’s just be blunt – for the purposes of this post, “social media” means Facebook and Twitter. And let’s be even more blunt – don’t even bother with paid advertising on Twitter. Save your money, flush it down the drain, or – if you really must do something with it – send it my way. It’ll do you more good. At least I will say something nice about you for it!

I’ve worked with paid tweets on Twitter over three businesses now. It’s not so much that the results have been poor. It’s that the results have been nonexistent. That’s right: zero, zilch, nada – not a damn thing. Morgon and I experimented a fair amount with them and nothing worked at all.

With that said… I do think that someone with a larger Twitter following could see something from it. Even then, however, I suspect that the ROI would be atrocious. The short answer with Twitter is simple. Don’t waste your money.

Paid advertising on Facebook, on the other hand, has provided results. The ROI is not fantastic, but it’s been better than some other advertising we’ve done. The thing about Facebook’s paid advertising, however, is that you have to be smart about how you use it.

The main reason I think Facebook is more successful than Twitter on this front is because Facebook gives you – the user – far more control. Facebook actually gives you a lot of options. Too many options, in some ways. But what really makes it usable is the controls they give you for ad targeting. Specifically, Facebook gives you three kinds of control that Twitter simply doesn’t.

First, Facebook lets you target ads locally – not just locally, but hyper-locally. I can target ads to a country, state, or city. Nice, right? Or I can target one particular zip code. Or I can even give it a specific address and a radius around that address. For a local business this is phenomenal. I’ve seen research that shows that, on average, 80% of martial arts students pick a dojo within 3 miles of their home. So when I advertise my dojo on Facebook, I target that advertising to a three mile radius of the actual facility. It means I’m not wasting money on ads hitting people a continent away who would never possibly become students anyway. Hyper-local advertising is great.

Second, Facebook lets me specifically target ads to people who have already liked my page. Bonus: it gives me access to a secondary target group: people who are friends with people who have liked my page. This works great for boosted posts on Facebook. Fans of the page like the post early. Then their friends see it in their feed – and Facebook shows them that their friends have already liked the post and/or the page. It does this by name – you get a nice little marker “Russell Newquist and 8 others liked this post.” Preselection is extremely useful in marketing.

Third, Facebook has a lot of information about its users – and it lets you use that in ad targeting. For example, if I’m advertising a youth martial arts class, I can specifically target that ad to Facebook users who are parents. You can target ads in many other ways as well: age, gender, relationship status, language. I’ve had less luck targeting people by “interests,” but the feature is there.

These are just a few ways that I’ve used Facebook’s paid advertising successfully. There’s a lot there to work with – and someone smarter than me can probably make better use of it. I’ve also found that I get far better results for my dojo than I get for my books. However, I suspect that much of that comes from not having yet figured out how to maximize the available features for book sales.

Twitter has some middling location targeting features, and some middling user targeting features. But in the end, it has nothing like this. One partial reason is because Twitter simply doesn’t have this kind of information on its users in the same way that Facebook does. But another reason is that they’re not using what they have anywhere near as well. Is it any wonder Twitter’s stock price continues tanking?

My Twitter Analytics Are Seriously Fubarred

Published June 14, 2016 in Social Media - 0 Comments
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For the past several days, my Twitter Analytics have been… well, broken. First let’s take a look at them. Here’s a screen cap from just a few moments ago. I’ll fill in some actual numbers below.

analytics_fubared

The visual should be enough to show that something is off. Notice the sudden fall off in impressions (the blue bars) beginning on Sunday. Notice also that my rate of tweets per day hasn’t really changed much. It’s fluctuated well within the same range as the last 28 days.

But the numbers will really drive it home. First, in the last 10 days I’ve increased my Twitter followers by nearly 50%. One would therefore expect my impressions to generally increase, not fall off (ignore the spikes; those are days when high profile Twitter users retweeted me). But that last bar is the kicker – the one you can barely see. That’s for Wednesday, June 14 (I know… that’s tomorrow. For some reason my Twitter analytics reset the day at 7PM. I don’t get it either). That bar shows three organic impressions for the day. But that tweet was posted after the reset, and you can clearly see that it’s gotten 792 impressions in that time (more now).

What gives?

The last several days are like this. If I total the tweets manually, I get far more than Twitter is claiming I’ve gotten.

It gets crazier. This actually started happening to me on Thursday. Don’t see it in the graph? That’s because on Saturday the bars for Thursday and Friday suddenly jumped up to the levels you see now. Before that, they’d looked a lot more like today and yesterday did.

At first I thought I was shadowbanned again. I’m pretty sure it’s happened to me more than once. Traffic to my blog – especially traffic from Twitter – is also down. But blog traffic is only down a little, not by as much as this chart would suggest. But it’s clearly not that – or at least, not just a shadowban.

I’m not the only one. It’s happened to Morgon as well. And now this:


Twitter’s analytics are quite clearly broken. Something is horribly wrong with them.

Updates:

After several discussions with others on Twitter, notably Mark Kern (@Grummz) and Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich), this appears to be a) very widespread and b) a bug, not censorship. It also seems that individual tweet metrics are correct (as best as we can tell) and it’s only the cumulative totals that are off. Also, Mr. Cernovich noted (I believe correctly, from my data) that there appears to be roughly a 2-day lag in Twitter getting its analytics updated.

Update 2 (6/20/16):

My numbers seem to be correct on Twitter analytics now. However, mouseovers are still broken. The position of the mouse doesn’t map correctly onto my charts.

Amazon Giveaway Follow-Up

Published June 14, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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BetweenTheWallAndTheFireLast week I ran an Amazon giveaway and reported on my initial results. Here’s a bit more of an in-depth analysis a week later. First, a brief look at what happened overnight:

Within an hour and a half I’d gained 100 Twitter followers. To put that in perspective, I gained 147 followers throughout the entire month of May. As of this morning when I write this, I’ve increased from 436 Twitter followers to 631, a total increase of 195 followers or a 44% jump. The contest is not yet over as of this writing – there’s still one more eBook to give away.

Book sales are up – and by more than the units that I paid for. This experiment happened as part of the book launch, so I can’t tell for sure that it’s directly related to this giveaway. But book sales are actually up as compared to the previous day.

Good results, right? Yes – and I’m definitely glad I did it. However, the rest of the week didn’t live up to that first rush.

I scheduled the giveaway for 3 books, with a 1-in-100 chance of winning. That should have netted between 200 and 300 followers – and it did. My follower count went from the 436 followers noted above to a peak of 702 followers over the weekend. However…

The first two books went quickly, with 195 followers literally overnight. That was great. But it took another five days to finish the giveaway and award the third book, and also to hit that peak.

What does this tell us? Does that mean this is a one time deal? I don’t think so. I think it tells us two things.

First, a large portion of that gain in followers likely came from people who already followed me retweeting it. In other words, it was friends of friends. This is good and bad. Many of those followers are likely to stay, which is good. On the other hand, that resource is probably tapped out for the near future – until I gain significantly more new followers, or manage to convert a large portion of this batch of new followers into actual “fans.”

Second, as small as it was this singular giveaway probably saturated the market. That means that running one every day or even every week is going to hit diminishing returns very quickly. My guess is that the sweet spot will be running one once a month or even once a quarter. I think that once a month might work OK if you’re giving away multiple products and can cycle through them. Once a quarter would work a lot better if you only have one product. Even with multiple products, once a month might be too often. I plan to experiment further to nail this down. Either way, I don’t expect to pull of overnight 44% growth again. I believe that getting that kind of growth was largely a function of having such a low follower count to begin with.

So far I’ve maintained an overwhelming majority of those followers – but they have started to trickle off. I’m down into the low 690s now, so I’ve lost about 10 followers of the 266 I gained during this event (about 4% of them). I expect to drop more over the rest of the month, although it might be hard to tell as they trickle away and I continue to gain new followers on a day-to-day basis. I expected to lose many of these followers, and 4% after one week isn’t bad at all. It’s actually far better retention than I’d expected.

The units that I paid for did count as actual sales. They showed up on my KDP sales dashboard, and they did effect sales rank on Amazon. However, this effect was diminished due to the length of time it took for the contest to end. All three sales showed up at once at the very end of the giveaway. Had they shown up at the beginning – when sales were already good from our launch – they might have propelled the book into the top 20 for its category. As it was, they didn’t even push the book back into the top 100.

Given this, and the way Amazon’s sales rank algorithm works, I think the best use of this kind of giveaway is during a product launch. Experiment beforehand and get a good idea of the right way to setup your giveaway to ensure that it ends early and the sales show up in your launch ranking, helping to propel you to a better slot as part of your launch. But realize that if you try to game the system by buying a particularly good sales rank, you’ll probably have to buy far more copies than you’ll sell as a result. In other words, the value of this is likely to be limited.

At the same time, you’ll want to make sure that you have a good number of reviews up early. If we’d had more reviews up when the giveaway happened, I think we’d have had far more success with it.

The final verdict is that this is an immensely useful tool when used properly. But don’t let my click-bait headline from the last post fool you – it’s not going to cure all of your sales woes, at least not on its own.

Every Social Media Platform Is Different. Treat Them That Way

Published June 10, 2016 in Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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social-media-management-1Every social media platform is different. If you want to maximize your use of social media to promote your business or brand, you need to treat them differently. Understand the ecosystem on each platform – and also learn to understand the quirks and subtleties.

My first forays into social media came when I was opening my dojo, and I totally missed the boat on this point. I got my hands on social media automation tools and tried to use them to send the exact same content to multiple platforms. That didn’t work out very well. Over time I learned what made each platform unique by focusing on one at a time until I felt like I had a handle on it. Here are a few tips for how to deal with different platforms differently.

Don’t over-automate it. Facebook has tools that can auto-share your Facebook posts to Twitter. Twitter has similar tools that can share your tweets back to Facebook. I recommend skipping them. It seems like a great plan – write your social media content once and then you’re done! But they’re not friendly to your followers. Facebook’s “share to Twitter” feature basically ends up Tweeting something like, “look at my Facebook post!” Well, your Twitter followers don’t want to. They’re on Twitter. They don’t want to switch to an entirely different platform to see your content. The reverse option is not as bad. But I still recommend tailoring your content to each platform individually.

Facebook is more personal and intimate. Facebook is all about “friends.” Most Facebook users aren’t following a thousand celebrities. The people on their “friends” lists are mostly people they have some sort of actual relationship with. This is a side-effect of Facebook requiring the “friend” designation to be two-way: both users must approve it, and it opens up both users to see each others’ feeds. As a result, the relationships between users are generally high trust and close. This in turn amplifies the “pre-selection effect” – ie, the effect that when one person says something is good, his friends think it must be good because he said so. This is a tremendous help for my dojo, which is a very personal business that cultivates personal relationships. Most students like it when I share stuff about their achievements, such as belt test photos and the like. Also, their friends see that and think, “hey, that looks cool.” It’s better than any advertisements I’ve ever paid for.

Facebook is also more local than most social media. It’s not hyper-local. People have lots of friends all over the country, and even the world. But the bidirectional nature of Facebook relationships keeps it more local than many other social media. This again makes it great for my dojo. But it’s less effective (though not ineffective by any means!) for national or global branding and promotion.

Twitter is much less personal. The one-way nature of following people means that there are quite a few people who follow brands, celebrities, artists, companies… you name it. It’s also heavy on the “news” content (I use the term lightly; “gossip” is often more accurate). That makes it great for pushing out info about your brand.

Twitter is very fast paced. Twitter is all about the “now.” Instant updates, very current events. A lot of people use it for news these days, and very often you’ll find news there that’s far more up to date than any other source. You have to keep up. One or two posts a day can be plenty on Facebook. On Twitter, nobody will even notice you if you’re that infrequent.

Google Plus is kind of a weird hybrid of the two. It’s the far smaller social network, and it lives in its own world. It’s got some of the intimacy of Facebook (though not as much) and some of the globalism of Twitter.

Instagram is all about the visuals. Nobody even cares about anything that’s not a picture. That makes it awesome for certain kinds of businesses and almost useless for others.

LinkedIn is all about professional connections. It’s a great way to network with other professionals in your field. If you’re in business-to-business sales, it’s probably useful for marketing. Outside of that, I have yet to find a good use for it.

This list is hardly exhaustive, of course. The trick is to know your platform, and to know how it applies to your brand.

How I Increased My Twitter Followers By 44% Overnight

Published June 6, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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BetweenTheWallAndTheFireLast night I decided to run an experiment as part of the book launch for Between the Wall and the Fire. I tried out Amazon’s “product giveaway” promotional tool. The tool has some nice features. You can give away very nearly any item in the store and use that for promotional purposes. It lets you pick the way that prizes are awarded and how many to award. And it gives you four nice options for how to use the contest to promote whatever it is you’re promoting.

Obviously, in this case, I chose to give away Between the Wall and the Fire. Amazon will let you give away almost all physical products. Ebooks are now eligible as well. It looks like most other digital products are not eligible at this time.

Amazon offers three variants of the contest. First is the “random” type. You select the number of prices to give away and the odds of winning. I gave away three eBooks and selected a “1 in 100” chance of winning. Amazon doesn’t give details of their algorithm, but it seems like this works by giving each entrant a 1% chance of winning. Once all prizes are given away, the giveaway ends. As you can see, this doesn’t guarantee any given number of entrants. They also offer the “lucky number” version. I could have selected this and enforced that every 100th entrant would win. That would have guaranteed me 300 entrants. Finally, they have the “first come, first serve” model. I could have had the first three people win. In my case, that wouldn’t have done much for me.

Amazon actually gives you five ways to let people enter, but one is of minimal utility. The first is to require entrants to “follow” your author page on Amazon. This has some nice benefits. The biggest is that Amazon e-mails your followers every time you put out a new book. I’ll be using this option in the future, but this time I skipped it and opted for the second option: require entrants to follow a Twitter account. I could also have chosen to have them watch a video, either through YouTube or Amazon. Finally, I could have opted to have no extra requirements, but that wouldn’t have been particularly useful.

There’s one big downside to Amazon product giveaways: you have to pay full price for everything you giveaway – even if it’s your own book. Thankfully, Between the Wall and the Fire is only $2.99 right now, so I only spent about $9.00. Also, I believe that each of these counts as a regular sale of the product, so we should get the 70% royalty rate on that, making the effective cost about $2.97.

When I’m experimenting, I like to keep it cheap!

So, how well did it work?

Within an hour and a half I’d gained 100 Twitter followers. To put that in perspective, I gained 147 followers throughout the entire month of May. As of this morning when I write this, I’ve increased from 436 Twitter followers to 631, a total increase of 195 followers or a 44% jump. The contest is not yet over as of this writing – there’s still one more eBook to give away.

Book sales are up – and by more than the units that I paid for. This experiment happened as part of the book launch, so I can’t tell for sure that it’s directly related to this giveaway. But book sales are actually up as compared to the previous day.

What about the long term effects? I don’t know yet. I do know that the extra sales have helped push us into the top 100 for our category, and that will probably have some good effects for at least the next few days. Unfortunately, I suspect that a lot of the new Twitter followers will unfollow me by the end of the month. But I also think that I’ll keep some portion of them as long term followers.

A few downsides: contest entries slowed way down after the first two hours. The first two books were already awarded before I went to bed last night. As of this writing, the third still hasn’t been. I have no idea how long it will take for it to go.

For the tiny price I paid, however, this has been an unqualified success. It’s definitely a tool that I’ll be using again.

Automate Your Social Media

Published May 31, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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If you’re using social media to promote yourself or your brand, you need to be taking advantage of automation. You can’t live on social media all day. Well, you can – but then you won’t be doing any of the other things you need to do to keep your brand value high. Most of all, you won’t be making the products or performing the services that you actually get paid for. But social media doesn’t stop and it doesn’t sleep. So automate it.

As human beings, tools are our birthright – so put them to use for you. There are lots of choices on the market. I currently have Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn accounts for myself and three businesses. I use HootSuite because it lets me manage multiple social media accounts on multiple platforms from a single control panel. It allows me to schedule posts in advance, bulk upload posts, use auto-scheduling features (it schedules based on historical data to maximize engagement). I can send the same post to multiple social media accounts or tweak them all individually. I also use the SNAP (Social Network Auto Poster) plugin for WordPress for this blog.

You’ll want to experiment and read up to decide what the best social media schedule is for you. But to help you out, here’s a brief outline of what I do, followed by some results. First, I use built-in WordPress functionality on this blog to write posts ahead of time and schedule them to go live when I want to. I strive for 2 posts a day Monday through Friday, although I don’t always meet that goal. My experience so far has been that weekends are a slow time on blog traffic. It’s also a time when I have important things to do (like relax!). And although I sometimes write posts days ahead of time, often I’m only running a night or so ahead. So I don’t worry about weekend posts unless I just have a burning need to get a post out. I also use the SNAP plugin to make sure that these posts are pushed out to all of my personal social media accounts at the same time that they go live on this blog.

For Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, I leave it alone there. By the nature of those feeds, doing more than that is somewhat spammy. Twitter is a different beast altogether. Remember when I said that social media is your short game? Twitter is the extra-extra short game. Twitter is the “blink and you miss it” game. So I use HootSuite to schedule five Tweets a day on my personal Twitter feed linking back to this blog. Monday through Friday I usually focus on recent content. On the weekends, I focus on older but “timeless” content – posts that are still relevant even if I wrote them months ago.This may seem a bit spammy at first. But if you use Twitter regularly you know that most people will only scroll back through their feed for an hour or three when they log in. Then they’re done and they’re off – most likely until the next day. That’s as many as 23 hours that they’ve completely missed! So retweeting your content throughout the day won’t actually bother most users – it just means that they’ll actually see it.

On my dojo’s Facebook, Google+, and Twitter feeds, I make it a point to have some sort of picture posted daily. Typically I’ll mix it up – some will be funny memes. Some will be motivational. Some will be commentary on martial arts related things. Others will just be cool pictures. Those have gotten me a pretty good bit of interaction. On the Silver Empire feeds, I mostly keep a stream of Silver Empire related news going – calls for submissions, new products, etc. There’s room for improvement on both of these business fronts.

Remember when I said I’d post results? Two weeks ago I shared a snapshot of my Twitter analytics showing that my tweets had made 107,000 impressions in the previous 28 day period. That’s an average of 3800 impressions per day. Here’s the results from this morning:

TwitterAnalytics_05_2016

In two weeks, I’ve raised that up to 251,000 impressions – an average of 8,900 per day. That’s two and a half times higher.  Measured in pageviews, blog traffic in May was nearly three times higher than April. If you compare to the screenshot 15 days ago, you’ll also see that my follower count has increased by 19% in two weeks. Google analytics shows that a full two thirds of my traffic in May came from social media. At the same time, “direct traffic” (people coming here just to come here) has doubled in May as well – which means that at least some of those readers are now coming back of their own accord. In other words, these strategies are clearly working.

I only started rolling out these strategies over the month of May. And they weren’t completely implemented until just a week or two ago. That means that June should continue to show strong growth over May in all of these areas as the full effect of automation hits. Best of all, I have also seen a small uptick in book sales in May as compared to April, although this effect is definitely lagging the other changes. I expect that effect to be even bigger over time than it has been so far.

Don’t try to automate everything. You need to still have personal interaction in your social media. But automation can reap huge rewards. If you’re not using it, you need to be.

Blogging is Your Long Game

Published May 24, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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blogging2As I discussed last week, social media is your short game. It’s important, and you can’t neglect it. But if you’re trying to build a lasting web presence, blogging is equally critical. It’s your long game, and you’ll pay the price if you neglect it.

Too many people start a blog to promote their business or brand without knowing why they need one or how it will help them. Without these crucial elements, blogging is nearly pointless (from a business perspective). You must know what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. I’ve already written several posts discussing why blogging is important. I’ve talked about why building blog traffic is both harder and easier than it used to be. I’ve talked about why both inbound and outbound links are critical for your blog’s success. I’ve explained why your blog should be ad free. But why does blogging actually work? What is it that you’re actually trying to accomplish with your blog?

A well run blog will help you on two fronts: it will help you build a relationship with your readers and it will help you gain visibility with search engines such as Google.

Blogging is all about building a relationship with your readers, but I’m going to gloss over that part today. People have written a ton about it. The only point I’m going to emphasize is that this is a process that takes time – lots of time. You can’t expect overnight results from it.

Today, though, I’m going to get a bit more technical and focus on why blogging helps you so much with search engines. Inbound links are important for this – critical even. But I’ve already written a whole post about that. Here’s the other big reason blogging helps you so much: content quantity. Raw quantity is important. Everyone tells you that you should set a blogging schedule and keep to it. I’m going to tell you that that schedule should be as aggressive as you can find the time for. Get as much content out there as you can – but not all in one post.

A high post count on your blog will help you in many ways with the search engines. First, as I mentioned before, outbound links from your blog are huge – especially those sidebar links. The more posts you have, the more pages Google sees. The more pages Google sees, the more times it sees those sidebar links. This post will be my 183rd on this blog. So those sidebar links show up 183 times, right? Wrong. Due to the nature of blogging software, Google recognizes the sidebar links on this blog at least 367 times (based on information from Google Webmasters). Holy cow! How did that happen?

Let’s consider WordPress because it’s what I use for this blog (but realize that pretty much all blogging software works the same way these days). When I create a new post, that’s not the only thing that happens. My main page is updated. But my main page only shows up to 10 posts on it. When post number 11 goes live, WordPress now creates a second page. You can see that if you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the main page and find the link that says, “Older Posts.” When I hit post 21, it has to create another page. And so on. 183 posts means 19 pages, just in the main stream. See all those “categories” listed on my sidebar? Each one of them has at least one page of their own. But for each category, when the magic is hit then another page gets created. Click my author name at the top of this post and another multi-page stream is created, showing all the posts written by me. Since this is a single author blog, it won’t look any different than the main stream – but Google sees an entirely separate set of pages.

Each of these pages gets to “vote” by linking other places. In a well setup blog, each of these pages will link back to your homepage. And they’ll usually link to other important pages on your site. And, of course, if you’ve followed my advice they’ll link to your business pages. Pretty nice, isn’t it?

It gets better.

Google likes big sites. All else being equal, a large site will rank better in Google’s search results than a small site. So the more raw content you create on your blog, the more Google will like it. The bigger your site is, the more often Google will check it for updates. That means that anything new you add will make it into Google’s results faster. Pro tip: Google also likes it when you update frequently, so posting regularly will help trigger Google to scan your blog more frequently, too. Not too shabby!

But there’s one last reason that’s a biggie – perhaps the biggest of all. Every author has a unique writing style.

Try this test:

  1. Pick one of your blog posts at random.
  2. Pick a paragraph of text at random.
  3. Copy that text.
  4. Paste it into Google – but be sure to put quotation marks around it! (This triggers Google’s “exact match” functionality)
  5. Hit the search button and check your results.

I bet you a dollar that the only result you got was your own page (or somebody quoting you directly). Leave a comment here if you get different results. If I can verify it, I’ll pay up! Now try the experiment again with three sentences. Two. One. Your writing is unique. How little of it do you need for Google to uniquely point to you?

OK, you’re thinking, what’s the point? The point is that sooner or later somebody is going to come along and search for a topic you’ve written about using a particular combination of words that nobody other than you is using. With a whole paragraph, your writing style is unique. But for a small sentence fragment, it’s merely rare. It doesn’t matter if there are ten million pages on that subject. Google thinks that yours is the match because your word choice matches that person’s choice for that topic. So that person sees your page on his search results, clicks it, loves your post, and boom, you’ve got a new long-term reader!

Great, but that’s just one guy. Right? Sure – if you’ve only got one page of content. But what if you had hundreds of pages? Thousands? And then what happens when those readers start sharing and linking to your blog content, or effectively “upvoting” it to Google? Over time the search engines come to love you, and more and more traffic comes your way.

As I mentioned, this blog has fewer than 200 posts. Yet I now get a very steady stream of daily traffic from Google and other search engines. I’ve upped my schedule recently to two posts a day (on weekdays). So far I’ve managed to hit it. Don’t stress about it too much if you miss it every now and then. At that rate, I’ll double my current post count in less than 19 weeks, or about five months. Based on previous experience, I expect that to more than triple my incoming traffic from Google.

Now imagine that spread not over months but over years. Not hundreds of pages but thousands – maybe tens of thousands. The power that has on the search engines is massive, and it’s yours for the taking.

But it isn’t going to happen overnight. And that’s why blogging is your long game.

Social Media is Your Short Game

Published May 20, 2016 in Blogging , Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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Social media is a really useful tool for promoting yourself and your brand. With some changes and improvements I’ve made over the last few weeks, social media now accounts for almost three quarters of the daily sessions coming into this blog.

Twitter alone accounts for nearly 60% of the incoming traffic now. I’ve upped my Twitter game substantially, and the results are readily apparent. This blog got more traffic from May 1 through May 15 than it got in all of April. That holds true whether you measure it by sessions or by pageviews. And I expect another big growth wave as I branch out into other social networks and study the right ways to optimize traffic from those sources.

But social media is your short game.

The traffic from social media is ephemeral. The traffic from social media has a high bounce rate (the visitors who only look at one page on your site). Most who come in from social media are one time visitors. Social media visitors are far less likely to leave comments on your actual blog – but far more likely to talk about it on social media, so there’s a trade-off! But worst of all, the traffic flow is here today and gone tomorrow. If you don’t keep active on the social media every day, that traffic comes to a halt. The picture below represents traffic from Twitter after one particular influencer retweeted a blog posting of mine last week.

TwitterTrafficFalloff

Note the large spike and then the quick fall-off afterward. That’s not a snapshot over a period of days – that’s over a period of hours. Now, keep in mind that Twitter is the shortest of short game. Even in social media terms, Twitter is ephemeral. The tweets are gone quickly. Facebook moves at a much slower pace. And Google+ seems to have a nice staying presence in Google’s actual search results. But in general, you need to understand that any given post on social media doesn’t stay around on people’s radar for very long.

This doesn’t in any way mean that you should be neglecting social media. This one retweet by one influencer brought in more sessions in one day than I got in most months in 2015 (when I wasn’t doing much to promote this blog). But the following day, traffic was back to very close to normal. To sustain the traffic, you have to keep hammering away at the social media every single day.

But the key point that I want to make is, social media is the short game and must be treated like it. Spend time on it, but don’t neglect your long game. What’s the long game, you ask? Come back next week and we’ll talk about that!

Followers Aren’t Everything

Published May 16, 2016 in Business , Social Media - 0 Comments
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Everyone these days is using social media to promote your business, your product, your service, or yourself. And what’s the first metric everyone turns to? The number of followers you have. Make no mistake, that’s an important number. But it’s not the most important one. Followers aren’t everything.

Sales > Conversions > Engagements > Impressions > Followers

Remember, your number one goal is to get paid. So sales are the first metric you need to be tracking, and that’s the number you need to ultimately be focused on raising. Everything else on the list is just a tool to help you with that – just like social media itself. You have a lot of social media followers. So what? Or maybe you don’t have very many at all. Again, so what? Let me show you a quick screen grab of my Twitter analytics as of Friday. This is just a snapshot of one social media platform. You’ll always want to use every platform you have – and you’ll want to analyze them about the same way.

My Twitter Analytics as of 5/13/2016

My Twitter Analytics as of 5/13/2016

Impressions are how many times your content has been seen (in this case, tweets). As you can see, I don’t have a particularly high follower count – only 344 followers. But move your eyes over a little bit to the left to that second number: 107 thousand impressions over the four week period shown. There are folks out there who could certainly do better. But as far as impressions go, I’ve done quite well with the followers that I have.

Engagements are how many times somebody has interacted with your content (again, in this case a tweet). Twitter says I have an engagement rate for this period of 2.4%, which comes out to roughly 2568 engagements. That number includes people liking and retweeting my tweets, or responding to them. It includes people who click through the links to wherever they go. It includes people following me after seeing a tweet, or clicking through to my profile. A 2.4% engagement rate isn’t terrible, but it could be better.

Conversions are far more valuable than engagements, however. And conversions are kind of defined by you. Conversions are usually sales related – somebody actually bought something from you. But often they can be useful to track non-monetary transactions. You can also think of somebody signing up for an e-mail list as a conversion, for example. Since my primary goal with social media is to increase traffic to this blog and awareness of my businesses, let’s think of somebody clicking through to one of those sites as a “conversion.”

Digging through my Google Analytics history shows that those 2568 engagements led to at least 800 pageviews on this blog. It’s more than that, because Google Analytics doesn’t always show someone coming from Twitter as coming from Twitter. Sometimes they show up as “direct traffic.” But I don’t know how much of my “direct traffic” came from Twitter, so we’ll stick with the 800 pageviews value. We can confirm that. Also, this is just from one of the three sites that I promote on Twitter. That means that on Twitter, I’m converting approximately one third of my engagements into my goal (site traffic) – probably much more when you include my other sites. That’s not bad!

Ultimately you want to track how many of those visits convert into actual sales. Sorry guys, but that information I keep confidential! I do track it, however, and you should do the same. The ultimate goal is to get paid. If you’re not getting as many sales as you’d like, you need to check every level of this chain and see where you’re deficient. As we can see from the chain above, my follower count is low. But we can also see that it’s growing quickly. It grew almost 20% in this period. I’m doing well on impressions per follower, and we can also see from this result that this is something I’ve improved quite a bit recently. I expect it to improve even more in the next 28 days as I implement new processes to help automate my social media. My engagement rate isn’t bad, but it could be better. 4-5% would be a good target. That’s definitely something for me to work on. On the other hand, I’m converting a large number of those engagements into pageviews. At the moment, that’s not where I need to put my energy!

If you’re focused on your low follower count, you’re looking at the problem wrong. You need to be ensuring that you’re doing the most that you can with the followers that you have. If your followers are engaging with your content, you will grow more followers with time. So make sure that you get those impression and engagement numbers up! And always remember to analyze every level of the flow to make sure that your focus is where it needs to be.