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How To Measure Social Media Success

Matt Riley

Social media is being used increasingly to promote brands and drive visitors to web properties, but how can you be sure your strategy is working? And what constitutes success?

Measuring Social Media success

As with any form of marketing, Social Media has a cost that needs to be justified. As most networks allow free access, much of this cost is in the time required to maintain your Social Media presence through posting timely messages as well as sticky content to engage users.

With an attributed cost, there is a need to measure the benefits and this can vary; from revenue directly attributable to Social Media, through to more nebulous measurements such as the promotion of a brand or message. Consider the following, listed in descending order of measurability :

- direct clicks through to your web site from the social sites
- comments / retweets / forwarding of your posts
- clicks through to links within your posts.
- mentions of your company within posts
- the social footprint of your company

Direct measurements

Onsite: The first part is relatively straightforward. You should already have a statistics program such as Google Analytics installed on your web property. Within these tools there will be a separate section for Social Media, or within the referrers to your site you will be able to search for Twitter, Facebook etc.

On Social Properties. Within each social site you will be able to access statistics on the number of followers, the number of re-posts, the number of mentions, the number of likes. Each of these should show strong gains during a sustained social promotion campaign.

External Links. When posting links from around the web, or from your own sites, if you use a link abbreviator tool such as goo.gl you will be able to access statistics such as the number of clicks and the geographical location.

How to measure your social footprint

At first this might seem deceptively easy. Take Twitter for instance, the greater the number of ‘followers’ you have, the bigger your audience for reading your tweets. However, the absolute number is not always as good an indicator as the engagement of the audience. Each Social Network is populated by a large proportion of automated followers, zombie followers and extreme followers. These accounts will not read your posts and you will find many examples of buying folllowers, which aside from vanity measurements, hold no real value.

It is a far better measure to gauge the level of engagement with your posts.

Engaging your audience

The engagement with your posts by users demonstrates real understanding of your messages and the promotion you are carrying out. Through a combination of the direct measurements previously mentioned and real-world understanding of the types of comments you receive you will get a far better idea of how well your campaign is working.

A good way of identifying engagement is running a poll or question, which for added impact could be a competition. This kind of promotion will only really be addressed by followers who are interested in your brand or message.

In summary, there are many different ways of measuring success. A true measure involves understanding not only the headline figures, but also digging into the details and above all placing importance on the level of engagement. Given a choice between 10,000 followers with minimal interaction or 1,000 followers with active levels of engagement it should be obvious which is the most desirable.

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Choosing a Content Management System

Matt Riley

An overview of the available Content Management Systems (CMS). How and why to choose a CMS for your website.

Why use a CMS?

As websites have evolved in their complexity over the years, the demands being placed on the backend systems that run the sites have increased in line with new technologies and user expectations.

It is now the normal expectation that when a website is produced, the end-user will be able to control the majority of the content within the site, from basic content pages to blogs to the latest news. In order to do this a CMS is typically installed on the site which allows a non-technical user to quickly and easily changes these items using an interface that mimics the desktop office applications that they are familiar with.

Custom CMS versus CMS packages

For many sites a standard CMS such as those profiled below can be ‘plugged’ into the site to allow easy editing of the content. These packages offer a good degree of flexibility but there will be times that a custom CMS is required for highly specific forms of content or user demands. Examples include sites where importing of custom data is required.

For the majority of sites a standard CMS will be more than adequate and has many advantages such as a user community and many proven modules that can add extra functionality to the site. Below are profiled some of the major CMS systems.

WordPress

WordPress was originally designed as a pure blogging piece of software, but over the years it has changed into a full CMS offering with a huge user base and a regular updated core. The layout still betrays it’s ancestry as an article management program and it can be difficult to adapt to specific needs, but it remains the easiest CMS for the user to master.

Drupal

Drupal is an extremely powerful CMS with the ability to master all elements of a website from advanced forms to the menu and structure of the site. Its power does come at a usability cost, certainly for the the website programmer integrating the software and to a lesser extent the end user. It also poses the prospect of a user being able to ‘break’ the website if permissions and access is not correctly limited.

Joomla

Joomla strikes a good balance between the two previously mentioned CMS offering an appealing interface with a large amount of flexibility. It does suffer from being between the two stalls but can be a good prospect if the other two don’t seem to fit the purpose and again has excellent support.

Summary

These are the 3 main open-source CMS available. There are a multitude of other offerings with many specialised features, but using one of the big 3 gives unrivalled support and functionality through the wider communities engaged in each system

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Making the most of Social Media

Matt Riley

When looking to drive traffic to your website, the first item on any webmaster’s list is ‘Search Engines’ but a new force in traffic generation is ‘Social Media’ and not only can it give large amounts of pre-filtered users, it can also help with retention and loyalty – something that is often lost in the mercenary world of Search Engines.

 

Using Social Media allows you to connect with a targeted set of pre-filtered users that already share an affinity for your product and keep your site on their radar on a regular basis.

 

There are many Social Media sites and these are detailed in separate headings below, but despite the marked differences they share a common set of goals. Users will ‘subscribe’ to a feed that can be a company or an interest group and will read updates posted by the feed whenever they log onto their network. In posting regular, useful updates a feed can promote a company or a service and gather subscribers in a similar way to a traditional newletter. This is the process simplified but the potential for engagement varies from network to network.

 

Below are a number of the key movers in the Social Media arena. This is a fast evolving area and new sites are launching, often with specialised functions or niches to challenge the larger names.

 

- Facebook

This is the main social network, known by everyone. It is primarily a non-business environment but a corporate page can be a good way to engage with users.

 

- Twitter

Also well known. The character limit placed on posts means that an element of skill is needed to ensure that effective, unambiguous communication is made but the medium lends itself to regular small updates to retain user loyalty.

 

- Google +

A direct challenger to Facebook, it has the backing of Google and the promise of closer integration into Google’s many other products.

 

- LinkedIn

This is a specialist business network to enable business professionals to ‘network’ in the business sense of the word. Limited promotion here works best for B2B businesses.

 

- Youtube

The internet’s biggest video-sharing network. Particularly good for brands with products / services that can be best represented in video.

 

- Pinterest

For visually sharing elements of the internet with like-minded people this has a ‘craft’ or arts feel and works well with Fashion, Arts brands.

 

Also worth considering;

Instagram Р Picture sharing network

Vine – Short-video sharing network

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Getting the most of out Google Tools

Matt Riley

sites

 

To most people ‘Google’ means just the search engine, and this remains the most visible part of Google’s growing number of services. However, for the website owner there are several tools that can prove invaluable in running and maintaining a website.

 

Google Analytics

http://www.google.com/analytics/

 

This is now the preeminent website analytics tool, requiring just a few lines of code to be added to your site and giving a vast array of different reports. Detailed analysis of website visitors, pages and usage patterns is essential to running a website and refining how users interact with it. Common tasks involve locating pages with missing files, entry and exit pages, and even linking through to Adwords to identify the best time to run adverts.

 

Google Maps

http://www.google.com/local/add/

 

Google Maps is a comprehensive mapping tool that is accessible via the main search engine and is often used to get directions or locate places. Within this it is also possible to list your business in the Google Local directory. This ensures your business will appear when local searches are carried out. You can add photos, and contact details to give a full overview of your business to search users.

 

Google Webmaster

https://www.google.com/webmasters/

 

For non-technical users, there can be a lot of information on here that needs interpretating, but Webmaster is an indispensible early-warning system for potential problems with your website. Anything that may impact the indexing of your website by Google’s ‘Googlebot’ is highlighted so that you, or your web-programmer can address the issues.

 

Google Keywords Tool

https://adwords.google.com/o/KeywordTool

 

Although this tool is primarily intended for their paid Adwords programme, the Keywords tool makes an excellent research tool for keywords to integrate into your website content, title tags and description tag.  It give an exhaustive list of which words are searched and groups them by synonyms. Careful use of this tool can give you the best ideas for landing pages and product descriptions to maximise the potential visitors.

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Measure Twice, Cut Once – Designing for different devices

Matt Riley

Currently we are in the middle of a profound change in the way ‘websites’ or ‘connected information’ is being consumed by customers and users. Up until a couple of years ago, the standard user was simple to define – they would sit at their desktop computer, open a web browser and navigate to a website – often at a standard resolution.

With the rise of Mobile Devices and Tablets that is no longer the case. The consumption of Connected Information can take place at wildly differing resolutions , on websites or Apps . As such there are 3 distinct strategies being employed in today’s marketplace.

1. No change.
Although not a progressive change, this can be a valid strategy. Many tablet devices have a similar resolution to a desktop machine and many mobile devices have no problem displaying a website designed for a higher resolution with the use of pinch-and-zoom gestures. The user experience can suffer as the view point is not tailored to their device and moving around the site and navigating around is much harder. The user may however prefer the familiarity of the desktop site and all of the functionality that can be missing on a cut-down version of the site ( see below ).

2. Device / Resolution Specific Apps / Websites
Designing a site or an App for a specific device can give a tailored and highly usable experience for the user. Doing so gives the best possible version for each device, but entails a lot of work catering to each device. Making changes or updates to a number of different information silos can be painstaking and each device upgrade may also entail additional work.

3. Responsive Web Design / HTML5 Apps
Both of these are buzzwords in their respective areas. Responsive Web Design or RWD entails having a single site, as per option 1 but with technologies that allow the resizing of the site to fit the device’s resolution. HTML5 is a way of designing an app that will work across devices on a common technology platform and again offers the appeal of designing once and appearing on different devices at an optimal user level.

As you would imagine, option 3 is generally seen as The Way Forward allowing a single point of information re-formatted for the specific device and offering an upgradeable, flexible approach to presenting information to the end user. Time taken to ‘measure’ each device and format accordingly means that future changes will only require you to ‘cut once’ .

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Search Engine Marketing – there’s no such thing as ‘free’

Matt Riley

 

There are two distinct forms of Search Engine Marketing that are normally defined as:

1. Pay Per Click (PPC)
Essentially, you pay the Search Engine every time someone clicks on your advert. These are displayed at the top or right of the main search listings

2. Organic Listings
These are the core of the search listings. You can not pay the Search Engine directly to be placed here.

As first glance the second option of Organic Listings may seem to appeal because each click is ‘free’, and indeed sometimes through good design and luck your site might appear at the top of these listings. But a growing part of these listings is dictated by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) whereby an SEO specialist is paid to enhance the ranking of your website via a variety of methods.

Because the SEO process is constantly evolving and your competitors will be continuously attempting to approve their own listings, especially in competitive categories, the SEO is best done on a monthly basis and as such each click made via this method can have a cost comparable to PPC marketing.

If an SEO campaign is successfully built, it can prove more cost-effective in the long run as highly rated websites will continue to bring in visitors for a fixed cost irrespective of how many clicks it can get.

Where PPC advertising really wins is in the immediate effect it can have and the high degree of precision that it gives, both in terms of guaranteed results and highly specific targeting. Unlike SEO though, as soon as you stop paying for listings, your site will stop receiving those clicks.

Both types of Search Engine Marketing are effective, and often are at their most effective when used together. But just be aware that in competitive markets there is no such thing as ‘free’.

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