If you have a Facebook Page, you’ve probably already heard that Timeline changes take effect on March 30. These changes will impact the way you organize and present information on your company's Facebook page, which naturally will impact the message it conveys. At Vodori, we've been thinking a lot about what these changes will mean for brands—in particular for healthcare brands, which represent a large portion of our clients.
1. First impressions:
Pages are no longer able to select a custom landing page—all fans are directed to the Wall, which is now called the “Timeline.” At the top of the Timeline is a cover photo (more about this below). This redesign relegates the profile picture to a smaller corner. Due to this shrinkage, if your profile picture contained any text content (such as contact info, or Important Safety Information in the case of a healthcare brand), that content may need to be shifted elsewhere.
2. Cover photos:
These will be 851x315 pixels, and will span the top of your new timelines. We highly recommend you create a custom image that reflects your brand’s identity; this is your "welcome" sign, the first thing users will see when they come to your Facebook page. If you don't have the means to create a custom image, Facebook will accept any image at least 399 pixels wide. Bear in mind, however, that your image will be stretched to fill designated cover photo space, and small ones could become quite distorted.
Additionally, cover photos cannot contain promotional information, such as calls to action, arrows pointing to the Like button, or your contact info (which should live in the About section). This is not intended as ad space, but rather as a place for you to put a face to your brand.
Pages only display four tabs initially: the Photos tab, and three others selected by the page administrator. Users must manually expand the custom tabs to view the rest. Admins can specify which tabs appear first and which appear after expansion. Brands will need to think carefully about which sections best communicate their message and deserve to be featured up front.
The Photos tab is permanently set to the first slot (the Likes tab is also mandatory, but it can be shifted out of the "front four"). Combined with the prominence of the cover photo, this suggests a trend towards heavy visual elements. These may not currently be the strong suit of your brand's online presentation (as is often the case in the health care industry). Nevertheless, developing a strong and relevant visual sense is more important to your digital presence than ever.
4. Timeline columns:
The Timeline itself consists of two columns which display your posts. Your friend activity appears at the top of the right column.
The Timeline also allows you to "pin" posts to the top of the column for up to seven days at a time, letting you showcase the most relevant material or links. Either presents an attractive option for meeting the disclosure requirements of a highly regulated industry like healthcare. Critical or mandatory information can be pinned to the top of a timeline column, where it remains conspicuous without overwhelming the brand message on the rest of the page.
5. Highlight posts:
Page administrators can now choose to highlight a specific post, expanding it across both the left and right Timeline columns. Hover over the upper right corner of the post to reveal the star icon to highlight that post.
Unlike a pinned post, which gets promoted to the top of the timeline, a highlighted post will maintain its position within the timeline. It will simply expand, which may make it easier to read a block of text or view a horizontally-aligned picture.
Pages have the ability to publish “Milestones,” which appear full-width across the Timeline. It’s possible to outline a company’s history as far back as desired via the Timeline. This is a good way to build trust by emphasizing the company's track record—a paramount concern in the healthcare industry, where longevity and proven results are often vital to a brand image.
7. Messaging and comments:
Pages can now receive private messages from fans, although you have the option to remove this feature. Commenting, on the other hand, cannot simply be disabled by a page administrator. As a social channel, Facebook wants to foster discussion, so comments are mandatory (with few exceptions). Pages dedicated to a specific drug, for instance, may cancel this functionality by contacting Facebook directly and requesting it. A representative from Facebook will review your page and determine whether or not to turn comments off on your behalf.
Nothing is truer than the old saying that the only constant is change. That must be Facebook's motto, because in addition to the recent Timeline launch to brand pages over the next few weeks, they have also added "interest lists" to profiles.
What are interest lists?
Quite simple, really—they're collections you can create and subscribe to in order to see and organize the Facebook content you find interesting. Sound a lot like Twitter lists? That’s because they are.
A number of articles have stated that this feature is in fact a direct challenge to Twitter. But I'm not so sure about that, especially considering that people use Twitter and Facebook in vastly different ways and for different reasons. According to a recent study, Twitter users tend to be “focused, no-nonsense information-gatherers.” Information seekers on Facebook, however, tend to be “considerably less intellectually curious.”
Why is this relevant?
Interest lists organize information by subject matter where as Twitter lists and Google+ circles organize people. For example, Facebook curates its own lists, such as one collecting the pages for all 32 NFL teams. Die-hard football fans certainly will be interested in that, even if few others are.
But will the average Facebook user start curating their own custom lists on Facebook? I’m not entirely sold. Perhaps in time, Facebook users will discover and adopt interest lists—but they aren’t widely promoted right now, leaving them to be discovered by happenstance.
How does this apply to my business?
For now, interest lists are only available to user profiles, but that doesn't mean brands can’t benefit. If you and your company have a Facebook presence, you might consider starting a personal list of content relevant to and from your brand that others may want to subscribe to. Take for example my own list, “Social Media,” which includes information from Mashable, Facebook guru Mari Smith, and others— with Vodori added for good measure, of course.
While I don’t see interest lists being a “Twitter killer,” I do think that they offer a new and interesting way for Facebook users to find and interact with content relevant to them. And even though I don’t see list use becoming widespread, those looking for more than the normal random banter on Facebook may consider them a great tool.
Either way, it will be interesting to see where interest lists go. Do you see yourself using interest lists for yourself or for your brand? If so, how? Let us know in the comments below.
I'm not sure what it is about social media that attracts so many colorful job titles. Maybe it's still viewed as something "young people" use, and the head honchos think all us Gen Yers still love to play pretend in the backyard. Or maybe social media's a domain where all the head honchos are Gen Yers and really do still love to play pretend in the backyard.
Either way, it's not as easy as you might think to come up with flashy new appellations. You've got to strike a careful balance—hip and imaginative, yet credible and professional. Also, you want to avoid any insinuation that your job description involves murdering your clients. (I'm looking at you, "social media assassins.")
With that in mind, here are 21 business cards you won't see us printing anytime soon:
21. Community Management Mogul 20. Hashtag Viking 19. SEO Leftenant 18. Reddit Ronin 17. Grand Moff LinkedIn 16. Content Commandant 15. ROI Maestro 14. GetGlue Viceroy 13. Khal YouTube 12. StumbleUpon Stevedore 11. Social Channel Sous Chef 10. Foursquare Conquistador 9. Green Lantern of Social Media Sector 2814 8. Pinterest Admiral 7. Tumblr Dungeonmaster 6. Caesar Googleplustus 5. Sultan of Ping 4. Paladin of Metrics 3. Blog Rawk Gawd 2. Dowager Countess of Facebook 1. Pharaoh Ptwitter IV
Every day, thousands of online marketers embark on an ambitious journey to promote their wares, sell their “widgets,” and engage prospective and current customers. Amid all this competition, how can you stand out and achieve your goals?
Realizing that we can’t answer that question in a singular blog post, a year ago we decided to give marketers the tools and guidance necessary to start the journey. So we launched Pre_Scribed, a six-part webinar series geared towards the specific needs of the healthcare industry.
If you’ve followed our series, you know that so far we’ve taken you through five major steps every healthcare marketer must take when kicking off new digital marketing initiatives. Whether you're creating a targeted online ad campaign, social media marketing strategy, global product launch, or anything in between, there are many considerations to keep in mind before even getting started.
The first 5 steps to a digital marketing launch
A quick recap of the topics we've covered so far—check them out if you need to catch up:
That leaves us with the last and most crucial piece of this complex puzzle: measuring the outcome. There's truth in the old cliché that you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. As such, the last portion of our six-part webinar series focuses on gauging results, analyzing ROI, enhancing your program, and planning for continued content creation.
Our hour-long presentation covered many recommendations for evaluating and optimizing your initiatives, and we encourage you to listen for yourself.
Pre_Scribed Step 6—Evaluate Your Success:
Aligning your analytics to each stage of the traditional marketing funnel
Understanding site metrics
Reaching actionable insights
Aligning conversion criteria with marketing objectives
Mapping out your channels (look across the whole continuum)
Honing goals and tools for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Social media marketing has come a long way from the days of warm and fuzzy “gurus” urging you to “join the conversation.” If you run a business, you need to see results—not just social media hugs. Succeeding in the era of social media measurement means using social to 1) drive towards particular goals, and 2) track your progress.
Enter organizations such as the Web Analytics Association, which recently turned its eyes to social measurement for a panel discussion in Chicago. The line-up featured a great mix of client and agency side marketers, as well as an analytics vendor:
Blagica Bottigliero (@Blagica), Global Director of Social Media at Motorola
Dan Hindin (@DanielHindin), Digital Analytics Supervisor at Weber Shandwick
Marianne Llewellyn (@chicagoml), Director of Social Media and Mobile Consulting for Adobe’s Omniture Business
Michelina Mantas (@mickeymantas) Global Director of Social Media Strategy at OMD
Scot Wheeler (@scotwheeler), Marketing Science Director at Critical Mass
If you’ve ever attended a panel discussion, you know that the quality of such events varies greatly. I was more than pleased not only with this group but also with the audience; thought-provoking questions were immediately abundant.
First things first
Bottigliero kicked the group off with a basic yet often-ignored insight: In social media marketing, the first thing you must figure out is what you want to achieve. Only then can you pick which metrics to measure, and which tool(s) you'll need to execute the plan. Too often, marketers jump in not knowing some or all of those aspects. When they're asked if their social endeavors are working, they really have no idea—and then social doesn’t get the upper-level support it otherwise could have.
On a need-to-know basis
Bottigliero then advised client-side marketers to determine who within the organization needs to see what. Reports to your CEO shouldn't be swamped with the day-to-day data your social media team gathers. Instead, create a dashboard that leads with the most actionable, high-level insights.
Even if you are agency-side this is a good practice, and it's how we typically provide analysis: at-a-glance insights supported by in-depth data and recommendations. Since you never know who will ultimately read your reports once they're sent to the client, write them with multiple audiences in mind.
Small is the new big
Wheeler encouraged marketers to start with only two or three key performance indicators (KPI) and branch out from there. Along with the other panelists, he stressed the need to look beyond “likes” and “follows” when identifying these indicators. "Engagement" means something different for each brand, depending on the goals you set out and starting small allows you to best define your metrics.
For example, suppose your brand is aiming to increase awareness and actively drive users to your website. The primary metrics you may want to start with could be total page views and the time users spend on the site (TOS). If these increase over time you are likely driving more qualified leads to your site.
About that ROI question...
“What’s the ROI of social?” is a question often asked of marketers and community managers—and with good reason. Businesses need to know that the money they are spending is worthwhile.
Wheeler noted that trying to determine the ROI of social media before you’ve even started listening is a wasted effort. By definition, ROI depends on first making an investment and then gauging its financial return. If you haven't invested anything in social yet, you can’t be expected to determine what the return will be. Perhaps a better question to ask first is “What should I expect to get out of social media?”—because the answer may not be directly attributable to a dollar amount.
To that end, some controlled experimentation is definitely needed at the onset of a social campaign in order to determine more than just ROI. Questions you'll want to answer during this initial phase include:
Is your content resonating?
Is your audience more active in particular channels?
Do they respond more frequently at particular times of the day?
To find these and other relevant answers, we recommend creating a pilot program with a monitoring goal set to obtain benchmarks specific to your situation. You should expect to pilot for at least six months before accumulating enough reach to provide consistent and accurate data before making an attempt to determine exact ROI.
This topic is important and complex enough that this blog post can't do it justice, so I encourage you to peruse Wheeler's presentation, “The ROI of Social Media ROI.”
Giving credit where credit is due
Another topic from the evening that Marianne Llewellyn spoke quite passionately about was link attribution (this too really deserves its own post). When it comes to analytics, most tools operate under a “last touch” attribution model where only the last online activity a user performed gets the credit for bringing them to your site (if that’s what you're measuring).
The problem with this model is that I could search for an item that I’m looking for today and find your brand within organic search results, follow you via Twitter tomorrow, and two weeks from now see a display ad when I finally decide to click through to your site and make a purchase. With most tools (like Google analytics), only that last display ad will get the credit (those display ads—always brown-nosing!).
Instead, a “multi-touch” model would spread the attribution evenly across all of the marketing efforts in our example. You get more accurate data, and your SEO and social efforts get the credit they deserve.
The takeaway from the evening
The event covered a wide range of topics, many of which this post alone cannot accommodate. But while social media is far from its more mature online brethren, it has become increasingly clear that social is not only here to stay, it is in fact measureable. Beyond that, it is an increasingly important tool in the savvy marketer's arsenal. Social marketing needs to be planned for, integrated with, and measured in conjunction with the rest of your online efforts.
Are you implementing a social media program? If so, we’d like to hear how you are measuring your results. Not sure where to start? Well, we’re here (and here and here) if you need us.
Although it's become one of the core elements of online marketing, many businesses still consider search engine optimization overly-complicated, unproductive, or merely a fad. But overcoming these concerns is just a matter of using SEO to your advantage. In our experience guiding clients through their online marketing decisions, we've encountered a few common misconceptions about SEO.
1. Believing it is too hard or too time-consuming
No matter how little time you may have, you can always perform bite-sized SEO activities which advance your overall strategy. For example, ask ten customers which keywords they most closely associate with your company or products. Or look up the top five most visited pages on your website and try to identify how the on-page elements (copy, titles, meta data, etc.) help or hurt that popularity. Apply what you learn to the rest of your pages. For those times when there really is no time, Vodori is here to help.
2. Treating it as a one-time deal
It's tempting to treat SEO activities like spring cleaning—carve out a block of time to optimize those on-page elements, and once that's done, forget about it for the rest of the year. However, as marketplaces change (i.e., constantly), so do the keywords that consumers use to describe them. If keyword search patterns evolve and you don't evolve right along with them, you're likely to lose traffic and sales.
We recommend conducting keyword or user research multiple times per year, to stay on top of changes in each industry. Furthermore, organic search engines like Google and Bing are constantly tweaking their search algorithms (almost daily, actually). Make sure you keep up with these changes, and understand how they can affect your SEO tactics. Most search engines outline significant updates on their blogs.
One step of SEO feeds into the next in an ongoing process.
3. Neglecting to measure and course-correct
Again, SEO is not a one-and-done tactic. Before implementing a campaign, consider how the knowledge you expect to gain will impel constructive changes for your business. As with any online marketing strategy, some actions will pay off and some won't.
In my opinion, the real key to success lies in developing a reporting-recommendation-change action plan once your campaign is in place. Track your results closely, identify what isn't working, adjust or eliminate those misfires, and then track the changes. Rinse and repeat. Using this framework, with analytics driving adaptation, has worked quite well for Vodori and several of our clients.
4. Failing to integrate within an overall marketing strategy
SEO is probably not the only tool you wield (and if it is, that's a mistake worthy of a whole different blog post). There's no hard and fast boundary separating it from tactics like location-based targeting, pay-per-click, social media, and PR. Determine how SEO fits in with your larger online promotions plan—where it complements other tools, and where it might conflict.
5. Looking for one "key" to getting it exactly right
A truly successful SEO campaign relies on several components, including well-executed customer and keyword research, on-page optimization, community involvement, and a link-building strategy (plus plenty more). Optimizing one of these may yield quick success in some markets, but for most, a winning long-term plan will touch on several different techniques.
In fact, if there is one "key" to achieving outstanding SEO, it lies in your human resources: the sharp, adaptable employee or employees who grasp all these techniques, and who can develop and execute a comprehensive plan.
Successful search engine optimization demands you keep close tabs on your site's organic search traffic—what keywords are people entering into search boxes before plopping down in your little corner of the Internet? By learning which topics and ideas your users find most relevant, you can make sure your site is winding up in front of the right eyeballs.
Google Analytics offers a handy way to access this data. Simply follow the menus from Traffic Sources -> Sources -> Search -> Organic, and presto: A report of the most popular keywords leading to your site.
Of course, you're always going to get some outliers.
Vodori Presents: The Bradley Cooper's Hair Memorial Google Fail Awards
A little over a year ago, Vodori served up a sampling of the oddest keyword searches that somehow led Internet dwellers to our homepage. We decided to take another look and see what fresh enigmas have cropped up in recent months. All of these are phrases which led some intrepid Googler to Vodori.com, quite possibly to their (and our) utter confusion.
DISCLAIMER: As our first experiment revealed, a lot of people find us thanks to this post, a prime example of why just peppering your pages with popular keywords does not an effective SEO strategy make. Therefore, this list excludes any combination of words relating to Bradley Cooper's hair...of which there were so, so many.
Damn you, you well-coiffed devil. We just can't stay mad at you.
Without further ado, Vodori presents the Top 10 Google fails of the month.
1. Sitemesh vs Tiles: This was a surprisingly rousing mixed martial arts match, despite the fighters' lackluster nicknames.
As we start new social media campaigns with our clients we want to make sure that everyone has a baseline set of knowledge to start from. For Twitter in particular, anyone who is looking to understand some of the jargon bandied about should familiarize themselves with a few basic conventions. Below is a quick explanation of what all those @, #, and strange looking URLs mean.
Sample tweet from the Hootsuite Twitter feed:
Watch, Learn & Chat: Exclusive video about new #Facebook features for business from @HootSuite_U ft @MariSmith owl.li/6Mq1Q #hsuchat
“#Facebook” and “#hsuchat” are hashtags. These are used to keep track of tweets on particular topics.
“owl.li/6Mq1Q” is a URL shortened by the application Hootsuite. Many other URL shorteners exist (e.g., bit.ly, TinyURL, etc.) but only those generated within Hootsuite can be tracked by the application.
“@HootSuite_U” is a reference to a Twitter handle/username for Hootsuite training
“ft” was simply their way of shortening the word “featuring”. Remember that you only have 140 characters so you need to choose your words carefully.
A word of caution: Inserting hashtags and known usernames is a great way to get your tweets seen; just remember that there comes a point where too many of these things makes your tweet difficult to read. The above example comes very close to crossing that fine line.
“RT” stands for retweet; this is the easiest and most common way to share someone else’s content on Twitter.
Another way is to manually add the originating handle at the end to give credit using: (via @invoker). In this manner the above tweet would look like… To clarify WSJ speculation (ow.ly/6T1uk), @facebook isn't buying @HootSuite anytime soon. (via @invoker)
To add commentary, it is most common to do so before the RT Squelching rumors— RT @invoker: To clarify WSJ speculation (ow.ly/6T1uk), @facebook isn't buying @HootSuite anytime soon.
Replying to a tweet:
Simply start your tweet with @twitter_username. If a tweet starts with “@” only the people following BOTH you and the other person will see the tweet. If this is not the desired outcome, re-write the tweet so that @username appears within the middle or end of the message. If this will change the meaning of your message too greatly and you want the tweet visible by all, add a period (.) before the @username. Note though, that in many Twitter clients this will break the conversation thread.
Last week Vodori held the fifth webinar in our yearlong series Pre_Scribed: 6 doses for a healthy global marketing launch. This time we came together to focus on program implementation, where we shed a little light on some of the behind-the-scenes activities and considerations to keep in mind as you move into the development phase of your program.
CMS Selection Checklist— How to choose a content management system
As marketers, we know that we need to create and maintain many aspects of our online presence: websites, microsites, social channels and more. Often times, however, the understanding gets a little fuzzy once we start talking about environment set-up, HTML, Java, UAT testing, eSignature, etc.
To complicate matters even more, you're also likely tasked with the selection of a conetent management system or even a full marketing platform. With so many options available it would be a wonder if your head wasn't already spinning.
That's why we dedicated an entire chapter in our series to explain the development process, content workflow process, and more. We even provide a handy checklist to reference to ensure that the marketing platform you choose meets or exceeds expectations. Shameless plug: We have just the thing and it's called Pepper. Of course, we'd love to tell you more about Pepper but you can get a quick overview towards the end of the presentation.
During a recent commute home via the Purple Line, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone seemed to be sitting in the exact same position: head down and hunched over some type of media, be it a video on a smartphone or the day’s paper. Intrigued by the varied ways I saw Chicagoans passing their time while in transit, I decided to conduct a mini-study and tally the types of content people engaged with over the course of a week. I made my observations when the train ran express between Belmont and Howard, giving me about fifteen minutes to monitor a set carload of passengers.
As smartphones continue to rise in popularity, I suspected that smartphone usage would come out on top as the number one activity for Chicago commuters (at least on my particular stretch of the line). It turned out that listening to music was the most frequent activity, proving that even as the number of portable media devices increase, people love to listen to tunes when they are on the go. Smartphone use did come in as the second most popular activity, beating out reading books and reading magazines or newspapers. So, while it may not be the predominate commuter activity yet, smartphone use has surpassed two of the more traditional time-passing mainstays and will likely find its way to the top of the heap sometime in the near future.
How I categorized the media consumption I witnessed
Books: enjoying good old printed copies of fiction and nonfiction masterpieces
eReader: reading a Nook or a Kindle
Music: headphones in the ears that are hooked up to any variety of MP3 player, discman (like a rare bird, these can occasionally be spotted by the careful observer), or smartphone
Smartphone: smartphone in hand, checking email, playing games, or surfing the Web
Magazine or Newspaper: opting for a printed version of any newspaper or magazine
Laptop: when the smartphone or tablet won’t cut it—laptop perched on the thighs, busily typing away at a project
iPad: this one is pretty self-explanatory
Talking on a Cell: using the phone simply to talk, the old fashioned way
During my week of observations, I was also witness to some disruptive mobile device users, so look for a follow up post with a compilation of etiquette tips soon.