Billy Heany's Digital Marketing Site

Edgerank

Seems simple enough, right? That’s because in a sense it is. The more people interact with your posts ‘U’ the more likely they are to see more of your posts. The more the community has interacted the post, ‘W’ the more likely you are to see it. The longer the post has been around, ‘D’ the less likely others are to see it. This was facebook’s old algorithm which has since been updated and tightened.

The new ‘Edgerank’ or news feed optimization has since been updated to over 100,000 different weights and factors that can influence how likely your posts are to be seen. According to a post by MarketingLand, the original equation is not dead, but so insignificant in the broad spectrum of variables that it might as well be.

But all of these tightened regulations and added factors on determining how likely your post is to be seen have not gone over well with many in the community. George Takei from Star Trek and Mark Cuban have both publicly denounced Facebook’s new system, saying “Facebook really risks screwing up something that is special in our lives as a time waster by thinking they have to make it more engaging and efficient.” He goes on to make the point of how Facebook is trying to optimize our newsfeeds just as Google optimizes our search (see SEO). This is all very true, but it brings up a good point, our news feeds are not a Google search. The main goal of searching is to type in what you need and then click off to the place that has it. Facebook on the other hand should  not have its primary goal to have us leave the sight within a few seconds of searching.

Another common complaint was Facebook is selectively filtering what it thinks is important for us, like we can’t ignore enough on our own. Comparing this to gmail; what happens if you signed up for a email alert from a brand, but gmail wanting to make more revenue only shows you certain emails, and not the ones that you signed up for. In the same way, people who like a page want to be able to see content coming from it.

So all argument aside, all of this still begs the question, how do we receive more interaction and clicks on our posts? Well, like anything in marketing the answer is ‘it depends’.

A big factor in this is how likely others are to have already interacted with your current post and previous posts. This plays off of weight –

Share – high weight
Comment – medium-high weight
Like – medium weight
Click – low weight

So encouraging people to share or comment on your status is the first big step. Next is time –

  • “Those who posted after the typical 9-5 were far more likely to be seen as there is less noise from brands and businesses posting.”

This graph shows how time affects how likely you are to be seen, with 50% of all interaction in the first 30min.
Facebook-Post-Length-600x616

The next factor is how many people already liked it. (Wait what?) Yes, it is like high-school again, the popular kids are more likely to be liked because other people like them already. Well Facebook’s edge plays off the same principle. In a recent study, people were 32% more likely to interact with posts that already had positive interaction.

In a recent talk with social media guru Nate Smoyer he added to the ever increasing factors of how to appear high up on a feed.

  • Promote your posts or your page – promotions have guaranteed reach and interaction in a large, targeted audiences.
  • Limit the use of pictures, links, or events in your news feed – Facebook’s new system recognizes links as ‘Brand spam’ and intentionally lowers the likelihood of those being seen.

Above all, to have high engagement you must be seen as valuable by Facebook. Just like in Google’s SEO, sites that provide high-quality, relevant content are far more likely to be seen first.

P.S. Here’s an infographic on Edgerank explained by Batman

Edgeinfo

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If this is your first time reading here, then you may be a bit confused. If it’s not, then we’re gonna take a minute to reflect on all of the things one individual can learn in just a couple of months time in this conclusion(or is it?) of my marketing blog series. Oh, and here’s a fun word cloud I made of some of the words use!
digitalbillycloud

Here were some key principles I learned on writing successful blog content:

You don’t need to be an expert on something before you write – With wordpress related content tools and Google open, all your need to do is quote the experts! The important part of this is that you need to know who your audience is and what interests them and then tailor everything you write to that.

Envision a direction for your content but don’t limit where it will take you – Keep an open mind on what will actually go into any post. Get inspired by everything you read and take mental(or physical) notes of anything you deem sharable. I remember explaining to Lena McCleney  that finding content to write about is a lot easier when you let the content inspire you, instead of trying to find words to inspire others.

The key to true virality is providing content that benefits the reader. I always wondered how to make something actually go “Viral”, and after a few sales classes and thanks to this digital marketing blog, I think I found a key factor. Like anything in sales & marketing, we are always looking for how the product will benefit the person buying it. In this scenario the blog or website content is the product, and the reader is the buyer. Not only must we communicate that the content is valuable to read, but they will benefit from sharing it in some way. Always asking, “What’s in it for them?”. I shared a link on my Facebook and it was re-shared by multiple other people, all for their own reasons. Here’s a quick list of reasons some people shared content

  • They were directly mentioned in a post – Cross promotion at its finest!
  • It was posted as a help tool for a simple SEO guide – It provided value for someone in need.
  • Intelligence by association – Just like I post articles of smart sounding people in here, people will share something to assert that they too are intelligent (As kindly pointed out by Mark Staton.)

The results of all the time, words ( approximately 10,000 according to MS Word), and effort (too bad Word can’t measure that too) paid off in a short span of my websites growth, shown in the WordPress analytics tool.

webstats

For only being 5 days into December that graph is pretty skewed. But that’s exactly what happens when you evoke those principles all at the same time (and add a few shameless plugs on your facebook).

All in all, I realized that blogging is not much different from traditional marketing. Knowing your audience, their needs, and how to appeal to the ‘what’s in it for them’ model all apply to blogging and internet content. Sometimes it’s just not as lucid as to where all of those principles apply. People get bored very quickly, so constantly ask the question, “Would this be worth my time if I were reading it” and if it’s not, then you better scrap that! Because remember, if you wouldn’t want to spend 5 minutes out of your busy day to read something, why would anyone else?

 

In recent months privacy has been on the tip of everyones tongue, and rightly so. Advances in NSA peeping and government leaks has also splurged a variety of other sources to start talking more about internet privacy – and more specifically how brands and marketers are obsessed with knowing everything about us.

http://www.wimp.com/creepymarketing/ This video illustates that fine line that is being a crossed, putting facial recognition cameras in billboards in malls. While it may have seemed like a brilliant, clever idea at first when the company thought of it, the fact they are going to start matching everywhere you are with your facebook or other social media is just downright creepy.

This idea of privacy has exploded in the mobile area. An app that I thought was destined to fail, Snapchat, has grown to be used one of the top most used apps everyday according to AppAnnie. Websites, apps, and tools to keep information private has gone crazy. Websites like Reputation.com have had explosive growth by near 1000% from it’s start. Reputation is a SaaS (Software as a Service) that provides a centralized place where you can manage, see, and soon sell your information to marketers and businesses that want to know every bit of your life.

Businesses aren’t the only ones who want to target and segment you by your most indepth information; some apps offer the opportunity to find where strangers are around your location.
With creepy apps like “Girls around me”, a dating app that is just downright weird, can give you location based information down to feet away. Why you would want to give that information to others is beyond me.
Girls-Around-Me

What some people don’t seem to know is that when you agree to give your information to these apps most of the time that agreement can’t be revoked. An article by the NewYorker illustrates how this happens even after you disable and even uninstall a service, how apps will still retain your information and refuse to delete it.

This post arises more questions than answers, but there is a few things we can do.

  • Don’t agree to location tracking to apps you don’t trust
  • Privatize your social media profiles – Don’t share information that you don’t want a random stranger to know
  • Don’t freak out – I know it seems a little a little contradictory to the post, but most businesses aren’t looking to do anything creepy with your data, they simply want to provide you with a better ad experience, more customized towards your preferences.

What businesses should be doing – via Bloomberg

  • Be transparent – Let costumers know what is being tracked
  • Consent – There should be an opt in/opt out
  • Let users go – Once they opt out or delete an app, stop keeping their data!

Initially, I was confused when I heard the term ‘Growth Hacking’. A familiar word for some, an unheard term for most. Like anything with the word ‘hacker’ in it we assume that you must be a very smart person to be able to do it. And while the smartest marketers are doing it, you do not have to be inherently ‘smart’ to partake in this glorious ticket to pushing viral content.

groowthhack

While many of you reading this are ready to dismiss this article as more, ‘business talk’ and ‘marketing lingo’ be prepared to be surprised because growth hacking is a scaling principle from the biggest office firms down to our very own social media presence. We all desire an audience to read, interact with, and share our content; whether that content is branding a product or our branded self. Luckily for us, growth hacking is applicable to both types: and even more lucky for us, it’s building on key principles already discussed on this blog.

Growth hackers are specific individuals focusing on growth above all else. That doesn’t mean focusing on a ‘brand’s overarching presence’ but on the contrary it is not excluding a brands message, it is merely bringing that as well as many other factors together to drive higher LTV(Life Time Value) and leads. For every day Joe’s, it means getting more followers with higher interaction and communication. Dave McCluer is cited providing the 5 most important factors of measurement and focus in growth hacking –

  • Acquisition: phase where users come to cite from the various channels you have opened
  • Activation, or “the happy experience: phase where you have been able to make the first visit enjoyable for a user
  • Retention: phase where users come back and start visiting the site multiple times
  • Referral: phase where you get users to like your product enough to refer it to others
  • Revenue: phase where users conduct monetization behavior

These phases are all analytically driven by specific measurements that are constantly being taken and revamped to drive the greatest amount of success. Again, in Layman’s terms, we must take everything we do and attempt to maximize the stuff that works and minimize the things that aren’t working (using some handy tools like Google Analytics).

The main step towards being a successful growth hacker is creating a business system that encourages sharability and believe it or not, growth. This is huge in the mobile app industry and in high tech. Companies like Dropbox offer incentives to connect everything you have and incentives to invite people to sign-up and use the platform as part of the experience: the product drives traffic to itself.
dropbox

 

From Ryan Holiday, “Growth hackers are intimately involved in product development. Instead of chasing vague notions like branding or awareness, a growth hacker drives users and clients. Instead of spending money, growth hackers look for scalable growth from viral factors and social sharing. Finally, instead of hoping these things magically happen and customers organically stick around, they ruthlessly optimize and improve efforts based on data.”

All of these things are things I’ve talked about successful marketers do. Ranging from a great SEO to A/B testing every page on the site. The hope is to gain knowledge about everything and never stop improving. Here are 6 quick things to do when applying a growth hacking strategy –

  • Increase site speed
  • Use social proof
  • A/B test to optimization
  • Use a bare-bones home page
  • Integrate your product with the right platform
  • Increase your viral coefficient

Throughout history product and brand co-creation have been present and have been ever beneficial for both us as the customer, and [us again] as the marketer.

At the roots of co-creation is a desire for for value from both parties. In previous posts i’ve talked about creating web content that is valuable to customers[totally applicable here too].
Well what is co-creation? Simple. It’s all of your favorite products and brands. Here’s a few directly from co-creation:

Not to mention all of the brands that have used co-creation to provide greater value to consumers desires such as:

  • Amazon’s review and recommendations service
  • Dell’s computer customizer
  • Ebay’s auction capabilities and reviews
  • All of social media – Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter

puzzle

To iterate how exactly each of these things are a direct result of co-creation we must understand things like open-source. For those unknowing, your favorite browser, Google Chrome of course [if it’s not your favorite I highly suggest you make it your favorite, and click that link..] and all of the other points in the first list were the result of successful product co-creation, or open-source as developers like to call it. By simply saying to every “Hey, we’re trying to build this great thing, and we would like your help” opens up doors and opportunities a business could have never thought on it’s own. What better way to find exactly what the customer wants then letting them say it themselves. The co-creation industry is only going to grow. As brands begin to understand consumer created content is both cheap and highly desirable, much of our media will be generated all by us. 

The bottom list demonstrates a more content driven co-creation rather than code based. Ebay gave people the option to buy and sell online easily and efficiently, and it took off faster than any auction ever. Services like Dell’s computer customizer or Mini’s car customization have been majorly successful because it leaves the sacred ‘marketing mix’ to the costumers themselves. They specify their price, they specify their desired features, and become promotion vehicles for you; all while creating strong brand relationships. Finally we analyze social media, something not typically thought of as co-created by consumers. In reality almost everything we do on social media is created by others like us, Facebook and Twitter were merely smart enough to put it all in one easily accessible place.

The greatest part of co-creation is that everyone gets to play! Not only are customers creating their own products, but brands are finding users to accomplish business goals and objectives. One example of this is with the company called Innocentive. They more or less provide everyday people like you and I the opportunity to solve problems that a company has. The winner and solver of each case receives a cash prize from $5,000 to $1 Million dollars and the business gets a solution for far cheaper than months of R&D.

The reason that this symbiotic relationship of co-creation is so effective is based off the principle of synergy. This principle states that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts; meaning that when business professionals trapped ‘in the box’ invite others ‘outside of the box’ to participate, thinking will undoubtedly be done ‘outside of the box‘!

Tips on effective co-creation via Outlook

  1. Create Incentives – What is motivating people’s desire to create?
  2. Provide the right tools – Whatever the tool, leverage value and benefit to the customer
  3. Create clear objectives – Both the customer and the business should know what the underlying goal is

slide-14-1024

Here’s a growth curve of co-creation that i’m sure has doubled by now.

Companies everywhere are trying to harness the ever-growing market of e-Currency, an idea of how transactions should be done. This concept is being able to never have to carry an actual wallet around anymore is appealing to both consumers and merchants alike.

The first example of this being done is by a company called Square, something you’ve probably never heard of but used multiple times now. The guys that produce this funny little device –
Square

The way this works (for those who have never used it) it’s a portable credit card machine that plugs into any smartphone or tablet. The founder Jack Dorsey (co-founder of twitter) came up with a simple solution to a problem people experience everyday, not accepting plastic. What’s so great about this and devices like it, is that they open up opportunities for small businesses, individuals, and large companies alike. The fee charged is much less than traditional credit card companies and Square has also entered into a partnership with Starbucks for some of the most advanced purchase data analytics ever seen. Imagine walking in to buy a drink, having your information come up for what you typically get, and then having instant payment by merely swiping your phone by their machine. In the near future that’s what their strategic partnership hopes to be able to do.

The next example of mobile commerce is with LevelUp, a venture funded mobile-commerce app.
levelup
The guys at LevelUp had the simple but innovative idea of making your phone your new wallet. Businesses get the white box device that is a small QR reader, then when you are ready to purchase something, you hold your phone up and it displays a customized QR code for that purchase. Arguably, the best part is the analytics built into the software. The creators knew that people interact with brands on the web for primarily one reason, coupons. So merchants can take specific purchase data from a customer and push offers their way real time. Great for people who love coupons like me :D.

The final and truly revolutionary type of e-Currency i’m discussing is BitCoin.
bitcoin-620x350

BitCoin is truly revolutionary for a majority of reasons, but perhaps the most intriguing being that it is a virtual currency with no actual hard currency backing like gold or silver; it is 100% computer generated money. Now to be straight, just because it’s virtual money, does not mean it isn’t a very real thing, or that it isn’t secure. Bitcoin instead of being backed by banks or governments, is backed by computer code, hardware, and a vast network of systems all managing and computing its value. Bitcoins are as real as any other form of money, because like any other form of currency, the agreed upon worth and value are what makes it usable for trade, not the fact that a dead president or king or queen’s face is on it.

So who all is agreeing on its worth than? Internet users like me and you, and lots and lots of nerds, according to the stats. As the agreed upon value continues to skyrocket it is catching the eye of many big players.
bitcoingraph

The appeal of having a free-market, mathematically driven currency is enough for many to adopt this new form of currency. In Canada ATM’s have already started opening, world-wide the online gambling industry is looking to adopt this new unregulated currency, and migrant workers are looking to get paid using it. All these articles point to one thing, the rise and mass adoption of BitCoin. Even PayPal, the worlds largest e-Commerce giant has stated that it may ‘one day adopt and integrate BitCoin‘ to its service. Bitcoin got your attention yet?

If you want to learn more about BitCoin click this picture to see an animated infographic of what Bitcoin is up to.

bitcoin-share-300x225

Mobile Nation

I thought the title of this post was befitting as the name of this blog is ‘Digital Nation’. That’s because mobile is taking over the digital market, as well as much of the world. Everyday we spend more and more time with our phones, so much so it’s more than the time we spend with our significant others. We are becoming so tech dependent that our phones are moving out of our pockets and onto our wrists and faces (i.e. Google Glass). 

But what does all of this mean for us as marketers and just everyday people?

Well besides the obvious of staying up with the times and trying to stay innovative, we can use this information to our benefit.
Our favorite law to follow, Moore’s Law of course, seems to be holding true for more than just computer hardware.  In this figure from eMarketer we can see how advertising revenue has been doubling every year-

With almost 16 Billion dollars by the end of 2013 we’ve seen astounding jumps in the mobile ad space; with Google and Facebook dominating the charts capturing 70% of the total market together.

But ads aren’t the only thing growing; mobile visits to websites and social media alike are experiencing rapid growth. LinkedIn said by the end of the year 50% of their total traffic will be mobile, which isn’t surprising for a company heavily investing in their mobile site, as we see services like their email compiler (however scary it may seem).

So what do we do now that we know how big mobile really is?

  • Invest in a proper mobile site – A mobile UI/UX can be one of the biggest factors in monetization
  • Develop strategic advertisements for mobile users – Mobile CTRs have shown to be much higher than traditional ad space
  • Encourage, Enable, and Engage your mobile users – Companies who have embraced mobile have seen sales increase by as much as 50%

So now there’s no excuse to not making it big in mobile! All sorts of programs and information is out there to optimize our efforts. All we need to do now is act.
Also, here’s a fun infographic from Go-Globe on mobile –
infog_smartphone