Social Media Marketing with Reddit and Tumblr

If you’re a marketer, chances are you’ve read an article on how Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Twitter can be used to reach consumers with advertising messages and build communities of loyal followers. But if you’re interested in getting your brand more involved in social media, first get to know some of the alternative options out there that could be a better fit for your business.

Reddit

ImageReddit is an online community where users share news, photos, interesting and obscure pieces of information, along with their own personal stories and opinions. Redittors can post links in various “sub-reddits” (categories such as /r/pics or /r/music), and if their post receives enough up-votes from other users it may make it onto the “front page” (the constantly updating list of hottest posts, found on Reddit’s homepage). The default ranking for all sub-reddits is by popularity, so posts with more up-votes and comments have a greater chance of being seen. Be warned that users can also down-vote posts into obscurity if they find them uninteresting, or identify them as obvious marketing ploys.

This social media platform isn’t about how many friends you have – it’s about posting content that other users find unique, interesting, funny, and relevant to their interests. Reddit won’t be the best match for every brand, and risks include posts being flagged as spam, getting abused in the comments, or down-voted to never be heard from again. Don’t let this scare you off! There are certain topics that excel on Reddit, such as gaming, technology, science, music, educational stories, food, fitness, and more. It’s also a great opportunity to reach a large audience; Reddit had 43 million monthly active users in 2012, and got more than 3 billion page views in August of that year.

Reddit users are highly engaged on the site, and can spend hours at a time clicking through links and images. The reward of being able to determine what it is your Reddit audience wants and then delivering it to them will be a huge surge in traffic.

As with any marketing tactic, the most important thing is to consider who your target market is and whether or not they’re likely to be on the site (user demographics can be found here). Sub-reddits allow you to target niche audiences, so it’s important to post in ones that are relevant to your business, product or industry. Picking a sub-reddit with higher traffic will help your post to be seen, so choose ones that are consistently being updated with new content. Customize how your front page looks by subscribing to relevant sub-reddits, and then monitor what types of content is most popular within your target area.

To have the best experience, invest time on the site finding out what users are interested in, posting great content such as photos, videos, as well as up-voting and commenting on other users’ posts. There are general sub-reddits that have a high traffic volume and can span many different topics, such as /r/todayilearned (interesting facts or tidbits of info), /r/askreddit (ask Reddit users for their ideas, opinions, or stories), or /r/askmeanything (a single user is ‘interviewed’ by replying to comments on a specific AMA post). Numerous high profile business leaders and celebrities have done AMAs to spread awareness for causes or projects they’re involved in. The example of Woody Harrelson’s disastrous AMA compared to Gerard Butler’s success – both done to promote upcoming films – shows the difference between truly engaging with users versus blatantly marketing to them.

If you’re interested in reaching Reddit’s audience, but don’t have the time to commit to maintaining an account, there’s also an option for more traditional on-page advertising that can be targeted to specific sub-reddits.

Tumblr

Although Tumblr and Reddit are both focused around sharing great content, Tumblr is much more like a traditional blog. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing Tumblr right away just because you already have a company blog. The posts that do well on this platform are short, sharable, and visual. Although publishing a longer post every few weeks can make you stand out on Tumblr and give your follows more to talk about in the comments, it’s better to save text-heavy posts for your blog.

Tumblr is not a space for you to constantly push out advertising and marketing messages – no one wants to follow a brand that fills their dashboard up with spam. It’s also not just about posting content, but also curating it by sharing other users’ posts. Just like with Reddit, the key is to determine what your audience is interested in, and then give them that type of content. You can’t be all things to all people, so keep your focus on Tumblr narrow.

Sephora is a great brand to look to as an example. Their blog is filled with highly relevant content, and they always have a visual element accompanying a text post. They reward customers for visiting their page with plenty of style tips and how-to tutorials (featuring Sephora products of course). Not only are they engaging consumers, but they can drive traffic back to their website with the message “Shop Sephora.com” at the top of the page.

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Beyond the content itself, there are a number of other best practices for marketing with Tumblr. Use tags to make your posts discoverable through Tumblr’s search, and post during peak hours to increase the chance of your content being found. Make your blog accessible to non-users by allowing consumers to subscribe to you via RSS or email, and install Disqus so that anyone can post comments. You can also create categories (as Sephora has done) to keep people exploring your blog for longer. Don’t forget about SEO – optimize page titles and meta descriptions, create custom post URLS, name image files and fill out alt attribute keywords.

Before you jump on the Tumblr bandwagon, make sure this platform is right for your business by answering the following questions:

  • What do you want to achieve with your Tumblr blog (e.g. increase awareness, revenues, customer education)?
  • Who will be responsible for running the blog?
  • Who is your audience, and what will be the focus of your blog?
  • Are you able to commit to this new social media platform in the long term?

I hope this post has started you thinking outside the social media box!

Sources:

Jacob, Sherice. “The Marketer’s Guide to Reddit.” KISSmetrics.

Patel, Neil. “The Marketer’s Guide to Tumblr.” KISSmetrics.

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Getting Started with SEO

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According to the 2012 Digital Influence Index, Canadian consumers believe the Internet is more influential than their friends and family in helping to make purchase decisions. This same study found that when consumers head online to find information about brands and products, 93% use a search engine. Despite this growing trend, search engine optimization (the practice of improving and promoting your website in an effort to increase the number of search engine referred visitors) is still unfamiliar territory for many marketers – myself included!

Fortunately, this summer I have the opportunity to learn more about SEO and internet marketing as an intern with Powered by Search. To start things off, I’ve gone through The Beginner’s Guide to SEO, created by SEOmoz. Without a background in web design I wondered if the guide would be too technical to follow. However, since it was designed for beginners, it starts off with the absolute basics and explains potentially unfamiliar terms as you go along. This free resource is a great introduction to search engine optimization, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a read if you’re new to SEO or need a quick refresher.

Still not convinced? Below are some of my thoughts and key takeaways from the guide.

Beginner's Guide to SEOThe SEO Beginner’s Guide provides you with a lot of new information all at once, but the casual tone and use of fun graphics throughout keeps it from feeling like a chore to get through. It’s filled  with links to outside resources, studies, and tools that help to round out the guide, as well as some practical, hands-on activities you can try to further your learning.

One of the things I liked the most about the guide is exemplified by this quote:

Search Engine Optimization isn’t just about ‘engines.’ It’s about making your site better for people too. At SEOmoz we believe these principles go hand in hand.  

These words are some of the first that you read, and this philosophy is repeated throughout the guide. There’s a great balance between technical and practical advice. Marketers should think of SEO as more than just getting consumers to visit your website, since the site needs to satisfy these consumers’ needs once they arrive – a high search ranking won’t stop consumers from leaving your site straight away if they can’t easily find what they want!

SEO can be used by any organization to better reach consumers who are already interested in a specific product or service, and is becoming increasingly important as search has the power to drive both online and offline purchasing. SEO influences how search engines perceive both the relevance and importance (popularity) of your website; this determines whether or not your site appears in the results for a specific search, as well as what rank it’s given. Appearing higher in the search rankings is critical not only to increasing click-through traffic, but can also make your site appear more important and trustworthy to consumers. (Just think of your own online search habits – how often do you look past the first page of results?)

Despite huge advances over the years, search engines cannot understand and interpret content on a webpage the same way that people can. That’s why a key outcome of SEO is making your site visible and understandable to engines so it can be properly indexed. The most important content on a site should be in HTML text format, since search engines spiders may ignore images, Flash files, and other non-text elements. A “crawlable link structure” is also necessary if you want search engines to be able to navigate through your site and index your various pages.

Once engines can read and access your site, they’ll analyze your keywords to determine which search terms your website is a relevant match for. SEOmoz recommends using keywords naturally and strategically, ensuring that they appear in titles, text, and meta data. By researching keyword demand within your market you can learn which words or phrases to optimize your site for. Although it may be tempting to try and improve your site’s ranking for a popular search term, consider the “long tail” of search, which makes up the majority of all searches. Long tail keywords are generally more specific, increasing your opportunity to get a high ranking due to less competition, and tend to convert better as searchers are further along in the buying process. This is illustrated with the great example of comparing someone searching for “shoes” to someone searching for “Air Jordans size 12.”

Going back to the idea that search engine optimization is about both the engines and the people using them, creating high quality and useful content is another critical part of SEO.  People search to satisfy an intent (e.g. learn, fix, buy). If you craft great content that addresses the searcher’s needs, they’ll reward you by being more engaged (staying on your site for longer) and sharing the link with others. The popularity of a site is taken as a sign of higher quality to search engines, which can help boost your ranking. Since engines analyze popularity through links, building the link profile of a website or page is an important task. Creative, quality content will naturally lead people to link to your site, but SEOmoz also suggests using manual link building by reaching out to bloggers for links or submitting your site to a directory. Be wary of self-created link acquisition, such as posting a link to your site in blog comments, as they can be considered spam. The guide has a great discussion of specific spam tactics not to endorse them, but to warn SEOs that these actions could lead to search engine penalties.

I was happy to find a chapter near the end of the guide that disproved a number of common SEO myths, such as using keyword density to improve your relevancy, and buying search engine ads to improve your organic search ranking. With so much information on SEO available online, it’s great to have a resource like The Beginner’s Guide to make sure you’re following the best advice.

Finally, no SEO guide would be complete if it didn’t discuss measurement. While SEOmoz provides links to a number of different paid and unpaid alternatives for analytics software, they ultimately recommend using Google Analytics. The guide also suggests a number of metrics to track for SEO, accompanied by the sound advice that data isn’t valuable unless you have a plan for what you want to do with it. All professional SEOs will track data about rankings, referrals, links, conversion rates and more in order to analyze their SEO strategy, and apply changes where necessary.

The last thing I’ll say about this guide is that I’m even more interested in SEO now than I was before I started reading it, and I look forward to learning a lot more this summer!

What’s Your Online Reputation Saying About You?

Google Brittney S

Before graduation, most students will receive some form of advice on searching for a job. Whether it’s from a career counsellor, a professor, or a parent, students are usually told about the importance of things such as networking, writing personalized cover letters, and dressing for success. However, with over 90% of hiring professionals using social media sites to screen prospective employees, relying solely on your application to make a good first impression is no longer enough. Students must be aware of their online reputation, and the message that it’s sending to prospective employers.

Don’t let the news that employers may be looking you up online scare you. Instead, use it as an opportunity to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

“Hiding” Online Isn’t the Answer

Effectively managing your reputation means more than maximizing all of your security settings. While you should certainly start by visiting your Facebook profile to see what type of content is visible to others, hiding behind a fake name can have consequences. Kashmir Hill warns that it is increasingly “expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity,” and that it can look quite suspicious if someone isn’t using the site. Similarly, a locked Twitter account where tweets aren’t visible to the public may make employers wonder what exactly you have to hide.

Take Control of Your Reputation

Make your online reputation work for you. 68% of hiring professionals surveyed in a Reppler study responded that they have hired a candidate because of what they saw about them on a social networking site. Get a sense of what others find when they search for you by Googling your own name. Managing your reputation involves not only what you’re sharing, but also what others are sharing about you, so keep on top of your personal brand by setting up a Google Alert that will email you when new search results appear for your name. Students can also sign up for the free service provided by Reppler, which monitors your social media presence across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to identify potential issues and risks. Reppler can also show you how you are likely perceived across your social networks, such as whether you use a positive or negative tone, and the words you use most often.

Building a positive online reputation requires an investment of your time, so don’t expect it can be done overnight. Show prospective employers that you are interested in your chosen field of work by using Twitter to share relevant articles and information with your followers. Take advantage of the “Recommendations” feature on LinkedIn, which allows past employers, co-workers, and peers to write brief recommendations about your work. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, my advice is to sign up for one right away! The professional social network is free to join with a basic account, and is a great platform for prospective employers to check out your education and work or volunteer history. (If you want to enjoy LinkedIn’s advanced features a Job Seeker account starts at US $15.95 / month, but from my experience the basic account is more than enough for the average student.) I have also created a Flavors.me page (a service similar to About.me) that acts like digital business card: it features a brief introduction to who I am and directs people to my Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

Online = Forever

Remember that the things you post online shape how other people perceive you. What might seem like a fun or harmless post today could resurface in the future with damaging results. Reputation management shouldn’t end as soon as you find your first job. Not only will a positive online reputation help you the next time you need to search for a position, but it’s also important to ensuring you keep the job you do have. An employee is a representative of the company they work for, and any inappropriate photos or comments you post not only reflect poorly on you, but also on the company.

Sources:

Compare Accounts.” LinkedIn.

Hill, Kashmir. “Beware, Tech Abandoners. People Without Facebook Accounts are ‘Suspicious.’” Forbes. June 8 2012.

Learn More.” Reppler.

Swallow, Erica. “How Recruiters Use Social Networks to Screen Candidates [Infographic].” Mashable. Oct. 23 2011.

Use Google Alerts to Keep Tabs on Your Brand, Your Competitors and Pamela Anderson.” Ethnicomm – The Blog. June 23 2008.

Soial Influence: Do Brands Have Your Number?

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If you’ve ever wondered how much influence you have online, Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex are here to provide you with answer in the form of a numerical score. All three websites similarly define influence as the ability to drive or inspire action, and use information from your social media accounts to determine exactly how much social media influence you wield. Although each site uses different algorithms to calculate your score, all three take the approach of quality over quantity both in terms of your number of friends or followers, as well as the amount of content you post. Interactions and audience engagement are the keys to having high amount of online influence. To better compare these sites, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what each has to offer.

Klout

Klout provides users with an overall online influence score ranging from 1 to 100 (with 100 being the most influential). To determine your score you’re only required to connect one of your accounts, but have the option of connecting any (or all) of the following: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, foursquare, and Wikipedia. Klout measures engagement in the form of mentions, likes, retweets, +1s, comments, and so on, as well as examines who is engaging with your content and who they’re sharing it with. Key features of your Klout profile beyond your score include a display of your most influential moments, and a list of topics which you or anyone else can add to your profile to better reflect what types of content you share.

Kred

By connecting your Twitter and / or Facebook account, Kred will provide you with two different scores. Your influence score is out of a possible 1,000 points, and is based on online interactions such as retweets, replied, mentions, likes, shares, and even event invitations. Your cumulative outreach score represents how generous you are online, and takes your retweets, replies, mentions, and likes of others into account. Similar to Klout topics, your Kred activity page features the communities you are a part of (such as “Fashion,” or “Marketing”) and gives you influence and outreach scores for each. Your activity page additionally displays recent users you mention, users who mention you, most used hashtags, and both you and your friends most retweeted posts. Out of all three options, Kred has made their scoring process the most transparent, helping users understand how their influence and outreach points are being generated.

PeerIndex

Like Klout, PeerIndex provides users with an influence score ranging from 1 to 100, based on interactions from Twitter, Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn and / or your personal website. PeerIndex measures your knowledge and authority in various subjects by analyzing how you share content on any given topic. This authority is then affirmed when others retweet, share or Facebook, or otherwise engage with your content. This provides users with a list of “Top topics” accompanied by a topical PeerIndex score. Unlike Klout and Kred, other people cannot impact which topics are associated with your profile directly through the PeerIndex website. Currently, PeerIndex does not have a feature similar to the way users can give other people +Kred in a specific community or give +K on a particular topic through Klout.

Which One Should You Use?

While all three options use Twitter and Facebook to calculate influence scores, Klout has the most options for connecting additional accounts; depending on how many other social media websites you’re active on and connect, this could mean higher scores on Klout and PeerIndex than on Kred. However, since all three options offer their measurement services for free I recommend signing up for all of them to maximize the amount of data you have on your online activity. Your Kred activity page is updated in real time, while you Klout and PeerIndex scores are updated daily; however, PeerIndex warns that certain analyses happen weekly, so it may take up to a week for changes to be reflected in your score. No matter which site you use, fairly constant and continuous involvement is required to keep your score from dropping.

Need another incentive to join beyond analyzing your social media interactions? All three options offer rewards for high influencers ranging from exclusive discounts to entirely free items. Klout Perks are rewarded based on your score, topics, and location. Kred rewards are similarly given out based on your communities and location. PeerPerks are available to users based on influence scores, and are featured on your homepage as soon as you sign in.

How Legitimate are these Tools for Measuring Social Influence?

Although the algorithms aren’t perfect yet, I think that these tools are a strong starting point for understanding how engaged a social media user’s audience is. However, in their present state, I don’t think they can be relied on to always provide an accurate picture of a user’s ability to influence others. The possibility of “gaming the system” (discussed below), combined with points raised by Sean Carlos and Erik Kain have left me unable to completely trust in social influence scores.

Sean points out that both Kred and Klout allow users to endorse others, thus raising their overall influence score. Not everyone believes in measuring online influence yet, meaning that those who choose to participate on these sites and associate with others users can be rewarded with higher scores. Similarly, the more accounts you connect to your profile on each website the more your total score can be raised, again rewarding users of these tools with higher scores. Although Sean points to PeerIndex as the exception to the +K and +Kred effect, I noticed that this site assigns everyone in your network a PeerIndex score whether they have signed up or not. If you have not registered with the site they do not have access to all of your data, and therefore your score can’t possibly be an accurate reflection of your influence.

One of the most compelling arguments against the accuracy of influence measurement sites was made by Erik when he compared his own Klout score to Warren Buffet’s. At the time, Erik explained, Buffett’s score was “a measly 35, which means he has absolutely no influence at all… at least compared to me.” In this case, a Klout influence score failed to accurately compare the ability of one person to drive action online versus the other.

Right now I believe sites such as Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex are best used for quickly gathering a sense of who is active on social media, and whether they’re sending out meaningful content that others like and share (versus simply using these platforms to broadcast what they had for lunch).

Increasing Your Klout Score

Currently I have a Klout Score of 54 – not bad considering the average score is 40, but I’d certainly like to see it climb higher. There are a number of strategies you can use to boost your score, and I’ve outlined my 5 favorites below.

1. Connect multiple accounts

Klout promises that adding additional accounts can only ever improve your score. Although you may have one favorite social media site, spend time developing your presence elsewhere to give people more of an opportunity to connect with you.

2. Have one-to-one conversations

It may seem obvious, but sometimes we can get so focused on producing our own content we forget to engage with what other people are sending out. Share your opinion by replying or commenting on posts, or start a conversation by tweeting a well thought-out question at someone. You’ll see your number of mentions and replies increase in response.

3. Share information relevant to your niche

If you’re a marketer, share industry news and tips or how-to’s that are relevant to other marketers. Klout tells you what your most influential moments were from the past 90s days, which you can use as an indication of what type of content most interests your audience.

4. Get strategic

Social media management systems, such as HootSuite, not only let you track what content your audience has engaged with the most, but also allows you to write tweets in advance and schedule when they will be posted. Why is this important? Studies show that there are key times to post on Twitter and Facebook in order to maximize visibility.

5. Stick with it

Don’t get discouraged if your Klout score doesn’t jump 8 points overnight. Building up your online influence takes time, but if your attention wanes and you find yourself only posting sporadically this can bring your score back down.

The possibility of people “gaming the system” in order to raise their scores has the validity of Klout, along with other social influence measurement sites, still in question. I believe that the tips I’ve highlighted are legitimate ways to influence the level of engagement you have with your friends and followers, which should in turn rightly lead to higher scores. Interacting with others and providing them with relevant content isn’t cheating – it’s precisely what social media is all about. Lavall Chichester and Samantha Murphy have both written about the issue of gaming the system, and feel that what constitutes bad behaviour is being “sneaky,” and insincere in an effort to raise your Klout. For example, since Klout takes the score of people who engage with your content into consideration, one way to try and increase your score quickly is to target conversations with high Klout influencers. While reaching out and interacting with others is a huge part of using social media, ignoring a large majority of people in favor of influencers coupled with the sole intention of boosting your score (versus engaging in a meaningful dialogue) is not going to get you far in the long run. Although Klout continues to improve their algorithm to identify things such as bots, it is still possible for people to create multiple Twitter accounts and interact with themselves (replying to or retweeting their main account content), as well as use these handles to sign up for Klout and give themselves +K. Comparing these types of strategies to the methods I listed above, it’s clear that gaming the system involves a level of deceit quite separate from taking a genuine interest in increasing your audience’s engagement with your content.

Using Social Influence for Business

Tools that measure online influence provide businesses with the opportunity to connect not only with consumers who have an engaged online audience, but they can also use topic and community features to identify which subjects consumers are most influential on. Having a celebrity or thought leader in particular space, such as fashion, endorse your brand is an expensive endeavor, plus it puts all of your eggs in one basket; you are relying on the ability of one person (albeit a high profile one) to influence the actions of others. PeerIndex CEO Azeem Azhar identified a group he calls the “magic middle;” while brands are able to easily identify top bloggers and celebrities, finding this middle group of people who have strong reputations and a higher than average reach has always been a more challenging. Now companies like PeerIndex will work with businesses, for a fee of course, to put them in contact with people whose opinion matters on particular subjects. Using Klout for example, your brand could find a list of users who have a minimum score of 60, are influential on the topic of “fashion,” and live in Ontario. You could then send these consumers perks such as a gift card and an invitation to the opening of your newest store. People who receive perks are not obligated to share anything about your brand with their followers, but the hope is that they enjoy the discount or free sample so much that they genuinely want others to know about it. Alternatively, you may choose to provide rewards and perks to anyone above a certain threshold score, again in an effort to get influential people talking about your brand online. Consumers are increasingly more likely to trust the recommendations and opinions of their friends and network than brands.

Sources:

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