SEO Moneyball: Taking Advantage of Facebook Hashtags

Nashville SEO associate Jackson Martin's Moneyball image is shown, featuring a man on a baseball diamond.

The media was quick to say that Facebook’s addition of hashtags was a complete failure. The social media giant “borrowed” the use of the symbol from competitor Twitter, and the backlash was immediate and harsh.

But those headlines didn’t look at the real data. While the public at large has been slow to integrate hashtags into everyday posts, businesses are including hashtags in nearly 20% of all posts.

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The research also shows that posts with hashtags in them have not yet started to receive more engagement than posts without them, further confirming that the public has been slow to adapt to the change on Facebook.

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Just like with Twitter, Facebook users will slowly become accustomed to using hashtags to search for posts. Use of the hashtag has taken off on other networks like Instagram and Vine already, and there is no reason why it won’t do the same on Facebook.

Even if the general public never increases its own use of the hashtag, businesses will continue to take advantage of the indexing and search purposes the symbol brings them. The point of a hashtag isn’t just to receive more engagement directly (although it does help);  the main goal is to boost the amount of eyeballs that will come across the post.

Where hashtags seem to have the most effectiveness is with mobile social network users. A study by RadiumOne discovered that 70% of consumers favor using hashtags on mobile networks and that over half of those mobile users felt motivated to explore new content when hashtags were present.

That study found that 58% of social network users as a whole use hashtags, a number that can only go up with Facebook’s integration of the function. It also found that 43% of users think hashtags are useful, and 34% of users searched for content using hashtags.

The survey found another way that businesses can utilize hashtags for maximum effectiveness: 51% of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product based hashtags.

Smart businesses have already started to take advantage of the function. American Express is creating media buzz for its #PassionProject campaign by using the hashtag across all social networks. By using one focused hashtag for the entire campaign, the company has seen six times the engagement on posts using the #PassionProject tag than all other posts.

Other effective ways to use hashtags can be a focused tag for seasonal products or campaigns, “Newsjacking” popular topics to increase engagement, running contests or promotions under one hashtag, or utilizing a creative talent to make funny or inspired posts on already trending topics. A good example is Oreo’s brilliant social media strategy during the Super Bowl power outage.

When to “Newsjack”

However your business uses hashtags, it’s time to extend that strategy to Facebook. Even in the early days of the function, studies have shown that utilizing hashtags won’t hurt posts and, if used correctly, can significantly boost engagement on certain posts, driving business your way.

Jackson on Google+


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SEO Moneyball: Diversify Your Social Media Presence

Nashville SEO associate Jackson Martin's Moneyball image is shown, featuring a man on a baseball diamond.

The goal of Moneyball is to get the best results out of the least money spent. In other words, Billy Beane viewed his baseball team as a business, looking to get the best value or ROI. Beane’s Oakland teams made the playoffs four straight years in the early 2000s despite being in the bottom five teams in salary.

As a sports fan and a sportswriter, reading Moneyball changed the way I look at baseball like few other things have. Each week, I’ll try to do the same thing with SEO for you in this series, SEO MoneyBall, using some deeper statistics to give you a better look at how to improve your web presence. This week, I look at the best ways to share on social media.

When it comes to social media, you want to stand out. Among the millions and millions of online profiles, yours must grab attention to be effective. That’s why it can be a huge help to your business to diversify your social media presence. A Gigya survey reveals some fascinating insights into the world of social media as of June 2013, and I’ll touch on some of these here.

Facebook is king in social media. Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild is responsible for 52 percent of all social logins and 50 percent of shared content on social media.

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There are a couple of ways to look at this. The glaringly obvious one is that Facebook gives you the most potential eyeballs on your content. Each share has the possibility to gain a greater reach and give you a better ROI. As I wrote earlier, each Facebook like is tremendously valuable and spreads your reach exponentially.

However, we can also look at this and say that with so many shares on Facebook, it is harder to gain a foothold or be noticed among so much white noise. That’s why, while Facebook can be your primary focus, you need to focus on other social networks as well.

Google made the most gains of any social competitor, and has doubled its share of logins to 24 percent this year. This data groups together a few of Google’s social networks, with the most prominent being Google+. Interestingly enough, those Google social networks only accounted for two percent of social sharing despite the increase in logins.

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On the other side of that coin are Twitter and Pinterest. Twitter accounts for just four percent of all social logins, and a whopping 24 percent of all social sharing. Pinterest has a negligible percentage of social logins, but is responsible for 16 percent of all sharing.

The biggest place to utilize these numbers for businesses is the e-commerce category of the study. That category is where we see the real value of Pinterest. Again, despite accounting for a negligible percentage of social logins, the social network accounts for 41 percent of shares in e-commerce, topping even Facebook.

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“Pinterest users tend to pin items that they want to purchase later or that they’ve already purchased. A number of Gigya ecommerce clients cater to largely female audiences, and so does Pinterest, which could be one reason why Pinterest has such a heavy presence in e-commerce sharing,” said John Eklaim, vice president of marketing at Gigya.

Retailers in particular can use these percentages to their advantage. When looking for the best way to get a lot of shares quickly, posting content tailored to the specific social network is the most effective strategy.

“Users see networks like Facebook and Google+ as identity networks whereas Twitter is really about syndication and that falls in line with the essence of what those networks offer,” Elkaim said. “Facebook and Google+ offer pretty robust profiles but that’s not really what Twitter was designed for. Rather, the focus is on constant sharing, not as heavily tied to identity.”

Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are your networks to truly show off the personality of your company. Be funny, be insightful, but most of all have fun. Like Elkaim says, Facebook and Google+ are identity networks, and you should utilize them as such. Even though Twitter is more for content syndication, adding in as much personality as possible in 140 characters can take your social media campaigns a long way.

To post on Pinterest, you should focus on pictures and meaningful graphics. Colorful images will get shares on the site.

It’s all about knowing your audience in advertising, and social media is no different. Different networks have different tastes, and you need to play to them to find success. A blanket social media strategy that posts the exact same content to different channels won’t set you apart.

There are many ways to Moneyball your social media, but diversifying your social presence and focusing on key areas of each network can be the easiest, and most effective.

Jackson on Google+


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SEO Moneyball: The Value of a Like

Nashville SEO associate Jackson Martin's Moneyball image is shown, featuring a man on a baseball diamond.

The goal of Moneyball is to get the best results out of the least money spent. In other words, Billy Beane viewed his baseball team as a business, looking to get the best value or ROI. Beane’s Oakland teams made the playoffs four straight years in the early 2000s despite being in the bottom five teams in salary.

As a sports fan and a sportswriter, reading Moneyball changed the way I look at baseball like few other things have. Each week, I’ll try to do the same thing with SEO for you in this series, SEO MoneyBall, using some deeper statistics to give you a better look at how to improve your web presence. This week, I look at a study on the value of social media followers for businesses.

Beyond SEO efforts to rank on Google, another simple and efficient way to improve your business is to ramp up your social media presence. A few weeks ago, I detailed some powerful reasons to focus on social media, but today I’ll once again take a more numbers-based approach to the topic.

Social media is cheap. Like, dirt-cheap. Depending on how you handle your social media, it may even be free (other than the time it takes you to manage the accounts). In an effort to Moneyball your business efforts, there may not be a more powerful tool than a well-run social media campaign. Social media has now even been shown to impact your SEO efforts as well.

The message of Moneyball got lost a little bit in the Brad Pitt movie. The true success of Billy Beane’s Oakland teams was not that they won more games than before- they didn’t, by the way- but that they continued to win 95+ games a year despite having one of the five lowest payrolls in the league.  Social media is your dirt-cheap way to win the metaphorical equivalent of 95+ games with minimal expenses.

Something we look at often in baseball statistics is Wins Above Replacement. Basically, it is a stat that compares a player to a readily available replacement player at the same position. In using some reverse mathematical maneuvering, that formula places the value of a 1.0 WAR player (a player worth 1 win more than a readily available replacement) at $5 million. So, when assembling a roster, the general consensus is that you pay about $5 million per WAR for a player.

Let’s pretend that Facebook likes are these replacement-level players. We want to find out how valuable each Like Over Replacement (There isn’t really a replacement we’re going against here, but let me have this one) is. This study by Syncapse tried to find that exact value.Set featured image

jonah hill

You have to sign up to get the whole study, but I can summarize some of the findings for you. Basically, by studying motivations for becoming a fan on Facebook, Syncapse was able to assign a dollar value to each Like.

Perhaps most importantly, this study found that 78% of fans on a Facebook page are already customers.

“Since being a brand user is usually a prerequisite to becoming a Fan in consumer goods categories, marketers should prioritize their Fan acquisition investments on converting existing customers,” Syncapse said in its report. “Not only is acquisition cost and conversion friction lower, but the investment in a higher quality Fan base will reap rewards down the line, and this is true for both lower-cost and higher-cost consumer brands.”

Using this, as well as other statistics, Syncapse calculated the value of a Like to be $174.17, an increase from the $136.38 that the same study found in 2010. With a little bit of effort and focus on the part of your company (and the help of Facebook’s excellent promotion tools) it isn’t too difficult to boost your following.

How did Syncapse come to this conclusion? Well, as you can see in the chart below, they found that a Facebook fan will spend on average $255 as opposed to $139 spend by a non-fan. Facebook fans are also far more likely to recommend a brand to friends, purchase a product and be content with a brand than non-fans.

Value of a Like

Return on Investment is our best way to look at effectiveness of social media. Think about ROI as our version of WAR. We’re trying to get those wins (dollar dollar bills, y’all) for the lowest cost possible. When you start thinking about Facebook Likes as an important part of those wins, it becomes clear that converting customers into Facebook followers and vice versa should be near the top of that strategy.

As the study shows us, there is a strong correlation between Facebook followers and dollars in your pocket. Syncapse reminds us that at a minimal cost, social media can still have powerful results.

Jackson on Google+

Need more SEO Moneyball? Check out these posts!

SEO Moneyball Series

SEO Moneyball: Taking Advantage of Facebook Hashtags

SEO Moneyball: Diversify Your Social Media Presence

The Power of Social Media

The power of social media is in your hands
The power of social media is in your hands

It’s been beaten into your brain over and over again that you HAVE to use social media to market yourself and your company in today’s business world.

I could throw a whole bunch of numbers around to belabor that point, like that Facebook alone has 850 million active monthly users or that 50% of all small business owners have reported getting new customers from social media. I could also tell you that more and more companies are recognizing the opportunities available and reaping the immense benefits of these channels. Or, I could break it down into three important reasons why you should make social media a marketing focus.

Before that, I’ll give you one more statistic: 27% of total internet time in the US is spent on social media and social networking sites, while 15% of mobile internet time is spent on those same sites. With such a vast network of eyeballs out there to consume your product, there are some major perks to focusing on social media in advertising. The Big Three (not LeBron, Bosh and Wade) are:

The Big Three of Social Media

It’s free! Or at least cheap!

The major social media channels are completely free to use. Promoting your company to the millions of eyeballs on those channels costs absolutely nothing. While Facebook and Twitter allow more advanced options for a cost, having a company account is free.

However, it does make sense for companies of at least moderate size to have a dedicated person to manage their social media outreach. With the rapid dissemination of posts comes the need to respond quickly to customers as well.

It allows you to engage and interact with your customers.

A well-run social media campaign will generate not only webpage views, but plenty of responses and interaction from customers. These interactions can be great for your business if appropriately handled, but ignoring customers or mishandling their comments can result in a bad reputation and lost business opportunities.

Today’s media cycle runs faster than ever before. A sizable percentage of customers expect a response to their social media interaction within an hour of posting. Because so many customers respond best to word-of-mouth, having a vocal complaint from a known customer can do a disproportionate amount of damage to sales.

The results are measurable.

Using built-in statistics from these sites helps you track the overall reach of your message, how much your customers interact with you, and even how many of your sales you can attribute to your social media following.

Utilizing these free reports, even a novice at social media can see what works and what doesn’t.  By taking advantage of the analytical dashboards on sites like Facebook to see the results of their efforts in real time, companies can tailor their marketing approach faster and more effectively than ever before.

Because the benefits of social media as a marketing tool are so clear, there are more and more companies on each channel every day. By taking advantage of the various channels available, you can add a strong marketing presence to your company with a lower cost and often greater benefit than you can with traditional media.

Jackson on Google+

Give Customers a Reason to Follow You on Social Media

For larger brands like Apple, Pepsi, and Chipotle, it’s not too difficult to make a splash on social media.  They simply show up to the digital party and collect their millions of fans fairly quickly thanks to their outstanding levels of brand awareness and popularity.  However, if you run a small business, it’s significantly more difficult to build up a dedicated army of social followers that will interact with your posts consistently.  Therefore, for smaller companies and less visible brands particularly, it’s important to give your current and future customers a reason to take the time to find you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.

A follow us on Twitter button
I ain’t saying you need to throw grammatical rules out the window. Just give people reasons to listen.

So what counts as a “good reason” to get someone to connect with you on your social networks? That’s the million dollar question, and it really depends on the nature of what your business does and what sorts of things customers in your target market will likely respond to.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Coupons- Giving away coupons and other special offers is a very common practice amongst smaller businesses.  Make sure that the offer is noteworthy enough to really draw interest.  However, you should note that you run the risk of someone liking your company to get the offer and then unliking you afterward, so try to combat this by posting interesting, helpful content on a regular basis.
  • Prizes- Instead of instantly granting a coupon for any like or follow, some companies go for a sweepstakes-style approach, exchanging a like for a chance to be entered into a drawing (or multiple drawings that occur periodically).  Because a sweepstakes is usually accompanied by long odds, you need to make the prize particularly enticing if you want to see significant action from customers.
  • Helpful information- Again, this will vary depending on the industry your firm competes in.  Restaurants should consider keeping customers up to date on things like specials and new menu items.  Entertainment venues can announce upcoming events and update show information.  A shoe store might announce sales on certain brands.  You’re only limited by your offerings and your imagination.
  • Donations to charity-  If your business works with a non-profit, it can actually be fairly effective to offer to contribute a small donation in exchange for each unique like or follow.  In this case, you give the non-profit an incentive to promote your social channels as well.

Like most social initiatives, strategizing to increase follower count should be a fun opportunity to let your creative marketing juices flow.  Try to think outside the box to come up with radical incentives that really catch customers’ eyes.

James on Google+

Use Incentives to Get More Facebook and Twitter Followers

One of the things that often keeps me up at night is how to get more followers on social media accounts.  There are a number of creative ways to do this (which is why my job is so fun at times), but today I’m going to focus on one that I had an experience with recently.

A couple of days ago, I stopped at a bagel place for lunch.  When I got to the register and paid, I was given a little promotional stub along with my receipt.  On the stub was a deal offering three free bagels to anybody that signed up for their membership club or liked their Facebook page. And while I know it’s a little sad that these are the things that excite me, I couldn’t wait to talk about some of the little things that make this a good idea.

A bagel.
A bagel.

There are four things to notice here.

First, it’s important to use offline channels to boost your online channels to customers.  There are places to promote your social accounts other than your website or email blasts.  Promoting your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest at your physical location(s) is just as important and can be just as effective as digital alternatives.

Second, sometimes businesses do promote at physical locations, but the social indicators are not exhibited in a highly visible, prominent spot.  One of the most obvious and most effective places I’ve seen used regularly is the restaurant menu.  Anything near the register is a safe bet, too. The fact that I was handed something made it virtually impossible for me to miss the promo.

Next, offering something in exchange for a like or follow (like bagels!) isn’t such a bad idea either, but make sure what your offering is worth the customers’ while.  You don’t want to insult them.

Last, I like how they give the customer a choice.   That way, even if the patron isn’t into the whole interacting-with-brands-on-social-media-thing,  the bagel place can still potentially get them signed up for their membership program and add value to his or her experience in another way. Either way, the customer is interacting with your business in some fashion, and you’ll stay in his or her mind for longer.

That’s all for now. Happy Friday.



James on Google+

One Facebook Like Strategy to Avoid

In social media, getting likes/followers/buddies is important.  It helps expand reach, increases the probability of interactions from customers, and provides an important social cue to potential customers visiting your social media profiles for the first time.  All of these factors can help improve your business’s bottom line (directly and indirectly) over time.  However, this process can be more difficult than one might think. Thus, I’m always interested when I come across different strategies companies use to increase their following.  Recently, I found one technique that your business should never, ever utilize.

While looking for some good content to read the other day, I came across a website that told me that in order to peruse the article that I had just found via Google, I first had to like the website’s Facebook page.  Not only did I refuse to like the page, but I was so annoyed that a company would try this that I left the site with a terrible impression of the publishers.

Do not do this. Ever. Please.

First of all, this whole “like to access” idea doesn’t even make sense. Why would people like your Facebook page when they don’t even have any experience with the content on it in the first place?  Second, the idea is to make people want more content from you, not trap them into some contract whereby they have to listen to your thoughts regularly.  Instead of strong arming people to follow your brand, provide entertaining, informative content that people will want to share with their friends.  Forced interaction causes hard feelings and drives away potential consumers.

James on Google+