How to Write Effective Facebook Posts

5000 characters, it’s a post not an essay! That’s how much room you have to get your message across on a Facebook post. This doesn’t mean you should use them all up. If I had to read a 5000-character post on Facebook, I don’t think I would ever get to the bottom and read the ending of your story or point… would you? If you need 5000 characters, I would suggest you write it in a blog post.

How to write effective posts on Facebook

Image by Ludovic Toinel on Flickr CC, text added by me.

You have on average a lifetime value of 2 and half hours for your post to be in your fans’ newsfeed, according to Facebook Edgerank. So, how do you get the right type of message out at the best times? What type of posts should I share? How do I drive engagement on my page?

Think message first!

Your message is key when writing effective posts. You need your message to target your fans. Everyone hates a selly-sell post – it’s just not cool. You need to think of a message that doesn’t sell your products but will drive traffic to your website or get people interested in your product.

For instance, I’m writing this blog to help you learn to write more effective posts on Facebook. Some will take this info and use it to their benefit, others won’t and may call me to help them with it, or they’ll appreciate that I’ve helped them with this useful info, and then go and find out more about me and see I offer other services that benefit them too. You need to think like this with your posts too. Don’t sell direct, but create a path for them to buy.

Facebook Insights

You need to test different types of posts at different times to see what drives the most engagement. Facebook insights is your friend, and they even tell you what types of posts are doing well and not so well, when’s the best time to post, what type of posts you should posting and so much more.

Here’s another tip, don’t think that because you shared a text only post at 8am and it didn’t do well that the result would be the same at 5pm. Use your insights to determine what type of action you want your readers to take. As you see in the image below, both messages are the same but the ways they have been shared are different. The image may drive more engagement but the link block might drive more traffic. You’ll need to use a link shortener tool to analyse the amount of clicks your links get or use Google Analytics to look at the traffic sent to your website. Once you share different types of posts you will see which is best for the type of action you want your fans to take.

hubspot link post facebook

Hubspot link post facebook © HubSpot

Use Google Analytics

If your strategy is to drive traffic to your website, you’ll want to look at previous campaigns and see what types of content drove the most traffic to your website. Even look at what drove the most traffic in the previous month, last year, or even over the whole year before. Some types of content are seasonal, but they can also have a lasting affect over a longer period. Analyse the types of content that did well and this will help you determine what your next post will be on Facebook.

Spark a Reaction

I read this somewhere and I can’t remember where. “It’s not what people read or hear, it’s how you made them feel.” WOW! It’s so true. So much value is being offered on the web and so many people are shouting their message, but what gets your attention is feelings. If I see a great video like the ones Heineken do that made me laugh or read one of those rare posts that sparks a reaction within you, it makes you feel something inside that other posts don’t. Do more of this and you’ll be a sure winner.

Ask them to do something

Some marketers think you shouldn’t ask for a like, a share or comment below as it may look too needy. I don’t. Here’s why. Think about it for a second – since we were born, we have been taught to do what we are told from a young age; our parents asking to tidy our room and teachers telling us to be quiet in class. Human beings have it ingrained in them to do what they are told, as sometimes we wouldn’t do it off our own backs. On websites, we ask people to ‘click here’ or ‘buy now’ and test them to see if we can increase conversions, because human behaviour tells us we’ll do it as long as we are asked. If I’m not asked though, I won’t. It’s the same as asking for a like, share or comment – the user might find your post one of the best he has read all day, but he might not show his love unless we ask. Just ask and see what happens.

Invite audience participation

This is something I love with one of my pages I look after. Here at Welcome to Scotland, we don’t have a professional photographer taking pictures all over Scotland, as it’s too vast. The best images come from our audience. I ask them to share their favourite images whilst taking adventures and holidays all over Scotland, and they send in amazing images. I’ll use these within our posts and credit them with the image, they get celebrity status and show all their friends and family, and we get lots of new likes and fans. You can find a way to bring your audience to life too.

Summary

Facebook isn’t as easy as it used to be to market your business on, especially as they’re looking to find more ways to make money and it’s only companies who are going to be handing over their advertising budgets to Facebook in return for success that they’re interested in. Trying different types of posts at different times will help you to get the best message out at a time when most fans are online. Facebook is a long game, but if you can follow these tips and methods then you too can gain benefits from Facebook Marketing by posting the most effective posts.

Do you have any other tips to add to this list? Are you struggling with Facebook Marketing? Are you having success on Facebook? Please share your comments below.


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Google Glass: The Future is not High-Tech Specs

As anybody that has even just a passing acquaintance with myself will testify, I am no stranger to elaborate eyewear. I give to you, exhibit A:

White Raybans - Stephen McLeod Blythe

Exhibit A – the White RayBans

As well as my ubiquitous white Wayfarer specs, I’ve been known to dabble in other areas, such as frames hand-crafted out of real wood:

wooden glasses

Exhibit B

and… well… you can see the next picture for yourself.

However, I would definitely not wear Google Glass.

Stephen Balaban wearing Google Glass


There’s no getting away from it: Google Glass isn’t all that pretty.

Pure aesthetic design reasons aside though, there are many reasons why Google Glass in its current form will fail to become an omnipresent part of our everyday lives. There’s a lot of talk about the ‘wearable technology’ such as fitness trackers and smart-watches – as well as their merits. Thing is, the one big difference between Google Glass and these other gadgets is that whilst the latter can be hidden away on a trouser waistband or under a sleeve, these tech-specs are planked right in the middle of your face.

This might still sound like it’s a complaint about looks, but bear with me here. If we accept that the technology involved will eventually develop to the extent that it can be incorporated easily into frames that people might actually choose to wear (and not to mention overlooking about the cardinal sin of wearing glasses without lenses), there are still issues with the widespread mainstream proliferation of sight-based technology such as Google Glass that is so visibly obvious.

Ehh, take that off and look me in the eyes please

There have already been stories of bars and businesses banning wearers of Google Glass – and for good reason. Ever been on a train or other public place and become aware of another person holding up their mobile in your direction? The inclusion of discreet cameras in phones has made us suspicious of people even when they aren’t necessarily engaging in anything untoward; the mere possibility that they could be sneakily taking a picture or video of us is un-nerving – and that’s the crux of the matter.

Whilst at least with mobile phones we have relative peace of mind given that they need to actually be pointed towards us in some sort of fashion to effectively record, Google Glass perfectly aligns with our field of vision – with the possibility of doing a whole lot more than just capturing potentially invasive moments. Rather than an addition to already existing features, the primary feature of Glass is to take in and analyse the ‘data’ of everyday life – and I simply don’t believe that it’s something that people will be prepared to accept. Even where people have ‘nothing to hide’ (and oh, how I hate that phrase), having the visible, perpetual presence of a device such as Glass will fundamentally alter the dynamics of every part of our face-to-face interactions… and not for the better.

The future of ‘wearable’ technology’

Don’t get me wrong, it is inevitable that integration with our eyesight is in the future of technology – it would be foolish to suggest otherwise. However, what most of the conversations by geeks and commentators foaming at the mouth fail to realise is that even Google Glass is in itself just a concept; not the determined shape of things to come. There will be a place for this sort of interface, but it has to intertwine so closely with the way we live to become forgettable… and thus, the future of wearable technology is not in high-tech specs. If you can offer me some invisible Google contacts, now then I might be interested…

Google Glass image by Stephen Balaban (iPhone at Hacker Dojo in Mountainview) CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Being won over by Google+ Communities

Despite being well aware of the inevitability, I still had my doubts that it would actually happen in reality. Today, I must confess that I have wholeheartedly adopted use of Google+
There’s no doubt that this is due in part to the implementation of Google Authorship (click through for a more on this elsewhere), but I could just as easily treat my G+ account as a static placeholder required for SEO purposes… so there’s more to it than this alone. In truth, the real reason I’ve found myself drawn to Google’s service lies deeper within the included functionality, and perhaps most shockingly of all, is actually to do with a social part of it – Google Communities.

Online collaboration – how things used to be

It’s worth remembering that this phenomenom of posting updates as public messages directly onto somebody else’s profile directly is a fairly recent development, coming into being organically on Myspace (remember that?). Before this, meaningful (and not so meaningful) interaction on the web was conducted in interest specific conclaves, whether that was on messageboards or newsgroups. Discussions lived or died depending on the ethusiasm for a particular topic, with people establishing a presence over time based on their contributions… not solely on a single point of reference as is the case with a Facebook style profile.

Google+ Communities

If, however, people have largely migrated from group discussion platforms towards those that are more individual-centric, then what’s so different about communities in G+? The answer isn’t anything terribly earth shattering. Quite simply, Google have managed to create a system that’s fully integrated into the other services that we find ourselves using daily, and actually managed to make it a pleasant experience.

Facebook groups – a social network failure

Whatever Facebook have managed to do well, its interface is not one of them. Infact, it’s often horrible to use. Posting is clunky, uploading pictures is temperamental at the best of times, search seems to operate on rules known only to itself, and the feeble implementation of a group feature has proven to be particularly arduous to use. In stark contrast, Google Communities have a slick, streamlined design that actually worksand makes posting and keeping track of a team workflow incredibly straightforward. This is especially true if you use Gmail, where comments can be made directly from within notification emails. Google have taken the best bits of the old collaborative approaches of the Internet and coupled it with the benefits offered by the social network model.

Don’t underestimate Google

Perhaps the biggest mistake of all is to assume that with the creation of G+, Google was just trying to re-invent the wheel and take on Facebook directly at their own game. This clever shift from the profile and status of the individual (at least for collaboration if not necessarily publishing) might well prove to be key to its success, as groups find out the advantages that it offers.

Image used under Creative Commons License – Stuart Maxwell.

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Are Hangouts The Best Thing About Google+?

Ah, Google+, the Marmite of social networks, you either love it or hate it. Recent reports suggest that users are spending less time on the network than ever. Regardless of that, the functionality of Google+ is pretty sweet, one feature, Hangouts have a lot to offer businesses and individuals alike. Read on for the lowdown on Hangouts and some great tips for their use.

Google+ Hangouts

A Hangout is a multi-user video chat tool, which enables you to chat with up to nine other people in one go. Google+ Hangouts are extremely easy to set up. Simply hit the Hangout button on the right-hand side of your Google+ home page, install the plugin and invite your chosen contacts to join the conversation.

Features

  • Preliminary Green Room- check your hair, make sure your mic is working and that your background is suitably professional.
  • Share Videos- any videos already on the web can be shared in that hangout
  • Google are looking to roll out a feature that enables all users to broadcast their hangouts ‘on air'; this will allow anyone to watch them live or play them back later.

8 Ways Businesses can use Google+ Hangouts

  1. Customer Service: Encouraging customers to connect with you via hangouts will improve your business relationship. You can have conversations with several people within the same company at once as opposed to the restrictions that a phone call or singular video call affords you.
  2. Product Demonstrations: Eliminate the need to mail out samples to customers. If you can demonstrate effectively the features of a product to a group of customers at once, this could alleviate the delay and cost incurred by sending samples.
  3. Networking: Google+ hangouts could take social media networking to the next level. Rather than simply connecting through written forms of communication, having a face-to face chat with online contacts could strengthen a relationship.
  4. Business Meetings: Many businesses are now based in different locations around the country or even the world. Google+ hangouts allow meetings of a quite sizeable number of people without distance getting in the way.
  5. Online Courses: Run classes, coaching sessions, or seminars online. A step forward from simply posting video tutorials, you can receive real time feedback and be able to answer questions straight away.
  6. Problem Resolution: Currently, many customers will take to Twitter to air their grievances about a brand or product and receive an almost immediate response. Google+ hangouts could revolutionise this complaint system even further. Customers can illustrate the defects of their product and receive a real time response.This will improve efficiency on problem resolution.
  7. Personal Branding: Developing a personal brand online has become increasingly important as the power of social media grows. Google+ could take this to the next level. Already through profile pictures and gravatars people are become recognisable and associated with their personal brand. Google+ hangouts could brilliantly support this as they will become not only visually recognisable but people sk them questions and hear their thoughts on topics within their niche.
  8. Market Research: Host focus group hangouts for current or potential customers. You will receive real time reviews of your products or services with a much easier and less time consuming set up than hosting a focus group in person.

So what do you think about Google+ Hangouts? Will you give them a go?

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Nicholas Montgomery Interview – Part 2

The second part of our two-part interview with Nicholas Montgomery,a 16-year-old technology blogger, podcaster, entrepreneur, and regular tech expert on The Marilyn Denis Show in Canada... See the first part here.

Photo courtesy of CTV

You often write about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how to be motivated for success. What is your inspiration and where are you headed with this?

My inspiration for writing about entrepreneurs is that they try to solve real problems and leave an impact on the world. I admire entrepreneurs who see issues and can offer solutions without letting any barriers get in the way. I myself have started a social organization called One Plant Per Class . Fortune 500 companies and academic studies have shown productivity increases and a more positive mental state can arise just from having one plant in the room. I decided to take action at my school and I ‘ m now amidst working with the fourth largest school board in Canada, The Toronto District School Board, to get one plant in every classroom. It isn’t going to revolutionize education, but it is a small change that will have a huge impact on students. Most importantly, I want to inspire other young adults, who may also have an idea to improve education, to share it with the world.

What is the one piece of advice that you want to continually remind yourself of as you progress with your career?

“Happiness isn’t the absence of problems, but how you deal with them.”  –  Siddhārtha Gautama

I love this quote because some things in life that happen are just simply out of your control and you can only control how you deal with them.

What tech predictions do you have for 2012?

A strong Google+ presence will become more important than Twitter.  For the past few days, I’ve been testing out the Search Plus your World changes and the implications are mind-blowing. What the update does is change the search algorithm to place a much greater emphasis on what your Google+ friends are sharing. Every single search page is now personalized. Even if they aren’t signed-in to their Google+ account, previous search history, geo location and other search behaviour is taken into consideration. For example, Gary Vanyerchuk is in one of my circles and when I searched Facebook on Google. The fourth result was Gary Vaynerchuk’s Facebook page – not because of him having the most link backs or best SEO optimization, but it was because he had previously shared it. To appear on the search results page above the paid ads (of very competitive keywords) it only takes a few thousands fans. Try searching cars for instance; right now it only takes Ferrari 6,350 fans to appear at the top of search results, above the paid results. By having Ferrari included in my circle it also means they have an impact on what I see in my search results. Searching for fast cars? They may have shared a fast car on Google+, so it will influence my search results.

3-D Printers will change the economy, taking China out of the picture in the next 3-5 years.  Both Canada and the U.S. have primarily outsourced majority of its manufacturing to China. At the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Makerbot showcased a 3-D printer that you can purchase for your home for $1,749.00 – not exactly within the average budget for a printer. Also, it is not practical as it takes hours to print. However, flat-screen prices have fallen 800% in the past decade and have greatly improved. Three-dimensional printing from digital designs will transform manufacturing and allow more people to start making things. Soon, I believe everyone will have a printer in their house, a bucket of raw materials and we’ll just buy the blueprints to make basic objects that are one material based and have it in our house within an hour. This takes China out of the picture because we’re doing all the manufacturing ourselves. We won’t be able to make iPods on 3-D printers (yet), but for most basic objects that are one material based, we’ll be able to print ourselves in the comfort of our homes.

Everyone will learn basic coding skills.  Initiatives such as CodeYear are showing people, who want to learn, how to write code. Already 355,739 people have signed up for the 2012 weekly programming lessons. Even the Mayor of New York City has signed up . Local initiatives, for instance Ladies Learning Code in Toronto, are popping up to help people learn basic coding skills.

Tech expert Nicholas Montgomery can be seen regularly on THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW, which airs Weekdays at 10 a.m. ET on CTV, 11 a.m. ET on CTV Two and on-demand at marilyn.ca

For more information on THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW, visit marilyn.ca. Follow THE MARILYN DENIS SHOW on Twitter (@TheMarilynShow) and Facebook (Facebook.com/MarilynDenis).

For more information on Nicholas, visit NichM.com. Follow Nicholas on Twitter (@NichM) and Facebook (facebook.com/nicholasmontgomer).

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What Google Plus Your World Means for Your Business

Last week Google announced it’s latest search innovation called Search Plus Your World which adds three new features to the search giant (taken from the description in Google’s post):

  1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
  2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
  3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.

Watch the video. Its cute if not entirely informative. (post continues below video)

On a personal level, it may not mean a whole lot. Even those of us who are active on Google+ can admit that the activity level is still quite low compared to Twitter and Facebook and the Your World results are going to vary depending on the quality of the content shared by you and your connections. There is some argument that Your World could actually decrease the quality of your search results, but I have a feel that most of us won’t notice a significant impact for some time. If nothing else, Google is just making Google+ a little more difficult to ignore though at least you can turn off the social search feature if you feel the need to.

What does this mean for your business?

The effect may actually be more deeply felt by brands and businesses in that it could force you to invest more time into your Google+ Page or risk loosing headway in your SEO efforts. The addition of personalised results means that regular search results will be pushed further down the page and that brands with a heavier social media marketing emphasis are more likely to have been shared and therefore listed in Your World results. Also, the People and Pages makes it blatantly obvious that more screen time will be given to business that have a Google+ page. With that in mind, I’d say its time to give in and start giving your Brand Page a little more attention:

1. Create a +Page for your business if you haven’t done so already. Here are a couple links with good tips to get you started.
2. Share content and comment on things that are relavant to your business. I feel like I say this every day but having quality content and engagement that is useful to the end user is key to online success. It will make it more likely that people will add you to their circles and generate the kind of activity that will show up in Search Your World results.
3. Monitor the results. The full effect of Search Your World is still unknown (especially since it hasn’t been launched worldwide) so you need to keep a watchful eye on the sucess of your efforts and adjust them accordingly.

This is going to be case of needing to take my own advice. I have set up a page for the company I work for but haven’t done terribly much with it as Google+ just doesn’t have the support of the local social media community quite like Twitter and Facebook do. But with this new combination of search and social, its clearly time to get on board whether I like it or not. Thanks for adding to my to do list, Google!

Have you had a chance to test out the new Search Your World features? Please leave a comment and tell us what you think of it!

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Why Google+ is a Huge Opportunity for Bloggers

The more I use Google+, the more I see its potential. At first I saw it as a challenge, I felt I had to know every last detail of what it can (and can’t do), it has many rich features and it did take a little time to work out. The killer feature for me is Circles, a very simple way of categorising people that + you and keeping a track of what they are sharing. But key to Circles is the fact that you can choose to share your updates with a particular group of people. This got me thinking about blogging…

A chance to get your finger out of the air?

When we publish a blog post on The Social Penguin Blog, we hope that lots of people read it, and most importantly gain something from taking the time to digest it. The post goes live and we will share it across various networks (Twitter for example) in order to alert people to the fact we have new content. Of course, we have lots of nice subscribers who are kind enough to want our content to either pop up in their RSS readers or email inboxes but other than that, blogging can be a ‘finger in the wind’ exercise. Google+ and Circles allows you to post copy, links, images and video and then send that out to not only the ‘public’, but Circles of your choice. You get me? All of the features of a Google+ update can come together to create simple blog posts that you can target people with.

A chance to get the attention of the people you want to read your stuff…

For example, I may want to try and get a new blog post out to key influencers in the social media scene, I can easily create a Circle full of rock stars, ninjas and mavens (please never use those terms, I use them in jest) and try to grab their attention with a new post. Of course, I can’t make them read it but that is besides the fact – this is targeted publishing, yes it’s early days, but Google+ may cause a wide reaching ripple in the blogging world.

Key for search

We don’t know to what extent Google will give precedence to posts and data within the Plus structure, but you can bet that it will start to take a strong role in moulding the search engine results. By publishing content within the platform you may well be securing some serious SERP real-estate. The extent of this remains to be seen.

Wait! Don’t throw all those eggs in one basket…

I’m not suggesting that you stop using your WordPress blog! I just think it’s important that you consider how your content could be effectively used within Google+ and the possibilities of using it to target tighter groups. Remember, Google+ is not mainstream, it is still being dominated by geeks. This is and will change though.

Should Posterous, Tumblr etc be worried?

I think any content publishing platform out there will be looking over their shoulder at Google+. There is perhaps a threat to the more simplistic platforms such as Posterous, as they pride themselves on slick and easy blog post publication. Google+ will not currently allow you to create posts with multiple images placed where you so please, or add multiple links within a post but who knows what will come? Fully pimped out blog platforms such as WordPress offer so much more than the Tumblrs of this world and we have to remember that blogs play a major role in many websites, a Google+ feed is unlikely to replace that.

Don’t forget…

To sort out your Google Authorship Markup on your current blog!

Over to you…

Am I jumping the gun? Will using Circles in this way be seen as spam? Should Posterous etc be worried? Tell me your thoughts below, would be great to hear from you. Oh and you can find me on Google here.

Thanks to Josh Chandler for getting my thoughts going on this post.

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Mike is the editor of The Social Penguin Blog and delivers digital marketing strategies in his role at PR & comms agency, The BIG Partnership.


Essential Info on Google Panda – Video (curated)

 

We don’t often take content from other sites and put it on the Penguin, but we love the guys over at SEOmoz and the way that they explain SEO in a direct and simple fashion. Their Whiteboard Friday video sessions are must watch content and their most recent video featuring Rand Fishkin explains the much discussed Google Panda update in a practical and easy to digest fashion. Watch it below:

Wistia

We hope you found that useful. Be sure to keep an eye on SEOmoz – they know their onions!

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Know Your Digital Marketing Tools – Google

We love Social Media Marketing however we are also huge fans of the digital marketing field in general. The planning of campaigns and the strategy/tactics around them can be bewildering, but there are a number of tools on the web that can help the digital marketer and act as a starting point. You cannot hide from Google and they have a free suite of tools that can make your job easier when it comes to search, user analysis and keeping an eye on the web. Read on as we take you through some fantastic resouces from the web masters!

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Social Media Marketing – So Where Do I Start?

The world of Social Media marketing can be a little scary if you and your business has not dabbled before, with this in mind we thought we would like to give you our recommendations for starting out.

Listen Up!

Remember when your Mother always told you to listen? Well that is the best advice possible when starting to use Social Media as a marketing tool.

Let’s keep it very simple, head over to Twitter Search and type in search terms that relate to your business. Now if you are a well known brand it would make sense to start with your company/brand name, type it in the search field and see what comes back! The beauty of Twitter search is that it gives you results in real time from across Twitter, meaning you can see exactly what people are saying about you at any given time. Of course there may be some bad comments in amongst the good so be prepared for that. Now if you are not a particularly well known brand/business you may not be generating much chatter on Twitter, not to worry, at this point (obviously try your name as well) it is helpful to search for areas that your business operates in, if you sell jeans, search for jeans or perhaps fashion and see what the buzz is.

What do you get back from this? Great comments? Bad comments? Ideas about how you could do things better? Information on your competitors? Quite possibly you have seen all of this and more, don’t rush in and engage though, especially if you are reading negative comments. In this case you need to consider a response and be willing to work to resolve the issue with the customer/complainant to their satisfaction. Chances are your brand/company has been being praised/derided in the social space for a while, so holding back a little longer is ok,  you need to construct a response and a set of rules for engaging before you make contact because once you start you cannot be seen to stop. Go cautiously but don’t take too long to get involved! Recognise nice feedback too, not just the bad!
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