Social Media

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Conferences and industry events, such as Practical Ecommerce’s upcoming Ignite 2015, are not only opportunities to learn from the experts, but also ideal places to network with peers. Loading your mobile device with the right apps will help to ensure you get the most out of your new connections.

Here is a list of mobile apps to enhance your networking at events. There are apps to exchange contact information, schedule meetings and lunches, take notes, discover who you need to meet, and even to help remember someone’s name. Most of these apps are free.

Apps for Networking Events

Intro. Intro is an app to send your About.me page as a digital business card. You control the information you want to share. Keep track of the people you’ve shared your card with, and cards you’ve received. Contact people directly through the app, or save the info into your address book. Price: Free.

Intro App.

CamCard. Use CamCard to capture all your business cards and manage your contact info. Exchange e-cards, manage your cards by adding notes and tagging, access your cards anywhere. Batch scan all your paper cards to cut the card clutter. Price: Basic is free. Premium plans start at $5 per month.

CamCard App.

Namerick. If you’re bad with names, this is an app for you. Namerick improves your memory of people’s names using repetition and mnemonics modeled from memory “athletes” and studies of the human memory. Price: $0.99.

Namerick App.

Evernote. Evernote is an app to capture information on the go. Easily gather everything important. Capture handwritten notes, and snap photos to record physical and digital details. Collaborate on ideas, and easily create presentations. Price: Basic is free. Premium plans start at $24.99 per year.

Evernote App.

CityHour. CityHour helps you arrange face-to-face meetings with nearby professionals, or around other commonalities such as industry or shared objectives. CityHour syncs with your LinkedIn profile to locate contacts both in and out of your current network that are open to scheduling in-person meetings. Price: Free.

CityHour App.

Contxts. Contxts enables professionals to share their contact information and more via SMS. Exchange all of your professional information with a single text message. Rid yourself of “old school” business cards. Price: Free.

Contxts App.

Twitter. Twitter is the platform for real-time news. Use a conference or event as an opportunity to provide real-time tweets, photos, and video to your followers. Price: Free.

Twitter App.

Facebook Messenger. Facebook Messenger is an app for mobile conversations. Start a group chat, name your group, and add a photo so everyone can get back to it easily. Have video calls. Send a map of any location for a meeting spot. With a built-in camera, Messenger lets you snap and shoot moments as they happen. You can even add drawings or text. Price: Free.

Facebook Messenger App.

Periscope. Periscope lets you broadcast live video. Going live will instantly notify your followers who can join and comment. Shoot live streaming content for your followers who couldn’t make it. Price: Free.

Periscope App.

GroupMe. GroupMe is a free group messaging app that gives you a private chat room for your small group. Coordinate with your peers, and keep in touch throughout an event. Price: Free.

GroupMe App.

Salesforce1. Salesforce1 is a tool to experience Salesforce from any device and brings your Chatter, customer relationship platform, custom apps, and business processes together. View and edit files from Sharepoint, OneDrive and Google Drive. Price: Free.

Salesforce1 App.

Lanyrd. Lanyrd is an app to find professional events and conferences. See events your Twitter contacts are attending and speaking at. Catch up on slides and videos from events you’ve attended or missed. Price: Free.

Lanyrd App.

Spotcard. Spotcard is a close-proximity business networking app. Discover LinkedIn members nearby, view their LinkedIn profile and send them your digital Spotcard. Export your cards from networking events into a CSV file for use in Excel, Salesforce, and numerous other applications. Price: Free.

Spotcard App.

Foursquare. If you’re traveling to a networking event, you’re going to need places for power lunches and meetings over drinks. Foursquare gives you the best places to eat, drink, shop, or visit in any city of the world. Access reviews from local experts. Price: Free.

Foursquare App.

Google+. The Google+ app lets you connect and network on the go. Automatically back up your pictures, video chat directly from your phone, talk about the stuff you’re interested in with Communities, create events, and more. Plan get-togethers with Events. Discover places with reviews and photos. Price: Free.

Google+ App.

Bizzabo. Bizzabo is an event networking app for conferences. Connect with fellow attendees, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors before, during, and even after events. Get suggestions for people you should meet. Interact through in-app messaging. Access event materials, and leverage social media materials. Price: Free.

Bizzabo App.

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Nearly all Instagram users access it from their smartphones. Ninety-five percent of users are younger than 35.

With 300 million active monthly users and 30 billion photos shared to date, Instagram is one of social media’s great success stories. This social channel is entirely visual, focused on the sharing of photo and video content. Instagram has attracted a predominately young audience — 90 percent are under 35 years old — and offers brands a high propensity for engagement.

Instagram has no sharing algorithm, unlike Facebook. If a user logs in frequently, she has the potential to see every piece of content from the accounts she follows. Instagram has become the platform of choice for many brands since Facebook’s organic reach is so limited.

In this article, I’ll review 10 key tips and tricks to build your company’s Instagram following and increase its engagement.

Optimizing Instagram for Ecommerce: 10 Tips

1. Always add a link to your profile. The profile link on Instagram is the only place to add a clickable link. All other URLs appear as plain text. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to drive traffic.

2. Forget Twitter. Instagram offers the ability to link up with, and potentially auto post to, various social networks. The integrations with Facebook and Tumblr are fantastic. But the Twitter integration is lacking because Twitter does not support previews of Instagram content. This means that your Twitter followers can see a only short text description and Instagram branded link — unless the followers click away to see the content on Instagram.

3. Create custom locations. You may not be able to add a clickable link, but you can use the location field to add a text link for users to copy and paste into their browsers. Alternatively, use this space to add a call to action, directing the user through to your profile for the link. The best way to do this is to upload your photo and then select the edit post option, to type in your web address or call to action in the location field.

4. Hashtags rule. Hashtags are one of the most popular tools to navigate throughout Instagram and find new accounts to follow. They’re more functional on Instagram than on Facebook and Twitter. Hashtags can be anything from simple keywords to topical phrases. Here are few commonly used Instagram hashtags.

  • #TBT. Short for “throwback Thursday,” this hashtag is used to reference memories and highlights from your past.
  • #OOTD. This hashtag stands for “outfit of the day.” It’s often used by bloggers and fashion brands
  • #nofilter. This is for photos that don’t use any of the filters offered on the app. It frequently highlights natural beauty and good photography skills

Other popular hashtags are #photooftheday and #picoftheday, in addition to keywords like #fashion, #style, and #family. You can see a full list here: http://top-hashtags.com/instagram/.

5. Think small. Instagram’s main point of access is via mobile apps. Thus, the vast majority of Instagram users will be looking at content on a smartphone screen. Be mindful that any copy overlaying an image is readable on a small screen, and also that the image is focused and grabs attention as the user scrolls through content. Curalate, the social media platform,offers some helpful tips to help you create imagery that really performs.

6. Use add-on apps. Once you’ve mastered the basics of Instagram, you may find the app’s editing capabilities limited. Luckily there are many accompanying apps that can help you create different content formats and even edit images more accurately. My favorites are Regram, Afterlights, Layout, and Hyperlapse. Here are seven more.

7. Repurpose content. Exclusive Instagram content is always the best, but content from other networks can easily be repurposed on Instagram, too. This is most effective in creating shortened versions of existing video content. With some basic editing tools, you can turn your existing long form video assets into 15-second clips to hook in your audience and drive interest in the longer story.

8. Be part of the community. The community of comments and likes around Instagram content is hugely important. Make sure you schedule time to comment on posts you like, seek out key influencers, and check for any brand mentions.

9. Represent your customers. Reposting — “regramming,” to use the Instagram terminology — photos that your users tag or mention can be a fantastic way to strengthen the brand experience. This can also be a useful way to show current and potential customers how your products can be used — from everyday scenarios to the plain crazy.

10. Post daily. The most successful Instagram communities are active daily. Post at least once a day to maximize your reach.

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Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have thrust live streaming video into the social media spotlight. Brands have been quick to respond — experimenting with ways to incorporate live streaming video in their digital marketing efforts.

Here is a list of brands that use live streaming video in their digital campaigns. Several of the spots feature musical performances and behind-the-scenes content geared for millennials. From an improvised comedy performance to a real-time drone flight, the variety of the spots highlights the experimental and interactive qualities of live streaming video.

GE

Consistent with its trendsetting social media efforts, GE has been quick to experiment with live streaming video. In late March, GE Creator in Residence and YouTube personality Sally Le Page held a behind-the-scenes interview with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and scientist Bill Nye. Then in July, GE launched #DRONEWEEK on Periscope, broadcasting live video film by a GE-engineered drone flying from coast to coast. The brand interacted with fans on Twitter, using @GeneralElectric and @GEDronePilot accounts.

Doritos

Doritos Roulette Game.

This summer Doritos brought to the U.S. its limited-edition “roulette” bags, in which one in every six is super-spicy. As part of the #DoritosRoulette digital campaign, Doritos hosted live giveaways on Periscope. Viewers were randomly chosen as contestants, and a host then spun a roulette wheel to determine prizes. The campaigned used multiple social media platforms, including a team game on Twitter, winner announcements on Vine, and promotional video on YouTube.

Nestlé

Drumstick on Twitter.

In June, Nestlé ran the first Periscope-specific ad campaign to promote its Drumstick brand around the summer solstice. Nestlé hired Periscope personalities to broadcast summertime scenes, like backyards and amusement parks. Drumstick opened its own Periscope account, live streaming around 20 summer scenarios. Promoted tweets were used, and the brand hired 100 influencers to tweet about the ice cream. Each stream included the hashtag #ad in the title of the video to indicate that it’s sponsored.

Wendy’s

Chill With Rhett And Link Website.

To promote summertime drinks on its menu, Wendy’s enlisted YouTube comedy duo Rhett and Link to chat with friends in real-time. When followers visited the website, they were asked questions about their favorite colors, music, and food. Fans then joined a chat queue as Rhett and Link churned out improvised songs and skits based on people’s answers. Each skit was 30 to 60 seconds long and recorded on YouTube.

7Up

In June, 7Up connected with music fans by sponsoring the Electric Daisy Carnival music festival on Yahoo Live. The event was live streamed to Yahoo Screen on desktop and the Yahoo Screen app. Fans created personalized schedules and received real-time notifications when their favorite disc jockey took the stage.

Spotify

Spotify on Twitter.

Music-streaming service Spotify was one of the first brands to experiment with live streaming on Periscope. Spotify used Periscope to broadcast an impromptu performance with Connor O’Brien of the band Villagers. The performance had several hundred live viewers, 1,500 hearts on the stream, and around 200 more on the replay.

In Spotify’s much larger #SpotifyHouse campaign, the music streaming service used Meerkat to live stream extensive video coverage of the South By Southwest music festival.

Dunkin’ Donuts

DD Summer Soundtrack website.

To promote its iced coffee products with millennials, Dunkin’ Donuts this summer sponsored a five-concert series called DD Summer Soundtrack. In marketing the event to a younger audience, Dunkin’ Donuts took a broad approach with the digital campaign, using eight media platforms: Spotify, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Facebook, and Periscope. Concert content is available on the event website through the end of September and includes videos, custom playlists for each artist, and behind-the-scenes content.

Adidas

Adidas on Twitter.

Adidas has been driving live-streaming innovation recently with its digital marketing campaigns. In March, just a day after Twitter unveiled Periscope, Adidas Football — soccer — streamed live video of Real Madrid star James Rodriguez signing a contract extension with the brand, under the hashtag #ThereWillBeHaters. Also in March, the sportswear company used Twitter’s group direct message feature for its #ThereWillBeHaters campaign, letting fans have a private group conversation with footballer Karim Benzema.

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With its many experts and evangelists, Twitter is a good place for an online merchant to get help growing a business. The challenge is figuring out whom to follow.

Here is a list of Twitter feeds for online merchants to find useful information on all aspects of ecommerce and entrepreneurship. There are experienced merchants, ecommerce platform advocates, experts in social media and search, ecommerce technology officers, researchers, and startup gurus.

Also be sure to follow us @PracticalEcomm, as well as the feeds of our own expert contributors like @ecommerceboy, @pamelahazelton, and @KunleTCampbell.

Twitter Feeds for Online Merchants

Linda Bustos @Roxyyo. Linda Bustos is director of ecommerce research at Elastic Path, an ecommerce platform. Bustos also writes the popular GetElastic blog. Prior to joining Elastic Path, she worked agency-side, specializing in usability and search engine optimization. Her tweets are helpful for anyone who wants to grow an ecommerce business.

Linda Bustos @Roxyyo.

Andrew Youderdian @youderian. Andrew Youderdian is founder of eCommerceFuel, a blog and forum site for established independent ecommerce merchants. After reading Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Work Week, Youderdian quit an investment banking job to start his first ecommerce business selling CB radios. Several successful ventures later, he shares what he’s learned through his blog, podcast, and Twitter feed.

Tim Ferriss @tferriss. Author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss is a resource for merchants to develop mental toughness and gain confidence to start new ventures. Host ofThe Tim Ferriss Show, he deconstructs pro performers from eclectic areas — investing, chess, sports — to find useful tools, tactics, and tricks for us all.

Richard Lazazzera @richardabls. Richard Lazazzera is an ecommerce entrepreneur and the founder of A Better Lemonade Stand, an online ecommerce incubator. It’s purpose is to inspire new entrepreneurs as well as to provide the tools and resources to build, launch and grow online businesses better, faster, and cheaper. His goal is to help create and cultivate 20,000 new entrepreneurs in 2015

Mark Hayes @allsop8184. Mark Hayes is director of communications at Shopify. He’s also the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping. He tweets posts from the Shopify blog, as well as content for entrepreneurs and emerging brands.

Mark Hayes @allsop8184.

Tracey Wallace @TraceWall. Tracey Wallace is a writer and managing editor atBigcommerce, an ecommerce platform. She writes and tweets extensively about small biz, startup culture, big data, data rights, Internet security, and women’s issues.

Terry Lin @itsmeterrylin. Terry Lin is co-host of the Build My Online Store blog and podcast, helping online merchants build stores and deliver experiences. He’s also the founder of Ballerleather.com. His tweets cover entrepreneurial and ecommerce culture.

Steve Chou @mywifequit. Steve Chou and his wife Jennifer createdMyWifeQuitHerJob.com to document their experiences and strategies starting their online store BumblebeeLinens.com. Chou’s tweets primarily offer links to useful topics for budding online entrepreneurs.

Amy Porterfield @AmyPorterfield. Amy Porterfield is a social media strategist and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies. A former content development director for Tony Robbins, she helps entrepreneurs establish strategies to monetize online marketing efforts, grow a social media fan base and email list, and boost profits. Her Twitter feed focuses on practical tools and resources for entrepreneurs.

Amy Porterfield @AmyPorterfield.

Gary Vaynerchuck @garyvee. Gary Vaynerchuck hosts The #AskGaryVee Show, where he answers questions about marketing, social media, and entrepreneurship. Starting out growing his family’s wine business WineLibrary.com, he became a prolific angel investor and startup evangelist.

Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan. Danny Sullivan is a founding editor of Search Engine Land. He writes about all things all things digital marketing and search marketing. Get useful insights on SEO, search engine marketing, Google, and social networks, as well as what’s happening, such as his recent coverage of VidCon.

Zia Wigder @zdwigder. Zia Wigder is a research director at Forrester and is focused on global ecommerce and international digital trends. Her Twitter feed is a good resource for big-picture macro information on global ecommerce and insights on emerging international trends.

Ben Parr @benparr. Ben Parr is a co-founder of a venture capital fund that coaches early-stage startups on how to capture attention and accelerate growth. He is the author ofCaptivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention. Previously Parr was the co-editor and editor-at-large of Mashable and a columnist for CNET.

Ben Parr @benparr.

Ann Handley @MarketingProfs. Ann Handley is the chief content officer at Marketing Profs, which provides marketing training, best practices, research, and other content. Handley is author of The Wall Street Journal bestseller Everybody Writes. She is waging a war on mediocrity in content. Handley’s tweets are ideal for merchants in need of better content.

Rand Fishkin @randfish. Rand Fishkin is founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of multiple books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. He tweets 30 to 40 times per week about marketing, SEO, technology, and startups.

Kim Garst @kimgarst. Kim Garst is the author of Will The Real You Please Stand Up and founder of Boom Social, a social media marketing firm to help small businesses, entrepreneurs, marketers, and managers. Her Twitter feed offers merchants plenty of ways to amplify and monetize social media efforts.

Drew Sanocki @drewsanocki. Drew Sanocki writes a blog about digital marketing for ecommerce retailers, from his own experience of launching and selling Designpublic.com. He focuses on workable growth hacks for ecommerce executives, as well as everything online retail, from customer segmentation to SEO.

Drew Sanocki @drewsanocki.

Evan Carmichael @EvanCarmichael. Evan Carmichael believes in entrepreneurs. At 19, he built and sold a biotech software company. At 22, he was helping companies raise $500,000 to $15 million in funding. Now he has a website to help entrepreneurs – he’s aiming to help 1 billion of them. His tweets will help merchants energize with tools for success.

Fred Wilson @fredwilson. Fred Wilson is a venture capitalist. He’s been one since 1986 and has been writing the AVC blog since 2003. His Twitter feed is filled with the zeitgeist of entrepreneurial culture, as well as his own thoughts on backing businesses and living in New York City.

Werner Vogels @Werner. Werner Vogels is the chief technology officer and vice president of Amazon. He is in charge of driving technology innovation for the ecommerce behemoth. Learn what Amazon’s up to.

Werner Vogels @Werner.

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Once you come to grips with social media, the main functions of each network — posting, sharing, liking, commenting — become second nature. But there’s a hidden world of advanced features that can extend your reach and boost your profile.

Here are few of these hidden features that can improve the impact of your business across social media channels.

Twitter

The Twitter character limit has long been a source of frustration when it comes to targeting multiple influencers. Many brands end up tweeting the same message repeatedly with only the influencer’s Twitter handle changing. But there is another way.

You can tag up to 10 people in any photo you post to Twitter. What’s more, these tags don’t count towards your character limit, so you’re free to use your characters to include a marketing message, contact details, or a call to action.

Another little-known Twitter feature is the ability to mute accounts. This is especially useful when accounts are involved in Twitter chats and they tweet repeatedly over a short timeframe. The bonus is you still follow them; you just avoid all the unwanted noise.

Use the "Mute" feature to temporarily avoid unwanted tweets.

Facebook

On Facebook, you can combat the issue of nameless admins by featuring the real identities of the people behind your page activity. This can help to build trust in the business and helps to present your brand as honest and transparent.

You can also add featured pages (in Settings > Featured) to show off your relationships with partners or key customers.

Use featured pages on Facebook to show off your relationships with partners or key customers.

Embedding tweets across the web has become common. But you can also do the same with your Facebook content. As long as the post is public you can find an embed button beneath the post options. This offers a good way of obtaining content for blog posts.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn can be a fantastic way of growing your business contacts and connecting with potential business partners. But it can also be difficult to contact people directly without a Pro account or without them accepting your networking request. One hidden route around this is to join a common group, as group members can message each other without connecting.

To start the conversation simply join a common group and find a post from the person you’re interested in. You’ll find an option to reply privately — your route to a private message.

YouTube

There are hidden features on YouTube that can help boost your brand’s content.

First, you can share a video at a specific point. Say you have a video that has 2 minutes of boring footage before the relevant section appears. You really don’t want to share those first two minutes. To get round this, advance it to the correct time, click “Share,” and select the “Start at” time, which appears beneath the URL. Now when users click your video link, they’ll go straight to the good part.

YouTube’s second hidden gem is ideal for short attention spans and it applies to only a limited number of videos. This feature allows you to create your own animated GIF from a YouTube video. Once you’ve identified the video, click the “Share” button. Now click the GIF tab — beside the “Embed” and “Email” tabs — and select your start and end time as well as text to your GIF. Click “Create” and you’ll be given your animated image to share.

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Social media can be a good resource for promoting a business. But if you’re just plugging your brand, you’re missing the point. Listening to others is an effective way to learn about your customers and to measure your impact.

Here is a list of tools for social media monitoring. Listen to multiple networks from a single dashboard, receive alerts when you’re mentioned, or even keep tabs on a competitor. Track your social media stats, and discover what you need to grow your followers. All of these tools are relatively inexpensive, half of the tools offer free plans.

Tools for Social Media Monitoring

Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo gives you insight into the content that’s working and the influencers amplifying it. Discover content that mentions your keyword, or when an author or competitor publishes new content. Track your competitors’ content performance and do detailed comparisons. Monitor share activity across major social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. Price: Plans start at $99 per month.

Buzzsumo.

Social Mention. Social Mention is a social media search platform. Track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic in real time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, and Google. Price: Free.

Mention. Monitor sources in 42 languages to make sure you’re not missing anything on social networks, news sites, blogs or any web page. Connect social accounts to your alerts and react without leaving the application. Get alerted in real time via push notifications. Receive daily or weekly email digest. Price: Plans start at $29 per month.

HowSociable. HowSociable provides a simple way to measure and monitor your brand’s impact on the social web. Its magnitude score provides an indication of the activity around a brand during a given week. The site analyzes activity on up to 36 popular websites. Price: Plans start at $9 for 3 months.

HowSociable.

Addict-o-matic. Addict-o-matic is a search tool to monitor buzz about your site. Pull results via RSS from news and search sites, including Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Ask, YouTube, Truveo, Flickr, Blinkx, Ice Rocket, Digg, Topix, Newsvine, and Tweetscan. Price: Free.

Topsy. Topsy is a real-time search engine powered by the social web. Topsy indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations millions of people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried. Price: Free.

SumAll. SumAll was created to give companies of all size access to all of their data in one simple dashboard. Track your social media stats from over 30 accounts for free. Premium account provides SumAll reports to show the fruits of your labor and insights to help you understand and improve social media performance. Price: Tracking is free. Premium services start at $59 per month.

SumAll.

Sprout Social. Sprout Social helps you monitor and manage your social interactions. The Smart Inbox brings all your messages from all your profiles into a single, filterable stream. Discover what people are saying about you, your business, your products, or any topic in real time. Track campaigns, monitor competitors and keywords, and more. Price: Plans start at $59 per month.

WhosTalkin. WhosTalkin.com is a social media search tool that allows users to search for conversations surrounding topics. Data is taken from over 60 popular social media gateways.Price: Free.

Pluggio. Pluggio is a Twitter and Facebook manager. Pluggio automatically tracks and generates graphs for several account metrics, so you can easily see your performance and audience growth. Optional integration with Bit.ly also allows you to see click stats for links you share, so you can see the impact your posts are having. Price: Basic plan is free. Premium plans start at $12.95 per month.

Pluggio.

SharedCount. SharedCount is a service that looks up the number of times a given URL has been shared on major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and StumbleUpon. Track URL shares, likes, tweets, and more. Price: Free plan includes up to 10,000 daily queries. Premium plans start at $40 per month.

Social Searcher. Social Searcher allows real-time search in social networks and provides analytics. Search without logging in for information on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Save searches and set up alerts. Premium social monitoring features include saving mentions history, API integration, advanced analytics, and immediate email notifications. Price: Basic is free. Premium plans start at 3.49 € per month.

Edgerank Checker. Edgerank Checker is a tool to analyze and score your Facebook page. Get actionable steps to increase engagement. Examine when fans are online to optimize timing strategies. Back test specific days, such as holidays, to see when fans check Facebook. Price: Basic is free. Pro plan is $90 per month for three pages.

Edgerank Checker.

Followerwonk. Followerwonk is a Moz app to dig deeper into Twitter analytics. Followerwonk tracks changes to your social graph and presents interactive charts to explore changes to followers and follows. Breakout your followers by location, bio, who they follow, and more. Contrast your relationships with your competitors and friends. Price: Moz starts at $99 per month.

NutshellMail. NutshellMail gathers the latest activity from your social networking accounts and emails you a summary. Keep track of Facebook likes, posts, comments, and insights. See mentions, new followers, quitters, search results, and tweets from your favorite lists in your Twitter summary. Keep track of ratings, reviews, and check-ins. Price: Free.

Trackur. Trackur monitors mainstream media and social media such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums, images, and video. Track mentions in real time. Find out who’s talking about you, as well as how influential they are. Price: Plans start at $97 per month.

Trackur.

TweetReach. TweetReach helps measure the Twitter activity that’s important to you – accounts, topics, hashtags, and competitors. Track tweets about campaigns in real time, and watch as the conversations unfold. Price: Plans start at $99 per month.

SocialOomph. SocialOomph is a tool to monitor and boost social media activity with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS feeds, blogs, Plurk, and App.net. Track keywords, view mentions and retweets, mimic the following of others, manage and schedule multiple accounts, and more. Price: Basic is free. Professional is $35.94 per month.

Postific. Postific is a tool to track your engagement and analyze the results for posts and social networks in one place. Set up your alerts and get instant notifications if people are talking about your business. Manage social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and more. Extract engaged users and organize them into your contact management tool. Price: Plans start at $7.99 per month.

Postific.

Oktopost. Oktopost is a social media marketing tool to manage content and measure which networks, profiles, and posts are most effective. Manage all of your social marketing, and measure the results for each campaign. View clicks, conversions, and engagement for every post, message, and group. Leverage integrations with third-party platforms such as Salesforce.com and Marketo, and automatically sync analytical and lead data. Price: Plans start at $55 per month.

Hootsuite. Hootsuite is probably the most widely known platform to manage social media. Its tool uberVU gives real-time data from over 100 million sources in 50+ languages across 25+ social networks and other platforms. Get detailed demographics and filter by location, language, gender, time, and sentiment. Identify and respond in real time to any unusual spikes in volume, sentiment, or other measure. Price: Free plan allows for 3 social networks with 1 user; Pro plan starts at $9.99 per month for up to 100 social networks and up to 9 users.

Google Alerts. Google Alerts sends you email notifications any time Google finds new results on keywords that interests you. Monitor the web for new content. Price: Free.

SocialBro. SocialBro lets you manage, explore, and analyze your Twitter accounts. Analyze real-time and historical Twitter content to discover the most relevant data quickly and easily. Mine for data based on complex queries, using combinations of hashtags, mentions, and keywords. Zoom in on important demographics that affect your marketing strategy. Price: Free for 5,000 social contracts. Premium is $13.95 per month.

SocialBro.

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Remarketing is an advertising technique that lets you show ads to people who have visited your website.

If you have never used remarketing, perhaps it’s time to start. There are numerous reasons: customized messaging, a better chance for conversion, lower cost per click, and lower cost per conversion.

Audience Size Is Problem for Small Business

One of the biggest struggles for small businesses when it comes to advertising is finding a large enough group of prospective customers to make it worth the effort. When you layer on too many targeting requirements, you’re left with an audience that’s too small to scale. To make matters worse, advertising to a small group can cost just as much as advertising to a larger, less-targeted one.

Twitter Remarketing Benefits

You really can’t lose with remarketing campaigns. It gives you a more highly-targeted visitor without all the research or the designer price tag required by other ad formats, especially when conducted on a social platform like Twitter.

The benefit of Twitter remarketing is that if your messaging is unique, personal, and not overtly ad-like, then you can do well. People love feeling special, and Twitter ads are just the place to convey that emotion.

For example, a message that says, “A Twitter special just for you! Get 10% off everything,” is going to perform better than “Get 10% off everything.” If you have categories on your website, you could setup custom remarketing lists for each one and send even more highly-targeted ads.

Setting Up a Twitter Remarketing Campaign

Here’s how to set up a Twitter remarketing campaign. I’m going to assume you already have a Twitter ads account.

Step 1: Create a conversion pixel. The first step is to create a conversion pixel on your website, which will enable you track sales conversions.

Log into ads.twitter.com. When you get to the main page, click “Tools” and then “Conversion Tracking.”

Click "Tools," then "Conversion Tracking."

Click on “Create your first website tag” to make a new pixel.

Click "Create your first website tag."

Label the pixel “Remarketing” and set the conversion type to “Site Visit.” Most importantly, leave the box checked for “Create a tailored audience,” which will give us the ability to remarket.

Create a new website tag labeled "Remarketing."

Once you’ve entered the information, click “Save tag and generate code snippet.” From there you’ll be presented with the pixel HTML code, which you should place on each page of your site.

(Consider “Google Tag Manager” to implement it. Create a “Custom HTML Tag,” paste the code on your site, and then set it to fire on all pages.)

Copy and paste the tracking code snippet to each page of your website.

Step 2: Create a new campaign. You’ll need to wait a few days until you have tracked a sufficient number of enough users to launch an audience. When you do, it’s time to create a campaign.

Navigate back to ads.twitter.com, and click on “Campaigns” in the upper left corner. From there, click the “Create new campaign” button and choose the objective. For this tutorial, let’s select website clicks or conversions.

Create a new ad campaign.

Step 3: Name the campaign. Once the campaign creation screen loads, give your campaign a name, then choose the sale conversion pixel that we created earlier as the key conversion action. Make sure that its status is set to “verified,” otherwise you might launch a campaign that has no tracking.

Give the campaign a name.

Step 4: Finalize targeting. Scroll past the creative section — we’ll do that last — and finalize the targeting. For this example, we only sell shoes in the U.S., so that will be our location. Our site is in English, so let’s choose “English” as a language.

Finalize targeting options.

Step 5: Select device settings. Let’s choose desktop and mobile for the device setting. On mobile, we’ll only show ads to iPhones, Windows Phone, and Android devices, as they typically have larger screens.

Select device settings.

We’re not going to activate any other targets, as that will result in further reducing the audience size.

Additional targeting options.

Step 6: Set a budget. Next, let’s set the budget. We’ll choose $20.00 per day, optimized for website conversions using an automatic bid. (You will need to keep a close eye on the budget for the first few weeks, as you can’t always trust automatic bidding.)

If you have a bid price in mind, set it by entering it as a target bid (where it will bid up to 20 percent more) or a maximum bid (where it will bid no more). The bid is based on cost-per-click, not cost-per-conversion.

Set a campaign budget.

Step 7: Create tweets and Twitter cards. Now that the campaign is set up let’s create the tweets and Twitter cards. In this case, we’re going to create two tweets but only one website card, as we want to test which tweet copy performs better.

Create tagged links for the website card; untagged Twitter traffic often shows up as “Direct” in Google Analytics.

Compose tweets for use in the campaign.

After you create the tweets and card, click on “Tweet (promoted only),” which publishes the tweet to your timeline, but will only be visible if used in an ad. Someone who visits your profile organically won’t see it.

"Promoted only" tweets are only visible as ads.

Step 8: Launch the campaign. The tweets are done, the settings are correct, so it’s time to launch the campaign. Click the “Save and Review” button to start the campaign now or save it to begin at a later date.

Lastly, Twitter will add new users to your remarketing list automatically, so check performance and ad copy frequently.

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While setting up conversion tracking is a must, setting up values for those conversions is equally important. Even if you don’t have an ecommerce site or sell products at a set amount, you can still assign values to your conversions.

While it’s been possible to assign values to conversions on Google AdWords and Bing Ads for some time, conversion tracking and assigning values is still relatively new for the major social platforms — even LinkedIn still doesn’t offer conversion tracking.

While it’s been possible to assign values to conversions on Google AdWords and Bing Ads for some time, conversion tracking and assigning values is still relatively new for the major social platforms…

Why you would want track conversions on the social networks directly? Because it is simply another way to double-check the data. While you should have conversion tracking set up in Google Analytics, adding it to the social ad networks gives you another check to determine if the values Google is reporting match Facebook, and vise-versa.

Setting up conversion values is generally straightforward. Just change the conversion value amount on each tracking pixel to the actual value of the conversion you want to track.

If you have a set price for each conversion, this makes it easy. However, if you have a variable value for each conversion, it is more complex. You’ll likely need a developer to complete it. I’ll still walk through the general, high-level process, but not the actual implementation.

In this article, I’ll review two business scenarios, covering Facebook and Twitter ads, on how to add conversion values.

  • Scenario 1. An ecommerce site with a single product at a fixed cost of $25, and it doesn’t offer discounts, ever.
  • Scenario 2. An ecommerce site with a single type of product, at multiple price points, where multiple orders are permitted.

These two scenarios should cover most of the situations you’ll run into when it comes to setting up conversion values.

I’m going to assume that you already have checkout conversion pixels set up for both Facebook and Twitter in both scenarios.

Scenario 1: Single Product, Fixed Cost, No Discounts

For scenario 1, I’ll assume an ecommerce site with a single product, purchased one at a time, at a fixed cost of $25, with no discounts, ever. This is the easiest setup by far. Implementing conversion values will be easy.

Let’s start with Twitter. When you log in to the ads manager and view your conversion pixels, click “Edit” next to any pixel you want to change. From there you’ll be taken to the settings page for the pixel, and you’ll be presented with the code. We’ll need to change two values, in three places separately, for six changes in total. We’ll be changing two things.

  • tw_order_quantity
  • tw_sale_amount

I’ve highlighted where these appear in the screenshot below.

Changing tracking-pixel quantities and amounts in Twitter.

Change every ”0” after “tw_order_quantity” to “1” and change every “0” after “tw_sale_amount” to “25.00.” And that’s it. We’re done setting up conversion information for Twitter.

Now for Facebook. It’s much of the same setup. Log in to the ads manager, and click “Conversion Tracking” on the right side. Once you are on the conversion view page, hover over the pixel you want to change and click on the “gear” icon — a hover-over of “View Code” should appear. Once you click the gear, you’ll see a popup of your code, and — even easier than Twitter — I’ll change just one thing.

Changing values for tracking pixels in Facebook is straightforward.

You’ll see a line of code (highlighted in red, above) that has “{‘value':’0.00′,’currency':’USD’};”. Just change the “0.00” to “25.00” and that’s it.

That’s all you have to do in this scenario 1. From here on out you’ll start to see values in your Twitter and Facebook ads manager when someone converts.

Scenario 2: Single Product Type, Multiple Price Points

For scenario 2, I’ll assume an ecommerce site with a single type of product, at multiple price points, where multiple orders are permitted.

This scenario is more complex. It’s not as complex as an ecommerce site with multiple product types at multiple price points, but it is still a challenge.

I’ve already explained how to change the conversion value. But now we need to update both the conversion value and the conversion quantity. For example, if someone purchased two products at checkout, we want to make sure we capture all of the transaction details, versus just a single sale worth a set amount.

Implementing both the conversion value and quantity is tricky, as ecommerce sites are set up differently. But here’s what you should change, with some tips on how to make sure it changes.

First, review how you track the value and quantity with your developer. Explain to her that you have the two variables, price and quantity, and that they need to be dynamically updated with the checkout information on a sale. This way, your ecommerce system will pass the actual sales information through to the pixels, which will pass this through to the platforms.

If you use Google Tag Manager — see my article, “Using Google Tag Manager to Track Social Conversions” — your developer can set up a user-defined variable with this information. You can then replace the appropriate values with what your developer has set up, and then manage the pixels through Google Tag Manager, which I recommend.

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It can be easy to fall back on tried and trusted formats when developing content for social media channels. Sometimes there isn’t time to think more widely about the types of content you produce.

So for those who need a new wave of content inspiration, this post is for you. I will break down some of the major trends in content formats. The examples are from a selection of industries and brands, but they can easily be applied across an entire range of communities.

Finish the Sentence

Xercise4Less asks a question in this image, to spur social discussion.

“Finish the sentence” is a format where the beginning of the sentence is presented in image format. It has always proved engaging on Facebook, as shown above in this new interpretation from budget gym brand Xercise4Less. This allows you to grab more real estate in the news feed and benefits from Facebook’s algorithm that rewards visual content.

Throwback Moments

Volkswagen emphasizes its long history in this photo.

The throwback moments trend is especially relevant to brands and businesses with a strong history. Volkswagen uses this visual style to play up its credentials in automotive history and strengthen its brand reputation. Many other brands also take advantage of the throwback Thursday hashtag (#tbt) to join the weekly conversation around sharing past events.

Inspiring Quotes

Mothercare, a U.K. retailer of maternity and child clothing, uses a custom template for inspiring quotes.

Many brands use inspiring quotes as a way to engage fans and encourage them to share a popular sentiment. In previous years these would have been text posts. But we now see more companies using branded templates to turn a standard quote into an ownable piece of content.

Product Arrangement

Adidas displays exercise apparel in an engaging manner.

Many businesses struggle with how to bring their products to life each day without becoming boring and repetitive. Lifestyle photography can be an expensive option. As a result, the product arrangement layout has become popular for brands and bloggers on Facebook and Instagram. It allows you to style a product selection in a quick and affordable manner by simply displaying the items selected in a stylized way.

I’ve also seen this used widely for simple recipes, such as U.K. department store John Lewis using the format to show recipe ingredients — which it sells in its stores.

U.K. retailer John Lewis displays produce artfully.

Short Videos

Nike - video

This video example above comes from the Nike Facebook page. But I don’t think I’ve seen a single brand page recently that doesn’t incorporating video into its content mix. The key aspect for social media channels is to ensure that video is suitable for a smartphone — all text is readable on a small screen — and that the content is short and punchy to play to ever-shorter attention spans.

One Product, Different Interpretations

This photo from Starbucks U.K. shows different ways to use espresso.

This content format come from the fashion world, where one product is shown styled in many different ways. Brands are now taking this idea and expanding it into other products to showcase their versatility and provide inspiration for their consumers. In the example above, we see how Starbucks shows how an espresso can be used for different coffee drinks. It’s not only a pleasing image, but it can also add value in the minds of your fans as they apply new ideas to use your products.

Engaging Questions

Tommee Tippee posts an open question in this image to prompt feedback and engagement.

An easy way to stimulate discussion and engagement with your Facebook content is to ask a simple open question. When posing these questions, I’ve found it’s best to avoid those with a straight yes or no answer, as they don’t typically lead to discussion. Open questions like the example above from Tommie Tippee, a baby products manufacturer, gives fans more space to share their experiences and tell their story.

Sharing Brand Experiences

ASDA, a British supermarket chain, shares images from customers in its stores.

If you have customers sharing images of their experience with your business, then using these moments can be a fantastic way to encourage more of your fans to do the same. This can be especially effective where it includes pictures of pets and children, which your followers are often eager to share.

What other formats have inspired you to create content in a new way?

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Editor’s Note: Meet Michael Stancil at Ignite 2015, our conference on Sept. 16 and 17 in Dallas, where he’ll present two sessions: “How to Measure Social Media Marketing to Maximize Results” and “A Pinterest Strategy for High Traffic, High Sales.”

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Yelp, and dozens more: There are so many social media platforms. Which ones should your company be on?

If you sell drain cleaner, should your company be on Pinterest? If you were a musician in a rock band, do you need a personal LinkedIn page? Many companies ask this question — “What social media platforms should we be on?” — and all too often their response is, “Sign up for all of them.”

But you’re probably wasting your effort being places that won’t do your business any good.

This isn’t to say that every business should follow a specific classification guide — it doesn’t exist. It’s more about what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to take part in the conversation with the hope that the customers will follow? Or are you trying to be more specific, like reaching out to people who mention problems your product or service solves? Whatever the case may be, there’s a social network for that, with a relevant user base.

Facebook, for Sure

Before I address the primary networks, I recommend one thing: Facebook. No matter what, 99 percent of the time your company needs a Facebook page. Even if you don’t have a B2C presence, or there’s very limited interaction with the public, it’s important.

Facebook is a customer service tool, a glimpse into your company’s culture, and a place for people to share their experiences with your brand. For those reasons, you need to be there. Not having a direct line to your company can literally stop someone from considering it — and I speak from personal experience.

Evaluating Popular Networks

Now, let’s review the other popular networks.

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals. That’s not to say it’s by suits for suits, but there is definitely a clear sense of business on the social network. If you have a B2B product or service that relies on networking, whitepapers, or something similar, you need to be on LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers ads as well, but they’re rather expensive — $5 per click. You can, instead, get good reach just by creating quality content on your organization’s page.

Twitter is for immediate conversations. But it’s also an effective customer service tool. That’s one of the main reasons I use Twitter: It’s a fast way to get in contact with a brand. However, similar to Facebook, it’s easy to see if I should avoid a brand because it doesn’t have a presence — or it’s a one-way stream of useless updates and no replies. If you’re going to be on Twitter, go all the way. Reply when someone mentions you, even if it’s an angry one, because for every 10 happy responses come at least five less than happy.

Pinterest is for inspiration. When I was looking for businesses that would not benefit from Pinterest, the examples were small. Even concrete piping had a presence, with ways to make a house out of a concrete pipe. Who would’ve thought? That sums up the entire premise of Pinterest, though. It’s a place where people get inspired, by all sorts of things that wouldn’t ordinarily inspire them.

Think concrete piping is boring? This Pinterest page shows how to use concrete piping for innovative construction projects.

YouTube is a home for videos. It’s mandatory if you have a product or service that needs explanation. Like Facebook, YouTube is almost a must have. Most products have a need for an explanation, which is where YouTube can help. In addition to product videos, YouTube is a good place to showcase your company culture. What better way to showcase your business to potential employees or customers than a video look inside?

Yelp is a bonus. If your business has a physical presence, you need a Yelp page. Beyond offering local search engine-optimization benefits, Yelp is a place where consumers leave and read reviews — including your type of products and services.

How to Choose?

It’s understandable if you want your business to be on all the major social media sites. But it may cost you effort that could be better spent on a few select relevant channels. If you focus on those channels, you’d likely get much more from them.

Large companies with massive ad campaigns can spend huge amounts of money to appear on all social sites. But it’s smaller companies that are often the most creative. They have limited budgets, which force better targeting. It’s those companies that often knock it out of the park.

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