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Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Nov, 14, 2014 @ 13:11 PM

why blog?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Bullas recently asked the question, in the title of this blog, in his post "44 Reasons Why You Should Use Social Media for Your Personal and Business Brand."

The biggest reason for me is to "leave a legacy." I don't have any kids. I've helped more than 100 people become successful marketing professionals.

I felt like my blog was a place where I could capture and share everything I've learned, and continue to learn, over the course of my career.

Hopefully providing information of value to business owners and marketing professionals will help them:

  1. Grow their business.
  2. Engage and empower their employees.
  3. Understand the value of customers versus revenue.
  4. Commit to providing an outstanding customer experience.
  5. Learn from some of the mistakes I've made.

Building a network, and making connections, on social media has been invaluable. It's given me an opportunity to connect with people I would have never met -- with them adding value to my life, and hopefully, me adding value to their's.

I love what Guy Kawasaki says, "The Internet rewards those who share information, and penalizes those who hoard it."

Blogging consistently is a great way to capture, and share, your thoughts and information of value.

It's also a great way to build awareness, traffic and leads. The key is consistency of message and presence. Most people who start a blog stop blogging after two to three months.

I know from experience, and data shared by HubSpot and other companies, that it takes six months to build a following that will help to double website traffic and improve SEO. Although I also know that by publishing at least twice a week, I've doubled traffic and leads for clients and employers in less than three months.

Do you share information of value to create awareness of your brand and to build your business? If not, and you'd like some help getting started, let me know. I'd be happy to help.

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues 

 

Don't have a website or need a refresh? Website are becoming easier to build as well with free resources like Squarespace and Wix and information of value from companies like http://firstsiteguide.com. That's on my "to do" list.

Tags: be reliable, be real, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

3 Keys to Lead Generation

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Nov, 03, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

3 keys to lead generation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

 

There are three keys communication that will help you generate more leads:

 

  1. Provide information of value
     
  2. Be consistent

  3. Be relevant

 

Providing information of value, not selling, builds awareness and trust of your products, services and company, as well as establishing you as a trusted-advisor on the subject about which you are sharing.

 

Start by answering all of your customers' and prospects' questions openly and in a transparent manner. Doing so will help establish you and your firm as someone who want to help solve a problem rather than just sell something.

 

What problem do you solve? How do you do it? How much does it cost? What are the benefits? What are the downsides?

 

By answering someone's question before they even ask you the question, you are saving them time and making their life easier. If you save someone time, or make their life easier, they're more likely to be a loyal, and long-term, customer.

 

Consistency is key. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency confuses people which leads to distrust.

 

Ensure all of your communications, across all channels, are consistent -- the same information, the same tone.

 

I strive to be genuinely helpful by sharing information I think will be of value to business owners and marketing professionals.

 

Be relevant. This can be difficult if you're inwardly focused. It's much easier if you are customer-centric.

 

Find out what your customers and prospects have questions about and answer those questions.

 

Ask your sales force and your customer service reps what the objections, issues and questions they hear most frequently.

 

Map the customer journey identifying the questions received and the information needed at each step of the journey. Once you've done this, don't forget to share your journey maps and questions with customers for validation. 

 

By providing information of value that's consistent and relevant, you will drive greater awareness, traffic and leads while establishing you, and your brand, as trustworthy.

 

What questions can I answer for you about sharing information of value?

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook

 

Tags: transparency, trust, be real, information of value, alignment, consistent messaging, be relevant

Top 10 Tips for Compelling Updates on LinkedIn to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 29, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Accelerate sales with LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Jamie Phan of LinkedIn for sharing LinkedIn Content Marketing Best Practices.

 

I’ve been a LinkedIn user for a number of years. I have used it to build brands, introduce new products and services and solve business problems.

 

Jamie’s 10 Tips for Compelling Updates are good for every marketer to remember whether their using LinkedIn, or some other social media platform, to promote their business.

 

  1. Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead. Have a concise title of 90 to 140 characters. They are more likely to result in higher engagement. Customize your headline for the audience you are targeting and for the social media channel you are using.
     
  2. Always include a clear call to action. What steps do you want the reader to take next? Share, call, respond with their thoughts or questions. Include links with a call to action. Updates with links typically result in double the engagement of updates with no links.
     
  3. Drive engagement with an image or rich media. Stand out with an eye-catching image or some or of rich media. An image can double engagement rates.
     
  4. Post YouTube/Vimeo videos to encourage sharing. Links to these videos play directly in the LinkedIn feed and typically result in a 75% higher share rate. SlideShare is also a great way to share information of value.
     
  5. Avoid hypertargeting. Don’t add so many targeting filters that you exclude potential audiences.
     
  6. Engage with members through comments. Keep the conversation going. Monitor discussions and remove inappropriate comments. Develop a plan to proactively handle any customer service issues that may surface. Be real, be responsive, be reliable, or be gone.
     
  7. Monitor, analyze and refine your content. Track all available analytics. Pay attention to the audience targeting types of content, time of day and frequency that drive the most interactions. A/B test headlines and images. Engagement rates do not drop on the weekends; however, traffic does.
     
  8. The more exclusive the information, the more interest you’ll generate. People like to get “inside information.” Your followers will appreciate sneak peeks inside your company, new products, new uses for products, even new office space. Make sure you give people things that are a bit special or exclusive. Let them see behind the curtain. They’ll develop a stronger emotional connection to your brand and your employees.
     
  9. Variety is key to making people hungry for more. Post one to two times a day to maximize organic reach and think about sharing a variety of images, links, video, SlideShare presentations, information or value, as well as commercial messages.
     
  10. Optimize your landing page for mobile and tablet engagement. More than 70% of sponsored update engagement comes from mobile devices. Don’t pay money to drive people to a bad browsing experience. You may never get them to visit you again.

What other suggestions do you have for creating compelling updates on LinkedIn?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, accelerate sales, be relevant

Empower Influencers and Raving Fans to Grow Your Business

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jul, 03, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

influencers and raving fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great webinar by David Amerland (@davidamerland), Linda West of Act-On, and Carly Tatum (@carlyjeane) at Dell entitled, "Influencers 2.0: ROI of the Influencer" presented by Social Media Today (#smtlive).

 

The key takeaway from the webinar -- provide a great customer experience (#cx) to engage your influencers (a.k.a., raving fans).

 

We live in an age of advocacy. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing grows more powerful as social media grows.

 

An increase in brand advocacy is one of the most important benefits of social media. Content is shared, comments are made and awareness and attention is gained. You just want to ensure that what's being said about you, and your brand, is positive not negative.

 

Do this by being relevant, being reliable, being responsive and being real.

 

Fail to do any of the four and you'll be called out in social media and lose the trust of influencers, customers and prospects.

 

Marketing induced customer-to-customer word-of-mouth generates more than two times the sales of paid advertising.

 

Why do consumers write about brands online?

 

  • 64% offer advice

  • 61% praise a brand

  • 52% criticize a brand

  • 51% share contents produced by a brand

 

Influencers and raving fans can seriously drive a brand message.

 

Influencers and raving fans are gatekeepers for information of value.

 

They help increase visibility in social media and search thereby saving time, effort and directing the attention of prospective customers.

 

Reach out to influencers to gain their trust, ensure alignment of values, goals and aspirations.

 

This is part of the personalization of business. Social media is about establishing mutually beneficial relationships with people. Use it to establish a relationship with influencers and raving fans.

 

Reach out to build trust through dialog.

 

Encourage and empower your employees to engage with influencers and raving fans. The more people within your firm that an influencer or raving fan has positive connections with, the more trust is gained.

 

Social influencers help attract visitors to your website.

 

You can track revenue by looking at referred social traffic and then seeing which ones convert to leads and sales.

 

Dell identifies an influencer as an individual, trendsetter or tastemaker with a signficant following among their target. Someone who's often quoted in the media. Someone who's statements result in action. A thought-leader in an industry vertical.

 

Dell works to:

 

  1. Identify influencers

  2. Engage with them at events so they have an in-person connection.

  3. Give them early access to products ("product seeding") as well as access to company executives.

  4. Maintain an ongoing relationship.

  5. Track the amount of advocacy the influencer provides over the course of the relationship.

 

Dell strives to have sufficient transparency for a customer to interact with the company on a personal versus corporate level by identifying the people within Dell who will be able to provide the most value to the customer.

 

Carly recommends engaging influencers from the outside in using customer feedback and from the inside out using influencer dialog.

 

The key is empowering employees to engage with influencers, customers and raving fans as real people rather than corporate spokespersons.

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book  

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, authenticity, be relevant, raving fans, referrals

Use Social Media to Enhance Customer Experience (#cx)

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, May, 29, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

Use social media to enhance customer experiences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing, for the webinar, "How To Social Surround Your Prospects and Customers."

 

Marketing and sales have an hourglass relationship:

 

  • Marketing = Know --> Like --> Trust

 

  • Sales = Try --> Buy

 

  • Service = Repeat -- > Refer

 

The future of marketing is less about demand creation and more about organizing behavior around the seven steps.

 

The social surround principles of organizing behavior around the seven steps are:

 

  • Listening = prospecting

  • Teaching = presenting

  • Insights = information sharing

  • Storybuilding = nurturing

  • Network building = closing

 

Content X Connection = Perfect Customer Journey

 

Map the entire customer journey: markeitng, sales, enrollment, service, education, follow-up, billing/finance, resell/upsell to understand what content you need to provide in order to connect with the customer at each step.

 

Your content must be relevant to the prospect and provide information of value.

 

Identify content for every stage of the process:

  • Content powers connections: awareness, trust, education, engagement, conversion

  • Content builds awareness: blog posts, events, advertising, videos, ebooks, press releases

  • Content builds trust: answers to FAQs, how to's, reviews, testimonials, articles

  • Content builds engagement: referrals, reviews, video success stories, video testimonials

  • Content creates referrals: invites, co-branding, sponsored, curated, incented

  • You can also use other people's content: custom RSS feeds, republishing, sharing, retweeting, storify  and scoop.it

John provided the elements of his content creation toolbox:

  • Visual.ly/Piktochart -- infographics

  • Screenflow/Camtasia -- screencasts

  • GoToWebinar/MeetingBurner -- webcasts

  • Skype/Call Recorder -- recorded interviews

  • Canva/Wordswag -- image editing

  • Wufoo/Survey Monkey -- custom surveys

  • Rev.com -- transription

There are a number of tools to use during your social journey:

  • Collect: Hootsuite, Feedly, Talkwalker, Signals, Diigo

  • Curate: Pulse, Feedly, Sccop.it, Newsle

  • Create: Wordswag, Canva, List.ly, Visual.ly

  • Share: Hootsuite, Feedly, Buffer, Republist 

  • Engage: CRM, groups, Rapportive

Build a total content system around the keywords you are using to optimize and improve your SEO, traffic and leads.

 

Click Here to Download Your Lead Generation eBook 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, information of value, be relevant, content, social media

10 Reasons to Blog and Share Information of Value

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 19, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

blog to generate trust
  1. Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links (source: Content+).

  2. 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type for marketing (Content+).

  3. Companies that blog 15 times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don't blog (HubSpot).

  4. Companies with an active blog report 97% more leads (Content+).

  5. Content from reputable sources is the most shared (UCLA).

  6. 90% of users listen to recommendations shared from friends (Votier Digital).

  7. Interesting content is the #3 reason people follow brands on social media (Content+).

  8. 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles over ads (Content+).

  9. 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them (Custom Content Council).

  10. 60% of consumer feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site (Content+).

 

If you don't have a blog, start one.

 

Start by answering frequently asked questions from customers and prospects.

 

You'll generate more traffic, more leads, better SEO performance and, ultimately, more business.

 

If you need some help, let me know.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues
 

Tags: trust, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media

4 Keys of Social Media and Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Apr, 21, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

4 keys to social media and customer experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Magazine entitled, "4 Pillars of Responsible Customer Engagement."

The four pillars identified by Sarah Sluis are:

  1. Relevance

  2. Respect

  3. Credibility

  4. Value

These pillars are very consistent with my four rules for participating in social media which I've shared numerous times:

  1. Be relevant

  2. Be reliable

  3. Be responsive

  4. Be real 

  5. Or, be gone

 

I believe the two go hand-in-hand and you should be treating someone in social media the same way you're treating a customer -- with respect, honesty, transparency, all while providing value.

 

Relevance is understanding the person's needs and wants based on your knowledge of the individual and then providing information, products or services in which the person will find value.

 

Given how much we know about people today, particularly customers, it should be relatively easy to provide value.

 

Customers are giving a lot of information to companies with the knowledge and trust that these companies will use this information to provide more value. Fail to do this and you will lose your customers' trust.

 

Respect is treating others how we would like to be treated ourselves. Go above and beyond providing information of value or outstanding service. Don't waste people's time, do what you can to make their lives easier.

 

Empower your employees to provide information of value and outstanding customer service. Taking the time to teach them your company's vision, mission, values and strategic positioning will help your business and help your employees.

 

Recognize employees who go the extra mile in helping a prospect or a customer. Employees that do this are the future of your organization.

 

Remember, your employees will only treat your customers and clients as well as you treat your employees.

 

Credibility. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. This will earn your prospects' and customers' trust.

 

Hold your employees accountable to do what they say they will do when they say they will do it. This will stay with your employees the rest of their lives and help them be more trustworthy to themselves, their family, friends and employers.

 

Deliver on your brand promises. You do have brand promises don't you?

 

Provide value in everything you do and in everything you sell. The more value you provide, the more repeat business you will have from customers and their friends and family.

 

Loyal customers provide an annuity revenue stream for your business. Invest more in keeping current customers happy than in getting new customers.

 

I've recently heard about two companies who were hiring more sales people while neglecting to implement voice of the customer or customer retention programs.

 

A loyal customer is more valuable over time than a new customer.

 

It's easier to provide great customer service than it is to get a new customer.

 

Put customer satisfaction ahead of awareness and lead generation to build a more successful business.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: customer experience, be reliable, be responsive, be real, information of value, be relevant, social media

Social Media Statistics to Know

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Apr, 10, 2014 @ 22:04 PM

Great article from Fast Company with a lot of great statistics that anyone active in social media will want to know.

 

I tend to get carried away. And for the times that I do, it sure would be nice to know if all this extra typing is hurting or helping my cause. I want to stand out on social media, but I want to do it in the right way.

Curious, I dug around and found some answers for the ideal lengths of tweets and titles and everything in between. Many of these could have been answered with “it depends,” but where’s the fun in that? Solid research exists to show the value of writing, tweeting, and posting at certain lengths. We can learn a lot from scientific social media guidelines like these. Here’s the best of what I found.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A TWEET IS 100 CHARACTERS

Whom should you trust when it comes to advice on the ideal length of a tweet? How about Twitter itself?

Twitter’s best practices reference research by Buddy Media about tweet length: 100 characters is the engagement sweet spot for a tweet.

Creativity loves constraints and simplicity is at our core. Tweets are limited to 140 characters so they can be consumed easily anywhere, even via mobile text messages. There’s no magical length for a Tweet, but a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.

The Buddy Media research falls in line with similar research by Track Social in a study of 100 well-known brands that are popular on Twitter. Track Social also found that theperfect Tweet length was right around 100 characters.

Their analysis saw a spike in retweets among those in the 71-100 character range--so-called “medium” length tweets. These medium tweets have enough characters for the original poster to say something of value and for the person retweeting to add commentary as well.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A FACEBOOK POST IS LESS THAN 40 CHARACTERS

Forty characters is not much at all. (The sentence I just wrote is 35 characters.)

But 40 is the magic number that Jeff Bullas found was most effective in his study of retail brands on Facebook. He measured engagement of posts, defined by “like” rate and comment rate, and the ultra-short 40-character posts received 86% higher engagement than others.

The 40-character group also represented the smallest statistical set in the study (only 5% of all posts qualified at this length), so best practices on Facebook also include the next most popular set: Posts with 80 characters or fewer received 66% higher engagement.

Many different studies over the years have confirmed that shorter posts are better on Facebook. One such study by BlitzLocal looked at nearly 120 billion Facebook impressions and found that performance tailed off as posts grew longer. Their particular data found significant advantages to question posts between 100 to 119 characters.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A GOOGLE+ HEADLINE IS LESS THAN 60 CHARACTERS

To maximize the readability and appearance of your posts on Google+, you may want to keep your text on one line. Demian Farnworth of Copyblogger studied the Google+ breaking point and found that headlines should not exceed 60 characters.

Here is an example of what we mean. The post below had a headline exceeding 60 characters and got bumped.

This post kept the title within 60 characters and stayed on one line.

Demian’s advice goes even deeper. If your Google+ headline simply can’t be contained in one line, then you can turn to Plan B. Write a superb first sentence.

In the last update, Google changed the layout of posts so that you only see three lines of the original post before you see “Read more” link. In other words, your first sentence has to be a gripping teaser to get people to click “Read More.”

Here is Demian’s killer example:

In terms of overall post length, Google+ posts average 156 characters, according toQunitly Research. Digging further, Quintly found the largest spike in engagement at posts of 5 characters in length and the second-highest spike in posts of 442 characters. Takeaway: You can write a lot longer on Google+ and still find great results.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A HEADLINE IS SIX WORDS

How much of the headline for this story did you read before you clicked?

According to a post by KISSmetrics, you might not have read it all.

Writing for KISSmetrics, headline expert Bnonn cites usability research revealing we don’t only scan body copy, we also scan headlines. As such, we tend to absorb only the first three words and the last three words of a headline. If you want to maximize the chance that your entire headline gets read, keep your headline to six words.

Of course, six-word headlines are rare (and hard to write!). If you can’t cut your title down to six words, you can still be aware of how your headline might be read, and you can adjust accordingly. As the KISSmetrics post says:

Of course, that’s seldom enough to tilt the specificity-meter into the red. And I have it on good authority that some of the highest-converting headlines on the web are as long as 30 words. As a rule, if it won’t fit in a tweet it’s too long. But let me suggest that rather than worrying about length you should worry about making every word count. Especially the first and last three.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A BLOG POST IS SEVEN MINUTES, 1,600 WORDS

When measuring the content that performs best on their site, Medium focuses not on clicks but on attention. How long do readers stick with an article?

In this sense, an ideal blog post would be one that people read. And Medium’s research on this front says that the ideal blog post is seven minutes long.

To arrive at this number, Medium measured the average total seconds spent on each post and compared this to the post length. All Medium posts are marked with a time signature for how long the read should be. After adjusting their analysis for a glut of shorter posts (overall, 74% of posts are under three minutes long and 94% are under six minutes long), they came to their conclusion:

And there we have it: the average total seconds rises for longer posts, peaks at seven minutes, and then declines.

And in terms of word count, a seven-minute read comes in around 1,600 words.

(A photo-heavy post could bring the average down closer to 1,000. Medium’s seven-minute story on ideal post length was filled with images and graphs and contained 980 words.)

SerpIQ examined the question of ideal post length from an SEO perspective. They looked at the top 10 results on search results pages and counted the words in each article. Their data included text in the sidebars of posts, so you can knock a few words off of the totals below.

Of course, as with any of these ideal lengths, the answers you find here could very well be taken as “it depends,” since research varies from site to site. For instance, Moz found that longer posts on their blog get linked to more often, and Upworthy found little correlation between length and attention when they tested Medium’s hypothesis for themselves. (Upworthy cited factors like type of posts and audience as a couple of possible explanations for the discrepancy.)

Perhaps the best takeaway here is this, borrowed from the conclusion of Medium’s study:

What it does mean is that it’s worth writing however much you really need. Don’t feel constrained by presumed short attention spans. If you put in the effort, so will your audience.

THE IDEAL WIDTH OF A PARAGRAPH IS 40-55 CHARACTERS

I know, I know. Width and length aren’t the same thing, but I just couldn’t resist this interesting take. Social media expert Derek Halpern found that there are a pair of very important, underlying factors that go into the width of your content:

  • Content width can give the appearance of simplicity or complexity
  • Content width is key to maximizing reader comprehension

The ideal paragraph length, in this sense, would appear simple to the reader and allow for easy reading. Halpern believes he found the window where this happens.

The problem is, to ensure maximum comprehension and the appearance of simplicity, the perfect line length ranges between 40 and 55 characters per line, or in other words, a content column that varies between 250-350 pixels wide (it depends on font size and choice).

Forty and 55 characters per line means about 8 to 11 words. If you’re viewing the Buffer blog in a desktop browser, you’re likely seeing up to 20 characters per line. Whoops!

You may have noticed many sites online that have a different font for their lead paragraph than they do for the remainder of their text. Would you believe there is psychology at play here? Consider that shorter lines appear as less work for the reader; they make it easier to focus and to jump quickly from one line to the next. Opening paragraphs with larger fonts--and therefore fewer characters per line--are like a a running start to reading a piece of content. This style gets readers hooked with an easy-to-read opening paragraph, then you can adjust the line width from there.

Here’s an example from Smashing Magazine:

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF AN EMAIL SUBJECT LINE 28-39 CHARACTERS

In September 2012, MailChimp published the following headline on its blog: Subject Line Length Means Absolutely Nothing. This was quite the authoritative statement, but MailChimp had the data to back it up.

Their research found no significant advantage to short or long subject lines in emails. Clicks and opens were largely the same.

By this token, you are likely to be okay writing an email of any length (and always better off being specific and helpful with the subject you write, regardless of how many words you use). That being said, other research hints at a sweet spot: 28-39 characters.

A study released by Mailer Mailer around the same time as MailChimp’s study found a slight bump in opens and clicks at a certain range of characters. Here is their analysis:

  • 4–15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
  • 16–27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
  • 28–39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
  • 40–50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
  • 51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click

The stat is one of the few of its kind to show a demonstrative (but not overwhelming) difference in subject line lengths. Litmus referenced this study in their popular subject line infographic. If there were ever to be a recommended length for a subject based on research, this would be it.

Beyond the perfect length, you can also adhere to best practices. In general, a 50-character maximum is recommended, although MailChimp does point out that there can be exceptions:

The general rule of thumb in email marketing is to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. Our analysis found this to generally be the rule. The exception was for highly targeted audiences, where the reader apparently appreciated the additional information in the subject line.

Of course, you can always just learn from those who do it best and those who do it worst. In MailChimp’s studies they came across some especially high performers--and some low performers.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A PRESENTATION IS 18 MINUTES

Organizers of TED have found that 18 minutes is the ideal length of a presentation, and so all presenters--including Bill Gates and Bono--are required to come in under this mark.

The science behind this 18-minute mark comes from studies of attention spans. Scientists seem to agree on a range of 10 to 18 minutes for how long most people can pay attention before they check out. The physiological reason behind this is that new information must be processed by the brain, resulting in a huge use of glucose, oxygen, and blood flow as brain neurons fire and burn energy. This loss of energy leads to fatigue.

Carmine Gallo, writing on LinkedIn, pointed to even more scientific research at the root of this attention-time phenomenon. Gallo wrote of Dr. Paul King of Texas Christian University who likens the act of listening and absorbing information to lifting weights: The more we are asked to take in, the heavier and heavier the load gets. Eventually, we can’t hold the weight anymore, and we drop it all--or forget it all.

King tested this on graduate students, observing that those who went to class three days a week for 50 minutes recalled more information than those who went to class one day a week for three hours.

Science is a nice reason to put a limit on presentations, but if you’re sharing yours online or looking for virality, there could be other important factors, too. Here is what TED curator Chris Anderson thinks:

It [18 minutes] is the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. … It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A TITLE TAG IS 55 CHARACTERS

Title tags are the bits of text that define your page on a search results page. Brick-and-mortar stores have business names; your web page has a title tag.

Recent changes to the design of Google’s results pages mean that the maximum length for titles is around 60 characters. If your title exceeds 60 characters, it will get truncated with an ellipse. The design change can be seen below where a formerly ideal title has now been truncated.

Finding a hard-and-fast rule for the maximum recommendation of a title tag isn’t as easy as you’d think. Quick typography lesson: Google uses Arial for the titles on its results pages, Arial is a proportionally-spaced font, meaning that different letters take up different width. A lowercase “i” is going to be narrower than a lowercase “w.” Therefore, the actual letters in your title will change the maximum allowable characters that can fit on one line.

Moz dug deep to see where exactly this maximum character limit surfaced for truncated titles. They found that 55 characters seemed to be the breaking point as a general rule.

THE IDEAL LENGTH OF A DOMAIN NAME IS EIGHT CHARACTERS

This one may not apply to all of you, but if you’re trying to name your startup it’s a useful find. According to Daily Blog Tips, these are the characteristics of a good domain name:

  • It is short
  • It is easy to remember
  • It is easy to spell
  • It is descriptive or brandable
  • It does not contain hyphens and numbers
  • It has a .com extension

Daily Blog Tips also found the ideal length. They ran an Alexa report that looked at the domains for the top 250 websites. The results: Over 70% of the sites had domain names of eight characters or less, and the average number of characters per domain was just over seven.

RECAP

For the tl;dr version of this article on ideal length, here’s a graphic that encompasses all the guidelines mentioned above.

What lengths have you found work best for you? I’d be keen to hear your thoughts in the comments.

This article originally appeared in Buffer and is reprinted with permission.

[Image: Flickr user Will Culpepper]

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, be relevant, social media

Empower Employees to Help Your Social Media Presence

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Apr, 08, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

empower employees on social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have an active social media presence?

 

Are you providing information of value to customers and prospects via blog posts?

 

You need to. It will build awareness, trust and traffic.

 

According to Experian, who collect data from more than 34,000 retail web site, shoppers clicking from social networks today account for 7.7% of all traffic to retail web sites in November, up from 6.6% a year earlier.

 

While social media likely has a more significant impact on B2C than B2B, I'm sure the growth is similar.

 

Don't know what to post or share? Empower your employees to help you.

 

Chances are they're already more familiar with different social media channels than you are. In addition, customer-facing employees already know what your customers and prospects would find to be information of value.

 

Start with frequently asked questions. Every answer to every question is a potential blog post that will help your customers, your prospects and your business.

 

If you've done a good job communicating your vision, mission, values and strategic positioning, your employees will be more credible and authentic sources of information than anyone to whom you might outsource your social media marketing efforts.

 

Social media is about personal relationships, so hearing from, and developing a personal relationship with, members of your staff is important.

 

You may charge your marketing department with leading your social media marketing effort; however, contributors should come from all departments in your company.

 

Having social media team members in all departments gives your social messaging more reach, greater effectiveness and authenticity.

 

If someone has a technical question, who better to answer the question than an engineer?

 

Likewise, if someone has a question about billing, why not have them engage with someone from accounts payable?

 

Getting more employees involved with your customers gives your customers a better perspective on the breadth and depth of your company.

 

The more employees a customer interacts with, the less likely they are to move their business if one employee leaves.

 

To get started building your team, start by identifying the social media lead in each department:

  1. Name and title

  2. Availability to spend on social media

  3. Potential role on the social media team

  4. Who needs to approve their participation

 

Again, I recommend having at least one person from every department in the company so they can share with others in their department about the company's social media efforts and the desire to collect questions and other information of value for customers and prospects.

 

Engaging all of your employees in your social media efforts will ensure you have a steady stream of content and fresh ideas on ways to share content (e.g., product demonstrations on YouTube).

 

The more you post, the more awareness, SEO performance, traffic and leads you'll get.

 

Develop a social media strategy and plan to ensure your social media efforts are consistent with all other marketing efforts and then empower your employees to help you build awareness, trust, traffic and leads.

 

Regardless of what you do, I urge you, and your social media team to be relevant, be reliable, be responsive and be real.

 

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Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, empower employees, authenticity, be relevant, social media

Why are companies afraid of social media?

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Apr, 02, 2014 @ 10:04 AM

companies should embrace social media

 

 

 

 

 

 

I recently saw this question asked in an online forum.

 

I believe companies that are not engaging customers and prospects on social media are reluctant to admit that the consumer is now in control of their brand and the perception of their brand.

 

Failure to engage with customers or prospects gives them even more control.

 

If a company wants to be an industry leader, they must be a leader in social media as well -- sharing information of value, educating prospects and customers, addressing industry issues.

 

Empower employees to engage with customers and prospects online to answer their questions, educate them and provide information of value.

 

Small businesses have a tremendous opportunity to compete with large companies with significant marketing budgets, by providing information of value to build awareness, credibility and trust as well as traffic and leads.

 

Don't have any information of value to share? Think again. What questions have you ever been asked by a customer or prospect? Every answer to every question is the topic for a blog post.

 

Restaurants that change their menus daily of weekly should post them on social media.

 

Retailers that have new items to feature should take a picture of them and post them on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Did you just make a presentation to business professionals about how they can use your services to save time and money? Why not post the PowerPoint on Slideshare, LinkedIn, your website and targeted LinkedIn Groups.

 

The more you share content and interact with people online, the more they see there's a real person behind the company. This engenders trusts and begins to develop the type of relationship that can lead to a long-term customer.

 

Companies must also provide an acceptable, if not outstanding, customer experience. Those who don't will be called out on social media, whether they're participating in social media or not.

 

You employees need to know this and be empowered to deliver outstanding customer service and resolve issues in favor of the customer in the first call, email, post or exchange.

 

A customer whose complaint is resolved is more likely to be a long-term customer than the customer who never complains.

 

Be relevant, be reliable, be responsive, be real, or be gone.

 

Why do you think companies are afraid of social media?

 

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Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, empower employees, connecting emotionally with customers, be relevant, be real or be gone