Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Are Your Social Shares Making Your Headlines Look Dull?

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Headlines, they’re one of the most important elements of a good piece of content.  They help readers to know what the content is about, they generate clicks, and can set your content apart from others like it.  But I’ve noticed lately when sharing content that the headline or text used for sharing content is overlooked, which can make headlines look dull to your social audience, and potentially impact your content’s engagement.

Below is a recent article I read on CNN.  You’ll notice the headline to the piece is “Seating secrets: How airlines decide what fare you pay.”  The “seating secrets” part of the headline is what got me to click when I saw the article in an email.  By putting the word “secret” in the title it leads the reader to believe they are getting information that they shouldn’t have access to and perhaps after reading the piece will know how to save on airfare.  It’s a psychological tactic that enticed me and likely a number of other users to click and read the article.  But if you look in the same image, you’ll see what populated when I went to tweet the article on Twitter.  The populated tweet simply reads, “How airlines decide what fare you pay.”  While some frequent flyers might be interested in this headline, it doesn’t have the same psychological appeal that the “seating secrets” headline does.

Screencap of CNN article

This is a common problem that is a result of sites automating the creation of Twitter share content in order to have some control over the message, but oftentimes this information is pulled from the wrong location.  Some tools are setup to pull the tweet content from the title tag on the page, others use the article heading.  In the case of CNN, the tweet content appears to have been pulled from the page’s Open Graph title tag. Regardless of how it’s pulled, it’s important to make sure the messaging going out is exactly how you want it to appear to social media users.  If not the piece may sound dull and you may miss out on potential engagement.

Wondering how your shared content appears on Facebook?  Find out how Facebook’s debugger tool can help.

Why Facebook’s Debugger Tool Should Be In Your Content Creation Arsenal

Monday, April 4th, 2016

Facebook; for many content creators it’s a great place to help seed content and get it noticed.  But what a lot of people fail to realize is that how that content is shared and how it appears on Facebook can be greatly impacted by how Facebook initially scrapes the content.  If Facebook scrapes bad information or can’t access information about the content, it can impact everything from title, to description, and even the imagery associated with the post.  Left uncorrected, any shares or Like’s your content receives may not show up the way you had hoped in Facebook timelines, which can result in fewer clicks and less engagement.  Thankfully, Facebook’s Debugger Tool  can aid in correcting the issue.

So what exactly am I talking about when I say Facebook may be scraping bad information?  Take a look at the example below, which I captured a few weeks ago from Fast Company’s Co.Create (which is an amazing site by the way, if you’re not already reading it I highly recommend it.)  I was attempting to share a piece on Ithaca Audio’s History of Rock video and when I did, the only information that displayed on Facebook was the domain  There was no imagery, no title, nothing.  Had I left it as is, people who saw it in my Facebook timeline never would have known what the piece was about beyond my own comments and this would happen with any subsequent shares or likes the post may have received.

An example from Co.Create showing a bad Facebook fetch.


Most users would ignore the fact that the proper information wasn’t showing and share it anyway, but I’m not most users…

Recognizing there was an issue with how Facebook initially fetched this content, I opened up the Facebook Debugger and plugged in the posts’s URL and clicked “Debug.”  After running the URL Facebook will provide the current scrape information it has for the content and provide an example of how the content will display on Facebook.  After running the URL I discovered that Facebook wasn’t able to access some of the information during it’s first scrape, so I clicked “Fetch new scrape information” and this time Facebook was able to access all the information it needed to properly display the content on Facebook.  After fetching the new information, I saw the following when attempting to share the content again:

Co.Create's Facebook post after debugging

As you can see, the new share includes the image, title, and description that should have been associated with the post when people shared it.  Obviously this is much more appealing to users and likely how Co.Create wanted their content to appear when it was shared on Facebook. (BTW, if anyone from C0.Create is reading this, I have to do this at least once a week for your content.)

Root Causes of Bad Scrape Information

So what causes issues like this and how can you prevent them?  The most common issue I have seen is when a URL is shared prematurely.  This usually happens if you are scheduling out posts on your Facebook Page ahead of time and the content isn’t actually published yet.  When you input the URL, even if you’re scheduling the post for later, Facebook goes to that URL and attempts to fetch the needed information for the post.  If you do this before the content goes live, Facebook will not be able to grab the needed information and will display just the domain infrmation like in the above example.

Another common issue is a site outage or server error.  If your site goes down for any reason while Facebook is doing a fetch of the content it may not capture all of the needed information to properly display on Facebook.

If you’re auto-posting to Facebook or scheduling ahead of time, it’s always a good idea to test the post once it’s live in Debugger and ensure that it’s displaying the way you want it to.  If it’s not, fetch new scrape information and hopefully your issue will be resolved.

One important thing to note is that fetching new scrape information will only help if the needed Open Graph tags are in place and simply weren’t accessible at the time of the initial fetch.  If Open Graph tags have been implemented incorrectly, the debugger may tell you what is wrong, but will still need to have the tags fixed before it will properly display your content.

How Facebook’s Instant Article’s Could Impact Your Content’s Overall Reach & Visibility

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Facebook recently announced the opening of it’s Instant Articles to all publishers, which has many content producers wondering if they should hop on board.  The feature rolled out in May 2015 to a handful of major publishers and allows content creators to create fast, interactive articles within Facebook.  But as I’ve started interacting with more Instant Article content I’ve found one major flaw that publishers should be aware of.

If you’re like me, you probably consume content through a number of social platforms; Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.  And like me, you probably share content you enjoy across those various networks with your various audiences.  You might find something on Facebook and using the sites share features, share it on Facebook as well as other networks.  But with Facebook Instant Articles, the content you discover on Facebook is no longer share friendly across the web.  This means the potential reach for your content across other platforms is inhibited by Facebook’s new mobile article experience.

Below is an example of an Instant Article from Vox I was recently reading.  You can see that the share functionality is prominently pinned to the top of the article no matter where you’re at on the page.  Additionally, a larger share button appears at the bottom of the article, but in both instances, these share features take you to the share screen within Facebook and offer no means of sharing the content on other social networks.

Share features on Facebook Instant Articles

I tested a number of publishers who are already using Instant Articles, including MTV, The New York Times, .Mic, and Buzzfeed and in every instance, when Instant Articles was being used the content was limited to being shared, or sometimes Liked within the Facebook ecosystem.  From a Facebook perspective, this makes sense.  It keeps users on Facebook longer and prevents the risk of someone falling down another rabbit hole on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or the like.  But as a publisher, this is likely something you are going to want to explore and test.

Since the introduction of Instant Articles, I have personally found myself sharing content from certain publishers less on other social networks due to this limitation.  Historically I have shared content on at least one other social network if I enjoy it, and publishers like Vox and Buzzfeed are no longer benefiting from my sharing of their content across my social audiences.  While I, as a single user may not be a huge deal, imagine the impact it has when you consider that BuzzFeed has nearly 7 billion Likes on Facebook.  That’s 7 billion people who are no longer able to share content they enjoy outside of the Facebook ecosystem.

So if  you’re considering getting involved with Instant Articles, I would strongly suggest testing it and seeing what kind of impact it has on your content’s reach across social channels.  Instant Articles is great for the user experience and speed it brings for your Facebook audience, but it might be at the cost of losing additional visibility from a users followers on other social channels.

How a Recent Yelp App Update May Impact Your Business

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Yelp Mobile ReviewsYelp; most local businesses have a love/hate relationship with it.  On one hand it’s a great site for getting your business found and assisting in building up your sites local citations.  On the other hand, one bad review could have a significant impact on the reputation of your business.  Until recently, business owners who were afraid of negative reviews being posted felt some comfort in the fact that reviews could be written via the Yelp mobile app, but not posted.  Oftentimes this would result in a negative review being delayed, or perhaps never posted at all.  But a recent change to the app has removed that roadblock.

Last week Yelp announced an update allowing users to post reviews straight from their mobile device.  Recognizing the evolution of its user base and its dependence on mobile devices, Yelp decided it was time to allow users the ability to write and publish reviews directly from their mobile device.  Previously, users could write a draft of their review from their phone, but would have to wait until they logged in on a desktop computer to publish the review.

Why This Matters To Businesses

While this may seem like a minor change, it has the potential to have a major impact on local businesses and how customers interact with them on Yelp.

A Change In User Behavior

This app update has the opportunity to change the behavior of Yelps user base.  Even Yelp admits most users don’t post reviews, but with this change many users who were turned off by the two step posting process may start using the review feature more.  I know a number of people I have talked to over the years have complained about the two step process and have stated that its the number one reason they don’t post reviews.  With the second step removed, there’s a strong chance those users will begin freely posting reviews.

Fullfilling the Need To Be Heard

If there’s one thing social media has taught us, its that we as a society love to be heard.  We tell you where we are, what we’re eating, what we’re doing, and sometimes we even snap a picture of it.  With the ability to post a review on the fly, your customers now have the opportunity to share with their friends and the public how much they love your business or how much they hate your business during the exact moment they are feeling that emotion the most.  This means that if you’re a doctor’s office and a member of your stuff goes out of their way to make me, as a patient, fee more comfortable or cared for I might post an amazing review about how much I love your practice and your staff.  On the flipside, if your staff is uncaring and treats me like an inconvenience more than a patient chances are I am going to spend that few minutes in the exam room before you come in ripping apart your practice and its miserable batch of employees.

Because this is written and published in the moment, chances are it is going to reflect the extremes I am feeling in that moment.  So if I love you in that moment I am really going to love you, and if I hate you in that moment…well chances are I’ll use a few choice four letter words to describe my experience.

A Need For Quality Service

Unless you’re this moron, chances are you recognize the importance of treating your customers well and providing quality service.  That said, business owners are often so disconnected from the day-to-day of their business they don’t really see what’s going on at the point of contact with their customers.

I personally worked with a client who thought his office staff was exceptional.  It wasn’t until he began recording incoming phone calls that he discovered his staff was often rude and would leave callers on hold for unreasonable amounts of time.  In the end we were able to tie poor phone conversions back to how the staff handled phone calls.

Now more than ever business owners need to be checking the pulse of their business and really understand how their customers are being treated.  While Yelp has been around for years, and people have used it for years, this new feature enables its users to be more in the moment and depending on how they feel about your business that could be good or bad.

I don’t believe that this change will generate a sweeping change in how users navigate reviews on Yelp, but I do believe that for a certain percentage of users this is going to enable them to post a number of reviews they may not have posted prior to the update.  As a business owner, now is the time to make sure you have all your ducks in a line when it comes to managing your reputation and making sure that the quality of service you provide your customers is truly meeting their needs.

Infographics: You’re Doing It Wrong

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

With sites like Piktochart making infographics easier for marketers and businesses to produce, there continues to be a strong interest in infographics for building brand awareness as well as backlinks.  But as infographics continue to be a popular means of content marketing, I see a lot of problems with the direction this type of content is headed and how the content is being promoted.

Infographics for the Sake of Doing Infographics

Many of the infographics I see being produced these days are being created solely for the sake producing them and hopefully reaping some of their benefits in the process.  Unfortunately many of the graphics being produced are unrelated to the businesses producing them.  While this technically could have been added to my five reasons your infographic sucks post, I think it has a place here simply because it shows the direction the practice of creating infographics is headed.  If you’re going to produce an infographic make sure the data or at least some aspect or theme to the graphic ties back to your business.

A while back I came across a fun graphic called TV Living Rooms We Grew Up In, the graphic was a fun look at TV families over the years with some random facts about each of the shows they were a part of.  But at the end of the graphic I was surprised to discover the graphic wasn’t from an entertainment news site or the like, but a custom rug company. Sure, perhaps each of those TV living rooms had rugs, but once I looked at the graphic I had no desire to learn more about the company nor did I remember the brand.

TV Infographic by MyCustomRug

If you’re going to create an infographic, make sure it serves a purpose for your business and can be tied back to data that is important to your business or its customers and will help associate your brand with the data and the product or information it represents.  Ask yourself, if search engines and social networks didn’t exist would I spend time putting together this kind of data for my customer base?

The Rise of Infographic Submissions

There was a time when directory submissions were all the rage in SEO.  You paid anywhere from $10-$100 and some poor webmaster would review your website and then if you were approved your site would be listed within a relevant section of their directory.  Sites like these were a dime a dozen and were the goto for SEO link building in the early days.  Over time most directory links were devalued by Google, the sites that sold them were often penalized, and ultimately SEO’s more or less walked away from directory submissions as a means of getting valuable links for websites.

But while directories may be dead, the business model that surrounded these directories has found a new life in the world of infographics.  I realized it first when I read Paddy Moogan’s post early last year that featured a huge list of infographic sites that accepted both free and paid infographic submissions.  Since then many of the sites that have the most authority surrounding infographics now require a fee to review the graphic before it will be featured on the site or blog.  Sound familiar?

When Google’s Matt Cutts came out last year and said he anticipates infographic links will eventually be devalued, it is these sorts of infographic links that came to mind.  Submitting your infographic to a number of websites for the purpose of links and nothing more is essentially the same practice as the directory link building and in time I anticipate this will lose all of its value, or ultimately hurt you in the form of an unnatural links penalty.

Doing Infographics Right

If you want your infographics to succeed be sure to produce content that offers value to your business and your customer.  Remember infographics represent your brand, put the same effort into your infographics that you would any other piece of marketing or branding material.  Infographics that get the most shares and exposure are informational, provide value to the consumer, are visually appealing and are many times entertaining.

A lot of people feel that infographics are dead, but the slew of infographic pinterest boards, websites, and even a recent project from Google suggest otherwise.  Good infographics are here to stay and if distributed with the correct audience in mind and through the proper channels can be highly beneficial to a business and its SEO.  If you’re stuck creating junk graphics and distributing them to random sites across the net, chances are you’re going to be looking for a different strategy in the next six to 12 months.