Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Why a New Facebook Feature Means It’s Time To Get Serious About Blog Images and OpenGraph

Monday, June 24th, 2013

New Facebook feature which allows Pages to upload content preview imageOver the last couple of weeks, Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature to Facebook Page admins that is going to force content creators to start seriously thinking about their use of imagery and Open Graph protocol on their content.

What It Does

The feature, which I just discovered this past Friday allows Page admins to disregard the images suggested by Facebook for a shared piece of content and instead upload an image of their own.  The feature is useful, especially for folks trying to make their Page content look as presentable as possible even if they are sharing from another source.  Where this will be most handy however is when content creators refuse to use imagery in their content and Facebook shares are left with generic imagery from the website.

Why Images Are Important

Imagery not only helps to visualize your content to viewers, it can also help to break up large blocks of content and make your content easier to read.  We are a generation of skimmers, very few people read web copy these days, instead they skim to digest what they can out of content.  Images can help to break up content and make it easier to skim.

If that wasn’t enough, social media has made us an extremely visual culture.  Sites like Facebook and Google+ are automatically pulling imagery from your website to help make content shared on their sites more appealing, so why not make sure its an image that makes sense with your content as opposed to an ad or some other random image off of your website.

By adding relevant imagery you can not only make the content on your site more engaging, but you increase the probability that users who see your content on social networks will click through and view your content.

Adopting the Open Graph

The Open Graph protocol has been used by Facebook for a few years now.  Like the structured markup that can help local SEO, it is a means of helping machines and systems, in this case Facebook, understand more about your content.  With Open Graph you can tell Facebook specifically what the title of your content is, what description to use when it displays your content, and best of all what image it should use when people share your content on Facebook.

By telling Facebook what title, description, and image to use with your content when it’s shared, the odds of people seeing your content exactly as you want it represented when seen on Facebook is that much greater.  Even if you’re using images in your content, this ensures that Facebook can properly access the imagery and use it alongside your content.

This weekend I tried to share a piece of content from a site that was using images in its content, but for some reason the main image that was most relevant to the post wasn’t suggested as an option from Facebook, instead it was pulling irrelevant imagery found in the sidebar of the page.  Had the site been using Open Graph I wouldn’t have had to upload the picture myself before sharing it on my Page.

Image options for the content before and after

Implementing Open Graph

There are a number of ways to integrate and implement the Open Graph protocol into your content.  If you have to hard code the tags into each piece of content I would highly recommend Neil Patel’s piece on social media meta tags.  On the other hand, if you’re a WordPress user like me, you can simply install WordPress SEO by Yoast.  It not only gives you a ton of great SEO functionality, but has Open Graph protocol features built into it that can help ensure your content is seen properly by Facebook.

TL;DR What You Need To Know

  • Facebook is rolling out a new feature that allows Page admins to upload an image of their choice to represent content they share on their page
  • If you want your content to be properly represented visually on social networks you need to make sure you are using images in your content
  • If you want to make sure Facebook is using the right images for your content implement the Open Graph protocol on your content to help Facebook identify the right image to use for your content when its shared
  • If you don’t take this seriously, Pages can choose imagery for your content that may not align with the message or theme you were hoping to convey

Why Social Can’t Be Your Only Online Strategy

Monday, May 20th, 2013

The other day a longtime friend of mine tweeted, “LIKES are the New Links.”  As an SEO, I cringed a little.  It’s statements like these I see coming from a lot of folks these days, the rise in social media popularity and the use of social media influence in both Google and Bing’s search results have lead many to claim, or even believe that social is all you need.  Thankfully my friend doesn’t come from this school of thought, but her tweet got me thinking a lot about why social media as a sole online strategy falls so short of what a business, big or small, can achieve online.

The Appeal of a Social Only Effort

There is a lot of appeal to social only strategies, especially for small businesses.  Social only strategies tend to:

  • Tailor to smaller budgets
  • Require less effort to gain momentum
  • Require fewer resources
  • Utilize existing social media understanding of staff, or office members

It’s easy to understand why so many businesses are drawn to social media.  They hear all the buzz around social media, they see big corporations using social media in major ad campaigns and it leads them to believe that social is where its at.  And in a lot of ways, they’re right.

Social media is a great way for brands big or small to increase visibility and create engagement among existing customers, but in comparison to SEO, social media has a hard time driving leads and delivering high ROI from a dollars and cents perspective. People use social media to socialize, but they use search to find solutions to their needs.

As a recent Search Engine Watch article pointed out, recent studies from both Adobe and Conductor find that when it comes to online queries, most consumers are still turning to their favorite search engines before their favorite social network.

A graph showing where users go to find information.

Why You Need More Than Just Social Media

You need more than just a social media strategy, just like you need more than just an SEO strategy, or just a paid search strategy.  At the end of the day digital marketing delivers numerous channels for businesses to pull from.  And with anything, its never a good idea to put all of your eggs in one basket.

It Doesn’t Lend Itself to Discovery

Unless you’re running paid advertising on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like, chances are you aren’t going to generate a lot of new discoveries for your brand or your business.  SEO is great as a foundational element for building your online presence.  It helps people who aren’t familiar with your brand find you and discover what you or your business has to offer.

SEO Can Strengthen Social Engagement

When you think of the core of SEO you think of on page factors such as Titles, Descriptions, and the like.  Optimizing your website for discovery lends itself nicely to social media in that when people share your content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ they won’t just see words like “Home” or “Products” in the title of the links shared from your site.  Instead they will be keyword rich titles and descriptions optimized for encouraging people to click through to your website and describing exactly what it is the page is about.

Social Can Increase SEO Visibility

When you look at the adoption of social results in both Bing and Google, you recognize there is a huge opportunity for businesses not only to use SEO to show up in the search results, but to take it a step further by having relevant content that has also been shared or liked by social media users who influence the person searching.

Search and Social Are Stronger Together

There’s no question that social media has become valuable tool, but as it grows in popularity and is analyzed by the search engines and how they rank content it will only increase in its value.  However the value will only be there if you have a strong foundation within your website to fuel it.  Without the proper SEO foundations in place, there is no way to guarantee your content is going to show up in front of the right audience.

I would never recommend a solely social strategy to a client, just as I would never recommend a SEO only strategy to a client.  Fueling your business from a single channel is dangerous no matter what that channel is.  If Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social channels you’re using shut down tomorrow where would you earn your business online?

Twitter Hacked: Password Resets Being Sent To Impacted Users

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Oh, Fail Whale, How I've Missed Thee by Jeff HesterJust a short time ago Twitter posted about a security threat that may have given hackers access to over 250,000 users.  The attack, which follows a string of recent attacks on U.S. websites such as The New York Times  and Wall Street Journal, have forced the social media giant to take action to protect its users.

This week, we detected unusual access patterns that led to us identifying unauthorized access attempts to Twitter user data. We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later. However, our investigation has thus far indicated that the attackers may have had access to limited user information – usernames, email addresses, session tokens and encrypted/saltedversions of passwords – for approximately 250,000 users.

As a precautionary security measure, we have reset passwords and revoked session tokens for these accounts. If your account was one of them, you will have recently received (or will shortly) an email from us at the address associated with your Twitter account notifying you that you will need to create a new password. Your old password will not work when you try to log in to Twitter.

Twitter believes the attack was carried out by very savvy individuals and does not believe it to be an isolated incident.  While the company has not completed its investigation it announced the attack because of its severity and the belief that other websites may also be impacted.

If you were impacted Twitter suggests creating a strong password that isn’t utilized across multiple accounts.  The password should be at least 10 characters, with a mixture of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

The story is still developing, but users should be on the look out for the mentioned emails and as a safety precaution update their passwords.

Running a Pinterest Contest: Why Your Rules Shouldn’t Be at the Heart of It

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Before I dive into how you should run a Pinterest contest, I should probably disclose to you upfront that I have never personally aided in, or ran a Pinterest contest.  That being said, I am one of only a few avid male Pinterest users (look me up here), so I write this not only as an internet marketer, but as a regular Pinterest user.

Pinterest, like so many social networks before it is forcing marketers and businesses alike to really scratch their heads and recognize how to best utilize the platform.  Like Facebook and networks before it, one of the first means of spreading brand awareness on the network seems to be the use of contests.  But if you’re going to run a Pinterest contest in a way that best serves the community, you need to do it in a way that won’t disrupt the community.  So if you’re thinking of running a Pinterest contest, consider the following:

Don’t Use a Contest Image

While I understand that companies want to get their promotional contest in front of as many eyes as possible, an image chock full of your contest rules isn’t doing much to serve the community.  I can’t tell you how many pinterest contest rules have popped up in my following feed and have annoyed the hell out of me.  In my opinion it’s almost as annoying as the spam pins telling me how I can lose weight with some magical weight loss program used by the celebrity pinned.

Below is an example from a Cost Plus World Market contest from a few months back and as you can see, a specific rule is to pin the rules.

Cost Plus World Market Pinterest Contest Image

Instead of pinning an image of the rules, why not integrate a rule to include a specific description explaining the contest and link in the board description or in the pin descriptions.  At least this allows you to promote the contest without intruding on the community.

Utilize Contest Specific Boards

Contest specific boards are going to make it easier for you to track your participants, and even easier for participants to make sure that whatever pin collection you are having them create is themed and easily accessible for themselves and their followers.  It also ensures that whatever it is you are trying to promote will be found in a single collection as opposed to spread out across a sea of Pinterest boards.  In the example below from Walmart Green, they may break the first rule of Pinterest contest club they do at least make users utilize a specific board for the contest.  This not only helps categorize the pins, but also alerts their followers that they are participating in a contest, which is a means of promotion in and of itself.

Walmart Green Pin to Win Contest

Make use of Hashtags

Another positive from the Walmart Green Pinterest contest is the use of the hashtag.  Like on other social networks hashtags help to group items together and are clickable in a description and will provide search results for all listings with the hashtag.  Again, this not only helps you as a business keep track of who’s participating, but it helps users see other pins within the collection that may interest them.

Encourage Pins of Your Own Content

While this may seem like a no brainer, and a staple of Pinterest contests I would strongly recommend you push users to use your own imagery, or imagery related to the contest to help fuel the board’s pins.  Not only will this help create a long term resource for Pinterest users, but it will also allow for long term traffic opportunities to your website well after the contest is over.  Zillow and Pulte homes recently utilized this as a bonus element to their “I want a new home sweepstakes”.  Entrants could earn up to $5,000 bonus cash for creating a “Dream Home” board using imagery from the Zillow and Pulte websites.

Rules and examples from Zillow's Pinterest contest

However, Pinterest is about inspiration.  It’s origins are rooted in creating a place for people to pin things from across the web that inspire them, or can help them achieve something.  So why not take your contest a step further and encourage users to pin images of how they use your product, or how it helped them.  Sure, you probably have some great professional images of your products, but how much more inspiring will it be if your users can see your product being used as it was inteded.  If applicable, consider having users upload their own imagery of your product in action as contest pins that help inspire other users.

Ultimately Pinterest is still very much in its infancy, so how people use Pinterest and how businesses use Pinterest is sure to evolve, but like any social network the key is to become one with the community.  If you serve your community, the community will serve you, especially if you’re pinning and promotion exceptional content.  If you still haven’t taken the plunge with Pinterest, here are some useful links that might help you get going:



How To Effectively Pin Images from Tumblr Blogs To Pinterest

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012


A play off the Super Mario Bros. Princess is in another castle scene

In my Pinterest Guide for the Every Day User I outlined how to get started on Pinterest with a handful of best practices when it comes to setting up your account and pinning content.  But I am seeing an annoying trend on Pinterest when it comes to pins from the microblogging network Tumblr.  Pinterest and Tumblr seem as though they would be a match made in heaven, however even the best visual content can be hard to engage when pinned incorrectly.

The nature of Tumblr makes it a fruitful source of image content, however pins from tumblr are oftentimes taken from the homepage of the blog, a location that the image will not permanently reside.

When you pin an image from a website onto Pinterest, it collects the URL from the website you collected the image from, however while an image may appear on the homepage of a tumblr blog, it will be pushed down deeper into the site as new posts are created.  Chances are by the time someone repins or clicks through to see the source of your pin, the image will no longer be on the blog’s homepage and they’ll need to click deeper into the blog if they want to find the original post.

Pinning from Tumblr So Your Source Can Be Found

How to pin the Dollhouse Workout from Tumblr to PinterestLet’s pretend for a moment you wanted to pin the Dollhouse Workout from Back On Pointe, because let’s face it, Dollhouse was awesome and so is working out.  Two days ago it was featured on the homepage, however today it now rests on page ten of the blog.  If you want to ensure that a user can access the original content on the source site you need to click on the time it was posted and then pin the image.  This will keep the integrity of the pin’s URL and will make sure that a Pinterest user can visit the source of your pin at a later time without having to search for it.

Depending on the theme of the Tumblr blog this may vary.  Sometimes it will display the actual date instead of how long ago it was posted, other times you will need to click on the image to obtain the original post.  However, the key is to access the page where the image is housed so as not to lead users to a location that may not house the image in the future.  This will be the page that shows the entire post along with the history of likes, reblogs, etc.

So the next time you go and pin something from a tumblr blog (or any source for that matter), do yourself and your followers a favor and make sure to pin it from the source and not pin it from the homepage of the site.  Nobody wants to dig for the content your sharing.