Epic Fails in Social Media Content Marketing

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There was a time when Content for Social Media Management platforms like Buffer, Hootsuite and even Klout made sense in its hey day but not anymore.

The amount of effort (unpaid) that goes into creating content and then having no eyeballs to appreciate them is a reality we all have to deal with some day. You now have to get on board with all social platforms, be online 24/7 to answer queries and find the time to manage your real business while at it? That’s true too. Forget the hired hand who blogs for you. He won’t do it for free so that in itself is a cost factor.

All social media platforms will give away some freebies but these freebies do not always justify the effort you put into creating content for your followers.

Your efforts are bound to fail if you don’t want to understand that content marketing is like any other advertising or advertorial campaign that is backed up with plenty of ad spend. Here’s why.

Facebook Organic Reach is a Costly affair

Facebook is like the high class hooker from New York. If you don’t have the money then there is no honey. Social Media Management platform gurus will always tell you that you have to decide on your objective and strategy for Facebook but NEVER tell you that you need to budget lots of cash for this effort.

Yes, creating content takes effort. But signing up to a Social Media Management platform is not going to get you the eyeballs you need for branding of conversion success. The platforms cautiously omit telling you this as they want you to take the bait, hook, line and sinker before you realize that your budget isn’t enough for a year long campaign. How much does it cost? Let’s assume you are doing this on your own for a small business, spend probably US$100 a week on promoted post to your followers on Twitter and Facebook. That’s US$400 a month, and let’s throw in that package from Hootsuite, which at the lowest is US$120 a year. That’s about US$5,000 a year, excluding the cost of a hosted site. And this is just for a a small business. Let’s factor in a 3 fold ROI to justify that return on investment. You need to pull in US$15,000 in revenue returns to your small business to spend that sort of cash.

Facebook has zero organic reach. Twitter won’t give you the time of day too if you are not going to pay so signing up for a promoted tweet is a must.

People who start on Facebook do not understand that each post cost them money to show to your followers. These are the same blokes who liked you page in the past but come back to play candy crush with their online pals on Facebook. Do they notice the notifications on their menu? Nope. So the best way to reach them is to force feed a post onto their timeline.

Here is how Facebook wants your moolah.

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Every FB post (unpaid) to your followers will yield roughly 1 percent reach. That means if you have 1000 followers, you post will reach about 10 people per 1000 followers. To get your post on all their timelines, you have to spend money. Lots of it…and this is just to build awareness.

All FB post to your page is best suited for branding and awareness building. It does not help you get more followers. To get more followers, you need to promote your page which is actually a subset of their advertising master plan. You have to advertise either on the timeline or on the sidebar [sidebar advertising isn’t available on mobile platform].

If you are interested in a straight out conversion from your advertising budget, you need to advertise to a regional or country specific audience. This is where you measure ad spend versus return on investment (ROI).

In old world advertising terms, if you spend US$100, you should get at least US$300 return in investment (3 fold ROI). This unfortunately doesn’t quite gel these days in any social media marketing plans if you take into account the money you have to spend on FB or Twitter, and at the same time sign up with a Social Media Marketing Platform [at a cost of over US$120 to US$600 a year depending your requirement]. So once you go down this path, you have to take into consideration the amount of money you have already spent without even going into the advertising details of each social media platform.

Facebook is not responsible for the quality of eyeballs you get on their platform. In the old world advertising, you advertise with a magazine like Tatler or Monocle because the people who read it are…well, are your specific target audience who would buy a whole wine cellar as a hobby. That means these eyeballs command a premium if you advertise with them. FB and Twitter is by no means a quality platform as any Tom, Dick or Harry can start multiple profiles as seen in the Click Farm business. Instead, you are given a choice of location, target age and probably some of their more fanciful hobbies as a potential audience profile.

Getting followers for you blog, Pinterest board, Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter can be done in only two ways. The paid way is to get people to click a link to your content and become a follower. The other is the splatter method.

The splatter method is when you follow people to get them to follow you back. It is like a follow for follow tag currently popular with some folks hoping to break into to the social circles. I call this a splatter method because you have no idea who you are following most of the time, except maybe that they like what you like or live within the same locality as you do. This is not quality advertising for your content as people who have similar interest as you do may not live within a 1000 miles from you. So unless you are running a brand awareness campaign, or offer online shopping, chances are those post will be ignored. But all this takes effort on your end to search and add them.

Videos give you Better Reach on Facebook

Here is another clue. Video is the next big thing on FB. They have even tried to introduce self streaming videos to the annoyance of mobile users.

Posting videos to your FB page will automatically give you a 5 percent reach as compared to a link or text post. So for every 1000 followers, you have a chance to reach 50 of them for free. You want more eyeballs? Sign up for their Premium Video Ads for ROI.

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But before you say it’s a good deal, let me ask you, how much time and effort did you spend on shooting, editing and planning for that short video? Is 50 eyeballs enough to satisfy that need? Go figure and write Santa a note about getting some Facebook credits for next Christmas.

Twitter is no different than Facebook

Yes, unfortunately that is true. You pay for what you get and in the end, you just gotta justify your ad spend. Twitter’s organic reach is hovering at an all time low. It just fails to suck up those eyeballs and convert that into measurable ROI.

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That’s why these folks are betting big on ‘live’ streaming since that is a buzzword they can still use to justify their dollar denominated advertising plan. Vine videos haven’t taken off in a big way except with college kids and people with too much time on their hands. Instagram has video to further add to the basket of eyeballs wanting moving images and finally, there is live video which could be the future for Twitter on Periscope.

Tumblr isn’t for Everyone

The young of heart may be your next target niche but no one told you that Tumblr is still a very American centric social and content discovery platform. You are not going to reach out to that same age group in Japan, Korea or for that matter Vietnam using Tumblr.

Even though Tumblr maybe way better than WordPress.com in some ways but in the end, you still have to pay to get discovered.

Ever since Yahoo bought them out in May of 2013, featured ads has been appearing in user’s content stream. This is both good and bad news.

The good part is that hashtags can still be used a strategy to find your future or potential customers and generate the sort of brand awareness you need to start. However if you want a straight cut ROI on your ad spend. You probably have a better deal signing up with Tumblr to show those ads.

Pinterest is Instagram on Steroids

Let’s face it. Starting a board on Pinterest is a time consuming affair. You can either curate or create content for each board. Who gets to see these boards? Only fellow users who are out to get more pins.

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Since Pinterest is image centric. You can’t help but draw similarities between them and Instagram. Both require User inputs and that’s you I am pointing at.

Both work the same way and since each board is in itself the description of the pins, you can’t help but think that the board itself is a hashtag of sorts to categorize content.

Pinterest also has promoted pins, and with it an advertising plan to suit your target audience. The same can be said of Instagram when they started to introduce promoted content (advertise content) to specific region of users.

There is no such thing as a Free Lunch

I like to call social media campaigns as a Freemium Advertising Gateway as you have to ante up on those dollars to find some sort of success.

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The only free social platform that is devoid of any advertising right now is Google+. That’s because Google has much grander ambitions than to charge you for your post as they have the search engine to back that all up.

Getting a ROI on investment on any social media marketing campaign will cost you money. Don’t think it is cheap as even Americans feel it is far too expensive.

If you can spend the time to crate content but can’t spend the money to promote it, you are doomed. At every level, you cannot think for one moment you are getting a free lunch. That’s why Social media has become a Freemium platform. Once the social media networks hooks you, they hope you get dragged under the water with their advertising masterplan.

Success in any business can only be measured by ROI. How much you aim to get out of it in the end to sustain your business empire is crucial. It’s not just about eyeballs but quality eyeballs. This sad fact, unfortunately, is lost in translation as one grabs onto social media…thinking it was the elusive pot of gold to their online success.

Start with a Web Presence

A web presence is a web site. If you haven’t got the time of day to do one then social media marketing isn’t for you. There are plenty of free hosting sites which can of course establish your de facto web presence. My own recommendation is strikingly.com, which gives you a free web page for your product, company, portfolio in the simplest design terms. It has easy to use templates and you just key in the text and fill in the pictures. I will give you my reasons why this should be the first step towards establishing your own web presence first before any social media marketing can take place, but you already know that having an actual web site speaks volumes about your online dedication. So take the first step. Start your web presence with a site before attempting social media.

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How Twitter turned Nazi on Coke’s Campaign

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When it comes to creating content, the last thing you should do is to use an automated bot. A bot is a term for a robot, which of course is just some dumb waiter in this instance. In the case of Coca Cola, they were on the receiving end of the joke when Gawker themselves started a bot to counter the #MakeItHappy hashtag used by Coke.

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People using this quote will have the chance of getting a lovely ASCII graphic as long as it was tweeted with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. So this was Coke’s way to spread some love and happiness in the time of ISIL and the burning pilot trapped in a cage. The quoted text below sums up the experience.

Coca cola started a new Make It Happy campaign during the SuperBowl TV spots and didn’t know the consequence of using Twitter hashtags. As part of Coke’s ad campaign, it allowed people to reply to tweets with the hashtag #MakeItHappy, which would prompt the @CocaCola account to automatically take that tweet and spit it back out as fun ASCII art.

This basically sums up the use of bots. If you fail to employ a full time human staff to man your content feed, then you’re looking for trouble. In Gawker’s case, they wanted to prove a point that having a Bot manage your content feed is a bad idea. All they had to do was insert lines from Hitler’s infamous book “Mein Kampf” and use the hashtags to lure the Coke Bot to pick it up and this can happen to anyone. The quoted text will appear as a happy ASCII art as seen below.

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Why Content Has to be Managed

You learn the hard way that you have competitors and they are out to destroy you in the most creative way. In the case of Coke, a rival like Pepsi could hire someone to hijack the campaign. Even though any publicity isn’t bad publicity, in this case it gave Coca Cola a boost in the social sphere, things could have turned out far worst for SMBs who do something which can tarnish their long term marketing objective.

Coke pulled the campaign, Gawker laughed so hard and yes. You have to be-careful when using Twitter.

Hashtags have become a way of life in content promotion. You find a unique hashtag and try to own it by using it. The NYPD also had a campaign which backfired. It started a #myNYPD campaign to show how citizen friendly they were and got a slew of citizen photos showing otherwise. Then it was made into a joke which put the NYPD in a very hard spot.

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Twitter for the Rest of Us

Twitter is a two way street. It is sort of like a bulletin board of sorts where people can reach out to you and it works particularly well for brands, celebrities and politicians. If you wanted to reach out to someone directly, he or she may respond to you in Tweets. The whole process then helps you to communicate with entities you do not normally have the chance to. This power to the people scenario is also open to abuse. Twitter is severely limiting to those who can’t sell something in 140 characters. Using a URL embed is the only way but to get people clicking on that URL is also a shot in the dark. Twitter has made it clear that it aims to clamp down on spam and post abuse but so far, they have been slow in responding.

As with all social media platforms, Twitter allows you to shore up your followers with lots of buy-in fake followers, take promotional adverts to promote your content on the platform and use it for content marketing. What they don’t tell you is that organic growth has been spiralling down and is only a tad higher than Facebook’s zero percent organic reach.

The platform has been moving away from its text based roots and is now openly supporting picture post and later, video post as well. Twitter has no choice but to do this as it has to secure the eyeballs instead of letting people exit the platform to view something on YouTube or a third party video host. In the past, they have blamed iOS 8 failures and broken mobile apps that costed them millions of users.

However I am not particularly sold on Twitter is that after experimenting on it, I realise that the ambiguity that is often associated with it is what makes people abuse the platform. For one, it rarely ever reaches out to the masses unless you happen to use a ‘pop’ hashtag. These are the trending hashtags that Twitter tells you about in your dashboard. You have to craft your content to fit the moment instead of relying on your own unique hashtag to take off. Its like riding a popularity wave, once it dies down, you find the next hashtag wave to ride on. It’s a bit like surfing, where you wait for the right wave to ride on. So for example you can add a Tweet to ride on Coke’s  #MakeItHappy trending tag and add #hireMyWhore at Men’s Health Spa.

I have seen Bots that are programmed to work as a spamming tool by inserting bit.ly URLS into a reply to your tweets and then sends you to a spam site upon clicking on it. Thanks to Twitter’s method of restricting your characters, people often are not sure if the given URL is a genuine reply or a spam link.

In the case of Coca Cola, they started this off without much thought and didn’t plan on responding  that someone hijack their campaign, this undermined their online credibility. By having a human process to moderate the replies, spam and abuse can be checked but this is far too costly for a industrial giant that pulls in billions in global revenue every year.

This is where content marketing gets expensive for corporate use. People have to be assigned as moderators while for SMBs, you just have to monitor this on your own time. Imagine if you’re out fishing for the weekend and constantly fighting spam on your hashtag on your mobile. That’s the reality for the rest of us.

How Twitter can Work for You

As a communication channel to your business, it has to be manned 24/7 and this where you tell customers to follow you for updates. You can of course insert marketing or promotional content but often the character limitations will leave your followers guessing. This is why people make use of picture post as a marketing lure. In the case of Coke, the happy ASCII picture was the lure for people to jump onto the hashtag wagon.

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Instead of just tweeting pictures, you should consider using Twitter for the following:-

  • Content updates to your Followers on Social Media.
  • Promotional updates to your site
  • Sharing of curated content using shortened URLS to your followers
  • Feedback and Contact channel for customer/product satisfaction

It makes no sense to acquire users on Twitter unless your targeted audience are also frequent users of the social channel. Such acquisitions are a miss-miss affair. Remember the hashtag rule. If the brand isn’t yours then there is no point pouring money into it in the hope it will go viral.

So before you embark on any content marketing campaign, think about the strategy behind it first and follow through on it. Murphy’s Law is all about consequences on things that can go wrong and for social media, there are heaps.

Social Media through Click Farms

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I don’t really care for likes but for some strange reason, that seems to be the social media metric that everyone uses these days to calculate a ROI on advertising investment. So the more people who like you or follow you, that is suppose to translate to some kind of online credibility, even fame possibly.

Social Media Celebrity-hood

When a celebrity goes social, they have thousands if not millions of followers. Often, these so called social media accounts are professionally crafted by PR spin doctors hired by the celebrity to manage his or her online persona. These Spin doctors have only one goal, that is to gain as many followers as possible for the client as a way to measure their success. No doubt it might be a shallow way to measure your popularity but hey, it’s the age of the Internet.

Since then it has been de rigueur for online entities to follow suit and have as many followers as possible. This created a black hat business for those who just wanted to show off and in time, allowed them to profit from such vanity exercises. Today, it has become a booming business in third world countries such as India and Indonesia which sells followers for as little as US$600 for 1 million likes.

Even today, we talk about Leo Messi having 76 million followers on Facebook, which makes you wonder if any of them were bogus in the first place. Even the US State Department has bought ‘likes’ from Click Farms so why not you?

Daze of the Click Farms

The last couple of months researching this topic has yielded much clues on how they work. You heard of people doing data entry work at home and getting paid for it? Well that’s actually one of the methods. These folks with a computer and internet access will sign up with one of these social media provocateurs who in turn get them to manage hundreds if not thousands of social media profiles on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Instagram.

Each Click Farm may have up to a few hundred real people working for them and in these will control up to a million fake accounts.

The age of Online Celebrity Fame

Though illegal in the eyes of social media platforms, there are some benefits for would be businesses or professionals. Think for a moment about the benefits of showing a potential client your own FB or Twitter accounts with half a millions followers. Would the client accuse you of faking the numbers? Of course not. Then you throw up a low ball by showing your nearest competitor who provides a much smaller number of followers and likes on post and the client will be sold on you.

This low ball technique works. The only way you get discovered is when you stop paying the click farms to like your post and follow you and you’d see 100K followers disappear within a night.

Online fame can be bought. So let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that such marketing technique has karmic consequences. Like any scheming adulteress, your aim is not to get caught in the act and as long as you cover your tracks well, you will never be found out.

Click farming is a US$260 million Industry

Click farms are evolving fast. Today, it might only be clicks through third world countries but tomorrow, these same clicks can be performed via a VPN to show it originating from a developed country. Clicks farms are now targeting all social media platforms as they become magnets for entities seeking online fame. They cost less than what you’d pay FB or Twitter to boost your post and these folks can also be paid to like your post as well…something which FB, Twitter or Instagram can’t do.

Once you have a million likes, you are in the mile high club. Selling yourself as a professional will be so much easier this way. What’s more, click farms can also like your video post on YouTube, click on banner advertisements on your video and earn you money.

Abusing the System

Sometimes you have to ask yourself why social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter don’t do nearly as enough to wipe out the click farm business. Well, they are all part of the eco-system and Facebook knows this only too well. Wiping out these so called fake accounts is going to be difficult because they are active. Even when they can be traced to a single IP address, Facebook just cannot wipe out a chunk of their daily active user base overnight. That would cause a stock market crash. Imagine if Facebook closed down 100 million accounts overnight. You can already see Wall Street junking the stock.

Abusing the social media system will continue. There is no overnight hang over cure. They can periodically close social media accounts that are not active or are seemingly ‘spammy’ but to close an active account from a click farm is to cut one’s nose to spite the face.

Benefits of using Click Farms

This is a tricky issue but first let’s look at the issues rationally.

Building your Online Clout

 The black hat technique to gain huge number of followers is still the only way outsiders measure your fame and popularity, without it, you’re dead in the water. You cannot trust FB alone to do this for you as they have gotten so massively expensive over the years that it would be so much cheaper to pay a click farm to both follow you and like your post. This gives the impression of having a genuine number of followers even though it’s only 10 guys working out of a cyber cafe in Dhaka who happen to be your 10000 followers. Having a large following has its benefits. You look more presentable when approaching brands for endorsement and if you happen to produce good content, freebies will start arriving on your doorstep. This could be the crucial step towards building your online fame and fortune.

Cheaper and more effective than Legal methods

Frankly, you could pay a thousand bucks to Facebook to have people like your page but the results are far from satisfactory. Part of the problem is that once you have a targeted a specific audience profile, FB can never promise you 10,000 likes or followers for a thousand bucks. FB, Twitter or even Instagram can never guarantee that sort of metrics even if you kept throwing money at them. This also means you can’t have the thousands of followers based on a specific amount of money spent, say US$.50 cents per Like. It is these sort of guarantee that a click farm can give you that keeps you going back to them. If you loosen the band for target audiences to like your page, then why bother going legit? It’s far cheaper to hire a Click farm to give you that amount of followers in the shortest amount of time possible than to rely on Facebook ads.

Remember your cost of investment in the two before embarking on a ROI cost evaluation. Click farming is only for building online reputation and has nothing to do with generating quality leads or business leads.

For example, you have 10,000 fake followers on your Page, and with it, you want to gain 100 real followers from a targeted locality or which maybe only 10 will translate into real customers, then you have to do the maths for this to see the cost of it all. Your real gain is based on those 10 customers and not 10,000 Click farmers that are plowing your site. If the means justifies the end then you should continue doing it. However if that doesn’t work. I think it is time you cut your losses and invest that in something else.

Wear your Facebook page like a vanity license plate. It can do wonders to your ego but you still need to milk those dollars from a paying customer. That said, no one said this was going to be cheap.

 

 

Free Mobile Friendly Blog Apps

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There are some statistics thrown about that a businesses that host a blog has a 55% greater reach than one that doesn’t. So this means one thing. You need content baby! Don’t even think of letting a moment slip so for this you gotta be mobile.

I have in the past given you a whole list of stuff you could do for social media marketing but creating engaging blogs or content isn’t easy if you don’t know where to start and for small businesses, this is getting more difficult as we roll along.

Don’t bet on Facebook pages. It is suicidal if your post only reaches out to 4 to 6  percent of your fans thanks to its algorithm limit on business type pages. You gotta pay Zuckerberg and gang to gain a bigger reach. This is money out the window even before you start rejoicing at your wildly charismatic blog post you made in the hope to drawn in those eyeballs.

Let us assume for one moment that you are going to stick to your guns and bit the bullet and create your own content and connect your post with Twitter. Should you want something specific to your locality, you need to hire writers from where you live and not from outside of say….Guam. So if your needs are non-technical, why not do it yourself while you are on the go?

The Best Mobile Blogging Tools

Sadly, there isn’t many around. Mobile blogging tools are created in a linear format, allowing you to easily create a post with pictures or movies on the go but editing and tweaking the features is another thing coming.

Pay your Way to Host

For those with money, there is Squarespace. It cost just under US$200 a year to host a blog and a online boutique to sell your wares. Based on the templates available, it looks to be a more upmarket boutique than an online pizza store. Squarespace recently updated its iOS app to make it more user friendly. It looks fab but the Android version isn’t ready as we speak.

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Pictures are scaled automatically upon uploading for served in appropriate sizes for tablets, smartphones and desktops. There is no restrictions on bandwidth or storage which is nice. Until it makes it to Android, I won’t be reviewing this. There is another, weebly.com, which does a similar deal but it appears to be buggy—they don’t tell you which is a PRO feature and the app won’t post. But let’s focus on those which are free, which I am sure is what attracted you to this site in the first place.

WordPress Mobile App

Value for money. That’s the term for what I would associate with WordPress for now. Over the years, this open sourced platform has come of age and its mobile app is one of the best free apps available now for mobile blogging. You can of course host your own website for less than 100 a year these days with a domain name thrown in for free with a free domain hosted email management account. Going with WordPress.com for the full works cost more. a blog with e-retailing cost US$300 a year. WordPress themes are now based on responsive web design principals, so you don’t have to worry about getting scuffed when surfing from a smartphone.

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The WordPress mobile app rocks. It has everything from posting pictures to video and blogging tools. But I must warn you that e-commerce themes don’t often work that well with WordPress apps. A basic wordpress blog is free to register so if you don’t want to pay to host, WordPress is a good start.

What you can do on your mobile app is amazing.  Go ahead change your theme, view stats of your blog site and even has a Reader option for you to read wordpress blogs that you follow. The app is free and it doesn’t get any cheaper than this. WordPress is available for both iOS and Android.

Blogspot or Blogger App

To be fair, this is not the most responsive blogging platform. It does not have a lot of the bells and whistle themes found on WordPress. However the themes can be customized by a geek and if you are good with code. You can add stuff onto it. Responsive Web Design principals is not on tap for all the themes available on the Internet. You can of course download the Google approved version but at Blogspot, you can upload third party themes. This can present its own problems. For example, third party theme features such as a picture slider is not supported on the mobile app.

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There is no e-commerce engine that comes along with Blogger but you can still link it to a webstore that is hosted outside of blogger. Editing the theme will need some coding skills so you have been warned. Android and iOS mobile apps can be downloaded from their respective stores and is free to use.

The mobile app is good but not great. Blogger isn’t the most advance blogging system on the planet but it does it job without being too complicated. All you can create are linear type blog post to your site. It won’t even allow you to create or edit individual pages. So for this it gets the thumbs down.

Blogger is free with your Gmail or Google account registration. The app does very little in terms of giving you control over your site. There are no statistics, now does it allow you to change themes. All this has to be done from the desktop browser (which you can access if you happen to have a large Tablet). As a mobile blogging app, it does the job but is severely limited.

Tumblr App

In the last 12 months, the smartest buy on the planet has to be Yahoo when they purchased Tumblr for US$1.1 billion. It is very easy to see why Tumblr is the most happening blogging platform on the planet. Besides being the most popular, it is also a content savvy place. Tumblr has a good mobile app, it is literally idiot proof and very slick. This also means that it does all the basic stuff like posting text, photos and videos without much effort. Some of the tricks like stats and fan mail messages are found only on the desktop browser version but for general mobile use, Tumblr is a great app to have.

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You can buy themes on Tumblr that will do almost everything EXCEPT ecommerce. Yup, it sucks but heck, you can’t expecting a dancing bear to drive a car can you? Tumblr excels as a blogging space. It can also be used as a company blogging space, a corporate website, portfolio for artist, etc. The premium themes cost US$50 a pop, well worth it if you are in the market to look different but remember that it depends on your content. If you happen to have an image library to show off, then pick a theme that best demonstrates this. You can register and use your own domain but no email domain support. Tumblr is free to use for everyone.

Tumblr’s own mobile app is easy to use, with all the blogging capabilities of its web browser cousin. Both the Android and iOS app are free. The management tools are not supported, so you need to go back to the desktop version to tweak code. If you have geek like talents, you can even edit the themes you bought to show up Adwords advertisements, but there is no automatic integration for that on the mobile App. Right now the danger is that Tumblr will start to monetize your site. This means even more ads will show up but we have to wait and see if this happens. This might eventually conflict with your need to get advertising in the future.

WTF, Just tell me which is the Best for my Blog?

Sorry but there isn’t one that is perfect. If you think that anyone is going to create a kick ass mobile app well it has to be WordPress. Nothing out there comes close to this. To realize the full power of the WordPress blog platform, you need to have unlimited hosting. This means you can add widgets and extensions with impunity. But a word of warning on those who have not used WordPress, some of these third party extensions are dodgy, and riddled with scam ware. Some pretend to help you do stuff but instead they hijack your site to another URL. These same extensions can be downloaded directly from WordPress themselves and is by no means safe.

Tumblr is probably the most user friendly. It is both a blog reader and a blog client. For me, this gets top marks for ease of use. Blogspot or Blogger on the other hand is spotty, but you can’t ignore Blogger at any one time since it is part of the Google squad. Your search rankings depends on this.

The bulk of the mobile blogging apps available all suffer from platform woes, some support only iOS while others have taken the scenic route in porting the app to Android.  Drupal and Joomla have very weak support for mobile clients  even though they are CMS leaders in their own right.

Mobile blogging is a very important part of the Content Creation sphere. You cannot be at your desktop creating post. Instead, you can do that on the go, at a moments notice when you have time to spare. It might seem like hard work but it’s a fantastic way to engage customers and clients.

 

 

 

The Dark Art of Gaining Followers

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How do you gain followers on Social Media? I mean I need this to show off my site and, how the heck does it work? Do I need to put up a Selfie?

Ever heard of a vanity license plate for a car? Well in the Internet World, gaining busloads of followers does the same thing for you. It is a magnet of sorts to tell people that you have arrived.

That said, social media license plates are really not that difficult to get, at least not legally. Now, gaining followers is not that difficult. There are millions if not thousands of accounts in social media that are positively fake. They exist only for one reason, to be your follower.

Why is it difficult to find Genuine Followers

Social apathy or plain laziness is probably the answer you are looking for and you’re spot on. People who think that the Internet world is full of would be social activist are so wrong footed that it would even be fatal to take up line dancing.

Surfers are often very indolent people. They sit back, give their two cents worth if they really have the time for a comment and flip to the nearest porn or Internet channel for a daily dose of Entertainment.

Content Creation for Baiting Followers

I have said before in my earlier post, you need to create engaging content to win over followers and the content should fall into TWO categories.

  • It has to be useful to the follower. This can be useful bits of information on how to reuse cat litter for garden decoration to ways to tune your car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.
  • Content must be entertaining. Yes, smart, funny, witty stuff are tops…even beautiful naked women or men can be entertaining if you posed correctly.

Once you have this, just rinse and repeat. You are bound to find followers who appreciate your nuggets of wisdom or entertainment.

How Not to gain Followers

The first rule is not to promise people things you can’t deliver. Like a snake oil sales man trying to sell a broken record, do not offer freebies and stuff when you sincerely can’t even get your own paws on.

Nor should you promise them home remedies or DIY tips that don’t work, like how to tune their car into a Porsche for as little as $1.95.

But I need a Vanity License Plate!

If you sincerely must have that busload of followers, you can do this. Buy those followers. A thousand followers on Instagram will cost you roughly US$13. For twitter, it cost only US$40 for 2,000 followers. Now, that sound like a steal but remember that this is temporary. Some stick around for a month, others for a full year. It really depends on the people who run the business.

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Followers are only worth their weight in salt. And that’s might cheap to have if all you need is a vanity license plate. You could buy hundreds of thousands of followers if you could afford it but seriously, who the damn cares if all you sell online are geriatric diapers? Would Barack Obama or Sarah Palin be jealous of you if you did have more followers than they did?

How the HELL did it all disappear?

If you care to check your followers, some are real, some are not. Most of the time, you’d find how the hell did those ‘bought’ followers ended up following you for a brief time and in the process, had unfollowed you as graciously as they followed you. There is a distinction between a fake and a real one based on the fact that one is a living person with that account, the other is a virtual doppelgänger of an online creation.

The fake followers are easy to spot. They have no activity except may one picture posted in the last century. I am pretty sure it is easy to register fake followers by the hundreds or thousands if you care to use a unique username that has yet to be used.

The real followers are a dumb found. How could they sign up to follow you? Well in case you didn’t know. There are sites out there that promise you free followers with one caveat, they get to use your login and password credentials.

You see, some web sites that SELL followers also have a weapon, they call it a ” running train” where people hop on board to get free followers. The onus is on you who join for free. They get to control your Instagram or Twitter password and login. Once they have this, they start messing up the system by using your profile to follow a paying customer and they to follow you back. It works a little bit like incest. You join a big family to have social media copulations.

The sites that charge you money to gain followers are in fact, running a sister or brother site that gains the passwords and logins for free in return for more followers. The sign up server runs automatically with dedicated APIs that run scripts to follow and unfollow people at the opportune time.

This is also why all the free-follow sites ask you for your password and login the moment they join. It’s their way of making money off you while you gain just more followers. Imagine if they had a thousand people sign up every day, and another thousand who buys followers from them, you’d have 1,998 free followers a day.

Worst Kept Secrets ?

To get found out that you are using fake or paid followers is nothing new. Mitt Romney was judged to have done it during his campaign but I seriously don’t really care.

Paid followers do not necessarily translate to your bottom line even if you only sell quality online Eskimo porn. It might give you some credibility at some point but if all you ever post are ugly selfies of yourself, well then, there is going to be trouble later down the line.

In a virtual world, everyone is entitled to mask their real intentions. Creating good content can take too much effort if all you need to boost your public image is a load of would be followers. Buying them seems like a nice option. That, is entirely up to you.

Social Media Marketing for Noobs

It doesn’t take a lot to know that the English speaking world has only a few social media properties which make any sense, or cents if you care to invest your time and money in the hope of a return. Contrary to popular belief, it is not as complicated as it seems though many social media management platforms like to think so.

These can be put in their place with the following infographic. Easy to understand and sans the usual sales talk you hear from Internet Marketeers.

Social-infographic1Social Media marketing, what’s that all about? Good Question.

There are a sizeable number of them that claims to be the be all and end all management tool but I beg to differ. They all allow you to manage your social media connections, and from the chart alone you’d get a good idea on what’s how there in the Anglophone world.

Even though Facebook is localised to suit many non-English countries, there exist a huge community of social media platforms that is out of bounds of this chart. For example in Japan and China, Facebook is a non-connector. And those two countries make up the first and third largest online consumers in the world by revenue generated online. They consume everything from games, online content to e-commerce to downloadable porn.

What’s more, Japan has it’s own social network that are targeted at their own native market. Facebook to them is just an afterthought. Then you have China, where Facebook is…banned.

Internet Marketing for Social Media

Almost all Social Media Management sites casually forget to mention that you need to have engaging and useful content on hand before you start any Internet marketing. WTF? You mean I can’t pose a selfie to get the ball rolling? Not unless you’re an up and coming porn star.

Making awesome content takes talent, but none of the Internet Marketing agencies will tell you this upfront. You could of course do it on your own by using one of the many social media marketing tools. Just look up Buffer, Hootsuite, Oktopost, Zoniz or marketmesuite, all of them want your money at some point so be forewarned.

These social media marketing and management tools are aimed at different consumers but somehow, when you look at them closely, they all seem to offer a cookie cutter type social media marketing solution. They give you the freedom to schedule post, manage your Facebook Page and get all the statistics associated with it but none of them tell you how to make awesome content for your social media feed. They all assume you already know how to create awesome content in the first place. However there is a way out, you can always curate your content from various other sources. This is by far the cheapest option if you don’t mind sitting around the whole day looking for stuff on the Web or Internet. It is a very labor intensive workout so remember to make a big pot of coffee before you start.

Checklist for Content Development

To make things easier for you. Just consider the following:-

  • Can you write decent copy in English? And by this I don’t mean ‘SMS text’  with emoticons.
  • Can you take a decent photo that people will often admire? And I am not referring to pictures of food or selfies you post daily on Instagram.
  • Can you stage and capture a decent video clip for sharing? By this I don’t mean those borderline porn clips you share with your girlfriend or boyfriend on Snapchat.

If you happen to answer ‘no’ to all of these, please get help coz you are gonna need it. How much you are willing to spend depends on you. There are cheap and super cheap content developers. I hear that a 15 second Bollywood video production cost you only $1.95, so if that’s your budget, go for it. But be forewarned, you get what you paid for.

The Low Down on Social Media Marketing

The start and end point for all your awesome content is always the same. You want to bait as much traffic as you can. This is the basis of all Internet Marketing strategies.

content strategy.001

Once you have your content settled, then it’s time to hit the social media circle. Post, cross-post and cross link all your content with the various social media networks. Which to choose? I leave it to you.

I have designed the simplest diagram I can think of for Noobs. There is a more complex one that I will share on a later date. So get cracking on those awesome content!

How to Maximize on User Generated Content

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I want Content and I don’t want to generate it, what should I do? Can I have a legion of followers? What does it take to get people to generate that Internet buzz for me?

Let’s be clear on one thing, not all businesses will benefit from such an exercise. If you run a service, chances are people are not going to generate content on your behalf so the first thing to know about this elusive and sometimes confusing art of creating user generated content (UGC) is that it is more pertinent to retail type operations.

For SEO, user generated content is crucial for you to climb the ranks. Pictures, location addresses, GPS information, reviews, blogs all work in tandem to push your page rank up. As long as something related to you is featured under a different domain, it will count towards your popularity.

Whoring up to UGC?

Technically, UGC is a loose term that applies to any content that are generated by strangers or fans for you. It could be a fan page, or a posting of themselves spending time at a business establishment. Customers will post pictures of your products to Facebook, Instagram, G+, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquares, Pinterest, etc and this will in turn allow you to be found by total strangers who may just be looking for something of that ilk. This means you gotta be interesting, or having interesting products.

What Businesses can benefit from UGC?

Food businesses, product retail and any sort of produce whoring will qualify for UGC. Retail business that offer unique products, food and beverage, events like a customary strip show.

They key here is that your retail business needs to have content to generate web traffic on a large scale by allowing potential buyers to interact with the sold products. Yes, it is a bit like letting strangers get intimate with your personal belongings.

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How to Pimp Your Business

A large number of businesses are not UCG friendly or do not pay enough attention to it for content creation. Too lazy? Too busy? Don’t worry. There are a number of rules for UGC and here is a list.


1. Allow Photography on your Property

Yes, you heard me. Photos speak volumes and if you don’t allow people to snap photos, what good is UGC going to be when people do not get to see what you have. Checking into Foursquares of Google Places is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle. No pictures rules just plain suxs. Unless your main clientele is made up of blind people who have no apparent appreciation for your decor, you’re going to be left out in the cold.

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Many businesses do not like any sort of photography to be done without their consent but this is a mistake. They have this overbearing fear that what they rivals will seize upon this opportunity to copy and destroy what you created. Such fears will only dampen your belief in UGC. Getting more business is all about generating commercial traffic and not about protecting image rights. Your first goal is ensure people generate content to encourage commercial traffic as your survival depends on it.

Those in the Food and beverage industry such as cafes, themed restaurants and even food truck businesses will benefit immensely from user generated content. Once UGC goes viral, you can be assured that people will come to experience it for themselves on what they have seen or read about on social media.

2. Create a new Customers Experience

Your property should be decorated or designed to please the eyes. Colors and the right interior design will help you to win new clients when they see the UGC generated on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Any business can create a pleasing or colorful atmosphere with the right lighting and color choices. Got a giant statue of Venus or a life size Action figure? That’s the first thing customers zoom into. Make sure you get the right lighting as that matters too.

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3. Set-up a Free to Use WIFI Hotspot

One of the most overlooked of UGC is the provision for free wifi for users to surf. Why? Because mobile data is expensive! Foreign visitors, day trippers from across the border and low bandwidth data subscribers will not post stuff onto Faeebook or Instragram unless there was a way of doing it for free.

There are ways to protect your business wifi hotspot with the right software. You can read some of it here, but I am not going into detail on how to set up a wifi hotspot for your business as not all wifi routers are made the same way. Setting one up can be both a complicated or easy affair depending on the router manufacturer who gives a damn about making it user friendly.

Day trippers, holiday makers, tourist and foreign visitors who do not speak your language would like to express themselves with pictures and not all of them will have easy access to data connections. By providing the means for them to connect to their social sites, you are giving them a chance to write about you and this is what UGC is all about.

4. Create Location Check-ins for all Social Media

Location sharing is all about putting your business on the map and this can be done via Foursquares, Google Places, Facebook or any service that offers up a point of interest (POI) for mapping. By creating the check-in location yourself, you are making it easy for customers to use that GPS location to share with their friends. You’d be surprise how many businesses are not listed on Facebook or Google Places to make it easier for people to find you and share your location.

foursquare

Don’t let users create any ambiguous location check-in. This is detrimental to your business especially when the GPS data is wrong. It could be a block away from your actual location but it’s not their fault for doing this but you should be on hand to prevent this by creating the location check-in  yourself.

5. Engage your Customers with Events

Every event that your customers take part in will generate content. Often business owners think that it takes too much time to organize one but you forget that people need to be excited and to stoke that excitement you need to engage them with simple and meaningful events.

For example, if you happen to be in the F&B business, you can always organize an event for wine tasting, food tasting or even a food presentation lesson. Product distributors are always on a look out for means to host a roadshow and what you need to know is to find a way to connect your business through them at your property. What you need to do is to ante up on the organization skills provide the part-time labor to run the event and you’re done.

By tapping on the social honey pots who love generating followers for your social media profile, you get to promote your business through social media networks without doing any lifting.

UCG with Bloggers

Bloggers are the unsung heroes of UGC. They generate ad target traffic by providing content and search engines know that. So if you happen to have a whole army of bloggers who update regularly and writes about you, then you’re going to be a star on the search engine rankings.

In the old days, it was magazines and news reporters who gave their spiel and helped to promote you to the public at large. Today, the powers of social media hold sway.

Bloggers need content so it is a two way street. By cultivating them, you are helping yourself. Don’t just rely on one blogger. You need a whole team of them and the best way to evaluate them is to find out what domain and blogging platform they work on. Some work for free, others work for beer money. Once you have several different postings from bloggers, it will boost your chances of being found not only by customers, but it will also boost your search engine ranking.