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Posts tagged ‘Social Media’

On The Fappening, Kate Upton, ethics and all that

You may have heard about “The Fappening” recently. It’s also been called “Celeb-Gate,” and essentially it refers to the hacking of various celebrities and nude photos / sexualized images being displayed of them. The two biggest names are probably Jennifer Lawrence — there might not be a bigger name than her right now — and Kate Upton, although dozens of others have been afflicted. A lot of it began on 4Chan, but Reddit has been a source of information for a good deal of people as well. There are a couple of ways this could have happened — it could be an iCloud hack, or it could be a trading ring that’s existed for years. No one completely knows. The FBI is involved now, though.

A couple of thoughts: Read more

Facebook eliminating clickbait headlines is a purely business move

You may have heard about Facebook’s attempts to eliminate / remove ‘click bait,’ or, essentially, articles that kind of tease you into clicking on them — bait you, in other words — with a controversial or attention-seeking headline or photo, then fail to deliver on the promise. In essence, it’s a situation where the entry point to an article — the photo associated with it, the headline, the description — way oversells what you’ll actually get when you get there. Google has been making moves to eliminate click-bait — and to reduce other SEO gaming techniques — for years, and now Facebook — Google’s pre-eminent rival, in some ways — is on the same train.

The thing you need to remember here, though, is that Facebook is now (has been for a while) a publicly-traded company and, as such, most of its decisions need to be business-facing.

This is another example. Read more

For higher landing page conversion rates, try a survey

I’ve been thinking a little bit more about landing pages and conversion rates recently; I do it in my own job, and some freelance efforts, but it’s also just something I’m interested in. I watched an entire video this morning meant for people new to Google AdWords, for example. I wanted to see what strategies they propose for getting people to your destination page via their system. It was 34 minutes, and I ripped through the entire thing over coffee. Maybe I’m a nerd.

I just came across this post on Hubspot’s blog; it’s about what types of channels lead to the best landing page conversion rates. Here’s the central chart associated with the post:

Landing Page By Channel

As you can see, these elements will land you above the benchmark conversion rate:

  • Post survey
  • Third-party loyalty app
  • IMAX Ad
  • Facebook Boost Post
  • Website
  • Print
  • E-Mail
  • Business Card

Everything else is at, or significantly below, the benchmark level.

“Post survey” is actually far and away the winner, which makes sense from a psychological standpoint — if you’re already filling out 5-10 questions about your opinions or beliefs or context around a product, you’re probably already interested enough that you don’t mind giving your e-mail or phone number or whatever exactly it takes to get the final aspect (the giveaway), or maybe you just do it at the end of the survey regardless. You’re a more active participant / seeker of information in this process, which is what marketers love — people a little bit closer to the “sales” portion of “the funnel” (FYI: “the funnel” as you know it is probably dead).

Look at some of the things below the benchmark conversion rate:

  • Facebook Ads
  • AdWords
  • Mobile Ads
  • Banner Ads

See a pattern there? Lots of ads. Ads are not necessarily “active” experiences — rather, they appear as you’re searching for something else actively. They’re almost an impediment to your active interest in a process. And yet, advertising is a huge industry. Go figure. 

That’s not to say that AdWords is a bad thing — you can still argue it’s the most important advertising and marketing program in the course of human history – but it’s just to say that trying to get someone when they’re already active will be more effective for conversions than trying to encourage them to be active (which is what ads essentially do).

Couple of other thoughts:

1. “Website” ranks high; Hubspot notes, and probably correctly, that that’s because people now realize they can get tangible business info on a website. If that’s true, then re-strategize around LinkedIn. It’s very important as a driver of traffic to your homepage.

2. Facebook organic reach is declining — FB posts and shares were below the benchmark level — and ads are also below. On there, the best way to engage seems to be the “Boost Post” option, which is basically like re-upping a post in News Feeds for a certain price.

3. Interesting that even as digital has created its own culture and marketers and all that, some of the highly-converting areas were “print” (traditional) and “business card” (very traditional). E-mail, in a way, is also traditional — although there’s a lot of digital strategy around that space now too.

4. E-mail… good goddamn.

Brief thought exercise: can ‘Big Data’ ever mean big money?

“Big data” has been a term of note for a few years now — maybe going on a half-decade. Companies seem to love the idea of it, even though the C-Suite doesn’t completely understand it and schools aren’t necessarily teaching it. But just like another thing that corporations seemingly loved a few years ago — that being social media — the question now becomes: can you actually make money off Big Data?

Seemingly, you should be able to — after all, the underlying principle of “Big Data” is that you can accumulate information about your customers and potential customers in terms of what they actually want/need/are looking for, and then you can shape your strategy around that. There’s a big “way-we’ve-always-done-things” leap there in the sense of, a lot of people will still be more comfortable relying on their gut as opposed to data. Think about this: retail legends like Ron Johnson have gone on record saying that “Big Data” is a little bit overrated.

Here’s another voice in that chorus — former Google employee David Auerbach, now writing for Slate, notes this:

Why the trough? Because big data has yet to yield big money. For all the hype about the quantified self, the Internet of things, and data science, big data has yet to yield a true killer app. Google Flu Trends is a fascinating idea, but extrapolating flu incidents from Google searches on flu keywords has not produced reliable results. The New York Times recently published a piece by Sendhil Mullainathan wondering if search queries for “slow iPhone” might imply that Apple is intentionally slowing down older iPhones as new ones are released, but he concluded merely that big data doesn’t tell us enough to know for sure.

This is an interesting thing to think about: social really hasn’t been successful for many (some have done better than others) as a revenue generator. That’s going to change its perception in the next 5-10 years. It could become perceived as more of a niche PR / marketing channel if companies continue to struggle to tie it directly to revenue. Now you have to wonder: could the same thing happen to “Big Data?” Could it become more of an internally-focused element (that organizations use to track and monitor their own people) and less of a consumer-facing / consumer-acquisition strategy if it continues to not be linked directly to money in the bottom-line sense?

As with anything, some companies are doing it well. Check out Caesar’s Palace in Vegas and their use of analytics:

At Caesars Entertainment Corp.CZR -4.31%, the goal is to keep customers from leaving the gaming table and keep them spending money. Over 10 years, the company has developed real-time analytics software that helps it identify when customers are at a tipping point – what Ruben Sigala, the company’s chief analytics officer, calls “persuadable moments.”

Mr. Sigala says Caesars can now track 80% of gaming activity back to a specific customer – compared with 30% to 40% several years ago. “We’ve been at this for over a decade,” he says. This improvement means Caesars’ employees can reach out to customers having a poor run of luck at the blackjack table and offer them a meal or tickets to a show for the same night. “We can engage them in a way that goes beyond that one unlucky experience and remind them of the broader value proposition” of sticking around, he says.

Again, maybe not directly tied to revenue, but getting closer.

What do you think: could Big Data become a fad if its ties to bottom-line effectiveness can’t be proven directly?

This headline might be 22% more effective than yours

Quickly, from the Buffer blog: back in late May, they ran two variants of the same headline on their blog.

Here’s Headline A: “The Simple Test That Increased Our Referrals.”

Here’s Headline B: “The Simple Test That Increased Our Referrals By 30%.”

You’d probably guess that the data-backed headline would get more clicks, but get this, digits-wise:

Research Headlines

That’s about 40 percent higher on the data-backed side; ties in pretty deeply with elements of what makes a good blog post overall.

There’s another idea here: as content marketing explodes and there’s content everywhere, could it be possible that the true and new focus should be on content editing – that is, making sure what gets to the end user, in terms of presentation and clarity and headline optimization and even SEO, is ideal? Anyone can put out content. Not everyone can put out great content. And the difference between “putting it out” and “great” is, in a word, vetting.

If you learn nothing else here, though, learn this: if you want to write a headline and get a bunch more click-throughs on it, put some research or data context behind it (but be truthful, ya slack-jawed yokel!). People will be more interested. You can test it yourself, ideally.

Here’s two great, very simple pieces of sales advice

I like the Buffer blog a lot. It’s consistently pretty well-researched and well-intentioned (hence actionable), and this goes for Kevan Lee’s posts (one of the main authors) as well as a lot of their guest posts. (If you have no idea what Buffer is, read this.)

Here’s a good guest post from Sam Parr (and here’s his Twitter if you don’t know who he is) and while I’d read the entire thing — it’s long, but relevant and interesting — there are two really small, really simple, almost-buried aspects of advice in there about sales.


Before I ever talk to a potential customer I read/watch everything about them so I know their wants and personality. If you’re trying to make a sale, make sure to comment about something very specific and meaningful to that person so they know you’re sincere.

This research isn’t hard to do, it just takes time. Google the person you’re contacting and read everything from pages 1 to 5 on Google. Yes, some may think it’s strange to tell Rick how much I know about him, but in doing so I’m showing that I genuinely like him and his story, and how much I want him to speak at my event. Basically, I want him to know that this isn’t a cut-and-pasted email but something meaningful.


90% of cold emails, calls, or gifts are completely thoughtless and bland. You’ll really stand out from the crowd if you just take 10 or 20 minutes and stalk your recipient. Find out what they like, want, and how they think.

You’ll see a lot of posts on LinkedIn about how “… the most dangerous words in business are we’ve always done it that way.” That’s true. The same goes for sales, selling, up-selling, whatever you want to call it. Everything is ultimately a sale. Everything. And everyone is super busy, or believes themselves to be super busy. Everyone. And everyone gets a ton of e-mail. No one is exempt from that. So you need to stand out.

And how do you cut through clutter? You form a relationship.

And how do you form a relationship from a cold start? You show interest.

People will respond to interest and shared connection about 1,000x faster than they’ll respond to anything else.

Brief story: this spring I was working for Teach for America on conference planning. I was down in Memphis for a conference. I saw a three year old child run into the hotel bar squealing with delight, then I saw a down-trodden man chase after him, scoop him up, and exit the bar. 15 minutes later, said man came to the bar, sat next to me, and ordered a double Scotch. Four of those later, he was quite talkative. He did sales for a Minnesota company but lived in Mississippi, so he explained to me the difference between “the Midwest/North” and “the South.” According to him, the South invests in relationships – he won’t even mention the sale until the fifth meeting, by which point he’s had dinner, drinks, played golf, etc, etc. In the North, he explained to me, “it’s all about the fucking sale from the jump. I hate that.”

This dude was drunk and I’m not entirely sure about the welfare of his small child, but he had one kernel of a point therein: everything is all about the relationship. Why would someone who’s busy want to stop down on the other things they’re doing and make time for you?

It has to come back to establishing a connection.

That’s all — fairly simple but wanted to share.


Brief thought exercise: does it really matter how many Twitter followers you have?

I used to work with this kid back in the day; almost three or four times a workday, he would tell someone (or speak to himself out loud, which I would classify as awkward but I do too) how many Twitter followers he had. This is awkward. This was in the early days of Twitter, where people had a vague sense that it was important — it had something to do with Obama winning in 2008, right? — but weren’t really sure what they should be saying there.

Now, I’ll admit: when I started this blog I had a little less than 200 followers. I’ve been doing it for about nine months now, and I have about 730 followers or so. Content is king! I digress. Point is: I do look some days and say, “Whoa, I have three less than yesterday… that’s cold,” or “Nice, six more! I’m on fire!” But then I started thinking about it a little more: isn’t it all kind of meaningless? I mean, especially on Twitter, who cares if you have 20 followers or 20,000 followers? Tons of “viral” things originate with people who had 50 followers and it just keeps getting re-tweeted and shared on other platforms.

Do followers really matter, or is it just a complicated exercise in vanity?

Different approaches to this question all over, but most argue that the actual number in the count doesn’t really matter; there’s context to it around the clout (or “Klout”) of who follows you as well. Here’s one of the better, more research-laden ways to look at it:

But does your number of followers actually matter? A new paper out of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany finds that Twitter follower counts are a poor indicator of influence. Interestingly, the research, which was led by a post-doctoral researcher at the institute by the name of Meeyoung Cha, found two quite different forms of engagement on Twitter. First, retweet influence — when a user’s content is likely to be passed along — and second, mention influence — in which users engage one another in conversation by mentioning each other by Twitter handle.

Cha’s study, for which Twitter administrators contributed data, looked at the relative influence of the 6 million active Twitter users it counted within 52 million active accounts circa August 2009. First of all, retweets are about content; 92 percent of them contained a URL. Influential content aggregators include technology-specific sites like Techmeme, but the study also indicated that sources like the New York Times have widespread influence, and are retweeted on a variety of topics. However, it’s possible for relatively unknown users to gain influence and rise from obscurity by focusing on a single topic.

Of course, having “real” followers does matter — as opposed to spam accounts. That all makes it stunning that stuff like this exists:

Finally — or not finally in the grand scheme of the issue, but finally in terms of this little post — there’s the issue of “who follows you,” with an emphasis on who. This is basically how Klout works. If you have 10K followers and they’re all spam accounts save 2 people, that’s ludicrous — and talking up the 10K means nothing. But if you have 700 followers and there’s 240 thought leaders on there, that’s something. It’s not as impressive to say “700” as opposed to saying “10,000” — and half the battle with metrics is knowing what to say that sounds impressive to the right people — but 240 people who themselves have clout in the space you’re trying to cultivate is a great jumping-off point for you in terms of whatever message/end game you’re putting forth.

I just did a Klout score, by the way — had never done one before writing this post — and it looks like I’m slightly above average (which is how I’d define myself in the real world! Just kidding; I’m trying to learn to love myself) with a score of 46.

Point is: bigger is always going to be seen as better, especially in American business — it’s the same way we think about sex sometimes, or think about page views as opposed to the website in question doing what it should do (i.e. conversions) — so there’s an uphill battle around discouraging people from discussing / analyzing their Twitter followers. In reality, though, it doesn’t matter. The who might matter — not sheer numbers, but quality of contact — but what really matters is the content and ideas you put forth.

Hey, I’m still working on that part.



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