Thursday, October 05, 2017

Quick tip to Increase Instagram Business Followers.

Here's a quick and cunning one. I tried this recently (for a client) and it works a treat.

To increase a following on Instagram you can export a list of customer phone numbers and contact info from your database or CRM (as a custom .CSV file) then import them as contacts into a Gmail account. Then, import those phone numbers and contact info from Gmail into a smartphone and log into your Instagram account. Then, make use of Instagram’s “follow all contacts” feature, which will go looking for any of them on Instagram and then you can select them and follow them.

This would, naturally, need to be done prior to any GDPR legislation taking effect - so do it soon.

Ya can thank me later.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

4 Easy Creative Hacks to Boost Website Click-Through From Social Media.

A common social tactic is to publish on a blog, then publish that in social networks. The basic idea of this is, usually, provide good value content on a topic your audience cares about and they’ll click through to your website, which is invariably your point of contact or point of sale.

Around 60% of the social strategies I write have an end goal of ‘increasing sales via a website’. So before we start make sure your content is of value. Will they care? Is it useful? Is it topical and immediate? Is it new? Who’s it targeted at and at what point in the purchase process? Creating small up-front editorial calendars of upcoming events, special days, product launches, conferences and trade shows with hashtags etc. is fried gold. Having newsworthy content ready for sign off well in advance is where you need to be. Remember, don’t just write for the sake of it – a well-researched paper that’s bang-on for the audience will have a shit-tonne more long tail and get shared and reshared long after those 4, quickly dashed off, keyword-soggy, blog posts regurgitating old ideas.

The best places for editing links to content, from social, are LinkedIn and Facebook. Twitter, obviously, you can write whatever the hell you like. Facebook, in a desperate attempt to stop spammers, ‘fake news’ ™, scammers and click-bait, have (in the last few days) scrapped the ability to edit a link preview (its image, title and text) before we can share. This, I gotta say, makes running Facebook Pages a seriously bloody ugly experience. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, Facebook is allowing ‘some Pages’ and ‘Publishers’ to identify their website domains and so any link from that domain that’s posted to relevant Pages will be editable. If you nip to the ‘Publishing Tools’ tab at the top of the Page (when you’re on desktop devices) you’ll see a ‘Link Ownership’ section, if you’ve been blessed with this functionality by the SM gods. We should all be getting it over time, as Facebook does, but it will be policed.

So anyway, we’ve got our strong/valuable content and our SM platforms. How do we make people click through?

Create strong titles.

There are a few tricks here that I can testify work.

First off, power words.

Yeah, I know that sounds gimmicky but bear with me. The more emotional headlines stimulate click through and (very often) sharing. Yes, there’s a fine line. We are not, after all, the Daily Mail (we’ll, most of us aren’t). Words are cues and triggers. We can, however, try to use words that stimulate emotion in the reader and put some passion in the headline. If we stimulate curiosity, urgency (that FOMO factor), make people question things, feel safe, inspire them, or stir up emotions we have them. If there’s an emotional benefit to the headline there’s a significant increase in click through rate.

Here are some examples of power words:


Time saving

Think about what you’re trying to say, and then stimulate genuine feelings. There’s hundreds more words like this and some will actually come from the brands traits. Just think about it. If your directing middle-aged trans-gender people to an article about skin care on a website for a laser treatment clinic you’ll be engaging the audience with a different set of words and stimulating different desires and emotions than if you're pointing millennial engineering students to an article on coastal erosion on your website about specialist surveyor training. When you’re crafting strategy, list a few and include them in sample messaging (if appropriate).

Use good, and properly sized, images.

In our busy streams of daily social media fluff we need to stand out from the heard, but be on brand while we’re doing it. Keeping a common layout, font, theme, border or style helps - even if it’s just a specific filter used on all images.

Every platform has an optimal image size for links. Use it.

Facebook, for example, uses a few: A normal link on desktop: 470 x 246 pixels. A normal link on mobile: 560 x 292 pixels. A link on right hand side column: 254 x 133 pixels. Desktop ‘carousel’ images on links: 200 x 200 pixels. Mobile ‘carousel’ images on links: 240 x 460 pixels.

LinkedIn uses: A normal link: 1200 x 628 pixels.

Can you take an optimised slice of your Infographic out of the master at this size? Can you add a few words or choose something a bit more epic or cooler than what the embedded link has trawled from the website? Can you show something aspiration or humorous (if suitable)?

Add numbers to titles.

Titles with numbers in them show value and demonstrate knowledge of a topic and/or research. Statistically (no pun intended) they garner greater click through and say – up front – what the reader can expect. They make, if you will, a promise. ‘7 brilliant litter tray hacks for your stay at home kitty’ is a much better title than ‘DIY cat litter tray ideas.’

Answer, or ask, questions.

Asking questions the user is asking is a great way to demonstrate empathy and to be of value.

Some of this comes down to research. What does your audience want to know? A quick search on Quora or Yahoo Answers around your brand's industry can give you a wealth of potential blog topics and headlines. So, simple enough. Give these a try. Remember that emotional hook and dynamic language. Have a good image, created for the link if time permits. Answer the questions the audience is asking. If you have bullet points, give them numbers and flesh them out. Remember your overall brand style and keep it on track – this shouldn’t disrupt the brand persona or existing tone of voice.

If you start seeing click through results or have any more ideas, let me know.

This was originally published over on my LinkedIn profile at

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obligatory Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2017.

For the past 10 years I’ve blogged a prediction about the year to come. Mostly I’ve been right, if sometimes a little too optimistic, so this year I’m gonna calm the hell down and go with what I know f’sure:

Video, especially streaming, is going to be bigger than hip-hop. Get on board or get left behind. Even Twitter released an update this week that’ll let us broadcast live video from its iOS and Android app (presumably powered by Periscope) and have you seen Houseparty (because Generation Z’s on it like Donkey Kong)?

If you’re not streaming Q&As, live events, interviews or product demos then you’re not part of the conversation. Start thinking about this and how you can use it, now. The only obstacles are time (make it), knowledge (that’s what how-to’s on YouTube are for – go crack a book or phone a friend), resources (invest) and budget (find it). Trust me, in 2017 your competition’ll be streaming the b’jesus out of everything, so don’t get left behind.

Fake news is the buzzword right now, but it probably won’t last long becuse the big boys will have to be seen to be doing somethign about it then it'll go away. Once the newspapers (I hear ABC and Associated are getting involved) and the likes of Snopes, and Politifact start selling their data to Facebook it’s pretty much all over for the spammers – though at lot of these stories have their roots in the likes of 4chan and Reddit. Is this censorship? Probably. Did the Russians fix the US election by creating bogus news articles? No idea, but it’s more than possible. The solutions aren't rocket science - hiring human editors, algorithmic checking of reliable sources for citation and crowdsourcing accuracy.

There’s a chargeable product for the newspapers here, if they’re quick. A paragraph of flavour then a pay wall to read content that's guaranteed-accurate. They’re going to have to do something, with a further growing trend away from both print and online banner advertising.

Everyone’s going to need to at least be seen to address fake news, and social channels (not just Facebook) are going to have to start taking more responsibility for what’s published (instead of concentrating on banning pictures of breast feeding mums) to pacify the users (their source of marketing data, in most cases).

Facebook is still gonna be the daddy. With the development of feature rich messaging bots, with more practical and useful applications, expect to see an easy WYSIWHG creator inherent to the platform soon. Streaming is, obviously, gonna be even bigger.

Social media advertising is growing at 20% a year and the Facebook ad platform is going to get the bulk of any business’s ad spend – with it stealing a massive $1 billion out of print advertising budgets for U.S. newspapers in 2016. It’s comfortably estimated that Google and Facebook will take more than 70% of all money spent on display advertising online in the UK by 2020. Watch out for more video advertising, obviously.

Other channels, like Snapchat and Instagram, will still be big for the audiences they attract, and will probably still continue to pirate features off each other and from other channels. Something original will come along, championed by an initially niche audience, but god knows if it'll last longer than a month, what it’ll be, or if it’ll be suitable for business – remember Ello and Pokemon Go? The big boys will probably steal the best functionality out of any new channel and make it obsolete fairly sharpish - we may even see the odd legal case tackling such things.

VR is going to hit the mainstream and hopefully garner more acceptance. I’m a big exponent of VR and run a PSVR rig myself at home. I’ve been active in virtual worlds for over 10 years. Augmented is probably where it’s at, however, and we can expect some heavy investment in this area over the next 12 months. Layering digital over the real world has a billion possibilities; it just needs to sell its value to the public at large. A virtual reality version of Google Earth is now available for free on the HTC Vive, and it’s a thing of beauty, but the general user doesn’t yet have access to the kit (mainly due to price point). When it moves to Android we'll see some serious traction.

The AR market will hopefully hit an inflection point in 2017 and we’ll see more and more uses of VR for event and stunt marketing. Expect to be handed a headset in the street to demonstrate an idea or product, any day now.

Twitter is (and it pains me to say this) becoming less important. Sure, it’s brilliant for news and publishing, but compared to Facebook it’s not where people are going to be spending their marketing dollars. People are losing confidence in the platform and, unless they pull something unique and of value out of their wazoo soon, the audience and the advertisers are going to be a lot more wary in 2017. I’m already starting to think it has less strategic value for some of my clients, which is a shame as I’m a big fan myself.

We can probably pretty much forget about Google+, unless it’s for SEO support.

In recruiting for social managers and agency employees, the polymaths and generalists will start to get some credit. People are going to be looking for younger brand evangelists and those who can generate passionate content, over those with long-term experience in other sectors.

Every year, for the past six years, I’ve said that companies will start to see the genuine return on investment of social media. Honestly, so few have. So, I think social media ROI will still elude many companies and those companies will get further and further behind – sad but true.

So that’s it. I’m keeping it fairly realistic this year. Obviously there’s a lot of other factors going on in 2017, like Trump and Brexit, but they’re probably best left for another time…

All the best for the year to come, here’s wishing you and yours a very social holidays. J

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

How to set a Spotify Sleep Timer on the iPhone.

While setting up my new iPhone - I smashed my last one to pieces recently - I discovered something last night that's so damn cool and useful I'm forced to immediately blog the b'jesus out of it and hail it from the rooftops.

For many moons it's been messing with my OCD that Spotify doesn't have a sleep timer. Audible does. Why not Spotify, probably the most used app on my phone? I've whined about it at length on Twitter and even added to a ticket via Spotify customer services, who sympathised with my plight but nothing's ever come of it. Fiddling with my iPhone last night I hit upon a revelation.

I'm not sure if this is new under iOS 9 updates, but it's new to me. iOS 9 is the newest update to iOS, and launched officially to the public back in September 2015. This is pretty hidden away, but it works - and, more importantly, it doesn't bugger up my alarm clock next morning or (so far) anything else on my phone.

So, have Spotify running with your sleepy bedtime playlist of choice then, from the main iPhone screen, go to the 'Clock' and go to 'Timer'.

Easy enough. Now go to the line that says 'When Timer Ends'. You'll see a load of tone options, but you want the one down at the bottom that says 'Stop Playing'. This seems to shut down the sound on ANY application with an audio component after a specified period. Now just set your desired period of time as normal in the timer and Robert is your mother's brother.

Hidden away, or what!?

That's it. Simple as that.

Ok, you'll have to do this every night, but, SPOTIFY SLEEP TIMER! Once set up the first time it seems to stay set, so you can just ask Siri to set a timer for 20 minutes as your crashing out and it'll do the job.

Tried and tested and now used daily. Go tell it on de mountain.

Oh, by the way, I got a bangin' replacement deal on my crushed iPhone. If you're looking for mobile phone deals then these folks are spacemen amongst monkeys. Cheap as chips at twice the price :)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Your CEO Needs a Completed LinkedIn Profile.

We do a lot of blogging and messaging at TANK for C-suite folks who want to have a presence on LinkedIn. Good on 'em. So they should. Taking part and being in the conversation is a big part of thought leadership and accessibility nowadays. If they're editing the messaging and putting in but don't have the time to write it or to spend faffing about with LinkedIn, we're a good solution.

Some, however, don't see why having a full LinkedIn profile is even a big deal. A paragraph in Summary, Previous Roles, Education, blah. It is and here's why.

Numero uno, they'll appear in LinkedIn search results. If someone searched on their last name and his or her Profile is incomplete i.e on ‘All-Star’ status, all the other CEOSmith's (or whatever) who are would rank higher and push him down the LinkedIn search rankings.

LinkedIn’s search algorithm actually work pretty well, filters by relevance and ranks a search by Connections in Common, Connections by Degree (1st, 2nd then 3rd Degree Connections) and (last but not least) Groups in common etc. All searches done on LinkedIn are bespoke and totally relevant to the individual searcher. Make sense?

Basically, LinkedIn's search algorithm looks for (and displays) results in this order: Profile Completeness (the fuller the better), shared Connections in Common, degrees of separation from Connections (1st Degree, then 2nd, then 3rd, yada, yada), then shared Groups in Common. If they don’t have a 100% complete Profile, their Connections or Groups don’t matter, they won't get seen.

Though the only person who can see Profile Completion (‘All-Star’ etc.) is the person who’s profile it is, the casual observer browsing a Directors Profile will certainly notice if some Sections are missing key information. It makes sense to be an ‘All Star’ to present well to anyone who comes across their Profile - say via the main company Business Page - without actually searching for it. Of course it’s possible the observer may not be ‘casual’ at all, they could be someone looking to connect from the media, a future customer/prospect, a C-suite business connection and unfortunately, we’ll never know how many opportunities we’ve missed because our LinkedIn Profile is incomplete… It’s all about impressions and we want the head honcho to appear as though he or she uses the platform, not that they just have a profile.

If you Google your CEOs name their LinkedIn profile should be number one on the first page of Google’s search results. If not it's because it's not complete and if it's there but not complete it currently clicks through to an obviously incomplete profile - either way that's not good. This is peoples first impression, online, of the head of a company. LinkedIn ranks higher than all other profiles including social networks and websites. If they're being found, but by via empty profile with no information, you're not controlling the message. Google loves LinkedIn when it comes to PageRank.

Extra Tip: Apart from being an ‘All Star’, we can fluff their Google PageRank and keep them there by loving crafting a full Public Profile and selecting ‘Full View’ in the Profile Settings then customising their Public Profile URL to be their actual name (or as close as we can get) - it all helps.

When it comes to LinkedIn SEO don't feel obliged to use all of the available space on their LinkedIn Profile to ‘stuff’ it with keywords thinking they'll rank in LinkedIn and Google searches. It might, a bit, but keyword stuffing makes a Profile look spammy and insincere. Far better to come across as a genuine and credible company representative by effectively telling our story and not gaming the system. A stunningly good LinkedIn Summary lets them put his best foot forward and offers sincerity (which is what we’re trying to achieve) - even the likes of Sir Richard Branson and The Zuck do this.

There are also some great organic ways to improve visibility for a company leader on LinkedIn (without resorting to keyword stuffing): Joining Groups, starting to engage in Discussions, being helpful to those communities. Creating original content and sharing it with connections - we do a lot of this (I'd tell you for who but then I'd have to kill you). We also share daily relevant content for our clients, just like we do on their channels like Twitter - and thank others when they do the same. With our CEOs help - and we do often need access to their opinion - we also Recommend and Endorse their Connections (if appropriate).

Getting our CEO (and our Marketing Dept., Sales Team, or any other sceptics) to understand the importance of a full profile and taking part is important.

Also, looking at a brand Page where the CEO doesn't have a profile picture messes with my personal OCD on a biblical level.

EDIT: Also, check out my post on How to Create a Social Presence for the C-Suite over on Simply Measured.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Back to Yank and Limey Podcasting.

My colonial friend Aliza Sherman (author, speaker and epic digital pioneer) and I have started podcasting again! It's been WAY too long.

Taking a look at digital life, social media, content marketing and working online, we're trying to do one a month. It's been 4 years since we did this and it's good to be chewing the fat with someone as savvy and experienced as her (again) on a regular basis.

Yank and Limey is very kindly supported by the good folks at Tank PR. We're keeping these deliberately short and fast to keep them accessible. Give it a shot if you get the chance. We're not going to run out of things to talk about any time soon.