Ask Azure: Should I link to my email newsletter signup form in more than one place?

QuestionOne of my friends – who is a marketer for a small business – recently asked me this question:

Q: When people request a free sample or download our manual, there’s a link on those pages to sign up for our newsletter. I was thinking of adding the link to the automatic email they receive after they fill out the form for the sample or manual. Is that too much?

A: The short answer is no.

And here’s a long answer and explanation to back that up. When I switched careers from journalism to higher education PR/social media marketing about a decade ago (oh man, I’m old), I had a tough time with content reuse and using the same links on multiple web pages. “Won’t people get sick of seeing the same thing all over the place?” I thought.

But here’s the thing: People don’t pay attention. They’re not seeing the same thing over and over again. Why?

  • People don’t enter your website through the same place and take the path that you use or laid out for them to discover information. Maybe you have a link to your newsletter on your homepage (which you should have anyway!). But what if your most popular page is your events calendar? What if people find your blog first when they do a Google search? You never know how, when or what page people first enter your website. So if there are important resources or actions you want people to take, make that part of your template for every page.
  • Your audience is not the same group of people across your platforms. Your website visitors, blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and Pinterest board followers might have some overlap, but all of those people are not going from channel to channel to follow your every move. Some might not know you have a presence in other places. Or they might forget to check! That happens to me all the time. I’ve been a fan of HGTV on Facebook forever, but did not even think about following them on Twitter until I saw one of their commercials that featured fan tweets. And right after I typed that sentence, I realized that I was not following the HGTV Pinterest boards either. Done! My point:  If you’re posting to one network more than others, the people on your other channels who aren’t following you there might miss it. And – for those of us who are following you on other channels – we’re all getting flooded with content, so even if we are following you on Facebook, we might miss a post there, but could see it in your newsletter or on Twitter instead.
  • No one is going to notice but you. Who knows every link, every photo, every bit of content on your website, blog, email newsletters, autoresponder emails, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+? You, your boss, and anyone else who works on marketing for your business. Everyone else is coming and going quickly, and bouncing along to the next thing. You are the only one scrutinizing your Facebook page for hours and hours. Reusing links and content is going to only look repetitive to you because you’re the only one seeing it everywhere.

Got a question? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to ask in the comments or send it to askazurecollier@gmail.com.

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How one small business creates great Facebook content

Anyone who uses Facebook for social media marketing is looking for that magic bullet of content: What can I post that will get my fans talking, make them loyal, and spread the word about my business?

One of my favorite local small businesses has figured it out. Modern Edge Art Bar is a studio in my area that offers BYOB painting classes, jewelry classes, birthday parties, and kids classes. I have taken 3 of the BYOB classes, and was thrilled as a non-artist that I could have so much fun with my friends and walk out with a painting I am proud to hang up at home.

When I first heard of Modern Edge last summer, and liked their page, they had a few hundred fans. Since then, they’ve grown to 1,200 fans and have expanded their business – last month they moved to a larger space, increased their staff, and added more classes.

I think that word of mouth had a lot to do with Modern Edge’s growth, and they’re getting great word of mouth through Facebook because of the engaging content they share. Here are 5 ways Modern Edge creates great Facebook content

1. They strike the right tone

Modern Edge doesn’t post bland text updates about products or services. They share information about their business in a friendly, helpful way. This post is about a possible painting for a future BYOB class – it got 33 comments and 133 likes.

Modern Edge Painting

2. Photos, photos, photos

There is no mystery about what happens in a Modern Edge art class. They post photos of what project the class will work on. They post during a class. They post photos of happy artists with finished projects. This is the cover photo they posted after a class I attended with my friends.

Modern Edge Cover Photo

3. Call to action/get people to share

Want to drive traffic to your products or services? Modern Edge has this down: tell people how many seats are left. Or ask your fans to share on Facebook for a chance to win a free class. This post got 47 comments:

Modern Edge Giveaway

4. They ask for their customers’ opinions

Modern Edge instructors are trained and skilled art teachers. But you can’t fill your classes if no one wants to learn what you’re teaching. They keep their classes fresh by asking their fans what they want.

Modern Edge Facebook Poll5. They’re not all business

This Bob Ross meme is spot-on. It’s about art and it’s entertaining to fans, which is why it got 53 shares.

Modern Edge Bob Ross

Need more help with Facebook marketing? Check out my other posts about Facebook!

3 tools that will help you measure and optimize your Instagram engagement

Instagram isn’t the largest social network in terms of users (13% of Internet users have accounts) or businesses using it for social media marketing, but you can make a big impact with the content you’re creating there.

There are 3 reasons for this:

  1. You can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, and a few other sites through Instagram’s settings.
  2. People love visual content. If you share your Instagram photos to Facebook, they will receive between 120-180% more engagement than just a text-based post.
  3. You now have access to a lot of 3rd party tools that can measure engagement with your Instagram content – and show you some other nifty stats about your activity.

I’ve done a little digging recently, and thought I’d share some tools I found to help you get the most out of your Instagramming.

Statigram

I’ve mentioned Statigram before – as a tool you can use to create a Facebook profile photo from your Instagram shotsbut Statigram also has great statistics for your account.

Statigram Optimization

When you click on the Statistics tab, it will give you:

  • An overview of your total photos, likes, comments, followers. The overview also shows scores for your love rate (how much your followers like your photos), talk rate (how many followers comment on your photos), and spread rate (engagement from non-follows). Judging by those scores, I have a lot of work to do on my Instagram account!
  • A rolling month analysis – and this is exactly a month from when you’re currently accessing your stats. You’ll see the amount of content you posted during that period, engagement in likes and comments, and follower growth.
  • Content analysis from your first Instagram post, including total photos per month, a month by month and week by week comparison, which day of the week and hour you post the most, filter usage, tags, and geolocation.
  • Engagement statistics, such as the percentage of likes from followers and nonfollowers, likes compared to growth history, most liked photos, percentage of comments, comments compared to growth history, and most commented photos.
  • Optimization of your frequency and filters, and how they impact engagement. I think this is the most useful set of statistics. There’s a great chart that shows your current posting habits for days of the week and times, compared to when your followers interact with your photos. The places those intersect are your optimal posting date and time. You’ll also see a chart that shows the lifespan of engagement with a photo – how quickly people comment after you post a photo. There’s a graph that shows the filters you used, compared to comments and likes. It looks at your tags as well – what tags you use compared to the most popular tags.
  • Community statistics on your followers – who you’re not following back, who’s not following you back, and who are you following that follows you back – and your follower growth.

SimplyMeasured

SimplyMeasured’s free reports give you a look at multiple social networks, including Instagram. The best part about the Instagram report is the engagement activity. If you’re sharing to Facebook and Twitter from Instagram, SimplyMeasured will show you which channel is getting the most engagement for your images.

Simply Measured Engagement

In my case, Instagram ranked the highest, followed by Facebook and Twitter. Since I share photos mostly on Instagram, sometimes on Facebook, and rarely on Twitter, that makes sense. If I shared every photo on all networks, this report would give me a better idea of – all sharing being equal – what channel would give me the most engagement as far as Instagram photos.

SimplyMeasured also analyzes engagement among your Instagram activity – likes and comments per photo. And it shows engagement via Twitter and Facebook – tweets per photo, and Facebook likes, comments, and shares per photo. It shows your top photos for the last month, a keyword analysis – comments per keyword, and determines your best time and day for engagement. Not what I expected at all; it turns out my best time is 4-5 pm, and my best day is Friday.

Twtrland

A tool called Twtrland might throw you off – we’re talking about Instagram here. But in addition to Twitter analytics, Twtrland gives you stats for your Instagram profile:

  • Your follower count, and what percentage of your followers are novice, casual users, or power users.
  • Your average activity per week
  • Likes and comments per photo
  • Your most popular photos – my No. 1 is of one of my cats, which is a relief; I’m trying not to post too many cat photos. But I guess this just reaffirms that cats rule the Internet.

Twtrland

What I Learned

Based on these tools, my current Instagram habits, and common marketing knowledge, I know that I do need to post more (I have been slacking). My growth history from Statigram shows the more I post, the more engagement I receive and my follower count goes up.

I get good results if I’m posting photos during an event and tagging the pics with the event hashtag – more exposure because event attendees are looking for related content. The Simply Measures activity stats show that the weekend I posted during Blog Better Boston, my engagement went up. Hashtags count too – when I participate in the Photo a Day challenge, other participants are looking at the #fmsphotoaday hashtag, and are catching my content. And that explains why my most popular photos from the Twtrland stats are from the photo challenge.

Simply Measured Instagram Twitter Facebook

Stats from Simply Measured and Statigram show that I should be posting at 4 pm on Fridays, but weekend mornings and weekday evenings after dinner will get me steady engagement.

Simply Measured Frequency

How is Your Instagram Activity?

If you’ve used these tools, what did you learn? And if you have other tools to suggest, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

A lesson on Facebook EdgeRank: Fans miss out when they don’t engage

Like ButtonIt’s not a secret that – as a user of Facebook – you don’t see every single thing posted by people or pages in your little corner of the Facebook universe. It’s all based on Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.

If you’re not familiar with EdgeRank, check out this nifty infographic by PostRocket – EdgeRank is Facebook’s formula that determines what a user sees in their newsfeed. It’s a complicated secret sauce, but the basic idea here is this: between your friends and the pages you like, there’s a lot of stuff being posted, and Facebook wants you see the posts that are most relevant to you. Relevancy is based on how much you interact with a friend or a brand page. The more you comment on, like or share posts, the more often that friend or page will appear in your feed.

Facebook has become a primary source of where we get our information about our friends’ lives, news, and what’s happening at local businesses. And if something’s not in your newsfeed, you’re missing out.

I experienced this in my life this week. It’s a small incident, but it illustrates the power of EdgeRank:

My friend Andrea and I take a Zumba class at our local gym. There are 2 instructors who teach the Zumba classes, and we prefer one instructor’s teaching style over the other. When we walked into the class this week, the other instructor was setting up. We saw a mutual friend and asked if she knew what was up – she said that the regular instructor announced on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t be teaching that day.

Not a big deal to most people, but it was to us. We left during the class, before the first song was over.

“We were on Facebook all day,” I said to Andrea. “Why didn’t we see this?”

And then it hit me: EdgeRank!!! (shakes fist and screams at the sky) I didn’t see the Zumba instructor’s post because I never interact with her content. My lack of engagement means those posts are hidden from my newsfeed.

Something else hit me: Marketers talk all the time about what brands need to do – create engaging content, share more visual content, think about the frequency of posts, and find out what days and times are best – but the fans have a responsibility too.

If you are really loyal to a business, it’s a good idea to interact with a brand on Facebook on a regular basis so the information you’re interested in is coming to you in the newsfeed. It can be as simple as liking a post, or you could take a few seconds to write a comment. Or – if it’s something you think your friends might enjoy – click that share button.

Another thing that helps? Use Facebook’s interest list feature and give yourself easy access to all the recent information from the pages you really want to keep track of.

Have you missed out on something because you didn’t see it on Facebook? Let me know in the comments!

Make your blog better: Tips from the Blog Better Boston conference

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston

Emily and I at Blog Better Boston (I have no idea how to pose at these things!)

This past weekend, my friend Emily and I attended the second annual Blog Better Boston conference, held at the Boston Globe, and organized by fabulous bloggers Alana of The Good Girl Gone Blog and Amy of I’m Gonna Fly.

The event included some great sessions on creating media kits, blog design, working with brands, photography, and creating content – I learned so much from everyone I met, and discovered that Boston has a very welcome, friendly blogging community (who knew?!).

If you have a blog, or you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, check out what Blog Better Boston speakers had to say about design, content and planning:

Design

Alison of Long Distance Loving (fellow Hoosier-turned-New Englander!) shared great tips on blog design – I hope to put some of those in action, so look for a redesign soon! Why does blog design matter? “From the moment you first lay eyes on a blog, you know whether you want to stay or go,” Alison said.

And what makes good design? A blog that’s easy to read and navigate, uncomplicated, has consistency (photo sizes, alignment and length of posts), and reflects your personality. Some people opt to pay for professional design, but if you’re doing it yourself, try some new fonts. Free fonts are available at:

Content

Boston Globe beauty and fashion writer/blogger Rachel Raczka knows good content, and the best kind is created when you find out what your readers want from you. She suggests that each week you should check your stats: what posts do people click on the most? What search terms are bringing them to your blog? Those are the topics they’re coming to you for, so make sure you’re filling that need.

“How to” posts are a great way to connect with readers, but try using more multimedia than text for a how to post. The visuals for this type of post are the best aspect to concentrate on – try steps and photos or go for video. Try combining those tips in a Vine post – Vine has been getting attention, but it’s underutilized. A creative Vine post can get you noticed.

Planning

Julie of Orchid Grey shared her solution for the work-life-blog balance: a content calendar. Planning your blog posts, creating a recurring calendar of themes, and scheduling when you write and research creates consistency for you and your readers. It also allows room for your priorities, time for other interests, and creative inspiration.

This blog is not my full time job. It’s a creative outlet that I try to make time for between my full time job, the 2 hours a day I spend commuting, my social life, and my nonprofit commitments. So, for right now, I have time for one post a week. And that’s OK.

I fit blogging into my week by scheduling office hours in my calendar. I set aside a few hours (as little as 1 hour, but no more than 3) during the week for research, blog stats, checking out new tools, and brainstorming. I plan one night a week – and it varies each week based on whatever I have going on socially, or with meetings, or other responsibilities – to write a post. And there are little times throughout the week where I think of ideas and add them to a spreadsheet, or bookmark interesting stats, infographics or posts that I come across.

Why you should blog

Although I walked away with a lot of practical tips, the biggest lesson I learned is that blogging is a tremendous opportunity, and you get out of it what you put into it. If you spend the time and make the commitment, the payoff is a community of loyal readers and fellow bloggers, a place for you to share your creativity, and a chance for you to grow your personal brand.

Got more tips?

If you are a blogger, how do you do it? Got any tips to share? I’ve been writing my personal blog for six months, so I have a lot to learn from the blogging community. Feel free to your thoughts in the comments.

5 years, 1,000 followers, and (almost) 5,000 tweets: What I’ve learned on Twitter

twitter-bird-white-on-blueThis month is my fifth anniversary with Twitter – I joined as @azurecollier in April 2008 – and as of today, I’ve grown to have a smidge over 1,000 followers and I’m pretty close to posting 5,000 tweets. To celebrate, I thought I’d take a look back and share some of the lessons I’ve learned.

1.      Tweet like a person, not like a robot

People do not want to interact with a robot that auto-generates posts when you update your blog, Facebook, Instagram, and anything that you can connect with Twitter, and just “set it and forget it.” They like helpful information, but they want to know why they should click on a link you’ve posted in a tweet. So, when I find interesting things I want to share, I try to make a comment about what I like about the thing I’m linking to or share a cool stat that I found in a blog post or article. Sometimes that’s hard to do in just 140 characters, but it’s worth it if you can be helpful to your followers!

2.      Negative words get attention, but make sure you include a positive message

Every time I post something that includes the words “Don’t do this!” or “mistakes” or “things that make you look dumb” or “social media crisis/fail”, I get lots of clicks. Why? Because you want to make sure you’re not doing these things! The negative words will catch your eye, and the reward is usually a post that includes not only the things you shouldn’t do, but also how you can fix it or how you can do it the right way.

3.      Sometimes reading is overrated

I’m a recovering ex-journalist, so I hate to say this, but it’s nice to take a break from scrolling and reading chunky paragraphs on a screen. Give the people what they want: something pretty to look at or listen to. Share infographics and videos, and make sure you use those words in the tweet. And write them in all caps to get people to notice (oh Twitter, when can we start using bold for emphasis instead of shouty caps?). Tell people there is a VIDEO or INFOGRAPHIC in this tweet.

Fellow tweeters also like PODCASTS. I’m a podcast junkie (what else are you going to do on an hour-long commute?), so when I hear something that’s relevant to what I do or is just really cool, I like to share it. Need podcast suggestions? I have a ton: The Speakeasy Marketing Roundtable (shameless plug, I am on this podcast), On Point, This American Life, Car Talk, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Radiolab, On the Media, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, WTF with Marc Maron, and Fresh Air. If you listen to ANY of these, your brain will thank you, and you will be on your way to becoming an official smarty pants.

4.      People like tips and things they can pin to their cubicle walls

I am always in search of social media stats, tips, trends, what’s new, and any best practices that I can have on hand for reference. So are the people who follow me. When I find something that is reference-worthy and can help me with content creation or can function as a marketing best practices checklist, I often include words like “bookmark this” or “print this out and pin it on your cube wall” – those tweets get lots of clicks and retweets. If you are someone who uses that kind of information, sign up for Diigo – a social bookmarking site. You can tag anything you add to your Diigo account so it’s easy to track down later.

5.      Tweet chats are helpful and will get you more followers

I’ve been a bit of a tweet chat slacker lately, but I definitely recommend them. I usually learn something, meet some new and smart people on Twitter, and get a few followers (if I add something interesting to the discussion!). Find tweet chats by topic on this Google Twitter Chat Master Schedule. If you see one you like, create an appointment for it in your calendar to remind you to attend.

6.     People like shoes, food, hilarious signs that have bad grammar, and videos of cats on Roombas wearing shark costumes and chasing ducklings

Since we’re not auto-posting robots and we’re talking like people on Twitter, it’s OK to not be all business all the time. Share your Instagram photos of your pets or a PacMan doodle on an office whiteboard. Post a link to 33 ingenious ways to store your shoes. Do not keep awesome things a secret. If you find an epic video of a cat wearing a shark costume who is riding on top of a Roomba and chasing a duckling (I am not making this up), you are obligated to share it with the Internets! Hilarious and interesting things are clicked, shared and retweeted all over the place. They might even cause you to ask a real live person sitting next to you: “Did you see this?!” You will laugh, have a shared experience with another human being, and enjoy yourself.

I have many more lessons to add to this list, but these are at the top of my mind today. Do you have any Twitter tips to share? Or more podcasts? Let me know in the comments!

3 tools to help you promote your personal brand and content

If you’re producing content – for your business or yourself – you’re spending a lot of time posting, tweeting, writing, designing, shooting video or taking photos. And you want people to see it, right?

Well, they can’t see it if they don’t know about it. You need to get found in online search, promote yourself and your personal brand on multiple networks, and make people not only aware of your work, but where they can find it.

I’ve found 3 tools that can help do all of that:

1. About.Me

About_Me

About.Me is a personal homepage that provides information about you, what you do, your content, and your profiles on multiple networks all in one place.

It’s really easy to set up. Create an account, and fill in your biography, which includes location, job info, and education. Add links to featured content – your blog, YouTube or Vimeo. And connect to your profiles on 28 social networks and apps. Add a photo, choose your fonts, and colors, and voila – you have a nice little homepage dedicated to your personal brand. Plus, you can track activity to your page with About.Me’s stats – check out how many visitors you’re getting, how people are finding your page, and what they’re clicking on.

2. WiseStamp

WiseStamp

If you’ve wanted your own email signature that easily links to your social profiles and embeds your latest tweets, WiseStamp is the tool for you.

The WiseStamp editor allows you to add a photo, links to your website, blog, contact information, and social profiles (including your About.Me page!). You can also embed your latest content – the email apps tool will insert your most recent tweet and WordPress blog post at the time you write an email. WiseStamp works with just about every Internet browser, and you can insert it into your Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail, and Outlook.

3. SlideShare

SlideShareDo you have presentations to promote? Upload them to SlideShare,  a personal portfolio for all of your creative work. And – if you add the right content and tag it correctly – it will get found and shared. Every month, 51.6 million visitors go to SlideShare to find information and ideas.

When you create your SlideShare profile, you’ll add the usual details – links to your social profiles, location, job title and workplace, industry, and website. Add a description about you and your work, and then start adding your content. The free account includes uploads of PDFs and PowerPoint documents – you can add larger files and videos with a paid version.

The free version also gives you some analytics – you can see how many times a presentation has been downloaded and viewed, and you receive weekly performance update emails.

So these are the tools I’ve found and used recently. Are there any that you would suggest to promote your content? Please share them in the comments!