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How to Build Positive Social Communities

How to Build Positive Social Communities

The Internet is an ideal place to build social communities around your brand, but it’s easy for any online community to become mired in negativity. While you may think dealing with negative content and the occasional troll is simply the cost of doing business online, bad attitudes can have a detrimental effect on your community if left unchecked.

Not only does negative content discourage users from being active and engaged with their social feeds, but it can actually cause community members to be more negative themselves. A study shows that when content is evaluated negatively by fellow users, the original poster is more likely to negatively evaluate fellow community-members and post more negative content. On top of that, a psychological tendency to remember bad things more strongly than good ones can mean that individuals focus on the negative aspects of your community over the positive aspects, exacerbating any existing problems your community has.

The end result: negativity in your community can breed more negativity, which encourages community members to be less active and engaged with your brand. That in turn means that a new visitor is not likely to stick around long enough to become an engaged community member, and may also walk away with a poor impression of your brand. Instead of letting negative posts sink your community and your brand, work on building a positive environment, which will help keep your brand’s biggest fans interested and engaged.

But just how do you go about building a positive social community? Let’s talk about some guidelines for encouraging your community to be on its best behavior.

Establish Clear Community Rules

Consider the type of behavior that’s acceptable for your brand and the community you want to build around it. Then spell out these rules for your community members. Don’t take good behavior as assumed: you want to be clear and specific about is and isn’t acceptable. In addition to these behavior guidelines, you also want to outline punishments — perhaps starting at a warning and going up to banning — so your community knows what to expect.

But beyond helping your community know what’s expected of them, these rules outline what’s expected of you. If a community member breaks a rule that’s been clearly spelled out, then your reaction should be just as clearly spelled out. You won’t have to figure out how to punish each case individually and there’s less room for a community member to argue against that punishment — after all, it’s all written in the rules.

Keep in mind that those rules don’t need to be a constant looming presence in order to be effective for your community. Just make them easily available for all members, and perhaps give an occasional gentle reminder to the group at large if you notice the start of a trend toward bad behavior.

A lot of bad behavior can be stopped before it starts by having rules that everyone knows to follow. Still, be prepared to follow up on infractions with fair punishments to keep your community on the right trajectory.

Improve Your Community By Improving Your Community Members

In an interesting social experiment, gaming company Riot Games — which manages a community of 20 million players — has a dedicated Social Systems team, lead by a psychologist, that works to fight toxic players. Some of the lessons Riot has learned are definitely applicable to all social communities.

Riot aims to reform players participating in negative behavior when possible, and found that one warning — provided it offered clear information on the offense — was enough to improve behavior in 74 percent of cases. This implies that simply reaching out to a problematic individual may be enough to solve the problem, and many community managers would agree with this result. A negative community member could be lashing out because they’re having a bad day, don’t understand your community rules (or that they’re breaking them), or had a frustrating customer service issue that you can address. Regardless of the specific situation, talking to them one-on-one could well be enough to resolve it.

However, about 2 percent of Riot’s negative players didn’t improve regardless of punishment. These are the sorts of community members we might kindly refer to as “trolls” — individuals who seem intent on causing trouble no matter how much you try to help or work with them. Riot typically offers lenient punishments with many second chances, which allow individuals an opportunity to improve. In the case of this 2 percent, that only meant these problematic community members stayed in the game longer, creating more negative experiences for other players that rippled through the community as a whole. For these players, Riot attempts to dish out more severe punishments sooner to keep out individuals who show “extreme cases of toxicity.”

The social lesson here is simple: while you want to encourage your community members to get along and play by the rules, you shouldn’t spend all of your time trying to reform the most negative members of your community. Sometimes paying them attention will only encourage their negative behavior, especially if they don’t want to be reformed. Don’t be afraid to impose harsh penalties, like bans, in the appropriate situations to help make the community a more positive experience for everyone.

Listen to Your Community

By listening closely to your community, you’ll be able to identify and address issues before they’ve had the time to become big issues. Regardless of the exact situation or who’s in the wrong, customer complaints or frustrations will only grow worse if ignored, which can turn your community into a hotbed of negativity.

While you may be tempted to delete negative comments, unless they’re abusive or clearly violate your community rules, it can be better to keep them. Deleting comments or comment threads that are critical of your company or raise valid complaints can easily be seen as an attempt to hide something, which will only generate even more comments and complaints. Instead, try to respond quickly in order to resolve the issue before it gets any worse. By jumping in with a polite, helpful, and honest response, you’re putting a stop to the negative talk before it has a chance to snowball.

You’re also representing your brand with a positive sentiment, even in a negative conversation. Beyond resolving the situation at hand, building a reputation as responsive and helpful within your community can have a positive impact on your brand’s reputation and the tone your fans want to set.

Negativity isn’t a fact of life for online communities. With careful and attentive community management, we can encourage a positive atmosphere. This not only makes your group a more pleasant place to be, but also helps cultivate an audience that’s engaged and invested in your brand — something that any business would be happy to have.

The post How to Build Positive Social Communities appeared first on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

Edgerank: A Guide to the Facebook Algorithm

facebook news feed algorithm image custom

Do you ever get the distinct feeling that not all of your brand’s Facebook followers are seeing your Page posts? Sometimes it can even feel like your business is only seeing engagement from the same core group of people.

Those feelings might be validated by actual data. Implemented in 2010, the Facebook news feed algorithm Edgerank was created to pick and choose what Facebook users see in their News Feed. This means that Facebook is choosing which of your followers see all of the updates that you create. The Edgerank algorithm has a rather complicated, controversial history, so we’ve put together this guide to break down what it is and how to take advantage of it.

Why Does The Facebook News Feed Need an Algorithm?

Whenever someone visits their News Feed, there are around 1,500 stories waiting to be seen from the friends, people, and Pages that they follow. Since the average person doesn’t have the time to read through 1,500 posts, Facebook’s algorithm prioritizes these stories to show users what they’re most likely to be interested in.

Facebook seeks to show you the information that you want to see without making you dig for it through a bunch of stories that, let’s just face it, you’re really not that interested in seeing.

The Beginning of Edgerank

In the spring of 2009, Facebook released the first iteration of a real-time News Feed. It was a completely unrestricted feed and would display every single story as it published. With this feed, Facebook started to see a large spike in the amount of Likes and comments from each user, which essentially created a cycle of sharing.

The increased engagement led to more content, which eventually resulted in too much noise for the user. The problem for Facebook became showing each user topical and interesting information without overwhelming them with posts. The answer came at the 2010 f8 conference with the announcement of the News Feed ranking algorithm Edgerank.

The Edgerank Formula

The video above includes a portion featuring Ari Steinberg, the first to introduce the idea of Edgerank at the 2010 f8 conference. His presentation included a slide with the actual formula on it:

Where:

 – The sum of each individual edge. An edge is a story that can show up in your News Feed, like a status update, comment, Like, tag, and so on.

u – The affinity score. This is the factor that weighs how close you are with the person doing the posting. If you frequently interact with the person posting, have several mutual friends, or are related, Facebook is more likely to give that content a higher weight.

w – The weight for this edge. Not all actions are considered equal in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithm. For example, a friend creating a status update would carry more weight than someone simply liking a status update.

d – The time decay factor. As a posts gets older, it’s more likely that it has already been seen or that it is no longer as relevant. Facebook remedies both of these problems by taking the age of the post into consideration.

Important Edgerank Updates

Facebook is constantly making adjustments to its News Feed algorithm to make sure it’s showing users what they want to see, so it can be tough to pinpoint exactly what makes up the formula in recent years. You can follow all of the News Feed adjustments on the Facebook blog under the News Feed FYI Series, but here are some of the most important updates along with the examples they used.

Aug. 23, 2013: Facebook Enforces Quality

Facebook developed an algorithm based on over 1,000 different factors to gauge the quality of the content a Page posts. After testing it out, Facebook saw an increase in News Feed engagement, so they made it part of the core algorithm.

Dec. 2, 2013: Facebook Breaking News

Facebook found that more and more people were turning to the platform for the latest news on current events, sports, and other interests, so Facebook started to reward links to quality news sites. This update also saw the addition of the Related Articles section.

facebook news related video example
Jan. 21, 2014: The Importance of Text Updates

Facebook found that the more text updates that someone saw from their friends, the more inclined that person was to write one of their own, so the company increased the distribution of those posts. Although the same didn’t hold true for brands, Facebook introduced a new format for brands to share links.

facebook text updates example

Feb. 24, 2014: Tagging for Additional Reach

Whenever one Page tagged another in an update, Facebook increased the chance that the audience of the tagged Page will see the update as well. This held especially true if Facebook deemed those audiences to be similar.

facebook tagged post example

Aug. 25, 2014: The Fall of Click-Bait

Facebook started to penalize posts that encouraged users to click links without providing much context about the content. Facebook used the post below as an example of click-bait:

facebook click bait example

Sept. 18, 2014: Taking Advantage of Trends

Facebook realized that some posts are only interesting at certain times, so it made two updates. One was to show posts about trending topics higher in the feed. The second change was to not only look at how much engagement a post got, but when the post got engagement. Here’s an example of a trending topic:

facebook trending topic

Nov. 14, 2014: Penalizing Promotional Posts

Based on results from a massive survey, Facebook found that users were getting annoyed with Pages that only seemed to promote their own products or services. Posts that solely pushed people to a product, asked people to enter promotions, or reused the exact same content from ads saw a huge decrease in their organic reach. Facebook gave this as an example bad post:

facebook algorithm example

Arguments For Edgerank

Advocates of quality content are all for the idea of Edgerank. Imagine that you only have enough time left in the day to check out one more status update. Would you rather spend that time reading a status update shamelessly promoting a product or service, or looking at what some of your friends and family are up to?

The fact of the matter is that early adopters of Facebook advertising were in a prime position, but it just wasn’t a sustainable model for the social network. Facebook is aiming to create a better experience, and for better or worse, that experience doesn’t include individuals being aggressively targeted by ads.

Arguments Against Edgerank

The average Facebook member is likely to care very little about Edgerank. In fact, every update Facebook has made to Edgerank has led to an increase in overall engagement, so it’s unlikely individuals will be rioting over each change. The biggest arguments against the algorithm have been from brands.

The biggest argument from brands fits this general idea: they are, and have been in the past, encouraged to spend their Facebook ad dollars promoting their Pages to increase their followings. This made sense in the past. Brands would pay Facebook to increase their their follower numbers, and every time they created an organic post their followers would see it.

But now that these Edgerank updates have seriously cut into the amount of organic reach a Page’s posts get, these advertisers feel like they’ve invested into their social followings for nothing. Even brands that never spent a dime creating a following dislike Edgerank because they find it difficult to reliably reach their audiences.

Can You Check Your Edgerank?

Don’t trust any site, short of Facebook itself, that says it will provide you with an accurate gauge of your Edgerank. The Facebook Edgerank algorithm is built up of thousands of different factors that nobody, except the developers at Facebook, have intimate access to. So instead of trying to figure out each post’s Edgerank score, use the tips below to try your best to increase it.

6 Ways to Increase Facebook Reach with Edgerank

So we’ve covered the formula that will put you and your brand in front of your customers; all you have to do now is put that knowledge to work. Looking at each individual factor of the Facebook news feed algorithm when creating a post can help you improve your results. Let’s break down some of the algorithm factors and discuss how improving them could lead to an increase in reach.

1. Increase Affinity Score

How can you increase the affinity score between you the person viewing your post? Build and nurture relationships with your Facebook followers. Create conversations around the things that you post and make sure to to follow up with the people who comment on your posts.

2. Gain Edge Weight

Increase the weight of the Edge with comments, Likes, and shares. Try creating a status that poses a hot or topical question, people will surely want to chime in with their own thoughts. So long as you make sure to create amazing original content, there’s a good chance that people will notice and reward it with their engagement.

3. Beat the Time Decay Factor

This doesn’t mean that you should post updates more often than you already do. It’s important to find the perfect balance of posting frequently enough to remain fresh and infrequently enough to not overwhelm your followers. Run some tests to see how often you can post content while still seeing good reach and engagement.

4. Take Advantage of Trends

The Sept. 18, 2014, update started rewarding the Pages and people who were posting about relevant and trending topics in a timely manner. Though it’s always a good idea to plan your posts in advance, don’t forget to take advantage of some of-the-moment marketing efforts.

5. Share Brand Adjacent Content

Don’t just post your own material! Try to sprinkle in links and mentions to other thought leaders in your field. This isn’t only good in terms of expanding your reach, but it’s also great for developing relationships with the leaders of your industry.

6. No Hard Sales

More often than not, Facebook Pages seem to fall into the poor habit of promoting their products or solutions to their audiences. The most recent algorithm update has made this a questionable tactic. Instead, try sharing content that your audience would find useful.

Using Sprout Social to Help Your Efforts

Social media tools like Sprout Social can help you take advantage of all of the tips above. With Sprout, you can:

  • Maintain engagement with your followers, increasing affinity score.
  • Schedule and post content at ideal times for engagement, increasing edge weight and reducing time decays.
  • Analyze and build on your most successful content, increasing potential edge weight on future posts.

sprout social free trial cta

The post Edgerank: A Guide to the Facebook Algorithm appeared first on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

A Facebook parody for anyone who likes hearing their own opinion

Feed-fb

While Facebook arguments and Twitter fights are almost always immediately regretted by all parties involved, a social network of like-minded people would have its own downsides.

In this Above Average parody, a new social network called “Jynx” exists to show you exactly what you want to see, when you want to see it. Like something straight out of a Black Mirror episode, the video explores the concept of filter bubbles, all-to-real algorithms that keep users from seeing anything outside of their comfort zone.

Oh, yeah, it’s hilarious too.

More about Videos, Social Media, Parody, Watercooler, and Above Average

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.mashable.com

Facebook quietly rolled out a bare-bones app in emerging markets

Feed-fb

While 1.6 billion people around the world take the latest and greatest smartphones for granted, many in emerging markets remain tethered to older devices.

That’s likely why Facebook quietly rolled out Facebook Lite, a lightweight Android version of the full app, to eight countries last week. It isn’t nearly as sleek, but it’s not intended to be; on Google Play, Facebook plugs the app as being “efficient with data” and “designed for 3G networks and areas with limited network connectivity.”

See also: 20 Things Your Most Annoying Friends Do on Facebook

Case in point, Lite takes up less than 1 MB of space on phones, a fraction of the 27 MB the full app uses. Facebook rolled out the app in Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Read more…

More about Facebook, Smartphone, Facebook Lite, Developing Countries, and Social Media

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.mashable.com

The 6 Step Online Marketing Strategy Every Small Business Should Follow in 2015

This is a guest contribution from Jawad Khan.

2013 was the year when people started taking content marketing seriously. The momentum grew in 2014 and thousands of corporations, small businesses and startups invested heavily in content creation. 2015 will see this trend grow even further. Thousands of new blogs and millions of new blog posts will be created over the next 12 months.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is the way local bricks and mortar businesses have taken up content marketing. From search results to social media, the internet is getting more and more local. Many local businesses have realized that content is the cheapest way to build trust and attract customers from online channels. And the way people are turning towards Google for suggestions about their local outlets, means that more local businesses will start investing in different online marketing activities.

But with increased competition, content creation alone is not be enough to win you customers, especially if you own a local bricks and mortar business. You need to come up with a comprehensive promotional strategy to make your business stand out.

To simplify this for you, I’ve divided this strategy into six key activities. In 2015, you need to stay focused on these six areas to get ahead of your competitors and boost sales.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is the foundation of this strategy. Creating high-quality, actionable, and useful content is not an option anymore, it’s a necessity. If you want to be perceived as a company with in-depth knowledge and expertise of your industry, you need to create high quality content that addresses the problems and questions of your target customers.

This includes creating content for your own blog, guest blogging on other established blogs in your niche or a niche that complements your industry. Target the blogs where you can engage your potential customers.

Take your content right where your audience is. Get active on forums and discussions websites like Quora, LinkedIn groups, Twitter and any other platforms where you can talk directly to your customers. Share your content on social networks, create engaging and educational email courses, and write eBooks and Whitepapers on industry issues.

Make sure everything you know about your industry is out there in the form of your content.

2. Reputation Management

You’ve created a great blog with high-quality content. You have also been featured on high-traffic blogs in your niche. You have traffic flowing in to your website from different sources.

But when a customer decides to visit your outlet or buy from you online, what does he do first? He looks for reviews about your company.

Generating positive reviews and maintaining a strong online reputation is crucial, especially for local bricks and mortar businesses.

Research shows that dissatisfied customers are twice as likely to write an online review as compared to satisfied customers. So even if you have lots of happy clients, your reputation can be tarnished by just a few unhappy customers, because they speak out more often.

To counter this, make sure you have lots of happy client reviews on the web. Your reputation is at stake here and, with it, thousands of dollars in potential sales.

I personally recommend automating this reputation management process with Reputation Loop, a smart online reputation management tool.

It maximizes positive reviews from satisfied customers using a series of follow up emails and updates, and minimizes negative reviews by proactively approaching dissatisfied clients for feedback. So before they can write negative reviews about your company on a public forum, they’re given an outlet to express their anger and dissatisfaction.

In short, the online reputation of your business is the gatekeeper for all other forms of marketing. So take it seriously.

3. Influencer Outreach and Networking

Every niche or industry has certain influencers who command respect and enjoy a large following. They’re perceived as the ultimate industry experts and their opinion holds a lot of weight. Your target, as a local business, should be to get in the good books of these influencers. Even a few words of endorsement from influential figures in your industry can skyrocket your reputation, credibility and sales figures.

There are different ways of getting in their radar. For local bricks and mortar businesses, the best thing is to associate with the influencers in real world. But to do that, you’d first need to engage with them in the online world.

You can start by following their Twitter account and joining their blog’s mailing list. Tweet the different posts from their blog (don’t forget to tag them), comment on their posts and respond to their Tweets. Do this for a while so they start recognizing you. You can then invite them to your outlet or offer them something complementary (even if that means sending a gift through a courier service).

You need to invest time and energy in building your network and engaging the influential figures in your industry. These relationships can pay back dividends

4. Email List Building

If you’re not building an email list, you’re not building your business (even for a bricks and mortar business). In this age of competition, where companies are approaching customers through multiple channels, you need to engage your customers regularly even when they’re not buying from you. Keep reminding them about your presence and stay in touch with them through informative emails, exclusive offers and discounts.

Make sure your website and blog are optimized for email conversions. Place email opt-ins on multiple prominent locations of your website. Use pop-ups and free giveaways to seduce your visitors.

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I’ve personally found great results with SumoMe List Builder. Even its free version has lots of great options for maximizing email conversions. You can use it as a pop-up, activate delayed appearance and many other useful features to get the attention of your readers and increase opt-ins.

5. Offer Ecommerce and Online Shopping

 

If you’re currently not offering online shopping options on your website, seriously consider doing so. The global ecommerce growth, thanks to smartphones and tablets, is reaching unprecedented heights. Just recently, the Chinese ecommerce giants Alibaba made more than $9 billion sales in one day. Even local customers are much more likely to buy from your online store as compared to previous years.

 

Thankfully, adding ecommerce features to your website or setting up an online store is not difficult these days. You can create a fully functional online store and add complete ecommerce features to your website with tools like Selz.  It’s an easy to use ecommerce and shopping cart solution that is equally effective for selling digital and physical products and services.

 

 

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Selz handles everything from product listing and store creation to payment collection and list building. You can embed a Selz store to your website by copy/pasting a simple html code or using their WordPress plugin.

There are other great ecommerce tools that you can choose as well. Here’s a useful comparison chart to help you.

6. Facebook Advertising

If there’s one paid advertising mode that I’d gladly recommend any day of the year it has to be Facebook advertising. It’s by far the most economical, targeted, and effective paid advertising mode especially for local small businesses. You can choose your target audience based on interests, age groups, location, Liked pages and many others criteria.

It’s most effective for boosting your list building activities. My personal formula is to create a landing page (use LeadPages or create a simple one on your blog), add a free giveaway on the page and use Facebook advertising to route traffic to the email list. It’s almost like switching a traffic button on.

But if you’re using it for the first time, start with a small budget. Test $20-30 ads with different configurations. Once you get the right combination, increase your budget gradually.

If trends from the previous years are anything to go by, 2015 will be a rocking year for small businesses that are prepared to take advantage of the different online marketing, advertising and promotional channels. The significance of content marketing will increase even more. But you’d have to combine smart reputation management techniques with it to ensure that visitors convert into customers. As I said at the start, if you stay focused on these six points, it’ll be hard for your competitors to catch you.

What are your thoughts? Which one will you be trying this year?

Jawad Khan is a content marketing consultant and a freelance blogger for hire. Follow him on his blog Writing My Destiny, Twitter, and Google+.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The 6 Step Online Marketing Strategy Every Small Business Should Follow in 2015

Reblogged 3 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

Blogging and Privacy: How to Blog Authentically Without Losing Your Voice

Laura Tremaine’s blog is called Hollywood Housewife because she is just that – married to a movie producer and living in LA. A longtime blogger, she’s learned how to balance honest storytelling with keeping her husband, her family, and their life together somewhat incognito. Always only a Google search away from film fans, Laura has erred on the side of caution when it comes to sharing her tales, but manages never to lose the heart of them. She is a gifted writer with an interesting story to tell, and I have no doubt you’ll take away lots to think about if you’ve ever been concerned about laying out your life on the internet in blog form.

__________

Blog Beginnings

I started blogging as a creative outlet for my writing. I moved to Los Angeles from Oklahoma with the romantic notion that I was going to write novels and screenplays for a living. But I never got that far. I fell into television & movie production as a way to pay the bills, and that workload is really kind of intense. After I got married, I quit working in reality television and decided that I finally wanted to pursue that original dream. Blogging was just beginning to get huge, and the instant gratification of publishing on the internet was so alluring.

At first I just did it for myself and the handful of family and friends that read my first small blog. After a few stops and starts, I finally decided that I wanted to take the whole thing more seriously and grow an audience. I started over with the blog name Hollywood Housewife (because I am one) and have been plugging along with it ever since.

Privacy Needs

My husband Jeff Tremaine is a successful director/producer with a large fan base. The demographics that are attracted to his movies and tv shows aren’t necessarily the same people who want to read about my parenting journey. In the beginning, it was really important to me to keep the two things separate. There are a lot of google searches for his name and work, and I didn’t want people looking for a crude clip of a movie stumbling upon my list of favorite moisturizers. After we had children, I was especially concerned about our family’s privacy and how I could write my story without exploiting our two kids or too much of his personal life.

By now there has been some crossover – people who love him have found my Instagram, for example, which then leads them to the blog and everything else. It’s okay, though. You can see pretty quickly what I’m about, so that naturally weeds out those who aren’t interested in family, faith, & beauty content. And for the most part, almost everyone has been very respectful of the distance I keep between what I’m doing on the internet and what he’s doing on the big screen.

No-Go Zones

For search engine reasons, I don’t use my husband’s name and I have given him and our children little nicknames I use instead. The reasoning behind this makes sense, but sometimes I wish I’d picked something a little less silly. It’s tricky to write the more serious posts while referring to the most important people in my life as The Gorilla, Pigtail, and Pirate. You live and you learn, I guess, but that is one thing that I tell newer bloggers to think long and hard about.

I also don’t include too much about where we live, but I think everyone on the internet – blogger or not – should do that. And there are huge chunks of our life I leave out entirely. We’ve had very significant illnesses on both sides of our family, and even though it was on our hearts day and night, I didn’t write about any of it for years. It just didn’t feel right. I also never write about our personal relationships with people who are well known. I want my blog to be a peek into a true Hollywood household, but it’s not a site for name-dropping.

hhousewife

Balancing Authenticity and Privacy

If it were just me, my blog would be a LOT more tell-all. I have no patience for fake people, and I like to write honestly about things. But juggling these other factors in our life has been a good discipline, actually. I’ve rarely hit publish on a post and wished I could take it back. I’m very deliberate about what and how much I share, but it’s all truth. I think the authenticity comes from me sharing MY heart and MY taste, and less about being juicy. It’s easy for me to be honest about what *I’m* feeling or the products and things that *I* like, and I try to leave anyone else out of the equation. I figure that will get me in the least trouble.

I’m also fairly quick to say if I made a mistake, failed at something, or if I changed my mind on a topic. There is no picture perfect illusion on my blog. This goes a long way in deconstructing  whatever myth people might assume about our lifestyle.

Reader Relationships

I have some of the best readers on the planet. I’m always underestimating them and they’re constantly surprising me. Like if I think I’m posting something sorta wackadoo and they’re not going to understand what I mean – they do! They’re almost always along for the ride and I love this about them. Somewhere along the way we’ve sliced through the blogger wall, and I always feel like I’m a real person writing to real people. It’s easy to get confused about that.

I interact with my readers daily on Facebook and Instagram  I love twitter, but my readers aren’t over there so much. My favorite way to interact with my readers has been through my monthly Secret Posts  These go to subscribers’ emails and the content is more personal than what I put out on the blog. Lately I’ve been asking readers to respond to the Secret Posts, and people are blowing me away with their thoughtful interaction.

And Her Husband?

He loves the blog. It’s the only one he reads – ha! Because his career is such a circus, he has always encouraged me to have my own thing and to pursue it as much as I wanted. He keeps the kids when I go on blogging trips and conferences, and he’s often my sounding board when I’m about to publish a sensitive post.

He is way less concerned about our general privacy than I am. Or maybe he just trusts the way I’ve handled it so far. He has never asked me to delete or change something I’ve posted.

More Privacy = More Struggle

We’ve had a few weird things happen, like people finding me and trying to get a direct line to him. I’ve received more than one script in the mail that someone wishes I’d pass along. (Those go directly in the trash, we can’t directly accept anything like that for legal reasons.) It’s also annoying that sometimes I can’t write about a major thing in our life until after it’s already happened. Last year he made the movie Bad Grandpa and I basically couldn’t write about any part of it for over a year, even though it was a huge part of our daily lives.

That’s not a real struggle, though, is it? While I sometimes have to be creative or find a workaround when writing about our friends and family, the bottom line is that you’ll never regret being too careful about what you put online.

The Takeaway

Even though blogging and social media continue to change rapidly, I feel really lucky to be able to tell my story in real time on the internet. There are people who put way too much of themselves out for the world to see, and there are people who are terrified to put even the littlest bit on display. But for most of us – no matter what level of privacy we either must or choose to maintain – there is a happy medium. Be creative! I know one blogger who writes about some of her current mental health struggles as if it was something that happened a long time ago. That makes her feel safer about sharing. Another blogger I know spills out a lot of harsh detail about a certain situation and she has ended up a thought leader on a topic very few are willing to discuss publicly. A lot of obstacles can be worked around, be it a job or a family situation, or anything else you’ve convinced yourself requires silence. If you want to tell your story, do it. There’s no shortage of people who want to hear it. [Tweet that!]

_______________________

So how about you – what’s the balance you strike between authenticity and privacy? It’s one I’ve definitely juggled.

Stacey is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about simple living, good food, and travelling the world with kids at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama (cat pictures welcome!).

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Blogging and Privacy: How to Blog Authentically Without Losing Your Voice

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Know What Your Audience Wants Before Investing in Content Creation and Marketing – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Content marketing is an iterative process: We learn and improve by analyzing the success of the things we produce. That doesn’t mean, though, that we shouldn’t set ourselves up for that success in the first place, and the best way to do that is by knowing what our audiences want before we actually go through the effort to create it. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand (along with his stick-figure friends Rainy Bill and Hailstorm Hal) explains how we can stack our own decks in our favor with that knowledge.

Know What Your Audience Wants – Whiteboard Friday_1

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. It’s 2015. It’s going to be a year where, again, many, many marketers engage in a ton of content investments and content marketing for a wide variety of purposes from SEO to driving traffic to growing their email newsletters and lists to earning links and attention and growing their social channels. Unfortunately, there’s a content marketing problem that we see over and over and over again, and that is that folks are making investments in content without knowing whether their audience is going to know and love and appreciate what they’re doing beforehand.

That kind of sucks because it adds a lot of risk to a process that is already risk intensive. You’re going to put a lot of work into the content that you’re creating. Well, hopefully you are. If you’re not, I don’t know how well it’s going to do. All of that work can be for naught.

Let me show you two examples. Over here I have Rainy Bill from WhatTheWeather.com, and here’s Hailstorm Hal from KingOfClimate.com. We’ll start with Rainy Bill’s story.

So Rainy Bill, he’s thinking to himself, “You know, I want to invest in some content marketing for WhatTheWeather.com.” He has an idea. He’s like, “You know, maybe I could make a chart of the T-shirts that meteorologists wear by season. I’ll look at all the TV meteorologists, all the Internet meteorologists, and I’ll look at the T-shirts that they wear. They all wear T-shirts, and I’ll make a big chart of them.”

You might think this is a ridiculous idea. I have seen worse. But Rainy Bill is thinking to himself, “Well, if I do this, it’s kind of ego bait. I get all the meteorologists involved. I’ll feature all their T-shirts, and, of course, all of them will see it and they’ll all link to me, talk about me, share it on their social media channels, email their friends with it. Oh check it out. Put it on their Facebook.”

He makes it. He’s got this beautiful chart showing different kinds of T-shirts that meteorologists are wearing over the seasons, and Bill’s just as happy as a clam. He can’t believe how beautiful that is until he tries to launch and promote it. Then it’s just sadness. He’s just crying tears.

What happened here is that no one actually cared what Bill had to say. No one cared about T-shirt patterns that are worn by meteorologists, and Bill didn’t actually realize this until he had already made the investment and started trying to do the promotion.

This might be a slightly ridiculous example, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen exactly this story play out by marketer after marketer of content investments. They put something together that they hope will achieve their goal of reaching a new audience, of getting promoted, but it falls flat mostly because they had the idea before they talked to anyone else. Before they realized whether anyone else was interested, they went and built it.

That’s actually kind of a terrible idea. Unless you have your finger on the pulse of an industry, a field so incredibly well that you don’t need that process, I’m going to say that is the 1% of the 1% who can do this without going out and first talking to their audience and understanding.

Hailstorm Hal, from KingOfClimate, instead of having a great idea for a piece of content, Hailstorm Hal is going to start with the idea from which all content marketing springs, which is, “I want to make something people will really want and something they’ll really love.” Okay. They want it, and they’re going to love it when they see it and when they get it.

So Hailstorm Hal is going to go out and say, “Well, what are the weather watchers talking about? People who are active in this community, in this industry, the people who do the sharing and the amplification, who influence what the rest of us see, what are they talking about?”

So he goes onto this weather forum and hears someone complaining, “The weather in Cincinnati is totally unpredictable.” The reply, “Yeah, but it’s way more predictable than Seattle is.” “Nuh-uh, you liar.” From this, eureka, Hailstorm Hal has a great idea. “Wait a minute. What if I were to actually go and take all of this online commentary and turn it into something useful where these two commenters could prove to each other who’s correct and people would know for certain how much . . .”

It’s not just helpful to them. This is helpful to a huge, broad swath of society. How accurate are your meteorologists, on average, city by city? I don’t actually know, but I would be fascinated to know whether when I go to San Diego — I was there for the holidays to see my wife’s family — maybe the weather reports in San Diego are much more or much less accurate than what I’m used to here at home in Seattle.

So Hal’s going to put together this great map that’s got an illustration of different regions of the United States, and you can see that in the Midwest actually weather is more predictable than it is on the coast or less predictable than it is on the coast. That’s awesome. That’s terrific. This is going to work far, far better than anything that Hal could have come up with on his own without first understanding the industry.

Now the process and tips that I’m going to recommend here are not exhaustive. There are a lot more things in this. But if you follow these five, at least, I think you’re going to do much better with your content investment.

First off, even before you do this process, get to know the industry, the niche, or the community that you’re operating in. If Hal didn’t know where to find weather watchers, he might just search weather forum, click on the first link in Google, and be at some place that doesn’t really have a very serious investment from the community of people he’s trying to reach. Without understanding all of the sites and pages, without understanding who are the big influencers in the community on social media, without understanding what are the popular websites, what gets a lot of interaction and engagement and doesn’t, that’s going to be really tough for him to figure out.

So that’s why I would say you need to go out and learn about your industry before you make something for it. Incidentally, this is why it’s really tough to do this as a consultant and why if you are paying consultants to go and do this, you’re going to actually be paying quite a bit of money for this research time. This is going to be dozens of hours of research to understand the niche before you can effectively create content for it. That’s something where it isn’t just an on demand kind of thing.

Then from there you want to use the discussion forums, Q&A sites, social media, and blog comments to find topics and discussions that inspire questions, curiosity, and need. Some of that is going to be very blatant. Some of it is going to be much more latent, and you’re going to be drawing from both of those. Your job is to have insight and empathy, and that’s what a great marketer should be able to do when they’re researching these communities.

Number three, you want to validate that if you created something, (a) it would be unique, no one else has made it before, and (b) others would actually share it. You can do this very directly by reaching out and talking to people.

So Hal can go and say, “Hey, who’s this commenter right here? Let’s have a quick conversation. Would you like this?” If the answer is, “Yeah, not only would I like that, I would help share that. I would spread that. I would love to know the answer to this question.” Or no reply, or “Sounds interesting, let me know when you get it up.” There’s going to be a different variation.

You can go and use Twitter, Google+, and email to reach out directly to these people. Most of the time, if you’re finding commentary on these forums and in these places, there will be a way to reach them. I also have two tools I’m going to recommend, both for email. One is Conspire and the other is VoilaNorbert. VoilaNorbert.com is an email finding tool. I think it’s the best one out there right now, and Conspire is a great tool for seeing who you’re connected to that’s connected to people you might want to reach. When you’re trying to reach someone, those can be very helpful.

Number four, it tends to be the case that visual and/or interactive content is going to perform a lot better than text. So if Hal’s list had simply been a list of data — here are all the major U.S. regions and here’s how predictable and unpredictable their weather is — well, that might work okay. But this map, this visual is probably going to sail around the weather world much faster, much better, be picked up by news sources, be written about, be embedded in social media graphics, all that kind of stuff, far better than a mere chart would be.

Number five, remember that as you’re doing the creation, you need to align the audience goals with your business goals. So if KingOfClimate’s goal is to get people signing up for a weather tracking service on an email list, well great, you should have this and then say, “We can send you variability reports. We can tell you if things are getting more or less accurate,” and have an email call to action to get people to sign up to the newsletter. But you want to tie those business goals together.

The one thing I’d be careful of and this is a mistake that many, many folks who invest in content marketing make is that a lot of those benefits are going to be indirect and long term, meaning if the goal is that KingOfClimate.com is trying to sell professional meteorologists on a software subscription service, well, you know what? You’re probably not going to sell a whole lot with this. But you are going to get a lot more professional meteorologists who remember the name, KingOfClimate, and that brand memory is going to influence future purchase decisions, likely nudging conversation rates up a little bit.

It’s probably going to help with links. Links will lead to rankings. Rankings will lead to being higher up in search engines when professional meteorologists search for precisely, “I’m looking for weather tracking software or weather notification software.” So these kings of things are long term and indirect. You have to make sure you’re tying together all of the benefits of content marketing with your business goals that you might achieve.

I hope to see some phenomenal content here in 2015. I’m sure you guys are already working on some great stuff. Applying this can mean that you don’t have to be psychic. You just have to put in a little bit of elbow grease, and you can make things that will perform far better for your customers, for your community, and for your business.

All right, everyone. Look forward to the discussion, and we will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Get to Know the Moz Community Managers

Posted by jennita

At this very moment a spammy comment is being written on the Moz Blog, a tweet is being sent to @Moz, and someone is signing up for the next Mozinar. You’ll probably never see any of these happen, and may not realize that just like Newton’s third law states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” As each one of these actions occurs, a Moz Community Manager is jumping into a reaction: The spammer is banned, the tweet is answered, and the Mozinar is being prepared.


Charlene, Megan, and Erica showing how much fun Community Managers have 🙂

Today is
Community Manager Appreciation Day, or #CMAD as it’s come to be known. It’s a day to thank the amazing community managers out there who keep all things moving no matter what the day or time. At Moz, we’re lucky to have an exceptional team of folks that manages everything from social media posts to handling spammers. It’s not always a pretty job, but it’s one they take to heart, and have come to live and breathe the role.

Did you know the @Moz Twitter account is handled by 7 different people?

I dare you to try to figure out who’s tweeting when.

It’s my great honor to introduce and thank each of our community managers, as well as several folks who contribute greatly to the team. They make sure our site isn’t overrun with spam, your questions get answered in Q&A, your tweets see replies, and that you have help writing a great post for YouMoz.

Before I dive in, I’d like to give a shout out to all of our
Associates, especially Gianluca and Miriam, who help the Community team in a myriad of ways every single day. In order to be fair, I’ll introduce each person in terms of how long they’ve been working on community-related tasks here at Moz.

Keri Morgret – Community Manager

Keri started out as an Associate in early 2011, where she initially focused on YouMoz. She had been quite active in the greater SEO community, and her knowledge and experience was top-notch. Top that with a need for perfect grammar (she once refused to read a self-published book because of bad grammar), and she took YouMoz to great heights.

Over time, she took over Q&A, and eventually came to manage just about everything happening on the site each day. Keri moved to Seattle, and became a full-time Mozzer in May 2012. Here’s a high-level peek at all the areas Keri currently handles:

  • Managing YouMoz
  • Managing Q&A
  • User moderation
  • Coordination with Help Team

As someone we often call our “super sleuth,” Keri likes to know everything that’s happening on the site at all times. My appreciation for her goes well beyond her keeping tabs on the community for us. She cares for Moz and our entire community to her core. She lives and breathes TAGFEE, and holds all of us at Moz to the highest standards, constantly reminding us to focus on our community.

This year in particular was a special one for Keri, as she welcomed her daughter Eloise to the world. I’ll throw in a big thank you to Eloise as well, who has brought so much love and happiness to Keri and her husband. 🙂

2014 Stat: The team banned 1,235 accounts for comment spam.

Erica McGillivray – Sr. Community Manager

Between the time Erica accepted the role of “Community Attache” in October 2011, and the time she actually started just a few weeks later, her job had completely changed. Lucky for us, her background is diverse: Not only has she been an SEO in a previous life, but she’s managed email campaigns, writes killer copy, and was once the President of 
GeekGirlCon. She accepted the changed role, and focused on marketing communications for a while. However, it didn’t take too long for her to find her true calling back on the community team!

Erica quickly proved her prowess at managing speakers and events, and took over our bi-weekly webinars (a.k.a. Mozinars), as well as speaker coordination for our annual conference, MozCon. Plus, with her knowledge of SEO and social, she took over the management of our social media channels, and helped Keri with on-site work as needed.

Today, as our Senior Community Manager, she’s in charge of the following areas:

  • Speaker management & promotion for MozCon, LocalUp Advanced, and Mozinars
  • Event project management (ensuring pages are created for events, videos are ready to sell, etc.)
  • Handling of escalated social or on-site issues
  • Community strategy
  • Team management backup

This year, I’m extremely thankful for Erica stepping in and helping with bigger strategy items, and being my backup! Ok, that really just means she ends up going to a lot more meetings, but still, it’s been great. 🙂

2014 Stat: 8,945 people watched our webinars live.

Christy Correll – Q&A Associate

Christy and I worked together many years ago in Denver (in what feels like a completely different life). When we realized that Q&A was getting more active in early 2012, and we needed an additional set of eyes in there, I knew just who to turn to. Christy was running her own online marketing
agency, so I knew she had the background and ability, and I was pleased to find out she had the time as well!

What began as a possible 10 hours/week job has grown into at least a half-time gig. We count on Christy’s insights and smarts in Q&A every single day. She and Keri use a spreadsheet with all of our staff and Associates expertise to know who best to assign things to. She’s also been helping out more and more with the editing of YouMoz blog posts.

Christy, thank you for your continued excellence in making Q&A an amazing place to give and get answers to all kind of online marketing questions.

2014 Stat: 8,165 questions were asked in Q&A with 31,218 replies.

Megan Singley – Social Community Manager

Megan had been working on the Help team for almost two years, when we stole her over to the community team in January of 2013 (yes, that means she just hit her 4-year mark!). She was more knowledgeable about our tools and how to help our customers than any of the rest of us were. Her love has always been in social, and she initially worked with Erica on managing our social accounts. It didn’t take long, though, for her to take over social management, and she is currently the go-to person for all things social media. At this very moment we have some fascinating social tests happening on Twitter thanks to her work. (Now, if only I could get her to write a blog post about the tests!)

She’s also the one who can always put a smile on someone’s face if they’re having a grumpy day. (She once sent a guy cookies because he tweeted @Moz saying the latest Whiteboard Friday had made him hungry for cookies.) And with this kind of work, you run into some grumpy folks now and then (usually me). 😉

Megan is focused on these areas:

  • Daily social management (everyone helps with this, but she does the scheduling and is the resource for escalation)
  • Social testing
  • Product feedback liaison
  • Weekly metrics
  • Community Chronicle (a monthly email about community metrics)
  • Community College (internal training on all things community)

Right? That’s a lot! Megan has stepped out of her comfort zone, and helped us to create some great internal processes, and keeps us all on track on social (a place where I usually get in trouble!). I’m grateful to her for taking on this new role and striving to make our social marketing the absolute best in the industry.

2014 Stat: The team sent a whopping 9.6k tweets from the @Moz account.

Melissa Fach – Social Associate

Melissa began as an Associate in 2013, to help us manage the growing YouMoz queue. As a well-known SEO and previous editor at Search Engine Journal, YouMoz made perfect sense for her. During MozCon that year, we asked her to help us manage social while we were busy with the conference, and we quickly realized that social was her true calling for Moz.

With our growing international community, we had been looking for someone to manage all our social channels during our off-hours. Melissa to the rescue! Not only did she already know the industry, and had been a part of the Moz community for years, but lucky for us she lives in Florida, three hours ahead of the Mozplex.

I’m not exactly sure what we’d do without Melissa these days. Her role of managing all the social things during the wee hours of the morning is essential to Moz. She alerts us if there are multiple tweets about a tool not working, or if a certain post is doing exceptionally well (or exceptionally poorly, for that matter). She’s the eyes and ears of Moz while those of us here in Seattle are still fast asleep. (Unless we’re talking about Keri being up with her newborn at 3 a.m.)

Melissa has the difficult job of working from her home in Florida, yet staying on top of everything that’s happening throughout the day at Moz. She does this well, so that each morning she knows how to respond to questions on Twitter, and knows when there’s something going on. A huge thank you to her for always making us look so darn good!

2014 Stat: We saw a 43% YOY loss in Facebook traffic.

Trevor Klein – Content Strategist

Trevor is the lucky guy who gets to edit posts for the Moz Blog. Yep, he edited this one too, and when he gets to this part he’s going to feel really weird for a few seconds. 🙂 [Editor’s note: It’s true.] Trevor is a part of the Content Team here at Moz, but because content and community are so closely tied, his job often crosses roles.

Trevor started managing the blog in May 2013. He’s upped the ante on our blog content, and quickly realized that content doesn’t end upon publishing a post. We get tons of comments and thumbs on posts, and he helps Keri and the rest of the team to moderate all the things. He’ll email a member who’s posted too many spammy links in their otherwise well written comments, or reply to a comment reminding a member to stay TAGFEE in their responses.

Personally, I’m grateful to have someone on the team who cares so deeply about Moz and the community that he’s willing to stand up for his beliefs, and for the community. (Even if he is standing up to or disagreeing with me. ;)) [Editor’s sarcastic note: That
never happens. Ever.]

2014 Stat: Moz staff edited 622 blog comments for spammy links, TAGFEE wording, etc.

Charlene Inoncillo – Community Brand Manager

Although Charlene started back in September 2011, and had been handling all our event details for a while, it wasn’t until 2014 that she became an official part of the Community team. She initially started as the Marketing Admin, and swiftly worked herself into a full-time events manager. Over time this role has changed as she’s increased her skillset, and has continued to break her own goals.

Charlene works closely with Erica on all of our events, plus she’s in charge of any sponsorships or speaking engagements we have throughout the year. Here’s the high-level list of Charlene’s roles:

  • Event logistics & promotion for MozCon, LocalUp Advanced, and MozPlex events
  • Conference sponsorships & promotions
  • Swag Management
  • Social branding
  • Brand monitoring

With her addition, we’ve completely upped our game when it comes to branding. Charlene works with our design team to create beautiful swag, have a perfect brand experience at MozCon, and essentially make us look good, consistently. It also helps that she’s the most organized person I know, and always considers even the tiniest of details. (Which is really great for someone like me who dislikes dealing with details.)

What am I most thankful of Charlene for this year? It’s the little things, actually. She ensured that every blog post, webinar, event, product launch, etc. has branded images that we share on social, and in blog posts. These things make a huge impact!

2014 Stat: We sent 573 “Happy” packages and ordered 37,364 swag items.

Danie Launders – Marketing Specialist

While Danie isn’t officially on the Community team, we pretend as if she is. We started stealing her time early in 2014, and just keep pulling her in farther (shh, don’t tell Annette, our CMO). Danie’s ability to jump into any project and willingness to learn all the things have had a great impact on the community team this past year. She’s an absolute natural with the Moz “voice” and manages our social channels several times per week (in 4-hour shifts).

She’s crazy-organized, so it makes sense that she helps Charlene with all the events, sponsorship, and swag tasks. This year, I’m thankful for every single thing Danie does. Whether making sure our Associates get paid, sending swag to an active member, or just replying to a Facebook message, she does it with grace.

 

2014 Stat: 9k+ tweets were sent using the #MozCon hashtag.

Ronell Smith – YouMoz Associate

Ronell may be our newest member of the team, but his impact has been swift and grand. While Keri was on maternity leave, we needed someone to help manage YouMoz posts. It had to be someone who knows the online marketing industry well, plus has great editing skills, AND is a great writer. When Keri went on leave a bit sooner than expected, we had to throw Ronell into the YouMoz fire without a ton of training.

If you’ve submitted a YouMoz post recently, and have worked with Ronell, you know what I mean when I say he’s kicked royal butt for us. He cares deeply about ensuring that posts are of the highest quality, and he works with authors (I’ve seen email threads between him and an author that were 65+ emails deep!) to help improve their writing. This is why even after Keri returned from leave, we asked him to continue making YouMoz awesome.

My thank-you to Ronell is for helping us to not only improve our process, but to up our YouMoz game. Heck, the entire community thanks you.

2014 Stat: Only 3.7% of all YouMoz posts submitted were published.

Now it’s your turn.

Impressive group of folks, right? Please help me in thanking them for all their amazing work every day for Moz. Also, I bet after reading about them you may even have a few questions of your own. Well, lucky you! Each one of them is on stand-by today to answer any questions you have about their roles at Moz or how we manage all things community.

Go ahead… ask us anything! (about our jobs)

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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SearchCap: Cortana, SEO Speed & Matt Cutts Google Talk

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Cortana, SEO Speed & Matt Cutts Google Talk appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 years ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

New Webinar with John Gagnon! 5 Reasons You Need To Use Bing Ads in 2015

For the past few years, Bing has been making quite the impact on the competitive landscape for search engine marketing, comprising 29% of the search marketplace. 2014 alone saw many …

Read more at PPCHero.com

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