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Save Time and Get Active on Social Media with Buffer

6 Mar

Buffer AppDo you ever notice people that seem to always be online? Always posting to Twitter or Facebook? Just because they’re posting several times throughout the day doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on Twitter or Facebook all day long. They could be using one of several apps that allows you to schedule or spread out your posts throughout the day. One of the best apps I’ve found to do that is Buffer.

Unlike robust social media management tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck (both excellent tools), Buffer does one thing and it does it exceptionally well. Buffer is a status update scheduling tool, but unlike a more full-fledged social media management tool, Buffer doesn’t ask you when to post your updates. Buffer initially selects four times throught the day when your posts will go out (but you can add, subtract or edit any of those times). Each time you add a new post to Buffer, it simply throws it into the buffer queue behind your other scheduled posts. In the screenshot below, you can see that there are several posts scheduled to go out over the next 24 hours. This is how Buffer works.

Buffer Dashboard

Now, I can spend 20 or 30 minutes over lunch or in the evening reading news updates from my Google Reader account or (some of my new favorites) Flipboard (iOS app link), Zite (iOS app link) or even the Bloomburg BusinessWeek (iPad app link) apps on my iPad. Then, when I read interesting articles, I can add them to my Buffer knowing they’ll post later and not inundate my followers as I read each article.

Buffer also makes it VERY easy to add content, whether you’re sharing links of articles you’re reading or whether you just want to schedule a post without a link. Buffer has created more than a dozen different ways to add content to your account. In addition to being able to update from the website, you can also update with an Android app, iPhone app, Firefox and Chrome extensions and (one of my favorites) a way to add to your Buffer via email, it’s easy to keep your Buffer full wherever you are. Below is a screenshot that shows how to add an update to Buffer via email. You’ll receive your own exclusive @to.bufferapp.com email address and everything you send to that address will automatically get added to your Buffer. Just add the email address to your contacts and you can add to your Buffer from anywhere.

Add to Buffer via email
Buffer is a free service, but there is also a couple paid versions available. For free, you can have up to 10 updates in your queue, and you can have one account each of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For $10/month you get up to 50 updates at a time, six social networks and up to two team members per account. There’s also a $99/month plan that gives you lots more.

I’ve been using Buffer for about six months now and it has become an indispensable part of my day and my social media routine. If you’re interested in checking out Buffer, click here (referral). If you sign up through my referral link, we’ll both get one extra space added to our Buffer queue.

**Update Thanks to Troy Thompson of Travel 2.0, you can use Tweriod (a free service) to find out the best times to tweet. Simply connect Tweriod with your Twitter account and it will let you know the historically best times to post content to get the most interaction from your followers. Tweriod is included as part of the paid Buffer subscription, but you can look up the times on your own for free as well. **

Subscribers, Fans and Followers: Mobile Dependence Day

29 Jun

ExactTarget - Subscribers, Fans and Followers ResearchI just got an email today that ExactTarget just released another report in their fantastic Subscribers, Fans and Followers research series. Their ninth report is entitled Mobile Dependence Day and goes into depth about our collective dependence on our smartphones and other mobile devices. (You can see my previous reviews of the SFF research series if you want. I covered report #7 Social Mytbhusting here.) While I was reading the most recent report, I realized that I hadn’t blogged about the previous report: The Social Breakup, so this post consists of reviews of the two most recent reports as part of the Subscribers, Fans and Followers research. If you’re interested in downloading the reports for yourself, check out ET’s Subscribers, Fans and Followers page for the full reports.

Report No. 8: The Social Breakup

The eighth report in the Subscribers, Fans and Followers series focuses on the “social breakup” – how and why consumers “break up” with brands and stop following them via Facebook, Twitter and email. You might be surprised at how much similarity there is across all channels. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Email
    • 67% of subscribers hit the unsubscribe button to end the email relationship rather than just deleting (17%), reporting as spam (8%), ignoring (6%) or setting up a filter to auto-archive the message(2%)
    • Top 3 reasons people unsubscribed from emails:
      • Too many emails from the company
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • Email overload – too many emails in general, cleaning out the clutter
  • Facebook
    • When fans no longer want information from a brand they previously “liked”, 43% of them go to the brand’s page and click “unlike, 38% click the “X” in their newsfeed to remove them from the wall and 19% just ignore the posts.
    • Top 3 reasons people “unliked” a brand on Facebook:
      • Too many posts – too much frequency can overwhelm users walls
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • They only “liked” the brand because of a promotion, discount or deal offered to fans, and “unliked” once they got what they wanted.
  • Twitter
    • Nearly half of consumers who created a Twitter account no longer use it with 52% saying they found Twitter to be pointless, 38% saying it became boring and 23% thinking that Twitter was too chaotic.
    • Top 3 reasons people stopped following a brand on Twitter:
      • Repetitive or boring content over time
      • Tweet stream became overloaded with marketing posts, wanted to clean up
      • Too many posts – too much frequency can overwhelm users tweet streams

Notice the striking similarity between why people unsubscribe, unlike and unfollow brands? While there are different strategies to employ for brand to get the most out of email, Facebook and Twitter, online consumers – across the board – seem to all be saying the same thing when it comes to ending their relationship with a brand’s digital initiatives: don’t talk too much and keep the content interesting.

Report No. 9: Mobile Dependence Day

The ninth report in the Subscribers, Fans and Followers series really focuses on our increasing dependence on our smartphones and other mobile devices. Even within the past year, the share of US consumers with smartphones (as opposed to feature phones) has grown dramatically. Here are some of the high points about what it means for interactive marketers:

  • 89% of US consumers 15+ own a cell phone. 41% of those have smartphones
    • Android: 33%
    • iPhone: 25%
    • Blackberry: 19%
    • Other: 23%
  • Smartphone’s Big 5 (the five most frequently used functions on today’s smartphones):
    • Phone Calls
    • Texting
    • Email
    • Internet
    • Facebook
  • How important is the smartphone to people who own and use one? Here is the percentage of people who would (if forced to choose) rather keep their smartphone than the following items:
    • Game Console: 72%
    • Dishwasher: 46%
    • Laptop: 40%
    • Microwave: 34%
    • Refrigerator: 13%
    • Car: 8%

The rest of the report gives recommendations of ways you can integrate your marketing efforts across all three communications channels and is definitely worth a read.

Have you looked through ExactTarget’s Subscribers, Fans and Followers series? What do you think about their findings?

Qdoba Gets Social Media and Marketing in This Economy

3 May

Qdoba Gets Social Media and Marketing in This Economy

I wrote about Qdoba’s (@QdobaMexGrillclever email marketing a while back, and after some recent positive experiences with Qdoba, I decided I’d blog about them again. First of all, I’m a big fan of Chipotle. There’s even a running joke with my in-laws about how much I love the gourmet burrito chain. That being said, I haven’t been going to Chipotle as often as I used to. Part of it is because the closest Chipotle to my house is 4 miles away and the closest one to me at work is probably 8-9 miles away. Another reason is that because of slow economy, I’m watching what I spend more closely than ever.

Here’s where Qdoba comes in. Not only are there two Qdoba locations within about 2 miles of my house, but Qdoba is constantly sending out coupons through their permission email channels. When they launched their Craft 2 menu item last spring, they sent several emails letting their subscribers know about their Qdoba Craft Your Life microsite, which allowed you to play a short game, and rewarded you with a coupon at the end. The coupon was anything from a free order of chips & queso with the purchase of an entrée to a free entrée with the purchase of a drink.

Last fall, Qdoba  launched a promotion, Food Lovers Fighting Burrito Boredom, which allowed customers to make their own entrée online – which they can spice up however they want – in order to help fight burrito boredom. Just like with the previous promotion, Qdoba allowed users to place once a day per email address and awarded them with a different coupon of varying worth. Though the coupon portion of the promotion is over now, Qdoba has kept the microsite alive to continue to educate their potential customers.

Although the US has started to see economic growth in the past few quarters, high gas prices threaten to dampen some of that growth for this summer. For a fast casual restaurant like Qdoba, they certainly don’t want to dilute their brand’s quality perception by focusing solely on coupons, but by creating innovate campaigns like this, Qdoba is showing that they understand the economy we’re in now and are trying to build up brand loyalty for when the economy rebounds and discounting isn’t as common.

In addition to their promotions, Qdoba is also doing a great job of creating real conversation and interacting with their customers (below is a tweet I sent out that they quickly replied to).

How To: Track All Your Traffic From Twitter

10 Jan

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sepblog/3542294246/At the most recent breakfast hosted by Indy Social Media, Douglas Karr of DK New Media talked about Analytics and Measurement of the Social Web (check out a UStream of Doug’s presentation here). It was a great presentation and the thing that stuck out to me the most was when Doug mentioned how inaccurate analytics software was when it comes to social referrals.

For the most part, by looking at your analytics software (I’ll use Google Analytics for example, since it’s what I use and it’s free), you can click on the Referring Sites section and see how many visitors came to your website from Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare and other social sites, but the real fly in the ointment is Twitter. You’ll see Twitter.com in your Referring Sites section, but it’s likely that you’re getting more visits from Twitter than just the ones you see.

The visits you see from Twitter.com are just that – they’re only visits made by people clicking on your link while looking at their Twitter accounts on Twitter.com. In fact, Mashable just reported that Twitter just announced that 40% of all tweets come from mobile devices – an astounding number. This only underscores the importance of making sure you can track all Twitter traffic accurately. Currently, you won’t see mobile or desktop applications like TweetDeck, HootSuite or Seesmic show up in your analytics data. So, there’s a large group of visitors that you may not be properly attributing to Twitter.

If you’re using Google Analytics to track your web stats, it’s actually pretty easy to begin capturing all of your referrals from Twitter. We’ll be using Google Analytics Campaign tracking codes to do this. The first thing to understand is what Google’s campaign parameters are and how to add them to your links. Below are the basic Campaign tracking parameters that we’ll use.

  • utm_campaign: Your campaign name
  • utm_source: The source for the link (HootSuite, TweetDeck, TwitterFeed, Email Newsletter)
  • utm_medium: Identify your medium (email, search, social media, twitter, facebook, etc.)

For example, if I wanted to point people to the Interviews section of Social Mediarology, I would post this link on Twitter from TweetDeck: http://socialmediarology.com/category/interviews/. But to more accurately track those visitors from Twitter I’ll append the following data to the URL above:

?utm_source=TweetDeck&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Interview

So the full link would look like this: http://socialmediarology.com/category/interviews/?utm_source=TweetDeck&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Interviews. Nice long URL, huh? Not to worry, your standard URL shortener will compress all that to a nice small URL to post to Twitter (http://bit.ly/fwzSam).

Now, next time you log into Google Analytics, look under Traffic Sources then Campaigns and you can search for all the campaigns you ran through Twitter and find out how many people clicked through. You can even have one Campaign with different links you post to Twitter, Facebook, Email and other mediums and all you have to change is the utm_medium or utm_source parameters.

The best part is you don’t have to remember how to add all the parameters to your links, just check out Google’s free URL Builder and it will create the URLs for you. In fact, if you use TwitterFeed to push your blog posts through to Twitter or HootSuite to manage your social media presence, you can set up their baked-in URL shorteners to automatically append analytics tracking data.

TwitterFeed:

Log in, and either create a new feed or edit an existing feed. On Step 2, you can add services to push your feeds to, add or edit one of your Twitter services to see the ability to add UTM Tags.

I really like the ease of using TwitterFeed because there are several options they allow and you can push your feed to multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts. The ability to add in custom tracking parameters is a real plus.

HootSuite:

HootSuite is just as easy. When you’re logged in, click in the box where you add a URL to shorten, Then click on the down arrow to the left of the Shrink button. Select Custom URL Parameters and you can fill out either one-time parameters or you can add parameters in as a default. Now these parameters will be added to the end of any link you shorten through HootSuite.

If you selected the Always apply when creating Ow.ly links box, the parameters will be appended to every link you create, so if you’re linking to external websites, they’ll see your tracking code on their site as well, but as long as it’s included on links to your site, that’s what really matters.

Hopefully this brief walk-through helps you to start tracking more of your visits from Twitter. Have you noticed that your referrals from Twitter didn’t look as strong as you expected them to?

Why You Should Use URL Shorteners

13 Dec

Bit.ly, Goo.gl, budurl.com, tinyurl.com. You’ve seen URL shorteners and in recent years, their popularity has exploded with the advent of Twitter and having to get a message across (with a link!) in less than 140 characters. TinyURL.com is one of the original URL shorteners and I used it years ago when trying to send Google Map directions to friends. In the past 18-24 months, the huge growth of Twitter has really fueled the growth of URL shorteners. Since Twitter only allows you to post 140 characters at a time, your URLs need to be as short as possible to leave room for messaging. Here are some features and drawbacks fromsom positives and negatives of some of the leading URL shorteners below:

Bit.ly URL ShortenerBit.ly:

Bit.ly is the most popular URL shortener online today, and for good reason. After bursting onto the scene just a few short years ago, Bit.ly has not been content to sit still for long. They took over as the default URL shortener on Twitter (until Twitter’s proprietary t.co shortener took over a few months ago) and they keep coming up with reasons for people to keep using them. From their easy to access and robust stats to their simple to use API to the inclusion of QR codes, Bit.ly makes using their service very easy.

Features:

  • One of the shortest URL shorteners. Since . The minimum length of a Bit.ly link is just 19 characters! That only takes up about 13% of your tweet (140).
  • Easy to view click stats: Simply add a + to the end of any Bit.ly URL (http://bit.ly/SocMedrlgy+). You can easily see how many clicks your link received and where those clicks are coming from.
    • The stats even show you how many times your link was retweeted and shared on Facebook.
  • Allows for easy customization of shortened URLs: (bit.ly/b4yn9p turns into http://bit.ly/SocMedrlgy) easily.
  • Allows for link bundling: Let’s say you’re sending 10 links to some coworkers to look at some research you’ve been doing. You can bundle those links into 1 bit.ly bundle link so you don’t have to copy and paste 10 different links to each person.
  • Bit.ly has a Pro option that is free and offers you the ability for your bit.ly links to be branded with your own custom shortened URL. For example, the New York Times uses nyti.ms, the Huffington Post uses huff.to. Just another way you can extend your brand and use a great URL shortener at the same time.
  • Robust API that allows you to integrate your Bit.ly account to shorten URLs in many social media management applications like TweetDeck and TwitterFeed.
  • Automatically creates a QR code: Bit.ly automatically creates a QR code for each and every shortened URL you create. This is hugely important as smartphones and QR codes are being used more each day.
    • Don’t know what QR codes are? Check out this good intro post for now. I’ll write up a post about QR codes soon too.

Shortfalls:

  • Honestly, one of the only reasons I could think to not use Bit.ly is if you’re already using HootSuite or another social media management application that doesn’t allow you to use a third-party URL shortener.

Google URL Shortener: Goo.glGoo.gl:

Goo.gl is one of the newer URL shorteners. They originally launched exclusively for shortening links to Google-owned properties like YouTube, Google Maps and others, but recently opened up to shorten any link.

Features:

  • One of the shortest URL shorteners. The minimum length of a Goo.gl link is just 19 characters! That only takes up about 13% of your tweet (140).
  • Easy to view click stats: Follows the Bit.ly model of showing stats for each link by adding a + to the end of the URL (http://goo.gl/VdKMa+). You can easily see how many clicks your link received and where those clicks are coming from.
  • Automatically creates a QR code: Just like Bit.ly (in fact, Bit.ly did it first), Goo.gl automatically creates a QR code for each and every shortened URL you create.

Shortfalls:

(more…)

Four On Friday: Social Media Recap

15 Oct

Check out these articles to see what you may have missed this week:

1: Facebook Introduces One-Time Passwords Via Text | PC Magazine

Social Mediarology thinks: For as much flak as Facebook has received lately for their lack concern for users’ privacy, this is yet another step in the right direction. Facebook also recently released the ability to log out of other locations remotely and this One-Time Password feature is just another way Facebook really is looking out for their members. If you’ve ever felt nervous about logging into Facebook on a public computer, this is a great way to check in on Facebook without the worry.

2: Klout Now Measures Your Influence on Facebook | Mashable

Social Mediarology thinks: Klout’s influence score has become one of few widely-recognized and respected Twitter influence scores on the web today. You’ll find Klout’s scores baked into Twitter clients like HootSuite. Klout’s foray into Facebook is interesting because while finding a definitive influence score for Twitter or Facebook is nearly impossible, it seems much more difficult to do so for Facebook, where there are many more variables to take into account that for Twitter.

3: Skype 5.0 Busts Out of Beta, Integrates Facebook Friends | Engadget

Social Mediarology thinks: There have been rumors for a few weeks about the integration of Skype and Facebook and half of the equation is now solved. With the 5.0 release of Skype, Windows users can log into Skype and bring all their Facebook friends with them. Then next step will be Facebook pulling Skype into their own chat application to create Skype-enabled text, audio and video chatting. While many businesses are starting to use Skype more and more, their integration with Facebook will bring more users to Skype.

4: URL Shortener Bit.ly Now Generates QR Codes | Mashable

Social Mediarology thinks: QR codes are gaining popularity with the advent of mobile apps that can easily scan this new style of barcode. Foursquare even allows users to scan a QR code that will check them in to a location. While QR codes are still in their infancy, they are becoming more common and Bit.ly has done themselves a great service by making QR code creation so simple (just append .qr to the end of a Bit.ly URL and they’ll display your QR code. Take a picture of the one above using a QR code scanning app on your mobile phone and it’ll redirect you to SocialMediarology.com.

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