Tag Archives: google+

6 Of The Best Free Social Media Analytical Tools

Magnifying glass in a handThere are many ways of analysing your social media accounts so we’ve decided to write a post offering some insider insight into the most popular ones whilst also shedding some light on the lesser known ones that are also free and do a pretty good job.

Many of these tools vary from being great ways of working out when to post onto your social media channels to analysing the quality of your current followers/fans.

  1. Twitter Audit – So first to Twitter Audit, This is quite a small offering in terms of information gained but very effective in getting a general idea of how many of your followers are fake and how many are real. The interface is modern, simple and easy to use, you simply enter your Twitter handle and you’re away.
  2. Tweepi – Tweepi is a great tool to use after using Twitter Audit as it enables you to wean out those fake followers notably the ones whose last tweet is listed as ‘unknown/never’ or hasn’t tweeted in years. The site gives you good insight into the quality of your followers; how many followers they have and when they last tweeted, as well as options to add them to one of your lists or unfollow them. You can also do many additional options but as part of a premium plan. Sign up or login via a Twitter account that you are already logged in with.
  3. Google Analytics – This one of course you probably already know about but do you really make good use of it? This is a really insightful tool especially for small business owners who tend to do most of the senior jobs themselves. Free to use, and once set up properly you would be able to analyse the quality of traffic coming to your website via your social media channels through the use of demographics, locations, times of day, bounce rate, click throughs and much more.
  4. Facebook Insights – Again, another tool that you probably know about and is fantastic when looked at properly; It shows you when your fans are more likely to be on Facebook so it tells you the most effective time to post. Also, a summary of your posts and the engagement it received so ultimately you can see at a glance which ones were more successful. Of course, you can see a bit more on the demographics of your audience and where they are located in addition to a lot of other bits and pieces.
  5. Twitter Analytics – Only recently have Twitter put a greater focus on analytics. Once signed in and from your Tweets page you can hover over the faded graph symbol inside each tweet to view the level of engagement; how many times a tweet has been viewed and how people have engaged; whether through Retweets, Favourites, Link Clicks.
  6. Tweetstats – This tool, although the website looks slightly suspicious, is actually a good egg and a great way of analysing other peoples accounts ie. Your competitors. Enter the twitter handle you want to analyse and wait whilst the ‘faeries work their magic’ then through the use of  lots of small but brightly coloured graphs and hashtag clouds you can see when the account is most active, what days, times and who with as well as hashtags that are most commonly used.

We hope you found this insight helpful. If there are any free tools you’ve found that you find really work for you share the knowledge and let us know in the comments below or tweet us! @carvillcreative

How To Choose Your Social Media Channels Wisely

social media channelsOnce your business has made a decision to jump on the social media bandwagon, the next decision is to decide upon what channels to use and how much time do you want to spend posting, tweeting, pinning, cricling, creating or following?

When making these decisions, businesses often make the mistake of signing up to all the most popular networks, hoping to have a business impact by reaching the right customers straight away. The reality is that it’s virtually impossible to do them all – or at least do them all well.

Businesses that do try, often go in all guns blazing, then after a week or two, due to the lack of responses to their online activities, the use of social media channels by that business rapidly dwindles – and they’ll often end up with a Facebook page with a couple of half-hearted posts on them, or Twitter feed with the latest tweets being 6 months old. This end result can actually be more damaging to your business than not having any social network presence at all.

The one piece of advice we can give you is to choose your channels wisely – don’t try to be everywhere! The important thing you need to figure out is which channels are dominant for your market.

In social media, it’s about quality, not just quantity. Doing two or three channels really well with consistent, highly engaging content is what will lead to conversion and customers.

Here are a few ways to come to the conclusion about the right social media channels for you:

  • Where does your business sit in the social media space?
  • Are you aiming to build a community presence? If so then Facebook, Twitter and Google+ could be for you.
  • Does your business use a lot of images? If so then perhaps Instagram or Pinterest is the way to go.
  • If you’re a business can provide professional and useful insights for others within your industry then get yourselves on LinkedIn.
  • Think about your target audience – where is your target buyer and what channels are they using?
  • Have a look at your competitors – what channels are they using? Are they doing well on social?
  • Do you have time to be working on all the social media sites? How many channels do you think you can do really well on?
  • Have a clear social media strategy in place – then you can work out a plan that you can realistically implement.
  • Keep in mind that social media takes time, especially if you want to build up a reputation – so don’t get frustrated if you’re not getting instant results.

It’s very important that you choose the right channel or channels from the outset and it’s equally important that you do not get distracted in trying to support your profiles on those channels.

Whichever social networks you choose to use, be prepared to sufficiently resource the activity – this will take some time, skills and prompt responses to build up the right social network for your business. Once you’ve learnt how to master one or two channels to begin with, you can than progress to the next one.

You’ll be surprised at how much time an effective social media presences takes up – so don’t overburden yourself initially, as that is a guaranteed recipe for failure.

Google Remove G+ Photos From Google Authorship

Just recently, Google decided to remove the Google Plus photos from their Google Authorship feature.

now g authorship

This bit of news has been a shock to many – and the big question is why – why would Google kill a feature that is meant to help make our valuable content stand out?

Google authorship is a handy tool which add some unique information to your content when it pops up in search results, including your picture and the number of followers you have.

Since Google Authorship was implemented, we’ve seen a number of eye tracking studies which additional attention is given to search result articles which display the Google+ photo feature.

We’ve also seen a number countless articles of research that shows results saying that those with Google authorship photos have higher click through rates than those that don’t.

The fact that Google have decided to take this differentiating factor away from us has definitely stirred up mixed feelings amongst content creators.

Not only has Google announced that they will be removing profile photos, but they will also be removing the circle count from search results too.

BUT Why?

Google is constantly changing the way they display their search results with the aim of becoming more and more indistinguishable from natural results.

The reason for this change is to create a more consistent look across all devices and create a simpler and less cluttered design. Google are trying to enhance their overall appearance of search results on mobile devices.  In other words, picture and follower counts were cluttering up prime real estate on Google searches.

However they’ve said that the new layout won’t affect click through rates as the new layout will be similar to the SERPS (search engine results pages) that included author photos.

So Will Google Authorship Still Be Worth It?

Having an image show up in search results was certainly one of the most compelling reasons for using authorship. Now that the feature has gone, some may think fewer people will take the time to set it up – but should we abandon it?

The answer is no!

Your sign off line will still appear in search results and even though it won’t be as attention grabbing as your image, there is no downside to having your Google profile associated with your blogs and articles – it can still make a difference in your website traffic. Especially if you are an authority in a particular subject, then it’s still useful to have your name displayed in search results.

Also – it’s another way of letting Google know that you exist – and Google stresses the importance of businesses showcasing their authority on certain topics.

Although Google’s actions have created a great deal of debate online – despite the changes, it is still best for companies to keep creating quality content and making the most of the benefits that Google Authorship still provides to us.

What are your thoughts about the new changes? Leave comments below to tell us your thoughts or tweet us at @carvillcreative

This blog post was brought to you by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative, the online visibility experts and author of The Business of Being Social – A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn for all Businesses.

If you need any help with your social media activity, blogging or creating content or any other digital marketing services, then do get in touch with us.

Video – The Most Consumed Media Online! What’s Your Video Strategy?

I went over to Google’s St Giles office yesterday to talk YouTube, video and content strategy.

Of course, when training for Business Training Made Simple, video content and YouTube (and Vine, Instagram and other channels) are covered as part of video content as part of our social media training courses.

This means our knowledge of YouTube (the second largest search engine in the world) – has to be right up to date.

Having met with the team at Google to talk about the latest advertising trends and opportunities available – it was good to hear stats we regularly share in our training straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak).

So here’s a reminder of the latest online video consumption and YouTube stats to keep you up to date too:

  • 5% of our time online is spent in ‘search’ (ie: usually searching something on Google).
  • This means a whopping 95% of our time is not spent searching – but instead, browsing, watching, emailing, being social.
  • If your strategy is to dominate search – then that’s considering only 5% of the time spent online.  To pervade other areas – your ad strategy – or content strategy should consider other vehicles (eg: YouTube and other  social networks).
  • 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
  • Consumption of content and video via mobile is growing at 84% – much quicker than any other platform.
  • The average length of a video (of all the millions of videos online) is 3 mins and 8 seconds.  However, we know people drop off after 30 seconds, 60 seconds etc – so endeavour to keep your messages succinct. That said, if you have something worth watching – people will watch.
  • Ensure the first 5 seconds of your video are the most compelling and engaging. Decisions to continue watching are made in the first 5 seconds so be sure to bring your great content to the fore and not to bury it 50 seconds in.
  • 54% of consumers research online before they buy online.  (Personally, I would say this is higher but I’m not going to argue with the mightly ComScore).
  • YouTube has 28 million monthly users which puts it on a par with TV Channels Dave and E4.

It’s worth doing some research in YouTube to see what your competitors are up to – or indeed, just type in your keywords and see what comes up.  This simple research phase is important in understanding the content that is already out there, the quality of it – and indeed any gaps you can fill.

Be sure to be objective with your video content.  Our mantra is that you consider what matters for the audience.  What’s compelling, entertaining, educational, useful and purposeful for them.

Think about pain points – frequently asked questions – what is it that you have that can fix problems for others.  Showcasing this in a visual way can provide far more insight into your product that listing out features and benefits.  And of course – think about the power of advocacy.  If you say it – does the audience believe it – if you get one of your customers to say it – then that’s likely to be far more convincing.   Testimonial videos speak volumes.

As we say, ‘if you sell someone something they may remember you again – but if you teach someone something, then you are building trust and share of mind.

As with everything you do – Plan, Listen, Analyse before you Engage.  Do the research, understand what the objective of your video content strategy is – and then start to plan and build the content in line with key objectives.

This blog post was brought to you by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative, the online visibility experts and author of The Business of Being Social – A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn for all Businesses.

If you need any help with your social media activity, blogging or creating content or any other digital marketing services, then do get in touch with us.

Google+ for Business – Step by Step Guide to Set Up and Getting Started

Google+ is arguably one of the most important social networks for both businesses and marketers – it’s something you need to embrace if you haven’t already done so.

Having a Google+ profile is something that should be integral to your content focused SEO strategy and if you haven’t already been persuaded to create your Google+ profile, then we sure you  will be after reading this article.  This article sets out to provide you with a basic overview of what it is and how to get started – and highlights some of the key benefits for your business.

So let’s start off with the basics…

A Google+ page is your business’s home on Google; it’s literally Google with a plus. And as a business, you’ll want to get your brand on here – because it isn’t just a social network, it’s part of a powerful search and social platform that integrates with key capabilities such as Google Docs, chat, hangouts, email and more!

Many of us share the common misconception that Google+ is a ghost town. In reality, Google+ has over 359 million active users and is home to vibrant, active communities that foster deep engagement.

What’s key is learning what the Google features are, and taking advantage of them – but before we help you with that, you need to know how to set it up and make your Google+ Business Page user friendly.

How to set up your Google+ Business Page:  

It’s very simple to set up a Google+ Business Page, but remember this has to be done via a personal Google+ account – if you haven’t set up a personal page yet then you can do it here. If you already have a gmail address – then you already have a G+ account – it’s just that you haven’t done anything with it. So login to Google using your gmail address and you will see the G+ option. Fill out the relevant info – and then you’re in.

Once you’ve created your personal profile, you can then create a business page – do this by clicking on the pages icon from the left hand navigation. Then by following a few simple steps, Google will walk you through picking a business category, followed by completing a few details about your business e.g. company name, picture, town and contact details.

How to create a new Google+ page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to grips with Google+:

  • Now that you’ve got your page set up, it’s time to explore the ways you can customise it. Recently, Google updated the platform to give businesses the opportunity to put large header images on business pages – a great chance to use it as a ‘shop window’ to promote your brand/business/products or team.
  • Like any kind of social media activity, patience is key. Don’t expect to gain new followers and customers overnight. You need to promote your page as much as you can: perhaps with discreet mentions using the ‘+’ before a name when you are sharing a post or status update on Google+ or by adding URL links to stationery and business cards, and use your existing social networks to encourage Google+ engagement (as well as your website of course!)
  • Google+ is all about community, and the pages that do well are the ones that respond to shares, +1s and comments. Don’t ignore reactions to your posts – if somebody likes your post and shares it, remember to go back and thank them! Keep an eye out on your +1s too, these are a popularity ranking signal for SEO – and are equivalent to the number of ‘Likes’ on your Facebook Page. Ensure you add the +1 widget to your website pages and content – so that you make it easy for people to ‘like’ your content.
  • Photos, videos and articles go down well on Google+ so if you have a blog, make sure that you update it regularly, and use this platform to promote it as well as other interesting articles and content.

Take advantage of the Google+ features for your business:

For those of you wondering why your business needs to be Google+ – take a look at some of the strictly Google+ features (you won’t find these on any other social network):

  • Circle People

Like Twitter this feature allows you to follow people, but with the added bonus of being able to put the people you follow into groups – therefore you can group followers according to interest or any other criteria you’d wish to assign.

The people you circle will get a notification of you doing so, and are likely to follow your account back. This is a great way to closely target different interest groups, communities and conversations that matter to you.  You can then communication a message just to a particular segment – so really useful for targeted messages.

How to create circles on Google

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Google Reviews

Google reviews are important as they are a large contributing factor to your business’s ranking in search results. When someone writes a review on Google+ they can create a simple rating using a star system.  These stars have great ‘eye-catching’ potential as well as increasing your click through rate. Once someone writes a review, it gets shared with their friends (people in their Google Plus ‘Circles’) – therefore giving your business more visibility.

If you don’t have Google+ reviews and a competitor does, they will likely rank higher than you when customers search for your services. So make sure you’re getting your customers to hit that pencil on your Google+ Page and give their feedback about your business.

Google+ review

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Google Hangouts

Looking to share knowledge or obtain feedback? Try a Google Hangout! Hangouts allow you to schedule online group events such as live Q&A sessions that allow multiple people to participate (think of it like a giant chartroom that you can control).

There are two different types of Hangouts: Hangouts and Hangouts on Air

– Hangouts are typically used for private video chats with another person or group of people. They are not recorded to YouTube and only visible to the people you invite to them – you can invite individuals or circles to join the hangout and up to 10 people can be on at a time.

– Hangouts on Air are publicly viewable and automatically recorded to your YouTube channel associated with your G+ account. Your broadcast will be viewable by the public once you click ‘Start broadcast’ from within the Hangout on Air – and the number of viewers watching your broadcast will be displayed at the top of the video call window.

These are great fun and very useful to showcase your business – just be sure not to make the same mistake we did on our first Google Hangout !  And remember, you can record Hangouts – so you are creating a great piece of content which you can then share on other platforms or via your website or blog too.

  • Google+ Influences Search Rankings

Have you seen those +1s about when searching though Google+ pages? Shares or +1s of Google+ posts act like social recommendations that influence what searches see in Google when they log in.

After you have created a Google+ page – people are able to +1 your page which is essentially the same as a Facebook ‘Like’. Google uses the number of +1s on your page to determine how popular your business/brand is.  This all helps to push your content up through the rankings.

  • Google Posts get Indexed

This is a great thing about Google plus – having your posts indexed immediately into search results. Everything you post including all status updates are indexed pretty much immediately into search results which increases the possibility that your Google+ network will see your content in their search results.

Tip: To optimise you Google+ posts – use the appropriate keywords and don’t forget to create tags using the ‘#’ before your keyword.

  • Google Authorship – an emerging SEO Ranking Signal

Google+ is a critical component of Google Authorship which is increasingly being used as a ranking signal. Think back to when you search in Google – do you ever wonder why some people’s faces show up in search results alongside a link? How do they do that?

Well, the answer is through Google Authorship! This allows your photo (the photo which is on your Google+ page) to appear directly in search engine results next to your page title – creating a visual element that naturally attracts searchers to your website.

Authorship allows you to link your content across the Internet, letting Google know what content you have created and that it originates from you. The more quality content you publish and the more it’s shared, the more positively Google will regard you -therefore boosting your Author Rank.

How Google Authorship works

 

 

 

 

 

  • Google Communities

The newly launched Google+ communities, gives your customers a place to mingle with each other about your products. It allows you to create, or participate in, focused groups of both individuals and companies who share a particular interest – these communities can be made public or private to invited members.

You can participate in them using your personal profile or your business page—an option you won’t find on any other social network. This means that you can build your business’ authority on a particular topic within communities as well as creating trust and getting direct feedback from customers.

  • Embedded Posts:

While this isn’t an entirely ground-breaking move by Google (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all already done it), for Google+ enthusiasts, it’s big. With this update, website owners can now take any public Google+ post—whether a photo, text, or media—and add it directly onto their web pages.

What does this mean? This update will give anyone who produces content on Google+ a lot more opportunity to expand their audiences across the web. Think about it this way: a journalist can now stumble upon your personal or business update on Google+ and plug it right into a story.

Don’t forget to make the most of Google’s newest feature – Google+ Custom URLs which are short, easy to remember web addresses that link directly to your Google+ page. They make it easier for you to connect with others, as well as promoting your content. Once you’ve set up your Google+ page you can check here to see if your profile meets the criteria to carry out this feature.

So looking back, not only does Google+ increase authority and influence of your company, brand and boosts your search rankings – but it also offers some very cool features for you to take advantage of!

Have we persuaded you to get your business on Google?

In our view, Google+ will continue to go from strength to strength and its influence will continue to grow in the social media marketing arena. From the community itself, to the ability to write keyword rich content that links back to your sites – there are definitely some search and social advantages of being active on Google+. So don’t miss out and get your business involved!

This blog post was brought to you by Michelle Carvill, founder of Carvill Creative, the online visibility experts and author of The Business of Being Social – A Practical Guide to Harnessing the Power of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn for all Businesses.

Have you signed up for Google Authorship yet?

Google Authorship is a simple yet not very exploited concept to assist with online visibility of your content and your business.

What is Google Authorship?

Think back to when you search in Google – do you ever wonder why some people’s faces show up in search results alongside the link? How do they do that?

 

 

 

 

 

Well, the answer is through Google Authorship! This allows your photo (the photo which is on your Google+ page) to appear directly in search engine results next to your page title – creating a visual element that naturally attracts searchers to your website.

The point of Google Authorship is to link an author’s work to his or her Google+ profile – therefore verifying it authenticity. This service helps content author’s to build an advantage over their competitors – not only does it establish credibility as an author, but it can have a very positive impact on search engine optimisation.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways Google Authorship helps:

  • Build a Reputation

Google Authorship puts your name on the map and on your content in general. Through having your content verified as the official author, you’re building your reputation as an industry expert and spreading your company’s name too.

Tip: the more relevant, unique content you produce, the higher your ranking will become.

  • Stand Out in Search Results

By attaching your name and face to your content, you’re providing readers with a higher level of trust and confidence in your work. And when people trust you, they’re more likely to want to find out more.

With Google Authorship – it increases your chances of building your reader base through organic search results. Adding this human element will help promote more personal interactions between you and your audience – and searchers are much more likely to click on an article that has the author’s image associated with it.

  • Higher Click through Rates.

This is without a doubt the main advantage of Google Authorship – it’s designed to increase traffic to your website by increasing click through rates (research by Search Engine land identifies reports of authorship increasing click through rates by 30% to 150% or more!)– therefore making them stand out from other search engine results!

Studies have shown that the eye is first drawn to the image, then to the heading (which is also why writing a compelling headline is so important). Therefore not only will your blog stand out more in the search results, but will give off an air of authority!

Every day, more and more businesses are taking advantage of Google Authorship to enrich their online presence. So, if your company is not currently utilising Google Authorship – then you might want to start considering it!

Remember – anonymous authorship does nothing for your business. And eventually you’re going to want to put your name to all of the content that you’ve produced!

By Michelle Carvill

Google+ and Me

For the past couple of weeks now I’ve been watching the furore around the launch of the latest social network to his the scene, Google+ …

I’ve read extensively and viewed a range of opinion via articles from key social influencers such as @mashable,@michaelstelzner,@hubspot and many more. Lots of articles around the questions: “Will it  take over Facebook”“What’s the purpose of Google+”?Google+ and michelle carvill

And many responses around  “It’s all about humanising the Google search – and winning the ‘feelings’ of the user in a noise saturated world”.  “It’s making social make sense rather than be an endless stream of noise”. Etc…

There are indeed many other conversation themes around Google+, but the Facebook war and ‘friendly and purposeful’ ones seem to frequently recur.

Targeted Marketing

As a marketer – my mantra is, the more targeted the marketing, the better.

And so, from a marketing perspective, Google+ offers the advantage of helping users to do this.

Effectively, each ‘circle’ is a segment – and you can segment your ‘contacts’ as you wish.  Much the same as you do with a Twitter list – but at the moment, that Twitter list feature only enables you to view rather than communicate into that segment.

So…Is Twitter missing a trick?

In my humble opinion the Twitter List is currently more comparable to Google+ than Facebook

Most of the articles I’ve read focus on a Google+ and Facebook war. However, really, all Twitter has to do is make the ‘Twitter list’ (a list where you can segment those you follow into specific lists to review only their particular content … er a Google Circle) – interactive – et voila, the need for active Twitterers to transfer everything into Google+ is really eradicated.

If the Twitter list enabled the user to very simply target messages into a specific list – and for conversations to remain targeted (rather than having to set up separate Twitter accounts for such targeted conversation each time) – then perhaps Twitter, probably the simplest communication channel, could become the bigger threat to Google+ over Facebook.

Setting up your networks online takes a fair bit of time. My followers and those I am following on Twitter has taken over a year to cultivate and fine tune – and I endeavour to I keep followers and conversations as ‘targeted’ and purposeful as possible. And it’s an ongoing process. Therefore, the thought of starting again, with a new platform doesn’t fill me with delight. However, if Google+ for business makes it seamless – then no doubt I’ll explore.

Autonomy is interesting

I’ve opened an account on Google+ and  I saw very evidently how to bring in  hotmail or yahoo email contacts.  I don’t have either of these email accounts for serious contact management. I watched a video about downloading all email contacts into CSV and then uploading them, but the button wouldn’t enable, so I’m sure that’s going to follow.

So… I started searching for people – and found a few. I like the fact that I can bring them into a circle but they don’t know the name of that circle. Or who else is in that circle – so it’s a bit of a ‘strange’ way to build a targeted community’ – again, it’s more a case of building a targeted list – (er – back to Twitter).

To create ‘specific targeted spaces to collaborate’ – I’ve been using www.bizzbug.com for years. With Bizzbug you create ‘social spaces’ for a specific purpose. You can invite one person or thousands of people to a space – and it can have its own forum, blog, folders, events, calenders.  Almost like a closed LinkedIn group – but the permissions are far greater and the folders element means that entire projects can be managed and stored forever.  (Incredibly time saving, particularly when many users on the project need to view the same material from different locations).   So – I suppose when I’m viewing Google+, I’m also thinking… I already have a solution to autonomous collaboration that works excellently, thank you.

Cultivating Contacts

It would have been useful to have a function to bring across my Twitter, Twitter lists, Facebook Page and LinkedIn contacts so I could segment them into circles.  And perhaps this is going to be a feature of the much awaited ‘Google+ for Business’  However, from the video I watched about what Google+ for Business was going to enable, it focused more about integrating the platform with other business Google products such as Adwords and Analytics – so we’ll have to see.

If the objective of Google+ is to create one dashboard that offers multi-channel management – to eradicate the need for other networks and centralise social networking – then there’s still much to do.

However, it’s a long game and if anyone is resourced to do it – then Google is. And I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on how Google+ and Google+ for Business develops.

So… what say you? Any views, new or ideas about Google+. Any Google+ tips to share ?

@Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative – the online visibility experts. A digital marketing and design agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of online visibility – covering social media marketing and social media training, user focused website planning and conversion focused website design.

For marketing and social media advice – view the Carvill Creative Blog