How to Publish for Profit – on Social Media

Social Media spreads content like wildfire.

Promoting relevant and interesting posts to your pages, followers and communities on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can generate significant affiliate revenue, especially if these posts go viral.

Once you’ve mastered social media and set up a regular posting schedule you’ll be well on your way to building a regular income stream from fans, followers and friends.

 

Facebook

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Log on to your Facebook account and visit your home page. Once you are logged in and on your home page, move down to the window block where you can create a post. Write a short description with a Call to Action.

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Twitter files for an IPO

News out of America last week were that Twitter is filing an IPO in order to be listed on the stock exchange. The long expected process comes a year after the Facebook IPO that many called a failure despite the share trading $20 per share higher than the launch.

The company is looking to raise no less than $1 billion but could list anywhere up to $15 billion. Small change compared to Facebook but still a substantial amount.

Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chairman, holds 4.9% of the company’s stock, Evan Williams, the former CEO and fellow co-founder, holds 12%. Dick Costolo, CEO, holds 1.6%.

Twitter had 218.3 million monthly active users as of 30 June, an increase of 44% from the 151.4 million a year previously. However it warned that growth will slow. “We anticipate that our user growth rate will slow over time as the size of our user base increases,” the company said in its announcement.

Twitter’s revenues increased by 198% to $316.9m in 2012, according to the filing. But the company posted a $79.4m loss for the year and lost $128.3m in 2011. The company has been spending large sums in order to build up its service and said it intends to carry on spending after it has raised the new money.

We did learn some other interesting pieces of information about Twitter:

  1. In the six months that ended June 30, 2013, advertising revenue increased by 119 percent compared to the six months that ended the same time last year. The increase was primarily attributable to a 79 percent increase in timeline views in the six months running up to June 30, 2013, the company said, as well as increased demand from advertisers. That said, its revenue growth appears to be slowing, relatively speaking. In 2012, advertising revenue increased by 247 percent compared to 2011.
  2. In the three months that ended June 30, 2013, Twitter said more than 65 percent of its advertising revenue was generated from mobile devices. Three-quarters of its monthly active users accessed the service from mobile devices, it said, including mobile phones and tablets.
  3. Twitter generates some revenues by licensing access to its data but that’s nominal, it says. A full 85 percent of its revenues come from selling promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends.

When the stock does launch it will most likely be under “TWTR” although currently there is no time frame for the launch.

This might open new doors for online marketers the world over as the brand grows from strength to strength. There are many ways to make money online through Twitter and it is time for everyone to step up their game!


Facebook changes their competitions policy – How does it affect you?

Facebook’s new competitions policy

For years it’s been a widely accepted fact that in order to run a competition or promotion on Facebook you need to have a tab where the competition resides. This almost always means the development of a tab meaning added cost for advertisers and revenue for agencies. What do these changes mean for the digital industry and will we even notice a difference? According to the Facebook Blog:

  • We’ve removed the requirement that promotions on Facebook only be administered through apps

  • Now, promotions may be administered on Page Timelines and in apps on Facebook. For example, businesses can now:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post

  • Collect entries by having users message the Page

  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

So firstly the good: competitions are easier to setup. Now for the bad: competitions are easier to setup.

Here’s the potential bad: brands flooding their pages with competitions rather than content in order to increase likes. It’s a cheap way to grow a page and a relatively cheap trick. Since you’re no longer required to run your promotion through an app, promotions can simply be run on your page’s timeline. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each. For example, apps allow you to create a more customized experience, provide more space for content, and are able to collect participants’ data in a more secure, controlled way. On the other hand, running a promotion through your page is much faster and easier. In addition, by posting your promotion to your page’s timeline, your post will be displayed in the news feed of all your fans.

From a Facebook perspective this makes a lot of sense. Since its IPO, Facebook has been in a scramble to identify revenue sources, so it’s not a great leap of the imagination to see this as another method of focusing brands on collecting ‘Likes ‘and fans, which of course, Facebook can charge you to reach, and cross-sell to via ads.

Agencies aren’t going to be happy: they have historically charged for Facebook tabs and now this service will no longer be needed. It’s almost bound to lead to the death of tabs in the long run.

While this makes day-to-day account handling significantly easier, its long-term results may not be so useful.

UPDATE: It has opened up a whole new world of affiliate marketing offers that you can run. On Offerforge.com you will find top converting lead generation offers from Consumer Rewards, SA Consumer Short Competitions and SA Rewards to run. These types of affiliate offers appeal to a broad spectrum of South Africans as a result of the competition elements. It has been proven by a number of our affiliates that these can yield a decent income on popular Facebook pages.


Mobile usage of Facebook and Twitter keep growing

No turning back: mobile usage is taking over

When Facebook first listed of the stock exchange their share price took a pounding due to a general lack of mobile strategy. Things have changed and Facebook has massively embraced mobile adverts. Mobile usage is growing massively in developed nations and Africa is already way ahead of the pack.

In the US, a primarily “desktop first” market the growth of mobile is massive. eMarketer did a study recently on how mobile social media usage is growing:

US mobile phone twitter users and penetration

As we can see from the stats above the growth of mobile Twitter users is going to increase around five million users a year. If you take a look at the red line on the graph you can see total mobile phone social network users. The number as a percentage doesn’t change for the simple reason that there is such a massive growth in total mobile users.

The stats for Twitter pale in comparison to Mobile Facebook usage. In the US just shy of 100 million Americans will access their Facebook account via mobile phone at least monthly. Nearly all mobile social network users will use Facebook via mobile. The overall mobile Facebook population will increase by more than 50% between this year and 2017. In 2013, 99% of all people will access Facebook on their mobile.

US mobile usage stats: mobile phone facebook users and penetration

Local social media stats are completely skewed towards mobile. Here’s some stats from South Africa according to World Wide Worx on mobile usage:

  1. South Africa’s Twitter user base doubled this year, and Facebook is near saturation for connected SA consumers.
  2. Instagram use has shot up, closely tied to Twitter as consumers share photos across the platforms.
  3. Social bookmarking site use has plummeted, including Delicious, Digg, Friendfeed and StumbleUpon.
  4. LinkedIn remains on a slow but steady growth curve in SA, with 20% growth from 2012.
  5. Google Plus uptake has flattened in South Africa – at approximately 500,000 active users.
  6. Executives buy into social: lack of management understanding is a much smaller barrier to entry in 2013.
  7. Largest barrier to social media brand success remains effective time management of the channels.
  8. 58% of major SA brands are now utilising Youtube as a marketing and communications medium.
  9. Of SA’s biggest brands surveyed, 92% post at least once a week to their social profiles.
  10. 53% of social channels managed by marketing team; only 16% of brands outsource it to 3rd parties. The remaining 31% is handled by a mix of PR teams, individuals and other tactics. “It’s generally viewed as too strategic to outsource, or that 3rd parties [are] too remote to resolve customer issues,”.

If you aren’t pushing heavily into mobile you’re in for a long next few years. The largest shift in traffic in the digital space is to mobile usage and it is snowballing! There are countless opportunities for affiliate marketing professionals in the mobile market. More and more time is also being sent on social media using purely mobile devices.

The challenge to everyone in the digital marketing space is embracing this change and working with it. If you want to make sure that your lead generation campaigns are yielding proper returns, you need to go where your consumers are.

Consumers are constantly being bombarded with different forms of media. They have however all but cut out traditional advertising mediums (print, television ads, radio ads and billboards). Every owner of a smartphone spends a lot of time browsing and interacting with content on their mobile phones. The key to your future success with any lead generation campaigns, cost per sale campaigns and any affiliate marketing in general will probably rely heavily on how well you embrace mobile.


Are you obsessed with Facebook likes?

An obsession with Facebook likes isn’t healthy

We recently spent some time with a large client discussing social media strategy and noticed how there is still a massive focus on the amount of total Facebook likes of their page.

Of course it’s important to have a high level of likes and Twitter followers but this tends to lead to a massive issue with click fraud and the buying of followers. We’re seeing the growth of “click farms”:

  1. Brand engages social media agency (although no self-respecting social media I know would do this) which promises to craft a social media campaign that will rocket the brand’s social fan base.
  2. Social media agency decides that the most profitable way to do this work is to pay a click farm to provide fake likes.
  3. The click farm employs technological solutions, and people (who really need the money) to create thousands of fake profiles and generate even more fake likes, views and even comments.

As you can see it’s often companies posing as legitimate agencies that are guilty of such dubious behaviour. However, these sort of agencies only thrive in a landscape where a company is desperate for likes.

Other metrics on a Facebook page are vastly more useful than pure Facebook likes. For example you can see your contents reach and engagement easily. This information is vastly more useful in understanding your customers than an endorsement from a fake account in Lahore.

The big problem is that many brands still measure their success on social media by the number of likes or followers they have. Not by engagement, shares, and ultimately sales (none of which a fake click is going to get you). And while brands measure by likes, agencies will be tempted to buy them. Instead of buying fans, here are some tips to grow your base organically:

  1. Encourage people to take the first step. Give people a reason to ‘like’ your page, or view your video. Maybe there’s a competition, or a promise of exclusive content. Perhaps the selling point is being a member of an elite community.
  2. Encourage them to hang around and engage. Don’t limit exclusive offers to new fans. It’s not enough for someone to simple ‘like’ a page; they need to want to keep going back.
  3. Create compelling content. It sounds so obvious but really focusing on appropriate brand content works, whether it’s witty, visually appealing or just brightens someone’s day – sticky content works.
  4. Provide a strong set of community guidelines, or house rules, for fans to follow and enforce them. Moderate content to provide the safest and most welcoming environment you can. People won’t comment on a page if they think they’ll be laying themselves open to abuse or ridicule or if it’s peppered with spam.
  5. Use a community manager who’s already a brand advocate. If it’s a game brand, it helps if the person running the page knows the culture, and understands what people mean when they say they’re having trouble collecting enough Bells to pay off Tom Nook.
  6. Be ethical. It’s one thing to ask fans to behave in a respectful manner, but if they discovered that your brand had brought thousands of ‘likes’, if they started to wonder if the Harry Smith they were responding to was a real fan, or a fake, why would they have any reason to trust the brand?

Keep it real, listen to your customers and use social media to grow your business.

You will see far greater value when you look at the interaction rates you get from your customers. The Facebook likes can be as deceiving as high visitor numbers to a site. It is flattering, but not always an indicator of digital marketing success. By getting interaction from your customers (comments and shares) you are far more likely to enhance your brand’s reputation. This is also the stepping stone to generating leads or sales from your social media efforts.


Is your website senior friendly?

One only needs to look at Facebook stats to see that seniors (considered over 55) are becoming more and more common online. However, if you consider that these seniors have issues such as visual deficiencies and a general misunderstanding of how the web might work based on the fact that it’s still fairly new. A Nielsen’s study also showed that e-commerce sites could experience an increase of 35% conversation rate with seniors if they simply changed their sites to be senior friendly.

Today we’re looking at six tips to making your site a little more senior friendly, a useful idea if you’re aiming your product or service at a slightly older generation.

  • Increase the font size

Tiny fonts that make it difficult for people to comfortably take in the relevant information. Sites that target seniors should use at least 12-point fonts as a default and all sites should give people the option to increase the text size as desired. This is probably the most important and basic fact you can consider.

  • Size and spacing of hypertext links

Hypertext links are a necessary navigation tool but it’s important to use large text so that they can easily be seen and clicked. Make sure there is plenty of white space between the links and avoid clustering them too tightly. This helps to prevent erroneous links and HGH increases the speed at which users can navigate the site. That is unless you want to “accidentally” coerce them into clicking the links!

  • Use different colours to aid navigation

The Nielsen study showed that seniors easily lose track of where they’ve been when sites fail to use different colours to distinguish between visited links and those not visited. Interestingly this also affects younger users so is useful regardless of the age you’re targeting.

  • Simplify form filling

Seniors have a harder time using search engines and forms, and a greater number were thwarted by complex fields that are potentially vague such as a phone number layout.

  • Make error messages clear

This is probably a universal tip as well: simplicity is key, so make sure the message is obvious and clearly spells out exactly what the problem is and how to fix it.

  • Avoid major navigation changes

Site redesigns or re-branding are necessary to improve site usability and make sure your business stays up-to-date, however drastic design changes can have a major impact for seniors. Half of the seniors in the study said they keep a list of steps and instructions about how to use websites they need or often visit.

While these tips you might be wondering “why?” but the truth is that seniors make up over 56% of the internet. Can you afford to alienate them?

The good side-effects of a senior friendly site

You are likely to see an overall increase in lead generation or any other type of affiliate marketing you are running. Even though the approach would aimed at making life easier for seniors, you will be doing a lot to improve the user experience on your site.

There is a lot of effort that goes into generating traffic for a website, but with the right amount of effort, you can push your conversion rates to a whole new level.


Facebook moves into big data with their new ad technology

As part of his questions to analysts at last weeks Facebook Q1 2013 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg focused heavily on one theme: Facebook’s new Big Data capabilities.

For years the Facebook advertising play has been simple: take a subset of the 1 billion odd users and send advertising directly to them. However, for marketers to remain interested even more specific targeting is required

Here are some of Facebook’s new big data offerings

Launched new advertising products such as Lookalike Audiences, Managed Custom Audiences, and Partner Categories, which help marketers improve their targeting capabilities on Facebook.

Partnered with Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom, and BlueKai to enable marketers to incorporate off Facebook purchasing data in order to deliver more relevant ads to users.

Enhanced ability to measure advertiser ROI on digital media across the internet through our acquisition of the Atlas Advertising Suite.

The first two points underplay what Facebook is up to. Most people have no idea what Datalogix, Epsilon, Acxiom and Bluekai actually do. Insiders, however, know that Facebook alliances with these companies give it one of the most powerful consumer databases on the planet.

Epsilon has data on 300 million company loyalty card members worldwide, and a data-bank on 250 million consumers in the U.S.

Acxiom has “a comprehensive national database covering more than 126 million households and 190 million individuals.”

Datalogix says, “Our database contains more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data and we’re able to covert this data, and any CRM data, into an online universe.”

The data stored in these companies tends to be anonymized or “hashed.” They are not able to identify Jane Smith, shoe-shopper from Montclair, N.J., as an individual. But they are able to identify thousands of Janes who shop for shoes in any zip code you want, in aggregate.

All this is now paired with Facebook’s own data — profiles of 1 billion-plus users who are all happily documenting the minutiae of their lives, and their shopping, on Facebook.

These partnerships are great but the real meat in the Facebook plan is yet to even begin. Atlas is a gigantic internet ad server, previously owned by Microsoft. It’s like the plumbing of the web: It serves up ads all over the web and takes a cut from any advertiser using its services. Atlas carries between 10% and 15% of all ads for buyers on the web, according to LeadLedger. It is second in size only to Google’s DoubleClick ad server.

Most people have yet to digest that fact: Facebook is now the second biggest web ad server to Google. The deal closed recently, and Facebook has yet to report the revenue impact of Atlas in its own numbers.

A lot of people assumed that Facebook bought Atlas because it wanted to create an off-Facebook ad network, maybe one in which Facebook data could be used to enhance targeting through Atlas. But that’s not the primary goal for Atlas. Facebook has been quite clear about why it acquired Atlas from Microsoft: It wants the data Atlas can provide.

Ultimately Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be able to tell advertisers how their ads perform even when consumers are offline, and haven’t been anywhere near Facebook prior to going shopping:

In the conference call he was quoted as saying: “We believe the Atlas platform will help us demonstrate even more clearly the connection between ad impressions and purchases. We could help marketers measure the effectiveness of their ad impressions better not just on Facebook, but across the entire internet.”

Most ordinary Facebook users don’t realise how ambitious these plans are. If you bought something with a credit or debit card in the last couple of years, you’re probably in Facebook’s data pool right now.

As advertising technologists we can’t help but be excited and scared as human beings how much Facebook and Google know about us!


What the new Facebook phone means for ad data?

With the announcement last week of the upcoming Facebook phone and the ability to turn your Android device into a Facebook phone and make your device “people first”; (details here) the conversation about the phone took an inevitable turn to a discussion about mobile advertising and how this was Facebook’s attempt to muscle in on the mobile ad market.

htc-first-instagram

Facebook Home won’t come with ads when it launches April 12 … don’t get too comfortable though. When asked about advertising, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted saying “there are no ads in this yet. I’m sure at some point there will be.”

Where exactly will Facebook Home run ads? On the Cover Feed, according to early reports. The Cover Feed, to jump start your memory, is the full blown picture and status feed that takes up the entire screen once you’ve installed Facebook Home. So if photos are a core feature on Facebook Home, you can expect that likewise full ads will probably be swipe-able and take up the entire home screen. Of course there are many ways to be creative with advertising on Cover Feed, which Facebook is likely quite aware of already.

This is scary and exciting at the same time.

Robin Grant, global managing director of We Are Social, said cover feeds “could offer an opportunity for News Feed advertising at a premium over Facebook’s existing offering.”

Additionally, he said that “Facebook Home could be the holy grail of mobile advertising. Aside from mobile operators, no other company is able to keep track of a consumer’s location at all times—which, privacy settings permitting, Facebook could now do with Home. And the new in-build chat heads and notifications features provide a potential mechanism to allow location-based ads to appear in a relatively unobtrusive way—something mobile operators [can’t offer]. If Facebook can use this to deliver location relevant and timely commercial messages to consumers, it will effectively give Facebook a license to print money, their long sought-after equivalent of Google’s AdWords.”

For us this seems like a step in the right direction for mobile advertising. Current networks such as Google’s Admob allow you to target a specific game, say for example, Angry Birds and you can make assumptions on the type of person playing that game however you can’t really know who is using a device. With Facebook eventually pushing advertising on their mobile platform they’ll know where you are, what you do and how often and this actually means better adverts rather than the traditional “spray and pray” assumptions. If anything, this is going to help the industry grow.


Are Facebook ads better than TV campaigns?

Recently there’s been a debate over whether Facebook ads are more effective than traditional TV adverts. Apparently Facebook is now “on a par with TV” when it comes to effective advertising, but the return on investment is far better, claim FMCG brands that have used the social networking site.

Nestlé said it could directly attribute 11% of Kit Kat sales to its Facebook ads following a recent cross-media channel campaign.

Facebook delivered the highest return on investment, generating £1.34 in return for every £1 invested, it said, adding that it was the best medium for “brand impact and overall brand equity, compared to other online channels and television advertising”. Immediately it’s obvious that the simple measurability makes the Facebook option a better choice for marketers.

General Mills also ran a cross-channel campaign to promote Old El Paso products. Some 27% of sales during the push were down to Facebook and it was “the most efficient channel for driving sales”, it said.

According to a Samsung campaign: The data indicated an average three- to five-time return on Facebook ads. An ad campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, amid the iPhone 5 frenzy, resulted in an even larger return on investment. The three-week campaign reached over 105 million unique users, and generated $129 million in sales, a 13-times return on a $10 million ad buy, she said. Samsung now has more than 20 million fans on Facebook to market its messages.

The situation isn’t that simple though: ads on TV are more intrusive and offer instant audio-visual impact, as compared to Facebook ads which initially appear to be more like static print ads. While TV ads can be fast-forwarded, ads on Facebook can be equally ignored.

Facebook’s global head of CPG marketing Erin Hunter added: “As a marketer I would want to reach as many people as possible in a well-targeted fashion and in a mass way. Facebook absolutely excels at that, because of the number of people we have, but also because we know exactly who they are.”

At OfferForge we recommend you combine a wide range of online adverts including PPC and Facebook in order to spread your costs and maximise your ROI.

Digital marketing offers publishers and advertisers a huge variety of channels. Diversifying the digital channels you use has a number of benefits. The first and most obvious is that you have analytical data for each channel. The more data you have, the better you would be able to make business decisions on where you spend your marketing budget.

The data is often available in real time and this enables you to make changes on the fly. The second serious benefit digital marketing offers is that it is very low cost when compared to many other more traditional forms of advertising. You would be able to test numerous channels without breaking the bank.


Facebook purchases Microsoft’s Atlas ad server

With Google’s dominance of the online advertising market the likes of Facebook need any technological advantage in order to compete.

Facebook and Microsoft have indeed announced plans for the acquisition of Microsoft’s Atlas ad server to Facebook. The rumors have been flowing for a few months now and with Facebook wanting to bolster its advertising prowess, this acquisition isn’t too crazy.

Facebook logo

Microsoft acquired Atlas Solutions back in 2007 as part of its purchase of aQuantive for $6 billion. Microsoft was apparently interested in offloading the property, and Facebook was interested in buying it. Atlas Solutions offers a suite of tools for marketers to serve, track, and measure digital ad campaigns. It delivers billions of impressions every day across multiple channels.

For them this makes perfect sense will help advertisers keep track of their ads on the social network, as well as what sort of returns they are getting with them. Facebook says that marketers have been struggling to understand how their efforts across different channels complement and strengthen each other. This results in marketers adopting siloed marketing strategies for each channel, leading to poor and inconsistent end-user experiences.

They plan to improve Atlas’s capabilities and they want to enhance the current tools available to advertisers on both desktop and mobile. Facebook’s end goal is to make Atlas the most effective, intuitive, and powerful ad serving, management and measurement platform in the industry.

Both Facebook and Microsoft want to remain competitive against Google’s dominance in the ad-space. Microsoft is, in a sense, offloading the responsibility to Facebook, which will be better able to capitalize on advertising opportunities with its own network. E-marketer projects that Facebook will bring in nearly $2.7 billion in display advertising in 2013, as compared to Google’s $3.2 billion.

We eagerly await a response from Google!