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Steer clear of these 15 social media mistakes

Ragan

Social media is the most popular online activity, so it makes perfect sense for businesses to want to tap into it to increase sales. More than 90 percent of businesses use social media.

But simply opening an account or sending out some tweets is not enough to make social media platforms a viable and profitable part of your marketing strategy. By avoiding some missteps, businesses have the ability to increase their return on investment (ROI) and create more opportunities from social media accounts.

Avoid these mistakes:

1. Not having a strategy.

Less than 20 percent of businesses say their social media strategy is mature. Social media users are constantly inundated with information and messages. Businesses that don’t have a social media marketing strategy won’t ever cut through the clutter and deliver an effective message to their target audiences.

Creating a strategy includes having distinct and measurable goals, developing a clear social media policy, thinking through a brand’s social media voice and planning out a content calendar with end goals in mind. Without a clear strategy, businesses could create the best content on the Web but receive little to no engagement.

2. Not integrating with other digital assets.

Social media works best when you integrate it with other digital marketing efforts. One mistake many businesses make is to leave their social media accounts on islands. Not only should you link the accounts together, but tie them directly to websites, emails and paid search advertising campaigns.

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The beginner’s guide to measuring social media ROI

Ragan

For a marketer, return on investment defines a campaign’s success, and many executives demand hard numbers.

According to a study of marketing expertsperformed by Domo, however, three out of four marketing experts can’t measure social media ROI.

Let’s look at the basic yet vital aspects of social media marketing ROI.

1. ‘Likes’ and follows: Measuring engagement

The simplest way to gauge social media ROI involves counting followers on Twitter, your “likes” on Facebook, and consumer affiliations on all your other social media sites.

Keeping a spreadsheet to track social media conversions (followers, “likes,” etc.) gives you data to show that your campaign delivered X new social media connections. Facebook shares and Twitter retweets are also vital to documenting a campaign’s success.

Simple tools like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics help you track a specific post’s success, pinpointing customers’ response to particular types of content.

To measure the success of a given keyword, hashtag, or unique topic, try Brandwatch, GroSocial, and Keyhole. They explain trends on social networks for the keywords you enter.

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Survey finds teens still tiring of Facebook, prefer Instagram

CNET

Internet analysts at Piper Jaffray have both good news and bad news for the world’s largest social network: Teens continue to lose interest in Facebook but are showing an increasing appetite for Instagram, a Facebook property.

The mixed-bag news comes from the investment bank and asset management firm’s semi-annual survey of upper-income and average-income teens in the US. Piper Jaffray’s spring 2014 report Taking Stock With Teens, published Tuesday, surveyed around 5,000 teens, and includes findings spanning fashion, video games, Apple products, and social networks.

“We saw Instagram take the mantle for the most preferred social teen site,” Piper Jaffray senior analyst and managing director Gene Munster said.

Thirty percent of surveyed teens chose Instagram as their most important social network, making it the top social property for youngsters for the first time in the history of the survey.

“Just to recap the changes over the last six months,” Munster said, “interest level in Facebook went from 27 [percent] to 23 [percent], Twitter 31 [percent] to 27 [percent], Instagram 27 [percent] to 30 [percent].”

Just one year ago, Facebook was the preferred social network for roughly 33 percent of teens, marking a relatively steep decline in interest from an important audience in a short amount of time. The report, then, adds to a mounting pile of evidence suggesting that teens, in search of a more fun zone, are tiring of Facebook.

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Twitter’s Vine Introduces Direct Video Messaging

TechCrunch

Twitter’s Vine has introduced a feature that allows you to message other users directly via video. This adds both a direct messaging channel and video clips to its messages, a big addition to Twitter’s video app.

There is a direct parallel to be drawn here between Instagram’s Direct image messaging feature, obviously — and it goes hand in hand with Twitter’s renewed interest in its direct messaging channel. The allegory is interesting, as there isn’t a lot of public evidence that Direct has had any real traction. Still, it allows Twitter to experiment with video messaging in a separate silo, and it does make some sense to start with Vine before adding video messaging to Twitter.

You create a new Vine message by tapping on the Messages section, recording a video and sending it off. You can send to multiple recipients, but all of the conversations are one-to-one — much like competing messaging app Snapchat. If you send to multiple people, you’ll get separate threads for each one.

Notably, you can send Vine messages directly to anyone in your address book, regardless of whether they have Vine or not. This leverages your “private graph” in a similar way to WhatsApp’s early strategy. Twitter is likely hoping that this will spur growth much in the same way.

Offering a backchannel will also allow users to side-step the increasingly polished and professional community of Vine creators. This doubtlessly creates a barrier that stops some people from sharing because it’s not “good enough” to sit in their feeds. Like Snapchat, this allows people to post silly, stupid or funny videos that may not be as polished — or as pretty — directly to their friends.

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Advertisers Spend Much More With Facebook But Twitter Performs Better

The Wall Street Journal

Advertisers are spending a lot more money on Facebook than Twitter–even though Twitter ads deliver better results.

That’s the conclusion of a new research report issued by Resolution, a social and search advertising focused agency under the Omnicom umbrella. Based on an analysis of 20 clients’ social media activity in 2013 representing $37 million in ad spending, Resolution found that Twitter ads generate clicks at a significantly higher rate than Facebook. As a result, the firm found, advertisers are significantly dialing up their Twitter ad spending.

Still, the agency says that its clients, which include Pepsi, Lowes, State Farm, McDonald’s, HP , Pier 1, Hertz and FedEx, spent 127 percent more ad dollars with Facebook than Twitter.

On the surface, that makes logical sense, as Facebook boasts of 1.2 billion users vs. Twitter’s 241 million monthly users. During its initial earning report in February, Twitter announced solid ad revenue growth--including $220 million in the fourth quarter of 2013, despite a slowdown in new user adoption. Meanwhile, Facebook’s last few earnings reports have been stellar, particularly as its mobile ad business has taken off.

While keeping in mind that Resolution’s data may be skewed by its particular roster of brands and their unique social media goals, Twitter appears to have major ad momentum. Retailers, for instance, boosted their ad spending on Twitter 257% from third quarter to fourth quarter last year, while their spending on Facebook surged by 94 percent over the same period, Resolution said.

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How Twitter Has Changed Over the Years in 12 Charts

The Atlantic

It’s been eight years since Twitter debuted. Like the rest of the social networks that have survived, it has changed, both in response to user and commercial demands. The user interface, application ecosystem, geographical distribution, and culture not what they were in 2010, let alone 2006.

But each Twitter user sees the service through his or her own tiny window of followers and followed. It’s hard to tell if everyone’s behavior is changing, or just that of one’s subset of the social network. Now, new research from Yabing Liu and Alan Mislove of Northeastern with Brown’s Chloe Kliman-Silverattempts to quantify the way tweeting has changed through the years.

“Twitter is known to have evolved significantly since its founding,” they write, “And it remains unclear how much the user base and behavior has evolved, whether prior results still hold, and whether the (often implicit) assumptions of proposed systems are still valid.”

While their paper is directed at fellow researchers, their results might be of interest to anyone whose ever used Twitter. They combined three datasets to come up with 37 billion tweets from March of 2006 until the end of 2013. The key thing to know is that they talk about two different datasets: What they call the “crawl” dataset constitutes all the tweets, and what they call the “gardenhose” dataset constitutes only a sample of either 15 percent of all tweets (until July 2010) or 10 percent of all tweets (after July 2010).

OK, with that caveat, here are some of their most interesting findings.

Click to see charts and continue reading 

What will social media’s giants look like in 5 or 10 years?

CNNMoney

Imagine a future where you’ll be able to physically reach out to poke your Facebook friends (gross), where tweets are the de facto mode of communication for large-scale emergencies (cool), and where people log into Google Plus for more than just wondering, “Are people using Google Plus yet?” (Okay, okay, we couldn’t help ourselves with that one — but really, we actually are, so put us in your circles already.)

If those scenarios seem far-fetched, perhaps you’re thinking too near-term. Whether it’s through major acquisitions or seemingly minor service enhancements, the major social networks are making changes to their products on a weekly, daily, even hourly basis. Fortune asked a few experts to daydream about where these networks might be five and 10 years down the line. Their responses were surprisingly realistic.

Facebook

Breaking the biggest news of the month, if not the year, Facebook (FB) set the social scene ablaze with its March 25 acquisition of Oculus VR, valued at approximately $2 billion. A sharp turn in Facebook’s product road map, the purchase has pundits imagining all sorts of crossovers for the social network and virtual reality technology.

“The Oculus purchase further shows how Facebook will be obsessed with staying relevant by buying the next big thing,” says Paul Berry, founder and CEO of New York City-based social publishing platform RebelMouse. Through this and other acquisitions, Berry thinks Facebook will become a brand-holding company in the future, similar to Viacom or Hearst. “I see them, better than anyone else, using their market capitalization to create even bigger market cap for the Instagrams or WhatsApps,” he says.

But internally, Facebook may split over dueling objectives, says Michael Jones, CTO of Portland, Ore.-based Little Bird, a company that provides social influencer analytics and research. ”[Facebook] used to be a lot more fun and idealistic, and now that they’re public, there is extreme pressure upon that organization to grow up quickly and to monetize,” he says. This “great divide” will continue on for years, as half of the company drives toward generating revenue while the rest pursues the founding ideals of authentic engagement and connecting the world.

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Google+ and LinkedIn drive few, but more engaged social referrals compared to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest

The Next Web

Social discovery and sharing platform Shareaholictoday released its first report examining engaged social referrals. Since many of us spend an egregious amount of time using social media, the company was interested in answering the question “What is our behavior post-click, when we actually interact with a link one of our friends shared socially?”

As such, it was necessary to examine the average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate for each of the top eight social media platforms. Here’s the breakdown (data is from September 2013 to February 2014) from Shareholic, which tracks 250 million users visiting its network of 200,000 publishers.

We already know that LinkedIn and Google+ drive very few referrals compared to their competitors. Yet it turns out the traffic they do drive, is actually quite high on the quality scale.

Google+ users spend more than three minutes diving into links shared by their circles, view 2.45 pages during each visit, and bounce only 50.63 percent of the time. LinkedIn users meanwhile spend over two minutes on each link they click, view 2.23 pages with each visit, and bounce 51.28 percent of the time.

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How Startups Can Embrace The Visual Organization

Phil Simon

Kira Newman recently interviewed me about the new book and, specifically, how startups can embrace the concepts discussed in it. Here’s an excerpt:

Tech Cocktail: Why do startups need to become Visual Organizations? What are the benefits?

Phil Simon: As I write in The Visual Organization, these days, startups abound all across the globe. Thanks to the Lean Startup Movement, open-source software, open APIs, SDKs, GitHub, AWS, and the like, it’s never been easier or less expensive to start a company.

This is concurrently positive and negative. With respect to the latter, it’s not terribly difficult to ape just about any product or service. For relatively small amounts of money (compared to years past), a startup can more or less mimic another’s raison d’être and even specific functionality. Design can be copied – and often is.

Against that backdrop, two things can separate one startup from another:

    1. Number/quality of its customers/users
    2. The data that the startup or app collects

As Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Twitter have shown, data is increasingly a source of sustainable competitive advantage. If you really understand the data that your company is generating, then you may very well be able to increase your user/customer base. But how do you start when faced with vast amounts of largely unstructured data? In the book, I describe contemporary dataviz tools that are helping employees, groups, VCs, angels, and customers understand large swaths of data. As a result, they can identify trends, make better business decisions, and possibly predict what will happen next.

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Social Media Getting More Spontaneous and Less Personal

Eye on Media, Matt Kapko

Social media is a fickle activity. The more we do it, the more our practices, attitudes and aspirations for its use change. While users generally play to the audience they’re reaching on these channels, they’re also gravitating from one outlet to another to stay fresh and engaged with the growing world around them.

The era of developing our own deeply involved digital profiles mixed with a buffet of social updates canvassed with media is slipping. Detailed status updates are losing luster as quick, impromptu (and even short-lived) activity on social media gathers momentum. Deliberation is giving way to anonymity and more ephemeral activity.

For every Friendster and MySpace of the world, there’s a Facebook nipping at its heels ready to take it down. Although Facebook has become what is undeniably the largest and most powerful Internet-based communications medium ever, it’s success has given rise to the likes of Twitter, Snapchat, Secret and dozens if not hundreds of others. So much so in the case of WhatsApp, that Facebook was compelled to buy the rapidly growing company for as much as $19 billion.

Many of today’s hottest social apps serve a more spontaneous function. Snapchat gives its users the capability to share photos in real time and set a time limit for how long those “snaps” appear (no more than 10 seconds) before, the company claimes, they are removed from the recipient’s device and Snapchat’s servers.

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