Tag Archives: Twitter
Hashtags. Hashtags. Roily Polly Hashtags
Hashtags. Hashtags. Tweet them up…Yum!
Ok, so a play on the Barnes and Barnes song “Fishhead” is an odd match for this topic (I admit I still fondly remember the song playing on Saturday Night Live when I was a kid), but people can feel the same way towards hashtags as they may when listening to the surreal lyrics…a mishmash of thoughts that can be hard to understand. But read the following and gain crystal-quality clarity on what hashtags are for.
A quick recap: Hashtags are placed in front of a word as a search anchor, permitting Twitter users to find conversation topics and discover other users.
Some people like to use them and some people prefer not. Either way, hashtags have become more essential as more people turn to social media for real time results.
Businesses are also seeing customers enter a purchasing funnel through social media, as reported by eMarketer (click here).
Hashtags can be started by anyone, but finding established hashtags may be best to gain response. Here are a few ideas to find networks.
Find a hashtag for a location of preference. You can retweet a few times with different hashtags. For example a tweet with #chicago can be followed with a tweet for #nwi (#nwi is typically used for Northwest Indiana, communities in the chicagoland area). But the number of tweet should be scheduled out with an app such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. Tweeters typically do not like to see a long stream of retweets every few minutes. I’ve experimented with hourly and 1/2 hour post with minimal problems.
Find a hashtag for an expo or convention. Tweet out comments when possible. It makes it easy to meet other followers, and may lead to many opportunities not considered.
Industry groups follow a hash tag. Digital analytics professionals, for example, use #measure or #msure to share news with each other as well as communicate. Find out from your professional organization (or even better, start one!).
Follow a Twitter stream to not only view a hashtag usage, but to also potentially discover others, since some tweets contain more than one. Type in a hashtag in Twitter search to display a stream of hashtags. In addition, many apps like Hootsuite permit users to click on the hashtag in a tweet and view a steam of hashtag-related tweets. Hashtag.org provides a listing of hashtags, displaying trend information as well. Another source is tagdef.com, which provide wikipedia-style definitions submitted by Twitter users.
The movie Saving Private Ryan is one of those movies that grips you to the point where you have to study the details. It’s been years since its acclaimed release in theaters, yet movie goers remember its opening sequence, the bloody taking of Omaha beach during the Normandy invasion of World War II.
But for this web analytics perspective, I recall one particular scene that makes the point of what you want to do with data.
In Saving Private Ryan, General George Marshall is informed that three of the four Ryan brothers have all died within days of each other. In a scene after the opening battle, one of the notification typists sees a similarity of the planned Ryan death notices. She stops typing, stands ups, and walks the notices to an officer. The notices are then brought to the attention of the general, who then decides that the fourth brother, Private James Ryan should be sent home.
In simple terms, it took human intervention to notice and take action. Your business should strive for a similar intervention to stay on its strategic course. But what kind of alerts make sense? The following alerts and tips can help you decide what is effective and useful for your business.
1. First, decide what online actions may have an important influence on your business
Develop a list that shows what metrics would create an action if it were to change. How would an increase in a number of visits affect your business? Assign one person or small team that manages the marketing as the “General Marshall” of your online properties — that person/team should have some ability to implement changes quickly, such as a comfort with modifying text or a broken referring link in a site.
2. If monitoring your brand or products is important…
…use Google alerts for, well, alerts on online mentions of your brand, product, or other important phrase. Another tool, Nutshell Mail from Constant Contact provides social media alerts, such as for activity on a fanpage or changes in Youtube.
3. Use alerts in your analytics tools to determine changes in website metrics that will affect your business choices.
Google Analytics, for example, offers an intelligence alert setting for changes in key metrics such as average time on site, CPC, Bounce Rate, goal conversions, or changes in custom segments created in the advanced segmentation wizard. The alerts can be named, and shared across profiles, as well as sent via text to a mobile phone.
4. Set up a repository email for response
The alerts mentioned in 2 and 3 are delivered to an email address, so a deposit email (say firstname.lastname@example.org) should be selected and monitored by the “General Marshall” in your business. Even further, you can add the targeted email to a mobile phone for alerts on the go. Your “General Marshall” should have access to the receiving email alerts and can take appropriate action — respond to a customer query or send a discount.
5. Use Annotation in Google Analytics
Finally, have the Google Analytics administrator use the annotation feature to add notes for events, website updates, and key events which may affect business performance. Doing so can help determine which efforts make a different as well as reveal new traffic trends that result from the effort. Do so once a month to catch all updates and edits as needed. The postings can also be shared to other employees who have profile access.
Alerts can be beneficial for any business, because their presence can order which actions require attention. If set correctly, a performance check is less frequently needed, allowing more time to focus on other matters in the business. For example, if you are receiving an alert triggered on visitor spikes very frequently every month on a page for a product, you can examine if sales are also increasing at the same time as those spike and consider adjusting inventory if the trend has continued over time (and even investigate why the spike are occurring).
Stay alert with alerts…They can be the best way to win the ongoing battle to serve clients and customers better, as well as to keep to sales momentum going strong.
The Pentagon may not be the first place to think of social media, but then again innovation or interesting perspectives come from the least likely and most uncorrelated sources. Wired reported that the Pentagon is no longer operating a separate social media team to run their Twitter and Facebook accounts, opting to instead incorporate its social media department into its PR communication department.
The decision is understandable. After two years of maintaining a singular communication source, the Pentagon has gained enough insight into what kind of communication should be maintained. After all, not every business has updates that are a clean fit for social media. The government contracting industry, for example, has some struggle with social media only because many of the ideas typically advised can be detrimental. For example, some contractors can only announce a win of a contract but not the details of ongoing contract performance, for concern that competing bidders can use the information against them.
The struggle to integrate social media into a large corporation certainly is not new. The book Empowered by Groundswell author Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler addresses the concerns and struggles to integrate employee social media usage into company strategy (I wrote a book review for Small Business Trends here). The major concern for the Pentagon mirrors the book’s most overarching topic — establishing a social media policy for its ranks. The lack of a policy has not created a significant problem yet, but its mention in the article shows that the military has a way to go to ensuring that no information leak damages its intended image.
Having a dedicated social media team has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few:
- Dedicated listening that can aid response to online audience concerns
- Dedicated search of customer comments that can aid new product or service generation
- Augments a highly centralized organization
- Can establish an polished image if managed by experience social media or marketing professional
- Can prevent sharing proprietary information — allows for a coordinated disclosure of information
- Creates silo — shared knowledge and insights across organization is limited to too few folks
- Limits account response creativity that can draw followers and interest
- Can be difficult to establish a social media objective when tool usage is disconnected from organizational objectives
- Can create a “too polished” inauthentic image among followers if manager lacks marketing savvy
Twitter buys an #analytics company called “Trendly”. You can learn about the purchase in the following New York Times article: http://nyti.ms/cvzQzJ
Which would you believe is true when a customer comes to your website – the customer sees what they want, then go ahead to purchase? Or that the customer visits several times?
If you said the latter, you get a gold star. Recent Google posts indicate that more customers are delaying their online purchase, and browsing. This has increased the number of days between first arriving on a site and making a conversion (in this case purchase).
You can see a bar graph of the average number of browsing days by product category on the Google Retail Advertising blog. This data is based on the 2009 holiday shopping season. Electronics, home appliances, and home furnishings had the longer average number of browsing days (16 days), while beauty items, gift cards, and pet supplies had the shortest periods (7 days).
The data also confirms what many analytics folks have said for a long time –
- Your traffic does not immediately purchase when they arrive on your site.
- Your traffic is not monolithic – they come for different reasons. In this case cited, there’s browsing as well as taking action
- Your analytics is important for understanding the site behavior
- You have an opportunity to provide content that would inform your visitors and potentially encourage conversion
Have you and your marketing team seen a difference in website performance from more browsing at your site? What do you feel lead to more “browsing”? Or is it just client and customer behavior that was inevitable? Feel free to share your insights…