5 Ways For Startups To Grow Their Brands On Twitter

This is a guest post by Ryan Spoon (@ryanspoon), a principal at Polaris Ventures. Read more about Ryan on his blog at ryanspoon.com.

Last week I began an effort to answer the questions I get asked most frequently by entrepreneurs, starting with how to create an early-stage pitch deck. Today, I address a topic as relevant for early stage startups (vying for consumer attention) as it is for more mature companies (focused on customer relationships):

How to grow your brand on Twitter?

Twitter is the ultimate marketing platform. But the scale of Twitter activity is so extraordinary (250 million tweets per day) that it is quite easy to get lost in the noise… particularly if you are an early-stage startup and/or an emerging brand.

Separating yourself from the masses really begins with the recognition that Twitter is first and foremost a platform for conversation. If you believe that, you avoid the mistake most brands make: treating Twitter as a mechanism to push content rather than create engagement.

And once your goal is to foster conversation and engagement, you can follow these five guidelines:

1. Listen.

2. Be authentic.

3. Be compelling.

4. Find the influencers.

5. Extend off Twitter and onto your site.

In the below presentation, I break down these core themes and provides examples of people and companies successfully using Twitter to drive engagement and grow their brands.

The post was originally taken from TechCrunch.com

Links Posted By Big Facebook Pages Have A 0.14% CTR, 1 Click Per 1000 Fans

The click through rate for links posted to the news feed by Facebook Pages with over 100,000 fans is 0.14%, or 1 click per 715 impressions according to a new study shared with us by analytics provider EdgeRank Checker. Pages receive 0.00093 clicks per fan, or roughly 1 click per 1000 fans. These figures should give marketers an idea of how many Facebook fans they’ll need to accumulate to drive significant traffic to external websites, a core way of deriving return on investment from the social network.

Facebook only started providing link click metrics to Page admins at the beginning of October. Until then, marketers had to use links with tracking tags or URL shorteners that can reduce CTR in order to determine the referral traffic their Page posts were driving.

For comparison, links posted by Pages have nearly 3x the CTR of Facebook ads which average 0.05% CTR, and they top online display ads which average a 0.1% CTR according to Webtrends.

Facebook Pages can be a useful marketing channel for brands, especially those that organically accrue Likes from passionate customers such as entertainment, consumer packaged goods, fashion, and automotive companies. To drive significant referral traffic, though, most brands have to invest in advertising in order to beef up the fan counts of their Pages.

Most major brands have at least 100,000 fans, and Posts by Pages with few fans have a much higher CTR as you can see in the graph below. Therefore, I excluded them to avoid skewing the data. For all Pages with over 1,000 fans, including those with few fans, link posts still only have a 0.35% CTR, 1 click per 280 impressions, 0.00236 clicks per per fan, and 1 click per 424 fans.

EdgeRank Checker’s data is based on 84,000 link posts by over 5,500 Pages in October. The study also looked at which days of the week were the best for Pages to post on. It found that posts on Wednesday receive the most clicks and shares, while posts on Friday receive the fewest.

If they spend the time and money, brands like Porche, Netflix, and Old Navy can drive around 2,000 qualified clicks a day for free. Facebook Pages can’t completely replace the need for paid advertising, but they can become an important component of a savvy online marketing strategy.

Facebook Adds Another Nail To The Proverbial RSS Coffin, Kills Off ‘Import’ In Notes

Bad news all ten of you that actually used this feature, Facebook has changed its Notes settingsand will eventually eliminate the importing of blog items via RSS for personal Facebook pages. Because RSS has died and been resurrected more times than Bill Murray in ‘Groundhog Day,‘ I’m going to let the pros and cons deck it out in the comments.

 

Of course whether you are a pro or con will depend on your specific Internet usage habits. All I’m going to say is I’ve never rarely actively used RSS in any sort of productive way (like in Google Reader), and when I asked some random person what they thought of this, I was met with the response, “Not really a big deal, RSS is kinda dead.”

“RSS IS NOT DEAD,” you argue,”YOU TOO USED IT WHEN THIS POST GOT SENT AUTOMATICALLY TO TWITTER.” Okay fine you win. In fact, Facebook is still allowing people to subscribe to Page updates via RSS which means even it’s not offing the thing out right.

But MG was right when he wrote, “The fact of the matter remains that RSS is not a consumer-friendly technology. If I said ‘RSS’ to my mother, she would have absolutely no idea what I was talking about. If I said “Twitter” or “Facebook” to her, she knows who those are — she even uses them. That said, RSS does still often provide at least a partial backbone for those services she does know.”

MG held that over time reliance on RSS will start to diminish as people are forced to get used to sharing content via buttons (like what we’re seeing here with Facebook). “The best way to get people to interact with your content is to give them insight into the links you share on your Wall by adding personal comments and responding to feedback from fans,” chirps the Facebook Help page cheerfully.

For the record I asked my stepmom if she knew what RSS was earlier and she said “Sort of.”

Oh and lols.

 

 

Social Media: Can Spark Revolts

Since the term “Twitter revolution” was coined in the summer of 2009 to describe the Iranian Green Movement’s use of the microblogging site, the nomenclature has used in an unforunate manner, applied to any sort of use of such tools during times of protest.

But while Twitter, Facebook, and even Google Docs were used in the recent revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, most experts agree that they are tools, not catalysts for revolution.

Nevertheless, praise has been disproportionately bestowed upon these Silicon Valley giants by mainstream media, with little mention of the potential dangers of using such tools.

To find evidence of such risks, we need only look to Azerbaijan where, just last week, the moderator of a Facebook page calling for protest in the country was arrested, or to Tunisia, where dissidents’ Gmail and Facebook accounts were phished by the government in the midst of the revolt.

Risky business

More recently, Moroccans complained of having their Facebook accounts hacked, possibly by the government, or possibly by pro-monarchy forces.

Though some risks are inherent to the architecture and policies of social media tools–Facebook’s “real name” rule, for example, or the lack of HTTPS across most sites–others are a matter of use, and a lack of forethought to the permanence of online postings.

Imagine for a moment that Egypt’s protesters had not been successful in ousting Mubarak; the myriad photos, videos, and tweets posted by Egyptians, many with identifiable information, would remain online for the security service to pore through.

And with cameras omnipresent during protests, anyone who shows their face is at risk, as protesters learned after Burma’s Saffron revolution: intelligence agents scrutinised citizen videos to track down participants.

But even those individuals who remain largely anonymous online run the risk of being tracked down for their activities. In 2008, a young Moroccan engineer by the name of Fouad Mourtada was arrested for impersonating one of the monarchy’s princes, Moulay Rashid, on Facebook.

Facebook claimed they did not hand over the young man’s information to authorities, which suggests that it was obtained through another method, most likely deep packet inspection, a technique common in China and Iran.

Sketchy friends

One of the most easily-avoided risks is in a practice inherent to the concept of social media: making new friends. In the United States, creditors have taken note of users’ willingness to meet new people online and have utilised sites like Facebook to befriend–and then track down–their clients.

Though many social media users are prone to accepting requests from people they may not know well, activists could be at a higher risk as they attempt to build up their networks for a cause.

Some, like Net Delusion author Evgeny Morozov, suggest that authoritarian regimes have the upper hand: In a chapter of his book entitled “Why the KGB wants you to join Facebook,” Morozov cites the example of a Belarusian activist whose real-life activities (including travel and organisational connections) were easily gleaned by the KGB from his online presence.

Though Belarus–by all accounts an authoritarian regime with a history of spying on its citizens, online and off–may be an extreme example, the lesson is that average users are potentially putting themselves at risk every time they disclose an affiliation, post about a trip, or share a photo album.

But the potential risks of social media hardly outweigh the benefits, and for every phishing attempt or government spying case there is a success story of social media for activism: The Egyptian Facebook page that drew awareness to torture and mobilised thousands; the Syrian students whose cell phone videos of teachers abusing students led to the teachers’ dismissal; every rabble-rousing campaign to free an imprisoned blogger.

Rather than discourage use of social media during times of protest, these cautionary tales should instead invoke greater awarneness and lead to better education on the risks present, and better, safer practices.

Think Twice while clicking “LIKE” button

facebook like button

facebook like button

Say goodbye to the Share button because the Like button is taking over.After months of updates to its Like button, Facebook has released an update that fundamentally changes the button’s functionality to that of a Share button. Now after hitting the Like button, a full story with a headline, blurb and thumbnail will be posted to your profile wall. You’ll also be given an option to comment on the story link. Previously, only a link to the story would appear in the recent activity, often going unnoticed by users.Though users may now think twice about hitting the button, given how prominently it will appear on their walls and in their networks’ news feeds, it should ultimately increase traffic to publishers’ websites.Facebook has slowly been rolling out updates to its Like button and has stopped developing the Share Button. Facebook Spokeswoman Malorie Lucich told us that while the company will continue to support the Share button, Like is the “recommended solution moving forward.”However, Lucich today called it a test, saying “We’re always testing new products that incorporate developer feedback as we work to improve the Platform experience, and have no details to share at this time.” It’s unlikely that the change is just a test, however. Typically such tests from Facebook only affect a small number of users, whereas this change affects all Like buttons.Perhaps the change was necessary. Because it was never made clear to users that the Like button would function differently than the Share button, many never understood what it meant to click Like on a piece of content. Making the result the same as the Share button could build stronger user expectations, ultimately fashioning a better user experience.