Monday, February 28, 2011

The 20 Most Retweetable Words

This past Friday I attended a webinar on the Science of Blogging hosted by Dan Zarella of HubSpot. It was one of the best webinars I’ve attended in awhile, analyzing the science behind the best social media practices.

One of the many things the webinar covered was the 20 Most Retweetable Words (ie the words that if are included a tweet, are most likely to get retweeted by other users), so I wanted to pass along this helpful info to other social media enthusiasts.

Here are the top retweetable words on Twitter based on analytics performed by Dan:   
    most retweetable words
  1. you
  2. Twitter
  3. please
  4. retweet
  5. Post
  6. Blog
  7. Social
  8. free
  9. media
  10. help
  11. please retweet
  12. great
  13. social media
  14. 10
  15. follow
  16. how to
  17. top
  18. blog post
  19. check out
  20. new blog post

So out of the 50 million tweets sent each day, why are the above more likely to be liked enough by others to retweet them?  For starters, its not too surprising that a significantly large portion of Twitter users are social media enthusiasts, so they’re more likely to RT posts about the topic they love.

Others, such as new blog post, blog post, blog, post, and great alert readers of something new and exciting, while retweet, please retweet, and check out provide direct instructions, which people are psychologically more inclined to follow. 10, how to, top and help are reflective of the most readable blog titles and its no secret people go crazy go free stuff.

You, the most retweetable word, should also not come as a big surprise – the only thing people like more than free stuff is themselves – so when others praise them, they’re more likely to self-promote these praises.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Who Invented Social Media?

While it is easy to pin down landmark events in the history of the web, such as who invented the internet, who the godfather of the computer is, and when the first email was sent, giving credit to the person, team, or company that invented social media gets a little more complicated.  

History of Social Media
Before getting into the origins of social media, its important to state exactly what we're talking about when we refer to the term 'social media'. If 'media' is an instrument of communication (i.e. an advertisement for a bank at a bus stop or a news reporter covering a story), 'social media' is simply a social instrument of communication. More specifically, it is a form of media that gives you information while interacting with you, instead of just presenting this information to you. For example, social media websites include everything from YouTube, which allows users to upload their own videos and rank others, to Ning communities that allow users to create their own content-specific social networking sites, and Yelp! that gives visitors information on local restaurants while leaving it up to them to rank and review their own experiences.

Now back to the question at hand - Who invented social media? Once again, the answer depends on what we're talking about.

If we're talking about the technologies that can be classified as 'social media', the honor of the Godfathers of Social Media goes to Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis who in 1979 invented the world's first usernet systems. Usernets enabled users to read and post messages to various categories, know as newsgroups. At a high level, they can be thought of as a hybrid between email and the web forums of today, and many of the popular group sites of today, such as Google Groups and Yahoo! Groups, as well as RSS feeds are based on these technologies. 

If we're talking about who invented the term 'social media', while many organizations have been performing social media practices for decades in the form of community and content management, we've only recently seen the term become a buzz word in the past 5 years. So invented the term social media? It took a bit of digging, but the best information I could find on this came from a recent Fortune post which bestows the honors to a mixture of the following:
  • Darryl Berry who claims he used the term starting in late 1994 while working on Matisse, an online media environment and for a paper in May 1995 on "social media spaces", which predicted the evolution of the web into a network engaged users
  • Ted Leonsis who in 1997 is cited using the term in the same manner in which it is used today and claims to have created this term in the early 1990s while at AOL to describe  "a mashup of technology and communications and media itself".
  • Tina Sharkey who owns the domain since 1999 and claims she coined the term during her days working on iVillage, where she was in charge of community building.

While the history of social media may not be 100% clear, its future is much more certain. With 80% of all businesses with 100 or more employees predicted to be actively involved in this industry by the end of 2011, this aspect of marketing is certain to keep growing, expanding, and progressing for many years to come. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

When is the best time to send an email blast?

With 294 billion estimated emails sent every day, the average person owning 1.6 email accounts, and 75 emails a day received in each of those accounts, when is the best time to send an email blast to ensure it gets opened and converted? 

best time to send email
While many factors affect the performance of an email campaign, one of the most important keys to launching a successful blast is the time and day the email is sent at. So, when is the best time to send an email blast? There must be some golden formula somewhere revealing this precise information right? Wrong. 

This mythical golden formula does not exist - if it did, those 294 billion emails would be launched at the same time, on the same day, every week, every year. What can be calculated and analyzed though is a unique formula for your particular mailing list.  

Your strategy is going to very significantly depending on whether or not you are launching a B2B or a B2C campaign, what your desired 'conversion' is, and the general trends of your market. Essentially, there is no universal golden formula, instead one that is golden to you.  

The tricky part is obviously figuring out what that formula is.  Here are some factors to take into consideration and tips to help you figure your formula out:

  • Segment your list based on geographic regions - If you are California-based company, and you want all of your global customers to receive your email at 10 AM, make sure you are segmenting your list accordingly to launch multiple campaigns at multiple times, ensuring everyone receives your email at 10 AM their time, not Pacific-coast time. 
  • Run a regression of previous campaign performance - If you have access to this information, your unique formula may already be solved.  Export your information to test against open rates, CTR's and other engagements you monitor against the day of week and time of day sent at. While other factors affect the open rates & CTR, this will be a good indication of trends for your base. 
  • B2B emails sent earlier in the week, earlier in the day have traditionally fared better - This being said, most email marketers these days have figured this out, so do you want your email to get lost in the Monday morning clutter of +100 emails in your customer's inbox? I would recommend waiting until mid-morning (call it 11 AM) on a Monday or Tuesday to send - this gives recipients enough time to sort through their clutter, then pay attention to the content in yours when it arrives later in the morning.
  • Launch several A/B split tests to perfect your formula - Split testing (sending half of your mailing list separate emails) is a great way to perfect your unique formula.  Make sure all other factors (email content, subject lines, etc. are held constant.  
As I mentioned above, the most important thing to remember when it comes to launching an email blast is that there is not one golden time to send - its a matter of finding the time that is best for your customers. Once you've found this time, be sure to continue to monitor it as email habits are constantly changing on both the marketing and recipient fronts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Ad Statistics - A look back at the last 45 years

While those in Pittsburgh and Green Bay will be watching the Super Bowl to see who clinches bragging rights, according to Neilson, 51% of the people watching are enjoying the advertising more than the action on the field. While this golden opportunity is clearly a marketer’s dream to be able to engage with such a captive and receptive audience, the cost to play in this battle taking place off the field has quadrupled over the years. 

Interested in taking out a 30-second spot to promote your start up this year? Unfortunately, this year’s coveted Super Bowl ad space filled up in late October so at this point you’ll have to wait until next year (although Groupon was able to score a last minute spot recently), be sure to budget at least $3 million for this placement. 

Here’s a look at ad spend for 30-second spots in the Super Bowl for the past 45 years:
Important things to note here: Inflation prices were calculated using the CPI Inflation Calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; All costs are estimates as some years have conflicting data; all data compiled from AdAge, CBS News, and Media Buyer Planner.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

3 Easy Steps to Protect Your Brand in Social Media

Last week, we took a look at what to do when someone hijacks your brand in social media. While hijacked media is a growing concern for any marketing department or agency, there are 3 simple things you can do to protect your brand before it gets hijacked, minimizing the overall risk to your corporate, product, service, or personal brand:
  1.  Register for an account on the major web 2.0 platforms in your brand portfolio – While most sites have some regulations when it comes to activity on their sites in order to keep your account active, many also will not help you if your brand name gets taken first by someone else. So while all of the social media platforms may not be a strategic initiative for your organization, it’s a good idea to grab these usernames before someone else does.  To maintain minimum activity levels, which for most is just logging into the account, give yourself 15 minutes a month to simply log to meet these minimum requirements.
  2. Spend the time to make your accounts look like they belong to you – Again, while in many cases it may not make sense to actively use all of these accounts to grow or maintain your business, its almost always worth the time and effort to customize these platforms with your logos, colors, fonts, treatments, etc. so the pages align with your brand.  This will give the pages the legitimacy factor they need in the event your brand is hijacked and will help make the imposter seem more like an imposter. 
  3. Keep ahead of the curve on the next big platform – Is your business on FourSquare yet? Do you give reward your customers to check in on sites such as Marginize? Was Quora part of your 2011 marketing plan? These sites and others front runners like them are set to be the next big players in this highly competitive and ever-changing field. While it is important to maintain a presence on the leading platforms, it’s also equally as important to keep ahead of next big wave in social media. And while it is truly impossible to know which sites will actually be the next Twitter or YouTube, and it doesn’t make sense to dedicate hours upon hours to maintain activity on sites that may never take, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the market to stay ahead of your competition – and potential hackers – on these sites.