social media

A Complete Guide To Short Tracking Links: The Where, Why, and How

You may have noticed weird looking links in your online life,  like in your Facebook or Twitter feed. And you may also notice them in places like magazines.

Here’s an example (I blurred part of the page name because it’s a naughty word):

shortlinksonfacebook

These bit.ly, owl.ly, tinyurl.com and other links are basically short links. People use these services to make shorter links… and to track those links.

First, let’s talk about the short part.

The actual link above, unshortened, would be: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/20/scientists-unravel-mystery-of-flying-squid/

As you see, that’s way longer. That link would barely fit in a tweet by itself, let alone leaving room for any kind of commentary. Because Twitter has a 140 character limit.

But you may ask yourself, “Facebook has no limits. Why do I care about using short links on Facebook?”

This is where the tracking part comes in:

bitlydataonlink

We see that this link was first shortened in 2013, so this isn’t new news. The 6,566 clicks in the last hour is likely from this one Facebook share.

Now the ‘I ******* love science’ Facebook page isn’t owned (at least that anyone knows of) by National Geographic (the place where the flying squid article was posted). So the only way the can know if people are clicking on something they are sharing on a website that doesn’t belong to them is to use a  short/tracking link.

If you are sharing a link to your own website, you can see the data (who clicks and beyond). But these short/tracking links are specifically for:

1) When you need something short (like you have a magazine article and want to send people to the online video corresponding to it). The less someone has to type, the less likely they are to mistype!
2) When you need to track something you can’t normally (a click to a Twitter profile from Facebook, a link to another website, etc.)



So let’s look at this flying squid post in more detail:

76,702 people clicked on the link (from Bitly.com)
35,986 people liked it (from Facebook post)
8,819 people shared it (from Facebook post)1,719 left a comment (from Facebook post)

A majority of your fans/friends will never say a word about what you post. As you see, most people don’t. The lowest commitment thing you can do when someone shares a link is click on it. The next level of interest is liking it, etc. The highest level of interest is someone saying something about it… and as you see most people never get there. Of the 76,000+, less than 2,000 people actually said something about it.

So thinking the only people interacting with you are your commenters is a mistake. Many people will tell you what they like (and don’t) silently with a click (or a lack of click).

The I ***** love science Facebook page is smart: they are actively tracking what people do and don’t like and refining what they share accordingly.

And now that you know that you can make tracking links using services like bitly (free), you can do the same!

Tech Thursday: Using Pictures to Market Your Business

True Story: a picture is worth a thousand words. With all the technology out there these days, taking pictures is easier than ever. But how can you use them to market your business?

In this video, we share a few things you can take pictures of to increase engagement on your business’s social media platforms. Enjoy!

 

 

Tech Thursday: What Social Media Sites Should I Be Using?

As a business, it’s becoming increasingly crucial to put yourself out there on social media accounts.There are hundreds of social networks… how do you know which one you should spend time on? Basically, be where your customer is!

Tech Thursday: Doing More With Images On Social Media

We all know images are great for websites like Facebook and Pinterest, but are you using them in the best way possible?

Here are a few tips that will allow you to spend five extra minutes and get much better results from your marketing efforts!

Have No Idea What To Say On Social Media? Read This.

Something about a blinking cursor can give even the most enthusiastic writing types writers block.

This post is unblocking this writers block when you update your social media profiles.

Here’s a couple things to think about:

1) It doesn’t have to be perfect. No one’s going to die if you get it wrong and too many people wait around for perfection.
2) It doesn’t have to be amazing. You only have to be clever for about two sentences, max.

With that in mind, for every client I work with, I come up with a content plan for each social network.

Let’s say I’m… a kitchen remodeling specialist. Here might be my Facebook content plan:

Mondays: Kitchen Remodeling Tip of the Week
Tuesdays: Kitchen of the Week (photo)
Wednesdays: Review of Kitchen product (could be on my blog or elsewhere)
Thursdays: Recipe
Friday: BUY MY CRAP

Here are what some of those posts could look like:

remodeltipfacebookpost

fbpostkitchenoftheweek

Now a couple of things here:

1) I credited the original source for my information in both cases and
2) If I care about tracking what things people like, I use bitly.com links. If I don’t really care whether people click or not (or if it’s something on my own website), I can just throw the link in there. (More on this in a future blog entry!)

I’m not changing the world here. I’ve just given myself something to work with. When I open Facebook and it’s a Thursday, I know I should go find a recipe to share. When it’s Monday, I find a remodeling tip. I’m never ‘stuck’ for what to say. If some day I have something else I’d rather share, it’s alright; I just have this as a framework to approach social media and force myself to be creative and on-topic.

The other thing you’ll notice in my first list is the BUY MY CRAP post, which I am thinking about for Fridays for this fake person.

Most of the time on social media, you won’t be posting your own stuff. You want to be conversational, knowledgeable, interesting, helpful. But occasionally, you should remind people about your business. (And you shy people are particularly bad about asking for the sale).

Now what do I mean by BUY MY CRAP? You could

  • A link to an item someone can buy
  • A link to where they can leave a review
  • A link to subscribe to an email newsletter
  • A flyer for your upcoming sale
  • A link to another social media account
  • A link to make a donation to your cause

You get the idea. You give yourself the space, one day a week to promote or cross promote something your business is doing.

Here are a couple of my BUY MY CRAP posts:

selfpromoteypost1

selfpromoteypost2

The other bonus of having some set things you share? People can start to look forward to them. By the third of fourth week, Thursdays your fans/friends are subconsciously looking for that review post and wondering what it is going to be about. Even if they haven’t consciously picked up on the pattern. That’s why traffic on this site spikes on Tuesdays and Fridays, because that’s when people have come to expect new blog posts.

Now you’re sharing plan is going to be different and depend on the social network as well as what kind of business you have… but you really should make one.

A few other fake sample ones:

Jeweler on Twitter

Monday: Post about a celeb who wore jewelry well recently (link to photo)
Tuesday: Retweet something in the #jewelry hashtag.
Wednesday: Jewelry related quote
Thursday: BUY MY CRAP
Friday: Thank people who have retweeted this week

Coffee Shop on Instagram

Monday: #firstcupofcoffee photo
Tuesday: Customer of the week photo
Wednesday: BUY MY CRAP (In this case since it’s a photo only website, maybe a photo of a pairing idea (food with beverage) that you sell. Maybe all pairings could be under $10 which you could say in every caption.)
Thursday: From around town photo
Friday: Staff at work photo

You get the idea, if you step back from what you are doing and think ‘How can I regularly be creative about this?’ you are ahead of a majority of people on social media.

So hopefully you feel unblocked and see the blinking cursor as something that’ll now take up way less time in your day… and open up a new way to have fun with your online marketing.

But What Are You Doing? How Website Updates Help

whyupdatingyourwebsiteisagoodthingWe had a client we did regular services with us for six months. When it was time to renegotiate the contract, she decided to not renew.

A few months later, she emailed us. “Well you must have been doing something because my search engine rankings tanked.”

I like to think I’m not a jerk that charges people for something without doing anything. But I can see what she is getting at. She knew that we were doing something; she just didn’t understand what we were doing.

What do we do on a continuing basis to help a website do better and better in search engines? And why didn’t her search rank tank right away the moment we stopped doing our thing?

What We Do In Our Website Updating Service

Some of the things we (and definitely you) can do to keep your website doing well:

Update your software. You’d be surprised how many very smart people don’t do this. Updating your software not only makes your website less prone to hacking, it also just makes it work better. (Note: HTML sites don’t run on a particular software so you don’t have to update them. But they have their own set of issues, trust me.)

Put new content on your website. How do I know I need to put something on this website? When someone asks me about it. Someone didn’t understand why we charged people to update their social media accounts so I wrote a blog post. Someone wanted to know ALL the specs for the projector and screen we rent so I made a page with the information.

If you feel like you write the same emails of information over and over again (or answer the same questions over and over in person or on the phone), why not put that information on your website?

With the information we write content, create graphics, and can otherwise keep new information on websites we maintain (though I will say we just need a bit of information from a client to do it well).

Update social media accounts periodically with links to your website. You might notice approximately once a week, I have a day where I promote my own crap on Facebook.

selfpromoteypost1

selfpromoteypost2

Notice there are two elements to these updates:

  • What to do (and a reason to do it right now- eye catching image, thought provoking question, time sensitive info)
  • A link to make it easy for them to do it

Everyone has something to push out there, trust me. It could be to subscribe to an email newsletter, review your business on TripAdvisor, take advantage of your upcoming sale, etc. The goal is just not to do this promotional stuff every five seconds (or even most days) so when you do it, it is actually meaningful.

4) Make your website work better. As you use a website, you probably notice some things could be more seamless. Like that new map you made looks crappy on your mobile site. Or the form you want people to submit has only 1% of people that fill it out. What you’ll want to do over time, as you and other people use the site, is tweak it so it works better and better.

You might say, “Gee Nicole, this sounds a lot like putting new content on my website.” but I assure you it is different. Think of it as stepping back from your website and looking at it with fresh eyes once in awhile from a visitor’s prospective. (Hint: Google Analytics data can help you make a lot of these decisions.)

As you can see, there is no shortage of things that can be done in a given month to a website. What is important is carving out the time to do them (or having someone do them for you).

Search engines (and regular people) want:

  • Your website working well and continuing to improve (fast load times, pages that link to one another, etc).
  • New information to discover.
  • New ways to get to your website/other places online they should be.

By regularly updating your website (and ways to get to your website), you are giving search engines and the people who use them all those things.

Why It Takes A Few Months To Stop Working

Let’s say you’re on vacation, eating like a glutton and drinking like a fish. The next day, do you feel like crap immediately? Of course not. It’ll take you a couple of days but if you’re like me, you’ll gain 5 pounds and feel like crap around day 4 or 5.

In a similar manner, if you stop updating your website, Google (and your friends) don’t notice right away. Google might come back in a few days to index your site and see nothing has changed… Then it’ll wait a week. When it comes back and sees nothing has changed, it might take two weeks to come back and crawl your site.

Your friends are similar. They’ll come back and see if you have a new blog and when you don’t, check a few days later. When you don’t still, they might remember to check a few weeks later.

Point is it takes awhile to get into a habit and it takes awhile to get out of one too. That’s why it took a few months for the client to notice her site’s momentum online losing steam; it had been losing steam the whole time, just slowly enough it hadn’t been noticed.

The best way to keep your website’s appearances up is to maintain. As we’ve seen, even five hours a month can do wonders.

How To Make This Happen

To make this happen, you’d do it like you’d do anything else.

1) Schedule a time. For me, it’s a once a month 3 hour block where I write my blog posts. For you, it might be an hour a week. Whatever works.
2) Start with a list of ideas. A blinking cursor is an intimidating thing so instead, make yourself a list of things you want to happen in the next few months. (Some of mine: Making a ‘Speaking’ page with form where people can book me, update portfolio, write blog about getting Pinterest followers) Then you’ll have a hit list where once a month, you can probably hit one big thing (ex: making a whole new page) and a couple little things (ex: changing your about photo, making a new photo gallery).
3) Have an accountability partner. This is someone you’ll have to answer to, ideally once a week, about what you’ve been up to. It can be a friend, colleague, just someone willing to check in with you. It’s amazing what a deadline can do. Maybe you can hold each other accountable about website updates!

So whether you want to call it a ‘new years resolution’ or not, updating your website will help your online (and offline) business in the coming year. Promise!

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