17 Digital Marketing Experts Share Their Top Tips, Tricks, and Tools
With the breadth and depth of social media services out there, it’s no wonder that we often find ourselves lost in the vast array of services. Further, those who are seasoned may seem at a loss in the apparent “simplicity” of it all. I took the opportunity to contact some of my esteemed friends and colleagues who are experts in their field and asked for their advice on their favorite little known social media secret and social media tools, including their own if they had them. Here’s what they told me:
Shannon Paul is a social media manager at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and blogs on social media for business at Very Official Blog.
Shannon’s Little Known Social Media Secret: One of my secrets is to be a fierce editor. I’ve edited a lot of blog posts and with new writers especially, I almost always invariably move the third paragraph to the top. I still do this with myself much of the time. That way I give myself permission to get out all of the thoughts that eventually lead to a good opening paragraph. We know people read much differently online and we have little time to grab their attention. Moving the third paragraph to the top of the post almost always makes for a better lead to get readers working their way down the page.
Shannon’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: One is a WordPress plugin called Editflow. It lets you change permissions around who can actually edit or publish posts and adds an alternative to publishing to writers can submit posts to editors for review. It also allows you to add threaded editorial comments on the admin panel without having to send a separate email. That way you can share critique, or suggest links to add without the extra steps. Another one I really like is Tweetreach. It gives you a good sense of how far your message traveled on Twitter — I get that this isn’t always the best metric, but if you have breaking news, it’s nice to be able to equate how far and fast news traveled on Twitter in a way that most executives recognize: number of tweets, top twitterers and impressions!
Jason Falls is a social media guy who shares great insights at Social Media Explorer, his blog. He’s also founder of Exploring Social Media, a social media marketing program for beginners to teach them how to best understand and make sense of this online phenomenon for marketing.
Jason’s Little Known Social Media Secret: I don’t really let most people in on the fact that I use Tweetspinner.com (editor’s note: read my Tweet Spinner review, aff links included) to help me manage my Twitter followers. It weeds out auto-DMs from my account, auto follows accounts that follow me based on certain parameters I set and unfollows accounts that don’t follow me back. I’ve always felt a little guilty turning that management over to a tool, but once you reach a certain number of followers, you don’t have much choice. The volume gets to be too much.
Jason’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: I can’t get enough of Argyle Social. It’s a social sharing platform that allows you to either find great content, share it and measure your ability to drive clicks and traffic … or measure the social sharing and links to leave to lead folks back to your own content, even tying that traffic to conversions and sales. If you sell something online, you can actually tie Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn activity to revenue. Pretty nifty. And while I am not a consultant with the company, we have a partnership agreement that makes them a preferred vendor for Social Media Explorer and our companion learning site, Exploring Social Media.
David Armano is an executive vice president, global innovation and integration for Edelman Digital. He is a strong presence in the social media space with popular blog Logic+Emotion.
David’s Little Known Social Media Secret: (going deep vs. broad) you’d think that given my role in innovation that I’d be trying out every new social technology or platform that comes along as soon as it goes to beta. Fact is, I limit where I spend my time and immerse myself deeply when I find something that I think will either yield results or insights. Currently I’m doing this on Google+. I see a bright future for the Google.
David’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: I have two actually. One is Hootsuite for iPad. It really frees me up to manage social content and engagement away from a desktop and is very functional and enjoyable to use. The other is the revamped Tweetlevel (disclaimer, an Edelman service) specifically searching for Twitter hash tags and getting interesting insights as to who’s worth engaging and why.
Samir Balwani is a marketing strategist and Director of Member Acquisition for StyleCaster.
Samir’s Little Known Social Media Secret:
One of the best kept secrets in social media is the fact that not all success is organic – it doesn’t always need to happen on its own. I’m not saying that there’s a trick to make ensure every social media campaign gets the huge reach of a viral success, but there is a way to stack the deck in your favor.
Often times, big brands will use a coupon or sweepstakes as a social media campaign, the usual: “post a picture of yourself with our product, and the one that receives the most votes wins a prize”. It’s a campaign that’s run over and over again, with little variations and customizations, but the same premise.
Sometimes, brands that start the campaign will realize that it’s not receiving the traction they want. So, they invest ad money against it. The truth is that activity begets activity – some social media campaigns need to be seen as popular before they can actually become popular. Advertising the campaign and making it seem popular already can help build that success.
The less authentic option (I’m not recommending it, just letting you know that the option exists) is to use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to pay people to create activity within your contest. This way when people see the campaign, they don’t see photo’s with only one vote – instead a lively campaign that people are “taking part in”.
I’ll be the first person to say that nothing beats an organically successful social media campaign, but we don’t always have that luxury. For some campaign, spending money in advertising can be worth it to jump start the program.
Samir’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: The tool that I love the best is actually an analytics tool and one well known for it’s SEO ability. Sadly, most people overlook it for it’s power as a social media tool. The application I’m talking about is Raven Tools (aff). It’s what I use to track my Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Although there’s a lot of functionality I hope they add, it’s a great toolset for me to manage and monitor my social media profiles. Once connected with my Facebook fan page and Twitter account, Raven Tools starts to monitor growth of fans and followers. It also tells me how much traffic is being driven to my site from each platform.
Based on the analytics provided, I can tweak and manage my messaging calendar to reach the most people. The data allows me to make intelligent decisions on how to evolve my social media strategy – which is why Raven Tools is my favorite social media tool.
Adam Singer is a digital marketer and blogger at The Future Buzz. He also is social director at LEWIS PR, a San Francisco-based communications agency.
Adam’s Little Known Social Media Secret: The notion that some people have a special sauce or advantage is a myth. In fact, you should be extremely weary of anyone claiming to possess such a thing. The truth is that there are no shortcuts to community building, it requires sustained time, effort and dedication: at least to create a community that is truly activated and interested. The one item (that isn’t actually a secret) most seem to miss is passion. Without this, it is difficult or perhaps impossible to have expectation a group will actually form around your content or brand. If a company has a passion for their products and team members, that should be allowed to be organically expressed on the web. Enabling and encouraging this is the best path to social success. That, and hire smart people who are technology literate. You shouldn’t have to spend time at this juncture getting people “up to speed” on social. If you do, you’re always going to be playing catch-up.
Adam’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: As a consultant I am honestly unconcerned with what specific tools a brand uses to manage their social presence, so long as the team is comfortable using them. I have seen clients able to manage a community very successfully using the web-based interfaces of social sites while others prefer applications to manage multiple communities in one dashboard. One is not necessarily “better” than the other if the team is actually embracing it. Not specific to social media, but I think the key tool is to use a project management system of some sort and not work in email. Socialize the effort internally and you’ll find it is better executed externally.
Kristi Hines is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. She is also a web strategist for Vertical Measures.
Kristi’s Little Known Social Media Secret: There is a trending pattern in social media when it comes to the numbers game. When people are starting out, they want to build their numbers, whether it is Twitter followers, Facebook friends/fans, or LinkedIn connections as a way to show social proof that they are authoritative. They do so by employing everything from following anyone and everyone in the hopes of being followed back to joining communities where you can be added to a list and everyone who joins will probably connect with you in order to mutually build up social profiles.
I know because I was one of these people.
Then something begins to happen. They start to see value in social media beyond just a number. They start to learn more ways to engage and find that engagement is tough when you have a network cluttered with noise. Whether it’s just personal or professional engagement they are seeking, they realize they must start pruning their list of connections.
I see this on a regular basis – people notifying their Facebook friends that they have created a fan page and have decided to turn their profile into people they know in real life only. The number of people they follow on Twitter starts to drop. Sure, they probably anger some people, but in the end, they get their network connections to a nice, manageable size and enjoy social media engagement even more.
The moral of the story – try not to fall into the numbers game from the start, and you won’t find yourself having to apologize to people you have to de-friend or having to spend excessive time re-organizing and slimming down your networks.
Kristi’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: If (or when) you come to this point with your social media accounts, you’ll be stuck handling Facebook and LinkedIn the old fashioned, manual way. With Twitter, however, you can use Refollow. It is a premium application with pricing from $5 per month for 40 follows and unfollows per day to $20 per month for unlimited following and unfollowing for one account. If you have multiple accounts, then you are looking at $50 per month to manage up to 5 or $150 per month to manage up to 20 with unlimited usage.
Why do I love this tool? It helps you lock users that you want to keep following no matter what (such as ones who have recently mentioned you) and filter the people you are following to see which users are not following you, do not have pictures, have particular keywords in their bio / website / recent tweets, have not tweeted in 90 days, and so on. It is a great way to get your Twitter following back under control.
Chris’s Little Known Social Media Secret : The more I’m seen (and seen as being helpful), the more opportunities come my way.
Chris’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: I use Twitter Search to find prospective business for myself and/or my clients. I use it to search by conversation instead of follow by person.
Chaim Haas is a senior vice president of technology, emerging media, and digital strategy at Kaplow Communications.
Chaim’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tools: In a world where everyone is abuzz over influencer measurement and engagement systems like Klout or PeerIndex, I’m going to give you two other tools that are a little under the radar and which we find to be pretty helpful when identifying influencers in different areas.
Basically, both tools use similar, yet slightly different approaches to rank the influence of blogs, bloggers and others. Most importantly, they both start with relevance as the key measure, which is – in many ways – the most important element. Of course, they also take reach and resonance into account. Interestingly, they’re both utilizing some form of keyword search as well, so you can get very granular to see if someone is influential on a topic at a very finite level.
Being able to rank influencers helps us with campaign planning, as well as post-campaign measurement, so that we can see what % of the top influencers we’ve been able to secure coverage or positive feedback from on behalf of our clients.
Jay Berkowitz is is the owner and founder of B2B marketing company TenGoldenRules.com.
Jay’s Little Known Social Media Secret: My best little known Social Media secret is LinkedIn Answers. When you answer questions in your area of expertise, it is the best way to make new connections with others who are actually interested in your products and services.
Jay’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: My favorite little known social media tool is www.InternetMarketingClub.org, a free networking site featuring weekly ‘Wednesday Webinars’ with experts such as Tamar Weinberg, Tim Ash, Mari Smith, Jim Kukral and Jay Berkowitz. (Full disclosure, I am the founder of internet Marketing Club.)
Mack Collier is a social media strategist, trainer, and speaker. He’s also a founder and moderator of the uber popular #blogchat event on Twitter.
Mack’s Little Known Social Media Secret: A little known secret, the one thing I have found, is that I get more traffic from Twitter if share a link to one of my posts AFTER sharing links to other people’s posts. For example, I like to share links on Twitter from say 8am-9am every 10 minutes, then share a link to my post for that day. I’ve found that if I share great posts from other people first, it gets everyone’s ears to perk up and start paying attention to the links I am sharing, which means more people are paying attention to my post when I tweet a link to it. I try to put a link to my post in the ‘middle’ of the links I share.
Mack’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: My favorite ‘little known’ social media tool is probably Social Scope, which is a Twitter client for the smartphone. I have it on my Blackberry, but I assume it’s on the iPhone as well. (Editor’s note: It is!)
Susan Beebe manages Global Social Media at Dell in Round Rock, TX.
Susan’s Little Known Social Media Secret: Set up private lists in Twitter (or Circles in Google+) to read and keep up with movers and shakers in your industry, analysts, influencers and interesting people that you want to engage. This will enable you to focus and prioritize where you spend your time online. If you’re managing a brand, this practice will help you identify negative or positive situations faster and get a real-time pulse on the activities as they develop, which allows you to quickly catch and correct any misinformation. Also, this way you can immediately engage your audience and shape the story as it emerges online.
Susan’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: Google+ is fast becoming my favorite social media tool as it has the potential to free us from walled-garden, siloed social platforms. I really prefer the web to be a fully, open and transparent experience. It’s very important for bloggers to have the ability to share their content, photos and rich media without it all being “locked up” behind proprietary APIs. Google+ has rapidly acquired millions of users that are quickly sharing and engaging on thousands of topics in multiple languages. Plus, the deep integration with existing Google products is very intriguing. I expect Google+ to grow and mature fast as the team is iterating features in a very agile and iterative way.
Another social media tool I like is the Posterous.com blog platform, which allows one to not only blog from a mobile device or via the desktop web interface, but also “auto post” blog, video and photo content to a wide variety of other social sites to quickly syndicate content in a very efficient manner.
Chris Winfield is the CMO and Managing Partner at BlueGlass Interactive Inc., an online marketing company that resulted when four companies merged into one in 2010.
Chris’s Little Known Social Media Secret: This is an obvious, but often ignored, tip: appeal to your audience’s egos! People are very ego-driven, so asking for an opinion gets a great response from followers. I’m always using my social networks to crowdsource. People are especially quick to respond when I’m asking for a recommendation. If you’re not getting huge responses on your social updates, start asking questions that solicit an opinion or suggestions. Even when posting a link, also asking a question that somehow relates to the content in the link makes people more likely to engage (and click).
Chris’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: This isn’t unknown, but as far as a simple tool for real time monitoring of keywords or mentions, Social Mention is hard to top. It’s essentially a search engine for the social web and probably the best way to get a comprehensive view of your social media presence. Since it’s like Google Alerts for social media, you can set up feeds for keywords or get email alerts so you don’t have to constantly visit the site.
Now here’s the shameless plug… the BlueGlass blog is a great tool! In addition to social media, we cover every aspect of Internet marketing. We write a lot of how-tos, overviews of new tools and networks, and plenty of relevant tips for both beginners and industry pros. (Editor’s note: it definitely is one of the top blogs in the industry.)
Louis Gray is an early adopter of sorts and advisor to many companies. He also blogs at louisgray.com about social media, technology, and innovation.
Louis’s Little Known Social Media Secret: A social media tip that I use is to make sure all my inboxes are empty before diving into the stream. That means before opening Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, I need to go through all the email, then Google Reader, and make sure I’ve seen all reactions to my content on the Web, including blog comments, Twitter mentions, or other activity. If you haven’t eaten your broccoli, you shouldn’t get dessert.
Louis’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: The social media tool I use every day that I know many people don’t is IceRocket.com.
IceRocket is the best blog search engine on the Web, and it also lets you search across Twitter, Facebook, images and video. I use it to follow links to the blog, or see realtime responses across multiple properties. Here’s an example query to show the broad reach of IceRocket – a vanity search: http://www.icerocket.com/search?tab=buzz&q=%22Louis+Gray%22+OR+louisgray
Stephanie’s Little Known Social Media Secret: The #1 secret that I tell social media newbies (or even oldsters who aren’t all that involved) is to schedule social content. You can use Timely.is or Hootsuite or any of a multitude of products to pre-schedule Tweets and Facebook posts, so that you’re not chained to your desk. You still need to check in daily and engage with those who retweet you or comment, but you can look like you’re active all day if you do at least a bit of pre-scheduling.
Stephanie’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: I’m currently advising a phenomenal Twitter hashtag tool, Hashtracking. The tool allows for comprehensive tracking of any hashtag over any future timeframe – just enter the hashtag and it will start tracking for you immediately, or set it to track for a future chat or event. Data tracked includes participants, total tweets, tweet impressions and reach, and a complete transcript of all tweets. Anyone can go to the site now to get a free report (less data but still more comprehensive and well-organized than with any other free service). (Editor’s note: Interested in getting in on the beta? Write a comment below and I’ll give your email address to Stephanie.)
Jeremiah Owyang is a web strategist and partner at Altimeter Group, a research based advisory firm focused on the latest technology innovations.
Jeremiah’s Little Known Social Media Secret: I get my best blog ideas from spending time on site with clients, listening to their challenges, and finding patterns across the industry.
Jeremiah’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: I use the browser for twitter –no clients. Why? it’s fast, and I have multiple browser tabs open.
Lee’s Little Known Social Media Secret: If a target business or website where likely prospects spend time syndicates mentions of its own brand name on Twitter to the company home page, your mentions of that brand name via your own Twitter account could give you visibility (with a link to your content) from a place you’d otherwise not have a presence on.
Monitor popular blogs in your target category for posting frequency. If one lags, reach out to them and offer a guest post. But take note of previous guest posts and blog editorial flavor in order to make the pitch relevant and compelling.
These aren’t mine, but I’ve noticed them recently and thought they were interesting:
- When a user arrives at your site, popup an invite to connect with your Facebook Fan page (vs asking for an email subscribe)
- After a user has spent X amount of time on a page, display a sharing bar and ask, “Would you like to share this article/post?”
Lee’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tool: PeekYou is an interesting competitive intelligence tool for researching individuals and their social presence – most useful for data collection to make networking with prospects more relevant or engaging new bloggers and journalists. Here’s an example.
If you have an email newsletter and want to capture social profile data for the list, Qwerly is a data API for mining social profile information and which is somewhat similar to Rapleaf. This way, you can identify the top social sites your email list is associated with and can adjust social advertising, networking, and content accordingly.
This isn’t a tool, but I also thought it was interesting: Journalists on Google+.
Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist for Intel.
Ekaterina’s Little Known Social Media Secrets:
- Bit.ly: Did you know that if you add a plus sign right after the bit.ly link and paste it in the browser (example bit.ly/xxxxxx+), you’ll be able to see all of the insights on that link performance immediately?
- Twitter: Did you know that if you start your tweet with the person’s username (example: @ekaterina said…), that tweet won’t be visible to all of your followers, though it will still be visible in your own stream on twitter.com. The reason is – Twitter wants to filter out personal interactions between two people that may not be interesting to others to reduce noise. If you want the tweet to be visible to all of your followers and you have to start it with the username, put a character like a period or a star in front of it.
- Facebook: Did you know that having a call-to-action to Like your page on your default landing tab on Facebook can double your conversion rates of people Liking your page (source: BrandGlue study). Examples: below are screenshots from Red Bull and YouTube Facebook pages:
Ekaterina’s Favorite Little Known Social Media Tools:
- oneforty may not be a little known social media tool, but it’s certainly a great one. It is web’s most extensive listing of social media tools.
- For Facebook analytics specifically, I like PageLever. Facebook Insights are not as robust as brands would like them to be, so you need to augment it with a different solution to get additional data. PageLever allows you to see your page’s meaningful insights in a visual way.
- If you would like to see Facebook user stats per country, SocialBakers has that data (they also have LinkedIn in beta right now).
Do you have any tips, tricks, and tools you’d like to share? Please sound off in the comments!