Monthly Archives: September 2015

10 New Marketing Tactics to Try Today (They’re All In Your Buffer Account!)

Social media evolves every day.

We’re constantly learning more about how to connect better, empathize more deeply and create more lasting relationships.

At Buffer, we’re so grateful to be part of social media’s rapid evolution, and we’re so inspired by all the tactics and strategies we hear from you, our audience, on your social media journey.

As a result, we’re able to grow Buffer’s product and make it even more useful for you. Here are 10 new elements you can find in your Buffer account right now that we hope will move your social media marketing forward.

new marketing tactics

Note: If you’ve got a change—big or small—that would improve your Buffer experience, we’d love to hear about it. See what other customers are sharing and add your vote or new idea. You can also email us or reach us on Twitter anytime at all!

1. Perfect timing: Try our Optimal Scheduling tool

Have you ever wondered what the perfect time to schedule your updates is? The Buffer Optimal Scheduling tool can help you find out!

What it does: Just choose the profile you’d like to optimize, and submit!

optimal timing 1

We look at the past 5,000 interactions (e.g. likes, favorites, clicks, etc.) you’ve had on your profile as well as similar profiles in the same timezone. We then plot these according to your timezone in a 24-hour period, to see when most interactions have happened.

optimal timing 2

Then you can choose to replace your existing schedule in one click, or use these times to make manual changes to your Buffer schedule.

Why you might use it: We’re constantly learning more about the methods and research to find the best times to post, but your own, individual data is likely to give your content its best chance for success.

Where to find it in Buffer: Anyone can find their optimal posting times using this tool, whether or not you have a Buffer account! Find this Buffer feature right here.

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2. Get more from your content: Share multiple times with the Power Scheduler

So you’ve got an awesome new piece of content. I bet you might want to share it to all your different social networks, maybe with different messaging and timing for each? Possibly even a few different times on the same network? Buffer’s Power Scheduler has got you covered!

What it does: The Power Scheduler allows you to take one piece of content and create your own custom schedule for it. Choose your networks, create your ideal schedule and optimize each post exactly the way you want it—all on one page. All your updates will go right into your Buffer queue!

Buffer Power Scheduler

Why you might use it: We’ve shared a lot of research about the power of sharing content more than once—it can help you hit multiple time zones and drastically increase your traffic. We hope the Power Scheduler makes it easy and fun!

Where to find it in Buffer: You can find the Power Scheduler through the Buffer extension—just locate a piece of content that you’d like to share and navigate over to the “Power Scheduler” tab. Here’s a video that explains more:

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3. Picture-perfect Facebook posts: Upload a custom thumbnail

We’re excited to add a feature that can make your Facebook posts even more customized: the ability to upload custom thumbnails when sharing links!

What it does: Now, whenever you’re sharing a link on Buffer (through the web dashboard or the extensions), in addition to selecting a thumbnail from the images found on the page, you’ll also be able to upload a custom one.

Why you might use it: Putting your best foot forward on Facebook can be a delicate process—especially with everything we know about the Facebook algorithm and what makes an idea Facebook post. We’ve had a lot of success experimenting with custom thumbnails that help your audience understand what to expect when they click!

Where to find it in Buffer: When you choose a link to share on Facebook, you’ll see a preview of your post. Hover over the center of the thumbnail preview, and click the upload button that appears!

4. Share your commentary: Retweet with comment

Ever since Twitter announced the ability to say more in your retweets with “Retweet with comment,” we knew it would be a great feature to have in Buffer.

What it does: This feature allows you to add an up to 140-character comment in your retweet while still referencing the original tweet—no more character count frustration trying to squeeze your thoughts in before the retweet.

Why you might use it: Retweets are a great way to engage with your following, build community, and catch the eye of influencers in your field. And since retweet with comment gives you more room to share your thoughts, there’s even more opportunity with them now!

Where to find it in Buffer: First, make sure you have the Buffer extension installed on your browser—it’s the easiest way to share from anywhere. It will also a little Buffer button into every post in your Twitter feed. Use it to retweet or add your comment for a modified retweet:

RT w comment

Your retweet with comment will show up in the Twitter feed like this:retweet with comment in feed

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5. Find the perfect GIF with the Buffer GIF Mood Board

One of my very favorite new projects is the Buffer GIF Mood Board. Who doesn’t love a good GIF?

What it does:  This very animated project collects upbeat, safe-for-work GIFs in one spot that makes it easy to share them to social media through Buffer.

GIF Mood Board

Why you might use it: GIFs are a dynamic, fun way to engage with your audience, thank your fans, tell a story and more! They also look pretty compelling in a crowded social media feed.

Where to find it in Buffer: Find all the GIFs right here!

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6. Customize your content stream: Dismiss button for Feeds

Great content comes from many places, and the Buffer Awesome plan helps you organize it all in one place with Buffer Feeds—the ability to add RSS feeds to your Buffer social profiles and share directly from the dashboard.

What it does: Our most recent change adds a dismiss button to Feeds, so you can share great links directly from your favorite sites and dismiss the links that don’t fit your strategy. We wrote a lot more about the process of making this change here. 

Why you might use it: Content curation is a perfect way to establish thought leadership, show appreciation to content creators, and well, share great stuff! The dismiss button is a simple change that we hope will keep your Feeds area clean and uncluttered, plus give you a nice sense of completion when you’ve gone through all your posts for the day or week!

dismiss-button-in-action

Where to find it in Buffer: Buffer Awesome plan and Business plan customers can find Feeds in the Content section. Add up to 15 feeds for a customized daily news source:

Buffer feeds

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7. Stand out on social media with videos and GIFs

Did you know you can  upload, share, and schedule videos and GIFs from Buffer to all your social media networks?

What it does: With Buffer for Video, you can upload a video once, on your schedule, and share it to multiple social media networks at the time that’s right for you and your audience.

Why you might use it: In 2015 we’ve seen the addition of video on Twitter and a giant push by Facebook to make video a major component of the News Feed. Check out some staggering social media video stats:

  • The number of videos in Facebook feeds has grown by 360%
  • 82% of Twitter users watch video content on Twitter
  • Globally, people are posting 75% more videos to Facebook
  • 50% of Americans who use Facebook on a daily basis watch at least 1 video every day

Where to find it in Buffer: Buffer for Video is in all Buffer accounts! To get started, select a video file from your computer and drop it into the Buffer composer window. Follow along with this quick video to get all the details:

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8. Create lightning-fast social media images with Pablo

Ever since we launched Pablo, our friendly social media image-maker, we’ve gotten tons of great feedback from many of you on how we can make this tool even more useful for you.

And we’re happy to oblige! Now you can make 3 different types of images in Pablo—perfect for all social media networks.

Pablo

You can also right-click an image or quote to quickly work with it in Pablo.

Pablo right click

What it does: With Pablo, anyone can create engaging images. No sign-in, no design experience and no money needed. Type any text you’d like into the text box and choose an image as a background.

Pablo comes equipped with a ton of beautiful photos via our friends at UnSplash, or you can upload your own image to use. (Need a great source for images? We’ve got ya covered!)

You can make the text larger or smaller, change your font type or color, switch the photo to blurred or black-and-white, move things around, and add a secondary line of text or even an icon!

When you get your image looking the way you want it, you’re done! With one click, you can share to Twitter, Facebook, or add your creation to your Buffer queue. You can also download the image to use in a blog post, social media post or anywhere you like.

Why you might use it: We’ve found that oftentimes images are the hook that draws more clicks, shares, and favorites on social media. And a number of marketing studies report the same:

Where to find it in Buffer: Pablo is a standalone tool free for anyone to use—find it right here.

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9. Make analytics-driven decisions with Buffer for Business

If you’re working with a team, we believe Buffer for Business is the best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media. And now we’re giving new users a month to explore all that it has to offer!

What it does: Buffer for Business builds on our simple sharing system with lots more power, including team management, deep analytics and more.

  • Detailed analytics: With comparison features, sorting and aggregated stats
  • Team collaboration: With approval features, admin rights and more team members
  • Team collaboration: Add a new team member as either a Manager or a Contributor, with different privileges for each role
  • Insights: See at a glance how you’re doing and where you’re headed
  • Exporting: Grab all your data anytime and add them to your reports with the click of a button

Buffer for Business

Why you might use it: We all want success—and that means gauging our performance. Whether you’re benchmarking for yourself or creating a report for a client or boss, it’s vital to know which stats matter—and how to measure them so you can achieve your goals.

Where to find it in Buffer: If you’re new to Buffer, adding to your team, or interested in getting more insight into your performance, we’d love for you to give Buffer for Business a try!

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Over to you!

Have you noticed any of these new elements in your Buffer account? We’d be keen to hear how your experience has been with them.

And if you’ve got a change—big or small—that would improve your Buffer experience, we’d love to hear about it. See what other customers are sharing and add your vote or new idea. You can also email us or reach us on Twitter anytime at all!

The post 10 New Marketing Tactics to Try Today (They’re All In Your Buffer Account!) appeared first on Social.

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How To Finish The Year… STRONG!

Make Things Happen!The 4th Quarter is on us. As I write this, we have just 93 days left in the year…

How will you look back on 2015?

Will it be with excuses and regrets? Or will you look back on this last quarter with a huge sense of accomplishment and an awesome success story to tell?

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t yet met your goals for the year. What matters right now is how you FINISH.

You still have plenty of time to totally turn things around in your favor… and achieve amazing things! I’m going to help you do exactly that in this quick post. :)

Your Ambitious Goal For 2015

Decide what you want to achieve before year-end. Be as ambitious as you please! Dream BIG, even. Figure out exactly what you want to accomplish, then get to work mapping out a very specific action plan to make it happen.

Start TODAY!

You know what you want to achieve – now get to work and MAKE it happen.

No excuses allowed.

If you’re not sure how to do something, learn it – or outsource it. Do not allow excuses to become your regrets. REFUSE to fail! If you need help, find that help. Reach out and ask questions, do some research, but don’t waste time. Know what you need to know, find it, and get to work on implementation. Work fast.

Have doubts? Put them away.

Have fears? Who doesn’t?!

Just DO IT.

Brainstorming Exercise: Answer These 5 Questions
  • What do you most want to achieve this year?

Outline an ambitious but achievable goal for the 4th Quarter. Get strategic. What would benefit you most, or do the most good in your business? Consider the ONE thing that would have the most impact.

  • What is holding you back from your goal?

Journal out all the reasons and excuses why you have not yet reached this goal. Look over each of those points carefully and determine if they are real… or just imagined. Figure out what is REALLY holding you back from your goal, and FIX that.

  • How are you spending your time?

How are you currently spending your time each day, and each week? Is the way you spend your time in line with achieving your highest priorities? Tip: Keep a Time Log for the next 72 hours and track exactly how you spend your time. Compare that to your goals and priorities.

  • What can you do MORE of, and LESS of?

After analyzing your schedule and your Time Log, decide what you should do less of, and what you should spend more time doing instead. Create a schedule that allows you to focus on your priorities, and CREATE the time in your schedule to implement your Q4 Action Plan.

  • Fast Forward: What Is Your Story?

As a brainstorming exercise, journal out “your story”. Fast forward to January 2016 and imagine the story you’ll tell your best friend, your mentor or coach, or your industry peers. What did you accomplish? How did you do it? How does that FEEL?

You have two choices: regret & excuses… or success.

Which is it going to be? :)

What do you need to DO to make this year a SUCCESS?

Now get out there and do it!

Best,

Need help? I offer hands-on help at an amazingly low rate, and I would love to work with you to reach your Q4 Goal!

Training: How To Become A Virtual Assistant – Learn How To Land More Virtual Assistant Jobs

Virtual Assistant BusinessIf you want to learn how to become a Virtual Assistant so you can work from home, or how to take your VA business to the next level – with more (higher paying) clients – you’ll definitely want to attend the live VAVirtuosos Virtual Conference.

You should sign up today, because this is the 12th season, and it has always sold out quickly!

Watch This FREE Training:

How to Create Passive Income in

Your Virtual Assistant Business

Helpful tips for any service-based business!

Enjoy :)

The training above is completely free, and is a great example of what you can learn when you attend the VAVS virtual conference.

That was one of my sessions, as I’ve taught at this conference four times now. It’s packed with tons of great training by experts (with years of experience), and it’s also a great time – with a lot of networking opportunities…

The conference spans over five full days, and you can attend from home – so there are no travel expenses. There are 20 speakers during the 5-day event, and you’ll get a bonus download from all 20 speakers. It’s quite a steal for only $37! :)

There are a variety of topics covered, including:

  • How to MASTER your Service-Based Business
  • 3 Mistakes to Avoid as a Virtual Assistant
  • Starting a VA Business (Personal Experience)
  • How to Create a 6-Figure VA Business You ENJOY
  • 7 Ways To Make Your Service Business Run MUCH Smoother
  • How to Start a VA Business on a Shoestring Budget
  • How To Set Up A Virtual Assistant Business Plan
  • Tips For Packaging Your Services To Earn More Money

That’s just a small preview of what you can expect when you sign up. There are tons of topics to choose from, and great teachers from a variety of backgrounds.

Virtual Assistant Training

There are also high-dollar prize drawings throughout the event. :)

If you want to learn more before you sign up for the event, click here:

How To Become A Virtual Assistant (FREE)

There also free resources on this page, including a free forum to ask questions and a free guide on How To Kickstart Your VA Business.

Best,

* If you want to promote these professional VA training resources, including the VAvirtuosos Online Conference, you can sign up for the affiliate program to earn commission recommending the largest Virtual Assistant Network on the web.

The Advanced Guide to Mobile Social: Tools, Tactics and Inspiration

Ever since we wrote The Ultimate Guide to Mobile Social Media, we’ve been itching to dig deeper into mobile social strategies.

After all, the evidence that we’re only growing more addicted to our cell phones is undeniable:

So when our friends at bit.ly asked us to partner up for a webinar on the very topic of mobile social media, we were delighted to say yes. We’d love to invite you to join us Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 12:30 Eastern; 9:30 Pacific, when we’ll share lots of data about optimizing social for mobile and all the tactics you need to get started.

Here’s a preview of some of what we’ll be discussing. Hope to see you there!

mobile social

Why Mobile Matters

Even knowing the above stats, it can be remarkably easy to underestimate the power our smartphones hold when it comes to marketing. I mean, I still work on a laptop for most of the day—maybe you do, too.

But beginning in early 2014, internet usage on mobile devices began to exceed desktop usage.

web vs mobile

These days, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries, including the U.S.  And Goldman Sachs has predicted that the number of people making purchases on smartphones and tablets will grow to nearly half of all e-commerce by 2018.

goldman mobile stats

Even better? The mobile web is super social! In a study of 2.4 million websites and more than 6 billion social signals, ShareThis determined that the mobile web is twice as social as desktop. (The numbers are even greater for iPhone users, who share at a three-times greater rate than desktop.)

Mobile users are ready—to share, to review, to chat, to shop. So the question is, how ready are you?

Is your content optimized? Are your social media posts mobile-ready?

I know I could use a little help in this area. Let’s see if we can find some tools and strategies to help out.

7 Tools to Optimize Your Site for Mobile

Before we can know if we’re ready, we might need to know what “mobile friendly” actually looks like.

Maybe Google can help. Early in 2015, the search giant rolled out a mobile-friendly algorithm update and offered some simple advice:

“Imagine a user looking at your site on a mobile device. Can the user easily read your page and find the necessary information or is too hard to use?”

google mobile friendly

Google defines “mobile friendly” with these characteristics:

  • Readable text without zooming
  • Content sized to the screen (no horizontal scrolling required)
  • Easy use of links and buttons
  • The absence of applications like Flash that can make mobile sites hard to use.

When Portent tested a giant batch of leading sites last year according to these characteristics, 40% of them failed Google’s ‘mobile-friendly’ test.

So how does your site stack up? Know how your content looks and loads on mobile and tablets with these tools:

Site viewing tools

1. Responsinator

A super simple way to test on the most popular phone and tablet devices. Just enter an URL to have a look:

Responsinator

2. Browserstack

A heavy duty tool, Browserstack lets you test in real browsers and has iOS, Android and Opera mobile and tablet emulators to help you test across a large range of devices.

3. Screenfly

Responsive screen testing on monitors, tablets, smart phones, and more. (Screenfly is part of a suite of neat tools that allow you to wireframe, build sitemaps and more.)

Screenfly

Other mobile tools

4. Google’s Mobile Friendly Tester

If you’d really like a simple “yes or no” answer to the mobile readiness question, Google has your tool (and a great resource of mobile information, too)!

Google mobile readiness

5. W3C mobileOK Checker

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops standards for the Web, and their mobile checker offers a lot of great information as well as a score to see how well you’re faring.

mobileOK Checker

6. mobiReady

A free visualization and testing tool, mobiReady not only shows you how your site looks on various devices but also gives you a score based on your mobile readiness and offers you lots of details on how exactly to improve:

mobiReady

7. Google Analytics

Google Analytics can tell you a lot about where your traffic is coming from. For example, 35% of the Buffer Social blog’s traffic comes from mobile and tablet users. That’s a big chunk!

Google Analytics mobile overview

Diving even deeper, we can see exactly which devices are most popular with our audience (Apple devices make up almost 60%!):

Google Analytics devices

7 Tactics to Build Mobile-Optimized Content

1. Understand your audience and their mobile patterns

One great thing to know as you get started building a mobile social strategy is how your audience uses mobile devices. What types do they use to read your content, and when? Are they in bed? At work? In front of the TV?

Here’s some great info from IDG on some overall mobile and tablet patterns—the full infographic has even more helpful data about how customers use mobile and what for.

time of day on mobile

Once you know that, you can schedule your distribution accordingly. (Maybe Buffer’s Optimal Scheduling tool can help?)

2. Start small

We’re big fans of epic content here at Buffer. But when you’re optimizing for mobile, it might be better to think small.

Many mobile thinkers recommend a total overhaul of the way we tell stories. When you plan your next major project for mobile platforms, you could try “chunkifying” your content by presenting it in mobile-friendly pieces: Start small with tweet-like messaging and grow into more in-depth pieces, rather than beginning with long-form articles and crunching them down.

You can add structure to each piece through facts, quotes, statistics, events or images.

3. Consider the mobile social experience

Lots of social media is already inherently pretty mobile. But there are a few small factors that, when given extra consideration, can make a big impact on your fans and followers. For example:

  • Design a desktop header image for your social media sites that does double duty—make sure it will also look good with a mobile overlay.
  • Check how your sites look on mobile periodically.
  • Add images! An eye-grabbing image is a great way to transmit lots of information in a flash. Since they can appear in multiple aspect ratios, an image with info in the center will look best no matter how it’s viewed. (P.S. Buffer’s Pablo tool can help you create social media images fast!)
  • Make it fun! Engage your mobile community by providing incentives for contributing photos or videos. Make it easy to contribute by using a unified hashtag for your campaign.

4. Expand your social media universe

You definitely don’t need to join every social network to be successful, but if you want to up your focus on mobile you could consider spending some time on emerging channels, many of which tend to have a mobile focus.

Create an Instagram presence; optimize your Foursquare account (be sure to check your reviews consistently!); experiment with Snapchat, Periscope, Blab, and even podcasts (most of which are listened to on mobile!). The social media universe is vast—and expanding rapidly!

5. Optimize share buttons and social logins

On mobile, things like signing in and sharing content can be a bit trickier. I know I’ve had the experience of being stuck trying to do both of those things on a mobile site.

A Gigya study found that 64% of people between the ages of 18 and 34 use social logins because they dislike spending the time to fill out registration forms.

So make it simple to sign in, buy and share—streamline the experience by optimizing your social logins and share buttons.

6. Add video

Video can be a great mobile strategy: Mobile users are 3 times as likely to view a video than desktop shoppers, and they watch video longer and share video more—92% of mobile video viewers say they share video. (Particularly if you can create a funny or unique clip–66% of respondents said they shared videos of this type.)

video sharing

You don’t have to be a video professional to get going here—even a beginner with an iPhone can create an awesome, shareable video. (And with Buffer for Video, you can upload video once and share it everywhere!)

7. Try an SMS program

You probably don’t have time to read your entire Twitter timeline every day, but I bet you’re way more likely to read all your text messages! In fact, more than 90 percent of people read a text message within first three minutes.

So why not try an SMS program? Connect with your customers and offer customized content that takes advantage of their locations.

It might not be as dissimilar to social media as you might think. Similar to Twitter, you only have 160 characters to get your point across. Convince and Convert has a great guide for getting started.

3 Brands Leading The Way in Mobile Social

1. Buzzfeed: Mobile-first strategy

BuzzFeed is often on the forefront of social media trends, and mobile social is no exception.

A core element of their team is Buzzfeed Distributed, which focuses on making new original solely for mobile-forward platforms like Tumblr, Imgur, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and messaging apps.

They also focus heavily on making sure each piece of content looks great on mobile, with a special preview function in their content management system that allows for mobile previews.

buzzfeed-mobile

The result? A mobile-first traffic pattern that’s markedly different than the rest of the web’s: In 2014, 58 percent of mobile time spent on BuzzFeed came from mobile web vs. 42 percent on apps, in stark contrast to the 84 percent/16 percent app vs. mobile web split seen across the web overall.

share-of-time-spent-on-mobile-internet-vs-buzzfeed

P.S. If you don’t quite have a content management system as mobile-prepared as Buzzfeed’s, no worries! You can also try right clicking any piece of content you’re working on and use the “Inspect Element” in your browser (both Chrome or Firefox should work great!).

Even if your site is responsive, you’ll want to check the size and load time of photos, embeds, infographics, etc.

2. Dominos: Personalized experience on any device

With a lovely responsive site and a personalized customer experience for each device,  Dominos is one of the leaders in the mobile social space.

Dominos mobile

Even beyond the basic mobile readiness, Dominos has embraced the idea that a craving for pizza can strike anywhere, and responded accordingly. With Dominos Anyware, you can order pizza from your Apple watch, your smart TV, or even by tweeting a pizza emoji. Pretty cool!

Dominos anyware

3. Zappos: Experimental customer connection

Zappos is among a handful of brands—including Sephora, Intuit, Starbucks, and others—that are exploring mobile not just as an element of an overall marketing strategy but as its own specific approach that caters to users along the entire journey.

For example, its Ask Zappos feature makes it easy to connect and ask a question from anywhere, so Zappos can be on a customer’s mind when they’re walking around town and see a great pair of shoes.

Ask Zappos

Over to you!

I hope this might have demystified mobile social a bit. I know this research has shown me some areas where Buffer can improve!

What cool stuff have you seen lately when it comes to mobile social? What strategies and tactics have been working well for you? What challenges have you discovered? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

And we’d love to see you Wednesday for our mobile social webinar!

The post The Advanced Guide to Mobile Social: Tools, Tactics and Inspiration appeared first on Social.

Are Blogs Dying? Should You QUIT Blogging?

bloggingI had a great conversation with a friend recently on the topic of blogging, and significant changes we’ve each noticed with our own blogs.

Is it a dying art? Does anyone even read blogs anymore? Should you just quit blogging and focus on other things?

The fact that you’re reading this blog post right now… should answer those questions. :)

There have been a lot of changes lately though, and there are specific things you should be doing now to keep (and grow) your blog’s readership if you want to see successful blog growth in 2015 and going forward.

If you’re frustrated with your blog, you should definitely read this…

Every major change brings waves of new opportunities!

If you’ve been online any amount of time at all, you already know that “change” is a constant. The internet is constantly evolving, and those that “ride the wave” and keep up with the changes are the people seeing success online.

Interestingly, with every major change you see people falling away in droves (giving up). That’s a good thing! It gets rid of those less serious, those who are not true entrepreneurs, the “spammers” – and it weeds out the “junk” online.

YOU are not one of those people though…

You are serious about your business, serious about serving your market, you’re playing the long game. You already know that change simply means… opportunity.

Tawnya Sutherland and Lynn TerryTawnya and I have both been working online for well over a decade. I’m coming up on my 20th year in business, and I’ve been blogging for more than 11 years.

Tawnya Sutherland is the market leader in the VA industry. She runs the largest Virtual Assistant Network on the web.

If you’re looking to find a great VA, or outsource a few tasks, click here.

Tawnya and I have become GREAT friends over the years. I often refer to her as “my Canadian sister”. :)

We discussed a number of things, including the fact that we see fewer blog comments now, and where we ARE seeing more response and engagement.

Blogs vs Email vs Facebook

As one example, we both notice that we see higher engagement on Facebook and via email than we do on our blogs. Sending the exact same content via email gets replies, when there may be zero (or very little) response on the actual blog post.

You may also notice that people will read your blog post, but comment on Facebook instead of on your blog. This is especially true if they click from your Facebook update to read your post. Often they’ll come back to comment on your Facebook update instead of commenting right there on your blog.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily…

Before You Make Assumptions, Analyze Your Blog Stats Closely.

Dig in to your site statistics and see what’s really going on.

Don’t just guess, get the facts. Then USE those facts to dig out opportunities.

I notice a very interesting trend in my own stats…

I have two blogs in completely different niches, and I also manage and market them both very differently. I have ClickNewz (the blog you’re reading now) and my low carb blog at TravelingLowCarb.com – where I’m much more active.

TravelingLowCarb.com

Direct address / Bookmark / Link in email: 64.3 %

Links from an Internet Search Engine: 9.5 %

Links from an external page (other web sites): 26 %

* The majority (almost ALL) of the external links bringing in traffic to my low carb blog are from Facebook and Pinterest.

ClickNewz.com

Direct address / Bookmark / Link in email: 82 %

Links from an Internet Search Engine: 7.5 %

Links from an external page (other web sites): 10.3 %

* The majority of the external links bringing in traffic to ClickNewz are from websites that link to my site or to specific blog posts.

You’ll notice on both of my blogs, the major search engines account for less than 10% of my traffic. That’s quite a turnaround from a few years ago, when search would bring in the majority of your traffic.

Keep in mind that your stats may be a direct reflection of your activity, or lack of, so consider any changes you want to make as you analyze your own site statistics.

Read Internet Marketing Today: 5 SMART Marketing Tactics

For example, if you want more referred traffic you should do more strategic off-site content marketing such as: guest blogging, interviews on blogs and podcasts, link bait type blog posts that get links & mentions, etc.

Want more search traffic? Focus on: image optimization, being mobile friendly, and optimizing ALL of your content for very specific keyword phrases.

Want more blog comments? Ask your readers to leave a comment! Ask them a question, or invite them to share their opinion or experience. If you’re not seeing very many comments on your blog, it’s either a low traffic issue… or you’re not engaging/including your readers well enough in your posts.

Instead of “quitting” certain things, based on “assumptions”, consider simple changes YOU can make to get more of whatever it is you want.

Don’t Fight The Trends, Though!

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to fight against the trends, or try to force traffic – or force your market to do the opposite of what they prefer.

It’s smart to have all of your bases covered, like: image optimization, keyword targeting, and off-site content marketing. But focus on serving your market in the ways they prefer to be served.

If your readers prefer to reply via email, that’s a great thing! Respond to them there. The more you engage via email, the more “relevant” you are in their inbox – meaning your emails are less likely to get filtered out, and your response rate (ie conversion) on offers will increase as well.

If your readers prefer Facebook, engage them there! Focus on building out whatever platform is working for you right now, and “engage & convert” right there, instead of trying to drag them away from it with an offer.

11 Smart Blogging Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore:

  • Your blog, emails & ads MUST be mobile-friendly.
  • Use a Blog Broadcast to keep great content in their inbox.
  • Be consistent! Stay in front of your readers, and stay relevant.
  • Test a variety of post-types (long, short, video, lists, etc).
  • Use bold sub-headlines. Cater to your “content scanners”!
  • Use more images & illustrations in your content.
  • Focus on Image Optimization (file name, title, ALT tag).
  • “Stop Blogging, Start Talking.”
  • Build your audience on a variety of platforms.
  • Write shorter posts… with bite-sized actionable tips.
  • Use stories. Include some “entertainment value”.

If I could sum it up, I would say:

Stop blogging and marketing, and stop trying to get traffic.

Start giving your market exactly what they want. Give them something they can use, brighten their day, be someone they can relate to, share things with them they can put into ACTION. Above all, figure out how you can help your market see RESULTS. That’s what keeps people coming back!

You’ll find blogging is much more FUN when you stop working so hard at it, and just focus on serving your market. You’ll also see better results, when you’re helping THEM see better results. 😉

To state the obvious…

The less you blog, the less traffic & engagement you’ll see. If you’re frustrated with blogging, and you slack off, you’re only going to see even more dismal stats.

You have two choices: quit, or DO something proactive about it!

The same goes for Facebook, or any platform where you’re not happy with the results lately. I’ve seen people totally abandon their Facebook Pages out of frustration over dwindling engagement, or delete their Page altogether. Meanwhile, other Pages are thriving. Why is that?! I bet you can guess…

Now that you’ve read this post, and poked around in your own blog stats a bit, it’s time to take action. Take ONE thing you picked up here today, and USE it.

Thoughts? Questions?

Leave a comment & let’s discuss it!

Best,

p.s. Need help with your blog or business? I offer hands-on help at an amazingly low rate, and I would love to work with you to take your blog to maximum profit potential!

20+ Best Free WooCommerce Plugins for WordPress

WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin, and it comes with tons of extensions. Among all the paid ones, we’ve hand-picked some of the best free WooCommerce plugins. There’s an extension in here for just about everyone so have a look and let us know which one is your favorite.

1. WooCommerce Poor Guys Swiss Knife

WooCommerce Poor Guys Swiss Knife

WooCommerce Poor Guys Swiss Knife is a powerful free plugin for WooCommerce. It is more like a bundle of extensions allowing you to perform various customization tasks on your WooCommerce store. You can customize your checkout forms, adjust WooCommerce for country specific needs, fine tune cart operations, add custom fields, etc.

2. WooCommerce EU VAT Compliance

EU Vat Compliance plugin for WooCommrce

As the name suggests this simple plugin makes your WooCommerce shop compliant with the new EU VAT. It will automatically detect your customer’s location and will display prices with correct VAT from the first page.

3. WooCommerce Customizer

WooCommerce Customizer

WooCommerce Customizer provides a GUI to use built-in WooCommerce filters. These filters allow you to customize things like button text, labels, fields, and much more. However, you have to write PHP code to use them. With WooCommerce customizer you can easily use those filters from an easy to use settings page.

4. WooCommerce Multilingual

WooCommerce WPML

WooCommrce Multilingual allows you to translate your product and other WooCommerce pages using WPML. It allows your users to switch languages and order products in their local language.

5. Stripe for WooCommerce

Stripe for WooCommerce

As the name suggests, this plugins adds support for Stripe payment gateway in WooCommerce. Stripe allows you to accept payments using credit cards on your WooCommerce store.

6. Pay With Amazon

Pay with Amazon

This plugin embeds pay with Amazon on your WooCommerce store. It allows users to use their payment information stored in their Amazon account on your eCommerce site.

7. WooCommerce Product Slider

WooCommerce Product Slider

WooCommerce Product Slider allows you to add a responsive slider featuring your products.

8. WooCommerce Product Gift Wrap

WooCommerce Product Gift Wrap Plugin

WooCommerce Gift Wrap plugin allows you to add gift wrapping option on your product pages. It also allows you to add additional fees for gift wrapping.

9. WooCommerce Smart Sale Badge

WooComerce Smart Sale Badge

Smart Sale Badge enhances the WooCommerce Sale badge by displaying how much a user will save upon each item. This is a proven sales technique, that you can now apply to your online store.

10. Order Delivery Date for WooCommerce

WooCommerce Delivery Date

This simple plugin allows users to choose a delivery date for products during the checkout. WooCommerce store owner can see the delivery date on their orders page in the admin area.

11. Weight/Country Shipping for WooCommerce

Weight/Country Shipping plugin for WooCommerce

Shipping costs vary from one country to another depending on the weight. If you need to adjust the shipping cost based on customer’s country and the weight of products then this plugin is for you.

12. WooCommerce My Account Widget

My Account Widget for WooCommerce

This simple widget displays customer’s account information with links to their shopping cart, account page, checkout, and other URLs.

13. WooCommerce Checkout Manager

WooCommerce Checkout Manager

WooCommerce Checkout Manager allows you to create highly customized checking out experience for your users with the help of additional fields. You can add new fields, make fields optional or required, display them on order and receipt pages.

14. Minimum Purchase for WooCommerce

Minimum Purchase for WooCommerce

A simple plugin that allows you to set rules for minimum purchase on your WooCommerce store. You can set rules that must match before a user can proceed to checkout page.

15. WooCommerce PDF & Print

WooCommerce Print & PDF

This plugin adds buttons to save product pages as PDF or Doc files. Users can also click on the print button to instantly print a product page.

16. Product Enquiry for WooCommerce

Product Enquiry plugin for WooCommerce

Product Enquiry for WooCommerce plugin allows your customers and visitors to enquire product information right from the product listing page.

17. WooCommerce Product FAQs

WooCommerce Product FAQs

This plugin allows customers to ask questions about products which are then displayed as product faqs. This allows you to build FAQs based on actual customer interactions.

18. WooCommerce – Gift Cards

WooCommerce Gift Cards

Gift Cards for WooCommerce plugin allows you to sell gift cards and certificated on your WooCommerce store. Allowing your users to gift them to their loved ones.

19. WooCommerce Currency Switcher

Currency Switcher

Allows you to add a currency switcher to your WooCommerce store. Your customers can instantly switch currency to see prices in other currencies. The currency switcher can be added using a widget or a shortcode.

20. WooCommerce Export Customer Email

Export Customer Email

WooCommerce Export Customer email adds a simple link to the customers tab, allowing you to download all customer email into a single file.

21. WooCommerce Advanced Product Quantities

WooCommerce Advanced Product Quantities

WooCommerce Advanced Product Quantities plugin allows you to set advanced rules for product quantities. You can set minimum and maximum quantities, you can also set incremental quantities. You can create multiple rules and apply them to products as you add them.

22. WooCommerce Colors

WooCommerce Colors

WooCommerce Colors plugin allows you to easily change the colors of default WooCommerce elements. Simply install the plugin and visit Appearance » Customize to change the colors. An easier tool for users who just want the buttons and labels to match their theme colors.

Bonus: OptinMonster (Not Free)

OptinMonster

Building an email list is crucial for your eCommerce store. OptinMonster is the best lead generation and cart-abandonment software that integrates perfectly with WooCommerce.

It allows you to create beautiful optin forms and popups for your website and convert your abandoning visitors into subscribers.

It comes packed with features like page-level targeting, analytics, split testing, and exit-intent technology which allows you to display optin form when a user is about to leave your site.

Start converting abandoning visitors into customers with OptinMonster’s onsite retargeting.

We hope this article helped you find the best free WooCommerce plugins for your site. You may also want to see our guide on the best affiliate tracking and management solutions for WordPress.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

To leave a comment please visit 20+ Best Free WooCommerce Plugins for WordPress on WPBeginner.

Social Media Advocacy Is the Future (Just Not the Way I Was Doing It)

I’ve never quite been able to wrap my head around social media advocacy.

It’s scary for me to admit that because I write about social media for a living. I should know these things. I should have everything figured out. And I don’t.

Social media advocacy has eluded me.

Though that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting. I’ve muddled my way through what I believed social media advocacy to mean, and I went so far as to implement advocacy strategies – though not even sure I was doing it right.

And now that I’ve taken a step back and reflected on things, I can see that I’ve had social media advocacy all wrong.

And it’s possible we all have.

social media advocacy

What is social media advocacy? A definition

Personally, I have an audience of a couple thousand on Twitter, Facebook, and others.

Combined, my 40+ Buffer teammates and I have an audience of a few hundred thousand!

This is where social media advocacy becomes super powerful.

The way advocacy works is that you can tap your team to help you spread your content on social media. If you’ve got a new announcement or blog post to share, you and your team can all share it and ramp up the spread and reach of the content.

This can happen organically (by building a team that loves sharing and loves your content) or strategically (by notifying the team when you’ve got new stuff).

Jay Baer has a great slidedeck on the specifics:

Businesses have approached this in a couple of cool ways:

  1. Employee advocacy – Making it easy for employees to get involved with sharing and promoting
  2. Ambassador advocacy – Building a group of supporters who can share with you and for you

Cynthia Pflaum collected a neat group of examples of how this has worked for some leading brands. IBM has 500 thought leaders in its IBM Voices advocacy program. Dell has over 10,000 employees who have gone through an internal social media certification program and are trained to support the company’s objectives in social media.

All this is how I had understood advocacy to work. Sorta. And what I’ve realized is that we’ve all been missing the other half of it.

360° Advocacy and the Future of Social Media Advocacy

I believe the current way we approach social media advocacy is incomplete.

And moreso, were we to explore the full possibilities of advocacy, we’d be blown away by the benefits and the effect.

Currently, social media advocacy is a one-way street: Employees advocating for the company. Yet one thing I believe to be true about social media is that our best experiences are always two-way streets. Social media is a two-sided conversation, give-and-take, push-and-pull.

With the current state of social media advocacy, we are pushing.

What amazing things might happen if we were to pull also?

I see this working itself out in two specific ways, forming an overall notion of what I like to call 360° Advocacy.

Here’s the first way, the crusader model:

  • Employees or teams advocating for the company. (<– the current model)
  • The company advocating for its employees or team.

And here’s the second, the contributor model:

  • The company suggests updates to the employee or team. (<– the current model)
  • The employee or team suggests updates to the company.

The crusader model

In the crusader model, you take the idea of amplification, which is perhaps the main key benefit of advocacy, and you turn it around. Not only would an employee, for instance, be excited about helping out the business, the business would be excited about helping out the employee.

Say a teammate published an amazing article; the company could share on Facebook. Say someone wrote an inspiring tweet; the company could retweet.

(It can also be as simple and small as retweeting a teammate who shared something about the business—helping recognize the teammate and also promote the business at the same time.)

The contributor model

In the contributor model, you see the mechanics of advocacy replicated also. Not only does the company push updates out to its employees or team, those same individuals can also be contributors to the company, allowing the company to pull in suggested updates from individuals.

For instance, a business could invite suggestions for new content to its social media queues, or it could encourage a team to curate specific topics and come back with contributions.

With me so far? This all is the what of 360° Advocacy. I feel the why might be even more important.

A business is not one person, it is many

This 360° Advocacy requires a bit of a perspective change. So often we’ve read — and I’ve even written — about the benefits of making your business’s presence on social media as human and personable as possible. It makes sense that you’d want your business to fit in like a friend or family member among a News Feed filled with actual friends and family members.

It makes sense, but could it be wrong?

I believe there’s a lot of value still for businesses to find a voice and tone and create a consistent, dependable presence.

I’ve changed my mind to this:

A business feels personal not when it speaks like a person but when it reflects the persons that make up the business.

In other words, businesses don’t need to try to be something they’re not. Fundamentally, they are not a person, they are not a human being.

What they are is a collection of humans.

The individuals that make up the company are what also make the company unique, approachable, relatable. And for a really long time, the best practice for social media marketing has not been about embracing these awesome people. Wow, what a big miss!

With a full view of social media advocacy, I think it raises the question: What if this changed?

What if we began inviting individuals to contribute to the voice of the brand?

What if our feeds stopped looking like this:

all buffer tweets

And started looking like this:

buffer mixed tweets 2

I believe it would be a huge shift in an audience’s perception of a business, where a follower or visitor or community member would no longer see the business in that strange uncanny valley between friend and brand but instead to see the business as exactly what it is: a collection of unique individuals seeking a common goal.

Would you feel a closer bond connecting with a brand like that?

I would, absolutely.

360° Advocacy and the embrace of wholeness

Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work.

The above quote comes from Frederic Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations (a hugely impactful book for all of us here on the Buffer team).

What I find particularly exciting about that quote in the context of advocacy is that I believe those same extraordinary things are possible when a company brings the whole of itself to social media.

The idea of wholeness is quite clear to me when looking at the effect on the workplace (bring your whole self to work). It’s a bit of a jump to make into social media, though it’s a jump I’m excited to take.

Consider this quote from the book, for instance:

Wisdom traditions from around the world speak to this from a deeper level: at heart, we are all profoundly interconnected and part of a whole, but it’s a truth we have forgotten. We are born into separation and raised to feel divided from our deeper nature, as well as from the people and life around us. Our deepest calling in life, these traditions tell us, is to reclaim wholeness, within ourselves and in our connection with the outside world.

My view is that the same has occurred in this divide between brands and individuals on social media.

We are all profoundly interconnected—and to a wonderful degree on social media. We are part of a whole, yet it’s often the case that marketing strategy leads to a purposeful separation of parts of this wholeness, done with the best intentions of course but perhaps missing out on this key element.

We long to feel connected. We struggle to connect with brands.

Why? What’s missing?

I’m beginning to think it could be this element of wholeness.

A company is, after all, a collection of individuals, each with his/her own personality. Yet what we’ve essentially done with our marketing is homogenize these personalities into one.

I feel connected to Wistia because I feel connected to their team, seeing their faces and personalities in the videos they create and share. I feel very much less connected to brands when they’re little more than logos and product pictures.

People connect with people. Brands are filled with people. We can build some great momentum by embracing this wholeness and advocacy in even the smallest way.

(Thanks to my teammate Jeffrey for tying this together with this Thomas the Tank Engine clip.)

Does this new kind of advocacy work for huge brands?

The short answer: Probably not, although maybe it should.

Brands spend hundreds of millions of dollars on social media marketing and campaigns, fine-tuning and honing the strategies to every dotted i and crossed t.

Imagine if Coca-Cola, for instance, started retweeting updates from its employees.

That would seem to me as highly aberrant, incredibly quirky, and perhaps even irresponsible. And yet … to a certain degree maybe counterintuitive and quirky is exactly what could endear brands to the people who make up their audience?

It’s difficult to connect on an intimate level with a polished, professional facade.

Perhaps it’d be a bit easier if the facade gave a greater glimpse into its character, personality, and humanity?

Where should you draw the line?

Coca-Cola might not want to go out and share just anything that its team suggests or tweets. And too much variety could even detract from the voice and tone of the company.

There’s likely to be a line between embracing a 3D view of social media advocacy and being strategic with what you share to social media.

And my intuition is that we’re nowhere near the tipping point.

We’ve by and large fallen quite safely onto the highly strategic side.

As with most social media thoughts and recommendations, the best practice is always to test and experiment what works for you. Is there room to include more involvement from your team? Can you humanize your business by including your team as part of who you are?

I’d love to share some ideas on how this could look.

How to get started with 360° Advocacy

There are lots of different ways to take this, and to be honest, it’s quite a bit of an early idea from my side. I’ve yet to explore it fully outside this post, and only in bits and bobs with Buffer. This is how I could see it working. I’d love your thoughts and ideas on other ways, too.

Suggestions – Make it easy to share ideas

We’ve got a neat setup on the Buffer team currently where our co-founder Leo has offered to help surface possible new content that we can share on our personal social media profiles. We do this through Teams, a part of the Buffer for Business plan.

Here’s a bit more about how this looks (with a bonus overview of Groups, which makes team sharing really fast and easy):

//fast.wistia.net/assets/external/E-v1.js

With the notion of 360° Advocacy, we could take this to a deeper level. Not only could Leo suggest great articles to my feed, Courtney’s feed, Sandrine’s feed, etc. but also Courtney, Sandrine, and I (plus anyone else!) could suggest great articles that could be shared to the Buffer feed.

With tools like Buffer and others, you can add team members to your social media accounts, and these team members can act as contributors — with the social media manager having the final say on what gets shared, when, and how.

Twitter list – See what your team is sharing

One of my social experiments in the past was retweeting a Buffer teammate once per day from the main Buffer Twitter profile. Sometimes it would be a teammate who had shared a Buffer article or story. Other times it would be a teammate who had an inspiring quite or cool article.

My workflow for this:

  1. Build a Twitter list of Buffer teammates (I’m grateful that someone before me had laid the foundation here!)
  2. Visit the Twitter list daily to see what’s being shared
  3. Click the Buffer button on a tweet to add the retweet to the Buffer queue
  4. Drag-and-drop within the queue so that a new retweet is scheduled to go each day

buffer retweet

RSS – Find the great stories from your team

It’s possible that a few on your team might have their own blogs and be sharing their own stories and bits of themselves online in cool ways.

We’ve found this to be the case at Buffer. Lots of teammates write blog posts, either on a personal blog or on Medium. We’ll often end up grabbing these to republish on the Open blog as well.

How this might fit with 360° Advocacy is that these pieces of content represent great chances to advocate for your employees or team, to share an extension of your brand by highlighting the amazing people who work for you.

I’ve found a couple neat ways to keep track of this:

1. Send new articles into your team’s chat room (Slack, Hipchat, etc.). We do this via Zapier.

hipchat notification

2. Add an RSS feed to Buffer and check it easily from your dashboard. For the Awesome and Business plans, you can add up to 15 RSS feeds per profile and share any new stories to your queue in a single click.

buffer feeds

Takeaways

It’s seemed to me that social media advocacy thus far has been heavily focused on helping brands and businesses extend their reach and benefit from the social capital of a big team.

I feel there’s a whole ‘nother side to explore here, too—and potentially some really great benefits for everyone involved.

  • Brands can embrace the individuality of their team and become more relatable to their audience
  • The team can have a positive impact on the quality and variety of content the brand shares

I’m particularly excited about how wholeness, personality, and diversity can fit into the equation here, too. For all the work we aim to do with refining and perfecting a social media strategy, perhaps this exact type of variety is the next frontier for brands to engage on a deeper level with the wonderful, creative, unique individuals that make up an audience.

I’d love your thoughts on this!

It’s all a very new idea I’m still sorting through myself. It’d be amazing to hear any thoughts or questions this brings to mind. I’d love to discuss in the comments or on Twitter.

The post Social Media Advocacy Is the Future (Just Not the Way I Was Doing It) appeared first on Social.