Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Six Ways to CRUSH Your Competitors on Social Media in 30 days!


To know how much muscle you’ll need to put behind your social media marketing, you need to gauge how you stack up against your competitors. Time to perform a social media competitive analysis! First, grab your list of competitors -- ha, like you even have to write them down. Then visit the following social media sites to determine if your competitors have a presence:


There may be other social media sites that are important to you -- Google+, Quora, or YouTube, for example. If so, you should certainly perform an audit on those sites, too. But we’re going to focus on the sites that marketers are utilizing the most, and have the most questions around in this ebook.

For each social network, you’ll want to note a few key pieces of intel:

Number of fans/followers
Frequency of posting
What kind of content is published (videos, images, blog posts, data, jokes, polls)
How much content is their’s, versus how much is sourced
Fan engagement

You should also browse their homepage and other main pages of their website (particularly their blog!) for social media follow and share buttons to determine how seriously they take social media marketing. Revisit these metrics on a monthly basis to see whether they are making progress, stagnating, or falling behind. Remember, social media requires upkeep, and not every brand is cut out to be a social media marketer for the long haul.

Now you know where you stand, which means you know how far you have to go. And when you revisit these metrics every month, it’ll feel good to watch your number creep up faster and faster, until one day ... you overtake your competitors completely!


Now that you’re revved up to crush your competition, you have to get really, really active on social media to grow your reach. And being active on social media means you need one thing: tons of content. No, content isn’t just a tweet or a Facebook post, either; to make your social media activities actually impact your business’ bottom line, you need to create lead generation content that lives on your website.

You need lots of content, and you need it fast. It’s time to make lemonade out of lemons, people, which means we don’t start from scratch. Let’s dig content out of the deepest, darkest recesses of your website, and spin it into social media-ready content in a flash! Let’s get started with how you can whip up some blog posts quickly to feed your social media presence:

Reach out to guest bloggers -- they’ll create your content for you!
Curate content -- round up the best blog posts, data points, infographics, etc. on various subject matters.
Jot down the answer to a common question -- people love a good FAQ.
Publish excerpts from existing content, like ebooks and white papers.
Conduct a quick interview -- either on video or via email -- and let your subject matter expertise blow your audience away for you.

If you’re already an avid blogger, you should also have an arsenal of blog posts at your disposal that you can republish. Only republish your evergreen content -- the content that withstands the test of time. Perform a quick audit of every old blog post that you plan to promote via social media to ensure they all have relevant, up-to-date calls-to-action.

Remember, if your social media traffic doesn’t convert into a lead, it isn’t helping your business’ bottom line. Speaking of lead generation, you’re going to want to publish offer content to social media to get more bang for your buck. Here’s some quick offer content you can churn out in a flash to feel your social presence:

Create a blog bundle -- a kit of sorts that compiles blog posts about one particular subject.
Do a data compilation of all the critical data points someone in your industry might need to know.
Repurpose your presentations -- Power Points can easily be converted into downloadable PDFs!
Relaunch an old offer; just be sure to update anything that’s out of date.
Record an interview or debate -- all you need is a video camera and 15 minutes of two people’s time!
Create templates and checklists -- these require very little writing, too!
Reach out to partners to create co-branded content that eases the content creation burden.

Finally, you’ll need some visual content to keep your social media presence going strong -- particularly on Facebook and Pinterest. Social media fans and followers adore visual content, which means your engagement will soar when you publish it. And more engagement means wider reach -- just what you need to crush your competitors! Take time to curate and create visual content; here are some quick ways:

Create memes -- you can do it quickly on
Publish infographics -- your own, or others
Publish a chart or graph with data your fans and followers would care about.
Insert an interesting data point into a visual -- simply overlay the data in big, bold text over a relevant image.
Find cartoons about your industry -- people love a laugh.
Take behind-the-scenes pictures of your employees, customers, and office happenings.
Share videos, like case studies, interviews, and quick tips and how-to content.

Now that you have more content than you know what to do with, it’s time to use it to drive some serious social media results.


If you’re going to slay your competitors on social media, you need to figure out what kind of content works best for each social network so no efforts are wasted.


The best content to publish on Twitter is, obviously, short and sweet. Whatever piece of content you’re linking to in the tweet, find the most compelling part of the story to include in your tweet copy. Pulling a shocking data point from your blog post, for example, is more likely to entice followers to retweet your content and click the link in your tweet than the title of your blog post.


Unsurprisingly, you’ll want to post all that visual content you spent time creating on Pinterest. Pinterest users value quality images, so everything you post should look beautiful to get the most repins and followers. And of course, the descriptions should include a link back to your website to turn that traffic into leads. Try to create boards that are both directly and indirectly related to your brand -- HubSpot, for example, has boards with marketing infographics, and boards that are just
images of fun orange things.


LinkedIn users have a longer attention span that people on other social networks -- they’re there to do something impactful for their businesses or careers. You should feel comfortable crafting more text-heave status updates, posting more long form lead generation content, and speaking in a
more promotional tone about your products and services.


Facebook should lead heavily towards visual content, but should always be accompanied by explanatory text to give the visuals context. Visual content has higher engagement on Facebook, and the more engagement your content has, the more positively Facebook’s EdgeRank Algorithm will favor your posts -- thus expanding your reach! You can also be much more personal with the content you post to Facebook, since it’s where people go to chat with friends ...not coworkers.

4. Quick Wins

To overtake your competitors on social media, you’ll need some tricks up your sleeve that let you squeeze every last ounce of ROI out of your efforts. And to do that, you need to approach your social media marketing with data-backed tips that we’ve uncovered as a result of a lot of social media stalking. Here are the sneaky little tricks that most people don’t know about, but will make your social media efforts far more fruitful (and with no extra effort required!)

Quick Wins on Pinterest

Descriptions about 200 characters long are repinned the most.
Find content spins around words like “quotes,” “products,” “DIY,” “inspiration,” “books,” and “ideas.” These words are the most frequently pinned on Pinterest.
Content that is liked gets repinned more often than content with lots of comments -- so replicate your content that gets liked!
Make your images tall! Taller images get more repins.

Quick Wins on Facebook

Post tons of photos -- they get the most likes and shares.
Photos also get a lot of comments, but text updates get slightly more.
Posts that are either very short, or very long have a higher percentage of likes.
Long posts also tend to have more shares -- the sweet spot is between 400 and 500 characters.
Show some personality! Posts with self-referential words, like “I” and “me” tend to get more likes.
Posts published on Saturdays and Sundays receive a higher percentage of likes than those posted during the business week -- and Thursday is the lowest day for generating likes!
Content posted later in the day get more likes and shares -- likes peak around 8PM EST, while shares peak around 6PM EST.

Quick Wins on Twitter

Write tweets between 120 and 130 characters for the most click-throughs.
Place links 25% of the way through your tweet for the best click-through rate.
Tweets with the words “via,” “@,” “RT ,” “please,” and “check” have higher click-through rates than those without.
Write tweets with more action verbs, and fewer nouns to get more clicks.
Tweet on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the best click-through rate, and later in the day instead of the morning.


You need to be able to execute all of these social media activities fast, which means you should leverage the power of technology to make you ultra-efficient. You should utilize the following to make social media marketing just a blip on your marketing radar:

Social Media Calendar
Social Media Scheduling Tool
Social Media Monitoring Tool

First, set aside one day a week -- let’s say Friday afternoon -- to craft all of your social media content for the next 7 days. You should take that content arsenal of yours, and select a mix of the blog posts, lead generation offers, and visual content you’d like to post on each social network. Then craft a tweet or update to go along with each piece of content, and denote what day and time that piece of social media content will be posted. This is your social media calendar!

Once you have your weekly calendar created, it’s time to automate the publishing process as much as possible. Use a third-party application to input the content you’ve laid out in your calendar, and schedule the updates to publish automatically.

Finally, set up a monitoring system that lets you go about your daily marketing activities with little interruption from social media. Set up keywords for which you’d like to be pinged -- mentions of your product, for example, so you can jump on a sales opportunity. Otherwise, check in on each network every couple hours to engage with fans and followers, and address any problems that arise.


To squeeze even more juice out of your social media marketing, you need to leverage the power of other marketing channels.

Integrating Social Media and Email

Use your email marketing to increase your social media following by adding social media follow/subscription buttons (e.g. ‘Follow Us on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Google+!’) so
you can touch potential customers through social channels.

You should also add social media sharing buttons (i.e. ‘Share on Facebook!’ ‘Tweet This!’ ‘Share on LinkedIn’) to every email you send so recipients are encouraged to share your email content with their personal networks.

Integrating Social Media and Blogging

Make sure every blog post you publish includes social media sharing buttons so readers can easily share your content with their social networks. In addition, feature social media follow buttons on your blog so readers can easily follow your social media accounts. You should also monitor which blog content performs best so those posts get the social media face time they deserve.

Integrating Social Media and SEO

The line between search engines and social media platforms is blurring more and more every day. Take the keyword strategy you’re using for your website, and apply it to your social media content. This doesn’t mean cramming tweets full of keywords, but it does mean carefully wording your
tweets and including links to pages on your website you want to rank for. Remember, social media content is being indexed and returned in search results -- you should get every bit of organic help you can!

There you have get to work!

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12 Great Places That Your Business Should be Collecting Online Reviews

 So here's a list of 12 great places that your business should be collecting online reviews...


Angie's List

Geared toward service-based businesses, Angie's List is a "higher end" review site, because users actually have to pay for membership. But you get what you pay for, because the reviews, given on an A-F scale, are typically very well-thought out -- not a lot of that ranting and raving that's more common on free review sites. The reviews cannot be anonymous, which helps cut down on fake or misrepresentative reviews, and companies are allowed to respond to the reviews posted about them, too. Set up a free account with them, and then encourage your customers who are on Angie's List to leave reviews there ... because members are the only ones allowed to do it!


Yelp! is a free review site that lets consumers rate businesses on a 5-star scale. Any business can set up a profile on Yelp! for free, and any user can set up their own free profile to review a business. You're free to respond to reviewers, too, but I recommend taking a balanced and polite approach to any negative reviews you receive, as Yelpers are in a pretty tight-knit community.
Yelp! has also come under fire over the past four years for some slightly shady practices, like incentivizing businesses to advertise with them in exchange for gaming the search results for their business ("pay us money and we'll push bad reviews down!"), so savvier consumers have learned to look at Yelp! reviews as a whole and with the reviewer's clout in mind, instead of getting turned off by a business because of one bad listing. That being said, it's still to your benefit to get a constant stream of positive online reviews coming to your business' Yelp! account so happy customers are always at the top of your review feed, especially is you're a location-based business; Yelp! profile information contains things like store hours and location information, so your profile will often turn up when people Google your business.

Google Reviews/Local/Places/+

You may know it as Google Local. Or Google Places. Maybe you just call it Google Reviews. Or, if you're ridiculously up to date on Google's bevies of updates, you might know it as its current name, Google+ 'Local.' But those reviews that show up when you conduct a Google search for a business? Yeah, those things, are on this list in a big way.
If you have a page under Google+ Local, anyone can leave a review for your business. Because Google+ has resulted in a lot of changes to the way Google's search results look, here's a screenshot of what you'd see if you searched for your business in Google's search engine, the location of your Google reviews called out in the orange box:

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Sometimes the reviews may be featured in the main search results, too, and not to the right as you see here.
If you click into "Read more info," you'll go to the 'Local' tab of the business' Google+ Page, where more reviews can be seen and posted. Because this is a restaurant, you also see Zagat review information here ... that's obviously only relevant for, well, restaurants. You may also notice a score next to your business. Here's a handy little guide to just what those numbers mean:

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Yahoo! Local Listings

Similar to Google+ Local reviews, Yahoo! Local reviews let users post reviews of businesses with a 5-star rating system. Here's what the results might look like:

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According to The Marketing Zen Group, Yahoo! still receives about 13.5% of search engine share. So while you might not want to invest time figuring out the intricacies of Yahoo!'s algorithm, obtaining some favorable reviews on the Yahoo! Local Listings sure couldn't hurt for that 13.5%!

Insider Pages

Another local, user-generated review site, Insider Pages, lets anyone share reviews of local businesses for free. They've been at it since 2004, so they've amassed millions of viewers over the years -- plus their results get indexed in the SERPs. That is to say that even if your target audience isn't using Insider Pages to find and compare businesses, they may still stumble upon an Insider Pages review in the SERPs. Their reviews also work off of a 5-star rating system.


Incredibly similar to Insider Pages, Citysearch is a free, user-generated local review site that, again, operates via a 5-star rating system. While people may navigate to their local Citysearch site to check out your reviews and compare you with competitors, it's more likely a Citysearch review will pop up in a searcher's results in the SERPs. It'd look something like this:

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Consumer Search

Consumer Search also provides reviews and reports of products on a 5-star rating scale, but their approach to the process is pretty interesting. Instead of growing their own user base, they take reviews from the internet and print publications, analyze the reviews and the sources, and rank them for credibility. People can then come to the site to search for products and get a distillation of all the opinions floating around in the world on those products. They state that they "have the most respect for reviews that cover multiple competing products -- and when a reviewer can demonstrate testing. We also listen carefully to a reviewer who has tested many products, and then makes an assertion that the product he is reviewing today beats other products he has reviewed in the past." That seems to be a general way of telling us they don't listen to the rants and raves of lunatics, but rather consider the quality of the reviewer in their assessment. Other criteria they consider are:
  • How up-to-date the review is
  • How credible the reviewer's top picks are in relation to the top picks of other reviewers
  • The reviewer's expertise
  • How extensive and convincing the reviewer's methodological approach is compared to other reviewer's

Wicked Legit Review Sites

Then, there are some review sites that go beyond your average online review site, because of the amount of clout their names carry. Here are two sites you should consider establishing a great reputation with -- particularly if you're a service-based business, B2B, or your product or service carries a high asking price.

Consumer Reports

A nonprofit organization, is an independent product testing organization that tests, rates, and recommends products based off their unbiased testing of those products. They have 7 million subscribers, accept no advertising, and pay for all products that they test. This is about as legitimate as it gets. As such, there's not much you can do here except, if you sell a product, make sure it's really, really good.
If nothing else, you could take this website as a lesson in excellent content creation. For each product they review, they provide the review criteria, product overviews, a buying guide, social sharing buttons -- it's all quite comprehensive and, well, helpful. Pretty much the key to great content, am I right?

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Another nonprofit site, the BBB evaluates all types of businesses against a set of best practices for how businesses should treat the public. They don't directly recommend or endorse any businesses, products, or services; they simply provide the public with the information on their site about businesses, and whether they have met the BBB's accreditation standards. They will also review both accredited and non-accredited businesses.

bbb resized 600

As you can see, a business' profile listing on the BBB contains general overview information, like a short company bio and the company's accreditation status, a history of any complaints made about the business and whether they were resolved, customer reviews, and the BBB's A-F rating of the business.

Properties You Control(ish)

Online reviews exist on sites that aren't necessarily built just to publish online reviews. Some businesses use their social presence and website to encourage online reviews ... and some brands just get them unsolicited, for better or for worse. Here are some sites that, if you choose to (please, choose to) can serve as additional hubs for online reviews. And they're awesome, because they have enormous reach, and you have some -- if not entire -- control over these properties!


Did you know there's a place on Facebook for fans to leave recommendations of your business? There sure is ... it's named, aptly, Facebook Recommendations. It'll show up if you're viewing your timeline as 'Highlights' (you can change that under your cover photo if you're not):

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Then you should see a box with recommendations on your Timeline -- though it's incredibly easy to breeze past is if you have an active Timeline. I mean, the recommendations kind of just look like any ol' post.

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Actually, that's really what your entire Timeline is -- a bunch of reviews of your business. So if your Facebook Recommendations section isn't exactly hopping, that's alright. Just don't forget that your entire Facebook presence is a living, breathing recommendation engine every time someone posts on your wall or comments on your content!


You might know about the LinkedIn recommendation feature that lets one individual leave a recommendation for another -- that's good for your own personal marketing, no doubt. But businesses have some recourse of their own to gather reviews of their performance! When you visit a company page on LinkedIn, you should see a 'Products and Services' box in the right navigation. If you click into it, you'll see a company's user-generated reviews of that product or service! What's really cool is, not only can you have your product or service reviewed, but you can also get reviews of your content assets -- notice the last review in the preview below recommends one of our free ebooks, How to Generate Leads Using LinkedIn!

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The ridiculously fast-paced nature of Twitter makes it seem like a weird place to try to accumulate reviews. But while users might not search for reviews on Twitter (unless you started some kind of review hashtag, perhaps), tweets are still indexed in search results. That means a user's tweet, whether complimentary or less-than, could pop up in the SERPs when someone's searching for reviews on your business.
Not only that -- there's things you can actively do with the positive tweets coming at you! For instance, recently at HubSpot we tested the element of social proof on conversions, attaching three tweets that gave positive reviews on an ebook we were promoting. Guess what happened? The CTA with the three tweets converted better than the CTA with no tweets! If you start to 'Favorite' tweets that could serve as positive reviews in the future, you just might find a place to reference or embed them that could come in handy in your marketing.

Your Website

Finally, the one place where you have total and utter control -- your website is an excellent place to publicize reviews you receive (perhaps embed some of those tweets you favorited?) You could carve out a section of your website dedicated just to reviews and testimonials, and even include a form so happy customers can submit their reviews unsolicited. But if you're actively campaigning for positive online reviews and you encounter happy customers that want to leave you a positive review, but don't have accounts on sites like Yelp!, Angie's List, LinkedIn, or Google, it's handy to have a place on your website to publish their kind words. Consider adding testimonials to landing pages and product pages, too!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Social Commerce: A Global Look at the Numbers

Social Media’s Impact on the Bottom Line Around the World

As social networks continue to gain traction at incredible speeds, many corporations and small businesses are investing heavily in building communities online, and grasping for ways to measure the impact of this investment.  In 2010, Eventbrite was the first company to offer data in terms of the cold, hard cash benefits of “sharing.” That initial social commerce report revealed that every time someone shared a paid event on Facebook, it drove an additional $2.52 in revenue back to the event organizer, and 11 additional page views of their event page. Cha-ching!
And that was just the beginning…

Taking a Global Look

Since the first report in 2010, Eventbrite has experienced incredible international adoption and was used in over 175 countries in the last year. Given this global expansion, we have expanded our study of social commerce behaviors and trends to a global community.

The Nuts & Bolts

We’ve identified two important metrics to track this social commerce behavior:
  • Visits Per Share—the amount of additional traffic generated by each act of sharing.
  • Dollars Per Share—the average value of the additional tickets sold through this share.
Note: all figures are represented in US dollars, but can be converted to preferred currency.
Here are the key highlights and trends we have found:
  • Dollars Per Share have almost doubled across social networks – and Facebook drives more revenue from ticket sales than any other platform. Since we first reported these numbers in 2010, the average, aggregate Dollars Per Share has increased (81%) from $1.78 to $3.23. Twitter saw the greatest increase (330%) from $0.43 to $1.85, while Facebook saw healthy growth (65%) from $2.52 to $4.15. Dollars per LinkedIn share increased only slightly (2%) from $0.90 to $0.92.
This means that every time an event is shared on Facebook, it drives on average $4.15 in additional revenue back to the organizer.  And on average across all social networks, the value of a social share drives $3.23 in additional revenue for the event each time someone shared.
  • Visits Per Share have also increased, with Twitter driving more event page traffic than Facebook and LinkedIn. Over the last two years, the average number of people who click on an Eventbrite link shared by organizers and attendees through social media has increased from 7 to 17 visits per share. Links shared on Facebook now drive 14 visits back to Eventbrite, compared with 11 in 2010. Twitter drives the most visits with 33 visits per share, while LinkedIn users visit Eventbrite event pages an average of 10 times for every link that’s shared.
The Social Commerce Effect by Country
As mentioned above, Eventbrite has experienced incredible international growth. It’s been exciting to see how sharing behavior and impact differs across countries.  Highlights below:
  • Italy shares the most. If we look at the number of people who share an event, compared to the number of people who buy a ticket, the highest sharing activity on Eventbrite occurs in Italy (14%), with share rates that are double those of Australia and Ireland (each at 7%), the two countries with the lowest share rates.
  • The Brits click the most. When it comes to sharing events created on Eventbrite, the data shows UK users clicking on their friends’ links the most. For every time someone in the UK shares an Eventbrite event on Facebook, 22 of their friends and contacts click on the link.
  • Ireland has the lowest share rate, but the highest Dollars Per Share. While users in Ireland are less likely to share, when they do, it has the highest impact among all of the countries in our report. When a user in Ireland shares an event on Facebook, on average it drives $10.37 in additional ticket sales. On Twitter the number is similarly high, driving $9.03 in additional ticket sales for every tweet.
  • Canada also boasts high Dollars Per Share and is more evenly shared across networks. Every Facebook share in Canada delivers $4.51 in additional ticket sales, while Canadian tweets drive $2.97. LinkedIn is also high compared to other countries, driving $3.13 per share.
The Global Platform Showdown
While Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all embraced international expansion, we see varying levels of adoption and engagement when it comes to sharing events around the world.
  • Facebook: Australia shows a high Dollars Per Share on Facebook at $5.32. While the highest dollars per Facebook share award goes to Ireland at a whopping $10.37, Australia is the next in line. Third on the list is Canada with $4.51 in value per share.
  • Twitter:  Tweet value is highest in Ireland, Canada and The Netherlands. Ireland gets the prize at $9.03 in value per tweet, Canada shows $2.97 per tweet and The Netherlands brings in an additional $2.42 each time an event is shared on Twitter.
  • LinkedIn: Dollars Per Share on LinkedIn is highest in France at $12.56. This is roughly four times the Dollars Per Share values for LinkedIn in the Netherlands and Italy, which are $3.33 and $3.21, respectively.

How We Did It

We use a custom suite of social analytics tools that we have developed entirely in-house. Our reporting lets us track and analyze not only which sharing options our users leverage, but also where on our site each share action takes place. These tools also tie back into our conversion funnels, so we are able to attribute ticket purchases to the specific social distribution channel that drove them. So, for example, we can compare not just the value created by a Facebook “Like” vs. a tweet, but also the performance of shares initiated before or after a purchase. For the purposes of this report, Eventbrite defines social commerce as transactions that are driven through sharing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Newsjacking...Right or Wrong? (Hurricane Sandy)

Newsjacking is the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing efforts. The term was popularized thanks to David Meerman Scott's book Newsjacking.  Below are some examples of people newsjacking the storm.  What do you think about them?

1) An Entrepreneur's Pinterest Board

Neel Patel, an eclectic & eccentric entrepreneur, created a Pinterest board titled Hurricane Hair. The board features fashionable pictures showcasing floating dresses, loose T-shirts and spiked hair. Neel's Pinterest board was featured on BuzzFeed, but has accumulated only 59 followers and 69 pins so far.

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2) A Dating Website's Blog Post

Online dating site HowAboutWe published a blog post titled "18 of Our Favorite Hurricane Sandy Date Ideas from HowAboutWe Members" that explores hurricane-themed date ideas from members. This content piece borrows from the conversation already happening in the HowAboutWe community. The company spotted the trend, compiled the list of date ideas, and posted a light-hearted piece that also represents the identity of its target audience.

HowAboutWe Blog Post

3) Career Website Email Promotion

One Day One Job (ODOJ), a site for entry-level career information, chose to feature an employer that is directly connected to the weather. (Emergency Essentials is a catalog company that seeks to help people prepare for emergencies.) Here is how the email promoted this weather-related career read:
"We should all be prepared for emergency situations whether they’re expected or not. There may be a time when running to the store won’t be an option, and that’s why Emergency Essentials exists. They’re an Orem, UT based company that has been “helping people prepare for emergencies” for the last 25 years through their catalog, website, and retail stores."

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4) Cosmetics Special Offer

InStyle magazine is offering a special package of cosmetics under the thematic name Hurricane Sandy Have You Stuck Inside? 5 Beauty Treatments to Help Ride Out the Storm.
"The weather outside is frightful -- which is all the more reason to stay indoors and pamper yourself," wrote the author Marianne Mychaskiw. "So we rounded up 5 beauty treatments that will help keep you occupied (and gorgeous) as you safely wait out the storm."

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5) Selling Storm Supplies

A lot of companies have been customizing their social media updates to reflect something about the hurricane. This especially makes sense for stores offering food supplies and household items, a hot commodity in hurricane situations. Sears, for instance, put together a special page with household essentials, such as generators and air mattresses.


What hurricane-related marketing have you seen so far? Do you think any of these (orother) examples were taking the concept of newsjacking too far? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let's as a community figure out what the guidelines should be.

How to Sex Up Your Google Search Results With Authorship Info via Hubspot

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Have you ever been cruising through Google's search engine results pages to find that certain results are paired with a thumbnail-sized profile picture of the content's author? Ever wonder how you could make it so your picture accompanies listings for the content you've authored? Then boy is this post for you!
Through Google Authorship, Google allows you to associate the content you've published with your Google+ profile, pulling your profile image and other information into the search engine results for the content you author. The catch? While the process for applying is relatively simple, there seems to be no clear rhyme or reason to whose authorship requests Google chooses to approve. That being said, the application process is easy enough that it's worth applying. In this post, we'll cover exactly why this new feature is beneficial to marketers, explain the simplest way to apply, and disclose some Google-related nuances you should know before embarking on the application process.

Why Apply for Authorship?

In a nutshell, having authorship benefits makes your search engine listings sexier -- in addition to giving them a heightened sense of credibility, professionalism, and transparency. Let's take a closer look at the screenshot shown at the top of this post, picturing a particular search engine results page (SERP):

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Ask yourself -- which results stand out? Probably the two with accompanying author images, right? And if your eyes did gravitate toward those two listings, it's pretty easy to understand the benefits. In addition, listings with author images and information attached will likely benefit from a perception of credibility and appease any suspicions of spammy content.
Those two listings aren't at the top of this particular SERP either. This means Authorship could give your content a much better fighting chance against other results that might organically rank higher. This is particularly noteworthy considering not many users have taken the opportunity to apply for Authorship, making it well worth it to apply sooner rather than later when, well ... everybody's doing it.
And while there haven't been any data-driven reports to surface on the benefits of Authorship yet, we've anecdotally seen a noticeable improvement in the ranking of HubSpot's content that has been associated with our various authors. In other words, it's very possible that Google is rewarding Authorship users with improved search engine rankings. If you're a content creator, that's not a bad perk, huh?
Finally, achieving authorship status also entitles you to even more data and statistics about the performance of individual authors' content in search results. You can read more about that from Google here.

How to Apply for Google+ Authorship

Convinced it's worth taking a few minutes out of your day to apply for Authorship? Here's how to do it:
  1. Make sure your Google+ profile page has a profile photo that is a recognizable headshot.
  2. Make sure you have an email address (for example, on the same domain as your content ( If you don't have an email address on the same domain, Google has an alternative method for linking your content to your Google+ profile. Learn how here.
  3. In the "About" section of your Google+ profile, add that email address so it's easier for Google to associate your Google+ account with your domain.
  4. In addition, make sure each article you publish on that domain has a clear byline identifying you as the author (for example, "By John Doe" or "Author: John Doe").
  5. Furthermore, make sure that byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
  6. Visit Google's Authorship page, and submit your email address to Google. Regardless of how many articles you publish on this domain, you'll only need to go through this process once. 
  7. In the "About" section of your Google+ profile, make sure the profile discovery box, "Help others discover my profile in search" is checked.

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Once Google approves your Authorship request, your Google+ profile will update with the domain on which you're a content contributor in the "Contributor to" section of your Google+ profile (as pictured below). By default, it will also automatically make your email address visible to the public. If you want to keep your email address private on your page, you can change its visibility here.

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You may also receive an email confirmation from Google once your request for Authorship has been approved. It took about six days for Google to confirm my Authorship request.

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That being said, it took longer for other members of HubSpot's marketing team to receive Authorship status, and some still have yet to be approved, so it's hard to know how Google is prioritizing approvals. And as we mentioned before, according to Google's Authorship information page, "Google doesn't guarantee to show author information in Google Web Search or Google News results," which explains why some of our authors haven't yet been approved.
If Google does grant your Authorship request, you'll start noticing that the search engine listings for content you've authored will start to be accompanied by your Google+ profile image, as in the example below:

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Furthermore, you'll notice that the "by [author name]" link called out above in red sends people to your Google+ profile page, and the "more by [author name]" link called out in blue directs visitors to a more detailed page that lists the various indexed content authored by you, as you can see in the example below:

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Remember -- if your website/blog has multiple contributors, it would behoove you to encourage your various authors to apply for Authorship. This way, even more of the search engine listings for your website's content will be associated with its individual author.

Some Notes About Google's Nuances

Many of you are probably aware of Google's various little nuances, and those of you out there who have ever undergone a name change (myself included) -- or whose business uses Gmail for its employees' corporate email accounts (again, myself included) -- are probably all too familiar with the headaches involved in linking and merging multiple Google accounts. Be mindful that if you do suffer from the unfortunate problem of multiple accounts (in addition to content that has been published under different names), Google doesn't exactly make it very easy to sync the Authorship of all your articles to one single Google+ account.
While Google has released a tool that enables you to transfer connections from one Google+ account to another and set it as the default destination, Google mentions that Authorship information and Google+ business pages that you manage with your source account will not get transferred to the destination account. In fact, I've personally come to refer to this particular scenario as "Multiple Google Account Hell." My recommendation is to try to connect your Authorship with the Google+ account on which you have the most connections ... and to cross your fingers that Google improves and streamlines this process in the future.
Furthermore, while this post explains the simplest way of applying for Authorship, there are other routes you can take. In fact, the folks over at Search Engine Land were kind enough to publish an extremely comprehensive and technical article about those other options here.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

19 Great Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing

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Pretty pictures are the best. But you know who likes them even more than your readers, leads, and customers?
Well they should, anyway, because marketers who are embracing visual content are seeing huge returns in terms of, well, more readers, leads, and customers. Oh, also revenue. Not a bad setup.
Whether you're already a champion of visual content and just want a little affirmation, or you're interested in dipping your toes into the burgeoning visual content space, these 19 statistics should help you make the case for doing just that.

19 Fascinating Statistics That Make the Case for Using Visual Content in Your Marketing

1) 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco) Tweet This Stat!
2) 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco) Tweet This Stat!
3) 46.1% of people say a website's design is the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the company. (Source: Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab) Tweet This Stat!
4) Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don't. (Source: AnsonAlex) Tweet This Stat!
5) Posts with videos attract 3 times more inbound links than plain text posts. (Source: SEOmoz) Tweet This Stat!
6) Visual content drives engagement. In fact, just one month after the introduction of Facebook timeline for brands, visual content -- photos and videos -- saw a 65% increase in engagement. (Source: Simply Measured) Tweet This Stat!
7) On Facebook, photos perform best for likes, comments, and shares as compared to text, video, and links. (Source: Dan Zarrella) Tweet This Stat!
8) 37% of Pinterest account holders log in a few times every week; 28% said they log in a few times a month; 15% log in once daily; 10% log in numerous times a day. (Source: PriceGrabber) Tweet This Stat!
9) 98% of people surveyed with a Pinterest account said they also have a Facebook and/or Twitter account (Source: PriceGrabber) Tweet This Stat!
10) Pinterest generated more referral traffic for businesses than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined. (Source: Shareaholic) Tweet This Stat!
11) Pinterest drives sales directly from its website -- of people with Pinterest accounts, 21% have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest. (Source: PriceGrabber) Tweet This Stat!
12) 85% of the US internet audience watches videos online. The 25-34 age group watches the most online videos, and adult males spend 40% more time watching videos on the internet than females. (Sources: comScore and Nielsen) Tweet This Stat!
13) Over 60 hours of videos are uploaded each minute on (Source: YouTube) Tweet This Stat!
14) 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute. (Source: YouTube) Tweet This Stat!
15) Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa) Tweet This Stat!
16) Mobile video viewing increased 35% from 2010 to 2011. (Source: Nielsen) Tweet This Stat!
17) 25 million smartphone users stream 4 hours of mobile video per month. 75% of smartphone users watch videos on their phones, 26% of whom use video at least once a day. (Sources: Ooyala and Ipsos) Tweet This Stat!
18) Mobile video subscription is expected to hit $16 billion in revenue by 2014, with over 500 million subscribers. (Source: Ooyala) Tweet This Stat!
19) Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source: Internet Retailer) Tweet This Stat!

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

12 Revealing Charts to Help You Benchmark Your Business Blogging Performance

The Effect of Blogging Frequency on Website Traffic

The first of our blogging benchmarking charts highlight the impact that the number of monthly blog articles a business publishes has on inbound traffic -- overall, divided up by B2B and B2C companies, and split up by company size.

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After seeing these charts, you've probably never been more convinced that when it comes to the effectiveness of blogging in driving traffic to your website, frequency matters. In fact, according to the charts above, companies that blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more traffic than companies that don't blog at all. And if you're a small business, increasing your blogging frequency can move the needle even more. According to the third chart, small businesses (1-10 employees) tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they publish more articles.
Make a commitment to regularly publishing content to your blog to reap the biggest rewards in terms of website traffic. To learn more about how you can boost your blogging frequency by never running out of blogging ideas again, check out this blog article.

The Effect of Blogging Frequency on Lead Generation

The following three charts feature the impact that the number of monthly blog articles a business publishes has on inbound leads -- overall, divided up by B2B and B2C companies, and segmented by company size.

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As you can see, blogging frequency matters not just in terms of the impact blogging has on driving traffic to your website. It's also critical when it comes down to the effectiveness of blogging in generating actual leads. In fact, companies that increase blogging from 3-5X/month to 6-8X/month almost double their leads. And if you still need to be convinced that you should start a business blog to begin with, keep in mind that B2B companies that blog only 1-2X/month generate 70% more leads than those that don't blog at all. In other words, blogging even just a little bit can make a big dent on your leads goal if you previously weren't blogging at all.
To get the maximum amount of leads from your blogging efforts, check out our ultimate guide to mastering blogging lead generation.

Blogging's Overall Impact on Website Traffic

Our next three charts emphasize the overall impact of blogging on inbound traffic. In other words, how does the total number of blog posts you've published to your business blog -- past and present -- affect traffic?

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Remember, because the articles you publish get indexed in search engines and shared through channels like social media, the impact your business blog has on traffic isn't just limited to the articles you publish this month. By committing to regularly publishing blog content, over time you'll have built up a powerful arsenal of content, with each article you publish creating another inroad to your website.
Not convinced? As indicated by the charts above, an average company will see a 45% growth in traffic when increasing total blog articles from 11-20 to 21-50 articles. And for all you B2C companies out there, keep in mind that B2C companies see a 59% increase in traffic after growing total blog articles from 100 to 200 total. Sure, blogging is a big time commitment, but sticking to it can generate tremendously valuable marketing results.

Blogging's Overall Impact on Lead Generation

The last of our blogging benchmarking charts show the overall impact of blogging on inbound leads. That is to say, how does the total number of blog posts you've published to your business blog -- past and present -- affect lead generation?

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In a nutshell, making your blog a long-term asset by publishing a lot of content over time makes a big difference. This is evidenced by the fact that the average company with 100 or more total blog articles is more likely to experience continued lead growth, and even more compelling -- companies with over 200 blog articles generate >5X the leads than those with 10 or fewer.

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Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Simple Approach to Prioritizing Your Mobile Optimization Efforts

How do you get around that overwhelmed feeling? Set priorities. This post isn't going to give you an exhaustive list of everything you need to do to be completely mobile optimized. Because if you haven't done that already, this one blog post won't convince you. It'll probably just succeed at freaking you out. What might get you started on that path, however, is baby steps. This post will help you understand how to get started with mobile optimization by setting forth what the biggest mobile optimization priority is for your particular business.

Prioritize Mobile SEO If ...

People are overwhelmingly using search engines to find information about your business (or the problem your business solves). One easy way to determine this is to look at the sources of your site traffic. Is organic search really high up on that list? What are the keywords people are looking for when they search for you? Are those keywords branded terms? Interrogative in nature? Transactional? Here, let's take a fake pizza store, Mamma Mia's Pizza Pie, as an example.
  • Branded queries (like 'mamma mia's pizza pie hours'): This searcher knows your name; they just need a piece of information -- whether you're open or not -- to push them over the transaction threshold.
  • Interrogative queries (like 'best pizza in boston'): This searcher isn't tied to your pizza store yet, but they definitely want some awesome pizza. You want to show up as the first instance in Google!
  • Transactional queries (like 'tickets to pizza tasting fest'): This searcher heard about your pizza tasting event and needs to get tickets before popping in for some cheesy goodness. They know what they're looking for, just not exactly where to find it.
These are huge opportunities to optimize your presence in the SERPs for your mobile searchers and shoppers. And it's not a coincidence I used a location-based business in this example, either. These kind of queries naturally play into the hands of local businesses with a brick-and-mortar location. If this sounds like you, make sure you're optimizing your organic presence, particularly your Google+ Local (previously Google Places) listing, to include the basic information searchers need ... like address, directions, store hours, and contact information. You know, the kinds of things people look for when they're out and about in the world and need just one nugget of information to let them make their final decision on where they'll be spending their money.

Prioritize Mobile Site Optimization If ...

You have a business where people visit your website frequently. How general. Let me explain. This might be important if your business is a(n):
  • Ecommerce company with a short sales cycle and low transaction amounts. Purchasers don't need to invest in days, weeks, or months of research to make their decision to purchase from you -- the kind of in-depth purchasing that typically happens on a desktop device with more maneuverability and with less sense of urgency than mobile browsers typically have.
  • Events based, selling tickets to something people might want to attend. Again, the lower your transaction amount, the more important this becomes, because it's easier for someone to purchase tickets on the fly. For instance, if I walk by the Garden in Boston and I see Bruce Springsteen's playing tonight, you can bet your buttons I'm whipping out my cell to check out Ticketmaster for available tickets. (Note: Check out the amount of direct traffic you get to your site. You might find people are Googling for tickets, like in the Mamma Mia's Pizza Pie example from the first section of this post.)
  • Site that stores information. For instance, a bank where customers are checking balances (which, eMarketer reports, 77% of smartphone users cite as the most important task for mobile banking sites). Or a site that stores and protects passwords and logins. Or an airline where someone's checking in on their flight information (78% of smartphone users from the same eMarketer report cited this as the most important task on airlines' mobile sites). These types of businesses may not sell customers on mobile, but customer retention depends on their ability to create a user-friendly mobile site experience.
Again, I recommend checking out the amount of direct traffic that comes to your site; a high amount is a good indication that many people aren't relying on search results to find you ... they're already intimately acquainted with your business and its website. So even if that mobile SEO section sounded like you -- people need information like operating hours, location, directions, phone number -- if people are finding you via direct traffic, you better be sure your website is mobile optimized to provide that type of information, as well.

Prioritize Mobile Email Optimization If ...

So far we've talked a lot about the importance of mobile optimization for the "getting found" aspect of marketing. You know, the top of the funnel stuff. But if you're focusing on your middle-of-the-funnel marketing -- email marketing and lead nurturing -- you might want to shift your mobile optimization priorities away from mobile site optimization and SEO, and onto mobile email optimization. That means your emails look good across all different email clients, your subject lines stay around 20 characters or fewer (and are incredibly clear and compelling), you're sending both plain text and HTML versions of your email, your emails have limited images with clear anchor text, and your email doesn't require lots of scrolling, particularly from left to right.
Note: If your emails are sending mobile readers to landing pages on your site, those pages should be well optimized for mobile so it's easy for your recipient to read the content on the landing page, and fill out the form to redeem their offer. As such, there is a bit of overlap with the task of mobile site optimization here.

Prioritize Mobile Apps If ...

You actually have a good idea for an app.
The CMO Council study referenced earlier in this post cited that 32% of marketers are shifting budget to mobile app development. But 1 in 4 apps, once downloaded, are never used again. Hmm.
So I'll ask you again ... do you actually have a good idea for a mobile app? If your mobile app is helping your current (or future) customers do something better -- think things like putting through orders for recurring purchases, calculating common industry calculations, getting alerts for problems or opportunities -- then it might be worth your time to invest in creating an app. If it's just a "fun little idea you had for an app," you might end up being in that 1/4-of-apps-that-are-never-used-once-downloaded bucket. If your app is ever even downloaded, that is.
If you do decide to launch a mobile app and you want to actually get those downloads, it's critical you launch it correctly. So if you do have that game-changing app idea, reference this blog post, "A Marketer's Complete Guide to Launching Mobile Apps," to get the buzz your awesome app deserves.

Prioritize SMS If ...

You're primarily concerned with optimizing your current customers' experience. That's alright, too, by the way. Customer marketing is often neglected in the pursuit for new leads and business ... but never forget that the cheapest customers to acquire are the ones you already have. We've written an entire blog post to help marketers decide if SMS is actually a good idea for your business; you can read that post here, but the short answer is, it's often misused by marketers and ends up being a poor investment. If, however, you are in the business of providing service alerts, reminders, making service sign-up simpler and quicker, or trying to communicate with active customers, SMS campaigns might be right for you.

So, Which Scenario Sounds Like You?

In an ideal world, you get to do all of these things. But what marketer has the resources to do everything? Not many. If you want to jump on the mobile optimization bandwagon but don't know where to start, try to identify which of these scenarios sound the most like your business right now, and aligns the best with where your marketing priorities lie. Yeah, there will probably be some overlap, but the one you align with the strongest is where you'll get the most bang for your mobile optimization buck.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Pinterest vs. Facebook: Which Is REALLY the Better Visual Social Network?

Visual content has become one of the most desirable types of content -- because it's so darn easy to consume. But it's not enough to just create beautiful, funny, engaging visual content ... marketers are now wondering where the best place to promote that visual content is.
Just about every major social network allows marketers to share visual content in some capacity, but that doesn't necessarily mean that particular network is the best medium for visual promotion. And in a world of hundreds of social networks, marketers need to optimize their time to promote the most appropriate types of content on the most appropriate channels.
Until now, it's seemed like Pinterest really takes the cake in terms of the best social network for visual content promotion. But recently, Facebook launched a little something called Collections, which is a Pinterest-style feature that allows users to add products to a wishlist or curate them into a particular list. Sounds kind of like Pinterest, doesn't it?
It did to us. So it got us thinking ... which is the better social network for promoting visual content? Pinterest, or Facebook? I'm sure you'll come up with your own opinion, but let's evaluate both sides of the coin right now and see if we can't figure this thing out, using some fascinating statistics as fodder for our debate.

98% of people surveyed with a Pinterest account said they also have a Facebook and/or Twitter account.

Facebook has over 900 million active users -- 500 of whom are estimated to use Facebook daily. Meanwhile, Pinterest has over 10 million users, 98% of whom have a Facebook and/or Twitter account.
Clearly, Facebook has a much larger audience. And when it comes to sharing content online, you want it to reach as many people as possible. Duh. As such, Facebook's larger active user base covers a wider spectrum of people, whereas Pinterest's user base aligns with some really specific demographic and psychographic traits. I mean, sure, most business could be successful on Pinterest if they thought outside the box, but the fact remains the users there are certainly more apt to gravitate towards lifestyle-oriented products.
If Pinterest is so targeted, wouldn't it then be better for your diverse visual content to be on Facebook, where it can be seen by more people ... and a wider variety of people? That way if you post something more data-driven, or perhaps targeted to a male audience, you'd see greater success. And even if you posted something that would do well on Pinterest, most of those users are likely already using Facebook! So you'll still reach them.

Winner: Facebook

Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don't.

This AnsonAlex stat shouldn't come as a surprise -- infographics helped accelerate the visual content revolution. Content creators everywhere are finding ways to create and share infographics to help increase their reach and generate leads. One way to accelerate that reach is by sharing these infographics on social media.
But this actually presents a big problem when it comes to posting infographics on Facebook: Facebook is horizontal image friendly, and square image friendly. So any image you post on Facebook can either have a nice square look, or if you make it your cover photo or use the 'Highlight' tool, it can be a nice horizontal image. There's no place, however, for a clean vertical image on your business page, or in your news feed. Therefore, when you upload an infographic, you quickly see how teeny weeny it publishes ...

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... so teeny that you can't read a darn thing! This has left marketers to post links or a cropped version of the infographic to help pull readers in on Facebook.
On Pinterest, however, one can upload boards and boards full of infographics -- and you can see them beautifully! It's a place where people can easily pin and re-pin amazing infographic creations without having to worry about sharing a link where the user can see the rest of the infographic ... or buy a magnifying glass to see what the image is about. People love browsing infographics on Pinterest so much, in fact, there are entire boards dedicated to infographics!

Winner: Pinterest

On Facebook, photos perform best for Likes, comments, and shares.

This data comes to us via HubSpot's social media scientist, Dan Zarrella. One of the major reasons you should be using visual content is because of the power images have on increasing your reach. The more your images are shared through social networks, the more people your brand becomes visible to.
How does this play into our Pinterest vs. Facebook faceoff? Well on Pinterest, you can Like content, but that doesn't necessarily work its way into a news feed where people actively see that others are liking the pin. The way most content is seen on Pinterest is through repins.
On Facebook, however, content that is interacted with via likes, comments or shares directly impacts its visibility in user news feeds. And on Facebook, the world's largest social network, photos perform best. Naturally, the more images you share -- and the more they are interacted with, of course -- the more people your visual content (and your brand) reach. Pinterest is unfortunately limited to repinning.

Winner: Facebook

Pinterest drives sales directly from its website -- of people with Pinterest accounts, 21% have purchased an item after seeing it on Pinterest.

This information comes to us courtesy of ComScore and Nielsen. At the end of the day, the visuals you're sharing on your social channels is a way to introduce people to your brand. Whether it's through showing your product, or taking a more indirect route and publishing an image that simply gets a lot of shares, your visual content is a strategy for warming up users to your brand so they ultimately take some kind of transactional action.
Pinterest can directly lead to sales because users can be redirected to a business' website by clicking on the image -- right to, say, a product page? ;-) But now Facebook has its 'Collections' feature in beta, as mentioned earlier in this post. This new feature will allow users to easily bucket or "collect" products they like on Facebook business pages into wishlists for purchase. It's essentially a shopping cart -- something that Pinterest does not have.
The question now is, will the ability to save items into a wishlist for later prove a better way to purchase than clicking on a link and being sent directly to the site for purchase? For now, Pinterest clearly has the win with the impressive stat on correlation to sales ... plus it's available to all users. But as Facebook Collections is launched and perhaps adopted, it'll be important to watch if this changes.

Winner: Pinterest

40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text.

This stat from Zabisco leaves us in a toss up between Pinterest and Facebook. When users browse on Pinterest, they already know that they're looking at visual content. They have no choice to respond "better" or "worse" because all of the content is visual. But at the same time, perhaps the fact that Pinterest is all images creates more opportunity to respond well to the content!
Meanwhile, on Facebook, users are browsing a news feed full of both text and images. So when they see an image, they have the ability to respond "better" to that image because it's capturing their interest in a sea of text and links.
So the question is ... does Pinterest being comprised exclusively of images mean users are responding more positively all the time, or does Facebook see a more amplified positive response due to the intermittent images? Until we can figure that out more conclusively, we say ...

Winner: Tie

Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video.

This stat comes courtesy of Internet Retailer. And it's an excellent reminder that we shouldn't forget that video is visual content, too! If viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a video, your business sure as sugar better be creating video content.
Both Facebook and Pinterest allow you to upload video content. Even better, both allow users to view the video content right from that social network. There are small features that could work in each respective network's favor, but for the most part, both networks provide the same option. On Facebook, you can have the video playing while navigating around the rest of that business page or news feed. But on Pinterest, the video pops open and is still on your screen -- you can't navigate without closing the video. On the other hand, when you click on the video on Pinterest, it merely pauses and plays; when you click on a video on Facebook a second time (after the initial to play), it redirects you to YouTube, interrupting the user's experience.

Winner: Tie

So, Which Social Network is Better for Visual Content?

Here comes the answer that everyone hates to hear: it depends! Marketers should be evaluating what exactly they want to gain from sharing visual content, and then figuring out which social network helps them achieve that end. Perhaps your business is solely interested in sharing visuals for brand awareness and reach, for instance -- in that case, you might want to focus your efforts more on Facebook. But if your business is trying to drive purchases of a product, you might see more luck on Pinterest ... depending, of course, of your industry and target demographic. Continue to experiment with different social networks!

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