If you watch one damn slide deck all year make it this one

Or, the science of great content that gets shared.

Only watch this if you want you want more people to read and take action on your content.

In June, a team from Upworthy gave a presentation at Netroots Nation about their approach to writing headlines and other content – all the while getting your stuff shared out the wazoo. I thought it was a terribly useful deck then, especially for nonprofit organizations that struggle to not just build a social media following but, more critically, have trouble getting their social communities to do much of anything.

The deck was updated for Rootscamp this past weekend. Check out the deck here or embedded below – but only bother if you have any interest in doing what it takes to make your social media communications get attention. Hell, all your communications could benefit from these insights into headlines, interesting writing, testing, optimizing sharing, and testing some more.

A few highlights for your consideration…

  • These folks know what they’re talking about. Upworthy launched in late-March, 2012. In eight months they have 791,000 Facebook fans, 43,000 Twitter followers, and 10,000 Tumblrs. Their early growth far (FAR) outpaces that of Huffington Post, BuzzFeed or Business Insider.
  • Middle aged women are the biggest sharers on the Internet. If your mom wouldn’t share your stuff you’re probably failing.
  • Write 25 headlines. Test the better ones. Use the best one.
  • The share image matters. A lot.
  • Make sharing on your website as easy as possible. So easy your mom could do it. Test these things, too.
  • Test. Collect data. Figure out what the data says. Test again. Repeat. Rinse. Test again.

For what it’s worth, we have seen even small sharing optimization tweaks have huge impacts on sharing when working with clients on email, websites, social media, and so on. Make sharing easy. Write great content. Here’s Upworthy’s deck:

Social media is like soylent green: It’s made of people

Hats off to Brian Solis for a simple but powerful thought about social media today. He answers the question “What’s your best advice to social media managers?” The answer:

Stop talking about social media

Boom. Simple. We couldn’t agree more.

Note that this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about if or how you measure the ROI of your Facebook or Twitter efforts. Fact is that C Suite types want to know why they’re spending time and money on anything.

The point is that nonprofit organizations, like any enterprise, need to think about the outcomes they need and what they need people to do to make those outcomes happen.

For a nonprofit, it doesn’t matter how many people like you on Facebook or how many retweets you got last week. What matters is whether the people at the other end of those communications channels (along with the people reading your blog, direct mail, answering the phones when you call, reading your email alerts, getting your SMS alerts and more) are, both immediately and over time, taking the actions needed to make the change you want to see in the world.

Think of your organization’s fundraising, outreach and mobilization strategy as one big pie…a pie made up of people. Social media is one to reach those people. Some people use it a lot and many will share great (and funny) stuff with friends. Many use mobile. Others use email.

Social media is not an island. Don’t treat it as one. Make sure that your social media and other digital communicators are working closely with offline communicators and organizers. Look for overlaps between social media profiles, email addresses, web visitors and direct mail addresses. Understand how people use these to take action on your behalf.

Most of all, understand how people communicate, engage and act. Stop talking about social media and focus on the people and what they need.

Photo by ROFL CAT

 

The State of Social Media and Social Media Marketing


Earlier in the month, Esteban Contreras published a terrific “State of Social Media” report with a particular focus on social media advertising (h/t to SocialFish).

Facebook remains the big giant with 900 million monthly active users. YouTube is in the same class with 800 million, but these two dwarf everyone else (Zynga, which itself has 40% more users than its next closest competitor, only has 232 million MAUs). Facebook, in other words, “has established itself as THE social platform,” and – unexceptional earnings reports notwithstanding – it is likely to hold that turf for some time to come as it improves and expands functionality like scheduling, post-level metrics, mobile-only ads, and the like.

Spending on social network advertising is growing fast (projected at 43% growth in 2012), and even though the rate of growth is expected to decline (dropping to 18% in 2014), that still amounts to massive increases, hitting $5.5 billion in 2014. One implication for nonprofits and everyone else: it’s increasingly difficult to get noticed, especially on Facebook. Spending on local social ads, as a component of overall social ad spending, is also growing quickly. But despite the spending trends, it’s still unclear how effective social network ads are. LinkedIn is a notable exception.

More than half of adult cell phone owners go online using their phones: “Mobile is becoming the first screen.” This is a HUGE ongoing shift that nonprofits ignore at their peril.

Google+ is still pretty far back in the pack in terms of users (only 150 million MAUs), but it hit those numbers in just one year of operation, and it enjoys really high engagement levels: “I still think Google+ is the dark horse here …” This robust engagement includes 50% of Google users signing in at least once a day and spending an average of 60 minutes a day on Google.

Some other noteworthy trends:

  • YouTube is seeing a drop in users but claims it’s making up for it with increasing engagement.
  • YouTube is investing $100 million on its own premium channels.
  • Daily Twitter use continues to grow, especially among 18-24 year olds.
  • Use of location-based services on smartphones continues to grow quickly as well, up 55% from just a year ago. One in five use “geosocial” apps.
  • With Klout at the front of the parade, we’re now seeing a bundle of startups rushing to measure influence among social network users.
  • Trending tactics in social media marketing include: social curation, frictionless sharing, visual experimentation, storytelling, fan-centric content.
  • “Good experiences are key to earned social media advocacy.”

Why Twitter is Bigger Than You Think

Photo by Flickr user stevegarfield.

Edison Research posted last week about their new research on how Americans use social media. One interesting finding: a huge percentage (89%) of Americans twelve and older are familiar with Twitter while a much, much smaller percentage (10%) actually use it.

This has been a pretty consistent finding over the past several years, so while it’s interesting, an even more interesting finding is the explanation for that gap. Edison concluded that “44% of ALL 12+ Americans report seeing tweets in other media (radio, TV, newspaper or other websites) ‘Almost Every Day,’ and 80% of Americans overall claim to have ever seen tweets in other media.” This is big deal, because it means that Twitter’s impact is outsized relative to its market penetration and because it means that its impact is actually quite complicated, filtering through other media in addition to whatever direct impact it has.

Edison points to three important implications:

  • Regardless of how you use Twitter, most Americans (as in an actual majority of Americans) view Twitter as a purely broadcast network.
  • As such, Broadcasting is far from dead, and social isn’t killing it. Social is changing it, but in terms of how most Americans consume tweets, Twitter is just another cable network.
  • If you are measuring anything based upon unstructured data mined from Twitter (particularly influence), you are missing nearly 80% of the potential impact of Twitter by not taking the cross-media and offline impact of Tweets into account.

They won’t be releasing the actual study until Blogworld NY in early June, so we may have to wait until then to really dive into their findings, but it may have substantial implications for what an effective nonprofit Twitter strategy might look like.

Some of the most important nonprofit uses of Twitter are relatively confined, involving conversations amongst engaged nonprofit folks. Twitter is where a lot of those conversations happen, and a nonprofit Twitter strategy might fruitfully focus on engagement in those conversations. It’s not clear that the Edison study impacts that type of strategy very much.

But for nonprofits that want to use Twitter to engage with people outside of those conversational circles, paying attention to how tweets and Twitter memes escape the Twittersphere and penetrate other channels and other conversations is really important.