Social Media

  • 18 Dec

    Twitter search alternatives & tools (now we don't have Topsy)

    search twitter title banner(Editors note: With the sad demise to Topsy on the 15th of December, we thought it a pretty good time to update our list of alternative tools for searching Twitter. The original was written back in April 2010 by Tad Chef, and sadly, it’s not just Topsy from our original list of 30 alternatives that has since disappeared or stopped being updated).

    Back in 2010, Twitter added a mechanic to it’s then creaky search mechanism that added the most popular tweets as well as the latest, but it’s fair to say it didn’t impress. So, we collated 30 of our favourite Twitter search tools as a handy reference.

    Now, Twitter has vastly improved it’s internal search tool in the proceeding five years, and also offers some basic analysis tools such as Twitter Analytics ( However, most digital marketers still make great use of third-party tools to make the most of searching Twitter.

    More →

    By Charlie Williams Social Media
  • 10 Nov

    Don't Invite Bloggers To An Event Without These Tips

    The relationship between brand and blogger is a fragile one, and I can say that with some confidence as I wear both pairs of these shoes. By day I work in digital PR, and by night I am a travel and lifestyle blogger.

    As a blogger I love to get invites to relevant events in my area. It might be a party celebrating the opening of a new restaurant, or it could be a meet-up for other likeminded bloggers. Most of the time the emails I receive as a blogger make me excited, and I’m more than happy to engage with the brands or PR agencies who have been in touch.

    In fact, you can spot me below in a group shot from a blogger event in Oxford. Go on! It’ll be like Where’s Wally? I promise. Apart from the stripy jumper.

    OxMeet Bloggers

    But a small percentage of the time I am left rolling my eyes, or worse, completely offended with what has landed in my inbox. Luckily the instances of the latter are few and far-between.

    Saying that, I have a few handy tips for sending outreach emails to bloggers, especially if you want to get them on side before holding an event! You don’t want to negatively influence a write up if it’s you who has caused the issue and not the event itself.

    Make the event interesting

    This may seem obvious, but getting an event “right” is often more challenging than you might expect. The admin side is laborious; you will need to reply to many emails and phone calls, as well as making decisions about tiny details which may seem trivial.

    There needs to be a hook to get people to come to your event. If you’re a huge brand, bragging rights might be enough for your attendees, but most brands are going to rely on providing a freebie or an exclusive experience to entice potential attendees to say “yes”.

    Hook a duck

    In the past I have had success with gestures big and small; free nibbles and drinks can be just as effective as a full day event packed full of activities if you understand your outreach targets well enough.

    If you are a retail brand who organises events to reveal your new catalogue of products (I get emails like this from The White Company, Next, and Lush amongst others) why not try and create a more unique experience for bloggers? Press events are still fairly traditional; but bloggers are more likely to want to engage rather than just preview.

    So if you are launching a new tea set, have a full on tea party – maybe even invite teddy bears as plus ones if it gives you a memorable edge. If you are releasing a fresh clothing line, why don’t you invite bloggers to dress up in the pieces and put on a fashion show, with them as the stars? It’s the experience people want to write about, not just the product.

    Moving on to the outreach process itself, you’ll want to keep these considerations in mind…

    How will you approach them?

    There are many tools you can use to identify bloggers (something which I wrote about at length over on the SEMrush blog) but once you have a number of targets at your fingertips you are going to need to figure out how to actually contact them.

    Depending on the information that you can find, you will likely have the option of a number of social media platforms, as well as by email, or even by phone in some cases.

    Whatever you do, avoid contacting a blogger through the comment section on their “about me” page on their blog. Not only does this give your strategy away to competitors, but it can also reduce the chances of the blogger, and others who visit their site, of wanting to get involved with your brand. It looks impersonal, and it’s also less professional if it looks like you’re just taking the easy route.

    Get their name right

    Whether you use email or a DM on Twitter to contact the bloggers you have targeted, you should follow some simple rules for developing a better relationship with them.

    Chances are you will take offence when someone addresses you with the wrong name, so try and avoid doing this to someone else. Spelling is important. For example, my name is Hannah. It has never been Hanna, Hana, and especially not Anna. I find it rude when I get an email addressed to any of these spellings as my name is accessible on my blog as well as on my social media profiles.

    Have a consistent email format

    If you do go down the email route, be clever with your approach. Yes, carefully consider things like the subject line and the content of your email, but don’t forget about the smaller details too.

    Have you ever received an email that contains different colour text and fonts that don’t stay consistent throughout all of the content? These variations are red flags for copy and pasted content. Not personal. Not original. Just one version of an email that has been quickly adapted for you, but not crafted for you.

    Don’t be so obvious with copying and pasting content. Either adapt all content in one programme like Word or Google Docs and move it all over at the same time, or strip all mismatching HTML from your message by toggling between rich text to plain text and back again.

    Oh yeah, and make sure you don’t reference someone else’s name or blog URL in your invite. That’s poor form. Bloggers talk, so don’t be a negative talking point between them.

    Don’t spam on Twitter

    Even if you have ample spaces on for your blogger event, it’s best to avoid your entire Twitter feed being filled up with messages to various bloggers. There are phases when bloggers like to know others are involved, and the beginning of the event process isn’t usually it.

    The invitation is a thing of pride. Make sure you are fairly subtle in your approach by offering little teasers so people want to contact you for more information. Or if you are going to use social media, at least make it personal for each blogger.

    Zomato UK have figured out the magic formula for community engagement on Twitter, and whilst it isn’t exactly the same in terms of event invites, we can still probably gain some ideas from their approach. Look at how they target individual people whilst still speaking to a large audience…


    Keep it light

    Tone can be misunderstood when words are written instead of spoken, so keep the content of your email very friendly and positive. If you ask too much of people from the outset, they may think you’re trying to get the better side of the deal.

    Ultimately people don’t want to feel like they have been used just to promote your brand, so be respectful. It’s OK to reveal a hashtag for an event to encourage community interaction, but specifying that your invite is only redeemable if a blogger writes a post on their blog (maybe featuring a link to a specific URL on your site with predefined anchor text) is taking things a little too far.

    Maintain contact

    If you are organised in your approach, you will have invited bloggers to your event in plenty of time. But don’t let this be the one and only time you reach out to them before it happens.

    Try and chat more so you can start building that all-important relationship. It will be of benefit because it means that the bloggers you have invited will feel more valued by you and your brand, and will help to properly commit them to attending. A few no-shows are usually inevitable, but good communication will hopefully give you more warning.

    It’s wise to send an email to all attendees in the week running up to the event. Do not make the mistake of using the “to” field in your email if you’re going to send one email to all bloggers at once. Have the decency to use the “BCC” field so you can maintain a good reputation for privacy.


    I’d love to hear your own tips for inviting bloggers to events. Please leave me a comment below or get in touch through Twitter.

    By Hannah Butcher Social Media
  • 08 Sep

    Stop guessing! Develop a winning social media strategy with this step-by-step guide

    With the growing popularity of social media, businesses have a unique opportunity to engage with their fans and expand their brand’s visibility. Sadly, the common misconception is that you can just jump into social media without any preparations or a strategic thinking. Sadly this approach doesn’t work as months down the line businesses and their teams discover that a lack of strategy is holding them back.

    To help your social media grow I’ve put together this easy to follow-up guide – read the post or skip to the bottom of the page to discover an infographic explaining 9 steps to creating a winning social media strategy.

    Step #1: Understand why having a social media strategy is important


    As of May 2015, Google started showing tweets in search results bringing greater incentive to brands using social media. While this exciting news means new opportunities, it also leaves no room for ad-hoc social media management. In order to succeed, social media must be treated like any other marketing channel. It must be supported with a strategy which could help your business plan improve and expand.

    Having a social media strategy will help you:

    • Meet your business objectives and reach your targets
    • Understand what your competition is doing and how to get ahead of them
    • Meet your audience expectations by looking at their lifestyle, habits and interests
    • Overcome your business obstacle, whether you struggle with resources, time, budget or tools

    Step #2: Where does your social presence stand against your competitors?


    To get a true understanding of how your social media presence compares to your competitors, you need to begin with a comprehensive social media audit. By reviewing your own strengths and weaknesses you will be able to benchmark your own channels and spot further or even undiscovered opportunities.

    By digging deeper into industry trends and getting to know the latest changes you will be able to learn where you’ve been failing so far. Equipped with these findings you will gain a strong foundation for your social media strategy.

    Step #3: What are your social media goals?

    social-media-strategy-goalsThe success of any social media strategy is setting up realistic goals of what you want to gain from your investment in having a social presence. Your goals should match your digital marketing strategy but more importantly, they should be tied directly to your business goals.

    • Start by selecting at least three social media goals for your business
    • The goals you choose will depend of business type and character of your industry
    • Depending what are your key goals are, the strategy will differ and will also require applying different tactics
    • Some of your social networks may require a channel specific setup of objectives
    • Keep in mind all your goals should be achievable, measurable and you should be defined using S.M.A.R.T. goals criteria

    With your social growth and accounts expansion, you may discover the need to change your goals year after year, depending of how successful you are at achieving them.

    Once you know what your goals are, you can can start working on establishing next steps for your strategy.

    Step #4: What are your unique selling points?

    social-media-strategy-unique-selling-pointsTo prevent your messaging from getting lost within the noisy feeds, a clarification of unique selling points is crucial. This important, yet often overlooked element, will help your team members understand what your company’s unique proposition is and how your brand stands out from the crowd.

    Empowered with this knowledge your team will be able to help you create a the social presence your customers would love and engage with.

    Step #5: How do you segment your social media audience?

    To discover previously unknown revenue and ways of interacting with your consumers, audience segmentation is a must have. Defining who your audience is, what their needs are and their expectations will help you deliver the right message to the users who are best suited for your product, and most likely to buy.

    Different social media platforms allow you to segment your audience in different ways. Facebook offers the most options – instead of sending one message to your entire follower base, you can choose exactly who sees your post using criteria such as age, gender, interests, or life stage.

    Twitter does not allow this kind of customisation, meaning that your message goes out to everyone, so you have to make sure your messages don’t alienate any single group. As soon as you start paying for advertising however, your targeting options become more refined, on Twitter as well as Facebook.

    Step #6: What channels are you planning to use?

    social-media-strategy-channelsThe choice is endless when it comes to choosing social networks. Instead of spreading yourself across multiple networks which you have never used or don’t understand, focus on a couple of channels.

    This will rescue you from managing way too many accounts and not delivering on the promise of creating quality engagement and content. Go for the trending or upcoming channels only when your core channels are developed and hold a strong position, as any addition to this mixture would require extra time and investment.

    Step #7: How you are going to use content?

    social-media-strategy-contentContent is the foundation of any social media presence. Depending of your objectives and target audience, you can develop a plan which will allow you deliver valuable content on a consistent basis.

    B2C businesses tend to use social media to build a community around their products and influence others with social proof stories of how their products makes people’s lives better.

    B2B companies see social media as a way of positioning themselves as thought leader within the industry, promoting their company’s culture and employee’s knowledge, and a way of attracting new team members.

    Step #8: How are you going to use tactics to meet your goals

    social-media-strategy-and-tacticsWhen you know what your key goals are you can break down each of them into one or two tactics which are going to clarify how you are going to use each of these channels, what are you planning to do and how. You should also align each tactic with a measurable metric which will help you measure performance of your activities and keep you focussed in order to reach the final goal.

    Social Goal #1: Drive traffic to the website

    • Social Tactic #1: Establish posting consistency between Monday to Sunday
    • Social Tactic #2: Post social updates linking to your website at the timings when your audience is online
    • Social Tactic #3: Make your content a) sharable and b) visually engaging c) snackable by breaking the information down for easy consumption
    • Social Tactic #4: Recycle content in clever ways by reposting the same articles using different images, wording and calls-to-action

    Metric: Once you introduce regular posting, begin to track your performance to evaluate which of them are getting the most likes, favourites, shares, etc.

    Step #9: How are you going to measure your success?

    Finally, to determine whether your social activities are working and bring difference to your business, you need to measure their outcomes. By matching KPIs to your goals you will able to evaluate your progress but most importantly this data will help you demonstrate improvement and reveal true value of these activities.

    You must also remember to tie these metrics to specific time frames by defining when you want to see results by.

    Social Goal #1: Drive traffic to the website

    • SMART objectives: measure unique visitors from social media referrals, bounce rate, time on page, conversion rate and revenue
    • Timeframe: Increase number of visits to the website via Twitter by 35% by December.

    How to Develop a Winning Social Media Strategy


    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
  • 10 Aug

    Instagram ads: How this new commercial opportunity can inspire marketing efforts

    After 5 years of its launch, Instagram, the photo and video sharing app owned by Facebook, has opened up its advertising opportunities to local and global businesses. By switching on its API, marketers and brands will for the first time be able to purchase ads without the need for contacting Instagram’s sales representatives. While previously Instagram’s advertising was limited to certain countries and required a serious budget of $50,000 minimum spend, this all is about to change.

    From now on ads will be easy to access as the release of the API will allow marketers to schedule campaigns through third-party tools as well as track their effectiveness from the data that is generated.

    Why has Instagram made a leap into ads?

    Instagram’s ads are nothing new, they have been put to the test since 2013 by a very limited number of major brands such as Disney, Cadbury, Waitrose and The Gap. This extra time allowed the network to perfect its execution to please both brands and Instagram’s users whilst turning itself into a shopping and marketing destination.

    As a repose to the growing demand to use Instagram more effectively, and to allow consumers asking ‘How do I buy this’ to take action, the app decided to take next step into the world of advertising.

    To keep the balance right, Instagram introduced a strict policy in order to manage the volume and frequency of its ads aimed at helping marketers create customised commercial content without disrupting the user experience too much.

    Why and how brands can use Instagram’s ads

    Instagram, which last year took overtook Twitter in number of monthly active users, has according to Forrester’s analysis the highest engagement rate of 4.21%, delivering ‘58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter’.


    You can just imagine how brands, who are struggling to generate engagement on Facebook and Twitter, can make content promotion more successful by merging Instagram’s activities with its new paid advertising availability with:

    ● TARGETING: Amongst the first brands to sign up to Instagram’s new advertising API is online retailer Net-a-Porter. The brand is using this advertising feature to target ads in real time to a very specific audience across Europe within 24 hours of their events. Marketers will be able to target consumers based on age, gender, demographic and most importantly, their interests.
    ● ACTION FORMATS: Adverts will be supported with buttons like ‘Learn more’, ‘Sign-up’, ‘Install now’ or ‘Show now’ allowing users to discover relevant and beneficial content outside of the app.

    ● INTERACTIVE FORMATS: Brands will be able to drive direct sales, app installs and engagement not just with photo ads but also with adverts including a carousel of several images or interactive video ad formats.

    ● DATA MANAGEMENT: The spend and ad management tools will help marketers to monitor and evaluate their advertising efficiency.

    The commercial benefits of using Instagram ads can be very powerful especially for companies aiming to drive further brand awareness and engagement.

    Those who create branded content and are not short of visual collateral can use paid promotion to help their messages stand out while making them more playful resources. Anyone who is looking to reach a young demographic or Millennials could certainly give these ads serious thought too.

    Before you start investing in Instagram’s ads

    As ads will appear in user’s streams, it’s important to make them feel as if they are part of a regular posting activity. More than ever before, keeping the balance right between organic and promoted updates will play a crucial role in helping brands avoid over spamming the audience with offer-based advertising.

    To take the full advantage of this new marketing opportunity you need to consider a few elements and focus on making your adverts:
    A) Relevant: Take full advantage of the targeting options available to deliver the right message to the correct audience.
    B) Aesthetically pleasing: Instagram is all about beautiful imagery combined with storytelling. This is why Instagram aims to turn its advertising offering into a premium magazine-like solution. Keep this in mind when selecting content and imagery for your future ads.
    C) Engagement enhancing: Respect Instagram’s user ecosystem where your brand is part of a broader conversation.

    While the advertising news has been welcomed by us marketers, Instagram’s creative community has been left slightly worried about the future of their feed. It’s our responsibility to apply advertising solutions in the best possible way to ‘fit’ the vibe of Instagram’s creative essence and reassure the audience that branded advertising is just a way of helping consumers and brands connect together through paid content which makes the discovery process a much faster and easier experience.

    What are your thoughts about Instagram ads? Is your business planning to use this advertising format?  Let me know in the comments below how are you planing to use it and what are you hoping to achieve.


    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
  • 28 Jul

    10 visual ways to double traffic and engagement from your social media updates

    Producing regular content on social media is crucial for any brand aiming to remain memorable and engaging. But with so much content published across various social channels every second of every day, the pressure is high to remain visible in a visual and different way.

    If you want to make your social media posts a bit more punchy and never allow them to be scrolled right past, you are in the right place. In this post I’m going to share some tips and tricks on how to make your content jump out.

    Mastery of visual content

    guide-to-sharable-visual-contentGone are the days when visual content was achieved using stock imagery. In comparison to a year ago there are now much smarter solutions thanks to expansion of mobile apps, design and editing tools which allow users to create something they will love to share and talk about. With the growing importance of becoming a publisher and investment in content creation, understating how content should be promoted on social media has never been more important.

    Paying attention to visual content and looking for ways to stand out is something any brand should think about when looking for ways of increasing longevity and making distribution process more worthwhile.

    Let’s have a look at 10 different ways of how to start thinking visually when crafting and promoting your content on social media:

    1. Make your branded hashtags memorable

    branded-hashtagOften branded hashtags are getting ignored as they look similar to every other tag out there. Visual content gives ability to customise your message while turning this hashtag into a more prominent part of the campaign.

    Post Office makes their #HolidayFeeling hashtag stand out by adding it not just within the copy of each tweet, but also by making it part of each graphic. Use of vibrant colours helps the tag to be more visible while the consistency of adding it to all the graphics making it far more memorable.

    The use of branded visuals is also a great way of being able to go beyond Twitter’s character limits in order to tell unique story and offer type of storytelling that otherwise would be impossible.

    2. Turn feedback into animated GIFs

    Brands often use open questions to boost conversations on social media. But asking questions is simply not enough, it is what you do afterwards with any sort of user-generated content that truly counts. Dove recognised the full potential of generating customers feedback and made it a prominent aspect of its latest #SpeakBeautiful campaign. Similarly to Dove, you can reward your most engaged followers who are contributing to your conversations, by turning their answers into sweet little animated GIFs.

    3. Provide value and humour with quotes

    lipton-social-media-quotesYou can’t go wrong with a good pearl of wisdom! From metaphors, to facts and helpful takeaways combined with a striking image – these assets can draw attention in someone who ignored your message in the past. You can easily create them using image creation tools such us Buffer’s Pablo or Recite. Creating your own quotes is well worth trying tactic especially if your are looking for ways to educate or inspire your community. Making them yourself will expand your content library with unique and branded content that nobody else has.

    4. Turn your tweets into photo collages


    One of the latest features on Twitter allows you to add not just one but up to 4 images into one tweet. In the past to achieve an effect of a photo collage, I had to use external apps or a tool to create such a format. Now you can easily and much faster do it yourself on both mobile and desktop versions of Twitter.

    To my surprise not many brands are using this method which is another great way of attracting customers attention which also can make your messaging far more interesting.

    5. Use eye-catching imagery

    cotswold-outdoor-social-media_Stories told through eye-catching photography evoke passion for certain hobbies, activities and in some cases they even give the sense of certain adrenaline. Especially for eCommerce retailers it’s crucial to remember that consumers use not only information but emotions to evaluate brands out there.

    The tactic of ‘in-your-face’ promotion with the use of imagery taken straight from the website, which doesn’t fit social channels sizing requirements, should be put aside in favour of showing and sharing stories the audience actually cares about and can relate to.

    6. Inject humor with appropriate image dimensions


    You should never be afraid to experiment with your content and adjust it to your brand’s personality. Sometimes playfulness might be the best way of attracting someone who is mindlessly scrolling and skimming through social media feed.

    Here’s a great example from Chester Zoo showing how one image can be turned into a meme with a bit of planning and creative execution. This approach works extremely well on various devices, whether browsed on desktop or mobile. Without splitting this photo into 3 parts, the image posted as portrait won’t display correctly and won’t be able to reveal the greatness of this capture.

    Try to keep in mind image sizing when sharing photos on Twitter, as the in stream photo displays as 440×220, what means that some of its aspects will be hidden and won’t show until being clicked on. It’s also worth pointing out that Twitter favours landscape, not portrait photos, as they display more effectively. If that is a problem for you try to use portrait photos as photo collages, which I mentioned in the paragraph above.

    7. Use branded visuals with a powerful copy oxfam-social-media-and-branded-visuals

    If you want your data or content get much higher recognition, try breaking down the numbers or copy with the use of visual content. Treat an image as your additional brand awareness tool and a way of presenting to your consumers these important facts which matter to your brand.

    My favourite example and huge inspiration is Oxfam who so excellently mastered the way of extracting information while turning it into a strong visual signal. Their graphics are always easy to consume and are able to empower the reader to stop to think and contemplate the message. With a support of vibrant designs, easy to read typography and branded logo, the charity is able to increase its recognisiton while evoking familiarity with the discussed subject. Shares, comments and likes are in this instance a well deserved result of a well thought through but not easy to pursue strategy.

    8. Add calls-to-action

    whole-foods-social-mediaIf you are planning an event make sure to strengthen your messaging with easy to read visuals which contains all the needed information. This graphic used by Whole Foods Market promoting their cheese nights highlights all the crucial elements one needs to know:

    – Name of the event
    – Clarification if the event is paid or free
    – Date
    – Timing
    – Location

    9. Brighten up your updates with emoticons

    emoticons-used-on-social-media_Feelings are playing a significant role in communication on social media. The interaction behind the screen and character count may not always allow you to fully express those emotions, but emoticons may be just the right solution you are looking for.
    While they are pretty to look at, emoticons are also useful as they help increase interactions by making the copy feel more personal. :)

    10. Create video photo collages

    Don’t let lack of video content hold you back from tapping into an autoplay feature on Instagram, Facebook, Vine and Twitter. You can create beautiful video collages like Chester Zoo made entirely out of photos which stitched together come to life in a form of short video.

    Use tools like Flipagram or PhotoGrid to create interactive content which is not only easy to consume thanks to autoplay which activates itself within people’s timelines and newsfeed. But which also is more engaging and effective for brands aiming to increase its content reach as they are 2.5x more likely to be preferred by people than other viewing methods.

    I hope this post will inspire your activities on social media while making the process of updating your accounts a far more interesting task. To avoid routine and master visual storytelling, mix up various styles and formats and experiment with new solutions.

    Have you used any of the mention in the post tactics of visual content? I would like to know which of them are the most effective for your brand! 

    By Kasia Piekut Social Media
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