My Top 8 FREE Tools for Listening In on Your Customers

Social Mention

If you’re familiar with Google Alerts, this is the equivalent on social media channels. Enter the keywords you want to hear about; brand names, staff names, competitors, products, services etc. and Social Mention will send you an email each time those words or phrases appear across 80 social media channels.

TwitterTracking Twitter – via your Mobile

Keeping on top of social media can be time consuming but especialy on Twitter due to the massive volume and speed of content. Twitter’s own tracking allows you to be updated via your mobile whenever a keyword or phrase is mentioned:

FacebookFacebook Public Posts

Facebook’s own search facilities aren’t bad and here you can search for keywords and phrases on publicly posted comments. Dashboards offer an easier way to save a search but this is handy for one off queries.

Google Analytics

Previously a standalone tool known as PostRank, social monitoring is now built into Google Analytics.
To access it from within your Analytics account click on Traffic Sources > Social

Yahoo PipesYahoo Pipes

Yahoo pipes is an impressive and powerful online package for creating applications. This app, created by Kingsley Joseph searches the social media firehose (the entire social media sphere of content) using keywords and phrases:



Addict-o-matic is a great tool for creating a synopsis of content around a chosen subject. If you want to get an idea on key fashion trends, business news or just your competitors, enter the words in the box and click Create.

Board Reader

Board Reader is a comprehensive search of forums and community pages. While it would take hours to narrow the results on Google, this handy tool searches the world of intermittent chat for the phrases you need.


Hootsuite is a full featured dashboard for social media content distribution but it is also a handy listening tool. You can perform searches then save them as ‘Streams’ so each morning when you log in, the search results are all neatly lined up side by side on the topics you need to keep an eye on the most.



Why Copy (not paste) is the Foundation of Your Marketing

Vintage x-ray specs advert

In recent months I’ve seen countless adverts for social media managers, social media marketers and marketing personnel with social media skills and the closest requisite for good copywriting skills is ‘good communication skills’.

Being able to communicate as a marketer is often assumed to mean a great orator or at worst, a good interviewer. Copywriting, or copy, is the leading principle of all online marketing but this skill is rarely requested or even tested until it’s too late. Obvious aversions to having the apostrophe in the wrong place aside, good copy is not simply good English. It is the ability to match brand style and product selling points with target market readers.

The world of online books or e-books, PDFs, e-mail subscriptions and video courses is founded on good copy. A number of online marketers have literally made their millions by simply reselling their techniques of good copywriting. The best website in the world in terms of visual appeal, navigation and ease of purchase will be completed undermined by poor copy that does not resonate with the reader, walk them through the purchase cycle and reward their clicks. Proof of this can be seen in the thousands of websites that instantly come across as boring, text heavy and out of date compared to today’s graphically visual interactive channels but these sites seem to magically attract new and repeat business. Their secret remains in simply good copywriting.

The Yellow Pages is famous for it’s sales team’s ability to attract new business and convince ad buyers to design their adverts according to the Yellow Page’s specifications. Effective adverts are assumed to be a strong photo and bold text but the opposite is actually true. A text heavy advert that gives the reader more information, fewer images and something to actually read produced a much higher response rate than the average advert. So why do the sales team insist on their image rich designs?
If every advert on a page was text heavy it would make the overall page unappealing and that makes it harder to sell the ad space. But for us as the marketing people, we must look at the numbers and not the hype, or worse, what everyone else is doing.

Social media, as a web based platform was immediately seized upon by the I.T. literate, shunned by the PR departments and cautiously tested by the savvy marketing people. This created an imbalance in the focus. I.T. literate is often not aligned with good communication skills. PR have exactly the skills required to engage but not the technical knowledge to make the most of the platforms and marketing is left in the middle trying to do the job of three departments.

The secret to juggling these three areas of strategy, content production and engagement is good copywriting. The vast majority of material released by a marketer is copy. An innovative photoshoot, stylish advert or Internet meme can fly or flop based on the ‘simple’ caption. Websites, daily posts, Tweets and updates, blogs, e-mails, search engine tags and even your business card all come down to the judgement of others based on good copy.

So the next time you’re considering what material to release via social media, what photoshoot to setup or who to hire for your next campaign, start with researching the best form of copy to use.

Facebook Advertising is Incorporated into Status Updates

Promoting a specific post isn’t new in Facebook Advertising terms but now it’s an instant option within the Status box. (Figure 1)

Facebook Promote Post

Figure 1. Promote Post from the Status box

So how does it actually work? If you’re not familiar with Edge Rank, every post you send out is ranked with each ranking being different for every person. If for example you Like CocaCola and Pepsi but interact (i.e. click Like or comment) on more of Pepsis’ updates than CocoColas then you will see more of Pepsi’s updates in your feed. This is the same reason why you don’t see updates from all of your friends. You can choose to receive more or less updates from specific people but as a Page Admin you don’t know the settings others have placed upon your page updates. This is where Post Promotion comes in handy. Promoting a specific post ensures it appears on more peoples’ feed, people who already Like your page plus their friends.

This is the official Help Text:
“When you promote a post, it will be shown in the news feeds of more of the people who like your Page than you would reach normally. Friends of the people who have interacted with your post will also be more likely to see the story in their news feeds for up to 3 days from when the post was first created.”

So post promotion is a great way to get your name in front of the friends of your current Likes. It’s worth noting that the posts that appear in peoples’ feeds are marked as ‘Sponsored’, they also don’t appear on feed on the right hand side, only on the main wall.

The sponsored post can be sponsored for up to 3 days and you can pause the promotion at any time. The important thing to remember is the budget is a lifetime budget, rather than daily, so set your maximum spend.

If you haven’t placed an advert on Facebook before, you will need to setup payment details. These details are then associated directly with your personal Facebook account and for this reason, other Page Admins cannot edit or place promoted posts or adverts on your behalf. They must set up their own payment details to manage adverts.

Currently the Promote box is available to pages with between 400 and 100,000 Likes. Full details are available here:


Does anybody really scan a QR code?

Those funny little bar code thingies are more prevalent than ever; product boxes, subway adverts, magazines, newspapers and even random stickers on bus stop posts but does anybody really click on them?

The latest results from comScore say yes with some media outstripping others by almost 40%:

QR Code Usage

So with printed media making a successful cross over into digital media what sort of content are companies sharing via QR Codes?

Starbucks for example allow you to make a payment using their phone app by scanning the QR code of the product and making your purchase to save queueing:

Image courtesy of kRovs via Flickr use QR codes on the bottles of wines that are available from their online store such as Somontano. So now when you order a bottle in a restaurant you can instantly find out where to buy it again in the future.

Frankfurt in Germany includes QR codes alongside their Info Tag system that gives passengers real time alerts on travel news and discounts for travel pass holders. Passengers simply scan the code for the latest news at bus stops, railway stations and onboard.

Tesco on the other hand took things one step even further…

Social Media Training Courses Take Off

Social Media Training Course Participants

Local business owners taking part in our Social Media for SMEs course at our office in Belfast

Following a successful range of social media training courses for large and enterprise sized companies we have been developing a range of SME workshops focusing on platform awareness, engagement strategies, content production and measurement.

Designed for 6 – 10 people at a time, our two half day workshops cover the key platforms used for engagement, designing content production, distributing messages and building feedback from your target market. We also look at how to find your target market on social media channels and why vanity metrics have value, but only a tiny amount compared to selected key metrics which show how much your business is achieving by spending time on each social media platform.

More information about the latest course can be found here but do drop us an e-mail if you would be interested in finding out more about our industry focused training. Industry focused training days follow the same format as our two half day workshops but are designed around specific sectors and their individual challenges when marketing via social media.

GroupOn style status box launches on Facebook

A lovely new box is available on some types of Facebook pages – Offer,  Event +.
If you’re familiar with GroupOn you’ll quickly see the benefits of such an offering. Within Facebook you now have the option to build a targetted ad for your followers and page visitors at no cost. Bearing in mind the offer will only be seen by your followers or new page visitors unless you promote it with a paid advert, it still offers a great opportunity to promote a short term discount or special event.

You can also delete the offer at any time but bear in mind, anyone who has accepted the offer must be honoured with the deal.

Additional targetting options are language and country. This means your offer will be open to people who have not liked your page as well as your followers but ultimately that’s probably a good thing as you want new people to take up the offer and get engaged with your brand more than you want a quick click. In the long term you will have interaction through your offer and more opportunities to build Likes so it’s still a win.

Here’s the official line from Facebook on the new status box:

"Offers are a great way to drive new people to your business and to engage your customers. They also encourage people to talk about your Page when your offers are shared between friends. Offers are free for admins to create and share but are only available to a small number of local business Pages. We plan to launch offers more broadly soon."

Facebook Offers and Events status boxThis is the box as seen on one of our client pages.

These are the design specifications for the content:

  • Headline text: 90 characters
  • Terms and conditions text: 900 characters
  • Offer image size: 90 x 90 pixels, non-square images will be cropped to a square

For full details (and to request your status box if you haven’t got one already) go to

A Quick Caution on New Facebook Ad Options


Facebook Ads Objective

Facebook Ads Objective

If you’ve seen the latest Facebook advertising options you’ll know it’s more of a ‘wizard’ style layout than the full page previously presented. One of the options in the new layout is ‘Objective’.

There are two options here, “Like My Page” and “Click on My Ad or Sponsored Story”.

At first I imagined this to be a demographic choice based on previous user behaviour, i.e. Like My Page, would be targetted at people who clicked ads then Liked a page versus people who simply browse and leave.

Unfortunately this is not the case, the two options are in fact very simple  but getting the wrong one will burn through your budget in minutes.

“Click on My Ad or Sponsored Story” is literally, Pay Per Click (or Cost Per Click as Facebook calls it).

Any other objective, including “Like My Page” is Cost Per Impression, (CPM).

It’s worth noting that both options display the ‘Like’ button under the advert giving people the option to Like your page without clicking on the advert.