Before making a purchase decision, people read reviews, feedback, testimonials or opinions on the web. If the reviews are positive, there is a greater probability of purchase. However, if the reviews are negative, people are likely to move on to something else. Therefore, positive opinions or reviews play crucial role in financial gains of individuals, organizations, and businesses. But, unfortunately, this leads to shady practices, like the posting of fake reviews, or opinion spamming.
The term opinion spamming refers to unethical activities such as posing fake reviews that mislead the consumers, for example: writing good things about a product that doesn’t merit the glowing review. Fake reviews also come in the form of negative opinions about competing products and businesses. This damages the reputation of the competition. It becomes obvious why detecting fake reviews is critical for both the consumer, and a business.
Detection or identification of fake reviews or opinion spamming involves the use of relational modeling, graph-based methods, pattern discovery, and supervised learning. Some of the signals that can be used include:
- Relationships: The complexity of relationships that exists among the entities (products, stores, etc), reviews, and reviewers
- Product related features: Some of the features that could be considered include sales rank, sales volume, and product description
- Reviewer abnormal behaviors: The public data that is available from online sites, like first reviewers of the product, frequency of posting, time of posting, reviewer id, etc. In addition to these features, the opinion spamming detection algorithm can also discover uncommon characteristics of these fake reviews. Another indicator of abnormal behaviors is the private/internal data of websites such as the reviewer’s physical location, time taken to post each review, IP or MAC addresses, etc
- Review Content: Some of the important detecting features include lexical features like parts-of-speech, grammar, words and grammar, or other lexical attributes. Style or content similarity of reviews obtained from different reviewers can also indicate opinion spamming. Semantic inconsistency is another feature that can be used for detecting fake reviews.
In addition to the above, you can also avoid fake reviews by avoiding fake accounts that exist on social media.
This is done by checking for the blue verified tick prior to liking or following a business’s, celebrity’s or brand’s social media profile or page. Both Twitter and Facebook now feature the blue verified tick. The blue tick badge that appears next to the profile name shows that the profile or page has been verified. Therefore, you must understand that a profile or page of any business or individual having lots of followers, likes, or positive comments, does not necessarily indicate its validity or genuineness.
Vine, a video app, also features a verified tick. If the Twitter account of the business or the individual is verified, then the Vine account will be automatically verified. However, another renowned social media network, Instagram, doesn’t feature verified badges. If you are in doubt, you must check the account’s official website. Genuine Instagram accounts always show links to business’s official website.
Humans are wired to respond to visual stimulation. As historically recorded, thousands of years ago, people narrated their lives in cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphs. Today, art, books and various multimedia platforms have created a new narrative landscape populated by brands in many shapes and forms.
Everyday, the average person is exposed to hundreds of different advertising messages from hundreds of different brands. Of those, people tend to be most attracted to brands with authentic narratives and compelling imaging.
In the current digital era, social media is no doubt a great tool to increase your online presence. The problem lies in the fact that as more brands jump on the Internet bandwagon, marketing clutter can make it harder for your brand to stand out and compete.
Effective Visual Branding on Social Media
1. Build a Brand Narrative
– In the following video titled ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’, author Simon Sinek explains his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. Addressing the question of why Apple always seems to surpass other computer brands, Sinek postulates that Apple’s success as a brand can be attributed to the fact that Apple believes in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. And did you notice the high quality and neatness of their photography?
The take-away: Determine why your brand is great and the kind of narrative you want to share with the world will emerge. Invest in high-quality photography, digital imaging and graphics.
2. Make Your Brand Memorable
Did it ever happen to you that you are spending an amazing day at the beach and suddenly, bursting out of the ocean, you feel like a Coke?
It’s not a coincidence!
Coke uses ‘red’ to associate excitement with their product.
Big brands have realized a long time ago that colors can impact how they appeal to their target audience. Color is more than just a hue. It makes a statement.
But you do need to be consistent with your use of colors. Social media includes virtually anything you post online. This includes but is not limited to tweets, Facebook posts, shares and web content. A brand’s authenticity relies on consistency.
Here is an excerpt from KISSmetrics’s infographic that gives some general guidelines on how colors affect American online shoppers:
With 400 million Tweets a day and 200 million active users, people turn to Twitter to talk about the things they care about, whether it’s the news that affects their lives or the businesses down the road, including your business. This gives you a powerful context to connect your business message to what’s most meaningful to your customers in real time.
Using Twitter, you can:
1. Listen and Learn
Twitter is the perfect platform for you to see what your competitors are tweeting about and gather market intelligence. It’s an easy way to get insights that you can then use to form your own twitter marketing strategy.
2. Grow and Succeed
Whether you want to grow your business, strengthen and promote your brand or run exciting promotions, Twitter can amplify your efforts in these areas and more.
3. Learn from Others
Study how these businesses use Twitter to drive transactions and connect with customers.
Your Twitter Profile
Your Twitter profile is the entry point for your audience. As such, every element of your profile including your @username, photo and bio should reflect your brand personality.
1. Put your Best Face Forward
Your Twitter profile and background images represent your brand. It’s therefore time to put your best face forward. Use a profile image that reflects your company. Logos work. Feel free to get particularly creative with a background or header image to give your page a finished look.
2. Choose your @Username.
Your @username is your Twitter URL. It should be straightforward and reinforce your brand identity. Once you decide on a @username, put it on your marketing materials, both online and offline so your customers know where to find you.
3. Introduce Yourself
Write a clear and concise bio that describes your business. No need to write a novel. To help drive traffic, you can also include, in the bio, a trackable link to your main website or to a specific landing page.
4. Making the Different Elements Work Together
At the end of the day, when designing your Twitter profile, you need to make the individual elements described above work together to best reflect your business: Your name, bio, website and profile picture. You should also keep in mind that people may access your page across screens, from smartphones to tablets to laptops.
8 Reasons Why You May Be Unpopular on Twitter
1. Your Twitter Profile Has No Face
Often businesses have a Twitter profile but with no face. This will NOT help your popularity on a social media site like Twitter. Avoid uploading images of celebrities. Use an original profile image. You’re no Lady Gaga! She can get away with using the image of an egg as her profile picture. You probably can’t.
Launched in June 2011 by search engine giant Google Inc., Google+ is a social networking service with 300 million+ in-stream active users. It integrates numerous Google services, including Google Profiles. Most notably the social network, also referred to simply as G+, allows users to group their contacts into Circles, enabling members to sort their contacts into specific categories. This in turn allows users to tailor posts and send them to specific social groups.
Google+ Quick Facts
- 22% of online adults use Google+
- 42% use the social network to interact with brands’ content
- 70% of top brands use Google+
- Google+ refers the most traffic per visit: 2.45 pages
- Google+ generates nearly as much engagement per follower as the social media giant Facebook
- Google+ generates twice as much engagement as Twitter
Clearly Google+ is the next big thing.
Marketing on Google+
1. Perfect your Profile
Getting on Google+ is like setting up your home in a new, exciting metropolis. To get yourself known, you will need to go out and meet the neighbors. Google+ was launched in June 2011 so your neighbors have been having a street party for quite some time now.
– Set up your profile with a clear photo of your face and a creative or exciting image as the cover photo to visually represent your brand. In case of a business, you can also showcase your brand personality with a company logo.
– Link your Google+ page to your site. The use of Google+ badges is subject to the Google+ Platform Buttons Policy. Because Google+ pages, profiles and communities are different, Google offers slightly different versions of the badges, which you can read about here.
– To find people to whom you relate, use hashtags to search people with similar interests. You can then add these people into your circles.
2. Create and Manage Circles
Circles make it easy to share the right things with the right people. To start out with, Google+ gives you a few circles but you can also create new circles for even more flexibility. On Google+, you can shout, speak or whisper. You can share as broadly or narrowly as you want. If you have something to say that the world needs to hear, choose “Public.” To keep your message to a specific group, choose one of your circles.
3. Get Involved and Be Active
No matter what you’re into, there are people on Google+ who share your interests. Search for public communities around the topics you’re passionate. This is a great way to meet new people and join conversations.
There are lots of ways to share with your communities. Post beautiful photos and videos, plan events, or even have face-to-face discussions using Hangouts.
– Only share your own stuff
– Just post links and photos without describing them
– Share the same post multiple times
You can also create real-world groups of people like your basketball buddies and fellow classmates. It’s simple: If you find yourself sharing regularly among the same group of people, communities are a fast and fun way to stay in touch more easily.
Content Marketing on Google+
Right now there is an opportunity for everyone to build his or her global network using Google+. Google+ can amplify your business messages i.e. your content and create:
– Engagement on posts themselves
– Social traffic to your website
– And Traffic to your website that comes from Google Search.
This not only increases your business reach and impact, it creates business.
In our never-ending quest to increase conversion rates and revenue, we often focus on web design and offers, and overlook the power of customer reviews. In truth, no amount of advertising or tweeting can impact customers the way an objective peer review can. This is because, in this age of social media and online reviews, what you say about your business is important; what people say about you matters even more.
So, How Important are Online Reviews to Consumers?
According to BrightLocal’s Consumer Review Survey 2013,
- 85% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses
- Lifestyle businesses attract the most searches including restaurants and clothes shops
- 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more
- 65% of consumers are more likely to use a business which has positive online reviews
- 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
These findings provide unequivocal evidence of the growing influence of online reviews on the purchasing habits of people. Nowadays more and more consumers are consulting reviews as a first step in their pre-purchase research of local businesses.
These stats are self-explanatory as to why small businesses need customer reviews. Put quite simply, user reviews increase conversions. They can eliminate doubts potential customers may have about a particular product or service or they can help the process of product selection.
The SEO Benefits of Reviews
Improved conversion rates and overall customer experience are among the most obvious reasons for encouraging customer reviews but let’s not forget the considerable SEO benefits as well.
1. Customer reviews generate fresh and unique content for the search engines.
2. Improved rankings for the name of your products plus the word ‘review’ or related words such as ‘ratings’.
3. Reviews can sometimes serve as rich snippets to help increase click throughs from the search engine results pages.
4. And content generated by user reviews increases your chances of ranking well for long tail keywords.
In 2014, public relations are as much about conversing with customers on a one-on-one basis as it is about releasing press releases. Companies have traditionally relied on this form of media to give them a face, or public image.
Today, however, social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest provide a platform with which you can interact directly with your customers. This is an extraordinary opportunity, as it gives you the chance to show consumers that you’re more than a faceless corporation. Now more than ever, consumers want to know that they can reach you at a moment’s notice, and more importantly, they expect to be able to.
When you speak to your consumers, remember that you’re speaking to your audience. Your message isn’t buffered by the media. Be germane and up front at all times. Keep your messages concise, but friendly, and always address customer questions directly. Consumers are extremely sensitive to “the run around.” Additionally, when you engage with your customers via social media, your consumers expect the Who, What, Where and How, but they crave to be given this information by a familiar face.
One of the main advantages of supplementing your normal PR efforts with a consistent social media presence is that the interest you generate can help feed traffic created by your normal press releases. With this in mind, you should avoid bombarding your audience with a constant barrage of messages. Create a posting schedule, and plan to release more messages when you post your press releases. This will help you avoid exhausting your audience. This is especially important for businesses, as consumers will already assume that they’re trying to drum up business.
Embrace Brand Journalism
According to Roper Public Affairs, a series of articles can be more effective than a press release or any number of advertisements. In fact, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to learn more about a product or service through articles than through advertisements. While the press release will always be an important PR tool, you shouldn’t overlook the power of brand journalism, or content marketing, as marketers call it.
Brand journalism, put simply, is the practice of cutting out the middle man—the press—and instead speaking directly to customers. A risky venture, for sure, but if done correctly, you can generate massive brand awareness and trust. One powerful strategy entails creating a series of articles that expound on the content within a planned press release, and then promoting them via social media as the press release goes live. It’s important to note, however, that these articles should be information oriented. Don’t use them to hard-promote your product or service. Instead, use them to illustrate to your readers that you’re an authority in your niche.
Niche authority is one of the most powerful assets that you can possess, and unfortunately, you can’t create it with a press release alone. When consumers consider you an authority in your niche, they’ll be more willing to expose themselves to your products. This in turn, gives you a much higher chance of snagging the conversion. Being an authority renders PR much easier, as well. A strong blog and social media presence gives you the opportunity to tackle rumors and slurs head on. Early adopters of brand journalism include P&G, Cisco Systems, John Deere and Microsoft. These companies have brought on journalists to power their own websites, and they’re reaching customers directly with stories that blur the line between ad and news story.
5 Social Networks & Apps Businesses are Getting Creative On (Other Than Facebook, Twitter, G+ & Pinterest)
In 2014, some 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind. Facebook remains the platform of choice but according to a study by Pew Research Center, a striking number of users are now also diversifying to other platforms with some 42% of online adults using multiple social networking sites simultaneously.
As a business, you want to be where your customers are. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are obvious social networks you should be using to increase your business reach and impact but there are other popular social networks out there that you are neglecting and that can potentially do your business a lot of good.
For one, millions of people from all over the world use Tumblr every month to find, follow, and share information. Tumblr is the perfect social network empowering businesses to create content and get it in front of the audience they deserve. By all accounts, Tumblr gives you a means to create a brand identity you can be proud of and tell your story using any number of media including pictures, animation, text, music, video, and more.
– 125k new users sign up on Tumblr every day
– There are 140M blogs on Tumblr
– With 63B posts
All you have to do to tap into this traffic is sign up on the social networking site (a process that takes under 30 seconds) and you can create content and engage with the very active Tumblr community by being an authentic member. How you tell your story on Tumblr is entirely up to you. Tumblr also makes it super easy for businesses to syndicate content across the web and other networks.
Instagram is unlike any other platform. The single focus of this social network is captivating imagery and this gives brands an avenue for rich visual storytelling. How you tell the story of your brand is what makes you unique. Instagram, in turn, promises:
– An engaged community; Instagramers are passionate about the platform.
– A visual medium where captivating imagery takes the center stage
– And a beautiful and inspiring environment
– Instagram boasts 200M active monthly users
– With 65% of those users being outside the United States
– 60M photos are shared on the network everyday
– That generate 1.6B likes
Effective communication is never a one-way street. Perhaps this explains the popularity of social media with businesses. Marketing methods used in the past have not been very conducive to back and forth discussions, have they? But social media, that’s a different story. Social media marketing actually thrives on interaction and engagement between a business and its customers. The challenge is to make people feel valued. In social media, you acknowledge the needs and desires of your audience and work towards fulfilling them. More often than not though, getting the conversational ball rolling is easier envisaged than done.
So how can a business increase its Facebook Page engagement?
We’ll get to that in a minute but first, let’s cover how much traffic you can expect from Facebook.
– Facebook has over 1.5 billion users worldwide
– 699 million people log on Facebook everyday
– 700 billion minutes is spent on Facebook every month
With the right marketing strategy, you can tap into that traffic.
1. Posts with Less than 80 Characters Get More Engagement
When it comes to marketing on Facebook, you want your business messages to be short and succinct. Don’t take forever to get to the point and avoid overly long or complex messages. These lessen engagement rates. People don’t want to “read more”.
2. Using Emoticons and Images Increases Comments
Photos and graphic content tend to generate more comments and likes than any other type of content and that includes videos and status updates. So, to increase your Facebook engagement, how about you figure your way around Photoshop and have fun with images. Rather than posting a status update, how about you convert the message into an image or an infographic?
3. Questions Generate More Engagement
Making some of your Facebook posts interactive, for example, by asking a question or posting a “fill in the blank” style post will increase your Facebook engagement. The audience on Facebook reacts extremely well to little quizzes and trivia-type questions. This is a sure-fire way to get people to connect with your business.
Just so we are on the same page, this article is not about building social links to your website (or sending social signals); it’s about linking to your social profiles (like your Twitter or Facebook profile).
Now, Why Would You Do That?
Reason #1: Exposure
Remember that the “number of backlinks” was originally meant to measure a website’s or webpage’s popularity or level of exposure.
So the first reason would be to increase the exposure your profiles get, and eventually hope for (well, work towards) more likes, comments, shares, +1s, retweets, mentions, leads, etc.
Reason #2: Dominate the SERPs
Sure, having your website on Page 1 of the search results is nice. But how about having multiple spots on that page (less spots for your competitors?). You have probably already noticed how Facebook and Google Plus profiles appear on Page 1 anyway. They have the potential to rank high; building links to them will only help them get there.
Reason #3: Dominate the Social Network Itself
While we don’t exactly know how social networks rank their own pages and profiles in their own search engines, the number of links pointing to them might very well be one of those factors (And if they are not yet, they are very likely to be in the future, so why not invest in it now, before most other people).
Now That We’ve Got the Why Covered, Let’s Get Into the How and Where, Okay?
From your Website
Ignore the “2-way linking doesn’t work” advice some marketers like to give without any further explanation. Sure, if your link profile consists of 100% link exchanges, you might be flagged. But it’s (very) normal for a business to link to its social profiles. These are actually useful links, as the user can learn more about the company (by looking at reviews for example).
Simple ways of doing it are:
- Icons (or text links) in the sidebar, footer, or even header of your website linking to your social profiles
- Using scripts that the networks and third parties provide that allow people to connect to your network directly (It’s not technically a link, but serves almost the same purpose)
On Other Websites
I’m not talking about spamming. I’m talking about when you are a contributor (or guest poster). Insert your links in your author bio. Most blog owners won’t mind (as in, they won’t count it as part of your “maximum links allowed” if you ask nicely).
Nike on Instagram
On Instagram, in addition to its primary @nike account, Nike runs other accounts including @nikebasketball, @nikefootballand @nikewomen.
The question is: Why? Why the extra accounts and the extra work?
You see, the reason why @nike is so successful on Instagram lies in its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of a community. And Nike built communities on Instagram defined by, not country borders, but by passion; the passion of fans and athletes from around the world.
@nikerunning is, for example, perhaps one of the most successful Instagram accounts. The way it brings together everything running related and the global running community is extraordinary and gives them a reason to feel that they are part of something bigger with hashtags like #werundirty. And all of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos.
General Electric on Instagram
General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now if you were ask to picture what the Instagram account of General Electric looks like, first off, you would probably wonder: Does it have an Instagram account? And secondarily, you will probably visualize photos of light bulbs or videos of how a refrigerator works.
Now let’s see how wrong you are.
The team behind @generalelectric is not here to promote appliances. Instead they are selling a bigger story; A story of powering, moving and curing the world.
Before Instagram, people didn’t know what General Electric stood for but in Instagram, the company saw the opportunity to develop an understanding for what GE does. In addition to successfully building awareness for its innovative technology, General Electric has managed to become one the most esteemed contributors to the Instagram community.
How they did it? It’s all about getting your messaging priorities to align with your business objectives and thereafter committing to a high bar for content for images posted typically once a day.
Ben & Jerry’s on Instagram
@benandjerrys is another Instagram account that deserves a special mention for the sheer way that it brings its ice cream brand to life on the social service. Focusing on things like key flavors, fun and the brand values, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011 and is now, one of the most successful accounts.
@benandjerrys is, in effect, a visual storytelling platform that connects people from all over the world. In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares on Instagram today are from community members.