Size Matters: The Ideal Length of Tweets, Facebook Posts and Google+ Headlines

Whether you’re speaking, writing or tweeting, size does matter. Small and medium businesses, SMBs, often facilitate several social media pages. This can be a great way to stay at the forefront of peoples’ minds, and have people learn about the company. The downside, however, is that it’s easy to be ignored in all the clutter.  Here are some guidelines for brands posting on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Twitter Talk

While 140 characters already feels limiting to the verbose logophiles among us, experts are telling us even that is too long for maximum engagement.

For tweets containing links, we can turn to some research by Dan Zarrella (because he’s won awards, written books, yada yada). After analyzing over 200,000 tweets containing links, Zarrella concludes that the click through rate, CTR, is highest among tweets of 120 – 130 characters. He also found that placing links about 25% of the way through the tweet was the prime location for a better CTR.

For the highest likelihood of a retweet, you need to drop nearly 30% of the Twitter character allotment. Zarrella’s findings say that tweets between 100 and 115 characters are 34% more likely to be retweeted. Once tweets hit 120 characters, the retweet probability goes down faster than Justin Bieber’s reputation.

Facebook Fodder

When Twitter first launched, people questioned how anything of substance could be contained in 140 characters and attacked millenials for having short attention spans. Naysayers didn’t recognize the way Twitter would change the way we absorb media, but what about Facebook? It’s been around longer than Twitter and has the potential to post much longer statuses, but should you?

Absolutely not. The longest status update you can put on Facebook is 63,206 characters. Seems like a random number? Bob Baldwin, an engineer at Facebook, told ZDnet:

“I set the exact limit to something nerdy. Facebook … Face Boo K … hex(FACE) – K … 64206 – 1000 = 63206.” In other words, Baldwin calculated the number using the hexadecimal numeral system: The hexadecimal value of “FACE” is 64,206. Then, Baldwin subtracted “K,” or “kilo-” (the prefix for 1,000), to arrive at 63,206.

I guess that is kind of nerdy. Anyway, though you can fit 451.5 full tweets in a post, you surely should not. Jeff Bullas reports that brand wall posts less than 80 characters receive 66% higher engagement than longer posts. Posts of 40 characters or under are even better, receiving 86% higher fan engagement. Not a lot of people have caught on apparently — only 5% of all retail brand wall posts are under 40 characters.

FB long posts

Grasping Google+

Demian Farnworth reported that the ideal length for a Google+ headline is under 60 characters so that it fits on one line. Also, you now only see three lines of text before Google suppresses the content to a “read more” call to action, so it is imperative your first sentence is intriguing.

Whether you’re posting content for your business or on behalf of your SMB clients, the moral of the story — keep it short.

 

The Tool That Will Increase Your Digital Sales Conversion and Probably Make You Rich

Our software is amazing — everyone that uses it is impressed by the results. Businesses see improved SEO, consistent listings across the web and better brand awareness, with the added ability of scheduling social posts from one location, viewing specific regions or branches, and a diverse plethora of other capabilities.

But, we noticed our salespeople sometimes struggled to get the software in the hands of small and medium business, SMB, owners. There were a few problems:

  •    • a disconnect between product and sales
  •    • sales teams that are sometimes inexperienced in selling digital
  •    • occasions where businesses understand digital better than the salesperson
  • We worked hard to come up with a solution that would make things easier for all three parties: the SMB, the salesperson and us.

    The Solution: Snapshot Report
  • The Snapshot report is the perfect solution to alleviate the difficulties of selling digital, and is easy to use. Like, really easy.

    The report doles out information that is interesting and personalized for the SMB — this is information that they want. It’s compelling for both the salesperson and the business owner, at the same time as being easy to explain. It costs very little, and will never embarrass the salesperson by showing unwanted information.

    Enter a few fields of business information (sometimes the only information you need is the business’ phone number), and give the report a little time to generate. Some information will be available in about 10 minutes, but it’s best to wait 24 hours before presenting to the SMB to ensure the most information is available.

    The report shows visuals of how the company is doing in regards to visibility, reviews and social sites in comparison to their competitors and industry averages. It illustrates what their website looks like on a mobile, as mobile has replaced much of desktop search. The report also offers a prescriptive pitch to the salesperson on how the company can benefit from their services.

  • snapshot.png

  • The Results
  • We’ve been tracking the progress of the new tool with the over 4,000 partner salespeople with accounts. The improvement in close rates rose 61 per cent in January. The average close rate for salespeople who use Snapshot is about 26 per cent.

    Not to brag, but the Snapshot report is a little bit of perfection here on digital earth. It’s the synchronization of product and marketing, sales and creative, business and intrigue. Are you aching for data? Want to learn more? Is the suspense killing you? We will be releasing more information on our website soon, but for now, you can check this webinar for a demo.

     

     

Ideas On Tap: March 28th 2014

What do these three products have in common: an escalator, a zipper and heroine?

Our last Ideas on Tap was another raving success, and this time we co-hosted with Saskatchewan Professional Marketing Association.

We began the afternoon talks with Craig Zawada from WMCZ with his presentation, “The 10 Minute Guide to a Teeny-Tiny Part of Trade Mark Rules.” Craig discusses the thought process that should go into building and maintaining a trademark — it is a lot more work than you’d think!

And the answer to the above riddle is in Craig’s presentation, so if you want to know what ties heroine and zippers together, you’ll have to watch the video.


Next up, our very own CEO here at VendAsta, Brendan King. We often get asked what it is we do, and it is a little difficult to explain in one sentence. Because of this, we thought we would share our platform with the folks at Ideas On Tap (and now you!).

 

Lastly was Ideas on Tap’s co-host, Cory Michel from The Marketing Den. Cory gave an informative presentation on “Insights to Campaign Marketing,” where he explains his company’s process of using market research to plan campaigns for their clients.

 

Stay tuned for April’s Ideas On Tap. Who knows what will be next?

Yelp Appeals to the Supreme Court to Keep Reviewer Identities Private

“They say they have a right to put this information out there. But where’s my right to defend my business?” Joe Hadeed

Businesses need online reviews to be trusted by consumers, improve their SEO and garner important feedback and criticism. What if, though, those reviews prove to be baseless allegations and slander?

Joe Hadeed claims this is what has happened to his business, Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc. One day Hadeed found a negative, anonymous review on Yelp. Then another. And then some more. The negative reviews came in over the next few weeks, and Hadeed was unable to figure out where they had come from.

The loss of money Hadeed Carpet Cleaning Inc. saw after the string of negative reviews solidifies just how important these reviews are. Hadeed claims that in 2012, business plummeted 30%, and that revenue fell from $12 million to $9.5 million. Because of the loss, Hadeed had to release 80 workers and reduce his fleet of trucks.

Deciphering Fact from Fiction

Unable to identify if these reviews came from actual customers, Hadeed filed a defamation suit against the users and subpoenaed Yelp to identify them.

A judge in the same city Hadeed’s company is based in — Alexandria, Virginia — ruled in favour of Hadeed. The Virginia Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in a 2-1 vote, concurring that Yelp must turn over the names of the selected reviewers. Judge William Petty explained his ruling, as reported by Courthouse News:

Generally, a Yelp review is entitled to First Amendment protection because it is a person’s opinion about a business that they patronized. But this general protection relies upon an underlying assumption of fact: that the reviewer was a customer of the specific company and he posted his review based on his personal experience with the business. If this underlying assumption of fact proves false, in that the reviewer was never a customer of the business, then the review is not an opinion; instead, the review is based on a false statement of fact – that the reviewer is writing his review based on personal experience. And there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact (Judge William Petty).

Yelp argues that Hadeed has not provided enough information to ensure the reviews are fake, and that turning over the names would be a violation of the First Amendment. They have appealed to the Supreme Court, and a ruling is anticipated later this month.

The review giant is constantly battling allegations of fraudulent reviews, but claims that their review software is sophisticated enough to filter these out. A study conducted at the Harvard Business School suggests that potentially 16% of Yelp reviews are fraudulent, according to Yelp’s own algorithmic indicator. Whether those reviews come from business owners writing elaborately positive reviews for their own business or extremely harsh reviews of their competitors, it’s essential to weed them out. The site’s integrity is essential for Yelp to be seen as a reliable source of public opinion.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of Hadeed, reviewers may think twice before posting a scathing review online.

Yelp for Fun

People rate anything and everything — even correctional facilities. Just for fun, here are some places Yelp is found on the internet with a bit more levity.

Real actors read Yelp Reviews

Ellen

Portlandia

Colbert Report

 

Want to learn more about SMB reviews and other digital marketing benchmarks? Sign up for our upcoming report!

The comprehensive report analyzes over 100,000 SMBs across North America and covers online local listings, online reviews, social media marketing and website marketing trends across different industry verticals.

VendAsta’s Listing Distribution Simplifies the SMB Game Plan

Providing your small and medium business clients (SMBs) with a way to simplify the process of correcting and creating online listings is a necessity. Having certain citations and reviews on Google+ can increase local SEO rank, ensuring that your clients are on the first page of search results.

However, considering that an average SMB has 68 different online listings, it is not an easy task to fix everything and to stay on top of those listings. With that in mind, VendAsta is about to launch Listing Distribution to tackle the issue of inconsistent and absent listings. We have partnered with all of the four major listing data providers — Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Neustar (Localeze) — in order to offer a complete listing syndication solution. These four providers power the web, doling out information to over 300 other sites. To correct a company listing with each of these providers individually can get quite expensive. With VendAsta’s Listing Distribution, all it takes is a small annual fee.

listing-distribution

Listings are far more complicated than what a business owner enters about themselves, and can come from many different places, causing much incongruence and confusion. Search Engine Land reported on a study that illustrated consumers blame brands for bad location data. If your clients have their citations wrong, consumers won’t care (or know) how it got that way, but they will be angry that they’ve been sent to the wrong address, given an incorrect phone number, or had to spend hours hunting for information.

Find Out More

Want to know more about Listing Distribution? Take a glance here or watch our awesome video.

How to Get More Reviews and Move to the First Page of Google

When they opened their doors in 1984, Dodge City could not have known the form media would take 30 years later — no one could have. But they adapted to the times, got a website and continue to work hard to guard their online reputation.

The auto industry is a tough one for many reasons, but one of the main difficulties is distinguishing yourself online. In a community of any size, there are often many car and auto dealerships. Companies need to find a way to differentiate themselves.

Dodge City struggled with their SEO and being found on the first page of Google. And we all know how useful being on the second page of Google is — it’s been said that the best place to hide a dead body is in the second page of Google results. I might argue that the first page of Bing is even safer, but regardless, not being found on the first page of search results is obviously problematic. When new customers are searching out auto dealerships, they’ll likely not click past the first page of results.

One way to increase your ranking on Google is to get reviews on their platform. Dodge City knew that they had happy customers, but not enough of them were reporting that good service online. In fact, none of them left reviews on Google. The reviews they were getting were scattered on various review sites rather than factoring into SEO on Google’s platform. They asked us for help, so we designed a little card that they started giving to their customers.

dodge-city-proof-2 (1)

 

Within 10 days, Dodge City had received seven reviews, all overwhelmingly positive. Their struggle in getting reviews isn’t that their customers didn’t have good things to say, but rather that they didn’t have a platform to say it on.

 

DC reviews 1

DC reviews 2

DC reviews 3

The Digital Shadow

 

While many people talk about a digital footprint, we also talk about a digital shadow. A digital footprint is what you are saying about your business, but a digital shadow is what your customers are saying about you, the latter often more trusted and longer lasting. About 88% of people have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision (Zendesk), emphasizing the importance of reviews with establishing customer trust. While this is increasingly important for a business’s reputation, Dodge City experienced another bonus: they moved to the first page in Google search results.

dodge city mobile

Why it Matters

 

Dealing with positive or negative reviews is a much better challenge than not dealing with any reviews at all. If your client is already getting reviews, give them advice on how to harness positive reviews and deal with the negative ones. If your business clients have a hard time getting reviews online, have them try the leave behind card strategy. It worked for Dodge City, and these results translate to more customers and ultimately, more money.

 

Want to learn more about SMB reviews and other digital marketing benchmarks? Sign up for our upcoming report!

The comprehensive report analyzes over 100,000 SMBs across North America and covers online local listings, online reviews, social media marketing and website marketing trends across different industry verticals.

Partner Spotlight: Propel Marketing Digital Seminar Converts 51% Attendance to Appointments

George Leith, VendAsta’s VP of sales, came back from Canton, Ohio raving about a seminar he had just attended. He gave his talk about online reputation management to a packed room, and had a ton of fun while doing it. So we asked: what does it take to put on an amazing seminar? We decided to go right to the source.

Based in Massachusetts, one of Propel’s biggest challenges in organizing seminars is that often they’re using a venue they’ve never even been to. Kaijsa Kurstin, director of marketing at Propel Marketing, shared with us some insights on how she organized and facilitated an awesome seminar with laudable conversion.

“The goal of these seminars is to create awareness of Propel Marketing within the market and to drive new leads and nurture existing customers,” explains Kurstin. “We typically like to have 100 attendees.”

Over 100 guests attended from 80 different businesses, out of which 42 appointments were made — a 51% conversion rate from attendance to appointments. Participants who filled out cards for appointments were entered into a draw to win an iPad mini that night, which created even greater incentive to speak with an account executive.  Propel has approximately $152,000 of annual revenue in open opportunities, and over $38,000 has already been closed.

When guests arrive at the seminar, they check in and are given pre-printed name tags. As soon as they register, they are invited to grab a drink and a plate for the buffet dinner. “They sit down in the presentation room with their food and drink and we give them about 30 minutes to get settled in and eat. Each seat has a Propel pad of paper and a pen,” says Kurstin. “We also try to have semi-circle seating at round tables so everyone has a clear view of the speaker.” Propel also had banners hanging and company swag to hand out.

Propel Marketing promoted the event through local newspaper sites, press releases, in-market Facebook ads, email campaigns and lead lists. “We also have reps do phone blitzes the week leading up to the event. We monitor all the registration lists in real time and make adjustments daily to campaigns and email schedules,” says Kurstin. Propel targets potential participants through varying mediums to ensure the information reaches various demographics.

Planning a seminar yourself? No stranger to putting on amazing sessions, Kurstin has some valuable advice to offer: “make sure you use all the channels available to you.” Planning an out-of-market seminar, this is especially important. “Constantly stay on top of registration numbers and consistently message out the importance of the event to reps,” explains Kurstin. “Always iterate campaigns that aren’t working — we changed our Facebook ad campaigns once or twice a week!” Find concise, direct messaging that works for your target audience. Test and evaluate frequently.

The other piece of the puzzle? Have relevant, interesting content. For Kaijsa and the team at Propel, that content piece often includes our very own George Leith. George has presented to thousands of local businesses on reputation management and digital media all over North America. His main strength lies in interpreting complex digital technology and helping local businesses see its value to their specific needs. “George was the best speaker I have seen in a long time. He brings real life examples and is able to drive home hard hitting points about why people need our services,” says Kurstin. “His examples and stats are up-to-date, and his presentations skills raise the bar. He is funny, witty, engaging, and can cross-sell our other products, which is a huge win for us.”

Geo LeithGeorge Leith doesn’t call himself an expert in digital media — he’s an interpreter. Specializing in digital strategy and implementation, George illustrates the importance of online reputation management and brand presence. George understands the necessity of adapting to new technology. He helps organizations make their virtual doorways as inviting as their brick and mortar entrances — which is crucial to the survival of a business. With nearly three decades of experience in marketing, sales and promotion, George is a highly compelling speaker, always in high demand across North America. Vital content and emphatic delivery are combined for an enlightening presentation.

 

VendAsta Takes on Table Mountain

We may live on the prairies, a place famous for its resounding flatness, but Saskatchewanians, and in particular VendAstians, like to lean into gravity once in awhile. Also, I feel compelled to dispel some myths. It’s not flat everywhere — did you know the highest point between the Rockies and the maritimes is in Saskatchewan? Or that we have sand dunes and zip lines in the south? Waterfalls in the north? Blah, blah, hometown pride, blah blah.

Last weekend, VendAsta took a ski trip to Table “Mountain.” About 50 of our approximately 85 employees got up early on a Saturday to spend another 12 hours with coworkers. We like each other, and there could be some reference to us being one big family, but it feels like every sitcom took that away from us, so we’ll stick with the way-too-sanitary-and-non-descript-word coworkers.

busful

We had a sweet ride for the more-than-two-hour ride either way. About 20 minutes from the hill, a few small bladder folk (Nathan and Sarah), ensured a stop at McDonald’s. No one seemed to mind. Eventually we arrived at our long anticipated destination.

Allan and bus

Skills ranged from people who had never skied before to seasoned pros. As some of us flew down the hill yelling “pizza!,” Dale, Jason and Jenn basically did backflips. Some members of our group even accidentally knocked out others on the hill in an attempt not to fall off a small cliff. I made friends with a twelve year old and, until my mouth was covered, did the Hunger Games whistle from chair lift to chair lift. I’m more popular with people who can’t yet drive than with adults. That’s probably because Jackie and Adam spoke about serious injuries all the way up the lift, so choosing team Peeta or Gale is a good distraction. Being the gentlemen that they are, Tony and Scott fetched the mittens I dropped from the lift into a fenced off danger zone.

Bonnifer and Bella2

Because it was family day, there was face painting and balloon animals, which was excellent for the people who brought their kids — Jeff, Sean, Song, Jason and Allan — and Nathan.

Nathan

Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there was a tube park. While racing down an ice hill on a piece of rubber at 100km an hour sounds fun, and it is, it turns out it can be kind of dangerous. Participants were not advised to elevate their tailbones out of the centre of the hole, meaning small children were bounced several feet in the air and adults were essentially paddle-boarded. Karlee could not sit for days, seriously.

tube

On the bus ride home, we found out a few things about our fellow employees.

1. Garry has the past life of a criminal.

2. Jenn is potentially a bit of a kleptomaniac.

3. Nathan cannot beat Clint in regards to beer.

4. Adam is the best at snacks.

5. Steven has never, um, never mind. Some things remain sacred. What happens on the bus, stays on the bus. Except for Garry, Jenn and Nathan — sorry.

Garry as a dog

Saskatchewan is known for many things, one of the most prominent: bigger than life-sized statues. We were compelled to stop at this one, though it appears Steven didn’t know it was a male.

bull

When stopping at a real bathroom wasn’t an option, some made use of fields. Others waited for the very frequent bathroom stops. The ride home was definitely longer than the ride there, but also more fun.

sign

So, bruised butts and egos aside, VendAsta’s ski trip was a success.

Song and kids

 

Teach Businesses How to Respond to Positive Reviews

You can teach businesses how to respond to a bad review, but what about a good one? Many of the principles remain the same — be courteous, thank the reviewer and take some time to develop a thoughtful response. But, there are some key differences. Here are a few things you should make sure your business clients know about responding to positive reviews.

4 Things for SMBs to Consider When Responding to Good Reviews

 

Share the review on the business’ social media pages; these are testimonials for the digital age. Because 73% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a business more, and that number has gone up from 58% in 2012 (Search Engine Land, 2013), it only makes sense to use good reviews for your own marketing material.

Get personal. Did the reviewer mention something specific to about the business? Without letting the comment get too long, share a personal anecdote or offer a shared opinion. If the reviewer loves the decor in your office, thank them and tell them where the inspiration comes from. Acknowledging particular points from the review ensures the author that you read, understood and internalized their feedback.

Commend staff if they are mentioned explicitly. We’re always being told how important customer service is, and our data reinforces that notion. In our database of over 1.6 million online reviews, the words service, friendly and rude appear in 40% of reviews. It’s clear that customer service is essential in setting your business apart, so reward staff who go the extra mile to make. This is good for morale and will help perpetuate the good service.

Ask for reviews. Our data indicates that the average number of reviews written about the typical business has increased 81% from 2011 to 2013. While that is good news for companies promoting themselves through reviews and review sites, the average business still doesn’t receive many reviews per year. The best way to get more? Ask! This can be done in many different ways, depending on the structure of the business — at the till on the way out, a follow up email or a sticker in the window.

Below is an example of a review respondent who replied thoughtfully to a positive review.

staff review

response

 

If your SMB clients apply these basic concepts when responding to good reviews, they will improve the tone of their web presence and company morale. Responding to reviews, positive and negative, are key elements of modern day customer service. Good customer service is good business.

 

Want to learn more about SMB reviews and other digital marketing benchmarks? Sign up for our upcoming report!

The comprehensive report analyzes over 100,000 SMBs across North America and covers online local listings, online reviews, social media marketing and website marketing trends across different industry verticals.

Teach Businesses How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Every business is likely to receive the odd bad review — we just can’t all be on our game all the time. The important thing to teach small and medium businesses, SMBs, is that the review, and the response, are seen by a much larger audience than ever before.

People read reviews, and they’re reading them more than ever — 85% of consumers say they read online reviews for local businesses — up from 76% in 2012 (2013 Local Consumer Review Survey). Almost 70% of people read six reviews or less (the number of reviews people read is on the decline year over year), which means the most recent reviews (and responses) are the most heavily weighted.

Here’s an example of how not to respond to a negative review:

Bad Review Response

Here’s what businesses should do:

 good review response

 

5 Tips and Tricks for SMBs Responding to Negative Reviews

 

Take some time to respond. Not a lot of time, you want people to be able to rely on your quick response, but make sure you don’t react purely on emotion. If you are the business owner, it is hard not to take a bad review as a personal attack. While you want to ensure you don’t let your emotions take charge, it’s important to write with sincerity. Responders can make the situation worse by sounding sarcastic or disingenuous.

Be kind and genuine. While you are responding to one person, and your response should come across that way, remember that the audience is potentially much larger and far-reaching. Not only will other people who visit the review site see the response, but it’s possible those people could share the review and response with their own networks.

Be specific. If a customer mentions something in particular about the business, use that in your reply. Not only does this demonstrate that you are not a robot, but it makes the complainant feel heard and understood.

Remember that feedback and criticism can be helpful. This reviewer has taken the time to invest in the business in an attempt to make it better — thank them. Business owners are always looking for a way to understand the customer experience, and there is no better way than a review. The reviewer may have a relevant point about the business, so it’s important to consider the content without going on the defensive.

Offer to take the conversation private. You would never want to have a less than pleasant dialogue with an unhappy customer in your physical store with other customers around, so why would you do it in front of more watching eyes online? Offering a phone number and a way to connect privately ensures the reviewer that you want to fix the situation for them, not just for the digital audience. Also, if you decide to offer a free or discounted service to make up for the bad experience, it’s best not to do this in front of other customers and potential customers — that might encourage bad reviews to get free stuff.

 

Remember that the reviewer came into the business to give it a shot. If your clients respond using the tips and tricks above, it’s possible to turn a naysayer into a brand ambassador. People don’t need your business/brand to be perfect — they want to see how you engage with people.

Want to learn more about SMB reviews and other digital marketing benchmarks? Sign up for our upcoming report!

The comprehensive report analyzes over 100,000 SMBs across North America and covers online local listings, online reviews, social media marketing and website marketing trends across different industry verticals.

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