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Tips on engaging a digital audience, courtesy of Subway


 Adweek recently reported the results of a SocialFlow study examining the effectiveness of fast food chains' use of social media for consumer engagement. Surprisingly, the top performer on the engagement metric was Subway, in spite of the fact that the sandwich chain has slightly more than half of the followers compared to fast-food juggernaut McDonald's.

Just how do they manage to pull in more than double the consumer engagements in spite of the seemingly insurmountable advantage McDonald's has in number of followers? My guess is that there are two key factors that are at play in this result.

First, the last few years have seen a drastic increase in people interested in healthy living. McDonald's (and other fast food restaurants) have been vilified in both the entertainment and the news media. As a result, I surmise that social desirability plays a significant role in the higher rate of engagement with Subway posts compared to McDonald's posts. In other words, people worry that their peers might judge them for enjoying McDonald's, so while they might "like" them on Facebook, they're not going to engage with the content on Facebook by commenting, liking, or sharing specific posts.

On the other side of that, Subway is seen as the "healthy" fast food, so social desirability again plays a role but in the opposite direction.

The second key factor is probably related to the way Subway writes their social media updates. Although they aren't necessarily more frequent posters to social media compared to McDonald's, Subway does ask their users to interact, either by having voting via comments/likes, by asking questions, or by providing other invitations to interact with the brand online. For McDonald's, posts are much more informational in nature, and generally lack clear invitations to engage.

This is a good lesson for all social marketers... just like you would ask for the sale, you must ask for the engagement!

Facebook's auto-play videos are eating YouTube's lunch

Today, AdWeek reports that brands have been quick to embrace Facebook's recent changes which auto-play videos in users' news feeds. Over the past 10 months, brands like Budweiser, Beyoncé, and even McDonald's have abrupty shifted their past practice of posting links to YouTube-hosted videos in favor of native Facebook videos which support the auto-play functionality. This shift signals an increase in eyeballs (and dollars) staying on the Facebook site rather than being siphoned away to the likes of YouTube and Vimeo.

Brands are also noticing that fans on Facebook tend to be somewhat more engaged than fans on YouTube, although this may be different depending on the brand.

How about your company? Is auto-play enticing enough to convince you to be Facebook-native for your video content?

What does Ello mean for content marketers?

Today it was reported that social network startup Ello has received $5.5m in funding from investors. The social network, often called the 'Anti-Facebook' because of its commitment to user privacy and freedom from advertising, launched  in August.

Cementing its commitment to remain ad free, the company recently registered as a Public Benefit Corporation, which prohibits the company (and any future owners) from selling user-specific data to third parties or displaying paid advertising on behalf of a third party. Their raison d'etre is canonized in the manifesto:


Your social network is owned by advertisers.
Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.
You are not a product.


Similar to professional networking juggernaut LinkedIn, Ello follows a 'freemium' model where everyone can use the network freely, but must pay for upgraded features and customizability. 

At first glance, the rise of Ello (should it continue) is probably more worrying for the likes of Facebook than for the traditional content marketer. Digital marketing always has been somewhat of a frontier, with seismic shifts possible at any moment (just ask your friends about their MySpace profiles). If Ello can overcome the significant inertia the Facebook has, simply because of its size, and can grow and scale to take on users who want out of the advertising-laden, no-privacy zone of the Social Network of Record, it could supplant Facebook sooner than anyone expects.

Should this take place, content marketers will no doubt find themselves connecting with consumers via Ello rather than Facebook - they just won't be able to advertise for them within the site itself.

Case study of an engaged social media team: Squarespace

I use Squarespace as the content management system for my personal website and blog. I love the ease of use of their powerful backend content management systems, and the complete customizability and scalability of sites built on their platform.

Today, as I was getting ready to write a new blog post, I navigated to my website, only to discover that the entire domain was down. I checked with my domain registrar and verified that my domain settings were correct. Finding that they were, I hopped on to Twitter to see if anyone else had tweeted anything about down websites. I found a user with the same complaint:

After some troubleshooting, I found that I could access my website using the **** URL, which is created by default when you use Squarespace as your host. I relayed this back to @Mark10023:

Within a few minutes, I received a message from @SquarespaceHelp, an account that I hadn't actually included in my conversations with @Mark10023:

After checking, I confirmed that my site was indeed back up and running:

Squarespace, in addition to being an excellent web host, provided a stellar example of proactive engagement via social media. They didn't wait for me to file a problem ticket - they fixed the problem and then immediately reached out via social media to confirm that the problem was solved.

If you're looking for an excellent web host, I highly recommend Squarespace!


Social media success requires one thing: ENGAGEMENT

Speaking at the company's headquarters today, Twitter's Director of Online Sales, Dan Greene, had this to say about Twitter:



In reality, his words might be said about all social media. People look to social media as a way to connect with others and to help them curate the overwhelming amount of information that is available online. Companies that jump into social media looking for it to be an easy way to get free advertising do so at the risk of alienating the very potential customers they seek.

The most successful companies, instead, use social media as a way to build realtionships with other businesses and with existing and potential customers. It is from these relationships, built and maintained over time, that he business results sought are realized.