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Joe Shmoe’s Guide to Social Media Image Dimensions

Social Media Image Dimensions Header

In social media, size does matter, especially when it comes to image dimensions. It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with all the networks and the various sizes they have for each component of an account. But, if you want to effectively represent your brand, you need to get it right.

We decided to take some of the burden off of you and create a cheat sheet of all the sizes needed for the most popular networks! If you need any further help building your social marketing strategy, we can help with that too!

Social Media Image Dimensions

How to Really Connect with Your Facebook & Twitter Audience

Connecting on SoMeAs social media has grown and evolved, the reasons people use it vary. In the past, many users would keep their Facebook accounts more personal and reserve LinkedIn for strictly business. Though some still try to stick by these rules, the lines have gotten blurred. I often hear people say they would like to delete their personal Facebook accounts but can’t because their attached to their business’s page or because that’s how they keep up with their family. What’s more, people seem to be going back to the idea of wanting a more private network such as Instagram. What do you prefer?

It’s actually a bit of a catch 22. We marketers wanted social media to grow. We wanted to draw consumers in and convince businesses that they should adopt marketing through their social channels. Yet, as this has happened, each network has become much more saturated making marketing much harder.

News & Social Media                                  

In a new study from the Pew Research Center and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation called “The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook,” 63 percent of the more than 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed said they viewed both Twitter and Facebook primarily for news. Understandably, Twitter is considered the best channel for breaking news with just 31 percent going to Facebook for news to break.

Pew & Twitter and Facebook's Impact on News

Other interesting findings from this study include:

  • The rise in the share of social media users getting news on Facebook or Twitter cuts across nearly every demographic group.
  • When it comes specifically to news and information about government and politics, Facebook users are more likely to post and respond to content, while Twitter users are more likely to follow news organizations.

Marketing Impact

Does this information matter to marketers? Yes! Marketers need to know the reasons their audience goes to each social channel. Now, most small-to-medium-sized businesses do not always relate to hard news, but since statistics show a large portion looking for news, marketers need to tailor their content accordingly. Here’s how:

1. Avoid Fluff Content

Audiences everywhere have gotten smarter, but this is especially true for social media audiences. No one has time for fluffy, salesy content. It doesn’t make people want to follow your page or buy your products or services. Instead, it turns people off.

2. Be Authentic

If people have their eyes opened for news, they don’t want to play games. This doesn’t mean that humor can’t be incorporated, but it does mean that every business should have a clear and direct strategy. In other words, don’t post just to be posting. Keep your goals in mind, watch audience trends, and honestly communicate with your audience. It’s really not difficult, but so often, marketers neglect being real, which can severely hurt them.

3. Piggyback on News Event (But Use Caution)                                                                                                                      

When possible, use a news event to your advantage. For instance, if a famous person passes away, use an inspirational quote from them and turn it into a meme. Another situation could be that your state or the government is passing legislation that could help your industry or businesses in general. Political involvement can be controversial, but if your business is passionate either way on an issue, you should let your voice be heard. If you have correctly identified your audience, they will likely support your stance as well.

It’s important to understand that the “when possible” mentioned above has to carefully be taken into consideration. It’s up to the business, but we would not recommend trying to piggyback on the recent SCOTUS ruling or Iran, for example. While these are no doubt very popular topics on Facebook and Twitter, these topics could alienate your business. Your posts could go viral, but not in the way you want. And, when it comes to social media, bad publicity is very real and brings a host of reputation management issues.

Doing this correctly is more about taking a tragedy and creating an online contest to give your audience an opportunity to contribute. Or, creating a meme as suggested above. It’s also about thinking on your feet like Arby’s did with Pharrell Williams during last year’s Grammy awards.

Ultimately, connecting with your Facebook and Twitter audiences depends on how well you know them. Studies like the one from Pew Research Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation help to show trends that may create opportunities for better engaging with your audience. But, it’s up to you as a marketer to do your research and see if it applies.

The Ever-Changing Social Media Landscape

With all the changes to social media, it can be very challenging to keep up. The big players like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are always adding new features and abilities, and the newer, more niche networks are coming and going at an even faster rate. This challenge to stay on top of these happenings even hits marketers that are in and out of these sites on a daily basis.

To make life a little easier on all us, we want to provide a summary of some recent changes and updates that will impact your social media strategy.

Facebook

Apart from Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, namely the drop in organic reach for page owners, the largest social network has been relatively quiet. This is good news since businesses and marketers have had their hands full dealing with said reach issues. While these changes are no doubt frustrating, if Facebook is a really valuable channel for your company, the cost to improve content and/or take on paid advertising will be worth the investment.

In other much less noteworthy news for Facebook, the company has killed off the “Poke” feature and Facebook Camera. The “poke” has been around for some time and was apparently very rarely used anymore. The camera app has also been around for a while, but likely could not compete with its new cousin Instagram.

These moves are simply part of Facebook’s growth and development. We’ve seen it abandon and consolidate products before, and we’ll likely see it again as the company continues to gain knowledge of what its audience wants.

Twitter

Twitter has actually had quite a bit going on of late. Apart from its struggling stock price, the popular microblogging service has had its share of platform changes too. Last month, Twitter announced a new layout for user accounts. The new profiles are much more visual with larger imagery as well as the following features:

  • Best Tweets: Tweets that have received more engagement will appear slightly larger, so your best content is easy to find.
  • Pinned Tweet: Pin one of your Tweets to the top of your page, so it’s easy for your followers to see what you’re all about.
  • Filtered Tweets: Now you can choose which timeline to view when checking out other profiles. Select from these options: Tweets, Tweets with photos/videos, or Tweets and replies.

First Lady's Twitter Profile

The consensus is that the new look strongly resembles Facebook. Ironically, when Facebook rolled out user Timelines, many people remarked of its resemblance to Myspace. Regardless of user feelings, the new Twitter profiles will be active for everyone by May 28.

Twitter also recently announced a new “mute” feature that will allow users to essentially silence users within their feed. After these users are muted, their tweets won’t appear in your timeline anymore. Also, you won’t receive push notifications from them, but the @ replies and mentions will still show up. The feature is actually very similar to Facebook’s “hide” feature. While users may find this feature useful, it brings some concern to businesses.

Over on Marketing Land, Matt McGee spells out why some marketers aren’t fond of the new ability:

Until now, brands had some assurance that their Twitter activity could be seen by every Twitter follower. That was one of the differentiating factors between Twitter and Facebook; Twitter didn’t purposely show updates to only some of your followers the way Facebook does. And Twitter’s still not doing it algorithmically the way Facebook’s News Feed does — Twitter is putting it in the user’s control. But the point is that Twitter visibility isn’t a sure thing anymore. Some followers may not see your activity, and you have no way of knowing.

As this function rolls out over the next few weeks, marketers will be able to see the full impact.

LinkedIn

The professional network has been somewhat low-key of late. In April, the company did away with its Services tab on company pages and introduced Showcase Pages. In summary, Showcase Pages allow companies to segment the various divisions of their expertise. The idea is to deliver specific messages to distinct target audiences.

From what we’ve seen, these pages work well for large companies with multiple divisions. For instance, Microsoft can segment its Office products:

Microsoft LinkedIn Showcase Page

However, it’s harder for small-to-medium sized businesses to do this. Some marketers don’t feel that Showcase Pages are very useful, but since it’s still early, the verdict is still out on their value.

LinkedIn did also recently unveil a Content Marketing Score that measures unique and engaged members. In other words, the tool helps businesses determine what content works and doesn’t work. The functionality also allows users to publish content in various ways across the platform including through LinkedIn Groups, company updates, employee posts, writers’ posts, etc.

Again, this is very new, so time will tell what this really means for businesses.

Pinterest

Pinterest has had some excitement recently as the company announced a paid test of Promoted Pins. If you remember, last fall, the company said it would begin experimenting with ads with a select group of brands. In this week’s announcement, Pinterest is expanding this initiative. Some of the participating brands include: ABC Family, Banana Republic, Expedia, GAP, General Mills, Kraft, lululemon athletica, Nestle (select brands), Old Navy, among others.

This move is significant for two important reasons. First of all, it’s important that Pinterest is finding a way to monetize itself, and secondly, it’s creating more business opportunities for marketers.

The world’s favorite pinboard also recently launched Guided Search and Custom Categories. Through Guided Search, Pinterest is aiming to help pinners search better and discover pins. For instance, if a user begins searching, Pinterest will start pulling categories and keywords, much like Google search works.

Pinterest Guided Search Example

Pinterest Guided Search

In terms of its categories, the new Custom Categories allows users to go beyond the somewhat arbitrary 32 initial categories. Pinterest also made improvements to its Related Pins feature as part of this announcement.

With more than 70 million users, 30 billion pins and 750 million boards, Pinterest is evolving. To accommodate this rapid growth, we need to expect more changes to come.

And to avoid overwhelming you like we talked about at the beginning, we’ll stop here since this is more than enough to digest. J

4 Tips for Building an Effective Presence on Twitter

 

Twitter Key

How valuable is Twitter to you? Many companies use it as their primary social media outlet for marketing, customer service and various other business tasks. Other companies use it only because they feel they have to since it’s one of the largest social networks. Still, there are some who think that it’s simply a lot of useless information being distributed to closed ears.

Regardless of your opinion of Twitter, you likely fit into one of these categories. SugarSpun Marketing is a firm believer in understanding the fact that not every social network is for everyone. In other words, after you devise your marketing plan and research where your audience is, whatever social networks fit is where you need to be.

If this is true for you and Twitter, but you are still struggling to find the true value, we may have some helpful tips for reaching and engaging with your audience.

1. Understand who you’re trying to reach

Though the exact number of Twitter users is unknown to the general public, it is safe to say that there are over 600 million users. However, understand that this doesn’t mean you will reach all these users. In an ideal world, yes you would, but even if you had that many followers, it is impossible to think that all 600 million people are on Twitter at the exact moment you send your tweet.

As you get to know your audience, practice the concept of listening. You don’t always need to be heard. Sometimes you can be more effective by simply listening since it will make what you have to say more meaningful.

2. Engage your audience

Now, this step could take up a whole book and more, but users, especially brands, must understand that true engagement takes a lot of time and effort. To engage your audience, you need to have compelling content. This is another topic we could talk about all day, but the main point in regards to Twitter is that it has to be short and driven. You’re dealing with 140 characters or less. In fact, recent research from Buddy Media shows that tweets with 71-100 characters produce the most retweets.

In addition to being compelling and short, engaging content is also personal. In order to make a connection, you have to speak the same language as your audience. This means that you shouldn’t only post links or only retweet. Add some commentary and show some personality. You want to give them a reason to communicate with you and keep the dialogue flowing.

Once you do this, the retweeting, favoriting, Follow Fridaying, and other common Twitter activities become natural and meaningful.

3. Utilize third-party tools

You will quickly find that, in order to do Twitter effectively, it takes a lot of time. It’s a challenge, no doubt, but fortunately there are a ton of tools to make your job easier. This is another area in which we really could use a day to two to delve into all the tools, but here are several that will likely come in handy:

–          Hootsuite – tool allows users to manage multiple accounts, schedule, filter content and more

–          Twitonomy – browse and monitor insights on people you know, competitors, etc.; also useful for finding influencers

–          Cybranding – analyze hashtags with this tool to make sure you’re using the most searchable and impactful hashtags

–          Commun.it – manage your current relationships and build new ones with this tool

–          Qwitter – see who unfollows you on Twitter and also what tweet(s) may have caused them to leave

–          Twellow – people search tool for Twitter that allows users to find others through interest, location, etc.

–          SocialOomph – social media measurement tool tracks keywords and multiple other automation tasks, and more.

4. Keep up with changes

Similar to the other social networks, Twitter is always making tweaks to its service. Most recently, it announced a redesign for user pages. And, guess what, the new profiles look a lot like Facebook profile pages, a.k.a. Timelines. The new Twitter profiles include a stronger emphasis on imagery with much larger profile images and background images. As a brand, these changes are important as you want to have the best presentation possible to your audience.

New Twitter Profiles

To keep up, follow Twitter’s updates and keep up with social media blogs. Not every tweak will warrant your attention, but you want to be in the loop in order to react to the areas that could help or hurt your brand.

The new format is available to some users now but will be rolled out globally over the next several weeks.

Twitter has had a lot of changes over the couple of years including its IPO. Despite these changes, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere but forward.

2013 Social Media Year in Review: Old & New Players Make Impact

 

Social Media WorldAs we reflect back on 2013, it’s clear that it has been a very full year. Social media has had another very big year. Digital Insights put together a fantastic infographic showing the growth and impact that social media has had. For starters, Facebook surpassed a new milestone with more than 1.15 billion users. On average, there are 400 million tweets sent out every day. Every second, 8,000 users like a photo they see on Instagram. A whopping 80 percent of Pinterest pins are repins. There are more than 3 million LinkedIn Company Pages and over 1 billion LinkedIn endorsements. Some 4.2 billion people use their mobile device to access social media.

These numbers are impressive. But, how did we get here? Let’s take a look at some of the events that took place and led to this growth.

Let’s start with what is now one of the older players – Facebook. 2013 proved to be a big year for the largest social network after it went public in 2012. Not only did Facebook grow in numbers and stock price, it also made several changes that impact marketing. For starters, it dramatically updated News Feed. Facebook rolled out “Story Bumping” that pushes older stories to the top of users’ feeds allowing them to see any they may have missed, a move that should help marketers.

Also with this update came the news that EdgeRank was dead. Though the term is no longer being used, Facebook still has an algorithm for News Feed in which affinity, weight and time decay continue to play a vital role.

Facebook additionally took a tip from Twitter and made the move add Verified Business Pages and to integrate #hashtags, the latter much to many users’ dismay. The company also added a 5-star rating system so users can rank business pages and updated Graph Search.

Lastly, Facebook made changes to its Promotion Guidelines making it easier for marketers to advertise and promote content through the network.

Moving on to Twitter, the microblogging service also had a number of noted events. In 2013, Twitter made the change to notify users when a tweet you have been mentioned in receives an additional action such as a retweet or mention. Twitter also added images to its timeline, so users don’t have to click elsewhere to view them.

For marketers, just last week, Twitter rolled out a retargeted ad program called tailored audiences to allow advertisers to target users based on their browsing history, which is a big win for marketers.

The biggest news for Twitter, however, has been its IPO. The company did not face the same drama that Facebook did when it went public, and so far, the stock has been high. Time will tell how the tech company will fare in a very volatile market.

The professional network of LinkedIn has also made headway this year for marketers in particular. LinkedIn unveiled Sponsored Updates as well as a robust analytics platform. Beyond this, it gave company page administrators the ability to act as their brand through posting updates, commenting and liking on their pages. All these developments help to position LinkedIn as a competitor among the other social networks.

We must also talk about Google+ in regards to social media happenings. For Google’s social network, 2013 has brought it growth, but it’s also brought some controversy. Earlier this year, Google began embedding Google+ into each of its products making it nearly impossible to use its services without adopting the social network. Many people feel that Google+ has been forced onto them for Google’s benefit and not their own. This is why Google+ numbers have been somewhat skewed in the past as well.

Google+ Meme

Google+ has also recently faced scrutiny for integrating Google+ further into YouTube. The biggest area in this move is the fact that YouTube’s long criticized comment system has changed. Now, users comment using their Google+ profiles, a.k.a., their real names in most cases.

But, regardless of your feelings about Google+, we do have to keep in mind that its parent is the search and advertising giant Google, and therefore, it cannot be taken lightly.

Pinterest, though somewhat of a newbie compared to the others, had its share of happenings during 2013 as well. Last year, the company rolled out business pages, and earlier this year, it released an analytics platform to go along with it.

Pinterest Analytics

Everyone’s favorite pinboard also introduced Rich Pins to give users valuable information about a pin, thus improving the user experience. Going right along with this, Pinterest rolled out price-drop notifications on pinned items. This move greatly opens the door for brands to turn “pinners into shoppers.”

Pinterest also introduced Place Pins to allow pinners to create boards around vacations, restaurants, wish lists, and more.

Another trend that we’ve seen in 2013 is the rise of some new social networks such as Snapchat, Vine and others along with the continued growth of Instagram. Younger generations are gravitating toward these platforms for the visual appeal and quick, short messaging opportunities. Images and micro-video are driving the younger generation’s communication. It doesn’t stop there though, marketers have embraced these visual-driven networks as well.

One of the biggest drivers of these networks and short-form messaging is the accessibility on mobile devices. As we saw above, some 4.2 billion people use their mobile device to access social media. This trend is only going to grow. Mobile is quickly becoming one of the primary, if not the primary, channel with which people communicate and obtain information. Given this direction, marketers need to be mindful and accommodate.

Marketers also need to recognize that social’s influence on search is continuing to grow. In new search rankings factors released this year, it’s evident that search is evolving to accommodate a social-centric world, which indicates a thing or two about the future significance of social media.

What other changes did you notice with social media during 2013? Have any of these updates or developments made your life or business easier? And how do you think these changes will impact what we’ll see in 2014?

Images courtesy of EkaterinaWalter.com, Reddit and Pinterest respectively.

Social Media & eCommerce: Why It’s the Future

As business is becoming more and more integrated into social media, translating “likes” and “follows” and “pins” into dollar signs becomes a much stronger priority. While we can go back and forth on social media ROI all day, the area we want to focus on is social media and its influence on commerce.

In a nutshell, commerce is big and ecommerce is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. Social media is also big. As the two areas have come together, the results are, as you may already know, huge.

Ritu Pant over on Social Media Today summed it up beautifully in a post from earlier this year related to social media and commerce:

The big picture: the fastest growing marketplace on the planet is unfolding in the palms of our hands on smartphones exploding with the financial power of social media.

One very obvious way that social media has impacted commerce is through real-time feedback. Social media channels, of course, allow businesses and consumers to have instantaneous interaction. The added value on the business side is that the feedback is shared on the customer’s network. When it is positive, it serves as the best form of advertising.

For customers, the interaction provides a much better means for voicing a concern or problem as opposed to calling customer service. On the business side again, this serves as a valuable opportunity to solve a problem and potentially build a brand advocate if handled effectively.

What’s interesting now is that we are starting to see specific commerce trends around social channels such as Twitter and Pinterest. According to a recent report from BI Intelligence called “The New Art of Social Commerce: How Brands and Retailers Are Converting Tweets, Pins, and Likes into Sales,” Pinterest brought in 23 percent of social-generated e-commerce sales, and Twitter brought in 22 percent. Facebook also generated a bit more coming in at 28 percent of social-generated e-commerce sales.

Even more interesting is the fact that these trends were NOT happening a year ago. Pinterest barely registered any sales, bringing in just 2 percent of sales. Facebook, however, was the dominant in this area generating 55 percent of social-related e-commerce sales.

Social Commerce Sales Chart

In a direct selling environment, these numbers don’t hold much weight. But, remember that social media is about indirect selling. Social media is about building relationships, providing a human voice to a brand, and creating brand awareness, among many other indirect approaches. So, for a supplemental channel, if you will, these numbers are actually quite noteworthy. Furthermore, as indicated by the current trends, these statistics will grow as social media grows and expands.

Another factor to think about in this regard is the fact that these social sites are still young. Just as many are still trying to figure out the evolving world of utilizing social media for business, the social networks themselves are still innovating and adapting to a changing business climate.

Facebook, for example, will likely do away with its gifts service as a source of monetization since its performance is lacking. But, Facebook Exchange (FBX), the company’s retargeting platform, appears to be providing value for online retailers. In fact, Google and Facebook actually announced recently that they are partnering in a joint advertising initiative.

According to the deal, Google’s online advertising arm DoubleClick will extend its services to include FBX. In other words, DoubleClick clients will be able to purchase ad inventory on FBX.

It’s rather ironic when competitors come together in deals such as this, but when it benefits both parties, I guess they put aside other differences. Facebook will benefit due to Google’s long-standing dominance of the online advertising market, and Google will benefit from Facebook’s proven retargeting platform. As a result, this partnership has the potential to project much more growth in Facebook and e-commerce.

Twitter is also showing that it is committed to growing retail activity on its platform since it hired its first commerce chief earlier this year.

Pinterest too cannot be forgotten in this regard. The company has made many moves including “promoted pins” recently, which show that it is a serious contender in the social commerce space.

Time will ultimately tell just how these initiatives will take off, but our bet is on growth within social commerce.

Images courtesy of AspirantSG.com and intelligence.businessinsider.com respectively.

 

4 Business Tips You Can’t Ignore

ThinkingHow many times have you said, “If I could do _________________ over, I would do _____________________”? Chances are, you’ve probably said this a time or two.

Does this mean we are just mistake-driven people? Not necessarily. There are some cases, of course, when we act before thinking. However, but because most of us are thinkers (eventually anyway), we often find ourselves dwelling on how our outcome could have been better had we acted differently.

As marketers and other business professionals, this exercise is actually rather important. Whether it be about a decision, a startup, a campaign, an event, or whatever the case may be, evaluating and looking for ways to do it better next time is how businesses grow and improve.

Sometimes these situations involve certain fads or trends and you wished you’d foreseen their fleeting elements. Other circumstances involve the people around you that provided a positive or negative influence.

These types of factors will likely, and really should, change over time. But there are some factors that should remain constant whether you’re starting a business, on a marketing team, and even in your own personal life.

Don’t compromise your values.

Whatever your situation may be, you should hold your values high. If you have a business and are wishy-washy with your core values, you can’t expect for anyone or any other business to take you or your brand seriously. The same holds true for your individual life. If you don’t stand by your beliefs, you will be perceived as flaky, which is neither professional nor complimentary.

Instead, set standards and stick to them no matter how difficult a decision may be. You’ll come out stronger in the end.

Your situation isn’t the end of the world.

When you begin to have a pity party over whatever has gone wrong for you or for your business, understand that there will always be someone else somewhere facing something worse, unless you’re Enron or Bernie Madoff. (Just kidding!)

You get the idea though. It’s human nature to, as my Mom says, “make a mountain out of a molehill.” When it involves us, it’s always big. I’m not trying to belittle any serious situations, but the point is, when we recognize that there are, in fact, bigger fish in the sea, it’s easier to focus on solutions.

Support is a must-have.

If you try to do it alone, you will fail. This is not an easy statement to make, but it’s true. For a company or individual to grow and develop, they need help. So many times, startups that turn into businesses struggle when they grow since the founder(s) doesn’t know what his or her place is. For instance, just because you come up with a great business idea doesn’t mean that you have the ability to execute it fully and lead it into something bigger. This is why a founder will often bring in a CEO or president to lead the business.

Twitter is a perfect example of this principle. As the service grew exponentially, the founders knew that they needed to bring in someone to take the company to the next level and brought in Dick Costolo to lead the microblogging service.

On another note, management and employees also need to support each other. You simply cannot have one without the other. In a nutshell, support is absolutely necessary at all levels.

Don’t give up. Ever.

Whether you are building a business, a division within a company, or yourself as an individual, you can’t quit. Even when the going gets tough, try again. This is easy to say, but not so easy to implement.

There will always be options that seem better, AKA easier. The question is, will they make you happy? Will they allow you to succeed to your full potential? If the answer is no, you must never quit.

 

Who’s Responsible for What Happens on Social Media? Facebook, Twitter, or You?

This week, Great Britain’s police force called on social media companies to tighten security measures related to online abuse and harassment. It believes that social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter should make it harder for users to commit crimes on their platforms.

The plea came after activist Caroline Criado-Perez received multiple rape threats on Twitter. The incident really blew up when Criado-Perez claimed that Mark Luckie, Twitter’s Manager of Journalism and News, blocked her. Her story is that he blocked her once her supporters began campaigning with hashtags like #takebacktwitter and #shoutingback. Luckie, on the other hand, has said that he locked down his account since his job does not involve dealing with abusive scenarios.

As a result of these developments, an online petition was created on Change.org asking Twitter to incorporate a button to report abuse on each tweet. The petition received more than 62,000 signatures on its first day of being public and is currently sitting at more than 100,000.

Twitter responded to the petition and said it had actually just rolled out a button that allows users to easily report abuse from each individual tweet. The feature is already included on the micrblogging service’s iPhone app and mobile website. Users can also report abuse on Twitter’s website. The company says that it plans to bring this functionality to desktop and Android users as well.

What’s interesting about this incident is the bigger issue it raises regarding the responsibility of both users and social networks. Although every situation is different, the underlying dispute is where the obligation of the social network and the accountability of users intersect.

Is there a line, or is it still blurred? What do you think?

We have all seen circumstances in which blame could be placed on either side, but there are others that aren’t as clear. Cyber bullying is one such issue that has received a lot of hype of late as the whole subject of bullying has seemingly increased. Can these actions be regulated online though? According to an ongoing survey on Debate.org, 61 percent of participants say social networks should do more to prevent cyber bullying while 39 percent do not believe the responsibility falls on them.

No one wants to see bad things happen on a social network, or anywhere for that matter. But, is the social platform actually enabling the bad to happen, or is it just the tool that is being used to perform the act? A recent study from FindLaw reported that 1 in 4 young people have regrets about what they have posted on social media sites. While most of the respondents to this survey expressed concern about a current or potential employer, the bottom line is that people often act and react without thinking, regardless of what any given social network may do.

On the flip side, should social networks create secure privacy settings and controls that users can utilize to their advantage? Absolutely. They should always be working toward improvement in this regard. But, if users, which also include brands, ignore them, it’s not their fault.

The point of this post, however, is not to in ANY way discredit the aforementioned victim of rape threats. The issue simply leads to a much broader conversation that we’ve only barely hit on.

The business side of this discussion opens up an even bigger can of worms as a wrong move could result in severe repercussions for a brand. Also, the brand aspect on many of these social platforms is still relatively new, which means that there is a lot of trial and error techniques taking place.

Still, what does all this mean? What more can social networks do to prevent these incidents from happening? What tools do users need to be equipped with, or do they just need to be better educated on these issues? Let the conversation begin.

Strengthen Your Twitter Outreach with New Data

HubSpot has released their Third Annual State of the Twittersphere report and for those of us who keep tabs on Twitter from both the marketing and social interaction perspective the results are interesting. HubSpot analyzed the more than 5 million Twitter accounts and 6 million Tweets that have been collected by Twitter Grader.

Perhaps the biggest news in the report is the slowdown of Twitter’s phenomenal growth over the past few months. Twitter hit a peak of double digit month over month growth last spring when the service was responsible for breaking several news stories and when celebrities like Ashton Kutcher gave the service new exposure.

In the last half of 2009 however, growth of the service started to slow a bit. That’s not a bad thing, it simply means Twitter is starting to level out into a more realistic and sustainable growth rate.

Twitter User Growth

Twitter Users are more Engaged

It’s worthwhile to note that while growth is starting to slow, Twitter members are maturing in their use of the service. The average Twitter user is now following around 170 people (as opposed to about 40 people when HubSpot first analyzed this stat) and is being followed by an average of 300 other people.

Those numbers are some what skewed by power users, however. Twitter users like Ashton Kutcher literally have millions of followers, bringing the average numbers way up. In reality, most Twitter users are still operating with a fairly small network. In fact, 82% of Twitter users have less than 100 followers and roughly the same percentage are following less than 100 people themselves.

The average number of tweets per Twitter user has also increased dramatically, showing the users who stick with the service are taking the time to become truly invested in the conversation.

Twitter Users are Profiling Themselves

HubSpot also notes the number of users who have taken the time to write bios, specify their location and add a URL to their account has doubled since the last time they reported on Twitter. This again tells us that Twitter users are becoming more mature in their use of the service and they’re making sure they’re leveraging it properly.

Interesting Data on When Twitter Users are most Active

HubSpot also has some excellent insight into when people are using Twitter. This is essential data to have a grasp on if you’re looking to build a Twitter marketing strategy. After all, getting your message heard above the chatter on Twitter is difficult on a good day…post it on a day or at a time when no one is paying attention and you’re entire campaign can come to a screeching halt.

The highest usage days for Twitter are Thursday and Friday. There’s a sharp drop-off over the weekend and a slow ramp up that begins building again on Monday.

Twitter Usage by Day of the Week

Most Twitter users are night owls, actively tweeting in the evening between 10 and 11pm while wrapping up work or watching TV at home.

Twitter Usage by the Hour

By mixing this data with information presented by HubSpot’s Dan Zarella at last November’s PubCon, we can really start to build a picture of when the best times are to launch information you’d really like to see spread on Twitter.

At the show, Dan shared the following data:

  • The highest click thru rate on tweeted links occurs between 2 and 3pm. (Followed by the 8-9pm time slot and the 5-6pm time slot.)
  • Thursday, Saturday and Sunday experience the highest click thru levels, consistently beating the average.
  • The more links you tweet, the less likely people are to click those links.
  • Tweets that include links are far more likely to be retweeted than tweets without links.
  • The highest percentage of retweets occurs on Fridays at 4pm. (Monday afternoons also have high retweet rates.)

Dan also had some great data on the types of content that are most likely to be retweeted:

Types of Content that gets Retweeted

So How Does This Impact You?

There are several strong strategic points we can take away from this data.

We now know if you’re looking to use Twitter for viral purposes to get your message far and wide, it’s important to launch your efforts on those Monday and Friday afternoons when the most retweeting is taking place. We know it’s important to include links in those tweets and including links tied to breaking news or that are designed to inform and educate will increase our chances of being retweeted.

We also know if you’re looking to use Twitter purely for the click thrus and you already have a strong following, you’re going to want to focus your efforts in the early afternoon, around dinner or right around prime time. We also know you’ll want to be very selective in how often you tweet links so the ones you do share are well received and have the chance to increase your credibility.

Twitter can be a very effective way to spread the word about your business, but as with all other forms of marketing and advertising, it’s important to understand the dynamics of its users. The latest data from HubSpot proves the idea of day parting your message is just as effective on Twitter as it is elsewhere.

For more insight, you can download the full report as a PDF, or read the summary over at HubSpot.