Not everyone is mesmerized by numbers; but we bet many of you appreciate money and learning how to make more of it. So while it isn't exactly news that e-merchants should be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, or that they should blog and do email marketing, what is news is how to do these things most effectively.
In the interest of making more money and wasting less time, you should consider what content draws the most likes, comments and shares on Facebook, what to Tweet, what to post on Pinterest, what to say about those posts, and when to blog. Fortunately, a company called Hubspot analyzed millions of social media postings and pages to get to the bottom of what works best. In his new book, The Science of Marketing: When to Tweet, What to Post, How to Blog, and Other Proven Strategies, Hubspot's Dan Zarrella tells you just that.
Zarrella is a social, search and viral marketing scientist. If you're wondering just what that title means, it's enough to know that he uses "real data, experimentation and real science" to uncover how people behave online and how marketers—that is, everyone reading this article—can leverage that behavior.
"I want to give you the data you need to get stuff done and to be successful," Zarrella says.
Let's look at the major social media platforms, apply some scientific principles to them and see what we can learn. Don't worry about applying scientific principles. That's been done for you.
Positive comments drive the most likes. That's because 'neutrality is boring, and boring is death on Facebook'
Facebook by the numbers
Given its size and influence, Zarrella says if you're going to choose just one platform to concentrate on, it should be Facebook. Maybe it's because Facebook has more than 1 billion active users worldwide.
But let's get this straight from the outset. When it comes to Facebook marketing, you probably shouldn't waste too much time fashioning one of those universal "click here" ads to drive business your way. (Sorry about that, Facebook). Instead, concentrate on your company's Facebook page to get comments, likes, shares and so on, Zarrella advises.
Fair enough, but how exactly do you do that? Zarrella says it's not enough to say your content has to be "provocative or awesome"—which you may have heard about 1,000 times. To learn more, Zarrella analyzed the 10,000 most-liked Facebook pages, and the like, comment and share data for each post.
Here are some of the things he learned:
Facebook content posted on Saturdays or Sundays generally gets more likes.
Content posted in the evenings from 5 p.m. to 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time also gets more likes.
Positive comments drive the most likes. Then come negative comments. Neutral comments came in third. That's because "neutrality is boring, and boring is death on Facebook," the author says.
Judging by like rates, photo posts do the best, followed by status updates, videos and then link posts. This seems especially useful to know as link posts seem a lot more common to us than photo posts.
As 'self reference' increases, follower count decreases. Use words such as 'I,' 'me,' 'us' and 'we' sparingly
The author considers Twitter to be the best platform for posting marketing content. To gather specific advice about how to best use Twitter, he analyzed "highly followed" accounts, which means those with 1,000 or more followers. Here are some findings:
Don't waste much time retweeting or, as Zarrella puts it, "engaging in the conversation." Instead, spend time gathering and sharing as much interesting, relevant content as you find.
Interested in gaining more followers? Then tweet links.
Generally, the more you tweet the better, he says, with a perhaps unrealistic 22 times per day being a good target. If you can't manage 22 or so tweets, that's OK, just try tweeting more than you tweet now.
Don't refer to yourself or your company too much when you tweet, either. Zarrella found that as "self reference" increases, follower count decreases. That means you should use words such as "I," "me," "us" and "we" sparingly, he says.
Finally, be positive. The more negative tweets you post, the fewer followers you'll have. "People don't go to social media to get bummed out about the world around them—they can turn on the TV news if that's what they want," Zarrella says. Instead, "they go to social media to talk to their friends and generally feel good."
Pinterest is more than pictures
Up to 80 percent reported their buying decisions are 'somewhat' or 'very much' influenced by blogs
On Pinterest, the pictures tell the story, as you probably knew. But you should also consider the text that accompanies pictures. Zarrella's research found that short, Twitter-like descriptions of between 100 to 200 characters work best.
He even advises which words work best in those descriptions: love, home decoration (with a do-it-yourself theme), fashion and style, and food recipes. It's fair to say that this information doesn't apply to a good many e-merchants. But if you sell products outside these areas, the author suggests you blend concepts that he lists in his book with what you do sell. For example, those selling sports brands might post quotes, and discuss the best products and places to get fit.
Blogging for bucks
Zarrella concedes that blogs may not be "as sexy" as they once were, but his research has found they are still very influential. Up to 80 percent of the people who responded to his company's survey gather buying information from blogs, reporting they are "somewhat" or "very much" influenced by blogs when making buying decisions. His advice is:
Blog in the morning. As the day wears on, blog readership goes down.
Blog on Mondays to get the most views. Weekend posts have the fewest views, although they tend to get more comments.
Blog a lot. How much is that? Again, his response is "more than you are now."
We only scratched the surface in describing this thought and action provoking book. The author also crunches the numbers and then gives specific advice for e-books, email marketing—that includes newsletters—and SEO. So while number crunching may not be your thing, it's very helpful that people like Zarrella enjoy it!