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Getting The Most Out Of Social

It’s November 2007. Facebook is growing and there are a few apps doing reasonably well on the developer platform, although this is still very much in its infancy. Sitting at the lounge table in my (fairly horrible) shared house I start having flashbacks to my degree and, on a whim, download the PHP library.

Flash forward to a few weeks later my second app, Pet Pupz, is launched. Within a month or so we hit 35,000 daily users and a few short months after that reach the dizzy heights of 150,000. This doesn’t sound like massive numbers now but at the time it was huge. Before the days of Zynga and Playfish it was me and a few other smaller development houses, mainly run by people who just wanted to make a game or app that people could use, and with no idea of what was about to happen.

Now, nearly 4 years on, Facebook is one of the best known brands in the world and has global businesses pumping millions of dollars into getting the most out of its platform. Whether it’s EA seeing the future of games as social one or consumer brands running competitions and pushing as much content as they can through their Facebook page. As a Web and SEO consultant I’m still involved from that side of things, but also maintain a great interest in the ‘little guy’.

Blogging is something I’ve fallen in and out of love with many times over the years but as Pet Pupz the game decreased in size we launched the associated blog. Created in order to provide tips and useful information for dog owners it gives us an extra outlet to both gain and push traffic, along with developing a deeper sense of loyalty from our users. This has taken a long time to get in place but we’re finally gaining some traction.

By utilising the 20,000 or so people that still play Pet Pupz on a monthly basis we’re able to give ourselves a breadth of coverage that you’re unlikely to achieve elsewhere. From inside the game we give people enough opportunity to share actions and achievements without them feeling like they’re spamming their friends. At the same time we look to push editorial content from the blog to our 80,000 or so Fans who, in turn, are generally quite happy to share the content.

A important thing to remember here is consistency. For a multitude of reasons there was a period of about 5 months where our content promotion virtually stopped. During that time we lost about 50% of our daily users and a huge amount of goodwill from those who, historically, were brand evangelists. Regaining this traction is a slog but over the last couple of weeks we’ve started to turn the corner.

Experimenting with the time of day to push content to your fans is a technique that shouldn’t underestimated. Depending on your country and demographics it may be that a double or triple push on new content is right for you. We tend to only publish a new post through our page once and do so at around 11pm GMT which is immediately followed by a tweet. We also publish a ‘major’ piece of content from the blog about once a week on the homepage of the game, which tends to give an extra kick of 1000+ visitors and a huge amount of extra social visibility.

Combining all this together in a cohesive, consistent manner breeds familiarity, and with that comes trust. It’s a long, hard slog to get right – particularly when it comes to split testing different approaches with regards to the tone and call to actions contained in any social push but seeing something go viral really is a sight to behold.

So, as a site owner, how can you get social to work?

I’m guessing that most people won’t have a Facebook app to give their content a kick start so to start with it’s a case of interacting with the community and finding a few like-minded individuals to help you out. My day job now involves quite a large amount of SEO, and outreach is something I particularly enjoy. If you’re creating fantastic content you’re part of a very privileged minority but most people doing this don’t market themselves properly.

Gaining Fans and Followers isn’t just about posting your own content and waiting for people to find you. Identify other bloggers and like minded individuals in your niche (Followerwonk is a great tool to help with this) and interact with them. Retweet and share some of their content and, when the time’s right, ask them to do the same for you. Chances are that if you’re recognised as being someone who’s helped them in the past they’ll be more than happy to help you out too.

If you’re at the point where you’ve got a fairly decent site with some great content, asking influential people to guest post for you is a great way to get yourself some extra exposure. The nature of a blogger is to have a tendency towards self promotion so, chances are, if they’ve got some content being posted on your blog then they’ll share it and you’re likely to pick up at least a few new followers. We’ve just started doing this with medium level bloggers, mainly to help out people that we like, but the added exposure is a nice bonus!

Finally, don’t ignore the old-school wonders of email marketing. Build a list of bloggers and social influencers in your niche, store their email address, and when you have some content that you’re particularly proud of (like a dog related infographic, video or epic blog post) fire up MailChimp and tell people about it. As long as you’ve picked your targets properly and a sending them something that’s of true value you’re likely to see a great response rate (in the past I’ve hit as much as 60%).

And Finally…

The most important thing about all of this is enthusiasm. Believe in the content you’re producing, make sure that it’s fantastic, and don’t be afraid to tell people about it. The feedback you get will tell you whether you’re right or not. If you are, great. If not, use it as an opportunity to get better.

Matt Beswick is a self confessed web junkie who loves to talk and blog about pretty much anything Internet related. He’d love for you to get in touch via Twitter or Google+.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by woodleywonderworks

Posted in Social Networking.

5 Replies

  1. I agree that consistency really matters. I can’t believe you lost half of your daily players after being gone a few months. That is crazy. Running a blog, I’m scared to be gone longer than a weekend though for fearing I will lost any loyal readers I may have.

  2. Hi!
    This was a very interesting and quite informative post. Yes, the truth is that Facebook, and also Twitter are very popular social network services. But not only for making friends but as well for business. People are looking for the best and easiest ways to sell their business. Well, i cant blame them 😉

  3. I totally agree with every point in this post. It’s true that it’s the passion in us that drives and motivates us to do what we want. When readers or users sense this passion, they can literally follow in huge numbers. That’s the essence of pursuing passion.

  4. Thanks for this great post! It’s really interesting to read this. FB has come a long way..

  5. Thanks for the story and the observations. I would summarize that pretty much any networking is positive, not just to start up a new site, but later on. You can’t have too many people sharing your content, and you can’t have too much content to share. Give and you will receive. Most people will be appreciative and you might find that your best business partners come from the networking you do in social media.

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