Monthly Archives: March 2012
What we’re watching:
- 3 winners share record Mega Millions jackpot
- Thieves steal data from millions of credit cards
- Diver killed in Australia shark attack
And did you see…
- Current TV pulls the plug on Keith Olbermann
- Obama moves with sanctions against Iran
- FDA: Requ … Continue reading
By Laura AllenbaughNBC News
JOPLIN, Mo. – When Denny Flowers looked at Lucy, it was love at first sight.
He found the 8-year-old Shih Tzu on the Joplin Humane Society Facebook page last year. She had been abused, and she was nearly blind from head trauma. The medical … Continue reading
In an online world where the quality of your blog content is only increasing in importance, the fabled ‘list’ post commonly gets a bad rap. It’s unfortunate, but definitely understandable. You can easily drown in a sea of particularly low-quality, low-value lists posts.
But hey — not all list posts have to suck! While there are definitely some pretty awful ones out there, you can also find quite a few very valuable, high-quality list posts floating around the internet. So let’s not judge a list post by its title. I’m a firm believer that the list post does have a place in the world of high quality blog content. And to no surprise, this post about lists posts is largely a list post itself. You can be the judge of its quality, but I stand by my beliefs.
First, let’s talk a little bit about common misconceptions about list posts. Then we’ll dive into the characteristics of high quality ones so you can start squashing the myth that all list posts are subpar … by writing awesome ones!
Common Misconceptions About List Posts
Last week, Daily Blog Tips published an article highlighting some common misconceptions about list posts and explaining why it’s silly to think about list posts in those ways. Let’s quickly review the points the article made:
- “List posts are just for lazy writers.” Pish posh! In fact, when done well (meaning it’s not just three, sentence-long points slapped together), a list post can take just as long — if not longer — than any other type of post for bloggers to write.
- “List posts aren’t right for my style/niche.” Huh? Why are list posts — a type of post — conceived as fitting only certain industries? A list post could work for any industry, as long as the subject matter and quality fit the audience.
- “List posts have to be really long.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. There’s no rule that your list post needs to be a laundry list of useless information or that it needs to include a minimum number of items. In fact, a super long, 100-point list runs the risk of sounding daunting to readers, deterring them from reading it and turning them away.
The thing is, people love the classic list post! They tell the reader exactly what — and how much of it — they’re going to get out of the post, plus they’re very shareable. They’re also easy to scan, and with so much content available on the web these days, being able to scan a post and still grasp a helpful nugget or two of information is highly valuable. Here are a few examples of the types of list posts we’ve published recently on this very blog, all of which we believe are high quality posts that have performed well in terms of traffic, leads, and inbound links:
- “9 Ways to Increase Visibility for Your Best Blog Content“
- “7 Keyword Research Mistakes That Stifle Your SEO Strategy“
- “13 Brands Using LinkedIn Company Page Features the Right Way“
- “5 Actionable Insights to Extract From Your Landing Page Analytics“
Now for the meaty stuff. If you’re convinced that list posts can be a part of your blogging strategy, make sure the ones you publish include these top 10 qualities of high-quality list posts.
1) Includes Items That Stay True to the List Subject/Angle
Sometimes a blogger will start writing a list about one thing, and then when he/she is done, it turns out to be a list that takes on a completely different angle because their research revealed more information about a slightly different subject. The problem is, this new angle is no longer relevant to their audience. Don’t let this happen to you. If, after your initial research, you find that the points you’ve brainstormed don’t fit with the subject you intended, scrap it and move on.
Another common symptom of bad list posts are list items that don’t quite fit with the others. For example, if you notice in this very list post, all of the items on this list are qualities of awesome list post. If one of my points was, in itself, an example of a list post, that wouldn’t make sense, right? Be consistent and parallel. If you’re writing a list of examples, they should all be examples. If you’re writing a list of best practices, they should all be best practices. It’s easy to stray off-topic when you’re trying to compile a hearty list, but you need to avoid it. Otherwise your list — and your writing — loses its integrity.
2) Dense With Valuable Takeaways (No Fluff!)
The biggest indicator of a lousy list post is one that contains a ton of fluff and no real, valuable takeaways for the reader. Here’s an example of what we mean:
3 Ways to Improve Your Social Media Marketing
- Be unique! Do something to stand out from your competitors.
- Take risks! Try out-of-the-box ideas.
- Measure results! Use your analytics to tell you what’s working.
What a fantastic list post! I’ve learned — absolutely nothing. No wonder list posts have a terrible reputation. That took me 60 seconds to write. Sure, on the surface, each of these list points sound valuable. You absolutely should do all these things in your social media marketing. But it doesn’t tell you exactly how to do those things. Your list shouldn’t just give readers a list of things to do and expect them to figure out how to do those things themselves. It should also walk them through the steps required to actually do those things.
A great list post nixes the fluff and concretely explains each item in detail. And while every point you make on your list might not be new to all your readers, if a reader walks away thinking, “Well, I already put numbers 3, 4, and 6, into practice, but I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on numbers 1, 2, and 5!” — then you’ve probably got yourself a high-quality list!
3) Links to More In-Depth Information When Necessary
One of the ways you can make sure you’re hitting on point #2 is to direct readers to other resources when necessary. Great list posts are comprehensive. It also means they can get pretty long and unwieldy, especially if you’re truly committed to point #2. That’s why sometimes it’s okay if you have to point your readers to another place for more in-depth information.
For example, we recently wrote a list post entitled, “9 Ways to Make Your Marketing Analytics Actionable.” Number 8 on the list reads “Score & Prioritize Your Leads for Sales,” which could be a blog post in itself — and hey … it is! Giving our readers enough information for that section to be truly helpful would have involved copying and pasting the entirety of that post into our list post, and that wouldn’t exactly have been the most helpful choice. So what we did was explain the point in a moderate amount of detail, and then directed readers to the other post where they could find more in-depth information.
Don’t be afraid to do this in your own list posts. And if you have to link to an external resource because you haven’t the written the post yourself — great! You’ve just passed off some link love, and you also now have another article idea for your blogging backlog!
4) Explains List Items Using Relatable Examples
Piggybacking again on point #2, sometimes one of the best ways to adequately explain a point on your list is to use an example to support it. Real examples are ideal, but sometimes even a hypothetical works just as great. In fact, we’ve used each of these example types in the first 3 items on this list! The main thing to consider when selecting or concocting an example is to keep it as relatable to your readers as possible. If the audience of your blog is comprised of a variety of readers representing different industries or businesses (like ours), this can be tricky. The key here is to keep your examples general so that everyone can relate. Here comes a hypothetical example to explain what I mean about using hypothetical examples …
In our list post, “7 Keyword Research Mistakes That Stifle Your SEO Strategy,” for example, we use the broad, hypothetical (even mythical!) example of unicorn farms/breeders to more easily explain points 4 and 5 on our list so that everyone could relate.
5) Numbered Items
This is an easy one. If you’re writing a list-style post — and especially when you use a number in the title of your list post — number your list items! This is particularly important when you have a longer list, because readers like to be able to gauge their progress as they’re reading through the list (i.e. “only halfway to go” or “I’m almost done!”). Readers may also like to reference certain points on a list later or share them with others, and being able to refer to a specific number rather than having to count themselves and say “it’s the 16th item on the list” is a much more user-friendly experience for your blog audience. Don’t make things difficult for your readers.
6) Includes an Appropriate Number of List Items
While we’re talking about numbers, let’s clear some misconceptions about them. Some list bloggers are of the camp that you should choose a number before you start writing your list and make sure you have enough points to fit that exact number. We are not. Sitting down and saying you’re going to write a list consisting of 14 items makes no sense. What if there really ends up being only 11 truly solid, valuable items that make up that list? Does that mean you should come up with 3 more forced or somewhat repetitive items just to achieve your goal of 14? We think not.
The rule of thumb is: just be comprehensive. This very list post includes 10 items because that’s how many I thought were individually valuable and indicative of a high-quality list post for this particular subject. Originally I had brainstormed 11, but as I started writing, I cut one out because it wasn’t that different from another point, and they could easily be represented as one.
As we mentioned before, list posts can easily become unwieldy. When you sit down to start drafting your list post, decide how granular you want to make your topic. This will help make your list more manageable. The title you craft can also help you stay focused. For example, if you’re a plumber writing a list post about the various ways you can unclog a drain, you might decide to stick to “The Top 4 Ways to Unclog a Drain,” rather than writing a lengthy list post covering “The 50 Different Ways to Unclog a Drain.”
Furthermore, do some testing and research if you want to glean some best practices for your list posts. An internal study of our own blog, for example, revealed that posts for which the title indicated 6 items or fewer didn’t perform as well as when the title indicated the list contained 7 or more items. The lesson? While we sometimes still write lists posts containing 6 or fewer items, we don’t include the number in the title for those posts. For example, our post, “Why Every Marketer Needs Closed-Loop Reporting” is essentially a list post, but it’s not framed that way in the title since it only includes 6 points. Do your own analysis to determine best practices for your business blog.
7) Uses Category Buckets (For Longer Lists)
Now, if you had decided to write that list post of 50 different ways to unclog a drain, your list post would look pretty daunting, considering the sheer number of items it would include. In this case, a great practice is to use subheaders to break up your list into categories. This makes the list much more scanable (remember how people love to scan blogs?), and a lot less overwhelming at first glance.
For example, when we published “25 Eye-Popping Internet Marketing Statistics for 2012,” we broke up the statistics into 5 sections: “The Internet in 2012,” “Mobile in 2012,” “Social Media in 2012,” “Video in 2012,” and “Ecommerce in 2012.” If some of our readers didn’t give a squat about ecommerce, they could easily scan the post and avoid that section. Perfect!
Contains Logically Ordered List Items
Your list, like any other post you’d write, should flow and tell a story. How you do this will definitely depend on the subject and contents of your list, but here are some great organizational structures to choose from: alphabetical (great for glossaries), chronological (great for step-by-step guides), by popularity/importance — most to least or least to most (great for top 10/20/50 lists). Another best practice is to emphasize your strongest points in the beginning, middle, and end of your list to keep readers engaged throughout.
When I sat down and brainstormed this list, for example, it was just that — a brainstormed list. It was unorganized and all over the place. But once I’d identified all the points I wanted to include, I rearranged the furniture a bit. I realized how easily numbers 5 and 6 would flow into each other, and how number 5 would make sense after discussing points 2, 3 and 4. Number 1 was a great starting point, and number 10 made the most sense last, since that’s likely the last thing you’d tweak when writing a list post. Sometimes your list points will practically arrange themselves (e.g. “5 Steps to Do X”), and sometimes there won’t be as obvious a story (e.g. “20 Ways to Do Y”). Just put the time into figuring it out and ordering your items as logically as possible.
9) Parallel Formatting
I’m not as strict about this one as some list post purists, but in general, I agree that your list post should have a consistent and parallel look. Failing to do so only confuses readers, especially when they can’t tell that they’ve moved onto a new item on the list because the header style was inconsistent or under-emphasized.
Here are some helpful guidelines to consider:
- Try to keep sections similar in length.
- Use the same header style to highlight your individual list items, and make sure it stands out.
- Make sure your list item headers are written in parallel fashion (i.e. if it’s a list of action items, each should be led with a verb)
- Use images and bullet points to break up text when appropriate.
10) Clear and Catchy Title
As we mentioned in the beginning of this post, one of the reasons people have always loved list posts is because they know exactly what — and how much — they’ll get out of them. There is no guesswork involved, and expectations you’ve set for your readers are very clear. Make sure your title epitomizes that. An effective list post title should accomplish two things in order to entice readers to actually read the post: 1) capture the readers’ attention and 2) clearly indicate the value or what the reader will learn, and 3) indicate how much they will learn with a number.
For example, earlier this week, we published “The 7 Aspects of Inbound Marketing Most People Screw Up.” Do you have to wonder what this post will be about? No! You know that after reading this post, you’ll know which 7 parts of inbound marketing people tend to screw up so you can avoid screwing them up, too. And chances are, you probably don’t like to fail, right? So you’re probably kind of intrigued to learn if you’re one of “most people” and, if so, what you should stop screwing up.
What’s your take on list posts? What else would you add to our list of high-quality list post qualities?
Image Credit: MStewartPhotography
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YANGON, Myanmar – It was like carnival time in Mingalar Taung Nyung Township on Friday. A cavalcade of packed cars, mini-buses and trucks cruised the streets of this rundown Yangon suburb, music blaring, while the euphoric passengers sang, waved and danced.
“Aung San Suu K … Continue reading
That business plan, that business plan,
I do not like that business plan.
I do not like the writing part,
I do not even like to start.
I do not like them at a bar,
I do not like them from afar.
~Dharmesh (with h/t to Dr. Seuss, who I read every day to my son)
My feelings on business plans varies: from extreme dislike to just mild irritation.
I don’t think business plans are completely useless, just mostly so. And sometimes, they’re even dangerous.
1. Business plans are energy-depleting exercises. When I went to MIT Sloan for business school, I took what was (and is) one of the “definitive” classes for entrepreneurs “New Enterprises”. The class was oriented around coming up with ideas, forging a team of classmates around that idea (you had to actually sell them) and then having that team write a business plan during the course. All of this was intermingled with some presentations and some guest lectures. All around, I loved the class but hated the writing of the business plan. It was painful. I had a great team — and it was still painful. We had a real business (what later morphed into my current company, HubSpot) — but it was still painful. And, took a lot of time. I’d much rather have been talking to potential customers or building product prototypes — both of those activities, unlike writing business plans, are energizing.
2. You should be committed to your business, not your business plan. As a way to capture your current plan and thinking about the business, business plans are inefficient. Shortly after you’re done writing it (or editing it), you will realize that the plan is a little out-dated and does not reflect your current reality. Startups change constantly, especially in the early days when you’re trying to find product market fit. The market changes, you get more feedback from your customers, and your understanding of the opportunity changes. Even more simply, you might just change your mind. In the early days, your startup is likely changing so frequently that going through the effort of making sure your business plan keeps up with your latest thinking is frustrating and futile. You’re much, much better off spending that time and energy talking to customers and making the product better. Business plans are often dangerous, because you become overly committed to what you’ve written down. The risk is that you revise the plan so much, have toiled so many nights getting it just right that you actually start becoming emotionally attached to the plan. It becomes your baby — not the business itself. This can be fatal. You want to stay pragmatic and willing to change. If you have a 100 page tome that you’ve poured your heart and soul into late into the night, you’ll have this small piece of you that begins resisting the change to the plan. That’s a Very Bad Thing.
3. Business plans are written in the waterfall method, and you need to be agile. Some entrepreneurs take the “classic” approach to a startup. Have idea. Write business plan. Rewrite business plan. Rewrite busines plan. Pitch plan to investors, team maters, etc. Keep pitching until you get money or fall into the dark abyss. If you raise money, go out and start “executing” on the plan. Later discover that some of the core elements of the plan were flat out wrong. Does those sequence of things sound familiar? If you’re a developer, it will sound to you an awful lot like the “waterfall method” of software development. And, in that case, you just listen to your instincts to run screaming in the other direction. Agile is not just for software development, it’s for startup development too.
4. Nobody will read your business plan. If you enjoy the act of writing a business plan and like having it, that’s fine. Perhaps you like sleeping with it under your pillow because it gives you comfort. That’s cool. As long as you don’t have some delusional idea that anyone is going to actually read it, you’re fine. It’s when you expect potential investors, team members and other unsuspecting victims to read your masterful work of brilliance that you have a problem. Once you get through the first few iterations, it’s likely that even you won’t want to read the plan anymore. You’ll become sick of it.
5. It’s a work of fiction. The executive summary can be useful (but can be manifested in much better ways), but a lot of the marketing sizing, financial projections and long narratives around go-to-market strategy are usually complete works of fiction. Some plans have more reliable market data than others. Some include more realistic projections than others. But, they’re all works of fiction. All that varies is the degree to which the business plan resembles the truth and the degree to which the entrepreneur believes the fiction.
6. Write a blog, not a business plan. Although I advise against writing the classic business plan, I’m not against writing down your ideas and describing them in a way that is consumable by other humans. In fact, I’m a big fan of that. Just not in the form of a business plan. Instead of writing a business plan, which nobody will read, write a blog instead. Unlike a business plan, a few people will actually read your blog. The blog has the added value of being interactive. People can leave comments on your blog. They can poke at your ideas, tell you about these other 3 startups that sound like they’re working on something similar. They can call you an idiot. All of that is useful. The earlier in the process you can get feedback from places other than the voices inside your head that talk to you at 1am in the morning after a long day of work, the better off you are. Unlike a business plan, a blog is useful forever. It pulls people into your business (through things like Google search). It helps people visiting your website to get a better understanding of what’s going on in your head. It serves as both a vehicle for crystallizing your thinking and as a tool for marketing. In fact, it’s one of the most important inbound marketing tools at your disposal. Every startup should have a blog.
What do you think? Have you tried writing a business plan? Do you know of a “friend” that tried to write one, because they thought they needed one for some reason?What’s your take?
Looking for other startup fanatics? Request access to the OnStartups LinkedIn Group. 130,000+ members and growing daily.
Oh, and by the way, you should follow me on twitter: @dharmesh.
Good Morning, here’s where we begin…
-Largest lottery jackpot in history
-NBC Marist poll: Romney leads in Wisconsin primary
-Mayor: Cops resisted Zimmerman 911 tape release
And did you see…
-Santa Monica Community College considers two tier tui … Continue reading
Are you ready for the transition? Time is almost up! According to Facebook, by the end of today, all business pages on Facebook will convert to the new page design, embracing the Timeline look whether you like it or not.
Some businesses are scared of the change. But you, the reader of this post, shouldn’t be! The new Timeline design will require you to make some changes to your Facebook business page, but acting quickly and optimizing your page specifically for the new design will give you an edge on your lagging competition. To help make your transition easier, we’ve created a 6-step cheat sheet infographic to highlight the key features of the new page design. Feel free to pin it, share it, or embed it on your own website or blog.
And if you’re looking for a more detailed guide to using the new page design, you can always download our free Step-by-Step Guide to New Facebook Business Page Timelines, which walks you through the different ways Facebook’s new page features can support your marketing and strengthen your lead generation efforts.
Were you one of the earlier adopters of Facebook’s new business page design? What do you think of the new layout?
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We’ve all gotten used to the idea of using Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube for marketing — even if the platforms aren’t always as brand-friendly as they could be. And why should they be? They started as social networks meant for people to talk to people, not companies to talk to consumers. But in the struggle for monetization, they’ve had to adapt and continue offering ways for brands to market and make money using social media.
And we have! Many marketers have figured out how to generate leads via social media, start discussions with leads and customers, and even venture into the territory of social sales. And just when we got comfortable with this whole social media marketing thing — BOOM! — out comes Google+, followed shortly thereafter by Pinterest.
Great. Two more social networks brands need to figure out how to use for marketing. We all saw what happened with Facebook and Twitter; a small segment of savvy marketers figured out how to use the social networks for marketing successfully, and businesses that lagged were left playing catch-up years later. We’re not going to fall victim to that again with Google+ and Pinterest!
But do we need to figure out how to use them for marketing? Are either of them actually useful in that regard? Like most generic questions of this nature, the answer is … it depends. Pinterest and Google+ have their strengths and their weaknesses. And while in an ideal world you’d have the time to play around with both to see which, if either, is right for your business, we figure that you’re just trying to find enough time to write your next blog post.
So if you just can’t decide whether Pinterest or Google+ is really worth your time, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each social network. Hopefully the side by side comparison will help you prioritize whether you should pursue them as part of your internet marketing strategy.
First, a quick review. Pinterest is a social network where users share (or ‘pin’) images and videos of items that interest them. They are either their own images and videos, or ones they’ve found on others’ pinboards or on the web. The pins are aggregated on ‘boards’ that often follow a common theme. If you decide after reading this post that Pinterest might be a good fit for your business, reference this ebook about how to use Pinterest for business.
Why Pinterest Rocks
You don’t want to spend your time on a social network nobody is using, so let’s start by taking a look at Pinterest’s usage stats as an indication of its usefulness, courtesy of Media Bistro and comScore. As of February 2012, Pinterest had 10.4 million users. And in January, not only did Pinterest reach 11,716, 000 total unique visitors, but the average amount of time spent on the site per visitor was 97.8 minutes. Or in highly technical marketing terms – the site’s really sticky. Why does this make Pinterest a great potential social haven for marketers? It’s means that the site provides significant value to its users, enough so they’re willing to set aside a large chunk of their day to spend on it. And if those metrics continue to go up, it’s an indication that Pinterest is not just a passing fad.
One of the reasons Pinterest has probably taken off – and why marketers should be excited about it – is that it offers a value proposition that’s unique from the other social networks out there. If someone asked you to define what all the major social networks did – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube – it’s pretty easy to differentiate them from one another. And Pinterest is no different! None of the existing social networks do exactly what Pinterest does. Sure, you can share images on Facebook or via a Twitpic, but image-sharing is not those sites’ primary purpose as it is with Pinterest.
Pinterest has also made it very easy to share content on the web, something content-crazy (in a positive way!) inbound marketers should get excited about. Pinterest prompts users to download a pinmarklet (a Pinterest toolbar bookmarklet) that allows them to pin any content they find on the web that they want to share; it’s just that easy. No copying and pasting links or switching between tabs and browsers. If you’re investing in visual content – infographics, cartoons, videos, etc. – Pinterest just made it even easier for that content to be disseminated by your readers to a brand new audience.
Which brings us to one of the best parts of Pinterest – that it’s an image-driven site! And people love images, far more than they love words. In fact, images and videos are the most shared content on Facebook. If you’re a product-driven business, sharing beautiful images of your products on Pinterest is a simple way to leverage the tremendous power of visuals on a booming social network that is dedicated solely to sharing beautiful and interesting images.
Where Pinterest Falls Short
One of Pinterest’s biggest strengths, its emphasis on visual content, is also one of its biggest weaknesses for some businesses. Frankly, most people think of Pinterest as a place to look at things like clothes, hairstyles, furniture, crafts, and other visually stimulating images. If you’re not a B2C or product-oriented business – or you’re like HubSpot and your product is inbound marketing software — it’s a stretch to find a use for Pinterest. That’s not to say you can’t be successful on Pinterest; HubSpot got creative and combined pinboards of our visual content, like infographics, ebook covers, and inbound marketing graphs, with pinboards that reflect our brand, like “Fun Orange Things” and “Things With Spots.”
And while relatively unsexy B2B businesses have found success on Pinterest, it has also resulted in some backlash from pinners about whether Pinterest should be a safe space from marketers. We wrote a blog post that discusses that debate in much more detail, but if you’re considering experimenting with Pinterest, it’s important to note that you very well may experience some backlash for it if you’re perceived as, well, marketing (even though Pinterest has wiped any warnings against using the site for marketing from its ‘Pin Etiquette‘ since we published that post).
It makes sense; one of the other weaknesses of Pinterest is the lack of dedicated brand pages. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn all eventually developed space specifically for companies, which helps alleviate some of the frustration consumers feel when they feel like they’re being marketed to in their personal social networks. The challenge marketers will face on Pinterest, then, is figuring out how to market without seeming like marketing. In other words, create visual content that’s so cool, people won’t care that it’s also driving referral traffic and inbound links to your website. Visual content creators out there know doing that is much harder than it looks.
Now that we know Pinterest’s strengths and weaknesses, let’s do a quick review of Google+ before continuing our deep dive. Google+ is a social network many have described as similar to Facebook. It lets users — and since November, brands have dedicated pages for the same purpose — share status updates, links, images, and videos. These updates can be commented on, shared, or receive a +1, which shows up in search engine results pages. We also have a Google+ for business ebook for your reference if you decide it’s a worthwhile social network on which to spend your marketing time.
Why Google+ Rocks
While users don’t expect Pinterest to be used for business, marketers on Google+ aren’t met with any surprise from others on the social network. Even when Google+ initially launched without dedicated brand pages, it wasn’t strange to see businesses promoting their content – probably because the network worked so similarly to Facebook (more on that later) which has long since integrated brand conversations with personal updates. So if you’re concerned with being met with consumer backlash on Pinterest, Google+ is certainly a safer space to try out a new social media venture.
Google+ also allows for better targeting of content with its Circles functionality. You likely have several personas developed for your business, and if you’ve done any content mapping you know that while some content is ubiquitous, much of it needs to be tailored to the audience. Instead of blasting updates to your entire Google+ following, Circles allows marketers to let their followers identify the topics they’re most interested in. This is the kind of content targeting inbound marketers relish, because it leads to higher click-through rates and a more engaged social following.
But perhaps the best argument for getting started on Google+ is its integration into search results. Google+ status updates and content people have given a +1 to now appear in the organic search engine results on Google.com. So whether you simply have a +1 button on your blog or you’re actively publishing content to Google+, your content has a much greater chance of dominating search results than it did before your participation in Google+. If you’re interesting in seriously dominating organic search results with Google+, reference this blog post that will teach you the tricks of the trade.
Where Google+ Falls Short
Just like Pinterest, Google+’s strengths also contribute to its weaknesses. Namely, some people find it really confusing. What’s the difference between just posting to Google+, and +1’ing content? If I do either of them, does it mean I show up in search? How can I use Google+ to share content without making it indexable in search? These are all valid concerns that, as marketers, we understand, but we also easily take for granted that our target audience may not understand the intricacies of how Google+ works. And if they don’t get it, they won’t use it.
Perhaps that – plus a lack of clear value proposition – is why Google+ usage has leveled off after its initially skyrocketing adoption rate. While Pinterest has users on its site for over an hour at a time, eMarketer reports that users spent an average of just 3.3 minutes on Google+ in January. Ouch. So while Google+ has more users than Pinterest, those users aren’t actually spending time on the site each month; do marketers really want to spend time on a social network their users aren’t?
For Google+ to provide the same kind of value for its users as Pinterest, it needs to provide a unique value proposition like Pinterest has. Remember when I said it was easy to define the major social networks, like Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter? I have a confession. I had a difficult time coming up with the words to explain Google+ in the beginning of this section. All I could think to say was – it’s pretty much like Facebook. And until Google+ can differentiate itself further, it’s not likely users will spend more than a few minutes a month on there, either.
So, Which Should You Choose?
Pinterest has the opportunity to be extremely valuable for retail businesses, or anyone who sells an aesthetic-centered service — think hairdressers, for example. But it can also have a lot of value to businesses that are willing to put in the time to create visually stimulating content — we’ve written an entire post about how B2B organizations can thrive on Pinterest. But your time will be wasted if the only time you have to give, at this stage in the game, is sharing links to written content you and others are creating. Realistically, that’s what many businesses are doing on social media (and that’s okay!), and Google+ is a much more appropriate social network for such sharing.
But I would be remiss to close out this post without mentioning one key difference between Google+ and Pinterest that might affect your decision to participate in the networks: Pinterest users are mostly women, while Google+ users are largely men. Okay, let’s dive into some data and raging gender stereotypes for just a minute, courtesy of Remcolandia:
- 83% of Pinterest users are females between 18 and 34.
- Most Pinterest posts and photos are about design, fashion, and home decoration.
- 63% of Google+ users are men, who tend to post about technology.
- Two of the biggest user groups on Google+ are college students and software developers.
Does your business’ target audience have a similarly heavy skew in one of these directions — either by industry, job type, or gender? If so, this data may be key in deciding whether it’s worth your time to pursue marketing on Google+ or Pinterest.
All of this isn’t to say you you should use Google+ or Pinterest, or that you should limit your usage to just one. If you have the bandwidth to experiment with both, finding opportunities to present your information both verablly and visually, take on the task! (And share the results with us, please!) But since we know how strapped for time and resources many marketers already are, hopefully this side by side comparison of the pros and cons of the two newest social networks makes your decision to participate just a little less agonizing.
Which social network — if either — do you find more helpful for your business, and why? Do you think one or both will fade into oblivion as a marketing tool?
Image credit: Louis K.
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