3 Easy Ways To Win At Social Sharing

So many websites fail at the most basic social integration. If you want to win at social sharing, follow these three tips. If you want to keep on losing, just pretend this Medium post never existed.

1. Use default social sharing buttons.

Default social sharing buttons are the ones that the social networks themselves provide in their documentation. Twitter’s one is here. Facebook’s broad selection of social plugins are here. They even allow you to generate the code if you’re not a tech pro.

Why use the default social sharing icons and plugins? They are the most commonly seen by users. That means that when people are reading your content, like it and want to share it to their friends and social networks, they will instinctively look for … the sharing icons they see everywhere else online.

ProTip: Don’t make your life more complex by designing up fancy social sharing icons: I’ve done it before and learned the hard way that they reduce social sharing. They look great, but I promise that - most of the time - they wont work as hard as you want them to.

2. Use the Open Graph Protocol.

With Open Graph tags, your website looks sexy when it is shared on Facebook and other social channels. Without it, it looks shit. All you need to do is visit http://ogp.me/ and you will learn how easy it is to make your site sexier in social. I promise you won’t regret it, particularly if you’re disappointed so far with the traffic you get from social shares (you’re tracking that with Google Analytics already, right?).

ProTip: The copy you use in the Open Graph Tags on your web pages should go through a strategic filter, just like SEO. Put yourself in the shoes of friends and fans of the sharers. What will they do when they see one of their contacts has shared a link? There has to be a clear call-to-action that drives engagement, whether it be click throughs to your site, more shares or likes.

3. Create a sexy Tweet structure.

How many times have you clicked ‘Tweet’ on a Page, only for it to look crap when Twitter interface comes up? If you have this problem with your site and/or have complaints from users, the simplest solution is to refer to the Twitter link in point one. Here, I’ll share it again but this time, in its full URL glory: https://twitter.com/about/resources/buttons . You can use Twitter’s simple tool to structure what goes into the auto-generated Tweet. Put in a hashtag. Make sure your Page Titles are all properly set-up, too.

ProTip: Very, very few websites do this well. If you do it well, you are already beating your opponents and many major online publishers too!

Follow these tips and start allowing your site and web content to win on social. For more ideas on social, tweet me at @oiwoods.

Next Story — My Medium Features Wishlist
Currently Reading - My Medium Features Wishlist

My Medium Features Wishlist

I love using Medium. Which is why I wanted to lovingly suggest some new features for everyone’s favourite digital publishing platform. 

1. Search

I want to be able to search all the amazing content that is being generated here. I don’t just want to find it through recommendations, collections & social sharing on Twitter.

It would be great to be able to search the basic elements of posts: Title, Header & Text. Even cooler would be thematic searches related to how Medium posts are categorised in Collections.

The search algorithm would be epic win if it could even use Recommendations not just as signals of popularity, but also interface with my own Medium data to ensure that Medium Search shared Posts that are popular amongst people similar to me.

2. Broader Analytics

The current state of Medium analytics is OK, but has a lot of room to grow. Right now, we only have four standard metrics: Views, Reads, Read Ratio & Recommendations.

Based on Medium’s desire to be a great place to read, write and get feedback, it would be great if the Stats Dashboard could pull in many more relevant metrics.

Traffic sources, for one, would provide authors with a great indication about what made their content popular. Some of my friends have found frustrating when their articles reached the front page without knowing where all the Reads came from. I was thinking about this when reading Karen Cheng’s excellent piece ‘10 ways to make your video go viral’: she knew exactly what made her YouTube video go viral because of the platform’s excellent in-built analytics.

Beyond just what channels people came from, I’d love to see demographic stats: visits by city, country, browser type, device. It would be fascinating to see how these affected Views & Reads. You could be big in Japan, but right now you just wouldn’t know.

3. Open API

How cool would it be if we could build apps that tap into Medium? Not just digital publishing apps, but a whole eco-system that can help with article promotion, SEO, content strategy and even marketing automation. Think of online magazines or even brands using the platform at a mass-scale with calendars of Articles that get published at the right time & syndicated across multiple channels.

Imagine the possibilities with big data, too. We could build a ‘Discovery Engine’, which pulls in the articles you recommend and the collections you maintain and then outputs articles it thinks you will like.

Every great web service eventually releases its API to the public. I’m sure Medium will eventually do the same.

4. Embedded Video

I can’t be the only one craving this, right? I’m sure I read somewhere on Medium a rationale as to why the platform didn’t want to over-complicate things with other forms of media, ensuring we could appreciate text and not get inspired by the libertarian UX nightmare of MySpace.

However, based on user behaviour and articles I’ve read so far (I spend way too much time here), people are heavily utilising the ‘Add Image’ feature. I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt to add an ‘Add Video’ option…

And that’s it. My 2 cents. Have you got any ideas for new features on Medium? Or how the publishing experience can be improved?

Next Story — 4 Digital Strategy Career-Growth Hacks 
Currently Reading - 4 Digital Strategy Career-Growth Hacks 

4 Digital Strategy Career-Growth Hacks 

This shit ain’t hard, yo.

I am frequently asked advice for how to get jobs doing digital & social strategy. Why anyone asks me for help is a mystery: I’m still a relative newbie, having only worked in the field since 2007.

Nevertheless, with the proliferation of jobs and constant clamour for talented ‘Maths Men’ (and women), I have always had a gut feeling that like the supply side of labour into our industry isn’t being managed properly.

It didn’t take numerous conversations with fellow practitioners for me to realise that existing advice for people who want to get into our field totally sucks.

Here is my humble attempt to remedy this. Practical, though not easy, steps that can guide you budding social media planners and digital strategists out there into #epicwins.

1. Build

If you haven’t got a portfolio of paid work for clients, build yo’ own shit. Learn how to code up websites. Start taking Photoshop seriously and design some cool posters for Tumblr. Come up with concepts for cool Facebook Games, and then publish the plans here on Medium.

Someone who does this very well is my ex-colleague and friend Rhys Hillman. Sure, Rhys is already talented Digital Strategist at an ad agency in Melbourne who does great client work. However, he is also very creative and driven with his own initiatives.

He created a hilarious website called Please Help Me Ja Rule, where people can choose their mood and be rewarded with an appropriate Ja Rule track. Not only is the site funny: future bosses and recruiters notice when someone’s fun side project gets shared more than 500 times in Facebook and involves art + copy + code.

It isn’t rocket science to realise the people who hire digital strategists need evidence to prove you rock. If you haven’t got any work experience, build digital experiences about things you love. I promise it will help you get you strategy jobs.

2. Read, then Engage

Read as much as you can online about digital strategy, then digest it and talk about it. Find authors and thinkers you like, follow them on Twitter/Facebook. Ask them questions & engage with their own tweets.

You’d be surprised how well-known people or experts often reply to their fans. Digital marketing genius Brian Solis engages heaps with people who engage with him.

If you don’t know where to start with who to follow, do a bit of searching for fellow strategists who you like. You could start here.

Don’t stress if you find your hero is a douchebag, either. You can unfollow them with a single click!

3. Get your LinkedIn sorted

Fill out your details. Don’t worry if you didn’t go to an Ivy League university: people will appreciate honesty. In the same measure, don’t boast if you are already a high achiever: LinkedIn rewards modesty.

Better still, put the stuff you build in 1. into your showcase of work. Add people who influence you with a kind introductory description explaining you’re not a stalker.

4. Go beyond Digital

No, I don’t just mean watch lots of indie movies and use analogue cameras. A good strategist knows strategy in all its forms: from warfare to economics.

A good place to start is Sun Tzu’s Art of War, which you can read here. It might be a cliche, but the rules of strategy you learn in it are valuable and will stop you from becoming arrogant when you start getting cocky.

Beyond Sun Tzu, I would strongly encourage you to read across strategy in other subjects, not just business and marketing. It will help you become a better strategist when you’re able to be more abstract in your understanding of how to meet objectives & overcome challenges using limited sets of resources.

For more of my digital strategy idiocy ,you can follow me on Twitter at @oiwoods or on Google+.

Next Story — How To: Sell Split Testing To Your Boss & Clients
Currently Reading - How To: Sell Split Testing To Your Boss & Clients

Tom Cruise selling digital strategies like a boss. With an 80's telephone #thuglife

How To: Sell Split Testing To Your Boss & Clients

The easy way to hustle A/B and multi-variate testing.

Tests suck. We go through too many of them at school. As we get a little older, the spectre of tests by sinister doctors looms large over us. Some of us are unlucky enough to have experienced aptitude, ethical & psychometric testing.

The hatred of tests that society incubates deep within our souls has an unintended side effect on digital strategy implementation.

Despite the emergence of tools from Google & CRM software providers that make split & multi-variate testing really easy for ‘Maths Men’ marketers, they’re not as popular as they should be.

Indeed,the problem lies in the most prosaic side to marketing: the sales hustle.

Testing is an essential part of any form of digital strategy. That is widely acknowledged in literature. Amazon, Barack Obama’s respective campaigns and various other digital initiatives are the ‘Promised Children’ of testing.

We’re showered with their examples in ‘DIY Split Testing’ articles and at marketing conferences. There are heaps of cheesy diagrams showing how organisations should evolve their testing programs.

However, in practice, testing doesn’t happen much. Testing is one of those things that often gets left behind when we’re doing our final hours on a client proposal in the advertising world.

I’ve been really fortunate to have had supportive colleagues around the ‘testing hustle’ over the years. I’ve even managed to sell a full A/B (split) and A/B/C/n (multi-variate) testing strategy to the Australian Defence Force!

From these experiences, I wanted to share how to sell split & multi-variate testing into your digital projects.

Always Phase Testing

All organisations are afraid of change. Even the most progressive want to make sure that there is evidence behind new initiatives. Which is why you’re reading this article, right?

The most important thing with testing is to phase it. There are two reasons.

Firstly, you will scare your clients if you say you want to implement a radical new approach tomorrow. Plan out a simple, phased approach. Then present it with confidence and without fear. It will minimise the uncertainty and allay fear that any changes to marketing programs normally creates. Once its sold in, you can then scale up accordingly.

Secondly, practice is always better than theory. You learn a lot along the way. Make it easier on yourself.

Start Small

Walk before you run. Sell through a single split testing project at the level of a single asset. Tell your client not to fear. After all, what is testing a single web page, an eDM or social content to them?

If you do it properly and by the book, you can use the results to hustle up the scale of the testing program. Presenting a successful split test, even if the results are fractionally different, often can spark a lot of interest by people previously terrified of testing.

Measure Everything

While you don’t need to wear a lab coat and get into Star Trek during your testing program, you should make it reasonably scientific. This is an important part of the up-selling process.

Indeed, even the most gut-driven bosses and clients can see the benefits in measuring the performance of their own campaigns. Emphasise this. And with split testing, you normally can’t go too wrong: the results will speak for themselves.

To get this part right, read up on literature (like the link I provided in the embedded Tweet above). Then present the literature to your bosses and clients.

Be Prepared

If you want to launch a split testing program for a client or your organisation, make sure you have the technological & labour capacity to actually execute.

You may be a clever chap and be able to get a program in the door. However, the time required to maintain an effective testing program (including set-up, measurement & reporting) can easily overwhelm people with already jam packed work schedules.

Social split testing is an exception here, as it really just requires more sweat equity. E-mail & web page split testing is a lot more challenging.

A/B before A/B/C/n

Don’t do any multi-variate testing until you’ve done a lot of split testing as an individual and as an organisation.

You may know it possible to execute a great multi-variate test on those send times or Subject Lines in your client’s next e-newsletter … but what if your client actually asks you how many multi-variate tests anyone on your team has run?

Next Story — This is Your Life in Silicon Valley
Currently Reading - This is Your Life in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley — Photo Credit — Vadim Kurland

This is Your Life in Silicon Valley

You wake up at 6:30am after an Ambien-induced sleep. It’s Friday. Last night at The Rosewood was pretty intense — you had to check out Madera and see if there is any truth to the long running Silicon Valley rumors. You were disappointed, but at least you did get to see a few GPs from prominent VC firms at the bar. Did they notice you? Did you make eye contact? You remind yourself they are not real celebrities — only well known in a 15-mile radius to the Techcrunch-reading crowd.

Your non-English-speaking nanny shows up at 7:30am on the nose. You are paying her $24/hour and entrusting her (and Daniel the Tiger) with raising your child. You tell yourself that it’s ok for now — when he’s old enough he’ll (someday) be in public school in the Palo Alto school district.

You commit to being a better parent this weekend and spending more quality time with him as you browse through the latest headlines on Flipboard. You recently realized he may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg after all — still you send him to a music school even though he’s only 3. You swear he’s a genius because he can say a few 4-syllable words and can clap perfectly to the beat of “Call me Maybe”. He’s special. He is destined for greatness and you’ll make sure he achieves every ounce of it. After all, both of you are so smart and accomplished.

Cal Academy of Sciences — Photo Credit: Brook Peterson

You ask your nanny if she has any availability to watch your son this weekend. Bummer — you wish Cal Academy of Sciences hadn’t sold you on the annual pass 11 months ago. You figured you’d be going there every weekend, but only ended up going the one time. Not a break even proposition for you.

Your wifi enabled coffee maker downloads the perfect instructions to brew a cup of Blue Bottle — and you don’t have to do anything. The Roomba purrs in the background while you continue to read from your smartphone. You see a few articles about Trump and how crazy he is — somehow this comforts you.

You decide to share an article about Brexit from “The Atlantic”, which will somehow shed light to all your friends as to why it happened. The article is 1,000 words long — you only read half of it, but that’s good enough. It captures all the arguments you’ve been wanting to make for the past two months to your friends. Will this be the Facebook post that finally spurns your friends into action? You realize your Facebook friends all agree with your political views and social views already.

Fifteen minutes — only 3 likes — better luck next time. The Facebook Newsfeed algorithm totally fucked you — you should have shared from your browser, not your phone, and perhaps at a more optimal time.

But then you realize another friend already shared the article. You feel stupid.

Youtube office in San Bruno — photo credit Travis Wise

Your spouse hurriedly gets ready for work — you are a two income family and you have to be one for now. The spreadsheet shows that with only three more years’ savings, you can finally afford that 2 bedroom condo in San Bruno. So what if the weather is shitty 340 days out of the year? At least you’ll be homeowner in the Bay Area — and nothing says you’ve “made it” like being able to afford a down payment. Besides, San Bruno is “up and coming” — and Youtube has an office there.

Your commute to work sucks, but at least its an opportunity to catch up on Podcasts so you can have great conversations over cocktails with your friends. Should you listen to “Serial Season 2” today? Or should you listen to that amazing “Startup” podcast? So many choices, so little time. You instead decide to expand your horizons by trying a new playlist on Spotify — something about Indian-infused-jazz music. It sounds great. It makes you feel cultured.

You decide to park your car using “Luxe” today. You justify it to yourself by saying that parking garages are only $10 less expensive. And you have to spend all of that time walking back and forth. And besides — today you are meeting some friends after work for dinner and you’ll be on the other end of town. You can’t decide whether you’ll take Uber or Lyft to the dinner from your office — decisions, decisions.

You are the Director of Business Development at your startup. You aren’t even sure what that means, but the startup seems to be doing well. Your company recently raised a round and was featured in Techcrunch. You have 5,000 stock options. You aren’t exactly sure what that means, but that must be good. If you exit, maybe that will mean money toward a down payment.

Your day starts in Salesforce. You have to email a bunch of people. You briefly contemplate a business idea you have that will totally kill Salesforce and Facebook at the same time. But you need a technical co-founder. Eventually you’ll get to it — after all, you’re smart and destined for greatness yourself. And your friends all tell you how you should start something someday.

Your 27-year-old CEO calls an ad-hoc all-hands meeting and regales about company culture and how your mission is to “kill email because it’s broken”. He wants to make every enterprise company in the world switch to your product. He’s never worked for an enterprise company, or any other company at all.

The sales team got rowdy the night before. They missed their quota, but it was not their fault — it was implementation’s fault for fucking up a major deal. Also — marketing didn’t send them enough inbound leads for them to hit quota. Maybe next quarter. You trade emails with your college buddies on Gmail about how ridiculous Kevin Durant is for joining the Warriors. You come to realize email is working just fine for you. You feel depressed for a moment. Your summer intern is trying to figure out a Snapchat strategy.

Philz Coffee — photo credt: Rick.

It’s time for that afternoon coffee to keep you going through the day. You head over to Philz with some co-workers. You order a vegan donut and very clearly ask the barista for 3 Splendas. He was clearly a Splenda short, but the line is long and you want to be civil. You are above mentioning something like this to the barista — you let it pass and feel a “micro aggression” bubbling inside.

You have to decide where to go for dinner tonight. You look at Yelp for a place that’s within 1 mile and is rated at least 3.5 stars. But really you’re looking for something 4 stars plus and at least $$$. What will your friends think of you if you pick a place that’s too cheap? But you also don’t want to go $$$$ because that’s too expensive. You have good taste. This comforts you.

You realize your reservation with your spouse at the French Laundry is coming up this weekend. Your calendar app reminds you of this. You’ve been looking forward to it for months. You can’t wait to take perfectly Instagrammed photos of the meal to go along with your perfectly Instagrammed life.

#San Francisco is trending on Twitter. You realize the San Francisco journalism community is angry about something — they are full of rage at the way a homeless person is being treated. The reporters all share photos and videos of the homeless person, but no one talks to him.

It’s time for some afternoon Facebook browsing. Your friends are all doing SO well. You are secretly jealous of your friend who just bought a house in the Noe. You speculate as to how rich they must be after their exit from LinkedIn. Even though they were only employee #500 they must have done well. You briefly try to do the math in your head. Maybe that can be you at your current startup. It’s only a matter of time.

More browsing. One friend was employee #5 at a company that just sold to Twitter. They must have made so much money, you think. You like the status, but you are jealous. Another friend’s kid seems to be more advanced than your kid based on the Vine they just shared of them playing the piano. Damnit, need to be a better parent.

You go to Redfin to see how much they paid for their house.

You briefly daydream about how you once had an opportunity to work at Google pre-IPO. And that you could have joined Facebook right after IPO — and imagine that — the stock price has tripled in a short amount of time. Would that have been the big break you needed?

Your CEO grabs you in a panic and asks you to do a quick analysis for a board member. The board member was base jumping in Mexico and panicked about something related to burn rate and strategy. The CEO’s job is at risk.

Microsoft Excel — photo credit Collin Anderson.

You do the grunt work and analysis, and finish it just in time for him to breathe a sigh of relief and tell you what an “Excel Ninja” you are. Your analysis makes you realize the company maybe should have saved money on office space, and perhaps the rock climbing wall and Segways. You realize your CEO knows nothing about your business.

Your mind briefly drifts off and you think — “is this all really worth it? should I move to Seattle, Austin, or maybe even Florida?” After all there is no state tax and you could live a great quality of life there with an actual house with your beautiful family.

You browse Redfin again. Hmmm. Maybe not Austin — what about something less ambitious like Fremont, Morgan Hill or Milpitas? That wouldn’t solve your commute problems, you think. It would be more affordable though.

Delicious looking cupcakes — photo credit Frederic Bisson.

You know what? If you move to Austin you could somehow get by. After all your spouse is so amazing at baking. She could easily make a living selling her cupcakes — she has so much talent as a cook and you could afford culinary school. Worst case, she also has an amazing knack for craft jewelry. The three pieces she sold on Etsy last month are evidence of that. How talented both of you are.

And hey — if you move to Austin, you can finally build that home with a “Zen minimalist” theme you’ve been dreaming of. You go to Bluhome’s website — their design aesthetic perfectly matches yours. You just need to save the money to make it happen. You browse Pinterest and Houzz for ideas on how to decorate the interior. Is Red or Navy Blue TOO bold of a color? You don’t know. Maybe you should use an on-demand service for that.

You forgot to order groceries and the nanny needs milk for your kid ASAP. She texts you frantically in broken English. Thank goodness for Instacart — you spend $10 in delivery costs, but you need to add a bunch of items to your cart to hit the minimum threshold. You add a few squeezies, some bananas and a few artisan cheeses to hit the mark. You realize you haven’t stepped into a grocery store for months — but don’t worry — your opportunity cost of time is way too high at the moment. Especially if you factor in those stock options.

Almost time for dinner. You are having dinner tonight with the “Chief Hacking Officer” at the company and the “VP of Awesomeness”. You arrive at the restaurant, and they marvel at your taste — nice job surfing Yelp.

Your dinner conversation centers around how autonomous vehicles are going to be better in the long run than ordinary cars for a variety of reasons. And something about how Elon Musk handles meetings. You are all too busy making your own points and citing articles to really listen to each other. You order the $17 dollar Risotto and the $9 glass of Pleasanton-brewed IPA.

On your ride home you find the time to catch up on the Malcolm Gladwell podcast. What an interesting guy he is — he’s so smart and he makes you think about things.

After coming home you briefly use that “7 minute workout” app, which scientists have proven is way more effective than a one-hour cardio workout. You got your exercise in for the day — nice work.

You and your spouse get ready for bed. What’s in your Netflix queue? Well, you have to catch up on “Making a Murderer” since it’s been all over the news lately. And let’s not get too far behind on “Mr. Robot” since it’s so critically acclaimed. For lighter fare, and if you have time, you can always try “Last Week Tonight” — John Oliver always says exactly what you’re thinking in your head — just funnier than you would have said it.

You quietly shuffle to bed, tired from the long, hard day. You check your email, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat one last time before bedtime. You don’t think you’ll have enough energy to check LinkedIn today — and besides — their mobile UI is not very good. Maybe you can start a company that will disrupt LinkedIn? They did just sell for a bunch of money after all.

Your last thought before bed — should you switch to the Android ecosystem? You are on the “S” iPhone replacement cycle and you are getting impatient. But then you realize you are so heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem that it may not make sense.

Vipassana Retreat — photo credit kinnla.

You briefly use mobile Safari to browse for Vipassana retreats — you hear a 10 day retreat in Soquel may be the ticket to shake things up. You realize it’s not going to be possible. You download a meditation app. You turn it off. You don’t have time.

You briefly recall your ride home on the 280 tonight. The sun was setting. It was beautiful. You realize you live in paradise.

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