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COMSTRAT 310 Syllabus - Spring 2017

COMSTRAT 310 - DIGITAL CONTENT PROMOTION (3 CREDITS) Instructor:  Brett Atwood                                Office:  GWH 234        ...

WEEKS 15 & 16: Learning Google Analytics, StatCounter & Web Analytics Tools/Learning Google AdWords/Final Projects & Social Media Marketing Plans

SUMMARY:

For the final weeks of the semester, we will:
  • Learn about website analytics tools (such as Google Analytics and StatCounter) that enable better understanding of site/campaign traffic, referral and behavior patterns.
  • Learn about best practices in building an official Facebook and Google AdSense campaign.
  • Finish our semester-long campaign website and related social media channels.
HOMEWORK:
  • Work on your final exam, due no later than the end of the day on Tuesday, May 2.
  • Continue to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan, due Thursday, April 27.
  • Continue to Facebook and Twitter updates frequently (several times this week) and attempt to build a larger follower/fan count by outreach to friends and family, as well as activity on like-minded social media pages.

Take-Home Exam - Due May 2

The following is your one and only exam for the semester!! Please complete and email me your responses by the end of the day on Tuesday, May 2.

There are only two written response questions on this exam (both valued equally in scoring).

1. For this question, you will first need to identify and select any current web-based advertising or PR promotion for a national brand or organization that uses multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Then, once you've made your selection, give a brief (minimum 3-5 paragraphs) analysis and critique (good or bad) of this campaign. Be sure to cite specific examples, if appropriate, of how the campaign aligns to some of the guidelines and "best practices" cited in class and/or in our lectures.

Please do NOT use an existing example cited on this blog, in class, lecture notes or in the blog.

Things to consider:
  • How effective do you think it is at reaching its intended target audience?
  • Are they engaging in a one-way or two-way conversation? How?
  • How would you characterize the general voice/tone in their messaging?
  • What data might they use to quantitatively or qualitatively determine if the campaign was a success? Are there any publicly-available resources that might tell you how well the campaign is doing? If so, what did you find?
  • Is the campaign optimized for search engine and social media discovery? How?
  • Does the campaign have the potential to go viral? Why or why not?

2. We've talked quite a bit about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and even Social Media Optimization (SMO). Thinking about your semester-long project and website campaign,  please share your thoughts on specific strategies that you used (or should have used) to improve its organic search rankings in Google and other search engines -- as well as your social media presence on Facebook and/or other outlets.
  • How is your campaign site or social media presence doing in organic search on Google? (Does it show up at all?)
  • What, if any, specific techniques and tactics did you use?
  • What other things might you do to help with your search engine optimization and presence?
  • Please provide specific examples that are applicable to your project.
That's it! Please email your responses to your instructor (Brett Atwood at batwood@wsu.edu) no later than the end of the day on Tuesday, May 2.

Social Media Marketing Plan - Semester Assignment

ASSIGNMENT:

Each team will collaborate to create a social media marketing plan for your brand. See info below for more criteria on what should be included. Your completed plan (due Thursday, April 27) should be approximately 5-10 pages (can be longer -- but MINIMUM of five pages).

Examples of Previous Semester Social Media Marketing Plans:

About Social Media Marketing Plans

What should be in your social media marketing plan? The presentation below gives an overview of the key elements, including the following sections and elements:
  • Executive Summary/Overview
  • Social Media Presence
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Target Market
  • Tools & Implementation
  • Monitoring & Tuning
  • Budget & ROI
In addition, your Social Media Marketing Plan should include documentation of the research and planning of your campaign, including:
  • Branding research (logo/name survey results)
  • User Personas
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Wireframe(s)

Twitter Brand Pages, Advertising & Real-Time Web Monitoring Tools

Twitter
Twitter Brand Pages & Advertising Options

Twitter has a new and robust advertising platform that allows organizations to pay for placement in the "trending topics" list as "Promoted Trends" or for prime positioning via "Promoted Tweets." You can also promote your general Twitter account via "Promoted Accounts" ad buys.



In 2014, Twitter rolled out new "enhanced profile pages" that allow for better branding on your page!

Are you ready to set up your own Twitter page for your brand? It's easy! Register your brand username (or any name that is as close to your brand name as possible) and then look for the following options to help customize your Twitter account:
  • Change your Design via Settings > Design
  • Recommended dimensions for the small Profile Photo are 400 x 400
  • Bio should be no more than 160 characters
  • Recommended dimensions for the larger Profile Cover Photo are 1500 x 500  
Learn more about using Twitter for business >>

As part of the new design, Twitter has also introduced some new functionality that might be of interest to marketers.

Best Tweets - The most popular posts (with high engagement) will appear in larger font than other posts. This means that they are more likely to get the attention of your audience.

Pinned Tweets - Similar to the function offered by Facebook, you can now "pin" one of your favorite or more important tweets to the top of your profile. This ensures that your audience will see this tweet in the most prominent spot -- even if there are newer tweets posted.

Filtered Tweets - Now your audience can view a filtered view of your timeline including just photos, videos or tweets with replies.

Some examples of new enhanced profile pages for brands:

Twitter and "Real Time" Brand Sentiment Monitoring

Twitter has quickly emerged as a popular PR tool for the monitoring of "real-time Web" attitudes and behavior among consumers. Twitter limits users to 140 characters for each "tweet," but each entry is indexable and searchable. This means that journalists can quickly get a pulse on news trends and developments across the entire Twitter ecosystem.

 For example, visit search.twitter.com and enter in a popular topic. The results give you valuable insight into what people are saying about that topic! In addition, many companies are using Twitter to communicate and gather feedback directly from their customers.

Here are a few examples of companies amassing large followers on Twitter:

About Hashtags

Chances are pretty good that you are already familiar with the hash tag in social media. In case you aren't, a hash tag (#) is a keyword with the # symbol. It is used to "tag" an event or topic so that Twitter users can "follow" all activity more accurately. For example, #wsu is the hashtag that I would use in search.twitter.com to instantly pull up results for all-things-WSU. If there is a live event, organizers will often assign an official hash tag so that the Internet followers can get accurate "tweet" updates pertaining to that event. There is a centralized list of "official" hash tags at hashtags.org


Other Useful Links:

Landing your First PR or Advertising Job

Looking for a job in PR or Advertising? Getting that first gig can be tough. Here are some resources that may help in your search:
Socially network in the following LinkedIn Groups:
How is your online reputation? Enter your name into CVGadget.com and make sure that there are no "compromising" or negative results!

Research the company before you apply!

Understanding Google Analytics

Would you like to know more about the Web traffic click-through patterns and keyword referrals on your site? Google Analytics is a free Web-based tool that will give you rich data on how people interact with your Web site content.

Visit Google Analytics to learn more.



With Google Analytics, you can even get "real time" reports of what is happening on your website:

REAL TIME REPORTING




In addition, you can track the following type of website activities:

AUDIENCE
 


ACQUISITION



BEHAVIOR



NOTE: For Wix.com accounts, you must upgrade to a paid account with a unique vanity domain name in order to connect Google Analytics tracking to your webpage. A free alternative that does work with Wix.com is StatCounter.

Additional Resources:

There are several online resources that you can help you better understand and analyze the data that you get from the various Web analytics services.


Adding Google Analytics to your Wix site -- and a free alternative option: StatCounter

ADDING GOOGLE ANALYTICS TO WIX

If you have connected a unique domain to your Wix account (which requires an additional fee or subscription), then you have the option of using Google Analytics to measure website activity.

Here is information on how to connect Google Analytics to your Wix site:
https://support.wix.com/en/article/adding-your-google-analytics-code-to-your-site

Please note that you will need to generate a unique tracking code associated with your Google Analytics account. Here is more info:
https://support.wix.com/en/article/retrieving-your-google-analytics-code


STATCOUNTER

StatCounter allows you to track who is visiting your campaign site. By installing StatCounter code into your Wix.com site, you'll be able to see detailed information on your visitors.

To get started, visit http://statcounter.com. Sign up for a free account and then follow the instructions to generate and install tracking code.
NOTE: Upon installation of your tracking code, StatCounter may ask you to verify that the code has been installed correctly. In many cases, it will inform you with this message "Code Not Detected" -- However, if you do continue to the next step, you will typically see that your tracking code is indeed working and that data is being tracked correctly.

Please note that two features of StatCounter are not available with Wix.com. You may not see accurate tracking for page titles and referring information. 



Introduction to Google AdWords

OVERVIEW: WHAT IS GOOGLE ADWORDS VS. GOOGLE ADSENSE?

Many people confuse Google AdWords with a related program called Google AdSense. They are actually not the same thing!


Google AdWords is an advertising service that enables you to create your own ads to appear on relevant Google search results pages, as well as on other AdWords-enabled websites. Thus, companies that want to promote their services would use AdWords to advertise for acquisition of new customers.

Google AdSense is a different program that enables content creators to monetize their sites via displayed ads. So, if you are a content creator or publisher, you would likely want to participate in the AdSense program to make some money!

For this class, we will focus primarily on Google AdWords -- since that is the program most likely to be of use to aspiring professional PR and advertising students.

WHY ADWORDS?

With Google AdWords, you can create ads that are eligible to appear on Google within the search results. Your ads are also eligible to appear on some AdWords partner sites.

Unlike some traditional forms of advertising, you only pay when someone actually clicks on your ad! Thus, your ad will generate lots of impressions - but your ad costs are linked to the "click-through rate" (CTR), which is what ultimately matters in driving traffic to your site.

How do you determine what each ad will cost?

In many cases, you will bid on "keywords" that are matched to the types of search engine queries that people make. There are branded and non-branded searches.

What is the difference between branded and non-branded searches?

BRANDED SEARCHES: If the customer already knows your brand name, they will likely type that into the search engine or they may already know the website address and go directly to your site. If they type your brand name into the search engine, this is known as a "branded search."

A good starting point is to do a general search for your brand on Google. Does your brand show up? If so, how high does it rank? Be aware that people might misspell your brand name -- do typos and variations of your brand also show up prominently?

Branded searches include any searches that originate with an attempt to search for your brand -- including typos and variations.

For example, branded searches for the 3D virtual world Second Life would include "Second Life," "2nd Life," "Second Life game" and even typos (e.g. "Secund Life").

NON-BRANDED SEARCHES: What about searches that happen when people don't already know your brand name? Maybe your potential customers are looking for a type of product or service, but are completely unaware that you even exist! A "non-branded search" encompasses searches for general descriptors and phrases that relate to your brand without actually including your brand name.

For example, popular non-branded searches for Second Life might include "virtual world," "3D virtual game," "avatar game" and "virtual life."

How does Google AdWords work?

Non-branded searches present a huge opportunity to acquire new customers and/or website visitors! You can use Google AdWords to place "bids" on ad placement on searches for both branded and non-branded searches. However, chances are pretty good that other companies are also targeting non-branded searches - so the prices may vary dramatically for your ads based on how in demand your keywords and phrases are. You have lots of options on how to bid and spend your money. You can use AdWords to pay a higher amount for prioritized placement among ads -- or distribute your costs more evenly so that your campaign budget lasts longer.

Here is a video that further summarizes how Google AdWords works:



One thing to note is that Google rewards you for relevancy over the long-term. To deter companies from bidding on popular phrases that have nothing to do with their brand or service, Google will actually factor in the accuracy of your ad copy and keyword bids into its algorithm that determines where your ad is placed. Thus, you don't want to "spam" or "bait and switch" potential customers with ads that are irrelevant to their searches.

Will my ads only be displayed on the search results pages on Google?

Not necessarily. You have the option to place an ad only on Google's search pages and/or the Display Network of partner sites. If you choose to include the Display Network, your ad can appear across the Internet on numerous sites that match the theme or topic of your campaign. These ads can include images, interactivity and even video.



For Display Ads, you can either import in your compliant ad or build a new Display Ad right inside the Google AdWords Display Ads tool. Click the image below to see a screenshot of what the Display Ad builder looks like.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8xuvg1bmloaexwx/Display-Ad-Builder.jpg
























How do I get started with AdWords?

Looking to get started using Google AdWords?

Sign up for your free account. Although you don't necessarily need this for class, here is a link for a free $75 (when you spend $25) in starter advertising for first-time Google AdWords users.

Once you are logged in, you can start to write your ad copy and then use the ad creation tool to identify the keywords that you want to bid on. You can also target your ad for placement in particular geographic regions and other variables.


How Do You Measure Success in Google AdWords?



Here are some additional links and resources:
Other Useful Tools:
  • Go to these various AdWords tools to see several free utilities that can help you shape your ad
    • Use the Display Planner to help research your competition and to shape your online ad buying strategy
    • Use the Keyword Planner to find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them to find the bid and budget that are right for you, and then add them to your campaign.
    • To preview what ads are already displaying for a particular keyword, use the Ad Preview Tool

WEEKS 13 & 14: Building Twitter Pages/Learning Google AdWords & Facebook Ads/Design & Campaign Considerations for Mobile & Tablet Platforms

SUMMARY:

For these weeks, we will:
  • Create official Facebook and Twitter campaign accounts for your brand (if you have not done so already)
  • Learn about best practices in building an official Facebook and Google AdWords campaign.
  • Learn about "responsive" design and how to optimize your campaign website for mobile smartphones.
HOMEWORK:
  • Continue to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan, due Thursday, April 27.
  • Start posting Facebook and Twitter updates frequently (several times a week) and attempt to build a larger follower/fan count by outreach to friends and family, as well as activity on like-minded social media pages. 
    • You should try to have at least 30 Facebook followers by the end of the semester.
    • You should try to have at least 10 Facebook and Twitter posts by the end of the semester.
  • Optimize your Wix-created website for mobile devices using the mobile editor built into the Wix.com edit tool. Your final campaign site will be evaluated for how it appears on both desktop and mobile devices beginning Thursday, April 27. 
  • Begin the take-home final exam, due no later than the end of the day on Tuesday, May 2.

Facebook Insights

Facebook Insights allow any admin of an official Facebook page to learn more about fans and followers including demographics and engagement patterns.

The social media giant recently overhauled and expanded this important metrics platform to include richer and enhanced data streams that provide better insight to your Facebook followers.



Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is an influential Web ad service that enables you to target specific audiences inside the popular social network. The video below shows the power of targeted messaging through the Facebook Ads platform.



CASE STUDIES FOR FACEBOOK ADS

Facebook has a page filled with case studies that you can explore to see how both small and large companies are using the Facebook Ads platform to expand their reach and build their business.
Here are some video tutorials that walk you through the basics of creating a Facebook ad and then identifying your target audience and budget in the Facebook Ads creation tool.

Creating your ad 

 

Defining your target audience and budget 



Facebook Advertising can be displayed as a traditional ad on the right hand side of the news feed or in the news feed itself.
  • News Feed
    • These ads will appear in the center of the news feed along posts from friends and followed pages. This "native ad" blends in seamlessly with the general news feed content. You can even pay for placement of a recent Facebook post so that it appears in the news feed for targeted recipients -- even if they don't yet "like" your page.
  • Right Side Column
    • These ads appear on the righthand column adjacent to your news feed. The size of these ads is considerably smaller than a News Feed ad.
Read the full FAQ for more info on these and other options. (Note: An alternate FAQ is also available for some Facebook users that may have a different Facebook Ads interface).

Related Links:
THE DOWNSIDE OF FACEBOOK ADVERTISING?

There is some debate about the effectiveness of Facebook Advertising. This video shows one ex-advertiser's experience with "Facebook fraud" and fake Like followers after a recent campaign:


Best Practices in Facebook Page Management

Facebook has an official guide to Best Practices with some great tips. However, here are even more best practices in communicating with your followers on Facebook:
  1. Be conversational in your voice/tone with your followers. In many cases, it is best to use a casual tone that people can relate to. While it is important to stay "on message" and not offer personal and polarizing opinions, many social media managers infuse humor and personality into their posts to capture the attention of their followers.
  2. Ask questions to inspire conversations. When you ask a question of your followers, you are likely to inspire engagement with you on Facebook. Be sure to answer back and/or respond to any conversation that unfolds!
  3. Respond to Facebook comments, when appropriate. Many companies make the mistake of using Facebook as a one-way channel to deliver company news and updates. However, these organizations are missing the point of Facebook -- it is a media outlet that is best suited for social conversations that are not one-sided! Don't be afraid to respond to your followers. Most will appreciate that you acknowledge their opinions. 
  4. Don't feed the trolls! Some conversations can lead into a never-ending cycle of negativity. If the exchange is less about intelligent conversation and more like a rant, it might be best to be reserved in how (and if) you respond. In extreme cases, companies will block or ban followers that are not willing to engage in reasonable conversation.
  5. Share photos and videos. Visual media is more likely to grab the attention of your followers than simple text. This also means that you should consider changing out your Timeline cover photo often, as well. It also means that you should pay closer attention to the thumbnails that are generated when you link to other content.
  6. Consider exclusive content. Is there any insider information that you can reward your loyal followers with? Inspire more loyalty among your fans and followers with exclusive extras, insider tips and tricks and/or behind-the-scenes photos.
  7. Use post targeting. Some updates are only likely to appeal to a portion of your followers. For example, a particular post might only be aimed at customers in a particular geographic region. If so, you can use the "Add Targeting" option to limit who sees your latest post.
  8. Post useful info - not spam! Don't "hard sell" your followers -- they will likely view any blatant commercial posts as "spam" (which can lead to a decline in "likes" of your page). Consider your readers and what they will find interesting and/or useful. Many organizations use Facebook to establish credibility and authenticity with their fans. For example, a restaurant might post interesting recipes or food preparation tips. These posts might occasionally be accompanied with a gentle nudge to readers about your services -- but it is never a blatant commercial plug.
  9. Don't post more than two times a day. For commercial products, less is more. If you post too often, you run the risk of being perceived as spam. However, media and news properties are different. If your brand is centered around the idea of delivering news and/or information, then these non-commercial updates are more likely to be welcomed and perceived as useful to your audience. For example, CNN posts breaking news several times a day -- all of which is expected by those followers. 
  10. Use the "pin" and "star" features. You can now "pin" a post to the top of your Timeline for up to 7 days Use the "star" feature on any post to expand its width to two columns
  11. BONUS TIP: Use the call-to-action button, if appropriate. Facebook recently introduced a new call-to-action button that you can add to the top of your page. This enables visitors to click through to complete an action. Options include "Book Now," "Contact Us," "Use App," "Play Game," "Shop Now," "Sign Up," and "Watch Video."
There are numerous other tips to consider, too. Take a look at these articles from various social media experts about best practices in Facebook engagement:

Optimizing your Campaign Site for Mobile Smartphones

How does your campaign site look on a mobile device or smartphone?

One should always think about how their site appears on multiple types of screens. A mobile device has smaller screen real estate than a full-sized computer monitor associated with a desktop computer. Given the rise of smartphones, some people even have a "mobile first" strategy where mobile is prioritized over desktop access in the design choices. One new option is a "responsive" design:



Related Link:
Did you know that your existing Wix.com website content can be modified slightly so that it displays more correctly on mobile devices? Watch this video to learn how:



Related Links:

WEEKS 10, 11 & 12: SEO Basics and Social Media Marketing Plans

SUMMARY:

Over the next three weeks, we will:
  • Continue to work on our primary Wix-based campaign website
  • Learn ways to improve search engine rankings of content for our media campaigns via Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Learn about social media marketing plans and begin work on the creation of one with the goal of driving traffic and awareness to our campaign website.
HOMEWORK:
  • Begin to work on your Social Media Marketing Plan (final version due near the end of the semester)
  • Continue to work on and revise your campaign website, including modifications to help optimize your content for search engine indexing and rankings.
  • Each team should run an audit on their site, when it is ready using the Wix SEO Wiz tool.

What should be in your social media marketing plan?

Your final social media marketing plan should include the following sections and elements:
  • Executive Summary/Overview
  • Social Media Presence
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Target Market
  • Tools & Implementation
  • Monitoring & Tuning
  • Budget & ROI
In addition, your Social Media Marketing Plan should include documentation of the research and planning of your campaign, including:
  • Branding research (logo/name survey results)
  • User Personas
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Wireframe(s)