Facebook Algorithm Change = Death of Memes?

A few days ago, Facebook made some additional changes to its algorithm. Here are the changes summarized below:

  • Posts to popular articles and other content will show up more than images.
  • Text posts reach a larger audience than image posts do.

We’ve seen the changes affecting the reach of our posts over the last few days:


Our average reach was ~50, but over the last 3 days, the highest reach for one of our posts was only 22.

What does this mean? Well first, forget trying to get engagement through memes. Facebook is becoming inundated with meme images and it’s clear the social network is looking to shift towards a place to get high-quality content rather than a meme farm.

Second, this change coupled with the recent “story bump” update means content aggregators will be rewarded for posting highly engaging content. This means you’ll probably see a lot more articles from large publications like the New York Times and high-traffic blogs like Mashable.

It seems that, in an effort to compete with other quickly growing social networks like reddit and to get users to stay on the platform, Facebook is trying to become a network that people go to for high-quality news and content. Also, in an effort to become a valuable company in the eyes of shareholders, they are pushing smaller content creators to pay for sponsored posts and ads, since less trafficked blogs don’t tend to get as much engagement as larger publications.

If Facebook is a channel that you use in your marketing plan, consider these changes and test the effect your metrics.  Will the greater reach of text posts help your click-through rate, or will the lack of an image cause people to skim over your post even though it reaches more people?


Google+ Part III: If Content is King, on G+ it’s God.

In part II of the Google+ series, we illustrated the effects of certain engagement tactics on our follower and +1 count. More specifically, we:

  • Posted quality content to communities related to social media (~2-3/day).
  • Re-shared posts from other users (3-5/day).
  • Constructed quality comments on discussion topics within communities (~5/day).

We found that using these tactics did, in fact, increase engagement on our content and in addition to overall +1 and follower count.

For this week, we tried taking a couple more tactics suggested by G+ power users and testing their efficacy. Once again, using SumAll to record stats, this was the result:

Follower count: 55 -> 68

+1 count: 188 -> 301

The blue line indicates our followers, the purple line indicates our publishing activity which is all the content we share and reshare, and the orange line indicates our advocacy activity which is the +1’s, comments, and shares we get on our content.

The first thing you’ll notice about the graph is that our advocacy activity was consistently higher than our publishing activity on most days.  Basically, this means that we received more engagement (+1, share, comments), while posting less. In the second part of the series, we actually posted more, but received much less engagement (more on this in the conclusion).

The other thing to note here is that our +1 count grew at a much quicker rate than the previous week, and our follower count grew at about the same rate.

How We Did It

We were able to maintain steady growth of our follower and +1 count by employing these additional tactics:

  • Taking all posts and turning them into a longer form post:



  • Utilized “Ripples” to track spread of content and engage with influencers.

Conclusions & Key Takeaways

  • We received higher engagement per post due to the content we were posting. The post linked above was shared (posted on 2 communities) over 12 times and +1’d 20 times while other posts with significantly less copy and a colorful image got zero shares and +1’sSimply put, quantity does not equal engagement. Some tips on creating engaging content on Google+:
    • Take all posts and turn them into longer format posts. This means actually reading the articles you’re posting and summarizing them or drawing unique conclusions (click here for an example).
    • When creating a post, remember that the first 160 characters are the ones that show after creation. If the reader wants to read on, they must click the “read more” option on the post. So make sure you use a catchy title and tell readers what the post is about in the beginning.
    • Make sure you’re teaching your audience something or showing them something unique. This is how you share less, but get more engagement.
  • The “Ripples” feature found on each individual post’s options is a powerful tool to measure the spread of a piece of content and to find influencers within your field.  We used it to circle those who consistently reshared content and to thank those who reshared. Doing this led to direct “follow-backs.”
  • Communities are places to learn and share content with others in your field. Posting basic tips that everyone already knows will get your post removed, as in the case of this Pinterest tips post:
  • We are getting a lot more engagement on communities than our actual G+ page. This tells us that communities are where people are spending most of their time, not the “stream” (similar to Facebook’s news feed).

In short, we proved that content is key to increased engagement, and that Google+ operates on a different plane than the other social platforms.  If you follow the tips here and that in Part II, we can guarantee that you’ll see a significant increase in engagement like we have.

In Part IV, we’ll test the effect of using images in our posts. Remember, you can track our progress by following us on Google+!

Google+ Part II: If it’s a ghost town, why is there so much noise?

We’ve all heard it, before: “Don’t bother with Google+, it’s a ghost town,” “No one uses it, why should we spend time on there?” And this is the advice given by so called “social media professionals” and “experts.” It’s sad because given their “expert” and “guru” status, they really don’t know anything about one of the fastest growing social networks.  All they know is that “it’s great for SEO purposes” so they simply repurpose Facebook posts onto Google+ without actually knowing how the SEO benefits actually work.

In an effort to shed some light on how to properly use the platform, we conducted a small experiment to illustrate how busy the social network actually is. As stated in Part I of the Google+ series, engagement is the key to SEO benefits, so we followed the advice of thought leaders like Mark Traphagen, and increased our +1 count from 101 to 188, and our follower count from 38 to 55 in 5 days.

How We Did It

With the use of the free analytics platform SumAll, we kept track of the before and after effects of our efforts. Here is what our engagement looked like before implementing specific engagement tactics:

The blue line indicates our followers, the purple line indicates our publishing activity which is all the content we share and reshare, and the orange line indicates our advocacy activity which is the +1’s, comments, and shares we get on our content.

As you can see, there was little to no activity. Now, look at the graph after implementing specific engagement tactics:

Clearly there is a marked difference between the two graphs. Here’s what we did:

  • Posted quality content to communities related to social media (~2-3/day; this tactic had the most direct effect on overall advocacy).
  • Re-shared posts from other users (3-5/day).
  • Constructed quality comments on discussion topics within communities (~5/day).



The large dip that you see in the middle was due to us not engaging at all to see if the relationship between publishing and advocacy activity was more correlative than causative. We came to the conclusion that publishing activity and advocacy activity are indeed causative, thus boosting followers due to higher engagement. BUT! This does not mean you should spam! This simply means that the sole activity of publishing content will drive engagement. Spamming will certainly lose you followers and get you banned from communities.

However, we also noticed that the type of content posted might play a factor in terms of advocacy.  Anytime we posted a piece of content and wrote an explanatory post accompanying it, we seemed to get higher engagement – in other words treating Google+ almost like a “mini-blog.”

To improve engagement, we also found that participation in communities is key because that’s where all the people are conversing. Whenever we just posted content to our page, we didn’t get much engagement, but posting to communities put a lot more eyeballs on our content, leading to shares and +1’s. Just take note that most communities are heavily moderated and you will be punished for ruthless self-promotion and nonsense. Remember, the goal is to share quality content. Engagement is just a consequence of doing so.

We are starting to see that Google+ is truly a content driven platform that’s fueled by the people and their engagement, even more so than Facebook or Twitter.  We will continue to use these tactics while employing others such as mini-blog post style content, and utilizing Ripples.  We predict our follower count to increase exponentially due to the additional engagement tactics we will employ.  Be sure to follow us on Google+ and track our progress!

Google+ Part I: Why You Should Be Using Google+

When it comes to social networks for business, everyone thinks of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but people seem to forget about Google+. It could be because the activity level on Google+ isn’t as high as the other social networks, or it could be because people don’t really know how to use it properly. The fact is, it’s absolutely foolish to ignore Google+, especially because the most used search engine in the world owns it.

There are undeniable search engine optimization benefits from using it. If you own a Google+ profile (which most Google searchers do) and have personalized search on, you will see posts ranked within the search results pages.


Even if you don’t own a profile or have personalized search off, you can still see Google+ posts in search results.


There has been a shift towards social search over the past few months in Google’s algorithm. The only way to take advantage of this is to create a Google+ profile and become active on it.

So how does it work? 

Being a content-centric platform, it is extremely important to create quality, shareable posts.  Other than the obvious, these are some facts that differentiate Google+ from the rest of the social networks:

  • Each profile is similar to a website. A profile can gain PageRank as backlinks and engagement increase.
  • Each post is similar to a page within a website and can be linked to individually. Posts that you want to rank should target keywords that you want to rank for.
  • Links posted on other social networks are not crawled by Google, thus no link authority back to the linked site. Links posted within Google+’s “featured link field” (NOT the body), are crawled by Google, so link authority transfers back to the linked site.

Reading the above, you can see how powerful the platform can be, if used properly. Here is a great resource if you want to learn all you can about Google+:

Truthfully, our Google+ presence is somewhat lacking and we need to boost our follower count and engagement. In Part II, we will be illustrating the efficacy of some of the tips and techniques illustrated by the “power users” (i.e., Mark Traphagen), and how exactly you go about executing these tips by using them right on our own page.

Follow us on Google+ and track our progress!

3 Free/Cheap Social Media Tools You Should Be Using

As an online reputation and social media manager, I’m always looking for cheap/free social media tools to help create content and keep track of my social platforms. I recently came across three different tools that are sure to help any social media professional make their life easier. They are Animoto,, and Followerwonk.


Animoto is a social media tool that lets you create truly engaging video content.

Here’s an example of the type of content you can create:

This was done with the “plus” version (which cost us a paltry $30/year) and let’s us create videos up to 10 minutes in length, choose from up to 44 different styles, access to over 300 music tracks, and the ability to download the video. There is also a “lite” version that is free, but video length is only 30 seconds and you can only choose from a limited number of styles.

The best part of this tool is that it’s SO easy to use. You can include images, text, and even other video into your Animoto clip. It’s a simple matter of uploading and rearranging the order you want the content to come up.

My one sticking point with this tool is there isn’t enough customization.  Although the “pro” version lets you create unbranded (no Animoto logo at the end) videos up to 20 minutes with multiple songs, users should be able to do more, like change colors and how the video unfolds from one piece of content to the next.

Despite limited customization, this is an incredible tool for brands to take advantage of.

Infographics are some of the most engaging pieces of content you can create for your brand. They offer a wealth of information, while being easy to digest. To create truly stunning infographics, you’re going to need a designer, but sometimes you won’t have the skills or the cash to make one. That’s where comes into play.

Here’s an infographic we made for the Westchester Digital Summit using this free tool:

Aside from being free, what’s cool about this social media tool is there are a ton of different chart types you can use, as well as multiple infographic styles. Chart types range from simple bar graphs to pictorials and financial charts, and you can even upload Excel data. You can also add text, images, and video to your infographics. also has a “pro” option that costs $18/month (or $180/year), however I only recommend it if you plan on distributing the infographic onto a website, email, ebook, etc. This is because you won’t be able to download/embed your infographic otherwise. The pro version also comes with 4 other design themes, allows password protection for infographics you create, and the ability to privately share the infographic with a non-public URL.

As great of a free tool as is, it really falls flat with its “pro” features. It lacks any true customization – you can’t change the colors of the infographic template, and the charts themselves lack dynamism. Sure you can change the colors of the charts, but paying users should be able to adjust the size of different aspects of the charts (for example, changing the width of the bars on the bar graph).

If you don’t plan on downloading the infographic, I highly suggest sticking with the free version because you’ll still be able to share the graphic onto your social places (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest). There simply aren’t enough options available for paying users to be worth the money, but it is certainly very robust for a free tool.


Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics tool created by Moz (formerly SEOMoz).  Moz is known for its great SEO tools and is an industry leader in Internet marketing. Followerwonk is one of the most robust Twitter analytics tools on the market today. From the free version alone, you can search twitter bios (i.e., highest Social Authority, journalists, SEO, CEOs, most followers etc.), compare users, and analyze a user’s followers or the people a user is following.

Through the “analyze followers” function alone, you can get a world map of your users by region, active hours of your followers or those you’re following, Social Authority score of followers, gender of followers, keywords used by followers, frequency of @mentions used by followers, % of retweets by followers, % of retweets with URLs of followers, language, total tweets of followers…the list goes on.

For Silverback Social’s twitter, our followers are most active at around 5:00 pm ET.

Breakdown of Silverback Social’s followers via Social Authority. We use this graph to determine who to tweet at and who to follow.

This breakdown of keywords tells us what type of content we should be broadcasting to our followers.

I regularly use this social media tool to manage the social content Silverback Social produces on Twitter so we can tailor our content to get the highest engagement possible. I also use it to analyze our followers’ accounts to see whom else we can engage with in our field.  In terms of finding new engagement opportunities, Followerwonk really makes it easy to pick and choose the right accounts to follow instead of bloating our following number with low quality accounts (i.e., low # of tweets, low social authority).

The search query we used was “social media” and Followerwonk gave us a list of Twitter accounts related to the query.

The PRO version comes chock full of other features. There’s too many for me to write all of them here, but here’s a screen of what else they offer for paying members:

The only downside to Followerwonk is that it comes at a fairly pricy $99/month. However, they do offer a free 30-day trial, which is more than enough time to decide if this tool is good for your needs.  Also, you must be comfortable with looking at graphs and numbers to use the tool to its fullest potential. There is no single way to use it because everyone has different goals and everyone weighs metrics differently according to their goals. If you are serious about utilizing Twitter for your business, I can’t recommend this tool enough.

Have you used any of the tools above? What are your thoughts on them? What tools do YOU recommend?


6 Things You Must Know When Marketing on Reddit

Trying to market a product or spread brand awareness on a site like Reddit can be difficult. However, it can also be extremely rewarding – as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Marketing on Reddit is tough simply because most of the community ignores blatant marketing attempts.  In fact, overt advertising tends to get serious backlash from the community, regardless of whether or not it’s warranted. reddit

So is marketing on Reddit worth it? Of course, but keep these 6 things in mind when launching a Reddit campaign.

1.    Add value to the community. What redditors dislike more than reposts, are spam posts that add little to no value. At least when someone reposts something, it was popular and those who didn’t get to catch it the first time get to catch it now. Don’t just hawk your product or promotion – engage in discussions and share finds or knowledge with fellow members. They’ll appreciate it.

2.    Plug your business/product only when it makes sense. After you’ve built a bit of a reputation, feel free to plug your business if you feel it can benefit the community. Don’t be afraid to even admit to everyone that it is a “shameless plug” as long as you feel the community can benefit from your product or services. They will even thank you for the help, but only if you have built up a positive presence.

3.    Answer early or answer uniquely.  As you already know, the Reddit community appreciates quality posts.  This applies to comment responses as well. Keep an eye out for threads where you can share your knowledge and help others with their problems. If you answer early, you’re bound to get a few upvotes, which will increase the visibility of your response as well as improve your reputation. However, there are times when you are beat to the punch, but this doesn’t mean you still can’t help – see if you can contribute by touching upon a different aspect of the problem. Unique responses tend to get a lot of upvotes as well.

4.    Stay relevant to your niche/field. When using Reddit for marketing or business purposes, try to stay within your niche/field. Remember, you’re trying to build a reputation with others in your community so posting a funny cat meme won’t really do that for you. Try to aim for credibility over upvotes because people can look at your entire comment history. If they see non-relevant submissions and comments, they won’t take your advice seriously.

5.    Submit unique content. Reddit loves quality, unique content. Sharing quality finds is great, but if that’s all you’re submitting, you won’t be seen as an authority in the field. Nothing will increase your reputation quicker than producing your own unique, quality content. Some ideas are infographics, mini-case studies from your own personal experience, experiments conducted on your own, or blog posts that give insight to something new or unknown (for example, creating a list of things to keep in mind when trying to market on a lesser-known, extremely popular social platform!)

6.    Don’t be afraid to debate, but be polite. There will be times when people won’t agree with you or what you’re saying. In fact, sometimes people will be downright rude for no apparent reason. If you strongly believe in what you’re posting, don’t be afraid to push back, but remember to remain cordial. Although everyone else might be anonymous, you are acting as a public face for your business/brand. Debate your point intelligently and others will upvote your responses – debate your point childishly, and be prepared to kiss your campaign goodbye.

Keeping these 6 things in mind will help your Reddit campaign be as successful as can possibly be. If you’re willing to put forth the effort, Reddit can offer huge gains in traffic and word-of-mouth exposure!

What do you think? Do you use Reddit often? Or do you think it’s a waste of time?




What Everyone Ought to Know About Reddit

When people hear the term “social media” typically, they think of the major social networking platforms (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.). However, there is one rapidly rising, highly influential social media platform that, although well known, is underutilized and often misunderstood – Reddit. All those cat memes you love? They started on Reddit. In fact, a lot of viral content on the Internet stems this site.

Reddit is a “social bookmarking” site where anonymous users can post interesting links, discussions, images, etc. and other users can vote them up or down. The voting feature essentially makes this website a user-regulated forum where spam and poor quality submissions get sent to the void and the submitter gets publicly shamed.

To illustrate the power of Reddit, view these traffic analytics graph and traffic stats images below of Maneesh Sethi’s blog after a link to his site was placed in the comments of a link submission:


These numbers resulted from a viral blog post on Maneesh where he hired someone on Craigslist to slap him when the Internet distracted him.


Numbers don’t lie – Reddit is no joke.  There are a number of celebrities that have accounts there including, but not limited to, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Snoop Dogg. Even President Obama understands how influential this website is.


However, Reddit is truly a double-edged sword. For example, read this article on the Woody Harrelson AMA (ask me anything) disaster where the actor was clearly using Reddit as a place to promote his new movie “Rampart.” The “redditors” didn’t like this so much and decided to make “Scumbag Woody Harrelson” memes (a variation of the “Scumbag Steve” meme):


You don’t want people making memes like this about your brand? Don’t shove your product down their throats.

 See for yourself how impactful Reddit is on your online reputation:

We manage online reputation at Silverback Social for our clients, so we regularly engage with users on Reddit who seek help with social media by offering real, actionable tips and advice. In return, they are openly responsive to the links I post to Silverback’s blog and have given me great feedback on the content we produce.

Reddit is a community of people and they expect to be treated as such – not sheep that’ll blindly accept being advertised to. It’s about give and take — once you, as a brand, truly understand this concept, you can utilize sites like Reddit to their fullest potential.

Have you participated in the Reddit community?  Let us know about in the comments below.



Online Reputation Management: How Important is Your Online Reputation?

What is “online reputation management” (or ORM)? It’s exactly as the name reads – it’s the art/science/process/etc. of managing your online reputation.

Since the advent of the Internet, there has been an ever-increasing demand for ORM services, especially in the present day with the prolific use of social media.  One joke gone awry, one spur of the moment controversial opinion is usually all it takes to tarnish one’s reputation. Whatever is posted on the Internet, generally, stays on the Internet – forever.

So, let’s say you own a business, and for some reason a customer gets upset, but instead of letting you know he/she decides to write a scathing blog post about your business. Unfortunately for you, this blogger is fairly well known and respected within the industry.  Thus the post crosses the screens of hundreds (or thousands) of people. Due to the post’s popularity, it begins to rank in Google for your business name. So now, whenever anyone does a search for your business in Google, one of the top results will be this negative blog post.

Why is this significant? In today’s digital/mobile age, everyone is connected to the Internet at all times. More people than ever are using the Internet to get information on everything from general trivia to reviews on businesses.  In fact, in 2011, 77.86% of people in the United States (src: Wikipedia) have some kind of Internet subscription, and that number is increasing. So, chances are, people WILL see that negative blog post written about your business.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done regarding outsiders writing negative content on your business (or name). Remember, once someone posts something on the Internet, the content stays there forever. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate any negativity related to your business/name.

  1.  First, set up web alerts. Set up Google Alerts for your business name and any other relevant terms that are related.  Also, in today’s social world, it’s not a bad idea to set up alerts for social media as well through a website like  Now anytime your name pops up on the Internet, you will get an email in your inbox. From here, it is your responsibility to respond to any negative feedback, with positivity that’ll leave that person feeling content.
  2.  Second, set up social media pages. Regardless of your opinion on social media, millions of people are on Facebook, Twitter, etc. every day. These pages can also serve as a hub for your customers so they can send complaints directly to you rather than through a blog or on a review site like Yelp. Be sure to stay active on these pages – people don’t appreciate their complaints/questions going unheard. I’m not going to lie; managing your social media will take a lot of time, but if you don’t have time, hire someone else to manage it. Not only are you able to have a direct, open line of communication with your customers, your social pages will rank in Google for your business name. Having a presence on social is too important to ignore, and is absolutely vital to managing your online reputation. The Internet is gearing towards social; so don’t get left by the wayside.
  3. Third, learn search engine optimization (SEO). Or hire someone to do your SEO. For the newbies, SEO is the “science” or “art” of influencing the major search engines (i.e., Google) to show results you want for certain search terms. Think of it as marketing without actually marketing. Remember that bad blog post about your business that keeps showing up in Google? SEO can get rid of that blog post by pushing positive content up and burying the negative content to the 3rd, 4th, or 5th, pages – a.k.a. the “Google void”.

Managing your online reputation is really just like managing your real-life reputation. You have to be wary of how you speak to/handle people who you had contact with. The Internet world works differently than the real world, but both tie into each other as more and more people around the planet join the online community.

The Inaugural Westchester Digital Summit Through the Eyes of Silverback Social’s Online Reputation Manager Alex Yae

The Westchester Digital Summit  was truly an enlightening and unrivaled opportunity. Coming from a self-taught digital marketing background, I knew there was a lot to learn from the speakers.  Although I spent a lot of time running around making sure all the breakout sessions were running smoothly, I was able to catch interesting bits and pieces from some of the speakers.

Specifically, Dan Merritts  taught me how important context was in advertisements. Chances are, no one is going to click on an advertisement for a violent video game when they are browsing a website related to baby products. In fact, this might anger the viewers and can lead to some serious backlash.

The other speaker that I felt was most compelling was the keynote speaker, Gary Vaynerchuk.  Aside from being extremely engaging, Gary taught me how to look at social media from a business mindset versus a consumer mindset. Businesses who use social media should be focused on providing great content and value to their consumers, who are looking to absorb content and seek value.