Social Media 101 – The Basics

There’s no doubt that social media is an important aspect of many people’s personal lives. Over the past few years, however, more and more people have begun using social media from a business standpoint: marketing a new product, booking performances or presentations, or just expanding their online network. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool, not only for promoting yourself or your brand, but also for listening, gauging the sentiment of your followers, and facilitating conversations with potential new customers. While some businesses have been using social as a part of their marketing process for a number of years, there are plenty of others who are just discovering the power of social media. If you’re new to the social media marketing game, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

The best way to begin is with the fundamentals. Want to find out the best time to post on Facebook? Wondering how to effectively use Google+? Need to know the optimal character count for a Tweet?

Here’s a taste of the basics:


Want to learn more about how to use social media to your advantage? Download the full version for free: Social Media 101 – The Basics

Did you find this guide useful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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!

6 Steps to an Award Winning Google+ Page

A Google+ Case Study: Silverback Social & The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

We’re thrilled to announce that our work on behalf of one of our premier client partners, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was featured in Google’s “Google+ Best Practices for Nonprofits” guide, found here.

Google+ is a unique social network that is owned by the largest and most used search engine in the world Google (searchengineland).  Because of this, it’s an absolute must to have a strong presence if you want SEO benefits. Luckily, it’s rather simple to gain a presence.

Here’s The Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies’ Google+ page before we started working on it:

Here’s  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society page now:



Here are five steps to make your Google+ page better:

1. Custom Header Image: The first step for us was to brand The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society page by creating a custom header photo rather than using the default image.  The importance of a custom header is to give the user a snapshot of what the page is about without even having to read any of our posts or content. It also helps highlight the page’s legitimacy as The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

2. Post Constantly: In order to gain a following on Google+, it’s important to consistently post the right content. For The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, we post everyday, even on weekends, and sometimes twice a day. Frequent and consistent posts help spread our reach because our content will always be right in front of our audience, encouraging shares.

3. Post Relevant Content: The right content should be relevant to your brand or business. For LLS, we post content that is relevant to blood cancer. Here’s an example of a post we created for BCAM (blood cancer awareness month):

4.Diversify Your Posts: For the month of September, this was one of our most shared and +1’d posts.  The image makes it easy to process, and the content is relevant to the time and audience. Another thing to mention is that we like to diversify our content to keep our page fresh and unique.  So instead of posting captioned images all the time, we’ll throw in links to videos, articles, donation pages, etc.:

5.Tag Appropriate Content: Any posts on Google+ should be appropriately tagged and hashtagged:


Users, brands, and companies will get a notification anytime they are tagged in a post. When tagging +Loren Brill in the post above, we were looking to get her to see that she was tagged and then sharing it with her circles. The above post is hashtagged #LLS so that whenever a user happens to come across the hashtag, they’ll be able to see all of our posts. Proper hashtagging is especially important on Google+ now that you can search for #keywords on Google search (searchenginewatch).

6. Be Responsive: Just like other social platforms, it’s important to communicate and respond to followers’ comments and questions:

Consistent and timely engagement shows users that we’re listening and that our Google+ profile isn’t just for pushing our own content. This ensures that users remain followers rather than unfollowing due to lack to activity.

We execute a similar strategy for all of our clients on Google+ and we are able to increase our “following” number at a steady rate.

To view the “Best Practices for Nonprofits” guide, follow the link here:

Have we missed anything? What tips and tricks can you offer that you’ve seen work on Google+? Comment below.