Posts By: Curator
Smart marketers…understand that SEO is a process – not a one-time event.
Want to dominate search results? Get ranked higher? Generate more traffic to your website? What business doesn’t! After all, 94% of buyers conduct online research, and 77% use Google search.
If you don’t dominate SEO, you’re losing business.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that SEO doesn’t last forever. Search engines continually update the methodology by which they determine rank, responding to behavioral and technical shifts online.
For example, the explosion of mobile devices has led Google to more heavily weight factors like site-load speed and responsive design. And with more people using voice input (e.g., Siri, Cortana) for search, keyword strings are getting longer – which may impact the terms you need to rank well for.
Honestly, these are just a few of the myriad reasons you can’t take a “set it and forget it” approach to search engine optimization. If SEO is continually evolving, how can you stay dialed in – and rank above your competitors?
At BARQAR, we use a strategic, 6-step approach to ensure you stay on target:
- Defining SEO goals.
Search engine optimization is about driving a LOT of targeted traffic to your website—not just ranking well for one search term. We identify your real business goals and build an SEO plan that works.
- SEO competition analysis.
We analyze your current SEO efforts and look at competitors’ SEO as well. Using this information, we identify areas in which you can excel.
- SEO keyword research.
We use a collection of advanced research tools to analyze keyword search volume and competition. Combining specific geographic and industry research, we pinpoint the exact SEO keywords and phrases to drive the right traffic to your website.
- On-page search engine optimization.
Our SEO copywriters and programming team search-optimizes the copy and code on your website to capture the attention of search engines and drive more SEO results for your company.
- Search engine submissions.
Robots.txt setup, canonical URLs, xml sitemap submissions…we understand the technical aspects of SEO that dramatically impact your rankings. All you need to know is that we make sure Google, Bing and Yahoo crawl your website, so you rank higher – and get more targeted search traffic!
- Reporting and analytics.
As we’ve said, SEO isn’t a one-time project; it’s an ongoing process. After your SEO plan is initiated, we provide reporting to gauge success and identify areas for further SEO improvement. We also offer ongoing content writing services to turn your website into a true SEO machine!
For most of our clients, search engine traffic accounts for a huge percentage of overall website traffic. So, not surprisingly, businesses that take a strategic, ongoing approach to SEO get traffic from people searching for the exact services they offer.
Need to overhaul your SEO? Have questions? Want additional guidance?
Let BARQAR’s Buffalo SEO experts conduct a free audit of your SEO strategy. We’ll review what you’re doing right and provide practical suggestions for improving your search rankings and driving more qualified leads.
Get your free SEO audit from BARQAR.
Posted by randfish
Snippets and meta descriptions have brand-new character limits, and it’s a big change for Google and SEOs alike. Learn about what’s new, when it changed, and what it all means for SEO in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about Google’s big change to the snippet length.
This is the display length of the snippet for any given result in the search results that Google provides. This is on both mobile and desktop. It sort of impacts the meta description, which is how many snippets are written. They’re taken from the meta description tag of the web page. Google essentially said just last week, “Hey, we have officially increased the length, the recommended length, and the display length of what we will show in the text snippet of standard organic results.”
So I’m illustrating that for you here. I did a search for “net neutrality bill,” something that’s on the minds of a lot of Americans right now. You can see here that this article from The Hill, which is a recent article — it was two days ago — has a much longer text snippet than what we would normally expect to find. In fact, I went ahead and counted this one and then showed it here.
So basically, at the old 165-character limit, which is what you would have seen prior to the middle of December on most every search result, occasionally Google would have a longer one for very specific kinds of search results, but more than 90%, according to data from SISTRIX, which put out a great report and I’ll link to it here, more than 90% of search snippets were 165 characters or less prior to the middle of November. Then Google added basically a few more lines.
So now, on mobile and desktop, instead of an average of two or three lines, we’re talking three, four, five, sometimes even six lines of text. So this snippet here is 266 characters that Google is displaying. The next result, from Save the Internet, is 273 characters. Again, this might be because Google sort of realized, “Hey, we almost got all of this in here. Let’s just carry it through to the end rather than showing the ellipsis.” But you can see that 165 characters would cut off right here. This one actually does a good job of displaying things.
So imagine a searcher is querying for something in your field and they’re just looking for a basic understanding of what it is. So they’ve never heard of net neutrality. They’re not sure what it is. So they can read here, “Net neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any . . .” And that’s where it would cut off. Or that’s where it would have cut off in November.
Now, if I got a snippet like that, I need to visit the site. I’ve got to click through in order to learn more. That doesn’t tell me enough to give me the data to go through. Now, Google has tackled this before with things, like a featured snippet, that sit at the top of the search results, that are a more expansive short answer. But in this case, I can get the rest of it because now, as of mid-November, Google has lengthened this. So now I can get, “Any content, applications, or websites you want to use. Net neutrality is the way that the Internet has always worked.”
Now, you might quibble and say this is not a full, thorough understanding of what net neutrality is, and I agree. But for a lot of searchers, this is good enough. They don’t need to click any more. This extension from 165 to 275 or 273, in this case, has really done the trick.
So this can have a bunch of changes to SEO too. So the change that happened here is that Google updated basically two things. One, they updated the snippet length, and two, they updated their guidelines around it.
So Google’s had historic guidelines that said, well, you want to keep your meta description tag between about 160 and 180 characters. I think that was the number. They’ve updated that to where they say there’s no official meta description recommended length. But on Twitter, Danny Sullivan said that he would probably not make that greater than 320 characters. In fact, we and other data providers, that collect a lot of search results, didn’t find many that extended beyond 300. So I think that’s a reasonable thing.
When did this happen? It was starting at about mid-November. November 22nd is when SISTRIX’s dataset starts to notice the increase, and it was over 50%. Now it’s sitting at about 51% of search results that have these longer snippets in at least 1 of the top 10 as of December 2nd.
Here’s the amazing thing, though — 51% of search results have at least one. Many of those, because they’re still pulling old meta descriptions or meta descriptions that SEO has optimized for the 165-character limit, are still very short. So if you’re the person in your search results, especially it’s holiday time right now, lots of ecommerce action, if you’re the person to go update your important pages right now, you might be able to get more real estate in the search results than any of your competitors in the SERPs because they’re not updating theirs.
How will this affect SEO?
So how is this going to really change SEO? Well, three things:
A. It changes how marketers should write and optimize the meta description.
We’re going to be writing a little bit differently because we have more space. We’re going to be trying to entice people to click, but we’re going to be very conscientious that we want to try and answer a lot of this in the search result itself, because if we can, there’s a good chance that Google will rank us higher, even if we’re actually sort of sacrificing clicks by helping the searcher get the answer they need in the search result.
B. It may impact click-through rate.
We’ll be looking at Jumpshot data over the next few months and year ahead. We think that there are two likely ways they could do it. Probably negatively, meaning fewer clicks on less complex queries. But conversely, possible it will get more clicks on some more complex queries, because people are more enticed by the longer description. Fingers crossed, that’s kind of what you want to do as a marketer.
C. It may lead to lower click-through rate further down in the search results.
If you think about the fact that this is taking up the real estate that was taken up by three results with two, as of a month ago, well, maybe people won’t scroll as far down. Maybe the ones that are higher up will in fact draw more of the clicks, and thus being further down on page one will have less value than it used to.
What should SEOs do?
What are things that you should do right now? Number one, make a priority list — you should probably already have this — of your most important landing pages by search traffic, the ones that receive the most search traffic on your website, organic search. Then I would go and reoptimize those meta descriptions for the longer limits.
Now, you can judge as you will. My advice would be go to the SERPs that are sending you the most traffic, that you’re ranking for the most. Go check out the limits. They’re probably between about 250 and 300, and you can optimize somewhere in there.
The second thing I would do is if you have internal processes or your CMS has rules around how long you can make a meta description tag, you’re going to have to update those probably from the old limit of somewhere in the 160 to 180 range to the new 230 to 320 range. It doesn’t look like many are smaller than 230 now, at least limit-wise, and it doesn’t look like anything is particularly longer than 320. So somewhere in there is where you’re going to want to stay.
Good luck with your new meta descriptions and with your new snippet optimization. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
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Posted by Tom.Capper
Digital marketing is a proudly data-driven field. Yet, as SEOs especially, we often have such incomplete or questionable data to work with, that we end up jumping to the wrong conclusions in our attempts to substantiate our arguments or quantify our issues and opportunities.
In this post, I’m going to outline 4 data analysis pitfalls that are endemic in our industry, and how to avoid them.
1. Jumping to conclusions
Earlier this year, I conducted a ranking factor study around brand awareness, and I posted this caveat:
“…the fact that Domain Authority (or branded search volume, or anything else) is positively correlated with rankings could indicate that any or all of the following is likely:
- Links cause sites to rank well
- Ranking well causes sites to get links
- Some third factor (e.g. reputation or age of site) causes sites to get both links and rankings”
However, I want to go into this in a bit more depth and give you a framework for analyzing these yourself, because it still comes up a lot. Take, for example, this recent study by Stone Temple, which you may have seen in the Moz Top 10 or Rand’s tweets, or this excellent article discussing SEMRush’s recent direct traffic findings. To be absolutely clear, I’m not criticizing either of the studies, but I do want to draw attention to how we might interpret them.
Firstly, we do tend to suffer a little confirmation bias — we’re all too eager to call out the cliché “correlation vs. causation” distinction when we see successful sites that are keyword-stuffed, but all too approving when we see studies doing the same with something we think is or was effective, like links.
Secondly, we fail to critically analyze the potential mechanisms. The options aren’t just causation or coincidence.
Before you jump to a conclusion based on a correlation, you’re obliged to consider various possibilities:
- Complete coincidence
- Reverse causation
- Joint causation
- Broad applicability
If those don’t make any sense, then that’s fair enough — they’re jargon. Let’s go through an example:
Before I warn you not to eat cheese because you may die in your bedsheets, I’m obliged to check that it isn’t any of the following:
- Complete coincidence – Is it possible that so many datasets were compared, that some were bound to be similar? Why, that’s exactly what Tyler Vigen did! Yes, this is possible.
- Reverse causation – Is it possible that we have this the wrong way around? For example, perhaps your relatives, in mourning for your bedsheet-related death, eat cheese in large quantities to comfort themselves? This seems pretty unlikely, so let’s give it a pass. No, this is very unlikely.
- Joint causation – Is it possible that some third factor is behind both of these? Maybe increasing affluence makes you healthier (so you don’t die of things like malnutrition), and also causes you to eat more cheese? This seems very plausible. Yes, this is possible.
- Linearity – Are we comparing two linear trends? A linear trend is a steady rate of growth or decline. Any two statistics which are both roughly linear over time will be very well correlated. In the graph above, both our statistics are trending linearly upwards. If the graph was drawn with different scales, they might look completely unrelated, like this, but because they both have a steady rate, they’d still be very well correlated. Yes, this looks likely.
- Broad applicability – Is it possible that this relationship only exists in certain niche scenarios, or, at least, not in my niche scenario? Perhaps, for example, cheese does this to some people, and that’s been enough to create this correlation, because there are so few bedsheet-tangling fatalities otherwise? Yes, this seems possible.
So we have 4 “Yes” answers and one “No” answer from those 5 checks.
If your example doesn’t get 5 “No” answers from those 5 checks, it’s a fail, and you don’t get to say that the study has established either a ranking factor or a fatal side effect of cheese consumption.
A similar process should apply to case studies, which are another form of correlation — the correlation between you making a change, and something good (or bad!) happening. For example, ask:
- Have I ruled out other factors (e.g. external demand, seasonality, competitors making mistakes)?
- Did I increase traffic by doing the thing I tried to do, or did I accidentally improve some other factor at the same time?
- Did this work because of the unique circumstance of the particular client/project?
This is particularly challenging for SEOs, because we rarely have data of this quality, but I’d suggest an additional pair of questions to help you navigate this minefield:
- If I were Google, would I do this?
- If I were Google, could I do this?
Direct traffic as a ranking factor passes the “could” test, but only barely — Google could use data from Chrome, Android, or ISPs, but it’d be sketchy. It doesn’t really pass the “would” test, though — it’d be far easier for Google to use branded search traffic, which would answer the same questions you might try to answer by comparing direct traffic levels (e.g. how popular is this website?).
2. Missing the context
If I told you that my traffic was up 20% week on week today, what would you say? Congratulations?
What if it was up 20% this time last year?
What if I told you it had been up 20% year on year, up until recently?
It’s funny how a little context can completely change this. This is another problem with case studies and their evil inverted twin, traffic drop analyses.
If we really want to understand whether to be surprised at something, positively or negatively, we need to compare it to our expectations, and then figure out what deviation from our expectations is “normal.” If this is starting to sound like statistics, that’s because it is statistics — indeed, I wrote about a statistical approach to measuring change way back in 2015.
If you want to be lazy, though, a good rule of thumb is to zoom out, and add in those previous years. And if someone shows you data that is suspiciously zoomed in, you might want to take it with a pinch of salt.
3. Trusting our tools
Would you make a multi-million dollar business decision based on a number that your competitor could manipulate at will? Well, chances are you do, and the number can be found in Google Analytics. I’ve covered this extensively in other places, but there are some major problems with most analytics platforms around:
- How easy they are to manipulate externally
- How arbitrarily they group hits into sessions
- How vulnerable they are to ad blockers
- How they perform under sampling, and how obvious they make this
For example, did you know that the Google Analytics API v3 can heavily sample data whilst telling you that the data is unsampled, above a certain amount of traffic (~500,000 within date range)? Neither did I, until we ran into it whilst building Distilled ODN.
Similar problems exist with many “Search Analytics” tools. My colleague Sam Nemzer has written a bunch about this — did you know that most rank tracking platforms report completely different rankings? Or how about the fact that the keywords grouped by Google (and thus tools like SEMRush and STAT, too) are not equivalent, and don’t necessarily have the volumes quoted?
It’s important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of tools that we use, so that we can at least know when they’re directionally accurate (as in, their insights guide you in the right direction), even if not perfectly accurate. All I can really recommend here is that skilling up in SEO (or any other digital channel) necessarily means understanding the mechanics behind your measurement platforms — which is why all new starts at Distilled end up learning how to do analytics audits.
One of the most common solutions to the root problem is combining multiple data sources, but…
4. Combining data sources
There are numerous platforms out there that will “defeat (not provided)” by bringing together data from two or more of:
- Search Console
- Rank tracking
The problems here are that, firstly, these platforms do not have equivalent definitions, and secondly, ironically, (not provided) tends to break them.
Let’s deal with definitions first, with an example — let’s look at a landing page with a channel:
- In Search Console, these are reported as clicks, and can be vulnerable to heavy, invisible sampling when multiple dimensions (e.g. keyword and page) or filters are combined.
- In Google Analytics, these are reported using last non-direct click, meaning that your organic traffic includes a bunch of direct sessions, time-outs that resumed mid-session, etc. That’s without getting into dark traffic, ad blockers, etc.
- In AdWords, most reporting uses last AdWords click, and conversions may be defined differently. In addition, keyword volumes are bundled, as referenced above.
- Rank tracking is location specific, and inconsistent, as referenced above.
Fine, though — it may not be precise, but you can at least get to some directionally useful data given these limitations. However, about that “(not provided)”…
Most of your landing pages get traffic from more than one keyword. It’s very likely that some of these keywords convert better than others, particularly if they are branded, meaning that even the most thorough click-through rate model isn’t going to help you. So how do you know which keywords are valuable?
The best answer is to generalize from AdWords data for those keywords, but it’s very unlikely that you have analytics data for all those combinations of keyword and landing page. Essentially, the tools that report on this make the very bold assumption that a given page converts identically for all keywords. Some are more transparent about this than others.
Again, this isn’t to say that those tools aren’t valuable — they just need to be understood carefully. The only way you could reliably fill in these blanks created by “not provided” would be to spend a ton on paid search to get decent volume, conversion rate, and bounce rate estimates for all your keywords, and even then, you’ve not fixed the inconsistent definitions issues.
Bonus peeve: Average rank
I still see this way too often. Three questions:
- Do you care more about losing rankings for ten very low volume queries (10 searches a month or less) than for one high volume query (millions plus)? If the answer isn’t “yes, I absolutely care more about the ten low-volume queries”, then this metric isn’t for you, and you should consider a visibility metric based on click through rate estimates.
- When you start ranking at 100 for a keyword you didn’t rank for before, does this make you unhappy? If the answer isn’t “yes, I hate ranking for new keywords,” then this metric isn’t for you — because that will lower your average rank. You could of course treat all non-ranking keywords as position 100, as some tools allow, but is a drop of 2 average rank positions really the best way to express that 1/50 of your landing pages have been de-indexed? Again, use a visibility metric, please.
- Do you like comparing your performance with your competitors? If the answer isn’t “no, of course not,” then this metric isn’t for you — your competitors may have more or fewer branded keywords or long-tail rankings, and these will skew the comparison. Again, use a visibility metric.
Hopefully, you’ve found this useful. To summarize the main takeaways:
- Critically analyse correlations & case studies by seeing if you can explain them as coincidences, as reverse causation, as joint causation, through reference to a third mutually relevant factor, or through niche applicability.
- Don’t look at changes in traffic without looking at the context — what would you have forecasted for this period, and with what margin of error?
- Remember that the tools we use have limitations, and do your research on how that impacts the numbers they show. “How has this number been produced?” is an important component in “What does this number mean?”
- If you end up combining data from multiple tools, remember to work out the relationship between them — treat this information as directional rather than precise.
Let me know what data analysis fallacies bug you, in the comments below.
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These stats will leave you feeling holly and jolly.
December holidays are right around the corner, and they present a huge opportunity for your local business to connect with your customers and build relationships!
One of the best ways to communicate with your customers around the holidays is through social media.
Check out these stats to see what impact social media can have on your business around the holidays:
Source: Main Street Hub
#39 – Massage Envy, Amazon & Walmart face friendly fire, while “Dilly Dilly” to Bud Light & Maisie Williams
Hear ye, hear ye, let it be known that this week we have Reputation Roadkill thricely, and two examples of regal reputation engagement.
Each week, Erin Jones and I take a look at the most interesting reputation management stories, answer your questions, and share valuable ORM tactics. In this week’s episode:
- Your contractors, franchisees, and vendors are YOUR reputation.
- Bud Light’s fun cease-and-desist has us saying “cheers” and “dilly dilly!”
- Don’t be a one-way monolog on social media. Engage your fans and reap the benefits.
If you have a question you would like us to tackle, please leave a comment below or on my Facebook Page.
Transcript (forgive us for any typos):
Andy Beal: Welcome back. We have a pretty good show this week. I know I say that every week, but honestly, stick with me. We’re going to start off with a trifecta of Reputation Roadkill. In fact, we’re not going to discuss the individual stories. We’re going to discuss a bigger picture here, but we’ll put the links on the show notes to the stories.
Amazon had a contract driver defecate on a customer’s driveway. I guess when you got to go, you got to go. Massage Envy is facing more than 180 sexual assault complaints against individual franchises that are under its branch. Then, Walmart had to pull an offensive T-shirt that was offered by one of its vendors. All three of those could make up an entire show, but I think it’s pretty obvious what the individual issues are here, and what you should avoid and what you should fix.
However, the bigger picture that Erin and I want to talk about is when you rely on almost third parties, you’ve got a delivery contractor for Amazon, you’ve got an individual or a couple of individual rogue franchises from Massage Envy. Then you’ve got a third party vendor, but when it’s all reported, when the scandals break, all the public are really seeing are the brands behind those: Amazon, Massage Envy, and Walmart. So, the actions of those contractors and third party vendors are just hurting the main brands, Erin.
Erin Jones: They are, and in these three instances, I feel like it’s valid. None of these companies have had any of this be a one-time issue. So, congratulations to the Amazon lady because she actually rendered me speechless, which is pretty difficult to do, but we’re hearing complaints about people all over the place saying, “People are showing up in U-Haul trucks or Home Depot trucks and tossing packages out onto my porch.” We’ve had stuff left at the end of our driveway, which is almost an eighth of a mile away from our front door.
So, I’m seeing this locally, but these are not isolated incidents. Massage Envy, there have been literally hundreds of complaints. This T-shirt company, this is the second large news item I’ve seen from them. Regardless of the fact that they’re not directly employed by these companies, the companies are continuing to pay them and not doing anything about the negative actions. Where does the company become responsible?
Andy Beal: Well, I think the company absolutely needs to be help responsible. It’s almost like we’ve not learned from the Dell Hell classic case study, where Dell outsourced customer service. When you outsource any part of your business, you learn the high standards that you set for your own employees, and that oversight and leasing of those standards. You’ve sacrificed that because you’re trying to cut costs, right? If you look at all of these, Amazon is trying to get the packages delivered as cheaply as possible. Massage Envy is trying to expand to as many markets as they can, so they’ve done the franchise route as opposed to building their own stores. Then, Walmart’s trying to get as many products on its website as it can, so it’s opening it up to third party vendors instead of being strict about what products get on there.
All three of them have cut corners. The buck absolutely has to stop with them, and now it’s down to them to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, whether that’s firing that particular delivery firm, closing down those franchises, whatever it is. They’ve actually got to take action here because the public is going to be looking to them to say, “Okay. These are really bad mess-ups that your contractors and affiliates have done here. Is that acceptable to you? Are you going to let that ride or are you going to take decisive action?”
Erin Jones: I think decisive action is a really good point here because everything I’m reading from these articles, I keep hearing, “We’re appalled. We’re so sorry. We’re going to do something about this.” Then, three more days, we hear about another allegation or another driver doing something ridiculous. Hopefully, they won’t all go to the lengths that this recent one did, but the T-shirt company, even. This is the second time that they’ve been completely appalled by someone’s actions that went against their policies, so they’re going to go ahead and take the post down. Okay, you need to do a little bit more here because clearly you being appalled is not changing anything.
Andy Beal: Yeah, and I wonder how much it’s got to do with the fact that these are low-cost companies. Amazon, Walmart, Massage Envy, none of them have the reputation of being a high-quality luxury product or first-class customer service. Although I have to admit, Amazon does a pretty good job if you’re a Prime member, but you’ve really got a race to the bottom here. Massage Envy is popular because it’s cheap massages. It’s a lot cheaper than if you went to somebody that provides a more medical, clinical-type massage. Walmart is just trying to be … Well, I don’t know what they’re trying to be. They’re trying to just make everything as cheap as possible.
So, are we getting what we pay for, right? We, as consumers, are not willing to pay the high prices of small businesses, local businesses. We want it cheaper, faster, delivery, and lower priced products, but are we willing to accept that that means the standards are going to be a lot lower?
But at the same time, though, I mean, I’m going to link to the Massage Envy, but please know that it will make you sick to your stomach when you read about the sexual assault complaints. I’ve never been there. I’m sure there are some fantastic franchise owners that have installed structure and policies in place that are stricter than what Massage Envy Corporate has put in place, and I’m sure there’s some fantastic places you can go to, but generally, reading this, you’ll probably never want to go to a Massage Envy again.
Erin Jones: No, I actually canceled my membership after I read that article, and I had been with them for five to six years. Our local franchise owner is fantastic, and I just point blank told her, “I’m sorry. I cannot give my money to a company that condones this kind of behavior.” Sadly, she agreed with me. I’d love to see some of these franchises go off the franchise model and just open regular spas. They may gets some really good traction with local markets. It’s just publicly acknowledging that they’re not going to support this.
Andy Beal: No, I agree, and I truly expect we’ll see that. Why wouldn’t we? You’ve got to get out of that contract. Whether you need to hire an attorney or not to break from that franchise agreement, yeah, they need to get out of that.
Alright. Let’s move on to something a little bit more lighthearted, and you could even say a little bit more bud light-hearted. Sorry for the intro, Erin.
Erin Jones: Dad joke alert. You know, Budweiser did something this week. We know that they’re a huge massive corporation. They’re clearly aware of that. They, this week, served a local small craft brewery with a Cease and Desist letter, but they did it in style and nobody’s mad about it, so that’s really fun to see. They didn’t just serve … a process server come out and give them their documents. They sent a medieval scroll and a town crier to read the process letter publicly within the brewery.
Andy Beal: That’s awesome.
Erin Jones: I loved it. Absolutely loved it, and the brewery did too, which was really fun. Modest Brewery had a new IPA out and they called it, Dilly Dilly, which is a phrase that Budweiser’s been using in their commercials and a lot of merchandising lately. Someone at Budweiser got the message, and they very, very creatively told Dilly Dilly to back off.
What was fun is that they used the theme from their Dilly Dilly commercials and extended it to real life. So, I thought that was a really fun way to handle it. They let Modest know that it wasn’t going to work out for them, but then they also said that they created two thrones for them to watch the Super Bowl in Minneapolis with the Budweiser team, which I thought was really neat. Modest is taking it all in stride. They’ve hung the scroll up on the wall behind the bar. This is great publicity for them and they were happy to rename the beer. They’re calling it Coattails, so I thought that was kind of cute.
I really think both brands handled it well. They both handled it with grace and laughed it out, and they were willing to meet in the middle and work it out instead of turning it into a big heated battle.
Andy Beal: Yeah, and I love one of the lines from the scroll. It says, “Disobedience will be met with additional scrolls, then a formal warning, then finally, a private tour of the pit of misery,” which was absolutely hilarious. In character with the Dilly Dilly campaign. The best thing is that Bud Light … It’s a win-win. They needed to police this trademark that they have for this slogan, but they did it in a way where they don’t look like a big bully trying to shut down a craft brewery, which could have easily gone against them because there’s a lot of people that like to pull for the underdog. Like you said, they softened the blow by offering two thrones, is how they named it, for the Superbowl, and just handled it in a fantastic way where both brands came out on top and didn’t really have to get into a nasty legal battle.
Erin Jones: It was great. Now, I would love to see Dairy Queen hop on board here and go after both of them, since they’ve had the corner on the Dilly bar since who knows how long, but yeah, I wish we would see more things like this because I think they handled it fantastically, and it didn’t get ugly, and nobody got nasty. It’s great publicity for a small brewery, especially when Budweiser’s kind of been under the microscope lately for buying up local breweries.
Andy Beal: Yeah, and someone told me that this is not really the normal tone that Bud Light takes. They are pretty aggressive, like the 800-pound gorilla that tries to police everything and protect their branch, so this was a really good approach. However, definitely more in line with the Bud Light brand, right? I think they did a really good job with that.
I think the lesson here for us is if you look at the video, it wasn’t like they set up a studio. It just happened to be a couple of employees with their cell phones out, capturing it on video. So, you have to assume that your words, your actions are always going to be recorded, screenshoted or whatever it may be, and how will they be perceived by those that see them later, especially those that maybe root for the underdog. I’ve had situations where I’ve had to police a brand, and I’ve done it in a soft way, a lighthearted way, to try to get resolution and it worked, but then I’ve been on the received end of someone that sent me just a Cease and Desist letter out of the gate without actually contacting me first just to say, “Hey, could we work this out?” It ruffled my feathers and I could have easily played the underdog here and instead, I just decided, “Hey, let’s just work this out like normal human beings.”
Whenever you have to police something like this, always try the softer approach first, and always assume that whatever you send, even if you think it’s a private email, it is gonna make it into the public domain and how will that reflect on you?
Erin Jones: Absolutely. I think the old colloquialism that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar … I think it applies in most areas of life, but always if you could get through to someone without causing those ruffled feathers, I think that that should be the first attempt every time.
Andy Beal: Yeah, absolutely, and if you throw in two thrones for the Superbowl, it doesn’t hurt either.
Erin Jones: Yeah. That probably could’ve softened a whole lot of blows.
Andy Beal: Exactly. Alright, speaking of thrones … I’m full of puns, this week. Speaking of thrones-
Erin Jones: Hey, that was a good transition.
Andy Beal: You liked that? Okay, so Maisie Williams is a star of Game of Thrones and other movies. She, on Twitter, asked her followers for suggestions on where to donate clothes that she no longer needed. I love the fact that she was asking for advice on Twitter just like the rest of us normal people would, where we would ask our friends and family and followers, “Hey, I need some help here. What are your ideas on where I should donate these clothes that I no longer wear?”
The fans loved the interaction. In fact, they couldn’t believe it at first, but they got on board and started giving her lots of ideas as to where she could donate them. Then she closed the loop by thanking them and following up on a lot of those ideas, which must have done wonders for building just that fan and follower loyalty.
Erin Jones: I absolutely love this. I also love that when people said, “You know, don’t donate everything. Please let me buy something.” She said, “okay. I’ll sell the nicer pieces and donate that money to charity.” Then, I think she said her more working clothes or something referring to her casual wardrobe, she said she would donate those.
So, I think that it’s really neat, like you said, she took all of those suggestions into consideration. It sounded like she really took the suggestions to heart. It wasn’t just a, “I’m going to put this out there to have a post out today,” kind of thing.
Andy Beal: Right, and we can learn a lesson here. Even if you’re tweeting or hosting on behalf of a brand, you can still give yourself a personal voice. You can still make that connection. It doesn’t always have to be this one continual stream of announcements and press releases and links to your latest blog post. Why not engage your audience and built that rapport. Then use this as a means to build greater loyalty and support. If you’re going to make a decision on a product launch or a new service or a new feature, whatever it may be, ask the question, “What’s your recommendation? What would you like to see?”
Then if you can actually implement some of the more popular recommendations, just think how more enamored your fan base is going to be. Your customers are going to be more loyal because you’ve listened to them and they’ve played a part in whatever the decision is.
Erin Jones: I completely agree. Two of the things I always tell my clients when they’re going to manage their own social media is, first of all, listen to what people have to say because sometimes they just want to be heard. Second is ask people’s opinions on things. If you want engagement on social media, don’t just tell them what they need to know or what you want them to see. Ask them what they think because we love giving our opinions on social media. You’re almost always going to get feedback when you ask someone what they think about something.
Andy Beal: Yeah, if you want to see engagement increase across any of your social media channels, just put a question mark at the end of your next post. Ask a question of your audience. People love it. It builds engagement. It builds loyalty. Who knows? You may learn something that you may not have learned if you’d been too afraid to ask, and that might be the tipping point for the next great surge for your company.
Erin Jones: Definitely, and if you ask someone’s opinion and they give you feedback that you implement, they have a much stronger connection to your brand than they did before, and that’s going to increase loyalty, as well.
Andy Beal: Absolutely. Good point. Alright, we’ll end it on that note. We hope you enjoyed the show. If you have any questions about this week or there’s any stories that you’ve seen or reputation management questions you have for a “friend”, then feel free to ask them over at our Facebook page, which is facebook.com/andybealORM, or just head to andybeal.com, find any of the podcast blog posts, and just leave your question there. We’d love to see your questions or get your feedback.
Erin, as always, enjoyed chatting with you.
Erin Jones: Thank you so much. I love being here.
Andy Beal: And we appreciate you guys tuning in each week. We hope you’ll join us again next time. Thanks a lot and bye-bye.
The post #39 – Massage Envy, Amazon & Walmart face friendly fire, while “Dilly Dilly” to Bud Light & Maisie Williams appeared first on Andy Beal .
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