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October 21, 2012

Mobile Cloaking in the coming years

Do you have a mobile CSS on your website? I think it is time you’d better get one. Especially if you work with lead generation, sales or any type of transaction on your website. Mobile traffic is increasing like a mother fucker and you need to be prepared for it. Are you still asking the question of whether or not to build a native app or build a mobile website? Don’t. Build a website. First. Then see if you have the need for an app.

What is cloaking?

Going back a few years in time, a practice was used to deliver one content type to the visitor and another to the Google bot. This would make Google believe that your web pages were filled with valuable text and image content that was highly relevant for some keyword. Whilst, in fact, your page, when served to a normal user, had all but copy on it. It was simply a cluster of your most converting content put into a structure where it would convert the most possible visitors.

Webmasters did this so that they would rank for stuff their pages didn’t really deserve to rank for. This practice was called cloaking.

Google solved the problem by further developing their algorithm so that it would detect this practice. They also added manual checks of websites in order to rule out any sneaky bastards who had been able to reverse engineer the new changes to the algo. In a sense, cloaking is a part of the past, at least when it comes to PC/Mac to web interaction.

Mobile cloaking is here

However, as the web has expanded to also include delivering access to mobile devices our cloaking skills are experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. People are to a greater extent picking up their mobile to search for whatever they want to find. From our analytics we have seen mobile usage, of the websites we monitor, increase gradually. For the past few months, this traffic increase has started to accelerate.

So, what should you do with this traffic when it comes to your website? My suggestion is that you cloak the living shit out of it. 

So what do I mean when I say “cloak the living shit out of it”. Well, basically I am talking about offering another interface for your mobile visitors than you serve your computer browser users. Fair enough. But I mean seriously change the way it looks in the mobile. Users are lazy. Remove the unnecessary stuff. Give them only the essential for conversion. Either to a lead with an e-mail form, or through a simple one click to phone number purchase. Google doesn’t seem to penalize you for this. Perhaps, because you are actually delivering a better page experience than the one with all the text on it.

What is your Mobile cloaking opportunity?

This will not only improve your conversion rates, but it will also improve your usability for the visitor through the mobile phone.

And it is here that Google’s dilemma becomes escalated. They will probably never be able to penalize you for these differences in delivery. Users will not like pages with loads of text on them in their mobile phone. Thus, as Google has the ambition to deliver great content, they will have to adapt to finding a way to rank good mobile pages. The only way they can do that today is to use the web css delivery, regardless if you serve your visitors with something else through the mobile phone.

From all I can derive from the numbers, Google will rank you in the cellphone based on how your webpage is behaving to a “non-mobile” visitor. It will give you some advantage for localized content as well as for mobile CSS. HOW this mobile CSS displays the content on the other hand, seems to be of lesser significance.

People are searching the web through the phone. Ok. The search behavior is a bit different. It pays to keep an eye out for what Google suggest is giving the users as options for your specific niche keywords. Use it. People are lazy and more prone to use what is offered to them. Either way. You should be seeing more traffic from the cellphone. Both social as well as search traffic.

So. That’s an opportunity for you.

 

October 8, 2012

Can 41 Digital Data Strategists play themselves to Data Wisdom?

About 7 months or so ago, I got involved in Hyper Islands Digital Data Strategist programme. The industry, actually regardless of which one we were talking to, was screaming for people with knowledge in how to use digital and data, to produce nice juicy output. They didn’t necessarily know what kind of output. All they knew was that digital was here to stay, and they needed to hire all talent out there, able to interpret it and turn its benefits into profit in one shape or another.

I got assigned a four week module. I wanted to make it into something unheard of. Something exciting for the students as well as something that was easily communicated. I wanted it to help the students define themselves as individuals as much as I wanted it to benefit them in their life and improve their wellbeing.

Now. 7 months later. I held my first session during the 3rd module called ME. The sole purpose of the four week module is to give the students tools that help them with the boundaries and possibilities of working with data for business purposes. Not only how to collect the right kind of data, but also how to present it, how to interpret it and how to do this without breaking any laws or ethical barriers out there.

Creating “The game of ME”

Five months ago I started planning the module, and it has changed a million times since. The final design. Well. How shall I put it. If you wanted people to, not only, learn about data, but also experience its impact on behavior and performance, what would you do? Yes. You thought right. You should have them make the experience about themselves. And what better way to do it, than to make it into a game.

Said and done. Hyper Island currently have 41 students creating their own version of “The game of ME”. A game of self description/improvement/management. Life Hacking in a box. Turning the students into the subjects of their own experiments. “The game of Me” is really a game about the students themselves. They make the incentives, feedback loops, objectives, rewards themselves. They decide what behaviors they want to induce within themselves, making them improve or grow, becoming their own Growth Hackers in a sense.

They shall then turn this game into a visualization of themselves, in terms of data, touching on everything from integrity (cause yes, some of the data is of such kind that you might not want to share it), data collection (both analogue, behavioral and in quantity through APIs and databases), into business or self growth… …and naturally also the regular metrics tools out there. We are no longer talking about a bunch of students that will present themselves with a name and an occupation. These guys will say: “Hi, 6% of my friends call me Jupiter and the 94 other percent of me is influenced by New York.” (…I know… bad example… but I think you get the idea…). They shall learn to present anything based on the actual facts, rather than based on a hunch or a feeling.

Through the process of analyzing themselves, and their behavioral change, through data, they will gain key insights on how to interpret data, and make it useful and exciting. This knowledge and set of skills will then be up for grabs, by you as a employer. I am telling you. These students are sharp. And there are only 41 of them.

Today’s session – find a theme, start collecting data

The day started out with a presentation of the module. Secondly we held a small KPI workshop helping the students derive themes that could be used for their games. We then broke the themes down into measurable metrics and tools that can be used to measure these metrics. The end result? I have no freaking idea. All I know is that most of the students walked away from today’s session with the kind of satisfied panic look on their face that all Hyper Island students do after the first day of any something they have begun.

Please get in touch with me if you want to join this module in any way. The best thing with Hyper Island is that we work towards completing goals. We have a Hyper Island way of doing that. The great thing with the methodology is that it is open to change and thus it allows for constant improvement! If you believe you can add to the module in any way in terms of ethics, developer skills/apis, legal, data integrations, game development, hacking, spam, marketing, branding, business intelligence etc. Please don’t think twice about connecting with me on LinkedIn.

My question for the coming four weeks is: Can 41 Digital Data Strategists play themselves to Data Wisdom?

May 8, 2012

In-line sharing optimization, SEO and conversion rate

Thinking in terms of goal completion is essential when working with all types of SEO, social media and more specifically, the conversion of traffic in any shape or form from these channels. In this blog post I will present a way of working, you can use when you optimize your conversion funnel for 1. primary goal completion (usually some kind of purchase, download, signup etc.) and 2. secondary goal completion (such as sharing, linking, commenting). It will be tilted towards the secondary purpose as this article really came about when talking about the updates in Google Penguin.

So what’s to consider in terms of SEO, conversion and sharing?

When selling a product online you need to think in terms of two significant frameworks. First you need to consider landing pages, and secondly you need to consider user paths/user journeys/conversion funnels (virtually the same thing as they all should lead to a completion of a transaction you have determined).

Landing pages need to be optimized for two things. They need to be optimized for visibility and they need to be optimized to build desire to complete your proposed action. Ie. your visibility creates traffic that is essential, your USP and way of meeting your visitor makes them want to buy from you. User paths need to be optimized for ease. Ie. you need to decrease the friction the user experiences when they are attempting to convert.

There are several thousands of articles written about landing page optimization. Most of them focus on how you can increase the lust or desire to complete some form of task. To convert. There are quite few however that consider full user paths. This blog post aims at discussing user paths with the goal of adding some sharing to the conversion funnel. I don’t know what it is formally called, but I choose to call it “in-line conversion rate optimization”.

Why is it important to optimize for sharing?

Recent events within SEO have made it ever so clear that you need a wide range of different types of links to your website. One of my tweeps wrote a blog post that inspired me to write this one. It is a short summary of how the Google Penguin update is effecting you and what you should think about when working with on page SEO.

In terms of conversion rate optimization and SEO, you prioritize getting traffic to those pages that convert well for you. The best way of doing so is to increase the ranking of that page for the desired search terms in the search engine result pages. When we have Penguin in fresh mind, we know that the old facts about links have been turned on their head. Links are still needed to beat the competition, however, it has become increasingly important that these are contextual, next to semantic, and more natural than before. The easiest way of creating such links is through user interaction – sharing.

Thus, users and not machines have to start building a big chunk of your link juice. Besides improving the actual content on your pages, you should also focus on when you ask the user to link to you or to share your content (which means that they put a link to your web content on another page – ie. link to you.) As I wrote on Tribaling, it really doesn’t matter how good your content is, as long as it uses mechanisms that make people share.

People share what they want to share and what they are convinced to share. As I discuss in my guest blog post on Tribaling, you really need to start understanding what and why people share in order to improve your content. Once you do understand these patterns, it will become a part of your natural content creation. Then you can focus on how to boost the results by using different tactics.

So what the heck is in-line sharing?

In meetings with clients that sell stuff through online channels, I often get into the discussion of “how to increase sharing without taking the eyes of the prize”. Ie. they do not want to ask too many things of their website visitor, as they want to optimize for the ultimate conversion goal. In terms of in-line we are going to add one or several calls to share throughout the conversion funnel or user path.

What makes this in-line is the way that we do it. We make the sharing a part of the product rather than make it another step. Think about it. If you are selling shoes, your buyers might need advice when choosing between two options. Add a create image – post to wall for advice call to action. If you are selling a subscription you can put a matching functionality on your thank you page saying – Increase your knowledge, compare your preferences with someone you trust – connect to facebook/G+ whatever.

If you have a service that require contacts – ask people to make their first additon or call or whatever by syncing with who else has the service. Even before someone has started the conversion funnel, ask them to check out who else of their friends are using the service – connect to facebook and match with your friends. If no one has done this before, then use the call to action – “Ask for matching access from MAX 5 of your friends” or something like that. They need to think that it is their fault that there aren’t any users who have used the service before… getting side tracked… however… one more thing…

Let me elaborate on the shoe example. Let’s say your visitor is selecting between buying two different types of shoes. When browsing your website they have added both of them their checkout basket. Once ready to select they click their basket icon and see all the stuff they have selected. They now feel really anxious that they are about to make a poor mistake. This is a perfect time for you to prompt them with a call to action – “Create a moodboard and ask your friends on Facebook” or G+ or Pinterest or whatever. You get the point. The user gets to post it to the wall with a pre written question they can change – “Please help me select what shoes to buy – tag yourself on the one you vouch for”. Doubble time sharing as this is posted to their walls as well. Sweet.

Getting back to it. If they select get their friends opinion – share – then great. You feed them with a message – “Great, we will send you an e-mail with feedback once your friends have replied”. Or, buy now and have the option to change your mind when your friends have had their say. Or, woops your friends couldn’t decide, buy both with free 1 day delivery and 10% off your second item. Or something like that.

You start getting it I guess. You make sharing a part of your conversion funnel, rather than making it something people do statically. You give them a reason to share whilst making their decision, or to be able to boast, or for whatever other reason you can find when analyzing your website personas. DON’T put a share button on the page unless the page itself is a shareable object. Rather make sharing a part of the purchasing process. Wow… that paragraph became a blog post in its own right. LOL… getting back to it….

How do you optimize for sharing in terms of in-line conversion?

I have written about Biconic conversion models before, but that blog post still didn’t take into account the challenge of time, which is one of the greatest friction moments of any type of user path. If it takes to much time, they have time to think, and thus they are less likely to convert as their level of arousal that was created by the landing page, decreases as time goes by.

You cannot simply add steps between the user and their completion of the goal. You need to optimize some away first. This is really the focus for in-line conversion optimization. If you add something you have to optimize something so that it runs more smoothly.

So. To get to it. What should you do? Well, I usually do the following, if I don’t have the luxury of fancy fancy analytics tools:

  • I look at the average time a user spends from landing page to completing a preferred goal
  • That average time I assume to be the time a person is willing to spend to purchase anything from me
  • This average time thus works as a comparative, or an anchor for myself
  • If I manage to decrease that time spent, then 1. either more people will convert or 2. I can increase the value of their purchase given that they can perform these tasks within the same time period
  • I then use all my time optimizing to shorten the time spent by the user
Listen. I assume that sharing increases the value of my pages and my ranking for SEO traffic. You must be cautious here. Before you have a look at this, you really need to work to build your conversion rates in general, up to some average industry level. Then do a benefit analysis/ROI analysis which I will describe more clearly later in this blog post.

What types of call to action should you use?

So. We have now defined that your main KPI is the average time spent and you should try to decrease this. The purpose of decreasing the time is so that you can start completing your secondary conversion goal – ie. increasing the value of the page in terms of visibility. In terms of Google Penguin update, this is done by getting contextual placements of links back to your web content (plus a variety of contextual stuff on your pages).

In order to make someone share your content on their way to conversion, you really need to have your sharing call to action make sense. I mean. You cannot just write “share this” somewhere on the page and expect users to do all the work. You have to stick it into their face and describe to them why “sharing is caring” or why “sharing is valuable to you”, as described above. Just as on the landing page, you need to build arousal or desire to actually perform this task.

And you DO need to do it in-line of the user path. This is an important statement. This basically means that you should use

Calculate the ROI of sharing

In the end it all comes down to ROI calculations. If you believe that an improved ranking will increase your traffic by let’s say 1000 visitors. You know you convert 15% of these. Then you know that you will earn your price times 15% times 1000 by increasing your pages ranking.

If for example you increase your conversion rate by lowering time spent to convert by more than that, you probably shouldn’t add any in-line linking mechanisms to improve your rankings. Especially not if your page is already ranking well.

However, if you find that an improved ranking would surpass the decrease in conversion rate due to the in-line linking mechanism. You should probably consider adding it. Or in other words. If you find that you have optimized your conversion rate to a place you feel comfortable, then you should try to increase traffic, if the trafic increase doesn’t mean you decrease your net revenue.

Or in bullets.

  • Conversion rate is a function of time (and some other factors)
  • Traffic is a function of links
  • In order to make someone link to you, this will take time from them
  • If you increase time, conversion rates will drop
  • In order to find your optimum you need to consider both what a ranking increase would mean in terms of traffic and you need to consider how the extra time spent by a user when converting is effecting how many of them convert
  • If the traffic increase produces more money than the decrease in conversion rate takes away – it is a rational and good thing to do

Conclusion

So many words for saying so little. But I truly hope that this has given you some insight into how I think in terms of sharing, SEO value and conversion. Ie. when not only taking any of the important steps out of the equation.

So in terms of Google Penguin, your rankings and thus also traffic for relevant keywords is increasingly needed to be natural and contextual. It needs to be the result of natural sharing. Thus you need to focus your work on creating content that is shareable, and create mechanisms that actually help people share. I suggest in this blogpost how you can do this by putting the call to action for sharing in-line with the user journey to the primary conversion goal.

I hope you enjoyed it!

April 18, 2012

Like any other Marketing Excuse – And Why Change matters

So I guess you have all seen the photos, the videos and the outcry about the Swedish culture ministers absurd act to eat of a cake installation that resembles the genital mutilation of a black woman. The whole installation is according to my view completely tasteless and absolutely outrageous.

I am, however, not saying that it shouldn’t be allowed, but I am saying that it served its purpose and brought light to how absurd it is that we are accepting this kind of oppression in modern society. Where ever it is committed.

And so, one might ask, why do I publish anything about this in my blog about digital marketing and advertising? Well, it was when I watched the response from the artist, covered by Aljazeera, that my mind started making its own absurd analogy.

It was perhaps his way of shrugging the critique off his shoulders with “It has been taken out of context”, that made me start to think of how old school marketeers explain failure of their campaigns and ideas. Artists, much like old timers in advertising, believe in ONE BIG IDEA that will revolutionize behaviors amongst consumers or spectators.

However, with the emergence of a more living and responsive, social media, all concepts need to utilize the response of the online users to bare the potential of changing behavior.

The problem arises when developing a website or a digital campaign and you hear arguments such as “Oh, it is the users who have misunderstood what we are trying to communicate… …there must be something wrong with them.”

The user NEVER misunderstands. But they always do. Meaning. You will never know what the users understand or how they understand your marketing campaign before they are actually confronted with your message. You then need to understand that in order to make your “message” come across, and make any kind of sense, you have to adapt to the response of those visitors or consumers.

Now it is the unwillingness to adapt to change and to consumer feedback that will continue to drive people away from your core message and mission. A reply is just a reply, but if the reply is “I don’t give a…”, the reply is as bad as to shut the hell up.

Which also brings me to a situation I am far too familiar too. It is when you meet up with a creative or a marketing person who doesn’t want to listen to the data evidence you bring to them. Their gut rules all, and no matter what you say, they are blind folded by their conviction that it is them and not the receiver of the message that is the judge of taste and success.

Now. I am not saying that artists should feel as inclined to change their master pieces as a result of how the public responds to them. I am just saying marketeers and advertisers should. In the space of digital marketing, we can know EXACTLY how users respond to anything we do or say. It is when we are willing and able to adapt to these responses that we become truly successful at what we do.

And however absurd the above post might be in its analogy, it still serves a purpose to put light on how things can become counter productive if one doesn’t allow for change to be the guide when working in the online environment.

April 8, 2012

8 Tactics on How to Launch a YouTube video

Sometimes we create campaigns supported by media. The media is aimed to drive traffic to whatever campaigns we have. In the case of using YouTube, an iPhone app or some kind of other product that is full of content that we assume will be consumed by the end user. However, in most cases, all of these media formats need to be launched in order to reach the end user. Ie. in every campaign, you need to launch the launch mechanism.

It sounds odd, but it really is the case now that the web is completely overhauled by content. Much of which is vastly more creative than that of what any agency could ever create. What the agency can do however, which a normal user does not think about, is to launch its content in a way which makes it pop up on the surface in a better way than other content.

This blog post is aimed at describing how to launch a YouTube video:

1. Publish it on Facebook

When publishing a video to Facebook you really need to try and engage your users more than if, let’s say, you were launching a photo. A video requires a “play” action and the content needs to be consumed over time. This is thus a higher threshold than a photo, considering the photo can be consumed instantaneously. Building a page with video content is thus a less recommendable method than with text and image publications.

1 a. Time for Posting YouTube videos to Facebook

Pick your timing – although you get more engagement at around 3 am on a photo, you will do a lot better publishing the video at night. Remember that people are at work or in school during the day and not able to watch a video the way they are able to react to a photo. Videos are typical evening content where the user is in front of their computer or able to play it out loud on their cellphone.

1 b. Increase visibility by tricking EdgeRank

You will fight EdgeRank as you will not get as many likes and comments on a video as on other posts. They watch it instead of like it. Thus you need to seriously think about what call to action you are inducing in the video. Both as the bottom third of the video display (something which I will explain in another post) as well as in the end frame. Remember to put a call to action to share or like the video in the end frames of it. Something such as “Like our page” or a question about the content of the video such as “What happened after 30 seconds – comment on our Facebook page post”.

1 c. Always ask for feedback on your Facebook page

Publish it and ask the user to give you feedback on something that happens 15 seconds into the video. Or ask them to tell you at what time a specific event happens in the video.

1 d. Explaining what the user should do with your YouTube video

In the comment you write with your video, you can write a 1. 2. 3. explaining how you want your user to interact with the content. It is always a good idea to write out EXACTLY what it is you want them to do. On each page you have the followers who will do whatever you tell them to, but they will not do it UNLESS you tell them too. This is extremely important to remember.

1 e. Posting a link back from YouTube to Facebook post

In the comments section of the YouTube-video, post a link back to your post on Facebook so that users can navigate to where they should be commenting easily. This will boost the EdgeRank of the story and thus it will become more visible on the Facebook platform.

2. Seed it to bloggers

Some people are talking about seeding as the case when they make their video viral. This is absolutely not the case. Seeding shall be seen as a media purchase to support the launch of your YouTube videos. What it really is all about is paying people to embed your video content in their website. Often, seeding companies target bloggers in their own network and put the video on autoplay, sometimes beneath the fold so that it starts playing with the visitor not even aware that there is a video on the page. I say – do not pay these companies – it is MUCH cheaper to build up an organization for this yourself.

2 a. Comment – don’t e-mail your YouTube video

When seeding a video to a blogger, do not send them an e-mail. Make it a comment on their blog that links back to your video. An e-mail takes as much time to write but you will not get the link value to your video if the e-mail lead to no result. Some people turn against this recommendation and want you to contact them via e-mail instead. My general experience however is that those people will not be satisfied whatever you do. If your goal is to boost a video, then you simply apologize and move on if you get complaints. Time is to valuable to you. One thing you should keep in mind though is that you should only post comments relevant to the content of that post. Google is pretty good at sorting relevance and although YouTube hasn’t caught up just yet, I am sure they will move in that direction as they are owned by Google. Thus, you do not want your work only have temporary effect and shall thus spend serious time sourcing before you start publishing your comments.

2 b. Motivation to the blogger

When you seed your video you already need some views which I talk about in the next section. As you usually have no relationship with these bloggers, you need to make them think that they are publishing something popular, or something that will become popular. Remember that their goal is to produce quality content for their users. All you should do is to motivate why this is relevant content. For the most part, large scale video seeding doesn’t leave you with the time to motivate individually, but the effect of it is vastly greater and thus it should be considered.

2 c. Don’t forget the keyword research

Before you start seeding, do your keyword research and URL collection so that it can be re-used in the future. If you already have a send list of engaged users then this is perfect. If you don’t have one, then you should start to collect one. Remember to treasure your seeders like the gold in your vault. Send them an update of the progress of the video and thank them many times. Please also write them an e-mail or two between the times you need help with seeding. If their engagement isn’t treated with respect they will leave you faster than a rabbit says “fuck”.

3. Buy views

There are a series of services online that sell you YouTube-views. Most of them have targeted views for country and other demographics. Some say that this is cheating, but it is nothing else than buying media as far as I am concerned. Large video seeding companies use these types of services regularly in order to boost view count before they seed the video to bloggers.

4. Forum posting

Some marketeers seem to have forgotten the power of the forum. There are several available software out there that can automatically create accounts for you on bbPress and several other such forum types based on keyword. You can thus define what kind of forums you want to create accounts on, then you can hit a button, go have a cup of coffee and then come back with registered accounts to start posting through. Don’t make the mistake that you only post a topic about your video, rather publish the video link as your profile link (most forums allow you to push a link in your profile), then start “bump”-ing popular threads written by others.

4 a. Creating your profile link back to YouTube

Ok. I will take that more slowly. In your forum profile. Copy and paste your link to the YouTube video you want to launch. Next to it write something that will induce people to click. If it doesn’t work the first time, then change the copy. Do not write “This is really AMAZING – Link”, rather use a call to action such as “This is what I do – Link”.

4 b. Bump-ing popular topics

The next step is to start “bump”-ing. The word “bump” is a term that belongs to the forum world. It means that you want to follow the thread, but you have nothing important to say at the moment. By writing bump you will get updates whenever something happens within the forum thread. This is totally acceptable and you have a higher rate of success if you do this kind of bumping than if you write generic comments such as “This is a really awkward discussion.. LOL..” which is regularly recognized as SPAM.

4 c. Making it count – the good profile

You should try to cover your profile by giving it a thorough profile description as well as finding a good profile image. Make sure the profile image you use is also used – if possible – somewhere on the video page.

5. YouTube commenting

YouTube commenting works. It is just that it takes a shit load of time. I would recommend you do this the first 15 minutes in the day for two weeks in order to build some traction to your video. Then you should stop. I haven’t tried any tool that does this without wasting too many good proxies too fast.

5 a. Stay updated with YouTube RSS

Remember to pull an RSS for the most current videos in the category you are posting in. Let’s say you are posting your video within Education. Then pull an RRS feed from the latest and most popular or fastest growing videos within that category. Then use that feed to stay updated on new videos. Go to each and every new video that is posted and write a comment. If you are able to be outrageous in your comment this is better. Some assignments doesn’t allow you to as you are building YouTube accounts for larger companies, however, if you can you shall. Otherwise make it kind of generic.

5 b. Publish link back to your YouTube video

Simple enough. Remember to publish the link leading back to your YouTube video

5 c. Thumb up your comment

Plus your comments to the top. Rarely any comments get thumbs up if the video doesn’t get a shit load of comments and commentators. In order to stick your comment to the top of the video page, you shall have 4-5 people who react to it as soon as you have posted it. If they click thumbs up on it, it will get stuck above the fold before the rest of the comments regardless if it was published previous to those other accounts. Over time, setup a network of people who thumb up each others videos. Then you might have to thumb up 5 videos per day, but in return have something like 100 thumbs at your disposal when you really need them.

6. YouTube Video responses

Video responses are a bit more tricky than commenting. YouTube has blocked you to only publish video responses to a certain set of videos. Sometimes they remove your video as a response if they don’t find it relevant enough. Thus when posting a video reply, make sure you only do it where it is highly relevant.

In a more thorough post I describe how to make video responses on YouTube here.

 7. Publishing update to your subscribers

If you have the luxury of having subscribers that have already signed up to your channel, then go ahead and publish an update to them at this point. I have described how to do this in a previous tutorial that you can find under the YouTube marketing section of this blog.

7 a. Increase your number of YouTube-subscribers

If you haven’t got any subscribers yet, there is one way that beats them all in order to build more and that is to subscribe to other peoples channels. I know… nothing sexy here… like me and I like you back :).

8. And all the other things important before you launch your YouTube video

8 a. YouTube video name

Remember to name you YouTube video correctly – PLEASE use the word Video in the title. If you want to appear in Google searches for video related searches, people use the word video, please use it in both your title and description.

8 b. Choosing your category

Remember to put your video in a category that is less popular than the one you want it to end up in later. You can always change this later on. If you want it to show up at all in the toplists without having a million views, then pelase don’t put it in the entertainment category.

April 7, 2012

3 Steps to Adding Facebook Like button to your website

If you are going to add a Facebook Like button to your WordPress blog, or any other site for that sake, the method is pretty darn simple. I would recommend you follow the following few steps.

1. Get the Facebook Like button code

The site you should visit to get the Like button on your website is the Facebooks center for Developers. There are three different types of boxes to choose between. Click around and you will get it soon enough.

2. Adding the code to your website

I suggest you select the HTML5 verified code. It might look a bit more scary than the iFrame option which is available, but it performs much better if you ask me.

Simply copy the first part of the code that looks like this:

Then copy that into your HTML-page where your <body> tag is. The body tag might be stuck between a lot of other code, so you do best in searching for it by using  + F on a Mac or Ctrl + F on a PC. Once you have found your body-tag, simply paste the code above beneath it so it looks something like this:

Secondly you add the second snippet of code where you want the button on your page. I have chosen to place it just underneath the title and date of my blog post.

3. Add the OG meta to your blog

In order for you to be able to control what is shared to Facebook, and possibly also get some more of that EdgeRank visibility juiced out of your links, you should add OpenGraph protocol to each of your pages.

OpenGraph protocol is something you should have on all of your pages really. The code looks something like this, and should be placed somewhere between the <head> and the </head> tags of your code.

<meta property="og:title" content="The title of your page" /> 
<meta property="og:type" content="website" /> 
<meta property="og:url" content="http://www.thelinktoyourpage.com" /> 
<meta property="og:image" content="http://theimagelinkyouwanttoshare.com/images/image.jpg" />

Regardless of whether or not you are using the Facebook Like button or not. If someone shares your link to Facebook, the OG controls what is being shared to the platform. Sharing my blogs about me page to Facebook, with OG, looks like this:

All OpenGraph standards can be found at the OpenGraph Protocol website. There are many more things you can control such as descriptive texts, playable formats etc. I suggest you play around and test it. A great place to test if you have implemented it correctly or not is if you go to Facebooks own debugger.

4. Changing the language of the Like Text and Customization

Now you might not want the Like text to say Like, but something in a specific language. I found a post from another dude or dudette that was awesome on the topic. You can find that one here: How to Add Facebook Like Button & Like Box for Different Languages

If you want to make it even a bit more advanced you should have a look at this post: How To Add a Custom Facebook Like Box to Your Site

March 22, 2012

Facebook Edge Rank changes?

It seems as though the more popular you get, the harder you have to work. Facebook has recently made some change to its edge rank making it difficult to grow as fast as before. I am still unsure what this update is about, but it most definitively have to do with change in frequency. Ie. if you post a similar number of posts at about the same time every day, you should have no problems with this – what it seems to be – new filter.

However, if you change it around, post at diferent hours of the day, or change the number of posts you are posting. More or less. You will end up with considerably less visibility. Perhaps this is all about my own paranoia, but if you have your own examples, please share in a blog post explaining them.

Example 1 happened on the 15th of March

The first example actually happened just a few days ago. I had a break in posting to one of the pages I administer for one day. The next day, when I posted to the wall, the number of likes, shares and comments were CONSIDERABLY lower. I waited a few days to have the insights update and noticed that the metric for “People talking about this” had been completely depleted that day.

Now, I am aware that it has to do with my posting creativity as well. However, this kind of radical change usually only has something to do with a change in some technical change. I mean… people were still talking about us, so, it wasn’t zero. However, it was considerably less.

In the above graph it is the second tip I am talking about. The first dip is explained by a stop in advertising and a start of organic page building tactics. (Yes. the look of the second part of the graph is what organic fan building should look like.) It is the second dip that is interesting in this case. You can first see that the member generation – “New likes” – curve is slowing down, then the “People talking about this” curve takes a sharp dive only to even out.

Remember – the Like-curve doesn’t show aggregates but the increase. Thus, if we would have a week where we would loose fans, the curve would be below the line. The “People talking about this” curve however is an aggregate. I cannot get anything out of it more than the rate of change in fan aggregation somehow effects your total visibility and that Facebook enacts some kind of filter when this change occurs. I will keep you posted once I get more data.

Example 2 happened on the 11th of March

The second example is more evident. As you can see below this page has a completely different story too it. I was slowly generating fans to the page by constant updates. Then I managed to get one of the posts extremely viral. Considering it is a very niche page, the fan/like count doesn’t increase relative to the viral expansion of the talk about the page. Ie. people might be talking about an image I posted, but they aren’t necessarily interested in becoming a constant follower of the page as what they liked only was relevant in a specific context.

What is interesting here is the sharp dive in the “People talking about this” curve. It was only one post hitting it big and it is as though Facebook just decided to filter it after about one week. This was on the 15th of March that the stats all of a sudden dropped.

Two days later, my steady influx of new likes decreased from approximately 100 per day to almost zero. I am scratching my head as to why. You can see I have managed to get the talk going again, but the number of likes tend to stay the same.

Conspiracy – not likely – but anyhow, here it goes

The conspiracy side of me wants to take this personally as this coincides with the behavior of a very negative post about Facebook I wrote on the 8th of March. I know it probably has nothing to do with it, but considering all of the pages I manage started showing wicked results – including my personal profile – after I posted that story to my own profile, I can but wonder.

For example – and still just saying, not accusing – the day after I posted the negative link to the FB-platform, some of my profile updates were filtered out by Facebook. This was on the 9th of March. Ie. I posted stuff to my own timeline that my colleagues couldn’t see when they visited my timeline. I know I am spammy at times, but Facebook please, before you enacted that filter, I had fun on Facebook getting some interaction going… and isn’t that the whole idea of it? If I post a lot and get a lot of interaction going… then why filter my posts? I don’t get it.

I don’t believe it is connected to what is happening on the pages right now. But what is evident is that Facebook is messing around with their Edge Rank or filters in one way or the other. As I said above, please share your examples!

March 19, 2012

Data Driven Marketing in an Election and Business

Continuing on my trail to promote data as a means of marketing, I turn to the Obama campaign. I know you’ve heard a lot from the Obama campaign, but I guess not as much about the data behind winning the campaign. Yes, the knocking on doors had its effect on the outcome, but did you know that over $500 million of the campaign budget came from online donations. That’s more than twice as much (152 million dollars) as came from offline donations. The video in this blog post explains some of how data was used in order to create a winning team for the Obama campaign.

I will extract some of the more interesting remarks made by Dan Siroker below in this post, and highlight how this relates to your business.

1. Define success in terms of measurable metrics

First they break the ultimate goal – ie. elected dude – into stuff needed to be in place for that to happen. In terms of the US election, those sub goals were defined as:

  • Recruit volunteers
  • Register voters
  • Canvas door-to-door
  • Make phone calls
  • Raise money

All of which is needed if you are to win an election on US soil. In terms of business, the ultimate goal might be a profit increase or an end year sales goal. In order for that to occur you need to:

  • Recruit great staff
  • Get leads to sign up for your services
  • Get retailers onboard
  • Make phone calls
  • Sell products

I think you get where I am going with that one. In the video, Dan focuses on the last one and tries to make some sense out of how they used data in order to win an election.

He starts out by showing a “user funnel”. A user funnel is basically a behavior of your visitor to the website. This means, the way your user behaves, clicks, waits, returns to your website. Usually you put up a goal which you want him or her to complete before they leave. In the video the ultimate goal is for the visitor to donate money. But they realize that they might be better off getting people to sign up for the e-mail first and then get the donations secondly.

So the initial funnel is: Website visitor -> E-mail signup -> Raise money

What they realized early was that they had to come up with quantifiable success metrics that would then help them optimize the website for the purpose of getting as much money per visitor as possible. They used some key metrics including cost per click leading to the website and e-mail sign up rate that led to two final KPIs in order to measure the success:

$ per page view

The dollar per pageview was determined by looking at how much money a user was likely to donate given they had visited a specific page. Once they know this number, they are able to calculate how much they can spend in order to get a visitor to that specific page. This is much like you should be thinking of your different pages on your website. How much money does this page make me? Not – how much money does my website make me.

You should think in terms of basket value. If a visitor has visited a specific page and you can determine that every visitor who visits that page either buys more or less from you, you can also determine what you are willing to pay – with positive ROI – to get a user to visit that page. Simple enough. Right?

$ per e-mail

This was virtually the same thing. But I will go through this second step a bit in more detail as he sort of runs it through a bit too fast in the presentation.

  • The number of recipients per e-mail
  • The opening rate of the e-mail times the click through rate
  • The conversion rate, ie. the people who donated from that e-mail click
  • Multiply that all together times the money they donated

2. Create a function for analysis purposes

Which gives you a rough amount of dollars per recipient. So, what this really means is the following example. Let’s say you have a send list of 100 000 recipients of which 20% open the e-mail. Of those, 50% click the link and of those 5% donate a total of 100 000 USD, we get the following formula.

RX*O*C*T=N

X = Dollars per e-mail

R = number of recipients

O = Opening rate

C = Click through rate

T = Transactions or number of conversions to donators

N = Total profits

This example: 100 000x * .2 * .5 * .05 = 100 000 USD

x is in this case the dollars per e-mail.

The importance of stating it as a function is that you are able to see how changes in one effect the rest of them. Here, you should really use regression analysis which you can really skip learning and simply use one available tool out there such as SPSS.

2 a. Analyzing the effects of changes in subscribers

Cause, think of it. Let’s say you only look at the send list subscribers and the outcome in USD. Let’s say you increase the number of subscribers only to realize your total donations remain the same. This means the dollar per user has really decreased. What you have to ask yourself is not only if you have the right subscribers, but if you are feeding them with the right types of messages.

So, although your send list grew, your messages do not make the income grow. Unless you look at it through all the steps you will be unable to make changes along the way necessary to increase your end game profits. It doesn’t matter how much you spend on getting more people to sign up unless you are able to figure out how to make more of them convert.

2 b. The case of the opening rate

Continuing with the example. Let’s say your opening rate has drastically decreased. Let’s say it has halved. If that is the problem, then perhaps your increase in subscribers might have effected your white list or delivery rate, or perhaps there is something wrong with the subject? All of which you need to analyze if you realize that it is the opening rate that has gone down.

Or perhaps it is the click through rate that has gone up or down. Or perhaps it is the conversion rate into donators that has gone sour. Either way you will know if you split each step of the user funnel into parts rather than looking at the nominal before and after.

2 c. The case of the bad subscriber

One interesting scenario occurs when you have improved your opening rate and your CTR, but you realize the visitors still aren’t converting into donating or paying customers. Or perhaps your donations even decrease. In this case you have to look at where the subscribers came from, what KIND of call to action you are using etc.

It is just like sourcing for the wrong kind of traffic from the search engines. You can get all the traffic in the world, but just because you rank number one for Britney Spears or Lady Gaga, doesn’t mean they will buy more of your kitchen hardware. Same goes for your e-mail campaigns. If they signed up thinking they would get images of pink zeebras – something I would sign up for – they are not very likely to buy your kitchen supplies either. Same thing goes for the “free stuff” e-mail sign ups out there. Sign up and get free… whatever.

Although a lot more people might be inclined to sign up, they might be less valuable to you in the long run as they do not buy. So although your cost per conversion into subscriber has gone down, your net effect on profits has been severely hurt.

What I am really trying to say is that a lot of subscribers or traffic might not be what you want. You might actually want less subscribers, or traffic, that you pay considerably more for, because they make you more money. A lot of traffic or subscribers might actually cause you a negative ROI. I don’t know if I am making my point here, but I hope I am.

3. Focus on your weakest links

Once you have your analysis methodology setup Dan argues says you need to start focusing on your weakest links. When he started working with the Obama campaign, they had a very strong number of both visitors who donated as well as subscribers who donated. What they didn’t have was enough subscribers. Or moreover, the subscription rate was too low, meaning, out of every 100 visitors who came to the website, the conclusion was, more of them should sign up to the e-mail send list.

3 a. Don’t get fat, stay smart

In fat markets, usually in early stages, where competition is not fierce, vendors or retailers generally do not care about fixing the weakest links. They work with the stuff that makes them the most profits. Ie. the strongest end of the rope. They usually believe that it is where they are strong that they can make the most money. And perhaps they are right at the time being, but I have seen numerous occations where they end up crying in a corner as a result of it. Cause although the sweet taste of sugar might blind you from looking over your shoulder, you SHOULD know that were ever there are profits, competition will follow.

If you do not have your stuff in order, your weakest links will come to haunt you. (I really hope some of you readers out there know exactly what cases I am talking about… yepp… I hate to say “I told you so…”…) One thing with digital is that it is never to late to change. If your competitors managed to move passed you, there is still room for you to retake your position.

So. In the video, Dan takes you through a series of multivariable tests they did on the website. They optimized for an increased subscription rate going from an 8.26% subscription rate on a page looking like this:

They started out by optimizing the text on the button as well as changing the image around. They had some videos in the campaign that you really have to watch the video inserted above in order to have a look at again. However, if you forward to about 18 minutes into the video this example should be there.

3 b. What to take away from the tests they did

The button saying “Learn more” was victorious, for the media image, the family message did the best. One interesting thing is that every single video did worse than any of the images. Perhaps not a general conclusion to draw, but you should really think about where and when you insert your call to action in your video. Always think about the bottom third – the space where you can insert a banner with a call to action in any video… just like YouTube does forcefully with a pop-in, so can you in your actual video – and you need to remember to put a call to action there. Make it evident so that even the user who does not want to look to the end of the video, knows what to do next.

In the end, they increased their conversion rate by 40%. From 8.2% to 11.6%. Over time, think about what such improvements could do to your business.

3 c. Why epic content sometimes isn’t enough

So, as you can see from the example, the probably most compelling video gets NO traction what so ever with regards to conversion rate. You MUST realize that even the best of content put in the wrong context, makes absolutely no sense. When I discuss gut in one of my previous posts on data driven marketing I also discuss the fact that although your gut feels something you HAVE to be ready to capitulate to the mere facts of data.

Thus, you can make a really compelling video, but if it actually hurts your conversion rate as it pulls eyeballs from the goal you are trying to get your visitors to perform, then TAKE THAT SHIT DOWN, cause it is really shit if it doesn’t help you achieve your goals.

And YES that video might have been what made a person come to your website in the first place. But it might not be what makes your visitor convert. (Although you probably must work with maintaining scent so that they know that they’ve come to the right place.)

4. Never over-generalize

In the video, about 27 minutes in, there is a really great lesson to be learned which is Don’t over generalize. In modern digital marketing and analytics you can actually serve different content to different users depending upon their behavior. If you spend time doing this, which would cost you probably one tenth of your standard banner budget – which is completely useless if you don’t do any of this – you should be able to increase your profits significantly.

Here are some of the results from the video showing different users acting on different calls to action:

Thus, depending upon where and who you are as a visitor, you react differently to the messages being fed to you. Remember that this is a very simple example and that the sophistication in the way you decide to do it can be even greater. Let’s say you would run different calls to action on returning vs new visitors. What if you would do it for visitors who were returning and who had signed up for something previously. What if you could increase profits of a second purchased based on changed copy in a button fed to people making small initial purchases.

All of which is possible, but you have got to optimize for it.

5. Take advantage of circumstances

What he argues is simply that you should take advantage of all those small things that happen out there even though you haven’t planned for them. Moving away from big idea marketing you have to be able to make changes and move on circumstances that occur in your world. If an opportunity appears, just act upon it with a tactical movement.

Sometimes something that happens in your surroundings might effect you as well. If your competitor starts to run TV-ads, have a look and see if they bought the PPC matching the increased search volumes that come as a result. Perhaps they optimize their budgets for the day whilst their TV-spot run at night. You might be able to counter their offer with a really nice counter offer so that when someone search for the competitors product you put yours on top of the search engine with a cheaper price, a better delivery circumstance or simply… you’re there… whilst your competitor burnt all their money on creating the traffic and not taking care of it.

6. Question assumptions

Look at the example about 31:30 into the video above. This is basically asking you to think about your value proposition. One of the key drivers into making someone convert on your website is to offer them something that they want. I know this sounds extremely idiotic to say, but many of you still have trouble offering a customer anything at all, yet alone something they actually feel tempted to buy.

Change it around. Work towards an increased ROI rather than a number of sold items. Look at your costs and what brings you the best profits. Then question it all again and test it until you are blue and red from starting to doubt yourself to much.

Finally

I think this video is great! It is not good, but it is great. The only thing that concerns me is that there are a million people talking about the Obama campaign as something successful with regard to social media, but this video only has 7000 something views. That is shameful!! Now go ahead and share it as it should be seen.

 

March 13, 2012

Active and Passive KPIs in a Data driven marketing campaign

So, yes, you probably read my post on data driven marketing strategy. If not, I suggest you start there. However, if you already read it, just continue reading. This blog post is about KPIs. Most people know about setting goals, hardly anyone sets them correctly, but they know that there are such things called goals. Goals are evaluated at the end of a certain time frame. The metrics, that generally qualify whether or not you are on the right track, are in layman’s terms called KPIs. In this blog post I would like to split the concept of KPIs into two different usage classes. Passive and active KPIs.

1. Passive KPIs for Data driven marketing campaigns

A passive KPI is the classical indicator we use in order to say whether or not we are on the right track. It might be as simple as the nominal number of visitors to a website, into being quite complicated calculations of changes in frequency of those same visitors. Regardless of what they measure exactly, they are measured and compared with a set of goals you have defined at the beginning of the project.

I like to call these passive KPIs as they actually only tells you whether or not you should do something. You do not use them for anything else than evaluation of the value you have created. The KPIs in themselves do not create value. They simply measure, and help you change whatever you are doing accordingly.

An Example of conversion optimization
In a data driven campaign this might mean you publish one set of copy sentences to your landing page. Your metrics tell you that your conversion rate (which in this example is a KPI) is 2% whilst your goal was 3%. Your metrics also tell you that you have a normal bounce rate of approximately 50%. This indicates that people are not converting, however, they seem to be interested in looking around. Regardless, you are not obtaining your goal by hanging around and so you need to start working on improving.

You think for a while and come up with the hypothesis that the page titles are the problem and that they should be tested versus a set of other sentences. You think  again, take out your notepad – yes, you are analogue for a while – yes, cause you’re an anally nostalgic copywriter with narcissistic tendencies – yes, I am getting out of line – yes, I am not writing what I should be writing – now, stop it Jesper – well, ok  – and start writing the new sentences.

You come up with a set of changes and set up your A/B test with Google websiteoptimizer. You find after a while that your conversion rate is slowly getting better with the new copy, and so you decide to implement it. You then implement changes after changes after changes until you have killed the goals you and your bosses or clients have set up and you become the company hero.! YEY.

So, that’s an example of how to use passive KPIs and what they represent in a data driven marketing campaign.

Oh… sorry… what was that? Landing page optimization is not marketing? ….

please leave – click here to exit!

2. Active KPIs in a Data driven marketing campaign

Now, whilst passive KPIs are there to help you know if you are on the right track or not, active KPIs are there to give you additional value. Whilst passive KPIs are metrics for internal use, active KPIs are there for external use.

A perfect example of an active KPI is a user rating that generates a toplist. The toplist help your users in making a decision about the service they are to choose. Another example can be how many complaints a certain product has received or how many customers choose to buy that product in a choice of three specified ones.

These KPIs help your customers and if you select them properly and display in a logic way, they can make all the difference for you.

Take the example of this statement:

“People like our products.”

and

“1 million people like our products.”

The first one lacks the Key Performance Indicator that the second one have. In comparison, I would say that the second one enables me to say that YES, your product is popular, whilst the first one still makes me wonder.

The point I am making is that by using KPIs that are changing constantly, you can create a lot better copy and thus also stories for your users to consume, believe, share or buy into.

The point I am making is that by using KPIs that are changing constantly, you can create a lot better copy and thus also stories for your users to consume, believe, share or buy into.

The example of the toplist is even better. As the data changes, the purchases in your store will change as people tend to conform to what other people do. Some marketeers use this for “evil doing” as they amend the top lists manually (expert, panel or simply made up ratings) to meet their profit desires. However, if used properly this doesn’t have to be the case.

You can compare similar products and display the active KPI that users actually have generated that meets your purposes. If all else fails and you want to sell your most expensive product then use “check-out value” as the KPI you display in the toplist. “People who have made the greatest purchases bought:” What you compare in your toplist can be changed, but please do not change the correctness of your data. That will only jump up and bite you in the butt eventually.

There are other examples of active KPIs. Let’s say you are running a Facebook page, then use the number of Likes in the previous post in the next one: “…last post was liked by 15673 people, let’s see if we can beat that.” Perhaps pointless to the message you are trying to convey, however, not to the reach of your message.

Does it sound like I am rambling on about something that is self explanatory? YES!!! I am. But why is it that we still see campaigns, communication, landing pages, websites etc. etc. from companies that turn to the creative agency instead of their inbound marketing team when they fail with yet another marketing campaign? In your metrics, data center, CRM, e-mail database, on your servers. There are thousands shapes and forms of data.

What you decide to do with the data is then limited to your own creativity.

What you decide to do with the data is then limited to your own creativity.

I would like to meet a creative director who is as interested in data mining as they are in what the company is trying to communicate, their history and their product qualities. I would like to meet a copywriter who’s first question to the client is “So, what’s your data set like? Any cool KPIs I can use to spice up my punch line?”

Still a long way to go before we are there

But no. Most companies still don’t care and most schools still don’t educate people to think about something simple as this. Thus, we are stuck with BIG IDEA marketing that either fails more or fails less. We are stuck with CTRs below 0.3% on banners. We are stuck with conversion rates on landing pages of 3%. We are stuck with creative video formats that don’t lead to sharing between users. We’re stuck.

As usual I am not sure if I made any sense or not. But please start thinking in terms of active and passive KPIs and your data sets will become a lot more dynamic and usable when creating your communication concepts.

March 8, 2012

Facebooks new Page Guidelines

When Facebook made the Timeline available for brands earlier last week, my head went into YEY-mode. Finally we could utilize graphics to drive engagement and not only words. The timeline made available a workflow, rather than just posting. As a marketeer you could build engaging campaigns where the user got several chances to opt-in.

Cover Photo restrictions on Facebook

However, as with most things Facebook, things weren’t what they seemed to be at first. The new Page guidelines for Facebook is a joke. Why would I, honestly, want to convert my page into Timeline if I am not allowed to use the benefits of the timeline? Here is what I mean:

Covers may not include:

i.    price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it on socialmusic.com”;
ii.    contact information such as a website address, email, mailing address, or information that should go in your Page’s “About” section;
iii.    references to Facebook features or actions, such as “Like” or “Share” or an arrow pointing from the cover photo to any of these features; or
iv.    calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends.

Not allowed

Wtf… Why would I want to move my Like button from above the fold to below the fold with a cover photo, if I am not allowed to direct the attention of the user to the new position of the “Like” button? I wanted to utilize the newly added space to drive engagement. By doing this they severely cripple my options in doing that. Not only because they have limited what I can write in my cover, but also because this limits my users usability of the page. If they click an ad or a story from my page, then they most likely want to either read more or Like the page. If I am not allowed to direct them towards completing this goal, then the page becomes worse than it originally should have been.

I am 100% sure this retarded kind of behavior from Facebooks side will hurt their business in the long run. I am also fully aware that it has everything to do with the fact that they are based in the US and that their sales organization mostly consist of people from old display ads sales forces. They do not know how to sell creative campaigns and products and thus Facebook limit creative marketeers to utilize their own creativity in creating campaigns. “Buy ads or get booted” is the clear message from Facebook. The old “build user value and win” does not hold anymore.

However, since the effect of even buying ads will decrease as a result of these changes, I really wonder how they have thought here. Perhaps it is legal getting the upper hand of the internal fights?

All the rules governing you when creating your campaigns

Last but not least, they have changed texts in all of these guidelines and I recommend you to read all of them carefully. Facebook, could you please at least