Increase Engagement on Your WordPress Blog

Update – Hat tip to Aaron Jorbin for catching that you need to be an Admin to do this and you can’t be using MultiSuite.  If you are using MultiSuite then you need to be a super admin.

The best content on the web is not limited to big publishers, some of the best writers on the web are really passionate bloggers.  One of the challenges we bloggers have is to keep our visitors engaged on the site and introduce these visitors to otherwise undiscoverable content.

At AddThis, we are trying to solve this problem with the Trending content box.  With AddThis installed on 14M+ domains and seeing 1.3B users our data network and data processing capabilities can surface the most social content for your WordPress blog.  You may be asking, “how hard is it for me to do this?”  As with any of our tools, they are super easy to install and you get awesome real-time analytics as well.

Here are the step by step instructions to add the Trending content box to your WordPress Blog.

  1. Go to AddThis.com/get/trending
  2. Sign in with your AddThis account, if you don’t have an account or don’t use our sharing tools, sign up.  It’s free and enables visitors to share your content to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and 300+ other services.
  3. Customize the Trending content box.  Pick the colors of the box, the size and how many links you want to display.
  4. Copy the code and log into your WordPress blog.
  5. Choose Appearance->Widgets and drag the Text widget to your Main Sidebar
  6. Paste the copied code into the Text Widget and hit Save.

Your blog’s top social content will now appear in the sidebar of your blog helping you keep visitors engaged.  If you are looking for more advanced features or want to hit the API for the feed directly, checkout these docs.

 

The Importance of Twitter during Real-Time Events for Brands

Over the past 6 weeks I have led our data analysis of real-time events at Clearspring such as the Super Bowl, the Grammy’s and the Academy Awards.  We have been live tweeting the data behind the events using many different signals across our network.  One trend is becoming more apparent during these real-time events which is the importance of Twitter.

The reason for Twitter’s rise during these events can be attributed to a few factors:

  1. More people are watching these events with a phone or tablet next to them instead of a laptop.  Twitter’s integration into these platforms especially iOS is important to note.
  2. Twitter’s mobile apps are simple to use and the 140 character limit actually plays in their favor during these events.  Short updates, re-tweets and replies make it easy to “be social” without taking attention away from the TV screen.
  3. Twitter is where the celebrities are.  During these events whether they be award shows, political debates or sporting events, musicians, actors, writers and athletes are sharing their opinions with the world and it is the best way to follow along.

Here is one example showing the amount of social activity by service during and immediately after Adele’s Grammy performance.  Twitter activity is almost two times bigger than Facebook.

So how can brands take advantage of Twitter during real-time events?  Brands can take advantage of Twitter’s popularity by bidding on promoted hashtags, accounts and tweets related to the event that draw attention back to your brand.  The other obvious play is to leverage celebrities that will be tweeting about the event to mention your brand or use your promoted hashtag or tweet.

Marketing via Twitter and using Twitter for earned media is still nacent, but you can tip the court in your favor by taking advantage times when Twitter users are highly engaged.

My Personal 2011 Infographic

We had a great idea back in September when we were creating the 5th Birthday Infographic for AddThis, and planning the year end infographic we release in December each year, that wouldn’t it be great if we could give our publishers their own infographic.  The design and development team of Jeff, Foo and Aaron did a great job of getting these graphics out to our publishers this week.  Now publishers who use AddThis can have a nice recap for their 2011 that they can post on their blogs  Here is mine:

AddThis Recaps the Year in Sharing

2011 was an incredible year for social sharing.  I spent the free time over the past 2 weeks processing incredible amounts of data (we process 70+ terabytes per week!), and Jeff did an awesome job turning my spreadsheets into a great infographic.  I am really excited to share with you the great nuggets we were able to find amongst the 11MM+ publishers and 1.2B+ users who share through AddThis.

2011-addthis-trends-infographic-600px

WordPress or Tumblr, Which Is the Right Blog Platform To Get Visitors?

A few friends recently have asked which platform they should use to start a blog.  Invariably the decision comes down to WordPress or Tumblr.  Currently I am using WordPress that I have hosted at Dreamhost.  I have used both blogging platforms extensively and have observed some really big differences in each platform’s ability to help you get visitors.  Here are some observations I have made using my own blogs’ data and from data we have internally at AddThis.

  • According to Google Analytics, my Tumblr blog has no Search Engine Optimization (SEO) juice.  I have almost zero referrers from a search engine.  This means the only way Tumblr gets me new visitors is from social traffic or people manually typing in my address.  WordPress does a great job with SEO, and with the All in One SEO Pack making sure my posts are crawl-able is very easy.
  • Visitors are more likely to share from WordPress blogs than they are from Tumblr.  WordPress’s platform is easier to customize where the sharing buttons appear on each post increasing the likelihood to share.  Shameless Plug:  AddThis supports both WordPress and Tumblr and we give you tips on how to get the most out of sharing with each platform.
  • When sharing from Tumblr does occur, it delivers social traffic, and in one specific case it delivers a knockout.  When I see someone share my Tumblr blog post to StumbleUpon, it is amazing to see how much traffic that arrives on my site from StumbleUpon.  A single share drives on average, 500 views, which is amazing.  On WordPress a single share to StumbleUpon drives 3 views on average.  I have asked people at StumbleUpon and Tumblr why that may be and neither company could explain it.
Tumblr’s popularity continues to grow, and if they can get me more SEO juice the platform would be attractive.  In the meantime, WordPress does a better job at delivering all three types of traffic (direct, social and search).  If your audience skews younger, and if you don’t care about SEO juice, Tumblr is your platform.
If you want to move your blog from one platform to another here are two tools I recommend:

Using Social Media Trends to Help You Get A Job

On November 15th, I am going to be speaking at the University Club of DC on behalf of Syracuse University about how social media is changing the way we network and get jobs.  I participated on a panel back in April on a similar topic at American University’s Social Learning Summit.

About 3 years ago, companies started wising up to using social networks to promote their brand and connect with customers.  These channels opened up a new form of 2 way conversations, whether companies wanted that or not.  The exciting thing about this new way of interacting with customers was that it created entire new teams within companies usually led by someone with the title “Social Media Manager.”

Fast forward 18 months, and these same channels are no longer for B2C companies to connect with customers.  These social channels have given companies or brands the ability to reach customers with offerings, loyalty rewards, even the ability to view job postings.  On the other end of the conversation is you.

When you create a profile on a social network, you in effect are creating a brand.  My Facebook profile, my Tweets, this blog, it is a representation of me and my brand.  Your online brand can work for you or against you, and knowing how and when to use it can greatly improve your chances at making key connections and getting a job.

I can’t wait to share my insights on the tools we use and the trends we see in when it come time to getting a job and networking.  To register for the event click here.  If you can’t make it out to the event, you will be able to follow along on twitter via #SUDCSocialMedia.

My iPhone4S after 3 weeks

I had an iPhone 3GS for 2+ years and for a short time while still at AOL, I had an iPhone4.  When I turned in my AOL iPhone4 in December, I decided to grin and bear it until the next iPhone came out.  So was my game plan of waiting worth the wait?

There is no discernable difference between iPhone4 and iPhone4S on the surface, however, it only takes a few minutes of using the phone to know there have been some important improvements.

  • The connection speed is much faster.  Loading webpages, getting email, it’s all just much faster.
  • Getting my location is much faster, so loading Google Maps, Foursquare, Facebook Places, just works so much better.
  • The camera rules.  From videos to pictures, the quality of photos I am taking now with the iPhone is as good as my point and shoot.  Take a look for yourself:

Sunset with the iPhone 3

Sunrise with the iPhone4S

Here are some of the things that have not won me over yet:

  • While everyone is fawning over Siri, I have not really used it.  I think it has tremendous potential, especially once application developers can start fully taking advantage of it.
  • iCloud works, but it does not feel like a finished Apple product.  I can’t see what photos have synced via a web page and overall managing what is being synced between my 4+ devices was not as easy as it could be.
  • I had to do a full restore on my wife’s phone because every time we loaded a photo album the app would crash.  We could not delete the photos, nor could we restore from a backup.  The full restore seems to fix thing.

Moving from iPhone3 or 3GS to iPhone4S is a no brainer, but I would definitely hold off on moving from the iPhone4 to iPhone4S.  The camera, Siri and the better speed is not worth the upgrade in my opinion.

5 Years of Sharing, millions of domains, billions of users, trillions of views

We celebrated a birthday this month, as AddThis turned 5 years old.  In 5 years we have seen over 1.7 trillion views of our tools, the fall of MySpace, and the rise of Facebook and Twitter.  AddThis goes way beyond simple sharing tools.  We process over 70 TBs of data a week so that our publishers can learn what impact their content is having on the social web.

As the director of product for AddThis for the last 10 months, it is amazing to see the evolution of such a simple set of tools become something so essential that over 10 million publishers worldwide use our product.  Every day is a fun challenge of building a product for over 1.2 billion users.

Five years in Internet time feels like an eternity, and the data we have can clearly show and predict trends happening across the web.  The infographic we released today shows some of those trends.  It will be fun to see what trends emerge over the next 5 years.



My memories of Steve Jobs

I just finished putting my daughter to bed tonight and I come down to my office and I see the news.  ”Steve Jobs has passed away at 56.”  I have never felt so sad about someone passing away that I only met a couple of times.  His impact on my life goes well beyond the 30 minutes or so we spent in a conference room.

Everyday I put an iPhone in my pocket, and use my Mac to organize family photos, and my MacBookPro for work.  The first Apple hardware I ever used was in 1st Grade, in 1985.  I don’t remember much about it, but I know I enjoyed my time on the computer.  It probably even captured my attention enough to want to write software 14 years at AOL.

From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team

From an early visit on the Apple Campus with the iChat Team

It was at AOL, that I would get a change to work closely with Apple and get the chance to initially see him, and then eventually meet him.  I was always impressed that you could find Steve walking around campus, in the Mac Cafe eating lunch with the troops, etc.  My first encounter with Steve was during a visit in 2006.  I was riding in a car with a colleague who will remain unnamed, and as we were pulling out of the visitor lot in front of 1 Infinite Loop, we nearly ran over Steve Jobs.  We were all so stunned we just looked at each other.

Later in my career at AOL, I got to meet Steve and I after I got over my nervous excitement, he was one of the most genuinely passionate persons about Apple products and technology.

Steve’s legacy goes beyond the physical technologies we all use.  His commencement speech at Stanford University, the movies from Pixar, and the huge influence he has had over leaders in the tech community today.  The world today is a lesser place with his departure, my condolences go out to Steve’s family, friends and my friends at Apple.  Thanks for everything Steve.

Oh the humanity…iPhone5 is actually called iPhone4S, Why does it matter?

I have read at least a dozen different blog posts in the last hour from different sources about how Apple let us down today with iPhone4S.  Please, can we stop this?  Yesterday I wrote that Apple was going to call the next version iPhone4S, and that was just fine with me.

Of course after today’s reaction, Apple should have called the phone iPhone5 or iPhone10.  The point is version numbers of a product are always blown out of proportion.  It reminds me of the book and movie The Right Stuff, when Chuck Yeager broke Scott Crossfield’s speed record of Mach 2.0 by flying at Mach 2.44, no one cared because the “media likes a nice round number.”

Enough, let’s move past this.  The new iPhone is significant and despite what the media thinks, the phone is going to be the most popular mobile device sold in the 4th quarter. Here are my favorite features from today’s announcement:

  • Siri is going to be awesome to try.  I am skeptical that any voice recognition will work well, but the demo I got of Siri previous to today was better than any other attempt.  When I have seen people use voice recognition software in the past, they change the way they talk, to sound like a robot almost to interface with the device, but Siri is definitely different.
  • The camera rules, and the apps that go with the camera make it as good or better than point and shoot cameras.  The cold/warm start times to get the camera loaded for a picture is very impressive too.
  • More power and more speed for applications to use and for users to access information across the net.  Though it was disappointing that Apple did not deliver a 4G/LTE iPhone.
  • Most people will say the find your friends feature is lame and that Foursquare, Facebook and others have this market cornered, but the truth is that I might use this feature more for knowing where my friends and family are when they are running late or where my wife is when we go to a shopping mall.
I think there is a difference between pleasing the media versus getting consumers excited.  Apple will always focus on the latter and that should be applauded.  When people walk into the Apple store and when they see their friends using the new iPhone,  they are going to want one.