Friday, July 22, 2011

26 Tips for Using Images to Engage Fans and Followers

social media how toYou’ve heard this: A picture is worth a thousand words.” But can it actually help you engage with customers and prospects?

In this post, I’ll share ways you can ensure your images provide the best experience they can; ones that will help keep the conversation flowing.

Among the topics covered in this post are tools, tips and strategies that can be used to enhance the visual representation of your business.

As I’ve done in the other posts in the 26 Tips series, this post provides an easily digestible A-Z guide to which you can return time and again.

A-Z Guide

#1: Adverts

Location, location, location. Talk about good real estate. You can use the Facebook photo strip space for pictures that serve as adverts for your business. You can include descriptions, links and calls to action.

In the post How to Use the Facebook Photo Strip on Your Fan Page, you can learn more about optimal sizes for photo strip images.


The Facebook photo strip is prime real estate and a great place for free business advertisements.

Watch how Make It In Music created them in this helpful video.

#2: Brand awareness

Ann Smarty suggests watermarking your images to protect your brand and increase brand awareness. She recommends a number of tools to get the job done; e.g., Fast Watermark and Photo Watermark.

fast watermark

Fast Watermark is a quick and simple tool that allows you to add a watermark to your photos.

#3: Creative commons

The service through Flickr makes it possible for users to offer their work under a creative commons license where people can search through images under each type of license: attribution, noncommercial, no derivative works and share alike. Before using a creative commons image, be sure to check out the license.

#4: Digital art

Greg Finn writes that digital art is a staple in social media news sites and suggests that design-related images should be “high resolution and content should be truly extraordinary.” He describes four examples of design images typically used in social media: design art, graffiti, web design and fonts. One outstanding example he references was created by Kevin Hulsey for Royal Caribbean, which can be viewed on his site, where you not only see a representation of the full ship but can go cabin by cabin through the ship. Pretty impressive!

#5: Effects

Create interesting effects with your images to help them stand out in the crowd. There are countless apps which can help to create all kinds of effects; e.g., collages, high dynamic range rendering, tiles, vintage, sketches and interesting textures. If you work on a Mac, you can check out the photography apps online.

#6: Facebook Photos Plus Comments

Photos and comments are the perfect duo for Facebook. While you may think you have the most fantastic photo to post on Facebook (and you might), sometimes it won’t be enough to stand on its own. As, Jim Lodico writes in his post, 6 Tips to Increase Your Facebook Edgerank and Exposure, ”Photos and videos show up in the Facebook new feeds as thumbnail images. Due to their size, they almost require interaction as users click on them to make them large enough to see. Be sure to add a comment that encourages users to open the photo and add comments of their own.”

sme facebook

Use photos that represent your business.

#7: Google index

Text isn’t the only thing that Google indexes. That’s right. Google indexes your images too. Images are a very powerful way to add more Google juice to your site’s search ranking. Panda’s post 9 Ways of Optimizing Your Site for Image Search says, “If you have optimized your images correctly, you can get yourself a very attractive top 10 position by tagging your images correctly.”

Fun Tip: You can check how many pictures Google has indexed from your site by going to, and replacing “” with your domain name.

sme google image

Google found 2,750 images on Social Media Examiner in 0.8 seconds!

#8: Hipstamatic

If you’re on the go and want to take some interesting photos with your iPhone, Hipstamatic is a great app worth exploring. Photographer Stephanie Roberts lists it as one tool to fuel your creativity in her article in Digital Photo magazine. She says, “Hipstamatic mimics the unique style of vintage prints characterized by vignettes, blurring, textured edges and oversaturated colors created with the original analog plastic camera. Using a square-format viewfinder, the app lets you switch ‘lenses,’ ‘flash’ and ‘film’ with the swipe of a finger. I often shoot with Hipstamatic because I like composing images in the square-format viewfinder and I like the creative constraint of choosing the ‘film’ and ‘lens’ before I shoot.”

Rich Brooks from Flyte talks about Hipstamatic and other apps in this video from 207, the evening news magazine on southern Maine’s NBC affiliate, WCSH.

#9: iPhoneography

Stephanie Roberts, author of The Art of iPhoneography: A Guide to Mobile Creativity, gives a number of compelling reasons for seeing the iPhone camera as a powerful creative device for photographers. My personal favorite is: “You rarely go anywhere without it, which means you increase the odds of your ability to capture fleeting magic moments as you move through the day.”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I think I should have brought my digital camera when I remember that my iPhone, the constant friend and companion, is ready and waiting and very up for the task at hand!

Stephanie suggests loosening up and following your instincts and crafting your toolkit with apps to fuel your creativity. She recommends Photo fx from Tiffen, Iris Photo Suite, Hipstamatic and Adobe Photoshop Express.


Think of iPhoneography as a mobile method for making art as you move through life.

#10: Join the community and be social with your photos

Stephanie Roberts also recommends creating an Instagram presence. “Instagram is a rapidly growing social network of iPhoneographers sharing images in real time. The Instagram app displays a chronological feed of photographs shared by users you choose to follow. You can use Instagram to shoot an image (or choose an image from your photo library), apply an image filter (or not) and quickly share the image with your followers. Instagram also can automate image sharing to your online journal, or your Twitter or Facebook accounts.”


Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share through pictures.

Steve Kovach’s post, HOW TO: Use Instagram for Your Business recognizes the ways businesses can use Instagram to make their photos searchable with hashtags. As he says, “This is fun for the average user, but a huge win for brands that want to get more attention with the Instagram crowd.” He offers four tips for leveraging hashtags for your brand on Instagram: host a contest, target people by interest, create an RSS feed and encourage participation.

News organizations are using Instagram, too. In this recent post, Anthony Quintano, the community manager for @NBC News, offers three tips: upload original photos that share a unique perspective, thank and follow other Instagram users and search for user content.

hashtag socialmedia

You can also search for hashtags that interest you. For example, see who has tagged their photos #socialmedia.

#11: Keywords

Where would we be without keywords? They’re everywhere we search today. But when it comes to searching for the perfect image, they become even more important to understand. Getty images put together a very comprehensive guide to help users search for images. Whether you’re looking on Getty Images or not, the concepts are important to consider. For example, they suggest using keywords related to concepts, topics, people, age, sayings, image and footage styles, editorial-specific terms and human emotions. They offer advice for refining your search; e.g., combine terms, be creative, editorial and footage.

#12: Link

This may be an obvious piece of advice, but nevertheless it’s worth mentioning. Users have become accustomed to rolling over images in hopes that they will be able to navigate to a destination. So why not link the screenshot and take users directly to the website. This is particularly useful on web roundup posts. In this roundup, “The Art of Facebook Page Design,” the images represent the artwork of 50 Facebook pages. When the user wants to see more about the Facebook page, he or she can easily navigate to the page by clicking on the image.

facebook art

Link screenshots directly to the website.

#13: Movies

Images needn’t be stills. With a variety of tools, you can create short movies with a series of photos, add music, embed on your blog, link on Facebook and wow, think of the impressions you can make. One such tool is Animoto.

Here’s a good tutorial by mentorMichel.

#14: Networking sites

Looking for a way to keep track of the images you’ve shared on different social networking sites? There are several options to help you. One such product is GRID, which “fetches all your photos from different social networks and lists them out by week. Currently GRID can rewind your memories from Facebook, dailybooth, Instagram, picplz, twitpic and yfrog.”

Pixable, another fun service, makes it possible to view your friends’ photos shared on Facebook. Young writes in the post, View Facebook Photos with Pixable, “For every photo you can see on the Pixable website, you can also like it, read its comments, comment it and see who is tagged in it. Very enjoyable, especially when your friends share many beautiful photos of themselves.”

wall grid

See all of your images in one place.

#15: Optimize

In the post 9 Ways of Optimizing your Site for Image Search, we’re advised to: use descriptive file names, use the html alt tag, add descriptive text close to the picture, keep the most important images close to the top headline or title, put photos within articles and blog posts away from navigational elements, do not add code to break out of frames, use images that read well when thumbnailed, make the photos accessible, and use social photo sites like Flickr with links back to the relevant page on your site.

#16: Profiles

The placement of social icons on blogs is an important consideration. Cindy King points out in her post, 19 Ways to Use Images to Enhance Your Blog, “A blog is considered a social media platform and you want to make it easy for readers to connect with you on the social platforms they feel most comfortable with. This is why many blogs have easy-to-recognize social icons in a prominent position.”

#17: Quality of experience

While we’ve been talking largely about images and photos so far in this post, Greg Finn suggests six formats for informative images that work in social media: charts/graphs, flow charts, how-to’s, maps, screenshots, and guides. “The key for these images is to be easy to consume and to be comprehensive. The images should not only be helpful, but should also be designed well. Great design can make an ordinary informative image turn into an essential resource.”

#18: Resize images and use same sizes

Greg Finn offers great advice for using the same size for each image in your piece. Go a step further and make it part of your editorial standards and request that all images have the same dimensions. As Greg says, “This gives your article a more professional feel and gives the submissions a much more uniform look. Never use a jumble of different image sizes; your story will look much more amateur.”

#19: Screenshots

Sometimes nothing says it better than a screenshot, the “image taken by the computer to record the visible items displayed on the monitor, television, or another visual output device.” (Wikipedia) Screenshot images are often used to demonstrate a point and show users how to complete a task. Another powerful feature of screenshots is the ability to annotate them, and this is where you might want to explore software options. Recently I’ve started using SnagIt by TechSmith, which I’ve used in this post. The annotating features really help add pizzazz.

snagit example

Annotate screenshots to demonstrate a point.

#20: Twitter

As discussed in the post, 26 Twitter Tips for Enhancing Your Tweets, images can be shared on Twitter via a number of Twitter image sharing services, SMS or email, Brightkite or FriendFeed, Skitch and Encoded Tweets. You can learn more about these options from Josh Catone in his post.

#21: User Photos

One of Facebook’s newest developments is the ability to tag pages in user’s photos. Right now it’s limited to pages categorized as “Brands & Products,” but it can be very effective for brands looking to expand their reach. As Josh Constine writes, “A tag of a brand or public figure represents a strong social recommendation of that Page, which will make a user’s friends curious to visit that Page and improve the chance that they’ll Like it themselves.

“Photos are Facebook’s most popular native application, receiving huge numbers of Page views. Tags of Pages in Photos could gain many impressions from a user’s friends over a long period of time, offering many opportunities for that Page to gain new fans.” Josh demonstrates this new feature in the Coke brand photo below:

user photo coke

Tagging products can expand a brand's reach.

# 22: Volume

While there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about the number of images to include in a blog post, I think most bloggers would agree that effective blog posts should contain at least one or two. Keep in mind that Images will help engage readers by breaking up long blocks of text and enhancing the readability of the page. Posts on Social Media Examiner for example, always include a number of images and the pièce de résistance, captions!

#23: Widgets

Cindy King discusses widgets and how most social networking sites provide widgets for you to embed on your blog. Cindy says, “This is a great way to grow your communities on social media platforms. It gives your readers the choice of where they want to connect with you. And as the communication styles vary on different social media platforms, it also lets your readers choose how they want to connect with you.”

#24: Experience

In the post How to Improve the Appeal of Your Graphics, Connie Malamed discusses research that indicates the ease of processing information (otherwise known as processing fluency) which influences a person’s aesthetic pleasure and contributes to positive experiences. Four features attributed to facilitating fluent processing are: symmetry, high figure/ground contrast, visual clarity and less information rather than more.

Use images as a way to facilitate a good experience for your customers, fans and followers.

#25: Why images

Adam Singer describes images as being vital to modern blogs for six reasons: content moves through the social web lightning-fast and strong imagery can’t be ignored; images are a signal to visitors that a site’s material is premium and unconsciously we elevate the worth of a site that has images mixed in with stories; strategic imagery helps bloggers build their brand—the imagery can help build a stylish brand associated with their sites; images are mood setters and help writers tell their stories better; images are a precursor to the inspiration that happens from effective copy and can give a blog an advantage over their competition; images help bloggers create viral content.

#26: Zero impact

At this point we’ve explored 25 tips and good reasons for using images in your social media to engage customers, followers and fans. With that being said, there’s really no good reason to use images that have zero impact. I’ll end with these last pieces of advice: with all the great possibilities out there, use images with the most dynamic impact and ones that are representative of the points you are trying to make.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Track Tweets, Facebook Likes and More with Google Analytics

social media how to

Don’t you wish you could track the traffic impact of Twitter, Facebook and Google+ using Google Analytics? Well now you can. Keep reading to learn how.

Google’s getting social in a big way.

Google has been quite busy lately, rolling out Google+ (Google’s social network) to a limited audience, the Google +1 button (a feature similar to Facebook’s Like button), a new Google Analytics interface and Google Analytics Social Interaction Tracking.

Google Analytics Social Interaction Tracking

This new Analytics feature allows you to track social interactions on your website, your blog or on your Facebook fan page. These actions include the Twitter button and the Facebook Like, Unlike and Send actions.

In this article, I will guide you step-by-step in adding this powerful new tracking feature to your Facebook tabs or web pages.

NOTE: Adding Google Analytics Social Tracking requires access to and modification of your web page files. It’s pretty basic, but you should be somewhat comfortable working with HTML files.

What is currently supported by Google’s Social Tracking

As of this writing, my testing shows that the following social buttons are supported:

  • Facebook Like, Unlike, Send

  • Twitter (only via the “official” Tweet button, not Tweetmeme or other third-party buttons)

  • Google+

I’ve not yet found a way to track the LinkedIn Share button. If anyone has had success tracking this button with the new Google Analytics, let me know in the comments!

As for WordPress plugins, you’ll have to wait for plugin developers to integrate social tracking into their plugins. The one WordPress plugin for adding Google Analytics social tracking only supports the buttons listed above.

Google’s New Google Analytics Interface and Tracking Code

In order to implement Social Interaction Tracking, you will have to update your current Google Analytics code to the latest version, and then add a few snippets of code to your HTML file.

In order to view the Social Interaction Tracking metrics, you will need to use the new Google Analytics interface, which is available as an option at the top of the page when you’re logged in to your Analytics account:

New Google Analytics Interface

How to Get Your Updated Analytics Code

To get your updated Google Analytics code:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.

  2. View the new Google Analytics interface by clicking “New Version” at the top right of the screen (see above image).

  3. Click on the domain account you wish to access.

  4. Click the “gear” icon, in the orange bar at the top right of your screen:

  5. GA Gear Edit Icon

  6. Click on the “Tracking Code” tab: Under “Standard” tab and below “1. What are you tracking?” select either “A single domain” (if you’re tracking a website or blog) or “Multiple top-level domains” (if you’re tracking a Facebook fan page).

  7. GA Tracking Code Tab

  8. Copy the code under “2. Paste this code on your site”. It should look like this, but with your “UA-xxxxxx-x” account number:

<script type="text/javascript">

var _gaq = _gaq || [];

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxxx-x']);


(function() {

var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;

ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';

var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);



You now have your updated Google Analytics code.

Putting the code in all the right places

The new version of your Google Analytics code should be placed before the closing </head> tag of your HTML file. (Yes, this is different. The old version was usually placed before the closing </body>, but that was then…)

Between your Analytics code and the closing </head> tag, insert this bit of code that calls the JavaScript that enables the social tracking:

<!-- Google Analytics Social Button Tracking -->

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

The end result will be:

<script type="text/javascript">

var _gaq = _gaq || [];

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxxx-x']);


(function() {

var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;

ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';

var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);



<!-- Google Analytics Social Button Tracking -->

<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>


The “UA-xxxxxx-x” will be replaced with your unique Analytics ID for this domain.

Now let’s add the Like/Send button code

As I mentioned in my Social Media Examiner post on Social Plugins for fan pages, Facebook generates the Like/Send button code for you on its Social Plugins page. For the Like/Send button, you just need to enter the URL you want people to “like”, select whether you want to include a Send button and a couple of other options, then copy the code in the popup dialog, which will look like this:

<div id="fb-root"></div><script src=""></script><fb:like href="" send="true" width="450" show_faces="false" font=""></fb:like>

The “#appId=xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx” is a random app ID that Facebook generates that allows you to access Insights for the button, but it’s not necessary for the button to work. In my example, I omit the appId value from the code, which will work fine.

IMPORTANT: You must add the snippet of JavaScript (shown below) to the code that Facebook generates so that actions on that button trigger Google Analytics:

<script type="text/javascript">_ga.trackFacebook();</script>

Add the above code before the <fb:like /> tag:

<div id="fb-root"></div><script src=""></script><script type="text/javascript">_ga.trackFacebook();</script><fb:like href="" send="true" width="450" show_faces="false" font=""></fb:like>

Paste your Like button code anywhere between the <body> </body> tags.

Viewing your Google Analytics Social Tracking reports

As mentioned above, the Social Tracking reports are only available in the new Google Analytics interface. (See above for how to choose the new version option.)

NOTE: It usually takes a few hours for Analytics to reflect activity on your web pages, but it can take up to 24 hours. See “Troubleshootingbelow.

After logging in to your Analytics account, click into the domain for which you want to view reports, then in the left menu go to “Visitors > Social“:

You have three options for viewing the social interactions:

  1. Engagement: You see two metrics: 1) Not Socially Engaged and 2) Socially Engaged. This shows you how effectively each page is in motivating users to Like or Tweet your content:

  2. Action: This shows you the specific actions taken (Like, Unlike, Send), how many of each and percent of total actions:

  3. Pages: Details on which page’s actions were taken and what those actions were.

Adding the Twitter button to the mix

Google’s Social Tracking will also track tweets made with Twitter’s Tweet button. Interestingly, Tweetmeme now recommends using the Twitter Tweet button.

After logging in to your Twitter account, go to the Twitter Tweet button page, where you can select one of the three available options:

Twitter Tweet Button

Once you’ve made your selection, just copy the code that is generated for you and paste it somewhere between the <body> </body> tags of your web page. Your code should look like this:

<a href="" class="twitter-share-button" data-count="horizontal" data-via="hyperarts">Tweet</a><script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>

Add a bit of JavaScript to activate Twitter Social Tracking

Before the closing </head> tag, place this bit of JavaScript to activate the Google Analytics tracking (the social tracking won’t work without this tag!):

<!-- Load Twitter JS-API asynchronously -->



var twitterWidgets = document.createElement('script');

twitterWidgets.type = 'text/javascript';

twitterWidgets.async = true;

twitterWidgets.src = '';

// Setup a callback to track once the script loads.

twitterWidgets.onload = _ga.trackTwitter;




I don’t think it matters where you put the above Twitter-tracking code, as long as it’s inside the <head></head> tags. I put it right before the closing </head> tag, after the Google Analytics tracking code and the call to the “ga_social_tracking.js” JavaScript.

A word about Google +1 tracking

As Google states on its page about Social Interaction Tracking,

Out of the box, Google Analytics provides integrated tracking with the Google +1 button. This means if you have set up both Google +1 and the latest version of Google Analytics on the same page, all +1 social interactions will be tracked automatically.

As I mentioned above, the +1 button is Google’s version of the Facebook Like button. I’ve added it to the HyperArts website and blog, but I haven’t seen much traction with it yet. However, adding it can’t hurt, and as it grows in popularity it will help your content reach a larger audience.


If you implement the above instructions accurately, you should see tracking results within several hours of initiating tracking, although Google says it can take up to 24 hours to display results.

If, after 24 hours, you don’t see any social tracking results (and I’m assuming you will have done some testing of the buttons to ensure they work and to provide some data to Analytics):

  • Double-check your code. Make sure you have placed the code as instructed above, and make sure your URL values are correct.

  • Check the Google Analytics date range. By default, Google Analytics displays the past month of data up to the previous day. You can manually change that range to include the current day by clicking the arrow next to the date range and changing the end date to the current day:

  • GA Date Range

  • Adding Social Tracking to your WordPress self-hosted blog: There is already a plugin for this feature.

Although this may look a bit, um, complicated, it should be pretty easy for those who are comfortable working with web files.

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