What’s Your AMP Traffic Really Doing? Set Up Reporting in 10 Minutes

Posted by Jeremy_Gottlieb

The other day, my colleague Tom Capper wrote a post about getting more traffic when you can’t rank any higher. I was really pleased that he wrote it, because it tackles a challenge I think about all the time. As SEOs, our hands are tied: we’re often not able to make product-level decisions that could create new markets, and we’re not Google’s algorithms — we can’t force a particular page to rank higher. What’s an SEO to do?

What if we shifted focus from transactional queries (for e-commerce, B2C, or B2B sites) and focused on the informational type of queries that are one, two, three, and possibly four or more interactions away from actually yielding a conversion? These types of queries are often quite conversational (i.e. “what are the best bodyweight workouts?”) and very well could lead to conversions down the road if you’re try to sell something (like fitness-related products or supplements).

If we shift our focus to queries like the question I just posed, could we potentially enter more niches for search and open up more traffic? I’d hypothesize yes — and for some, driving this additional traffic is all one needs; whatever happens with that traffic is irrelevant. Personally, I’d rather drive qualified, relevant traffic to a client and then figure out how we can monetize that traffic down the road.

To accomplish this, over the past year I’ve been thinking a lot about Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).


What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

According to Google,

“The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful, and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms.”

What this really means is that Google wants to make the web faster, and probably doesn’t trust the majority of sites to adequately speed up their pages or do so on a reasonable timeframe. Thus, AMP were created to allow for pages to load extremely fast (by cutting out the fat from your original source code) and provide an awesome user experience. Users can follow some basic instructions, use WordPress or other plugins, and in practically no time have mobile variants of their web content that loads super fast.

Why use AMP?

While AMP is not yet (or possibly ever going to be) a ranking factor, the fact that it loads fast certainly helps in the eyes of almighty Google and can contribute to higher rankings and clicks.

Let’s take a look at the query “Raekwon McMillan,” the Miami Dolphins second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Ohio State University:

Screenshot of mobile SERP for query "Raekwon McMillan"

Notice how of these cards on mobile, two contain a little lightning bolt and the word “AMP?” The prevalence of AMP results in the SERPs is becoming more and more common. It’s reasonable to think that while the majority of people who use Google are not currently familiar with AMP, over time and through experience, they will realize that AMP pages with that little icon load much faster than regular web pages and will gravitate towards AMP pages through a type of subconscious Pavlovian training.

Should I use AMP?

There are rarely any absolutes in this world, and this is no exception. Only you will know, based upon your particular needs at this time. AMP is typically used by news publishers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, and many others, but it’s important to note that it’s not limited to this type of entity. While there is an AMP news carousel that frequently appears on mobile and is almost exclusively the domain of large publishing sites, AMP results are increasingly appearing in the regular results, like with the Raekwon McMillan example.

I’m a fan of leveraging blog content on AMP to generate as many eyeballs as possible on our pages, but I’m still a bit leery about putting product pages on AMP (though this is now possible). My end goal is to drive traffic and brand familiarity through the blog content and then ultimately drive more sales as people are either retargeted to via paid or come back from other sources, direct, organic or otherwise to actually complete the purchase. If your blog has strong, authoritative content, deploying AMP could potentially be a great way to generate more visibility and clicks for your site.

I must point out, however, that AMP doesn’t come without potential drawbacks. There are strict guidelines around what you can and can’t do with it, such as not having email popups, possible reduction in ad revenue, analytics complications, and requiring maintenance of a new set of pages. If you do decide that the potential gain in organic traffic is worth the tradeoffs, we can get into how to best measure the success of AMP for your site.


Now you have AMP traffic — so what?

If your goal is to drive more organic traffic, you need to be prepared for the questions that will come if that traffic does not yield revenue in Google Analytics. First, we need to keep in mind that GA’s default attribution is via last direct click, but the model can be altered to report different numbers. This means that if you have a visitor who searches something organically, enters via the blog, and doesn’t purchase anything, yet 3 days later comes back via direct and purchases a product, the default conversion reporting in GA would assign no credit to the organic visit, giving all of the conversion credit to the direct visit.

But this is misleading. Would that conversion have happened if not for the first visit from organic search? Probably not.

By going into the Conversions section of GA and clicking on Attribution > Model Comparison Tool, you’ll be able to see a side-by-side comparison of different conversion models, such as:

  • First touch (all credit goes to first point-of-entry to site)
  • Last touch (all credit goes to the point-of-entry of session where conversion took place)
  • Position-based (credit is primarily shared between the first and last points-of-entry, with less credit being shared amongst the intermediary steps)

There are also a few others, but I find them to be less interesting. For more information, read here. You can also click on Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions to see the number of conversions by channel which were used along the way to a conversion, but was not the channel of conversion.

AMP tracking complications

Somewhat surprisingly, tracking from AMP is not as easy or as logical as one might expect. To begin with, AMP uses a separate Analytics snippet than your standard GA tracking code, so if you already have GA installed on your site and you decide to roll out AMP, you will need to set up the specific AMP analytics. (For more information on AMP analytics, please read Accelerated Mobile Pages Via Google Tag Manager and Adding Analytics to Your AMP Pages).

In a nutshell, the client ID (which tracks a specific user’s engagement with a site over time in GA) is not shared by default between AMP analytics and the regular tracking code, though there are some hack-y ways to get around this (WARNING: this gets very technically in-depth). I think there are two very important questions when it comes to AMP measurement:

  1. How much revenue are these pages responsible for?
  2. How much engagement are we driving from AMP pages?

In the Google Analytics AMP analytics property, it’s simple to see how many sessions there are and what the bounce and exit rates are. From my own experience, bounce and exit rates are usually pretty high (depending on UX), but the number of sessions increases overall. So, if we’re driving more and more users, how can we track and improve engagement beyond the standard bounce and exit rates? Where do we look?

How to measure real value from AMP in Google Analytics

Acquisition > Referrals

I propose looking into our standard GA property and navigating to our referring sources within Acquisition, where we’ll select the AMP source, highlighted below.

Once we click there, we’ll see the full referring URLs, the number of sessions each URL drove to the non-AMP version of the site, the number of transactions associated with each URL, the amount of revenue associated per URL, and more.

Important note here: These sessions are not the total number of sessions on each AMP page; rather, these are the number of sessions that originated on an AMP URL and were referred to the non-AMP property.

Why is this particular report interesting?

  1. It allows us to see which specific AMP URLs are referring the most traffic to the non-AMP version of the site
  2. It allows us to see how many transactions and how much revenue comes from a session initiated by a specific AMP URL
    1. From here, we can analyze why certain pages refer more traffic or end up with more conversions, then apply any findings to other AMP URLs

Why is this particular report incomplete?

  • It only shows us conversions and revenue that happened during one session (last-touch attribution)
    • It is very likely that most of your blog traffic will be higher-funnel and informational, not transactional, so conversions are more likely to happen at later touch points than the first one

Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

If we really want to have the best understanding of how much revenue and conversions happen from visits to AMP URLs, we need to analyze the assisted conversions report. While you can certainly find value from analyzing the model comparison tool (also found within the conversions tab of GA), if we want to answer the question, “How many conversions and how much revenue are we driving from AMP URLs?”, it’s best answered in the Assisted Conversions section.

One of the first things that we’ll need to do is create a custom channel grouping within the Assisted Conversions section of Conversions.

In here, we need to:

  1. Click “Channel Groupings,” select “Create a custom channel grouping”
  2. Name the channel “AMP”
  3. Set a rule as a source containing your other AMP property (type in “amp” into the form and it will begin to auto-populate; just select the one you need)
  4. Click “Save”

Why is this particular report interesting?

  1. We’re able to see how many assisted as well as last click/direct conversions there were by channel
  2. We’re able to change the look-back window on a conversion to anywhere from 1–90 days to see how it affects the sales cycle

Why is this particular report incomplete?

  • We’re unable to see which particular pages are most responsible for driving traffic, revenue, and conversions

Conclusion

As both of these reports are incomplete on their own, I recommend any digital marketer who is measuring the effect of AMP URLs to use the two reports in conjunction for their own reporting. Doing so will provide the value of:

  1. Informing us which AMP URLs refer the most traffic to our non-AMP pages, providing us a jumping-off point for analysis of what type of content and CTAs are most effective for moving visitors from AMP deeper into the site
  2. Informing us how many conversions happen with different attribution models

It’s possible that a quick glance at your reports will show very low conversion numbers, especially when compared with other channels. That does not necessarily mean AMP should be abandoned; rather, those pages should receive further investment and optimization to drive deeper engagement in the same session and retargeting for future engagement. Google actually does allow you to set up your AMP pages to retarget with Google products so users can see products related to the content they visited.

You can also add in email capture forms to your AMP URLs to re-engage with people at a later time, which is useful because AMP does not currently allow for interstitials or popups to capture a user’s information.

What do you do next with the information collected?

  1. Identify why certain pages refer more traffic than others to non-AMP URLs. Is there a common factor amongst pages that refer more traffic and others that don’t?
  2. Identify why certain pages are responsible for more revenue than other pages. Do all of your AMP pages contain buttons or designated CTAs?
  3. Can you possibly capture more emails? What would need to be done?

Ultimately, this reporting is just the first step in benchmarking your data. From here you can pull insights, make recommendations, and monitor how your KPIs progress. Many people have been concerned or confused as to whether AMP is valuable or the right thing for them. It may or may not be, but if you’re not measuring it effectively, there’s no way to really know. There’s a strong likelihood that AMP will only increase in prominence over the coming months, so if you’re not sure how to attribute that traffic and revenue, perhaps this can help get you set up for continued success.

Did I miss anything? How do you measure the success (or failure) of your AMP URLs? Did I miss any KPIs that could be potentially more useful for your organization? Please let me know in the comments below.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/whats-your-amp-traffic-really-doing-set.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

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SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan

We are deeply saddened and stunned by the unexpected death of SEI Instructor Mike Sullivan. Since 2009, Mike taught over 40 classes and over 1000 students through both online and in-person trainings. Mike died on Monday in a climbing accident on Steeple Peak area of the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming.

Mike was a living legend at SEI because of how fully he lived his 54 years of life. When he wasn’t teaching solar classes, he travelled around the world working on solar projects for people who did not have electricity. Or he was climbing and adventuring in some of the most remote and beautiful places on Earth and then sharing his amazing photos with us on social media.

When he introduced himself in classes, he said he was from “Tacoma, the truck not Washington.” We were excited when he opened a PO Box and got a storage unit in Paonia, SEI’s headquarters, because it meant we were his homebase. He was an engineer by training, and even worked for a few years behind the desk before he found solar and his life’s passion. Meticulous and singular in his focus, it didn’t surprise us when we recently learned that he had read the entire dictionary by the time he was 5 years old.

There are so many stories flowing in from instructors and other solar friends. From stripping down to his underwear to cross a river in Bolivia while carrying PV equipment, from strapping a hot water heater to his back and skiing up a steep, steep mountain to deliver it to an off-grid cabin of a friend, to awakening each morning at 4am before teaching a class so that he could find a tree to climb or a hike. His motto was work 24/7—meaning 24 hours a week for 7 months a year.

“We met on a rainy, rest day in a hostel in El Chalten, Argentina in the heart of Patagonia in 2014. I had never met someone who so seamlessly wove their passions and their profession into such an adventurous and colorful lifestyle. (He was teaching SEI online courses in between climbing.) It quickly became evident that he was more than a climbing mentor; he was the impetus I needed to pursue my passion for renewable energy systems as a career. Mike redefined possibility. He invited me to assist with a solar project in Ladakh, India last summer, where I witnessed how solar technology can be used as an incredible tool to positively impact a community and its enormous potential to further influence the course of the world.

Mike’s gentle ways and vibrant enthusiasm was infectious and his spirit full of compassion. 

I always looked forward to our next adventure as he gravitated to the most beautiful places above and around. He’ll continue to inspire with his sparky twinkle of irradiance and that big alleycat grin.”

Toby Swimmer, OnSite Energy in Bozeman, Montana

“Mike spent a lot of time working with technicians in Haiti in 2011-2012.  Each time I go to Haiti and see individual technicians they go through and diligently ask about the different people we know in common… How is Christopher? How is Brad? How is Jeff?… but when they get to Mike, each person gets this big goofy smile and asks “How is Mike? You know- he is craazzy!!” and laughs…

Recently, I asked why everyone thinks Mike was so crazy… and everyone had some story about turning their back to do something… and then when going back to find Mike… hunting around, calling his name… and then someone finding him up in the tallest part of a tree. And of course, there is no purpose of being in the tree… the tree is not a fruiting tree, etc…and this part is explained in detail as they are trying to make sense as to why he was up there. Mike was just hanging out there. Making people laugh without knowing the language. And there is always a lot of laughter in recounting these stories. 

~Carol Weis, SEI Instructor and Co-Founder of Remote Energy

Mike, we miss you. Thank you for always reminding us to go live your adventure, live your passions. We will send out more details as the memorial is finalized.

 

The post SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/sei-family-mourns-tragic-death-of.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan

We are deeply saddened and stunned by the unexpected death of SEI Instructor Mike Sullivan. Since 2009, Mike taught over 40 classes and over 1000 students through both online and in-person trainings. Mike died on Monday in a climbing accident on Steeple Peak area of the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming.

Mike was a living legend at SEI because of how fully he lived his 54 years of life. When he wasn’t teaching solar classes, he travelled around the world working on solar projects for people who did not have electricity. Or he was climbing and adventuring in some of the most remote and beautiful places on Earth and then sharing his amazing photos with us on social media.

When he introduced himself in classes, he said he was from “Tacoma, the truck not Washington.” We were excited when he opened a PO Box and got a storage unit in Paonia, SEI’s headquarters, because it meant we were his homebase. He was an engineer by training, and even worked for a few years behind the desk before he found solar and his life’s passion. Meticulous and singular in his focus, it didn’t surprise us when we recently learned that he had read the entire dictionary by the time he was 5 years old.

There are so many stories flowing in from instructors and other solar friends. From stripping down to his underwear to cross a river in Bolivia while carrying PV equipment, from strapping a hot water heater to his back and skiing up a steep, steep mountain to deliver it to an off-grid cabin of a friend, to awakening each morning at 4am before teaching a class so that he could find a tree to climb or a hike. His motto was work 24/7—meaning 24 hours a week for 7 months a year.

“We met on a rainy, rest day in a hostel in El Chalten, Argentina in the heart of Patagonia in 2014. I had never met someone who so seamlessly wove their passions and their profession into such an adventurous and colorful lifestyle. (He was teaching SEI online courses in between climbing.) It quickly became evident that he was more than a climbing mentor; he was the impetus I needed to pursue my passion for renewable energy systems as a career. Mike redefined possibility. He invited me to assist with a solar project in Ladakh, India last summer, where I witnessed how solar technology can be used as an incredible tool to positively impact a community and its enormous potential to further influence the course of the world.

Mike’s gentle ways and vibrant enthusiasm was infectious and his spirit full of compassion. 

I always looked forward to our next adventure as he gravitated to the most beautiful places above and around. He’ll continue to inspire with his sparky twinkle of irradiance and that big alleycat grin.”

Toby Swimmer, OnSite Energy in Bozeman, Montana

“Mike spent a lot of time working with technicians in Haiti in 2011-201.  Each time I go to Haiti and see individual technicians they go through and diligently ask about the different people we know in common… How is Christopher? How is Brad? How is Jeff?… but when they get to Mike, each person gets this big goofy smile and asks “How is Mike? You know- he is craazzy!!” and laughs…

Recently, I asked why everyone thinks Mike was so crazy… and everyone had some story about turning their back to do something… and then when going back to find Mike… hunting around, calling his name… and then someone finding him up in the tallest part of a tree. And of course, there is no purpose of being in the tree… the tree is not a fruiting tree, etc…and this part is explained in detail as they are trying to make sense as to why he was up there. Mike was just hanging out there. Making people laugh without knowing the language. And there is always a lot of laughter in recounting these stories. 

~Carol Weis, SEI Instructor and Co-Founder of Remote Energy

Mike, we miss you. Thank you for always reminding us to go live your adventure, live your passions. We will send out more details as the memorial is finalized.

 

The post SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).

SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan

We are deeply saddened and stunned by the unexpected death of SEI Instructor Mike Sullivan. Since 2009, Mike taught over 40 classes and over 1000 students through both online and in-person trainings. Mike died on Monday in a climbing accident on Steeple Peak area of the Wind River Mountain Range in Wyoming.

Mike was a living legend at SEI because of how fully he lived his 54 years of life. When he wasn’t teaching solar classes, he travelled around the world working on solar projects for people who did not have electricity. Or he was climbing and adventuring in some of the most remote and beautiful places on Earth and then sharing his amazing photos with us on social media.

When he introduced himself in classes, he said he was from “Tacoma, the truck not Washington.” We were excited when he opened a PO Box and got a storage unit in Paonia, SEI’s headquarters, because it meant we were his homebase. He was an engineer by training, and even worked for a few years behind the desk before he found solar and his life’s passion. Meticulous and singular in his focus, it didn’t surprise us when we recently learned that he had read the entire dictionary by the time he was 5 years old.

There are so many stories flowing in from instructors and other solar friends. From stripping down to his underwear to cross a river in Bolivia while carrying PV equipment, from strapping a hot water heater to his back and skiing up a steep, steep mountain to deliver it to an off-grid cabin of a friend, to awakening each morning at 4am before teaching a class so that he could find a tree to climb or a hike. His motto was work 24/7—meaning 24 hours a week for 7 months a year.

“We met on a rainy, rest day in a hostel in El Chalten, Argentina in the heart of Patagonia in 2014. I had never met someone who so seamlessly wove their passions and their profession into such an adventurous and colorful lifestyle. (He was teaching SEI online courses in between climbing.) It quickly became evident that he was more than a climbing mentor; he was the impetus I needed to pursue my passion for renewable energy systems as a career. Mike redefined possibility. He invited me to assist with a solar project in Ladakh, India last summer, where I witnessed how solar technology can be used as an incredible tool to positively impact a community and its enormous potential to further influence the course of the world.

Mike’s gentle ways and vibrant enthusiasm was infectious and his spirit full of compassion. 

I always looked forward to our next adventure as he gravitated to the most beautiful places above and around. He’ll continue to inspire with his sparky twinkle of irradiance and that big alleycat grin.”

Toby Swimmer, OnSite Energy in Bozeman, Montana

“Mike spent a lot of time working with technicians in Haiti in 2011-201.  Each time I go to Haiti and see individual technicians they go through and diligently ask about the different people we know in common… How is Christopher? How is Brad? How is Jeff?… but when they get to Mike, each person gets this big goofy smile and asks “How is Mike? You know- he is craazzy!!” and laughs…

Recently, I asked why everyone thinks Mike was so crazy… and everyone had some story about turning their back to do something… and then when going back to find Mike… hunting around, calling his name… and then someone finding him up in the tallest part of a tree. And of course, there is no purpose of being in the tree… the tree is not a fruiting tree, etc…and this part is explained in detail as they are trying to make sense as to why he was up there. Mike was just hanging out there. Making people laugh without knowing the language. And there is always a lot of laughter in recounting these stories. 

~Carol Weis, SEI Instructor and Co-Founder of Remote Energy

Mike, we miss you. Thank you for always reminding us to go live your adventure, live your passions. We will send out more details as the memorial is finalized.

 

The post SEI Family Mourns the Tragic Death of Instructor Mike Sullivan appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).

Building a Community of Advocates Through Smart Content

Posted by Michelle_LeBlanc

From gentle criticism to full-on trolls, every brand social media page or community sometimes faces pushback. Maybe you’ve seen it happen. Perhaps you’ve even laughed along as a corporation makes a condescending misstep or a local business publishes a glaring typo. It’s the type of thing that keeps social media and community managers up at night. Will I be by my phone to respond if someone needs customer service help? Will I know what to write if our brand comes under fire? Do we have a plan for dealing with this?

Advocates are a brand’s best friend

In my years of experience developing communities and creating social media content, I’ve certainly been there. I won’t try to sell you a magic elixir that makes that anxiety go away, but I’ve witnessed a phenomenon that can take the pressure off. Before you can even begin to frame a response as the brand, someone comes out of the woodwork and does it for you. Defending, opening up a conversation, or perhaps deflecting with humor, these individuals bring an authenticity to the response that no brand could hope to capture. They are true advocates, and they are perhaps the most valuable assets a company could have.

But how do you get them?

Having strong brand advocates can help insulate your brand from crisis, lead to referring links and positive media coverage, AND help you create sustainable, authentic content for your brand. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few case studies and strategies for developing these advocates, building user-generated content programs around them, and turning negative community perceptions into open dialogue.

Case study 1: Employee advocates can counter negative perceptions

To start, let’s talk about negative community perceptions. Almost every company deals with this to one degree or another.

In the trucking industry, companies deal with negative perceptions not just of their individual company, but also of the industry as a whole. You may not be aware of this, but our country needs approximately 3.5 million truck drivers to continue shipping daily supplies like food, medicine, deals from Amazon, and everything else you’ve come to expect in your local stores and on your doorstep. The industry regularly struggles to find enough drivers. Older drivers are retiring from the field, while younger individuals may be put off by a job that requires weeks away from home. Drivers that are committed to the industry may change jobs frequently, chasing the next hiring bonus or better pay rate.

How does a company counter these industry-wide challenges and also stand out as an employer from every other firm in the field?

Using video content, Facebook groups, and podcasts to create employee advocates

For one such company, we looked to current employees to become brand advocates in marketing materials and on social media. The HR and internal communications team had identified areas of potential for recruitment — e.g. separating military, women — and we worked with them to identify individuals that represented these niche characteristics, as well as the values that the company wanted to align themselves with: safety, long-term tenure with the company, affinity for the profession, etc. We then looked for opportunities to tell these individuals’ stories in a way that was authentic, reflected current organic social media trends, and provided opportunities for dialogue.

In one instance, we developed a GoPro-shot, vlog-style video program around two female drivers that featured real-life stories and advice from the road. By working behind the scenes with these drivers, we were able to coach them into being role models for our brand advocate program, modeling company values in media/PR coverage and at live company events.

One driver participated in an industry-media live video chat where she took questions from the audience, and later she participated in a Facebook Q&A on behalf of the brand as well. It was our most well-attended and most engaged Q&A to date. Other existing and potential drivers saw these individuals becoming the heroes of the brand’s stories and, feeling welcomed to the dialogue by one of their own, became more engaged with other marketing activities as a result. These activities included:

  • A monthly call-in/podcast show where drivers could ask questions directly of senior management. We found that once a driver had participated in this forum, they were much more likely to stay with the company — with a 90% retention rate!
  • A private Facebook group where very vocal and very socially active employees could have a direct line to the company’s driver advocate to express opinions and ask questions. In addition to giving these individuals a dedicated space to communicate, this often helped us identify trends and issues before they became larger problems.
  • A contest to nominate military veterans within the company to become a brand spokesperson in charge of driving a military-themed honorary truck. By allowing anyone to submit a nomination for a driver, this contest helped us discover and engage members of the audience that were perhaps less likely to put themselves forward out of modesty or lack of esteem for their own accomplishments. We also grew our email list, gained valuable insights about the individuals involved, and were able to better communicate with more of this “lurker” group.

By combining these social media activities with traditional PR pitching around the same themes, we continued to grow brand awareness as a whole and build an array of positive links back to the company.

When it comes to brand advocates, sometimes existing employees simply need to be invited in and engaged in a way that appeals to their own intrinsic motivations — perhaps a sense of belonging or achievement. For many employee-based audiences, social media engagement with company news or industry trends is already happening and simply needs to be harnessed and directed by the brand for better effect.

But what about when it comes to individuals that have no financial motivation to promote a brand? At the other end of the brand advocate spectrum from employees are those who affiliate themselves with a cause. They may donate money or volunteer for a specific organization, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have inherent loyalty to one group and can easily go from engaged to enraged.

Case study 2: UGC can turn volunteers into advocates

One nonprofit client that we have the privilege of working with dealt with this issue on a regular basis. Beyond misunderstandings about their funding sources or operations, they occasionally faced backlash about their core mission on social media. After all, for any nonprofit or cause out there, it’s easy to point to two or ten others that may be seen as “more worthy,” depending on your views. In addition, the nature of their cause tended to attract a lot of attention in the holiday giving period, with times of low engagement through the rest of the year.

Crowdsourcing user-generated content for better engagement

To counter this and better engage the audience year-round, we again looked for opportunities to put individual faces and stories at the forefront of marketing materials.

In this case, we began crowdsourcing user-generated content through monthly contesting programs during the organization’s “off” months. Photos submitted during the contests could be used as individual posts on social media or remixed across videos, blog posts, or as a starting point for further conversation and promotion development with the individuals. As Facebook was the primary promotion point for these contests, they attracted those who were already highly engaged with the organization and its page. During the initial two-month program, the Facebook page gained 16,660 new fans with no associated paid promotion, accounting for 55% of total page Likes in the first half of 2016.

Perhaps even more importantly, the organization was able to save on internal labor in responding to complaints or negative commentary on posts as even more individuals began adding their own positive comments. The organization’s community manager was able to institute a policy of waiting to respond after any negative post, allowing the brand advocates time to chime in with a more authentic, volunteer-driven voice.

By inviting their most passionate supporters more deeply into the fold and giving them the space and trust to communicate, the organization may have lost some measure of control over the details of the message, but they gained support and understanding on a deeper level. These individuals not only influenced others within the social media pages of the organization, but also frequently shared content and tagged friends, acting as influencers and bringing others into the fold.

How you can make it work for your audience

As you can see, regardless of industry, building a brand advocate program often starts with identifying your most passionate supporters and finding a way to appeal to their existing habits, interests, and motivations — then building content programs that put those goals at the forefront. Marketing campaigns featuring paid influencers can be fun and can certainly achieve rapid awareness and reach, but they will never be able to counter the lasting value of an authentic advocate, particularly when it comes to countering criticism or improving the perceived status of your brand or industry.

To get started, you can follow a few quick tips:

  • Understand your existing community.
    • Take a long look at your active social audience and try to understand who those people are: Employees? Customers?
    • Ask yourself what motivates them to participate in dialogue and how can you provide more of that.
  • Work behind the scenes.
    • Send private messages and emails, or pick up the phone and speak with a few audience members.
    • Getting a few one-on-one insights can be incredibly helpful in content planning and inspiring your strategy.
    • By reaching out individually, you really make people feel special. That’s a great step towards earning their advocacy.
  • Think: Where else can I use this?
    • Your advocates and their contributions are valuable. Make sure you take advantage of that value!
    • Reuse content in multiple formats or invite them to participate in new ways.
    • Someone who provides a testimonial might be able to act as a source for your PR team, as well.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/building-community-of-advocates-through.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

The Wrong Way to Save Nuclear Power

Earlier this month, Jeremy Carl and David Fedor of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, released a book showcasing the dire state of America’s nuclear energy industry. Keeping the Lights on at America’s Nuclear Power Plants highlights the problems facing the beleaguered power source and offers a range of proposals to save America’s nuclear reactors. And while some of their proposals would make meaningful headway toward transforming nuclear power into a viable power source, others would merely make the nuclear energy industry dependent on government largesse and raise costs on consumers in the process.

As I discussed in my previous article, the authors support reforming the federal government’s expensive licensing restrictions which make it harder for newer and cheaper reactors to reach the market. In particular, they call for ending the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s requirement that nuclear developers complete a decade-long application before any approvals are made. In its place, they support shifting the NRC’s licensing process towards a “test-then-license” system in which the commission would grant companies faster step-by-step approval as they wade through the process.

Streamlining the NRC’s process would undoubtedly make it easier for nuclear developers to bring their reactors online while lowering costs for consumers. Unfortunately, Carl and Fedor’s other recommendations appear to be geared less towards delivering cheaper energy to consumers and more towards erecting artificial protections for the nuclear industry. In their section on policy and regulatory options, the authors encourage state government agencies to use their monopoly utility regimes to force residents to use nuclear power:

“State regulatory commissions could choose to encourage nuclear power generation by developing various mechanisms to direct more ratepayer money towards it. In most regulated states with monopoly utilities, such bodies already have broad discretion to do so,” the authors said.

In addition to regulatory preferences, Carl and Fedor also call on the federal government to explicitly subsidize nuclear power plants. Specifically, they suggest the federal government establish public-private “partnerships” with nuclear companies and use taxpayer dollars to underwrite long-term contracts with utilities.

Experience shows taxpayer subsidies don’t spur development of new nuclear plants. Beginning with the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act of 1957, supporting nuclear power became a priority for government planners. The act mandates every nuclear power plant to purchase $325 million in commercial liability insurance as well as contribute to an insurance pool to cover serious accidents and damage. If the costs of a nuclear accident ever exceed the value of these insurance funds, Price-Anderson obligates taxpayers to pay the remaining costs of cleanup. This artificially reduces the costs nuclear reactors owners must pay to insure their facilities.

Since then, federal support for nuclear has only increased. The 2005 Energy Policy Act established tax credits to subsidize nuclear power plants, providing these companies $18 for every megawatt-hour of energy they produce for the first eight years of operation. Then in 2008, the federal government began offering generous loan guarantees for nuclear developers to build new plants. These loan guarantees can cover 80 percent of a project’s costs and up to $18.5 billion in loans.

Yet, despite these enormous regulatory advantages and taxpayer-funded subsidies, nuclear energy still struggles to survive. Since 2012, nuclear plant owners have closed or announced the closure of 14 reactors over 11 plant sites. South Carolina Electric & Gas and the state-owned power company Santee Cooper recently ceased construction on a $9 billion project to build two new reactors in Fairfield County.

In a press release announcing the closures, Santee Cooper explained why nuclear reactors close. When the company filed its initial application to begin construction in 2008, natural gas prices were three times higher and didn’t pose a viable threat to nuclear. Those days are over. Innovations in hydraulic fracturing technologies have unlocked millions of cubic feet of previously unrecoverable natural gas reserves and increased production by 50 percent. As a result, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas has fallen to $2.34 per kilowatt, far below the cost of nuclear power.

As Santee Cooper’s closure demonstrates, expanding corporate welfare won’t save the nuclear industry from inexpensive natural gas and certainly won’t lower costs for consumers. Instead, policymakers should follow recommendations laid out in the Department of Energy’s recently released review of America’s power grid. The report proposes government agencies streamline the licensing and permitting process in order to accelerate the development of lower cost nuclear power plants.

Nuclear can indeed thrive, but advocates should focus on making nuclear energy more competitive by unwinding burdensome regulations, rather than forcing taxpayers to subsidize high cost nuclear reactors drowning in government mandates.

The post The Wrong Way to Save Nuclear Power appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-wrong-way-to-save-nuclear-power.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

The Wrong Way to Save Nuclear Power

Earlier this month, Jeremy Carl and David Fedor of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, released a book showcasing the dire state of America’s nuclear energy industry. Keeping the Lights on at America’s Nuclear Power Plants highlights the problems facing the beleaguered power source and offers a range of proposals to save America’s nuclear reactors. And while some of their proposals would make meaningful headway toward transforming nuclear power into a viable power source, others would merely make the nuclear energy industry dependent on government largesse and raise costs on consumers in the process.

As I discussed in my previous article, the authors support reforming the federal government’s expensive licensing restrictions which make it harder for newer and cheaper reactors to reach the market. In particular, they call for ending the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s requirement that nuclear developers complete a decade-long application before any approvals are made. In its place, they support shifting the NRC’s licensing process towards a “test-then-license” system in which the commission would grant companies faster step-by-step approval as they wade through the process.

Streamlining the NRC’s process would undoubtedly make it easier for nuclear developers to bring their reactors online while lowering costs for consumers. Unfortunately, Carl and Fedor’s other recommendations appear to be geared less towards delivering cheaper energy to consumers and more towards erecting artificial protections for the nuclear industry. In their section on policy and regulatory options, the authors encourage state government agencies to use their monopoly utility regimes to force residents to use nuclear power:

“State regulatory commissions could choose to encourage nuclear power generation by developing various mechanisms to direct more ratepayer money towards it. In most regulated states with monopoly utilities, such bodies already have broad discretion to do so,” the authors said.

In addition to regulatory preferences, Carl and Fedor also call on the federal government to explicitly subsidize nuclear power plants. Specifically, they suggest the federal government establish public-private “partnerships” with nuclear companies and use taxpayer dollars to underwrite long-term contracts with utilities.

Experience shows taxpayer subsidies don’t spur development of new nuclear plants. Beginning with the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act of 1957, supporting nuclear power became a priority for government planners. The act mandates every nuclear power plant to purchase $325 million in commercial liability insurance as well as contribute to an insurance pool to cover serious accidents and damage. If the costs of a nuclear accident ever exceed the value of these insurance funds, Price-Anderson obligates taxpayers to pay the remaining costs of cleanup. This artificially reduces the costs nuclear reactors owners must pay to insure their facilities.

Since then, federal support for nuclear has only increased. The 2005 Energy Policy Act established tax credits to subsidize nuclear power plants, providing these companies $18 for every megawatt-hour of energy they produce for the first eight years of operation. Then in 2008, the federal government began offering generous loan guarantees for nuclear developers to build new plants. These loan guarantees can cover 80 percent of a project’s costs and up to $18.5 billion in loans.

Yet, despite these enormous regulatory advantages and taxpayer-funded subsidies, nuclear energy still struggles to survive. Since 2012, nuclear plant owners have closed or announced the closure of 14 reactors over 11 plant sites. South Carolina Electric & Gas and the state-owned power company Santee Cooper recently ceased construction on a $9 billion project to build two new reactors in Fairfield County.

In a press release announcing the closures, Santee Cooper explained why nuclear reactors close. When the company filed its initial application to begin construction in 2008, natural gas prices were three times higher and didn’t pose a viable threat to nuclear. Those days are over. Innovations in hydraulic fracturing technologies have unlocked millions of cubic feet of previously unrecoverable natural gas reserves and increased production by 50 percent. As a result, the cost of generating electricity from natural gas has fallen to $2.34 per kilowatt, far below the cost of nuclear power.

As Santee Cooper’s closure demonstrates, expanding corporate welfare won’t save the nuclear industry from inexpensive natural gas and certainly won’t lower costs for consumers. Instead, policymakers should follow recommendations laid out in the Department of Energy’s recently released review of America’s power grid. The report proposes government agencies streamline the licensing and permitting process in order to accelerate the development of lower cost nuclear power plants.

Nuclear can indeed thrive, but advocates should focus on making nuclear energy more competitive by unwinding burdensome regulations, rather than forcing taxpayers to subsidize high cost nuclear reactors drowning in government mandates.

The post The Wrong Way to Save Nuclear Power appeared first on IER.