Category Archives: Social Media

5 Ways of Using Word Clouds to Enhance Digital Marketing

Word Clouds For Digital Marketing:

Word clouds are a great creative tool that many of us love to play around with. They generate an image composed of words from content that has been submitted in the tool. The size of individual words in the word cloud indicates its frequency or importance.

However, word clouds are also very useful tools for content creation, brand evaluation, competitor analysis, SEO keyword targeting and customer insight.

1. Marketing Content:

Finding images that are suitable for your blog or social media posts can be time consuming and problematic as many images are protected by copyright and have permissions which restrict usage. However, we know from research that blog posts with images have much higher engagement levels and are more likely to be shared. So, to save time and money copy and paste your new blog post into a word cloud to create a free and unique image for your new content.

2. Evaluate Your Value Proposition:

Word clouds are also useful to evaluate how well your value proposition messages are embedded in your content.  Check how well your brand messages are being communicated by plugging in your website address or social media URL.

Image of word cloud for homepage
Word cloud of using


World cloud tools like Tagxedo allow you to input your Twitter and social media feeds. This can highlight the value of the content you are sharing and allow you to identify the themes that are occurring most often. Do these correspond with how you want to be perceived by your social media followers?

Analyse your LinkedIn profile in a word cloud generator to ensure your profile communicates a professional tone and is using the best words to promote your expertise.

If you have a Yelp page, use a word cloud to assess how your customers describe your service.

3. SEO Keyword Audit:

Word clouds are a great SEO tool as they instantly indicate which words are most prominent in your marketing content and how Google or other search engines are likely to assess your content.

4. Competitor Research:

Just as you can evaluate your own marketing content and keywords using a word cloud, you can also use the same approach to undertake some competitor research.  Plug in your competitor’s URL into a word cloud to identify the keywords they are targeting and how consistent their value proposition is communicated.

Image of word cloud of
Wordcloud of using

5. Analysing Customer Feedback:

Customer feedback is not just collected through online polls and surveys. Customer conversations are also a great source of feedback, whether via telephone calls, live chat, product reviews or emails. You will probably be surprised at the number of sources potentially available to you and the volume of feedback.

Don’t let the volume of feedback put you off as word clouds are an excellent means for processing verbatim customer conversations to obtain quick and clear insights. Such conversations can be a great source of insights for developing hypothesis for A/B and multivariate tests.

However, before proceeding with using a word cloud to analyse customer conversations it is wise to do some preparatory work to clean up your transcripts or survey responses. Otherwise you may find that duplicate feedback or similar meaning terms reduce the effectiveness of your word cloud at communicating key insights.

Duplicate Responses:

It’s not uncommon for some visitors to answer a survey or leave feedback multiple times. Unless this is dealt with a single customer can skew your analysis, especially if they have repeated the same comments on multiple occasions.

This is often easy to spot if the respondent has to leave an email address or another unique identifier. Once you have identified the culprits go through and review their feedback and delete all but the first response. It’s better to be consistent with your method as otherwise you will be bringing in subjective bias into the analysis.

Combining Terms:

I once launched a poll on a homepage on a mobile responsive website by asking the open-ended question; “What is missing on this page?” We received lots of comments from mobile visitors about being unable to login, sign in or see the login box. All of these responses obviously related to the same issue and so it was sensible to combine the terms. This can easily be done by using the “Replace” function in a spreadsheet.

It’s also worth looking out for plurals and replacing such terms with the singular version of the word.  Acronyms can also be problematic if some respondents use the full phrase and so search for such inconsistencies to replace acronyms where necessary.

Weighting Results:

When presenting word clouds you sometimes want to give more weight to certain terms because of what you know about their impact on your business. For instance you may want to give more prominence to feedback on your most popular webpages or blogs in your word cloud.

Word cloud tool Wordle allows you to change the weighting of certain words by making adjustments in the advanced mode. For example you could weight words according page views to reflect the popularity of a page or blog they relate to. However, make sure you make this clear when you present your word cloud as otherwise this can create a misleading impression of the feedback received.


Word clouds are flexible and free tools that can save you time and money. Before you splash out money on buying competitor analysis, SEO keyword audits or text analytics tools try out word clouds first.

Below are nine of the best free word cloud solutions available.

The 9 Best Free Word Cloud Tools:

My recommended word cloud is as this is an easy to use but flexible tool with some great advanced settings. Visually it also looks superior to most other tools.

Image of word cloud generated by
Word cloud from blog post using


  1. ABCya!:A word cloud for kids that may be relevant if your website is of interest to children. Type or paste text into the box below and press the arrow button to view the word cloud generated.
  2. Jason Davies: A great tool if you want to generate a word cloud from a blog or website.
  3. Tagcrowd: Allows you to set specific criteria for your cloud such as language, maximum number of words and minimum frequency.  Allows you to create a word cloud from a webpage URL, Twitter ID and other social media feeds.
  4. Tagxedo: Create word clouds from a URL, Twitter ID, ID, news, search, RSS feed, uploading text or enter it yourself.
  5. WordArt (Formerly Tagul):  A word cloud generator with advanced features including words inside words, rich font choices, roll-over effects, custom shapes, colours and fonts and export in vector formats.
  6. Tricklar: This site claims to use high quality media sources from around the world to generate word clouds. I found it difficult to find words or phrases that it would generate a word cloud for and so maybe only useful for popular subjects.
  7. This is a free word cloud generator which can be used with most browsers. On the homepage got o “File” and upload a document or PDF, paste text (by File dropdown), input a URL or amend the word list (dropdown). In the word list you can even add links to individual words by entering the URL after the word.
  8. WorditOut: Advanced filters allows you to filter the text to display or remove words and change their importance. Select your own layout by choosing your own colours, fonts, and sizes or let WorditOut find a random look for you.
  9. Wordle: A simple word cloud generator which allows you to set the weights of words.

Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as, and He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

Is LinkedIn The New Facebook?

The First Rule of Social Media Marketing:

I recently saw this post on LinkedIn and wondered why some users were surprised by the negative comments it received.

Image of post on LinkedIn timeline

The post reads; “Last weekend I had the pleasure of travelling to Berlin on a private chartered plane. After being escorted through security ‘VIP’ , we were met with Prosecco before heading onto the plane. If 2017 carries on like this, I’m going to have a pretty great year.”

One user posted this comment in response to the negative feedback:

“Great stuff Tim. What I fail to understand is all the negatively here, get a grip people & if you don’t like it scroll on by & enjoy your day. It’s quite simple really.”

Well, are you guys trying to turn LinkedIn into the new Facebook or are you just submitting the same posts to all your social media platforms? Whichever it is you need to stop doing it because the first rule of social media is to tailor your message to your audience.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site for making contacts and sharing useful content. It is not for boasting about how lucky you are to have been on a private jet. Enjoying yourself at work is important, but LinkedIn is not the platform to distribute this kind of self-congratulating twaddle. It’s unprofessional and annoying to other users.

Indeed, if I was a potential client of the agency concerned I would question their fees if they can afford to send employees on a private charter plane. Maybe the charter plane was paid for by a client or someone else, but that’s not the point. It creates that thought in your brain that is how my fees are being spent.

These types of posts also dilute the effectiveness of the LinkedIn timeline and put off users browsing their homepage. As the comment above suggests you can; “scroll on by” but just don’t expect me to scroll for very long as I can go to Facebook to read this kind of bragging content.

The power of LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is still a very effective social media platform though. Whilst the time line is getting clogged up with mediocre stuff the special interest groups are fantastic for sharing quality content with like-minded people. LinkedIn is currently my number one source of social media traffic because I spent time finding interest groups that closely match the target audience for my blog posts. The content is therefore relevant to users and I get constructive comments and good click through to my website.


So I’m not against people having fun at work, but just make sure you think before you post on your LinkedIn timeline. Otherwise LinkedIn will turn into a version of Facebook that will damage its effectiveness as a networking tool. Ask yourself a few questions.  How relevant and appropriate is the content to my LinkedIn contacts. Also, what will it say about me and my company to other users on LinkedIn? The latter is the main point really. As unlike on Facebook where most people don’t give a toss where you work on LinkedIn your job title and company is very visible.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it interesting please share using the social media icons below.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as, and He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

5 Reasons To Build A Business Blog Today

Big business abandons blogging.

Blogging is dead.

Is it true? Yes, big companies are abandoning their blogs, probably because the ROI is difficult to calculate and shareholders complain too much.

No, blogging is no more extinct than the last time it was declared a dead donkey. Hasn’t social media marketing taken over? Forget it. Social media is for fun, not solving urgent needs.

Blogging wins the conversion battle every time. A business blog is still the most efficient way for a small company to generate prospects and then to convert them into buyers.

1.    Blogging Improves Google Search Results

Blogging is good for search results in many ways.

Each new blog post means that you have another indexed page on Google’s computers. The more text you have on your site, the more likely it is that Google will judge it as a good match for a given search query.

Google also takes more notice of recent website posts than ones from the golden age of steam. Frequently updated blog posts are the best way better search engine results pages (SERPS).

Ranking higher in Google is more than just a vanity metric. If you rank higher, you get more clicks, more traffic, and more leads.

2.    Blogging Brings You More Traffic


Image Source:
Image Source – Free PDF download:

The chart above is from a Hubspot report that you can download for free. It shows that sites with more pages get more traffic. A blog is the best way to grow your site gradually and naturally.

A blog post is a magnet that keeps on pulling, forever.

Image of chart showing proportion of contacts generated by recent and previous posts
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This Hubspot chart shows this magnetic effect. Every post you write adds to the overall lead-attracting power that your blog has. Your old posts will still rank in search engines and bring in new leads 12 months down the line.


3.    Blogging Builds Your Reputation

This Forbes post gives various ways to increase your reputation. The one that stands out is “Go out of your way to help others reach their goals.” This is how your blog helps your rep.

People read your blog for what they get out of it. If you are writing to help people, then they will have more regard for you and will be more likely to buy your services than those of a less helpful competitor.

Some companies spend millions building a brand that is instantly recognizable in an attempt to link brand and reputation. Blogging is not free because of the time and resources you need to do it well, but it is a lower cost option than social media and television advertising campaigns.

You don’t need to establish your brand/reputation with everyone on the entire planet who breathes. You only need to reach your niche consumers, and that can be done for less than you think by blogging.

4.    Blogging Builds Your Email List

If you have an email list, then you can use an email marketing platform to send them marketing emails. There are as many statistics relating to the positive ROI of emails as there are fish in the sea. Here are just a few, including “For every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment. – EmailExpert “[Infographic] 10 Must Know Email Marketing Stats 2014” (2014)”

If someone subscribes to receive your emails, then that person is interested in your services. The act of subscribing filters out the time-wasters from those who are serious.

Having a helpful blog is the best way to encourage prospects to subscribe to your emails.


5.    Blogging Builds Customer Relationships

Nobody buys from someone they don’t trust. To build trust, you need to build a relationship with each client.

Building trust takes time and many marketing ‘touches’. Buyers need to feel they know you and like you before they eventually trust you.

Blog subscribers will see your focus on fixing problems that they and other readers have. Their respect for you will grow, especially when they see you responding to comments on your blog posts.

Starting Your Blog

You may well be short of time, but your business needs a blog. This Conversion-Uplift post describes how a blog and social media campaigns can work together. You need to use both channels, just like you need nuts as well as bolts to build anything from a construction kit.

You don’t have the time? According to this guru you can build a blog in 47 minutes. This post gives you screenshots and the exact process you need to replicate Neil’s building process.

The time to make new posts to your blog is significant, but so are the leads that it will bring. Another screenshot from Hubspot’s free and downloadable Marketing Benchmarks Report makes the point very well.

Image of chart that shows how much more traffic a site with 51 to 100 pages gets compared to one with a site with 50 or fewer pages
Image Source – Free PDF download:


The more pages on your blog, the more business leads you will get.

Thank you for reading this post and if you found it useful please share using the social media icons on the page.


You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

How Important is Social Media to a Brand?

Social Networks Influence Behaviour:


Humans are super social animals and we thrive best when connecting with other people. New ideas, products and behaviour spread through our social networks. Consequentially social media has massive potential if used to connect with the right individuals at the right time.

Research by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC) of over 20,000 consumers worldwide found that almost half (45%) of digital buyers indicated reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their digital shopping behaviour. The influence of social media is probably much greater than this for because many of our  interactions happen offline via word of mouth  and may be so subtle that they are very difficult to identify and measure.

Indeed, research suggests that we often copy other people without being consciously aware of our behaviour. This is because we have developed an almost automatic ability to replicate the behaviour of those who we admire or aspire to be like. As a result the potential power of social networks  should not be underestimated. Indeed, online social networks continue to grow rapidly.

To help you in this important area of marketing I have summarised below over 50 tools that you can employ to get the most out of your social media activity. A number are free or have free trials available, so check them out if you think they could assist your social media planning and implementation.

 Over 50 Solutions To Optimise Your Activity:

1. Analytics for Social Media:


1. 33Across: This tool allows you to integrate social media
analytics with your marketing efforts. 33Across offers traffic building and monetization tools for content publishers. SiteCTRL provides real-time insights on how people consumer and share your content. This includes Copy&Paste which monitors on-site copy and paste activity and auto-inserts the page URL to create organic back-links which improve search rankings.

SpeedShare enables and tracks sharing of your content across multiple social networks. The analytics tool helps you to understand how your users share your content in the public domain and privately.

RevCTRL generates insights into the best places where you should focus your marketing efforts and allows for better placement and
more relevant ads for users. Select customized ad signals including social, search, contextual and more. As a result RevCTRL aims to provide higher CPMs and more revenue with fewer ads on your site.


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2. Brandwatch: Supports 27 languages and is an ideal tool for
international organisations that require a multi-language solution. It is able to monitor conversations across the vast majority of social networks and offers highly targeted searches with industry leading queries powered by 22 Boolean operators. Using an advanced algorithm it offers spam-free data from millions of online sources.

Brand Watch


3. Circloscope: A circle management tool for Google+ It allows you to analyse a Google+ post and filter by the amount of engagement and then add those people who re-shared it to a circle. You can also drop in a link to an event and filter for attendees so that you can add them to a circle.


4. Crowdbooster:  A social media strategy tool that gathers data
from your Facebook and Twitter feeds. It allows you to analyse impressions, total reach and engagement and can inform you when people are most likely to view your latest blog post or video upload. This will help you adjust your strategy by understanding what is working and what is not. It also provides you with alerts about new Twitter members who may find your content or brand of interest.


5. Facebook Audience Insights: A Free tool from Facebook that allows you to better understand the audience you plan to target before you begin any campaigns.

Image of Facebook Insights page

6. Leadin App (from Hubspot): This is a Free inbound marketing tool which can tell you who is visiting your site and what content they are engaging with. When a visitor signs up to your site the app  automatically identifies the social networks they are on and adds those details to their profile information. The app also allows you to set up contact and lead capture forms on your website, or synchronise your existing forms to your Leadin database.

Leadin app


7. LikeAlyzer: For Facebook growth this tool allows you to keep
up-to-date with Facebook stats. LikeAlyzer weekly provides information on your Facebook page such as the number of posts per day, Likes, comments and shares per post, timing and length of posts.

8. Moz Analytics: Provides you with a single dashboard to browse your social media performance and other marketing efforts. As Moz is an SEO tool as well it will show you how your social media activity is affecting your SEO standing.


9. Qualia Media: The company has developed an Intent Quality Decision Engine to measure a person’s propensity to purchase. The engine identifies intent across screens and digital journeys by collecting and analysing signals of intent and selects your ideal consumers to deliver highly targeted ads.

10. Social Analytics: This is a Chrome extension that allows you to track real-time social engagement of any website to understand how popular a page or post is on various social networks. This helps you  understand how content on a site is shared and where you might focus social engagement.

Social Analytics

11. SocialFlow: Employs an optimisation algorithm that analyses your Twitter and Facebook data to ensure your content is sent at the optimum time. The tool uses three key criteria to determine when to post content. Message relevance, which of your messages in most likely to connect, your audience (who is currently online), and timing (when is the best moment to post this content).

Social Flow 2

12. Socialmention: A popular Free monitoring and listening tool. This covers over 100 social media networks and measures metrics such as sentiment, strength, passion and reach. Combined with an easy to use interface and the ability to export the data into an Excel sheet if required this is a highly useful tool that does not have any subscription to pay.

13. Sysmos:
A suite of social monitoring tools that help you collect and analyse relevant data within a framework that you can define to identify insights on what matters to you. It incorporates a workflow system that enables you to process large volumes of mentions to allow you to make data-driven decisions.

14. ubervu: Powered by Hootsuite, this is a popular real-time social media analytics tool that gives you access to primary data on social media activity which provides insights to improve your social media marketing activity.

2. Content discovery and creation:


1. Anews: An iOS app that allows you read all the news, blogs and social networks on topics that interest you in one place. The app also enables you to share any articles with your social networks.

2. Atomicreach: This tool analyses the emotional appeal of your content and evaluates whether your articles are written appropriately for the kind of people that read your content.  The app uses advanced data analytics to uncover how writing patterns impact your audience and machine learning to identify when they are interacting with your content.


3. EMV Headline Analzser: The Emotional Value Headline
Analyzer is provided by the Advanced Marketing Institute for evaluating how emotional a headline is to provide an indication of the chances of it being shared.

4. Nuzzel: A social discovery tool that aggregates the stories and posts that your Facebook friends and Twitter followers are sharing and then sorts them by the number of friends who share an individual piece of content or by most recent. It also allows you view other friends’ feeds to see what their friends are sharing with them to identify what is important to your immediate network, your
friends’ networks and your friends-of-friends’ networks.


5. Pocket: This is a content curation tool that allows you to store articles, videos or other content for when you need it. It allows you to tag posts for easy sorting and filter by video, image or article.

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6. Portent Idea Generator: If you ever need a bit of help
with what to write about a certain subject this tool provides instant headline suggestions to build an article around.

Portent Idea Generator

7. RebelMouse: A social networking aggregation tool that allows you to use flexible, dynamic rules to auto-publish content from social platforms and gather content from RSS feeds and APIs. It also offers a CMS and mobile app platform which allows you to choose from a variety customisable designs.

8. RefreshBox: Is a social curation and email marketing solution.
The app allows you to package and send five links via email each week. There is a Chrome extension which will capture the title of any post you’re read and add it to your list which is automatically sent to your subscribers every Friday.

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3. Content Management:

1. Buffer: Offers a Free account manager for one Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn account with up to 10 updates in each of your buffers (account schedule).  You can also have a 7 day trial to include Pinterest in your account.

This a great tool to optimize and automate the times when you post on social media. Further, it provides detailed analytics of the
number of clicks, favourites, shares, comments and the potential reach of individual posts. The browser plugin for the tool means that you don’t need to access the Buffer website to schedule or share content.

You can go Awesome for $10 a month to manager 12 social profiles, with unlimited posts in your buffer, and have two users to manage the account. This allows you to decide on whether to send posts out of one account or multiple accounts across different social networks

2. CoSchedule: A Wordpress plugin that allows you to plan, schedule and promote your blog content across multiple social media channels. CoSchedule integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Buffer. You can also track post links though or Google tracking tags.  You can manage all your content creation calendar and social media sharing schedule from the
backend of your WordPress website or blog.
The tool will also monitor social media engagement from your posts and produce an activity report which ranks posts based upon the level of engagement.

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3. eClincher: A comprehensive paid for social media management and publishing solution that starts from $15 a month. This includes automating publishing, engagement (live social fields), curating new content, post automation, social inbox, social monitoring, influencers,  generate leads and social analytics.

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4. Edgar:  A paid for solution that automatically adds your new posts to a library which allows you to recycle all your social media posts so that you end up with a never-ending queue of content. You can determine what to post and when it goes out.

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5. Everypost: A Free social media app that allows you to manage all your posts onto the major social networks in one place. The app enables you to send updates simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest and also allows you to post via email. For Twitter it has a text shortener that automatically shortens
updates to keep them under 140 characters.

6.  Hootsuite: This one of the most well-known and popular social
media tools that helps you manage multiple social media accounts by monitoring, posting and delegating tasks within your team. This includes Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, Foursquare, Instagram and many more.

In addition Hootsuite offers customised analytics, including scheduled reports, and they have partnered with Brandwatch to further enhance analytical capabilities.

Other features of the tool include the ability to collaborate as a team (e.g. delegate replies, Tweets, track messages etc.), RSS integration (post updates from an RSS feed) and mobile apps.



7. IFTTT: This app allows you to connect many of your favourite apps to create automatic actions from one app to another when you complete a set task. These automated actions are called recipes and there are many to choose from.

Recipes include Tweeting your Facebook updates, share your Instagrams to Facebook, forward emails to save attachments to Dropbox, posting Vimeo videos you like to Tumblr, saving new texts you receive in Google Spreadsheet, copying any Instagram
pictures you take to Google Drive, adding your latest iPhone screenshots to a Dropbox folder and saving articles saved for later in Feedly in Pocket too.



8. Salesforce Marketing Cloud: The Digital Marketing Platform enables you to monitor and engage with customers across every channel, including email, social and mobile, automate and manage campaigns, publish content, analyse the results and optimize as you go.

9. SocialOomph: This tool allows you to schedule tweets in
advance and auto-follow your new followers. The dashboard enables you to combine Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Plurk and your blog into one place to schedule posts and monitor social media activity.

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10. Spredfast:  This is a social media management, listening,
analytics, sponsorship and content marketing tool.   It is particularly
good for gathering data from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr on audience reach and engagement.  You can assess engagement and campaign performance with unified social media dashboards.

It also includes a calendar feature which informs you of the optimal times to send updates. The tool integrates with digital analytics solutions such as Omniture, Google Analytics, Brandwatch, Crimson, Hexagon and more.


11. Sprout Social: A management and engagement platform for social business.  You can manage, post, monitor, and analyse multiple social media accounts from the tool. It allows you to post updates simultaneously across Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Monitor your messages across social networks through on streaming inbox and their ViralPost algorithm analyses your followers’ engagement patterns to identify the best time to
publish content. Their analytics reporting allows you to customize social media reporting across networks and profiles. Offers a 30 day Free trail.



12. Tagboard: This is a social search and display platform which
allows you to get a snap shot of sentiment surrounding your hashtag. This allows you to identify where most engagement was generated so that you prioritise effort in the right social networks. In addition Tagboard allows you to reply to people from the snapshot page, which works well for conferences and generating conversations in real-time.


13. Tailwind: An app for saving you time with managing your
Pinterest account. It allows you to schedule pins in advance, schedule re-pins, easily pin any visual content from any website using the Tailwind hover button, obtain easy to understand analytics and get reminders about boards that you need to optimize.

The app also allows you to organise your Instagram photos based on likes, comments or most recent photos. Further, it allows you to post Instagram photos on Pinterest and connect with Pinterest users on

4. Design and presentations:


1. Canva: A free web-based design tool that has some of the best elements of Photoshop and a range of designer templates. A very easy to use tool which offers an excellent range of design templates, fonts and layouts.

There are also free tutorials that show you how to produce better graphics. A great tool if you wish to customize images to post on social media.



2. Haiku Deck: A web-based and iPad app for creating awesome looking presentations and with   the additional benefit of integrating with SlideShare. A great tool for reinventing content as you can choose from a range of stylish fonts, layouts and image filters to create a really polished looking presentation.

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3.  LeadPages: Offers you the ability to create landing pages to encourage desired conversations from your social media activity. It provides a powerful (WYSIWYG) visual editor to design and launch
landing pages within minutes.

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4. Markr: Is an app for creating visual hashtags for photos and videos.  Connect your Facebook or Twitter account to capture trending hashtags or you can create your own hashtags, You can then add an appropriate hashtag directly to an image or video to help it stand out from the crowd.

5. Studio: A useful app that you can use with Instagram for image
design. Studio is a photo-based social network that allows you to easily add text-based designs and layers to your photos. It also allows you to remix designs that you come across and share it as one of your own photos.



6. Vectr: This is a free and intuitive graphics editing app for web and desktop. Vectr has a low learning curve making graphic design accessible for everyone.

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7. Word Swag: This is an iPhone app that allows you add awesome text effects to your photos to create professional-quality posts and photo-quotes. 

 5. Outreach:


1. This is a Free Chrome extension that shows you the social networks that your email connections use and you can even cross-reference other social networks as you browse on individual social sites. This allows you to identify if you have the potential
to connect with individual people across multiple social networks or how you might connect with someone new through a mutual connection.



2. Little Bird: A tool for identifying, targeting and engaging with
the most influential people on the social web. It uses the collective discovery of other relevant people to find influencers and maps influencer networks to focus your social media strategy on the people that matter.





3. Zoho SalesIQ: This is platform for tracking website visitors that
enables you to connect and engage with your users in real-time. It includes a language translator, integration with Zoho CRM and advanced triggers to segment visitors by how long they’ve been on your website, pages visited, type of visitor and many more classifications and responses.

6. Planning:


1. Chase’s Calendar of EventsA platform that monitors events, holidays, landmarks, anniversaries, birthdays and many more items in the social calendar. The online calendar will plug you into the theme of the day and provide you with ideas for topical and interesting content or conversations.


2. Process Street: A free process and work flow management solution that also provides downloadable, step-by-step checklists for your articles to make your content more engaging. The tool also allows you to add images, videos and other files to your checklist.

Image of homepage

3. Todoist: A useful tool to manage your daily task list. It also allows you capture ideas via mobile device, browser, email or desktop. You can then prioritise, schedule and add actions against each item on your list. It keeps individual project separate by using folders
and labels and everyday it notifies you the day’s actions.


7. Podcasts:


1. RINGR: Is an iOS and Android app that allows you to connect with someone you want to interview remotely and record the entire conversation over the phone. They simply have to install the app,
enter an invite code and begin the recording.

2. Smart Podcast Player: A WordPress plugin for
podcasters that is compatible with any podcast RSS feed from any podcasting hosting service, including Libsyn and SoundCloud.

The design of the Smart Podcast Player allows you to display
your podcast artwork, customise the colour of the adio track bar and adjust the colour of the full player between a light or dark coloured theme.


8. Share Content & Grow Traffic:


1. Bitly: A Free service that provides link shortening to post your content on social media accounts, together with real-time analytics, bookmarking your favourite sites and  allows you to track clicks.


2. This is an awesome URL link shortener that when clicked shows a customised call-to-action snippet at the bottom of the page. This is a fantastic way of driving traffic back to your own website by sharing great content from others. also has a Chrome browser plug-in that automatically snips links you share or create when used with All your links will then automatically add the messages to your updates on social media.


3. SumoMe: This offers a suite of 11 free tools to help you grow the traffic to your site. The visitor heatmap tool allows you to see what your visitors are clicking on so that you can make more informed decisions about improving the design of individual web pages.

The Scroll Box allows you to ask visitors to submit their email addresses as they finish reading your latest post or learning about your product. Smart Bar is positioned at the top of your website to remind your visitors to join your email list, read your latest blog post, or whatever else you want them to do.





 9. Social Selling:


1. PeopleLinx: This is a tool for driving social selling behaviour using
gamification Users are allocated to a team so that you can view activity across teams and at an individual level. It allows team managers to set up profile “optimizations” and “to-do’s” that get assigned to people in each team. Automated alerts are then sent to team members to take action.

10. Twitter Analytics and Account Management:


1. Followerwonk: A great tool to analyse Twitter profiles. 30 day Free trial is available.

2. Tweepi: A useful tool for managing your Twitter account as it
allows you to remove unfollowers, clean up inactive followers, reciprocate by following new followers and follow accounts that may be of interest.



3. Twitalyzer: A comprehensive Twitter analytics platform that
combines basic Twitter measures with demographic data, commonly used metrics such as Klout, and their own proprietary scores.

4. Twitonomy: A dedicated Twitter account management and
analytics tool that will give you insights on the people you follow and those that follow you. It allows you to see who you follow, but do not follow you back, and those that follow you, but you don’t follow.

 11. Video:


1. Overvideo: This is an iPhone app that creates visual calls to
action when you share video content on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The app allows you to create and customize the call to action or link in the video and you can even select the moment you want a graphic or message to display in the video.


Wow,  you have done fantastic to get to the end of this long post. If you have found my post useful please share using the social media icons on this page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as, and  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

6 Myths About Word Of Mouth Marketing

Importance of peer-to-peer influence:

Peer-to-peer influence is of the utmost importance in spreading ideas, products or campaigns. Without visibility a new practice or technology will not spread to the wider population. As a result word of mouth (WoM) marketing has grown in importance as businesses have recognised the value of getting people to talk about what they do or what they offer. Indeed, it is estimated that WOM is the primary driver of between 20% to 50% of purchase decisions.

“Peer-to-peer influence – what people do with and to each other – is the prime shaper (of mass behaviour).” Mark Earls, Herd.

At the same time there are some common misunderstandings about WoM and how it can be used by marketers.

1. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of social influence:

Personal influence is much more important than traditional  marketing because individuals will often be willing to  comply, conform and copy the behaviour of their peers. Our natural ability to copy embeds knowledge into our social networks that can spread throughout wider society.

A widely held belief here is that such influence is defined by word of mouth (WoM). Word of mouth is not the most powerful form of social influence; it’s just the most noticeable. Measuring WoM may be a good indicator of peer-to-peer influence but it does not cover non-verbal behaviour,traditions or social norms which can be more important drivers of mass behaviour.

Leading by example is often a much more powerful form of social influence. Pedro Gardete, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Stanford University,  analysed in-flight purchasing behaviour on 2,000 flights of a major US airline between January and February 2012. His analysis found that people sitting next to a passenger who bought something on the flight were around 30% more likely to make a purchase themselves.

He also analysed the behaviour of people travelling together under the same reservation number. The propensity to buy doubled if the person next to them makes a purchase and is someone they know. This could be due to friends or family sharing the same tastes, but it could also suggest they are influenced by their travelling companion.

2. Marketing-generated WoM can be as influential asnaturally originating WoM.


The evidence suggests that naturally generated WoM is more influential than marketing-stimulated WoM. This may be because it is perceived to be more genuine and less manipulative. The key take-out here is that what people do without business involvement is more powerful at driving significant and swift change in consumer behaviour. Just look at how quickly SMS text messaging was adopted as a means of communicating with each other and yet it
was just an afterthought from the mobile networks.

3. Word of mouth as a channel for markers in relatively new.


WoM is an important channel for marketers because
it is a persuasive and to a degree, a free media. However, an appreciation of the power of WoM is nothing new. A US study in 1955 estimated that WoM was seven times more influential than print advertising at encouraging brand-switching.

WoM has long been seen as a filter on information that is received from third-parties by our social networks. This appears to becoming more important as people have learnt to trust authority less and less. Trust in Government among the public in the US stands near an all time low and in the UK Ipsos MORI research indicates that the public are less likely to trust politicians than most other professional occupations. As a result is should not be surprising that WOM is perceived to be the most trusted source for recommendations.

4. Word of mouth is less important in B2B compared to B2C markets.

The perception among some markers that B2B markets are somehow less influenced by what individuals say about brands does not stack up with the evidence. WoM is just as important in B2B as in B2C markets because people in organisations are integrated into the same social networks that the rest of the population are part of.

Sure, what your colleagues mention about a brand can be important. But you can’t divorce yourself from what your peers outside your organisation have to say, and nor can you close yourself off from
what family and friends may contribute to your perception of a supplier.  Add in what you find out when you Google the product or service and there is little difference between WoM for B2B and B2C

5. People can’t tell the difference between marketing-generated WoM and  naturally occurring WOM.

Over the years many organisations have attempted to package marketing initiated WoM as coming from an independent source, such as a blogger, with the aim of spreading their message across our social networks. This has now been outlawed in many countries. As such marketing’s efforts to generate WoM is often clearly distinguishable from the naturally occurring variety.

However, if any organisation did consider attempting to present their message as naturally occurring word of mouth the risk of damage to their reputation is massive. Indeed, Mark Earl’s in his book Herd suggests that as “super social” apes humans have innate ability to spot cheating and deception. This may be related to the wisdom of crowds that has been observed in many contexts. Whatever the mechanism though which deception is discovered you can guarantee that the consequences will have major ramifications for any brand.

6. Word of mouth is another marketing communication tool.


Sorry, but WoM is not another marketing innovation.
WoM is a naturally occurring interaction between different people that is primarily driven by our instinctive desire to establish and reinforce social bonds. We are sometimes motivated by other factors such as curiosity and survival instincts, but frequently WoM is just a means of keeping the channels of communication open. So when we say hello and chat to our neighbour about the weather we  may not be that interested in what they say, but it has benefits that are important to us from a social perspective.

To put WoM marketing into context research suggests that a majority of what we say to each other is about social relations. That is what we do with or to other people and who we can or cannot
trust. Social content (e.g. gossip and rumour) also tends to be the most memorable part of a conversation. This insight probably explains why ideas that  enable social content sharing can spread very quickly as they facilitate something that is crucial to the functioning of our social networks.

Given this insight we may see WoM as a channel or a medium to create a ripple effect in the target audience’s social network. However,because people are constantly sharing thoughts and ideas about a diverse range of topics the water into which we drop our pebble is more like a bubbling hot-tub full of lots of excited and playful people than a calm expanse of water. This means that luck and timing play a big part in whether your idea is noticed or just swallowed up in the noise of human society.

What matters most about WoM is the social system, the people involved and their desire to interact about something. Clearly endogenous or self-generating WoM is much more powerful than superficial marketing generated WoM that organisations initiate. This reflects the deep seated human characteristic of talking to each other about a topic which nourishes the interactions with other people.

People are highly motivated to share their passions and obsessions with others. We are drawn to identify with a cause. People will chat
whatever you do, and sometimes it will be about you, but more often it won’t be. The real reason for WoM is the social interactions around the topic. The subject of discussion provides the oxygen to sustain interactions rather than the purpose of our conversations.

Businesses can try to facilitate WoM, but they may also limit, prevent or intensify the interactions of people with each other. What is most influential though is what we observe others doing, what we think they are doing and how we interact with them. Rather than constantly trying to control how people interact with our brands we need to let go. We should encourage and help people to engage with each other about our products or ideas as this ultimately results in value creation.

Thank you for reading my post. I hope it generated a few ideas and if you have time you can read previous posts on how we are influenced by the behaviour of others:

 Previous posts on social influence:

1. How do social networks influence human behaviour? How people who are close to use influence our behaviour in many different ways.

2. What makes social networks tick? What set of circumstances encourages collaboration and sharing between people.

3. Are most purchase decisions the result of other’s  behaviour & opinions? What does the evidence say about how powerfully other people influence our purchasing decisions and what are the different ways that we copy other people.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.


Recommended reading:

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, check out the Conversion Uplift  Facebook page or connect on LinkedIn.

8 Reasons To Start Blogging Today!

image of cartoon of William Shakespear considering whether to blog

  • It’s FREE and easy to set up and maintain. Using a blog platform is very easy and it’s simple to choose from a range of free design templates. When you want to change the template you can do this for all your posts at the click of a mouse. For the more advanced bloggers some platforms also support free plugins or extras. These extend and expand the functionality of your blog. Examples include audio players, Facebook like buttons, Retweet buttons and language translators. which is one of the most popular platforms supports a wide range of plugins (see link at the end of this post).
  •  You can establish a network of bloggers on your subject of interest. By allowing other people to submit posts to your blog you can benefit from crowd sourcing and attract more content from other bloggers.
  • Become a leader rather than a follower. You are generating unique and hopefully interesting content. You will join a relatively small, but growing group of people who generate new content via social media.
  • There are many feedback mechanisms. To help you understand how your content is being received there are many feedback mechanisms including comments, ask me a question, and track backs (links from other sites to your blog).
  • It enhances your public profile and improves your online credibility. Blogging allows you to show the world what you know about a topic or interest. You can demonstrate how you can structure a persuasive and engaging story or informative article. You can then post your blogs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites you use.
  • It improves the reach of your Tweets. When I RT someone’s link I often only get 4 or 5 clicks, and a single RT if I am lucky. When I tweet a new post from my own blog I normally get over 500 clicks the first time I tweet it. I can also rely on a few RTs depending upon how popular it is.
  • It keeps you focused during major life events. Personally I found blogging helpful when I recently left a job. It helped me focus my energy into a positive activity. You don’t have to blog about the life event, I didn’t. I decided to use it as a way of expressing my views on subjects that I felt strongly about and thought some of my Twitter followers might find of interest.  It has worked best where I did some research, read a book or an article, and then put my personal thoughts down in my blog.
  • Finally, it’s fun. I enjoy being able to express my views in a blog. It’s great therapy! Don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it as otherwise it becomes a chore.

Thanks to Lisa Radin (@milguy23) for giving me the idea to write this blog and thank you for reading it.

I recently came across

9 tips to help you experience the power of blogging 

which gives some great advice. For those more advanced bloggers who want to use some plugins for


here is a useful article on WordPress impressive blog plugins.

Thank you reading my post. If you found this useful please share with the social media icons on the page.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as, and  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.  By  aligning each stage of the customer journey  with the organisation’s business goals this helps to improve conversion rates and revenues significantly as almost all websites benefit from a review of customer touch points and user journeys.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.

How Do Social Networks Influence Human Behaviour?

Do People Act in Isolation?

In ‘I’ll have what she’s having’; Mark Earls and his co-authors explain how social learning (i.e. imitating other people) acts as the engine for the spread of culture, human behaviour and ultimately innovation. The authors reassert the need for those wanting to influence mass behaviour to move away from the “me” to the “we” perspective.


Image of a large crowd of people

But, why should we care? Well, the authors demonstrate how copying each other has been the driving force behind the success of our species and the spread of innovation. We are so adept at imitating each other that we are often not even aware that we are doing it. Further, the nature of social learning has far reaching implications for organisations seeking to change mass behaviour or spread new ideas.

“Practically it matters because our social inheritance underlies modern human life in a huge, increasingly interconnected population of people to learn from and an enormous oversupply of choices in our lives.” – Bentley, Earls & O’Brien – I’ll Have What She’s Having.

  • Mark Earls and his co-authors examine the processes by which ideas spread through our social networks. This can often result from person to person imitation without people even consciously being aware of their actions.
  •  This is common where there are large populations confronted with a large number of similar options. People are inundated with choices that lack differentiation. But they are also faced with a multitude of social influences and recommendations that ensures that at an aggregate level there is no clear direction of copying.
  • Sometimes people consciously direct their copying as they want to be associated with like-minded people and share similar experiences. They may adopt an idea because it appears better than what came before or we may seek to conform because it changes our perception of a social norm. There are numerous reasons why we imitate other people, but essentially herd behaviour is at the heart of the dispersion of ideas, behavioural change and innovation through our social networks.
Sheep on the road image


  • It is a myth though to suggest that herd behaviour leads to people increasingly behaving and looking the same. We all like to have our own identity and will copy different individuals or groups which ensure diversity flourishes. Indeed, for work clothes we may copy colleagues, whilst our music tastes may be driven by friends we socialise with and the model of car we buy may be influenced by people where we live.

“The paradox of social diffusion is that we all conform in one way or another, but this does not mean we all behave in the same way.” Bentley, Earls & O’Brien – I’ll Have What She’s Having.



Image of a forest

So if our interaction with other people through our social networks is the key to understanding mass behaviour, why does much of our marketing activity continue to focus on understanding what individuals think and do? The authors point out that predictive cascade models of how forest fires spread do not concern themselves with the characteristics of an individual tree and what it is made of. Instead they treat each tree as flammable material in a grid system. What matters is how close trees are to other trees and how they interact with each other.

Indeed, social scientists have noticed that many behaviours and lifestyle characteristics appear to cluster in social networks. A study by David Shoham, PhD, investigated why obesity and related behaviours cluster. The research among US school children found that it could only partly be explained by friend selection. They discovered a significant and powerful relationship between obesity and a child’s circle of friends.

Indeed, a child who was not over-weight was considerably more likely to become obese if they were closely connected with children who were already obese. They concluded that it was important not to treat children with obesity in isolation. They also found that in this instance social influence tended to operate more in detrimental ways. A TED talk describes the hidden influence of social networks.


  • The analysis challenges the validity of generalising results from experiments and quantitative research to the wider population. The authors’ assert that “more” is definitely different. Of course humans are not inanimate objects, but the point is that as social creatures’ human society is more than the sum of the individual parts. At an aggregate level our social networks display complexities that go beyond the traditional marketing and research approach that treats individuals in isolation.
Image showing complexity of social connections
Source: – Social connections


  • As herd theory suggests we are more likely to be influenced by the actions of others in our network. Thus to understand the spread of ideas and innovation we need to pay more attention to the characteristics of our social networks. We are likely to learn more by understanding the scale and structure of networks than studying with the views of individuals. This is about exploring how much social networks cluster, how big and how far they reach, and how they change over time.
  • Brands and marketing content are not important on their own. What matters most is what people (e.g. staff, customers and non-customers) do with them and how they interact with other people in their networks. The scale and structure of social networks will influence how your brand is adopted and evolves as a social entity. Organisations can’t control how people interact with their brands, but they can encourage interaction and adapt to how social networks interpret and change the context of the brand.

Image of brands on a supermarket shelf

  • Organisations can be too focused on the actions of their direct competitors. However, emerging trends and innovations from outside an organisation’s sector can often be a more valuable source of ideas as they are not subject to the same norms that evolve and constrain behaviour in their sector.
  • Thank you for reading my post. I hope it has challenged some ideas about human behaviour and has generated some useful ideas about understanding social dispersion.

Further reading: I’ll Have What She’s Having: Mapping Social Behavior (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life)


Thank you for reading my post and I hope you found it useful. Please share using the social media icons below if you like this post.

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as, and He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.