Tag Archive | "Networks"

How Palo Alto Networks Blocks 30,000 New Pieces of Malware Daily Via AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data

“The platform we have uses big data analytics and machine learning in the cloud to process and find all of the unknown malware, make it known and be able to block it,” says Scott Stevens, SVP, Global  Systems Engineering at Palo Alto Networks. “We find 20-30 thousand brand new pieces of malware every day. We’re analyzing millions and millions of files every day to figure out which ones are malicious. Once we know, within five minutes we’re updating the security posture for all of our connected security devices globally.”

Scott Stevens, SVP, Global  Systems Engineering at Palo Alto Networks, discusses how the company uses AI, machine learning, and big data to find and block malware for its customers in an interview with Jeff Frick of theCUBE which is covering RSA Conference 2019 in San Francisco:

We Find 20-30 Thousand New Pieces of Malware Every Day

There are two ways to think about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics. The first is if we’re looking at how are we dealing with malware and finding unknown malware and blocking it, we’ve been doing that for years. The platform we have uses big data analytics and machine learning in the cloud to process and find all of the unknown malware, make it known and be able to block it.

We find 20-30 thousand brand new pieces of malware every day. We’re analyzing millions and millions of files every day to figure out which ones are malicious. Once we know, within five minutes we’re updating the security posture for all of our connected security devices globally.

Whether it’s endpoint software or it’s our inline next gen firewalls we’re updating all of our signatures so that the unknown is now known and the known can be blocked. That’s whether we’re watching to block the malware coming in or the command-and-control that’s using via DNS and URL to communicate and start whatever it’s going to do. You mentioned crypto lockers and there are all kinds of things that can happen. That’s one vector of using AI NML to prevent the ability for these attacks to succeed.

Machine Learning Uses Data Lake to Discover Malware

The other side of it is how do we then take some of the knowledge and the lessons we’ve learned for what we’ve been doing now for many years in discovering malware and apply that same AI NML locally to that customer so that they can detect very creative attacks very and evasive attacks or that insider threat that employee who’s behaving inappropriately but quietly.

We’ve announced over the last week what we call the cortex XDR set of offerings. That involves allowing the customer to build an aggregated data lake which uses the Zero Trust framework which tells us how to segment and also puts sensors in all the places of the network. This includes both network sensors an endpoint as we look at security the endpoint as well as the network links. Using those together we’re able to stitch those logs together in a data lake that machine learning can now be applied to on a customer by customer basis.

Maybe somebody was able to evade because they’re very creative or that insider threat again who isn’t breaking security rules but they’re being evasive. We can now find them through machine learning. The cool thing about Zero Trust is the prevention architecture that we needed for Zero Trust becomes the sensor architecture for this machine learning engine. You get dual purpose use out of the architecture of Zero Trust to solve both the in-line prevention and the response architecture that you need.

How Palo Alto Networks Blocks 30,000 New Pieces of Malware Daily

>> Read a companion piece to this article here:

Zero Trust Focuses On the Data That’s Key to Your Business

The post How Palo Alto Networks Blocks 30,000 New Pieces of Malware Daily Via AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data appeared first on WebProNews.


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Building Links with Great Content – Natural Syndication Networks

Posted by KristinTynski

The debate is over and the results are clear: the best way to improve domain authority is to generate large numbers of earned links from high-authority publishers.

Getting these links is not possible via:

  • Link exchanges
  • Buying links
  • Private Blog Networks, or PBNs
  • Comment links
  • Paid native content or sponsored posts
  • Any other method you may have encountered

There is no shortcut. The only way to earn these links is by creating content that is so interesting, relevant, and newsworthy to a publisher’s audience that the publisher will want to write about that content themselves.

Success, then, is predicated on doing three things extremely well:

  1. Developing newsworthy content (typically meaning that content is data-driven)
  2. Understanding who to pitch for the best opportunity at success and natural syndication
  3. Writing and sending pitches effectively

We’ve covered point 1 and point 3 on other Moz posts. Today, we are going to do a deep dive into point 2 and investigate methods for understanding and choosing the best possible places to pitch your content. Specifically, we will reveal the hidden news syndication networks that can mean the difference between generating less than a handful or thousands of links from your data-driven content.

Understanding News Syndication Networks

Not all news publishers are the same. Some publishers behave as hubs, or influencers, generating the stories and content that is then “picked up” and written about by other publishers covering the same or similar beats.

Some of the top hubs should be obvious to anyone: CNN, The New York Times, BBC, or Reuters, for instance. Their size, brand authority, and ability to break news make them go-to sources for the origination of news and some of the most common places journalists and writers from other publications go to for story ideas. If your content gets picked up by any of these sites, it’s almost certain that you will enjoy widespread syndication of your story to nearly everywhere that could be interested without any intervention on your part.

Unfortunately, outside of the biggest players, it’s often unclear which other sites also enjoy “Hub Status,” acting as a source for much of the news writing that happens around any specific topic or beat.

At Fractl, our experience pitching top publishers has given us a deep intuition of which domains are likely to be our best bet for the syndication potential of content we create on behalf of our clients, but we wanted to go a step further and put data to the question. Which publishers really act as the biggest hubs of content distribution?

To get a better handle on this question, we took a look at the link networks of the top 400 most trafficked American publishers online. We then utilized Gephi, a powerful network visualization tool to make sense of this massive web of links. Below is a visualization of that network.

An interactive version is available here.

Before explaining further, let’s detail how the visualization works:

  • Each colored circle is called a node. A node represents one publisher/website
  • Node size is related to Domain Authority. The larger the node, the more domain authority it has.
  • The lines between the nodes are called edges, and represent the links between each publisher.
  • The strength of the edges/links corresponds to the total number of links from one publisher to another. The more links from one publisher to another, the stronger the edge, and the more “pull” exerted between those two nodes toward each other.
  • You can think of the visualization almost like an epic game of tug of war, where nodes with similar link networks end up clustering near each other.
  • The colors of the nodes are determined by a “Modularity” algorithm that looks at the overall similarity of link networks, comparing all nodes to each other. Nodes with the same color exhibit the most similarity. The modularity algorithm implemented in Gephi looks for the nodes that are more densely connected together than to the rest of the network

Once visualized, important takeaways that can be realized include the following:

  1. The most “central” nodes, or the ones appearing near the center of the graph, are the ones that enjoy links from the widest variety of sites. Naturally, the big boys like Reuters, CNN and the NYTimes are located at the center, with large volumes of links incoming from all over.
  2. Tight clusters are publishers that link to each other very often, which creates a strong attractive force and keeps them close together. Publishers like these are often either owned by the same parent company or have built-in automatic link syndication relationships. A good example is the Gawker Network (at the 10PM position). The closeness of nodes in this network is the result of heavy interlinking and story syndication, along with the effects of site-wide links shared between them. A similar cluster appears at the 7PM position with the major NBC-owned publishers (NBC.com, MSNBC.com, Today.com, etc.). Nearby, we also see large NBC-owned regional publishers, indicating heavy story syndication also to these regional owned properties.
  3. Non-obvious similarities between the publishers can also be gleaned. For instance, notice how FoxNews.com and TMZ.com are very closely grouped, sharing very similar link profiles and also linking to each other extensively. Another interesting cluster to note is the Buzzfeed/Vice cluster. Notice their centrality lies somewhere between serious news and lifestyle, with linkages extending out into both.
  4. Sites that cover similar themes/beats are often located close to each other in the visualization. We can see top-tier lifestyle publishers clustered around the 1PM position. News publishers clustered near other news publishers with similar political leanings. Notice the closeness of Politico, Salon, The Atlantic, and The Washington Post. Similarly, notice the proximity of Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and BizPacReview. These relationships hint at hidden biases and relationships in how these publishers pick up each other’s stories.

A More Global Perspective

Last year, a fascinating project by Kalev Leetaru at Forbes looked at the dynamics Google News publishers in the US and around the world. The project leveraged GDelt’s massive news article dataset, and visualized the network with Gephi, similarly to the above network discussed in the previous paragraph.

This visualization differs in that the link network was built looking only at in-context links, whereas the visualization featured in the previous paragraph looked at all links. This is perhaps an even more accurate view of news syndication networks because it better parses out site-wide links, navigation links, and other non-context links that impact the graph. Additionally, this graph was generated using more than 121 million articles from nearly every country in the world, containing almost three-quarters of a billion individual links. It represents one of the most accurate pictures of the dynamics of the global news landscape ever assembled.

Edge weights were determined by the total number of links from each node to each other node. The more links, the stronger the edge. Node sizes were calculated using Pagerank in this case instead of Domain Authority, though they are similar metrics.

Using this visualization, Mr. Leetaru was able to infer some incredibly interesting and potentially powerful relationships that have implications for anyone who pitches mainstream publishers. Some of the most important include:

  1. In the center of the graph, we see a very large cluster. This cluster can be thought of as essentially the “Global Media Core,” as Mr. Leetaru puts it. Green nodes represent American outlets. This, as with the previous example, shows the frequency with which these primary news outlets interlink and cover each other’s stories, as well as how much less frequently they cite sources from smaller publications or local and regional outlets.
  2. Interestingly, CNN seems to play a unique role in the dissemination to local and regional news. Note the many links from CNN to the blue cluster on the far right. Mr. Leetaru speculates this could be the result of other major outlets like the NYTimes and the Washington Post using paywalls. This point is important for anyone who pitches content. Paywalls should be something taken into consideration, as they could potentially significantly reduce syndication elsewhere.
  3. The NPR cluster is another fascinating one, suggesting that there is heavy interlinking between NPR-related stories and also between NPR and the Washington Post and NYTimes. Getting a pickup on NPR’s main site could result in syndication to many of its affiliates. NYTimes or Washington Post pickups could also have a similar effect due to this interlinking.
  4. For those looking for international syndication, there are some other interesting standouts. Sites like NYYibada.com cover news in the US. They are involved with Chinese language publications, but also have versions in other languages, including English. Sites like this might not seem to be good pitch targets, but could likely be pitched successfully given their coverage of many of the same stories as US-based English language publications.
  5. The blue and pink clusters at the bottom of the graph are outlets from the Russian and Ukrainian press, respectively. You will notice that while the vast majority of their linking is self-contained, there seem to be three bridges to international press, specifically via the BBC, Reuters, and AP. This suggests getting pickups at these outlets could result in much broader international syndication, at least in Eastern Europe and Russia.
  6. Additionally, the overall lack of deep interlinking between publications of different languages suggests that it is quite difficult to get English stories picked up internationally.
  7. Sites like ZDnet.com have foreign language counterparts, and often translate their stories for their international properties. Sites like these offer unique opportunities for link syndication into mostly isolated islands of foreign publications that would be difficult to reach otherwise.

I would encourage readers to explore this interactive more. Isolating individual publications can give deep insight into what syndication potential might be possible for any story covered. Of course, many factors impact how a story spreads through these networks. As a general rule, the broader the syndication network, the more opportunities that exist.

Link Syndication in Practice

Over our 6 years in business, Fractl has executed more than 1,500 content marketing campaigns, promoted using high-touch, one-to-one outreach to major publications. Below are two views of content syndication we have seen as a result of our content production and promotion work.

Let’s first look just at a single campaign.

Recently, Fractl scored a big win for our client Signs.com with our “Branded in Memory” campaign, which was a fun and visual look at how well people remember brand logos. We had the crowd attempt to recreate well-known brand logos from memory, and completed data analysis to understand more deeply which brands seem to have the best overall recall.

As a result of strategic pitching, the high public appeal, and the overall “coolness” factor of the project, it was picked up widely by many mainstream publications, and enjoyed extensive syndication.

Here is what that syndication looked like in network graph form over time:

If you are interested in seeing and exploring the full graph, you can access the interactive by clicking on the gif above, or clicking here. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.

A few important things to note:

  • The orange cluster of nodes surrounding the central node are links directly to the landing page on Signs.com.
  • Several pickups resulted in nodes (publications) that themselves generated many numbers of links pointing at the story they wrote about the Signs.com project. The blue cluster at the 8PM position is a great example. In this case it was a pickup from BoredPanda.com.
  • Nodes that do not link to Signs.com are secondary syndications. They pass link value through the node that links to Signs.com, and represent an opportunity for link reclamation. Fractl follows up on all of these opportunities in an attempt to turn these secondary syndications into do-follow links pointing directly at our client’s domain.
  • An animated view gives an interesting insight into the pace of link accumulation both to the primary story on Signs.com, but also to the nodes that garnered their own secondary syndications. The GIF represents a full year of pickups. As we found in my previous Moz post examining link acquisition over time, roughly 50% of the links were acquired in the first month, and the other 50% over the next 11 months.

Now, let’s take a look at what syndication networks look like when aggregated across roughly 3 months worth of Fractl client campaigns (not fully comprehensive):

If you are interested in exploring this in more depth, click here or the above image for the interactive. As with previous examples, node size is related to domain authority.

A few important things to note:

  1. The brown cluster near the center labeled “placements” are links pointing back directly to the landing pages on our clients’ sites. Many/most of these links were the result of pitches to writers and editors at those publications, and not as a result of natural syndication.
  2. We can see many major hubs with their own attached orbits of linking nodes. At 9PM, we see entrepreneur.com, at 12PM we see CNBC.com, 10PM we see USAToday, etc.
  3. Publications with large numbers of linking nodes surrounding them are examples of prime pitching targets, given how syndications link back to stories on those publications appear in this aggregate view.

Putting it All Together

New data tools are enabling the ability to more deeply understand how the universe of news publications and the larger “blogosphere” operate dynamically. Network visualization tools in particular can be put to use to yield otherwise impossible insights about the relationships between publications and how content is distributed and syndicated through these networks.

The best part is that creating visualizations with your own data is very straightforward. For instance, the link graphs of Fractl content examples, along with the first overarching view of news networks, was built using backlink exports from SEMrush. Additionally, third party resources such as Gdelt offer tools and datasets that are virtually unexplored, providing opportunity for deep understanding that can convey significant advantages for those looking to optimize their content promotion and syndication process.

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Should SEOs & Content Marketers Play to the Social Networks’ "Stay-On-Our-Site" Algorithms? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Increasingly, social networks are tweaking their algorithms to favor content that remains on their site, rather than send users to an outside source. This spells trouble for those trying to drive traffic and visitors to external pages, but what’s an SEO or content marketer to do? Do you swim with the current, putting all your efforts toward placating the social network algos, or do you go against it and continue to promote your own content? This edition of Whiteboard Friday goes into detail on the pros and cons of each approach, then gives Rand’s recommendations on how to balance your efforts going forward.

Should SEOs and content marketers play to the social networks "stay-on-our-site" algorithms?

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about whether SEOs and content marketers, for that matter, should play to what the social networks are developing in their visibility and engagement algorithms, or whether we should say, “No. You know what? Forget about what you guys are doing. We’re going to try and do things on social networks that benefit us.” I’ll show you what I’m talking about.


If you’re using Facebook and you’re posting content to it, Facebook generally tends to frown upon and lower the average visibility and ability of content to reach its audience on Facebook if it includes an external link. So, on average, posts that include an external link will fare more poorly in Facebooks’ news feed algorithm than on-site content, exclusively content that lives on Facebook.

For example, if you see this video promoted on Facebook.com/Moz or Facebook.com/RandFishkin, it will do more poorly than if Moz and I had promoted a Facebook native video of Whiteboard Friday. But we don’t want that. We want people to come visit our site and subscribe to Whiteboard Friday here and not stay on Facebook where we only reach 1 out of every 50 or 100 people who might subscribe to our page.

So it’s clearly in our interest to do this, but Facebook wants to keep you on Facebook’s website, because then they can do the most advertising and targeting to you and get the most time on site from you. That’s their business, right?


The same thing is true of Twitter. So it tends to be the case that links off Twitter fare more poorly. Now, I am not 100% sure in Twitter’s case whether this is algorithmic or user-driven. I suspect it’s a little of both, that Twitter will promote or make most visible to you when you log in to Twitter the posts that have been made or the tweets that have been made that are self-contained. They live entirely on Twitter. They might contain a bunch of different stuff, a poll or images or be a thread. But links off Twitter will be dampened.


The same thing is true on Instagram. Well, on Instagram, they’re kind of the worst. They don’t allow links at all. The only thing you can do is a link in profile. More engaging content on Instagram, as of just a couple weeks ago, more engaging content equals higher placement in the feed. In fact, Instagram has now just come out and said that they will show you content posts from people you’re not following but that they think will be engaging to you, which gives influential Instagram accounts that get lots of engagement an additional benefit, but kind of hurts everyone else that you’re normally following on the network.


LinkedIn, LinkedIn’s algorithm includes extra visibility in the feed for self-contained post content, which is why you see a lot of these posts of, “Oh, here’s all the crazy amounts of work I did and what my experience was like building this or doing that.” If it’s a self-contained, sort of blog post-style content in LinkedIn that does not link out, it will do much better than posts that contain an external link, which LinkedIn sort of dampens in their visibility algorithm for their feed.

Play to the algos?

So all of these sites have these components of their algorithm that basically reward you if you are willing to play to their algos, meaning you keep all of the content on their sites and platform, their stuff, not yours. You essentially play to what they’re trying to achieve, which is more time on site for them, more engagement for them, less people going away to other places. You refuse or you don’t link out, so no external linking to other places. You maintain sort of what I call a high signal to noise ratio, so that rather than sharing all the things you might want to share, you only share posts that you can count on having relatively high engagement.

That track record is something that sticks with you on most of these networks. Facebook, for example, if I have posts that do well, many in a row, I will get more visibility for my next one. If my last couple of posts have performed poorly on Facebook, my next one will be dampened. You sort of get a string or get on a roll with these networks. Same thing is true on Twitter, by the way.

$ #@! the algos, serve your own site?

Or you say, “Forget you” to the algorithms and serve your own site instead, which means you use the networks to tease content, like, “Here’s this exciting, interesting thing. If you want the whole story or you want to watch full video or see all the graphs and charts or whatever it is, you need to come to our website where we host the full content.” You link externally so that you’re driving traffic back to the properties that you own and control, and you have to be willing to promote some potentially promotional content, in order to earn value from these social networks, even if that means slightly lower engagement or less of that get-on-a-roll reputation.

My recommendation

The recommendation that I have for SEOs and content marketers is I think we need to balance this. But if I had to, I would tilt it in favor of your site. Social networks, I know it doesn’t seem this way, but social networks come and go in popularity, and they change the way that they work. So investing very heavily in Facebook six or seven years ago might have made a ton of sense for a business. Today, a lot of those investments have been shown to have very little impact, because instead of reaching 20 or 30 out of 100 of your followers, you’re reaching 1 or 2. So you’ve lost an order of magnitude of reach on there. The same thing has been true generally on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Instagram. So I really urge you to tilt slightly to your own site.

Owned channels are your website, your email, where you have the email addresses of the people there. I would rather have an email or a loyal visitor or an RSS subscriber than I would 100 times as many Twitter followers, because the engagement you can get and the value that you can get as a business or as an organization is just much higher.

Just don’t ignore how these algorithms work. If you can, I would urge you to sometimes get on those rolls so that you can grow your awareness and reach by playing to these algorithms.

So, essentially, while I’m urging you to tilt slightly this way, I’m also suggesting that occasionally you should use what you know about how these algorithms work in order to grow and accelerate your growth of followers and reach on these networks so that you can then get more benefit of driving those people back to your site. You’ve got to play both sides, I think, today in order to have success with the social networks’ current reach and visibility algorithms.

All right, everyone, look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Google’s Knowledge Graph Finally Shows Social Networks Not Named Google+

Years after a controversy over a decision to promote its own social network, Google+, in search results, Google has begun linking to other social networks in its Knowledge Graph. As first spotted by Bernd Rubel and reported by Search Engine Roundtable, Google is now showing icons for social sites…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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B2B Social Media: Cisco’s Kathleen Mudge shares her perspective on different networks

Engaging B2B marketers with social media has its difficulties but it can be rewarding when you know what to expect. In this blog post, learn some effective insights on B2B social media communication from Cisco’s Kathleen Mudge.
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7 Targeted Social Networks Niche Marketers Should Try

candy corn manintroductory3

You’re probably always hearing about the most popular, mainstream social networks — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — and how you can use them for business. That’s because these networks attract such a wide range of users, that it’s easy for the majority of marketers to have success connecting with their audiences there. But you must know that those “top” social networks aren’t the only ones out there, right?

Truth be told, there are hundreds of other, niche social networks on the web that, depending on your particular audience or your goals, can also be well worth it for you to participate in.

Why Niche Social Networks Are Valuable

A social network can be considered “niche” if either A) the focus of the social network is much more specific (e.g. a social network just for events), or B) the users it attracts are much more targeted than those of social networks that cater to a wide range of users (e.g. a social network just for animal lovers).

The beauty of niche social networks is that they take the step of targeting and segmentation out of the marketer’s job. So for example, if your business sells yarn and you’re a marketer participating in a social network for knitters, you already have a much more targeted audience at your disposal than you would on a social network like Facebook. And we all know how much more effective your marketing can be when segmentation is involved, right? So before you devote all your social media marketing time to just the top networks, it behooves you to do some research into whether there are any niche social networks populated by your audience.

Not sure what kinds of niche social networks have popped up on the web? Here are 7 of some of the more targeted social networks to open your eyes to what’s out there. Have you heard of or used any of these before? Go ahead — try ‘em out!

1) Quora

Quora is often a forgotten social network, but it’s also one of the most valuable. Quora aims to provide answers to almost any question you can think of. From questions about marketing to questions about coding, Quora provides a great resource to both users looking for answers, and marketers seeking to position themselves as thought leaders. Think of it as a much broader version of LinkedIn Answers!


Screen Shot 2012 10 01 at 4.07.57 PM


How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Ask questions about your industry to collect direct insights into what your audience is thinking.
  • Answer questions about your company, industry, or even competitors. This will help you position yourself and your company as a thought leader. (Note: Disclose what company you’re from for the sake of transparency — and credibility!)
  • When possible, provide links to resources such as blog articles that help to answer users’ questions.
  • When appropriate, sprinkle in links to some of your educational lead-gen content such as ebooks and webinars to capture Quora users as business leads.
  • Connect with other marketers on the network to see what is or isn’t working for them.

2) Meetup

Attending and planning events is an important part of any marketer’s job. Meetup makes this responsibility easier for almost every industry. Whether you’re hosting or looking to attend an event that focuses on marketing, health, lifestyle, literature, or even family, pets, sci-fi, or photography, Meetup provides a centralized network with information on the events happening in your area. Marketers who want to reach a particular industry can immediately identify the right events and connect with attendees even before they attend.




How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Identify relevant industry events to attend. Not only will you be able to see all the industry’s events in one place, but you’ll also be able to find networking opportunities before the event even starts.
  • Publicize your own events and attract more attendees by industry or geography.
  • Find inspiration! Get cool event ideas from other cities, and bring them to life in your own area.

3) Care2

The trend toward “going green” isn’t exactly breaking, but it has caused an uptick in many marketers making sure their marketing campaigns use environmentally friendly processes. The social network, Care2, popped up as people came together to discuss this eco-friendly type of lifestyle and educate others about it. And more and more, marketers need to use these practices in everything they do to cater to this growing audience. By participating in this social network, marketers can educate themselves about the ways they can implement eco-friendly tactics into their marketing strategies.




How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Research, research, research! Implementing green strategies into your marketing isn’t easy. Learn what others are doing.
  • Talk to people in this community, and see what they really care about. What topics matter most? Is your marketing aligned?
  • Does your company sell products/services that cater to eco-friendly users? Then you’re golden! Research what eco-friendly issues are prevalent among your audience to inform your content creation, marketing, product decisions.

4) Gentlemint

When the popularity of Pinterest began to rise, we noticed the emergence of another social network catered to men’s needs and interests: Gentlemint. Often called the “Pinterest for men,” Gentlemint has a similar layout to Pinterest with a layout of images that can be commented on and re-shared. But instead of pictures of fashion, food, and babies, there are pictures of guns, cars, and alcohol — a community perfect for businesses selling products/services that appeal to the male demographic.



How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • If your target audience is comprised mostly of men, use Gentlemint to do some research about what the male demographic is interested in. See what they’re sharing, and identify what’s popular (and what’s not).
  • Host Pinterest-like contests to drive traffic from Gentlemint to your website and engage your audience with your brand.
  • Apply Pinterest best practices and set up a board (or a few) through which you can connect with Gentlemint. Here are 28 creative pinboard ideas you can adapt to cater to the Gentlemint audience.

5) CafeMom

Mommy bloggers have become a very popular resource for promoting products and services to other mothers looking for parenting advice. CafeMom is a popular network that gathers these mommy bloggers on one platform to share on childcare through blogs, videos, and games. This audience is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to marketers who are trying to get the attention of mothers.



How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Blog about and share information that is useful to mothers, and share it in the network. Give advice about parenting, and recommend products or services that might be useful to them.
  • Research the articles and videos this audience is posting to get a sense of the topics that garner the most clicks and views. Figure out how to incorporate these topics into your content creation strategy.
  • Make connections with other mothers to learn about the problems, challenges, and interest. Ask questions/survey them to learn how to better market to them.

6) ThirdAge

The fastest growing age group on the internet is senior citizens. More than ever, Baby Boomers and seniors are connecting online with each other and their families. As a result, the internet has become a resource for seniors to get advice from each other on health, aging, and retirement. This is where ThirdAge comes in. ThirdAge boasts newsletters, groups, discussion boards, videos, articles, classes, games, and more designed to help females ages 50+ connect and get advice — perfect for marketers whose products/services appeal to an older generation.




How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Research to discover better ways to reach this audience. How do they like being marketed to? What do they like or dislike?
  • Peruse the forums to learn what issues this demographic struggles with. Can you create and share content that helps address these issues and provides solutions?

7) Athlinks

Athlinks is a social network for athletes to compare statistics and network with each other. With over 266,000 members, it allows athletes to provide information about themselves such as the sports they’re interested in and lists local races and events athletes can attend to meet up with other like-minded athletes. It also includes an athlete directory to search by person or location. This network is great for marketers whose products/services cater to the athletically inclined.




How Marketers Can Use This Network

  • Using the event feature, find out and attend events that are popular among the types of athletes you cater to. This could be a great opportunity to chat with your buyer personas and even publicize some of your products and services in person.
  • If you’re a local business, search for and connect with members of the different clubs your audience may be a part of by location. 
  • Share a relevant article or participate in the ‘Action Spy’ section of the website to participate in the conversation.

What other niche social networks have you found handy?

Image Credit: mateoutah




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Monitor Which Social Networks Your Visitors are Logged Into With Google Analytics

Posted by Tom Anthony

At Distilled's SearchLove conference in London back in October, Mat Clayton from Mixcloud provided a great snippet of Javascript that could be used to record whether visitors to your site were logged into Facebook or not. This has a few uses, such as customising which social buttons you show your user or just for recording how many of your users are logged in to Facebook and then using this to show your boss that you guys should really be interacting with your visitors there.

I wanted to take this idea and extend it to Twitter and Google+, and record whether users were logged in there too. It wouldn't provided me with any immediately actionable intelligence, but over time I'd love to see the trends of what percentage of a website's visitors were logged into the different social networks. As a side project, I was also interested to record what percentage of visitors were logged into a Google account and were therefore responsible for the dreaded (not provided) in my Analytics, and also what percentage of these users were registered for Google+.

However, whilst Facebook provides an API to allow this kind of intelligence gathering, there is no such API for Twitter and Google+, and a bit of research failed to turn up any techniques that worked across all the browsers. So I rolled up my sleeves and did some digging around, eventually finding a way to trick the login mechanism of these sites to reveal whether a visitor to my site was currently logged in. If you want to try it out visit my Social Network Login Status Detector Demo; it should return something like:

Setting up the tracking

If you're a code junkie and don't need any help then you can just go and pull the code from this template page. Otherwise, let me walk you through it. There are two main steps:

  1. Setup an empty Facebook app. This is free and only takes 60 seconds – it is required for the Facebook API code to work for your domain.
  2. Install the Javascript code.

Complicated, eh?!

Setup a Facebook App

I'm going to blast through this quickly; but if you want more details there are plenty of tutorials online. If you already have an App that is registered for the domain you wish to track then you just need the AppID and can skip to the next section. We need to create an empty Facebook App because the Facebook API will only allow code on a domain to make requests regarding an App that is linked to that domain.

  1. Login to Facebook.
  2. Go to the Facebook Developers page: https://developers.facebook.com/apps
  3. Press "Create New App" in the top right corner.
  4. For "App Display Name" enter anything you want; I used "TomTrack". Check the box to agree to the FB Policies and on to the next page.
  5. The next stage is pretty easy, just enter your domain in both the "App Domain" and "Website" sections:

  1. Hit "Save Changes" .
  2. Grab the App ID from the top of the page and save it ready for the next section.

Install Javascript Code

Firstly, make sure you have your Google Analytics on the page; the code below is for the asynchronous version of the code. Next you need to add this snippet of Javascript to the top of your page in the <head> section; this function will do the recording to analytics for us:

So far, so good. You'll notice that I used _setCustomVar, whereas Mat had originally used _trackEvent – I'm sure there are pros and cons to both, and the code on the template page provides both options.

Next we add the following code to the bottom of the page before the </body> tag, ensuring you replce the appID in the Facebook code with that AppID you created above.

You can copy and paste the code from the source code of this template page.

That's it – your tracking is all set!

Setting up Google Analytics

Once the code is installed you will be tracking right away, and can view the data in Audience > Demograhics > Customer Variables, assuming you are using the 'new' layout in Google Analytics. However, the power of this data becomes far greater when you setup Custom Segments so you can view how users logged into different Social Networks interact with the site compared to one another and compared to regular visitors.

Setup Custom Segments

Custom segments are really easy to setup, and can give a keen insight into your analytics when used well. 

  1. Click "Advanced Segments" at the top of your analytics screen (once you're into the relevant profile), and hit "+ New Custom Segment" at the bottom right of the drop down.
  2. You'll be prompted to select a name for your segment and to select which facets to base it on. We'll be using the Custom Variable slots that the Javascript tracking code uses. Analytics allows 5 Custom Variable slots, and the code above uses 4 of these (1 = Google, 2 = Google+, 3 = Twitter, and 4=Facebook) [side note: I think you could cram all these into 1 slot possibly]. We'll make a segment for each; here is how I setup my Twitter segment:

  1. Hit "Save Segment" and you're done. Now repeat this for each of the other variables. Ensure you are selecting "Custom Variable (Value xx)" and not "Custom Variable (Key xx)".
  2. You're done and are ready to play with some data.

Viewing the data in analytics

Once you have the tracking installed and segments setup you need to wait a few hours before you will see the first data appearing in Google Analytics. Once you have data coming in, the first step is to select which segments from your shiny new advanced segments you'd like to use:

Select those you are interested in and "All Visits" if you also wish to compare against all the traffic, and hit Apply. You can now go into any of your regular report screens and see these 2 demographics against one another; here you can see Facebook visitors to one of my test sites starting to be tracked after I installed the tracking code on Feb 13th:

We can immediately see that about 40% of the traffic to this site are logged into Facebook whilst browsing the site and the trend of visitors generally correlate. By adding a couple more segments I can see at the top of the page this breakdown across the networks

It turns out that most staff of this website are on Twitter and Google+, hence the quite high number for Google+ (this is a non-tech website) and the correlation between the 2 figures.

There are loads and loads of metrics you can compare and find of interest and you can spend hours playing around and digging down into the data for your site yourselves. One interesting one for this site, which has an explicit Conversion Goal (yes – comparing conversions could be a lot of fun) of trying to retain users on the site for 10 minutes or more:

Looks like driving users over from the Facebook page could be an area to think more about! They reach this target 50% more of the time than the average user. Just another little example of the kind of things you could be thinking about – I'd love to hear more suggestions and discussion in the comments for what other facets could be useful to look at.

Wrap Up

Currently, whilst Facebook provides a 'proper' API to access this information, Twitter and Google don't, and you should be aware that they might 'fix' the way this process works anytime soon. In the meantime I think there is some really actionable analytics you can gather in the meantime, beyond measuring the details in analytics. You might want to change the details of which social buttons are shown, or maybe provide a popup window to prompt further interaction via a particular Social Network.

In the meantime, I'd love to here what sort of suggestions people have for actionable intelligence based on the analytics you can gather via these techniques. I look forward to hearing what people suggest in the comments. :)

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How to Cater Your Marketing Strategy to Different Social Networks

catererJust as all audiences are not the same, neither are all social media sites. Every social network has its nuances, whether it be in the way users behave, connect, or share within that network’s particular environment. Think about it. Do you have the same criteria on LinkedIn for who you choose to connect with as you do on Facebook? If Twitter were like LinkedIn, would you still ‘follow’ as many people?

So, if people act differently from social network to social network, shouldn’t your marketing act differently, too? Just as a caterer adjusts its approach — it’s style, menu, manners — to fit the needs of who its catering for, marketers must modify its approach to cater to the specific environment and behaviors of different social networks. Below, we’ll discuss some general tips to help you analyze the environments of the networks your target audiences populate as well as provide you with a quick cheat sheet for understanding the behaviors of the 4 most popular social networks — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

How to Analyze and Adjust Your Marketing Approach for Different Social Networks

Step 1: Create a Personal Account

The best way to understand the nuances of a specific social network is to become a user yourself. Sign up for a personal account on all the social networks where you do or would like to have a presence for your business. The key here is to create a personal account, not a business account, since the goal is see how the people you’re marketing to interact within the network — both with other users and with other businesses.

Step 2: Analyze the Tone and Specific Behaviors of People in the Network

As you’re observing and participating in the environment of the specific social network, try to pick up on behavioral cues. Here are some great questions to ask yourself when conducting this analysis:

  1. Do people tend to be more formal or informal in their interactions?
  2. Do people seem to use certain criteria when deciding to accept a connection? 
  3. Does the network even support business accounts/pages?
  4. Do people readily interact with brands, or are brands represented through personal profiles instead?
  5. What kinds of content do people share?
  6. In what ways are users engaging with each other?
  7. How much activity exists? How often/frequently does content get shared, and at what pace?
  8. How many people belong to the network?

Asking these types of questions will help you understand the pulse of how the social network functions, which will enable you to adapt and optimize your marketing communications to the way its users behave.

Step 3: Modify Your Marketing Approach

Use what you learned about the social network in step three to create an individual marketing approach for that specific site. If you notice that business accounts are unavailable, use your personal account to connect with other users and spread your messages and content. If you notice that people are only sharing very high-quality content on a limited basis vs. a ton of content, adopt that same approach and avoid spamming users with a lot of content on a frequent basis. To use popular social networks as an example, on Twitter, more content and frequent updates is much more acceptable than the same practice on Facebook. Are people more formal in their updates on one social network than another? Then change the language of your messaging to align with that tone.

How Users Behave on the 4 Major Social Networks

Want a quick snapshot of how users behave in the 4 most popular social networks? Here’s a little cheat sheet …

Twitter: Users ‘follow’ other users (which may include businesses) to obtain information, share updates, and be social. Users are open to following brands, and updates are limited to short, 140-character messages. Twitter is great for sharing links to awesome content and reaching a wide variety of users. The tone is informal, and users commonly connect with brands for customer support, new content, contests, and offers. Who users choose to ‘follow back’ is fairly open, and users are generally comfortable connecting with more people even if they don’t “know” them.

Facebook: Users either create personal accounts or interact as brands via business pages. Facebookers are commonly more strict about who they connect and become “friends” with on Facebook. Usually, Facebook “friendship” is limited to who a person already knows or is friends with in real life, but people’s personal criteria for this can vary. Posts and updates in the network can be longer-form, but the network appreciates less frequent and more valuable updates from businesses, particularly updates that offer exclusive offers and content. To obtain updates from businesses, users ‘like’ (AKA become fans of) that business’ page. The tone is personal and engaging.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a network that mainly attracts and suits the needs of business professionals, making it a great fit for B2B marketers. Brands can have company pages, and users can ‘follow’ the page for updates from those companies. The network has more of a business networking and career focus, and the way users connect is much more formal. Users often have fewer, more intimate connections than they would on Facebook or Twitter. Content shared and discussions that start are usually more industry and business-focused.

Google+: The newest of the major networks, Google+ enables users to connect with each other by adding connections to different ‘Circles.’ It currently attracts more of a digital, tech-focused audience of users who are mainly male. The network is similar to Facebook in how it functionality, but it hasn’t yet been truly tapped by the business community considering its lack of business functionality since it does not currently offer business accounts.

Pulling it All Together

Use your time wisely in your social media marketing efforts. Remember: just because a social network is “popular,” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for your business or industry. Use analytics as your guide. Monitor the traffic and leads you’re generating from your presence on each individual social media site. Is the return on investment significant enough based on the time and effort you’re spending there? Is one social site performing better for you than another? Adjust your strategy accordingly to focus more of your time on the social networks that work for you, and less of your time on those that don’t.

social media leadsDo you cater your marketing strategy to the nuances of different social networks? What other tips do you recommend?

Image Credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Actiebolaget


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