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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?

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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.

Facebook

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?

Twitter

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.

Instagram

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, 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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Digital Marketing News: What Marketers Think about AI, Autonomous Stores & GSC Adds Data

Infographic: What Marketers Really Think About Artificial Intelligence A new infographic shows 47% of marketers consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be over-hyped. In addition, 43% of marketers believe vendors overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to AI. AdWeek Can Autonomous Stores Catch On? Brick-and-mortar stores are testing out an automation model, functionally converting their stores to vending machines. These may increase convenience and service levels for some customers, but many remain doubtful that this will take off in a big way. MarTech Today Google Search Console Adds 16 Months of Data Can I get a heck yes?! Google has confirmed that Google Search Console will now be able to show 16 months of data versus the typical 90 days. This is currently available in their beta version for some users, with a larger rollout pending. The SEM Post The State of Video Marketing: Distribution, Topic, and Budget Trends Marketers are saying that social media brings them the highest ROI for digital video distribution, followed by email. In addition, 50% of respondents are transferring budgets from traditional media budgets to finance digital video and 37% are reallocating budgets from digital media. MarketingProfs Hulu Hits $ 1 Billion Ad Milestone In 2017, Hulu hit a record for video advertising revenue at $ 1 billion. They also saw a 40% rise in subscribers year-over-year in 2017 for video-on-demand and Live TV products. MediaPost Self-Driving Cars Have Landed at #CES2018, and Marketers Really Need to Pay Attention Self-driving cars are more than just a surreal future world pipe dream — they’re well on their way to becoming a real disruption to our typical interactions with transportation. Aside from the daily interaction, self-driving cars can also serve as a site for real-time marketing communications. HubSpot Forrester: Mobile will drive 69% of search ad growth by 2022 Mobile Marketer reports: “Mobile phones will drive most of the expansion in paid search ad spending, contributing an estimated 69% of the $ 19 billion in growth by 2022, according to Forrester research.” Mobile Marketer How Marketers Are Turning Your Car Into a Branded Experience Talking to your car isn’t as strange of a thought as it once was. But marketers and tech platforms are toying with the idea of taking this to the next level — providing helpful, timely information to consumers on-the-go. AdWeek Why Brands Will Go To Extremes — Lengthwise — With Digital Video In 2018 Marketing Dive reports: “In 2017, marketers spent 2x as much on online video than they did on TV ads. While standard 30-second ads aren’t going away, brands are increasingly experimenting with a wide array of video formats that push extremes length-wise.” Marketing Dive Google Is Sunsetting Adwords Review Extensions Next month, Google will be removing the text ad extensions that allow advertisers to highlight 3rd-party reviews within their ads. If you have used these extensions and want to keep the data, export it in AdWords this month. Search Engine Land New Data Reveals It’s Time to Change Your Headline Strategy New research from Buzzsumo revealed some surprising insights about headlines that play best on Facebook — including which word combinations get the most engagement, and which to avoid. Social Media Today On the Lighter Side: M&M’s debuts touchdown dance contest for Super Bowl – Mobile Marketer Billy Mann Discusses Video Humor as a Tool for Marketing – Small Biz Trends TopRank Marketing In the News: Debbie Friez – 2018 Digital Marketing Trends From 20+ Marketing Experts – Hot in Social Media Josh Nite – Annual Content Planning: How To Kickstart Filling Your Editorial Calendar – HeidiCohen.com Lee Odden – What’s Trending: Bring It On, 2018 – LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Lee Odden – Social Media Experts and Influencers, to Follow in 2018 – SocialChamp Lee Odden – 5 Expert Tips To Refine Your Content Marketing Strategy For 2018 – Marketing Insider Group Lee Odden – Meet the Top 21 B2B Influencers to Watch in 2018 – B2B News Network Lee Odden – How To Research and Create Evergreen Content – BuzzSumo What was the top digital marketing news story for you this week? We’ll see you next week when we’ll be sharing all new marketing news stories. Also check out the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Innovative Marketers Must Not Just Face, But Embrace, Their Fears

How can you confidently pour your heart and soul into a non-traditional marketing strategy, knowing it could either take flight or fizzle?

It’s a dilemma that outside-the-box marketers must wrestle with if they truly wish to innovate and transform their industry. The idea of experimenting with methods that haven’t been substantiated through successful practice is both exhilarating and terrifying.

When facing tight budgets, client expectations, and ROI demands, fear of failure often wins out. But to quote Seth Godin: “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

The marketplace is now busier and more crowded than ever, so perhaps what we should really be afraid of is following the same established blueprint as everyone else.

“What Is He Doing?”

A while back, I came across a thought-provoking blog post from Ken Tremendous (that’s the online pseudonym for Michael Schur, writer for such TV comedies as The Office and Parks & Rec). One of the topics he covered was the process Lin-Manuel Miranda went through while creating his eventual Broadway hit, Hamilton: An American Musical.

Miranda spent many years writing this hip-hop history lesson, despite having no clue whether there was actually an appetite for such an unconventional piece of theatre. Schur summarized the internal conflict nicely in this excerpt from his post (edited to censor out the swears — this is a family blog!):

I’m far from the first person to say this – I’m probably somewhere around the millionth person to write about Hamilton, and the maybe 500,000th to make this particular point, but it needs to be said – a hip-hop Broadway musical about the founding fathers is an astoundingly terrible idea. Lin-Manuel Miranda should never have written it. As soon as he started to write it, he should’ve said to himself, “What the f*** am I doing?!” and stopped. And after he got halfway through, he should’ve junked it, gotten really drunk, and moved on with his life, and made his wife and friends swear to never mention the weird six months where he was trying to write a hip-hop musical about Alexander Hamilton. I literally guarantee you that when Lin-Manuel Miranda first told his friends what he was writing, every one of them reacted with at best a frozen smile, and at worst a horrified recoiling. Some of them might have been outwardly encouraging – “sounds awesome bud! Go get ‘em!” But then later, alone, they would call each other and say What the f*** is he doing?

In response to the blog post, Miranda tweeted, “I can confirm my friends were worried about me.”

Of course, if the Hamilton creator had given into self-doubt, or allowed the concerns of his well-meaning peers to derail him, the world would have never been able to experience his masterpiece, which went on to win countless awards while crushing at the box office still to this day.

Image via Playbill

Shifting Ahead 

Schur’s oddly inspirational rant about Miranda stuck in my mind, and resurfaced as I was paging through Shift Ahead: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast-Changing World, a new book from Allen Adamson and Joel Steckel. Examining dozens of case studies, the authors argue that the biggest mistake a business can make is getting too comfortable with success.

As Andrew Grove once observed, “Only the paranoid survive.”

In their book, Adamson and Steckel share a quote from Maryam Banikarim, CMO of Hyatt:

“Look at Airbnb and Uber,” she said. “If you had said to somebody ten years ago there’s going to be a business where you’re riding in someone’s car, they would have been like, ‘Are you crazy?’ There is no question that what will be here in ten years will not look like what it looks like today.”

That really is the crux of the matter. Marketers need to formulate their plans based on what the world will look like tomorrow, not today. No one can predict the future, but by relying on good data, meaningful trends, and your own intuition, you can make smart bets and get the necessary buy-in to execute.

Boldness, Belief, Balance

At a time where businesses everywhere are trying to find deeper meaning and purpose in what they do, it’s wise to reflect on the core values that will drive you forward in the coming year. Here at TopRank Marketing, our focus is on nurturing a culture of brave marketers who aren’t afraid to be inventive and color outside the lines.

Developing this mindset requires three key ingredients, and whether you operate in marketing or any other line of business, I think they can apply in some way.

Boldness: The dictionary defines bold as “showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous.” That pretty much sums it up.

Belief: In order to truly deliver on a bold idea, you need to believe — in your expertise, in your conviction, and in the ability of our team to help you achieve the results you envision.

Balance: It’s great to think big, but it’s also important to balance this ambition with evidence, realism, and respected outside input.

With that being said, don’t let yourself be discouraged by the occasional “What is (s)he doing?” or “Are you crazy?” In fact, sometimes these can be the very signs you’re on the right track.

Innovation rarely occurs without a bit of incredulity.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Innovative Marketers Must Not Just Face, But Embrace, Their Fears | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter

There’s little doubt among marketers that social media is an important part of their strategic digital marketing mix. After all, social media is part of the fabric of our daily lives—and arguably our identities. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 1.96 billion social media users worldwide—with that number expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2018.

But increasing adoption and content saturation, as well as changing algorithms and the rising tide of paid social advertising, means all brands are facing stiff competition for audience attention and engagement. So, what’s a marketer or brand to do?

The answers don’t lie in posting more frequently, adding more visuals or adding more channels to your mix. From my perspective, it’s all about developing your brand’s identity in a way that not only provides a real-time glimpse into what your company is all about, but also gives your audience a unique and tasty experience. And that’s where some of our favorite fast food brands such as Wendy’s, KFC and McDonald’s can provide us a little food for thought.

How? Read on to get a taste of what we can all learn from three recognizable fast food brands.

#1 – Acknowledging and engaging your competitors can actually help you stand out.

For some time now, Wendy’s—known for their motto of “fresh never frozen beef”—has been heralded as a leader in, well, roasting anybody and everyone on Twitter—including the trolling of its competition.

Most recently, Wendy’s was challenged to a duel with Wingstop, a chicken wing restaurant chain that grown to more than 1,000 locations around the world.

Wingstop put out a poetic, rap-style tweet in early October. Another user, @Fatlaz901, brought Wendy’s into the mix by challenging them to “step up” their game.

Wendy's Trolling on Twitter

And then the rap battle ensued over who had the better product ensued. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts—and the engagement metrics speak for themselves:

Wendy's & Wingstop Twitter Battle

The takeaway here is not to simply start trolling your competition. The point is that a little friendly competition can go a long way—and I think that can extend beyond your social channels, too.

#2 – Social customer care is an opportunity ripe for the taking.

Currently, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest restaurant chain, coming in behind Subway and boasting more than 36,000 outlets in 119 countries. For years, McDonald’s trademark “I’m lovin’ it” slogan has helped convey its desire to make quality food and deliver quality service that their customers will love—and that commitment is an intrinsic part of their social media strategy.

In addition to its official Twitter page for the USA, McDonald’s actually has another handle, @Reachout_mcd, dedicated to fielding customer gripes and answer questions. Most recently, McDonald’s announced that it would be bringing back its Szechuan Sauce in a “super-limited” fashion—aka releasing the sauce for just one day at select stores. Well, Szechuan Sauce lovers everywhere were not only miffed about the limited release, but also how quickly it “sold out” of participating locations.

Not only did McDonald’s openly address many of its customers public dismay on Twitter, it got to work to fix the problem.

McDonald's & Szechuan Sauce

What can marketers learn from this example? Marketers, particularly those managing social media, have to stop thinking customer service is not “someone else’s problem.” As social customer care expert and McDonald’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, Dan Gingiss, told me in his Behind the Marketing Curtain interview earlier this year:

“When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.”

#3 – Social media can be a vivid extension of your brand.

Finally, last month, the internet went bonkers after Twitter user Mike Edgette discovered that KFC’s official Twitter account followed just 11 people: All five members of 90s pop group the Spice Girls, as well as six random guys named Herb. Of course, this cleverness pays homage to the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices used in the making of KFC’s chicken. On the off chance you didn’t see this, here’s how Edgette broke the news to the world.

KFC 11 Twitter Followers

But, as you may already know, the story doesn’t stop there. KFC reportedly went above and beyond to recognize Edgette’s discovery, tracking him down and sending him an unbelievably awesome and hilarious gift:  A personalized letter from Colonel Sanders “himself,” a boat load of gift cards, and perhaps the most amazing of all, a painting featuring Edgette triumphantly receiving a piggy back ride from the Colonel.

Colonel Sanders & Mike Edgette Painting Tweet

For me—and I’m sure you may agree—this serves as an ultimate example of thinking outside the box, and intertwining your brand’s core messaging and mission across channels to bring it to life.

Find Your Unique Flavor

Every brand has a story to tell—and social media platforms can help you bring that story to life and season it with the voices of your community. If you’re looking to craft your recipe for success, check out our post 8 Important Questions Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Must Answer.

What other fast food restaurants have you grown to admire on social media? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’

These days, there’s little doubt among marketers that video content is an incredibly powerful content marketing tool. After all, humans are visual creatures by nature, so it stands to reason that video often satisfies our content appetite. In fact, according to a Think With Google study, 50% of internet users said they’ve looked for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.

But as more brands and marketers jump on the video content marketing bandwagon, it’s more important than ever to examine your strategy to ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. And a great starting point is to get the lay of the current video marketing land and emerging trends.  

Thankfully, Demand Metric and Vidyard recently published the 2017 Video Content Marketing Benchmark Study, featuring data and insights collected from marketers at B2B or mixed B2B/B2C companies—all of which reported revenue growth in the previous fiscal year, as well as using video to some degree.

Below I highlight some of the findings that I found most interesting, as well as what that means for you as you begin or refine your video marketing efforts.

1. Video marketing usage is not only on the rise, but the amount of video being created is growing rapidly.

According to the study, for the fourth consecutive year, over 90% of study participants reported that video is becoming more important to their efforts. But what’s more, the average number of videos being produced annually jumped from around 29 in 2016 to 38 in 2017.

Video Marketing Production

Of course, smaller companies are producing less video than big companies, but the gap is narrowing. For example, 2016 numbers showed that more than one-third of small companies were producing less than five videos every year. But in 2017 that number shrunk to just one-fifth.

What does this mean for marketers? While video seemed like the answer to overcoming content overload and capturing audience attention, the competition for creating high-quality, engaging and compelling video is growing. So, it’s more critical than ever to make sure you’re not just “doing” video, but that it’s a strategic and thoughtful piece of your overall content marketing mix.


It’s more critical than ever to make sure you’re not just “doing” #video. @CaitlinMBurgess
Click To Tweet


2. The types of video marketers are investing in are expanding.

Product, demos and explainer videos lead the pack in terms of the most common types of videos being created, which isn’t a surprise. This type of content highlights a company’s product or service offerings, and expertise in a visual way. However, more forms of video such as how-tos, live streams, social media and those focused on company culture are becoming more widely used.

What does this mean for marketers? To me, this signals that video can and does enhance the customer journey at every stage of the funnel. Just as you craft written content to satisfy your audience’s quest for knowledge at different stages, video can be used in the same way. Furthermore, it can be used to achieve a variety of different marketing objectives such as recruiting new talent, humanizing your brand or sparking real-time engagement.


Video can & does enhance the customer journey at every stage. #videomarketing
Click To Tweet


3. Video can inform, engage and convert.

Video, both produced and native, has long-been dubbed as a great way to inform and engage your audience. Studies have shown that we spend a huge chunk of our online time watching video, often multiple times a day. (My personal favorite are all those Tasty videos of recipes I’ll probably never make.)

But if you’ve been skeptical on the conversion power of video, don’t be. According to the report, roughly 70% of participants said video converts better than other forms of content.

Video Marketing ROI

What does this mean for marketers? Building off my point in the previous section, if you really want to commit to video and drive the ultimate objective of getting conversions, you should aim to create relevant, quality video content for every level of buyer’s journey.


70% of marketers say #video converts better than other content forms. @DemandMetric @vidyard
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4. Advanced measurement is key to unlocking the best ROI.

As with any marketing initiative, measurement is critical to understanding how you’re performing and uncovering opportunities for improvement. However, most marketers are just tracking and analyzing the basics such as views or shares—making it difficult to map video to ROI.

According to the report, just 13% of respondents said they’re using advanced metrics such as views by embed location, viewer drop-off rates, heat maps and attribution to sales pipeline. However, of that 13%, 71% say that these metrics help report much better on video ROI.

“A true and accurate measurement of the ROI of video (or any type of content) requires the adoption and use of advanced metrics,” the report states. “When advanced metrics are not in use, ROI determination is an estimate at best. When advanced metrics are in use, marketers have the information they need about video content performance to achieve even better results.”

What does this mean for marketers? Marketers are often looked at as the spenders within an organization. And while video can no longer be considered a “rising” trend, it can still be hard to get buy-in and more budget if you can’t prove its value. According to the report: “The best way to capture and exploit advanced metrics is to integrate video viewing data into Marketing Automation and/or CRM systems.”


Advanced #videomarketing metrics are key to achieving better results. @DemandMetric @vidyard
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Looking for Video Content Marketing Best Practices & Tips?

Check out these helpful resources on the TopRank Marketing blog:

  • How to Get Started with Video Content (Without a Blockbuster Budget)
  • How 7 Brands Connect with Audiences Through Long-Form Video Content
  • Going Native: Tips & Examples for Effectively Incorporating Native Video Into Your Social Strategy

In addition, if you want more on the state of video marketing, read the full report here.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Report: What Marketers Need to Know About the ‘State of Video Marketing’ | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Content Marketing Tactics for Search Marketers – International Edition #SMXLmilan

SMXL Milan Content Strategies

Content is both king and kingdom in a digital world full of stories. Brands and consumers alike are experiencing and publishing content on a daily basis. Between information overload, increased complexity of search engines and changes in consumer search behaviors, many marketers are less than confident about how to optimize their content marketing.

How can marketers best use content marketing to improve search marketing? How does search inspired content affect content, PR and marketing programs across channels?

At SMXL in Milan, Italy this November 15th, that’s exactly what a panel of experts will be answering. I will be moderating Content Related Strategies for Search with Ken McGaffin, Lexi Mills and Jey Pandian where we’ll be discussing strategies to help identify new opportunities to develop content based on business intelligence, competitive research and historical performance.

As a teaser for the panel, I’ve asked each speaker to share a preview of their talk with practical insights and tips.

Ken McGaffin

Ken McGaffin @mcgaffin
Online PR and Link Building Strategist at Audiential 

4 Rich Sources of People Stories
“If you’re reading this at 3 am, chances are that James Proud wants to put you in a deep slumber.”

That’s a great opening to an article on insomnia in the NYTimes.com. It paints a vivid picture, intrigues the reader and draws them in.

That’s the power of story – it elevates your content and makes it unique.

Content Marketing is a competitive business and your pitches have to be top notch to succeed. Stories make yours stand out – to the delight of your target publishers and their readers. Here’s some things we’ve discovered at Audiential:

  1. There’s no such thing as a ‘boring’ industry – every business involves people and people are inherently interesting.
  2. Don’t expect your clients to give you stories – they rarely know what makes a great story. You’ve got to seek stories out – and polish them into inspiring content.
  3. You only need 4 sources to systematically mine for stories:
    · customers
    · staff
    · founders
    · influencers

4. You must encourage people to open up and that means you have to listen. There’s an old saying, “We have two ears and one mouth, and we should listen and talk in the same proportion”.

Lexi Mills

Lexi Mills @leximills
Managing Director at Marquis Communications

Design for Trends and Play the Long Game with Research Content
Many media are using new technology to tell them what subjects they should be covering. In some cases over 50% of the content they produce has to align with the trends these tools show. Making sure you are designing your content inline with an anticipated trend or pitching it in a way that allows them to cover a current one will significantly improve your media relationships, coverage and inbound link profile.

Don’t plan to win on round one. Media are so busy these days that the likelihood of winning on the first point of contact is significantly lower than ever before. I have a strict rule with my team that they are not allowed to send an email or make a phone call without pre-planning what their follow up will be.

This can be anything from new images, interview slots becoming available to book or highlighting an emerging trend or event that the content fits in with. Not only does this ensure that they follow up in good time but it also feeds into the structure of campaigns.

Instead of releasing all research in one go we might decide to release it in phases or at a time when we know there will be a relevant event this allows for a more constructive follow-up. It also helps eliminate anyone tormenting a journalist with their pet hate…..an email that says “I just wanted to check you received my press release”.

Jey Pandian

Jey Pandian @jeypandian
Chief Digital Officer & Founding Partner at ONWARD Agency

Storytelling in the Age of the Omnichannel
Since the internet first started, the way people communicate has continuously evolved. Within each Search vertical, there are different types of content that need to be built out in order to meet customer demand. Jey will present a content framework that goes beyond search content to help lay the foundation for an omnichannel content play.

1. Analyze – Identify out where your audiences spend their time online on Social Media Platforms and Search Engines on a 24-hour timeline to figure out “moments of receptivity” and to ensure that content will be built and surfaced at the right time and place, in the right context.

2. Design – Study UX design patterns against each Search Engine design feature; whether infinite scroll, voice, mobile, and/or swiping patterns e.g. scrolling up and down or sideways to figure out how to design your asset for optimal consumer consumption.

3. Create – Understand your algorithmic limitations as it pertains to content consumption across each Search Engine; whether image, video, voice search and/or virtual reality to help figure out how to design your asset for optimal search visibility and in turn, consumer consumption.

audience SMXL Milan
This will be the second time I’ve presented at SMXL Milan. Last year I gave a keynote presentation on influencer content collaboration. There were several speaker dinners and I think we counted 15 different countries represented at one of them. This really is an international search marketing event.

Whether you’re simply trying to increase organic search visibility for the great content you’ve been publishing or if you want to create an advantage in a competitive market, leveraging search data can produce insights that are impactful for everything from storytelling, to media relations to omni-channel marketing. This panel with Ken, Lexi and Jey on Content Related Strategies for Search Marketing is ambitious and will cover many of these topics with plenty of time for audience Q and A.

I will be giving a solo presentation about content marketing at SMXL Milan on November 15th:

Lee Odden SMXL 2016

Photo of Lee Odden via Laura Caldarella? @LaSagitta


Content Marketing Integration
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Without content, there wouldn’t be any search engines and yet most marketers treat content as if it were simply a tactic for SEO. Content is the fuel that powers all forms of media on all digital channels where customers engage. The most successful marketers approach digital marketing with a customer and content-centric approach that integrates with SEO, social media and advertising in a way that helps the brand become “the best answer” wherever customers are looking.  This presentation provides an overview of how to plan, produce, promote and optimize content as a marketing approach that works with or without search engines. But definitely better with search engines. 🙂

SMXL Milan features a truly impressive roster of speakers including Bill Hunt, Rand Fishkin, Michael King, Aleyda Solis, Gianluca Fiorelli, Hana Abaza, Bryan Eisenberg, Kristjan Mar Hauksson, Larry Kim, Nichola Stott, Jon Myers, Phil Nottingham, Cyrus Shepard and many more international search and digital marketing professionals. If you’re a reader of our blog based in Europe, I hope you can make it to Milan in November!

Be sure to check out the conference website for more information.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Content Marketing Tactics for Search Marketers – International Edition #SMXLmilan | http://www.toprankblog.com

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