Year In Review: 6 Platform Changes That Shook Up Social Media Marketing in 2017

With 2018 on the horizon, we’re all in a state of reflection, looking back on all the good, the bad and the ugly 2017 brought us. When it comes to social media, it’s hard not to think about the latter two. With all the political turmoil and uptick in trolling, even Facebook recently admitted that its digging deep to turn the tide and bring well-being principles into the social experience.

But while there’s little doubt that 2017 surfaced new concerns and challenges in the social media space, there were some positive developments for everyday users and marketers alike. In this piece, we highlight some of those interesting and encouraging changes that occurred across platforms.

While this is certainly not a complete list, we think these are some changes that can be celebrated by marketers—as well as leveraged in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Facebook continues its push to help users and brands tell Stories.

While Snapchat came on the scene in 2013, the platform began gaining major ground in 2016 as a formidable contender within the social media space, drawing younger audiences and causing Facebook to sit up, take notice and form an action plan.

While Snapchat’s main interface is totally unique, the one thing that could be cloned is its Stories feature—something that Facebook got to work on by first rolling out a similar feature on Instagram in the summer of 2016 and then in its own Messenger app shortly thereafter.

Facebook Stories Example

(Credit: Facebook)

But 2017 brought Facebook Stories to a new level. In early October, it was confirmed that Facebook was rolling out an option to syndicate Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories. Not long after, TechCrunch learned that Facebook Stories would soon be opened up to Pages, which would let brands, news publishers, athletes and nonprofits get in on all the fun. That full rollout to Pages appears to still be in the works, but its something marketers should be on the lookout for as they enter the new year.

#2 – LinkedIn implements lead gen forms on ads.

For B2B brands, there’s little doubt that LinkedIn can be an especially effective digital advertising platform with the right message, budget and targeting in place. And LinkedIn sweetened the pot earlier this year by adding a Lead Generation Forms option to its ad platform, allowing users to opt into your offer with just one click.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Example

As TopRank Marketing’s own Steve Slater, Digital Advertising Manager, said in a post on the subject:

“Lead generation form ads encourage the impulse buy. With one click, you can gain access to prospect information in a way that required little time or effort on their end. The beauty of this approach for advertisers is that you can show your ads to the right audience and receive one click conversions.”

Of course, a few months after releasing the offering into the wild, LinkedIn has made some enhancement to the offering, including the ability to add custom questions to the forms, according to AdWeek. In addition, AdWeek said marketers have reported that using the lead gen forms have helped lower their average cost per lead by more than 20%—something that’s certainly worthy of your consideration as we head into 2018.

Read: Master LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Forms in 10 Easy Steps

#3 – Instagram begins its rollout of the “paid partnership with” tag.

Influencer marketing is exploding right now, with brands of all sizes have forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers—and using social platforms, especially Instagram, to spread their message.

In the spirit of enhanced transparency—and the added benefit of bringing even more credibility to your influencer marketing initiatives—Instagram rolled out a “paid partnership with” tag in June 2017 for posts and stories. Then, after a couple months of testing and data gathering, Instagram announced it would expand the tool.

“We have been closely working with a select group of creators and businesses throughout the Instagram community to test our new ‘Paid partnership with’ tag,” Instagram said in an update on Aug. 29. “And now, after months of gathering feedback from this test release, we’re excited to announce that access to this tool will be expanded to more of our partners across Instagram—with the global rollout being gradually released over the next few months.”

Read: What Brands Need to Know About Instagram’s New ‘Paid Partnership’ Feature

#4 – LinkedIn launches its own video capabilities.

As TopRank Marketing’s own Josh Nite so eloquently said:

“Video content is eating the internet. It started with video-specific platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Then Twitter and Facebook added support for live and pre-recorded video. Now these insatiable moving pictures are becoming serious business: LinkedIn now supports native video.”

Yes. When LinkedIn rolled out native video capabilities this year, B2B marketers everywhere rejoiced at the prospect of being able to serve up live, raw video to a professional audience. While the new offering is still in its infancy, you can bet that LinkedIn will make investments in evolving the offering to make it even easier to use in the future.

#5 – Twitter doubles its character count.

Perhaps one of the biggest social media news items of 2017 was Twitter’s decision to expand its character limit from 140 to 280. The company had been toying with the idea of super sizing its limit for a while—with rumors circulating that the limit could go as high as 10,000 characters—but it began with removing photos and links from the count in mid-2016.

The official switch to a 280-character limit came in early November, giving users (and brands and marketers) more space to express themselves—while still staying as true as possible to its commitment to brevity.

Twitter Character Count

The good news for marketers? While it’s still early, some preliminary research indicates that tweets longer than 140 characters get more engagement. SocialFlow, a social media analytics company, reported that their latest data showed that people are liking and retweeting longer tweets almost two-times more than shorter ones.

However, remember, value and resonance are what hook your audience—not your character count. So, before your rewrite all of your tweeting best practices, do your due diligence through some testing, and data collection and analysis to determine what your audience really responds to.

Read: Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience?

#6 – Facebook refreshes poll feature to include GIFs.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the invention and rising use of GIFs has made the internet so much better. And, well, Facebook just took it all to the next level by refreshing its “old” polling feature to support GIFs.

The new feature made its debut in early November and it’s pretty simple. At the top of your News Feed, click on the “What’s on your mind” section and select the ellipsis to reveal all your options, including “Poll.” For pages, select the “Event, Products, Job+” option at the top of your page. Then ask your question in the top and then select your two options via an image upload or GIF search, and hit publish.

Facebook Polls with GIFs Example

From what we can tell, this new feature isn’t widely used yet, but could pack big engagement potential. After all, it allows you to combine multiple social media best practices into one post: visual imagery, a compelling and engaging question, and a spark of humor and personality.

What’s On the Horizon for 2018?

As the old adage goes, the only constant is change—and we can certainly expect that to hold true for the social media landscape in 2018 and beyond. Of course, some of the change we can expect is already in the works—especially for Instagram.

Rumor has it that Instagram is in the midst of testing several new features on its mobile app—including a “regram” button. A couple weeks ago, The Next Web broke the news that Instagram was “secretly” testing the new feature.

As any Instagram user knows, at this point the only way to share posts from other users’ accounts is through third-party tools, or to download and re-upload to their account. If this does come to fruition, this could mean big things for brands that want to foster engagement and connect with influencers.

Other features that are reportedly being tested include: GIF search (via Giphy) to add animated GIFS to Stories, the ability to follow specific hashtags (which would be a real win for marketers), and the ability to “archive” stories.

Of course, you can bet that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even YouTube to continuously looks for ways to engage users and support advertisers. In early 2018, TopRank Marketing will release our annual Social Media Marketing Predictions, featuring insights from industry experts and thought leaders—so stay tuned for that!

What change to a social media platform got you excited, annoyed or scared in 2017? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Year In Review: 6 Platform Changes That Shook Up Social Media Marketing in 2017 | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

5 Purpose-Driven Companies Making an Inspiring Splash on Social Media

As our world becomes increasingly connected through the internet, social media and mobile technologies, consumer awareness and engagement around local and global social, economic, political and environmental challenges are soaring to new heights.

As a result, people desperately want to invest their time and money where their hearts are by supporting and working for companies that are making a positive and meaningful impact. And many companies are answering the call by throwing out conventional business models to tackle these challenges—while also bolstering and growing their bottom line. They’re finding and living their purpose.

For these companies, success isn’t grounded in simply offering “the best” product or service. Instead, it’s the purpose behind the creation and execution of those best-in-class products and services that drives success for all involved.

Of course, social media marketing is playing a major role in spurring awareness, engagement and action around what purposeful companies are all about. From breathtaking, tear-inducing photos to compelling video narratives, below I highlight a handful of these companies that have captivated my heart with their purpose and marketing mind with their social media work. And my hope is that you’ll feel the same.

#1 – Love Your Melon

If you’re regular reader of my example-heavy social media blogs, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded in hopes of making the lives of kids battling cancer in America a little better by providing them with a special hat. With each item purchased by the public, 50% of the profits are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer.

I encourage you to check out the video below about their story—of course, this has been uploaded natively to social to put all the feels out there.

Love Your Melon’s social media mix includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Across their channels, all the tried-and-true marketing best practices are working in their favor. But it’s evident that their purpose is the guiding light in how they tell their story on social. Using captivating imagery you don’t only see the amazing work being done—but you feel it, too.

Purpose-Driven Brand Love Your Melon

#2 – cuddle+kind

If you aren’t familiar with cuddle+kind, allow me to introduce you to this amazing brand where every fiber of its being seems to be dedicated to making a difference.

Started by the Woodgate family, cuddle+kind produces hand-knit, heirloom-quality dolls that not only help feed children around the world, but also provide women artisans in Peru with sustainable, fair trade income.

“As parents, we believe all children should have enough food to eat and the opportunity to thrive, so when we saw a documentary on the devastating impact of childhood hunger on millions of children around the world, it inspired us to help,” cuddle+kind’s website states. “On that day, we decided to start a company whose purpose is to help improve the lives of children and to make a difference.”

For every doll sold, cuddle+kind is able to provide 10 meals to children in need. At the time this article was written, they had already donated 2,988,823 meals.

Like Love Your Melon, cuddle+kind’s amazing visual content on social media is what draws you in—like this little number below from Instagram.

Purpose-Driven Brand Cuddle and Kind

Also, here’s a look at their most recent video release on Facebook.

#3 – Krochet Kids intl.

Founded in 2007, Krochet Kids intl. (KK intl.) is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing job opportunities for women in need. Every product is hand-signed by the person who made it and each artisan has her own profile page on the organization’s website detailing her story—with room for shoppers to leave a thank you or words of encouragement.

In honor of its 10-year anniversary, the brand launched a video series (some of them short films) highlighting the people and the stories that have made their work what it is today, which were uploaded to YouTube and shared across some of their social channels. Here’s a little taste:

Facebook is the brand’s top-channel, boasting nearly 74,000 likes, but they’re also sharing the work of their community on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. What’s really working on Facebook are the great visuals, but they also take advantage of the “Products Shown” feature to make it easy to click and shop.

Purpose-Driven Brand Krochet Kids Intl.

#4 – MudLove

MudLove was born in a tiny garage filled with big dreams and a lot of love back in 2009.

“With nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and a plan to support clean water projects in Africa, handmade creations emerged and MudLOVE was born,” MudLove’s website says. “We are artists and makers. Doers and thinkers. Number-crunchers and donut-munchers. With ‘mud’ in our hands and love in our hearts, the chance to make a difference is our inspiration to create.”

Through its partnership with Water for Good, for every product that’s purchased, a week’s worth of clean water can be provided to someone in need.

When it comes to their social media efforts, MudLove is on all the usual suspect channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Their posts are a blend of humor and hope, sharing their hand-crafted pottery pieces and bringing attention to clean water issues in developing African countries.

Purpose-Driven Brand MudLove

#5 – The Giving Keys

The Giving Keys bills itself as a “pay it forward company,” hoping to not only inspire the world to do just that, but also create jobs for those transitioning out of homelessness. Based in Los Angeles, the company makes jewelry out of repurposed keys, which are personalized with your choice of an inspirational word or phrase.

“We’re not a nonprofit, we’re a social enterprise,” the company’s websites boldly states. “So instead of raising donations, we sell product to provide jobs. A good job is a long-term solution for breaking cycles of generational poverty and homelessness. That’s why we place people on career paths and hand them the keys to unlock their fullest potential.”

On social media, their posts offer words of encouragement and inspiration, and stories of the people who they’ve been able to lift up. Of course, a smattering of pretty images of their finished products can also be found. This is one of my favorite recent Instagram posts:

Purpose-Driven Brand The Giving Keys

What’s Your Purpose?

Purpose is not your company’s mission statement. Purpose is not a set of company values. Purpose is the unique and authentic underpinning of what drives the work you do and the impact you want to make. And these brands certainly embody that, and they’re bringing it to life on their social media channels.

From our perspective, all organizations have the opportunity to uncover their true purpose. In fact, TopRank Marketing recently embarked on our own purpose initiative, which is in the discovery phase as we speak.

What have we learned so far? Each and every one of us cares deeply about a myriad of issues plaguing our networks, communities and the world at large. So, we’re starting there—we care to make a difference. And that’s where you can start, too.

Want to know more about the intersection of purpose and marketing? Read our post Evolve or Die: The Role of Purpose and Authenticity in Marketing, featuring insights from expert Mackenzie (Mack) Fogelson.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 5 Purpose-Driven Companies Making an Inspiring Splash on Social Media | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement

In the ever-changing social media landscape, we marketers are often on the prowl for meaningful data and insights to understand what works, what doesn’t and where our opportunities may lie. As a result, we often turn to industry research and studies, which often feature benchmarks that help us better internalize our own metrics and understand how we stack up to the competition.

While most studies offer incredibly insightful and useful information, one component may be missing: industry context.

Earlier this year, Rival IQ released its 2017 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, featuring unique benchmark data for six different industries: Media, Higher Education, Non-profits, Food & Beverage, Fashion and Health & Beauty.

Why is context so important? As Rival IQ so eloquently said:

Key performance indicators like engagement rate, the number of clicks on a social post, or hashtag engagement rates tells a lot about what is happening as a result of activities. But it says nothing regarding whether the efforts are successful, failing, or where to focus on closing those gaps. Why? Because benchmarks are relative. … It’s easy to compare against the best, we all know those brands. That comparison often proves worthless. Comparing yourself to only the best and biggest brands is a disservice to the work your team has invested in social media.

As we near the end of the year, you’re undoubtedly preparing your 2018 social media marketing strategy. Below I share some of the report’s industry-specific opportunities for upping social engagement that deserve your consideration.

Media

Opportunity #1: Use more video on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the study, media companies boast the highest number of posts per day on Facebook and Twitter, but also the lowest engagement rates at .12% and .015%, respectively.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

Coming from a journalism background, this certainly didn’t surprise me. As the news happens, media organizations use social media to spread the word—and even a slow news day produces plenty of shareable fodder. But most of that shared content are links to on-site content, which requires the user to take another step to consume the content.

As a result, media companies have the opportunity to not only draw more eyeballs in, but keep them there longer by incorporating more video into their social media strategy.  

Opportunity #2: Invest in Instagram.

This finding is pretty straight forward. According to the report, Instagram gets the least amount of love on a daily basis, with the average post per day being just .8. However, the engagement rate on Instagram is exponentially higher at 1.25%, signaling that Instagram audiences are ripe for more content.

Non-profits

Opportunity #1: Repurpose Facebook videos for Twitter.

According to the report, non-profits are “owning” native video, but they may not be utilizing it effectively across all its social channels. But as you can see from the graphs below, video is much more prevalent on Facebook than on Twitter, but engagement in that type of content is high on both platforms.

Facebook Engagement Metrics Nonprofits

Twitter Engagement Metrics for Nonprofits

Based on the findings, Rival IQ suggested repurposing Facebook video content (or perhaps going native) for Twitter to help up engagement rates.

Opportunity #2: Leverage high-performing hashtags.

Like the media industry, non-profits have some opportunity with Instagram. According to the report, by just increasing posts per day by .2 (one more post every five days) non-profits could see a lift in engagement. Furthermore, using trending and high-performing hashtags (and related subject matter) such as #VeteransDay in their posts could lend a boost, too.

Higher Education

Opportunity #1: Up the number of status updates on Facebook.

According to the report, colleges and universities boast some of the highest engagement rates compared to the other industries in the study.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

But what’s most interesting is that simple status updates do almost as well as video and photos. As a result, Rival IQ suggests that higher education organizations could up the number of status updates on Facebook and still receive great engagement.

Opportunity #2: Add visual elements to tweets.

While visuals aren’t necessarily an essential for higher education Facebook audiences, they’re a big opportunity for Twitter audiences. As you can see in the graph below, tweets with videos or photos have a significantly higher engagement rate.

INSERT GRAPH

Fashion

Opportunity #1: Incorporate more video across social channels.

Social posts featuring images are the most common type of posts among fashion brands, and while they get the most engagement, video is a close second—but less posts contain videos.

As the power of video becomes increasingly evident, fashion brands may want to incorporate more into their social strategy to drive more overall engagement.

Opportunity #2: Re-evaluate hashtags to make sure they are relevant to the audience.

According to the report, the top hashtags that fashion brands are currently using only provide slightly higher engagement compared to the other industries studied. Some of those top hashtags include a mix of holiday, lifestyle and fashion-related hashtags.

Top Hashtags for Fashion Brands

As a result, it may be worth it to go more industry-specific and focus on those fashion-related hashtags to be more relevant and boost engagement.

Health & Beauty

Opportunity #1: Focus on photos.

Video is undoubtedly an engagement driver and opportunity for most industries, but according to the report, that’s where the health and beauty industry differs. In fact, photos trump video in engagement on Facebook and Twitter for health and beauty companies.

Facebook Engagement Rates for Health and Beauty Brands

Twitter Engagement Rates for Health & Beauty

This signals that health and beauty brands should double-down on the creation of quality, compelling photos for use across their social channels.

Opportunity #2: Use industry-related hashtags.

When it comes to Instagram, Rival IQ’s study found that industry-related hashtags such as #moisturizer or #healthyskin—rather than just top-performing or trending hashtags like #ValentinesDay—get high engagement rates.

Food & Beverage

Opportunity #1: Invest in compelling imagery for use across channels.

Photos are the most common type of social posts for food and beverage companies—and for good reason as they drive high engagement. As a result, food and beverage brands should absolutely be investing in high-quality, compelling imagery that will resonate with their audience.

Food & Beverage Industry Social Engagement Rates

Opportunity #2: Get on the Twitter bandwagon.

According to the report, food and beverage companies are rocking it on Twitter, significantly outperforming other industries. So, if you’ve been wondering whether Twitter is worth the investment, it may be a good time to incorporate Twitter into your strategy.

Read the full Rival IQ report here.

The Bottom-Line

Simply put, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for fostering engagement on social media. While many industries have the same high-level opportunities for adding video, producing quality images and refining hashtagging strategies, there are nuances and caveats that are industry-unique.

So, as you work to refine your strategy today, tomorrow and beyond, do so with your unique industry and audience at the forefront of your mind. However, don’t neglect the great things happening outside your industry bubble. After all, a little inspiration can go a long way.

Looking for a little of that inspiration? Check out our post What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter.

Have some insight to lend on this subject? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Webinar: CX in the Age of Social Media

Using social media to deliver great customer service is no longer an option — it’s a must. Twitter reports that customer service interactions on social have jumped 250 percent in the past two years. Two-thirds of consumers are already using Twitter or Facebook for customer service. By 2020,…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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5 Questions to Answer BEFORE You Develop a Social Media Strategy

Last weekend I decided to build something. So I went to Home Depot and asked a nice man in an orange apron to tell me what supplies I needed. “Okay, what are you building?” he asked.

“Oh, you know, something…maybe out of wood? Perhaps a birdhouse, or some furniture, or a planter,” I replied. “Don’t worry; I have lots of tools and I’ve seen other people build things, so I’m ready to go. Just tell me what I need to buy.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” he replied.

Okay, so none of the above happened (call it poetic license). It’s a ridiculous scenario, right? Who would start building something without knowing what they needed, why they were building it, and what the finished product would be?

As ill-advised as it sounds, though, plenty of businesses are taking that approach to social media strategy. Our agency has seen clients ready to jump into tactics – channels, paid vs. organic, content creation – without developing the fundamentals of the strategy. They don’t know if they’re building a birdhouse or finishing a basement, but they’re powering up the table saw.

Before you start working on your social media presence, it’s vital to answer a few fundamental questions. Five questions, in fact:

 

#1: Who Are You?

If your brand was a person, would you want to hang out with them? It’s a vital question, because you’re asking people to do just that – to willingly interact on a social level with your brand.

So it’s vital to know how you will convey your brand’s values on social media (assuming you have your brand values firmly established).  You’ll need to develop a personality that is consistent with your brand but fits with the level of discourse on each social media channel.

Here are a few considerations to get you started. There are no universally correct answers to these questions, of course; it’s all about what fits your brand.

Is your brand:

  • Funny or serious?
  • Knowledgeable or inquisitive?
  • Smart like a scholar or sharp like a poker player?
  • Formal or casual?
  • Sincere or sarcastic?

Many of your answers may lie somewhere in the middle. In that case, determine where you fit on the continuum between each extreme.

At the end of the above exercise, you should have a list of four or five adjectives that describe how your brand will interact on social media: “Our brand is knowledgeable and helpful, gently humorous but sincere.

 

#2: Where Are You Now?

In a large organization, you likely already have multiple social media accounts, with multiple departments and people running them. That sort of ad hoc administration won’t do for strategic social media marketing.

Take time to map your brand’s existing social media presence, including brand accounts and high-level executive accounts. Include anyone who is actively speaking on behalf of the brand.

Once you’ve done the audit, you can consolidate channels, see which channels marketing should take over, and provide direction to channels you won’t be directly controlling.

 

#3: Why Is Your Audience on a Particular Channel?

People generally come to Instagram to post pretty pictures and check out other people’s cool photography. On LinkedIn, they want to read business articles that will help advance their career. On Facebook, they want to discuss politics with people who already agree with them. Each social channel has a different purpose, and that will inform how your brand interacts on each.

To see what kind of content your audience prizes, use a tool like Buzzsumo to track the top-performing and trending content relevant to your industry. See what people are liking, sharing, pinning, etc., and you’ll be better equipped to give audiences what they’re looking for.

 

#4: What Do You Want to Accomplish on Each Channel?

Now that you know who you are, what your raw materials are, and what your audience wants, it’s time to get to it. What are you building? Without that key element, there’s no strategy, just a series of random online interactions.

Your goals should be different for each channel. Think about what each channel is good for, what your presence already looks like, and the actions audiences can take from each. On Twitter, your goal might be raising awareness, and promoting thought leadership. But on LinkedIn you might want to capture the audience by driving them to blog subscriptions and gated assets.

Set a general goal for each channel, as well as measurable sub-goals. You should have clear metrics you can analyze and optimize.

 

#5: What Are Your KPIs (In Order of Importance)?

In a perfect world, every social media activity would increase subscribers, capture leads, and promote conversions all at once. We have plenty of prospective clients who ask for just that: An all-of-the-above approach.

Unfortunately, doing everything at once frequently means doing none of it effectively. It’s important to establish your key performance indicators, but also to prioritize them. These priorities can (and should) change over time, but you should have a starting list before you plan a campaign.

You might start with the primary goal of increasing your social audience, a secondary goal of driving subscribers to your site, and downloading an asset or other conversion as a tertiary goal. That’s enough differentiation to guide an informed strategy. Then, once you have built that audience, you might shift primary focus to the more middle and bottom-of-funnel efforts.

 

Birdhouse, Basement or Bathtub?

Before you start developing your social media strategy, take time to understand what you want to build and what materials you have to work with. Get your fundamentals straight before you start strategizing, and definitely finish the strategy before you start implementing tactics.

All that groundwork will help you treat social media as the powerful marketing tool it is. You will be far better equipped to succeed. Even better, you’ll know what success looks like, and you’ll be able to prove it to management.

Ready to strategize? Check out the fundamental elements of a successful social media marketing strategy.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 5 Questions to Answer BEFORE You Develop a Social Media Strategy | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Customer Experience in the Age of Social Media

Join our social media and CX experts as they explain how social customer service tools can help brands provide winning digital customer experiences. They’ll discuss how to manage that experience across multiple social touch points, leverage evolving social customer service tools and platforms to…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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

Writing Headlines that Serve SEO, Social Media, and Website Visitors All Together – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Have your headlines been doing some heavy lifting? If you’ve been using one headline to serve multiple audiences, you’re missing out on some key optimization opportunities. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand gives you a process for writing headlines for SEO, for social media, and for your website visitors — each custom-tailored to its audience and optimized to meet different goals.

Writing headlines that serve SEO, Social Media, and Website Visitors

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

<span id=”selection-marker-1″ class=”redactor-selection-marker”></span>

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about writing headlines. One of the big problems that headlines have is that they need to serve multiple audiences. So it’s not just ranking and search engines. Even if it was, the issue is that we need to do well on social media. We need to serve our website visitors well in order to rank in the search engines. So this gets very challenging.

I’ve tried to illustrate this with a Venn diagram here. So you can see, basically…

SEO

In the SEO world of headline writing, what I’m trying to do is rank well, earn high click-through rate, because I want a lot of those visitors to the search results to choose my result, not somebody else’s. I want low pogo-sticking. I don’t want anyone clicking the back button and choosing someone else’s result because I didn’t fulfill their needs. I need to earn links, and I’ve got to have engagement.

Social media

On the social media side, it’s pretty different actually. I’m trying to earn amplification, which can often mean the headline tells as much of the story as possible. Even if you don’t read the piece, you amplify it, you retweet it, and you re-share it. I’m looking for clicks, and I’m looking for comments and engagement on the post. I’m not necessarily too worried about that back button and the selection of another item. In fact, time on site might not even be a concern at all.

Website visitors

For website visitors, both of these are channels that drive traffic. But for the site itself, I’m trying to drive right visitors, the ones who are going to be loyal, who are going to come back, hopefully who are going to convert. I want to not confuse anyone. I want to deliver on my promise so that I don’t create a bad brand reputation and detract from people wanting to click on me in the future. For those of you have visited a site like Forbes or maybe even a BuzzFeed and you have an association of, “Oh, man, this is going to be that clickbait stuff. I don’t want to click on their stuff. I’m going to choose somebody else in the results instead of this brand that I remember having a bad experience with.”

Notable conflicts

There are some notable direct conflicts in here.

  1. Keywords for SEO can be really boring on social media sites. When you try and keyword stuff especially or be keyword-heavy, your social performance tends to go terribly.
  2. Creating mystery on social, so essentially not saying what the piece is truly about, but just creating an inkling of what it might be about harms the clarity that you need for search in order to rank well and in order to drive those clicks from a search engine. It also hurts your ability generally to do keyword targeting.
  3. The need for engagement and brand reputation that you’ve got for your website visitors is really going to hurt you if you’re trying to develop those clickbait-style pieces that do so well on social.
  4. In search, ranking for low-relevance keywords is going to drive very unhappy visitors, people who don’t care that just because you happen to rank for this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, because you didn’t serve the visitor intent with the actual content.

Getting to resolution

So how do we resolve this? Well, it’s not actually a terribly hard process. In 2017 and beyond, what’s nice is that search engines and social and visitors all have enough shared stuff that, most of the time, we can get to a good, happy resolution.

Step one: Determine who your primary audience is, your primary goals, and some prioritization of those channels.

You might say, “Hey, this piece is really targeted at search. If it does well on social, that’s fine, but this is going to be our primary traffic driver.” Or you might say, “This is really for internal website visitors who are browsing around our site. If it happens to drive some traffic from search or social, well that’s fine, but that’s not our intent.”

Step two: For non-conflict elements, optimize for the most demanding channel.

For those non-conflicting elements, so this could be the page title that you use for SEO, it doesn’t always have to perfectly match the headline. If it’s a not-even-close match, that’s a real problem, but an imperfect match can still be okay.

So what’s nice in social is you have things like Twitter cards and the Facebook markup, graph markup. That Open Graph markup means that you can have slightly different content there than what you might be using for your snippet, your meta description in search engines. So you can separate those out or choose to keep those distinct, and that can help you as well.

Step three: Author the straightforward headline first.

I’m going to ask you author the most straightforward version of the headline first.

Step four: Now write the social-friendly/click-likely version without other considerations.

Is to write the opposite of that, the most social-friendly or click-likely/click-worthy version. It doesn’t necessarily have to worry about keywords. It doesn’t have to worry about accuracy or telling the whole story without any of these other considerations.

Step five: Merge 3 & 4, and add in critical keywords.

We’re going to take three and four and just merge them into something that will work for both, that compromises in the right way, compromises based on your primary audience, your primary goals, and then add in the critical keywords that you’re going to need.

Examples:

I’ve tried to illustrate this a bit with an example. Nest, which Google bought them years ago and then they became part of the Alphabet Corporation that Google evolved into. So Nest is separately owned by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Nest came out with this new alarm system. In fact, the day we’re filming this Whiteboard Friday, they came out with a new alarm system. So they’re no longer just a provider of thermostats inside of houses. They now have something else.

Step one: So if I’m a tech news site and I’m writing about this, I know that I’m trying to target gadget and news readers. My primary channel is going to be social first, but secondarily search engines. The goal that I’m trying to reach, that’s engagement followed by visits and then hopefully some newsletter sign-ups to my tech site.

Step two: My title and headline in this case probably need to match very closely. So the social callouts, the social cards and the Open Graph, that can be unique from the meta description if need be or from the search snippet if need be.

Step three: I’m going to do step three, author the straightforward headline. That for me is going to be “Nest Has a New Alarm System, Video Doorbell, and Outdoor Camera.” A little boring, probably not going to tremendously well on social, but it probably would do decently well in search.

Step four: My social click-likely version is going to be something more like “Nest is No Longer Just a Thermostat. Their New Security System Will Blow You Away.” That’s not the best headline in the universe, but I’m not a great headline writer. However, you get the idea. This is the click-likely social version, the one that you see the headline and you go, “Ooh, they have a new security system. I wonder what’s involved in that.” You create some mystery. You don’t know that it includes a video doorbell, an outdoor camera, and an alarm. You just hear, “They’ve got a new security system. Well, I better look at it.”

Step five: Then I can try and compromise and say, “Hey, I know that I need to have video doorbell, camera, alarm, and Nest.” Those are my keywords. Those are the important ones. That’s what people are going to be searching for around this announcement, so I’ve got to have them in there. I want to have them close to the front. So “Nest’s New Alarm, Video Doorbell and Camera Are About to Be on Every Home’s Must-Have List.” All right, resolved in there.

So this process of writing headlines to serve these multiple different, sometimes competing priorities is totally possible with nearly everything you’re going to do in SEO and social and for your website visitors. This resolution process is something hopefully you can leverage to get better results.

All right, everyone, we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals

In today’s digital landscape, chances are social media is a vital piece of your marketing mix. After all, people live on social platforms these days and projections show that worldwide social media users will surpass 3 billion by 2021.

But as brands and marketers fight for visibility in crowded, “algorithm-enhanced” news feeds, how many of you are actually reaching your strategic social media marketing objectives? Better yet, how many of you can say you have well-defined, relevant and measurable goals outlined within your social strategy?

As a marketer, you know there can be no strategy without goals. Goals are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. But how do you define those goals?

The truth is there’s a lot to consider such as your industry, overall business objectives, budget and resources. With that said, whether you need to start from scratch or it’s time to give your goals a refresh, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself along the way:

#1 – How does social media map to my overall marketing objectives?

Your social media marketing efforts are an integral part of your entire marketing strategy. As such, the goals you set should absolutely support what you’re trying to achieve at a high level. It’s as simple as that.


Your #socialmedia goals should absolutely map to your overall #marketing objectives.
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#2 – Who is my social audience?

You know that the foundation of any marketing initiative is understanding your audience’s pain points, motivations, interests and needs. But those defining characteristics may manifest themselves a bit differently on social media. After all, social media is a personal outlet for many, so their motivations for engaging with a brand may be different than if they received an email from you or found you via search.

As a result, in order to define your social media objectives, you need to understand why your audience is on social media and what they care about most on those platforms.

#3 – How does my audience differ across social channels?

Every social media channel offers something a little unique, which means your audience may differ from channel to channel. As a result, your goals—as well as your strategy to reach those goals—should reflect that.

#4 – What does my audience expect from me?

Let’s face it. The goals you set are going to be rooted in some type of audience action. But to inspire that action, you need to think about what your audience’s expectations are and how you’ll meet them. Is it quick and empathetic customer service? Conversation? Entertainment? Helpful information and resources?

#5 – What do I really want from my social media efforts?

Brand awareness and audience engagement are typically the top goals of any social media marketing strategy. But challenge yourself to go deeper as you define your goals. For example, if community engagement is a top priority, what does that actually look like to you? Is it likes, shares, comments, reviews, website traffic or a combination of them all?


As your define your #socialmedia goals, challenge yourself to go deeper & deeper.
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#6 – Are my goals measurable?

At the end of the day, your goals have to be measurable. How else are you going to know if you’ve actually achieved what you set out to do?

In Need of More Social Media Marketing Inspiration?

Then check out these helpful resources:

  • Does Snark = Sales? What Consumers REALLY Want from Brands on Social Media
  • 3 Important Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO
  • 7 Examples of eCommerce Brands Rocking Social Media Marketing

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