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.

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7 Examples of Brands Leveraging Twitter for Social Customer Care

Twitter Customer Care

These days, there’s little doubt that social media is plays a pivotal role in a brand’s marketing strategy. After all, with roughly 2 billion internet users on social networks and counting, there’s massive reach and resonance potential.

But couple widespread adoption with shifting consumer preferences and expectations—and the smell of major change is in the air. Social media is no longer just a marketing tool and a space to encourage positive engagement with your audience, it’s a customer service opportunity that deserves every marketer’s attention and action.

As Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, told me in his Behind the Curtain interview a few months back: marketers need to stop thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem:

“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.”

Twitter presents one of the most unique and challenging social care opportunities. It’s real-time, fast-paced environment seems to be a go-to place for consumers to air grievances, call out for help or sing a brand’s praises—something Twitter itself has recognized.

“Fifty years ago, the 1-800 number revolutionized customer service. Customers suddenly had a free, live connection to companies from the comfort of their homes,” Twitter says in its Customer Service on Twitter Playbook. “We are at a similar inflection point for how brands deliver customer service: today, people are contacting brands via Twitter with the expectation of a helpful and human response; all on stage for the world to see.”

With that said, over the past few months, several B2B and B2C brands with social customer care programs have caught my eye on Twitter. Below I share some those brands and respective examples.

#1 – Amazon

From children’s books to groceries for tonight’s dinner menu, there’s no question that Amazon is revolutionizing the way we shop for nearly everything. So, it may not surprise you that they’ve stepped up to meet consumer demand for fast and personalized customer service on social media. In fact, like many brands are now doing, Amazon has a dedicated support account on Twitter: @AmazonHelp.

But what’s really impressive is that the Twitter helpline is equipped to offer support in multiple languages including English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian. In addition, customer service agents include their initials on all communications, which adds a human element. Finally, it appears that Amazon helpers are also on the lookout for opportunities to engage with happy customers who haven’t even engaged them directly.

This example is sort of a roll up of these traits. With a customer expressing his happiness for being able to watch a series on Amazon Prime, Amazon responds with a question to continue the engagement and a GIF to make a splash—and all in Spanish, with the conversation carrying on for a few tweets.

Amazon Social Care Example

To me, all this signals their deep commitment to meeting their customer’s needs and building relationships. And from a marketing perspective, this certainly strengthens the value add of their brand and reinforces loyalty.

#2 – UPS

Like every courier service, UPS has an important job to do: get every package delivered to the right location, at the right time, and without any damage to the package contents. However, on a daily basis, UPS is tasked with delivering roughly 19.1 million packages and documents around the globe—so mistakes most certainly happen for one reason or another.

But for anyone who’s ever been waiting on a special package, mistakes really rile us up and we don’t really care what the circumstances are. After all, couriers are in the business of delivering—so if things go wrong, we expect a quick fix. To provide that fast service and meet their customers where they’re comfortable, UPS has established a customer service Twitter account: @UPSHelp.

What stood out to me, is that UPS utilizes Twitter’s private messaging feature. To resolve any issue, UPS needs the tracking numbers for the packages involved, which is private customer information. So, more often than not, you’ll notice a “Send a private message” option at the end of a tweet. This makes it easy for customers to take the next step to get their gripe resolved and protect their information.

UPS Social Care Example

#3 – Intel

While any organization engaging in social care is bound to field customer complaints, sometimes providing a great social care is answering simple questions and real-time troubleshooting.

Intel is a great example of a brand delivering precise recommendations and resources to help their customers troubleshoot a range of issues. In addition, like UPS, Intel also leverages the “Send a private message” feature when appropriate to take a public conversation private. In the example below, Intel gives this customer everything he needs to solve his issue.

Intel Social Care Example

#4 – Constant Contact

Constant Contact has built its business on helping their customers communicate effectively with their respective audiences. So, it’s only right that they’d make easy and fast communication a priority by engaging in social care.

Like others on our list, Constant Contact has a dedicated customer service account on Twitter: @CTCTHelp. What I found interesting here is the proactive communication that’s happening. Customer service reps aren’t just responding to inquiries and complaints, but also sharing important information and reminders—from holiday best wishes and grammar tips to links to the latest product updates and bug fixes.

Constant Contact Social Care Example

#5 – Starbucks

After nearly 50 years in business and with thousands of stores worldwide, there’s no question that Starbucks has cultivated a massive and loyal following of coffee fanatics around the globe. But while the deep brand affinity Starbucks has built is a testament to their product and service, like any business, fans can be just as easily dismayed as overjoyed.

So—from a customer lamenting the end of a seasonal drink’s annual run and bad service experiences to a happy customer indulging in her first Peppermint Mocha of 2018—Starbucks embraces all feedback and makes it a point to respond to (apparently) every engagement with the brand on Twitter. To really drive it home, Starbucks appears to be continually monitoring related hashtags and even non-tagged mentions of the brand, to level up its “we’re here for you” persona in real life and on Twitter.

Starbucks Social Care Example

#6 – Buffer

The award for calming, empathetic and personalized social care goes to Buffer. Whether someone is throwing out an idea for improving the platform or experiencing a performance issue, Buffer helpers make a serious effort to let folks know they understand their frustration, are there to help and can work to find a solution. Also, whoever is responding to a request or complaint always signs their full name within the Tweet, adding an extra human touch and level of transparency.

Below is a great example. The user is asking for some scheduling information guidance, and Buffer’s Octavio delivers with a detailed, personalized and upbeat response.

Buffer Social Care Example

#7 – LinkedIn (client)

There may be no better endorsement of the importance and benefit of embracing customer service on Twitter than other social networks taking part in it all. Such is the case with LinkedIn. Through its dedicated @LinkedInHelp account, the LinkedIn Customer Service team is standing at the ready to offer guidance and help troubleshoot issues.

As with others mentioned in this post, LinkedIn helpers provide personalized responses to users, signing each message with initials or a full name. While the example below is a simple and easily remedied issue, the service rep attached a screenshot to make it easy for the user to find the menu item they’re looking for, but also added additional troubleshooting instructions just in case.

LinkedIn Social Care Example

Great Social Care = Better Brand Experiences

While most social customer care programs are likely administered by a brand’s customer service team, the marketing department can and should be a dedicated partner. At the end of the day, more and more people are using Twitter and other social media sites to share their brand experiences—and those experiences not only have the potential to impact a brand’s identity, but they’re also gold mines for marketing insights.

The bottom line? If your brand isn’t on the path to providing social customer care, now is the time to consider making moves. As social media becomes increasingly embedded in our daily lives and culture, brands have the opportunity to use social care as a marketing advantage and relationship building tool.

What brands have caught your eye on Twitter for their social care efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.


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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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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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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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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,…

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Digital Marketing News: Social Storefront, The Trust Project and Facebook’s New App

Social Content is the New Storefront [Infographic] Regardless what others might say, social content is here to stay. Instead of heading to local storefronts, consumers are now heading to social media platforms to find what they need in the in and off-season. Social Media Today Google tries to bring more transparency to news content with help from The Trust Project Google has teamed up with The Trust Project that works with over 75 news organizations to determine the difference between quality and promotional content that may be plagued with misinformation. Search Engine Land Facebook’s New App Connects Creators With Video, Fans And Watch Shows Facebook is on the hunt for new influencers and wants to see how these experts interact with their networks. Their new app will give “internet stars” a chance to publish, edit and film live video with their audiences. AdAge Google’s Big Daddy Update: Big Changes to Google’s Infrastructure & the SERPs Big Daddy has been on the scene since 2005 as part of infrastructure changes. And while it hasn’t always been a fan favorite, it has impacted the approach to SEO. Search Engine Journal The State Of Subscription Video, In 5 Charts With more and more content publishers and brands looking to video as the new frontier, many are also looking to monetize their offerings. But how well does subscription video perform in our current content landscape? Digiday Google aims to make apps for Google Assistant more functional and discoverable Are homes getting smarter with the help of Google? According to Google, they are making a number of updates to make it easier for third party apps to integrate and develop specific items for key users. Search Engine Land The Huge Impact of Amazon This Holiday Season (And How Retailers Can Compete) It’s getting even harder to compete with larger retailers during the holiday season. In fact, a new report found that shoppers expect to make at least one purchase for Amazon. Where does that leave other retailers during the holiday season? MarketingProfs LinkedIn lets advertisers generate leads from Sponsored InMail, Dynamic Ad campaigns As of April (no fools) LinkedIn launched their lead gen forms which let advertisers collect information through Sponsored Content Ads.Now, these options are available to members using the Sponsored InMail ad format which has enabled brands to add their own questions to the forms. MarketingLand What were your top digital marketing news stories this week? We’ll be back next week with more digital marketing news! If you need more in the meantime, follow @toprank on Twitter or leave your thoughts in the comments.

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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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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…

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