Search to Social Ads: How to Use Google With Facebook to Build Niche Audiences

Does your business serve a specialized customer base? Wondering how to reach specific niche audiences with Facebook ads? To explore a strategy for retargeting specialized audiences using Google ads in combination with Facebook ads, I interview Shane Sams. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

Does Snark = Sales? What Consumers REALLY Want from Brands on Social Media

Social media marketers, do you feel a brief pang of envy when a brand gets sassy on Twitter or Facebook? Do you wish you had the brand identity and/or corporate backing to smack down a troll, a la Wendy’s?

Me too. It’s only natural. Even in a profession as inherently creative as marketing, some of us can fly our freak flags higher than others. If you’re working in financial services, or healthcare, or any number of staid verticals, odds are you have to keep your sarcasm in check.

We may never get the sweet satisfaction of seeing a tweet full of biting wit go viral. But we have to keep perspective. Are we here to get featured on Buzzfeed, or to generate revenue? Does the snark really translate to sales?

The good folks at Sprout Social just released their Q2 2017 Sprout Social Index, and they’re taking aim at precisely that question. People like brands with “personality,” sure. But what do consumers really want from brands on social media? And how should those preferences inform your social media marketing strategy? Let’s run the numbers.

#1: Funny Is Good, But It Isn’t Everything  

Infusing a little humor into a brand is a good way to express personality. It lets people know that there are actual human beings behind the brand, seeking to entertain just as much as they inform.

As a once and future comedy writer, I’m an advocate for humor in marketing. But we should make sure the humor is not all that we’re bringing to the table.

Sprout Social found that while 3 in 4 consumers appreciate humor from brands, being funny was 4th on the list of what consumers really want from brands on social media:

Social Media Marketing Consumer Preferences

The far-and-away winners are honest, friendly, and helpful. If you have these three covered, then you can add in the humor. On the other hand, if you’re not honest, friendly, or helpful, no level of funniness will make up for the lack.

It’s also worth noting how far down the list “trendy” and “snarky” are. There’s no shortage of brands trying to be edgy and au courant. But it looks like less than half of consumers want their brand to be the quip-slinging cool kid from a 90’s sitcom.

The bottom line: Humor is a welcome trait for a brand, but mean-spirited or edgy humor is likely to turn customers off (even if it lands you an AdWeek shoutout). And if you’re not being honest and helping people, no amount of humor can save you.

#2: Consider the Platform

Just as your brand has its own identity, every social network has a unique identity. Facebook is a casual place to post cute pictures and start political arguments. Twitter is an even more casual place to start extremely character-limited political arguments. LinkedIn is more buttoned-down and professional, with only occasional political arguments.

Your audience on each platform has a unique set of expectations, based not just on your brand, but on the platform itself.

How Platform Changes Social Media Marketing Preferences

People like personality on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, but not so much on LinkedIn. So it’s important to adjust your messaging for each.

Most of us are scheduling social media messages with a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer, and it’s easy to blast a single message across platforms. But don’t do that. Take a few minutes to craft unique messages for each channel, keeping audience expectation in mind. That bit of extra effort will help make your posts more engaging, and keep your most dedicated audience from seeing the same message multiple times.

#3: Know Your Audience

Social media is not a homogenous audience that’s the same for every brand. It’s a platform for connecting with your particular most-valued consumers. How your brand approaches social media, then, should be a byproduct of how your audience wants to interact with your brand. These preferences can vary widely across demographics.

For example, 74% of Gen X and Baby Boomers said they found it annoying when a brand uses slang. But only 59% of Millennials shared that sentiment. Millennials are also far more tolerant of brands making fun of competing brands:

What Consumers Find Annoying on Social Media

How your brand should express personality on social media is dependent on your target audience. If your demographic still uses words like “hip” and “groovy,” it’s probably not hip or groovy for your brand to use them. However, if your target audience thinks things are “totes adorbs” and “can’t even,” you stand a better chance of connecting with slang.

It’s vital to find the intersection of your brand personality with your audience preferences, and let that drive how you present the brand on social.

#4: Bring Value to Drive Sales

To quote my personal hero, Captain Obvious, “the purpose of social media marketing is ultimately to drive sales.” If going viral with a funny tweet contributes to the bottom line, that’s a tactic worth pursuing. The research shows, though, that most people aren’t following brands just for laughs:

Brand Actions that Prompt Social Media Sales

When it comes to driving sales, humor is 5th on the list. Being responsive, offering promotions, and providing educational content are all more likely to inspire a purchase decision.

What do people really want from brands on social? The same thing they want from brands everywhere else. First, people want to be heard, to engage in a productive dialog. Second, they want to be offered something of value, whether it’s a deal on your solution or simply valuable information. When people are looking for help, you have to bring more than jokes to the table.

Check out the full Q2 2017 Sprout Social Index for more insights.

Helping People Is the Top Priority

Giving your brand a winning personality is great. It makes creating and consuming your content more fun. But personality should be the seasoning for your social media marketing, not the main course. Start with being helpful, being honest, and providing something of value in exchange for your audience’s time. Then add a little sprinkle of personality on top, like so:

See? You can be helpful and funny at the same time.

Need help maintaining your social media presence? Let us handle your social media marketing.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | Does Snark = Sales? What Consumers REALLY Want from Brands on Social Media | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Track Dark Social Traffic in Google Analytics

Are links to your content shared via private messages on social media? Wondering how to identify and measure that traffic? Dark social traffic comes from sources such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter DMs, and even email. Being able to accurately trace this traffic will give you a more complete picture of how your content is performing. […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Use Facebook Messenger for Social Customer Service

Want to provide better customer service on Facebook? Wondering how Facebook Messenger can help? In this article, you’ll discover how to use Facebook Messenger as a valuable social customer care tool. Why Messenger for the Front Lines of Customer Care? According to USA Today, Facebook views Messenger for Business as a venue for “conversational commerce.” […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

3 Ways to Easily Caption Social Media Video

Worried that most people view your social media video with the sound off? Looking for quick and efficient ways to produce captioned video? In this article, you’ll discover three ways to automatically caption social media video. #1: Use Live Titles to Caption Apple Clips Need a quicker way to do captions for a video? Apple […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

3 Important Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO

Today, there’s little doubt among marketers that SEO and social media are two must-have components of any effective digital marketing strategy. After all, SEO is arguably the founding-father-tactic of digital marketing, and social media is the place on the web where our audiences gather, share and engage every day.

But over the years, there’s been some confusion on how these two tactics work together to achieve marketing results—and understandably so. Back in 2010, Google told Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that links shared on Facebook and Twitter were used as a ranking signal. Then in 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts released a video stating Facebook and Twitter pages were “currently” treated like any other web page for search—i.e. social media was no longer a direct ranking factor.

However, regardless of whether social signals are used as a ranking factor—when done right—social media can most definitely enhance your SEO efforts. How? Below I share three reasons why, as well as some tips to make your social content more SEO friendly.

#1 – Your social media efforts can lead to quality backlinks.

While ranking science on backlinks has evolved over the years, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines. As a result, link building or link earning is still a widely-used tactic among marketers—and your social media pages can be the perfect staging ground for enticing links.

The logic here is pretty simple. Social media marketing is all about sharing your best of the best content, and fostering engagement around that content. The more engaging your content, the more people will share, and the more opportunities people will have to find and link to your content.

#2 – Social media increases the visibility of your content—which is ultimately the goal of SEO.

Social media pages give your website and blog content another place to live and encourage discussion. And while your pages can be so much more than a promotional platform, one of the greatest social media benefits is the potential reach your content could get.

Of course, I asked my TopRank Marketing comrade Steve Slater, Digital Advertising & SEO Manager, to weigh in here, too. Here’s what he had to say.

“Whether or not social shares and metrics have an impact on ranking without them you are 100% at the mercy of Google organic,” he said. “Without social or paid or any promotional efforts, you are basically hitting publish and hoping for the best. You’re hoping that your content will just ‘go viral and take off.’ So, I think the question is not really, do social signals impact rankings? But rather, is anyone going to see this if I don’t promote it?”

#3 – Social media helps build brand awareness—which can carry over to users’ search queries.

Your social media pages add another digital space for your target audience to find you and engage with you, allowing you to build up your audience and your brand. Of course, when this happens people will more easily recognize you in search and be more inclined to click. In addition, that brand awareness you’ve built on social could mean more branded organic search traffic coming to your site or your other social pages (since those often rank in branded searches, too).

Quick Tips to Intertwine Social & SEO

While social media can add a nice little boost to your SEO efforts, the reverse—of course—is also true. Here are a couple quick tips for marrying social content and SEO.

  • Optimize your posts and profiles. Social media platforms are search engines. So, make sure craft your posts with both users and SEO in mind. In addition, optimize your social profiles with the same logic.
  • Leverage hashtags in the right way. Especially when it comes to Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are how people find the content they’re looking for; hashtags are their search queries. Research hashtag best practices for each platform to understand if and how to use them. In addition, make sure you understand what hashtags actually mean, so you can use them in the appropriate way for each platform. Use the native search box within social platforms, as well as tools such as Hashtagify.me or Hashtags.org.
  • Draft optimized social messages when you’re crafting new content. Any content you’re creating for your website or blog should have an SEO component. As you’re creating this content, create several optimized social posts to go along with it. This will help you create relevant messages that can be found in native searches.
  • Use mentioning and tagging to build more relevance—and signal influencers. Mentioning and tagging other pages and users in your content is one of the best ways to amplify your posts. Not only do those you tag and mention get notified when you do so, but they’ll be more compelled to engage on your post or share your post with their audience. And as mentioned above, the more shares and engagement, the better the reach and the more potential for driving quality traffic and backlinks.

Be the Best Answer for Your Audience

At TopRank Marketing, we practice what our CEO Lee Odden likes to call “The Best Answer Strategy.” For marketers, this means crafting an integrated marketing strategy that helps you be the best answer for your audience—whenever and wherever your audience is searching. And a component of that strategy is certainly leveraging social media marketing and SEO individually, and together.

For more best answer tips, continue to peruse the TopRank Marketing blog, and feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments of any post.


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Digital Marketing News: Sustainable Social, Mobile Search Makeover and The Hiring Climate

How to Build a Sustainable Social Marketing Strategy [Infographic] Maximize your marketing efforts by understanding core best practices including, emphasize visual content, use infographics if you’re a B2B brand and avoid clickbait titles. This infographic also shows stats that will help you understand audience behaviors and interests on social media. (Social Media Today) Google is Testing a New Design for Mobile Search Results Google is testing a new design for both paid and organic search results. Some changes include the URL is now at the top of search cards, there are fewer ads and more color has been added to organic search cards. (Search Engine Journal) The Marketing and Advertising Hiring Climate Recent research shows that most marketing and advertising executives expect to keep the size of their creative staff steady in the second half of 2017. Get insight into hiring plans for full-time creative employees, hiring priorities for specific positions and the most challenging areas for companies to fill for the second half of the year. (Marketing Profs) Fun fact: TopRank Marketing happens to be in the 9% of marketing companies expanding their team in the second half of 2017! Visit our careers page to learn more.  Facebook is Testing the Addition of Pages’ Descriptions to Their Cover Images Facebook has confirmed that it is testing Pages’ descriptions to their cover images. Right now, the feature is desktop-only, and descriptions can be up to 100 characters. Text can be edited via the Edit Information option on the cover image. (AdWeek) Snapchat Lets You Add Links, Voice Filters and Backdrops to Snap With Paperclip, you can attach a website to a Snap and your friends can swipe up to open the link in Snapchat’s internal browser. The Backdrops feature lets you cut out an object from your Snap and put a colorful pattern behind it to make it stick out, and Voice Filters let you change the sound of voices in your Snaps. (Tech Crunch) Google Posts are Removed After 7 Days, With One Exception Most Google posts are removed 7 days after they are first published. The exception is posts that are based on local events. These posts are removed after the event date. Google Posts allows brands to share timely messages with their customers, which show up in the local panel on a web search and Google Maps. (Search Engine Land) Introducing Photo and Video Replies to Stories You can now reply to Stories with a photo or a video. With access to any creative tools in the camera, including face filters, stickers and Rewind, you can be more fun and playful in your responses. Just like with other replies, you’ll see the reply in your inbox. (Instagram Blog) YouTube Heats Up VR Market YouTube is promoting the development and creation of VR videos with new resources and tools that help developers and make VR more attractive for marketing. YouTube has also extended applications for intensive training at VR Creator Lab. (DM News) What were your top digital marketing news stories this week? We’ll be back next week with more news from the wide world of digital marketing. If you’re craving more news and insights, follow @toprank on Twitter!

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

CMWorld Interview: Citrix’s Justin Levy Takes a Dive into Top Social Media Opportunities

The lines between long-form content and social media marketing are becoming blurrier each day. Social networks now allow for native video viewing, live video and even some long-form content. They have essentially become their own content platforms competing with blogs and brand websites.

Facebook alone is on pace to hit approximately 2 billion users this year and other social networks are growing at a rapid pace as well.

To better understand the role that social media marketing plays in today’s digital world, I decided to pick the brain of one of today’s top social media leaders, Justin Levy. Justin is the Director of Social Marketing at Citrix and in addition to being an incredibly talented marketer, he’s very open to sharing what he knows to help other marketers learn and grow.

Justin is part of the star-studded cast that will be presenting at Content Marketing World in September and provided great insights into his favorite parts of his role at Citrix, top opportunities for marketers today and a preview into what attendees will learn from his session at Content Marketing World.

What does your role as Director of Social Marketing at Citrix entail?

I oversee global social media at Citrix. That includes setting the strategy for our community management across the company’s corporate and core channels (internationally), management of paid social spend, social governance across the company, setting social media policy and overseeing the governance over all other accounts.

I am a member of the corporate communications leadership team. That means that me and my team are responsible for all social aspects of our communications motions.

Additionally, my team is responsible for end-to-end management of the corporate blog and employee social advocacy. That means we are reviewing every blog post and working with internal authors to analyze post performance.

What do you like best about your role at Citrix?

When I think about it, there are two major areas of my role at Citrix that I thoroughly enjoy:

Exposing People to the Power of Social Media

I particularly enjoy developing relationships with internal team members and exposing them to  the true power of social media. Social media is still so basic for so many people. The reality is that so many people are still operating at a 101 level but may not even realize it. I try to help others see that the social media universe is broader than simply “being on Twitter”.


To be able to change someone’s perspective about social media is pretty cool. @justinlevy
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Exploring Diversity & Inclusion

Everything at Citrix surrounding diversity and inclusion is led by our executive leadership team, including our CEO and Chief People Officer. They feel very strongly about talking about diversity and inclusion and what we’re doing here at Citrix along with our corporate citizenship in the communities where we have a presence.

We have a large customer conference every year called Citrix Synergy and have always been able to integrate planning for this conference with our corporate citizenship team. This year though, we came up with a plan to give back to the Heart of Florida United Way (Orlando).

United Way wasn’t sure how much they would receive but the max we had communicated was that they would receive $ 30,000 for the organization. Their Chief Marketing Officer decided to come to the conference and receive the check. We were actually able to raise over $ 52,000 for their organization and you could tell that their team was touched by the effort.

When you can impact someone like that in your job, especially one that is social, it’s a great feeling.

How have the other positions you’ve held in your career impacted how you approach digital marketing today? 

I have always had a viewpoint.

Before coming to Citrix I ran an early social media agency with Chris Brogan right around when he came out with his NYT Bestseller, Trust Agents.


Working with @chrisbrogan is what really gave me some of my social media chops. @justinlevy
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What do you think is one opportunity that many marketers are not taking advantage of today?

I have always had this feeling that people in a social media positions should align with other team members in legal, security, IT and PR.
Too often, teams come in and think that they are going to run around and create images and do whatever they’re going to do (and ask for forgiveness later). That approach can often get them in a lot of trouble, and put the company at risk.
One of the first things I did when I started at Citrix was to review the social governance policy and speak to the legal team so that I could start to understand what was considered right or wrong for our brand. One of the very early conversations became a running joke that “I’ll teach them social media and they’ll teach me legal”. I also try to ensure that I provide them updates from legal decisions that are made around social media because I don’t expect them to be on the hunt for social changes. This helps us determine as a team if we are protected or need to make changes.

In addition to working with the legal team, I also make sure to align with our securities application team. That way we can keep them updated on what is going on from a security perspective. The reason being that social media and email are often the places where security breaches happen which can expose the company to unnecessary risk.

By taking these steps when I first started, these relationships have blossomed and provided my team and I with some air-cover.

What is the biggest social media marketing mistake that you see many marketers making today? How can it be fixed?

One of the things I see social media marketing teams do at times and I don’t think aligns with their legal teams on is, using GIFs that they just find online.

We stay away from them because there is potential copyright infringement with GIFs, memes and even photography.

I am not willing to expose our international brand to legal issues over a photo.

What are some tips for marketers to become more savvy in utilizing social media as a means to connect with industry influencers? What shouldn’t they do?

Many of the people I choose to work with (like the team at TopRank Marketing) are people that I have an existing relationship with. I find that these people do a great job of reaching out for my insights on topics that they know I am knowledgeable about. I also enjoy working with teams that help me edit where needed, promote the content we created together and make it easy to share.

On the flipside, when someone tags me (and 500 other marketers) in a Facebook post or spams my social media, I don’t respond because it’s not genuine.

Do you have any advice for other marketers who are making the transition from content creation to a marketing leadership role like yours?

The most important piece is to make sure that you are aligned. You can get in the weeds when it’s the right time, but you have to consider the broader strategy. Does it integrate with other teams and company leadership?


You have to move from looking at marketing tactically to looking at it strategically. @justinlevy
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If you work on the strategy from that vantage point then you will have alignment that will help determine what you should work on, and how you can empower other members of your team.

With our program, we take the time to custom write the type of tweets and types of updates we would like them to share out. We take the time to provide them with content.

You also have to realize that things can change quickly internally and externally. So while you should have a content calendar to guide you, there are times when higher priority items come in and everything that you had planned changes.

In your presentation at Content Marketing World you’ll be sharing the insights into how your team at Citrix overhauled your Wikipedia presence. Without giving it all away, what are 3 things attendees will learn from your session?

First of all, you need to know what you’re working with. That requires completing an audit of your presence across Wikipedia. To be honest, when we started we didn’t know what ours looked like.

Next, you need to prioritize updating your main company page. Everything else comes secondary to that.

Wikipedia is an entirely different language. You have to know how to work technically within the site and with their editors to develop consistency.

Make sure that you have someone whether they are on your team or an outside resource, that can work within Wikipedia’s guidelines.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2017?

Joe Pulizzi always gives a fantastic overview at the start of the event. He typically shares an inspiring look at the future based on the most recent research conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Three of my other favorite speakers are Scott Stratten, Mitch Joel and Ann Handley. Each one of them is dynamic and fantastic in their own way. Seeing them speak is a very special experience, because they impart deep knowledge on the topics they’re speaking on because that is what they’re passionate about.

Want More?

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us Justin!

If you’d like to learn more from Justin and 14 of his fellow Content Marketing World speakers, check out the final eBook in our series, In-Flight Content Guide: Making the Most of Your Content Journey.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | CMWorld Interview: Citrix’s Justin Levy Takes a Dive into Top Social Media Opportunities | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

How Consumers Respond to Brands on Social Media: New Research

Want to know why some brands connect with consumers more than others on social media? Wondering if the tone of your social media marketing is affecting sales? In this article, you’ll find insights from new research that reveal how consumers feel about the content and conversations businesses are serving up on social media. #1: Brand […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

How to Create a Social Media Policy for Your Employees

Want to help your employees better engage on social media? Wondering how a social media policy can help? A social media policy gives your employees guidelines for interacting with customers and protecting their personal safety, as well as your business’s reputation. In this article, you’ll discover three tips for creating a social media policy for […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle