How to Add Adults-Only Age Verification to Your WordPress Site

How to Add Adults-Only Age Verification to Your WordPress Site

Do you know who is visiting your website? And, more importantly, does the demographic of your visitors even matter? For some businesses and bloggers, that answer is a resounding: YES.

If you’re reading this, you probably have (or need to implement) an age requirement restriction for visitors to your site. There are a variety of reasons for needing to restrict access to your content, but there are only a handful of ways you can go about enforcing this.

In this article, I’ll explore reasons why you may want to consider restricting access and some steps and tools for stricter regulation of your content—for your audience’s sake as well as your own.

Age Verification Restrictions: Does Your Site Need Them?

The world is a much different place than it was a couple decades ago. With the rise of digital technology and always-on access, anyone with an internet-enabled device can gain access to your site. While this has done wonders for businesses looking to expand their reach, it simultaneously poses a problem: how are you supposed to keep out those who aren’t old enough to view your content or purchase from your storefront?

If you’re seeking a way to restrict access to your website based on visitor age, it’s most likely because your content is not suitable for underage individuals. Here are some of the more common reasons:

  • Your website contains adult humor and subject matter unsuitable for children.
  • You sell or promote anything alcohol or cigarette-related which it shouldn’t be viewed by anyone too young to purchase.
  • Your website offers sex- or dating-related content or services.
  • Your website contains violence or other content deemed inappropriate for younger audiences (think of rated “R” movies or songs with explicit lyrics, for example).
  • You offer a contest, membership, or another form of sign-up that requires the winner or member to be of a certain age.
  • Your services require a valid credit card or driver’s license.

Regardless of your reason—moral, ethical, legal, monetary, or other—the fact of the matter is that you, as a website owner, need to be responsible for upholding this restriction. Ideally, parents, schools, libraries, and anyone else providing internet access to children would be the ones teaching them about what is suitable content and what is not, and putting firm and well-monitored restrictions in place. But that’s not a realistic expectation.

Parental and educational guidance will only go so far, and that’s why age verification and restriction is such an important consideration to make when establishing your website. There are a number of laws and task forces in place to make sure underage individuals are protected from unsafe or unsuitable content (like COPPA, CIPA, and the FBI’s Cyber Crime division, to name a few), so it’s important to make sure your website and business are covered.

There are too many avenues through which underage users can access inappropriate content online, so do your due diligence as a responsible business owner/blogger/service provider and add the appropriate restrictions to your WordPress website.

Age Verification Restrictions: What Steps Can You Take?

Many of the suggestions mentioned below are, of course, going to be plugins. WordPress is a platform known for securing both users and visitors alike, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone has thought of developing plugins to help websites build extra protection/restrictions against the wrong type of visitor (namely, those who are too young to view the content).

Whether you already have an age verification system or tool on your site or not, these tools are worth a look. If you want an extra layer of restriction, are looking for a nicer way to display a warning notice, are curious about newer and more effective plugins, or are afraid you’re missing something, this list of suggestions will cover your questions.

Jack Daniel's asks visitors to verify their age before entering their site.
Jack Daniel’s asks visitors to verify their age before entering their site.

Step 1: Add a Privacy Policy

Every website should have a privacy policy in place. Why? Because you need to let visitors know that you have them covered and that you’re not collecting their information for unsavory purposes. Need another reason? Well, the privacy policy is especially necessary when it comes to child protection laws and ensuring that your site abides by them.

Privacy policies should include information related to:

  • The type of information you collect from visitors.
  • How you go about collecting it: via cookies, analytics, sign-up forms, etc.
  • Any specific third-parties involved in setting up cookies and targeting visitors once they’ve left your website.

Our suggestion to you is to not take any chances and make sure you’ve got a privacy policy in place. If you’re not sure how to create one, find either a template or a plugin that will help you prepare one.

Suggested Tool: The Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy plugin has you covered. Once installed in WordPress, go to Settings > Auto TOS & PP so you can customize and grab the shortcodes for embedding on your website. (The best place to put this will be in the footer as well as on any age verification request page or popup.)

Step 2: Create an Age Disclaimer Page

Now let’s talk about setting up restriction gates.

Depending on how much your website needs restricting (for some of you it may just be a page or some blog content), an age disclaimer home page might be a good starting place. While the disclaimer itself won’t be enough to deter underage visitors from clicking through to see the rest of the site, it will still notify visitors of the mature content they’re about to see (or the other blocks they can expect to encounter).

There are a few options for a disclaimer page. You can create a new home page, brand it to the rest of your website, and:

  • Add a note that mentions the age restriction, like “Are you 18 or older?” Once they click “Yes” they’ll then be taken to the rest of the site.
  • Add a form that requires the visitor to enter their birthdate for confirmation. If the age is over your requirement, they can then enter the site.
  • Add a login or sign-up requirement so that you can manage which visitors can actually gain access to your website.

Again, none of these options are necessarily going to keep out visitors who don’t meet your age requirement, but it will at least serve as a first warning. Remember to have other systems in place to properly vet visitors’ eligibility.

Suggested Tool: No other tools needed aside from your own web design/development skills to set up the page.

Step 3: Set up a Verification System

Once you’ve got all the general statements regarding the nature of your content out of the way, it’s time to set up a verification system.

Verification systems will work similarly to the Jack Daniel’s website. Verification system plugins don’t require users to build a separate home page disclaimer warning, so you’ll be able to skip step 3 if you choose to go this route. In addition, all access to the website is blocked. Visitors must confirm their date of birth and then agree to your website’s privacy policy, terms of use, and use of cookies. Once they’ve done that, they are then given access to the site.

Again, it’s important to remember that an age verification system can only work so long as your visitors are honest about their age. As long as you’ve informed them of the risks and protected yourself with privacy statements, you’ve taken the right steps in protecting your website and business from unlawful activity (on the side of the visitor).

There are a number of plugins available that will help users to easily set up an age verification system. Code Canyon (through Envato’s marketplace) also has a number of premium solutions to consider. These tools will help you create a gated entryway that will provide a general statement regarding your site’s content, an age verifier, and an acceptance of the rules of use and access.

Suggested Tools: The Age Verify plugin is by far the most popular and well-ranked. Code Canyon has a few premium plugins available as well: Adults Only Age Verification System, Age Verificator, and Premium Age Verification/Restriction. The Premium Age Verification/Restriction plugin appears to offer the most flexibility and customization out of the three.

If you want more control over the age verification gate, how it looks, how it works, whether or not your site can be seen underneath the overlay, etc., make sure to take those customization options into consideration before making any purchases. Also, make sure to check out previous customer reviews and notes on the plugins to verify that they’ll be compatible with your current plugins.

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Step 4: Create a Warning

As you can see, each of these steps serves to build up the amount of checkpoints you have on your website. They also can work separately from one another. So if full-page gates aren’t your thing, you may prefer to use more intuitive popup warnings and verification tools.

Unlike with verification systems, popups give you a few more options to work with and provide more flexibility:

  • Select specific pages or blog posts upon which you want to set the gates.
  • Create redirects if the visitors don’t pass your age requirements.
  • Customize the message, popup colors, and more.

Whether you’re just looking for an additional warning on pages containing more mature content or you prefer this option to the entry page gateways, popup functionality is another path worth considering.

Suggested Tools: The Content Warning plugin provides you with a simple warning popup. Popup Maker, on the other hand, has an age verification popup modal, which takes everything that verification systems have to offer and adds it to a popup format.

Step 5: Restrict Access to Content

Full website restriction isn’t always necessary.

Perhaps your website is acceptable for universal access, but you’ve covered a controversial topic on a recent blog post. Or perhaps your storefront has an Adults Only section. This would be the time when you’d want more control over who can see different parts of your website. Age verification tools aren’t necessarily going to give you that flexibility.

Suggested Tools: Unsurprisingly, these tools are all plugins. Each of these serves a very specific purpose, so the one you use will be determined based on the type of content that requires restricted access:

  • Ultimate Category Excluder: If your website is an otherwise safe place for all ages to visit, but the occasional blog post contains graphic or unsuitable material, then this plugin will help you hide that type of content from site feeds and searches (when categorized accordingly).
  • WP Hide Post: This plugin is similar to the Category Excluder plugin, although the main focus with this one is to choose which individual blog posts you want hidden from specific locations on the website.
  • Restrict Content: This plugin sets up restriction rules based on membership levels. So if your website already allows for sign ups or subscriptions, the Restrict Content plugin is a natural choice since it’ll be an extension of that functionality, all while giving you better control over who can see what.

Wrapping Up

As a website owner, developer, or someone else responsible for the management of a website, the last thing you want to worry about is putting your business at risk—or exposing underage individuals to inappropriate content—simply because you allowed the wrong people to view your content. All it should take are six easy steps (if that) to make sure your content is seen by the right visitors.

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via The WordPress Experts – WPMU.org Read More…

How are beacons going to affect search marketing?

How are beacons going to affect search marketing?

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about the effects beacons and proximity marketing may have on search strategy.

(I actually work for a company that makes beacons and management software, so it’s not just me being boring).

I’ve found little doubt that it will bring some very fundamental changes to the way we reach customers, and the type of targeting and data management we’ll need to master in order to do things properly.

Although perhaps not in the way you might think…

edgelands barbican

Improving proximity results

Search Engine Watch has spoken about beacons a lot in the past, but just in case you need a refresher, a beacon is a tiny device that can transmit a signal to any Bluetooth device in range – phones, fitness bracelets, headphones, smartwatches etc.

Usually this happens through an app (although Google in particular are taking steps to remove this friction and enable direct device communication), and before the privacy police wade in, it’s all completely opt-in.

It certainly has some obvious ramifications for local search.

beacon

In the past, we’ve largely been limited to areas defined by map coordinates for localisation. These are fine for locating buildings, but not so hot once people actually enter a space.

Beacons have a big advantage here because they get that location down to an area a couple of metres across, and they allow you to transmit and receive data in realtime. If I’m standing by the apples in your supermarket, you can fire me a coupon.

I’m using that example on purpose by the way, and I’ll explain why in a moment.

Beacons don’t need to be interruptive

For marketers, there seems to be an assumption that beacons are an interruptive marketing tool.

Retail couponing is the most obvious use-case after all, but just as early ecommerce sites learned, couponing is no way to build a successful business. And as the publishing industry is learning, interruptive marketing… just isn’t very good really. People don’t like it in most cases.

As I say though, this is only an assumption. The real value of beacons is actually almost the complete opposite of interruptive.

It is in contextual interactions, which usually rely on either an active request from a user, or passive scanning and data aggregation by the person deploying the beacons.

In other words, if I visit a museum, download it’s app and enable push notifications while I’m there, then I’m actively searching for information abut my location.

If not, then I can still be monitored as an anonymous device that is moving around the museum. Once this data is collected, there is a lot of potential value. Maybe it’s time to move that Rodin statue to a more prominent position (possibly next to the gift shop).

Search will need to become hyper-relevant in an open beacon marketplace

So what does this mean for search?

Currently, a lot of local search isn’t that great. There are plenty of fine examples, but there is certainly an adoption curve, particularly for small businesses.

Do a quick search for something like ‘Bike shop, Shrewsbury’ and you can usually see which businesses have a lot of low-hanging SEO fruit that they just aren’t optimising for.

This is a missed chance, but it is usually being missed because of a lack of familiarity and time. People who are busy running a hardware store don’t often have time or money to really concentrate on good SEO.

As beacon deployment becomes more widespread (and it is going to be), this situation is going to change for the user on the ground. App networks and beacons deployed as general infrastructure in more locations mean that local optimisation is opened up to more players, with more resources. Why should our local bike store be wasting time optimising when Raleigh can be doing it for them?

Local SEO will begin to be a wider concern not for the locations themselves, but for the companies that sell through those locations. And those companies have the resources and processes available to start doing a really good job.

There is however, still a place for the location itself in all this, and that is in adding contextual value, which may not come from purely commercial campaigns.

Recently I visited Edgelands at the Barbican in London, where one of our clients has deployed beacons that guide visitors around the interesting (and slightly confusing) internal space.

The interesting thing here is that it occurs through sound, so that visitors are able to view their surroundings, rather than keeping their eyes glued to their phone screens. It adds context while keeping the visitor engaged with the physical space, rather than having the two vie for attention.

With the rise of experience stores, this is going to become a more important point of differentiation over the next few years. Customers won’t want distracting alerts and pop-ups, they’ll want something that provides a richer experience.

From the marketing side, providing these will become a way to deepen brand affinity as much as increase immediate sales.

Search is about to leave its silos behind

This makes location a strange, mixed bag for search. On one side, brands providing advertising through app networks and beacon fleets owned by third parties (in my opinion, telcos are currently best placed to handle and benefit from large scale deployment, as they already have large data networks and physical locations).

In many cases, this will be about hyper-localised PPC campaigns. On the other, locations providing realtime SEO, with a shifting set of keywords based on whatever is currently happening in-store (or in-museum, or in-restaurant for instance).

It means that we’ll have to get better at aligning our data and working out which signals really matter, and we’re going to need to get insanely good at management and targeting.

I hate to use this word, but search will need to become more holistic, and even more aligned with marketing. There’s a huge opportunity here for search marketers, customer experience, data management and more.

via Search Engine Watch – Category: seo Read More…

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You For Access

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You For Access

There seems to be a set of Facebook hoaxes that come up repeatedly, every nine months or so. And yet, despite them never coming true, people still freak out and share them like crazy, posting all sorts of false disclaimers and statements and spreading rumors which can quite easily be de-bunked.

A new set of Facebook hoaxes have gone viral this week, suggesting that Facebook is about to make everything you’ve ever posted public, that they’re going to start charging you to access the platform, or some other insidious, movie-villain type plot that evokes images of Mark Zuckerberg twirling his mustache and cackling in the shadows.

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayOf course, these aren’t true, and there’s any number of ways to investigate such claims – urban legend clarification site Snopes is a good source. In fact, this very hoax (above) has been around for more than seven years, repeatedly re-surfacing and scaring users into sharing some canned message of garbled legalese.

As noted by Snopes:

First off, the “problem” this ineffective solution supposedly addresses is a non-existent one: Facebook isn’t claiming copyright to the personal information, photographs, and other material that their users are posting to the social network, nor have they announced any plans that would make all Facebook posts public (even previously deleted ones) regardless of a user’s privacy settings”  

It’s worth noting too that the legal sources referred to in this post – the Rome Statute and the UCC – refer to global laws determined by the International Criminal Court governing war crimes and genocide and the US Uniform Commercial Code, respectively. And neither is applicable to any aspect of Facebook usage.

But, nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands of people sharing this update across Facebook, and hundreds of thousands last year, and the year before that. Given this, it feels somewhat pointless to point out that it’s fake – as it’s going to come up again – but to re-assure anyone with any outstanding concerns, it’s not legit.

Even Facebook’s been forced to clarify, posting this update to several of their regional presences this week.

As noted, another popular hoax is that Facebook is about to start charging you for access.

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayAgain, no.

How can we know this for sure? Because Mark Zuckerberg himself has stated it, 100% clearly.

“You will never have to pay for Facebook. We’ve made a commitment [that] Facebook is free and always will be. This is part of our mission to make it so that we can build a global community, so that everyone can be a part of it, and to make sure we can open the opportunities of the world up to everyone in the world, we wanna’ make sure that everyone can afford to use our service, and we’re not going to charge, which is why we’re ad supported […] that’s how we keep this service free for everyone

Of course, some more cynical folk might not see Zuck as the most trustworthy source on this, given Facebook’s other changes to Page reach and privacy. But it’s also stated, directly, on Facebook’s Help Center.

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayAnd again, those who don’t trust the word of Zuckerberg may see no further reassurance in the advice of Facebook itself – but what other, more definitive source, can you get? The guy who made the platform, who’s in charge of it, he’s said it won’t happen. And really, it makes no sense why Facebook would charge for access.

Facebook, as noted by Zuckerberg, makes money from advertising. They’re able to do that because Facebook has built the greatest audience insights tool in our history, with access to intricate data on every user, every person, gleaned from your Likes, updates and details. In order to maximize this, Facebook needs more users to be more active on the platform – the more people are on Facebook, the more data they have.

In this sense, charging for access is totally counter-intuitive to their wider aims.

And don’t even get me started on that ‘your icon will turn blue’ note. What does that even mean?

Oh, and there was another one that circulated late last year – that Mark Zuckerberg was giving away his Facebook stock to randomly selected users.

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayNope.

This one probably makes the least sense of the three – but still, people shared it, people believed it. Some – I’d like to hope most – share such updates as a ‘just in case’ type thing. They know it’s probably fake, but just in case it’s not. Even then, it’s still pointless, but you can see why some people might want to throw their hat in the ring. I mean, it costs you nothing to share a post or cut and paste a status update, right?

But then again, that, precisely, is why these spammers and scammers create these hoaxes in the first place, because it’s so easy to get people to share something – it costs them nothing to share. And the pay-off could be huge. “Why not just share it?”

Here’s why.

While the actual motivations behind each scam vary, those that ask you to Like and share the post are often being used by scammers to boost their Page engagement.

As noted by CNN:

“Once the page creators have piled up hundreds of thousands of likes and shares, they’ll strip the page and promote something else, like products that they get a commission for selling. Or, they may turn around and sell the page through black-market websites to someone who does the same.”

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayThis is more commonly associated with images of cancer stricken children or sick animals, asking users to post a comment or share the post to raise awareness.

Another popular variation is free flights.

Facebook’s Not Looking to Use Your Photos, Make Your Content Public or Charge You to Use it | Social Media TodayIf you see these clearly Like-baiting posts, don’t – really, you’re just helping scammers. 

And they’re often easy to spot – in the above example, Qantas generally doesn’t list itself as “Qantas Airline”.

Facebook’s always working to tackle such schemes – while it is possible to change the name of your Facebook Page, for example, if your Page has more than 200 Likes, you may need to apply to Facebook for approval (though some claim to know ways around this).

In terms of posts that ask users to cut and paste and re-share, these are more likely just pranks – though they could also be used to identify future targets. If someone’s gullible enough to post such an update, they’re probably more susceptible to a request to transfer gold from “the King of Nigeria”, for example. As there’s no connection back to a Page, by Liking and sharing, the risk is lower – though there have been instances where scammers have worked out how to embed code into the copied text.

It’s less likely they’d be able to do this these days, but not worth the risk either way.  

In any event, if you’re ever not sure about whether something’s legit or if Facebook’s changing something significant or what Facebook can do with your info, you can check out Facebook’s ‘Terms and Policies’ here. And if you see something which you think might be a scam, it probably is – avoid it and if you need clarification, check out Snopes or Facecrooks which both work to debunk such schemes.

via Social Media Today Read More…

How Much Time Should You Spend on Social?

How Much Time Should You Spend on Social?

Just because social media never sleeps doesn’t mean that social media managers don’t have to. In fact, there are probably some overworked community managers out there now that could use some rest.

In order to free up the time to catch some shuteye, you’ll need to know how to effectively spend your time on social media marketing. That’s where this post can help.

We’ll detail all of the areas you should be spending time with social media, and additionally how much of your time should be spent focused on those areas. 

How Much Time Should You Spend On Social?

This is the first question that you need to ask yourself: How much time should I spend on social media marketing every week?

A study conducted by Social Media Examiner asked 3,720 marketers how much time they allocate to social media marketing, and the entire report is worth reading, but here’s an overview of how much time marketers spend on social media marketing each week.

How Much Time Should You Spend on Social? | Social Media Today

The truth is, there’s no exact formula for deciding how much time to spend on your own social efforts. Large corporations can have multiple social media managers working around the clock, while smaller shops may only dedicate a few hours to social every week.

It’s all a matter of testing to see what works for you.

But no matter how much time you do decide to spend on social, you need to determine how to allocate your time to make sure that you’re working as efficiently as possible.

The schedule we’ve drawn out in this post describes how one of Sprout Social’s social media managers handles their workload, so it won’t be a perfect fit for everyone, but it should give you a loose structure to base your own schedule on.

How Much Time Should You Spend on Social? | Social Media Today

35% of Time for Engaging with Customers

Social media is a powerful tool, but one of the most important uses of social networks for business is to engage with their current and prospective customers. The engagement portion of your schedule can be split into two different initiatives.

Responding to inbound messages

A study by Sprout Social found that 89% of messages sent to brands on social that require response go completely unanswered. Even the messages that are answered by brands take an average of 10 hours for a response.

Ignoring your customers on social channels is similar to letting your office phone ring off the hook – except that on social media, it is much more public.

How Much Time Should You Spend on Social? | Social Media Today

Imagine all of the potential customers who visit your page and see that you completely ignore your current customers. They aren’t going to want to do business with a company that doesn’t care about its clientele. That’s why you should allocate proper time to make sure you answer all of your messages.

Looking for new opportunities

After you’ve taken the time to catch up with your inbound messages, you can spend the rest of this allotted time trying to find new customers to engage with and conversations to join.

Try using a social media monitoring tool to continuously look for keywords that indicate that someone’s looking for a product or service you provide, and then join that conversation.

25% of Time for Researching and Planning Strategy

Some people assume that social media marketing is simple; but it really isn’t. Social media managers have to keep up the incredibly dynamic social networks while also planning for upcoming campaigns.

Researching

In order to effectively leverage all the networks and capabilities at your disposal, you’ll need to do a good amount of research. Do you know what Meerkat is? Have you heard of the newest Facebook algorithm update and its effect on organic reach? If you don’t, chances are you aren’t spending enough time researching the social networks.

Strategizing

Real-time social media marketing can be a powerful tool when done well, but most social media campaigns take time to strategize. You have to think through your goals, effective channels to employ, what type of content to create and much more. That’s why you should take time to build a unique strategy for each social media campaign.

20% of Time for Creating and Curating Content

There’s not much of a point in creating a large social presence if you’re not going to post anything for your followers. You should spend 20% of your time coming up with or sourcing content that keeps your audience engaged.

Creating content

This includes all of the original content you create for your brand: tweets, Facebook Posts, blog posts, unique images, etc. These should take more time to create, since recovering from a bad social media post is no easy task.

Sourcing content

It’s not a great idea to post nothing but your own content. Not only will people likely get tired of reading nothing but self-promotional content, but the social networks themselves will get sick of it. Some networks, like Facebook, will reduce the organic reach of posts they deem “overly promotional page posts.” In order to avoid those penalties, you should consider posting more content from different sources.

These are a few great tools available for social media marketers that want to help streamline the content sourcing process:

  • Buzzsumo is a tool with amazing functionality for finding new, popular articles to share on social media. For example, you can type in “social media news” and it’ll return the most socially shared social media news based on your selected time frame.
  • Flipboard is a free tool that aggregates news articles based on your personal interests. You can subscribe to some of the topics that are relevant to your industry and Flipboard will pull in articles that could make great content for your followers.

10% of Time for Team Collaboration

Social media shouldn’t live within a silo in your company – it’s a platform that many other departments can benefit from.

Whether it’s the sales team reaching new clients on Facebook, or customer service responding to inquiries on Twitter, social media is now a team effort.

Make sure to delegate some of your time to discuss the possible benefits social can have on their daily work flow, and then, moving forward, you can discuss campaigns that could prove helpful for both parties.

10% of Time for Analytics

It’s important to constantly analyze your past performance to see what works, and then use that knowledge to inform your social media strategy moving forward.

Pull and study all of your data, then consider some important questions:

  • Which networks are effective?
  • What kind of messaging resonates?
  • Which type of posts get shared the most?

Sprout Social has social media analytics features that can make this part of the process easier.

10% of Time for Relaxation

This breaks the 100% mark, but it’s something extremely important for marketers maxing out their time on social media. Social media can get to be very overwhelming, and “social media burnout” can be a very real thing.

via Social Media Today Read More…

How to Use Twitter’s New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success

Managing your Twitter success can be challenging.

It can be difficult to pinpoint what type of content your followers interact with, and what strategy you should take to capture the most impressions, Retweets, and likes.

To address this problem, Twitter recently launched a new app called ‘Engage’ that helps users evaluate their analytics, and make the appropriate adjustments.

And there are some other cool features within Engage which are also notable – namely the Trending and Your Audience sections.

Here’s a quick overview of what Engage has in store, and how to best use its features.

1. Top

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

The ‘Top’ section allows users to see whether an influencer has followed, tweeted, or interacted with them in some way. It cuts through the noise of the Notifications section in the regular Twitter app, making sure that you don’t miss a chance to engage with one of your more valuable connections.

I love this feature for both my personal and company brands – it saves time and ensures I don’t miss any opportunities.

2. Mentions

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

The Mentions section gives you the opportunity to see only those who have mentioned you in tweets. This differs from the regular Notifications section in the main Twitter app only slightly, by separating other actions and only displaying mentions.

If you’re not a regular Twitter user, this feature is useful, and will cut down on your scrolling at the least.

3. Verified

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

Now this feature is useful. The Verified section shows you all of your notifications that come from Verified accounts.

With the Twitter app alone, you’d have to go through each like, follow, and mention to see if an account was verified; this section removes the extra effort.

4. Live

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

The Live section of Engage is for the Twitter power user – it enables you to see if your most recent content is performing well, giving you the opportunity to be critical and adjust your strategy.

You can see impressions, likes, retweets, mentions, and video views, all within one spot. It also lets you compare the past seven days to the week prior – if you see your numbers dipping, you may want to adjust the type or frequency of your content.

5. Your Fans Are Tweeting About

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

Similar to trending in the main app, this section lets you see what topics are resonating amongst your own followers. If you notice a hashtag that’s relevant to your industry, be sure to tweet to capture the maximum impressions.

This can be a great way to get in front of both your audience, and those similar to it.

6. Your Audience

How to Use Twitter's New Engage App to Measure Your On-Platform Success | Social Media Today

Have you ever wanted to know where your followers live – or more importantly, which time zone they’re in? Now you can see where your audience is located, broken down by countries worldwide. Keep this in mind while tweeting – although you may be from a certain location, your followers can be from all around the world.

The new Engage app offers a heap of great features that are not available in the main Twitter app. If you want to see your Twitter engagement grow, consider downloading it today.

You can download Twitter Engage in the App Store (note: Twitter Engage is only available for iOS and in the United States at this time).

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How Will Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Update Affect Marketers?

How Will Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Update Affect Marketers?

How Will Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Update Affect Marketers? | Social Media Today

Facebook has decided – for better or worse – that posts from friends will be weighted more heavily in the News Feed than posts from third parties such as news publishers, brands, and others whose connections to the individual Facebook users are more tenuous.

The predictable reaction from publishers – whose survival increasingly depends on having their messages pass freely through Facebook – has been dismay, fear, and confusion.

As Farhad Manjoo wrote in the New York Times,

“Though it is couched in the anodyne language of a corporate news release, the document’s message should come as a shock to everyone in the media business. According to these values, Facebook has a single overriding purpose, and it isn’t news. Facebook is mainly for telling you what’s up with your friends and family.”

The social costs of Facebook’s decision may be extreme, warned Casey Newton, writing in The Verge (a publication that has suffered significant traffic loss as a result of Facebook’s prior news feed algorithm changes):

“My takeaway is that while Facebook is committed to users feeling informed, it’s not interested in whether they’re actually informed. The company asks people who get their news from Facebook whether they feel informed by stories, for example, but it does not quiz them to see what knowledge they have retained… the perfect News Feed ought to do more than give you a fuzzy sense of satisfaction that you are more “informed.” It should actually, measurably make you smarter about the world around you.

Of course, “making people smarter” isn’t Facebook’s job: its fiduciary responsibility is, after all, to its shareholders, and the fates of the publishers depending on referrer traffic isn’t a priority concern. If it were, it would haven’t reduced the reach of these publishers by 42% over the past 5 months.

But let’s get past the question – important as it may be – of the effect of this algorithm change on publishers and society at large.

Let’s discuss what it might mean for the fate of marketers using Facebook for commercial purposes.

What this means for marketers

Brands – like publishers – are on the losing side of this change.

Like publishers, they’ll either have to pay to have their messages get through, or manage to create new forms of content that friends of any given Facebook user are more likely to share. This might mean:

  1. Hyper-personalized content directed at the individual Facebook user – News organizations and brands have never created such content before, but with the application of the right kind of technology, they could.
  2. Interactive content that depends on sharing behavior for such content to be complete – An example would be an interactive poll or other item that one would be compelled to pass on, just like an old-fashioned chain letter.
  3. Content that includes a specific monetization incentive – For example, coupons or discounted offers “for those who click in the next five minutes.” Such content is expensive, however, if it’s employed at scale…
  4. “Like schemes” – Which, like “Link Schemes,” incentivize individual Facebook users to pass messages along in exchange for under-the-table compensation. Such schemes – necessary now because friends are the new message gatekeepers – likely violate Facebook’s TOS, and might even be illegal under existing FTC rules. But such impediments have never daunted marketers before.

Of course, nothing’s forever on Facebook, and its management could decide to back off on this decision if data (especially revenue and user interaction data) suggests that it’s having a negative impact on the kind of behavior that Facebook’s seeking to encourage.

But the larger question is whether the behavior that Facebook is trying to drive is good or bad for society at large, especially in its implicit assumption that Facebook users are better off viewing content that – while it might be “authentic” and even “intimate” because it comes from friends – discourages Facebook’s users from peering outside their algorithmically-mediated filter bubbles to seek out information that actually makes them more informed-citizens.

This question can’t be answered here, but it will surely be one under discussion as the full effects of this massive change begin to propagate outward, causing, among other things, a further reduction in reach for news publishers whose mission (hopefully) is to create more objective knowledge – not just subjective good feelings – in the world at large.

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Facebook Advertising: 5 Things You Must Know Before Spending a Dime [Podcast]

Facebook Advertising: 5 Things You Must Know Before Spending a Dime [Podcast]

Facebook Advertising: 5 Things You Must Know Before Spending a Dime [Podcast] | Social Media TodayFacebook advertising seems to be one of those things where every marketer’s talking about it, but very few actually know how to drive real business results.

There are far too many “experts” out there preaching their “get rich quick schemes” or touting that “Facebook marketing is free” – so many, in fact, that it unfortunately gives even some smart marketers a false sense of understanding of what’s truly required to achieve measurable success and results.

Our agency, Marketing Nutz works with brands big and small to help them drive positive ROI with every dollar spent on digital, social media and marketing overall. We train and speak all over the world helping marketing, business and brand leaders try to not only understand organic and paid media, but optimize it for the highest business results possible.

And one of the top questions I always hear is: “Does Facebook marketing actually work?”

Then, the next question I hear is: “Why doesn’t Facebook advertising work for me and my business? I’ve tried it numerous times and finally just gave up.”

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You get confused when you logon to Facebook ad manager
  • You run away from the Facebook Power Editor because it gives you bad dreams
  • You have wasted far too much money on Facebook advertising with little to zero return
  • You don’t know where to start when it comes to paid media, earned media and everything in between
  • You don’t know the difference between a Facebook boosted post or any other type of Facebook advertisement

If these thoughts feel a little too familiar, then you’re in the right place.

The truth is that Facebook advertising requires both art and science. You can’t just hop onto Facebook, insert your credit card and out pops loads of leads, sales and ROI. I know some marketers may want you to believe as much, but the truth is they likely just want your money.

This podcast is part of a new series titled “Welcome to the Pay to Play World – Are You Ready?”

Take a listen to the 208th episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast to learn 5 things you MUST know before you spend one dime on Facebook advertising.

Be sure to subscribe to this entire brand new series, “Welcome to the Pay to Play World, Are You Ready?” on iTunesStitcher or SoundCloud.

In this 20 minute podcast you will learn: 

  • 5 foundational and fundamental elements you must know before spending a dime on Facebook marketing
  • How to get started right from day one as you start using or learn to optimize your Facebook marketing efforts and investment
  • Why you must have the right mindset for success using Facebook advertising
  • Different types of Facebook advertising options
  • The importance of setting goals, objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success
  • Tips to determine your Facebook offer
  • The importance of an integrated digital and social platform for converting leads and achieving your goals
  • Why your problem in achieving your results using Facebook advertising may not be Facebook but other issues with your digital platform and conversion funnels
  • Why you must focus on your conversion funnels as a top priority before wasting time and money on Facebook advertising
  • The importance of knowing your audience to target your audience and increase ROI of Facebook advertising

Supporting Resources:

How to Subscribe to Social Zoom Factor Podcast 

This post originally appeared on Pam Moore's blog.

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Fashion Data Analysis or Sartorial Soothsaying?

Fashion Data Analysis or Sartorial Soothsaying?

Fashion Data Analysis or Sartorial Soothsaying? | Social Media TodayWhat can fashion analysis in social media tell us about ourselves? A lot, I’d wager.

Sartorial soothsaying (or is it sartorial psychographics?), I have a hunch designers would agree, is part social anthropology, craft and artistic execution, notwithstanding. So what better place than social media – the queen beehive of social interactivity – to identify, monitor and capture that mood as it translates into tailoring?

Fashion mood boards can now be mined in social media data.

Ostensibly, no matter what their aesthetic, key to a designer’s commercial success is an innate ability to tap into popular psyche. To playback and reflect that mood, as fickle as it may be, in our seasonal attire.  

If we are to believe this fashion ethos, next Spring 2017 men, according to some Italian designers, will be aspiring to an impeccably styled travel leitmotif, one more fluid, less fettered, even outdoorsy. A nascent idiosyncratic itinerant male whose lifestyle is neat and readily convertible. A yearning for tailored transformation?

Think designer velcro and rucksacks, but with a sartorial twist and retro nod. Throwback style will be highly embellished, individualistic without a hint of tailoring sacrifice.

As Localspeak continues to analyze designer trends in the current European Mens SS17 collections in social media, we turned to Milan’s recently concluded Spring 2017 shows. As a social media analytics platform, we used NetBase in the Crosstab chart below to identify trending themes among Italian designers.

Fashion Data Analysis or Sartorial Soothsaying? | Social Media Today

The analysis identified three predominant themes – utilitarian, tailoring and retro, in order of prevalence – shared by six venerable Italian design houses – Armani, Fendi, Gucci, Missoni, Prada, and Versace. Trending since last years Spring shows, a fourth theme, applique, is an enduring thread in mens fashion.

In contrast, a dominant thread at London Mens Collections, rebel/punk, while noted in Milan (6%), was secondary among the Italian designers analyzed.

Where London and Milan converged, however, was revealed in sartorial prowess, in particular, the robust trend toward a more relaxed fashion decorum, but one with a twist. In the shape of bespoke tailoring, elaborate applique, with more than a hint of nostalgia for the rebel seeking a cause.

If current fashion ideologies conjure a thirst for individuality, and play, a hearty wanderlust has also been unleashed as a fashion forecast next Spring.

Utilitarian, encompassing an aesthetic range of sartorial leitmotifs – functional, uniform-inspired, sporty, athletic – earned 36% of overall social conversation analyzed, followed by tailoring (24%), retro (15%), and applique (9%). 

To define utilitarian in its thematic analysis of Milan Mens SS17 trends, Localspeak plucked design leitmotifs from the collections, which suggested a decidedly eccentric global nomad, with a penchant for convertible athletic suiting, and imbued with a fickle fancy for quick boardroom to outdoorsy biker changes.

Nylon rucksacks and velcro suiting closures help lighten the load for easy travel – and athletic-inspired conversion.

Notably, Versace took top utilitarian ranking among the designers with 59% – trailed closely Prada (55%) and Armani (54%), versus Fendi’s 45% – evidence of both the label’s popular design acumen and collection staging, as well as receptivity it has stirred around its new Activewear Collection. 

Versace also generated the highest volume of potential impressions, a 99% net sentiment, as well as the leading owned vs. earned media efficiency, depicted in the designer comparison analysis chart below generated in NetBase.

Illusory and time-trippy as ever, Gucci continues to delight its minions. Evidence that artistic craftsmanship and embellishment are potent fashion selling cards du jour is the social media attention attributed to Gucci’s Milan SS17 show with respect to tailoring and applique, themes equally dominated by the label at 24%.

Gucci has experienced a remarkable turnaround under the creative direction of Alessandro Michele, who continues to inspire winning innovation among other designers.

However, according to our comparative designer analysis, the label still has influencer work to do in lifting brand exposure in social.  Masterful entrepreneur Armani, on the other hand, has forged strong social media influence and marketing traction.

As mens dress codes revamp and relax, more designers are tapping into upscale mens leisure wear. Jumping into the fray, as well, are athletic wear behemoths inviting designer collaborations, such as Nike x Balmain.

Aesthetic prowess notwithstanding, social monitoring and marketing by fashion labels will continue to be an imperative. As buyer temperament waxes and wanes, sartorial soothsaying is no longer a gut affair, but rather a data based concern.

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5 Tips for Using Video in Your Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

5 Tips for Using Video in Your Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

There’s no doubt that video marketing is on a steady incline. Video content is an excellent way to capture audience attention and deliver your marketing messages in a more engaging, active way, and as such, it comes as little surprise that more and more brands are leaning towards promotional videos to attract potential customers.

If you’re looking to build brand awareness, generate more leads and increase your brand visibility online, video marketing is certainly worth your consideration.

If you’re looking to get started with video marketing, here are five proven tips and best practices that can help you come up with a winning strategy to promote your videos on social media networks.

1. Length Matters – Keep Them Short

Editing is one of the most difficult tasks of creating an effective marketing video. Viewers have short attention spans and the risk of creating longer videos is that they may not be watched through till the end.

If you have an important takeaway or call to action towards the end of the clip, viewers could miss it, so it’s better to keep your videos short or make sure your key messaging is up front, in the first few frames.

This why editing is essential. If required, hiring an experienced editor can deliver great results for your business.

2. Upload Directly to Social Media Platforms

Instead of uploading your videos on YouTube and then sharing the links out to other social networks, consider uploading your video content direct to your social media profiles, pages and groups. Each social network has its own methods of optimizing your videos for better results and visibility. Just sharing the links to YouTube or your business website may not be the optimum way to maximize your success.

3. Embed Logo and Links

As already noted, videos are great for building brand awareness. Consider embedding your company’s logo and tag line at a strategic corner of the screen and don’t forget to link them to your business website. This is a proven tactic to improve brand visibility and drive clicks and conversions to your product pages.

4. Optimize for Search Engines

It’s a good idea to optimize your social videos for your target SEO keywords, even when posting them on social networks. Carefully choose keyword/s that encapsulate the theme of your business and create catchy titles that will entice readers to click.

Also, don’t ignore the descriptions and tags. It’s essential to include a detailed description telling users what your video is all about.

5. Add A Call to Action

Adding a call to action is a no brainer – after all, it’s the leads and conversions that matter the most.

Never miss out on an opportunity to ask your viewers to take action at the end of your video. Take the creative route and try to come up with innovative captions and questions that gets viewers to click on your CTA link.

For some additional inspiration, consider these notes and stats on video marketing that Bakehouse Aerial Filming have shared in this infographic (below).

5 Tips for Using Video in Your Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic] | Social Media Today

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