The Best Performing Brands on Twitter Last Week

The Best Performing Brands on Twitter Last Week

For the week of August 22 – August 28, 2016, U.S. brands captured 41 million total actions (likes and retweets) from tweets published on Twitter. Powered by Shareablee data, the top brand on Twitter for each respective industry is shown in the ranking below.

Bleacher Report (Media Publisher) was the top brand in the ranking with nearly 535,000 Twitter actions, followed by the Los Angeles Dodgers (Sports) with more than 177,000 Twitter actions. The Bleacher Report’s most engaged tweets featured Kobe Bryant’s historic career, while Los Angeles Dodgers top content was led by the tribute to A.J. Ellis.

Xbox (Consumer Electronic) claimed third place with more than 108,000 actions, followed by NASA (Government Agency) with more than 87,000 actions. Xbox’s sweepstakes to win special edition game consoles led the brand’s top tweets, while NASA’s top tweets were led by the video clip featuring the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter.

The Best Performing Brands on Twitter Last Week | Social Media Today

i Total actions include all post-level likes and retweets.

ii Total tweets include all tweets published by each brand across Twitter.

iii Actions per tweet is a calculation of the average number of post-level actions received every time content is published.

iv Total followers includes the number of Twitter followers for each brand as of August 28, 2016.

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A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic]

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic]

“Know your audience.” 

It’s advice that should be applied in every aspect of your professional life, to maintain awareness of who you’re addressing and to understand their expectations. Those three words are heeded with the utmost dedication by successful companies who understand their target customers, and Netflix is undoubtedly among them. As they’ve proved time and time again through their social media and branding, Netflix knows what their audience wants.

The premise of Netflix is simple – a platform for streaming movies and TV programming – however, the inner workings of the company are much more complex. Movies and TV series are clearly something enjoyed by all, no matter their sex, gender, age, or nationality, so it seems near impossible for Netflix to even be able to adhere to the advice of “know your audience” – their audience is potentially everyone the world. However, they successfully juggle all those elements and promote their brand in a powerful way, particularly through their social media channels.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

Infographic by BroadBandSearch.net

1. Social Media Transparency – CEOs, Start Tweeting

Back in 2012, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings started an interesting trend after an announcement on Facebook. Simply put, Hastings posted about a milestone on the social media platform – Netflix’s monthly viewing surpassed 1 billion hours for the first time.

Now that may seem like simple news that every company has the right to share, but there were additional considerations in this case.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

It was shared by a technology-focused blog an hour later and reached several news outlets within the next two hours. That seemingly simple post on Facebook caused Netflix’s stock to rise from $70.45 to $81.72 the following trading day. It spoke to the true power of social media when mixed with a bit of transparency from the company’s CEO. However, this increase due to the “accidental transparency” irked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) who was ready to press charges against Hastings.

The issue at play was that Hastings had leaked information that then influenced the stock price, without releasing any actual data to back it up. The SEC eventually decided against taking action in this instance, saving Netflix from potential punishment.

So was it an accidental moment of transparency, or a clever strategy to gain more customers? Whatever the answer is, a simple Facebook post had tremendous implications in the long run. From then on, Netflix announced that it would share its quarterly financial results and business outlook, and they’ve constantly kept people up with the number of Netflix content watched per second. It set the stage for numerous companies around the world, who were shown the benefits of such transparency.

And while it may not have been an innovation, as such, it was certainly a moment of clarity for the company’s strategy, one that made other CEOs sit up and take notice.

2. Pay Attention to Twitter and Make Sure Everyone Knows You Do

All those hashtags and @handles can be a well of information that brands can use to boost their customer care efforts and, in turn, increase brand loyalty. Netflix excels not only at replying to certain comments and queries with witty responses, but they also have a beautiful way of advertising their procedure. They pay attention to their customers, and they make sure their clients know that they’re being considered. It’s important to let your customers know that their input is not simply thrown under a rug and ignored.

Earlier this year, Netflix did all of this in a splendid way that, ultimately, provides a great strategy outline for everyone. They took a “problem”, and they ran with it.

The company’s social media management team followed the endless string of viewers who were falling asleep in front of the TV and losing their place in the respective movie or series’ they were watching. While they were getting some shut-eye, the episodes just kept on rolling. Now, this is not a doomsday-level problem, but Netflix saw an opportunity to respond in their typical clever manner.

To combat the issue, they created the Netflix Socks.

These “first-world problem” solvers detect when the wearer falls asleep, then automatically send a signal to pause the show. That way, no viewer ever wakes up two episodes later in the series, and they’re able to pick up where they left off.

Was it truly an issue that couldn’t be solved by something simpler? Of course not, but Netflix paid attention to the numerous “complaints” on Twitter and showed that they’re listening through the simple campaign.

This little project was propelled by customer tweets that could’ve been easily ignored. Instead, it went on to win the Shorty Award for Creative Use of Technology and became a global phenomenon. It reached audiences all over the world, over 1 billion media impressions and appeared in over 1,000 media placements, including major publications from the world of tech, lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, teen, business, advertising, local news, and global news.

In just three weeks, that success multiplied because they were mentioned 49 times per hour on Twitter. That rounded up at 1,175 tweets per day, which means it made Netflix a daily topic of conversation for thousands of people. It brought incredible brand awareness but, most importantly, it highlights Netflix as an innovator in the entertainment industry and showed the world that they pay attention.

Shares went up from $82.32 in February 2016 to a steady increase to $110.42 in April, and their subscriber growth went from 75 million in Q4 of 2015 to 81.5 million in Q1 of 2016.

3. “And When We Aren’t Posting, We’re Listening”

It’s important for a company to not only talk and keep people updated on their content, but to also actively participate in discussions and answer their customers.

Netflix, once again, excels above many others in this area. They always note that when they’re not posting, they’re listening, and the entire world can see how beautifully they interact with everyone – ranging from celebrities to their average customer.

And that’s no easy task – as of right now, Netflix has over 23 million likes on their Facebook page, 2.03 million Twitter followers on the U.S. account, around 1.7 million fans on their Instagram page – as well as a constant presence on Reddit.

Netflix has a great track record of interacting with their customers and showing excellent customer care in several situations, and they do so with charisma, wit, and humor. They have a team prepared to keep up with their casual tone of voice, and stray from the typical business-like responses that no one truly values. Here’s just one of the numerous interactions.

The Netflix customer care service employee keeps up with the conversation in a goofy and humorous manner as he tries to resolve the issue.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

And then later, both the customer and the alleged Captain Mike of the good ship Netflix continued with their banter while discussing the issue.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

It’s refreshing to see a customer service staff member willing shake things up while still doing his job. He was praised by the so-called Lt. Norman, who certainly did not expect the response.

This one simple casual interaction and moment of attention reached millions of people through subsequent social shares, which acted as a splendid advertising tool for Netflix. It created a positive image for the company that they continue to build on today. It’s safe to say that Captain Mike successfully sailed the ship into the deeper seas and landed his white whale.

4. Believe In What You’re Selling – They Are “Entertainment’s Biggest Fans”

Netflix regularly demonstrate that they are truly the biggest consumers of their own content. You’ll always have more success if you believe in your product and/or service, and when you do, you need to make sure the world knows it. Choose your language and manner of approach carefully, in a way that highlights your devotion without sounding like an infomercial. The world has moved past that particular style of advertising, and so should you.

Keep your customers coming back for more and offer them content you can relate to. Netflix manages their resources expertly – in celebration of the latest entry in the Star Trek saga, for example, Netflix streamed all existing episodes of the Star Trek television collection, and essentially tied themselves to a potential blockbuster movie. They understood the fan base of the franchise, they embraced it and essentially drew them to their platform. Even though they had no connection with the studios or the actual movie, they found a way to offer more to their customers – and that’s exactly what true fans want.

You have to be a user yourself and step into the shoes an enthusiast to come up with the best advertising techniques, and Netflix always add an emotional touch, by tugging at the heartstrings of their viewers with a dose of nostalgia. Netflix has a slew of employees that are fans of the shows themselves and actually have the opportunity to share their passion or “fandom” with others – it’s no wonder that many Millennials (their target audience) want to work there.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

(Chart source)

For a digital streaming service, Netflix doesn’t shy away from offering more. They created a pop-up Central Perk store in Manhattan to promote the streaming of the “Friends” series – and any Friends fan would know just how precious that could be. They even had a Crazy Pyes food truck in Los Angeles as a nod to their hit series, “Orange is the New Black”. Netflix understands the meaning of these details because they believe in the product and content they offer, and they’re willing to go to the extra, fan-pleasing lengths to promote it.

The streaming service knows their audience and social media is perfect vehicle for them to showcase this element. Using enticing visuals, Netflix captures key emotions and elements of their programs to boost their appeal.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

5. Find Your Voice

Companies like to play it safe, and it’s often a first instinct to respond in a serious manner with the typical answers, however, brands shouldn’t be afraid to mix it up and find their own voice. Netflix has found theirs, and it’s full of wit, humor, and casual language. 

Some of their most popular and shared posts are those that have a touch of personality in them. The technique can be tremendously successful if you incorporate your brand’s voice in every announcement – and your voice speaks direct to your target audience. 

For example, Netflix announced the renewal of “Orange is the New Black” in a typical manner that’s both in line with the show’s theme and language. They understood what kind of fan base they were addressing, adapted, and tossed in a pinch of Netflix humor.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

That bit of charisma and fresh approach resulted in over 3,000 retweets and 3,400 shares in a world where everyone could’ve just tweeted the news themselves. However, their viewers felt like the post was in the right tone, with the perfect amount of enthusiasm, while adding precious information from the direct source.

Netflix, in particular, embraces public perception and goes along with the joke while maintaining their brand identity, their voice, and promoting content.

A good example is their famous “Netflix and Chill”, which was supposed to be a simple tagline, but has turned into much more. Over time, millions of people have twisted the meaning of the phrase into innuendo which has little to do with actually watching Netflix. So what did Netflix do in response? They didn’t swim against the current or abhor the use of “Netflix and Chill” in any other way than they intended it. The company took to social media, used their brand voice, and went with it.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

These simple touches are the cherry on top of excellent service. It’s a beautiful coat that they wrap around their advertising methods, and it’s made out of social media posts. Find your brand voice, spread it through social networks and let the world hear it. More importantly, engage your audience and interact with them, don’t shy away from being entertaining while answering.

And, as any acting coach will tell you, never break character.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

6. Quality Over Quantity. Always.

You’ve heard it before, but it’s more than just the “motto” of thousands of companies, and it directly applies to your social media strategy.

It’s not about sending out 1,000 tweets, it’s about creating 1,000 tweets that will keep people talking. Around 83% of companies actively use social media to promote their content or service, but how many of them have millions of fans and get their posts shared? 

Netflix has perfected the art of keeping their social audience engaged with a dynamic and active posting process that doesn’t sacrifice quality. They have an excellent ability to target their audience and tell a story in a concise, clear, and entertaining manner while retaining their originality. It’s not enough to simply write down 50 words, add a colorful infographic, a link, and that’s it. The quality of the content is absolutely crucial because competition is high.

It’s only been three years since the streaming platform begun their intense social media campaign and it those efforts have been reflected in their overall subscriber growth.

A Netflix Story: The Human Approach to Social Media Marketing [Infographic] | Social Media Today

(Chart source)

Meanwhile, many companies who’ve taken part in “binge posting” haven’t gotten even close to similar results. You should aim to create experiences that are worthy of a conversation.

Social media is the modern day word-of-mouth. A various studies have shown that the most influential recommendations are those made by friends, and what is social media if not the perfect platform to easily share matters of interest with your friends? A picture, an event, a funny article, a good movie or book, all have a place within the average circle of friends and are often shared through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s informative, easy, and the information can be preserved much more quickly.

In spite of all their success, Netflix can do more. Don’t take their techniques and copy them, but instead, adapt them to your own. In fact, take successful companies, such as Netflix, and think about how they could improve, what they could do better.

What if they steered away from Millennials and targeted older generations by streaming shows such as The Golden Girls or Matlock? How could they gain the attention of that audience through social media? Could it be the direct approach or indirect targeting by the Millennials to convince the older generation to start Netflix-ing & Chill, in the intended sense of the word? Food for thought.

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What Will Blogging do for Your SEO? A Lot Actually

What Will Blogging do for Your SEO? A Lot Actually

It recently came to my attention that not all of our readers know that blogging for SEO will really make a difference and improve search results.

My first thought: “no worries, I’ll refer them to one of our articles covering it.”

Imagine my surprise when I realized that we don’t have an article that addresses this specifically.

What Will Blogging Do for Your SEO? A Lot Actually | Social Media Today

I won’t insult your collective intelligence with some lame excuse. It obviously just slipped through the cracks.

Still, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk right? I’ll do my best to make it right and cover it right here, right now.

The bottom line, that you simply must accept, is that having an active blog will make a big difference when it comes to earning more organic traffic.

Let’s dig in and find out why.

Blogging Is All About Keywords

Now, I know you’re probably quite familiar with keywords, but bear with me here.

While link-building and on-page SEO are monumentally important for earning higher ranks on your desired keywords, content still can’t be overlooked.

In fact, some sites will only ever achieve the results they want if they regularly blog on topics based around their core longtail keywords.

Think about it – this is an opportunity to create something relevant and engaging that hammers on a longtail that you know is pertinent to your business.

For example, let’s say you’re a local avocado farmer. You want to be found by stores looking for an avocado distribution channel. Maybe you find that they’re often searching for “San Diego avocado farmer”.

That, right there, might be one of the keywords your entire SEO campaign will focus around.

Expanding on this a bit, imagine some article titles we could work up around that keyword.

  • “7 techniques for San Diego avocado farmers to avoid drought disaster.”
  • “Work-life balance of a San Diego avocado farmer.”
  • “How much money can you make as an avocado farmer in San Diego?”

You get the idea.

You can use BuzzSumo to get inspired and see what other people are writing about when dealing with your target keywords.

What Will Blogging Do for Your SEO? A Lot Actually | Social Media Today

All of these pages, once indexed by Google, will potentially bring additional traffic and SEO juice to your site for terms based off the fundamental keywords of your SEO campaign.

Need I say more?

Content Nets Traffic, Traffic Means Relevance

Google likes a busy site. The more people flowing in and out of your site the better, especially if you have a low bounce-rate.

And you know what produces a low bounce-rate?

You guessed it, engaging and useful content.

You may be able to skim a website page in 5 seconds to determine what you want, but if you’re actually interested in an article, good luck getting off that page in a matter of seconds.

All of this engagement has secondary benefits as well. Think brand trust, word of mouth referrals, and loyalty.

Blogging Collects Links

If your blog is interesting, well-written, and you make sure you get it “out there” into the wild, you’ll start earning inbound links.

Remember those lovely little things? The ones that influence your search rankings more than possibly any other factor?

Yep, those links. Imagine if you made a piece of content that’s just so darn cool that even your competitors want their customers to see it.

This can literally happen. The more links you get, the more your site will be considered a top pick for the terms you’re after (assuming your keyword strategy is aligned between your blog and your website).

You can (and should) also internally link where it’s appropriate – search algorithms like seeing that your site is tight and interconnected.

Linking to other posts or pages on your site is a great way to both convince Google of that aforementioned fact, and to drive engaged viewers to relevant content and services your business offers.

Size Matters

Sorry folks. Just because your spouse and Matt Cutts say otherwise, it’s still not true.

If we’re being fair, Matt is actually right in a sense of course. If he says that larger page sizes don’t automatically improve rankings, than it’s more than likely he’s correct.

But as always, things aren’t necessarily so black and white in the real world.

What Will Blogging Do for Your SEO? A Lot Actually | Social Media Today

The more pages you have, the more useful your site will likely be to your audience (if constructed in a logical manner).

  • More information to share
  • More internal links
  • More content to consume
  • More links

All of this contributes to something that very much does matter in the SEO world… engagement and loyalty.

Each time you do your keyword research and you put up an article that targets a high-value long tail keyword, that’s another opportunity to rank for that key term you want so badly. It’s also another chance to earn some solid anchor-rich external links.

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5 Social Media Rules of Thumb

5 Social Media Rules of Thumb

5 Social Media Rules of Thumb | Social Media TodayI’m often asked to give quick social media advice or nuggets of wisdom to pass onto the small business community. And I’m happy to do it because I have a lot to say about the dynamic and confusing world of social media. I decided to pull these ‘rules of thumb’ into one post, as I find that we repeat these to our clients and prospects almost daily.

Here are five of my key tips.

1. Don’t jump on the bandwagon

Social media sites like to create new features, apps and tools in order to stay ahead of the competition. My short advice is to avoid the shiny new object syndrome.

Blab is an example – even my most respected colleague touted Blab as the next big thing, and now it’s gone. The current battle in the trending war is Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories. I don’t know who is going to win – and frankly, I don’t care. As a general rule, you shouldn’t invest a heap of resources into the newest trend until you’re certain it will be more than a passing fad.

2. Create a central space

Facebook is great, but you don’t own it – and if you’ve been active on the channel the past few years, you know they change the rules all the time. Own an online space – such a blog or your website – and make that the core of your efforts. You can promote your space on any channel you want, but make sure you have control of it. Otherwise, as channels evolve and dissolve, your central space goes right along with it. 

Feel free to load your content to LinkedIn’s long-form publishing tool or Facebook Instant Articles, but keep it on your space, too.

3. Engage with people who already know and love you

Social media enables us to reach people we’ve never been able to access before – but that doesn’t mean we should forget those who are already promoting our brand.

I highly recommend starting with your current clients and brand advocates as you grow into your social media space. They will be your biggest champions and referral sources, they’ll share your content and become your Alpha Audience.

Reach for more, as you’re ready, but don’t overlook those who are already in your corner.

4. Allocate resources

If you’ve been at all active on social media, you’ve no doubt realized that there are a lot of pieces to this wider social puzzle – and you may not be certain if your business is equipped to execute all of it efficiently.

It’s said that an organization that realizes an element’s importance, invests in it – but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. This could take the form of paid part-time staff dedicated to social media. It could also be an outsourced consultant or social media manager

The bottom line is that social media takes work – time, money and people. You need to allocate resources accordingly.

5. Humanize

Broken record time! H-u-m-a-n-i-z-e. Humanize. HUMANIZE.

No matter how you say it, the principal remains. 

If you’re not sure why this is critical, just check out this link to dozens of past blogs on the topic. I’ve always advocated the importance of being human, and encourage our clients to incorporate the human element into their online brand.

Why? Because people buy from people they know, like and trust, and trust is built on relationships, on human-to-human connection. 

You don’t have to share every detail about your life, but please share something about what makes you… well, you.

These are some of my most common tips when asked about building a social media presence. Call them what you want: rules of thumb, quick tips, nuggets, key takeaways. Whatever the terminology, be sure to label them as nothing more than critical.​

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Content Marketing and the Art of the Quotable

Content Marketing and the Art of the Quotable

Content Marketing and the Art of the Quotable | Social Media TodayThere are two basic schools of thought when it comes to what to do with your best content – put it on your own site and use it to attract customers and leads, or get it out there in the hope of building authority and increasing brand exposure.

As a content writer and SEO consultant, I see no reason why you can’t do both, but that’s a topic for another post.

Regardless of whether you’re hosting the content on your own site, or pushing it via an outreach campaign, you can create accompanying content, small pieces of text, typically around 120 characters in length, that are taken directly from your content or that use your content as inspiration.

Strap lines, tag lines, soundbites, breadcrumbs… call them what you will, but there is a multitude of beneficial ways that you can use them.

  • Enhance them with researched hashtags and use them as Tweets
  • Stick one or two of them in quotes alongside the content that you’ve written 
  • Add them to images and create graphics and memes
  • Use them as headlines when sharing on Facebook and other social media profiles
  • Incorporate them in your tier 2 link building
  • Use them as a subject line for your email updates
  • Create double the amount and split test social media and email marketing campaign

Creating your quotables while writing the content means that the idea is fresh in your mind. You can directly lift quotes, and you can rewrite some sections. Some content – such as lists of tips – are naturally easier to work with. You can quickly and easily turn a “Top Ten” piece into ten separate Tweets using each of the tips.

Replace pronouns like “them” with nouns like “quotables” to turn list items into Tweets that work independently. 

Turning Text Into Tweets

Twitter allows for 140 characters, however, research suggests that the ideal length for a tweet is 100 characters (or 120 characters if it includes a link). You can also use the graphics that you’ve created to help further enhance the effectiveness of your tweet. Tweets with images enjoy double the engagement levels of those without. Hashtags, when properly researched, are equally as effective.

100 characters not only allows enough room for the RT but also a small amount of space for a Retweet message. If you’re hoping to have influencers effectively share your tweets, then you want this personalized message added. It will encourage their own readers to look at the tweet and click any links. 

Of course, you don’t want to be littering every tweet with links, as it can put your followers off. A link every 4 or 5 tweets is generally considered best, but you can test the numbers with your own Twitter audience. 

140 characters may not seem a lot, but compared to the restrictions and best practices on other social platforms it’s actually quite generous.

You should aim for 60 characters with Google+ headlines, while just 40 is the optimum number for a Facebook post. If you regularly re-purpose content (and you should) then 60 is the absolute maximum page title length, with a few less than this proving to be the sweet spot.

Subject Lines

Another great use for your quotables is in email marketing.

The subject line of your email is the hook, it’s often what will determine whether your recipients open your email or not. As well as factors like avoiding the use of emoji and non-textual characters, and leaving out any content that might mean the email gets caught in the spam filter, you should deliver your message quickly and efficiently. It can be tricky to hit the numbers, but 30 to 35 characters has been shown to drive the greatest open rates.

Also bear in mind that the email subject line is not an opportunity to use keywords. There’s no benefit to it, and it will come across as being spammy.

Page Titles

Ideally, your website and blog have their own narrative voice and style. You should continue to use the voice and format that has proven effective with your readers in the past – and if you do regularly post content but don’t have a loose format to follow, conduct your own testing.

While website and blog content need to be natural, there’s nothing wrong with knowing what your readers like and then aiming the content you publish at your readers.

Content Marketing and the Art of the Quotable | Social Media Today

However, from a blogging and SEO standpoint, page titles shouldn’t exceed 60 characters, because this is the length where search engines cut the title off. Anything after the 61st character is unlikely to ever see the light of day.

Expose Your Content

Conducting effective content marketing means creating high quality content and then generating maximum exposure for it. Tweet, guest post, and blog about the content. Create podcasts and videos, slideshows, and even infographics, if the content justifies it. Look for ways in which to re-purpose your content too, and incorporate your new pieces of content into your content marketing strategy. 

Optimizing Your Strategy

Always test the content you publish on your own site and on other platforms. 

Ensure that you’re using the most appealing title lengths, that you publish the length of blog post that your audience want to read. It can be difficult to come up with fresh and unique content ideas every day, but a top quality piece of content can be rewritten, re-purposed, and re-marketed for days, or even weeks, after the event. 

Hootsuite, for example, will post 45 Tweets related to a single piece of content – and while this might seem a bit much, it works for them, and that should provide you with enough reason to try experimenting with all of the elements of a content marketing strategy.

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6 Metrics to Track in Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

6 Metrics to Track in Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

No marketing can be reliably successful without a strategy framework behind it. To succeed in marketing and grow your business, you need to specify your target audience, set goals and timelines, determine the channels you should use to best reach your audience, and follow inbound marketing best practices.

An especially crucial part of your inbound marketing strategy are the metrics you track to gauge success. Without measurable objectives – set before you begin your efforts – you’ll find estimating the ROI of your efforts difficult to impossible.

But exactly which metrics matter most when setting up your strategy? Here are the 6 on which you be focused.

1.Total Reach

First, any marketing campaign – inbound or outbound – will have little success if it doesn’t reach anyone within your intended audience. Exposure doesn’t only help your brand awareness efforts, but it’s also the first step in getting your audience to engage with your brand and eventually become customers. Reach on its own may not be an effective metric – after all, the number of people you reach matters little if none of them follow through. But it does act as a valuable baseline metric for your campaign.

2. Click-Through Rates and Website Visits

The first indication you get on whether someone who saw your content was actually interested in it is whether they clicked on the link. Inbound marketing channels like Facebook, Google, and email allow you to track click-through rates, which give you a good indication of the interest level garnered by your individual effort. Total web visits are less specific, but they do give you a good overview over the success of your campaign in terms of raising interest.

3. Bounce Rates

One key component of any successful marketing effort is consistency: if you promise the sky but deliver less, initially interested audience members become disenchanted and leave. That’s what makes your website’s bounce rate a valuable metric to track: if a certain channel or effort results in a higher bounce rate than its counterpart, chances are users are expecting something different than the page they land on upon clicking through. The ad likely needs adjusted to be more consistent (and honest).

4. Lead Conversion Rate

Lead generation is a core pillar of any inbound marketing effort, which is why your lead conversion rate – the percentage of your web visitors that turn into leads – should be a core metric for you to track success. The majority of your visitors will leave your site without turning into leads, but you should be able to convince at least a few of them about the value of your offer or content. If your conversion rate falls below the average for your industry, adjustments may be needed.

5. Content Engagement

If your audience loves your content, they’ll begin to interact with it by leaving comments or sharing it on social media. This type of interaction is especially valuable for two reasons: one, it increases your content’s exposure beyond your initial audience for no extra cost. In addition, a piece of content that has been shared numerous times will add social proof to your website, increasing your credibility as a result.

6. Lead-to-Customer Yield Rate

Of course, inbound marketing doesn’t end when a visitor turns into a lead. Lead nurturing – via email and additional content – is just as important to ensure a healthy customer increase.

In addition to the above, a great way to measure your nurturing efforts is to keep track of your yield rate, or the percentage of leads that turn into customers. Yield rates can help you determine whether you under (or over) nurture your prospects, and whether you are finding the moment your leads become sales-qualified.

Keeping track of these six metrics will help you gain an accurate understanding of the success of your inbound marketing efforts. Specifying objectives based on them in your strategy will enable you to keep track of them throughout your campaign, and making adjustments as necessary. 

This post originally appeared on The Fried Side blog

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Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm: 5 Ways to Recover Organic Reach by @LarryKim

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm: 5 Ways to Recover Organic Reach by @LarryKim

Ladies and gentlemen. We come together today to once again mourn the loss of Facebook organic reach, to share the grief all of us marketers feel. And perhaps, in that sharing, we can find the strength to look toward the future with some hope.

Yes, organic reach on Facebook is abysmal and getting worse, thanks to the latest announcement from the social network that’s visited by more than a billion users every day. Facebook will show more funny videos and baby pictures posted by family and friends instead of news and other marketing content from brands, businesses, and publishers.

How bad is organic engagement on Facebook? On average, it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of less than 1 percent.

Yikes.

Every once in a while, one of your posts might still get tons of organic engagement. But it’s fast becoming mission impossible.

Facebook: Unhackable.

Facebook’s algorithm is powered by machine learning. While I don’t know the secret formula Facebook uses, we know from a computer-science perspective that machine-learning algorithms learn by testing and figuring out how people react to those tests.

Bottom line: if people really love your content and engage with it, then they are more likely to see more of that type of content in the future. The reverse is also true – if you post garbage, and if people don’t engage with it, then those people are even less likely to see your stuff in the future.

More engagement (i.e., shares, comments, Likes) means more visibility in Facebook’s news feed. Facebook’s algorithm is more likely to give more visibility to posts that resonate well, to audition it in front of more people.

In fact, Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and even organic search work the same way.

So what’s the solution?

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to mitigate the loss from the latest Facebook newsfeed algorithm. You must increase your organic engagement rates.

Let’s meet your new weapons – the five crazy hacks that will help you do what’s said to be impossible: hack the Facebook newsfeed algorithm.

Note: Some of these hacks involve spending a little bit of money. Others are totally free. All of them are totally worth your time.

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #1: Preferred Audience Targeting

Listen up: Preferred audience targeting is a brand new Facebook feature that works just like ad targeting, but for your organic posts. That’s right; this new feature lets you target your organic updates as if they were ads, for free. Facebook lets you target your update so only the people who are most likely to be interested in your update will see it.

Here’s where the preferred audience targeting option can be found:

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

This feature is so powerful because not everyone who follows your Facebook page is going to care about every single update you publish. If you want to start increasing your organic reach, you need to stop broadcasting to all of your followers and focus on those people who are most likely to engage with specific updates.

Think about it. Why do people follow huge companies like IBM or GE? It could be for any number of reasons.

Facebook’s preferred audiences feature is pure genius for companies that have a variety of products and divisions, or that operate in multiple countries. You can narrow the targeting based on users’ interests and locations to reach the people you really want without bothering the rest of your followers.

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

This feature also has benefits for smaller companies and publishers. Take me for example. I post updates on a wide variety of topics, including online advertising, entrepreneurship, social media marketing, SEO, branding, and growth hacking.

Preferred audience targeting allows me to decide who sees my posts – or who won’t see my post, using audience restrictions:

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re a French clothing retailer with locations in France, Poland, and Germany. You could make it so that only French-speaking millennial females who live near your locations will see your post announcing your latest deals.

Remember: everybody who likes your page isn’t your target market. Plenty of random people will like your page over time, but then never engage with your updates, visit your website, or buy from you.

If you can only reach 1 percent of your audience, you should more narrowly target the people who are truly interested in what you have to offer. Giving people what they’re interested is what great marketing is all about – and, in the process, it will help you raise your Facebook engagement rate significantly.

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #2: The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme

The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme is the process you can use to separate your content unicorns from the donkeys.

What is a content unicorn? Well, content becomes a unicorn when it is clearly among the top 1 to 2 percent of all of your content. These are your most rare and beautiful pieces of content that attract the most shares, engagement, and views.

A content donkey, on the other hand, doesn’t stand out at all. At most, it’s average. Ninety-eight percent of your content will be donkeys that get average engagement – again, less than 1 percent is the average organic engagement on Facebook, which is insanely low, right?

To raise your organic engagement rates on Facebook, you need to post fewer, but better updates. You can test out your content organically on Twitter. Here’s how it works.

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

Post lots of stuff on Twitter – somewhere around 20 tweets per day. But imagine that every tweet has been infected with a virus, one that will ultimately kill them without the antidote within less than 24 hours.

The only cure for these infected tweets? They need to get a significant number of retweets, clicks, likes, and replies.

Examine your top tweets in Twitter Analytics. Those tweets with the most engagement – your top 5 or 10 percent – have survived!

Your content that got the most engagement on Twitter is also highly likely to generate similar engagement on Facebook.

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #3: Post-Engagement Ads

You can use Facebook’s Post Engagement Ads to give your posts a bit of a push. Yes, that means you’re spending a little money to “earn” some free reach in the news feed.

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

For example, let’s say I posted the above update only on my wall. The engagement is going to be pretty low. Maybe a few hundred people will see it.

So what happens if I spend just $20 to promote it? In this case, I paid for more than 4,400 impressions (clicks, follows, likes, etc.), but also got more than 1,000 organic engagements for free as a result.

How? Whenever someone shares your promoted post, it results in more people seeing it organically in their newsfeeds and engaging with it.

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #4: Add Engaged Followers

Did you know there’s a way you can selectively invite people who have recently engaged with one of your Facebook posts to like your page? This is a valuable but little-known feature available to some (but not all) pages.

You want people who engage with you to become part of your Facebook fan base. You know these people like you and are more likely to engage with your content because they’ve done so in the past.

Hacking the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm | Search Engine Journal

Here’s how you do it: Click on the names of the people who reacted to your post (liked, loved, etc.). You’ll see three types of buttons (Invite, Liked, Invited). Clicking on that Invite button will send an invitation to people who engaged with one of your Facebook posts to like your business page.

Does it work? Yep. Between 15 to 20 percent of the people I invite to like my page are doing so.

Oh, and did I mention it’s totally free? You can read more about the these people like you.

If you want to further increase your Facebook following, you could run a remarketing and list-based Facebook Fan / Page Promotion campaign, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I don’t think it’s a good investment unless you have a ridiculously low number of followers. You’re better off doing nothing.

Our goal is to increase engagement rates to increase earned organic engagement. Attracting the wrong types of fans could hurt, rather than help, your engagement rates.

Facebook Newsfeed Hack #5: Use Video Content

The decline of organic reach almost mirrors the rise of video on Facebook.

Users watch more than 8 billion videos every day on the social network. And these videos are generating lots of engagement.

Just look at this recent research from BuzzSumo, which examined the average total number of shares of Facebook videos.

Facebook is doing its best to try to kill YouTube as the top platform for video. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.

Stop sharing vanilla posts that get little to no engagement. Add some video into your marketing mix! That should help improve your organic engagement because engagement begets engagement.

Closing Thoughts on the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm

Facebook organic reach is pretty terrible. That’s why you should start treating your organic Facebook posts more like a paid channel, where you have to pickier and optimize to maximize engagement, in the hopes of getting more earned organic engagement.

We’ll never get back the Facebook organic reach we’ve lost over the past few years. However, these five hacks will help dramatically increase your organic engagement and mitigate your losses from the latest Facebook news feed change.

 

This post originally appeared on WordStream, and is re-published with permission.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by WordStream. Used with permission.
In-post Photos: All images by WordStream. Used with permission.
All screenshots by Larry Kim. Taken July 2016.

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10 Local Paid Media Marketing Ideas

10 Local Paid Media Marketing Ideas

10 Local Paid Media Marketing Ideas

In the past few years we have seen Google and Bing really pushing the shopping side of search and both the search engines and advertisers have seen massively positive results from the channel. Moving into the latter half of 2016, we are seeing Google turn its attention across to local and this was very evident in their Google Ads & Analytics Keynote that streamed live back in May 2016.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I would really recommend you take a look. It’s an hour long but it is packed full of all the features we can expect to see coming to AdWords and Analytics in the near future.

VIDEO

In this post I am going to share 10 paid media strategies that any business with a local presence can take advantage of. Whether you are looking to drive brand awareness, actual revenue or encourage loyalty among your existing customer base, there will be something here for you.

The Strategies

Local Search Ads

Advertisers now have the ability to show ads within the local listings and on the maps listing on desktop and also on the Google Maps app. Businesses who were previously dominating within the organic local results will start to see organic traffic reduce as an ad is now able to secure that all important top spot. At present we are only seeing one ad but my prediction here is that ads will start to creep in more and more. Have a read about these ads on Wordstream.

This is how an ad looks on desktop:

Local Search Ad Desktop

And this is how an ad looks on a mobile:

Local Search Ad Mobile

Waze Ads

Waze is an app that drivers use to navigate which is very similar to a sat nav but instead is an app on your phone. The difference with Waze for advertisers is that you can easily set up an account and get your local stores advertised to drivers whilst they are on route to their next destination.

This can be a particularly effective way of advertising brands that offer products that people need on the go. For example:

  • Pubs and Restaurants
  • Takeaways
  • Petrol Stations
  • Hotels & Bed/Breakfasts
  • Etc

Waze Ads

Include Distances within your ads

If you are looking to drive footfall into your local business, you can customise your ads to include distances from certain landmarks to highlight to searchers that you are located nearby. Make sure you choose a landmark or station that most people searching will know so that the ad is still relevant for everyone who sees it.

This technique can be especially powerful if you are using geo-targeting within your campaigns so you know you are only showing the ads to people who are searching nearby. This doesn’t work well for campaigns targeting nationally as much unless you have specific ad groups targeting local keywords such as ‘Restaurants in Bristol’.

Distance in Ads

Promoted Pins – Google

Google will soon be bringing Promoted Pins to Maps which will be very exciting for advertisers who are looking to encourage people to come and visit them in person. This feature is going to be very similar to what Waze Ads offer but will be within Google Maps. The guys over at Wordstream have written about this feature at length so if you want to know more, I would recommend you check out this post: http://ift.tt/1Xgtfyd

Promoted Pins

Local Inventory Ads

These ads work alongside Google Shopping Ads but instead of trying to solely encourage online purchases, Local Inventory Ads tell searchers whether the product they are searching for is in-stock at their nearby store.

Local Inventory Ads are great if you are selling high value items that customers may want to physically see before they actually make a purchase.

The example below is for a Samsung TV priced at £849. We can see from the listing that it is really localised showing:

  • The address
  • Phone number
  • Map
  • Stock levels
  • Other locations

Local Inventory AdsReview Terms

Many brands don’t actually take advantage of the fact that you can drive low cost traffic to your site if your brand name is included within the search query.

In the example below for Kwik-fit (a tyres, MOT testing and car service garage in the UK) we can see that for the term ‘Kwik-fit Reviews’ the top result is positive but the second and third results are very negative. The actual Kwik-fit site does not appear within the results above the fold at all.

Review Terms

Discount Codes

In the same way as Kwik-fit did not appear for review style terms, a search for ‘Kwik-fit Discount Code’ brings up three external sites that show discount codes that searchers can take advantage of. Again, the brand does not appear above the fold for this search either.

Discount Terms

These types of searches happen very frequently and Kwik-fit could really capitalise on this by showing a paid advert at the top and making use of all the ad extensions possible to push the other listings further down the search results and channel the traffic back into their own website.

Facebook Local Awareness Ads

This ad format is a great way for you to reach customers who are located near to your actual business location. You can tell potential customers all about your product or service offering and at the same time show them more local context such as their proximity to your location.

Ads can also include a call to action to help drive offline sales. You can choose from four messages:

  • Get directions
  • Call now
  • Learn more
  • Send message

Facebook Local Awareness Ads

Location Extensions

Linking your AdWords campaigns up to your Google My Business account and enabling location extensions means that customers who are searching for your product or service who are located close to your business will see your address details in the adverts.

Location extensions take up an additional line within the ad helping it to stand out in the crowded search space and can increase CTR pretty significantly.

Location Extensions

Countdown Ads

A lot of businesses have special events or sales that happen throughout the year and people who are searching online have a tendancy to shop around for deals.

If you are running a special offer on any products or services or maybe you have a wide scale sale on; you can make use of Countdown Ads within Google to create urgency within your ad copy. Countdown ads countdown (believe it or not) to the end of your sale or whatever date you have asked it to countdown to.

Countdown Ads

There are lots of other ways in which local businesses can promote their offering via paid media. I actually spoke about this recently at a MozTalk event in London. You can check out the slides for more ideas here.

AUTHORED BY:

Samantha Noble is the Client Strategy Director at Koozai and also heads up the State of Digital team as the Co-Chief Editor working alongside Bas and the rest of the Editorial Team. Samantha setup the Digital Females group back in 2011 and has since run over 15 events for the group.

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Three technologies you absolutely must have for better SEO

Three technologies you absolutely must have for better SEO

Your website has to stay on trend to survive.

Fast page loads. User-friendliness. Instant access to favorite news sources and blogs. Security… These are the needs of the internet browsing population.

It happens every day. You’re walking the dog and reading the news on your phone at the same time or scrolling Facebook in the grocery checkout line or simply checking out some nerd blogs while the kids play at the park, and there it is – a slow, clunky website.

What do you do? You utter a few adjectives and move on to a website that isn’t afflicted with the same ailments. It might be less informative or entertaining, but hey, you can actually view it.

This should never happen to your website. Ever.

Search engine optimization is an ever-changing, fluid landscape. In the old days, there were only desktops, and everything was geared to suit them.

Then mobile phones came along. There was sharing via email and instant messaging. Then social media happened. There was an emphasis on link quantity (i.e. the more links you had pointing to your website, the better your ranking).

Then, spammers took advantage of it and link quality became more important. There were 10-pack business listings. Then, they dropped to 7-packs and ultimately to 3-packs.

Competition for internet real estate has gotten stiffer and the hoops a bit higher. Google, the leader in search engines, keeps improving their search technology and rolling out algorithm (formula applied to search results) changes.

For website owners, it’s imperative to stay on top of Google’s algorithm changes. Right now, there are three main website technologies that you absolutely must have.

Mobile-responsiveness

Let’s start with cell phones and other mobile devices. In 2014, mobile users performed more internet searches than desktop users. Google knew it had to do something. Enter Mobilegeddon, the algorithm change that Google rolled out on April 22, 2015. It was considered the apocalypse of the internet.

Mobilegeddon promoted listings of mobile-friendly websites in the search results. Non-mobile-friendly sites were left out in the cold, which meant their rankings dropped.

So what does it mean to be friendly on mobile?

Google defines it this way. A website is mobile-friendly if:

  • It avoids Flash software and similar types of software that don’t play well with mobile devices.
  • It sizes the screen to fit the device (and nixes horizontal scrolling).
  • It has readable text that doesn’t need to be zoomed.
  • It’s thumb-friendly (i.e. links, buttons, and fill-in fields are easily clickable with thumbs and fingers).

Google applies these criteria to individual pages vs. websites, which is a benefit since optimized pages from your site can still rank even if the rest of your site doesn’t.

Being mobile-friendly is a minimum requirement and Google has a tool to determine if your website meets the requirements.

hipmunk mobile friendly test

However, if you really want to make your website attractive to visitors, you should go a step further and make your site mobile-responsive.

Mobile-friendliness means that a site may have been designed for the desktop, but has been optimized to work on mobile devices. Mobile-responsiveness means that a site automatically responds to the device.

For example: a mobile-friendly site would show a desktop site on a smaller scale while a mobile-responsive site would show it in a different format, often in one column. A mobile-friendly site may not be mobile-responsive, but a mobile-responsive site will definitely be mobile-friendly.

HTTPS

Imagine a world where hackers could never hack your website. That world might be possible now with HTTPS, a security protocol that used to be used mainly for financial sites, payment portals, email, and sensitive transactions.

https padlock

But the rest of the cyber world looked on and wanted secure encryption too. This is where regular sites began to adopt HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). The secure sockets layer (SSL) encrypts data on its way into your site and on its way out. Data is sent to and from a secure web server.

This protocol protects site visitors and owners from online eavesdropping, which is how hackers get credit card numbers and other sensitive information, or forging, which is what hackers do with the data they get.

Google AMP & Facebook Instant Articles

And now, imagine a world where web pages loaded instantly. Google and a bunch of other technology companies and publishers imagined it. They put their heads together and created the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) project, which is an open-source HTML project dedicated to fast and furious page loads.

amp pages

What does this mean for you?

It means that you can put AMP code on your web page or post and deliver instant page results. So when your site visitor is at the grocery store and they’re trying to look at your blog about the clean 15, it won’t take five minutes for your site to load. That list of chemical-free fruits and vegetables will be at the user’s fingertips, instantly. You’ve just made a happy customer.

Facebook has its own version of fast content delivery, called Instant Articles. When content is uploaded to this Facebook publishing tool, the content is housed on Facebook and loaded instantly for viewers. Like Google’s AMP technology, Facebook Instant Articles are geared to mobile users.

To reach the goal of speedy page loads, AMP provides a plethora of web tools that create a common ground between websites that use it.

The AMP project leaders chose to make the software open-source so all platforms, developers, and publishers could collaborate to make the mobile web a faster and more pleasant experience.

AMP code works with photos, videos, and GIFs, in addition to written content. And AMP-optimized web articles will soon begin to appear throughout the organic mobile SERPs.

AMP technology also offers the option of caching. Third party platforms can access AMP content and cache it for their users. Google even provides its own Google AMP Cache, a free collection of AMP content that’s been published to the web.

WordPress developers already produced a WordPress AMP plugin. And many of the most prominent publishers and platforms, such as The New York Times, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Mashable, are participating.

Of course, all of these features translate to faster page loads and longer engagement

Mobile web technology is the technology of the future. It’s imperative that website owners implement tools that are capable of delivering the kind of service that mobile users are looking for—fast, secure, and easy to navigate.

As Richard Gingras of Google states about the AMP project, “We wanna make the web great again.”

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