6 Ways to be Better at Social Media

Social Media Better RS

A lot of the blogs that I write are about very specific areas of digital marketing which is (extremely!) useful if that particular issue is on your radar. But sometimes the question that you have on your mind is a bit broader – how can I be better at something? With this in mind, this week’s blog is about how to be better at social media, no more specific than that!

Know the nuances: Increasingly, each social network has its own characteristics. People’s mind-set changes depending on the network that they are checking in on: you probably wouldn’t share that snap on your LinkedIn network. The differences however can be more subtle than that. Spend time looking at how other organisations similar to yours treat the network and what success they are having.

Quality not quantity: The number of social media posts made per day is staggering (500m posts per day on Twitter alone). This can be interpreted in one of two days: we need to increase our number of posts per day to increase our share of voice; we need to focus on more quality content to rise about the noise. Which one do you want to choose?

Automate where you can: If you think that marketing automation is cheating or anti-social media, you haven’t been following it recently. When well implemented, markweting automation will allow you to spend some time off the treadmill of social media management and on the helicopter view of social media strategy.

Listen more: It is called social for a reason. I think that 99% of social media accounts would be better if they just did this one thing better. Look down your social media feed, check out the use of keywords by people who you are not connected with and get a feel for what is happening. And of course, contribute where you can add some value.

Have an objective: This is a really basic one, but you would be surprised how many people don’t have one on social media. If you don’t have one, how can you get a view on whether your activity is a success or whether you are missing the mark by a mile?

Regularly measure and learn: Social media metrics are a great way of finding out what content engages your audience and what doesn’t. You should regularly track your key metrics (engagement, impressions, frequency, etc.) to see what trajectory your social media is heading in.

2017 Digital Marketing Trends

2017-linkedin

With Christmas almost upon us, it is time to take a look at 2017. What will this have in store for us? A terrifying prospect considering how 2016 panned out, but let’s stay calm and concentrate on digital marketing for now. Here are seven trends to look out for during the next twelve months:

Display Ads Evolve: Display advertising has had yet another bad year, let down by, if we are honest, some rubbish marketing. Intrusive and poorly targeted ads have seen the rise of ad blockers, so marketers are likely to move towards video marketing (great when done well, awful when done poorly) or native advertising. The bad news? Both are much trickier to execute.

Augmented Reality Will Be Back: Pokémon Go was like a great firework display in 2016 – it started, it soared, everyone went ‘ooooh’ and then it went out. There has been a lack of follow-up in the augmented reality space, but I think that there are companies out there developing games or gamified marketing right now – it will be back in 2017.

Content Marketing Gets Tougher: Content will still be king in 2017, and the fact that virtually every marketer is creating content for their audience means that standing out from the crowd will be increasingly difficult. Consumers see hundreds of adverts per day which means two things: firstly, they are probably bored of them and secondly, they can spot a bad advert from a mile away. Impactful, visual content with a narrative will win in a very busy field in 2017. Early adopters of the relatively new live video streaming will receive an advantage.

Mobile First (yes, again): Rather like ‘content is king’, mobile first is a bit of a cliché when it comes to digital marketing trends. But 2016 was a big year for mobile: as ever Google was leading the way. Google has started to not only drive the speed or mobile websites through its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, but is starting to really look at mobile SEO and allow it to lead the agenda over desktop. You really need a great mobile website in 2017 but not for Google – for your user.

Internet of Things: Wearable technology was always going to be the first step towards the Internet of Things and it has had mixed success. Devices with a clear purpose and benefit (e.g. Fitbit) have performed well, but the Apple Watch was a bit of a flop. The agenda is moving on with devices like the Amazon Echo becoming more mainstream. It is being advertised as a voice activated entertainment system, but its capability is much greater – will this along with Dash buttons start to change the direction of ecommerce next year?

Hey Google, what’s the future of SEO: Voice search started to grow in 2016 and this is likely to continue into 2017. With people literally asking questions from their search engine, does this mean that the days of true long tail search engine marketing are with us, and what does this mean for PPC advertising? Again, Google are leading the agenda here and they will have a plan to protect their PPC revenue stream – will be interesting to see what it is.

Social Media and the News: Events over the last month or two have brought into focus the role of news in people’s news feeds on social media. The pages that people like and the way that they engage in content should mean that news feeds are a self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. you should continue to see the content you want to see. But that isn’t necessarily the independently-verified news and who is to say that is what people want to see? Quite how Facebook and other social networks hope to solve this issue remains to be seen, but the political pressure to offer balanced news will grow – which may in time pose a risk to user engagement. Something the social networks cannot afford to jeopardise.

What is your digital marketing prediction for 2016? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Will LinkedIn’s Repositioning Work?

linkedin-linkedin

It used to be that when someone mentioned that they had an account on LinkedIn, people’s response was ‘so you’re looking for another job then?’

LinkedIn has moved on from just being a recruitment website, but this repositioning has not been without its challenges. It has developed into a website which is still heavily used by recruiters (as it should be, it is a great platform for identifying talent), but also used by prospectors.

If you are a regular LinkedIn user, you will be familiar with receiving a LinkedIn invitation from a contact who seems to have an industry / interest in common, only to receive a pitch email within minutes of connecting. In a lot of cases, this makes LinkedIn more beneficial for the prospector than the (potential) customer. If regular users start to disengage with LinkedIn, the network will disappear. Not only that, but the pressure is already on with the rate of revenue growth slowing at the end of 2015 / start of 2016. So what have LinkedIn done to rectify this?

They have realised that they have a large number of accounts on the network, many of which on a daily basis are sharing content from all around the internet. So LinkedIn is acting as a powerful referrer. Also, while they have been encouraging users to upload their own content (through the write an article feature that was introduced a couple of years ago), visibility of that content is fairly low.

So, LinkedIn has introduced a feature to allow people to search through the huge amount of content that is published from within LinkedIn. Previously, using the search function to search for, say, ‘content marketing’ would firstly show you people who work in content marketing. However, you can now search ‘Posts’, so your search will show all posts about content marketing. A nice addition to the network I think.

So, will it work? Regular users of LinkedIn will still share their content on LinkedIn, particularly if they can see the benefits of posting to their connections and having their article indexed by search engines (all LinkedIn articles are public). Access to this content will need to outweigh any of the perceived disadvantages of spending time on LinkedIn, e.g. being sold to by an irrelevant product.

I fear it may be too late. If you are looking for an article on content marketing, where are you likely to start? Twitter already has thousands of communities which share content on all sorts of subjects from all over the internet. And of course there is also the small matter of Google which is the go-to resource for search (in the UK anyway).

If LinkedIn’s articles can rank well in Google’s search results (from a straw poll, this seems like an opportunity to improve), it can pick up traffic from this source, but I don’t think LinkedIn will develop into a go-to website for content. Which means that while LinkedIn has added a nice feature, I think it will take more to reposition such a large social network.

Did My Social Media Advert Work?

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Followers WordPress

There are lots of reports which state that spend on social media advertising is increasing year and year and it is fast becoming to go-to advertising channel. It’s easy to see why: easy to set up, cost efficient and a good opportunity to get creative. However, has your advert actually worked? Tricky question eh?

The answer is not a binary ‘yes its worked’ or ‘no its not’, it’s more complex than that.  As I see it, there are three areas which you need to measure to see if your campaign has worked: advert performance, website performance and conversion.

Advert Performance:

  • Click Through Rate (CTR) is one of the most important metrics here. If your campaign has delivered a disappointing CTR, it may be for one of these reasons:
    • Audience definition: there seems to be some sort of issue between the audience and the advert – it is taking more people than you would like to generate clicks, so it may be that the audience is not relevant
    • Message: possibly the audience is right, but the message that you are communicating is not resonating with the audience
    • Positioning: different networks position their adverts in different places and some of these places deliver a strong click through rate than others

Website Performance:

  • There are three key metrics when looking at how your ad traffic is performing:
    • Bounce rate: This should normally be as low as possible, although it does depend on the content on the page – if you are just hoping for the user to see some information and take and off-line action (e.g. email, telephone), a high bounce rate is OK
    • Pages per visit: As with bounce rate, a good number depends on what you would like the visitor to do. However, if you have unengaging content, the visitor will soon exit and this number will be small
    • Time on site: Like the other two metrics, this is probably going to be slightly less favourable than it would be for a visitor from another source (traffic from adverts tend to be fairly speculative) – but you will have an idea of how long it would take someone to read all of your content and that should be your target

Conversion:

  • This is the biggest payback from the advert – the visitor completing the purchase, making the enquiry or achieving whatever your objective is
  • While this is the ultimate measurement of success, it is important to understand that this is the output of a lot of different variables from the advert and website
  • Linking these three sources of information is challenging, particularly on a budget, but if you are able to do so, this intelligence should make future campaigns even more successful

Do you measure success of your social media campaigns?  If so, what does success look like for your campaigns?

5 Social Media Myths Debunked

myths-and-facts wordpress

There is an awful lot written about social media.

In one article, it is the saviour of the planet, in another it is the start of the demise of mankind. Regardless of your point of view (probably somewhere in between these two I guess), there is a lot of nonsense written about social media. I am hoping not to add to that today!

I have chosen five widely believed social media ‘facts’ and in the best traditions of social media, I will tear them part!

My audience isn’t on social media: This is often heard but not often true. With more than one billion daily active users (yes, daily), chances are that your audience have a Facebook account – it is just a case of trying to find them and engage them. But this is somewhat oversimplifying matters. Perhaps a better question would be ‘will my audience be responsive on social media’? If you are selling fashion online, the answer is probably yes – if you are selling bespoke drilling machinery to companies, the answer is possibly not (but do see next myth).

Our product is too boring for social media: There is no such thing as a boring industry – every industry and company is interesting as long as you are talking to the right audience and using the right angle in your content. I am sure that before some great work on YouTube, trying to sell a blender or raise the profile of hydraulic presses was deemed pretty boring – Blendtec and Hydraulic Press Channel have over 2m YouTube subscribers between them today.

Social media is complicated: It’s not as complicated as you think. All social networks are based on the principles of informing or entertaining audiences with interesting content, whether that is text-based, and image, sound file or video. The way that the content is viewed and shared may differ, but the principles of good content and the right audience are simple (not easy!) and pretty much universal.

I’m too old for social media: This is often used as a justification for when a social media account for a company is being run by the owner’s 14 year old (I have seen this happen before!). Not to say that the 14 year old is not a marketing genius, it’s just that youth doesn’t guarantee knowledge of how to manage social media any more than any other demographic does. You’re not too old: 40 is the new 14.

Measurement of social media is too fluffy: It really isn’t. In fact, there are not too many marketing channels which you can measure as closely as social media. From one post you can track impressions (how many times it has been seen), how many people engaged in it, how many people clicked on it, what they did when they got to your website and whether that achieved your original objective. Often if there is an issue with measurement, the objective has not been clearly and SMART-ly defined. If your objective is clear, the important metrics will become very clear.

Do you have a favourite social media myth that you’d like to put an end to?  Leave a comment and share your experience.

What does the future hold for Twitter?

twitter_character_limit wordpres

The rumours of Twitter increasing its character limit have been discussed around the internet for some time.  Since the IPO in 2013, Twitter has been under increasing pressure from shareholders to drive its number of accounts and the amount of time that people spend on the site.

One of the changes that Twitter has introduced in the last week has been to the 140 character limit: media files, links and @ mentions will no longer count in your 140 character limit.

Why 140 characters in the first place?  The number is now synonymous with Twitter but the original idea came from SMS text messages.  They were limited to 160 characters, so Twitter set the limit to 140 to allow for people to mention a user name in their tweet.  This feature is now what makes Twitter, well, Twitter.

What difference will this make?  It is no secret that this move is designed to encourage two things: interaction and rich media.  Removing the @ mention form the character limit is designed to allow people to say more when they are having a tweet chat with another user.  And the use of rich media is critical to Twitter: most of their competition has been focused on rich media for some time and rich media based networks (Snapchat, Instagram) are still experiencing massive user growth, something Twitter isn’t achieving.

Is this the thin end of the wedge?  Twitter has admitted that they have considered character limit changes for some time – 10,000 characters was apparently on the agenda, but such a change would fundamentally change Twitter.  So, the character limit may change in the future, but it has to be very careful about removing the one feature which is unique to Twitter.

What was the point?  Images, sound and video are key to social media success – and we have known this for some time.  But rich media is not part of the fabric of Twitter in the same way that it is for some of the newer social networks such as Snapchat, Instagram, so Twitter needs to try and subtly force the point.  Twitter’s commitment to rich media shouldn’t be underestimated though: earlier in 2016, they signed a $10m deal with the NFL to stream games.

So, there should be some interesting times ahead for the world’s third largest social network.  What do you think the future holds for Twitter?

A Quick Guide to Marketing on Snapchat

For many marketers, Snapchat is still a relatively new concept.  Despite celebrating its 5th birthday this year, it has only been regarded as a place to do marketing for a fairly very short period of time.  This may be driven by the fact that this was not on Snapchat’s agenda until a year or two ago or it may be that marketers have had their head turned by new networks before which haven’t worked out (Ello, Google+ anyone?).

But it is clear that Snapchat will be here for a while.  In November 2015, Snapchat reported that its app users were sending 6 billion photos and videos per day with Snapchat Stories (see below) being viewed over 500 million times per day.

Snapchat works by the user taking a photo or video, having the opportunity to apply a filter (e.g. a drawing which can make ordinary photos entertaining) over the top and send it to a list of recipients.  These snaps can last between 1 and 10 seconds before they are deleted from Snapchat’s servers…..for good.

So what are the opportunities for marketers on Snapchat?

Demographic: The demographic of Snapchat is mostly between 13 and 23 and 80% of users are based in the US.  The sheer growth of the network (unofficially the number of photos and videos shared per day has grown by 1 billion in the last 4 months) means that this may change – but for now, the young and cool are still very much on Snapchat!

Stretch Your Creative: Snapchat is an informal network – the content is extremely dynamic and personal, so this should be reflected in any marketing efforts. Stock photos and slick corporate videos need to be avoided and showing the cheeky side of your brand is highly recommended. For some organisations, particularly larger and more mature ones, this will push the brand guidelines hard.

Snapchat Stories: This is a neat tool which allows the user to stitch together videos over a 24 hour period which effectively means that you can create longer content. A nice way to communicate a slightly more complex message but don’t get bogged down with detail – the more fun content is, the better it works.

Live Events: Rather than use Snapchat to share an event that someone may not be able to actually attend in person (there are other social networks for that), Snapchat has been used successfully to show behind the scenes footage. This is a good chance to show off the culture of your organisation – you do want to show it off, right?!

Cross-Promotions: If you are interested in branching out and trying marketing on Snapchat, it is likely that you have invested some time and money into other social networks.  If so, why not encourage your audience to join you on your Snapchat account, or ask influencers who you have engaged on other networks to help drive visitors to Snapchat?

Advertising: This is still in its infancy, but there are some examples of how adverts have driven consumer behaviour. The case study that I saw was about a movie, so it was a really good fit with the demographic.  Watch this space for more updates.

For the right product there is no question that Snapchat is a great opportunity.  The demographic is specific, in phenomenal growth and the way that content is displayed is unique: the challenge is whether your creativity can grab someone’s attention with in that first second to make your Snapchat activity a success.

How to Optimise for YouTube

How to Optimise for YouTube

How to Optimise for YouTube

Well done, you have created a great video – it is creative, smart, speaking in the same language as your target audience and is of course very entertaining.

But how are you going to distribute this work of art? You will have a plan to share the video on social media and even got some paid campaigns ready to go. And of course, you will hold the video on YouTube – after all, we want some of those 4 billion video views per day, right?

However, unless you have optimised your YouTube channel and video, people are going to struggle to find your video in the first place.  So what steps can you take to optimise for YouTube?

Channel Optimisation

  • Description – Don’t be afraid to write a pretty long description here. You should include your 5 keywords which you would like to optimise for, and if you get to the 250-300 word mark, don’t worry – you can break the copy up with paragraphs and bullet points
  • Add links to your other online assets – You can add links to your website and other social networks, so make sure that you do (and check how much traffic YouTube refers, of course!)
  • Impactful images – YouTube gives you the chance to add a large and impactful cover photo as well as a profile photo. The profile image should be kept simple (just a logo to simple head and shoulders photo), so let your creativity flow with the larger image

Video Optimisation

  • Description (again!) – As with the channel optimisation, your video description should not be too short. It needs to include a strong opening couple of lines as the viewer will have to click to see the rest of the description. It should also include a call to action, i.e. what do you want the viewer to do next
  • Tagging – You have the chance to add some tags to your video, so you should add 5 or so tags which are not only relevant to the video but also to your wider optimisation strategy (e.g. keywords for your channel)
  • Thumbnail – If your video makes it to the viewer’s search results, it is likely that the thumbnail will be the factor which entices the user to click on your video. Make it eye-catching and relevant….but not misleading, there is nothing more irritating!
  • Title – The title is really important for your video. YouTube uses it from an optimisation perspective (so make sure that it contains the keywords you are focusing on) and the user will look at it to see if the video matches what they are looking for

There are other more advanced optimisation tips, but just implementing the above will put you ahead of 99% of videos on YouTube. If you have any optimisation tips for YouTube, please leave a comment and share your knowledge!

Image via marketingweek.com

Facebook’s Dislike Button – A Good Idea?

facebook dislike button

facebook dislike button

Earlier this week, Facebook confirmed that it is going to start testing something that it has been asked about for many years – a ‘dislike’ button.

When Facebook introduced the ‘like’ button in early 2009, it didn’t take too long for people to ask where the ‘dislike’ button was – but not necessarily in a negative way. For example, it is likely that you will have seen the Syrian refugee crisis developing in your Facebook feed, but clicking ‘like’ on a story such as this seems inappropriate.

But it didn’t take long for the media to see another side of the ‘dislike’ button – trolling. And this is a very real threat to Facebook. The other major social networks which have dislike functions are YouTube’s thumbs down and Reddit’s down-vote. Now, I am a big fan of both of these networks, but things can get into a spiral of negativity pretty quickly and big fights can break out. However, it should also be noted that both Reddit and YouTube have a strong degree of anonymity built into them – the lack of anonymity on Facebook could just make the dislike button work.

In most cases, Facebook polices itself. People are using their real identities and are connected to people who they know in real life, so if they do start trolling, then their friends and family will see it. This is often enough to stop people going too crazy. Not wanting to share your online behaviour with your connections was one of the reasons why Facebook changed its engagement metrics to include how long someone looks at a post.

The likely recipients of dislikes are predictable – banks, accounts which still engage in click-baiting (one of Facebook’s pet hates), advertisements, public enemies (political parties, newspapers, etc.).  But many of these groups are important clients for Facebook, so why would Facebook take a risk and introduce a dislike button?

When someone engages with some content on Facebook, this gives Facebook intelligence – when the person was on Facebook, what type of content grabbed their attention, what that person has an interest in, etc. This is all information which makes advertising on Facebook very attractive to digital marketers. And the dislike button is another means of Facebook attracting engagement: who said all engagement needs to be positive?

If there is a piece of content that you disagree with today on Facebook, and you can’t be bothered to put your head above the parapet and comment, you will likely ignore it. This is not what Facebook wants you to do as it will not provide information for advertisers. The dislike button should also deliver a better news feed in the long term as Facebook will get an even better idea of what you like and what you don’t.

My personal opinion is that the introduction of a negative engagement tool can only make Facebook a less positive place to be. The threat of increased trolling is very real: most trolls will use a fake account so the theory of Facebook policing itself doesn’t work. But the dislike button is a means for Facebook to drive more a thorough understanding of its users, which will make it a more powerful advertising tool – theoretically improving the experience of all parties.

And most importantly of all, it will also give you a chance to say what you really think about all of your friend’s cat photos.

What effect do you think the dislike button will have on Facebook? Leave a comment share your thoughts.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Tweet

The Anatomy of the Perfect Tweet

The Anatomy of the Perfect Tweet

With hundreds of millions of tweets being sent per day, achieving stand-out for your tweet is a problem for any social media marketer. This is quite apart from the fact that you only have 140 characters to use to get your message across to an audience with increasingly shorter attention spans.

The structure of your tweet can help with these problems: structuring your tweet correctly will help with stand-out (it is far more likely to be engaged with) as well as making sure that you are making the most of the 140 characters at your disposal.

Here are the 10 elements that a perfect tweet should have…

A good profile: Most obviously, your profile pic should represent what you are all about – a head and shoulders photo for an individual and a simple brand square for a business. Also, your Twitter account name should have some resemblance to content that you are sharing: e.g. a marketing tweet from @1directionno1fan would make for an incongruent combination!

Your thoughts: You may not be able to wax lyrical too strongly, but you should add your opinion to anything that you share – even if it’s just a ‘enjoyed this’, it helps people get a view of what you thought about the tweet

Hashtags: Hashtags are a great tool for getting your message out to a new audience (see my previous post on hashtags), but you should only include one in your tweet. And make sure that your hashtag is one in common use. #becauselonghashtagsaredifficulttoread #hashtagrules #hashtagsrule #runningoutofcharacters #yolo #lol

Limited characters: One of the objectives of your tweets should be for the audience to engage with them. So if someone shares your tweet, you should allow them some space to add their thoughts. Yes, they can quote the tweet, but leaving twenty or so characters will give them the option of copying and pasting your tweet.

A call to action: Yes, I know….in every blog written by a marketer since the dawn of time, call to action is mentioned!  But with good reason – it gives people a reason to take the action that you would like them to take – a simple ‘click here’ or ‘check it out’ is all you need

A picture or video: Not only do they take up more space in someone’s news feed, they are a great excuse to free your creative side! People on Twitter are looking for something to stand-out, so help them see your tweet by using some rich media

A plan: Not only should the perfect tweet be the only one that you post that day (I recommend 5 tweets per day to have a good presence), but it should also be part of a wider content plan. Otherwise, you are just tweeting with no purpose, a waste of everyone’s time

No typos: It happens a lot on Twitter, and I have done it a few times too, but typos and grammar mistakes can distract people from the message of your / you’re / ur tweet *runs spell check for 5th time*

Credit where it is due: if you have shared content from someone, then you should say thanks by mentioning them. Not only is it nice to be nice, it shows that you are part of the community and not operating as a silo on Twitter

A link: Well, not every tweet has to have a link of course. But many do, and if yours does, then make sure that it is a shortened URL and preferably a customised one – for example, instead of:

example.com/blog/longtitleforaprettyshortblog/utm_content=5654684&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter

You should use:

bit.ly/punchytext

What else do you think the perfect tweet should contain? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!