Posts tagged social media

A social consumer holding a brand new Apple iPhone 5S with an Instagram profile on the screen.

Where Are Your Social Consumers Coming From?

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A person holding a brand new Apple iPhone 5S with an Instagram profile on the screen. Many social consumers like this one use social media to find websites.

Social consumers are harder to track as social media leads them to different websites.

Tracking is a huge part of online marketing. When you visit a site, the company knows all sorts of details about your browsing history, and all of that gets used to market specifically to you. In fact, that lamp you were looking at on Amazon is going to become the bane of your existence for the next few days. It will seem like every page you visit is trying to sell that very same lamp to you. However, tracking is not that easy when it comes to social consumers.

Enter Social Media Marketing

Content on social media gets shared via mobile devices, apps, and the like. Before long, your website traffic starts to increase, but it looks like it is all direct traffic. That can’t be right. How many people who have never been to your site before know the URL to just type it in to arrive at your site? Welcome to “dark social.” These are the social consumers that are arriving at your site, and you simply don’t know where they are coming from. It may surprise you to learn that as much as 70 percent of the website traffic you get from social media falls into this category.

What Can You Do About Social Consumers?

Google is trying to help by adding filters that can allow you to get a better look at where traffic is coming from. Other tools are available that specifically keep track of hidden social shares and things of that nature. Unfortunately, no one tool exists that will allow you to measure everything, only those tools that give glimpses into what you were completely missing out on before.

While some marketers are looking for creative ways to track mobile and social use—think custom keyboards offered by certain brands—there is still a long way to go before all of that traffic is as transparent as it once was. Until then, this hidden traffic is a hot topic in the marketing world.

Does your company have a solution for shedding light on this dark traffic? If so, it may be the next big thing that digital marketers are looking for, and it’s a race against the clock to be the first one to get there.

Where the Worlds of Content Creation & Advertising Collide

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Hand pointing to the word "content" within the Website Creation concept on the chalkboard. Content creation is a big part of digital advertising.

As digital media grows, so does the need for content creation.

Advertising is all about telling stories, even though we rely more and more on analytics for marketing purposes. So here’s the question: can you be both advertiser and storyteller? Is it possible to take on the role of content creation as an advertiser in the modern business world?

The demand for content is higher than ever before. We need content for web pages, blogs, social media, native advertising, and a host of other campaigns. On the consumer side, the public is becoming less forgiving of subpar content. This means that demand is high not just for any content, but especially for content of the highest quality.

Hence the rise of the digital marketing agency. Someone needs to help marketing directors, even ones who work for major companies, keep up with the workload of all of this content creation. Plus, such agencies can also manage many of the marketing campaigns from start to finish.

So the answer to the above questions about creating content and being an advertiser is yes and no. You can often both create and market, but not for every single campaign. Thus much of the content creation, and even some of the campaign management, ends up getting outsourced.

Quality Content Creation Shortages Are the Issue

The problem is that good content is hard to find. Some companies feel they simply can’t keep up in-house. Small- to medium-sized businesses might not have anyone who can run a successful marketing campaign. So third parties now help large companies keep on schedule, and also get smaller business in the game.

Native Advertising — FTC Creates a Fly in the Ointment

When it comes to native advertising—ads designed to fit seamlessly into surrounding content—the need to keep a close eye on content creation and marketing tactics is even more important. The FTC is cracking down on ads that look more and more like other content that is not sponsored, such as that found commonly in social media. The more the ad seems to simply look like more content, the more the FTC wants it to be clearly identified. Thus, it becomes important for content creators and advertisers to collaborate to create content that meets the brand’s needs without conflicting with governing agencies.

Social Media Places Customer Service Out in the Open

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Social media is changing the landscape when it comes to providing customer service. Back in the day, a disgruntled customer would call, a rep would pick up the phone, and even if the issue couldn’t be resolved, it wasn’t a huge deal. You lose one customer, and maybe they tell a few friends and family. Now, one resentful customer can change the entire public’s perception of your brand—thanks to social media.

A consumer who once could only influence the opinion of a few close friends can now have his say in front of 10,000 “friends” on Facebook, Twitter, or some other social site—and for some reason, people believe this complete stranger. People trust online product reviews just as much as the advice of a parent or best friend when it comes to making a purchase.

Social Media: Judged by Your Response

Another big factor in social media is that a consumer can complain directly on your brand’s social media account page. Now, all of your other customers will be judging you based on how you handle the complaint.

  • Will you commit the unforgivable sin of erasing the negative comment and force internet conspiracy nuts to upload all of the screenshots that were inevitably taken as proof?
  • Will you respond in kind and alienate consumers who don’t realize that this one dissatisfied customer is unreasonable?
  • Will you give in and cave to the demands of every unhappy consumer who accosts you on the internet?

There seem to be so many bad options and so few good ones. We suggest taking the high road. Encourage the consumer to direct message you his or her account number/invoice number/etc. and let them know you will “look into it immediately.” This tells your online followers 3 things:

  1. We won’t air our dirty laundry in public.
  2. We will handle customer service issues immediately.
  3. We won’t be rattled and automatically give out free stuff to people who complain in public, so why not just call the customer service line instead of trying to cause trouble.

It’s a simple way to appease consumers and avoid saying something in public that will get passed around faster than the flu. Having the right person at the helm of your social accounts is key in these situations.

60-Second Instagram Videos – An Opportunity

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Let’s face it—while we were happy to start making Instagram videos, 15 seconds was only a small step up from 6-second Vines. But now the game is about to change for real. Instagram announced that they will begin allowing videos that are up to 60 seconds long.

What does this mean for the future of marketing on Instagram?

Instagram Videos are More Important Than Ever

People want to see videos. It’s why YouTube is second only to Google for number of searches—and Facebook and Instagram are also trying to get on board. Instagram offers just one more way to reach consumers with video, and not only condensed ones anymore.

Creating Video Specific to Social Media

The one possible downside to this as far as marketing is concerned is that brands are going to think they can simply upload their TV ads to Instagram. You want to be sure that you are creating an experience that goes along with social media. A TV ad on Instagram is going to feel out of place to the average user.

Brands Must Meet Consumer Expectations

You’ve been given an opportunity to engage with consumers on a deeper level. If you squander that opportunity, consumers will find the engagement they crave somewhere else. This is a chance for smaller businesses to quickly gain ground on larger and established competitors. Don’t waste that chance.

High-Quality Video Production

People are using social media on all sorts of devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure your videos are up to par. Plus, you want the production quality to show that you are a real business. Stop filming business videos with a smartphone or tablet simply because it is easy to upload. It is time to hire a video production company, if you don’t already have one. If you do, 1 or 2 videos isn’t enough anymore because Instagram users will demand steady content.

Influencers Will Benefit Most

Influencers who already have a stronghold in social media will certainly grow stronger with this new way to express themselves to the public. If your brand is not an influencer, you need to get close to those who are influencers in your industry now.

The Ever-Changing World of Online Privacy and the Emerging Double-Standard

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The acronym PII (personally identifiable information) is becoming important in the marketing industry. Why? Well, the outcry seems universal that people don’t want brands, marketers, or retailers touching their PII. But does that complaint even make sense? Consider the following:

  • Google saves search data on everyone who uses their service, and no one seems to care. In fact, when Google uses that data to provide ads at the top and side of every search we perform, we don’t bat an eye. Google is basically leveraging our data to control how much retailers will pay for those ads.
  • Facebook (and soon Instagram) uses our PII to determine how things appear in our feeds. The fact is that the average person has so many friends online that they miss a great deal of what gets posted. Facebook makes up for this by using your PII to determine what is most important to you. Then you see that content first on your feed rather than getting everything in chronological order. But no one complains that Facebook leverages data to alter our feeds, and even throws in the occasional sponsored ad.

Double-Standards and Online Privacy

So why is there an industry double standard where your average retailer is a “stalker” if they use your PII, but Google and Facebook act like “Big Brother” without consequences or even anyone crying foul?

The FTC is in charge of regulating things like online privacy. The European Union has yet to establish anything for this. Today the trend in digital is for people to forget about online privacy for the sake of convenience. No one ever seems to bring up privacy until a security breach causes a company to lose the personal information of a number of clients. Then it’s on the 5 o’clock news, and the bad guy is always the brand—but never the hacker.

How do you feel about online privacy and the double standard that exists between a company like Google and your average brand? Feel free to weigh in on this hot topic in the comments section below.

Social Media: How Businesses Build “Street Cred”

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Let’s face it: Social media is not a great way to make direct sales for most businesses. However, there is something that a brand can gain on social media that they would struggle to find anywhere else. It is basically the Internet’s version of “street cred.” When you engage consumers on social media, it can dramatically affect brand perception and awareness.

A Counterintuitive Form of Marketing

Let’s take the wedding industry as an example. Say you are a wedding planner. What do you post on your social media accounts? You may actually provide tips on how to save money when planning a wedding. Isn’t that counterproductive? Why encourage your potential customers to try and save money?

Your prospective customers may determine that you are the right planner for them, based solely on the fact that you know these tips and tricks—and aren’t afraid to share them. Your article may be the first contact they have with your business. Without the social post, they may never have even come into contact with your brand. And so the relationship begins.

Can Your Business Use Social Media in this Way?

That’s a simple example, but you can apply this to any type of business. For example, a food cart may provide recipes on their social sites. Does that mean no one will ever come to their food cart again because now they can make similar dishes at home? Of course not. People grab lunch on the go more often because it is convenient than because they can’t do it themselves. The recipe engages consumers, shows off expertise, and introduces the cart to those who may not have been aware of it before.

Now the world of social media suddenly starts to take on new life. Before, you may have wondered how social media fits into your marketing strategy. Now you can begin to see that social is less about selling—and more about giving consumers something to share with others. By focusing on shareability instead of profitability, your social media accounts will attract more attention, and also be a good influence for the consumer’s perception of your brand.

 

How to Cope With the Facebook Algorithm Update

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What do people want to see when they check out their news feed on social media? That is the question that Facebook had to answer while creating a new algorithm. Unfortunately for marketers, the answer that the social media giant came up with is content posted by friends and family members. How does this affect you, and how can your company still use social media marketing effectively on Facebook moving forward?

How Businesses Are Affected

Preference to posts from friends and family automatically means that sponsored content will appear lower in the feed. Since some users do not have time to scroll very far during each use of the social network, this may mean fewer ads actually being viewed. There is, however, a silver lining. Here are a few things that you may already be doing that will have a positive effect on your news feed placement.

  1. Brand Advocates Are More Vital Than Ever

Create a call to action for your fans to share your content with their friends and family. By producing high-quality content that fans deem worthy to share and promote, you get an even better spot in the news feed, and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

  1. Use Images and Video

This is another determination that Facebook made – people love visual content. That translates into videos and images finding a higher spot on the news feed. So whether you are encouraging your fans to share your content or are using paid advertising, focus on high-quality and engaging video and image content.

  1. Tags, Tags, and More Tags

Tags increase your viewing audience quickly. Be sure that any content your company posts is tagged properly, and encourage fans to use specific tags that are associated with your brand. If you have an event, make sure everyone who posts to Facebook is using a specific tag that identifies the event. Tags can also create a sense of community.

It may take a little more creativity, but the new Facebook algorithm is certainly not a deal breaker for social media marketing strategy gurus.

When Should You Upload Social Media Content?

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The short answer is: as often as you have something to post. Before you say, “I was expecting at least several days a week and even specific hours of the day,” hear me out.

The reason you are looking for information on this topic is because there are so many conflicting opinions out there. Some say you should post to your LinkedIn on Thursdays between noon and three local time. Others say to post to your Instagram at noon EST because Europeans are getting home from work right when those on the US West Coast are just getting to work.

Here is some even more helpful advice.

Rather than trying to post one thing at the most opportune time each week, be prolific in your content creation. Then if one post falls into obscurity due to the timing of the post, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, your brand may get a better reaction from your specific audience at a different time from most companies. Posting at all different times allows you to see when you get the best response from your fans and advocates.

Plus, having a set time when you post content once per week does not allow you to market in real-time or to produce content when you feel the most inspired. Of course, if you really need to post at a certain time, you can create when inspired and then set up a scheduled post.

In short, you should upload social content when you have something to upload.

If there is a formula beyond that, it is one that you have to find yourself by creating, uploading, and then observing the response. Perhaps, lunchtime on Tuesday will work out best for your fans to comment share or click. Maybe they prefer to read your posts during commercials while watching Monday Night Football. The only way to find out is to post your personal social media content often.

Mobile Innovation and the Future of Engagement

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More than ever, we need to engage consumers on their mobile devices. After all, that’s where people are. They are even picking up their phones to check social media while million dollar ads are running on the TV screen across the room. So how can you stay ahead in the mobile innovation race?

What’s so great about getting there first?

After all, Myspace wasn’t the world’s social networking giant just because it existed before Facebook. Sometimes it pays off to be the second or third company to the party. Then you can see where someone else with a genuinely good idea has gone slightly awry in presenting it and do the same thing, only better. One of the most important things to build for your brand in the mobile arena is credibility. That doesn’t always come from being the first brand to do something new.

True, some of the world’s largest companies are innovators such as Apple and Amazon. We rely on Apple to wow us with release news. We know that Amazon will always be ahead when it comes to running the world’s largest online superstore (even if federal law kills some of their big plans – like drone deliveries). So where does that leave your brand?

You have to focus on a few solid goals with your team’s mobile innovations:

  • Engagement
  • Loyalty
  • Trust
  • Sales

With certain forms of innovation, getting there first can make the difference between selling your app to Facebook for billions of dollars or not even making the featured page on the app store. At other times, arriving late to the party but doing it better may be the difference between actually being the next Facebook or drifting off into obscurity. It is important to understand what true innovation is.

Sometimes innovation means having the idea first. Sometimes it means seeing someone else’s idea and seeing how to improve on it.

 

5 Simple Ways to Screw Up Your Brand’s Instagram Account

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If you haven’t already guessed from the title, this is a “what not to do” with your social media marketing. Here are five things that I have seen on Instagram which turn people in the community off to an account.

  1. Failing to Interact

Social media is all about interaction. If your brand never comments or responds to comments, then you are blowing a big opportunity. You want to humanize your brand for people, and that means being polite and engaging, not just posting pretty pictures.

  1. Using Instagram for Sales Pitches

Social media, in general, is a tricky place to try and post sales copy. Instagram is probably the toughest. People who are scrolling through their friend’s pictures don’t want to see an ad, and they especially don’t want to see spam comments. When your brand comments on someone else’s picture, even if you’ve been tagged, play it cool. Save the sales pitch for your landing page where it belongs.

  1. “What Is This Account” Syndrome

Have you ever been on Instagram and had no idea what an account was about? The problem is likely inconsistency. Your brand’s message needs to be easily recognizable to anyone who has ever used your products or interacted with your brand somewhere else. Can you tailor your content to something buzzworthy such as a holiday? Of course! But a makeup company doesn’t need to post a pic of a graveyard on Halloween. You’re a makeup brand – post a face made up for the holiday using your products.

  1. No One Likes a Panhandler

There is no place in social media for comments such as “Follow us! Our pics are da bomb!” That’s just annoying. Unless you want people to think your brand rep is a preteen kid with braces or some guy with a neckbeard living in his mother’s basement, stick to getting follows the old fashioned way. Post good content.

  1. Forgetting the Hashtag

Okay, there is one more thing you need to add to your solid content when working with social media marketing. A bunch of good hashtags. This is how people find you. Forget it and you’re lost in the sea of pictures. If you need help finding which tags to use, try a Google search for popular tags, or check the Explore page to see what is trending at the moment.

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