Social Media – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Fri, 20 Apr 2018 18:41:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/social-media-marketing-benchmarks-focus/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/04/social-media-marketing-benchmarks-focus/#respond Wed, 11 Apr 2018 10:02:20 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24087 Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018

Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018

Social media marketers, how are you feeling? Take a minute to breathe if you need to. The last few months have been a wild ride. Fatigue, vertigo, and even a little nausea are perfectly understandable.

As I said before, social media isn’t dying, but it is changing. Marketers are used to quick changes, naturally, but it’s important to be sure we’re making the right changes. We should approach evolving our social media with the same data-driven, strategic rigor that applies to everything else we do.

The good folks at Rival IQ recently published their 2018 Social Media Benchmarking Report. The data points to some clear directions for the next evolution of social media marketing.

Here are some of the key data points – and, more importantly, what you should do about them.

#1 - Influencers Have the Highest Engagement Rate on Facebook

Facebook Engagement Benchmark 2018

The report breaks down engagement by platform and by vertical, which invites some intriguing comparisons. If you’re in the food & beverage industry, congratulations! You’re likely seeing some of the highest engagement.

If you’re not, however, there’s no need to roll out a new Cloud-Based SaaS brand of soft drink. Influencers are also hitting the top engagement rate (a whopping .24%, but more on that later).

What to Do:

TopRank Marketing has been talking about influencer marketing since before it was cool. These stats underline the importance of co-creating content with influencers who are relevant to your audience. It’s incredibly tough for brands to make a connection with organic social. Influencers can provide the person-to-person relationship that most people want out of social media interaction.

Read: Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

#2 - More Posting Doesn’t Equal More Engagement

The highest post frequency on Facebook is in the Media vertical, with an average of over 10 posts per day. That’s an artifact of an old way of thinking about social media: Flood your page with posts and hope one or two stick. That strategy doesn’t seem to work anymore. Media has the lowest engagement rate, at .08%. Especially with Facebook, upping your posting frequency is counterproductive. The algorithm will show your posts in fewer feeds, fewer people will interact with them as a result, and you start a vicious cycle that ends up slashing your organic reach.

What to Do:

Stick to one or two posts per day, and really make them count. That’s right at the industry average, and seems to be the threshold on most platforms for how much an audience wants to see branded content. If you have ten potential posts, get ruthless: Pick the two that are most interesting, most relevant, most valuable to your audience. Then save the rest for a roundup blog post at the end of the week.

#3 - Engagement Rates Vary Widely by Platform

We tend to talk about social media as though it were a single monolithic platform. Of course we know there are differences between channels, but the report underscores just how much they can vary. The engagement rates for Instagram are above the 1% mark, with some verticals seeing over 3%:

2018 Instagram Engagement Benchmarks

2018 Twitter Benchmarks

While Twitter has an average engagement of .046%. That’s 4 hundredths of a percent, or engagement on one out of every 4,000 posts.

What to Do:

If Instagram fits your brand, and your audience is there, these stats are definitely an endorsement for hopping on the 'gramwagon. But don’t count Twitter out completely. There is a great deal more content posted on Twitter than Instagram, and Twitter moves a lot faster. So that low engagement rate shouldn’t scare you off completely. Instead, use Twitter to boost your brand awareness, provide customer service via social media monitoring, and to engage with potential influencers.

Paid posts on Twitter can also have a powerful impact. One of our technology clients initially ruled out Twitter completely. We were able to prove they had a potential audience on Twitter and helped them run a paid program. In the end, their Twitter engagement was far higher than engagement on any other platform.

#4 - Engagement Is Low on Every Platform

More than anything, the report shows just how low the benchmarks are across the social media spectrum. If an email marketing campaign had a .046% average open rate, we would be throwing in the towel writing our resignations at the same time.

The drop in engagement makes sense, though, with how social media platforms have evolved. They used to be based on delivering all the posts the user opted into seeing. Whatever accounts the person chose to follow, that was what filled their feed.

Now every major social site is curated by algorithm. The user doesn’t control what they see, and neither do brands.

What to Do:

There are two key ways to thrive in the Age of the Algorithm. We’ve already covered the first: Start thinking of most of these channels as pay-to-play. Take your most compelling content and throw some paid promotion behind it on your highest-performing platform. Then A/B test your audience targeting until you find the sweet spot.

The second is to produce the type of content that the algorithm will promote. For Facebook and Twitter, that increasingly means native video. Facebook in particular has been explicit about their favoritism for video. Posts that match what the platform wants to promote will get a bigger initial push, which can help you get engagement, which will signal the algorithm to promote it more.

It’s also a good idea to explore the major platform that’s missing from Rival IQ’s report: LinkedIn*. The reported engagement rate on LinkedIn is .054%, lower than Facebook but higher than Twitter. However, it’s easy to more than double that benchmark with a little optimization, as this infographic from LinkedIn shows.

You can also branch out on LinkedIn by having your C-suite post their own thought leadership content on their own accounts. Personal posts are likely to get more engagement and more shares.

Stay on Your Mark and Don’t Get Benched

Social media marketing is still one of the newest marketing disciplines there is. We’re still developing best practices as the platforms continue to evolve. It’s a little like trying to build a train while you’re going 60 miles per hour down a track built on top of a pool of lime Jell-O.

These benchmarks can provide a starting point for the next iteration of your strategy. They might not speak to your specific vertical or audience, but they do highlight the broad changes taking place across social media. To make sure your train keeps rolling, focus on just a few high-quality posts per day, boosted with paid ads on your most valuable channels.

Need help mastering social media marketing? Here’s how we helped one company expand their reach.

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client.

The post Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018

Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018 Social media marketers, how are you feeling? Take a minute to breathe if you need to. The last few months have been a wild ride. Fatigue, vertigo, and even a little nausea are perfectly understandable. As I said before, social media isn’t dying, but it is changing. Marketers are used to quick changes, naturally, but it’s important to be sure we’re making the right changes. We should approach evolving our social media with the same data-driven, strategic rigor that applies to everything else we do. The good folks at Rival IQ recently published their 2018 Social Media Benchmarking Report. The data points to some clear directions for the next evolution of social media marketing. Here are some of the key data points – and, more importantly, what you should do about them.

#1 - Influencers Have the Highest Engagement Rate on Facebook

Facebook Engagement Benchmark 2018 The report breaks down engagement by platform and by vertical, which invites some intriguing comparisons. If you’re in the food & beverage industry, congratulations! You’re likely seeing some of the highest engagement. If you’re not, however, there’s no need to roll out a new Cloud-Based SaaS brand of soft drink. Influencers are also hitting the top engagement rate (a whopping .24%, but more on that later).

What to Do:

TopRank Marketing has been talking about influencer marketing since before it was cool. These stats underline the importance of co-creating content with influencers who are relevant to your audience. It’s incredibly tough for brands to make a connection with organic social. Influencers can provide the person-to-person relationship that most people want out of social media interaction. Read: Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

#2 - More Posting Doesn’t Equal More Engagement

The highest post frequency on Facebook is in the Media vertical, with an average of over 10 posts per day. That’s an artifact of an old way of thinking about social media: Flood your page with posts and hope one or two stick. That strategy doesn’t seem to work anymore. Media has the lowest engagement rate, at .08%. Especially with Facebook, upping your posting frequency is counterproductive. The algorithm will show your posts in fewer feeds, fewer people will interact with them as a result, and you start a vicious cycle that ends up slashing your organic reach.

What to Do:

Stick to one or two posts per day, and really make them count. That’s right at the industry average, and seems to be the threshold on most platforms for how much an audience wants to see branded content. If you have ten potential posts, get ruthless: Pick the two that are most interesting, most relevant, most valuable to your audience. Then save the rest for a roundup blog post at the end of the week.

#3 - Engagement Rates Vary Widely by Platform

We tend to talk about social media as though it were a single monolithic platform. Of course we know there are differences between channels, but the report underscores just how much they can vary. The engagement rates for Instagram are above the 1% mark, with some verticals seeing over 3%: 2018 Instagram Engagement Benchmarks 2018 Twitter Benchmarks While Twitter has an average engagement of .046%. That’s 4 hundredths of a percent, or engagement on one out of every 4,000 posts.

What to Do:

If Instagram fits your brand, and your audience is there, these stats are definitely an endorsement for hopping on the 'gramwagon. But don’t count Twitter out completely. There is a great deal more content posted on Twitter than Instagram, and Twitter moves a lot faster. So that low engagement rate shouldn’t scare you off completely. Instead, use Twitter to boost your brand awareness, provide customer service via social media monitoring, and to engage with potential influencers. Paid posts on Twitter can also have a powerful impact. One of our technology clients initially ruled out Twitter completely. We were able to prove they had a potential audience on Twitter and helped them run a paid program. In the end, their Twitter engagement was far higher than engagement on any other platform.

#4 - Engagement Is Low on Every Platform

More than anything, the report shows just how low the benchmarks are across the social media spectrum. If an email marketing campaign had a .046% average open rate, we would be throwing in the towel writing our resignations at the same time. The drop in engagement makes sense, though, with how social media platforms have evolved. They used to be based on delivering all the posts the user opted into seeing. Whatever accounts the person chose to follow, that was what filled their feed. Now every major social site is curated by algorithm. The user doesn’t control what they see, and neither do brands.

What to Do:

There are two key ways to thrive in the Age of the Algorithm. We’ve already covered the first: Start thinking of most of these channels as pay-to-play. Take your most compelling content and throw some paid promotion behind it on your highest-performing platform. Then A/B test your audience targeting until you find the sweet spot. The second is to produce the type of content that the algorithm will promote. For Facebook and Twitter, that increasingly means native video. Facebook in particular has been explicit about their favoritism for video. Posts that match what the platform wants to promote will get a bigger initial push, which can help you get engagement, which will signal the algorithm to promote it more. It’s also a good idea to explore the major platform that’s missing from Rival IQ’s report: LinkedIn*. The reported engagement rate on LinkedIn is .054%, lower than Facebook but higher than Twitter. However, it’s easy to more than double that benchmark with a little optimization, as this infographic from LinkedIn shows. You can also branch out on LinkedIn by having your C-suite post their own thought leadership content on their own accounts. Personal posts are likely to get more engagement and more shares.

Stay on Your Mark and Don’t Get Benched

Social media marketing is still one of the newest marketing disciplines there is. We’re still developing best practices as the platforms continue to evolve. It’s a little like trying to build a train while you’re going 60 miles per hour down a track built on top of a pool of lime Jell-O. These benchmarks can provide a starting point for the next iteration of your strategy. They might not speak to your specific vertical or audience, but they do highlight the broad changes taking place across social media. To make sure your train keeps rolling, focus on just a few high-quality posts per day, boosted with paid ads on your most valuable channels. Need help mastering social media marketing? Here’s how we helped one company expand their reach. *LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client.

The post Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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How to Survive the Social Media Midlife Crisis http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/social-media-marketing-mid-life-crisis/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/social-media-marketing-mid-life-crisis/#respond Wed, 28 Mar 2018 10:30:34 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=24035

Time moves faster on the internet. Last month’s memes are about as relevant as a 1920s vaudeville show. Even a bona fide viral phenomenon from just a few years ago seems quaint and dated.

Twitter and Facebook are only 12 and 14 years old, respectively. But they’re aging at internet speed. And right now they’re having a midlife crisis. Instead of buying a sports car and taking up craft brewing, though, that crisis is manifesting as existential dread and intense soul-searching.

The people who run the platforms are publicly examining their purpose and societal impact. More importantly, the people who use the platforms are asking tough questions:

What am I getting out of my time spent here?

Who is this platform structured to benefit?

Should I be trusting my data with this platform?

Is this a positive or negative thing I have let into my life?

As marketers, we have to ask ourselves the same questions. And we should add one more: Is our social media marketing valuable to our audience?

If we’re not adding value, we’re adding to the problem.

Social media is in crisis right now. But that doesn’t mean marketers should abandon ship. It means we have to do our own soul-searching. We need to take our social media accounts off of autopilot and approach them mindfully. Here’s what marketers should consider as we weather the social media midlife crisis.

How Does Your Social Media Marketing Make People Feel?

A recent Hill Holliday report found that a majority of 18-24 year olds were at least considering abandoning social media. Over a quarter said that social media hurts their self-esteem or makes them feel insecure. Thirty-five percent said there was too much negativity, and 17% said they were considering quitting because social media makes them feel bad about themselves.

Connecting with your brand on social media should make a person feel better. They should feel that your brand shares values with them, is paying attention to them, can help meet needs and solve problems.

It’s worth evaluating what your brand is posting on social to make sure it’s helping spread positivity. The old days of scaring or shaming people into buying a product are more than over. The overarching message of any brand on social media should be some variant of: “This is what we’re like. If you’re like that too, you’re awesome. Here’s some help you didn’t even know you needed. Here’s something to make your day a little brighter.”

[bctt tweet="Connecting with your brand on #socialmedia should make a person feel better. They should feel that your brand shares values with them, is paying attention to them, can help meet needs & solve problems. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Is Your Brand Using Social Media to Be…Well…Social?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? No one opens their Facebook app saying: “Gosh, I hope I have some satisfactory brand interactions today.” People use social media to connect with other people — you want to see if your high school best friend had her baby, check out your uncle’s kitchen remodel, or see pictures of your parents’ second honeymoon.

Most brands on social media have been pretty lousy at giving people that type of person-to-person interaction. Which explains why people are moving their conversations out of the public eye, into private groups in apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

How can brands be more social on social media? It starts with transparency and honesty. I love Wendy’s’ sassy Twitter account as much as the next jaded Gen X’er, but snark only takes you so far. Use your social media posts to introduce the people behind your brand and the values they stand for. Then aim for meaningful interaction: When someone reaches out to the brand, make sure the reply is prompt, personal, and useful.

[bctt tweet="How can brands be more social on #socialmedia? It starts with transparency & honesty. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Is Your Brand Connecting with People Your Audience Trusts?

At the heart of it, there’s a limit to how well your brand can connect with individual people. Even when you’re honest, transparent, and engaging, a brand is still not a human being. The relationship dynamic will always be a little strained.

That’s one of the many reasons why influencer marketing works so well. Influencers can co-create content with you and amplify it to their audience on a much more personal basis than your brand could manage on its own. Find the people your audience already follows — in other words, the ones they want to interact with. Then work with these influencers to bring their audience great content that only your brand could have helped create.

Working with influencers helps put the personal, social touch back into social media marketing. It puts the emphasis of your brand interaction where it belongs: person to person.

[bctt tweet="Working with influencers helps put the personal, social touch back into #SocialMediaMarketing. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Read: Death of Facebook Organic Reach = Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Getting Beyond the Crisis

When social media platforms first launched, most of us jumped right in. We found our high school classmates. We connected with friends from college. We added co-workers and family members and friends of friends, and we shared everything. Over time, we developed routines. Now, people are finally starting to analyze just what social media means to them. Most will keep their accounts open — but the majority will change the way they interact with the platforms.

Sound familiar? Most brands jumped headfirst into social media, developed routines, and then many of us went on autopilot. Now it’s time to question what we hope to get out of social media, and whether our tactics are getting us closer to those goals. And most importantly, making sure our goals match what our audience wants from us.

Need help with social media marketing? We have you covered.

The post How to Survive the Social Media Midlife Crisis appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>

Time moves faster on the internet. Last month’s memes are about as relevant as a 1920s vaudeville show. Even a bona fide viral phenomenon from just a few years ago seems quaint and dated. Twitter and Facebook are only 12 and 14 years old, respectively. But they’re aging at internet speed. And right now they’re having a midlife crisis. Instead of buying a sports car and taking up craft brewing, though, that crisis is manifesting as existential dread and intense soul-searching. The people who run the platforms are publicly examining their purpose and societal impact. More importantly, the people who use the platforms are asking tough questions:
What am I getting out of my time spent here? Who is this platform structured to benefit? Should I be trusting my data with this platform? Is this a positive or negative thing I have let into my life?
As marketers, we have to ask ourselves the same questions. And we should add one more: Is our social media marketing valuable to our audience? If we’re not adding value, we’re adding to the problem. Social media is in crisis right now. But that doesn’t mean marketers should abandon ship. It means we have to do our own soul-searching. We need to take our social media accounts off of autopilot and approach them mindfully. Here’s what marketers should consider as we weather the social media midlife crisis.

How Does Your Social Media Marketing Make People Feel?

A recent Hill Holliday report found that a majority of 18-24 year olds were at least considering abandoning social media. Over a quarter said that social media hurts their self-esteem or makes them feel insecure. Thirty-five percent said there was too much negativity, and 17% said they were considering quitting because social media makes them feel bad about themselves. Connecting with your brand on social media should make a person feel better. They should feel that your brand shares values with them, is paying attention to them, can help meet needs and solve problems. It’s worth evaluating what your brand is posting on social to make sure it’s helping spread positivity. The old days of scaring or shaming people into buying a product are more than over. The overarching message of any brand on social media should be some variant of: “This is what we’re like. If you’re like that too, you’re awesome. Here’s some help you didn’t even know you needed. Here’s something to make your day a little brighter.” [bctt tweet="Connecting with your brand on #socialmedia should make a person feel better. They should feel that your brand shares values with them, is paying attention to them, can help meet needs & solve problems. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Is Your Brand Using Social Media to Be…Well…Social?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we? No one opens their Facebook app saying: “Gosh, I hope I have some satisfactory brand interactions today.” People use social media to connect with other people — you want to see if your high school best friend had her baby, check out your uncle’s kitchen remodel, or see pictures of your parents’ second honeymoon. Most brands on social media have been pretty lousy at giving people that type of person-to-person interaction. Which explains why people are moving their conversations out of the public eye, into private groups in apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. How can brands be more social on social media? It starts with transparency and honesty. I love Wendy’s’ sassy Twitter account as much as the next jaded Gen X’er, but snark only takes you so far. Use your social media posts to introduce the people behind your brand and the values they stand for. Then aim for meaningful interaction: When someone reaches out to the brand, make sure the reply is prompt, personal, and useful. [bctt tweet="How can brands be more social on #socialmedia? It starts with transparency & honesty. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"]

Is Your Brand Connecting with People Your Audience Trusts?

At the heart of it, there’s a limit to how well your brand can connect with individual people. Even when you’re honest, transparent, and engaging, a brand is still not a human being. The relationship dynamic will always be a little strained. That’s one of the many reasons why influencer marketing works so well. Influencers can co-create content with you and amplify it to their audience on a much more personal basis than your brand could manage on its own. Find the people your audience already follows — in other words, the ones they want to interact with. Then work with these influencers to bring their audience great content that only your brand could have helped create. Working with influencers helps put the personal, social touch back into social media marketing. It puts the emphasis of your brand interaction where it belongs: person to person. [bctt tweet="Working with influencers helps put the personal, social touch back into #SocialMediaMarketing. - @NiteWrites" username="toprank"] Read: Death of Facebook Organic Reach = Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Getting Beyond the Crisis

When social media platforms first launched, most of us jumped right in. We found our high school classmates. We connected with friends from college. We added co-workers and family members and friends of friends, and we shared everything. Over time, we developed routines. Now, people are finally starting to analyze just what social media means to them. Most will keep their accounts open — but the majority will change the way they interact with the platforms. Sound familiar? Most brands jumped headfirst into social media, developed routines, and then many of us went on autopilot. Now it’s time to question what we hope to get out of social media, and whether our tactics are getting us closer to those goals. And most importantly, making sure our goals match what our audience wants from us. Need help with social media marketing? We have you covered.

The post How to Survive the Social Media Midlife Crisis appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/content-marketers-buzzsumo-report/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/03/content-marketers-buzzsumo-report/#respond Wed, 07 Mar 2018 11:30:32 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23878

Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends Report

AWWOOOOGA! AWOOOOGA!

Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future.

I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working.

"The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook," BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson told us. "To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week."

So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable?

Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us:

"The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it."

[bctt tweet="You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. - @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends" username="toprank"]

Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 - Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content.

What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts.

[bctt tweet="Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds.

What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 - Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise.

Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic

What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands.

What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with "best answer content" that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 - Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links.

What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 - There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on WordPress.com, say it all:

Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over time

Graph showing decline in views on WordPress

Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining.

What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:

  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.

[bctt tweet="When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time.

Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails.

Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.  

*LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

The post Content Marketers, This Is Not a Drill: 5 Alarm Bells from BuzzSumo’s Latest Report appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Content Marketing Takeaways from BuzzSumo's Content Trends Report AWWOOOOGA! AWOOOOGA! Content marketers, there is a content marketing emergency happening right now. This is not a drill. Please gather your belongings and exit the building in an orderly fashion. Go to your predetermined meeting spots to verify that your co-workers are safe, and start making a plan for the future. I’m not naturally an alarmist. But there’s blood in the water. And smoke on the water. And fire in the sky. BuzzSumo just published their Content Trends for 2018 and the results aren’t pretty. After analyzing 100 million pieces of content for social sharing, social traffic referrals, and backlinks, the team has one clear takeaway: What most content marketers are doing is no longer working. "The key takeaway from our research is that it is much harder to drive referral traffic from social networks than it used to be. Social sharing has halved over the last three years and organic reach has fallen, particularly on Facebook," BuzzSumo's Steve Rayson told us. "To be in the top 5 percent of shared content you needed just 343 shares in 2017. At the same time, content competition continues to increase with an ever increasing number of articles being published each week." So, do we assume crash position and wait for the inevitable? Heck no! Content marketing isn’t dying; it’s evolving. We can evolve our tactics and strategy to recapture our audience’s attention. Those who hear the alarm and take action will thrive, while those who keep snoozing will go down with the ship. As Rayson told us: "The lesson for content marketers is that you must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social and expect people to find it." [bctt tweet="You must have a content promotion or amplification strategy. You can no longer expect to publish content, share it on social & expect people to find it. - @steverayson #ContentMarketingTrends" username="toprank"] Here’s our look at some key findings from the report, and what smart marketers will do about them.

5 Content Marketing Alarm Bells

#1 - Shares Are on the Decline

The Alarm: The median number of shares on content has declined by half since 2015. There has also been a sharp decline in viral posts with hundreds of thousands of shares, and in the effectiveness of “clickbait”-style content. What You Can Do:. Instead of going after huge share counts, we should focus on getting shares from — you guessed it — influencers who have a relevant audience! Influencer marketing makes sure your content gets in front of the right people, and more than 8 of them at a time. Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. [bctt tweet="Brand amplification of content isn’t enough to earn shares now — the content needs to come from people your audience already knows and trusts. - @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

#2 - Facebook Is Just Not that Into You

The Alarm: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but organic reach on Facebook has dramatically diminished in the past year and a half. Facebook shows no sign of reversing the trend, either. Quite the opposite; their stated goal is to have fewer (unpaid) brand messages in people’s crowded news feeds. What You Can Do: First, start thinking of Facebook as a pay-to-play platform and adjust budget and expectations accordingly. This is also a good time to evaluate how much of your audience is actually on Facebook and actively engaging with content. The report also shows that LinkedIn* likes and shares are up more than 60% from last year — which means LinkedIn may be a better place to focus your attention.

#3 - Search Beats Social for Traffic Referrals

The Alarm: At the end of 2015, Facebook referral traffic finally rose above Google referral traffic. But Facebook’s dominance was short-lived. Now, Facebook is steadily trending down as Google continues to rise. Graph showing social media shares versus google traffic What happened? Google continued to get smarter about serving up relevant content, as Facebook continued to choke organic traffic from brands. What You Can Do: The amplification model of “post on social media and ask people to click through” has been obsolete for a while now. Instead, focus on building your search equity with "best answer content" that is optimized for human beings. The more your content captures attention — page views, time on page, low bounce rate — the more search engines will serve you up at the top of the SERPs.

#4 - Backlinks Are Hard to Earn

The Alarm: As we refocus attention on search over social, we have to consider backlinks. Links to your site from reputable 3rd-party sources can be a significant ranking factor. Unfortunately, most content earns zero backlinks — 70% have no third-party links. What You Can Do: The majority of content that attracts backlinks is high-quality research or reference content from authoritative sources. Work on building your library of stellar content, optimize it for SEO, and you can begin earning backlinks. In the meantime, your great content will help with search visibility even without the linkbuilding.

#5 - There’s More Content and Fewer People Reading It

The Alarm: Here’s the heart of the matter, the alarm bell to end all alarm bells. Content creation continues to climb, while content consumption declines. We have reached peak content. These two graphs, of content created versus pageviews on WordPress.com, say it all: Graph showing number of wordpress posts increasing over time Graph showing decline in views on WordPress Notice while the volume of content rises, pageviews peaked somewhere around March of last year and are steadily declining. What You Can Do: There are three ways you can combat content shock:
  1. Publish higher-value content at a slower cadence. Take time to deliver authoritative research or reference works rather than lighter, more shallow content.
  2. Repurpose content that drove pageviews in the past. Combine shorter posts into one big post, refresh the stats and links, and re-publish. Get the maximum equity from your existing content before you create new stuff.
  3. Capture your audience. When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. That way, you have a built-in audience not dependent on social media algorithms or search engine whims. And given how email marketing is still going gangbusters, you have a much better channel for reaching them.
[bctt tweet="When your high-quality content brings all the boys to the yard, make sure to CTA to your newsletter or email list. @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing" username="toprank"]

Sound the All Clear

The way people consume content is constantly changing. Your content marketing tactics should be just as flexible. As the BuzzSumo report shows, the marketers who hang onto obsolete methods are losing audience now, and will continue to lose over time. Interestingly, the “new” most effective tactics are those that have been steadily working the whole time, while some of us went chasing shiny objects: Create high-quality, best-answer content, leverage influencers for amplification & credibility, capture your audience and serve them engaging emails. Need help creating best-answer content? We’re here for you.   *LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions is a TopRank Marketing client

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2018 – 50 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/social-media-marketing-influencers-2018/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/social-media-marketing-influencers-2018/#respond Mon, 26 Feb 2018 11:00:00 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23857 It’s that time of year again for the conference extravaganza known as Social Media Marketing World.  Each year I pull together a list of influential voices that are engaging on social networks around the topic social media marketing. My goal? To help showcase speakers for people in the industry to learn from and follow. Why are [...]

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Social Media Marketing Influencers 2018

It’s that time of year again for the conference extravaganza known as Social Media Marketing World.  Each year I pull together a list of influential voices that are engaging on social networks around the topic social media marketing. My goal? To help showcase speakers for people in the industry to learn from and follow.

Why are these people influential? That’s a great question. I would answer with, “Why is anyone influential?”. Because they have specific expertise that they share publicly, consistently and in a way that improves the knowledge, skills and perspectives of those who follow them.

Influence is not only popularity. Influence is the ability to affect action.

When I started out in my digital marketing career, it was thanks to connecting with some generous people that had a lot more experience than me that I was able to overcome introversion and reluctance to write and become an international keynote speaker, author and blogger with over 1.4 million words written so far. What I have learned about influence is that it is not self-assigned.

Influence is earned by being helpful, effective and relevant as well as having reach. Influence is also earned by mentoring those who are coming up in the industry. While working with influencers transfers influence by association, helping others become influential is when earned influence really skyrockets.

In this year’s list of Social Media Marketing Influencers there are many people who demonstrate this kind of helpfulness and I am encouraging those influencers as well as our community of readers to nominate up and coming social media marketing leaders. You can find more details on that at the end of the post.

About the Methodology for this List:

Specific Scope: Rather than scan the entire social web, the starting data set for this list is having been named as a speaker for the SMMW18 conference. Mike Stelzner and Phil Mershon of Social Media Examiner do an amazing job of hand picking speakers for this conference and this list is an extension of their research and expertise into finding, qualifying and recruiting over 180 social media marketing speakers.

IRM Platform Assisted: Ranking of the people in this list leverages data and algorithms from Traackr, an influencer relationship marketing platform. Unlike the vast majority of lists like this that are published online, this list considers many more data sources than just Twitter. To provide a better sample across the web, Traackr ranking can include citations and links from data sources such as blogs, publications, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

Ranking data sources and scoring: For the ranking, this list leverages a combination of data points including:

  • Relevance – A score that indicates how influential a person is to a specific topic based on the keywords you provide. Signals for relevance include keyword mentions, keyword diversity, content production rate, freshness of content and other contextual measures. In this case, it was “social media marketing” as well as 10+ derivative phrases.
  • Resonance – A score of how impactful the influencer is with their audience. Resonance measures engagement activity that occurs as a result of publishing (mostly social) content.
  • Reach – A score derived by the reach algorithm that takes into account followers, fans, subscribers, visitors and other audience metrics. Remember, this is more than just Twitter.
  • Audience – Overall social audience size

Each of these signal sources are factored into the algorithmic ranking for identified influencers with a focus on topical relevance, resonance of message with the audience and then audience reach. The result is a combination of broad based influencers as well as individuals with a very specific focus and very high resonance and relevance scores. What I like about pulling this list together is seeing a number of new faces as well as as a variety of disciplines and specialties represented.

This list of 50 industry experts speaking at Social Media Marketing World is worth checking out as you plan which presentations to see, who to follow online and who to meet.

Kim Garst @kimgarst
Live Streaming Strategist, Social Selling Pro, Keynote Speaker at Boom! Social
Presenting: How to Make Money With Live Video

Donna Moritz @sociallysorted
Digital Content Strategist, International Speaker, Visual Content Strategist at Socially Sorted
Presenting: Tips and Tools for Visual Storytelling on Instagram

Brian Fanzo @isocialfanz
Founder and CEO at iSocialFanz
Presenting: Facebook Strategy in Light of the Facebook Apocalypse

Koka Sexton @kokasexton
Advisor, SenderGen
Presenting: How to Turn LinkedIn Into a Funnel for New Leads

Madalyn Sklar @madalynsklar
Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Podcaster
Presenting: How to Up Your Twitter Game With Smart Tools

Dan Gingiss @dgingiss
Vice President, Strategic Group at Persado
Presenting: Why Social Media is Key to the Customer Experience

Ian Anderson Gray @iagdotme
Co-founder at Select Performers Internet Solutions
Presenting: How to Create Your Killer Live Video Show: Tools and Tips

Jeff Sieh @jeffsieh
Pinterest Manager at Social Media Examiner
Presenting: Visual Marketing for Non-Designers: Tips, Tricks, and Hacks

Viveka Von Rosen @linkedinexpert
LinkedIn and Personal Branding Expert, Co-founder and Chief Visibility Officer at Vengreso
Presenting: How to Best Use LinkedIn Native Video in Your Marketing

Neal Schaffer @NealSchaffer
CEO at Maximize Your Social
Presenting: How Brands are Breaking Through to Generate Results on LinkedIn

Josh Elledge @joshelledge
Founder at upendPR
Presenting: How to Get Traditional Media Exposure Using Social Media

Robert Rose @robert_rose
Founder at The Content Advisory & Chief Strategy Advisor at Content Marketing Institute
Presenting: Becoming an Audience First Company: How to Understand and Measure the Most Valuable Asset in Your Business

Gini Dietrich @ginidietrich
Chief Executive Officer at Arment Dietrich
Presenting: Crisis Communications: Tips From the Trenches

Carlos Gil @CarlosGil83
Founder, Gil Media Co.
Presenting: Snapchat Ads: How-to Use Snapchat’s Full Service Ad Platform

Darren Rowse @problogger
Founder and Keynote Speaker at ProBlogger
Presenting: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known about Blogging That Will Shortcut the Growth of Your Blog

Mark Schaefer @markwschaefer
Executive Director at Schaefer Marketing Solutions
Presenting: 10 Mind-Bending New Ideas for Our Social Media Marketing Future

Tamara McCleary @tamaramccleary
CEO at Thulium.co
Presenting: Innovating Your Way to Strong Social Media ROI

Mark Mason @masonworld
Quality Manager, Interface Products at Texas Instruments
Presenting: How to Make Your Podcast Stand Out: Tips from the Trenches

Rebekah Radice @rebekahradice
Founder at RadiantLA
Presenting: How to Make Visual Content Your Social Media Secret Weapon

Brooke B. Sellas @madsmscientist
Founder & Chief Executive Officer at B Squared Media
Presenting: Organizing for Social Success: Insource? Outsource? No Source?

Tyler Anderson @tylerjanderson
CEO / Founder at Casual Fridays
Presenting: Winning With Influencer Marketing: What Top Brands are Doing Now

Samantha Kelly @tweetinggoddess
Owner of Women’s Inspire Network
Presenting: How to Convert Twitter Conversations Into Customers

Ian Cleary @iancleary
Founder at RazorSocial
Presenting: 9 Content Marketing Tools to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

Mari Smith @marismith
Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, Bestselling Author
Presenting: The Future of Facebook: What Marketers Need to Know for 2018 and Beyond

Mike Stelzner @mike_stelzner
CEO and Founder at Social Media Examiner
Presenting: Social Media Marketing in 2018: What the Newest Research Reveals

social media marketing speaker network connections

Andy Crestodina @crestodina
Strategic Director at Orbit Media Studios
Presenting: Building Better Mousetraps: A Content-Driven Approach to Conversion Optimization

Bernie Borges @bernieborges
Advisory Board Member at OneMob and Co-founder and CMO at Vengreso.
Presenting: The Secrets to Getting Employees to Engage on Behalf of Your Brand

Alex Khan @1alexkhan
CEO at Attractive Media GmbH
Presenting: Mass Seduction: Proven Techniques to Engage and Build Your Audience

Peg Fitzpatrick @PegFitzpatrick
Director of Social Media + Marketing at Kreussler
Presenting: How to Use Pinterest to Drive Long Term Traffic

Chris Penn @cspenn
Vice President of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications
Presenting: Seeing Into the Future: Predictive Analytics for Social Marketers

Michael O’Neal @solohour
Host of The Solopreneur Hour Podcast
Presenting: Becoming an Interview Master and How it Can Massively Grow Your Podcast or Livestream

Brian Solis @briansolis
Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group
Presenting: The Past, Present and Future of Social Media

Park Howell @parkhowell
Founder and President at Business of Story
Presenting: How to Invest in Brand Storytelling to Earn the Greatest Return

Nicky Kriel @nickykriel
Social Media Consultant & Social Media Strategist at Nicky Kriel Social Media
Presenting: How to Use Twitter Data to Improve Your Content Marketing

Melanie Deziel @mdeziel
Brand Strategy Consultant and Speaker at Mdeziel Media
Presenting: 5 Branded Content Best Practices From the World of Journalism

Andrea Vahl @andreavahl
Social Media Consultant at Andrea Vahl
Presenting: Facebook Ads Strategy for Small Businesses

Jay Baer @jaybaer
Founder at Convince & Convert
Presenting: How to Prove Social Media Works to Skeptical Managers

Steve Dotto @dottotech
President at Galileo Consulting and Producer of Dotto Tech
Presenting: YouMake YouFortune on YouTube: Making Money on YouTube

Ann Handley @marketingprofs
Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs
Presenting: Creating Better Content in Less Time: 5 Real-World Writer Secrets

Lee Odden @leeodden
CEO at TopRank Marketing
Presenting: How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation

Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki
Chief Evangelist at Canva
Presenting: Achieving Social Media Success by Defying Conventional Wisdom

Shaun McBride @Shonduras
Owner Esports/Shonduras Inc
Presenting: How to Influence Influencers: The Creative Process

John Jantsch @ducttape
President at Duct Tape Marketing
Presenting: How to Grow a Highly Profitable Consulting Practice Without Adding Overhead

Jessika Phillips @jessikaphillips
Relationship Marketing Evangelist, President at NOW Marketing Group
Presenting: Relationship ROI: How to Grow Your Business by Focusing on Repeat and Referral Relationships

John Lee Dumas @johnleedumas
Host of the EOFire Podcast
Presenting: How to Grow Your Podcast Audience and Fuel Your Business

Roberto Blake @robertoblake
Owner at Create Awesome Media
Presenting: Mastering and Measuring YouTube Analytics for Video Marketing

Shep Hyken @Hyken
Chief Amazement Officer and Owner, Customer Service Speaker and Expert at Shepard Presentations
Presenting: How to Turn Social Customer Service Into a Marketing Strategy

Jasmine Star @jasminestar
Owner at Jasmine Star Photography
Presenting: How to Create 30 Days of Instagram Content in a Single Day

Bryan Kramer @bryankramer
Keynote Speaker, Emcee and Event Host at PureMatter
Presenting: How to Humanize Your Social Brand for Better Conversions

Brian Peters @brian_g_peters
Digital Marketing Manager at Buffer
Presenting: How to Build and Maintain an Authentic Community on Instagram

If you want to follow all 50 of these fine folks, then check out the speaker list on the SMMW18 conference schedule page.

What about non-digital influence? 

I think this is a great question because not everyone that is influential (especially in the B2B world) spends as much time tweeting, blogging and posting Instagram photos as many of the influencers listed above do. And yet they are highly influential.

For example, here are several more speakers that are pretty influential to me, even though they are not on the list above: Amisha Gandhi (client), Beverly Jackson, Brian Clark, Chris Brogan, Konnie Alex (client), LaSandra Brill, Shannon Paul, Tim Washer, and Ursula Ringham to name a few.

Suffice it to say, I think when you are deciding on which influencers to work with, it’s important to get out of the digital bubble and consider offline-specific influencers as well – especially in B2B.

Big Questions About Influencer Lists & Influencer Marketing:

  • How do you find the right influencers?
  • What do you collaborate with them on?
  • How do you measure influencer marketing performance?
  • Are there processes and formulas for success?

These are some of the most common topics that come up through my agency’s influencer content marketing consulting with brands like Dell, SAP, LinkedIn, 3M and even mid-market companies like DivvyHQ or Cherwell Software.  I’ll be tackling these questions and more in my presentation at Social Media Marketing World 2018. Here are the details:

How Content Plus Influence Equals Results: The Confluence Equation
Thursday, March 1st at 4:10pm Room: 32AB
Content marketing and influencer marketing are hot topics for marketers all over the world as two of the most promising strategies for attracting, engaging and converting ideal customers. But how do you find the right influencers? What kind of content should you collaborate on? How do you best measure influencer and content success? Join Lee Odden to learn from his experience working with brands big and small to develop efficient and effective formulas for influencer content success.

I hope to see you there!

NOMINATE YOUR PEERS!

I know some folks are feeling left out and others would have added other social media marketing speakers to this list. Lists are exclusive by nature, but I think it would be amazing for the experts on this list as well as our readers would nominate up and coming industry social media marketing pros that are consistently providing useful expertise, leadership and engaging with their communities.

Please leave full name, title, company and Twitter handle (or other social profile) of your nominee in the comments. I will follow this list up with a People’s Choice style list of Rising Social Media Stars after the conference.


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Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/social-media-marketing-spotlight-usbank/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/02/social-media-marketing-spotlight-usbank/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23775 US Bank NiceOff

US Bank NiceOff

Roughly 120,000 visitors from 130 countries descended on the Twin Cities last week to take part in Super Bowl LII festivities hosted in downtown Minneapolis. To welcome visitors to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank—which just so happens to have its name on the stadium that hosted the big game—wanted to give visitors a taste of “what Minnesota is all about.”

For those of you who haven’t heard, Minnesota—where TopRank Marketing is proudly based—isn’t just known for its frigid winters and as the birthplace and residence of the late Prince Rogers Nelson. It’s also known for its “northern hospitality”—or as it’s affectionately called—Minnesota Nice.

With Minnesota Nice as their inspiration—and some great strategic thinking—U.S. Bank launched the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation and friendly competition on Twitter, inviting its followers and other local brands to try to “out-nice” each other by sharing acts of kindness that are Minnesota Nice signatures.

The result? A social media marketing campaign that was thoughtful, engaging, subtly brand-centric, and influencer-activated.

Starting the Conversation

While the conversation started with the single tweet below, the campaign was in the works for weeks.

US Bank Minnesota Nice Off

As it so happens, TopRank Marketing alumni and current U.S. Bank Social Media Campaign Manager, Jason Schober, was part of the action. And he was gracious enough to give us an inside look.

“We really wanted to evoke some engagement and brand activation within the community of people that would be participating in the activities leading up to and at the big game,” Schober told us.

Eventually, the Minnesota Nice-themed campaign strategy emerged as a winning idea. To get started, the team team laid out a strategy that would ensure FCC compliance by not mentioning financial products or services in communications, respect Super Bowl guidelines since U.S. Bank was not a direct sponsor, and make sure the campaign made sense for their brand identity and voice.

The campaign was in great shape, but U.S. Bank didn’t want to go at it alone. So, roughly a week before launch, they began to form partnerships with other local, well-known brands—including Target, Land O’ Lakes, Sun Country and 3M—to be part of the conversation. However, none of the partnering brands knew what others would be posting until it unfolded on launch day (Feb. 1), which kept the conversation real and spontaneous. Here’s a shot of the beginning of the conversation.

Target and US Bank Nice Off

For the work we do at TopRank Marketing, this move is directly tied to the power of influence in marketing. By partnering with influential brands, U.S. Bank was not only able to add credible voices to the conversation, but also extend their reach to these brands’ respective audiences. In addition, once the ball got rolling, other brands and individuals were given an organic opportunity to get in on the fun. Of course, many of the interactions cleverly intertwined a brand’s own marketing message. Here’s one of our favorites:

3M Minnesota Nice Off Tweet

Top the Tater Minnesota Nice Off Tweet

When it came to selecting the right hashtag to define the conversation, their approach was two-pronged, according to Jason.

“The original idea was #MinnesotaNiceOff,” he explained. “But for both tracking and engagement purposes, we decided to leverage two hashtags: #MnNice and #NiceOff. Reason being, we knew #MnNice was already being used and could open our conversation up to a broader audience, and #NiceOff would be something we could own and brand the conversation with.”

The Big Takeaway

A thoughtful, integrated social media marketing strategy is an absolute must. Start by looking at any compliance and trademark red tape, as well as how a campaign will integrate with and complement your brand. Then ask yourself: What other credible, influential voices can be added to elicit shared value?

Managing Engagement

There’s little doubt that trolls and disgruntled users are commonplace on social media these days, often trying to ruin the spirit of good conversation. And in today’s world of social media, hashtags are conversations. So, when it comes to branding your marketing message with a hashtag conversation starter, marketers need to prepare for the fact that they don’t necessarily own the content or the conversation.

For U.S. Bank, they knew the risks of starting the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation. But they also believed the campaign easily lent itself to passively putting trolls in their place. As you can see from the thread below, U.S. Bank made it a point to go full-out with the campaign theme when confronted with negativity.

US Bank's Repsonse to Nice Off Troll

“Our entire campaign was centered on Minnesota Nice,” Jason said. “The only appropriate response to these kinds of interactions was to be as overly polite as possible.”

The Big Takeaway

When it comes to anticipating trolls or negative responses, consider the worst-case scenario for your hashtag-branded campaign and build it into your overall strategy. As our own Joshua Nite recently wrote on the topic of proper hashtag usage, when creating your own hashtag, ask yourself:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

Keeping the Momentum Going

Once the tweeting began on launch day, Jason said his team was using Spredfast as a helpful tool to monitor, track, and respond in real-time. But once it became clear that the conversation was on the right track—barring input from trolls—the team decided to leverage Twitter Moments to turn the conversation into a storytelling space.

“This was already in the original plan because we wanted to continue to tell the story beyond the initial conversation,” Jason told us. “But we were waiting for the momentum to take over before creating the Moment.”

As for results, between Feb. 1 and Feb. 6, the Twitter Moment saw nearly 35,000 total opens, 31,247 unique opens, 448 likes, 155 shares, and a 8.48% completion rate.

The Big Takeaway

Whether it be a campaign or every-day usage, make sure you understand the full capabilities of any social media platform you’re engaging on. This will not only help you think more strategically about your messaging and interactions, but also help you provide more value for your audience. This is especially important in the age of decline (or extinction) for organic visibility on social platforms.

In addition, social media listening and management tools are often an investment that pays off—especially during campaigns. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has said: “Tools make reaching social media marketing goals possible.”

Shine the Social Media Spotlight on Your Brand

For brands and marketers of all industries, social media hashtag campaigns like this serves as a great example of running a smart, strategic, and integrated campaign.

By thinking strategically from start to finish—and inviting like-minded, influential brand voices to the table—U.S. Bank was able to not only capitalize on one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but also garner meaningful and organic interactions, engage in some friendly competition with other local brands being gracious Super Bowl hosts, and spotlight and activate their brand identity.

Want some more inspiration from brands on Twitter? Take a peek at both B2B and B2C brands mastering the art of social customer care on Twitter.

The post Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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US Bank NiceOff

US Bank NiceOff Roughly 120,000 visitors from 130 countries descended on the Twin Cities last week to take part in Super Bowl LII festivities hosted in downtown Minneapolis. To welcome visitors to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank—which just so happens to have its name on the stadium that hosted the big game—wanted to give visitors a taste of “what Minnesota is all about.” For those of you who haven’t heard, Minnesota—where TopRank Marketing is proudly based—isn’t just known for its frigid winters and as the birthplace and residence of the late Prince Rogers Nelson. It’s also known for its “northern hospitality”—or as it’s affectionately called—Minnesota Nice. With Minnesota Nice as their inspiration—and some great strategic thinking—U.S. Bank launched the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation and friendly competition on Twitter, inviting its followers and other local brands to try to “out-nice” each other by sharing acts of kindness that are Minnesota Nice signatures. The result? A social media marketing campaign that was thoughtful, engaging, subtly brand-centric, and influencer-activated.

Starting the Conversation

While the conversation started with the single tweet below, the campaign was in the works for weeks. US Bank Minnesota Nice Off As it so happens, TopRank Marketing alumni and current U.S. Bank Social Media Campaign Manager, Jason Schober, was part of the action. And he was gracious enough to give us an inside look. “We really wanted to evoke some engagement and brand activation within the community of people that would be participating in the activities leading up to and at the big game,” Schober told us. Eventually, the Minnesota Nice-themed campaign strategy emerged as a winning idea. To get started, the team team laid out a strategy that would ensure FCC compliance by not mentioning financial products or services in communications, respect Super Bowl guidelines since U.S. Bank was not a direct sponsor, and make sure the campaign made sense for their brand identity and voice. The campaign was in great shape, but U.S. Bank didn’t want to go at it alone. So, roughly a week before launch, they began to form partnerships with other local, well-known brands—including Target, Land O’ Lakes, Sun Country and 3M—to be part of the conversation. However, none of the partnering brands knew what others would be posting until it unfolded on launch day (Feb. 1), which kept the conversation real and spontaneous. Here’s a shot of the beginning of the conversation. Target and US Bank Nice Off For the work we do at TopRank Marketing, this move is directly tied to the power of influence in marketing. By partnering with influential brands, U.S. Bank was not only able to add credible voices to the conversation, but also extend their reach to these brands’ respective audiences. In addition, once the ball got rolling, other brands and individuals were given an organic opportunity to get in on the fun. Of course, many of the interactions cleverly intertwined a brand’s own marketing message. Here’s one of our favorites: 3M Minnesota Nice Off Tweet Top the Tater Minnesota Nice Off Tweet When it came to selecting the right hashtag to define the conversation, their approach was two-pronged, according to Jason. “The original idea was #MinnesotaNiceOff,” he explained. “But for both tracking and engagement purposes, we decided to leverage two hashtags: #MnNice and #NiceOff. Reason being, we knew #MnNice was already being used and could open our conversation up to a broader audience, and #NiceOff would be something we could own and brand the conversation with.”

The Big Takeaway

A thoughtful, integrated social media marketing strategy is an absolute must. Start by looking at any compliance and trademark red tape, as well as how a campaign will integrate with and complement your brand. Then ask yourself: What other credible, influential voices can be added to elicit shared value?

Managing Engagement

There’s little doubt that trolls and disgruntled users are commonplace on social media these days, often trying to ruin the spirit of good conversation. And in today’s world of social media, hashtags are conversations. So, when it comes to branding your marketing message with a hashtag conversation starter, marketers need to prepare for the fact that they don’t necessarily own the content or the conversation. For U.S. Bank, they knew the risks of starting the #MnNice #NiceOff conversation. But they also believed the campaign easily lent itself to passively putting trolls in their place. As you can see from the thread below, U.S. Bank made it a point to go full-out with the campaign theme when confronted with negativity. US Bank's Repsonse to Nice Off Troll “Our entire campaign was centered on Minnesota Nice,” Jason said. “The only appropriate response to these kinds of interactions was to be as overly polite as possible.”

The Big Takeaway

When it comes to anticipating trolls or negative responses, consider the worst-case scenario for your hashtag-branded campaign and build it into your overall strategy. As our own Joshua Nite recently wrote on the topic of proper hashtag usage, when creating your own hashtag, ask yourself:
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

Keeping the Momentum Going

Once the tweeting began on launch day, Jason said his team was using Spredfast as a helpful tool to monitor, track, and respond in real-time. But once it became clear that the conversation was on the right track—barring input from trolls—the team decided to leverage Twitter Moments to turn the conversation into a storytelling space. “This was already in the original plan because we wanted to continue to tell the story beyond the initial conversation,” Jason told us. “But we were waiting for the momentum to take over before creating the Moment.” As for results, between Feb. 1 and Feb. 6, the Twitter Moment saw nearly 35,000 total opens, 31,247 unique opens, 448 likes, 155 shares, and a 8.48% completion rate.

The Big Takeaway

Whether it be a campaign or every-day usage, make sure you understand the full capabilities of any social media platform you’re engaging on. This will not only help you think more strategically about your messaging and interactions, but also help you provide more value for your audience. This is especially important in the age of decline (or extinction) for organic visibility on social platforms. In addition, social media listening and management tools are often an investment that pays off—especially during campaigns. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden has said: “Tools make reaching social media marketing goals possible.”

Shine the Social Media Spotlight on Your Brand

For brands and marketers of all industries, social media hashtag campaigns like this serves as a great example of running a smart, strategic, and integrated campaign. By thinking strategically from start to finish—and inviting like-minded, influential brand voices to the table—U.S. Bank was able to not only capitalize on one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but also garner meaningful and organic interactions, engage in some friendly competition with other local brands being gracious Super Bowl hosts, and spotlight and activate their brand identity. Want some more inspiration from brands on Twitter? Take a peek at both B2B and B2C brands mastering the art of social customer care on Twitter.

The post Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/what-hashtags-are-for/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/what-hashtags-are-for/#comments Wed, 31 Jan 2018 11:30:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23736 What Are Hashtags Really For?

What Are Hashtags Really For?

In late 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. Frozen pizza slinger DiGiorno, known for being snarky and clever on social media, wanted to join the fun:

DiGiorno Hashtag Social Media Marketing Fail

There was just one problem: #WhyIStayed started in response to a video of domestic abuse. Women used the hashtag to tell their own story of abuse and talk about the societal pressures that led them to stay with their abusers.

At best, DiGiorno looked clueless. At worst, it looked like they were making light of a very serious issue. All they wanted was a little brand visibility...and they got it, but not in the way they were hoping.

Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook, to a much lesser extent). As such, they should be part of our social media marketing on each platform. But as DiGiorno and many other brands have shown, it’s not enough to look at the trending tags and hop on board. Marketers need to understand what hashtags are for and how our audience is using them before we jump in.

Here are the #fundamentals you need to avoid invisibility or embarrassment with hashtags.

#History

Hashtags started as a feature on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels back in 1988, when the internet still ran on steam turbine power. The "#" in front of channel meant that it was available for users across the internet, not just on a local area network.

Twenty years later, IRC fans who were early Twitter adopters proposed using the symbol to help classify common topics or groups. Twitter itself didn’t officially recognize hashtags for two more years. In 2009, the site started automatically hyperlinking hashtags to search results.

Facebook added hashtags in 2013, but they don’t see as much use on the platform. By contrast, Facebook-owned Instagram practically runs on hashtags. It’s not unusual to see a post with a four-word captioned followed by a paragraph of tags: #NoFilter #WokeUpLikeThis #BeachLife #SanDiego #ChihuahuaLove. Clicking any of the tags leads to a custom feed of images with the same tag, much like Twitter’s search functionality works.

#WhatHashtagsAreNot

Hashtags began as a way to categorize information for future searchers, much like the category or topic tags on a blog. In that case, using the right hashtags is more like SEO than anything else; it’s all about making sure your message comes up for the right query.

But hashtags aren’t really for search anymore. Hardly anyone is going to the search box on Twitter or Instagram and putting in a keyword to pull up a specific hashtag.

Hashtags are not really for marketers to boost their brand or their content, either. We can strategically use hashtags for that purpose, but we must remember that’s an off-label use. It’s important to tread lightly on using hashtags promotionally — as DiGiorno and many others can attest.

If it’s not about search or self-promotion, how should marketers think about hashtags? Or, better question, how does your audience think about hashtags?

Odds are, though, your audience doesn’t actively think about why they use or interact with a specific tag. There’s an innate understanding that makes some tags look “right” or “natural,” while others feel “forced” or “commercial.”

The best way I can think of to express that innate understanding is:

#HashtagsAreAConversation

Social media feeds move fast. Hashtags are a way for users to block out space to have a conversation. “We’re telling this type of story in here.” “We’re sharing this type of picture in here.” Using a specific existing hashtag should come with the knowledge that you’re entering someone else’s conversation space.

The social media manager at DiGiorno likely wouldn’t go up to a group of people talking about a sad and serious topic in hushed tones and shout, “PIZZA!” But that’s exactly what they did on Twitter.

So before you jump into a conversation, make sure that:

  • You understand what’s being discussed
  • Your brand has (and should have) a position on the topic
  • You have something relevant to contribute

When you’re making your own hashtags, keep in mind that you’re starting a conversation. You can’t control who contributes to that conversation and what they might add to it.

For example, in 2012 McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories in a tweet, seemingly inviting users to share their own special memories of the chain. Instead, they got stories about food poisoning, diabetes, heart attacks, and animal cruelty.

It turns out McDonald’s had intended to use the tag to promote stories from employees and others affiliated with the brand. But they accidentally started a much wider conversation. With a little forethought, the mess could have been avoided.

So, when creating your own hashtag, keep in mind:

  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

#GeneralHashtagTips

Good hashtaggery starts with understanding that hashtags are a conversation. From there, the optimum tactics for using hashtags vary from platform to platform. The good folks at Buffer have an in-depth guide that touches on each of the major social media sites.

Here are some simple tips that I recommend to supplement Buffer’s advice:

  • Use hashtags sparingly on Twitter; no more than 2 per post, preferably just one
  • Don’t use tags on paid tweets. They’re proven to dilute your CTA
  • Go nuts on Instagram; 11 hashtags is the optimal number
  • Don’t bother tagging on Facebook. Research shows your post will do better without them
  • Use CamelCase to keep longer tags legible (Remember the “susanalbumparty” debacle?)

#HashWithCare

Hashtags started as a tagging tool for search. Today, they’re used to create a space for conversations, group people with similar interests, and fill Instagram feeds with puppies. To be most successful with your hashtags, respect conversations that exist already, and be cautious about the conversations you start.

Need to #LevelUp your social media marketing? TopRank Marketing can help.

The post What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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What Are Hashtags Really For?

What Are Hashtags Really For? In late 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed was trending on Twitter. Frozen pizza slinger DiGiorno, known for being snarky and clever on social media, wanted to join the fun: DiGiorno Hashtag Social Media Marketing Fail There was just one problem: #WhyIStayed started in response to a video of domestic abuse. Women used the hashtag to tell their own story of abuse and talk about the societal pressures that led them to stay with their abusers. At best, DiGiorno looked clueless. At worst, it looked like they were making light of a very serious issue. All they wanted was a little brand visibility...and they got it, but not in the way they were hoping. Hashtags are an integral part of Twitter and Instagram (and Facebook, to a much lesser extent). As such, they should be part of our social media marketing on each platform. But as DiGiorno and many other brands have shown, it’s not enough to look at the trending tags and hop on board. Marketers need to understand what hashtags are for and how our audience is using them before we jump in. Here are the #fundamentals you need to avoid invisibility or embarrassment with hashtags.

#History

Hashtags started as a feature on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) channels back in 1988, when the internet still ran on steam turbine power. The "#" in front of channel meant that it was available for users across the internet, not just on a local area network. Twenty years later, IRC fans who were early Twitter adopters proposed using the symbol to help classify common topics or groups. Twitter itself didn’t officially recognize hashtags for two more years. In 2009, the site started automatically hyperlinking hashtags to search results. Facebook added hashtags in 2013, but they don’t see as much use on the platform. By contrast, Facebook-owned Instagram practically runs on hashtags. It’s not unusual to see a post with a four-word captioned followed by a paragraph of tags: #NoFilter #WokeUpLikeThis #BeachLife #SanDiego #ChihuahuaLove. Clicking any of the tags leads to a custom feed of images with the same tag, much like Twitter’s search functionality works.

#WhatHashtagsAreNot

Hashtags began as a way to categorize information for future searchers, much like the category or topic tags on a blog. In that case, using the right hashtags is more like SEO than anything else; it’s all about making sure your message comes up for the right query. But hashtags aren’t really for search anymore. Hardly anyone is going to the search box on Twitter or Instagram and putting in a keyword to pull up a specific hashtag. Hashtags are not really for marketers to boost their brand or their content, either. We can strategically use hashtags for that purpose, but we must remember that’s an off-label use. It’s important to tread lightly on using hashtags promotionally — as DiGiorno and many others can attest. If it’s not about search or self-promotion, how should marketers think about hashtags? Or, better question, how does your audience think about hashtags? Odds are, though, your audience doesn’t actively think about why they use or interact with a specific tag. There’s an innate understanding that makes some tags look “right” or “natural,” while others feel “forced” or “commercial.” The best way I can think of to express that innate understanding is:

#HashtagsAreAConversation

Social media feeds move fast. Hashtags are a way for users to block out space to have a conversation. “We’re telling this type of story in here.” “We’re sharing this type of picture in here.” Using a specific existing hashtag should come with the knowledge that you’re entering someone else’s conversation space. The social media manager at DiGiorno likely wouldn’t go up to a group of people talking about a sad and serious topic in hushed tones and shout, “PIZZA!” But that’s exactly what they did on Twitter. So before you jump into a conversation, make sure that:
  • You understand what’s being discussed
  • Your brand has (and should have) a position on the topic
  • You have something relevant to contribute
When you’re making your own hashtags, keep in mind that you’re starting a conversation. You can’t control who contributes to that conversation and what they might add to it. For example, in 2012 McDonald’s used the hashtag #McDStories in a tweet, seemingly inviting users to share their own special memories of the chain. Instead, they got stories about food poisoning, diabetes, heart attacks, and animal cruelty. It turns out McDonald’s had intended to use the tag to promote stories from employees and others affiliated with the brand. But they accidentally started a much wider conversation. With a little forethought, the mess could have been avoided. So, when creating your own hashtag, keep in mind:
  • Who are you talking to?
  • What are you trying to say?
  • How else could your hashtag be interpreted?
  • What other conversations might it start?

#GeneralHashtagTips

Good hashtaggery starts with understanding that hashtags are a conversation. From there, the optimum tactics for using hashtags vary from platform to platform. The good folks at Buffer have an in-depth guide that touches on each of the major social media sites. Here are some simple tips that I recommend to supplement Buffer’s advice:
  • Use hashtags sparingly on Twitter; no more than 2 per post, preferably just one
  • Don’t use tags on paid tweets. They’re proven to dilute your CTA
  • Go nuts on Instagram; 11 hashtags is the optimal number
  • Don’t bother tagging on Facebook. Research shows your post will do better without them
  • Use CamelCase to keep longer tags legible (Remember the “susanalbumparty” debacle?)

#HashWithCare

Hashtags started as a tagging tool for search. Today, they’re used to create a space for conversations, group people with similar interests, and fill Instagram feeds with puppies. To be most successful with your hashtags, respect conversations that exist already, and be cautious about the conversations you start. Need to #LevelUp your social media marketing? TopRank Marketing can help.

The post What Are Hashtags Really For? #Confused #Blessed #NoFilter appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>
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Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/facebook-update-influencer-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/facebook-update-influencer-marketing/#comments Mon, 29 Jan 2018 11:30:22 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23728 Earlier this month, marketers were shocked to learn that Facebook would be making more major changes to its News Feed, effectively bringing brand and publisher organic reach to zero by prioritizing high engagement content from family, friends and groups. In a formal statement posted on his own Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said: “We built Facebook [...]

The post Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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Facebook Zero Influencers

Earlier this month, marketers were shocked to learn that Facebook would be making more major changes to its News Feed, effectively bringing brand and publisher organic reach to zero by prioritizing high engagement content from family, friends and groups.

In a formal statement posted on his own Facebook page, Mark Zuckerberg said:

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”

“But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. … Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook.”

While the announcement seemed to be the final nail in the organic News Feed coffin, the death of organic reach on Facebook has been a long time coming. Back in April 2015, Facebook announced it was updating News Feeds to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses and community organizations. Then in late June 2016, Facebook said it would be making further refinements to ensure users don’t miss updates from their friends and families.

Now, after an intense year of political and social upheaval — not to mention the emergence of the fake news engine and the Russian advertising scandal — it’s no surprise that Facebook is re-examining things yet again.

But What Does It All Mean for Marketers?

Naturally, disappointed marketers all over the world are wondering how this change will truly impact their social marketing efforts. From our perspective, the change:

  • Ends the organic reach of the News Feed and increases the importance of adding pay-to-play to your marketing mix — something that will likely require a bigger budget.
  • Bolsters the importance of channel diversification.
  • Makes it more important than ever for you to zero in on who your audience is and what motivates them, so you can share content and create an environment that will pique interest and engagement.
  • Means Instagram will more than likely follow suit in the near future.

The Influencer Implication

Since Zuckerberg’s announcement, there’s been one implication in particular that’s captivated our attention. The way we see it, the value of influencer engagement on Facebook will increase even more.

Our CEO, Lee Odden, has long been an evangelist for working with influencers, believing that influencers can help brands bypass several obstacles. AdBlocking, for example, is in use on over 600 million devices, costing business over $22 billion in ad revenue, according to PageFair. Working with credible influencers who are trusted amongst an audience allows brands to bypass the adblocking obstacle and better connect with buyers.

Lee has also talked about other challenges such as distrust of brand advertising. In fact, 69% of consumers don’t trust ads, according to research by Ipsos Connect. And yet another obstacle is information overload. Americans are confronted with an average of 63GB of media on a daily basis (USC/ICTM).

All of these obstacles, according to Lee, are addressed by working with industry influencers. The virtual elimination of organic News Feed visibility for brands and publishers on Facebook is no different and marketers would be smart to think about how influencer engagement can keep organic Facebook visibility alive.

So, to sum it all up: Now that the organic News Feed is effectively dead, new life is being given to influencer marketing opportunities. Here are a few key considerations:

#1 – If you’re not in the influencer marketing game yet, you can no longer afford to wait.

Last year, we saw influencer marketing explode — becoming one of the most talked about topics among marketers and arguably our most-requested digital marketing services among both B2B and B2C clients. In addition, our own research shows that 57% of marketers say influencer marketing will be integrated in all marketing activities in the next three years.

This quote from Lee sums it up well:

“For any kind of content a business creates and publishes to the world, there is an opportunity for collaboration with credible voices that have active networks interested in what those voices have to say. In many cases, [audiences are] far more interested [in an influencer’s insights] than in what the brand has to say.”

With Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers — which can have an impact across all social platforms.


With #Facebook reducing branded content and elevating content from individuals, there’s no better time to invest in influencers. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


#2 – Influencers now hold more power than ever to more strategically align themselves with brands of their choice.

Influencer marketing was already poised to be big in 2018, but this change to Facebook’s platform will absolutely spur more brands and businesses to dip their toe into the water. As a result, influencers will see an uptick in requests, giving them more power to be very choosy about which brands they lend their time, insights and audience to.


Influencers have more power to be very choosy about the brand they lend their time, insights and audience to. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


#3 – Influencer nurturing will be more important than ever.

As illustrated by the previous two points, the Facebook change will lead to an increased adoption of influencer marketing, giving influencers more options. So it’s no surprise that it’ll be time to double-down on your commitment to influencer nurturing.

Now, we’ve always said that when it comes to building relationships and rapport with influencers, it’s critical that you put the time and effort into nurturing — rather than simply reaching out when you have a need. There has to be shared value.

But I think most marketers would admit that they have significant room for improvement in this area — and there’s no time like the present to recommit yourself.


With #Facebook’s recent algorithm change, it’s time to double-down on your commitment to nurturing your influencers. #influencermarketing
Click To Tweet


Capitalize on the Opportunity

Let’s face it. This “major change” to Facebook’s platform isn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last. As a result, now is the time to fully capitalize on the opportunity by better working with industry influencers. Now is the time to refocus on connecting with your audience — and influencers can help you do just that by adding authenticity, credibility, unique insights and new eyeballs to your content.

What else is in store for influencer marketing in 2018? Check out these rising influencer marketing trends that you need to pay attention to.

What do you think about the latest Facebook News Feed algorithm change? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2018. | Death of Facebook Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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7 Examples of Brands Mastering Twitter for Social Customer Care http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/social-customer-care-twitter/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2018/01/social-customer-care-twitter/#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2018 12:10:36 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23615 These days, there’s little doubt that social media is plays a pivotal role in a brand’s marketing strategy. After all, with roughly 2 billion internet users on social networks and counting, there’s massive reach and resonance potential. But couple widespread adoption with shifting consumer preferences and expectations—and the smell of major change is in the [...]

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Twitter Customer Care

These days, there’s little doubt that social media is plays a pivotal role in a brand’s marketing strategy. After all, with roughly 2 billion internet users on social networks and counting, there’s massive reach and resonance potential.

But couple widespread adoption with shifting consumer preferences and expectations—and the smell of major change is in the air. Social media is no longer just a marketing tool and a space to encourage positive engagement with your audience, it’s a customer service opportunity that deserves every marketer’s attention and action.

As Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, told me in his Behind the Curtain interview a few months back: marketers need to stop thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem:

“When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.”

Twitter presents one of the most unique and challenging social care opportunities. It’s real-time, fast-paced environment seems to be a go-to place for consumers to air grievances, call out for help or sing a brand’s praises—something Twitter itself has recognized.

“Fifty years ago, the 1-800 number revolutionized customer service. Customers suddenly had a free, live connection to companies from the comfort of their homes,” Twitter says in its Customer Service on Twitter Playbook. “We are at a similar inflection point for how brands deliver customer service: today, people are contacting brands via Twitter with the expectation of a helpful and human response; all on stage for the world to see.”

With that said, over the past few months, several B2B and B2C brands with social customer care programs have caught my eye on Twitter. Below I share some those brands and respective examples.

#1 – Amazon

From children’s books to groceries for tonight’s dinner menu, there’s no question that Amazon is revolutionizing the way we shop for nearly everything. So, it may not surprise you that they’ve stepped up to meet consumer demand for fast and personalized customer service on social media. In fact, like many brands are now doing, Amazon has a dedicated support account on Twitter: @AmazonHelp.

But what’s really impressive is that the Twitter helpline is equipped to offer support in multiple languages including English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian. In addition, customer service agents include their initials on all communications, which adds a human element. Finally, it appears that Amazon helpers are also on the lookout for opportunities to engage with happy customers who haven’t even engaged them directly.

This example is sort of a roll up of these traits. With a customer expressing his happiness for being able to watch a series on Amazon Prime, Amazon responds with a question to continue the engagement and a GIF to make a splash—and all in Spanish, with the conversation carrying on for a few tweets.

Amazon Social Care Example

To me, all this signals their deep commitment to meeting their customer’s needs and building relationships. And from a marketing perspective, this certainly strengthens the value add of their brand and reinforces loyalty.

#2 – UPS

Like every courier service, UPS has an important job to do: get every package delivered to the right location, at the right time, and without any damage to the package contents. However, on a daily basis, UPS is tasked with delivering roughly 19.1 million packages and documents around the globe—so mistakes most certainly happen for one reason or another.

But for anyone who’s ever been waiting on a special package, mistakes really rile us up and we don’t really care what the circumstances are. After all, couriers are in the business of delivering—so if things go wrong, we expect a quick fix. To provide that fast service and meet their customers where they’re comfortable, UPS has established a customer service Twitter account: @UPSHelp.

What stood out to me, is that UPS utilizes Twitter’s private messaging feature. To resolve any issue, UPS needs the tracking numbers for the packages involved, which is private customer information. So, more often than not, you’ll notice a “Send a private message” option at the end of a tweet. This makes it easy for customers to take the next step to get their gripe resolved and protect their information.

UPS Social Care Example

#3 – Intel

While any organization engaging in social care is bound to field customer complaints, sometimes providing a great social care is answering simple questions and real-time troubleshooting.

Intel is a great example of a brand delivering precise recommendations and resources to help their customers troubleshoot a range of issues. In addition, like UPS, Intel also leverages the “Send a private message” feature when appropriate to take a public conversation private. In the example below, Intel gives this customer everything he needs to solve his issue.

Intel Social Care Example

#4 – Constant Contact

Constant Contact has built its business on helping their customers communicate effectively with their respective audiences. So, it’s only right that they’d make easy and fast communication a priority by engaging in social care.

Like others on our list, Constant Contact has a dedicated customer service account on Twitter: @CTCTHelp. What I found interesting here is the proactive communication that’s happening. Customer service reps aren’t just responding to inquiries and complaints, but also sharing important information and reminders—from holiday best wishes and grammar tips to links to the latest product updates and bug fixes.

Constant Contact Social Care Example

#5 – Starbucks

After nearly 50 years in business and with thousands of stores worldwide, there’s no question that Starbucks has cultivated a massive and loyal following of coffee fanatics around the globe. But while the deep brand affinity Starbucks has built is a testament to their product and service, like any business, fans can be just as easily dismayed as overjoyed.

So—from a customer lamenting the end of a seasonal drink’s annual run and bad service experiences to a happy customer indulging in her first Peppermint Mocha of 2018—Starbucks embraces all feedback and makes it a point to respond to (apparently) every engagement with the brand on Twitter. To really drive it home, Starbucks appears to be continually monitoring related hashtags and even non-tagged mentions of the brand, to level up its “we’re here for you” persona in real life and on Twitter.

Starbucks Social Care Example

#6 – Buffer

The award for calming, empathetic and personalized social care goes to Buffer. Whether someone is throwing out an idea for improving the platform or experiencing a performance issue, Buffer helpers make a serious effort to let folks know they understand their frustration, are there to help and can work to find a solution. Also, whoever is responding to a request or complaint always signs their full name within the Tweet, adding an extra human touch and level of transparency.

Below is a great example. The user is asking for some scheduling information guidance, and Buffer’s Octavio delivers with a detailed, personalized and upbeat response.

Buffer Social Care Example

#7 – LinkedIn (client)

There may be no better endorsement of the importance and benefit of embracing customer service on Twitter than other social networks taking part in it all. Such is the case with LinkedIn. Through its dedicated @LinkedInHelp account, the LinkedIn Customer Service team is standing at the ready to offer guidance and help troubleshoot issues.

As with others mentioned in this post, LinkedIn helpers provide personalized responses to users, signing each message with initials or a full name. While the example below is a simple and easily remedied issue, the service rep attached a screenshot to make it easy for the user to find the menu item they’re looking for, but also added additional troubleshooting instructions just in case.

LinkedIn Social Care Example

Great Social Care = Better Brand Experiences

While most social customer care programs are likely administered by a brand’s customer service team, the marketing department can and should be a dedicated partner. At the end of the day, more and more people are using Twitter and other social media sites to share their brand experiences—and those experiences not only have the potential to impact a brand’s identity, but they’re also gold mines for marketing insights.

The bottom line? If your brand isn’t on the path to providing social customer care, now is the time to consider making moves. As social media becomes increasingly embedded in our daily lives and culture, brands have the opportunity to use social care as a marketing advantage and relationship building tool.

What brands have caught your eye on Twitter for their social care efforts? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Year In Review: 6 Platform Changes That Shook Up Social Media Marketing in 2017 http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/social-media-marketing-2017/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/social-media-marketing-2017/#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:30:53 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23462 With 2018 on the horizon, we’re all in a state of reflection, looking back on all the good, the bad and the ugly 2017 brought us. When it comes to social media, it’s hard not to think about the latter two. With all the political turmoil and uptick in trolling, even Facebook recently admitted that [...]

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With 2018 on the horizon, we’re all in a state of reflection, looking back on all the good, the bad and the ugly 2017 brought us. When it comes to social media, it’s hard not to think about the latter two. With all the political turmoil and uptick in trolling, even Facebook recently admitted that its digging deep to turn the tide and bring well-being principles into the social experience.

But while there’s little doubt that 2017 surfaced new concerns and challenges in the social media space, there were some positive developments for everyday users and marketers alike. In this piece, we highlight some of those interesting and encouraging changes that occurred across platforms.

While this is certainly not a complete list, we think these are some changes that can be celebrated by marketers—as well as leveraged in 2018 and beyond.

#1 – Facebook continues its push to help users and brands tell Stories.

While Snapchat came on the scene in 2013, the platform began gaining major ground in 2016 as a formidable contender within the social media space, drawing younger audiences and causing Facebook to sit up, take notice and form an action plan.

While Snapchat’s main interface is totally unique, the one thing that could be cloned is its Stories feature—something that Facebook got to work on by first rolling out a similar feature on Instagram in the summer of 2016 and then in its own Messenger app shortly thereafter.

Facebook Stories Example

(Credit: Facebook)

But 2017 brought Facebook Stories to a new level. In early October, it was confirmed that Facebook was rolling out an option to syndicate Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories. Not long after, TechCrunch learned that Facebook Stories would soon be opened up to Pages, which would let brands, news publishers, athletes and nonprofits get in on all the fun. That full rollout to Pages appears to still be in the works, but its something marketers should be on the lookout for as they enter the new year.

#2 – LinkedIn implements lead gen forms on ads.

For B2B brands, there’s little doubt that LinkedIn can be an especially effective digital advertising platform with the right message, budget and targeting in place. And LinkedIn sweetened the pot earlier this year by adding a Lead Generation Forms option to its ad platform, allowing users to opt into your offer with just one click.

LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms Example

As TopRank Marketing’s own Steve Slater, Digital Advertising Manager, said in a post on the subject:

“Lead generation form ads encourage the impulse buy. With one click, you can gain access to prospect information in a way that required little time or effort on their end. The beauty of this approach for advertisers is that you can show your ads to the right audience and receive one click conversions.”

Of course, a few months after releasing the offering into the wild, LinkedIn has made some enhancement to the offering, including the ability to add custom questions to the forms, according to AdWeek. In addition, AdWeek said marketers have reported that using the lead gen forms have helped lower their average cost per lead by more than 20%—something that’s certainly worthy of your consideration as we head into 2018.

Read: Master LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Forms in 10 Easy Steps

#3 – Instagram begins its rollout of the “paid partnership with” tag.

Influencer marketing is exploding right now, with brands of all sizes have forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers—and using social platforms, especially Instagram, to spread their message.

In the spirit of enhanced transparency—and the added benefit of bringing even more credibility to your influencer marketing initiatives—Instagram rolled out a “paid partnership with” tag in June 2017 for posts and stories. Then, after a couple months of testing and data gathering, Instagram announced it would expand the tool.

“We have been closely working with a select group of creators and businesses throughout the Instagram community to test our new ‘Paid partnership with’ tag,” Instagram said in an update on Aug. 29. “And now, after months of gathering feedback from this test release, we’re excited to announce that access to this tool will be expanded to more of our partners across Instagram—with the global rollout being gradually released over the next few months.”

Read: What Brands Need to Know About Instagram’s New ‘Paid Partnership’ Feature

#4 – LinkedIn launches its own video capabilities.

As TopRank Marketing’s own Josh Nite so eloquently said:

“Video content is eating the internet. It started with video-specific platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Then Twitter and Facebook added support for live and pre-recorded video. Now these insatiable moving pictures are becoming serious business: LinkedIn now supports native video.”

Yes. When LinkedIn rolled out native video capabilities this year, B2B marketers everywhere rejoiced at the prospect of being able to serve up live, raw video to a professional audience. While the new offering is still in its infancy, you can bet that LinkedIn will make investments in evolving the offering to make it even easier to use in the future.

#5 – Twitter doubles its character count.

Perhaps one of the biggest social media news items of 2017 was Twitter’s decision to expand its character limit from 140 to 280. The company had been toying with the idea of super sizing its limit for a while—with rumors circulating that the limit could go as high as 10,000 characters—but it began with removing photos and links from the count in mid-2016.

The official switch to a 280-character limit came in early November, giving users (and brands and marketers) more space to express themselves—while still staying as true as possible to its commitment to brevity.

Twitter Character Count

The good news for marketers? While it’s still early, some preliminary research indicates that tweets longer than 140 characters get more engagement. SocialFlow, a social media analytics company, reported that their latest data showed that people are liking and retweeting longer tweets almost two-times more than shorter ones.

However, remember, value and resonance are what hook your audience—not your character count. So, before your rewrite all of your tweeting best practices, do your due diligence through some testing, and data collection and analysis to determine what your audience really responds to.

Read: Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience?

#6 – Facebook refreshes poll feature to include GIFs.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the invention and rising use of GIFs has made the internet so much better. And, well, Facebook just took it all to the next level by refreshing its “old” polling feature to support GIFs.

The new feature made its debut in early November and it’s pretty simple. At the top of your News Feed, click on the “What’s on your mind” section and select the ellipsis to reveal all your options, including “Poll.” For pages, select the “Event, Products, Job+” option at the top of your page. Then ask your question in the top and then select your two options via an image upload or GIF search, and hit publish.

Facebook Polls with GIFs Example

From what we can tell, this new feature isn’t widely used yet, but could pack big engagement potential. After all, it allows you to combine multiple social media best practices into one post: visual imagery, a compelling and engaging question, and a spark of humor and personality.

What’s On the Horizon for 2018?

As the old adage goes, the only constant is change—and we can certainly expect that to hold true for the social media landscape in 2018 and beyond. Of course, some of the change we can expect is already in the works—especially for Instagram.

Rumor has it that Instagram is in the midst of testing several new features on its mobile app—including a “regram” button. A couple weeks ago, The Next Web broke the news that Instagram was “secretly” testing the new feature.

As any Instagram user knows, at this point the only way to share posts from other users’ accounts is through third-party tools, or to download and re-upload to their account. If this does come to fruition, this could mean big things for brands that want to foster engagement and connect with influencers.

Other features that are reportedly being tested include: GIF search (via Giphy) to add animated GIFS to Stories, the ability to follow specific hashtags (which would be a real win for marketers), and the ability to “archive” stories.

Of course, you can bet that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even YouTube to continuously looks for ways to engage users and support advertisers. In early 2018, TopRank Marketing will release our annual Social Media Marketing Predictions, featuring insights from industry experts and thought leaders—so stay tuned for that!

What change to a social media platform got you excited, annoyed or scared in 2017? Tell us in the comments section below.


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5 Purpose-Driven Companies Making an Inspiring Splash on Social Media http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/purpose-driven-social-media/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/purpose-driven-social-media/#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:30:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23405 As our world becomes increasingly connected through the internet, social media and mobile technologies, consumer awareness and engagement around local and global social, economic, political and environmental challenges are soaring to new heights. As a result, people desperately want to invest their time and money where their hearts are by supporting and working for companies [...]

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As our world becomes increasingly connected through the internet, social media and mobile technologies, consumer awareness and engagement around local and global social, economic, political and environmental challenges are soaring to new heights.

As a result, people desperately want to invest their time and money where their hearts are by supporting and working for companies that are making a positive and meaningful impact. And many companies are answering the call by throwing out conventional business models to tackle these challenges—while also bolstering and growing their bottom line. They’re finding and living their purpose.

For these companies, success isn’t grounded in simply offering “the best” product or service. Instead, it’s the purpose behind the creation and execution of those best-in-class products and services that drives success for all involved.

Of course, social media marketing is playing a major role in spurring awareness, engagement and action around what purposeful companies are all about. From breathtaking, tear-inducing photos to compelling video narratives, below I highlight a handful of these companies that have captivated my heart with their purpose and marketing mind with their social media work. And my hope is that you’ll feel the same.

#1 – Love Your Melon

If you’re regular reader of my example-heavy social media blogs, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded in hopes of making the lives of kids battling cancer in America a little better by providing them with a special hat. With each item purchased by the public, 50% of the profits are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against pediatric cancer.

I encourage you to check out the video below about their story—of course, this has been uploaded natively to social to put all the feels out there.

Love Your Melon’s social media mix includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Across their channels, all the tried-and-true marketing best practices are working in their favor. But it’s evident that their purpose is the guiding light in how they tell their story on social. Using captivating imagery you don’t only see the amazing work being done—but you feel it, too.

Purpose-Driven Brand Love Your Melon

#2 – cuddle+kind

If you aren’t familiar with cuddle+kind, allow me to introduce you to this amazing brand where every fiber of its being seems to be dedicated to making a difference.

Started by the Woodgate family, cuddle+kind produces hand-knit, heirloom-quality dolls that not only help feed children around the world, but also provide women artisans in Peru with sustainable, fair trade income.

“As parents, we believe all children should have enough food to eat and the opportunity to thrive, so when we saw a documentary on the devastating impact of childhood hunger on millions of children around the world, it inspired us to help,” cuddle+kind’s website states. “On that day, we decided to start a company whose purpose is to help improve the lives of children and to make a difference.”

For every doll sold, cuddle+kind is able to provide 10 meals to children in need. At the time this article was written, they had already donated 2,988,823 meals.

Like Love Your Melon, cuddle+kind’s amazing visual content on social media is what draws you in—like this little number below from Instagram.

Purpose-Driven Brand Cuddle and Kind

Also, here’s a look at their most recent video release on Facebook.

#3 – Krochet Kids intl.

Founded in 2007, Krochet Kids intl. (KK intl.) is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by providing job opportunities for women in need. Every product is hand-signed by the person who made it and each artisan has her own profile page on the organization’s website detailing her story—with room for shoppers to leave a thank you or words of encouragement.

In honor of its 10-year anniversary, the brand launched a video series (some of them short films) highlighting the people and the stories that have made their work what it is today, which were uploaded to YouTube and shared across some of their social channels. Here’s a little taste:

Facebook is the brand’s top-channel, boasting nearly 74,000 likes, but they’re also sharing the work of their community on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. What’s really working on Facebook are the great visuals, but they also take advantage of the “Products Shown” feature to make it easy to click and shop.

Purpose-Driven Brand Krochet Kids Intl.

#4 – MudLove

MudLove was born in a tiny garage filled with big dreams and a lot of love back in 2009.

“With nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and a plan to support clean water projects in Africa, handmade creations emerged and MudLOVE was born,” MudLove’s website says. “We are artists and makers. Doers and thinkers. Number-crunchers and donut-munchers. With ‘mud’ in our hands and love in our hearts, the chance to make a difference is our inspiration to create.”

Through its partnership with Water for Good, for every product that’s purchased, a week’s worth of clean water can be provided to someone in need.

When it comes to their social media efforts, MudLove is on all the usual suspect channels: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Their posts are a blend of humor and hope, sharing their hand-crafted pottery pieces and bringing attention to clean water issues in developing African countries.

Purpose-Driven Brand MudLove

#5 – The Giving Keys

The Giving Keys bills itself as a “pay it forward company,” hoping to not only inspire the world to do just that, but also create jobs for those transitioning out of homelessness. Based in Los Angeles, the company makes jewelry out of repurposed keys, which are personalized with your choice of an inspirational word or phrase.

“We’re not a nonprofit, we’re a social enterprise,” the company’s websites boldly states. “So instead of raising donations, we sell product to provide jobs. A good job is a long-term solution for breaking cycles of generational poverty and homelessness. That’s why we place people on career paths and hand them the keys to unlock their fullest potential.”

On social media, their posts offer words of encouragement and inspiration, and stories of the people who they’ve been able to lift up. Of course, a smattering of pretty images of their finished products can also be found. This is one of my favorite recent Instagram posts:

Purpose-Driven Brand The Giving Keys

What’s Your Purpose?

Purpose is not your company’s mission statement. Purpose is not a set of company values. Purpose is the unique and authentic underpinning of what drives the work you do and the impact you want to make. And these brands certainly embody that, and they’re bringing it to life on their social media channels.

From our perspective, all organizations have the opportunity to uncover their true purpose. In fact, TopRank Marketing recently embarked on our own purpose initiative, which is in the discovery phase as we speak.

What have we learned so far? Each and every one of us cares deeply about a myriad of issues plaguing our networks, communities and the world at large. So, we’re starting there—we care to make a difference. And that’s where you can start, too.

Want to know more about the intersection of purpose and marketing? Read our post Evolve or Die: The Role of Purpose and Authenticity in Marketing, featuring insights from expert Mackenzie (Mack) Fogelson.


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How 5 B2B Brands Are Using Snapchat and Instagram Stories http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/b2b-snapchat-instagram-stories/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/12/b2b-snapchat-instagram-stories/#comments Mon, 04 Dec 2017 11:30:16 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23340 B2B brands are usually slow to jump on the latest social media craze train, and with good reason. Their audience might not even be on those social media networks. For example, Snapchat was originally full of teenagers and controversy — not a great place to grow brand awareness or share thought leadership. But my, oh [...]

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B2B brands are usually slow to jump on the latest social media craze train, and with good reason. Their audience might not even be on those social media networks. For example, Snapchat was originally full of teenagers and controversy — not a great place to grow brand awareness or share thought leadership. But my, oh my, how far we’ve come.

Today, networks like Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, and other marketing channels are becoming new breeding grounds for B2B brands. But with frequent product updates introducing new features and advertising tools, brands are often left wondering what the best approach is.

One such feature is Stories: timed pictures or video clips that users can deck-out with text, filters, or stickers to spice-up their content. And it seems like every major app is jumping on this trend with Messenger, Facebook, and most recently YouTube creating their own version of a Stories feature. However, the jury is still out on the best ways to use them.

Well, we’re here to help you figure that out. Here are five B2B brands using Snapchat and Instagram Stories and how they’re using them to their advantage.

1. Cisco

One of the best ways to connect with an audience is through shared values. Cisco is well aware of this and utilizes their Snapchat Stories to share how their company and employees are making the world a better place. And because authentic content is seen as more genuine, Cisco actually allows their employees to run the account themselves. This way, their audience can see a true glimpse into the lives of Cisco employees and how they help others.


Image credit: Cisco

2. IBM

One of the key benefits of promoted Instagram or Snapchat Stories is that they allow you to geotarget your audience and create unique geofilters. With these features, brands can serve targeted Stories and custom filters to their audience based on their location. IBM has used this to their advantage in the past by creating special filters for their industry events. IBM can then promote the filters to event attendees and followers can see updates live from the event floor — creating an easy way for IBM to send relevant content to the right audience.


Image credit: IBM

3. Google

Brand storytelling at its finest. That’s how I would describe Google’s use of Instagram Stories. With Stories, Google shares brief vignettes with narrative captions to share inspiring stories of people using their products. Watch just a few and you’ll see how they sink their teeth into you and build up anticipation, encouraging you to complete their call to action and watch the full video. It’s a really effective and meaningful way for Google to share exactly how their solutions help solve both individual and global problems.


Image credit: Google

4. GE

GE is known for being an innovative company. But can you name exactly what they do? You might be able to name a few things, but the reality is that GE does too many things to name. Because of this, GE has been using Instagram Stories to share the unique things they do all over the world. Most notably, they took us deep into a volcano to sample active lava. Each story helps paint a picture for their audience, changing their public perception from an industrial giant to a creative innovator.


Image credit: Adweek

5. Mailchimp

Mailchimp, everyone’s go-to email service provider, uses Snapchat Stories to share scenes from fun events, creative images, and funny videos. With smart brand apparel, a hip monkey named Freddie, and really cool artwork, Mailchimp has an endless supply of creative and eye-catching content to share. And while it may seem like there’s not a unifying theme behind their Stories, it actually does a great job of showing off their brand’s eclectic personality. Through witty commentary and funky images, Mailchimp has personified their brand, building strong relationships with their followers.

 


Image credit: Recruiting Social

Up Your B2B Social Game

Don’t be hesitant to take the next step for your brand’s social media marketing. For more ideas on how your B2B brand can up your social media game, check out these social media tips and examples or our guide on Snapchat for B2B brands.

Not ready to expand your social media marketing on your own? Find out how we can help by taking a look at our social media marketing services.


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12 Industry-Specific Opportunities for Boosting Social Media Engagement http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/boosting-social-media-engagement/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/boosting-social-media-engagement/#comments Tue, 28 Nov 2017 11:30:11 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23305 In the ever-changing social media landscape, we marketers are often on the prowl for meaningful data and insights to understand what works, what doesn’t and where our opportunities may lie. As a result, we often turn to industry research and studies, which often feature benchmarks that help us better internalize our own metrics and understand [...]

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In the ever-changing social media landscape, we marketers are often on the prowl for meaningful data and insights to understand what works, what doesn’t and where our opportunities may lie. As a result, we often turn to industry research and studies, which often feature benchmarks that help us better internalize our own metrics and understand how we stack up to the competition.

While most studies offer incredibly insightful and useful information, one component may be missing: industry context.

Earlier this year, Rival IQ released its 2017 Social Media Industry Benchmark Report, featuring unique benchmark data for six different industries: Media, Higher Education, Non-profits, Food & Beverage, Fashion and Health & Beauty.

Why is context so important? As Rival IQ so eloquently said:

Key performance indicators like engagement rate, the number of clicks on a social post, or hashtag engagement rates tells a lot about what is happening as a result of activities. But it says nothing regarding whether the efforts are successful, failing, or where to focus on closing those gaps. Why? Because benchmarks are relative. … It’s easy to compare against the best, we all know those brands. That comparison often proves worthless. Comparing yourself to only the best and biggest brands is a disservice to the work your team has invested in social media.

As we near the end of the year, you’re undoubtedly preparing your 2018 social media marketing strategy. Below I share some of the report’s industry-specific opportunities for upping social engagement that deserve your consideration.

Media

Opportunity #1: Use more video on Facebook and Twitter.

According to the study, media companies boast the highest number of posts per day on Facebook and Twitter, but also the lowest engagement rates at .12% and .015%, respectively.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

Coming from a journalism background, this certainly didn’t surprise me. As the news happens, media organizations use social media to spread the word—and even a slow news day produces plenty of shareable fodder. But most of that shared content are links to on-site content, which requires the user to take another step to consume the content.

As a result, media companies have the opportunity to not only draw more eyeballs in, but keep them there longer by incorporating more video into their social media strategy.  

Opportunity #2: Invest in Instagram.

This finding is pretty straight forward. According to the report, Instagram gets the least amount of love on a daily basis, with the average post per day being just .8. However, the engagement rate on Instagram is exponentially higher at 1.25%, signaling that Instagram audiences are ripe for more content.

Non-profits

Opportunity #1: Repurpose Facebook videos for Twitter.

According to the report, non-profits are “owning” native video, but they may not be utilizing it effectively across all their social channels. As you can see from the graphs below, video is much more prevalent on Facebook than on Twitter, but engagement in that type of content is high on both platforms.

Facebook Engagement Metrics Nonprofits

Twitter Engagement Metrics for Nonprofits

Based on the findings, Rival IQ suggested repurposing Facebook video content (or perhaps going native) for Twitter to help up engagement rates.

Opportunity #2: Leverage high-performing hashtags.

Like the media industry, non-profits have some opportunity with Instagram. According to the report, by just increasing posts per day by .2 (one more post every five days) non-profits could see a lift in engagement. Furthermore, using trending and high-performing hashtags (and related subject matter) such as #VeteransDay in their posts could lend a boost, too.

Higher Education

Opportunity #1: Up the number of status updates on Facebook.

According to the report, colleges and universities boast some of the highest engagement rates compared to the other industries in the study.

Social Engagement for Media Companies

But what’s most interesting is that simple status updates do almost as well as video and photos. As a result, Rival IQ suggests that higher education organizations could up the number of status updates on Facebook and still receive great engagement.

Opportunity #2: Add visual elements to tweets.

While visuals aren’t necessarily an essential for higher education Facebook audiences, they’re a big opportunity for Twitter audiences. As you can see in the graph below, tweets with videos or photos have a significantly higher engagement rate.

Higher Ed Twitter Engagement Rates

Fashion

Opportunity #1: Incorporate more video across social channels.

Social posts featuring images are the most common type of posts among fashion brands, and while they get the most engagement, video is a close second—but less posts contain videos.

As the power of video becomes increasingly evident, fashion brands may want to incorporate more into their social strategy to drive more overall engagement.

Opportunity #2: Re-evaluate hashtags to make sure they are relevant to the audience.

According to the report, the top hashtags that fashion brands are currently using only provide slightly higher engagement compared to the other industries studied. Some of those top hashtags include a mix of holiday, lifestyle and fashion-related hashtags.

Top Hashtags for Fashion Brands

As a result, it may be worth it to go more industry-specific and focus on those fashion-related hashtags to be more relevant and boost engagement.

Health & Beauty

Opportunity #1: Focus on photos.

Video is undoubtedly an engagement driver and opportunity for most industries, but according to the study, that’s where the health and beauty industry differs. In fact, photos trump video in engagement on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Engagement Rates for Health and Beauty Brands

Twitter Engagement Rates for Health & Beauty

This signals that health and beauty brands should double-down on the creation of quality, compelling photos for use across their social channels.

Opportunity #2: Use industry-related hashtags.

When it comes to Instagram, Rival IQ’s study found that industry-related hashtags such as #moisturizer or #healthyskin—rather than just top-performing or trending hashtags like #ValentinesDay—get better engagement. So, health and beauty brands should absolutely be leveraging those industry-related hashtags to stay relevant and encourage engagement.

Food & Beverage

Opportunity #1: Invest in compelling imagery for use across channels.

Photos are the most common type of social posts for food and beverage companies—and for good reason. They drive high engagement. As a result, food and beverage brands should absolutely be investing in high-quality, compelling imagery that will resonate with their audience.

Food & Beverage Industry Social Engagement Rates

Opportunity #2: Get on the Twitter bandwagon.

According to the report, food and beverage companies are rocking it on Twitter, significantly outperforming other industries. So, if you’ve been wondering whether Twitter is worth the investment, it may be a good time to incorporate Twitter into your strategy.

Read the full Rival IQ report here.

The Bottom-Line

Simply put, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for fostering engagement on social media. While many industries have the same high-level opportunities for adding video, producing quality images and refining hashtagging strategies, there are nuances and caveats that are industry-unique.

So, as you work to refine your strategy today, tomorrow and beyond, do so with your unique industry and audience at the forefront of your mind. However, don’t neglect the great things happening outside your industry bubble. After all, a little inspiration can go a long way.

Looking for a little of that inspiration? Check out our post What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter.

Have some insight to lend on this subject? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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What All Marketers Can Learn from Fast Food Giants Crushing Twitter http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/marketers-crushing-twitter/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/marketers-crushing-twitter/#comments Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:30:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23243 There’s little doubt among marketers that social media is an important part of their strategic digital marketing mix. After all, social media is part of the fabric of our daily lives—and arguably our identities. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 1.96 billion social media users worldwide—with that number expected to grow to 2.5 billion [...]

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There’s little doubt among marketers that social media is an important part of their strategic digital marketing mix. After all, social media is part of the fabric of our daily lives—and arguably our identities. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 1.96 billion social media users worldwide—with that number expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2018.

But increasing adoption and content saturation, as well as changing algorithms and the rising tide of paid social advertising, means all brands are facing stiff competition for audience attention and engagement. So, what’s a marketer or brand to do?

The answers don’t lie in posting more frequently, adding more visuals or adding more channels to your mix. From my perspective, it’s all about developing your brand’s identity in a way that not only provides a real-time glimpse into what your company is all about, but also gives your audience a unique and tasty experience. And that’s where some of our favorite fast food brands such as Wendy’s, KFC and McDonald’s can provide us a little food for thought.

How? Read on to get a taste of what we can all learn from three recognizable fast food brands.

#1 – Acknowledging and engaging your competitors can actually help you stand out.

For some time now, Wendy’s—known for their motto of “fresh never frozen beef”—has been heralded as a leader in, well, roasting anybody and everyone on Twitter—including the trolling of its competition.

Most recently, Wendy’s was challenged to a duel with Wingstop, a chicken wing restaurant chain that grown to more than 1,000 locations around the world.

Wingstop put out a poetic, rap-style tweet in early October. Another user, @Fatlaz901, brought Wendy’s into the mix by challenging them to “step up” their game.

Wendy's Trolling on Twitter

And then the rap battle ensued over who had the better product ensued. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts—and the engagement metrics speak for themselves:

Wendy's & Wingstop Twitter Battle

The takeaway here is not to simply start trolling your competition. The point is that a little friendly competition can go a long way—and I think that can extend beyond your social channels, too.

#2 – Social customer care is an opportunity ripe for the taking.

Currently, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest restaurant chain, coming in behind Subway and boasting more than 36,000 outlets in 119 countries. For years, McDonald’s trademark “I’m lovin’ it” slogan has helped convey its desire to make quality food and deliver quality service that their customers will love—and that commitment is an intrinsic part of their social media strategy.

In addition to its official Twitter page for the USA, McDonald’s actually has another handle, @Reachout_mcd, dedicated to fielding customer gripes and answer questions. Most recently, McDonald’s announced that it would be bringing back its Szechuan Sauce in a “super-limited” fashion—aka releasing the sauce for just one day at select stores. Well, Szechuan Sauce lovers everywhere were not only miffed about the limited release, but also how quickly it “sold out” of participating locations.

Not only did McDonald’s openly address many of its customers public dismay on Twitter, it got to work to fix the problem.

McDonald's & Szechuan Sauce

What can marketers learn from this example? Marketers, particularly those managing social media, have to stop thinking customer service is not “someone else’s problem.” As social customer care expert and McDonald’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, Dan Gingiss, told me in his Behind the Marketing Curtain interview earlier this year:

“When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.”

#3 – Social media can be a vivid extension of your brand.

Finally, last month, the internet went bonkers after Twitter user Mike Edgette discovered that KFC’s official Twitter account followed just 11 people: All five members of 90s pop group the Spice Girls, as well as six random guys named Herb. Of course, this cleverness pays homage to the secret blend of 11 herbs and spices used in the making of KFC’s chicken. On the off chance you didn’t see this, here’s how Edgette broke the news to the world.

KFC 11 Twitter Followers

But, as you may already know, the story doesn’t stop there. KFC reportedly went above and beyond to recognize Edgette’s discovery, tracking him down and sending him an unbelievably awesome and hilarious gift:  A personalized letter from Colonel Sanders “himself,” a boat load of gift cards, and perhaps the most amazing of all, a painting featuring Edgette triumphantly receiving a piggy back ride from the Colonel.

Colonel Sanders & Mike Edgette Painting Tweet

For me—and I’m sure you may agree—this serves as an ultimate example of thinking outside the box, and intertwining your brand’s core messaging and mission across channels to bring it to life.

Find Your Unique Flavor

Every brand has a story to tell—and social media platforms can help you bring that story to life and season it with the voices of your community. If you’re looking to craft your recipe for success, check out our post 8 Important Questions Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Must Answer.

What other fast food restaurants have you grown to admire on social media? Tell us in the comments section below.


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How B2B Brands are Getting Creative on Twitter with 280 Characters http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/b2b-twitter-280-characters/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/b2b-twitter-280-characters/#comments Thu, 16 Nov 2017 11:30:52 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23239 Could you imagine pulling an Oreo cookie out of its sleeve to find four chocolate wafers and two layers of cream filling? Or taking home a six-pack of beer and somehow discovering 12 bottles crammed inside? It’d be discombobulating to say the least, and that’s how many of us marketers are feeling about Twitter’s recent [...]

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Could you imagine pulling an Oreo cookie out of its sleeve to find four chocolate wafers and two layers of cream filling? Or taking home a six-pack of beer and somehow discovering 12 bottles crammed inside?

It’d be discombobulating to say the least, and that’s how many of us marketers are feeling about Twitter’s recent decision to double its character limit to 280. The 140-character tweet felt as natural and familiar as 10 organic listings on a search engine results page. Now, the game has changed completely.

Bigger isn’t always better, of course. If brands simply take this opportunity to double down on their promotional messaging or stack hashtags, it’s not going to create a better experience for users. The real opportunity, as our Caitlin Burgess explained last month when previewing the Twitter character expansion, “is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.”

Now that the 280-character format has been rolled out in earnest, we thought we’d find a few examples of B2B brands that are taking advantage in creative and exemplary ways. If you’re trying to determine how this alteration can fit within your social media marketing approach, take a cue from the clever uses below.

Quirky Brand Plays

What does your company represent? What’s a gag that only people within your niche will truly understand? The character extension opens up new avenues for playful punnery with your followers.

For instance, this was tech conglomerate Cisco’s first foray into the #280characters hashtag:

Illumina, a genetic research solutions firm, took a similar tact with this gloriously geeky genome sequence:

Demonstrate Practical Uses

As a social media management platform, HootSuite is uniquely invested in Twitter’s latest pivot, so when announcing they’d integrated the update for their users, they also showed off a smart way to utilize the extra space:

One of the imperatives for online writing is to keep blocks of text in short, digestible chunks so that scanning readers won’t gloss over them. As this tweet shows, you can now incorporate that mindset on Twitter.

Add Substance to Your Link Teases

Properly setting up an article link with an informative and compelling tease could be challenging when you only had 120 characters (the link itself, of course, would take up 20). Now, we have much more room to summarize our content and explain why people should click. John Flannery, CEO of General Electric, exemplifies the ability to elaborate with this tweet linking to his investors presentation:

Make Tweets More Diverse and Robust

Admittedly, all-text tweets like the one above are going to cause some users scrolling their feeds to keep on moving; this is a danger of the expanded character count. The beauty of 140 was that it kept everything very bite-sized.

In order to keep people engaged with longer messages, you can incorporate several different elements to make them pop. For example, in the tweet below via Dell’s CSR branch, you’ll find multiple hashtags, a user handle, a link, and an image — all within a complete mini-narrative:

Quotes PLUS Descriptions

Under the previous tweeting parameters, we often had to make a decision: pull a quote to generate interest in an article, or include a description of what’s inside? Now, you can do both, as Salesforce shows in this example, where they’re able to both feature a full quote and set up the link while also sprinkling in a couple of emojis and a hashtag:

Finally, A Few Things to Keep In Mind

  • Don’t feel like you have to use up all 280 characters just because they’re available to you. At the end of the day, Twitter users prefer brevity and that’s why they love the platform.
  • In fact, one can argue that it’s now more important than ever to try and condense your message into the shortest possible package. On feeds full of longer tweets, the extremely short ones will stand out even more.
  • One of the less talked about aspects of this revamp is that Twitter also expanded the name length for users to 50, up from 20. This opens the door to plenty of new branding possibilities.

How will you make use of all the new real estate on Twitter? This is one key question you should ask before setting your social media strategy. Hopefully these examples and pointers will help you uncover some answers.


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5 Questions to Answer BEFORE You Develop a Social Media Strategy http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/questions-developing-social-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/11/questions-developing-social-strategy/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 11:30:56 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23209 Last weekend I decided to build something. So I went to Home Depot and asked a nice man in an orange apron to tell me what supplies I needed. “Okay, what are you building?” he asked. “Oh, you know, something…maybe out of wood? Perhaps a birdhouse, or some furniture, or a planter,” I replied. “Don’t [...]

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Last weekend I decided to build something. So I went to Home Depot and asked a nice man in an orange apron to tell me what supplies I needed. “Okay, what are you building?” he asked.

“Oh, you know, something…maybe out of wood? Perhaps a birdhouse, or some furniture, or a planter,” I replied. “Don’t worry; I have lots of tools and I’ve seen other people build things, so I’m ready to go. Just tell me what I need to buy.”

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” he replied.

Okay, so none of the above happened (call it poetic license). It’s a ridiculous scenario, right? Who would start building something without knowing what they needed, why they were building it, and what the finished product would be?

As ill-advised as it sounds, though, plenty of businesses are taking that approach to social media strategy. Our agency has seen clients ready to jump into tactics – channels, paid vs. organic, content creation – without developing the fundamentals of the strategy. They don’t know if they’re building a birdhouse or finishing a basement, but they’re powering up the table saw.

Before you start working on your social media presence, it’s vital to answer a few fundamental questions. Five questions, in fact:

 

#1: Who Are You?

If your brand was a person, would you want to hang out with them? It’s a vital question, because you’re asking people to do just that – to willingly interact on a social level with your brand.

So it’s vital to know how you will convey your brand’s values on social media (assuming you have your brand values firmly established).  You’ll need to develop a personality that is consistent with your brand but fits with the level of discourse on each social media channel.

Here are a few considerations to get you started. There are no universally correct answers to these questions, of course; it’s all about what fits your brand.

Is your brand:

  • Funny or serious?
  • Knowledgeable or inquisitive?
  • Smart like a scholar or sharp like a poker player?
  • Formal or casual?
  • Sincere or sarcastic?

Many of your answers may lie somewhere in the middle. In that case, determine where you fit on the continuum between each extreme.

At the end of the above exercise, you should have a list of four or five adjectives that describe how your brand will interact on social media: “Our brand is knowledgeable and helpful, gently humorous but sincere.

 

#2: Where Are You Now?

In a large organization, you likely already have multiple social media accounts, with multiple departments and people running them. That sort of ad hoc administration won’t do for strategic social media marketing.

Take time to map your brand’s existing social media presence, including brand accounts and high-level executive accounts. Include anyone who is actively speaking on behalf of the brand.

Once you’ve done the audit, you can consolidate channels, see which channels marketing should take over, and provide direction to channels you won’t be directly controlling.

 

#3: Why Is Your Audience on a Particular Channel?

People generally come to Instagram to post pretty pictures and check out other people’s cool photography. On LinkedIn, they want to read business articles that will help advance their career. On Facebook, they want to discuss politics with people who already agree with them. Each social channel has a different purpose, and that will inform how your brand interacts on each.

To see what kind of content your audience prizes, use a tool like Buzzsumo to track the top-performing and trending content relevant to your industry. See what people are liking, sharing, pinning, etc., and you’ll be better equipped to give audiences what they’re looking for.

 

#4: What Do You Want to Accomplish on Each Channel?

Now that you know who you are, what your raw materials are, and what your audience wants, it’s time to get to it. What are you building? Without that key element, there’s no strategy, just a series of random online interactions.

Your goals should be different for each channel. Think about what each channel is good for, what your presence already looks like, and the actions audiences can take from each. On Twitter, your goal might be raising awareness, and promoting thought leadership. But on LinkedIn you might want to capture the audience by driving them to blog subscriptions and gated assets.

Set a general goal for each channel, as well as measurable sub-goals. You should have clear metrics you can analyze and optimize.

 

#5: What Are Your KPIs (In Order of Importance)?

In a perfect world, every social media activity would increase subscribers, capture leads, and promote conversions all at once. We have plenty of prospective clients who ask for just that: An all-of-the-above approach.

Unfortunately, doing everything at once frequently means doing none of it effectively. It’s important to establish your key performance indicators, but also to prioritize them. These priorities can (and should) change over time, but you should have a starting list before you plan a campaign.

You might start with the primary goal of increasing your social audience, a secondary goal of driving subscribers to your site, and downloading an asset or other conversion as a tertiary goal. That’s enough differentiation to guide an informed strategy. Then, once you have built that audience, you might shift primary focus to the more middle and bottom-of-funnel efforts.

 

Birdhouse, Basement or Bathtub?

Before you start developing your social media strategy, take time to understand what you want to build and what materials you have to work with. Get your fundamentals straight before you start strategizing, and definitely finish the strategy before you start implementing tactics.

All that groundwork will help you treat social media as the powerful marketing tool it is. You will be far better equipped to succeed. Even better, you’ll know what success looks like, and you’ll be able to prove it to management.

Ready to strategize? Check out the fundamental elements of a successful social media marketing strategy.


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Will More Tweet Space Equal More Value for Your Twitter Audience? http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/more-tweet-space-twitter/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/more-tweet-space-twitter/#respond Thu, 12 Oct 2017 10:30:21 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23075 Last month, Twitter made big headlines after announcing it was in the midst of testing 280-character tweets as a way to give users more room to “express” themselves. The announcement came a little more than a year after Twitter stopped including links and photos in character counts. “We want every person around the world to [...]

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Last month, Twitter made big headlines after announcing it was in the midst of testing 280-character tweets as a way to give users more room to “express” themselves. The announcement came a little more than a year after Twitter stopped including links and photos in character counts.

“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean),” the company said in a press release on its blog. “Although this is only available to a small group right now, we want to be transparent about why we are excited to try this.”

For marketers, many may feel like Christmas has come early. Let’s face it, writing a compelling and comprehensive tweet in just 140 characters is an art — an art that seems almost impossible to master. With double the amount of space, the pressure is off and marketers can unleash their full wordsmithing talent. Um, right?

Not so fast.

Twitter’s 140-character limit has been a defining platform characteristic since its inception — and something many users are extremely partial to.

“Twitter is about brevity. It’s what makes it such a great way to see what’s happening. Tweets get right to the point with the information or thoughts that matter. That is something we will never change,” Twitter said in its release. “We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters — we felt it, too.”

While Twitter is confident that giving users more real estate will make it easier and more fun to tweet, marketers should not look at it as an opportunity to rewrite their tweeting best practices. The real opportunity here is to discover whether or not you can use that extra space to deliver more value and resonance to your audience.


Twitter's character limit change is an opportunity to learn if you can deliver more value. #marketing
Click To Tweet


So, once “super-sized” tweets — as The Verge so eloquently called them — come to your account, don’t throw caution to the wind right away. Start with these actions:

#1 – Audit your existing Twitter initiatives.

Take a deep dive into your analytics dashboard to get a deeper understanding of how your audience is already engaging with your tweets and taking action on them.

Of course, the basic metrics are important because they can serve as your benchmarks. But also go beyond the metrics to start categorizing what content garners the most engagement so you can draw some more meaningful insights. For example, what topics seem to fire your audience up? How long are your most effective tweets? Are images or video a part of your most successful tweets? Which tweets featuring my website content got the most clicks? What really seems to be working? What’s clearly not working?

In addition, it’s worth taking a peek at your website analytics to understand how Twitter is impacting your business. Depending on what you uncover through the Twitter dashboard, you might be able to draw some more conclusions on what tweet content has value beyond awareness and engagement.


Before adding characters, audit your current Twitter efforts. #socialmediamarketing
Click To Tweet


#2 – Craft and launch test tweets.

Use the information you uncovered during your audit to build out and launch a test campaign featuring longer tweets. Of course, build these tweets in accordance with what you know is working best with your audience, but also give yourself some space to experiment a bit. We’d suggest running the test for at least a month to get enough data to lead into the next action.


Test longer tweets before throwing out Twitter best practices. #socialmediamarketing
Click To Tweet


#3 – Analyze results and tweak your test.

Now it’s time to dive back into your analytics to understand how your test tweets stack up to your legacy efforts. Did you see a measurable rise or decline in engagement? What kind of engagement did you receive (i.e. increase in average comments or decrease in average retweets)? Was there a certain type of content that really benefited from that extra character room?


After you test longer tweets, analyze your results & make tweaks. #socialmediamarketing
Click To Tweet


The Bottom Line: Value Trumps Character Count

At the end of the day, character count simply doesn’t matter if what you’re sharing has no value or resonance with your audience. Since Twitter launched, the tight character count has been a creative restraint, challenging us all to say more with less. So, while you should certainly take advantage of the extra room when it makes sense, your primary objective should always be bringing insight and value to your audience. Because when they see the value you bring to the table, they’ll reward you for it.


Your primary objective should always be to bring value to your audience. @CaitlinMBurgess
Click To Tweet


What do you think about Twitter’s decision to double its character limit? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Everything You Need to Build a LinkedIn Marketing Tactical Plan http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/linkedin-marketing-tactical-plan/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/10/linkedin-marketing-tactical-plan/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 10:30:41 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=23072 Over the last five years, we’ve seen an evolution in the way B2B marketers are talking about and using social media. We’ve evolved from asking “Should we be doing it?” to “Is what we are doing worth it?” to now “How do I make this really effective channel even more effective?”. According to a recent [...]

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Over the last five years, we’ve seen an evolution in the way B2B marketers are talking about and using social media. We’ve evolved from asking “Should we be doing it?” to “Is what we are doing worth it?” to now “How do I make this really effective channel even more effective?”.

According to a recent study from Oktopost, 79% of B2B marketers believe social media is an effective marketing channel (Oktopost). And for many B2B marketers, LinkedIn is THE social media channel. In fact 43% of marketers say they’ve sourced a customer from LinkedIn (Hubspot).

But could we be doing better? Can we use LinkedIn more effectively?

To help answer that question, Alex Rynne, Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and Chris Wilson, Inbound Consultant from Hubspot, provided B2B marketers with an actionable, detailed plan to drive bigger, better performance from LinkedIn tools at last week’s B2B Marketing Forum in Boston.

Four LinkedIn Opportunities and How to Take Them

Linkedin Company & Showcase Pages

LinkedIn Company and Showcase pages are great opportunities to establish and build your company’s identity. It’s a completely free tool that allows your brand to connect professionals with your employees and your brand to share knowledge with your community.

LinkedIn Showcase pages allow you to create dedicated pages for individual brands and are another opportunity to build individual brand identity.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead generation
  • Thought leader
  • Event Registrations

KPIs:

  • Page followers
  • Post clicks
  • Engagement
  • Comments
  • Inquiries
  • Event Registrations

What to Share:

  • Showcase your expertise with large assets like webinars and eBooks.
  • Engage with short digestible stats and quotes.
  • Illustrate industry savvy with 3rd party content. Alex shares that no one wants to talk to the person at the party that only talks about themselves. 3rd party content shows you’re on top of trends within the industry, creates opportunities for engagement with your audience and helps build influencer relationships.

LinkedIn Company and Showcase Page Action Items:

  • Post 3-4xs per day.
  • Engage with and respond to followers comments:  Don’t ignore your followers. If they take the time to engage with you, show them your appreciation and build strong engagement by responding.
  • Change your header image every 6 months: Chris compares the header image to the front door of your LinkedIn page. Make it attractive and people will want to come in.  Take advantage of the header real estate and switch it up periodically to promote to campaigns or messaging.

Publishing on LinkedIn

According to Alex, over 1 million  unique  publishers  publish  more than 130,000 posts a week on LinkedIn and 45% of LinkedIn readers are in the upper ranks of their industries (i.e. managers, VPs, CEOs, etc.). So publishing content is a great way to connect with key people in your industry and further establish your professional identity.

Objective:

  • Thought Leadership

Key Metrics:

  • Post reviews & Profile views
  • Demographics of your readers
  • Likes, comments and shares

What to Share:

Although there is no silver bullet for exactly what and how often you should publish. Alex and Chris shares examples of what tends to work best.

  1. Publish when you feel passionate. If you post when you are creatively inspired, about something you care about, this is when your work will be most likely to resonate with your audience and inspire engagement. Content about lessons learned and your professional expertise will be most relevant to your audience.  
  2. Crowdsource content. Look at the questions your audience is asking and identify their pain points. This content will undoubtedly resonate.
  3. Share relevant, timely content about events or industry news. Tap into the conversations that are already happening by posting an opinion or tips related to something current in the news.

Action Items:

  • Publish when you feel passionate (this is listed twice because it is that important).
  • Recommended bi-weekly or once a month.

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

LinkedIn Sponsored content allow you to reach a target audience of people who are not already following you.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead Generation
  • Thought Leadership

Key Metrics:

  • Engagement Rate
  • Inquires
  • Impressions

Best practices:

  1. Visual is the new headline. There is so much content in the feed, make sure your content is really eye catching. If you can, move beyond stock photos and do your own photoshoot.
  2. Keep it short & sweet. Be mindful of your mobile users and make content easy to consumer.
  3. Snackable stats work wonders. Provide your audience with 3rd party validation to backup your message.
  4. Variety is the spice of life. Variety allows you to avoid creative fatigue but also see what resonates the best with your audience.

What to Share:

  • Webinars
  • Content that asks readers to participate i.e. survey, nominations
  • Statistics
  • Repurposed, straightforward content

Always be Testing:

With the amount of content clutter, testing is a great way to find out what is most likely to work with your audience and make the most out of what you are publishing. Alex and Chris recommend testing anything from word choice (i.e. eBook versus guide), content (inclusion of a stat or benefit), and images (photo or graphic).

Action Items:

  • Select a compelling visual.
  • Run 2-4 posts per week.
  • Run the test for 3 weeks, to ensure you have an actionable result.
  • Add URL tracking codes to measure post click actions (site visits and conversions)
  • Setup campaigns by audience and make sure you tailor the content to the audience (i.e. managers versus c-suite).
  • Shift budget to the audience with the highest engagement rate. Spend your money where you are going to get the most impact.

LinkedIn Sponsored InMail

LinkedIn InMail allows you to send personalized messages to the people who matter most to your business. InMail can work even better than email at reaching certain audiences.

Objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Lead Generation
  • Program Certification
  • Enrollment

Key Metrics

  • Open rate
  • Inquiries and leads
  • Event registration
  • Program application and brochure downloads

What to Share:

  • Webinar an industry event invitations
  • eBook launches
  • Product one sheets
  • Program demos
  • Infographics
  • Blog subscription campaigns

Action Items

  • Keep copy under 1000 characters (but AB test).
  • Use a clear CTA in the top right banner.
  • Choose a sender that is credible to your audience. If audiences have never heard of your brand before, your open rates will be lower, than if it’s from a person they know.
  • Leverage personalization. InMail allows you to add the recipient’s name or other customized information.
  • Have a hyperlink early in the body of the message.
  • Select a concise subject link.
  • Set up A/B test to learn what resonates.

Bonus Opportunity: Linkedin Conversion Tracking:

Obviously, tracking is so critical to reporting the results of your campaigns, but also to optimize and iterate for the go forward.

Chris outlines the steps for setting up LinkedIn conversion tracking:

  1. Use a Google Analytics tracking code for easy set up.
  2. Assign a Conversion value: If you don’t know this, create an estimate based on product value and close rate .
  3. Tie it all together: This way you can show clear value, nice argument for executives that you need more value.

Don’t do Social Campaigns, Make Every Campaign Social

Using a tactical plan like the one Alex and Chris shared will allow you to really harness the power of LinkedIn. Once this happen, you can truly integrate social into all of your campaigns in order to engagement with your audience and accelerate the impact of your content.

Interested in other LinkedIn related tactics? Find out everything you need to know about LinkedIn’s new native video feature.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.


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Break All the Social Rules: Advice from Spredfast VP of Strategy Spike Jones http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/break-social-rules/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/break-social-rules/#respond Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:30:52 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22984 In this era of social media, brands need to look at their social outreach in a different light. Which means that sometimes, you have to break the social media rules. Spike Jones, Vice President Strategy at Spredfast outlined a new type of social success at the September Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) event. As Spike [...]

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In this era of social media, brands need to look at their social outreach in a different light. Which means that sometimes, you have to break the social media rules. Spike Jones, Vice President Strategy at Spredfast outlined a new type of social success at the September Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) event.

As Spike shared in his presentation:

“When it comes to social media, sometimes you need to follow the breadcrumbs.”

Why? Because you never know who you might find. Below are some of the top insights and takeaways from Spike’s presentation.

It’s not about the brand.

As marketers, we are often taught to include our brand’s logo, messaging tagline and any other branding we might have on everything we produce and influence.

Instead, says Spike, let the content be about the person. By spotlighting people and what inspires them, you will inspire others to look at your organization or company.

One example is Fiskars, makers of the orange handled scissors. They realized they were the conduit for scrapbooking. By highlighting what people were making with their Fiskars scissors, they were finding true fans.

Influencers come in many forms – Oprah vs. the Fiskar scrapbook superheroes

Not every customer is going to recognize your brand. Seek out your rallying cry and be the conduit, not the brand.

Don’t seek out influence. Create it.

Spike told the story of Jared Gaff who was very active on muscle car forums answering every question he could. Chevy interviewed Jared on video, and made him a Chevy Ignites Ambassador. Chevy did not post the video, but, instead, gave the video to Jared. The video has over 15K views, and Jared is a passionate ambassador.

Not everyone is your customer.

As social media professionals, we are sometimes asked to get likes and followers for our clients. But, don’t forget, that is not getting a customer. We need to look at who is truly our audience and speak to them.


Don't spend all your time talking to people who don't know you yet. Focus on fans, too. @spikejones
Click To Tweet


Think about content differently.

Spike encouraged us to give people reasons to talk about themselves If you find passion from your fans, elevate it. This is the key behind the best kinds of rewards or fan experiences. When you elevate passion, your fans will be more willing to share it.

For example, I recently had a craving for a Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. OK, this is a common fall craving for me. When I got to the store, the line was really long, which I did not expect. I tweeted a photo of the line and Starbuck’s tweeted a fun, witty reply back.

I am a fan, and they just improved my experience by talking to me. They elevated my passion.

This works for B2B, as well. At TopRank Marketing, we connected with an up-and-coming influencer in the IoT space. He wanted to co-create content to improve his personal brand. Our work with him created a raving fan for our client and improved the following a personal brand recognition of the influencer.

How are you connecting your followers and fans to experiences?

Get more from social media.

When you are focused on getting more from your social, think about leveraging the 1 on 1 interaction. Mass audience messaging may not get you the following you need. Instead, show particular fans they are valued.

On leveraging the on-to-one generation:

  • 1:1 is growing, in every industry, every year
  • Find the right mix between 1:1 and 1:many
  • No one answers every Tweet – make sure you’re answering the right ones

The real marketing ROI

Every organization has (or should have) a crisis plan. But, Spike says, what is your ‘love’ plan? How do you get your customers and fans to love your brand?

One key strategy to your ‘love’ plan should include plugging it into every part of the company. Your employees are your best ambassadors. Learn how to leverage them.


People want to connect with people, not companies. @spikejones
Click To Tweet


If you never call your PR firm to implement the crisis plan, just think about the money you’ve saved because your ‘love’ plan worked.

Spike ended the with these key tips on encouraging people to engage with your content:

  • Feed their Ego
  • Give them Info(rmation)
  • Touch their Emo(tions)

Then, find a way to meet offline and give them something to talk about.

Refocus social on the customer

The key to true social engagement is moving toward a personal conversation. Brands need to find people to rally for them as true ambassadors. Your love plan needs to include true personal conversations that feed your ambassadors/fan’s ego, share information and touch their emotions.

Everyone wants to believe in something bigger than themselves. What is your social rallying cry?


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6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Setting Social Media Marketing Goals http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/social-media-marketing-goals/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/09/social-media-marketing-goals/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:30:24 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22950 In today’s digital landscape, chances are social media is a vital piece of your marketing mix. After all, people live on social platforms these days and projections show that worldwide social media users will surpass 3 billion by 2021. But as brands and marketers fight for visibility in crowded, “algorithm-enhanced” news feeds, how many of [...]

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In today’s digital landscape, chances are social media is a vital piece of your marketing mix. After all, people live on social platforms these days and projections show that worldwide social media users will surpass 3 billion by 2021.

But as brands and marketers fight for visibility in crowded, “algorithm-enhanced” news feeds, how many of you are actually reaching your strategic social media marketing objectives? Better yet, how many of you can say you have well-defined, relevant and measurable goals outlined within your social strategy?

As a marketer, you know there can be no strategy without goals. Goals are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. But how do you define those goals?

The truth is there’s a lot to consider such as your industry, overall business objectives, budget and resources. With that said, whether you need to start from scratch or it’s time to give your goals a refresh, here are a few questions you should be asking yourself along the way:

#1 – How does social media map to my overall marketing objectives?

Your social media marketing efforts are an integral part of your entire marketing strategy. As such, the goals you set should absolutely support what you’re trying to achieve at a high level. It’s as simple as that.


Your #socialmedia goals should absolutely map to your overall #marketing objectives.
Click To Tweet


#2 – Who is my social audience?

You know that the foundation of any marketing initiative is understanding your audience’s pain points, motivations, interests and needs. But those defining characteristics may manifest themselves a bit differently on social media. After all, social media is a personal outlet for many, so their motivations for engaging with a brand may be different than if they received an email from you or found you via search.

As a result, in order to define your social media objectives, you need to understand why your audience is on social media and what they care about most on those platforms.

#3 – How does my audience differ across social channels?

Every social media channel offers something a little unique, which means your audience may differ from channel to channel. As a result, your goals—as well as your strategy to reach those goals—should reflect that.

#4 – What does my audience expect from me?

Let’s face it. The goals you set are going to be rooted in some type of audience action. But to inspire that action, you need to think about what your audience’s expectations are and how you’ll meet them. Is it quick and empathetic customer service? Conversation? Entertainment? Helpful information and resources?

#5 – What do I really want from my social media efforts?

Brand awareness and audience engagement are typically the top goals of any social media marketing strategy. But challenge yourself to go deeper as you define your goals. For example, if community engagement is a top priority, what does that actually look like to you? Is it likes, shares, comments, reviews, website traffic or a combination of them all?


As your define your #socialmedia goals, challenge yourself to go deeper & deeper.
Click To Tweet


#6 – Are my goals measurable?

At the end of the day, your goals have to be measurable. How else are you going to know if you’ve actually achieved what you set out to do?

In Need of More Social Media Marketing Inspiration?

Then check out these helpful resources:


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Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/behind-the-curtain-dan-gingiss/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/08/behind-the-curtain-dan-gingiss/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 10:30:26 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22836

Behind the Marketing Curtain with Dan Gingiss

Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s digital marketing mix, helping brands of all sizes foster customer connections and engagement. But as more consumers use social media to “ring the bell” and gain access to the person who can help solve their problems, many find the social bell is out of order when it comes to customer service.

For social media wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, customer service is arguably one of the most important pieces of social media marketing.

“Social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage,” Dan told me in a recent interview.

With more than two decades building up his marketing wizardry, Dan knows a thing or two about ushering people through the emerald social media gates and providing great social care—and no ruby red slippers are required for entrance.

With that said, as part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Marketing Curtain interview series, today we’ll pull back the fabric and get to know more about how Mr. Gingiss arrived in the wonderful world of marketing, and share insights that can help inspire better customer service within your social media strategy, and perhaps kick a wicked habit or two.

Enjoy!

The Man Behind the Curtain

Dan Gingiss, Senior Director, Global Social Media, McDonald'sDan has spent most of his life and marketing career in the Chicago area—that’s his Kansas, he said.

“[Well], it’s not quite Kansas, but still the Midwest!” he joked.

And while Dan has been a marketer for more than 20 years, his numerous talents aren’t bound to any one industry. He also bills himself as a “pretty decent” pinball player and a grammar nerd—and he’s also a licensed bartender.

“[I got my bartender’s license] after taking a two-week night course after college and placing first in the speed drink-making contest,” he explained while also noting that there’s no fire or bottle flipping in his repertoire.

Dan is also a huge baseball fan—particularly when it comes to the Chicago Cubs club. But he’s arguably a pretty big Cleveland Indians fan, too; his all-time favorite movie is Major League.

“[It’s the] perfect combo of humor, a little bit of romance, and baseball!” he said.

As a marketer, he’s built his career as a marketing generalist. Borrowing a phrase from the John Fogerty song “Centerfield”—and keeping in line with his love of the game, Dan said: “I am a ‘put me in coach’ kind of guy. As a result, I’ve enjoyed domestic and global roles in B2C and B2B, product management, loyalty programs, and acquisition marketing.”

Over the last two decades, Dan has held positions at Discover Card, Humana, Diner’s Club International, and Mesirow Financial. Earlier this year, Dan joined McDonald’s Corporation as Senior Director of Global Social Media. He’s also a podcaster and the author of Winning of Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experience on Social Media.

So how did self-proclaimed marketing generalist land in a social media-specific role? We’ll cover that in the next section.

Following His Yellow Brick Road

As an undergrad student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan was majoring in Psychology and Communications—meaning he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he said. But, being the grammar nerd he is, he was the managing editor of the college newspaper. One evening, as he was pasting up the next day’s edition, he spotted an ad from MBI, Inc., a high-end collectibles company in Norwalk, CT that operates under The Danbury Mint brand.

“The ad promised to teach me ‘everything you need to know about direct marketing,’” he recalled. “So, I applied and they did.”

“On my first day of work, I was handed a bunch of product lines and told to create and execute marketing plans in direct mail, package inserts, and the Sunday coupons—that’s how I learned,” he said.

Four years later, Dan went back to school for his MBA and took his “first” marketing class. At that point, he realized that his undergrad studies provided the perfect foundation for becoming a marketer.

“Psychology and Communications are two perfect majors for a marketer because they are two skills that basically define what marketing entails—understanding your customer, and knowing how to speak to him or her,” he said.

But his journey was certainly not over. While spreading his wings as a marketing generalist over the years, in 2012 Dan found his true marketing passion: social media.

“[Mike Boush], the Chief Digital Officer at Discover Card, asked me to lead digital customer experience and social media even though I had no professional experience with either,” he recalled. “He recognized something in me even before I did: That I am most comfortable with my ‘customer hat’ on, thinking about every experience through the customer’s eyes. I also immediately fell in love with social media—especially Twitter—and never looked back.”

Dan’s Traveling Companions

Just as Dorothy found dear friends and encouragement in the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion as she made her way to Emerald City, Dan’s yellow brick road was paved with a little help, too.

The aforementioned Mike Boush was one such individual who made an impact.

“He challenged me to become a “recognized leader” in social media,” Dan said.

Another was Jeff Reid, who was Dan’s boss at Humana.

“He asked me to create a personal goal (writing a book) and execute on it,” Dan explained.

Another mentor that came to Dan’s mind was the late Robin Carey of Social Media Today.

“She definitely had courage,” he said. “After meeting me once, she agreed to sponsor my brand-new podcast called ‘Focus on Customer Service.’ It was the first of its kind—dedicated solely to customer care in social media—and I had never recorded a podcast episode previously. Fifty-plus episodes later, that podcast spawned my book.”

“Robin believed in me when she didn’t have to, and I’ll never forget her for that,” he added.

Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Dan is certainly someone who exemplifies these qualities in his work as a social media marketing wizard. So without further ado, let’s dive into Dan’s tips for better social media marketing.

Good witch or bad witch? What’s one bad social media marketing habit marketers should drop?

Thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem. When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage.

[bctt tweet="#SocialMedia is the only channel where customers can talk back, #marketers need to listen. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for social media marketing success?

Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints. Knowing your customer will definitely help you become a better marketer.

There are a number helpful social media marketing and listening tools out there—many of which I covered in the chapter on social customer care tools in my book—that can fit into any marketing budget and are worth the investment.

[bctt tweet="#Marketers need to embrace positive & negative feedback on #socialmedia. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep! What creative tactics can marketers use to keep their social audience engaged?

Always be engaging, too. I know, so many rules! But consumers want to engage with brands on social media. That’s usually why they reach out in the first place. Companies that engage back can create loyal brand advocates that will tell their friends and followers on social media. We’ve all seen the studies—there’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. And I’ve personally seen 1:1 engagement rates even after a customer service inquiry that far surpass any marketer’s wildest dreams. Then scaling that becomes the challenge.

[bctt tweet="There’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?)

An end to social media marketers thinking of social as a “special” channel that gets to play by different rules. Other than that consumers can talk back, social is just another marketing channel. It’s not unfair to ask for a return on that marketing investment. It’s not unfair to point out that likes, comments, and retweets don’t mean anything if more people aren’t buying your company’s products. Social marketers need to understand that corporate marketing budgets are finite, and social is competing against more mature marketing channels that have shown results for decades.

[bctt tweet="#Marketers need to stop thinking #socialmedia is “special” channel that has different rules. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Dan for taking the time to open up about who he is, where he comes from and how he approaches content and comedy. Thanks, Dan!

Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is still underway. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts.

Stay tuned for our next installment, my pretty!

What’s one thing you’d ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

]]>

Behind the Marketing Curtain with Dan Gingiss Social media marketing has become an important part of any brand’s digital marketing mix, helping brands of all sizes foster customer connections and engagement. But as more consumers use social media to “ring the bell” and gain access to the person who can help solve their problems, many find the social bell is out of order when it comes to customer service. For social media wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s Corporation’s Senior Director of Global Social Media, customer service is arguably one of the most important pieces of social media marketing. “Social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage,” Dan told me in a recent interview. With more than two decades building up his marketing wizardry, Dan knows a thing or two about ushering people through the emerald social media gates and providing great social care—and no ruby red slippers are required for entrance. With that said, as part of our Wizard of Oz-inspired Behind the Marketing Curtain interview series, today we’ll pull back the fabric and get to know more about how Mr. Gingiss arrived in the wonderful world of marketing, and share insights that can help inspire better customer service within your social media strategy, and perhaps kick a wicked habit or two. Enjoy!

The Man Behind the Curtain

Dan Gingiss, Senior Director, Global Social Media, McDonald'sDan has spent most of his life and marketing career in the Chicago area—that’s his Kansas, he said. “[Well], it’s not quite Kansas, but still the Midwest!” he joked. And while Dan has been a marketer for more than 20 years, his numerous talents aren’t bound to any one industry. He also bills himself as a “pretty decent” pinball player and a grammar nerd—and he’s also a licensed bartender. “[I got my bartender’s license] after taking a two-week night course after college and placing first in the speed drink-making contest,” he explained while also noting that there’s no fire or bottle flipping in his repertoire. Dan is also a huge baseball fan—particularly when it comes to the Chicago Cubs club. But he’s arguably a pretty big Cleveland Indians fan, too; his all-time favorite movie is Major League. “[It’s the] perfect combo of humor, a little bit of romance, and baseball!” he said. As a marketer, he’s built his career as a marketing generalist. Borrowing a phrase from the John Fogerty song “Centerfield”—and keeping in line with his love of the game, Dan said: “I am a ‘put me in coach’ kind of guy. As a result, I’ve enjoyed domestic and global roles in B2C and B2B, product management, loyalty programs, and acquisition marketing.” Over the last two decades, Dan has held positions at Discover Card, Humana, Diner’s Club International, and Mesirow Financial. Earlier this year, Dan joined McDonald’s Corporation as Senior Director of Global Social Media. He’s also a podcaster and the author of Winning of Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experience on Social Media. So how did self-proclaimed marketing generalist land in a social media-specific role? We’ll cover that in the next section.

Following His Yellow Brick Road

As an undergrad student at the University of Pennsylvania, Dan was majoring in Psychology and Communications—meaning he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life, he said. But, being the grammar nerd he is, he was the managing editor of the college newspaper. One evening, as he was pasting up the next day’s edition, he spotted an ad from MBI, Inc., a high-end collectibles company in Norwalk, CT that operates under The Danbury Mint brand. “The ad promised to teach me ‘everything you need to know about direct marketing,’” he recalled. “So, I applied and they did.” “On my first day of work, I was handed a bunch of product lines and told to create and execute marketing plans in direct mail, package inserts, and the Sunday coupons—that’s how I learned,” he said. Four years later, Dan went back to school for his MBA and took his “first” marketing class. At that point, he realized that his undergrad studies provided the perfect foundation for becoming a marketer. “Psychology and Communications are two perfect majors for a marketer because they are two skills that basically define what marketing entails—understanding your customer, and knowing how to speak to him or her,” he said. But his journey was certainly not over. While spreading his wings as a marketing generalist over the years, in 2012 Dan found his true marketing passion: social media. “[Mike Boush], the Chief Digital Officer at Discover Card, asked me to lead digital customer experience and social media even though I had no professional experience with either,” he recalled. “He recognized something in me even before I did: That I am most comfortable with my ‘customer hat’ on, thinking about every experience through the customer’s eyes. I also immediately fell in love with social media—especially Twitter—and never looked back.”

Dan’s Traveling Companions

Just as Dorothy found dear friends and encouragement in the Scarecrow, Tinman and Cowardly Lion as she made her way to Emerald City, Dan’s yellow brick road was paved with a little help, too. The aforementioned Mike Boush was one such individual who made an impact. “He challenged me to become a “recognized leader” in social media,” Dan said. Another was Jeff Reid, who was Dan’s boss at Humana. “He asked me to create a personal goal (writing a book) and execute on it,” Dan explained. Another mentor that came to Dan’s mind was the late Robin Carey of Social Media Today. “She definitely had courage,” he said. “After meeting me once, she agreed to sponsor my brand-new podcast called ‘Focus on Customer Service.’ It was the first of its kind—dedicated solely to customer care in social media—and I had never recorded a podcast episode previously. Fifty-plus episodes later, that podcast spawned my book.” “Robin believed in me when she didn’t have to, and I’ll never forget her for that,” he added.

Meeting the Wizard

At TopRank Marketing we believe in taking a smart, creative and results-focused approach in everything we do for our clients, as well as our own personal growth. Dan is certainly someone who exemplifies these qualities in his work as a social media marketing wizard. So without further ado, let’s dive into Dan’s tips for better social media marketing. Good witch or bad witch? What’s one bad social media marketing habit marketers should drop? Thinking that customer service is someone else’s problem. When we interrupt people’s social media feeds with marketing messages, we hope that they will engage with our fun and interesting marketing content. But sometimes, all we do is remind them that they had some other problem with our brand. Since social media is the first and only channel where customers can talk back, marketers need to listen and engage. [bctt tweet="#SocialMedia is the only channel where customers can talk back, #marketers need to listen. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] Dorothy’s ruby slippers were the key to achieving her end goal of returning home. What are a few tools you believe are key for social media marketing success? Always be listening. People will generally tell you everything you need to know about your business—what’s working, what needs fixing, and what could be your next big hit. Marketers need to embrace the feedback, including compliments, questions, and complaints. Knowing your customer will definitely help you become a better marketer. There are a number helpful social media marketing and listening tools out there—many of which I covered in the chapter on social customer care tools in my book—that can fit into any marketing budget and are worth the investment. [bctt tweet="#Marketers need to embrace positive & negative feedback on #socialmedia. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep! What creative tactics can marketers use to keep their social audience engaged? Always be engaging, too. I know, so many rules! But consumers want to engage with brands on social media. That’s usually why they reach out in the first place. Companies that engage back can create loyal brand advocates that will tell their friends and followers on social media. We’ve all seen the studies—there’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. And I’ve personally seen 1:1 engagement rates even after a customer service inquiry that far surpass any marketer’s wildest dreams. Then scaling that becomes the challenge. [bctt tweet="There’s nothing more believable than an objective friend talking positively about a brand. @dgingiss" username="toprank"] What’s one thing you would ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? (More budget, more resources, better data?) An end to social media marketers thinking of social as a “special” channel that gets to play by different rules. Other than that consumers can talk back, social is just another marketing channel. It’s not unfair to ask for a return on that marketing investment. It’s not unfair to point out that likes, comments, and retweets don’t mean anything if more people aren’t buying your company’s products. Social marketers need to understand that corporate marketing budgets are finite, and social is competing against more mature marketing channels that have shown results for decades. [bctt tweet="#Marketers need to stop thinking #socialmedia is “special” channel that has different rules. @dgingiss" username="toprank"]

We’re Off to Meet More Wizards

I’d like to sincerely thank Dan for taking the time to open up about who he is, where he comes from and how he approaches content and comedy. Thanks, Dan! Of course, TopRank Marketing’s journey to Emerald City is still underway. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you more exclusive interviews and insights from industry wizards to add some smarts, heart and nerve to your marketing efforts. Stay tuned for our next installment, my pretty! What’s one thing you’d ask the all-powerful marketing wizard for? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post Behind the Marketing Curtain: An Interview with Social Customer Care Wiz Dan Gingiss, McDonald’s appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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