What Twitter marketers can learn from JetBlue, Emirates and Royal Dutch Airlines

A very interesting article from Yuyu Chen on ClickZ that is a bit old by Internet Standard but still very much current as far as what it discusses.

I’ve been learning the ropes of social media marketing lately. A few days ago, my friend Brian Honigman, a marketer and social media analytics instructor at New York University, gave me access to his Socialbakers account.

When I was playing around with this analytics platform, I found that three major airlines – JetBlue, Emirates and Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) – are leading brands in their own right on Twitter. All of them have a strong presence on the platform and work hard to develop high quality campaigns for Twitter.

But there are nuances in their Twitter marketing strategies. For example, KLM is very focused on customer service on Twitter, while JetBlue and Emirates put more effort into branding.

Below is my analysis on their Twitter marketing techniques over the past three months. Hope it can help your Twitter account take off.

Read the full article here: https://www.clickz.com/what-twitter-marketers-can-learn-from-jetblue-emirates-and-royal-dutch-airlines/23646/

Modern Content Marketing: A Trend Worth Following (Literally)

As more and more people are wising up to the idea of researching before purchasing, the role of content as a primary marketing tool is growing. A couple of years ago, content was no more than a means to higher traffic and a “web master”‘s selling point to business owners reaching for a top spot on Google’s ranking. 

Today, both the web master and the business owner know better. More importantly, Google’s getting closer and closer to zero tolerance when it comes to that old spam ideology that reigned in the early 2000s.

Google has become a noble entity, bent on saving innocent browsers from that tragic transition from triumph to disappointment as they encounter yet another spam page. In the aftermath of this evolution, web masters everywhere are tossing their black hats and clamoring instead for high-quality content, a find that pays in valuable inbound links, credibility, a nice loyal audience base, and real, actual profit.

While we respect your hesitation on the man bun, content marketing the right way, is definitely a trend you want to follow. So what’s that thing they’re doing different that’s making all the difference? Well- there are a few things:

Audience Monogamy 

Commitment is the virtue of web marketing. For the love of your brand, stop spreading your content around and find an audience you can commit to and deliver. Not only is this practice valuable to the integrity of your brand, but practical for creating profit.

Google’s algorithm updates have evolved to meet the readers needs and your content needs to reflect that. Today, it’s all about relativity-  not shameless backlinking and the buffet-style keyword spread. That might get you in the door, but it will also get you flagged and then blocked for good measure. Look- we get that your marketing team is hell bent on getting you that prized, first-page spot, but please be classy- quality over quantity. Always. 

Research and actively aim to provide solutions to your audience’s problems. Tweak and mold your products and/or services to meet your audience’s needs. Keep some buzzwords around, but keep them relevant and tasteful. Knowing your audience and creating consistent high-quality content that appeals to their needs will fulfill yours- it’s called a functional relationship.

Don’t Be a Poser

The factor that characterizes a search engine as sophisticated is its ability to behave according to natural patterns. Likewise, your content should be crafted to read in a natural tone. Google’s algorithm, like a living breathing real person, prefers language that is clear, descriptive, and talkative. Craft content that is easy to read and interact with- people prefer an answer if it feels like it’s coming from a real person- and if it’s coming from a real person, Google won’t flag it as spam.

Co-occurrence,  Not Keywords

Invest in more long-form content with lots of detail and natural phrase flow. Instead of playing Keyword Chubby Bunny, write posts with high-integrity- the relevant phrases will occur naturally. Co-occurrence. 

Long-form content is a sophisticated (and effective) upgrade from keyword stuffing. Instead of coming off as redundant and cheap, long-form content delivers relevant results effortlessly. It also produces results that readers are more likely to seek out, which is why this style is favored by search engines.

Note: Something to beware of when using long-form content is relying on fillers or straying. This is why we always recommend writing about what you already know- and enjoy.

Resources and References 

If I’m interested in a topic, chances are, yours is not the only site I’m checking out for information- and that’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s best to provide what you know exquisitely and leave the rest to someone else. That last move doesn’t mean your content is less than- you can actually have an authority site simply by following that one simple rule, as long as the reader finds your website more useful than the competition.

… and how do you make sure your site is more useful? Provide resources. Aside from your own content, provide access and leads to other content by making your posts rich with case study references, white papers, and additional references.

Providing resources and references is not only good for building an authority website, but also for ranking. Google’s algorithm uses these outside links to create context, something that allows it to cater more accurately to readers and understand your content intention.

5 Crucial Content Creation Tactics You Might be Missing Out On

5 Content Creation Tactics You Might be Missing Out | SEJ

As a marketer, no time is like the present to ripen and boost your content strategy.

As content marketing continues to grow and change, there are dozens of innovative, new content tactics developing that are proving to be very successful. Don’t miss out on some of the key ways that will help you make your content truly great this year (and beyond).

5 Killer Content Creation Tactics to Never, Ever Forget

Regardless of whether you’re a new marketer or an old content pro looking for a few new tricks, these content tactics can help you win big in content marketing this year.

5 Content Creation Tactics You Might be Missing Out | SEJ

1. Content Planning

It’s nearly impossible to become a content all-star if you don’t make time forcontent planning. Everything from Google’s extensive list of algorithm updates to its recently released Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines has proven that content is still incredibly important and, in light of that, one of the best ways to knock content out of the park is to dedicate some time to the careful planning of it. While “content planning” looks a little different for every marketer, all content planning strategies share a few basic fundamentals.

These are as follows:

  • Extensive brand knowledge: In order to plan content adequately, you have to have a deep understanding of who your brand is and what it’s trying to achieve.
  • Specific target personas: To plan content effectively, it’s important to know which target audience you’re trying to reach. Developing a marketing persona is an important step in the content planning process.
  • Idea generation: Once you’ve determined the specifics of your brand and your audience, it’s time to generate ideas. There are many ways to do this, varying from consulting sites like Quora, to polling users, or scanning a content analysis service like Buzzsumo for the most-shared content in your industry. It’s important to have a large pool of topic ideas in order to organize an actual content plan down the road.
  • Segmentation: Once you’ve gathered a large number of topic ideas, you’ll want to consider which ideas are best-suited to which delivery medium. For example, some may make a wonderful blog post while others lend themselves nicely to an infographic or podcast. Matching idea type with content type can help make your content more effective in the long run.
  • Planning: It’s finally time to put it all into an actual plan! There are dozensof free content calendar templates on the web, although many marketers simply use an excel or Google spreadsheet segmented into months and weeks. By using a system like this to organize and plan your ideas, you save yourself hassle, produce better content, and allow for more effective long-term planning.

2. Content Auditing

A content audit is a little bit like spring cleaning for your content. During a content audit, you review and evaluate each piece of your website’s content. This allows you to locate and identify content that is irrelevant, un-read, or stale and replace it with content that helps your site draw traffic. Employed by the best content marketers far and wide, regular content audits can help you improve your site’s SEO and earn a boost in visitors. While the term “content audit” may sound intimidating, you can rest assured that it’s actually quite simple.

While there are many complete tutorials on conducting content audits, I’ll give you a brief run-down here.

Conducting a Content Audit in 3 Steps

Step 1: Create a Spreadsheet

At its core, a content audit is predominantly data entry, so it’s important to have a system to keep the process organized. One of the best ways to do this is to create a spreadsheet. Most marketers choose to use Excel or Google Sheets for this. The spreadsheet should contain the following categories: URL, date audited, page title, page description, page content, keyword(s) targeted, alt tags, last updated, and internal link(s).

Step 2: Compile a Full List of Pages

Once you’ve created your spreadsheet, you’ll need to organize the pages you plan to audit. The easiest way to do this is to head to Google Analytics. From the “Behavior” tab, navigate to the “All Pages” section. This will provide you with a list of the pages on your site. You may want to pull the URLs from the most popular pages first in order to assure that you’re auditing the content on your most visited pages first.

Locate the “page” column and navigate to the button next to the page title. This will provide you with the page URL, which you should then copy into your spreadsheet. Repeat this step for every page on your site. If you use WordPress, you can do this by pasting the edit URL for each page into your spreadsheet.

Step 3: Start Reviewing

Once you’ve compiled a full list of your pages, it’s time to start your content audit. To do this, you’ll want to review the following pieces of each page and mark the results of each evaluation on your spreadsheet:

  • Page URL and title: Is your page title unique and descriptive? Does it use your target keywords organically? Is your page URL text rather than a random string of numbers? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, going back and fixing the problem can make your site markedly stronger.
  • Page description: Is your page description succinct, easy to read, and informative? Does it read well for people and search engines? Does it use relevant keywords?
  • Page content: For every page on your site, the content should be valuable, relevant, current, and helpful. It should be free of typos and grammar mistakes and, as a general rule, each page on your site should feature at least 300 words of content. This includes “About Us” pages and the like.
  • Keyword use: Are you using target keywords often enough without keyword stuffing?
  • Alt tags: Each image on your page should have a title and alt tag. These tags should use relevant keywords.
  • Last update: As a general rule, pages should be updated every 24 months. If you find a page that’s been updated less frequently than that, revising it can help your site’s SEO.
  • Internal links: Each page on your site should feature at least 2-3 internal links. These should point to other content-rich pages within your site.

3. Social Media Management

Roughly 2.1 billion people maintain social media accounts and social networks earned an estimated $8.3 billion on advertising in 2015 alone. In light of that, it’s clear that social media is an important tool for marketers who want to improve their content strategies. By building and maintaining a variety of social media accounts (on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, for example) marketers can expand their content’s reach, earn new leads, make new connections, and conduct better industry research.

Social media should be a large priority throughout the new year. This means maintaining an active presence on social media by posting often and engaging users by responding to comments, offering polls, soliciting user-generated content, and sharing content through multiple channels. Be careful not to create a social media account you can’t adequately maintain, as a stagnant social media account is often worse than no content at all.

4. Interactive Content Creation

We’ve known for some time that content variation is important and that visual content, in particular, is incredibly powerful, but what about interactive content? Now more than ever, users want to feel involved in their favorite companies’ content, which means that interactive content is a must in 2016. For those of you who are unfamiliar with interactive content, there are several main types:

  • Assessments (quizzes, calculators, etc.): These are probably the most common forms of interactive content. Made popular by sites like Facebook and Buzzfeed (remember the “Which Twilight Character Are You?” quizzes?), quizzes can be used for everything from fun to serious, marketing-focused self-evaluation. Helpful for understanding and evaluating a given group of users, quizzes and assessments can help you poll users for content ideas and gain feedback on the functionality of your site and content as a whole.
  • Infographics: Infographics straddle the line between straight-up visual content and full-blown interactive content. Designed to deliver a large amount of information in a small package, infographics (and their moving counterparts Gifographics) are a great way to provide concentrated value to readers. As a general rule, infographics earn more views and more shares than virtually any other type of content, which makes them a fantastic choice for the marketer who wants to get their feet wet with interactive content.
  • Idea generators: Designed with convenience and functionality in mind, idea generators are the perfect tool for readers who need a little help with idea generation. Take HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator, for example. You simply input a bit of information and the interactive generator helps you come up with a unique, interesting idea that’s all your own. How’s that for interactive and valuable?

5. Custom Landing Pages

Often associated with bad promotions and over sales-y sites, custom landing pages have gotten a bad reputation for years. Fortunately, smart marketers know that, when used correctly, custom landing pages have the potential to provide a huge SEO and traffic boost for a website.

The reason landing pages are so important is they provide the essential function of giving users a designated spot external of your actual website to gain information and complete the desired action. Because of this, they’re essential to effective content marketing. Whether you’re trying to sell a workshop or generate leads for your email subscription list, a well-designed landing page can do a respectable amount of legwork for your overall goal.

To ensure your landing pages are working as well as possible for you, remember the following things:

  • Shorter is better: In the world of landing pages, the less flowery language you use, the higher your conversions will be. Because landing pages are designed to be short, sweet, and to-the-point, an uncluttered design with nothing but the needed information will generally outperform a clunky page with too many extras.
  • Actionable content rules all: A landing page is no place for wishy-washy content that fails to get to the point. Instead, ensure your landing page offers high-quality text and a strong CTA. This step, while it may seem simple, can be huge in terms of increasing your conversions and helping readers take desired actions.
  • Coordinate your hyperlinks: Ideally, a landing page should be a one-stop shop, but if you must have hyperlinks leading away from your page, it’s important to be intentional about them. If you’re going to offer links that lead out of your landing page funnel, it’s important that the links you provide serve some other purpose, like leading readers into a separate yet equally valuable funnel.
  • Make conversion obvious: Again, simpler is better. When readers come to your landing page, they should be able to determine, in a matter of seconds, what you want them to do. If your goal is to have them enter an email, make the subscription box prominent, obvious, and easy to use. If you want them to click, show them exactly where to do it. If you want them to share content, give them limited options and a strong reason for doing so. Being direct about your conversion goals will help them come true.
  • Make it appealing: Above almost all else, your landing page should look great. This means it should be easy to navigate, free of broken features, cohesive with your larger site design, and generally well-functioning and attractive. Bad designs earn high bounce rates and keeping yours elegant will help you produce more conversions.

Conclusion

It’s never too late to beef up your content tactics. By employing these five innovative content tactics, you can ensure you’re getting the most value possible from your content strategy, while also providing useful and relevant material for your readers. While we’re sure to see the climate of content marketing undergo some big changes in the next year, these five tips provide long-lasting value for your content strategy.

Source – SEJ

Twitter Changes Home Pages To Give Timeline Of Top Tweets

Twitter’s homepage has been updated on mobile and desktop versions to give not-logged-in users a taste of what’s new in their country.

rvlsoft / Shutterstock.com

Not signed into Twitter? Not everyone is — and Twitter recognizes that it can still create a custom user experience when one is not seeing tweets from people they follow. Logged-off users will still be able to benefit from Twitter content on mobile devices, seeing stories and conversations that would be relevant to them, the company announced today. This home-based timeline that will be rolled out to 23 countries makes even the logged-out experience more interactive and personalized, giving localized news, play-by-play game discussions and time-sensitive content, speaking to the core strengths of the microblogging platform.

 

The Twitter.com homepage will also be updated, allowing visitors to get a news-like experience so they can explore topics as they happen. Content will be geotargeted and based on other past Twitter activity. Tweets are selected and accounts are shown through a combination of manual and algorithmic curation, with location being a factor in determining which activity to surface.

twitter-homepage-redesign

This certainly enhances the user experience; the previous page would encourage signups to Twitter, but did not show why the Twitter experience was worth exploring. It’s an interesting tactic and one that could potentially bring new users who are curious to learn what the social network really is all about.

 

Source – MarketinLand.com

How do Facebook’s ads drive search traffic?

How do Facebook’s ads drive search traffic?

According to a new study released by Facebook this past December, Cross-Channel Planning: Making Search Work Harder, Facebook’s ads do drive search traffic – sometimes.

This study summarized 23 “conversion lift” studies – which are Facebook’s bid to provide the digital ad business with a more holistic alternative to traditional last-click attribution – from July to September 2015.

Participants in the study came from a variety of consumer sectors – including automotive, financial, and travel – with spend above $10,000 a month that were also willing to share traffic and conversion data with Facebook.

Here are highlights, plus my own take on what the data means.

Only one in four campaigns sees any Facebook-search effect

A mere 25 percent of campaigns studied actually saw any statistically significant increase in search referral traffic.

Across the entire group, search lift in search referral traffic was 1.8 percent with a standard deviation of six percent.

facebook-search-fickr-16897659844_38719de8cb_b

Does this mean that three out of four search marketers are wasting their time buying Facebook clicks? Possibly. Unfortunately, the study doesn’t say much about this high failure rate.

Was the lack of search referral traffic due to the nature of the business, the campaigns, the ads themselves, or some other unknown variable?

Obviously, some brands are more likely to drive search referral traffic than others, so it would have been more helpful if Facebook had revealed additional information about the profile of each business.

Also, if other marketing mix models are any guide to interpreting results, there may be a requirement of a very high investment in social advertising in order to overcome the background noise from other marketing and drive measurable search lift.

My teams see a much tighter correlation between paid media outside search and lift in search volume when the display/social/video budget is significant in relation to search.

Facebook can depress paid search CPCs

Even with the foregoing question unanswered, it’s clear that some brands can use Facebook to achieve some efficiency in paid search. Facebook’s data shows that some marketers can use Facebook to drive down paid search cost per clicks (CPCs).

“When Facebook paid media was introduced into the marketing mix, consumers were more likely to search for branded keywords and in some cases less likely to search for unbranded keywords.

For (one advertiser) 97 percent of the incremental paid search visits were in the form of branded keywords. As a result, we saw that Facebook ads make search ads 1.8 percent more efficient, largely as a result of this change in consumer search behavior.”

My guess is that to a lesser extent the brand created through social (and other forms of paid media) also increases the click-through rate (CTR) and therefore the quality score of generic keywords, resulting in a cost savings.

“For brands in Automotive, Financial Services, and Retail, we found that Facebook paid media caused statistically significant lift in lower-funnel KPIs these advertisers care about, including online and offline sales. Lift in these KPIs varied widely, ranging from flat to 79 percent. For one large retailer, the majority of this sales lift came from increased basket size.”

If the study data is valid, it will likely be celebrated by search marketers, who are always looking for a way to reduce click costs.

Why this matters

Facebook’s study is intended to put the company in a better position to argue that any increased share of budget it receives will be offset by lower CPCs – at least among those industry verticals buying lots of unbranded keywords. Only time will tell if this argument is successful in terms of prying loose more budget for Facebook campaigns.

money-flickr-652560_960_720

What is clear – at least in my mind – is the idea that many marketers who’ve not yet experimented with Facebook paid media should be testing the effects of paid social spend and determining for themselves what the effects are on CPC. And more importantly, return on investment and return on advertising spend.

As you likely know from reading my ClickZ columns, I’m a big believer in the power of Facebook Custom Audiences. I have seen it used to great effect and believe it to be the wave of the future, along with similar products now offered by Twitter and Google as well.

It’s also critical for traditional search marketers to begin to regard paid social with more respect than it’s been traditionally accorded and coordinate appropriately. Copy, creative, campaign timing, and messaging should be aligned across Google, Facebook, and any other platforms required for reaching one’s target audience.

For some, measuring the direct effects of Facebook on search marketing KPIs may prove a challenge, but that’s only an argument for making sure that the marketing models are sophisticated enough to take full account of the real relationship between social and search that Facebook’s study points to.

There are also really powerful ways of targeting in Facebook using both custom audiences and other targeting parameters in conjunction using  the Audience Overlap feature, which I’ll cover in the future column.

Source – ClickZ.com

This week in digital: Periscope in your Tweets and apps in your Uber

This week’s news includes Twitter’s integration of Periscope, The White House’s new Snapchat account and Uber’s updated API program.

This week almost every major social network –  FacebookTwitterPinterest and Snapchat – had something new to share. Here, we rounded up their major updates to help you keep abreast of what’s going on in the digital marketing space.

Twitter integrates Periscope into news feed

A year after purchasing Periscope, Twitter started allowing the live-streaming platform to silently autoplay in both timelines and individual Tweets. Videos will begin to play sound when users tap on them.

This in-line Periscope feature came with the last update of the Twitter for iOS app. It will soon be available for Android and the Web, as well.

Twitter Periscope

It seems that Twitter is becoming Facebook’s twin. Aside from the integration of Periscope, which functions like Facebook’s autoplay video, Twitter plans to go beyond its 140-character limit.

Twitter has always been associated with its short messages. With all these platform changes, will Twitter gain users or lose its identity?

The White House joins Snapchat

Obama’s White House is known for utilizing social media. Not surprisingly, The White House joined Snapchat, as well, just a day before the President delivered his final State of the Union address on January 12.

The White House posted 25 videos to on Tuesday, such as Michelle Obama’s greetings, in hope to connect with young adults.

Snapchat - Michelle Obama

Snapchat has around 100 million daily active users and is reportedly looking to gain more of the older-than-35 crowd. As Snapchat goes more mainstream, political advertising on the platform has been ramping up over the past few months. Some of the 2016 presidential candidates using the platform include:

  • Carly Fiorina: carlyforamerica
  • Lindsey Graham: LindseyGrahamSC
  • Martin O’Malley: GovernorOMalley
  • Rand Paul: SenatorRandPaul
  • Rick Perry: GovernorPerry
  • Marco Rubio: marcorubio16

 

 

Uber connects riders with third-party apps through Trip Experiences

With a new program called Trip Experience, third-party apps and services can access Uber’sapplication programming interface (API) and then serve riders customized content. Everything looks ideal in Uber’s blog post, such as 10-minute playlists for a 10-minute trip, turning on the heat when you’re headed home, and insights and offers at your destination.

But will riders be bombarded with ads and promotional content? Uber explained in the post that if users don’t find the content useful, they will be able to turn off the feature on an app-by-app basis.

Pinterest to personalize its email campaigns

Through a partnership with SparkPost, Pinterest is going to move beyond batch emails. In the New Year, the platform wants to execute an entirely multichannel strategy, customizing messages for each channel based on individual behaviors.

The collaboration with SparkPost could help Pinterest extend its personalized feeling of the website to email.

Facebook expands Mentions and Live to Android

Facebook also had news this week, making Mentions and Live available to public figures using Android.

Mentions, an app available for public figures using iOS back in 2014, allows celebrities to stay in touch with fans by posting updates, sharing photos or videos, or hosting a live Q&A. Live is a live-streaming feature within the app. For now, only users with verified pages can access Mentions, butmany in the industry predict that Facebook will open the app to the public at some point. By then, the social giant will have more video inventory to advertise on.

Wences Casares

In addition to the updates from major social networks, this week PayPal added Bitcoin veteran Wences Casares to its board; Taco Bell named Marisa Thalberg as its new chief marketing officer (CMO); and Dennis Crowley, chief executive of Foursquare, relinquished his title and will become the company’s executive chairman.

Source – ClickZ.com

Digital, news, social, technology

Facebook in India: Can’t give it away

“WHO could possibly be against this?”, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s boss, asked in an editorial in the Times of India on December 28th. The “this” in question is “Free Basics”, a programme that gives its users free access to Facebook and a handful of other online services on their smartphones in 36 poor countries. According to Mr Zuckerberg, Free Basics acts as a gateway drug to the internet: half of those who first experience going online through the service start paying for full internet access within a month. Though the programme is promoted by Facebook, its costs are borne by the mobile-telecoms operators it works with—in the case of India, Reliance Communications, the country’s fourth-largest.

As it turns out, plenty of people are against Free Basics. They include everyone from India’s internet-and-mobile-industry body (of which Facebook is itself a member) to a ragtag group of volunteer activists who mustered almost 400,000 people to write to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) as part of a public consultation on whether mobile operators should be allowed to charge different amounts for different forms of data. At stake is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing internet markets outside China, which bars foreign digital services such as Facebook from entering. Around a quarter of the Indian population—or 300m people—were online at the end of 2014, and the number is expected to double by 2020.

Critics of the programme say that Facebook’s generosity is cover for a landgrab. They argue that Free Basics is a walled garden of Facebook-approved content, that it breaches consumer privacy by sucking up all the data generated by users of the service, and that it is anticompetitive to boot. Moreover, critics fear that if new internet users are merely Facebook users, other online businesses will have no choice but to operate within Facebook’s world. Nandan Nilekani, an Indian tech luminary opposed to Free Basics, suggests that, instead, the government subsidise a monthly allowance of free mobile data for each user.

Facebook counters that the programme is open to all-comers that meet certain technical requirements, that user data are stored for only 90 days, and that there is no profit motive: the service does not include advertising. As for suppressing local competition, Facebook argues, “there is no greater threat to local innovation than leaving people offline.” If, as Mr Zuckerberg says, Free Basics users quickly graduate to paying for full internet service, India’s ferociously competitive mobile operators should provide it cheaply. And if Free Basics proved popular there would be little to stop India’s big media and e-commerce groups from creating rival services to attract new surfers to their web offerings.

Over the past few weeks, Facebook has run an extensive campaign with full-page ads in Indian newspapers touting Free Basics. Newspapers, blogs and television channels have presented arguments and counterarguments every day. Even All India Bakchod, a popular comedy collective, got into the act. The group’s video arguing against Free Basics has been watched 800,000 times on YouTube—and another 350,000 on Facebook itself.

Activists in India won early victories in 2015, leading Facebook to change the name of its service from internet.org, which they said was misleading, and forcing the company to accept more services than those it handpicks. In December the TRAI suspended Free Basics in India pending the results of its consultation. The TRAI has received 1.4m notes of support for Free Basics as part of this process, driven largely by an automated response tool Facebook used to gather support from its Indian users. But the regulator says it may have to disregard them, since they do not answer the question it is asking. The TRAI itself will deliver its verdict at the end of this month.

Source – Economist.com

7 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2016

2015 saw some significant shifts in how local businesses used social media for marketing, many of which will continue in 2016.

Below, I outline seven of the top trends taking place in social media and what local businesses can do to get their marketing message out using them.

1. Video Content

In 2016, expect to see a substantial increase in the use of videos for content marketing.

There are a variety of video types that you can employ to accomplish this task, which include:

  • Educational video. When you create an educational video, not only are you instructing your audience, but you are also marketing to them at the same time. One example is “Whiteboard Friday,” published by Moz, an SEO software firm.Whiteboard Friday, an example of educational video content.

    Whiteboard Friday: an example of educational video content.

  • Explainer videos. Explainer videos show viewers how to use your product. Pinterest, for instance, has an explainer video that demonstrates the benefits of using its social network.
  • Entertaining videos. To keep your audience entertained and engaged, you can create a series of short videos whose sole purpose is for viewers to share. Buzzfeedhas done an excellent job of this by combining entertainment, education, and shareable content in a series of short recipe videos — all without selling anything. The page that houses the videos has attracted more than 15 million likes on Facebook alone.An example of short, entertaining videos.

    An example of short, entertaining videos created by Buzzfeed.

2. Pay for Exposure

In 2016, paying to advertise on social networks will become a must. Part of the reason is that organic social reach — those shares you receive from family and friends — are not as effective in marketing as they once were.

Paying for advertising allows you to reach a specific demographic rather than just relying on organic social reach alone. When you use Facebook’s advertising platform, for example, you can market to a particular age group, gender, location, and other parameters — something that a Facebook post shared organically cannot do.

3. Social Shopping

If patterns from previous years are any indication, social commerce — the act of selling via social networks — will likely increase in 2016.

For example, an Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500 report said that social commerce rose 26 percent from 2013 to 2014.

According to a report by MarketLive, an ecommerce platform, in Q2 of 2014, less than one percent of revenue could be attributed to social recommendations. By Q2 of 2015, that figure had increased 151 percent.

Additionally, Business Insider reported that ecommerce referrals by way of social media increased nearly 200 percent between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.

Part of the reason for this growth is that “buy buttons” have been showing up on social networks such as Pinterest and Twitter, allowing consumers to purchase from these sites directly.

Social media buy buttons.

Social media buy buttons.

To this point, in his article about buy buttons, Recode’s Jason Del Ray said that the conversion rate will improve by using the buy buttons because consumers are purchasing products directly from the social site itself.

Lastly, an infographic by Shopify, a social commerce platform, breaks down which social networks drive the most sales and lists their respective conversion rates.

4. Marketing Automation

2016 is the year to create a marketing automation strategy for your business, to make your job easier.

Marketing automation is a software platform designed to help businesses market across multiple channels simultaneously. It alleviates the need to perform repetitive tasks such as sending emails or marketing on social media sites.

Local small businesses should consider using some form of marketing automation software to keep up with the growing amount of content they will need to deliver to their customers and prospects.

Numerous options are available, but choose the one best suited to your needs and that won’t break your budget.

The G2 Crowd website will help you find the right marketing automation software, based on your needs.

The G2 Crowd website will help you find the right marketing automation software, based on your needs and budget.

5. Facebook

Facebook will continue to be the dominant social media platform in 2016 but with some changes.

According to iStrategyLabs’ 2014 Facebook demographics report, Facebook’s fastest growing age demographic is people over the age of 55. Also, a PEW Research report on social media found that 56 percent of Internet users ages 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45 percent in 2013.

If you are looking to market to those 55 and older, then Facebook is where you should focus your marketing efforts.

6. Search

While most people still use search engines to find information, many are foregoing this route and are performing searches on social media sites instead.

Part of the reason is that users are growing weary of text-heavy search results and gravitating toward visual content such as images or videos, each of which you are more likely to find on social media.

Users also search on social media because they know that they will receive information such as feedback, comments, and reviews from actual users more so than with a search engine.

While search engines are not going away anytime soon, it is important for small businesses to think about how they can be found both on search engines and in social media.

7. Mobile Marketing

The need to have a mobile-friendly website is not a new concept. For years, marketers have been telling businesses that they need to optimize their sites for mobile users.

Today, however, mobile-optimization is the norm and no longer an item to place on the back burner, to address later.

This past summer, Google announced that, for the first time mobile searches surpassed desktop searches. Add to this the fact that, in 2015, Google’s algorithm started to penalize sites that were not optimized for mobile devices.

As such, in 2016, expect to see companies putting more efforts into marketing to mobile users.

Source – WebMarketingToday.com

25 Ways to Use Twitter for Marketing

Although marketing through social media is the norm, Twitter is still an enigma for many. I can’t recount just how many times I have heard business owners and marketers tell me, “I just don’t get Twitter.”

In this article, I help you understand Twitter’s place in the marketing mix, first by explaining its value and then by listing 25 ways to use it.

Twitter’s Value for Marketing

Allow me to illustrate Twitter’s value with the following analogies:

Front door and foyer. If you were to liken social media to a house, Facebook would be the family room, LinkedIn the home office, and a blog the library.

Where does that leave Twitter? As the front door and foyer. It’s a place to meet people, break the ice, and, if you so desire, invite them into your “home” by connecting via other social networks, to deepen the relationship.

News ticker. Twitter is less a social network and more a news and information network. Think of it as the news ticker that you see scrolling continuously across the screen on the 24-hour news channels.

Swiss Army knife. I call Twitter the “Swiss Army knife” of social media. Like the classic penknife, which contains a multifaceted toolset designed to serve a variety of functions, you can use Twitter for multiple purposes, depending on your business goals and needs.

With that understanding, here are 25 ways to make Twitter a social media marketing staple.

1. Choose an Appropriate Username

Your username (@username) is your Twitter handle. If you associate the account with your company, try using your business name or a variation of it. Twitter allows up to 15 characters for usernames.

2. Create a Brand-centric Profile

Your profile consists of a bio, avatar, and cover images. It should tell the story of your business in a single glance, so select visual elements that best represent you.

B2B data provider Zoominfo uses creative imagery and its website color scheme in its Twitter profile.

B2B data provider Zoominfo uses creative imagery and its website color scheme in its Twitter profile.

Write a clear, concise bio — a description of your company in 160 characters or less — that describes your brand, products, and services, and that includes a link to your website or a landing page. Your business’s logo can function as the avatar.

3. Become a Good Listener

Listen first and tweet later is a good motto for using Twitter in a marketing context. Use Twitter advanced search or tools like HootSuite or Sprout Social to look for tweets that include your company name, products, and services. Also, follow your competitors and others in your industry, to see what they are tweeting.

4. Interact and Respond

Reply to tweets about your business, whether they are positive or negative, and do so quickly (within 24 hours). You can like and retweet positive messages, thank those who praise you, and address critical tweets in a helpful, respectful manner.

5. Tweet Often

Due to its ephemeral nature, a tweet you post now is forgotten quickly, which means you can post much more frequently than when using other social networks. While there is no magic number for how often you should tweet, once per day is a good place to start. You can then test different posting frequencies to see what works best. Twitter’s internal analytics platform and third-party tools such as Twitalyzer can help in that respect.

6. Keep Tweets Short

Even though Twitter has a 140-character limit, it’s a good idea to leave some space — 15-20 characters or so — for others who wish to retweet your post or add content.

Leave space for others who share and RT your content.

Leave space for others who share and RT your content.

7. Retweet and Mention Others

Passing along someone else’s tweet to your followers is a good way to build social capital and cultivate credibility. This practice can result in other people retweeting your content. Also, mention others in your tweets by including their @usernames. Positive tweets that contain relevant, personalized content can establish goodwill.

8. Create a Content Plan

Create a content calendar and schedule several consistent tweets over the course of a few days or weeks. Set aside certain days for particular types of tweets.

For example:

  • Monday – feature special promotions;
  • Tuesday – go behind the scenes of your business with photos or videos;
  • Wednesday – share how-to tips;
  • Thursday – spotlight trending industry topics;
  • Friday – focus on customers and employees.

Not all of the content you share needs to be original. Curating content from third-party sources can work as well.

9. Find Influencers

Use influence measurement tools such as KloutTwellow, or Commun.it to qualify the influence of your followers and others, and then engage with those who have a greater degree of authority.

Use sites like Commun.it to find, follow, and engage with influencers.

Use sites like Commun.it to find, follow, and engage with influencers.

10. Follow Relevant Users

Don’t follow everyone who follows you. Instead, focus on relevance. That would include following your customers who are on Twitter, others in your industry, influencers, people who share or retweet your content, and even competitors.

11. Focus on Follower Needs and Interests

People appreciate any information that solves a problem or answers a question. They also respond to tweets that inspire and entertain, so include both types in your content plan. Make your tweets purposeful and keep the needs and interests of followers in mind.

12. Share Media Mentions

Shares links anytime your business gets mentioned in the media — a habit that could lead to more attention from journalists and reporters.

13. Use Hashtags

A hashtag is a way to organize your tweets around a specific keyword or topic. It is native to Twitter, so use them often. Don’t use more than two or three per tweet, however.

Use hashtags to organize content around relevant topics.

Use hashtags to organize content around relevant topics.

Twitter hyperlinks the hashtags automatically, to reveal all the tweets associated with them. Clicking the link and viewing the tweets is a useful way to discover relevant content, which you may choose to share. It’s also a good way to find prospects who may have an interest in your business, products, or services.

14. ‘Like’ Tweets

Twitter recently changed the “Favorite tweet” option to “Like,” evidenced by the heart symbol. Use it to spotlight tweets from users who complement your business, products, or services, and who tweet or retweet your content.

Twitter recently changed "Favorites" to "Likes," evidenced by the heart icon.

Twitter recently changed “Favorites” to “Likes,” evidenced by the heart icon.

15. Create Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are curated groups of users segmented by category. You can create lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Lists give you a quick snapshot of what users are talking about and provide an organized way to stay in touch with loyal customers, influencers, or others in your industry.

16. Offer a ‘Twixclusive’

Offer your followers a “Twixclusive” — deals they can’t get anywhere else. It can lead to more followers, more sales, and more retweets.

17. Run a ‘Flock to Unlock’ Campaign

Twitter’s Flock to Unlock campaign is a way to incentivize your followers to perform a particular action in order to reveal a special deal. You can choose to disclose the deal in your initial tweet or keep it a secret, revealing it only after a certain criterion has been met, such as a specific number of retweets.

Create a "Flock to Unlock" campaign to incentivize engagement.

Create a “Flock to Unlock” campaign to incentivize engagement.

18. Promote Events

Use Twitter to promote special events and live-tweet the event while it’s happening. You can also tie into current events, when appropriate, to use as a hook for product promotion.

19. Include Different Media Types

Tweets that contain links, pictures, animated gifs, and videos get retweeted more than those that only contain text, so include various media types whenever possible.

20. Use Direct Messages

A direct message (DM) is a way Twitter users can communicate privately with each other. You may wish to use direct messages in cases where there is too much back and forth between you and a customer or when exchanges become too specific. (Twitter just removed the 140-character limit in DMs, making it ideal for conducting extended conversations.)

Ask the follower to send you a DM with contact information so you can respond via email or phone. Note that you can send and receive direct messages only from your followers, and vice-versa.

21. Integrate Twitter into your Website

Integrate your Twitter account into your website or blog. There are several ways to do this, including embedding tweets or using the Twitter share button and “Click to Tweet” button.

22. Advertise on Twitter

Twitter has two advertising options suited to small business budgets: Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets. Using these can get your posts seen by more people.

23. Incorporate Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards enable you to attach rich photos, videos, and media experience to tweets that drive traffic to your website. By adding a few lines of HTML code to your web page, users who tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to it that is visible to their followers.

An example of a Twitter Card showing multiple images.

An example of a Twitter Card showing multiple images.

24. Define Metrics and KPIs

It’s vital that you measure your Twitter engagement regarding its effect on your business goals. Think of these as KPIs that help monitor performance toward reaching your goals.

Here are some metrics and KPIs to consider:

  • Follower growth. How many new followers you get every day, week, or month;
  • Follower engagement. How many followers interact with your tweets;
  • Reach. How many users like or retweet your posts;
  • Traffic. How many people visit your site from Twitter;
  • Conversions. How many users sign up for your service or buy your product.

25. Host Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are scheduled hashtag discussions that focus on specific topics. Host a chat where customers can ask questions about your products or services, or discuss a topic of interest to them. Use tools like TweetChat or Twubs, to make chats easier to manage.

Source – WebMarketingToday.com