Social Ads: Everything You Need to Know

Social advertising. That\’s been the buzzword for a while hasn\’t it? Well, it\’s been one of the buzzwords that we like to throw around.

If you\’re a serious digital business (and who shouldn\’t be?) – you\’ve probably been talked to about social advertising, or if you\’re a digital/social agency, you\’ve probably discussed social advertising with your clients at some point in the last couple of months.

The discourse began of course, once Facebook reach plummeted, and people realized the free ride was over. Sure, you\’ll still find a ton of influencers and social gurus beating their chests on the sidewalk talking about how Facebook isn\’t dead, but they\’re leaving out the important part. Social isn\’t free.

It never has been. You\’ve always had to hire someone to run your social presence for you. It\’s always been a cost for you, except now – there\’s an add-on cost associated to it.

As supply remains the same and demand goes up, a product becomes more expensive. There is limited room that social networks have to work with when it comes to space for social ads, and while earlier it was easier and cheaper to get your word out, it\’s going to get a lot harder – in fact it already has.

Prepping for getting on board with social ads? You know visuals are important, so perhaps this infographic will come in handy for you and your design team.

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What\’s the Catch With Social Advertising?

There\’s no catch really. The reason it\’s come up with such a strong force is because there are thousands of posts that people are exposed to on all the networks that they\’re on, and it\’s hard to break through the clutter. With everyone fighting for space – it becomes harder to get your messaging out, and therefore social networks are making you bid for it.

The higher you bid – the more likely it is that your customer will see your content, the more likely you are to generate a lead.

What Networks Should You Advertise On?

Most people take the easy route and jump onto Facebook for their advertising needs. There\’s a vast amount of content on Facebook ads that\’s circulating the internet and you\’ll find that it\’s easiest to find help for Facebook ads than for any other platform (except perhaps Google AdWords). Most people have a presence on Facebook and therefore they try and amplify it through social ads.

Not something you should do.

Every network has its own benefits. And please, it\’s not true that if you\’ve got a B2B business you should only focus on LinkedIn and if you\’re B2C you should only focus on Facebook. It\’s all about the targeting. You might be a high end pen manufacturer, and while you are a B2C company in nature, you\’ll probably find better leads if you were to advertise on LinkedIn and target CXOs.

Think about what would work best for you.

How Much Should You Spend?

There\’s no \”set\” minimum spend amount, and it\’s not true that you won\’t get any results with $20 or that you\’ll get results only with $2,000. Ensure that your targeting is incredibly sharp, incredibly straightforward and you\’ll notice that both $20 and $2,000 will get you results – differing magnitudes of course.

Personally, I\’d advise you to spend $100 – $200 in your first burst, and then figure out if it\’s getting you the desired results or not, and tweak accordingly. It\’s hard to measure anything on any network before spending a certain amount that can give you a big enough data set to work with.

All said and done – social advertising is something you\’re going to have to get your hands dirty with, so you may as well dive in as early as possible and develop an expertise in it before your competitors do and sweep up your customer base!

7 Ways To Achieve Direct Response Marketing

Online marketing can go in millions of different directions, but the one marketers seem to stick with the most is direct response marketing.

This type of marketing inspires an immediate response from consumers. You might want more people to sign up for your e-newsletters, attend your webinars or simply buy something from you. With this type of marketing, you can easily judge the success of your efforts based on the level of response.

There are two basic approaches to this type of marketing: the one-shot and the campaign. Both have the ability to deliver good results and drive up your profits, but different companies will find different uses for each approach.

The one-shot is a narrowly targeted ad, email, postcard or letter that urges consumers to act, almost always to buy. Marketers first find a problem that their product or service will solve and then work tirelessly to define the target audience so they can be sure their ad is going to the right people. Once they have a problem and target carved out, marketers create a strong ad to put in front of consumers.

The campaign approach begins like the one-shot, with a strong marketing ad. However, the goal is different. With the campaign, you don’t need to sell products and services right away. Instead, you want people to join your mailing and emailing lists so you can send them frequent updates, newsletters and coupons, which encourages purchasing over a period of time.

Lead

So now that you know what direct response marketing is, let’s take a look at seven awesome direct response strategies that will help your profits grow.

Begin With A Story

One of the best ways to put a consumer into the right frame of mind for your product or service is to open with a story or narrative. You’ll often see this in infomercial ads that feature people confronted by a problem who use a product or service to solve a problem.

Life Alert, the medical alert system with the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” slogan illustrates this strategy. This ad includes a testimonial from a concerned daughter who wants to be sure that her elderly mother, who lives alone, is safe. The alert system has a button on a lanyard that can be worn around the mother’s neck. If she falls and can’t get to the phone, she presses the button, which calls for an ambulance.

Life

A story gives readers something to connect with. They can relate to the situation and will feel the need to solve the problem similar to the person in the ad. This story reaches out to all sons and daughters with elderly relatives who live alone and offers peace of mind.

Become An Expert In Attention-Interest-Action

John Caples, one of the leading names in the history of advertising, swore by the research-based approach, what he called “scientific advertising.” With this in mind, he developed the Attention-Interest-Action (AIA) plan, the three-step process to creating a knock-out ad. Here’s what it means:

  • Attention: Get the audience’s attention and fast!
  • Interest: Keep that attention and further pique it.
  • Action: Present them with a valid reason to act and tell them how to do it.

Caples always placed great emphasis on the action part and deemed any campaign that failed to deliver actions as a dud, no matter how cool and creative it looked.

Define The Ultimate Appeal

When someone is purchasing a product or service, what is the one thing about the product or service that is the most appealing? Maybe a woman buys a designer skirt to appear more professional to her peers. A student might buy a laptop that suits all of his gaming needs.

Dior

Your goal is to determine the most appealing aspect of your product and push that into the faces of your potential consumers. A good marketer will appeal to the human emotions that are timeless and shared by nearly all consumers. Try some of these:

  • Make more/save money
  • Prestige
  • Better health
  • Bring comfort (both physical and emotional)
  • Reduce fat
  • Banish worrying thoughts

There are many more, but these appeals are considered most common. Luxury car dealers want to appeal to a buyer’s sense of prestige, showing them how their cars will bring drivers prestige. Diet pills and exercise equipment sellers like to show before-and-after pictures of people who have lost weight and body fat by using either a diet pill or exercising on a certain machine.

Message, Not Medium

Have you ever seen a commercial that made you laugh, but you can’t remember what they were actually selling? Or have you ever stared too long admiring an image, but completely forgot to look at what the image was supposed to sell?

These are examples of mediums overtaking the message. Though a funny ad or a striking image can instantly capture a person’s attention, it can also overpower the ad and cause viewers to completely miss the message.

The trick is to harmonise the message with the medium. Keep the Attention aspect of AIA interesting, but not too interesting that your viewers never make it past the medium. Keep typeface simple and don’t let the colours overtake the ad. Let it all work together to showcase your message.

Offer An Incentive

Companies like Steve Madden and ModCloth use two-step direct response campaign when they offer discounts to consumers just for signing up for emails. Consumers agree to receive updates and are given a small coupon to entice them to buy. Once they see the product and are satisfied with it, they’ll be more apt to buy from the company again.

ModCloth

Software service and other types of services like to offer free-trials to encourage people to sign up. After trying the product, consumers will be better convinced to purchase a subscription or an ongoing service.

If you’re worried about getting people to the site in the first place, remember that you can advertise these incentives online and in print ads. Include your website address so people know where to find you.

Try AdWords

When it comes to direct response, nothing is more direct than Google AdWords. This pay-per-click service allows you to target certain keywords. When someone types in those keywords, banner ads will appear alongside the search results. They’ll even appear on Google’s partnership websites.

You’ll know you’re getting your name into the hands of people who are actively searching for your product or service. You also won’t pay until someone clicks the ad to your site.

There are a few different types of ads to try:

  • Offer that incentive mentioned above: “Sign up for get 15% off your first purchase.”
  • Make a bold, yet true statement or warning: “Don’t buy this without reading this first.”
  • Pose a question: “Thinking about remodelling your kitchen?”

Test Everything in Direct Response Marketing

And when you’re done, test it again.

Think for a minute about Coca Cola’s current ad campaign. Is it the same campaign they ran last year? Five years ago? Absolutely not. Coca Cola knows that its market is constantly changing and the only way to know if you’re reaching them is to test your websites, headlines, ad copies and images again and again.

Coca

Take advantage of free programs like Google Analytics and Pingdom to monitor your website and sales progress. Test different markets until you see a definite upturn in your sales.

In short, direct response marketing is something of an art form. With the right components, you can create something memorable that will stick with viewers long after they’re put down the ad or closed their email.

10 Twitter Tips For Community Managers

Skeptics have been predicting the decline of Twitter for a long time now but recent news have just proven otherwise. Twitter users have grown by 16 million in the second quarter, so marketers, hold your horses – don\’t get off the Twitter bandwagon just yet. We\’ve put together a list of 10 Twitter tips for community managers to stay ahead of your Twitter game and here\’s a few that you should pay special attention to:

Creating Twitter Lists

We can\’t stress this enough – Twitter lists are a great way for marketers to keep abreast of updates related to you industry. Individual influencers that are active on Twitter are great people to add to your list as they constantly share the latest updates and news in your industry that are worth noting. Websites that produce great content should also be added to your lists for latest trends to take note of.

Compulsive Following

One habit that we notice across social media is the excessive “follows” that some users subject themselves to, in the hopes of garnering follows back. An individual, brand, website or business that has 40k followers and are following 40k users aren\’t seen as influential or popular. Instead, it comes across as a desperate measure to increase your follower count – which isn’t what social media is about – yet we see this occurring on on Twitter and Instagram a lot.

The guys at Twitter themselves find this to be spam and has even enforced rules to prevent this happening. \”Follow for follow\” is certainly not cool at all. So please, don\’t.

Give Your Employees a Voice

Many big brands use Twitter as an online source of communication for a brand and it\’s customers. When there are multiple people running a Twitter account due to the high volumes of conversation, it\’s always a good practice to include the first name or initials at the back of tweets. Customers react better when they are aware that they are conversing with personalities, rather than just a brand.

The guys at UPS are doing a great job on social customer service!

Listening Tool

If you aren’t using your brand’s Twitter account to address customer queries, it’s always great to check in on a weekly basis using social listening tools to gather topics of discussion amongst your audiences. When you’re aware of what your audiences are talking about, tweet about things that interest them and get a conversation going. That’s the basis of social media right?

Analyzing Content Marketing Strategies and Challenges

We have been discussing content forever now! While it has been hailed as the king, the queen and what not, it is surprising that not much is said about its creators – the content marketers and the challenges faced by them.

While we cannot deny the importance of content marketing (and that it is here to stay), the job of a content marketer has become highly challenging and demanding. With a very fine line between the job profiles, a lot of us (read: social media managers) deal with this role-reversal each day. Apart from being responsible for maintaining a highly engaging brand identity, we are also entrusted to roll out exciting content even quickly, each day every day!

We at Beta21 love to share firsthand experiences and for this story we got in touch with Serena Mariani, who shared with us interesting insights on how to battle this aspect. Serena is an award-winning, social media marketer and a digital project manager based in London. A citizen of the Internet since 1992, Serena received the Mark Hanson Award 2012 as “Best Social Media Communicator under 30”. In 6 years of agency and in-house experience, she has been part of teams helping brands like Max Factor, Subway, and Vanish to successfully transition to the era of content marketing and social media. We tossed the following question to Serena and this is what she had to say:

Brands are trying to churn out a greater amount of content for their audience today. Is this tactic really helpful to brands to gain the reach they are looking for? 

[box type=”shadow” ] There are different aspects to this issue, so let me articulate with different examples. Content marketing is an area in which the “less is more” rule does not necessarily apply – in fact, maintaining an adequate output of content is generally rewarded in SEO terms (search engines love fresh content) and can help keep the brand top of mind for your customers/consumers. An example: an informative weekly blog post providing your B2B clients with valuable industry information they\’d take much more time to gather and digest; or a daily useful tip on your Facebook page – these are good examples of “more is more”. [/box]

Serena

[box type=”shadow” ] However, the temptation to churn out generic content that does not add any value for your customers just for the sake of it hoping to generate “more views” has to be resisted. The risk is to alienate your audience and ultimately lose relevance in an overcrowded, noisy media environment – it happened with traditional advertising and it could happen quickly to relatively new marketing tools. I recently wrote about how the decline in organic Facebook reach is paradoxically a good thing for (better) content marketing. In short – if what you are going to publish is just “filler” content, think again – lose it, or even better, think of what could make it better. No one likes to see their Facebook feed (or inbox) full of “Happy Friday!” silly posts, and the “Mute/Unsubscribe” button is always just a click away. [/box]

What is the content marketing strategy taken by you for your clients in relation to the above mentioned issue?

[box type=”shadow” ] When working with clients on their content marketing strategy, I try and adopt a fully customized approach, adapted to the specific brand and area of operations. This also applies to volume and frequency of the content output. In short, you have to choose what is best for your specific brand. Sometimes, especially in niche, technical industries, less is really more – a small quantity of long form, high-quality content pieces (for examples, white papers or sector studies) can be more effective than a daily presence over a number of social media. [/box]

What are the challenges faced by you as a Content Marketer (on a constant basis) and what are the steps taken to overcome them?

[box type=”shadow” ] With a new social network or platform coming up almost every day, I would say that the #1 challenge for a content marketer today is to make tough, but necessary strategic choices.  New platforms (or new tools inside old platforms: for instance, Instagram introducing videos) pose as much of an opportunity as they represent a challenge.

A few questions to ask before jumping into another arena – Which channels are the most relevant (in terms of demographics, reach, potential) for my brand/client and for its specific objectives? Is my content plan sustainable with the current resources if I stretch it over more channels? Will the results be measurable and relevant?

This brings us to challenge #2 – proving the ROI of Content Marketing for your company/brand.  The way to overcome this is simple – just remember content marketing IS marketing. A robust content plan is not a series of topics and formats: it starts from the objectives that the brand wants to achieve and draws a path to achieving them, and includes clear KPIs for performance analysis. “Increasing newsletter sign up by 15% in 6 months” is an objective – “publishing three blog posts weekly” is not. [/box]

Serena

Do you have any tips for content marketers that have just started out?

[box type=”shadow” ] Three things about content marketing I wish somebody had told me before – but it is ok, I learned them from experience instead:

1. Start with the objectives, set ambitious but realistic goals, and go achieve them (see previous answer).

2. There is no such thing as a “boring” subject or industry – don\’t shy away from jobs or assignments because they sound less sexy than writing jokes or posting pictures of funny animals a\’ la Buzzfeed. In fact, technical or niche subjects offer great opportunities to provide value to customers through a well-thought content marketing strategy.  For example, UK insurance company Simply Business is a great B2B content marketing success story.

3. It\’s about the story, not (just) the technology. Content marketing must start from good insights about your audience – what do your customers, prospects and stakeholders care and want to know about? It is of vital importance to nail this and decline it into a sustainable content plan, rather than jumping on the next social network bandwagon. [/box]

Serena

Any noteworthy tools that you use as part of your content marketing and would want to recommend to our audience?

[box type=”shadow” ] On a daily basis, I use Hootsuite to manage a number of different social media channels on behalf of clients – remember, a good mobile up s a must for an online publishing and engagement platform as we live more and more on the go, and this includes content managers! For industry knowledge and professional development, I find the Smart Insights website and newsletters always informative and up-to-date. They also offer excellent content marketing plan templates and evaluation tools. Other must reads include Copyblogger and Moz (aka SeoMoz). You may also want to look up the Content Marketing curriculum at General Assembly, where I am also an instructor. [/box]

Follow Serena on @social_serena or go through her digital marketing blog for some hands on tips! We also highly recommend her food & travel blog, so check it out too!

What is Your Pinterest Marketing Strategy?

Everybody is always looking for the next best thing in social media, to latch on to and Pinterest has caught the attention of several brands as the next best thing and owing to Uniqlo’s Gold Lion winning campaign, it’s now the best time to jump on to pinterest before this ship sails.

Before jumping onto the Pinterest bandwagon, an organization needs to weigh the pros and cons to understand whether or not they are getting into this for all the right reasons. In previous articles, we have always talked about brands being where there audience is and because all social media presence must support and encourage growth,  if Pinterest is where your product/service needs to be then, it’s time to have a good strategy in place. Strategy is the framework built to keep your goals together and the inner components of this framework are made of objectives and activities. Before beginning to build your Pinterest marketing strategy or framework, it’s important to zero in on the goal which can be either of the following:

Increase Sales

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The most common of the goals with all efforts directly mapped with revenue earned. Organizations create a strategy to convert browsers into buyers, and with Pinterest’s growing popularity, this may not be so hard to achieve. According to wishpond.com 69% of people who have visited Pinterest have found an item they have purchased or wanted to purchase. Pinterest gets products and services seen and the best way to get customers to participate in a sale could be store coupons, online coupons or group coupons. Because Pinterest has hundreds of coupon pinners and coupon boards, your sales will go up at an excellent rate. Additionally the Pin it button is a Pinterest business feature. You’ve undoubtedly seen these buttons on numerous sites and pages, and they can be put next to all of the images of your products on your site. Since pinning doesn’t require any major effort, if anyone likes your product, the button makes it super easy to share on Pinterest and this pin it button can easily lead back to your website as well. Finally contests are a fantastic way to increase sales for any organization on social media and Pinterest is no exception. You can generate tons of repins, likes and shares through the excitement generated by the contest.

Increase Reach

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According to Nymag.com, Pinterest drives more web traffic to other sites than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.  Robert J. Moore explains in the article that the Pinterest concept aptly, “It’s aspirational. People pin products they’d love to own, recipes they want to cook, and projects they want to tackle.” The popularity of these aspirational images/pins can only mean people will always be on the lookout for related items, willing to be redirected elsewhere from the pinned image itself, so ensure you always put a description of the image you are pinning, so it appears in search results and add a call to action to the pin description. Another great way of redirecting customers to your website would be to add the company logo and the URL as text in the image itself, that way the customer has all the information he/she will need right in front of them. A few simple modifications like addition of more images and with the pin it button next to every image will mean easy pinning. Add your website address to your description on your profile and verify the website to unlock Pinterest’s free analytics tool to check how much traffic you are getting from Pinterest and how you can get more.

Connectivity Between Website And Social Platforms 

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A critical factor to success for social media websites is definitely connectivity. Websites can’t get away by being operational individually, and Pinterest has identified that flaw to their benefit. Pinterest now connects with Facebook, Twitter and your website enabling users to automatically post new pins to their Facebook news feed for others to see. This means more eyes from other channels get access to the images you post to Pinterest.  This kind of connectivity can ensure that your audience is fully engaged helping you build connections across all of your networks.

Discover Trends

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Pinterest is a great place to discover trends. From marketing to fashion and beyond, you can discover what people love to share. You can follow your followers to see what inspires them. This gives you an opportunity to understand what’s trending today and use that information to position your own offers and products. Pinterest gives an insight into the lifestyle a person either lives or aspires to live. It is easy to find out what food they like, what cars they want to drive, the holidays they enjoyed and the books or movies they love, and this information is highly valuable for crowdsourcing.  While introducing new products or lines, you can gauge its popularity by the number of repins it will get. You can ask your followers to pin an image of themselves with the product, this will encourage customers to pin about your brand as well as inspire repins.

With every brand out there adopting Pinterest, it would be best to know the value behind being here. If it’s just a matter of being where everybody else is, then you’re probably better off investing in some other channel. But if there is value in your brand being on Pinterest and you are still having a hard time wrapping your head around its appeal? Then think of Pinterest as a much-loved and a user-friendly way for people to move through content, whether on their desktop or on a smartphone. It’s a visually appealing way for users to interact with products and ideas.

7 Social Media Trends and What The Hell To Do With Them

Social media marketers are forever on the lookout for trends that will not just work the best for their brand, but also make them stand out amongst their competitors.

Considering 42% adults online are present on multiple social networking sites for personal and business purposes; staying out dated is totally out of question.  So we decided to give you a comprehensive look at the top social media trends this year and that\’s not all! We came up with a few dos and don\’ts for each to help you create an effective strategy.

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1. Content Repurposing

Content Repurposing is all about using existing content to create another piece of content so that it looks different from the original, but conveys the same message. With content marketing still ruling the digital world, content repurposing is a growing trend this year because it saves on a lot of time that marketers will have to invest in creating unique content.

Facts You Should Know

  • Businesses that blog attract 67% more leads than those who don\’t.
  • 58% of B2B companies are increasing their content marketing budget this year to avoid being hit by Google updates like Penguin and Panda. (Source)

We spoke to Alex Stojkovic, Marketing and Communications Manager of Blue Pencil Information Security Inc., who shared his thoughts on content repurposing: “In my opinion, especially in this day and age, \”quality content\” will always surpass \”quantity content.\” I\’m sure many will argue my opinion, however the bottom line is, the more people who enjoy, discuss, like, retweet and share your quality content, the greater the chance it will get picked up. Imagine for a second, you generate a \”home-run\” article, photo, infograph or document that gets picked up by a substantially larger website? With your content being picked up, you gain more exposure, more backlinks and consequently more viewership.\”

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2. Customer Service

Brands are increasingly using platforms like Facebook and Twitter to offer customer services to their audience instead of the conventional help lines. People these days don\’t really prefer being put on hold by customer service help lines and think social profiles are the best places to raise their opinions and issues for them to be resolved.

Facts You Should Know

  • 42% of audience use social media for raising issues related to brand products and services, and expect a 60 minute response time.
  • Out of the 42%, 24% of the audience above 12 years of age expect a 30 minute response time irrespective of their time of contact. (Source)

3. Video Marketing

Video marketing is a trend that involves incorporating videos in your marketing strategy to promote your products/ services instead of using the conventional advertisements and textual content.

Studies show that videos are received 50x more by the audience than textual content. It has a proven record of being an effective way to market themselves for non-profit organizations.

Facts You Should Know

  • About 100 hours of videos are uploaded every minute on YouTube.
  • Online video audience is nearly 84.5% in the US.
  • By 2017, videos will account for 69% of consumer internet traffic.
  • Branded Vines have 4 times the impact YouTube videos do. (source: comScore and Cisco)

4. Storytelling

Storytelling is a popular trend amongst marketers from 2013. Here they promote their brand\’s products/ services in a series of events through a narrative. Who doesn\’t like a good story?

Facts You Should Know     

  • About 50% of internet users look for interesting stories on social media during their work break hours.
  • A relatable story line on why the audience needs your products/ services is 50x more effective in increasing your sales than directly nudging them to make a purchase.

5. Social Advertising

The use of advertisements on the various social media platforms to promote the brand\’s products and services amongst a larger audience. It\’s a great way to reach out to millions of people at a relatively low cost. 

Facts You Should Know

  • According to Analytic Partners, 83% of Facebook users find advertisements intrusive in their News Feed as they are usually not of any use to them.
  • Twitter ads are received well by many according to Forbes, as they take up very less space on the Home Page.
  • Instagram advertising is being increasingly used for creating brand awareness.

Lior Degani, Co- Founder of Swayy shared with us the important factors of social advertising: \”Advertising on social media must include ROI measurement, so it’s important to A/B test your campaigns to figure out where you should invest more. You need to always use UTM parameters in the inbound links you add to your social media posts. For example, create a separate link to each variation of your promoted post using Google URL Builder, or use a different link to the same post you share on Facebook and Twitter to see the conversion differences among the networks for this specific post.\”

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6. Instagram Marketing

Marketers are increasingly using Instagram to promote their existing products/ services and offer teasers to their upcoming ones. Incorporating this trend in your strategy, is a guaranteed way to connect with your audience better and encourage more interaction.

Because if you haven\’t been keeping a tab on social media news, Instagram recently hit 200 million active users , and that accounts for a major chunk of almost every brand\’s target audience.

Facts You Should Know

  • Instagram has more than 200 million active users, including all age groups.
  • It is by far the best source of user generated content (UGC).
  • A majority of customers engage with brands indirectly through tags on Instagram.

7. Pinterest Marketing

One of the latest social platforms to be used increasingly by marketers is Pinterest. They use their accounts to curate pins relevant to their brands, also to promote their existing and upcoming lines of products/ services amongst a large target audience. Pinterest is a great platform to not only curate stories/ content around your brand but also the number of active users is significantly high.

Facts You Should Know

  • Pinterest is not a sales platform, it\’s a platform to drive in sales by sharing brand values, products, etc with the audience.
  • Pins that include a customized description along with the relevant hashtags, have a better reach than those which don\’t.
  • Verified accounts show up better on search results than a regular account.

5 Questions Marketers Just Can\’t Get Right in the SMQuiz

For those of you who haven’t been under a rock for the last few weeks, you’d know that the Social Marketer’s Quiz has been going on in full force. And when we announced the launch of the quiz, we mentioned that one of the best things to come out of this quiz would be the insights. The ability to actually find out what marketers think is right, what’s wrong, what works and what doesn’t.

In one of the Social Media Hangouts, we discussed that we’d be talking about a couple of the insights that we’ve generated from this quiz, and when I was going through the data today, I came across some really interesting snippets of information. I decided to put together a quick list this week, that talks about five questions that marketers just can’t seem to get right.

1. A former employee reveals sensitive data on your Facebook page, acting as a whistle blower. The post starts a small crisis on your end. What do you do?

This one was interesting. It’s from our Ethics Round, and to me at least, the answer seemed fairly straightforward. Let me walk you through the options:

  • Treat the post like one of a regular community member. The fact that he’s been an employee doesn’t change your duties of professionally representing the brand and you need to remain fair and transparent.
  • Delete the comment since this is a special case and the data has unlawfully been posted. Directly contact the employee and alert the legal department immediately.
  • Try to downplay the incident by posting other updates according to your regular content calendar and try to avoid bringing too much attention to the issue.
  • Get a senior person involved, this is above your pay grade.

What would you have picked? Here\’s what the split in the quiz was:

What What would you have picked?

Now ethics questions are mostly open-ended. In this case however, our ethics expert told us that this is definitely a special case. The employee was under contract, and after leaving if they start leaking secrets, the company is well within their right to remove this sensitive information that it doesn\’t want leaked through such a channel.

In spite of that, close to 36% of marketers thought it would be okay to treat this post like a regular community post. What I found a little interesting was that about 10% of marketers would go to a senior staff member and ask what the right way to handle this would be.

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2. How do you handle a lack of interesting content on your page when not a lot is happening in the industry?

I pulled this one from our Content Round, called the Content Courtyard, and it poses an interesting dilemma for marketers. Here are the options for this question:

  • Post simple text updates and keep the flow going.
  • Stop posting until worthy content appears, you don\’t want to give your fans trash.
  • Don\’t post mediocre updates, but devote more time to craft original stories and content.
  • Ask your fans what they\’d like to see since there\’s not a lot happening, they can tell you what kind of content would be good.

What would you have picked? Here\’s what the split in the quiz was:

What What would you have picked?

This one for me, really speaks volumes about the attitude that marketers have today. So there’s a little rut in the industry. Not a lot of news, interesting ideas or opinions are surfacing for your brand to talk about. And this happens very often. Every company and manager hit this a couple of times every quarter. Do you turn to your fans every single time to ask what they’d like to see?

Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to direct the content?

As the graphic illustrates – the right way to deal with this would be to focus on crafting better content, posting better stories, creating more original content and ideas. If it\’s smart and speaks to your target audience, they\’ll like it. Do a couple of re-caps on what\’s happened lately, perhaps make a couple of predictions for the future, highlight some of the best work your company has done. But the second you go down the route of asking your fans what they want to see, you go down the route of letting them decide what content you should post.

I found it interesting that 2.16% of marketers thought that it would be a good idea to stop posting completely. Insignificant amount – but those guys are still out there!

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3. What’s the CTR of the ad below?

C\'mon, C\’mon, you know what the CTR of this ad is right?

This question is brought to you courtesy of one of the tougher rounds in the quiz, the Analytics round. I was expecting a couple of people to fumble with this question, but was definitely not expecting what I discovered here:

Not Not even kidding.

Just 58.43% of marketers were able to get this right. That\’s more than half, but that\’s a crazy low number. CTRs are something that marketers are always obsessing over, and it brings up a point that Kristy Hughes raised in her interview with us earlier, that marketers are a little too quick to rely on tools and aren\’t able to calculate social metrics themselves.

Perhaps marketers are just used to saying incredibly low CTRs for their ads, which is why they automatically gravitated towards the 0.01% answer.

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4. Google Analytics tells you that 1,000 people came to a particular page on your website, and 250 of them went on to view another page from that page. What\’s the bounce rate of the page?

The Analytics Round was a little hard, I agree – but there were a couple of questions in there that I put in to ease the pain. Not all of them went according to plan, much like Operation Barbarossa, Germany\’s invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II.

Bounce rates are another metric that marketers obsess over. How many people are coming to my landing page and just running away? I want that number to be as low as possible, therefore my obsession with low bounce rates. However, here\’s what the responses for that question looked like:

I\'m I\’m yet to see a page in my life with a bounce rate of 750%.

I understand the confusion between 25% and 75%. I can comprehend it. It\’s exactly why I put those two in there, but there are marketers who truly believe that a bounce rate of 250% or 750% is possible. The calculation of bounce rate isn\’t hard, in fact – we had a question around how bounce rate is calculated. To me – the problem here isn\’t about the calculation, it\’s about the concept of bounce rate itself, given that the question had numbers like 1,000 and 250 involved.

Another argument for marketers relying too heavily on tools and not knowing how the metrics work?

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5. A moderator of a Facebook page cannot do the following:

How well acquainted are you with the various Facebook admin roles? Are you aware of what an Analyst can\’t do on a Facebook page and what the Editor can do? For companies and brands that have more than one person managing a Facebook page, knowing the roles and their capabilities becomes incredibly important.

Here are the options we gave all the marketers who took this quiz:

  • Send messages as the page.
  • Create ads.
  • Create and delete posts on the page.
  • See who posted as the page.

What would you have picked? Here\’s what the split between the marketers is as of now:

Probably Probably the most surprising result of all.

Only 14.92% of marketers who took the quiz got this question right. That\’s all. Most marketers thought that Moderators can\’t create ads, which is a fairly rational decision to make since you\’d expect a moderator to be a person who essentially responds to comments and tries to keep order on the page. Perhaps Facebook\’s roles and their capabilities are to blame for this one. 😉

Regardless, it\’s important to know who can do what, and 85.08% of marketers aren\’t clear about Facebook\’s various roles for page managers.

That was eye-opening! I\’m not as shocked about the last one than I am about marketers not being able to calculate CTR, and understand the concept of Bounce Rate. If you haven\’t taken the quiz yet – you should definitely go ahead and take it! Are you smarter than the near 2,000 marketers who have taken our quiz so far? Prove it!

We\’ll regularly release such insights and we\’re planning on an extensive infographic very soon! Stay tuned. 🙂

Here\’s Why Most Internet Marketers Are Wrong

Andrew Harasewych is one of the most popular faces in the marketing world on Google+ and beyond, primarily because of his live hangout every Saturday at 9 PM EST where he strips for viewers, free of charge.

Just kidding. Andrew\’s one of the smartest people in social marketing that I\’ve come across. What\’s he good at? Engagement? Facebook ads? G+ marketing? SEO? What\’s his speciality, you ask? The best part is – that as far as I\’m aware, he doesn\’t have a speciality. His speciality is basically being a no-nonsense marketer who knows a huge amount of every aspect of it. That\’s probably why he\’s COO of Weal Media, a digital public relations firm and internet marketing agency.

That, coupled with the fact that he\’s a reliable and trustworthy person, is why I asked him to be the expert on the General Knowledge section of the Social Marketer\’s Quiz.

Earlier this week, I stalked his new house, waited till his guard was down and then took him prisoner. This interview took place in the basement of his home.

Since you oversee a community of 150,000+ marketers – you\’re exposed to a lot of views, opinions and ideas. What\’s the biggest misconception that marketers have today?

That they are even marketers to begin with. Okay, I kid. But seriously… there are a LOT of people out there, who played around with Facebook in their spare time, and decided to open a marketing firm. And what happens? We all get dragged down with them. I am, however, just so happy about how the Social Media Strategy community has turned out so far, from weekly Hangouts, which are growing in audience, to the great discussions with excellent marketers, businesses, and independent professionals.

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But I get off point here. As to the biggest misconception that I notice among even the more legitimate marketers, is this idea that EVERYONE and their mother has to blog, regardless of whether they can even generate new and original content themselves. Instead of immediately charging a business for writing content, you need to analyze the person\’s or business\’s budget, needs, goals, and target demographic(s).

Perhaps there is another marketing avenue which would require less of an investment with more benefit? Every business is different, thus we can’t expect the same answer to be the best for every business.

How do you, personally, stay up to date with the latest trends, news and opinions online?

I don’t sleep.

I’d say that’s a joke, but as I write this, my wife is begging me to come to bed. I’ve been able to keep up on most things simply by visiting the communities each morning and evening to moderate posts. Sure, I still have a few newsletter and aggregator subscriptions, but more and more I’ve been finding that Google Plus really is the best place for me to find updates on the news and information I need, and discuss it with people who really know what they are talking about when it comes to… well, just about anything.

The last round in the quiz on general knowledge has been a tough one to crack, what do you think that says about marketers, and is it a reason for worry?

What I’ve noticed with any quiz that offers free prizes or discounts, you get a lot of… freebie hunters who are not at all the target demographic of the quiz, and although they can get through some of it, they get stopped up when it comes to more specific questions and information they otherwise would never have come across. That aside, there are definitely marketers who will still trip up on at least half of those questions, if not more.

I admit, there were two, that when I was reviewing them, had me thinking for quite a bit (and one of those I finally had to google to verify myself!). That’s just the nature of the business. There are so many competing social networks, news sources, bloggers, and even local “Mom-and-Pop” brick and mortar businesses are all interacting with people on a global scale, meaning that there is an information overload for the average person, let alone the average marketer, spending most of their days online.

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Did any particular questions in the quiz stand out for you as being incredibly interesting or useful?

Well, it’s actually one of the questions that I immediately knew the answer to, as to whether Facebook or Twitter have a better SEO benefit for your business. It’s NEITHER! There is no significant ranking benefit to using either Facebook or Twitter (as of writing this interview, who knows how things may change in the future, that’s half the fun). And that is a VERY common misconception with “Marketers” and “SEO professionals” that do not know as much as they think they do.

That, or they are purposely trying to mislead potential clients on their site, by claiming that their social media engagement will improve the search rankings for their business (unless they use Google+, which is the only way to currently boost potential ranking thanks to social search). There are still certain industries that are VERY underrepresented on Google+, giving a small business an amazing foot in the door right now, if they just work out a Google+ strategy!

If you had to choose between a marketer who had incredible knowledge around marketing on various social platforms, but wasn\’t good with staying up to date with marketing news and trends and a marketer who had above average knowledge on marketing on various platforms and was always on the ball with the latest changes, trends and insights – who would you pick and why?

I don’t want this answer to come off like I am copping out of the question, so if I HAVE to pick one, I’d say the first: general knowledge on marketing on various platforms may be more important than being up to date on every last trend.

This is a tough question though, and even now, I already don’t like my selection. I’ve always been a huge fan of the “many hat” approach. No, I don’t mean white hat and black hat, I mean being able to fill multiple roles and positions within a company, whether it’s for a client, or for yourself. And that does require not only having that general knowledge base, but also keeping up on current trends.

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Social Networks do all have their differences (did you know you can, without being shamed, use up to 30 hashtags on a single Instagram post? Do that on Google+, and you’ll have the villagers chasing you down with pitchforks), but in the end, A LOT of marketing is just common sense and building relationships. It’s something that carries over all platforms, and it’s something anyone with a pulse and a typing finger can do. You just need to be willing to listen, and then… /gasp/ respond accordingly and build the relationship!

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Due to the quality of his responses, I let Andrew go. He is now freely roaming the wild countryside of G+.

Andrew (and a TON of other well known experts) hang around in SMHangout\’s Google+ communities. You should also tune into their Social Media Hangouts, that are littered with great advice from the usual suspects as well as some great guest experts.

A Guide To Creating The Perfect Feedback Form

Everyone has a feedback form on their website, but not a lot of them put enough thought behind one. Most of the feedback forms that I see on websites and Facebook pages tend to have very similar characteristics. Enter your name, e-mail address, message and also solve this CAPTCHA created by Satan himself.

So how do you create the perfect feedback form? Or at least a really good one.

It\’s an important factor of your website to pay attention to, given that this is where you\’ll be generating sales leads, answering questions, getting feedback, growing your network, getting requests, it\’s essentially the contact portal in many ways between you and your customers.

For the purpose of illustration, I\’m going to use Circus Social\’s feedback form that\’s on their Facebook page and website. It was created using this tool.

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When I think about a perfect feedback form, there are four elements that I always like to pay attention to.

  • The header – The captivating visual at the top.
  • The form fields – What visitors are going to be filling out.
  • Messaging – Before your customers connect with you, are you connecting them as well?
  • Misc. – A collection of elements on your feedback form that complete the \”experience\” of connectivity.

None of these are more important than the other – I feel each of them should be given an equal amount of weightage. If either of these are lacking in quality, it won\’t make your customer not reach out to you perhaps, but it will make a dent in their experience, their expectations and their overall opinion of you and your brand.

So how do you sharpen these areas?

The Header

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Here\’s where the magic happens. Your header should ideally be a place where you\’ve got a really catchy image, something that reflects your brand\’s persona. If you\’re an insurance company, please don\’t use a stock photo of a man shaking someone else\’s hand. You can do better. What\’s your brand about? What sets you apart? What do you do better than other insurance companies?

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For Circus Social – the pitch of the brand has always been that like the troupe of a circus, each person brings something unique to the table that helps their clients. The banner has everyone in the team, having a good time and being jovial. It makes someone reaching out understand what the \”tone\” of the company is most likely to be.

And beneath that – a catchy little one liner that tells visitors what they should reach out to you for. Should they get in touch for technical questions? Questions about new hires? Anything at all? It\’s important that make it very clear what this particular form is for, especially if you have a number of forms that are handled by different people.

The Form Fields

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The general rule for this is always to keep it simple. You don\’t want a long drawn out series of questions and entries here that ask your visitors about their date of birth, where they last had lunch and what their preferred choice of pasta sauce is. It\’s irrelevant. Ask only what truly matters in the very first interaction.

Hi, what\’s your name and how I can help?

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In this particular instance, for Circus Social, there\’s a slightly personal connection formed. You can choose to be connected to a particular person if you\’d like. If you already know someone from the team, perfect. If you\’re reaching out because you saw something someone in the team mentioned – great! If you\’re looking to reach out to no one in particular, just pick someone who looks friendliest in the banner. 😉

It\’s little things like this that make feedback forms a little bit of fun, add a slight personal touch and excite the visitor – and eventually add up to making it a perfect feedback form.

Misc. Elements and Messaging

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So you have the banner and you have your form fields. That cover the basic elements of your feedback form, and that\’s where most people usually stop. But there\’s always that question, \”What else?\”

And it\’s hard to find where to stop. The two very basic things that you should definitely have in your feedback forms after you\’re done with your form fields and banner image:

  • Alternate ways your visitors can contact you.
  • Links to your social profiles.
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As in the example above, it\’s also useful to add either a map that locates where your business is located, or perhaps just a picture of where the business is. It adds that little \”natural\” element that makes the business appear a lot more real. Now of course, huge companies like Apple, Microsoft need not do this – but for smaller brands, entrepreneurs, cafes and the rest – it\’s not something that you can skip out on.

And finally of course – who does the message go to? Hopefully not the CEO. All messages from the feedback form should go to someone in your communications department, or someone in charge of client relations / sales if your team isn\’t quite big enough to have its own marketing department. If you\’re an entrepreneur, you\’ll be very tempted to have all the messages come to you. Be very cautious, if you feel you\’ll have the time and bandwidth to reply to these messages – go for it.

If you\’re looking to set up a perfect feedback form – here\’s the tool that you should use to create one!

User Personas: Enhance Your Digital And Social Content

Developing user personas for your website will help you design a website or social campaign that resonates with visitors, encourages content sharing and makes content useful for your target audience. User personas are essentially fictitious characters that represent the various different types of people that visit your website. These representations should be based on qualitative and some quantitative user research and web analytics

Benefits Of Personas

Personas help to focus decisions surrounding site components by adding a layer of real-world consideration to the conversation. They make it easier to prioritize features and particular content by determining what the most important goal of your site is.

By mapping user goal they can help build a developed and useful Information Architecture for your site. The design and overall look of your site should be targeted to enhance your user’s experience. The copy must be written to the appropriate audiences. Overall, personas allow you to create a personalized and more engaging experience of your website or social content.

Best Practices For Developing Personas

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Personas development belongs at the beginning of the project, as personas can inform site functionality, help uncover gaps, or highlight new opportunities. You may develop one or more personas for a project but limit yourself to the main audiences for the site.

The goal of personas is not represent all audiences or address all needs of the website but instead to focus on the major needs of the most important user groups.

Elements of A Persona

Personas generally include the following key pieces of information:

  • Persona Group (i.e. Supporter)
  • Fictional name
  • Job titles and major responsibilities
  • Demographics such as age, education, ethnicity and family status
  • The goals and tasks they are trying to complete using the site
  • Their physical, social and technological environment
  • A quote that sums up what matters most to the persona as it relates to your site
  • Casual pictures representing that user group

Cancer Research UK

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At Cancer Research UK, we have a variety of personas and each agile scrum works to fulfill the needs of these users. Because the content on the Cancer Research UK site can be varied from supporters looking to enter Race for Life, to patients looking for early diagnosis information, it makes it ever more important that we target our content towards our users.

The benefits of targeting users means that user goals are aligned with business goals and because this is mapped at the beginning of projects it aims to devalue unnecessary content and make web pages the most useful they can be.

A key part of checking whether your content is matching your user goals is to carry out User Acceptance Testing. At Cancer Research UK, we regularly use UAT to watch our targeted persona complete basic goals in a comfortable, usability lab. If the majority of those tested can find what they need from the content then you know you are heading in the right direction.

So instead of assuming you know your audience; do your research and get your users readily involved in your content so that you know you are creating social and digital content that is worthwhile.