Posts Tagged ‘Social Media Marketing’

The SEO Journey – How long before you start seeing results?

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Guest post by Jack Dawson.

Everyone implementing SEO usually has the same question – how long before I rank first for my keywords? This question does not have a simple answer, mostly because it’s not in itself a legitimate question. It comes from misunderstanding the current nature of SEO and it is stuck in the rudiments of what SEO used to be.

Old vs. new SEO

In the past, SEO was about identifying the best keywords for businesses. These are relevant words with little competition and high organic traffic. You had to pick out 5-10 of those “golden keywords” which would help you capture the majority of your online traffic. If you’re still telling your SEO professionals that you want first rank for this keyword or that, then you’re stuck in the old paradigm.

Old SEO tactics vs. new SEO strategies

Today, there isn’t a single keyword, or keyword group that can solely drive most of your traffic, especially when long-tail search is considered. If your focus is on a group of keywords, you’re missing out on the majority of users looking for you.

Currently, natural language searches drive SEO, i.e., users are searching in much the same way they would ask a normal question, instead of inserting a keyword or two. Google in fact offers voice search options, so that people can speak out their questions. This allows people conveniently to carry out more detailed searches that will provide them with better results.

The result is long-tail keywords, which are less competitive and therefore easier to rank on. They are also more relevant and hence lead to higher conversion rates. Therefore, you should base your ranking objective on a larger group of natural language queries, which is constantly shifting.

Rankings are important, but not quite

There are more important metrics you should focus on rather than just ranking. If you stay focused on getting top rankings, you will have a skewed view of the really important things. It’s not just about getting top rankings. Your rank is worthless if it does not come with leads, conversions and revenue increases, which are the real outcomes.

How to do SEO in 2015

The right question

Rank is a mere output, your SEO firm/professional should be focused on these more than just getting you higher ranking. As you search for the right SEO partner, your question shouldn’t be how long it will take for you to get the top rank but rather how long before efforts culminate in leads, conversions and sales.

How long SEO takes to work

The real answer to this question is highly subjective. A lot of factors come into play to make SEO efforts effective, or not. A few of those include:

  • How long the website has existed
  • How much and what SEO techniques had been applied in the past
  • The layout and general shape of the website
  • How much content is uploaded on the site
  • The website’s link profile, among many others

Even when there are two businesses in the same field competing for the same target market, SEO won’t work the same for both of them because of the above differences. However, here is a brief outline of the kind of results to expect from a valid SEO strategy over time:

Month #1

Website audit, discovery and research, keyword strategy building and general planning. If you get through the research fast, you can start to make technical changes by the first month of operation. For larger or more complicated sites, the research and discovery phase can spill over longer than a month.

Month #2

Implementation of major technical SEO techniques. Basing on results of the audit, you will make modifications to the site. Sometimes, the site requires a complete overhaul, a process that can take several months. Other SEO techniques include building one’s link profile and content marketing, which you can carry out along with technical changes.

During this phase, and especially if a complete overhaul is in progress, you’re likely to see little or no results for SEO efforts. You must complete the changes before seeing any real impact.

Month #3

Major focus on improvement of content and content marketing. These include whitepapers, FAQ section updates, blogging, expanding product descriptions and company information. Where the budget is not a severely limiting factor, you can do this simultaneously with the technical overhaul phase; otherwise technical changes come first.

You may see some ranking improvements towards the end of the month. This may or may not lead to conversion and sales improvement yet, but if they’re not there quite yet that’s okay.

Month #4

Involves a continuation of content creation, technical optimization and link profile building, including link audits to clean out bad/low quality links. This month should produce a notable rise in rankings, traffic as well as lead generation. It won’t be as big as what you’d see after a year, but enough to show that efforts are paying off.

Month #5

By now, social media management and marketing is also part of the SEO strategy to increase direct traffic and promote content created. This simultaneously builds up healthy natural links. Content creation goes on, coupled with PR and other media outreach techniques (collectively, these techniques encompass a web presence optimization strategy). You’ll see more traffic by now, and your leads and conversions should also be increasing.

Month #6

If you have traffic of 5,000 visitors monthly and higher, you can begin to direct SEO efforts towards conversion rate improvement. This converts the traffic coming in to leads and eventually sales. After this, your strategy revolves around content creation and promotion. Any other specific techniques will differ depending on the nature of your business, your website and your business goals.

Conclusion

The majority of SEO professionals and firms tell clients that results are visible in 4-6 months. This is an accurate description, but clients must remember that results only start to show within this time, growing as the time passes. By the time your hit one year, your results should be significantly better than what you saw at the sixth month.

Also, you may notice a tapering in results after a certain point, after which SEO efforts will be directed at maintaining the results as opposed to improving them. The key is not to stop just because there aren’t any results in the first 2-3 months. The minimum budget time for SEO should be 6-12 months, because SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. Plan properly and invest knowing you’re in for the long haul.

Author bio: Jack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at BigDropInc.com. He works at a design, branding and marketing firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other developers and consumers on platforms.

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106 More Amazing Social Media and Marketing Statistics for 2014 and 2015

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

As Wallis Simpson, Dutchess of Windsor, famously said, “You can never be too rich or too thin. Or have too many social media marketing statistics.”

Well, she actually only said the first part (which is debatable), but certainly would have said the second part (which isn’t) had social media been around in the 1930s.

The importance of emotion in B2B marketing

Image credit: Business 2 Community

How effective is social media in comparison to other digital marketing channels? Do consumers actually listen to brands? Do brands actually listen to consumers? How does B2B social media marketing differ in effectiveness from B2C use? Which network drives half of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs?

What type of posts generate the most engagement on Facebook? What do 91% of consumers check daily? What do more than half of marketers identify as their most critical areas of focus over the next 12 months?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in 106 digital marketing facts (well, mostly) and statistics from two dozen sources.

21 Social Media Statistics

1. 54% of B2B marketers said they have generated leads from social media. (CMO)

2. Among the largest social media sites, YouTube drives the most highly engaged website traffic (with visitors overall spending on average nearly four minutes and visiting three pages on target sites), followed in order by Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Reddit and StumbleUpon drive the least engaged visitors. (VentureBeat)

3. Is the value of social media marketing for b2c brand overrated? 68% of U.S. consumers say they “mostly” or “always” ignore brand posts on every social network. And 83% of consumers say they have had a “bad experience with social media marketing.” (Experience: The Blog)

4. Brand ads on social networks were among the least trusted form of advertising, significantly lower than trust in ads viewed in traditional media. (Experience: The Blog)

5. Among “prestige” consumer brands, over the past four years, less than 0.25% of new customers were acquired through Facebook and less than .01% from Twitter; this compares to almost 10% for paid search and 7% for email marketing. (Experience: The Blog)

6. And yet – 80% of brands advertised on social media sites in 2014. (DashBurst)

7. But – social media can be effective for selling things to marketers. Marketing professionals are 50% more likely than consumers in general to like a brand on Facebook, 400% more likely to follow brands on Twitter, 100% more likely to make a purchase as a result of seeing something on Facebook, and 150% more likely to have completed a purchase as a result of a tweet. (Experience: The Blog)

8. Only 20% of CMOs use social networks to engage and collaborate with customers. (MarketingLand)

9. But 24% of brand say they do “social listening.” (DashBurst)

10. Just 18% of consumers trust posts by brands or companies on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. (MediaPost)

11. While 78% of companies now have a dedicated social media team, only 26% integrate social media fully into their business strategies. (DashBurst)

12. Yet 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media- because 90% trust peer recommendations. But only 14% trust advertisements. (#Socialnomics 2014)

13. 82% of hyper growth SMBs say social media is effective for generating new leads. (Business 2 Community)

14. 58% of marketers indicate that their social media efforts have generated leads. (Believable.) Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC. (Not as believable.) (Business 2 Community)

15. You’ve likely seen the statistic that if Facebook were a country, it would be the third-most populous on earth. What you may not know is that WhatsApp would be #5 (followed by the U.S.), Google+ #7, LinkedIn #9, and Twitter the 10th largest country. (#Socialnomics 2014)

16. For online merchants, the average order value influenced by social media last year was $143.46. (AddShoppers)

17. Though 60% of people say they get their news from TV and 29% from newspapers, social media comes in third as a news source at 28%. It’s followed by radio at 19% and other print media at 6%. (Digital Information World)

18. Though most customer service requests (40%) still come through call centers, 18% now originate via email and 13% through “eService” (web, social and chat). Customer service requests through that eService channel are expected to grow 53% in the coming year. (Bluewolf)

19. 90% of enterprises say they use social media to respond to customer service inquiries–yet 58% of consumers who have tweeted about a bad experience never received a response from the offending company. (Bluewolf)

20. When they do respond, the average response time of brands on Twitter to user comments or complaints is nine hours. (Social Media Slant)

21. 75 of the top 100 brands have a presence on Google+. (Social Media Slant)

5 Digital Marketing Statistics

22. For the first time, marketers spent more to advertise on the Internet (a total of $42.8 billion) than they did for broadcast television in 2013. (MediaPost)

23. U.S.  marketers spent $12.8 billion on online display (banner) advertising in 2013–30% of the total online advertising spend. Retailers are the biggest spenders on display ads, accounting for 21% of total spending. (MediaPost)

24. However–just 32% of consumers say they trust online advertising of any type. Consumers trusted the messages in text message ads the least at 12%. (MediaPost)

25. 81% of marketing professionals believe that digital marketing technologies will cause their role to change within the next three years, but just 14% know how to “reinvent” themselves. (FierceCMO)

26. 76% of marketers say they need to be more data-focused to succeed, and 74% agree that “capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality.” Yet only 39% report using customer data and behavior patterns to shape marketing strategy in the past year. (FierceCMO)

8 Content Marketing Statistics

27. Marketers identified content marketing and social media engagement (each at 36%) among their top three digital marketing priorities for 2014. 31% included conversion rate optimization. Just 9% placed video marketing, and 2% connected TV, in their top priorities. (B2B Marketing Insider)

28. Consumer marketing is about mobile, B2B is about content. Asked what their organization’s “single most exciting opportunity” was for 2014, 22% of consumer marketers cited mobile, while just 10% of B2B marketers concurred. However, 24% of B2B marketers identified content marketing as their most exciting opportunity, compared to just 11% of B2C counterparts. (B2B Marketing Insider)

29. B2B purchasing decisions in general are taking longer and involving more people on the buying team. 58% of buyers say they spend more time researching than in the past; 53% rely more on peer recommendations; and 65% said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact. (Marketing Interactions)

30. 88% of business buyers say online content plays a major to moderate role in vendor selection, yet just 9% of respondents think of vendors as trusted sources of content (ouch!); the most influential types of content across both the awareness and evaluation phases of the buying journey are third-party validated research reports and studies. (MediaPost)

31. 68% of business buyers start their content sourcing at search engines and portals, 40% go to vendor websites (why, if only 9% trust them? Hmm…), and 25% are activated by an email from a trusted source or peer. (MediaPost)

32. The three most sought-after types of content by business buyers are comprehensive industry/category surveys and studies (52%); technical details about products and solutions (44%); and analyst reviews or recommendations (43%). (MediaPost)

33. Content plays a pivotal role in add-on buying decisions or supplemental purchases following an initial contract; 86% of B2B buyers frequently or sometimes use digital content to identify complementary or add-on products. (MediaPost)

34. B2B marketers spent an estimated $16.6 billion in 2014 on digital content publishing to acquire business leads, influence customer specifications, and educate and engage prospects. (MediaPost)

22 B2B Marketing Statistics

35. LinkedIn is the only platform the majority (62%) of B2B marketers consider to be effective; in second place is Twitter, with 50% of saying it is effective. (CMO)

36. Only 16 percent of B2B consumers prefer live webinars. (CMO)

37. The average B2B marketing budget is about 2% of revenue. (CMO)

38. Metrics matter. 88% of B2B CMOs say their C-suite peers turn to them for data and insight needed to strategize and plan, and 78% agree that marketing’s influence on corporate strategy is greater today than it was just two years ago. (CMO)

39. The highest paying marketing jobs are in B2B. (CMO)

40. 60% of all social media traffic to business to business websites come from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (SteamFeed)

41. 34% of tech companies have reduced their traditional advertising budget to fund digital marketing activities. (Only 34%?) (SteamFeed)

42. Just 6% of b2b buyers say that a prospective vendor’s social media activity has “a lot” of impact on their purchase decisions. 30% say it is “important but not a deal breaker.” (Content Marketing Institute)

43. On the other hand, 55% of buyers will eliminate a vendor from consideration if contact information and a phone number are not easy to find on the vendor’s website. (Content Marketing Institute)

44. The vast majority of buyers prefer to contact vendors through email (81 percent) or phone (58 percent). Just 17% want to use live chat and 9% social media. (Content Marketing Institute)

45. After visiting the home page and products/services pages, the most important next stop for b2b buyer’s is a prospective vendor’s “About Us” page. (Content Marketing Institute)

46. U.S. B2B marketers are projected to spend more than $100 billion on social media advertising by 2017. (Gerardo Lara on Pinterest)

47. The top social networks and social media tactics used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn and Facebook (each used by 86% of marketers), followed by Twitter (81%), blogging (64%), annd YouTube (53%). At the other end of the spectrum, less than 10% use Foursquare, podcasting, or Quora. (Gerardo Lara on Pinterest)

48. More than 80% of B2B marketers say their top goal in social media is increased brand awareness. (Gerardo Lara on Pinterest)

49. 53% of B2B Fortune 500 companies use marketing automation. (Marketing Interactions)

50. 63% of industrial supplies buyers say they purchase online, making it the most popular purchasing channel. Paper catalogs are least important. (Internet Retailer)

51. 54% of B2B buyers say they spend half or more of the industrial supply budgets online, and 39% say they plan to increase the amount they spend online in the coming year. (Internet Retailer)

52. 67% of industrial buyers say it is “very” or “extremely” important for suppliers to offer the ability to purchase on their websites. Just 7% say this is “not important.” (Internet Retailer)

53. Emotion plays a surprisingly large role in B2B purchases. Even when buyers see the value to the business, only 14% perceive a real difference in supplier offerings. (Business 2 Community)

54. But 71% of B2B buyers who see a personal value will buy a product. (Business 2 Community)

55. And 68% of buyers who see a personal value will pay a higher price for business product or service–but just 8% of buyers who see no personal value will pay the higher price. (Business 2 Community)

56. More than two-thirds of tech B2B searches occur outside of North America. (Social Media Slant)

6 Twitter Statistics

57. “Twitter users who see tweets from B2B tech brands are more likely to visit the sites of these brands. A recent study found that Twitter users visit B2B tech brand sites at a higher rate (59%) compared to average Internet users (40%), illustrating the strong presence of a B2B audience on Twitter. (CMO)

58. There is 50% crossover of members on Instagram and Twitter. (SteamFeed)

59. Tweets with 1-2 hashtags get 21% higher average engagement than those with none; but tweets with more than 3 hashtags get 17% less engagement. (SteamFeed)

60. Grandparents are the fastest-growing demographic on Twitter. (#Socialnomics 2014)

61. Twitter has 255 million monthly active users. (Social Media Slant)

62. 53% of Twitter users recommend products in their tweets at some time. (Social Media Slant)

7 LinkedIn Statistics

63. 83% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for distributing content. (Gerardo Lara on Pinterest)

64. For B2B websites and blogs, 90% of social traffic is driven by the big three networks–with half of it coming from LinkedIn. (Business 2 Community)

65. 83% of business-to-business marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing. (Business 2 Community)

66. 93% of B2B marketers find LinkedIn the most effective social network for B2B lead generation, and 77% say they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. (Business 2 Community)

67. Each second, two new members join LinkedIn – the equivalent of the entire enrollment of the Ivy League joining every day. (#Socialnomics 2014)

68. There are, on average, eight new LinkedIn groups created each week, and 200 group conversations per minute. (Social Media Slant)

69. LinkedIn (74%) and Tumblr (54%) are the only social networks that U.S. users access predominantly via desktop. (Social Media Slant)

5 Facebook Statistics

70. Facebook posts with less than 250 characters get 60% more engagement. (SteamFeed)

71. Nearly half (45%) of B2B marketers say their company has gained at least one new customer through LinkedIn. (Gerardo Lara on Pinterest)

72. 52% of digital news consumers say they get at least some of their news from Facebook and Twitter. (Digital Information World)

73. Facebook has 802 million daily active users–609 million on mobile devices. (Social Media Slant)

74. Posting to Facebook on Fridays is likely to result in better engagement: 17% of weekly comments, 16% of weekly likes and shares, and 25% of videos played occur on that day. Updates posted on Sundays generate the fewest comments. (Social Media Slant)

2 YouTube Statistics

75. YouTube reaches more U.S. adults 18-24 years old than any cable network. (SteamFeed)

76. U.S. marketers spent $2.8 billion on online video advertising in 2013. (MediaPost)

6 Pinterest Statistics

77. Pinterest outperforms Twitter and LinkedIn in the time spent on each network. (SteamFeed)

78. Almost half of all Pinterest activity is on tablets. (SteamFeed)

79. For online retailers, Pinterest (24.3%) and Facebook (24.2%) drive the highest share of social revenue. (AddShoppers)

80. Pinterest now hosts roughly 30 billion pins on 750 million boards. (Social Media Slant)

81. 100,000 of Pinterest’s members are retailers.  (Social Media Slant)

82. 92% of all pins are posted by women, and as of April 2014, there were 15 times more pins by women than by men. (Social Media Slant)

5 SEO and SEM Statistics

83. One-third of all organic search clicks on Google are on the first result. (SteamFeed)

84. 43% of all online advertising dollars are spent on search ads. U.S. marketers spent $18.4 billion on paid search ads in 2013. (MediaPost)

85. 72% of PR agencies are now offering SEO services. (MarketingProfs)

86. Each day, 20% of the terms typed into Google have never been searched before. (#Socialnomics 2014)

87. By 2018, one of every $10 spent on digital marketing services will be spent on SEO. (MediaPost)

7 Email Marketing Statistics

88. By industry, the highest average email click-through rates are in media/publishing (20%), software/SaaS (19%), and technology equipment/hardware (14%). The lowest are in real estate (8%) along with education/healthcare and nonprofits (both at 7%). (MarketingSherpa)

89. As of 2013, there were 3.6 billion email accounts (roughly one for every two people on earth). (HubSpot)

90. 91% of consumers check their email daily. (HubSpot)

91. 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email. (HubSpot)

92. Suppressing anyone in your list who hasn’t engaged with your emails in over a year increases your deliverability rate by 3-5% immediately. (HubSpot)

93. For ecommerce merchants, the average value of Twitter share is 85 cents and the average value of a Facebook “like” is $1.41. But the average value of an email share is $12.10. (AddShoppers)

94. Also for ecommerce merchants, email subscribers convert at more than twice the rate of those reached through Google+ or Facebook shares. (AddShoppers)

12 Mobile Marketing Statistics

95. Half of all clicks on mobile banner ads are accidental. (SteamFeed)

96. CMOs say their top two areas for digital technology investments over the next 3-5 years are mobile applications and advanced (predictive) analytics, each at 94%. (MarketingLand)

97. U.S. marketers spent $7.1 billion on mobile ads in 2013–more than double the amount spent in 2012. (MediaPost)

98. 61% of marketers specify social media as the most critical area of focus over the next 12 months, followed closely by mobile at 51%.  (FierceCMO)

99. 48% of emails are opened on mobile devices. But only 11% of emails are optimized for mobile. And 69% of mobile users delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile. (HubSpot)

100. 25% of emails are opened on iPhones. (HubSpot)

101. As of January 2014, 58% of American adults owned smartphones and 42% owned tablets. (Pew Research Center)

102. By the end of 2015, 81% of all U.S. cell phone users will have a smartphone. (Social Media Slant)

103. 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online; 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones. (Pew Research Center)

104. 81% of cell phone owners use their phones for text messaging; 74% use their phone to get directions or other information based on their current location; and 52% use it to send or receive email. (Pew Research Center)

105. Many mobile marketers still don’t get it though. Nearly 70% of cell phone owners say they receive unwanted sales/marketing calls, spam or text messages on their phones. 25% say they receive these unwanted calls and texts at least weekly. (Pew Research Center)

106. Mobile sharing grew 2.6 times faster than desktop sharing through the first part of 2014, and now accounts for the majority of social actions. (Social Media Slant)

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10 Social Media Marketing Mistakes Businesses Must Avoid

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Guest post by Gary Dek.

Social media is an integral component of any successful digital marketing strategy. With 74 percent of adults using social networking sites, the opportunity to increase your site’s online exposure to new customers cannot be ignored.

Top social media marketing mistakes to avoidWhile the ROI of social media marketing remains hotly debated, there is no doubt that it can be a great tool for optimizing your web presence—or total nightmare experience depending on the execution of your strategy. Here is a list of social media marketing mistakes to avoid, and ways to ensure your campaign’s success.

  1. Paying for fans and followers.

Having thousands of fans, followers, and likes leverages the power of validation and social proof, especially since visitors tend to take positive action when they see others have already shared the page.

However, social media sites have algorithms that track and analyze user engagement and interaction, including the number of people interested in an account’s updates as a percentage of total followers. When businesses have low engagement rates, platforms limit the reach of certain accounts because the numbers indicate low relevance and interest among followers. Therefore, fake followers only serve to hurt brands in the long run.

Instead of wasting money on paid fans, spend more time on creating your strategy and increasing your fan base organically. Considerations include:

  • Having specific, measurable goals with timelines.
  • Creating a system or set of policies for updates, such as the types of posts allowed and how employees should respond to feedback, criticism, or suggestions.
  • Identifying the appropriate corporate persona and tone via social media.
  1. Using too many social networks.

Research shows that marketers generally focus on three social networks: LinkedIn (91%), Twitter (85%), and Facebook (81%). However, the three social networks you should focus on depend on your niche or industry.

Recent research shows that the largest social platforms of 2014 were:

  • Facebook, 1.28 billion active users
  • Google Plus, 540 million active users
  • Twitter, 255 million active users
  • Instagram, 200 million active users
  • LinkedIn, 187 million active users
  • Pinterest, 40 million active users

If your primary demographic is women and your site relies heavily on images and graphics, you should allocate resources to Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you offer professional advice, services or products, LinkedIn and Twitter will yield the best results. The networks you dedicate time to should yield the highest ROI for your niche and target demographic; otherwise, your time, money, and resources would be better spent elsewhere.

  1. Failing to use (or optimize) hashtags.

Harness the power of hashtags by creating your own. If your own hashtag gets picked up, then you’ll have a viral thing going. It is critical that you create a hashtag that has a specific message, one that’s interesting, engaging and free of ambiguity.

Examples: #TweetFromTheSeat by Charmin (the toilet paper company) and #SFBatKid (remember Miles, the 5-year-old kid who had cancer and wanted to become a superhero for a day? He even caught the attention of President Obama!).

Brands should also be using trending hashtags. This can help spike your reach and inject your brand into trending conversations. So, how do you find trending hashtags that you can use effectively?

  • Use tools such as Hashtagify.me to identify hashtags that are related to your business.
  • Then use RiteTag.com to tell you when a hashtag is overused, and that you should choose another hashtag to piggyback off of. This way, your content won’t get lost in the sea of tweets and posts.
  1. Isolating social media marketing from other activities.

The focus on social media marketing is so high that some marketers forget the other assets of the business. In order for social media marketing to reach its full potential, it has to be tied in with a business’s website, blog, product pages, and other digital platforms—the essence of the web presence optimization (WPO) framework.

Setting up and growing a business blog is critical to your brand’s long-term success. After all, followers don’t want to click-through to product pages from Twitter, but are more than willing to check out interesting news, tips, advice, or guides.

For instance, if you manage a skincare product company, linking to a page selling acne medicine won’t get you many visits. On the other hand, blog posts titled “Top Skin Care Experts Reveal Secrets” or “How To Feel Confident In Your Own Skin” will get tons of engagement. The added benefit is that consumers will also develop positive associations with your brand.

  1. Overselling.

One of the biggest mistakes marketers often make is pushing their brand too hard. Don’t be overly promotional and forget to share some value-added content. This means brands shouldn’t only broadcast their own posts, products, and company-specific information. Showing the consumer you care about their well-being, regardless of whether they buy your product, is critical to developing a loyal fan base.

  1. Not using visuals to drive engagement.

The power of visual content cannot be overstated. For example, on Twitter:

  • Photos average 35% more Retweets
  • Videos earn 28% more
  • Famous quotes get 19% more
  • Tweets with numbers achieve 17% more
  • Hashtags receive 16% more

With a high volume strategy, the boost you can achieve with a visual aid is too good to past up.

  1. Including the full URL in the description.

When you paste a link in the status field, Facebook generates a clickable image/excerpt. The link you’ve pasted is thus redundant, should be removed and a catchy description should be incorporated. The bare link should never take the place of your description.

An expansion of this concept can be applied to Twitter—don’t use long, full URLs in your Tweets. Marketers should leverage URL shorteners (including Twitter’s own) to leave space for other users to respond or share. Also, URL shorteners such as Bit.ly or Google can help you track the number of click-backs.

  1. Sharing too much at once and overwhelming your followers’ feeds/streams.

Sharing posts one after another within a few minutes time is a good way to get people to unfollow you or overlook all your posts. Businesses should use scheduling tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to space out tweets and posts for optimal sharing times. For Facebook, marketers can visit “Insights” then “Posts” to see what times most fans are online.

On the other end of the spectrum, sharing infrequently or irregularly will make your followers forget you. Create a regular posting schedule so your readers know when to expect new content from you.

  1.   Ignoring comments/tweets.

Whoever is responsible for your social media marketing strategy and message should be responsive to customers by replying to comments on Facebook, tweeting to customers on Twitter, thanking followers for Retweets, and proactively engaging with others, including influencers.

Similarly, brands must deal with negative messages as quickly as possible. If you ignore this aspect of your marketing efforts, you’re bound to lose credibility and followers. Sometimes turning a negative experience into a positive one by rectifying issues can earn a company life-long customers.

  1. Not measuring results.

To optimize results, businesses need to analyze their social media marketing efforts. Is your reach growing? Are you engaging more followers month after month, or are your engagement stats decreasing? Is your social message consistent with your mission statement and branding? If possible, can you calculate an ROI? What metrics are important to you?

Whether you’re getting positive or negative results, analyzing and understanding your performance is crucial to a successful marketing campaign. But remember, it’s not just about getting more followers, comments, likes, etc. You can be growing your account every month, but if your effort isn’t translating into sales revenue, lead generation, growing your email subscriber list or whatever your goal is, you are wasting your time.

Final Word

While the idea of going viral and earning thousands of shares and likes is exciting, businesses should always keep in mind that social media is a tool within a broad, overall marketing strategy—every aspect of which must be laser focused and executed. By avoiding these social media marketing mistakes, marketers can prevent setbacks and further grow their online presence.

What mistakes have you avoided or committed and learned from?

Gary Dek is a professional blogger, writer and SEO expert. He helps new and experienced bloggers grow their online businesses at StartABlog123.com.

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How to Use Reddit to Boost Your Marketing through the Roof

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Guest post by Scott Masson.

Reddit is the 30th busiest website in the world, attracting  a whopping 56 billion pageviews and helping to popularise millions of pieces of content each year. Although Reddit is dwarfed by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, its influence on the internet is huge, and its potential for marketers as a way to reach customers is incredible.

Tips for marketing on RedditDespite all of this, Reddit has been almost completely abandoned by marketers, largely due to its reputation of apathy and even hostility towards marketing efforts in the past. However, when used correctly and with the interests of the Reddit community in mind, it can be used to drive highly specific traffic to your website, build a fan base around your brand, and reach internet “influencers” who can help spread and promote your best content.

What is Reddit and How Does it Work?

Reddit is a content curation and sharing site. Users share links to interesting articles and funny pictures, or create discussion posts on almost every topic imaginable. Every piece of content on Reddit is voted upon by millions of active users, and the content with the most “upvotes” grows and gets more exposure, whereas bad content gets downvoted into obscurity.

Reddit users can also build up karma by getting involved with the community through sharing and commenting on content. A good karma score shows other users that you are a legitimate part of the community and are well versed in Reddiquette.

The real value for marketers comes from the way Reddit is segmented into hundreds of thousands of subreddits – communities dedicated to one specific niche or interest. Subreddits exist for everything from the absurd and ridiculous, to the insanely specific, to the universal and generic. Thanks to this huge range of subreddits, users can find a community discussing anything they’re interested in, and marketers can directly reach their specific target audiences with ease.

Reaching Your Potential Customers

If your content gets upvoted enough, it’ll land on Reddit’s front page. Thanks to the popularity of the site, having your content on the front page can drive a website-crashing numbers of visitors. However, huge amounts of traffic shouldn’t be your ultimate goal; sure, you may be able to drive a million visitors to your site, but if most of these visitors won’t actually engage with your brand, what have you really achieved except for an overwhelmed server?

Instead, you need to concentrate on driving people who actually care about what you do to your page. The more targeted the people you can drive to your website, the higher the conversion rate will be. You need to ask yourself: “what’s more valuable, 1,000 visitors who don’t care about my business, or 10 who really do?”

This is why finding highly relevant subreddits is so important, as it allows you to find and interact with potential customers who are already interested in you (or your client’s) industry or niche, and are therefore that much more likely to be interested in what you’re doing.

For example, let’s say that your business sells collectible music memorabilia. By posting your most interesting blog articles and pieces of memorabilia to subreddits like /r/music, /r/vinyl and /r/musiccollecting, you can reach the section of Reddit that is already interested in your content and products. Sure, the number of visitors you’ll drive may not be as large, but the people you do reach will be much more likely to share your content with other enthusiasts, interact with you and perhaps even buy something!

This is why identifying your key subreddits and becoming a part of those communities is crucial if you want to make the most out of Reddit.

Honest Marketing

According to this infographic, 90% of Reddit users are college-educated, with an average income of $37,500—which most of them earn from working in web-related industries! For marketers, this tells us that the Reddit community is intelligent, educated and very web savvy; in other words, the kind of people who are familiar with marketing tactics, and tend to be suspicious of them. In fact, Reddit has very popular subreddits dedicated solely to shooting down and mocking unwary marketers, which goes some way toward explaining the hostility many marketers complain of when trying to use the platform.

However, when used transparently and earnestly, Reddit is a great place for marketers to get involved. The bottom line is this: success on Reddit comes down to quality and value added to the community, regardless of intention. If you’re trying to hard sell and spam Reddit, your content will get downvoted into oblivion. But if you submit truly interesting and useful content, which is relevant to the subreddit you’re targeting, Redditors will embrace and promote your efforts.

Reddit shouldn’t be seen as a blind traffic driver, or a place to sell or promote products, but rather as a place where you can make the most out of your content marketing efforts and build relationships with your target audience.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any room for brand promotion, however. Stories of brands doing something interesting, newsworthy or worthwhile tend to perform very well on Reddit, which makes it a great place to promote PR messages. Similarly, some brands have had massive wins with specific Reddit marketing plays, such as the notable Amazon/Nissan campaign, which succeeded not because Redditors didn’t realize it was marketing, but because Redditors liked it anyway.

It just goes to show that Reddit doesn’t hate marketing—it just hates boring marketing!

Timing is Everything

Hundreds of thousands of pieces of content get shared on Reddit every day, and this sheer volume of stuff being pushed out means that, on popular subreddits, it is very easy for your content to get buried before Redditors even have a chance to read it and upvote it.

To help tip the scales in your favour, you can strategically time your posts to go out at times when lots of people are online. According to the aforementioned statistics, almost half of Reddit’s user base is on the U.S. East Coast. Therefore, it follows that the best time to post would be at times when lots of people on the East Coast are online, such as lunchtimes and evenings in EST.

That said, you shouldn’t allow your posting schedule to be decided by that statistic alone, instead, you must keep track of when users tend to use specific subreddits and make your own posting schedules based on your community’s behavior.

Timing your posts well can make a huge difference in how they will perform. Thanks to the way the Reddit voting system works, pieces which get lots of exposure get more upvotes, and the more upvotes something gets, the more exposure it is given. Therefore, popular items can quickly snowball and grow exponentially.

Learn from Reddit

You don’t have to be a prolific poster to benefit from using Reddit. In fact, just reading without contributing (or “lurking”, as it is known) can give marketers a great insight into emerging trends and how content performs online.

Reddit is the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet”, and based on the amount of viral content and internet memes which have originated or been popularized on the site, this motto is well-earned. Redditors often joke that what is popular on Reddit today will be trending on Facebook and Twitter tomorrow!

As internet marketers, we need to keep ahead of the latest internet trends, and thanks to the huge number of internet tastemakers on Reddit, it pays to pay attention to what is performing well, as it might well be the next big meme.

Reddit’s voting system lets marketers see exactly what kind of content will become popular, which can inspire your own pieces of content, or give you a sneak peek into how something is likely to perform on bigger platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Can Reddit Help SEO?

Gaming Reddit for backlinks is a bad idea. Yes, when links get a couple of upvotes, they do become “do-follow”, but the actual impact these sorts of links will make to your SEO is negligible. After all, if link building was as easy as simply submitting a link to Reddit, ranking websites would be the easiest job in the world.

However, what Reddit can do is help marketers build the kind of links which really matter: contextual, organic links from trusted websites. Reddit is full of writers, bloggers, webmasters and other internet influencers who are instrumental in sharing good content and building links, and the sheer amount of viral content spun out of the site every month is a testament to the influence Reddit users have.

In addition, countless websites ranging from Buzzfeed to international media like the BBC have writers and web journalists scouring Reddit for newsworthy content, which makes it one of the best places to promote your content and get it in front of journalists and web writers who are covering your niche.

Diving In

While this article has hopefully given you a strategic overview of the way Reddit can help with your internet marketing, actually using Reddit successfully is a different story. The only way you can really start to use Reddit effectively is through diving in and getting involved!

I suggest you start off slowly—sign up for a free account and use it recreationally for a few days while getting a feeling for the website and the communities you will be involved with.

If you already use Reddit to market your company or your clients, please get involved in the comment section and let us know what tips and tricks you use!

About the author: Scott Masson is hopelessly addicted to Reddit, although he can stop any time… You can reach him on Reddit here. When he isn’t plugged into Reddit, Scott writes about marketing and fitness for a range of publications.

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Why More Members, Money, and Ads Don’t Always Mean More Success: A B2B Marketer’s Survival Guide

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Guest post by Ariel Applbaum.

Historical Lessons

B2B marketing lessons from Facebook and MySpaceThere is an old adage that says “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” So the question is–are there things that today’s B2B marketers can learn from history, specifically, the tremendous success of Facebook and the rise, fall and possible resurrection of Myspace?

My answer is certainly–yes! This question is particularly compelling today as we see Facebook set new records in terms of users, market valuation and revenue growth and wait with anticipation to see if Myspace can reinvent itself after conceding its market leadership position in social networking back in 2008. How can the respective histories and behaviors of these two companies inform the best practices for B2B marketers?

Background on the two social media sites

From its founding, Myspace took off like a rocket ship while Facebook had a much slower ascension from launch. The two companies were created six months apart; Myspace was founded in August 2003 and by July 2005 was bought by News Corp for 580 million dollars. In contrast, Facebook was founded in February 2004 and only took in its first outside funding of 12.7 million dollars from Accel Partners in May 2005.

In 2006, Myspace was the most visited U.S. social web site, surpassing Google in site visits. Myspace’s dominance would not last though. In 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in number of unique worldwide visitors and one year later claimed that title as well in the U.S. Myspace’s user base decline resulted in a tremendous loss in valuation; in fact, News Corp sold substantially all of its Myspace ownership in May 2011 for a rumored 35 million dollars.

Lessons

The differences in the birth, development, nurturing, growth and monetization of these two companies go a long way in explaining the reversal in their fortunes and the sustainability of their successes.  These differences can and should provide valuable lessons for B2B marketers. These lessons include three main points: market to those of greatest relevance; create an atmosphere conducive to experimentation, new idea generation, & creativity; maintain relevance; and avoid rigid corporate structures.

A bigger user base is not always better

Myspace was created by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, two former employees of internet marketing company eUniverse. They had both been users of Friendster, which was initially a social networking service intended to maintain contacts and share online content and media. The Myspace founders saw both the potential of social networks and ways to improve on the Friendster offering and experience.

Myspace jump-started its subscriber base when they held a contest to see which eUniverse employees, who were the initial Myspace users, could sign up the largest number of users to the new Myspace website. This incentivized quantity over quality. Anderson and DeWolfe contacted 20 Million eUniverse users. Because of their campaign, thousands of users signed up for Myspace, and Anderson and DeWolfe began focusing exclusively on growing the social network.

But these users were not necessarily interconnected. Because those who signed up for Myspace did not know one another or had no reason to meet, then there was no ongoing incentive to use the website. What the Myspace founders and eUniverse CEO did not understand was that the most appealing aspect of a social network is that friends can connect or reconnect or share anything from photographs to experiences to news.

The importance of the Network Effect

Facebook, by contrast, started out as a social media outlet for Harvard. While Facebook started out with a far smaller prospective pool of users, specifically only 27,000 students, they all had reason to be interested in one another, thus creating an engaged and devoted user base. Because of the relevance, satisfaction and engagement with Facebook, users recommended it to their friends and other college students, creating a massive network of similarly aged, highly connected people with mutual interests.

This created a virtuous network effect which further increased Facebook’s relevance for its users. The takeaway lesson for marketers is that while it is important to get the word out, unless you are reaching qualified leads, it does you no good. Don’t send emails to everyone in your address book, rather, choose your recipients carefully. Don’t spray and pray.  Choose the right market and create a strong connection and relevance to it; otherwise, you might have a lot of misleading nibbles but no fruitful bites. It is important to segment your data and your customers to better understand and access useful people who will find you useful.

Make customers happy before you worry about money

While Myspace probably thought it hit the jackpot with its 580 million dollar sale to News Corp, the sale might have actually been the seed of its downfall. Startups often focus on quality of product and a strong user base before monetization. While Myspace was still in startup mode when acquired, its high acquisition price and obligation to a public company created immense pressure to hit quarterly targets. It hastened the monetization process, which led to over-advertising and increased focus on making money, as opposed to focus on making the customer happy or the product better.

Due to the pressure to hit numbers and the fear of underperforming, Myspace was not as receptive to innovation or user input. Tinkering with the model, platform, or product would have led the company to new and unknown territory with customers, and Myspace couldn’t run experiments that didn’t predict sufficient user growth or enhanced profits.

In addition to putting pressure on Myspace to perform, News Corp designed a rigid business plan for Myspace, which hindered it from being more focused on enhancing user experience and satisfaction and slowing willingness to adapt and change.

Facebook, on the other hand, kept its ear to the ground, listened to user input and adapted accordingly. In fact, Facebook actively chose not to take the big payout and focused on developing its product. In 2006, Facebook turned down two large offers, the first from Viacom for 750 million dollars and the second from Yahoo at one billion dollars. Facebook has never been boring. If anything, people complain about too many new features and too many updates.

The lesson for marketers is that it is important to maintain flexibility and willingness to adapt and change and remain interesting and relevant. Listen to user input and feedback and don’t be afraid to change what you are doing.  Your business plan can project 300 percent returns over one year, but that doesn’t do you much good if customers and prospects lose interest in your offering. Focus less on making money and more on making your customers happy–money usually follows.

The importance of targeted ads

Myspace was rolling in the dough–earning 800 million dollars in revenue in 2008. If you ever used Myspace back then, you would remember the amount of advertisements on your screen. However, they were more ad than content. The advertising was not interesting, or applicable, and hence would be very annoying.

Facebook, on the other hand, played the advertising game right, as it uses the information it has about you to create relevant and targeted ads.  Facebook targets ads based on your profile, your likes, and information it gets about you from your Facebook friends. Generally, Facebook knows your age, location, education, relationship status, and more; Facebook would not push an ad to 18-25 year old males about the newest and hottest bras from Victoria’s Secret or Estee Lauder make-up, but rather, ads for the newest Michael Jordan sneakers would appear.

Facebook made it a priority to run directed, interesting, and relevant ads in appropriate quantities. Facebook has paid attention to how many ads get pushed to users without annoying them. One Facebook rep was quoted in an Edgerank Checker post in October 2012, saying, “we’re continually optimizing newsfeed to ensure the most relevant experience for our users.”

It is of the utmost importance as a B2B marketer to target the right people in the right quantities. It is not enough to have tons of ads on high traffic websites; you have to reach the right people on the right websites about the right subjects. To be successful, design your ads to be suitable to the people you want to be reading them, and put them in the right places for the right people.

Example of bad MySpace ads

An image of Myspace inbox screen with advertising ranging from a spammy new scientific way to lose weight and free credit reports, to sour candy

Continued success and an attempt to rejuvenate

Facebook went public in May 2012 at a then record valuation of 104 billion dollars. After some minor hiccups at the start, it now trades at a 220 billion dollar valuation. This past quarter alone the company’s revenue grew around 61 percent to nearly 3 billion dollars. The company now has over 1.4 billion users.

In late 2013, Myspace users numbered approximately 36 million–less than half the number of unique users Myspace had at its peak in Late 2008. Necessity, rather than creative destruction, recently forced Myspace to reinvent itself into a social entertainment website when it was jointly purchased from News Corp for $35 million dollars by Specific Media and Justin Timberlake. They have revamped Myspace into a music sharing website which they hope will have value and relevance to producers, artists and even casual listeners.

While the original Myspace had an element of music sharing, the current strategy clearly is a re-visioning of the company. Although too early to deem the strategy successful, the company seems to be headed in the right direction.

Myspace’s story and history illustrates the importance of admitting failure and moving on by learning from past mistakes and being willing to let go of old ideas. Vinod Khosla, a successful and well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has been quoted as saying, “Most entrepreneurs–good entrepreneurs–are just not afraid to fail… the ability to think outside the box is the Silicon Valley mindset.”

For B2B marketers, it is important to remember if a specific campaign, article or eBook does not succeed, or even gets negative feedback, and to learn from that failure or feedback and respond accordingly.

About the author: Ariel Applbaum is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius, the data company that’s engineering decision science for B2B marketers. Ariel is studying entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. At Radius, he’s focused on building a community of innovative marketers through content partnerships.

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