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Category Archive: Social Media Marketing

  1. 5 Types of Social Media Users and How to Use Them

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    shutterstock_189556430Social media marketing starts with something logical and mathematical: a formalized posting plan, complete with an outline of your brand personality and the types of interactions you seek to facilitate. But there’s a much less predictable factor in the world of social media marketing, and it’s integral to the process: the human factor. People drive social media, and without having the people on your side, your social media campaign is destined to fail.

    The problem is, every person is unique, and even if your behavioral predictions are correct for 30 percent of the population, the other 70 percent could throw off your entire equation. The trick is to learn how all your users operate, and cater to as many of them as possible. While there will always be individual outliers creating exceptions to the broader rules, you can generally count on most users within a certain category to behave in similar ways.

    There are five key categories of social media users you’ll need to become familiar with:

    1. The Influencer.

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    The influencer is the most sought-after type of user in the social media world, and arguably the most important of the lot of them. This user is somewhat rare, as attaining the position of an influencer takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication. Influencers tend to have massive followings, with thousands of Facebook friends or tens of thousands of Twitter followers, though this isn’t always the case. More importantly, influencers are seen as authorities in a given space. They are looked to as a reliable source of information, and their followers will likely listen to their advice.

    The best way to use an influencer is to engage with them directly. Talk to them. Share their content. Get yourself noticed. Once you establish a base relationship with an influencer, that influencer will be more likely to share your content and mention your name, which then exposes your brand to thousands of new people with an authoritative backing.

    2. The Evangelist.

    The evangelist is similar to the influencer, but with a less significant air of admiration. Evangelists aren’t necessarily experts in anything, and they certainly don’t have the same following as their super-influential counterparts. Instead, evangelists are highly likely to share content that piques their interest. If you post content regularly, you’ve probably noticed at least one of these individuals sharing nearly everything you post.

    This type of user is extremely valuable. While their influence isn’t as authoritative as that of an influencer, they do push your content in front of people on a very consistent basis. Some evangelists won’t need much of a push—they’ll share your content simply because they like sharing things. But you can attract more evangelists by posting more shareable content and reinforcing sharing behavior by thanking your sharers individually. Evangelists love recognition, and if you consistently reach out to them, you’ll attract more similar-minded users.

    3. The Utilitarian.

    The utilitarian doesn’t have a large following and doesn’t share much. Instead, the utilitarian uses social media purely for practical purposes. These types of users don’t interact with their friends or family very often and they don’t post comments on brand pages. However, they do spend a significant amount of time on social media, looking for valuable information, product discounts, or free offers they can take advantage of.

    This user doesn’t need much to stay happy. All you have to do is offer something valuable to them on a regular basis. For example, you could offer a day-long discount on a new product once a week, every week, or you could hold free giveaways on a monthly basis. Consistency is the key here; if the utilitarian comes to expect free or discounted offers from your social media profile, he/she will come back frequently and with measurable consistency. Even more important, they’ll be more likely to tell their friends about the experience.

    4. The Complainer.

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    The complainer isn’t a fun type of social media user, and if you see one, they’re probably going to do more harm than good. However, tactful social media managers can put a positive spin on the situation and use complainers to actively improve the reputation of their brand.

    Complainers tend to be vocal and public about their complaints. They’ll post angry messages on your public Facebook page and scathing tweets to rile people up and make your company look bad. Though you might be tempted, do not delete these complaints. Instead, address them directly. Apologize when appropriate, explain the situation, and offer to improve the problem in any way that you can. Users who see this type of interaction will learn that your brand takes customer service seriously and will go above and beyond the call of duty to make your users happy. While the complaint might seem negative initially, it might actually help your brand’s reputation in the long run.

    5. The Bystander.

    The bystander is a tough type of social media user to take advantage of. This type of user logs into their account frequently, peruses their news feed and checks in with important people and brands, but doesn’t do much beyond that. They don’t share, like, or comment on much of anything, and you probably won’t even know they are there.

    The best way to utilize a bystander is to post different types of content. Vary up your posting schedule with new, interactive mediums and esoteric topics. Eventually, you might find something that really resonates with your bystander crowd and when you do, you can incorporate more posts of that type in your regular schedule. It’s essentially a way of experimenting to find new types of information that go over well with your audience. In the meantime, don’t sweat it if your bystanders never interact.

    Get to know these social media user archetypes well. The better you understand your key audience members and the more you do to cater to them specifically, the more they’ll reward you with increased activity and a stronger overall social influence.

  2. How to Build Authority Without Building Links

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    In order to get your website found in search results, you need to have a high domain authority. The higher your domain authority is, the higher it’s going to rank for relevant queries. For many years, the best way to build that authority quickly was to build external links pointing back to your domain on a diverse range of high-quality sources. However, after the crackdown of Google’s Penguin and subsequent updates, it became harder and harder to build authority using links as a primary strategy.

    The words of Google’s own John Mueller echoed a fear in the search marketing community. Recently, he was quoted as referring to link building: “in general, I’d try to avoid that.” While links are still valuable for passing authority to your domain and a high-quality link building strategy can improve your overall domain authority without much risk of a penalty, for the average search marketer, it may be wiser to stay away from link building altogether.

    That raises an important question; without link building, how can you increase your domain authority, and by association, your search ranks? Fortunately, there are several alternative strategies that can boost your domain authority just as much as—if not more than—a traditional link building campaign.

    Creating Viral Content

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    Your first option still involves link building, but in a much more organic way. Rather than building any links directly on outside sources, you’ll be calling upon your audience to do all the work for you. The goal here is to produce a piece of content with a high potential to circulate virally—that means it’s highly informative, entertaining, shareable, and practical—and share it to a wide audience. Those audience members will share your content in turn, and eventually, it will catch the attention of several dozen (if not hundred) external sources. Those sources will link to you as a credit, of their own accord, which will pass ample domain authority onto you without ever having to get your hands dirty.

    Social Media Marketing

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    In addition to being a perfect outlet to begin syndicating your viral content, social media is a great platform for building your domain authority. While it’s not clear exactly which factors Google takes into consideration when calculating your social-related domain authority, there are many social signals that can actively improve your position. For example, companies with large social followings tend to have higher domain authorities than those that do not, and companies with high levels of engagement—that means your followers have a high tendency to like, share, or comment on your content—also have increased domain authority. Engage with your audience frequently and make an active effort to build your following. If you can encourage enough activity on your social profiles, you’ll earn a much higher domain authority without the need to build external links.

    Brand Mentions

    Google also considers mentions of your brand name on external sources when calculating domain authority. In a sense, you can consider brand mentions to be a milder form of external links. Because brand mentions do not trigger any spam-related red flags to Google, it is much safer to build brand mentions on external sources, and you can therefore use them as a simple substitute for your traditional link building strategy. Capitalizing on the same high-authority, industry-relevant sources, you can post occasional brand mentions to boost your domain authority, and you can also use nofollow links to attract referral traffic to your brand without upsetting any search bots. This works both for company brand names and branded names of individual products.

    Navigation and Interlinking

    If you’re looking to increase your domain authority, don’t exclusively incorporate offsite tactics. Onsite SEO implementation is just as important for building authority. For example, the navigation of your site has much to do with how much authority Google evaluates your site to have. Sites with a clear, simple, and intuitive navigation will have a higher authority than sites with a confused, jumbled, or overcomplicated system. This is because Google values high-quality user experience above all other factors when ranking websites. You can also increase your domain authority by interlinking your content; the fewer clicks it takes to get to any one page of your website, the better. You can improve this by implementing user surveys, finding ways to consolidate your pages, and redesigning your site to be more intuitive to the average user.

    Historically Great Content

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    Everyone knows that great content is essential for SEO, but don’t forget the fact that one piece of content doesn’t trigger an increase in domain authority. Authority must be gradually earned over time. If you produce high-quality content, consistently, over the course of months and years, your domain authority will flourish. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut for this. Domains that have been around for decades will always have more domain authority than similar sites with a shorter history. Stay patient and committed to your domain.

    Remember, as long as you’re posting on highly authoritative and industry-relevant sources with a diverse and appropriate style of links, you shouldn’t have to fear a penalty from link building. Link building can still be a valuable strategy, especially if it is used in moderation and in conjunction with the authority-building strategies listed above. The more diverse your strategies are and the more effort you spend trying to improve user experience, the more you’ll be rewarded in search engine visibility across the board.

  3. How to Use Social Bookmarking for an SEO Campaign

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    articleimage926 How to Use Social Bookmarking for an SEO CampaignSocial bookmarking is a strategy that builds a reference point for your website (or your content) on the web, making it available to the public and giving you a better chance at getting ranked high for keywords relevant to your business. Much like traditional website bookmarking, which is done on your personal browser, social bookmarking allows users to keep track of your content, and these “social bookmarks” in turn let search algorithms know that your content is valuable enough to be remembered, thereby increasing your authority.

    Using social bookmarks regularly and appropriately can be highly valuable for your SEO campaign, but only if you know what you’re doing.

    How Does Social Bookmarking Affect Your Rank?

    articleimage926How Does Social Bookmarking Affect Your Rank

    Regularly building social bookmarks increases your domain authority, which makes it easier for you to rank for keywords relevant to your business and industry. However, there are several qualities of social bookmarks that go into determining how much of an authority boost your site gets from them.

    Accelerated Site Indexing

    In order to generate and rank results, Google needs a running bank of information on all the websites available. It collects and stores this information in a process known as indexing, where it crawls the web for information and updates its collective knowledge base. Adding social bookmarks to the web, which help direct Google’s bots in the right direction, accelerates this process of indexation, which means your content gets found faster and will rank sooner than if you had no bookmarks.

    Improved Social Signals

    Social bookmarks also count as social signals, which Google uses to determine how popular your brand is among the public. For example, if you have a piece of content that is shared on Facebook 1,000 times, it’s going to increase your domain authority. Social bookmarks work the same way; if you have a history of producing content that results in a high number of shares, likes, or interest, you’ll receive a boost in authority and rank.

    Higher-Authority Backlinks

    Social bookmarks usually feature a link back to the original website, in this case yours. As you might expect, as long as this is a dofollow link, this will count as any traditional backlink and pass authority to your domain.

    Side Note: Referral Traffic

    While it won’t directly affect your ranking in search engines, social bookmarking will incidentally increase the total amount of traffic to your site via referrals. People seeing your content bookmarked on popular social bookmarking sites will be likely to follow the link and get to your site directly. It’s worth mentioning, since successful social bookmarking strategies can nab thousands of new visitors every month.

    Best Practices for Social Bookmarking

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    Like with backlink building or social media marketing, the process of social bookmarking has a handful of best practices that must be followed if you want to see great results.

    • Look for quality. Authority matters. High-authority sites like the ones I list in the next section are important to pursue because they pass a correspondingly high amount of authority. Low-authority social bookmarking sites could actively damage your domain authority and reduce your rank—so don’t affiliate yourself with spammers.
    • Don’t skimp on your profiles. Each social bookmarking site will give you the chance to claim a profile and fill out information about yourself. Don’t ever leave a field unfilled! The more information you fill in, and the more consistent you are with it across the web, the better indexed your site will be with Google.
    • Engage with others. Social bookmarking is much like social media marketing. If you want to be successful, your best bet is to build a community. Start engaging with other users of your core social bookmarking platforms, and give back to the community whenever you can.
    • Stay active. It’s not enough to submit a handful of links and be done with it. Social bookmarking is best implemented as a recurring, long-term strategy. Make it a point to build new social bookmarks on at least a weekly basis, and don’t abandon any of your profiles.

    Great Social Bookmarking Sites and Tools

    Below you can find some great social bookmarking sites to get started on:

    • StumbleUpon is one of the most well-known social bookmarking tools, and you can get started with it after one simple download and toolbar installation.
    • Delicious is another content discovery site that allows a Twitter-like interaction of following and subscribing between online brands and users.
    • Reddit is an incredibly popular site, but you’ll need to be extra careful to comply with the rules of the community when you post.
    • Digg has a very high authority, and if you can get your content popular enough to reach the front page, you can count on an overwhelming amount of traffic.
    • Pearltrees is relatively easy to use, and serves as a perfect introduction for users new to social bookmarking as a strategy.

    Like with any facet of your overall SEO campaign, it will take some time before you figure out exactly which tactics and resources will best promote your site. What works for one business in one industry won’t necessarily work for another. Keep a close eye on your organic search traffic as well as your referrals traffic, and take note of which social bookmarking platforms tend to enable your content to perform its best. As you learn more about the process and what works for your business, make gradual adjustments, and start honing your approach to perfection.

  4. 5 Social Media Platforms You Never Considered for Marketing

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    You’re probably already on social media for your business in some form. Whether that just means you’ve claimed your company’s Facebook page, or you’re posting updates several times a day, businesses have come to realize how valuable and important social media marketing is, and they’re working hard to engage their audience. Social media marketing can help you build an audience, increase the reach of your content, and even improve your ranks in search engines, but there’s a fundamental limitation facing most modern social marketers.

    The vast majority of businesses can’t move past the holy trinity of social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. These platforms are incredibly popular, which makes them a perfect target for businesses looking to make a big impact. But the reality is that social media is a huge world, and it’s constantly growing with new platforms and new audiences. If you find yourself struggling to make an impact with the more traditional social media platforms, or if you’re looking for new outlets for your content, it might be time to consider one of these off-the-beaten path social platforms as a new channel for your social marketing campaign:

    1. Instagram.

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    Visual media platforms are rising in popularity as users grow tired of wading through text for updates and begin preferring images and videos. One of the biggest (and still fastest-growing) visual platforms around today is Instagram, with more than 300 million monthly active users. Because Instagram is largely a personal platform used for showcasing selfies and other self-centered photographs, many businesses have written it off as a potential marketing channel. However, businesses that get involved on Instagram can appeal more visually to an audience that hungers for more visual material. Play to Instagram’s strengths by showing your brand’s more personal side—pictures of your team members and of your office could work wonders in improving the ethos of your brand.

    2. Pheed.

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    Pheed is a platform that works similar to Instagram, but it’s newer on the market and has yet to reach as substantial a user base. Still, Pheed holds a lot of advantages, and if your strategy is implemented properly, it can be valuable for your campaign. Pheed is a visual-based platform, allowing users to share their photos, videos, and live broadcasts of whatever they happen to be doing at the time. Pheed also offers special features for businesses, with the option to sell certain videos and content on a pay-per-view basis. If you’re looking to make a little bit of extra direct money in addition to building your user base, you can sell seminars or lessons for an extra fee.

    3. Tumblr.

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    Tumblr is a powerhouse on the web, and a platform you’ve undoubtedly already heard of. However, you probably haven’t considered it as part of your social marketing strategy. That’s because Tumblr is targeted toward independent artists and thinkers, who are empowered to create their own micro-blogs. Since your company already has a blog, and since you can already syndicate your material through more conventional social channels, you might have overlooked some of Tumblr’s advantages. The Tumblr user base is very dedicated, and many of them rarely venture out into other platforms. It’s a new outlet for you to publish and gain visibility for your material, and thanks to Tumblr’s follow system, it’s easy to make new connections and build an audience. There are nearly 225 million blogs on Tumblr already—and that’s a lot of missed opportunities if you aren’t up for taking them.

    4. Snapchat.

    Almost everyone has heard of SnapChat, but the app’s reputation isn’t one that most marketers find favorable. Used mostly as a means of sending confidential or temporary pictures from one person to another, SnapChat is a personal and sometimes intimate platform that doesn’t seem to leave much room for marketers to communicate a message to the masses. However, with 400 million snaps sent per day by 26 million active United States users, there is a massive opportunity at stake. If you can reduce your messaging to the bare minimum, giving your users a short burst of great content or a memorable tagline, you can win them over instantly without bogging them down with repetitive updates. It will take you a long time to build an audience of users, but it can help you forge more personal connection with the users you do find.

    5. Bubblews.

    Bubblews is a new type of content platform with a revolutionary new structure; rather than posting any of their own content or leeching off the content of others, Bubblews shares all its ad revenue with its most popular contributors. Since the current readership of Bubblews is still developing, you might struggle to find an initial audience. However, as the platform becomes more popular, Bubblews could serve as a high-authority channel for all your offsite marketing work—and if your content is appreciated by your readers, you could make a little extra money on the side. Follow the same rules you would for content anywhere else; be original, be informative, be entertaining, and make your content as shareable as possible.

    Success in social media is at least partially attributable to diversity. You need to vary the types of posts you make, the types of individuals with whom you interact, and of course, the types of platforms you use as the foundation for your campaign. Remember, not all of these platforms will be useful to all businesses, but they are all oft-overlooked options that are worth your consideration. As you review your current strategy and look for key areas of potential improvement, try thinking outside the box and finding new ways to communicate using channels that already exist.

  5. 5 Types of Written Content You Need Other Than a Blog

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    Content is king, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.Through content marketing, businesses can improve their online reputation by appearing more authoritative, attract new customers by offering valuable information, and even get higher search visibility through SEO. While visual forms of content, like images and videos have taken many forms as supporting players in mainstream content strategies, written content has remained relatively stagnant in the form of an onsite blog.

    Onsite blogs are important because they’re highly valued by Google, and they give you a perfect opportunity to regularly update your site with new information. However, it’s important to have complementary forms of written content to fully round out your strategy. Here are five of the most valuable types you can use:

    1. Landing Page Copy.

    No matter what type of business you have or what your ultimate goals are, a landing page should be a part of your strategy. As a standalone page, your landing page will serve as the target destination for whichever segment of your audience you choose to funnel to it—for example, you could use social media or PPC advertising to drive targeted users to the appropriate page.

    The goal of your landing page should be to drive your users to a conversion. How you define that conversion is up to you; for e-commerce sites, that conversion is a product purchase, but for B2B companies, a conversion could be the filling out of a short information form.Because it’s your conversion gateway, the copy of your landing page is some of the most important written content you’re going to have. Take your time and develop the most concise, most appealing wording you can to maximize your potential return.

    2. Social Media Updates.

    articleimage845Social Media Updates

    Social media marketing should already be a part of your content marketing strategy, but you need to use those platforms for more than just basic updates and simplistic responses. Social media posting is a written art, and it’s much more complex than people realize.

    Because you have a shorter space and shorter attention spans to deal with, you’re going to need to reduce your content to the bare minimum. It’s an entirely different format than a blog post, where you have room to elaborate on your ideas. Instead of focusing on detail or value, you need to focus on conciseness, and appeal to your customers as immediately and as clearly as possible.

    The best way to improve your social media posting game is to measure the effectiveness of each of your posts. Use Facebook analytics and regular observations to determine which of your posts seem to get the most attention—are there certain topics or phrases that get more attention than others? Refine your strategy accordingly.

    3. Whitepapers.

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    Whitepapers are dying in popularity due to their length and the requirement of effort involved, but they are still a highly valuable form of written content to use for your business. Select a topic in your industry—try to be as specific as possible—and write in as much detail as you can about it.

    Then, use your whitepaper as a bargaining chip. Offer it as compensation for some type of user action—such as a reward for filling out a form or a questionnaire—or use it as a marketing tool to show off your true value. It’s your chance to show off what a major authority you are in the industry, provide valuable information to your customer, and immediately improve your reputation as a result.

    If you’ve written a truly great whitepaper, you can even try to sell it as an independent product and recoup some of the costs you spent creating it.

    4. Case Studies.

    Specific case studies are valuable because they describe a real example of your company’s work. Start off by describing your customer or client, including a description of how they were before your involvement, then describe the products and services you offered followed by a description of how they ended up. Use statistics and specific facts to back up your case, and try not to be too salesy with it—your goal should be to logically and factually demonstrate why your relationship was valuable to your client, not to directly sell.

    That being said, case studies can be a valuable sales tool to offer on your site and distribute to your potential leads. Visualizing the type of results that are possible, in the form of a real story, has an incredibly powerful effect.

    5. Original Research.

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    Of all the types of written content I’ve covered, this is probably the most difficult to accomplish, especially if you’re a startup or a small business with limited resources. Coming up with an idea for original research alone takes a substantial amount of effort, not to mention the exhaustive follow-through. Depending on what you’re researching and compiling, it could require a full-time team member.

    In any case, producing original research makes you an instant magnet for inbound links. Writers and industry players everywhere will be dying to cite your brand-new information. It also bolsters your reputation as a thought leader in the industry, since you’ll be producing the information before anyone else. And like with whitepapers, if your original research is high enough quality, you can introduce it as a paid product, and make a little extra money on the side.

    Every business is unique, so you may not need to include all these types of content in your specific strategy. However, it’s a good idea to at least consider forms of content as alternatives to the traditional blog post. Diversifying your strategy can only be beneficial for your search engine rankings, for your brand reputation, and for your overall user experience.

  6. 10 Types of Social Media Posts That Convert Followers to Customers

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    There is a wide range of opinions on the practicality of social media marketing. There are the social media loyalists, who insist that social media marketing is the most innovative and important new marketing medium around, there are the naysayers who insist that social marketing is a fad and no real business would use it, and there are countless gray-area business owners in between.

    It’s inappropriate to view social media as an all-or-nothing platform. Simply claiming an account and doing nothing won’t help you a bit. Posting regularly and engaging with your audience can help you build a following—but what then? What is the value of having 10,000 Twitter followers or 10,000 Facebook likes if none of those followers end up making purchases with you?

    In order to capture true value from your followers, you’ll have to take further action. You’ll have to make the types of posts that engage your followers directly and call them to action on your website:

    1. The Product Highlight.

    articleimage831The Product Highlight

    The product highlight is one of the simplest types of converting posts you can take advantage of, and it’s one of the first most businesses consider. The format of your highlight is up to you, but the function of the post is to introduce a new product or service to your follower base and highlight the most important elements of it. For example, if there’s a new dress available on your e-commerce platform, you can post a flattering picture of it and briefly describe the unique benefits of the dress. It’s a way of making a direct appeal to your users, and attracting those who otherwise might not see the individual products you sell.

    2. The Consumer Review.

    articleimage831The Consumer Review

    If you have any followers who like your brand but haven’t made a purchase, a consumer review can push them over the edge. In socially connected digital world, the highest level of trust a brand can achieve is the approval of a peer. For example, if a follower sees one of his/her friends post a review of a given product on social media, he/she will be far more likely to make a purchase. On your own social media profiles, you can use this to your advantage—cultivate real user reviews, and post clips of them to your audience directly!

    3. The Exclusive Discount.

    articleimage831The Exclusive Discount

    Exclusivity is a powerful tool for two reasons. First, it makes the deal seem better, simply because fewer people have access to it. Second, it makes each of your followers feel more connected to the brand, like a clique. Your exclusive discount doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary—something like 10 percent off can be just as effective as anything else. The key is to let your users know it’s an exclusive deal, and not provide that offer through any other channels. This post will call your users to immediate action, and increase their loyalty to the brand simultaneously.

    4. The Special Offer.

    The special offer is similar to the exclusive discount, but there are many more options you can play with. For example, you can offer a free sample product to new fans in exchange for filling out a brief questionnaire. This is a common Facebook tactic that gets people to submit their information, ultimately resulting in a conversion (if acquisition of information qualifies as a conversion for your company) in exchange for something small. If your conversion goals are more tied to actual purchases, you can use something like a “buy one, get one free” offer to attract more purchases.

    5. The Giveaway.

    The giveaway is another tactic that has a dual effect on your conversion rates. The setup for the giveaway is up to you, but the bottom line is that you’re going to give away something valuable for free to one or more of your social media followers. You’ll select these winners from a pool of participants. It will cost a bit of money to front the giveaway item, but there are two critical effects for this type of post: first, you’ll get people more engaged with the brand. By taking action in a giveaway-style scenario, they’ll feel more connected to the brand and they’ll be more likely to take action in the future. Second, seeing the giveaway item will prompt people to purchase one for themselves once they learn they haven’t won.

    6. The Social Incentive.

    The social incentive can work in the context of other social posts—for example, it could work in conjunction with the giveaway or with the exclusive discount. But the goal here is to get your users to share one of your central posts. Hashtags are a useful tool for this, but the mechanism for social sharing is up to you. Getting your customers to engage your brand through social sharing will make them more likely to take action in the future, and will also serve as peer validation that makes your brand more trustworthy to other followers.

    7. The Call to Need.

    Rather than doting on a specific product or leading people to a specific page, sometimes it’s more advantageous to speak to a specific customer need. Look at why your customers would want a product rather than what they would want—and you can use user surveys to uncover this information. However you go about it, address the need specifically in your post. For example, if you’re selling windshield wiper blades, rather than showcasing the highlights of your new wiper blades, you can introduce them with something like “Are your wipers leaving streaks in the rain?”

    8. The Individual Callout.

    Another way to prompt users to action is to call them out on an individual basis. If a follower responds to something you’ve posted, show your appreciation for it. If a follower comments on your page and shows interest in a specific product, give them more information. Giving that level of personal attention looks great for your brand, and will go far to help drive users to finally make a purchasing decision.

    9. The Time-Sensitive Deal.

    The time-sensitive deal is exactly what it sounds like. When your followers feel like they’re under the pressure of the clock, they’re going to be more driven to action. Sales that last 24 hours or products that are only available for a week can immediately drive more traffic and more conversions—the trick is to post about the deal progressively, so your users can see the time actively running out.

    10. The Content Pass-Off.

    Of course, the power of conversion doesn’t rest solely on social media. For many business owners, it’s easier to write content that leads to a conversion onsite. If that’s the case for you, you can use your content as the anchor site for your conversions, then post a link to it through social media.

    With these 10 types of social media posts, you can convert your army of followers to an army of real, purchasing customers. You may find that some work better than others, but through trial and error you should be able to find the right posts to translate your follower numbers to numbers that truly matter—bottom-line revenue. Just remember that your followers are people, and if you want them to stick around, you’ll have to keep nurturing the community organically.

  7. 10 Free Tools to Master Social Media Marketing

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    Social media marketing isn’t as easy as people think it is. It’s more than just posting an update for your business every once in a while; if you want to get a steady stream of revenue and build a passionate audience about your brand, you have to go all-out, managing and cultivating a community while accurately measuring and analyzing your impact.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to do this alone. Thanks to the increasing popularity of social media marketing, there are dozens of free tools available to help you keep your community under control and break new ground in your social strategies.

    Here are 10 of our favorites:

    1. Hootsuite.

    articleimage784hootsuite

    You’ve likely heard of Hootsuite before, and you’ve heard of it for a reason. It’s one of the best and most comprehensive social media tools available on the web, and it has full integration with most social media platforms you’ll need, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Social post scheduling is the shining feature here and the one most commonly associated with the platform, but Hootsuite also features weekly analytics data and a handful of team delegation/task management features that make it useful for social media team members working together. There’s a free version and a paid version, though the paid version is still relatively inexpensive.

    2. Social Mention.

    articleimage784socialmention

    Social Mention is a search-based tool that works similarly to Google alerts. However, instead of providing alerts for news and information on certain keywords, Social Mention provides monitoring for more than 80 different social media platforms, including all the biggies—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and so on. If you so choose, you can opt in for daily or weekly email digests featuring all the mentions of your chosen keywords during that time period, and there’s even an API to integrate it into your site. It also helps you measure the impact of your brand with metrics related to the frequency, positivity, diversity, and consistency of mentions.

    3. Followerwonk.

    articleimage784followerwonk

    Followerwonk is a niche tool, so it may not be useful for everybody, but for companies actively involved on Twitter, it’s extremely beneficial. Through Followerwonk, you’ll be able to retrieve detailed analyses of your followers and Twitter activity. All you have to do is enter your username, and you’ll receive information on your followers as well as the people you follow. This information includes when your followers are most often online, how influential your followers are, and how active your followers are. It’s very useful in better understanding your audience.

    4. Addict-o-matic.

    Addict-o-matic is a fairly straightforward tool, which is great news if you’re just looking for something simple to add to your lineup of social listening and analytics platforms. Through Addict-o-matic, you can perform searches to discover new trending topics, or monitor the web for mentions and discussions around your brand. Using whatever keywords you choose, the search tool will scour the web on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and Flickr to find new mentions and instances that could be useful for you. It’s a near-perfect social listening tool that’s perfect for finding new things to talk about.

    5. HowSociable.

    If you’re looking for a general idea of how impactful and how successful your brand is in the social world, HowSociable is a perfect tool for the job. Using a free account, you’ll be able to monitor your progress on 12 popular social platforms—you can unlock 24 others with a relatively inexpensive “pro” level account. HowSociable will use information like your total following, your engagement, your total number of shares, and other tidbits to calculate an influence score you can use to ballpark your reach and influence. You can also use the tool to compare yourself against your competitors.

    6. IceRocket.

    IceRocket offers monitoring and analysis of a number of different platforms and languages, with interactive graphs that allow customization on the fly. It’s ideal if you want to keep a passive eye on developments in a given community, since they have more than 200 million different blogs at their disposal in their database. It’s perfect to find new trending topics and get a glimpse of your impact and reputation on the web.

    7. Sprout Social.

    Sprout Social is an all-in-one tool that allows active management of multiple social profiles on multiple different platforms. While LinkedIn is not currently supported, there is full integration with Facebook and Twitter. Through Sprout, users can schedule posts for the future and review them in a queue, assign and manage tasks to other team members on the platform, discover new content through social listening software, and view and manage regular reports on your progress. However, the free version of the program does not come with the same features as the paid version.

    8. TweetReach.

    TweetReach is similar to Followerwonk, at least in the sense that it’s a platform exclusive to Twitter. TweetReach, however, is specifically intended to help you figure out how far your tweets are travelling, and what you can do to maximize the reach of your tweets. For any tweet you study, or for your profile as a whole, you’ll be able to estimate the total number of accounts you’ve reached, including how many impressions you’ve achieved and how many shares got you to that point. You’ll also be able to view charts and graphs that detail your progress and compare your present and past efforts.

    9. Google Analytics.

    If you aren’t using Google Analytics as part of your social strategy, it’s time to integrate it immediately. Head to the Acquisition tab to see a breakdown of your incoming traffic. This should give you a general idea of the success of your social campaign (at least in terms of site traffic compared to other sources). You’ll also be able to see a breakdown of which social profiles generate the most traffic within that span of users, and where those users are going. For example, you’ll be able to see which syndicated links tend to attract the most users, and you can adjust your posting strategy accordingly.

    10. SumAll.

    SumAll is especially useful if you’re managing multiple different accounts for your company, since it aggregates them into one interactive analytics platform. For example, SumAll features integration with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as well as non-social media accounts like Google Analytics and PayPal. SumAll is specifically intended to serve small business owners, so if you fit that description, you’ll probably find use with it. You can also customize reports, so on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, you’ll be able to get a snapshot of your progress on all fronts.

    These tools aren’t necessary to be successful in a social media campaign, but they are extremely useful if you’re serious about getting results. Social listening software, scheduling features, and analytic insights are all important components of a long-term, uninterrupted engagement strategy.

    Since all these tools are free, you don’t have anything to lose. Try a few of them out as a trial, and get a feel for what you want and need in a social media solution. Of course, if you want to get serious about social media marketing, but don’t have the money or resources, you can always consult with us—we’re experts!

  8. The 6 Biggest Social Media Mistakes of 2014

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    Social media can be a dangerous place. One wrong tweet can start a chain reaction of disgust, concern, or even hatred directed at your brand, and once that post is public—there’s nothing you can do to erase the fact that it happened.

    2014 was a great year for social media marketers, with brand-new platforms and a still-growing audience of users on every major channel, but it was also a year filled with unfortunate mistakes by some major brands.

    Take a look at some of the worst social media blunders we witnessed in 2014, and learn from them so you don’t repeat the same mistakes in the coming year:

    1. U.S. Airways Tweets an Inappropriate Photo.

    articleimage783Airways Tweets an Inappropriate Photo

    If you were paying close attention to Twitter in 2014, you no doubt saw or heard about the embarrassing gaffe made by U.S. Airways back in April. The company tweeted a pornographic photo for the masses to see—and even though they took it down almost immediately, the image was captured and re-shared by the masses, making U.S. Airways the subject of revulsion and mockery for days.

    The reason for the error was innocent enough. A fan had tweeted the photo to the company, and a social manager accidentally copied the URL to that photo instead of a URL he/she intended to tweet. It’s a mistake anybody could have made, but it’s also a mistake that anybody could have caught—if they were checking the links of their posts before posting. Take this as a lesson in proofreading; even if you’re confident in your abilities, double check the accuracy of each of your links before posting them.

    2. Chevy Spokesman Makes an Unfortunate Blunder.

    During the World Series MVP Award for 2014, a Chevy spokesman mentioned that the Chevy Colorado “combines class winning and leading, um, you know, technology and stuff.” Ordinarily, a mistake like this is bound to be exploited, leading thousands to social media to mock the spokesman and berate the brand.

    However, Chevy was a step ahead of the game. They took ownership of the mistake and flaunted it rather than trying to ignore it. They tweeted a picture of the vehicle with a caption that read “You know… class leading technology and stuff.” The image was a hit, getting shared thousands of times, and spawning the emergence of two trending hashtags, including #chevyguy. This is an example of how to take a mistake and prevent it from escalating negatively—take ownership of it, and don’t be afraid to humanize your brand. It worked out well for Chevy.

    3. Apple’s iPhone 6 Gets Praise From Beyond the Grave.

    articleimage783 Apple’s iPhone 6 Gets Praise From Beyond the Grave

    Ordinarily, celebrity endorsements are valuable. So valuable that companies are willing to pay celebrities millions in order to say some kind words about the brand. When Apple started fishing for celebrity endorsements for the iPhone 6, nothing was out of the ordinary.

    However, Apple accidentally published a post featuring praise from Joan Rivers, only a short time after her death in 2014. Clearly a mistake, it was later revealed that the post was scheduled far in advance, and wasn’t removed in a timely manner. The offending post was quickly removed when the error was realized, but the damage was already done. Take this as a lesson in placing too much trust in your post scheduler. These scheduling tools can be very useful, but “setting and forgetting” can be dangerous. Be sure to check your post queues regularly and weed out any posts that may no longer be appropriate.

    4. Facebook Tries to Get Sneaky.

    articleimage783 Facebook Tries to Get Sneaky

    One of the biggest social media mistakes of the year was made by one of the biggest social media companies. Facebook’s privacy policy and default privacy settings are no stranger to public attention. The company changes its privacy settings on a regular basis, and while the majority of users wouldn’t abandon the platform for making those changes, most people feel they deserve to be kept abreast of them.

    The problem came in 2014 when the Facebook app allowed access to the phone’s built-in camera, without explicitly asking for user permission. When users discovered this, the blowback was enormous, and Facebook had some serious apologizing to do. If they would have disclosed this default setting upfront with their users, the negativity of the situation could have been mostly—if not completely—avoided. Users value and demand openness from their favored brands.

    5. DiGiorno Misunderstands a Powerful Hashtag.

    DiGiorno made a seemingly innocent mistake that cost them a great deal of respect in their social community. Without knowing the story behind the hashtag #WhyIStayed, DiGiorno’s tweet “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” seems like a clever way for a brand to use a popular hashtag to engage with its readers.

    However, DiGiorno failed to research the hashtag before they started using it for their own gain. In reality, the hashtag was used by victims of domestic abuse to raise awareness on the issue and provide support to others in abusive relationships. Using this sensitive hashtag for a promotion incited a serious and understandable backlash from the community. Fortunately, DiGiorno recovered tactfully. They fully acknowledged their mistake, explained the reasons why it was made, and made a personal apology to anyone who expressed their anger, frustration, or disappointment toward the brand. While some of the damage was likely permanent, DiGiorno’s sensitivity to the situation prevented it from getting any worse.

    6. Delta Airlines Fails to Research Ghana.

    The United States played Ghana in the World Cup, and in an effort to gain some visibility from the showdown, Delta Airlines promoted an image intended to represent the match. The United States, appropriately, was represented by the Statue of Liberty. For Ghana, they chose a giraffe. There was only one problem: Ghana doesn’t have a native giraffe population, and is not commonly associated with the animal in any way.

    The key lesson here is to do your research before posting. One person’s assumption that there were giraffes in Ghana led to an embarrassment that affected the entire brand. Even if you’re confident in your assumptions, do a quick search to make sure that you’re right.

    The fast-paced nature and immediate public scrutiny of social media make it difficult to get involved with the medium and never make a mistake. As a social media manager, it is almost a guarantee that you’ll send out something erroneously or carelessly—but you still need to learn from the mistakes of others.

    Take the time to review your information before sending it out—that means doing research to make sure your facts are accurate, double checking to make sure your assumptions are correct, and proofreading to ensure you haven’t made an egregious error after copying and pasting. That also means checking your schedule queue multiple times to ensure the relevance and appropriateness of your coming posts.

    In the event that you do make a major mistake, the best thing you can do is be open and honest about it. Delete the post immediately if it is offensive, but don’t try to hide the fact that you made a mistake. Apologize publicly, and address your audience’s concerns individually and personally; it may take some time, but it is possible to restore your reputation and earn the forgiveness of your fans.

  9. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: Which Drives The Most Traffic?

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    There are dozens of popular social media platforms out there, each with its own advantages, disadvantages, and unique niche audience. Choosing which platforms to include in your social media strategy can be problematic, especially for business owners new to the world of digital marketing. Most business owners choose to go with at least one of, if not all of the “big three” platforms in the social media world—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but understanding which one of those drives the most traffic can help you better allocate and manage your time when it comes to posting and engaging your audience.

    Clearly, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have sizable audiences and easy management platforms, but which one is going to be the most effective for your business?

    Facebook

    articleimage759facebook

    Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world, and it’s usually the go-to choice for business owners just getting started in social media marketing. However, its demographic mix and primary function make it a secondary choice for most businesses.

    Total Potential Traffic

    Facebook has more than 1.2 billion active monthly users, which is an impressive number, making it any business owner’s first choice in terms of total market potential. However, just because there are 1.2 billion users doesn’t mean you’ll be able to reach that many individuals.

    Demographic Mix

    Just about everyone uses Facebook, so finding the perfect demographic for your product shouldn’t be a problem. The large pool of users makes it so even niche audiences have decent representation on the platform. It may be hard to track down those specific users (unless you’re using Facebook’s advertising platform, which we’ll touch on later), so don’t necessarily count on those niche demographic opportunities.

    Engagement Opportunities

    Facebook allows you to broadcast to everyone who likes or follows your page, but getting people to like and follow your page can be difficult. Unless you direct a sizable pool of existing customers to your Facebook profile or use an ad campaign to direct traffic immediately, building up your initial audience can be extremely difficult. Even then, Facebook’s complex news feed algorithm make it so you can’t guarantee the visibility of your posts—unless of course, you resort to “boosting” them with paid advertising.

    Advertising Options

    Facebook’s ad platform is very effective, and relatively inexpensive. Whether you’re attracting new likes or directing traffic to your main site, the options are all very affordable, and the analytics platform helps you determine exactly how effective your strategy was. You can also filter out exactly the type of people you want to see your ad—down to age, gender, geographic location, and interests.

    The Bottom Line

    Facebook has a huge potential audience, bigger than any other platform, but it’s hard to get the interest of that potential audience unless you use paid advertising as a boost. If you’re looking for sheer numbers and can afford to complement your strategy with ads, Facebook is a good choice. If you’re looking to build an audience for free, the other two will probably yield more traffic.

    Twitter

    articleimage759twitter

    Twitter, like Facebook, boosts a large audience, and while the demographic limitations are somewhat restrictive, Twitter has far more options for business owners looking to build an audience organically.

    Total Potential Traffic

    Twitter has about 284 million monthly active users, which pales in comparison to Facebook’s 1.2 billion, but is still a sizable crowd.

    Demographic Mix

    Twitter users tend to be younger than Facebook users (though there are exceptions to every rule). However, Twitter users also tend to be more talkative than their Facebook counterparts, making them easier to engage with under some circumstances.

    Engagement Opportunities

    Engagement potential on Twitter is the platform’s greatest strength. First, Twitter users are all public, so it’s much easier to track down and engage with new potential followers than it is on Facebook. Second, Twitter posts are short and news feeds are constantly updated, so you can get away with posting much more material than you could at Facebook, with virtually no risk of annoying your user base. Finally, open public conversations make it easier to build relationships with individuals while simultaneously improving your reputation to new potential followers.

    Because of these reasons, it’s relatively simple—though time-consuming—to build an audience organically and from scratch on Twitter.

    Advertising Options

    Like Facebook, Twitter has an advertising platform. However, you might find that your advertising dollars don’t go as far on Twitter as they do on Facebook. The total potential audience is narrower, and the analytics platform isn’t quite as insightful.

    The Bottom Line

    Twitter is an incredibly valuable platform for the business owner who wants to build an audience without resorting to paid advertising. While it doesn’t bolster quite as much total potential traffic as Facebook, the means to getting relevant traffic are simpler due to Twitter’s public and fast-paced interface.

    LinkedIn

    articleimage759linkdin

    LinkedIn is generally geared toward professionals, using resumes instead of personal profiles to showcase candidates. It’s a perfect opportunity for service-based and B2B companies to hunt down the perfect leads, though some business owners might find the total traffic potential lacking.

    Total Potential Traffic

    LinkedIn bolsters about 300 million monthly active users, slightly more than Twitter, but these users tend to use the platform more sparingly than their Facebook or Twitter counterparts.

    Demographic Mix

    LinkedIn is almost exclusively used by people trying to advance their careers in one way or another. LinkedIn demographics tend to be older and more professional, and the resume-like nature of profiles tends to limit insights on personal interests. This makes the platform ideal for businesses searching for specific professionals as potential leads, but nearly useless for other businesses.

    Engagement Opportunities

    LinkedIn has more engagement opportunities than Facebook; it’s hard to get much attention from updating your company page, but if you start or regularly participate in a Group, you should be able to build a reputation for yourself and generate a moderate following. Be prepared for more in-depth one-on-one conversations than the typical broadcast-based communications of the other platforms.

    Advertising Options                           

    LinkedIn does offer an advertising service, similar to Facebook, though nowhere near as comprehensive. This may be an option for B2B companies looking to rapidly accelerate their growth, but free engagements in LinkedIn Groups are generally a better use of your time.

    The Bottom Line

    LinkedIn has a respectable total audience, but you’re only going to benefit from that audience if you’re looking for specific individual professionals as potential leads. LinkedIn doesn’t have the broadcast power that Facebook or Twitter does, but you can make great impressions by taking advantage of their Groups pages (either by starting a Group or joining one that already exists).

    If you’re looking to dramatically increase your brand visibility online and get the most for your money when it comes to social SEO benefits, your best bet is to claim a presence on all of the “big three” platforms. They’re free to claim and easy to update, so you might as well nab all three as early as possible and update them on a regular basis.

    However, the platform you spend the most time on is going to be up to your ultimate goals as well as the composition of your business.

  10. 5 Psychology Studies that Provide Insight for Social Marketing

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    Social media marketing is a new field, and as such it’s been met with many differing opinions. Some view it as a fad while some hail it as the ultimate marketing channel. Some claim its benefits can’t be objectively measure, while others have tied their following numbers directly to an increase in revenue.

    No matter how much you’ve gotten involved with the medium in the past, a series of new psychology studies can help you better understand how social media has become such a powerful tool in our lives, and how social media marketers can take advantage of it. Read up on five of these important studies below:

    Princeton University Discovers the Importance of First Impressions

    articleimage757Princeton University Discovers the Importance of Fi

    Most people already realize the vital importance of first impressions. It’s why we dress up for interviews and meetings, and why we try to look and act our best on first dates. But a recent study from Princeton University suggests that first impressions can be based on incredibly subtle qualities—and are incredibly important in the social media world.

    In the study, participants were exposed to pairs of faces. Two sets of one identical pair were shown to separate groups of participants so that each participant would view the same two faces, but with slight alterations in their facial expressions. A subtle change in expression was more than enough to cause groups of people to significantly prefer one face over the other—people tended to trust one person more than the other, the person who was smiling, after briefly glimpsing each face.

    As a social marketer, you need to be wary that your followers’ first impressions of your online presence are going to set the tone for your entire relationship. Make sure your branding is consistent at all times, and each new piece of content you push out should in some way leave a lasting impression with the people who are seeing your brand for the first time. You should also take the time to welcome new followers individually and personally, to leave them with a positive first impression.

    The University of California Finds How Emotions Spread Online

    articleimage757University of Queensland

    When someone’s having a bad day at the office, they tend to bring down the mood of the entire place. When someone’s lively and having a great time, that jubilance is likely to spread. It seems intuitive that emotions are somewhat contagious, but much of that has to do with subtle things like body language and tonality, right?

    Actually, the University of California recently found that when a strong emotional reaction or sentiment is shared online, that feeling can spread socially just as it can in the real world. For example, let’s say you share something exciting. Your friends and followers who read that exciting statement are going to be more likely to post something exciting on their own over the course of the next few days, especially if they read more exciting posts in the meantime.

    Knowing that emotions are contagious, you can specifically create situations where people begin to associate your brand with positive feelings. For example, if you share something happy or funny and encourage your followers to do the same, you’ll introduce a wave of positivity throughout all your followers and followers’ followers. Strong emotional responses tend to generate more shares and more attention, so do what you can to introduce strong positive feelings whenever you can.

    Ipsos Finds Not All Sharers Are Equal

    Though not a Psychology study per say, Ipsos’s research into who shares what online and why shows us much about the nature of social sharing. According to this research, about one quarter of all people share “everything” or “most things” on their social media profiles, indicating a great willingness to divulge the details of their lives to the general public. However, another one fifth of the general population tends to share nothing at all.

    However, this data varies wildly both by region and by other demographics such as age and gender. Obviously, as a social marketer, you want to find an audience that shares your content as much as possible. The more your content is shared, the more visibility it’s going to get, and the more traffic and interest you’ll generate as a result.

    The key takeaway here is to write content that’s customized for the segments of your audience who are prone to sharing “everything” they encounter on the web. It may take you some time to figure this out, but if you can take advantage of this segment, you’ll maximize your content’s sharing potential.

    The University of Queensland Demonstrates the Sense of Community Online

    articleimage757 University of Queensland Demonstrates the Sense

    Communities function organically in the real world. When a person engages with a group, he/she feels more connected to the group, and vice versa. However, the online community has unique means of engagement—brands can interact with thousands of people simultaneously, while those people can respond or engage in conversations on their own.

    A recent study from the University of Queensland showed that users who were active posters on respective Facebook communities tended to feel more connected to those communities than inactive participants. This is somewhat intuitive; after all, if someone feels less connected to a community, he/she would certainly feel less inclined to post regularly.

    However, there is an important lesson here for social marketers. Engaging with your users in the form of a stream of content and responses to comments simply isn’t enough to foster a sense of community within your following. You have to find a way to get your followers actively involved with your page. If you can manage to influence more people to actively participate, you’ll cultivate a much greater sense of community amongst your own followers, and as a result, people will feel closer to your brand.

    Pew Research Center Identifies the Place of Influencers in Social Media

    The Pew Research Center recently published an article that identifies “power users” as the culprits behind the phenomenon we’ve all experienced—there are far more people consuming content on social media than there are producing content. These “power users” are responsible for the vast majority of all posts and tend to have the greatest followings as a result.

    As a social marketer, there are two things you can take away from this. First, you can woo these “power users” early on to increase your chances of getting shared and seen, not to mention building your following by dipping into those users’ followings. Second, if you eventually build yourself into your own “power user,” you can become a much greater influencer in your field. The key is to make yourself known as an authority by posting valuable, unique pieces of content and getting involved in as many conversations as possible pertaining to your field of expertise.

    Understanding the psychology behind social media use and interactions is the first step to building a social presence that makes an impact. If you can cater your strategy to your most valuable audience segments, make a great first impression, stimulate positive emotions and eventually build yourself into a social media “power user,” you can tap into the untold potential of the marketing channel and dramatically increase the traffic to your site. Beyond that, truly get to know your followers and give them the content they want to read.

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