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Category Archive: Social Media Marketing

  1. What Your Follower Behavior Tells You About Your Social Marketing Campaign

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    articleimage1064 What Your Follower Behavior Tells You About Your So

    Social media marketing can be a difficult strategy to quantify. Many marketers have completely abandoned it, believing that there’s no way to objectively determine the effectiveness of a campaign, while others continue posting blindly with no way of measuring the impact of their actions or content.

    There’s no single measure that can tell you exactly how powerful or effective your social media strategy is at any given point in time. However, there are a handful of insights you can gain about the strength of your campaign just by looking at the behavior you see in your followers.

    Watch for these qualities and analyze your audience to get a general sense of your campaign’s performance:

    Follower Counts

    articleimage1064 Follower Counts

    First, a word of caution: many marketers look at their follower counts as the sole indicator of a campaign’s health. This is a bad idea. There’s a major difference between the quality and quantity of a following; some social accounts with 100 followers can make a bigger impact than some social accounts with 10,000.

    That being said, the general trends you see in your follower count can be a good indication of how much impact you’re making. If you notice that your follower counts are slowly growing, month after month, it means that more people are attracted to your brand and you’re doing a great job of opening up to a wider audience. If your follower numbers are staying consistent, it means you’re doing okay. If your follower counts are dropping, there’s an indication of a serious problem that needs to be corrected.

    Likes and Favorites

    articleimage1064 Likes and Favorites

    The number of people who “like,” “favorite,” or otherwise silently show support of your posts is a positive indication of how appealing your immediate social-facing content is.As an illustration, imagine you’ve written a detailed post offsite, and you link to that article using a social media post. The “likes” you receive are more likely to be a result of how you framed that post than the actual post itself. This is because “liking” is a passive action, and oftentimes occurs even before a link is clicked.

    If you notice that your “like” and “favorite” counts are low, it means that your social-facing posting isn’t grabbing enough attention. You can correct this by spending more time developing strongly worded and exciting titles, and including different attention-grabbing mediums to go alongside your content, such as images and video clips.

    Comments and Responses

    articleimage1064 Comments and Responses

    Comments and responses should clue you in to how interactive your material is. For example, if your posts tend to attract long threads of comments, they can be considered more interactive than posts that barely generate any comments at all. Overall, more comments are a good thing—the longer you can keep your users talking about your posts, the greater brand exposure you’ll receive and the more loyal your followers will become.

    To increase the amount of comments and responses your posts facilitate, work on improving the conversational nature of your posts. That means you’ll need to find topics that people want to talk about, or present your material in a way that opens a conversation. For example, you could take the topic of your post and form it into an open question, which would theoretically prompt your users to chime in with their individual responses. Alternatively, you could simply select a controversial topic and pose it to an audience that’s poised to jump in and discuss it.

    Shares and Retweets

    articleimage1064 Shares and Retweets

    One of the most useful measurements for the health of your campaign is the number of shares or retweets your campaign receives. This is usually tied to both follower growth and increased “likes,” but it also holds alternative benefits, such as increased external links and greater domain authority. If you’re getting lots of shares, it means your content is optimized for circulation. If not, you’ll have to work on making your content’s and posts’ shareability.

    To make your content more shareable, use any or all of the following enhancing qualities:

    • Make your post new. Introduce a new idea or new data to make people want to share the information.
    • Include something surprising. People are more likely to share things they didn’t expect to see.
    • Add an interactive factor. Get your audience involved with something they can directly engage in, like a quiz or an exercise.
    • Use multiple mediums. Photos and videos are your friends here.

    Inbound Traffic

    Finally, take a look at how many of your followers end up following your links back to your site. Do this by logging into Google Analytics and taking a look at the “social” traffic your site is bringing in. The higher this number is, the more effective you are at shepherding your followers to your domain. If you find this number is low, or sinking, work to improve the clickability of your links. Use strong action words to compel people to click, and use teasing language to entice people to learn more about your posts.

    If you notice your brand’s impact in more than one of these categories faltering, it’s a sign that you need to make some major changes to your campaign. Take comfort in knowing that social media marketing is an always-evolving process, so your campaign will never be perfect; instead, there’s always an opportunity to make improvements and sustain a forward momentum. Make your adjustments, put them into place, and then follow-up in a few months to see the difference in your followers’ behavior.

  2. 7 Hacks to Get More Shares on Social Media

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    Building a strong social media presence can improve your brand awareness, increase traffic to your site, and eventually result in far more paying customers for your business. While there are many factors that play a role in determining the success of your social media strategy, none are as important as getting social shares.

    Getting your content and posts shared accomplishes many goals simultaneously. First, getting shared is an indication that you’re producing compelling content, giving you a positive feedback loop. Second, when your content is shared, more, newer people are able to see your content, which leads to greater following numbers and greater traffic. Finally, getting shared often is a social signal that tells Google you are an authoritative brand, which helps your site rank higher in search results.

    Obviously, getting lots of shares is the key to establishing a great social media presence, but it’s not always easy. Try using these seven hacks to get more shares from your social posts:

    1. Release New Information.

    articleimage1002 Release New Information

    Posting information that’s never been seen before tends to get far more shares than regurgitated or repurposed content. Originality goes a long way here; one of the best ways to accomplish this is to do your own original research within your industry and post your findings on social media. If you don’t have the time or resources to perform original research regularly, you can capitalize on a new product, new service, or new offer from your company. As long as your audience hasn’t ever seen it before, you’ll retain the higher chance of attracting shares.

    2. Ground Your Post With a Visual.

    articleimage1002 Ground Your Post With a Visual

    Written content can get shares, but visuals attract far more. Images and videos naturally draw social users’ eyes and make them more willing to share that content on their own profiles. Consider using a video as a platform for your content, or an infographic that summarizes your latest findings. Even if you’re just linking to a written onsite article, posting a related image in your syndication schedule will increase the total number of shares your content will receive. If you can’t afford to have a new image with every post, save your images for your most impactful pieces of content.

    3. Crack a Joke.

    People love to laugh, and humor is contagious. When someone encounters a piece of content online that makes them laugh, or even crack a smile, they’ll want to share that content with their friends to make them smile the same way. While posting one-liners all day won’t do much for the authority of your brand, associating your otherwise authoritative content with a quick punchline or a wry aside can help propel it to get more shares. Also, don’t waste time recycling some other joke you found online. Come up with something unique to your story for maximum impact.

    4. Capitalize on News and Trends.

    articleimage1002 Capitalize on News and Trends

    Novelty is valuable in the social sphere. People check their news feeds when they want to stay up-to-date, and if you give them information they didn’t already know or post something related to a trending topic, you’ll be far more likely to catch their attention. Post opinion pieces on recent industry news, or capitalize on trending topics and hashtags with your own original material. Showing that you’re up-to-the-minute with the latest information will showcase your brand as an authority, but more importantly, it will inspire people to share your material.

    5. Incentivize the Share.

    You must be careful with this strategy because it’s easy to appear like you’re simply pandering for shares or using gimmicks to improve your social standing. However, incentivizing shares with contests or special offers can be a valuable way to get your content circulating. For example, you could host a free giveaway to one randomly selected user from a pool of people who have recently shared your content. On a smaller scale, you could even make a post along the lines of “share this post if you agree that…”, which prompts certain segments of your audience to share your original post. In a sense, you’ll be asking for shares directly, but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to indulge you.

    6. Lead in with Teasing Copy.

    While visuals are important, the copy you use to lead into your post is also very important in cultivating social shares. With this strategy, it’s important to tease your audience. Give them a taste of what’s on the other side of your link, but don’t give away all the details. You probably see tons of shared posts on your personal news feed with phrases like “you won’t believe what happens next” following a basic premise. While such headlines are known as “click bait” and are generally frowned upon, the teasing technique they use in their copy is a well-established standard for attracting more shares.

    7. Share Others’ Content.

    The social media world is typically governed by rules of reciprocity, especially among leading influencers. As a general best practice, your brand should be regularly sharing content from other influencers and leaders in your industry. It’s good for both of your reputations. Since you’ll be doing favors for others, they’ll be far more likely to do favors for you. In effect, the more content posted by others you share, the more likely your content will be shared by them in turn.

    Social media is a constant experiment. You’ll never be able to accurately predict exactly how one of your posts will perform until you actually publish it, but you can gather information about your previous posts and make assumptions accordingly. Work to continuously refine your social content strategy, and revisit the tactics you’ve found to be previously successful.

  3. 7 Rules of Community Building in Social Media

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    Successful social campaigns are about more than just getting online and posting information. While social media platforms often make for great content syndication channels, your primary goal should be building a community. Only through community building will you be able to develop a wider reach for your brand, stronger loyalty among your customers, and a better medium of communication between you and your followers.

    Unfortunately, building a community takes time and a significant amount of effort. To make things worse, there are few reliable protocols for community building since each industry is different and your audience may behave in unpredictable ways.

    Still, there are seven tested rules for community building that you must follow in order to effectively facilitate the growth of a social community:

    1. Remain Active and Consistent.

    articleimage1001 Remain Active and Consistent

    The first rule is also the most important. While building your online community, you’re going to need to remain both active and consistent, indefinitely. That means logging in to each of your social profiles multiple times per day, every day, and posting at least a few times a day as well. Without that level of active consistency, people will have no reason to check your page for updates. It’s also important to remain consistent in the types of material you post. That means writing in a consistent brand voice, posting consistently high-quality material, and generally keeping your subjects and content to a specific theme.

    2. Don’t Just Sell.

    articleimage1001Don’t Just Sell

    When you first establish a social media presence for your company, it might be tempting to push your products or services. After all, if you have 100 followers and you post an ad for your latest product, you could get 5 of those followers to buy one. Unfortunately, while these types of sales tactics might have a short-term return, their effects on your long-term social community are devastating. Followers are turned off by companies who are only interested in pitching their products. Instead, focus on bringing value to your users and engaging in sincere, personal conversations. Show off your personality and show that you’re more than just a faceless corporation interested in sales.

    3. Respond to Everyone.

    Anyone who goes out of their way to engage your brand deserves to be recognized in some way. Any time you see someone share or comment on a piece of content you posted, and any time you see someone message you, respond to them, publicly wherever possible. This will show that you appreciate interaction, and will encourage more people to interact with your brand directly. Even if these comments are negative, don’t cover them up; instead, address them with patient understanding. This approach will make your brand seem more valuable to new customers and may salvage an otherwise damaged relationship.

    4. Engage With Influencers.

    Influencers are the only shortcuts in the world of social community building. By definition, influencers are social media users who are seen as highly authoritative in a specific industry, and as a result, they tend to have large followings. Reaching out to influencers in your industry can open the door to new segments of your audience and accelerate the impact of your posts. For example, merely mentioning an influencer in conversation might spark them to share a piece of your content, which could get thousands of new eyes on your brand and your material. Use as many influencers as you can, especially at the beginning of your growth. Eventually, you’ll become one in your own right.

    5. Use Trending Topics.

    Staying topical is a good strategy no matter which social media platforms you use. Experiment with social listening software or simply keep active tabs on your news feed to find out what people are talking about and what they’re most interested in reading. Once you have that information, the next step is obvious—use it! If you have time to write articles around the new trends, feel free to, but don’t be afraid to simply mention them in short social posts. It shows you pay attention to the world around you and gets you much more visibility for your brand.

    6. Start Conversations.

    articleimage1001Start Conversations

    Communities aren’t one-directional. In order to be successful, your audience members must feel comfortable to engage with one another as much as they are engaging with your brand. The best way to facilitate this type of atmosphere is to start conversations. Get your users to talk to each other however you can. Typically, the best ways to do this are through controversial subjects (which tend to elicit strong opinions) or topical matters (which attract a lot of attention). Keep these conversations going by getting involved yourself.

    7. Encourage Shares and Participation.

    In order to keep your community going, you’ll need to attract more and more followers to your brand. The best way to do this is to get your existing followers to do the work for you. Every time one of your followers shares a piece of content, your brand gets exposed to several dozen new people. Therefore, the more shares and page participations you can encourage from your existing fan base, the greater your potential impact on new customers will be. Write shareable content, share viral material, and host contests to encourage more of these actions.

    Put these rules into practice for your ongoing social media strategy immediately. Building a community takes time, so the sooner you’re able to build momentum, the sooner you’ll be able to start reaping the benefits.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    articleimage1creatingcontent

     

    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

    articleimage2socialmediamarketing

    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

    articleimage1greatcontent

    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.

  6. 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

    articleimage926Best Practices for Social Bookmarking

    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.

  7. 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.

    articleimage920 instagram

    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.

    articleimage920tumblr

    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.

  8. 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.

    articleimage845whitepapers

    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.

    articleimage845Original Research

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

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