Archive | March, 2017

Why Surprise Is Your Secret Weapon In Social Media Marketing

27 Mar

There are a lot of potential “secret weapons” you could have in social media marketing. Maybe you’re using a platform that your competitors haven’t found yet, or a tool that cuts your effort in half (I have my own list of favorites in this area), or maybe you have a posting rhythm that seems to get more engagements than other variants.

All these things are helpful, but there’s one emotional factor that can boost your campaign’s effectiveness more than any of these incremental improvements: surprise. Surprising your readers adds a number of benefits to your campaign, if you know how to do it right.

So why is surprise so effective, and how can you use it to your advantage?

Surprise: The Intensifier

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that surprise, as an emotion, functions as a psychological amplifier. It’s why surprising punchlines tend to make jokes funnier. It’s why an innocent-looking mannequin can suddenly seem intensely frightening. It’s why we’re angrier at people who take us off guard than those whose actions function as more of a slow burn.

Emotional intensity is valuable for anything you’re trying to accomplish; whatever your goals are for your target audience, more intense is better. If you want them to feel sad, make them feel depressed. If you want them to laugh, cripple them with laughter.

Dopamine and Bonding

Surprise releases dopamine in the brain, which is usually a good thing; dopamine is a feel-good chemical that’s released when eating, embracing, having sex, or engaging in some other pleasurable activity. On the darker side, it’s associated with addiction—but you probably won’t have to worry about people getting addicted to your brand. Instead, you can focus on making your customers experience “feel good” sensations when they engage with your brand.

Along these lines, dopamine is associated with bond formation. Usually, this is relegated to friends or relatives, but experiencing regular releases of dopamine when engaging with a particular brand could help solidify relationships between brands and their audiences.

Novelty and Memory

Do you ever get home from your daily commute and have absolutely no recollection of making it? That’s because our brains are better at forming memories of novel experiences, rather than predictable ones. Your commute doesn’t change much from day to day, so there’s no point for your brain to take up valuable space in remembering it.

Instead, completely novel experiences—like ones that take you by surprise—are more likely to be stored. This means that any content or posts you produce will be more likely to be remembered by your target audience than ones with predictable messages.

Competitive Differentiation

If you want your marketing campaign to be successful, you need to find a way to differentiate it from everything else like it. If your audience can’t distinguish between your brand and those of your competitors, your messaging won’t stand out, and their buying decision will come down to a coin toss.

The way to make your business stand out is by giving your users things they wouldn’t expect; surprise them with facts, information, and types of entertainment they aren’t getting from other pockets of your industry. It will pay off with more engagements and higher brand recognition.

The Urge to Share

People who experience surprise are more likely to share that experience with others, which makes surprise a wonderful tool if your social following is inactive. Think about the last time you heard a hilarious joke you didn’t see coming—didn’t you want to share it with someone else, almost immediately?

And the last time you heard a shocking statistic—you probably made a mental note to discuss it with someone later. Surprise is contagious, which means if you’re able to surprise your followers effectively, you’ll have higher rates of sharing and further distribution for your content.

Practical Tips for Surprising Your Followers

All this sounds nice, but what steps can you actually take to surprise your followers? I recommend pursuing three main areas, or types of surprises:

  • Offer new information. Your first option is to offer information your audience doesn’t know, doesn’t suspect, and hasn’t heard before. For example, you may reveal information in a new study that confirms kale is actually bad for your health. In this type of surprise, you’ll need to be sure that your information is actually valid; if you’re found to sensationalize information of questionable accuracy, your audience members will lose trust in your brand.
  • Play off type. You could also surprise your readers by doing something unexpected, or playing against your usual brand “type.” For example, Wendy’s recently started making fun of its followers and commenters on Twitter. The extremity of this strategy makes it questionable to imitate, but there’s no denying the surprise people felt when reading these jokes was a major determining factor in the campaign’s success.
  • Add a twist. Finally, take something “usual” and add a twist to it. It could be a surprise ending to a viral video, or a conventional post format that you flip on its head. I’m intentionally vague with this area because there are so many different directions you can take it.

Surprises are valuable marketing tools, so long as you don’t use them as gimmicks. Going for cheap surprises, or using surprises too often could leave your followers feeling manipulated or exhausted. But if used sparingly and strategically, surprises can easily take your campaign to new heights of engagement

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How to Do Social Media Marketing Right

20 Mar

Walking around any populated environment you would notice most people are on their phones. They are more likely to be surfing the web or scrolling through social media pages. Social media is being used for so much more than simply connected people to their friends. It is being used to organize groups, communicate within a family or church organization, sell products, alert people about nearby events, and can even be used to send out graduation and marriage announcements. Also joining this long list of possibilities is the opportunity social media provides as a marketing technique.

Social media is at our fingertips making it an advantage for business owners to reach people regardless of location, thereby allowing one to expand their business outside of their specific geographical location. Businesses can keep their private information and product lists on an all flash array but their marketing information can be most beneficial when it is posted on social media. It allows businesses to stay connected with their customers and help get their name and product information into the world.

Like with many business techniques, social media marketing can be the wrong choice if businesses don’t take the steps to use it in the most beneficial way. Four tips to help businesses use social media marketing to their advantage are as follows; ask customer to follow your social media sites, use tools to manage profiles while refraining from automation, expand your social media horizon, and remember social media is visual media.

Ask Customers to Follow You

One of the most important things to remember when starting a social media account for your business is that it doesn’t help unless you have followers. Letting customers know that they can follow your business on social media will get your name out there and reach more customers. You can also post about new sales and offers leading to more people visiting your store. Another useful tip is to add a link to your business website. This will allow your customers and followers to buy more of your product from the comfort of their own home.

Use a Tool to Manage Profiles While Refraining from Total Automation

Social media management tools allow users to share the same post on multiple websites. These types of tools work especially well with small business who are struggling to maintain more than one social media account. Social media management tools provide tracking and time-saving features such as message scheduling, merging with other marketing and business tools, and social analytics. Some of these tools include Buffer, Hootsuite, IFTTT, SocialFlow and Sprout Social.

Staying away from total automation and posting something new and unique every so often can keep your followers and customers entertained. By posting without using social media management tools, it can show your followers that you are just like them and that your business is user-friendly. Posting personal things and replying to comments can help build a relationship between you and your followers, leading to a professional relationship between the business and its customer.

Expand Your Social Media Horizon

Avoid limiting your business to the top social media websites and keep in mind that not everyone uses those more popular sites. Social media marketing allows small and large businesses to take advantage of social networking. Expanding media uses allows for an outreach to more potential customers. As you determine what social media websites work best for you and your business, take advantage of management tools to keep your business active across several social sites at the same time.

Social Media is Visual Media

People spend hours scrolling through social media feeds. They scroll pasts long paragraphs and are more likely to stop and look at a picture or watch a video. Knowing this, you can get people to stop scrolling and look at your post by using colorful and creative posts that attract attention. Creating interesting images, engaging fans and posting photos of your business events are ways you can add to the visual appeal of your social media presence.

Social media is everywhere and instead of avoiding all the teenage rants and political rumors, businesses should use it to their advantage. Many businesses have created social media marketing teams to help do just that. The goal of these teams is to find ways to reach out to customers and keep them interested in the business. Social media teams connect with other company employees and customers across the country to help the business continue to succeed. Keeping up with the latest internet trends will help businesses, both big and small, to keep the attention of past and future customers.

 

Mobile page speed is important, but not (yet) for SEO

13 Mar

There are plenty of good reasons to make your mobile site fast, and Google just reminded us of them with their new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed. Among them:

  • Improving conversion rate and increasing profit, as 40 percent of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • Customer retention, as 79 percent of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again.

But is SEO one of those reasons? Will businesses that optimize their Google page speed score to 100/100 on mobile be able to rank higher than businesses that don’t?

The answer to the first question is “yes,” in the sense that Google has said that speed is a ranking factor (and has been since 2010), and that this year they will use the speed of your mobile pages instead of desktop when determining your mobile rankings.

But it’s not clear that this is true in practice today, or that businesses that optimize their Google page speed score on mobile will rank higher than businesses that don’t.

If this were the case, the sites with the most organic search traffic would also be the fastest, but this clearly isn’t the case.

I ran the top 1,000 sites from SEMrush’s list of sites with the most organic traffic through Google’s Page speed and Mobile-friendly tool, and 800 of them went through successfully.

The good news is that 93 percent of these top sites were at least mobile-friendly. This is up from 40 percent of the top sites prior to Google’s mobile-friendly update in 2015.

But these sites are not as fast as they are mobile-friendly.

Just 2 percent of these top sites scored between 90 and 100 on Google’s mobile page speed test, and the average page speed score was 55/100.

Desktop sites were faster, but not by much. Just 4 percent of these top sites scored above 90, with the average score being 67.

The average site in Google’s study took between seven and 11 seconds to load. When you consider that a site that loads in nine seconds on mobile gets a page speed score of about 60, it seems that top-ranked sites are very similar to other sites that don’t rank well when it comes to mobile page speed.

What this means is that at the moment, page speed on mobile is much less important than a number of other signals that determine ranking. You may want to make your pages faster in order to improve conversion rates and customer retention, but it likely won’t help your SEO.

Does this mean you shouldn’t care about mobile page speed?

Before you go running into your boss’s office shouting, “STOP THE MOBILE PAGE SPEED PROJECT!!” there is one other thing that I will leave you with.

With the mobile-first index, Google will start using your mobile page speed for ranking, if they’re not doing so already. Speed is so important to them that they’ve taken it into their own hands with the AMP project, giving sites a way to display their content quickly on mobile. Most of the search traffic on Google is mobile, and as we’ve seen with Mobilegeddon, they are not above incentivizing webmasters with ranking increases if they want to change the face of the web.

With that in mind, I’d recommend the following to SEOs thinking about the impact of mobile page speed on ranking:

Increasing page speed for mobile searchers visiting your site shouldn’t be a top priority for SEO at the moment. There’s plenty of evidence that increasing page speed is good for your bottom line, which can increase the quality of SEO traffic you receive, but there’s no evidence that mobile page speed is a significant ranking factor at this time. Make your site as fast as you can, but don’t deprioritize other proven SEO tactics to get a perfect score on the mobile page speed test.

Mobile page speed, like mobile-friendly sites in 2014, could become a more significant ranking factor in the future, especially given the impending rollout of the mobile-first index. If it does, it’s likely that Google will make an announcement, as they did with the mobile-friendly update, at which point you should put resources towards making your native site faster.

In the meantime, prepare for it by making your native site as fast as you can without diverting resources from other projects, investing in AMP where it makes sense and helping whoever in your organization is responsible for conversion optimization to secure the budget by sharing Google’s research on page speed impact on conversions and customer retention with them.

Using social media to jump-start your content marketing strategy

6 Mar

Content marketing and social media seem like they were made for each other. There are currently over 2 billion social media users worldwide. Quality content is what makes social media tick. Unfortunately, most brands have a social media voice that is mostly detached from their content marketing strategy.

If content marketing is a high priority for you, squeezing the last drop out of social media is critical. Ultimately, the goal is to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible, and for that, social media is perhaps the best way to expand your reach and generate more traffic.

That said, it’s much more than just a tool to help gain exposure. Along with a myriad of business benefits, it serves as a direct channel for your brand where you can incorporate offers, live updates and customer service.

The key to using social media to boost awareness for your website is by engaging viewers with useful, relevant material — when they need it, as opposed to when you create it. This task is a lot harder than it seems.

Keep in mind, the stream of information on social media moves very, very quickly. The last thing you want is for your message to get buried and lost before anyone has had a chance to see it.

Let’s take a look at how you can take your content marketing efforts to the next level.

Social monitoring leads to better content

The best social media marketers don’t start by posting. They start by listening. Social monitoring (or listening) is a great way to gauge how your target audience feels about a particular subject or industry.

Did you know that Facebook users collectively generate around 3.2 billion likes and comments every day? Monitoring what people are liking and commenting on is crucial to finding out what’s currently trending.

Sure, manually checking up on your industry across all the social media platforms can be tedious. Luckily, plenty of tools are out there that enable you to track what the masses are saying so that you can learn about their interests, perceptions and concerns.

Brandwatch is one that will give you data-driven insights as to what your customers and influencers in your industry are talking about — including the competition. Identifying the most pressing questions or concerns can help gear your messaging to popular demand.

With that knowledge, you can create content that provides true value to your target audience. For instance, if you run an industry blog, you can use these social insights to determine relevant topics to write about and to create catchy headlines to draw in visitors.

BuzzFeed is the quintessential example of this. Their casual, yet informative platform is constantly producing high-quality content that touches on an array of relevant topics in the field of news, entertainment and general interest. As of this writing, they’ve had over 550 million global visits in the last 30 days.

To use social monitoring to find topics to gear your content toward, you’ll want to brainstorm a list of key terms and phrases relevant to your brand and industry. This will work to pinpoint the interests of your target community so you can design content to fit their needs.

Content built around these terms can then go to multiple channels in multiple formats and eventually be routed back to social media for sharing.

While your usual social media management tools like Hootsuite and Twitter’s own TweetDeck offer good collaboration opportunities for the purpose of posting and scheduling, companies with cross-channel marketing departments can look toward objective-focused task management tools. WorkZone or Brightpod, for instance, can help you manage interdepartmental communications or track the effectiveness of integrated marketing campaigns.

Social sharing means more eyeballs

The ultimate purpose of content creation is to get it in front of as many eyes as possible. The beauty of social media is that once your content is out there, there are few limits to where it can reach.

Encouraging users to share content can be done in many ways. First off, the overall look of a piece matters a lot. As a general rule of thumb, think visually with each post. Visual content gets more views, clicks, shares and likes than text-based material. For instance, on Facebook and Twitter, photos get 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs.

If you produce blog content, you need to go beyond just placing “easy-to-find” social share buttons all over your page. Try things like Click to Tweet in your next article. Choose the tweet the way you’d choose a headline; embed things like interesting quotes, facts or images within your content in a compelling way so the reader is inclined to post it.

Content is meant to be shared. Social media is the perfect vehicle to get your material noticed with a chance to go viral.

Make influencers your workhorses

Finding the perfect influencer on social media can be a game-changer that skyrockets your content marketing efforts. The right influencer can generate more than double the sales of paid advertising and increase client retention.

A simple retweet or share by an individual with a large social following can do wonders for your content as it is exposed to a vastly wider audience than usual. Why do you think companies pay celebrities tons of money to tweet about brands or products? The math goes beyond just how many followers they have. It’s about the level of engagement they have with their fans.

One of my favorite influencer marketing campaigns was Adidas’s #MyNeoShoot, where they recruited Selena Gomez to promote their Neo line. Gomez invited users to take pictures of themselves and apply to be the next Adidas model. By the time the campaign ended, Adidas had gained 12,000 entries, 71,000 brand mentions and 41,000 new Instagram followers.

Locating influencers on social media can take a bit of digging. Look into your industry and identify the key figures. This could be anyone like a blogger, a journalist, a political figure, or even another business owner.

Tools like Klout allow you to measure influencer scores to determine the best ones to pursue in your field. While you shouldn’t take such scores by their face value, they offer a good place to start your identification and outreach process.

Forming a relationship with a good influencer could be the best business move you ever make.

Conclusion

Social media should be a cornerstone of your content marketing strategy. Chances are, you’re already spending hours of your time researching and crafting awesome content. All of your hard work deserves to get as much attention as possible.

Tweaking your social media presence with a purpose is the key to effectively distributing your content and increasing the reach of your brand messaging.