Archive | January, 2018

4 Ways to Apply Data Science to Social Media Marketing in 2018

29 Jan

Harvard Business Review famously described data science as the “Sexiest Job of the 21st Century” in 2012, causing a massive explosion in opportunities in this space. Today, data science has spread its hold over the digital marketing landscape.

Particularly for social media marketing, data science promises a lot. From advanced analysis of social media activity on branded content campaigns to create insightful user personas via social media listening, to complex data patterns made easy to understand via visualizations, to overcoming the perennial problem of ad fraud in advertising ecosystems, data science has potential applications that significantly improve social media for brands.

In this article, I’ll cover four ways in which brands can leverage data science for better social media marketing results in 2018.

It’s disappointingly common for people to use data science when they actually mean data analysis or analytics, and that’s not exactly right. Data science is not even business intelligence. It’s way broader in scope, and it involves exploration of multisource data to understand unseen underlying pattern that bring out important insights and relationships, which can be expressed through visualizations.

Moving beyond word clouds with data-science-powered tools

Word clouds have been trusted tools for social media marketers to analyze social conversations and understand what’s being discussed.

Although brands could often stumble upon an important pattern, word clouds are, in reality, pretty blunt tools. Unless you have a high volume of activity, word clouds can be misrepresentative, requiring marketers to carefully guard against irrelevant words.

Thankfully, marketers have access to tools that leverage the power of data science along with natural language processing algorithms in order to contextualize word usage and deliver meaningful insights.

BuzzGraphs, for instance, show you how words are linked, and which words are most frequently used. Entity analysis also helps, associating words and small word groups with their semantic types, such as a brand, a person, a website, etc. Deep diving into BuzzGraphs and entity analysis is possible in order to gather more insight.

Data science for community groupings

Social media marketing campaign results need to be measured and improved continually. Targeting strongly connected groups, naturally, amplifies campaign effectiveness.

First, identify topic areas that receive good responses as a starting point for your community grouping campaign.

Data science has tremendous applications here. Based on the frequency of keywords observed, marketers can identify the most commonly discussed topics in social conversations. The topics can then be analyzed across social platforms to classify them.

In 2015, research journals published a lot of content about the use of machine learning in social media message classification. Today, marketers can use tools to execute the same.

Next, leverage cluster analysis to identify how people participating, for instance, in a Twitter conversation are associated with each other. Such analysis can then group people together, separating weakly connected groups.

Visualizations for greater insights

Social media explosion has been one of the reasons why the volume of global data is surging every year. Each regular social media user’s timeline is potentially the story of his or her life. Visualizations make it practical for marketers to understand these stories and generate insights that can massively improve social media marketing.

Social graph visualizations, for instance, showcase the social dynamics playing out around us. SociLab, for example, lets you visualize your LinkedIn network and evaluate its “quality.”

Complex relationship patterns and social groupings can become clearer than ever through visualizations. Data-science-powered social media tools help you by creating visualizations such as scatter plots to present correlations, pie charts to show proportions, line graphs to show trends and tables to show exact values. Hootsuite Analytics, for instance, can take your social media metrics and transform them into visualizations that make them much more insightful.

Advanced persona research backed by social media listening

Customer personas are much more effective than broad demographic descriptors. Personas are meant to humanize, although they’ve traditionally been filled with marketing jargon that eventually kills the effectiveness of targeting campaigns.

Data-science-backed tools can transform how brands conduct market research using social media data. Social media listening platforms can allow marketers access to global conversations, bringing together large data volumes, capturing customer opinions and trends and feeding the data to a brand’s specific market research campaign:

  • Begin with social media listening for researching a central topic.
  • From the general data, build maps of the most crucial consumer conversations.
  • Export the data to a spreadsheet and clean it.
  • Develop a listening dashboard to monitor discussions.
  • Study the natural language of the market and build it into your customer personas, helping copywriters create social content that converts more often.

Data is being called the fuel of the present and future. Your social media analytics need to hit overdrive, powered by data science. Trust the methods explained in this guide to get started.

Social media marketing tips for local business owners

22 Jan

You have a brick and mortar business, but is something missing? You’re chatting up with the locals, hosting events, you’re even posting on Instagram. But you know, you’re missing something. You’re having the case of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and perhaps the truth is, you’re just not being social enough?

It’s now just a push of a button and a fingertip away from engaging with your ideal customer. Google has now even begun to use the term Mobile Moments in regards to the consumer’s journey across devices. Social media is a 24-hour powerhouse, with users engaged in all hours of the day. There are roughly around 2.1 billion smartphone users.
Mobile Moments

In a recent study, it showed 54% of shoppers are expected to shop in these Mobile Moments (meaning online on their mobile devices). So what can help you target these incredibly tech-savvy consumers? Before we go there, here is a list of how many people are plugged into social media on some of the most popular social media apps, giving you a bird’s eye view of the potential reach that a good social media campaign can have on your business:

Instagram with 300 million + users
WhatsApp with 700 million
Facebook messenger has 600 million users
(All of the above owned by Facebook)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg

But how will they know you even exist? There are still apps such as the ever-elusive Snap Chat (Which FB tried to buy out at one point), LinkedIn, Twitter, and honestly, the list goes on and on. This can be a bit intimidating if you’re not up to speed with how social media functions and that’s why I put together a list that would help you start off on the right track when it comes to reaching the technologically empowered shopper.

11 Social media marketing tips that can help you connect with your audience & take your small business up a notch.

When it comes to posting on social media remember that it’s not just about captioning off that perfectly captured filtered image, it’s about connection, networking, being socially intelligent and strategic.

1. Brand your Social Media
Stay away from those generic filters. Just because it’s easily available doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with a price. The price of engagement, that is. Branded images allow you to have a distinctive look and appealing brand to those who pop in on your feed. Allowing them to stay a bit longer, convert into a lead and possibly a sale. No one likes murky, dark or blurry vision, why use it on your social feed? A great app to help you edit as easily as pressing a button is the VSCO app which you can download straight to your smartphone. It allows you to make your Instagram pop like it’s never done before. Light and Bright are usually a great starting point.

2. Have a blog
This is something I advise all business owners to have because it allows you to have more online visibility, customer loyalty and set you apart from your competitors. You don’t have to write up a novel, 250 – 350 characters work great. And you don’t have to post every single day! Once a week to every other week is perfectly fine.
How powerful can your blog be?

“Your Google ranking will go up dramatically. Whereas Google and other search engines may take two or three weeks to list your new website in search results, new blog sites and new blog entries are indexed every day. From comments, you will accumulate external links both into and out of your site, and get additional ranking from Google” -via Business Insiders

3. Add Value
Make sure you’re adding content that not only jives with your brand but incorporates value to your readers. Done right a blog curated, branded and socially spread the right way can have you hundreds up-to thousands of visits a month. You can easily set one up through your website hosting provider and if you’re using Squarespace or it is nothing but a phone-call or easy set up away.

4. Use Pinterest
Tailwind is a great app that allows you to schedule posts on Pinterest. Pinterest is like Google with images. It’s a large index of beautiful digital sticky notes that you can’t help but click and read. Pinterest, in a nutshell, is a visual search engine. It’s not just for looking up incredibly tasty Christmas cookie recipes or how to decorate your home for the holidays, it’s a social media beast! Use it wisely my friends.

5. Design your images
Canva – If you’re not already using it you need to. Canva is a graphic designer that you’ve folded up and placed in your back pocket. If you don’t do anything but create pinnable images, it is well worth your time to look into it. Plus canva has a FREE version. With this tool in your back pocket consider making your post pin worthy. Meaning, slap some clickbait on that image!

6. Cross Promote your content
Thank goodness for integration! If cash is King automation in the small business world is Queen. The best way I discovered in cross posting meaning posting one time and it posts just about on every social media channel you are on. Using an app called IFTTT (If This Then That). You can easily cook up recipes that post on Instagram and have your images also showing up on Twitter. Instagram doesn’t play nice with Twitter when it comes to posting images. Instagram also integrates and allows you to post on Facebook and Tumblr, but with IFTTT all you would have to do is share it one time without choosing additional options when posting. Zapier & an FB messenger tool called ManyChat are other apps which allow you to automate and stay connected.

7. Use Strategy
With Facebook constantly changing their algorithms, Instagram no longer being what it once was there is a unique way of posting that can help you drive in more traffic to your business and using Apps such as Social Sprout or Hootsuite that can make your life much easier while your social engagement climb. They allow you to post to your Twitter, Facebook group, Facebook page etc. on a schedule. For Facebook, I recommend scheduling post directly onto Facebook as its algorithms are more in favor of a “genuine” post as opposed to a post, posted from an outside app or bot. While using Twitter, go ahead and schedule out those posts straight from your app. Tailwind (used for Pinterest as stated above) can also point toward your Instagram but I recommend having the traffic drive more towards your website.

8. Using Tags
Hashtags are not just to randomly use in a sentence just to look #cool. Used strategically it can help customers and clients better find you. Make sure to include and use Geotags towards your overall location helping those tech-savvy customers find your business and land on that beautifully curated feed you created, making them want to scroll a bit longer and visit in the future. Don’t have a brick and mortar? Geotag the city you do business from.

9. Giveaways
Allow you to engage with your audience. A great way to truly use the giveaways to your advantage is by asking your audience not just to comment but to tag a friend in order to enter said giveaway. A bonus is hosting giveaways both on your Facebook business page & Instagram Accounts. If you really want to get techy, FB ads are a great way to place new eyes in front of your business. And since you got the branded images, cool looking #hashtag sentences, what prospect wouldn’t you lead towards a very worthy sale. Win-Win.

10. Schedule Posts
In favor of using the latest apps, I recommend building content at least a month in advance, scheduled out around those special moments or promotions you would like your customers or clients to take advantage or be a part of. This allows you to think outside the box, giving you time to be creative and prepare for those amazing turnouts.

11. Be Authentic
People don’t want to connect with a “business”. They want to connect with real people, with a heart and soul behind those beautifully displaying images and perfect captions. Business is about serving people and sometimes the best way to do that is by being authentic & genuine with your audience. By allowing the consumer to get to know a bit more about your brand identity opens up a deeper relationship and brand loyalty with them. An example of this is by posting campaigns that you care about, local events that your business funds or are a part of and why. This can also help build awareness into the heart of your brand because influence in any capacity is powerful.

And a Bonus Tip

Go LIVE – Videos are the new black. Meaning, in the words of Zoolander, Videos are hot right now. If a consumer were to choose between a business that was using video versus the same type of business who wasn’t using video, the consumer would choose the business capitalizing on video visibility hands down. The reason? Brand awareness. There is a deeper connection made with video and a result of higher visibility. In other words, adding a product video on your landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Using tools such as Zoom can help in creating great live videos with just a push of a button.

Alas, if all else fails you can always outsource or hire someone to help you set up your social media the right way for your unique business needs.

3 Basic Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2018

15 Jan

Most companies have social media marketing teams, strategies, and eventual goals. Yet, many don’t understand how these best tie in to existing business goals.

Any company that uses the Internet to drive business will engage in social media marketing. However, many businesses incorporated social media after their businesses reputation and goals were established. This can force a business to reconsider their overall business strategy.

Avoid this in 2018 by dodging these three basic social media marketing mistakes.

1. Social Media Should be a Marketing Focus, not an Add-on

According to Emarketer, almost 90% of U.S. companies are using social media marketing in their business strategies. Despite that, most companies use social media platforms as an add-on to existing marketing strategies. Instead of crafting a strategy for social media marketing in general and for each platform individually, companies often use social media merely as a new medium to spread an existing marketing message.

Many companies then work in reverse to link relevant social strategies to business strategies. This allows them to prove the ROI of the marketing plan with greater clarity.

Nevertheless, a CMO survey shows that nearly half of these businesses’ marketing teams are incapable of detailing the specific returns of their social media marketing investment.

Another way marketers lose focus is by getting trapped in the social-media gratification loop. On a given platform, marketers look to gather large numbers of likes, comments, followers, and shares. These numbers look great during presentations, but what do they actually mean? If you can’t quantify the value of a high number of followers, chances are your social media goals aren’t correlating to specific business goals. In order to understand the ROI of every social media marketing strategy, you have to be sure to connect overarching business strategies to social media marketing strategies from the very beginning.

2. Your Business Needs the Right Tools to Manage and Apply Social Media

Depending on the size and scale of your business, it’s important to create a social media presence across the entire company. These days, each department will need to be aware of social media and its ability to expand the scope of any sector. In order to keep standards across departments, you might even need a dedicated social media management team.

As we’ve included in pretty much every digital marketing post we’ve ever made, you must use a robust analytics platform to gauge, study, and improve your marketing strategies. Google Analytics, for example, can give you web traffic numbers broken down by age and geographical demographics, time of day, conversion statistics, bounce rate, and types of devices used to access your page.

This information gives you the ability to see what’s working and what’s not. It will tell you what domains and social media platforms are bringing you the most intention–a telltale sign of where you need to invest more time and effort.

3. Don’t Just Focus on the top Social Media Platforms

Another common mistake social media marketers make is limiting the brand’s social media real estate to only the most widely used platforms. While having a presence on many social media platforms increases authority, perception of authority, and overall marketing success, only two-thirds of the top companies are using YouTube. The numbers are even lower for fast-growing platforms like Instagram (under 50%). These numbers are from 2016, but from the chart below you can see that not much has changed since then.

Failing to represent your company on every available social media platform could potentially cause you to miss out on business opportunities. Consider this: if your business wants to increase its marketing reach to the Millennial generation, but it’s not using Snapchat, it’s missing the mark.

What social media marketing strategies has your business implemented? Have you ever had to restart a marketing campaign to better understand ROI?

New Year, New Strategy: How To Audit Your Social Media Marketing Campaign

8 Jan

We’re just starting a new year, and for most marketers that means exciting changes and preparing for a successful year of brand promotion and customer interaction on one of the most cost-efficient platforms available to us—social media. There’s no better way to start than to audit and evaluate last year’s efforts, so you can replicate your best strategies, eliminate your worst, and learn from all the experiments you attempted throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to approach this process?

Measure Year Over Year Results

Your first foray into your year-end audit should be a high-level snapshot of how you performed over the previous year. After all, your results—your bottom line—should be the central driving factor in your campaign.

Assuming you had a baseline in 2016, take a look at the following statistics, comparing them against your 2017 results:

  • Follower growth. How many new followers have you gained this year? This is a bit of a vanity metric, but it can still help you track your popularity growth.
  • Click-throughs and traffic. How often do your followers click the links you provide? How much traffic growth is your site seeing?
  • Engagements and mentions. How many conversations are you having with your audience? How involved are they? How often is your brand mentioned by people on social media?
  • Budget. You should also consider how much you spent, one year over the other.

If your growth rates are roughly the same, you know your tactics are on par with the previous year’s; for many marketers, this is a victory, but I consider it a loss. If you aren’t experimenting on a regular basis, you’re depriving yourself of opportunities for near-constant improvement.

If your results are actively better or worse than last year’s, your next job is to isolate the variables responsible for the discrepancy. These are some of the most common:

  • New strategies or tactics. Did you initiate any new strategies, or launch any new tactics? If so, do the changes in your results coincide with the timing of those new strategies? If that’s the case, you can reasonably conclude that these strategies had the positive or negative effect. Look at things like your content quality, your audience targeting, and the type of content you created.
  • Budget and publication frequency. Did you change your budget, or the volume of content you were producing? A dramatic increase or decrease could have a marked effect on how your audience perceives your brand—in either direction.
  • Major brand changes. Though rare, if your brand underwent any significant changes—such as updating your look or targeting a new audience, you should expect some significant changes in your results. You’ll have limited data on the effects of the new direction and the tactics associated with it, but you should be able to discern an initial trend.
  • New competition. Don’t neglect the influence of competition; if you have a new competitor emerge on the scene, or if your existing competitors step up their efforts, your audience might be pulled away from your brand through no fault of your own. This still requires understanding, and a potential change in the future.
  • Support and promotion. What other strategies are you using to support and promote your social channels? For example, do you have a content and/or email campaign to forward new followers to your accounts or provide more content for your ongoing social feeds?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Once you’ve captured this high-level data, I recommend sorting your high-level strategies into a handful of different categories:

  • Surefire successes. These are changes, tactics, and scenarios that objectively and certainly increased the value of your campaign. Seek to keep them and/or replicate them this year.
  • Near misses. These are strategies that were close to being successful, but missed something important; learn from them, and alter them to get a second chance at success. Make sure they’re not included in your 2018 strategy.
  • Mistakes and losses. Confront the mistakes you made in 2017; did you miss the mark with a certain line of content, or flub an important opportunity? These insights can usually help you avoid damaging strategies and refine your tactics in 2018.
  • Missed opportunities. This is the hardest category to fill, since it requires acknowledging opportunities you may not have known you had. Brainstorm with your team, and try to come up with some new territory to explore in 2018.

Digging Into Specifics

The high-level data should be enough to guide the overall direction of your campaign, but it’s also worth looking at more specific pieces; these tend to be more qualitative analyses, and involve outliers in your dataset, but are useful in helping you learn the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign.

For example, were there any standout posts you had this year, which received more shares and comments than any others? What can you learn from them? Were there any followers who transitioned to becoming brand evangelists? What can you take away from the experience?

Putting It All Together

The real challenge now is taking all this data and making it actionable. You have a clear, high-level understanding of how your social media strategy worked in 2017, so you should be able to use that to chart a better strategy in 2018.

Of course, this is only the first step; you’ll also need to take measurements throughout the year, and be unafraid to make continued changes

7 Social Media Trends That Will Dominate 2018

1 Jan

How do you plan on socializing next year? How do you plan on reaching your target audience, who will be socializing with each other, next year? By default, we underestimate how our lives will change in the future.

We tend to think of next year as ending more or less the same as this year (with the exception of any personal plans you might have). In addition, we tend to underappreciate the progress of technology, at least on a smaller scale.

That’s because our favorite social media apps tend to roll out updates on a nearly constant basis, changing slightly but frequently; just as we don’t notice children getting taller day by day, we don’t always recognize how the social media landscape around us evolves. But it is evolving, constantly, and in 2018, there are going to be a handful of highly important trends dictating how that evolution unfolds.

These are seven of the most important trends I’m predicting will make their presence known in 2018:

1. Augmented reality will finally take off. About five years ago, Google came out with a pair of glasses—Google Glass—that promised to bring augmented reality (AR) to the mainstream and change how we live and interact with each other. It was a flop. But now, multiple companies—including Facebook, Google, and Snap—are competing to enter or re-enter the AR ring. After a handful of highly successful AR apps, rising sales of VR headsets, and greater technological sophistication (including faster internet speeds and better visual rendering), 2018 could finally be the year that AR takes off. If it does, and stays in the mainstream, you can bet that social media will be one of the most popular applications for the technology, bringing people together over vast distances, and providing an entirely new UI for social interactions.

2. Live streaming will continue its explosive rise in popularity. You could make the argument that live streaming dominated 2017; about 80 percent of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82 percent would prefer live video to written social media updates. Live streaming statistics exploded in 2017, thanks in part to all the social platforms and other companies supporting the format. But 2018 will be an even bigger year, now that both audiences and brands have settled into the format. This is no longer a cool new way to interact with audiences—it’s an expectation for your brand.

3. Privacy and open source will take precedence. The use of social media requires the forfeiture of certain types of privacy. Though Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have attempted to crack down on users abusing the system, and are trying to keep customers informed about their privacy rights, some users are still hungry for an app that won’t sell their information to advertisers. I think in 2018, we’ll see an increase in the number and popularity of apps that keep user privacy as a top priority, or offer open-source APIs to make users feel more comfortable with using them.

4. Gamification will extend to social media apps. Users love to interact with each other, but they also love game-like experiences—and because many companies have generated significant revenue from microtransactions and immersive gaming experiences, it’s only a matter of time before we see an app that tries to blend social media and gaming more organically. Time will tell what kind of app could result from this hybridization, but it’s likely going to make a significant impact in 2018.

5. Ad growth will accelerate. Early in their development, social media platforms made building a user base their highest priority. Now that they’re more firmly established and have proven their long-term viability, their biggest concern has shifted to revenue. Most major social media brands have already started shifting their focus toward building more advertising, but 2018 will see an even bigger shift in that direction.

6. Brand fatigue will force changes to the current social media formula. In 2017, there were more than 50 million small businesses using social media pages to interact with their customers. Social media is incredibly popular for a reason, but that increased volume of businesses is also leading to an increased presence of brand-written content. This is already leading to some signs of brand fatigue, making consumers less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content than content from independent sources. That’s going to put more pressure on brands to make better, more independently verifiable sources.

7. Local and personal experiences will sharply increase in popularity. Partially as an extension of the brand fatigue, 2018 will be a year for more local and personal experiences. With Google putting a higher emphasis on search results for local companies, and online consumers wanting more local, interpersonal interactions, I expect to see an increase in the number of local business owners reaching out to individuals, and doing more to engage with their respective communities. This is going to be a benefit for both entrepreneurs and consumers, as well as the communities in which they reside.

Are these trends going to completely change how brands and consumers use social media? I doubt it, but we’re in for one interesting year. If you want to remain competitive in the world of social media marketing, and prevent your competitors from getting ahead of you, stay tuned to the latest changes, and don’t hesitate to update your brand strategy to fit new trends, expectations, and opportunities.

The more modern your campaign is, the better chances you’ll have at connecting with your audience, and differentiating yourself from the crowd.