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How Social Media Marketing Can Adjust to Meet Waning User Trust

14 May

There is always a learning curve for society when it comes to new technology.

This has always been true, even long before the Internet or social media came onto the scene. But while there’s always been a slight, resistant tension between people and the tech that’s pulling them into the future, we have largely gone along with the development of social media as it has grown over the past 15 or so years. We’ve created accounts and shared personal information; we’ve posted terabytes of photos and written memoirs in status updates. Digital marketers know what this trade-off entails—a fun, convenient service in exchange for personal data—but it’s also easy to forget that ordinary users without a marketing background don’t readily understand the scale of how their social data is used.

And while platforms like Facebook have made middling attempts to explain their platform to their users, they’ve continued to pull them along—and it seems the tension may have finally snapped.

While watching the Facebook hearings a couple weeks ago—an exercise that taught us less about how social media works and more about how much the government has also been left behind by the rapid development—I found myself thinking about how crazy the past year has been for social platforms. While Facebook takes heat for data security and giving access to third parties, Twitter continues to update their account banning policies in an effort to keep up with complaints of unsavory content and bots, and Reddit also struggles to prune back tides of fake or automated accounts.

Social media as a whole is undergoing an intense stress test that, hopefully, will translate into systematic improvements to the platforms we know and love to use. But the stress test has come at a cost, and platforms are paying for that cost by expending audience trust.

How a Leak Turns Into to a Flood

Users are rapidly losing trust in many of the social platforms they love to use. Today, Facebook is the clearest example, having struggled to maintain a younger audience last year only to then lose more users and approximately $70 billion in light of the Cambridge Analytica data leaks. Twitter has had a less dramatic struggle in recent months, touting their first profitable quarter in nearly 12 years—largely driven by international growth while their US audience declined by a million users.

When this shift in trust is examined on a larger scale, the issue only becomes more pronounced. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer—a massive, global study conducted every year to measure public sentiment towards major institutions—rightly subtitled this year’s report “The Battle for Truth.” In it, they found that the world as a whole has become more distrustful over the past year, with the US leading the charge, dropping 23 places in global ranking for the informed public’s trust in media outlets.

Specifically, where social media is concerned, trust in social platforms continued to decline as it has since 2016, nearly bringing us to an even 50-50 split between trusting and distrusting audiences using social media. An interesting note, however, is that journalistic outlets have seen a significant increase in the percentage of the population that trusts them, jumping by 5 percent since last year to nearly 60 percent. And in this, there may be lessons for marketers to take note of.

Speaking to Distrust

Brands that want to maintain effective social media marketing during this tumultuous time need to fundamentally reorient how they approach social media.

To date, social media marketers have by and large taken a “hear no evil, see no evil” approach to social media management. We offer content and conversation on our pages only to also run promotional social advertisements that we just simply don’t speak to. We use demographic targeting and audience insights to boost posts or plan for distributions, but work to ensure every step of our audience interaction comes off as solely organic. We exist on platforms embroiled in technological, political, and societal turmoil, but work to prune those conversations out of our comments and conversations.

This approach has worked for a long time because users were willing to engage with this fantasy—they also did not want to see, hear, or engage with the fact that the platform they used was collecting their data. But the coin has flipped, and now users are in a place where they more readily associate silence on social media matters with complicity rather than comfort.

Brands need to begin taking a more active role in earning audience trust if they hope to maintain it.

Embrace Transparency

As users become more comfortable understanding and talking about the ways in which their data is used, transparency into brands’ practices becomes a highly sought-after commodity. Rather than disengaging or ignoring conversations about how your brand interacts with user privacy and data, try to proactively explain your processes and how you protect your audience.

Be Idealistic

One of the primary drivers of distrust recently has been a disconnect between spoken ideals and active ideals practiced by brands (for instance, Facebook promoting the idea of building community, but then selling inordinate amounts of data to third parties). This offers an opportunity for brands that are willing to speak openly about their ideals and back it up with content and action. Brands are seeing success with this tactic in even the most extreme, politicized scenarios, which formerly would have been considered PR suicide.

Respond Promptly to Criticism

Even if your brand comes under scrutiny during this time, this doesn’t mean you should back away from hard conversations with your audience. Rather, take steps to engage your audience to understand what they would consider to be a solution, and implement it publicly to earn trust rather than defeat. You don’t have to take this as far as Elon Musk did and completely delete your Facebook presence, but listening and reacting will always go a long way.

Marketers are working at a unique time in history when society is contending with what privacy and big data can mean for them on a personal level. While the Facebook hearings may be done, these conversations are far from over, and it remains unclear how these conversations will shape the platforms we use, or how users interact with those platforms in general. What is clear, however, is that trust remains a consistently valued commodity throughout time, regardless of how our means of communication change. Brands that seek to be accessible, communicative, and responsive to the needs of their audiences will always find marketing success. But during times when trust is held at such a high premium, brands might also be able to turn success into even greater opportunity for growth.

Five Things Pro Facebook Marketers Do Differently

18 Dec

With over 2 billion Facebook monthly users as of September 2017, it’s no wonder the Facebook Ads platform is becoming a staple of every marketer’s social media strategy. Facebook is the world’s most popular social media platform, and ad spend on its network is booming. Instagram ad revenue alone is expected to exceed that of Google this year, with an estimated $2.81 billion spent by Instagram advertisers worldwide.

Although advertising on Facebook may seem like one of the most immediate ways to achieve impact at a low cost, many marketers aren’t seeing the success they’re hoping for when they start experimenting with Facebook. Typically one of two scenarios happens with new Facebook advertisers:

  1. They see low cost-per-click (CPC), but none of these clicks lead to purchases or conversions.
  2. Their CPC ends up being too high.

What gives?

The best Facebook advertisers understand social ≠ search

The key differences between a social media platform such as Facebook and a search engine like Google are what leaves most new Facebook marketers frustrated: They run their Facebook ads similar to how they manage Google AdWords. And they shouldn’t.

With Google, your prospects are searching for you. They know what they need, and they’re actively interested in what you’re offering. With Facebook, users are simply browsing and socializing, and you’re competing with loads of unrelated content. You need ads that are eye-catching and engaging, and ads that drive real value for your potential leads.

How can you achieve that? Let’s walk through each of the five things elite Facebook advertisers do differently that you can adopt to elevate your social media marketing.

1. They carefully choose where their ads appear

Facebook currently offers three major ad placements:

  1. Desktop News Feed
  2. Desktop Right Column
  3. Mobile News Feed

Although other ad placements are available, such as within Groups, those three are the most commonly used. Master their pros and cons with the following tips, and you’ll immediately begin deploying your ads more strategically:

  • Desktop News Feed tends to be the first go-to option for most marketers, and the priority placement can get you a great conversion rate. The problem is that this Facebook ad placement is both competitive and expensive.
  • Desktop Right Column ads tend to take a backseat to News Feed ads because they’re so out of sight, and many marketers don’t optimize for the location, and that can lead to overspend. The Desktop Right Column is great for retargeting, but not initial engagement.
  • Mobile News Feed gives you the most bang for your buck on Facebook, and I highly recommend testing out mobile placements. Just as with other ad platforms, the shift from desktop to mobile is aggressively increasing. According to Statista, in 2016 about 97% of Facebook’s ad revenue came from mobile advertising. Roughly 1.15 billion daily user access the social network on mobile—a huge audience to use your spend on. Plus, brand discovery and initial engagement can often be had for much cheaper on mobile, so it’s definitely in every marketer’s favor to use mobile ads.

2. They carefully choose who sees their ads

Pro Facebook marketers know that campaigns succeed or fail because of audience targeting. In the world of Facebook Ad optimization, it’s critical to know that choosing the right audience is more important than ad creative.

Facebook provides extremely useful advanced targeting options. Master the following three ways to define your audience inside of Facebook Ads Manager, and you’ll start to see why it can make or break your efforts:

  1. Core Audiences: Select your audience manually based on characteristics, such as age, location, interests, and behaviors.
  2. Custom Audiences: Facebook gives you the ability to securely upload a contact list of people you would like to reach. Although there are several data categories you can upload to create these audiences, the most common are email addresses and phone numbers. (Many of the 70,000+ businesses using CallRail for call tracking have had great success with Facebook retargeting by simply uploading their call log to create a custom audience based on caller IDs.)
  3. Lookalike Audiences: Find people who are similar to your current customer base by building a lookalike audience based on your custom audience.

When choosing your audience, it’s critical to keep in mind the ultimate conversion you’re aiming for with your campaign. Deciding which audience to use depends on your advertising goal, and whom you’re looking to speak to:

  • For new leads, core audiences and lookalike audiences will be your best friend. These detailed targeting methods can help you bring in new sales from customers that match your current user base. Be sure to exclude a custom audience created from your current customers so you aren’t using up precious ad spend on people who have already converted.
  • For current customer upsells or feature activation, uploading your customer list and creating a custom audience is ideal.
  • For retargeting campaigns, I recommend looking into adding the Facebook Pixel to your website or application so you can create a custom audience based on people who have already expressed an interest in your business. You can also upload existing leads in your database as a custom audience.

Defining a clear audience for each Facebook campaign or ad set ensures you aren’t wasting your marketing budget on the wrong types of targeting, and help you maximize your ad reach, and conversions.

3. They carefully choose their Ads’ call to action

Your Facebook ad is only as good as its CTA and the user experience that follows. It’s important to plan out not only whom you’re targeting and where,but also how you plan to get them to convert. Every ad you run on Facebook should have a clear CTA, focused on the action you want users to take.

First you will want to decide your marketing objective, then based on that decide what the appropriate CTA is for your campaign or ad set.

Clicks to Website or Website Conversions

With these CTAs, the most important consideration is optimizing the landing page you’re sending customers to. If you’re running a mobile ad, be sure your landing page is tailored for a mobile experience. According to a study from Google, people who have a negative experience with brands on mobile are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future.

‘Call Now’ Buttons

Because so many Facebook users are already on mobile, phone-call CTAs are a great way to drive sales from your social marketing ad spend. Available via Local Awareness Ads, this button allows customers to call you right from the ad within their Facebook News Feed. (Learn more about how to drive more call conversions from Facebook Ads here.)

‘Send Message’ CTA

The new “Send Message” CTA for Local Awareness Ads allows people to initiate private conversations with business Pages from News Feed ads. It gives people a personal way to connect with your business, and it’s convenient for the customer. Just be sure you’re prepared to respond to customers inquiries if you do use this conversion method.

4. They carefully choose how to differentiate their ads

Now that we know who, where, and how the most successful social media marketers set up campaigns on Facebook Ads Manager, it’s time to decide the best way to drive engagement with content from Facebook. Competition is high on the Facebook platform, so it’s crucial your ads rise above the noise.

Facebook ran a study recently on the top- and bottom-performing campaigns on its platform, and this is what it found:

  • For businesses promoting online conversions, the best thing to focus on is your product itself with a clear directive. That means displaying your popular products in the creative, and citing your brand in the copy. Facebook found that if marketers did this well, all other elements were irrelevant to the overall quality score of the ad.
  • Another successful approach was a strong focus on brand. That means linking your ad creative and copy to your brand’s personality by doing things like showcasing your company’s founder or values.

Bottom Line: Rather than showcasing your logos in Facebook ads, spend time creating product-focused images or graphics that help demonstrate your brand’s approachability and accessibility.

Another important ad tip to master in Facebook campaigns is ad frequency. A well-rounded campaign features multiple ads that all contain relevant messaging and effective creative that can be continually rotated to prevent ad fatigue.

The more people see your same ad, the more bored they get. And even worse, the CPC will increase significantly. One way to combat that is to set up an ad campaign with multiple ad sets with different ads, and schedule each ad set to be active on a different day. By doing so, you’ll combat ad fatigue and keep costs per ad low.

5. They continually test and update their ads

As with so many marketing efforts, A/B-testing is your key to success with Facebook ads. Pro Facebook advertisers take this advice to heart and incorporate it into their workflow.

Whether you’re new to Facebook ads or a veteran advertiser, it’s hard to predict the kind of ad designs that work best for your product or which audience will be more likely to buy. That’s why ad experiments with elements such as ad creative, offers, and target audience are used by the best of the best.

If you’re just starting out, my recommendation is to A/B-test macro elements—such as which larger message appeals to which audience—versus micro elements, like CTA copy. Doing that can get you off on the right foot and headed in a good direction. Outside of the Facebook ads themselves, it’s also best to test the landing pages you’re driving ad viewers to.

Then, it’s time to consider A/B-testing more specific elements of your ads, such as images, headlines, and main copies. AdEspresso studied data from over $3 million worth of Facebook ads and found the following elements to have the highest split-testing ROI:

  • Audience by country
  • Audience by precise interest
  • Facebook ad goals
  • Mobile vs. desktop
  • Audience by age ranges
  • Audience by gender
  • Ad designs
  • Titles
  • Audience by relationship status
  • Landing page

The opportunities for Facebook ad testing are limitless, so these tests can sometimes be cumbersome, but the payoff is great. You’ll be able to uncover your most compelling value offer and learn heaps about your audience.

Are you ready to start marketing like a Facebook pro?

Knowledge of Facebook marketing is a great asset to have in any marketer’s toolkit. As the world’s most popular social media platform, Facebook is only going to continue to grow—and the more you know now, the better off you’ll be in the future.

These tips will help you keep your Facebook advertising strategy well-considered and fresh, as you continue to experiment with different audiences, ad types, and creative.

Use these tips and you’ll start thinking and acting like a pro, improve your Facebook ad efforts, and watch as your cost per lead decreases and your conversion rate increases.

Build Your Brand With Facebook Business Marketing

13 Nov

Facebook is a wonderful way to grow your brand, create brand awareness and attract and engage with customers, but if your primary reason for creating a Facebook business page is because other companies have one, you need to stop and think more strategically. Marketing on Facebook is a completely different entity compared to a general Facebook profile. Learn how to make the most out of Facebook for your business with these helpful tips.

Keep Your Facebook Business Page Updated

You may think people don’t pay attention to your Facebook business page’s description or category, but that’s not the case. Providing essential business information on your page and using brand keywords will not only make it look professional but will help customers know they found the right business page. Make sure business hours, location and logos are in sync with other marketing material — any discrepancies will create confusion.

Make Your Page Worth Their Like Or Follow

This may sound odd, but a page like is no longer the golden nugget it used to be. Once Facebook incorporated its new news feed algorithm in 2013, Facebook likes lost value. Page likes may inflate your vanity stats, but it doesn’t mean your content will reach more people. Make your content valuable to Facebook fans by offering exclusive deals, giveaways and contests. Make your fans feel like they’re going to miss out on something great if they don’t like or follow your page.

Incorporating Facebook Live into your marketing strategy is a great way to boost the appeal of your page. This is a great opportunity to provide exclusive content, engagement with fans and consumers, behind-the-scenes footage, product launches and more.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook has incorporated many functions to help brands get sales, including a “Shop Now” button. The challenge is, your sale conversions may be low depending on your brand. Not everybody that clicks on your ad will make a purchase. That would be nice, but you have to be realistic in your expectations

Optimize your sales funnel by testing different ads and layouts, but don’t overlook the fact that prospecting customers want to buy immediately. Don’t have them go through hoops to get the product they want. The easier the process, the more likely a sale will be completed.

A better ROI can be achieved by promoting products that you already know sells. Did you promote a product that performed well in email marketing or a website promotion? Transfer that product to Facebook and target your core audience and those with similar interests or behaviors. Not only will this help increase sales, it can also bring in new customers.

Does Your Brand Have A Personality?

People want to connect to a brand but more so on a personal level. Your goal should be to create a community where people can learn, engage and share your brand. If you’re too corporate and salesy, there will be a disconnect. If your brand allows you to be whimsical, give it a try. Consumers are marketed to on a daily basis and can only consume so much of the advertising thrown their way. Give their eyes a break from sales pitches. Incorporate fun consumable branded content like memes, GIFs and short videos.

Quality Over Quantity

Your Facebook business page’s reach has declined over the last week. You may be tempted to boost it by increasing the number of posts on your page. This may temporarily increase your reach, but are you posting quality content or are you posting content for the sake of numbers?

Based on our findings, the most common reason for fans to unlike a brand’s page is because they post uninteresting content; the second most common reason is that they share too much content. Many businesses feel they have to post obsessively on their Facebook business page to be seen by consumers. The average user spends nearly an hour on Facebook. Combine that with the unknown amount of content from their friends and other pages they follow decreases the visibility of your posts exponentially.

Make sure your content is interesting, informative and shareable. If your posts lack quality, your fans will not like, comment or share which will organically increase your reach. When people engage with quality content, this tells Facebook your content is valuable and will more likely be seen by more people.

Experiment with posts and determine your brand’s sweet spot. Once you figure out what your audience responds well to, work around that content to achieve quality numbers.

Facebook is one of the most popular social networks around the world. There is no one-size-fits-all method for businesses, but grasping the core of Facebook for business is a great foundation for developing an effective and powerful Facebook presence.

Beyond Google and Facebook: 4 Reasons to Look at Other Online Marketing Channels

2 Jan

As people search for brands across multiple channels, the complexity of targeting right customers with right messages is greater than ever before. Digital advertisers have relied on web cookies since the last two decades, but with the advent of smart mobility, this old strategy won’t work. Brands need to connect with consumers directly and then measure every campaign outcome, to appeal to different platforms.

While Google is still the search engine leader, Bing is surging ahead in grabbing search engine market share, while Yahoo! Is trying to recover lost ground with its new services. In social media marketing, it is essential that businesses think beyond Facebook for better results too, as other social sites are making headway in various demographics.

Analysts believe that advertisers should apply sound marketing strategies on sites other than Google and Facebook, since people-based marketing is quickly moving beyond what these tech giants have created. Leveraging Facebook and Google’s success, one can find that by relying on “people-based” solutions, advertisers can devise ads for real people and not some stored cookies.

Advertisers will now dive deeply in addressable media, to utilize people-based targeting outside Facebook across multiple publisher sites. Top digital marketers, including GSK, Nestle and Reebok, have expressed the need to spend on addressable advertising and work beyond closed ecosystems, without limiting their presence.

Here are four reasons why marketers should look for alternative online marketing channels:

Google has introduced high cost-per-clicks on paid search

In terms of costs involved, some courses are expensive to market on Google Paid Search. Google CPCs increased by 23 percent year-over-year while Bing saw a jump of 15 percent in the same period. But Google costs have been way higher than Bing costs. Google Paid Search needs better cost per conversion ratio, too, and Bing is definitely a worthy option.

Bing’s Search market share has risen considerably

As mentioned earlier, Bing has increased its limited market share considerably. The most recent comScore Search Share report revealed that Bing boosted its market share in U.S. to more than 21 percent, last December. Google has garnered about 64 percent of the market in the same period. This means that marketers need to address the void, and pay attention to Bing for a rounded view of the process.

Paid social sites are providing better opportunities

Paid social marketing is touted as a highly cost-effective way to drive awareness about new ideas and offerings. Other social networks besides Facebook, like LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, deserve equal importance nowadays since they offer cost-effective options to derive leads. These “awareness” platforms are now “ROI” platforms, owing to their reach and demographic targeting abilities. Social media functions work very well for sponsored ads, and organic social media marketing also boosts the overall value of paid marketing.

The digital ecosystem binds all elements

The digital world includes several components that interact with one another, so marketing across multiple avenues within the online ecosystem should be a topmost priority for marketers today. For example, display marketing has been a major factor in the rise of paid and organic search traffic to a variety of websites. Twitter has a strong business following because of its real-time messaging ability.

It is time to go beyond the oft-used channels and use those best practices on other chosen platforms. One can adopt the ‘custom audience’ approaches that have helped in Facebook and Google marketing for even better ROI.

Why Your Facebook Ads May Not Be Converting

15 Nov

You’ve spent hours optimizing your Facebook Ads.

You’re getting a higher click-through-rate and lower CPM costs than you’ve ever had.

But no one is converting on your landing page.

So what’s the problem?

In this article I’ll dissect the top 3 reasons why people click on your Facebook Ads, but don’t convert. And how to fix each problem.

Let’s begin.

1. Your Landing Page doesn’t use the same image/copy as your Ad

When a person clicks on your Ad, they have a general expectation of what they’re going to see when they are directed to your landing page. This expectation stems ENTIRELY from what you show them in the Ad. So if the Ad you show them on Facebook looks completely different than your landing page, you’re going to confuse people – confusion leads to drop-offs and a low conversion rate.

There are two things that you need to match up between your Facebook Ad and your landing page to minimize confusion as much as possible: imagery and copy.

Imagery

More than anything, I recommend using the same image on your landing page as you do in your Facebook Ad – just a larger version, of course. This can cause some issues for certain images, as the max pixel size of a right-side Facebook Ad is 100 x 72 px, while you’ll probably use dimensions upwards of 400 px for the image on your landing page. So you need to find an image that works in both sizes.

One other important piece to note is the color of the Ad image. Do your best to use the same color template in both the Ad and your landing page. This will make your landing page seem like a direct extension of your Ad, which will decrease confusion and mistrust in your visitors, causing them to convert more.

Copy

Now, to perfect the transition from Ad to landing page, it’s vital to use the same copy on both. Your Facebook Ad, especially if in the right-side column, will require much shorter text than you can utilize on your landing page. So for the Facebook Ad headline, I would recommend using a shortened version of the main title on your landing page.

One element of the copy that NEEDS to match between the Ad and the landing page is the call-to-action. If your Ad’s call-to-action is “Get the Free Ebook”, it should be the exact same on the landing page.

2. Your Landing Page Is Taking Too long to Load

Just as the copy and imagery of your landing page are important, the speed at which it loads is just as important. The longer it takes your landing page to load, the lower your conversion rate will be. That’s a fact. Studies by Amazon have shown that a page load slowdown of just one second could cost it $1.6 billion in sales each year. For Google, slowing its search results by just four tenths of a second they could lose 8 million searches per day.

These examples magnify the results of slow webpages quite a bit – but even if your business is much smaller than Amazon and Google, slow load speeds on your landing pages will hurt you a lot.

To alleviate this pain, let’s take a look at a few things that may be causing your page to load slowly and how to alleviate them.

Tips to Decrease the Load Time of your Landing Pages

Decrease the number of images: Images are incredibly “heavy” (meaning they take a long time to load). Whereas text and the page’s background color are extremely light. So if you see that you are using a lot of images to help explain the points of your landing page, try to replace them as much as possible with description text. And if you need them to stand out, use a different font or background color instead of an image.

Lower the file sizes of your images: When you’ve narrowed down the number of images to an absolute minimum, you can look at decreasing their file sizes. This can be done in two ways, either by decreasing the dimensions of the image or decreasing the quality.

Move all Javascript below the tag: If you have any pop-up windows, analytics tracking codes or fancy animations on your landing page, then you have Javascript. Similar to images, Javascript is heavy. So what can you do to alleviate the load? Move it to the very bottom of the landing page, below the tag. This will allow your server to load the visual elements of your landing page first, so visitors can quickly begin viewing the page, while the tracking codes and pop-ups, that users either don’t interact with or interact with after reading the page, load in the background.

3. Too Many Form Fields

A large form can be daunting to even the most interested person. Especially if the form fields in it ask them questions that they need to think about before answering. Asking a person for their first name is one thing, but asking for their favorite brand of running shoes will require them to stop and think. This is exactly what you DON’T want to make a person do. act with.

So what is the right amount of form fields to have?

Well, that depends on the requirements of your sales or marketing teams. If your sales team absolutely needs to know certain things, such as industry and marketing budget to accurately prepare for a product demonstration, then you need to ask for it. Or if your marketing team’s email marketing automation campaigns need to have personalized merge tags for the company name and address, then you need to ask for it.

Just don’t add in anything that doesn’t NEED to be there. When someone on your team asks for a field to be added to your form, make sure it is 100% necessary before you add it. Unless you’re going to use it in an automated email, you don’t need to ask for a person’s last name. Unless your sales team plans to call every lead that you get from your landing pages, you don’t need to ask for a phone number.

It’s important to realize that not every form on every landing page needs to ask the same things. Only some fields are relevant. This depends a lot on where this batch of leads is in the sales cycle. If it will be the first time they are interacting with your company, and they just want to download an ebook you’re offering, you don’t need to care about any sales information. Because at this point they are unlikely to respond well to any kind of sales call or message from your company. So you can save those fields for future landing pages.