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Archive for Social Media

Making the Most of the Festive Season

Making the Most of the Festive Season
Your company’s office may be decorated with the tallest Christmas tree and brightest baubles, but your brand will gain nothing from beautiful décor in the working environment. It’s time to get digital and turn your spirit for the festive season to your social media.

The Christmas season is one of the busiest times for businesses, and consequently for social media. Therefore, it’s difficult to get your brand noticed during the festive season, but with the right content, campaigns and strategy a business can optimise their social media to get the most out of the jovial period.

Change Your Logos

Editing your Facebook profile and cover photo to include a festive aspect, such as snowy graphics or your logo with a Santa's hat on, shows you’re current and makes your page friendly and inviting. Research showed that people thought residents with Christmas decorations up were more approachable and welcoming than those who didn’t. The same applies with your social media - it draws attention to your page and lets your audience know your active and the page is up-to-date.

Festive Campaigns

Christmas is a time when everyone is searching on the Internet, looking for products, services and gifts. If your company is releasing a new product for the festive season, tweets and posts that tease consumers of your new release will keep people engaged, until you finally begin to sell it. On Twitter and Instagram, engage with popular Christmas hashtags or create a festive hashtag of your own that followers can interact with.

Also, if your company is running any charity events or Christmas-themed activities it would be fantastic to post about these too. It'll make your company appear more personal and human and give your audience a chance to see your business behind the posts and photos.

Seasonal Strategy

Create a strategy and plan your posts and content ahead. Create a calendar to schedule content around your campaign with the question ‘How can my service or product benefit people at Christmas?’ always in mind. Think how your business will improve someone’s life, especially around the Christmas period. If you can’t think of a reason, this is when deals and offers could come in handy. Promotions such as free next day delivery or 50% off would help a lot of customers struggling with the economic issues and work stress induced by the festive period. Remember to always have your audience in mind. For example, followers of restaurants could benefit from vouchers with deals to get them through the door, whereas commercial businesses such as online clothing stores would gain advantage over their competition with discount codes and promotions that reduce the price of products and speed up delivery time.

Christmas Content Marketing

If your business has blog content, it is important that this too is centred around the festivities or at least partly related to Christmas. Content marketing is a great way to stand out from the competition, with articles that can be engaged with and shared amongst social media. For instance, restaurants and online grocery shops could share Christmas recipes that include their own products. However, competition grows around the season and it is important to stand out among the digital crowd. It is no good writing an article that has been written a thousand times before. Find out what is being searched, but focus on a more specific title and subject. For example, ‘Recipes for Christmas Food’ could become ‘Recipes for Vegan Christmas Food’, which would narrow down the search for a consumer and give your article and website a higher chance at being seen on Google. Tags in the article should include ‘Christmas’ and festive keywords that relate to your business and USP.

Email Marketing

Email marketing campaigns are an important way for your current audience to learn about the deals and promotions your business is carrying out around Christmas. You can send email campaigns that include gift cards, discount codes and vouchers that customers can use to purchase your products.

Adding festive season sparkle to your brand can benefit your social media immensely. Tis' the season to engage, interact and spread the Christmas cheer...digitally.

A ‘Social Media’ Christmas Carol

A Social Media Christmas Carol
Let’s all gather round for a not-so festive story I call ‘A Social Media Christmas Carol’ - a brief history of how online networking has changed.

Social media has undergone a journey over the years, from a fearful, misunderstood and somewhat unknown entity, to a diverse network that connects, improves and spreads cheer among users, but where did it all begin, and where is it all going?

The Social Media of Christmas Past

Back in the days of dial up internet, the first social media sites emerged, which were basic websites that connected people. The first recognisable social media site was Six Degrees that allowed people to create a profile and make friends. However, Friendster was once the biggest and most popular social media network that connected people through networks of friends. It was used for dating, making new friends and helping friends connect with new people. By 2006, it was pretty much dead – Facebook had stamped its footprint into the market and everything else seemed to fall in its wake. The bonds and connections between friends weakened and although Friendster tried to stay afloat, a series of technical difficulties and a lack of users resulted in its inevitable demise. As soon as blogging was introduced to the world, sites like Myspace and LinkedIn dominated the early 2000s with this idea of sharing your life to the world, meaning you could share your festive spirit to all your friends!

A popular messaging platform was MSN Messenger, which was renamed Windows Live Messenger before it was shut down in 2014. It provided fifteen years of awkward conversations, status updates, video calls, a series of emoticons and ‘Nudges’ and ‘Winks’, which were short videos designed to get the other person’s attention. MSN was once the only way to communicate with friends with an ability to ‘Appear Offline’ to avoid people contacting you. However, the platform was swiftly made redundant by Facebook’s messaging app as people could connect and talk with their friends all in one place.

Although social media had potential, it still wasn’t being used in the same way it is now.

The Social Media of Christmas Present

Presently, social media has moved away from desktop usability and turned its focus onto mobile phone apps. Social media strives to stay contemporary, but with so many giants in the playing field, it’s hard for new social sites to become popular. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter dominate amongst social media networks and are constantly changing and making improvements that keeps users entertained and engaged. Live video is the most recent development on social media as sites such as Facebook look to eliminate any reason for a user to leave their app.

Media that disappears has been made favourable by apps such as Snapchat, with Facebook and Instagram both taking on this idea of 'Stories' with images and video that are no longer available to view after twenty four hours. Instagram have created a bigger focus on photos, with many users this year gearing up to share images of their Christmas gifts for their friends to see.

Although many social media sites try to stay current, the market is moving quickly and constantly, meaning whatever is present at the moment is almost immediately outdated.

The Social Media of Christmas Future

It’s hard to predict what the future holds for social media sites, but there is definitely no sign of Facebook and Twitter going anywhere anytime soon. 2018 is bringing artificial intelligence, new algorithms and improvements for users. Social media will focus a lot more on relationships, between users and between the platform and a person. It seems sites are starting to use their methods for good, such as Facebook’s new A.I. technology that will try to prevent suicide amongst users. With this in mind, another turn for social media could be its focus on a person’s well-being, offering a more long-term relationship with posts and photos, instead of a fleeting ‘like’ or a 24-hour story.

There could also be this idea of a ‘Premium’ experience in social media. With more and more sites pushing advertisements into the faces of users, it could well be soon that sites start charging for individuals to get rid of the interruptions to videos and pop-ups.

However, it is quite likely that the sites of today will not be around in the future as technology develops and things become old news within minutes. With everything at the touch of a finger and pretty much every idea thought up and reused, it’s hard to predict what the future holds for social media, but it’ll definitely be a sight to stick around for.

Bye Bye Brevity – Twitter’s Move to 280

Twitter's Move to 280 (2)

After testing an increase of characters on some of its users, Twitter have finally made the move to 280, doubling the number of letters and punctuation in a tweet for everyone.

All Twitter users have experienced the horror of having the best moment of their life that they know their followers will love and realise, after getting half way through their story, that they’ve run out of characters to finish the tweet. However, brevity was the unique signing-up point of Twitter; people avoided the lengthy speeches of friends and instead could follow celebrities and strangers whose lives intrigued them in small amounts.

The World in 140

Interestingly, the 140 characters format was based on text messages – SMS messages are 160 per page, so the idea was that a user’s tweet and username amounted to the number of letters and numbers of a text. This provided a more personal relationship between user and follower. However, people who tweeted in languages other than Japanese and Chinese struggled to stay in the one-text limit. Users who typed in Spanish and English often complained that there wasn’t enough space to say what they wanted to, whereas Korean users could convey twice as much in their language when tweeting. Research carried out by Twitter found that running out of space was a significant cause of frustration for English-speaking handlers.

Good News for Businesses

Twitter's move to 280 characters opens up a whole new world to people who rant, but also people who want to market their businesses. It can be hard to sell your product in 140 characters or less, so businesses now have the chance to express their goods with more detail and get the chance to provide direct links to their website and products. However, the lack of words meant companies provided much more concise and important information of their services rather than a direct sale babble, so it’ll be interesting to see if businesses will utilise the increase in characters.

Tweet for a Change

Instead of the usual numbers that decreased after every letter, a cyclical bar now turns white the more you type. Having to reduce what you wanted to say made Twitter a novelty among comics, who could share humourous quotes instantly. Twitter was a break from the life stories that were shared on other social media sites such as Facebook. It also aided the idea of photos with captions and short videos. However, Twitter's move to 280 is a big step towards freedom of speech and allowing users to express themselves even more.

The Wrong Direction

Many have complained that the length of the tweets is the least of Twitter users’ worries. Twitter is a hub of opinions and views and a platform for people to use their voice. However, not every user’s tweets are positive. Some people use the social podium to abuse others or express derogatory ideas. People have suggested that Twitter consider monitoring negative behaviour, even more so than they already do, than giving people more space to harass users.

Twitter have expressed that the amount of characters is still limited with brief constraints, so there should be no concern for those who enjoyed the compact style. Nevertheless, Twitter's move to 280 is good news for people that send a two-page rant via text and are tired of cramming their thoughts into dictated, often grammatically incorrect, tweets.

Social Media Case Study: How Does Domino’s Use It?

Domino's Social Media Case Study
It’s hard to hear the word ‘pizza’ and not think of Domino's, especially when it dominates among the fast food industry. In 2015, they revealed an 18% rise in profits and with seven in ten of their deliveries now ordered online, it is clear the company have found their place in the digital market, so how have Domino's employed social media to reach such staggering success?

The company had a fall in 2009 when a video went viral, not directly from Domino's social media, but from employees, that diminished their brand. Nevertheless, they picked themselves up in 2011 with a revamping of their image. They took a different, more see-through approach in terms of their relationship with customers through social media. Their new transparent style involved an active website of how they were reinventing the company, documenting the changes they were making with a Twitter campaign that pushed the idea of ‘#newpizza’.

However, Domino's has turned the backlash around, found its target market and established itself as a leader amongst fast food delivery services. Pizza has always been popular, but trying to beat its competitors means targeting a specific group of people. Domino's social media has focused on the younger generation and now appeals directly to students, especially teenagers starting afresh in university.

Domino's Social Media Presence

Domino's already have a huge following on social media – with over a million likes on Facebook. The company play on popular film quotes, incorporating the word pizza to make the quotation relevant to them. On Twitter, Domino's are constantly interacting with customers and dealing with complaints. They are a prevalent presence on social media; consumers are always responding. They know what the people want – humourous quotes alongside high quality pictures of pizzas that’ll leave the audience salivating. Instagram is equally on trend, using popular hashtags and employing the ‘taking photos of your food and posting them’ ritual.

The Pizza Club

They know their target audience, often using language like ‘squad’, branding videos that youthful individuals can relate to and creating posts that make the audience respond with “That’s so me!” Their most recent advertisement on Instagram, modernises the infamous 80s movie The Breakfast Club, intertwining elements of contemporary popular culture such as fidget spinners, social awkwardness and the return of retro style. Instead of the iconic fist pump, instead the main character holds two branded pizza boxes.

Ordering Pizza Through Facebook

They have utilised social media to make ordering pizza even easier. If the website hadn’t already made it easier than picking up the phone and the app hadn’t already made it quicker the website, Domino's have made it possible to order through Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa. Via Facebook a customer can message a bot and through Amazon Alexa a person can shout from across the room and hear the tracking details of their order. Domino's are continuously epitomising convenience - in the United States the company have made it possible to tweet the pizza emoji or the hashtag ‘#EasyOrder’ and the dough is already being stretched and sauced.

Domino's social media has latched onto the digital innovative train and with no plans to alight yet, it’s quite easy to see the company's success is derived from their online presence, rather than solely down to the falling cost of cheese.

50 Ways To Be Better & Generate Demand On Instagram

Generate demand on Instagram Marketing
If you want to generate demand on Instagram, first you have to acknowledge the need to be better. We've put together fifty ways you can begin to do just that.

Instagram now sees over 400 million active users, daily. So whether you like it or not, this isn’t a social network to be sniffed at. Any marketing channel with numbers that substantial deserves to be given some serious thought. If you’ve spent the last few years shouting about the fact that your brand or organisation is too niche or unorthodox to be on Instagram then maybe it’s time for a rethink.

As with anything, to generate demand on Instagram you are going to have to put the work in. Most of us are well aware of when we need to be better at something. In fact, “just be better Mark” is one of the most common criticisms that I hear. The problem with being better at something is it takes three steps, each requiring more investment than the last:

  1. Acknowledging that you need to be better: This can sometimes be difficult, but if people tell you that you need to as much as they do me, eventually it will sink in.
  2. Finding out how to be better: After acceptance comes seeking help. If you want to generate demand on Instagram that’s where this article comes in.
  3. Actually doing the things that will make you be better: Finally, the most frustrating step in the road towards being better is doing those things that you learnt about that will make you be better. In the case of Instagram, this means that you are going to have to actually use it - well.
Using Instagram correctly

Before we continue, we should probably confirm what Instagram is and isn’t. Where businesses are concerned, Instagram is a community building and demand generation tool, not a sales tool. If you overuse the word sales when referring to it, you are setting yourself up to fail. What you need to be selling is the lifestyle associated with your brand or products. You can't sell direct from Instagram, but you can generate demand on Instagram

I am going to go out on a whim in speculating here that there is more than one reason why Instagram still haven’t given us the option to embed links into normal posts yet. Reason one, (the most obvious) is that they want you to pay for their advertising. But reason two is likely that they want to retain their original sense of authenticity as a community, and not allow it to become a network full of overzealous businesses constantly shouting about how great they are.

While they have specific brand accounts now, there is still a significant feeling of consistency across the board. You need to be building demand, making people want in, building a community of people who love your stuff, encouraging organic advocacy through word of mouth and shares/user generated content.

How to generate demand on Instagram

Once you’ve decided that you want to generate demand on Instagram, get to studying the below. Almost like an Instagram marketing cheat sheet for businesses who want to be better, what follows is fifty of our top tips for generating demand and generally being better on IG.

  1. Write a bossing bio: You Instagram bio needs to be short, succinct, and describe who you are, what you do and why you do it. Use the rule of three and be human.
  2. Brand your page: Your Instagram page should live and breathe your brand. Be sure your profile picture and bio reflects your brand in colours, imagery and style.
  3. Brand your feed: Further to your page, all of your feed should have the feel of your brand, reflecting the feel and themes through colours and content.
  4. Work on your branding: If you can’t get the last two, it’s probably time to step back and take a look at your branding. Remember, it’s more than a logo, it’s about personality and how you are perceived.
  5. Ensure a mobile-optimised link in bio: It should be clear where your link-in-bio goes to, but alongside that, be sure that this page is optimised for mobile otherwise this reflects poorly on your brand.
  6. Emoji for effect: There’s nothing wrong with a good emoji - so long as it’s the right emoji! Don’t overuse them, they should be engaged only when they make sense and compliment your post.
  7. Post a variety of content: Variety is the aim of the game. Be sure to start building up different styles of content - post people, place, things and thoughts, not just one!
  8. Create a posting strategy: Having a posting strategy will make it far, far easier for you to have a rich and varied Instagram feed without having to think about what you are going to post each day.
  9. Post more real people: Instagram is for people! Don’t just post your products, be sure to post people engaging with and advocating your products. Generate demand on Instagram by making people want to be those people.
  10. Mention those real people: A simple way to expand your Instagram reach is by mentioning the people within your Instagram posts.
  11. Connect with locals: Connect with local businesses and give your local brand a footprint by using geo-tags and always adding location information.
  12. Create a custom hashtag: A custom hashtag is a great way to solidify one specific campaign or aspect of your brand. Be individual and on-brand.
  13. Promote your custom hashtag: There’s no use in having a custom hashtag if nobody uses it! Be sure to promote yours through posts and in-store.
  14. Use Instagram Stories: Instagram Stories are a great way to expand the variety of content on your Instagram feed and build demand for your brand lifestyle. Add to it regularly.
  15. Vary your Stories content: If you want to get more views on Instagram Stories, create better graphics, do better video, create fun Boomerangs - continually vary your content!
  16. Start going Live: Live streaming isn’t the past, it’s the present and the future. Live video adds a sense of exclusivity to your brand and makes your community even more committed to you.
  17. Promote your Live Instagram content: Obviously there isn’t much use in broadcasting if nobody knows you are going to be doing so…
  18. Utilise brand listening: Search for mentions of your brand, hashtags and products to see who is talking about you - and what they are saying.
  19. Repost mentions: User-generated content is the one. When you discover good-quality posts by advocates, respond by reposting them.
  20. Post behind the scenes content: Behind the scenes content fosters a sense of exclusivity for your brand and encourages more likes as users want in. New product teasers are a great way to generate demand on Instagram.
  21. Tag other brands: Using products or collaborating with other brands? Be sure to tag them in your posts to expand your reach.
  22. Engage with potential customers: Once you identify potential customers, like and comment on their posts to get your brand on their radar.
  23. Try active following: Active following is simply following a bunch of (relevant) users, unfollowing those who don’t follow back, and repeating the process to build your audience.
  24. Use better hashtags: A killer hashtag strategy is integral to a great Instagram marketing strategy. Be sure to search for the best and most relevant ones for your industry.
  25. Use the hashtag dots properly: Be sure to write all of your hashtags on a note with five vertical dots (not full stops) above. This will collapse your hashtag comment and make your post visually pleasing.
  26. Create community exclusive offers: If you want to foster a sense of community and exclusivity, post exclusive offers as content that only your Instagram community have access to. This is a great way to generate demand on Instagram.
  27. Show posts in-shop for offers: If you want to keep a handle on how successful these exclusive offer posts are, make it so that they have to specifically show you the post to benefit.
  28. Create user-generated competitions: A good way to get more users posting about your products and brand is to make competitions that require you to post a picture to enter.
  29. Stockpile and repost user-generated content: When you find user-generated content, make a note or stockpile it and add it to your posting strategy, ensuring you note the user when you do so.
  30. Try sounding human: Instagram was made for humans, by humans. It makes sense that to be successful your brand needs to sound human. Human.
  31. Become a microcopy boss: If you want people to read, understand, and love your posts, learn how to write microcopy like a boss.
  32. Try long-form text: Posts don’t always have to be about the image. Sometimes a simple picture accompanied by long-form text - e.g. a recipe or poem - can be hugely beneficial.
  33. Learn basic photography: Obviously on an image sharing platform like Instagram, pictures really do matter. So it’s definitely worth getting better at photography!
  34. Practice photo editing: Edited Instagram photos generally perform better than their unedited counterparts. Learn how to edit better.
  35. Create a profile for a product launch: If you are launching a new product, it can sometimes be worth making a separate profile for that product specifically. Then follow the next steps..
  36. Promote that profile through mentions on posts: Post about your new product, mentioning the product in the text, e.g. “Get yours @BuyNewProduct.” Finally...
  37. Use link-in-bio to purchase that product: When the user reaches that new profile, create a nice profile with a link-in-bio that goes direct to a buy now page.
  38. Reach out to influencers: Influencer marketing is a great way to build you brand notoriety. Find who the biggest players in your industry are and reach out to them.
  39. Respond to all comments: It’s not just about posting - to make a user an advocate you need to be responsive! Respond to all comments well, with wit and in good time.
  40. Promote your Instagram account across other networks: Be sure your Instagram page is promoted across your other networks, for example your website, Facebook and Twitter.
  41. Work on your schedule: Continually refine your posting schedule so that variety becomes your brand’s middle name.
  42. Never over-post: Be sure that you aren’t bombarding users with messages and turning them off. It’s important to strike a balance to ensure you aren’t over-posting.
  43. Post at peak times: Want to get more likes and engagement? Peak times for posting are cited to be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and weekdays at 5pm. Allegedly. This is always subject to change.
  44. Trial posting at different times: It’s much better practice to engage in A/B testing and trial posting a different times throughout the day to see what works for you.
  45. Add location info to posts: Location info will expand the reach of your post and make sure that people know where you are and what you’re up too, always.
  46. Get consistency for your images: If you want to maintain your brand look and feel, create your own image style right down to common colour palettes and filters/edits.
  47. Search keywords for prospects: Take advantage of Instagram’s search function to find new prospects for your business. Search for keywords and hashtags related to your business.
  48. Engage with your competitors audience: There’s nothing wrong with engaging with your competitors audience and making them aware of your brand.
  49. Understand your top posts: Always look at your insights to see which of your posts are doing the best. This will help you better understand what your audience like to see the most.
  50. Always observe, always refine: Finally, the most important thing is to endeavour to observe where likes are coming from, what works for you, where you audience is growing, and continually refine your strategy for the best possible results.

Effective Competitor Analysis for Social Media Greatness

social media competitor analysis

One of the simplest and most effective ways to ensure success for your social media marketing campaigns is through effective competitor analysis.

Businesses have now grown to understand the potential that social media offers as a marketplace. However, due to it being so mainstream, many are unwilling to invest time and energy into planning and preparation.

One of the biggest mistakes that can be made in the preliminary stages is launching forward without defining clear goals and establishing what tactics will help achieve those goals.

Like a great deal many things, planning is key to success on social media. Competitor analysis is a key part for this. It not only allows you to garner ideas, it also gives you a clear idea of benchmark expectations for growth and engagement. These can then be cross-referenced with your own results further down the line.

Many businesses on social media forget competitor analysis when they launch their social media pages. But the truth is competitor analysis often turns out to be one of the most useful and valuable studies that a marketer can undertake before getting going.

The key points below will help you better know what to look for when conducting competitor analysis for social media...

1. Identify your competitors and what Social Networks they use

You probably already have a good idea of who your competitors are, however, it’s a good idea to double check that these are the same on social media. Those who you consider less prominent competitors in general may have cracked social media on a bigger scale than others!

Look across absolutely all networks to see which they use. Remember that Facebook and Twitter aren’t the be all and end all of social networks. Some businesses get an awful lot of  their brand awareness and engagement from things like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and (particularly for B2B) LinkedIn.

2. Consider their Social Media voice and rates of activity

Social media was created by humans for humans. If they have cracked it, your competitors voice on social media will reflect that and differ from their general professional voice. It will generally be more personable.

Do they use humour? Have they opted for a friendly, helpful tone to encourage interaction? Whatever it is, consider how it might effect audience engagement. After that, analyse the frequency at which they post on each network.

3. Consider following and engagement ratios

This step helps you to gather the sort of data that will help you to analyse your results further down the line. Analysing engagement rates also gives you a good idea of how popular each competitor is with their audience in comparison to each other.

Depending on how thorough you want your analysis to be, this can again be a time-consuming process. If one competitor has lower engagement on their posts by their followers than others, consider why. Do they engage actively with them? Is there something about the content that could be affecting it?

4. Identify the style of content that works for them

Content! It's a golden word. It’s what entices your audience to engage with your brand and increases your reach. By measuring how successful each content medium (video, live, graphics, polls, competitions, etc.) is with their fans you can give yourself a better idea of the kind of things that might work for you.

5. See how they integrate their channels

It’s important to remember that social media was created to be integrated! Many companies are successful on social media because they create great blog content on their own website and share it through their social channels. Chances are that if that content is popular with their audience, it could be for you too.

How to Optimise Content for Social Media Distribution

optimise content for social media

If you want to see the greatest amount of interaction and engagement on your posts through social media, you need to be sure you optimise content for distribution on those networks.

You can have written the most meticulously researched, expertly analysed article imaginable that is destined to change perceptions within your industry - but if you haven't spent a good amount of time (more time than spent writing, even) on distributing and promoting it, then don’t expect a huge ROI any time soon. Or ever.

The most successful content marketers aren’t always the best writers. They are the ones who understand the social media landscape. There are many reasons social networks are the ultimate content distribution platform. To start with, they offer the ability to easily integrate and share content. They also have the power to target a specific sub-section of users. This all maximises the possibility for widespread engagement, resulting in an insurmountable reach.

Why you need to optimise content for distribution

While the vast majority of marketers have a good grasp of the positives, not all of them are using social media to its full potential. The ones who are are the ones who optimise content properly for distribution.

Look at it this way. You may have pinpointed the correct network and the exact time of the day to post for the highest rate of clicks, but if you haven't properly optimised your headline, image or message to provoke a response from the widest variety of users, you can't realistic expect those clicks. Here is some of our best advice for optimising your content for social media distribution.

Get serious about your headlines

Writing a better title or headline for your content will not only work wonders for content distribution, it could also have a far better long-game impact on your SEO. Great content writers can spend hours meditating on the best headline structure as it is just as, if not more, important than the article itself.

No serious marketer ever wants to advocate clickbait, but it’s undeniable just how well a title that develops intrigue and hype at first glance can fare on the internet. If headlines aren’t your strong point or you’re looking for something to help direct you, we recommend CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool.

Remember, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from tailoring your original headline for each particular network. Distribution should be ongoing - it’s not a one post thing - so you can afford to A/B test different headlines and get a better feel for what sentiments, structures and power words get the best reaction with each audience.

Put more thought into your graphics

There’s little point in explaining the importance of visual content on social media; anybody who uses it will already understand. Content writers are also fully aware of how it can be useful to utilise graphics and other types of content (embedded posts, videos, etc.,) within the body of an article to reduce bounce rate. But crafting posts that get the most engagement goes beyond adding a generic blog title graphic.

Consider how you can merge your headline and your graphic to instil the most amount of intrigue and encourage the biggest response. In order to utilise networks such as Instagram, you can also create bespoke graphics making use of figures and specific specks of information from your article, and include the URL in your page header.

Get your colleagues involved in distribution

Humans trust other humans’ judgement more than they do that of a brand. Content distribution isn’t just about what you post as your business or organisation, it’s also about getting your colleagues and advocates involved too.

This is particularly important on professional networks such as LinkedIn. To make this a more attractive thing, figure out ways to integrate the comments and expert opinions of employees within your content. This will give them a sense of ownership and encourage their advocacy, while also having the positive effect of giving a heightened professionalism to your article.

Social Media For Startups: Three Steps to Success

Social media for startups

Social media for startups is essential. Used correctly, it can help shape your brand, create lasting relationships with consumers and reach out to potential employees.

Digital marketing budgets are now at an all time high, a result of a nation obsessed with social networking, online shopping and digital media. The nature of social means that you are able to benefit from instant feedback during the preliminary stages of your launch. Harnessing this potential is invaluable to positive evolution and cementing confidence in your brand.

So why social media for startups? Well, when you put them on paper, the benefits are obvious. Social networks offer an easy, direct passage to your audience. Targeted ads mean that you can put your brand message in front of those people (who could potentially become advocates) while it is still new and innovative.

Relative to other aspects of a digital marketing strategy, social media for startups also requires less investment in order to be optimised. Social networks offer just the right amount of customisation for your brand; not so much that you require an adept coder to look professional, and yet not so much as to restrict you to a white-label account.

To make it easier to tap into social media for startups, we’ve put together three simple steps that can make all the difference:

1. Create your strategy before your profile

Before you get going, you need to know what you want to achieve. This means creating your social media strategy before you even get round to creating your profile[s]. In order to achieve your goals, every little piece of content you include will need to stem from your strategy - and the best way to know that you have done this is to have it at the forefront of your mind before you get building. Define your goals; your primary and secondary objectives could be any combination of the following:

  • Build brand awareness
    All startups will, whether intentionally or not, be using their social to build awareness of their new business.
  • Distribution of content
    If engaging, unique and niche specific content is an integral aspect of your startup venture, you should be using social as a primary method of preliminary distribution, driving potential consumers to your website.
  • Increase web traffic
    This will stem from your content, and ultimately rely on how well you have disseminated your brand identity into your posts.
  • Locate and acquire potential customers
    The ultimate goal for most startup strategies is to locate and acquire potential customers - but to do so you must first understand which steps you will need to take to get there.

Knowing your objectives will also help define the tonality, feel and frequency of your posts, and also the variety of audience you reach out to. These things also have roots in your brand identity. Defining your objectives will allow you to reach your goals.

2. Choose your channels wisely and listen to your audience

Not all social networks will be suitable for your objectives. Consider where the majority of your audience will be hiding. While there may be billions of users on one network, this amounts to nothing if they are not the right sort of customer for your business.

Social media can be utilised just as well as a customer service tool - a priceless aspect of building a business. Use your channels to listen to your customers and see what they have to say. You essentially have yourself a focus group of potential consumers!

3. Experiment and be willing to evolve

Take advantage of these early stages of your business and allow yourself to experiment with different content styles and engagement techniques and see what works for you! Always be willing to evolve as you discover more about your industry.

Throughout the process of building social media for any startup venture, be sure to evaluate often and comprehensively. If you follow these simple tips, you are sure to be on track to getting your startup noticed - and that could happen a lot quicker than you first expect!

Bad Social Media Techniques You Need to Stop Right Now

Bad social media techniques
If you are unknowingly utilising bad social media techniques as part of your strategy, you might as well not bother. One cowboy tactic can ruin everything.

Sometimes all it takes to elevate a social media campaign from great to magnificent is one teeny strategy addition. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the opposite. Make one erroneous strategy addition, no matter how teeny it is, and your results can plummet.

One thing in particular has made identifying bad social media practices a much harder process than it needs to be; Marketing.

A fairly scathing statement now I look at it written it down, and an ironic one to boot. But true because often these practices are better marketed than best-practice strategies. Why? Well, they can make guarantees about vanity numbers simply because they use underhanded methods; case and point, buying followers. Genuine services have to work on projections justified by the strategies they create, and by previous results from similar strategies.

Why we all stumble into bad social media techniques

There are so many things you can work to achieve on social media, and so many ways you could potential achieve those things. Building social media marketing takes time and a great deal of A/B testing. At some point, we are all going to try something that turns out to be a bad idea in the long-run. The greatest of these being, y’know, giving it up all together.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some strategies are downright boring to work on but get the job done perfectly well. These can often result in apathy - and from that place of despondency we can stumble into bad social media practices too. The greatest of these again being, y’know, giving it up all together.

On that note, here are some bad social media techniques that you’d do well to avoid:

1. Using a curation tool for personalised shortlinks

Some content curation tools, in particular the ones that use sales buzzwords to market themselves, allow you to add your own call to action banner to a piece of content via a personalised shortlink on Twitter. Any content writer who has had their work curated this way (ahem) will tell you that it is dishonest and frustrating.

These apps, such as MarketHub.io, effectively create a duplicate version of your page with somebody else’s call to action (often with the words free webinar included) slapped across it. In many cases, this call to action doesn’t disappear when internal links are clicked. This is misleading, making visitors think that the brand or person on the CTA is affiliated with the website or content.

These are the kind of bad social media techniques that not only harm your own brand, but even worst, can effectively destroy the hard work of another innocent content marketer.

2. Buying followers

If I hadn’t already made it perfectly clear, buying followers is the thing that you should never, ever do. These are nothing but empty numbers; bots and fake accounts that reduce your reach and flag your pages as spam. I’ve gone into this in full and complete detail in my previous article ‘Why you should never, under any circumstances, buy followers’.

3. Using vanity hashtags

I’ve gone into this previously in my article “Why popular hashtags are ruining your strategy”. I’m not totally convinced that vanity hashtags is a recognised term, but it should be. What I’m referring to is using hashtags that exist primarily because they rhyme or roll off the tongue nicely; case and point, #mondaymotivation.

Social media managers and marketers often end up including these hashtags in their posting strategy because they are relevant; which is fine. But when they are engaged with for no reason but numbers, they simply end up marketing to other marketers who are just looking for numbers.

4. Using auto-DMS on Twitter

I’ve made it perfectly clear in the past that automated Twitter messages are the single most annoying and pointless technique ever to darken the doors of social media marketing. These are often sent via following/un-following software/apps that are standard sales pitches. They have effectively made direct messaging on Twitter utterly redundant for anybody who ever wanted to use it for, I don’t know, direct messaging other users.

5. Spending all your resources on so-called “viral” content

Ah, “viral”. Many an MDs favourite term and one that, when heard, makes social media managers shudder. This idea that you can somehow create social media content that is so mind-bogglingly good, so shareable, that the process of merely posting it on your wall will mean that the whole internet will leap on it is totally nonsensical.

I’m not saying that things don’t go viral, that would be a fallacy. However, the idea that you can fabricate virality (not a real term) is. Things go viral when the planets align - the most we can do is create awesome content and ensure it is fastidiously distributed/promoted to the right people.

Constantly piling all your resources into content creation is not a sustainable strategy. You need to be interacting with real people consistently, always conducting network analysis and tweaking your strategy as needed, posting daily in order to make sure your message is getting across.

6. Not giving your strategy the time of day

This is a point that I cannot stress enough. The best social media marketing strategies are built, sustained and made-whole by analytical data. When you start a social media marketing strategy you need to be persistent with it. That way you can see what is working, what isn’t working, and where you perhaps need to redistribute your investment.

Social media isn’t a sales channel. However, many professionals are sales minded. If that’s you, turn your eyes away from your bottom line because unless we are talking about social PPC, it isn’t advertising. Instead, conduct a little social listening - see how much people are talking about your brand now.

7. Thinking social media is the only thing that needs work

If you are building an engaged, relevant audience, and traffic from social networks to your sites is high but those leads aren’t converting into sales, the issue is likely to be somewhere else. You need to have one clear brand message across all of your channels - your website, web content, email, outbound, inbound, Homeward Bound, ALL of those buzzwords.

One final, happier note

Instagress, the spammy auto-comment/follow-unfollow bot service for Instagram, has been closed. So at least that’s one less bad social media practice that we don’t have to worry about.

And you can use relevant hashtags without getting hundreds of bots telling you that your picture of your lunch is “WOW! Inspiring! 😍”.

Simple Social Media Post Structures for Constant Growth

Social media post structures

Building an awesome and original repertoire of social media post structures is a great way to cement your social strategy for constant and continual growth.

From the smallest manufacturer to huge multi-national corporations, from the up-and-coming influencer to the biggest name in the social game, we can all struggle when it comes to juggling content originality and posting frequency.

Social media users are in a position where they have a vast amount of different businesses and organisations vying for their attention on a day to day basis. It’s incredibly important to ensure that you grow your pages with the correct audience in mind to ensure you are building a community of advocates for your brand. However, even if you have the most die-hard fan base imaginable, sooner or later repeating the same content is going to turn people away.

Why you need an arsenal of awesome social media post structures

Constant growth requires commitment to your audience. It’s all too easy to get despondent when your likes begin to tot up, but this is dangerous territory - if anything, at this stage marketers need to invest more and more into their posting strategy to ensure that their current audience remains interested and reactive.

Repetitive content turns off consumers, which in turn damages your reach. To keep those guys on your side you need to constantly be reminding them why they liked your brand in the first place. Doing this requires you to use a variety of social media post structures that invite engagement.

Here are a few ideas to help you on your way:

1. Industry expert knowledge and advice

Providing useful advice and guidance can be valuable content for businesses whose audience follow them for their expert knowledge. Couple this with original, expert content from your own blog and you're on to a winner. This can also be done as single entities without links to external content, however these posts should be limited.

Often marketers can over-rely on tips and advice for social media content, and at this point audience members begin to lose interest. It’s also important that you don’t rely heavily on piggy-backing clichéd post structures such as #WednesdayWisdom, #MondayMotivation and #FridayFeeling.

In small portions these social media post structures can help with reach and engagement, but using them as a primary part of your posting strategy looks lazy and uninspired, a process known at Giraffe Social Media as “Pirate Posting”. Yargh.

2. Topical posts

Using your posts to comment on relevant trending topics when they crop up can be a great way to diversify your strategy and generate significant reach and impact. If you’re savvy enough to make use of the relevant hashtags you put your content in prime position to be discovered by new users.

Be sure you don’t limit yourself to only engage with news and trends from your own industry. Take big media stories such as seasonal events and global tournaments and look these through the lens of your industry. This style of posting often results in a boost in engagement rates because it not only interests your own audience but also wider social media users

3. Start a social face off

If the trending topic allows, a great way to encourage engagement is to structure your post as a head-to-head and ask users to side with their choice. This can also be done with two similar products or aspects of your industry. Not only can this provoke a discussion, it can also provide beneficial insights into your community’s preferences which will help you to tailor your future content as suits.

4. Just do more video

Do more video. Whether it’s raw, behind the scenes footage captured by a member of staff or a high-spec professionally produced video of a day in the life of your business, video gets way more engagement than any other type of content. Visual is integral to catching a user's’ eye.

Developments in smartphone technology and social networking features have also made the process of doing live video broadcasts 100 times easier. This is something you should certainly be doing as it literally personifies your brand and makes your audience feel they are part of an exclusive group.

5. Pose your questions as fill-in-the-blank responses

Every social media manager worth their salt appreciates the importance of asking questions to provoke engagement from their audience. In order to get the largest amount of responses possible it’s a good idea to make the process of responding require little energy.

Fill-in-the-blank quotes are a great way of achieving this. They provide users with a pre-structured response - and also the opportunity to be humorous, which many find hard to resist.

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