Social Media Marketing for Business: Expectation Vs. Reality

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Social-Media-Expectations-vs-Reality-Header-Image

When a fast food chain releases a new menu item, there is typically a lot of hype and promotion around the product. These efforts can lead to certain expectations of what consumers can expect when purchasing the item.

Sometimes reality meets the expectation, but more often than not, it doesn’t.

Anytime you explore new opportunities within digital marketing, it can lead way to a certain set of expectations for performance, audience reaction and a host of other variables.

While the reality may not always meet the expectation, there are many benefits to incorporating social media into your digital marketing routine. According to Social Media Examiner’s latest report, these benefits include:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increase in website traffic
  • Development of loyal fans
  • Access to marketplace insight
  • Lead generation

That same report found that Facebook (52%), LinkedIn (21%) and Twitter (12%) are the most important social media platforms for marketers.

The examples below provide a glimpse into some common expectations that new (and even more seasoned) marketers have about social media marketing and the sometimes harsh reality.

#1 – Set Publishing Expectations

Social-Media---EVR-2

Expectation: When tackling social media for business, it can be easy to assume that you’ll have endless ideas for content and will be a publishing machine.

Reality: More often than not, companies are strong out of the gate and then quickly tire from the attention needed to create and curate compelling content.

Solution: One way to engage your audience is to consistently publish content on your social channels. If you create a routine for publishing, they’ll know what to expect. Tools like Buffer are great for scheduling out your social media content for the week. You can also set up rules for posting frequency and time of day within your preferences. Additionally, Buffer has a handy content curation feature that makes it simple to choose a piece of content that is relevant for your audience and incorporate it into the publishing schedule.

#2 – Assess Organic Conversions

Social-Media---EVR-3

Expectation: Based on all of the awesome content you’re producing, it’s only a matter of time before those contact forms are flying in!

Reality: More realistically, a strong social media presence will likely lead to an increase in referral traffic to your website (if that is where you’re pointing followers).

Solution: An organic social media can be used in combination with content marketing efforts to drive lead generation. While it may not always be a direct conversion to sign up for services, there are other conversion opportunities. For example, use social media to lead your audience to gated content on your website or to a subscribe form to receive updates from your company.

#3 – Effective Community Management

Social-Media---EVR-4

Expectation: Responding to brand mentions and inquiries is easy.

Reality: Keeping up with brand mentions manually can become incredibly overwhelming.

Solution: Continue to create quality content that your community will find useful and use Social media monitoring tools like SproutSocial, Topsy and Social Mention to help identify and respond to mentions of your brand.

#4 – Improve Advertising Effectiveness

Social-Media---EVR-5

Expectation: Using paid social automatically means that you’ll have more conversions (likes, shares, comments) for your facebook page and website.

Reality: Social advertising merely provides access to more people, it doesn’t change the quality of your message.

Solution: To get the most out of social media advertising consider the following best practices:

  • Use clear and concise messaging
  • Incorporate strong visual assets
  • Beta test ads by publishing organically first
  • Use platform targeting features
  • Rotate ads frequently to avoid ad fatigue
  • Design ads with mobile users in mind

#5 – Don’t Take the One & Done Approach

Social-Media---EVR-6

Expectation: You can successfully publish all of the exact same social messages on every platform.

Reality: People use different social media sites for different reasons.

Solution: You need to understand your audience and the social media sites that they use in order to get a true sense of how to position messaging for each platform. The way that most users interact on LinkedIn is vastly different than they would use an Instagram account. Keep this in mind when creating messaging for your business social media profiles and pages.

Begin Setting Realistic Expectations for Social Media Marketing

True social media marketing success requires hard work, patience and attention to detail. Chances are, if you invest your time and money wisely, you’ll begin to see some of your social media expectations become realities.

What have you found to be the most shocking reality about social media that you hadn’t expected?

Images Via Shutterstock: 256990276267812159152294633172622741174332258173481875168059315


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7 Ideas for Keeping Your Brand’s Content Marketing Fresh & Relevant

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vegetable dish

Have you ever opened the fridge and realized that all of the produce that you painstakingly picked out at the farmers market had gone bad? Maybe there were a few items that were salvageable but the rest had to be tossed. You wouldn’t want to serve your guests a rotten ratatouille would you?

Today’s content marketers should be using only the freshest of ingredients (tactics) to keep their audience engaged and coming back for seconds.

Keeping an online audience engaged is getting harder and harder. They are constantly bombarded with an overwhelming amount of content which makes it very difficult to hold their attention. In fact, the Statistic Brain Research Institute found that the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds and only 4% of page views on the internet last longer than 10 minutes. Remember that blog post it took you 3 hours to write? Chances are your customers are speed reading and moving on.

However, there are steps that you can take to keep your content marketing fresh, interesting and innovative for your audience. In today’s market, Content marketing can take on many different forms and be published on a variety of platforms. The possibilities are nearly limitless.

Below are some of the ideas for how you can keep your content marketing program fresh and delicious. Bon apetite!

#1 – Study the Works of Other “Chefs”

Today’s foodies love everything from Indian street food, to fine French dining. What has become even more popular over the past few years is the concept of food fusion, which takes notes from different types of cuisines and mashes them together to produce the best possible dishes.

In order to create these tasty recipes, chefs had to go outside of their base knowledge of a particular cuisine and incorporate ideas from other cultures.

It can be easy to fall into a routine of strictly following what other marketers in your industry are doing to help determine your content marketing strategy.

Instead, look for innovative ideas that are outside of your industry and may not even be a part of marketing. For example, take a look at your personal email inbox, is there anything that caught your eye as a consumer or that you found to be an interesting concept? Use these ideas that you find in other industries to fuel your content marketing ideas.

#2 – Ditch the Recipe Book & Try Something New

Some of my best dishes have come from throwing together ingredients that I thought went well together. Other times I have been left with an inedible goopy mess. But at least I knew not to do it again.

Believe it or not, failure can be a good thing. Why? Because if you failed, that means that you made an attempt. One of the worst things you can do as a marketer is to remain stagnant and keep executing on the same old safe, tried and true digital marketing tactics.

Now that doesn’t mean that you should just go chasing after any idea. You should still be mindful of your approach and determine what it is that you expect to get out of it.

#3 – Mother Sauces Require Key Ingredients

You can’t make a bechamel sauce without butter and a hollandaise without lemon just isn’t quite right. While there are variations of these mother sauces, there are core ingredients that bring them together and make your tastebuds sing.

One of the most overlooked opportunities for marketing is combining your different digital teams (either internal or external). The convergence of search, social and content is not a new concept. However, there is a big difference between creating an integrated digital marketing strategy, and getting your different teams together to collaborate.

It doesn’t matter if you have a large team, a small team or are working with an outside digital marketing agency, there is always an opportunity to collaborate. This approach will help each team understand what it is that the other is working on and can lead to some creative brainstorming for content marketing solutions.

#4 – Small Touches Create a Better Diner Experience

Personally, I eat just as much with my eyes as I do with my mouth. There is almost no replacement for a beautiful plate of food that tastes equally delicious. The perfect combination of ambiance, a beautiful table, good parking and alluring food can create a truly epic dining experience.

Similarly, you should always use content marketing to create a good customer experience.

This means:

  • Create Content for Need: Does your content marketing program help solve a business problem or meet a customer need?
  • Optimize for Device: Can your customers access your website, blog and any other assets both on desktop and a mobile device?
  • Incorporate Storytelling: Connect customers to your content by incorporating storytelling into your strategy.

#5 – Do Your Customers Like Their Steak Rare, Medium or Well Done?

Let’s pretend that you went out to the nicest steak restaurant in town and everyone in your party ordered a nice juicy steak. Now imagine that the server assumed that everyone at the table wanted their steak well done without asking? Chances are, there would be some pretty unhappy people at the table.

Many companies are afraid of asking current customers simple questions about the helpfulness of their content. There is the fear of negative feedback or that the customer will decide that they no longer want to do business with you.

Instead of being fearful, consider this an opportunity to improve your marketing program by better providing your customers what they need. They’ll also appreciate your willingness to hear what they have to say. Ultimately, this temperature check will tell you what you’re doing well (and need to do more of) as well as opportunities for improvement for content.

You can either contact customers directly and ask them or survey your community at large through email, social media or other means.

#6 – Add Your Own Flair

Part of what makes celebrity chefs so great is that you get to experience “what they’re really like” simply by tuning in to the Food Network or Cooking channel. In all fairness, their cooking chops is largely what got them to where they are today, but their personalities are what have made them celebrities.

Few brands are able to inject the proper amount of personality and authority into their content marketing. Often, brands are fearful of towing the line and offending the audience. Always err on the side of professionalism but don’t be afraid to use humor, personality and wit where appropriate.

Another option is to provide your audience with a “behind the scenes” look at your organization. This can be accomplished through “candid” videos, images shared on social media and contributions from team members from across the organization on their experience working with the company.

#7 – Throw Spaghetti at the Wall & See What Sticks

While you want your noodles al-dente, crunchy just won’t cut it. Sometimes the only way to tell if they’re good is to throw them at the wall and see if they stick.

The same can be said for creative content marketing brainstorms. It’s better to throw in a bunch of ideas and see which ones end up sticking.

To keep your content marketing fresh, consider adding some impromptu brainstorming sessions when needed. Consider inviting team members outside of the marketing department for a fresh set of eyes, ears and brains.

Provide the team an overview of what you’re hoping to accomplish as well as any relevant information about the target audience. Then, set them loose. Truthfully, you won’t use every idea that is concocted during your session, but there is always something useful that comes out of a brainstorm. Even if it’s just inspiration.

Are You Hungry to Innovate Your Content Marketing Program?

I don’t know about you, but this blog post is making me incredibly hungry. If you’re stuck in a content marketing rut, hopefully this post has helped you think of some different ways that you can innovate your marketing, without getting egg on your face.

What have you found to be the best way to get your creative content marketing juices flowing?

Image: Shutterstock


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7 Ideas for Keeping Your Brand’s Content Marketing Fresh & Relevant | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 7th 2015 Online Marketing

Content Marketing Measurement & ROI Advice From Experts at Kraft Foods & 3M

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Content-Marketing-Measurement-&-ROI

Understanding the potential risk and return on any investment is imperative for making a sound business decision. It doesn’t matter if the investment is monetary or that of time or resources.

In recent years, marketers have begun investing more and more into digital marketing programs. Content marketing investment specifically has been on a steady uprise and will only continue to increase in the coming years.

However, only 21% of B2B marketers say that they are successful at tracking content marketing ROI. That means that 79% of B2B marketers are investing in strategy and execution but are not able to track the success of their programs.

Have no fear, we brought in reinforcements. TopRank Marketing recently had the opportunity to interview Julie Fleischer of Kraft Foods and Carlos Abler of 3M as part of our Content Marketing World eBook series.

Julie Fleischer 070615
Julie Fleischer – Kraft Foods
Sr. Director Data + Content + Media

Content Marketing Measurement

With all of the articles and surveys and agencies calling for an increase in the amount of strategic content that marketers are producing, it would be easy to believe that we have universally arrived at the Era of Content Marketing.  Finally, the industry has come around to the belief, so well articulated by Michael Brenner, that it’s time to “stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”

Flawed Measurement Models

Unfortunately, content marketing measurement lags far behind the common sense belief that if people don’t pay attention to it, they can’t be persuaded by it.  Marketing Mix Models, while painfully flawed, have the solid advantage of having been around for decades; they are built into volumetric forecasts.  They are the basis for financial investment.  They are the starting points for every media plan.

And yes, they represent a gross approximation of reality and cannot read small spends, emergent media, or the diverse, intimate, personal, service- driven nuances of content distribution, but they have been around forever, so what CMO is going to forgo their guidance to approve a plan that is wholly ungrounded?

And how on earth can the esoteric, precious, and unproven metrics we’ve been using in content marketing unseed the dominance of Mix?  If trust is built on credibility and credibility is built on consistently delivering what you say you’ll deliver, how can convenience metrics ever win? The fact of the matter is, they can’t.

We’ve been so focused on measuring what’s easy to measure and what’s unique by platform, that we’ve failed the basic tests of marketing metrics:

  • Do they measure what we really need to know?
  • Are they material?
  • Can they predictably guide our businesses?

Determine Critical Measurements

The most important thing you can do as a content marketer is determine what measurements are critical in driving spending decisions at your company and then build an analytic methodology that answers it for content.  Is it ROI?  ROAS?  CPA?  What will it take to prove the worth of your content vs every other form of marketing spend available?

The sooner we build methods to measure the true attributable impact of content marketing on product sales in a way that can be compared directly to other marketing investments, the sooner content marketing, with all of its common sense virtues, can finally replace dated, ineffective and failing forms of marketing communications.  It’s all in the measurement.

Carlos Abler 070615
Carlos Abler – 3M
Leader: Content Marketing Strategy

Using Science to Create a Sound Approach to Content Marketing ROI

I want to focus on the notion of blending socio-behavioral sciences methodologies with data sciences and content and application marketing. Today, marketing is being moved sideways into social socio-behavioral sciences but doesn’t quite realize it.

A number of years ago I worked on an initiative where we used intelligent content highly tailored to the personal change management psychographics of individuals, merged with behavioral and other data with the goal of increasing smoking cessation. The results were phenomenal and a testament to how powerful content can be in transforming behavior.

Ultimately marketing and sales goals are about changing behavior. Ideally in an ethical fashion to the mutual benefit of all. And you can’t beat micro-segmentation at levels optimized to leverage principles of motivational psychology. But to even speculate as to how this type of approach can be leveraged in marketing requires education that marketers simply don’t have.

Create a Blended Team

Another skill most marketers don’t have is knowing what real science looks like. They need a lot of help to understand what it means to set up solid research, and to draw VALID CONCLUSIONS from the evidence. If you put together a team that has a blend of social sciences skills, data sciences, and solid editorial and application development practice, all within an agile framework, you would see some really powerful results.

While this may seem a little outlandish, it really is the logical conclusion for tracing the ROI of content marketing efforts. People are doing this kind of work whether they are any good at it or not. It’s the same situation as businesses becoming publishers. We also need to acquire these scientific methods to realize the full competitive opportunity that the digital disruption as afforded us.

Find the Solution That Works for You

Julie recommends that marketers focus on the basics for beginning to measure content marketing programs. However, when it comes to ROI Carlos suggests a scientific approach for determining true value.

What blend of practical sense and a scientific approach do you think will have the biggest impact on your content marketing measurement and ROI?

Header Image: Shutterstock


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Content Marketing Measurement & ROI Advice From Experts at Kraft Foods & 3M | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 6th 2015 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: G+ Brands Stripped, The Mayor Has Returned, Facebook Gives You A Cut

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Social Media Acronyms

The 75 Most Important Social Media Acronyms – Acronyms are a natural fit for social media networks. These platforms are based on short and snappy communication, so it makes sense for people to rely on abbreviations, especially for common phrases. Check out this infographic and see how many you know. Sprout Social

Google+ Brand Posts Have Been Stripped From Knowledge Graph Cards – Brand posts on Google+ will no longer be displayed in the Knowledge Graph cards, instead they’ll be treated like all other social updates in the traditional search results. Search Engine Land

Facebook Pages See Organic Likes Rise 0.2% in May (Report) – A total of 43.36 percent of Facebook pages advertised on the social network in May, according to the latest research from social analytics and reporting firm Locowise. SocialTimes

Move Over YouTube: Facebook Will Offer Video Creators A Share Of Ad Revenue – Video publishers will get 55% share of revenue for ads that appear near their content in a new algorithmically created Suggested Video feed. Marketing Land

Facebook Taking into Account More Actions on Videos – Facebook has begun to take other actions outside likes and comments into account from those viewing their videos. See what they are. Facebook

Snapchat Launches Native Video Ads – Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has been talking vision a lot recently. Just last month, he spoke about the future (aka: business model) for Snapchat being advertising. This week Spiegel took his pitch to the Cannes Lions Festival to talk more about turning Snapchat into a platform for storytelling. SocialTimes

Google Offers Olive Branch To Journalists & News Publications With Launch Of Google News Lab – Google says it wants to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to help build the future of media. Marketing Land

The Google Mobile Search Carousel Adds Pinterest Pins, Vines, Houzz & Food Network Recipes – The Google Search news carousel gets a bit more social with Pinterest Pins, Vines and more. Search Engine Land

Claim That Crown: Swarm Mayorships Are Back – When Swarm/Foursquare first launched Swarm, you fiercely battled your friends for a chance at a Mayor crown. But it just wasn’t as much fun. That’s why today we’re upping the ante and letting you compete for mayorships against everyone. Foursquare

Facebook Testing ‘See First’ News Feed Customization Feature – Facebook continues to experiment with ways to let users customize their News Feeds, and See First, which appears to be an expansion of a test that was spotted in April, is the latest example. SocialTimes

Microsoft Signs 10-Year Deal For AOL To Use Bing’s Ads & Listings – Google loses deal it held since 2002, but AOL matters far less than it once did. Search Engine Land

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Sprout Social


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Online Marketing News: G+ Brands Stripped, The Mayor Has Returned, Facebook Gives You A Cut | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 3rd 2015 Online Marketing

Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier

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content marketing sommelia

A sommelier is known for having extensive knowledge about wines, and how to complement the sensory experience of each type with perfect food pairings. Many train for years in hopes of finally becoming a Master Sommelier.

When embarking on a content marketing initiative, it’s important to know how to maximize the sensory experience of your content. A Master Content Marketing Sommelier knows what will best engage their customers, be it a complex, full-bodied blog post or a light, crisp infographic.

Demand Metric found that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. This means marketers have a ripe opportunity to create content that expertly meets the needs of their audience.

Below are 6 tips to help you become a sommelier of content marketing.

#1 – Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.

wine balance

Content marketing can be a great tool for lead nurturing if implemented correctly. Successful content will harmoniously create value for your audience and move them toward a purchasing decision.

First and foremost, it is essential that your content offer useful and relevant information for your audience. If your message doesn’t help them solve their problem or meet a current need, they’ll move on to someone who does.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an opportunity to incorporate a call to action, where it makes sense. In fact, many marketers are leaving leads on the table by offering a piece of content without asking for contact information in exchange for the download.

Another often overlooked opportunity is adding calls to action within your blog post. This can be as simple as asking a question that helps your reader internalize the information and engage with your content by sharing their opinion. As long as you achieve balance between your promotional element and the value you add for the reader, you’ll create a pleasant experience.

#2 – Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.

wine blend

Content marketing should not be a stand-alone program within digital marketing. In order to truly be masterful, it must be combined with other digital marketing efforts such as:

Just as a good blended wine combines the strengths of each vintage to enhance the flavor experience, a good marketing blend puts the different elements of marketing to work to amplify your message.

#3 – Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.

wine legs

Even if your customers aren’t ready to buy right now, you want to remain top of mind when they are ready to make the leap. So the question is; how can you create stickiness with your content marketing?

One simple way is to create a consistent posting schedule. If you continue to offer relevant information and sound advice on a consistent basis, your customers will come back to you when they have another need.

#4- Table Wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.

Table Wine Image

If you are an avid wine drinker (like myself) then you know that you’re typically better off skipping the table wine or house wine. It’s usually the cheaper option, but it’s definitely made for quantity rather than quality.

When it comes to your content marketing, you’re better off doing a few things very well, than trying to do too much and falling short. Prioritize your content marketing for impact and form an understanding of what you can handle in-house, what may need to be outsourced and what needs cut from your plan. A few high-quality pieces of content are more valuable in the long-run than high-quantity “table wine” content.

# 5 – Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

Yield Vineyard

The vintner who fails to measure their vineyard’s yield and adjust their plans accordingly won’t be in business for long. If you don’t measure the yield of your content marketing, it will be difficult to see how it is performing and what you can do better. As with any sales or marketing program, you must:

  • Determine your critical measurements based on business goals
  • Define both short and long-term goals
  • Tie performance back to leads and sales metrics

There is no replacement for content marketing measurement and it should always remain top of mind when deploying new tactics. For each piece of content you create, make sure to ask yourself: Does this align with my objectives, and what do I hope to achieve?

#6 – Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

pruning vines

Vintners prune their plants to enable them to grow and thrive. Once you’ve given your content marketing time to mature, it’s time to go back and decide where to “prune” your program. You may find that your audience responds really well to long-form blog content but does not care much for video, for example.

Take the time to find which tactics are performing the best and weed out those that are not effective. A little strategic pruning can make sure that you focus on creating the content that resonates most with your audience.

Pour Yourself a Nice Crisp Glass of Content Marketing

Understanding what makes a successful content marketing strategy can be as tricky as mastering the appreciation of fine wine. Both take practice, dedication and attention to detail. What have you found is your biggest challenge in creating successful content marketing that inspires action?

All definitions are courtesy of WineEnthusiast

Photos via Shutterstock: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh


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Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier | http://www.toprankblog.com

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July 1st 2015 Online Marketing

9 Step Social Media Audit for Improving LinkedIn Business Page Results

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LinkedIn Company Page

It’s undeniable that LinkedIn is leading the pack for professional social networks. In fact, more than half of all of the business in the world have created a business page on LinkedIn. With over 4 million business pages on LinkedIn, the competition for the attention of potential clients and job seekers is at an all-time high.

One way to take a critical look at your LinkedIn business page is to conduct a social media audit and identify areas for improvement. Understanding the elements that will help you build trust with your audience and provide a seamless brand experience for visitors navigating between your website and LinkedIn business page are incredibly important in creating a cohesive strategy.

If you know that your LinkedIn Business Page could be better, but you don’t know where to start, this guide is for you. The social media audit below identifies nine important elements of LinkedIn business profiles that can be improved in order to get more engagement from your audience, and referral traffic back to your website. Ready to see how many of these items you’re executing successfully and how many are an opportunity for improvement?

9 Step LinkedIn Company Page Audit

#1 – Identify the Right Content Mix
“Content mix” refers to the different types of content posted on your LinkedIn Company page. The first step is to analyze what types of content are published to your business page on a regular basis.

Content types can include:

  • Promotional content
  • Industry news
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Links to helpful articles

Ideally, all of these content types should be present in your content mix. Posting only one or two types of content will bore your audience. Engage your audience by posting a variety of content to your LinkedIn business page. Don’t forget to include visual content in your mix: posting images on LinkedIn can increase engagement and comments by as much as  98%!

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#2 – Establish a Cadence
How often does your brand post on LinkedIn? Are your updates posted regularly, or do days or weeks pass by with no updates? Aim to post at least one message a day on your LinkedIn business page in order to begin engaging your audience and create the expectation that visitors can discover new content on a daily basis. Posting intermittently can cause visitors to think that your LinkedIn page is unmaintained or out of date.

#3 – Post at Optimal Times of Day
Now that you know how often you’re posting, consider what time of day updates are typically posted. Do you use a social media management tool to schedule updates at specific times, or do you post updates whenever you can find the time? Scheduling your updates to post at a time of day when the majority of your followers are on LinkedIn is a great way to increase engagement with your content.

According to Fannit, the best times to post updates on LinkedIn are between 7-8 am and 5-6 pm. That’s because many LinkedIn users check their profile at the beginning or end of their work day. 

Image courtesy of QuickSprout

Image courtesy of QuickSprout

#4 – Create Consistency with Your Company Name
This seems like an easy one, but it can have a huge impact on how visitors find and perceive your LinkedIn Company page. First, search for your company’s name on LinkedIn. How many results appear? Some brands have multiple pages on LinkedIn, which can make it very difficult for visitors to know which page is the “correct” LinkedIn business page to visit. If your brand has multiple LinkedIn business pages, consider consolidating into one just one page. If your brand has multiple markets, products, or business units, create showcase pages to speak to those different segments.

Finally, ensure that the spelling on your LinkedIn business page matches the branding on your website. This will provide a consistent experience for visitors, and help them understand that this page is the “official” LinkedIn page for your brand.

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#5 – Find the Perfect Profile Picture
Take a critical look at the profile picture on your LinkedIn company page. It should be a clear, well-cropped image that showcases what your brand is all about. What’s most important is to ensure that your audience can easily recognize the profile image. Most companies opt to use the brand logo for their LinkedIn profile. This is a great way to improve brand recognition.

The image should be high resolution, and perfectly cropped. Grainy, off-centered images may give your business page an unprofessional or sloppy appearance. The size of LinkedIn profile pictures is 50×50 pixels.

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#6 – Use a Banner Image to Create Continuity
The banner image should in some way indicate what your company does. If you work for a healthcare organization, an image of a hospital may be appropriate. They say that one image is worth 1,000 words, so use an image that speaks to your company’s area of expertise. Create a custom image that overlays text over an image in order to include a message, or information about your brand in the banner image. LinkedIn banner images should be a minimum of 646×220  .

Consider changing the banner image on your LinkedIn business page on a quarterly basis to give your page a fresh, updated appearance. The banner image may correspond to a season, event, or important product offering.

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#7 – Provide a Detailed Description
Use the description section of your profile to explain what your company does. Avoid vague, industry jargon in favor of precise language and keywords that explain how your company provides value to your customers. Don’t forget that LinkedIn business page descriptions are crawled by Google, which means that you should include keywords in the description section. You should also fill out the sections provided for specialties, website, industry, type of business, address, and company size.

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#8 – Include a URL in the First Sentence of the Description
When you visit LinkedIn company pages, you’ll notice that only the first one or two sentences of the description appear, unless you click “see more.” If you’d like to drive more referral traffic to your website, either include your brand’s URL in the first sentence of the description, or keep the description short enough that visitors won’t have to click “see more” to find your website URL .

#9 – Dive Into LinkedIn Analytics
LinkedIn business page administrators should take advantage of the data collected within LinkedIn analytics. Get insight into which updates are performing best by viewing impression, click, and engagement metrics for each update. You can also see how much reach and engagement your updates receive over time. LinkedIn’s unique demographic data can show you what industries your fans and visitors are from, what their job functions are, what their seniority level is, and what size company they work for. This information can help you understand more about your audience, and their interests.

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Know When to Call in the Professionals

If you’re overwhelmed by how much time and effort it takes to conduct a social media audit, or to optimize your LinkedIn company page, it may be a sign that it’s time to call in the reinforcements. Do you feel that your LinkedIn company page could be better, but don’t have the time it takes to update and maintain it? Do you crave more expert insights and tips for improving your brand’s social media profiles? Contact TopRank Online Marketing to learn more about our social media audit services .

What are some examples of LinkedIn Company Profiles that you think are well optimized and have followed the checklist above?

Disclosure: LinkedIn, Innovatech and Uponor are all TopRank Online Marketing clients.

Header Image: Shutterstock


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9 Step Social Media Audit for Improving LinkedIn Business Page Results | http://www.toprankblog.com

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June 30th 2015 Online Marketing

#CMWorld Infographic: 12 Marketing Box-Office Titans Share Tips For Creating Blockbuster Content Marketing

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Content Marketing World Infographic Header

There’s a special kind of magic to behind-the-scenes photos from movie sets. You can see how a team of special effects wizards transforms a toy model into a spaceship hurtling towards an alien planet, or a lifeless doll into a skyscraper-climbing giant gorilla. Knowing how the trick is done somehow makes the finished product even more satisfying. That’s especially true if you’re a kid with a camera trying to bring your own dreams to the silver screen.

In the newest eBook series co-produced by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, we asked content marketing wizards to take us behind-the-scenes and show us how they make their own brand of magic. Their advice is inspiring to anyone who wants to create great content that connects with an audience.

The infographic below contains content marketing tips from the entire eBook triple feature and features 12 of the speakers from the upcoming Content Marketing World conference. Let their expert advice inspire you to create your own blockbuster content marketing.

Here are some tweetable takeaways from the infographic:

Sarah C- 062815
Sarah Compagnoni: “Great content marketing strategy starts well before anyone clicks a link.” @SarahCompagnoni tweet this

j moat
James Moat: “The power of employees generating & sharing content is a greatly undervalued strategy.” @digecomm tweet this

b clark
Brian Clark:
“Put yourself in the customers’ shoes to experience the content marketing journey from their perspective.” @brianclark tweet this

cleve g
Cleve Gibbon: “
Be clear on what you need to say & why it’s relevant to your audience at that point in their lives.” @cleveg tweet this

a handley 62815
Ann Handley:
“Your story is the thing that sets your content marketing apart. What’s your story? And how do you tell it?” @annhandley tweet this

j rohrs 62815
Jeffrey Rohrs:
“Scene stealing content marketing is sales activated, marketing promoted, optimized & reported.” @jkrohrs tweet this

a higgins 62815
Amy Higgings:
“Before publishing content, follow a launch plan checklist to make sure you haven’t left out steps.” @amywhiggins tweet this

k wincko 62815
Ken Wincko:
“Successful content needs to be the 3 C’s: Credible, Compelling, & Consistent.” @KenWincko tweet this

LOdden-619
Lee Odden:
“For content marketing success, make all content accountable & measurable to attract, engage, & convert.” @leeodden tweet this

TWheatland-619
Todd Wheatland:
“Link content marketing strategy to results by using a repeatable process & collecting the measurements that matter, in real-time.” @ToddWheatland tweet this

JFleischer-619
Julie Fleischer:
“Content marketing success starts by first determining what critical measurements drive spending decisions.” @jfly tweet this

jpulizzi - 0619
Joe Pulizzi:
“If you’re trying to measure the value of your content marketing, create a subscription program.” @joepulizzi tweet this

View the Full Infographic Feature

Create Blockbuster Content Marketing – CMWorld 2015 Infographic from Content Marketing Institute

Experience the entire thrill-a-minute eBook trilogy on-demand:

The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy

Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing

Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success

For more information on the speakers and their sessions, check out the Content Marketing World 2015 website.

See you at the movies!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2015. |
#CMWorld Infographic: 12 Marketing Box-Office Titans Share Tips For Creating Blockbuster Content Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post #CMWorld Infographic: 12 Marketing Box-Office Titans Share Tips For Creating Blockbuster Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

June 29th 2015 Online Marketing

Web Analytics Tips: Getting More from Google Analytics with Jeff Sauer #MNSummit

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Jess Sauer

Google Analytics is used by more than 10 million websites, but the majority of digital marketers and businesses are merely scratching the surface of what this powerful free tool can do. As Jeff Sauer says, “any report that is one click away in Google Analytics isn’t worth your time”.

In his fascinating and super actionable presentation at MNSearch Summit 2015, Jeff shared some great tips to help marketers get more value from Google Analytics.

 

Google Analytics Custom Channel Groupings Jeff Sauer MNSearch 2015

Customize Your Content and Channel Groupings

Out of the box, Google Analytics comes with a default set of traffic channels, including organic search, referral, direct, paid, social and email. While technically these are inclusive of the range of sources which may drive traffic to your site, there is opportunity to break up these broad swaths of visitors into customized segments that are specific to your business by creating customized channel groupings. Doing this can help you efficiently track the performance of your site for visitors that really matter, your customers and prospects.

A few custom channel groupings to consider are:
• Guest posted content referral traffic: tracks referral traffic from domains where you contribute content
• Branded organic search traffic: traffic from search engines to pages on your site which are well optimized for branded keywords (e.g. your about pages)
• Non-branded organic search traffic: traffic from search engines to pages which target non-branded terms (i.e. blog or resource pages)
• Logged in vs. logged out users
• Traffic from a specific target geographic area

Benchmark Against Your Competitors

Did you know that Google Analytics has a built in feature that allows you to benchmark and compare your performance against competitors in your industry category? If you said no, you’re not alone, as the majority of GA users don’t use this feature either. That’s a mistake, because understanding more about your competition is the key to winning in the digital marketplace.

While the data you can glean about your competitors isn’t nearly as comprehensive as what you can see for your own site (probably a good thing), it can provide the extra insights that can help you to more effectively compete in your industry space.

 

Google Analytics Demographics Report Jeff Sauer MNSearch Summit 2015

Enable Demographics Reporting

Curious to see how your site is performing for a particular age range or gender? Google Analytics can give you these answers in the demographics report if you have it enabled.

The demographics report is another un-utilized feature of Google Analytics, likely because it requires a bit of additional setup in order to start seeing data, but the steps aren’t complicated.

Once you have the demographics report enabled and are seeing some data, make sure you put it to good use. A few tips to get you started with demographics data are:
• Review the demographics of your converting visitors to better understand the makeup of your best potential customers.
• Identify which content is the most and least popular with your target demographics.
• Use demographic data in your display and remarketing campaigns.

Clean Up Your Data

Many people tend to treat data from Google Analytics as gospel, but the truth is that metrics that come from GA (or any web analytics platform) will always be approximate. There are many things that cause inaccuracies in Google Analytics reports, such as encrypted browsers, data sampling, blocked cookies or tracking implementation errors.

In recent years, another insidious “dirty data” factor has reared its head, known as referral spam. Caused by malicious spammers that exploit the open nature of the Google Analytics API to inject fake data into webmasters GA accounts, referral spam can cause inflated traffic metrics. It’s easy enough to spot by reviewing your referral traffic report and looking for visits sent from domains like trafficmonetize.com, webmonetizer.net or 100dollars-seo.com.

While there isn’t a perfect solution to the referral spam issue, at the moment the best course of action is to filter spam domains from your GA profile to prevent them from showing up in your traffic reports and skewing metrics.

Unfortunately it’s impossible to have a perfectly clean data set, but taking actions to clean up your data as much as possible can greatly increase its value, which ultimately leads to better business insights.

 

Periodic Table of Google Analytics Jeff Sauer MNSearch Summit 2015

Tell a Story with Your Data

We’re living in the midst of a veritable web analytics renaissance, with digital marketers having the ability to freely access a vast array of data that was inconceivable to marketers a few decades ago.

However, while data is plentiful, unfortunately meaningful analysis is still scarce, which means that many marketers and businesses are failing to effectively take advantage of web analytics to drive business decisions. Worse still, many have convinced themselves that they are data driven by creating mammoth dashboards stuffed with surface level metrics that lack any real analysis.

In order for data to be valuable, it needs to tell a story. “Traffic is up 50% over last month” doesn’t say much, but “referral traffic from the ebook campaign we launched last month helped to drive a 50% increase in total website traffic, 20% increase in soft leads and 10% increase in revenue compared to the previous month” tells a much more compelling story.

A good web analytics story not only summarizes the current situation, it leads to actionable next steps. Taking the example above, a logical and actionable next step would be to allocate additional budget to the content marketing team to concept and launch additional ebook campaigns.

That’s the kind of story that drives business decisions and leads to results, and that’s what all digital marketers should be striving for from their web analytics.

Looking for Jeff’s Presentation?

You can view Jeff’s entire #MNSummit presentation below:

Need help getting started or elevating your company’s analytics?
The team at TopRank Online Marketing offers a full range of web analytics services to help businesses large and small to get the most from their data.


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Web Analytics Tips: Getting More from Google Analytics with Jeff Sauer #MNSummit | http://www.toprankblog.com

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June 27th 2015 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Introduction From Instagram, DuckDuckGo Goes Past 10 Million, Pinterest Pins Partners

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Social For Customer Acquisition

How to Utilize Social Media for Customer Acquisition – One of the biggest reasons we all do social media marketing is to find new customers for our products or services. Maybe it is the biggest reason. It comes before social customer service, because without finding customers in the first place, we’d have no one to serve. This infographic from Salesforce Canada gives some insight into the process of acquiring customers via social media. Salesforce Canada

Facebook Makes Ads Manager, Power Editor Easier to Use – Facebook Thursday announced significant updates to its Ads Manager and Power Editor tools to create and manage ads on the social network. SocialTimes

Google Launches YouTube Newswire To Verify Eyewitness Videos – YouTube has started a video news service to showcase the most interesting clips recorded and posted by eyewitnesses at events unfolding around the world. In partnership with the social news group Storyful, YouTube Newswire will be “a curated feed of the most newsworthy eyewitness videos of the day, which have been verified by Storyful’s team of editors,” a blog post said. cnet

Facebook Tests Auto-Filling Marketing Forms With People’s Profile Info – A lot of marketers build their businesses by getting people to sign up for things like email newsletters. It’s a way to get people’s contact information so that the marketer can keep in contact with them and try to make them a customer. Now Facebook’s going to make it easier for marketers to collect that contact information. Ad Age

Introducing Instagram’s All-New Search and Explore – This week Instagram announced two major updates to Instagram: the all-new Explore page, with trending Tags and Places, and more powerful search that makes it easier to find the people, places, and tags you’re looking for. Get more details on the Instagram blog. Instagram

Facebook Rolls Out Author Tags: A New Way to Grow Your Following – Facebook has introduced a way for publishers to grow their audience with a new feature called Author Tags. When implemented on a website, Author Tags allow people to easily follow the author of a piece of content they found on Facebook. Facebook

Twitter To Let Users Follow Live Events, Not Just People – Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) will start curating tweets on live events, the microblogging service said, as it plans major changes to make its real-time news feed more user friendly. Reuters

Facebook Unveils Vision For Immersive Mobile Ads – The social network is showing mockups of interactive mobile ad formats at Cannes Lion advertising festival in France. Marketing Land

Pinterest Streamlines & Simplifies Its Search Interface – New search enhancements from Pinterest make finding the right type of information quicker and more accurate thanks to the first ever inclusion of spellcheck. Marketing Land

Twitter Testing New Ways To Make It Easier To Discover Products and Places – Last week Twitter is beginning to test two ways to make it easier for you to discover rich and relevant content about products and places on Twitter. Twitter

DuckDuckGo Surpasses 10 Million Daily Queries – DuckDuckGo, the privacy focused search engine, hits a major milestone – reaching 10 million daily queries. Search Engine Journal

Instagram Ads to Get More Focused with Facebook Targeting Options – Get ready, your Instagram advertising options are about to get a lot more specific. Ahead of the Cannes Lions Festival this week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions Carolyn Everson has said that Facebook’s targeting data will soon be available for use on Instagram.  Social Media Today

Pinterest Announces Marketing Developer Partners for Ads – Pinterest announced that 4C, Adaptly, Ampush, Brand Networks, HYFN, Kinetic Social, SocialCode and SocialFlow are the first Marketing Developer Partners using the company’s ads API. SocialTimes

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: Salesforce Canada


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Online Marketing News: Introduction From Instagram, DuckDuckGo Goes Past 10 Million, Pinterest Pins Partners | http://www.toprankblog.com

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June 26th 2015 Online Marketing

Joe Pulizzi (The Godfather) Discusses the Content Marketing Revolution #CMWorld

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Joe-Pulizzi---interview-header-

Without anyone accusing me of exaggerating, I can safely say that Joe Pulizzi is a bona fide content marketing visionary. Joe started using the term “content marketing” in 2001, long before the rest of the industry caught on to its potential. In the past decade and a half, Joe has firmly established his thought leadership in the field, earning the nickname “The Godfather of Content Marketing.”

In 2007, Joe founded the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which has grown into a vital resource for thousands of marketers worldwide. In addition to building a massive hub of marketing resources, classes, and training programs, CMI produces Content Marketing World, the world’s largest content marketing event.

I recently sat down with Joe for a sneak preview of his keynote address at the 2015 Content Marketing World. Read on for Joe’s thoughts on how content marketing is evolving, the strategies that led to CMI’s success, and how to become an “octopus of content love.”

If you focus on a subscriber approach to audience development, you can go deeper with your content and emphasize value.

Without giving too much away from your keynote, what are 3 exciting evolutions for content marketing that you see on the horizon?

  1. I’m really interested in the merger and acquisition scene. It’s going to hit people like a big surprise, especially in B2B. Particularly in tech, companies will see content factories already built and those will be attractive acquisitions when considering the time it takes to build.
  1. Only 30% of marketers have subscription growth as a key metric. It speaks to where we are with content marketing. The notion that we need to build content for the buyer’s journey and different stages has been overblown. It’s easier to simplify that idea and just become an ongoing guide and resource and we touch the customer with value – every day, every week. They’re going to create their own buyer’s journey anyways. If you focus on a subscriber approach to audience development, you can go deeper with your content and emphasize value. Instead of focusing on 57 segments and 5 stages, create an incredible experience for your customers and you’ll have an amazing outcome. Simplify and create more value.
  1. I’m excited about the field of journalism again. Marketers are bringing in professional journalists that have a nose for stories. The media business model is broken, but media itself is flourishing. There’s never been lower barriers to entry and easier ways for customers to access it. The more journalists in marketing, the better. If they want to tell great stories and have funding to do so, the opportunity is there.

Digital publishing has become more popular because we can, and not for the right reasons.

Based on your recent report at CMI, it appears that B2B and B2C marketers alike are continuing to struggle with measurement of content marketing activities. What do you believe are the biggest barriers to either collecting the data or focusing on the right metrics?

The clear majority of marketers have no documented content marketing strategy. If we can start with documenting the why, the business goal and audience, then you can begin to develop an action and execution plan that includes measurement. Digital publishing has become more popular because we can, and not for the right reasons.

People implementing content marketing do so because they’re told to, without understanding why. Content marketers need to ask the right questions relevant to achieving business goals.

We want to be an octopus of content love to provide them with options.

What are the biggest challenges that your own company faces when it comes to content creation, promotion and measurement?

Choosing the right activities – there are so many things we could do. Our key metric to everything is based on subscribers. I’m focused on creating a unique story that subscribers can’t get anywhere else. I’m focused on looking at subscribers and how we can improve.

Those people that engage with at least 3 different types of content, they are way more likely to attend CMI or buy something from us. We want to be an octopus of content love to provide them with options. The more we can do that the more positive results we’ll see.

Brands with huge budgets are struggling because they are so campaign focused.

What is the single most important thing you’ve learned in your journey from publishing to becoming the “Godfather of Content Marketing”?

If you build a loyal audience over time, you can sell them whatever you want. Focus on a content niche relevant to an area of business that you’re focused on, and develop an audience. As you build that audience, you can figure out what best to sell to your community.

Brands with huge budgets are struggling because they are so campaign focused.

There’s convergence – media companies are becoming product and product companies are becoming media companies. Soon you won’t be able to tell the difference.

What Content Marketing mix is CMI currently experiencing the most success with?

The podcast has been a pleasant surprise with a consistent flow of sponsorship that’s growing. In person events that I and Robert Rose speak at. The masterclass series of small workshops in different cities across the U.S. have been successful for driving registrations to the CMWorld event.

We have one person in charge of Internal content curation and repurposing that drives subscribers.

Do you believe that email marketing is dead or still very much alive? Why?

Not at all. It’s the most important thing we do. It’s harder to cut through the clutter but if you do, you get the lion’s share of attention.

Ready to Up Your Content Marketing Game?

Be sure to reserve your space at Content Marketing World for thought-provoking presentations from Joe and over 200 other luminaries in the content marketing industry.

Get a preview of Content Marketing World’s blockbuster lineup with Measuring Your Content Marketing Box Office Success, featuring advice from industry thought leaders Michael Brenner, Julie Fleischer, and of course, Joe Pulizzi.

Access All Three eBooks On-Demand

CMWorld 2015 eBooks

If you missed the premiere of any one of the eBooks in our triple feature, you are in luck! You can access all three of them anytime, anywhere. Select the links below, grab some Junior Mints and dig in.

The Big Picture of Content Marketing Strategy

Making Content Marketing the Star of Your Marketing

Measuring Content Marketing Box Office Success


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Joe Pulizzi (The Godfather) Discusses the Content Marketing Revolution #CMWorld | http://www.toprankblog.com

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June 24th 2015 Online Marketing