Get Ready to See Even More Ads on Facebook as Company Revenue Slows Down for 2017

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Facebook is running out of places to put ads. As a result, the world’s leading social networking service is expecting a slowdown in revenue for 2017. Despite having over 2 billion active users last month, the social media platform is reportedly planning to experiment with new ad spaces to increase its bottom line.

Facebook has already been placing ads in a number of areas, including its News Feed, Instagram, and even its videos. Earlier this year, the website started offering advertisers a way to run ads via video content. Users can now expect videos uploaded on Facebook to be interrupted by ads similar to YouTube’s advertising methods.

Unlike YouTube, video ads on Facebook run in the middle of a piece of content instead of at the start. Apparently, users are less likely to stop watching the video if an ad plays in the middle. While if the traditional way of advertising on video is applied, users can easily close the video if presented with an ad on the onset.

Over the past five years, News Feed has been Facebook’s primary revenue source, allowing all types of businesses across the globe to purchase ad space. But now it seems that the areas to place ads on News Feed without sacrificing user experience have been maxed out according to reports.

The social media giant is attempting to counter this problem by focusing on ways to sell advertising space on Instagram Stories, Messenger, and even Marketplace — its Craigslist-style platform that allows people to buy and sell used goods.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced that it would start selling advertising space on Messenger after testing the service in Australia and Thailand. The company is planning to start off with a small percentage of affected users.

Meanwhile, marketing firms are preparing to capitalize on the new ad space on Facebook Messenger. Interested companies will be able to purchase ads from Facebook’s ad manager to target any demographic in the website’s massive user base.

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July 19th 2017 Facebook, Social Media

CMWorld Interview: Citrix’s Justin Levy Takes a Dive into Top Social Media Opportunities

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The lines between long-form content and social media marketing are becoming blurrier each day. Social networks now allow for native video viewing, live video and even some long-form content. They have essentially become their own content platforms competing with blogs and brand websites.

Facebook alone is on pace to hit approximately 2 billion users this year and other social networks are growing at a rapid pace as well.

To better understand the role that social media marketing plays in today’s digital world, I decided to pick the brain of one of today’s top social media leaders, Justin Levy. Justin is the Director of Social Marketing at Citrix and in addition to being an incredibly talented marketer, he’s very open to sharing what he knows to help other marketers learn and grow.

Justin is part of the star-studded cast that will be presenting at Content Marketing World in September and provided great insights into his favorite parts of his role at Citrix, top opportunities for marketers today and a preview into what attendees will learn from his session at Content Marketing World.

What does your role as Director of Social Marketing at Citrix entail?

I oversee global social media at Citrix. That includes setting the strategy for our community management across the company’s corporate and core channels (internationally), management of paid social spend, social governance across the company, setting social media policy and overseeing the governance over all other accounts.

I am a member of the corporate communications leadership team. That means that me and my team are responsible for all social aspects of our communications motions.

Additionally, my team is responsible for end-to-end management of the corporate blog and employee social advocacy. That means we are reviewing every blog post and working with internal authors to analyze post performance.

What do you like best about your role at Citrix?

When I think about it, there are two major areas of my role at Citrix that I thoroughly enjoy:

Exposing People to the Power of Social Media

I particularly enjoy developing relationships with internal team members and exposing them to  the true power of social media. Social media is still so basic for so many people. The reality is that so many people are still operating at a 101 level but may not even realize it. I try to help others see that the social media universe is broader than simply “being on Twitter”.


To be able to change someone’s perspective about social media is pretty cool. @justinlevy
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Exploring Diversity & Inclusion

Everything at Citrix surrounding diversity and inclusion is led by our executive leadership team, including our CEO and Chief People Officer. They feel very strongly about talking about diversity and inclusion and what we’re doing here at Citrix along with our corporate citizenship in the communities where we have a presence.

We have a large customer conference every year called Citrix Synergy and have always been able to integrate planning for this conference with our corporate citizenship team. This year though, we came up with a plan to give back to the Heart of Florida United Way (Orlando).

United Way wasn’t sure how much they would receive but the max we had communicated was that they would receive $30,000 for the organization. Their Chief Marketing Officer decided to come to the conference and receive the check. We were actually able to raise over $52,000 for their organization and you could tell that their team was touched by the effort.

When you can impact someone like that in your job, especially one that is social, it’s a great feeling.

How have the other positions you’ve held in your career impacted how you approach digital marketing today? 

I have always had a viewpoint.

Before coming to Citrix I ran an early social media agency with Chris Brogan right around when he came out with his NYT Bestseller, Trust Agents.


Working with @chrisbrogan is what really gave me some of my social media chops. @justinlevy
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What do you think is one opportunity that many marketers are not taking advantage of today?

I have always had this feeling that people in a social media positions should align with other team members in legal, security, IT and PR.
Too often, teams come in and think that they are going to run around and create images and do whatever they’re going to do (and ask for forgiveness later). That approach can often get them in a lot of trouble, and put the company at risk.
One of the first things I did when I started at Citrix was to review the social governance policy and speak to the legal team so that I could start to understand what was considered right or wrong for our brand. One of the very early conversations became a running joke that “I’ll teach them social media and they’ll teach me legal”. I also try to ensure that I provide them updates from legal decisions that are made around social media because I don’t expect them to be on the hunt for social changes. This helps us determine as a team if we are protected or need to make changes.

In addition to working with the legal team, I also make sure to align with our securities application team. That way we can keep them updated on what is going on from a security perspective. The reason being that social media and email are often the places where security breaches happen which can expose the company to unnecessary risk.

By taking these steps when I first started, these relationships have blossomed and provided my team and I with some air-cover.

What is the biggest social media marketing mistake that you see many marketers making today? How can it be fixed?

One of the things I see social media marketing teams do at times and I don’t think aligns with their legal teams on is, using GIFs that they just find online.

We stay away from them because there is potential copyright infringement with GIFs, memes and even photography.

I am not willing to expose our international brand to legal issues over a photo.

What are some tips for marketers to become more savvy in utilizing social media as a means to connect with industry influencers? What shouldn’t they do?

Many of the people I choose to work with (like the team at TopRank Marketing) are people that I have an existing relationship with. I find that these people do a great job of reaching out for my insights on topics that they know I am knowledgeable about. I also enjoy working with teams that help me edit where needed, promote the content we created together and make it easy to share.

On the flipside, when someone tags me (and 500 other marketers) in a Facebook post or spams my social media, I don’t respond because it’s not genuine.

Do you have any advice for other marketers who are making the transition from content creation to a marketing leadership role like yours?

The most important piece is to make sure that you are aligned. You can get in the weeds when it’s the right time, but you have to consider the broader strategy. Does it integrate with other teams and company leadership?


You have to move from looking at marketing tactically to looking at it strategically. @justinlevy
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If you work on the strategy from that vantage point then you will have alignment that will help determine what you should work on, and how you can empower other members of your team.

With our program, we take the time to custom write the type of tweets and types of updates we would like them to share out. We take the time to provide them with content.

You also have to realize that things can change quickly internally and externally. So while you should have a content calendar to guide you, there are times when higher priority items come in and everything that you had planned changes.

In your presentation at Content Marketing World you’ll be sharing the insights into how your team at Citrix overhauled your Wikipedia presence. Without giving it all away, what are 3 things attendees will learn from your session?

First of all, you need to know what you’re working with. That requires completing an audit of your presence across Wikipedia. To be honest, when we started we didn’t know what ours looked like.

Next, you need to prioritize updating your main company page. Everything else comes secondary to that.

Wikipedia is an entirely different language. You have to know how to work technically within the site and with their editors to develop consistency.

Make sure that you have someone whether they are on your team or an outside resource, that can work within Wikipedia’s guidelines.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2017?

Joe Pulizzi always gives a fantastic overview at the start of the event. He typically shares an inspiring look at the future based on the most recent research conducted by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

Three of my other favorite speakers are Scott Stratten, Mitch Joel and Ann Handley. Each one of them is dynamic and fantastic in their own way. Seeing them speak is a very special experience, because they impart deep knowledge on the topics they’re speaking on because that is what they’re passionate about.

Want More?

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us Justin!

If you’d like to learn more from Justin and 14 of his fellow Content Marketing World speakers, check out the final eBook in our series, In-Flight Content Guide: Making the Most of Your Content Journey.


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July 10th 2017 Online Marketing, Social Media

5 Tips to Make Advertising on Facebook More Effective

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These days, most people do their shopping online, and one of the best ways to reach them is through Facebook. In fact, around 96% of social media marketers worldwide believe Facebook is the best option when it comes to online marketing. They also consider the platform to be the most productive in terms of return on investment (ROI). This might explain why 65 million businesses have Pages on the social media site.

Facebook has been providing entrepreneurs with tremendous advertising opportunities, reaching over 22 billion ad clicks per year. The site boasts the largest user base of any social media platform on the internet, recently surpassing the two billion active users mark. Pew research shows that 75% of male internet users and 83% of female internet users are on Facebook, making it easy for advertisers to target almost any demographic.

As an advertiser, Facebook allows you to take part in a customer’s online experience through sharing content, images, and videos. It’s about sharing your company’s voice to the world. By regularly posting fresh content and paying to have it reach your specific audience, the platform allows you to create strong personal connections with your prospective customers.

Thinking about running an ad campaign on Facebook? Here are five tips for making the most of your Facebook advertising:

1. Reach the Right AudienceImage result for demographic

Targeting your audience is the most important element of your Facebook ad campaign, ensuring that your brand reaches the right demographic. Within your Business Manager page, you can target your audience based on set parameters. It enables you to tap into audiences that are interested in your niche.

Define your demographic by choosing the location, age, gender, and language. Then, manipulate Demographic Constraints through detailed targeting options such as behavior, interests, and other categories.

Let’s say you are selling beauty products. You should target people interested in beauty, fashion, health, and industries that use cosmetics such as wedding and entertainment. You may also want to create a Saved Audience using parameters specific to your niche to make it easier to draw the right users to your content.

2. Make Your Images Pop

The first thing people will notice about your post is the image. Make sure that it stands out over pictures of adorable babies or someone’s cute pet. Focus on the main elements of your business—the product, people, and environment.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a professional photographer. You can shoot quality images using a high-resolution camera or smartphone in a well-lit place. Take advantage of filters to make them look professional.

3. Write an Enticing CaptionImage result for call to action

After capturing a user’s attention with an image, they would most likely scroll to the caption. Make sure that the personality of your business shines through your words. The goal of writing ad copy is to convert a reader into a paying customer.

Be funny, adventurous, and authentic. Keep the caption short and stick to the important pieces of information. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and appeal to them emotionally. Don’t forget to add a call-to-action: “Visit our shop,” “Call for a free quote,” etc.

4. Set Up a Landing Page

To maximize your Facebook advertising efforts, push visitors to a landing page. Landing pages generate leads for businesses by enticing interested users to fill out a form or call a business. Aside from increasing conversions, they can also track user behavior which helps you to determine which campaigns are performing the best.

5. Establish Bidding & Budget

To beat your competitors, don’t just focus on creating attractive ad designs and powerful copy. You also have to optimize your ad bidding. A bid refers to the amount you are willing to spend on a specific action. Popular types of bids include cost per click or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).

Creating a new ad campaign is like joining a huge, worldwide auction for real estate. “Real estate” in this case, refers to the space Facebook provides for advertisement. Make sure to optimize for conversions, link clicks, daily unique reach, post engagement, leads, and impressions.

Establishing an identity for your business on social media can increase customer advocacy and retention. On Facebook, consumers share valuable information and development feedback which you can use to make your brand more influential. Following the simple tips listed above will help you to reap benefits from your advertising efforts on Facebook.

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July 5th 2017 Social Media

How Social Listening Can Strengthen Your Online Marketing Strategy

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Businesses now have all of the tools necessary to find out how people feel about their branding efforts. Social listening is a marketing strategy that allows companies to read and respond to customer feedback on social media. This gives them the opportunity to fine-tune their marketing efforts to help them achieve their goals.

Social listening is really more about understanding and responding to the comments you’re getting from your target market on social media. Integrating social listening into your current marketing efforts can help you craft the perfect strategy based on the needs of the people you want to attract.

But how do you use social listening to strengthen your online marketing presence? 

Have a Conversation With Your CustomersFeedback, Confirming, Board, Blackboard

Think of social listening as a conversation with your customers that is happening online. As they provide you with feedback, you reward them with a response that assures them that their concerns are being addressed.

It’s important that you become more aware of feedback cues and respond to them appropriately. Failing to provide customers with an actionable response will earn you a bad reputation and diminish customer satisfaction.

Better Customer Service

Social listening can be a very effective tool to use for improving your current customer service strategy. Using social media as a supplementary customer support channel makes your brand come across as more approachable to potential and existing customers.

Customers no longer have to wait on hold in order to get a customer service representative when they can easily reach out to you via social media. Just remember to be especially responsive to complaints to avoid damaging your online credibility.

Use Social Listening Tools

Brands who argue that social listening is an exhausting marketing technique are those who do not know how to use online tools to their advantage. There are many social listening tools available that can help you efficiently manage feedback and respond to comments all in one screen. These intuitive tools make social listening less tedious and more focused.

Finding the right social listening tool depends on your budget and needs. Below are a few programs you can choose from to improve your current online marketing strategy:

1. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo allows you to closely monitor online engagement through their Content Alert feature. Similar to Google Alerts, you can set it to notify you of any trends based on specific keywords, domains, and authors.

2. HooteSuite

More popularly known as a scheduling tool, Hootsuite also has a feature that lets you manage and respond to complaints more efficiently. This can be a huge time-saver and is ideal to those who are new to online marketing.

3. FollowerWonk

FollowerWonk is a social listening tool designed for Twitter. This tool gives you access to insights about your competitor’s followers, which you can use to improve your strategy.

Social listening is a marketing technique companies should not overlook. It is critical for your marketing campaign to be tailored to your audience in order for you to achieve the results you want. Use the internet in general and social media, in particular, to make your brand more approachable to customers.

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Facebook Reaches a New Milestone — Two Billion Users!

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Facebook has surpassed the two billion-user milestone, doubling its number of monthly active users in five years. The social media giant reached one billion monthly active users in October 2012, a few months after the company went public.

Facebook’s new milestone makes its user base larger than the population of any single country. In fact, its users represent more than a quarter of the world’s 7.5 billion people.

“As of this morning, the Facebook community is now officially 2 billion people!” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.

This new milestone marks Facebook’s growth from a college curiosity, which Zuckerberg started in 2004 in his dorm room, to the world’s largest social media network. In March, the Menlo Park-based company’s quarterly financial results reported that it had reached 1.94 billion monthly active users, a growth of 17 percent from a year earlier.

Each day, more than 800 million people “Like” something on the site. To celebrate the occasion, Facebook will start rolling out new features over the coming days that users will gain access to.

One of these features is Good Adds Up, a personalized video, featuring “inspiring stories of people using Facebook to bring communities together.” Another is Celebrating The Good People Do. “After someone reacts to a friend’s post with Love, wishes someone happy birthday or creates a group, they will see a message in News Feed thanking them,” says the site.

While Facebook has been making it a mission to get people to join more groups and communities on the site, Zuckerberg intends to raise that figure to a billion. According to him, 100 million users are currently part of “meaningful communities.”

Facebook defines an active user as a registered user who has logged in and visited Facebook through its website or mobile application, or used its Messenger program in the past 30 days. It does not, however, include users of the Instagram or WhatsApp networks but not Facebook. According to an estimate from last year, duplicate accounts may have represented some six percent of its worldwide user base.

Facebook has a bigger user population than other similar companies combined. In April, Twitter reported its monthly active users at 328 million. Snapchat estimated it had 166 million daily users by the end of the first quarter. WeChat, a service widely used in China, said in May that it had 938 million monthly active users in the first quarter.

Facebook has gained popularity outside the United States, Canada, and Europe. Those regions accounted for 38 percent of users three years ago, compared with about 30 percent in the first quarter of this year.

The company has rolled out optimized versions of its mobile applications, which use fewer data to increase usage rates in developing nations. It has also been developing solar-powered drones that aim to extend internet connectivity around the planet.

Due to the appeal of its massive user base, the social media site has been able to increase its number of advertisers annually, offering highly targeted marketing features based on data collected from its users. Facebook now claims to have over five million advertisers using its platform since the end of the last quarter.

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June 30th 2017 Facebook, Social Media

You Know Influencers: 5 Tips to Unlock Powerful Employee Advocacy

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[Editor’s Note: I am pleased to introduce you to Will Peterson, another new contributor on TopRankBlog.com. Will is an Account Manager that services many of our B2B Enterprise clients. Welcome Will!]

Don’t look now, but you’re surrounded by influencers. You may not realize it, and they may not realize it themselves, but you and everyone you work with carry an immense amount of potential influence. Read on to discover how to uncover a powerful hidden force that can add significant value to everything from your company’s social media presence all the way down to its bottom line.


Everyone is influential about something. @leeodden
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Are you in a book club? Do you share recipes with friends? Are you an avid reader and contributor of motorcycle racing forums? Anytime you’re discussing your interests with someone else, be it online or in person, you are exerting your influence on that discussion. The same goes for your employees, team members, and coworkers. Without going too much into the weeds about how to exactly define an influencer, we can safely say that your co-workers, team members, and employees each have their own sphere of influence. A look at some recent research shows that 88% of employees are personally active on at least one social media site. That means your people have people, and they are talking to them, tweeting at them, and sharing with them. So how do you encourage all that potential social influence to work for your team?

Influence the Influencers

Your employees or fellow employees are also consumers, and consumers in this day and age know how to sniff out a salesy marketing pitch. That being said, consumers trust other consumers, and according to multiple studies on trust, we know employees are seen as more credible than executives. Employee advocacy is a powerful marketing tool and encouraging your employees to speak as influencers about your company is a wonderful way to increase brand engagement. Follow these steps to capitalize on that trust and help your employees tap into their influencer power.

#1. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Remind your employees that their positive comments about your company on social media make life better for everyone. With an improved online profile, your company will have an easier time recruiting top talent, earning top clients, and keeping top customers. Once your team realizes that they are only helping themselves, they will be more motivated to share!

One benefit of employees sharing their high opinions of our company has been TopRank Marketing being named one of the Top 100 Places to Work in Minnesota two years running. This has helped tremendously with hiring great people!

#2. All Social is Good Social

Not everyone has social media accounts on every channel. I barely touched my twitter account until I joined the team at TopRank Marketing. Now I regularly post about clients, company mentions in the news, and other marketing-related topics there and on my LinkedIn page as well. I don’t do much on Facebook however, because I’d rather keep it more personal and less professional. Don’t force your employees to use one channel over the other. If they’d rather sing your praises on Google Plus than Pinterest, encourage them to do so!

#3. The Right Tool for the Right Job

My dad always says you can do anything if you have the right tool for the right job. Make your employees lives easier and introduce them to Buffer, Hootsuite, or some other social media management tool. These can be incredible time savers and will increase the likelihood of your influencers getting the word out there more regularly. In just a few minutes each week, they can appear to be full-time social media mavens.

#4. Prevent Writers’ Block Before It Strikes

Some employees may fret that they “just wouldn’t know what to say” about their company. Not to fear, the Weekly Social Messaging Email is here! Send one email per week with some content ideas for your team to share. This could be anything from recent mentions in the news, client updates, relevant news stories for your industry, or even personal victories for your team members. The point is to get them comfortable with the process and help them build their voice on social channels so their spheres of influence hear it more often.

#5. To the Victors Go the Spoils

Track engagement of your company’s social mentions and let the team know who the biggest sharers (aka influencers) have been for the past week. Using a tool like Hootsuite Amplify, LinkedIn Elevate, or Dynamic Signal can create ease of use and make tracking a snap. Make it a challenge they want to win! Offer an extra drink at the company happy hour or a piece of company swag for the top dog each week! This kind of gamification is a great way to encourage participation among employees.

Practice Makes Perfect

Now that you know the benefits of tapping into the marketing influencers around you at work, and some of the ways to encourage them to get active on social media, get out there and make it happen. Your employees will feel good about this easy way to contribute to the success of their company.

What else can you do to influence your influencers?

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.


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June 29th 2017 Online Marketing, Social Media

3 Important Ways Social Media Can Boost Your SEO

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Today, there’s little doubt among marketers that SEO and social media are two must-have components of any effective digital marketing strategy. After all, SEO is arguably the founding-father-tactic of digital marketing, and social media is the place on the web where our audiences gather, share and engage every day.

But over the years, there’s been some confusion on how these two tactics work together to achieve marketing results—and understandably so. Back in 2010, Google told Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan that links shared on Facebook and Twitter were used as a ranking signal. Then in 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts released a video stating Facebook and Twitter pages were “currently” treated like any other web page for search—i.e. social media was no longer a direct ranking factor.

However, regardless of whether social signals are used as a ranking factor—when done right—social media can most definitely enhance your SEO efforts. How? Below I share three reasons why, as well as some tips to make your social content more SEO friendly.

#1 – Your social media efforts can lead to quality backlinks.

While ranking science on backlinks has evolved over the years, the number of quality backlinks a website has is still an important ranking factor for search engines. As a result, link building or link earning is still a widely-used tactic among marketers—and your social media pages can be the perfect staging ground for enticing links.

The logic here is pretty simple. Social media marketing is all about sharing your best of the best content, and fostering engagement around that content. The more engaging your content, the more people will share, and the more opportunities people will have to find and link to your content.

#2 – Social media increases the visibility of your content—which is ultimately the goal of SEO.

Social media pages give your website and blog content another place to live and encourage discussion. And while your pages can be so much more than a promotional platform, one of the greatest social media benefits is the potential reach your content could get.

Of course, I asked my TopRank Marketing comrade Steve Slater, Digital Advertising & SEO Manager, to weigh in here, too. Here’s what he had to say.

“Whether or not social shares and metrics have an impact on ranking without them you are 100% at the mercy of Google organic,” he said. “Without social or paid or any promotional efforts, you are basically hitting publish and hoping for the best. You’re hoping that your content will just ‘go viral and take off.’ So, I think the question is not really, do social signals impact rankings? But rather, is anyone going to see this if I don’t promote it?”

#3 – Social media helps build brand awareness—which can carry over to users’ search queries.

Your social media pages add another digital space for your target audience to find you and engage with you, allowing you to build up your audience and your brand. Of course, when this happens people will more easily recognize you in search and be more inclined to click. In addition, that brand awareness you’ve built on social could mean more branded organic search traffic coming to your site or your other social pages (since those often rank in branded searches, too).

Quick Tips to Intertwine Social & SEO

While social media can add a nice little boost to your SEO efforts, the reverse—of course—is also true. Here are a couple quick tips for marrying social content and SEO.

  • Optimize your posts and profiles. Social media platforms are search engines. So, make sure craft your posts with both users and SEO in mind. In addition, optimize your social profiles with the same logic.
  • Leverage hashtags in the right way. Especially when it comes to Twitter and Instagram, hashtags are how people find the content they’re looking for; hashtags are their search queries. Research hashtag best practices for each platform to understand if and how to use them. In addition, make sure you understand what hashtags actually mean, so you can use them in the appropriate way for each platform. Use the native search box within social platforms, as well as tools such as Hashtagify.me or Hashtags.org.
  • Draft optimized social messages when you’re crafting new content. Any content you’re creating for your website or blog should have an SEO component. As you’re creating this content, create several optimized social posts to go along with it. This will help you create relevant messages that can be found in native searches.
  • Use mentioning and tagging to build more relevance—and signal influencers. Mentioning and tagging other pages and users in your content is one of the best ways to amplify your posts. Not only do those you tag and mention get notified when you do so, but they’ll be more compelled to engage on your post or share your post with their audience. And as mentioned above, the more shares and engagement, the better the reach and the more potential for driving quality traffic and backlinks.

Be the Best Answer for Your Audience

At TopRank Marketing, we practice what our CEO Lee Odden likes to call “The Best Answer Strategy.” For marketers, this means crafting an integrated marketing strategy that helps you be the best answer for your audience—whenever and wherever your audience is searching. And a component of that strategy is certainly leveraging social media marketing and SEO individually, and together.

For more best answer tips, continue to peruse the TopRank Marketing blog, and feel free to share your thoughts or questions in the comments of any post.


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June 28th 2017 SEO, Social Media

Instagram’s New ‘Favorites’ Feature Aims to Eliminate the Need for ‘Finstagram’

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Instagram had been testing a new feature with which users can now create a list of friends. Called Favorites, users can now share posts with a smaller group of people rather than all of their followers. The feature is an upgrade to old social network friend lists.

Users had been trying to make a more private Instagram version for themselves. They would post pictures publicly and delete them after being liked by their friends, or create a separate account known as a “Finstagram.” Usually set up by teens, these secret accounts are used to share their unedited photos with a select group of people. These accounts usually have a high following, and as a result, they either tend to use it more than their Instagram account or quit using Instagram entirely due to social pressure.

Robby Stein, Instagram’s product lead, recognizes that people are trying to “hack” Instagram to create smaller audiences. “The best version of Instagram is one where you feel closer to the people you are connected to,” he says.

The new Favorites feature could have a significant impact on the way people are currently using the platform. It would reshape the social dynamics of Instagram and create a sense of intimacy among followers.

If a user marks a friend as one of their favorites, it will likely encourage their friend to follow and like their posts. Getting an increased number of likes will, in turn, encourage users to share more pictures to their favorites on the platform. Their favorites are more likely to mark the user as their own favorite, which goes on to increase more private groups.

This feature works for both regular pictures and Instagram Story posts, where users will see new options to share them to their favorites.Users concerned with their privacy would have greater control over who gets to see their pictures. Favorites won’t be notified if a user adds or remove them to their personal list. The new feature would allow users to create a group of selected friends who can view certain posts and there would be no option for someone to request to be on that list.

Every profile will get a new Favorites tab denoted by a star. Posts that are shared only with Favorites will appear in this tab so that users can keep track of which posts are private. If someone is on the user’s Favorite list, they would be able to view the user’s favorite post on the Favorite tab. Pictures shared with them will be denoted by a green Favorites badge at the top of posts.

If a user removes someone from their list, they won’t be able to access the user’s private photos anymore, even those which were shared while they were on the list. If they visit the Favorites tab, it will be empty.

This feature had reportedly been tested over a “small percentage” of users for over a year before a full rollout in the coming months. It’s not clear when the feature would be implemented, but nearly every portion of the app will be tweaked to accommodate it. Robby Stein, Instagram’s product lead, added that they “really want to get this right.”

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June 28th 2017 Social Media

Ultimate guide to small business SEO

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SEO isn’t just for large companies. As a small business or local business, there is actually a lot you can do to achieve local goals yourself. Many of these things relate to focus. In this ultimate guide for local and small business SEO, we’ll tell you about finding your niche, optimizing pages and social media efforts.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d be writing a bit more about local and small businesses. Considering that local SEO is basically the optimization process for the local results in search engines, we can say that local SEO is often closely related to small business SEO. This is why we decided to discuss both in this article.

In this article, you’ll find a variety of related topics:

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As long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, we’re not done with this subject. But in the meantime, we’d like to present you our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your shop’s niche

Especially for local or small businesses, determining your niche is very important. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your products or brand unique, therefore improving your odds to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can locally compete with large national brands in spite of their multi-million advertisement budgets.

Find out who your customers are and what words they use to describe your product, because people will use the same terms to find your website. Using these terms, often made into long-tail keywords, can really help you optimize your local business SEO. Make your keywords as specific as possible.  Once you’ve done all this, don’t forget to monitor your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have mentioned this over and over: branding is very important for SEO. Branding deals with things like your logo and your tagline. How do they represent your company without further context? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition.

Read on: ‘Low budget branding tips for small businesses’ »

A tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk about this some more, further down this guide.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Many small business owners put products and contact details on their website and that’s basically it. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You can also discuss market developments or local events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.

When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of that content to rank. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and/or as input for social media. But it will probably not get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s fine. Manage your expectations.

Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are focusing on. It really doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or that make people talk about your business in a positive way.

Read more: ‘Improve your small business SEO today’ »

Share your content on social media

Did you know you can actually sell your products on social media itself? While that’s very cool, in most cases social media are used for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish a certain image and to get the right traffic to your company website. Social media, used in the right way, can contribute to small business SEO.

I tend to compare social media to a marketplace where all the stand owners know each other and customers browse among the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go to for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should really check the fruit over there”. This is what real life social media are like. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.

Use Social Media to increase your sales

Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO

There are many things that influence your local rankings, but there is one very obvious one: your address details (NAP). Make sure to add these in the right formatting (in code), using schema.org details. You can use our Local SEO plugin for that. Furthermore, ask your web developer to dig into AMP, like Joost mentions in this Ask Yoast about AMP for small businesses. Besides that, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.

Google My Business

Make sure you use the exact same NAP details on both your website and your Google My Business listing. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details for instance in your footer and of course, on your contact page. Google My Business really is your friend if you want to rank in your specific geographical area, so get your details right!

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Adding ratings and reviews

Google My Business, like Facebook, allows others to leave a review of your company. If your company has a good rating, people will be more inclined to click to your website from any of these two websites. Be sure to monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for some reason, react by solving your customer’s problem. Ask them to change their review afterwards. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s not that hard to get involved in these reviews and ratings. Find more information on that in the article below.

Keep reading: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Links from related small businesses

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed by a sufficient amount of links from local directories like:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  3. YP.com
  4. ReferLocal.com
  5. Yahoo
  6. Bestoftheweb
  7. etc.

You should be mentioned on these pages, for the obvious reason that this means your website is linked. If you manage to get some links from the related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that the last category of links has to be from websites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website. 

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If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should definitively also ask these businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link. If your business is linked from a website that is in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When speaking about local rankings, we also have to mention near me searches. These are searches and search suggestions that include words like “near me”, “closest”, “open” and “nearby”. Optimizing for these searches is similar to optimizing for local, but applies for global brands as well (“buy legos near me”). So you’ll have to think a bit outside of your usual box – there’s probably more to optimize for. Google really focuses on search terms like these, as you can read here:

Is that a Possum near me?

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are many things you can do as a small business to improve your site and rank better. You should start by focusing on your niche and emphasizing your uniqueness. Think about how you present your brand: logos and tag lines are important to give your customers an idea of who you are as a business.

You can increase your visibility by creating great content on your site, optimized for the right keywords. Also, it always helps if you present yourself actively on social media. There are several factors related to local SEO that help small businesses. Make sure Google My Business has the right details, keep track of your ratings and reviews, and try to get linked by related small businesses. Finally, try to optimize for ‘ near me’ searches.

Read on: ‘5 questions: Talking local SEO with David Mihm’ »

June 27th 2017 Social Media

5 Effective Tips for Building Your Brand Using Instagram

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As proven by their 700 million monthly active users, Instagram is a popular social media platform for millennials. Because of their massive growth, wide reach, and strong influence over consumers, it is hard for any brand to ignore their power. However, launching a company on Instagram may not be as easy. If you are not that familiar with how it works, you might struggle to get a loyal following established. Consider the following tips to help you build your brand on Instagram.

5 Tips for Building Your Brand With Instagram

1. Take Advantage of the Bio SectionImage result for instagram bio link

There is only one place on Instagram where you can place clickable links—the bio section under your account name located at the top of your page. First, make an informative and interesting bio that can hook followers. Then, promote your brand and boost traffic to your website, online store, or blog by including a link to your targeted landing page. You can also change the link regularly to update your followers about your latest campaign, product launch, event sale, and other promotions.

2. Focus on Content Creation

On Instagram, the two elements you need to focus on are visuals and engaging text. Your content should not only resonate with your followers but also drive them to interact. It is necessary to create high-quality content that is deserving of your audience’s time. As you are about to upload a photo, ask yourself first whether it tells a story or elicits an emotion. An emotional connection can attract and retain the most valuable customers.

Post images outside of your own products once in awhile. Something entertaining, inspirational, or useful. Let your followers know that there is a real person behind that account. To complete your post, make sure to include an engaging caption. It can be a compelling question, a motivational quote, or a powerful statement.

Related image

3. Collect & Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags make it easy for Instagram users to find posts by searching for specific terms. Use the right words to get your brand noticed. You might even gain new followers and be discovered in the process. Although Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, you should aim to use much less than that. Posts with more than five hashtags have significantly lower engagement. Plus, you wouldn’t want to risk coming across as “salesy.” Use relevant hashtags that your brand could use, such as a campaign title, product name, a slogan, or even the location of your store.

 

4. Engage With Your Competitor’s Followers

The great thing about Instagram is that you can stalk your competitors’ profile accounts without them knowing and you get to scan through their followers. Engaging with their audience is actually an effective way to attract new following. People who are following your competitor’s account already carry some level of interest in the products or services you are offering. Start by targeting at least 50 users. The first step is to follow them, then like a picture, and leave a comment on one of their posts. If the response is good, add more.

5. Partner With a Micro-Influencer

Micro-influencers are well-known in the advertising industry for their ability to generate positive word-of-mouthabout the products and services they feature. According to a study, around 82% of consumers would follow a purchase recommendation from a micro-influencer. The idea is to hire an influencer within a category related to your brand in order to promote your product or service. They can also add a strong call to action in the shout-out to follow your account. It is a great way to gain a large number of new followers quickly.

 

Instagram marketing is an art. A brand needs to invest time and attention to establish effective engagement and convert followers into paying customers.  If done strategically, a tremendous potential for your business awaits. Get ready to expand your reach, increase brand awareness, and ultimately improve your company’s revenue.

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June 22nd 2017 Marketing, Social Media