It’s a relatively new year and thus far a very exciting one for online marketers. According to The Economist, digital advertising grew by 12.2% last year (more than 2.5 times the growth of television marketing) and earned an impressive $149bn. With an increasing portion of advertising budgets migrating online, it’s up to digital experts to squeeze the last drop of efficiency from campaigns in light of increasing competition. As the battle rages on between Google and Facebook, we note a definite trend for successful social media campaigns – so what are the laws of engagement for this year?To get a better idea of where social media is headed and what brands can start doing today to improve their marketing returns, we spoke with TMI’s SEO divisional head Darren Sheffield. Having recently discussed this during an interview with Calvin Ayre, we thought we’d compile the highlights of the discussion below.Content discovery platforms whilst not technically social platforms are also a good option to consider. Taboola, Outbrain and Stumbleupon are alternatives that offer marketers the opportunity to promote content with a little less fuss, although we have seen some varying results in terms of click quality.
Tip 1: Using Image Focused Platforms to Promote Casino Related Content
In the US, promoting gambling on Facebook is, unfortunately, not allowed although there are some options still open to savvy marketers. The UK on the other hand affords marketers the opportunity to promote gambling directly, but even in the UK there is a lengthy red tape process to get around. Pinterest and Instagram are two social media platforms that marketers often overlook due to usage being dwarfed by Facebook and Twitter. However the reduced organic reach of Facebook on top of restrictions in advertising mean they should be given much more prominence. On Pinterest we regularly see higher conversion rates than Facebook and Twitter for our gambling clients. One thing that is very important to remember is the browser demographic on Pinterest – it has a 70% female user-base and much of the content posted is accordingly female focused. This would need to be taken into account and cross-referenced with the interest group related to your gambling product. If you’re marketing bingo (for example) which has a strong female following then you’d be on the right track. Pinterest has approximately 70 million registered users with 20 million active monthly. Though only a fraction of Facebook this is still an immense audience for banner driven ad campaigns. Instagram is another visual platform with high potential and a success rate for gambling based content, especially if the brand is looking for exposure as opposed to hard conversions.It’s worth noting that both Instagram and Pinterest are rolling out paid advertising platforms, which will allow marketers to further maximise their content distribution efforts.
Tip 2: Engaging Influencers on Twitter
Twitter is undoubtedly one of the best ways to connect and converse with the ideal target influencer. But how do you approach them? There are a few guidelines to follow which we have found to ensure a pretty good success rateIt’s essential to get to know your influencers well. This may sound obvious, these are people you’re hoping will fully engage with your content and you need to ensure that they support it and are not offended by it – remember that Twitter is a very public forum. @Mention targeted influencers with tailor made messages. Don’t succumb to the temptation of sending a batch of generic tweets, remember that these can easily be tracked by others. Customise outreach tweets and you’ll be sure to not rub anyone the wrong way. Offer your influencers real value! Have you created something valuable such as a free resource? Then present that resource as a gift. This is a great way to start a relationship. Engage your influencers in conversation – the easiest way to do this is to reply to one of their Tweets. Are they asking a question? Step in and give them the solution they are looking for and you’ve immediately become someone worth talking to. Pay if necessary. When the influencer is big enough it’s more than valid to offer some compensation, and quite often you may find you are asked and focus on building relationships for the long term.
Tip 3: Ensure Your Blog Gains Maximum Social Media Engagement
Blogs are undoubtedly a crucial part of an online marketing strategy – the social media, SEO and overall branding benefits make it a key part in strategies we recommend for our clients. Blogging and social media success can be closely linked so here are a few pointers to ensure your blog gets the social media engagement it deserves. Do your social media content research. Know your fan base and use tools such as Facebook Graph Search and Audience Insights to gain an insight in to everything from their demographics to their interests. An often overlooked element is to use the comment section. Comments are the ultimate sign of user engagement and platforms such as Disqus allow great integration with social media.Make your content highly shareable. Ensuring images can be pinned to Pinterest and inserting Tweetable facts are just some of the ways to make it easier for your users to share. Replying to every blog comment in a considered and tailored manner will ensure those users will come back on a regular basis. Lastly, put some resources toward paid social media and content discovery promotion. This type of promotion will increase visits from new users.
Tip 4: Measuring the Social Media Success of Your Content
There is a wealth of metrics available to the social media marketer from which to measure success. When assessing the success of one’s social media content it’s crucial to focus on the key metrics so we’ve put together a list you should be focusing on:• Likes: Ever important sign of interest that will ensure your content stays high up in the newsfeed. • Shares: Arguably the most powerful metric in ensuring your content gets great organic reach. • Comments are the ultimate sign of user engagement • Impressions: A classic metric clients will always want.• Page Likes: This is to say page likes which resulted from users being exposed to your content, which is an excellent way of gauging the lasting good impression your content made. • Frequency: Crucial in determining the rate at which content resonates with your user base. • Placement: Want to know if you’re content is mobile friendly? Does well on right hand? Placement metrics will help marketers get to the bottom of these questions.• Re-tweets: Ensure content gets maximum traction by being made visible to a user’s fan base. • Replies: The best way to gauge the conversation started by your content. • Reach to establish how many times your content was viewedTwitter being the influencer hub it is, the crucial metric here is to establish how much influencer attention your content is getting. The easiest way to do that is the use a discernible hashtag in your content and track exactly who is engaging with your content and the level of influence they hold.
Tip 5: Key Social Trends to Look Out For in 2015
Any successful social media marketer know the importance of staying up to speed with the latest trends in social media marketing – knowledge undoubtedly makes or breaks a social media strategy. Here’s a rundown of the trends we see dominating the next year or so: Content marketing will go from strength to strength We see big brands, small brands and all the brands inbetween investing sizeable budgets in to creating content that doesn’t just get a message across but more than that tells a skilfully weaved narrative and elicits high engagement. Ensure your brand is on top of this trend by investing in out-the-box content that could deliver huge rewards. Mobile is the future – again We’re sure you’ve heard this one before, but it’s true…again. Mobile really is the future and the fact is brands have generally been a bit slow on the uptake. Luckily mobile is so huge though that there’s plenty room for brands to rapidly catch. The way platforms interact with the mobile user will evolve and become allot more sophisticated, so your brand will have to make sure your content output mobile friendly and targeted towards the mobile user. The social media landscape will become an integrated place As social media marketers it’s easy to look at social strategy in truncated manner – Facebook then Twitter then G+ etc etc. Marketers will have to start thinking holistically and start breaking down the strategic barriers between platforms to ensure your strategy is a fully integrated and successful one. True TTL It’s becoming quite apparent that there’s one steady component to every stage of the modern through-the-line campaign – namely social media. From television to on-pack, to outdoor activation, social media will become further more integrated. Marketers will have to learn how best to harness the power of social at these very different stages of a campaign.
Tip 6: Social Media & Mobile
It’s essential that as mobile growth continues that marketers get to grips with the unique challenges and opportunities that exist for it. The main and obvious difference here is how people see your piece of content – not only do mobile users have a smaller screen to look at, but users can often have a different mindset when on a mobile device. Detailed designs & lengthy text may look great on a desktop but on mobile these will work less effectively – stick with bold imagery and keep it extra lean for best results. Being aware of mobile’s technical limitations will also go a long way in ensuring your campaign doesn’t fail. Certain media types will take longer to load on mobile devices – so usually stick to easily downloadable content when targeting users.It is important to also bear in mind the user journey a mobile user will take in comparison to that of a desktop user. Always be aware of the landing page you are sending the user to – Make sure it displays well on mobile screens of varying sizes – this is a very common mistake that we see. Lastly be aware of added advertising targeting options for mobile users. For example Facebook Ads allow marketers to target by Mobile OS, target phones connected to wifi and allow for re-targeting within apps. All of these options can be powerful tools to the mobile marketer.
Tip 7: Building an Effective Presence on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional platform which many marketers overlook due to believing it is ineffective, and that users do not engage with brands and content. However it has the potential to be incredibly powerful and we have had lots of success for our clients. Here are some tips to help build your presence.
- Set up a company LinkedIn page and post regularly. All the usual rules apply here, but ensure your community manager knows your product and industry back-to-front – remember these are usually highly educated and specialised people you’re engaging with.
- Getting content right is key on LinkedIn – the audience is professional, and content must match this in tone and message. LinkedIn users are most likely to engage with content that is going to benefit them professionally.
- Use Slideshares – LinkedIn owns the Slideshare platform, and Slideshows are the perfect content format for LinkedIn – instructional and clearly presented.
Tip 8: Optimise Youtube Content
Youtube videos can generate massive amount of views and almost more than any other piece of content have the potential to become truly viral. We’ll run over some ways of ensuring your video gets as many views as possible.• Once you’ve produced your high quality video, it’s essential you spend the necessary time researching video titles and tags. Getting the right titles and tags will allow Youtube users to find your piece of content through all the clutter. Therefore always research and plan these carefully. • Closed caption your videos to make them more searchable. Transcribing videos in this way has been shown to lead to better rankings in search results. • Annotations within videos are equally powerful tools in keeping your target audience engaged. Use annotations that direct users to stay on your channel. Also use annotations to direct users to other channels and sites that are of relevance to your audience.
Tip 9: Other Social Platforms to Consider
The smaller social media platforms should never be discounted due to their size, in fact the lack of saturation can mean they have the potential to be far more successful. We’ll run through 4 platforms you should consider based on success we have had with our clients. • Slideshare – Presentations uploaded usually receive views in thousands if the content is of a good quality and is easily shareable. They are a great way of establishing authority in a subject matter and can rank highly in the SERP’s. • Stumbleupon – In our experience the main goal on this platform is for your content to feature highly in a relevant topic section. This requires it to be picked up early and voted up, if successful this can drive huge traffic volumes. • Vine – Brands like GAP and Burberry have used video submissions from this platform to great effect. A top tip is to cross post Vine videos on Twitter, which has proven to be highly effective as Vines render in their short video format in Twitter feeds. • Tumblr – A micro-blogging platform that has gone from strength to strength in attracting a loyal following from users who want a bit more out of their micro blog than Twitter. Brands such as CK and Disney have built huge communities by posting relatively short blog posts that rely on strong imagery.
Tip 10: Use Images on Twitter
Adding images to your tweets is one of the most effective ways to increase the chance of it being seen and engaged with. It is now possible to add up to 4 images to a tweet. This massively increases the size of your tweet in somebody’s timeline, and not surprisingly we see much higher engagement rates for tweets with images, and even more so when we have used four images. A clever way of then using these images is to overlay text which essentially gives your more characters to tweet with.
Max Brockbank is Head of SEO at The Media Image. He previously served as Global Director SEO at Hilton Worldwide and Senior Client Success Manager at SearchMetrics. As a journalist, Max worked as a reporter and editor with regional and national newspapers including the FT and the Sun, and on global publications such as TIME Magazine.