Sniffing Out the Best Strategies to grow Your Business

Sniffing Out the Best Strategies to grow Your Business

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Latest 10 Insights to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Digital marketing is a moving target, as are the audiences you seek to reach and influence. Social Media are the locus of some of the fastest and most significant changes. A seemingly simple and small change on one platform can have powerful effects on marketing results. Fortunately, you have access to the findings of numerous studies and surveys to inform and guide best practices and innovative use of all digital channels. As a new year begins, it makes sense to evaluate some of the latest data and insights to improve your social media marketing.

Here are ten of the latest data and recent changes to help you fine-tune your social media marketing.

  1. A recent study of Facebook (funded by Facebook but conducted independently by Datalicious) concluded that Facebook and display advertising should be credited for 830 percent more revenue than previously believed. Other insights from the study: Facebook advertising should be credited for 911 percent more revenue; the more ad impressions consumers are exposed to the more likely they are to convert (7 times more likely); display ads lead to nine times more search responses than clicks alone.
  2. Understanding customer conversion in terms of multi-touch attribution rather than last touch attribution might result in a major realignment of marketing spending. Commenting on the Facebook study, the CEO of Datalicious, Christian Bartens, said “This is the largest study of its kind and shows that a better understanding of what prompts people to buy is vital in driving improved return on advertising spend (ROAS) and can even create a long-term advantage over competitors. For many brands, taking a better look at their ROAS by embracing a multi-touch attribution method will see a radical shift in the way they spend their money.”
  3. Video has emerged in recent months as the preferred format for content. The platform of choice has shifted (at least among desktop users) from YouTube to Facebook, with nearly 30 times more views per day since July 2014. The upshot of this shift is important for marketers because videos posted on Facebook are shared far more than videos on YouTube – after all, Facebook is about sharing and engagement. This does not mean you should stop posting a video to YouTube because YouTube continues to drive more trackable sales than any other social media platform (AOL Convertro research).
  4. Facebook’s recent steps to reduce selling and “bribing or buying” more Likes, as well as the sheer volume of content on the platform, have negatively affected the visibility of businesses on Facebook. As a result, a number of businesses are shifting their strategies away from Facebook. Those firms that see a need to continue to focus on the Facebook platform are discovering a new playing field that is rapidly moving toward a “pay to play” model. This shift is likely to price participation beyond the reach of small businesses.
  5. A number of industry insiders expect Instagram to become to Facebook what SlideShare is to LinkedIn among businesses and professionals, providing a platform for sharing quick, brief content pieces of value to their industry and their customers and prospects.
  6. Small businesses need to monitor and take advantage of new technologies and options that will abbreviate the traditional customer journey. These include the recent growth of live chat, call tracking, click to call, tweet to purchase, etc. Any technology or process that eliminates steps in the journey can be expected to improve conversion rates and increase ROI.
  7. Marketing and advertising budgets and plans will need ongoing adjustment as social media platforms act to monetize. Facebook’s gradual shift to paid advertising is being replicated by other social platforms, a trend that is likely to grow and spread. Small businesses and professionals will need to identify the most cost-efficient advertising models in order to remain visible to prospects via social media. This will require monitoring of new studies and best practices, testing options, and experimentation, as well as the flexibility to adapt to changes quickly.
  8. Native advertising and customer expectation of personal interaction with brands and companies will continue to favor marketers and businesses that can demonstrate personality, earn trust, and build stronger relationships with customers and prospects.
  9. If you have not demolished silos in your marketing strategy and structure, now is the time to do so. Your social media marketing strategy needs to be integrated with your content plan and your advertising plan. The misguided assumption that people (or businesses) become customers based on a single interaction or engagement is dead. Cross-channel impressions and campaigns are essential. Marketers may need to lead the way, but analytics will eventually catch up and provide the proof demanded by owners and executives.
  10. Segmentation of lists remains a priority because consumers (and business customers) have come to expect ever-increasing levels of direct personal contact with businesses. Segmentation should be applied to social media contacts in new ways. Just as you often use list segments in some email marketing, you can now use segment lists to create more personalized communication and sharing with key contacts, influencers, and customers via social media. This ability offers an array of new opportunities to share with social contacts on a more intimate and appealing level.

Understanding these ten insights for social media marketing can help you create better SEO strategy. Finding creative ways to build them into your strategy will help you keep up with some of the more important and recent practices and opportunities available to improve your social media marketing. If we can be of help, please contact us.

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Does Pinterest Have Marketing Value? Plus 10 Tips for Success?

It is very easy to find a conversation about the marketing value of Pinterest, does Pinterest have marketing value network. In many of these conversations, someone represents the opinion that Pinterest has little to no value for marketing and someone else represents the view that Pinterest is critical to effective marketing. Before you decide to include or exclude Pinterest, there are new insights that might affect your decision.

By the Numbers

Pinning down the number of Pinterest users is challenging. An article published in Forbes magazine in June of 2014 reported that according to Ahalogy’s (Pinterest’s marketing firm) data, Pinterest had about 53 monthly active users in the U.S.

Of course, as a privately held company, Pinterest is not required to publish membership data. This estimate appears to reflect the most recent estimate of users.

Here are some reliable numbers from the just-released Pew Research Center ‘s Social Media Report:

  • 42% of online women use Pinterest.
  • 13% of online men use Pinterest (these numbers have doubled in recent months).
  • 17% of Pinterest users visit the platform daily.
  • 9% visit the platform multiple times each day.
  • 29% of users visit weekly.
  • 52% of users visit less than once each week.

Demographic Insights

Pinterest is typically used by consumers for “shopping inspiration.” Users of the site browse for new products and ideas before making purchases. While browsing, they review product/service information, compare photos of similar products, research opinions of friends and family members and colleagues. Pinterest began with a predominantly female audience, yet the number of male users has been climbing steadily. In fact, the number of male users doubled in recent months.

Here are some demographic insights into the Pinterest membership:

  • The percentage of online adult women that use Pinterest increased from 33% in 2013 to 42% in 2014.
  • The percentage of online adult men that use Pinterest increased from 8% in 2013 to 13% in 2014.
  • The number of white, non-Hispanic users increased from 21% of online non-Hispanic adults in 2013 to 32% in 2014. This is a very significant increase.
  • The number of Hispanic users increased from 18% on online Hispanic adults in 2013 to 21% in 2014.
  • However, of online black non-Hispanic adults, users dropped from 20% in 2013 to 12% in 2014.
  • The just-released Pew Social Media study documented modest growth among 18 – 29-year-olds and 30 – 49-year-olds.
  • Significant growth was documented among Internet users aged 50 – 64 (from 14% to 27%), and those aged 65 and over (from 9% to 17%).
  • The percentage of Internet users living in rural areas jumped from 17% in 2013 to 30% in 2014.

Pinterest Marketing Tips

Pinterest currently drives more referral shopping traffic than any other social media platform. Pinterest is the number two source of all social media traffic for Buzzfeed.

Do not underestimate the value of Pinterest marketing for any business.

  • Create your content marketing on Pinterest.
  • Make all content shared on Pinterest interesting by using images people will be eager to pin or re-pin.
  • Include many types of images, photos, and video.
  • Use your focus keywords in descriptions and captions for images.
  • Be creative in showing your products and services on Pinterest.
  • Show how your products are used in an appropriate context.
  • Remember that people might be seeing older pins, and set up redirects for any items you have stopped selling or making.
  • Don’t be afraid to think creatively when developing your board strategy.
  • Regardless of the type of products and services you pin, make the images and the boards as visually interesting and compelling as possible.

Check out the other articles of Little Black Dog SEO.

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Insights for Social Media Marketing in January 2015

Learning from the Pew 2014 Social Media Survey

The Pew 2014 Social Media Survey released last week confirms that the vast majority of people who use the Internet at all are using at least one social media network. This study is part of a much larger effort to understand how the Internet impacts our lives. If we dig for the right data points, there are actionable insights for sociologists, cultural anthropologists, social psychologists, and other, including marketers and business owners or executives. Such information is vital so that we can come up with the right marketing and SEO strategies.

According to the Pew 2014 Social Media Survey, Facebook is, by far, the most widely used social platform, with 71 percent of adults over the age of 18 among its users. The growth of Facebook membership has leveled out in 2013 and 2014. Engagement, however, is up on Facebook. Of those surveyed, 70 percent said they log in to the site daily, with 45 percent saying they log in more than once a day. Daily use is up from 63 percent in 2013.

Somewhat surprising is the percentage of US Adult Internet users who are members of other social platforms:

PLATFORM 2012 2013 2014

  • Facebook 67% 71% 71%
  • LinkedIn 20% 22% 28%
  • Pinterest 15% 21% 28%
  • Instagram 13% 17% 26%
  • Twitter 16% 18% 23%

What we find surprising is to see Twitter member percentages lagging behind LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.

Notable in terms of generational statistics, Boomers and Seniors are increasingly social and engaged.

People use multiple social platforms.

  • 21% use no social media sites
  • 28% use one site
  • 24% use two sites
  • 16% use three sites
  • 8% use four sites
  • 4% use five sites or more.

With more than half of online adults (52%) active on two or more social platforms, marketers and business owners/executives need to be thinking and building social marketing strategies that are multi-platform, as well as multi-channel.

The younger demographic (aged 18-34) are very active on Instagram – 53 percent of them. If people of this demographic group are part of your target audience, Instagram should be on your radar.
If your market includes college educated social media users, you will find about half of them active on LinkedIn.

Much of the growth of Twitter membership has been among men, Caucasians, those aged 65 and over, college graduates, urbanites, and households earning $50,000 per year or more.

Learning from Recent Studies and Surveys

Trends and Successful Practices

We have also been busy culling helpful insights from a broad range of surveys and studies, looking for clear trends in social media use and successful practices in social media marketing. Here are some of the things we have discovered.

Content marketing is increasingly dependent upon social platforms for distribution.

Real-time marketing interaction is expected to be achieved on social platforms first – before it is adapted on other digital channels.The amount of audio and video content on social media platforms is increasing rapidly. Facebook, according to some surveys, is the platform of choice for video content sharing; LinkedIn, say some, is now the top platform for sharing written content. Visual elements are increasingly important in all content marketing and distribution.

The shift will continue to mobile access of social media platforms. This makes mobile-friendly design and responsive design critical for viewability. Websites that are not viewable on mobile devices will be penalized in search results rankings, according to Google on 1/21/15.social media selling and shopping – little black dog social media

Social media platforms (with a few notable exceptions) are trying to monetize and are doing so with social platform advertising programs. Not only will we see more paid advertising on social platforms, but we might discover a need for marketers to pay to play and expect to achieve any kind of visibility on social networks – or, at least, to find it necessary to pay for the visibility they want.

Social media platforms are partnering with payment options or buying payment startups and companies. The ability to buy products directly from a social media platform will likely become the norm during 2015. This will significantly alter the dynamic of social media interactions. Companies will need to have processes in place to work with these social platforms to deliver products and/or services to these customers.

For marketers, tracking and analytics will continue to improve, and should soon reach the tipping point in terms of ability to capture data and make it both accessible for analysis and productive of actionable customer insights and trends. (Twitter, however, has just quietly dropped its analytics in favor of the use of Twitter cards.)

Social media platforms are becoming more important for B2B communication and marketing. On January 14, 2015, Facebook was the dominant platform with a usage rate of 89 percent, but LinkedIn had almost closed the gap for B2B, standing merely one point behind Facebook.

We will continue to see new social media networks launch and become popular. The jury is still out on Ello, which promises no advertising and no sales of user information to third parties. Others will likely offer location-based options available to members and local marketers or they will be content defined.

With additional data available regarding on-platform engagement we will have the analytics to know which content genres are most appealing to market segments. Influencer marketing will probably remain a high priority among marketers.

Conclusion

Multi-platform users will drive multi-platform marketing and engagement. Marketers need to understand that all age groups are not active on social platforms. Better analytics should enable us to identify key audiences and personalize marketing communications more effectively and efficiently. It would be a mistake to focus only on millennials for most companies. Baby Boomers and Seniors are very large demographics, with a large amount of disposable income. Thus social media strategy and content planning need to incorporate recognition of a diverse audience and an understanding of how to speak to each segment of that audience.

It is inherent in social interactions to change and evolve. We should, then, expect that the locus and the dynamics of marketing via social media platforms will change. Being alert to new insights and trends helps today’s small businesses develop marketing plans that remain relevant to their target audiences. We hope this update is helpful to you.

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A Few Thoughts about Knowing Your Social Media Audience

Several reports and interpretations were published today about a new study conducted by NewsCred, a content marketing platform, entitled “The Millennial Mind: How Content Drives Brand Loyalty.” The study “reveals that educational, truthful, and personalized content has a strong influence on US millennials’ brand loyalty and purchase behaviors,” according to today’s media release.

Two key result

This study surveyed 501 US millennials in October 2014.

“Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed feel that online content drives their loyalty to a brand – yet the content they’re receiving is turning them off by not helping them navigate their everyday problems, being too long, sales-driven, and not tailoring messaging to individual cultural interests."

“Only 12 percent of respondents declared their active dislike for marketing communications showing that personalized, funny, intelligent, and helpful content marketing has an open door to drive millennials’ loyalty and purchase decisions.”

As marketers and as people NOT of the millennial generation, the Partners at Little Black Dog SEO decided to conduct our own tiny and arguably unscientific survey of some other non-millennials. The clear conclusion among the people we surveyed was that both of the results stated above are “absolutely ludicrous.”

From their point of view, very few intelligent and self-sufficient individuals would even begin to trust marketers or marketing collateral (= content) to help them navigate their everyday problems.” Further, those we interviewed found it odd that anyone would base purchase decisions on “funny, intelligent, and helpful content marketing,” rather than the quality, efficacy and proven benefits of the product or service under consideration.

Now, our goal is not to deride the opinions of any generation or the way they choose to make purchase decisions. Our point is that if marketers wish to provide the information their target market needs in order to make an informed purchase decision, they need to understand their target market and respond to their questions and concerns appropriately.

What we are seeing far too often in articles offering marketing guidance to small businesses is a focus on data derived from social media – which is predominantly the domain of millennials – and a tacit assumption that marketers need focus only on these opinions in order to market products, services or brands effectively.

We will limit ourselves to a few thoughts here

We promised a few thoughts about knowing your social media audience.

  • First, all businesses (of any size) should not focus entirely on millennials as their target market. Unless your product or service is geared only to millennials, such a narrow definition of the target market is unnecessarily restrictive.
  • Second, something very important is often lost in appropriating these articles and studies: the fact that people of all generations (and even all millennials) do not respond to certain marketing tactics and strategies in the same way. For example, many baby boomers find pop-overs and overlay irritating.
  • Third, people of different generations prefer different kinds of humor.
  • Fourth, as adoption rates and user demographics for most social media platforms continue to show rapid adoption by older generations, we should expect studies of social media users to become more complex, more segmented by age, and more varied in responses to these questions.
  • Finally, we should never assume that people who are active on social media can be realistically segmented on the basis of age alone. Segmentation should increasingly reflect response patterns, interests, and preferred methods of communication.

What is the point of all of this?

It is simple: Take surveys (especially those utilizing a very small sample) with a grain of salt, and with a large sieve to filter out the findings that are generation-specific. If you have invested the time, the effort, and the research to know your target audience and their preferences and needs, you should be able to identify research findings that are, and are not, relevant to your target audience. Everyone you want to reach on social media – or elsewhere – is not a millennial and is not likely to have the same expectations of marketing content. Know your audience.

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Work-Arounds and Contingency Plans

Every person in every firm should have defined workaround procedures, and processes and every company should have contingency plans to guide them (and others) in the event of a crisis. Unfortunately, in a majority of cases, these plans are not created until they are suddenly and unexpectedly required. Even marketing projects and SEO services also need such plans.

These are critical characteristics of all “workaround” and contingency plans:

They are created and documented long before they are actually needed

The primary reason these plans and process documents are created before they are needed is that they reflect careful and clear-headed approaches to problems. Without this calm and clear-headed thought, responses to crises are often rash and even frenetic. Further, the responses and procedures are often constructed by people with far less knowledge of the most effective and efficient actions.

They are extremely detailed

The point of these plans and processes is to guide someone unfamiliar with a task, job, process or procedure – or even a corporate strategy – as they attempt to step into a role and perform the work necessary to keep the organization on track and moving toward established goals.

They are publicly available

In the aftermath of a crisis (illness, injury, loss of a key employee, or significant environmental change affecting task performance or corporate strategic direction, people need to know where to find the plans or process documents quickly.

They are anticipatory

The plans anticipate possibilities. These possibilities may range from a broken arm to a financial catastrophe. For example, a computer programmer who is also an avid hang glider might anticipate the possibility of an injury and spend some time training the voice recognition software on his/her computer. An SEO company should anticipate the problems that they might encounter based on the issues that previously happened in the industry.

Similarly, a corporate executive with 20 years’ experience in a firm who is experiencing some memory dysfunction as a side effect of medication might try to create a brain-dump of corporate history, strategic history, and valuable knowledge of how and why critical strategic decisions were made.

Others might create process maps for critical tasks and activities.

Many people will make the mistake of assuming that the steps in key processes are self-evident or that they will be able to determine alternate methods for accomplishing key tasks with little or no interruption or loss of efficiency. The truth is that this is rarely the case when crises occur. This is particularly true for small businesses and even for mid-sized businesses.

Next Steps: We encourage you to take a few minutes to think about each critical function or strategy in your organization and the person(s) responsible for implementation. Then, ask yourself what would happen if the person(s) were unable to perform their job(s) tomorrow.

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