Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals

For both B2B and B2C brands, social media marketing has become an age-old tactic by now. And it’s no surprise. Despite working 8 hours a day and sleeping (hopefully) 8 hours, the average person still spends nearly two hours each day on social media, according to a study by Mediakix.

But the social media landscape is changing-alot. Organic reach on Facebook is declining with changes to the Newsfeed, some of which are still rolling out. Twitter is struggling to retain their active users. Instagram is experimenting with long-form video content. LinkedIn is also investing in more video.

Given these changes and regular updates, the best practices for each platform are constantly evolving. But what’s one thing that isn’t poised to change anytime soon? The importance of using eye-catching, compelling visual content to draw people in.

Whether it’s YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or another social media platform, we know audiences consume content on those channels for a significant amount of time-they crave it. And if you want to make a positive impression, you have to go beyond ensuring proper image dimensions. You need make sure you’re sharing the right visual content on the right platform.

To help you paint your content in the best light on social media and help create a positive experience for your audience, we asked our own Social Strategist, Meg McDougall, to share some best practices for selecting the right social images and video for some of the major platforms. Here’s what she had to say.

LinkedIn Social Image and Video Best Practices

Think About Your Audience

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 562 million members and growing. But even though LinkedIn has a large audience of professionals, that doesn’t mean they exclusively want to engage in buttoned-up, stiff content.

To make sure your pages, profiles, and articles are interesting and engaging for your audience, you need to know your audience really well. Do they like it when you show a little personality? Do they like more formal language or slang? Take a look at your LinkedIn Company Page analytics to see what types of content and messages your audience is engaging with to come up with a direction for your page.

Take Advantage of Video

Announced in 2017, LinkedIn added the ability for members and brands to create and share video content. This gives content creators, publishers, and brands more opportunities to engage and connect with their audiences. Plus, LinkedIn video has autoplay enabled, making it easy for your audience to watch your content.

Speaking of video, all of your motion graphics should be published as a video .mp4 file, not a .GIF. Many browsers and social media platforms are disabling autoplay for GIFs and are instead converting them into click-to-play videos. Instead of relying on the social platform to convert the GIF for you, take control of how your motion graphic will appear by creating the graphic as a video file from the start.  

Who’s doing it right? GE. Just take a look at one of their most recent posts (below). Their video on GE turbines has received 1,841 likes and 29 comments in less than 24 hours. As of July 10, just four days after posting, that count was up to 3,656 likes and 58 comments. The video also takes advantage of captioning to ensure that even with the audio off, audiences can still engage with and learn from their video.

LinkedIn Video Example From GE

LinkedIn Image Specifications

  • Company Page Direct Uploads: 552 x 368
  • Image Previews From Link Posts: 436 x 228
  • Personal Page Direct Uploads: 1200 x 627
  • Personal Page Cover Photo: 646 x 220
  • Personal Page Image Previews From Link Posts: 520 x 272
  • Article Featured Image: 520 x 272
  • Article Cover Photo: 744 x 400
  • Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Twitter Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Site Traffic in Mind

Eighty percent of Twitter’s traffic comes from mobile devices. However, check your audience data in Google Analytics to see if mobile or desktop is your top traffic source for Twitter. Whichever device comes out on top, you should tailor your social imagery accordingly.

Consider the Number of Images

Depending on how many images you upload and attach to a post and which device its viewed on, Twitter will display them in different sizes and orientations. As a result, it’s important to remember how many images you want to share and how they will be seen on mobile versus desktop as they look very different.

Here’s how multiple images look on mobile from Buffer‘s guide to social media image sizes:

Twitter Multiple Images on Mobile

Image credit: Buffer

And here’s how multiple images look on desktop:

Twitter Multiple Images on Desktop

Image credit: Buffer

Stand Out With Something Creative

A single day’s worth of Tweets could fill a 10 million page book-there are a lot of tweets out there that are saturating feeds. Make sure your content stands out with a creative image, graphic, video, or motion graphic.

For example, try making a custom image to add additional context to the image and capture more attention. Tools like Canva or Venngage make those custom images easy-just remember to make them the correct size or your design may get cropped off.

Who’s doing it right? Wendy’s. Already killing the game with their witty brand voice on Twitter, they also make sure they stand out in news feeds with custom images, memes, video, and other media. For example, in the tweet below, Wendy’s makes a timely reference to Avengers: Infinity War while also taking a fun shot at their competition (McDonald’s). The end result is a tweet with viral potential and over 230,000 likes.

Wendy's Custom Image Example on Twitter

Twitter Image Specifications

Mobile Images: 1200 x 675 (16:9)

Mobile Multiple Image Upload

  • One Image, 2:1
  • Two Images, 7:8
  • Three Images, 7:8 & 4:7
  • Four Images, 2:1

Desktop Images: 506 x 506 (1:1)

Desktop Multiple Image Upload

  • Two Images, 252 x 252 (1:1)
  • Three Images, 337 x 337 (1:1)
  • Four Images, 379 x 379 (1:1)

Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Facebook Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Videos Short and Sweet

More and more brands are creating more Facebook video as an average of 100 million hours of video are watched each day on the platform. Browsing through your own Facebook accounts, you’ll likely notice videos have taken over. Your eyes might be drawn to a video recipe from Tasty or a video from TechCrunch on the latest technology news.

To create Facebook videos that drive the best results, create videos that are between 60 and 90 seconds long. In a study that analyzed 100 million Facebook videos, Buzzsumo found that videos between 60 and 90 seconds had the most engagement on Facebook.

BuzzSumo Graph on Facebook Video Interactions

Image credit: Buzzsumo

When it comes to Facebook video, it’s also worth noting that 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound. Any narration or audio you include in the clip might not make it to a majority of your audience. To ensure that your message is communicated to your viewers who prefer silence, add captions or copy onto your Facebook videos. This way both types of viewers get the full impact of your content.

Support Multiple Traffic Objectives With Carousels

Oftentimes, social messages contain one link or call to action (CTA). However, Facebook is changing that with their new carousel page posts that can showcase multiple images, links, and headlines. As a collection of links and images, your Facebook followers can browse through your post to click on the link that’s most relevant to them. This makes carousels a great tool if you have a campaign with multiple landing pages or traffic objectives.

Who’s doing it right? Skype. While carousels make a natural fit for promoting several or even one product, Skype went in a different direction. Instead of promoting one of their software products, Skype is using carousels to share and generate awareness for their work with The Young Actors Project.

Facebook Carousel Post Example From Skype

Facebook Image Specifications

  • Image Uploads: 476-wide
  • Vertical Uploads: 476 x 714
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Image Previews From Link Post: 476 x 249
  • Carousel Images: 300 x 300
  • Cover Photo: 820 x 312
  • Link-less Image Ratio (Paid): 16:9 or 9:16
  • Linked Image Ratio (Paid): 1200 x 628

Instagram Social Image and Video Best Practices

Don’t Be a Square

Instagram used to only allow images with a square, 1:1 aspect ratio. However, they now allow for both horizontal and vertical image content. This can be done in regular image uploads, but also in Instagram Stories. So, don’t feel like you have to keep your images in those tight, perfect boxes. Use whatever orientation and ratio works best for the image you want to share. Here’s a great example courtesy of Buffer:

Example of Vertical Content on Instagram

Image credit: Buffer

Drive Conversions With Stories

Instagram has been known to marketers for making it a little harder to share links. On Instagram, URLs and links don’t work in the description of traditional image uploads. As a result, many brands use their profile bio to add in a URL and update it for each campaign.

This is a good workaround, however, it requires a lot of additional clicks and steps from both audiences and social media marketers.

Instagram Stories, however, offer a better solution. Through stories, accounts with over 10,000 followers can attach a link to your post that audiences can visit by swiping up. This makes it easy to drive traffic to your target pages and drive more conversions. Plus, your audience doesn’t have to leave the Instagram platform to view the link-they can stay directly within the Instagram interface.

Don’t have 10,000 followers on Instagram? Getting your account verified will also do the trick.

Who’s doing it right? Apple. Using Instagram Stories to tease their brand videos are captivating and engaging pieces of content. Taking advantage of both image and video, Apple knows how to pull people in and get them invested in a good story. To drive traffic to their objective pages, they’re also utilizing Instagram’s swipe up feature.

Apple Instagram Stories Example

Instagram Image Specifications

  • Square Image Upload: 1080 x 1080
  • Vertical Image Upload: 1080 x 1350
  • Horizontal Image Upload: 1080 x 566
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Instagram Story: 1080 x 192

Size Up Your Social Campaigns

Social media is an important piece of any content distribution or promotion strategy. With each platform having a unique voice, purpose, and target audience for your brand, it’s important that you customize your social images and videos for each one. Whether that means customizing the image size, picking individual images for each platform, or creating a special video, the more you tailor your social imagery, the better.

Need help finding the perfect image for your content? Read our guide on how to find and choose dynamic images.If you’re ready to dive into the world of video, make sure you’re creating the right videos with our guide to the different types video for B2B marketing and when to use them.

The post Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Digital Marketing News: Smarty-Pants Speakers Drive Voice Search, YouTube’s Rejiggered Hashtags, & Google’s Word Count Wisdom

July 27 2018 TopRank Marketing News Image

July 27 2018 TopRank Marketing News Image

Report: Smart speaker ownership driving voice adoption on smartphones

The popularity of voice search on smartphones has grown in part due to more Americans owning smart speakers, with a new NPR and Edison Research report revealing 18 percent now own so-called smart audio devices. Marketing Land

Report: Facebook takes a back seat to Instagram as ad spend on the Facebook-owned app grows 177%

New research data shows that Instagram had ad spending four times Facebook’s rate year-over-year during the second quarter of 2018, while YouTube’s ad spend was nearly triple that of last year. Marketing Land

Emojis Score With Mobile Users

New study data shows that the use of emojis has resulted in a sizable boost of mobile e-mail open rates, with open rates boosted over 80 percent resulting in 363 percent revenue gains, but are digital marketers convinced? MediaPost

YouTube Shows Searchable Hashtags Above Video Titles

YouTube has begun showing searchable hashtags above the title of each video. The first three hashtags of a video’s description field have gained prominence with the change, offering new opportunities for YouTube marketers looking to optimize video findability. Search Engine Journal

Google: Word Count Isn’t Indicative Of Quality

Google has indicated that written content isn’t ranked solely by word count numbers. Short or not-so-short, good writing is rarely tied to formulaic word counts, Google has hinted. Search Engine Roundtable

Google releases AMP Stories v1.0 with new features, including an ads beta for DFP users

Google has announced new features for developers using its AMP Stories format, including several monetization features and additional metadata attributes targeting digital marketers. Marketing Land

July 27, 2018 Digital Marketing News Statistics Image

Twitter Releases New ‘Playbook for Agencies’ Which Includes a Heap of Twitter Promotion Tips

Twitter has published a new guide offering ad tips and more, in its agency playbook announced this week. The guide’s insight is applicable to a wide swath of digital marketing professionals. Social Media Today

An update to referral source URLs for Google Images

Google announced recently that it will soon implement a new referrer URL specific to Google Images. Digital marketers working with country-specific search queries also get specific new guidelines from Google. Google Webmaster Central

Snapchat beefs up ad targeting in deal with Nielsen

Segmented audience data is finally coming to Snapchat, as the firm recently announced a new partnership with Nielsen that brings some 30,000 segments to marketers using the firm’s newest addition. AdAge

Inside the Mating Rituals of Brands and Online Stars

The New York Times examines influencer morality clauses and the rise of online stars from YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and others, with newfound brand credibility often following. The New York Times

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 27 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at lifestyle brands by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne – Marketoonist

How Kit Kat managed to turn a viral tweet into a branded proposal – SEO Roundtable

This Man Tried to Break the World Record for Paper Airplane Flight – Wired

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden – Natural Language Generation: The Future of Content Management – e-Spirit
  • Lee Odden – The Top 13 Content Marketing Influencers to follow in 2018 – JBH

What are some of your top influencer marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll return next week for the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.

The post Digital Marketing News: Smarty-Pants Speakers Drive Voice Search, YouTube’s Rejiggered Hashtags, & Google’s Word Count Wisdom appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Google Game Changers: 5 Recent Updates and How They Affect Marketers

2018 Google Updates & What They Mean for Marketers

2018 Google Updates & What They Mean for Marketers

Since the inception and rise of digital marketing, marketers have been keeping a watchful eye on Google – the ruler of the kingdom of search.

From research project to technology giant, over the last two decades Google has cemented itself as the dominating force in internet search. And while there are other rising contenders in the space, as of June 2018, Google owned 72.21% of all desktop searches. And the domination continues if you look at mobile, with Google owning a whopping 90.20% of searches.

Of course, Google’s market (and marketing) domination isn’t because of their speed to market in the late 90s, but rather the company’s dedication and investment in evolving the platform. And some of the latest evolutionary tweaks and new features are hitting soon – or have just recently arrived.

What are those changes and how will they affect your marketing plan? Below, we break down the latest and greatest game-changing updates from Google, what they mean for marketers, and how marketers can adapt.

#1 – HTTPS Warnings are In-Effect

While we’ve been talking about this for a while now (just see our Security as SEO post from August 2017), Google Chrome’s non-HTTPS pop-up warning went live in July 2018. Instead of serving non-HTTPS pages with just an information icon in the URL bar, Google will now serve users with a warning and potentially a pop-up alerting them that the website they’re on isn’t using a secure connection.

Google HTTPS Warnings

Image credit: Google

Of course, this shift towards site security isn’t new. In fact, back in January of 2016, Google announced that they were indexing HTTPS pages over HTTP pages, signaling to marketers that the security of your site will soon impact your rankings. The past algorithm changes coupled with the new warnings in Google Chrome means that leaving your site with an unsecure HTTP connection will likely cause traffic loss both organically and direct, as well as losing those hard-fought rankings.

To make sure that your site doesn’t take a hit to traffic or rankings, make sure you’ve upgraded to HTTPS. As an extra measure, check Google Search Console‘s Security Issues tool to check for other potential security threats.

Google Search Console Security Notice

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: HTTPS warning and pop-up goes live in Google Chrome.
  • What It Means: Organic traffic and rankings loss if your site is non-HTTPS.
  • Next Steps: Double check that your site is secure and upgrade to HTTPS if necessary.

#2 – Need for Speed

Over the last several years, Google has altered its algorithm to prioritize the user experience. Back in 2010, Google announced that desktop page speed was a ranking factor as poor load times create a bad user experience, which is something we covered in an interview with former Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye. Their latest update, which went into effect July 9, 2018, continues that trend as the algorithm will also account for mobile page speed as well.

But what pages are affected and how will it affect you?

According to Google, only the slowest pages will be affected. And to help you see if that includes you, they’ve launched their PageSpeed Insights tool where you can see how fast your pages load on mobile and how you can improve your load times.

PageSpeed Insights

With this new change, you need to make sure that your mobile page speed is up to par by entering your site URL into the PageSpeed Insights tool. Then, download your free report to see what improvements you can make to your site.

For example, the report may recommend that you optimize or compress your images to reduce the data consumption needed to load the page. Or, the report may suggest that you leverage caching. Whatever suggestions are made, implement them as soon as possible to ensure that your mobile rankings don’t suffer.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google now uses mobile page speed as a ranking factor for mobile searches.
  • What It Means: If you’re mobile pages have slow load times, your rankings could take a hit.
  • Next Steps: Use the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google to test your mobile page speed. Then, make the suggested changes the tool recommends like compressing images, using fewer scripts, or leveraging caches.

#3 – No More AdWords

That’s right, AdWords is no more. Instead, Google is merging all of their advertising products under one brand umbrella: Google Ads.

Why the change? Google says it’s to reduce the complexity associated with digital advertising. They want simpler products that make it easier to advertise on their platforms. And they’re rebranding shows their commitment to simplicity.

Google Ads isn’t just a rebranding, though. They’ve also announced new products, all focused on automation, including:

  1. Smart Campaigns (which we’ll explain more later)
  2. Universal App Campaigns
  3. Goal-Optimized Shopping Campaigns
  4. Automated Bidding
  5. Dynamic Search Ads

Through automation, Google hopes to introduce products that reduce the complex nature of digital advertising and instead create optimized ads with an easy user experience.

When it comes to your own campaigns, log into the new Google Ads platform and explore their new product offerings that leverage features like automation and machine learning. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, test out one of those new product offerings to see if Google is successful in creating easy-to-use ads that produce hard-to-achieve results.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google AdWords is now Google Ads and has more automated products.
  • What It Means: Automation means less time spent creating, managing, and optimizing your ad campaigns.  
  • Next Steps: Try out one of Google Ads new products to see if their automation and machine learning algorithms are successful in generating results.

#4 – Introducing: Smart Campaigns

Paid search advertising is a complicated business. From ad creative and copy to setting the right bid and objective, there are a lot of moving parts that impact the effectiveness of your ads. Well, Google wants to change that.

To continue their commitment to simplified digital advertising mentioned above, Google Ads is launching a new advertising type: Smart Campaigns. Smart Campaigns are automated ads that take care of ad creative and delivery based on the products, services, and goals that advertisers set. Through automation and machine learning Smart Campaigns will show ads to the right audiences using signals like behavior, location, devices, and others.

If you’ve ever struggled with your paid search campaigns or they just suck up too much of your time, this news is music to your ears. An automated ad campaign with the ability to optimize on the fly means you can create your Smart Campaign, monitor the performance, and watch Google make optimizations on your behalf.

And this new ad type works. Google’s Small Business Ads Lead, Kim Spalding, says that Smart Campaigns are three times more effective at reaching a target audience than AdWords Express campaigns.

So, give Smart Campaigns a try. You just might find more success than with traditional Google Ads products. And as always, be thoughtful about your goals and KPIs to determine if Smart Campaigns works for your business. Furthermore, we’d never recommend “setting and forgetting.” You need to monitor and ensure that the automated suggestions being served up are a right fit for your product/service, industry, and audience.

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: To simplify advertising, Google is launching fully automated Smart Campaigns.
  • What It Means: Advertisers can reduce the amount of time they spend creating and optimizing ads and instead leverage an automated ad campaign.
  • Next Steps: If you’re currently running any AdWords Express campaigns, consider a Smart Campaign instead. But remember you’ll need to monitor, not just set it and forget it, if you want to ensure the best results.

#5 – There’s More Data to Love

With GDPR in effect in the EU, Google and other software vendors have made changes to ensure their compliance (they also love letting us know that they’ve updated their privacy policy). But more importantly, GDPR stipulated new regulations around data retention, stating that companies cannot store data longer than necessary.  

As a result, Google, Mixpanel, and other analytics tools updated the amount of data is tracked and saved on their platforms. And a few months ago Google updated their data retention controls to 14 months, 26 months, 38 months, and 50 months with no options lasting longer than 50 months. This is a big change as Google Analytics previously tracked data for the entire history of the site.

Luckily, the latest announcement from Google is a data increase, not decrease.

Previously, Google Search Console’s search analytics only tracked the past 90 days. However, Google Data Studio (Google’s really cool and free dashboard builder), the search analytics API, and the Google Search Console beta now have 16 months of historical search analytics data. With more data to analyze, this update allows marketers to better track historical trends and patterns in their search rankings and performance.

Google Search Console Data Update

If you want to see your expanded search analytics data, the update is currently live in Google Data Studio, the search analytics API, and the beta Google Search Console Search Performance report. Not sure how to access the beta? Click on the link in the upper left-hand corner of the Google Search Console menu circled in red below:

The Key Takeaways

  • What’s New: Google will soon let you see 16 months of search analytics data.
  • What It Means: This new update makes it easier to see historical trends and patterns in your search rankings as there is more data to draw comparisons from.  
  • Next Steps: Start seeing 16 months of search analytics data by creating a report in Google Data Studio or logging into the Google Search Console beta.

Up Your Google Game

With the most popular internet browsers and the No. 1 site in the world, marketers need to stay up to date on new updates in Google in order to make sure that their content, ads, and site are being served effectively.

This latest round of updates means marketers need to make sure their sites are secure and load fast on mobile devices. In addition, Google has introduced new ad products and data to help you make the most of your digital advertising and search performance.

For more digital marketing news, subscribe to our YouTube channel or visit our digital marketing news archive for weekly news updates.

The post Google Game Changers: 5 Recent Updates and How They Affect Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Trust in Marketing is at Risk. These CMOs and Marketing Influencers Share How to Fix

CMO Half Life

The average tenure of a CMO is under 4 years representing a crisis in confidence amongst business leadership when it comes to marketing. Expectations for marketing are higher than ever amongst business leaders and customers alike.

To advance the valuable contributions marketing can make from boosting short term sales to growing long term market share, it is important for marketers to build trust and influence. But there are challenges:

  • A study from Fournaise Group that fond 73% of CEOs say “Marketers lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient growth and 80% of CEOs simply don’t trust marketers at all, while 91% do trust CIOs and CFOs.
  • New research from Marketing Week reports only 30% consider marketing ‘very important’ at large B2B companies.
  • Marketing as a career suffers some credibility issues as well. A global jobs poll by HubSpot ranked the most trustworthy jobs with Doctor ranking number one and near the bottom, just above Car Salesman and well below Barista, “Marketer”.
  • Marketing’s credibility amongst customers has been affected by some of the challenges facing media platforms – from fake news to inappropriate content to measurement. We’ve all seen stats like this one from Nielsen where 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations over advertising.
  • Within B2B, research from TrustRadius reports 58% of B2B buyers do not believe claims made by the vendors they most recently bought from.

Despite these challenges the reality is that well researched, planned and executed marketing delivers incredible value for businesses and their customers. Research from Forbes shows Marketing strategy and investments can contribute over 50% of enterprise value.

How can marketers do a better job at building trust with company executives and customers to inspire more confidence in marketing? This is a topic I presented on recently at the e4M TechManch conference in Mumbai, India. There I outlined 5 “secrets” to growing the influence of marketing which I’ll dig into more below. I also reached out to a mix of marketing executives to get their perspective on solving putting marketing back on the right track:

Julie Roehm

Simple answer. Honesty. I know it sounds trite but trust is earned and earned through honesty. As marketers and storytellers we often “spin” things to suit our needs. I think more honesty about the company you represent is the only way to succeed. People relate to flaws. It’s human. It’s honest. I’m not suggesting that we promote those, I’m suggesting we don’t hide them. Customers will find the truth regardless and then you’ll have broken the trust. Zappos is a good example. Transparency is written directly into the Zappos Family Core Values, in the statement, “Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication.”

Julie Roehm @jaroehm

Chief Experience Officer and CMO

ABRA

Kirsten Allegri Williams

In today’s digital environment, marketers are at the forefront of business. As marketers, we are operating in a new paradigm that represents a tipping point and allows us to own the voice of the customer through insights and develop personalized experiences across every touch point. Through insight-driven marketing, we have the ability to anticipate new, unexplored business opportunities and bring this value to the c-suite.

Today’s consumer expects us to know them: how they think, how they act, and that we listen to their buying signals. Our biggest opportunity is to create an environment where we connect our customers seamlessly and consistently to our company’s purpose and values – whether they experiencing content on our website or in-product, at an event or in digital selling. Ultimately, this helps us to develop a strong pipeline of customer-first product innovation.

Ultimately, every major brand must become its own media publishing company.

No longer can we develop content in a linear way (e.g. build… then run). With the ever-changing dynamics of our industry with new digital platforms, marketers need to embrace an agile marketing mindset. The idea that we can Test. Learn. Change…. all of the time, not just in pilots. Core content should not take 6-8 months to develop; but rather, build core anchor content that can be atomized across every content distribution channel. Ultimately, every major brand must become its own media publishing company.

Kirsten Allegri Williams @kirstenallegriw

Vice President, Corporate Marketing

SAP Ariba

Kieran Hannon

Trust, authority and credibility are earned as a result of programs developed and undertaken, with subsequent positive results. They are not just marketing programs, but must be contributing and supporting the company’s overall objectives. But, Marketers must protect their area of expertise. Everyone feels comfortable providing feedback to marketing programs, the onus is on the marketer to educate the “why”, but more importunately the “why not” when providing the feedback.

Kieran Hannon @kieranhannon

Chief Marketing Officer

Belkin International

Rishi Dave

Companies still view marketing primarily as a tactical, execution oriented discipline. This needs to change. Marketing has the most expansive view of how to drive growth.

Marketing has the most expansive view of how to drive growth.

Marketing needs to drive company-level corporate strategy and P&L decisions with a marketing mindset, not just an execution mindset.

Rishi Dave @RishiPDave

Past CMO

Dun & Bradstreet

Jeanniey Mullen

In today’s worlds its all about the quality of A.I.R. you create; Authentic, Inspirational and Realistic marketing will win over your internal and external customers. For B2B marketers your best brand advocates are your employees. For B2C, your customers will accept nothing less than personalized perfection. Achieve both by creating AIR.

Jeanniey Mullen @jeannieymullen

Partner, Global Chief Marketing Officer

Mercer

Margaret Magnarelli

Building credibility inside an organization is so important-alignment helps you get more effective results and also more budget!-but it’s not always so easy. The best way I’ve found get people onboard with your way of thinking is to do some marketing of your marketing. In other words, treat every relationship as if they were a customer.

Treat every relationship as if they were a customer.

What are the pain points for the people you’re working with and for? And how can you, through your job, help them solve these? Basically apply the golden rule of content marketing to your internal interactions: If you can provide value for someone, you develop trust.

Margaret Magnarelli @mmagnarelli

VP Marketing

Monster.com

Chandar Pattabhiram

There is no better time for marketing to gain credibility and trust. The field has shifted from a soft science to a programmatic science, making it more credible than ever before to quantify success with hard data. By showcasing sourced and influenced impact to designing compensation models for revenue success, not marketing success, we can transform the stature of marketing.

Chandar Pattabhiram @chandarp

CMO

Coupa Software

Michelle Killebrew

The best way to gain credibility is to speak plainly in the native tongue of your audience. Want credibility with consumers? Use layman’s terms. Want credibility with other executives within your company? Use business-focused outcomes and metrics. Save your marketing buzzwords for your next agency meeting or conference – and, even then, confirm you both mean the same thing when using those words <img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/2.4/72×72/1f609.png&quot; alt="

Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors

Friday, July 20, 2018 Digital Marketing News RankRanger Report Image

Report: Google’s mobile search results now show image thumbnails 45% of the time

Mobile Google users see image thumbnails in nearly half the search results shown, according to new report data. Should marketers consider placing greater importance on thumb images? Search Engine Land

Twitter’s bot purge welcomed by agency execs

Twitter recently deleted millions of spam and inactive accounts in an effort to improve the platform. Does the move increase credibility among marketers and influencers? DigiDay

Report: Social media sentiment not predictive of offline brand outcomes

New research looks into online and offline brand conversations and their effect on consumer sentiment, plus the motivations that drive them. Marketing Land

EU digital chief urges lawmakers to ease tough copyright stand

The European Union’s top digital advisor has asked E.U. lawmakers to relax stringent proposed copyright reforms. A look at warding off potential losses in creative technology industries by re-visiting rules for the digital age. Reuters

Millennials Want Brands With Values, But, Really, A Good Deal More

New report data reveals what millennials admire in brands, and takes a look at a variety of the social IQ factors that drive the demographic. MediaPost

Facebook says ‘tens of thousands’ of people opt in to take its user surveys every week

Facebook has said that each week tens of thousands of users fill out feedback surveys offered by the platform. What can marketers learn from how Facebook gathers and uses survey feedback? Marketing Land

July 20, 2018 Digital Marketing News Statistics Image

‘Father of modern marketing’ Philip Kotler on avoiding brand decay and preparing for disruption

Long-time marketing author Philip Kotler, sometimes called the father of modern marketing, has shared new thoughts about brand decay, disruption, and how satisfying needs better than anyone else is still as relevant as ever. Marketing Week

Facebook testing AR ads in the News Feed & new tool to help brands create video ads

Facebook is trialing augmented reality (A.R.) news-feed ads, and has announced that mobile video ads are also getting several new features. Marketing Land

Data shows people want serious long-form content – and brands need to take note

New research data reveals that many are craving weightier content, and how marketers are successfully battling today’s massive competition for engagement. The Next Web

Survey: Google, Facebook most influential

New survey data shows the continuing power of advertising on Facebook and Google. The digital ad trends report also offers up online consumer trends data sets. BizReport

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 20 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at vanity metrics by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne – Marketoonist

How Kit Kat managed to turn a viral tweet into a branded proposal – The Drum

Redheads finally get recognition with ginger emoji – The Next Web

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden – Forward-Thinking B2B Marketers Partner With Influencers To Create Cross-Channel, Long-Term Campaigns – Demand Gen Report
  • Ashley Zeckman and Lee Odden – How To Improve Content Amplification On The Cheap: Network – Heidi Cohen
  • Lee Odden – Amp Up Your Marketing with this Summer Reading List – Christina Giordano
  • Lee Odden – Tips to Take Your Social Media Business from Part Time to Full Time

    Andrea Vahl

  • Alexis Hall – Apply These 10 Cool Techniques to Increase Sales and Marketing ROI for your Small Business – Small Business Trends

What are some of your top influencer marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll return next week for the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Digital Marketing News: Twitter’s Bot Detox Fallout, Google’s Mobile Thumbs-Up, & Millennial’s Top Social IQ Factors appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount.”

This scathing remark, delivered by actor Jesse Eisenberg while portraying Mark Zuckerberg amidst a heated deposition in the 2010 film The Social Network, has a certain pertinence today with regards to the company Zuckerberg founded back in 2004.

As Facebook’s news feed algorithm becomes increasingly restricting for brands and publishers, many of us are finding it difficult to capture even the minimum amount of our audience’s attention on the platform.

The search for elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel has led some marketers to explore Facebook Groups as a way to stay visible with users. But it appears the more critical frontier may be Facebook Stories, a feature that is rapidly on the rise and – according to the company’s own top execs – represents the future of connection on Facebook.

[bctt tweet=”#FacebookStories – according to the company’s own top execs – represents the future of connection on #Facebook. #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

A Primer on Facebook Stories

The Social Network, referenced earlier, is a biographical drama depicting the inception of Facebook and the power struggles that took place. The film was extremely well received, earning eight Oscar nominations and winning three: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Film Editing.

Certain people portrayed in the movie have criticized its inaccuracies (it wasn’t exactly kind to Mr. Zuckerberg, as the opening quote in this post illustrates), and writer Aaron Sorkin doesn’t deny playing loose with the facts.

“I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth,” he told New York Magazine. “I want it to be to storytelling.”

A reputed screenwriter, Sorkin understands the power of stories, which have an ability to hook and captivate audiences in a way few other styles of communication can hope to match. This dynamic is undoubtedly driving the growth of “Stories” – series of images and videos played in succession, perfectly suited for mobile screens – across all social media platforms.

This chart via Block Party’s report, Beyond the News Feed: Why Stories Are Becoming the New Face of Social Media, visualizes the unmistakable trend well:

Facebook Stories Usage Trend

Interestingly, Snapchat – which largely sparked the popularity of this format when its “My Story” feature launched in 2014 – has remained stagnant while other players have gained fast traction. You can definitely count Facebook among them.

Originally rolled out on mobile in 2017, Facebook Stories made their way to desktop earlier this year and the feature now boasts 150 million daily active users. Like the versions on Instagram and Snapchat, this content is ephemeral – Facebook Stories and all of their comments disappear after 24 hours. But the convention itself is here to stay.

“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps,” said Zuckerberg (the real one, not the Eisenberg character) during a fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

This sentiment is shared by Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, who laid out a more specific and imminent timeline at the company’s annual conference in early May:

The increase in the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year.

Needless to say, this is a story marketers need to be tracking.

The Other Side of the Story

Okay, so we know that Stories are quickly becoming a mainstream method for sharing content on social media, and we know that Facebook is making a firm commitment to the format. What does all this mean to us as marketers?

Add to Your Facebook Story

This is definitely a tool that companies can use, if they are so inclined. You have the ability to post them from your brand page, and (at least for now) it may increase your content’s odds of getting noticed. Relatively speaking, this feature isn’t being used all that much, and Facebook’s clear emphasis on growing it means that Stories are carving prime real estate above the news feed.

Some view this as the next great social media marketing opportunity on the platform. Earlier this year, Bud Torcom wrote in a piece at Forbes that Facebook Stories are “like California’s mines and creeks before the 1849 gold rush.” He sees this format transforming campaigns through experimentation, experiential marketing, influencer integration, and visual pizzazz.

Michelle Cyca sees similar potential, as she wrote on the HootSuite blog, calling Stories “a way to reconnect with users who aren’t seeing your content in their Newsfeed the same way” and calling out examples of campaigns that drove lifts in awareness by incorporating the tactic.

The idea of added organic reach is enticing (if fleeting, knowing that the onset of ads will turn this – like all Facebook marketing initiatives – into a pay-to-play space), but what really intrigues me about Stories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity.

Facebook Stories Examples
Facebook Stories Examples from ModCloth and Mashable.

It’s a very cool method for visual storytelling. It’s a low-barrier entry point for social video (no one is expecting premium production quality on these). And it presents an accessible avenue for toying with emerging technologies – most notably, augmented reality, which is being strongly integrated into Facebook Stories in another step down the road Snapchat has paved.

[bctt tweet=”The idea of added organic reach is enticing, but what really intrigues me about #FacebookStories is the almost infinite grounds for creativity. – @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Where Does the Story Go Next?

“You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down.”

This advice – delivered to Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg by Justin Timberlake’s Sean Parker in The Social Network – referred to Zuck’s budding Facebook venture, but could just as easily apply to any social media marketer eyeing Stories as a way to connect with their audience.

The downside is minimal. What have you got to lose? A little time and effort, perhaps. The possible benefits are extensive however. These include:

  • Prioritized placement on user feeds
  • Engaging bite-sized video content
  • Powerful visual storytelling for brands
  • Ability to experiment with new content styles and emerging tech like AR
  • Gaining familiarity with a format that could well represent the future of social marketing

More than anything, though, Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention – maybe even more than the minimum amount.

[bctt tweet=”#FacebookStories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention – maybe even more than the minimum amount. – @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing” username=”toprank”]

And since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first. Just ask the Winklevoss twins.

At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about helping companies tell their stories through a wide variety of digital channels and tactics. Give us a shout if you’d like to hear more.

What are you thoughts on the future of Facebook stories? Tell us in the comments section below.

The post The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing?

Quality in Content Marketing

Quality in Content Marketing

Have you heard the good news about quality content? It’s the latest innovation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s going to revolutionize your content marketing efforts. If your current strategy is to crank out crappy content, then quality content is going to blow your KPIs away!

Okay, sarcasm aside: Every content marketer knows their content needs to be good to be effective. We call it “quality,” or “value,” or “usefulness.” But all of these traits can vary widely depending on your audience. For example, conventional wisdom might say that 500-word blog posts don’t connect with readers. But that word count may be just the right length for the people you want to reach.

So, when we get into the specifics, quality is relative and highly subjective. But it’s possible to define quality content marketing in a more universal way:

Quality content demonstrates to your audience that you are listening to them.

It’s that simple. Well, one step further:

Quality content demonstrates that you’re listening and you care.

We often think about what action we want readers to take. That’s a valid question; in fact, it’s the foundation of content marketing strategy. But for quality content we need to consider the flip side: How will the reader’s life be better after reading this content? Or, to really boil it down: What’s in it for them?

That’s the essence of quality content. And here’s how you can make sure your content passes the test. First, at the broadest level, there are two minimum requirements for quality:

All Content Marketing Should Be …

#1: Hyper-Relevant

We talk a lot about best answer content at TopRank Marketing, content that:

  • Serves a proven search need
  • Addresses a customer’s burning questions
  • Is substantial and comprehensive

Basically, it means that you’re putting in time and effort into researching your audience, what they need and how they’re searching for it. Then you’re crafting content that acknowledges that search and makes a genuine attempt to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

#2: Non-Promotional

It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. Quality content has to be non-promotional. Now, some brands take this advice to heart, but create content that’s still promotional, just with a thin veneer of solving a problem. They’ll publish a “10 Ways to Be Better at X,” but each way just leads to their solution. That’s a cheat.

Real customer-centered content gives away valuable information that people can use even if they never buy from you.  For example, here’s Quicksprout’s “Advanced Guide to Content Marketing.” It’s massive. It’s ungated. Only a tiny fraction of it is related to the solutions they sell.

Advanced Guide to Content Marketing Example

Of course, your content mix should include some bottom-of-funnel content that will show how your brand solves a problem. But the majority of your content should focus on the reader.

[bctt tweet=”It’s hard to convince people you’re listening to them if all you can talk about is how great you are. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

So, quality content demonstrates to your reader that you’re listening and care about them. It does this by being hyper-relevant and non-promotional. It’s a good working definition, but still a little vague. Here are five ways you can approach content to guarantee quality:

Five Ways to Create Quality Content

#1: Tell a Story

Humans are storytelling animals. We’re wired to process narratives, to get pleasure from a good tale and retain the information within it. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. Tell a story that shows your reader you understand what their world is like. Tell a story that shows you understand what they wish their world was like. Even better, make them (or someone very much like them) the star of the story.

[bctt tweet=”We’re wired to process narratives. This is why people have a favorite novel or movie, but few have a favorite white paper or instruction manual. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Read: Be Honest Like Abe: How Content Marketers Can Build Trust Through Storytelling

#2: Show Vulnerability

One of the quickest ways to make an emotional connection is to reveal your own shortcomings. Everyone has moments of failure; they’re what makes us human. Use your brand’s failings, and the lessons learned from them, to connect with the reader and help them improve.

The Buffer team is great at the kind of honest, meaningful discussion I’m talking about here. Their “5 Times We Failed at Diversity Big Time (and How We Fixed It)” is a good starting example.

Buffer Quality Content Example

#3: Help Them Look Smart at Work

What do most working people have in common, regardless of industry, function or seniority level? We all want to look good in front of our boss. If you are the boss, you want to look good in front of shareholders. Everyone can benefit from a little competitive edge, a tip or a trick or a bit of wisdom they can pull out at the next meeting.

#4: Help Make Their Job Easier

Another thing all working people have in common is that we would prefer to not work so hard. Anything that can help us get the job done quicker, with less effort, without sacrificing quality, is incredibly valuable. Keep that idea in mind when writing checklists, tools and tips, or how-to posts. It’s not just “here’s how you do this,” it’s “here’s how you do this better, regardless of your current skill level.”

#5: Help Them Improve Themselves

Your audience’s lives are bigger than their interaction with your brand. They’re bigger than the pain points your brand has the expertise to solve. If you can reach out to the broader sphere of their life experience, you can bring quality in new and unexpected ways.

This piece from LinkedIn’s* Jason Miller, “How to Survive a Mid-Career Crisis in Marketing,” is a stellar example. It’s a guide that’s not really about marketing at all; it’s about finding your true voice and pursuing passion. Bonus: Notice that the piece tells a story and shows vulnerability, too.

LinkedIn Quality Content Example

Quality Is Job One

Have you ever said to anyone, “I consumed some quality content the other day?” I sincerely hope not. Instead, you likely said, “I saw the greatest article,” or “Check out this cool video.” When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise.

That’s the only type of content we should be in the business of making. Not just because it gets better results – it does, but that’s only part of the equation. When we create quality content, that means the work we do is useful, valuable, and meaningful. Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time doing otherwise.

[bctt tweet=”When content is useful, valuable, and meaningful, it’s not part of the deluge of content that surrounds us. It’s signal, not noise. – @NiteWrites #ContentMarketing” username=”toprank”]

Create content that connects. Check out these 10 powerful lessons in resonance from some of the industry’s top marketing minds.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post What Does ‘Quality’ Really Mean in Content Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh

Facebook's New Custom Snooze Tool

Google leans more on algorithms for ads as critics highlight risks

Google has unveiled a slew of new ad-buying tools that incorporate machine learning, and expanded availability of a utility for running the best text-based search result ads. What will the new ad tools announced Tuesday offer for digital marketers? Reuters

Facebook Adds Keyword ‘Snooze’ Option to Help User Avoid Spoilers

Facebook has launched a new feature allowing users to hide certain words, effectively snoozing them for 30 days. How might marketers be affected? Social Media Today

Google’s New Speed Update Works On Gradual Scale; Small Improvements Matter

Google has shared information about its latest search algorithm update, which has a greater focus on site load speed that takes into account even the smallest increased efficiencies. SEO Roundtable

500px Nukes 1M+ Creative Commons Photos

Popular image hosting firm 500px has removed access to over a million Creative Commons photos, as part of its move urging marketers to instead use Getty Images and VCG. PetaPixel

Google announces Google Marketing Platform Partners program

Google announced the consolidation of its marketing partner program, with individuals, companies, and sales partners on a new approved-training list. Marketing Land

Internet mainstay StumbleUpon shuts its doors

One-time Internet mainstay StumbleUpon has finally shuttered its 16-year-old service, while the site’s founders simultaneously launched a new content aggregation site, Mix. Fast Company

July 13, 2018 Statistics Images

Instagram Releases New Guide to Creating and Uploading IGTV Content

Instagram has put out a new video tip and content-creation guide for digital marketers looking to use the company’s recently-released IGTV long-form video platform. Social Media Today

LinkedIn adds QR codes to make sharing your profile easier

LinkedIn (client) has implemented QR-code-based profile sharing to make it easier for users to swap links via apps, websites, lanyards, and other means, a move that comes in conjunction with the company’s recent major language translation feature. Engadget

Instagram is testing a persistent Stories bar that follows you down the feed

Instagram has bumped up the on-screen visibility of its Stories bar with the test of a version that keeps following users as they scroll through their feeds. Will marketers find it helpful or annoying? The Verge

“I Was Devastated”: The Man Who Created the World Wide Web Has Some Regrets

“Get out your broomstick,” was among Web-creator Tim Berners-Lee insights as he offered up his latest thoughts on the future of the Internet. Vanity Fair

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

Marketoonist Tom Fishburne July 13 Cartoon

A lighthearted look at innovation dreamers, realists, and spoilers by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne – Marketoonist

Punk Algorithm Tells You What’s Not Trending – The Hard Times

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Lee Odden – The Top 5 Content Marketers and What You Can Learn From Them – Entrepreneur
  • Lee Odden – 10 Common Reasons Why Influencer Marketing Campaigns Fail

    Social Media Today

  • Lee Odden – Influencers and Media Partners: How to amplify the reach of content – Orbit Media

What are some of your top content marketing news items for this week?

Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll return next week for another round-up of the latest digital marketing news, and in the meantime you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news. Also, don’t miss the full video summary on our TopRank Marketing TV YouTube Channel.


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Digital Marketing News: Google’s New Ad Tools, Facebook’s Snoozefest, and LinkedIn’s QR Code Refresh | http://www.toprankblog.com

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CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success

While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell.

This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced by the research firm’s findings.

So it is quite fitting that Heather Pemberton Levy, who helps guide Gartner’s strategic direction as VP of Content Marketing, champions the “Story Comes First” method. This concept served as a framework for her 2016 book, Brand, Meet Story: How to Create Engaging Content to Win Business and Influence Your Audience, and will also be in play during her workshop at Content Marketing World, entitled “From 0 to 60: Building a Mature B2B Content Marketing Organization.”

We talk frequently on our blog about the crucial importance of storytelling – recently we discussed its impact as a trust-building tool – so we’re definitely on board with letting relatable narratives lead the way in content. We are eager to hear how Pemberton Levy and her team have woven this directive, and other elements, into the process of building Gartner’s highly-trafficked content hub from the ground up.

While we wait for her September session, we did have a chance to ask Pemberton Levy for her views on some important content marketing topics. Here’s what she had to say about flipping the traditional marketing model, the value of “version 0.5,” lessons learned from writing a mommy blog, and more.

What does your role as Vice President of Content Marketing at Gartner entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?

I lead content marketing for global marketing campaigns and the Smarter with Gartner and Gartner.com platforms. Gartner equips business leaders across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size, with the insights, advice and tools to achieve their top priorities. I manage a global team of contributors who create original content for all major business categories in the form of articles, infographics, eBooks, and videos based on Gartner’s proprietary insights.

My main area of focus is to ensure that our content is valuable to senior business leaders while meeting our key marketing priorities to attract prospects, engage and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. This involves continuously evolving our editorial and platform strategies, working with stakeholders throughout the organization, and evangelizing content marketing within the broader corporate marketing function.

You created the “Story Comes First” method. How does this flip the conventional marketing model and why is it important?

The Story Comes First method creates a structure for creating content that always begins with a story your reader can identify with and uses this moment to bridge their point of view with your brand’s unique selling point. Many marketers still talk about their products and services in terms of what they can do for their audience rather than what the audience cares about, why that’s important and how their solution can help solve the problem. Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy.


Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld

Click To Tweet


How has social media changed the game for brand storytelling?

Brands are no longer dependent on publicity with traditional media to influence target audiences. Social media gave brands their own “subscriber lists,” effectively giving them their own distribution channels for content marketing.

You’ll be presenting at CMWorld on building a mature B2B content marketing organization. What, from your view, are the hallmarks of maturity on this front?

In my three years building a content marketing organization with my colleagues at Gartner, my views have evolved on what signals content marketing maturity in a complex global organization.

First, if you dig into your analytics, the data may tell a different story than what you see on the first page of your dashboard report. It’s not easy to get the right analytics so it’s important to constantly lobby for good data and pay attention to it.

Second, what people do with your content may be different than what you intended. If you’re willing to listen to the data, it will be necessary, at times, to upend your strategy and head in a new direction.


What people do with your content may be different than what you intended. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld

Click To Tweet


Which content marketing metrics and KPIs do you think are most critical to growth?

Rather than list specific KPIs, which is a longer discussion that I will cover in the workshop, I’ll note that it’s important to be crystal clear what you are measuring and why. Our content marketing strategy centers around three key objectives and we have specific KPIs and related metrics for each objective. Everyone on my team is measured based on these objectives and KPIs. This is the best way to work towards the right priorities for the organization.

What are some shortcuts you’ve identified in your career when it comes to striving toward content marketing maturity?

One of the hallmarks of Gartner corporate strategy is to “get to version 0.5 and then test” and improve from there. This philosophy has allowed us to be agile and put new ideas into the marketplace quickly to learn what works. It’s how Smarter With Gartner was built and we constantly remind ourselves that when we are planning a new strategic direction, it’s best to find a way to do something quickly with low impact on resources first and build it out further based on data from our audience.

Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?

I wrote a mommy blog for four years that helped me learn how to tell stories and use dialog – all of which I brought to my content marketing career. The experience reminded me that I am an editor and publisher at heart and helped me find ways to create content, eventually for brands.

My takeaway for other content marketers is to read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work. You never know how it will fit but it’s important to stay exposed to the masters of our craft.


Read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work.@heathrpemberton #CMWorld

Click To Tweet


Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?

I’m looking forward to the sessions on creating video since the format takes time and resources to make standout content. I’m also excited for the keynotes by Amber Guild of The New York Times Company and, of course, Tina Fey.

Story Comes First. What’s Next?

We’ll find out when Pemberton Levy takes the stage in Cleveland. In the meantime, we recommend tapping into illuminating insights from her and many other content marketing leaders in The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing:


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The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, all the way back to 2007.

The world was a different place. Rihanna’s “Umbrella” (ella, ella) dominated the Billboard Charts. Scorsese’s masterpiece The Departed won Best Picture. Facebook was only a year removed from opening its membership to the general public, and Twitter was a fledgling startup, still looking to gain traction.

But even then, online polls were already emerging as an intriguing tool for digital marketers. On this blog, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden penned a post about the relatively nascent tactic, which could be utilized through a modest WordPress plugin.

“If you want to know what your users are thinking,” Lee wrote. “Just ask them.”

It’s a simple premise, and one that hasn’t changed over the past decade, although the tools at our disposal have evolved considerably. Today, audience polls are integrated features on most major social media networks.

As marketers seek new ways to drive engagement and gather data, the allure of social media polls is obvious.

Let’s take a look at how polls work on each platform, what kind of value they can provide, and how to get the most out of them.

The Polling Details

Twitter Polls

Users on Twitter could informally run polls in the platform’s early days – by manually tracking responses, hashtags, or retweets – but the official Twitter polls feature was launched in 2015. This made it easy to create sleek, interactive, customized polls with two (and later up to four) options.

Lee frequently runs polls like this one on Twitter to gauge the opinions of his followers on various subjects:

Lee Odden Poll Example

What Makes Twitter Polls Engaging

Staying in line with the overall appeal of Twitter, polls are extremely easy to participate in – one quick click of the mouse or tap of the mobile screen.

How to Get Twitter Polls Right

Knowing that the platform is built around quick-scrolling and bite-sized content, you’ll want to to ensure these polls are light on text, and eye-catching. Maybe include a couple of emojis, like HootSuite does here:

Hootsuite Poll Example

Instagram Polls

In 2017, Instagram rolled out its own polling convention, which became a part of its Stories feature. Instagram polls are added in the form of interactive stickers with two options that you can drag-and-drop on visual content you’ve created.

As is the nature of the platform, polls will usually pertain to the content of the post in question. (“Which color shirt do you like better?” or – in the example below via the company’s official announcement post – “Which donut should I eat?”)

Example of Instagram Stories Poll

(*Extremely Homer Simpson voice* Mmm, donuts…)

What Makes Instagram Polls Engaging

This is an excellent avenue for quickly gathering feedback around something people can see right in front of them. And you’ll have many options for making them stand out aesthetically.

How to Get Instagram Polls Right

If you have a sizable and engaged Instagram following, you could enlist your audience to help guide a decision (a la M&Ms). Customers might be more attached to what you’re doing if they feel like they played even a small part in directing it.

You may also try using polls for more general topics or market research – Instagram does have an enormous and active user base, after all – but the way it’s set up doesn’t lend itself to such applications as well as the other platforms mentioned here.

Facebook Polls

Very shortly after polls were introduced for Instagram last year, parent company Facebook released its own version for members and page administrators. Like Instagram, it only offers two response fields (presently), but does have some nice features like the ability to include images and gifs. Businesses might consider trying out more robust third-party apps Polls for Pages.

Example of Facebook Polls

What Makes Facebook Polls Engaging

Driving engagement on Facebook, as a publisher, has become very challenging. You likely know this already. Polls can be helpful in this regard.

A study by BuzzSumo found that questions rank as the most engaging types of posts on Facebook. Partially because of this, Neil Patel has argued that “a well-designed Facebook poll is one of the most powerful Facebook marketing tools today’s social media marketers have available to them.”

How to Get Facebook Polls Right

You’re competing with content from friends and family members in highly personalized feeds, so you’ll want a poll that stands out and bears considerable relevance to your audience. Take advantage of the ability to use images or moving graphics for voting options.

While polls can be more impactful than a standard text-based update, your organic reach will still be somewhat limited by Facebook’s suppressive algorithm unless you really catch some viral traction or pay to boost the post.

What About Other Platforms?

As of now, these are the only three social networks with built-in polls. LinkedIn used to have a Group polls feature, but retired it in 2014 (much to the chagrin of B2B marketers). Snapchat and Pinterest have never offered polls.

Best Practices for Social Media Polls

In the sections above we mentioned some distinctions and pointers specific to each platform. But at a higher level, here are a few recommendations for marketers looking to use social media polls.

#1 – Pique Your Audience’s Interest

One thing I really like about the poll features on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is the immediate incentive factor for participants. Voting on a poll allows you to instantly see real-time results. I know there have been plenty of times where I’ve come across one on my feed and clicked because I was very curious to see what the general consensus was.

Keep this irresistibility factor in mind as you create poll questions and response options.

#2 – Use Polls as a Springboard for Content

Let’s be honest: this isn’t exactly a scientific survey method, and the data obtained through social media polls isn’t going to be substantial enough to draw serious conclusions. However, you can still leverage the results in interesting ways.

In May, Search Engine Journal ran the following Twitter poll:

SEJ Poll Example

Then, they used the results (and responses) for an article on the topic. It was, transparently, just a sampling of feedback from random followers, but still made for a good read. Using the poll question as the post title also happens to be a savvy SEO move in this case, since it’s exactly the query a business owner might type into Google.

You can also simply poll your audience to ask earnestly what kind of content they want from you, as Slack* did here:

Slack Poll Example

#3 – Choose a Fitting Platform for Each Poll

Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses. Make sure your polls align with them. Instagram and Facebook will only work for A/B type questions, which can be limiting. Twitter provides more of a multi-choice format but you can’t incorporate images or video into the voting options. And of course, each channel has its own distinct audience profile.   

#4 – Think Strategically

In many cases, the objective for a running a poll will simply be to attract attention and boost engagement. Nothing wrong with that. But you can also think bigger and tie it to other goals. For example, you could run a Facebook poll with a trivia question, prompting voters to visit your website and find the answer.

Think big and, when possible, tie your poll to a larger strategy.

#5 – Follow Up on Results

Granted, it doesn’t take a ton of effort to vote in a social media poll, but users are still taking an action and you should make it worth their while in some way. One method is to create content around the tabulations, as mentioned earlier.

But even following up with later posts remarking on the results, or inviting further thoughts, will show that it you’re not just tossing out throwaway questions for the heck of it. It will signal that you’re genuinely engaged with what your audience has to say and that you want to hear more.

What’s Your Poll Position?

Now that you know a little more about social media polls and how they work on each platform, where do you stand? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Let us know below (and, hey, we’d love it if you gave us a follow on Twitter while you’re at it).

TopRank Marketing Social Poll

Interested in finding other ways to increase your social media reach and engagement? Check out these recent posts from our blog:

Disclosure: Slack is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.