Archive | May 2016

Will Intelligent Personal Assistants Replace Websites?

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz

Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) are capable of radically disrupting the way we search for and consume information on the Internet. The convergence of several trends and technologies has resulted in a new interface through which people will be able to interact with your business. This will have a dramatic impact — if your long-term marketing/business plan doesn’t account for IPAs, you may be in the same boat as those people who said they didn’t need a website in the early 2000s.

Your website is an API to your business

If we look to pre/early Internet, then the primary interface to most businesses was the humble phone. Over the phone you could speak to a business and find out what they had in stock, when they’d be open, whether they had space for your reservation, etc., and then you could go on to order products, ask for directions, or place reservations. The phone was an interface to your business, and your phone line and receptionist were your “API” — the way people interacted with your business.

As the Internet matured and the web gained more traction, it increasingly became the case that your website empowered users to do lots of those same things that they previously did via the phone. They could get information and give you money, and your website became the new “API” for your business, allowing users to interact with it. Notice this didn’t necessitate the death of the phone, but lots of the requests that previously came via phone now came via the web, and there was also a reduction in friction for people wanting to interact with your business (they didn’t have to wait for the phone line to be free, or speak to an actual human!).

Since then, the web has improved as technologies and availability have improved, but fundamentally the concept has stayed the same. Until now.

The 5 tech giants have all built an intelligent personal assistant

The 5 tech giants have all built an Intelligent Personal Assistant

Intelligent Personal Assistants apps such as Google Now, Siri, Cortana, and Facebook M — as well as the newer appliances such as Amazon Echo, the new Google Home, and the rumored Apple Siri hardware — are going to have a profound effect on the way people search, the types of search they do, and the way they consume and act upon the results of those searches.

New entries, such as Hound and Viv, show that intelligent personal assistants are growing beyond just something phone makers are adding as a feature, and are becoming a core focus.

In the last couple of years we’ve discussed a variety of new technologies and their impact on search; a number of these are all feeding into the rise of these personal assistants.

Trend 1: More complex searches

The days of searches just being a keyword are long since over. The great improvements of natural language processing, driven by improvements in machine learning, have meant that conversational search has become a thing and we have seen Hummingbird and RankBrain becoming building blocks of how Google understands and handles queries.

Furthermore, implicit signals have also seen the rise of anticipatory queries with Google Now leading the way in delivering you search results based off of your context without you needing to ask.

Contributing technologies & trends:

  • Implicit Signals
  • Natural Language
  • Conversational Search
  • Hummingbird & RankBrain

Watch this video of Will Critchlow speak about these trends to hear more.

Trend 2: More complex results

Search results have moved on from 10 blue links to include the Knowledge Graph, with entities and direct answers being a familiar part of any search result. This has also meant that, since the original Siri, we’ve seen a search interface that doesn’t even do a web search for many queries but instead gives data-driven answers right there in the app. The earliest examples were queries for things like weather, which would turn up a card right there in the app.

Finally, the rise of conversational search has made possible complex compound queries, where queries can be revised and extended to allow the sorting, filtering, and refining of searches in a back and forth fashion. This phase of searching used to be something you did by reviewing the search results manually and sifting through them, but now search engines understand (rather than justindex) the content they discover and can do this step for you.

Contributing technologies & trends:

  • Entities / Direct Answers
  • Faceted search
  • Data driven answers

You may like Distilled’s Searchscape which has information and videos on these various trends.

Trend 3: Bots, conversational UI, and on-demand UIs

More recently, with the increased interest in bots (especially sinceFacebook’s F8 announcement), we can see a rise in the number of companies investing in various forms of conversational UI (see this article and this one).
Bots and conversational UI provide a new interface which lends itself to all of the benefits provided by natural language processing and ways of presenting data-driven answers.

Note that a conversational UI isn’t limited to purely a spoken or natural language interface, but can also provide an “on demand” UI for certain situations (see this example screenshot from Facebook, or the Siri/Fandango cinema ticket example below).

Contributing technologies & trends:

  • Conversational UI
  • Bots
  • On-demand UIs within the IPA interface

Trend 4: 3rd-party integration

Going back to the first versions of Siri or Google Now, there were no options for 3rd-party developers to integrate. They could only do a limited set of actions based on what Apple or Google had explicitly programmed in.

However, over time, the platforms have opened up more and more, such that apps can now provide functionality within the intelligent personal assistant on the same app.

Google Now, Amazon Echo, Cortana, and Siri (not quite — but rumored to be coming in June) all provide SDKs (software development kits), allowing 3rd-party developers to integrate into these platforms.

This is an opportunity for all of us integrate directly into the next generation search interface.

What’s the impact of all this?

More searches as friction reduces

Google published an (under-reported) paper on some of the research and work that went into Google Now, which when combined with their daily information needs study indicates how hard they’re trying to encourage and enable users to do searches that previously have not been possible.

The ability of intelligent personal assistants to fulfil more complex search queries (and of “always listening” search appliances like Amazon Echo and Google Home) to remove the friction of doing searches that were previously “too much work” means we’ll see a rise in search queries that simply wouldn’t have happened previously. So rather than cannibalizing web-based searches that came before, a large segment of the queries to IPAs will be wholly new types of searches.

Web rankings get bypassed, go straight to the top

As more and more people search via personal assistants, and with personal assistants trying to deliver answers directly in their interface, we’ll see an increasing number of searches that completely bypass web search rankings. As 3rd-party integration becomes more widespread, there will be an increasing number of dynamic queries that personal assistants can handle directly (e.g. “where can I buy The Martian?,” “flights to Berlin,” or “order a pepperoni pizza”).

This is a massive opportunity — it does not matter how many links and how much great content your competitor has to help them in “classical SEO” if you’ve integrated straight into the search interface and no web search is ever shown to the user. You can be the only search result shown.

The classic funnel gets compressed; checking out via IPAs

This part is probably the most exciting, from my perspective, and I believe is the most important from the impact it’ll have on users and businesses. People have modeled “the funnel” in a variety of different ways over time, but one common way to look at it is:

The search is separate to the browsing/checkout process, and that checkout process happens via a website. Apps have had some impact on this classic picture, but so far it hasn’t been a big part.

However, conversational search/UI combined with the ability for developers to integrate directly into IPAs opens up a huge opportunity to merge the interfaces for the search step and the steps previously fulfilled by the website (browsing and checking out). There are already examples of the funnel being compressed:

In this example, using Siri, you can see I was able to search for movies playing nearby, pick a particular movie and cinema, then pick a particular showing and, finally, I can click to buy, which takes me to the Fandango app. I am most of the way through the checkout process before I leave the intelligent personal assistant app interface. How long until I can do that final step and actually check out inside the personal assistant?

Integrating with intelligent personal assistant apps currently normally happens via the app model (i.e. you build an app that provides some functionality to the assistant), but how long until we see the possibility to integrate without needing to build an app yourself — the intelligent personal assistant will provide the framework and primary interface.


Intelligent Personal Assistants bring together all the recent developments in search technology, and as integration options improve, we will see an increasing number of queries/transactions go end-to-end entirely inside the personal assistant itself.

People will conduct searches, review data, and make purchases entirely inside that one interface, completely bypassing web search (already happening) and even checking out inside the personal assistant (within the next 12 months) and thus bypassing websites.

IPAs represent an absolutely massive opportunity, and it would be easy to underestimate the impact they will have (in the same way many people underestimated mobile initially). If you’ve been on the fence about building an app, you should re-evaluate that decision, with a focus on apps being the way they can integrate into intelligent personal assistants.

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The Highly Effective Marketing Tool You’re Probably Overlooking

CREDIT: Getty Images

Ever wondered if white papers are really as effective as stats and surveys say they are?

The latest B2B Media Consumption survey by TechTarget reports that 91% of 2,430 IT buyers consider white papers as the second most effective content to use in the first stage of a buying decision process after product literature.

Another recent survey by Eccolo Media featured 100 respondents who pinpointed 10 different forms of content that are most helpful in their sales cycle.

Of all the 10 types of content polled-;from case studies, videos, infographics, blogs, eBooks, webinars to e-newsletters-;respondents ranked white papers as the most helpful content that they use in the initial phase of the sales cycle.

And on top of all that, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs (in their popular 2016 B2B marketing survey) found that 63% of b2b companies see white papers as one of the most effective forms of content used in their organization (above videos, eNewsletters, blogs, infographics and online presentations).

But do white papers truly worth all that preference? For answers, I reached out to three b2b companies and they all shared their how they use white papers to improve their marketing success:

1. Increase in unique visitors and downloads by writing papers on topics that would capture prospects’ interest

Albert Pusch, Marketing Director at FACT-Finder, shares how creating white papers on topics that he (and his team) knew would capture their prospects’ interest led to them generating in an interesting amount of leads.

“In the first period starting in autumn 2013, we wrote white papers on topics that we knew would capture the interest of our potential customers. What we experienced in return was an increase in unique visitors via our download-pages in the first few months.

We generated a pretty impressive amount of emails from those downloads. And we learned quite quickly how to get from those emails to identifying our potential customers, estimate their need and pain, send sweet and nice follow-up emails and push them into seeing our demos. The close relation with sales was a blessing.”

2. Creating white papers that help clients navigate in today’s changing business environment, thereby generating leads

Prospects are always on the lookout for new and better ways to do their businesses as changes occur in their industries. This is where white papers become useful for them.

Sara Spivey, CMO at Bazaarvoice, shares how she (and her team) uses white papers to walk prospects through the changes in today’s business environment, and generate leads in return:

“Your clients are looking for answers and experienced partners to help them navigate an always-on, changing business environment. Since Bazaarvoice opened its doors in 2005, we’ve explored a variety of different ways to translate customer pain points and successes into useful and relevant content that educates our clients and builds our brand at the same time.

“And while white papers make up only a portion of our owned content mix, they are absolutely crucial for achieving our lead generation and client obsession goals. Two of our best performing whitepapers from this last year include “Conversation Index 9” and “Top 5 Consumer Driven Trends in Retail”. Each of these contains insights derived from our network and stories that address the complexity of today’s business challenges.”

3. Educating prospects, generating high quality leads and repurposing content

Sometimes, prospects don’t get to see the core function of your brand or product – especially if it’s a relatively complex one – until they read up content that will give them an in-depth explanation.

Nicolai Kuban, CEO at Linkbird, explains how he (and his crew) uses white papers to thoroughly explain Linkbird’s relatively complex offerings and generate high quality leads. He added that the opportunity to repurpose the white papers into other forms of content is another huge plus:

“For Linkbird, white papers are an extremely efficient way to generate prospects for our content marketing software. With our white papers, we are able to generate high quality leads on one hand and educate potential clients on the other hand. Besides webinars and infographics, whitepapers are the heart of our content marketing strategy as they also allow us a lot of content repurposing into blog posts or slideshares.”

In a nutshell

Using the tips from the stories above and avoiding common white paper mistakes can enhance your marketing success.

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6 Simple Tricks To Make More Money From Your Blog

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Are you getting traffic to your blog, but still struggling to make a good income?

Blogging is a great career option but only if you do it the right way. Of course, everything starts withproviding great content to your readers and steadily growing your traffic. Once you have decent traffic to your blog and a loyal audience, it’s time to focus on the revenue.

You may have heard a lot of people say that your blog revenue is directly proportional to the traffic coming in, but that’s not really true. It’s all about executing the money-making ideas in the right way.

So here are six marketing tips to make more money from your blog:

1. Place your ads better

Placing ads on your website is not enough, you have to place ads where your readers are more likely to click on them.

Before placing an advertisement, ask yourself why the readers are here and where exactly you should place the ads so that they don’t hamper the user experience and yet, are starkly visible.

Here are a few ideas for ad placement for a better click-through-rate:

  • Sidebar banner
  • Above a blog post title
  • Right below the post title
  • Between different sections of your post
  • At the end of your post, above the author bio

But, of course, every website is different, and that is why I would recommend checking your website’s heat map which could tell you where exactly your users tend to click more, and that is where you should place the majority of your ads.

I also recommend checking Google’s ad placement policies at regular intervals so you can stay on top of any changes. Also, it’s in Google’s best interests to make sure the user experience isn’t affected, so you won’t have to worry about bothering your readers either if you follow their guidelines.

Here is an image that depicts the best places to put ads, the darker the orange the better the placement;

ad placement for make more money from your blog

Image Source: Shout Me Loud

2. Go beyond AdSense

Yes, Google AdSense generates the most intuitive ads for your readers, since Google already knows what the readers have been searching and surfing. But, with a minimum payout threshold of $100 and a difficult approval process, it doesn’t hurt to look at some other options as well.

Here a few ad platforms you should definitely consider (all of them work alongside AdSense):


With in-text and in-frame ads, Infolinks can monetize your blog in a completely different way. Getting approval on Infolinks is extremely easy and there is a minimum payout of $50 through PayPal.


This is one of the premier ad platforms which gets you direct advertisements from clients and takes a 25% commission charge. With a minimum payout of $20, the only downside to BuySellAds is that it’s not that easy to get approved.


What Viglink does is, it monetizes your outbound links. It turns your ordinary links into affiliate links, so when a reader clicks on your link and buys something, you get a commission through it. This brings the power of affiliate marketing to natural link building.

3. Explore native languages

With so many languages in the world, why should you only focus on English? Google AdSense now supports over 35 languages, and this gives you no reason to ignore native languages.

While English might be one of the most popular languages on the internet, there is an array of readers looking for blogs in their regional languages and you can be the first few to exploit that market.

I launched my blog’s Hindi version, ShoutMeHindi, back in June 2015 and I’ve been getting great feedback ever since.

You don’t need to make it exclusively in your local language – you can mix and match English terms, as people tend to be familiar with the digital marketing terminology in English.

native languages for make more money from your blog

4. Collaborate with brands for sponsored posts and reviews

This is the quickest way to earn some good cash, but at the same time, you have to be very cautious about it.

Sponsored posts are where you talk about a product in general, or you try to incorporate something associated with the product naturally into your content. Sponsored reviews are when the company pays you to write reviews about their products.

Sponsored posts should only be done when you can talk about products or brands that your readers would be interested in. I don’t need to tell you that when you attempt blatant advertising, readers’ trust evaporates.

Now, sponsored reviews are a very sensitive ground. You might be getting paid by the company, but you don’t have to completely sell the product. It’s important to be unbiased and write your honest thoughts about the products.

Test the product extensively, and then list down all the pros and cons. Be sure to let the company know beforehand that you would be writing an honest review.

To connect with brands, you can create a media kit explaining what advertisers can expect from sponsored posts and reviews and how much you would be charging them.

Suggested networks;

5. Implement affiliate programs

Affiliate marketing, in a nutshell, is where you refer your readers a product and when they buy it through your recommendation, you get a commission out of it.

Our very own Jeff described affiliate marketing as one of the top ways to make money by blogging in 2016. Every affiliate program has a different commission rate and minimum payout. But the reason why it’s so popular among bloggers is because you only have to set it up once and you can get paid from all your posts, whether they are old or new.

Even the traffic doesn’t matter so much, because it all depends upon the readers buying products through your recommendation.

There are many different kinds of affiliate programs available, and you can select the ones that relate the most to your blog niche.

6. Write an impressive Ebook

One of the best ways to get revenue from your blog is by developing premium content for your readers. Creating ebooks are cheap, and they also make you a niche expert, which can drive in more business later.

You can also build up your subscriber list with an ebook by providing the book – or the first few chapters, depending on your inclination and the worth of the information – free of charge for every subscriber.

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Social Media Acronyms That All Marketers Should Know

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When you’re staring at slide 58 of an 80-slide presentation with yet another acronym that you don’t understand, it feels like you could give up on social media altogether.

Don’t worry, that’s pretty much how every marketer feels. Social media acronyms are no different than any other kind of jargon: they are vaguely understood by the group to which they belong (and rarely anybody else).

Like overly academic or pontificating language, acronyms can be annoying and should be used with caution. However, they hold the keys to better understanding your customers and fellow marketers—so it’s important that you stay on top of them.

We’ve divided our list of social media acronyms and abbreviations into three categories:

  1. Network-specific acronyms
  2. Popular acronyms on social
  3. Acronyms used by social media marketers

Our comprehensive list of the latest social media acronyms will help you survive your next meeting. Terms are organized alphabetically under each category.

Network-specific acronyms

  • FB: Facebook
  • IG: Instagram
  • LI: LinkedIn
  • TW: Twitter
  • YT: YouTube

Popular acronyms used on social media

AMA: Ask me anything

Most notably used on Reddit, “ask me anything,” refers to crowdsourced Q&A sessions. Anyone can start an AMA session (and big names have, like President Obama). Redditors then ask whatever they want and questions are voted up or down. The most popular ones get answered.

BAE: Before anyone else

A term of endearment for your loved one. Careful though, this acronym has found its way into our list of words and phrases to ban from your social media vocabulary.

DM: Direct message

A DM is a messaging function on Twitter that allows you to send a private message to another user. You can only send a direct message to a Twitter user who is already following you, and you can only receive messages from people you follow. (You canchange your account settings so that you can receive a DM from anyone).

ELI5: Explain like I’m five

Popular on Reddit, this acronym is used when someone is asking for a simple explanation of a complex topic, e.g. “Gravitational waves detected? ELI5.”

FOMO: Fear of missing out

The fear that if you miss a party or event, that you’ll miss out on some amazing or memorable experience. (Everybody wants to be part of that memory on Instagram, right?)

FTW: For the win

Used to add excitement or emphasis at the end of a social post, but more often used sarcastically, e.g. “He missed his deadline again, FTW!”

ICYMI: In case you missed it

Catching you up on the latest information and news.

IMO/IMHO: In my opinion, In my humble opinion

Make it known or emphasize that something you say is an opinion, not fact.

IRL: In real life

To let people know you are talking about something in the real world and not in the internet world.

IKR: I know, right?

Affirmation or agreement with someone’s statement.

JIC: Just in case

In the event that you might need something, e.g. “Bring your sunscreen JIC.”

LMK: Let me know

If someone writes this in a message to you, they’re expecting a response.

MCM: Man Crush Monday

A trend on social where you reveal who your ‘man crush’ is on social. And it must be done on a Monday (#ManCrushMonday, #MCM).

MT: Modified Tweet

If a manual Retweet is edited for length, use MT to signify that you’ve changed the original author’s words.

NSFW: Not safe for work

This means that your discussion or content isn’t suitable for work, i.e. your boss would find it inappropriate.

OOTD: Outfit of the day

A popular Instagram hashtag, #OOTD means you’re showcasing an outfit you’ve worn that day or an outfit that is suited for that day.

RT: Retweet

A Retweet is a Tweet that is re-shared to the followers of another user’s Twitter account. You can click the official Retweet button or type “RT” before the @username and content of the tweet you’re re-sharing.

SMH: Shaking my head

If you find something really stupid and you don’t have the words to respond.

TL;DR: Too long; didn’t read

When someone hasn’t read what you’ve written but wants to reply anyways. Also used to give a brief synopsis of a post or article.

TBH: To be honest

When someone wants to emphasize that they are giving their honest opinion, often used for negative feedback, e.g. “Tbh I don’t like those sunglasses.”

TBT: Throwback Thursday

A trend on social media where people post old photos of themselves or others on Thursdays (#ThrowbackThursday, #TBT).

Check out: The Power of Nostalgia: How to Use #TBT for Marketing

YOLO: You only live once

Often said before (or after) you take a risk in life. Also, if you did something stupid and jokingly want to justify it, e.g. “I shouldn’t have eaten that poison ivy as a dare, but YOLO.”

YSK: You should know
When you should already know what someone is talking about.

WCW: Woman Crush Wednesday

A trend on social where people reveal who their female crushes are on Wednesday (#WomanCrushWednesday, #WCW).

Acronyms used by social media marketers

AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

AIDA is a marketing model that has been around for years. MarketingProfs outlines the ways it should be applied to social media marketing:

  • Attention through building awareness.
  • Interest by encouraging users to join your community.
  • Desire through regular communication and engagement.
  • Action by creating relevant content and calls-to-action.

API: Application Programming Interface

An API is the mechanism that allows one backend system to be connected to another. For example, if you’re using Google Maps to search for a transit or walking directions in San Francisco, Uber will appear as an option if you have the Uber app installed on your device. Google Maps and Uber are able to talk to each other in this way because Uber has an open API and Google chose to integrate it with their map service.

Check out: Social Media APIs Transform Businesses—Here’s Why.

CMGR: Community manager

A community manager builds relationships on social media. They engage with, and nurture, customers and key members of your community. If you’re wondering how this differs from a social media manager, we’ve got a blog post to help you out.

CMS: Content Management System

A content management system allows you to create and modify your content. If you’re running a blog, website, or social channels, a CMS is the backbone that holds it all together. Popular content management systems include WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

CPC, PPC: Cost per click, Pay per click

Cost per click (or pay per click) is an internet advertising model that is used to direct traffic to websites. It basically means you pay for each click on your ads.

CR: Conversion rate
Conversion rate is the number of people who take action through things like views, engagement, or purchase. Tracking conversions from social is an important part of attributing revenue to social media.

CRO: Conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization is the strategy employed to increase conversions.

CTA: Call to action

A call-to-action is verbal, written, or visual instruction intended to prompt a response from your customer. On social media, a call-to-action can be anything from getting your audience to read content, engage with campaigns and contests, or try out a new product offering.

CTR: Click-through rate

Click-through rate measures the number of people that click on a link. When you’re running a social media campaign, you’ll probably set benchmarks and goals for the number of click-throughs.

CX: Customer experience

Customer experience is the relationship that a customer (or potential customer) has with your company. It covers every aspect of your business from sales, to customer service, to social media and marketing efforts, to product.

ESP: Email service provider

An email service provider hosts email marketing services on their servers. Popular email service providers include MailChimp, Mad Mimi, and Vertical Response.

KPI: Key performance indicator

Key performance indicator is a broad business metric used to determine success. KPIs will vary according to each organization and department.

Check out: 26 Social Media KPIs That You Can’t Ignore

PV: Page views

A pageview is the number of views that your website or other online content has accumulated.

GA: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is Google’s web analytics service that tracks and reports website traffic. It can show you important social metrics like referral traffic from social media.

Check out: A 6-Step Guide to Tracking Social Media in Google Analytics

ROI: Return on investment

Return on investment is a way to measure the efficiency or effectiveness of your investment. It’s the benefit of the investment divided by the cost of the investment.

To get buy-in on your social media strategy, it’s important to demonstrate how social media contributes to overall business goals. You can learn how to measure and demonstrate social media ROI in our comprehensive guide.

RSS: Rich site summary (Also known as: really simple syndication)

RSS is a format for syndicating web content. Blogs, news publishers, and other publications use RSS feeds to broadcast content to their audiences.

Check out: Hootsuite Syndicator

RTD: Real-time data

Real-time data is presented as it is received (i.e. in “real time”). It gives you the convenience of accessing the latest information whenever you need it.

SaaS: Software as a service

Software as a service (sometimes referred to as web-based or hosted software) allows you to run an application on your web browser. For example, Hootsuite is software as a service—we build the software and you can log in and use it from your own device.

SEM: Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing is a form of internet marketing that typically refers to buying traffic through paid search listings which will appear on search engines like Google.

SEO: Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization focuses on growing organic search engine results. AsMoz’s comprehensive guide to SEO points out, “SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.”

SERP: Search engine results page

A search engine results page shows the pages displayed in response to the search query. Results listings are useful to identify customer and search intent of a particular keyword phrase.

SM: Social media

Something you’re probably already familiar with, social media includes websites or applications that allow you to create and share content and engage in social networking.

SMB: Small and midsize businesses

Small businesses are usually defined as less than 100 employees and midsize businesses between 100 and 999 employees.

SMP: Social media platform

Refers to the platform of a particular social network. For example, when you log into Facebook’s application, you’re using their platform.

SMM: Social media marketing

The use of social media by marketers to increase brand awareness, identify target audiences, find and nurture sales leads, and build relationships.

Check out: The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing

SMO: Social media optimization

Similar to social media marketing, social media optimization refers to improving existing marketing strategies on social media.

SOV: Share of voice

On social media, SOV measures what percentage of mentions within your industry are about your brand, and what percentage are about your competitors.

Check out: 4 Ways to Increase Your Share of Voice on Social Media

SoLoMo: Social, local, mobile

SoLoMo refers to the converging trends of social media, location-based searches (and online services), and mobile devices. Its emergence has a lot to with geo-location technology.

SRP: Social relationship platform

Social relationship platforms are secure and scalable technologies that allow businesses to manage social media communications across departments and devices. Social relationship platforms are used for monitoring, posting and tracking social media, and help manage everything from customer service to lead generation. Hootsuite is a social relationship platform.

TOS: Terms of service

Terms of services are the rules that you have to abide by in order to use a specific service.

UGC: User generated content

User generated content refers to any content or media created by the users of an online system. For example, UGC would include all the videos on YouTube created by its users.

Check out: 4 Excellent User Generated Content Contests Using Social Media

UI: User interface

A user interface maps the user’s intention to the application program. An effective UI allows the user to easily perform the actions provided by the site or program.

URL: Uniform resource locator

A URL is the web address of a specific page or site.

UV: Unique views

Unique views refers to the number of distinct, individual views your website or content receives, regardless of how many times that person views your content. (Unlike views, which looks at the total number of views, including multiple views by the same user.)

UX: User experience

User experience refers to a person’s entire experience using a product or service. A great UX is often dependent on an effective UI.

WOM: Word of mouth

Word of mouth is basically the passing of information from one person to another, including on social media.

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6 Social Media Templates to Save You Hours of Work

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Whether it’s your first time running social media for a company, or you’re just looking to boost your online profile, social media templates will save you valuable time and effort. And we’ve created six to help you on every leg of your journey—from planning and message scheduling, to publishing and results tracking.

1) Social Media Strategy Template

A social media strategy will bridge the gap between where you are in the pursuit of your social media goals and where you want to be.

Use this template to create a social media strategy that will guide you in your online activities. Answer the questions in each step to establish what your goals are, how you will achieve them, and how you will measure success.

Aligning Social Goals to Business Goals

The social media strategy template teaches you how to:

  • Clarify your business’ social media goals
  • Audit your current social media status
  • Create or improve your social media profiles
  • Develop your content strategy
  • Use analytics to track progress and adjust your strategy as needed

Download our social media strategy template

Bonus: Get the step-by-step social media strategy guide with pro tips on how to grow your social media presence.

2) Social Media Audit Template 

An important part of creating your social media marketing plan is conducting a social media audit. This audit serves to assess your current social media use and goals, and how they’re working or not working. We’ve put together a social media audit template to walk you through the steps and help you conduct your audit more effectively.

Social Media Audit Template 1

Social Media Audit Template 2

The template is comprised of six steps that will take you through your audit from start to finish:

  1. Creating a spreadsheet of your social profiles
  2. Finding other accounts that may be representing you or your brand
  3. Creating a mission statement for each profile
  4. Ensuring accounts are on brand
  5. Centralizing ownership of passwords
  6. Creating a process for how new channels will be established moving forward

Download our social media audit template

3) Editorial Calendar Template

There are two important types of content calendars that a social media manager will almost always make use of. The first is the editorial calendar, which will gather all your content projects into one document to help you plan and schedule each release.

The easiest way to organize a content calendar is by using a separate ‘sheet’ within a Google or Excel Spreadsheet for each month. Activities can be broken down by day or hour, depending on the volume and cadence of your content plan.

Editorial Calendar Template

Your editorial calendar should include simple information about each of these projects:

  • Title or description of the content
  • Links to supporting documents, like content briefs
  • Author or writer
  • Deadline
  • Channels you will promote it on 

The following is a very basic template of an editorial calendar. You should add columns or rows as required.

Download our editorial calendar template


Excel File

Open Document Format

4) Social Media Content Calendar

The second valuable content calendar is a social media content calendar. This should include all of the social media messaging you’ll be using to promote your content, organized by date and time. Social media engagement can’t be planned in advance, but social media promotion can be, which is where this calendar comes in handy.

Social Media Content calendar Template

This calendar will solve some of the biggest issues that social media users face—continuing to post badly-performing content, ignoring certain accounts and overwhelming others, missing important dates or events, and holes in the content calendar.

Download Our Content Calendar Template


Excel File

Open Document Format

5) Bulk Upload Template 

When you run your own business, it’s hard to find time to publish Facebook or Instagram posts one-by-one throughout the day. To help save social media users valuable time, Hootsuite allows you to bulk upload up to 350 social media messages across all social networks.

To do so you need to create a .csv file of all the social messages you’d like to upload, placed in a specific format:

  • Column 1: Date and time. The accepted DATE format is: mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm or dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm. Be sure to identify which format you are using when uploading your file. Times must be set in the future (at least 10 minutes from upload time) and should end in either a 5 or a 0, i.e. 10:45 or 10:50.
  • Column 2: Your message. For Twitter there is a limit of 140 characters, including the URL (which reserves at most 23 characters)
  • Column 3: URL (optional): The full URL you want to include in your message

For this purpose, we suggest using a plain text editor like TextEdit or NotePad. They don’t have built in columns so you have to use commas, but the format is clear in the sample .csv above. Unfortunately Excel usually causes formatting issues, so we don’t recommend using it to build your spreadsheet. (Note: If you decide to use Excel, you’ll need to tell Excel that that data in column is Text and not to be changed or it will try to convert your dates into a different display that will fail your upload.)

Download our bulk upload template

6) Social Profile Image Sizes

Social media profiles are often your first opportunity to make an impression on new prospects or customers. And the pictures on these profiles are the first thing people notice—often coming to serve as the visual representation of your brand online.

You should always strive to have images fall within the recommended dimensions of each network. Why? A square is a square, right? Well, you never know when profile images will be posted elsewhere on social.

Here are templates showing the optimal dimensions for profile images on each major social network:


Social media templates - Suggested Facebook image dimensions
Suggested Facebook image dimensions


Social media templates - Suggested Instagram image dimensions
Suggested Instagram image dimensions


Social media templates - Suggested Twitter image dimensions
Suggested Twitter image dimensions

LinkedIn Profiles

Social media templates - Suggested LinkedIn personal image dimensions
Suggested LinkedIn profile image dimensions

LinkedIn Company Pages

Social media templates - Suggested LinkedIn company profile image dimensions
Suggested LinkedIn company profile image dimensions


Social media templates - Suggested Google+ image dimensions
Suggested Google+ image dimensions

With these social media templates you’re one step closer to being a social media pro. Start using Hootsuite and take your skills to the next level.

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How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide

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Pinterest was supposed to be a simple visual bookmarking tool, but morphed to fill a need as a catalog and community of creativity. Today, more than 100 million active Pinners discover new ideas and inspire others every single month—a majority of whom are outside of the U.S.

Businesses used to scoff at the idea that Pinterest could drive sales or improve marketing efforts. At a glance, the platform is full of Pins depicting beautiful home decor, incredibly appetizing food, and fashionable women roaming the streets. But just under the surface, businesses will find a visual discovery network with the potential to be the best social e-commerce tool yet.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Pinterest shares what people around the world are searching for in December 2015. Image viaPinterest.

According to Pinterest for Business, 40 percent of Pinners discovered a new product and saved it on the platform. After discovering a fashion or home product on Pinterest, 30 percent made a purchase. Similarly, nearly 25 percent have discovered and purchased health, fitness, or entertainment products thanks to Pinterest.

For example, DaWanda, an online marketplace for handmade products, followed best practices and increased Pinterest referral traffic by nearly 100 percent. This is generating sales for the business as well. The average order value from Pinterest is 13 percent higher than referral traffic from any other social network.

Pinterest may be one of the best ways to showcase your business’ products and services. We want to help you get the most out of Pinterest to drive website traffic, increase reach, and tell your brand story.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Pinterest’s top most Pinned products of 2015. With a link back to your business’s website, what’s to stop you from driving sales? Image via Pinterest.

10 Tips on how to use Pinterest for business

Tip No. 1: Make your offerings visible on Pinterest

Include your brand’s name and official website address on Pinterest’s profile page, and connect your Facebook and Twitter profiles for increased visibility. Pay attention to your Pin captions: whether you are pinning content from your site or repinning it from somewhere else, explain why this content would be useful to your brand’s customers—and mention your brand’s name and website URL in the caption.

In addition to mentioning your brand’s name when making a new Pin, try to include a call to action (CTA), as well as other links, in all Pins that contain original content from your business. The CTA can be linked to an ongoing campaign, or simply redirect users to your website.

Tips to help Pinners find your products:

  • Get your Pins to stand out by following creative best practices (creative tips below)
  • Invest in Promoted Pins to increase brand awareness, engagement, and traffic
How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Pinterest.

Tip No. 2: Make your website Pinterest-friendly

Before you start Pinning original content on your business’s Pinterest account, you want to make it easy for other Pinterest users to Pin articles and images from your website using a Pinterest browser extension. Add the Pin It button to your website for people to easily save ideas and products to Pinterest.

Beside the Pin It button, you can also add a Follow button in a prominent position on your webpage, so your customers can easily find you. There are other widgets that you can easily add to your site, including Pin, profile, and board features for easy access. Take a look at Pinterest’s guides on how to create buttons for your website.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Martha Stewart’s website makes it easy for people to Pin images that link back to her site. Image via Martha Stewart.

It might also be helpful to optimize your website to allow Rich Pins, or Pins that show more information about the link you want people to click on. Pinterest currently has five types of Rich Pins: movie, recipe, article, product, and place.

Tip No. 3: Create appealing content you can Pin

In a similar fashion to most social networks, you want your business’s Pinterest profile to be a mix of original and found content, with an emphasis on articles and photos pinned from your site. Great Pins are ideas. Make sure they’re helpful, beautiful, and actionable, so that people will easily discover, share, and save your ideas for things they want to do.

As you are already an expert on social media images, finding high-quality images shouldn’t be a problem. But being on Pinterest should give you extra incentive to create original, visually appealing content. After all, an image is the first thing someone sees in a Pin.

A few tips for creative best practices:

  • Feature compelling images that people will want to share
  • Try text overlays to help people browse and discover faster
  • Create detailed descriptions of your content
  • Consider adding lists or how-tos in the text overlays
  • Tasteful branding goes a long way on Pinterest
  • Have a clear call to action 

Tip No. 4: Know Pinterest’s image requirements

Pins need to get noticed in order to get clicked. Because most people use Pinterest on mobile and feeds are organized into columns, vertical Pins tend to perform best. Taller Pins also take up more space in people’s feeds. If you have optimized your site for the network, but Pinterest still doesn’t show your images, check your dimensions. Vertical images can have an aspect ratio of 2:3 to 1:2.8 and must be at least 600px wide.

Pinterest doesn’t recognize background images, images embedded in iFrames or within Flash websites. Having accurate dimensions will help your Pins get noticed better, hopefully leading to more clicks to your business’s site.

Tip No. 5: Study Pinterest’s categories  

Pinterest users can search the network for content in many different categories. Get to know the ones that apply to your business; and no, I don’t mean the Everythingcategory. See if any of your content fits in one of Pinterest’s most popular categories.

Some of the top pinned categories include home decor, food and drink, weddings, and DIY and craft. Once you figure out the categories that apply to your business, remember to categorize any Pinboard you create—this will make it easier for users to discover your content.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Keep an eye on popular categories and find Pins that are relevant to your business and its followers. Image via Pinterest.

Tip No. 6: Pin useful content

Pinners love learning new ways of doing things, and you have a unique opportunity to share knowledge about your area of expertise, straight from the source. Share tutorials and how-to articles in order to teach users something new, or help them find a life hack to solve an old problem. According to Pinterest, 75 percent of people say it’s the best place to find new interests, and 67 percent said it’s the place they come to express creativity.

Another type of content that often makes it to the top Pinned lists is infographics. Start by finding and repinning well-researched and well-designed infographics on the topics relevant to your field. Eventually, you’ll want to carve out some time in your content creation calendar to make some pinnable infographics of your own. Not only do they display helpful and sharable content, but they are highly visual and often take up the space you need to get noticed.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Pinterest.

Tip No. 7: Pin about your customers

Pinterest is a great tool for recognizing your customers—you can do this by creating Boards that tell customer success stories, or share a common customer experience. These Pins can make up their own Board or be a part of your how-to category, for example. If your customers find unique ways to incorporate your brand’s products or services into their everyday life, what better way to celebrate them?

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Pinterest.

These customer-centric Boards are a great non-intrusive way to show off customer testimonials and amazing designs in a way that welcomes sharing from anyone who can benefit from the advice.

Tip No. 8: Pin as a team

Pinterest allows users to add contributors to  Boards, so encourage your employees to add content they find interesting, or even curate their own Board. Not only are your employees your brand’s best advocates, they often share similar interests with your brand. Include your employees in the discovery process, and @mention them in the captions of the Pins they selected.

Pinterest can also help your business promote company culture, to celebrate current employees and attract new hires. If your company held a fundraiser or a fun team bonding event recently, why not create a Board to share it with the world? This is a great way to add some personality to your brand and build loyalty among customers.

Tip No. 9: Create themed Pinterest Boards

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
With only 25 Pins on their How-To Pins board so far, Home Depot has earned 214,400 loyal followers who wait for the brand’s next great how-to Pin. Image via Home Depot on Pinterest.

Is there a holiday or a big product release coming up? Maybe your business is expanding or needs to reach new audiences and you require a creative way to tell your current and potential customers about it. Why not create a themed Board for the reveal?

Pinterest allows you to connect written, photo, and video resources all in one place, and in a sharable way. Remember that Pins created for themed boards should make sense independently as well, in case someone wants to repin them to their Board with similar themes.

Tip No. 10: Keep a close eye on your Pinterest numbers

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Pinterest.

Whenever your business joins a new network, it’s crucial to take regular temperature checks to refine your content strategy for that network. Pinterest Analytics allows you to see what Pins and boards get the most likes, comments, and repins. You can easily gather new data about your audience such as who they are, what they like, and what devices they use to Pin your content. Pinterest Analytics also shows how the Pin It button is performing on your website—and whether it’s directing referral traffic or not.

How To Use Pinterest for Business: The Definitive Guide | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Pinterest
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The Top Social Media Sites That Matter to Marketers

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By Dara Fontein


While preparing for a recent dinner party, I visited my local overly-priced grocer with the intention of purchasing a few items for a cheese board. Getting cheese from “the nice part of the store” was novel enough for this gal, until I got there and realized the overwhelming amount of dairy at my disposal. I started haphazardly picking up chunks of cranberry goat cheese and funky looking blue cheese, throwing anything I saw into my basket.

Many social media marketers approach signing up for social networks the same way. With my dinner party, I felt as if I had to please everybody and therefore have the most varieties of cheese possible, when eventually my successful cheese plate consisted of the most popular, crowd-pleasing classics (shout-out to brie). You may feel like if you don’t have a presence on each and every network you’re missing out on audience members there, but the time and money required for keeping up with this mass platform strategy is unrealistic and exhausting for any social media marketer.

Best social media sites and platforms

While it may seem like there’s a hot new social media network being launched every day, the truth is that there are currently a core group of platforms that are key to consider for your social media strategy. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve outlined key demographics of the top social media sites and platforms that matter to social media marketers.


Demographics and stats




  • Female-identified users: 46 percent of total users
  • Male-identified users: 54 percent of total users


  • 46 percent of YouTube users have incomes of over $75,000


Why YouTube is a top social media site

With video a key component of content marketing in 2016, the number of brands using the channel is steadily on the rise. If you’re wondering why YouTube is a good option for your marketing efforts, our post, “How to Fuel Your YouTube Video Marketing,” explains that YouTube works through “taking a very core marketing concept—solving problems your target customer is facing—but presenting it in a way that is unique to your brand and channel.”

Besides being the second largest online search engine, YouTube is also heavily used as a resource for how-to content. YouTube explains this best:“As YouTube “Millennials and today’s independent buyer turn to YouTube to get quick answers, and you can easily become their go-to expert with incredible ‘how-to’ video content.” The key here is to think about the type of questions your customers and audience members are asking, or could be asking in the future, and provide unique, personality-filled answers to these questions and problems.”

Some brands who are cleverly using YouTube as a core component of their strategies include:


Demographics and stats



  • 82 percent of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook
  • 56 percent of online users ages 65 and up use Facebook
  • 79 percent of those ages 30 to 49 use Facebook


  • Female-identified users: 76 percent of all female-identified U.S internet users use Facebook
  • Male-identified users: 66 percent of all male-identified U.S internet users use Facebook


  • 72 percent of Facebook users have incomes of over $75,000


  • 74 percent of Facebook users have some form of higher education

Why Facebook is a top social media site

Since its birth in 2004, Facebook has been a staple in social media marketing plans around the world. There are countless reasons for this, but as our post “Our Best Facebook Posts, and What We Learned From Them” explains, “Facebook is probably a more powerful business tool than it has ever been. The company is pushing e-commerce features like a brand new buy button; it ramped up its video strategy, making it a serious competitor for YouTube; and Facebook ads are becoming more accessible to all businesses.”

While countless reasons for using Facebook in your marketing strategies, the company cites these key areas it can help with:

  • Driving online sales
  • Increasing local sales
  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Promoting your app
  • Finding leads
  • Social customer service

Some brands who have found incredible success, and act as solid examples of what Facebook can do for your business, include:

  • The New York Times—who saw a 2.3 times increase in volume of subscription conversions
  • The Skimm—who saw a 22 percent increase in lead quality, with a $1 to $2 cost per acquisition
  • Absolut—who saw a four point lift in favorability via Facebook
  • Eggo—who saw a 4.2 times return on ad spending and 3.2 percent in household reach


Demographics and stats


  • Monthly Users : 80,173,808 (as of March 2016)
  • 23 percent of all internet users and 20 percent of the entire U.S adult population use Twitter
  • 50 percent of users visit or shop at the website of an small or medium business they follow
  • 60 percent of users bought something because of something they saw on Twitter



  • Female-identified users: 15 percent of all female-identified U.S. internet users use Twitter
  • Male-identified users: 22 percent of all male-identified U.S. internet users use Twitter


  • 54 percent of Twitter users have incomes of over $50,000


  • 30 percent of users have some form of higher education

Why Twitter is a top social media site

As most brands know, 140 characters can be a powerful thing. While there were rumors in 2015 and 2016 that Twitter was increasing its signature character limit, CEO Jack Dorsey touched on one key benefit of Twitter when he dismissed these claims, stating: “It’s staying. It’s a good constraint for us. It allows for of-the-moment brevity.”

It’s this brevity that forces brands to get their messages out in the clearest, most concise manner possible. Besides this, there are countless reasons why businesses such as yours love Twitter, including:

While there are tons of brands on Twitter, some of the best examples of using the network for your business needs are the following:


Demographics and stats




  • Female-identified users: 42 percent of all female-identified U.S. internet users use Pinterest
  • Male-identified users: 13 percent of all male-identified U.S. internet users use Pinterest (the most rapidly growing demographic for the site)


  • 34 percent of Pinterest users have incomes of over $75,000
  • 64 percent of Pinterest users have incomes of over $50,000


  • 32 percent of users have some form of higher education

Why Pinterest is a top social media site

The business value of Pinterest is undeniable. In addition to the statistics outlined above, our recent post, “Using Pinterest for Business,” highlights the fact that Pinterest can be a huge driver of traffic for professional sites. Numerous bloggers we spoke to declared Pinterest to be the biggest driver of traffic to their sites, information that emphasizes the network’s position as a serious component for any social media strategy.

Whether using Pinterest to Pin your products, uses and demos for your products, or lifestyle and industry-relevant content, the platform is one that your brand should seriously consider including in your plan. The following brands saw the power of Pinterest, and experienced great success using it for their business:

  • Homepolish—who saw at least 10 percent of their site traffic come from Pinterest, with 75 percent of those unique visitors new to the brand
  • Topshop—who saw a 260 percent increase in impressions thanks to Pinterest
  • Hearst—who saw a 715 percent increase year over year in traffic to their sites thanks to Pinterest


Demographics and stats




  • Female-identified users: 49 percent of Instagram users identify as female
  • Male-identified users: 51 percent of Instagram users identify as male


  • 26 percent of Instagram users have incomes of over $75,000
  • 52 percent of Instagram users have incomes of over $50,000


  • 24 percent of users have some form of higher education

Why Instagram is a top social media site

It’s no secret that visuals add a certain dimension to your content that words alone sometimes can’t quite grasp (a painful sentence for this writer to put down). In just five short years, Instagram has skyrocketed by being a place for marketers to easily and effectively showcase their brand through images, short videos clips, and the overall cohesion of visual content.

As not only a platform with extremely attractive demographics, as outlined above, Instagram highlights the following three key reasons content succeeds on the platform.

  • Passionate Community—with Instagram’s 400 million users globally, those on the platform are engaged and active.
  • Creative Context—users go to Instagram to view beautiful or interesting images, so placing your business’ content here means you are presenting to a creative, image-driven audience.
  • Visual language—with the focus on images, Instagram offers an easy-to-digest and aesthetically pleasing arena for your brand’s visual content to take center stage.

Brands and businesses quickly caught on to Instagram’s marketing potential, and have seen huge success with the platform. Some of the best success stories are the following:

  • Mercedes Benz—who saw a 27 point lift in ad recall thanks to their Instagram campaign
  • Coca-Cola—who saw a seven-point lift in message association between Coca-Cola, happiness, and friendship
  • Fido—who saw 2 million people reached in eight weeks, a 19 point lift in ad recall amongst Millennials, and a four point lift in brand recommendation


Demographics and stats




  • Female-identified users: 44 percent of LinkedIn users identify as female
  • Male-identified users: 56 percent of LinkedIn users identify as male


  • 44 percent of LinkedIn users have incomes of over $75,000
  • 75 percent of LinkedIn users have incomes of over $50,000


  • 50 percent of users have some form of higher education

Why LinkedIn is a top social media site

While many think of LinkedIn as solely a professional networking site, it has become much more for many brands. As a knowledge and information-sharing hub, LinkedIn allows like-minded people to find each other, form communities, and, yes, network professionally. For brands, this means that it has the potential to create thought-leaders out of their CEOs, share updates from their businesses to an interested audience, and provide valuable and relevant information on a regular basis.

LinkedIn shares that the most successful brands on the site do the following three things:

  • They continually update users on industry news.
  • They release new and engaging content tailored to specific audiences.
  • They add their voice to relevant conversations that their audiences care about.

Some great examples of brands who successfully use LinkedIn for business purposes include:

  • KLM—who created a 24/7 customer service group on LinkedIn in order to respond to customers’ inquiries
  • EY—who used LinkedIn to position themselves as key thought leaders in the accounting industry
  • HubSpot—who drive high-quality leads in the LinkedIn feed with Sponsored Updates


Demographics and stats




  • Female-identified users: 70 percent of Snapchat users identify as female
  • Male-identified users: 30 percent of Snapchat users identify as male


  • 62 percent of Snapchat users have incomes of over $50,000
  • 38 percent of Snapchat users have incomes of under $50,000


  • 70 percent of post-secondary students use Snapchat

Why Snapchat is a top social media network

While not technically a social media site, Snapchat is a social platform you and your company should definitely care about. When advertising and content marketers first heard of a platform where the content would live for 24 hours, tops, I’m sure there were scoffs heard around open offices and pour-over coffee stations everywhere. However, since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has skyrocketed in prominence, becoming the place to be for many social media marketers. As an extremely popular platform for those under the age of 34, Snapchat is an incredibly valuable network for those trying to target this highly desirable demographic. Including the appealing demographics, there are three key reasons businesses on Snapchat love the app:

  • The Best Mobile Video Platform—with a focus on vertical rather than horizontal video
  • Snapchatters—the “passionate and engaged” audience demographic
  • Curated Content—as explained by AdAge, “[Snapchat] offers something unique in the world of mostly-broadcast, feed-centric social media—intimacy at scale.”

However, if you want to get inside the heads of your targeted demographic, Snapchat found that 13 to 34 year olds love the app because it allows them to:

  • Get perspective—”Snaps provide a personal window into the way you and your friends see the world.”
  • Be here, now—”Stories are updated in real-time and expire after 24 hours.”
  • Express yourself—”Snaps are a reflection of who you are in the moment—there is no need to curate an everlasting persona.”

If your brand or business is looking to begin using Snapchat, or are having trouble connecting with an audience there, think about these reasons that the core Snapchat demographic are using it. Snapchat users love the personal aspect of the app, so perhaps your brand can offer behind the scenes footage or clips of your CEO offering quick video snippets of advice. The audience also loves the real-time nature and maximum 24 hour lifespan of a Snap Story, making it a great place to share brief, exciting company or industry updates. For more ideas on how to use Snapchat for your business, our post, “Smart ways to use Snapchat for business,” provides a thorough guide. Additionally, looking at some examples from other businesses can prove helpful. To offer inspiration, here are some brands that are doing Snapchat right.

  • CNN—quoted in Snapchat’s advertising info page, CNN is communicating through Snapchat in a less formal way than on their other media channels, and in doing so, reaching a completely new audience.
  • Mashable—Mashable uses Snapchat to share industry news, provide behind the scenes access to their offices and employees, and provide Snapchat videos of live events (such as new Apple product launches).
  • Refinery29—who consistently provide short, easily digestible content featuring beauty, fashion, and lifestyle advice.

With these top social media sites in mind, you can see why—just like I didn’t need every single type of cheese to have happy dinner party guests—you don’t need to be on each and every social media platform to reach your social media goals. Instead, concentrate on building and maintaining a high-quality presence with a core set of social media platforms

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Google Told You How to Rank. Did You Listen?

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While Lipattsev didn’t exactly explain how the Google algorithm or RankBrain work—that will never happen—he did provide three keys to better search engine rankings. Now it’s just a matter of using them to unlock your website’s potential and maximize your online marketing efforts.

Ranking Factor One: Content

We’ve been hearing for some time now that quality content is the path to higher rankings. But what does that look like, exactly? It means that in order to rank well, the content on your website needs to be relevant to what searchers seek. Imagine that! It sounds so simple, but amazingly it’s something many brands in the B2B space (and sometime large ones) get wrong.

How do they get it wrong? That’s simple, too. All too often content on a website is written without the benefit of any buyer persona work, any keyword research, or any focus on communicating in a way that prospects (and searchers) think about a product or solution they might need. If you want to rank well, understanding your customers, how they think, what they need, and what you do that delivers and, most importantly developing messaging that speaks to that is the key to ranking well.

But content quality factors expand well outside linguistic mechanics and the words on the page. Numerous search engine optimization (SEO) factors come into play when striving for quality content. At minimum, the title tag and header tags must be optimized, and your images should include unique descriptions and tags. Additionally, how your links are structured within the body of a post is important, too. Writing corporate blog content? Make sure you know these things and/or that the contract writers to whom you outsource do—otherwise, your content won’t deliver the results you seek.

Ranking Factor Two: Links

Speaking of linking, type of links Google is referring to as being the second most-important ranking factor are inbound links, also called backlinks. Outbound links are important too, but they don’t have quite as much power to influence rankings as inbound links do.

When a high-quality site links to yours, it’s essentially an endorsement, sort of like a colleague giving you a reference. Just as a good reference can help you get a job, a good backlink lets Google know your site is worth looking at, and perhaps worth a higher ranking than others in your vertical.

Notice I said “high-quality site.” Backlinks from just anywhere aren’t enough, and in some cases, can even be detrimental. For example, if a spammy, get-rich-quick website links to your site, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for you and your business.

But be careful in how you judge your inbound links. You may get a link from a high-quality site, but it’s from a website or business that has nothing whatsoever to do with yours. That’s not going to help your rankings much, either. Relevance is just as important for your backlinks as it is for your content. All of these considerations apply for outbound links, too.

As such, having an ongoing backlink strategy is, or should be, as much of an integral component of your content marketing efforts as the development of the content itself. If you’re not actively pursuing quality backlinks, start.

Ranking Factor Three: RankBrain

It almost sounds like a comic book supervillain, doesn’t it? Actually, RankBrain is much friendlier and beneficial—as long as your content sounds natural. In October 2015, Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado said the third most-important signal in search query results was RankBrain. This artificial intelligence system is part of the search engine’s overall search algorithm, called Hummingbird.

Unlike content and links, RankBrain focuses on search queries rather than on-site content. It uses machine learning to interpret language used in queries in order to return more—and more relevant—results. For example, if you search for a phrase containing “TV show,” RankBrain may include results that include a related word like “episodes,” even if that word wasn’t included in the original search.

Because RankBrain is handling these sorts of interpretations now, and can “guess” based on context, your on-site content can, and should, sound much more natural. You no longer have to be concerned with including several iterations of your keywords in your content in an attempt to cover all your ranking bases. In a nutshell, if you understand your audience, and write content for that audience that sounds natural and down-to-earth, you’ll be in good shape.

It will be interesting to see how RankBrain and Hummingbird continue to evolve. For now, the best thing you can do is ensure your content and links are of the highest quality possible, and that you’re creating content for people, not computers.

What to Do From Here

Now that you know just how much importance Google places on content as a ranking factor, your path is clear. To evaluate where you stand, perform a content audit to determine whether your existing content meets the high-quality standards Google—and your audience—expect. If this is outside your comfort zone, or you simply don’t have the time, hire a professional.

Next, consider building checklists to ensure all new content created from here on out takes all those factors into consideration from the get-go. Adopt a DIRTFT (Do It Right The First Time) policy, and be assured all your new content will do its job to help your site rank.

When you do that content audit, make sure to include a link audit to evaluate all the links coming into your site. While you have no control over who links to your site and from where, you can take action if you find poor backlinks that are having a potentially negative effect on your site’s rankings. Also, as mentioned earlier, create a linking strategy as part of your overall content strategy that will ensure you continue to build quality backlinks on an ongoing basis.

Writing content is easy. And there’s all kinds of mediocre content out there that proves that. Writing effective content, however, is an entirely different matter. Knowing what your audience seeks, and how to write content that both resonates with them and ranks well in search, well, that’s what makes this part of what we do as marketers an art. And not just anyone can do that. Which makes what we do even more fun.

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8 Strategies for Getting More Likes on Facebook

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In this post from Fluke Corporation, a manufacturer of test and measurement equipment, they feature a short video from a customer, showing how to use one of their products to fix holiday lights.
  • Post at least one piece of Facebook-specific content per week. Businesses that treat Facebook as nothing more than a publishing channel often only post links to their blog or website. While those aren’t bad things to post on occasion, continuous promotion of your other channels isn’t going to encourage much interaction on your Facebook Page (and quite frankly, it can get pretty boring). Create content specifically for Facebook to increase the chances of engagement and give people a better reason to like your Page. For example, create images specifically for Facebook or cut a shorter version of a video and upload it to your Page. You can include a link to the full version on YouTube or your website in the description.
  • Aim for shares. When your Facebook posts are shared by your fans it increases your organic reach, giving you a better chance of getting more likes. It also indicates that someone felt so strongly about your content that they were motivated to share it with their personal network, putting their own name behind it. This makes shares, as a metric, one of the most valuable and important parts of your Facebook Page.
  • What makes content shareable? According to The Psychology of Sharing, a study done by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, there are five primary motivators as to why people share content on social media:

    1. To bring valuable and entertaining content to others

    2. To define ourselves to others

    3. To grow and nourish our relationships

    4. Self-fulfillment

    5. To get the word out about causes or brands

    You’ll notice that the common theme between the majority of these motivators is relationships—growing, nurturing, or defining them. Create content that falls into one of these categories, and notice whether it gets shared more than others.

    Here’s an example of a piece of content that was shared over 2,000 times fromInnocent Drinks, a smoothie and juice company based in London.

    What made this so shareable? It’s hilarious, for starters, and it’s relevant for almost anyone working in an office, arriving back from holidays and inevitably getting asked the same questions over and over again. This post—a simple image created specifically for Facebook—doesn’t directly sell smoothies, but it positions Innocent Drinks as an entertaining brand you’d actually want to like on Facebook. The larger their following gets on Facebook through engaging content like this, the more receptive they’ll be when the time is right for a post that directly sells the product, such as this video.

    • Stay organized and post consistently. Posting consistently is one of the best practices cited by Facebook itself, noting that “being consistent in the quality and types of posts you create can help people know what kinds of messages to expect from you and how they tie into your business.” Create a content calendarand schedule posts in advance to help keep your content strategy on Faceook organized and consistent.

    5. Be responsive and human

    If you want more people to like your Facebook Page, you better be taking care of the ones who already do. Seeing comments or questions on a Facebook Page that have gone unanswered for days, weeks, or even months by a brand can be a huge deterrent for potential new fans. Reply to any and all comments, whether they’ve been left on your posts or directly on your Page.


    • Add a stream in your Hootsuite dashboard that tracks all of the posts people make on your Page and like or comment on the post right from there. You can also add a stream for all of the posts you’ve made on your Page, and track the engagement from your Hootsuite dashboard.

    Assign messages to other people on your team for follow up within Hootsuite, to ensure that no comment goes unanswered on your Page.

    6. Plan monthly campaigns

    Plan Facebook campaigns that either align with your overall marketing initiatives, or act as stand-alone campaigns. By proactively planning these campaigns in advance and slotting them into your overall content calendar, you’ll have a consistent supply of shareable content that can help get you more Facebook likes. Before you get too far into planning your campaigns, ensure they meet Facebook’s terms and policies for promotions.


    • Monitor the Facebook Pages of competitors or brands you admire for inspiration. You can learn a lot about what might resonate well with your audience by looking at what has (or hasn’t) been successful for your competitors.
    • Find creative ways of using user-generated content (UGC). Including an element of UGC in your social media campaign can help you generate leads and build your brand through the voice of your audience. Here are some examples of successful UGC campaigns that revolved around social media.
    • Invest resources in video. There are over 4 billion video views on Facebook every day. Videos you post on Facebook will play automatically when they appear in people’s News Feeds, which can help increase the overall number of views and engagement. Many publishers of “viral” content on Facebook are focusing more of their time and budget into video production. As noted in this post from Digiday, “Elite Daily is pouring resources into video, which unlike viral text content is continuing to grow sharply on Facebook.”

    7. Use Facebook Ads

    On Facebook, desktop ads have click-through rates 8.1 times higher than normal web ads. For mobile ads, that number jumps even higher with click-through rates that are 9.1 times higher. This is why one of the most effective ways of getting more likes on Facebook is through using Facebook Ads.


    • Promote your Page via Facebook Ads. You can reach new potential fans for your Page through detailed targeting options such as their location, demographics, interests, behaviors, or connections.
    • Boost individual posts from your Page. If you notice that one of your Facebook posts is performing well, consider boosting it with a paid spend. You can put as little or as much money behind it as you want, and can take advantage of Facebook’s deep targeting opportunities. Depending on your spend, Facebook will give you an estimate of the number of people you’ll be reaching.

    8. Use analytics to your advantage

    Analyzing Facebook Page Insights can give you a clear view of who your current fans are, which will help you better target your Facebook campaigns. You’ll also be able to identify the kinds of posts that have the highest average reach and engagement, and use that information to create more of the content your audience wants from you on Facebook.

    For more, check out this blog post where we cover 26 social media KPIs you can trackto measure your success on social beyond the number of fans or followers you have.


    • Create weekly reports using Hootsuite Analytics that measure the number of new likes your Page received, where those new fans came from, and the engagement that your posts received that week. Use these insights to tweak your content for the week ahead as necessary.
    • Do a monthly audit of your Page performance. Use these insights to set your monthly goals and develop a strategy for how you’re going to achieve them.

    Now that you have a strategy for getting more likes on Facebook, it’s time to focus ongetting them engaged. After all, if your posts aren’t getting much engagement, it means your content isn’t inspiring people to do anything. And that means that your Facebook Page probably isn’t providing any real value for your business.

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