Category Archives: Social Optimization

Why Slogans Matter

As the general election officially began, we set out to review the very basics - campaign slogans.

These short sound bites are designed, to sum up, the candidates’ overall positions and platforms in just a few easily repeatable words. The idea behind a campaign slogan is twofold: 1) convince voters to choose that candidate, and 2) create easy repeatability that can be chanted, repeated to friends, and maybe even go viral.

So how did the two major candidates do with their slogans? Without considering the issues, the candidates’ likeability, their platforms, or any other factor that will sway voters this November, let’s dissect just the actual slogans.

Hillary Clinton: We’re Stronger Together

With a lifetime of politics under her belt, including stints as First Lady, Secretary of State, and United States Senator, Hillary Clinton should be a master of campaign slogans, right? Yet an analysis shows that her slogan is not quite up to par. Here’s why:

1. Evoking Socialism: Hillary Clinton fought a fierce battle in the primaries against Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. The fact that she beat him indicates that perhaps her party, nevermind America as a whole, rejected that particular ideal. Presumably, Clinton’s team is hoping to draw in Sanders’ fervent supporters, but the vaguely socialist connotation of the slogan’s word choice could be a risk in the national election.

 

2. Copycat Branding: Donald Trump has run his entire campaign on the idea that he is the strong, tough leader that America needs. No matter what you think of him, the bravado some might say is the total of what he is offering. While the Clinton campaign appears to be trying to differentiate its candidate by pointing out that no one person is as strong as an entire community working together, that idea is a bit high-minded for a slogan. Using the word “strong” enhances the appearance that Clinton is responding to Trump rather than defining the narrative herself.

 

3. Possible Alienation of Voters: Studies consistently show that the word “together” evokes the stereotypically feminine ideals of cooperation and empathy. Its use in a campaign slogan also implies that we should all aspire to work cooperatively with others. That message resonates with those who embrace those ideas, but what of those who embody the stereotypically male traits of independence, stoicism – the refusal to ask for directions? It will be a tough sell to convince these voters that they should suddenly reject individualism and embrace cooperation.

 

Donald Trump: Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s brash, arrogant, dismissive manner has earned him rebukes and outright disdain from large segments of the voting public, and even key members of his own party. No matter what you think of him, the numbers show that he is a highly polarizing figure. Surely his campaign slogan is just as boorish and inflammatory, right? Surprisingly, he seems to have hit the mark with a slogan that will resonate with quite a few voters. Here’s how:

1. Aspirational Wording: Wherever your personal politics fall, and whatever your view of the issues, it is hard to deny that making America great is an excellent goal. The fact that the word “great” is so nebulous and non-specific makes this even stronger, as each person is free to project his or her unique vision of an ideal, ‘great’ America onto it.

 

2. American Identity: The inclusion of the word “America” suggests patriotism and national pride. We might all be wildly different from each other, but we all think of ourselves as Americans and are proud of that identity.

 

3. Loss and Hope: Notice that the slogan doesn’t tell us to make America great. It tells us to make America great *again*, suggesting that we were once great, but lost our way. However, the slogan assures us, we can make it right. Tapping into very primal emotions that acknowledge our individual and collective grief, and gives us hope for the future.

 

4. Nonthreatening and Inarguable Word Choices: While Clinton’s slogan uses a high-minded appeal to the power of collectivism, Trump’s slogan is intentionally so vague as to be all-inclusive. There is no direct way to disagree with the slogan’s content, it does not highlight any particular viewpoint, and it is simplistic enough to make an excellent soundbite.

Of course, elections are not decided by campaign slogans. Debates, press conferences, social media, and many other factors will play into the final results. Still, in a tightly contested race, every element matters. A slogan should provide a simple, tightly focused message in a compact package that is easy to remember and repeat. The power of a well-designed slogan should never be overlooked, as you never know when it might tip an undecided voter into one column or the other.

Disclaimer: Internal polling of First Source Interactive employees shows support for both candidates as well as neither. We will focus our election analysis on the branding and marketing aspects of the campaign and avoid political positions (which don’t matter anyway).

13 Points to Consider When Setting Up a Google AdWords Campaign

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus on drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but uses your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this issue too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that no single tactic or strategy gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the four steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is determining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the company aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as accurate as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google Analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goals should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to reaching them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This would be a reasonable SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is a major step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to achieve your goal eventually.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however, a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like how many sales were necessary for December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, is necneeded to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key issue is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be relatively straightforward. This move involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Google AdWords: Search vs. Display Networks

A major gripe for me and many other advertisers online is the way Google pushes advertisers to target both their Search results and Display networks whenever they set up their AdWords campaigns. According to Google, when an advertiser first sets up their AdWords campaign, targeting both networks provides an opportunity for them to reach more customers.

While, technically, this is true, it is not a very good idea. In this article, we will examine why targeting both networks in the same way is a bad idea so that you can avoid the trap of targeting these two very different networks with the same AdWords campaign.

Understanding the Search and Display Networks and Their Differences

When most people think of Google AdWords, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the ads that are displayed alongside search results on Google.com. These ads are run on the Search network. The beauty of the Search network is that it offers advertisers the chance to show prospects highly targeted advertising when they are looking for a particular product or service.

The Google Search network is very similar to the old Yellow Pages. This is because prospects would ‘search’ for a particular item in the Yellow Pages when they were ready to buy, which meant that businesses could advertise whatever products or services they were offering alongside the regular listings. Today, most people use Google.com to search for the products or services they need, with the Search network acting as the new Yellow Pages.

On the other hand, Google’s Display network works completely independently of the Google.com search. The Display network is powered by a service known as AdSense, which places ads on a variety of independent websites whose owners are looking to earn money when people view or click on the ads. Any website owner can sign up to AdSense and place the Display network ads on their website. Advertisers can then target these web pages. Google’s statistics indicate that there are more than 2 million websites which use AdSense today, giving you an idea of just how large the network is.

To understand the difference between the two networks, it is essential to understand that when you advertise on the Display network, your campaign is not targeting people who may be looking for your products or services. Instead, you are advertising to the people who are visiting any one of the websites on the Display network. This fact leads us to the first point you need to understand when advertising with Google:

#1. Your Ad Message Should Match the Relevant Network

Whenever someone visits Google.com and searches for a particular product or service, you are almost guaranteed that they have an immediate need. For example, if a prospect searches for a ‘locksmith in Denver,’ it is fairly obvious what the person wants. This person clearly has an immediate need for someone who fixes or repairs locks in Denver, or else they wouldn’t have taken the time to enter that particular search phrase in Google.

With this in mind, you can then tailor your Search network ad copy so that it is a precise match for the keywords the person searched for. This will ensure that you offer them the best option. Because your prospect typed the search phrase ‘locksmith in Denver,’ the ad you place on the Search network should make it clear that you are a locksmith who operates out of Denver and have a call-to-action to encourage the person to get in touch with you.

On the other hand, let us consider a person who is surfing the internet and reading an article that explains how a deadbolt lock is installed. While it is clear that this person would like to know how locks are installed, you cannot be certain that they actually want or need a locksmith. Unlike the prospect who visits Google.com and types in a search phrase, there is no way to know if this individual has an immediate need – therein lies the difference! In this particular case, the ad campaign you place on the display network should be aimed at convincing the person that getting a locksmith is their best option if they would like to install a deadbolt correctly.

It is fairly obvious from the two examples above that the ad copy you choose for the Search network has to be different from that which you use to advertise on the Display network. It would therefore be impossible for you to effectively match your ad message to the network. As a result, it is therefore a bad idea to use a single campaign to target both advertising networks.

After we understand the importance of matching the ad copy to the relevant network, we can then move the concept to the next level:

#2. Ensure That Ads Match Contextually and Behaviorally

When we looked at the example of the Display network ad above, we were working on the assumption that the ad campaign had been targeted at a contextually relevant webpage that talked about how to install a deadbolt lock. This is the simplest form of targeting available when using Google’s Display network to match the keywords within your ad to relevant web pages on the more than 2 million websites that use AdSense.

Another option available to advertisers who use Google ads is behavioral targeting. This works by showing your ads to individuals whose internet browsing history indicates that they may be interested in purchasing your product or service. For example, if I visit many home décor and home improvement websites, with time, the Google search engine figures that I am interested in this particular area and will put me within an audience group that may be called ‘home improvement.’ Behavioral targeting allows advertisers like interior decorators, painters, plumbers or locksmiths to easily select an audience of people that will be more likely to be interested in the products or services they have to offer.

Now that you are suitably armed with knowledge of how contextual and behavioral targeting works, all you need to do to ensure that your campaigns are more effective is to ensure that your ad copy matches your targeting options. The better you get at matching your copy to your targeting options, the higher the number of clicks your ads will generate.

3 Steps to Success in Social Media Marketing

One TV ad that has always been a favorite of mine is the commercial for the Banjo Minnow, which may be familiar to people who like fishing as a popular type of lure. Because I liked the ad so much, my father eventually decided to buy the Banjo Minnow kit for me.

During the commercial, there are constant references made to the ‘genetic response’ of the fish; this basically means that the design of the lure is such that it triggers a natural response mechanism in the fish that compels it to bite the lure. The ad is very convincing and utilizes plenty of strong direct-response triggers – little wonder then that the product’s sales have been so strong.

 

As the owner of a Banjo Minnow lure kit, one thing I can tell you is that all the hype is justified – it DOES work! I cannot forget the excitement of driving to my parents’ cabin after receiving the kit, using it for the first time and seeing it at work. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately, the pond next to the cabin has lots of pickerel with very sharp teeth, so most of the day was spent getting the Banjo Minnow out of their mouths while being careful not to lose any fingers!

However, since then, I have come to one conclusion after using many other types of lures – the Banjo Minnow on its own wouldn’t be much more effective than any other lure available. What I forgot to mention from the start is that the kit is delivered along with a video tutorial that shows you how the lure can be used most effectively. In other words, the lure itself is only effective when paired with the information available in the Banjo Minnow kit.

This is the key point of this article – a system is only effective when all its component parts are working together. This is explained in more detail below in this walkthrough of the 3 main steps to success in Social Media Marketing. As you will see, one step in isolation will do little to enhance your business, but all three – when working together – create an extremely powerful strategy.

  1. Build Up An Audience

This may sound obvious, but selling your product or service using social media is heavily reliant on building up your audience. There will be no one to read any of your posts if you do not have an audience.

Starting a social media marketing campaign without an audience can be compared to trying to fish in a pond which has no fish. Regardless of how experienced or skilled you are, or how great your fishing gear is, you will leave empty handed!

If you are starting from scratch, you must be ready to adjust your goals as you begin to implement your social media marketing strategy. Anyone who expects to be able to drive massive sales numbers right away is going to be very disappointed. You must first focus your strategy on ways to build your audience.

  1. Find Ways To Keep Your Audience Engaged

Engagement is the real secret behind the success of the Banjo Minnow. Watching the training video that comes along with the kit, you get to learn how the line is cast correctly and how the lure is reeled in to produce the lifelike action that is advertised in the TV commercial. If you cast the line and reel it in normally, the lure does not work! I have tested both ways and concluded that it is best to use the technique provided in the training video.

The Banjo Minnow works because the reeling action that results in the lifelike movement of the lure catches the attention of the fish and keeps it engaged. This is the simple secret to success in fishing – you must use a lure and combine it with the correct action so that the fish will bite.

This simple principle also holds true when marketing on social media. You should always ensure you provide a stream of the best content at the right intervals in order to gain the attention of your audience and to keep them constantly engaged.

  1. Convert Your Target Market

Finally, we look at the step most social media marketers focus on – conversion. I mentioned in the first step that it would be highly unrealistic for you to expect to convert your audience through social media marketing when you are just starting out because you do not have an audience yet.

You should also not expect much in the way of conversions if you do not yet have ways to gain your audience’s attention and hold it as I have explained in step 2. As it is clear to see, each of these steps follow a certain order and are dependent on each other.

To return to my fishing analogy, when you are first starting out, you must select a spot that is known to have plenty of fish – this is step 1. Step 2 involves finding the best type of lure and the appropriate action to ensure you keep whatever fish you are targeting engaged. In my example, the Banjo Minnow proved perfect for catching my fish! Finally, after the fish bites, the next step is to reel them in: This is step 3 – conversion. This is also the most fun part of fishing.

Everything that you do until reeling in / conversion is a matter of putting in hard work and has an element of trial and error until you find what works best. In social media marketing terms, you must first focus on building up your audience and engaging them through the right content which could be inspirational, informative, entertaining or educational. Once you are able to do this, conversion will be much easier and more fun.

Three Ways Native Advertising is Changing the Game in Social Media Marketing

A major topic at Hubspot’s Inbound Publishers Summit last week in Boston was the evolving role of native advertising. Though we’ve seen incredible growth in content produced online in recent years, the explosion has only just begun, and many companies are scrambling to harness the power of digital content. One way that publishers are already doing this (aside from producing said content, of course) is by deploying native ads within it. With native ad spending projected to increase by 35% to $4.3 billion this year, it’s safe to say that the industry’s interest has been officially piqued. Interestingly, 71% of advertisers reported employing native ads in social media content only. How is that affecting current social media advertising practices? Here are three ways:

1.       We already know that social media users essentially ignore generic branded content, so the more appropriate your promotional content is for the context, the better your chances are of your social media audience actually seeing it. Native advertising offers brands an opportunity to connect with users on platforms that are constantly changing to provide better user experiences.

2.     In the SEO and content marketing realms we hear the mantra “Content is King” repeated at every possible opportunity, but a more accurate spin on it for native ads could be “Context is King.” Having a tightly defined audience is key for success in native advertising, though many brands still struggle to define what that success means for their business. On social this can be particularly tricky—is a native advertising campaign’s success measured in shares? Clicks? Reach? New definitions for ROI on social media may emerge as brands learn to use native ads more effectively.

3.   Many social media platforms have offered their own paid ad and native ad services for a while now, but these are heavily reliant on publishers to produce the content streams where they’ll appear. Publishers are in a prime position to capitalize on advertisers’ reliance on their content, and indeed many of them are beginning to offer their own agency services to do just that. Without their own content alliances or production arms, social media platforms could lose out.

Social media users now have more ways to customize their feeds, control their personal information, and block out the content they don’t want to see than ever before. Brands are tasked with maintaining an in-depth understanding of who their audiences are, what they want, and when they should give it to them—the less relevant the message, the more likely it is to be tuned out. It’s a landscape that’s constantly changing (see Buzzfeed’s recent pitch of its POUND (Process for Optimizing and Understanding Network Diffusion tool) which means businesses must be constantly optimizing their social media marketing plans.

Stay tuned for native ad developments outside of the social media space. Google’s own content delivery platform is currently invite-only, and could roll out any day now.

Top 10 Google Plus Blogs and Pages

Google Plus continues to gain steam in the social media community. Current users say its a vibrant community of intelligent people, as opposed to the popular notion that Google Plus is difficult or unfamiliar to use.

The truth is that Google Plus is continuing to thrive, and there is a huge opportunity for marketers to jump on the bandwagon. Google Plus is full of communities interested in sharing high quality content. If you can create the content users like, they most certainly share it! However, how are you going to use Google Plus if you know nothing about it?

In order to aid you in becoming knowledgeable with Google Plus, we’ve listed the top 10 blogs and Google Plus Pages to make you an expert. Here are our top 10 picks:

Google Plus Blogs

9to5Google is a perfect blend of speedy content and updates on Google Plus. If you’ve ever wanted to learn Google Plus news around the clock, bookmark this top blog.

Not only does it provide the best news regarding Google Plus, but Google Plus Daily publishes detailed guest posts from dedicated users of the platform. Stay informed and learned with the articles of GPD.

 Jaana Nystrom’s Google Plus Helper presents technical updates and How-to guides on the latest Google Plus features. Everything from promoting your Google Plus page to managing the use of Hangouts is covered.

HotBlogTips posts Google Plus advice and answers your burning questions regarding Google Plus. It gives advice from several bloggers who use the platform effectively.

Jeff Bullas gives all you need to know on Google Plus! Are you in the dark about Google Hummingbird? Do you know how to optimize your search relevancy? If you answered “no” to these questions, read these posts for tips and tools to find better results.

Learn the tricks of the trade in marketing, psychology, and Google Plus from Martin Shervington Blog! He goes into deep detail to help users understand Google Plus and use it for leverage in business.

Social Media Examiner offers the best step-by-step guides to use for marketing your business. Do you want to take your Google Plus marketing to a whole new level? This page has you covered!

Google Plus Pages

Learn from +ChrisLang in his experiments with Google and Google Plus! The entire page is a really great peek into the updates and progression of the social network.

If you want to learn the ins and outs of Google Plus Hangouts, +RonnieBincer is the man you should be following on Google Plus. His comprehensive live Hangouts and steady Google Plus tips put you on a proper path to success in video broadcasting.

+Yifat Cohen is your Go-To Gal for Google Plus! On her page, she shares tips, updates, and videos that aid in bringing you another step closer to Google Plus mastery.

Which Google Plus blogs do you recommend? List your top picks in the comments section below.

Top 10 Social Media Marketing Apps

Social media is rapidly expanding in the inbound marketing industry, and businesses need the tools to handle it. Day by day, our social networks communicate more than ever before, and keeping track of all that data requires a skillful hand (or in this case, the perfect tool).

With a wide range of platforms for your business to capitalize on, it is necessary to keep your eye on the prize and focus on your social media business goals. Are you looking to take photos? There’s an app for that. Do you want to group chat with a huge audience? There’s an app for that too. At the end of the day, your team can perform at its best with the optimal social media app at their disposal.

Below, we offer then popular social apps to market your business. Every application is unique and performs different from one another. They present a variety of options to experiment with until you find the right fit… or why not use more than one? Here we go!

1. Buffer – The Buffer app is a better way to share and distribute content. Test different post titles, view analytics to judge performance, and utilize across the most popular social media platforms. Test, revise, and repeat the Buffer way!

2. Bitly – Take control of your brand with Bitly! Make smarter social media decisions, monitor real-time analytics, and share content organically. Harness the power of the link with this application.

3. Hangouts – Google Hangouts is fast becoming a top social marketing tool. Connect with your audience through video, share engaging links with group chat, and promote your brand live through Hangouts On Air. There has never been a better time to commence using this innovative product.

4. IFTTT – Put the Internet to work for you. Create “if-then” statements in order to optimize your social networks for the most productivity. If you post to Facebook, then you publish it on Twitter. If you share an image on Instagram, then you’ll auto-download to Dropbox. Think of the possibilities!

5. Muck Rack – Are you looking for thought leaders to follow through social media? Use Muck Rack for the simplest way to discover relevant content and journalist leaders from across the web. Start using Muck Rack, today!

6. Osfoora – If you’re looking for a feature-rich Twitter client for the iPhone, this is it! Stream your updates live, get local notifications, and take advantage of a beautiful design. Osfoora is social marketing at its best on the go!

7. Snapchat – The latest photo-taking app craze to hit the nation is Snapchat! More importantly, use this mobile platform for your marketing purposes. Create time-sensitive, ephemeral photos and call-to-actions for your audience to click.

8. TweetDeck – Your Twitter setup is not complete without the addition of TweetDeck! Use this detailed tool to keep tabs on real-time analytics, social activity, and tracking. Start tweeting like a pro, and get your business marketed!

9. ThinkUp – ThinkUp makes you feel good about the time you are spending online with your audience! The app’s customized insights, cross-platform analytics, and open community puts it ahead of the curve compared to most other social applications.

10. Unified Inbox – Keep up with all your conversations, lists, and tasks with Unified Inbox. Use a synchronized addressbook, internal collaboration, and several other productivity features for your company.

Well, there you have it. We’ve reviewed ten coveted social media marketing apps! Try out a few for your own business, and jot down your favorites in the comments below!

Learn About Twitter Tailored Audiences

Background

Twitter landed an explosive initial public offering, opening at $26 per share and a market capitalization of $27 billion on November 7, 2013. This opening makes it one of the most expensive Internet companies based on potential growth. Since then, Twitter’s share price more than doubled to a record $50.09, closing up at $49.14. The valuation is greatly tied to its latest upcoming feature, Tailored Audiences.

What are Tailored Audiences?

These new ads allow marketers to define their potential customers and send them relevant messages based on both their status updates and browser cookie identification through ad partners.

For example, an advertiser who utilizes Twitter Tailored Audiences collects a user’s browser cookie information and relays the data back to Twitter. Twitter then takes this data and determines which ad group it can place back to the user. The user is then promoted a highly relevant ad from the advertiser on Twitter.

However, this feature is not useful if the cookies are misread. To circumvent this situation, Twitter utilizes its access to user data on desktop and mobile devices in order to send promoted tweets. Users also have the option to opt out of Twitter tracking.

Historically, it was difficult to tie the identity of a mobile visitor to that of a desktop visitor. Twitter’s application ties both strategies together, allowing for greater accuracy of cross-platform targeting.

How does Tailored Audiences help my business?

From a user perspective, visitors are sent much more relevant ads to their Twitter stream. These are not ads that the user might want. Rather the ads connect users to the previously visited sites.

From a business viewpoint, your small business can better target the right customers. You can pinpoint a very specific segment of an audience to communicate with them. This allows your business to easily differentiate between customers who intend to purchase.

Tailored Audiences give both companies and marketers greater insight into their customers’ behavior. In combining this feature with Twitter Search, Twitter is on its way to becoming a specialized and valuable marketing tools for any inbound marketer. This announcement is merely the beginning of great things to come to the powerful Twitter ad platform!

What do you guys think of Twitter Retargeted Ads and its impending global release? Are you planning on using it to reach a broader audience? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Top 10 Social Marketing Blogs

Social media permeates every facet of our lives today. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, or even Google Plus, we are always connected to our social media platforms. In fact, more than a billion users sign in to social media at some point during the day. With this staggering number in mind, legions of business scour the web, looking for ways to properly market to the masses. Many people are recently starting out in this field, looking to create their first social media profile. Similarly, a large number of marketers have been creating social media plans for years.

Whatever amount of exposure you have in social media, you can always stand to learn something new! The blogs we’ve listed here are some of the top authorities in the space. Take a look at them and see what you can learn from each one. Share the knowledge with your team and get to work on creating an engaging and successful social marketing plan!

1. Content Marketing Institute – CMI is a resource full of social media events, top quality articles on content, and it also consults businesses on content strategy. The site’s entire premise is to teach people what content marketing is and what it isn’t.

2. Gary Vaynerchuk – Gary Vaynerchuk is an online media guy with an eye for entrepreneurship. You might think his blog centers around starting a business, but it’s more about valuing even your smallest customers and treating them respectfully. This blog has even more gems, so go check it out.

3. Razor Social – The Razor Social Blog excellently reports on social media results and insights to its audience. If you are looking for expert tips on Facebook, Twitter, and the other social platforms, look no further than Razor Social.

4. Seth’s Blog – Seth’s Blog is another value-filled site that may seem deceiving at first. While the posts and website look rather simple, the thoughts within each post are intensely complex, driving home the point of what kinds of ideas spread and how businesses thrive.

5. Social Fresh – Social Fresh is a group blog that publishes the latest social media news. It is also a conference that brings together the most dedicated social marketing experts from around the country. With more than 80,000 followers, click on over to see for yourself why Social Fresh creates so many marketing experts.

6. Social Media Examiner – Rather than report the news, Social Media Examiner is a blog that provides practical tips and real-life examples on how to succeed in social media. With its massive subscriber base, there is no question Social Media Examiner instructs some of the top applicable advice in this space.

7. Social Media Explorer – While this blog is more for larger agencies, there is still quite a lot to learn from Social Media Explorer. These blog posts range from organization highlights to effective social media strategy. Browse a few articles to learn about their important messages.

8. Social Media Today – Agencies and small businesses encounter many of the same problems with social media. Social Media Today offers a solution to many of those dilemmas. This blog provides an abundance of content targeting current events, as well as offers excellent tips to boost your social media standing. SMT stands as a perfect resource for business owners to learn about social media.

9. Social Mouths – Ecommerce, email marketing, social media, and more – this blog covers all the essential components. Specifically targeted for small businesses, a majority of the the content covers optimization around the noted topics, moving your site forward to a better social presence.

10. The Buffer Blog – The Buffer Blog is a fantastically well-rounded site that pushes its great experiments into happiness, lifestyle design, and social strategy. This superb mix of articles keeps the blog fresh, as well as teaches business owners (and everyday readers!) a lot about social media and efficiently testing your marketing tactics.

Do you know of any other social media marketing blogs worth reading? We want to know which blogs have helped your business! Leave a comment below so you too can contribute to our resource.