Social Media Advertising Hacks

Written by Larry Kim, founder of WordStream.

Let’s start with the bad news first. It’s tougher than ever to get content noticed.

Changes to Google search results pages have further obscured content organically, especially on competitive commercial searches. Meanwhile, paid search costs per click (CPCs) are at all-time highs in established markets.

Organic reach in social media? It’s pretty much dead. Half of all content gets zero shares, and less than 0.1 percent is shared more than 1,000 times.

Additionally, the typical internet marketing conversion rate is less than one percent.

How Content Marketing Doesn’t (Usually) Work

How does content marketing actually work? Many people’s content marketing strategy basically consists of a three-step process:

  1. Create new content.
  2. Share your content on social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.).
  3. People buy your stuff.

Nope. This almost never happens. (For a content marketing strategy that actually works, try a documented plan such as the Content Marketing Pyramid™.)

Most content goes nowhere. The consumer purchase journey isn’t a straight line—and it takes time.

So is there a more reliable way to increase leads and sales with content?

Social Media Advertising To The Rescue!

Now it’s time for the good news! Social media advertising provides the most scalable content promotion and is proven to turn visitors into leads and customers.

And the best part? You don’t need a huge ad budget.

A better, more realistic process for content marketing with promotion looks like this:

  1. Create: Produce content and share it on social media.
  2. Amplify: Selectively promote your top content on social media.
  3. Tag: Build your remarketing audience by tagging site visitors with a cookie.
  4. Filter: Apply behavioral and demographic filters on your audience.
  5. Remarketing: Remarket to your audience with display ads, social ads, and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to promote offers.
  6. Convert: Capture qualified leads or sale.
  7. Repeat.

Promotion is sorely overlooked from many content marketers’ priority list—it’s actually the lowest priority according to a recent study of 1000+ marketers. For marketers who take promotion more seriously, The Ultimate List of Content Promotion Tools is a godsend.

You can use the following ten Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks as a catalyst to get more eyeballs on your content, or as an accelerant to create an even larger traffic explosion.

1. Improve Your Quality Score

Quality Score is the metric Google uses to rate the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC ads, and influences your cost-per-click. Facebook calls their version a “Relevancy Score”:

While Twitter’s is called a “Quality Adjusted Bid”:

Whatever it’s called, Quality Score is a crucial metric. The way to increase Twitter and Facebook Quality Scores is to increase post engagement rates.

A high Quality Score is great: you get a higher ad impression share for the same budget at a lower cost per engagement. On the flip side, a low Quality Score sucks: you get a low ad impression share and a high cost per engagement.

How do you increase engagement rates? Promote your best content—your unicorns (the top 1-3 percent of content that performs better than everything else) rather than your donkeys (the bottom 97 percent of your content).

To figure out if your content is a unicorn or donkey, test it out.

  • Post lots of stuff (organically) to Twitter and use Twitter Analytics to see which content gets the most engagement.
  • Post your top stuff from Twitter organically to LinkedIn and Facebook. Again, track which posts get the most traction.
  • Pay to promote the unicorns on Facebook and Twitter.

The key to paid social media advertising is to be picky. Cast a narrow net and maximize those engagement rates.

2. Increase Engagement With Audience Targeting

Targeting all your fans isn’t precise; it’s lazy and wastes a lot of money.

Your fans aren’t a homogenous blob. They all have different incomes, interests, values, and preferences.

For example, by targeting fans of Donald Trump, people with social media marketing job titles, NRA members, and the hashtag #NeverHillary (and excluding Democrats, fans of Hillary Clinton, and the hashtag #neverTrump), this tweet for an Inc. article I wrote got ten times higher engagement:

Keyword targeting and other audience targeting methods helps turn average ads into unicorns.

3. Generate Free Clicks From Paid Social Media Advertising

On Twitter, tweet engagements are the most popular type of ad campaign. Why? I have no idea. You have to pay for every user engagement (whether someone views your profile, expands your image, expands your tweet from the tweet stream, or clicks on a hashtag).

If you’re doing this, you need to stop—now. It’s a giant waste of money and offers the worst ROI.

Instead, pay only for the thing that matters most to your business, whether it’s clicks to your website, app installs, followers, leads, or actual video views.

For example, when you run a Twitter followers campaign, you pay only when someone follows you. But your tweet promoting one of your unicorn pieces of content will also get a ton of impressions, retweets, replies, mentions, likes, and visits to your website. All for the low, low cost of $0.

4. Promote Unicorn Video Ads!

Would you believe you can get thousands of video views at a cost of just $0.02 per view?

Shoppers who view videos are more likely to remember you, and buy from you. Quick tips for success:

  • Promote videos that have performed the best (i.e., driven the most engagement) on your website, YouTube, or elsewhere.
  • Make sure people can understand your video without hearing it— an amazing 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound, according to Digiday.
  • Make it memorable, try to keep it short, and target the right audience.

Bonus: video ad campaigns increase relevancy score by two points!

5. Score Huge Wins With Custom Audiences

True story: a while back I wrote an article asking: Do Twitter Ads Work? To promote the article on Twitter, I used their tailored audiences feature to target key influencers.

The very same day, Business Insider asked for permission to publish the story. So I promoted that version of the article to influencers using tailored audiences.

An hour later, a Fox News producer emailed me. Look where I found myself:

The awesome power of custom audiences resulted in additional live interviews with major news outlets including the BBC; 250 high-value press pickups and links, massive brand exposure, 100,000 visits to the WordStream site, and a new business relationship with Facebook.

This is just one example of identity-based marketing using social media advertising. Whether it’s Twitter’s tailored audiences or Facebook’s custom audiences, this opens a ton of new and exciting advertising use cases!

6. Promote Your Content On More Social Platforms

Medium, Hacker News, Reddit, Digg, and LinkedIn Pulse all send you massive amounts of traffic. It’s important to post content to each that’s appropriate to the audience.

Post content on Medium or LinkedIn. New content is fine, but repurposing existing content is a better strategy because it gives a whole new audience the chance to discover and consume your existing content.

Again, use social media advertising as either a catalyst or an accelerant to get hundreds, thousands, or even millions of views you otherwise wouldn’t have. It might even open you up to syndication opportunities—I’ve had posts syndicated to New York Observer and Time Magazine.

You can also promote existing content on sites like Hacker News, Reddit, or Digg. Getting upvotes can create valuable exposure that sends tons of traffic to your existing content.

For a minimal investment, you can get serious exposure and traffic!

7. Hacking RankBrain for Insanely Awesome SEO

Google is using an AI machine learning system called RankBrain to understand and interpret long-tail queries, especially on queries Google has never seen before—an estimated 15 percent of all queries.

I believe Google is examining user engagement metrics (such as click-through rates, bounce rates, dwell time, and conversion rates) as a way—in part, to rank pages that have earned very few or no links.

Even if user engagement metrics aren’t part of the core ranking algorithm, getting really high organic CTRs and conversion rates has its own great rewards:

  • More clicks and conversions.
  • Better organic search rankings.
  • Even more clicks and conversions.

For example, research found a 19 percent lift in paid search conversion volume and a 10 percent improvement in cost per action (CPA) with exposure to Facebook ads for the financial services company Experian.

Use social media advertising to build brand recognition and double your organic search clickthrough and conversion rates!

8. Social Media Remarketing

Social media remarketing, on average, boosts engagement by three times and doubles conversion rates, while cutting your costs by a third. Make the most of it!

Use social media remarketing to push your hard offers, such as sign-ups, consultations, and downloads.

9. Combine Everything With Super Remarketing

Super remarketing is the awesome combination of remarketing, demographics, behaviors, and high engagement content. Here’s how and why it works.

  • Behavior and interest targeting: These are the people interested in your stuff.
  • Remarketing: These are the people who have recently checked out your stuff.
  • Demographic targeting: These are the people who can afford to buy your stuff.

If you target paid social media advertising to a narrow audience that meets all three criteria using your high engagement unicorns—the result?

10. Combine Paid Search & Social Media Advertising

For our final, and most advanced hack of them all, we combine social media advertising with PPC search ads on Google using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA).

RLSA is incredibly powerful. You can target customized search ads specifically to people who have recently visited your site when they search on Google. It increases click-through and conversion rates by three times and reduces cost-per-click by a third.

There’s one problem. By definition, RLSA doesn’t target people who are unfamiliar with your brand. This is where social media advertising comes in: it helps more people become familiar with your brand.

Social media advertising is a cheap way to start the process of biasing people towards you. While they may not need what you’re selling now, later, when the need arises, people are much more likely to do a branded search for your stuff, or click on you during an unbranded search because they remember your compelling content.

If your content marketing efforts are struggling, these ridiculously powerful Twitter and Facebook advertising hacks will turn your content donkeys into unicorns! Looking for another awesome hack to supercharge your content ROI? Social curation enables more consistent content publication, supports your created content strategy, and helps you keep track of your favorite information. Download The Ultimate Guide to Content Curation eBook.

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5 Ways for Job-Seeking Millennials to Clean Up Their Social Media Profiles Today

by Christie Carton and first published on Recruiter.com

Graduation has come and gone. If you’re like so many young people today who were unable to secure professional employment in the field of their choice before leaving college, you’re likely still hunting for those ideal job postings, submitting applications, and going on as many interviews as possible.

Resume in order? Check. Networking events attended? Check. Social media accounts cleaned up? Hmm.

If you haven’t done so already, you might want to seriously rethink what you’ve put out into the social media universe as well. This, believe it or not, is a critical part of the job search.

A recent survey conducted by my nonprofit, the 1,000 Dreams Fund, via Toluna Quicksurveys found that half of job seekers polled between the ages of 18 and 25 don’t plan to clean up their social media profiles before applying for jobs. This is a big mistake, especially given that employers say they use social media to screen and possibly eliminate candidates, according to another recent survey.

The bottom line is this: Don’t let some social media goof overpower your stellar application and prevent you from becoming the next promising employee at the company of your dreams!

Here are five tried-and-true tips from other successful grads about cleaning up your social media profile during the all-important job hunt!

1. Google Yourself

Search yourself to see what comes up. Be sure to dig deep and see what each page contains. What you see may surprise you – and it’s the quickest way for you to gauge what employers are seeing.

2. Keep It Private!

Depending on what you find during your Google search, it may be a good idea to make your Facebook profile private so that only those in your network of friends can see all the fun you had in school.

3. Delete, Delete, Delete!

Your employer can access pretty much anything online. If you wouldn’t want them to see a specific post, tweet, or picture, delete it. If you find something on a third-party site you don’t want out there, reach out to the publisher or editor to see if they’ll remove the post. In most cases, they will, especially if you are clear that it could impact your ability to find a job.

4. Keep it PG

Getting ready to post an update, or maybe a pic from that girls’ night out? If it’s something you wouldn’t want your teenage cousin or grandmother to see, you should probably reconsider! At the end of the day, there’s no way to gauge who is looking at your pictures or posts, so you should be sure to avoid posting anything controversial.

5. Leave It to the Pros

Cleaning up your social media presence can be a time-consuming process, so it’s important to know that there are professional “scrubbing” services you can lean on. These services are especially useful when you’re dealing with something that’s hard to remove, because they pride themselves on cleaning up messy digital footprints.

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Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund.

5 Ways to Be Banned By Google Overnight

This article first appear on Website Magazine 3/19/13

by 

Google’s algorithms may be a black box, but its Webmaster Guidelines are meant to leave little room for speculation, yet some gray area remains. While the guidelines are written in easy-to-use language and outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise impacted by an algorithmic or manual spam action, there are no real-word examples, albeit for good reason. 

Here are past and present examples of how to get your website banned by Google overnight.

1. Participate in Link Schemes

Any links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered a link scheme, as was the case in 2011, when the New York Times uncovered a link-building scheme by J.C. Penney. The retailer ranked number one for bedding, dresses, area rugs, and other vague and specific keywords, with “uncanny regularity” for several months. After consulting with an industry expert, the New York Times found 2,015 pages with phrases like “casual dresses,” “evening dresses,” “little black dress” or “cocktail dress,” which all bounced directly to the main page for dresses on JCPenney.com.

NYT excerpt: There are links to JCPenney.com’s dresses page on sites about diseases, cameras, cars, dogs, aluminum sheets, travel, snoring, diamond drills, bathroom tiles, hotel furniture, online games, commodities, fishing, Adobe Flash, glass shower doors, jokes and dentists — and the list goes on.

J.C. Penney said they did not authorize and were not involved or aware of the posting of links that the New York Times sent to them. J.C. Penney immediately fired their SEO agency, but not before Google took manual action against the brand for violating its guidelines. Overnight, J.C. Penney was vanished from search results for anything other than branded keywords (a.k.a. direct searches for J.C. Penney). It took about three months for J.C. Penney to move up the rankings and regain lost rankings.

Build links the right way with Website Magazine’s Big List of Link-Building Strategies

2. Include Doorway Pages

Google defines doorway pages as those that are large sets of poor-quality pages where each page is optimized for a specific keyword or phrase. Google always frowns upon manipulating search engines and deceiving users. In 2006, BMW suffered Google’s wrath for setting up doorway pages to attract search engines and redirect traffic to its German website, BMW.de.BMW’s page rank was reduced to zero. While BMW stated it did not intend to deceive users, the company added, “However, if Google says all doorway pages are illegal we have to take this into consideration.”

3. Sell Links that Pass PageRank

Selling links that pass PageRank violates Google’s quality guidelines; this includes advertorial pages with embedded links that pass PageRank. Google recently penalized Interflora, even removing it from branded search results, for using advertorials to solely influence search rankings. An example of this, is that Interflora reportedly sent bloggers floral arrangements in exchange for links. This was once considered a gray area, but is clearly black hat now.

Google’s Matt Cutts responded, indirectly, to this incident with this blog.

4. Scrape Content

In 2012, Google blacklisted a network of websites run by the family of U.K. Parliament member Grant Shapps after the search giant found the sites breached rules on copyright infringement and that they were based on scraped content. This latter black-hat tactic is typically when webmasters use content from other sites to try to increase credibility and the volume of pages.

According to Shapps’s spokesman (as reported by the Guardian UK), the Parliament member “is quite simply not involved in this business.” Certainly, it was avoidable bad press nonetheless.

5. Use a “Bad” Blog Network 

If your site belongs to a blog network whose purpose is to create backlinks, Google will de-index them and penalize you. In 2012, this happened to Build My Rank, which ultimately closed down and relaunched as HP Backlinks. The relaunch, however, has many people wondering if (and when) Google will go after the network again.

Check out this guide to identifying bad links and disavowing them.

Bonus: Start Cloaking — If you want to get on Google’s bad side, present different content or URLs to human users and search engines. Google bans this practice, because it provides users with different results than they expected. Unfortunately, some sites unknowingly use cloaking. For example, if your site is compromised, hackers may use cloaking to make the hack harder for the site owner to detect. Use Website Magazine’s cloaking checker to avoid a penalty.

Are You a Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

by Mike Dickman

 

Have you noticed that in the last 5 years, electronic gadgets no longer come with user manuals? If you want to learn how to use your new iPhone or Xbox, you jump on your computer and ‘Google it’. That is because the majority of users are considered to be Digital Natives – those whom have grown up with electronic devices. The rest of us are Digital Immigrants, those whom have had to immigrate into the new world of technology. That is why this thing we refer to as Social Marketing seems to be so foreign, so scary, and childish. And by the way, when did Google become a verb?!

Recently, I spoke before a group of business people regarding Social Marketing and how they could become engaged, without being overwhelmed. The first thing I wanted to clarify was the difference between Social Media, Social Networking and Social Marketing.

Social Networking is something all of us have been doing for years. We all have been participating in local Chamber events and fundraisers. And, while some may think they are doing it to support the cause, the real motive has been to network, right? The only difference is with online networking, you don’t need to leave your home or office. It’s quite a bit less personal from what we are all used to, but it works. And, in some cases, it can actually provide the social courage to join a group or participate in a conversation.

Social Media can be defined as the software which is used to participate in social networking. So, think of the Media as: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the latest, Google+. These are the tools that marketers use to market their brands and products, socially, online.

Social Marketing is the act of preparing a marketing plan based on the use of Social Media and incorporating the social aspect with the business’s overall marketing objective.

Notice that the words ‘Networking, Media and Marketing’ are all words that we have used as part of our Marketing dialogues for years. However, the key to Social Marketing is in the word ‘Social’. Social Marketing is just that – SOCIAL. It is word of mouth marketing, peer-to-peer. It is all about a conversation, referrals and sharing.

So, some of you are probably thinking that you don’t need to be chatting with a bunch of high school and college kids on a social network. “They are not my client or prospect demographic.” But did you know that the fastest growing age group on Facebook is 55-65 years old? And, a new user joins LinkedIn (considered to be the ‘professionals’ social network) every second. This year, more than 93% of marketers are using social media for business. And it’s major brands that are doing this. Why? It’s because they can have a persona. They can appear to be human. They can influence thoughts and behavior because we think of them as peers or friends – because we LIKE them.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you are participating on a social network on your computer that you have everything covered. Social Marketing goes far beyond the social networks and desktop computers and extends your marketing into the mobile realm. Are your business and personal reputations mobile ready? In my next article we will discuss taking your marketing mobile. And we don’t mean sticking a magnet on the side of your car!

This Is Google Changing All of Information Sharing

by  

This post originally appeared on gizmodo.com

Google announced a new social sharing project today called Google+. It’s among the company’s most ambitious ventures to date, up there with Gmail, Android, Chrome and, yes, Search. It represents Google’s very future. It’s going to be huge.

Google+ is a concerted effort meant to turn the ship around. Google famously has a poor social track record. Buzz and Wave were failures, so it needs to get this right. But Google+ goes far beyond just sharing status updates or photos with friends: It aims to change the very way we share and communicate. As it notes in a new blog post today, “We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests.”

While there is much more to come, there are three major pieces announced today:

Circles

Circles let you share selectively with certain groups of people. You create a new circle, add contacts to it, and can share with just those selected people. As Google says “[t]he problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in friend paper—and sharing really suffers.” This seems to be somewhat like Facebook’s friends lists. But the big difference is that it isn’t a walled garden. You don’t have to opt into Google+ to be included in a circle. If I want to add someone to it who’s not a Google+user, I can do so via email and they can still take see the things I want to share with them.

Sparks

Sparks is essentially a topical section that delivers news videos and blog posts on subjects you define. But moreover it lets you discuss those things with other people, or as Google puts it, “nerding out and exploring subjects together.” This is something that Google is almost uniquely positioned to deliver. If you think about your Facebook feed, or, say a Tumblr tagged feed, they contain items placed there by humans. Google can deliver an endless supply of newly relevant items using an algorithm.

Hangouts

Hangouts is an online meetup space with live video that includes up to ten people. But it’s designed to let people come and go, dropping by at will, rather than be locked into scheduled meetings. It sounds a bit like Campfire with video.

Mobile

Mobile is the last major component announced today, and it has several moving parts. The table stakes are that you can always add your location (or not). Instant Upload automatically adds your photos to a private album online. Finally, Huddle is a group messaging tool that lets you communicate with a self-selected circle on your mobile device.

But these are just the beginning stages, the initial rollouts that are part of a much larger project led by Vic Gundotra. Wired’s Steven Levy followed Google+ from the inside for more than a year, and has the inside scoop. As he notes, it’s a huge drive by Google. In fact it is, more or less, Google’s future—an internal Manhattan Project meets moon shot.

Developed under the codename Emerald Sea, it is a result of a lengthy and urgent effort involving almost all of the company’s products. Hundreds of engineers were involved in the effort. It has been a key focus for new CEO Larry Page.

The parts announced Tuesday represent only a portion of Google’s plans. In an approach the company refers to as “rolling thunder,” Google has been quietly been pushing out pieces of its ambitious social strategy—there are well over 100 launches on its calendar. When some launches were greeted by yawns, the Emerald Sea team leaders weren’t ruffled at all—lack of drama is part of the plan. Google has consciously refrained from contextualizing those products into its overall strategy.

That overall strategy will begin now, with the announcement of the two centerpieces of Google+. But even this moment—revealed in a blog post that marks the first limited “field tests” outside the company—will be muted, because it marks just one more milestone in a long slog to remake Google into something more “people centric.”

“We’re transforming Google itself into a social destination at a level and scale that we’ve never attempted – orders of magnitude more investment in terms of people than any previous project,” says Vic Gundotra, who leads Google’s social efforts.

The entire story is worth a read, complete with outsized personalities, massive stakes, and secret murals. But the takeaway is that this isn’t just about social networking. As Levy notes, it’s much bigger than that: It’s about organizing information around people.

As Tim Carmody points out on Twitter, “Google doesn’t actually care about social. Google cares about identity. Social (such as it is) is a means to an end.” And: “Not accidental that social, identity, apps, & browser are all linked. This is Google’s play to control the whole stack like Apple does.”

I agree. Google’s biggest screwup wasn’t ceding social space to Facebook. It was ceding identity.

Google wants to get to know you, and help you to get to know yourself. It wants to be the go-to place where you show who you are and what you care about to your friends, your family, your coworkers and the entire world. It wants to be the key you use to unlock the Web and the internet as a whole, the passageway through which all your interactions flow. Today is a big step in that direction.

4 Winning Strategies for Social Media Optimization

by Jim Tobin

This article first appeared on MASHABLE.

Jim Tobin is president of Ignite Social Media, a leading social media agency, where he works with clients including Microsoft, Intel, Nike, Nature Made, The Body Shop, Disney and more implementing social media marketing strategies. He is also author of the book Social Media is a Cocktail Party. Follow him on Twitter @jtobin.

Social media optimization (SMO) is the process by which you make your content easily shareable across the social web. Because so many options exist for where people can view your content, the content model for the web has shifted from, “We have to drive as much traffic to our website as possible,” to the more pragmatic, “We have to ensure as many people see our content as possible.”

You’ll still want most people to see your content on your site — and if you’re doing it right they will — but helping people view content through widgets, apps and other social media entry points will accrue positive benefits for your brand. The more transportable you can make your content, the better.

If you’re ready to get started with a social media optimization plan for your organization, read on for an overview.


Why Social Media Optimization Matters


Before we get to the practical, let’s start with the “Why,” as in “Why you should care about SMO?” As you can see from the chart below, social networks are driving an increasing amount of traffic to an increasing number of websites. Sites like Comedy Central, Forever 21 and Etsy are seeing more traffic from social networks than they see from GoogleGoogle. How social referral traffic is performing for you most likely depends on two factors:

1. How interesting your content is; and

2. How easily shareable you have made that content across a variety of networks.

 

chart image
Image credit: Gigya

In other words, SMO can lead to increased traffic to your site, as friends encourage their friends to digest specific content. If you can appeal to a given person, their friends are statistically more likely to be interested in the same thing, so you’re likely reaching a well-targeted audience.  Further, it also leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were votes for your site.

SMO isn’t just about building a bigger social media presence for your brand. Whether or not your organization has a strong social network presence, the social networks of others can be leveraged to great effect.

Read more . . .


16 Tips for Successful Online Video Marketing

By Amy Porterfield

This article first appeared on Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner

There’s no doubt that online video marketing is on the rise.  Numerous studies and statistics prove that video works.  In fact, Forrester Research found that videos were 50 times more likely to receive an organic first page ranking than traditional text pages.  That’s a pretty impressive stat!

Online video marketing is attractive to many businesses today for numerous reasons.  Making videos and posting them online is fairly inexpensive.  Plus, online videos stay online forever.  If you spend the money to record once, your video could still be getting views a year from now.

Read more . . .