Since working at Smirk, I don’t think a single day has gone by (okay, maybe that’s a little exaggerated) without hearing Allie say something about the necessity of putting money behind brand content on social media.
And, low and behold, a recent study by the American Marketing Association has found that to be absolutely true.
The Journal of Marketing reports that, based on their findings regarding company-generated content, social media is “most effective when combined with ads.” Even more than that though, they found that brand messaging on social media “indeed increases sales and customer profitability.”
Of course the report was quick to emphasize that other forms of marketing – the more traditional routes – are not to be neglected. Although 90 percent of customer responses were found to be generated from digital ads, “marketers should strive to achieve a synergistic approach so that ads in all platforms work together to reach audiences in cadence to an established tone and message.”
So, how do we integrate social media – backed by marketing dollars – into our overall marketing campaigns?
The first step to all marketing decisions starts with defining your target market, followed by framing messaging for optimal performance among those audiences.
Only then can you locate where the desired audience spends most of their time, which in the past few years is oftentimes social media platforms. Knowing where and how your target audience communicates allows you to engage customers according to their preferences.
Various features have rolled out in the last few months and years on social media platforms that allow for more specific demographic reach within those networks. These tools allow us to know who we are communicating with in very real and quantifiable ways more than ever before.
To neglect social media is corporate suicide. So, it’s about time marketers recognized the importance of spending money where the audiences are – social media. And with that, making sure the right people with the right training are running those messages and ads on social platforms for the best results.
In the last 12 years of the evolving social media world, the number of users on platforms are ever-increasing, while marketers lack the confidence and skills for effective messaging on the different networks. The missed opportunities and lost revenue continues to build as the social media skills gap goes unaddressed.
By taking note of some of the causes of the social media skills gap and providing solutions to each, businesses and brands can move from baffled marketers to skilled managers.
Cause: Ever-changing platforms and features
It seems that every few months, at least one social platform has changed a feature – usually Facebook’s algorithm is the culprit of this cause of the increasing skill gap. Some months, it seems as though every platform is rolling out something new: Instagram’s account switching, Twitter’s optional algorithm, etc.
With ever-changing platform features, it can be difficult for brands to keep up with the latest trends on each social hub while still running their business efficiently and effectively.
Solution: Staying informed
Make time to stay informed on the latest trends in social media platforms. Set up Google Alerts for social media news to be pushed to you, rather than seeking it out yourself. Get connected with social media marketers on various platforms to see what they’re talking about in the social media news.
Cause: Lack of understanding social media expectations
Where users previously expected brands to only talk about their products and services, social media allows for two-sided relationships between brands and consumers. The wide adaptability of social media among consumers comes with their expectations to get answers to their questions on whichever platform they decide.
Solution: Know what is being said about your brand, respond
When consumers have either an extremely positive or a negative experience a product or service, they often times take to social media to tell their followers about it. Knowing where your brand is being talked about and what is being said is half of the customer service model on social media. Platforms give brands the opportunity to respond to their critics – and fans – in real-time with their complaints or praises.
Cause: Not receiving the proper education on social media
Unavoidably, many business owners and brand managers did not have a course on social media when they were in school. As a newer trend, these courses didn’t exist, or if they did, they were not comprehensive.
Solution: Social media and younger work generations
As social media becomes more and more prevalent with every new platform, their importance is being taught to the next generation of business owners, marketers and brand ambassadors. For current brand managers and business owners, there are various seminars and courses offered throughout the year educating on the latest and greatest of social media.
Smirk New Media is dedicated to keeping information channels open between brands and audiences. Through media training sessions and workshops for small business owners, Smirk aims to help bridge the social media skills gap.
By: Kurtis Wiles
Social media is an ever-changing and ever-evolving marketing tool. The most popular platforms continuously grow and diversify to draw broader audiences for marketers. Statistical information posted about current social media practices and consumption is often outdated within three months. Staying up-to-date on the current trends and patterns is essential for true social media marketing and business success.
Here are the most recent social media statistics across some of the most popular platforms:
Thanks to Facebook, many companies are not taken seriously without a social media presence anymore. Sharing relevant and information-rich content on a consistent basis is essential to increase traffic, extend your brand and generate leads to your website.
- Over 1.15 billion people are now registered users on Facebook.
- 23% of Facebook users login at least 5 times per day.
- 47% of Americans admit to Facebook being the top influencer of their buying decisions.
- 70% of marketers acquire new customers through Facebook.
- On average, Americans spend 16% of every hour on Facebook.
- Over one million web pages can accessed with the “Login with Facebook” feature.
Twitter has become the fastest growing social network in recent years that can have a serious impact on your business. Telling short stories through video, images and the forever-classic hashtag have become a staple in any serious marketing strategy.
- There are now 550 million registered users and 215 million active monthly users.
- Twitter achieved a growth rate of 44% between 2012 and 2014.
- Over 34% of marketers use Twitter for lead generation.
The social network powered by the most influential search engine, Google+ is all the more powerful due to its increasing influence on search rankings. With only three years on the social media scene, Google+ has literally changed the nature of content marketing.
- There are now over 1 billion enabled accounts and 359 million active monthly users.
- Google+ had a 33% growth rate last year.
- People aged 45 to 54 years old have increased their usage on Google+ by 56% since 2012.
Bonus – Big Picture & Visual Mediums
- 72% of all internet users are now active on social media.
- 71% of those users access their social media from a mobile device.
- Youtube has over one billion active monthly users
- Pinterest has 20 million active monthly users
- Instagram has 150 million active monthly users
Social media can incite serious marketing and sales results, however, real results come from understanding your audience and creating content that fulfills their needs and expectations. Every piece of your social media presence is necessary to create a web of successful marketing and follower relationships. Take advantage of Facebook’s active population, Twitter’s growing popularity and hashtag phenomenon and other up-and-coming mediums to realize real social media and business success.
Welcome to the world of “Not Provided”.
In a move that has rocked the digital marketing world, Google has announced that it will encrypt all of its search results. While that may sound wonderful for privacy advocates, it torpedoes the ability of marketers and website owners to see which keywords are bringing in visitors.
Two of the top sites in our industry – Hubspot and SearchEngineLand.com – have looked at the issue. Basically, instead of Google Analytics showing the search keyword(s) that visitors used to get to your website, Google will block that info – posting “Not Provided.” For people familiar with Google Analytics, the percentage of searches coming up under that term has grown over the past two years.
Google has said that more search data will be available as part of its Google AdWords program … hmmm.
I asked Smirk New Media Business Development Director Stephanie Bice, who oversees all things SEO and Pay-Per-Click for our clients, her reaction to this news. Here are her thoughts:
“How can you write content, unless you know what potential customers are searching for? If I’m a business and I think the keyword phrase ‘flower shop OKC’ is how customers are finding me, but they are searching for ‘flower shops in Oklahoma City,’ I won’t know that using Google Analytics.”
“Essentially, everyone (will now be) guessing what kind wording they should be using in order to drive traffic to their site.”
“Social media may end up play a bigger part in driving traffic to your site than organic searches. You’d be better off on spending your money on growing your social audience. At least you are going to be able to measure results, because of the information about the audience you will have, instead of guessing.”
Combine this with Google’s recent tweaks to it overall search algorithm and it adds up to how to get the best results: consistent social media activity and quality content.
There were some interesting developments and milestones reached in social media this week.
Facebook is expected to announce plans to change its large, single column news feed. This would be the first major change to the news feed design in seven years. Rumor has it Facebook will expand to multiple feeds and feature some sort of Instagram and Spotify integration. The new design could feature a feed for photo, music, and another feed featuring only news, videos and app sharing.
We’ll know more about this development tomorrow after Facebook’s big planned press event. Stay tuned for more information. One billion is the magic number this week.
LinkedIn reached one billion Endorsements this week.
The feature was launched in September 2012. Users can vouch for other user’s specific skills with only the click of a button. It was created to encourage more profile interaction and it’s accomplished that. However, it remains to be determined if these quick Endorsements have any positive impact on your digital professional presence. Personally, I’m not convinced a classmate vouching for your public speaking skills, without a formal recommendation, will result in your speedy employment.
Sesame Street’s latest video starring Count von Count, posted today, is titled “Counting the ‘You’s in YouTube.” One of the channel’s most popular videos, “Elmo’s Song,” has over 87 million views. YouTube is frequently banned in school environments, but this milestone makes a significant statement about YouTube’s educational possibilities.
Twitter announced it will discontinue its mobile apps, discontinue Facebook integration in May and focus more on its web-based version.
The Twitter-owned TweetDeck will be removed from app stores by early May and will stop functioning shortly after that. TweetDeck’s team say the decision reflects where the majority of their users are using their product. Recently, Twitter’s mobile app added major features including photo filters, revamped user profiles and an advanced search. TweetDeck’s features fill some users needs and if the mobile app isn’t cutting it, why not redesign for better functionality? Instead, Twitter’s content to forfeit those users who will either go to their Twitter app or one of their competitors. Tumblr mobile users will see ads soon.
Companies will be able to promote their posts to mobile app users within the next three months. The ads will mirror ones added to the website format months ago. Users and advertisers can promote content for as little as $1 a post.
Tumblr’s mobile users have quadrupled in the past six months and are closely approaching the amount of users on its website. Tumblr has a monthly audience of more than 170 million. With this new development, Tumblr hopes to turn its first annual profit in 2013.
Google+ launched a redesign of profiles and pages today in attempt to steal some of Facebook’s thunder. New feature include a “Local Reviews” tab, larger cover photos with a better aspect ratio and an easier way to edit information in the “About” tab. We’re expecting more features to be unveiled in coming weeks.
Stay tuned on this development. To summarize this week’s developments, social media continues its massive growth and platforms strive to stay relevant and exciting as they grow. What do you think about these developments? Do you think these redesigns are exciting or unneccessary?
While working on a client project together, we reached out to our great friends at S Design Inc., suggesting their team tackle the Wild West world of social media graphic sizing.
There are a few social media icon sizing guides floating around the web, but nothing really definitive, that we can pass along to clients and friends who want to make sure their Facebook cover looks perfect and their YouTube icon is legible.
So here they are, social media graphic sizing templates for Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. Again, big thanks to S Design.
If you are interested in learning more about social media, branding and all aspects of marketing, considering joining S Design, Smirk New Media and other area experts at the M3: Marketing Minds Meet Conference, March 13 in Oklahoma City. Click here for more information and to register
By Allie Carrick, Strategist
The word marketing’s first known use was in 1561. Successful organizations always evolve and thrive with world changes. First, print advertising appeared when Gutenberg invented moveable type in 1450. Then, the first American magazine was published in 1741 in Philadelphia. Next, in 1835 the first large outdoor poster (more than 50 square feet) was hung in New York promoting the circus. Radio ads began in 1922 and in 1941 the first television ads appeared. Telemarketing emerged in 1970 and a Motorola researcher made the first hand-held mobile call in 1973. In 1985, the emergence of desktop publishing caused print ads to explode. Ten years later, search engines launched and the first know mention of search engine optimization occurred.
The Digital Revolution changed the way organizations must interact with their target to be effective. Businesses that achieve longevity remain flexible with world changes. If you’re on the fence about devoting a portion of your advertising budget and you’re an undecided social media voter, this post is for you.
Your Social Profiles Can Bolster Prospective Business
In 2000, there were only 100 million daily Google searches and by 2010 that number grew to 2 billion. In 2011, 65% of adult Internet users said they used a social networking site. This knowledge is empowering to the marketer. A significant portion of your audience uses the Internet and social sites to communicate and to research. They might search for your Facebook profile to determine your organization’s legitimacy, services and/or location. 88.1% of U.S. Internet users ages 14 currently browse for or research products online. This type of organic consumer research takes place everyday and isn’t always easy to measure, but it happens and is powerful in forming decisions about your company.
No Matter the Expertise, Social Reach Is a Factor in Success
You might be reading this post and saying something like, “This is great, but Online casino my type of business doesn’t apply and I don’t find value in social media promotion.” The hard truth is that social media use is just as, if not more popular than television use in this country. In most instances, you have the best chance to reach your target market by investing ad dollars into integrating your company into the digital world. In some instances, your social profiles represent your company’s first impression. Your organization’s challenge is to make an impersonal Internet, personal and engaging for people checking out your business online.
Work To Be Accessible to Your Consumer
I’m a young adult and I frequently use the Internet and social media to quickly research countless decisions. I will unconsciously make decisions about things by what I see online. Often, I won’t go to an unfamiliar place if they don’t have an established digital presence because I assume it could be closed, suspicious or the product could not be what I expect it to be. People that hear about your business and your social profiles will seek you out online to learn more about your company in a noninvasive nature. People are on Facebook for hours every day. Your effort in this area can foster confidence between you and the new audience you need to reach to be successful.
There are different ways to integrate your company into the digital world. If you’re starting from scratch, Smirk can help you find a focus. Sometimes you can be more effective by concentrating on developing in certain digital areas more than others, such as email marketing campaigns or building profiles on sites like Pinterest or Foursquare. The digital age we exist in is branded by an emphasis on information sharing, user-centered strategy, and collaboration. Like each wave of marketing evolution, the sooner you adopt the movement, the better it will be for your company.
After nearly 18 months of wonderment, speculation and imagination, Google finally unveiled what its fiber-to-the-home initiative in Kansas City will look like. It’s definitely an interesting picture, albeit a work in progress.
Here’s what we know: Google Fiber will combine a superfast Internet connection of up to a gigabit download and upload speeds with a conventional cable TV offering. The combined price for Internet and TV will be $120 a month, while Internet only will cost $70 a month. There is a steep $300 connection fee Google is currently waiving.
If consumers are lucky, many of the gigabit Internet features will become industry standards. Google promises no data caps along with its superfast speeds as well as 1 TB Google Drive cloud storage. That kind of storage space through your ISP could put a serious dent in the cloud storage and external hard drive markets.
On the Internet side, the real game changer from a broadband access perspective is the “free” broadband service Google will offer. For a one-time fee of $300 (or $25 for the first 12 months), you can get a 5 mbps service for at least seven years. That breaks down to a price of around $3.60 per month.
At the introductory event, Google spent nearly as much time talking about TV as they did the Gigabit Internet. In attempting to reinvent cable TV, Google has shrunk the cable box and added a 7-inch Android tablet remote with Bluetooth capabilities. You also get a 2 TB storage box that can hold up to 500 hours of HD recordings along with uploading your own videos and photos.
Upstart cable TV providers have a tremendous advantage over existing competitors since they don’t have to design operating systems and features that accommodate older legacy equipment. Google has taken advantage of that fact with a sleek, intuitive interface that could also become industry standard.
With all the questions that were answered, many remain. Despite an impressive feature list, the current TV offerings are laughable. The company says it is launching Google Fiber with content from providers who share their vision. Currently, that doesn’t include Disney/ABC, Fox, Time Warner Inc. or AMC Networks. Hard to imagine a relevant cable provider without the Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News, Fox Sports, CNN, HBO, TNT or AMC. Hopefully the lineup will expand before full deployment.
Another potential red flag is the speed test at the launch event. With presumably no one else on the network, the Google demo achieved average download speeds of 937 mbps and upload speeds of 784 mbps. Blazing fast, but below the advertised speed of a gigabit both ways. Google also isn’t yet offering this service to businesses, but says it will down the road.
There is one huge question left unanswered. What the heck do you do with a gigabit? Google doesn’t seem to know for sure either. Their demo focused on the mundane examples of moving HD video and high-resolution photos … no mention of killer apps or hints of a technological breakthrough that will make everyone wish they had a gigabit. At this point, the biggest draw appears to be that everyone in your home can stream Netflix at the same time to every device you own with no lag. A great feature, but not exactly The Next Big Idea.
One idea that would be great to see KC embrace is to tackle the challenge of access. While $300 for seven years or more of broadband access is a tremendous deal, even that price is out of reach for many low-income working families. For as little as $500, you could equip a student with a broadband connection and a net book computer. There are just under 17,000 students in the Kansas City, Mo. School District. Wouldn’t it be cool if Kansas City found a way to raise the approximately $8.5 million needed to provide free broadband and a computer to every student in the school district?
Google is currently accepting pre-registrations with a deadline of Sept. 9 for eligible neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods that met pre-registration goals will be the first to get the service. The first installations could only be a few weeks away, so we should soon start hearing the reviews.
With summer rapidly approaching, it’s time to do some spring-cleaning around your social media sites to keep your followers hype and to gain even more attention. Through research, observation and experience, we’ve got a few tips to help you step your game up.
1. Personalize it.
Too many companies have resorted to using automated tweets and posts to market their services. Customize your updates by attaching a message before the link so that consumers recognize that it isn’t just generic. By adding a message, it also increases your endorsement, because every share or retweet after that point will include your name and message, not just the URL. Let’s be real: less people stay on the phone for an automated
recording; likewise less people view the post of an automated URL.
2. Play off Pinterest.
Pinterest has become one of the hottest commodities as of late. If your company doesn’t have any pins circulating- start pinning. And if you do, then pay close attention to the types of people that are pinning your products. Key in on their other interests and try to create an even more intriguing image by getting to know the tastes of those who fancy yours.
3. Put on some makeup.
So to speak, of course. You can grab a lot of attention with some simple site maintenance. You don’t have to give your social media pages a total makeover; just give them a little touch up. People enjoy a change of scenery every now and then. By doing little things such as putting up new pictures, altering some colors or changing a background, your online profile can take on a whole new look.
Don’t let your online appearance get sloppy. Refresh your focus, clean up your design and leave the people coming back for more!