470 million people have profiles on LinkedIn. LinkedIn was founded 15 years ago and has transformed as a company and platform through updates, CEO changes, Microsoft’s acquisition and transitioning from an all online website to an application.
Lennon Patton, Smirk’s director of sales, is an active LinkedIn user.
“As a digital marketer, I am excited about having a platform with a business focus that will be able to deliver better metrics. Some of the industries that Smirk creates strategies for are better served by the business focus that LinkedIn brings to the social media world,” said Patton. “Creating a better user experience should result in much better and more sophisticated ad delivery. This is a smart move by LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn introduced a new update for the desktop version of their site today. It will be more accessible with a straightforward layout. The features you know and love won’t change, but LinkedIn is adding some new user-friendly components to simplify their experience.
One of the more exciting new features is pop-up messaging boxes. Chatbots have been introduced, almost like a wingman, they will help you break the ice with whomever you are private messaging. When you receive a message, on Facebook for example, the message sender and the message will show at the bottom of your screen and you can respond straight from the messaging box.
In addition to the new private messaging and design layout, LinkedIn updated their search bar and navigation. You’re now able to search by people, jobs, companies, groups and schools. Also, the platform’s navigation was reduced to seven areas: Home (Your Feed), Messaging, Jobs, Notifications, Me (your old profile page), My Network, and Search.
Smirk had early access to the redesigned company page and we’re excited for the new, more accessible LinkedIn. The first image below is a preview of the updated LinkedIn company page, and the second image is the old company pages.
Even if you are an occasional user of social media, you have witnessed countless #hashtags. In the past, hashtags included in LinkedIn posts did nothing more than demonstrate the user didn’t fully understand the capabilities of the platform. That’s about to change.
LinkedIn has brought back the use of hashtags to enhance the experience of all 450 million users that use the social platform dubbed the “business-oriented” social networking service.
“Welcome to the Internet, LinkedIn. It’s about time,” said Smirk strategist Michaela Brandt. “Long past are the days since hashtags were reserved only for Twitter.”
As a LinkedIn user, you can include hashtags in anything you write. Whether that is an advertisement a brand sends out, an article you write, or a simple message to a friend congratulating them on a new job — adding a hashtag to your post creates conversation for brands and people. Hashtags organize similar content, which lets any of LinkedIn’s 450 million users find your articles quicker. Using hashtags in a clever way can really skyrocket your following. At any time you may modify your privacy settings in order to monitor who may read your articles.
On the opposite end, when searching for articles, ideas, jobs, or people, hashtags make it easy. With the ability to tap these hashtags, you can find specific needs or explore related information. After finding search results, you can pick other related posts or use that hashtag to participate in the conversation. Like other social platforms, only public posts using the hashtag will be shown in search.
“Frankly, tracking conversations and topics through hashtags just makes sense, especially on a professional platform where topics often revolve around industry and trades,” said Brandt. “Whether or not they’ll be used often or well is still up in the air, but it’s one of the platforms where hashtags make sense for the benefit of the user and publisher alike.”
Although accessible on the desktop version, hashtag use was designed for its iOS & Android apps. LinkedIn knows that the majority of its users are strictly mobile and the small percentage of users who use the desktop version are generally people who are not using hashtags in the first place.
Before this upgrade, searching for content was difficult. When looking for an article, you had to go to the author’s individual profile and swipe through before finding the content. Now, hashtags cut down on search time, making it easier for users to find what they are interested in.
LinkedIn says this update is just the beginning. This is an important step to make sure that its entire library of resources is being utilized and made available to more users. Although 450 million people call themselves LinkedIn users, only a quarter of them visit the site on a monthly basis and this is just one of the ways this platform is trying to re-engage its user base on a more regular basis.
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.
A while back, we published a series of cheat sheets for graphics on different social media sites. Because, frankly, I was tired of Googling it. But in the time warp of the internet, anything more than a few months old is inevitably outdated. Change marches on – and with it the formatting of our favorite platforms.
So here are the latest and greatest cheat sheets for social media graphic sizes, courtesy of Smirk New Media. Provided today: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Coming soon: Pinterest and more.
By: Kurtis Wiles
A new study conducted by TNS on behalf of LinkedIn found that 81 percent of small businesses (SMBs) are currently using social media to drive business growth and 94 percent are meeting marketing objectives through the integration of social media.
The study, called Priming the Economic Engine, surveyed nearly 1000 SMBs to glean insight about their industry and how implementing social media or not implementing social media has impacted their business over the past few years. Almost three out of every five SMBs say that consistent social media integration has played a key role in their business gaining new customers. Not only is there growth in new customers, but according to the study, SMBs are seeing a lot more customer interaction and engagement from existing customers – especially customers who have had positive experiences with their organization.
The fact: Businesses that have devoted themselves to integrating social media as a marketing tool have met marketing objectives through stronger customer acquisition and retention.
According to another LinkedIn study, conducted by Borrell Associates, there is a strong correlation between SMBs that have increased social media spending and those that have achieved “hyper growth.”
“Through the study, we found that SMBs that are in growth mode rely heavily on social media for multiple activities in their value chain,” said Jennifer Grazel, category head for financial services at LinkedIn.
Hyper-growth companies with significant year-over-year increases in revenue are among the most active in social media marketing, finding the most effective social media practices to include branding, word-of-mouth, lead generation and content marketing.
The fact: Increasing financial resources in social media efforts and effectively “practicing” your brand through social media often leads to successful growth – even hyper-growth in some industries.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, seven out of every 10 new jobs are created by small businesses. To learn more about the new social media positions that will be seen in 2014 (maybe even in your own small business) click here.
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