Battleground Mobile: Why (& How) to Prepare for the Future

Posted by EricEnge

[Estimated read time: 12 minutes]

The world of mobile continues to explode. Major players like Google, Facebook, and Apple are investing massively in efforts to establish themselves as the dominant player in the new markets that are emerging as a result. These companies are betting in a big way on continuing changes in mobile usage and in user expectations for mobile devices, and that means you should be, too. It means you need to have a mobile-first mentality.

The investments by these companies are happening at many different levels. For example, Google has already made mobile friendliness a ranking factor, and intends to increase the strength of that signal in May 2016. But there’s much more to this story, so let’s dig in!

Continuing rise of mobile devices

Sure, you’ve heard it before, but the growth of installed mobile devices is probably happening even faster than you think:

According to this data, PCs, tablets, and smartphones will only be about 25% of the installed Internet-enabled devices by 2020. Just a few years ago, these represented two-thirds of the installed Internet devices. In the biz world, this is what we call a “disruptive change.”

Many of the new device types will probably have a fairly passive role in our lives (such as smart refrigerators, smart thermostats, and other Internet of Things devices). By this, I mean that I don’t expect them to become devices that we interact with heavily.

However, many classes of these devices will be ones that we’ll interact with substantially, such as smart TVs, Internet media devices, and wearables.

Here’s a recast view of that same chart focusing on just this class of devices:

Looking at this new chart, we see that PCs and tablets – the devices that have a fairly substantial keyboard available – still make up only about 40% of the installed devices.

Rise of voice search

So how will we interact with those devices? The primary way of doing that will be via voice.

In the recent keynote event I did with Gary Illyes, he indicated that the number of voice searches Google received in 2015 was double that of 2014, so they’re definitely seeing a steep rise in voice search volume.

The recent interview that Danny Sullivan did with Amit Singhal underscored this. The now-retired Head of Search Quality at Google (he retired as of February 29, 2016) spent a year living primarily on mobile phones. One of the interesting exchanges in the interview:

Danny Sullivan: Do you tend to type more or do you voice-search more?

Amit Singhal: I’m swiping and voice-searching far more than letter-typing.

At another point in the interview he also says: “I realized … that on mobile devices, that I wanted to act more.” This notion is backed up by something Gary Illyes said in our recent keynote event: “We get, I think, 30 times as many action queries by voice as by typing.”

This emergence of voice search is a big deal. As Singhal noted above, this leads to much more voice search, and voice queries use natural language queries far more than typed searches. This appears to be one of the major reasons behind Google developing and launching its RankBrain algorithm.

Who’s winning the mobile wars so far?

Recently, I watched a great video of a presentation by Chartbeat’s Tony Haile. In this video he shows some interesting data on content consumption, as well as the mobile market. One of the more fascinating charts is this one showing that Facebook utterly dominates consumption of major news events:

Note that this particular chart is for one single story on The Atlantic, entitled “What ISIS Really Wants,” but it’s a compelling chart just the same. In addition, Facebook has 678 million users (47% of all their users) that access their platform solely from mobile devices, and 934 million of their 1.44 billion users (65%) access Facebook from a mobile device every day.

Taking this a step further, you can see how Facebook’s dominance here plays out on a minute-by-minute basis, using (once again) the ISIS news story as an example:

In this view, you see Google leading the early surge, but once Facebook spikes, its volume quickly overwhelms that of Google. So in this view, it looks like Facebook is dominating major news cycles. In contrast, Google owns the lulls in the news cycles:

Another interesting note from the Haile presentation is that overall mobile traffic share is continuing to grow, and is pushing towards 60% and higher of all traffic. However, he notes that this is “not because it’s killing desktop, it’s because it’s outgrowing it.”

Haile also points out that there are 5 types of things that you can do with content. These are:

  1. Create
  2. Host
  3. Curate
  4. Distribute
  5. Monetize

Facebook has historically been used to curate and distribute content. With their new Facebook Instant Articles initiative, they are now taking on the hosting and monetization of content. I’ll discuss that more below.

So does this mean that Facebook is the runaway winner in mobile? No, as the charts above focused on the major news cycles, but nonetheless, it shows that Facebook has some strong advantages over Google that you might not have expected.

Mobile apps

Another thing that many underestimate is the growing importance of the apps market. comScore’s September 2015 Mobile App Report provides some compelling data to help you increase your understanding of where apps fit into the overall market.

First, let’s took at the share that apps represent of all digital media time:

Per this chart, usage in all 3 segments is growing (including desktop), but the growth of time in apps is happening at a far greater rate than any other segment. In addition, time spent on apps exceeds that of time on desktop and the mobile web together. Note that not all app time is on smartphones, as usage in tablets have high app usage as well, but smartphone app usage by itself represents 44% of all digital media time spent:

I gotta tell you, seeing that 44% number was a “wow” moment for me. Facebook and Google have both recognized the importance of this growing usage pattern. You can see this in the following chart of the top 25 installed apps by user count:

The top 6 apps, as well as 8 of the top 9 apps, are all provided by either Facebook or Google. Ever wonder why Google keeps Google Plus around? Might have something to do with that app coming in at position 18 among the most-installed apps. This makes G+ a huge potential source of data for Google.

Facebook has the clear lead here too, though, as it’s the number-one installed app, and it’s considered the number one app for 48% of those that have it installed:

One of the big problems with Apps for most publishers is even after you get installed is driving ongoing usage. According to Google, “only one quarter of installed apps are used daily while one quarter are are left completely unused.”

One method that Google offers to help app publishers is app indexing. This will enable content within apps to show up in search results for related queries:

Google currently has 50 billion links within apps indexed, and “25% of searches on Android return deep links to apps for signed-in users. In addition to driving re-engagement, app indexing on Android will also surface install buttons for users who do not yet have your app installed. Since 1 in 4 apps are already being discovered through search, app indexing is a simple and free method for acquiring new users.” Here are some examples of app install buttons showing up in the SERPs:

As shown here, the query that led to this showing up in the SERP was the name of the business, Priceza. However, Google’s Mariya Moeva provided me with other examples of “app seeking queries” that might bring up such an install button:

  1. restaurant finder
  2. grocery shopping list
  3. breaking news app

The benefits of app indexing should be obvious, but Google shares many case studies here. One of these from AliExpress showed an 80–90% increase in search impressions, and a 30–40% increase for searches on Android for users that had the app installed.

This leads to bringing users back to your app, and this offers compelling value as app engaged users tend to be more loyal, place higher dollar value orders, and order more frequently. Part of the upside in terms of visibility results from the fact that app indexing is used by Google as a ranking signal, though the scope of that boost isn’t clear.

Driving initial installs, and then getting help to get users back to your app seems like a good thing!

Speed, speed, and more speed

You’ve heard this, too: that speed is paramount. But you might still have no idea how important. You may well have seen data like this:

Or you may have seen data from some of the Akamai travel site performance study that showed:

  1. Three second rule: 57 percent of online shoppers will wait three seconds or less before abandoning a site
  2. 65% of 18–24 year olds expect a site to load in two seconds or less

It would be tempting to look at all this data and then start setting specific goals as to how fast you need to be, but I want to discourage you from thinking about it that way. Instead, I’m going to give you a different goal:

Be faster than your competition

In today’s hyper-connected world, the real issue is that any time you offer some subpar aspect to what you do, the competitive alternative is only a click or two away. Understanding the implications of that, and applying it in all your online thinking is one of the most important things you can do.

Don’t just focus on being faster than they are today either, but make yourself faster than they will be in 6 months or a year from now.

For some basic help you can check your pages out in Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. However, both Facebook and Google offer initiatives for dramatically speeding up your web pages, and that’s what I’ll explore next.

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles officially launched on May 12th, 2015. The idea behind the program is to dramatically speed up performance of content on mobile devices. When the program initially launched, it was available only to some publishers, such as the NY Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Business Insider, NBC News, and Mic.

The benefits that the program offers is near-instant loading of content on mobile devices, and the opportunity to get Facebook to sell your ad space for you (though you can still sell it yourself if you want to). If Facebook sells the ads for you, the split has been reported at 70% to you and 30% kept by Facebook, though that does not appear to be a hard-and-fast number.

Instant Articles come with some neat visualization features too, such as rapid scrolling, zooming capabilities, and the ability to connect to maps functionality.

However, the platform is a proprietary one, with Facebook hosting the content. This will be scary to some. To try and ease those concerns, Facebook does enable publishers to sell their own ads if they prefer, without any need to pay Facebook a cut, or to include their own analytics on the Instant Articles.

As of April 12, 2016, this program will be opened up to all publishers. According to Peter Kafka of re/code: “When I asked reps there if that included one-person operations – that is, someone typing their own stuff on a Tumblr page or Medium page or whatever – they said yes, with a tiny bit of hesitation.”

Accelerated Mobile Pages

In October of 2015, Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) were announced. Like Facebook Instant Articles, its goal is to load pages on mobile devices instantly. One of the fundamental differences about AMP is that it’s an ope source project, with participants such as:

  1. Google
  2. Pinterest
  3. Twitter
  4. WordPress
  5. The Guardian

AMP relies on two basic principles to make it operate faster:

  1. The permitted HTML is very limited, with the basic goal being that all code is already pre-rendered to minimize need for server accesses when rendering a page.
  2. The pages can be cached by third parties. For example, Google already has the caching infrastructure in place, but companies such as Pinterest and Twitter can set up their own if they choose.

To make this work, you are only allowed to use fairly limited CSS, and the AMP-supplied JavaScript library. You can more or less forget about AJAX, or forms, for example.

There are also some hoops you need to jump through to implement analytics on these pages, run your ads, and deal with unsupported functionality, but workarounds do exist. For example, according to Paul Shapiro at SMX West, iframes are “the holy grail of unsupported functionality” for AMP:

Also, to implement analytics, you’ll need to use special tags. Paul Shapiro recommends the PageFrog plugin to help with that for both AMP and Facebook Instant Articles:

Expect the AMP platform to evolve rapidly, as there are many interested parties working on this and many of the current shortcomings will get better over time.

Developing an action plan

The cumulative weight of all these changes represents a significant disruptive event. These are the times when businesses can rapidly accelerate their growth, or lose the opportunity and get stuck playing catch-up. I’m pretty sure which of those two scenarios I prefer. The first steps, really, are to understand what are the specific opportunities for connecting with your customers over mobile, and prioritizing among them.

You should have a basic mobile-friendly site, as that’s already a ranking factor. But, your thought process needs to go deeper than that. For example, start understanding what type of mobile experience your customers want to be having. I’d urge you to put significant creative thinking into this question, as the best mobile experience might involve approaches that are quite different from what you do on your current website.

The strategic shift you need to make is to make your business mobile-first. Any time you think about adding something to your website, for example, stop coming up with the desktop design first and relying on responsive web design to handle mobile for you. Start thinking about your mobile experience first, and then consider the desktop variation second.

As you engage in that thought process, be willing to incorporate some of the specific elements I’ve discussed within this article. Here’s a summary of those items, and how they might fit in:

  1. Should you build an app? Yes, if you believe you can put enough value into an app to generate installs and bring users back to use it on an ongoing basis.
    • While I did not discuss this in this article, make sure to perform App Store Optimization to help generate more installs as well.
    • Implement Google’s app indexing. This may help you generate more installs, and should also help bring people back to your app on a regular basis
  2. Should you implement Facebook Instant Articles? I’m a big fan of trying this out for your article-level content. It can’t hurt to have it load instantly within Facebook, particularly if you do any level of Facebook promotion. We’re planning to test it here at STC and see what it does for us.
  3. Should you implement AMP? I’m in the same camp on this one: you should try this, and we’re testing it here at STC.

As for the impact of natural language (voice) search, this just increases the emphasis on the quality of your content and your focus on natural language in that content, instead of obsessing over tweaking the content for search engines.

This list really just itemizes the tactical opportunities for you, and the biggest point is that you need to start operating from a mobile-first mindset at all levels in your online business efforts.

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The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Choosing a Social Media Niche: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding, Analyzing, and Testing The Best Platform For Your Business

You’ve read all the articles and social media blogs, and you’ve heard that you should be on Twitter, you need to be on Facebook, and you’re losing out if you’re not on Pinterest.

Is that truly the case?

Turns out, most social media experts believe in prudence: that you might miss out on connecting with your true audience if you’re spreading yourself too thin on too many social networks.

But who is your true audience?

How do you get to know them?

Where are they hanging out?

How can you find out which social network is the right fit for your audience and what to pick as your niche?

We’ve devised a step-by-step process.

pablo (4)

Go all in or one at a time?

When it comes to social media, there are two major strategies or schools of thought:

  1. Be everywhere
  1. Focus on one network

1. Be everywhere

The “Be Everywhere” strategy was popularized by Smart Passive Income’s Pat Flynn, who believes in the idea that if you truly want to build your audience, the best way to do that is to go where they are. Some of them may like audio, some might prefer video, others prefer blogging as a way to learn and get information.

If you pick only one channel, he says, you’re missing out on the audience that prefers other modes of learning. In a podcast interview, he notes:

When you start a blog or a website or any sort of business, I compare it to putting a message into a bottle and then throwing it into the ocean…Sometimes, more often than not, people will eventually find it through Google search naturally or somebody with some influence will pick it up and then share it with their friends and followers and the tide will have taken it somewhere that will benefit you. But the whole point about the Be Everywhere strategy is don’t just throw your message into the ocean and just hope. You’ve got to place your message where people are already looking for brands or websites or information that you already have.

There are some fantastic benefits to the “Be Everywhere” strategy:

  1. You reach people who have preferences for one channel over another quickly. If you’re on Twitter and Pinterest and YouTube, you’re reaching audiences who enjoy text, audiences who enjoy images, and audiences who enjoy video. Get rid of any of those social media networks and you may lose a large chunk of your potential audience.
  1. Some people may choose to follow you on several different networks. This gives you the opportunity to reach them through many different channels and get your message across multiple times without even trying.

If you have a social media team or the budget to spend on one, the “Be Everywhere” strategy can be a fantastic one and I highly encourage you to try it.

For brands and one-person businesses with limited time and resources, however, it can be very difficult to have a fruitful presence on many different networks.

If you’re a small team, I recommend the next strategy, which is to pick one network and focus on it exclusively.

be-everywhere

2. Focus on one network

With this strategy, you’d pick one social media network, get extremely good at delivering what your audience wants from it, and then, when you have systems in place for getting new followers, generating leads, and bringing people over to your newsletter or funnel, only then would you move on to the next social network.

In her post “Trim the Fat From Your Social Media Plan,” Laurie Hurley, the CEO of a social media marketing agency writes:

Trying to be everywhere with your social media plan will result in not being anywhere with substance. Narrow your focus and see greater results.

Doing this can have several advantages:

  1. It’s easier to put your energy into one social media channel and build traction with that before moving on to the next one. This can also be great for your social proof, since building 1,000 subscribers quickly on say, Twitter, is better than having 200 followers each of five different social media channels.
  1. Building your audience for the first time on any given social media channel probably the most difficult part of social media marketing. But the good news is that once you’ve got some traction on one network, building your audience on the second, third, and fourth networks becomes a lot easier since many of your followers from one network will follow you over to the next network as well. This gives you traction pretty much immediately with engaged readers as well as social proof, helping you attract even more much more quickly.
  1. Staying focused on one social media channel at a time helps you to stay consistent and to learn, especially about your customers’ needs and wants on that particular platform. Once you understand what your target audience responds to on one platform, say Twitter, it becomes easy to then tweak that content to suit your audience on a different platform.This also helps you pick up tips and tricks that help you grow faster on one particular platform and the work you put in builds on itself, creating a compounding effect instead of being distributed among different channels.
  2. Being focused on one channel exclusively allows you to be very quick and responsive with your audience, which can be a fantastic way to build relationships and grow your audience early on. Research shows that over half of consumers won’t trust a company if they don’t have a social media presence and don’t engage with customers. By having the bandwidth to respond, and respond quickly, to people on social media, you can easily stand out and get more visibility.
  1. When you’re focusing on one social media channel at a time, it gives you the time and the flexibility to jump quickly on to new social media channels that seem like the perfect fit for your brand and become an early adopter. It also helps you deal with changes and new rules that come up on the existing ones, such as those that regularly happen within Facebook.

While you may be convinced that going one at a time with social networks is the way to build your brand visibility, the question still remains: Which one do you focus on first and how do you make that decision?

Let’s talk about that now.

Which social media platform should you use? 6 steps for figuring it out

Step 1: Understand your audience

Which social media platform your audience is most likely to use will come down to who defines that audience in the first place. What do your demographics look like?

  • Are your customers primarily male or female?
  • What age range?
  • Are they likely to be married and have children?
  • What kind of purchasing power do they have?

These are important questions to ask when you’re at this first step because it helps you narrow down the places where your users and customers may be hanging out. For instance, we know that 85% of Pinterest’s users are women. If your brand is largely female-focused, you know pretty quickly that Pinterest needs some serious consideration in your social media marketing plan.

For The International Freelancer, my business that provides training to freelance writers and journalists, for instance, I found that my audience was largely to be found on Twitter over Facebook or Pinterest, not only because of the text over images nature of my business, but also because journalists and writers, as a group, prefer speed and efficiency over laidback pinning.

It also helps you rule out platforms that are unlikely to work as my friend Chris Thorne, who runs a website for make-up artists, points out in his post, “Why Facebook is a Waste of Time for [Make-up Artists].”

So, how do you go about finding who your core audience is?

One of the simplest ways to do this is with Google Analytics. The steps below will give you a good idea of how to approach this:

  1. Log on to your Google analytics dashboard.
  2. Under the “Audience” section, click on “Demographics.”
  3. Click on “Overview.”
  4. You’ll see graphs and pie charts giving you a bit of detail about your audience.

When I did this for my own business, The International Freelancer, as you can see below, I found that my audience skews fairly young (mostly between the ages of 25 and 34) and are largely female.

Google-Analytics

Step 2: Understand your goals

You’ve looked outward towards what it is that your audience wants. Now it’s time to look inwards to what you want. Why are you spending time, money, and resources on social media? What do you hope to get out of this process?

In her post on Search Engine People, Sharon Hurley Hall, offers the following ideas:

  • increasing awareness of your brand
  • giving your brand personality
  • connecting with your customers with helpful or entertaining information
  • delivering customer service
  • getting access to influencers
  • showing leadership in your niche
  • increasing authority with your audience and search engines
  • improving your online reputation
  • building a network of people interested in your business
  • streamlining and segmenting your marketing
  • increasing conversions

Remember, these are great goals to consider but they’re not all great goals to have. At most, you want to think about the one or two ways that social media can help your business and focus exclusively on those.

Which social media channel you end up picking will largely depend on what you hope to achieve.

Step 3: Understand the different options and what purpose they each solve

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of social media networks out there, from the broad-ranged, such as Facebook and Twitter, to the niche and fringe. You don’t need to understand, or even know of all of them, but having a general sense of what’s out there and what purpose it can solve can help you start making decisions early on.

To that end, let’s talk about some of the bigger social networks out there and whether or not they may be right for your business.

Facebook

With 1.49 billion monthly active users and an average of 20 minutes per days spent per user on the platform, Facebook is pretty difficult to ignore as a social platform.

Facebook, however, can be a tricky platform. It’s been noted repeatedly that despite your best efforts at audience building, only a fraction of your audience will see your updates. Even so, Facebook is one of those platforms that require personality, personalization, and regular reader interaction. It’s a fantastic network to engage with your readers in, especially with cool and clever storytelling strategies, but if your goal is to create brand awareness or simply showcase your products, your lack of responsiveness or conversation on Facebook can make you seem aloof and distant.

Social-Demographics-facebook

Twitter

Prefer words to images?

Like speed and efficiency?

Choose brevity every time?

Twitter could be your platform of choice.

If so, the statistics are encouraging. The number of people using Twitter has increased by more than 50 million in the past year with the network now having over 270 million active users. Further, the average Twitter user follows five or more businesses and over a third (37%) of Twitter users will buy from a brand they follow.

Social-Demographics-twitter

LinkedIn

LinkedIn almost never makes it to the big list of social media networks to try it, even though, for many businesses—especially service-sector ones—LinkedIn can be a fantastic way of building brand visibility and credibility. With 380 million users in 200 countries, it’s a network that is growing and will continue to grow.

Writing for PR & Marketing firm Barnett Cox & Associates, Brooke Pitts says:

All businesses—small and large—should be set up on LinkedIn with a company page. This allows you to post updates on your business, raise awareness of your brand, develop a follower community and showcase your products and services. Furthermore, you can recruit potential employees on LinkedIn using the career tab.

She notes that while LinkedIn is best for B2B companies from a marketing and sales standpoint, it can still be effective for B2C companies looking for networking opportunities within their industry.

Social-Demographics-linkedin

Pinterest

According to Nielson data, 84% of US Pinterest users are women. Weddings, home décor, fashion, travel, food, and style all seem to do really well on this platform and if you have the time and resources for creating unique and clever images, Pinterest can be a fantastic way to showcase your product and build relationships with your audience, many of whom are highly engaged with the platform.

One of the great things about Pinterest is the boards that make it easy for you to classify your images into categories and by interest, which makes browsing easy and fast. It also means that you can reach different types of audience with your Pinterest page by promoting each individual board.

If you have an image-heavy brand but limited resources, Pinterest may be difficult to keep up with and other image-focused platforms such as Instagram may be worth exploring. But if you’re able to focus on creating consistent visual content, Pinterest can be a fantastic place to build an audience quickly.

Social-Demographics-pinterest1

Instagram

While Pinterest’s user base is largely American, it’s interesting to note that 70% of Instagram’s users are based outside of the US. This, if you’re an international business, or a business with global reach, is important to note during your social media marketing efforts.

That’s not all. The average Instagram user spends 21 minutes a day using the app, which for a network that focuses exclusively on images, is a pretty high number.

Like with Pinterest, if you’ve got a product or services that can be showcased via images, this is a fantastic platform to get active in. Users are connected, responsive, and receptive to products, and if “conversions” was one of your goals in Step 2, this is definitely a platform worth exploring to increase those numbers.

Social-Demographics-instagram

YouTube

If video’s your medium of choice, YouTube is a great place to start with your audience-building efforts, given its 1 billion users. 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube, which makes it a highly desirable network to be on if you have good-quality video, but also makes it highly competitive for the same reason. Yet, when it comes to video, while Instagram, Facebook, and other networks have certainly made sharing easier and faster, YouTube still remains the top place to post video content as well as make money from it.

Step 4: Pick and rank

Now that you know who your audience is, what they want, and how you can align your content so as to meet their needs as well as your business goals, it’s a good idea to start looking at what some of your competitors are doing, which platforms they’re most active on, and what is getting them the most results.

Swellpath has an excellent guide on how to do this, in which they lay out the following steps:

  1. Identify your competitors
  2. Identify their voice
  3. What is their fan to follower ratio?
  4. How active are they on social sites?
  5. Engagement rate with fans
  6. What types of content are they posting?
  7. What is their month-over-over percent growth

Then, it’s time to take your pick.

My advice is to make a list of the platforms that will fit into your business, and then rank them according to priority.

Now pick one to focus on.

social-commerce

Step 5: Create content and engage with your audience

Timing, frequency, and consistency are everything when it comes to engaging with your social media audience.

While the timing of what you post and how often you’ll post it differ from network to network (read our guide for Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts here), it is important that you have a consistent schedule that you stick to.

More importantly, make the effort to respond to your audience when they engage with your content. In a study done by KISS Public Relations, more than half (51 percent) of respondents agreed that if a brand is not present or active with its social media, it would reflect negatively on the company.

While it’s perfectly fine to have profiles on social networks where you’re not actively engaging with your audience, a good practice is to let your users know where you are active. Says Simon Heseltine, Director of SEO with the Huffington Post Media group:

If you don’t have the resources to maintain an active social account on a particular social network, then what you should do is let users of that network know where you are engaging with the general public so they at least have the opportunity to contact you over there.”

business-customers-social-media1

Step 6: Create content and engage with your audience

Finally, measuring and tracking your social media efforts can help you analyze whether or not you’re on the right track and whether the social media platform you’ve picked has, indeed, been the right choice.

If so, you might just be ready to add on another one.

step-by-step_roi-of-social-media-lg

Keep in mind, though, that much like everything else, the 80/20 rule (aka the Pareto principle) applies to your social media marketing, too. Which is to say that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your social media channels.

So when you find a social media channel or two that work, stick with them and try to put most of your resources towards them.

You want to be active on all social media networks, and perhaps over time, even have individual strategies for each of them.

But you’ll find, as most people do, that there’s one that works better than most.

That’s the one to stick to.

Over to you

I’d love to hear about your strategies, too! What works for you—be everywhere or focusing on one specific channel?

And if you are focusing on one specific channel, I’d love to hear in the comments, which one’s working particularly well for you.

The post The Smart Marketer’s Guide to Choosing a Social Media Niche: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding, Analyzing, and Testing The Best Platform For Your Business appeared first on Social.

The 15 Best Browser Extensions to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

This post originally published on September 22, 2014. We’ve updated it here with new extensions, images, and a Product Hunt collection.

There are a few actions I perform over and over again as I work through my social media marketing plan. Do you know the feeling? You click on the same few buttons or type in the same URL.

And then, one day, someone shows you a browser extension that completely rocks your world for the better.

I’d love to share some of those world-rocking browser extensions with you today. There’re several great options out there to supercharge your browser and streamline the tasks you keep coming back to.

Got a favorite browser extension that you use for social media marketing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 Best Browser Extensions for Social Media

Best Browser Extensions for Social Media Marketers

The Best Browser Extensions for Social Media

What a fun opportunity it’s been to experiment with and test drive a number of amazing social media browser extensions. There are so many great ones out there, I’ve split the post into a couple sections here:

  1. 15 favorite Safari, Firefox, and Chrome extensions
  2. The top picks from the Buffer community
  3. Our Product Hunt collection of browser extensions

Enjoy!

15 Best Safari, Firefox, and Chrome Extensions for Social Media Marketers

1. Buffer – Quick and easy sharing to social media

buffer extension

The Buffer extension lets you share to your connected profiles from any website, blogpost, or page. The extension grabs the page title as well as any associated photos. Power users can even go a step further and highlight text within the article to right-click on any image and share that image directly.

The extension also comes with goodies while you’re browsing Twitter and Facebook with built-in buttons for buffering to your queues and scheduling reshares.

(Other helpful sharing extensions: Shareaholic, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social.)

Available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari

2. Giphy – Fun animated GIFs to enhance your updates

giphy extension

With Twitter and Pinterest now supporting GIFs and other social media sites like Google+ and Tumblr enjoying great engagement with them, it’s become increasingly handy to have a pitch-perfect GIF at the ready to express how you’re feeling in your update, reply, or comment. The Giphy extension lets you search through the huge Giphy.com archives and grab a shortened URL of the GIF you choose.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari

3. Pocket / Instapaper / Evernote – Curating amazing content to share

Pocket browser extension

Read-it-later extensions are a super time saver. Pocket, Instapaper, and Evernote let you save a blogpost or article to read later, and you can do so with a single button click via the extension.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, Safari

4. Instagram for Chrome – Instagram photos right in your browser

Instagram for Chrome

One of the best ways to manage your Instagram feed from a computer, the Instagram for Chrome extension lets you browse your feed and your friends, like and comment on photos, receive desktop notifications, and even drill down into details like filters. The experience is as close to the official Instagram app as you can get, and it’s a hugely helpful resource for brands who wish to manage their Instagram feed without reaching for the phone (or even a browser tab).

Available on Chrome

5. Bitly – Create, share, and track shortened links

bitly extension

Bitly’s browser extension has all the standard features you’d expect from a link shortener: custom shortening, analytics, and easy copy-and-share buttons. Bitly takes things one step further even and lets you add shortened links to bundles so you can keep organized with a series of similar links. Another cool feature: The Bitly extension can notify you when your link reaches a predetermined (by you) number of views.

Available on Chrome, Firefox

6. Riffle – Complete info on any Twitter user

Riffle extension

This browser extension adds a whole new layer of info to your Twitter stream. Click on any Riffle icon or Twitter username, and the extension opens up a display of that user’s data, including other social accounts, Twitter statistics, most-used hashtags and categories, top mentions, top URLs, and much more.

(Also check out Rapportive and Vibe for similar functionality, including some neat inbox integrations.)

Available on Chrome

7. Window Resizer – Check your tweets, posts, and updates on any screen size

window resizer

Chances are that not everyone will be viewing your social media updates on the same size screen as you. Marketing for mobile devices has brought about a lot of change! In this case, an extension like Window Resizer can be super helpful for seeing your updates from others’ perspectives. The extension comes with preset sizes that mimic iPhone, tablet, and desktops, and you can completely customize the sizes and order of the various options.

Available on Chrome

8. Ritetag – Instant analysis of the hashtags you tweet

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Ritetag is one of our favorite hashtag tools, and their extension brings across their neat color-coded hashtag guide right into the Twitter editor. Ritetag provides direct feedback on the popularity and strength of the hashtags you use. Green is good, blue is poor, and red is overused.

(Bonus cool thing: The extension works within Buffer!)

Available on Chrome and Firefox

9. Social Analytics – Quick view of share stats on any page

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Visit a blogpost and click the Social Analytics browser icon to see at-a-glance how many social shares the post received. Social Analytics shows Facebook likes, shares, and comments, plus Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest stats. It could be super helpful for tracking the spread of your own content or for investigating someone else’s.

Available on Chrome

10. Awesome Screenshot – Capture, annotate, and share your screen

awesome screenshot

Screenshots can be a helpful, useful visual for sharing on social media. Awesome Screenshot brings this functionality into the browser. You can take a screenshot, annotate, and download or share immediately.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Note: Thanks to Karmi in the comments for pointing out that Awesome Screenshot comes with a disclaimer about potential malware. You can check out an alternate screen capture extension like Clipular.

11. Feedly Mini – Save RSS feeds of any site you’re on

Feedly extension

Part of sharing great content on social media is sourcing great content. Feedly is one of our favorite places to keep an eye on stories worth sharing, and the Feedly extension makes it easy to add new sites to your RSS lists to keep an eye on. The Feedly Mini extension adds a small icon to each page, and when you click the icon, you can add a feed directly or even share the page to your social accounts.

Available on Chrome

12. Klout – Social media influence score

Klout extension

Klout calculates an influence score based on your interactions and popularity across all your various social media channels. The Klout extension is the quickest, easiest way to view this score—for instance, right in the Twitter stream next to anyone’s username. Klout has also expanded into social media sharing, and the extension allows you to share easily from any website.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

13. Pin It button – Share directly to Pinterest

Pinterest button

Sharing to Pinterest is made infinitely easier with the Pinterest extension, which lets you Pin any image you find online to your Pinterest board. Clicking the extension opens up a window of all images that appear on the page, and you can choose which one(s) to share. Also, while browsing a page, you’ll see a Pinterest button overlay whenever you mouse over an image.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

14. CircleCount – Instant Google+ analysis

circlecount extension

With the CircleCount extension, you can inspect any profile or page on Google+ and see a snapshot of comments, reshares, and +1s per post as well as follower graphs. If you drill down to a specific Google+ post, the CircleCount extension lets you view ripples, add to your favorites (via the CircleCount website), and add to a shared circle.

Available on Chrome

15. Social Fixer for Facebook – A fully customized Facebook experience

Social Fixer Facebook extension

This extension allows for huge amounts of customization for the way you view Facebook. Here’s a small sampling of what you can edit:

  • Tabbed news feeds
  • Feed filters (e.g., remove political posts)
  • Hide posts you’ve already read
  • Thumbnail previews

This just scratches the surface. Check out the Social Fixer homepage for even more ideas on what you can edit.

Available on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari

Top picks from the Buffer community

  1. Color Picker – Identify the precise color of anything you see in your browser (also: Eye Dropper)
  2. Extensity – An extension for managing your extensions (yodawg)
  3. Google Drive – Quickly access all your stored files
  4. Any.do – Manage your to-do list from anywhere
  5. Swayy Smart Share – Share and discover engaging content
  6. Goodbits – Easily add content to your next email newsletter
  7. Panda – Discover huge amounts of interesting, entertaining content
  8. Snip.ly – Link shortening and custom CTAs
  9. Web Boost – Faster web browsing
  10. Dropbox – Find and store all your files
  11. Silver Bird – Custom Twitter timeline tool
  12. HashPlug – Add Twitter search results to Google pages
  13. tl;dr – Summarize web articles into short synopses
  14. Pinterest Tab – Beautiful Pinterest image on every new tab
  15. 1Password – Complete password management (also: LastPass)
  16. Share As Image – Create beautiful, shareable images on any page
  17. Discoverly – Social media contact info

The Browser Extension Collection on Product Hunt

I get so much joy out of hanging out on Product Hunt, exploring the cool tools and apps that people have built. One amazing feature of Product Hunt is their collections—bundles of top products under a common theme.

I put together a quick collection of some of the top browser extensions mentioned here in this post:

Product Hunt collection - browser extensions

Over to you: Which extensions do you use?

I’ve got a few favorite ones for social media marketing (Buffer and Pocket) and a few that I rely on for a faster, more fun browsing experience (AdBlock and Dewey bookmarks). There are so many amazing ones out there. Which ones are your favorites?

Which do you use in your browser?

I’d be keen to hear what you’ve got working for you! Feel free to drop a note here in the comments.

Image sources: Markus Spiske

The post The 15 Best Browser Extensions to Improve Your Social Media Marketing appeared first on Social.

5 Actionable Analytics Reports for Internal Site Search

Posted by ryanwashere

I was furious when
keyword data disappeared from Google Analytics (GA).

putersmash.gif

I mean, how could I possibly optimize a website
without keyword data?!?!

It didn’t take me long to realize I was overreacting. In fact, I quickly realized how trivial keyword data was.

Search engines are pretty damn good at what they do. If you properly optimize your content, people will find it with the keywords you intended. (You should set up an
SEO dashboard in GA to verify your results.)

The truly valuable keywords are the ones visitors use
within your site.

When mined correctly, internal terms uncover
how and
why users engage with content. These insights provide clear direction to improve content, SEO, and the user journey (resulting in increased conversions, leads, and sales).

In this post, I’ll cover three things:

  1. How to set up internal search reporting in GA
  2. How to access and analyze five internal search reports in GA
  3. Two client case studies using internal search data

Prepping your analytics account

Before I get into the details, make sure you have the following set up in your GA account:

  1. Exclude internal traffic (filter). You wouldn’t believe how many organizations don’t do this. This simple filter makes all the difference when it comes to data quality. Make sure your website is excluding all internal traffic (step-by-step directions: how to set up internal filters in GA.)
  2. Goals, events and conversions. In order to discover user intent, we need to be able to segment reports by conversions. Make sure that your website has clearly defined key performance indicators (KPIs) that are represented by goals in GA (step by step directions: how to set up goals in GA.)

Supplemental reading: How to set up Google Analytics on your website

Setting up GA site search reporting

Standard GA implementation doesn’t have internal search reporting configured. In order to get the data, we need to input some information into GA manually.

Follow these steps to get it up and running:

  1. Navigate to the “Admin” tab
  2. Click “View Settings”
  3. Go to the bottom, where you’ll find “Site Search Settings”
  4. Click the button so that its setting is “On”

In order to complete the tracking, you’ll need to locate your site’s query parameter.

  1. In a new browser tab, open your website
  2. In your website’s internal search bar, type the word “seo” and click “search”
  3. You will be redirected to your website’s internal search landing page
  4. Look at the URL on the landing page (see screenshot below)
  5. You will see your search term, along with these characters: “?”, “random letter”, and “=”
  6. The letter before the equal sign (“=”) is your website’s query parameter
  7. Enter this value into the appropriate box in GA
  8. Click save

moz-10.png

EXAMPLE

Search query: seo

Landing URL: http://webris.org/?s=seo

Parameter
: ?s=seo

What to enter in GA: s

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.25.51 PM

GA
will not post-date searches. In other words, searches that took place before you set up reporting won’t populate. You will only get data from searches occur going forward.

For this reason, you’ll need to wait about 30 days after setting up site search tracking in GA before analyzing the site search data. Otherwise, you won’t have sufficient data to conduct meaningful analysis.

Analyzing the site search data

To access your site search data, navigate to
Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search in GA.

There are five reports under Site Search:

  1. Overview
  2. Usage
  3. Search Terms
  4. Pages
  5. Any/All Reports (Segments)

Report #1: Overview

How to get there: Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Overview

What the report tells us:
Lists the high-level metrics related to your site’s internal search

Potential insights:

  • Visits With Site Search, % Search Exits, and % Search Refinements: When looked at together, these metrics can tell you a lot about how visitors are finding content. If all three numbers are high, it likely means users can’t find what they‘re looking for.
  • Time after Search and Average Search Depth: Conversely, if these two metrics are high, it probably means users find a lot of value in your site search.
  • Overview (graph): Pay close attention to spikes and surges in internal searches. Were you running campaigns during this time? Use traffic segments to dig into causation.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.22.50 PM


Report #2: Usage

How to get there: Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Usage

What the report tells us:
User journeys that used site search vs. those who didn’t

Potential insights:

  • Pages/Session, Average Session Duration: If the pages viewed and session duration is higher with visitors using site search, this indicates your website has the right content (i.e., users are finding the content they are searching for). Keep a close eye on these metrics and test widgets, sidebars and “suggested article” plugins to help you figure out how to improve navigation.
  • Goal Completions: These are important metrics. Plain and simple, this tells us whether or not site search helps drive goal completions. If so, you may want to consider making your site search more prominent, or make it stand out with specific calls to action.
  • Secondary dimension: You can add a number of dimensions to this report to get deeper insight. I like to add “Medium”—it gives you a breakdown of each traffic medium, segmented by Visits With Site Search and Visits Without Site Search.

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.37.39 PM

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Report #3: Search terms

How to get there: Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Search Terms

What the report tells us:
Lists the most used search terms with corresponding engagement metrics

Potential Insight
:

  • Look at each engagement metric for discrepancies between search terms. If one search term has an abnormally high % Search Exits or % of Search Refinements, then you most likely don’t have content those visitors are looking for.
  • Look at the complete list of terms—are these included in your PPC and SEO keyword targeting strategies? If not, they should be. These are the terms your visitors expect to see on your site.
  • Add traffic channel segments to see which channel drives the most internal searches. These terms should match up with your PPC and SEO strategies. If a visitor is using site search to refine what they’re looking for, it could mean that they didn’t find your site from the right landing page.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.05.25 AM


Report #4: Pages

How to get there: Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Pages

What the report tells us: The pages users made their queries on

Potential insights:

  • Overall: Looking at the overall picture of the data will show you where users are having problems finding content. Take a closer look at how your top pages are structured—can users find what they need?
  • Secondary dimension: I like to layer on the “Previous Page Path” dimension. This helps create a greater context for the problems users are have navigating your site.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.03.24 AM


Report #5: Segments

How to get there: Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Any/All Reports

What the report tells us: Segments add additional depth and value. I often use the following segments to drive more insights:

  • Mobile traffic: Segmenting by mobile allows you to see visitors are using site search more from mobile. This can yield insights into mobile design and layout.
  • Converters or Made a purchase: Is site search driving conversions or adding roadblocks?
  • Organic traffic: What percentage of users that find your website through search engines need to refine their searches? The internal keyword searches are the keywords that users are really looking for when they find your site.
  • Returning users: Returning users are loyal—they enjoy your content enough to return for more. Use the internal search data to find out what content you need to best serve them.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.01.26 AM


Case Studies: Driving action from internal search

The internal site search reports described above are high-level. Sometimes it takes seeing them in action to understand how to truly apply them.

As such, I’ve included two case studies that show exactly how I’ve used internal search data to drive meaningful action.

Case study #1

Site: Pop culture publisher (online only)

Marketing channels: SEO, social, and content

Problem:

  • The site drives traffic from five to eight daily blog updates about niche pop culture celebrities
  • In November, traffic stagnated, and then started to decline

Research:

  • The site thrives by creating content about niche celebrities, the ones few other sites write about. This gave them the monopoly on both the SERPs and avid social media fans
  • Digging in further, I found social traffic was steadily declining, while organic was remaining nearly the same, month-over-month
  • A full-scale content analysis was completed, finding that more and more content was being created about the same niche celebrities. This was causing diminishing returns on social and organic traffic.
  • The site suffered from content exhaustion: Writers were covering the same topics over and over.
  • In order to build traffic, they needed to scale efforts horizontally by creating content around new niche celebrities.

Solution:

  • I consulted the Search Terms report (Behavior > Behavior Flow > Site Search > Search Terms) to see what visitors were looking for on the site
  • By adding a filter for “no-results”, I could see what content visitors were searching for on the site that turned up no results
  • I dumped this list into Excel, and had the writers create new content based on the search terms in the report

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 12.56.09 PM

Results:

After launch of the strategy, the site saw amazing results:

  • 201.05% increase in month-over-month traffic
  • 210.99% increase in month-over-month pageviews
  • 3.30% increase in pages per session
  • 3.15% increase in session duration
  • 4.75% decrease in bounce rate

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 1.03.41 PM55414b8408fb30.12050792

Up and to the right!

Case study #2

Site: Online travel site

Marketing channels: SEO, PPC, email, social, content, display, TV, radio, and print

Problem:

  • Large spike in month-over-month internal searches on client’s site, with poor metrics for actions following internal searches
  • Both the search volume and search rate had nearly doubled (35,457 to 65,032; and 4.37% to 8.56%, respectively) month-over-month

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 1.08.20 PM

Research:

  • Digging in, I found traffic on-site increased by 40,000 month-over-month; when segmented, I found the increase was strictly organic traffic
  • Consulted GA Landing Pages report with Organic Segment to find which pages the increase in traffic was going to
    • (Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages > Organic Segment)
  • This showed that 100% of the increase in month-over-month traffic went to the home page
    • This was out of the ordinary, as 80% of organic traffic generally goes deep into the site, not to the home page

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 11.25.12 AM

  • Next, I consulted the Google Webmaster Tools (GWT, recently rebranded as Google Search Console) Search Analytics report to see what keywords were driving the increase
    • (GWT > Search Traffic > Search Analytics)

Screen Shot 2015-05-10 at 1.13.02 PM

  • GWT analysis showed the increase came from queries consisting of branded keywords + “giveaway” (e.g., client giveaway promotion and client giveaway)

Solution:

  • I reported the findings to the client, and found out they’d been running a series of offline ads promoting a giveaway in attempts to generate email leads
    • Note: Large organizations often have employees, agencies, contractors, and consultants running for multiple efforts. It’s not uncommon for efforts to operate in silos.
  • The giveaway was set up on a landing page that was difficult to find unless typed in directly (e.g., clientsite.com/giveaway)
  • I recommended that the client include a call-to-action on the home page that linked to the giveaway

Results:

  • Sessions with search decreased by nearly 10%
  • Results after search increased by 6.45%
  • Search depth increased by 9.01%
  • Most importantly, users were able to find the giveaway. Email leads increased by 245%!

case-study-2.png

Closing

When mined properly, internal search data will give you the information you need to greatly improve your web content, design, and search engine optimization efforts.

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The 7 Hidden Factors of the Most Effective Social Media Ads

I’ve resisted social media advertising for a long time, believing that there are a host of free tools and free strategies that can help your business grow on social media organically.

What I’ve come to find out (and I’d imagine many of you have discovered this already) is this:

If you’re spending money to advertise online, social media ads may very well earn you the biggest returns.

(In some cases, it’s the cheapest way to reach people.) 

There are so many inspiring digital marketers who are pioneering the best practices and cool strategies for social media advertising. As we dip our toes further into social ads here at Buffer, it’s been fun to discover all the great tips we might try. I’ve collected seven of my favorite ones here in this blog post—a list of simple, actionable tips that drive successful social media ads. 

I’d love to hear in the comments any strategies you might add!

Social Media Advertising Tips

7 of the Best Social Media Advertising Tips

Social Media Advertising Tips and Strategies

1. Create multiple versions of the ad

When we write headlines for Buffer blog posts, we often come up with a big handful of options (15 or more headlines per post when we can manage it) so that we can test and see what works best.

The same idea works with social media ads.

When you read about a successful social media ad, it’s likely that the ad has gone through a few key variations based on these actions:

  1. Write several versions of ad copy
  2. Test different images
  3. Adjust and hone your target audience

In the comments of our post on Facebook advertising budgets, Lucie shared this great tidbit about how to gauge what’s working and what’s not:

I always have several versions of the ad and anything with lower than 1.5% CTR after few hours I deactivate.

The strategy then would look something like this:

  1. Create lots of ad variations
  2. Check often to see what’s working
  3. Deactivate the lowest performers and try something new

In terms of testing out different ad copy, there are many popular recommendations for what might work (including a few ideas I’ll share below). This SlideShare from e-CBD, while a couple years old, has some interesting ideas for things to try: power words, time prompts (“now,” “limited time”), and question marks.

Question Marks in social media ads

For images, you can test things like product pictures, people and faces, even memes.

And when it comes to custom audiences, there are some great tactics on different ways to hone in on a segment that converts (probably enough tactics for a post of its own, which we’d love to cover separately). One bit of advice I’ve found helpful in thinking through things is another useful comment on our Facebook Ads post, from Bill Grunau:

You want to cast a large net, BUT not try to scoop up the entire ocean.

A target audience of 3,000 to 5,000 is very, very small. For FB ads it should be in the high five or six figures as a minimum. If it is many millions then it is likely too big.

2. Use the “Learn More” button

When creating ads for the Facebook News Feed, you get the chance to include one of seven buttons with your ad.

If in doubt, it’s best to choose a button instead of no button.

And the best button of all? The “Learn More” button.

Learn More button

You can add the button in the bottom section of the Facebook Ads editor. These are the seven button options to choose from:

  1. Shop Now
  2. Book Now
  3. Learn More
  4. Sign Up
  5. Download
  6. Watch More
  7. Contact Us

The theory behind why this button works is that it helps focus your ad to an even greater degree, like a Mario mushroom for your already great copy. Adding a button enhances the call-to-action and primes a reader to take the action.

As for which button works best, you’re might notice that one fits your niche particularly well (“Book Now,” for instance, would be great for vacation spots). For the “Learn More” button, there seems to be growing evidence that it’s the best overall bet for engagement.

Noah Kagan found that “Learn More” converted better than the other options and better than using no button at all.

And Facebook ad tool Heyo ran an A/B test to see the effect that the “Learn More” button had, compared to no button at all. The result: a 63.6% increase in conversions and 40% decrease in cost-per-click just from the Learn More.

Heyo Facebook ads test

3. Create a custom landing page

If the goal of your social media ad is conversions—sales, signups, what-have-you—then you’ll want to think not only of the ad itself but also where a person might end up once they click.

Picture social media ads as a two-step process:

  1. Create the ad
  2. Create the destination 

Some of the most successful social media advertising campaigns include custom landing pages, where the copy carries over from the ad and the action crystal clear.

The more targeted your ad, the more targeted your landing page needs to be.

You’ll see this often with e-commerce ads that do a great job targeting a single product and then send the person from the ad to the main product page, full of menus and related products and all sorts of potentially distracting (albeit eminently useful) places to click.

Siddharth Bharath, writing at Unbounce, suggests a click-through landing page, which is an intermediate page between an ad and a final destination (shopping cart, for instance).

This keeps the focus on the offer – the reason the prospect clicked – and leaves them with two options: buy now or lose the deal forever.

As Unbounce describes it:

Videos or product images paired with a description and product benefits help to persuade the visitor to click the call-to-action.

click-through-landing-page-th

Socialmouths shared five key elements of these social media ad landing pages.

  1. Goal-Driven Copy Length
  2. Limited Form Fields
  3. Key Visuals
  4. Responsive, i.e., “Mobile-ready,” Design
  5. A Single Call to Action

Of these, the single call-to-action stands out as a potentially quite key element.

Also of note, the goal-driven copy length suggests the idea that there could be multiple goals for your social media campaign, something like a spectrum from immediate goals to long-term goals or sales/lead-gen to awareness/education. In general, a landing page for an immediate goal has short copy. A landing page for a long-term goal has long copy.

4. Mention price up front

Another interesting tip from Siddharth Bharath involves the idea of pre-qualifying your traffic. Essentially, it works like this:

You only want people clicking through to your ad who are comfortable paying the price for your product. 

The key then is to share your product’s price early.

Udemy price ad

Doing so will help qualify the traffic that heads to your landing page. Instead of filtering out people when they reach your pricing page, you can do so before they even click—thereby saving you pay-per-click costs that wouldn’t have amounted to a conversion.

The goal, in other words, wouldn’t be about people clicking your ad. The goal would be people clicking your ad and eventually buying your product or service.

5. Promote a discount

In a survey of Facebook users, 67 percent of people said they were likely to click on a discount offer. 

A simple strategy for a successful social media ad: Mention a discount in your copy.

In a really cool case study from Hautelook, the clothing website ran a 50% off sale on their Diane Von Furstenberg line. Mentioning a discount in their ads led to a huge sales day—the third largest sales day in company history.

Hautelook discount

And discounts don’t necessarily always need to be tied to huge sales events. At Buffer for instance, we have three different pricing options (free, Awesome, Business), and at the Awesome price the price is lower when paying a year in advance rather than month-to-month. It’s kind of a built-in discount and one we could explore using in our social media ad copy.

6. Filter out mobile traffic

When creating a social media ad, you’ll typically have the option of segmenting the audience by a number of factors, including those using a desktop/laptop versus a mobile device.

To fully optimize your conversion rate, show your ad to those on desktops and laptops. Don’t show your ad on mobile.

This slide deck from Ad Espresso (a Facebook ads management tool) does a great job explaining the differences between types of social media ad placement, particularly on Facebook.

The mobile News Feed is great for mobile app installs and engagement. It’s tough to get website conversions.

Here’s the key slide:

Facebook mobile news feed ads

Noah Kagan also mentions excluding mobile traffic in his steps for getting started with Facebook ads.

Avoid showing your ads to mobile traffic. Most likely your page is not mobile designed and that traffic is less likely to purchase or sign up for an email address. 

That last sentiment seems key here: Mobile visitors are less likely to convert to a sign up or a sale. If conversions are the goal of your social ad campaign, then it might be great to focus solely on the desktop audience.

A couple of additional notes here also:

  1. Not only do the most successful social media ads hone in on the device type, they also keep in mind the location of the ad. Typically sidebar display ads—like those offered by Twitter or Facebook—see lower click through numbers (they’re recommended as a great option for retargeting). The best results are those that appear natively in the News Feed or timeline. Ezra Firestone calls these “advertisements that blend in with the platform.”
  2. Removing mobile display from your ads is an often-recommended strategy, though there’s definitely two sides to the discussion. Brian Honigman, writing at SumAll, mentions that your ads should focus on mobile first in order to capture the huge volume of Facebook traffic that accesses the site from mobile devices.

7. Focus on relevance score

facebook-ad-relevance-score-performance-10

When I wrote about our Facebook Ads experiments a few weeks back, I was so grateful for all the advice and learnings that folks shared in the comments. This bit from Lucie has stuck with me:

I test my ad on a small budget and see the relevance score first. If it is less than 8/10, it means I should adjust my targeting. If it is higher, then I know I hit the nail on the head.

Jon Loomer wrote a detailed breakdown of Facebook’s relevance score, explaining what it is and how it’s calculated.

Briefly, relevance score helps explain the way Facebook views your ad and why it might prefer certain ads you’ve created versus others.

Facebook says they use relevance score to determine “expected” interaction with your ad.

Relevance score is calculated based on actual and expected positive and negative feedback from the ad’s target audience. The score is updated in real-time as users interact with and provide feedback — both positive and negative — with that ad.

Positive feedback includes people liking, commenting, and sharing your ad and also any desired actions taken with your ad (clicks to website for instance).

Negative feedback includes those instances when people hide your ad or ask not to see ads from you.

It’s all delivered on a 1 to 10 scale and based on real interactions with your ad; there’s a 500 daily impressions minimum in order to receive your first score.

From Lucie and Jon’s advice, there are a couple of great takeaways and strategies on how successful social media ads look at relevance score.

  1. Test your ad with a small budget first, to see where your relevance score lies. Once you achieve relevance of 8/10 or higher, then promote the ad more heavily.
  2. Since relevance scores update in real time, check your ads often. If the score dips below 8/10, adjust the ad.

(This second point hints at a higher-level bit of advice with social media ads: Don’t just set ’em and forget ’em. Consistent, active monitoring is key.)

Summary

As we’re in the early stages of testing out social media ads at Buffer, it’s a real privilege to be able to learn from those who have gone before us, trying and testing to see what works in social ads. We’re excited to take all the great advice here and use it in our own experiments and campaigns.

One of the best blueprints I’ve seen for creating a social media ad (particularly a Facebook ad) is this brief list from Noah Kagan, which condenses a lot of the sentiment from the above strategies.

  1. Call to action: Choose “Learn More”
  2. Headline: Give away something for free
  3. Text: Social proof showing why the reader should care
  4. Link Description: Give call to action for them to get benefit

Try to create an ad that uses natural text versus something that seems like an advertisement.

What have you found works well for you with social media ads?

Have you tried any of these strategies? How did they perform?

I’d love the chance to learn from you in the comments!

Image sources: Pablo, Unsplash, IconFinder, Jon Loomer, Unbounce

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