Monthly Archives: February 2017

4 Marketing Lessons Entrepreneurs

The internet has recently been taken over by a very tall and overly pregnant lady.

You may have heard of her. Her name is April. April the Giraffe. This chick has taken over the internet, with pregnant human women going viral for impersonating her.

April is a powerful woman, as I assume most pregnant women are.

Almost 100,000 people are tuning in on YouTube at any given minute to see if she’s birthed her fourth calf yet. When someone or something can garner the accumulative attention of millions, it’s worth taking note.

And while April is undeniably powerful, she is not nearly as powerful as the creative team behind her at Animal Adventure Park. Here are four lessons you can borrow from Animal Adventure Park to spark your own sensation.

1. Your ordinary is someone else’s extraordinary.

You frequently forget there are things you find common and ordinary that others simply find extraordinary. This is the main basis for why Animal Adventure Park’s livestream has captivated so many, hitting headlines daily for over a week. Giraffes give birth on a regular basis. Or, at least I assume so.

Since April has been livestreaming, two other baby giraffes have been born stateside. For zookeepers, a giraffe having a calf is ordinary. Yet, for the general population, a giraffe having a calf is extraordinary. What is your ordinary that others would find extraordinary?

2. Utilize the tools you have at your fingertips.

I imagine it went something like this: April’s caretakers were talking about the upcoming birth, and someone nonchalantly mentioned, “Perhaps we could livestream it for people to see.”

The tools were already there to livestream. They just decided to use them unlike any other zoo had. Well played, Animal Adventure Park. What tools are you not taking full advantage of?

3. Start before you’re “ready.”

What I don’t think many people understand is that Animal Adventure Park isn’t even open yet. It’s bloody brilliant! There is so much press and news coverage about this business, and it hasn’t even opened its doors for day one.

That’s solid proof there is business genius in starting before you feel ready. With a well-thought out plan, anything is possible. It’s not about waiting until it’s perfect. It’s about knowing how to execute effectively. Where can you begin executing while still perfecting?

4. Don’t forget a call to action.

An imperative part of doing business is making it extremely easy for people to buy or support you. I was so impressed to find in the description on Animal Adventure Park’s live stream video that they did not forget a call to action.

Even better, they gave two! Take your pick to support the organization: Download GiraffeMoji for $1.99 from the App Store, or simply donate to the organization’s GoFundMe page. (As of this writing, it’s just shy of the $50,000 goal.)

What a failure it would have been to have that many people at your fingertips without an easy way for people to engage with the business. Yet, it’s a common business mistake.

Tips Marketers Optimize Their Social Content

It may have taken some of them a while, but businesses have finally caught on to the importance of social media. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Industry Report, 97 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes, and 92 percent feel that it’s important to their success.

But even as companies ramp up their social media efforts, they continue to struggle with how to best optimize social content to achieve desired business outcomes: 91 percent say they have difficulty deciding which specific tactics are most effective, according to the same report.

To better understand which strategies marketers are currently using to optimize social media content (and to gauge the effectiveness of these strategies), Software Advice has partnered with Adobe to create the first-ever Social Media Content Optimization Survey.

We also shared the 182 results we received from marketers with Liz Strauss, founder and CEO of SOBCon, who was ranked seventh on Forbes’ 2013 list of “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.” Her insights are included along with our analysis below.

Key Findings:

  1. Most marketers (84 percent) routinely post on at least three social media networks, with 70 percent posting at least once a day.
  2. Marketers most commonly cited the use of visual content, hashtags and usernames as important tactics for optimizing social media content.
  3. Over half (57 percent) use software tools to manage posting, and these respondents experienced less difficulty optimizing their social content.

Most Marketers Use Three or More Social Networks

Of the marketers who took our survey, the vast majority (84 percent) said they actively posted content on at least three or more social networks—most likely including Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn.

Number of Active Social Media Outlets

A total of 61 percent posted on at least four networks; 20 percent posted on at least six; and, impressively, 3 percent posted on 11 networks or more.

This leaves 14 percent of marketers who were posting on only two channels, and just 2 percent who said they routinely posted content on just one social media outlet.

With so many marketers posting content across such a broad spectrum of social channels, businesses that are only active on three or fewer sites may be at a disadvantage, according to Strauss. In a world where more businesses actively post on 11 (or more) social sites than on just one, promoting content on Facebook and Twitter alone may not be enough.

However, Strauss says, a sizable (but unknown) number of users “are using social channels in a non-useful manner: posting randomly, without a goal, and without a true understanding of what can be accomplished on any particular social channel.”

In other words, there’s a big difference between posting frequently and posting strategically. A sound social media marketing strategy will not only involve publishing a lot of posts—it will involve publishing the rightones.

Most Marketers Post Frequently, Plan Content in Advance

Most marketers (70 percent) said they post content on social media outlets at least once a day, with 19 percent saying they post more than three times daily. Conversely, only 16 percent said they post fewer than once a day, and 14 percent had no set schedule for posting.

The fact that so many businesses are posting so frequently and consistently is even more impressive, considering that many post across a large number of sites in which content guidelines vary widely (for example, Twitter limiting posts to 140 characters, or YouTube requiring video content).

Number of Social Media Posts per Day

When we asked marketers how far in advance they schedule their social content, 41 percent said, “several days to one week,” making that by far the most popular timeframe for planning posts. A total of 65 percent said they schedule their social content at least one day in advance, with only 12 percent saying they had no consistent plan for scheduling posts ahead of time.

How Far in Advance Posts Are Scheduled

Taken as a whole, the data demonstrates that many marketers have an established plan for consistently generating and posting content. As a result, businesses that fail to post consistently will likely struggle to build brand recognition and engage audiences, when faced with competitors that have adopted more regimented social content delivery strategies.

Visual Content, Hashtags Are Most Important Tactics

Our respondents most commonly cited images and hashtags as crucial elements of social media content optimization: 82 percent said it was “important” or “very important” to use the former, while 67 percent said this about the latter. Even the tactics that were viewed as less imperative (such as using videos) were still considered at least “moderately important” by over 68 percent of respondents.

The fact that a significant majority of marketers viewed all seven of these tactics as important reflects that most believe optimizing their businesses’ social media content requires a multifaceted approach.

Most Important Tactics for Optimizing Content on Social Media

However, Strauss argues that our respondents’ priorities might need adjusting. For example, she says, their prioritization of images and hashtags over targeting specific audiences is completely backwards, and may reflect a more troubling lack of understanding about basic social media strategy.

Everyone knows images increase engagement, she says, “but how do you know which images are going to resonate with your audience if you don’t know who your audience is?”

Strauss also believes that marketers should more highly prioritize social calls-to-action (CTAs), saying, “If you don’t ask, ‘why don’t you visit my site,’ people probably won’t even bother to see if you have a site.”

But even then, she insists, these specific tactics only work “when you know exactly who you’re trying to reach and what you want them to do.” This means images and CTAs must be carefully selected to elicit a specific response from a specific sub-audience.

For example, when Oracle wanted to publicize an event at the South by Southwest Interactive conference with Chevrolet, it used the #sxswi hashtag to share a promotional image with attendees. It also included the @Chevrolet username to share with its partner’s audience, along with a CTA encouraging users to follow the event hashtag #IdeaRally and participate in the discussion.

And because this tweet was perfectly relevant to the attendees following the#sxswi hashtag, those users were positively inclined to respond to the CTA and to share the tweet with their own followers—who were also likely to find it interesting and actionable.

Most Test Sharing and CTRs to Optimize Times to Post

When we asked marketers about the tactics they used to determine the best times to post on social media, nearly all of them prioritized trial and error. Eighty-seven percent said it was at least “moderately important” to test the sharing rates and click-through rates (CTR) of content at different times of day and days of the week, in order to understand when potential audiences are most receptive.

On the whole, respondents valued testing for share rate and CTR almost equally, although slightly more said it was “very important” to optimize for the former (35 vs. 33 percent).

Many also felt it was “very important” (31 percent) or “important” (33 percent) to use social media optimization tools to help determine the best time to post. These would include social media monitoring and management tools such as Hootsuiteor Adobe Social.

Altogether, this data shows that the marketers in our sample feel it’s crucial to use testing strategies and social media monitoring to make data-driven decisions when it comes to optimizing the time to post their social content—and to base those decisions on multiple performance indicators, rather than focusing exclusively on any single metric.

The Ultimate List of IFTTT Recipes for Marketers

Recipe Prep

Most of the recipes that we’ve prepared here require a bit of pre-IFTTT prep. Here are two valuable tools that you’ll see used over and over again in these recipes.

  • Visual Ping: This tool will notify you when there is a visual change on a website, web page, or even just a area of a web page.
  • Page2RSS: This tool will convert any web page – even if the page doesn’t publish a feed of its own – to an RSS feed, so that you can easily subscribe.

A Note on Notification

Almost all of the THAT steps in our recipes below are means of notification. When writing these recipes, we selected what we thought were the most applicable forms of notification, but you should select whichever works best for you. It basically comes down to how quickly you’d like to be notified.

  • For example, if your site has been hacked, you’ll want to know ASAP, so you’ll probably want your alert to be a text message/SMS.
  • For something that you want to keep track of every day, an email might be the best notification for you.
  • If it’s something that you’ll want to check on maybe once a week or once a month, have the results archived in Evernote or a Google Doc.

Keep Track of the Competition

Easily Archive Your Competitors’ Emails

WHAT IT MEANS: Archive and organize emails from your competition for future analysis, without clogging up your inbox.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to emails from all of your competitors to a Gmail address.
      • Create filters in your email to automatically archive the emails and mark them as read.

CREATE A RECIPE ON  IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email or Gmail
      • New email from – the competition
      • THAT Channel: Evernote
      • Create a Note – in whichever notebook you specify.

Repeat for each competitor

Now, all competitor emails will be archived in Evernote for your future perusal and analysis.

Track Mentions of Competitors’ Employees on News Sites

WHAT IT MEANS: Monitor Newsle for mentions of competitors’ employees and other important industry influencers

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Sign up for an account on Newsle.com (you need a LinkedIn account to do so).
      • Sign up for Newsle emails, so that you get regular reports on when your LinkedIn contacts are mentioned in the news.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Gmail
      • New email from – Newsle
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these Newsle mentions

Now, you’ll have Newsle mentions saved in a Google doc for reference.


Track Your Competitors’ Website Changes

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep track of the changes that your competitors make to their websites.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use VisualPing.io to monitor a competitors’ web page. Set the timing and type of change to whatever you like, and add your email address for notification.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email
      • Email from Visual Ping
      • THAT Channel: SMS

Now, you’ll get a text message every time your competitor updates their page

Monitor your Competitors’ Blog Posts

WHAT IT MEANS: Stay on top of what your competitors are blogging about, and archive the posts.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Enter the blog post feed
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time there is a new blog post on the competition’s blog.

Stalk your competitors’ stocks

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a keen eye on your competition by monitoring their stock performance

HOW TO DO IT:

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Stocks
      • Choose whichever metric you’d like – price at close, price rises above, price drops below,etc.
      • Add the ticker symbol and price
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time the stock price moves.

Monitor your competitors’ executives

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a close eye on the C-level employees at your competition.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Set Google Alerts for executives’ names along with negative keywords (e.g. “stole” or “fired”) and subscribe to RSS alerts.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time one of these executives is mentioned online.

Watch out for your competitors’ YouTube videos

WHAT IT MEANS: Get notified every time one of your competitors creates and shares a new YouTube video.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Find your competitor’s YouTube channel (e.g.http://www.youtube.com/seerinteractive)
      • Subscribe to the RSS feed

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these YouTube videos

Now, you’ll have YouTube videos saved in a Google doc for reference.

Spy on your Competitors’ Website Tools

WHAT IT MEANS: Get a text message any time your competition is using a new software tool on their website.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use BuiltWith.com to view what software a site is using (e.g.http://builtwith.com/seerinteractive.com)
      • Enter the URL on VisualPing.io and set alerts and emails

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email (from VisualPing)
      • THAT Channel: SMS

You will now get a text message every time your competitor adds new software to their website.

Monitor Industry Acquisitions

WHAT IT MEANS: Find out if a competitor acquires or merges with another company

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to Yahoo Finance RSS feeds

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Select “new item matches” and enter a competitor name plus “acquisition” or “merger”
      • THAT Channel: Email

7 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

1. Share Great Content

The old adage remains true – (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sites. It’s a bit bourgeois for Facebook to assume CNN articles are always classy and memes are always pond scum, but we don’t get much choice in how Facebook adjusts its algorithm. My suggestion? Ramp up on your own original high-quality content with e-books, blog posts, white papers, etc.

2. Use Facebook Ads

With organic reach down, now is the perfect time to experiment with Facebook advertising. Facebook has revamped their ad system to be easier than ever to use. Paid Facebook ads can appear right in a user’s newsfeed, seamlessly blending with organic posts while boasting better reach. They’ve also introduced a newad relevance score (basically Quality Score for Facebook.) Give them a shot and see how they perform. Facebook ads are perfect for companies operating in competitive creative industries like craft marketing.

3. Extend to Other Social Networks

Integrate your Facebook marketing with other social networks – post pins, tweet, etc. Facebook has become crowded, with organic space steadily shrinking. There’s tons of competition and it’s easy for your content to get buried in users’ news feeds. Explore greener pastures by delving into newer social media hubs like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Google+. Don’t let Facebook be your crutch.

4. Time to Get Personal

Personal account posts tend to show up more in news feeds than business page posts, so why not take advantage of your staff members? Most of them probably use Facebook, so get them liking and sharing your company content. All is fair in the Facebook wars.

5. Import Your Contacts

If you have a big email list, you can import your contacts (up to 5k names at a time) and invite them to join your Facebook page. A higher number of Facebook friends means that your content will reach more people, despite lower organic visibility percentages. The more the merrier.

6. Post More Often

Increase your chances of appearing in news feeds simply by posting more. Get the odds in your favor! Posting 4-6 times a day increases the likelihood that one of those posts will get a bite.

7. Share Exclusive Content

Make your Facebook posts count by sharing exclusive content users won’t find anywhere else. Publicize flash sales, special discounts, contests, etc.