Social Media Marketing Checklist: 16 Common Mistakes to Avoid

It’s no secret that social media has become an important and necessary tactic within most digital marketing strategies. Social media helps build brand awareness, and also provides a space for brands to engage their audience outside of their company website or brick and mortar facilities. In fact, 92% of companies consider social media an important part of their business.

Of course, with nearly every brand using social—as well as frequent tweaks to platform algorithms—the competition to stand out in news feeds has never been more fierce, with brands fighting for visibility and engagement.

As a result, many brands and marketers are looking for creative ways to up their social media marketing efforts. But while being creative is a must, some opportunities may be right in front of you.

There are several social media marketing mistakes that are easy to make, but also easy to remedy.

With that said, below we dive into some common social media marketing mistakes, as well as tips for helping you avoid them.

#1 – Not having a social media strategy.

Creating a social media marketing strategy will help you think critically about your goals, how you’ll execute tactics, and how you’ll measure success. In addition, your strategy can be used as a handy guide to keep you on track with posting and engaging regularly.

Tip: Get started by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • What do I want my followers to know about my brand? (What niche do I serve?)
  • What are my audience’s pain points?
  • What type of content does my audience consume on social?
  • What social media platforms does my audience use?
  • What kind of results do I want? (Increased social traffic to my blog? More followers?)
  • How will I measure effectiveness or results? (Engagement metrics? Social traffic to the website?)

#2 – Not tailoring your message to your audience on each platform.

Chances are you’re using multiple social media channels to share content and engage with your audience. But writing one message and cross-posting it to each channel is not an effective use of your time.

Tip: Use data and insights to understand the type of content and messaging style that resonates with your audience on each platform. This will allow you to tailor your content to make a better impact.

#3 – Only posting links to your website.

The type of content your post as a big impact on reach and engagement. These days it’s pretty clear that audiences are looking for relevant, well-rounded content and discussion—so posting links to your website or blog content can’t and won’t get you the results you’re looking for

Tip: Embrace social media as a way to connect with your audience, encourage discussion, show your value and build a rapport. Set aside time—whether it’s daily, weekly or bi-monthly—to curate content that is relevant and interesting to your audience.

Audiences are looking for relevant, well-rounded content & discussion. @CaitlinMBurgess #socialmedia
Click To Tweet

#4 – Being too long-winded.

Generally speaking, posts that are short, sweet and creative are the most effective—especially on platforms where users are most likely using a mobile device to read, share and interact.

Tip: Keep your character count to between 90 and 100 for Facebook, LinkedIn Google+ and Twitter. For Instagram and Pinterest, aim to stay under 175 and 200 characters, respectively. In addition, use active voice to encourage action from your audience.

#5 – Improper use of hashtags.

Hashtags have different relevance and utility on every social media platform. As a result, under or over-hashtagging your content could have a negative impact on your social efforts.

Tip: Research hashtag best practices for each platform to understand if and how to use them. In addition, make sure you understand what hashtags actually mean, so you can use them in the appropriate way for each platform. Use the native search box within social platforms, as well as tools such as or

#Hashtags have different relevance and utility on every #socialmedia platform.
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#6 – Neglecting to tag or mention others when curating content.

Mentioning and tagging other pages and users in your content is one of the best ways to amplify your posts. Not only do those you tag and mention get notified when you do so, but they’ll be more compelled to engage on your post or share your post with their audience.

Tip: Create a master list of the accounts or handles that you regularly curate content from to make it easy to mention or tag them in your posts.

#7 – Too much talking and not enough listening.

The whole point of social media is to provide a space for people to engage in sharing and discussion. For brands, it’s important to have a voice, but it’s also important to encourage others to have one, too.

Tip: Ask your community engaging and thoughtful questions to get the conversation going and tap into their insights. If you’re on Twitter, consider posting a weekly poll on a relevant topic to inspire engagement.

#8 – Not crediting the work of others.

While this one seems pretty obvious, it’s a good reminder. Crediting the work of others is not only the right thing to do, but also sends good signals to the original creators and your audience.

Tip: Just don’t do it. Take the extra time to include a credit in any of the content you produce.

#9 – Not taking advantage of native video uploads on Facebook.

It’s pretty safe to say that all marketers understand that video is an increasingly important marketing tool for capturing audience attention, showing value and encouraging engagement.

But when it comes to social media, specifically Facebook, you may just be sharing links to a YouTube video or an embedded video on your website, which requires your audience to take an additional step to watch it.

Tip: Consider uploading some of your video content natively to Facebook. Native video can eliminate a barrier to that interaction, keep people engaged with your brand in that very moment and make your video easy to share.

#10 – Forgetting about the power of images.

Humans are highly visual creatures. In fact, research shows that an estimated 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. So, if you’re not using images as part of your social media strategy, you’re doing your brand a disservice.

Tip: Research image sizing best practices for each platform to ensure any images you share will render properly. In addition, use tools such as Canva to create professional and compelling images.

If you’re not using images as part of your #socialmedia strategy, you’re doing your brand a disservice.
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#11 – Having too many profiles on one platform.

This is something that many large enterprise companies may struggle with, but even small- to mid-size companies see the need for multiple pages on a single social platform. While each of their divisions may provide unique content, it could be confusing for audiences to see multiple branded accounts.

Tip: For LinkedIn specifically, take advantage of Showcase pages to highlight special divisions or companies under your parent umbrella. For other platforms, take time to perfect your on-page content to make it easy for your audience to understand who you are. In addition, make sure your company website details and links to all pages.

#12 – Ineffective or non-existing ad spending.

With so many brands and marketers on social media and decreased organic reach thanks to algorithm tweaks, the competition for your audience’s attention is stiff. As a result, social media advertising is becoming a necessity for many brands.

Tip: When starting a social advertising campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you want to accomplish with your campaign?
  • How much do you plan on investing?
  • What is the content, product, service, offer or promotion that you’ll be advertising?

As with any type of marketing, the best results will come from campaigns with one specific goal and/or action to be taken.

#13 – Forgetting about analytics.

Once you launch your social media strategy, it can be easy to fall into a routine of simply executing that strategy. However, if you don’t take the time to understand what is and isn’t working, all your execution efforts will be for nothing.

Tip: Use Google Analytics or your preferred analytics tool to uncover how much referral traffic each social platform is sending to your website, top pages, time on page and average number of pages visited, and conversions. This will lend more context to the traffic you’re receiving and help you draw conclusions about whether or not your efforts are driving the results you’re looking for.

In addition, use the analytics and insights available on each platform to get more insights into the type of content that is resonating with your audience, as well as how they are actually engaging with that content.

#13 – Not testing new tactics and ideas.

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving social media marketing success. Furthermore, a tactic that’s working great now may not get the same results in a few months. As a result, you should always be testing and experimenting with new ideas.

Tip: Choose one social media channel to launch your test. While each channel is unique, starting with just one will help you understand what is and isn’t working, so you can roll out something similar on your other channels later on.

#15 – Neglecting SEO.

All social media platforms contain their own search engines and many of them can be indexed by Google, Bing and other third-party search engines, making SEO an important component of any campaign or contest.

Tip: Compile a list of targeted keywords and topics, as well as any relevant hashtags, that you’d like to rank for socially. Once you have your list, conduct native query searches for the terms to discover who or what kind of content is coming up in searches. Theses insights can help you refine your keyword list, ensure relevancy, and potentially get a glimpse of the competition.

#16 – Neglecting community management.

Social media community management is all about nurturing your social audience to make it stronger, larger and more engaged.

Tip: Intertwine your tactical social media marketing efforts with community management to build a larger, more engaged community of followers.

Intertwine your tactical #socialmedia marketing efforts with community management. @CaitlinMBurgess
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What social media marketing tactic is working great for your organization? What’s not working so well? Tell us in the comments section below.

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The No BS Approach to Influencer Marketing

No BS Influencer Marketing

No BS Influencer Marketing
Since I’ve been monitoring the topic of “influencer marketing” through BuzzSumo Alerts, the number of articles surfaced has gone from a few per week to 5 or 10 per day.

Out of that rising wave of expression from industry websites and blogs is a mix of news, tips, trends and 100% pure B.S.

Rising popularity makes things shiny and as influencer marketing enters the shiny object phase, it’s more important than ever to separate the facts from the fake.

Whether it’s practices that will get you in hot water with the FTC or the waste of a perfectly good budget on micro-influencer wannabes promising viral hits galore, there are plenty of distractions from realizing true influencer marketing ROI.

We’ve been working with influencers in earnest since 2011 and the lessons learned have been invaluable. A big part of what I get to do with our agency is to test ideas and approaches over months and even years in order to bring data-informed recommendations to our clients. I’ll tap into that experience for this post.

A BS-free approach to influencer marketing starts with this important understanding: The most practical and useful way to engage influencers in a way that creates value for everyone involved is through content. In fact, 80% of marketers say content marketing is what working with influencers has the greatest impact on. Accept that truth and your path to influencer marketing ROI will be much shorter, painless and enjoyable.

In a marketing context, influence is the ability to affect action – not attract 1,000, 100,000 or a million fans, friends and followers. To create action you need content and relationships.

Therefore, my definition of influencer marketing is: Developing relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks, to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.

Let’s break that down:

Developing relationships: Most influencer marketing involves the completion of a task. It might be an exchange of money for the creation of video posted to YouTube or occasionally replying via email to a quote request for a roundup blog post. These are both transactions and a transactional approach is not what wins hearts and minds.

Companies that approach influencer marketing with relationships in mind, will use co-creation of content to help build those relationships. The stronger the relationships, the better the content and the more actively involved the influencer will be in collaboration and promotion.

That means allocating time to connect the dots with influencers and your longer term content and social media plans, monitoring, engagement and communications. Not just an email when you need 50 words for a post on Wednesday.

Internal and industry experts: Influence is not limited to one type of person and brands can benefit greatly if they expand their view to include a mix of influencer types. That means looking internally at subject matter experts and executives that, with a little training, could contribute in a very meaningful way.

Beyond the professional influencers and industry experts are members of the media, customers, prospective customers and members of any communities that the brand is active in. All must be considered when developing relationships to grow your brand’s influence and the influence of those you work with.

Active networks: Expertise is not rare. A community of people that are actively paying attention and influenced by a person with knowledge and an opinion is less common and far more valuable for marketing. That means internal and external influencers that publish and engage to attract a network are often better collaboration partners because they have channels of distribution for their work.

Co-create content: Without content there is no communication and no influence.

It’s fine to engage someone with creative talent and a large audience to create media without the brand’s proactive involvement. That’s less about influencer marketing than hiring someone to make and promote media.

An influencer that collaborates with the brand is investing something meaningful into the project and that investment often brings inspiration to make it successful. When a brand is able to pull together a highly relevant group of influencers and has inspired them to see the greater good of the project, it’s amazing what can happen with the content and promotion of it.

Brands need to find a way to make influencers care about the content and the project’s success. If they don’t care, they won’t share.

Drive measurable business goals: Benchmarks and goals are essential for any marketing program and influencer content is no different. Influencer collaborations that are evaluated purely on participation, social shares or advertising equivalency fall short of meaningful ROI.

Mapping marketing to business goals is especially important with influencer marketing because the value of influencer collaboration can extend far beyond marketing to PR, customer success, and even talent acquisition.

Make sense?

A relationship and content-focused approach to influencer marketing makes it a dynamic, responsive and proactive asset that grows in momentum and value over time.

“When the brand and influencer relationship is mutually beneficial, both parties are going to get the best results out of the engagement.”
Amisha Gandhi, Senior Director of Influencer Marketing, SAP

By the way, Amisha and I are teaching an influencer strategy workshop at Content Marketing World on September 5th from 1-4pm. Check it out.

Going into an influencer marketing effort with an understand that you’re building something of value over time, not spending value on short term, disconnected campaigns, will make a world of difference in how successful the investment will be.

Let’s play a game of calling out influencer marketing B.S. – I’m going to list 5 statements that seem to be making their rounds and you can tell me if you feel they are legit or if they are B.S.

1. Influencer Marketing is best for B2C
2. It’s better to pay influencers for quicker results
3. Influencer Marketing is mostly for big brands
4. Only the famous and socially connected are influential
5. Tools are optional for Influencer Marketing

Do you agree with all of these statements? Or just a few of them? Any of them? Please let me know in the comments or on Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook.

Better yet, chime on during the free webinar Ann Handley and I are giving on this very topic Tuesday February 28th at 12pm ET. You can get more information and register here.

Ann and I are going to share our perspectives as an influencer marketing practitioner and influencer to help marketers separate the “fake facts” and B.S. from what’s really going to help companies achieve positive ROI.

We’ll play a little influencer marketing B.S. Bingo plus we’ll dig into the most practical and B.S.-free advice we have on implementing successful influencer content programs. I will also share a 3 step approach I’ve used many times over with great success.

Webinar Details:
The No BS Guide to Influencer Marketing ROI With Lee Odden & Ann Handley
Tue, Feb 28, 2017, 12pm ET


The post The No BS Approach to Influencer Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Online Marketing News: Mobile Email Stats, YouTube Kills 30-Second Ads and Execs on IoT

Your Guide to Email-Open Statistics on Mobiles [Infographic]
Well over half of all email users are opening their email on mobile devices. It’s important that marketing emails are mobile friendly, because although a majority of emails are being opened on mobile, most conversions are coming from desktop. MarketingProfs

YouTube Kills 30-Second Unskippable Mobile Ads for Shorter and More Interactive Formats
Beginning on January 1, 2018, YouTube will kill the unskippable 30-second ads users see on mobile videos. Brands can still buy 20-second and 6-second bumper ads. YouTube has reportedly made this change as part of their ‘commitment to providing better ad experience’. AdWeek

73% Of Execs See Internet Of Things Impact On Business
A recent study showed that 73% of business executives said the Internet of Things had at least some impact on their business, while 21% said it has a major impact. However, there are a number of obstacles in the way – high cost of investment, concerns about security and regulation among others. MediaPost

Reports: Digital, especially mobile, driving trillions in offline retail spending
Digital media contributed to a reported $1.26 trillion in local retail sales in 2016, according to a recent report from Forrester. This is a large section of the overall $4.5 trillion local retail sales last year. Forrester predicts that in 2021, mobile devices will influence $1.4 trillion in local retail sales. MarketingLand

Google to sunset Google Site Search by end of 2017
Search Engine Land reports: “Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are discontinuing support for the Google Site Search product. Google said they are directing those consumers to either the ad-powered product named free custom search engine or the new cloud search product.” Search Engine Land

Google fights online trolls with new tool
The Washington Post reports: On Thursday, [Google] publicly released an artificial intelligence tool, called Perspective, that scans online content and rates how “toxic” it is based on ratings by thousands of people.” That ‘toxicity score’ will help users determine whether or not they want to participate in the conversation. The Washington Post

On Snapchat’s Ad Performance, in Comparison to Industry Benchmarks
A recent report was published that showed around 69% of SnapChat users either always or often skip ads. That figure increases to 80% among their top audience – 18 to 24-year-olds. But those numbers are far less shocking when compared to other media giants like YouTube and Facebook. Social Media Today

Google Reduces Star Rating Threshold: Why Businesses Should Take Notice
Google has lowered the threshold of reviews it takes for your ‘stars’ to show up next to your company’s business listings from five reviews to one. To combat the potential negative effects of one bad review, Search Engine Journal has a few tips, like following up with an email, and asking your customers for reviews. Search Engine Journal

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news stories! Have something to share? Tweet it to @toprank or share in the comments.

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The QuickStart Guide to Using Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility

There are many powerful SEO tools in today’s marketing world. Most SEO tools can be highly beneficial, but often come with a cost associated with it. However, there are some tools that smart marketers can leverage to assist with the variety of tasks needed on a given day.

One tool that smart marketers can leverage for SEO is Google Search Console. This free tool provided by Google is a great way to gain insights about your site in one main platform. Google Search Console is often underutilized by search marketing teams. To help you get the most benefit from Google Search Console, we outlined the four main areas within the tool to help you reach your search marketing objectives. Before we get into the four main areas within Google Search Console, let’s discuss what the tool even is.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free web-based SEO tool for webmasters to track both the indexing and crawling stats from Googlebot while also providing metrics to help optimize a website for organic visibility. This SEO tool is useful to monitor metrics and discover new insights to help increase your organic footprint.

Google states that anyone with a website should use Google Search Console. One great thing about Google Search Console is that it is easy to use for whoever has access to the property.

Google Search Console Setup and Verification

The first step to using Google Search Console is the setup and verification process. You will want to create a Google Search Console property for each version of your site including:

You will get the complete view by setting up all the versions of your domain. Besides setting up properties for each version, you can also setup properties for an individual subfolder on your site. By setting up a property for a subfolder, you will be able to see metrics for a specific section of your site, which can be beneficial for large sites.


After you created your property, you will need to verify the site. There are multiple ways to verify your property within Google Search Console, including:

  • HTML file upload – Upload an HTML file to your site
  • HTML tag – Add a meta tag to your site’s home page
  • Domain name provider – Sign in to your domain name provider
  • Google Analytics – Use your Google Analytics account
  • Google Tag Manager – Use your Google Tag Manager account

We recommend the verification method that would be the easiest and most efficient for your site. The most common verification methods we recommend are either via Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager. Otherwise, we typically recommend adding the HMTL tag to the site’s header.

Search Appearance

One of the first main sections of Google Search Console is the “Search Appearance” section. This section is important for webmasters to understand how their website is currently setup and how it may potentially show up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Within the search appearance section is information regarding structured markup, rich cards, HTML improvements (metadata information), and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) setup.


Each area within this section is important to track monthly, but the HTML improvements area provides insights that is helpful when optimizing a website. This area can surface insights regarding duplicate meta descriptions and title tags. It also states when content is non-indexable, which can make a significant difference when prioritizing your optimization efforts.

Search Traffic

The next section in Google Search Console is the “Search Traffic” section. This section provides insights regarding the keywords your site is showing up for, linking metrics from external and internal sources, any manual actions, international targeting metrics, and the mobile usability of your website.

Each area within the Search Traffic section is important, but the majority of your time will most likely be found analyzing the Search Analytics tab. The Search Analytics tab shows the keywords that your site is showing up for. You can break down the tab into multiple subsections between clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. If that isn’t enough for you already, you can then dive deeper into the metrics by individual pages, keywords, countries, devices (desktop, mobile, tablet), search type (web, images, videos), search appearance (AMP or rich snippets), and the date range (within 90 days).

The search analytics tab is a very powerful SEO tool. You can analyze your site for keyword opportunities on a page or a section of your site. You can also drill down into how your mobile keywords are performing compared to your desktop keywords. At TopRank Marketing, we use this tab to identify SEO strategies to help increase organic visibility by re-optimizing content that has multiple keywords ranking on the bottom of page one or the top of page two. We also use the tab to guide the creation of our content plans for different SEO campaigns.

The second tab you should spend more time on is the mobile usability tab. This tab outlines if your website is mobile friendly or not. It is important to stay on top of any mobile usability issues so that your site renders correctly for all types of devices, especially with Google moving to the mobile-first index.

Google Index

The third section in Google Search Console is the “Google Index” section. This section is useful to understand how many pages are included Google’s index and if there are any blocked resources on your site. The index status tab is useful when analyzing if Google is indexing all the pages you want included in the SERPs. It is good to check the pattern of the index status of your website so that the number of pages is growing consistently or not dropping off quickly randomly.


The blocked resources tab is a great way to easily identify if certain pages are blocked from Googlebot. Make sure you check this tab to optimize the crawling of the pages/resources that you want being crawled by Googlebot.

You can also remove URLs temporarily from the Google index with the remove URLs tab. This tab is useful when you need to remove a page quickly. As a note, the tab only removes the page temporarily (around 90 days) and you still will need to update your site to permanently remove the page.


The last main section of Google Search Console is the “Crawl” section. This section provides smart marketers information regarding broken pages or files on the website, crawl stats from Googlebot, and URL parameter information. The section also provides tools to submit your content to Google, test your robots.txt file and submit your sitemap to Google.

The crawl errors tab is one of the more important areas within Google Search Console. This tab shows the URLs that might be broken from both internal and external sources. At TopRank Marketing, we often recommend implementing 301 redirects for the crawl errors that actually were pages at some point. It is important to audit the list to make sure you are not implementing redirects that are not needed.

Another useful tab is the sitemaps area, because you can submit your sitemap to Google to make it easier for your site to be crawled and indexed. Similarly, you can also submit individual pages to Google with the fetch as Google tool. The fetch as Google tool is a great way to get your updated content indexed quickly.


Use Google Search Console to Help Increase Your Organic Visibility

Google Search Console is a very powerful SEO tool for multiple reasons. We recommend using Google Search Console when running SEO campaigns to maximize your visibility and to plan the overall strategy. To increase your organic visibility for other search engines, make sure you use Bing Webmaster Tools as well to gain more insights.

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The QuickStart Guide to Using Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility |

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Three Crucial Truths for Engaging Your Audience on Mobile

My eight-year-old son recently asked me why the icons for “phone” look so weird. None of these images look like a phone to him:






Smartphones have already killed payphones and landlines. Now they’re poised to do the same to desktops and laptops. Google is already reporting more mobile searches than desktop searches. Desktop internet use has stagnated while mobile eats up an ever bigger share of our internet time.

It’s clear that the future of content consumption will increasingly be on mobile devices. There’s definitely still value in long-form content for users to settle in with on desktops. But your content strategy should include a healthy dose of mobile optimized content.

To fully take advantage of the opportunity, we need to understand how people use their mobile screens and alter our content accordingly.

Here are three big truths you need to know to create compelling mobile content.

#1: Your Audience Is in between Activities

People reach for their phones to fill a quick moment in time. They’re in the doctor’s office waiting room, or boiling water for pasta, or (let’s be honest) in the bathroom. Most people don’t pull out the phone thinking, “I’m going to settle in and read for an hour.” They’re planning on being interrupted.

Plan your content for someone who could put away their device at any time:

  • Frontload the value. Don’t be coy or mysterious. Now is not the time to build tension for a big reveal later. The first few paragraphs should let the reader know what’s in it for them.
  • Keep It Short. Jacob Baadsgaard at Disruptive Advertising did a fascinating experiment on content length. They found while mid-length content performed best on desktop, the shortest version of the same content performed best on mobile.
  • Don’t be shy with the CTA. More likely than not, your mobile reader isn’t going to reach the end of your content. Embed your CTA early on in the text.

#2: Your Audience Is Extremely Restless

People on mobile phones are not renowned for their patience. Google reports that although the average mobile site loads in seven seconds, most users are ready to bolt after just two.

Even if your page loads in quickly, you have a drastically-reduced window of time to capture reader attention.

Show them your content is worth the investment:

  • Include optimized, eye-catching images. Librestock is a good source for unique, royalty-free photos.
  • Make your headline tweetable. Your headline should be as sharp and efficient as a well-crafted tweet. Give readers a what and why before they get to your copy.
  • Avoid backscrolling. Give each section a header, and make sure each stands alone—your reader should be able to stop and come back hours later without having to reread.

#3: Your Audience Wants to Be Entertained

Even with the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips, mobile audiences are starved for entertainment. It’s what keeps us scrolling through Reddit or Buzzfeed, looking for a worthy distraction.

Multimedia can be a great way to differentiate your content and grab attention. There are plenty of ways to provide a more compelling experience on a limited budget.

Try these tools and techniques for engaging multimedia on mobile:

  • Animated video. Turn your images into a slideshow with animated text. Programs like Ripl can create nifty video for free, with advanced options for a premium.
  • Interactive Quizzes. Sites like Qzzr make it easy to create quizzes that are naturally optimized to look great on mobile. Qzzr also provides stats for the quiz’s creator, including number of times taken, time spent, completion rate, and more.
  • Infographics. No discussion of compelling visuals would be complete without Canva. Their templates make it possible to make a scrollworthy infographic without having to get a design degree first.

Don’t Be a Payphone in a Smartphone World

The majority of your audience is looking for content on mobile. Serve them content that suits the medium: Lead with the value, don’t give them a reason to bounce, and try some engaging multimedia content.

Most of all, make sure your content leads to the next step. Because while mobile may account for 60% of online traffic, it contributes only 16% of purchases. A solid content marketing strategy can span devices and help guide your customer to a conversion.

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Three Crucial Truths for Engaging Your Audience on Mobile |

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5 Ways to Level Up Your Content Marketing Maturity

Large or small. Growing or dwindling resources. New or experienced in the content marketing realm. Every organization is at a different stage in their content marketing maturity, looking for innovative and even practical ways to bring their efforts to the next level.

But as the old adage goes, you have to walk before you run—and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to growing your content marketing maturity.

Simply put. In order to grow your content marketing maturity, you have to understand where you’re at and create a strategy to get to the next step.

Using TopRank Marketing’s own content marketing maturity model—developed by CEO Lee Odden—below we offer insights to help you determine your current level of maturity, as well as tips to help you move on to the next.

#1 – Statis

Stasis is the ground-level of our content marketing maturity model, with marketers focused on maintaining the status quo.

If your organization is at this stage, the content you’re creating is likely necessary or required, and brand-centric. In addition, you’re probably light on resources, so while you may be doing a little experimentation with SEO, blogging or social media, there may not be much cohesion or commitment.

Tip for Leveling Up: Identify key challenges such as department silos or lack of defined processes and resources to get a clear picture of where you’re at and the issues that need to be addressed. Use what you’ve uncovered to reasonably identify and allocate resources, set goals and get your first strategy in place.

#2- Production

If your organization is in the Production stage, you’ve realized that content is a gateway for backlinks, social shares and increased search visibility. As a result, you’re likely focused on creating “more” content that’s guided by an SEO strategy.

At this stage, you probably have some solid, dedicated resources and tools to help generate ideas, and manage, promote and measure results. And—if you’ve done your keyword research—you’ve probably seen some early successes in widening your web footprint, but inquiries may not be rolling in.

Tip for Leveling Up: Craft a content plan that allows you to combine your SEO efforts with specific opportunities to reach your audience at various stages of their buying journey. This will allow you to really dig into your customer’s point of view and pain points, and create content that shows you understand and empathize.

#3 – Utility

If your organization is at the Utility stage, you’ve developed your content marketing programs to go beyond brand-centric and keyword-focused pieces. You’re making a real investment in understanding who your audience is and crafting content that empathizes with them, and contributes to a good user experience.

In addition, you’ve likely defined distinct customer segments, and planning content that aims to provide them with the information they need throughout their purchasing journey. With all the useful content you’re creating, you’re also seeing growth in your social communities.

Tip for Leveling Up: Create more meaningful connections with buyers and your social community by beginning to add an emotional element to your content. In other words, it’s time to go beyond informing your audience about, and help them feel what your brand stands for. In addition, this might be the time to start nurturing your relationships with relevant influencers.

#4 – Storytelling

If your organization is at the Storytelling phase, you’ve come intimately familiar with the questions your audience has during the sales cycle, and you’ve created great content to satisfy their queries. But now you’re evolving your approach to connect with customers on an emotional level—and what better way to do just that than becoming a storyteller?

During your content planning, you’re identifying key brand narratives to enhance your strategy, driving ideas across owned, earned, paid or shared media outlets.

It’s at this stage that being the best answer for your audience becomes a key driver, and you’re integrating content across multiple channels.

Tip for Leveling Up: Continue to refine your content strategy and creation practices to drive continuous improvement, and help keep the standing you’ve worked so hard for. In addition, looks for ways to seize quality and relevant opportunities to help position your brand as a dominant authority in your industry.

#5 – Monetization

All organizations aim to make it to the top of the content maturity model: the Monetization stage. After all, the core function of marketing is to create awareness, educate your audience and eventually inspire action that triggers leads and sales.

At this stage, the content is so good, so incredibly useful and provides such an awesome experience, that it can actually generate revenue on its own through things such as syndication, advertising and sponsorships.

If you’ve made it to this level, I’d like to extend a huge congratulations. Not many make it this far, so kudos.

The Big Takeaway

If your brand doesn’t seem to fit neatly into one of these stages, don’t panic. The model isn’t rigid, but rather it’s meant to help you think about where you are and where you’d like to go so you can craft a content marketing strategy to help you get there.

Where does your organization fit in the content marketing maturity model? What steps are you taking to help you get to the next level?

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How to Get Started with Instagram Ads

Imagine trying to sell Instagram to a venture capitalist back in 2010. “You see, the biggest problem with Facebook and MySpace is that there are too many words. Our social network will be almost entirely pictures. I know, I know, but get this: People will be able to make their pictures look like crappy Polaroids from the 70s and 80s! AND we’ll do it all on mobile, so people can download these pictures at blistering 2G and 3G speeds!”

It seems like a tough pitch, right? Only a few forward-looking folks knew that visual content was the wave of the future. As mobile speeds increased and phones got smarter, Instagram became a major player in the social media world.

These days, Instagram has a massive amount of potential for marketers of every stripe. 90% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users are under 35. These millennials and Gen-Zers have plenty of buying power, and the platform has taken pains to introduce and develop marketing-friendly features.

If your brand isn’t on Instagram yet, there’s a good possibility it should be. Brands as diverse as GE and Donna Karan are seeing great results. If you can create arresting visual content for your brand, you’re good to go.

Here’s what you need to know to get started on Instagram.

#1: Create an Instagram Account

Before you start posting your own ads, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the platform. Create a Business Profile account and begin building your audience with engaging content.

Make sure to follow plenty of similar companies to see what the competition is up to, and add a few who aren’t in your vertical but have ideas worth borrowing.

#2: Build an Organic Audience with Great Content

If your brand lends itself to high-fashion photos or dynamic product shots, you don’t need to think too hard about your content strategy. For the rest of us, think of the platform as a place to provide an authentic look into your company’s culture.

Use photos and video to take followers behind the scenes at your company. Introduce employees and show them at work. Give viewers a tour of your headquarters. Take them with you to corporate events.

Instagram supports videos up to 60 seconds long, which is just enough time for a quick how-to or a few words of advice. Keep it non-promotional and valuable, and you can start to grow an organic audience.

Even though Instagram is a visual platform, don’t worry about having the most polished, professional-looking visuals. You’re better off actually using the tools Instagram provides to create authentic-looking images that match the platform’s look and feel.

#3: Connect Your Instagram Account to Facebook Business Manager

Facebook owns Instagram, so you will be posting your ads through Facebook’s Business Manager. That means the basic process for creating Instagram ads should be familiar to anyone who has run campaigns on Facebook.

There are two options for creating ads: Ads Manager and Power Editor. Ads Manager is the simpler of the two, but has plenty of functionality for those just starting out. The platform will walk you through the process of choosing an objective, audience, and adding creative.

#4: Create Ads: It’s Hip to Be Square

There are three types of ads you can create:

  1. Single Photo: A single photo, oddly enough.
  2. Photo Carousel: Up to 5 photos that viewers can swipe through
  3. Video: Up to 60 seconds of video.

Start with the single photo option for your first few campaigns. They’re the simplest to create, but you still have a good chance of seeing results with a strong visual.

Once you have a little experience, try out the photo carousel. See how you can use the format to tell a simple story. Give people a reason to swipe to the next photo.

If you have the setup to create beautiful, compelling video content, it’s worth trying out video ads. These ads tend to have the highest engagement of the three types. Use video to tell a story as visually as possible. As with Facebook, your video should make sense with the sound off.

You can choose ads that run in Instagram’s native square format, landscape, or vertical. Square ads actually give you more screen real estate than landscape ads, so it’s a good idea to stick with that classic square. Use these technical specifications to make sure your ad will look its best.

#5: Use Hashtags Sparingly

Hashtags help Instagram sort and display photos—think of them like the category tags in your blog. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. You’re likely to see people who make full use of all 30. Resist the urge to follow in their footsteps.

Hashtags work best when you keep them relevant and use no more than five per post. Other users can add more tags when they share your content. So start with minimal descriptive tags and let the community decide what else is relevant. And ignore that 2200 character limit—stick to around 125  characters for your captions.

#6: Tailor Content for Specific Goals

If your goal is to raise awareness and grow your audience, look to content that is already performing well with your organic audience. Put a little budget behind content that is proven to engage, and it’s more likely to enjoy success and help bring in more followers.

For lead gen goals, use visuals that contain a clear call to action. HubSpot did extensive testing on Instagram ad types for their Complete Guide to Instagram Advertising (gated). They discovered—however counterintuitively—that the highest CTR for their lead gen ads came from visuals that looked more like ads than native content. So for your gated content offer, don’t go with a cute kitten picture or an inspirational quote. Offer a preview of the content and make it clear what you want your reader to do.

#Blessed #Success #LovingInstagramMarketing

Instagram may seem like a hard nut to crack, especially if you’re not in an industry known for strong visuals. In reality, though, if you’re successful on Facebook, you can make it on Instagram. Tell a compelling story, provide value for your audience, and they’ll click through.

From more from our team, follow us at TopRankMarketing. Is your brand rocking it on Instagram? If so, tell us how in the comments.

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Online Marketing News: Generational Video, Facebook Ups the Volume and Hiring an SEO

Infographic: How Gens X, Y and Z Consume Video Content
A new infographic shows how content consumers across generations interact with video content — unsurprisingly, Gen Z consumes video at a higher frequency than their Gen Y and Gen X counterparts, but the platform and preferred format data may surprise you. AdWeek

Facebook Videos Will Now Play With the Sound on by Default
In contrast with a decision made last year to keep the sound from auto-playing on videos in the News Feed, Facebook has opted to turn the automatic sound back on for videos after rumored pressure from advertisers. User groups have reviewed this favorably, but there is also the option to disable auto-play with sound in your individual settings. AdAge

How to Hire an SEO [Video]
Hiring a good SEO is a daunting task for many — but Google’s Maile Ohye is here to help with some useful tips. First and foremost, SEO isn’t black magic. She also points out that an SEO is only as good as the site they have to work with in terms of credibility and content. Google Webmasters

The Impact of Email List Segmentation on Engagement
Personalizing content in your emails by segmentation works, according to a new study from MailChimp. The study saw open rates increase by 14% where segmentation was used, and a whopping 101% increase in click through rate. MarketingProfs

Google Asked to Remove Over a Million Websites for Copyright Infringement
Google’s Transparency Report showed that the search engine recently hit a major milestone – they’ve been asked to remove one million domains from their search results and two billion individual URLs. Some of these are due to copyright infringement or illegal content, but others are due to personal preference of the reporting user. For the latter, Google has the option to deny the request. Search Engine Journal

Get Ready for Pinners to Search Outside the Box
On February 8th, Pinterest announced Pinterest Lens (in Beta): “Pinterest Lens uses people’s mobile cameras to search for ideas using objects they see out in the real world. Just point Lens at a pair of shoes, and tap to see related styles.” Pinterest

Facebook’s Rolling Out a New Job Posting Option for Pages
Social Media Today reports: “This week, Facebook has confirmed that this new functionality is being rolled out to all business Pages, starting with North American-based organizations […] the workflow is fairly straightforward – when you want to advertise an open position, you click on the ‘Create Job’ option, which will be added to the new Page post options buttons.” Social Media Today

Mobile makes up 21 pct. of online spending in Q4, as digital commerce reaches $109 billion
ComScore released their 2016 eCommerce spending figures, and the results are in – consumers spent 21% ($22.7 Billion) of total online revenue (109.3 Billion) on mobile. Online revenue still didn’t overtake retail during the holiday season, but there’s always next year. Marketing Land

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news! In the meantime, keep the conversation going on Twitter @toprank or drop a note in the comments.

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Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test?

It is hard to argue that the adoption of mobile devices hasn’t exploded with popularity. Most searches are being performed on mobile devices, with more searches expected to continue on mobile.

Mobile is not only important for organic performance but for conversions from all types of traffic including email and paid channels. It is important to understand your mobile traffic to focus on the channels that convert the most on those devices. For some websites, mobile devices might bring in the majority of your traffic but the conversions might not be as high as desktop searches, because of less focus on the mobile experience.

Today, most websites are built with a responsive design to help make it mobile friendly, but that doesn’t mean marketers should stop there. Instead, marketers should optimize the entire mobile experience to enhance conversions and overall performance. To you out, we built a list of actionable tips to make sure your site is mobile friendly from three categories: SEO for mobile devices, mobile content, and mobile conversions.

Mobile SEO Tactics

#1 – Choosing the right mobile website setup

When choosing your website setup, make sure you understand what mobile design you want. There are three main types of mobile sites including:

  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic site
  • Mobile only site (

Google recommends using a responsive design for your website to help make sure it is mobile friendly, but any option works when done correctly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Analyze your audience to understand what the best option is for your site. Not all sites need to have a responsive design, considering a mobile only site can be tailored to your mobile audience easier in some cases.


#2 – Test your site for mobile friendliness

There are multiple ways to test if your site is mobile friendly including the Google Usability Test, Google Search Console report, and Chrome Developer tools. Use multiple tools to be sure that your mobile site is rendering correctly instead of assuming that your site is mobile friendly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use the Chrome Developer Tools to get a better idea of how your website looks like on certain devices by selecting the “inspect” element. Then in the bottom left-hand corner, select the button that looks like a mobile device (see below).

The screenshot below shows the look on a mobile device. You can choose between a responsive site by pixel size or actual mobile phones by selecting the drop down at the top of the screen.


#3 – Optimize your metadata

Mobile SERPs (search engine results page) have less real estate for organic listings than desktop SERPs. It is important to understand the search landscape and SERP space available to market yourself over your competitors.

TopRank Marketing tip: Keep your title tags shorter and more concise to avoid your title tags being cut off in the SERP. It is best practice to keep your title tags under, at least, 70 characters for your title tags.


#4 – Optimize for mobile keywords

Have you ever conducted a search with a “near me” signifier attached to it? Near me searches are increasing and doubled in 2015 for all types of users, but especially for mobile users. Mobile keywords can also include more voice queries that people conduct with their phones.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make sure you conduct keyword research for mobile users and target mobile keywords. The search intent of a keyword query can vary based on the device people use so optimizing for all types of keywords will help increase your visibility.


#5 – Content for mobile devices

There are multiple types of content that should be considered when creating content for mobile users and your audience. Most marketers are already considering the type of content to write for their website on the attract, engage, convert model, but there sometimes is a lack of focus on mobile consumption habits. Mobile consumption habits can change depending on the industry, so it is important to consider how your audience interacts with your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: If you are are sending email campaigns, consider your audience’s mobile consumption habits. Most emails are consumed on mobile devices (see below). Create all your content that you are promoting via your email or social media channels to be mobile friendly.


Image via:


#6 – Geotargeting on your mobile app

If you have a larger audience that uses your mobile app, you might want to consider geotargeting the users when they are close to a storefront, event, or at a specific location. Geotargeting is a great way to encourage action from your audience when they are located in the right areas at the right time.

TopRank Marketing tip: Consider using different imagery and messaging for users in different locations when they are using your app or website. Also, consider sending notifications to mobile app users to entice action when they are at a physical location.


Mobile Content Creation

#1 – Consider the content length and types

Consider the length and type of content you are creating for your audience, both on mobile and desktop. As we already covered, there typically is a difference in search intent for users on mobile devices compared to desktop computers. With that in mind, you need to be customer-focused and analyze where your audience is within the funnel for your content assets.

TopRank Marketing tip: Develop audience personas to understand the way your audience searches online. Personas can be a powerful tool when creating content for your website.


#2 – Make sure to communicate the value quickly

It is important to communicate your value clearly and quickly to mobile users. Often, banners sometimes push the value proportion below the fold, which may increase the amount of bounces on the page and confuse users where they are on your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: Reduce the amount of unnecessary space or elements on your mobile device to only include what is needed. Less is often more when you are dealing with the limited amount of space on a mobile device.


#3 – App optimization

Mobile websites are a must for your online strategy, but apps can provide even a better user experience. Not all companies need to develop and create a mobile app, but for the ones that do, you need to optimize those experiences. Apps should be tailored to solving the user’s problem or creating an unique experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Optimize your app for the user experience to solve your audience’s problem. After you create your app, make sure you optimize your App store listing to increase your visibility on other channels.


#4 – QR codes

QR codes are another solid tactic to add to the dedicated mobile experience. When used correctly, you can push users directly to a location easily with QR codes on psychical flyers or other traditional marketing materials.

TopRank Marketing tip: Test using QR codes on physical marketing materials to push people to a section online with their mobile phones that offers an experience dedicated to them.


#5 – SMS messaging

SMS messaging is a way to help you get in front of more of your audience via messaging apps. SMS messaging can be a powerful tool to send notifications to your audience that opted in to encourage specific actions or enhance customer experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your messages personal to help encourage action. Also, make sure to include a clear CTA within the message to see the most value out of your campaign.


Mobile Conversions

#1 – Manually audit your layout on your responsive design

Your site might not be mobile friendly even though it might have a responsive design. A responsive site is typically better than a non-mobile site but sometimes issues can still arise. Some issues we typically see are videos not formatted to the correct screen size, the layout pushes the content below the fold, or the font size is too small.

There could be a vast majority of other issues with a responsive design, so make sure you optimize the layout of each page type.

TopRank Marketing tip: Look at what screen size is being utilized the most on your website within Google Analytics. Navigate in your Google Analytics dashboard to go to Audience ? Mobile ? Overview ? Screen Size to quickly analyze what screen size to optimize for first.


#2 – Consider your thumb reach

Make sure you consider the thumb reach to encourage action on your mobile design. Making your users reach and work out their thumb can create friction and a low-quality user experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your CTAs within a thumbs reach to improve conversions. Also, consider using sticky headers to help mobile users navigate quickly through your site.


#3 – Site speed

Site speed has become more important as a ranking factor for search engines, and rightly so. A fast loading site helps provide a solid user experience and can help increase the crawl rate of the site by search engines. All marketers should be focusing on site speed as a priority item. Below are some tools to test your site speed:

TopRank Marketing tip: Test your mobile site with multiple different tools to get a holistic view on site speed aspects. Prioritize the site speed items to get the most ROI from the work instead of optimizing for every site speed item.


#4 – Image optimization

Similarly to site speed, optimizing images will help site speed and user experience. A responsive site often uses the same image that is not probably sized for each device screen.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use different image sizes that can be used at different viewports to pull in images that are the correct size for the device.


#5 – Form Optimization

Congratulations! Someone has decided to start filling out a form on your site. That is a great goal to accomplish, but nothing is more disappointing than losing that user after they choose to abandon the form. Optimizing your forms for mobile users is a great way to increase conversions.

TopRank Marketing tip: Adjust the type of the keyboard for mobile users to use the right one for the form fields. For example, use the keyword field to show numbers for phone number fields and a different keyboard for email fields.


Your Optimized Mobile Experience

Above are some actionable tactics that you might want to optimize for your mobile website. There are even more areas and opportunities to optimize on your mobile website than listed above. If you’d like to find out if your website passes the mobile test, contact us today to receive a mobile optimization audit.

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Influencer Marketing and The Mighty Impact of Chocolate Chip Cookies

Guest post by Mark Schaefer in celebration of his new book, Known.

For the past two years I’ve been obsessed with answering a single question: Can anybody become known in the world today?

Why would I be obsessed with something like that? Because I’ve come to realize that so many of our professional and personal goals have become tied to this idea. What about you? What do you want to do next in your life?

Do you dream of writing a book or beginning a speaking career?

Do you want to be recognized as a thought leader or influencer in your industry?

Do you want more doors to open on sales calls?

Do you want to receive an invitation for a board or university appointment?

As my friends talked to me about dreams like these, I realized I kept saying, “Well, to achieve that, you have to become known in your industry.” But how? Can anybody do it?

I’ve been on a journey to find out. I’ve done research, read everything I could get my hands on, and interviewed about 100 people who are “known” in their fields.

I should clarify that being known is not the same as being famous. It’s not about having millions of fans and red carpet appearances. Being known is about approaching your web presence with an intent that creates the proper authority, reputation, and audience to realize your potential and achieve your goals … whatever they might be.

I talked to people who are regarded as thought leaders in education, real estate, retail, construction, business, medicine, finance, fashion, music, art, and many more. I talked to people in Africa, Asia, Brazil, Canada, Australia, America, Mexico, Europe, and the Middle East. And I’ve written a new book about this called KNOWN.

This is what I found. Every person, in every field, in every country did exactly the same four things to become known:

  • They found a distinctive sustainable interest (which is different from a “passion”).
  • They found an un-contested space to publish content.
  • The created excellent content consistently, for years.
  • They worked tirelessly to nurture an audience big enough to matter.

One of the things I learned is that the road to becoming known is a long one. These people worked hard for two years or more before they started to realize their goals. Well, most of them did. There were a few exceptions. The people who were on the fast-track to becoming known effectively developed relationships with influencers who could help them connect, amplify their work and build an actionable audience.

For example, Aaron Lee, a blogger who lives on a peninsula in Malaysia built meaningful connections with influencers by finding problems he could solve for them and providing free content. Within just one year he transformed himself from unemployed marketer to a recognized fashion blogger.

Shawn Van Dyke had a struggling construction business and a ton of medical bills to pay. He rocketed to fame in his industry by providing free consulting advice to industry leaders. In about a year, he was already being invited to speak at national conferences and had built a rapidly-growing online business.

And Sarah Mason? Well, she won the heart of at least one influencer with cookies.

A few years ago, Sarah commented on one of my blog posts and told me she was struggling with a question. I noticed that she was showing up on my blog frequently and was trying to make an authentic attempt to connect with me. Rather than answer her in a reply comment, I thought it would be more effective to call her and help her through the complex issue in person. By having a constant presence on my blog and by sharing my content, Sarah had earned my attention. She was working to turn a weak relational link – typical of social media connections – into a real business relationship.

Through our phone discussion, I learned we had similar interests and marketing viewpoints. I also admired the work she was doing on her website. I suggested to her that there could be ways we could work together in the future.

A few days after our call, I received a package in the mail with homemade chocolate chip cookies as a “thank you” for my help. I was so moved by this thoughtful gesture that I provided her with a few small design jobs, and then bigger jobs, and oh yes … Sarah is the person who designed the interior and cover of my new book! That’s the mighty, mighty power of the cookie.

Over the years Sarah and I have collaborated in countless ways. She has become a great collaborator and friend and I have helped her attract new business from connections all over the world.

None of these success stories started with a “pitch.” Influencers are caring, feeling people, not “targets.” Connect to them as friends, be patient. As Shawn Van Dyke told me, “serve your audience with arms wide open, not a hand outstretched.”

Effective influence marketing is not just a personal branding shortcut, it’s an indispensable marketing strategy for many companies today. But whether you’re working for a corporate titan or you dream of being the next YouTube star, influence marketing begins with the human touch – kindness, generosity … and even home-made cookies.

Mark Schaefer is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and has written six books including KNOWN. There is also a workbook that accompanies KNOWN with the exercises and bonus content. Both are available through Amazon.

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