10 Infographics to Guide Your Content Marketing Strategy

Your brain can identify and retain details of an image in 13 milliseconds. That’s less than a 20th of the time it takes to blink your eyes. So it’s no surprise that visual content is on the rise as attention spans shrink. If you could choose between a consumer spending 20 seconds with a wall of text or 20 seconds with an image, it makes sense to go with the latter.

In other words, people like looking at stuff. As such, infographics are rapidly becoming an essential component of a solid content marketing strategy. Free tools like Canva and Pixlr make it easier than ever to turn your data into compelling visual content.

The best infographics give equal weight to both parts of the word – they combine essential info with stellar graphic design. I could write a whole blog post about how great infographics can be. But, of course, that would defeat the purpose.

Instead, let’s look at ten great infographics with a meta twist: They’re content marketing assets about content marketing! These examples can inspire your own infographic creation while they inform your strategy.

#1: How to Socialize a Blog Post

Creating great content is less than half the battle for marketers. You should spend roughly 20% of your effort creating, and 80% in promotion. What good is awesome content if no one sees it? This colorful gem from DigitalMarketer efficiently illustrates how to make sure your content reaches your target audience. You’ll learn how to create assets that help promote the piece, make your shares trackable, and analyze your results to do it even better next time.

#2: The Top 8 B2B Customer Marketing Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

This piece from Digital Marketing Philippines (via the good folks at HubSpot) really puts the “info” in “infographic.” It’s a good example of just how much data you can pack into a visual asset while still keeping it easily-digestible. The bright colors, solid organization, and statistic call-outs grab attention, while the text provides plenty of value to keep people reading.

#3: What Does It Take to Make a Piece of Content?

Dive into this cool blue infographic for an insider look at how content powerhouse Contently goes from strategy to creation to distribution. This piece is a great counter-example to the design-heavy look of the previous entry on the list. It relies on simple line art to create a cooking metaphor that provides visual interest without overpowering the text. A soupcon of highlighted statistics help make the case for the solid advice they’re presenting.

#4:  The Ultimate Content Marketing Strategy

There are plenty of resources out there that explain the “Big Rock” content marketing strategy, but this Curata infographic gets points for thoroughness and nifty graphical interest. Learn how to create a gated asset, slice it into top-of-funnel ungated content that feeds back to the gated asset, then dice it into even smaller gems to share on social media. One nifty trick to steal for your next long infographic: The progress bar at the top that shows exactly how far you’ve read and how far you have left to go.

#5: A Brief History of Content Marketing

Who better to give a primer on the 200+ year history of content marketing than the Godfather himself, Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute? This timeline serves as a reminder that quality content can help build a business, from John Deere’s The Furrow to the Michelin Guide to the Will It Blend? Videos. Wrapped in Joe’s signature orange, this bite-sized history lesson is well worth a read.

#6: 10 Visual Marketing Statistics for 2017

This infographic collects results from a Venngage survey of over 300 digital marketers. It’s a great resource for seeing how the industry is moving toward visual content, and what types of visual content are leading the pack. Compare your progress to the results here, or use it to inspire your strategy, or just enjoy the pink-and-purple visuals.

#7: The Ins & Outs of Awesome Infographics

Fans of marketing, infographics, and pentagons will enjoy this groovy piece from IBM. The simple, clean design work complements the solid advice on offer about how to create memorable visual content. Learn how to choose the right visuals for your data, pick the right layout, and avoid common mistakes.

#8: What Buyers Really Want from Content Marketers

The team at Uberflip demonstrates a lesson well worth learning in this piece: Not every infographic has to be six screens tall. They manage to pack a wealth of data into a fairly small space, distilling the message into something that gets the value across without spraining your scrolling finger. Find out what buyers want marketers to do, and not do, to create content that really resonates.

#9: The Importance of Visual Content

You don’t have to have a team of researchers and designers to create a solid infographic. This piece from kwikturn media is a good example of doing more with less. It’s essentially a stats blog post, compiled from sources around the internet. Add some thoughtful but simple clip art, a slate background, and it’s far more interesting than a text list would be.

#10: The Secret to Creating Scalable, Quality Content and Better CX

Static infographics have more visual interest than text does. But you can take it a step further with an animated, interactive infographic. Some people call these “gifographics.” Those people are wrong. But whatever you call them, they’re undeniably cool. We created this interactive piece on the Ceros platform.

Infographics are an indispensable part of a modern content marketing strategy. Use them to highlight data points from your gated content, replace a list-based blog post, or just to brighten up a how-to post. Just keep the design simple and clean, and the text informative and valuable.

Seen any cool infographics lately? Let me know in the comments.

And if you need help creating your own infographics, check out our content marketing services.


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Report: Social Media Examiner 2017 State of Social Media Marketing

The past 12 months have been big for social media marketers. Each social platform has seen significant changes or upgrades creating opportunity, and adding complexity for many marketers.

Facebook introduced live video, Twitter made it easier to fit your message in 140 characters, Snapchat added collaboration features and Pinterest added promoted video.

The question on many marketers minds is:  what has truly changed in the way that B2B and B2C marketers approach social media marketing? The new Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner takes a deep dive into the current state of social media on a granular level.

But how does social media marketing effort and success differ between B2B and B2C brands? Find out below.

Both B2B & B2C Marketers Struggle with Social Media Measurement

According to the study, only 38% of marketers believe that they are able to measure their social activities. This is a decline from 2016 and 2015. Additionally, only 34% of marketers believe that their Facebook marketing is effective.

Varying Benefits of Social Media Marketing

What’s working? Well for most B2B and B2C brands, increased exposure and increased traffic rank high on the list. However, when it comes to developing loyal fans, that’s where the numbers start to differ.

72% of B2C marketers versus 64% of B2B marketers were able to develop a loyal fan base through social media marketing.

However, 64% of B2B marketers versus 54% of B2C marketers were able to gain thought leadership through social media marketing.

Top Used Social Media Marketing Platforms

It’s no surprise that the largest social networking platform in the world is the top used platform for both B2B and B2C marketers. Since 2016, Facebook usage increased 1% while Twitter usage declined 8%.

Overall, B2B marketers are investing more in platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest while B2B marketers focus on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

In past years, LinkedIn was the top contender for B2B brands but has since taken second place to LinkedIn (43% versus 37%)

 

Facebook Rules Paid Social Media

 

When it comes to paid social, Facebook is the clear frontrunner. The majority (93%) of marketers use Facebook ads, up 6% from 2016.

B2C marketers are using Facebook ads slightly more than their B2B counterparts (95% to 87%) but it’s close! However, the gap begins to widen when you begin assessing paid social ad usage on LinkedIn. While 29% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn ads, only 10% of B2C marketers invest on the platform.

Are Marketers Really Using Snapchat?

It’s no secret that Snapchat usage has soared over the past year. With over 161 million daily users, it’s clear that consumers (especially millennials) have taken to the platform.

In the next year, 23% of marketers plan on increasing their Snapchat activities to meet that demand. However, only 8% of marketers have actually increased their posting frequency in the past 12 months.

Common Content Types

The type of content that social media marketers post has seen a significant change in the past year. While visual images and blogging reign supreme, live video has made a jump from 28% from 14% in just one year.

The study also found that B2B marketers are more likely to use blogging than B2C marketers (75% versus 61%) and B2C marketers are more likely to use video (30% versus 24%).

What Does the Future Hold for B2B & B2C Marketers?

In some ways, B2B and B2C marketers are on-pace. In others, their approaches are wildly different. As the market becomes more saturated and it becomes harder and harder for brands to stand out, what steps should social media marketers take to catch the attention of their audience?

If you’d like to read the full report, visit Social Media Examiner.

 


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Master LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Forms in 10 Easy Steps

[Editor’s Note: This is the first post from one of the newer members of our team, Emily Hinderaker. Emily joined TopRank Marketing earlier this year as a Marketing Copywriter.]

The one item that marketers crave above everything else is information about their prospects. Often, there is even a dollar amount assigned to gaining access to a name, email or phone number. In a time where this information is highly coveted, what is one thing marketers can do to make it easy for prospects to convert?

The answer, targeted, compelling, one-click conversions.

According to Stephen Slater, Digital Advertising Manager at TopRank Marketing here’s why:

Lead generation form ads encourage the impulse buy. With one click, you can gain access to prospect information in a way that required little time or effort on their end. The beauty of this approach for advertisers is that you can show your ads to the right audience and receive one click conversions.

Paid social presents a great opportunity for one-click conversions because you’re putting yourself where you audience is already spending time. And thanks to LinkedIn’s new Lead Generation Forms the opportunity just got a lot sweeter.

LinkedIn’s Lead Generation Forms allows advertisers to get even more high-quality leads by automatically filling in customized forms with accurate profile data. You can track campaign CPL, form fill rate, and even segment audience data by profession to get a better understanding of ad performance.

This new tool makes it easier for customers to engage, and saves time by pre-filling information. With this feature, you won’t lose leads due to an exhaustive form. Another benefit is that you also have the ability to download your leads and integrate with your marketing automation or CRM software for more organized, accurate and documented lead information.

Here’s a quick video from LinkedIn showcasing the features of this tool:

If you’re ready to get started, we’ve included a helpful ten step guide below to help you create your own Lead Generation Form ad.

#1 – Choose The Ad Type

Depending on your business objectives, you will want to select the ad type that will help you meet your goals. Advertisers can select Sponsored Content, Text Ads or Sponsored InMail for their ads.

#2 – Select Your Language & Preferences

Enter a campaign name that’s relevant for the campaign and then select the language of your content and what you’d like to happen after someone clicks your ad. Then click “Next >” to proceed with the Lead Generation Forms.

 

#3 – Choose Update(s) You’d Like to Sponsor

There are a couple options to get started. Option one is to select existing content that will appear as “Sponsored Content” and will be shown in newsfeeds.  or create a new post to promote. The second option is to choose “Direct Sponsored Content”, which will send customized messages to your audience segments (you’ll need Company Page Admin permission).

 

#4 – Create New Form Template

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a form template that describes your offer. Simply enter your offer headline and offer deal. Take the time to ensure that your headline and offer are compelling and speak to the needs of your target audience.

#5 – Identify What User Information You Want

Depending on what information your team has determined is most beneficial for your campaign, select up to seven pieces of data you’d like to collect from each prospect.

 

#6 – Create A Customized Thank You Message

You can also determine what message your prospects see after submitting their form. This is a great opportunity to redirect the user to your company website for more information.

#7 – Define the Call-To-Action

Depending on your goal, you may want a prospect to sign up, download or request more information. Make sure that your CTA properly aligns with your ad message.

#8 – Choose Audience Targeting

In order for an ad on LinkedIn to be effective, you must target your audience appropriately based on your message. You can select everything from locations and industries to specific job titles and even fields of study or skills.

 

#9 – Choose Your Budget and Start Date

You can choose to either pay when someone clicks on your ad, or pay based on the number of impressions. LinkedIn will also recommend a bidding strategy based on what other advertisers are doing. Typically, it will be best to start out by using LinkedIn’s recommended bid but you should optimize once you see which ads are performing best.

#10 – Review & Optimize

Keep a close eye on the performance of your ads and form completion to identify what is working best, and which ads to pause. That way you can optimize ad performance to increase results.

Test LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Features

As you can see, LinkedIn’s new Lead Generation Forms offer a way to make it easier for targeted audiences to convert based on your offer. By removing a barrier, these one-click conversions can help fill your customer database and encourage participation from targeted audiences.

Interested in trying Lead Gen Forms? Click here to get started.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client. 


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Digital Marketing News: State of Content, Direct Ads on Twitter & Google Attribution

Content Marketing Stats: The State of Content Marketing in 2017 [Infographic] This infographic from our friends at MarketingProfs uncovers top content trends for B2B and B2C marketers in 2017. You’ll find insights on everything from top channels to budgeting and content goals.  (MarketingProfs)

Twitter is Offering Advertisers More Tools to Engage Consumers With Direct Messages
Twitter’s new Direct Message Cards that can include as many as four CTA buttons that will send users to specific content. The cards can also be used in organic tweets and are designed to encourage one-on-one conversations, making it easier for brands to connect with their audience. (AdWeek)

Hello Google Attribution, Goodbye Last-Click
Marketers around the world are rejoicing after the announcement of the new Google Attribution tool. While the tool is still in beta, marketers will soon be able to measure performance across devices and channels all in one place, for no additional cost. That means that marketers will soon have a better understanding of what marketing tactics are most effective at moving prospects through the customer journey. (Google Adwords Blog)

Introducing Location and Hashtag Stories on Explore
For users interested in what’s going on around them, Instagram now displays stories happening based on your location. Additionally, users can also search interest based hashtags to find groups of stories related to that specific topic. (Instagram Blog)

Snapchat Adds Collaborative Stories, Which Could Help Boost Exposure Through the App
Story collaboration on Snapchat just got a whole lot easier. Snapchat’s new custom stories features lets users invite other people to contribute to a story without having to host a takeover.  The stories will remain on the Stories page until no one has added for 24 hours, or the creator deletes it. (Social Media Today)

Bing Launches Bots for Local Businesses
Microsoft has started integrating chatbots into search results to make search more interactive. For now, this feature is only available to restaurants but Microsoft envisions rolling these bots out broadly in the future. The bots will answer common customer questions, be available across multiple channels and requires virtually no technical requirements from business owners.  (Search Engine Land)

Promoted Video Gets Even Better on Pinterest
Pinterest introduced promoted videos less than a year ago, and are already releasing three big enhancements. They have added an autoplay feature, better accessibility to video content (search and feeds) and improved reporting through a new partnership. (Pinterest Business Blog)

Google is Speeding Up Search Ads With AMP Technology
Google is speeding up AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) for search in two different ways: a new beta where advertisers can use AMP pages as landing pages and the entire Google Display Network is getting hit with AMP technology. (Search Engine Journal)

What Were Your Favorite News Stories This Week?

Thanks for watching and reading our weekly news roundup. Please feel free to share your favorite stories of the week in the comments below or send us a message on Twitter to @toprank.


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How to Inspire Your B2B Audience with Killer Content Marketing

B2B content marketers: It’s time to get over our inferiority complex.

Yes, the B2C folks are over there marketing cool stuff like basketball shoes and energy drinks, while we’re stuck with cloud software solutions and medical imaging machinery.

Yes, we’re marketing to business professionals on a buying committee that has to commit to million-dollar deals. Which would buy a lot of basketball shoes and energy drinks.

But that does not mean B2C has more fun. It doesn’t mean B2B is boring. It doesn’t mean we have to play it safe.

Can B2B content be as compelling, as emotional, as vibrant—let’s face it—as cool as B2C?

As we say in Minnesota, yabetcha.

Not only can our content be all these things, it should be. We’re not marketing to robotic cogs in a corporate machine. We’re trying to have a conversation with actual human beings.

Make sure you’re a worthy conversational partner by following these tips:

#1: Don’t Skimp on Personality

It’s hard to create truly dynamic content when you’re stuck behind a brand façade. Corporations may or may not be people, but content that looks like it was written by committee rarely has that human spark.

Your content should bring out the people behind the brand. Don’t leave authenticity and transparency in your mission statement; show it in what you write. One of my favorite marketers for showing personality is Buffer’s Kevan Lee. Kevan isn’t afraid to show the whole gamut of human emotion on the Buffer blog, from taking pride in accomplishments to acknowledging failure. His post, We’ve Lost Nearly Half Our Social Referral Traffic in the Last 12 Months, is brutally honest but optimistic at the same time. Kevan pulls no punches in describing how Buffer’s traffic has fallen off, admitting he’s not sure why, and offering readers a chance to follow along as he learns.

A post like that not only helps build rapport, it’s valuable to every member of Kevan’s audience that is experiencing a similar dropoff. The result of Kevan’s unfiltered sharing? 3.8 thousand shares and over 418 comments on just that one post. It’s powerful stuff.

#2: Bring Your Data to Life

Most marketers are familiar with Volvo Trucks’ “Split” commercial. It’s the one that features aging action star Jean-Claude Van Damme showing off his superpowers:

What’s often overlooked is that this video is B2B marketing. Volvo Trucks sells big rigs to businesses. That’s what this video is all about. While those not in the target audience see a cool stunt, truck drivers see amazing precision in handling, even while the trucks are in reverse.

Not only that, the commercial is an effective piece of B2B content marketing. After the ad aired, Volvo conducted a survey of 2,200 commercial truck owners. Half of those who saw the video said they were more likely to choose Volvo. A third had already visited the website or even contacted a dealer after watching the video.

B2B marketing relies heavily on data, much moreso than B2C. Tell a story with that data—give it tension and drama—and you’re more likely to persuade your buyer.

#3: Cut the Buzzwords

“Our cloud solutions actualize the potential of enterprise-level businesses to utilize resources and leverage best practices to ladder up their revenue.”

Is it just me, or is the previous sentence like being beaten to death with a damp sponge? What is it about corporate writing that makes people use words they ordinarily wouldn’t go near?

This concept is an extension of the “show your personality” mandate. Unless you go about your daily life talking like an instruction manual crossed with a thesaurus, drop the corporate-speak. And if you do talk like that in your daily life, seek help. Your friends and family will thank you.

On the minus side, if you start talking like people, you won’t sound like every other corporation. On the plus side…you won’t sound like every other corporation.

#4: Consider the Rest of Your Buyer’s Workday

What does your buyer think about when they’re not thinking about you? Most B2B content tends to focus on the narrow intersection between the buyer’s problem and the brand’s solution. That’s great for bottom-of-funnel content. But what are you doing to help your buyer the rest of the workday? How are you equipping them for success?

Some would say anything outside of the problem/solution framework is irrelevant. But it’s all relevant. The person you’re selling to has professional needs that go beyond your solution—help them advance their career and—again I say—yabetcha that will make a difference when the buying committee convenes.

HubSpot is a B2B outfit that has 100% internalized this idea. You will find plenty of marketing advice on their blog, but also posts on leadership techniques, mood improvement, and more.

#5: Take a Stand

So you’re committed to showing personality and talking like a human. The next big step is to bring a point of view to your content. Let your audience know what you stand for and fight against. Take sides. Stir up a little controversy, if it needs to be stirred.

Some brands steer clear of taking any kind of stand because they fear alienating potential buyers. Part of identifying your audience, however, is identifying who is not in your audience. The people who might be turned off by your brand expressing values, sharing a vision, or leading a discussion are people who were never potential buyers in the first place. Get opinionated and you can rally the people who matter to your brand and bottom line.

One of my favorite B2B marketers, Jason Miller, exemplifies this idea. He’s not afraid to counter the conventional marketing wisdom, or call out lack of diversity in the industry. This willingness to take a stand has helped make Jason a thought leader and helped bring readers to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions brand.

#6: Be a Mirror, Not a TV

Would you rather be a talking head delivering a monologue to your customer? Or would you rather reflect who they are, what they value, and then show how your solution can help? Let’s make the question even easier: Which do you think your customers prefer?

Your audience should be able to see themselves in your content. That means writing with extraordinary empathy. Or, better still, that means showcasing their stories whenever you can. My favorite B2B example of this is HSBC’s “The Elevator.” The bank wanted to show they understood small business owners and were committed to helping them succeed.

So they created a web-based reality show with entrepreneurs from around the UK. HSBC provided business coaching for each contestant and awarded a cash prize to the winner. But the series wasn’t just about creating a compelling drama—every video showcased exactly the kind of customer HSBC was trying to reach. The result was an estimated £9 million in revenue from leads generated by the campaign.

No More B2C Envy

It’s time to step out of the shadow of our B2C colleagues. You have my permission to make your marketing every bit as personal, emotional, unique, and dynamic as the best B2C campaigns. Regardless of your vertical, good marketing is good marketing, and every target audience is made of—gasp—people.

Does marketing person-to-person get better results than marketing business-to-buyer?

Yabetcha.

Need help creating awesome B2B content? Explore our content marketing services.


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CMWorld In-Flight Content Guide: Creating a Memorable Content Experience

Today’s modern customer is OBSESSED with experience. Everything from the ability to quickly order an Uber through a mobile app to spending hard-earned money on trips and adventures, not your typical investments.

The customer expectations for content marketing experiences are no different. In fact, a recent study by  Kampyle found that 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience.

So now that you’ve prepped for your content marketing journey by diving into our first eBook, In-Flight Content Guide: Prepping for Your Content Marketing Expedition, it’s time to create a great experience.

To help set you down the path to creating a great “in-flight”content  experience for your customers, TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute have partnered to bring you yet another go-to-guide from some of the brilliant minds speaking at Content Marketing World in September.

Feel free to get up and stretch your legs as we expect a smooth flight ahead. Then buckle up and get ready for our second of three eBooks titled: In-flight Content Guide: Creating a Memorable Content Experience where our content crew shares their top tips for creating a great content experience.

Share Insights From Our Content Crew Members

If you’d like to share tips from your favorite crew members, simply click below to tweet!


Slow your publishing process to ensure content is as valuable as it could be. @marketingprofs
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A great experience starts with disrupting expectations. @CarlaJohnson
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Spend time with people in your target audience to make better content experiences @dougkessler
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Uncover audience questions and use them in content to improve site rankings. @wilreynolds
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A great content experience starts with a story. @BrennerMichael
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Visual communication helps create great content experiences for your audience. @scottberinato
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Content can be found anywhere, but good content is read. @JillianHillard
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Before you create content, write down the problem you are solving for them (Purpose). @jaybaer
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Make the audience the hero of the story you’re telling. @ardath421
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In content creation, when you share ‘what to do’, think also about ‘how to do’. @IanCleary
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Create interactive content to get your audience directly engaged. @HeinzMarketing
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Ask your audience what type of content is most helpful to create great experiences. @ahaval
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What’s Next?

Keep your eyes peeled for the next eBook in our series, the In-Flight Content Guide: Making the Most of Your Content Journey.  

If you’re not attending Content Marketing World this year, don’t worry! You can still follow along and participate in conversations via Twitter by using the hashtag #CMWorld, by following CMI on Twitter or by subscribing to our blog.


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8 Fundamental Elements of a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media is a staple marketing tactic for nearly every business, helping brands build awareness, share and interact with customers and prospects, and create important touch points in the changing customer journey.

However, both green and seasoned marketers are still trying to nail down what a successful social media marketing strategy looks like. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2016 industry report, 90% of marketers say social media is important to their business. However, just 41% say they’re able to measure the ROI of their social activities.

As any successful marketer will tell you, the road to success begins by physically documenting your strategy. As for what needs to be included, below you’ll find some essential elements to consider.

#1 – Your brand’s value proposition.

The first step in building a successful social media marketing strategy is defining the value your brand brings to your social media audiences. Why? Because if you can’t define the value, you certainly won’t be able to show any value.

Ask yourself: Why would someone follow or engage with me on social? What do I want my followers to know about my brand? What value can I bring to my audience through content and engagement on social? Then craft a simple mission statement of sorts, and use that to help guide the rest of your strategy development.


If you can’t define the value, you certainly won’t be able to show any value. #socialmediamarketing
Click To Tweet


#2 – Your objectives.

Simply put, there can be no strategy if there’s no end goal. Your objectives are the foundation of your strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next.

Use the goals outlined in your overall digital marketing strategy as a starting point. This will allow you create social-specific goals that help contribute to the larger marketing mission. Whether you want to increase your number of followers, boost referral traffic to your website, foster engagement or drive more conversions, set goals that can be measured. In addition, consider setting benchmark goals so you can gauge the success of your efforts as you go and make improvements as needed.

#3 – Your defined audience.

The success of your social media marketing efforts hinges on your ability to empathize and connect with your target audience. As a result, you need to understand their motivations, pain points, and content interests and needs.

Dig into website and social platform analytics, and talk with your sales team to uncover key customer insights and characteristics. Then use what you find to develop a customer persona—which is a general representation of who your target customer/follower is.


Your success hinges on your ability to empathize & connect w/ your audience. #socialmedia
Click To Tweet


#4 – Your channel mix.

Each social media platform offers a little something unique. As a result, many marketers may be tempted to design strategy that includes a presence on every platform. But—as with most things in the digital marketing world—quality over quantity is definitely a good rule of thumb.

While you’re compiling audience research to create your personas, find out what channels are driving the most website traffic and on-page engagement (i.e. time on page or pages per visit), and inciting the most engagement on the platform itself (i.e. comments, likes and shares). In addition, do some competitive research to learn where your fiercest competitors are spending their time on social media and the type of engagement they’re getting. This research will allow you get a look at your internal and competitive landscape, and help you prioritize and triage your efforts.

Finally, look back at the objectives you outlined to determine which platforms are best suited for helping you reach those goals. For example, if one of your social media marketing goals is to attract or recruit new talent, a visual platform like Instagram is the perfect place to show off your company’s amazing workplace culture. On the other hand, if your goal is fostering engagement through discussion, Facebook may be a must-have platform within your mix.

#5 – Your content mix.

In today’s social media landscape, simply sharing links to your company website or blog with a bit of text will not drive your objectives. Your followers want and expect more from you.

Use all the aforementioned elements to guide the creation of a content plan that includes the appropriate mix of images, videos, links and discussion starters tailored to each platform.

#6 – Your posting and engagement schedule.

Maintaining a consistent presence on your social channels is vital to the success of your marketing efforts. If you disappear for long periods of time, it’s easy for your audience to forget about you—and can prove more difficult to build engagement back up. Similarly, over-posting can be an annoyance, and cause your audience to turn away. So, your ultimate goal is to be a regular fixture in news feeds, but not overwhelm your audience.

Develop a daily, weekly or monthly plan or schedule that details:

  • Who is responsible for posting or monitoring your social media feeds
  • When the content is being shared (i.e. dates and times)
  • Where the content is being shared (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • What content is being shared (i.e. website link, curated content, image, video, etc.)
  • How you’ll be sharing content (i.e. live tweeting at an event; native vs. using a social media management tool to schedule in advance)

Maintaining a consistent presence on your channels is vital to success. #socialmediamarketing
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#7 – Your method of measurement and data analysis.

Measurement and data analysis are vital to any strategic initiative, providing you with the insights you need to continually refine your approach and ultimately prove ROI.

Outline the specific analytics tools and metrics you’ll use to gauge success—both on (native engagement) and off (your website) social platforms. For example, if one of your goals is to drive more website traffic through social channels, Google Analytics or your preferred analytics platform will be a critical tool to include. As for measurement, some of the metrics you’ll want to look at include time on page, number of pages per visit and assisted conversions.

#8 – Authenticity.

If you want to achieve social media success, the importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. The beauty of social media is that you have the opportunity to show your audience who you are, not just what you sell.

Develop a brand voice that brings a human element and some personality to your social media pages. Lose the jargon or sales pitch, and talk to people on their level.


The importance of authenticity cannot be overstated. #socialmediamarketing
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Resources to Jumpstart Your Social Media Marketing Success

If you’re looking for a few more resources to get your social media marketing strategy on-track, take a gander at some of these other helpful posts:

What is your biggest social media challenge? Tell us in the comments section below.


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8 Fundamental Elements of a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy | http://www.toprankblog.com

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The Secret to Creating Scalable, Quality Content and Better CX – Infographic

Content Experience Influence

A woman walks into a retail store and looks around, not finding what she’s there for. She approaches a sales associate and asks, “Excuse me, can you show me where the top of the funnel is? I need to be confronted by every touchpoint of your predetermined sales process before I can purchase something”.

Not one of your customers is doing this.

So why do brands continue to drive content marketing programs based on a linear, sequential buying journey? With so many consumers numb to brand messaging and increasingly blocking advertising, how can marketers do a better job of connecting with and engaging customers with content?

One of the first admissions recovering funnel marketers need to make is that the funnel is dead. The customer buying experience is more like a tangled mix of omnidirectional customer journeys driven by myriad factors, many of which brands no longer have control over. Considering all of those possible influences can be overwhelming, especially when expectations of content performance are higher than ever.

The good news is that content marketers can achieve quality content at scale while creating much better experiences for customers with that content by making influencer collaboration part of the strategy.

Content drives all aspects of the customer journey from discovering content to education and inspiration to taking action. There are many influences when it comes to customers and content including other people who are influential.

In fact, there are some very important trends happening in the influencer marketing world that were surfaced in our research with influencer relationship platform, Traackr. What is working, what is not? What are the differences between B2B and B2C? How are companies budgeting and what are the best practices and case studies to learn from?

For a preview of these top Influencer Marketing trends and more, be sure to see this excellent interactive infographic created by our friends at the interactive content marketing platform Ceros of the Influence 2.0 Report by Brian Solis (in partnership with Traackr and my agency, TopRank Marketing).

Lucky 13 considerations for an integrated approach to influencer generated content:

1. Thinking about customer insight as it relates to information discovery, consumption and acton through the lens of influence opens up some very interesting doors of opportunity. In fact, when marketers integrate influencer marketing at the content marketing strategy level, it becomes a compelling and long term opportunity that most overlook.

2. For example, consider content discovery: A study by Augure reports that 93% of marketers implementing influencer marketing say it is effective to build brand awareness. And Burst Media reports that marketers are getting nearly a 10 to 1 return on earned media value from working with influencers on content.

3. Why hire a PR firm for media relations when you could work with influencers to create editorial placements that get ten times the reach?  Actually, I think “working with PR” should be an “also” not an “instead of”. Media Relations and advertising investments with influencer content is a winning combination, not an either/or.

4. Content is King and customers are everything else. When it comes to content engagement, you have to decide what kind of content your customers prefer with considerations for topics, format, length, media type and even what devices they use.

5. Influencers lead and buyers follow. In his research, Dr. Jonah Berger of the Wharton School, reports that 82% of consumers follow expert recommendations. Twitter reports that 49% of consumers rely on influencers for product suggestions. Those are compelling stats relevant to how brands can work with influencers that can guide the kind of content to engage your customers in more effective ways.

6. Build it and they will come doesn’t work and neither does build and promoted the heck out of it and they will buy. It might, but there are no guarantees. According to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, marketers are not overwhelmingly confident about the effectiveness of their content.

7. Content effectiveness goes up with influencer collaboration. Content Marketing Institute has reported a 10X boost in conversion rates when influencers are involved. Even more compelling is that influencer marketing was found to have 11X better annual ROI over traditional marketing, according to a study by Tapinfluence, White Wave and Nielsen.

8. What good is acquiring customers if they don’t stay customers? A study from McKinsey reports a 37% higher retention rate with customers acquired through influencer content.

9. The solution to better content discovery, engagement and action is the integration of content and working with influencers. The study that we partnered with Traackr and Brian Solis of Altimeter on agrees: 80% of marketers surveyed reported the area of business most impacted by working with influencers was content marketing.

10. This is why my definition of influencer marketing is focused on content:

“Influencer Marketing develops relationships with internal and industry experts with active networks to co-create content that helps drive measurable business goals.“

11. Funnel myth and the influencer warm up. With a relationship and content-focused approach to influencer marketing, customers aren’t looking for a mythical funnel as they visit their favorite online or neighborhood store. Instead, the business warms the buying journey with product recommendations from people that buyers already trust to make recommendations.

12. Pick and choose your influencers wisely. For some customers that might be a famous actor, athlete or champion of business. For other customers it might be a famous or niche social influencer. Discounting either famous or micro-influencers is to discount sources your customers actually trust.

13. It pays to dig in to better understand customers in terms of their content preferences including who influences them and about what, relative to your brand’s products and services. Instead of speculating about topics, keywords and stories, why not actually talk to your customers and find out: What triggers them to look for solutions? What is their pain? What questions do they have that your brand and influencer content can answer? Creating utility for buyers through brand and influencer generated content can be instrumental for creating more findable and meaningful content experiences.

How to jumpstart an influencer generated content program:

1 – Get expert help. Do you know who the top influencers are for your customers relevant to your industry? Do you already have relationships with those influencers? Does your competition?

Research the market, find out who your customers influencers are, big and small. Then make a plan that identifies how collaborating with those influencers on content can be tied to business goals..

2 – Invest in technology. Sure, you could use Twitter search or Followerwonk and a spreadsheet to create a list of influencers, but you could also bring a spatula to a gun fight – if you get what I mean.

Influencer marketing technology will help you intelligently identify, qualify, and engage with influencers as well as to manage communications and measure performance of your work together. There are highly useful, fundamental tools like BuzzSumo or specialty platforms like GroupHigh or Upfluence for bloggers, LittleBird for Twitter or more enterprise focused solutions like Traackr and Onalytica. There are also marketplaces like TapInfluence, Collective Bias or Linqia where you can “shop” for influencers to engage like advertising.

3 – Activate customers. Advocacy is powerful so you should start by activating those who are already expressing positive sentiment towards your brand and the things your brand and customers care about.

Benchmark the metrics you plan on affecting with influencer collaboration and start with those who are already advocate. That might mean people who follow your brand on social networks, employees and especially current customers. Invite advocate customers with reach, relevance and resonance amongst their communities to collaborate on content. Build out the processes that will make your content marketing more successful when you collaborate with trusted experts and people who have earned the trust of your potential customers.

If you would like to learn more about influencer generated content, best practices and how it can be integrated with your marketing strategy, be sure to check out our agency site, TopRank Marketing.

I’m also going to be speaking on content and influencer marketing topics at several upcoming conferences:

May 16, New York: ContentSEO
Content Marketing (R)evolution

June 2, Chicago: 2017 Masters of B2B Marketing
Influencer Marketing: Hype or Hope for B2B

June 19 London: Digital Marketing World Forum
Influence + Content = Digital Marketing Success in 2017

June 22 London: B2B Ignite
Influence: Mighty Hype or Great Hope for B2B

I hope to see you there!


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
The Secret to Creating Scalable, Quality Content and Better CX – Infographic | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Digital Marketing News: Mobile Marketing Facts, Augmented Reality on Snapchat and More Google Updates

104 Facts You Didn’t Know About #Mobile #Marketing (Infographic)
There’s a lot to know about mobile marketing. To help keep fellow marketers up to speed, this infographic shares 104 facts about mobile marketing including usage, commerce, advertising and email. Case in point: mobile marketing is a key player in all marketing strategies. Walkertecharts.com

Snapchat Releases Sponsored World Lenses, Which Allow Brands to Augment Reality
Snapchat is now bringing ads to the real word with Sponsored Lenses. This new feature builds on Snapchat’s world lenses, and brands like Warner Bros., Netflix and Dunkin’ Donuts are turning these 3D graphics into ads. What will they do next? Adweek

Google Can Now Remove AdSense Ads From Single Pages
Instead of ads being pulled from an entire site, Google’s AdSense policies will now only remove ads from specific pages containing AdSense violations. Also, if an ad gets removed, Google has a communication channel for that. Policy violations are clearly stated in a new Policy Center. Search Engine Journal

Paid Search Trends 2017 Q1
A recent report from iProspect looked at paid search trends for Q1 in 2017, and gathered together key findings and insights in this report. Overall, it’s been a costly quarter for advertisers and wild cards in the marketing mix can make all the difference between growth and depreciation. iProspect   

What Grade Do Marketers Give Their Personalization Efforts?
96% of marketers say personalization helps advance customer relationships in this survey conducted by Evergage. While most marketers give themselves an above-average grade, there is still plenty of room for improvement. MarketingProfs

How LinkedIn’s Latest Update Could Help Boost Your Exposure Through the Platform
The recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft is using third party online services to make your “public” profile more visible. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile recently, you may want to brush up. You never know who’s going to find you, thanks to this new update. Social Media Today

4 Charts on Marketing to Middle America
A new survey from Digiday captures important information for marketers about customers who have recently gotten a lot of attention due to the presidential election. Findings focus on values, search habits, online purchase habits and brand importance. Digiday

Facebook Now Pinpoints Individual Posts to Keep Clickbait Out of the News Feed
A change to the Facebook algorithm now distinguishes between headlines that withhold information and headlines that exaggerate the story. Honing in on specific individual posts, rather than entire websites, will help to eliminate clickbait that over-promises and under-delivers. Marketing Land

What were your top news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top online marketing news. Have something to add? Share your thoughts in the comments to Tweet to @toprank.

The post Digital Marketing News: Mobile Marketing Facts, Augmented Reality on Snapchat and More Google Updates appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Social Media Marketing Report: Does Your Engagement Measure Up?

If I had to sum up marketing’s relationship with social media in a single nerdy meme, it’d be this:

Yes, much as Obi-Wan Kenobi was dismayed to find that Anakin had turned to the dark side, many marketers feel betrayed by social media. Each platform offered the potential to build an audience and deliver content straight to their feeds. They were supposed to be a powerful tool for organic reach. But one by one, they fell to the dark side of the algorithm.

But don’t throw away your social media channels just yet. After all, if you strike them down, they will become more powerful (sorry, that’s the last Star Wars reference). Instead, let’s have a clear-eyed assessment of what organic engagement looks like on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and see where to go from here.

Rival IQ just released their 2017 Social Media Benchmarks Report, which analyzes engagement by industry on the top three social media channels. These benchmarks can help determine what the best next steps are to maximize your engagement and your reach.

#1: Instagram Leads in Engagement

More than any other platform, Instagram seems to be the place people go to engage with brands. Engagement rate per post averages out to 1.66%, the only platform with over 1% in engagement.

The amount of interaction per post varies widely by industry, however. Higher Ed leads the pack with 3.55%. Surprisingly, Health & Beauty trails behind, with just 1.14%. While Instagram has a reputation as a health, beauty, and fashion platform, none of these categories come close to Nonprofit and Higher Ed for engagement.

Instagram’s visual, mobile-first format is definitely driving more engagement. Video performs exceptionally well on the platform, too—see these examples from brands rocking Instagram video.

You may not think your industry or brand is suited to the format, but if GE and Dell can do it, so can you. It’s not about creating million-dollar visuals or movie-level video. Keep it low-fi, stay honest and authentic. Use Instagram to showcase the people behind your brand and take your audience behind-the-scenes. More importantly, use Instagram’s tools to edit your photos, just like the user base does.

#2: Facebook Has Bigger Audiences, Lower Engagement

Many companies have an exponentially larger audience on Facebook than they do on Instagram. For example, Dell has 287,000 followers on Instagram and 10 million Facebook followers. That increase in audience almost offsets the drop in engagement rate, which is a fraction of Instagram’s. Higher Ed leads with just .33% engagement, while Media lags at .12%. Yes, twelve tenths of a percent.

This benchmark confirms what our agency has been saying for a long time: Facebook should be considered a pay-to-play platform. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Facebook ads are relatively inexpensive, and their targeting options make it easy to reach new audiences.

You should still post organic posts on Facebook, but don’t count on the algorithm to help you with engagement. Use ads to boost posts that are already seeing at least a minimum of engagement—they’re the ones resonating with your audience. Put a little budget behind them and be precise with your targeting, and you can get results.

#3: Twitter is Becoming a Broadcast Platform

Is Twitter dying? Perhaps not, but it has developed a nasty cough. Our own Caitlin Burgess pondered what’s next for Twitter, and a lot of it depends on what the company does in the next year to get well again.

RivalIQ’s numbers are pretty dire: Food & Beverage leads in engagement with .069%, while Media takes the caboose spot with .015%. To put those numbers in easily-understandable terms, if your Twitter engagement was a blood alcohol percentage, you’d still be legal to drive.

These numbers might be indicative of Twitter’s failing vital signs, but I believe there’s a simpler answer. Twitter is a lousy forum for conversation. There’s a ton of content, it moves fast, and most people aren’t watching their feed 24/7. It is, however, a good forum for building relationships. Follow people you want to work with, share their content, and then start a private conversation.

Depending on your audience, it’s still worth investing in paid promotion on Twitter. If it works, keep doing it. But for the most part, think of Twitter as more a platform for broadcasting and building relationships with influencers.

When It Comes to Engagement, Quality Is Key

The most striking find in RivalIQ’s report is that there is virtually no correlation between post frequency and level of engagement. I would love to say there’s a perfect frequency or just-right time of day to post that guarantees you can beat the odds, but the data doesn’t back that up.

Think of it as a positive, though. You’re free from having to post on Twitter three times a day, Facebook 1.5 times, and so on. Now you can focus on quality and relevance over everything else. Even with engagement rates in the single digits—even when they’re below single digits—quality content is always the path to the light side of the social media world.

Need help with social media marketing? We can help. Dig into this delicious TopRank Marketing customer success story to see how we do it.


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Social Media Marketing Report: Does Your Engagement Measure Up? | http://www.toprankblog.com

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