Users Name Hootsuite A Top Rated Enterprise Social Media Management Platform on TrustRadius

We’re happy to announce today that Hootsuite was named a top rated Enterprise Social Media Management platform by users on TrustRadius, the leading peer review site for business software. In their reviews, users noted that our intuitive and easy-to-use platform allows organizations to manage social media activities across multiple locations and departments.

We take this as a clear sign of Hootsuite’s broad adoption amongst enterprise organizations. More than 1,700 enterprises currently use Hootsuite to streamline social media strategy across their company. These include Sony Music Entertainment, Adidas, eBay, Orange, Australia Post, AstraZeneca US, Levi Strauss & Co, FC Barcelona, Eurostar International, Oakley, ANZ Bank, and many others.

“We are honored to win this award, in particular, because it reflects Hootsuite’s mission to empower our customers to turn messages into meaningful relationships,” said Ryan Holmes, our CEO. “We are focused on building technology that reflects the continually evolving social media landscape and enables brands and consumers to take advantage and embrace social, allowing anyone to tap into its potential and revolutionize the way in which they communicate with their customers.”

Hootsuite is one of the 23 social media management platforms included in TrustRadius’ newest Buyer’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Management Software, a comprehensive tool to aid professionals in choosing the right products to fit their multi-faceted enterprise social media needs.

You can download a free copy of the report here: www.trustradius.com/guides/sm

View the Buyer’s Guide here

A big thanks to all of our valued Enterprise users and everyone that rated us so highly.

Looking for a number 1 position in Google. Of course you are. IT is easier than you think. KyleClouthier SEO is a Ottawa based company that specializes in helping businesses acheive top ranking to make the biggest ROI through search engine optimization. I know a good seo company in mumbai Seoyo which has done lot of wonders for businesses for gaining good rankings.

Can You Escape Penguin Simply by Getting Good Links?

Can you escape the grip of Google’s Penguin algorithm by getting enough good links? Recently, in a Webmaster Central Help Hangout, Google employee John Mueller made a statement that implied that this could be possible. He was asked about a hypothetical situation in which a website was negatively affected by Penguin, and then was able to obtain enough new good links so that the weight of the good links was greater than those of the bad. Could this website possibly recover from Penguin even if they didn’t disavow or remove the bad links?

Mueller said that the new links would “definitely help.” He said that Google’s algorithms take into account whether things are changing and heading in the right direction. He then said, “In the hypothetical situation of someone who doesn’t know about any of this [my note: doesn’t know their site is affected by Penguin and that they should be cleaning up their links] and they realized that they did something wrong in the past and they’re working to improve that in the future, then that’s something that our algorithms will pick up on and we’ll be able to use as well.”

In other words, if Penguin sees that the good signals start to outweigh the bad ones, then things can start to improve.

In fairness, Mueller did go on to say that anyone who has bad links should be using the disavow tool and not just relying on getting new links. But, it really did sound like he was saying that, in theory, Penguin issues can be made better if a site was able to attract new links.

In my opinion, escaping Penguin without doing a link cleanup would be a very uncommon scenario. I’d like to share with you two examples of sites that attracted a large number of natural links while under the grip of Penguin. As this is a small sample size, I am not setting out to prove anything definitively, but I do think that we can make some interesting observations by looking at these examples.

Example #1

The first site is a nationally recognized brand. They have a great product and people will often mention their product and link to their website. A few years ago, the company got involved in some link purchasing that got them into trouble when Penguin first came out in April of 2012. They stopped building their own links, but the site continued to get a good number of new links that were completely natural. You can see by looking at this analytics snapshot of their organic traffic, that things stayed pretty flat despite the new links that they were attracting. In fact, when Penguin hit again in May of 2013, they suffered more loss:

penguin-no-improvement

We started working with this company in the summer of 2013. We did an extensive link cleanup for them. Then, on October 4, 2013, we saw a nice improvement with the launch of Penguin 2.1:

penguin-recovery-oct-2013

This company has continued to see improvement since getting released from Penguin in October of 2013. While the gaining of new links probably helped their site to look better in the eyes of Penguin, I do not believe that these new links alone would have been recognized by Penguin had we not also done a thorough link cleanup.

Example #2:

This next example is a really neat story. The site owner, Karl, has given me permission to share about his struggle with Penguin. Karl’s site was hit heavily by Penguin in April of 2012. He did a very extensive link cleanup, but as with the previous example, Penguin suppressed his traffic so that he never seemed to be able to climb above what I call “The Penguin Ceiling”:

penguin-hits

In July of 2014, Karl suddenly saw a massive increase in traffic to his site. He thought that Penguin had refreshed and he had finally escaped. But, what really happened was that his business received some fantastic press. His company is a wholesale liquidator and he had received a shipment of misprinted mugs. The story is actually quite comical. The mugs were supposed to have the image of British Soccer player Chris Smalling on them, but mistakenly were printed with U. S. President Barack Obama’s photo! Oops!

This resulted in a flood of links to Karl’s site including followed links from the BBC, NBC, and the Globe and Mail. We worked with Karl to help him leverage the situation to get even more links. This, by the way, is a great way to get truly natural links: Do something worthy of press and then spread the word so that more and more people want to talk about your company!

Did these links help Karl? Check out the analytics. There was a spike in organic traffic, mostly for people searching for his business after reading about it in the press, and then, despite the fact that he had gained some great links, things went right back down to Penguin suppressed levels:

penguin-with-organic-spike

You would think that those new links would help. He did something good and people were naturally mentioning his website. But nothing happened…until Penguin 3.0 hit on October 17, 2014. At this point, Karl’s hard work in cleaning up links, combined with the benefit of the new good links finally paid off:

penguin3-recovery

He did not recover to pre-Penguin levels, but he was able to break free from the “Penguin ceiling” that suppressed him for so long. And since then, he has been able to gain ground, which is something that hasn’t happened since April of 2012.

Conclusions

Can we conclude from this data that getting new links is not enough to help a site recover from Penguin? Well no. But, I think that a case where a site could recover from Penguin without doing any link cleanup would be quite uncommon.

Did you know that some sites can be only mildly affected by Penguin? In these cases, an influx of new, natural links could possibly tip the scales enough so that the site escapes the Penguin filter. Many people believe that if Penguin affects a site, the only possible outcome is for Penguin to have a dramatic negative effect. But, some time ago, Matt Cutts tweeted to tell a site owner that he had a “very mild case of Penguin”:

matt-cutts-slight-case-penguin

Later on in the Twitter conversation, someone asked about their site and Cutts’ response was interesting:

matt-cutts-stronger-penguin

The two examples I wrote about in this article definitely had “strong cases” of Penguin. But, I do believe that a site with a very mild case of Penguin could possibly see improvement by gaining natural links even if they didn’t do a link cleanup. However, I don’t believe that this means that we should forgo link cleanup and just concentrate on getting new links. Link cleanup is vitally important to Penguin recovery. (By the way, if you are trying to decide whether to remove links or just disavow for Penguin recovery, you can read my thoughts here.

I also want to caution people that when I talk about getting new links I’m talking about getting truly natural mentions and not making your own links.

I do think that in the two examples I wrote about, the natural links that they earned played an important part in their ability to escape the Penguin filter. While I have seen sites who have been able to escape Penguin by just doing a link cleanup, it does appear that the most dramatic Penguin recoveries come from sites that, along with doing a thorough cleanup, have been able to demonstrate to Google that they do have quality content that people want to link to and mention.

In conclusion, I think that gaining new links is important when it comes to Penguin recovery. But, don’t use this as your ONLY recovery strategy. You cannot link-build your way out of Penguin!

Negative Keywords Geek Out: Proactive and Reactive Approach

In my recent post on SEW, “5 AdWords Optimization Checkpoints You May Be Missing,” I mentioned negative keywords as a critical checkpoint since they are not very visible in the AdWords interface. In fact, they are sometimes forgotten about.

Since negative keywords prevent ads from showing on irrelevant keywords, advertisers can save significant click spend and improve overall performance of an account by implementing a plan of attack.

One concern and case for a negative plan is that now, AdWords matches close variant queries with exact match and phrase match keywords, so they can be triggered by misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings, abbreviations, and accents.

Another good reason to be a big fan of negatives is the “other search terms” row. This data is not detailed out by individual query. It contains keywords not searched enough, those that did not receive clicks in 30 days, and searches in the past 24 hours (may be detailed after 24 in main list). As you can see in the example below, this advertiser paid $490 on “other,” or 14 percent of their total spend.

other-search-terms

In AdWords, advertisers can create negative keyword lists at the account level that can be applied to and/or shared among multiple campaigns. They can also be added at the campaign level directly or ad group level.

Organizing keywords into themes, rather than having individual one-off negative keywords applied at various levels in an account, will help to define a strategy, keep organized, and have an ongoing system to apply new negatives in a thoughtful way.

Start With Proactive Negative Lists

Proactive negatives are themes or groups the advertiser can anticipate triggering ads that are not appropriate, based on PPC management experience and experience in the industry. Coordination with the marketing strategy is important. Some approaches to consider include:

  1. Products the advertiser doesn’t sell or accessories such as batteries, manuals, parts, extended warranties.
  2. Close combinations like flat-panel TV rather than industrial equipment panels.
  3. Employment searches that contain terms like jobs, employment, internships, job openings, salary, application, etc.
  4. Negative situations associated with the product or service like accidents, repair, recall, etc.
  5. Terms inconsistent with product positioning such as cheap, free, discounts, hand-made, coupons.
  6. Content searches, when the advertiser does not offer content, such as stories, blog, book, examples.

Query Reports With Reactive Negatives

Once a keyword appears in the query report it has already triggered an ad. If it’s not relevant to the ad, and been clicked on, the advertiser just wasted that click cost.

  1. Review queries first for themes – some will fall into the subject matter of the themes in the proactive negatives. Add the individual keywords into the existing list.
  2. New themes will emerge. For example, consider an iPhone accessory seller who notices an influx of searches for a new iPhone screen replacement parts they do not sell. In this case, simply negative parts names they see in a “parts” list. Another example could be a health care software company that notices various queries for health insurance and open enrollment that are not relevant to their offering.
  3. Individual queries discovered should be prioritized by the cost or frequency, then added to the appropriate list.
  4. If there are many miscellaneous terms, consider creating a campaign list that holds these.
  5. Since lists can’t be applied to adgroups, consider how the negative term impacts only the adgroup, if it should be placed at adgroup level or if the adgroup should be moved. The least amount of random negatives at adgroup and campaign level makes it easier to troubleshoot and be organized moving forward.

Also consider overall when adding negatives that match type also applies. Match types are similar to positive keywords, but differ in that a negative broad match will not include synonyms or close variants. It will include queries that contain all of the words, regardless of word order.

Investing time into a comprehensive negative approach will save a significant amount of time long term as it provides a solid base to add to with new negatives and themes.

Have the secrets to effectively managing negative keywords in AdWords? Share in the comments or tweet us at @sewatch or @LisaRocksSEM to discuss.

12 Trends Search Marketers Can’t Ignore in Content Marketing

These days having an online presence is a necessity for businesses. Ninety-three percent 93% of online research begins with search engines, and 68 percent of potential customers research businesses using social media before making a purchasing decision.

Content marketing is a critical part of this online presence, as 93 percent of B2B companies use it to build their brand and create demand. In fact, B2B companies that blog regularly generate 67 percent more leads.

Here are 12 trends search marketers can’t ignore with their content marketing:

1. Businesses That Embrace Content Marketing Will Improve Their Search Engine Ranking

Businesses that embrace content marketing will be more likely to rank higher in the search engines. As content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) come together, it will attract more links, shares, and other signals to the search engines that increase ranking.

High-quality, long-form content that has several social media signals (i.e. likes, etc.) typically ranks better with most search engines. It has also been shown to get more attention through social media, which in turn also helps its ranking. While search engine optimization using keyword research and other tools will remain important, content will be the primary driver for ranking in the search engines.

2. Hard Sellers Will Be Ignored

While 87 percent of buyers say that content can have an impact on their purchasing decisions, 43 percent of them say hard selling and blatant advertising is a turn-off.

According to Mike Stelzner, chief executive (CEO) of Social Media Examiner, while some selling is OK, the marketers that constantly push their products will likely be ignored by prospects. According to Stelzner, it’s time for businesses to start caring. “That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track like answering customer questions and providing more value online.”

3. Advertising Will Become More Subtle as Ads Are Integrated With Content

Native advertising has become popular with publishers like The New York Times, Forbes, and many others. As banner ads have become less effective, native ads like branded and sponsored content in advertorials are increasing their effectiveness.

Advertisers will embrace advertisements that are placed strategically in great content. Advertisers and publishers will work more closely to make sure that paid content adds more value to the user experience.

4. More Businesses Will Learn Publication Is Only the First Step to Content Marketing

Some businesses that create content have learned that publication is only the first step. However, according to an article on Forbes.com, only 26 percent of marketers have invested in a content distribution plan. Strategic content distribution will become more important as businesses fight to get more eyes on their content. Your content needs to be constantly improving your brand, optimized for search, and ready for mobile. You will also need to focus on finding the influencers in your niche and reaching out to them as part of your content strategy.

5. Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing Will Benefit Each Other

Social media can be a powerful way to amplify your content. In the future, you’ll see more businesses realize the potential of using their social media accounts to reinforce their content. This will lead to an increase of organic social media as well as social media paid advertising. Businesses will continue to increase spending to promote posts.

6. Content Marketers Will Improve Email Marketing

Email has long been a popular way to promote content (i.e. blog posts) and sell products. Unfortunately, low-quality email marketing has caused the medium to steadily decline as spam filters block more email.

Smart marketers will start using their content marketing skills to improve the quality of their emails to increase engagement. This will have the added advantage of decreasing the rate of emails being caught by the spam filters as the emails become more relevant and compelling to the subscribers.

7. Hyper-Local Content Will Continue to Grow

According to Ryan Buckley, cofounder of Scripted, restaurants, real estate agencies, and other businesses that rely on local customers will continue to need hyper-local content. This type of content marketing can sometimes be difficult because it’s usually done by writers living in a specific geographical area. This can require a large number of writers, but the results can be worth it. The search engines will fuel the growth of hyper-local content because this type of high-quality content typically ranks well.

8. Personalization Will Become Even More of a Game Changer

Content marketing personalization will continue to grow. As marketing automation tools continue to improve, it will allow more relevant and unique customer engagement. This will allow companies to target customers based upon their needs and wants. Marketers can then push personalized content directly to the reader. Better personalization will lead to improved customer retention as they are reading and interacting with meaningful content that was personalized for them.

9. Reusable Content Will Grow in Popularity

The Content Marketing Institute conducted a survey in 2014 asking content marketers what they will be working on in the upcoming year. Sixty-nine percent of marketers said their goal was to create more engaging content. At the same time, 86 percent said they wanted to find ways to repurpose their existing content on to new platforms without having to re-create or reformat.

“Companies are seeking out the ability to create cost-effective, user-driven content that can address multiple constituents within the buying ecosystem, and across multiple selling environments (sales meetings, websites, trade shows, briefing centers, training, etc.). Same brand, same message, same value story,” says Dana Drissel with the American Marketing Association.

10. Guest Blogging Will Rise Again

Guest blogging used to be a popular method of improving search engine rankings. However, when Matt Cutts stated that guest blogging was “done,” it caused a mass exodus as writers moved away from this popular model. He later came back and said he was misunderstood and he was actually trying to discourage guest blogging as strictly a link building technique. Matt Cutts later went on to say, “I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.).”

At the time, most content marketers understood that what Cutts was really trying to say is that there is still a need for legitimate guest blogging that adds value. There are benefits of guest blogging other than simply getting inbound links.

11. Vertical Content Channels Will Increase Profits

As businesses provide high-value vertical content channels, it will allow them to hold on to a particular niche, according to vice president of content marketing strategies at Time, Newell Thompson.

“A curated, consistent, trusted voice that sits inside this tsunami of commoditized content will be where consumers will turn to satiate their passion or need for business information,” he says. “And advertisers who want to have meaningful and engaging conversations with their most important customers will follow them,” says Thompson.

12. Content Marketing Budgets Will Continue to Grow

Fifty-eight percent of B2B marketers are planning to increase their content marketing budgets this year. Out of this group, 10 percent are planning significant increases, according to a 2014 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report. As more businesses see the benefits of content marketing, it’s fully expected they will move their investment away from traditional SEO campaigns.

This will mean budget increases for creating:

  • blog posts
  • case studies
  • videos
  • white papers

Conclusion

These are 12 trends you really can’t ignore with your content marketing. The days of hard selling and pushy advertising are giving way to a content marketing approach. Businesses are increasing their budgets and getting smarter with their content marketing strategies.

These strategies will improve their content marketing distribution across multiple channels including social media, email marketing, guest blogging, SEO, and more. When you combine this with an engaging, personalized touch, content marketing shows great promise for years to come.

Google Trash Can Recover Your Deleted Analytics

A new recovery feature for Google Analytics means that users will never again have to worry about deleting data or accounts. Today, Google launched “Trash Can,” which allows users to undo deletes in Google Analytics.

Trash Can is a safety net that saves information each time users delete a view, property, or account from Google Analytics. To use Trash Can, Analytics users simply select an account from the Administration tab and click the Trash Can icon. Then a list of deleted information appears, and users simply check off the information they want reclaimed and hit restore to return the document to its previous state.

google-trash-can

The only catch is that Trash Can only stores information for 35 days. After that, it gets deleted permanently.

While the feature hasn’t officially launched for Google Analytics, information is being stored in Trash Can as of today. When the product does appear in Analytics accounts, all deleted information should appear in the Trash Can folder.

Trash Can is a direct response to user feedback, according to a Google rep. “We heard from a lot of users that had mistakenly deleted their accounts, properties, and views. Especially in a multi-user environment, mistakes like this happen too often. Trash Can gives users a safety net, a chance to recover things before being deleted forever.”

Adobe Finds Google’s CTR Growing Faster Than Its CPC

Google’s click-through-rate (CTR) growth is outpacing its cost-per-click (CPC) growth, according to Adobe’s Digital Index’s Q4 Digital Advertising Benchmark report.

The report, which was released this morning, was based on consumer data from brand sites during 2013 and 2014, captured through Adobe Media Optimizer and Adobe Social. The software company looked at more than 400 billion Facebook post impressions, and 500 billion more from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Google’s global CTR was up 19 percent year-over-year, while CPC only increased 8 percent. “Google is so far along; marketers have been using it for such a long that they’ve been able to dial in their click-through rates,” says Joe Martin, digital index manager at Adobe.

Yahoo and Bing, which Adobe analyzed collectively, had a CPC growth of 7 percent and no CTR growth, showing that marketers haven’t optimized those sites as effectively.

Looking at Facebook, Adobe found that quarter-over-quarter, retailers’ posts were up 31 percent and their paid impressions up 53 percent. This is unsurprising given that the holidays are in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, organic impressions are down 32 percent. While Facebook changed its algorithm in August, the 36 percent increase in interaction rates – comments, likes, and shares – shows that marketers are able to adjust their strategies quickly enough to keep up.

“In previous reports, I wouldn’t have expected to see the change for six or seven months, but they were able to make the change in one quarter,” Martin says.

Additionally, the index found that retailers are increasing their overall campaign spend. Google Shopping Ads, formerly known as Product Listing Ads, increased 47 percent from 2013 to the end of 2014.

But while text ad spend accounted for two-thirds of all retail SEM clicks, it was down 6 percent overall, demonstrating that advertisers are gravitating toward “image-based shopping experiences.” However, the rate of clicks on image-based Facebook posts stayed the same year-over-year, while more people clicked on posts with links.

Adobe also looked at different days of the week, determining which are best for different types of digital advertising. Friday has the highest frequency of Facebook posts, impressions, and interactions, while desktop search ranked highest on Mondays. Consumer search click frequency is highest during weekends, with Sunday accounting for 17 percent more mobile clicks than the average day.

How to Choose Social Media Images

Are you one of Instagram’s over 300 million users? Are you behind any of the 30 billion images that have been pinned on Pinterest? Have you watched some of the over 1 billion Facebook videos viewed on the social network every day?

I’ve yet to come across someone arguing that images don’t work on social media. We all love visuals, and the statistical evidence is there to back it up. Pinterest is second only to Facebook in driving referral traffic to websites. Tweets with photos get 35 percent more retweets on average. The list goes on and on.

Visuals are your key to success on social media. But not everyone who attaches an image to every Google+ post or Tweet is seeing their following grow or their engagement increase. This is because not all images are treated equal on social media. There are a number of factors which influence how well your image will perform, and how it will contribute to the success of your post.

So how do you choose social media images? We’ve offered some guidelines below:

Optimize images for each social network

Do you think a selfie or a beautiful chart would work better on LinkedIn? Would a diagram or a gif perform better on Tumblr? To optimize your images, consider the general user base and your specific audience on each social network and what they expect from your page or profile. This may differ from network to network, even for the same business. Choose images that make the most sense for where they’re being posted, and who will potentially see them.

And optimizing images isn’t only about the style of visual you choose. If you were to cycle through many popular social networks, you would find that images are often presented as landscape, or wider than they are tall. This is the image orientation on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn where content is generally presented in a single column.

 Mashable's Twitter Feed
Mashable’s Twitter Feed

Then there’s Google+ and Pinterest, where more often than not, content is in portrait form, or taller than it is wide. This is the result of the multiple-column design of these networks.

 Herschel Supply on Pinterest
Herschel Supply on Pinterest

Finally, most Instagram photos are square, though people have started adding borders to make them landscape.

All this to say, each social network has an image orientation that you should strive to follow. Using a landscape image on Pinterest just won’t be as effective. The image just won’t fit into the surroundings, its contents will appear smaller and people will be less inclined to share since it just looks out of place. You want your images to fit right in, so that anyone who shares them will too.

Your images should all also be in the optimal sizes for each network. This ensures that the images are crisp and clear when people see them in their feed. A blurry or stretched image almost ensures your content won’t get shared.

Take a look at the optimal dimensions for an image shared on these top social networks:

Twitter

Images actually appear in stream at 506×253 pixels but can be up to 1024×512 pixels.

Facebook

Images appear in the newsfeed within 470×394 pixel boxes. Facebook recommends uploading images with widths of 720, 960, or 2048 pixels for optimal quality, and they will resize images automatically to fit the feed.

Google+

Column sizes vary greatly depending on the size of your window, but are 350 pixels wide at a minimum. Images can also vary greatly in height due to the portrait nature. People post full infographics. Google+ also lets you see images full size when clicked. All this to say, the bigger the better, as long as images appear clearly at that 350px width. The maximum upload size is 2048×2048 pixels.

Pinterest

Pinterest images will appear at 238 pixels wide within feeds and 735 pixels wide when expanded. The height limits can vary significantly.

Instagram

Photos uploaded to Instagram can be a maximum of 2048×2048 pixels. Your smartphone can take photos that are of a high enough quality for Instagram.

Up your odds with more engaging images

There are several factors, many of them psychological, which affect how people react to your photos.

The journal Psychological Science published a study about the psychology of sharing which proved that evoking certain emotions can help increase the chance of a message being shared. Essentially emotional stimuli activates the nervous system and boosts “social transmission.” Another study looked at what types of emotions evoked by content sparked sharing. Among the top ones were awe, amusement, inspiration, shock, fear and controversy.

This illustrates why visual storytelling is a very effective social media technique. Visual storytelling involves images that resonate with people through emotional elements (especially those lifted above) and relatable story arcs. You should always try to evoke an emotional response through your imagery. This is what will get your content shared.

The image that the Obama campaign posted after winning the 2012 election is an excellent example of visual storytelling. It was the most retweeted tweet of all time when posted, amassing over 750,000 retweets. Hootsuite’s Director of Marketing, Cameron Uganec, explains that “Any tweet the campaign sent out at that time would have gotten a lot of attention, but I believe this tweet was such a breakout success because it was emotive and authentic. It captured a real moment. Someone who is not supposed to be vulnerable, the President of the United States is showing that he is human. It’s highly relatable on an emotional level.”

There are several other factors which influence engagement. A study by Tagg shows that there are differing levels of engagement depending on whether a human being appears in a brand’s photo on Facebook. But, despite common acceptance of the contrary, it was images with no human faces that showed the highest levels of engagement. It was actually images of body parts other than the face which received the most Likes and engagement.

This comes as a surprise to many of us who have heard and accepted that people’s faces attract the most engagement. However, what the study really proves is that your audiences can vary from product to page to industry. For this reason, it’s essential that you test different types of images and compare engagement levels. Post an image with a face, one without a face, and one without a person, at the same time on subsequent Mondays, for example. This a/b test could offer you insight into what type of image your following prefers.

Choose your branding and stick to it (most of the time)

When one of your followers is scrolling through their Instagram feed at lightning speed, what is going to make them stop on your photo? Your brand has a lot to do with it. When we talk about brand, we don’t mean stamping everything with your logo. We mean the style of imagery that people will come to recognize as something you produced. There are simple examples. Kraft Dinner’s Facebook page is littered with images which use the blue and yellow colors from their box.

KD picture content

Intel’s Instagram page is also tinged blue by their photos, which matches their widely known logo.

Intel on Instagram

By selecting a colour palette to match your logo or product, you’re taking advantage of an already recognizable feature of your brand to attract people’s attention and further your reach. Beyond colors, your branding might be reflected in a certain style of image. General Electric’s Google+ images tend to be animated, often with overlaid text.

General Electric Google+

Herschel Supply regularly posts overhead shots showing the contents of people’s bags. Brewery 33 Acres uses the same border on every Instagram photo.

33 Acres Instagram

Filters, colors, borders, fonts and image styles all contribute to your online branding. Keeping these consistent will help you keep existing followers and make your brand more recognizable to new ones.

“Great brand photography speaks to the brand without having the logo present. For example, Apple, The Gap, and Calvin Klein do a great job of this. A good rule of thumb: ‘Is it distinct enough that people could parody this on SNL?’” – Briony Crane, Hootsuite Art Director

Of course, not every image you post will fit with your branding. It’s nice to surprise your followers every once in a while too. But what makes these exceptions interesting is that they’re exceptions. You branding should be the rule.

Take and share your own photos (down with stock)

When trying to choose photos for social media, many people will turn to stock imagery. You can usually find creative commons images that fit your theme, so they’re easy on the budget and low effort. This is fine. Everyone does it, including us. But using stock images is not an effective or sustainable strategy. Stock images tend to be recycled, and seeing images over and over makes them far less shareable. Stock images also tend to be very vanilla: broadly applicable, and boring. The goal of people who create these images is to make them as widely appealing as possible, so that they get used more. The problem is, you have a very specific social media audience. Your specific audience requires specific images, catered to them and to your brand. For this reason, it’s essential that you begin to product your own visuals.

 You're not winning any new followers with this 'businessman' stock photo. Image by Wirawat Lian-udom  via flickr
You’re not winning any new followers with this ‘businessman’ stock photo. Image by Wirawat Lian-udom via flickr

If you can’t afford a professional photo shoot, there are innumerable photo taking and editing tutorials online that will help guide you through the process. Take a lot of photos at one time, edit them and then use them for your content over a month or even several months. Mobile photo apps like Instagram have lowered the expectation of production-style quality of photos by making cell phones the camera of choice for most people. Meanwhile editing tools like VSCOcam have made it easy for anyone to increase the quality of their mobile photos. In social media circles today, it is likely more acceptable to use an instagram photo than a stock one. Don’t be afraid to make the jump and start producing your own visuals.

Our Community Team rocks their ugly sweaters. #getuglygrantwishes #getugly A photo posted by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on Dec 19, 2014 at 2:17pm PST

Another way to find social media photos is to source user-generated content (ugc). From photo contests to branded hashtags, there are so many opportunities on social media to get your followers and clients to take photos on your behalf. These photos can then be reused (with credit) to show your fans that you’re actually listening and that you appreciate their loyalty. Even if you don’t need ugc photos, consider reaching out to your audience anyways. It can make your posts seem more genuine and less corporate.

Use videos whenever possible

This post has focused on images, but there’s no question that videos are probably the most powerful social media visuals.

During the entirety of 2013, Quintly monitored 72,194 Facebook Pages. These Pages produced a total of 49 million posts during that period. Despite only accounting for 3% of Facebook’s content, video generated 2,183 average interactions per post. In contrast, photos generated 1,358 interactions despite accounting for 54% of content.

And since then, the use of videos on Facebook has grown dramatically (remember that stat from earlier? Over 1 billion video views per day!). Twitter is also in the midst of ramping up its native video support.

Most of us don’t have the know-how or the budget required to make high quality videos very often. Instead consider one of two options. As above, don’t be afraid to create low budget videos using popular social apps like Instagram and Vine.

Users of these networks are willing to accept a lower quality video if it is done with creativity or humor. These videos can then be reused across social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Where you really can’t make a video to illustrate what you’re trying to share, don’t be afraid to curate a video. YouTube is essentially a search engine filled with videos that might support your idea directly, or simply appeal to your audience. Using other people’s videos can help illustrate your point more effectively and attract more engagement. Just don’t force it. Only use videos when they’re appropriate to the post.

And where videos don’t fit, consider using gifs. Gifs are perfect for the short-attention span users who want to be entertained quickly.

gif_201x101_4b8b19

A database like giphy.com can be your best friend, especially if your posts are tinged with humor. Google+ has long supported gifs within posts and Twitter has recently followed suit. Use gifs sparingly, but use them.

Choosing social media images, a checklist

    ❑ Is this image right for your followers on this specific social network?
    ❑ Is the image optimized (size and orientation) for this specific social network
    ❑ Will your image cause an emotional reaction?
    ❑ Will you be testing this image against another one? If not, have you run a/b tests in the past to see what types of images work best?
    ❑ Does your image fit your branding?
    ❑ Is the visual your own, or is it stock? If stock, can you take your own photo or use user-generated content instead?
    ❑ Would a video be more effective in place of your image?

5 Steps To Becoming a Better Social Media Analyst

As social media management evolves to include more elements, so do the expectations for social media professionals and their qualification. From project management to design, young professionals looking to enter the field of digital marketing have to learn more diverse skills to match their competition and meet the requirements set by employers. If your job already requires working with social media, your professional development path requires a steeper climb than many other occupations. The reason for this is not only the growing number of social channels, but also the constantly emerging new possibilities in using social media to help improve business processes.

A skill that has been improving website traffic and follower counts for a lot of forward-thinking social media professionals is data analysis. Analyzing social media data and using the results to inform business decisions helps social media professionals to prove ROI of their field to their superiors, as well as achieve new wins for their departments. This doesn’t mean you have to re-qualify completely—all the information you need is already there, you just have to work out a new process for implementing it. Since the social media analyst hat is a good one for social media managers to don from time to time, we came up with these steps to help smooth the transition.

5 Steps To Becoming a Better Social Media Analyst

Step 1: Know the difference between a social media manager vs. a social media analyst

Let’s say your job already assumes responsibility over social media channels. In order to improve on those skills, check out our resources to become a better social media strategist.

When assuming the duties of a social media analyst, however, your main task is to understand social media data, and translate it for stakeholders who would not otherwise be familiar with its benefits for the business.

Step 2: Learn the metrics you need to track in order to show results

In order to show the ROI of social media effectively and without overburdening your executive team with technicalities, social media analysts need to know what kind of data to track and how to parse the metrics.

First and foremost, the job of a social media analyst is heavily dependent on excellent knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) practices, as well as their implementation in brand awareness and marketing efforts. This will help inform both the social media and content marketing strategies by determining what search terms are prevalent in your brand’s field, and making sure your content ranks high in search results.

The other kinds of data a social media analyst should track is dictated by their business goals. For example, if the main objective is to increase customer acquisition through the website and social media channels, then it’s useful to track metrics such as clickthrough rates and traffic from social media, indicated by URL parameters. For more examples of social media metrics you should be tracking for various goals, read our blog post exploring the topic in greater detail.

Step 3: Collect all the necessary metrics

If duties of a social media analyst are just part of your everyday work, you want to make the process of data collection and analysis as time and cost-efficient as possible. This is why, for each metric you have selected in Step #2, find the best way to track and record the data.

At the very least, you should be tracking engagement data such as the number of times your brand has come up in a social media conversation—you can do this by setting up by creating official brand hashtags for brand name, products and/or services, events organized or sponsored by your company, and any campaigns you promote on social media. Set up search streams for real-time monitoring of your brand’s hashtags as soon as you first mention them. You can then analyze social media posts that mention your official hashtags by sentiment and influence of the user.

It’s safe to assume that, since your company hired someone to manage their online presence, they have several online assets—such as a website, a blog, online ads, and multiple social media accounts. In order to determine which online resource brought in the most traffic or most converted leads, it helps to add tracking parameters to all URLs you use. To save time and character counts, we recommend using URL shorteners for all your links. The most basic shorteners will give you insight on clickthrough rates; more sophisticated services will also provide you with the information on the referral source, as well as the regions where the clicks originated.

Finally, your website or blog will most likely benefit from a comprehensive analytics platform such as Google Analytics. The free version should have all the metrics to meet your website’s needs, such as unique visitors, social referral source, time spent on page, etc.; but if you run a website which receives several million visits a month, it might be useful to look into the Premium version.

Step 4: Parse the social media data into a meaningful report

Once you have collected all the data and figured out how it aligns with your company’s objectives, you need to choose the most effective way to communicate your findings to others in the organization.

Before you write the report, find a focus for the information you’re about to present. Depending on the nature of social media data you’ve collected, you can present your findings in form of a brand audit, a competitor audit, or a research report on the topic of your choosing. A brand audit can summarize insights on the engagement rates, prevalent sentiment among your brand’s social media audience, and influencers following your brand. A competitor audit can delve into your brand’s status in the market, general sentiment towards your competitors, as well as your wins and areas that need improvement in comparison to your competitors. A research report can cover such areas as the effectiveness of social media strategy for certain business goals, studies on key influencers in the field, or demand for potential future products or services based on social media discussions of your customers.

Structure is vital to the effectiveness of your report. Organize your report to start with the objectives you have set out to meet with the help of the data; then, outline your findings in general terms first, highlighting the most interesting facts. For your top results, provide some insight based on the objectives you set in the beginning, and give recommendations on the next steps.

If your company uses Hootsuite for social media management and monitoring, you can generate reports straight from the Analytics option available in the dashboard. Here’s how to structure a social media report using Hootsuite.

Step 5: Stay on top of the latest social media analytics trends

O*net Online projects the job growth for social media analysts to grow between 4 and 7% over the next ten years; and with an increased demand, expectations for skill development will also go up.

Sign up for Hootsuite University to stay up to date with new social media trends. If you are intrigued by our one-click reporting system mentioned in Step #4, Hootsuite University also has multiple resource to teach you how to use Hootsuite Analytics.

Let Hootsuite Pro be an essential tool in your social media analyst itinerary. Sign up for a free 30 day trial today!

Google Trash Can Recovers Your Deleted Analytics

A new recovery feature for Google Analytics means that users will never again have to worry about deleting data or accounts. Today, Google launched “Trash Can,” which allows users to undo deletes in Google Analytics.

Trash Can is a safety net that saves information each time users delete a view, property, or account from Google Analytics. To use Trash Can, Analytics users simply select an account from the Administration tab and click the Trash Can icon. Then a list of deleted information appears, and users simply check off the information they want reclaimed and hit restore to return the document to its previous state.

google-trash-can

The only catch is that Trash Can only stores information for 30 days. After that, it gets deleted permanently.

While the feature hasn’t officially launched for Google Analytics, information is being stored in Trash Can as of today. When the product does appear in Analytics accounts, all deleted information should appear in the Trash Can folder.

Trash Can is a direct response to user feedback, according to a Google rep. “We heard from a lot of users that had mistakenly deleted their accounts, properties and views. Especially in a multi-user environment, mistakes like this happen too often. Trash Can gives users a safety net, a chance to recover things before being deleted forever.”

Adobe Finds Google’s CTR Growing Faster Than Its CPC

Google’s click-through-rate (CTR) growth is outpacing its cost-per-click (CPC) growth, according to Adobe’s Digital Index’s Q4 Digital Advertising Benchmark report.

The report, which was released this morning, was based on consumer data from brand sites during 2013 and 2014, captured through Adobe Media Optimizer and Adobe Social. The software company looked at more than 400 billion Facebook post impressions, and 500 billion more from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Google’s global CTR was up 19 percent year-over-year, while CPC only increased 8 percent. “Google is so far along; marketers have been using it for such a long that they’ve been able to dial in their click-through rates,” says Joe Martin, digital index manager at Adobe.

Yahoo and Bing, which Adobe analyzed collectively, had a CPC growth of 7 percent and no CTR growth, showing that marketers haven’t optimized those sites as effectively.

Looking at Facebook, Adobe found that quarter-over-quarter, retailers’ posts were up 31 percent and their paid impressions up 53 percent. This is unsurprising given that the holidays are in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, organic impressions are down 32 percent. While Facebook changed its algorithm in August, the 36 percent increase in interaction rates – comments, likes, and shares – shows that marketers are able to adjust their strategies quickly enough to keep up.

“In previous reports, I wouldn’t have expected to see the change for six or seven months, but they were able to make the change in one quarter,” Martin says.

Additionally, the index found that retailers are increasing their overall campaign spend. Google Shopping Ads, formerly known as Product Listing Ads, increased 47 percent from 2013 to the end of 2014.

But while text ad spend accounted for two-thirds of all retail SEM clicks, it was down 6 percent overall, demonstrating that advertisers are gravitating toward “image-based shopping experiences.” However, the rate of clicks on image-based Facebook posts stayed the same year-over-year, while more people clicked on posts with links.

Adobe also looked at different days of the week, determining which are best for different types of digital advertising. Friday has the highest frequency of Facebook posts, impressions, and interactions, while desktop search ranked highest on Mondays. Consumer search click frequency is highest during weekends, with Sunday accounting for 17 percent more mobile clicks than the average day.