Bing Tests Emoji Keyboard

Bin is already one of the few search engines that allows emoji searches, and now it’s testing a full emoji keyboard.

Rubén Gómez first mentioned the keyboard yesterday on the All Google Testing blog. He posted an instructional video and included a code users can write in the development consoles of Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Andrew LaForge – founder of Fotobom, a company that specializes in photo-editing tools, and creator of the new YourMoji custom emoji app – thinks doing things around the wildly-popular emoji is a way for Microsoft to stand out. He refers to the fact that this week’s Windows update included a middle finger emoji.

“Not only did they do it, but [Microsoft] really highlighted that they [made the middle finger],” LaForge says. “They’re trying to get aboard the hype of emojis and be the cool guys again. I think Microsoft knows this might give them a shot of reaching the younger generation.”

Of the top five most popular search engines, Yahoo is the only other one that has an emoji-search capability; Ask.com and AOL do not. Google did emoji searches, though the practice was discontinued a few months back.

But while LaForge thinks emojis will help Bing get out from Google’s shadow, Vivian Rosenthal, founder of branded emoji keyboard company Snaps, says that Bing simply sees where the future of communication is heading.

“There’s this idea that visual content is universal and transcends language; it’s like, a picture is worth a thousand words,” Rosenthal says. “People are so drawn to emojis because you can capture a lot in very little time.”

It’s hard to predict the level of engagement Bing will see from this keyboard, as it hasn’t even been (and may not ever be) released. Still, Rosenthal can see other search engines doing something similar down the line.

“There are 80 billion text messages sent a day and a huge percentage of them include an emoji; if I’m Bing, why wouldn’t I let people search and communicate visually, rather than just through our standard language?” she says. “It seems like it would behoove them to pay attention to what people want.”

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4 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search

For millions of job-seekers, social media is now a central part of the search. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, 79% of are likely to use social media to find jobs. Among younger workers the number is even higher: 86% of people in the first 10 years of their career said they are likely to use social media in their job search. But are they making the most of the tools available find opportunities and learn more about companies?

In a competitive job market, you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can. Here are four ways to use social media in your job search:

1. Update your professional networks regularly

When you’re just starting out on the job search journey, think like a recruiter. In all likelihood, the first thing they’re going to do is Google you. Odds are your personal social profiles and your presence on professional networking sites will come up first. Do you know what they’re going to find?

Before you submit your resume online or ask a friend to refer you for a position, update your professional networks. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

Use the same headshot across all social platforms. This will help recruiters locate the real you, especially if you have a pretty common name. It also keeps your personal brand consistent across channels.

Update your bio. Do a quick check: does your bio list your current job and location? Make sure the information in your bio reflects who you are today, not two years ago.

Ensure your most-current resume is online. Nothing is more frustrating for a recruiter than checking out a clearly outdated LinkedIn profile. Update yours now.

2. Look for employee feedback

When you’re researching a company, social media is a great way to find out what employees actually think about working there. Search Twitter for handles or hashtags people are using to talk about life at their company. For example, Twitter uses #JoinTheFlock and @JoinTheFlock to publicize how great it is to work at Twitter. These handles and hashtags often have information that you won’t find anywhere else.

Glassdoor, the company I work for, is designed to help job-seekers find this kind of info. On Glassdoor, employees leave candid, anonymous feedback about what it’s really like to work for their company. You can out these reviews to get an inside look at a company you’re interested in, rather than relying solely on career pages managed by a company’s HR, recruiting, or marketing departments. Expand your reach beyond job boards, too. Often companies publicize their open jobs on TwitterLinkedIn or Glassdoor. Do a quick Google search like “Working at X” and see what pops up.

3. Do your homework!

Social media is a great place to learn what’s going on with any given company at that time. Check out a company’s social media accounts to see what awards they’ve won recently and what else is going on in their world. These are great things to bring up in cover letters or interviews—and shows you’ve done your homework.

Follow companies you love (and want to work for) on social media. Go a step further and actually interact with these brands. Thousands (and sometimes millions) of people follow brands on Twitter but don’t necessarily take the time to engage.

Spending 15 minutes a day on these activities during your job search will pay dividends.

4. Go above and beyond

You’ll earn bonus points and set yourself apart from other candidates by incorporating all the great intelligence you’ve gathered into a customized resume and cover letter, as well as referencing relevant points during interviews. Nothing says impressive like bringing up a tweet you saw about an award the company recently won or an initiative they’re promoting!

Still struggling to use social media in your job search? Check out Glassdoor’s blog for more best practices.

Open Source HR: How We Built a New Recruiting Report for Leadership

As part of our ongoing open source HR initiative (#HootHROS), this post outlines the steps we took to create a new recruiting data report for our executives.

Like many companies experiencing hyper-growth, we had a problem at Hootsuite: as we continued to scale globally, entering new markets and adding new positions, it became increasingly difficult to keep our leadership team dialed in to our global talent acquisition efforts. Our executives needed better visibility into our recruiting progress, and we needed to find a way to provide it.

We use a variety of channels at Hootsuite to measure our recruiting activity: ATS data (iCIMS), Google Analytics, the dreaded spreadsheets, candidate and recruiter experience surveys, and more. No single source report was providing the level of visibility we wanted to provide our leadership team. That complexity gave us real challenges when we tried presenting data to our leadership team.

An example of our old report. We clearly needed an update.
An example of our old report. We clearly needed an update.

Since one of our core values at Hootsuite is “build a better way,” we knew we had to take action. We decided to build an Executive Recruiting Report that compiled these disparate sources and told a global story about talent in a cohesive and visually appealing way.

It took many months and multiple iterations, but we knew it was what the business needed. Here’s a breakdown of how we built it and what we learned along the way.

Goals and anticipated outcomes

  • A cleaner, cohesive report that presents a globally inclusive picture and narrative of our recruiting efforts.
  • Increased visibility into our global recruiting operations for senior leadership, and better understanding of entire recruitment workflow.
  • The ability to show department leads all of their global recruiting information in one report.
  • Help Hootsuite leadership understand the recruiting funnel around the world so they have market intelligence and a better understanding of what goes into hiring efforts.
  • Help provide visibility into the workload of our recruiters, the amount of time it takes to sift through all of the candidates and get 30-50+ hires per month.

How we did it

We first reviewed the reports we were currently producing and conducted an analysis with our business leaders to better understand what they were looking for, to make sure we were aligned. That process took several weeks, but we landed on key metrics the business wanted and we knew we could (eventually) provide.

For this new Executive Recruiting Report to be successful, we had to ensure all of our global recruiters were tracking their activity in iCIMS, which we had just migrated to. This took a few months. We maintained our original reports during this transition, so we could track the consistency of the data over time. When the reports matched, we knew we were ready.

Once we knew what data should be included and what it should look like, it was then a matter of building the visual representation and compiling the disparate sources.

A breakdown of the data included in our report

ATS (iCIMS)

  • Global recruiting funnel metrics: # of applicants, phone screens, onsite interviews, offers, declines, hires
  • Source of applicant
  • Source of hire
  • Time to fill
  • Jobs open over 50 days

HRIS (Workday)

  • Year-To-Date headcount vs. Year-To-Date plan

Google Analytics

  • Web traffic and page views on the “Careers” section of our website.
  • Conversion Rate (that is, the number of monthly unique career website visitors versus applicants).

Google Forms

  • Candidate Experience Survey: Five questions emailed to candidates after they interview.
  • Recruiter Survey: Sent to all new hires to gauge their satisfaction levels with recruiting experience.
Some results from a candidate survey
Some results from a candidate survey

Recruiter Feedback & Insights

  • Feedback and market intelligence on declined offers and additional recruiting context for jobs open more than 50 days.

How we built the report

After we collected the data, we needed to present it in a cohesive and visually appealing way.

We used Google Slides to create templates for each of the key data elements in the report. Once the templates were built, we could easily plug in the data each month for that component of the report.

Once we updated each of the templates, we used Mailchimp to compile the report and send to Hootsuite’s leadership team. Mailchimp allowed us to understand engagement, opens, and click-throughs to monitor the effectiveness and usage in each section.

After the components and templates were built, it took about a full day to actually build the report. We created several versions of the report each month that provided visibility into all of our key business verticals: Global, Revenue, Product/Engineering, Marketing, and Core Support.

We’d like to recognize two of our recruiting operations leads, Erica Rizzo and Emily Karras, who did a lot of the heavy lifting over the design and implementation process of creating this report. Thanks to both of them for bringing this to life, we couldn’t have done it without them.

Results

We released our first global recruiting report in June 2015, and the initial feedback has been positive:

  • The leadership team was appreciative of the additional visibility into our global recruiting activities.
  • The visual format allowed for easy comprehension of the data.
  • The increased visibility of global and departmental activity was well received.
A section from our new recruiting report
A section from our new recruiting report

What we got wrong

The report is a work in progress, and we’ll continually refine it based on the feedback we receive. So far, we’ve noticed a few things that we missed and will work to incorporate into future reports:

  • We should have collected more global feedback before sending the report. We tried to get a deep global perspective during the needs analysis stage, but in hindsight we should have gone deeper.
  • We should have given the recruiters more guidance in developing their narratives for local markets and aged jobs.
  • We could have done a better job presenting global/local talent trends to help our leadership better understand the hiring climate in those areas.
  • We need to do a more thorough job of answering the question: “what does this data mean?” Is it good, bad, or neutral?

Key takeaway: build a better way

A huge takeaway for us was the realization that we weren’t limited to the data outputs of our recruiting technology. If it doesn’t meet your needs, build something that does. It takes time and effort, but the end result can help recruitment leaders become valuable talent advisors for the business.

We’re sharing the process behind developing our new recruiting report and how we built it as a model of just one way it can be done. If you have models or templates that you’d like to share, send a Tweet and tag it with #HootHROS.

For another look into the open source HR efforts of Hootsuite’s HR and recruiting team, read our case study on How To Design And Execute A Global Employer Brand Campaign In 5 Days.

Want to see our new recruiting report? Flip through or download the Slideshare below.

How Do You Rank on Google?

Google’s algorithms are better-focused than ever, according to a new study from Searchmetrics.

In its fourth annual Google ranking factors study, the enterprise platform looked at the top 30 search results for 10,000 keywords and 300,000 websites on Google. According to Marcus Tober, founder and chief technology officer at Searchmetrics, the findings simply confirm the current trends.

“Understanding user intention and creating unique, relevant content is more vital than ever before,” Tober says. “It is also visible that backlinks are continuing to decrease in relevance. Looking ahead, as the proportion of search queries from mobile  devices continues to grow, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on the rankings.”

Some factors Searchmetrics saw positively affecting the rankings include mobile-friendliness; social signals, such as Facebook likes and Tweets; and backlinks, though the latter will likely decrease in importance. The study focuses on three other main areas:  

1. Technical

Technical factors are still most important when it comes to ranking in Google. Compared with last year, the search volume of domain names has increased strongly. While brands often rank higher because of their inherent visibility, brand searches, with or without extra keywords, also influence non-branded searches.

Other positive ranking factors include a domain’s SEO visibility; the frequency of H2 tags, in addition to H1 and meta description; a strong-but-short URL, which is worth thousands of keywords; and site speed. In addition, HTTPS encryption, which Searchmetrics included in its analysis for the first time, also impacts sites positively, though it’s not necessary for sites that don’t deal in sensitive data.

On the other hand, Keyword domains are no longer the strong ranking factor they once were. In 2014, 9 percent of the URLs in the top 30 included a keyword in their domain, a number that decreased to 6 percent this year. The proportion of pages using Flash is also significantly lower in the first two SERPs on both desktop and mobile.

2. User Experience

The internal link structure is important for both the crawlability of the Google bot and the user experience – CTR, bounce rate and time spent on site are three factors in ranking, after all. Last year, there were 131 internal links within the top 10 rankings; this year, there are 150. The same is true for optimization, which also includes factors such as responsive design, font size, and interactive elements. Bulleted lists also seem to be ranking factors, as they appear in half of the second-ranked sites and 40 percent in the top 30.

However, while the number of images helps rankings, the number of ranking sites with integrated videos has fallen from 2014. As of last summer, Google only plays video thumbnails in the SERPs; the dominance of YouTube also makes it difficult to rank. Searchmetrics also found that a large number of ads hurts ranking. Pages other than the first two search result spots, which are generally a brand page and Wikipedia, have an AdSense percentage of more than 10.

3. Content

While the content from the top 30 ranked pages has become more extensive – the word count for the top 10 pages averages 1,285, 25 percent higher than last year – less complex and more holistic, with more sites using proof terms and relevant terms.

Just as with the technical aspect of websites, keywords have become less important within content as well. Searchmetrics found that the percentage of pages that have the keyword they want to rank for as an external link’s anchor has fallen, especially toward the top of the rankings. However, keywords are much more important within internal links.

The full study can be found here

The New Media Meritocracy

When the World Wide Web debuted more than 20 years ago, one problem that immediately became obvious was that this open network lacked any functional mechanism for evaluating the quality of content placed upon it. While armies of human curators – including Yahoo’s legions of editors and About.com’s teams – worked mightily to achieve this goal throughout the 1990s, it was only with the arrival of Google that machine intelligence began to be effectively applied to the problem, thus heralding the dawn of a true media meritocracy.

Simultaneously, Wikipedia became the de-facto standard source for almost any bit of information one could possibly want, relying on the “wisdom of crowds” and a self-correction system that worked even better than its precursor, DMOZ.org. Wikipedia remains one of Google’s favorite domains.

Google’s fundamental values are deeply meritocratic. The fundamental assumption of Page Rank – its algorithmic cornerstone – is that web pages with more links to them have more merit than those lacking them, and should therefore be accorded better organic visibility on results pages. Similarly, on the paid side, Quality Score strongly influences the rank of a given ad by factoring in expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience, causing “better” PPC campaigns to run more cheaply. Lately, Google’s merit-seeking algorithms have been joined by those of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Reddit. While the social algorithms work very differently from PageRank, they are designed to surface content – both paid and unpaid – given the stamp of merit in the form of Likes, follows, shares, or time spent viewing.

Visual forms of content enjoy a particular advantage in the digital marketing ecosystem. Witness the surge in popularity of infographics. “Infographics utilize visual stimulation, breaking through the clutter and giving the textual content a greater chance of being read,” says Justin Beegel, founder and president of Infographic World. “The SEO value and social media value of a great infographic are a significant added benefit.”

Obviously, there remains a yawning gulf between the goals of such a meritocratic system and the market reality. Big brands continue to enjoy inherent advantages in the battle for users’ attention. They benefit from the billions sunk into historical brand-building campaigns, from unrestricted PPC budgets that let them (temporarily) ignore the dictates of Quality Score, and from their capacity to field content marketing efforts employing top-tier edit, design, and tech talent. The merit-seeking algorithms haven’t been powerful enough to kill the brand advantage or create a truly level playing field; what they have done, however, is make this battle less one-sided than ever.

This has three important implications for marketers and non-marketers alike:

1. Meritocracy is the Flip Side of Transparency

It is no longer possible for any brand, big or small, to hide what it actually does behind clever ad campaigns and aggressive PR agencies. Eric Schmidt’s famous quote on privacy – “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” – applies equally to individuals and corporations. This kind of radical transparency is both new and deeply frightening to many because it forces all of us to be accountable for our actions, in the boardroom (Sony), the bedroom (Ashley Madison), and just about everywhere in between.

On Yelp, TripAdvisor, GlassDoor, BBB.org, and countless other social media sites, private business activities, especially their impact on consumers, aren’t private anymore: they are the public’s business. The good news is, if your product is excellent, your customer service flawless, your tactics ethical, and your employees beyond reproach, you have a better chance of rising to the top than at any prior time in human history.

2. Your Ads – And Your Entire Sponsored Experience – Can’t Suck

Any message or ad creative that doesn’t earn its way into view has no chance of burning its way into your customer’s consciousness. If your ad is annoying, interruptive, irrelevant, or natively inappropriate, you will alienate your prospects and annihilate your chances of creating any positive affinity. Worse, you won’t even be able to measure the damage until it’s too late.

3. You Need to Think Holistically

Linear marketing thinking, such as AIDA and storytelling, hasn’t been made obsolete, but its conceptual limitations are becoming more observable as we learn more about how human beings actually use the Web. Prospects don’t always follow a purpose-driven, rational journey to your products and services through a funnel. They browse and scan, hunt and peck, and wander hither and yon. Prospects neither have the time nor the inclination to delve deeply into your brand story, however good it is, for more than a few microseconds.

Raw marketing power and blunt force interruption doesn’t cut it anymore. To make an enduring impression in the new media meritocracy, you need a holistic strategy – from your logo and tagline, all the way through your 4Ps and power keywords – that gives you an edge across all media, whether it’s paid, earned, or owned.

Whether it’s an overall marketing strategy, the latest SEO plan, or an individual piece of content, just like Wayne and Garth, ask yourself, “Am I worthy?” If not, don’t expect stellar results.

5 Modern-Day Alternatives to Link Building

Link building has fallen, both in practicality and in popularity, as a long-term SEO strategy. Once universally-acknowledged as a necessary foothold for ranking in search engines, building links has been ostracized by the SEO community, largely at the behest of Google engineers, who frequently warn marketers not to waste time building offsite links.

There’s still a problem, however. Google needs some way to calculate your domain authority, trust, and authority, aside from what’s actually on the website. Originally, its search algorithm relied on external links as a kind of third-party authority measurement, with more and better links indicating a better, more authoritative site. Over time, as most webmasters began to abuse this system by building unnatural links meant to manipulate the algorithm, Google constructed more advanced algorithms that can detect whether a link was “naturally” built.

Today, links are still one of the primary factors used by Google’s ranking algorithm. However, because Google’s detection of unnatural links has become so sophisticated, many of the old tactics of link building are often more risky than rewarding.

So how can a modern-day webmaster reap the benefits of inbound links without resorting to the obsolete processes of traditional link building?

1. Brand Mentions

Brand mentions are probably the most similar modern-day alternative to link building, and may appeal to marketers who want to maintain their older strategies as much as possible while still conforming to the new requirements. It’s been speculated that Google’s algorithm is able to detect mentions of your brand name and associate that mention directly with your site. This means that even without a link, if you can get your name mentioned on various external platforms, you’ll be able to pass more authority to your site.

The best way to do this is through guest blog posts. It’s natural and easy to work your brand name(s) into the text, and relatively easy to build a wide circle of potential publication outlets. Because you’ll never have to worry about getting penalized for a brand mention, you also have more flexibility in the types of sources you use and the frequency at which you post. For more on this, see “Link Building Evolved: The Age of Brand Mentions.”

2. Nofollow Links

One of the advantages of old link-building strategies went beyond the domain authority benefits; those links were essentially portals back to your site, which readers could follow easily and directly. Eliminating link building as a strategy altogether has the unfortunate side effect of removing this portion of your referral traffic, as people can’t follow unlinked brand mentions back to your site as easily.

The way around this is to build “nofollow” links, with a tag that tells Google not to consider the link as part of its ranking algorithm. With nofollow tags, you can build as many functional links as you like without the risk of a penalty – just be aware that you won’t get the PageRank or “link juice” credit, either.

3. Social Shares

Getting increased social media attention also correlates with higher search engine rankings, according to multiple correlation studies. While correlation is not causation, it stands to reason that brands with more social media activity exhibit stronger brand signals to Google’s algorithm, which, in turn, results in stronger authority and trust, along with search rankings.

If a large number of your brand’s social media posts or links to your onsite content are shared, liked, favorited, or commented on in a social media platform, Google may give your content that authoritative credit, and thus rank it higher for relevant search queries. In order to leverage this, create as much valuable content as you can, as often as you can, and make sure you share it with your social media audience.

4. Third-Party Reviews

Local reviews are often seen as a local-exclusive SEO strategy, but any company that uses third-party reviews can reap the benefits of better branded search representation in Google search results. Google scours sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and UrbanSpoon to learn which brands seem to attract the greatest number of good reviews compared to bad reviews. In short, the more good reviews your business has on each site, the higher your profile on each site will rank for branded search queries – not just on Google, but within the review sites themselves.

The only downside is you can’t solicit reviews directly, so use indirect methods – “find us on Yelp” stickers at your physical location, for one – to encourage your customers to write more reviews. For an in-depth overview of how to get customer reviews without breaking any rules, see “How to Get Online Reviews for Your Business.”

5. Turn Your Website into a “Link Magnet” through Content Marketing

There’s nothing wrong with links themselves; having more links from a wider range of sources will objectively increase your domain authority and your rankings in search engines. The problem comes in when you try to build all those links yourself, which leaves a footprint and can result in negative consequences, such as a manual or algorithmic penalty. The perfect alternative, therefore, would be creating a system where thousands of people build links to your website’s content without any solicitation from you. Link building through content marketing accomplishes this by essentially creating a “magnet” attracting inbound links on the merits of the quality of the content itself.

Essentially, you’ll create an extremely high-quality or valuable piece of content, such as a detailed infographic, published research, or a video. You’ll then distribute that piece and encourage social sharing to circulate it as much as possible. If the piece is original and interesting enough, your followers will take it from there. They’ll cite your content as a source in their own published work, and you’ll attract completely natural inbound links with no questionable tactics executed along the way. The key, along with the necessity for extremely high-quality content, is to first establish a social media following or email list, which can extend the reach of your content.

Conclusion

Link building itself isn’t as bad as some search marketers would have you believe. Building natural links on an occasional basis, or including them in your guest posts, won’t bring the Google penalty hammer down on you. Still, these modern-day link building alternatives are just as valuable as traditional links – sometimes more – and carry virtually no risk of penalty. Use a diverse blend of them in your own SEO strategy, and you’ll start seeing the impact almost immediately.

Google Given Right to Appeal in Safari Cookies Case

Google has been given the right to appeal in the U.K. against a ruling in a legal case that boils back down to the infamous Safari ‘Cookiegate’ incidents of the early 2010s.

The problem was the collection of data and the implications of that collection in relation to the U.K. Data Protection Act (DPA). So far, debate about this has kept the courts ready for almost four years.

The Court of Appeal said in May that three U.K. citizens could sue Google over cookie privacy violations, which was mooted as being a potential legal epiphany, and it was suggested that Google would appeal against the ruling.

Lo, and Google did appeal. And in time so did the U.K. Supreme Court, which gave the search company the right to make its stand about the case (Google Inc (Appellant) v Vidal-Hall and others) to a higher power in an advisory note released today.

“The Supreme Court has granted permission in part for Google to appeal the Court of Appeal of England and Wales decision in a case relating to a dispute over the user information through cookies via use of the Apple Safari browser,” the court said, to Google’s delight.

The search firm said in response: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to consider key issues in this complex case.”

Michael Gardner, a partner and head of the intellectual property team at law firm Wedlake Bell, commented on the case to SEW’s sister publication, The INQUIRER, in May. Today he said that he is not surprised at the advance, and that he expects some interesting results from any incoming cases.

“As expected Google has sought to take the matter all the way to the U.K.’s highest domestic court,” he said.

“The refusal to allow permission to appeal is significant because it means that irrespective of what happens now, the claimants will be able to pursue their case against Google in the English court.

“But the appeal will determine the very important question of whether it is possible in principle to claim compensation under the DPA without showing actual financial harm.

“That could greatly widen the scope for damages claims by disgruntled individuals based on breaches of the DPA.” 

Google’s Ups Its Automatic Text Translation Tool Ante

Google has your back and will let you translate text – think menus, bills and directions – into your language of choice and spare you the effort of searching in the direction of international communication.

Barak Turovsky, product lead for Google Translate, said that just 20 percent of the planet speaks English and that this minority needs some entrepreneurial assistance. Step forward Google.

Turovsky said that people need to translate all sorts of things, and that Google is helping them out. The firm has increased the number of translatable languages to 27.

“Just open the app, click on the camera, and point it at the text you need to translate – a street sign, ingredient list, instruction manual, dials on a washing machine,” he said.

“You’ll see the text transform live on your screen into the other language. No internet connection or cell phone data needed.

“Today, we’re updating the Google Translate app again, expanding instant visual translation to 20 more languages, and making real-time voice translations a lot faster and smoother so even more people can experience the world in their language.”

The application, available for iPhone and Android, does not require a live network connection, and users are asked instead to download the language packages to their copy of the application.

“In many emerging markets, slow mobile networks can make it challenging to access many online tools,” said Turovsky.

“In addition to instant visual translation, we’ve also improved our voice conversation mode so it’s even faster and more natural on slow networks.”

The updates are rolling out over the next few days. 

Social Selling Strategies for the Property Management Industry

We know that social media is transforming the retail business and property management industry. Social media is being used to create a link between the offline and online experience of customers, shoppers, and tenants.

Social media has changed the buying journey for almost every industry, and if this process is continuing to evolve for customers then the selling process should also be adapting accordingly.

Social selling is about working within the new buyer’s journey, rather than only being there at the end when they’re ready to make a purchase.

For the property management and real estate industry, this means empowering sales teams and agents to monitor conversations, identify buying signals, share content and build mutually beneficial relationships over time, and use the real-time insights that social media offers to close more deals.

Responding to the new buyer’s journey

Our guide—Social Selling and Commercial Real Estate—will help you maximize your sales efficiency using concepts that span the entire sales cycle. You’ll learn how to enable your leasing and sales departments to drive revenue from social media and increase their productivity throughout the sales process.

To give you an idea of what to expect in the guide, here’s a sample of what’s inside.

The Pillars of Social Selling

Listen and Learn

Discovering potential leads by monitoring social networks (perhaps in concert with professional sales intelligence services). Mapping out relationships to determine which decision-makers they should target, leveraging shared contacts for referrals and introductions.

Research and Relate

Today’s buyers openly express their aspirations and their needs through social media. For attentive salespeople, this information is manna from heaven. It allows them to discover shared interests or relationships that can turn cold calls into warm introductions. In addition to empathy, social media fosters insight. Because online social profiles make the customer’s business needs and the seller’s subject knowledge more transparent, the two parties can build a relationship through valuable exchanges of information, not just idle chit-chat.

Engage and Impress

Social media allows a sales agent to actively communicate with more accounts and stay better informed about all of them. He or she can keep tabs on the social profiles of customers and become aware of trigger events without bothering them with interruptive “follow-up” calls that add little value to either side. When an opportunity for engagement arises, the seller can reach out to the customer through social media or another channel.

Collaborate and Close

When partnered with solid business practices, social tools strengthen the entire web of relationships involved in sales, making the selling process as collaborative as the modern buying process. Sales representatives can collaborate to research prospects, build referrals, and discover cross-selling opportunities.

For more, download our free Social Selling and Commercial Real Estate guide today and continue learning how to:

  • Build deeper relationships with your prospects by discovering shared contacts, interests, and other common ground
  • Leave a trail of compelling content that brings prospects to you
  • Catch the real-time buying signals that tell you when prospects are primed for contact

4 Ways To Improve Your Integrated Marketing Communication Plan With Social Media

Before you start communicating with the world about your business, it’s essential that you have a plan. This blueprint, called an integrated marketing communication (IMC) plan, needs to outline the different ways an organization will communicate about itself, products, or services. It’s an effective roadmap for your marketing teams during implementation, to avoid any internal arguments between stakeholders and to alleviate any anxiety.

Just like your marketing strategy, this plan will always be evolving. This means that, once you make your plan, you need to keep adjusting it as your communication channels evolve. The word integrated is in there for a reason: your IMC will incorporate several different communication mediums, including advertising (online and offline), public relations, content marketing and, importantly, social media. Social media was built on the premise of improving communication, which is why it has proven itself to be a key player in any IMC plan.

4 ways to integrate social media into your integrated marketing communications plan

Social media has gained major ground in the marketing world in recent years, becoming a vital communication channel, and a valuable source of customer intel and data. Here are 4 ways social media can be integrated into your IMC plan:

1) Use social media for market research

An integrated marketing communications plan must include a qualitative and quantitative market research section. These sections provide information about who your target audience is and guides your strategy and tactics. Gathering data for these sections can be difficult, tedious, and expensive. That’s where social media comes in handy. Social networks house an abundance of social media data that can be used to uncover detailed information about your target audience. You can also pose focus group-like questions to gather qualitative data.

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2) Use social media to drive public relations

In the past, when news broke, public relation pros would have to send emails, faxes, and make phone calls in order to let reporters know that their client was available to make a comment. With social media readily and easily available, that process has been drastically improved. Speed and relevance is key in PR, and with social media you are able to get a comment out within minutes of news breaking. It’s important that your sources are connected to their audience, and that audience lives on social media.

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3) Use social media to advertise

Advertising has changed drastically in the past 5 years. If your advertising strategy and budget doesn’t include social media, now is the time to change that. Seriously. In the short amount of time social media advertising has been around, it has proven to be the best bang for your advertising buck. With the ability to specifically target your audience, easily measure your social media advertising ROI, and quickly make changes to your ads, it’s no surprise that advertising on social media is earning an ever-growing chunk of advertising budgets.

4) Use social media analytics to report on your integrated marketing communications plan

There are many different ways you can report on your IMC plan, but with the rise of social media analytics tools, it’s important you also include the data found in these tools. Pull data on how many people you reached, how many people went to your website via your social media content, and understand what kind of communication resonates (and doesn’t resonate) with your audience.

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