Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey

On July 21, 2016, we hosted our second Hootsuite Social Breakfast of the year at the Ham Yard Hotel right by Piccadilly Circus in London. The “Customer Experience: Driving Success Through Social” seminar was standing-room only as delegates heard from two keynote speakers and a panel of experts.

Hosted by Susan Perry, Hootsuite’s director of global marketing, the event uncovered how the customer experience is about more than just customer service. It is the culmination of all experiences the customer has with a brand, starting with when they first discover the product or service. And at the root of this experience lies emotion and personalization.

Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

The morning’s discussions focused on how brands can unlock business value from social media. There were four key points.

1. The age of the customer

With some excellent—and sometimes outrageous—real-life examples, Susan Perry set the scene for the morning’s discussion by stressing how “brands must strive to deliver an exceptional customer experience in every situation possible, no matter what that situation is.”

We are now undoubtedly in the “age of the customer” where a great customer experience is what sets brands apart and give them a competitive edge. “Eighty percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 percent four years ago,” according to Gartner. This is more than adding value, it is about sparking an emotional connection with a brand. Today’s empowered buyers demand a quick, seamless, and transparent buying experience.

Thanks to the key digital transformation trends brought on by social media, the rise of mobile, and the expectation of real-time communications, the age of the customer is reshaping marketing and sales strategies. It means there is no go-to-market strategy anymore—it is now go-to-customer.

As Perry explained during her presentation: “Ninety of young adults are using social and, with the rise of mobile, they’re always connected.  This has caused the expectation of ‘real-time’ – suddenly people are expecting immediacy from brands, friends and their digital community. This cultural shift has created a new ‘Generation C’—the Generation Connected concept centers around everyone who is digitally connected. They’re not defined by age, income or education, but by their digitally connected lifestyle.  This group is really focused on transparency and demand immediacy – money is no longer a metric of success; instead the size and influence of their online presence is the new currency. Most interesting, they’re no longer trusting their friends and family for advice about products or services. They’re trusting their online community which includes not just like-minded people but experts in particular areas, and they can get their opinions straight away. This Generation C is actively shaping corporate culture and expectations.”

Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Consequently, people are not picking up the phone to call brands and ask questions, raise issues, or make complaints anymore. They are communicating on their terms and at their convenience, and they expect immediate responses and resolutions. This is nothing new in the world of social customer service. But many brands are failing their customers’ expectations.

Brenda O’Connell, director of business development for Twitter EMEA, explained it well: “Over the past two years, we’ve seen a 2.5-times increase in the volume of people Tweeting to brands and service accounts. What we are also seeing is that many brands do not respond to these Tweets. So many brands are still not engaged or not mature as far as social customer service is concerned.”

Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Brands can significantly enhance their ability to provide an excellent customer experience by trusting and empowering their employees with social media too. Having a social-savvy workforce is a key ingredient for businesses seeking to successfully master digital transformation.

2. The go-to-customer strategy

There are four pillars of good customer experience that brands need to adhere to if they hope to establish a coherent go-to-customer strategy:

  1. Strategy
  2. Process
  3. Technology
  4. People

With changing times and technologies, customers are becoming better educated about products and services that interest them through their own research. As customers become accustomed to serving themselves, they also have much higher demands for sales associates. Customer-facing employees must feel empowered to take on this challenge.

Likewise, organizations need to ensure that the right people are on the front line, with the training and motivation to succeed during these decisive moments. They can’t miss a thing in this fast-moving environment—whether it be an opportunity to delight customers or capture sales.

Fundamental to the go-to-customer approach is having the willingness and the ability to put the customer first.

To do this successfully, brands need to accept that they are not in control of the conversation. They cannot (and should not) dictate where, when, or how social engagements take place. By researching, analyzing, and segmenting their audience across the various social networks, they will be able to understand where their customers are active. “Know your customer” is a business adage that’s been around a very long time, but it has never been more apt than today.

Kellogg’s EMEA’s head of social media, Clare Kleinedler, explains: “Creating immersive experiences in the right platform is vital for brands—but you have to make sure you’ve got that balance of being in the space that they’re in without encroaching on their space.”

Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Effectively adopting this strategy relies on treating individuals within a target audience as a human being, not a number.

Justin Clark, Transport for Greater Manchester’s head of social media, articulated why: “I don’t like the word ‘customers.’ It’s people like you, people like me. They could be late for work, on the platform in the rain waiting for their tram to arrive—something we can all relate to. Have some sympathy and put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel? Talk to people the way you would like to be spoken to. And remember: they’re not customers, they’re people.”

Brands now have the ability to identify and influence new audiences on their terms in a non-intrusive manner, as Paolo Valenziano, head of digital for Bank of England, explains: “We are able to use social media to reach out to and engage with a younger demographic that we wouldn’t normally or traditionally reach via TV, PR, or other traditional communications channels.”

3. The power of emotion

The customer experience can take place over many weeks and across multiple channels—online and offline. Along the journey, a customer can go from frustration and dissatisfaction to delight and gratitude for having an issue resolved.

Emotions are powerful, and tapping into them can be a challenge, particularly when faceless text-based messages can easily be misconstrued. As such, visual content has been the vanguard of businesses seeking to add more value and context to the customer experience.

But the rise of GIFs on social has provided a fresh and emotive way for brands to communicate with their target audiences. GIFs provide context, tone, and meaning that words alone cannot possibly convey. And they do so in a couple of seconds. They’re easy for the customer to digest, understand, and react to.

4. Rapid personalized engagements

Respond quickly and authentically. This may be obvious to some, but some brands struggle with this concept. Compounding the challenge, only three percent of conversations about a brand on Twitter are tagged with the brand’s Twitter handle. It’s important for businesses monitor to brand mentions on social media—including unbranded mentions as well as common misspellings and abbreviations of company or product names.

Justin Clark, head of social media at Transport for Greater Manchester, sums up the process nicely: “In our customer care, social is impacting how we handle traditional comms—we are actively going out there to find customer issues, help resolve them and using the intelligence gained from social to improve future services.”

It is no surprise that the most effective engagements on social media are when a customer’s opinion (negative or otherwise) is identified by a brand and responded to despite the brand not being tagged or notified directly by the individual. This shows the customer that the brand cares about their experience and wants to help. More often than not, these types of interactions help convert a negative situation into a positive one.

Brenda O’Connell, director of business development for EMEA at Twitter, explains it well: “We see two steps in the customer relationship. The first and basic step is acknowledging your customers by responding to them when they reach out to you for support. Just by simply responding you can in many cases take potentially negative contacts and flip them into positive ones. The second and equally important step is answering questions, resolving issues, and delivering great quality end to end customer service consistently on Twitter. Brands who engaged in both of these steps and are great at customer service on Twitter see higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased sales opportunities”

Experts Weigh in on the Importance of Social Along the Customer Journey | Hootsuite Blog

Sean Smith, head of account management for EMEA at Brandwatch added: “One of the great things about Twitter is that you have a lot of specific information—what was tweeted, where from, who by and when. Response times have therefore become a huge metric in businesses. Bots and artificial intelligence tools can automatically respond to customer enquiries while also allowing tweaking and personalization, which reduces response times and frees up a lot of time to deal with more significant issues and complaints.  However, brands must balance social authenticity with speed of response through listening and reacting accordingly and in a personalized manner.”

Primark used GIFs to combine humor and user generated content to drive engagement for their Ultimate Christmas Jumper campaign.

It started with Primark making their own ultimate Christmas jumper, which included a built-in snow machine. Then, using How To videos, Primark encouraged people to customize their own jumpers, such as an edible jumper. On Christmas Jumper Day itself, they asked fans to share their own creations with Primark’s “Mystic Mother Christmas” (#mysticmotherchristmas) who would respond in real-time with a personalized psychic reading or a piece of fun shareable content.

The GIFs trended globally on Giphy and also trended on Facebook Messenger for a whole week. Influencers and celebrities also received the Mystic Mother Christmas psychic skills.  The end result was real-time personalized engagement that got everyone talking—from grannies to One Direction, everyone was wearing Primark’s festive jumpers: Primark received over four mentions per minute and 246 mentions per hour.

What this means for social brands

The opportunities for brands to deliver an exceptional customer experience are great. To actually succeed, brands need to always ask themselves: “What do my customers want?” And they must accept that any individual could change their mind at any moment.

Sean Smith, head of account management EMEA for Brandwatch, sums up the process: “Ultimately, you’ve got this huge amount of social information that you have to help brands to analyze, segment, and push to different areas of the business to act upon. Regarding customer service, when people complain to a brand through a social channel they are engaging with you so you have got to respond.”

Or, as Paolo Valenziano, head of digital at Bank of England, put it: “Using Twitter and not responding is like picking up the phone and not speaking.”

Different organizations may have their own definitions of what customer experience means, but the Harvard Business Review succinctly describes it as “the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company.” Brands must bear this in mind throughout the social journey of each and every individual person that is interacting with their brand on any level.

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3 Ways to Build Your Online Community Through Offline Experiences

There’s nothing more frustrating than hitting a plateau on social media. You stop gaining new followers as quickly as you once did. You craft what you believe to be a hilarious yet relevant post only to watch it sadly sit on your timeline with zero likes or replies. You start scrambling to come up with new tactics to get things moving again but feel like you’ve exhausted every avenue.

Sometimes the best place to look for inspiration is literally right outside the window. There’s no denying that the internet is a magical place. But another great place, full of opportunity and excitement, is the real world. Creating offline experiences for your followers can make your online relationships stronger by giving them deeper roots that exist beyond a screen.

These ideas—hosting events, providing experiences, sending out swag—are by no means new ideas. In fact, they’re pillars of traditional marketing strategies that many businesses have been using for decades. What we’re looking at instead is how you can use these traditional marketing activities to specifically strengthen your online communities and boost your social media presence, while benefitting your business in the process.

1. Host an event for your followers

Twitter’s core function is connecting people to one another, anywhere, any time. Hosting an event that helps turn these online connections into offline relationships is a good way to provide value for your followers and deepen their emotional connection to your brand.

Depending on the size of your social communities, you can either host a meetup open to all of your followers on social media or make it a network-specific event like a Tweetup or an Instameet if you’re looking to focus your social efforts on one in particular.

If your business operates in multiple locations try to organize regional events if possible, or empower your customers to organize them on your behalf. We do this with our Hootups, which are free events, organized by Hootsuite users, for social media enthusiasts around the world. These events offer our users a way to position themselves as leaders within their local communities, while offering people a fun way to network, explore, and learn about social media and the Hootsuite platform.

How to make it benefit the business

Make it interactive

Adding an interactive element that’s reflective of your brand, product, or service will make your event more valuable and memorable for your followers. For example, a grocery store could organize a Tweetup hosted by an expert chef that teaches people how to make a recipe using ingredients found in-store. Once the dishes have been made, the store could post photos of them on Twitter, share the recipe, and encourage the rest of their followers who weren’t in attendance to try it at home and post photos of their own completed dishes.

Give ‘em something to talk about

To help increase brand awareness and gain new followers on social, your event needs to include something compelling enough to make people want to talk about it. It could be anything from a special guest speaker to shiny balloons that spell out your event’s hashtag (seriously, those things are always a big hit). There should be something that either offers people an irresistible photo opportunity or a way to make their friends jealous about missing out.

2. Provide real-life experiences

If you don’t have the time or the resources to host your own event, it can be just as effective to reward your followers by giving them access to other offline experiences. Something as simple as giving away tickets to a conference, trade show, concert, sports game, or another event that’s relevant to your brand will let your followers know that you’re on social to add value to their lives and that following you comes with perks.

How to make it benefit the business

Surprise and delight with your own product or service

One of the most well known examples of this is from 2011, when a man jokingly tweeted about wanting a steak from Morton’s Steakhouse waiting for him when he landed at the airport. Morton’s Steakhouse responded by doing exactly that; an employee met him at the airport (in a tux) with a full steak dinner.

3 Ways to Build Your Online Community Through Offline Experiences | Hootsuite Blog
Image via Gizmodo.

You don’t need to start hand delivering expensive steak dinners at airports to surprise and delight your followers. Even the smallest offline gesture can make a big impact in your online relationships.

Uncovering opportunities to create unexpected offline moments like this for your followers is easy. Just set up a search stream in Hootsuite and you can monitor any and all mentions of your brand on Twitter, whether they include your handle or not, use a hashtag, or even spell your company’s name wrong. Here’s an example of a search query you could use (just replace “Hootsuite” with your brand name):

(@hootsuite OR #hootsuite OR hootsuite OR “Hoot suite”) -RT lang:en

By including “-RT” and “lang:en” you’ll be excluding Retweets from showing up in the search results and only seeing Tweets in English. Feel free to change or remove those if you wish.

For more content like this, check out our free social media education platform Hootsuite Academy

You can also set up a search stream to look for opportunities to surprise and delight someone even if they don’t mention your brand directly. For example, if you work for a cafe, you could set up a search stream for the phrases “need coffee” or “want coffee” to find people who might appreciate the precious gift of caffeine. By clicking on the arrow icon in the search query field, you can filter the results by location and only see posts from people near your cafe.

3. Run contests and giveaways

Contests are a reliable way of attracting new followers on social media and strengthening the emotional connection they have with your business. Sending out prizes through the mail along with a handwritten note saying congratulations is an easy way of turning the online connection your followers have with your brand into a tangible experience.

How to make it benefit the business

Use branded swag as prizes

Whether it’s a notebook, coffee mug, or t-shirt with your logo on it—swag is easy to produce and loved by everyone. You’ll often see people post photos of the prizes they win on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, making branded swag an easy way to reward your followers and increase your brand awareness at the same time. Just make sure your swag is high quality. Nobody is going to proudly display their collection of cheap ballpoint pens that ran out of ink after one use.

Combine online and offline experiences

For a business looking to increase foot traffic, try organizing a scavenger hunt that uses social media to offer clues to real world locations that your followers must get to in order to win. For example, the Orlando City Soccer Club hid three pairs of tickets around the city and used Periscope, Twitter, and Instagram to offer clues and instructions on how fans could find them.

Whether you’re organizing an event, monitoring social media to find real-life engagement opportunities, or running a giveaway, Hootsuite can help ensure the success of your community-building efforts both online and offline. Try it free today.

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Google launches imported call conversions

If the internet killed the phone call, the smartphone has revived it.

While more and more business is conducted without human interaction, there are still times customers need to reach a business by phone and mobile click-to-call is on the rise.

According to data from BIA/Kelsey, calls to US businesses from smartphones will hit 162 billion in the next three years, a jump of nearly 75% since 2015.

For businesses that derive revenue in some way from those phone calls, attribution can be a challenge.

Those using adding a phone number to their Google AdWords ads or running call-only campaigns have up until now been able to track conversions in a rudimentary fashion only.

Specifically, Google’s conversion tracking has enabled advertisers to track when AdWords ads result in calls of a minimum length.

adwords number

But recognizing that this offers a limited view of conversions, Google has announced imported call conversions, a new feature that allows advertisers to import call data so that they can attribute detailed conversion data, such as revenue generated, back to the calls generated by their AdWords campaigns.

As Amit Agarwal, Google’s senior product manager for Mobile Search Ads, explained:

“You can also distinguish between various types of customer actions that you may value differently. For example, the travel advertiser might assign revenue amounts to different call types like new bookings, rate requests, service calls, and customer upsells to a larger trip package.”

The data from imported call conversions can be used with Google’s target return on ad spend (ROAS), an automated bidding strategy that is designed to help advertisers realize an average return on ad spend that they specify across all of their campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

To import call conversions, advertisers must minimally supply a phone number, call start time and call length. Custom conversion events can be defined, and for each, advertisers can specify an optional conversion time, conversion value and conversion currency.

Already, Google says advertisers using imported call conversions are using the data to realize significant gains in their campaigns.

Insurance provider Nationwide, for instance, says that “since including imported call conversions into campaign optimization, we’ve been able to increase spend on top-performing, call-driving terms by nearly 3x. This has even helped us identify new keyword expansion opportunities from search queries we wouldn’t have otherwise found without increasing our investment backed by imported calls data.”

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Images: three optimisation tips to help speed up your site

x-men-apocalypse-quicksilver-evan-peters

People like fast websites and so does Google.

In fact, your website’s speed is a ranking factor in Google search engine results.

If your site loads quickly, it’s more likely to appear when people search for your brand. This along with the knowledge that a fast site provides a better user experience (UX), means that a faster website can lead to higher conversions.

If your website isn’t loading as quickly as you’d like, it’s very likely that your images are to blame.

Here are a few common mistakes people make regarding optimising images for their website.

Images are too big

Many marketers and publishers like to use big, high-resolution images on their site, believing that these images will provide a better user experience.

The problem is that high-res images often have a very large file size, and take a long time to load, especially when there are multiple images on the same web page.

We’ve seen many publishers uploading images in the range of 2Mb to 5Mb in their blog or content posts. This image size is way too large for the web, and is one of the most common mistakes that slows down websites.

If your image is larger than 500kb, something might be wrong, and the image could be compressed.

Before you upload new images to your web page or blog post, remember these tips:

  • Before you upload any image, double-check the file size (right click the image, and choose properties)
  • Keep image files sizes below 500kb (and below 100kb if possible)
  • There are many online tools that can help you compress your images to get a smaller file size, such as io, CompressJPG, and TinyPNG.
  • If you use Photoshop to prepare your images, keep an eye on the dimensions and make sure the DPI is set to 72dpi (Image/Image Size) and remember to ‘Save for Web’ in order to control the final outputted file size.
  • Convert your images to the proper file types. In most cases, you’ll want to use JPG. However, if your image uses transparency (such as an image with a “see through” background) you’ll need to use PNG. There are some rare cases when GIF is best, but, when in doubt, always use JPG.

A specific example: An exclusive online designer footwear brand uses a lot of large banners and products images on its fashion site that dragged the Google PageSpeed score down to just 20/100.

We created a daily cron job (automated task that runs daily) to automatically resize big images down to smaller web standards, while maintaining a good quality.

In the screenshot below, we reduced the file size of an image from 1.3MB to only 142KB.

metallics webpage

reduce page speed chart

Simply by reducing image file size, we increased the Google PageSpeed score from 20/100 to 58/100.

Auto-scaling images

Another common mistake with images, is auto-scaling large images so they display smaller than they really are.

Doing this is often more convenient for the developer and content creators, but can really slow down a website.

For example, a big photo banner in a post might also be used as a small thumbnail elsewhere on the site.

The developer, rather than creating multiple versions of the image (e.g. 1000×425 for the banner and 64×64 for a side column), uses code to auto-scale the same big image to display as a small thumbnail. So a big image is being loaded unnecessarily. This shortens development time, but the page speed pays the price.

Not to mention, auto-scaled images can end up looking distorted because they’ve been stretched with code. For example, the thumbnail below is auto-scaled from 1000×425 pixels down to 64×64 pixels, and becomes distorted.

distorted thumbnail

reduce distortion on thumbnail

Keep an eye out for times when the same image is used many times on your site. If your site requires 12 different size variations used in 12 locations (something like 25×25, 40×40, 200×200, 658×258, 56×56, 64×64, 92×92, 150×156, 110×110, 160×160, and 180×180) that’s probably too many, and you might want to limit that down to less than four.

Then create a separate image for each different size, and load the correctly-sized image version rather than auto-scaling large images to look smaller than they really are.

Lack of image caching

Even if you use proper image compression, and serve properly-scaled images, a page that’s very image-heavy can still take a long time to load. Since images are static content, a great way to speed up the load time is to use CDN caching.

Caching (pronounced “cashing”) is the process of storing data in a temporary storage area called a cache. For example, you’ve probably noticed that a website you’ve visited in the past will load more quickly than a site you’ve never been to. This is because the visited website is cached by your computer.

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers that delivers cached content (such as images) from websites to users, based on the geographic location of the user.

For example, if you’re in New York, and you’re looking at a website from India, you can load the images from a server that’s actually in New York, rather than loading images from halfway around the world.

A site using CDN caching can deliver images and other static content much faster, especially in peak traffic time, because images are not loaded directly from the web server, but from a cached server with much faster speed.

On top of this, a CDN also helps you serve more visitors at the same time. If your site experiences a sudden or unexpected spike in traffic, a CDN can keep your site functioning effectively.

Some of our favorite CDN providers are CloudFare, Akamai CDN, Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, and CDN77.

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How The Telegraph’s SEO strategy led to a Brexit traffic boost

The EU referendum has delivered a nice traffic boost for the UK’s newspaper websites, according to ABC figures released this week.

Interest in the referendum was massive in June, and spiked on June 24th, the day after the referendum. Yes, that’s the same day that searches for ‘what is the EU?’ and ‘what does brexit mean?’ spiked.

eu referendum

This delivered a massive boost for newspaper sites in general, but especially The Telegraph and Guardian.

The Telegraph’s growth was bigger (up 20% month to month) than the rest, and I’m betting this was down (at least in part) to some smart SEO work from The Telegraph’s team.

Here’s the growth figures:

UK unique users, June vs May: 

  • Telegraph up 20% MOM
  • Guardian up 14%
  • Mail Online, no change.  
  • Sun up 5%
  • Mirror up 2.9%

Global uniques, June vs May: 

  • Telegraph up 21%
  • Guardian up 9%
  • Mail Online up 5%
  • Sun up 12%
  • Mirror up 5%.

The Guardian and Telegraph are two of the more ‘serious’ newspaper sites (The Times’ paywall means it doesn’t figure here), which in part explains how they benefitted most from a news-event related spike.

By contrast, The Sun (not a serious source of news) was one of the few sites that didn’t experience a post-Brexit lift. The spike you can see comes after the 24th, and is from the Dream Team football app, rather than anything news related.

Perhaps, given that The Sun was very pro-Brexit, to the extent of not reporting any possible negatives, web users didn’t trust it as a reliable source of information.

Indeed, when the Sun did talk about the negatives post-Brexit, readers suddenly wondered why they hadn’t been told this before.

The Guardian’s growth

The Guardian reported its strongest month ever with more than 1 billion pages views for the first time in a calendar month, and a record 167 million monthly uniques.

In addition, thanks to content such as its live Brexit blog, itself the most popular article on the site ever, with 10m+ uniques, The Guardian enjoyed its highest day’s traffic ever.

brexit blog

It attracted more than 17m uniques and 77m pageviews on June 24, the day the referendum results were announced.

The Guardian does a lot of things well in terms of SEO, and there’s no doubt this contributed to these figures.

The Telegraph’s growth

The Guardian figures were impressive, but The Telegraph outstripped them in terms of month on month growth.

In charts tweeted by The Telegraph’s Director of Digital Media Malcolm Coles, we can see the Brexit effect:

I suspect than a strong SEO strategy has much to do with The Telegraph’s impressive performance. This strategy put it in a strong position to benefit from extra traffic around such a big news event.

It regularly has a prominent feature in Google News results, while it ranks well for key topics thanks to a well-executed strategy which includes effective internal linking and landing/hub pages for key topics.

For example, this is from a post on Mail Online’s strategy, showing how effectively the Telegraph used linking. It shows the performance of its ‘David Cameron’ page:

Telegraph-David-Cameron-consistent-performance

This page performs consistently as The Telegraph links the rest of its Cameron content back to this page, which indicates to the search engines that this is the page to show for that phrase.

6.Telegraph-David-Cameron-article-e1453731877608

This means that, instead of having several articles on the them competing against each other leading to fluctuation in search rankings, it has one dedicated hub page.

The Telegraph appears to have repeated this approach for the EU referendum, with a hub page for the issue. As I search this morning, it’s the highest-ranked newspaper site for the term.

telegrpah eu ref page

Thanks to this ground work and consistent linking, when the traffic spiked on June 24, The Telegraph was in a strong position to attract search traffic.

eu referendum

In addition, The Telegraph has been very smart in picking up traffic for informational searches around events like the referendum, or Euro 2016 – where the events are, the start times, where you can watch them, and so on.

For example, this page comes up for searches around the Tour de France today, providing information on stage start times, TV coverage etc.

TDF telegraph

This content provides useful information for searchers which directly answers some informational queries, but also helps to showcase the rest of the site’s cycling coverage to help it attract extra users.

It seems that this strategy has been applied across a range of news and sporting events, and is a great tactic to take advantage of ‘who, what, where’ searches.

I don’t have detailed data on where The Telegraph’s month on month growth came from, but I’m betting a smart SEO strategy enabled it to take full advantage of the extra interest in news around the Brexit vote.

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Why Your Facebook Videos Need to Be Optimized for Silence

We all know that heart-stopping moment. You’re casually scrolling through your social media feed in public when all of a sudden, your finger slips and Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” starts blasting out of your phone. The heads of hundreds of people snap towards you accusingly. You didn’t mean to tap for sound, but the inevitable happened. Gone is the joyful naïveté of the life you were living before. You’re now living the consequences of an accidental soundblast.

Recognizing the way the blood can drain from your face in a moment like this, Facebook is encouraging marketers to shift towards creating silent videos. Digiday estimates that about 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched with the sound-off, so through adding features such as auto-captioning—which allows video creators to add captions without leaving the site—Facebook is making the process as easy as possible.

If you’re wondering how to optimize video for silent playback on Facebook, the following guide can help you out. You’ll never have to put your audience members through the excruciating pain of accidentally revealing their love of 90’s power ballads again.

How to optimize your Facebook videos for silent playback 

My favorite idea—as someone who falls closer to the introvert end of the personality scale—is that you don’t need sound to convey a powerful message. We’ve heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, and the move towards visual content emphasizes this point.

So much of our media consumption is done on mobile and in public. That means that unless you have earphones in—or a complete lack of shame and personal awareness—you won’t watch video with sound on.

Facebook found that 80 percent of people “react negatively towards both the advertiser and Facebook itself” when video ads play loudly on their Newsfeed. As marketers, this is a great reminder to pay close attention to consumer behaviour. Ask yourself:

  • How is your audience interacting with social media content?
  • What captures their attention?
  • What drives them away?

Once you know this information, you’ll be able to create content to fit within these parameters. The following tips will help you do this most effectively.

Add captions

According to Facebook’s internal testing, adding captions to video increased view times by an average of 12 percent. This could be due to the fact that captions can add context to a video without the need for sound, or because captions help convey a message in the clearest way possible (when done right). Although there is a widespread belief that video advertising content needs sound to be effective, if people are avoiding your video because it has sound, you aren’t exactly enticing customers.

To take advantage of these benefits, Facebook has made adding captions easy for content creators. As mentioned above, an automatic captioning feature has been added to work with the silent autoplay function already in place for Facebook videos. Videos play on a users’ News Feed silently by default, so adding captions is a surefire way to get your audience’s attention as quickly as possible.

Previously advertisers could only add captions to their Facebook video ads by adding their own caption files. Facebook explains that now you “can choose to have captions added automatically. Our new automated captioning tool generates captions for video ads and delivers them to the advertiser within the ad creation tool to review, edit, and save to their video ad.” Marketers’ branded videos will get two lines of captions for free in each video—a solid amount to get you on your way to making more effective content.

You want to do everything possible to increase your video view times, so I recommend using Facebook’s guide to adding captions as a resource.

Make every second count

It’s difficult to turn anywhere in 2016 without consuming some sort of media. Whether it’s a billboard on the side of the road, a bus advertisement, on social media or a mobile ad, it’s no surprise that North Americans consume an average of eight hours of media per day. While a stunning number in itself, this flood of media means that marketers and advertisers need to really work to stand out from the competition.

As Facebook’s ad products marketing developer Graham Mudd told Adweek, “In a feed-based environment, people are in control of what they consume. So, unless you focus on earning that attention, really through relevance, you’re not going to succeed as much as you would otherwise.” With Facebook video, success is measured through views and view length. In order to be counted as a view, a video must be watched for at least three seconds. As a marketer, you don’t have much time at all to grab the audience’s attention.

Facebook found that 65 percent of audience members who watch those crucial first three seconds will continue watching for at least 10 seconds, and 45 percent will watch for at least 30 seconds. This can mean the difference between your message getting across or getting lost in the shuffle. While there is no magical formula for creating videos that quickly hook your audience’s attention, there are some tactics that will increase your chances:

  • Show captions, logos, and products within the first three seconds of the video. Nobody wants to be guessing or trying to figure out exactly what it is that they are watching.
  • Choose an alluring but accurate video thumbnail image and title to draw in viewers.
  • Use strong imagery, on-brand colors, and consistent themes to help captivate and delight.
  • Create interest through lifestyle and product shots, recognizable spokespeople and influencers, and/or scenes with action and vivid backgrounds.

Regardless of whether your Facebook videos have sound or not, the best way to capture your audience’s attention, and make the most of every second, is with quality content.

Design with silence in mind

To make the best Facebook videos, whether paid ads or organic content, you need to have a clear plan in mind. Knowing that 85 percent of Facebook video views are played with the sound off, it’s important that you’re designing your content with silence in mind.

Facebook explains that “in one study of Facebook video ads, 41 percent of videos were basically meaningless without sound.” This means that if you’re thoughtfully creating your Facebook video content with silence in mind, you’re going to be ahead of your competition who have failed to do this. Create meaning through other video aspects, such as:

  • Clearly showing captions, logos, and products
  • Telling a story through visuals such as animations and graphics
  • Sharing simple information in an easy-to-read format
  • Providing basic brand-relevant step-by-step instructions (such as a hair company providing guided hairstyle tutorials)
  • Entertaining imagery

Facebook shares the case study of Seda Sunsilk, who wanted to attract a young female audience in Brazil with product video tutorials. These Facebook videos used text overlays and captions, including opening questions to immediately grab the audience’s attention. The videos then had live step-by-step demonstrations with clear and simple onscreen text sharing how viewers can easily achieve the looks with the Seda products.

The campaign saw the brand receive a lift in unaided brand awareness and brand favorability. And the average view time? A whopping 21 seconds.

Like the return to vinyl records, macramé, and Pokemon, silent videos have great power in today’s culture. We’re a mobile-first society, and our media consumption habits reflect this. Marketers know that capturing the attention of a viewer can be the biggest hurdle, so the above tactics can help you find success without making a single sound.

Save time and increase engagement by scheduling and managing your brand’s Facebook videos using Hootsuite. Try it free today. 

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M-commerce: has the mobile web finally won?

comscore_m-web_v_app_370-360x260

Not only are more smartphone users purchasing with their mobile devices, but more people are choosing to make those purchases via mobile web rather than via mobile apps.

These figures come from the latest European data from ComScore (July 2016), and echoes similar findings in a survey of US shoppers by Forrester (August 2015).

This underscores the imperative of striving for excellence in mobile web commerce, not just to facilitate purchases on the small device; but also to help drive onsite (instore, in-restaurant etc.) purchases – in which, we will also see, mobile web plays a critical role.

However, while web will be the route to serving the majority of your mobile customers, this does not necessarily prohibit investment in a mobile app.

Those retailers which have a sufficiently large core of extremely loyal and very regular mobile shoppers who will download, retain and use a mobile app, may be able to justify the very significant expense of developing, promoting and maintaining a separate mobile channel.

Let’s take a look at those numbers…

In Q1 2016, the proportion of smartphone users in the EU5 countries who made a purchase online was:

  • 33.8% in the UK
  • 28.3% in Italy
  • 19.2% in Germany
  • 14.5% in Spain
  • 13.5% in France

This is according to research by ComScore (July 2016). Smartphone penetration in these countries ranges from 69% in Italy to 81% in France.

In every one of these five countries, more people purchased via mobile web than mobile app.

The number of smartphone users purchasing by mobile web was only 1% higher than by app in the UK, but was 8% more in Germany, 22% more in Italy, 23% more in Spain and 25% more in France, ComScore’s data found.

comscore_m-web_v_app_shopping_cz25

The mobile customers to the website and app of Eurostar, the high-speed rail link between London and Paris or Brussels tally with ComScore’s stats.

Neil Roberts,  Head of Digital at Eurostar:

“We see about 5% higher traffic on mobile web vs app – so very similar trend. Although conversion tends to be higher on the app, as you would imagine as they are more engaged having committed to download the app.”

This isn’t just a European trend

A survey of US consumers conducted by Forrester/RetailMeNot (PDF) (August 2015), found that 43% of respondents had purchased by mobile browser in the previous quarter compared to just 30% who had purchased by app.

The important thing to note about the Forrester research is consumers don’t just prefer mobile web over apps for purchases, but for almost every retail-related activity.

This includes tasks that drive in-store purchases: locating a store; reading reviews; comparing prices; finding coupons; checking product availability; redeeming coupons; and checking out an instore promotion.

However much we celebrate the growth of online retail and the mobile share thereof, we should never forget that physical stores are still the dominant retail channel. In the US, physical stores still account for 90 percent of market share, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The tricky thing is how retailers attribute/credit those the mobile web for its valuable role in driving those in-store sales. [But this fascinating topic of cross-channel attribution will have to wait for a future column].

forrester_retailmenot_mweb_v_app_cz25

Do retailers see more traffic from mobile web over apps?

It’s difficult to get a broad picture as many retailers are secretive about their mobile sales, and particularly about the breakdown between app and web. We can only speculate why this might be!

But if the UK’s Shop Direct is a benchmark then mobile web attracts considerably more traffic.

Shop Direct is one of mobile’s big success stories. The online-only electricals to fashion retailer concentrated on steadily building its mobile web business, before expanding into developing mobile apps.

This is a strategy that appears to be paying dividends: 59% of the retailer’s £1.8bn annual sales now comes from mobile devices (that’s smartphone and tablet).

Sam Barton, head of user experience (UX) at Shop Direct, tells ClickZ:

“The MyVery app currently makes up around 10% of our demand from mobile devices. We launched the app on iOS at the end of 2014 and on Android in July 2015. It now has over 900,000 downloads, and allows us to engage and interact with our customers in new and innovative ways.”

very_web_app_cz25

Compared with Shop Direct, UK retailers as a whole have been slower to capitalize on the m-commerce opportunity, with one third of top retailers still without an m-commerce site. But retailers do appear to prioritize mobile web over mobile app.

According to Internet Advertising Bureau, (March 2015) 64% of the top UK retailers (measured on digital ad expenditure) have a transactional mobile site, while only 32% had a transactional app.

Mike Reynolds , mobile manager, IAB UK:

“It’s not easy for a brand to get some prime real estate, in the form of an app, on someone’s phone. They have to compete with social media, gaming and news brands etc. which get more traction as they tend to be used daily and are engrained in people’s mobile behavior.”

My understating is that retail apps tend to be used as a retention tool.

This means by their nature, they will have a smaller, more loyal, audience than mobile sites, which are more discoverable through mobile search and social media.

Don’t dump your apps plans just yet

Research from Criteo (Q4 2015 Report) suggests a different story to ComScore and Forrester.

It finds that apps account for 54% of mobile sales among its clients, ahead of mobile browser 46%.

app_web_m-com_criteo_cz25

So how do we explain this apparent anomaly?

Whereas ComScore and Forrester conducted surveys of consumers, Criteo’s research is based on companies that use its digital advertising services. It is unclear if this is representative of global ecommerce sales. Some of the stats are surprisingly high, including the finding that in the UK mobile is 50% of ecommerce sales.

Leaving these reservations aside. Criteo’s stats are based on numbers of transactions rather than unique users.

If accurate, then while more people use mobile web to shop, mobile app users buy more. A lot more: Criteo believes mobile app conversion rates are not just higher than mobile web, but higher than desktop also.

So why might apps deliver better conversions than mobile web? We can speculate several possible reasons:

  • As only a retailer’s loyalist customers will download your app, these are also likely to be the biggest spenders.
  • Purchasing on a retailer’s native apps is preferable to the retailer website. Retailers will often invest more in a) developing apps to deliver better features and personalization than online; b) promoting the app; and c) will offer exclusive features, promotions, pricing and products that are not available via other channels.
  • Retailers are able to drive more repeat purchases using in-app notifications (which until recently were only available in native apps).

The problem with apps

The thing about native apps is customers can only use them if they have been downloaded to their smartphone. Research by the PEW Research Centre (November 2015) found that 77% of US smartphone users download apps, of these 30% had downloaded less than 10 apps to their handset and a further 32% had downloaded less than 20.

Many apps going unused: only 16% used more than 10 apps on a regular basis.

The following graph shows the top 25 apps in the US, according to ComScore (September 2015). There no retailers in the top 10. One, Amazon, in the top 20. Three, Amazon, eBay and Walmart in the top 25.

Some of these apps come pre-installed, but it still well illustrates the monumental challenge faced by any retailer to find its app a space on a customer’s smartphone.

us_top_apps_comscore_cz25

This is well illustrated by the Forrester research, which finds that 60% of recipients had two or less retailer apps on their handset (21% had none).

retailer_apps_on_phone_forrester_cz25

Yoram Wurmser, analyst, eMarketer:

“Most people will only use an app for Amazon or their favorite retailer/s, say Sephora or Nordstrom. For most of their shopping, they’ll use the web, but the minority that use apps will be the best customers who are predisposed to buy often and with bigger baskets.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that most retailers should build an app. But if they have a dedicated customer base and a clear use case, it can make sense.”

Now let’s talk reach

For most retailers, commerce is a numbers game. Unlike publishers that earn money from ads, it doesn’t matter how long people hang-around, it’s about how many people pop in and how many products they walk away with (paid-for).

When it comes to numbers even for the biggest players, mobile web delivers lots more visitors than apps. The following ComScore (September 2015) graph isn’t commerce specific, it compares the top 1000 mobile web properties and the top mobile app properties in the US.

The mobile web audience is 2.5 times bigger and growing faster than apps.

comscore_mweb_apps_cz25

Action

The ComScore and Forrester research shows that customers are not just willing to use their smartphones to purchase but they are more likely to do so by mobile web than mobile app.

This underscores the imperative of striving for excellence in mobile web commerce, not just to facilitate purchases on the small device; but also to help drive onsite (instore, in-restaurant etc.) purchases.

Your competitive edge and route to better conversions will be delivering a mobile-first, user-centric m-commerce site that harnesses the best of the native app with all the accessibility and versatility of the mobile web.

Barbara Ballard, director of research, Radius:

“Don’t skimp on features for mobile web – people won’t want to download an app just to buy.”

Read the entire report here: DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning 

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Why your content and SEO strategy need to be joined up

There are some sites creating useful or interesting content, that are being let down by a lack of attention to SEO. 

In yesterday’s #semrushchat there was such an example, a site offering copywriting services, but one that seemingly needed to pay more attention to SEO.

The site was kreativ forditas, and had submitted itself for review by the semrushchat participants. I’m not going to detail the whole review, but a few SEO-related issues were flagged:

Some are quite easy to fix. For example, meta-descriptions can be added retrospectively and, though it’s not a ranking signal, it should help CTR.

The internal linking issue intrigued me, as the site had nofollowed 103 internal links, which just seems an odd thing to do. 

Looking at the site in more detail, it seems that at least some of the nofollowed internal links were to pages such as login pages, which don’t necessarily represent a missed opportunity. 

However, though the site had some interesting content around the practice of copywriting – content which should help it attract its target audience, and to help lift other pages on the site, it appears to have been created without much thought for SEO. 

copy blog

The site offers content creation, content critique and copywriting services. You would think the obvious think to do would be to link from these articles to the sales pages on the site, thus helping them rank for target terms. 

Indeed, a well-executed content strategy would use internal linking to consistently link to, for example, the copywriting sales page on the site in every mention of the keyword. This would give a strong signal to search engines that that page should be returned for searches on the term. 

Instead, very few of the articles have links at all, and those that do are generally linking to other articles. This means that most of the blog content on the site is doing very little to support the sales pages. 

Of course, some of this content may attract visitors to the site, but it’s doing very little to help the site’s search visibility. 

Another example of this is Millets, which I looked at in a recent post on optimising for searches around festival products – clothing, essential gear, tents etc. 

Its search performance is inconsistent, in part because it doesn’t use the content it creates to help with search visibility. 

millets seo

It has created some useful content around festivals, but isn’t linking to its product or category pages to help them perform more effectively for these searches. 

All Millets needs to do is to link consistently from the content to the landing pages to help them rank more effectively and consistently for target keywords. 

millets blog

It’s another example of a content strategy which hasn’t considered SEO enough. As I wrote in an older post, content marketing and SEO can work together very effectively. 

Content creation helps to achieve search goals, while an eye on SEO helps the content to perform more effectively and reach a wider audience. 

However, creating content in isolation without considering search simply means it’s unlikely to perform as well as it could.

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What are the most common on-page SEO issues and how to fix them?

semrush infographic

Appearing in the top organic listings of Google is increasingly like pouring a gallon of milk into a shot glass.

And the shot glass is already full of adverts, a bunch of maps, a broadsheet newspaper, a lengthy opinion piece about Taylor Swift and an Argos catalogue.

And oh look, now you’ve got milk all over the kitchen counter, but everyone’s just ignoring it as they’re too busy looking into the shot glass because all the information they need is right there.

So what can you do, apart from fetching a mop and bucket, stop wasting so much milk and learning to unpack bizarre opening metaphors?

Well it may surprise you to learn that many website owners are still struggling with basic SEO techniques. These are the technical, on-page habits that are easily addressable and take very little time to action, but can make a heck of a difference to your overall search ranking.

Excelling at these basic SEO skills can therefore put you ahead of the competition.

But which of the on-page techniques are still not being implemented correctly and what can you learn from this?

SEMrush has collected anonymous data on 100,000 websites and 450 million pages to determine the top SEO issues and it has published its results in this huge stat-filled infographic, which we’ll also republish at the bottom of this article.

But for now, here are the most common on-page, technical SEO issues that website owners are experiencing, along with links to our own guidance for addressing these issues.

Top 11 most common SEO issues

1. Duplicate content

According to SEMrush, 50% of analyzed web pages face duplicate content issues.

Although there isn’t a specific penalty against duplicate content, the problem arises when your similar webpages begin cannibalising each other for the same search positions and Google ends up filtering one at the expense of another, and this may not necessarily be the page you want to aee ranking.

This is where the rel=canonical attribute can help, by letting Google know exactly which duplicate page to rank.

For more information on this, check out: how and when to use canonical.

2. Missing alt tags and broken images

The research reveals that 45% of sites have images with missing alt tags and another 10% have broken images.

Alt tags are a way to accurately describe your images to search engines to make sure they’re indexed properly in image search, and therefore bring some extra traffic to your site.

alt-text example in wordpress

Broken images can cause the same issues as broken links by providing a poor user experience. One way to avoid this is to make sure you’re hosting images within your own media library, not on a third-party image host.

For more information, check out our guide on how to optimise your images for SEO.

3. Title tag issues

Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what any given page on your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible.

title tag in browser

SEMrush found that 35% of sites have duplicate title tags, 15% have too much text in the tag, 8% are missing them and 4% don’t provide enough text.

Here’s how you can fix all these issues: How to write title tags for SEO.

4. Meta descriptions

The meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content. The meta description will then appear under your page’s URL in the search results.

guide to primavera sound 2016 Google Search

The SEMrush research reveals that 30% of sites have duplicate meta descriptions and 25% of sites have no meta descriptions at all.

Here’s a guide on dealing with this problem: How to write meta descriptions for SEO.

5. Broken internal and external links

The research showed that 35% of sites had broken internal links that returned bad HTTP status codes (70% of which return a 4xx page not found code).

A further 25% of sites had broken external links, which can seriously impair your website’s authority.

You can learn how to check for crawl errors in our guide to Google Search Console and you can also read our best practice guide to internal linking for help.

6. Low text-to-HTML ratio

The research showed a warning of ‘low text-to-HTML ratio’ on 28% of sites analyzed.

According to SEMrush, this means that these sites contain proportionally more back-end HTML code rather than text that people can actually read. They recommend an acceptable lower limit beginning from 20%.

Here’s a thorough checklist of things to help lower your ratio according to Woorank:

  • Remove huge white spaces
  • Avoid lots of tabs
  • Remove comments in the code
  • Avoid tables.
  • Use CSS for styling and formatting
  • Resize your images
  • Remove any unnecessary images
  • Only use Javascript if required
  • Keep the size of your page under 300kb
  • Remove any hidden text that is not visible to people
  • Your page must always have some amount of plain text. Include easily readable – text with quality user information

7. H1 tag issues

It’s important to know the difference between H1 tags and title tags. The title tag appears in search results, whereas the H1 tag (normally your headline) is what visitors see on the page.

Of the sites analyzed, 20% had multiple H1 tags, 20% were missing H1 tags, and 15% had duplicate information in their title tag and H1.

You should ordinarily only use one H1 tag per web page and break up articles with plenty of h2 tags.

8. Low word count

Increasingly Google is ranking more in-depth articles over what it considers thin content. Of the websites crawled, 18% had a low word count on some pages.

Here’s a guide to evergreen content that can help you create nice in-depth webpages that sit at the top of Google and stay there.

9. Too many on-page links

The research reveals that 15% of sites have too many on-page links on some pages.

Having a maximum number of links on a page isn’t a problem as such, but cramming a page with unnatural links definitely is. After all, a cluttered page full of links can be a bad user experience, especially on mobile.

As SEMrush states, good SEO means having a natural link profile that includes relevant high quality links. Carry out a link audit for every page and get rid of the links that don’t provide any value to your readers or your SEO strategy.

10. Incorrect language declaration

SEMrush has found that 12% of websites have failed to include a language declaration stating the default language of the text in the page.

Language declaration is useful for translation and page display, and ensures that people using text-to-speech converters hear your content read in the correct dialect of their native language.

You can easily amend this in the International Targeting section of Search Console.

11. Temporary redirects

The research shows that 10% of websites analyzed contain temporary redirects.

According to SEMrush, a 302 redirect can cause search engines to continue to index an outdated page while ignoring the page you are redirecting it to.

Although Google’s John Mueller has stated its algorithm does not penalize for 302 redirects and the index will eventually treat a 302 as a 301 if it remains long enough.

But it is worth keeping in mind that a temporary 302 redirect won’t pass any link authority on to your preferred page, but a permanent 301 redirect will, so it’s best to avoid them.

And finally, here is the promised infographic from SEMrush…

11 most common SEO issues infographic

 

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Improve Your Content Curation Strategy with These 5 Tips

Content curation can be a critical part of a larger social media strategy. Instead of only focusing on creating great original content, there are big advantages to sharing content from outside sources, especially when you can add value to it.

What is content curation and why is it important?

The word “curate” means “to select, organize, and present, typically using professional or expert knowledge.” When applied to content, you become the expert in finding, evaluating, and sharing outside content in a compelling way. This usually manifests in the form of a blog post roundup, social media shares, or a newsletter of favorite links that support your own original content.

This approach may seem a little backwards: how can your audience pay attention and care about you if you’re sharing other people’s work? Simply put, there’s too much content out there to sift through. Instead, readers turn to sources they can count on to share quality, relevant content. And then they reward those sources with their gratitude and trust—and often, their business.

Why you should add value to the content you curate

There are numerous methods and tools that can help you curate content. But what is most important is recognizing the difference between passive and active curation.

Passive content curation is typically an automated or impulsive process that uses content aggregators to post on social media. For example, someone might connect an RSS feed to a social media scheduling tool and allow it to post links at scheduled intervals. This method helps you maintain a consistent posting schedule and may indeed share good quality content.

But curating just to have regular content often comes off as robotic or disingenuous. The challenge with this passive approach is that you are removed from the process, which means curation is simply pumping out content rather than build a relationship with your audience.

To make a stronger impact, think of curation differently: it is not a replacement for interaction, but rather a tool to spark conversations. #HootChat regular, Martin Lieberman, puts it this way:

Thinking about curation as an active process inserts your brand into the equation. It’s okay to use tools to automate the process so long as you are involved before and after content is shared. Remember, good curation doesn’t end with a shared link—take it one step further and engage.

5 tips for better content curation

Being involved in curation will help you maintain a strong presence in your industry. Here are five ways you can take curation a step further:

1. Spark conversations with your audience

Use curation as a springboard for discussions with your audience. When sharing outside content, include your own commentary alongside the link that will encourage a response. You can ask a question, provide feedback by addressing any questions posed by the author, or add additional insight. And don’t forget to reply to any responses you get.

Ramit Sethi, creator of “I Will Teach You,” demonstrated this perfectly on Facebook when he shared a New York Times article and asked his followers to reply with the specific techniques the interviewee used to stand out:

This encouraged participation and reinforced his own content that discusses those techniques.

2. Insert yourself into relevant conversations

There are plenty of opportunities where you and your brand could provide the perfect solution, answer a question, or simply engage with people who care, but you just haven’t found those conversations yet. Content discovery allows you to keep up with what’s happening in your industry so you can jump in on the conversations that would benefit from your insight.

If you’ve ever visited Quora, a popular platform where users ask and answer questions, you get the idea. You can apply this same concept by answering the “questions” that are posed throughout discovered content through comments or on social media.

Hootsuite found a perfect opportunity to tweet a clever response about a trending topic (in this case, Pokemon Go) while also reinforcing the importance and ease of completing their certification:

Now Hootsuite can stay top-of-mind, even while “catching them all.”

3. Build a connection with an influencer

When sharing outside content, it’s important to give credit to the original author by tagging them when possible. Take advantage of curation by establishing a relationship with influencers you admire. When sharing a particularly valuable piece of content, offer feedback, express your gratitude, or ask a question. This can lead to a response from the author that can easily turn into a longer conversation—so long as you are being sincere.

Pat Flynn of “Smart Passive Income” showed his support of teenage entrepreneur Eva Baker in a Facebook post:

It’s clear that he has taken the time to get to know her and really foster that relationship. And that could lead to some very cool collaborations in the future.

4. Become an early adopter of a new technology or methodology

Often times, curation tends to mean sharing viral content that everybody is already sharing. By taking a different approach and focusing on unearthing the hidden gems, you may find new topics that are worth looking into further.

If you find a product or a concept that works, start using it and then make it known. You may be an early adopter of the next big thing, which is a powerful position for a brand to be in.

For example, popular retail brand Everlane made a bold statement in November 2014 when they claimed Snapchat to be The “de facto social media channel” for their brand, even though the platform was largely untapped at the time. Needless to say, their early adoption paid off.

5. Inform the development of original content

Knowing what is already being addressed in your industry helps to illuminate the gaps where you and your brand can step in with your own created content. While searching for relevant content, take notice of the topics that are already being covered, how they are being covered, the mediums others are using, and what areas could use more development or a unique perspective.

Additionally, use discovered content to support your original content as citations and examples. This helps to build your credibility and hopefully garners those sources’ attentions and support.

Inbound Buzz podcast host Moby Siddique uses content discovery tool UpContent for ideation. He explains this process in an episode covering the Ultimate Content Creation Tools Used by Agencies and Pros.

With numerous ways to stay active with curation, there’s no reason to resort to passive methods that merely push content. Instead, be involved in the process and you will reap the many benefits of a loyal, engaged audience.

You can now add the content storage solutions you already use—including UpContent—directly to your Hootsuite dashboard.

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