How Brands Use Facebook 360 Video (And Why You Should Too)

As managing director of video marketing strategy agency, Hurricane, I have over 20 years’ experience creating engaging content, first for the BBC, and now for leading brands maximizing the opportunities of social media. In my opinion, now is the time to get ahead of the competition and add 360 degree content to your video strategy.

There is a lot of chatter about 360 video at the moment with everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Nicola Mendelsohn throwing their executive weight behind it. But for busy brand managers looking to put time and budget into the most effective areas, is this tech really the one to go for?

Well, let’s take a look at Facebook 360 which is a relatively new feature offering a great deal of potential for brand engagement. It allows brands to create immersive 360 degree video content in which they set the point of view, while users control the perspective with a VR headset or controls in their browser. Take this example promoting the Honda Civic at the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross which shows how visceral and immediate 360 marketing can be.

We dare you not to feel at least mildly thrilled by that. This video cuts rapidly enough that the novelty isn’t lost, and is part of an overall campaign surrounding a key event in Honda’s marketing calendar.

360 video—the next big thing?

Google has recently carried out a side-by-side trial of a 60 second 360 video ad and a standard format video as well as full-length versions. The ads ended in a specific, measurable call to action, were unlisted and unpromoted and only appeared through in-stream campaigns or peer-to-peer sharing.

They found some interesting results. While the 360 version had a lower view-through rate, it had a higher click-through rate, along with more views, shares and subscribes. There was a 46 percent higher view count of the full-length 360 video than on the standard full-length version. People who viewed the 360 video were more likely to share it copying the URL into messaging apps. As a result, the 360 ad was more cost-efficient as its cost-per-view was lower when organic and paid views were added together. People who do engage with 360 like it, as seen through their interaction with CTAs, engagement with the brand, and sharing with others.

When it comes down to it, 360 video is powerful because it combines two routes into immersion and engagement. The first-person exploration potential of Google Street View—still a powerful tool for wandering through familiar and unfamiliar places, nearly 10 years after launch—meets the emotional storytelling potential of an intimate smartphone-based video.

What makes 360 especially effective is that viewers (or perhaps ‘users’ is a more appropriate term) influence what they see and can take direct control of the narrative, or point of view. Psychological studies have shown that people feel more affinity to things that they control (part of the theory of the extension of personal self) and this programming of the human mind helps 360 connect on a deeper level than normal video.

So what exactly can brands do with 360 video?

At its most basic, 360 video allows brands to put viewers and users inside an experience—looking over the shoulder of a point-of-view character. This video by Frontline puts you in a rural village in South Sudan on the brink of famine.

Immersing viewers into the reality of daily life for people displaced by the war, surviving on food drops and U.N. support, it evokes a sense of realism and empathy that is difficult to ignore.

Meanwhile, this example from Google adds an almost game-like aspect to the video content, using perspective and movement to create a kind of puzzle—where is the camera, what is there to see, how can I move it to find out what’s happening in this scene?

This video demonstrates that 360 isn’t a gimmick. It has to be harnessed through creative filmmaking that encourages users to interact and offers some reward for exploring the 360 degree world it creates. By the time users have watched this through, they’ll know how to turn the camera so they can see the brand logo at the end.

How can brands get the most out of 360 video?

The key to success with 360 video is to make content that plays to the strengths of the tech, whilst not being overpowered by it. Start with the best practices of all video marketing: a focus on your core message, target audience, and visual strengths. From here, no matter what you create it will add to your brand story in the right way.

In addition, it’s important to think about how the content will be viewed. Facebook 360 works better with some phones than others; you can get started with any Android phone or tablet that’s come out in the last two years, but Apple devices are harder to pin down. Facebook claims anything newer than an iPhone 4S will work, but there are underlying issues with Apple’s code, including a long-running bug in Safari that prevents Facebook 360 videos from working in the browser.

360 is an exciting new tech among an ever-growing arsenal of tools for brands. Its key strengths are the depths of immersion and levels of engagement that it gives. It is certainly not for everyone, and it’s not for every brand, but it is worth considering and can really deliver results.

Use Hootsuite to upload, schedule, publish, share, and monitor your social videos from one platform. Try it free today.

Learn More

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How Brands Use 360 Video (And Why You Should Too)

As managing director of video marketing strategy agency, Hurricane, I have over 20 years’ experience creating engaging content, first for the BBC, and now for leading brands maximizing the opportunities of social media. In my opinion, now is the time to get ahead of the competition and add 360 degree content to your video strategy.

There is a lot of chatter about 360 video at the moment with everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Nicola Mendelsohn throwing their executive weight behind it. But for busy brand managers looking to put time and budget into the most effective areas, is this tech really the one to go for?

Well, let’s take a look at Facebook 360 which is a relatively new feature offering a great deal of potential for brand engagement. It allows brands to create immersive 360 degree video content in which they set the point of view, while users control the perspective with a VR headset or controls in their browser. Take this example promoting the Honda Civic at the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross which shows how visceral and immediate 360 marketing can be.

We dare you not to feel at least mildly thrilled by that. This video cuts rapidly enough that the novelty isn’t lost, and is part of an overall campaign surrounding a key event in Honda’s marketing calendar.

360 video—the next big thing?

Google has recently carried out a side-by-side trial of a 60 second 360 video ad and a standard format video as well as full-length versions. The ads ended in a specific, measurable call to action, were unlisted and unpromoted and only appeared through in-stream campaigns or peer-to-peer sharing.

They found some interesting results. While the 360 version had a lower view-through rate, it had a higher click-through rate, along with more views, shares and subscribes. There was a 46 percent higher view count of the full-length 360 video than on the standard full-length version. People who viewed the 360 video were more likely to share it copying the URL into messaging apps. As a result, the 360 ad was more cost-efficient as its cost-per-view was lower when organic and paid views were added together. People who do engage with 360 like it, as seen through their interaction with CTAs, engagement with the brand, and sharing with others.

When it comes down to it, 360 video is powerful because it combines two routes into immersion and engagement. The first-person exploration potential of Google Street View—still a powerful tool for wandering through familiar and unfamiliar places, nearly 10 years after launch—meets the emotional storytelling potential of an intimate smartphone-based video.

What makes 360 especially effective is that viewers (or perhaps ‘users’ is a more appropriate term) influence what they see and can take direct control of the narrative, or point of view. Psychological studies have shown that people feel more affinity to things that they control (part of the theory of the extension of personal self) and this programming of the human mind helps 360 connect on a deeper level than normal video.

So what exactly can brands do with 360 video?

At its most basic, 360 video allows brands to put viewers and users inside an experience—looking over the shoulder of a point-of-view character. This video by Frontline puts you in a rural village in South Sudan on the brink of famine.

Immersing viewers into the reality of daily life for people displaced by the war, surviving on food drops and U.N. support, it evokes a sense of realism and empathy that is difficult to ignore.

Meanwhile, this example from Google adds an almost game-like aspect to the video content, using perspective and movement to create a kind of puzzle—where is the camera, what is there to see, how can I move it to find out what’s happening in this scene?

This video demonstrates that 360 isn’t a gimmick. It has to be harnessed through creative filmmaking that encourages users to interact and offers some reward for exploring the 360 degree world it creates. By the time users have watched this through, they’ll know how to turn the camera so they can see the brand logo at the end.

How can brands get the most out of 360 video?

The key to success with 360 video is to make content that plays to the strengths of the tech, whilst not being overpowered by it. Start with the best practices of all video marketing: a focus on your core message, target audience, and visual strengths. From here, no matter what you create it will add to your brand story in the right way.

In addition, it’s important to think about how the content will be viewed. Facebook 360 works better with some phones than others; you can get started with any Android phone or tablet that’s come out in the last two years, but Apple devices are harder to pin down. Facebook claims anything newer than an iPhone 4S will work, but there are underlying issues with Apple’s code, including a long-running bug in Safari that prevents Facebook 360 videos from working in the browser.

360 is an exciting new tech among an ever-growing arsenal of tools for brands. Its key strengths are the depths of immersion and levels of engagement that it gives. It is certainly not for everyone, and it’s not for every brand, but it is worth considering and can really deliver results.

Use Hootsuite to upload, schedule, publish, share, and monitor your social videos from one platform. Try it free today.

Learn More

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A List of Weird ‘Holidays’ to Celebrate on Social Media

National holidays, campaign launches, important events—your social media content calendar should be filled with key dates and milestones for your business, and the corresponding content you’re planning to post across all your networks.

Of course, some months are busier than others. January might be a notoriously chaotic month for your business, full of product launches or big sales, but you’re then left desperate for social content during the quiet February that follows.

How is a social media manager supposed to survive these perilous periods of feast and famine? A fun option is to celebrate “micro holidays” that have universal appeal on the internet and loads of potential for creative social media campaigns.

Here’s a list of potential micro holidays you can celebrate on social media—just remember that any content you produce should still be relevant to your business and a good fit for your brand.

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

January 4
Trivia Day: #NationalTriviaDay

January 15
Hat Day: #NationalHatDay

January 17
Ditch Your Resolution Day: #DitchYourResolutionDay

January 20
Cheese Lovers Day: #NationalCheeseLoversDay

January 23
Community Manager Appreciation Day: #CMAD

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

January 25
Opposite Day: #OppositeDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

February 7
Send a Card to a Friend Day: #SendACardToAFriendDay

February 11
Inventors Day: #NationalInventorsDay

February 15
Singles Awareness Day: #SinglesAwarenessDay

February 17
Random Acts of Kindness Day: #RandomActsOfKindnessDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

February 22
Margarita Day: #NationalMargaritaDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

March 3
Day of Unplugging: #NationalDayOfUnplugging

March 14
Potato Chip Day: #NationalPotatoChipDay

March 18
Awkward Moments Day: #AwkwardMomentsDay

March 23
Puppy Day: #NationalPuppyDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

March 30
Doctors Day: #NationalDoctorsDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

April 7
Beer Day: #NationalBeerDay

April 10
Siblings Day: #NationalSiblingsDay

April 11
Pet Day: #NationalPetDay

April 20
Look-alike Day: #NationalLookAlikeDay

April 22
Earth Day: #EarthDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

April 30
Honesty Day: #NationalHonestyDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

May 2
Thank a Teacher Day: #ThankATeacher

May 4
Star Wars Day: #StarWarsDay (or #MayThe4thBeWithYou)

May 6
Nurses Day: #NursesDay

May 10
Receptionists Day: #NationalReceptionistDay

May 24
Scavenger Hunt Day: #NationalScavengerHuntDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog
June 2
Donut Day: #NationalDonutDay

June 8
Best Friends Day: #NationalBestFriendsDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

June 21
Selfie Day: #NationalSelfieDay

June 30
Social Media Day: #SMDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

July 1
Joke Day: #InternationalJokeDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

July 10
Pina Colada Day: #NationalPinaColadaDay

July 13
French Fry Day: #NationalFrenchFryDay

July 20
Moon Day: #NationalMoonDay

July 24
Cousins Day: #NationalCousinsDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

August 9
Book Lovers Day: #NationalBookLoversDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

August 12
Middle Child Day: #MiddleChildDay

August 15
Relaxation Day: #NationalRelaxationDay

August 27
Just Because Day: #JustBecauseDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

September 3
Beard Day: #WorldBeardDay

September 12
Video Games Day: #NationalVideoGamesDay

September 19
Talk Like A Pirate Day: #TalkLikeAPirateDay (or #TLAPD)

September 21
Day of Peace: #InternationalDayOfPeace

September 30
Podcast Day: #InternationalPodcastDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

October 1
Coffee Day: #InternationalCoffeeDay

October 4
Taco Day: #NationalTacoDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

October 15
Maths Day: #WorldMathsDay

October 29
Internet Day: #InternetDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

November 1
Authors Day: #NationalAuthorsDay

November 4
Candy Day: #NationalCandyDay

November 13
Kindness Day: #WorldKindnessDay

November 21
Entrepreneurs Day: #NationalEntrepreneursDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

December 4
Cookie Day: #NationalCookieDay

December 11
Mountain Day: #InternationalMountainDay

December 15
Cupcake Day: #NationalCupcakeDay

December 21
Crossword Puzzle Day: #CrosswordPuzzleDay

A List of Weird “Holidays” To Celebrate on Social Media | Hootsuite Blog

December 30
Bacon Day: #BaconDay

Bursting with ideas for an offbeat holiday campaign now? With Hootsuite, you can create your posts, publish them across multiple social networks, or schedule them in advance. Try it free today.

Learn More

How to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Audience Research

Imagine you’re throwing a dinner party for some potential clients. You know that there’s a lot at stake with this one meal, and the future success of your business depends on it. You get to the grocery store when suddenly you realize you have no idea what your guests like or if any have dietary restrictions. If only you had done a little bit of audience research on your visitors.

In the same way that knowing your guests’ needs is important to the success of your dinner party, audience research is crucial for the success of your business’s social media strategy. If you don’t know who you’re talking to (or cooking for), you’re taking a shot in the dark. If you’re now frantically trying to get your audience research done, our guide below can help you out.

Once you’ve got that done, continue reading to learn how to put these valuable insights to use.

Completed your social media audience research? Here’s what to do next

Identify customer pain points

The more you know about what makes your target customers tick, the better prepared you are to solve these problems for them. With thorough audience research, you can identify your customers’ key pain points, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

A great example of this is with popular North American lifestyle magazine, Real Simple. Real Simple reaches “8 million smart, busy consumers who welcome creative solutions to their everyday challenges,” and provides these solutions through their magazine and social channels.

Real Simple understands their busy audience is looking for ways to balance an often high-stress lifestyle. The brand takes this knowledge to their social channels.

Their Instagram feed, for example, features a stress-relieving yoga pose every week, as well as an almost daily quick and healthy recipe idea.

Like Real Simple, your brand must consider the lifestyle of your audience and potential customers. What are they struggling with in their day-to-day lives, and how does your product or service help? After you’ve conducted audience research—whether through talking to and interviewing them, finding FAQs related to your industry, or other tactics—you need to put this information to work by working to genuinely solve their pain points.

Focus on the right networks

There’s no point in allocating resources to channels that your target audience doesn’t use. As your research should have shown, different networks have different audiences. After you’ve done your audience research, it’s important you take this information and use it to focus on the networks where your own customers are active.

Basic demographic research, such as that shared in my post The Top Social Media Sites That Matter to Marketers, should give you some direction. When you know who you are selling to, and where, you can much more effectively tailor your message and reach your target audience. This will also maximize any ad spend and yield better results.

Target your audience with social ads

You can always reach your customers organically, but the most effective way to target your audience is by leveraging the power of social media advertising.

Create content that addresses the customer pain points you found through your audience research and create social ads to put in front of your customers on your chosen networks.

Our post Social Media Advertising: The Complete Guide shares Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ six tips for social media advertising as the following:

  • Use free social media to beta-test your paid social ads
  • Take advantage of targeting features.
  • Rotate ads frequently
  • Use small samples to test the text and images used in your ads.
  • Understand how ads are sold on different networks.
  • Design ads with mobile in mind.

With these tips in mind, you can narrow down your network to ones you found most effective in your audience research.

Facebook Advertising

Your audience research will be put to good use with Facebook’s advertising options. Facebook lets you target your ads by location, age, gender, and language, along with more detailed targeting options such as:

  • Demographics (education, relationships, parenting, etc.)
  • Interests (hobbies, sports, technology, etc.)
  • Behaviors (including information gathered from Facebook’s partners)

As our previous post  Social Media Advertising: The Complete Guide explains, “Once you’ve created your target audience, you can narrow your focus even further based on type of device, and even whether the Facebook user is connected via data or Wi-Fi.”

Twitter Advertising

On Twitter, you can use Twitter Ads, Promoted Accounts, or Promoted Trends to advertise to your optimal audience.

In addition to regular demographic targeting, Twitter offers more detailed options. Your audience research might have revealed characteristics about your target customer that you can put to use here. With Twitter’s detailed targeting, you can make sure your ads reach users with interests, behaviors, and using keywords aligned with your findings.

To make the most of your Twitter ads, our post How to Use Twitter Ads: The Complete Guide for Business shares the following tips:

  • Introduce your business and highlight your unique selling proposition so your audience wants to click, follow, and engage
  • Include a clear CTA to increase follows, Retweets, and searches
  • Include cards to add extra functionality like lead collection, app installs, and website previews
  • Customize your ads based on your audience research

Instagram Advertising

One of Instagram’s best features is their ad targeting options. Using your audience research, you can optimize your Instagram ads to better align with your target customers.

In addition to knowing your audience, our post Instagram Ads: The Complete Guide For Business shares the following best practices to keep in mind when creating and running an Instagram campaign:

  • Captivate with captions designed for your target audience. Think about how your audience might react to certain tones and captions, and work from there.
  • Use hashtags that are relevant to your target audience. Take note of hashtags other businesses in your industry use, and test them out.
  • Be consistent so that your target audience can recognize your content immediately.

The audience research you worked so hard to collect is a waste if you don’t know how to use it. Follow the above guide to get the most out of your valuable audience research and boost your business’ bottom line.

Hootsuite has partnered with six social ad solutions so you can manage and optimize campaigns across multiple networks, including Facebook and Twitter.

Learn More

What exactly is PPC keyword management anyway?

Close-up of the keys of a piano

PPC keyword management gets a fair amount of attention as a topic of conversation (at least in the world of PPC pros!).

It’s also a topic that sends my brain into overdrive when clients mention it.

Why? Because the phrase is used so loosely it often means different things to different people.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that PPC keyword management isn’t just one task—it’s a group of tasks. And some are less obvious than others.

In this post, I’ll clarify what keyword management means to us at Group Twenty Seven and describe its many aspects, including:

  • Negative keyword management
  • Keyword trend audits
  • Quality score benchmarks
  • Duplicate keyword management
  • Keyword click-through-rate management
  • Low search volume keyword management.

Negative Keyword Management

For many non-PPC experts, keyword management is synonymous with negative keyword management.

It’s true that negative keyword management is an important part of keyword management. But it’s only one part.

Regardless, building negative keyword lists is a good place to start when launching new campaigns or taking over existing campaigns. Because the more robust your negative keyword list, the less wasted ad spend you’ll have.

That’s why we often perform negative keyword management hourly when we launch new campaigns. Then, we’ll gradually perform it less frequently as we identify fewer and fewer negative keywords.

But we never stop managing negative keywords entirely. Things change and new irrelevant words emerge over time. So we continue to perform this task monthly, at a minimum.

Keyword Trend Audits

Another keyword management activity we undertake is trending audits. Basically, we look at actual search queries in Google Analytics and AdWords to see if we can identify trending keywords we can use (or exclude).

You might be surprised at how often new terms emerge to describe existing products and services—terms our clients have never thought of using before.

Quality Score Benchmarks

Generally, we don’t manage our client PPC accounts with the specific purpose of achieving high quality scores. We’ve always found that if an account is well managed, a high (or certainly, rising) quality score will result.

But that doesn’t mean we ignore quality scores entirely. If a quality score is particularly low for a new client, we’ll take a closer look.

Sometimes, we’ll find that the problem lies with the client’s landing page. When a client has one landing page with multiple conversion paths leading to it, the landing page may not reflect all the keywords used. This leads Google to conclude that the page is serving irrelevant information to users, and thus may assign some keywords low quality scores.

Usually, we can fix these hiccups by adding a few “missing” keywords to the landing page.

Duplicate Keyword Management

Having duplicate keywords goes against AdWords recommendations. And we don’t recommend it either.

But sometimes we inherit accounts with duplicate keywords (or inadvertently add them ourselves), especially if the PPC program is large.

Fortunately, duplicate keywords are easy to spot if you look for them. This is a task we perform regularly with AdWords Editor, a free downloadable tool.

Keyword Click-Through-Rate (CTR) Management

Normally, we monitor CTRs closely at campaign launch and quickly eliminate keywords that aren’t producing.

That said, it’s also a good idea to monitor CTRs even in more established campaigns. Sometimes CTR stats change suddenly, which could indicate that a hot new competitor has entered the market—which could require some adjustments to your PPC strategy.

Low Search Volume (LSV) Keyword Management

When keywords fall into LSV territory, it’s tempting to immediately remove them. But in practice, many keywords drift in and out of LSV over time. Sometimes, it pays to leave LSV keywords alone for a little while, to see how they perform.

And sometimes, we can lift a keyword out of LSV status by slightly manipulating the keyword (or keyword phrase). (Pro tip: Playing around with singular vs. plural versions sometimes works.)

As you can see, PPC keyword management is much more than one simple task! So when the topic comes up, I hope you’ll forgive me for peppering you with 20 questions to define precisely what we’re talking about.

Please note, this post was originally published on the Group Twenty Seven blog.

Related reading

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5 Expert Tips for Building Your Brand Advocacy Program

Isn’t it great when people have nice things to say about your product?

It’s even better when they share these awesome reviews with other people. For free.

That’s what brand advocacy is all about—encouraging and empowering your customers to become champions for your brand. Social media is a great place to do that.

We’ve already talked about how to create an advocacy program for your brand. Now we dig a little deeper and ask Hootsuite’s own advocate marketing manager, Alicia Taggio, to give us her best tips for building brand advocacy on social media.

1. Be strategic with who you align yourself with

Targeting social media influencers with a massive following might work for some brands, but it doesn’t have to be about the big numbers. What matters is having engaged advocates who can add value to your brand.

At Hootsuite we like to connect with people who are excited and passionate about social media marketing. Some of these advocates are willing to get in front of a room of 400 industry peers and talk about our the industry and the tools we’ve built for it.

These advocates might not have a big following, but the fact that they’ve aligned with our brand to the point where we trust them to speak on our behalf is huge.

Pro tip: Define what qualities a potential advocate needs to best represent your brand. Does their tone align with yours? Are they active users of your product or service? Would you consider them experts in their industry?

2. Offer something in return

Advocates will sing your company’s praises and help boost brand awareness—often with little resources or budget.

So make sure you’re always giving your champions something in return. We’re not just talking about swag either.

What would they find most rewarding or valuable? Can you help them build their profile? Drive traffic to their website (by featuring their content on your social media channels and therefore increasing their social reach)? Or can you simply provide them with some form of recognition?

One of the ways we try to give back to our advocates at Hootsuite is by hosting weekly #HootChats on subjects they’re interested in.

We also give them a chance to position themselves as thought leaders by featuring advocates on our blog, quoting them in other content, and inviting them to participate in our social media webinars.

Pro tip: Keep your finger on the pulse. At Hootsuite, we do 30, 60, and 90 day check-ins with our #HootAmbs over Skype to make sure everything’s running smoothly. From technical difficulties to ambassadors who have changed careers and are using social media even more—we want to make sure our brand and products are still relevant to their everyday lives.

3. Look internally for ambassadors

One of the best places to look for new ambassadors is from within.

We’re not talking about employee advocacy. This is about socializing your brand advocacy program across all departments so that your employees and teammates know to keep an eye out for potential leads.

For example, the customer success team at Hootsuite has been key in helping our social media marketing team discover future brand ambassadors. The nature of their role involves constant contact with our clients, and as a result, their team has established strong ties to our customers. With this kind of rapport, it makes sense that the customer success team can identify and recommend clients who would fit Hootsuite’s brand advocacy program.

4. Monitor your channels for engagement

Use social media to see who’s already talking about your company or using your products.

Twitter, for example, is an awesome platform for discussion that gives you the ability to track trending conversations and mentions. You can also create Twitter lists of current and potential brand advocates or connect with prospects directly via direct messaging.
You should also look into LinkedIn and Facebook groups that are relevant to your brand and industry.

Hootsuite Insights allows you to easily listens for brand mentions and sentiment—how people feel about your brand. You can monitor across all your networks from one platform, and for multiple handles of the same platform.

5. Learn from the best

Brand advocacy isn’t an old concept by any means, and so there’s plenty of examples to look to for inspiration.

We particularly like what Telus has done with their #TeamTELUS advocacy program. It’s grown exponentially over the years and now features ambassadors from across Canada representing industries such as technology, travel, health, and lifestyle.

Listen and engage across your social media channels and identify brand advocacy opportunities using Hootsuite. Try it free today.

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Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative acquires AI-powered search engine Meta

The Meta search engine logo, with the Chan Zuckerberg initiative logo in the corner.

The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the $45 billion philanthropic organisation founded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, has made its first acquisition – of a search engine.

The Initiative announced on Monday that it would be acquiring Meta, a scientific search engine that uses artificial intelligence to make connections between research papers.

The search start-up, which was founded in 2010, previously charged some users for subscriptions or custom solutions, but the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative intends to make it free to all after spending a few months enhancing the product.

The Meta search engine is designed to make it easier for researchers to search through, read and link together more than 26 million scientific papers. It also provides free, full-text access to some 18,000 journals and sources of literature.

Meta’s artificial intelligence capabilities allow it to draw connections between papers, recognising where authors and citations overlap in order to surface the most important and relevant research – rather than just what contains the right keywords. It provides an efficient and intuitive way to sort through reams of online studies and locate the most useful papers, in a way that more conventional search engines like Google Scholar can’t replicate.

If all of this sounds familiar, that might be because you’ve heard it before. Semantic Scholar is also a free, AI-powered search engine aimed at helping scientists to sift through mountains of research, using data mining, natural language processing and computer vision to analyse a study’s worth and present its key elements.

semantic scholar

Semantic Scholar is also backed by a non-profit organisation: the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, or AI2 for short. The search engine was developed by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, in conjunction with AI2 and in collaboration with Allen’s other research foundation, the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Semantic Scholar was only launched last November, while Meta has been around since 2010. Until now, the fact that Semantic Scholar was free to use might have given it an edge, but the intervention of the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative could change all that.

So which search engine will emerge victorious? Both have the backing of heavyweights in the technology industry – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Both use artificial intelligence to open up access to scientific research in a whole new way, and both are soon to be free to all.

Semantic Scholar’s field is also quite narrow still, currently only covering 10 million published papers in the fields of neuroscience, biomedicine and computer science. However, it has a huge amount of potential and has grown quickly in the two months since its launch, with 2.5 million people using the service to perform millions of searches.

Maybe the question should be: are the two search engines even competitors? Oren Etzioni, the CEO of AI2, has already refuted the idea that Semantic Scholar would attempt to compete with Google Scholar, saying that their goal is just to “raise the bar” and provide scientists with more effective options to carry out their research. They may take the same view towards Meta, opting to work with the other company for the ultimate benefit of the scientific community.

For the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, Meta is just one step towards their larger goal of helping to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century”. Sam Molyneux, the co-founder and CEO of Meta, wrote in his own announcement on Facebook that,

“Helping scientists will produce a virtuous cycle, as they develop new tools that in turn unlock additional opportunities for faster advancement. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s recognition of this “meta” effect is why Meta can be a key piece of the puzzle to enable the future of human health that we believe to be possible within this century.”

Regardless of whether Meta and Semantic Scholar will be competitors or collaborators, one thing seems certain: artificial intelligence has unlocked a whole new set of possibilities for the way that we engage with scientific research, and there’s no doubt that we will benefit from it.

Whatever happens next, it’s going to be exciting.

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How to Prove the Value of Social Media to Your CMO

Have you ever sat through a presentation that wasn’t meant for you? You stare blankly at a screen of numbers and nonsensical acronyms, then you disengage after five minutes and daydream about your after-work bike ride.

When you’re trying to prove the value of social media to your CMO—or even CEO—you can’t afford to lose their attention. Their time is precious. Luckily, there are simple and effective ways to present your findings.

The executives in your company don’t care about the day-to-day details of your brand’s social media strategy. They want to how your efforts are driving business goals. It’s your job to eliminate unnecessary data and present the findings that matter to the C-suite.

What your CMO wants to know (and what metrics back it up)

1. How social contributes to revenue

How has social contributed to the company’s bottom line? This is the most important question that you need to answer for your CMO. If your social activities and efforts aren’t making money, it’s difficult to make a case for keeping social programs and/or expanding them.

How to tie revenue to social media:

Lead generation: Leads from social will show potential revenue you’ve generated in comparison to other channels. Contests, ads, gated content on social—these are all effective ways of generating leads. To make sure that you’re getting qualified leads, capture enough customer data in all your form fills—company name, size, job title, etc.

Referral Traffic: Referral traffic, similarly to leads, will show the CMO the potential for revenue. If you’re running a company-wide campaign and social is responsible for 25 percent of all traffic, that’s an important stat to show. It highlights social’s contribution to driving new prospects to your business.

Conversion: A good chunk of your conversion goals for social campaigns will either be a purchase, download, or trial. By tracking conversions that come from social, you can understand how it contributes to your wider marketing and sales objectives.

Pro tip: To track leads and conversions, make sure that you use UTM parameters on all your links on social. Check out our article on social ads to learn how to build UTM codes.

2. The return on investment from social media campaigns

If you’re asking your CMO for budget, you need to show that the money already invested has generated income. Compared to other forms of marketing, social is a cost-effective way to generate sales and leads.

How to prove social media ROI:

Cost to acquire a lead (CAL): To determine the cost to acquire a lead, divide your relevant social media spend by the number of leads earned from a specific campaign or timeline. You need to show that you can acquire high quality leads at a relatively low cost.

Cost to acquire a customer (CAC): When you’re calculating conversions, look only at those that include purchase or trial. It’s important to point out that social has an indirect impact on customer purchases, which you may or may not be able to track. The customers you’re tracking are only one piece of a bigger pie.

Cost-saving efficiencies: Show how social saves your company money. If you run a social customer service program and you’ve reduced ticket backlogs by 80 percent, that’s an important stat that illustrates how you’ve saved time and resources.

Pro tip: If your company has a brick and mortar store and you’d like to show the impact of social ads on ‘offline’ leads like store visits, you’re in luck. Facebook has introduced a new tool that will show you how many people visited your store after viewing a Facebook ad.

3. How people perceive your brand

Brand reputation and awareness is a key part of staying ahead of your competitors. Your CMO probably understands that social is an important part of that—but it’s up to you to show exactly how much it makes an impact.

How you demonstrate brand awareness with social media:

Engagement rate: Social is, after all, about having a good conversation with your customers. Be sure to showcase the areas of strong engagement. If you’re trying to get buy-in on a video budget, for example, and you know that video engagement is 10 times higher than other forms of content, then that’s something you can share.

Social share of voice: Share of voice tells you how many people are talking about your brand on social in comparison to your competitors. If you’ve got the biggest share of voice on social in your industry it shows that people are aware of, and likely receptive to, your brand.

As we explain in our guide, 7 Social Media Metrics That Matter—and How to Track Them, you can determine social share of voice by adding all the mentions of your brand with those of your competitor (Hootsuite Analytics can help you see these numbers at a glance, instead of having to add them all up manually). That will give you the total number of industry mentions. Then you simply need to divide your brand mentions by the industry total and multiply that number by 100 for your social share of voice percent.

Overall brand sentiment: In addition to share of voice, you want to make sure that the actual attention you’re getting on social is positive. Hootsuite Insights automatically collects brand sentiment data so you can measure and prove this metric with just a couple of clicks. You can even filter results by location, language, gender, and more.

How to present a social media report to your CMO

1. Keep it short: Presentations should not be more than 30 minutes and no more than once a month. Cut anything that isn’t necessary.

2. Always show business value: Different metrics matter to different teams. Your CMO wants high-level business results with insight on the tactics you used to get them.

3. Use images: You know the power of good images. Use them in your presentation to break up chunks of information and to illustrate key stats.
Get buy-in by showing the right analytics

Get buy-in by showing the right analytics

When proving the value of social media to your executives, focus on data that builds a clear case for the programs you’re trying to champion, areas you’d like to improve, and budget requests. Always keep the end goal (or ask) in mind.

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The social media marketing checklist your business needs in 2017

The social media marketing checklist your business needs in 2017

As social media marketing becomes more challenging and time-consuming, it’s time to get more organised when managing your brand’s social presence.

It’s not easy handling a brand’s social presence, but its successful management can lead to great results. Social networks keep growing and they are heading into a more mature phase, which means that the challenges grow for every brand that tries to stay competent.

There are many reasons for a brand to invest in social media marketing and the results depend on the set goals:

  • Increase awareness
  • Reach a new audience
  • Boost engagement
  • Increase traffic to the site
  • Explore new business opportunities
  • Gain new leads
  • Work with new clients

No matter what goals you set for the new year, you still need to stay on top of your brand’s social media marketing and the right checklist may help you with all the tasks you need to do at the beginning of the year.

Brainstorming

This is the initial stage that you’ll think of all the new ways that can boost your social media marketing.

  • Explore the latest trends and see if any of them fits in your own strategy
  • Learn more about the new platforms or examine whether the old ones are still suitable for your audience
  • Be creative and think outside the box
  • Come up with new content ideas and experiment with them on each platform
  • Ask for help from other team members to broaden your perspective

Planning

Right after your brainstorming session, it’s time to evaluate your planning to see whether it’s effective enough to help your social media marketing.

  • Go back to your content calendar and see whether it was effective enough to use it frequently
  • What needs to be improved to the existing content calendar?
  • Decide on the channels you’re using. Should you add new ones?
  • Examine whether the frequency of the content has been effective up to now
  • Organise your goals and your KPIs
  • Do you know how to justify your social marketing efforts?

Implementation

Now you’re ready to check the practical aspect of your social media marketing. The evaluation of the implementation phase helps you understand whether your plan has been successfully in action.

  • Are you happy with the way the posts are published?
  • Is the content calendar followed?
  • Is the engagement the one you expected?
  • Are you replying to the users’ comments?
  • Are you monitoring your brand’s social accounts?
  • Do you use all your social accounts consistently?
  • How is the collaboration between the team?
  • Is there a plan to deal with urgent situations?
  • When was the last time you dealt with a crisis and how can you avoid another one?
  • Do you need to use social media for customer service?

Measurement

The last but still important stage in the evaluation of a social media marketing plan is to examine whether the measurement is effective.

  • Start by going back to your initial goals. Are these met? Are they realistic?
  • Keep your social reports up-to-date and prepare them for the year ahead
  • Check each platform’s native analytics to stay updated on their insights
  • Use your own analytics platform to have an overview of your social media marketing performance
  • Find the best performing platforms and raise the expectations in the new year
  • Find the platforms you need to focus on and come up with new content ideas to improve their performance
  • Plan the year ahead with new KPIs
  • Consult with the team on the best ways to track the KPIs
  • Align social media marketing KPIs with your wider marketing strategy

Although the checklist and the questions you need to answer seem to be time-consuming, the actual process is faster than what you think. This can even be an annual task, helping you create a successful social media marketing strategy, with a clear plan, goal and measurement. You can still add it to your new year’s resolutions. 

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Five common mistakes small businesses make with their online presence

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Please note, this is content written in association with Single Platform.

All small businesses need to know how to create a consistent online presence. 54% of small businesses currently have a website, but this isn’t nearly enough if you want to create an effective web presence in order to approach potential customers.

Often small business owners can feel overwhelmed when trying to explore the most suitable online opportunities. So to help out, here are some of the most common mistakes they can avoid in 2017.

1) Ignoring local SEO

97% of Internet users search for local businesses online, which means that a business cannot afford to ignore local SEO and its potential benefits.

Local SEO helps you attract customers who perform searches for a particular location, such as “sushi in NYC”. By optimising your site for local queries, you are helping customers discover your business and your services. Therefore reaching a new audience that’s interested in the most appropriate search results for the particular area.

The best ways to boost your local SEO are:

  • Verify your Google My Business listing: Google My Business connects your business with customers. Once you verify your page you can update your NAP (name, address, phone), add the right categories for your business and a relevant description. This helps customers find more information about your business, increasing the chances of attracting more visits.
  • Embed a Google Map in your website: A Google Map that links to the Google Plus local listing allows your business to offer all the required information to its customers.
  • Optimize meta tags and page content for local keywords: It can be beneficial for a business to add the city and the state in the title tag and the meta description to increase the clicks derived from local search results.
  • Use consistent contact information across your online profiles: It is important for every business to maintain a consistency on its contact information on every online source, from its site, to its social networks, or Google My Business and Yelp.

2) Not having an accessible site for the modern connected user

As modern connected users become more demanding, businesses should ensure that they pay special attention to mobile optimisation, site speed, and overall usability.

According to a survey from Google, 72% of mobile users consider it important for a website to be mobile-friendly. In fact, a mobile-friendly website increases the chances of conversion and similar results occur when focusing on optimal site speed.

Even a 1 second delay in a website’s loading time can lead to a lost conversion of 7%, while 40% of users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. This makes it imperative for a business to measure the performance of its website to examine the best ways to reduce its loading time.

Google has also recently introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in an attempt to increase the number of fast mobile web pages and help users enjoy their mobile experience without the frustration of slow loading pages.

google amp project

Wired saw a 25% increase in click through rates from search results after implementing AMP, while Gizmodo noticed that 80% of its traffic from AMP pages was new.

As modern users become impatient in a fast-paced world, an accessible website should be a priority for a small business, improving the customer experience and beating the competition on important issues that are frequently ignored, although they still affect conversion.

3) Not taking advantage of customer reviews

Online reviews have become an important part of consumers’ purchasing decisions, with 88% of them trusting reviews as much as personal recommendations. The more reviews a business has, the higher the chances of earning trust among new customers.

Small businesses should encourage reviews as they serve as the best social proof when they are highlighted in a website. It’s important to find the best time to ask for them, while it may also be useful to incentivise consumers for each review with the right rewards.

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Even the negative reviews can be helpful and every business should embrace them, building a trusting relationship with the prospective customers, while working towards improving its performance.

As online reviews still count as fresh content for a website, they can also contribute to an improved SEO, with review signals accounting for 9.8% of the total ranking factors that define a page’s position on search results.

4) Not joining up their data between online, offline and mobile

There is a growing challenge for small businesses expanding their online presence to come up with the best way to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.

It’s not just about examining the ROI for online marketing, now it’s more important to explore the best method to combine the data between online, offline and mobile marketing. This allows businesses to get a better understanding of how they should allocate their budget, finding what works and what can be improved.

The inability to combine these data sets leads to incomplete conclusions, which may turn into missed opportunities for increasing sales.

5) Not communicating with their customers

It’s vitally important for a business to understand its audience, as this will guide it towards future commercial goals.

A business with a good online presence pays attention to its customers and listens to their needs to become genuinely helpful. There’s more chance of increasing sales when businesses seek authentic relationships with existing and prospect clients.

Concept of digital marketing

The goal of building an online presence is to get closer to where the customers are and build meaningful, tangible engagement. Two-way communication between the business and the customer, all the way from initial user experience to any method of contact, should be measured and analyzed to prove the value and effectiveness of all touchpoints.

This will help businesses optimize every key point of engagement, helping to improve and iterate, to get maximum value from each.

These mistakes may be common, but they can all be fixed with a series of small steps in the right direction. And if a small businesses is feeling too daunted by these steps, there are companies devoted in helping them strengthen their SEO, such as Single Platform, a leading specialist in making it easy for local businesses to stand out online.

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