Spooky Google Doodles for Halloween 2014

Just as Halloween has seen some evolution over the years, so have the holiday-themed Google Doodles presented each year on the Web. 

To get us in the mood for this year’s ghouls, witches, and spooky-themed Google Doodles, let’s take a quick dive into the history behind one of America’s most cherished holidays.

A Short History of Halloween

According to History.com, it is believed that Halloween originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain. Part of the ritual of this event was for people to light bonfires to ward off ghosts while wearing costumes.

Then, the eighth century marked the point when Pope Gregory III declared that November 1 was a day to honor the saints and martyrs, and became known as All Saints’ Day. This traditional also incorporated some of the features of Halloween.

However, what we know as Halloween today is much different. Today’s holiday brings to mind children dressed up as a character or profession, trick-or-treating, the carving of jack-o-lanterns, and adult Halloween parties for those without children.

Doodles of Halloween Past

Lucky for us, the official Google Doodles archive includes doodles from this year, as well as those from previous years, so we can take a look back at what the search giant has done in the past.

Below is a sampling of Google Doodles that have appeared previously on Halloween.

past-doodles 

2014 Halloween Google Doodles

This year, Google reached out to a variety of artists to create a series of animated GIFs. Below you will find the six standout Halloween Google Doodles from 2014.

2014-gd

Which one is your favorite?


SES LondonOptimising Digital Marketing Campaigns with Search, Social and Analytics

At SES London (9-11 Feb) you’ll get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in Paid, Owned, Earned, Integrated Media and Business Intelligence to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. Register by 31 October to take advantage of Early Bird Rates.

Behind the Scenes of Hootsuite’s #SocialNotScary Halloween Campaign

Halloween is a big deal at Hootsuite. Of course our employees love the holiday and go all out on costumes (for themselves and their dogs). But we also love Halloween because it lets us get creative and connect with our users in a much more unique way. Last year it was through a zombie video contest with our friends at Zendesk. And this year it took the form of a series of horror movie character portraits we’ve dubbed the #SocialNotScary campaign.

The idea for these portraits came from the notion that many people are scared or intimidated by social media. Whether its hackers and trolls, or the simple complexity of social media, there’s a certain culture of anxiety  attached to these tools that we use and promote every day. We wanted to share the message that social media doesn’t have to be scary in a way that got our point across but was very compelling and shareable.

We settled on the idea of pairing iconic horror movie characters with popular social networks. We cast our own employees to play the part and worked with local photographers and make-up artists to transform them into these infamous characters. Have a look below.

Enter to win a Hootsuite prize pack by sharing your favourite image with the hashtag #SocialNotScary on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Social Update: 10 • 31 • 2014

Earnings reports from major companies such as Facebook and Twitter most likely showed up on your social media radar. In this week’s episode of our weekly news round up, Social Update, Sunny explains why the social media giants’ stock prices took a dive, and what’s in the works for the last fiscal period of 2014. You will also learn more about Facebook’s new anonymous messaging app, and why IHOP wants their younger social media followers to “RT if IHOP is bae.”

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts on this week’s top stories in the comments below, or on Youtube.

Stay updated on the latest social news you can use—subscribe to Hootsuite’s YouTube channel!

Fast SEO Competitive Analysis Part 2: Competing Content Comparison

This is part two of a series on fast SEO competitive analysis. In part one we focused on keyword research, using the competitive landscape as a foundation for strategy, understanding, and finally using search volume estimates to get clients excited about the opportunity in search. In part one the groundwork was laid for identifying areas of high opportunity, and part two we will look at:

  1. Understanding search behavior and choosing target keyword categories.
  2. Competing content comparison

Tools used:

  • Google Sheets (Excel works)
  • Advanced Web Ranking

1. Understanding Search Behavior and Choosing Target Keyword Categories

Continuing the example used in part one of Google Sites, which describes itself as a “…free and easy way to create and share webpages,” it makes sense to filter out highly competitive keyword categories like business, design, and blogging. Removing these, branded terms, and unrelated terms (quick manual scan) from the pivot table from part one leaves us with an ideal list of targeted keywords, all of which Google Sites should easily be coming up in search for.

seo-keyword-research-pivot-table

While the filtering process can definitely get tedious, it is used as a benchmark to track ongoing progress. Time well spent if it’s going to help showcase SEO efforts over time. Boiling down the relevant keywords people are using in search and having the mindset that these are the avenues in which customers will eventually find your client’s content is also rewarding!

For Google Sites, relevant keywords people are using to find content they should be coming up for in search, is as simple as customers wanting to build/create/make/start page(s)/site(s)/website(s)/webpage(s), and they want it to be free/easy/online.

Using the filtered Pivot Table (copying and pasting into a new tab) as a template, we can begin pulling other relevant metrics and creating a dashboard, to help understand the competitive landscape of these search trends and ultimately form some solid SEO strategy.

2. Competing Content Comparison

Now that we know exactly what keywords Google Sites should be coming up for in search results, we need to understand the extent to which existing content reflects how people are searching.

To do this we can look at the top ranking search result on Google.com for our target keyword. Then limit the search to a specific domain in Google and compare.

Looking at the term how to build a web page , the top ranking result is http://www.thesitewizard.com/gettingstarted/startwebsite.shtml in Google search results.

google-sites-number-one-result

Limiting the same search to the google.com domain using site:google.com how to build a web page , https://support.google.com/sites/answer/153197?hl=en is seen as the most relevant in the eyes of Google’s algorithms.

google-sites-domain-limited-number-one

As seen above, sites.google.com doesn’t come up in search for this example of a relevant keyword, even when the results are limited to the google.com own domain. We can use this as a starting point to understand where our content needs to be to achieve our goal of eventually coming up for this search.

Automating Competing Content Comparison

Let’s apply the concept explained above to all of our target keywords. Using Advanced Web Ranking, we can pull the top 10 search results for all of our keywords, then pull that data into our dashboard using VLOOKUP.

number-one-on-google-vs-internal

Conclusion

Comparing the content Google sees as most important on your site vs. the Web can help you understand where your site is lacking. For example in the image above, Google Sites is seen as the most relevant page when people are looking to build a website, but not so much when they are search how to build a web page. Subtle nuances make can make a big difference, and perhaps adding a little verbiage to the target page would be enough to begin coming up in search for a whole new category of keywords.

Making sure the page you want to come up in search is seen as the most relevant when the search is limited to your own domain should be seen as step one. The goal here is to meet and beat your competition from a content perspective for all relevant keywords. In part three we’ll be taking a look at this in more detail by slicing and dicing the ranking data, in an attempt to understand exactly which competitor pages, per category/search trend, Google likes the best and why.


SES LondonOptimising Digital Marketing Campaigns with Search, Social and Analytics

At SES London (9-11 Feb) you’ll get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in Paid, Owned, Earned, Integrated Media and Business Intelligence to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. Register by 31 October to take advantage of Early Bird Rates.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Robust Content for the Holiday Season

Searches are seasonal in nature. Common sense dictates that the things people search for during one part of the year would be very different from those during another and vice versa. Winter will see more searches related to warm clothing, heating, and insulation services, while summer will likely have vacation planning, outdoor sports, and more on the keywords agenda.

While search marketers make it a point to continuously monitor the performance of their keywords and modify their PPC marketing bids based on rising and falling demand or on website traffic and conversion rates, this process of modifying content marketing to suit seasonal changes is only just catching on.

Remember, two things set apart the holiday season from the rest of the year. Firstly, holiday shopping is a necessity, not a choice.

And secondly, people have taken to search to find just the perfect gift in the shortest possible time.

These are exemplified by Bing’s latest infographic that shows you in real time the number of searches U.S. consumers are conducting and the dollars they’re spending.

bing-holiday-revenue

That’s 64,000 searches and $3.3 million spent in 30 seconds!And it’s not even November yet!

Your job as a marketer is to feed users’ what they want and help them use your content as all the window shopping they’ll do all through the holidays.

Zero in on the Right Keywords

Much as we hate to admit it (especially after not provided), keywords form the backbone of any successful content marketing strategy. Identifying your ever-changing keywords and tailoring content in the holiday season around those keywords is what will keep that cash register ringing throughout the holidays.

Use tools like Google Trends to identify when your keywords are most active and create a content roadmap based on that.

pumpkin-spice-latte

Google Trends tells you the seasonality of a term like “pumpkin latte” – clearly people search for pumpkin lattes in the fall and the rest of the year sees little or no action around this particular keyword phrase.

pumpkin-spice-latte-searches

It will also tell you keywords related to your original keyword or phrase. Use these keywords while creating your content over and above your core keyword lists. Make sure that your content has references to these related keywords to improve its rankings during the right time of the year.

Most sites these days have (if not, they must!) onsite search options. Comb through the onsite searches made by your users to learn about what is trending on your site currently and give you an idea of what to promote.

Identify what keywords are performing for your competitors and build content around those. Tools like Alexa, SEMrush, and Google’s own Keyword Planner Tool give you a fair idea of what draws traffic to your competitors’ sites and what you ought to start building up content for.

Use Google Webmaster tools to identify the phrases that bring you the most traffic and conversions on a seasonal basis.

Use Rich Content to Make Your Point and Be More Engaging

Google Panda’s release three years ago sounded the death knell for sparse, weak content that was created with the sole aim of sending links back to websites. With new Panda updates out this month, the focus on great content is even sharper.

The success of rich media platforms like YouTube and Pinterest point toward the voracious appetite that users have for great visually appealing content. Leverage rich media like images, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more to reach your content to your users.

Offer users shopping inspiration through beautiful boards on your Pinterest page or Instagram account. Tap the holiday season’s shopping fever by running contests that reward engagement in the form of holiday goodies.

YouTube is a huge contender when it comes to holiday window shopping. As the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube combines Google’s search muscle with the browse-ability of Facebook or Pinterest. Create “how-to” video guides on YouTube to help shoppers mix and match their holiday purchases. Offer advice on what to buy for whom, what are the season’s latest trends, and so on via interactive videos on YouTube.

Holiday Shopping Needs Mobile-Ready Content

We have all been bombarded with constant updates about the rise and rise of smartphones that having a mobile friendly website is a given. During the holidays, however, it’s not just your website that needs to be mobile-optimized.

According to research by Google and Ipsos Media, 52 percent of online shoppers used their smartphones throughout the shopping process while holiday shopping last year.

Using them “throughout the shopping process” refers to using smartphones for:

  • Checking out gifting options and ideas
  • Hunting down the best deals and discounts around via mobile
  • Searching for store locations
  • Price comparisons across brands – both in-store and at home
  • Actual purchases

Make sure your content enables users to navigate through this “shopping process” successfully with posts about gift ideas, deals, and more.

Custora’s Pulse E-Commerce Survey showed that nearly 40 percent of all holiday sales on Black Friday were done on mobile devices. This means, people don’t just research on mobile anymore. Mobile purchases have finally become a real thing, big enough to threaten sales via desktops.

Let your content reflect this changing customer dynamic, by not just offering interesting or useful information, but also featuring products and services that readers can click though and purchase directly on their mobile devices. From Pinterest posts that link back to your website to Facebook posts with a “Buy” button enabled to even mobile-friendly emails that let users shop straight through their inboxes, let your content be actionable on mobile and not just instructional.

Time It Right, Plan Ahead of Time

holiday-publishing-dates

Image Source

The data above shows that even a week after Cyber Monday, the lift in online sales touched 80 percent over regular sales.

Similarly, in 2013, Christmas shopping saw multiple peaks throughout December with a spike on the Monday preceding Christmas. Halloween, too, has turned into another “shopping holiday,” the exception being that purchases are thankfully limited to costumes, Halloween décor, party-related items, and candy, of course.

If holiday shopping has transformed from a handful of appointment shopping events to a two-month-long jamboree, that means you need to be ready with your content at least by mid-September for your business to stand a fighting chance for holiday shopping market share.

Plan your content calendar to time the release of new content according to the current time of the year and while still offering solid visibility for your brand. Content needs to be released in stages across the appropriate platforms to build up to a crescendo on the holiday. Here’s a look at a sample content calendar for the holidays, put together by Alan Harris from Vertical Response.

holiday-promotion-schedule

Notice how Harris builds up to the main event (on the 30th of the month) by publishing various forms of content like postcards, email campaigns, and social media posts starting from the beginning of the month?

For all those of you who are not 100 percent clued-in, the same piece by Harris also offers a very handy list of “marketing holidays” for the rest of this year.

Over to You

Understanding the psyche of the “holiday shopping ninja” equips you to be faster, more relevant, and more conversion-oriented during the time of the year that really matters. So nudge over your deals and discounts related posts and make room for content that speaks to users, not at them.

Even if you didn’t care about your bottom-line, a due diligence of search trends for this season will make sure you are not dressed as Mr. Blobby this Halloween but rock the party dressed as Elsa (from Frozen), Spiderman, or even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

In other words, “happy searching” leads to happy holidays!


SES LondonOptimising Digital Marketing Campaigns with Search, Social and Analytics

At SES London (9-11 Feb) you’ll get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in Paid, Owned, Earned, Integrated Media and Business Intelligence to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. Register by 31 October to take advantage of Early Bird Rates.

Writing Your Way to the Top of Search and Social Results

write-way-to-seo

Search and social media writing – we’ve come a long way in the past 10 years. Hiring nameless, faceless, anonymous writers from underground sources at $25 a pop is so yesterday. Poof! No more. Garbage in, garbage out.

Today’s smart brands are putting their money where the return on investment (ROI) is, investing in the growth and development of real authors. 2015 brings a new set of standards, the art of producing real, genuine, authentic, and high-quality content coming from an accredited and trusted real person with a notable byline.

Fast and furious content days are over. Search and social experimental writing is history. It’s the dawn of authenticity where bots, fakes, and frauds can’t survive. We’ve entered the era of intelligent content that is laced with smart optimization and is penned by qualified writers who have a name, rank, and serial number of credentials and influence.

Follow Google’s Right Way to Write

Where do brands begin with gaining quality content? Start by hiring writers with a reputation backed by:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trust

Brands and marketers can gain inspiration from the E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trust) concept outlined in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines when creating quality content guidelines for Web pages, social media posts, press releases, or educational guides.

After all, don’t we want to influence the quantity and quality of traffic to a website or blog from search and social? If we look at just Google search traffic, organic results dominate, receiving about 80-82 percent of its search traffic, while ads receive a mere 18 to 20 percent of search traffic. In today’s race for attracting quality eyeballs, the most influential factor can be in the writing quality of a brand’s content, down to every last title tag, meta description, and tweet.

“High-quality writing conveys expertise and trust signals,” said Virginia Nussey, content and media manager at Bruce Clay, Inc. “The better the writer, that is a trust signal of their understanding of the topic.”

SEO and Writing – It’s So Meta

Optimization and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you think about it, it should be easier to teach experienced writers how to optimize than to teach technical SEO programmers how to write. Make it a best practice to invest in educating writers, content creators, and even your public relations team with basic SEO training. This can turn your quality content into search- and social-friendly content that can be better found in search, whether that searcher is performing a Google search or a Twitter search.

Provide writers with data such as targeted keyword phrases and trending hashtags that can help them help you optimize better. Invest in your writers with training and resources so they can deliver. Utilize reliable SEO resources that offer free guides, content, and tutorials on writing for SEO; these organizations make a living offering free SEO educational materials and tutorials:

Tip: Free can cost you if the information is outdated! Be sure to offer your writers resources that are provide current and up-to-date information that follow, for example, Google’s and Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms.

The Long and Short of Content

Let’s face it – as brands and marketers we are writing all forms of content ranging from 100-character tweets to 600-2,000+-word blog or news articles. We are writing for the attention deficit mobile user and the desktop power researcher. The one thing in common is that the content, regardless of size, must be well-written and optimized to maximize the search results and social sharing opportunities.

Going for the Hail Mary of long-form content such as a case study, guide or in-depth analysis? Make sure to:

  • Use bullets
  • Tell stories
  • Use call out quotes of some of the main points
  • Keep it visual with charts, graphs, or infographics
  • Think about the mobile use and have a visual slideshow version

As brands morph into news publishing-like models, it’s important to take note of what types of content work best on news sites. Experts say to avoid 500-800 word counts because it’s not long enough to have substance and too long for the average reader’s attention span. But quality content of 400 words is about what today’s social and mobile readers really have time to read. Hmmm…makes sense now that newswire services such as PRNewswire recommended word count is around 400 words.

“I recommend blog posts be at least 1,000 words in length and offer up the most detailed content,” said expert blogger Ian Clary of Razor Social. “But that does not mean a 400 well-written post can’t be successful.”

Pinpointing the Persona

Regardless of size, the target audience is what is important to a brand’s writer. Who are we writing for and targeting? The more specific information we know about our buyer personas, the easier it is for the writer to create content and for the marketer to properly target – ultimately impacting the brand’s results. Creating persona profiles that will illustrate who the content is intended for can create a magnetic win-win by reaching the right audience with the right message. Take Starbucks as an example – you might be writing for Sally Sales Executive who is a frequent coffee customer looking for reliable Wi-Fi and a temporary desk with a latte on the side. Or you could be writing for Stay-at-Home Dad David who has five minutes to get his java fix refill before the after school carpool. Both are possible personas for Starbucks, but both require two different types of writing style of content.

Share Words of Social Influence

best-words-on-google-plus

If you have research and data that will help a writer include words that work best for social networks or tips in email writing, do share it with them! QuickSprout produced an infographic to help writers understand what words work best in different social media networks:

  • To gain more retweets on Twitter use the words “Free,” “Retweet,” or “New Blog Post”
  • Facebook users respond best to words such as “Inspires,” “Discounts,” and “Submit”
  • Looking to land a deal on LinkedIn? The best words to include are “On Time,” “Accomplished,” “Created,” and “Researched,” but skip the overused words such as “Creative,” “Responsible,” and “Strategic.”
  • Google+ users take action on words such as “Share,” “Promote,” and “Increase.”

User-Generated Content

When going for the trust factor, your brand is actually not your best and most reliable source of content for your customers. It’s the reviews that matter most to today’s social-savvy consumer. So although you want to invest in the most qualified writers, your best writers don’t actually have to be hired guns; they can be your biggest brand advocates who are ready and willing to write reviews for your products and services.

Less Is More

Filling space with junk content results in junk audience or no audience. It’s most important for businesses to spend more time writing less content that’s better content. So that means reduce the editorial calendar work and publish less with an eye on a more focused execution.

When Facebook finally admitted that organic reach was down for many businesses, they explained why by pointing out that Facebook is dedicated to show only the highest-quality content and reducing the amount of spam-like content in the newsfeed.

“Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed,” noted Facebook’s Brian Boland in Facebook’s Product News.

Bottom Line: The search engines and social networks are drawing a line in the sand and calling for quality content. This means it’s up to brands and marketers to invest not just in hiring quality writers, but also training and educating writers in SEO best practices, content styles, and trends as well as being included in the brand’s research process and findings such as buyer personas profiles.


SES LondonOptimising Digital Marketing Campaigns with Search, Social and Analytics

At SES London (9-11 Feb) you’ll get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in Paid, Owned, Earned, Integrated Media and Business Intelligence to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. Register by 31 October to take advantage of Early Bird Rates.

Save Time on Social Media: One Profile, One Mission

Once you have found out where your target audience lives on social media, and set up social media profiles on the chosen networks, congratulations—you’re almost there! The next step is figuring out your engagement strategy.

To manage your time and resources efficiently, your strategy should require few resources and result in a far reach for your brand on social media. The best way to achieve this is to find a focus for each social media profile your business owns, and determine how this purpose fits into your social media strategy. You can start by creating a mission statement for each social media profile.

Doing so is important because it saves your business from two major social media mistakes: leaving a profile neglected, and automatically posting the same content across all your social channels—which increases the likelihood of your social media audience treating your social messaging as spam. In order to avoid that, you want each profile to serve its unique purpose.

Here is how you can identify a unique purpose and create a mission statement for each social media profile:

You should use all your social networks to engage with your current and potential customers. However, you can’t have always afford to concentrate your social media efforts on the same task—it puts you under the risk of ignoring other needs for your brand’s presence on social media. Specific features of each social media network lend themselves to do certain things better, whether it’s a benefit of visuals, as is the case with Instagram and Pinterest, or a well-defined nature of the network’s audience, such as LinkedIn.

After you identify the unique purpose of each social media profile managed by your business, see how each social network fits into your social media marketing plan by creating a mission statement. Your mission statement includes the description of each social media profile’s purpose, and how this purpose contributes to your business goals.

We will use (social network) for (purpose of this social network) in order to help (business goal).

Record your mission statement and make it accessible to everyone who is responsible for social media management in your business. Whenever you check the progress on your goals, or perform a social media audit, check if your performance on each of the social media profiles fits the mission statement. If you find that the performance on a social network fails to achieve the goals you have set, re-evaluate and update the mission statement.

Facebook

Several social networks offer paid advertising options for businesses. Facebook Insights offers useful information about your social media following, so you can choose your target audience by age, gender, spoken language, and geographical location. The latter targeting dimension is especially powerful, particularly in cases where your business is looking to expand into a new region, or run a promotional campaign in one of the locations. You can choose to design your own Sponsored posts, or boost new or existing posts.

Sample mission statement: We will use Facebook for advertising to target a specific audience in order to help increase sales.

Twitter

As per the unspoken rules of social media engagement, you should be interacting with customers on all of your company’s accounts. However, Twitter’s capability to respond to @mentions and direct messages in real-time lends itself to be your top tool for customer support. If your resources allow it, have a separate Help Twitter handle dedicated solely to your customer inquiries; if not, ensure that the person in charge of your business’s Twitter account is well-connected to the customer support team.

For social savvy customer support teams, applications like Zendesk help create support tickets out of Tweets received on the official Twitter account. You can use Zendesk for Hootsuite application to monitor several accounts, as well as mentions of your company, and assign Tweets that need attention to different team members for faster response times.

Sample mission statement: We will use Twitter for customer service in order to increase customer happiness and promote customer loyalty.

LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn has established itself as the professional social network, use your company’s LinkedIn profile to connect with fellow experts in your field and keep an eye on your competitors. If your company has a blog, LinkedIn is also a great social network to help out your content marketing strategy, as young professionals turn to the professional network to gain industry advice. Use your LinkedIn profile to share industry knowledge through the network’s improved publishing functions.

The prevalent professional tone doesn’t mean you can’t justify being creative with your LinkedIn presence—just take a look at Mattel and Barbie’s official LinkedIn profile. As long as your social media profile is geared towards networking with other professionals in your field, connecting with the community, and promoting brand awareness, you can experiment with the rest of the parameters.

Sample mission statement: We will use LinkedIn for building our company’s professional network to help establish our brand as experts in the field.

Instagram

Instagram has experienced an impressive spike in user growth over the last year, and the visual social network is not showing any signs of slowing down. In addition to the benefits of reaching out to younger audiences (almost ¾ of Instagram daily active users are teens), Instagram’s highly visual nature and more casual tone lets you share quirkier content on your Instagram profile.

Use your brand’s Instagram account to share videos and photos that offer a glimpse into your company culture. This can be anything from a “behind the scenes” look at the latest project or campaign you are working on, to a typical office scene that exemplifies your core values. You can also use Instagram to recognize outstanding employees, and tell the story of how this individual contributes to the success of your company—it’s important for your customers to know the faces behind the brand.

Sample mission statement: We will use Instagram for promoting and sharing our company culture to help with recruitment and employee happiness.

Google+

There are over 3.5 billion Google searches performed every day. Having a higher pagerank in Google search should always be a priority in your digital marketing plan, and the best way to achieve that is keeping your Google+ page active and up-to-date. Google favours Google+ content, especially if it has been optimized for the right keywords and offers valuable information for a wide audience. Educate yourself on the relationship between SEO, social media and content marketing.

Sample mission statement: We will use Google+ for boosting SEO value of our online content to help increase visibility.

Pinterest

Pinterest has gone a long way from the platform primarily used for foodies and wedding planners—this social network’s superpower is e-commerce. Shopify recently identified Pinterest as one of the leading platforms for social sales. It’s imperative that you get familiar with this virtual pinboard and the best practices of using your Pinterest profile for business. If you’re in the retail or restaurant business, use the network’s visual capabilities to create attractive Pins with your products. If your product is easier to describe with words than pictures, use another highly sharable medium on Pinterest—infographics. Not only will a well-designed infographic help establish you as a knowledgeable figure in the your field, it can also generate more sales from users who find the content useful and want to get to know your brand.

Sample mission statement: We will use Pinterest for sharing high-quality images to help promote our products and increase sales.

Let Hootsuite Pro help you plan your social media strategy.

Try it for free for 30 days!

Can Groupon Break Into the Search Market?

In an effort to move beyond your inbox, discount aggregator Groupon recently unveiled Pages, a directory of more than 7 million businesses full of information such as phone numbers, hours of operation, menus, and website URLs.

By beefing up its website, Groupon hopes to bring more incoming traffic, rather than relying solely on users redeeming deals via email. At the same time, the increased visibility that comes with detailed listings pages increases visibility and social engagement, and may make businesses more inclined to purchase offers. If enough visitors request a deal on a specific page, Groupon will work on making it happen.

“We’re giving these businesses a place to put their current specials that they have on chalkboards in front of their business in front of millions of consumers who are already looking for something to buy and have a credit card on file,” says Nick Halliwell, a Groupon representative.

Halliwell adds that if a business hasn’t worked with Groupon in the past, Pages can hopefully get the dialogue started.

pr-adventura-logo

The feature, which was tested in five cities before its introduction last week, is similar to Yelp, right down to the user reviews. Users can also request deals on pages, giving Groupon enough customer feedback to know which businesses to prioritize working with.

Though the two platforms are inherently different – Groupon being more about discovery than Yelp, where users typically have a destination – Benjamin Spiegel, managing director of strategy at GroupM, thinks Yelp has an advantage over Pages.

“[But] one thing [Groupon does have] going for them is on the link equity side,” Spiegel says. “If there’s a great special on Groupon, people will link to it, they’ll tweet it.”

Another key difference is Groupon’s plan to turn management of the pages over to business owners. With Groupon’s Gnome tablet, business owners can track user content, respond to people’s ratings, and redeem promotions, among other features that will be tested in the near future.

Spiegel believes that business owners will be well-served by Pages from a search point of view as long as they use unique content on their pages.

“From an organic-side perspective, unless they’re adding valuable content, it will not perform well,” Spiegel says. “If it’s all aggregated content just copied and pasted, there will be no search benefit, and Google is not going to keep (the Groupon page) in mind.”

Groupon has been on an innovation streak lately, introducing time-based deals and an app that gives users cash back on their grocery store purchases in the last two months. Next up is a plan to tie listings to reservation sites and scheduling services, ensuring that users can find and buy from local businesses without leaving the site.


SES LondonOptimising Digital Marketing Campaigns with Search, Social and Analytics

At SES London (9-11 Feb) you’ll get an overview of the latest tools, tips, and tactics in Paid, Owned, Earned, Integrated Media and Business Intelligence to streamline your marketing campaigns in 2015. Register by 31 October to take advantage of Early Bird Rates.

A Social Media Audit Template For Social Media Managers

Download social media audit template

Not sure where to start? To help you navigate the template, we also put together this 6-step guide on how to execute a social media audit.

Execute a social media audit in these 6 steps

Step 1: Create a social media audit spreadsheet

Creating a spreadsheet will allow you to have a home for your social media audit. As you go through these 6 steps, you’ll see that the spreadsheet will start automatically adding new columns. To start, create a column for social network, URL to your profile on that social network, and owner. The ‘Owner’ field may seem superfluous, but it’s actually really important to keep track of this information—it allows you to know who owns the password and who is in charge of posting and engaging with followers on that social profile.

Social media audit Step 1

Step 2: Go on a search for your social presence on Google

Go on to Google and search your company name to see which social media profiles show up. This will allow you to see if there are any imposters using your company name, and find out if the right social media profiles are appearing on Google. You can either create a separate spreadsheet to track the results of this search, or add a new column, labelled ‘Shutdown Y/N’, in the original spreadsheet. The purpose of this is knowing whether you need to track down an imposter to tell them to shut down their account, or contact the social network to ask them to interfere with the matter.

Social media audit Step 2

Step 3: Evaluate your social media profiles

This is an important part of your social media audit. Just like a social media marketing plan, you need to always evaluate your social media profiles. During the evaluation process, create a mission statement for each profile. Make sure each profile aligns with your business goals and objectives—this will help you in deciding whether being present on that social network contributes to your overall strategy, and whether or not it’s worth for your business to keep that profile.

Social media audit Step 3

Step 4: Make sure your social media profiles are on brand

Now that you know which social media profiles you’re going to keep, it’s time to check that each of these profiles are on brand. This means making sure you have a proper profile photo, cover photo, icons, bios and descriptions, and that the URL is correct.

Social media audit Step 4

Step 5: Centralize the ownership of your passwords

The process of doing a social media audit can help you make sure that all your social media profiles are secure. One way to test this is centralizing the ownership of the passwords for each profile. For example: you can have your IT department own the key to all the passwords for the social media profiles. Then use a password managing tool like LastPass to share access on a need-to-use basis.

Social media audit Step 5

Step 6: Create a process

Once you’re done your social media audit, it’s time to take what you learned and create an internal process when it comes to creating new social profiles going forward. Create a criteria and take note of who will approve the requests.

For example, take note of:

  • Requester
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What type of content will be posted in this profile
  • Who is going to respond to content?
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    Congrats on conducting your social media audit!

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