7 Excellent New Features For Brands On Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook

At Social Media Week LA 2016 there was a lot of discussion about how brands can look to market effectively on newer platforms such as Snapchat. It was generally agreed that brands should focus on utility, rather than message amplification. Offer the user something than improves their existing communication on the channel, rather than try to interrupt it. At the same time all social media channels are continuing to add features to their platforms that improve their effectiveness for marketers. Here are some examples:

 

  1. Snapchat Updates Stories and Discover Pages: “The Discover page now features a Pinterest-style mason grid of tiles, while the Stories page now combines the two rows of static Discover channels and Live Stories into one scrollable row of non-friend content.” TechCrunch reports that this recent update makes “professionally made and community-curated content just as attractive as what friends share on the app” and “should make building the channels more lucrative for publishers.”

 

  1. Twitter Introduces Twitter Insiders: Twitter introduced Twitter Insiders, “a one-stop solution for recruitment, design and collection of live research – and its goal is to make consumer and market research more timely and accessible.” According to Twitter’s company blog, this new program is comprised of “a network of more than 12,000 Twitter users that participate in research studies… [and] act as an anonymous virtual panel from across the US and the UK, inspiring businesses to make a more customer-centric decision.” Twitter gives agencies and brands the option to work directly with Twitter Insiders or “design studies with the help of C Space, a team of consultants who specialize in fostering collaboration between companies and their customers.”

 

 

  1. Facebook Rolls Out Video in Comments Worldwide: Facebook announced that “videos in comments are now available worldwide! You can upload them as replies to posts by people and pages, as well as within groups and events. It’s supported on desktop web, iOS and Android.” This feature can be accessed by clicking the camera button in the comment field.

 

  1. Twitter Makes Embedding Twitter Timelines Easier: In March 2016, Twitter “upgraded the embedded timeline to a modern new design that beautifully showcases Tweets across your desktop and mobile sites.” This past week, Twitter announced that it’s “made it easier than ever to add these rich, responsive Tweet displays directly to your website or CMS.” Rather than needing to create timeline widgets for their accounts, users can customize an embeddable timeline display on Twitter Publish and simply copy and paste the code into their website.

 

  1. Facebook Rolls Out Support for 360 Photos on the News Feed: “For the first time, you can now easily share 360 photos on Facebook. Simply take a panorama with your phone or capture a 360-degree photo using a 360 photo app or 360 camera, and then post it on Facebook as you would a normal photo. From there, [Facebook will] convert it to an immersive 360 photo that people can explore, similar to how people experience 360 videos on Facebook.” Support for 360 photos is now available worldwide on the web and the latest versions of the Facebook app for iOS and Android.

 

  1. LinkedIn Introduces Premium Insights: LinkedIn Premium subscribers now have access to Premium Insights, a new feature that provides “unique and timely data about the companies that interest you – their growth as well as hiring trends by function.” According to LinkedIn’s official company blog, these new company insights are currently only available with Business Plus, Sales Navigator, and select Talent Solutions subscriptions.

 

  1. Tumblr Adds GIF Button to Messaging: Tumblr rolled out a new GIF button that’s “especially useful for starting conversations, ending conversations and as word alternatives in the middle of conversations.” Simply open a conversation in Tumblr’s messaging feature and click on the GIF button to add an image to your conversation.

 

How To Structure Your Blog For Maximum SEO

Regular blogging takes time. But you can reap tremendous rewards in traffic to your website and valuable leads. But you need to make sure that your writing is SEO friendly. What is the difference between regular blog and an SEO friendly blog? Read below to find tricks to make your blog more SEO friendly.

There isn’t much difference between a regular blog and an SEO friendly blog. But the little difference helps the blogger get the most views. An SEO friendly blog is optimized and written with little tweaks which help the blog show in result of search engines keyword searches.

An SEO friendly blog is written around a keyword. You have to make sure to have the keyword cleverly used at least in the headers and if possible in the paragraphs. The Google crawlers while looking for a particular keyword reads through the headers first and the blog with higher usage of the keyword gets chosen to be shown in the top result. Also make sure your title as well as the headers use the keyword. Search engine crawlers assume that the article with the keyword being used the most in the title and header would be the best representative of the keyword. So make sure you are using your keyword wisely.

 Must haves for an SEO friendly blog:

For starters pick a topic and search keywords on search engines for that topic. Make sure your title of the blog consists of the keyword and is catchy enough that the reader would click it. After picking your keyword follow the following steps.

  • Headline: Make sure you write compelling headline, your headline helps readers make a decision if the article is worth reading or not.
  • Your Opening statement: If you have a good opening sentence then your reader would most likely read the entire article, so try to connect with your readers.
  • Sub Heading: Good subheadings are the ones which give the readers a benefit and also make them promise which you keep under the heading.
  • Content: Make your content more practical and keep the promise you made in your sub headings by answering the compelling questions you asked before.
  • Image: An important factor for your SEO which we usually look over. Search engines also crawls through the images on the blog post, so make sure you have a keyword related picture complementing your blog as well.

How can you make your blog stand out on search results?

If you follow the above helping steps and optimize your blog, your blog should stand out. Make sure you have a good title, headlines and relatable content for the users. If you are new to blogging, best way to write a good SEO friendly blog would be to look at other blogs. Blogs help business website to show up more in search engines results and if you want to optimize your business site may be hiring a marketing company would be the best option.

Our writers specialize in writing SEO friendly blogs and when you are up against other businesses, hiring specialized writers is your best option.

Doug Baxter is CEO of Cut to the Content, an agency that provides content strategy, creative and production to brands and the agencies that serve them.

 

 

The 3 Ingredients In A Successful Content Marketing Plan

We estimate that up to 70% of the investment in producing content is wasted. From a marketing investment perspective this is a disaster. There are a number of reasons that contribute to this failure. Chief among them are:

 

  • The fact that content is frequently produced, and then not utilized, or under utilized. A lot of the time it is buried somewhere on a website where no one will ever find it.
  • Content is not formatted correctly for the channel in which it is deployed
  • Content is just not developed in a way that it is interesting to the audience

The final factor is something that we encounter with clients every day. Their natural inclination can be to focus on developing a message around their brand, and getting it out there in the way that they did with traditional marketing. The fact is that this way of communicating, the push method, really doesn’t work any more. Brands really need to communicate in a way that that pulls audiences towards them with by educating, rewarding or entertaining them.

 

So, when we look at content strategy for our B2B clients at Cut to the Content we really focus clients on 3 brutally simple ideas:

  1. Hold the sell. As most readers are looking to learn more about a topic, do not start bombarding them with promotional jabber. Content sharing focuses on engaging them through quality articles packed with valuable insights to encourage them to learn more. Remember, in the sales process it takes anywhere between three and thirteen interactions for a prospect to turn into a qualified lead, so starting a “social conversation” with a sales pitch baked in will chase away potential customers, so the goal is to get them to stick around to learn something.
  2. Think of your audience, not your product. When creating and sharing content, always prioritize an audience first approach. What would the readers want to learn more about? What obstacles are they encountering and how can you overcome those? When you tap into your prospects’ needs and issues, you can create content that they can align themselves to and encourages them to continue the education process.
  3. Become a valuable information resource. Publish helpful content on a consistent basis will give readers a reason to visit your blog time after time. Becoming a go-to resource is critical to building up followers and readers. We also suggest that carefully offering a white paper, e-book or case study to visitors is a way to gain more in-depth information.

 

As brands increase their investment into content marketing, they need to remember that telling is not selling so put your audience’s interests before your own. Content will only grow in quantity on the web, and the way to avoid content blindness and do it right is never use sales pitches disguised as articles. Instead they should focus on sharing their expertise and insights. Always write to benefit the reader. As time progresses readers will take note of their genuine approach to offering solutions and then will be happy to engage with the sales process.

Please contact us if we can help you with content strategy, creative or production:

 

‘Umbrella Revolution’ Demonstrates Political Power of Social Media

Protesters in Hong Kong

Protesters in Hong Kong

The protests taking place in Hong Kong over the last week remind us once again of the political power of social media in creating real turning points in global societies.

The “Umbrella Revolution” was so named after protesters used umbrellas to protect themselves against tear gas fired at them by the Hong Kong police. It was adopted as a hashtag and instantly spread across the globe through various social media channels.

One of the most interesting dynamics of the unfolding story is the global perspective adopted by all parties involved. Social media users have been quick to draw comparisons to the recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where local police used disproportionate force. China’s efficient “Great Firewall,” which allows the government to effectively censor the internet has, for the most part, kept images and news from Hong Kong off the mainland’s internet. Popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter are blocked, and China has blocked access to Instagram.

But the longer the protests go on, the more likely images and news from Hong Kong will seep into China. It is getting harder for the authorities to block images coming out of Hong Kong as many are using a mobile phone app called FireChat, which does not require a network connection to send messages because it uses bluetooth technology.

Meanwhile, students in the US having been showing their solidarity with demonstrators by launching a campaign that urged students across the US to wear yellow ribbons on October 1 – which was the main day for protests by the Occupy Central movement.

All of this focuses attention on the reaction of the Chinese authorities who will not want to repeat the mistakes they made at Tianamen Square.

Social media has again proved that it can highlight, curb and ultimately prevent human rights abuses.

First the CIA, Now the Church Wants in on Social

Pontifex

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the CIA is using social media to demonstrate their new openness, and show the friendly face of the organization.

If you thought that was sinister, listen to this: The Catholic Church is now looking to embrace digital media in order to ‘give the internet a soul’.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, the Pope’s social media guru, paid a visit to Los Angeles last week and told the 3rd Annual Catholic Collaboration Technology Conference that the Church needs to increase it’s investment in digital communication in order to prevent it from being absent from people’s lives.

Pope Francis himself has been a strong advocate for the Church recognizing the opportunity presented by social media. He set up a Twitter account in 2012 using the handle Pontifex. I personally like the fact that his tweets go no further than asking his followers to help, support, and #pray for our fellow man.

However, the Catholic Church as a whole will encounter some serious difficulty as it engages with social and digital channels. These channels are forums for a passionate ongoing debate as to whether the church itself is a force for good or evil. In my own case, I was physically abused by Christian Brothers during my Irish Catholic primary education. It only took a few clicks to see that many of the victims of one particularly nasty ‘Christian Brother’s sexual and physical abuse are using social media to share their horrendous experiences. Any messaging developed and published by the Church will have to compete with this.

Most of all, I would like to see the Catholic Church use social media to understand, atone, and reconcile its past, rather than to adopt a new evangelical mission to recruit new members. Social media respects authenticity, and as much as I like the new pope, new media channels should not be an opportunity to escape the past.

You Can’t Tweet That!

Can businesses hold you accountable for what you say on social media?

Many of us have taken to social media to berate brands when they have failed to meet expectations that we have of them. You would think that it is our digitally democratic right to express ourselves, and share our thoughts with our network.

Apparently not.

Southwest Airlines, for so long an effective pioneer and practitioner of social media marketing, has gotten itself into hot water by throwing a passenger and his family off a flight because he criticized their commitment to customer service at the check-in desk.

Duff Watson had received priority seating on a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Minneapolis, but his two children had not, and were not allowed to board with him. He boarded alone and once he had taken his seat he tweeted “Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA.”

Shortly afterwards he and his family were removed from the flight by Southwest Airlines staff. The agent reported him because she believed he had displayed ‘threatening behavior’.

This ridiculous situation only goes to show that even great brands are only as strong as their rudest member of staff. If he appeared ‘threatening’ at the gate, fair enough. Do not allow him to board. But Southwest should never have exploited their passenger’s freedom of expression by throwing him off after the tweet in question.

I am prepared to admit that I am guilty of a similar offense to Southwest Airlines. Before interviewing candidates for social media positions at our agency, I look at their social channels to help me form an assessment of their approach to social media. I do this because it is related to the job they are applying for, and I do not do it for non-social media positions.

We all engage and share our lives willingly on social media. We also realize that there are tools out there that allow marketers to know more about us than we are comfortable. However, brands, organizations, and agencies need to make sure they don’t cross the boundaries of personal freedom and expression.

Mr Duff has rejected Southwest Airlines’ offer of $50 for each passenger and says he will never fly with them again.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this. It has been 30 years since 1984, the title of George Orwell’s great treatise on universal supervision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New York Times Will Prove that Newspapers Still Have Power to Create Change

The New York Times published its most powerful and controversial front cover in many years today. The image on page 1 of the July 17 issue shows the crumpled and disfigured body of a small Palestinian boy, killed by Israeli shells along with 3 other boys as they played on a beach in Gaza. They were the sons of a local Gaza fisherman who had been seeking an escape from the constant shelling of the Gaza strip by Israeli forces over the last 10 days.

A quick internet search about the current conflict between Hamas and the IDF will quickly reveal shocking images on both sides.

But nothing prepares you for that haunting picture of a curly haired child torn to pieces as he sought a few moments of play and laughter with his friends.

The reality is that Israel depends on the tacit approval of the US administration for the manner in which it conducts its internal security and regional relations.

Israel had been warning for many days that it would put boots on the ground in Gaza as the only way to root out the Hamas terrorists who are firing rockets into Israel. The New York Times may have put an end to this strategy. Now may be the time the US administration stands up to Israel and says, “No, we don’t accept this. Stop, or we will not support you anymore.”

One of the completely understandable outcomes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is that the political atmosphere in the US has become very conservative. Papers such as the New York Times have been labeled as being ‘liberal’ newspapers. However, along with The Washington Post it still represents the conscience of an America that was more successful in bringing hope and peace to the world, rather than bombs and ‘Freedom Fries’.

Let this image end the lunacy.