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With an estimated 2.77 billion social-media users worldwide, the potential to attract new audiences and engage with existing ones is larger than ever.  Producing killer social media content doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and there are plenty of shortcuts to help you get ahead . From driving traffic to your site to opening communication directly with your audience, the benefits of social-media use are endless.

The real key is identifying which content gains the attention of your target market and how it can be used to drive successful results. To make sure you’re ahead of the online marketing game, we’ve listed 10 ways that content can boost social-media success.

1. Interactive content

Interactive content is a great way to get more than just comments and likes. This content can come in the form of competitions, quizzes and prize draws. By getting customers to engage, they are more likely to remember your brand.

A great example of brand that understands the power of this strategy is online media company Buzzfeed. Known for its blog titles framed as questions and regular social-media quizzes, it has nearly 12 million likes on Facebook alone.

2. Ebooks

Attract audiences to your site by using learning resources to position your brand as a market leader. Promoting your ebook across social media is a key tactic to gaining the attention of audiences searching for your topic.

By using social media, you can focus on reaching specific niches and audiences through paid posts. A top tip is to have a data capture to get access to the ebook. You can then build on your audience database for future marketing efforts.

3. Infographics

It’s no surprise that infographics have had the biggest increase of 65% usage among b2b marketers. Quick, easy and to the point, they tap into the visual appeal of social media.

Useful for increasing engagement, they simplify complicated information and capture audiences’ attention. The content can also be used as part of your outreach strategy. By sending the link or embed code to key influencers, your brand benefits from an increase in shares, likes and traffic if picked up. There are plenty of cost effective infographic design services out there.

4. Podcasts

According to government regulator Ofcom, the number of podcast listeners has doubled in the past five years. Similar to interactive content, podcasts instantly involve the listener by talking directly to them.

Through using paid promotion, you can target specific audiences and niche markets on social media. This guarantees that content is being heard by the right people.

Top tip: On most social networks, you’re unable to upload just audio. A trick is to make an image and then place audio over the top so that your podcast can be uploaded as a video.

5. Live streams

Keep your audience up to date with your brand by using the live stream function on your social platforms. Through setting up a sneak preview or insight to a new product or service, you can keep audiences involved with your brand every step of the way.

A key strategy to engage with new and existing audiences, it is also a useful tool to build on lead generation.

6. Webinars

48% of buyers benefit from webinars midway through their buying journey. Webinars provide audiences with key knowledge and information surrounding your industry. Presenting the brand as trustworthy and knowledgable, make the most of this content by promoting it on social media.

Resourceful and cost-saving, you can repurpose content already created and reuse webinars from previous email campaigns to attract more engagement.

7. Downloadable guides

Everybody loves a freebie. Give back to your audience by offering downloadable content through your social channels. Just like ebooks, put a strategy in place to reshare the content to gain maximum engagement.

Through targeting specific interests you can guarantee an increase traffic to your site. make sure that you monitor what works and what doesn’t. If a post is doing particularly well you can also reuse it a few months later.

8. VR Content

Show your brand as forward-thinking by creating virtual reality content. Gaining immediate attention on social media, it results in attracting new audiences to your site. Most brands see this type of content as challenging and therefore avoid it. This makes virtual content a good way to be differentiated.

A brand that uses this technique is Disney, when promoting the West End musical production of The Lion King. With many thousands of views, the content continues to achieve engagement.

9. User-generated content

Make your brand personable by sharing content and reviews from customers. Not only does sharing this type of content involve audiences,  it shows them you care what they think. Cost-effective brands also benefit from getting free content that your target market are talking about.

Lastly, it gives potential customers an insight into what your product or service looks like.

10. Blogs

Drive traffic to your site through promoting your blog across social media. How-to guides and listicles are popular for gaining audience attention and also present your brand as a hub of information.

A top tip is to only promote an extract of the blog across social media with a link to the blog page on your website to read more. Once social users click through to the rest of blog, make sure your webpage has clear calls-to-action (CTAs) to guide them through your website. This is a strong conversion strategy to turn them from reader to customer.

Promoting content across social media is hugely beneficial if done correctly. Although it is tempting to create as much content as possible, always plan the types will reach your target market first. For example, if you’re running a fashion brand aimed at teens, a detailed ebook wouldn’t have the most impact. Researching the right content and how to engage your audience is crucial to maximising social-media success.

We have a broad range of expert copywriters that can help you improve your online marketing. WooContent can support you with all of your content needs, so get in touch today to find out more.

 

LinkedIn has long been a key resource for ‘connecting’ with fellow professionals.

However, despite the platform transcending simple virtual business card swapping, it’s still somewhat underused in terms of publishing content.

Thankfully, we know how to take advantage of the LinkedIn feed, groups and the site’s Pulse blog to offer a guaranteed audience of more than just like-minded peers; it can translate into tangible leads as well. Take a look at our guide to creating engaging content to find out how.

Why publish on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn differs from other social sites due to its professional nature. Therefore, you’ll rarely find outpourings of thoughts on your homepage feed, like “Mondays, am I right?” quips.

Given the specialist and professionally-focused nature of LinkedIn, the content publishing element is far less about personal updates. Instead, the focus is on knowledge-based content that educates potential buyers and builds trust in your brand. Moreover, it has been noted that 80% of B2B social media leads originate from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has made it easier than ever to post content, with the central sharing box at the top of the home page allowing you to share videos, slide presentations, news, ideas or third-party content. You also have the option to ‘write an article’, which will be hosted on LinkedIn’s Pulse blog.

Pulse is the place to post your long form content if you don’t have your own website; you’ve just launched your website and are building its domain authority; you want to promote a sideline from your usual business; or just to complement the content already on your website. The blog provides a ready-made platform, reaching out to your contacts, and has a simple upload process.

If you do intend to publish the article on your website too it’s best to post it on your site at least two weeks before going on Pulse. This allows Google to index your site first, meaning it’ll rank the original on your website above the Pulse article.

 

Who will see your content?

If you post something on your feed, depending on individual notification settings, everyone that has connected with you has the potential to see it, plus all of their extended connections. This is because, should somebody interact by either commenting, liking or sharing something that you post, then their network will also see it. For that reason, posts that are enticing and incite a reply, such as questions, can have a wide reach.

It goes without saying that you should always be looking to create unique and engaging content on your own business blog, but it can be notoriously difficult to drive an audience to it, especially a fresh one. LinkedIn gives you an automatic platform, with global reach, to present who you are and what your company can offer.

The sheer scale of reach that you can access, simply by posting an article, uploading some intriguing pictures or starting to engage more with particular communities, is staggering. LinkedIn groups are another important tool for sharing content but in a more dialogue-based way. By signing up to relevant industry groups you can answer members’ questions, placing yourself as an expert in your field, build your network and get potential business leads.

LinkedIn also gives you the option of creating your own group. You may want to do this if you feel you can manage a group that’s more beneficial than those already in existence and that will attract a specific set of members pertinent to your business. You will then have a captive audience for your content, as well as a platform where potential customers can discuss industry issues and you can engage with them.

With half a billion users enjoying the platform, the potential for a wide audience really speaks for itself, but your content will need to stand up to the weight of half a billion eyes.

What makes great LinkedIn content?

Think about the people that will be seeing your posts. These are busy professionals that might only have a few minutes between meetings and calls, so you need to grab their attention and entice them to click with nothing more than a preview. With that in mind, focus on the following elements:

• The headline

Whether you’re writing for Pulse or linking to your website, make the headline snappy, explanatory and yet intriguing enough to make people want to know more and hear your insights. ‘How-to..’ and ‘What you need to know about…’ headings have high click rates as they indicate that you’re going to break down a complex topic into bitesize pieces.

• Word counts

There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the perfect article length. Some topics will need talking about in far greater depth, which is where Pulse articles come in, while other issues simply need a snappy little observation so you might post them in a group. Some studies show the Pulse articles that get the most views, likes, shares and comments are those hovering around the 2000 word count. But if you don’t have that much to say, keep it shorter and to the point.

• Relevant images and headings

Online content works best when it’s broken up with visuals, such as graphs backing up what you’re saying or infographics that give at-a-glance snippets of information. At the very least you should break up your text with some relevant stock images. Headings are also important in breaking up long passages of text – make sure they sum up what’s coming next to entice people to read on.

 

How often and when should you post?

It might sound vague to simply say regularly, but that IS the best answer. If you start publishing insightful, engaging and enjoyable content, your audience will quickly begin to look forward to new uploads. They’ll comment, share and promote your pieces for you, as it bolsters their perceived business acumen that they recognise your writing as being worthy of discussion.

Of course, you don’t want to start simply posting for the sake of it, but by staying abreast of relevant industry news and always striving to stay current, you should have plenty of material for article writing. If you are able to post or upload two pieces a week, you should start to enjoy a decent following and tangible click-throughs to your website.

When you post will also bring different levels of engagement, and according to LinkedIn themselves, there are several sweet spots. They include Tuesday to Thursday first thing, midday and evening, with Tuesday at 10-11am also performing well.

LinkedIn can be a very effective tool for driving traffic to your website and building a greater audience. Not only is it useful for freelancers who can display their expertise, it has a lot of potential for B2B businesses who want to connect with those in a niche sector.

Whether you’re a start-up using LinkedIn for its content publication capabilities, or an established business looking to generate leads by talking directly to new customers, LinkedIn has content channels that can aid you.

As a copywriting agency, we can offer more advice on how to leverage LinkedIn or help with your content and social media strategies, get in touch with us today to find out more.

 

Facebook has had a particularly busy start to 2018, announcing a string of updates that have the potential to significantly alter news feeds and advertising. While Facebook’s commitment to improving the user experience seems unwavering, questions remain around what these changes mean for brands and businesses.

Those that have long relied on the platform as a means of promotion and a way to engage directly with consumers are likely to feel the impact most. But what exactly has been announced, and what do Facebook’s updates mean for your business in 2018?

News feed algorithm alterations

Perhaps the biggest update of all came in January, when Facebook announced it would be rolling out an amended news feed algorithm that favours content from friends and family, as opposed to brands, businesses and news outlets. In a seemingly direct response to the criticism the platform has faced around the ‘fake news’ controversy, founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined the plans in a blog post at the beginning of the year.

 

Mark Zuckerberg blog announcement

“You’ll see less public content, including news, video and posts from brands”, Zuckerberg explained. “After this change, we expect news to take up roughly 4% of News Feed – down from roughly 5% today”. Such statistics seem small, but consider that 510,000 comments, 293,000 statuses and 136,000 pictures are uploaded to the site every minute, and it becomes clear just how significant this percentage drop will be.

Page insights updates

Another update was announced last month that has potentially big results for brands and advertisers using the platform. Facebook plans to remove as many as 20 metrics from their business analytics pages, deeming them to be “redundant, outdated, not actionable or infrequently used”.

Facebok ad metrics update

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook has marketed the plans as a step towards increased transparency for brands and business owners, giving users the tools needed to hone in on the metrics that really matter. Regardless of your feelings towards the removal of long-standing metrics such as page mentions and social impressions, the update serves as another sign that Facebook is radically altering its approach towards businesses that use the platform.

What the updates mean for businesses

While every business is likely to view the changes differently, there’s no shying away from the fact that they promise to have a significant impact across all sectors.

John Ridding, Chief Executive of the Financial Times, criticised the update, commenting that “quality content will no longer be an option” if no sustainable solution is found to the problems posed by the rise of so-called ‘fake news’. Instead of the changes proposed, Ridding suggests implementing “a valuable subscription model on platforms that enables publishers to build a direct relationship with readers and to manage the terms of access to their content”.

In many ways, the updates mirror changes that are happening across the wider web. Search engines including Google have been taking steps to promote quality content that’s of the highest value to its audience. Facebook is following suit in its attempts to put user experience front and centre, adopting a mantra of ‘quality over quantity’ with regard to the content they promote.

In theory, brands who actively create engaging, shareable content should still be able to thrive under the new algorithm, however there are of course some additional limitations to consider. Posts that encourage organic engagement are still likely to perform better than those that don’t. However, getting the content seen in the first place is likely to pose a bigger problem than before.

How to make the updates work for you

make Facebook work for you

For more information or to discover how Ad-Rank can help to protect the interests of your business, get in touch today.

Effective copywriting for social media is about more than clickbait and hashtags. Nor is it restricted to writing well-crafted copy.

It’s about getting as many users as possible reading and sharing your content, and about maximising engagement across multiple social media channels. Here are 7 tips to help you do so.

1: It’s all about the headline

Headlines sell content. They might be the first and only piece of copy your readers see on social media. The viral content website Upworthy recommends writing 25 headlines for every social post and testing some.

 

(Source: Slideshare)

These examples show that while some headlines succeed others will fail. Clarity is key. The headline on the left has a humorous image but lacks a clear explanation. The headline on the right is clear. It also incites curiosity with a cliff-hanger and ends by addressing the social media user with a call to action.

2: Length matters

On social media size matters, but in the opposite way to other online content as, here, brevity works best. Facebook might have a 63,206-character maximum per post, but 40 characters is the ideal length. Meanwhile, social media guru Daniel Zarella believes tweets of 120-130 characters have maximum engagement.

 

(Source: Buffer)

3: Adapt content across social media platforms

Each social media channel has its own set of requirements. So it won’t work to copy-paste content across different channels – it must be adapted for each site.

Instagram is used for sharing photos, so stunning images to accompany content are essential. Meanwhile, according to digital marketing consultant Perri Robinson, Facebook is “the perfect channel for long conversations. Twitter, on the other hand, is for short bursts of information”. Whilst Facebook is an ideal space for brand storytelling, slowly building intrigue and intimacy, content on Twitter needs to be more to-the-point.

4: Be social

If you’re friendly to people they tend to be friendly back and the same is true online. Sprout Social surveyed over 1,000 consumers and found that the most common reason for purchasing from a brand is their responsiveness on social media.

 

(Source: eMarketer)

Be responsive by replying to customer queries and complaints. Show how quickly and professionally you can respond. Actively engage with users, by making sure you “like” and share content from other sites. That way they’ll return the favour.

5: Proofread, proofread, proofread

Although it’s important to have a friendly online persona, an easy-going attitude should never become slapdash. Spelling and grammar mistakes are just as unprofessional on social media as they are elsewhere.

 

(Source: NY Mag)

Not only did the US Department of Education misspell the name of author and W.E.B. Du Bois, but their apology was also misspelt. These two tweets are now widely shared on websites dedicated to finding social media gaffes. Make sure your content doesn’t join them there.

6: Work out what makes people click

What makes content go viral? Put simply, people watch and share anything that emotionally affects them. It should also come as no surprise that people prefer positivity.

Researchers from Pennsylvania University analysed thousands of the New York Times’ articles and discovered that many of the most widely shared ones inspired awe, which they defined as “emotion of self-transcendence, a feeling of admiration and elevation in the face of something greater than the self”. It is for this reason that scientific articles are far more widely viewed than you might think.

 

(Source: Buzzsumo)

7: Time it right

Social media feeds are constantly updated, and users are unlikely to scroll back through hours’ worth of tweets and Instagram photos to find yours. The trick is to time it right. Post at a time when users are most likely to be online.

Twitter is most active during commuting times and around lunchtime. Meanwhile, Pinterest is far more active during the weekends and evenings, when people have more time to daydream about Insta-worthy apartments and outfits.

But if you have a social media following from different time-zones it becomes a little trickier. And to muddy the waters even further, B2B companies might prefer to post during office hours whilst it’s preferable for B2C companies to catch users just before the weekend. It’s important to research what works for your user base.

The same goes for all these copywriting tips. There’s no “one size fits all” strategy. Brands that excel on social media do so because of their individuality.

These 7 tips are not set in stone but can be used to improve your social media presence.

For more information on how to improve your social media strategy,WooContent provide copywriting services to support you, so get in touch today.

 

With over a billion users to its name, YouTube is one of the biggest players in the world of digital content. The growth of video has been a key headline in digital marketing over recent years and its popularity only looks set to increase.

By creating your own video you have the potential to reach whole new audiences, for whom the notation TLDR has become a feature of everyday vocabulary.

We’ve all heard about the benefits of repurposing blog content. However, altering its format entirely can be a daunting task no matter what industry you’re in. Transforming long-form written content into engaging video is a lengthy process, yet the returns could be huge. Continue reading to discover how to turn blogs into video and why it really is worth the effort.

The fundamentals of video content

Before you begin repurposing existing content, it’s important to first consider why video is such a popular medium. As Forbes contributor and owner of Thrive Internet Marketing Matt Bowman suggests, “Today, content only succeeds if it delivers what consumers want, when and how they want it”. Video offers users exactly that, providing an easy way to consume and digest content from anywhere in the world.

There are a whole host of additional advantages to turning your blogs into video too, including:

Choose your platform

Many people would be surprised by just how many options are out there for creating YouTube content. Breaking your blog post down into logical sections and presenting the information as a slideshow presentation is one of the easiest and most time-effective ways to repurpose your content for video without losing its core message. As so many of us are already clued up on how to create simple slideshows, it also negates the need to pay someone to create your videos externally.

LinkedIn’s Slideshare service is a great way to gain views from interested and relevant parties. With in excess of 18 million uploads under its belt, Slideshare is a fantastic option if you simply want to get your content seen by the right people. The platform also allows users to convert their videos quickly and easily to YouTube, opening your brand up to whole new audiences that your content may have otherwise struggled to reach.

 

Identify the key elements of your blog post

The most successful videos are short, sharp and snappy – in fact, research suggests that engagement begins to drop once a video exceeds 2 minutes in length. Depending on the purpose of your video, that’s 120 seconds to capture your audiences’ attention, put forward your message and include a clear call to action that directly encourages conversions.

For that reason, the first step is to mine your blog post for the most important information. In other words – cut the waffle.

Shorter attention spans and a never-ending wealth of content options mean that it’s more important than ever to engage your audience early on, preferably within the opening 10 seconds. Vague and long-winded introductions are particularly frowned upon when it comes to video content, so make your point straight away if you can.

Get creative

By its very nature, video content tends to take a much less linear form than its written counterparts. A key selling point of video is the visual element, so use the opportunity to update stale copy with engaging visual cues that will grab and keep the attention of your audience.

Take SEMrush’s video titled Boosting your Website Performance with SEMrush as an example. On the face of it, this content takes the form of a direct, branded how-to guide. Where the brand excel, however, is in bringing the content to life visually, combining colour and animation to create a video that has been viewed more than 750k times in a little over six months.

Make it count

The key thing to remember when repurposing any written content for video is that the same basic rules apply. An attention-grabbing title is a must, but steer clear of all-out click-bait if you want to be taken seriously as an industry professional. Above all, every piece of content you create should offer genuine value to its user.

Explainers, product demos, how-to’s and testimonials make up the four most common types of video used by brands and businesses. One common feature each of these formats share, is their focus on informing the audience. A video that has entertainment at its core might attract views for a short period of time, but it’s a commitment to sharing useful, valuable material with your audience that will help to establish you as a reliable industry source in the long-term.

From simple slideshows to videos packed with graphics and animations, the sky really is the limit when converting blog posts into content that’s ready for YouTube.

As a copywriting agency, WooContent can help with repurposing new and existing written content to benefit your business, get in touch with the team today to find out more.

 

Social media can make or break a brand.

It’s estimated that 52% of online and offline purchases are influenced by Facebook alone, with nearly a third of shoppers actually purchasing items directly through social media platforms. Social media marketing has rapidly overtaken old-school methods to become one of the most cost-effective and user-friendly marketing techniques there is, as well as the most interactive.

Thanks to real-time capabilities and levels of data-gathering that can’t be matched elsewhere, you can now tailor your social campaigns to the exact needs and demands of your demographic – producing fully targeted, relevant and timely advertising.

Here are five ways that you can leverage social media to increase your following and drive sales in the coming year:

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

overview

The data-capturing capacity of social media is staggering, helping you identify engaged population segments and determine the best focus for your resources. With social media sites like Facebook categorising users by all manner of criteria, why limit yourself to age, sex, and location? By including your biggest competitors as interest targets, you can attempt to convert their fans by placing unobtrusive ads or articles in their news feeds. Targeting the right people can pay off massive dividends.

RAKE IN THOSE REVIEWS

 

Success on social media hinges more on how much your customers talk about you than on how you talk about yourself. Monitor engagement with your brand across all channels and you can pinpoint conversational themes – reviews aren’t just marks out of five stars on Facebook, they’re the comments people make about you in their Tweets, what’s happening in your comments on Instagram and a host of other things. Listen to your social feeds and use the information to find out what you’re doing well and what you need to improve on.

 

UTILISE GIVEAWAYS, COUPONS AND COMPETITIONS

 

competition_marketing

Though giving away things for free may sound counter-intuitive to making a profit, a small outlay can reap big dividends. Facebook and Instagram ‘like and comment to win’ contests are a fast and effective way to encourage new and existing users to interact with your brand, broadcasting you to their own networks in the process of trying to win a freebie.

This kind of campaign is incredibly low-budget, making it a great choice for up-and.coming eCommerce companies. For an extra boost, you could offer runners up a discount code or coupon for your site, to increase the chances of them making a purchase and thus becoming a potential lifetime customer.

 

SOCIAL, SHOPPABLE VIDEO

 

shoppable_video

One-third of all activity online is spent watching videos, which might be why more than 51% of marketing professionals state that video gives them greater ROI than any other type of content. On a website, videos can sometimes feel awkward or disruptive, but on social this just isn’t the case. 82% of Twitter users regularly use it to watch video content, and it’s mostly through Facebook that YouTube videos truly go viral.

A number of brands are now trialling shoppable videos on social, with Snapchat stories offering up click-through functions from short, sweet adverts to product pages. Between the natural acceptance of video as commonplace on social media and the ability to exhibit your wares in a simple, shareable, creative format, this kind of marketing couldn’t be more valuable.

 

RESPOND TO FEEDBACK

 

feedback

 

Engaging with your audience is possibly the best way to build your following and increase sales. One great way to do this is by encouraging comments on Facebook and Twitter – the good and the bad – and then responding to these comments in a friendly and positive manner. The story of Samsung’s illustrated exchange with one avid fan went viral a few years ago and led to the company rewarding the fan with a customised phone – as well as invaluable widespread positive media coverage for Samsung. One study found that customers spend between 20%-40% more with brands who respond to customer service requests over social media – not bad for something so simple and easy to do.

You can even respond to criticism of other companies and “poach” customers. A quick search for key phrases on Twitter or Facebook will allow you to pinpoint disgruntled customers, which you can then directly target and offer solutions to their problems.

74% of marketers plan to grow their social media advertising usage in the next 12 months. So don’t get left behind – leveraging social media in your content marketing can be one of the most effective ways to build brand loyalty.

If you're looking for new, innovative ways to convince and convert your target audience into new customers, then get in touch today.

The use of images is essential when it comes to social media – so it makes sense that a platform focused entirely on sharing images has quickly become an important part of the marketing mix.

Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 its user numbers have skyrocketed to more than 400m a month, creating an enormous resource for all kinds of marketers. Since it’s English Tourism Week and Ad-Rank are big fans of travelling, we thought we’d take our inspiration for this week’s blog from English tourist boards, looking at how they’re using the platform and integrating it into successful social media campaigns (click on images to enlarge).

User generated content

This is one of the great things about Instagram – you don’t have to spend lots time and resources creating great content. On Instagram it’s already there, and users love to share it. Lots of English tourist boards (like Visit Kent, below) encourage users to generate content for them using competitions, the promise of regrams and the clever use of hashtags – all of which we’ll come on to later. Of course tourist boards do generate significant amounts of their own content, but often it won’t be as interesting or genuine as images and videos created by the public. Affection for a landmark, landscape or county can come across much more strongly when the camera’s in an amateur’s hands.

Visit Kent Instagram UGC

Give someone else the reins

That said, a common tactic within tourist board social media campaigns is to let either professional photographers or Instagram-savvy locals take over their account for a few days and document their travels. This creates content with more of a narrative than brand posts, and audiences respond to it very well. Visit Bath regularly use this strategy to generate a lot of excellent content, not just through images but also the accompanying text and the interactions they generate.

However, great content on Instagram isn’t worth much if it’s not seen by many people. Which brings us to…

Visit Bath Instagram takeover

#cleveruseofhashtags

There’s a real art behind an effective hashtag. Finding the right one to maximise your reach requires a real feel for social media. Twitter users will understand this – get your hashtag just right and you’ll see retweets you never thought possible. It’s the same with Instagram and there’s a constant battle to find hashtags that gain real traction.

Visit Wiltshire has done very well with its branded #timeforwiltshire campaign, the success of which went towards their topping of the inaugural English Tourism Social Media Index.

Tagging images with popular hashtags – Visit London recently tagged an image with #foodporn – can get content in front of new audiences and contribute to building follower numbers. Spotting trends and taking advantage of them is key, and clever social media marketers are always looking for the next thing to unexpectedly take Instagram by storm. 

Visit London Instagram

Add a competition

The National Trust is one example of an organisation using competitions as part of their marketing strategy on Instagram. Using the hashtag #NTchallenge they get users to provide content for them, effectively turning followers and supporters into marketers. Setting a theme and sharing the best images tagged gets users engaged and builds on the National Trust’s brand, which comes across as friendly and inclusive. Visit Cornwall has also run a competition, the prize for which was a luxury stay with St Maws retreat.

Rolling competitions, where the prize is simply your image being shared with large numbers of followers, are a great way of reaching out to users and creates a community of content-generators. Competitions with high-value prizes, on the other hand, are a good opportunity to combine social media with PR.
National Trust Instagram #ntchallenge

Get in on the action

The kinds of calls to action used by tourist boards on Instagram are normally to do with using hashtags and the promise of a regram – something the average Instagram user really values, because it can boost their own follower numbers. Visit Cornwall says ‘use #loveCornwall and we’ll regram our favourites’ in its bio, while Visit Wiltshire has ‘tag #timeforWiltshire to give us permission to repost’ in its profile. Both are subtle CTAs with a great exchange – exposure for amateur photographers and the free generation of excellent content for the tourist boards.

Visit Wiltshire Instagram hashtag

 

Instagram’s combination of being image-focussed and driven by hashtags makes it an ideal platform for marketers trying to drive tourists to their attractions. In spite of its popularity (it now has more users than Twitter), not all tourist boards have woken up to the power of Instagram yet – get with it, English Heritage – but we’re expecting this to change in the year ahead. With so many opportunities for travel marketers to share a wealth of beautiful images with a huge audience, how could they not get involved?

Want to get use Instagram as part of your travel brand marketing mix, but not sure where to start? Get in touch and we’ll help you build an engaged audience of Instagram fans.

A call to action is a marketer's best friend, especially on social media. What's the point in creating great content if you don't actually encourage people to use it?

A 'call to action' is exactly what it sounds like: a 'call' for people to perform some 'action'. This can come in the form of 'sign up now' buttons on websites or, on social media, taglines urging people to click on the links you've provided. To break it down, calls to action convert users into a leads, with the potential of that lead becoming a customer. And above all, you're bringing people to your website.

Calls to action are important in marketing campaigns because they create a sense of urgency for the potential customer to act now. Without them, your content is just an idea, and without leading people to take that extra step, they're not likely to act at all.

The best calls to action are direct and straightforward, though there's lots of wiggle room to get creative. 'Book your cruise now.' 'Share this post.' You can even make things interesting by adding an incentive: 'Buy now and save 50%' or 'Retweet for the chance to win.' Most importantly, your call to action needs an imperative verb: 'click' or 'order' or 'sign-up.' Something the consumer can instantly do, instead of just think about.

Effective calls to action generate mobilisation in a clean and concise way. There are a lot of different approaches when crafting your own, but here are some top tips to consider:

 

Make it actionable

This might seem like a no-brainer, but the absolute, most important thing to include in a call to action is the action. You are directly telling people what you'd like them to do with the link you're providing, in hopes that they will do it. The people at the City of Alexandria, Virginia would like those perusing their Twitter feed to request a Visitors Guide so they can find out more about the city of Alexandria and potentially come over for a visit. Sound simple? That's because it is!actionable CTA

 

Directly address your reader

Nobody wants to feel like just another face in the crowd, especially on social media. That's why speaking directly to your customers as 'you' or 'your' makes it seem like you aren't just shouting out a blanket statement into the void. Sainsbury’s call to action specifically addresses the consumer with 'you' to let them know just who they're asking to perform this certain task. It gets the reader thinking about the question posed, and how it relates to them, making the call to action feel more personal.Address your reader with your CTA

 

Make it timely

The American brand Target's call to action below combines both timeliness (they're urging people to purchase new televisions in preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl) and urgency to get people to buy within the next three days, before the 10% deals expire. Not tomorrow, next week, or next month. Providing people with a time frame makes it so that they aren't left endlessly mulling over their options. Adding words like 'now' and 'today' at the end of your call to action also helps to create the feeling that the consumer will need to act sooner rather than later, and that the pay-off of this specific action is immediate.

The use of a shortened URL also allows users to easily to share the link across social media - users just need to type that short link to share it with their friends.

 

Make your CTA timely

 

Keep it short and sweet

Okay, so not every campaign is going to be as easy as convincing Harry Potter fans to buy the new J.K. Rowling book, but the idea here is that calls to action can (and should be) short, sweet and uncomplicated, especially on platforms like Twitter, where characters are limited. You don't necessarily need to dilute your message with gimmicks and explanations, just a straightforward action you'd like people to perform. Here, Waterstones is simply urging people to 'pre-order' the brand new Harry Potter book for half price, coupled with a photo of the book cover to get them excited. It's easy and successful. Keep your CTA short

Include benefits

Everybody loves a little added treat – and if people are going to get something extra (even if it's just hypothetical savings they wouldn't get from booking or buying on another site) if they follow your call to action, say so! If you follow the link and sign up for Birchbox, you're going to receive an exclusive bronzer ahead of the crowds. Those customers who were on the fence before might teeter more readily onto your side if they know up front what they're going to get and what you can do for them. And if something is free to do—ie 'our free giveaway' or 'our free-to-enter contest'—shout it from the rooftops.

Include benefits in your CTA

 

Not seeing conversions from your calls to action? We can help you craft the perfect marketing message, so your readers become customers – just drop us a line to find out how.

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t infiltrate any other part of our already social-media-laden lives, it’s at it again – this time with the launch of Facebook Live.

Entering the space previously dominated by Periscope and Meerkat, Facebook introduced its livestreaming video service to all US iOS users in January, having previously released the tool to verified brand pages in December. Global and Android coverage is due to roll out in the next few weeks too – and it’s guaranteed to have a massive impact on marketing around the world.

First things first, it’ll mean that livestream will become mainstream. Whereas relatively few brands are currently making use of Periscope and the like, marketers will be forced to pay attention to livestreaming and consider how to add it to the marketing mix. That’s mostly because it will be far more noticeable to the general public, appearing in front of Facebook’s 1.59 billion monthly active users – far more than Twitter’s (and thus Periscope’s potential) 320 million monthly users.

And Facebook Live also has some nifty tools that set it apart from the likes of Twitter-owned Periscope too. So while you won’t get the cute little hearts appearing on your screen as people like your live broadcast, there’s a whole raft of features that set it apart.

Go where the people are

Perhaps most significantly, livestream footage will appear directly in News Feeds, so your fans can discover the stream as it happens, even if they missed any promotional activity. Then – as with Periscope – when they click to watch the footage, you’ll be able to see who’s tuned in and answer their comments in real-time too.

Plus, viewers can subscribe to the livestream feeds there and then, unlike Periscope, which just follows the account on Twitter for you. This makes ongoing relationships with brand pages as simple as possible – and subscribing will also mean that users are notified when you’re next on air, rather than relying on them seeing your go-live tweet in their feeds.

And perhaps, most importantly, the videos are recorded for all time and saved like a regular Facebook video, not just for 24 hours, as with Periscope. That means your fans can return to the recording time and again – and it can be distributed and shared in the months and years after the original broadcast, giving your footage an extended lifespan.

Facebook vs YouTube

Notably, Facebook Live also throws further shade onto Google-owned YouTube, reducing the likelihood of people using YouTube’s Live service. Facebook has already claimed to have overtaken YouTube for the number of videos watched each day (although those stats are to be viewed with scepticism), and this is like to have an even greater impact on those figures. If most of your audience are daily Facebook users, why wouldn’t marketers broadcast to Facebook first, rather than sending people to an external channel like YouTube?

With so much hanging in the balance, we’re eagerly awaiting the launch of Facebook Live in the UK, not only so we can experiment with it (follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it) but so we can see how livestreaming develops and evolves over the coming year.

The bells have barely struck midnight, so there couldn’t be a better time to take a look into our crystal ball and make some social media predictions for the future.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to start without a mention of the past 12 months. 2015 saw rapid changes in the world of social media, with new channels appearing on the scene and growing at an astonishing rate (hello, Periscope). Plus, as organic reach on Facebook declined, marketers have had to find new ways of grabbing their audience’s attention.

The rate of change looks set to continue in 2016, providing no rest for marketing teams. Here’s our take on how the year will play out.

Content marketing and social media collide

Most savvy marketers have already added social media in their content marketing strategies, but the less perceptive will need to get on board this year.

That’s because several big social networks launched their own publishing platforms in 2015. They did so to keep users on their sites, instead of clicking away to other publishers, boosting their own visitor numbers.

Facebook Instant Articles, LinkedIn Pulse and Twitter Moments and the like will force marketers to consider where to publish their content. It looks likely that 2016 will be the year that brands start to share to social first. If you could potentially reach one billion users with one Instant Article on Facebook, why would you publish it to your website first?

Going live

Live streaming and video marketing will continue to grow in 2016, with marketers using the likes of Periscope and Blab to share events as they happen. A huge 10 million people already have Periscope accounts and that figure is increasing month on month.

This is supported by rumours that Facebook will open its live streaming functionality to all account holders. It’s currently only available for selected users (celebs, big name brands etc), but demand is so high that access will be extended in 2016.

With so many developments in live streaming, we reckon that marketers will see this as an opportunity to start their own efforts – especially on Facebook.

Focus on the visual

The rapid growth of Instagram points to a trend for visual content that’s quick and easy to consume. By creating and editing inspirational images on a mobile device, it's not hard to see why the platform is so popular.

And as the Facebook-owned network rolls out a host of advanced tools, like Layout and Boomerang, it can only be that Instagram use will increase, for brands as well as individuals.

Instagram advertising will also be on marketers’ hit lists for 2016. With more than 400 million users, Instagram is a great place to get your products and services in front of new and existing audiences. And with the introduction of Shop Now buttons in 2015, it will be easier than ever to get your audience to spend their money if your content is effective. Plus, you'll be able to identify a clear return on investment to boot.

Pinterest, the other big player in the visual marketing field, reported that there are now more than 60 million buyable pins on the platform. We expect to see that figure grow in 2016, as marketers look to monetise their visual content.

Twitter also launched Buy Now buttons in September 2015. While we feel that marketers will dabble in this, but it remains to be seen whether it will become as mainstream as Instagram or Pinterest advertising.

The next generation

We also predict that marketers will start to explore new channel as a way to grow their audiences, especially with young people.

Although there are no recent stats about the number of Snapchat users, it’s estimated to be in the 200 million mark. Agile marketers will already be looking at how to use the self-destructing videos in the year ahead, especially if they want to reach millennials.

And while many marketers might sneer at targeting young people, it’s worth bearing in mind that people born in 2000 will turn 16 this year and start entering the workplace. Their buying power should be ignored at marketers’ peril. By carefully targeting them on the channels they use the most, marketers can start building relationships for the future.

On the move

As we mentioned in our look back at 2015, smartphone usage has exploded. People are using their phones to go online more than ever – especially to check in on social media activity. Marketers need to find new ways to secure their audience’s attention, even when they’re on the move. From striking visuals and snackable content to compelling videos and engaging updates, marketeers will have to innovate more than ever to stay ahead of the competition and maintain their following.

Of course, these are only our main predictions. With so many social media channels, we couldn’t cover them all. We’d love to hear what you think will be the biggest changes over the coming year – why not share them with us on Twitter or LinkedIn?

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