With only a matter of weeks until Christmas - 'tis the season to start preparing for Christmas campaigns. 

You didn't read that wrong. With December being the most lucrative time of the year for most retail businesses, you really can't start planning your Christmas marketing campaign too early. With online shopping continuing to grow in popularity year after year, it's a great time to take advantage of the increase in sales during the holiday period. One way to do this is by utilising your brand's social media accounts.

Social media is a great way to communicate with your customers on a personal level, and there's no better time to do this than the Christmas period. With more people home from work and enjoying their downtime, inevitably, there is also an increase in social media traffic. So with that in mind, we have some tips on how to make your social media more festive this season.

Make it Festive

If you want to take advantage of the Christmas holiday period you have to be willing to get involved. This is where starting early can pay off as you can prepare your Christmas campaign and the content to go with it. You'll see most brands make their social media particularly festive, with many changing to Christmas profile and cover pictures which show off their offers and holiday spirit. Some will also use hashtags to get their customers ready for the season such as Coca Cola's iconic #HolidaysAreComing. This reminds customers that the holiday is approaching and to keep shopping in mind. 

It's not uncommon for non-retail brands to get into the spirit too and this is a good thing because in an online sea of holiday joy your business can look like a bit like a social Scrooge if you choose to ignore Christmas. Keep it fun and consistent so people can recognise your posts and engage with them. 

Cross Promote

With the high saturation of Christmas posts over social media, it can be easy to get lost amongst them. Whatever your marketing strategy is this Christmas, it's important to share it across your social platforms. This isn't exclusive to online offers either, whether it's a TV advert or an in-store exclusive social media is a fantastic way to get noticed.

(John Lewis 2016 Christmas Advert)

John Lewis is an expert for this, their highly anticipated advert doesn't just end on the TV screen, they know exactly how to use their other platforms to get extra exposure. Their 2016 campaign #BusterTheBoxer was seen all over their social media, with the playful pooch even getting his own Snapchat filter. Even if you didn't see the advert on TV or Youtube (although we find that hard to believe), you undoubtedly saw it across social media.

Promoting your Christmas campaign across social media platforms is a great way to extend your reach to as many people as possible. 

Get Personal 

For most, Christmas is a time to think about others and businesses should keep this in mind throughout their marketing campaigns. Social media is a great way to communicate with consumers on a more personal level, and it's a great way to remind them how much you appreciate their custom. A good way to do this on social media is to promote special offers to customers, such as free shipping days or discount codes. Using social media to do this allows people to recognise how following your online activity is a great way to gain benefits and hear about your offers first.

DW Christmas Jumper Day

It's also the perfect time to put the face behind the brand on show. If you want to connect with people via social media it is a good idea to show that you are people too. This personal touch doesn't have to be too invasive - sharing a "Christmas Jumper Day" or a picture of festive decorations is a nice way to remind customers that you aren't all serious business all of the time. 

Try to schedule posts on your social media wishing your customers a Merry Christmas too - many use social media as a way to wish their friends and family love over the holidays, so it's always nice to add that personal message from your brand too.

If you want any help with your online Christmas campaign this year our expert team is here to help. Visit our contact us page below to see how we can help you make your brand more festive this year.  

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What Does The Facebook Newsfeed Update Mean For Marketers

Aah Facebook, from fake news to dog memes you have been keeping us on our toes.

Recently Facebook has been ruffling feathers of its advertisers, which seems strange considering the huge amounts of revenue it creates for the social media mogul. But how much will this affect the way we use Facebook to reach out to our customers? Why the sudden change?

Well, a recent Facebook announcement explains how this isn't a random change, it's their attempt to return to their roots. Mark Zuckerburg announced how:

 

"We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us"

 

But Mr Zuckerburg explains that this is something that Facebook has lost sight of, and it's time to change that. He goes on to explain how they would like to make a positive platform where its users share 

 

"relevant content [that's] helping you have more meaningful social interactions."  

 

So what does that mean for the newsfeed?

"As we roll this out, you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people."

 

That's apparently enough to have marketers and advertisers shaking in their boots. Sharing useful, meaningful content that people want to see and share? That doesn't sound very us? To an extent, it's not.

Most Facebook users are used to seeing brands flogging their products and services and most users have grown accustomed to scrolling away from this newsfeed clutter. But what about the occasional conversion this can encourage? Is it really as bad as everyone seems to think?

As usual, the Facebook announcement itself is quite lengthy, but lacking specifics that many marketers are waiting for. For instance, none of the official announcements have specified if this will this affect paid ads. Presumably in some shape or form, but no one has actually mention paid advertising, so maybe those who use paid Facebook ads won't notice too much of a change.  However, for those who use Facebook to reach out to people for free, it seems like we'll have to take a different approach.

This video may clear things up a bit more for us all:

 

 

 

Okay, so Facebook plans to rank content depending on how useful and meaningful this post will be to you, with person to person posts ranking more highly above business and brand posts. Facebook has previously brushed off criticism about its influence during elections and other news scandals and have avoided accusations concerning social media's negative effect on people's mental health. However, this change seems to be an attempt to combat the negative influence Facebook can have and instead become a more positive platform

What does this mean for marketers? 


Honestly? We can't be 100% sure. As with most announcements concerning the digital marketing world, there a rush of panic before we receive all the information. Until these changes roll out at some point this year we won't know the full effect. However, we can prepare in a few ways:

  • Quality over quantity seems to be key. - Posting lots won't matter if it’s useless spam. Facebook will value posts that will encourage meaningful interactions, with other people and the post itself. Start creating content that not only shows off your brand but really helps or interests the reader. It something we should all be doing already, but now it's time to really put your back into it. 
  • No more clickbait - It just won't work, it won't show up on a newsfeed so there's really no use in it. Besides, titling your blog "You'll NEVER believe this!" to reveal something mundane and misleading is just going to bother readers and do your brand more harm than good. Time to stop with the "Share/like/comment for your chance to win!" posts too, Facebook will just outsmart this transparent tactic.  
  • Use the "Prioritise Friend" feature - you'll have to encourage followers to use this tool, we imagine it will take some convincing but if you can it means you'll still show up first in all your most valuable customers feeds.

Although this may complicate how easy it is to get your brand out there on social media, it may result in more meaningful responses for marketers too. Long has it been difficult to prove that social media leads to conversions, so perhaps better quality content will help you connect with those with a genuine interest in your business.

In theory, this change will value genuine interactions between people, so that when a happy customer of yours recommends you it will actually count for more.

As we've said, the other online marketing experts and ourselves can only make educated guesses as what is to come, you'll have to watch this space to see the real impact. As always, when we know, you'll know.


If you need any help with your online marketing strategy we are more than happy to help. Call our team of friendly experts for advice on your website design or digital marketing. Please get in contact with us today by clicking here

Should facebook advertising be part of your marketing strategy

With so many different advertising platforms available, it’s easy to not consider your everyday social media network as an efficient method of generating revenue. After all, Facebook is just for funny dog videos, right?

If you thought that you would be wrong. In fact, just this month, Facebook’s advert revenue topped $10.3 billion with their revenue per user reaching more than $5 for the first time. These figures are especially impressive when you consider Facebook also marked 2.07 billion monthly active users in their third quarter of 2017.

With Facebook publicly hitting milestone after milestone this year, many businesses are considering the prospect of adding Facebook advertising to their marketing strategy, but is it right for your business? To help you make that decision, we’ve put together a few things to consider.

More...

SEO vs SMO

So, you have a new website. It looks good, it’s quick and user-friendly. There’s just one small problem. No one can find it.

If this is the problem you’re currently facing, you may have found yourself scouring the internet to find a solution. If you have, you’ve most likely been thrown into the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This method of digital marketing works to put your website on the front page of Google for search terms that relate to your business.

If you’ve delved a little further, you may have also come across a term called Social Media Optimisation (SMO). SMO refers to optimising your social media platforms to bring more traffic to your website. SEO has been around since the introduction of search engines back in the 90’s. SMO, however, is a relatively new method of driving traffic to your website and only came about in 2006 when it was first mentioned in Rohbi Bhargava’s article 5 rules of social media optimisation.

Though their abbreviations differ by just one letter, SEO and SMO are vastly different. This article will explore the differences between SEO vs SMO.

What are SEO and SMO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Search Engine Optimisation uses a variety of different methods to make your website rank highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs). These methods include: 

  • Keyword Planning

Keyword Planning is the process of choosing a specific keyword(s) to target on each page of the website. This is vital to SEO as a clear keyword strategy means pages will not compete with one another for the same search terms. Each page will have a specific purpose. 

  • Good Quality Optimised Copy

Each page on the website needs to have unique, optimised copy that focuses on specific keywords in order to rank highly on google. The copy needs to be well-written and easy to understand.

  • Meta Title & Description

Ensuring each of your web pages has a unique meta title (the title of the page which tells Google what the page is about) and a meta description (the snippet of text that appears below the title in the SERPs) is another important part of SEO.  

  • Link Building

Link building is a part of SEO which aims to gain links from other websites. Each link to your website from a reputable source is a good sign to Google, as these links are effectively ‘votes’ for your website. Combined, this alludes to the popularity of the website. The aim of link building is, therefore, to gain high-quality links in order to improve the ranking position of the website.  

  • User-Friendly Website

The user-friendliness of your website is relevant to SEO. If your website is unresponsive, slow and difficult to use – it’s not going to get a good ranking on google. 

Social Media Optimisation (SMO)

Social Media Optimisation is a digital marketing method which focuses on making your social media platforms engaging enough to bring traffic to the website. 

  • Create Shareable Content

Increasing social links through SMO involves developing content that people want to share and link to. Creating a blog on your website, for example, is ideal for this method of SMO as it is easy to link to. 

  • Make Sharing Content Easy 

This method of SMO involves adding share and social link buttons to your website and blog in order to encourage sharing, recommending or bookmarking. 

  • Providing Value to Users

This includes adding outbound links into your content even if it doesn’t help drive traffic to your website. This helps your website as you will gain a loyal follower base who will see you as a fountain of knowledge. Valuable content also helps with SEO as Google’s rank brain algorithm decides that useful resources should be at the top of the SERPs.  

  • Rewarding Loyal Followers

This type of Social Media Optimisation involves rewarding your loyal followers with the occasional ‘thank you’, follow back, or even competition prize. By letting them know you value their support, you will gain a loyal follower for life.  

Do SEO and SMO help one another? 

Whereas SEO mainly focuses on improving your websites ranking and the ability to drive visitors through the likes of Google - SMO focuses on driving traffic via social media platforms. Both SEO and SMO operate in different spheres, but they do impact one another.

The main priority of both SEO and SMO is to drive traffic to your website. It makes sense that they should work together to bring as much traffic in as possible.

Though no one truly knows precisely how much different factors affect the Google ranking position of a website, it has become clear that social signals do affect SEO rankings indirectly. In fact, in 2010 retweets on Twitter were even described as a ‘new form of link building’. More recently, another study was conducted which concluded that a larger presence on social media does gain a higher place on the SERPs.

In fact, to see SMO impacting SEO, just search the name of a popular brand on Google. It’s more than likely their Twitter account will be listed within the first 5 results.

Mcdonalds SMO

This is clear evidence that Social Media does have an impact on SERP’s.

Likewise, if you’re spending time and money on SMO, directing people to your website from social media, or trying to gain links from other businesses via social media, then it is important that you have a high-quality website with a good user experience.

Driving visitors to a website with a poor user experience will just result in a high bounce rate (single page visits). The user-friendliness of a website is part of SEO. Therefore, it is clear to see that SMO can also be impacted by SEO.

Why SEO and SMO Should Work Together

 SEO is a fundamental part of digitally marketing your business and SMO is gaining importance as social media becomes a larger part of everyday life. If you do one without the other, it is likely that your business will be left behind.

Google changes their ranking factors frequently, so it is important that your social media platforms are fully optimised. The value of social signals could change in the future, so SMO will ensure you’re prepared if their value increases. Furthermore, SMO is a good way to drive traffic and increase brand awareness.
However, you also need to ensure your website is fully optimised as this is where your conversions will happen. This is why SEO is essential and should be used in conjunction with SMO.

Depending on the business, the benefits from SMO can sometimes be seen quicker than the benefits of SEO. However, if you stop updating and optimising your social media platforms, the traffic can bottom out quickly.

SEO, on the other hand, is more long-term. If you achieve a high-ranking position for your website through SEO, it is less likely that you will lose mass amounts of traffic if you pause SEO efforts for a day or two.

Therefore, though they have different methods of driving traffic, every business marketing strategy should ensure SEO and SMO work together in harmony to drive as many unique visitors to your website as possible.

Do you need help with either SEO or SMO for your website? Get in touch with our SEO experts today to find out how we can help you.

In this modern day, the influence of social media is becoming increasingly important. Your friends are on it, your family is on it, your dog might even be on it - but more importantly, businesses are on it. With 42% of marketers reporting that Facebook is critical or important to their business, it's clear to see why so many companies invest time in their social media content strategy. 

However, though using social media for your business may seem like the right thing to do, it may be time to consider whether it is actually right for your business. We’ve looked into reasons why social media might be right for your business and reasons why it might not.

Social media is right for your business if: 

  • Social media is right for your business if you’re looking to engage with your consumers on a more personal basis.

    Social media is one of the best ways of gaining an almost friendship like relationship with your customers. By providing your customers with content they will appreciate, such as useful information, discounts, and insider info, this will create a loyal following of consumers from your social media channels.
  • Social media is right for your business if you want to show the human side of your company.

    Social media is an effective way to show the people behind the business. Photos of the office eating cake for someone’s birthday or a recent company achievement really displays the human aspect of the business. Consumers react well to stories, so by telling your businesses story through social media, you will be able to gain their trust.
  • Social media is right for your business if you have a limited marketing budget.

    One of the best aspects of social media is that it is 100% free. For a small business, the kind of exposure free social media platforms bring is invaluable. Paid for social media advertising is a fantastic way of gaining more conversions, but not every business has the budget for this kind of marketing. This is why social media is right for any business looking to gain exposure without spending too much money.

Social media is not right for your business if:

  • Social media is not right for your business if you’re only going to promote your products.

    People mainly use social media to get the latest news and to be entertained, and it seems constant product promotion is quite simply not interesting. The typical rule of thumb is to post 3 informative and helpful posts for every product promotion post.
  • Social media should not be placed on your website if you do not want customers to get distracted by it.

    If your social media buttons are at the very top of your website and are big enough to be distracting, there’s a chance a possible customer may decide to look through your social media rather than your products. If your social media is active and well maintained, this could be a good thing for your business. However, if it is littered with infrequent posts and possible bad reviews, it may be best to remove these click through buttons from your website.
  • Social media is not right for your business if you do not know how to use it.

    Leading on from the last point, social media is not right for any business which does not know how to use it correctly. For example, if you do not have the knowledge that links do not work in an Instagram post; Instagram is perhaps not right for your business. Furthermore, if you do not know what kind of content to post on your social media or how you can benefit your customers with it, it may be best to take a step away from the platforms or hand them over to someone who does have a good understanding of social media.
  • Social media is not right for your business if you spend too much time on it and do not gain enough feedback.

    Finally, social media is not right for your business if you find yourself spending hours upon hours on it but gaining little to none feedback. Especially if you are creating original content, such as images and videos made solely for social media, it may be best to put that valuable time into something that can provide you with solid feedback such as paid advertising. Paid advertising will be able to provide you with clear data on what works and what doesn’t for your business, so this could be more beneficial in the long run.

In Summary

Social media is great for connecting with people, but social media posts are not the best organic marketing strategy for sales or driving in enquiries. If you have a genuine desire to communicate with consumers, alongside providing informative, entertaining and advisory information, then social media platforms can be great for this. However, posts are not an effective way to promote products or services, so if this is your main aim them we would advise that you focus your efforts elsewhere, such as advertising on social media, which can be very beneficial if done properly. We will take a look at this in our future article about how you can get the most out of advertising on social media platforms.

If you think social media might be right for your business or you would like someone else to do it for you, our social media experts can help. Get in touch with us today to request a quote

Snapchat has always been ahead of the game when coming up with new ways to allow marketers to take advantage of social media. Not only can you take a selfie that makes you look like a dog (the future is really here it seems), but advertisers can get closer to their customers than ever before.


Following the success of Snapchat stories, which in the following years was copied by Instagram and Facebook, it can only be assumed that the same may be the case for Snapchat’s new mapping system. Snapchat continues to evolve the way businesses can use social media to promote their brand, so here’s a look at its newest feature.


What is the mapping system?

(https://www.snap.com/en-US/news/)


Snapchat’s mapping system (created by Zenly, then bought out by Snapchat) allows your friends to see your current location, letting you to see if they are near enough to hang out with in person. The feature also heat maps places where people are most actively posting stories, such as festivals or sporting events. Although it does seem quite like Big Brother is always watching, you do have the option to hide your location in Ghost Mode. Basically, the future looks a lot like more dog filters and letting everyone know your every move.


On their blog, Snapchat explains how this feature allows users to “See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure”.


What does this mean for Advertisers?

Social Media Phone


Snapchat is rolling out this feature initially for the users (and a few sponsored celebrity accounts, such as Ed Sheeran), but it wouldn’t be surprising if advertisements soon reach the UK. Snapchat has had a clever history of easing in their customers so that ads seem less intrusive. This was true of its snapchat stories which allow the user to take or leave their sponsored posts.


However, with this new mapping feature it is possible that brand-related location will play a part, creating a new method of advertising via the app. It would potentially enable advertisers to target customers who are in their area, letting them know if they have a sale or an event on near them. Brands could pay snapchat to promote their event within the snap map, gaining attention from users that are in close enough proximity to take advantage.


This seems like an opportunity to advertise local deals that would actually pique customer’s interests. As the new feature has only just launched we are unlikely to see this development in the next few weeks, but it seems like a natural progression for the app.


Social media continues to change the way businesses communicate with their customers so it’s important to be on top of your game. If need help using social media to benefit your business, we are here to help! Contact our social media experts today.

Snapchat for Business

In this day and age, it's a good idea to ensure your business is reaching potential customers on every platform possible. We've already discussed the importance of social media on this blog, but today we'd like to get a little more specific and focus on how to use Snapchat for business. 

Image and video messaging platform Snapchat has been mentioned in a lot of news stories lately due to Facebook and Instagram's newest features, which some argue bear a lot of similarities to the Snapchat app. Of course, Snapchat is hardly new - it was first introduced in 2011 - but it still has a huge user base, and it should probably be your first choice when it comes to building your social media following through video.

If you're wondering how to effectively use Snapchat for business purposes, don't worry - we've put together some simple yet very useful tips for you to follow. It may seem daunting, but video content is the future of content marketing, so it's definitely worth getting a handle on the likes of Snapchat sooner rather than later.

Here are our 5 simple tips for Snapchat success:

1) Offer Sneak Peeks and Discounts

We Rate Dogs Merch on Snapchat
Credit to WeRateDogs (@dog_rates)

One great way of gaining engagement and revenue through Snapchat is to offer special discounts and sneak peeks of your latest products via your business's Snapchat account. As you can see above, WeRateDogs has taken advantage of this feature by promoting their new range of merchandise. Snapchat is a superb social media platform for this kind of promotion because it allows users a literal 'peek' at forthcoming releases. If you were to post on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram instead, the post would be much more permanent, thus undermining the 'sneak peek' element.

Many businesses also use their accounts to provide 'secret' discounts to those who follow them on Snapchat. This is a great way to gain more followers on the platform - if you tell people about the exclusive discounts available through your Snapchat account, people will inevitably follow you in the hope of bagging a bargain.

2) Snap Contests

Grub Hub Snapchat
Credit to GrubHub (@GrubHub)

Snap contests are one of the most engaging ways in which you can use Snapchat for business. The beauty of Snapchat is that as well as using the story feature (which allows everyone to see what you post), consumers are also able to send you snaps directly. This feature makes snap contests a great way of utilising the platform.

Back in 2014, GrubHub displayed a great example of how to use snap contests to promote one's business. They created a week-long campaign called a "snap hunt". Every day of that week, GrubHub posted a new challenge for their followers to complete and send back to them. Whoever they chose as winners would gain a $50 voucher to spend on takeaway food. This competition was a big success, and Grubhub found that over 30% of their followers engaged in the contest, with their account gaining a 20% increase in followers in just one week. This proves that a well-thought-out contest (and the promise of freebies) works wonders when using Snapchat for business.

3) Inside Looks at Your Company

Justin Kan Snapchat
Credit to Justin Kan (@justinkan)

In any business, it is easy for consumers to forget about the human aspect of the company. This is why an inside look at your office, products, and workers is a great way to use Snapchat for your business. Many studies have found that people buy stories before they buy products, which is why displaying your company's story through a modern platform like Snapchat is one of the best ways to encourage customer engagement. 

Take Justin Kan, for example - he is an American entrepreneur and co-founder of Justin.tv, Twitch.tv and Socialcam. Kan uses Snapchat frequently to take his customers on a guided tour through his companies and the new venues he visits. He also shows snippets of himself mentoring young entrepreneurs, which really displays the human side of his businesses. Taking your consumers on a backstage tour has never been easier, so take advantage of this when using Snapchat for your business. 

4) Utilise Influencers

Beth Norton Snapchat
Credit to Beth Norton (@beth__norton)

Social media influencers are popular accounts who have a substantial amount of influence over their followers. Gaining the approval of one of these influencers can benefit your business greatly. A valuable way to use Snapchat for business is by asking influencers to promote your business on their own account - you can ask them to rate, review or even try out a freebie from your company.

Above is an example of how Beth Norton, a popular lifestyle blogger, has promoted Zoe Griffin Photography through Snapchat. Promoting the use of this photographer through her Snapchat not only displays her approval but also encourages others to use this particular photographer.

5) Keep it short and snappy!

With some studies stating that the average human attention span is only 7 seconds long, you'll want to ensure that your story is kept short and snappy. Snapchat limits videos to just 10 seconds, and it's not a good idea to post too many of these onto your story in one day. Snapchat works in seconds, not minutes - so always ensure that the entirety of your story clocks in under the minute mark.

Snapchat users can flick through your story with just a movement of the finger, so make sure you get all of your good content into the first few seconds of the video. Spending 5 seconds setting the scene could cause users to flick onto the next snap before they even see the main point of your story. If you take one thing away from this blog, remember that on Snapchat, every second is important!

Need help harnessing the power of social media to benefit your business? Our social media experts can help!


This month, Facebook rolled out its newest feature named Messenger Day - the newest way to share online video. This feature allows Facebook users to upload video or photos, decorate them with stickers and filters, share it with all of their friends, and then watch as it disappears after 24 hours. Although it is perhaps a not-very-subtle copy of the also incredibly popular Snapchat, it is clear that this feature is sure to be used by at least a healthy portion of Facebook's 1.23 billion monthly active users. This can almost be guaranteed, as nearly all of those users have been prepped for this moment by their frequent use of online video through other apps and platforms. Due to Snapchat's popularity and the introduction of Instagram Stories, the use of online video is rapidly growing.

facebook messenger day
Image Source: newsroom.fb.com

Over the past year, users have watched as Instagram absorbed Snapchat's quick online video format and made it their newest feature on the platform. Admittedly, users were not so happy about the update at first, but as time has passed, the Instagram Stories feature is being used more and more. The same will likely happen with Facebook Messenger Day, which will be being used by a community of people who are very much accustomed to online video nowadays. Since one of the leading social media giants has now implemented an easy method of making online videos, it seems apparent that, if your content strategy did not utilise online video before, it certainly should do so now.

For those feeling a bit sceptical about using online video as part of their content marketing strategy, here are five reasons that should change your mind: 

1. Online videos used in content marketing capture your consumer’s attention more effectively. 

If you think about the last purchase you made, how did you find out about that product? Were you convinced by a video advert or an article you read? There's a good chance that your answer will be the video because, as humans, we tend to react better to visual stimulation than to words on a page. If we witness other consumers enjoying a product, it is much more likely to convince us to buy it than if we simply read the specs. 

social media logos

2. The use of online videos for content marketing improves your SEO.

One of the most important aspects of online marketing is improving your SEO, and according to Martech, adding online video to your website can multiply your chance of achieving a page 1 Google result by 53! Even more impressively, videos on retail sites keep visitors there for 2 minutes longer and convert 30% more of them into paying customers. It's hard to argue with such impressive statistics.

SEO

3. Online video is one of the most powerful ways to tap into your consumer’s emotions. 

It is well known amongst marketers that appealing to human emotion is one of the best ways to attract attention. Just think about how ingrained in our lives emotional adverts become - the John Lewis advert, for example, is eagerly awaited every Christmas time. Online video is a quick and easy way to appeal to your consumer’s emotions while staying within a relatively tight budget. 

Companies no longer have to spend thousands on a polished advert for the television, as they can now be made in seconds with the use of online video. The beauty of this is that companies do not need to get it perfect the first time around; multiple videos can be sent to your client base in a matter of a few days. 

4. Using online video provides you with clear feedback on what you’re doing well.

Incorporating online video into your content marketing strategy makes it easier to gain information on how well your content is received by your target market. Most online video platforms will provide you with feedback on how many times the video was watched, the click-through rate, and the drop off points. All of this information is incredibly useful when it comes to taking the next step with your content marketing. If you have a clear understanding of what your target market is looking for, you can create your content marketing strategy with this at its core. 

Digital Marketing

5. Most importantly, video converts more customers.

71% of marketers say that video conversion rates outperform other marketing content. A study conducted by Vidyard revealed that over one-third of large companies produce more than 100 marketing videos annually, with over 70% of respondents claiming that video performs better than other content for producing conversions.

Furthermore - according to Hubspot - 64% of users are far more likely to buy a product after watching a video, and including a video on a landing page can increase conversions by as much as 80%. Pretty impressive, right? 

Considering online video is a cheap, quick and easy method of content marketing, the fact that it seems to bring in so many sales is a welcome surprise. Taking 20 minutes out of your day to post some online videos about the company and your products could generate more sales than you ever thought possible. It certainly seems that online video is a trick you do not want to miss in 2017!

If you want to add online video to your content marketing strategy, our SEO experts here at Designer Websites will be more than happy to help with this. Simply get in touch today!


In this modern day and age, where words like ‘tweeting’ have become a part of our everyday language, it is hard to imagine a world without social media. Since it originated in 1997, with the social media site Six Degrees, social media platforms have excelled in prominence and have become an increasingly important part of modern generation’s lifestyle.

In a 2016 study, it was revealed that 61% of people check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up; 30 minutes later that number increases significantly to 88%. This evidence of human addiction to smart phones and social media is something many businesses have used as a fundamental part of their marketing strategies. With the constant abundance of information fighting for every individual’s attention nowadays, it is easy to see why your business might be left behind if you do not stay in the forefront of your target markets mind. This is why we’ve put together this handy list of reasons why setting up your business social media accounts should be top of your priority list. 

It allows you to understand your audience

One of the many benefits of social media marketing is that it allows you to get to know your target audience on a personal basis. This knowledge is incredibly useful for any business as it helps you find out your target demographic and understand what they want from you as a business. For example, things like Twitter Analytics provide you with an insight into your follower growth, their interests and their demographic. It also allows you to see which of your tweets performed the best and from this information you can discover what content your audience enjoys and the best time of day to tweet.

 

It's an easy way to promote yourself

Another benefit of engaging with your audience via social media is that if a customer loves your product, it is very likely that they will either tweet about it or post a photo of your product on Instagram or Twitter. It is typical of users to tag the maker of the product in their posts, because in the same way that you want to see reviews, customers also want to be recognised by the brands. This type of engagement works well for both parties involved; if your business then shares the post, your other followers will see how well you are doing and the consumer will be pleased that you have promoted them. 
An example of a business that does this well, is the clothing brand Chi Chi London. 
 
On their Instagram account, Chi Chi London often posts photos of customers wearing their clothes as promotion. This type of post works well because it displays Chi Chi London customers happy with their product, which can in turn, persuade the other followers to buy one of their items while simultaneously making the buyer happy through recognition. Future customers may then buy the products not only because they want it, but to have the chance of being featured on the account. 
You can build a loyalty base with your followers 
People are typically a lot more receptive to advertisements on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, due to them being social networks. The key word being social. If you have tailored your audience using the above steps and engaged with your followers frequently, they are much more likely to want to hear about your new product or company update. As long as you mix your sales social media posts with things like helpful tips, blogs about relevant topics, client reviews, photos of your team, competitions and so on, your followers are much more likely to listen to what you have to say. 
 
Typically, if you provide someone with something of value (helpful tips, giveaways, great customer service) the majority of the time, they will want to repay you in some way. It’s down to you to provide your target audience with all the help you can, and what better and more efficient way to do it than through social media?  
 
 

Using social media marketing boosts your SEO

If your website is full of fantastic content that you want all of your customers to see, there’s no doubt about it, the best way to get the number of visitors you deserve is through social media marketing. Using social media platforms allows you to drive targeted traffic directly to the quality content you want them to see. Googles bots are fully aware of which pages are consistently gaining traffic, so by routinely sharing your pages on social media, you can influence the bots to move your pages up the search engine results page (SERPS). The more shares your page gets, the more likely it is to rank higher in Google’s search engine results page. 
Social media marketing generates sales 
It makes sense that by going where your customers are, your business will be able to generate more leads. Some statistics that display the importance of social media marketing are that 70% of business-to-consumer marketers state they have generated sales through Facebook, 67% of Twitter users are far more likely to buy from the brands they follow on twitter and 46% of web users look towards social media when making a purchase. 
 
Most of the big brand names lead in the market because they manage to stay at the forefront of their customer’s mind through their social media. These brands have become the masters of social media marketing through continuously appealing to their consumers with idyllic images of their products, frequent competitions and discount coupons on their social media channels. 
 
So, if you were wondering why social media marketing could be important for your business, hopefully, this list has helped you understand the many benefits of taking advantage of these platforms. Social media platforms are a free method of developing relationships between you and you consumers that typical outbound marketing cannot provide. 
 
If you like the sound of using social media but don’t know where to start with it, the SEO experts here at Designer Websites can help – get in touch today!
Facebook 2016
 

Whether you keep up to date with social media developments or not, you're likely to have seen Facebook making headlines quite regularly last year, and often for the wrong reasons! From developments on the parent platform (which still has the biggest user share in social media), to increasing Instagram shake-ups since 2012's take-over, Facebook did a lot to get people talking in 2016. They also managed to find themselves right at the centre of the year's post-truth' climate, as the growing prevalence of 'fake news' on the platform was criticised throughout mainstream news, particularly in relation to the year's biggest political developments.

 
Despite all the negative attention received, Facebook did manage to make headlines for the right reasons on several occasions during 2016, although it's fair to say that many of these achievements were lost in the swathe of bad press towards the end of the year. To get a more balanced view of the platform's accomplishments and blunders, we put together a list of the company's top hits and misses of 2016:

Miss: Organic Reach Falls 

facebook organic reach chart
(data via edgerankchecker.com, now property of socialbakers.com
 
Throughout 2016, we heard a lot about the increasing problem of competing organically amidst the growth of paid advertising, which was a particularly sore issue for content creators on Facebook over the course of 2016. Throughout the year, we heard increasingly dismal reports about the depths to which organic reach capabilities were sinking, and back in August, Marketing Land reported that capabilities had fallen by a whopping 52%. 
 
Using data provided by social publishing tool Social Flow, the news site reported how reach for brands and content publishers had hit a new low, as Facebook's algorithm became increasingly stringent about the posts that were able to make it into people's feeds. In fact, the only area that seemed to be demonstrating growth for content creators was video, which had it's fair share of positive and negative attention this year, as will be discussed below. 

Hit: Reaction Buttons

facebook reactions
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
 
During 2016, our social interaction habits became increasingly 'emojicentric', which is why the introduction of reaction buttons can be seen as one of the platform's more successful moves of the year, for users and content creators alike. While this expansion of the 'like' feature may have gained it's fair share of negative press, with suggestions that it was a further invasion of user privacy, it has certainly increased the 'social' aspect of the platform overall. It has also acted as a creative tool for encouraging interaction from users, as companies and publishers have taken to asking audiences to select reactions, in order to run makeshift Facebook polls. 
 
Despite an initial slump, a study by Quintly published back in September reported a 22.4% rise in the use of reaction buttons from May to June 2016, with video content picking up the largest amount of Facebook Reactions. It also inspired sets of 'Reaction Packs' to be developed as an alternative to the standard emoji-like icons, as well as limited-edition reactions from Facebook themselves during Halloween.

Miss: Instagram's Algorithm Changes

instagram algorithm
 
If people weren't already angry enough with Facebook's algorithm tweaking, this frustration extended to the company's acquired photo-sharing platform at the beginning of the year, as it was announced that Instagram would be rolling out an interaction-based system for deciding which content users would like to see. This sparked an outpouring of complaints from users, particularly from those who were concerned about their ability to sustain and expand their audience, when competing with accounts that have a considerably high follower count, and therefore likes.
 
Despite the negativity earned by the move, Instagram continued to witness growth in 2016, particularly from advertisers. According to Mashable,  it is likely that the platform will overtake Twitter as the go-to sharing service for paid marketing efforts in 2017, a prediction that was based on market research from Emarketer, who also predicted that Twitter's prospects would continue to stagnate. With advertising on Instagram having doubled since last year, it's hard to count their collective changes to the platform as a 'miss', however, the negative backlash from such a high volume of users is impossible to ignore. Perhaps the best way to describe this point is as a 'miss' in terms of public opinion, while it may be described as a 'hit' from the perspective of business development.

Hit: Live Video

live video on facebook
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
 
The most substantial achievement for Facebook in 2016 had to be the introduction of Live Video, which has even prompted Twitter to launch it's own version of this feature, in a bid to use their acquisition of Periscope as a competitive advantage. The secret to success for search and social media platforms alike, is the ability to keep users in one place, and to offer a range of features that will encourage users to interact with the platform on an increasingly frequent basis. Taking ques from a combination of user behaviour and other social platforms, Facebook devised a way to take users beyond the capabilities of a simple status update or photo share, by granting them the ability to interact with their audience in real time.
 
In 2016, there was a mass outpouring of articles championing the efficiency of video content, which made this development just as appealing to brands and content creators as it was to the average user. 

Miss: Miscalculated Metrics 

miscalculated metrics
 
Talk about bad press! Above is an example of what shows up when you type 'miscalculated metrics' into Google, which goes to show how much of a slip up this was for the company last year. Perhaps the worst part, is the fact that this happened not only once, but three times in the space of just a few months, as was noted by Search Engine Watch
 
The first example came in 2016, as Facebook announced that a miscalculation in video metrics meant that it had been vastly overestimating the average viewing time. The second case came in November, which revealed even more issues within Facebook Analytics, including a miscalculation of weekly and monthly summaries on Page Insights, among other issues. Finally, in December, Facebook announced a range of miscalculations and fixes that would impact areas such as estimated reach and reactions to live videos.
 
As expected, marketers and content publishers were angry and concerned about these revelations, which cast doubt on their previous goals and achievements using Facebook to generate engagement, using both paid and organic methods.

Hit: Facebook Grows in India 

facebook india
(image via Wikimedia Commons)
 
2016 was a good year for Facebook in terms of global growth, as the site achieved more than 166 million Monthly Active Users in India. This meant that the country accounted for a huge chunk of Facebook's overall growth last year, at a rate of 22% year on year, which was higher than the global average of 17%. It was also revealed that at least 159 million of these users were accessing the site via mobile devices, which counts for over 90% of Facebook's overall traffic.
 
Despite the eventual success witnessed by Facebook by the end of the year, this did not come without its struggles. In fact, back in February, India's Telecom Regulatory Authority blocked Facebook's plans to install the 'Free Basics' internet service, which was intended to offer a limited number of online services to users, without an added cost.

Miss: Fake News

hilary clinton
(image by Gage Skidmore) 
 
This was without a doubt, the biggest headline to impact Facebook last year, and sadly for them, it wasn't a positive one. Highlighted primarily by events such as the US election, 2016 was the year that Facebook came under harsh scrutiny for the levels of completely fabricated news being spread across the platform. One of the most severe cases highlighted in the press, was a popularly shared story that linked presidential candidate Hilary Clinton with a fabricated paedophile ring, all elements of which were a complete invention.
 
To make matters worse, Mark Zuckerberg initially dismissed the impact and scale of this issue, insisting on Facebook's position as a neutral, non-media company. Naturally, as a company with such a huge influence on the daily lives and information consumption of its active users, this statement went down like a lead balloon with many, which meant that Zuckerberg was forced to address the issue again in November. This post consisted of a list which outlined 7 ways in which Facebook could tackle its fake news problem, and shortly after this, news outlets began reporting that users had spotted some of these methods being tested.
 
While Facebook's efforts to address the problem are a step in the right direction, for many, these changes are a case of too little too late, particularly with regards to the possible implications on important political developments.

Hit: Instagram Comment Disable

instagram logo
 
While Facebook itself may have missed the mark when it comes to filtering out damaging information, Instagram granted it's users with the enhanced ability to filter out trolls towards the end of 2016. This appeared in the form of a comment disable switch, which provided users with the ability to turn off comments on individual posts.
 
Social media platforms have been collectively criticised for their failure to deal with online abuse for some time, which made this feature a welcome addition to the photo sharing app. While this ability had previously been available to only a select few accounts, it was later rolled out for all Instagram users, granting individuals with the ability to flexibly alter their comment preferences when posting and editing their images.
 
In addition to the ON/OFF comment switch, Instagram also introduced abuse filters to account settings, allowing users to active a general abuse filter, as well as adding their own set of keywords, to prevent these from appearing in the comments of their post. Taylor Swift became one of the first users to test this feature, after her account was spammed with a swathe of snake emojis, in the aftermath of her feud with Kim Kardashian West.

Miss/Hit: 'Stories' on Instagram

instagram and snapchat
This is the last Instagram related news story to make it onto our list, and it's something of a combination when it comes to how it was received by users and the media. Back in the summer of 2016, Instagram announced its brand new 'Stories' feature, which was a clear copy of Snapchat's photo sharing format. Unsurprisingly, this led to a lot of backlash from users across social media, who were quick to make jokes, express their confusion, and criticise the changes to the platform. 
 
This certainly isn't the first or last time that social networks have 'taken inspiration' from one another's features, and soon enough, it became clear that the company's move had paid off. Instagram had not only managed to add a new, interactive feature, without making existing capabilities more complicated, but had also succeeded in improving the confusing and non-user-friendly elements of Snapchat's interface. For Instagram, this was a way to offer the missing element of spontaneity to their users, providing another incentive to remain active on the app, while succeeding in preserving the already successful elements of their model.

Hit: Best Tech Company to Work For

facebook hq
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
 
While users and commentators may have experienced many issues with Facebook as a company in 2016, this was not the case for their U.S employees. After months of dealing with negative press relating to fake news and metric mess-ups, Facebook needed a positive news story, which came in December, as they were named 'Best Company to Work for in the U.S' ahead of 2017. Assessing ratings from employees, job hunting website Glassdoor publishes the list ahead of each new year, with Facebook coming out on top in its most recent set of yearly rankings. 
 
While Facebook had featured on the list 7 times previously, on this occasion it managed to rise up and claim the top spot for 2017, after many of the company's employees praised the positivity and flexibility of their workplace, as well as their opportunities to thrive and progress.

Miss: Facebook's 'Year in Review'

facebook tweet
 
While there may have been many positive notes for Facebook thought the year, it wasn't surprising that the company managed to anger their users one more time before the year was out. This came in the form of Facebook's 'Year in Review' for 2016, which included personalised memories for each of its users, as well as a round up of the most popular trending topics for the year. While Facebook have included similar features in past years, a combination of existing distaste for Facebook's selective algorithm, anger over the Fake News scandal, and general distaste for 2016 in general, meant that the reception for this year's feature was particularly frosty. 
 
When it came to people's 'personalised' videos, it seemed that Facebook still managed to miss the mark when it came to showing users their most memorable moments of the year, something it had promised to improve on in previous years. Many users complained about the feature being depressing, inaccurate and unnecessary, while others also complained about their publication of the trending topics list, which to many was a bitter reminder of the many negative events that had occurred throughout the year.

If you’re familiar with the dilemma about whether art imitates life, or life art, you’ll probably agree that it’s rather a fitting analogy for the world of social media these days. With each platform becoming increasingly competitive in order to retain users and advertisers, it’s become a case of cyclical imitation that makes it hard to keep up with who thought of what first.

While imitation hasn’t always worked for Twitter, as was evident in the outrage caused by the announcement of a non-chronological feed and possible character change earlier this year, the company is still persevering with ways to tackle its main competitor: Facebook. 

We’ve heard countless stories over the course of the year, about how Twitter is failing to retain its user base due to a lack of identity, features, and failure to sufficiently deal with the levels of harassment and hate speech being spread across the platform. We’ve also heard about their struggle to compete with the increasing dominance of Facebook (and Instagram), in the paid advertising market, which has seen Twitter’s own performance screech to a grinding halt. Combine this with the repeated loss of top-level employees, and it’s safe to say that this year has been anything but stable.

While the platform’s main competitor has seen its fair share of problems this year, between the controversy surrounding fake news and the revelations regarding miscalculated metrics, there has been one key area in which Facebook has managed to thrive during 2016: Live Video. Since launching the capability for users to share real-time updates from their phone cameras, the feature has proven to be a hit with audiences and content-creators alike, taking the platform’s capabilities beyond that of a simple status update or image share. 

For the average user, this provides the ability to share important moments with your friends and family as and when they happen, in a more instantaneous and impactful way than it is possible to achieve with traditional methods of posting. For brands, Facebook Live has provided a platform which combines, ‘behind the scenes’ exclusivity with the appeal of video content, to create an experience which has value for the viewer, as well as the ability to generate engagement and instant feedback for the creator.

This feature, of course, is far from being an original idea, which is something of a theme when it comes to the company’s developments. Facebook-owned platform Instagram almost directly copied Snapchat’s famous ‘story’ feature this year, integrating it into their app for an enhanced range of capabilities. Let’s not also forget Facebook’s move to integrate ‘trends' back in 2014, which until then had been a distinct characteristic of Twitter as a social sharing platform. 

Regardless of who thought of what first, the importance of these developments is not their level of originality, but the move towards a one-stop, all-encompassing social sharing platform. This is exactly what Twitter seems to be aiming for by integrating Periscope into the existing Twitter app, making it easy for users to share live videos from a single platform.  We’ve heard about the impact of video content endlessly throughout 2016, and it’s no secret that Twitter has been lagging behind its social counterparts when it comes to delivering these capabilities for users. While it may have been a case of too little too late when it comes to Vine (which will now exist as Vine Camera), the move may manage to bolster Twitter’s ability to engage users in 2017. 

To what extent this will help Twitter compete with the likes of Facebook isn’t exactly clear, particularly as the latter’s own live video service remains in the very early stages itself. What is clear, however, is that Twitter has to create a more inclusive experience for users and marketers if it wants to put itself on a level playing field with other social sharing apps. While Twitter’s biggest struggle has always been the dilemma between adding new features, and retaining its loyal users who were attracted to Twitter for the very reason that it wasn’t like other platforms, there’s no doubt that the platform has to diversify if it wants to keep up with the growing prominence of video content throughout social media.

Twitter’s choice to integrate video may not be the answer to all their problems, but it certainly couldn’t hurt to throw their name into the list of platforms offering this service. For those who already use Twitter, be it for recreational or commercial purposes, they now have one less reason to go elsewhere if they want to experiment with this feature. If Twitter could manage to grow its user base and brand appeal, that would be a huge achievement for the platform, but if it can manage to retain and engage its current users at the very least, that would certainly be a step in the right direction.

It’s one thing having to crisis-manage when your brand comes under fire for its own mistakes, but when your product is referenced without your permission, in a politically provocative and offensive tweet? Well, that’s a completely different ball game.

That’s exactly what happened to Skittles this week, when the son of controversial presidential candidate, Donald Trump, shared a meme comparing Syrian refugees to ‘poisoned skittles’. Cue pandemonium and uproar on Twitter; not to mention the fact that the original tweet received over eight thousand retweets and thirteen thousand likes (and counting)…

Yes, this is what the PR team at Skittles had to deal with when they noticed their brand name trending on Twitter, without warning, and with little time to prepare a response. In fact, there were even jokes trending about their unwanted position in this highly risqué, and ludicrous political statement:


It even brought up memories of another controversial, political event which the brand became unknowingly associated with; the shooting of Trayvon Martin:


With their brand name swirling around on social media as the butt of racist jokes, political rants and PR memes, it isn’t difficult to imagine the awkward position that camp Skittles found themselves in – so how did they navigate their way out of it? Well, their approach to this predicament actually highlighted the undervalued art of subtlety in social media, along with the importance of knowing when and where to place your comments. 

Of course, a tactfully witty response would have earned praise from some, but this also runs the risk of being seen as offensive, adding fuel to an already raging fire. A more sober statement, would also clash with their highly light-hearted social media strategy, which usually stays far away from the political sphere. Vitally, it’s also fully understandable that they’d want to avoid being overly provocative to the Trump social media machine, particularly during an election period that has seen its fair share of social media controversy. Trump calling on his supporters to boycott Skittles – is it really that hard to imagine in the current political climate? 

It all boils down to a desire to stay out of the news, without promoting a political agenda, and without being seen as milking any free publicity. It also has to be done with a view to maintaining their playful, adventurous social media brand, without it also looking like their business is completely ignorant. 

Skittles solved all of these problems in two simple steps.

Step 1 - Respond to a journalist from a high-profile news site, who makes a private, formal request for comment on the situation:


Step 2 - Watch as a screenshot of the comment earns thousands of likes and retweets, gaining a swathe of positive feedback in the process:


Even prompting people to profess their love for the product:


Just like their decision to remain respectfully silent in the case of Trayvon Martin, Skittles were able to preserve their reputation, without getting directly caught up in any high-profile arguments, or revealing any strong political leanings. They also managed to voice their disapproval for the statement in question, without overtly criticising Trump and his supporters, avoiding the possibility of an inevitably nasty comeback from the notorious Republican nominee.

All politics aside, this is a great example of intelligent brand preservation in the face of unwanted attention and appropriation. It also shows that while it may be impossible to prevent your brand from gaining negative associations, it is possible to take control of the situation and voice disapproval, without being a source of negativity yourself.


As far as brands are concerned, Twitter is one of the best “all-round” platforms for expanding your audience. It’s fast, easy to use, and is highly community-driven. While the user-base may be skewed towards the under 50s, it still counts for a large portion of social media opportunities for the vast majority of business, with a 100 million daily active users.

Regardless of how modest or ambitious your aims may be, Twitter provides a number of free promotional opportunities for brands, regardless of your market or area of interest. Whether you simply wish to give your business a more informal, human face, or have a larger set of plans for implementing a marketing strategy on the platform, Twitter gives you instantaneous access to a huge audience that is ripe for cultivation.

Part of Twitter’s great appeal is its ability to provide instant interaction and feedback, which is what makes it such a great tool for building your brand awareness and following, in a very organic, conversational way. To help you benefit from these attributes, and build an active Twitter feed which meets your goals, here are some easy-to-implement ideas for building an audience, and driving communication:

Reach Out to Industry Influencers, Enthusiasts and Experts

Wherever you fall in the pecking order of your industry, whether you’re a seasoned expert or a new face on the scene, interacting with fellow influencers can be a great way to position yourself as an engaging contributor, while also elevating your profile within your industry.

This could involve everything from a simple follow to more regular interactions, in which you make an obvious effort to share content, and get involved in conversations which relate to your area of interest. The most important thing to remember, is to keep things naturalistic, by avoiding robotic and repetitive behaviour. When introducing yourself, commenting or retweeting, always try to inject some personality into your language, and convey genuine interest.

*Tip* Think beyond the obvious in terms of who you connect with; could there be an untapped audience for your brand on Twitter?

Run a Competition

Whether you’re looking to increase the desirability of your product, reward your customers, or simply grow your follower count, running a competition can be a great way to boost your audience and interaction rate. 

The most important thing to remember, is to get your competition tweet seen, as there’s little point in running a competition that only circulates amongst your existing follower base. While you could run the competition outside of Twitter, I would suggest a simple ‘follow and retweet’ formula, if you want to earn the highest level of interaction. The truth is, many people will find it a hassle to fill in a form or navigate outside of Twitter, particularly those on mobile. Allowing them to remain on the platform and perform a few simple actions is more likely to encourage them to enter, and will help your competition circulate at a faster rate for further entrants.

Of course, if your aim is to get people to sign up to a newsletter or take another form of action outside Twitter, then perhaps this format alone is not suitable for your aim. This approach, like many, has its pros and cons, which you can weigh up when planning your competition. The fast and easy route is more likely to earn a higher number of low-value follows from serial competition participants, but on a positive note, it will also get more attention in general, increasing the likelihood of it reaching someone with a genuine interest in your industry.

Once you’ve thought through your format and aims, conduct a bit of research into the optimal post time for your audience (geographic/age/industry factors), and make sure to include #competition in your tweet, to give it the best chance at success.

*Tip* Hold on to your followers! Of course, you’ll always get a few people who are “just in it for the free stuff”, but a competition can still bring in lots of engaged followers who are interested in your products/niche. Maintain interaction with your new followers, keep posting quality content, and you should see the benefits of your newly extended audience

Watch the Trend

One of the things that makes Twitter such a great way of tapping into conversations, is the fact that it has a constant stream of trending topics, along with an array of commonly used and time-specific hashtags, which allow you to tap into collective moods, and keep up with relevant hashtags. 

Whether it relates to news, popular culture or simply a specific time, keeping an eye on the trending topics on a daily, even hourly basis, is the easiest possible way of keeping your Twitter feed active and engaging. This may seem fairly obvious as such a key element of the platform, but it’s surprising how underused the hashtag is in many instances, particularly by those who are new to the platform. 

While each individual account may have a tone and approach which relates specifically to their brand or following, it’s almost always a good idea to weigh in on popular topics, even when it comes to something as simple as the weather. Relatability and affinity are the arguably the driving forces of Twitter, so it’s important to keep this in mind in order to boost activity.

*Tip* ALWAYS check the hashtag! If you see a hashtag trending, don’t presume to know what this relates to, without checking the posts attached to it first. While certain hashtags won’t relate strictly to a particular use, others will be used specifically in connection with a certain movement or development, making their misuse blindingly obvious. Using a hashtag that has nothing to do with your content can not only appear irrelevant and somewhat desperate, it can also be deemed insensitive and offensive in the worst instances.

Be Visual

Countless studies have shown how visual mediums can enhance social media posts, so be sure to take advantage of this benefit wherever possible. Even without the statistics on how many more likes and retweets can be gained from a post with an image, it doesn’t take a social media expert to understand that these enhancements are bound to stand out in your Twitter feed. 

We’re by no means suggesting that text-only tweets are incapable of creating a significant impact, but it’s important to realise how useful these additions can be for boosting initial attention, as well as the appeal for further promotion. Social media has made us a generation of meme-sharers and gif enthusiasts, who are able to communicate using nothing but a set of emojis, making it a vital aspect of social media culture. Again, it comes back to the point of relevancy, combined with the ability to communicate clearly, and impactfully.

In fact, it’s about to get even easier to share images in your tweets as of September 19th 2016, thanks to the fact that these will no longer count towards your 140 character limit. This means that you won’t have to sacrifice words for visuals, or vice versa, so you can share infographics and vine clips to your hearts content.

*Tip* Know when to let an image speak for itself. In some cases, a brief caption can be more impactful then a longer, accompanying explanation, so keep this in mind if your visual content is the main aspect of the tweet, as opposed to an addition. This is also particularly true if the image itself contains text. 

Make Great Use of Third Party Content

Naturally, it’s imperative that you keep your Twitter original, but you should also consider how an efficient use of third party content can enhance your feed, and build interaction within your community. 

It may seem vital to have a steady stream of your own content, and of course that’s true, but a fully original Twitter page can become just as boring and repetitive as a constant outpouring of retweets. If your Twitter makes the mistake of becoming too focused on your own ideas, products and opinions, it runs the risk of being seen as overly self-promotional, which may alienate your audience over time.

Just as we mentioned in our first tip, engaging with fellow influencers is a great way to build relationships, and can also show your willingness to take an interest in your chosen community. If you’re pointing at a particular content creator as a good source of information, it’s likely that you may also receive some positive attention in return, as part of Twitter’s reciprocal spirit. The most important thing to remember, is always to @ your source in the tweet (if possible).

*Tip* Always read the content and understand it fully before sharing! Oftentimes, titles can be misleading, so don’t just share content without actually engaging with it. No cheats or quick fixes here I’m afraid!

Provoke Reactions

Although controversy sometimes has its place in online marketing when used intelligently, we aren’t talking about making your followers angry. What we mean, is starting up thought-provoking conversations, and encouraging your community to share their opinions with you.

In recent times, Twitter has made this much easier for users, thanks to the introduction of the Twitter poll last year. Perhaps it’s the anonymity factor or the element of curiosity, but Twitter polls hardly ever fail to drive engagement levels, making them a great way to improve activity on your page, whilst also learning something new about your audience.

In its most simple form, this could start with addressing a question to your audience, which is a great way to get community members interacting with your page. This could be employed in a casual way to inspire debate, but could also be used by businesses to involve their customers in the creative process. For example, you could post a preview of a new product, which could not only help you gauge its popularity, but could also help to generate a sense of anticipation ahead of its launch.

*Tip* Always treat public opinion/engagement requests with caution. If you think your conversation is at risk of bringing negative customer experiences to the fore, or could possibly be hijacked in a way that would reflect badly on your business, then stay away!

Pin it!

If you’re not using the pinned tweet feature on your page, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to show off your latest news and best moments to followers, along with any potential followers that you could be missing out on! Not only is this a great way to give an extra boost to a tweet you want noticed, it’s also incredibly useful for making a strong impression on those visiting your page for the first time, giving them a clear impression of your brand identity straight away.

From competitions to appearances at important conferences, pinned tweets can give an extra boost to posts you want prioritised, or would like to lend some additional exposure to. As the first thing a visitor sees when they click on your profile, you’ll want to make sure that you double check your tweet for any mistakes, and be extra discerning about the wording before you post. Once you’re confident, however, this makes a handy promotional tool, and gives you some additional control over the shelf life of your tweet.

*Tip* Don’t let your pinned tweet get out of date! Once you’ve pinned your tweet, don’t just go away and forget about it, or you could completely defeat its intended purpose. If your tweet is an expired competition or a piece of news that has long since passed, you run the risk of looking like you don’t check your profile regularly. Like all other parts of your profile, pinned tweets should be considered and updated regularly when required.

Be Helpful!

Another important aspect of your interaction with your followers and online community, is to provide useful information, and answers to any questions they may have. Of course, if a follower comes to you with a question directly, it’s more than evident that you should respond promptly and politely, but this should also extend to your wider social media strategy.

In fact, questions can be a great way to introduce yourself to a community member, and can also be used to promote a useful piece of content you may have written, if executed correctly. Keep your eye out for people on your own feed who are looking for solutions or advice, but also actively use the Twitter search bar to look up specific queries that people may be making. As with any social media interaction, you should always be cautious about making the response too self-promotional, and should consider whether your answer is appropriate to the situation before positing. You could even share a third party solution with them, providing that they are not a direct competitor.

*Tip* Use your insights gained on Twitter, to influence your wider content strategy. If you notice a pattern of common problems arising in your Twitter community, it could be time to address these. This could be as simple as creating an advice piece, or, if this relates directly to your business, it could mean making more impactful changes.

Post at the Right Time

While avoiding any cliché statements about being in the right place at the right time, Twitter posting should be carefully considered if you want to make the most of your opportunities. For the best results, you need to consider the data collected in your Twitter analytics in combination with general user insights, in order to plan your most important posts to go out at particularly active times of the day.

While it’s a good idea to post on Twitter over a variety of hours, in order to maintain activity, you should always ensure that your most important tweets are posted at points of peak activity, to avoid losing out on potentially valuable interactions. Naturally, this approach should be employed sensibly, and shouldn’t interfere with the impulsive nature of Twitter, which could even have the opposite of your desired effect. If a topic is currently trending, or there is an important event occurring, of course you should avoid this approach, which we will discuss further in our final point.

*Tip* If you have a good idea, but don’t think your timing will help you get the most from your tweet, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to help you schedule your posts. This way, you can prevent yourself from forgetting an idea or missing an opportunity, whilst ensuring that your tweet has the best chance of gaining attention and generating interactions.

Interact and React: Make the Most of Real-Time Events

Picking up from our last point, our final piece of advice concerns the value of interacting in correlation with real-time events, which is one of the most common uses of Twitter as a whole, but is perhaps one that could be adopted more by businesses. 

Naturally, the Twitter buzz surrounding high-profile conferences and business events is well-known, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be capable of hosting one such event, in order to make the most of the hype generated by them. In fact, this rule doesn’t just apply to events which have their own manufactured hashtag at all, but rather to the general live-reaction spirit of Twitter as a whole. It could relate to a television programme, popular culture, or even politics, but as long as you’re sure that it relates to your community, go ahead and make the most of these opportunities for extra exposure.

Naturally, some events and developments will relate clearly to your usual content and brand, but this doesn’t mean that they are the only events that you should be paying attention to. Think about your target audience, along with subjects that are closely related to your field, if not directly so. For example, a brand targeted at students would naturally be tweeting during high-profile events such as exam results, but could also benefit from tweeting about other events that would interest their audience, perhaps during the coverage of a music festival, for example. As always, the main aim is to strike a balance between being overly specific and focused on a single subject, and losing focus of your direction by jumping on every Twitter bandwagon that comes along.

*Tip* Always proofread your hashtag, and make sure you’re using the right one. 


If you'd like our help to create a thoughtful and engaging social media strategy, that will allow you to enhance your brand following and build relationships with your customers, simply get in touch with Designer Websites today!

If you're an Instagram user, unless you've been hiding under a rock all weekend, you're likely to have noticed some unusual goings-on in your feed over the Easter break. In place of the usual selection of posts, you will no doubt have been bombarded with a repeated message from many of the accounts you follow, urging their audiences to 'turn on post notifications' in order to continue seeing their content. The reason for all of this panic and uproar? Instagram's latest algorithm changes. 

Sparked by the same issue that launched the #RIPTwitter tag only a few months ago, the outpouring of complaints from users came after the image-led platform announced that it would be abandoning the traditional reverse-chronological feed in favour of a system which will order posts by 'relevance'. Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram's changes mean that you will no longer see the newest post from your followed accounts on your feed first; instead, you'll see those which have been selected by the algorithm. 

While the idea of having curated content specifically targeted to your previous likes and interests may seem like a move towards user-friendliness, the alterations have come under considerable scrutiny since their announcement. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the new system is said to include 'post-engagement' as a factor in its ranking process, which for many is seen as a move towards social media elitism. This is due to the fact that those with the greatest number of followers are likely to appear first, due to the large number of 'likes' which their posts regularly attract. Until now, Instagram has been the go-to platform for many self-made businesspeople and demi-celebrities (outside of YouTube, of course!) Everyday users have been able to build up large and loyal followings based on the quality of their content and their post timing/tag intelligence alone, but this pathway could be derailed for future users thanks to these changes.

This change has also come under considerable scrutiny by businesses established outside of Instagram, who until now have made use of the platform's growth and popularity to get their posts noticed by existing and potential customers. This is largely due to Instagram's affiliation with Facebook, and the perceived similarities between the former's latest update and the latter's own new algorithm change haven't helped. The current panic and outrage from businesses is somewhat justified, based on the negative impact documented in the wake of Facebook's own non-chronological feed change. After the changes were brought in, businesses reported all-time-lows from their organic post reach, a move which many viewed as a method of forcing companies into resorting to paid Facebook ads.

And here lies the core problem with content filter changes on social media platforms and search engines: the issue of profits over people. In the eyes of many users, life is being made increasingly difficult for average users and small businesses, as the ability to reach your desired audience without the boost of a large existing following or financial investment becomes increasingly elusive. The prospect of an organic, indiscriminate form of online networking seems to be a dim and distant dream for many, but are the objections to this latest set of algorithm changes justified?

One factor which could go against the presumption that the new change is bad for business is the fact that Instagram does not currently discriminate between business and personal accounts. This means that unlike Facebook, posts from 'real people' are not unfairly prioritised over those posted as part of a business's brand awareness and marketing strategy. While this may not completely solve the question for smaller accounts and those just getting started with Instagram, it does force users to be smarter with their use of trends, analytics, and overall post quality. Popular post times, trending hashtags and calls-to-action should all factor in to the post-algorithm Instagram strategy, which could even mean that those who strive to cater to their intended audience will be rewarded over those who simply take for granted that their posts will be seen. Lazy, repetitive content leads to a decrease in engagement, likes, and eventually followers; this means that, while the new algorithm may give those with an established follower-base a head start, it will still force all users to maintain post quality.

It is also worth noting that urging followers to 'turn on notifications', is probably one of the worst steps that an Instagram user can take in the wake of these changes, particularly those running business accounts. For the network's average users, it was puzzling and slightly laughable to see Instagrammers with hundreds of thousands of followers posting these messages, as one would naturally presume that these accounts will have a better chance of being prioritised under the new system. For followers who weren't already irritated by the barrage of notification posts, it is highly likely that the deluge of notifications facing those who did decide to 'switch on' will strike a decisive blow. As any good social media marketer knows, spam is never a positive or fruitful way to target users, so your main priority regardless of these changes should be the production of relevant, high-quality content.

While it may be easy to attack the faults and motives of Instagram's latest update, it is worth remembering that, unlike previous alterations to the online experience, these changes should not pose an instant impact for users. Instagram themselves have explained that the roll-out will be gradual, and will involve an extensive testing process, suggesting that they are interested in maintaining Instagram's user-friendliness. Though it is important to question the business motivations of companies like Instagram, it is also important for users to see the bigger picture in order to adapt and account for changes beyond their control. 

If you're looking to improve your business presence and brand image on social media, click here to find out how we can help.
Facebook Ad Images

Earlier this week, Facebook changed their guidelines regarding ad images. The images that accompany Facebook ads were previously allowed up to 20% text coverage, meaning that up to one-fifth of your promotional image could consist of written text; however, Facebook's Guide for using text in ad images now states that their "preferred image style" contains "little to no text". Advertisers must now strip most if not all text out of their ad images if they wish to continue reaching the largest possible audience.

This change came into effect on Tuesday the 22nd of March, but you'd be forgiven for missing the memo - there seems to have been no official announcement from Facebook, and the alteration appears to have gone unnoticed by mostof the online publications who would usually cover this sort of thing. Even the people paying to advertise on Facebook were not notified of this change, meaning that many people will have seen their ad reach plummet over the last day or two.

If you're concerned that this change may have affected your company's ads, here's a quick primer on the updated guidelines and how to comply with them:

OK, Low, Medium or High?

As of Tuesday, text coverage is now defined by four different categories. The category into which your Facebook ad falls will determine a) how many people you'll be able to reach, and b) how much the ad will cost to run.
  • OK: These ad images contain little or no text. A photograph overlaid with your company logo will probably fall into this category as long as there's no other text present.

  • Low: These ad images contain some text. Ad images with one or two lines of text will fall into this category; while these ads will probably reach fewer people than ads in the OK category, you may decide that the image text is so important that you're willing to sacrifice a portion of your impressions in order to deliver your full message.

  • Medium: These ad images contain a lot of text. Placing text in several different parts of your ad image will probably land your ad in this category. Facebook will still show these ads, but they are likely to reach a very small number of people under the new guidelines.

  • High: These ad images contain too much text. Facebook will not show an ad like this (unless the ad image is covered by the list of Exceptions - more on that in a moment).
Here's the infographic that Facebook have released to help advertisers understand the new guidelines.

Facebook Ad Image Guidelines
Image from facebook.com

Exceptions to the new rules

Facebook have stated that certain types of image will be exempt from these stricter image saturation guidelines. If any of the following apply to your ad, you can probably disregard everything we've said so far:
  • Book or album covers
  • Posters promoting concerts, music festivals, comedy shows, sporting events and films
  • Text-based businesses (e.g. calligraphers)
  • Screenshots of apps and games
  • Legal text
  • Infographics
  • Pictures of products (where the entire product is visible - no zooming in on a specific area)
Unfortunately, this list of exceptions does not cover logos, watermarks, or numbers - all of these things count towards the total amount of text in your image.

What should I do now?

If you're already running any adverts on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you log into your account and check the images that you've used alongside those ads. Pay close attention to the number of impressions your ad has achieved over the last few days - if that number has dropped since Tuesday, there's a good chance that your ad images no longer comply with Facebook's preferred style. Even if your impressions have remained stable, it's probably a good idea to swap any text-heavy images for images containing little or no text, just to be on the safe side.

Going forward, you will need to make sure that any new Facebook ads you create place are accompanied by images containing as little text as possible. You can still use text in the ad itself - just try to keep it out of the image or your campaign may not reach the audience you're targeting.

If you would like our social media experts to assist with your company's Facebook ads, please contact Designer Websites today - we can help you to create a compelling advert that reaches the largest possible audience.