Category Archives: Social

5 Free Tools Every Content Manager Should Bookmark

hand with laptop in cafe

This article is part of a series on tips, tricks, and tools to help businesses better manage their content online and get the most from their content marketing strategies. Click here to view other articles on CMS Tips


In this article, we’re going to look at five tools that will help you publish better content faster than ever.

 

1. Grammarly

While we all know content like quizzes, videos, and photos all do REALLY well for audience engagement, the backbone of all content is going to be words. And with Grammarly, it’s easier than ever to find the right ones.

It’s a tool that runs either as a plugin through your browser or as a standalone web or desktop app, and checks your spelling and grammar for anything you’re writing.

grammarly

Whether you’re posting a Facebook post through Hootsuite or uploading a blog entry through WordPress, Grammarly will interact with it and catch all your ugly typos and misspellings.

And that’s just the free version.

For the paid version ($11.66 per month, if you pay annually), you’ll get access to some nice features that look at your sentence structure, writing style, and vocabulary, making helpful suggestions as you type.

Even for the Hemingways out there, Grammarly is a key tool to keep in your arsenal. Partially, it means that you won’t embarrass yourself by using the wrong ‘your’. But more importantly, it means you can write much quicker, with less need for that second set of eyes before you hit ‘publish’. And when you’re staring down the barrel of a packed content calendar, you need every bit of speed you can grab.

And speaking of scheduling…

 

2. CoSchedule

coschedule demo

CoSchedule is a piece of software that makes scheduling and managing a content calendar easy.

Like Grammarly, CoSchedule works hard to integrate with as much of your existing software as possible, and especially WordPress.

So, what is it?

It’s basically a calendar app. But a really, really good one.

  • It can help you manage your content with a drag and drop calendar view (a bit like Trello cards)
  • It integrates with social media as well, so you can run your blog and social media calendars all in one place
  • You can assign tasks, set deadlines, create workflows, and build checklists for each piece of content
  • It lets you schedule and re-schedule content automatically (so you can promote something you wrote last week again)

Small teams might benefit less with the current entry price point and feature list, but where CoSchedule can add tremendous value is for teams working with several content managers, especially when contractors or freelancers are involved. The ability to share a view of what’s coming up and track multiple pieces at the same time saves oodles of project manager time and keeps your writers on track.

 

3. Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is the number one SEO plugin for WordPress. Put simply, is excellent at what it does.

Yoast SEO is a plugin that overlays your standard publishing view in WordPress and automatically ‘grades’ you on your SEO for each and every thing you publish.

Yoast seo

If you set a focus keyword, it will check if you’re using it often enough and if you’re going to rank. It also helps you create an SEO-friendly title and meta-description, and includes a snippet box so you can actually see what your post will look like in a Google SERP.

But where Yoast really shines is its readability checks. It will provide a red, amber, green indicator to let you know the status for each piece of copy, letting you know how easy it is to read. Now it’s not perfect and shouldn’t be relied on completely, but it will give you a general indication of whether what you wrote is any good, or if it’s completely terrible.

Finally, Yoast SEO will help with other more mundane (but important!) on-page SEO factors like breadcrumbs, canonical tags, whether you want to set a no-follow tag, and XML sitemaps. Plus, all this is free!

You can buy the Premium version for $69 per site, which will get you more keyword help, help with internal linking, and better support, but frankly, the free version gets you a lot of the way there.

 

4. Gyazo

If you’ve ever tried to explain how to use a computer over the phone, you know how valuable a screengrab can be.

Gyazo is a piece of software that makes taking and keeping screengrabs quick and easy.

gyazo

All you do is install the software (totally free) and you’re all set to go. Just click and capture, then you’re provided with a link that you can drop in and share wherever you want. You can even do video grabs and save them as gifs, so you can show how a button works, what a screen transition is like, or what an expanding menu will look like when it expands.

Plus, they have a Chrome extension, so you can quickly snap screenshots online as you go. There’s also an image categorization system, so you can quickly find the screenshot that you’re looking for when you want it.

 

5. Unsplash

Finally, we have Unsplash. Unlike these other tools, Unsplash isn’t a piece of software. It’s just a simple database of beautiful, totally searchable, free stock imagery.

surfer

via unsplash

 

You can use it all without violating copyright rules (although you may have to provide credit on some images) and the pictures they curate are 100% amazing. They tend to focus on big sky drone images at the moment, but their selection will change over time with changing photography trends.

For easy access to amazing stock images, bookmark this site!

 

Think we missed a great tool for content managers? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Tools to Improve Digital Productivity in 2017

digital productivity

It’s almost 2017 – are you ready to maximize your team’s productivity? If not, here are 5 tools to make sure your team hits the ground running in the new year.

 

1. Zapier

zapier

Zapier is a SaaS company that connects and automates all your various tools and apps that your team uses. It’s nothing short of genius.

It works like this: You get an account, then, you connect all the apps and other SaaS tools you already use to Zapier.

Trello, Asana, Gmail, MailChimp, PayPal, Evernote, social media platforms, Slack, Dropbox, and Salesforce are just a few examples of the apps that Zapier can integrate with.

Then, you create ‘zaps’ – basically ‘if this then that’ sort of rules. For example, you might connect your Gmail account to your Trello board so that when a new customer request comes in, it’s automatically added to your workstack.

By improving the integration between apps, you can give your team more time to focus on what’s important you can help improve your team’s productivity.

 

2. CoSchedule

coschedule

CoSchedule is a way for you to schedule and manage your digital marketing. From publishing a blog post to promoting something on social media, CoSchedule makes the process far easier and slicker (not to mention a lot more automatic).

It works by sitting within your WordPress CMS and acting as a re-skin of your normal back-end. For companies with many writers or different (non-writer) contributing team members, it’s a brilliant tool.

CoSchedule:

  • Helps you manage and direct what goes live when
  • Helps with automatic headline creation tools
  • Makes it easy to optimize for SEO
  • Makes it easy to plan a whole content calendar

And it integrates with the Google suite including analytics, so you can track and optimise your content over time.

 

3. Time Doctor

We thought about excluding Time Doctor, but decided the potential gains outweigh the heebie-jeebies it gives us.

Time Doctor allows you to track what your team does. For example, how much time is spent on email, how much on other apps (e.g. Slack, QuickBooks etc.), how much time is spent in meetings for each individual team member.time doctor website application monitoring

Naturally, this can be pretty weird pretty quick – after all, if Joe is delivering, who cares if he works for 1 hour and plays Farmville for the remaining 7?

But if we step back and look at the whole picture, Time Doctor is superb for helping teams figure out as a team where there are inefficiencies – are you meeting too often? Is your administration eating up too much of your team’s time?

These sorts of insights can help you with hiring new staff, keeping your team focused, and distributing workload efficiently.

 

4. iDoneThis

 

iDoneThis is like a daily status update of what each member of a team has done. You list all the things you’ve done, then at the end of the day, that list gets sent to your manager (or whoever you want).i done this

For balancing workload and keeping your team focused and motivated, iDoneThis is a brilliant tool. Plus, if you are the sort of team that would appreciate a bit of healthy competition, it’s an easy way to encourage it.

Proceed with caution though – this sort of micro tracking and progress updating doesn’t work in every environment, so think carefully before you roll it out. Maybe try it first with your own boss before you roll it out to your entire digital team.

 

5. Do.com

do platform

It seems like we all have a bit of a love/hate relationship with meetings.

A good one can cut through the noise and resolve a complicated problem quickly and effectively.

A bad one will make you want to gouge your eyes out.

Do.com keeps meetings focused and organized, by putting everything you’ll need for the meeting and scheduling it all in the same place. It also lets you assign follow-up tasks and even provides graphs on how productive your meetings are, so you can further optimise your teams’ time.

Do.com is a must-have for any digital team suffering from meeting-fatigue.

 

Conclusion

It’s always difficult to set the right balance of productivity and creative process for digital teams. How much “waste” is required to produce something amazing? Some, certainly – but hopefully, these tools will help you get on top of your workstack and drive a more productive team without compromising happiness or quality.

What are you favourite productivity apps to get the most out of your team? Tweet us at @moveableonline!

15 Ways for Web Designers & Developers to Stay Healthy at Work

exercise

Most everyone could benefit from a bit of a health kick, and that especially applies when your job requires you to sit at a computer for most of the day (web designers and developers, we’re looking in your direction).

So we’ve brought you 15 ways you can stay healthy and feel better right in the office. A little bit of effort every day will improve your mood, your fitness, and make you feel much less guilty about taking that second (or third) piece of chocolate cake.

If that’s not worth a couple stretches, well then we don’t know what is!

 

1. Take a break

pomodoro technique

Let’s start small. Taking a break every hour – even five minutes – will give your body the rest it so desperately needs. Your eyes, for example, are essentially stationary when you’re working on a computer. A 5-10 minute break will get them moving again, reducing dryness and keeping those mini-muscles from straining too much. 

Do you find yourself losing track of how much time has passed since your last break? Try the Pomodoro technique to keep yourself in check.

 

2. Use an exercise ball

exercise ball at desk

Even if you think they look silly, an exercise ball instead of a desk chair is hugely beneficial to your health. On an exercise ball, your body has to constantly adjust to keep you balanced, so your muscles are never completely still. This in turn builds up your core, strengthens your back, and improves your posture. That’s a lot of wins for something that regularly goes for about $30.

 

3. Upgrade to a standing desk

standing desk

Of course, sitting on a big ol’ ball all day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If it’s not quite for you, another option is to invest in a standing desk. The benefits of standing all day versus sitting are fairly well documented, and pretty much what you’d expect: 

  • Reduced risk of obesity, heart attacks, and diabetes
  • Improved blood flow and reduced lethargy
  • Better posture
  • Enhanced core strength 

Of course, the downside is that you have to stand all day long. But one standing desk advocate pointed out that he found that his standing desk actually improved communication, since he could see everyone and better have a quick chat. So there are perhaps even productivity benefits to a standing desk as well as health ones!

 

4. Change your commute

This is only sort of workplace related, but – if you can – change your commute. There are various benefits to ‘green’ commuting (walking, running, or biking to work), especially when compared to driving to work. It’s less stressful and improves your cardio, keeping you healthier, for longer.

 

5. Bring your lunch

Even healthy options at most restaurants and cafes aren’t as healthy as what you can easily bring from home. Plus, you can make much better food then you can buy – just make up a big batch of whatever you’re cooking for dinner and bring some in for lunch!

 

6. In-office yoga

office yoga

Yoga is a fantastic way to stay healthy at the office. Whether you go to a full blown yoga class during your lunch break, or you just do a few stretches every couple hours, find a system that works for you.

 

7. Hourly stretches

Like hourly breaks for your eyes, it’s important to stretch every hour as well. When we sit still for big chunks of time, our muscles start to seize up and shrink a little (especially our neck muscles). Stretching will unwind them and relax them, and keep you comfortable and injury-free in the long run.

⇨ Check out this collection of desk stretches from the Mayo Clinic

 

8. Always take the stairs

OK, if you work on the 80th floor then you get a pass. But working on the first with a meeting on the third? Take the stairs!

 

9. Use a pedometer

pedometer app

Use some classic gamification techniques! Aim to get 10,000 steps, and get a friend in on it. Most smartphones have the step-tracking technology built in, so all it takes is downloading an app to start counting. You’ll be surprised how intensely competitive you’ll become!

 

10. Set your monitor height ergonomically

The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes, so most of the time you’re looking down about 10 degrees. Any more and you’ll move your head to see stuff (which will cause neck pain), and any higher and your eyes will dry out.

 

11. Wash your hands

This simple measure can actually improve your health significantly. Offices, unfortunately, are breeding grounds for bacteria. Lots of people, extended hours, not a lot of fresh air, and a (hopefully) comfortably warm temperature? It’s no wonder office workers get sick so often!

You can reduce your own risk just by washing your hands. Another options is to keep some hand sanitizer at your desk to use throughout the day.

 

 

12. Keep your tech clean

dirty keyboard

Most people will clean a desk pretty regularly. However, our tech – phones, cell phones, keyboards – tend to be missed. Make a point of wiping down all your surfaces once a week, and every now and then getting some compressed air and cleaning out your keyboard. You’ll be amazed (and possibly disgusted) with how much stuff collects between the gaps.

 

13. Make friends

Offices can be lonely places. Make a point of getting to know the people around you outside of a work context. Talk about weekend plans, your friends or family, current events – whatever suits you!

And yes, we know that the office can be hard to break the ice. But odds are, everyone is just waiting for someone to take the plunge. Why can’t that be you? You’ll feel more connected, less stressed, and perhaps even more productive working with people you know rather than email addresses on a screen.

 

14. Drink water

But not too much. Did you know that it only takes 6L to kill an adult!? As long as you don’t overdo it, water will make you feel more energized, more positive, and better hydrated so you can fight off nasty infections easier.

 

15. Take a vacation

sea beach holiday

Of course, the number one way to be healthy at work is to not be at work at all! A quick break can rejuvenate you emotionally, physically, and creatively, making you not only healthier but actually better at your job. So go on. You’ve earned that vacation.


That’s how we stay healthy at Moveable Online. What lifestyle tips do you have to keep you in tip top shape? Share them in the comments below!

Is All Engagement Created Equal?

mobile phone engagement

Is all engagement created equal? The short answer is no. The long answer is that engagement is a tricky concept, and it can be extremely misleading if relied on too heavily. Here’s what it is, when it might lead you astray, and how you can use it most effectively.

 

How engagement is measured

Obviously, it depends on what medium you’re working with. Social media engagement is going to be different from email engagement, and even within these broad categories, each channel is going to have its own unique metrics.

But that doesn’t mean we can draw some general conclusions.

First, engagement always takes into account how many people were exposed to something. Pay-per-impression ad campaigns actually charge on this basis. For engagement, the primary argument is that to know anything, you need to know how many people saw something so you can know what percentage ‘engaged.’

Second, engagement metrics are usually measured when a user takes action. Likes, hearts, re-pins, commenting, sharing, even reading to the end – these are all actions.

This is the heart of engagement. It’s getting the consumer to do something, no matter how small or minute. These actions are quantifiable, and are used to extrapolate engagement metrics.

To take action, a browser has to be engaged to a certain degree. So if you count how many times actions are taken, then you have an approximation of how many people are engaged.

For comparing different content in the same channel, say two different blog posts, engagement metrics are a very useful tool. They can help you hone your online content to better connect with the people. However, there are problems with engagement metrics as well.

 

Not all engagement is created equal

facebook engagement

The crux of engagement measurement is that you’re using metrics to try and quantify something that is inherently qualitative. No one reads a website and says, ‘ok, I was 10% engaged, so I’ll like this blog post. But I wasn’t 15% engaged, so I won’t comment.’ That’s not how people work!

Engagement metrics give you an indication of what people like and what they don’t. But it’s only that – an indication. A ‘like’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you like something. It might mean that you didn’t read it but tapped it by accident. Who knows your motivations? Certainly not engagement metrics.

But the biggest problem is that not all engagement is created equal but is often weighted as such. The required energy for a like or a re-pin or a heart or a retweet is significantly less than the required energy to enter an email, fill out a form, or even buy a product. However, these actions are compared as if they are equal under the general purpose title ‘engagement’.

For example, say a company might have two channels, a Facebook page and an email signup form. The Facebook page might be driving 12% engagement (that is, for every 100 people who visit the page, 12 people like it), whereas the email form might be driving 3% engagement (for every 100 people who visit the page, only 3 sign up). So looking at this from an engagement perspective, Facebook is better.

But how often have you gone on to buy something just because you liked a page on Facebook? Probably not very often. And how often have you gone on to buy something after you signed up to an email list? Probably a lot more often.

So one channel, with only 3% engagement might drive $1,000 of business, where another with 12% engagement might drive nothing.

 

When and how to use engagement metrics

girl holding iPhone

But that’s not to say that engagement is a terrible thing that should never be used. Not at all! It’s just important to recognize its limitations. As we mentioned, it’s a fantastic tool for helping you hone your intra-channel marketing materials. But it has other functions too.

Engagement is great for measuring brand awareness.

With bottom line sales, marketing efforts are directly linked to their ability to generate revenue. But with a brand awareness campaign, while that’s the long term goal, the short term objective of the campaign isn’t to increase revenue – it’s to get your name out there.

And while there is definitely value in your brand name, it’s hard even for the most sophisticated analysts to know what it actually is. The result is that brand awareness marketing doesn’t tie as closely to the bottom line, so engagement metrics give you at least some idea of how many people are consuming and taking on board your message.

And finally, engagement metrics can be used extremely effectively as a predictor of success in a sales funnel. This is why there is so much enthusiasm around them, and we’d be loath to leave you thinking that engagement is all terrible.

To give you an example of this, let’s look at Groove.

Groove found that by measuring how long people stayed on their site and how often they visited, they could predict is someone would convert into a paying customer. For example, if they stayed for over 3 minutes and visited 4.4 times per day, they were much more likely to convert. They also worked out the inverse, and determined that someone who only spent 35 seconds on their first session and only visited 3 times per day were less likely to convert.

So, Groove created automated emails to reach out to the non-converters to see if they needed any help, which improved their conversion rate from those low-converting prospects by 30%.

By following a correlation between engagement and conversion, they were able to put their sales efforts exactly where they needed to be.

 

Conclusion

Engagement can be a really fantastic tool – if it’s used effectively. It’s important to understand the limitations of engagement, especially in relation to your marketing objectives. Engagement is simply a metric that we’ve created to try and quantify how much people like something. It’s not a hard and fast concept, and you need to be wary of assuming too much from engagement statistics.

However, it remains an important tool for comparing content within channels, for addressing branding success, and for informing marketing decisions of correlations in behaviours (e.g. average time spent on a site with conversion rate).

So embrace engagement! Just remember – it’s not the answer to every marketing problem, and any engagement miracle should be taken with a hefty grain of salt.

Design Trend of the Month: Instagram Is No Longer Square!?

instagram portrait and landscape photos

Each month, we try and profile a design trend sensation that’s sweeping the web. This month, we’re looking at Instagram’s move away from the square, where it came from, and why it’s here.

 

Update 7.5

In late August, Instagram announced that their 7.5 update would move users off the square and let them post images in rectangle dimensions, like more traditional photography (e.g. landscape and portrait format).

This is a big deal.

While it sounds like a bit of a nothing announcement, consider this: Instagram’s entire visual look is defined by its square-ness. It’s what sets it apart from a gallery function on a phone (plus filters and sharing). We think it’s fair to say that the Instagram square is a hugely important part of the brand and the driving force to the app’s look and feel.

michael kors instagram

So moving away from that towards a larger format image is a big move.

 

The motivation

According to the official Instagram blog:

“the visual story you’re trying to tell should always come first, and we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments just the way you want to.”

That’s pretty on par with Instagram’s general ethos – sharing photos, made easy. They also note that 20% of images on Instagram are already out of their restrictive square format, so in a lot of ways they’re jumping on a bandwagon rather than setting a trend.

But the fact remains that Instagram is arguing that the motivation is purely user focused – it wants to bring the Instagram experience to something people are doing already, and it wants to make it easier than ever to share images, whatever your creative vision for them might be.

 

The advertising angle

But the BBC thinks that there’s an ulterior motive here.  They say that the driving force is advertising. Advertisers want wider, larger formats for their campaigns, especially since it means they don’t have to awkwardly reformat video anymore. Disney, for example, was quick to take advantage of the new format: shortly after the new format was released, they uploaded a teaser for the new Star Wars movie. In conjunction with Instagram’s announcement to have more ads then before, this might be a move to cater to companies rather than users.

star wars instagram

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. If 20% of people want a new feature or function, then Instagram is right to fulfill that need. We think that while it does definitely benefit advertisers, there are definite UX gains here as well.

 

Design implications

It’s worth noting a few things. From a UX perspective, the actual experience of using Instagram hasn’t changed that much. If you’re taking pictures from Instagram, they’re still going to be square. What’s more, the look of Instagram’s scroll is still a grid of squares – it centre crops any landscape/portrait images to fit. So all in all, the change is maybe less dramatic then you might think.

However, what you can do now is upload a picture taken elsewhere (e.g. with the camera function of your phone) and you won’t have to crop it to a square anymore. So now, you can have images that show more width, like a picture of a city skyline, or you can upload a group photo and not have to cut anyone out.

From a portrait perspective, you can better capture tall buildings or trees, you can create head-and-shoulder shots (instead of just face).

instagram photo changes

It’s a good piece of functionality, but we would rather that Instagram made it possible directly from their app. As it is, it forces users out of the app to take a picture, only to go back into the app to upload it. But we like that the clean, regimented grid structure stayed the same. They could have created something with a Windows 10 feel, with different sized boxes, but we think that it would have been distracting and hard on the eyes.

 

Wrap up

Instagram has once again proven themselves to be a dynamic company capable of change. Lots of organizations would have baulked at the idea of changing something so fundamental to their brand. But Instagram sat back and said ‘ok, well how are people actually using our service? What can we do to improve that?’

And that’s a really positive thing for any company to do. Of course, it helps that what 20% of users wanted was also high on advertisers’ Christmas list. But the fact remains: Instagram has iterated seamlessly to match changing user demand, and that’s a win in our books.

Social Media + Customer Service: A Love Story

social media usage

There tends to be a lot of conversations of social media as an engagement tool, or social media as a sales tool, or using social media to drip-feed leads. What these all have in common is that the end objective is to drive sales.

But some companies are using social media for a different purpose – customer service. This post is going to look at why companies are using social media for customer service and a few companies who are doing a really good job. Let’s check it out.

Why companies love social media

First, let’s look at some numbers. Social Media Today produced a whitepaper on this topic with the extraordinarily dry name The Social Customer Service Index 2015. However, it’s actually an excellent whitepaper and well worth a read. But here are the highlights:

  • 40% of the people they surveyed said that their companies were seeing very beneficial results from engaging with people on social media
  • Over the past three years, companies have tripled the number of people involved in social support strategy
  • For some, social media is increasingly the first point of contact, before (more expensive) traditional customer service channels
  • Other important trends include one mentioned by Jay Baer who found that 42% of people expect a brand to respond on social media to a problem within 60 minutes.

All this paints a clear picture that (a) brands and companies are embracing social media for customer service, and are generally pretty happy with the results, and (b) a lot of people are happy to use social media get help when they have a problem.

So why might companies be excited about this?

What it really boils down to is that call centres are expensive and digital channels are not. That’s it, in a nutshell.

When you go on Twitter and find the answer to your problem (because it’s been asked 19 times) and decide not to call the helpline, that’s a giant savings for the company. What’s more, whenever someone asks a question on social media, other people can read those answers. So there’s a reduced cost first in stopping the original call being made, and second from other people reading those answers and thus stopping subsequent calls. So cost reduction is a major factor for companies to get on board with social media customer service.

There are other benefits as well though. Namely, if you offer support on social media, you create a much more holistic approach to customer care. The idea being that your company is wherever your customer is, and is ready and waiting whenever they are. Given the heightened demands on companies to provide excellent customer service, it’s hardly surprising that the relative low cost of social media CS is a favourite.

What does this actually look like?

Case study: Nokia

nokia

In 2014, Martin Hill-Wilson had an interview with a social media executive at Nokia named Chris Geddes. Mr. Geddes said that for years he struggled to get social media taken seriously – until they started working with customer service.

Mr. Geddes organized all of the customer service channels from most expensive (phone) to least expensive, (web chat, social media, etc.). He implemented strategies to shift people off the expensive customer service platforms and onto the cheaper ones. For example, he added a button to the bottom of each FAQ that said “Thanks, now I don’t have to call the call centre.” When people clicked, he knew how much he was saving. That way, it was clear what questions were doing well to solve problems and what ones were doing badly.

Those sorts of innovations helped him drive people towards engaging online and with social media, and save on call centre costs.

Case study: Intercontinental Hotels Group

intercontinental hotels group

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has built social media into their customer service process to such an extent that increasingly it’s the first point of contact for a customer with a problem. But they’ve approached it in a slightly different way than Nokia did.

They view any contact with the customer as an opportunity for brand building, sales, and marketing, and so have focused on integrating social media marketing and social media customer service into one.

To get a little buzzword-y on you, they’re trying to build an omnichannel brand by uniting customer experiences behind the sales and marketing team. To that end, according to Nick Ayres, their global director of social marketing, they feel “‘customer service’ [is] really is an extension of, or an opportunity for, another marketing and sales channel”.

One point that we felt IHG hit on the head was that a lot of customer service (especially in hospitality, maybe less so in tech and other industries) is simply ensuring that people feel that their concerns are heard. For example, if someone stays in a hotel and the street is exceptionally noisy and they can’t sleep, they might leave a negative review on TripAdvisor. Realistically, they know that the hotel can’t really control how noise travels – they mostly just want the hotel to know that their stay was less than ideal. Simply engaging is usually enough to get someone to feel much better about the company and the brand, and IHG have embraced this wholeheartedly.

Wrap up

Social media has been heralded as everything from a waste of money and time to the best thing since infomercials figured out that shooting the befores in black and white made the afters look way better.

But in that time, there’s always been a struggle to fit it into a broader company context – what does it do, who owns it, and how do you track it? Even now, with a mountain of companies offering tracking and analytics services, it’s still very hard to discern what value there is in a community. Customer service is helping to bring some much-needed metrics to the business of social media. And of course, the flipside is that customers are getting ever-better service and improved abilities to help themselves, which really helps everyone.

With customer service, social media may have finally found a home.

Should My Brand Have an Instagram Account?

instagram for brands

With the mountain of social media networks out there it’s hard which networks your brand should be active on and which ones are just a waste of valuable resources. Today we’re going to drill into Instagram – who should have an account, some different ways you can use the platform, and ultimately if it’s worth the time and money.

 

Who’s on Instagram?

The easiest way to look at who should have an Instagram account is to look in detail at who’s currently using Instagram (we’re jumping straight in and skipping the history of Instagram (the Histagram, if you will) but if you’re interested all your key info’s right here in this handy infographic).

There’s plenty of data and projection out there and they all say about the same thing. Here are the highlights:

  • Instagram is heavily weighted towards younger users. 53% of 18-29 year olds who are online use Instagram.
  • Instagram continues to grow quickly, and now 26% of adult internet users have it. Growth is quite heavily focused in the younger demographics.
  • Most Instagram users are either in university or have graduated university (55%).
  • Brand engagement is higher on Instagram than on any other platform.

There are lots of articles about Instagram stats and demographics out there but they all come back to these four points. Instagram is growing, Instagram users are young, Instagram has far higher engagement with brands, and Instagram users are generally educated and making an above average income (or they will be one day).

Now, most brands will see the high engagement rates (4.21% vs 0.1% according to SproutSocial) and jump on Instagram for that alone. But like a lot of measures of engagement that statistic needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Engagement on Instagram is usually going to be ‘hearting’ a photo. That’s it.

It’s a very low level of engagement compared to retweeting something and adding your own content, or repinning an image on Pinterest and adding a fresh caption.

So while the engagement ranks very high for brands, it’s perhaps a little misleading to say that it’s actually better than other social networks.

 

So, who should be on Instagram?

For starters, if your demographic aligns nicely with the demographic of Instagram, we’d recommend you get your brand an account. It’s a powerful tool to reach out to your audience. Plus, it can be a fantastic place to showcase your product.

For example, a company with a young demographic and a visual product like Forever21 should definitely be on Instagram (in fact they are @forever21).

forever 21 instagram

However, something that caters to an older crowd and isn’t very visual, for example a law firm specializing in drafting wills, should probably not invest the time.

Other brands that should think about Instagram and those that produce things that are going to be desired eventually. For example, car companies have embraced Instagram like almost no other industry. Not because young adults are a key market, but because they want to imprint their brand early to reap recognition later on.

tesla motors instagram

The same goes for luxury brands like Michael Kors. They’re using Instagram not to push products now but to build brand recognition in who they know will be buying their products later in life. Instagram is just another avenue for brand building.

michael kors instagram

Of course, there are a lot of arguments that all brands should embrace Instagram. For starters, branded Instagram accounts tend to be much better received than a branded Facebook post.

For example, National Geographic runs an Instagram account called @Natgeo. While they do promote their own products, it’s hard not to like the truly stunning nature photography they also post.

Another reason why all brands might want to think about is the very core of Instagram – pictures. Pictures (and video) are shown again and again to be the most effective way to reach your audience. Whether you’re a teen clothing store or a luxury hotel, pictures are the best way to tell your story. So why shy away from a platform entirely designed for images?

 

Ways to engage: private accounts vs sponsored content

Another factor to consider is not only if you want to use Instagram, but how. 

In 2013, Instgram monetized and allowed brands to have sponsored ads – basically posts that could be made to appear in people’s Instagram’s feeds. Like most ad platforms, there’s a large and intricate backend allowing you to track and place your ads for maximum impact. And with hashtags, you can get very precise in who you target. For example, if you were in cafe in Toronto, you could use #cafe #toronto #coffee to target people who like cafes, coffee, and are presumably in Toronto. Simple.

There are also a host of other tools that sponsoring posts gets you to improve your ads, like special formats and carousel ads.

However, you do pay a premium for a good spot in your audience’s news feeds.

The other option is to just build an Instagram naturally through a profile. Your traffic will likely be better since it’s all organic versus promoted, but it’s a slow process to gain traction, and can be enormously time consuming to both build and maintain. However, it can pay solid dividends, especially if your marketing budget is tight.

 

Conclusion

So who should be on Instagram? As usual, it depends. Here’s who we think can gain the most:

  • Brands that have young demographics (18-24 or teens)
  • Aspirational and luxury brands, working towards brand recognition later on (e.g. cars and luxury items)
  • Brands who have highly visual products or services, like National Geographic

Those are the people who should definitely be putting both time and resources into managing a great Instagram campaign. However, even if you don’t quite fit, the benefits of Instagram as a platform mean that almost everyone can find their niche. And with continued growth that shows no signs of slowing, it might be worthwhile getting started right now.

Happy ‘gramming!

Free Tools To Evaluate Your Competitors’ Websites

Metrics lack all value if you don’t have a baseline. Comparing your own website over time is great, but it can only get you so far. Inevitably, you want to know if the numbers your site is putting up are good or bad.

But, sadly, most companies don’t exactly publically publish their Google Analytics for you to peruse at your leisure.

Here are five tools you can use to see what’s going on with your competitors.

 

1. Topsy Social Analytics

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 4.39.14 PM

Topsy is a social analytics tools that lets you compare social media profiles of various companies.

It’s basically a search engine, but for social media and in real time. You can structure your searches by time, look only for tweets, photos, videos, links, or influencers, or just search for everything.

What’s even better is that, because it’s a search engine, it’s got an advanced search function. With the same basic format as Twitter advanced search, you can look up how many links are going to various domains, and what those links are. Over time, you get a much clearer picture not only of how much sharing is going on, but what’s being shared.

You can also compare your own to your competitors’ Twitter accounts in beautiful line graphs, giving you a clear idea of volume of social traffic as well.

 

2. Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a robust website crawler that is designed to evaluate your site for SEO problems like duplicate pages, keyword mishaps, meta descriptions, etc. It’s a very robust tool.

And you can evaluate any site you want! Just drop the URL in and you’re all set.

There are lots of ways you can use this mountain of data to get a little cozier with your competitors, but here are just two to get you going:

  • Find their most valuable webpages. Companies will link internal pages to their most valuable content. By looking at which pages have the most internal inlinks (links from other pages within a site to a specific page, so linking from one blog post to another) you can see what page they’re trying to drive traffic to.
  • Find out what keywords your competitors are going for. By looking at the meta keyword data, you can find out what they’re aiming to rank for.

 

3. Buzzsumo

buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is a great tool to see what competing content is getting traction across social shares. Just enter their URL and you can see their top content ranked by total social shares.

Like Topsy, it’s basically a search engine, which means advanced search capabilities. That way, you can really drill into whatever data you need. For example, want to know what blog posts for a particular product did well and which ones didn’t? You can look that up.

Buzzsumo also has a paid service that gives you some extra add-ons, most importantly backlink analysis of whoever you’re searching. This is invaluable information when you’re developing your own backlink strategy, and gives you a much more comprehensive picture of the value of a competitor’s webpage.

 

4. Alexa

alexa

Alexa is probably the best known tool for this sort of work. And with good reason – it’s one of the most comprehensive free tools out there for website evaluation. Aside from their global ranking function, they also offer (for free!):

  • Bounce rate, daily page views per visitor, and daily time on site
  • Percentage of visitors coming from search engines
  • The top five keywords
  • What sites are visited right before they hit whatever site you’ve looked up
  • Total number of sites that link in (and what the top five actually are)

All in all, there’s a pile of information that you can glean from Alexa for nothing. Of course, you can get even more for the $10/month they charge for a subscription.

 

5. Compete

compete

Of all these tools, Compete is definitely the prettiest. Sleek and simple to use, it’s a great UI. And it only gets better. Compete lets you look at unique visitors, traffic sources, and related sites.

But their best feature is that you can compare websites to each other. This gives you a clear snapshot of where you sit compared to your biggest competitors.

mobile app development

 

Summary

Part of having a successful website is knowing if your website is successful. And you’ll never know unless you have at least a partial idea of how your competition is doing.

Research on what’s going on with other people’s web traffic is the best way to know if you’re on track or not.

And who knows – maybe your numbers will blow the competition out of the water.

Social Media Saturation (or why Snapchat is so successful)

social

People have been arguing that social media has reached saturation since at least 2007. But recently, the argument has a little more oomph to it.

We looked into the numbers to see if the story holds water, and what this might mean for the social media world.

 

What the numbers say

So what’s the health status of our existing popular social media networks? Where are users (and thus money) flowing to? We looked at the growth of three critical social media companies – Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

From Q1 2014 to Q1 2015, Facebook’s active users grew by 11.5%. Twitter grew a little more in the same period – 15.5%.

Snapchat, on the other hand, doesn’t release active user stats, but we can still glean enough information to get a pretty good picture. In August, 2014 the company reported 100 million active users, and TechCrunch reported in December the same year 200 million. That’s 50% growth in six months. 

There’s clearly still growth in the social media sector. The reason we’re labouring this point is that while we can’t know for sure, it seems clear that Snapchat is growing at breakneck speed, even though they have fewer users than networks like Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter, while others are growing at far more moderate rates.

 

So is social media saturated?

We’d argue no, it’s not. If it was, there wouldn’t be room for a new company like Snapchat to experience the numbers that they are. And sure, they’ve so far only captured a small percentage of total social media users in the US (18% in 2014). But their projected growth based on past performance tells us that people are still keen to share and connect with an online community, which is the crux of social media.

However.

While the market isn’t saturated, it’s definitely changing. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel argued that social media used to be about accumulation, to post things that then collectively reflect your identity and personality online. Think about a MySpace page or a Facebook photo album.

However, social media has changed, and now focuses on sharing your thoughts and emotions in real time, leading to products like Twitter, and now Snapchat. While the accumulation model still has a place (Tumblr, for example), the instant sharing model has proven enormously successful, particularly among younger demographics.

We’d argue that social media isn’t saturated, just changing. Maybe the traditional style of accumulation will eventually fade. Maybe that segment of the larger pie has reached breaking point, and will begin to lose to the instant sharing themes driving Snapchat forward at 16,666,666 new active users a month.

 

How this affects business

With this shift in mind, businesses need to be on top of their social media strategy, both companies developing the tools of social media like Hootsuite and SproutSocial, as well as those who are hoping to connect with new customers.

Businesses who are hoping to use social media need to focus less on total content and micro-content creation and more on engaging on an individual level at just the right time. For a long time now, content strategy has been at least a little bit of a throw-everything-at-it-and-see-what sticks situation.

But that needs to change. The focus now needs to be much more on what your customers are talking about right now rather than what you want to say.

mobile app development

 

Summary

Social media isn’t saturated – it’s growing. But it’s growing in a new direction. The shift from accumulation to instant sharing has driven mobile-based, instant share networks to the forefront, while accumulation platforms have for the most part slowed their growth.

For businesses to respond to this shift, they need to focus on producing content and engaging on social media in a relevant and timely way, and less on massive content creation for the sake of it.

Get Ahead Of The Curve: How Businesses Are Using Snapchat and Tinder

With the new year, there’s a new raft of social media networks to become a part of. For brands, this means even more advertising and marketing opportunities, and more effort for where to put their precious digital marketing dollars.

Here we look at two of the biggest emerging networks that are really just getting their feet wet with paid advertising – Snapchat and Tinder. We found that:

  • Both are successful because they’re picture-based, have deep penetration with Millennials, and have superb engagement statistics
  • Both are looking at advertising for the first time, with Snapchat a little further along
  • Creating a company Snapchat profile is a great way to get started, but Tinder isn’t quite there yet

Here’s the networks in a little more detail.

 

Snapchat

snapchat

Snapchat is the golden child of social media marketing. It has spectacular growth rates, in June 2014 it was the third most popular network for millennials, it has superb open rate, and perhaps most importantly, 32% of teenagers in the US use it.

It’s essentially a photo messaging app, except that the messages disappear forever after 10 seconds. Its unique offering and strong position with great demographics make it a powerful network to be a part of.

Companies can pay to advertise with Snapchat, running 20 second videos that users can choose to click on.

However, with the launch of Snapchat Discover, where media organizations like VICE and Yahoo can build stories through snaps, advertisers are now able to buy ad spots on Snapchat through those media companies, which may result in something closer to a native advertising opportunity in the near future.

snapchat discover

 

Who should be on it

Snapchat’s penetration into a super young and valuable demographic make it a great option for companies targeting Millennials. Because it’s visual-based, it lends itself more to companies that are image and video-heavy. For example, Red Bull might be a prime candidate for Snapchat advertisings because:

  • It only cares about that demographic
  • Its entire brand is based around cool images and videos of really awesome stuff

But even if you’re not ready for a big ad spend, there may be some opportunity to simply snap your customers from a company profile, folding its maintenance and execution into social media marketing’s workflow. Upload images to Instagram, update your Snapchat story. Easy, peasy. Paid ads will get a lot more exposure, but this might be a good way just to get your feet wet.

 

Tinder

tinder

Tinder straddles the line between social media network and dating/hookup app. It’s not a line often straddled, but there you go. The idea behind Tinder is simple. First, you sign in via Facebook authentication. Then, it takes your location and shows you other Tinder users close by. You see their picture and swipe left for no, right for yes. If they swipe right when they see your picture, then you both have the option for private chat.

With clever (and enormously successful) marketing, Tinder has managed to fall into the mainstream, rather than cast to the side like Chatroulette (and let’s be honest, it could have gone either way).

 

Brands and Tinder

tinder gilette

Brands have so far struggled to use Tinder. There are some examples – Tinder itself used its network to match people in NYC with cute dogs to adopt. Gilette has also worked with Tinder, getting them to conduct a giant survey of swipe preferences of women re: facial hair.

However, the resulting campaign doesn’t actually user Tinder to promote itself, opting for YouTube instead.

Dominos just created a profile for themselves and presumably swiped yes to everyone, but it’s not clear if this was actually a good idea.

So, why are brands so interested in Tinder?

Because Tinder users are young, generally educated (very high penetration on university campuses), and because (like Snapchat) they pay attention to Tinder. People look at Tinder on average 11 times a day for a total of 90 minutes. If brands can harness that in a positive way it could be a huge marketing win.

 

How to do it

Tinder is still working through their advertising options. Since last year there have been rumours about a native advertising option, but it’s still not clear how that’s going to unfold.

One potential model might be a Spotify-esque paid option, with an ad-free premium service on offer. Since they already have a subscription service set up, adding a no-ads feature would be virtually effortless.

For brands and companies right now though, Tinder is best approached with at least some caution. The Gap had a plan to use a profile to advertise, but it was cut because it violated Tinder’s T&Cs. For now, it might be just a waiting game before a true engagement with the platform (no matter how much you want 11 checks a day).

mobile app development

 

Conclusion

Snapchat and Tinder are two networks that are poised to be incredibly successful tools for brands to get their messages out to a very specific audience. The immediacy created by each network provides really whole new way to engage with customers, and opens to door more to more app-driven marketing techniques.

While there are hurdles to overcome, especially with Tinder, establishing a presence on these sites is a good way for companies to get ahead of the curve, and present themselves as consumer-centric organizations who know their customer, inside and out.