How to Use Instagram Story Highlights for Business

Do you want more value from your Instagram stories? Interested in repurposing stories content on your Instagram profile? Instagram’s Highlights feature lets you combine multiple Instagram stories into long-term content your audience can discover at their convenience. In this article, you’ll discover how to create Instagram stories highlight albums for your business. #1: Create an

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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How to Get New Clients at Every Stage of Your Business

Posted by dohertyjf

I remember when I first went out on my own to build my business. Because I planned to bootstrap the product into existence, I needed to pick up some consulting work to cover my own bills before I felt comfortable taking time to build my product.

I had a sizable group of peers that I contacted to let them know that I was no longer with my last company and was looking to bring on a few new clients. Within a week, I had to stop taking introductions because I was so busy! If you’re a brand-new freelance consultant, this post has some goodies for you.

I have other friends who are purposefully freelance consultants with no current plans to scale beyond it. In fact, they’ve resisted these opportunities because they enjoy what they’re doing so much, and are able to charge a premium for it. This post will help you out.

Some of my friends are at a different stage. They’ve worked for themselves for 3–4 years or longer now and are growing an agency beyond themselves and their own skillset. Along the way, of course, they’re figuring out the challenges of growing headcount and types/sizes of clients while they themselves learn to level up as a CEO, as a manager, and as a sales executive, since agency founders are often the salespeople for the first few years of their company’s existence. The client acquisition strategies change. This post is also for you.

And finally, agencies often decide that they are ready to expand beyond their main core offering and offer tangential services that they are either being asked for actively or where they perceive an opportunity exists. Since they already have a functional and maybe even (wildly) profitable services business, how can they justify taking time away from that to build out a new service offering? The mindset and strategies change once again. We’ll get into some of those.

Building a service-based business is hard

Over the last two years, I’ve worked with over 150 agencies and have seen over 800 businesses (it’s probably closer to 1,000 at this point) looking to hire an agency or consultant. I’ve also worked in-house, as a solo consultant, and for a quickly growing boutique digital agency.

After the experiences I’ve had seeing everyone — from new scared-out-of-their-wits solo consultants all the way to long-established agencies looking to grow their practice — I decided to take a step back and reflect on the strategies I’ve seen both work and not work for consulting entities at different stages of growth.

That’s what we’ll cover today. If you’re a new consultant, an agency looking to level up the size of your accounts, or an agency looking to move into new service offerings, you’ll find something in this post for you.

Along the way, you’ll hear from consultants and agency owners at different stages of their business and what they did to get to where they are currently. After all, war stories are way more fun than “here are x steps you can follow to also be amazing” anecdotes.

New consultants

Tell me if you’ve seen this happen before: a friend is tired of their job, gets laid off, or otherwise finds themselves unemployed. They decide that they’re going to give freelance consulting a go.

Three months later, they’ve taken a new job at a new agency and are repeating the cycle they went through before.

Screenshot 2017-06-28 10.38.26.png

Sound familiar? If you’re in the digital marketing consulting world, you likely know at least a few, if not closer to a dozen people where this has held true.

I’m not going to say that everyone goes back to traditional employment because they’re having a difficult time getting new clients, but this is far and away the largest reason I see. They get a few months in, they have too few clients paying them too little, and so they panic and go take a job doing what is comfortable. They’ll repeat the cycle in a few years again.

I get it. The beginning of working for yourself can be terrifying. I’ve been there. Saw a therapist, got the t-shirt, am I right?

What if I told you that you could avoid this if you really want to? That you could use some proven techniques to get new clients that pay you what you’re worth?

Overcoming common “new consultant” fears with strategic thinking

You’ll hear entrepreneurs who have built and sold their companies (sometimes multiple times) tell you to take a “burn the ships” approach, where you set off and don’t give yourself a time limit or an out if you can’t make it work.

The problem with this is that it’s a fallacy brought about by survivorship bias — defined as “the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility.” Often these entrepreneurs look back and talk about how they could have done it, or how they did it for their second or third business once they’d already made quite a bit of money.

Quite simply, if you want to set yourself up for success, you should already have replaced (or have a clear path to replacing) your income from your day job before you even go out on your own.

You can do this by picking up freelance work on the side from your day job. Get one or two clients that pay you every month and learn how to manage those. Learn what it takes to retain these clients and even grow the accounts.

Next, figure out the minimum amount of money you need to make every month while only working the number of hours you want to work before you take the leap. If you have two clients, you can probably get two more pretty easily. If you spend 10 hours a week on these two clients and only want to bill 30 hours per week (which is actually quite a lot), then you know you can bring on four more clients at the same level (and fewer clients if they pay you more) and have the lifestyle and income you want.

It’s simple math.

The “new consultant” sales mindset

Clients come to solo consultants instead of agencies for a very specific reason. They want direct access to your specific brain and to be able to speak with the person actually doing the work. In fact, I’ve seen many companies come through Credo who need multiple services (not just strategy) across organic and paid, but they don’t want an account manager setup like they’ve had before with an agency.

This, plus your experience, is your competitive moat. During the initial discovery call with every potential client, don’t forget that you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. You need to learn:

  • What they are specifically looking to accomplish through retaining someone’s services;
  • What their expectations are for how quickly they will see this;
  • If they have resources to get done what you recommend, or if you have time to implement what they need;
  • Whether they’re willing to pay you what you are worth.

Assuming all of these check out, then in my opinion, you’re good to move forward with the proposal process.

A quick word on pricing

If you’ve never worked for an agency before, you should ask agency friends or other freelance friends what they charge per hour, then use that as a benchmark. If you want to raise your rates, then do it slowly with new clients until you hit a ceiling. Now you know your price ceiling for the current services (whether strategy, implementation, or both) you offer.

New client acquisition channels

Now that we have the common fears identified and you’re armed with a better sales mindset, let’s explore the strategies you should leverage first to build your consulting practice to a base where it sustains your lifestyle and you’re able to remove the stress of starting from the equation and eventually think about growth.

The strategies I always counsel brand new solo consultants to use are:

  • Referrals – Ask your circle of professional peers if they know anyone looking for what you have to offer;
  • Referrals – Ask your friends and family if they know anyone that might need what you’re offering;
  • Agency white label – Approach agencies in your area to see if they need help on a contract basis with their clients;
  • Teaching – This is a longer-term play, but a great way to get clients in the long run is to teach others how to do what you do. I’ve seen it hold true that if you teach people how to do what you do, they’ll want to hire you to do it for them.

These are the easiest and most direct ways to get introductions to potential clients who are highly likely to close into clients.

Long-term this does not scale, but it can get you to the point of covering your expenses, allowing you to breathe a little bit and invest for the future. And if you’re smart about it and haven’t signed yourself up for 60+ hours per week of billed work, you can have a great life balance.

To give some real-world examples, I reached out to two of my friends who became solo consultants in 2013/2014.

First is Tom Critchlow, who went solo in late 2014 after two years at Google New York. When asked how he got his first consulting clients, Tom said that his first leads came from direct referrals from a friend:

“Since that first lead I’ve gotten about 80% of my clients through referrals from my direct network,” he shared. “I’d definitely emphasize the importance of a strong network and ensuring that you’re communicating with your network often to keep them up-to-date with what work you’re doing.”

Next I chatted with Michael King, who has since built his agency iPullRank into an industry powerhouse, and asked him how he got his first clients when he left the NYC agencies he worked for. To get his first, he shared that thought leadership played a huge role:

“My first two clients came through two different methods of thought leadership. One came via a post I’d written for Moz about content strategy, and the other came from a panel I spoke on. Overnight, I went from 0 to 10.5K MRR.”

Solo consultants happy staying solo

If this is you, then congratulations. In my mind, you’re finding nirvana in a lot of ways.

Solo consultants with more years of direct consulting experience are able to charge good hourly rates and monthly minimums from clients, according to my data.

solo consultant pricing.png

Once a consultant has survived the initial push to get new clients, the journey is far from over. In fact, many solo consultants have come up against this and gone through droughts where they were between projects.

This brings up the question: How can solo consultants, who can only realistically bring on a limited number of clients before they become too numerous, keep a strong potential client pipeline?

Define your niche and build processes

The answer is usually to tightly define your niche and then, depending on your niche, to build processes to deliver high quality work.

High-touch strategic consulting does not scale. It also does not have to scale if you charge a high hourly rate ($300/hr for strategic consulting that drives large revenue increases is not crazy, and may even be too low), in which case you can work with just a few clients and still create a great income for yourself.

When you’ve defined your niche, whether affiliate marketing driven by content or local SEO for realtors, then you put together the strategy to reach them.

This should go without saying, but if you’re asking how to define your niche, then you aren’t ready to be a highly paid solo consultant yet. Hone your craft and discover who you love to do work for, then go serve those customers on your own.

Once your niche is defined, you can focus on that group.

Targeting your ideal audience

As mentioned above, the toughest part of being and staying a solo consultant is managing your workload and saying “no” or “not yet” to potential clients, while at the same time protecting your downside should a client decide to stop your services for any reason, whether your fault or because of internal actions.

The best solo consultants that I know, who also have a strong pipeline of potential clients, have built this through:

  1. Content. They produce content related to their target market’s problems and thus become a thought leader in that niche. This will often lead to recurring columns in industry publications.
  2. A strong referral network. They know the who’s who of their niche and are their go-to when someone needs the consultant’s specific skillset.
  3. Speaking. Getting a one-off or set of speaking engagements in front of your target audience often directly drives potential clients and cements you as an expert in their minds.

The goal is to build your own name as an expert so that you consistently have potential customers approaching you to see if you can work with them, while also knowing your limits and when you may next have available time.

The goal isn’t to magically be able to get new inquiries when you need them (though this may happen if you’ve built this system), but to be able to go back to a group of people who have already inquired about your services and tell them that you have some availability. A pro move is also to ask if they know anyone who may need your services, as well.

Creating processes

Not every consultant desires working with large clients who each pay the equivalent of a full-time salary. Some consultants prefer working with smaller clients, mostly small or local businesses, because of the unique challenges that these clients face.

In this case, the challenge is to work out how you scale quantity without sacrificing quality or client retention. There are many ways to do this:

  • Find an agency or group of consultants you trust that you can outsource certain parts of the project to;
  • Leverage technologies like HubSpot, Moz, or others that allow you to automate a lot of the work;
  • Use tools like HubSpot, Calendly, UberConference, or others to help scale scheduling and admin parts of the business;
  • Use virtual assistants, bookkeeping services like Bench, and payroll services like Gusto to alleviate a lot of the business operations so you have more time to work for clients.

As Francois Marcil of Ehook.co shared:

“When you have over 10 clients, the time spent attending meetings is the biggest obstacle to serving all your clients well. For this reason, I reserve 2 days of the week for meetings and 3 days for work. The rule is strict, and I inform my clients from the start.”

When a solo consultant sets up these processes, it not only makes their life a lot easier and their clients happier (which leads to better retention, which leads to a healthier business), but it also sets them up for success should they decide later that they want to start an agency. In this case, their processes of both acquiring and managing new clients will let them generate the cash flow needed to make the leap to employing someone full time.

Agencies leveling up

Some business owners don’t feel the need to constantly push and grow their business. They’re bootstrapped, their business affords them and their employees a great lifestyle, and they have no desire to take on more responsibility with their business. If this is you, then I’m a bit envious and encourage you to enjoy it.

If you’re anything like me, though, you’re never happy with maintaining. You always want to be growing, to be learning, to push yourself and your business to see what it’s capable of. If you’re on this course, then keep reading.

Your strategies have to change a bit when you go from being a solo consultant to growing your agency. A lot of your processes are going to break or need tweaking as you grow the number of people working on accounts. Your challenge now becomes managing the growth of your headcount while maintaining quality and bringing in great new clients at the same time.

This is likely way too much for one person to handle, so at some point you’ll be forced to decide what you are great at (and love doing) that is also instrumental to the business’s success. Then hire out for the rest.

Let’s focus on the sales part, of course.

At the beginning of your journey as a brand-new consultant, you were likely heavily dependent on one-off referrals from family and friends. But referrals don’t really scale.

As you’re looking to grow your business quickly, your channels have likely shifted to:

  • Speaking. If you have a dynamic founder who is a keynote-level (or heading in that direction) speaker, this can be great lead generation;
  • Strategic partnerships with investors or other agencies;
  • Your own search traffic and thought leadership on your own website;
  • Your own advertising of your services online.

You’re facing the unique challenge of increasing the quantity of potential clients contacting you while not sacrificing quality. While difficult, this is absolutely possible. You can grow your revenue by:

  1. Targeting new clients who have similar traits to your existing ideal clients;
  2. Growing accounts by upselling your existing clients to other services you offer that they need;
  3. Defining a specific niche or type of company where you get outsized returns, and then target them specifically through content, speaking, education, or both.

Sales changes as you grow. You’re looking for long-term sustainable clients as it is four to ten times cheaper to retain and grow your current clients than to get new clients (source). If you’re investing in landing new clients, you should not also have to worry about retaining your current clients. If you are, then you are simply refilling a leaky bucket and you will not grow.

Michael King of iPullRank is no stranger to the challenges that agency founders face as they grow, but he’s successfully transitioned from solo consultant to now managing seven figures in agency income. So what does he do differently?

“The difference is really that it’s far more dire,” he shared. “The maintenance of payroll becomes the battery in your back to have to just figure it out. Whereas when you’re by yourself and you have a low month or you lose a client, it’s not that big of a deal.”

Johnathan Dane of KlientBoost credits lessons he’s learned about sales along the way in growing KlientBoost from himself to $4M in revenue in just a few years:

“We’ve been very fortunate to have 99% of our sales come from our content, and when that happens, our sales cycle is drastically reduced because the potential client already likes us and has found value from what we’ve given them,” he said. “So even 2.5 years in, I still handle the inbound sales — which I know isn’t scalable — but you gotta allow yourself to still have some fun.”

I should also note that at this point, you should have someone dedicated to sales and onboarding new clients full-time. This can be filled by the founder if the founder is stellar at sales, but most often I see this role being given to a dedicated sales executive who hopefully also has marketing experience, or has proven their aptitude for learning and applying it so they sell the right work.

Agencies moving into new service offerings

At some point, you may max out your growth in your current niche and with your current offerings. At the same time, you want to continue growing but don’t have the option of increasing client budgets. Or, maybe a new platform emerges (think: Snapchat) that has the opportunity to be big and you want to be an early mover in helping your clients get exposure.

But moving into new niches is hard when you’ve established yourself in another service offering and that’s how you’re known. Every agency has a primary service offering, so how do you move into new niches?

There are two main ways:

  1. Think of this new service offering as a startup in and of itself. It is responsible for its own profit and loss (P&L), as well as landing its own new clients;
  2. Upsell your current clients into this new offering as well.

This is hard. Brandon Doyle of Wallaroo Media, who went from being a generic SEO agency to leading the way in travel marketing and Snapchat from their offices in Provo, Utah, knows this firsthand:

“With a background in SEO, we strongly believed in its ability as a channel,” he shared. “We utilized SEO and evergreen content to carve out a name for ourselves both in the travel space, and more recently as a leader in Snapchat-related content, strategies, and news. The latter paid off, as we were just recently named an official Snapchat Agency Partner!”

Will Critchlow, CEO of digital marketing agency Distilled (full disclosure: I used to work for Distilled), also knows a thing or two about moving into an adjacent vertical. The agency recently become recognized for not only SEO, but creative content and outreach services, too:

“All our moves have come from the passion of the team,” shared Will. “Team members saw an opportunity, started doing part of the solution, and pitched the rest.”

Finally, your marketing will change as you seek traction in this new vertical. The topics you write about, the people you reference, the outreach you do, and the places you choose to interact will necessarily change.

This is specifically why I recommend tasking someone specifically with building out this new area. At Wallaroo, this was Brandon. At Distilled, this was Mark Johnstone who was previously an SEO consultant who had an interest in big creative content and Tom Anthony with an interest in technical A/B testing for SEO.

Conclusion

Consistently generating new potential projects at every cycle of your business’s growth is the best skill you can learn as a services business owner.

Leave a comment about the channels you’ve found to be the most effective!

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9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze

9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze

The Facebook algorithm is changing again, and it’s bad news for brands who want to show up in the news feed.

In a recent, inscrutable, Kremlin-esque press release, Mark Zuckerberg and team announced that they are changing the Facebook algorithm and will henceforth . . .

“. . . prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to—whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

In this release, they also acknowledge that organic reach among business pages will dwindle, and that “engagement bait” posts such as “click like if you want this puppy to live” will be algorithmically punished.

Reactions to this move were immediate among the social media cognoscenti, and ranged from full-blown “The sky is falling” mode to “So what?

Now that everyone has engaged in their newsjacking (the Social Media Examiner BREAKING NEWS video got 273,000 views, and spawned a ton of traditional media opportunities for Mike Stelzner—well played!), let me tell you what all of this really means.

The Facebook Algorithm Separates the Wheat and the Chaff

First, this move should come as NO SURPRISE. Many people (including me) have been predicting this for years.

Remember this: Facebook is a public company. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for their shareholders. They do not have a responsibility to maximize your profits. Of course, if they can further entice you to buy more ads my minimizing free exposure, they will do so eventually.

Facebook’s responsibility is maximizing profits for shareholders, not maximizing YOUR profits.
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Further, it is also true that many company posts do not succeed on Facebook today. This is not because Facebook is evil and is trying to convince you to buy ads (although that’s somewhat accurate), but more so because a lot of business content on Facebook SUCKS. It’s a Yellow Pages ad masquerading as an organic social post. It DESERVES to fail. Facebook is just hammering the last nail in the coffin.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you saw something on Facebook and said, “Wow! That’s great content from a business. I cannot believe it doesn’t have more engagement?” Rarely, if ever. The truth is that Facebook’s algorithm already does a pretty good job of separating the wheat from the chaff, at least among business content. Whether they can keep #FakeNews at bay is a different issue for a different post.

The Facebook Algorithm Change Doesn’t Mean Abandon Ship

Will this move make it harder and more expensive for businesses to succeed on Facebook? Probably. But it’s not as if you can just log off the platform, throw up your hands, and go home. There are two billion people using it. Don’t give up. You just need to get better, and get smarter.

Thus, here are the 9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze. None of these are “buy more ads.” Follow them, and you’ll very much still be able to succeed on Facebook, even as a business page.

1. Post Content That Solicits Thoughtful Responses

The key phrase in the press release is that Facebook is prioritizing posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions among people.” Given that this all has to be sorted out in a nanosecond, Facebook has to look for behavior that indicates “conversations and meaningful interactions.” What might that be? It’s not “likes” or “shares” or even “comments” per the release. While they don’t overtly describe the desired behavior, my bet is that they are looking for comments of a certain length, and replies to comments.

This is a “conversation” in social media, a threaded back and forth rather a passive clicking of a like button.

So, when you add content to Facebook, try to post about topics that have more than one opinion. Complex, non-obvious topics will work better than topics that everyone agrees upon.

2. Get Serious About User-Generated Content (UGC)

Right in the release, Facebook admits that posts from real people will take priority over posts from brands. This has been the case for a while but will become even more acute. The more you can encourage your actual customers to post on their personal page (and mention your business), the more likely you are to reach a decent audience.

This is the Facebook version of prioritizing consumer-driven word of mouth.

3. Get Serious About Employee-Generated Content (EGC)

Similarly, most of your team members have a personal Facebook account. They will likely have a better chance at Facebook engagement than will your company account.

This will be a boon for employee advocacy software programs (I am an investor in a great one, Trap.It) as companies try to encourage their team to carry the messaging water on behalf of the organization.

4. Post How-To and Youtility Content

Facebook says they will de-prioritize viral videos and other content that is passively consumed on the platform. However, they will give extra credit via the Facebook algorithm to content that attracts conversation. Think about how you can post how-to videos, video FAQs, and other interactions that encourage viewers to ask questions.

Using Facebook for customer service and customer support and showing off interesting and innovative product use cases, etc. could be very successful in this new algorithm environment.

5. Use Live Video

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Facebook is going to push recorded video down the priority list a little, in favor of live video. This is because live video is often more urgent and important, but mostly because it routinely generates more conversation. In the press release, Facebook says live video gets SIX TIMES more interactions than regular videos.

If you’re using video on Facebook, it’s time to ask yourself why that video isn’t live. Do you lose some production polish? Possibly. But if the Facebook algorithm is going to push live video up, and recorded video down, it’s absolutely worth trying to make it work live.

6. Create Facebook Shows

Similarly, it’s time to stop random acts of content (one of my 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018). This is particularly true on Facebook. If our overlords at FB want conversation, the best way to achieve that is for the people likely to create that conversation to actually KNOW WHEN THE CONTENT IS COMING.

Think of your Facebook strategy like a TV network thinks about their schedule. Every Wednesday, they have the same shows. The shows do not change. Viewers know when to tune in, or at least set their DVRs. You need to do the same. Create one to three Facebook shows and replicate them every week at the same time.

7. Engage Your Community with Facebook Groups

Already, some of the most rewarding elements of Facebook are contained in Groups. Group-created content performs better in the news feed and is often delivered to members via email, depending upon how they have their notifications configured.

If you don’t have a Facebook Group for your best customers, prospective customers, employees, fans, or some other cohort, 2018 is the year to experiment with it. For business, Groups work in ways that the news feed simply does not.

8. Use Messenger Bots to Deliver Choice Content

Messenger and WhatsApp are still Facebook’s play to take over the person-to-person messaging space. Already, I bet you’re getting way more notes from your friends on Messenger than you were six months ago. Why? Because it breaks through the clutter of the inbox, and it’s easy to add multimedia.

Adoption isn’t universal yet, but it’s moving quickly. If you can develop a solid Facebook Messenger bot that can deliver solid content to your audience, the response rate is MUCH HIGHER than for email, and INFINITY HIGHER than for the news feed. You want people to see your stuff? Get them to subscribe to your bot.

Want to see how it works? Click here to subscribe to my bot, and I’ll send you cool stuff now and then.

9. Use the Mom Test

Remember that when you publish content on Facebook that does NOT succeed, it impacts the likelihood that the next piece of content will succeed. This means that the rich get richer, and the boring get forgotten. When in doubt, do NOT PRESS PUBLISH unless you’re fairly certain the content will indeed create conversation.

I use “The Mom Test” to help with this decision. I ask, “Would my Mom, who loves me unconditionally, engage with this content?” If the answer is “yes,” then at least you’re on the right track. If the answer is anything else, think very long and very hard before posting, because if your Mom doesn’t love your post, I’m almost positive that Zuckerberg and Co. won’t love it either.

Facebook not giving you the ability to send mediocre content to your customers for free isn’t the end of the world. In fact, they are probably saving businesses from their own worst instincts, in some cases. But all is not lost. You can still succeed on Facebook WITHOUT SPENDING A TON OF MONEY if you follow these nine antidotes.

If my team and I can help you think through these necessary shifts, let us know. Convince & Convert works with many of the world’s most interesting brands. What do we do? We’re personal trainers for digital marketing and word of mouth. If you want to shape up, holler

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A Guide to 11 Types of eCommerce Product Videos

A Guide to 11 Types of eCommerce Product Videos

I remember a conversation I had with Amazon in 2010 for a client and how important Amazon thought video was, even back then for product sales. Fast forward to today and product video is an even more important part of your conversation optimization strategy for every eCommerce site and with social media.

As retailers, we need to use every tool at our disposal to help people make purchasing decisions. A lot of sales are lost due to apathy on both sides of the cash register. You need people to care about your product and you need to care about your product and the marketing of your product.

The main problem with buying a product online is that you can’t touch the product. A video is a way your bridge this gap.

The best videos, product or not, have people in them. We, as humans, connect with other people.

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How to Use Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads for Optimized Facebook Ads

Do you split test your Facebook ads? Looking for a more effective way to test Facebook ad variations? The Facebook Dynamic Creative ad feature automatically tests multiple variations of a single ad. In this article, you’ll discover how to use Facebook’s Dynamic Creative feature to reveal the optimal ad for your audience. What Is Facebook’s

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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Facebook Organic Reach Update for Pages and Instagram Live Sharing

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Social Media Marketing Talk Show, a news show for marketers who want to stay on the leading edge of social media. On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we explore Facebook organic reach update for pages, Instagram Live sharing in Direct Messages, and Facebook shutting down their

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Recommended Marketing Podcasts: Week of January 8

Recommended Marketing Podcasts Week of January 8

Podcasts are a great way to educate yourself. Whether you’re on the train, in the car, at your desk, or anywhere in between, this medium is an incredible vehicle for supplementing your industry knowledge. Every week, I’ll be sharing with you some of the best marketing podcasts around, spanning the whole marketing landscape.

Whether you’re new to podcasts or you’re a seasoned listener, I know you’ll find value in each weekly round-up. Let’s get listening, shall we?

Everyone Hates MarketersEveryone Hates Marketers #11: Why Trust-Based Marketing Is Eating Branding for Breakfast

Marketers often get blamed for ruining “everything.” Sure, a few bad apples have spoiled the bushel for some. But the majority of us are trying to create exciting experiences for our customers.

Louis Grenier understands this, but he’s also totally playing up our industry’s reputation with his Everyone Hates Marketers podcast. When he’s not running his podcast, he’s a Content Strategist for Hotjar, a very slick heat mapping tool. In this episode, Louis speaks with author and consultant Jonathan Salem Baskin about why honesty truly is the best policy.

Takeaways: Jay has often preached how people don’t do business with logos—they do business with people. That’s what Jonathan shares here, too. As Jonathan points out, brands were created in the 20th century in lieu of local businesses being able to scale. Brands with headquarters 2,000 miles away skated by on claims that sounded great in mass media but never lived up to their billing.

Today, we’re able to hold companies accountable thanks to social media, which means transparency is a necessity for them. Thanks to this, many local businesses are thriving, and a sort of renaissance is occurring on Main Street.

Transparency in business truly is a differentiator. The more we trust a company, the more likely we are to keep doing business with them and recommend them to others.

The Science of Social Media

The Science of Social Media #65: 8 Tips To Quickly Master Social Media for Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Is 2018 finally going to be the year your company gets serious about your social program? There are still plenty of organizations trying to wade through the social media jungle and avoid all of the pitfalls and traps their friends and colleagues have encountered. Fortunately, we have the great folks at Buffer, anchored by co-hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis, as our guides. In addition to having one of the most straightforward social tools around, their blog has always been one of the best in the industry.

Takeaway: This is a wonderfully paced episode, and at only 18 minutes, it’s easy to absorb just about anywhere. For the purposes of the takeaway, however, I’ll call out Brian and Hailley’s tip number three.

Great social media programs prioritize listening to customers, not promoting to them. Social has been an integral part of customer service programs for years, but how often are you taking the extra steps to turn your customer questions into killer content?

Hailley and Brian recommend not only using these questions as fodder for your next batch of content but also sifting through Quora and competitor’s sites. These questions not only make your life a lot easier, but they also allow you to build trust with your audience, on social media or otherwise.

How often do you turn your customers’ questions into killer content?
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Six Pixels of SeparationSix Pixels of Separation #599: Better Brand Stories with Mark Evans

Many brands struggle with their brand story. Regardless of how much time, effort, and money we put into curating and crafting our brand story, sometimes it doesn’t resonate as we expect.

Mark Evans knows this and wants brands to understand that it’s neither as easy nor as daunting as it seems. Mark is an author and consultant who works directly with startups to not only improve their stories but find the best ways to distribute and market them. He joined SPOS host Mitch Joel for his last episode of 2017 for an excellent conversation all about sharing stories that move.

Takeaways: Around the 24-minute mark, Mitch asks Mark an excellent question about the value of storytelling given the half-life of content in this breakneck-paced environment. His response starts simple (quality over quantity) but blooms into much more. Since content and storytelling success demand excellence and volume, empowering your customers to tell stories for you is one way businesses are succeeding.

Mark uses Shopify as an example, and after checking out their content, he’s absolutely right. The content and stories found on the Shopify blog are not just stories about Shopify; they’re most often stories happening around their business. We’ve seemingly graduated from making our customers the stars of the stories to giving them a producer credit, as well.

That’s all for this edition! I’ll be back with a new batch next week. In the meantime, share any podcasts you think I should know about with me @jwsteiert on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Facebook Video Ad Sequences: Converting by Addressing Objections

Do you use Facebook video ads? Want them to be more effective? To explore how to use Facebook video ads to sell in a very creative way, I interview Tommie Powers. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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Why Google AdWords’ Keyword Volume Numbers Are Wildly Unreliable – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Many of us rely on the search volume numbers Google AdWords provides, but those numbers ought to be consumed with a hearty helping of skepticism. Broad and unusable volume ranges, misalignment with other Google tools, and conflating similar yet intrinsically distinct keywords — these are just a few of the serious issues that make relying on AdWords search volume data alone so dangerous. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we discuss those issues in depth and offer a few alternatives for more accurate volume data.

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why it's insane to rely on Google adwords' keyword volume numbers

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about Google AdWords’ keyword data and why it is absolutely insane as an SEO or as a content marketer or a content creator to rely on this.

Look, as a paid search person, you don’t have a whole lot of choice, right? Google and Facebook combine to form the duopoly of advertising on the internet. But as an organic marketer, as a content marketer or as someone doing SEO, you need to do something fundamentally different than what paid search folks are doing. Paid search folks are basically trying to figure out when will Google show my ad for a keyword that might create the right kind of demand that will drive visitors to my site who will then convert?

But as an SEO, you’re often driving traffic so that you can do all sorts of other things. The same with content marketers. You’re driving traffic for multitudes of reasons that aren’t directly or necessarily directly connected to a conversion, at least certainly not right in that visit. So there are lots reasons why you might want to target different types of keywords and why AdWords data will steer you wrong.

1. AdWords’ “range” is so broad, it’s nearly useless

First up, AdWords shows you this volume range, and they show you this competition score. Many SEOs I know, even really smart folks just I think haven’t processed that AdWords could be misleading them in this facet.

So let’s talk about what happened here. I searched for types of lighting and lighting design, and Google AdWords came back with some suggestions. This is in the keyword planner section of the tool. So “types of lighting,” “lighting design”, and “lighting consultant,” we’ll stick with those three keywords for a little bit.

I can see here that, all right, average monthly searches, well, these volume ranges are really unhelpful. 10k to 100k, that’s just way too giant. Even 1k to 10k, way too big of a range. And competition, low, low, low. So this is only true for the quantity of advertisers. That’s really the only thing that you’re seeing here. If there are many, many people bidding on these keywords in AdWords, these will be high.

But as an example, for “types of light,” there’s virtually no one bidding, but for “lighting consultant,” there are quite a few people bidding. So I don’t understand why these are both low competition. There’s not enough granularity here, or Google is just not showing me accurate data. It’s very confusing.

By the way, “types of light,” though it has no PPC ads right now in Google’s results, this is incredibly difficult to rank for in the SEO results. I think I looked at the keyword difficulty score. It’s in the 60s, maybe even low 70s, because there’s a bunch of powerful sites. There’s a featured snippet up top. The domains that are ranking are doing really well. So it’s going to be very hard to rank for this, and yet competition low, it’s just not telling you the right thing. That’s not telling you the right story, and so you’re getting misled on both competition and monthly searches.

2. AdWords doesn’t line up to reality, or even Google Trends!

Worse, number two, AdWords doesn’t line up to reality with itself. I’ll show you what I mean.

So let’s go over to Google Trends. Great tool, by the way. I’m going to talk about that in a second. But I plugged in “lighting design,” “lighting consultant,” and “types of lighting.” I get the nice chart that shows me seasonality. But over on the left, it also shows average keyword volume compared to each other — 86 for “lighting design,” 2 for “lighting consultant,” and 12 for “types of lighting.” Now, you tell me how it is that this can be 43 times as big as this one and this can be 6 times as big as that one, and yet these are all correct.

The math only works in some very, very tiny amounts of circumstances, like, okay, maybe if this is 1,000 and this is 12,000, which technically puts it in the 10k, and this is 86,000 — well, no wait, that doesn’t quite work — 43,000, okay, now we made it work. But you change this to 2,000 or 3,000, the numbers don’t add up. Worse, it gets worse, of course it does. When AdWords gets more specific with the performance data, things just get so crazy weird that nothing lines up.

So what I did is I created ad groups, because in AdWords in order to get more granular monthly search data, you have to actually create ad groups and then go review those. This is in the review section of my ad group creation. I created ad groups with only a single keyword so that I could get the most accurate volume data I could, and then I maximized out my bid until I wasn’t getting any more impressions by bidding any higher.

Well, whether that truly accounts for all searches or not, hard to say. But here’s the impression count — 2,500 a day, 330 a day, 4 a day. So 4 a day times 30, gosh, that sounds like 120 to me. That doesn’t sound like it’s in the 1,000 to 10,000 range. I don’t think this could possibly be right. It just doesn’t make any sense.

What’s happening? Oh, actually, this is “types of lighting.” Google clearly knows that there are way more searches for this. There’s a ton more searches for this. Why is the impression so low? The impressions are so low because Google will rarely ever show an ad for that keyword, which is why when we were talking, above here, about competition, I didn’t see an ad for that keyword. So again, extremely misleading.

If you’re taking data from AdWords and you’re trying to apply it to your SEO campaigns, your organic campaigns, your content marketing campaigns, you are being misled and led astray. If you see numbers like this that are coming straight from AdWords, “Oh, we looked at the AdWords impression,” know that these can be dead f’ing wrong, totally misleading, and throw your campaigns off.

You might choose not to invest in content around types of lighting, when in fact that could be an incredibly wonderful lead source. It could be the exact right keyword for you. It is getting way more search volume. We can see it right here. We can see it in Google Trends, which is showing us some real data, and we can back that up with our own clickstream data that we get here at Moz.

3. AdWords conflates and combines keywords that don’t share search intent or volume

Number three, another problem, Google conflates keywords. So when I do searches and I start adding keywords to a list, unless I’m very careful and I type them in manually and I’m only using the exact ones, Google will take all three of these, “types of lights,” “types of light” (singular light), and “types of lighting” and conflate them all, which is insane. It is maddening.

Why is it maddening? Because “types of light,” in my opinion, is a physics-related search. You can see many of the results, they’ll be from Energy.gov or whatever, and they’ll show you the different types of wavelengths and light ranges on the visible spectrum. “Types of lights” will show you what? It will show you types of lights that you could put in your home or office. “Types of lighting” will show you lighting design stuff, the things that a lighting consultant might be interested in. So three different, very different, types of results with three different search intents all conflated in AdWords, killing me.

4. AdWords will hide relevant keyword suggestions if they don’t believe there’s a strong commercial intent

Number four, not only this, a lot of times when you do searches inside AdWords, they will hide the suggestions that you want the most. So when I performed my searches for “lighting design,” Google never showed me — I couldn’t find it anywhere in the search results, even with the export of a thousand keywords — “types of lights” or “types of lighting.”

Why? I think it’s the same reason down here, because Google doesn’t believe that those are commercial intent search queries. Well, AdWords doesn’t believe they’re commercial intent search queries. So they don’t want to show them to AdWords customers because then they might bid on them, and Google will (a) rarely show those, and (b) they’ll get a poor return on that spend. What happens to advertisers? They don’t blame themselves for choosing faulty keywords. They blame Google for giving them bad traffic, and so Google knocks these out.

So if you are doing SEO or you’re doing content marketing and you’re trying to find these targets, AdWords is a terrible suggestion engine as well. As a result, my advice is going to be rely on different tools.

Instead:

There are a few that I’ve got here. I’m obviously a big fan of Moz’s Keyword Explorer, having been one of the designers of that product. Ahrefs came out with a near clone product that’s actually very, very good. SEMrush is also a quality product. I like their suggestions a little bit more, although they do use AdWords keyword data. So the volume data might be misleading again there. I’d be cautious about using that.

Google Trends, I actually really like Google Trends. I’m not sure why Google is choosing to give out such accurate data here, but from what we’ve seen, it looks really comparatively good. Challenge being if you do these searches in Google Trends, make sure you select the right type, the search term, not the list or the topic. Topics and lists inside Google Trends will aggregate, just like this will, a bunch of different keywords into one thing.

Then if you want to get truly, truly accurate, you can go ahead and run a sample AdWords campaign, the challenge with that being if Google chooses not to show your ad, you won’t know how many impressions you potentially missed out on, and that can be frustrating too.

So AdWords today, using PPC as an SEO tool, a content marketing tool is a little bit of a black box. I would really recommend against it. As long as you know what you’re doing and you want to find some inspiration there, fine. But otherwise, I’d rely on some of these other tools. Some of them are free, some of them are paid. All of them are better than AdWords.

All right, everyone. Look forward to your comments and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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Is Our Social Media Terminology About to Change?

Is Our Social Media Terminology About to Change

“She does social media,” is the go-to introduction my friends bestow on me at parties. In 2018, in a world where many of my millennial friends have more captivating Instagram accounts than me, this introduction sound about as impressive as, “She Googles real good.”

Who doesn’t?

Currently, I don’t directly manage any brand’s social media channels, though I have in the past. Instead, I most often consult in overall digital strategies that involve many promotion outlets, be it email, website, social media, and/or display.

That said, my friends’ misleading introduction results in some lovely party conversations, the most recent being, “Do you think we’ll always call social media ‘social media’?”

As the resident social media expert person, I blurted out, “Of course! What else would we call it? We still call TV ‘TV,’ don’t we?” I chortled. My friends chortled. We all slapped knees (our own, not each other’s). The conversation pivoted.

I went home, brushed my teeth, changed into my egg jammies, and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night Don’t Wake Daddy-style. We don’t call it “TV”; we call it Netflix, Hulu, or whatever specific show we intend to binge watch. Unless we spent time staring at some reality show we’d rather not admit to watching, we rarely say, “I just watched TV.”

Now that my moment has passed to have this dinner party conversation with man buns (brotrepreneurs) over cheap wine, I ask you: When will we stop calling social media “social media”?

Don’t get me wrong—this will be a mass effort, a shift of the collective conscious—we will not solve it here. However, in the way someone circa 2010 started asking where she left her “phone,” abandoning “cell” as if the specifier was superfluous, someone will start calling social media “social.”

Oh, no. We already use “social” in isolation. Has the end begun? Probably.

The Evidence ‘Social Media’ Is on Its Way Out

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 (over five years ago?!). Almost immediately, the two began melding into one. Facebook introduced video; then Instagram introduced video. Instagram introduced Stories; then Facebook introduced Stories. Now, ads can be sent through both platforms at the same time, from the same tool, using the same audience parameters.

Will Instagram eventually just become Facebook? Will we call all newsfeed-centric social media platforms “Facebook” in the way we colloquially deem all search engines “Google”?

What happens when Facebook overtakes YouTube once and for all? YouTube, a platform I’ve always struggled to call a “social media,” had a rocky 2017. With ridiculous scandals, a massive redesign, original shows, and mixed Red reviews, who and what is YouTube anymore?

For one, YouTube is a sibling of Google and therefore, undoubtedly, a powerful ad platform. However, advertising alone social media does not make, young padawan.

What happens if Netflix introduces comments à la Youtube? What happens if Snapchat introduces a discovery section à la Instagram? Wait, did Snapchat kind of already do that? What happens if Twitter . . . nah, I’ve all but given up on Twitter.

Nevertheless, what are we going to call all these social media platforms as they evolve? It seems to me they are outgrowing their terminology.

Will we one day call all feed-centric social media ‘Facebook’ like we call all search engines ‘Google’?
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Does Any of This Really Matter?

I don’t know, man. Maybe analyzing terminology just feels like splitting hairs. Still, sometimes you need a silly question like “when will we stop calling it social media” to get the brainstorming juices flowing, to tiptoe to the questions that really matter to your business as we cruise through 2018, such as:

  • Where is social media going?
  • Where is our audience likely to be in five years?
  • What platforms should we consider adopting?
  • Where should we be putting our digital advertising dollars?
  • What type of content will we need to produce? Video? Audio?
  • Are we ready to serve a mobile-first audience?
  • What are we measuring in terms of KPIs?
  • Are we converting? If not, why?

Scary questions, right? In time, they will need to be answered. But for now, tell me, what are your 2018 predictions for social media terminology? Better yet, what changes to individual social media platforms will necessitate the evolution of our current lexicon?

I’ll grab my cheap wine. Brotrepreneurs, come one, come all.

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