Social Media & SEO – A Marketers Mystery

Many marketers spend a significant amount of time working on SEO and Social Media.  These are two essential marketing practices that can help bring in many new potential customers and take your business to the next level.  For most, these are two equally important efforts but they are entirely separate.

Figuring out how and why SEO and Social Media are interlinked, however, could help you to really get the best out of both of these strategies.  In fact, there was an article on Entrepreneur recently that covered this specific topic quite nicely.  It is linked below and well worth the read for anyone who is involved with digital marketing in any way.  Before you do that, however, I’d like to pull out a few key insights from the article and touch on them briefly.

Social Media & SEO – What’s the Link?

One of the first things the article discusses is the relationship that exists between SEO and social media.  It really illustrates the fact that while almost everyone agrees that a good social media campaign can have positive benefits on SEO, it is impossible to figure out what the true link between the two is.  There is a lot of debate about whether it is the activity on the social media, the number of followers, how much traffic is sent or something else entirely.

While nobody knows how or why social media can help your website rank better (and anyone who claims to know with any level of certainty should be looked at with caution), there is no doubt that the two are linked somehow.  Fortunately, just knowing that there is a real link between the two is enough in most cases.  The article digs into some of the more developed theories out there, and they are worth reading to get a better understanding.

Do You Need all Social Media?

Another important point that the post hinted at but did not address directly is that you may not need an account on every social media site.  Sure, all businesses should have a Facebook account.  Most should have a Twitter account as well.  Whether or not you want to invest the time or money into getting an account on all the other options like Google+, Pinterest and others, however, is a matter of priorities.

If your site doesn’t naturally fit into an image focused social media page like Pinterest, for example, it is likely best to just skip over that one and invest your time else ware.  As with all marketing, you need to balance your limited resources, whether that is time or money, to get the best results.  As long as you are active on the social media platforms you are on, you’ll see the SEO results you want.

Take a minute to read through the full article on Entrepreneur and see what you think.  Post your comments below and let us know about your SEO & Social Media strategy.  You can read the full article on Entrepreneur HERE.

New Ad Option for Facebook Ensures 100% Viewability

Facebook has just announced that they will be allowing a new option for advertisers on their platform.  The new option will require advertisers pay for ad impressions only when it is 100% visible.  This is an interesting move, and one that is surprising to many since Facebook has long argued that even partial views are effective.  There is no word on exactly how much more it will cost for a 100% visible ad impression either.

In the announcement that was published on their blog Facebook said, “While it remains our belief that value is created for an advertiser as soon as an ad is in view, we also believe in offering advertisers control and flexibility over how they run their ads.  100% in-view impression buying gives advertisers the option to purchase ad impressions where the entire ad – from top to bottom – has passed through a person’s screen in News Feed.”

This is just one more option that advertisers will have when it comes to customizing which ads they will have to pay for.  Another option that has been around for a while now is to only pay when a video is seen for at least 10 seconds.  This, of course, helps to ensure marketers are getting benefits from their ads.

The new service will be ‘monitored’ by ad analytics firm, Moat.  Moat will track the video views and make sure that the numbers are correct when provided to the advertisers themselves.  This will help ensure that the program has full transparency and is enforced properly.

How popular this new option will be has yet to be seen. While it initially seems like a very good option for advertisers, that will largely depend on how much extra it costs per view.  Many marketers may find that it is better to pay for all the impressions, even if they aren’t 100% seen.  This will likely take some trial and error to see what the best way to do it on a case by case basis.

Report Finds Improvements in eCommerce Conversion Rates

A quarterly report from Monetate has recently been released for Q2 2015 and it has something of a mixed bag of information for marketers.  First, it found that the conversion rates for eCommerce has improved on all types of devices.  This is significant because over the previous several reports these rates have gone down.  The bounce rate, however, is remaining high, which is something that many marketers will be concerned about. Referral traffic from social networks continued to go up as well as did the average order value, which is always a good thing.

Conversion Rates

The first thing to look at is the overall conversion rate on eCommerce platforms. The report found that conversions for Smartphone’s went up 7%, tablets went up 12% and desktops went up 7%.  This is a nice reversal in the trend over the past several quarters which saw overall conversion rates dropping.  The big jump in tablets is especially promising given the continued growth in tablet use.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate on eCommerce sites, however, stayed at around an overall average of 31.32%.  This is about even with the previous quarter, which may not sound bad until you see that the current rates are at a 15 month high.  Clearly something is not going right.  The bounce rate is something that all marketers struggle to keep as low as possible since the longer a user stays on the site, the more likely they are going to make a purchase. The bounce rate on smart phones is also significantly higher than on tablets or PCs, which is troubling since smart phones are continuing to grow in popularity.

Referral Traffic

Some good news is that referral traffic that comes from social networks is up about 50%.  This is a huge growth, especially considering the fact that social networks were already a huge source of traffic a year ago.  While social media traffic is not necessarily going to convert at the highest of rates it is a great source of potential customers, especially if they are coming from targeted advertising.

Average Order Value

Another piece of good news is that the average order value (AOV) is up significantly from the previous quarter.  Today the average order on an eCommerce site is $118.26 in Q2 2015.  In the previous quarter the AOV was $116.57.  Related to this is the revenue per session, which went from $3.69 to $3.93 year over year.  Given the sheer number of visitors and purchasers that visit eCommerce sites these little jumps can translate to huge increases in total profits.

If you’re interested in seeing the full report you can view it HERE.

Two New Ad Types from Facebook Designed to Generate Direct Leads

Facebook has recently confirmed that they are testing two new types of advertisements that are designed to help marketers generate leads and even direct sales.  These ads will have a similar appearance to their existing ad formats, but with some important enhancements that are likely to help marketers and brands with optimizing their marketing efforts significantly.

Lead Ads

The first new ad format is being called ‘Lead Ads’ and is made specifically for mobile devices.  They will have the normal ad format including headlines, descriptions, text, images and a call to action button.  The difference, however, is that when users click the button it will populate an in-app form.  This form will be filled out automatically by information that Facebook has on the users.

The fact that it automatically fills everything out will make it much easier on the users, which should dramatically reduce the ‘abandonment’ issue that so many marketers face.  Once the in-app form is populated (which is virtually instantly) the user simply hits submit.  This is perfect for generating new email list sign ups or other similar advertisements.

You can see how the Lead Ads will work in this image from Facebook:

New Facebook Ads

Buy Product Ads

The next new ad type is called, ‘Buy Product Ads’ and this is one that is likely to generate a lot of buzz for marketers and larger brands.  It is set up to allow customers to complete a full purchase right form within the Facebook app.  Like the Lead Ads, users will see a fairly traditional looking advertisement for a product they may be interested in.  Rather than tapping to be brought to another website to complete the purchase, however, they can simply tap a buy button.

When they hit the buy button it will take them to another form within the app where their information will already be filled out.  Users will even have the ability to keep a credit card on file with Facebook so this information can be completed as well.  The user will simply have to review the form to make sure everything is correct and then they can complete the purchase with another tap.

For many businesses and marketers, this type of ad will create a great opportunity.  While it can be effective for almost any type of product or service, those with lower price points will likely perform best.  This type of Facebook ad will make it very easy for people to make ‘impulse’ purchases without having to take the time to think it through.  Things like T-Shirts or other fun items can benefit greatly from this type of ad.

Still in Testing

Both of these two ad types are still in testing phases, but are expected to progress into wider use before long.  They will obviously have important uses for many marketers and will help Facebook to attract new advertisers. If successful, these types of ads can be very beneficial to Facebook, marketers as well as the consumers.

Facebook to Give Video Creators 55% of Revenue from Suggested Videos

In an obvious attempt to lure video creators away from YouTube, Facebook will be offering many of them a share in the revenue that is generated from ads on or near their videos.  Starting this fall, video creators including the NBA, Fox Sports and Funny or Die, will receive a 55% cut of the ad revenue that appears on the social network on or near their videos.

YouTube has long been giving content makers a portion of the ad revenue, so this is somewhat of a game of ‘catch up’ for Facebook, but an important one none the less.  YouTube offers the same 55/45% revenue split.  The big advantage that Facebook will have is that it is actually growing much more rapidly in terms of generating video views.

Thanks to their auto-play feature and the massive popularity of the social network, many video creators will be able to get millions of views with fairly little promotion.  In addition, Facebook makes it easier for these videos to be seen by people who aren’t directly searching for them.  As videos get liked or shared by people on Facebook, the audience will naturally grow.  While there is some of that on YouTube, the bulk of videos are seen by people who are actually searching for a specific topic.

Video creators have been using Facebook in the past because it was an important tool for getting their videos seen by this huge audience.  This, however, will provide further incentive.  Dan Rose, VP of Partnerships at Facebook recently told Forbes, “Partners say they’d publish a lot more if they could get benefit of distribution but also make money.”  Of course, this is not really surprising.  Paying video makers to publish on your platform is an obvious way to increase the total number of videos being published.

How it will Work

The system will work when someone clicks on a video in the News Feed.  They will then see a suggested videos page, with a list of videos created by Facebook’s algorithm.  These videos will be similar to the original content, and will play automatically as the user scrolls through.  Unlike typical News Feed videos, which start off muted, these will play with sound since the user has already opted to hear it with the original video click.

The videos that are viewed on this suggested videos page will generate revenue for the publishers.  If someone watches multiple videos in one session, the revenue will be split based on the amount of time the user spends on each video.

Currently this system is still technically just in testing phase according to Facebook.  Assuming it is fully rolled out, many expect that the number of video creators that qualify for the program will grow significantly.  It is not yet clear, however, how marketers will be buying space on the Suggested Videos page.  For now, Facebook won’t be charging advertisers for these ads so that they can see how the system will work in a live system.

AutoPlay Video Launching from Twitter

In a long anticipated move, Twitter is finally launching auto-play for the videos on their site.  This is something that Facebook has had for quite a while now, and has enjoyed a lot of success from. For those who are not familiar, the technology works by automatically beginning a video as soon as it is visible to the person browsing their Twitter feed.  The video will begin playing in mute so that it really doesn’t disturb anyone who is not interested.

If the user scrolls past, the video will stop playing.  In many cases, however, the video will catch someone’s eye and they will be interested.  With a quick tap or click, they can then let the video play in full screen mode (for mobile devices) and with the audio as well.

Perfect for Advertisers

While the auto-play feature will be engaged for everyone, it is especially important for marketers and advertisers.  It makes it so a far greater number of people will actually see your video ads.  Twitter has made it clear that advertisers will only pay for a view if the video has been 100% in view for a minimum of three seconds.  This is similar to the Facebook setup and it has proven to be effective for many marketers.

Changing the way Marketers Make Videos

The auto-play feature has really caused a lot of brands and marketers to change the way they are making videos.  First, it is 100% essential to have the first couple of seconds of a video be very eye catching.  You want visitors to see your message and tap it to see and hear the rest of the video.  Many marketers are also putting sub-titles on their videos since they know that some or all of the ad will be viewed without the volume on.

Widescreen Auto-Play

While Twitter’s feature is largely just a copycat of Facebook’s, they have made some advancements.  First, if there is a video that has started to auto-play on the screen and the user tilts the device sideways, it will automatically turn on the sound and play in full screen mode.  This will likely help to ensure more people are seeing the full video and getting the full message that publishers want. While it may seem like a small thing, it can be very helpful.

Dramatic Increase in Video Views

If Twitter gets similar results as Facebook, they will see a dramatic increase in the total number of video views that are generated on their platform.  This, of course, is a good thing for Twitter.  It is also going to be helpful to brands, advertisers and the users in general.  While some people report that they find the auto-play option to be annoying, the majority of people seem to like it according to recent surveys.

The one potential problem is for users who have a limited amount of mobile data.  Twitter does allow the auto-play feature to be disabled in the settings so that should not be a significant concern.

Headlines Essential to Driving Traffic from Search & Social

While it might not be surprising to many, the headline of a story is the most important factor when attempting to drive traffic to it from either social sites or search engines.  This is according to a new study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.  The study analyzed the habits of 20,000 people in 12 different countries and learned a lot of important information.  The following are some of the key points that are covered in the study, and how they can be used by marketers.

Headlines More Important for Search than Social

While a good headline is essential for a successful story no matter where it is published, the study found that it is significantly more important when people see it on search results compared to social media.  For search results, the study showed that more than 50% of people in each country (well more than 50% in some countries) said that the headline was the most important factor when determining which stories they click on.  For social, on the other hand, that number dropped to an average of 37% for most countries, with the highest being just under 50% in Ireland.

Other Factors that Encourage Clicks

The other factors that were ranked were ‘content that comes from a site I know and trust’ which was the second most popular option and ‘content that comes from a person I know and trust.’  For search, not surprisingly, content that comes from a person I know and trust only got a few percentage of the people.  On social, however, it was nearly 25% in most countries.  This is, of course, because people see their friends and family sharing a post so they assume it is going to be interesting or engaging.

For search, having a site that is from a trusted site that people recognize is far more important than having a site that comes from people they trust.  In most cases, Google and the other search engines will rank trusted and/or recognizable sites such as well known news sites, YouTube, WikiPedia and things like that.  For marketers, building a brand can help drive traffic by building trust in the brand name.  Of course, that takes time.

Using Proper Headlines

While it may be obvious that using great headlines is essential to driving the most traffic you can, it isn’t always as easy as people would like.  Figuring out what types of headlines work best for your specific site or product can be difficult.  Some things are proven to drive traffic, but they don’t convert very well.  On the other hand, some types of headlines may not get as much traffic but will convert at higher rates because of the fact that it attracts more motivated buyers.

Finding the right balance can take some experimentation and learning about your target customers.  This is well worth the effort and over time will allow you to write high quality headlines for your posts, videos and other types of content.  If you are interested in seeing the full study from Reuters, you can see it HERE.

Significant Crackdown on Social Media Marking coming from FTC?

The FTC has recently made their first updates to their “What are People Asking” FAQ page in over five years.  These updates seem to be focused primarily on social media marketing.  If you use this type of marketing, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the updates so you can remain in compliance.

Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC.

Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC.

Many experts believe that this update could be serving as a ‘warning’ to marketers that they must get in compliance as they will be cracking down on violations in the near future.  Even though the FTC has long required companies to clearly identify any sponsored posts or paid advertisements from celebrities or other influential figures, many haven’t been doing it.  Even contests haven’t been clearly identified.  Both of these items have been updated in the FTC FAQ.

The marketing website MarketingLand.com has interviewed advertising attorney Allison Fitzpatrick about this new update, and they were able to get some very insightful information.  Fitzpatrick seems to believe that the FTC has updated the FAQ to ensure they have given proper guidance to marketers, and now they will begin to take violations much more seriously.

Hosting Contests or Sweepstakes?

If your brand holds any type of contest or sweepstakes through social media, a full disclosure must be made.  In addition to the disclosure, the rules must be very clearly laid out and linked to.  Using a hashtag such as #Contest or #sweepstakes is quickly becoming the standard.  Some companies try to just use a hashtag with the name of the contest or sweepstakes, but that is likely not going to be sufficient in the eyes of the FTC.  Whether your contest is large or small, it is a good idea to include a clear indication to keep your brand safe.

Facebook Likes?

Facebook likes are also going to be getting additional scrutiny from the FTC.  While it is impossible to disclose every time a celebrity or other important figure likes your page, the FTC is likely looking to crack down on any type of buying or selling of likes.  According to the interview of Fitzpatrick, “I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the next FTC actions is against fake likes.  It’s just so disingenuous what they do.  It’s so fraudulent and it really undermines the value of Facebook and the like button.”

Of course, there is no way to know for sure what the FTC will do in this area, but if you are in the business of buying or selling likes from people who have no actual interest in the brand or product they are liking, you may want to review the FTC regulations and your business practices.

Twitter Exemptions?  NOPE!

If you think you can run contests or have celebrity endorsements without a disclaimer on Twitter just because of the 140 character limitation, you’re wrong.  The FTC has been very clear that even on Twitter you must let people know when someone is being compensated for a post.  Using hashtags like #sponsored or #ad seems to be sufficient, at least for now.

Start Videos with Disclosure

Another thing the FTC will likely be looking at is video advertisements.  Some people who make videos, especially for video games and other digital content, like to ‘hide’ the disclosure away at the end of the video where many people won’t see it.  This is not acceptable.  Leading the video with a disclaimer is likely going to be required by the FTC, so keep this in mind when making any type of new video ads.

While some of this may seem like common sense, a surprising number of marketers are not in compliance at all.  With this latest update by the FTC, they can likely expect to see some enforcement steps taken in the near future.

Pinterest Launching “Buyable Pins”

Pinterest has finally made the long awaited announcement that they will be adding a new button for ‘buyable pins.’  The feature will first launch in the United States only, but most people expect that it will then roll out globally over the coming months.  The feature is in response to one of the most popular requests the site got, which is the ability to buy items that people pin.

Pin it!

Pin it!

In fact, in the announcement Pinterest Co-Founder and CEO Ben Silbermann read a tweet from a users who said, “I wish Pinterest was as store.  Like how great would it be to walk in and buy all those clothes, and food and shoes and puppies and boys?”  He went on to comically say, “People have been asking for this stuff a lot and while we can’t promise puppies and boys, I’m really excited to announce today Buyable Pins.”

The new feature will allow certain companies and partners to add a ‘buy it’ button, which will be blue and appear next to the existing red ‘Pin It’ button.  When clicked, users will be able to buy the items featured in the pins, paying through ApplePay and traditional credit cards at first.  There are plans in place to add additional payment options in the near future.

One of the most surprising parts of this announcement is that Pinterest won’t be taking a cut of each sale.  They are allowing the brands and marketers to retain all their profits.  Pinterest will benefit from the fact that this will make their ‘sponsored pins’ more attractive, which should increase revenue.

The program is going to start with only a few selected brands, but they are big names and will make it so over 2 million buyable pins will be active at launch.  The initial companies include Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as well as Shopify.  Marketers can list their own products on Shopify, which can then have them on Pinterest so there are options for individual marketers.

It is expected that the program will open up to all marketers in the future, which will generate a lot of opportunity for affiliate marketers who can list their products on this very popular site.  Whether they will have limits on the types of products and affiliate links that are permitted or not isn’t known yet.

The bottom line with this announcement is that it is going to turn Pinterest from a great traffic generating tool for marketers into an actual eCommerce site where marketers can begin generating great revenue directly.

Powerful New Options for Facebook Advertising Announced from Teradata

Facebook advertising has been an effective way to drive traffic for quite some time.  The fact that Facebook offers so much data about their users makes it possible for marketers to really get their ads shown to the exact people they want every time.  Of course, to set this up it can take some time and experimentation to get it right.

There are so many different ways you can customize your advertising it can sometimes be overwhelming.  With that in mind, the data analytics and marketing company, Teradata, has announced a new digital marketing tool that will allow marketers to deliver extremely targeted Facebook advertising through their system.

They will set up full ad campaigns that that target customers through email, mobile, traditional web and now social media.  They have long been a leader in digital advertising, but with the addition of these new tools for Facebook, they will essentially be a one-stop-shop for marketers and digital ad managers around the world.

According to the press release, “Teradata’s new social advertising capability in its Digital Marketing Center enables marketers to draw on their wealth of customer data to create Facebook Custom Audiences that match their existing segments.  This improves marketers’ Facebook campaigns by providing more nuanced targeting of customers and prospects in ways that are contextual and highly relevant, rather than intrusive.  The end benefit is more relevant and revenue-producing ads optimized for best spend and results.”

This new addition to their existing tools will make them more effective than ever, and help to drive better sales or sign ups, depending on what the marketers is looking for.  The fact that these new tools will allow even greater targeting within Facebook (and outside of it too) will help advertisers to potentially get really high returns on investments.

The CMO of Teradata Marketing Applications, Lisa Arthur, said “Marketers are increasing time and money spent on digital ads, especially on social networks.  As a result, they want improved targeting and higher return on their investment.  Teradata customers can combine the power of Teradata Digital Marketing Center with Facebook Custom Audiences to produce stronger and more successful interactions and conversations with Facebook advertising.  Improved targeting of unique audience segments coupled with real-time relevance increases performance and return on investment.”

With this new service added to their already popular solutions they will likely continue to grow and expand to become a leader in digital advertising.  This is one of the best new services that takes Facebook’s already powerful advertising options and adding in great 3rd party options to make it even better than ever.  This type of thing will likely become more and more popular in the coming years as marketing agencies and ad tech companies start looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of every advertising campaign.

Coming Soon: New Ad Options from Pinterest

Of all the major social networks around today, Pinterest seems to be the one lagging behind when it comes to generating advertising revenue.  They just launched ‘promoted pins’ not too long ago, and that is well after all the other networks had already offered a number of different options to entice marketers.  Despite this lack of paid advertising opportunity, however, many marketers used the site to generate significant amounts of organic traffic.

The words "PIN IT" written in wooden letterpress type.

The words “PIN IT” written in wooden letterpress type.

Pinterest, it seems, is ready to catch up to the competition when it comes to monetizing their platform.  They have just announced that they will be rolling out a number of different ad options over the coming months.  These options will dramatically increase the available options for marketers and give them the ability to get their messages in front of many more Pinterest users.

Tim Kendall, who is the General Manager of Monetization at Pinterest, said this of the move, “Sometimes users interact with Pinterest in discover mode, other times they are signaling intent by repining or saving pins, other times they take action by clicking on a pin or clicking through to a web site.  All of this activity has specific value to marketers.”  In addition, he stated, “We are aligning pinner action with marketer objectives.”  This, of course, will be key to the success of their monetization efforts.

Over the course of the next several months, we’ll see the following new features launched by Pinterest.  While they have not set any official dates yet, it will likely begin in the coming month.

Targeting People based on their Plans

This is an interesting marketing effort.  Pinterest claims that they have the user data necessary to help predict what they are planning.  This does make sense based on how their platform works.  If someone is pinning or saving a lot of wedding related images, for example, they are likely planning a wedding.  Using this data Pinterest will allow marketers to tailor their ads for the right audiences based on the activities they are most likely to engage in.

Cinematic Pins

These won’t just be the annoying auto-play ads that you’re used to seeing on other networks.  At least, not according to Pinterest.  They are launching “Cinematic Pins” which will begin going into motion as users scroll down a page.  The speed of the animation in the ad will adjust based on the speed the user is scrolling.  The full video won’t begin playing, however, unless the user clicks on it. This will help to ensure more accurate user engagement.

Engagement Pricing

Pinterest will be offering ‘Cost per Engagement’ (CPE) ads to marketers.  This gives many marketers the option to get great returns on investment by only paying when the user takes the desired action.  This model also comes with improved tracking and interaction monitoring.

Promoted App Pins

The app market is expected to grow to as much as $3 billion in 2015 so it is no surprise that Pinterest is trying to get in on this huge area.  They will allow mobile app install pins on a CPA basis.  This will make it easy for marketers of apps to get in front of interested audiences.

As you can see, Pinterest is really stepping up their advertising game.  Their announcement shows that they are confident in these new features, which they hope will generate significant amounts of money for their business.