7 Useful Social Media Post Ideas for winning Content Marketing

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Here are seven useful social media post ideas that will help keep your  audiences engaged and interested. Content marketing and social media posts to that end need to be interesting, entertaining and valuable for your audience. Use these seven different post ideas to help win the game.

The following post ideas help you with adding a bit of variety and getting and holding attention.

1. Ask questions, seek responses

Social media is an opinion platform. Ask your audience questions and seek responses. This kind of a post empowers your audience to share their opinion. It gives them a sense of social pride. Experts tell us that posts with questions usually get 100% more comments than standard posts. Posts with questions will reward you with more comments but tend to get fewer likes and shares. You might ask a question not just about your brand or product, but one that helps your social effort "How many posts a day would you like to see from a brand on Facebook?"

One other way is to seek fill-in-the-blank responses to your posts. Again this is opinion seeking, and gets a fair amount of participation. You can always use information you gather for your future content or on how to improve customer service or even product attributes. 

"I buy my weekly grocery products on _______________ (day of week)". 
"I watch my favorite programs on _____________ (cable tv, streaming, etc)"

2. Comment on trends in your category or industry

Jump on what's trending in your category or industry and comment on it. This is side step from your social calendar, and it sparks interest and attention right away. Make sure you do a quick daily research to keep up with what's happening around. Include related hashtags so others easily can discover your content. Proper use of hashtags improve engagement and get attention. Issues and trends around your business usually has the most impact. You can of course jump on a huge trend that's outside your realm, as long as you can tie it in with your brand topic somehow.

3. Offer tips, tricks, How-To's and Advice

Advice, tips and How To posts get a lot of shares, because people like to be seen as 'useful' to their circles. Advice posts are an opportunity to often re use older content. You also can curate content from other sources, which can position you and your brand as the go-to source for information on the subject.

4. Have promotions

Promotions and offers are a great way to keep your audience interested in your posts. Statistics show that 35% of fans follow brands to stay updated on promotions. And 42% follow a brand on social for discounts and special offers. This is how you make your content 'valuable' – literally. Remember not to be spammy with now-or-never deals and cheap offers. Promotions should seem exclusive to your audience and provide a genuine sense of value.

5. Ask for User Generated Content (UGC)

Global research giants Nielsen tells that today's consumers trust user generated content about a brand 92% to 36% when it is directly from a brand. If your fans post content that features your products, share it! Ask your audience for content. Social media is really a great user driven platform, so seek that participation and contribution. Look out for user reviews, unboxings, How To's, product tips etc posted by people and use them in your content.

6. Harness the power of video and photos

Platforms like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook’s native and live-video options mean sharing video never has been easier. Don’t forget that consumers who view video are twice as likely to make a purchase. A study from Invodo also showed that 92 percent of mobile video users share with others the video content they see.

Did you know photos get 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments, and 84 more click-throughs on links than text-based posts? Photos enable you to tell a story visually, and your audience will not only be attracted to see the posts with photos but also share them if they are 'useful'.

7. Use the magic of power words

Research tells us that there are certain words that win over audiences in content. Google "power words for content marketing" and you'll find dozens of great articles on which power words to use. Use them appropriately in your posts and build these winning words and phrases into your post content. Words paint pictures, and certain words paint better pictures.

These are seven easy tips to follow. Empower your posts to ride on the power of a winning content strategy for your social media marketing.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Now read these related posts on Social Media & Content Marketing:

3 Simple ways to measure Social Media marketing success

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With so many tools and metrics around, here are three simple, overall ways to measure social media marketing success.

Whatever your brand or your social media agency does, it's all out there for every one to see for themselves. You can have a fair idea of a brand's social strategy and how posts are performing. Comments, likes, and shares are all clearly visible – no one can really hide success or failure.

But when it comes to measuring the strategic and performance success of social, there very little agreement on what and how to measure success. Keeping it simple is the key. Here's how...

1. Measure social media team performance

The first simple way to measure social media success from a brand or agency perspective is evaluating team performance. 

Did the team do their work on time, within budget, and on message? 

Social media teams are required to produce a certain number of pieces of content per day. And manage the feedback. The team will obviously have broader strategic goals, but one one of their targets may be simply 'post at least once per day'. Achieving this is an simple 'output' metric.

Did they post as planned? Did they time their posts properly? How many times did they respond to comments on time (within a certain time frame pre-agreed on)? You can set up the parameters you want to track.

This is really easy and simple, yet often, I have seen teams failing to perform on this. They work across several brands or product verticals, and things slip by. So, this first easy check is important. At the end of the day, if the team is delivering on this, we need to then review how their outputs actually benefit the brand.

2. Measure direct results

The second simple way is to measure the direct results achieved by their posts. How many people watched the video? How many impressions did the post get? How many shares? How many comments? Meaning – just how much engagement did they get?

Most social media platforms provide this data directly. Facebook has reported organic and paid reach for some time and Twitter now offers extensive analytics of tweet performance. Tweetreach offers powerful analytics  for Twitter as well.

It is important to look at these results of content in context. The Socialbakers tool will help provide this analytical data. It not only tells you the reach of your posts, but will also give you engagement metrics per number of fans. How well are the posts performing against one another, and how well are they performing vis-a-vis other brands in the category.

Metric like these offer a glimpse at how much of an impression you are making with the brand on social media overall. Direct result metrics metrics in co-relation to industry and category context is even more valuable.

Social media engagement metrics encapsulate a lot of other information about your posts which is useful for improving your content. How many people reacted to your post, without paid promotion for example, is a good guide to the overall quality, relevance, and 'shareability' of the team's outputs.

3. Measure desired action

What were your team's or agency's goals? What did they set out to achieve? What business outcomes did they hope to propagate? This is not measuring shares and comments. Hopefully those shares and comments have a positive effect on your brand, but measuring 'desired outcome' is much more than desired social action.

Desired action or business outcome measurements would review: Are the leads from social activity more qualified? Did customer loyalty for the brand improve over time and across a campaign, for example? Did more people buy a product after seeing a post? Social media teams need to address these metrics with sales and marketing teams ahead of time. 

There will be a need to review the brand's attribution modeling for this – where social media is taken into consideration when reviewing sales or brand positioning. Simple ways to try this out is to targeting campaigns to a specific region or a target demographic group and look for significant improvements in sales for them. But sales, marketing and social teams need to work together for this.

Outcome metrics will let you know whether your posts are reaching the intended audience from a brand perspective and also review the quality of the work as well towards achieving business outcomes. Outcome metrics, which link social media to business objectives, are the most impressive figures for management, so it's very surprising that social media team's KPI's often don't address these at all.

These are absolute basics to measure social media performance. I am not saying, stop here. Here's a post that addresses a more detailed perspective: • Setting Social Media Goals and Tracking Success Made Simple

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Now read these posts on Social Media:

• 6 Key Essential Focus Areas in Social Media Strategy

• How to Make your Social Media Rock Solid by Listening and Acting Quickly

8 Must Haves for your Digital Marketing Strategy

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There are some fundamentals that your digital marketing strategy needs to address. Here's a list of eight critical factors you must focus on.

If you don't have a specific 'digital' strategy, you'll need to make these eight core points the center of your overall marketing strategy. If your brand, product or business has components of marketing via online, mobile and social, start with these essential pillars to build your strategy on.

1. Marketing Objective

What do you want to achieve? What are your basic and extended goals for the year? Do you have a clearly defined objective? Or is it based on "we need to have digital, so we'll do these few things..."? These objectives should not just be financially motivated. They may include driving sales, offering better value for your customers, engaging them, creating a lasting brand imprint, or maintaining a solid relationship via customer service with your audience. Outline your objectives clearly, remember that your objectives need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Start with a relentless focus on your audience.

2. Target Audience or Market

You need to have a clear idea of who your target market or audience is. Who do you want to talk to? Who will buy your product? What are the solutions they are looking for, and can your business provide those solutions? You cannot be everything to everyone – define who you want to engage, to sell to, and to have as your loyal customer in the long run. Customer or Target Audience insight is key. Often, savvy marketers start with an understanding of the audience even before setting objectives.

3. Data and Insight

Data is what gives you insight. Big data is useless information unless it is converted to actionable, meaningful and relevant insight that drives your game plan. How do you plan to track data? How and who will convert this to usable information? As a marketer, you need to understand the types of data you have access to.. Particularly for social media marketing, you need to listen first – this is how you gather data. Make sure you have the right tools and the right people who know how to access and use the power of data and insight.

4. Platforms

Just like you can't be everything for everyone, you can't really be on every digital or social platform that's out there. Simply, each and every platform may not be relevant for your business at all. Go back to Pillars 1, 2, and 3, and define which platforms best suit your marketing efforts. Today, mobile marketing – every aspect of it – needs to be on your must-have list. But, on social, you need to choose your channels to suit your brand or product.

5. Timelines

End-to-end digital marketing strategy does not mean the plan is timeless and will last you forever. Every aspect of all seven pillars that are the foundations of your marketing strategy will change over time – and sometimes very, very quickly. You need to adapt and adopt as soon as you can, or you'll fall behind the competition.

The other timelines you need to nail down is how long you need for your go-to-market initiatives. From a first idea to execution, what's the amount of time you need? What does your marketing calendar look like? How long do you plan to spend on achieving each specific marketing objective?

6. Budget

There was a stupid notion earlier that digital marketing is "cheap". While digital marketing is cost effective, it's not cheap. Search marketing needs investment. Social media needs investment, because all the platforms are now degrading the power of organic content. Paid is the way to go. Digital marketing hires – the right people – are not cheap. Have a clear budget that will help you meet your objectives. Remember, you pay peanuts – you get monkeys.

7. Resources

Resources – the right ones on your side is key. Are you going to do it all in-house? Are you're smart and will look into outsource options? Will you be working with specialist services like agencies and consultants? For every pillar mentioned above you need the right people to work with you. Digital marketing software costs money, so does mindware – the brains that run the marketing efforts. Make sure you hire the best and retain them – and work with a recruitment specialist if you need to offer specialized services as part of your strategy to identify the right resources.

8. Content and Context

Marketers are turning increasingly to content in their digital strategy – from social media to blogs to personalized emails. “Content is King” is being shouted from the mountaintops, but the fundamental truth emerging is that while content may be king, context is key. Content without an audience, no matter how brilliant, will miss the mark every time. Your strategy needs to have a solid content plan, which actually maps out how and where that content is going to be used to target your audience. Here are 8 Must Have Steps to Unleash the Power of Content Marketing for your Brand

Once you get these right, make sure you avoid certain crucial mistakes that marketers make today.

Remember, that these are your strategy pillars. Here are a few digital marketing focus areas that you then need to focus on – these are driving digital marketing strategies in 2016. That's the basics. That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Take advantage of Facebook's new Vertical Video format

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Wake up. Digital marketing's two biggest buzzwords now are 'mobile' and 'vertical'.

Facebook's News Feed for mobile will soon feature a vertical video format according to Marketing Land. While the format won't be as vertical perfect as Snapchat is, but it will apparently stop cropping and showing them as tiny squares.

Vertical on Facebook mobile News Feed

The publication says when the update rolls out for Android and iOS, you'll start seeing vertical videos with a 2:3 aspect ratio (as opposed to 1:1) on your News Feed without having to expand them. "We know that people enjoy more immersive experiences on Facebook, so we're starting to display a larger portion of each vertical video in News Feed on mobile," a spokesperson told Marketing Land.

By showing a larger, near full screen version of vertical videos, people too lazy to view them in full screen are more likely to watch them till the end. Facebook has not officially announced when the feature will go live, but Mashable said the update's going out in the coming weeks.

image courtesy Adweek

Why vertical format for video?

Snapchat's entire business model is built on vertical. Smartphones are held upright rather than sideways most often, so full-screen video in a vertical format is becoming a darling of brands. Remember the vertical ad Jeep did at Superbowl this year? It seemed silly to air that on a tv spot, but it was a clever way of ensuring that it looked perfect when shared later on mobile.

On Facebook, marketers and users have already been able to upload vertical videos, but such clips have appeared as squares until the user taps the post—then the videos go vertical. Ruby Tuesday, Mountain Dew, Mashable, GE, Axe and Budweiser are among the brands testing the feature in its early stages, according to AdWeek.

According to analyst Mary Meeker, users use vertically oriented devices nearly 30 percent of the time, up from just 5 percent in 2010. And more than 7 billion videos are viewed each day on Snapchat, which is specifically designed for vertical consumption.

Abandon traditional video for mobile?

Periscope, Meerkat, and even YouTube have latched onto the concept, and now with Facebook's planned format in vertical, traditional creators and designers are going to re-think video format. Perhaps it's time to abandon the horizontal when aiming for mobile engagement. From concept to execution, the agencies that produce videos for brands have to find new content concepts and techniques to film scenes and subjects. Close-ups of people work well vertically. Without a vertically conceived concept, video has to be shot twice, doubling production time and money. The whole genre needs a bit of moving away from traditional content planning.

Our phones are vertically rectangular.  Where are phone-filmed vertical videos the most often viewed? On a vertically-held phone! Instagram and Snapchat—the biggest offenders of horizontal formats. These are phone videos meant for phones. After all, why should both the shooter and viewer be forced to twist their phones sideways all the time when viewing? So, if you want better engagement on your videos, think vertical. It's all about shifting your brand mindset to mobile first (see related post link below).

Get your brand ready

Considering the success platforms like Snapchat have had with vertical video, particularly among millennial and Gen Z users, the new feature should be a hit. You don't need to have huge investments to take advantage of the format. Even today's latest smartphones can be used to create compelling video in vertical format. What you do need to is invest some time and effort in planning the content that best creates a well executed, immersive, engaging video. Remember, the format is 9:16.

While shooting vertically can present simple logistical problems (what’s the best way to secure a camera sideways on a tripod?), the unorthodox orientation forces producers to alter their shot compositions and techniques regardless of how the video is shot.

Be prepared for this buzzing new trend in digital marketing that's hot on vertical video. That's the basics. And that's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Also read these related posts:

• Shifting the brand mindset to Mobile First

• Here's how to Power up your Facebook engagement with Video

• Why you should directly upload videos to Facebook.

• How to use Facebook Live video like a pro. The essentials of getting it right.

• How VR and 360 degree video is changing advertising and content marketing

6 Actionable SEO Tips to get better rankings in Search

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Here are six simple, actionable tips to help your site's SEO efforts. Even if you don't have time to do a complete site audit and SEO driven overhaul of all content, you should focus on getting these simple ways to instantly improve your SEO driven rankings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

1. Include all your most important page links on your home page

Your home page is the most important page for search engines and it attracts more links than any other page on your site. You should include links to your most important products (or the ones that you most want to rank) in the body of the home page. If you don’t have product or category pages, then feature articles and landing pages in the body. Creating clear, prominent links on your home page is useful from a user experience standpoint as well, because it ensures people can easily find your most important content quickly.

2. Leverage microsites, articles, posts, videos not on your site

Over time, you probably have created microsites, videos on YouTube, blog posts, and content on other sites that are not present on your own website. You won't get any SEO benefit unless all that content has links back to relevant pages on your own site. From a SEO stand point, it's best to have all content on your owned site, but when you don't, ensure as much as you can that all other sites, posts, social content etc link back to your site.

3. Optimize the design of your site – stop using large images

Being in the advertising business, I often have to chastise our creative folks for using large images on websites they design. Designers often don’t consider the file size or resolution of an image before adding it to a page. They don't reduce an image to the maximum size needed on the page, save it at an appropriate resolution.

A huge image can substantially slow down the time it takes for the page to load, hurting both rankings and the user experience (and consequently, the site’s conversion rate). And images should be named and alt-tagged properly. Images help SEO. It  easy to optimize that image to a more reasonable size and then re-upload it. This is a quick fix from a SEO perspective.

4. Use forums and social media to keep track of valuable keywords

Stay ahead of the competition in the game by following what's happening in the news around your brand or product categories. Promptly use a valuable keyword before any one else by monitoring conversations in social media and in forums within your niche. Notice a recurring mention or a recurring question? Find a way to work it into your site’s content. Having that content first, before your competitors, can give you an advantage, not only in thought leadership, but in ranking and traffic as well.

5. Use snippets in your SEO descriptions

Rich, properly written snippets really help your SEO, as well as provide a great way to get your mention on a Search page to get clicked on. Rich snippets help you stand out from the crowd ≠ specially in combination with an enticing meta description and title tag. Snippets may not directly affect your rankings, but they help in driving more visits to your pages.

6. Kill those 404 dead links

Identify URLs that show a 404 message on your site and have external links pointed at them. Google Search Console gives you the ability to check the 404 pages on your site and see whether they are being linked to (and from where). If you have a externally linked page which returns a 404, prioritize fixing it ASAP, as you are squandering link authority every minute that remains unfixed. Recovering that link equity and/or traffic is a very easy “quick win.”

Update your site frequently. Sites with dynamic content often rank higher than those with static content, and follow the simple tips above.

That in a nutshell is how to make some simple effective steps towards Search Engine Optimization or SEO on your website or blog. That's the basics. And that's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Now read these posts on SEO:

7 Things you need to bullet proof your SEO

Search made Simple: Understanding SEO and SEM in 2016

6 Ways to Be There in Today's Search Driven World

Make Display Advertising work harder for your brand

2m to read / 

It's not difficult to make display advertising campaigns work hard for your brand. Follow these simple tips to succeed by reaching the right audiences with the right message at the right time with relevant and compelling display ads.

With so much talk about "banner blindness", some brands have started to lose interest in display advertising. When done right creatively, and using the right targeting and placement, display ads are still very relevant. Wall Street Journal reports that the market for display ads is projected to double in the next five years, thanks to new innovations that are taking place in display advertising.

Start with insights

Start with customer insights. That's your first step (see post link at bottom of page). These insights are both market related and from tracking your website and app conversions. Although it is important to keep all touch points that lead to conversion, keep your display and search campaigns separate. They reach your audiences in different need states and contexts.

Once you have insights from your website traffic, re-engage past visitors with remarketing. People visit a website around 6 times in a typical purchase journey. Re-engaging them when they are most likely to convert is key. Also, expand your target base by using effective keyword targeting and audiences that are already in-market. Programmatic (see link below) can help automate your targeting and optimize your campaigns.

With target audience insights, and measuring click-thru rates to your site, you can further "hypertarget" your audience according to specifics like age or gender. There are several new ways for marketers to use innovative mobile technology to create hyper-targeted local campaigns that appear on relevant consumers' smartphones.

Design and Creative

Vary your creative using both text and image ads in multiple sizes and varying formats. Google tells us that "advertisers who actively use both text and image ads, on average, see up to 40% more conversions without increasing their cost-per-acquisition". Intent is key here and matching the message to the consumer need of the moment is critical (Intent is the new black in digital marketing. In-the-moment marketing is what's hot.)

Design of your display ad campaign material is also important. Design unique ads so they complement the look and feel of the site you’re targeting. Ensure that you have each ad creative in every possible ad size in each ad group to achieve the widest reach.

Don't forget the absolute importance of a strong Call to Action. Ensuring your call-to-action is short and precise, and that it includes an actionable verb, is a sure shot to conversions.

One other key factor is how the promise works with the delivery. Most display ads today highlight a specific offer, but when you click through, they lead you to a landing page that has nothing to do with the original offer. Not only does this result in confusion, but it can also be a missed opportunity for your brand. And it leaves a pretty negative impression.

Test your ads

Like you would vary text ad copy, try out different Calls to Action (CTAs), new offers or promotions or even price points, new colour schemes, and new images. Make sure you only change one thing at a time so you can see what provided the effect.

Specify where your ads will show

Make sure you exclude inappropriate categories from your campaigns to block your ads from showing on content you do not want your brand related with.

Keep mobile in mind. Think mobile first.

Keep mobile in mind for every ad in your campaign. You can even have a part of your campaign to appear in mobile apps if that is appropriate for your brand and campaign. Mobile offers limited real estate, so your creative should keep that in mind.

Shifting the brand mindset to Mobile First

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In many markets, about a third of people use only their mobile to make purchase decisions. This really calls for brands to shift their mindsets to mobile first as a brand marketing strategy.

Customer Intent is key

Understanding customer intent is critical to delivering on the customer need. Intent is the new black in digital marketing (see post link below). Google has defined four key moments when we are online. When a need arises, consumers quickly turn to Search on, say a Google and a YouTube to find a resolution to that need. These needs arise when a consumer wants to know something, wants to go somewhere (on a holiday, to a restaurant, to a business location), wants to do something and wants to buy something. Simply put, these are the four basic need states that digital marketing needs to answer.

A new world order: Mobile First

The brand marketer's mindset needs to wake up to this new mobile first world. A surprising amount of people go through the whole decision making and purchase process entirely on mobile. It's a huge shift in consumer behavior, not merely a device trend. With the huge increase in mobile consumption, we're now discovering the power of consumer intent as it happens, moment by moment.

With processing power, storage, and bandwidth increasing exponentially, smart phones are increasingly becoming the device of choice for interacting with brands, gathering information, sharing, and purchasing products.

Mobile First isn't about just design. It's an overall strategy

Today, your website being mobile friendly is not enough. The shift from mobile ready to mobile first is what matters. And I am not talking mobile first as a design philosophy. Mobile first is key to your digital marketing strategy.

Today brands are able to interact with customers any time, any where and and engage in a meaningful dialog with them. Rather than throw a bunch of advertising messages out and hope your customers not only see them but also act on them, you now have the opportunity, via mobile, to engage your customers directly with the precise information they need at the moment they need it to make a buying decision. That alone is a big reason to develop a comprehensive mobile first strategy as soon as you can.

Understanding the context and providing content

It is a part of the context of the user. So, what device am I on? Where am I? What time is it? What situation am I in? All of these signals provide an opportunity to deliver personalized experiences, and as marketers, our job is to try to address these moments with the right content.

e-Consultnacy tells us that research by xAd has highlighted how crucial mobile is in the path to purchase. In a survey of 1,500 consumers, 39% cited a smartphone as the most important tool used to research a product. What’s more, 29% admitted that it was the only tool they used to make a purchasing decision.

With 56% of consumers buying immediately or within the hour after researching, the ‘always on’ nature of mobile means that marketers need to place more focus on engaging consumers in the right time and place.

Remember, mobile first is key to your digital marketing strategy. Please read the posts below for more insights on mobile as part of your marketing strategy. Getting the basics right is key. That's part of your Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Now read this:

Intent is the new black in digital marketing. In-the-moment marketing is what's hot.