It’s time to talk about the internet

Although this isn’t about digital marketing, we all play in the same sandbox and Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, has a few thoughts about how we can make the internet a better place for everyone.

ColorBlind Images / Getty Images

The internet is broken. Starting from scratch, here’s how I’d fix it

My big idea is that we have to fix the internet. After forty years, it has begun to corrode, both itself and us. It is still a marvelous and miraculous invention, but now there are bugs in the foundation, bats in the belfry, and trolls in the basement.

I do not mean this to be one of those technophobic rants dissing the Internet for rewiring our brains to give us the twitchy attention span of Donald Trump on Twitter or pontificating about how we have to log off and smell the flowers. Those qualms about new technologies have existed ever since Plato fretted that the technology of writing would threaten memorization and oratory. I love the internet and all of its digital offshoots. What I bemoan is its decline.

There is a bug in its original design that at first seemed like a feature but has gradually, and now rapidly, been exploited by hackers and trolls and malevolent actors: its packets are encoded with the address of their destination but not of their authentic origin. With a circuit-switched network, you can track or trace back the origins of the information, but that’s not true with the packet-switched design of the internet.

Read the rest HERE

Social Media: Boost your career

Remember the post, Social media: Is it time to quit? – here’s an interesting response:

Hayden Maynard, nytimes.com
Hayden Maynard, nytimes.com
Don’t Quit Social Media. Put It to Work for Your Career Instead.

As director of digital communications and social media at the career site Monster, I read Cal Newport’s recent Preoccupations column, “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It,” with great interest. Mr. Newport argues that social media is harmful for careers because it is too much of a distraction and doesn’t provide a valuable return on investment professionally.

As someone who spends the majority of his work time on social media helping people find careers they’ll love, I disagree with his assessment. I believe that you should not quit social media — and that doing so will actually damage your career.

Understandably, you might be questioning my motives — “Hey, this guy does social media for a living, so clearly he’s got a vested stake in this matter.” Well, you’re right. But let’s start with the point that I’m not the only one who makes a career doing this: Just one platform, Facebook, has created more than 4.5 million social media industry jobs globally, according to a study conducted by Deloitte. Talk about literal career benefits. The number of people in the creative industries, advertising and more who make a living on social media is probably much higher…

Read the rest HERE.

Who else wants to create a fantastic social media proposal?

It’s always best to personalize your approach with a potential client, but here is a link to helpful tips on what you need to include in the proposal. Best of luck and go get ’em!

“Well-written social media proposals are key to closing deals. If you’re a writer or marketer, your sales team probably needs your help writing those proposals, too. If you’re working solo, you might need to show why you’re a better option than a high-priced agency (or another freelancer or consultant).”

Read the rest: How To Quickly Build Social Media Proposals That Win Clients

For folks wondering about B2B social selling

More and more folks prefer to get information online than engage a salesperson, searching out “objective” information from internet recommendations. Three out of four B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions. In a recent B2B buyers survey, 53% of the respondents reported that social media plays a role in assessing tools and technologies, and when making a final selection.

Good time to read up on how to sell B2B in today’s environment.

How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling

Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. In fact, a recent survey found that connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1%, and only 24% of outbound sales emails are ever opened. Meanwhile, 84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions.

Why are more and more buyers avoiding salespeople during the buying process? Sales reps, according to Forrester, tend to prioritize a sales agenda over solving a customer’s problem. If organizations don’t change their outdated thinking and create effective sales models for today’s digital era, Forrester warns that 1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce by 2020.

Read the rest of How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling

‘Best practices’ may not be best after all

“According to best practices…”

How many times have we heard this hoary phrase? It can be especially interesting to hear when used as an one-note explanation for doing things a certain way. So, let’s take a step back.

When someone states their position/request because it is “best practice,” the first question that—should—come to mind is, “According to whom?”

It might be a best practice if one must use “best practices” in a sentence, by taking ownership of this non-concrete term: “According to what I [understand/have read/have been told/just made up/etc.], this is my take on best practices.”

Don’t attribute it to the ubiquitous “they” or an “industry standard.” Also, be prepared to share the source(s). By owning one’s take on best practices, a condescending and dismissive tone is bypassed.

Best practices in any situation is subjective and should remain flexible. Better yet, don’t get lazy and throw a term around that has no meaning or relevance, as there really is no such thing.


For more thought leadership on this in Forbes, read:  Best Practices – Aren’t where Mike Myatt @mikemyatt explains, “too much common management wisdom is not wise at all, but instead flawed knowledge based on a misunderstanding or misapplication of ‘best practices’ that often constitutes poor, incomplete or outright obsolete thinking.”

Social media meltdowns highlight the power of the audience

“The audience has more control than anyone realizes.”

Well, except for those who spend their days with social. We see it all the time and most recently with Martin Shkreli, who backed down after pursuing a doomed and short-lived battle against the internet.

Although the below article is over a year old, it was a harbinger for traditional media, whose more entrenched practitioners still cling to the old notion that they can be the gatekeepers of the message, story, opinion, etc. No longer. The power has shifted to the audience, and the following article did a great job of explaining it.

The Travel Channel's Adam Richman, last year at a charity event in Los Angeles, had his new show indefinitely postponed after telling a critic via social media to "grab a razor blade and draw a bath."
The Travel Channel’s Adam Richman, last year at a charity event in Los Angeles, had his new show indefinitely postponed after telling a critic via social media to “grab a razor blade and draw a bath.”

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment

At first glance, Adam Richman and Anthony Cumia might not seem to have much in common.

True enough, they are media stars who took a hard fall thanks to untoward comments on social media. Richman, a host on the Travel Channel, saw the debut of his new show delayed indefinitely after an online spat led him to suggest one critic commit suicide.

Cumia, half of the infamous Opie & Anthony shock jock radio duo, was dumped by SiriusXM after using the c-word on Twitter to describe a black woman he said punched him. The shock jock said she objected to being included in pictures he was taking.

He then spent a lot of time on social media talking about “savage violent animal(s)” who “prey on white people,” noting “she’s lucky I was a white legal gun owner,” and that “there’s a deep seeded [sic] problem with violence in the black community.” Later, he insisted he was not saying anything racist; Gawker saved the posts so you can see for yourself (warning: It’s seriously NSFW).

For some, this is the story of how a Twitter fight can get out of control. But I say both Richman and Cumia were kneecapped by the new reality of modern media:

The audience has more control than anyone realizes.

When you think about how social media works, this makes perfect sense. Online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram take authority from the gatekeepers of media, which once controlled access to large audiences — newspapers, TV networks, cable channels and radio stations. Instead, that power is handed to anyone who can create compelling content.

I found this out when I tweeted a message about the music CBS This Morning played toward the end of a segment on Nelson Mandela’s death. I posted a quick jibe about the use of Toto’s hit “Africa” as a brief observation. But the Twitterverse decided it meant more, sparking enough stories in places like Slate and The Huffington Post that a co-founder of the band eventually weighed in (in my favor, I might add).

In the old media days, an individual’s impact was limited, unless they could get the gatekeepers involved — get a story on the local news, a letter in the newspaper or a call into the local radio station. No more.

When Richman began responding to critics who said his hashtag #thinspiration referenced a phrase popular with anorexics, he eventually suggested one “grab a razor blade and draw a bath. I doubt anyone will miss you.” Amid the controversy, Travel Channel executives delayed the planned debut of his new show, Man Finds Food,which in turn put a crimp in Richman’s plans to showcase his return to TV hosting after losing more than 70 pounds. (He has since released an apology calling his remarks “inexcusable.”)

This isn’t so much about hurt feelings as it is about marketing and branding. The real value of a media personality like Richman or Cumia is the fan loyalty they inspire, which can then be transferred onto other TV shows or products. So when the host’s brand gets damaged in the public space, their value drops.

Anthony Cumia, at an April event commemorating 20 years of The Opie & AnthonyShow, was fired after a series of racially charged tweets.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images Entertainment

Shock jock Cumia faces a different media issue. Radio personalities in his line of work walk a thin line: pushing boundaries enough to satisfy their audience, but facing the risk of widespread public rejection if their offensive shtick becomes widely known by too many people outside the fan circle.

Cumia forgot that his way of talking about such stuff might be acceptable to his regular fans — people inside the closed loop of his satellite radio show and regular Twitter followers. But once his words spilled out into the general public, he found another reaction (just ask Don Imus how painful that can be).

One other thing both Cumia and Richman have in common: Both their social media meltdowns occurred outside their regular jobs. This, of course, is something even the Kardashians learned long ago: Celebrity is a brand that reaches beyond whatever you do for a living into the rest of your life.

And since social media turns everyone into a brand anyway, every interaction there affects a star’s brand — and their possible employment — regardless of whether it happens on the clock or not.

Evidence of the audience’s new power ranges beyond Cumia and Richman. Successful Kickstarter campaigns for the Veronica Mars movie and Reading Rainbow kids TV series have given fans the ability to vote with their wallets to save dead shows. Moves by Netflix and Yahoo to resurrect Fox’s Arrested Development and NBC’s Communityalso shows the power of a vocal niche audience to push programmers into action.

My hunch is that both men will be fine. Travel Channel is probably just waiting for the dust to settle before launching Richman’s new show. More than 21,000 people already have signed a Change.org petition to get Cumia his job back as he plans a new show from his home. In fact, there’s a drive to cancel Sirius subscriptions in support of Cumia that’s building — where else? — on Twitter.

Still, everyone in this new media universe should learn from Cumia and Richman’s example.

Power is shifting to the audience. Stars who ignore that change do so at their own peril.

ERIC DEGGANS
Original POST

Seven thoughts on effective social campaigns

The original hed was The 7 Secrets to the Most Effective Social-Media Campaigns which was a little click-baity for my tastes but, nonetheless, the post had some good tidbits. My biggest takeaway? “Filter out mobile traffic” on paid social ads, which after reading, made sense. What do you think?

I’ve resisted social media advertising for a long time, believing that there are a host of free tools and free strategies that can help your business grow on social media organically.

What I’ve come to find out (and I’d imagine many of you have discovered this already) is this:

If you’re spending money to advertise online, social media ads may very well earn you the biggest returns.

(In some cases, it’s the cheapest way to reach people.) 

There are so many inspiring digital marketers who are pioneering the best practices and cool strategies for social media advertising. As we dip our toes further into social ads here at Buffer, it’s been fun to discover all the great tips we might try. I’ve collected seven of my favorite ones here in this blog post—a list of simple, actionable tips that drive successful social media ads. 

I’d love to hear in the comments any strategies you might add!

1. Create multiple versions of the ad

When we write headlines for Buffer blog posts, we often come up with a big handful of options (15 or more headlines per post when we can manage it) so that we can test and see what works best.

The same idea works with social media ads.

When you read about a successful social media ad, it’s likely that the ad has gone through a few key variations based on these actions:

  1. Write several versions of ad copy
  2. Test different images
  3. Adjust and hone your target audience

In the comments of our post on Facebook advertising budgets, Lucie shared this great tidbit about how to gauge what’s working and what’s not:

I always have several versions of the ad and anything with lower than 1.5% CTR after few hours I deactivate.

The strategy then would look something like this:

  1. Create lots of ad variations
  2. Check often to see what’s working
  3. Deactivate the lowest performers and try something new

In terms of testing out different ad copy, there are many popular recommendations for what might work (including a few ideas I’ll share below). This SlideShare from e-CBD, while a couple years old, has some interesting ideas for things to try: power words, time prompts (“now,” “limited time”), and question marks.

Question Marks in social media ads

For images, you can test things like product pictures, people and faces, evenmemes.

And when it comes to custom audiences, there are some great tactics on different ways to hone in on a segment that converts (probably enough tactics for a post of its own, which we’d love to cover separately). One bit of advice I’ve found helpful in thinking through things is another useful comment on our Facebook Ads post, from Bill Grunau:

You want to cast a large net, BUT not try to scoop up the entire ocean.

A target audience of 3,000 to 5,000 is very, very small. For FB ads it should be in the high five or six figures as a minimum. If it is many millions then it is likely too big.

2. Use the “Learn More” button

When creating ads for the Facebook News Feed, you get the chance to include one of seven buttons with your ad.

If in doubt, it’s best to choose a button instead of no button.

And the best button of all? The “Learn More” button.

Learn More button

You can add the button in the bottom section of the Facebook Ads editor. These are the seven button options to choose from:

  1. Shop Now
  2. Book Now
  3. Learn More
  4. Sign Up
  5. Download
  6. Watch More
  7. Contact Us

The theory behind why this button works is that it helps focus your ad to an even greater degree, like a Mario mushroom for your already great copy. Adding a button enhances the call-to-action and primes a reader to take the action.

As for which button works best, you’re might notice that one fits your niche particularly well (“Book Now,” for instance, would be great for vacation spots). For the “Learn More” button, there seems to be growing evidence that it’s the best overall bet for engagement.

Noah Kagan found that “Learn More” converted better than the other optionsand better than using no button at all.

And Facebook ad tool Heyo ran an A/B test to see the effect that the “Learn More” button had, compared to no button at all. The result: a 63.6% increase in conversions and 40% decrease in cost-per-click just from the Learn More.

Heyo Facebook ads test

3. Create a custom landing page

If the goal of your social media ad is conversions—sales, signups, what-have-you—then you’ll want to think not only of the ad itself but also where a person might end up once they click.

Picture social media ads as a two-step process:

  1. Create the ad
  2. Create the destination 

Some of the most successful social media advertising campaigns include custom landing pages, where the copy carries over from the ad and the action crystal clear.

The more targeted your ad, the more targeted your landing page needs to be.

You’ll see this often with e-commerce ads that do a great job targeting a single product and then send the person from the ad to the main product page, full of menus and related products and all sorts of potentially distracting (albeit eminently useful) places to click.

Siddharth Bharath, writing at Unbounce, suggests a click-through landing page, which is an intermediate page between an ad and a final destination (shopping cart, for instance).

This keeps the focus on the offer – the reason the prospect clicked – and leaves them with two options: buy now or lose the deal forever.

As Unbounce describes it:

Videos or product images paired with a description and product benefits help to persuade the visitor to click the call-to-action.

click-through-landing-page-th

Socialmouths shared five key elements of these social media ad landing pages.

  1. Goal-Driven Copy Length
  2. Limited Form Fields
  3. Key Visuals
  4. Responsive, i.e., “Mobile-ready,” Design
  5. A Single Call to Action

Of these, the single call-to-action stands out as a potentially quite key element.

Also of note, the goal-driven copy length suggests the idea that there could be multiple goals for your social media campaign, something like a spectrum from immediate goals to long-term goals or sales/lead-gen to awareness/education. In general, a landing page for an immediate goal has short copy. A landing page for a long-term goal has long copy.

4. Mention price up front

Another interesting tip from Siddharth Bharath involves the idea of pre-qualifying your traffic. Essentially, it works like this:

You only want people clicking through to your ad who are comfortable paying the price for your product. 

The key then is to share your product’s price early.

Udemy price ad

Doing so will help qualify the traffic that heads to your landing page. Instead of filtering out people when they reach your pricing page, you can do so before they even click—thereby saving you pay-per-click costs that wouldn’t have amounted to a conversion.

The goal, in other words, wouldn’t be about people clicking your ad. The goal would be people clicking your ad and eventually buying your product or service.

5. Promote a discount

In a survey of Facebook users67 percent of people said they were likely to click on a discount offer. 

A simple strategy for a successful social media ad: Mention a discount in your copy.

In a really cool case study from Hautelook, the clothing website ran a 50% off sale on their Diane Von Furstenberg line. Mentioning a discount in their ads led to a huge sales day—the third largest sales day in company history.

Hautelook discount

And discounts don’t necessarily always need to be tied to huge sales events. At Buffer for instance, we have three different pricing options (free, Awesome,Business), and at the Awesome price the price is lower when paying a year in advance rather than month-to-month. It’s kind of a built-in discount and one we could explore using in our social media ad copy.

6. Filter out mobile traffic

When creating a social media ad, you’ll typically have the option of segmenting the audience by a number of factors, including those using a desktop/laptop versus a mobile device.

To fully optimize your conversion rate, show your ad to those on desktops and laptops. Don’t show your ad on mobile.

This slide deck from Ad Espresso (a Facebook ads management tool) does a great job explaining the differences between types of social media ad placement, particularly on Facebook.

 

The mobile News Feed is great for mobile app installs and engagement. It’s tough to get website conversions.

Here’s the key slide:

Facebook mobile news feed ads

Noah Kagan also mentions excluding mobile traffic in his steps for getting started with Facebook ads.

Avoid showing your ads to mobile traffic. Most likely your page is not mobile designed and that traffic is less likely to purchase or sign up for an email address. 

That last sentiment seems key here: Mobile visitors are less likely to convert to a sign up or a sale. If conversions are the goal of your social ad campaign, then it might be great to focus solely on the desktop audience.

A couple of additional notes here also:

  1. Not only do the most successful social media ads hone in on the device type, they also keep in mind the location of the ad. Typically sidebar display ads—like those offered by Twitter or Facebook—see lower click through numbers (they’re recommended as a great option for retargeting). The best results are those that appear natively in the News Feed or timeline. Ezra Firestone calls these “advertisements that blend in with the platform.”
  2. Removing mobile display from your ads is an often-recommended strategy, though there’s definitely two sides to the discussion. Brian Honigman,writing at SumAll, mentions that your ads should focus on mobile first in order to capture the huge volume of Facebook traffic that accesses the site from mobile devices.

7. Focus on relevance score

facebook-ad-relevance-score-performance-10

When I wrote about our Facebook Ads experiments a few weeks back, I was so grateful for all the advice and learnings that folks shared in the comments. This bit from Lucie has stuck with me:

I test my ad on a small budget and see the relevance score first. If it is less than 8/10, it means I should adjust my targeting. If it is higher, then I know I hit the nail on the head.

Jon Loomer wrote a detailed breakdown of Facebook’s relevance score, explaining what it is and how it’s calculated.

Briefly, relevance score helps explain the way Facebook views your ad and why it might prefer certain ads you’ve created versus others.

Facebook says they use relevance score to determine “expected” interaction with your ad.

Relevance score is calculated based on actual and expected positive and negative feedback from the ad’s target audience. The score is updated in real-time as users interact with and provide feedback — both positive and negative — with that ad.

Positive feedback includes people liking, commenting, and sharing your ad and also any desired actions taken with your ad (clicks to website for instance).

Negative feedback includes those instances when people hide your ad or ask not to see ads from you.

It’s all delivered on a 1 to 10 scale and based on real interactions with your ad; there’s a 500 daily impressions minimum in order to receive your first score.

From Lucie and Jon’s advice, there are a couple of great takeaways and strategies on how successful social media ads look at relevance score.

  1. Test your ad with a small budget first, to see where your relevance score lies. Once you achieve relevance of 8/10 or higher, then promote the ad more heavily.
  2. Since relevance scores update in real time, check your ads often. If the score dips below 8/10, adjust the ad.

(This second point hints at a higher-level bit of advice with social media ads: Don’t just set ’em and forget ’em. Consistent, active monitoring is key.)

Summary

As we’re in the early stages of testing out social media ads at Buffer, it’s a real privilege to be able to learn from those who have gone before us, trying and testing to see what works in social ads. We’re excited to take all the great advice here and use it in our own experiments and campaigns.

One of the best blueprints I’ve seen for creating a social media ad (particularly a Facebook ad) is this brief list from Noah Kagan, which condenses a lot of the sentiment from the above strategies.

  1. Call to action: Choose “Learn More”
  2. Headline: Give away something for free
  3. Text: Social proof showing why the reader should care
  4. Link Description: Give call to action for them to get benefit

Try to create an ad that uses natural text versus something that seems like an advertisement.

What have you found works well for you with social media ads?

 

Original POST

 

KEVAN LEE
FROM BUFFER
Content Crafter. Buffer