How to Use Facebook Lookalike Audiences With Custom Audiences

Want to expand your ad reach on Facebook? Looking for new ways to target potential customers? To explore creative ways to combine Facebook lookalike audiences with custom ad audiences, I interview Rick Mulready. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to

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Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The lessons Rand has learned from building and growing Moz are almost old enough to drive. From marketing flywheels versus growth hacks, to product launch timing, to knowing your audience intimately, Rand shares his best advice from a decade and a half of marketing Moz in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.

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Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are going to chat about some of the big lessons learned for me personally building this company, building Moz over the last 16, 17 years.

Back in February, I left the company full-time. I’m still the Chairman of the Board and contribute in some ways, including an occasional Whiteboard Friday here and there. But what I wanted to do as part of this book that I’ve written, that’s just coming out April 24th, Lost and Founder, is talk about some of the elements in there, maybe even give you a sneak peek.

If you’re thinking, “Well, what are the two or three chapters that are super relevant to me?” let me try and walk you through a little bit of what I feel like I’ve taken away and what I’m going to change going forward, especially stuff that’s applicable to those of us in web marketing, in SEO, and in broader marketing.

Marketing flywheels > growth hacks

First off, marketing flywheels, in my experience, almost always beat growth hacks. I know that growth hacks are trendy in the last few years, especially in the startup and technology worlds. There’s been this sort of search for the next big growth hack that’s going to transform our business. But I’ve got to be honest with you. Not just here at Moz, but in all of the companies that I’ve had experience with as a marketer, this tends to be what that looks like when it’s implemented.

So folks will find a hack. They’ll find some trick that works for a little while, and it results in this type of a spike in their traffic, their conversions, their success metrics of whatever kind. So they’ve discovered a way to game Facebook or they found this new black hat trick or they found this great conversion device. Whatever it is, it’s short term and short lasting. Why is this? It tends to be because of something Andrew Chen calls — and I’ll use his euphemism here — it’s called the “Law of Shitty Click-through Rates,” which essentially says that over time, as people get experienced with a sort of marketing trend, they become immune to its effects.

Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz - Whiteboard Friday

You can see this in anything that sort of tries to hack at consciousness or take advantage of psychological biases. So you get this pattern of hack, hack, hack, hack, and then none of the hacks you’re doing work anymore. Even if you have a tremendously successful one, even if this is six months in length, it tends to be the case that, over time, those diminish and decline.

Conversely, a marketing flywheel is something that you build that generates inertia and energy, such that each effort and piece of energy that you put into it helps it spin faster and faster, and it carries through. It takes less energy to turn it around again and again in the future after you’ve got it up and spinning. This is how a lot of great marketing works. You build a brand. You build your audience. They come to you. They help it amplify. They bring more and more people back. In the web marketing world, this works really well too.

Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz - Whiteboard Friday

So most of you are familiar with Moz’s flywheel, but I’ll try and give it a rough explanation here. We start down here with content ideas that we get from spending lots of time with SEOs. We do keyword research, and we optimize these posts, including look at Whiteboard Friday itself.

What do we do with Whiteboard Friday? You’re watching this video, but you’ll also see the transcript below. You’ll see the podcast version from SoundCloud so that you can listen to the text rather than watch me if you can do audio only for some reason. Each of these little images have been cut out and placed into the text below so that someone who’s searching in Google images might find some of these and find their way to Whiteboard Friday. A few months after it goes up here, hosted with Wistia on Moz, it will be put up on YouTube.com so that people can find it there.

So we’ve done all these sorts of things to optimize these posts. We publish them, and then we earn amplification through all the channels that we have — email, social media, certainly search engines are a big one for us. Then we grow our reach for next time.

Early in the days, early in Moz’s history, when I was first publishing, I was writing every blog post myself for many, many years. This was tremendously difficult. We weren’t getting much reach. Now, it’s an engine that turns on its own. So each time we do it, we earn more SEO ranking ability, more links, more other positive ranking signals. The next time we publish content, it has an even better chance of doing well. So Moz’s flywheel keeps spinning, keeps getting faster and faster, and it’s easier and easier. Each time I film Whiteboard Friday, I’m a little more experienced. I’ve gotten a little better at it.

Flywheels come in many different forms

Flywheels come in a lot of forms. It’s not just the classic content and SEO one that we’re describing here, although I know many of you who watch Whiteboard Friday probably use something similar. But press and PR is a big one that many folks use. I know companies that are built on primarily event marketing, and they have that same flywheel going for them. In advertising, folks have found these, in influencer-focused marketing flywheels, and community and user-generated content to build flywheels. All of these are ways to do that.

Find friction in your flywheels

If and when you find friction in your flywheel, like I did back in my early days, that’s when a hack is really helpful. If you can get a hack going to grow reach for next time, for example, in my early days, this was all about doing outreach to folks in the SEO space who were already influential, getting them to pay attention and help amplify Moz’s content. That was the hack that I needed. Essentially, it was a combination of the Beginner’s Guide to SEO and the Search Ranking Factors document, which I’ve described here. But that really helped grow reach for next time and made this flywheel start spinning in the way that we wanted. So I would urge you to favor flywheels over hacks.

Marketing an MVP is hard

Second one, marketing an MVP kind of sucks. It’s just awful. Great products are rarely minimum viable products. The MVP is a wonderful way to build. I really, really like what Eric Ries has done with that movement, where he’s taken this concept of build the smallest possible thing you can that still solves the user’s problem, the customer’s problem and launch that so that you can learn and iterate from it.

I just have one complaint, which is if you do that publicly, if you launch your MVP publicly and you’re already a brand that’s well known, you really hurt your reputation. No one ever thinks this. No one ever thinks, “Gosh, you know, Moz launched their first version of new tool X. It’s pretty terrible, but I can see how, with a few years of work, it’s going to be an amazing product. I really believe in them.” No one thinks that way.

What do you think? You think, “Moz launched this product. Why did they launch it? It’s kind of terrible. Are they going downhill? Do they suck now? Maybe I should I trust their other tools less.” That’s how most people think when it comes to an MVP, and that’s why it’s so dangerous.

Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz - Whiteboard Friday

So I made this silly chart here. But if the quality goes from crap to best in class and the amplification worthiness goes from zero to viral, it tends to be the case that most MVPs are launching way down here, when they’re barely good enough and thus have almost no amplification potential and really can’t do much for your marketing other than harm it.

If you instead build it internally, build that MVP internally, test with your beta group, and wait until it gets all the way up to this quality level of, “Wow, that’s really good,” and lots of people who are using it say, “Gosh, I couldn’t live without this. I want to share it with my friends. I want to tell everyone about this. Is it okay to tell people yet?” Maybe it’s starting to leak. Now, you’re up here. Now, your launch can really do something. We have seen exactly that happen many, many times here at Moz with both MVPs and MVPs where we sat on them and waited. I talk about some of these in the book.

MVPs, great to test internally with a private group. They’re also fine if you’re really early stage and no one has heard of you. But MVPs can seriously drag down reputation and perception of a brand’s quality and equity, which is why I generally recommend against them, especially for marketing.

Living the lives of your customer/audience is a startup + marketing cheat code

Last, but not least, living the lives of your customers or your audience is a cheat code. It is a marketing and startup cheat code. One of the best things that I have ever done is to say, “You know what? I am not going to sequester myself in my office dreaming up this great thing I think we should build or I think that we should do. Instead, I’m going to spend real time with our customers.”

Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz - Whiteboard Friday

So you might remember, at the end of 2013, I did this crazy project with my friend, Wil Reynolds, who runs Seer Interactive. They’re an SEO agency based here in the United States, in Philadelphia and San Diego. They do a lot more than SEO. Wil and I traded houses. We traded lives. We traded email accounts. I can’t tell you how weird it is answering somebody’s email, replying to Wil’s mom and being like, “Oh, Mrs. Reynolds, this is actually Rand. Your son, Wil, is answering my email off in Seattle and living in my apartment.”

Marketing Lessons Learned from 16 Years of Building Moz - Whiteboard Friday

That experience was transformational for me, especially after having gone through the pain of building something that I had conceptualized myself but hadn’t validated and hadn’t even come up with the idea from real problems that real people were facing. I had come up with it based on what I thought could grow the company. I seriously dislike ideas that come from that perspective now.

So since then, I just try not to assume. I try not to assume that I know what people want. When we film a Whiteboard Friday, it is almost always on a topic that someone I have met and talked to either over email or over Twitter or in person at an event or a conference, we’ve had a conversation in person. They’ve said, “I’m struggling with this.” I go, “I can make a Whiteboard Friday to help them with that.” That’s where these content ideas come from.

When I spend time with people doing their job, I was just in San Diego a little while ago meeting with a couple of agencies down there, spending time in their offices showing off a new links tool, getting all their feedback, seeing what they do with Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs and Majestic and doing their work with them, trying to go through the process that they go through and actually experiencing their pain points. I think this right here is the product and marketing cheat code. If you spend time with your audience, experiencing their pain points, the copy you write, what you design, where you place it, who you try and get to influence and amplify it, how you serve them, whether that’s through content or through advertising or through events, or whatever kind of marketing you’re doing, will improve if you live the lives of your customers and their influencers.

Whatever kind of marketing you’re doing will improve if you live the lives of your customers and their influencers.

All right, everyone. Hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. If you have feedback on this or if you’ve read the book and checked that out and you liked it or didn’t like it, please, I would love to hear from you. I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Use Facebook Ad Dayparting to Optimize Your Results

Want to make sure you serve Facebook and Instagram ads when your followers are online? Have you considered dayparting your ad campaigns? In this article, you’ll discover how to use dayparting to schedule Facebook and Instagram ads to pause and run on specific days and times. What Is Dayparting? Dayparting is the practice of scheduling

This post How to Use Facebook Ad Dayparting to Optimize Your Results first appeared on Social Media Examiner.

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Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans?

Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans

Do you hear that spooky rustling of the leaves outside your window? It’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, creeping around in the marketing woods like a Blair Witch comprised solely of ones and zeroes.

The story advanced by MarTech companies is that robot marketing assistants, powered by the big data gleaned from customers and prospects, will automagically create hyper-relevant landing pages, emails, social posts, display ads, push notifications, and all matter of digital communiqués.

There are two benefits, they say. Because they use first-, second-, and third-party data, the resulting messages should be more palatable to recipients. Also, the labor necessary to create such finely targeted marketing executions falls to near zero (once you’ve paid your license fee) because the robots do the drudgery.

This is inexorable and unavoidable, at some level. Unless we have a TOTAL and COMPLETE reimagining of data gathering and usage norms, artificially intelligent digital marketing will quickly come to dominate the landscape, especially in mid-sized and large organizations that need scale.

It’s not dissimilar from the long-ago move from manual bid management in the paid search community to automated optimization and cultivation using software. In the fight for efficiency, robots remain undefeated.

I’ve said in several podcasts and interviews that I’m generally fine with the advance of marketing AI because once the robots are doing the dirty work, the strategist becomes king. As a strategist myself, it’s not the worst outcome. If all competitors bring roughly the same knives to a knife fight, the knife strategist (I don’t think that’s an actual job) is the key, because the knife practitioners will cancel each other out (perhaps literally, in this tortured analogy).

And ultimately, software can only execute on rules developed by human masters, right? We command the robot army, and it goes crazy with A/B testing and next best offer creation and such, until our prospect forks over their money. Humans still hold the steering wheel, because we’re the ones that have the ability to create and craft and curate and combine. We are artists in ways that AI never can be.

Ummm, maybe not.

There’s a an experimental new podcast about life in a fictitious town, from UC Santa Cruz PhD student James Ryan, written and “voiced” entirely by Sheldon, an artificial intelligence platform he created. Based on listeners’ habits and storytelling “threads” uncovered by the machine, each episode of the Sheldon County show is imagined and produced entirely by a robot. The prototype shows are available now on Ryan’s Soundcloud.

The next iteration of the technology is that every listener will receive an entirely different story in each episode, developed and created on-the-fly by the SHELDON system. It would, of course, be impossible for me to record 50,000 different versions of my SocialPros podcast for each listener. But Ryan’s robot can do this with relative ease, once he completes the programming to do so.

In an interview on Motherboard, he described how the behaviors of the artificial characters in the show are interpreted by the system, which then creates new storylines:

“The characters may decide to start a sort of utopian town that is built on the ideals they hold in common,” Ryan said. “So, for example, there could be a group of characters who all believe in law and order and stoicism, and who all despise merriment, so they start a town rooted in these principles. Critically, characters in the simulation hold town hall meetings, where they may propose new legislation and vote on it; if the legislation passes, it can actually affect how life in that town is simulated.”

I have two reactions to Ryan and the Sheldon County podcast:

  1. Holy cow, this is amazing.
  2. Is this what we want?

If we can train robots to be storytellers, what does that mean for the myriad human creators who use their skills to make stuff we enjoy, whether it’s “art” or “content” or something in between?

What really shook me up was the juxtaposition between the Sheldon County podcast and the work of Michael Breach, an exceptionally talented barista artist I met at an event in January. Michael creates works of art using latte foam, including a human-powered magic trick where he paints your portrait while you wait, like one of those boardwalk caricaturists, but with more caffeine and a far less forgiving medium.

Here are samples of his work from his must-follow Instagram account:

Transfixed, I watched Michael work for nearly thirty minutes. A true artisan, he works with a tiny brush, pushing and pulling colored foam around a cup of real coffee.

Could someone create a latte robot that could spit out a facsimile of Michael’s work, and do so faster and less expensively? Almost assuredly. But doing so squeezes every drop of joy and wonder out of the affair, and replaces it with expediency and efficiency.

I can make a business case for the robots doing it all in marketing and creative: strategy, operations, execution and all the rest. But the emotional case? I’d prefer to keep riding with artisans like Michael Breach as long as possible.

I’m really not sure if we’re aligned on this. Are we? I’d love to talk about it on LinkedIn, where this article is also posted.

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The Latest Trends of Facebook Business Page Optimization

The Latest Trends of Facebook Business Page Optimization

You know that Facebook business page engagement leaves much to be desired today.

You know that about 60 million Facebook business pages are active on this social media platform.

And you also know that all those 60 million try to bite more than can chew and nail jelly to a wall: each wants their Facebook page to stand out, attract and engage live followers, and bring marketing results their competitors couldn’t even imagine.

Be honest:

Are you one of those desirous to succeed?

Then, you shouldn’t do this:

And this:

Much less, never do this:

Instead, learn the latest trends of Facebook business page optimization — and check if you do everything right in today fast-paced world of social media marketing.

Optimizing Your Facebook Business Page for People

Whether you optimize a Facebook business page for a brand or want to make your personal one sparkle, you need more people to see and follow that page, right?

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6 Instagram Stories Design Tools for Marketers

Want to create more professional-looking Instagram stories? Wondering how to easily add design elements or music to your stories? In this article, you’ll discover six easy-to-use design tools that will make your Instagram stories more interesting. #1: Customize Stories Templates With Easil Price: Basic plan is free; paid plans start at $7.50/month Easil is a

This post 6 Instagram Stories Design Tools for Marketers first appeared on Social Media Examiner.

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The 9 Best User-Generated Content Platforms for Driving Engagement and Sales

The 9 Best User-Generated Content Platforms for Driving Engagement and Sales

In 2015, Adweek called it “the next big thing.” In the years since, it’s become colossal. In fact, because of the way it makes marketing more authentic and believable, user-generated content (UGC) may be social media’s most significant contribution to the world of marketing.

A post on the Adweek blog said, “As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities.”

In 2016, Salesforce claimed:

  • Visitors to websites that include UGC galleries spend 90 percent more time on the site.
  • Social campaigns that incorporate UGC see a 50 percent lift in engagement.
  • Ads with UGC generate five times greater click-through rates.
  • UGC drives a 73 percent increase in email click-through rates.
  • UGC increases conversions by 10 percent when included in the online purchase path.

In mid-2017, Search Engine Journal claimed, “Online ratings and reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying.”

The article cited above also included data from a study done by TurnTo (with research partner Ipsos).

TurnTo Ipsos UGC research

According to this study:

  • 90 percent of survey respondents said UGC had at least some influence over their online purchases.
  • 53 percent rated it “extremely influential” or “very influential,” a higher percentage than for any other category.

TurnTo Ipsos UGC impact

And as 2017 came to a close, TINT produced The 2018 User Generated Content Marketing Report.

TINT UGC Marketing Report

The TINT report’s many findings included data revealing how UGC is utilized. The report stated, “The omni-channel potential for UGC is extremely promising with social media managers, project managers and marketers who indicated it’s applied on a diverse mix of marketing applications.”

They added a point from ComScore research, stating brand engagement rises by 28 percent when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and UGC. The report concluded that user-generated content is not only an effective inbound tool but also shows great promise for supporting mid and bottom of the funnel efforts.

Instagram UGC

UGC may prove social media’s most significant contribution to the world of marketing.
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9 Powerful Tools for Generating UGC

Perhaps you were sold on UGC before I presented all that juicy data. Maybe your brand’s already flicked the switch. However, while the burden of creating user-generated content falls on your customers, you may have found the processes of inspiring, finding, collecting, and presenting UGC more laborsome than you like. But like most tasks in this hyper-cyber century, any number of SaaS-based platforms can slash the time it takes to achieve your objectives (especially when you know what they are).

I can’t promise you I’ve turned over every stone in the fast-proliferating market, but I’m confident the platforms I have uncovered based on my experience and research can help you become a more efficient and effective purveyor of UGC. Here are nine of the top UGC platforms you might want to try or buy.

1. Yotpo

When Yotpo entered the fray in 2011, the company focused on helping its customers collect and present text-based testimonials. This is still one of the strengths of the platform. However, they’ve taken a leap forward to empower brands to collect every type of user-generated content and use it throughout the buyer journey.

Yotpo collects UGC

According to a case study on the Yotpo site, Vanity Planet tested a product page against the same page with customer photos added just above the reviews. The page with the customer photos outperformed the original with a 24 percent increase in clickthroughs from the product page to the checkout page.

2. ShortStack

The ideal way to inspire people to create UGC is to dangle a reward in front of them. Contests do just that. They deliver a reason to play along.

ShortStack is one of the pioneers in the business of enabling brands to create contests, giveaways, and other types of online competitions and promotions. Their flexible service enables you to jumpstart the creation of your promotions by customizing any one of a long list of templates.

ShortStack creates promotions

ShortStack customers often choose to conduct photo and video contests, which are promoted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. Contests not only prompt fans and customers to publish content, but also take advantage of what ShortStack calls “action-gating,” meaning users must submit contact information via a form to qualify for the competitions.

3. Curalate

Curalate describes itself as a visual content platform and the leader in “discovery-driven commerce.”

The platform is a robust toolbox for increasing sales via social media. One compelling component of Curalate, Fanreel, enables e-commerce brands to “bring the outside in.” That is, brands can easily gather UGC, secure approval to use it, and present it on-site to help boost conversion.

Curalate gathers UGC and secures approval

Here’s a sample portion of a massive gallery of UGC displayed on the Raymour & Flanigan e-commerce site, which sells furniture and mattresses.

4. TINT

TINT describes itself as a social media aggregator and content curation tool. The company introduces a couple of interesting slants:

  • In addition to the broad “enterprise” use case, TINT positions its services specifically for hospitality and education markets.
  • TINT also showcases how the service is ideal for creating social media walls at events.

TINT compiles social mentions

A video embedded in the post A Marketer’s Guide to Student Recruitment in 2018 offers a look behind the scenes at how Purdue University uses the service to compile social mentions of their annual Purdue Day of Giving event on a single page of their website.

5. CrowdRiff

CrowdRiff combines UGC discovery and content delivery. However, CrowdRiff takes a vertical market approach with services that cater specifically to travel and tourism brands.

CrowdRiff gathers UGC for travel and tourism brands

#ThePalmBeaches campaign is an example of how CrowdRiff’s clients leverage user-generated content, word-of-mouth marketing, and the power of social media to feature compelling visuals.

CrowdRiff also touts “smart digital asset management for both UGC and owned visuals.” The platform’s AI elements include a feature that tracks the performance of photos and videos that clients choose to feature in galleries. The software then automatically features those that gain the most traction.

6. Olapic

Olapic’s a formidable player in the UGC space as well. Clients earn content with a content engine, request it from influencers and employees with a creator platform, and create it by turning assets into motion-based content.

I didn’t find any mention of “motion-based” on the websites of the other brands included in this post, so let’s look at that interesting feature.

https://1fh75r3r8z5023bugy2qury6-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Behind-the-scenes_REV04-3.mp4

Olapic’s Content in Motion feature transforms UGC images into engaging, short-form videos that can be shared across a variety of digital channels.

7. Stackla

Stackla is another powerful player in the “collect and curate” realm, which touts the platform’s ability to collect social content from over 25 sources and use geolocation and visual recognition technology for UGC tagging.

Stackla detects patterns in user content

Stackla’s Co-Pilot product introduces an AI element, which uses machine learning to detect patterns in the content its clients publish and measure engagement resulting in predictive recommendations.

8. Pixlee

Pixlee is another robust UGC platform on a mission to help brands market with the voice of their customers. However, it introduces a unique influencer marketing element.

Pixlee brings influencer marketing to UGC

On the Pixlee site, they use the term “Social CRM” to describe the built-in influencer marketing functionality. This social CRM manages and connects with passionate customers and influencers and measures the results.

9. TurnTo

TurnTo offers what it calls a “suite of shopping assistance tools” to better inform users. Its four-pronged product suite includes UGC solutions for ratings and reviews, visual reviews, check-out comments, and community Q&A (which struck me as its most unique offering).

TurnTo connects potential and existing customers

TurnTo’s goal is to connect customers with questions to people who already own the product. Many questions are answered instantly thanks to a Q&A knowledgebase, which draws from existing answers.

UGC Is Here, There, and Everywhere

“Many marketers have yet to realize the brand-building power of this immature but influential marketing discipline.” These words come from a 2014 white paper on UGC by Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Bazaarvoice). Four years later, many marketers have indeed realized its power. Many SaaS companies have brought helpful solutions to market.

The market is ripe, and it continues to grow up.

UGC throughout customer lifecycle

The graphic above depicts how brands leverage UGC throughout the customer lifecycle. It dates back to 2014 but makes important points that are even more relevant today.

As stated in the paper referenced above, the first step to leveraging UGC is getting UGC. From there, brands should:

  • Go beyond ratings and reviews.
  • Invite customers to contribute content.
  • Give customers a reason to engage with the brand.
  • Engage with customers who engage with your brand.

There you have it: an arsenal of tools for collecting all kinds of UGC and driving engagement and sales. Go get ‘em!

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The 3 Incredible SmarterQueue Alternatives You Need to Try

The 3 Incredible SmarterQueue Alternatives You Need to Try

Social media management takes up so much time– a lot more than anyone likely could have ever predicted when businesses first started joining Facebook several years ago. You’re expected to actively promote your business without over-promoting it, build relationships, and continue to create great content.

It’s exhausting and at times it can be overwhelming. It’s no wonder that many social media managers and small business owners find social media scheduling software, often included in social media dashboards, to take on the brunt of the work.

SmarterQueue is a popular example of social scheduling software that many small businesses are using. It can help you create, curate, and schedule social posts long in advance to make social management significantly easier. It is, without a doubt, a great tool. There are several SmarterQueue alternatives that may be a better fit for small and medium businesses. We’re going to look at three of those social media tools today, each of which has unique benefits that can benefit your business in different ways.

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How to Host a Facebook Watch Party in Your Facebook Group

Want to build more engagement in your Facebook group? Have you heard of a Facebook watch party? Now your group can watch and comment on videos together. In this article, you’ll discover how to run a Facebook watch party inside your Facebook group. What Is a Facebook Watch Party? Facebook Watch Party is a new

This post How to Host a Facebook Watch Party in Your Facebook Group first appeared on Social Media Examiner.

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Enterprise Local SEO is Different: A Checklist, a Mindset

Posted by MiriamEllis

Image credit: Abraham Williams

If you’re marketing big brands with hundreds or thousands of locations, are you certain you’re getting model-appropriate local SEO information from your favorite industry sources?

Is your enterprise checking off not just technical basics, but hyperlocalized research to strengthen its entrance into new markets?

Before I started working for Moz in in 2010, the bulk of my local SEO experience had been with small-to-medium business models. Naturally, the advice I was able to offer back then was limited by the scope of my work. But then came Moz Local, and the opportunity to learn more about the more complex needs of valued enterprise customers like Crate & Barrel with more than 170 locations, PAPYRUS with 400, or Bridgestone Corporation with 2000+.

Now, when I’m thumbing through industry tips and tactics, I’m better able to identify when a recommended practice is stemming from an SMB mindset and falling short of enterprise realities, or is truly applicable to all business models. My goal for this post is to offer:

  • Examples of commonly encountered advice that isn’t really best for big brands
  • An Enterprise Local SEO Checklist to help you shape strategy for present campaigns, or ready your agency to pursue relationships with bigger dream clients
  • A state-to-enterprise wireframe for initial hyperlocal marketing research

Not everything you read is for enterprises

When a brand is small, like a single location, family-owned retail shop, it’s likely that a single person at the company can manage the business’ Local SEO, with some free education and a few helpful tools. Large, multi-location brands, just by dint of organizational complexities, are different. Before they even get down to the nitty gritty of building citations, enterprises have to solve for:

  • Standardizing data across hundreds or thousands of locations
  • Franchise relationships that can muddy who controls which data and assets
  • Designating staff to actually manage data and execute initiatives, and building bridges between teams that must work in concert to meet goals
  • Scaling everything from listings management, to site architecture, to content dev
  • Dealing with a hierarchy of reports of bad data from the retail location level up to corporate

I am barely scratching the surface here. In a nutshell, the scale of the organization and the scope of the multi-location brand can turn a task that would be simple for Mom-and-Pop into a major, company-wide challenge. And I think it adds to the challenge when published advice for SMBs isn’t labeled as such. Over the years, three common tips I’ve encountered with questionable or no applicability to enterprises include:

Not-for-enterprises #1: Link all your local business listings to your homepage

This is sometimes offered as a suggestion to boost local rankings, because website home pages typically have more authority than location landing pages do. But in the enterprise scenario, sending a consumer from a listing for his chosen location, to a homepage, and then expecting him to fool around with a menu or a store locator widget to finally reach a landing page for the location he’s already designated that he wanted is not respecting his user experience. It’s wasting his time. I consider this an unnecessary risk of conversions.

Simultaneously, failure to fully utilize location landing pages means that very little can be done to customize the website experience for each community and customer. Directly-linked-to landing pages can provide instant, persuasive proofs of local-ness, in the form of real local reviews, news about local sponsorships and events, special offers, regional product highlights, imagery and so much more that no corporate homepage can ever provide. Consider these statistics:

“According to a new study, when both brand and location-specific pages exist, 85% of all consumer engagement takes place on the local pages (e.g., Facebook Local Pages, local landing pages). A minority of impressions and engagement (15%) happen on national or brand pages.” – Local Search Association

In the large, multi-location scenario, it just isn’t putting the customer first to swap out a hoped-for ranking increase for a considerate, well-planned user experience.

Not-for-enterprises #2: Local business listings are a one-and-done deal

I find this advice particularly concerning. I don’t consider it true even for SMBs, and at the enterprise level, it’s simply false. It’s my guess that this suggestion stems from imagining a single local business. They create their Google My Business listing and build out perhaps 20–50 structured citations with good data. What could go wrong?

For starters, they may have forgotten that their business name was different 10 years ago. Oh, and they did move across town 5 years ago. And this old data is sitting somewhere in a major aggregator like Acxiom, and somehow due to the infamous vagaries of data flow, it ends up on Bing, and a Bing user gets confused and reports to Google that the new address is wrong on the GMB listing … and so on and so on. Between data flow and crowdsourced editing, a set-and-forget approach to local business listings is trouble waiting to happen.

Now multiply this by 1,000 business locations. And throw in that the enterprise opened two new stores yesterday and closed one. And that they just acquired a new chain and have to rebrand all its assets. And there seems to be something the matter with the phone number on 25 listings, because they’re getting agitated complaints at corporate. And they received 500 reviews last week on Google alone that have to be managed, and it seems one of their competitors is leaving them negative reviews. Whoa – there are 700 duplicate listings being reported by Moz Local! And the brand has 250 Google Questions & Answers queries to respond to this week. And someone just uploaded an image of a dumpster to their GMB listing in Santa Fe…

Not only do listings have to be built, they have to be monitored for data degradation, and managed for inevitable business events, responsiveness to consumers, and spam. It’s hard enough for SMBs to pull all of this off, but enterprises ignore this at their peril!

Not-for-enterprises #3: Just do X

Every time a new local search feature or best practice emerges, you’ll find publications saying “just do X” to implement. What I’ve learned from enterprises is that there is no “just” about it.

Case in point: in 2017, Google rolled out Google Posts, and as Joel Headley of healthcare practice growth platform PatientPop explained to me in a recent interview, his company had to quickly develop a solution that would enable thousands of customers to utilize this influential feature across hundreds of thousands of listings. PatientPop managed implementation in an astonishingly short time, but typically, at the enterprise level, each new rollout requires countless steps up and down the ladder. These could include achieving recognition of the new opportunity, approval to pursue it, designation of teams to work on it, possible acquisition of new assets to accomplish goals, implementation at scale, and the groundwork of tracking outcomes so that they can be reported to prove/disprove ROI from the effort.

Where small businesses can be relatively agile if they can find time to man-up to new features and strategies, enterprises can become dangerously bogged down by infrastructure and communications gaps. Even something as simple as hyperlocalizing content to the needs of a given community represents a significant undertaking.

The family-owned local hardware store already knows that the county fair is the biggest annual event in their area, and they’ve already got everything necessary to participate with a booth, run a contest, take photos, sponsor the tractor pull, earn links, and blog about it. For the hardware franchise with 3,000 stores, branch-to-corporate communication of the mere existence of the county fair, let alone gaining permission to market around it, will require multiple touches from the location to C-suites, and back again.

Checklist for enterprise local SEO preparedness

If you’re on the marketing team for an enterprise, or you run an agency and want to begin working with these larger, rewarding clients, you’ll be striving to put a checkmark in every box on the following checklist:

☑ Definition of success

We’ve determined which actions = success for our brand, whether this is increases for in-store traffic, sales, phone calls, bookings, or some other metric. When we see growth in these KPIs, it will affirm for us that our efforts are creating real success.

☑ Designation of roles

We’ve defined who will be responsible for all tasks relating to the local search marketing of our business. We’ve equipped these team members with all necessary permissions, granted access to key documentation, have organized workflows, and have created an environment for documentation of work.

☑ Canonical data

We’ve created a spreadsheet, approved and agreed upon by all major departments, that lists the standardized name, address, phone number, website URL, and hours of operation for each location of the company. Any variant information has been resolved into a single, agreed-upon data set for each location. This sheet has been shared with all stakeholders managing our local business listings, marketing, website and social outreach.

☑ Website optimization

Our keyword research findings are reflected in the tags and text of our website, including image optimization. Complete contact information for each of our locations is easily accessible on the site and is accurate. We’ve implemented proper markup, such as Schema or JSON-LD, to ensure that our data is as clear as possible to search engines.

☑ Website quality

Our website is easy to navigate and provides a good, usable experience for desktop, mobile and tablet users. We understand that the omni-channel search environment includes ambient search in cars, in homes, via voice. Our website doesn’t rely on technologies that exclude search engines or consumers. We’re putting our customer first.

☑ Tracking and analysis

We’ve implemented maximum controls for tracking and analyzing traffic to our website. We’re also ready to track and analyze other forms of marketing, such as clicks stemming from our Google My Business listings traffic being driven to our website by articles on third party sources, and content we’re sharing via social media.

☑ Publishing strategy

Our website features strong basic pages (Home, Contact, About, Testimonials/Reviews, Policy), we’ve built an excellent, optimized page for each of our core products/services and a quality, unique page for each of our locations. We have a clear strategy as to ongoing content publication, in the form of blog posts, white papers, case studies, social outreach, and other forms of content. We have plans for hyperlocalizing content to match regional culture and needs.

☑ Store locator

We’ve implemented a store locator widget to connect our website’s users to the set of location landing pages we’ve built to thoughtfully meet the needs of specific communities. We’ve also created an HTML version of a menu linking to all of these landing pages to ensure search engines can discover and index them.

☑ Local link building

We’re building the authority of our brand via the links we earn from the most authoritative sources. We’re actively seeking intelligent link building opportunities for each of our locations, reflective of our industry, but also of each branch’s unique geography.

☑ Guideline compliance

We’ve assessed that each of the locations our business plans to build local listings for complies with the Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google. Each location is a genuine physical location (not a virtual office or PO box) and conducts face-to-face business with consumers, either at our locations or at customers’ locations. We’re compliant with Google’s rules for the naming of each location, and, if appropriate, we understand how to handle listing multi-department and multi-practitioner businesses. None of our Google My Business listings is at risk for suspension due to basic guideline violations. We’ve learned how to avoid every possible local SEO pitfall.

☑ Full Google My Business engagement

We’re making maximum use of all available Google My Business features that can assist us in achieving our goals. This could include Google Posts, Questions & Answers, Reviews, Photos, Messaging, Booking, Local Service Ads, and other emerging features.

☑ Local listing development

We’re using software like Moz Local to scale creation of our local listings on the major aggregators (Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual) as well as key directories like Superpages and Citysearch. We’re confident that our accurate, consistent data is being distributed to these most important platforms.

☑ Local listing monitoring

We know that local listings aren’t a set-and-forget asset and are taking advantage of the ongoing monitoring SaaS provides, increasing our confidence in the continued accuracy of our data. We’re aware that, if left unmanaged, local business listing data can degrade over time, due to inputs from various, non-authoritative third parties as well as normal data flow across platforms.

☑ In-store strategy

All public-facing staff are equipped with the necessary training to implement our brand’s customer service policy, answer FAQs or escalate them via a clear hierarchy, resolving complaints before they become negative online reviews. We have installed in-store signage or other materials to actively invite consumer complaints in-person, via an after-hours helpline or text message to ensure we are making maximum effort to build and defend our strong reputation.

☑ Review acquisition

We’ve developed a clear strategy for acquiring reviews on an ongoing basis on the review sites we’ve deemed to be most important to our brand. We’re compliant with the guidelines of each platform on which we’re earning reviews. We’re building website-based reviews and testimonials, too.

☑ Review monitoring & response

We’re monitoring all incoming reviews to identify both positive and negative emerging sentiment trends at specific locations and we’re conversant with Net Promoter Score. We’ve created a process for responding with gratitude to positive reviews. We’re defending our reputation and revenue by responding to negative reviews in ways that keep customers who complain instead of losing them, to avoid needless drain of new customer acquisition spend. Our responses are building a positive impression of our brand. We’ve built or acquired solutions to manage reviews at scale.

☑ Local PR

Each location of our brand has been empowered to build a local footprint in the community it serves, customizing outreach to match community culture. We’re exploring sponsorships, scholarships, workshops, conferences, news opportunities, and other forms of participation that will build our brand via online links and social mentions as well as offline WOM marketing. We’re continuously developing cohesive online/offline outreach for maximum impact on brand recognition, rankings, reputation, and revenue.

☑ Social media

We’ve identified the social platforms that are most popular with our consumer base and a best fit for our brand. We’re practicing ongoing social listening to catch and address positive and negative sentiment trends as they arise. We’ve committed to a social mindset based on sharing rather than the hard sell.

☑ Spam-ready

We’re aware that our brand, our listings, and our reviews may be subject to spam, and we know what options are available for reporting it. We’re also prepared to detect when the spammy behaviors of competitors (such as fake addresses, fake negative/positive reviews, or keyword stuffing of listings) are giving them an unfair advantage in our markets, and have a methodology for escalating reports of guideline violations.

☑ Paid media

We’re investing wisely in both on-and-offline paid media and carefully tracking and analyzing the outcomes of online pay-per-click, radio, TV, billboards, and phone sales strategy. We’re exploring new opportunities, as appropriate and as they emerge, like Google Local Service Ads.

☑ Build/buy

When any new functionality (like Google Posts or Google Q&A) needs to be managed at scale, we have a process for determining whether we need to build or acquire new technology. We know we have to weigh the pros/cons of developing in-house or buying ready-made solutions.

☑ Competitive difference-maker

Once you’ve checked off all of the above elements, you’re ready to move forward towards identifying a USP for your brand that no one else in your market has explored. Be it a tool, widget, app, video marketing campaign, newsworthy acquisition, new partnership, or some other asset, this venture will require deep competitive and market research to discover a need that has yet to be filled well by your competitors. If your business can serve this need, it can set your brand apart for years to come.

Free advice, specifically for local enterprises

It’s asserted that customers may forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how you make them feel.

Call me a Californian, but I continue to be amazed by automotive TV spots that show large trucks driving through beautiful creeks (thanks for tearing up precious riparian habitat during our state-wide drought) and across pristine arctic snowfields (instantly reminding me of climate change). Meanwhile, my family have become Tesla-spotters, seeing that “zero emissions” messaging on the tail of every luxury eco-vehicle that passes us by. As consumers, we know how we feel.

Technical and organizational considerations aside, this is where I see one of the greatest risks posed to the local enterprise structure. Insensitivity at a regional or hyperlocal level — the failure to research customer needs with the intention of meeting them — has been responsible for some of the most startling bad news for enterprises in recent recall. From ignored negative reviews across fast food franchises, to the downsizing of multiple apparel retailers who have been unable to stake a clear claim in the shifting shopping environment, brands that aren’t successful at generating positive consumer “feelings” may need to reevaluate not just their local search marketing mindset, but their basic identity.

If this sounds uncomfortable or risky, consider that we are seeing a rising trend in CEOs taking stands on issues of national import in America. This is about feelings. Consumers are coming to expect this, and it feeds down to the local level.

Hyperlocalized market research

If your brand is considering opening a new branch in a new state or city, you’ll be creating profiles as part of your research. These could be based on everything from reading local news to conducting formal surveys. If I were to do something like this for my part of California, these are the factors I’d be highlighting about the region:

California

Enterprises

We’ve been blasted by drought and wildfire. In 2017, alone, we went through 9,133 fires. On a positive note, Indigenous thought-leadership is beginning to be re-implemented in some areas to solve our worst ecological problems (water scarcity, salmon loss, absence of traditional forestry practices).

Can your brand help conserve water, re-house thousands of homeless residents, fund mental health services despite budget cuts, make legal services affordable, provide solutions for increased future safety? What are your green practices? Are you helping to forward ecological recovery efforts at a tribal, city or state level?

We’re grumbling more loudly about tech gentrification. If you live in Mississippi, sit down for this. The average home price in your state is $199,028. In my part of California, it’s $825,000. In San Francisco, specifically, you’ll need $1.2 million dollars to buy a tiny studio apartment… if you can find one. While causes are complex, people I talk with generally blame Silicon Valley.

Can your brand be part of this conversation? If not, you’re not really addressing what is on statewide consumers’ minds. Particularly if you’re marketing a tech-oriented company, taking the housing crisis seriously and coming up with solutions for even a modest amount of relief would certainly be positive and newsworthy.

We’ve turned to online shopping for an interesting variety of reasons. And it’s not just because we’re techie hipsters. The retail inventory in big cities (San Francisco) can be overwhelming to sort through, and in small towns (Cloverdale), the shopping options are too few to meet our..

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