Common issues and problems with LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn as an advertising platform may not be the best solution out there. It is still undergoing product revamps and modifications to suit advertising needs better, this year. It does, however, know you target audience best for account-based marketing programs. Like every product have an area of improvement, here are 10 such common issues and problems I discovered while working with LinkedIn Advertising over the last three years.

1.Inconsistent List Match Rate in Matched Audience

You can create Audience by creating website audience or uploading a list of accounts or contacts to include or exclude in your campaigns under Account assets as given in the screenshot below. 300 is the minimum threshold value for a list to be ready for running campaigns as such.

website & uploaded list audience

The problem is that the list match rate observed under “Uploaded List Audience” changes with time. It can reduce or increase on its own. This is true even for a live campaign. I observed this during July to September this year to be specific. It has a significant impact on your advertising campaigns as more list match rate means more impressions being served, better changes for your audience to click your ads and vice versa.

Quick Pro Tip:

Keep a close watch on list match rates within your live Campaigns if any being used. This reason is not discoverable by usual metrics LinkedIn Ads provide as such.

For instance in the screenshots below the match rate for same list of accounts has changed thrice from 15 August to 16 September. (80% then 35% and then less than 5%)

List match rate August 2018 Linkedin AdsList match rate September 2018 linkedin adsList match rate October linkedin ads

Learn More:  Uploading Lists for Account and Contact Targeting for LinkedIn Ads

 

2.Two Problems with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms

a) No form edits

There is no way to edit a Lead gen form which is most promising offering from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. You will have to create a new form all over again if you wish to edit anything at all. It is painful ☹

Secondly, you can choose a maximum of 7 form fields only. This is more like a limitation though!

edit a lead gen form template

Learn More: Editing Lead Gen form templates

b) Social Sharing

Social engagements with lead gen forms just don’t work. If you intend to show ads to your target audience alone, they will see an auto populated lead gen form upon clicking your ad, if any among your target audience happen to like, comment or share it further, the followers of your target audience will see a mere image and post – nothing remains clickable on that ad. In short, followers of your target audience cannot take the desired action you want them to take.

Quick Pro Tip: Always create a landing page version on your website despite of using lead gen forms and include that URL in your ad copy/promotion. A lead gen ad when shared by your audience will get you more leads organically then.

3.Audience Targeting is not accurate

I was trying to setup a campaign in early November and surprisingly, Antarctica showed about 12000+ people available by IP addresses among my target audience which is not possible, because of all the available resources Antarctica doesn’t happen to have 12000+ people in winters at all.Antarctica targeting Linkedin

Here is what Wikipedia Says

 

demographics of Antarctica

4.Bid Range & Simulators don’t work

If you happen to bid manually, you will notice suggestions for your bid range and real-time recommendations with a bulb icon as below. The recommendations as you see below are of no value.bid range and simulation linkedin manual ad bidding

Moreover, if you implement any of the suggestions as such, you will the next immediate recommendation to go further higher on your bids which is again difficult to digest.

Learn More: LinkedIn’s Advertising Cost & Bid Types

5.No GIF Ads on LinkedIn

Unlike Twitter, you can’t really advertise a GIF ad format on LinkedIn as such. Minor workaround of converting GIF in MP4 files work fine though!

6.Vague Quality Scores

Quality scores are measured at Campaign and Account level. There is no way you get a reward or incentive or better CPCs if ad quality is great. On the flip side, unlike google ads, you could run an irrelevant ad, promote an irrelevant landing page without being penalized for it as well.

Secondly, Multiple advertisers trying to target similar or exactly same audience as yours would only increase the bid prices.

Learn More: Campaign Quality Scores for Sponsored Content

7.Probable bidding against yourself

This is true to large organizations running multiple campaigns or having multiple people as Campaign Managers on LinkedIn. If you advertise from your corporate handle, that is treated as one account and if you issue a purchase order or IO to LinkedIn from any part of the world, that is considered as another account. When you target similar audience within these 2 accounts and within the same time frame, you bid against yourself in simple terms and you also end up spending more money for showing ads as such.

Your audience, however, will see the ads coming in from same company as yours despite of having 2 separate accounts within your company.

Quick Pro Tip:

With one account you never bid against yourself, Avoid advertising from more than one IO or more than one corporate account.

8.Can’t Delete Ads & Campaigns

Don’t worry there are options to change your ads or add new ads in your campaigns, you can’t  really delete any created ads though! They will just stay in there.

archiving campaigns linkedin ads

Quick Pro Tip:

Replace old creative with new ads instead of adding new.

Learn More:  Archiving Campaigns and Ad Variations

9.No notifications on Comments

LinkedIn Ads don’t have a way to send in  alerts or notifications as such. While running campaigns if any of your ads happen to get a negative comment, there is no way you will be notified for such comments, instead you will have to manually check all campaigns and all ads within them to respond as appropriate. it is a tedious task if you are running multiple campaigns simultaneously. Positive comments are okay with negative comments need your immediate attention.

sad part linkedin ads

10.Ineffective Audience expansion

While targeting a list of accounts or audience targeting in general, Audience expansion does helps to get additional leads from similar audience within your targeting parameters. having said so, it can, sometimes go out of the proportion and get you irrelevant leads which you never wanted and certainly not at a bid price. It gets difficult to justify ROI from advertising spend in such cases.

Example:  One of the campaigns targeting IT department as a Function, I ended up getting a lead submission for a “Medical Nurse” every factor was correct and in place except the fact that I had enabled Audience Expansion.

audience expansion linkedin ads

Learn more: Audience expansion

Handpicked related topics to Learn More:

  1. Tips & Best practices for LinkedIn Ads
  2. Types of LinkedIn Ads & When to Use Them
  3. Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads
  4. Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Tips & Best practices for LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn Ads are created in Campaign Manager, whilst there are standard best practices in general, I would try to focus on ad tips and best practices with respect to running ads on LinkedIn. This is a slightly deep dive topic and relevant for someone who has already started with LinkedIn Ads. If you are new to LinkedIn Ads or trying to learn from basics. I would strongly recommend referring my previous two blog posts:

Step by Step Guide to Setup LinkedIn Ads

Types of LinkedIn Ads & When to Use Them

If you are new to social media, I did cover:

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Best Practice 1: Web Page & Landing Page basics

Seamless user experience is desired today. Your web pages and landing pages capturing leads must be mobile optimized and in sync across all channels. Try to maintain same look and feel when a user comes to your website from any source, be it search, emails or if they come to your website from LinkedIn Ads. They should experience a seamless user flow and they should reach your desired call to action in minimum possible clicks. For example, if you use lead gen forms on LinkedIn to capture leads, try to have minimum form fields and users will be comfortable filling in, Secondly, if you are not using lead gen forms and driving traffic to your website or landing pages instead, try to maintain exact same number of form fields.

Quick pro tip: Having an email ID for subscription is enough likewise – capturing first name, last name and email ID is enough for first level lead capture.

Best Practice 2: Relevant Content & Messaging

In LinkedIn Ads, your target audience should get the context of your ad when they see it for the first time and understand it explicitly if it is really meant for them,  reach to a landing page which fulfills their set expectation in first step and when they download the asset/marketing material being promoted, they should receive the exact same asset.

Quick Pro tip: For example, User Flow 1: LinkedIn sponsored ad promoting a whitepaper download should have the image of the cover page of the whitepaper itself, the message should address the target audience, “Hey Doctors”, Download this whitepaper to learn more about US FDA regulations this year.”

User flow 2: Upon Click, the landing page should have the larger thumbnail of the asset being promoted in step above with bullets or pointers around why they should be downloading this whitepaper.

User flow 3: Upon form submission, they receive the whitepaper with exact same cover page as expected by your target audience when they saw your ad in the first step above.

Best Practice 3: AB Test Ads & Variations

AB Testing is usually manual and behaves differently than any other advertising platforms. Creative and content rotation is very important in a successful campaign’s performance.

Test out your ad creatives and ad copies for at least 7 to 10 days.

You could do so by running the campaigns as usual and by automated ad testers like ezoic

Quick Pro Tip: I would recommend having at least 4 ad copies and creatives in one campaign, remove the worst performing campaign creative and ad copy every 7 to 8 days and allow it to run for another 10 days for performance observation.

Best Practice 4: Frequency Cap & Number of Ads

LinkedIn recommends running 4 updates simultaneously (mix of ad creatives and ad copies) Basically your target audience could see up to 4 unique sponsored content every 48 hours

Quick Pro tip: Remove the worst performing ad every week and update with revised/new ad while maintaining 4 ads.

maximize frequency and increase engagement

Best Practice 5: Right Audience Targeting & Size

Audience size, you could find in the right-hand top side while setting up audience targeting.

audience size linkedin ads

Showing impressions tom your target customers is of utmost importance. The higher they are, the better are the changes for your ads to get clicks and thus, desired leads. You should aim for 100,000 and above in sizing of the Audience to see better conversions. It is usually difficult for ads to show up effectively when your audience size is lower than that. Anything above 1 million in sizing becomes too broad to target. Additionally, the narrower your targeting becomes, the prices usually go higher for your ads to show up, be it a CPC or CPM bid.

Having said so, there are minor exceptions to the rule above basis the type of business you might be operating in.

Quick pro tip: 2 to 3 filters work best for audience targeting. For instance, mixing locations with Job function and Seniority works well.

Best Practice 6: Bids and Auctions

Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC) are 2 broad bid types possible while running LinkedIn Ads. CPMs is about asking LinkedIn to show more impressions and you are charged for impressions. CPCs, on the other hand are leaving the onus of performance to the platform. You pay only when someone clicks an ad.

Quick Pro Tip: CPMs work better when you are looking for long term campaigns with sustained budget spends, $200/day for 2 months for instance. CPCs work better when you have heavy competition and need quick wins. A best practice and pro tip in that case would be to bid on higher side of the suggested bid range.

Best Practice 7: Retargeting,  Audience Matching & Targeting

You can setup URL based retargeting lists which work with minimum threshold value of 300 or above. The larger the Size the better it is. Audience matching rate behaves erratically in my experience. Any match rate less than 70% is best to be avoided. Audience matching is available for email IDs or list of accounts you may want to target.

Quick Pro Tip: The Account list upload works phenomenally for Account based marketing objectives.

Avoid hyper targeting and target junior guys in your targeting too, these guys grow up fast and act as catalysts to influence decision making in organizational buying.

Best Practice 8: Utilize Website & Campaign Demographics

All the macthed audiences or retargeting lists you create can provide you significant amount of data about website demographic of your audiene within those lists. It’s a great way to look at insights around the industry, job titles, seniority levels etc. your audience might belong to.

Whilst its good to know, there is no significant way to use this information while running your campaigns.

Best Practice 9: Always on Campaigns

When you are always on and targeting a set of audience, you are at pace and keep your target audience occupied. When you pause or stop, you leave the opportunity for others to start targeting audience like the ones you have been targeting, Secondly, LinkedIn Algorithm takes a while to start serving or even pausing ads, therefore, the time gap is best avoided when you are always on. If budgets are limited, spending over 100/day per campaign basis your budget’ availability is a good way to plan budget allocations ahead.

Best Practice 10: Use More of lead gen forms in B2B

Lead gen forms are very popular with a lot of advertisers on LinkedIn today as they ensure prefilled form submissions within the ad platform. Your customers no longer need to go to your landing pages all the time. Moreover, conversions are far better when you ask your target audience to submit details on Lead gen forms against submitting on landing pages as such.

These forms could also be integrated well with leading marketing automation tools.

Linkedin lead Gen form demo

Learn more about Integrating Lead Gen Forms with Your Marketing Automation/CRM System

While I covered 10 such best practices above, there could be more as LinkedIn Ads continue to evolve, especially when they are trying to launch forecasting and BETA version of objective based advertising soon.

Let me know your thoughts, suggestions and if you discovered more such best practices for LinkedIn Ads in the comments section below.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Types of LinkedIn Ads & When to Use Them

Over the last two years, LinkedIn has been very focused to bring in new products and features in the online advertising market-place. At a very broad level LinkedIn classifies all its ad products into five major types, namely:

  1. Sponsored Content
  2. Dynamic Ads
  3. Text Ads
  4. Sponsored InMail
  5. New objective-based campaign creation (BETA)

types of linkedin ads

1) LinkedIn Sponsored Content

This is the most commonly used option of all the available options in LinkedIn Ad products. The ads you create get published in the LinkedIn feed of the end users. There are however, certain restrictions among ad types which could be shown on a desktop, mobile or other devices as such.

Setup Linkedin Ads

When to use Sponsored Content?

You can use them in three possible objectives for your campaign

When to use Sponsored Contenta) Sending People to your website or Content

Your target audience will be shown an ad and then your landing page once they click on your ad. There are three ways to send people to your website, content or landing page.

  • Using Articles, images or URL
  • Carousel – Use series of images to tell your story
  • Video – to engage with your target audience

sending people to website or contentb) Collecting leads using lead gen forms

LinkedIn lead gen forms are prefilled, user-friendly responsive forms which allow advertisers to capture form submissions from your target audience within LinkedIn (website or app version) without having a need to go to your landing page as such. The possible ad types are the same as explained in the step above for sending people to your website or content, the only difference in this case Is that the traffic is not driven to your landing page, instead, the form submissions are captured within LinkedIn.

c) Getting Video views

As the name suggests, this is primarily used for promoting videos to engage with your target audience, you could drive traffic from videos to desired landing page or videos to lead gen forms as appropriate for your business.

Quick Pro tip: Less then 15 seconds videos are lighter and work best on LinkedIn, appending them with sub titles or screen supers ensures viewers could see them without using audio speakers or earphones as such.

2) LinkedIn Dynamic Ads

Dynamic Ads are a new development with LinkedIn, launched about two months ago. This is very different from other types of LinkedIn ads as you could create ads personalized to each end user in your target audience. Dynamic ads utilize LinkedIn profile data such as your image, company name, and job title to automatically personalize ads. These doesn’t work with lead gen forms and traffic is usually driven to your website or landing page as desired.

Dynamic Ads Linkedin

When to use LinkedIn Dynamic Ads?

Dynamic Ads are available in three types, namely:

  • Follower Ad – Use them if your objective is to add followers to your company or showcase pages as such.
  • Spotlight Ad – Best ad type for all B2B marketing purposes. The traffic is driven to your website or landing page; therefore, you could easily promote products, services, solutions, events and all marketing assets as needed
  • Content Ads – This is a new area again and not available in self advertising or LinkedIn Campaign manager as such. Advertisers could generate leads or drive content download conversions within an ad.

content ads

Advertising specifications for Dynamic Ads

3) LinkedIn Text Ads

This is bit dated offering by LinkedIn and text ads work on desktops alone.

When to use LinkedIn Text Ads?

You could use them for driving traffic to your company or Career page on LinkedIn  or to a specific website page or landing page on your website.

Linkedin Text Ads

4) LinkedIn sponsored InMail

As the name suggests, this ad offering by LinkedIn is used to send direct personalized messages to your target audience. It appears in the message box or inbox when an InMail is received. This is widely used in recruitment world. As call to action, you could choose between sending people to your website or collecting leads using LinkedIn lead gen forms.

Linkedin sponsored Inmail example

When to use InMail?

You could use them when you want to make person to person connect, generate quick wins without worrying too much about creatives and design as they are optional.

5) New Objective-based campaign creation in LinkedIn Campaign Manager

LinkedIn, during November 2018 released BETA version of “New objective-based campaign creation” (you could see this on the right-hand top side when you login to LinkedIn Ads) which aims to provide guidance for creating ad campaigns based on your marketing goals. The types of LinkedIn ads and all products remain standard as explained above, for the ease of advertiser’s understanding, it just reorganizes available ad types basis marketing objectives such as engagement, website visits or video views.

Know More: Ad formats for objective based advertising 

objective based campaign creation

A Short Video By Linkedin introducing Objective based Advertising below

 

The new exciting feature it brings in is, Forecasted Results in Campaign Manager which appears on the right-hand side while creating the campaign in new objective-based experience. Projections are available for 1, 7 and 30 days, respectively.

forecasted results in new campaign manager

LinkedIn is testing this out still (BETA Version is in market) and you could easily go back to the old campaign manager view by clicking on Change back in the upper right corner of the page below your profile image.

go back to old campaign manager

Handpicked related topics to Learn More:

Tips & Best practices for LinkedIn Ads

Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Step by Step Guide To Setup LinkedIn Ads

Linkedin ads are widely used in B2B marketing as it is the only advertising platform which knows the professional profiles across the globe in its most accurate form. It is unique because of the targeting features it offers. One can target end users by Job titles, profiles, seniority, job function and so on basis their individual public profiles on Linkedin professional network. In this blog, I will try to cover all the steps one needs to take for launching a campaign using Linkedin Ads in Campaign Manager tool.

Step 1: Access to Linkedin Campaign Manager

Before you start advertising on Linkedin, the first step is to have the access to Linkedin Campaign Manager. The Simplest way to do so is to click on “Work” followed by “Advertise” located on the right-hand top side as below.

Access to Linkedin Ads

Advertising on Linkedin is possible if you have a company page, showcase page or account on Linkedin to do so. Linkedin covers this in detail as here Creating an Account for Campaigns

Step 2: Create Campaigns using Linkedin Campaign Manager

The second step is to choose an ad product in the Campaign Manager. Once prompted you will see 4 options as below.

  • Sponsored content – Mostly used ad product with native advertising, I have used this as an example to explain steps to launch a campaign further in this blog.
  • Dynamic Ads – a new development with Linkedin launched about 2 months ago.
  • Text Ads – Traditional desktop only ads
  • Sponsored InMail – Direct messages or In mails going from company or person to person, very hot in job markets today!

Linkedin Ad Products

Step 3: Create Sponsored Content

Sponsored content is the most used option and native form of advertising with Linkedin Ads. The ads you create here are published in the Linkedin feeds which an end user can see on various devices they may be using. It appears a bit differently on the desktop, laptop and mobile devices basis difference in screens and resolutions for instance. click on Select here.

Sponsored content linkedin

Step 4: Enter Campaign Information

Enter the name of the campaign in the first field, you may want to add a new ad group or select existing ad groups from drop down here under “Campaign Groups” an Ad group is a convenient way to keep your budgets, metrics and performance summary under one view. Consider using this if you have more than one business unit/product or solutions in your company. Once all details are entered here, click on next.

Campaign Information Linkedin Ads

Step 5: Define Business Objectives

You will notice 3 options here as given in the screenshot below.

a) Send People to website/content: Select first option if you prefer using the landing page for promotion on your website, people would click on your ads and then visit your landing page or a specific web page you specify here. you can decide different ad types to direct traffic to your landing or promotion page later. It is also possible to add conversion tracking to measure the conversions from your ads in this option.

objectives linkedin ads

b) Leads using Linkedin Lead Gen Forms: Lead gen forms are quite popular with a lot of B2B advertisers. They are responsive and are very user-friendly. With the exchange of user’s information such as first name, last name, email ID etc. you could promote multiple types of ad formats to end users without a need to drive traffic to your landing page or website as such. Yes, you heard it right, users will remain on Linkedin and still get your asset in promotion. You have a choice from 1 to a maximum of 7 form fields to be filled in by the end users clicking on your ads. There are loads of options to connect your CRM or marketing automation software to Linkedin lead gen forms as well. Lead gen forms need to be set up before you launch a campaign though!

Please note that lead gen forms could easily be coupled with Image Ads, Video ads as desired.

c) Get Video Views: this option is meant for advertisers looking to sponsor videos on Linkedin feeds.

Step 6: Choose Ad formats

Basis the business objectives you selected above for Linkedin Ads (a, b or c) the choice of ad formats would vary.

For a) sending people to your website or content and b) Leads using LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms you could promote an article, image or link; carousel ads- meant to promote a story through a series of ads or create a video ad to engage your target audience.

send people to your website or content on Linkedin Ads

For c) Video views – its straightforward as you could only create videos for the same.

create video ads


Step 7: Build Ads

Before you could create ads, it’s important that you have the full administration right over your company/Showcase page or your company page admin on Linkedin has grated you the access as “Campaign Manager” for publishing ads on your company’s behalf.

build linkedin ads

In this step, you could “select existing content” – all ads from your past campaigns would be listed here, or you could “create new sponsored content”. Click on “Create sponsored content” on right-hand side to get started.

Name your sponsored content. Select image and type in your ad copy. For image ads, best is to have an image size of 1200 x 627. Save the ad you just created. You will be routed back to the previous screen.

create sponsored content

Click the checkbox on left hand side and select “Sponsor selected content”

sponsor selected content

Step 8: Audience Creation

This is the most important and crucial setup as it defines your audience and targeting features. It remains commons despite of any ad type/ format or objective you may choose. The target audience sections on the right hand top side changes dynamically as your audience size grows!  The Ideal is to have 100,000 and above.

1. Matched audience & location Targeting

matched audience and location targetig

Matched audience is another great feature but optional wherein you could:

Retarget your website visitors – Basis past visitors to your website or web pages, segments could be created by URLs which then could be used to target those visitors using Linkedin Ads. The minimum threshold for same is >=300 visitors though!

Target a list of accounts or contacts – Linkedin uses few excel templates to enable so.

Download Step by step guide to Linkedin account targeting

Download Advertiser checklist to account targeting

Location Targeting –  you could target people on Linkedin by country, state, city and town etc. >= 1 location is mandatory.

2. Specific targeting Criteria

You could select by company name, industry, job title, function, seniority, skills, years of experience and so on as given in this screenshot

Quick pro tip: Exclude your company by name to avoid serving impressions to your own employees. 2 to 3 parameters work best in an ad campaign. For example, mix job seniority with job function and years of experience, or, use company size and job titles.

specific targeting criteria

3. Linkedin audience network and Audience expansion

Linkedin Audience network – is the network of Linkedin partner websites and apps which moves your ad out of targeted Linkedin feeds in the steps mentioned above. I recommend this for brand awareness campaigns but not for targeted B2B advertising.

Know more about Linkedin Audience Network

Additionally, you could also exclude certain categories of mobile apps and sites from Linkedin audience network.

exclude categories from linkedin audience network

Audience Expansion – This is a very tricky feature, in my experience, if campaigns are not getting you leads, this works in uplifting the performance. It can also, however, get you unnecessary leads from the audience totally out of the targeting parameters you may have defined.  Linkedin, however, says that it broadens the reach of your campaign by showing it to audiences with similar attributes to your target audience.

Once you are satisfied with all targeting parameters in this step click on Next (right hand bottom side)

Step 9: Bids, budgets and Schedule

Select goal of the campaign from the dropdown, awareness, website visits or conversions (needs conversion tracking setup on your webpage)

Define daily budgets, your actual spends, usually are 20% higher though! In this step, Linkedin will show you minimum bid to reach your audience.

Bid Types: Choose from Automated (utilizes machine learning to maximize budget efficiency) or maximum CPC bid (manually bidding for cost per click you are willing to spend)

Know more about LinkedIn’s Advertising Cost & Bid Types 

Setup start, end date, total budget and click on launch the campaign on right hand bottom side to get started with your campaign.

bids budgets and schedule

Conclusion

Linkedin ads bring in significant value to B2B advertisers and marketers today, it is very focused and helps in driving demand and brand awareness in different stages of buyer’s journey. No other advertising platform or tool can target users by their professional job profiles, thus, LinkedIn also enjoys complete monopoly in this market. Advertising on LinkedIn is not cheap as well! I have experienced CPCs ranging from anywhere between $7 to 21$ or more in a few cases and CPMs going anywhere from $21 to $67 or more in few cases. Automated bidding works best for initial few days (70 to 10 days), once you observe the trends and performance from your campaign it’s better to move into manual CPC bids which are more controlled at your end than relying on machine learning capabilities of Linkedin ads (where we don’t have a visibility into being an advertiser)

The narrower you get the price for your ads, increases, having said that, being too broaden in targeting is not good as well. I would recommend trying Linkedin ads for at least 45 days before deciding to continue or discontinue them further.

Related read – Types of Linkedin ads & When to use them

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

Social media is growing!

If I were to look at numbers for growth, the number of social media users worldwide in 2018 is 3.196 billion, up 13 percent year-on-year which is more than the growth in numbers of internet and mobile phone users put together.

Source: Global Digital Report

Brands have continued investing more in social media, while most of the social platforms have grown, few of them saw a downfall as well, for instance, recent news around Stumble Upon which is Mix now.

Globally, with Facebook Cambridge Analytical scandal being well known, there is a lot more user awareness, checks and need to bring in regulations for social media usage has been well recognized.

Brands need to approach social media bit differently than last year. Read More about ”Best Practices of social media Usage in 2017” as I covered it last year too.

In this blog, we will discuss the best practices a brand/company can adopt in 2018 and beyond to succeed in social media.

Choice of Social Media Platforms

I have noticed this multiple time with startups and founders trying to create a social media profile as the very first step after a website in developed. While it’s good to be omnipresent, for social media, choose only what is relevant to your business, having a clear vision and strategy for being on social media must be well drafted in advance probably with your business plan itself. For example, a B2B company selling data center services may not need Instagram where 61% of the platform users are between 18-34 years for instance. On the other hands, it’s good to have if you are in B2C business selling clothing to youngsters.

Best way to use Hashtags

• Hashtags are prominently used even outside Twitter today. Short and sweet ones with a direct message to your audience tend to perform than the longer ones. Adding a brand hashtag to the social media posts is a great way to get attention and drive engagements.

Use relevant hashtags, one on LinkedIn and 2 to 3 on Twitter trend well. Hashtags also trend differently across a season or a day. One must also look at using the trending hashtag which matters to the business basis seasonal/weekly or trending on Twitter trends.

Extend your hashtags across all marketing channels. Be it retail stores, your website, campaigns or newsletters, it will only add to your brand recall and eventually can be a hashtag you own.

Avoid distracting hashtags: Your call to action should be simple without too many hashtags to drive intended user behaviour.

• You could also tell the complete story using hashtags alone on Instagram, certainly, not on Twitter or LinkedIn, so feel free to use more of them on Instagram and few of them for better context setting on LinkedIn & Twitter. Example from My Instagram feed as below to tell a story using 8 hashtags.

Neeraj Instagram screenshot

Length of Social Media posts

• Tweet Copy: 280 characters or less is the official limit. Each link, which is the usual way of posting, reduces the character count by 24 characters, leaving 256 characters for the tweet copy.

• LinkedIn: headline has a text limit of 120 characters maximum and company updates could be 700 characters long. Your summary/About Us section has a limit of 2,000 characters. LinkedIn Publishing seems to have 120,000 characters limit after which Publishing will throw an error. While posting organic or paid advertising related posts, try to keep the posts under 150 characters to display the content across multiple devices, longer posts get truncated on tablets or mobile screens.

If you would like to learn more about character limits across social media platforms, my personal favourite for Publishing, Social Sprout has covered this in detail as here: “Know Your Limit: The Ideal Length of Every Social Media Post”

Organic and Paid Social Media Mix

Organic social media as a focus can be a good start for startups or businesses not ready to spend money. They should do regular postings, develop an organic follower and fan base. Otherwise called as Owned media as in the image posted below. Once they have a sound understanding of what works vs What’s not. They can consider spending money on paid media.

Owned media social

Nevertheless, Paid social media is of utmost importance as it gives you reach and you are not limited by the number of organic followers on a social platform. For instance, when you advertise on Twitter, you decide where to advertise and what, it’s not Twitter who decides basis your organic follower base. I have seen the reach/impressions going by over 3X in my experience which can be a significant number for any startup looking for wins without waiting months and years together to build an organic follower base. Organic success is a long journey anyway. Therefore, I would recommend using paid social media to get quick wins despite having a new business or a website.

Online Reputation Management

• Always hear the social media, have a team who does social media listening. You could also look at setting up a social analytics team or using tools like Brand Watch as social media is very dynamic, public sentiments being unheard can cost you money. Leading consumer brands like Dell and Google today, use this for sentiment analysis., research what’s being said on social media and product teams devise their product strategy basis the same.

Quick Pro tip: If you just analyze this carefully, you can quickly guess what’s wrong with a consumer brand for a specified time duration.

• Engaging with users and responding to them in time, across your social media channels is significant too.

Corporate Social Media Policy

If not already, employers must have a corporate social media policy encompassing details around what employees, stakeholders, and your business partners can post. In the long run, it can help to defend against legal trouble and security risks and It will also empower your employees to extend company messaging further as needed.

Know more about “How to Write a Social Media Policy for Your Company” by Hootsuite here.

Best Practices for Posts on Social Media

Content is king in marketing as always, try to categorize your posts basis buyer’s intent or buyers’ journey, one basic way to look at organizing your posts can be AIDA model or breaking your posts across your marketing campaign by Activities, Interest, Desire and Action for instance.

• Focus on best time and frequency to post. While one way to look at it is the industry standard way which I discussed in my blog about social media best practices last year. The other way to look at it is your social media data, what works best and when. Please be careful that if you use a publishing tool or post 4 times a day with defined time intervals, this method won’t work. Analyze data where your posts are random in a certain period only.

• People love urgency, adopting “limited time offer” or “incentives to download” can be a good try.

• This is well known and much relevant to advertising on social media, Posts with images or videos perform better than text alone ones. HubSpot stated similar earlier this year (32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business)

• Posts with images or visuals of human faces perform better than posts with any other images, at least in advertising.

For Video content, smart, simple. Lesser duration and anything with screen supers would work better. Last year. Google tested out 6 seconds video for YouTube Bumper ads, On LinkedIn, 15 seconds or lesser video content works best.

Repurpose your social content to gain a better understanding of the content performance. Sometimes a good post performs differently on a weekday than a weekend. Pilot, test, run and adopt what works better for you.

• You may be surprised but people love letters in caps and I have noticed this across search/PPC and social media marketing. Text with first letters in caps performs better than small letters.

Social Mentions are very important and must be done carefully only when needed, as most of it is in the public. I have seen people using it on LinkedIn as a new trend since last year, and it has gone up to a level of employees tagging their bosses to please without a context or reason. Business must know that every follower knows what you post in their news feeds, users also have an option of following you without even being your connection as such, so choose whom to mention for what, very wisely. It also applies to individual profiles across social media.

• Businesses can also look at using social media automation tools such as Buffer Social, Hootsuite or Social Sprout to plan social posts and their frequency, few of the social media management/monitoring tools I did cover in my blog last year for quick reference.

Hope you will find this blog useful, let me know your thoughts, comments or suggestions about more such best practices for social media usage in the comments section below.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

GDPR Implications For Digital Marketing

The Digital Marketing Context

You must have come across Privacy change notifications across your social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook if you logged in recently, it’s GDPR which is making these brands more cautious. Personal data and privacy discussions are a trending topic this year. If I were to look at data, “Google trends” at least says so. People have suddenly got interested since April 2018 which has not been the case in past otherwise.

google trends for GDPR

From the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal to growing concerns over ad tech fraud, a definite solution and regulation is needed more than ever, today. Fortunately, EU is pioneering this global need starting May 25 this year.

“GDPR” or “General Data Protection Regulation” will be enforced across 28 countries in the European Union by May 25 which aims to improve transparency and effectiveness of data protection activities.

This has been a major change in marketing regulations towards data privacy since last two decades. Whilst it implies multiple “To-Dos” to be implemented at an organization level to ensure GDPR compliance, Digital marketing as a function is at the centre stage of all campaign-related data collection and communication. In this blog, we shall be exploring more about Who, what, When, Where and How of GDPR implications for Digital Marketing as a function.

Who will be impacted by GDPR?

All 28 countries in the European Union, every business dealing with data of the customers and prospects residing in EU, despite the business being outside the EU.

What will be impacted in Digital Marketing?

Data Permissions:

Soft opt-ins are out of the window and not compliant, age-old tricks won’t work now, digital marketers will need to ensure hard opt-ins which must specify the purpose the data collection, why it needs to be stored and in what way it will be used in future.

Data Access

Users must have access to their data in your systems, Essentially, what data you have about them and they can also ask for it to be deleted.

Data Focus

Digital marketers must ask for what is really needed in specific. Remember how annoying it is when you download an app for music and it asks your permission for location. (very common on Android) which has ultimately led to another set of apps which advice on your privacy risks, DTEK by Blackberry or Sophos mobile security does the same for instance.

When is the Impact?

May 25, organizations were given 2 years to comply with all the requirements so far. Please educate your marketing, staff, IT department and web administrators with immediate effect.

What if we don’t implement GDPR compliance in Digital Marketing?

There are 2 tiers of administrative fines:

1) Up to €10 million, or 2% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.
2) Up to €20 million, or 4% of annual global turnover, whichever is higher.

Source: IT Governance

Not serious, Honda was fined £13,000 for an email alone – Read More

Where will GDPR impact in Digital Marketing?

Website

It implies to update your privacy policy, why information is collected and how it is being used. Landing pages on your website need to be GDPR ready /complaint. CRM and Emailer tools, you are using must have compliant features as well. If you are using front-end designs or forms on the website without any emailer automation tool as such, it’s time to ask individual consent with explicit permissions. I would also recommend using a mailer automation tool with your landing page forms.

Search

Any outreach campaigns for paid search in the EU should be dealt with caution, campaigns promoting download an asset in exchange of information should have an explicit consent. Google, for now, has been asking advertisers to own this as well. However, they will refine the policy soon for users in EU for consent. It seems a bit difficult for everyone as Google themselves are taking time to do this.

Additional Source: Search Engine Land

Social Media

On the usage side of these platforms, the consent and data use will be covered by the terms and conditions and privacy notices of each of these software tools in specific, thus, digital marketing may not need to worry here directly. Due to existing legislation which is known as EU-US Privacy Shield, US companies (including social media application providers) can self-certify and commit to this framework agreement which underpins their protection of EU citizen data entrusted to them. In a nutshell, it means that both you and your social media audience agree to the terms of the tools you use.

Most of the leading social media platforms have already announced being GDPR compliant or they are planning to have it soon.

Emailer Automation

This will be impacted the most in Digital marketing as it deals with an individual in specific through email IDs, directly hitting the privacy cord of GDPR. Emailer outreach programs have been bothering people across the globe for a while now. A lot of brands utilize this for organic growth including demand generation campaigns which may not be the best way forward, it also because of the fact, perhaps, that once a company commits to invest in marketing automation (say 6 monthly or yearly), it doesn’t not involve cost every time you run a campaign, Google AdWords for instance, is another channel which has a cost associated, every time you use it.

How can Digital Marketing function be made GDPR complaint?

Digital Marketers must know the chapter 3 of GDPR in details which talks about Rights of the data subject (your Target person in specific) which should serve the basic information to adopt best practices in digital marketing for making them GDPR compliant.

Rights of the data Subject:

1) Transparent information, communication and modalities for the exercise of the rights of the data subject
2) Information to be provided where personal data are collected from the data subject
3) Information to be provided where personal data have not been obtained from the data subject
4) Right of access by the data subject
5) Right to rectification
6) Right to erasure (‘right to be forgotten’)
7) Right to restriction of processing
8) Notification obligation regarding rectification or erasure of personal data or restriction of processing
9) Right to data portability
10) Right to object
11) Automated individual decision-making, including profiling
12) Restrictions

Quick implementation Guidelines for GDPR compliance

What should be done on your Website?

1) Update your privacy policy. This page must be duly reviewed and signed off by your legal counsel. Make this page easily available across your website’s navigation. A defined place in sitemap or footer of your website for instance.

2) You may want to use standard privacy policy complaint templates to learn, edit as appropriate with your legal team and publish.

Listing down few such websites that provide standard templates:

Termsfeed

Shopify

Free Privacy Policy Generator

WewillThriveUK (contains quick word template)

What should you include in your privacy notice? By Information Commissioner’s office (Guide)

3) Update your subscription form for blogs and newsletters to specify the reason for customers to opt-in explicitly.
4) All forms on landing pages should be linked to Privacy Page of your website.
5) You can also try the use of push notifications to send a message to your subscribers at any point in time

What should be done with your Emailer automation tools?

1) Provide an explicit Unsubscribe option for all your contacts.
2) Maintain a personal profile of your users specifying which data you have about them with a provision for them to delete a part of the whole of the data.
3) Run a smart email campaign to get new and explicit consents from users if not already (the past data may not be of much use) you may want to use a pop-up on your website if mailers don’t work.

What should be done with your CMS?

Most of the brands and plugins on WordPress have released new versions and updated their policy policies this week. It will continue to be the trend next week. It is high time you visit your CMS consoles and update all plugins and notifications, if not already.
Educate internal stakeholders and most importantly anyone who reaches out to your business prospects first. Sales department, for instance, is a must educate.

Reach out to all your marketing partners and agency to make sure they too adopt GDPR compliance for any campaigns on your behalf.

Conclusion

While GDPR aims to bring in more transparency and safeguard privacy rights of individuals and businesses in the EU, it also implies a direct hit to businesses and companies doing lead generation through emailers or direct cold calling targeting users in the European Union. This is much needed as it brings in more maturity to digital marketing as a function within an organization and safeguards interests of the end consumers at the end of the day. Smart marketers, however, can look at utilizing chatbots rather, for serving the needs of your customers in real-time.

There are guidelines to make your organization GDPR compliant, businesses have cropped up promising to make your organization GDPR ready, one must also look at having a full-time department or a Global compliance officer to ensure this is implemented strictly across your digital marketing and other organizational functions. It is certainly not easy to be GDPR compliant in long term. One can, however, start the journey towards becoming a GDPR compliant marketing function by following the steps as above.

  1. Know more about GDPR and chapter inclusions
  2. UK’s Information Commissioner’s website for Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  3. Direct Marketing Guidance, Must read of all marketing experts (pdf)

Hope you find this blog useful, what are your comments, thoughts or suggestions on GDPR implications for Digital Marketing, please let me know in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: The content of the blog post above (including all responses to comments in the section below) is not to be considered as any form of legal advice and should be used for information purposes only.

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

15 Best Practices For Social Media Usage in 2017

During Nov,16 mobile and tablet internet usage exceeded desktop for the first time worldwide and nearly 80% of all social media time is spent on mobile today. Undoubtedly, mobile is the future of digital marketing and social media. With the subsequent increase in smartphone usage and availability of free data plans, the user will have social media access at their fingertips like never before. This also means that the social media is destined to be noisier, more engaging and more influencing than ever before. I call it a monster – it can make or kill a brand. Whilst everyone is interested in making a brand, for self or for businesses today, it is important to know the best practices people and brands can employ to win from social media in 2017

time spent on social media

Listing down 15 Best Practices for Social Media Usage:

1) Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business

First and foremost, it is very important to be on the right social media platform. It is simple, Be on the platform which matters to you or your business. For instance, if you are in B2C business, Facebook first followed by Twitter and others make sense. On the other hand, LinkedIn and Twitter are best for B2B Companies, Facebook in B2B context is good for employee engagements, CSRs,  jobs and brand promotions.

2) Win Audience’s Trust

People follow you because of the trust they have in your content, product or service. Since decisions to follow or unfollow are made at the instance of a second today, it is important to be trustworthy, relevant and engage with your audience. Talk thought leadership and Please avoid direct sales as much as possible. Having said that its ok to have about 20% of your content promoting your brand. Remember 80% of the time, you are being followed because of the content which is interesting and engaging to your audience.

3) Visual Posts Lead Today

Make Your Posts Visually Appealing with the Use of Images and Videos. Research shows that social media posts that have a captivating image increase an audience’s willingness to click by 80 percent. Moreover, it’s 40 times more likely to be shared.

4) Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags pertaining to the subject of tweet or post only should be used. Also, use not more than 2 to 3 hashtags in one tweet or Post (remember its only 140 characters you need to communicate within) – Focus on keywords that are relevant to your business. Irrelevant hashtags will lead to loss of trust among your followers. Lesser the hashtags, more simplistic it Is for your audience to know the context of the tweet or post. In my experience, quite often, people don’t even click on the links being shared, from the tweet itself, they make an opinion and decide to retweet or disengage accordingly. Best practices also recommend using no more than two hashtags per Tweet

5) Branded or Unbranded Hashtags

Adopting a healthy mix of generic hashtags containing thought leadership driven content + branded hashtags (hashtags containing your brand name) is good. Branded ones should be used for brand campaigns, product or service specific promotions. Having more of latter is not advisable as mentioned in 80/20 rule above.

6) Keep it short (On Twitter in specific)

A Concise Tweet makes an impact. Try to maintain each Tweet focusing one specific message than trying multiple messages within one tweet. It also involves focused attention by your followers and thus helps in effective communication.

7) Curate and Connect

Retweeting relevant content and replying to Tweets are great ways to maintain a robust presence on Twitter, follow back when relevant people follow, say thanks when they follow, smile, be human. If possible, share a tangible value which they can appreciate such as a Whitepaper, report or business report.

8) Avoid Fake news

and negative stories as much as possible. This is getting serious, though there are groups trying to use it with intended fun and humor, Traction on social media and search is becoming questionable. This is one of the many reasons that 333,000 people have filed the petition seeking the ouster of Zuckerberg as the Facebook CEO.

9) Stay away

from dishonorable content such as racial, ethnic, sexual, religious, and physical disability (Until and unless you have a political agenda) related posts. Remember trolls are very common these days.

10) Avoid posting

any content pertaining to sensitive company information. Surrounding or promoting existing tweets/post from your employer’s Profiles should be fine otherwise.

11) People love data and it gives them credibility and confidence

While writing social content, try using more of numbers, facts, data and why, where & how of a story, chances of engagement are better and quicker in these cases.

12) Brand Recall

Basics of marketing communication, Have consistent brand messaging across all social media profiles. For instance, If LinkedIn says you are the best blogger in IoT your twitter profile should also say the same. Not to mention, it’s good to have similar look and feel of the brand across all social media properties too!

13) Best Time to Post

Does it matter? Yes, to some extent. Below are the best shots

Facebook Posts

best time to post

 

Twitter

twitter best time to post

 

YouTube

youtube best time to post

 

Linkedin

linkedin best time to post

14) Avoid engaging

You might not like them, but Please avoid engaging in inflammatory or inappropriate discussions about competitors.

15) Use more of mobile optimized (vertical) videos

The Next big thing in 2017, evident from the increase in smartphones and mobile data usage as stated above. The audience would prefer a video which doesn’t force a horizontal layout, It’s simple for me to keep continue using my phone vertically, You Know! Facebook live stream launch to Jeep’s video last year during Super Bowl all meant the same, Being Vertical is being intact!

Trust you find these Best Practices for social media usage in 2017, useful. Let me know your thought in the comments section below.

Explore More:

Disclosure: We may receive compensation for links to products on this website.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

Top 6 Social Media Listening Tools To Monitor Your Brand

Social media listening is identifying what is being said about your product, service, brand or the company on the internet.

In other words, social media listening is done to monitor the social media itself. In this blog, we shall talk about few of the best social media listening tools every business should be employing in their social media tactics.

The need for Social Media Listening

Social media is getting noisier!

It’s a monster which can make or kill your brand. You need to listen to all brand conversations online and monitor it appropriately to continue engaging more with conversations with potential to create a positive image for your brand. On the flip side, managing negative conversations about your brand with appropriate steps, is also an important step towards Online Reputation Management (ORM) or social media monitoring as such.

Here are top 6 social media listening tools for your business:

Google Alerts 

Decide topic, trend or your brand name and assign an alert with your Gmail ID. You are notified every time the keywords you decided are mentioned over the internet. The frequency of the alerts is also controlled by you. Effective, simple and this costs nothing at all.

google alerts

Hootsuite

A Canadian social media company, this is probably the most widely known and simplest tool of all. It offers simple social listening, weekly report dashboard with engagement and publishing features. The individual basic level package used to be free, If you have a personal blog or a small website, the Professional plan should suffice. More details in the screenshot below.

Explore Hootsuite

Hootsuite pricing

 

Social Mention – The Real-time search

Social Mention is a social media search and analysis tool that collects user-generated content on the internet such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, and videos etc. into a single stream of information.

This tool also provides sentiment analysis and classifies the overall sentiments into neutral, positive and negatives about your brand conversations online. It also provides top keywords associated with your brand mention over the internet.

social mention screenshot

IceRocket

IceRocket has been there for more than a decade now. Now, acquired by Melt Water. Traditionally, it has been used for blog searches and slowly expanded into searching social networking sites as well such as Twitter and Facebook. Big Buzz feature from Icerocket also allows users to search Blogs, Tweets, news, images etc. all from one page.

Ice Rocket social media

Tweetreach

As the name indicates, tweetreach is more about Twitter, This is helpful in case you want to check how far Your tweets reached. It’s a good way to find out your influential followers and decide best people to target for further twitter engagements.

Tweet Reach screenshot

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a software as a service which archives social media data in order to provide companies with information and the means to track specific segments to analyze their brands’ online presence. This tool also enables gathering customer feedback and uncover trends impacting your brand, products, and marketplace.

Brand watch screenshot

Keyhole

Keyhole is largely a product or website for measure real-time and historical social media data.

Keyhole social media

The bottom line

The Social media listening tools are plenty and growing every day. This list can be added with few more social media monitoring tools such as sociabble, addictomatic, HowSociable etc. However, I have tried covering the top 6 and most popular ones as above. The tool list here is essentially a mix of free and paid ones. You might want to evaluate the best choice of the social media listening tool by working with trial versions for a while. These tools will save your precious time and provide a comprehensive view of your social channels within a single dashboard. With the advent of social media and growing user base every year, the need to have an effective social media listening tool is increasing and it is the right time you pick one.

Related Read:

  1. 15 Best Practices For Social Media Usage in 2017
  2. Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018
Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

WhatsApp Encryption – What It Means to Users

WhatsApp started in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo! It is used to send text messages, documents, images, video, user location and audio media messages to other users using standard cellular mobile numbers with a data plan. Ever since Facebook acquired WhatsApp in Feb 2014, it has undergone significant changes and regular updates especially towards data protection and privacy features. This is much needed as WhatsApp has the incredible power of sharing any file, video, audio, text-based and so on in mere one click. The growing security concern has been around hackers, cybercriminals’ etc., their ability able to access user data and make users more prone to such easy attacks, the vulnerability has always been an area of concern. This also holds well with respect to recent clashes between FBI and Apple to unlock phones of the users under investigations.

For WhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging app, encryption has always been a need for users. User base in WhatsApp has crossed a billion mark during Feb 2015, followed by Facebook with about 800 million messenger users, which makes it even more important to provide efficient data protection to its users.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is all about encoding a message or information in such a way that it can only be read by authorized users where the information was intended to be shared.  In other words, all data is translated into secret code from the sender and send through a passkey, which only desired user can have access to. Traditionally, this has been used across organizations to increased security. Blackberry services with a data plan and emails, for instance, has been a big hit across enterprises over the last decade, arguably the safest enterprise email server.

Encryption power to WhatsApp

Recently during Apr 2015, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koumhas stated that they have been working for bringing about this encryption since last 2 year.  This is end to end encryption wherein “once the session is established, clients do not need to rebuild a new session with each other until the existing session state is lost through an external event such as an app reinstall or device change”. WhatsApp actually, had started encrypting the text messages in late 2014 itself. On April 5, it started encrypting all calls, photos, and videos as well.

This encryption, now, is enabled by default across all WhatsApp users if they are on latest update release which means if sender and receiver of messages have got the latest version of the app installed on their mobile devices, the encryption is bound to be enabled. However, the catch is that users don’t have an option for switching this feature on or off. Recently updated apps will show this message now

“Messages you send to this chat and calls are now secured with end-to-end encryption. Tap for more info.”

WhatsApp even states that user info cannot be accessed by any 3rd party except the sender and the desired receiver even they don’t have access to it, this statement is building a lot of credibility in the market today.

What it means to users

No changes in the ways you have been using WhatsApp, Having said that, now, it will be much more difficult to ensure law enforcement or provide copies of any user-specific communication to government authorities even if they wish to do so.

Files are important, please backup if you need them in future, WhatsApp doesn’t save anything on their servers which means files ones deleted can never be recovered, neither one can read them as they are all encrypted now. Group chats, however, are not encrypted, for now, so files, in this case, are safe.

In a nutshell, your private chats are safer now and world chats are safer than ever before. Most likely, all other chat services providers should start following the encryption process soon, With this, WhatsApp has set a brand new benchmark for them to follow for now.

 

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

How to Use Hashtags for Effective Communication

A hashtag is meant for categorizing your content into different buckets using “#” symbol, essentially a type of text-based label or Meta tag which enables users to find your conversations online with ease. Any combination of characters led by a hash symbol makes a hashtag. This was first proposed by Twitter in 2007 and ever since then, it has evolved from a means of identification to having a complete tweet chat or a conversation with enormous numbers of web audience in one go.

Hashtags – A Communication Tool for Marketers

Effective communication utilizing smart and focused content, technology with suitable channel mix connects better with your consumers. The hashtag is a powerful search tool, one can utilize it to search the content of choice, people, companies, brands and posts of their interests. Utilizing a hashtag enables communication with masses at the fraction of a second.

Hashtag which trends the most, easily gets noticed on left hand sidebar of the twitter feed, Linkedin Feed or trending topics in your area, it also means that conversations involving top trending hashtags have more chances of being noticed, one, because users want to know why it’s trending on top :), and two, because it conveys a message and people are really talking about it loudly on social media at any given point of time. Thus, Hashtags create conversations leading to engagement which is the primary need for marketers in the Digital Marketing world today. It is an important marketing tool for effective communication across the masses, identifying conversations pertaining to your interests and engaging with your target customers accordingly. It is measurable, impactful and everlasting.

Marketers, today, are using hashtags for engagements across events promotions, customer services, satisfaction surveys, broadcast media including opinion polls, sentiment analysis, deal based marketing to recommended next step for their brand, social media listening, and social media monitoring as well.

Let’s look at platforms where you can use hashtags as a communication tool today:

Platforms that support hashtags

  • Twitter – It’s important to take Twitter’s name first as they are use more prominently here. #kingofhashtags, this is the social media platform which brought hashtags to life and made them so popular today. Twitter was created in March 2006.
  • Facebook – A late entrant, FB announced its support for clickable hashtags in June 2013.  Ready for marketers to leverage now.
  • Instagram – You can use hashtags on Instagram to complement photos you share.
  • Tumblr – Posts here, have a special feature called “tag”, this works pretty much like a twitter hashtag
  • Pinterest – Ideal use for hashtags here is to mark and search content.
  • LinkedIn – It was not supported on LinkedIn earlier, they tried using it for a while, but abandoned them in 2013. The good news came in August 2016 wherein Linkedin enabled Hashtags again with improved features for Search

Apart from the few important ones above, hashtags are also used in Vine, Flickr, YouTube comments etc.

Best practices for using Hashtags

  • Decide your Brand Hashtag – Arriving at your brand hashtag is the key to longevity, it’s evergreen and will continue for the lifetime of your brand. This can be your brand name, your brand positioning or similar. Brand name should definitely be at least one of your hashtags if not more. Be sure that it’s not used by someone else already. Try using this across your brand conversations or campaigns. For instance, my brand hashtag is #steptoinbound
  • Research and research – The Obvious step before arriving at your brand hashtag, while it’s very easy if you decide your brand name itself as a hashtag, equally time-consuming and difficult if you are using it for a campaign specific promotion, thorough research is the key to get this right.
  • The right placement – There are multiple ways to use a hashtag in a post or tweet, however, the good approach is to use them into natural language flow of your posts and tweets, if not, try using them on a separate line after your tweet and post. This usually works better and gives unique place to your favourite hashtags.
  • Tactical hashtags – These are short terms ones or the hashtags which are a subset of your main brand. You may use them for campaign specific initiatives such as events, online campaigns, polls etc. It will be good to keep them short crisp and with a clarity of its meaning. #ShareaCoke is a well-known example with clear meaning.
  • Avoid too many hashtags – It’s good to have a maximum of 3 hashtags in a tweet, one, you have 280 characters to plan content, Secondly, you need space for the key message to be written as well.
  • Shout them across – Please use them the viral way, it’s good practice to shout with them across your mailers, landing pages, website pages (wherever offerings are relevant) and across all your campaigns, this gives easy recall, people can associate with you easily, and in the long run, no one else will take it 🙂
  • Advertising amplification – It’s good to amplify them across your social media campaigns too. E.g. FB ads
  • Avoid abusive or offensive hashtags – Twitter often censors trending hashtags. For instance – Twitter censored the #Thatsafrican and #thingsdarkiessay hashtags after users complained that they found the hashtags to be offensive. This has reached a new high level this month (Apr 2016), traditionally Twitter users have been flagging abusive tweets separately, while users can now, flag multiple abusive tweets in a single report. Instagram goes up to a level of banning the hashtag itself. For instance #EDM , #curvy were banned by Instagram due to dual meanings and offensiveness associated with #curvy in specific. Thus, please avoid such hashtags.

 

Ideal character limit for Twitter – It’s 280 Now 

Twitter limited Tweet length to 140 characters making the definition of a “character” and how they are counted central to any Twitter application, earlier. In late 2017, it was confirmed to be 280-characters. Initially, brands were reluctant and questioned creativity of Twitter, however, it is being seen as a positive trend now.

The bottom line

Whether it is about providing customer satisfaction or influencing a buyer behaviour, hashtags are evolving since 2007, users, today are adapted to hashtags more than ever before. People want to be heard in noisy online social media. People of all age groups are using multiple hashtags within a post to make their voice heard. News channels are conducting live debates which have changed from having TRPs alone to being trending number 1 in the Twitter feed, direct influence is relational.

with that being said, using multiple hashtags in one post may not be the right approach, for marketers, the next step will be to use them more strategically, in line with their marketing goals and leverage them enough across years to come. It is going to be a key metrics to measure your social media performance. The hashtag you decide in general for a conversation, most likely would have been already existing and may not give you exclusivity over it,branded hashtags are something you need to own and decide quickly for leveraging it in the long run.  Marketers also need to have a suitable mix of strategic hashtags for their brands which is in line with their brand name, vision or a unique offering which they will continue for  years to come, Simultaneously they need to create tactical hashtags which they can utilize for short-term marketing campaigns, event promotions, tweet chats and so on.

 

Related Read:

15 Best Practices For Social Media Usage in 2017

Top 6 Social Media Listening Tools To Monitor Your Brand

Best Practices for Social Media Usage in 2018

What are your thoughts on the Best practices for social media/ hashtags usage this year? Please let me know in comments section below.

Neeraj

Neeraj

Neeraj is a Tech Marketer with 9+ years of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing. At StepToInbound, Neeraj writes about Website, Search, Social Media and Marketing Automation practices.

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