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.
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%)
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!
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.
Here is what Wikipedia Says
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.
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.
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.
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.
Quick Pro Tip:
Replace old creative with new ads instead of adding new.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Not serious, Honda was fined £13,000 for an email alone – Read More
Where will GDPR impact in Digital Marketing?
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.
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.
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?
Listing down few such websites that provide standard templates:
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.
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.
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.
2017 for marketing has been a year of transformation, the realization of issues concerning common man and coming up with proactive measures to overcome difficulties consumers face today. From emphasizing more upon digital channels, increasing twitter character lengths to realizing and acting upon fake news in the late 2017, brands today, are becoming more and more consumer-centric. Marketing is evolving and there is a long way to go. In this blog, we shall discuss 20 marketing trends brands should watch out for in 2018 and years to come.
Machine learning, inevitably, will change the way brands consider marketing to their customers today. By now, you must have tried looking at a product on an e-commerce site and the very next second the same product is shown to you across your mailbox, apps you download and websites you visit in multiple ad formats. It will rise more and more with dynamic shift mobility and android market is taking today. Basically, it’s a use case of Machine learning in digital advertising and termed as Retargeting. Leading companies such as Facebook, Google, and Vizury enable this for marketers to effectively target their audience for improved conversions. It also brings in the Real-time application of ads to the desired audience and cut on unwanted spends as machines can learn quicker than human beings. Essentially, personalized and better-targeted ads, real-time application and ability to learn quickly will eventually be more cost effective for businesses. Thus, it will continue to rise in 2018 and marketers will see increased investments in machine learning as a capability.
3. Limiting Gated Content
Creating a simple landing page and gating content has been useful in past few years. From necessary to unnecessary gating of content, and forcing users to submit a form in exchange for an asset, offer or benefit has been overused. Brands like Zendesk and Hubspot have already started using the mix of gated and nongated content. Customers would prefer not forcing them to fill a form every time they need an asset from your website. This trend will see more traction and brands will choose what to gate and what not to gate in 2018. Using a suitable mix and differentiating gated and ungated content will be key to success in 2018.
4. LinkedIn gets life
LinkedIn in 2017, have made multiple improvements to the platform. Last month, I also noticed Akshay Kothari, Head of LinkedIn India, promoting thought leadership driven video bytes often candid conversations, essentially, targeting youth, B2B professionals, and Job seekers, the Purpose LinkedIn is well known for. I personally felt its lot more life on LinkedIn as It is sometimes boring talking business all the time on LinkedIn. This trend will surely be noticed by leading brands, and people will try bringing in youth, new thoughts and candid conversations on LinkedIn. With free data plans floating all around, the video is going to be an integral part of LinkedIn in 2018.
On Linkedin editors, news feed appears like the example given below.
Twitter didn’t grow in 2017, due to limited improvements in the ad platform and focus on user acquisitions rather, in 2017. There is some positive news on user base and numbers which started growing post-Oct 2017. The increase character length from 140 characters to 280 characters now has been a debatable topic as well. Experts say that Twitter’s technology lags than that of Facebook and Google. The fanciness of hashtags, however, is not going to decline and brands will continue using Twitter in 2018. By what percentage, time can only tell for now.
6. Rise of Instagram
According to Brandwatch, Instagram now reaches an average audience of 500 million people daily in the third quarter of 2017, more than double that of Snapchat or Twitter (each has fewer than 200 million daily active users). Over 200 million people use Instagram Stories each month, which is over 50 million more than those who use Snapchat, as reported in Business Insider.
Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom told Variety earlier this year: “People say Instagram is super positive and optimistic. If you take a close look at 2017 statistics provided by the Instagram, He seems right, if u glance through the Top hashtags of 2017:
It has become a must-have for celebrities, controversial artists, photography enthusiasts and fitness freaks to grow their follower base. Irrespective of a need or no need, Users are experimenting with Instagram. Whilst it’s good to have 2 to 3 hashtags in a tweet, at least until Twitter had 140 characters limit. Instagram has the exact opposite to play, and it provides more liberty to users. Users are adopting more and more of hashtags to get heard in noisy image place. There aren’t any hashtag limitations as such, but according to, a TrackMaven study of Instagram accounts with 1,000 followers or fewer, posts containing four or five hashtags received an average of 22 interactions compared to 14 interactions on posts with zero hashtags.
7. Net neutrality – loses or wins – Impact is the imperative
As per dictionary, it’s the principle that Internet service providers or ISPs should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking products or websites. In recent development at the US, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington voted to dismantle the “net neutrality” rules. Basically, giving more power to cable and telecom companies to control future of the web. Advertising revenues will eventually start moving towards Telecom and cable companies as marketers will have better avenues for consumer profiling and targeting there. I also see the premium charges being applied to advertising there.
8. Rise of ad blocking tech
Recent report during March 2017 explained that ad fraud will cost brands $16.4 billion globally and nearly 20 percent of total digital ad spend was wasted in 2016. It is a growing concern among advertisers and publishers today. It has been bothering Google for some time now. From acknowledging this to be a problem in July 2017 to refunding advertisers for fake ads, Google did it all to regain advertiser’s faith. There is no definite solution to this problem in 2017, there will be focused attention in 2018 by leading brands such as P&G, I personally loved the speech by Marc Pritchard from P&G in Jan 2017 wherein he slammed platforms for lacking uniform standards. Earlier this year, P&G’s programmatic partner The Trade Desk partnered with bots-detection company White Ops eliminate ad fraud, before buyers are charged, from inventory offered by supply-side platforms. This opens new avenues for ad fraud solutions and more service providers in 2018 as brands today, don’t even have a transparent visibility of where their ads were actually shown.
9. Voice Search in 2018
An estimate by ComScore says, by 2020, almost 30 percent of searches will be done by, without a screen. Google, on the other hand, says, about 20 percent of search queries via its app are through voice search. Readiness for voice search will be the need of brands in 2018. More investments expected in voice search friendly websites, apps, it may also lead to the adoption of chatbots/ artificially intelligent virtual assistants to power voice search queries in some cases. Amazon and Google, for instance, have released mini-Wi-Fi speaker for the home, respectively. This possesses a challenge to Google as it limits monetization opportunities.
10. Privacy breach & Marketing
This the topic I love the most, Blackberry Passport , which was way ahead of its generations and Blackberry 10 OS has been killed officially (For now, deadline by blackberry is for 2019) as it was too secure and covering your privacy so much that even the basic blackberry browser could tell you and ask your permission if a website is trying to know your location (At least at that moment). Something which Google always wants from you and even does it without your knowledge. For instance, if you just go to Amazon.com and try buying a product shipping internationally from the US, it says “it can be shipped or not” without actually taking user’s consent. Thanks to Android and China making cheapest possible aAndroiddevices on earth. Basically, you either choose an Android or an Apple ecosystem, the latter being costlier Apple ecosystem, market is growing faster on former one. With growing Android devices and mobile taking the centerstage, your privacy is at risk. In one sentence, Google knows everything about you. Likewise, Xiaomi knows everything about Redmi devices as you have an MI account to sync it all. For brands, it’s the good news as they can target more users, more apps and more personalized customer choices and offers they wish to. Maintaining a fine balance between offering what is required and avoiding too much of content push will determine their success in 2018.
11. Questionable state of Social Media
Power and Politics can overrule social media today. Influencer social media campaigns are at all-time high. One thought vs other, one political party vs other. Smart marketers are using this opportunity to create biased or unbiased content, distribute and monetize from it. Social media is a new mandate for political parties, and marketers will continue to earn more from it in 2018. State of social media remains questionable as One can hire thousands of social media advocates/employees and troll whomsoever they want. Thus, every discussion can become an argument leading to end of the very thought process itself. Above all, fake robots are also being used to gain likes, spike traffics and numbers, eventually, resulting in ad fraud as well. Few classic videos I found as below, where China seems leading the innovation 🙂
Like factory in China
How Fake Likes are Made
12. Dark Social and Web analytics limitations
It’s dark when people share content through private channels such as instant messaging programs, messaging apps, incognito mode in some cases and email. Simply stating, any web traffic that’s not attributed to a known source is dark social. It is very difficult for marketers to measure anything coming into their website through dark social. While there are certain ways brands can manage it but this it’s a marketing opportunity lost as no one knows how to address this. This trend will continue to rise in 2018 as well.
13. Facebook is the new video platform
During last few months, we noticed a significant number of video posts across Facebook unlike traditional images and content posts. Though there are ad inserts within the videos shown on Facebook which is annoying sometimes, but the mix of liking a page and getting all content from a Facebook page seems working for brands today, it is on demand as you go to Facebook anyway for social media. YouTube on the other hand has the bell icon and subscribing option to do so. But I would go to YouTube primarily for Videos and not for any other form of content. Apart from this, the content repurposing in phenomenal In B2C brands marketing on Facebook. Clearly, Facebook has an upper edge here, with introduction of Facebook watch in August 2017, and continued growth in videos for over 100 million hours of video watch time, much before “Watch” was launched, and free mobile data plans all around, it is poised to move ahead and be the biggest video platform.
14. Rise in Mobile money means more avenues for advertisers
2018 will be a year of massive shift in way we do payments together. From Android & Samsung Pay, Tez by Google to digital mobile banks being a reality, next year will see increase in digital payments. Amazon Pay, Paytm at India are few such examples. This will though, lead to complex partner ecosystems and demand a need for regulations.
15. B2B events won’t die
At least in B2B marketing, people still believe events and trade shows are important to be present, at least the generation born before 80s. I have also seen a lot of resistance to change and shifting budgets towards Digital Marketing, as they say, People are resistant to change in general. Events also involve Face to face discussions and being felt in public view. Though digital marketing budgets will continue growing, people won’t leave B2B events and conferences and experienials spends either.
16. Gaming videos are New content for engagement
Animation is going in full swing. Gaming companies such as Unilad are using Facebook and showing snippets from the game story itself for engaging users are providing them with the look and feel of the game before it is released. The level of engagements shows it’s working. I see this as a growing trend in 2018 wherein brands will invest more on Facebook and Instagram to gain from such engagements online.
17. Media Surround on gaming consoles
I use an old Sony PlayStation 3, I noticed these Gaming consoles also offering the Content platform to watch videos such as YouTube, Yupp TV and Amazon Prime. This has been there for some time now but the addition of new website/miniature app versions are incremental. In 2018, marketers will have a definite reach to the users using Gaming consoles.
18. More telcos will offer digital content consumption – Free and Paid
At least in the Indian markets, from Airtel, Idea to Reliance Jio, every telecom company is trying to create a content ecosystem of movies and media channels to gain and retain existing users, which is mostly free for end customers. It’s a new mandate, for all leading telecom companies in 2018. This content trend is currently dominated by Netflix and new entrant Amazon in the West for now. Few telecoms, are though offering free data if you buy some data from them. For marketers, this too, will provide more reach and personalized messaging to the audience and new revenue streams for telecom companies.
19. Customer Experience will continue to be a focus in 2018
A classic case is with a mid-segment, Chinese brand like OnePlus which has been innovating with every launch they made from Dash charging to frequent patch updates android users always ask for, respecting every flagship they launched and promising Android Oreo updates Dash charging – is something lot of leading brands failed to recognize even today. Almost every query or concern was addressed by social media/leadership team at OnePlus directly truly living up to their brand positioning of #NeverSettle. Brands should use 360 degree / all marketing channels to hear customer voice and address them in public. Essentially, consistent improvement in customer experience results in free word of mouth and therefore, save your marketing dollars.
20. Bitcoin and Blockchain – Marketing Implications
The Harvard Business Review describes “Blockchain” as “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. This is very recent and a trending topic amongst marketers. From verifying ad delivery to paying for content creation, distribution and to rewarding customers. It has a whole new set of applications. I liked a blog covering this topic in detail as here. Twenty-Seven Ways Marketers Can Use Blockchain
Trust you found this blog useful, please let me know your feedback, comments and suggestions the comments section below.
Press releases are one of the most organic ways to build backlinks and gain better SEO ranks. Press releases often called as PR otherwise, can add lot more value to your organic search efforts and help obtain better organic traffic to your website when done right.
In this blog, we shall talk about Press release SEO, all the best practices, and a quick checklist to optimize your every day press releases. Having said that, one needs to be very careful in over optimizing a press release for SEO as Google can penalize you for same.
I will segregate best practices for optimizing a press release into the 3 sections as below, please note, much importance is given to steps before a press release go out to the public as you will have limited control then, specifically in cases where you are working with a PR distribution partner like PR Newswire or so.
Before drafting a Press Release
While drafting a Press Release
After drafting a Press Release
Step 1 – Before you Start drafting a Press Release
Important points to consider here:
Create unique content for each press release.
Publish the press release on your website at least 2-3 days before submitting it to external press release websites.
Select the right keywords
Basics first, selecting the right keyword is very fundamental for all SEO efforts, I will talk about keyword research process in another detailed blog soon. For now, let’s look at how interestingly, marketers can select right keywords for the press releases as such.
What is the theme of the press release? SEO professionals would know that Latent Semantic Indexing or LSI plays an important role in how search engines extract different meanings of the same keyword and rank different web pages accordingly. Try using a very effective tool called LSI Graph for getting ideas around same. For instance, “Apple” as a word can have multiple meanings/associations as below
What industry does this press release target? Will my keywords matter to the relevant industry and target group?
What kind of words, people might search? (try searching the same words and observe the kind of results shown by Google – if they do not show the right results, change the word)
Is it focused on specific geographies or specific platforms?
Avoid aiming for keywords competition is already well ranked for, instead, try positioning your content and keyword around niche topics and areas. Google recently confirmed that 15 percent of searches we see every day are new. Thus, there is a new scope every day.
Ideas from other tools
Auto Complete: Try google auto-complete in search bars, it shows the most prominent search queries for each keyword you try.
Google Trends:A wonderful tool to know search trend for each keyword, provides region wise split with up to 5 years and compare multiple terms as well.
Keyword Planner Tool:A built-in tool in Google AdWords which can help you understand keywords, associated volumes and much more.
Step 2 – While drafting a Press Release
Before we jump into this step, lets us look at the anatomy of a press release. At a broader level, it can be categorized into logo or image, headline, body, Related read, About Company, Signature, and Safe Harbor. Example as here to know more
Focus on Headline of the Press Release
Most of the websites distributing your press release would define the headline as the H1 tag. Since search engines consider H1 tags when evaluating a website, it is important to optimize the headline. Following are some suggestions:
Include a targeted and relevant keyword in the press release headline.
It’s a difficult practice and may sound a bit impractical to PR professionals, it works though! Try Limiting the headline length to 60 characters since the search engines display up to 60-65 characters in search results. If the headline length cannot be limited to the specified characters, ensure that the newsworthy part is in the first 60 characters.
Ensure that the headline is conciseand relevant to the news being shared.
Try to include a Sub-headline. Incorporate additional keywords/phrasesnot included in the headline in 1 above.
Introduction is of utmost importance
While accessing a web page, search engines crawl from top to the bottom. Since the Introduction section is at the beginning of the press release, it is advisable to optimize it by including targeted keywords. Keywords that are important from a business and SEO standpoint, which could not be included in the headline earlier, could be included in your introduction section here.
PR professionals can also try to add schematic variations into the paragraph, for example: in the first few sentences of the press release you could use language like “Executive of a Consulting Firm” as a variation of “New CEO”
Body Section SEO
Structure, Content & Length
Create precise content relevant to the press release headline.
Focus on the most important message at the top.
Maintain a word count between 500-800 words for the press release.
Maintain a structured flow and use additional sub-headings in the content if required.
Content of every press release should be unique to avoid penalty from search engines and press release directories for duplicate content issues.
Include photos, videos and other multimedia whenever possible.
Make the plain text stand out with formatting (Bold, italic, underlined or bulleted text)
Only those keywords that are relevant to the press release should be included. Usage of targeted keywords rather than generic terms is recommended.
Include important keywords in introduction, sub-headings, first paragraph of the body.
Try including 1-2 relevant keywords as early as possible because while crawling pages, search engines access the content from top to bottom. So, important keywords which are placed higher in the press release body can be easily crawled by the search engines.
The allocation of the keywords in the press release body should look natural. Include broad match keywords if exact match keywords cannot be included.
Anchor Text Inclusion
Anchor text in the press release body should refer to links that are relevant to the content and topic of the press release.
Avoid giving open-ended anchor text like “Click here” or “Do more”. Instead be specific “Watch Video of management discussions on Q1 results”. Having similar text links will make the process look natural.
In addition to linking to the Home page, also link to internal pages of the website which are relevant to the topic.
Only include unique links (Avoid using the same Anchor text & avoid targeting the same URL more than once in the article)
Step 3 – After drafting a Press Release
About Company/Signature Section of Press Release
Include the exchange, stock symbol and International Securities Identifier Number (ISIN), Or similar numbers based on your country regulations.
While publishing the press release, create a unique content for About Company/Signature section and use the same for press release submissions to external websites.
Whenever possible, About Company /Signature section should have one hyperlink to the Home page with the anchor text of “Your Company Name”.
Using Images & logo in Press Releases – SEO Tips
Using targeted keywords in the Image ALT tags helps to increase the SEO value of the images being used. The ALT attribute needs to be defined within the <img> tag, used to define the source of the image within the HTML page. The ALT attribute must be defined for every image present in the press release. (This should be implemented on your website and those websites which allow editing press release code.)
Optimize the image file name to include a relevant and targeted keyword. Optimization of file names by including relevant keyword should be done before the image is uploaded.
Include an image caption to describe the image and its relevance. (This should be implemented on your website and those websites which allow editing press release code)
The moments in our daily life when we look out for a device (laptop/Desktop Mobile Devices & Tablets) to take an action on things we want or need right now are micro-moments. Quite often, devices we use are mobile devices, the gadget which is always in our proximity.
Micro-moments though is a recent development with Google in 2015, they launched it as an important step in fracturing consumer’s journey into intent driven micro-moments. It is an opportunity for Marketers to influence the buyers by focusing on micro-moments in 2017 to meet their business goals.
Types of Micro-moments:
Google officially, classifies these into:
I want to Know – Consumers are exploring or researching for and not yet decided to buy.
I want to Go – Consumers are considering buying from a local store or eating at a local restaurant.
I want to Do – Possible before or after a purchase is made. People want help in getting things done or try something new here.
I want to buy – Very important, people have made the decision to buy and may need help in deciding what and how to buy. People move in store and research online about the same product very often while being in the store itself.
Why Marketers need to focus on micro-moments
Mobile devices are closest you can get any info you want at your fingertips. Earlier, In Nov 2016, Mobile traffic to websites, for the very first time, surpassed traditional desktops, tablets, and PCs. Google, during Nov, 16, started testing mobile first indexing for natural search ranks. It means data from mobile devices would, primarily, be used for awarding search engine rankings. This has not been a case traditionally, though, which was more about desktops and PCs focused approach. Therefore, increase in mobile traffic data, Google’s focus on mobile first indexing and relevance of Micro-moments from mobile devices is a clear indicator of next big wave in search, marketers need to consider in their marketing plans in 2017
Things marketers should do
It’s all about being there at the very moment, relevant and fastest when your consumers needed you the most.
Anticipate micro-moments of consumers in your industry
What, Where and How they search for information. Utilizing search marketing and SEO Skills can help you understand their goals and aspirations while doing so. Use Search insights, Opportunities using mix and match of SEO tool, (Such as SEM Rush) Google trends, Webmaster tools and consumer surveys to identify seasonal behaviour shown by your consumers online.
The closest anticipation from the step above means you know what your consumers are looking for. It is obvious that you also need to be relevant and most appropriate. Recent algorithm update called Google Penguin, 4.0 update enables changes in real- time. Being there with anticipation is one part sustaining there is another. Being most relevant to your consumer certainly, will provide you with that edge in Google’s micro-moments.
29% of smartphone users will immediately switch to another site or app if it doesn’t satisfy their needs (that is, they can’t find information or it’s too slow). Its micro-moment you are aiming for, it needs to happen at an instance when consumers just searched for your interest area in doing business. Users on mobile devices need to know quickly, buy uninterruptedly. Keeping your mobile User experience seamless and top class is the need of the hour. You must look at paid advertising (AdWords) in case you are still not there organically. For example, flight cancellation on a weather troubled day is a clear indication for hotels near airport area to go on paid advertising, saying, “Flights got cancelled today due to bad weather, no worries, stay with us today at 50% off, show your flight cancellation SMS to avail this offer” If you notice, you are there at right time and at the very micro-moment itself. There can be better use cases too.
Managing Negative mentions
Very important, always be careful about the micro-moments you never want to be a part of. Even if you have a negative news/story and it’s trending in media, your marketing/PR team needs to ensure that there are subsequent Positive mention, influencers, and good PR/ thought through improvements in customer satisfaction to support the same.
For instance, while searching “worst hotel in the world” here is what you get, High time their marketing needs to fix this. No hotel would ever want to be here as you know 🙂
The Bottom Line
Unlike last few years, Mobile traffic is going to increase further, the proximity of mobile devices to its user’s make it important for brands to consider putting in sincere efforts to make it in Google’s Micro-moments. Anticipation and research of what your consumers will be searching about will be the key to all your efforts. Brands also need to look at word of mouth, primary research and talking to their customers so as to understand what matters to them. Brands should also look at connecting dots and similar observations between social media, data from search marketing team, call center support, local and store merchandising etc. to get most realistic micro-moments your customers are searching for and plan ahead to be there.
You must have noticed a box-like structure while trying to type in a search query, especially on Google search. It is also quite possible that you may also find the content in the box and the immediate ranking page below to be exactly same. These, mostly appear from any of the top 5 listing pages in SERPs, having said that it can also appear from pages, not in top 5 ranks. It can be a paragraph, a list (bullets, numbers) or a table snippet as well. For instance, StepToInbound ranks as below in featured snippets.
Google terms this box as a “Snippet Box” often called as Quick answer box or direct answers, rich answers in search too. It was launched by Google in 2014. This should not be confused with knowledge graphs which directly pulls relevant information from Google’s data sources. It is a normal search result, emphasized with the special layout to provide quick answers to users.
What can it do to your brand?
Great things, more visibility on top of all Search results, standing out from clutter and crowd, more clicks to your website and better CTRs as Google is saying to the world that your results are best, Google trusted you so will users, thus better CTRs. Most importantly, a simple direct answer to a user’s questions without having to scroll through multiple pages.
The catch is able to influence the competition ranks
While all being said is good, I noticed that a user can actually provide a feedback or know more about a how the results appear in general. Since this is a new development, the intention of Google involving users to provide best accurate results to other users is fairly understood. The ability to submit feedback leads to a safe assumption that competition may try to submit negative feedbacks deliberately to avoid you being there. Google, though, on record confirms that “it may not lead” to a change in ranks, I don’t see people not trying this out to influence. (At least from different IP addresses)
Here is an example of the process you need to go through while submitting a Feedback to google on snippet box results. I tried a simple Query – How to plant a tree
I provided feedback as “this is not useful” from the options Google provides as below, notice that out of 4 options given by Google, only 1st one “This is useful” positively contributes to your brand” all other options, however, as per user’s feedback, may lead to losing out on this snippet box.
The screen you should see after submitting the feedback.
Okay great, I am listed in one of those snippet boxes. What’s next?
With the recent launch of google penguin 4.0 update changes are real-time now. If you are ranking in Google snippet boxes today, tomorrow it may be different. Competition may try working smarter than you, Google may find a more relevant and better content to award with snippet box view, multiple reasons you may lose out.
What should I do to remain in those Snippet boxes?
Actually, it’s difficult to follow Google algorithm all the time, we can only try to understand it more and try being as close as possible. Being relevant with updates and fresh content is the key.
What if I don’t want my pages to be featured in a snippet at all?
Simple, Use <meta name=”googlebot” content=”nosnippet”> tag on your pages of interest. This will remove all snippets on your page, including those in regular search results.
How can I optimize for visibility in Google’s Snippet Boxes?
Now, this is the most important part, it’s not that complicated. It’s called 5 Ws and 1H formula 🙂
Here are few quick tips:
1) Find out questions users are asking across online media related to your product, offering or service – One can also using the keyword tool, social media listening tools, and direct suggestions in google search or semrush and so on to do so.
2) Who, what, when, where, Why and how (the 5Ws & 1 H) – try organizing your content using these to answer most probable questions your target group of customers might be asking online. One can also look at having a product/services focused dedicated FAQ section on homepages of each product/services or offering you may have. the primary objective should be to make your answers as explicit as possible within your content, web pages, paragraphs, infographics, and charts.
3) Old is Gold – IT won’t be surprising to see that you already have featured snippet box awarded by Google to your web pages. You can get this info by using SEO tools such as SEMrush, you can find this in organic research> RHS of the screen as featured snippet if any. Maintain more FAQs in such pages to retain them for a longer period.
A last year’s study confirms Snippet boxes accounts for about 19% of total queries in search engines. Surely, with growing importance for brand awareness that too organic listings, this trend is bound to increase. The openness of Google to allow users to share feedback may not continue for long asGooglee will, over a period of time, know they judge the content best. Nevertheless, it can get you more visibility, clicks and better organic growth, its time you have a focused strategy in place to obtain Google featured snippets. Do it before your competition does. Remember, boxes are never guaranteed, you can always aim, test & try though! Let me know your feedback or suggestions in the comment section below.
If you are a new brand or a website, SEO takes the center stage as it doesn’t involve any advertising cost. A good mix of off page, on page and technical SEO can make your new brand visible across the Search engines or SERPs without much of SEO investments as such. Search Engine Optimization is well known and much talked about for many years now, the question however, is there a way one can build an effective SEO strategy for the website? Is there a framework for doing SEO for a new website? The answer is yes.
Here are 13 steps for building an effective SEO Strategy
Step 1: Baseline reporting for an effective SEO Strategy
This is first most step to know ground reality and baseline to start all your SEO efforts in the first place.
Generate a baseline Ranking Report for the keywords. The baseline gives us an indication of where the web pages are ranked on Google and will be used to measure results.
Baseline Traffic report for <Your website> Use an analytics tool to generate desired data here. Tools with links you can use for the same:
Step 2: Define Clear objectives for your website’s SEO Strategy
Primary Objective: Increase visitor traffic to <Your website>
To drive people to the specified content on <Your website> from pages that to be optimized for specific keyword phrases.
Secondary Objective: To increase brand awareness and generate web inquiries for <your website>
Step 3: Define Target Search Engines for your SEO Efforts
Undoubtedly, Google leads the search engines with over 63.8 % market share, Source: ComScore
Followed by Microsoft’s Bing Network with 21.1% market share, thus, it is important to consider at least both these Search Engines for building an effective SEO Strategy.
On a related note Google search dominates all other search engines in general. IF you rank well in GOogle search results, you are more likely to rank higher in all other search engines such as Yahoo Search or Bing Search for instance.
Step 4: Define a budget for your SEO Strategy
Startups find it difficult to plan a pre-defined budget, However, it is a must-have requirement, brands need to plan for at least tools, technology, and resources to successfully manage the SEO.
Step 5: Define Results Timeline for Measuring SEO Performance
On an average, once all recommendations are executed for your website’ SEO, there is a delay of at least a week or two, before one starts seeing results in the Search Engine rankings. This also involves re-submission of your site pages for re-indexing by Google for quicker results. indexing is faster with Google,now and it should happen by default within 24 to 48 hours.
The keyword rankings shall continue to improve as your inbound links age, and the SEO implementations have been indexed. On an average, net efforts for On-Page, Off-Page and Technical SEO will be experienced within few weeks.
Step 6: Keyword Research and Analysis
Plan for the keywords that will give you qualified traffic, do they have a monthly search trend you can leverage from, or is there a specific keyword type you can stand for, and how can your keywords & web pages be used in combination to attract search traffic.
Analyze Keyword Difficulty and choose long tail keywords.
Step 7: Plan Keywords which matters
Focus on optimizing keyword phrases that are mapped to the specific web pages of your website.
1 Keyword per landing page combinations. (Collate all of the above information from step 7 and 8 above to finalize your choice of keywords, Refer Keyword vs Search Volume Data and decide most relevant ones to go after for)
Avoid having mutiple pages with similar content as GOogle would award the most relevant one. It is otherwise callled as Keyword Cannibalization.
Step 8: Domain Analysis and Technical SEO
Analysis of the website information architecture and internal linking structure, quality of back-links you have for your website and amount of referral traffic you are getting from.
Analysis of HTML and page layout, responsiveness for mobile usage
Content Analysis & Creation:Decide the amount of Index-able Text Content, Quality & quantity of visible HTML text on your web page, SEO Copywriting, Your content developers should know basics of effective SEO writing, Additional web page/content creation if necessary.
Step 9: Linking Analysis
The overall Internal link structure
Internal Link Popularity of Linking Page within Host Site/Domain
Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community
The link weight/authority of the target website amongst its topical peers in the online world
Link Relevance, Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site and web pages
The subject-specific relationship between the sites/pages linking to the target page and the target keyword
Deep Link Analysis, Deep link percentage is the % of all inbound links that point to pages other than the homepage
Step 10: Link Development
Increase link popularity
Implement a Strategic Link Campaign by purchasing links on websites that will provide a high SEO value
Step 11: Indexing Analysis
Avoid Duplicate Content
Content very similar or duplicate of existing content in the index
Step 12: Implementation of all SEO Recommendations
Once all the changes have been completed, you should run an audit to verify that the recommendation was implemented correctly and identify gaps as applicable for corrective measures. This can be done once in 6 months to monitor all your efforts towards building an effective SEO Strategy.
Step 13: Define Success Metrics
The First page Search Engine rankings
Increase in Website Traffic to by <mention percentage> <your website> for instance, validate and repeat all above steps.
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.
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.
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.