5 Reasons to Love SEO

It’s almost that time of year again. Hearts and roses will be abundant, and cupid’s little cherubic body will be firing off arrows towards romantics and lovers. Love is truly in the air, and it’s time for me to confess my love for…SEO. That’s right, my love for Google algorithms and long-tail keywords burns hotter than any summer day in Cancun. SEO was my first love (to my girlfriend, if you’re reading this, sorry darling) and it certainly has grown into a mutual love as I’ve learned the ins and outs of this search engine starlet. With Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching, here are a few reasons to love SEO.

SEO

5 Reasons to Love SEO

1. It’s Rewarding

One of the best things about SEO is that you’re able to actually track how you’re doing. Whether it’s building links or using keyword best practices, you’ll be able to see exactly how much your efforts are impacting your website. Various programs will allow you track the amount of traffic you have coming to your site, and there’s nothing better than seeing that number steadily rise from your efforts.

Another rewarding feeling is when you build links. Link building is another way to generate traffic to your site and is a staple in SEO. Since it often relies on building a relationship with another domain, it’s a great feeling when you’re able to a link from another site.

2. It’s Great Skill To Have

As a journalism major in college, I often was asked “What are you going to do? Don’t you know print is dying?” While it was a very valid question, SEO and marketing became a new outlet for using journalistic skills. Many who get into the SEO field actually come from writing, English, and journalism backgrounds. This new career is bringing many skilled writers into the field, allowing another option for post-gradation employment and providing another great reason to love SEO.

With SEO, I was able to put my writing skills to use, as well as learn the ins and outs of a new career that didn’t even exist a few decades ago.

3. It’s a Growing Field

While SEO is a highly competitive practice, the demand for those who have the skills or are willing to learn the skills is rapidly growing. Almost all major brands that have a website will have a marketing team, and that marketing will almost always have specialists that are adept in SEO. I love SEO because I know that I’m in a field that is in high demand, and the sooner you start digging into the practice, the better.

A way with words will always get you far in SEO. Not only are you communicating with Google algorithms, you’ll be communicating with other humans as well, so backgrounds in communications and public relations are also great skills to have.

4. It’s Never Too Late To Start

Another reason why I love SEO is because it’s never too late to start practicing good SEO techniques. Many assume that the bigger companies will remain at the top of the Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) forever. However, a good SEO practitioner can help their site rise through the ranks.

On the other hand, just because you’re at the top today, does not mean that you’ll remain there tomorrow. One of the most exciting aspects of SEO is that it’s a constant practice. You always have room to grow so there’s never a shortage of making connections. Each day is an opportunity to attract more eyes to your website and to grow your brand.

5. Reading!

As an avid bibliophile, there’s never a shortage of new information coming down the pipe. Google is constantly changing how they rank pages and experts across the board are always weighing in and providing helpful tips and tricks for SEO. I love scouring the various blogs and SEO websites to find the latest news and other link-building tips to try out. I love SEO because it becomes a community of those who are trying to grow businesses. These entrepreneurs are boosting each other up so everyone can be successful. There’s never a shortage of information to take in, so those who love reading will surely enjoy an SEO career.

Google Products Search Under Scrutiny

A recent study by Jack Nicas of the Wall Street Journal has suggested that Google is buying millions of its own search ads to compete with competitors and rank Alphabet, Inc. or Google products at the top of results. Is it possible that the data giant is taking advantage of their competitors to make sure Google products appear first in a search?

We aren’t exactly sure, but what we do know is that during a study led by SEMrush, Google or Google-related products and services appeared before competitors over 90 percent of the time. Let’s take a look at the study and discuss what this means for the future of Google and transparency of its search practices.

SEMrush Organic Google Search Study

SEMrush analyzed 1,000 searches for 25 terms. Some of these search terms included speakers, laptops, streaming device, smart phones, and carbon monoxide detector. On December 1, SEMrush searched each term 1,000 times using a desktop computer with past web-surfing history blocked as to not affect the results.

I’m not sure if the results of this study are actually surprising or not. SEMrush found that Google products or products from a sister company were in the top spot of 91 percent searches. In 43 percent of the searches, Google and Google-related products used the top two ad spots.

Shocking Search Statistics

Google Products Search Term Rates

Source: SEMrush, The Wall Street Journal

Out of all 25 search terms, 23 terms showed Alphabet-owned companies or Google store products in the top spot 87 percent of the time or more. The only two terms where Google products did not appear in the top spot more than 67 percent, were electronic gifts and home security camera. For those queries, other company products appeared in the top spot for search 66.7 and 60.7 percent of the time, respectively.

For 12 of the terms, Alphabet-owned companies or Google products showed in the top spot 100 percent of the time. Google has, of course, said that their ads do not affect other advertisers and the reason their ads show this much is because of the quality of the ads and the amount Google is willing to pay for them (we’ll come back to this in a bit).

Is Google really to be trusted? After the study was completed, WSJ shared the results with the data giant on December 15. After the results were shared, Google products “mysteriously” disappeared from ad space. Nearly all from the Google Store were removed. If you search these terms now, you will not see Alphabet-owned businesses or Google products in the top spot every time. Google refused to comment on the disparity.

Screenshots Never Die

Are we really just supposed to take Google’s word for it? Are we supposed to genuinely believe that the largest advertising business doesn’t hold a conflict of interest in buying the same ad spaces that their competitors are bidding for? SEMrush shares the results of their study to Google and afterward the ads disappear but Google has no comment.

In an age of technology, I’m sure many of us are screenshot survivors. You’ve been there: you sent a text or wrote a post that you later deleted, but it was too late. Someone screenshotted your blunder and now the internet will know forever. Well, Nicas shared screenshots of his searches in his report. Even for terms like smoke detector (which Google does not sell), internet-connected alarms made by Alphabet-owned Nest took up the top spot 99.6 percent of the time.

In Google’s Defense…

While the report very clearly demonstrated Google is (or was) promoting their own products in the paid ad spaces before competitors, there is technically nothing wrong with this. Google says that when it competes against competitors for ad spaces, other advertisers are charged as if Google was not bidding.

Remember earlier when I told you Google said their ads show up first because of the ad quality and the amount Google is willing to pay? Well first, let’s assume the ad space behemoth’s marketing budget is much larger than most (because we all know it is).

Second, we know how ad auctions work don’t we? I’ll accept that it is true advertisers don’t have to pay more when Google bids against them for that particular auction. However, you have to imagine companies like Facebook and Microsoft are constantly trying to increase their advertising budgets for the chance to appear in the top spot.

A Future of Google Transparency

The Alphabet-owned company is already under scrutiny from European Union antitrust regulators regarding favoring their comparison-shopping service over rivals. The charges they are facing could end up costing Google billions of dollars in fines and may require them to change their search practices in Europe.

In the states, it seems that Google’s “high-quality ads” aren’t showing in the top spots anymore, so maybe that is Google’s way of dealing with this issue. They may not have to answer to advertisers now, but in the future, I think we should expect to see large advertisers who compete with Google products request more transparency as it relates to Google-involved ad auctions.

Google is a data-giant that we all rely on for numerous searches each day. But it is my opinion that when you are a large and dominant company, you owe it to your competitors and customers to provide ethical, transparent service. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if Google agrees with me or not.

Customer Feedback: Gaining Valuable Insights

Even though we’re living in the most technologically advanced period of human history, one of our most valuable tools as marketers remains: customer feedback.

We’re at the point where technology allows us to completely conceptualize, prototype, and release products with not much more than a keyboard and the proper computer code. 3D printing, remotely employed team members, crowdfunding, and constant access information allows relatively anything to happen for startups and innovators. Yet, we often get so caught up in racing excitedly to the finish line that we can overlook invaluable customer feedback until after the fact.

Staying competitive means innovating, and proper innovation relies on engaging with your consumer – all while staying true to your mission statement and core values, and omnichannel marketing efforts.

customer feedback

Customer feedback is your way of understanding what can be improved, and how to remain innovative.

Technology moves quickly, customers shift constantly, and this doesn’t leave room for anything short of a precise execution of your product or service the first time around. After months, sometimes years of developing your product or service, it’s easy to lose perspective on how real people will respond. Gaining access to, and then understanding your customer feedback is critical to ensuring your business stays afloat even when waters get choppy. Social media consistently represents one of the most active methods of getting to know what your customers think and what trends they’re bound to be a part of.

To engage your customers and anything they may be communicating, consider these following ideas:

Formulate a ‘problem statement’ – Although your customer research may have led you in the right direction initially, you’ll need to prepare for unforeseen roadblocks and issues as they arise. Asking for customer feedback means you’re looking to respond to their praise, but more importantly their problems. Not only that, but all your customers (and potentially new customers) will see how your handle these situations and make judgments on whether you’re serving their needs.

Hypothesize – When customer feedback leads you to a change you’ll need to make, it’s much better to respond as early as possible to avoid losing their business. Meeting with your team and any possible stakeholders, the next step is generating a hypothesis as to how the problem can be solved and get testing quickly.

Practice Makes Perfect – Your customers are the lifeblood of what it is your company achieves and – working with this metaphor – you’ve got to be your own immune system. Re-design, retest, and rapidly update what you need to in order to exceed expectations whenever possible. Even if a solution is still a way off, signs of progress really make the difference and can keep overly critical opinions from becoming too vicious.

When Customer Feedback Breeds Greatness

Designing your product or service with the holistic experience in mind is the stuff of greatness. Really it’s about creating something that fits into the interconnected market of your customer, becoming a part of their everyday life. Here’s a great interview driving that point home from one of the founders of Airbnb:

Really, becoming a customer-centric product or service comes from nowhere else but from within a company. Allowing those who rely on your product the most to be your most valued critics is a strength and source of innovation not to be overlooked. Sure, it can be difficult to accommodate certain requests and suggestions, but forgoing customer feedback altogether is a huge mistake. Look to celebrate your customers as the MVPs they are – your team, product, and business will thank you!

More than a Paycheck: Salary Negotiation for Women

When it comes to gender equality in the workplace, the gender pay gap is a hot topic. Across most industries, women make less money than men, and most people try to dismiss the issue placing the blame on the women who don’t ask for a higher salary. While there is research that could support that thought, the truth is that salary negotiation for women is an entirely different process than for men.

When it comes to salary negotiation, women do ask for raises and promotions as much as men, but women are less likely to receive a raise. Furthermore, women that attempt to negotiate their salary find themselves penalized when they do so. For my ladies looking to get that raise or a higher salary in 2017, here is what you need to know about salary negotiation for women.

By the Numbers: Women in the Workplace 2016 Study

This past fall, the Women in the Workplace 2016 study was released, and its findings clearly suggest that women are disadvantaged in the workplace. Women will begin to fall behind early in their careers and continue to lose group with every step.

data visual showing salary negotiation for women pushback

Salary negotiation for women differs because of the pushback they face.
Source: Women in Work 2016 Study

One of the main findings of this study was that women are negotiating as much as men, but typically do not get the pay or promotion they are looking for. Compared to men who negotiate, women who do the same are 30 percent more likely to receive feedback that they are being too “bossy”, “too aggressive”, or “intimidating”. Even if they are asking for the same rate, women are 25 percent less likely than men to get a raise when they ask.

The study also showed that women of color face even more barriers in corporate American. When it comes to promotion or salary negotiation for women, black women are the most disadvantaged. Even with 78 percent of companies reporting that gender diversity is a top priority, only 55 percent of firms have racial diversity as one of their top priorities.

Not only do women of color have to worry about gender discrimination, they also face racial prejudices in a country where women of color have proven to be more ambitious about reaching high-level positions. These statistics show that this country has a long way to go when it comes to gender and racial equality as it applies to the corporate workplace.

data visual showing gender representation in the corporate pipeline

Source: Women in the Workplace 2016 Study

Salary Negotiation for Women: Tips and Tricks

Companies need to take strides to ensure that their company is prioritizing gender (and racial) diversity, their hiring and promotion processes are fair, and hold themselves accountable. However, ladies, we know it may be some time before we solve the wage gap issue. So, in the meantime, what can you do to make sure you get the best likelihood of landing that promotion or raise?

Be prepared

Make sure that before you go to discuss a potential raise, promotion, or title change, you are prepared. Throughout the year, make a list of all the things that you have done. Remember all those times when your supervisor gave you positive feedback about a project? Keep those emails because it’s something you can use to support your case.

Part of being prepared is also doing your research. When women are able to show objective information at a during a salary negotiation, they will be more likely to get what they are asking for. Bring research that shows comparable salaries in your field.

Negotiation Style

Your negotiation style is essential to your success in securing the pay raise or promotion you want. When you are in a salary negotiation, you need all the leverage you can get. Don’t communicate in regards to salary negotiation via email or electronic communication. Your words may be used against you to result in a lower pay.

Use ‘we’ when you make your pitch instead of ‘I’. Remember that assertive women are seen as aggressive and bossy. Using the word ‘we’ helps you seem less “intimidating”.

Using your bargaining chips

When it comes to salary negotiation for women, of course, you want as much leverage as you can. But you must be extremely cautious with any aggressive approach to your negotiations. Bringing an outside offer to the bargaining take can severely backfire because your company can view it as a threat.

If you do choose to use this type of bargaining method, don’t bluff. The worst thing that could happen is you pretend you have this offer from another company willing to pay you what you think you’re worth. If your bluff is called, you’re definitely not getting the desired pay or promotion you were looking for.

Even with your objective information you bring to your negotiation meeting, be careful in how you present it.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

It may seem silly to think about at first, but you should role-play with someone else. It takes some time to develop great negotiation skills, so it is important to practice; especially if you have never negotiated your salary or benefits before. Practice allows you to refine your argument and make mistakes before it counts.

More than a Paycheck

Don’t forget that salary is not the only thing you can negotiate! Many women (and men) forget that there are so many different benefits you can haggle for. Millennials should especially negotiate benefits because many businesses will not be willing to pay you what you should make. Here is a short list of benefits and perks you should also consider in your negotiations:

  • Time off: vacation days, sick days, leave;
  • Workplace environment: work from home, visit company branch;
  • Education/Professional development: tuition reimbursement, conference/workshop opportunities, training;
  • Expense accounts: industry travel, industry networking, commuter benefits;
  • Other perks: title adjustments, company share/stock options;

When it comes to promotion and salary negotiation for women, there are some major changes that need to be made industry-wide. While we wait for the gender wage gap to shrink, share this post with your network of women so they can get the pay they deserve too!

Video Marketing: The Rundown

We’ve come a long way from the traditional “viral videos” that would be passed along through email chains and Facebook shares. What was once a medium for showing cats doing typical cute cat things has now become one of the most important marketing platforms for many brands and companies. Video is the new newspaper, or magazine, or blog post. As our attention spans continue to shrink, many companies are leaning on video marketing to lead the way as they head into 2017. Here’s what you need to know about this rapidly emerging marketing initiative.

Video Marketing Should Be Authentic

One of the biggest things many brands will assume is that they have to spend tons of money on production costs and promotion to make their video go “viral.” The truth is, we can’t really predict what makes a video explode on the Internet. However, we do know that the amount of money spent on production and promotion has minimal effect.

Obviously, it’s good to have some editing and production skills, but you don’t need to be the next Michael Bay to produce a great video marketing campaign. Case and point…Furkids Kitty Commercial. In just a few weeks, this rudimentary video has garnered almost 5 million views. It’s combination of humor, and tongue-in-cheek production quality has become a viral hit and shows that timeliness and humor can go along the way during your video marketing campaign.

Go Platform to Platform

Another important thing to think about for video marketing is adjusting your video campaign to be successful across all platforms. Many assume that YouTube is the only outlet that should be focused on, which is not the case. Social media outlets like Facebook and Snapchat have become very important channels to consider during your marketing campaign. Marketers can no longer post a video on YouTube and expect it to perform well across all channels. Snapchat and Instagram videos will obviously need to be shorter, and hashtags are also an important way for consumers to find your video.

Another interesting finding is that many users of social media prefer to watch videos without sound. For instance, multiple publishers say about 85% of all videos on Facebook are watched without sound—making captions crucial and music less so. Whether it’s because many of us are hiding from the boss at work while watching videos, or just prefer silent media, it’s important that your video translates well even without sound.

Don’t Overdo It

It sounds simple enough, but many companies will be quick to try and copy whatever the viral video is that month. While it’s smart to follow the trends, your audience will easily know when you’re just trying to jump on the bandwagon. Like stated before, overproduction can also be another sign that a company is not taking into account into who their audience is. Most social media users, especially millennials care more about timeliness and speed, over production value, and intricacy. Don’t try to get hip with the times just because those around you are marketing in that area. Make sure your brand has a clear and distinct video marketing campaign that highlights your strengths in a clear and concise manner.

5 Marketing Lessons From the Obama Candidacy

This past Tuesday, Barack Obama delivered his last major speech of the Obama Candidacy. After 8 years of leading the nation, and despite your personal opinion of him, Obama has certainly backed up his mantra of “change.” Whether it’s the Affordable Care Act, the automotive industry bailout, or implementing same-sex marriage across the nation, the soon-to-be-former president has ushered in a variety of change. With that being said, he’s also marketed himself and the Obama candidacy unlike any president before. It’s time to take a look at what we, as marketers, we can learn from his time in office.

5 Lessons From the Obama Candidacy

Be an Unconventional Marketer

It would have been very easy for president Obama to stick to traditional media appearances. Yes, he made the State of the Union Addresses and was quick to acknowledge the variety of tragedies that plagued his 8 years in office, but it was his willingness to go with the flow and make media appearances on other outlets that truly makes him stand out.

Take the show Between Two Ferns for example. A satirical show hosted by Zach Galifianakis that often pokes fun at their guests would seem to be the last place the president would want to make an appearance. However, through this appearance, Obama was able to show a more personable side of himself, and one that was willing to poke fun at himself and others.

As a marketer, it’s important to be flexible and to be willing to take an unconventional approach to marketing. While it’s important to cover traditional media outlets, don’t be afraid to look elsewhere to attract an audience. Our industry is constantly changing, so it’s always important to keep your eye on the future to make sure your brand is doing everything it can to keep up with the changing environment. However, make sure you implement your marketing plan correctly. Some older brands that have tried to get hip with the times have failed miserably.

obama candidacy

Obama’s appearance on the show garnered millions of views

Look Toward Others For Support

The Obama candidacy didn’t just create itself; it took a variety of volunteers, sponsors, and spokespeople to market the campaign and to get the Obama train on the right track. With the help of many others, Obama created a brand that was marketed well through a variety of outlets. Marketed as a family-oriented president struck home with many while on the campaign trail and in office.

As a marketer, don’t be afraid to lean on others during your campaign. A good marketing campaign takes a variety of ideas, opinions, and jobs so be sure to surround yourself with a team that’s willing to work together to create the best possible campaign.

Use Social Media Correctly

This might be one of the biggest factors when it came to the Obama candidacy. With the rise of Twitter, Facebook, and other various forms of social media, these outlets can quickly become the demise of your campaign. Luckily, Obama was able to have his social media presence be created by a trustworthy organization called Organizing for Action. The non-profit ran the majority of his social media account and was able to paint a positive picture of the president through his tweets and posts.

We’ve already seen how our incoming president Trump uses social media, which is much different than Obama.

Make sure that your social media presence remains stellar during your own campaign. Make sure to not just acknowledge the good responses, but the bad as well. Use this as a way to not only market yourself but also show some personality behind it. Obama would often tweet photos of his family and even post about what he’s been watching on TV.

obama candidacy with Biden

Finger guns may or may not increase your marketing prowess

Make Sure Your Website Works

It seems simple enough, right? Well, unfortunately even the Obama candidacy has web issues from time to time. After Obamacare went into effect, millions of citizens flooded the site, hoping to get on an affordable healthcare plan. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of users would ultimately crash the site, leaving many customers at a standstill.

Make sure to test any websites and platforms that you’ll be using before the launch. Although none of us can predict future crashes after launch, it’s still important to go over any possible issues that could arise. Also, make sure your landing page looks good and that the site is easy to navigate.

Know How to Handle Crisis Management

As president, Obama had to deal with a crisis on an almost weekly basis. From terrorist attacks to weather emergencies, it was important that he remained composed and coordinated with the rest of his team. Any of sign of fear or confusion would be seen as a weakness, so crisis management was key.

Make sure that your company and marketing team have a plan implemented in case of a crisis. Whether it’s a leaked inappropriate picture or a shocking resignation, make sure that you and your staff remain on the same page and know how to handle the situation. Disorganization can look bad on the company and can make your audience wary of trusting you

5 Ways AI Marketing is Here Now

When many people think about artificial intelligence it’s likely that they’re picturing scenes from the movie iRobot rather than their iPhones. However, we all use AI on a daily basis. We are constantly coming into contact with it during almost every visit to the internet and impulsive checking of our smartphones. In the year 2017, we’re ready and willing to usher in the true age of intelligent machines, especially when it comes to AI marketing.

The pursuit of achieving greater reach and user engagement for a brand is never ending, even for those well supplanted in the digital ecosystem. As human marketers, we can only really do so much with the data we interpret and extrapolate to drive our strategies. Almost inevitable to the evolution of digital marketing, finding ways to innovate through AI often means adding convenience and value in the same motion. So looking into 2017’s crystal ball, what does AI marketing look like and where might it take us?

5 Ways AI Marketing is Here Now

1. Deep Learning

Generally speaking, the usage of deep learning is what lies behind most forms of marketing AI. What’s happening basically comes down to computers learning how to understand text, speech, images, and other information in order to generate answers, clarify queries, and even offer suggestions. Through layers of linear and non-linear algorithms, the input received is filtered to produce output that is likely to yield the desired results.

To really drive this point home, Google’s Penguin is now a self-updating AI – and if they’re not leading the charge no one is.

2. New UX Opportunities

Since the internet is still mostly accessed by human users, designing the user experience (UX) of a website often lends itself to recurring visitors, lower bounce rates, more sales, etc. By harnessing the power of AI to interact with users according to their learned preferences, navigating a site or getting acquainted with new functions of a page can be made easier. Some can even dynamically respond to produce a look and feel that is continually updating itself.

3. Speech Recognition

Clearly, voice-assisted search is gaining a foothold in our internet of things with no reason to slow down for quite a bit. The ‘Big Five’ tech companies (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft) have already each introduced their take on the virtual assistant, some even rolling physical in-home models like Google Home and Amazon Echo. We all await Apple’s take on the product. Excitingly, AI marketing from here on out is going to mean producing copy, keyword terms, and aligning SEO strategies with ranking for queries in the natural way they’re spoken. Keep in mind it’ll be some time before all the kinks are worked out.

4. Predictive Search and Ad Targeting

Like Google’s RankBrain, algorithms can analyze spoken or written search queries to produce the results you’re most likely looking for. Subsequent searches may also be tailored to past user activity and searches, taking into account how successful they were previously. Logically, this has come to allow ads to specifically target and follow users around the web, tailoring content to move individuals through the sales cycle.

5. Dynamic Pricing

Although it’s already common in the travel industry, we’ll likely see a wider use of dynamic pricing models as AI marketing is realized to a fuller extent. Though if you’ve ever left an item in your Amazon shopping cart only to find the price had changed overnight, you’ve likely experienced dynamic pricing at work. Perhaps one day all internet commerce will have streamlined prices based on how people are responding to a product and what AI can learn from their actions and preferences.

There are still many other forms of AI that marketers can utilize, namely chatbots, website designing platforms, and even artificial neural networks. Understanding new ways to integrate this technology will continually drive AI marketing to be the focus of nearly all digital professionals from here on out.

Social Media Trends For 2017

You’re probably tired of reading all of the predicting 2017 posts that have been plaguing your timeline. The truth is, nobody knows what this year is going to hold. If you told me that the Internet world would mourn over a dead gorilla and that Vine would cease to exist, I’d call you crazy. That being said, we can still do our best to predict some of the social media trends for 2017.

We’ve looked at some of the SEO trends and engagement practices that will emerge this year, as well as some hiring trends that employers will engage in. It’s time to look at something that can’t be avoided; something that integrates it’s way into our lives on daily basis. I’m talking about social media. Here’s what social media trends you can expect for 2017 and how your business can use them.

Social Media Trends For 2017

Authentic Video

It’s no secret that video is set to become the biggest way we share via social media. Video is a way to show authenticity and transparency during your marketing campaign. Another key to marketing using video will be the audience. Millenials are the most active video watchers in 2016, and we can expect even more growth this year. With a smartphone in almost every hand, video has become a way to consume news, entertainment, and hopefully, your business plan. Facebook live has already led the way by allowing users to live stream at any moment, with Instagram and Twitter joining the movement. Video will be vital for your social media campaign, so make sure you’re putting out visual content that is informative and entertaining.

Chatbots

What was once a fun way to pass time (and pretend you had friends) has now become integral to customer service for many businesses. Chatbots are a kind of artificial intelligence that can have a conversation with someone. Facebook has integrated them within Facebook Messenger, and businesses are now using them to communicate with customers.

Chatbots have steadily been improving over the last decade, so it’s no surprise that companies are starting to use them to increase customer service. Whether it’s via Twitter, Facebook, or another form of social media, chatbots can be a great way to provide quick and direct customer service for your audience.

social media infographic

Simplicity and Speed

Sadly, every year our attention span decreases and a number of media increases. So how can we ensure that our marketing campaign not only reaches the audience but keeps their attention long enough to have an impact? The solution is actually pretty easy if executed correctly. Your content should be timely, short, and easy to digest.

There’s a reason that pictures and videos are increasingly more popular than traditional written posts. We process images and video much easier and more quickly than text, so it’s important to incorporate visual media into your campaign. As 2017 approaches, some millennials are taking a step back and reevaluating their social-media usage and determining which platforms they want to participate on and what kind of content they want to consume. That being said, video is here to stay.

Privacy Awareness

One of the most surprising social media trends of 2017 deals with our desire for privacy on social media. Although social media and privacy don’t exactly go hand in hand, millennials and a good amount of other social media users are beginning to become more and more aware of privacy on the Internet.

Millenials also admit that social media generally makes them unhappier, despite the increase in usage. Your marketing campaign should be mindful of privacy when trying to connect with your audience.

These social media trends for 2017 should give you a good idea of what this year will look like. The social media landscape will continue to change, but Track5Media will make sure to keep you in the loop.

Authentic Engagement | Defining 2017

Looking over our shoulder to 2016, we remember a few landmarks that have provided important digital marketing lessons. For the mobile industry, efforts will refocus on gaining insights from metrics that can reliably define campaign results. And even though that sounds like what anyone would want from their analytics, specific cases in the past year have really set forth some interesting considerations as we move briskly into 2017. Authentic engagement is the name of the game.

2016 Under the Microscope

Digital marketers have come up against some worthy adversaries this past year, starting with the measurement errors disclosed by Facebook regarding ad reach. Both off-Facebook links and reactions to things like live videos went awry, painting much greater pictures of success than were true. The faulty metrics didn’t affect ad prices, and Facebook did promptly acknowledge the errors – yet with social being so much a part of marketing today we need more than guesstimates, especially false ones.

Honestly, the later half of 2016 had been a true digital marketing rigamarole – Fake news running rampant and newly uncovered Russian ad fraud operations cost some advertisers nearly $5 million a day rattled the industry. We’re still trying to figure out how to move forward amidst the ongoing “digital ad blocker war,” in which the casualties are impressions and authentic engagement.

So with large investments in digital ads being increasingly at stake, one of the biggest challenges is making sure mobile efforts are actually engaging users and providing added value.

Authentic Engagement…But How?!

Getting down to the essentials, we all want authentic, human engagement, but what does it really take to measure these metrics? Really, it means discerning the human eye and experience from ad bots and other nefarious actors. Combatting fraud may amount in part to advertisers demanding greater transparency when their money is supposedly being put toward human engagement. In turn, technology will hopefully keep up with these demands and become more sophisticated in identifying and flagging fraud.

We know that mobile marketing is here to stay, and given factors like connection type, device model, and the load time of creative formats, the result is an estimated 25% discrepancy between bid requests and fully rendered impressions. Hopefully, these impressions were made by humans, though we know that’s not always the case. The next step to really maximizing the authentic engagement of digital campaigns is the refining of counting methods in our ad fraud-ridden internet.

authentic engagement

Infographic from Infisecure.com

For impressions, it can come down to just one second after an ad has rendered fully on a mobile device. Although it doesn’t seem like much, the human brain has indeed received the message intended by the ad, regardless of whether a person has clicked through to your landing page. This critical moment is what demands transparency and standard one click per impression models if advertisers really want to fight fraud. Thinking about your campaign’s success in terms of accurate, human engagement seems common sense as long as we can avoid getting tripped up by falsely reported mobile results and social media errors.

Whatever methods eventually become the standard, it’s clear that we’ve got a bit to go before we can get crisp, clear pictures of what our authentic engagement truly is. Here’s to working toward a more human 2017 – something digital marketing may need more than anybody!