Instagram is the hot platform of the moment, but what many users – and businesses in particular – have found when trying to connect with people on Insta is that building an audience can be difficult.

People are more selective on Instagram, with the lessons of Facebook and Twitter dictating new habitual behaviors. When Facebook and Twitter were new, everyone connected with everyone – you sent a friend request to all the new people you met at a party, and you followed thousands of profiles on Twitter in the hopes that they’d follow you back. Many people, on Twitter especially, have built massive audiences this way, but users who did this also found that their feeds ended up being rubbish, a steady flow of random updates from folks they could barely remember.

The result is that people don’t follow as readily on Instagram – which poses a new challenge for brands, making them work harder for attention. The benefit, however, is that once you do win over new followers, they’re far more likely to become customers, because they’re following based on actual interest in what you post.

So how do you do it? How do you win over more resistant Instagram audiences and build an engaged following?

That’s the focus of a new report from parent company Facebook, which provides insight into what users are looking for from brands on Instagram, and includes tips on how to take action based on their findings.

First off, Facebook notes the rising potential of Instagram, with 57% of the 21,000 people surveyed indicating that they’re now using the platform more than they did a year ago, and 44% saying that they’ll use it even more in the coming year.

Facebook Instagram study

That likely comes as little surprise, Instagram’s added half a billion new users within the last two years, while Instagram Stories, originally launched in August 2016, just this week hit a new milestone of 500 million daily users. It’s clear that Instagram is getting more attention – though it is interesting to note the propensity with which current users are planning to go back to it, underlining the potential.

But a particularly relevant finding of the study for marketers is that many users are actually going to Instagram to connect with brands.

“When we asked people what they associated with Instagram, some of their top responses were that the platform allows interaction with celebrities and influencers. Additionally, 2 in 3 respondents (66%) told us that Instagram is a platform that allows interaction with brands. These interactions might take the form of a snack company using polls in Instagram Stories to let fans vote on a new chip flavor, or a fashion brand reposting photos of chic #OOTD posts.”

Granted, interaction with family and friends was another key reason for people to use the platform, but the responses do indicate that Instagram users may be more open to brand communications than they are on other platforms.

That’s particularly relevant when you consider that Facebook has been actively working to boost interaction with friends and family members in order to increase in-platform engagement. The findings for Instagram almost reflect the opposite, with users coming to see content from influencers and brands, and welcoming such within their feed – when they choose to follow those profiles.

In terms of overall usage, younger Instagram users are more likely to come to the platform daily, which is largely reflective of broader digital platform trends.

Facebook instagram study - daily usage by demographic

That, too, is no surprise, but it is interesting to note that despite the differences in older brackets, a lot of those users are still coming back to the platform daily. If you’re looking to reach younger audiences, definitely there’s value there, but older users are still fairly active. There’s a broadening range of people on the visual platform.

So how can you reach these people – what do Instagram users expect to see from brands on the platform?

Respondents indicated that they want to see the following types of marketing content:

Facebook Instagram study - marketing expectations

Short and well-targeted, with specific creative designed for Instagram. That makes sense, given the visual nature of the platform, and the focus on eye-catching content. If you are looking to utilize the platform, you need to familiarize yourself with what works, and not just in terms of posting like-baiting inspirational quotes, but in regards to creating content that both works to promote your business, and connects with what your target audience responds to.

Given the aforementioned habitual changes, building an audience on Instagram is not easy, it’s not as simple as liking every post from every person who engages with a certain hashtag, or using the old ‘follow back’ approach to build up your numbers. Both those strategies may work to some degree, but whether the people you’re reaching are within your actual target audience is another question.

The best way to approach Instagram is to go in with a strategy. Research the platform, look at what others in your niche are posting, what their audiences are responding to, scan through the relevant hashtag lists to see what people are posting. Once you’ve got a handle on what you should be sharing, set out an adequate time frame for results, then stick to a schedule and build up response data.

It takes time, but with the right focus, you can tap into the rising Instagram stream.

You can read Facebook’s full “How to Connect with New Audiences on Instagram” report here.

Digital is the name of the game in the world of marketing and has been for quite some time. Thanks to digital marketing techniques, even the smallest brands have been able to attract new customers, build lasting relationships, and expand their reach. This is easy enough for companies that operate on either a national or local level, but what happens when they do both?

In other words, how does a franchise marketing team adjust their digital marketing strategy to target local leads in their individual locations? In this guide, we will discuss some of the various tactics, best practices, and methodologies used in franchise marketing to achieve better local visibility and better targeting of local customers. This guide is not just for marketers. If you are a franchisee, franchisor, or handle local listing management for a franchise location, this guide is also for you. Now, let’s get started.

What is Franchise Marketing_

What is Franchise Marketing?

If you’re new to marketing for franchises, then it’s a good idea to quickly cover the essentials of what it is. Franchise marketing is a multi-tiered marketing plan whereby a company must craft marketing campaigns for franchises in specific locations, while also adhering to a broader strategy at the corporate level.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it very well can be. When you own a franchise location, corporate will want to keep a hand in marketing to ensure consistency and quality control across the board. Local franchise owners will, however, be allowed some creativity to tailor ads to meet not just the cultural and socio-economic needs of an area, but also legal requirements.

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

Traditional vs Digital Marketing

From renting billboard signs to creating ads that run on game day and paying A-list celebrities to be brand ambassadors, traditional marketing is expensive. While these are still effective methods of generating leads and attracting customers, due to the high cost, they are better left to corporate. Local franchises who want to maximize their profits should focus most of their energies on digital marketing.

This helps to boost profitability by improving sales and cutting down advertising costs.

Even so, traditional marketing still serves a place as a complement to digital marketing strategies: a connection which we will discuss in greater detail later on in this guide. Here are some of the many marketing tools that are effective at the corporate and local levels.

  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Website search engine optimization
  • Video marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Text message marketing
  • Data analytics

Keep in mind that not everything on this list directly boosts SEO. Some items merely boost visibility or awareness, which increases the effectiveness of SEO tactics. It is one thing to be discoverable, but even better to be recognizable when you are. Also worth noting is the fact that not all of these tools will be beneficial to your specific brand.

To decide which methods will best suit your marketing goals and business type, you must consider how the demographic you serve prefers to engage with brands of their choosing and what forms of communications resonate best with them. Once you have these figured out, you can implement the specifics detailed in the rest of this guide.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Strategies for Franchises

When it comes to digital marketing, one of the first tools that is often called upon is social media. That’s because social media is one of the best tools for increasing awareness of your business at both the corporate and franchise level if properly managed. If not properly managed, then you can create a mess of inconsistent messages intermingled with confusion over who has access to what account. Here’s the best way to organize this.

Corporate Level Social Media Marketing

There should be one social media account per platform at the corporate level, which is handled only by the professionals at corporate. Depending on your business and the demographic it serves, this could include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. These main accounts should either forego using an exact physical location or use the address of corporate. In the case of Facebook, it is best not to use an address at all, so you can use the locations feature to pinpoint franchises in different locations.

As the fount from which the rest of social media marketing strategies will spring, it’s a good idea to create a Best Practices Social Media plan for franchisees to use. A good plan book will detail the following.

  • Basic social media marketing strategy guidelines
  • Tips on how to find local professionals to assist with marketing
  • Any social, religious or moral convictions that must be upheld in the branding
  • To what extent corporate’s social media posts and general content can be copied or duplicated
  • Keywords and hashtags used to boost SEO

Local Level Social Media Marketing

Before creating social media handles for a local franchise, it’s important to check with corporate to ensure this is allowed. Note that another franchise location receiving permission does not guarantee that you will. To increase your chances, have a hired social media agency at the ready to prove to corporate that you have professional assistance to steer you and your marketing campaign in the right direction. It may also be worth it to speak with other local franchises and propose shared social media accounts for the location, such as @VDigitalPHX or @VDigitalLA to complement a corporate handle of @VDigital.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Strategies for Franchises

Most social media platforms offer some type of PPC advertising. The ones that are best for you will depend on the platforms you have identified as being best for your business.

Corporate Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Digital advertising on social media is a great way to get your ads in front of more eyes, while only paying for the level of engagement it attracts. Here are some of the PPC offers corporate should not miss out on.

  • Google: Almost every business uses Google ads. The reason for this is simple. Google owns the vast majority of the search engine market, so the searches you would most likely want to appear in belongs to Google. Why not pay for your spot?
  • Twitter: Twitter ads are one of the most expensive you may come across with monthly payments of $99 to use their Promote Mode option. However, if you have several hundred dollars to dedicate to this each month, it does pay off as the price helps to keep ad competition low.
  • Facebook & Instagram: Facebook ads are more affordable and tend to deliver more value for your money. Facebook pages are also arguably better formulated for generating business leads than Twitter.

Local Level Pay-Per-Click Advertising

When it comes to PPC advertising, local franchises are better off using Google, Facebook, and Instagram as PPC platforms. The effectiveness of these three outlets make Twitter ads an unnecessary luxury item. However, if Twitter is where most of your customers and clients hang out, and corporate okays the local use of Twitter, Twitter ads may be worth looking into.

Website Search Engine Optimization

Website SEO Strategies for Franchises

Website SEO is an integral part of marketing for businesses of all size. This is because SEO expands a company’s organic reach and continues to bring in website traffic as long as the keywords chosen remain relevant. When the effectiveness of a specific keyword changes, it’s a simple task to update content to reflect that. This helps to ensure that when someone googles relevant topics related to your business, your website will rank high in searches.

Your goal should be to land in the first three spots because most people don’t look beyond the first three results. Here are a few things you need to make sure you rank in the first three spots as often as possible.

  • A strong online presence to attract do-follow links from local news agencies, government bodies, and charitable organizations.
  • Content that is unique, engaging and provides a solution to the question asked or topic broached in the search bar.
  • A website that loads quickly and is optimized for mobile use.
  • A website that is properly coded so that search engines can easily find, crawl and index the pages.

Corporate Level Website Search Engine Optimization

As in all other areas of franchise SEO, corporate is expected to lead the way. If the corporate website is doing well and generating large amounts of traffic, then all others will benefit. This is true even when all local franchises are expected to build and manage their own websites, because a successful corporate website helps to spread awareness and boost credibility for the brand itself. If corporate has a formula that has been working well, it should pass on this information to the local franchises, so they can benefit from HQ’s wisdom and experience.

Local Level Website Search Engine Optimization

Not all franchise companies will allow you to build your own website. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask. And, while you’re at it, see if you can get a hold of the keywords corporate has been using. By using those same keywords on your own local website and social media pages, you will be able to piggy-back off corporate’s success. However, to boost your local ranking, you should add location tags, such as, “SEO services in Phoenix” instead of just “SEO services”. This indicates to Google that the services you provide are relevant to a specific location.

Another way to improve your local SEO ranking, particularly with Google, is to ensure your franchise is listed on Google with the following information.

  • Physical address
  • Opening hours
  • Phone number
  • Website

Depending on your type of business, you may be able to add additional information. For example, if you own a restaurant, there is usually an available slot for a menu.

Quick Tip: Be sure to clean up local listings to prevent the SEO nightmare of duplicate entries. Duplicate entries will only cost you customers and needless embarrassment down the line. It may also not sit well with corporate, who may then seek to tighten the marketing reins.

Video Marketing

Video Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Did you know that YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine? This shouldn’t be too surprising when you consider that Google owns YouTube. Naturally, because of this, the two combine forces in the SEO world to produce amazing results. In short, Google gives special favor to its own videos on YouTube and ranks these higher up in its search results.

However, publishing on YouTube isn’t the only way you can use video marketing to your advantage as a franchise. Here are some of the many ways video marketing is useful at both the corporate and local level of franchise SEO.

  • Use videos to humanize your brand and inject humor into your social media stream.
  • Tutorial videos are a great way to demonstrate how to use a product or service your business provides.
  • Videos can help you share the story of your brand and how your business grew to its current status.
  • If your company participates in local events or encourages workers to volunteer, use videos to showcase that involvement while giving your charitable employees a moment in the spotlight.
  • Videos are far more likely to go viral than a full-blown article, increasing your likelihood of exposure.
  • If your business features a service component, like personal training at a franchised gym, videos are a great way to create webinars or presentations to showcase your level of expertise.
  • Few businesses operate in a bubble. Most companies must partner with other brands to bring their businesses to life. If your business is contracted to work with a specific brand, consider exchanging product reviews. For example, a restaurant could review the brand of pasta they use for their secret in-house recipe, and the pasta company could review the restaurant that uses their pasta as a key ingredient.

Email Marketing

Email Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Before saying anything else regarding email marketing, let us first emphasize that we are referring to opt-in email marketing. When people choose to receive your newsletters, it’s a good sign that they’ll actually open your newsletters when you send them. This helps to generate more leads and potential sales.

Corporate Level Email Marketing

While all other areas of marketing so far have primarily been aimed at reaching customers, corporate should consider using email marketing to grow the franchise business by focusing on more B2B communications. The primary groups you should try to reach are as follows.

  • Vendors and suppliers
  • Administrative staff
  • Current and potential franchisees

Quick Tip: Be sure to utilize different mailing lists for each of these categories. This helps to ensure people don’t receive content that is not relevant to their interests.

Local Level Email Marketing

The great thing about email marketing is that it’s the one form of marketing so far that corporate may not try to control or curtail. This is because email marketing goes directly to individuals and is not published publicly.

Unlike corporate, local franchises should use email marketing to reach out to customers. Here are a few share-worthy ideas to send to customers and clients.

  • Upcoming events
  • Recent accomplishments with thanks
  • Coupons and special offers
  • Involvement in local charity events

Quick Tip: If corporate won’t allow you to run your own branded website, use social media and a lead form to build your mailing list. If social media isn’t allowed either, then the next tip is for you.

Text Message Marketing

Text Message Marketing Strategies for Franchises

Text message marketing is another form of opt-in direct marketing that can yield great results when done right. Because text messaging is more personal and informal, this strategy will be best used by local franchises, but there are some uses for corporate.

Corporate Level Text Message Marketing

When there are offers and promotions that are applicable across the board, sending text messages from corporate to customers is a good idea. Corporate can also utilize texts to send messages that encourage social responsibility in various forms, such as requesting donations on behalf of established charities after a natural disaster of national importance.

Local Level Text Message Marketing

As previously stated, text message marketing better serves franchises at the local levels. Local franchises can use text message marketing to grow their customer base in a number of ways. Here are just a few.

  • Some companies have successfully created platforms to handle customer complaints through text messaging. Serious complaints are usually escalated directly to the manager.
  • You could use text messages to provide coupon codes that people can redeem online or in person, whether it’s a free cup of coffee or a complimentary hour with a personal trainer at the gym.
  • Text messages are a great way to rally support for local charity events the company may support, such as, charity 5K runs, blood drives, and toy donations. Even when it doesn’t lead to a big turn-out, it nonetheless sends the message—literally—that you are actively involved in the betterment of the community.

Data Analytics

Data Analytics for Franchises

Truly, there is no point in investing in marketing or PR strategies if you don’t also invest in tools to track the effectiveness of the strategies you implement, and how well they complement your business goals. Here are a few questions you need to be answered regarding all the hard work and money you spend on your marketing campaigns.

  • What kind of content are your followers engaging with more than others?
  • What marketing channel is generating most of your high-quality leads?
  • What is your conversation rate?
  • What is the click-through rate on your PPC ads across various platforms?
  • What demographic primarily engages with and does business with your brand, and at what locations?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is busiest for business?
  • What time of day, week, month and year is slowest for business?
  • What is the monthly, quarterly and annual ROI of your marketing campaigns?

If social media is a big part of your marketing plan, then you may be able to take advantage of free insights and analytical tools from companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, for in-depth analysis, you will need the help of professionals.

Get Professional Assistance From Franchise Marketing Experts

These days, the DIY culture is going strong. From businesses to individuals, everyone is looking to do more with less by getting some of the work done on their own. This is commendable, but some tasks are best left to the professionals. Due to the complicated and multi-layered level of marketing for franchise businesses, this task definitely makes the list of things better left to the experts.

The good news is, you won’t need to look very far to find a marketing agency that is accustomed to working on franchise marketing campaigns at both the corporate and local level. Like you, we are a large business with offices spread out in multiple locations, from Seattle to Miami.

We combine this personal experience with our professional qualifications to bring you marketing campaigns best suited to the complex needs of your franchise business. For more information on how we can help to streamline your marketing campaign and grow your business through improved SEO, email us via our contact page, today. We look forward to hearing from you.

While the impact of Stories is variable across the different social media platforms, it’s hard to deny the rising influence of the form more generally, and the way in which its changing user behaviors, much as Facebook has long predicted.

Underlining this, Facebook, in the accompanying earnings call following its Q4 report announcement, has reported that Instagram Stories, its most successful Stories option to date, is now being used by half a billion people every single day.

That means that Facebook now sees around 1.25b people using the Stories options across its family of apps daily – which is a billion more users than Snapchat, the originator of the Stories format, has in total.

Social Stories usage comparison [chart]

As noted, the updated Stories usage count reflects the rising influence of the option – if you’ve not considered how your business can use the Stories format in your social media marketing efforts, it’s likely worth giving it some thought. As more people become increasingly attuned to the layout and style of Stories, their expectations for content is changing, – and with Facebook maintaining a steady flow of Stories updates, it is becoming the primary sharing and engagement option for many.

Facebook now clearly owns Stories – which is not overly great news for Snap, but it’s not the only trick up Snapchat’s sleeve either. I mean, Snapchat has some issues to iron out, and it is under ever-increasing pressure to come up with new tools, but the Stories battle, really, was over long ago. If anything, the broader adoption of the format may help other platforms, as users look for the same on each surface (note: even LinkedIn is trying out the Stories format).

In addition to the updated user count, Facebook also noted that it’s working on more private sharing options for its Stories tools, while Instagram specifically will soon see new commerce and shopping features.

Facebook has long held that Stories are the future of social sharing, and whether by trend or by design, that does now appear to be coming true. Again, if you haven’t considered the potential of Stories within your planning, it may be time to give them a look.

Why NAP & User Experience Are Crucial to Local SEO

 

While it’s no secret that mobile usage surpassed desktop usage in 2015, another fact that often goes unnoticed is the change in user behavior in terms of the number of devices they use.

According to Google’s Consumer Barometer, the number of users who just use a single device to complete a journey has decreased from 32 percent in 2012, to just 14 percent in 2017.

 

Google Consumer Barometer (UK Trends)

This poses new challenges for local businesses, as users move between devices their search and discovery experiences will differ as parts of the Local Pack and local algorithms are weighted differently, namely the proximity of businesses to a user location.

As the guide has already established, NAP consistency is an important part of Google’s local and Local Pack algorithms, and building citations with a consistent NAP to your Google My Business listing and listed online addresses can influence your local rankings.

However, having a consistent NAP is also important to the user journey as online directories and social bookmarking sites aren’t just used by Google, they’re used by humans too.

When the User Journey Starts

A lot of people consider the user journey and brand experience to start when the user makes the first inquiry or spends significant time on a company’s website.

However, the journey starts a lot sooner.

Think with Google data shows that there are five touchpoints that, more often than not, lead to a purchase/affirmative site action:

  • Used a search engine.
  • Visited a store or other location.
  • Visited a retailer website or app.
  • Visited another website or app.
  • Used a map.

The user journey starts when they first see your brand either in search results listing, in the Local Pack, on a map, or at your physical brick-and-mortar store.

Local search is a crucial part of this journey and is even more important given that up to 78 percent of local-intent mobile searches result in an offline store visit within 24 hours.

This is where the consistent NAP becomes important, because users need consistent information in order to progress their journey. A lot of the time we make an assumption that users find our local businesses and brands through our websites, our guest posts and outreach, and our Google My Business listings.

Users, however, find our brand through a variety of online portals, including the directories where we build our citations and listings.

Influencing the User Journey at a Search Stage

When users are performing their first searches, this is your first opportunity to make an impression and be a part of the user journey.

If you’re appearing prominently in the Local Pack or within the SERPs, you want your users to click through to content that both provides value and satisfies their user intent.

Lazy Local Pages Help Nobody

In a lot of cases, when a website “localizes” it means the generation of local content and local pages. These are executed with varying degrees of effort, care, and detail, but ultimately lazy local pages help nobody.

A lazy local page is in effect a doorway page, a thin page that offers little value to the user and has the sole purpose of trying to rank for local search terms.

Google doesn’t like doorway pages (due to them offering poor user experience) and rolled out a doorway page “ranking adjustment” algorithm in 2015.

The Possum update in 2016 also went some way to tackling poor quality and spam, but this is a tactic that has been persisted with and in a lot of verticals they are still effective (until something better comes along).

Google’s official support documentation defines doorways as:

Sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.

Even if you rewrite all the content on these pages making sure they’re not duplicate, but they all carry the exact same message just with a different city targeted, they offer no value at all.

Google can see through this, and users will be left dissatisfied.

Creating Good Local Value Pages

Admittedly, it’s a lot easier for companies that have physical brick-and-mortar stores in the locations that they want to target to create local pages with high value.

But this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done for companies offering an intangible product or service with a local focus.

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines define content in two parts:

  • The main content.
  • The supporting content.

This is the way you should look at local search.

When someone in London searches for [plumbers in london], Google has to break down the query into both main and supporting sections, as well as look for intent.

  • “plumbers” the main part of the query, the intent is that the user is looking for a plumber/plumbing service.
  • “in london” the supporting element, the user wants the plumber to be local.

From this, Google retrieves relevant results with weighting and personalization given to the local intent of the query.

The main content of your website should reflect the product/services that you offer, with supporting content elements adding value and topical relevance around the location.

This can be implemented in a non-commercial way through the blog, as guides, or as resources.

NAP Consistency

As mentioned before, NAP consistency is important as the directory listings and citations we build aren’t just used by search engines. Potential customers find them, too.

An inconsistent or inaccurate NAP can lead to frustrated users, and potentially lost leads.

Common Reasons for Inconsistent NAP

From experience, inconsistent NAP can be caused by a number of human errors and business changes, including:

  • Changing business address and not updating previously built citations, directory listings, etc.
  • Having a different store address to the company registered address and using both online.
  • Generating different phone numbers for attribution tracking purposes.

Not only can all of the above cause issues for your local SEO, they can also cause a number of user experience issues – and poor user experience leads to loss of sales and damage to your brand.

User experience also extends beyond the Local Pack and SERPs to your website, how the local journey is managed, and whether it can satisfy all local intents.

Being able to track and accurately report on the success of marketing activities is vital.

However, there is a case for “over reporting” and “over attribution” in some cases, especially when it comes to local SEO.

Google Local Pack: User Experience & Attribution

Google’s Local Pack runs on a different algorithm to the traditional organic search results, and is heavily influenced by user location when making the search.

Google My Business has an attribution problem, and more often than not a lot of clicks from GMB listings are classified as direct traffic rather than organic traffic in Google Analytics.

The way around this is to use a parameter:

?utm_source=GMBlisting&utm_medium=organic

The parameter won’t cause NAP/citation consistency issues, so there is nothing to worry about there.

Having a consistent NAP means you’re more likely to appear within the Local Pack, and if you’re in the Local Pack studies have shown that you’re likely to get a high percentage of clicks on the results page.

If you’re likely to get a lot of clicks, it means you’re going to have a lot of users expecting fast loading pages and prominent information to satisfy their search intents.

Directory Attribution

This is a more common problem that I’ve come across working agency side, as well as one I’ve been asked to implement while working client side.

In order to track marketing efforts, I’ve known organizations to generate unique phone numbers for every directory that they submit the business to.

  • The pros: You can fairly accurately gauge an ROI on your marketing efforts
  • The cons: You end up with a lot of published citations with an inconsistent NAP.

Also, a lot of directories like to generate Google My Business listings based off of the data you input, as a sort of “added service”.

This leads to multiple Google My Business listings being generated for individual locations, with different phone numbers and sometimes different map pin locations.

This is bad for user experience, as they’re faced with multiple choices for one location with only one being correct. Such as this example for an online blinds retailer:

 

Online Blinds Retailer

It’s the same company in the same retail park but displaying two different phone numbers and two different closing times.

If a user sees both of these, it’s confusing and means they have to take an extra, unnecessary action in order to engage with your business.

Avoiding Spam Marketers

Another common reason I’ve seen businesses use false numbers on directory listings (when building them for SEO purposes) is to avoid the spam phone calls that follow.

While using a false number prevents the spam calls from reaching you, it also prevents genuine customers as well.

We often forget that a lot of things we do “for SEO” can also affect users and their experience with your company.

Getting Local Right

Local searches often represent higher than average conversion rates, as customers seeking out a local product or service are likely to pursue and complete their actions.

That being said, a lot of local businesses are still not taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of them and tying in performance and user satisfaction.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots: Taken by author

via: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-seo/why-nap-user-experience-are-crucial-to-local-seo/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=daily-newsletter&utm_campaign=daily-newsletter

How (and Where) to Add Social Media Buttons to Your Site for More Engagement

 

With social shares on content down 50 percent since 2015, it’s feeling like a lost cause to even consider social media in your content plan.

And we’ve all heard the age-old “social sharing buttons are dead” statements.

Just like we’ve heard for SEO, content marketing, PPC, and just about every other marketing tactic that still works.

The biggest gripes that tag along with social sharing buttons are often from marketers who use them wrong.

Or on sites that don’t get enough traffic.

Most of the time, it’s the case of awful placements and poor usability.

Here is how and where to add social buttons to your site for maximum social engagement.

Where to Avoid Social Buttons on Your Site

Most marketers go wrong in two main areas with social sharing buttons:

  • Putting them on the wrong pages: nobody is going to share it.
  • Using poor social buttons with horrible usability: it’s too much of a hassle to use.

Where do social sharing buttons definitively not work?

On product, pricing, and features pages:

 

social sharing buttons product page

According to a study done by VWO, removing social sharing buttons on ecommerce sites product pages increased conversions by 11.9 percent.

This study has produced some controversy as to whether social sharing buttons actually work or if they negatively impact your success.

But it’s hard to tell for a few reasons:

  • It was on a product page. Who is going to social share a product directly from the product page before they buy it? Probably 1 in 1,000,000.
  • Low amounts of shares on a product page are similar to negative or zero reviews on Amazon. People don’t trust it. It works as “negative” social proof.
  • It is distracting people from the main CTA, which is to buy the product.

If you can add user-friendly social sharing buttons to the right pages, you can bet that social sharing is going to rise.

So, where do you add them?

Add Social Sharing Buttons Within Your Content

Possibly one of the best examples of social sharing button use is from HubSpot:

 

social sharing buttons within content

When consuming content on HubSpot and highlighting specific sections, a social sharing bar pops up, displaying options for Twitter, Facebook, email, LinkedIn, Messenger, and copy and pasting.

This is stellar usability.

It allows users to not only just share the entire article but share specific sections of the content they find interesting.

Plus when you copy and paste a section from the post, here is what it looks like:

“When you segment the above results by company size, the results get even more interesting.” https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blogging-frequency-benchmarks

It automatically places the copied content into quotation marks and cites the source with HubSpot’s link.

Boom! Now that’s proper attribution.

When you select the social buttons like Twitter or Facebook, it does the same thing, automatically importing the quoted text and citing the article link.

Want more social shares with buttons? Follow HubSpot’s lead and incorporate it into the usability of the page, rather than just having static buttons on the side-bar.

Add Social Sharing Buttons Halfway Through Content

A white paper by Chartbeat found that 55 percent of site visitors read an article for 15 seconds or less.

Brutal.

Getting people to click in search engine results is hard enough as is, let alone getting them to stay around for content consumption.

So you can bet that those social sharing buttons displayed at the top of your blog post aren’t doing the heavy lifting.

If people aren’t even reading for 15+ seconds, they aren’t going to share your content.

With that being said, you should add them further down the page on your content, targeting more interested readers and high intent traffic.

If people are reaching the bottom of your content consistently, they probably loved the post.

And if they loved the post, your odds of generating a social share are far higher.

Sharing buttons at the top of your content can just be a distraction from the big picture:

Getting people to actively read your content.

So, try adding social sharing buttons towards the lower half of your content.

Or even at the end with a call to action:

 

social sharing buttons with call to action

Switch it up and see what generates more social shares for your content.

Display Social Sharing as Social Proof When Shares Accumulate

As you begin to accumulate social shares, you can flip the script and display social buttons at the top of your content.

Low shares on content can work against you if you don’t have years of built up brand awareness.

Imagine this:

Someone who has never heard of your brand decides to give you a shot in the SERPs against big brands.

They click on your content and see this:

 

social sharing social proof

Chances are, they are going to think:

That’s weird, why does this post have just a single social share? Is this content accurate? Is it bad? Should I find something else?

If you haven’t had time to generate tons of social shares yet, or a post simply didn’t get that many, avoid using static buttons at the beginning of your post.

It might negatively impact your ability to get more shares.

Conversely, if you have tons of shares, directly display them at the top of your post for massive social proof benefits:

 

social proof accumulating

The Best Social Sharing Button Apps and Plugins

Not all social sharing buttons and plugins are created equal.

Some are clunky, outdated, have bad usability, and simply look awful.

When it comes to sharing buttons, you want the opposite of that.

Here are some of the best on the market, both free and paid to experiment with.

1. Highlight and Share for WordPress – Free!

This plugin for WordPress works just like HubSpot’s, allowing users on your site to share your content when highlighting text.

 

highlight and share social sharing

This plugin is completely free for WordPress users and works with:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • LinkedIn
  • Email

With it, you can enable themes, disable specific socials and customize the sharing options.

2. Social Warfare – Free to Paid

Social Warfare packs a bunch of different options for sharing buttons from static to fading in at specific points on your post.

It’s great for adding sharing buttons halfway through content to target interested readers.

3. Monarch – Paid

Monarch is the social sharing plugin under the ElegantThemes brand. It costs money to have access to the site and plugin, but it’s one of the best on the market.

It allows the most branding customization of any plugin out there and the most diverse animation sequences.

Want a superior plugin? You are going to have to pay a bit more.

But if customization is key for you, this is worth it.

Conclusion

Social sharing buttons can be highly effective when placed on the right pages at the right time.

But more often than not, most marketers just put social sharing buttons everywhere.

More buttons! You get a button, you get a button!

Sadly, this approach fails.

Want more social shares from your social buttons?

Place them within content when people highlight sections.

Add social sharing buttons halfway through content to target interested readers.

Only display social buttons at the top of posts when you have accumulated tons of shares.

Avoid cheap, clunks social buttons and opt for ones with greater usability.

Social sharing buttons are far from dead. It’s just time to start using them with intent.

via: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/add-social-media-buttons-to-website/285637/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=daily-newsletter&utm_campaign=daily-newsletter

Although Facebook remains popular, marketers know it’s necessary to investigate the newest social platforms flocked to by tech-savvy members of Generation Z. 

While it’s impossible to say whether those players in the social media sector will eventually be comparable to Facebook in their popularity and global reach, many show promise for helping marketers appeal to young and in-tune consumers in the target audience.

Airtime

Several years ago, Napster founder Sean Parker’s Airtime social media platform flopped, but perhaps that was just an instance of the market not being ready for what it offered at the time. The video-based chatting app now reportedly has millions of users who sit in virtual rooms together with their smartphones to talk and consume content simultaneously.

Airtime is particularly popular with teenagers and college students, and it avoids the common social media problem of having hundreds or thousands of friends but not knowing more than a dozen of them well. Besides having discussions with each other, Airtime users can share Spotify playlists and YouTube videos.

Marketers could create both types of content and target people who currently use Airtime or are most likely to start doing so. If successful, Airtime might help videos go viral and facilitate… Learn More

via: https://www.websitemagazine.com/blog/the-next-best-social-media-network

Best Social Media Network, Best Social Media Networking Sites, The Best Social Media Networks, Top Social Media Networking Sites, Top Social Media Networks In India, Top Social Media Networks In The World, What Is The Best Social Media Network

Here are five ways clients can get an edge by letting an agency have the reins on their PPC campaigns.

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via 5 Advantages of Using an Agency to Manage Google AdWords Campaigns by @SusanEDub

 

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