Trump’s Executive Order “Preventing Online Censorship”: What Does It Mean? | Resourceful Business

Trump’s Executive Order “Preventing Online Censorship”: What Does It Mean for Social Media?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020, was an important day for social media.

It began with two tweets by President Trump (@realDonaldTrump) conveying his disapproval of mail-in ballots. He specifically called out California because Governor Newsom signed an executive order to send registered voters a mail-in ballot for the November election. In fact, five other states—Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, and Hawaii—already have mail-in procedures in place. 

Trump tweets about mail-in ballots

 

[image credit] businessinsider.com

Twitter responded by flagging the tweets with a warning, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” although Twitter left the tweets in place. When users clicked the Twitter warning, they were directed to a page that said, “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud.” The page went on to say:

“On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.” 

The Twitter page continued, “Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to a ‘Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud.”

What does the Trump Executive Order relating to social media say?

Trump’s tweets and the Twitter warnings set off a tirade of accusations and public discourse about the operating procedures and policies of social media platforms. Interestingly, the Executive Order specifically calls out Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube (YouTube is owned by Google).

The Executive Order, which was signed on Thursday, May 28, 2020, contends that social media companies: 

  • violate the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prevents the government from making laws “abridging the freedom of speech”
  • practice selective censorship that is harming the national discourse
  • engage in censorship and flag content that does not violate any stated terms of service
  • make unannounced and unexplained changes to company policies that have the effect of disfavoring certain viewpoints
  • delete content and entire accounts with no warning, no rationale, and no recourse

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube wield immense, if not unprecedented, power to shape the interpretation of public events; to censor, delete, or disappear information; and to control what people see or do not see. – Presidential Executive Order, “Preventing Online Censorship,” May 28, 2020

What does the Executive Order “Preventing Online Censorship” hope to achieve?

The Executive Order references Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act which provides social networks with immunity from liability. Specifically, the Order requests that the “scope of the immunity should be clarified.”

In the context of Section 230(c), the accusation is that social platforms do not make a good faith effort to promote free speech and remove objectionable content, but rather are utilized to “engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”

Another accusation is that by restricting access to content, social platforms are engaged in “editorial conduct,” and as such, should be “exposed to liability like any traditional editor and publisher….” 

Where does social media go from here?

  1. The controversy surrounding the responsibilities of social networks could impair ad spend by end clients and agencies, the crux of the social media platforms’ current revenue model. This financial impact would be very real. It is certainly a possibility. The debate surrounding Facebook’s position, for example, manifested itself in a company-wide virtual walkout on Monday, June 1, as Facebook’s own employees took issue with Mark Zuckerberg’s determination to minimize censorship on the platform and his refusal to allow the flagging of controversial posts by President Trump. 
  2. In the short-term, any legislative proposals that develop due to operating clarifications requested by the Executive Order will be challenged in the courts, and therefore, changes to how social media platforms currently vet permissible content may be a long time in coming. The Executive Order certainly did not appear to ruffle Twitter. On Friday, May 29, Twitter again flagged the President’s tweets; in this instance, the tweets were about the George Floyd protests and were flagged as policy violations for their “glorification of violence.” 
  3. The position of the US government will become clear as two major agencies are now more formally involved. In 30 days, the Executive Order compels the Federal Trade Commission to review its spending on advertising and marketing dollars paid to social platforms to protect Federal taxpayer dollars from financing online platforms that restrict free speech. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been asked to propose regulations to clarify Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act. 
  4. The states have also been tasked to play a role in potential regulation of social platforms. The Executive Order mandates reviews by the attorney generals for the states. It compels them to establish working groups to evaluate potential enforcement of state statutes that prohibit online platforms from engaging in deceptive acts or practices. Therefore, some restrictions on social media companies could come at the state level. 

As we look ahead, we believe the potential changes to the way social media companies operate could be significant. The digital marketing landscape, and particularly social media, has always been fluid, but recent events may act as a catalyst for change. Keep following our blog and social media for updates, and if we can help you maneuver the unchartered waters ahead in social media, please contact us

 

5 Reasons Your Business Must Have a Social Media STRATEGY | Resourceful Business | Summit, NJ

5 Reasons Your Business Must Have a Social Media STRATEGY

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 69% of US adults use Facebook, 37% spend time on Instagram, and 22% use Twitter. 

If you believe in the four principles of marketing–Product, Price, Promotion, and Place–the audience reach alone of social media makes it an essential component in the successful execution of a marketing strategy. A fifth marketing pillar, Purpose, as described by Mark Schaefer in Marketing Rebellion, only adds to the importance of social media as a marketing tool. However, the sheer volume of posts and ads in the newsfeed means that a hit-and-miss approach to social media will no longer work. You have to have a STRATEGY. 

Here are 5 reasons your business must have a social media strategy: 

1. Facebook Zero is real

There has been a precipitous drop in organic reach for Facebook Company pages since 2012. Organic reach includes content not accompanied by a paid ad. Facebook has been continuously tweaking the algorithm to prompt marketers and business owners to pay for ads to push out their content. According to Key Media Solutions, in 2012, the organic reach of a Facebook Page post was 16% and that number declined to 6.5% in 2014, 2% in 2016, and is less than 1% today, hence the term Facebook Zero. Also, Facebook has telegraphed its shift to Facebook Groups over Facebook Company pages, so organic page reach will not return. Because an effective social media presence for brands now requires an ad budget, there has to be a social media strategy in place to establish, monitor and revise the ongoing ad spend. 

You can grow your audience with social media tags | Resourceful Business | Summit, NJ

2. You can grow your audience with social media tags

Not to be confused with hashtags (#), tagging (@mentions) is an incredibly powerful feature of social media. When you tag a person or business in social media content with an @mention, the tag calls them out in a positive way and gives recognition. Tags hyperlink back to the tagged entity’s social media and also notify the person or business that they have been tagged. When you take the time to tag relevant businesses or people in your posts, they often will share and comment on the post and in doing so, will widen the reach. Tags utilize the audience reach of others and build engagement. They can bring attention to your brand and are a unique feature of social media. 

3. Social media platforms are essential for reviews

According to Vendasta, the top 10 online review sites for businesses include Facebook, which is ranked second behind Google, and Yelp, which is placed fourth behind Amazon. Yelp is particularly important for retailers and restaurants and as of the end of the third quarter 2018, had over 170 million reviews. Because people spend time on social media, it’s a natural extension to add reviews there. Also, social platforms allow you to add your company website in the profile information and can drive traffic back to your website as happy reviewers go in search of more information about your brand. Because your brand’s digital footprint is connected across all platforms, make sure to clean up your social media information and ensure the address, phone number, and contact information for your business are consistent across all social platforms. 

In 2012, the organic reach of a Facebook Page post was 16%, and that number is less than 1% today.  –KeyMedia Solutions

4. Social media imagery can showcase your product

Social media has the unique advantage of coupling a constant stream of images with the content you create. It’s why many brands now embed their Instagram feed right on the website homepage allowing site visitors to see and click-through to the brand’s Instagram posts. In an interesting article by Buffer that analyzed Tweets with and without images, they found that Tweets with images had higher click-through rates, retweets and were more often marked as Favorites. Social media gives brands the platform to showcase their products or services and utilize User Generated Content (UGC), or content created by other users, which the brand can share on its feed. 

5. You can interact with your customers using social media

Whether it’s a question from a client via Facebook Messenger, an answer to a question posed via your Instagram Stories, or a click-through to your online store, social media platforms are interactive and bring you closer to your customers. Social listening, the process wherein brands evaluate feedback from their customers garnered via social channels, can help flag business issues and drive strategic change. The feedback may come in the form of a review, comment, or direct message. There’s no better way for a potential customer to ask a question than via social media or messaging app. 

Shopping via social media is becoming frictionless, too, with many social platforms like Instagram ensuring the shopping experience remains in-app. In the same way, many brands now integrate Facebook Messenger as a chat option on their websites, and the integration is free, so yet another way to interact with customers. It’s worth mentioning that customer queries need to be answered in a timely manner. According to HubSpot research, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question, and immediate means in 10 minutes or less.  

The power of social media is that it puts customer reach in the palm of your hand. Whether you are engaging with customers, collecting online reviews, or growing an audience with tools like tags, social media must be part of your marketing wheelhouse. Interactivity, versatility, and unique functionality are just three reasons it makes sense to put a rigorous, thoughtful social media strategy in place for your brand. 

Posting on Instagram Every Day | Resourceful Business

Social Media: What I Learned By Posting on Instagram Every Day

At the beginning of April, I set myself a challenge. 

For one year, I decided to create a daily post on our company’s Instagram page. The post could be an image, video or carousel, but it had to be custom-created and relevant to our industry–digital marketing. To keep it simple, I decided to focus on only one social media platform, Instagram, but I would also add the post to Facebook. I chose 7 pm each evening as the posting time, and I decided there would be absolutely no social ad spend on the post. Any engagement would be strictly organic.

I have been surprised at what has happened since I began posting daily on Instagram, so I thought I would share. My experience confirms what we all have long suspected or perhaps known. When it comes to social media, consistency is of the utmost importance and posting consistently has ripple effects well beyond social media. 

With five months of daily Instagram posts under my belt, here is what I learned (so far) by posting on Instagram every day

1. I found my voice

When you have to put a post together every day, you stop overthinking the creation process. If you know your trade, there are plenty of topics your audience or clients want to learn. I stopped considering whether my post was interesting enough, creative enough, colorful enough. I found my voice when writing copy each day and just presented something simple, interesting and business-related that I was thinking about or had recently read. 

2. I learned and learned and learned

One of my favorite concepts, pioneered by Gary Vaynerchuk, is “Document, don’t create.” When you are producing a lot of content–as you will when you post every day–you can’t make it up. If you are a practitioner in social media, you are immersed in your field each day. Documenting something interesting or valuable that you are working on or thinking about is not hard. Trying to come up with a creative post when you don’t have the background to talk about the subject matter is hard. 

3. I thought about my business every single day

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that business owners don’t think about their companies each day. Certainly, they do. However, putting a post together about your industry or field each day is a different type of mindfulness. It’s not about whether you ran your payroll. It’s about a challenge you may be facing, a thought-starter that made you pause or something that keeps you up at night. 

client meeting

4. I put myself in my clients’ shoes

Creating a social media post each day made me really think about our clients. I put myself in their shoes. What would they want to know from me as someone who is involved in social media each day? If we were sitting in a meeting, what questions might they ask me or struggles would they tell me about in their day-to-day business? I tried to think about whether my post for the next day would have practical utility and value-add for them. 

5. I learned a new video marketing tool 

One tool that I needed to learn which was on my to-do list was wave.video. Canva had always been my go-to tool, and it offers a simple video creation feature. However, given that I had 365 posts ahead of me when I started in April, I decided to tackle wave.video because it would allow me to create more complex videos for our Instagram feed. The versatility of wave.video was such that I was able to cancel the subscription my company had to a paid stock photo library. Wave.video has its own library of images and stock videos. Plus, it has a user-friendly video editing tool. You can even add music to your videos, and now I have learned it and can tick off that box.  

6. I discovered interesting people and businesses to follow on social media

I love podcasts. I have a full library of regular programs I listen to about digital marketing. Knowing that I had to create a social media post each day, I became more disciplined at listening to a variety of podcasts. After each one, I would follow the person that was featured or interviewed. I discovered so many talented people in my field and thought leaders. Now, I follow these people and learn via my own social media feed as they put up their posts on their feeds. 

posting on Instagram every day

7. People started visiting my LinkedIn profile

In following more people in the digital marketing space on social media plus posting more on Instagram, I noticed that many more people started viewing my LinkedIn profile. Not only that, but the seniority of people in the industry that were looking at my LinkedIn profile went up too. So, both the quality and quantity of LinkedIn profile views went up for me. 

8. My website blogs received more views

Similar to the increased visibility on LinkedIn, our company blog saw more views and engagement on our website. Now, there are more regular comments on the blogs. Even older blogs seem to be getting some renewed attention. The quality of the comments is interesting too. Posting regularly on Instagram attracted a focused audience, and in fact, exactly the type of audience my company would want. 

9. I began to understand the value of Direct Messages (DMs)

It dawned on me that social media opens up an entirely new level of connectivity. In following more people in my field, I had questions on occasion based on a podcast that I had listened to or article I had read. Instagram Direct Messages, or DMs, allow the sender to message another person on Instagram. Think how challenging that task would be before DMs were around. I learned to DM industry thought leaders if I had a question they may be able to answer, and it was neat to be able to ask other professionals for their insights even though we had never met. Plus, they answered me. 

10. I learned about Instagram Stories

Across the many social media platforms my company utilizes for clients, I don’t think there is anything quite like Instagram Stories. The sticker feature, which allows you to interact with people who have seen the Story, is unique. Stories have the right balance of authenticity, brevity and creativity. It’s no wonder they are so popular and fun, and I became facile at using them alongside my daily Instagram posts.

So, now you have 10 things I learned while immersed in my personal challenge of posting on my company’s Instagram page (@resourceful_business) every single day. It’s been 5 months, and I still have 7 more months to go. I am sure I will have 10 more things to share when I am over the finish line. 


5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business | Resourceful Business

5 Reasons You Must Create Instagram Stories for Your Business

Social media content is rapidly evolving.  

Back in August 2016, Instagram launched Stories to compete with Snapchat Stories. Stories were meant to help capture the daily activities of Instagram’s now more than 1 billion users worldwide, and unlike posts, Stories are short-lived–disappearing in 24 hours.

By January 2019, Instagram stories had grown in popularity to over 500 million daily active users (DAU), meaning half of Instagram’s daily users are on Stories every day. With important, interactive features and a less formal type of content, Instagram Stories have become essential for businesses that use Instagram marketing.

Here are 5 reasons you must create Instagram stories for your business:

Instagram Story stickers

Reason 1: Instagram Stories have interactive stickers

With Instagram Stories, you can add a sticker. Unlike Instagram posts, stickers allow users to tap and interact with your Story in creative ways. There are many types of stickers available including:

  • Donation
  • Quiz
  • Countdown
  • Questions
  • Music
  • Poll or Emoji Slider
  • Location
  • Hashtag
  • Current Time or Weather
  • Selfie

As an example, suppose you are thinking about keeping your business open late one evening of the week. You wonder whether your customers would come. You can create an Instagram Story and add an emoji slider with a thumbs up emoji. Ask, “Do you want us to stay open late one evening?” Customers that see your Instagram Story can slide the emoji to the right if they like the idea, and you get feedback directly from your customers.

Reason 2: Instagram Stories are more informal than posts

There is an analogy used by Bella Vasta, a Facebook Group keynote speaker, which she uses to explain the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook Group, and the same analogy applies to Instagram posts and Instagram Stories. Bella equates a Facebook page to the front yard of a house–formal and public. Similarly, Instagram posts have a more formal, curated look and feel.

A home’s backyard is the Facebook group – a gathering of people with something in common, informal, more personal and friendly. Likewise, Instagram Stories are the backyard–informal and personal.

The value of Instagram Stories is they give a business tremendous versatility in how it can present content with some reserved for the more formal Instagram page and other content posted in Stories. Another unique feature of Stories worth mentioning is that unlike posts, you can add to your Stories. So, if your business is attending an event, your followers can watch a Story and see new additions to the Story while you are there.

Instagram Story Highlights

Reason 3: Instagram Story Highlights can help cultivate unique audiences

According to Instagram Business, 80% of Instagram accounts follow a brand. Not surprisingly, Instagram users look for Instagram Stories shared by their favorite brands, and Stories have a feature called Highlights – the circles that appear across the top of an Instagram page. These Highlights can be divided into content-related categories that are relevant for your business, and when Stories are added to Highlights, they do not disappear in 24 hours. One of our favorite Story Highlights categories is “Inspo” because we like to see what people in a company are reading, thinking about or doing for inspiration.

Here are some Highlights examples:

  • A hair salon may highlight different haircut styles
  • A retail store may highlight different seasonal clothing styles
  • A blogger may highlight different blog categories

Businesses should establish relevant Highlights categories so followers can discover new content in their areas of interest. Whereas Instagram pages do not allow partitioning of content by topic, Stories do via Highlights. Using Highlights effectively will allow a brand to cultivate unique subsets of their audience based on their content preferences.

Instagram describes its stories product as a way to promote the sharing of moments that don’t meet the higher bar of a traditional Instagram post. The Verge

Reason 4: Instagram Stories re-enforce the business brand

An Instagram Story can serve as an extension of a brand’s footprint on Instagram. As with websites or social media posts, Instagram Stories should have a hint of the company’s brand guidelines – colors, fonts, tag lines. People that see Instagram Stories should recognize familiar aspects associated with the brand. Whether it’s a cameo of everyone’s favorite furry mascot in the office or a behind-the-scenes look at the setup for an event,  Instagram Stories give people a feel for the soul of the business while subtly reinforcing the brand.

marketing with Instagram Stories

Reason 5: Instagram Stories focus on moments and encourage sharing

An Instagram Story can reflect the little moments that occur throughout the day, and people love to feel part of someone’s journey. Instagram posts, on the other hand, allow businesses to build their brand’s presence in a more systematic way, include thoughtful written copy, tags, and imagery. When it comes to Instagram business pages, viewers expect a carefully curated feed that looks aesthetically pleasing.

Stories, in contrast, are spontaneous and current. The concept behind Stories is that people will want to capture moments and share them. Stories are ephemeral, and Facebook, which owns Instagram, hopes users will actively create content that is personal, relatable and captures the moment.

Great for branding, audience targeting and connecting with your tribe, Instagram Stories are a must for your social media marketing toolkit. If you’re interested in creating an Instagram Story strategy but don’t know where to start, contact us.

What's wrong with social media | Resourceful Business

What’s Wrong With Social Media?

After succumbing to her curiosity and peeking in the box, Pandora tries to quickly close the top as creatures representing evil and disease escape.

It’s hard to believe that Facebook only came into existence in February 2004–just 15 years ago. Once named thefacebook.com, it began a communication revolution which has put social media at the front and center of many parts of our daily lives. Whether we use Messenger to talk to friends, Instagram to follow our favorite influencer or Pinterest to find a trending product, social media is everywhere.  

Negative headlines about data privacy and streams of egregious content have been flashing warning signs about social media for some time. As the manager of a digital marketing agency, here are a few cautionary signs that I see which tell me rigorous regulation of this industry is long overdue, and when it does arrive, it will be a welcome reprieve.

1. Influencer marketing means what you see is not what you get

Called brand partnerships, social media influencers often get paid to blog and post about products. As a rule of thumb, every follower an influencer has equates to a penny. Therefore, an influencer with 10,000 followers may charge $100 per post plus additional production expenses, but ethically, if that person is posting about a product or service as part of the brand partnership, (s)he should disclose it visibly. On social platforms, partner relationships are now being referenced more explicitly, but not always. That means that people may follow influencers and try products being promoted in the posts without realizing influencers are taking fees for creating the posts.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has caught on to undisclosed brand partnerships. The FTC Endorsement Guides require a “material connection” between the two parties, the paid endorser of the product or service and the brand advertiser, to be conspicuously disclosed. Social media platforms are busy rolling out branded content tools that will require tagging of a business partner where there has been an “exchange of value,” but prior to these guidelines, consumers, sometimes children, were none the wiser.

2. Online reviews provide no recourse

Online reviews are an essential part of the digital era, and social media platforms such as Facebook and Yelp are an important source of consumer reviews. According to the BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2018, 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and that percentage jumps to 95% for people aged 18 to 34. The problem is that consumers know the importance of reviews, and some of them are savvy at abusing them.  

For example, people who want to post a negative review frequently copy and paste the same review on as many social platforms as possible. Angry customers will put a negative review on Yelp, Facebook, and then Google My Business, a feature of the Google search engine. The business can answer the review, of course, but it can be incredibly difficult to defend oneself without being seen to disparage the reviewer, who by the way, is not always right. We recently talked with one of our customers that owns a local, 5-star rated business. They provided a retail service for a child, and afterward, the mother paid the bill and left with the boy, both quite happy. Two weeks later, the father returned with the boy to say how unhappy he was with the service that had been provided. The man proceeded to post a 1-star review on three platforms, remove a 5-star review that he had posted for the business a few months earlier, and disparage employees by name in the review.

There’s no arbitration for an online review, no “other side” of the story and with some exception, the review site often does not verify a purchase has even been made. The same BrightLocal survey says, “Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers wanting to use a business,” so the ability of consumers to post any review they would like, even if they have never purchased the product or service, needs to change. Even competitors can post a negative review using fake names; there’s nothing in place to stop them. A fair review process requires vetting–did a purchase actually take place–and some form of reasonable recourse for the business, a monumental technological challenge for both social networks and search engines.

3. Social media platforms offer no real customer service

You might imagine that as a digital marketing agency, we are working with different social media platforms each day. Facebook has a market capitalization, the value of its outstanding shares, of circa 550 billion dollars. Yet, if you have an issue, you have one preliminary option for support. You can click the round question mark button in the navigation. From there, you submit your help request online using their Report a Problem form.

As measured by its market cap, Facebook is the sixth largest company in the world. Facebook also operates Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and it is not obliged to provide any human form of customer service. Of course, neither are small businesses, but it’s hard to imagine one of the largest companies in the world operating with a Report a Problem form as the first stage of the customer service journey.

4. Social media content is now too vast to police

If you think about movies, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has a rating system for films to warn audiences about film content and its age appropriateness. Contrast the MPAA rating system to the current social media landscape which has no enforceable content guidelines. If you disagree with content posted about your business and even content that tags your business, you can appeal to Facebook to remove it. Our agency’s experience has been that those requests have been declined 100% of the time even when there is a clear pattern of abuse.

Facebook Live, a broadcasting feature available within the Facebook app, has been used to capture murders and suicides. Social media posts on many platforms are rife with profanity and hate speech. As a user, you can block people, but you have no way to actively filter newsfeed content for profanity or inappropriate imagery. I suppose that similar to the movies, you can choose not to “attend,” but really there should be a viable filter available for social media users who wish to block images of violence or profanity in the copy if they so chose. However, allowing the user to filter content would imperil the revenue model for social media networks which is dependent on users seeing ads interspersed in the newsfeed.

5. Personal data is not secure with social media companies

The revelations that came to light in the Cambridge Analytica scandal were shocking. Cambridge Analytica employees and contractors acquired the data of tens of millions of Facebook users via a Facebook data breach in 2014. This data was utilized to construct user profiles in advance of the 2016 US presidential election and effectively audience target marketing campaigns. According to The Guardian, when Facebook found out about the breach in 2015 and that individual data had been harvested, it failed to notify Facebook users that were affected. Facebook also did not work to recover the data from the breach.

In fact, the rapid growth of social media platforms over the last 15 years has meant that social media companies have not been held to the same standard as other traditional media companies and corporations in many areas, including privacy. They should be. It’s been convenient to be labeled a social media platform as if best practice for other companies does not apply. Facebook put out a recent announcement that the company anticipates a fine from the FTC of 3 to 5 billion dollars for privacy breaches and has set aside 3 billion for legal fees which reaffirm the gravity of the situation.

So, what’s wrong with social media? Ads drive the revenue model for social media companies and only work if the platforms are continuously and actively used. Otherwise, no one would see the ads. To a certain extent, questionable content attracts more users, and this phenomenon has fueled the success of companies such as Snapchat where often teens, in particular, post inappropriate content that conveniently disappears. But of course, the posts have already served their purpose and captured the attention of the audience the teen was hoping to reach. Similarly, outrageous reviews, hate speech, and online bullying attract an audience, so social media companies are not particularly incentivized to restrain them. If you haven’t done so recently, scroll through your Twitter feed and glance at the barbs traded daily.

Maturing social networks need leadership that is sensible, ethical and genuinely interested in doing what is in the public interest. Company leadership must be held accountable too, which becomes difficult when within our own legislative branch, there is such a limited understanding of the revenue model that drives social media companies. In a Joint Hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees on Capitol Hill in April of last year, Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, “So, how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Mark Zuckerberg replied, “Senator, we run ads.” Without a broad understanding of that basic truism and how to impact it, no real behavioral change will occur by social media networks.

Perhaps not quite as grim as the Greek myth, Pandora’s Box, wherein Pandora’s curiosity gets the better of her and she unleashes all the evils of the world from a box, the exponential growth of social media has nonetheless unleashed its own form of tyranny. Only when the latest features and app updates are truly secondary to the ethical execution of a meaningful company mission will the issues caused by social media start to wane.


digital marketing relevance

Why RELEVANCE is Key to a Successful Digital Marketing Strategy

An excerpt from Ann Mills’ presentation on digital marketing at Swap The Biz, Short Hills, NJ.


Imagine –

You’ve just been invited to a party, and you have the perfect outfit but need a matching pair of shoes. You head to the local shopping mall and come across a store advertising DRESS SHOES for any occasion. You wander in, and to your dismay, you see rows and rows of sneakers in every style and size. After looking around, you see there are a few dress shoes over in one corner, but certainly not many, and so you leave.

Your experience in the shoe store is a problem digital marketers see played out over and over again in the digital advertising space. People search for a product or service on the Internet and land on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad, an ad the advertiser only pays for when the person clicks. Potential customers click on the ad, and they land on a website which does not offer what they are looking for and if it does, it’s pretty hard to find.

In an attempt to prevent this scenario from happening, search platforms and social networks rigorously evaluate advertising campaigns using many different metrics, the most important of which is RELEVANCE.

What is RELEVANCE and why does it matter?

In digital marketing, relevance is exactly what you might imagine–it’s a score that serves as a barometer of whether your messaging truly appeals to the audience you are targeting. It is measured using a combination of variables as a person moves from search query to ad to website. So, for example, if a person types in a search query using certain keywords and sees your business’ Google ad, she will decide whether to click on the ad. If she doesn’t, chances are she did not find the ad relevant to the original query, and over time, that ad will be shown less and cost more for your business to run.

There’s no doubt that marketing your business in the digital space is challenging to execute and when it’s off track, tough to recalibrate. Marketing can be expensive too, so understanding its relevance and your Return on Investment (ROI) are essential. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that businesses with under 5 million in sales spend approximately 7 to 8% of gross revenue on marketing. For start-ups in a competitive industry, the percentage can be more like 20% which means advertising can get costly as a business gears up.

Facebook Relevance Score

In Facebook, relevance has historically been defined by an ad’s Relevance Score. Measured on a scale of 1 to 10, highly relevant ads are awarded a higher number. Just one example, if there are positive reactions to a boosted post, it will help the relevance score and not surprisingly, negative reactions will do the opposite. In Facebook, an ad must have 500+ impressions for the Relevance Score to show in the metrics, but marketers have found that a high Facebook Relevance Score does not always correlate to whether the ad works for the business.

In a recent development, Facebook announced that as of April 30, 2019, Relevance Score will be replaced by three more granular relevancy metrics which will measure ad quality, engagement rate, and conversion rate. More importantly, the scores will be relative to similar ads that are competing for the same target audience. Therefore, if these relevancy metrics are not strong for one of your ads, your competitors are doing a better job with similar ads.

Google Quality Score

Similarly, Google defines relevance as, “How closely the elements of your ad campaign match what a person seems to be looking for.” Therefore, optimized ad campaigns have keywords that trigger ads which take the visitor to a user-friendly website page. Ads can also direct people to stand-alone landing pages–single web pages designed to encourage a specific action. A relevant landing page will prompt high click-through rates and Google will reward the business for this positive user experience by prompting more ad impressions at a lower cost. If the ad is truly relevant to the audience it is targeting, it has a measurable marketing advantage over comparable ads in the same space.

Similar to the relevancy metrics recently announced by Facebook, Google has multiple data points which combine to determine an ad’s overall Quality Score. These data points include a Quality Score for the keywords, an assessment of the landing page experience, ad relevance, and the expected click-through rate.

How your website design impacts relevance

It’s important to remember that ad views are impressions, but behind every click is a person. When people who have viewed your ad decide to click the ad to learn more, that click-through takes them to your website or landing page. The construction and organization of your website are critically important to delivering and optimizing the visitor experience once they click.

Look at college and university websites. Often, they divide their navigation into Students, Faculty and Staff, and Alumni when they organize the information for their audience groups. What is relevant to a student or even a prospective student is completely different than what is relevant to an alumnus. Similarly, hotels often organize information by Rooms, Dining, and Events. This type of logical organization structure is essential to relevance. A digital marketer that maps an ad back to a general website page with broadly written content will never be able to impact the business revenue in the same way as if he can direct an ad back to specific, well-written content. Relevant content directly speaks to the audience it is meant to target, and it answers their queries. In the context of the dress shoe example, a store that advertises DRESS SHOES should have rows and rows of dress shoes, not sneakers. If the shoes are organized into sections for men, women, and teens, even better because consumers can easily find what they need.

The DoubleTree by Hilton cookie–a lesson in relevance

If you ever check in at a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, you are given a warm chocolate chip cookie, a tradition since the 1980s. Aligned with that practice, when you are searching for family-friendly hotels and come across DoubleTree in your search results, you see the following ad:

There’s also a page on the DoubleTree by Hilton website that tells website visitors all about the history of the cookie and that to DoubleTree, “…the cookie means so much more. It represents our constant dedication to our guests and thoughtful touches that ensure you feel special and cared for throughout your stay.”

DoubleTree by Hilton keeps their advertising relevant to customers by associating warm cookies with a welcoming atmosphere and pulls this theme through in their ads and website. Digital marketers have analyzed DoubleTree tweets, and at times, more than 60% of the tweets they are tagged in are about the cookie.  

Two takeaways on relevance

Like the DoubleTree by Hilton marketing campaigns, keywords, ads and websites have to work together seamlessly to create powerful, relevant messaging. As you think about your businesses, here are two takeaways on relevance for you to consider:

  1. Figure out your DoubleTree cookie. What makes you different, and by different, I don’t mean just identifying a particular product or service. What really makes your business different from your competitors, and why should someone call you? The answer to these questions is the foundation for an impactful, relevant digital marketing campaign.
  2. Look at your website. On average, when people land on your website homepage, they take 3 seconds to determine if they can find what they need. If they can’t figure out where to go quickly to answer their query, they will leave–it’s the dress shoe example.

Relevance is by far the most important metric in digital marketing, and by the same token, it can be one of the most difficult to pin down. Each brand has a digital footprint which includes all of its assets in the digital space–website, logos, marketing campaigns, social media platforms. If you think your marketing strategy is not engaging potential customers, the culprit could be low relevance. Contact Resourceful Business to learn more.

LinkedIn Tips

Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile With These 5 Tips

With close to 600 million users, LinkedIn is a social media platform business professionals and owners cannot afford to ignore. It’s atypical for a social network in that LinkedIn is not geared towards purely social connections but rather strives to give people a means to connect with other professionals. In addition to the large and growing user base, some 260 million LinkedIn users are actively logging in monthly, and recruiters and companies looking to hire also search LinkedIn.

Like so many platforms in the digital space, there is much more to a LinkedIn profile than meets the eye. If you’re simply filling in the fields in the hopes that you’ll get noticed, you are missing an opportunity to leverage LinkedIn, connect with your peers, and grow your personal brand.

Take the time to professionalize and leverage your LinkedIn profile with these 5 tips:

LinkedIn Tip #1: Start strong

The first three sentences of your Summary Section are the most important because when people view your profile, it’s the only part of the summary they see at first glance. To see the rest of your profile demands a click of the Show more tab.

  • DO state your professional passion right upfront in these three lines.
  • DON’T repeat your title and company name in the summary opening lines. Put your title and company name in your Headline section.

LinkedIn Tip #2: Add keywords

LinkedIn is a digital platform, and it is keyword-driven. As noted in LinkedIn Tip #1, the first three lines of your Summary Section are critical, so populating these lines with your essential keywords is not easy logistically, nor necessary. At the end of the Summary Section and out of view, add a section called Areas of Expertise and list your areas of expertise using your essential keywords.

By adding a paragraph that includes your keyword-driven areas of expertise towards the bottom of your LinkedIn Summary Section, you achieve the goal of infusing keywords in your summary without cluttering up the precious first few lines.

LinkedIn Pro Tip: When people are searching LinkedIn, LinkedIn tracks what keywords they have used to land on your profile. On the bottom of the Weekly search stats page is a section called Keywords your searchers used. If the terms listed don’t align with your skill set, your keywords are off, and you should review them in your Summary Section.

LinkedIn Tip #3: Differentiate yourself with imagery

Behind your profile photo is a banner space that will accommodate a 1584 x 396 pixel-sized image. This landscape-oriented banner is the perfect opportunity to tell people visually something interesting about you. What’s your favorite city or personal passion? What makes you unique–maybe a hobby or interesting volunteer experience.

  • DO use the banner to personalize your profile and make it about you.
  • DON’T use the banner to promote your business.

Add keywords to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Tip #4: Use Your Technology

What if you start to build out your LinkedIn profile, and you don’t know what keywords to use? Or maybe you can think of a few keywords, but you would like a few more to flesh out your Summary Section.  To build a strong keyword list, here’s a:

LinkedIn Pro Tip: Identify an influencer or colleague on LinkedIn that is in your industry, and mirror his or her keywords. Here’s a quick way to find out what those keywords are:   

  • Select and copy the text in a person’s LinkedIn profile.
  • Paste the copy into a word cloud application. Word clouds are visual representations of words from the text used to create the cloud. The more often the word is in the text, the bigger and bolder it is in the word cloud. There are many different word cloud generators too. Read this Poll Everywhere article for inspiration.
  • Choose keywords from the word cloud that are relevant to you, and use them to update your LinkedIn profile.  

LinkedIn Tip #5: Highlight your skills

Because LinkedIn is data and keyword driven, make sure to fill in the Skills & Endorsements section of your profile. You can Add a new skill yourself by clicking the pencil icon for the section. You don’t need someone else to endorse you for a skill to add it to your list.

  • DO make sure all of your key areas of expertise from LinkedIn Tip #2 are listed in the Skills & Endorsements section, so people looking at your profile know your proficiencies. Order them by using the pencil icon to edit.
  • DON’T forget to remove skills that are no longer relevant from time to time which you can do via the edit feature.

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is a strategic and essential part of managing your personal online brand. Be mindful of how you update your profile and remember–LinkedIn is a social network driven by data. More broadly, when Linkedin is used with consistency across an organization, the impact of leveraging properly constructed LinkedIn profiles can have a ripple effect and strengthen a company’s brand.

If sorting out LinkedIn is on your management team’s bucket list, contact us to learn more about our LinkedIn training sessions for corporate executive teams.

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Thanks to Oliver Schinkten, staff instructor for LinkedIn, who inspired this post. I recently had the privilege of attending one of his training sessions.

digital marketing audience targeting

Finding Your Ideal Customer Using the Power of Digital Marketing

An excerpt from Ann Mills’ presentation on digital marketing at Swap The Biz, Short Hills, NJ.

_________

You are on your way to a networking event.

When you arrive, you are surprised to find not one room but three to choose from–each filled with 50 people. Tacked on the door of each room is a sign with some information about each of the people in the room–ages, income bracket, and town. The information also includes whether the person is a parent and his or her areas of interest.

You look at the information on each door and think:

In Room #1, there are one or two people who seem like they might be an ideal networking opportunity.  

Room #2–about half of the people in the room seem to fit the profile of your ideal networking opportunity.

In Room #3, all 50 people fit your ideal networking persona. They are the right age, live in a nearby location, and they seem like people who might be interested in the product or service you sell.

Which room will you enter? Probably Room #3.

 

advertising mailer

In the context of marketing:

Room #1 with its 2 to 3 prospects is perhaps the equivalent of a mailer like this one about dining room sets. If you are not buying a dining room set, you’ll probably throw the mailer out. Even if you are buying a dining room set, you may not look at the mailer. If you’re the business that sent the mailer, you can’t be sure who actually read it, and as one print company executive said to me recently, “People pretty much open their mail over the trash can.”

Room #2 with about 25 possible networking opportunities is representative of a networking group. You have a higher chance of connecting and exchanging business with people in the room. They more closely fit your ideal networking persona, and you have more in common with people in the group than acquaintances you make outside the group.

Room #3 with 50 of 50 people seemingly possible networking opportunities personifies digital marketing and, in particular, a powerful tool we use called audience targeting.

What is digital marketing?

If you ask someone what digital marketing is, they will probably tell you that it is advertising delivered via a digital channel. It might be a website, Pay-Per-Click campaign (the advertiser pays for the ad only when someone clicks on it), remarketing campaign, email, social media post, or even a response to an online review. Weaved together, digital marketers create omnichannel marketing strategies.

However, that definition of digital marketing does not convey what is so important about it. Primarily:

  • A digital campaign audience is not guesswork.
  • Campaign results are measurable, actionable, and data-driven.
  • Marketing campaigns can be timed to maximize impact.
  • Digital campaigns can be changed and scaled quickly.

Let me give you two examples of the agility and versatility afforded by digital marketing:

A mortgage banker in New Jersey deals almost exclusively with clients purchasing high-end homes. In an effort to broaden his target audience of potential clients, a digital agency does an analysis of zip codes in Manhattan where residents typically pay four to five-thousand dollars in rent each month. Intuitively, it’s clear that many of these young professionals might be thinking of starting families as well. The agency develops a Pay-Per-Click ad campaign to market the banker’s services into specific zip codes in New York City where the high-rent-paying population lives.

A client with multiple retail locations in New Jersey has her online reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp managed by a digital agency. The agency notices that some of the online reviews are in Spanish and come to believe that it is perhaps a far more important demographic than had been previously realized. In addition to Google AdWords Pay-Per-Click campaigns targeting English-speaking people which are already in place, the agency turns Spanish-speaking living in the United States on as a demographic trait for her Google AdWords campaigns. In addition to posts in English, the social media agency also begins to add Spanish posts to her social media feeds. The agency then rolls out corporate overview videos–one with an English voiceover and another with a voiceover in Spanish.

The results seen by our digital marketing clients have been striking. One client has quadrupled sales. Another found that their seasonal summer dip in sales disappeared. One company was named to a prominent list of the fastest growing companies in New Jersey in 2017 and in America in 2018.

Micro-Moments

Google defines something called a Micro-Moment. A Micro-Moment is an intent rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need–to know, go, do or buy.

The power of digital marketing is that it allows your business to be present at those micro-moments in a way traditional media cannot. In so doing, your business can get:

the right message,

to the right people,

at exactly the right time.

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Interested in learning more? Contact us.

Facebook pixel

Social Media Marketing Pixie Dust – The Facebook Pixel

What if there was a marketing tool that would allow your business to tailor Facebook ads based on what pages people viewed on your website or what items they added to their shopping cart?

Think of the possibilities.

Maybe you own a retail store, for example, currently showcasing spring dresses on one of your website pages. Your advertising campaign delivers Facebook ads showcasing dresses only to people who visited the spring dresses page of your website.

This hyper-targeted form of marketing happens every day with a bit of social media marketing pixie dust called the Facebook Pixel. According to BuiltWith, it’s a marketing tool employed on 3.8 million websites across the Internet. So, let’s find out what a Facebook Pixel is and how you can use it in your company’s social media strategy.

What’s a Facebook Pixel?

A Facebook Pixel is a snippet of tracking code placed in the backend of a website page that tracks certain actions or “events” by your website visitors such as buying an item from your online store or searching for specific content on the site. The importance of the Facebook Pixel lies in the data it collects which can help a business build a powerful marketing campaign that targets potential customers in a structured, relevant way. Site visitors that are tracked by the Facebook pixel become part of a Custom Audience created in Facebook, and even if you only install what is often referred to as the “base Facebook Pixel,” you will immediately have more insight into what people are doing when they visit your website. Installation is a little technical, but Facebook covers the many installation options in an excellent knowledge-based article.

Facebook custom audience

Why should you use a Facebook Pixel?

With a base Facebook Pixel, your default Custom Audience is anyone who visits your website. But, now the magic begins.

Let’s say you want to track site visitors by pageview or by the type of content they searched for while on your website. There are nine standard events that can be tracked by a Facebook Pixel. There are also some simpler custom conversions which are different than the events. Within the standard events, most of what a business might want to know about a site visitor is covered. For example, you can track:

  • Purchase
  • Lead
  • Complete Registration
  • Add Payment Info
  • Initiate Checkout
  • Add to Cart
  • Add to Wishlist
  • Search
  • View Content

Think about the value of being able to target site visitors who take one of these actions? You can add them to an event-specific Custom Audience created for your Facebook advertising.

The importance of the Facebook Pixel lies in the data it collects.

Facebook Pixel data and Custom Audiences created, what next?

Grow your target audience by creating a Facebook Lookalike Audience

Using your Custom Audiences, you can then create Lookalike Audiences, which are exactly what they sound like – audiences that have the same characteristics of the Custom Audience created with the Facebook Pixel. To be effective, you want a minimum of 1000 people in your Custom Audience, and the more specific the lead type, the better the Lookalike Audience will work. Your target audience for your ad campaigns has just grown based on the data collected with the Facebook Pixel.

So now you have three ways to hone in on and grow your target audience using the Facebook Pixel. First, you can identify certain behaviors of your website visitors and create Custom Audiences in Facebook with specific interests. Second, you can create custom Facebook ads based on actionable “events” taken by your Custom Audiences, and third, you can grow your target audience by using a Facebook Lookalike Audience.

Using the Facebook Pixel, you can deliver Facebook ads with timely, relevant information to the people that actually want to see them. It’s the type of digital marketing savvy made possible with a bit of social media marketing pixie dust – the Facebook Pixel.

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social Media: How Much Do You Actually Know?

Social media marketing can be transformative for a business’ bottom line, but doing it well takes time, perseverance and skill. Sometimes a growing business gets caught off guard when it’s time to hand over the reins and get some assistance with social media.

Answer the following 10 questions in our latest social media quiz and by the end, you’ll know if you’re up to speed in social media or a little agency help is in order.


 
Questions about any of the information in the quiz? Contact us.