It’s election week, and the news (and our social feeds) are dominated by party mantras, opinions, and memes. Social media has radically changed since Barack Obama’s first election, just over a decade ago, which was considered by many to be the first to leverage the power of social media. Now, in a post-Cambridge Analytica era, it feels as though boundaries are pushed ever further for political gain. From the controversy surrounding fact-checker UK, to Twitter’s ban on political advertising to limit microtargeting, it’s a complex topic. We all know about the newspapers’ various biases and the restrictive rules regulating politics on TV, but the standards for social media are still in flux. At TopLine Comms, we know a fair bit about media relations, and even we’re asking ourselves: is all fair in social media and politics?
Digital campaigning for a digital era
Everybody knows that print has declined in favour of digital, but social media is forecast to overtake print in terms of global ad spend for the first time this year. Social media ranks third overall in terms of political advertising, according to the research, behind paid search and TV. This makes sense, as social media offers a powerful ‘owned’ and ‘paid’ channel that is entirely – or almost entirely – in the hands of the parties themselves. This directness is perfect for the fast-moving world of politics and news.
Engaging young voters
The shakeup of media channels is particularly relevant for millennial voters. Millennials make up an estimated 17 million votes in the UK, or just over a third of voters. Youth turnout was its highest in the 2017 elections – the year dubbed the ‘youthquake’. Social media has allowed parties to engage with these digital natives, but this isn’t simply a matter of choosing the right channel, it’s also about culture. These politically essential generations have grown up alongside the internet, they understand the distinct culture and tone of online communication. Politicians who can communicate with them on their terms have an advantage.
Allowing voters a glimpse into their personal feeds allows politicians to present themselves as individuals, and make a more human connection with voters. Similarly, the nature of social media prescribes that content must be accessible and not overly complicated or convoluted. The level playing field that this provides means that ordinary people can now tweet their MP, or even party leader, and they may even get a response. The previous barriers to direct communication have been removed, and access has become democratised.
Trust – the all important factor
Authenticity and credibility are critical in both social media and politics and combining the two only exacerbates these issues. Add to this the previously mentioned Cambridge Analytica scandal, and it becomes clear that trust is the single largest hurdle facing online campaigns. The scandal manifested widespread concerns about personal data and had a major impact on how voters perceive campaigns’ online presences. Both platforms and parties are working to repair this trust, but without more stringent measures in place to verify content, trust remains a challenge.
Usage and bias
Usage and bias are two major challenges to social media’s role in politics. In 2018, Statista reported that globally, people spend an average of 136 minutes on social media every day. Unlike other channels, such as broadcast and print, we have a more limited ability to filter out messages, meaning that there’s an omnipresent subtext that can be taken advantage of. Second, as an owned channel, social media presents a forum for a dominant ideology to exist, potentially unchallenged, and unbalanced.
Politics and personalities
As political campaigning on social channels continues to grow, we must ask how much our political system and the views of voters have been impacted. Everybody risks falling into algorithmically constructed echo chambers, where their own views are reinforced, and discourse becomes more difficult. Add to this the increasing role of the personal profiles of party leaders, and our system may be at risk of becoming more like that of our neighbours across the pond.
Where does that leave us?
Social media, for better or worse, makes up a crucial part of our lives and our modern society. Given its incredible reach and power, messaging on social media needs to be accurate and accessible to everybody. Regulators must continue to make a concerted effort to create smart, stringent guidelines and enforce them effectively to make sure that these powerful tools are used in a fair, legally compliant way.
As we as consumers become increasingly savvy – and jaded – about social media, campaigns, legislators, platforms, and users must ask themselves serious questions: How can we create a trustworthy, balanced space? Is it even possible to achieve balance with so many competing voices, some arguing in bad faith? What will campaigns look like in 2040? These are questions for the long term, but one thing that we can all do is go out and vote tomorrow.What do the best B2B Facebook ads have in common?
Facebook can sometimes feel like a forgotten platform when it comes to B2B marketing. It’s often seen as a playground exclusive to consumer-facing companies but B2B companies are increasingly taking note. Facebook has a solid user base and decent data analytics to dive into, making it a platform worthwhile for any B2B marketer’s digital strategy. Some of the best B2B Facebook ads can produce worthwhile leads and results.
However, any B2B company looking at Facebook wants to make sure that their ad is one of the best B2B Facebook ads. Here are our recommendations to make sure your ad does its job.
Have little or no text on the image
Facebook will not show your ad if the image has too much text overlaying the image. Facebook says that ads perform better if text takes up less than 20% of the image, so use that as the basic ratio guide.
Be bold but simple
Make your ad stand out from the rest by thinking about what colours to use – do you want to blend in with the Facebook blue/grey colour palette or stand out? The last thing you want to do is confuse your audience, so keep your ad simple and to the point so that they know exactly what you have to offer them.
Have a call to action
Your call to action – the ending message that you’re sending your viewers so that they know what you would like them to do next – compliments the point above. Make your offering clear, so your audience knows exactly what they’re going to get by clicking on your ad.
Keep your branding consistent
It’s important to be consistent with companies’ branding, no matter what platform you’re using. You want people to remember your brand and the great ads that you run. Include your logo, font and colour scheme wherever possible.
Don’t use stock imagery
This looks like you haven’t put much thought into your ads – take images yourself – this is great for sticking to your branding too!
This doesn’t mean stick any video in your ad, videos must be filmed on a proper camera and be relevant to what is being advertised. And remember that you need to get viewers engaged from the start – your video should only be 30 seconds long
Think about the destination
Your ad doesn’t stop at the design – you need to make sure the destination that they’re clicking through is also up to scratch. Make sure you take your audience to a bold and tidy landing page that outlines exactly what is being offered to them and use the same wording and imagery from the Facebook ad where possible.
Do you want to get peoples’ email addresses? If so, don’t forget to include a form! Make sure the form includes all information above the page fold, don’t ask for too much from your audience and keep word count low – don’t bore your potential customer/client before they’ve even had a chance to fill in the contact form. Include a clear call to action, remove menu options so they can’t easily navigate away from the landing page and include your own contact details on the page, too.
B2B Facebook ads can be done. Overall, the best B2B Facebook ads are clear and concise with strong branding and simple to navigate calls to action.
Your business is most likely already on LinkedIn – and has been for years. The standard B2B LinkedIn marketing strategy typically involves begging employees to share a company post on their personal feeds or haphazardly liking various industry experts’ comments. Fortunately, the rise of video content – among other elements – has made life on LinkedIn a little more exciting.
B2B marketers can now make use of LinkedIn’s native video as well as video for sponsored content to deliver visually compelling stories to as many relevant viewers as possible. The potential for engagement is much higher and this translates into measurable results – namely, business leads and new customers.
Sounds amazing – and it is. But how do you do it? Social video production is not something you do on a whim from your iPhone. Nor is creating your company profile a quick copy and paste from your website. Like everything else in your B2B marketing arsenal, your LinkedIn marketing strategy needs to be well, strategic. This involves setting up your company page, aligning your content schedule with your business objectives, producing the content, posting it, monitoring it and measuring it.
It’s hard work – trust us, we know. As a rather good digital strategy agency, we also know that when B2B marketing efforts use LinkedIn successfully, the results are fantastic. Current stats show that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. So, here are few all-important steps to getting your LinkedIn marketing strategy off the ground.
Create your company page (or tidy up the one you have)
LinkedIn makes creating your own company page a pretty straightforward process. The tricky part is the content. You need to write an interesting profile that sets you apart from all other businesses. This description needs to be supported by a photo and your company logo. Obviously, it all needs to look clean and professional; no spelling mistakes and no blurry edges.
It also needs to genuinely reflect your company’s brand – and what you want to be known for. If being a great place to work is an important company value, then make sure this comes across well in your words and images. That said, please don’t use photos from your office end of year function taken during last rounds at the bar.
Produce compelling, consistent content
The content you produce and use across all your marketing channels, including LinkedIn, has to be good. It also has to follow an approved schedule that supports your bigger marketing goals. It’s not so much about having the most engaging LinkedIn company page as it is about generating new leads. We get that. Of course, part of achieving that is giving your network what they want; content that solves their issues, offers advice and every now and then, provides some much-needed entertainment. Video can tick all those boxes.
Here’s where things get fun, or confusing. Do you want live action video? Animation? A combination? Maybe a little bit of virtual reality? The style of video you choose has a direct impact on the message you’re delivering and who you’re delivering it to.
Essentially, your content – video or other – has to be consistent with your company brand and tone of voice. It needs to be on-message, attract audiences, get shared and generate interest that comes knocking on your website’s door.
Choose your advertising media
Once you have your carefully crafted content, you need to distribute it. When it comes to video, LinkedIn offers a range of cool B2B targeting tools. These enable you to design and deliver your video to relevant viewers segmented by job title, seniority, company name, industry, skills and so on. Even organic or native video needs to be created thoughtfully and not just posted for the sake of a cool spontaneous moment.
It’s well worth integrating your content amplification strategy to get better business results. In other words, don’t choose between an organic (non-paid) or paid approach. Use both. Sponsored content and pay-per-click text ads can help boost brand awareness and drive traffic to your website. The greater your organic reach, the more it can amplify your paid effort – and the more strategic your paid effort, the more it can expand your organic reach.
What’s more, don’t just focus on pushing your content from your company page. Inmail campaigns are personalised so they’re a great way to target a specific audience. Whichever combination of elements you choose, make sure that your ads and sponsored content all have a clear call-to-action. Don’t rely on your audience doing the right thing – tell them what you want them to do once they’ve viewed your ad.
Engage with people
Be active on LinkedIn. Join groups, participate in conversations, weigh in with relevant information when and where possible. Whatever you do though, don’t bombard LinkedIn groups with sales pitches. Not only will you get minimal, if any, feedback, you will have committed a rather embarrassing social (media) faux pas. People want to have conversations with people – they don’t want to be sold to by a brand. So, pay attention to the trending topics and spot the ones that are relevant to your business. Use your knowledge to contribute positively to the LinkedIn community and people will reach out to you for more information.
And when they do, don’t sit back and merely observe, responsiveness is crucial. LinkedIn is, after all, a social platform – even if it is a primarily focused on the business of business. If someone shows interest in your company page or product, follow up and engage with them immediately!How to build a B2B Instagram marketing strategy
The top four social media sites currently used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. However, more and more businesses are adding Instagram to the mix to attract potential customers and raise their profile. It makes sense: Instagram has over 800 million monthly users.
Managing social media platforms is a daunting prospect for many organisations – especially those in the B2B space. Too many businesses feel compelled to post, tweet, blog etc. simply because everyone else is doing it. Many also view Instagram (the relatively new kid on the block) as more of a B2C platform. This is absolutely not the case; Instagram offers a great opportunity for B2B businesses to reach a wider audience.
The trick to successful marketing on Instagram, is to focus less on selling the benefits of your products and services – and more on building strong connections with relevant people like prospective customers and industry thought-leaders. It’s a platform that enables you to engage in conversations and communicate your values.
Consider for a second the power of hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to interact with followers and push a post further. Some great B2B examples are #smallbusiness with an impressive 12,246,573, #entrepreneurship with 7,527,393 posts, and #datacenter with 54,863 posts.
As a content marketing agency that has successfully used social media to generate B2B leads for our clients, we know Instagram presents a powerful marketing opportunity. But it needs to be done right.
So, before you rush off and set up your Instagram account, give some thought to your Instagram marketing strategy. These top tips should help.
Identify the opportunity
Does Instagram offer your business a lead-gen opportunity? Or, is it an opportunity to show potential employees what it’s like to work for you? Some research into Instagram’s user base shows that 68% of Instagram users are women, 80% follow a business, 32% of all Internet users are on Instagram and 59% of them are 18-29 year-olds. Get to know Instagram really well and then identify exactly what you want your account to do for your business.
Align your goals
Your Instagram marketing strategy is not a standalone activity. It needs to align with your overall marketing goals – and support your other efforts. Every piece of content you create for Instagram needs to appeal to your defined customer base. Make sure you include key search words and phrases where possible and have a set schedule of topics or events to showcase. Of course, leave some room for flexibility!
Use real content
It’s time to get personal. Instagram favours authentic images so say goodbye to stock photography and staged promotional shoots. Users want to relate to your company’s culture and see a humanness behind the brand name and product offers. This can be a challenge for B2B businesses that equate professionalism with impersonal, unfeeling content.
Consistency is key with Instagram, you want you page to look neat and aesthetically pleasing – how do you want your audience to see your company? Reflect this in your posts.
Your audience wants to know about the real people working for and with you – and a get a glimpse of some of the everyday stories. Be honest and you’ll build a far greater rapport with your followers.
Paid ads vs. organic
When it comes to using Instagram for marketing, you can push your posts organically – and/ or using paid ads. The benefit of paid ads is that they are very successful at targeting specific audiences at volume. However, before you go this route, make sure you know exactly what your marketing objectives are. Identify who you’re targeting and aim your product and service accordingly. Keep the ads short with punchy calls-to-action. These are much easier to digest and more likely to get clicks.
An organic Instagram marketing strategy requires a bit more effort and patience. You need to engage with people and post consistently. A schedule will help you remember, and ensure that you don’t post too little or too much. Use hashtags to build your following. Do this by jumping on community hashtags to get more impressions and by creating your own branded hashtag. Interact with your followers and people you’re interested in. Another good idea is to run contests. This way you can entice more people to follow you and gauge real interest.
Just like any other social media channel, you need to get involved in Instagram’s wider circle. It only works as a successful marketing platform if you respond and engage with your targeted audience. Your content needs to be relevant, provoking and on-message. Get this right, and you’ll not only attract the right followers, you’ll generate new leads and see real business results.
If you need some help with your B2B Instagram marketing strategy, get in touch. The TopLine team can sort out your social media content, distribution, strategy and management.What is Guest Blogging?
Guest blogging involves creation of content for contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts.
It’s a technique used by black hat SEO agencies to build followed links. They often post one article on numerous, unrelated sites, to secure followed links for their clients.
However, it’s also a tactic employed by PR folk designed to secure their clients coverage in well-respected target media.
Naughty, largely redundant, black hat SEO agencies have given guest blogging a bad name, with Google recently seeing fit to republish guidance on the practice.
Get your B2B SEO strategy right first time. Download our free eBook now.
However, it does not mean all guest blogging is bad. From the same Google post: “Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”
Public relations folks and modern B2B SEO agency outreach teams have naturally been building great followed links with targeted thought leadership for years.
Here are a few examples of links we’ve achieved for clients as a result of PR campaigns designed to “bring awareness”:
3) http://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Recruiting-for-cyber-security-what-businesses-need-to-know (DA 84)
In each instance the author is sharing interesting opinion in order to inform and educate the site’s target audience.
This is classic PR. All about building credibility. Each online article has a followed link back to the author’s company website. A followed link on a site with a very high domain authority. A followed link on a site semantically relevant to the author’s company.
Remember, Google says: “Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience?” If it doesn’t then Google uses this information to formulate an opionion on the likelihood of the guest blog being spam before deciding on the appropriate level of Penguin penalty.
Get your B2B SEO strategy right first time. Download our free eBook now.
However, the opposite could also be argued to be true. If the author is making a valuable contribution to a specific community then Google rewards the associated site.
Here’s a quick guest blogging checklist – if you answer yes to the following questions then your ‘guest blog’ is so much more than that and won’t result in Google penalising you or the destination site:
- Is the blog well written?
- Is it free of spelling and grammar mistakes?
- Does it contain interesting information that the intended audience will find useful?
- Is it authored to an authoritative spokesperson? Someone with knowledge on the subject?
- Is it an appropriate length?
- Is the content unique?
- If the content isn’t unique then have you used rel=”canonical” to reference the original article?
- Is it free from spammy keyword-rich links?
- If there are dubious links then have you used rel=”nofollow” on them?
- Is it of a similar quality to other articles on the destination site?
- Has the destination site actually requested the article? (i.e. Has the subject been pitched to the site prior to draft?)
Whether you’re producing blogs, byliners, features, opinion pieces… whatever you want to call them, if they contain valuable content, if they’re exclusive to one site (to be honest any self-respecting website will want exclusive material anyway) and if they’re well written and engaging, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them or followed links they might naturally generate. In fact, these are some of the most valuable links your brand will likely ever build and they make a huge difference to keyword rankings, organic traffic and inbound leads.
|31.49%||Google+ usership in the US||Feb-12||US|
|13.69%||Google+ usership in India||Feb-12||India|
|5.43%||Google+ usership in Brazil||Feb-12||Brazil|
|3.88%||Google+ usership in the UK||Feb-12||UK|
|2.46%||Google+ usership in Canada||Feb-12||Canada|
|2.20%||Google+ usership in Germany||Feb-12||Germany|
|1.82%||Google+ usership in Indonesia||Feb-12||Indonesia|
|1.77%||Google+ usership in Mexico||Feb-12||Mexico|
|1.76%||Google+ usership in Italy||Feb-12||Italy|
|1.70%||Google+ usership in Spain||Feb-12||Spain|
|20.01%||of users are students||Feb-12||Global|
|2.65%||of users are software engineers||Feb-12||Global|
|1.99%||of users are consultants||Feb-12||Global|
|1.72%||of users are managers||Feb-12||Global|
|1.59%||of users are photographers||Feb-12||Global|
|42.06%||of users are single||Feb-12||Global|
|27.39%||of users are married||Feb-12||Global|
|19.29%||of users are in a relationshio||Feb-12||Global|
|4.39%||of users are engaged||Feb-12||Global|
|67%||of users are female||Feb-12||Global|
|32%||of users are male||Feb-12||Global|
|More than 5 billion times a day%||The number of times the Google +1 button is served||Feb-12||Global|
|Two thirds||of Google+ users are men||Feb-12||Global|
|3.86%||of all Google plus users are in Bangalore, having the most Google+ users of any city||Feb-12||India|
|14.70%||of all Google plus users are in India||Feb’12||India|
|31.50%||of all Google plus users are in the US||Feb-12||US|
|250 million||estimated registered users on Google+ by the end of 2012.||2012||Global|
|1 million||business pages on Google+||2012||Global|
|80%||of Google+ users log in weekly||2012||Global|
|60%||of Google+ users log in daily||2012||Global|
|90 million||Google+ users||2012||Global|
|69.10%||of Google+ users are male||Feb-12||Global|
|29.70%||of Google+ users are female||Feb-12||Global|
|1,831,941||people follow Britney Spears on Google+||Feb-12||Global|
|Over 60%||of Google+ members use Google products on a daily basis.||Jan-12||Global|
|Over 80%||of Google+ members use Google products on a weekly basis.||Jan-12||Global|
|200 million||page views on Google+||Dec-11||Global|
|50 million||visits to Google+||Dec-11||Global|
|20 million||unique visitors to Google+||Dec-11||Global|
|50 million||Google+ users||late Sep-11||Global|
|$585 million||The amount of money it took to build Google+||Sep-11||Global|
|500 employees||worked to build Google+||Sep-11||Global|
|67%||of Google+ users are male||Sep-11||Global|
|32%||of Google+ users are female||Sep-11||Global|
|1%||of Google+ members describe their gender as ‘other’||Sep-11||Global|
|20/09/2011||Google+ opens to everyone||Sep-11||Global|
|13%||of US adults on Google+||Aug-11||US|
|38.37%||of all Google+ visits are by those in the 25-34 age bracket.||Jul-11||Global|
|42nd||Google+’s ranking in the most visited sites in the US.||Jul-11||Global|
|37%||of Google+’s upstream market came from search engines.||Jul-11||Global|
|821%||growth rate between its launch on June 28 and July 2||Jun-11||Global|