A Complete Guide to Social Media Customer Service by @anna_bredava

ADVERTISEMENT

Social media was created with the idea of dialogue in mind, so it’s not surprising that more and more users choose it as the main channel of communication with brands.

According to a study by J.D. Power, 67 percent of consumers have used a company’s social media site for servicing; therefore, having a social customer support strategy is not just a matter of preference, it’s a must.

Successful businesses meet their customers where they are, and there is a very high chance that they are on social media, trying to contact your company.

Nevertheless, social media customer care is oftentimes overlooked and neglected.

Many businesses leave handling complaints on social media to social media managers, which may lead to throwing a client in the “I’ll-pass-you-to-our-customer-service” hell cycle.

There’s nothing inherently bad in letting your social media team manage customer service on social, but they will need some training to be able to manage customer care issues correctly.

The important caveat that makes social customer support stand out is that it is never just that.

Many times it’s happening in the public eye, therefore, your social customer service strategy affects your brand image more than ever.

In that sense, social customer service gives you opportunities for community building and raising brand awareness. And it would be a mistake to miss out on it!

When the former football star and the hero of ‘Gleason’ documentary Steve Gleason called out Southwest Airlines on the lack of training in dealing with people with disabilities, they responded immediately. Gleason’s followers took notice of their reply.

The process of setting up social support channels involves two stages: preparation and the workflow itself.

In this article, we’ll go through all the steps of building a social customer service strategy from scratch and answer the frequently asked questions about social customer support.

Step 1: Analyze the Past Experience

Any great strategy starts with research. Analyzing your current customer care activity can help you identify pain points, “rush hours,” and your clients’ demands and expectations.

Moreover, your social media team can also give you valuable insights: do you already have established communication channels with your audience that are used for support issues (Instagram DMs, Twitter)?

Is there a need for a separate social media community designated to customer care? These and other questions can only be answered by the people who manage social media for your brand.

Step 2: Determine the Channel & the Team

Decide if you want to involve a person from your customer support team or a social media manager.

The answer will depend on the training process: will it be easier and faster to train your social media manager to handle customer service issues or vice versa?

Enterprise-level companies typically have a designated social support team which often works from a separate social media handle: for instance, @SpotifyCares or Apple Support.

However, for a smaller business, it might not be the strategy that makes sense.

Unless you’re constantly getting an influx of queries from customers on social media, I don’t recommend setting up separate profiles for customer care. Multiple profiles can be confusing to customers; besides, using your main profile to engage with customers helps raise brand awareness.

A great alternative would be creating a place for a community to interact with a brand and each other (for instance, a Facebook or a LinkedIn group) and checking up on it regularly.

Facebook Group

Facebook Group

Step 3: Create Guidelines

Once you have the team and insights in place, it’s time to create customer service guidelines (i.e., the rules that will guide your social customer support specialist(s)).

Here are some of the questions that you might want to address:

  • What is your desired response time?
  • What tone of voice should you take?
  • What constitutes a social media crisis and when should managers be alerted?
  • Will you respond to positive feedback and how (liking, commenting, reposting)?

You can even go further and create a template with answers to common queries — or borrow them from your customer support team. Just make sure that the tone of the response is consistent with your brand image.

Fashion Nova took on a playful and informal manner of communication.

Step 4: Choose What to Automate

It can be quite challenging to stay on top of all the social inquiries and respond to them in due time. That’s why many social support reps use tools and bots.

There are two major issues that automation can tackle:

Making Sure You Respond to Every Mention

Negative reviews and customer care issues can be scattered all over social media, from Twitter to various subreddits.

Sometimes, they are not directed at your brand, but even when they are, people might misspell your social media handle or simply forget to tag you.

Even though this customer tried to tag Tesco, they misspelled the brand name, so Tesco never saw her tweet.

In fact, research shows that only 3 percent of brand mentions actually use a Twitter handle, opting for the company or product name instead.

Monitoring your brand name and including misspellings can help you with that. You can use Tweetdeck and Google Alerts or a social listening tool like Mention, Hootsuite, or Awario (disclosure: I work at Awario).

These tools will organize all the mentions of your brand across multiple social networks in an easy-to-navigate feed, so you can take care of them one by one.

Respond to Mentions Quickly

According to Conversocial’s report ‘The State of Digital Care in 2018’, one-third of customers expect brands to respond in less than 30 minutes.

Salesforce also reported that 80 percent of consumers felt that an instant reply to their queries had a moderate to major influence on their loyalty to the brand.

Obviously, it’s not possible for a human to stay alert 24/7. You can use a social listening tool to get mentions from several platforms in one feed in real time, but there are still weekends and after-work hours.

Luckily, there are robots which don’t need to sleep and can work all the time!

Facebook already offers automated responses for when you’re out of the office: they notify your customers when you’ll be back online.

Moreover, you can automate any part of your communication – Facebook comments, Facebook mentions, Twitter mentions, DMs on Twitter and Instagram – with the help of bots.

There are a lot of ways to automate your communication: go with an integration tool like IFTTT or Zapier, choose a tool that specializes in one platform, or create your own bot.

However, don’t automate beyond what’s absolutely necessary: customers are not always happy to get a message from a robot.

Step 5: Analyze Complaints

This step is sometimes omitted from brands’ social service strategies, even though it is extremely important. Understanding where customer dissatisfaction comes from enables you to improve your product.

For example, Samsung uses social listening not only to directly assist their customers but also to monitor all the new product launches to identify weak points.

“When we first launched the S8, I was asked in a meeting whether the red tint on the display was a ‘thing’. I typed in “Samsung red tint” [on Crimson Hexagon’s platform] and confirmed that yes it was, and we were soon able to deploy a software update that got rid of it.” says Amy Vetter, Senior European Digital Insights Manager at Samsung.

Social Customer Support: Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Answer ALL the Mentions?

That depends on your brand! If you work for a huge company, it’s an unrealistic goal to reply to every single mention of your brand.

However, if you’re a smaller brand, responding even to positive mentions can raise your visibility and help with community building.

The customer didn’t have a support query, however, HelloFresh still responded.

Besides, customers that receive responses from brands on Twitter are willing to spend up to 20 percent more and are 30 percent more likely to recommend the brand.

Here’s the standard workflow for replying to customers:

  • Reply to DMs.
  • Reply to negative mentions (assuming you use a social listening tool to analyze sentiment).
  • Reply to inquiries about the company/product.
  • Reply to other mentions (compliments, showing off the product, etc.).
  • Check the community platform (a Facebook/LinkedIn group or a subreddit).
  • Repeat.

When Should I Ask Customers to PM/DM Me?

Not every conversation on social media has to be public: a lot of customer support interaction happens in private messages of a brand’s social media accounts.

However, it’s always better to minimize the hustle for your customer, so changing the communication channel should be both necessary and easy.

Pivoting to private messages works best when you need customer’s personal information (email, order number) or a thorough explanation of the issue they are experiencing to assist them.

Make sure you notify a customer publicly after sending them a private message. This will also show anyone else who stumbles upon the conversation that you didn’t just ignore the request. A simple “we sent you a message with more details, please check” will do.

Note that you should put all the effort into avoiding changing the platform completely: it’s social support after all, so you should be able to help your customer on social media.

When customers use social media to complain, it’s often because a company has already failed to assist them through conventional customer service channels, so directing them back to email will only annoy them even more.

Should I Introduce Myself?

Nobody likes talking to an anonymous brand or Twitter handle.

According to the report from Salesforce, 69 percent of respondents pointed out the importance of personalized customer care, and how can you be personal without introducing yourself?

Admittedly, replying to every message and mention you get with “Hi, I’m Jared!” might get a little bit annoying. A good tactic is to add your initials or a first name at the end of a message.

Should I Follow Up?

This might seem like a redundant question, but I wanted to remind you once again: always follow up if the problem isn’t completely solved.

When you can’t assist a customer right away, the best practice is to set a deadline for following up with updates, depending on the urgency of the problem.

It’s also a good idea to follow up if a customer didn’t respond initially: some brands will move on after sending one reply. However, in the rapid stream of social media it’s quite easy to miss one notification, so it’s better to message them once again.

A Complete Guide to Social Media Customer Service

A Complete Guide to Social Media Customer Service

Conclusion

Social media has become one of the most popular platforms for customer care – whether you like it or not.

To make your customers happy and get additional bonuses of raising brand awareness, you need to quickly respond to all the mentions and messages you get in a manner that complies with your branding.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, March 2019

Five proven content formats to maximize link acquisition with digital PR

content formats proven to maximize link acquisition for digital pr

When it comes to link building using digital PR, it’s important that you start with the story.

A great story can be told in many different ways. However, you’ll struggle to gain traction when there’s either a lack of it or a poor story regardless of what format you choose.

That means, almost ignoring the end format of your asset (infographic, interactive, and the others) until you’ve got a solid concept with strong headlines.

That said, there’s a lot to be said for spending the time to let yourself be inspired and to understand which formats are working for other brands.

Here, I’ll showcase five proven formats which help maximize link acquisition in a digital PR campaign, placing a focus upon specific campaign types as opposed to simply the visual delivery.

I’ll look at why each format is often successful at earning links and share campaign examples (to note; these aren’t all campaigns which I’ve been involved in, but ones which I love and have been inspired myself by).

(To note: All linking root domain statistics have been taken from ahrefs using the “Historical” figure. Correct as of 13th February 2019.)

1. Maps

Maps are a great format to use when running a digital PR campaign for two main reasons:

  • Due to the nature of the format, they make it possible to take campaigns out to multiple regions; thus hooking in angles to journalists at publications who focus on a specific geographical region as well as either national or international ones.
  • They’re a simple but effective way to display data or simple stats and are generally easy to embed by publishers.

When choosing a map as the most suitable format for your campaign, you need to be thinking of simplicity to avoid a design which looks too busy and need to have a comparable thing to compare either across regions or countries.

Whether you opt for a map which showcases regional differences across a country (think city vs city or state vs state), within a continent (think European countries or cities compared) or global; you need to ensure that the data is available as the format can fall down with too many gaps.

Ready to be inspired? Here’s three totally different, but equally great, map-based campaigns:

Veygo – The world’s most desired motors

The world's most desired motors

Linking Root Domains: 114

Credit Card Compare – The literal translation of country names

Map examples of Credit Card Compare's literal translation of country names

Linking Root Domains: 277

Expedia – Mythical creatures and where to find them

Map of Expedia on Mythical creatures and where to find them

Linking Root Domains: 90

2. Calculators & tools

Calculators and tools are a fantastic way to earn links. Why? For the simple reason that a link becomes a vital part of a journalist’s story. It’d make no sense for them to mention a new tool or calculator (which users can interact with) without linking out to it. It’s common user experience but the main consideration here is that the link adds value to the article. It helps the user to navigate to an asset which they’re being told to try out.

It’s only human nature that we want to find things out and working an element of personalization into a campaign is a great way to drive engagement and help to create a connection with a campaign.

Think about it this way, if you saw an article which mentioned a calculator which could showcase how quickly Kim Kardashian would earn your annual salary (hint: She earns the average annual UK Salary in 6 and a half hours), you’d want to try it out? Wouldn’t you?

Similarly, what if you heard about a tool which allowed you to enter your Instagram handle and be told how much you could be earning from brand collaborations?

Take a look at three very different examples of calculator-led campaigns to feel inspired and start to think of what you could create:

Missy Empire – You vs The Kardashians

Use of calculators by Missy Empire

Linking Root Domains: 219

Inkifi – How much are your Instagram posts worth?

Example of how Inkifi uses calculators to engage audiences

Linking Root Domains: 347

Totally Money – How much is your unpaid overtime worth?

Example of how Totally Money uses calculators to engage audiences

Linking Root Domains: 41

3. Indexes

We love to compare both ourselves and our lifestyles to others and that’s why an index format works so well for content campaigns.

Often used to compare cities or countries, but also seen comparing the popularity of brands, products or similar, indexes are a format which rarely struggles to earn links when backed by strong data.

Think about it this way; if you’re looking at running a campaign which looks at revealing “the best cities in the world for foodie tourists” you’ve got the opportunity to pitch this out to niche food and travel publications and blogs, regional publications (how the local city ranks on the list), national publications (where cities from the country rank), and global publications (to showcase the overall findings).

There are literally so many ways to hook into different sectors of the press with an index-led format and the data behind often reveals some interesting stories. Just be sure your sources are credible.

The challenge with this format is typically what to rank but the beauty is that they can be presented in so many different ways depending on the budget and resources.

Working to a low budget? Show the data and ranking as a table on a blog post. Have a little more resources? Why not design as an infographic? Looking for something even more stunning? Develop an interactive asset where data columns of the index are sortable.

Here are three great examples of campaigns which use this format.

Movehub – The hipster index

Example of Movehub's hipster index

Linking Root Domains: 271

Nestpick – The 2018 millennial cities index

Example of Nestpick's 2018 millennial cities index

Linking Root Domains: 330

Zalando – The world’s most elegant cities

Example of Zalando's most elegant cities

Linking Root Domains: 162

4. Social stat rankings

If you’re looking for a simple but effective campaign format; have you considered conducting a study into the social stats behind a concept?

From the most hashtagged sneakers to the most Instagrammed beaches, there’s plenty of fantastic examples of campaigns of this nature which have earned significant volumes of links yet have been able to be executed in a resource-friendly way.

At the most basic level, to launch a campaign utilizing social statistics, you simply need to find something comparable and collect the hashtag data. There’s also the potential to replicate a similar format utilizing follower-counts of celebrities in a sector or the like.

Are you ready to feel inspired? Here are a few of my favorite social stat campaigns from the past 12 months.

Forward2me – The world’s most Instagrammed sneakers

Forward2me's world's most Instagrammed sneakers campaign

Linking Root Domains: 120

MyVoucherCodes – Dogs of Instagram

MyVoucherCodes' Dogs of Instagram campaign

Linking Root Domains: 42

TravelSupermarket – The best beaches in the world according to Instagram

TravelSupermarket's best beaches in the world campaign

Linking Root Domains: 41

5. Brainteasers

Have you started to notice a trend here?

The campaign examples which I’ve shared aren’t all highly complex data studies or interactive assets and this may come as a surprise.

It’s important to understand when launching a content marketing campaign that simplicity is often the key to success and this last format certainly falls into that category.

Brainteasers have been used by marketers over the past couple of years, often to great success due to their shareable nature and the challenge which they present to users.

So long as you’ve got a great design resource and an imagination, the opportunities are endless with this format and are always fun to work on as well.

Here are a few examples to get your creativity flowing.

Lenstore – Can you spot it?

Lenstore's can you spot it brainteaser campaign

Linking Root Domains: 126

Bloom & Wild – Can you spot the Christmas robin?

Bloom & Wild's Christmas robin brainteaser campaign

Linking Root Domains: 26

Takeaway

When it comes to launching a digital PR campaign where the focus is on earning links, the story always needs to be the priority. However, by taking the time to understand what formats are working for others, you can start to think about ideas in a different way.

If a format is working, it makes sense to learn from this and understand why the stories which go alongside such campaigns resonate so well with publishers.

It’s all about understanding why some formats perform better than others when it comes to earning links and what it is that makes them attractive to publishers. Hopefully the above has given some inspiration for your own campaigns and left you thinking up ideas for what you could launch yourself.

James Brockbank is the Managing Director of Digitaloft, a multi-award winning SEO, PPC & Content Marketing agency. He can be found on Twitter .

Related reading

mojeek: alternative to google
Eight shortcuts for finding long tail keywords and how to use them
youtube and child safety: is the service doing enough?
How to dominate Google News search in 2019

Google+ Public Posts to be Preserved by the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine by @MattGSouthern

ADVERTISEMENT

Google+ will be shut down in a matter of weeks, but its archive of public posts may live on indefinitely.

Internet Archive recently announced plans to save public Google+ content at the Wayback Machine. In fact, the archiving has already begun.

There are a few things Google+ users can do to assist the Internet Archive with this effort.

For the most part, users don’t have to do anything. If you want your public Google+ content preserved, then chances are it will be.

However, Internet Archive advises users not to delete their Google+ content or profile. If it’s deleted it cannot be saved.

Limitations to Archiving Google+ Content

Internet Archive notes there are a few limitations to this project, which are as follows:

  • Only public content that is presently available on Google+ is being included.
  • Private posts and any previously deleted content will not be saved.
  • Full post comments may not be archived. Google+ allows up to 500 comments per post, but only presents a subset of these as static HTML.
  • Image and video content may not be preserved at full resolution. This will apply mostly to high-def image and video content.
  • Content archival is subject to the rate at which the project can proceed and any limitations imposed outside its control.

Internet Archive also lists a few things that people with technical skills can do to help if they wish to contribute on a volunteer basis.

As a result of the volunteers’ efforts thus far, most public Google+ content should be preserved:

“Most public Google+ content should live on at the Internet Archive thanks to a fanatical bunch of volunteers, and you can help.”

Anyone who is sad to see Google+ go next month can rest easy knowing that most of its history will be saved.

Backlinks vs social shares: How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

Backlinks vs social shares How to make your content rank for different SEO metrics

A new study by Kaizen has revealed that content that performs well for backlinks does not necessarily perform well for social shares and vice versa.

Analyzing over 2300 pieces of finance content, Kaizen has found the best performing pieces of content for URL rating, the number of referring domains, and the number of social shares. Nine out of the top 10 pieces of content with the highest URL ratings also featured in the top 10 pieces of content for the most referring domains.

Stats on top content by referring domains and URL ratings

This shows a clear correlation between the two. The higher the quantity of referring domains, the higher the quality of URL rating.

The best-performing piece of content for both URL rating and the number of referring domains was the Corruptions Perceptions Index 2017, by Transparency International. The campaign highlighted the countries that are or are not making progress in ending corruption, finding that the majority of countries were making little or no progress.

Screenshot example of Corruptions Perceptions Index - country wise

Screenshot of Corruptions Perceptions Index scale

But what made this campaign succeed so well in SEO terms?

1. It has global appeal

By placing emphasis on visual components of content, the campaign is easily understandable without language and is based on data from across the world, making it globally link-worthy.

2. It is emotional content

The piece evokes an emotional response from the element of corruption and the fact that the majority of countries in the world are making little or no progress in ending corruption.

3. It is evergreen content

Evergreen content” is content that is not tied to a specific date or time of the year and can be outreached (and can gain links) at any time. In addition, Transparency International is able to update the data each year, creating a new story for outreach and increasing its chances of landing links.

By combining these typical elements of viral content, the Corruption Index earned 6372 referring domains, and a URL rating of 84, making it the most successful piece of finance content in the study. Use these three aspects as a checklist for your own content, and it should emulate great results.

Social shares

The Corruption Perception Index also ranked in the top 10 pieces of content for social shares, with a grand total of nearly 48,000. However, it is only one of two pieces to rank in the top 10 for URL ratings or referring domains and social shares. There is much less correlation between social share success and backlink success, showing that they are not directly or significantly linked.

The most successful piece of content for social shares was this car insurance calculator by Confused.com, with 91,000 total social shares. This piece of content, as well as the majority of the top 10, is B2C-focused. In comparison, the URL rating and referring domains lists are more technical and B2B-focused.

Therefore, B2B content performs better for SEO strategies focused on backlinks, whereas B2C tools and guides suitable for customers rather than businesses perform better for social shares.

The Corruption Perception Index is an exception, performing well for both backlinks and social shares. However, by focusing on analytical data from experts and business people, and by providing relevant data for both businesses and customers, it has equal value for both B2B and B2C audiences.

In conclusion

Don’t expect the same piece of content to perform well for both backlinks and social shares. But, if you are able to create content that provides equal value for both B2B and B2C communities, you will have the opportunity for multiple outreach strategies, with resounding value throughout the industry.

Nathan Abbott is Content Manager at Kaizen.

Related reading

four tools to structure articles for SEO
link reclamation: a practical guide to turning unlinked brand mentions into links

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn by @hoffman8

ADVERTISEMENT

LinkedIn is a huge professional networking site.

In fact, it is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 610 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

I tend to use LinkedIn as a virtual Rolodex and I try to connect with all of the individuals that I work with, so that I always have an updated means of contacting them.

However, like any social network, LinkedIn has weaknesses.

For one, because of the size and the number of users, my feed doesn’t always feel personal and the content isn’t always hyper-relevant.

Worse yet, I get DMs by the dozen from people trying to sell me things. The ratio of quality connections to spammers seems to be sliding in the wrong direction lately.

Although I can’t see myself leaving LinkedIn – and I’m not suggesting you should, either – there are a number of other sites and platforms that can add supplemental value.

Here are 13 professional networking alternatives to LinkedIn.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com

Meetup is a cool platform that allows you to seek out (or create!) local meetups. When you register, you mark your interests.

Meetup will then notify you of any local meetups that you might be interested in, as they are created. The meetups span a wide variety of topics from professional topics to hobbies and everything between.

If you don’t find one that you’re interested in, or one that works with your schedule, you can set one up and Meetup will notify anyone that has identified your topic as something that is of interest to them.

It’s a great way to bring like-minded people together, locally.

Xing

Xing

Xing is a professional network that is similar to LinkedIn.  After signing up, you can join groups with like-minded professionals to network and share ideas.

You can stay on top of the latest news in your industry and identify relevant seminars, conferences, and tradeshows.

You can post jobs, search jobs, and research companies. Xing is more prominent in Europe than in the U.S., but is used by people in over 200 countries.

It is free to use but you can unlock additional features with a premium membership, similar to LinkedIn.

Bark.com

Bark.com

Bark is designed to connect local professionals with people who are seeking their services.

Looking for a professional’s assistance? You can cut down on search time by using Bark.

Bark will reach out to professionals in your area and circle back with estimates. Even more valuable, you can set up your own profile and be paired with prospects that are seeking out the services that you offer.

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Opportunity is a networking site that prides itself on “professional matchmaking.” It strives to connect people based upon their needs.

For instance, users can be notified each time someone in their target market indicates that they need what the user offers.

Likewise, users can be notified of relevant employment opportunities. In addition, professionals can discover other professionals based upon the preferences they select (e.g., age, gender, interests, personality).

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Jobcase is pretty unique in that it has been powering over 100 popular job sites since 2009.

Because of that, Jobcase has access to a wealth of data about open roles and the companies that are currently hiring for roles that you might be interested in.

So how does it work?

With Jobcase, you can set up a profile and get access to a huge database of jobs. In addition, you can join groups, or peruse the community to participate in discussions.

Jobcase boasts over 80 million users, so there are plenty of discussions to join in on!

6. Lunchmeet

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn Lunchmeet is a mobile app. This is a valuable tool to identify local professionals with similar interests (similar to Meetup.com).

What makes Lunchmeet unique is that you use it to identify one other local professional to meet for coffee or lunch, as opposed to pulling in a crowd.

With Lunchmeet, you can set up your availability for an impromptu meeting and find other local professionals with availability during those time slots.

7. Community Forums

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

One of the easiest, and yet most overlooked, networking opportunities are in community forums.

Interested in Google Ads? Check out the Google Ads forum.

Bing Ads? Check out the Bing Ads forum.

Not so much interested in ads? The Google Webmaster Central Forum might be more your speed.

The forums are a great way to ask questions and to share your experience with others that are seeking input. The forums stay active and are frequented by many knowledgeable people.

8. Twitter Threads

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Believe it or not, some of the best industry networking that I’ve been privileged to stumble upon has come from some really great Twitter communities!

The especially great thing about these is that: they are public, they are free, they are active, and they can be really supportive.

New members are welcomed and people are encouraged to share their questions and struggles. Plus, it’s just fun to talk shop with others who get it.

I’ve made a lot of lasting connections on Twitter, which have led to a variety of career opportunities from speaking at industry events to client referrals and more.

Digital marketers can find relevant content on #PPCchat, #FBadsChat #SEOchat, #SEOtalk, #SEMrushChat, #HootChat, #SproutChat, #socialROI, and #contentwritingchat – just to name a few.

9. Reddit

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Although Reddit has a strong reputation for being the source of many-a-meme, it’s also so much more than that.

Reddit hosts a huge span of micro-communities, including r/PPC for paid search and r/SEO for, you guessed it, SEO.

Like Twitter, the communities are completely free to join and public to peruse. Simply visit https://www.reddit.com/r/SEO/ or https://www.reddit.com/r/PPC/ and you’ll see a list of topics.

You can reply to existing posts or create your own; just sign-up for a free Reddit account if you want to partake in the action.

Not interested in SEO or PPC? No problem.

Reddit has a huge list of topics. There’s something for everyone.

10. Slack

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Slack receives some mixed reviews and it’s no surprise why: there are several Slack communities that can add a lot of value.

On the other hand, it can also be really distracting. Nearly every other networking community in this list is browser-based (with the exception of Lunchmeet).

Slack is a messenger-based mobile app and desktop application, where each community has a mix of public threads and the option to DM anyone else in the community.

I’m a fan, because I’ve joined some great communities, met great people, and have even created working relationships all through Slack.

However, if you find yourself easily distracted by IMs and mobile/desktop notifications, Slack might not be the best option.

Note: it is possible to adjust your notifications in the settings to help mitigate the distraction.

If interested in finding a Slack community, a quick Google search for “’Insert Topic Here’ + Slack Community” usually turns up several options.

It’s also easy and free to create your own Slack community and invite your friends.

11. Facebook Groups

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, there are several Facebook groups dedicated toward sharing professional knowledge and experiences.

Although Facebook is often considered to be more of a personal social platform than LinkedIn, it can also be a great source for professional networking.

If interested in seeking out a community, just use Facebook’s search tool to find groups about the topic of interest.

There are several communities that cater to various aspects of digital marketing from tactical knowledge all the way to running a digital agency.

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

Sumry is a site that was built to make first impressions easier. It is a web app that builds online resumes and portfolios.

Sumry allows you to aggregate your certifications, skills, and work experience and it also allows you to include testimonials and your full timeline of work experience – similar to LinkedIn.

With the premium version, it also gives users a chance to introduce themselves before submitting an application.

Once you are ready to submit, Sumry makes it easy to apply with one-click with a link to your profile and a PDF of your resume.

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedIn

13 Professional Networking Alternatives to LinkedInGust is a community focused solely on startups, in fact, it claims to be the world’s largest startup network.

Gust is a global SaaS funding platform, for the sourcing and management of early-stage investments for startups. It enables entrepreneurs to collaborate with investors and angel investor networks.

Summary

LinkedIn is the largest professional networking in the world, but there are plenty of other networking options to help you make meaningful connections.

In fact, some of these alternatives may be more helpful than LinkedIn because they focus on creating more professional connections based on your location or niche.

More Resources:


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, March 2019

Facebook is Changing How it Measures Ad Relevance by @MattGSouthern

ADVERTISEMENT

Facebook is updating its ad reporting, replacing the single relevance score with three new relevance metrics.

There will also be changes to how Facebook calculates the potential reach of ads.

Lastly, some lesser used metrics are being removed from Facebook’s ad reporting.

Here’s a more detailed look at everything that was announced today.

Three new ways of reporting relevance

Facebook’s ad relevance score measures how effective an ad was at reaching its intended audience.

It used to be measured as a single metric. Soon it will be replaced with the following three new metrics:

  • Quality ranking: An ad’s perceived quality compared with ads competing for the same audience.
  • Engagement rate ranking: How an ad’s expected engagement rate compared with ads competing for the same audience.
  • Conversion rate ranking: How an ad’s expected conversion rate compared with ads that had the same optimization goal and competed for the same audience.

Facebook will begin introducing the above three “relevance diagnostics” over the coming weeks.

The previous relevance metric will be removed on April 30.

Changes to the ‘potential reach’ metric

Facebook is changing the way it estimates potential reach.

When estimating how many people are likely to see an ad, Facebook will only include those who were shown an ad in the last 30 days.

Previously, potential reach was estimated based on the number of total monthly active users on the network.

So it didn’t factor in whether some of those users may not have been able to view ads.

This change is being made in response to advertisers asking for estimates that more closely align with actual results.

Removal of lesser used metrics

In April, Facebook will remove the following ad metrics:

  • Offers Saved
  • Cost Per Offer Saved
  • Relevance Score
  • Messaging Replies
  • Cost per Messaging Reply
  • Mobile App Purchase ROAS
  • Web Purchase ROAS

The metrics listed above are being replaced with other metrics that are said to be more actionable.

“For example, we are introducing the posts saved metric so businesses can see how many people saved their ads. Offer ads will be counted in the new posts saved metric, so we’re removing the offers saved metric.”

These changes are rolling out gradually over the coming months.

Eight social media trends that will make 2019

eight social media trends 2019

If there’s one thing that is constant about social media, it’s change.

So many things influence the way we behave on social media: technology, social changes, economy, and politics. All of them are changing at a rapid speed, so you can imagine how volatile the social media world is.

This makes predicting trends for a year ahead quite difficult. However, there are tendencies that stick around and affect the industry in a major way for a long time. For example, influencer marketing has been winning the hearts of social media marketers and the pockets of consumers for a couple of years now, and the ephemeral content, even though it has been around for a while, got a significant boost with Instagram’s investments put into the Stories feature.

Considering these points, I present to you the eight social media trends of 2019. These are the tendencies that take their roots in the current cultural zeitgeist, technological development, and social platforms’ respective strategies, and are expected to take over social media this year.

1. Social listening

Social listening is not a new thing by any means, but the way we apply social listening is changing right now. In the past years, social listening was a way to manage brand mentions and reputations for big brands like Apple or Hilton. However, two things happened that altered the social media listening industry:

  1. Social media monitoring tools have become more evolved, with new sources of data, new features, etc being added constantly.
  2. The tools became affordable not just for huge corporations, but for mid-sized and small businesses, local businesses, and startups as well.

How did this affect social listening strategies? Well, nowadays, the new features and data sources allow going beyond basic brand monitoring. You can use social listening for social selling, SEO, and customer care to name a few.

If I’d have to point out one area where social listening could really change the current marketing landscape, I’d go with sales. Social selling is a unique tactic that gives you an opportunity to engage with people who are seeking services and products in your industry directly.

One tool in particular even added a specific feature dedicated to social selling called Awario Leads.

Example of social selling by Awario Leads

For now, this tactic is extremely underused, but we can expect to see more and more brands taking on social selling this year.

2. Buying on social

Social selling is one thing, but what if you could choose and order a product without even leaving the social media app?

Social selling on asos

To be fair, it’s not a new thing, Facebook already allows users to buy products from brands’ pages in their ‘Shop‘ section. They also have a Marketplace feature launched way back in 2007 which is an alternative to Craigslist, a platform where individuals can sell or exchange mostly second-hand items.

In 2019 we will see more social media companies opening up their platforms for ecommerce. It would be the next logical step for companies which already offer brands a wide range of features for advertising, like YouTube or Instagram. In fact, one of these might be already working in that direction.

Last September, The Verge reported that Instagram might be working on an ecommerce app. According to the article, the app will let users browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app.

Surely, the app is not an additional feature to Instagram but rather a stand-alone entity. However, this indicates Instagram’s understanding and interest in implementing e-commerce in their product (which is only natural considering that Facebook owns Instagram).

3. Transparency

Social media data has become essential to any marketing strategy, hence social listening is on this list. However, this past year proved just how little knowledge we as a society have of the scope and impact of social media data collected on a daily basis.

User based data on Facebook

Last year was marked by an array of privacy scandals, with Cambridge Analytica being the most prominent one. However, Facebook wasn’t the only one who suffered, Twitter, YouTube, and even Reddit reported at least one security breach last year.

However, let’s not diminish Facebook’s role in this regard, they seemed to have one PR nightmare after another. This probably prompted Mark Zuckerberg to make a special New Year’s resolution for 2019 to organize a series of public discussions dedicated to how Facebook influences society.

That will be only one of the initiatives dedicated to bringing more transparency into the world of social media companies. Data is one of the most important resources in social media marketing, and ethical collection, as well as unbiased evaluation of it, will be a major priority for companies this year.

Our century is marked by brands developing personalities for themselves and building relationships with their audiences. According to this study by Sprout Social, millennials are expecting more transparency from brands than politicians or friends and family. Gaining the trust of the audience will become the focus of social media platforms’ strategies.

4. Live streaming

Powered by social media algorithms, pivoting to video content has been a trend for a while now. This year, however, live streaming is the new black.

Social streaming favors in-the-moment content, another trend that has been taking over social media for a while with Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and, most recently, Facebook stories. According to this Facebook report, daily watch time for Facebook live broadcasts grew four times over the course of a year.

Facebook fact

You can use live streaming to present a new product, change the narrative during a PR crisis, or introduce a collaboration with an influencer.

What makes live streaming so special is the ability to create space for an actual dialogue with your customer in real time. Your viewers feel like they are in the middle of a natural conversation, and you’re speaking directly to them. It wins over highly produced video content because of its authenticity, the thing every marketer is trying to accomplish.

5. Private communities

2018 saw a trend of communication migrating to private channels.

More and more interactions occur in Facebook groups and private communities rather than on public pages, which is favored both by algorithms and people (unless these people are social media managers). Moreover, social media platforms keep adding new features to simplify the curation of private groups on top of integrating messaging features in their apps.

On Instagram, turning your growing Instagram account private creates a sense of exclusivity and urgency encourages people to follow, as described in this article by the Atlantic. Private groups and accounts make you feel like a part of an exclusive community, and who doesn’t want that?

The growth of private communities

Consider creating a private community for your brand, for example, a group on Facebook or LinkedIn. This will give your users an opportunity to not just communicate with you but also with each other, which contributes to building a strong community and encouraging brand advocacy.

6. Messaging

The most private communication channel is, of course, direct messaging. And for the last few years, brands have been engaging with customers through DMs and personal messages on social.

For now, brands are mostly using messaging apps and DMs for customer service purposes. But there’s untapped potential to create personalized, automated communication that’s even more effective than email.

This year, messaging will become a meaningful part of every social media strategy. Moreover, brands will finally embrace messenger automation. A study conducted by Relay revealed that out of 1000 trending B2B companies on Crunchbase, only 0.5 percent of the companies had a chatbot.

Statistics on businesses that have chat bots

Chatbots could make messenger marketing the new email marketing, the open rate for messages is much higher than for emails, and messaging itself is seen as a more casual and personal way of communication.

Chatbots aren’t perfect yet, and people still prefer to converse with a human. However, as chatbots become more sophisticated and use more natural language, they will become necessary. You need to figure out which part of your marketing strategy could benefit from them.

Integrating eCommerce functions could also be beneficial for messaging apps. This is not the new idea if we remember WeChat, but it hasn’t been explored yet in the Western part of the world.

7. Personalization

Chatbots and messaging can also be a part of a comprehensive personalization strategy. 2019 will be the year when personalization powered by AI takes over marketing.

Considering the vast amount of personal information currently available to social media companies, it has become extremely easy to obtain insights into all kinds of information about your customers. Content consumed, purchase history, clicked links, social media interactions, and even personal messages. All this and more can be used to create a laser-targeted marketing campaign just for you.

However, some consumers may feel uncomfortable with how personalization is currently implemented in marketing. Brands need to find the fine line between being helpful and outright creepy.

One way to do this would be combining personalization and other types of marketing: influencer marketing, personalizing your messaging communication (beyond using first names), and so on. Take an example from Airbnb, which uses information about your past and upcoming trips to craft personalized traveling recommendations.

8. Augmented reality (AR)

AR can be used in a plethora of ways, from creating filters dedicated to certain events to actually implementing your product in videos or photos to let customers try it on.

At its F8 developer conference last year, Facebook announced that it was testing AR ads. In your timeline, they look like ordinary Facebook Ads but with a ‘Tap to try it on’ button that lets you try products on virtually with the help of camera filters.

AR could be the solution for those who don’t like online shopping and prefer to test a product before buying. If social media platforms successfully implement this technology on a wide scale first, they will become an even more attractive platform for advertising compared to digital space.

What you need to do in 2019

As you can see, none of these trends are coming at you completely out of the blue, most of them are a logical development of social media platforms’ strategies or the way ordinary users behave on social media.

So this year, it’s time to become an early adopter and try something new, be it a social listening tool or a messenger bot. In 2019, make sure you:

  • Collect and analyze social media data to guide your marketing decisions
  • Apply new technology to your social media strategy
  • Stay authentic and personal

You will undoubtedly see a boost in your social media ROI.

Got any unique social media strategies chalked out for 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Aleh is the Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario. He can be found on Twitter .

Related reading

social media trends 2019

Twitter’s New Insights Tool Shows the Best Time to Publish Tweets by @MattGSouthern

ADVERTISEMENT

Twitter has launched a new insights tool which determines the best day and time to publish tweets based on user engagement.

The new ‘Timing is Everything’ tool took months to build, the company says, and is part of a greater effort to provide users with more actionable data.

Timing is Everything is narrowly focused on video tweets specifically. It displays historical data showing when audiences are on Twitter watching and engaging with video.

Data provided by Timing is Everything highlights the best times to Tweet video content in order to maximize engagement, conversation, and viewership.

The tool doesn’t show when a user’s followers are watching videos. It’s an aggregate, meaning it shows when all users are generally watching any video.

After determining the most opportune times to publish content, tweets can be scheduled directly from the Insights page.

With that said, Twitter still advises users to publish content throughout the day, regardless of what the data says.

“We encourage publishers to continue to post throughout the day in order to maximize reach; however, consider including posting during the most engaging times of the day and week as part of that strategy.”

Users can get started with Timing is Everything by following the steps below:

  • Go to the Analytics dropdown menu within Media Studio and select Insights.
  • View the graph to understand when users are online and engaging with content.
  • Experiment with tweets, or scheduled tweets, during the times of day that have the highest engagement.

Instagram is Working on a New Ad Unit for Sponsored Posts by @MattGSouthern

ADVERTISEMENT

Instagram is set to roll out a new ad format for sponsored posts published by influencers.

AdAge reports the new format is called a “branded content ad,” and is part of a larger strategy to build formal partnerships between brands and creators.

Currently, the solution that Instagram offers is largely informal.

Brands can sponsor popular Instagram users and sponsored posts appear with the tag “Paid partnership with [brand name].”

The limitation of those posts is that they only reach the followers of the influences.

Branded content ads will be similar to other ads on Instagram where advertisers can promote the posts to appear throughout the network.

Further, anyone will be able to apply to join the new branded content program. Instagram’s existing branded content partnership program is not available to everyone.

Ashley Yuki, an Instagram product management lead, tells AdAge that these ads have been in testing since last year.

According to Mediakix, influencer marketing on Instagram is expected to be a $2 billion market in 2019.

Pinterest Makes it Easier for Businesses to Sell Products by @MattGSouthern

ADVERTISEMENT

Pinterest is enhancing its shopping experience with more ways for businesses to promote their products.

In addition, Pinterest is getting more products in front of users by expanding personalized recommendations.

Here is an overview of all the new updates announced today.

Shop by brand
Beneath Product Pins, users will be able to view a new section with more products from that specific brands. Users will be able to dive into a brand’s catalog by clicking “more from [brand]”.

Personalized shopping recommendations
These will appear alongside style, home, beauty, and DIY boards. Users will see in-stock ideas related to what they’ve been saving.

Catalogs
Brands can upload their full catalog to Pinterest and turn their products into dynamic Product Pins.

Shopping ads
Shopping Ads are now available to all businesses through Pinterest’s self-serve Ads Manager tool.

Shopping search
When searching for a product, shopping results will now appear at the top of the home feed.

Further updates to the Pinterest shopping experience are on the way in the coming months.