Misinformation is spreading like wildfire.
On Twitter, it's no different.
Numerous spam accounts and bots plague Twitter. They share false and misleading information, which has negatively impacted user experience.
The network is now working to correct some of these problems, but only time will tell with how the network will fare.
But if new 2018 data is accurate, then the future looks dim.
Researchers at MIT recently released a comprehensive study about “the spread of true and false news online,” which examined over a decade's worth of data.
They discovered that misinformation reached 1,500 people six times faster than valid information.
This has marketers asking the question, “How do we counteract that?”
Some are even wondering, “Is Twitter worth using?”
To effectively use Twitter and see a return on your efforts, you need to understand how to best use the network for your long-term gain.
Twitter is much different now than it was when it first debuted in 2006. It is important for marketers to understand the network's evolution as well as its current user ecosystem.
Despite these new revelations and the current state of misinformation, I'm going to show you how to get the most out of your Twitter marketing strategy in 2018.
But before deploying your 2018 strategy, you need to understand how Twitter has changed in recent months, so you don't make the same mistakes you've likely made in the past.
How understanding Twitter's current state can strengthen your business's marketing strategy
I'm going to guess that Twitter plays some sort of role in your marketing strategy.
A recent study asked respondents, “Which social media platforms do you use to market your business?”
Not surprisingly, Twitter emerged as one of the top platforms.
But should it be?
Lately, Twitter has had its fair share of problems.
To start, there are bots.
A Twitter bot is “a software program that sends out automated posts on Twitter.”
Often, these automated posts are tweets. Other times, the bots will automatically respond to user messages that include specific phrases.
But is this really a problem? It certainly can be.
Although some bots can be helpful for your business objectives, there has been an influx of bots permeating through Twitter's user base.
Now, there are a lot of them.
In fact, there are an estimated 48 million bots on Twitter, accounting for 15% of Twitter's total users.
So how many people are actually on Twitter?
Well, at the time of publication, Twitter had 336 total monthly active users.
Compared to other social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, Twitter isn't leading when it comes to monthly active users.
And if 15% of these users are actually bots, then that decreases the potential number of people you can market to even further.
Bots have started to impact Twitter's user experience negatively, too.
Bots recently came under scrutiny for playing a part in spreading misinformation in the 2016 election.
Those who create bots can also program them to share spam.
A study from the Pew Research Center found that bots shared links directing traffic to sites across a variety of industries.
They also found that “an estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular sites are posted by automated accounts – not human beings.”
How's that for making your brand feel more “human?”
While Twitter is cracking down on bots, many are skeptical that this will help with the increase of misinformation plaguing the platform.
After all, bots aren't the only reason for a poor Twitter user experience.
In the MIT study I mentioned earlier, they found that humans are more susceptible to spreading fake news than bots.
Twitter might be able to lower the influence of bots, but trying to prevent real people from spreading false information is much harder.
In another recent study, 51% of respondents felt that “the information environment will not be improved by changes designed to reduce the spread of lies and other misinformation online.”
So with the influx of bots, spread of misinformation, and stifled user growth, how should marketers approach their Twitter strategy?
Your strategy needs to evolve with the platform and take advantage of Twitter's strengths while keeping in mind its weaknesses.
Here are five ways to tailor your Twitter strategy for results in 2018.
Use Twitter for quick, direct customer service interactions and resolutions
We've all been there.
You need a piece of information that you can't find on a business' website and don't really want to call them.
“Oh, I'll just tweet at them, because they'll probably reply,” you think to yourself.
This is more common than you probably think.
Investing time and resources in your Twitter customer service strategy is important for the long-term growth of your business.
Sometimes, your customers need a bit of TLC. And this is where Twitter can shine.
In fact, 85% of Twitter users said that it's important that businesses provide customer support on Twitter.
By being responsive on Twitter, you add a level of transparency to your business' brand. Your business will seem more helpful and approachable.
And, Dove proves it.
In 2017, Dove focused on responding to more tweets, which in turn, resulted in an increase in positive sentiment from customers.
Dove's net positive sentiment was 41% in the last three months of 2016, and three months later that sentiment score rose to 43%.
That's a lot to gain with minimal effort.
You may be wondering, “But how do you provide optimal service through Twitter?”
It's different for each company, but there are some specific strategies to maximize your responses.
Most companies direct public inquiries to their DMs if any sensitive information needs to be transferred.
And, now since Twitter's launch of the new Direct Message features, we're seeing brands build a more personalized, one-on-one experiences for customers.
Like Patrón Tequila.
Patrón built the “Bot-Tender” - a chatbot “bartender” - that uses Patrón's Direct Messages that serves up cocktail recommendations based on the consumer's preferences.
The “Bot-Tender” resulted in 39% of click-through rate to the website and 2.6% click-through rate using the direct message card.
In some instances, it might even make sense to gather additional information about your customers to better manage the issue. This could help you:
In some instances, you can even set up a chatbot to accept orders with a hashtag.
For example, Wingstop uses a bot to accept orders from people who Tweet '@Wingstop #Order':
Now, that's an example of optimal customer experience that doesn't rely on a wing and a prayer.
Also, depending on the size of their business or the number of customer inquiries a company receives, some even have specific accounts solely focused on helping customers.
For example, LinkedIn owns both the handles @LinkedIn and @LinkedInHelp.
Both channels exist for different objectives. @LinkedIn provides general updates, company news and announcements of features, while @LinkedInHelp focuses on customer support.
Both accounts are valuable for LinkedIn's overarching Twitter strategy.
Private messages have become a popular way to resolve issues, so the platform has included a feature that enables you to include a “Send a private message” link on a tweet.
To do so, make sure your account is accepting direct messages from anyone. Begin by accessing your Settings tab.
Click the “Privacy and Safety” tab on the left side.
Check the box to “Receive Direct Messages from Anyone.”
Find your TwitterID using TweeterID and add it to the end of this link in place of YourTwitterID:
Now, you can add that URL with your own TwitterID inserted into any tweet, and the “Send a private message” button will appear directing your customers into a private conversation.
Focus on sharing video content for higher engagement with your followers
Sharing video content on Twitter isn't exactly new.
But over the past few years, Twitter has continuously worked to evolve how your video can be shared and the impact it can generate. (They're even teasing a Snapchat sharing tool!)
The result? Users are eating it up.
Will you deliver?
If you don't, it'll be costly. The stats don't lie; video views on Twitter have grown 220x what they were 12 months ago.
But can video cut through the clutter of misinformation on the platform?
Well compared to other forms of content, the answer is yes.
Buffer tested different post types across platforms and found a worthwhile revelation about to Twitter video reach.
Upon evaluating 200+ posts, Buffer found that Twitter video performs the best in terms of reach compared to posts with links, images, and GIFs.
And video on Twitter outperforms Facebook video reach by nearly 38%.
But how can you be sure the video is factual?
Well, there hasn't been a full solution introduced yet, but to provide more transparency, Twitter is adding a view count to the corner of each video.
While not a major fix, it will still provide users with an understanding of how many have watched and how far it spread. This can help viewers assess the validity of the source.
But what constitutes as a view?
According to AdAge, “Twitter is holding to Media Rating Council standards […] -one view equals 2 seconds of play time with at least 50% of the video on the screen.”
There's a lot of video content on Twitter. Here's how to make sure what you produce will be worthwhile:
Just look at how Airbnb uses Periscope 360 to immerse viewers in a live video house tour on Twitter.
Drift did that with their explainer videos on Twitter. They feature a team member to capture audience's attention and making the video feel more approachable.
Social media is evolving. Brands need to do more today than just have active profiles on different marketing channels.
Successful businesses are increasing their presence by leveraging relationships with social influencers to create brand awareness.
We're seeing an increase in the use of micro influencers, which made my list of the top marketing trends to look for in 2018. So for those of you who haven't implemented this strategy yet, it's time to get your feet wet.
You may be surprised to hear how big of an impact influencer marketing campaigns can have on your company. In fact, 30% of people say they are more likely to buy a product if a non-celebrity influencer recommends it to them.
The results will vary by generation.
This means you don't have to find pop culture icons like Kanye West or Shaquille O'Neal to promote your brand. It's great news because this will obviously be more cost-effective for your marketing budget.
But since influencer marketing at this scale is relatively new for most businesses, it can feel as if you're entering uncharted waters.
Where do you find social influencers? How much should they be paid? Do they have enough followers to have an impact on your business?
Fortunately, there are online platforms to help you get connected with social influencers. I've narrowed down the top 10 platforms for managing these relationships.
Review my list to see which ones fit the needs of your brand before you decide.
When it comes to getting connected with social influencers, Klear is a top choice for you to consider.
That's because their software allows you to fully customize the profile of an influencer you're looking for based on a variety of factors.
You'll get to decide which social channels you want to promote on, such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, or even blogs.
Then you can select which type of influence you want people to have. This ranges from novices all the way up to celebrities.
Once you click on a prospective influencer's profile, you'll get to see insights based on their audience. This will help ensure their reach matches your goals.
Just because an influencer fits your target market doesn't mean their followers do too. Klear helps you distinguish between these factors.
The dashboard of this software makes it easy for you to manage your campaigns and relationships with multiple influencers at the same time.
You'll also get detailed reports for each campaign you run to see if you're getting the results you need to get a high ROI.
Now, you can easily track your success and continue relationships with your best influencers. On the flip side, these analytics can give you a data-driven reason to cut ties with influencers who aren't helping your cause.
Depending on your business and marketing campaigns, you may be looking for tools to help you with specific marketing channels.
The TweetReach software can help you get connected with the top social influencers on Twitter:
Here's how it works. To find influencers, you'll need to manually search for a topic related to your brand.
Simply input a keyword or hashtag into the query to see which tweets have the highest engagement.
If you find some people who have a big following and powerful voice within your industry, you can reach out to them directly and work out a deal for them to promote your brand via Twitter.
Furthermore, you can use TweetReach to search for specific accounts. You may have some influencers in mind, but you want to see some analytics before contacting them.
TweetReach provides you with exposure information based on your search terms in specific locations as well. This is useful if you want to get connected with influencers in a certain geographic market area.
I like Buzzsumo because they have a wide range of marketing solutions for businesses.
They have tools for things such as competitor analysis, brand monitoring, and content discovery. But they also have specific tools for your influencer marketing goals.
Their platform helps connect you with the right influencers. You can find an influencer based on topics or locations.
Once you have an initial list of influencers, you can filter those results based on things such as engagement, reach, influence, and authority. This gives you the ability to pick the most qualified people for your marketing goals.
You will also have reports based on the type of content and domains these influencers share the most.
Most influencers won't work for one brand exclusively. This information is vital to making sure your influencers aren't doing anything that may negatively affect the reputation of your company.
All the analytics, data, and reports from Buzzsumo can easily be exported as CSV or Excel files.
This makes it easy for you to manage your results on platforms you feel comfortable with. You can also combine this exported data with information from other software for comparison purposes.
4. Brandwatch Audiences
The Audiences research feature from Brandwatch gives you access to a huge database of social influencers.
The reason why this tool is so helpful is because it ranks influencers based on factors that matter the most, such as the ability to drive conversions.
This is much more important than their number of followers and reach. The software connects you with influencers based on niche markets as well.
If someone has an authoritative voice on a particular topic or within a certain industry, Brandwatch can help you find them.
It's a great tool to use if you prefer working with up and coming influencers, such as micro influencers, as opposed to people who are nearing celebrity status on social media.
BuzzStream is another great option to consider because their platform can help you get connected with bloggers in addition to social media users.
Don't underestimate the power of a blogger's voice and the positive impact it can have on your branding strategy.
All you need to do is search for a specific topic through this platform. You'll see a list of prospective bloggers that fit your brand or industry.
You'll have access to reports about their websites and social media pages. This snapshot will tell you exactly how many followers they have on each platform as well as their posting frequency and activity level.
BuzzStream also provides you with engagement statistics for each prospective influencer.
In addition to managing your relationships with influencers, the BuzzStream software specializes in digital PR, link building, and content promotion. All of these features can be used to complement your social influencer campaigns.
This platform is a bit different from all the other options on our list so far.
That's because Kred is designed for influencers as opposed to brands looking to get connected with influencers.
But that doesn't mean you can't still use this platform to your advantage. There are plenty of ways you can go about this.
First of all, if your business is tied to your personal brand, you definitely need to use Kred. Working with other brands can be an easy way for you to build credibility for your company.
For example, let's say you're in the modeling business. Rather than looking for social influencers to promote your brand, you should be getting connected with brands to promote their products.
That way, you can earn some extra cash while increasing the exposure for your personal brand and business at the same time.
Kred is also great because it helps connect influencers with other influencers.
Businesses can use these tools to their advantage to discover their Kred score, which is basically a report of how strong their online influence and outreach is on various channels.
GroupHigh is another top choice for brands looking to connect with social influencers and bloggers.
They have a database with over 15 million influencer profiles.
You can search for influencers based on different reach metrics, location, and social presence. GroupHigh also has an option for finding influencers based on their expertise in niche topics or industries.
If you are managing social influencers on multiple platforms, GroupHigh can help you stay organized.
That's because the software allows you to import all the information regarding other influencer relationships into their system. Now you can manage everything from one location. It's easy to contact your influencers with just a click once you import their info.
There are lots of different communication options with influencers based on the preferred method of both parties.
You can also see reports on all your social mentions to give you a better understanding of your ROI from different influencer marketing campaigns.
Unlike the majority of options on our list, Followerwonk has a free version you can take advantage of.
This tool helps you search for keywords found in users' Twitter bios. You'll get to see information pulled from their profiles, such as the number of followers, account age, tweets, and social authority scores.
In addition to using this tool to help you find new influencers, you can use it to track your existing relationships.
You want to make sure the influencers representing your brand on Twitter still have a strong authority. Otherwise, you may be wasting money on a marketing campaign that won't work.
If you're looking for a platform that helps you connect with new influencers and manage them at the same time, Onalytica is a viable option to consider.
You have several options to search for new influencers. Onalytica lets you search based on categories, so you can get connected with people who specialize in specific fields.
You can also find influencers based on their demographics.
If you're looking to market your brand to a specific audience, it makes sense to work with influencers who fit that demographic as well.
But what really makes Onalytica one of the top influencer marketing platforms is the option to search for influencers based on topic and content. You can find people who use similar language to that of your recently published content.
All you have to do is upload something you created, such as a newsletter or blog post, and the Onalytica content matching tool will provide you with a list of prospective influencers.
Last on my list, but certainly not least, is Traackr.
This platform has a wide range of solutions to help businesses manage their influencer marketing campaigns.
They make it easy for you to communicate with influencers on a daily basis so that you can effectively get your message out to the consumer.
You can also upload influencer lists from other platforms to this software to help you manage everything in one centralized location. That way, it'll be easier for you to track and compare your conversions, helping validate the success of specific campaigns.
Traackr also has tools to help compare your brand's total social influence compared to that of your competitors. It also tracks your improvement over time.
All this information is helpful when it comes to measuring your reach and ROI.
For your business to survive and prosper in today's digital age, you need to increase your social media presence.
To do this effectively, you've got to develop relationships with social influencers on multiple distribution channels.
Rather than just blindly scrolling through your follower lists to try to come up with a qualified candidate, you can use online tools to discover, manage, and analyze your influencers.
Refer to my list above to help you find what you're looking for. Some of the options are more platform-specific, helping you connect with either bloggers, for example, or influencers on Twitter.
It all depends on your marketing goals.
But one thing is for certain, you need to get on the social influencer train now before your competition beats you to the punch.
What types of platforms does your company use to manage relationships with social influencers?
While one new study on voice assistants compares the quality of different providers' answers, the other drills into Google's data sources for 22 verticals.
The post Study: Google Assistant most accurate, Alexa most improved virtual assistant appeared first on Search Engine Land.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
People love watching videos. That's why 87% of marketers use video content to engage with their audiences on the Internet.
More than half of marketing experts across the globe say they get the highest ROI from their video promotions.
When it comes to social media, videos generate 1,200% more shares than both text and pictures combined.
Another reason why videos are great is because it's easier for viewers to comprehend your message while watching videos. In fact, your audience will retain 95% of information they consumed through a video as opposed to just 10% of information they consumed through reading text.
It's no secret that video content has been dominating the latest trends.
But with so many videos out there flooding the market, you need to make sure your video promotions can stand out from the crowd.
The majority of consumers prefer watching video content on YouTube and television:
These are the platforms you should prioritize when creating a new video promotion.
Don't get me wrong, just because videos are a great way to market your brand doesn't mean you should completely abandon your other marketing strategies.
You should still continue blogging, sending emails to your subscribers, and staying active on social media. Another reason why video promotions are so awesome is because you can incorporate them into all these other distribution channels as well.
It's easy to add videos to your blog, embed them into your emails, and share them on social media.
Here's something else to keep in mind. Yes, consumers love videos. But that doesn't mean that everything you publish will automatically be a huge success.
You've got to learn how to engage with your audience through promotional videos, which is why I created this guide. Keep these tips in mind if you want to continue running successful video promos.
Identify your audience
Your video promotion won't appeal to everyone.
That's okay. You shouldn't try to reach every person on the planet with your marketing campaigns.
The first step in creating a killer video promo is to identify your target market. For starters, I'm assuming your brand has already done this.
But not everything you offer is necessarily intended for all your customers. You may sell products for men and women of all ages. Don't try to appeal to these different audiences with the same video.
Instead, segment your target audience based on the goal of your campaign, which we'll discuss in greater detail shortly.
Lululemon sells yoga clothing, gear, and accessories. This brand primarily sells to women. But recently, they launched a men's line as well.
This video promotion is aimed specifically at male audiences.
Don't worry. By doing this, you won't be abandoning the rest of your customers. You'll just need to come up with additional promos to target them as well.
Next, you'll use different distribution strategies appropriate to the market segment you're targeting.
Stick to a reasonable budget
You don't need to spend a ton of money on your video promotions. The cost will largely depend on what you're trying to accomplish.
What do you need in your video?
For example, you may need to rent a facility, hire actors, or work with a celebrity, which may cost you a lot of money, but you may not need any of that.
Keep in mind, to be successful, you'll need to make lots of promos. You don't want to dump a ton of money into each one.
For the most part, you can make a great video without breaking the bank. Use your employees and friends as actors and look for locations that are free to shoot.
You also need to keep in mind how much it's going to cost you to distribute your promotions. If you're planning to just upload them to your YouTube channel and share them on your website, social media pages, and email lists, there won't be any cost.
But if you're filming an ad for television or paid promotions on social media, the costs will vary.
Marketing experts cited the cost and budget as the number one reason preventing them from spending more money on video advertising:
But if you can find ways to keep your costs low, this won't be an issue for you.
That's why it's important to come up with a budget before you get started. Then you won't have any surprises or money problems once you start filming.
Focus on one goal
What's the point of your video?
Are you trying to promote an event? Advertise a sale? Build hype for a new product or service? Or maybe you're trying to get downloads, add subscribers, or drive traffic to a landing page?
Video promotions are great for building brand awareness as well. The possibilities are endless.
Regardless of your reason, it's important that you create one video promo for one goal. As I said earlier, this goal is also related to your target audience, which you've previously identified.
Do not go overboard here.
If you try to accomplish too many goals in one promotion, it'll confuse your audience, and the engagement will suffer. Later, we'll talk more about your ending call to action, but it should reinforce the goal of your promo.
Make sure you've got the right equipment
You don't need to hire a professional director and camera person to film your video promotions. It'll help you keep your budget within your means, as discussed above.
If you're planning on making lots of promotional videos in the future, which you should be, it'll be worth it for you to invest in the right equipment now.
Here are some things you'll need to get:
These are necessary if you want to make sure your promotion looks professional.
Publishing a poor quality video can create the opposite effect of what you're trying to accomplish:
Research shows that unprofessional videos cause consumers to have a negative association with the brand that published them.
Don't underestimate the importance of getting the proper equipment.
Write a script
No matter how creative you are, don't try to wing it when you're filming a video promo.
Even if you have a general idea of the content of your promo, write out each line ahead of time. Write the lines for all the actors as well as any narration lines.
You should also consider dead air time when nobody is speaking. Include pauses and breaks in your script as well. All of this needs to be accounted for before filming starts.
Having a script will keep things organized. That way, you'll use your time efficiently whenever you're filming.
Trying to figure out the best way to word a scene on the filming day is an ineffective allocation of your time. Instead, your efforts should be focused on getting quality shots.
Having a script that's ready to go will also help eliminate any friction or confrontations with your staff.
Depending on the managerial structure of your brand, there may be several people who have an input and strong opinions about your marketing campaign.
The last thing you want is for people to argue about the direction of your video while you're trying to film it. Working out the details ahead of time will make sure everyone involved sticks to the script, pun intended.
Time is of the essence
How long is your video promotion? 10 seconds? 30 seconds? a minute?
You need to plan that before you get started. The most important part of your video promotion is capturing the viewers' attention at the very beginning.
Research shows that as time increases, engagement decreases. Don't ease into your videos.
Chances are your audience may not get through the entire thing. But a strong introduction in the first ten seconds can keep them hooked and engaged throughout the duration of the promo.
The length of your video will also vary depending on your distribution method.
HubSpot studied the ideal length of a promotional video based on the distribution channel. These were their findings.
Instagram promos should be 30 seconds long. That's because the average length of videos on this platform with the most comments was 26 seconds long.
Plus, Instagram's platform encourages users to keep scrolling. Shorter videos make the most sense here.
Twitter videos should be short as well. People are used to reading short updates on this platform since they have a 140-character text limit. Plus, the average length of Twitter's videos of the day was 43 seconds long.
Video promotions on Facebook that were one minute long had high engagement rates.
YouTube videos can be a bit longer. The optimal length of a YouTube video is roughly two minutes because users tend to spend more time watching videos on this platform.
Make sure your timing is sorted out before you start filming. Otherwise, the promotion could feel dragged out if you don't get right to the point.
Choose a theme
What's the mood of your video? This may seem like a strange question, but you need to answer it.
Figure out what kind of emotions you want your audience to feel when they're watching your promotion. These are the top positive emotions felt by viewers watching viral video content:
Having a clear theme will keep everyone working on this project on the same page.
If you don't know where to start, here are some theme recommendations to give you some inspiration:
The list goes on and on, but these are reasonable places to start your brainstorming.
Here's something else you need to consider. Music. Will there be any music playing in your promotion, or will it be only people talking?
The type of music included in your video promo will give your audience a good sense of your theme.
Make sure you stick with just one or two themes at the most. Don't throw a joke into a promo that has a serious and informative theme because it will confuse your audience.
Pick a style
In addition to your theme, you also need to determine a style of your promo.
Are you using actors to replicate a real life scenario? Or maybe you're using live footage.
If you're not using actors, you may want to use an animated style or b-roll video. You could have a screencast with a narrator speaking or use a whiteboard demonstration.
Here's a quick video promo on the Dollar Shave Club website:
It's promoting their shave butter. This video has a lot going on, but it's used effectively.
It uses a combination of actors and animations to create a fantasy scene that's humorous. The actor puts on the shaving butter and then feels as if he's swimming in it.
As you can see, you're allowed to combine styles. You can always use a voiceover to enhance the style and prove a point.
Film multiple versions of your promo
You've got all your equipment set up, so you might as well take advantage of it.
If your end goal is a 30-second video promotion, don't film just 30 seconds and call it a day. Mix things up.
Film longer versions of your promo as well. You can always edit it down later based on your distribution channel.
For example, you can create a two-minute-long video intended for YouTube and then release a 30-second clip of it on Instagram and a minute-long version on Facebook, according to the optimal length of videos for different channels I discussed earlier.
You could also consider filming a long version and release part of it at a time. Create a series out of your promotion so viewers anxiously anticipate the sequel to find out what happens next.
End with a strong call to action
Your CTA will be the extension of your goals I discussed above.
The call to action should be at the end of your video and reinforce whatever you're trying to accomplish.
If the video is being distributed online, it could end with a website for people to visit or a download link to click on.
Include a phone number if you want your audience to make a call.
Use phrases such as buy now, save today, or sign up for free.
Again, this will all vary based on the goal of your campaign.
Here's an example of the last clip of a Little Caesars video promotion:
The message is clear. Pay $5 for a pizza.
This entire promo talks about how you can just walk into one of their locations and leave with a hot pizza that's ready to eat. It differs from most pizza restaurants where you'd have to order your pizza and wait for it.
The CTA at the end of the video reinforces this message.
It should be very obvious to anyone who watches your video what type of action you're trying to get your viewers to do based on your call to action. Don't be ambiguous. Get straight to the point.
Consumers love videos. Your brand needs to learn how to master video marketing campaigns.
The first thing you need to do is identify the audience your video will target.
Set a budget, and stick to one goal per promotion. Get yourself proper filming equipment, and write a script to stay organized.
Decide on the length of your promotion. This will vary based on your distribution methods.
Choose a theme and style of your promo based on what type of emotions you want the viewers to feel while they're watching it.
Film multiple versions of the video promotion. You can always cut it to an appropriate length later.
All great video promos end with a strong call to action.
If you follow these tips, your video promotions will have high engagement rates and ultimately lead to more conversions.
How is your brand using video promotions to engage with your target audience?
Last year, my friend checked her Instagram engagement numbers and noticed something unusual.
“I used to get lots of likes and comments, but now it has totally dropped off,” she told me.
I asked her what she was doing differently.
And that was the issue.
Instagram has changed a lot since it first launched in 2010.
They now have 800,000,000 monthly active users.
And while that number is incredible, what is more striking is the rate at which the platform is growing.
In 2013, it had 100,000,000 users.
In 2016, it had 500,000,000 users.
By April 2017, it had 700,000,000 users.
By September 2017, it had 800,000,000 users.
This means its user base rocketed by 100,000,000 users in five months.
This graph maps out Instagram's impressive growth numbers over the years.
Since Instagram is purely visual, it's an incredibly captivating way to make a connection with your customers.
But only if you know how to use it in 2018.
Let's take a look at the top Instagram trends all marketers need to know about in 2018.
1. Instagram is becoming 'pay to play'
At first, access to 800 million users might sound like a marketer's dream.
But the more you think about that number, 800 million users means more competition.
And more clutter.
To make matters worse, Instagram continues to make changes to their algorithm, negatively affecting brands' organic reach.
In March 2018, Instagram announced that “introducing [algorithm] changes to give you more control over your feed and ensure the posts you see are timely.”
These changes include:
What does this mean? Instagram is still toying with their algorithm.
Good for users. Bad for brands.
That said, it isn't all doom and gloom for businesses.
For one thing, 8 out of 10 users follow at least one business.
Increased competition means more saturation. That fact, combined with decreasing organic reach, means you're going to have to pay to play in 2018.
Promoting your basic Instagram posts isn't the same as running an Instagram ad campaign. But it is your best shot at getting content to stick out from the crowd.
Only Instagram Business Accounts have access to promoting posts.
To get started, make sure your profile is set to public. You can do this by heading over to your profile.
Then click the gear shift wheel icon and switch to a Business Profile.
Setting up a boosted ad is one thing, but knowing which posts to boost is another.
Naturally, you'll only want to boost posts that people are engaging with.
Your Insights will quickly aggregate all of this basic reach data.
To get even more engagement for your posts, you need to pick the right hashtags.
How to pick your hashtags
If you use trending hashtags that are relevant to your audience, your posts' discoverability will increase.
But how do you make sure you pick the right ones?
Well, there are a variety of tools that can help you decide which hashtags are the right ones for you:
But how many should you add to a single post?
TrackMaven took a look at hashtags on Instagram and found that 9 is the optimum amount for engagement. The report also found that longer hashtags (we're talking around 24 characters) outperform shorter ones.
But you can always check to see what hashtags your competitors and your customers are using.
To do this, type into Instagram's search bar. The app will display the most closely related hashtags.
It will even tell you how many times that hashtag has been used in total by Instagram's users.
Once you have a decent collection of hashtags together that are aligned well with your target audience, you can then start posting with them.
But don't just post and forget about them. Follow them. At the end of 2017, Instagram released a new update allowing users to follow hashtags.
Simple, but effective.
2. Customers can buy direct with Instagram shopping features
Got an e-commerce store?
If so, you need to be using Instagram's Shopping feature.
Like, right now.
It improves product discovery on the app by condensing and making information available in one place.
Shoppable posts can be identified on account profiles by a white shopping bag icon at the top right-hand corner of posts.
Users can see these posts natively in their feed while scrolling. Each post that uses this feature will show a white shopping bag icon or a “Tap to View Products” pop-up.
Instead of having to click on links to get access to product pricing and descriptions, this key info will be available on a brand's Instagram post.
Shoppers can do their browsing without leaving the app.
For businesses, the advantages are obvious; it's simply an easier way than ever for customers to push your products.
The stats don't lie either. According to Instagram, 75% of users who see a business post take action.
This tells you one key thing: consumers love to connect with brands on Instagram.
So how to get started? Well, Instagram is busy rolling out the feature, but you still need to be approved to use it.
Once you are approved, simply upload a post to Instagram like you usually would. Then, tag the product using the “tag products” feature.
It's just like tagging a person.
Then, simply share your post to your page, and you're done.
How to increase the reach of your shopping posts
To take things one step further, there are numerous integrations and tools to increase conversions depending on what platform you are using. Some of my favorites are:
3. Reach more followers organically with live streaming
Gulp. Going live fills many of us with dread.
But let's face it. Instagram Live is a fantastic way to connect with your audience, answer questions on the fly and solve any issues they might have.
Daunting? Sure. But it's so easy to go live.
Start by tapping the camera icon on your screen (top left).
This will open the camera.
Tap “Live” followed by “Start Live Video.”
Provided your notifications are turned on, your followers will be notified that you've gone live.
But what should you do? Here are some live content types:
For example, Dunkin Donuts mastered Instagram Live by providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of their sweet creations inside their test kitchen on Valentine's Day.
Beyond Yoga used Instagram Live to showcase how their clothing items fared after performing various yoga poses.
Want even more engagement? Use Instagram Live with friends.
Instagram Live with friends means you're live on camera with a guest. This can be a great way to involve another brand or partner in the mix.
Jared Leto and Gucci teamed up for an Instagram Live with friends broadcast.
This provided a chance for Gucci's Instagram audience to be exposed to Jared Leto's brand and vice versa.
Want more added exposure? The more popular your broadcast is, the more of a chance it has of appearing in the Explore tab.
Awesome, right? There's also such a thing as Top Live Instagram Stories. The more viewers and guests you've got, the higher you will rank.
It's easy enough to use too, but there's a big thing you need to bear in mind: comment moderation.
Comment moderation should be turned on if you've got a “clean” brand with an audience that wouldn't want to be subjected to bad words in the comments.
To moderate comments, go to your Settings, head on down to “Comments” and pick the comment moderation options that you'd prefer.
Another thing you need to do is promote your Live broadcast in advance.
Use Instagram Insights to discover a good time to go live (this will be a time when your engagement is usually at its peak).
But that's not all. Instagram recently made it available for you to save your live streams to your camera roll.
Now, you have great content to repurpose for other social media channels as well.
4. Target micro influencers to promote you
In his book #AskGaryVee, Gary Vaynerchuk says that anyone who has a following on Instagram is an influencer.
Gary knows what he is talking about, with having over 3 million followers.
You might be thinking, “3 million followers?! My brand doesn't come close to that.”
You don't necessarily need thousands of followers to make an impact. Studies show engagement peaks at just 1,000 followers.
This is why micro influencers are great.
Those with mid-range followings (1000 – 10,000+) can have strong engagement numbers and be incredibly impactful for your brand.
Launching a micro influencer campaign doesn't have to be costly either. In fact, working with influencers on Instagram can often give you a better ROI.
Influencer Marketing Days performed a test to compare the value between micro and mega influencers. Their results were interesting, although not surprising.
Mega influencers had high engagement numbers, but low sales. Micro influencers resulted in high sales, but low engagement numbers.
Why was that the result?
Despite smaller following than influencers, micro influencers often have a higher engagement rate and more of a personal relationship with their followers.
They might even think of their followers as friends and vice versa.
Additionally, most micro influencers are invested in their craft which makes them useful for marketers targeting niche markets.
Below you can see Erika advertising Capri Blue candles. A perfect fit for her brand and audience.
She tagged the post with “#ad,” which is incredibly important. The FCC has imposed regulations to ensure that influencers and brands state their relationships on posts.
How to get in touch with an influencer
You can find influencers by searching for popular hashtags related to your product.
Sometimes you don't even have to look past your current followers. A passionate fan could also be a great micro influencer for your product.
Once you find an influencer, you can contact them through their DM's or email. If they are commonly involved in campaigns, they might have their email on their page.
If so, simply email them to connect. Many leave their email addresses in their bio.
But what do you say?
You can send them a simple email like this to begin the conversation:
They get additional content for their channel. You get additional exposure.
It's a win-win scenario.
5. Instagram Stories offer real-time engagement
Nope, I hadn't forgotten Instagram Stories. Maybe I was saving the best for last?
There are a few reasons why Instagram's user base keeps on growing at a crazy rate, and one of the reasons is Instagram Stories.
Of course, we've all seen a similar feature before over at Snapchat.
Snapchat's business plan is built around their Stories feature, a popular feature which is arguably responsible for them experiencing a surge in daily active users over the years.
By the end of 2017, Snapchat had 187 million daily active users.
Instagram then went and launched their own Stories feature in mid-2017, and it has paid off.
Since adding it, Instagram's user base has rocketed by 100 million.
By August 2017, the feature had 250 million daily active users, a figure which eclipses Snapchat.
This means Instagram Stories has a bigger audience, which you need to target.
It also has a wider audience too, which means you've got a better chance of reaching your targeted persona.
Snapchat is experiencing a downturn in users at the moment, with studies showing that a percentage of its audience is actually heading over to Instagram instead.
What does all this mean for you?
You need to use Instagram Stories.
Stories can now be viewed on desktop, while Story Highlights is a brand new feature that lets you showcase your most popular Story for longer than the usual 24-hour limit.
How to maximize Instagram Stories
Whether you use photos or videos, Instagram Stories are a great way to give your audience a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse of your business.
Below you can see the company Benefit sharing behind-the-scenes footage of their beauty shoot.
But your story doesn't have to just be showing what's going on.
You can craft a compelling narrative, too.
If customers or employees are happy to be involved, you should make them the stars! NASA spotlighted their employees who shared why they like working at NASA.
It's really easy to record a video, too.
All you need to do is head over to the main Instagram Stories screen and press the icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen.
Then press the middle button and hold it, before releasing once the video is done.
To take a picture, just tap the button once and release.
Then, upload the video (or image) and add a caption or draw text onto it.
Off-the-cuff videos work because users appreciate live footage. It creates a sense of intimacy between you and your audience, and it's good for transparency.
You can also use Instagram Stories to create a series of how-to articles or do-it-yourself tips on your page.
Below you can see Real Simple share quick household tips in their Instagram Story.
How to put together a how-to article via Instagram Stories?
The best way to do it is by using slides.
Simply put the slides together in a sequence before uploading them to Instagram Stories.
The slides need to be eye-catching, colorful and engaging.
If you're not the most visually creative person in the world, you can use Canva to design your Story before uploading. It's very easy to use for non-designers.
End each how-to Story with a compelling call to action that tells the viewer what they need to do next.
6. Showcase brand personality with augmented reality branded face filters
Instagram developed face filters for its users.
Some can make you look like a rabbit, and others can give you a crown on your head.
The filters work when using both the front and back camera on your phone.
But how can these filters benefit your business?
By using branded face filters.
We know that Instagram is in hot pursuit of Snapchat.
And we have already seen Snapchat offer sponsored Snapchat lenses for Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Michael Kors, and more.
So, Instagram likely isn't far behind from opening face filters up to brands.
But this feature might not be available to every brand until 2019 and also may not be cheap.
A source that previously bought a branded filter on Snapchat and Facebook for their company spoke to AdAge and agreed Instagram's branded face filters are impactful.
They said, “Instagram is a better place than Facebook for lenses. The way people use Instagram, it's just more of a camera app.”
But that's still a ways off.
For now, consider adding a hashtag sticker to your Story for more context.
To do this, create your Story first.
Then simply tap the sticker icon at the top right of your screen.
Next select and customize your hashtag.
Finally, add it to your Story.
Of course, make sure the Instagram app on your phone is always updated.
You don't want to miss out on any new features being dropped.
Head over to the Play Store for Android users or the App Store for Apple users.
Remember, people are less likely to follow an Instagram page that looks messy and inconsistent.
60% of the best brands use a consistent filter on Instagram.
A consistent aesthetic – and this includes the color palette, content, font, composition – is going to be essential to Instagram success in 2018.
Have a look at Desenio.
They use the same colors over and over again.
Take a step back and look at your feed as a whole. Do the images look good together? Is your aesthetic compelling and consistent?
If one moment a business is posting photos of food and the next moment they're wading in on the current political climate, it's going to be hugely confusing.
Their core message will be lost.
Don't let this be your business.
Leave behind the bad habit of throwing your followers a curveball with a post that adds no value and makes little sense. Be predictable.
If there are old posts that no longer fit your aesthetic, you can either delete them or hide them using the Instagram Archives feature.
Instagram isn't going away any time soon.
Users will continue to have faith in Instagram, and its audience is only going to grow and grow.
But unless you adapt to the changing trends, you'll fall way behind your competitors.
Each time Instagram rolls out a new feature, such as Instagram Stories, don't sit back and hope it goes away because you don't like change. Be among the first to adopt it.
Take advantage of micro-influencer marketing. Target influencers in your niche that have already developed a relationship and trust with their audience.
Use Instagram live to create a sense of intimacy with your followers and connect with them regularly.
Carefully analyze your analytics so that you don't waste your money on boosted posts. Take the time to build a community and treat your page just like you treat your brand.
Next, consider branded face filters. They may be available for your company to use very soon.
What trends are you using in your current Instagram campaign?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
If you're looking to take your business to the next level and help your products stand out, you can't afford to ignore the power of product tutorials.
Ever tried to use a product without any instructions? It's not a fun process, is it?
Product tutorials solve that problem by helping current and future customers understand the value of what you're selling because they showcase exactly how to use it.
But when a product tutorial is too lengthy, too complicated, or doesn't look like something your customer needs, they might end up abandoning it all together.
And that's not a good sales strategy for anyone.
Because the end goal isn't to get a customer, it's to keep a customer.
And that means creating a product tutorial that makes it super easy for a new customer to start using-and succeed at using-your product.
So much so that they want to keep on using it. You know, forever.
Here are a few companies that did just that.
1. Buffer keeps it simple
The global average for cart abandonment across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices is a staggering 77.24%.
That means there is an extremely likely chance you'll lose your hard-won customers before they even make it through the onboarding process.
Avoid this classic pitfall by keeping your product tutorial super simple. Just like Buffer.
To get started, you just have to connect your social network accounts.
And compose your first social media post.
Buffer sends a series of onboarding emails to customers to help them navigate their service, starting with this welcome email:
The email cross-promotes the Buffer browser extension and provides a brief breakdown of why it's useful.
A few days later, the company sends a similar email that explains their Android and iOS app.
The entire signup process takes less than five minutes and is virtually foolproof. The onboarding email series guides customers along the way without overwhelming them.
Try a similar approach with a series of short onboarding emails about your products and services.
Mint breaks their product tutorials down into small tasks to keep things simple, transparent, and easy.
2. Mint breaks it down into smaller tasks
The goal of many online products is to make something that is ordinarily complex, simple.
Mint, a financial services company, allows customers to view all of their banking accounts, credit cards, loans, investment accounts, and properties in one place.
But to see all of this information in one spot, a user first has to sort through all of their accounts, remember usernames and passwords, and upload them to Mint.
As you can imagine, this can be a rather arduous task.
That's why Mint breaks up a rather lengthy onboarding process into just one task: Add a bank account.
That's it. Just one bank account.
Once a customer has added an account, they can already see a small picture of their finances.
They already have a taste of success.
It's so easy-and so gratifying-that it makes them want to do it again. And again.
And the onboarding emails sent by Mint are one of many reasons why the company grew to 1.5 million users in just two years.
Once customers sign up for the service, Mint sends out a welcome email to help users “manage their money” in five short steps.
From there, users receive customized weekly emails summarizing their account activity.
By simplifying a complex process into smaller, more manageable steps, you'll increase the likelihood that your customer will stick around to complete them.
It doesn't hurt to have a little fun throughout the process.
3. Canva makes it fun
Virgin America rocked the airline industry when they introduced a safety video people actually wanted to watch.
It was so good that more than 12 million people voluntarily watched it on YouTube-without ever stepping foot on an airplane.
Once the customer opens the program, they're immediately taken through the process of creating their first Canva design.
The customer can pick what they want to use the design platform for.
And what they want to design.
Then Canva uses animation to show them how to create design elements.
As the customer works their way through the design process, they can choose the colors, fonts, graphics, and design elements they want to create just about anything.
The fun, personalized product tutorial resulted in a 10% boost in activation for the company.
Canva's emails are just as fun. They list which “Canva member number” that each new user is:
You can find similar success by creating exciting product tutorials and onboarding emails.
4. Evernote gets you to start now
As Ankit Jain puts it, “The key to [product tutorial] success is to get the users hooked during that critical first 3-7 day period.”
That means your customer needs to experience a taste of what your product has to offer as quickly as possible.
That's exactly what Evernote does.
The note-taking program gives customers an opportunity to stay organized while keeping track of their meeting notes.
To get customers hooked, Evernote wants their customers to write their first notes right away.
So the second the customer signs-up there is a note there waiting for them.
It tells them how to compose their first note and all the fun things they can do with it.
In fact, they might eventually have so many notes that they need to pay for a premium Evernote account.
That's probably why more than 220 million users use Evernote.
Evernote introduces new users to their service with a series of onboarding emails that teach them how to use the service to its full potential.
The series starts with a welcome email that wastes no time at all. There is a “Download Evernote” button right in the email body.
Cut to the chase quicker, just like Evernote, to activate more of your sign-ups.
5. Maven makes it personal
We know that email marketing is much more effective when it's personalized. So why aren't our product tutorials personalized as well?
For example, remember when doctors used to make house calls? Yeah me neither.
Despite the fact that house calls were way before my time, I still yearn for that level of personalized care.
I don't want to look up answers to my health challenges online. That does nothing to reassure me.
And I don't want to go to an urgent care clinic where no one knows me. They'll just prescribe me something I don't need.
Instead, I want to feel heard. I want to feel as though I'm taken care of.
And that's exactly what Maven Clinic taps into.
Maven Clinic allows customers to schedule video appointments with doctors, physical therapists, and mental health professionals.
Even though it operates entirely online, it still feels personal, and they reinforce that level of intimacy throughout the entire product tutorial process.
And the company's emails follow the exact same tone.
The second a customer signs-up they receive a welcome note from their own personal wellness coordinator.
The note gives the customer the opportunity to feel welcome, to feel taken care, and to feel as though there is someone available to care for their needs.
This level of personalization is important. Especially in a field as intimate as health care.
Customers want to feel as though they are part of something bigger. They want to feel connected to the world around them.
They don't want to feel as though they are all alone in the world.
And companies are reaping the benefits. One Maven client offered unlimited maternity leave to employees.
But with the personal features offered by Maven, the longest leave taken was only 7.5 months.
Tap into that emotionality by personalizing your product tutorial.
Customers that feel included are more likely to engage with what you've created for them.
6. Asana lets you customize
The point of a product tutorial is not to help you get more customers, it's to help your customers use-and love-your product.
If your customer goes through your product tutorial only to find that it doesn't meet their needs, they're never going to use it again.
But if you use the product tutorial as a way for your customers to customize the experience of your product, that's a win-win.
And because there is an infinite number of reasons a team might need a project management tool, the first thing Asana does is ask the customer to customize it to their needs.
It asks about their teams:
Their first project:
And how they want that project laid out.
From there, the customer can start adding tasks to their projects.
And by the end of the product tutorial, the customer will have a product that is specifically catered to their needs.
Asana's welcome emails are just as effective. The headline reads: “What do you need to get done today?”
The result is that the customer always gets what they want.
And that's always a winning strategy.
7. Timely has two fields
How many fields do you really need your customers to fill out?
Historically speaking, analysts have recommended using no more than three form fields on a landing page.
Yet so many onboarding processes ask for way too much information. Do you really need your customer's first name? Last name? Phone number?
Every field you ask your customer to fill out is another chance they might not stick around to get through it.
This is an era of instant gratification we're living in.
If you don't need a field, don't ask for it.
In the case of time management software Timely, they only ask for two fields.
From there the customer can get right to managing their time.
And if they need more information, there's an email for that.
Timely understands what their customers are looking for and they only need two pieces of information to give it to them.
A good product tutorial should do the same. Ask only for what is most vital to getting your customer into your product and engaged with it.
Anything extra is just giving your customer an easy out.
8. Slack gives you the basics
I know. You want to teach your customers all about your product.
After all, you created all of those amazing features and benefits just for them.
But if your product is a little more complicated to use, please don't try to teach your customer everything they can do with it at once.
Instead, start with just the basics. Give your customer the bare minimum of functionality they need to get started.
Once they're hooked, you can teach them more. But at the beginning, the last thing you want is for your customer to get overwhelmed and quit.
The workplace communication service was designed to roll email, instant messenger, and video chat into one app. And they even do so much more than that.
But they don't tell you that all at once. Instead, they tell you the three most basic things you can do with their app.
They tell you all about channels:
Once you have the basics mastered, Slack tells you how you can learn about the rest when you're ready:
He said, “It's less (about) features that are ahead of where the users are and trying to understand” [the need of the customers].
Slack's onboarding emails keep it basic, too. Their welcome emails are sleek, simple, and get to the point right away.
By keeping to the basics, Slack users can get right to work reading through their channels, sending messages to their co-workers, and uploading important documents.
Once they see the value of your product, they'll come back for more.
Until then, give them the bare minimum they need to succeed.
9. MailChimp hides their advanced functionality
Most businesses don't start out with 100,000 customers. In fact, most businesses start out with just one.
Over time they grow and scale and require a lot more functionality than they used to.
But at the beginning, they don't need all that functionality.
More likely than not, they need only the most basic functionality.
MailChimp gets that. The email platform has every bell and whistle you could possibly imagine.
That's probably why the company made more than $400 million in 2016 and grew their user base from 12 million to six million in just one year.
They have A/B testing, integration with Salesforce, newsletter sign-up forms, and complex analytics.
But when you're just starting out, you don't need any of that.
In fact, when you're just starting out, all you need is to be able to email your customers.
That's where Tiny Letter comes in.
Tiny Letter is MailChimp's lite program. All you do is sign-up, upload your existing customers, and send them an email.
That's all there is to it.
There's no analytics. There's no A/B testing. There are no embedded forms. There are no design elements.
It's just a simple way for your business to send an email to everyone you want to send an email to.
You can keep using Tiny Letter until you have 5,000 subscribers. But by then you'll probably want to add a bell or whistle or two.
That's when MailChimp pulls back the curtain and lets you see all of your deepest desires.
But not a moment before you're ready to see them.
MailChimp emails are designed to serve the exact same purpose.
Online training, a knowledge base, marketing guides, and a blog are listed to help users become acquainted with the service before diving in deeper toward advanced features.
10. Expensify makes it easy
In some cases, it's relatively easy for a customer to want your product and even to sign-up for it, but then they struggle to roll it out for their employees.
The product tutorial is the perfect opportunity for you to address those concerns.
Expensify lets employees submit their expense reports and get reimbursed for them.
But getting employees to start using the program means making it as easy as pie.
Expensify simply asks who it should submit receipts to.
And when they should be submitted each week.
That's it! The employee can immediately start uploading pictures of their receipts.
And Expensify will do all the rest.
The brand doesn't even require users to create a password at first. Instead, users can create a password once they receive a welcome email. The entire sign up process is practically infallible.
The easier it is for companies to roll your product out to their employees, the more likely they are to bridge the gap from purchaser to loyal customer.
You should be thinking about your customer and what they need from your product. Period.
Find ways to make your product tutorial simple and engaging. Give your customers what they came for. And fast.
Your product tutorial should be so easy and intuitive that anyone can get started. Even your grandmother.
Encourage your customers to take (at least one) action right away, like sending an email.
They'll be able to see what your product can do. And whether or not they prefer your product to another one.
Keep tutorials simple like Buffer or break things down into actionable, smaller steps like Mint.
Spice tutorials up and make them fun like Canva or make users get started right away like Evernote.
Be personable like Maven or let users customize their experience like Asana.
Timely only has two required fields, which could help you keep onboard customers more effectively. Slack only gives users the basics, which keeps them from becoming overwhelmed.
MailChimp hides advanced features until users are much more experienced, while Expensify makes it easy to sign up for their service right away.
As a result, users of these services can get hooked on using these products and services monthly, weekly, or daily.
That's what a successful product tutorial should do. It shouldn't turn your subscribers into churners. It should turn your subscribers into users.
How have you used product tutorials to activate your sign-ups?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
Your content is great. You've been applying new strategies and learning how to master the art of storytelling to make your content more engaging.
But now what? This is useless if you're unable to distribute it to your audience.
I see this problem all the time when I'm consulting businesses. They have excellent writers who know how to write great blog posts, but nobody is reading their work.
The key here is learning how to distribute your content so it can reach the widest audience possible.
If you're using only one distribution channel, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.
Some of you may be thinking, “If it's on my website, someone will eventually see it.”
That's not true. You can't rely on your website alone for content distribution. That's because people consume information in a wide variety of ways.
For example, if you have a B2B company, you should be aware that majority of your content is being viewed on desktop computers.
B2C companies, on the other hand, need to put more emphasis on optimizing their mobile websites for Google searches.
But effective content distribution goes way beyond the types of devices your audience is using. Using multiple methods of distribution gives more people a chance to see your content.
Use this guide as a reference for how to successfully deliver content to your target audience. Here's what you need to know.
Establish an active presence on all your channels
Your distribution won't be effective if you're adding content to each channel only once per month. If you want more views and engagement, the first thing you need to do is make sure all your platforms are active.
This is the best way to make sure that as many people as possible have regular access to your brand.
Start simple. How many social media profiles do you have? Create accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube if you haven't already.
You've been adding new subscribers to your email list, but how often do you send them messages?
People subscribed to your emails because they wanted to hear from you. They follow you on social media because they are interested in your products and services. Don't let them down by going silent.
While you should post often, make sure you don't get too carried away. Otherwise, this strategy could backfire and you could be perceived as annoying.
We know that 57.5% of social media users unfollowed a brand on social media because they thought the brand posted too many promotions.
Find that middle ground. Post content daily, but do this without blowing up your followers' timelines.
Understand your audience
As I said earlier, not everyone consumes content the same way. Conduct research to clearly identify your target market.
Once you know whom you're trying to reach, it will be easier to figure out how to target them based on their consumption habits.
First of all, think about the platform you're distributing on. This will tell you how your audience wants to consume.
For example, take a look at your Instagram followers. If you're debating what you should post on your Instagram profile, stick to pictures and videos. It wouldn't be effective to write short blogs in the caption of a photo.
Instead, focus your website on more text-heavy content, such as blogs. Send newsletters to your email subscribers. Keep your Twitter audience updated with short newsworthy headlines.
Does this make sense? Make sure the content is tailored to each channel based on your audience consumes.
But you also need to realize not everyone has the same social media preferences. Take a look at some of the differences between how Millennials and Baby Boomers consume content:
If you're targeting Baby Boomers, you'll be better off using Facebook as a primary distribution method. Don't use hashtags. Give them written content.
But if your brand is targeting Millennials, you'll need to focus more on Instagram, hashtags, and photos to have an effective marketing strategy.
Timing is everything
So, you just wrote a new blog post. Now what?
Do you instantly share it on all your distribution channels at once? Not necessarily.
You can add it to Facebook on one day and Twitter the next. Add a promotion to your Instagram story a few days later to drive traffic to your blog post.
Here's the thing. There is going to be some overlap between your followers on different distribution channels. You don't want to bombard them all at once with the same marketing pitch.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customer. They open Facebook and see a link to your new blog post. Then they log into Twitter and see the same headline.
Later that day, they're reading through their emails and see you emailed them a link to that blog post as well. This is overkill. Plus, it can annoy your audience. They want to hear from you, but not that often.
You also need to consider the actual day and time when you're posting new content. The optimal time will vary based on the distribution channel:
Use this as a guide to make sure that as many people as possible can see your posts. But this will depend on what you're talking about.
For example, let's say your brand is releasing some type of breaking news that's time-sensitive. Obviously, you shouldn't wait until the next optimal time to tell your audience.
You'll want to get this information out on all of your channels right away. But if it's just a general discussion topic that's not time-sensitive, it can wait.
Make sure your content is relevant
The best content is always on topic and relevant to your brand.
Yes, I know that earlier I talked about breaking news as an example of time-sensitive content that should be shared right away.
However, that doesn't mean you should be sharing every news story you hear.
For example, let's say your company manufactures home furniture. There's no reason for you to be alerting your customers with weather updates unless, of course, this weather is somehow impacting your business, such as a delay in shipping.
Also, earlier I said you should distribute content on different channels based on a specific time or day of the week.
But that doesn't work if you're promoting an advertisement or offer that expires soon, such as a flash sale.
Take advantage of automation tools
As I said earlier, you'll need to stay active on all your distribution channels. But I realize this can be a challenge.
You're busy. I get it. I'm sure you've got dozens of tasks you think are more important than posting new content.
If this sounds like your situation, you'll definitely want to try some of my favorite time-saving social media marketing tools.
Automated tools can make your life much easier. For example, take a look at Hootsuite:
The platform allows you to schedule your social media posts automatically. This can save you a ton of time.
Now, you can write a new blog post and then schedule the post on the day and time that will get the most engagement depending on the platform.
It's easier to do this all at once instead of manually posting each time.
You can dedicate just one or two days a week to schedule your posts and let the automation tools take care of the rest of the work for you. Plus, seeing everything in a calendar view on the platform will help you make sure the distribution is even.
Repurpose old content
This piggybacks on our last point. You've got to work smarter, not harder.
If you have some marketing materials or documents written a couple of years ago that are still relevant, you can reuse them.
You may have written a very informative blog post with lots of data and facts to back up your claims. But at the time, you didn't have the marketing skills to get it distributed to a wide audience.
The views and engagement on that page were really low. But that doesn't mean you can't bring that post back to life. You've got a couple of options here.
First, you can write a new article on the same topic, changing the title. Use your old post as a reference to make the writing process go faster.
Or you could republish an old post with updated statistics. Here's an example of how HubSpot uses this strategy with its blog posts:
Statistics change over time. This is especially true when it comes to marketing data. That's why I always try to use the most recent sources to back up my data.
HubSpot recognized that the research they conducted in 2012 was outdated. So, they updated the statistics and republished an old post.
Your content must be shareable
Did you notice anything else in the HubSpot's example above?
The post is plastered with sharing icons. Readers can distribute this content to others with just a click of a button through channels such as:
Including these icons makes it much more likely that readers will share your content. Otherwise, you'd have to rely on them manually copying your link, opening a new tab or window, and then sharing it with their friends.
It's too many steps to be an effective strategy that you can rely on.
There are other ways to approach this strategy as well. When you share posts on social media, you can try to encourage user-generated content as a distribution strategy.
Run a contest or promotion that requires a re-tweet, post, or share as an entry submission.
This will get your content in the hands of as many people as possible.
Leverage your relationships with influencers
As you can see, you don't have to distribute content alone. In addition to your followers, you should form relationships with social influencers.
These people already have an active audience engaged with their posts.
When a social influencer shares something, their followers will be likely to follow up to find more information.
Don't think you need to pay big bucks to work with a celebrity. In fact, you may have better luck working with micro influencers:
This strategy is valid on all your distribution channels. Nearly 40% of Twitter users have made a purchase based on an influencer's tweet.
Further, 70% of teenagers say they are influenced more by YouTube personalities than traditional celebrities, and 40% of Millennials say they can relate to their favorite YouTube stars even more than they can relate to their friends.
Make sure you find an influencer who speaks to your target market. It's a highly effective way to distribute your content.
Track your results
When running any marketing campaign, you've got to use analytics tools to see how effective your distribution strategy is.
Most of your platforms will have these tools built-in. You can track engagement with your email marketing software as well as your social media networks.
If you're using third-party tools to distribute content, they will provide accurate analytics. This is a great opportunity for you to evaluate your methods and make adjustments.
Stick with strategies that are working well. Fix the areas that need improvement.
Your content is useless if nobody sees it. That's why you need to figure out how to get it in the hands of the widest audience possible.
The most effective way to do this is by leveraging multiple distribution channels.
First, you need to make sure all your channels are active. Understand your audience and give them content they want based on their preferences and platforms.
Focus on timing and relevance. To save time, take advantage of automation tools and bring old content back to life.
Make sure all your content is shareable. Use social influencers to help with your distribution strategy.
Always track your results so you can determine if your methods are successful. If you follow these tips, you'll have higher engagement and conversion rates from all your distribution channels.
Which marketing channels are you using to distribute your content successfully?
Blogging is one of my favorite ways to drive traffic to websites and engage with audiences.
But those of you who have been staying up-to-date on the newest marketing trends know video content has been on the rise.
Blog posts containing videos have triple the amount of inbound links compared to blog posts without videos.
It's understandable why you might be interested in starting a video blog.
Based on all these numbers, it's safe to say people love consuming video content. But establishing yourself as a prominent video blogger can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before.
There are many factors to take into consideration.
What kind of equipment should you use? How do you behave in front of the camera? How do you promote your new video blog?
You're not the only one who has recognized these video trends. Research shows businesses plan to add more content distribution channels in the next year.
Do you see a common pattern in the top three responses? All of these are platforms for video distribution.
If you need some pointers for launching a new video blog or improving your existing one, you have come to the right place.
These are the top 12 tips for running a successful video blog.
1. Invest in a high quality microphone
Audio is one of the most important aspects of your video blog. People need to be able to hear what you're saying.
Having a quality microphone can help make sure you're not wasting any time recording your video. Sometimes, you'll have poor video quality. It happens.
But even if your video sucks, you can always salvage the audio and use it for something like a podcast. Or you can use the audio to voiceover a presentation or something else that's not live.
Your computer has a microphone built into it, but you can do better. Cheap cameras also don't have the best microphones.
If you want to take your video blog seriously and do videos often, high quality audio needs to be a priority.
Which type of microphone should you get? I'll be honest with you: I'm not an expert when it comes to this type of equipment. You'll need to do some research yourself.
That said, you shouldn't have to spend a fortune on this investment. You should be able to find what you need for roughly $100 or less.
Just make sure you're able to balance your audio levels with the microphone. Test it out each time before you start broadcasting so you don't waste time recording audio that's unusable.
Know your environment. Where do you plan on recording the most?
There are certain microphones that are meant for different things, such as being in a large room with echoes, outdoors with high winds, or in areas with crowds and lots of background noise.
Find a microphone suitable for your broadcast environments. It's worth the investment.
2. Make sure you have proper lighting
We've all seen videos that look unprofessional. They can be anything from those low-budget local commercials to your family home videos.
It's unacceptable for your video blog to look like this. It's important for you to understand the concept of a basic three point lighting setup.
Sure, sometimes you'll be filming on the go. It's not always reasonable for you to be carrying around all the equipment with you.
But if much of your video blog content will be filmed in your home or apartment, you should definitely have these lights set up like in the example above.
Lighting can do so much for the quality of your videos. These are the three terms you need to get familiar with:
Your key light will serve as your primary light. For the most part, it's placed on the right side of the camera and should be roughly three feet higher than your eye level.
The key light will be the brightest of these three lights. Angle it at a downward angle so it replicates the sun and has a natural lighting effect.
Your key light will create a shadow. To fill that shadow with light, you'll need a fill light on the opposite side of the camera.
With two lights placed in front of you, you'll need a back light behind you so the lighting looks natural. Otherwise, you may have some dark shadows on your shoulders.
The back light should be diffused-it's the least bright of the trio.
You don't need to spend a fortune on your lights, but you should keep in mind that inexpensive lights won't last forever. If you're in this for the long haul, it may be worth it to invest now and save yourself some money down the road.
Whenever you're shooting outside of your home or office, you need to position yourself properly in relation to natural lighting resources.
Use the sun to your advantage when you're filming outdoors. Try to position your camera so that the sun is at the same angle as your key light.
3. Add captions to your videos
Not everyone will be watching your video with the sound on. That's why you need to add captions to your content.
You'll have much higher engagement rates if your video blog has captions. Videos with captions have 40% more views. Furthermore, the chances of a viewer watching your entire video increases by 80% if you make closed captions available.
Are you planning to share your video blog on Facebook? Take a look at these numbers:
As you can see, 85% of videos on Facebook are watched on mute. It makes sense that captions increase the viewing time by 12%.
Think about all the different scenarios under which someone may be watching your video blog. The viewers might be at work, at school, or in a room full of people they don't want to disturb.
Do you watch all videos with the sound on? Probably not. Make sure you add captions to all of your video blogs.
4. Get yourself a decent camera
Let's get back to talking about your equipment. In addition to a microphone and lights, you'll also need to have a reliable camera.
Again, I'm not saying you need to spend thousands of dollars. Just make sure you take certain factors into consideration before you make a purchase.
Depending on where you'll be filming, you won't always have access to a power outlet. Battery life is really important if you're filming on the go.
You should also consider the size of your storage cards. You'd hate to be in the middle of filming great content and run out of space on the camera.
The physical size of your camera should also be at the top of your priority list. Make sure it's small, easy to hold, and convenient to transport.
If you don't have your camera with you at all times, it's not the end of the world. You can use your computer or smartphone for some videos.
But if you are serious about becoming a successful video blogger, carrying a high quality camera with you everywhere you go will give you the opportunity to film great content any time you have some inspiration or see something that's cool and worth filming.
You should also know the video format that your camera records.
Popular formats include .mov, .avi, .mp4. This is important to know depending on how you plan to edit, export, and share your videos. You want to make sure the format can easily be converted.
5. Find the right screen capture software
Sometimes you won't even need a camera to video blog-well, at least not for all your posts.
If you want to show your audience how to do things on your computer, you'll need to be able to record your actions with software such as ScreenFlow.
You'll have to pay for the software, but it's worth it if you plan to do any screen recordings on your Mac.
PC users can use something like Camtasia.
There are other options, but these are my top choices for Mac and PC. You can use them as a reference point for price and features if you're shopping around.
6. Be personable and engaging
Part of being a successful video blogger means you need to have a great personality. Don't be shy, timid, or boring.
If you've got a sense of humor, let it shine.
Remember, this is your video blog. There aren't any rules when it comes to the type of content you're sharing.
Just be aware that anything you say or do could affect your personal and professional brand. I'd recommend staying away from controversial topics. But go for it if that's a risk you're willing to take.
Mix up your content so it's engaging. Nobody wants to watch the same thing every day, week, or however often you plan to upload a new video.
7. Give your audience a reason to watch
This relates to my last tip about engaging with your audience. You need to answer a few questions about the direction of your video blog before you start filming.
What is the point of your video? Are you teaching your audience how to do something? What are your qualifications?
Sure, video blogs can be entertaining, informative, or both. But you need to make sure your audience has an incentive to watch.
Unless you've got one of the best personalities in the world, nobody will be want to just listen to you talk about your day.
Understand what your audience wants, and give it to them.
8. Learn how to edit effectively
You'll need to know how to edit your videos before you publish them. Just don't go crazy with this.
Lots of cuts and edits don't look professional. If you've got a Mac, you can use basic software such as iMovie to get the job done:
It's great if you've got multiple iOS devices you'll be recording on.
For Windows users, Movie Maker is the free software for this purpose.
These tools are necessary because they can help you accomplish basic tasks such as trimming clips and piecing videos together.
You can adjust the audio and do other edits as well. Just don't go overboard with too many effects, or it will look unprofessional.
9. Encourage users to comment
Another way to keep users engaged is by enticing them to comment on your video blogs. This can be easy if you position your videos accordingly.
Ask for their opinions. Try to spark a discussion or a debate.
If you take a stance on a particular subject, say something like, “Well, let me know what you guys think in the comments section.”
Respond to comments as well. This is a great way to keep people coming back to your content even when you haven't uploaded a new video.
If you're handling this effectively, you could be getting new comments on videos you uploaded months or even years ago.
10. Host an interview
If you think your content is getting stale or you need to spice it up with something new, bring guests on.
Sure, people may love you. But seeing the same face over and over again could get old and boring.
Bring in an expert on a particular subject. Do you have any connections to an athlete, movie star, or some other celebrity? Even if they are a D-list actor, a fresh face can help you build hype for your video blog.
If you don't have those kinds of connections, ask your friends. I'm sure you've got someone in your circle or in your family who is funny and has a great personality.
It's all about keeping your content fresh. Don't think your video blog needs to be about you every time.
11. Distribute your content
Once you've recorded a video blog, you've got to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. YouTube is the best platform for video distribution.
All of my video content starts on my YouTube channel:
The great thing about YouTube is you can always repurpose your videos after you add them to your channel.
Post these videos to social media. Add video blog links to your website. Send video content out to your email subscribers.
If you've got a written blog as well, you should be writing about your video blogs and embedding links in your content to drive more traffic to your videos.
12. Keep recording
You won't use every piece of film you record. Don't be afraid to tape as much content as you can.
That's why it's important to have a camera with you as often as possible.
You can always filter through the content later and discard it if it's not that great. Or save it for a future broadcast.
Regardless, it's important you're always recording so that you don't miss out on any opportunities.
Telling your audience about an experience is one thing, but being able to show them the video of it will make your video blog that much better.
With video trends on the rise, it's a great idea to start a video blog. But with so many other people out there doing the same thing, it can be difficult to separate yourself from the crowd.
Take the tips I've outlined above, and apply them to your video blog if you want to be successful.
Start by doing simple things such as getting the right equipment and editing software.
After that, it comes down to your personality and marketing ability to get your video content out there for people to see.
Follow these tips, and your video blog will rapidly grow in terms of traffic, view time, and engagement.
Which tools, software, and principles have you used to drive more traffic to your video blogs?
If SEO were an Olympic sport, it would be race walking.
Everyone is after that first place slot – but it's a long, slow, and strategic path to getting there.
By now, just about every marketer knows the basics of how to rank.
Find and target the right keywords.
Create high-quality content that your audience is looking for.
Prove time and time again that Google should value your content – and that it's worth showing off to their users.
It's a tedious and time-consuming process.
And if you do happen to make it to the top slot, it can be snatched away by a competitor at any moment.
Do you ever wish there was a shortcut that would allow you to breeze right past the competition and secure your slot at the front of the pack?
There is an underutilized market that might allow you to leapfrog your competition in a ranking list.
Featured snippets can act like your race track to first place.
By targeting this up-and-coming feature, snippets can help you rank highly in less time.
What are featured snippets?
When searching on Google, have you ever noticed the text boxes that jump out and answer your question before you ever even make it to a website?
Well, that is a featured snippet.
These descriptive boxes flip the traditional Google search result listing around.
Rather than giving you the headline, URL, and website first, you get the information, otherwise known as the “snippet.”
Featured snippets can come in many different forms.
First, we have the paragraph featured snippet.
Do a quick Google search of “why is the sky blue,” and you'll be met with this result:
This box breaks down exactly what makes the sky blue is an example of a featured paragraph snippet.
The paragraph featured snippet is the most basic of all the snippet forms.
However, it's the standard response to questions like “who is…” and “why is…”
For “how to” questions, you're likely to get a list featured snippet.
Let's say you clogged your drain and you're looking for some help before calling the plumber.
You jump on to Google and search “how to unclog a drain.”
These are probably the results you'll get…
Like the paragraph featured snippet, a list featured snippet provides the details first.
While less common, how to questions may also bring up a new kind of featured snippet – a video.
Let's do a quick search for “how to braid hair.”
The featured snippet you're given is taken straight from YouTube. You can watch the content right on the results page.
You'll also notice that the snippet offers additional options to make your search more specific.
These are known as refinement bubbles.
Refinement bubbles help to narrow down your search without needing to start the search over.
Another popular type of featured snippet is the table.
You're most likely to see a table featured snippet after searching for comparisons or statistics.
Here is the result when you search “biggest growth industries” in Google.
As you can see, the CollegeBoard table is pulled directly to the top of the SERP.
Featured snippets like these now appear in about 30% of Google results.
However, featured snippets can cause some complications when it comes time for Google users to go back to your site.
According to a study from Ahrefs, only about 8.6% of clicks go to the featured snippet.
Compared to 19.6% of clicks to the first natural search result, this is a major difference.
However, those 8.6% of clicks can still drive a massive wave of traffic to your website if you were previously struggling to reach the top of a SERP.
Featured snippets also have the added benefit of making your content competitive for voice searches.
With an estimated one billion voice searches each month, it's an area you can't afford to ignore.
When a user performs a voice search, the response played back to them is often a featured snippet.
In fact, Moz did a study to see how many featured snippet searches would deliver a voice response.
Pulling 1,000 searches that contained featured snippet results, they performed voice searches to see if the response matched.
71% of the time, the answer was yes.
However, they then broke down these results based on type.
Text snippets were 87% likely to be featured as a voice response.
List responses appeared about half the time, while tables only came up about a third of the time.
When we think about the nature of voice search, this isn't too surprising.
While lists and tables make for great visual results on a traditional search engine, the ease of reading a snippet makes text much more practical for voice search.
As more and more individuals purchase voice-powered smart speakers, the need for appropriate responses will only become more important to brands.
However, there is no guarantee that you'll land a featured snippet slot.
Like all things SEO, getting your content placed in a featured snippet slot takes some planning.
Here are the steps you need to follow to secure a featured snippet slot of your own.
1. Create content that answers a direct question
Featured snippets typically appear as a result of a direct question.
Moz posted a study on featured snippets where they compared results using the following question starters.
They found that most of these questions delivered paragraph featured snippets.
Questions beginning with “does,” “why,” and “are” resulted in paragraph featured snippets about 99.9% of the time.
“How” and “have” questions resulted in list featured snippets while “which” questions were the highest for table featured snippets.
Let's take a look at the featured snippet that appears when you search “how to tie a tie.”
When you type this question into the search bar, you're given a featured snippet.
However, let's look what happens when you simply search “tie a tie.”
The results are much more basic.
Rather than the featured snippet, you're given images and traditional results.
Simply targeting keywords associated with questions isn't enough. To land the featured snippet placement, you need to be sure to include a direct question.
Let's look at the way some other questions turn up on Google.
Say I want to learn more about who Mark Cuban is. I go to the search engine and just type in “Mark Cuban.”
This is my result.
While I'm able to pull some key information from this listing, the snippet isn't the primary resource.
However, let's turn my search into a question.
Here is my result for searching “Who is Mark Cuban.”
By simply adding the “who is” to my search, we get an entirely new featured snippet.
Again, you'll notice that the source of the featured snippet is not the same resource from the first search.
To secure the featured snippet placement for yourself, you want to be sure you're targeting direct questions – not just keywords that may appear within the question.
If you're trying to secure a list featured snippet, focus on “how to” questions.
Use “which” when trying to target table featured snippets.
Stick to the basics. “Who,” “how,” “why,” “when,” and “where” are all great places to start.
One way to cover a number of questions at once is through an FAQ or Q&A page.
Moz was able to help an orthodontist increase organic sessions to their website by 46.10% by targeting featured snippets through a Q&A.
A FAQ or Q&A page can help you cover many questions without overwhelming your visitors.
By providing short, scannable responses to questions you get asked frequently, you can provide high-value content to your target audience while also increasing your chances of getting a featured snippet slot.
However, you want to be strategic about the questions you target.
Which brings us to our next point…
2. Find the ranking opportunities unique to your audience
What is one of the key best practices when doing SEO?
But what is one of the most important things to consider when doing keyword research?
If the keywords you target aren't used by your audience, you may turn up in a search, but you're not going to get any clicks.
Featured snippets work the same way.
Targeting just any slot is a waste of time and resources.
Instead, you want to get your featured snippets placed at the top of searches your audience is already looking for.
You can identify these ranking opportunities in a few different ways.
First, start with keyword research.
To rank for a featured snippet, you need to be among the Top 10 results for that keyword 99.58% of the time.
To identify snippets you may be able to be featured for, consider what keywords you're already ranking highly for.
Next, think of a basic question that applies to your industry or business.
For this example, let's use “what is AI.”
Here are our results.
While this doesn't show a featured snippet, what we do get are some additional questions people are also searching for under “People Also Ask.”
Users can click one of the “People Also Ask” questions and get a short response.
These “People also ask” questions can be a great place to start learning about what your audience is looking for.
There are a few different ways you can find the questions your audience is asking.
One of the best places to look is on Quora.
Quora has 190 million monthly users, all asking questions, providing answers, and engaging in conversations.
Here is what you find when you search “what is AI” in Quora.
In addition to a response, you're also shown a list of related questions.
Like the “People Also Ask” section from your Google search, these questions can give you an idea of what people want to know.
Another great place to generate potential questions is Answer the Public.
By typing in a keyword, Answer the Public will generate some question responses.
However, these questions are computer-generated without considering important metrics like search volume or popularity.
Based on these suggestions, you'll want to do additional research to see what questions are actually being asked by your audience.
You can also use the SERPStat tool to pull some additional data about questions.
The content marketing section of the tool can break down different search questions associated with the keyword you've searched.
This can help you better understand which questions are actually being used and how frequently they're appearing.
SERPStat also allows you to see which keywords are already displaying featured snippets.
Within the Keyword Selection tool under SEO Research, you can filter results to see only those already featuring snippets.
This can help you hone in even more on the keywords you should target.
Doing the proper research before determining which snippets you'd like to target can increase your chances.
However, you need to remember that you're trying to connect with your target audience.
Pay close attention to their unique needs or search behavior.
In addition to knowing what keywords and questions are popular with search engines, take a minute to look through social media or other platforms that can give you direct access to your target audience.
The more you learn about your audience, the more likely you are to reach them through a featured snippet.
3. Maintain extremely high-quality content with the right formatting
If you've ever done SEO before, you know that keyword placement alone isn't enough to rank in the top spot.
In fact, there are dozens of on-page, backlink, off-page, and domain factors that are considered in where a piece of content ranks.
On-site factors include everything from domain authority to affiliate links – and this is just the tip of the SEO iceberg.
However, each factor revolves around one thing – user experience.
When Google decides which results should make the top of the list, it looks at which pieces are most likely to help the user.
The same applies to featured snippets.
If you want your snippet to be featured, you need to produce the best response to the question.
As we mentioned in the first point, your response should be in answer form.
You'll also want to make sure your response is clear, to the point, and your steps are not extremely detailed.
The results for “how to screenshot on a Mac” are a great example of how you can do this.
Within this featured snippet, we're able to see the entire four-step process of how you can take a screenshot on a Mac computer.
Each instruction is direct and concise, allowing the user to get the full amount of information right within the SERP.
You'll see that some steps have an ellipsis.
This indicates that there is additional information that goes with that step, but it isn't necessary for the instructions.
Keep this in mind when writing out your instructions. Start each point with a sentence that is capable of standing alone.
When formatting this content on your website, you'll also want to display it as the featured snippet type you're trying to target.
Here's what that same bit of information looks like on the Apple Support website.
While you'll see there are some additional bits of information, it's more or less formatted the same as the snippet.
This is particularly crucial for table snippets.
With paragraph snippets, you don't need to have particular formatting to get featured.
You do, however, need to use concise writing.
Here is a featured paragraph snippet that appears when you search “who is Elon Musk.”
Within this one paragraph, you get his full biography.
If you're hoping to target paragraph snippets, then try to fit all your information into two or three sentences.
To further increase your chances, use an H2 header containing the question you're trying to rank for.
Then immediately after, provide a short and concise response that also contains your targeted keyword.
Structured data, sometimes just called Schema markup, can also help you rank for a featured snippet.
However, you don't need to have structured data to be ranked.
Structured data just helps Google understand what your content is about. The easier it is for Google to see your value, the more likely you are to rank highly.
You can use the Google Structured Data Markup Helper to get started with your markups.
4. Know the other available answers, then do better.
So, you've landed the coveted featured snippet position.
You can finally relax, right?
Just like traditional SEO, a featured snippet can be snatched away from you before you even get comfortable.
With competitors making their own strategic movements to land that “0 placement,” you always need to be aware of what they're doing.
Even if Google deems you the most worthy of that slot for a little while, they'll constantly be searching the web trying to find someone who can answer the question better.
If you're not paying attention to the responses your competitors are generating, they may surpass you.
However, SEO competitors aren't necessarily your business competitors.
This is especially true when users are looking for questions.
Here's an example.
When you search “content marketing,” you can select between two posts – one from my site and one from Wikipedia.
While Wikipedia may not be one of my direct business competitors, when it comes to fighting for SEO rankings, we might as well be enemies.
If you're only monitoring your direct business competitors, more generic response or information pages may sneak up behind you.
There are a few ways you can identify and track these SEO competitors.
First, let's go back to Google “People Also Ask” questions.
Here are some related questions when searching “what social media is most popular.”
While neither of these responses answers the question of the most popular social media, they're still responding to the same audience and industry.
Both Small Biz Trends and Statista should be seen as competitors within this space – even if they're not necessarily your business competitors.
Once you have a list of a few potential competitors, you'll want to keep your eye on them.
Now, you don't need to check every blog post they upload.
You don't need to spend hours trying to scan their social media profiles.
Instead, you can set up alerts so you'll be notified whenever there is new content on a particular topic.
Google Alerts is your best friend when it comes to tracking specific topics or individuals.
You might set up a Google Alert that looks a bit like this:
Every time a new post containing the phrase “how many users are on social media” is uploaded, Google will send you a message or deliver the content to an RSS feed.
Here is an example of some of the results you may get.
Google Alerts also gives you some options to create an alert that fits your unique needs.
If you're looking for only results in a specific language, only blog posts, or even only posts coming from a certain region, you can narrow your alerts down.
You'll want to create a few different alerts around the featured snippet questions you're targeting.
In this case, you may also want to establish alerts for phrases like “social media users,” “number of Facebook users,” or “how many users on Twitter.”
Slow and steady may win the race when it comes to traditional SEO, but featured snippets are here to shake things up.
As snippets become more and more popular and new forms of featured snippets are rolled out, the competition will only grow.
By appealing to these newer areas of SERPs early on, you can leapfrog your competition – getting you more search engine traffic faster.
How have you used featured snippets to increase awareness or website traffic?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
Targeted Laser SEO provides SEO for surgeons, lawyers, and medical entrepeneurs, medspas, and spas. With an emphasis on local SEO and affordable SEO service packages for our clients, we are able to combine cutting-edge and innovative strategies to help our clients get ranked online in the most advantageous positions.