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Using Visual Media to Boost Your Marketing

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Clayton Wood – Enjoy!

Mark Anderson cartoonVisual media is emerging as a very important and powerful tool in online marketing. A survey released recently shows the presence of images as one of the deciding factors for clicking on search results. According to the survey done by Search Engine Land and SurveyMonkey, it is the fourth most important deciding factor, coming in after brand name, promos and discounts offered, and free delivery. This, along with the growing popularity of image and video-sharing social networks among users, presents a ripe opportunity for marketing in a way that entices multiple senses of your target audience.

Integrating Visual Media into SEO

A content-centric SEO strategy will naturally include visual media in the mix of content types to publish and share. Integrate photos, videos, infographics, and other types of visual media into your current content plan. Start with the following:

  • Don’t publish text-only blogs – as much as possible, include at least one image about your chosen topic.
  • Pay attention to the visual media you use on your website. The colors, the fonts, the images, and the videos all trigger reactions from your visitors. Combining knowledge of the psychology of colors and design and an understanding of your market’s interests will help you design a website that appeals to your market.
  • Brainstorm regularly to determine what images work for your brand and what trends you can turn into visual media. Creating a calendar for Hangout sessions, webinars, new video tutorials, infographics and other downloadable images organizes your visual marketing efforts.

Use visual media for your online content wherever appropriate, and brainstorm what types of media will work for your campaign.

Choosing a Visual Media Platform

With so many visual media platforms to choose from, how do you know which ones to use in your campaign? The answer will vary depending on your needs.

Pinterest is quickly becoming a popular and powerful visual media platform for many brands because of its improving features. It allows you to share different types of media, provides easy social media integration (by way of Facebook and Twitter), and allows for easy integration in websites (through the “Pin It” buttons, which are equally easy to install on your website pages). Its other features, like turning on location for pins, testing Promoted Pins, and creating an API that allows you to show your most popular pins, are all geared towards online marketing. If you’re not yet on Pinterest, or if you have a profile but you don’t use it often, it’s time to revisit your visual marketing strategy and include Pinterest.

Other platforms are beginning to show similar functionalities geared towards marketing. Many video microblogging platforms like Vine and Viddy also feature social media sharing functionalities that make it easier to integrate videos from their platform to your social networking profiles. The important things to consider when choosing what visual media platforms to use and determining how you will use them are:

  • Your target audience – How big a presence do they have in your chosen platform(s)?
  • Ease of Access – Check how user-friendly the platform is
  • SEO-friendly platform – How do these videos appear on the SERPs? It may not seem like a big deal now, but video is predicted to become the main medium for online marketing in 2014, and its appearance on the SERPs will become more important as video grows in popularity
  • Integration – How does the platform let you integrate its features with other social media sites?

Transitioning from Old to New Media

One of the biggest challenges in online marketing is to transition traditional media to digital formats. More traditional audiences still respond to the older media forms, while those who embrace new media get a sense of nostalgia from print and old school graphics. Transitioning from old to new media can happen in different ways:

  • Old school graphics and fonts are already available in digital formats. You can easily download these to your computer and use it when designing your content.
  • When designing your visual content, whether it is for your website, videos, ads, infographics, or other featured content, try using elements that are familiar with your audience. (Check out the image of the ad SEO Reseller used before for an example)
  • One of the easiest ways to transition old to new media is to take a high-res photo of old media and post this as your update. Something as simple as a note scribbled on a note pad gives off that old school feel some of your audiences respond to more eagerly.

SeoresellerFor one of our old re-targeting ads, we decided to use a design that contains elements of the flags of our three largest markets: the US, the UK, and Australia.

Encouraging Audience Participation

The great thing about the platforms that support visual media is that they also support user interaction. This allows you to include your audience in the content production process, increasing your engagement by encouraging audience participation in activities and programs you prepare for them online.

Get your audience to share their original visual content through different promotions. Facebook is a good example of a platform that makes it easier for you to include your audience in different visual content marketing activities. It wasn’t too long ago that they made the creation of contests, especially photo contests, easier for brands, and made joining easier for individual Facebook users. Their latest move to make visual content marketing easier is testing a new way of displaying video ads that encourages more user interaction. Combining these features with your social media strategy encourages more engagement and interaction from your audience.

Conclusion

The trick to using visual media for marketing is very clear in the points discussed earlier – it’s less about you and more about your audience. Finding your audience, knowing what they want to see (whether it’s a short video, an image-on-demand, or an infographic about your topic of expertise), and communicating with them using visual media is the core process to delivering more targeted and powerful visual content. Use this with your online marketing strategy and you’ll see more positive responses from your audience in no time.

ClaytonClayton Wood is passionate about communicating the impact that technology has in online marketing, and how inbound marketing helps small and large businesses achieve their goals for themselves, their families and their communities. Working with SEOReseller.com, he helps bring brand equity to many seo agencies.

How to Make Your Plan Their Plan: 7 Tips for Motivating Your Employees

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Amy Daniels – Enjoy!

motivation-postThe most effective managers recognize the importance of motivating their employees. As you head into what will hopefully be your most successful year yet, consider the following advice to get your employees truly on board with your plans.

1. Treat motivation as a complex topic.

Don’t fall into the trap of assigning a predetermined motivation to your employees. If your newest member to the team seems to focus on financial stability, don’t label him as an individual motivated by money. Dig deeper than that. Perhaps he wants to provide a better life for his kids than his parents did for him, or maybe he wants to get out of his comfort zone and travel to new countries. No article can predict what really brings out the ambition in your people. Treat motivation as a complex topic with deep roots, and take the time to slowly unravel what gets your employees into gear.

2. Encourage working smarter, not harder.

You have the ability to impart invaluable experience on your employees. If you find yourself regularly uttering something along the lines of, “Let’s work harder,” you may need to re-evaluate your strategy. Give your employees an environment with resources, support, and stimulating challenges – all while emphasizing community and purpose along the way.

3. Hire wisely.

Surely you already scrutinize for a motivated individual during the interview process. If you really want to get a feel for your potential hire’s outlook, try shifting away from the typical job interview questions. Job candidates are getting better at rehearsing the perfect things to say. You may find a benefit in asking questions like, “What personal accomplishments have you achieved in the past year?” Or you could try, “Describe how you dealt with one of the most difficult times of your life.”

4. Take care of your people.

While I won’t tell you that incentives are always the best way to go, it’s important to remember that employees can lose motivation if basic needs are neglected. Pay your people well, listen to their concerns, ask them to evaluate you, let them know they have a certain level of job security, and treat them kindly. See the potential in them and nurture it until they begin to see it for themselves.

5. Become a genuine friend.

Of course, you may not relate to your employees the same way you’d interact with your buddies on the weekends. But when you make a sincere effort to understand your employees and treat them like more than a dispensable resource, they’ll begin to take ownership as a valuable asset. You can’t make every second of the job a thrill ride for your employees, but you can and should challenge them, explain your thought process, learn about their personalities, make yourself available, and ask them questions beyond the small talk you save for awkward social gatherings.

6. Introduce – rather than enforce – your plans.

January is all about planning and organizational development at Duct Tape Marketing. As you draft out your quarterly goals and analyze where your strategies could use tweaking, try letting your employees be a part of the process. Recognize their creativity and intelligence and allow their input to morph your original agenda. You won’t always be able to follow this process. If the topic isn’t something that they can alter, present it in a way that encourages thorough questions and feedback.

7. Push yourself to become a better boss.

If you showcase your own motivated approach to work, your employees will likely follow suit. Recognize that somebody saw something in you that landed you the opportunity to manage others. It’s important not to lose sight of those qualities within yourself. Take the honor seriously and remember that the purpose of your management role, according to Glenn Llopis of Forbes, is to “protect your team and get them recognized in new ways.”

Ultimately, look for opportunities to improve a day in the life of your employees. Keep their aspirations at the forefront of your mind and consistently watch for ways to strengthen their skills.

Amy Daniels DTMAmy Daniels is the content writing manager at web marketing company StorageAhead. She oversees a team that creates and amplifies compelling online content. She will do almost anything to shy away from a boring workday and believes that her team deserves the same challenge.

5 Operational Tips Every Startup CEO Should Know and Follow

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Morgan Sims – Enjoy!

Op Tips_MSimsStarting a company from nothing is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. From a staff of 5 founders to 500 employees, there are several things startup CEOs should know and practice while growing their companies. Hiring and keeping the right people and developing the right company culture are two of the most important things for the CEO of a startup.

To operate your startup successfully, consider the following.

Hire the Right People

At the beginning stages of your company, you won’t be able to hire very many people. So take time to consider which positions you need to fill first and hire people who can do a lot of things on their own, since your small staff will have to deal with situations big companies have entire departments for. Your employees need to be innovative and self-starters because you won’t have time to walk them through every step of their jobs.

Consider whether you can first hire people on a freelance basis, so you don’t have to think about benefits and salaries right off the bat. Your colleagues and new employees are great resources for finding more people who would fit well with your new company, so use them.

Be A Good Communicator

Communication is key for keeping a startup going and retaining the best employees. Keep them updated on how the company is doing, especially when you’re in the launch stages and the staff is very small. Continuing this practice as the company grows is in your best interests. Continue to demonstrate passion about the company and your vision for the future, even when things seem rough. Remember, too, that communication goes both ways. Leave channels open for people to communicate with you as well, making sure they stay open with surveys and meetings as you take on more employees.

Be Flexible

As a startup CEO, you’re going to have to be flexible about everything. You’ll need the ability to learn quickly on your feet because things are going to wrong, ventures are going to fail, and projects will fall apart. Learn to adapt to these situations and continue to push your company to grow. You may have to change directions based on data or stop a money-sucking project right in the middle.

A startup probably won’t have enough money to employ specialists like lawyers or analysts off the bat, so you’ll have to get creative to solve some of these problems yourself. You also need to be flexible with employees. Offering telecommuting or nontraditional hours will help you attract and keep great people.

Give Your Employees Tools They Need

No matter how great your employees are, they won’t be able to accomplish much if they don’t have the necessary tools to do their jobs. It might be expensive to get good equipment and programs, but the money spent will be worth it in the long run. Imagine your internet failing in the middle of a big project. Learn more here about the importance of stable Internet connections.

Don’t just think connections and hardware, either. Consider apps and social media tools that’ll help you expand without spending a lot of money. The right software will give your employees the edge they need to help the company grow.

Cultivate Your Company’s Culture

The culture of your company needs to continue to appeal to employees as the company grows. Culture changes as you hire more people, expand into departments, and a bigger hierarchy develops. Your company’s values need to be clear to employees and potential employees. Let people know what working for your company is like and what your current employees enjoy about it.

Making money, attracting customers, and growing the business can’t happen without great employees. A solid business plan and great tech will only get you so far. The right people will be able to support the company, find opportunities for growth, and add even more valuable members to the team. From culture to flexibility to communication, following these tips will help you develop your startup’s best asset: its employees.

MSimsMorgan Sims is a writer and recent graduate who loves all things tech and social media. When she’s not trying out new gadgets or reading she spends most of her time with her dog, cooking and staying active. Follow her @MorganSims00.

3 Tips for Creating a Strong Connection between Audience and Content

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Steve Giangola – Enjoy!

Great content isn’t only well written but also makes a vital connection with current or potential clients. Consider the below three ways to boost the link between your company’s self presentation and your target audience.

1. Don’t be afraid to be informal

Although professionalism is always key, quality content doesn’t have to feel clinical. Make a joke, relate to readers’ experiences, and be casual as well as friendly while remembering you are representing a business that thrives on the respect and trust of a loyal base.

This means explicit references to the debaucherous antics of your past weekend are probably not okay, but comments about people enjoying themselves outside the confines of their respective industries are permissible.

Nobody wants to read content that feels like it was generated by a robot, so don’t be afraid to inject personality while adhering to the goals and image of a specific brand.

2. Create a sense of community

Clients enjoy original content because they find it useful, informative, and entertaining. They should also feel that it is being written by people that understand them. Of course there are many facets to any individual, but, as English poet John Donne succinctly put it, “no man [or woman] is an island.” Look for the common bonds between a business and its clients that go beyond services rendered. Here the type of valuable relationships that benefit both parties are formed.

Ideally, through social media and comment sections, a similar relationship will be forged between your clients, which will, in turn, help build a community. When clients begin to rely on your content and know their experiences are shared, they start vocalizing their ideas and interacting with others. Once this process is initiated, it is not only the content but also a positive and active community that will keep clients engaged.

3. Connect to other businesses

It’s a big world, and each business has a significant internet presence. This can be used to the advantage of content marketing strategies. Forging links with similarly minded associations, while avoiding advertising direct competitors, is integral to growing an audience.

Businesses can establish mutually beneficial relationships by sharing published content that gains exposure on two platforms and thus expands an audience’s awareness of business generated content. Even if it means temporarily sending traffic outward, cross pollination between blogs and social media accounts is highly beneficial. A network of great content will always be valuable to both businesses and clients.

For further tips, check out How to Convey Your Passion in Prose and 8 Tools for Finding the Content People Really Want at the Prose Media blog.

Steve GiangolaSteve Giangola is a staff member at Prose Media, a writing service that creates high quality content for brands. Solutions include blog posts, social media updates, website copy, newsletters, white papers, and emails.

Why Video Marketing is Underrated (and How to Use it to Your Advantage)

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is David Preston – Enjoy!

84334_91448_2_DP_video_marketing_image

photo credit: Andrew* via photopin cc

Words tell the story. Images illustrate it.

But video brings it to life.

Video, an online marketing platform that has seen a sharp rise in use and effectiveness, is an often overlooked means for driving relevant traffic to your site – and generating interest in your campaign. An effective video initiative can also bolster your other marketing strategies.

Galactic Café, developer of the recent narrative-driven game The Stanley Parable, got it right.

Galactic Café sent customized preview builds of The Stanley Parable to well-known YouTube users who participate in Let’s Play videos. These users have a tremendous following that tune in for their first impressions of new games.

The developers engaged these YouTube users directly through dialogue in the game. The result: Plenty of organic, viral interaction about the videos that boosted traffic for these YouTube users’ Let’s Play video as well as sales for Galactic Café.

A recent B2B Benchmark Survey revealed more than 90% of marketing respondents used video on a site, second only to the learn more/contact us option (nearly 100%). Video topped white papers and case studies (84%) and even live demos with company representatives (just less than 80%).

We’ll discuss ways to blend video marketing into your online presence, and how easy it is to measure engagement and see results from it. With the proliferation of mobile devices as our primary means of Internet access, and bandwidth and speeds increasing with fiber-optic Internet, it’s prime time for video.

1.  Crunch the numbers

Video content is easily subject to behavior analytics. Because video content is also tagged with keywords and ranks in Google search, you can use a video-hosting site such as YouTube to track interaction. Online retailers such as Amazon and Dell report an increase of as much as 35% when video is incorporated.

Video product reviews on Amazon nearly always appear at the top of Google’s rankings. 

Takeaway: Video content is also easy to share via social networks, and software developers have prioritized video integration in site creation.

2.  Reach customers on a deeper level

Our draw to video is subliminal, too. The concept of fusiform facial area suggests the brain processes categorical data about a person by facial recognition. Basically, the idea is that a person’s face is a factor in how they understand and process the message that person delivers verbally.

The right face on your video campaign can foster trust. A voice also translates your message in an essential way.

Takeaway: A face, a voice, and most of all, emotion, convey what language alone cannot.

3.  Grab attention

Words and images are static. Page viewers are increasingly scan readers. It takes notable effort to read a 300-word blog post, especially compared to a simple click of a video play button. When visitors hit that button, it gives you the chance to actually talk to your prospect. It’s your window to their home. 

Takeaway: Video is an extension of the personal connection we wrote about above, but with a familiarity of having “met” you through your video.

4.  Let your followers sing your praises

Happy customers are gold. You can harvest recorded testimonials at a tradeshow, and it’s best to get as many as you can – aim for at least three, maybe as many as 12. You can also hire a video crew to hold a one-day shoot. Know what key messages you’re looking for when you edit.

Takeaway: The Q&A approach will put your testimonial subject at ease, and will allow you to direct the conversation toward those key messages you identified.

5.  Go forth and conquer

A marketing video on your site is just the beginning. Start a YouTube channel. Incorporate video on landing pages. Post them to social media and your blog page. They’re easily shared through these channels, and the more a video is shared on quality sites, the better your Google page rank.

Takeaway: You’ll reach exponentially more potential clients with a well-made, well-placed video than with nearly any other means of marketing.

91861_92141_1_David Preston headshot_croppedDavid Preston is a husband, a father of 2, and a freelance writer for a variety of sports, entertainment, and marketing sites. You can reach David via his email.

Your New Competitive Advantage (It’s Not What You Think)

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Gabriel Mays – Enjoy!

perspectiveWhat’s your competitive advantage?  When we hear competitive advantage we often think of what we can see: brand identity, marketing strategy, etc.  But with increasingly commoditized products and services, shrinking margins, and copycat competitors we need to look deeper.

According to Wikipedia:

“Competitive advantage occurs when an organization acquires or develops an attribute or combination of attributes that allows it to outperform its competitors.”

So, how you run your business can also be a competitive advantage.  It’s an advantage your competitors can’t see and is therefore difficult to copy.  But to find these opportunities, we have to think differently.

A Matter Of Perspective

Have you ever seen someone get used to doing something inefficiently?  Maybe it’s your mechanic still using paper invoices or your uncle getting up to change the channel on the TV instead of using the remote.  For me it’s seeing my father-in-law use a 25ft. phone cord in the kitchen so he could move around and still talk on the phone.  I didn’t even know they made phone cords that long.  The next day, cordless phones had mysteriously replaced every phone in the house.  I’m not sure how they got there, but I can tell you that I bought them at Best Buy…

These are harmless examples of status quo, but this same kind of blindness happens to businesses and even entire industries.  We think we’re doing it right by following best practices and doing what everyone else is doing, but unfortunately ‘status quo’ and ‘best practice’ are often synonyms.  When we blindly follow best practices, we risk forfeiting any competitive advantage.

Thinking Differently

Let’s talk about the easiest way for small businesses to gain a competitive advantage in their industry today.  Best practices tell small businesses to be more active on their website, blog more, use social media, etc.   This advice is great (and works when done right), but the execution is often flawed because we’re just adding more things to an already overflowing to-do list.  We end up unfocused and unproductive.

How many tips on improving your business do you read every week?  How many do you actually end up using successfully?  We’re so busy looking for ways to do more that we miss opportunities to do less, and thus be more efficient.  Businesses that figure this out will develop a significant competitive advantage in their market.  Here’s how to get started.

Your Most Underutilized Employee

In our rush to embrace the latest trends, we’ve missed the quiet revolution that turned our trusty old website into a powerful source of leverage.  Your website is now your most underutilized employee.

The emergence of cloud applications like FreshBooks, Constant Contact, and Salesforce are changing the way we work by bringing enterprise power to small businesses at a fraction of the cost.  They’re simplifying accounting, invoicing, project management, CRM, and more with no software to install, maintenance, or personnel costs.

But to take full advantage of these apps we have to leverage our newest, most underutilized employee: our website.  It’s already available 24/7 and interacts with customers, so we can use our website as a business hub to integrate cloud apps directly into our workflow.

An Example

What would this look like?  Imagine a consultant uses cloud apps to manage invoicing, scheduling, CRM, etc.  Suppose she’s tired of doing repetitive data entry tasks for each new client and decides to automate by integrating these apps with the website’s intake forms.  Now when a client submits a form through her website this happens automatically:

  • A draft estimate/invoice is created (FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Xero, etc.)
  • Client details are added to the CRM (Highrise, Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Zoho, etc.)
  • A project is created in her project management app (Basecamp, Trello, Podio, Asana)
  • Attached files (images, documents, etc.) are uploaded and stored (Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive, etc.)
  • The client is added to the email newsletter (MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.)
  • An intake meeting is added to the calendar
  • A text message summary is sent to the consultant (SMS/instant text notification)

This is just an example, but what would your perfect workflow look like?  What apps would you use?   If you’re not using cloud apps in your business yet, try a few out to see which work best for you.  Most have free trials and some even have free plans.  When you’re ready, you can integrate them with your website.  How you integrate the apps depends on how your website is built and which apps you’re using, but you can do it for under $100.

Your new competitive advantage is a better engine under the hood.  It’s better processes, smarter workflows, lower costs, and higher margins.  The power of cloud apps will help you do this, and your website will help you automate it all.

“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”

- Jack Welch, grew General Electric 4,000% as CEO 1981 – 2001

gabe-150x150Gabriel Mays is the Founder and CEO of Just Add Content, which makes affordable, easy to use small business websites.  Just Add Content specializes in making cloud app integration accessible to small businesses.  Previously Gabe served as a Captain in the Marine Corps for 8 years, spending 2 years between Iraq and Afghanistan operating on small, embedded advisor teams.  Visit Just Add Content to get a free email crash course on building a smarter business website!

How to Leverage Phone Conversations with Customers

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Jeanne Landau – Enjoy!

Agents

photo credit: mycallfinder.com

It is estimated that U.S. businesses experience an annual loss of $83 billion simply because they provided bad customer service (or really, they didn’t provide ‘customer service’ at all). This number is staggering. Of course, people want good service, they are paying for it after all, and with U.S. consumers becoming more sophisticated and knowledgeable every day, they are expecting more, or else they are going somewhere else to get it.

On a more positive note, research also shows that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more with a company that they believe provides excellent customer service.

These are important statistics to keep in mind as more companies are developing a proactive customer experience strategy and implementing programs and tools to ensure they aren’t losing revenue due to a lack of respect for their customers.

Reducing lost revenue and increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty is attainable, but first a company needs to know where they stand on the customer satisfaction continuum, and then take action and make departmental and operational changes to improve the experience they deliver.

Every Department Has an Effect on Customer Satisfaction

The company-customer relationship is certainly not a simple one. Businesses often have multiple touch points with the customer, which occur across several departments, including sales and customer service.

Often call monitoring and quality assurance is thought of as relevant only to the contact center operations, or customer service department. However, responsibility of the customer experience flows though all areas of a business; from sales and marketing, to customer service, even accounting, and IT (think phone trees, websites, etc.).

Analyzing the Voice of Your Customers Leads to a Better Customer Experience

Audio WavesOnly the people that are using products and services every day, and working with customer service agents, can provide the most accurate insights on how well a company is doing at providing great experiences, while also providing the data necessary for companies to evaluate their customer service workforce and their performance.

So, how do they capture the golden nuggets that customers have to offer during these interactions?

The answer is simple. Since 90% of Americans prefer to handle issues or customer service needs through a live conversation over the phone, having access to the content of those phone conversations is critical.

However, some businesses get hundreds or thousands of calls each day, so managing the listening and data-mining of all recorded calls can be a huge undertaking, and certainly not one to take on manually. The best way to access that content is through the use of advanced technologies that record and mine audio files (the recordings of customer calls) for keywords and phrases. This is where the benefits of audio mining technology make the process manageable by automatically searching call recordings for specific keywords and phrases. This auto-scanning of call content makes categorizing calls based on subject, and reviewing calls for key points of interest much more digestible.

The search terms can be customized for any business, making it relevant and applicable to any size and type of business that wants to monitor calls for quality assurance, script compliance, customer satisfaction, marketing performance and any other business application.

As the topic of the customer experience continues to trend upward, it is increasingly important for companies to develop standards and guidelines to ensure they maintain excellent service standards, and to keep revenues moving in an upwards direction.

Sources:
Greenfield Online, Datamonitor/Ovum and Genesys
American Express 2012 Global Barometer Customer Service Barometer; Findings in the United States

Jeanne LandauJeanne Landau has nine years of experience leading the public relations, social media, and content marketing programs for 800response and CallFinder; delivering telecommunications solutions and marketing technology tools to businesses in North America. CallFinder is an affordable and flexible cloud-based recording and phonetic indexing speech analytics solution that allows businesses to easily record, categorize, and analyze customer conversations to gain business insights and improve the customer experience. CallFinder identifies spoken phrases within call recordings, highlighting calls that cover business challenges like customer satisfaction, workforce training, business and competitive intelligence, script compliance, and more. Contact Jeanne at [email protected] or 1-800-317-8060.

2014 and the Future of Social Media, Through the Eyes of Buffer

Enjoy this guest post from Leo Widrich COO at Buffer.

2014 is going to be a huge year for social media.

At Buffer, this is really exciting for us because we’re going through a period of change and refocusing. Our team continues to grow and we’re working hard to improve our recently announced Business product.

When we brainstormed how we wanted to change Buffer over the past few months to match the vision of the future of Social Media in 2014, we could only move ahead with the areas we were most confident about.

Here are a few of our thoughts on social media for 2014 and how we adapted Buffer to match it.

Pictures will continue to be hugely valuable

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen social media move further into visual media with a focus on images and videos. New services have sprung up to capitalize on the popularity of visual media: Instagram, Snapchat, Vine. Existing social networks have focused on this area as well, with Facebook buying Instagram and Twitter adding inline image previews recently. For Facebook alone, they drive lots more engagement than any other posts:

From our own experiences at Buffer, we’ve found that images are not only popular but powerful for increasing engagement rates on social networks.

We experimented with Twitter’s image previews by adding images to a lot of the tweets from our @buffer Twitter account and noticed a big difference in the engagement we received. To get a better idea of what a difference inline images made, I took the last 100 tweets including a link from our @buffer accounts (not including any Retweets) and compared the averages of the tweets with and without images included.

Using Buffer’s built-in analytics, I was able to look at the number of clicks, favorites and Retweets each of our Tweets received.


Here’s a quick look at the differences we saw:


To make sharing images as easy as possible, Buffer’s Chrome and Firefox extensions let you right-click on any image and choose to “share this image” — creating an image post with the link included:


The extension will be triggered like this:


Teams will need to collaborate more efficiently

We’ve seen in the past year at Buffer that team collaboration is becoming a bigger trend as social marketing teams grow within organizations. Team collaboration is something we expect to continue growing in 2014, with marketing teams needing various levels of control and input to be available for different roles.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 10.59.43 PM

To help with this, we’ve added team collaboration and approval features to our Buffer for Business product.

To start with, Buffer for Business customers can add more team members—up to 25 on our current plans (or more if you need a custom plan, of course).

Most importantly, though, our Business product lets you collaborate with others easily. In the “Team Members” settings page, you can add a new team member as either a Manager or a Contributor:


Here is how this breaks down:

  • A Manager can add updates to your Buffer account just like you can—they get added directly to your queue. They also have access to change your posting schedule.
  • A Contributor has more limited access to your account, so we’ll take a look at how this feature works.

This is a really great way to manage your business accounts, since you can give different levels of access to different team members. We’ve found this is super useful for managing Buffer’s social media accounts already.

More emphasis on analytics and reporting

As social marketing continues to grow, particularly into new areas like visual media, we expect to see a bigger focus on analytics and reporting of ROI in 2014. Social media teams will need to show results of their efforts.

One of the biggest reasons behind our efforts in building out Buffer for Business was to focus on more robust, detailed analytics.

View a graph of your engagement for clicks, retweets and favorites

The first thing you’ll notice on the analytics page if you’ve seen it before is that it’s now more visual: we’ve included a graph at the top of this page to show you how much engagements your posts have had over time.


You can choose from either a 7-day or a 30-day period to view, just above the graph.

Compare different metrics: Retweets vs. Clicks, Posts per day vs. Retweets, etc.

Underneath the graph are two drop-down menus where you can choose which metrics to display on the graph. You can see how your overall reach changes over time compared to your number of clicks, for instance, or how your number of Retweets compares to mentions:


Export all your data

Above the graph is an export button so that you can download a copy of your analytics.

This has been one our most-requested features and we’re happy to make your data available for you to save so you can get even more out of the numbers for your business.

Sort your analytics

The main table of analytics data hasn’t changed much, except for this very important feature. You can now click on each heading above the table to sort your data however you like.


If you click once on “Retweets,” for instance, you’ll see the table sorted from lowest-to-highest. If you click again, it’ll sort from highest-to-lowest:

More thoughts on 2014 in social media

If I had to pick 2 more trends that we’ll see a huge amount of buzz in 2014, I’d pick these:

We’ll probably see some other big changes this year, as well. Advertising has been more of a focus for social networks like Facebook and Twitter recently, so no doubt this will continue to develop in 2014. Especially with Twitter going public and continued pressure to deliver on revenue, more than ever.

We may also see more integration of different media types, like Twitter has done with Vine and inline image previews. Images, videos and soundbites can all add more context to a text-based update so it will be interesting to watch how social networks use this to their advantage this year.

What are you expecting to see in social media for 2014? We’d love your thoughts in the comments below!

leotwLeo Widrich is the co-founder of Buffer, a simple and powerful social media management tool. Leo and the Buffer team write more posts on social media, efficiency, and customer happiness over on the Buffer blog. Hit him up on Twitter @LeoWid anytime; he is a super nice guy.