Facebook. New Year New Rule.

Tired of seeing irrelevant content on your Facebook timeline that has nothing to do with your page? Well Facebook is too, and this year they’re doing something about it. The globally known site has created a New Year’s resolution and it has to do with Engagement Baiting.

What is Engagement Baiting?

Engagement Baiting is the manipulation of Facebook’s algorithm, which purpose serves to make posts or certain pages rank higher is user’s news feeds. For example, we’ve all scrolled down our timeline and seen the post “Share this 20 times to receive a free car,” in other words Share baiting. Or maybe your more familiar with “Like, share and  tag 10 friends in this post for a chance to be entered into our monthly prize drawing” –Tag baiting. Whether you were tricked by share, tag, comment, vote or react baiting, were all guilty of being the fish who just couldn’t resist.

How are they doing this?

Facebook has decided to ditch showing content that only informs and entertains for content that inspires meaningful discussion between family, friends, and businesses. Tested over the last few months, the social media site has concluded that sparking meaningful discussions, and interactions, will help boost the Site’s traffic and cater more to what users want and need.

To demote engagement baiting, Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed at Facebook says, “We will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back- and forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to interact too.”

What does this mean for businesses and social media managers?

If your business is not producing content that stimulates reaction or inspires meaningful conversation than you may want to rethink your content strategy. According to Facebook “Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause or asking for travel tips will not be adversely impacted by this update”. Page admins that refuse to familiarize themselves with this update and continue to engage in spam-like posts will soon be familiar with the term demotion.

Businesses, brands and media that create wasteful content will soon come to an end as Facebook will no longer be tolerating these five types of engagement baiting- Comment Baiting, Share baiting, Vote baiting, Reaction Baiting or Tag baiting.  The site is encouraging Facebook Page Admins to read and understand the newly updated “Facebook Newsfeed Guidelines” in order to avoid demotion.

What you can do?

Don’t worry you still have time. Although the demotion process has already begun, the stricter demotion process has not yet been implemented. The delay will allow admins to update posting schedules and content that does not support the social media site’s “New Year resolution”. In order to remain successful on Facebook it is important that your company focuses on inspiring useful interactions, meaningful discussions and content that is relevant to your audience.

Here at CMG we specifically recommend referring back to our 3 E’s when posting. 1. Is this entertaining? 2. Will this cause an emotional response from the user? 3. Is this educational? If you can check yes to all three E’s, then you will not be affected by the new update.

Mark Zuckerberg states “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” Now that you know Facebook’s next big move, ask yourself what is yours? Will your business go with the status quo or try and implement strategies to get around this new rule. Either way creatively feeding the public content that’s inspires meaningful conversation and stimulates reaction is an important factor when it comes to successful business presence on today’s social media.

Jingling All the Way to Post Engagement- How Holiday Content Can Boost Your Brand

The stockings are hung, Santa is at the mall, holiday hits are on the radio… Christmas is here! But I thought this was a blog about marketing, why are we chatting about the holidays? Because seasonal posts may be the answer you need for engaging audiences all over social media. If you are experiencing low user engagement through typical posts on your brand’s social media, fret no longer, we’ve got a solution that might just do the trick.

Here at Columbia Marketing Group we try to implement the 3 E’s when creating content for social media. These E’s are Entertaining, Emotional, and Educational, so ask yourself when you post 1) Is this entertaining? 2) Will this cause an emotional response from the user? 3) Is this educational? If you can get at least one of these E’s in your post, you are likely creating quality content that will help build your brand. Ideally, you would strive to get 2 or even 3 E’s, if possible.

So how do posts about the holidays fit into this equation? Not only do the holidays elicit an emotional response from users, typically excitement or nostalgia, but they are also entertaining, timely, this content is usually easily generated, and often gets higher engagement than a typical post. There’s something about snow on the ground, presents under the tree, and classic films on the silver screen that make you relish in anticipation for what’s to come. When fans and followers see these yuletide posts come across their news feed it allows them to feel these emotions.

This holiday season, Santa is checking his list, not once but twice, so make sure you dot your I’s, cross your T’s and incorporate the 3 E’s into your winter social media strategy. Happy Holidays from the team at Columbia Marketing Group!

 

 

Millennials: Changing the Marketing Game One Day at a Time

Millennials – you can’t go anywhere without hearing about them, including this CMG blog! But, why? Millennials make up 23.3% of the US population right now and companies need to start marketing to this group before it’s too late! Your great aunt on Facebook may say that millennials are lazy, self-righteous, unwilling to work, and self absorbed. Now that may be true for some, but this demographic makes up a huge part of the US workforce and accounts for $65 billion in consumer spending per year. And this will only continue to grow.

Some of you may still be unsure of who actually fits in this generation, you may actually be a millennial yourself.  Millennials include anyone born between the years of 1983 and 1999. These people are highly aware of what images and advertisements they let affect them. They spend much of their day behind a screen, whether computer, phone, or other. So, businesses –  take note!

 

Want to learn more about how to appeal to this stakeholder generation? Here are a few tips:

Avoid “hype” and “fake news”

With so much content out there, advertisers are fighting for digital space, and if you’ve got it, you better make it worthwhile. Millennials aren’t going to waste their time on an ad or site that has low quality images, out of date text, misspelled words, or other errors. They want to get the information they need and get out. Use professional design tips and tricks, incorporate high quality images, and modern fonts and colors. These strategies will increase credibility and attract those hard to get clicks.

Be on the right apps

 

via GIPHY

With so many platforms out there it is easy to misstep when planning on where to advertise. Although Facebook was created to cater towards college students, millennials spend their time elsewhere. Facebook has become increasingly popular for women aged 50+. Millennials still have FB accounts to keep up with extended family or use the popular Facebook Messenger feature, but their time on the platform is scarce and decreasing as other apps become increasingly popular.

Instagram and Snapchat are the winners in the game for millennial attention. These platforms create small bits of information and allow for more creativity and customization for the user. You can check in multiple times throughout the day, you’ll likely never see duplicate or recurring posts, and you are able to keep up with friends 10 seconds at a time. On the other hand, 32% of millennials use Twitter, this is down from years past but this platform is still holding strong for many users. Social media is exceedingly popular not just for millennials but for many age groups. Being present on these outlets is essential for any company striving to have a strong online presence.

 

Cohesive branding is key

Millennials are less likely to follow through with brands that are not cohesive. Companies that have different messages, logos, colors, and images are confusing. Your marketing components should have a common thread that forms a connection in the minds of consumers. If the content that you release is visually related, targeted millennials will form a positive brand image in their minds and are more likely to interact with these companies in the future.

Invest in the right kind of advertising

Millennials are getting force fed information through every outlet they spend their time on. Typical ads are being overlooked all the time, so how do you avoid this? Eye-catching, trendy advertisements such as interactive video are more likely to catch the attention of millennials and others alike.

Avoid something like this!

A few great looking ads make a greater impact than a large number of ads that look “spammy” or like clickbait. Professional ads can leave a lasting impression. Low quality ads that come up and follow you everywhere can leave an even stronger impression in a bad way. Retargeting is a great way to get the attention of potential customers, but these buyers don’t want to see a cheap advertisement. A professional, attractive ad may be all it takes to turn a first (or second, or third!) impression into a lasting relationship. By investing your money in the right ways you are able to form a positive relationship that can turn into future sales.

 

Millennials have a huge amount of buying power, the time to start getting their attention and brand loyalty is now. By following these recommendations, you will start seeing a return from this influential demographic!

If you need to rethink your branding or advertising strategy, contact Columbia Marketing Group today!

7 SEO Tips For Your Business to Appear on the First Page of Google

When you are searching the internet, how often do you go to page 2 or 3 on the results list? I almost never go past page one, and I don’t think I’m alone. So how do you get your business’s website on the first page or even at the very top of search results? The answer is the art and science of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Here’s a few tips to improve your shot at being #1, give them a try and see a difference in your monthly organic (SEO) traffic!

  1. Keywords

If you ask any SEO expert or web designer they will tell you that keywords on your site are one of the best ways to improve your spot on any search engine result list. Keywords include any text that is able to be read by the mysterious “google bots”. These bots crawl on web pages and pick out content so you get the most relevant results when you search. Having accurate information on your web pages is critical to being found by the average Bing or Google user.

Pro Tip: Avoid keyword stuffing. These bots are no dummies, if you are advertising a car wash business and every other word on your site is either car, wash, or car wash, they know what you’re up to. Keep it conversational while still getting relevant keywords into your featured text.

 

2. Headings

Headings are the titles on your site, like keywords these hold a lot of power when it comes to optimizing your search engine position. Make sure you are making the most of your headings – this is what website visitors are going to see first, after all. Include your company name and major page descriptors in your page or section headers. Good headings increase your chances of being seen on search engines and help your site visitors find the information they need quickly to avoid frustration.

 

3. Responsive design

We’ve all been there, trying to visit a website on your mobile device and having to scroll back and forth in order to find the information you need. It’s 2017 people! The average person is going to be on their phone anyway, make sure that your site is mobile friendly. The site crawlers can tell if your site only has a desktop version, when they see this they automatically take you out of the top search results because they know it is annoying for consumers.

Via GIPHY

4. Links

Linking in and out of your site is a great way to improve your SEO. What does that mean? You can link from one page on your site to another, this is building connections within your site, something Google likes to see. You can also link to other sites, maybe link to your client’s pages, and encourage them to link to yours, this mutual linking is beneficial for everyone. Another way to incorporate links on your site is to link out to your social media pages, that’s what they are there for, right? This can draw your website viewers to your facebook page and vice versa, that way you can get more likes and a better position on the results page.

Pro Tip: In general, when it comes to backlinks, Google rewards quality over quantity. It’s better to have 5 quality backlinks from websites with high domain authority than to have 50 low quality backlinks from websites with low domain authorities. Websites like Facebook have a high domain authority whereas a website that was built last week is likely to have a lower domain authority.

 

5. Correct info across search engines

Have you heard of NAP? No, not the thing we are all begging for come 3:00pm – it stands for Name, Address, Phone number. This is the information listed on search engines when someone types in your business name. If the information is not correct or the same across all search engines it can hurt your chances of being seen by Googlers. Make sure that when you search your business the right info comes up, if not, fix it fast! These bots can see when the information is not correct and only the businesses with accurate NAP profiles will end up on Page 1.

CMG has a service called business power listings, we clear up any issues with your NAP listing across all search engines, this is a simple way to improve your search engine position and generate new customers monthly!

6. Site speed

Is there anything worse than a slow loading webpage? Well, yes, but it is really frustrating especially if you are trying to get information quickly. The site crawlers know what people like and dislike, and that includes slow site speed. One way to improve your site speed would be to compress any large images on your site. By compressing your pictures down to a more manageable size, you can still have that amazing image quality you want while increasing your download speed dramatically.

7. Changing content

2010 seems like yesterday, but in reality that was 7 years ago! So having content from then or from even before on your site is not a great way to get the attention of these bots. Google loves new content, so change up your site yearly at the least, update your information, switch out old pictures for new ones, anything to keep your site fresh. An updated site will not only appeal to customers, but it will likely get you closer to that #1 spot on the search results list.

Search engine optimization is a tricky game and there are countless ways to optimize your site to be more visible and show up in search results. These are just a few strategies to get on Google’s good side and increase your organic traffic.

Want to know how your website is performing? Need help doing some hardcore SEO? Let us audit your website and discover opportunities for you to capture your fair share of Google’s search space. Contact us today.

Why you can’t ignore Google Plus anymore

Google Plus is often times considered the red-headed step child of social media platforms. With only around 300 million of its 2.5 billion accounts still alive and kicking, it is a shock that the social media network made it to its fifth birthday.

The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.
The +1 on Google Plus is similar to Facebook and Twitter likes.

But despite its lack of hype, the platform holds the key to one sector that all other networks lack: search engine optimization (SEO). With a parent like Google, the king of all search engines, local businesses ought to adopt Google Plus account if it means increasing organic ranking on search engine results. By increasing this ranking, your business will stand out among your competitors.

Here, we highlight five ways that Google Plus can help strengthen a local business’ online presence.

1. Google Plus has a strong influence on SEO.

Building a strong network, or “circle,” on Google Plus has a stronger impact on search engine results than your Facebook or Twitter presence. According to one metric, Google +1s (comparable to Facebook and Twitter likes) had the single highest correlation with Google search rankings compared to other social signals. In other words, it takes more Twitter and Facebook likes to have the same impact on SEO as Google Plus interactions.

Building support on Google Plus may be easier than it sounds. Although there is a limited amount of activity on the platform, there’s a pretty good chance that your loyal customers and employees already have a Google Plus account. Gmail, the most popular free email service in the world, can be easily linked to a Google Plus account without the need to fill out a separate account set-up form.

If you, a family member, friend or loyal customer already have a personal Gmail account, you can easily build a circle and start generating +1’s on your company’s content.

2. Google Plus can amplify your Google My Business account.

Want to increase the visibility of your Google My Business account? Utilize Google Plus, an already built-in tool that allows you to post updates in the same way as a Facebook status or tweet.

If you create an individual account for your business, Google will automatically create a default account. You want to make sure to post to the "brand" account, linked to Google My Business.
The “Brand Account” is linked to Google My Business.

As a local business trying to attract people searching for services in your area, it is important to stand out among your local competitors. One way you can amplify your Google presence is to begin building an active Google Plus presence. And there’s a good chance your competitors are not already tapping into this useful tool.

The tricky part with this is you want to make sure that you’re posting to your “brand” account rather than the default account provided by Google. The “brand” account is linked to your Google My Business account, rather than the default account provided when signing up for any Google services account.

3. Google Plus pairs well with other Google services.

Along with platforms such as Gmail and Google My Business, the Google family also includes YouTube which reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the United States.

Your Google Plus account will strengthen your presence across all Google platforms. Already have an active Youtube presence? Strengthen your web presence by creating a Google Plus page for your channel or videos.

Another way you can utilize your Google Plus account is to provide a strong social presence. Want to respond to a positive or negative review about your business? Create accountability by interacting through your Google Plus account.

4. You can recycle content from Facebook for more visibility.

Google Plus operates a lot like a Facebook page. There are no limits on the number of characters to use and your website links will create a visual preview. To amplify your reach, posting to more than one social network will attract different users. Not to mention, Google Plus posts are more likely to show up in search engine results than Facebook posts.

If you want to maximize the number of keyword searches that drive traffic to your website, cross-posting content to Google Plus is a great way to increase the visibility of your content.

5. The more routes you create to your website, the better it is for your web performance and Google ranking.

Like mentioned before, social signals are likely to increase your Google ranking, along with organic website visits. Google Plus may not be the most popular social network out there, but it does serve as a useful tool for increasing your web presence. The service is also free if you already have a Google My Business account.

Interested in using this tool to increase your web traffic and improve your online image? Follow this quick guide for getting started.