Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Obligatory Prediction for Digital Marketing in 2017

For the past 10 years I’ve blogged a prediction about the year to come. Mostly I’ve been right, if sometimes a little too optimistic, so this year I’m gonna calm the hell down and go with what I know f’sure:

Video, especially streaming, is going to be bigger than hip-hop. Get on board or get left behind. Even Twitter released an update this week that’ll let us broadcast live video from its iOS and Android app (presumably powered by Periscope) and have you seen Houseparty (because Generation Z’s on it like Donkey Kong)?

If you’re not streaming Q&As, live events, interviews or product demos then you’re not part of the conversation. Start thinking about this and how you can use it, now. The only obstacles are time (make it), knowledge (that’s what how-to’s on YouTube are for – go crack a book or phone a friend), resources (invest) and budget (find it). Trust me, in 2017 your competition’ll be streaming the b’jesus out of everything, so don’t get left behind.

Fake news is the buzzword right now, and the big boys will have to be seen to be doing something about (I hear ABC and Associated are getting involved) and if the likes of Snopes, FactCheck.org and Politifact start selling their data to Facebook then hopefully it’s pretty much all over for the spammers – though at lot of these stories have their roots in the likes of 4chan and Reddit. Is this censorship? Probably. Did the Russians fix the US election by creating bogus news articles? No idea, but it’s more than possible. The solutions aren't rocket science - hiring human editors, algorithmic checking of reliable sources for citation and crowdsourcing accuracy. Expect this to get a mention in parlement and congrass and it not to go away any time soon.

There’s a chargeable product for the newspapers here, if they’re quick. A paragraph of flavour then a pay wall to read content that's guaranteed-accurate. They’re going to have to do something, with a further growing trend away from both print and online banner advertising.

Everyone’s going to need to at least be seen to address fake news, and social channels (not just Facebook) are going to have to start taking more responsibility for what’s published (instead of concentrating on banning pictures of breast feeding mums) to pacify the users (their source of marketing data, in most cases).

Facebook is still gonna be the daddy. With the development of feature rich messaging bots, with more practical and useful applications, expect to see an easy WYSIWHG creator inherent to the platform soon. Streaming is, obviously, gonna be even bigger.

Social media advertising is growing at 20% a year and the Facebook ad platform is going to get the bulk of any business’s ad spend – with it stealing a massive $1 billion out of print advertising budgets for U.S. newspapers in 2016. It’s comfortably estimated that Google and Facebook will take more than 70% of all money spent on display advertising online in the UK by 2020. Watch out for more video advertising, obviously, and more targeting and ad varients rolled out over the next 12 months.

Other channels, like Snapchat and Instagram, will still be big for the audiences they attract, and will probably still continue to pirate features off each other and from other channels. Something original will come along, championed by an initially niche audience, but god knows if it'll last longer than a month, what it’ll be, or if it’ll be suitable for business – remember Ello and Pokemon Go? The big boys will probably steal the best functionality out of any new channel and make it obsolete fairly sharpish - we may even see the odd legal case tackling such things.

VR is going to hit the mainstream and hopefully garner more acceptance. I’m a big exponent of VR and run a PSVR rig myself at home. I’ve been active in virtual worlds for over 10 years. Augmented is probably where it’s at, however, and we can expect some heavy investment in this area over the next 12 months. Layering digital over the real world has a billion possibilities; it just needs to sell its value to the public at large. A virtual reality version of Google Earth is now available for free on the HTC Vive, and it’s a thing of beauty, but the general user doesn’t yet have access to the kit (mainly due to price point). When it moves to Android we'll see some serious traction.

The AR market will hopefully hit an inflection point in 2017, expect to see more Smartphone integration as standard,  and we’ll see more and more uses of VR for event and stunt marketing. Expect to be handed a headset in the street to demonstrate an idea or product, any day now.

Twitter is (and it pains me to say this) becoming less important. Sure, it’s brilliant for news and publishing, but compared to Facebook it’s not where people are going to be spending their marketing dollars. People are losing confidence in the platform and, unless they pull something unique and of value out of their wazoo soon, the audience and the advertisers are going to be a lot more wary in 2017. I’m already starting to think it has less strategic value for some of my clients, which is a shame as I’m a big fan myself.

We can probably pretty much forget about Google+, unless it’s for SEO support.

In recruiting for social managers and agency employees, the polymaths and generalists will start to get some credit. People are going to be looking for younger brand evangelists and those who can generate passionate content, over those with long-term experience in other sectors.

Every year, for the past six years, I’ve said that companies will start to see the genuine return on investment of social media. Honestly, so few have. So, I think social media ROI will still elude many companies and those companies will get further and further behind – sad but true.

So that’s it. I’m keeping it fairly realistic this year. Obviously there’s a lot of other factors going on in 2017, like Trump and Brexit, but they’re probably best left for another time…

All the best for the year to come, here’s wishing you and yours a very social holidays. J

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Why Your CEO Needs a Completed LinkedIn Profile.

We do a lot of blogging and messaging at TANK for C-suite folks who want to have a presence on LinkedIn. Good on 'em. So they should. Taking part and being in the conversation is a big part of thought leadership and accessibility nowadays. If they're editing the messaging and putting in but don't have the time to write it or to spend faffing about with LinkedIn, we're a good solution.

Some, however, don't see why having a full LinkedIn profile is even a big deal. A paragraph in Summary, Previous Roles, Education, blah. It is and here's why.

Numero uno, they'll appear in LinkedIn search results. If someone searched on their last name and his or her Profile is incomplete i.e on ‘All-Star’ status, all the other CEOSmith's (or whatever) who are would rank higher and push him down the LinkedIn search rankings.

LinkedIn’s search algorithm actually work pretty well, filters by relevance and ranks a search by Connections in Common, Connections by Degree (1st, 2nd then 3rd Degree Connections) and (last but not least) Groups in common etc. All searches done on LinkedIn are bespoke and totally relevant to the individual searcher. Make sense?

Basically, LinkedIn's search algorithm looks for (and displays) results in this order: Profile Completeness (the fuller the better), shared Connections in Common, degrees of separation from Connections (1st Degree, then 2nd, then 3rd, yada, yada), then shared Groups in Common. If they don’t have a 100% complete Profile, their Connections or Groups don’t matter, they won't get seen.

Though the only person who can see Profile Completion (‘All-Star’ etc.) is the person who’s profile it is, the casual observer browsing a Directors Profile will certainly notice if some Sections are missing key information. It makes sense to be an ‘All Star’ to present well to anyone who comes across their Profile - say via the main company Business Page - without actually searching for it. Of course it’s possible the observer may not be ‘casual’ at all, they could be someone looking to connect from the media, a future customer/prospect, a C-suite business connection and unfortunately, we’ll never know how many opportunities we’ve missed because our LinkedIn Profile is incomplete… It’s all about impressions and we want the head honcho to appear as though he or she uses the platform, not that they just have a profile.

If you Google your CEOs name their LinkedIn profile should be number one on the first page of Google’s search results. If not it's because it's not complete and if it's there but not complete it currently clicks through to an obviously incomplete profile - either way that's not good. This is peoples first impression, online, of the head of a company. LinkedIn ranks higher than all other profiles including social networks and websites. If they're being found, but by via empty profile with no information, you're not controlling the message. Google loves LinkedIn when it comes to PageRank.

Extra Tip: Apart from being an ‘All Star’, we can fluff their Google PageRank and keep them there by loving crafting a full Public Profile and selecting ‘Full View’ in the Profile Settings then customising their Public Profile URL to be their actual name (or as close as we can get) - it all helps.

When it comes to LinkedIn SEO don't feel obliged to use all of the available space on their LinkedIn Profile to ‘stuff’ it with keywords thinking they'll rank in LinkedIn and Google searches. It might, a bit, but keyword stuffing makes a Profile look spammy and insincere. Far better to come across as a genuine and credible company representative by effectively telling our story and not gaming the system. A stunningly good LinkedIn Summary lets them put his best foot forward and offers sincerity (which is what we’re trying to achieve) - even the likes of Sir Richard Branson and The Zuck do this.

There are also some great organic ways to improve visibility for a company leader on LinkedIn (without resorting to keyword stuffing): Joining Groups, starting to engage in Discussions, being helpful to those communities. Creating original content and sharing it with connections - we do a lot of this (I'd tell you for who but then I'd have to kill you). We also share daily relevant content for our clients, just like we do on their channels like Twitter - and thank others when they do the same. With our CEOs help - and we do often need access to their opinion - we also Recommend and Endorse their Connections (if appropriate).

Getting our CEO (and our Marketing Dept., Sales Team, or any other sceptics) to understand the importance of a full profile and taking part is important.

Also, looking at a brand Page where the CEO doesn't have a profile picture messes with my personal OCD on a biblical level.

EDIT: Also, check out my post on How to Create a Social Presence for the C-Suite over on Simply Measured.