Social media has certainly proven beneficial over the last two decades.
Once a communication experiment that later evolved into platforms figuring out just how much personal data people would make available to their “digital networks,” social media remains a huge part of Americans’ everyday lives.
For businesses, social media has created a way to send a brand’s messaging to the right people at the right time and hope your brand sticks out to them enough to be interested, let alone loyal throughout their lives.
There are a lot of benefits to be had from using social media.
Here are the the top nine reasons why it’s imperative for businesses to be on social media, and how it can help ensure your brand’s success.
1. Faster, Easier Communication
Customers can contact a customer service representative faster and easier now than ever before thanks to social media.
Businesses can also receive, review, and respond to customers’ grievances faster and easier than ever before.
Depending on the industry and the grievance, challenges may still remain, but the line of communication that once was somewhat challenging to establish is no longer nearly as difficult to do so.
It’s faster now than ever before to contact the right people — and oftentimes without having to even pick up a phone — and it’s only becoming easier as more people and brands use social media platforms to keep in contact with the people that matter most to their business.
Customers can now communicate real feedback in real time like never before, something businesses have strived to achieve for a long time.
2. Networking & Partnerships
In addition to the simplified lines of communication, there’s the aspect of general availability.
Let’s face it: there is a small part of the world’s population that it would be nearly impossible for most average humans to ever directly communicate with without the right kind of help (publicist, agent, etc.).
Also consider actors and actresses, athletes, and other high-profile people most of us Average Joes would never be able to interact with.
Social media helps connect us easier than ever before.
Heck, even politicians and policymakers have been incredibly available — and often faced with backlash — thanks to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
And while this makes for a fun experience when you get a “follow back” from former President Barack Obama or a retweet from your favorite rock band, it also holds endless potential for networking and partnerships that will help your brand in a multitude of ways.
Backlinks, shoutouts, increased referral visits, and increased branding are just some of those ways.
Building quality relationships becomes a lot easier with the streamlined communication we get from social media, and building relationships with key influencers earns a lot of value for your brand.
Some examples of the added value these connections facilitate are:
- Trust from others’ networks and audience members.
- The acquisition of quality backlinks (that offer SEO boost as well as, hopefully, an increase in referral visitors).
- Potential business opportunities.
3. Boost Organic Visibility
There’s so much potential value to be unlocked through social media, aside from the networking and partnership-produced backlinks.
In addition to the SEO value gained from adding quality backlinks to your brand’s website (by way of social media relationships, as well as the ways social media help accumulate a variety of link types to comprise a healthy backlink profile), social media also sends relevancy signals and other signals to search engines like Google to ensure popular content is easily visible and shareable.
It’s important to understand how social media affects SEO as well.
Google has repeatedly said that social media likes, favorites, shares, backlinks, etc. are not direct ranking signals — but there is a correlation between social media activity/popularity and how/why it is ranked by search engines.
So, even though social media shares don’t serve as actual, full-value backlinks, the people, brands, and webmasters/marketers that may see your brand’s content via social media then may very well link to your brand’s content (since it’s quality content offering real value), and those backlinks would certainly hold real value.
4. Increase Website Traffic
Social media channels are supplemental to the brand’s website and, if there is one, its brick-and-mortar location.
Social media is intended to reach different audiences in a personable, useful, and entertaining way and refer those potential customers you may not have ever had the chance to engage with previously to get to know and try your business.
This works well in all cases when done correctly.
Both website traffic and foot traffic should increase accordingly with the free or cheap utility that is social media. Let your messaging reflect that.
5. Customer Feedback
In the world of business, sales, and profits, regardless of what your industry is and who you are marketing and selling to, the focus has to truly be on the customer.
And success, both digitally and traditionally, is achieved by understanding — and delivering — the best quality customer service possible, and doing everything in your power to ensure your customer and potential customers have the best possible experience with your company.
Of course, the product or service you are selling should also be good, but there are always going to be unhappy customers. How we respond to the customers — regardless of how “good” or “bad” their feedback may be — is imperative to your business’s online success and its longstanding reputation.
Social media helps us maintain that reputation by giving us platforms to directly interact with our customers like we never have before. That also means we are receiving real customer feedback directly from the source, faster than ever before (and usually much more raw, too).
Businesses should be using this amazing opportunity to build their brand as a true, consumer-first operation, eventually building the brand’s reputation into one that can never be mistaken and is relied on for many years by an ever-growing customer base.
6. Impress Potential Customers
Keeping in line with maintaining your brand’s respected reputation is the opportunity to impress potential customers with how you’ve handled other, typically unrelated customer interactions.
People often turn to — even rely — on social media and online-review sites to get a good idea of just who a company truly is. Just like marketers, consumers are using social media as a tool to help them make better purchases and decisions in general.
On average, people take into account 10 reviews of a local business before making a purchasing decision. This gives potential customers the chance to see that businesses truly care about their customers even after they’ve made the sale that is so important to them and their business’s success.
While branding essentially involves each numbered entry listed in this column, it’s important to stress it as one of (if not the) most valuable capabilities of social media.
You may not see as high of a conversion rate via social media (depending on the business and sales structure) as you do other marketing mediums (paid search, organic search, etc.), but the impression a brand gives off and the reputation it built can be greatly enhanced and showcased through social media.
Messaging across social platforms allows us to talk about what’s most important to our customers, and lets us train them to keep our brands at the top of their mind when those important buying decisions need to happen.
Each platform is different in terms of what it does well, the demographics of the audience using it, and the kind of content (and timing of its publishing) you see posted regularly. Each brand’s messaging should be tailored as such.
And while your business’s conversion rate is likely going to be lower on social media than it is via email marketing or paid search, your business goal is always going to be conversions, so maximizing them on all available channels is really the name of the game.
Here are are some tips for increasing social media conversions.
During a business’s branding journey across social media, you’re able to talk about what’s important to the brand and its customers. Tell your brand’s story; build the legend as what it’s worth to the people who have devoted their lives to building it.
Share your passion and let others understand and support your brand. That is the real power of social media, and the biggest impact social media has on most brands.
You can show off your brand culture and personality, stand out among the rest for the traits that make your brand different, and attract new, quality employees and further improve your business even more.
8. Track Your Competition
Social media channels also allow us to keep our finger on the pulse of not just other marketing tactics and practices, but also with the tactics used by direct competitors.
And we can learn a lot from our competition.
No one is perfect, and we can all learn something. The ultimate goal is having the customer understand us and depend on us for our authoritative approach within our niche over our competition.
Our competitors are aiming to do the same things as us (establish and protect brand reputation and ultimately sell its products/services), so it’s worth us monitoring and finding out ways our business can do better to educate and entertain users, as well as the things our brand does well, and ways we can get better across the board.
9. User-Generated Content & Crowdsourcing of Ideas
User-generated and crowdsourced content isn’t just free and unique; it can also be awesome.
The larger the audience, the more potential the content has to really impact a brand and its messaging. Brands will receive and be able to (usually) use this sometimes-quality content — videos, images, infographics, memes, etc. — with proper permission, of course.
Social media allows us to ask for this user-generated content, then receive it directly, but there is quite a bit going in between all of that, too.
Most brand will have people post their content with specific hashtags. So, the brand isn’t just receiving the content; the content is actually being posted throughout social networks (being seen by each person’s network individually, as well as the brand and it’s network), and equipped with the required hashtags and other “requirements” (which usually includes following the brand, sharing directly with a certain number of connections, and plenty of others.
Getting the Most Out of Social Media
Each business has different goals and ways it measures success.
Social media can help achieve those goals, but it’s important to stick to the basics and use them in ways that help your brand succeed.
Every brand is different. Let yours shine on social media.
Sam Hollingsworth is a native New Yorker currently leading all search efforts for Elevation Ten Thousand marketing agency as its Director of Search. Specializing in general SEO, content strategy, and social media, when Sam’s not hard at work at the agency, he can be found at one of the many thoroughbred race tracks across the country (soon to go international), enjoying the great outdoors, and/or cheering on one of his favorite sports teams.
12 Tools and Resources for Software Developers in Insurance
If a developer designs a system for Big Data analysis or creates programs for processing and analyzing application data for mobile gadgets, in any case he cannot do without analytics tools and services. Big Data is understood as the basis of the business of insurance companies that depend on information, that is, probabilities, statistical data, customer information, and so on.
Today, for programmers whose responsibilities include insurance software development, many useful tools have been created that are suitable for their needs and corresponding to their skills.
TOP-12 tools for programmers of insurance companies
Every developer who works on coding for insurance products will need the following 12 “helpers”:
- BitDeli. It is a startup that has been operating since November 2021. With its help, programmers are able to analyze various data using a variety of metrics through Python scripts. An important plus of it is that the scripts can be of different levels of complexity, which will depend on the needs of the developers. They can even be self-taught. Suitable for analytics. The solution is easy to use.
- Continuity. It is a platform that was created with the aim of pulling businesses to the same level as the companies of its creators – Yahoo and Facebook. The guys created a data structure to implement a new level of abstraction over complex connections in HBase and Hadoop. The main advantage of the platform is the facilitation of Big Data development processes for programs that are designed to work with external and internal audiences.
- Flurry. This application is in the “store” format, which is intended for the creation of mobile programs, as well as for the analysis of their data. This allows the application to be improved.
- Google Prediction API. Suitable for developers who have the necessary knowledge to work with the Prediction API. This interface will provide a wide range of diagrams and topics, and will also allow the application to give correct answers.
- Infochimps. We are talking about a platform, despite the fact that the brand today is trying to become a company and become even more successful. As for the platform for the programmer, he gets the Wukong framework, which has a key task – to interact with Hadoop and its data, while using Ruby scripts.
- Keen IO. In 2012, this tool was recognized as the best and most effective in its category, and it is used in analytics by mobile application developers. Its plus lies in its ease of use. You need to apply just one line, which is inserted into the source code to be able to track all the necessary information from the programs.
- Kontagent. A tool for processing huge amounts of information.
- Mortar Data. It is a cloud service that has managed to replace MapReduce with a combination of Python and Pig. It differs in simplicity and clarity in operation.
- Placed Analytics. A tool that provides programmers with ready-made products. With its help, it is possible to obtain complete information about the use of the application by customers: where, when and how long it lasted. The data is especially useful for app owners and advertisers.
- Precog. It is an interactive environment for developing insurance analytics products based on Quirrel, an open query language.
- Spring for Apache Hadoop. A tool that greatly simplifies the creation of programs that use Hadoop, and also provides integration with other Spring applications.
- StatsMix. It is a tool with which developers can collect and analyze data received from programs using only the languages they have learned.
Take a look at the Fireart site for more interesting and useful information. The main thing to remember is that analytics not only assesses the quality of traffic, looks for ways to increase conversion and reduces the cost of attracting customers, but also determines the most effective advertising channels, compiles portraits of visitors and their behavior patterns on sites, identifies site shortcomings up to technical errors.
From Creation to Stellar ROI
Reaching the right customers with your Google Ads campaigns is critical to increase conversions. While it’s possible that scattershot advertisements could catch the interest of Internet users, it’s far more likely that this general ad approach will result in a disconnect between dollars spent and sales made.
To help ensure your ads are reaching the people in the right place, it’s worth leveraging a function in the Google Display Network (GDN) known as affinity audiences. Using these audiences helps pinpoint customer segments that may be more likely to purchase your products, in turn driving more effective and efficient ad spend.
But what exactly is an affinity audience? How do they work, how can you create your own — and what can you expect once you dial in the ideal customer segment? Let’s find out.
What are Affinity Audiences?
Affinity audiences are used by the Google Display Network to deliver your ads to relevant locations online. Given that Google’s network reaches more than 90 percent of Internet users worldwide, it’s well worth the time and effort to understand and apply these audiences at scale.
But what is an affinity audience?
Let’s break the term down into its component parts. Audience is easy — it’s the group of people that will see your ad. Affinity, meanwhile, is defined as “a feeling of closeness and understanding that someone has for another person because of their similar qualities, ideas, or interests.” The result? An affinity audience is a group of potential customers that share similar interests or qualities (similar to a buyer persona).
Using affinity audiences allows your brand to better align ad campaigns to buyers who are interested in what you have to sell. For example, if you’re in the coffee-making business but also have a focus on reducing plastic waste, your affinity audience might contain both people who love coffee and those who love the environment. Groups with both of these qualities are far more likely to buy your product than either group individually.
Affinity targeting, meanwhile, is the process of identifying the ideal affinities that align with your product or service. Consider the coffee example above. While targeting buyers who love coffee helps improve your brand placement, it also puts you in direct competition with a host of other brands all producing similar products. Additional affinity modifiers that narrow your focus — such as sustainable growth processes, fair labor practices, or environmental priorities — can help set your brand apart.
Do note that it is possible to get too specific with your audience targeting. For example, if your coffee brand targets audiences that prefer beans from a specific region that are collected, packed, and shipped in a specific way, you may end up with a handful of very loyal customers but almost no broader appeal. As a result, targeting needs to narrow the focus without preventing you from reaching the greater public.
What are Custom Audiences?
GDN and the Google Ads platform contain a host of pre-built Google affinity audiences — also called segments — that you can use to focus your marketing and advertisements. These include everything from pet lovers to do-it-yourselfers, TV comedy fans and users with an interest in news and politics.
But they can’t cover everything. You may have a product or service that doesn’t dovetail with existing segments — here, custom affinity audiences can help.
Understanding Custom Affinity Audiences
Custom affinity audiences are those you create yourself in your Google Ads platform to align with the interests of your target customer base. While Google will suggest different potential segment tags depending on what you input, it’s worth taking the time to do some market research before diving into the custom affinity process. This lets you pinpoint the audience preferences that align best with your brand.
You can create custom affinity audiences related to four criteria: Interests, URLs, places, or applications. In general, places and applications are the least useful of the bunch. Here’s why. In our coffee example above, there aren’t a lot of coffee-related applications that would set your audience apart. And while geography has some impact on buying behavior, it’s usually not enough to justify an entire segment.
Interests and URLs, meanwhile, can help you dig down and identify potential affinity options that may be shared by your target market at large.
How to Create Affinity Audiences
Ready to create your own affinity audience? Follow these steps:
- Log into your Google Ads account.
- Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience manager.”
- Select “Custom Segments.”
- Enter segment name and interests.
- Save your new segment.
Let’s tackle each step in more detail.
1. Log Into Your Google Ads Account
First, log into your Google Ads account. Here, you can see any active campaigns along with the associated affinity audiences.
2. Select “Tools and Settings”, then “Audience Manager”
Next, head to “tools and settings” in the upper-right-hand corner and then find “Audience manager” in the drop-down menu.
3. Select “Custom Segments”
Now you’ll see a list of any data segments you’re currently using to target prospective buyers. To create an audience or segment, click on “Custom Segments” and then the blue “+” icon.
4. Enter Segment Name and Interests
Now, give your segment a name and add a few potential interests. For example, if you enter “coffee”, Google will return interests or purchase intention ideas such as “coffees to make with an espresso machine”, “how to make coffee with coffee beans” and “coffee makers that make different coffees.”
5. Save Your New Segment
Finally, save your new segment with use for ad campaigns. You can create as many segments as you like until you’ve covered all relevant market bases.
The Impact of Effective Affinity Audiences
Ideally, affinity audiences lead to a definitive result: Increased ROI.
Here’s why: When your ads are shown to audiences that are interested in what you’re selling, they’re more likely to click through and purchase your products. As a result, the money you spend on advertising is directly offset by the conversions driven by these ads, in turn creating positive ROI. More generic campaigns, meanwhile, may still increase overall sales but not enough to balance out the spend required to reach larger audiences.
The right audience makes all the difference. Targeted, customized affinity audiences help you reach the people that want to buy your products, in turn boosting conversions and making your overall ad spend more cost-effective. Custom affinity audiences further narrow your market targeting, increasing the likelihood of revenue and reducing the gap between what you spend on ads and what you get in return.
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