Thursday, 31 December 2015

Using the Instagram Suite of Apps for Business

2016 Social Media Marketing Predictions From the Experts


Are you wondering what marketers should plan for in 2016? Do you want to know where social media pros are focusing their attention? In 2015, new platforms made a big splash and several popular networks monetized. To get you ready for what’s coming next, we asked 14 social media marketing experts what to watch for [...]

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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

8 Social Media Apps to Make Your Job Easier

8 Social Media Apps-01

Social media management isn’t as easy as sporadically sending out Tweets and posting pictures to Instagram. That might be fine for your personal accounts, but when it comes to marketing a business, there is a lot more involved. Connecting with influencers, finding the right content to publish for your audience, running ads and creating custom content are just some of the daily tasks that come along with social media marketing. In order to be more productive and keep some of your sanity, it’s a good idea to load up your social media apps toolkit.

Your kit should include apps that make some of the more tedious aspects of social media management easier. That way you can effectively streamline your workflow and maximize your results. Here’s our compiled list of eight apps that will help you accomplish all of that, and more:

1. Canva

Canva App

If you want to be successful on social media and stand out, you need to get visual. Tweets with images get:

  • 18% more clickthroughs
  • 89% more favorites
  • 150% more Retweets

Canva is one of the most popular graphic design apps for creating visuals in the social media industry. Whether you want a perfectly-sized Facebook Cover or a custom graphic to advertise your latest sale on Twitter, Canva makes it as simple as dragging and dropping the different elements into your image.

You have access to a huge library of free and paid photos, graphics and fonts that allow you to make professional looking social media graphics even if you have zero design skills. There’s also a Design School that’ll allow you to sharpen your skills a bit. Stop resorting to boring stock images and see what you can create in Canva.

Try Canva

2. BuzzSumo

buzzsumo app

In order to earn new social media followers and keep your current ones, you need to share great content. The best type of content is relevant and helpful for your target audience. One survey found that 21% of people would unfollow brands on social media because of boring content.

Why People Unfollow Brands

BuzzSumo is a content discovery and influencer outreach tool that shows you:

  • What content gets shared the most in your industry
  • Who’s sharing the content (influencers)

It’s an ideal social media app because you can use the information you gather from BuzzSumo to figure out what type of content you should create and share in order to get more traffic and social media engagement.

You might find that listicle or “how-to” articles get the most shares. Then you can start to share more of that type of content to generate additional interest for your social media posts. On top of that, you’ll also have a better idea of which influencers to reach out to on social media. As you build relationships, you’ll be able to get your content organically shared by top influencers in your industry.

Try BuzzSumo



BuzzSumo will give you a good idea of what type of content to share. But you’ll also need a source to get a steady stream of blog posts, videos and articles to distribute. That’s where comes in. is a content curation tool that will crawl the Web for content related to keywords you enter. The app will also give you a list of relevant articles to share around that keyword.

One great benefit of is you’ll get to share content from a variety of sites. A lot of businesses make the mistake of only sharing content from the same two or three blogs, including their own. When you’re constantly sharing content from different sites, you have an opportunity to connect with more people by including an @mention to the original source of the content. The content creator will more than likely Retweet you, which gives your business exposure to a new audience. The more influencers you mention, the more reach you have.


4. Google Analytics

google analytics social media

Some of you might be wondering what Google Analytics is doing on a list about social media apps. Before you start thinking we’ve lost our minds, let me explain. Measuring your social media marketing efforts is one of the most important steps of the process. Unfortunately, 41% of companies have no idea whether or not their social media efforts are paying off because they don’t track their activity. Google Analytics makes tracking your social media campaigns much easier. In fact, we’ve written a couple of guides on how to do it:

Within Google Analytics, you can track which social media platforms are bringing in the most traffic, which pages on your site are getting the most social traffic and even what your social media ROI is. Nearly any type of data correlation between your website and social media that will help you make decisions can be found through Google Analytics. Plus, this tool connects with some of the other social media apps on our list, so it makes for easy integration!

Try Google Analytics


if this then that app

Automation can be extremely helpful for social media marketing. However, you have to be cautious of what you choose to automate. In case you’re unfamiliar with IFTTT (If This Then That), it’s a very handy tool that lets you connect different apps into what’s called a “recipe” to streamline your workflow. For instance, maybe you want to automatically post the photos you share on Instagram to your Tumblr page or a specific Pinterest Board. IFTTT makes it possible by connecting your social accounts and automatically performing these tasks without the need for additional work.

The beauty of IFTTT is that its capabilities are only limited to your imagination, and you can make it work to fit your needs. Think of some of the most tedious and time-sucking social media tasks that you’re doing manually. Now, head over to IFTTT and see if there’s a way to create a recipe to automate it. Here are some time saving Instagram recipes to get started.


6. Sprout Social

sprout social app

A social media dashboard is one of the first social media apps you should add to your toolkit. The native interfaces you get with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn weren’t made for marketers. They’re meant for casual users, so each platform doesn’t have the functionality businesses need to be efficient. Your dashboard will serve as the home base for all of your company’s different social media profiles. Instead of having to log into five or six different accounts, you access everything from Sprout Social.

Within Sprout Social, you can:

  • Schedule your social media posts
  • Track brand mentions
  • Get in depth reports
  • Track social conversations
  • And much more

It’s also ideal for agencies and companies that have multiple people who handle the social media marketing efforts. You can track who’s publishing content, assign tasks to specific team members, insert message approval systems and communicate with your team in the dashboard instead of emails. A social media dashboard is a necessity for any business that does social media marketing.

Try Sprout Social

7. AdEspresso


Facebook has one of the most robust advertising platforms online. The data the social network collects from users allows marketers to ensure their ads are being seen by their target market. When you’re only running a couple of ads with a relatively small budget, using the native Facebook Ads platform is perfectly fine. But once you start to get more advanced, run multiple campaigns and do more split testing, staying organized can become a hassle. AdEspresso is a Facebook Advertising tool that makes running multiple ads much easier.

Not only does AdEspresso allow you to better manage your ads, but the app helps you optimize ads to improve your ROI by analyzing them and providing actions you can take to get better results. Even though Facebook Ads are relatively cheap compared to other advertising platforms, you can waste a lot of money if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you haven’t been seeing very good results with your Facebook ads or have been struggling to stay organized, give AdEspresso a shot.

Try AdEspresso

8. Repost for Instagram

Repost for Instagram

Have you ever came across an awesome photo on Instagram that you wanted to share with your audience? Unlike Twitter, Pinterest and Google+, Instagram doesn’t have a way to let you share content from other users within the app. You can only like pictures and leave a reply. This forced people to use workarounds like using screenshots and cropping out the image they wanted to share. That’s inconvenient, inefficient and sometimes unprofessional looking. Instead, the Repost for Instagram app allows you to easily repost content you find on Instagram and give credit to the source.

This is a good way to start networking with other Instagram users, or even share content across multiple company profiles. For instance, if the entire company attended an event and you post a group selfie on the company page, everyone else can repost it to their individual accounts too for more exposure.

Try Repost for Instagram

What Does Your Social Media App Toolkit Look Like?

It’s amazing how much more you can get done when you have the right tools at your disposal. Add these eight social media apps to your arsenal to find and share better content, streamline your processes and become a more effective social media marketer.

This post 8 Social Media Apps to Make Your Job Easier originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Your Guide to the #HashtagHolidays of 2016

Hashtag Holidays 2016 at social media, every day seems to be a holiday. As the Social Media Manager for Sprout Social, I’ve witnessed plenty of brands engaging in a wide variety of the “national days” that pop up throughout the year.

From Cheese Lovers Day to Read a Book Day, there really is an occasion for everything. So, to kick off 2016, I’ve decided to highlight some of my favorite #HashtagHolidays in a downloadable PDF and handy work calendar file, which I hope will be helpful to other social media managers like myself.

Jump to Sprout’s 2016 Hashtag Holidays calendar.

To help you plan for the year ahead, I’ve also compiled some tips on how to best leverage these Hashtag Holidays in your social efforts. Check out my guidelines below, and feel free to add any of your own thoughts in the comments section at the end. Let’s get started!

Plan Ahead & Know Some Dates Fluctuate

The nature of social empowers brands to engage with their audiences in an organic and spontaneous way. That doesn’t mean, however, that a lot of thought and planning shouldn’t go into joining a national day conversation. The same process behind creating preplanned content for holidays such as New Year’s or high-profile events such as the September 2015 Blood Moon should be applied to Hashtag Holidays.

Start by sharing Sprout’s Hashtag Holidays calendar with your team, which will enable your organization to plan and produce content months in advance.

Note: As you peruse the dates on our calendar, you’ll notice that some events are consistent from year to year (e.g., #ScienceFictionDay), some pop up quarterly (e.g., #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay), and some occur, say, on the first day of a certain month (e.g., #NationalDayOfUnplugging). The work calendar file—designed to integrate with iCal, Google, Outlook and more—will have the most up-to-date information, through 2020.

Research Before Engaging

Always look into a national day before participating, and know that brands can pay to play in this space. For example, according to The New York Times, The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum paid $1,500 to have Jan. 7 officially listed on There’s no harm in that tactic, of course, but you’ll want to ensure you’re not engaging in a date that may be owned by a competitor.

Media outlets can also invent Hashtag Holidays to help drive awareness to specific initiatives. In 2010, Mashable invented Social Media Day to “celebrate social media’s impact on global communication.” The media source drives awareness to its national day through campaign efforts like sponsored meetups and events, digital toolkits and, of course, a dedicated hashtag (#SMDay), which is included on our calendar because it naturally ties into all that Sprout stand for.

Note: Sprout’s Hashtag Holidays calendar is built primarily around engagement indicators: Brands are either already participating at a high rate, or there appears to be a solid opportunity for brands to step in and really own a certain social space. I tried to provide a good mix for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Keep Your Brand & Audience in Mind

While there are many national days floating around out there, that doesn’t mean your brand should jump on all of them. As with any other social post, it’s essential to keep your brand and audience in mind. Don’t force it. Participate in the days that naturally fit.

Organically Engage With Other Brands

Hashtag Holidays give brands the opportunity to organically engage with other brands on Twitter. These impromptu interactions help humanize a brand through a more fun and personal voice.

The playful exchange below between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on #NationalOldStuffDay is a great example of how a national day played a role in turning the Panthers’ preplanned content into a conversation.

Act as an Advocate for a Good Cause

Sure, there are plenty of lighthearted national days out there. But there’s also a lot of days dedicated to raising awareness for specific causes. National days provide an opportunity for your brand to act as an advocate and raise awareness for the causes you believe in.

Stay Cognizant of Current Events

Due to the sheer volume of celebratory dates, there’s bound to be some overlap between Hashtag Holidays, federal holidays and world events. It’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the world before posting on social. This is especially true for national day content planned ahead of time. For example, Tweeting about #NationalWineDay while ignoring Memorial Day might not be the best idea for American brands.

Help Us Celebrate

What are some of your favorite #HashtagHolidays? Are there any days you think certain brands should avoid? If so, why? Tweet us @SproutSocial, or share your thoughts in the comments below.



Embed This Infographic:

This post Your Guide to the #HashtagHolidays of 2016 originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Snapchat for Business: A Guide for Marketers


Have you heard of Snapchat? Want to use it to connect with your customers? Snapchat is a mobile app that lets you send public or private snaps of images and video to people from your smartphone. In this article, you’ll discover how to use Snapchat‘s features to connect with your customers. The Snapchat Demographic Before [...]

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Should I Hire a Social Media Agency?

How to Handle Customer Complaints Via Social Media


Are your customers leaving negative comments on social media? Do you need a plan to handle customer complaints? Responding quickly and appropriately to negative social comments can help you increase customer loyalty and retention. In this article you’ll find out how to deal with negative comments on social media. #1: Respond Quickly It’s important to [...]

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6 Tips for Writing Headlines That Drive Traffic


Are your headlines performing as well as you’d like? Do you want to write more effective headlines? Using a few simple techniques, you can craft headlines that capture attention and convince people to click through to your content. In this article you’ll discover six tips for writing effective headlines that drive traffic. #1: Begin With Numbers [...]

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Monday, 28 December 2015

Your Go-To Facebook Marketing Guide

10 Ways to Use the New LinkedIn Mobile App


Have you tried out the new LinkedIn app? Do you want to make the most of its features? The new LinkedIn app makes it easy for marketers on the go to do nearly everything they’d do on a desktop from a mobile device. In this article, I’ll share 10 ways to use the new LinkedIn [...]

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How To Create a Brand Ambassador Program for Employees Using Social Media


Are you looking for brand ambassadors? Have you considered recruiting your employees to help? When you empower your employees to talk about your company on social media, they’ll share a human perspective people naturally gravitate to. In this article you’ll discover how to set up a successful employee brand ambassador program to enhance your social [...]

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Saturday, 26 December 2015

YouTube App Rolls Out Interactive 360 Video: This Week in Social Media


Welcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in social media news. To help you stay up to date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention. What’s New This Week Google Introduces Interactive 360-Degree Storytelling on YouTube: Google brings Google spotlight stories to the YouTube app. This new storytelling [...]

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Accomplishing Goals: A Guide to Getting Stuff Done


Did you set goals for the new year? Want to be more successful setting and achieving your goals? To discover how to accomplish goals, and to hear about the Kickstarter campaign for his new book, I interview John Lee Dumas. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media [...]

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Why Your Brand Should Invest in Blab

Humanize with Livestream Blab-01

Marketers have seriously started directing their attention to live streaming—and for good reason. According to Nielsen, in 2014, time spent consuming digital video increased by more than 50% in all age groups. Simultaneously, Nielsen saw either no change or a decrease in time spent in front of the television.


Earlier this year, Meerkat and Periscope were welcomed into the live-streaming social space with an array of media attention, while Blab was quietly and quickly shaking things up. Founded in spring 2015 by the team responsible for the relaunch of Bebo—a visual social messaging platform scheduled for re-release in early 2016—Blab has been proving itself as a valuable tool for brands interested in entering the live-streaming space.

What Is Blab?

Blab is a live-streaming app focused on facilitating group discussions. A combination of up to four hosts can be featured in Blab’s live-video chat forum, organized in “Brady Brunch” fashion, with an unlimited amount of viewers tuning in. During the broadcast, viewers are able to connect with hosts through chat and can be invited into the video broadcast as a guest if space permits.


Blab for Brand Building & Increased Social Engagement

Blab allows companies the opportunity to have direct, face-to-face conversations with their audiences. The platform’s unique format can bring together multiple company stakeholders, organizational leaders and brand ambassadors for live, in-depth discussions. For enterprise and legacy brands in particular, this level of transparency and real-time interaction can help strengthen brand loyalty.

Engagement is also high. In fact, according to Blab’s CEO, the average time spent on the platform is 64 minutes, putting it in direct competition with TV, Netflix and other mainstream broadcast services. Heavy use presents an opportunity for enterprise brands to invest early, build trust and attract new leads within a growing, active and engaged audience.

Blab Best Practices

A brand’s business objectives and social voice should always influence how to approach Blab. Still, there are a few best practices to keep in mind.

1. Focus Your Topic

First and foremost, you want to drive value by establishing a clear topic for your series. Give your Blab series a concise name that clearly communicates your focus. Reinforce your topic with a related, custom hashtag. Promote your Blab hashtag on the channels that make sense, especially Twitter, which directly integrates with Blab.

Your angle should connect to your brand’s offerings, align with the interests of your audiences and strike the right balance between being seen as an expert and not being too exclusive. For instance, a hotel chain with a sustainability focus might launch a show entitled “Green Travel” (#GreenTravel) to discuss all things related to eco-friendly vacations.

2. Choose the Right Hosts

Leave at least one of Blab’s four host spots open so that you can cycle in guests or viewers of your show. This open space lets you to take advantage of what makes Blab unique while helping round out your brand’s expertise. One of the hosts should be an employee of your organization, to support your advocacy efforts, while the other host might be an industry partner, social influencer or media personality.

Consider who makes the most sense for your brand. But also invite interested individuals to do a test run. It might surprise you who comes to life the most when the camera is rolling—and who suddenly becomes shy. Also, avoid solo broadcasts, which can easily turn into a monologue.

3. Train Your Talent

Before a live broadcast, you want to make sure your hosts are camera ready. If you choose the right personalities, this will be much easier, but anyone can benefit from media training, and everyone should at least be apprised of your key brand messages.

That said, live streaming is at its best when it seems natural, so don’t let these brand guidelines overwhelm your talent. Simply empower your people to have a productive conversation.

4. Select a Unique Format

You want to seriously consider the structure of each show. Interviews are the default for most Blabs, which is why your team should consider some others ways of packaging your content to help stand out from the crowd.

Consider focusing the format of your Blab series around:

  • customer service hour to provide real-time feedback to your audience (Note: This idea requires extensive training and planning to avoid potential issues in communicating directly with a dissatisfied customer.)
  • A community Q+A session where viewers ask questions on air or in the comments to a particular guest or about the subject at hand
  • Company events that can add dimension by bringing in attendees and featured speakers
  • A game show setup where the discussion is turned into an audience activity with the potential to win prizes
  • An experts panel to provide varying perspectives on a particular topic, similar to a roundtable at a conference
  • Training sessions around your products or services
  • Your other content, repurposed from your blog, podcast and elsewhere, so that you’re not reinventing the wheel and instead maximizing all your marketing efforts

5. Follow a Schedule

Finally, set a schedule, and stick to it. Consistency is key when it comes to branding. In a Blab series, it establishes an ongoing cadence with your audience so that people know when to tune in and what to expect in terms of topics that might be covered.

When deciding how often to live stream your Blab series, determine what capabilities your team has to execute and maintain a daily, weekly or biweekly show. We recommend the frequency being no less than every other week to ensure you are consistently reaching your audience; otherwise, it will be easy for viewers to forget about your program.

Blab On

Now that you’re familiar with Blab and the platform’s best practices, it’s time for your brand to start engaging with its audience through live-stream video. In November, Sprout Social took the plunge and hosted its first Blab in coordination with a #SproutChat dedicated to navigating the platform.

You can follow Sprout on Blab here. Meanwhile, as your brand begins to incorporate Blab into its social strategy, share what best practices you discover in the comments below.

This post Why Your Brand Should Invest in Blab originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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How to Extend the Life of Your Social Media Content


Wish you didn’t have to keep creating new content? Do you need a better return on the content you create? Having a plan in place for posting, and repurposing your best content will give your content a longer life and make the most of the time you spend creating it. In this article you’ll discover how [...]

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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

How to Start a Twitter Account for Your Business

twitter account setup header image

One of the most powerful tools for businesses is still underutilized in today’s market. And that tool is Twitter. The significant push toward both social media and branding has made it nearly impossible to avoid this social space.

Whether you’re educating customers about your product or service, reaching a new audience or promoting your brand, Twitter is one of the most useful places to be to achieve your marketing goals.

When brands steer clear of Twitter, they usually use the excuse that they don’t know how to use it. Businesses also feel the network can be overwhelming for a single person. While some marketers might not have room on their plate to manage multiple social media accounts, there’s no excuse for being inactive on Twitter as a business.

To ensure you get off on the right foot, here are six simple and easy-to-follow steps on how to start a Twitter account for your business:

1. Make a Twitter Account

While this is the most obvious step, simply making a Twitter account is a crucial part to being active on social media. At Twitter’s site, you just enter your name, work email and create a multi-user friendly password for the account. Once you’ve signed up, you begin filling out some information for the rest of your account.

twitter sign up page

Don’t be afraid to enter your name and work email on certain questions. These features are changeable and easy to format for your business. Once you’re ready to pick a username, remember the shorter the better. You want to be searchable for your customers and others in the industry.

You want to get into the practice of making everything short and concise on Twitter because you only have 140 characters to use. Additionally, you want to think about when customers or other users reach out to. When they @mention you or reply to one of your posts, your username will take up some of the characters for the response. It’s always best to keep usernames limited for this reason.

Here are a few things to remember when signing up:

  1. You can change your username later.
  2. Your Twitter password should contain letters, numbers and symbols.
  3. Confirm your account before trying to personalize.
  4. Log out of your personal Twitter account before creating a new one.

2. Connect With Others

Like any social media network, it’s all about connecting with other users to share content. Luckily, Twitter is great spot for new users to build connections and the network even gives you a head start to find influencers.

connect with others twitter example

Twitter allows you to connect with others as soon as you fill out your profile. You’ll receive recommendations on who to follow, whether it’s celebrities, athletes, comedians, business leaders or musicians. However, you can browse for people that would match your business’s interests.

Once you begin to add people, Twitter provides helpful suggested users to follow based on your previous selections. Additionally, you can see related users when you’re on someone’s feed you follow. The process is extremely easy and unlike Facebook, Twitter is a great spot to add people you don’t quite know. The social network is more about building connections than intimate or personal networks.

3. Add Profile Details

So you’ve set up a Twitter account and followed new people–now what? This is the best time to add some flair to your account. You don’t want the users you just followed to come to your profile only to see something that looks abandoned. Simply click “Edit profile” on the right side of your screen below the header on your profile.

First, you’ll want to upload two different photos to your profile:

  1. Twitter profile picture
  2. Twitter header image

Your profile picture should be something that’s clear and distinguishable even as a small icon. It doesn’t hurt to upload a larger image, but Twitter will shrink it down to size.

As for the header photo, you will have much more room, so pick something visually striking. All the top businesses that operate on Twitter use appealing photos to engage readers on their profile.

zagat twitter header image example

apple music twitter header example

From this same screen, you can update basic profile information. You can catch up on our previous Twitter bio ideas post to get some help. In your profile, you can add a linkable website, your location and a 140-character bio that is linkable and respondent to hashtags and @mentions.

edit twitter bio image sample

Try to convey what your business or brand is about as succinctly as possible. Don’t go overboard with buzzwords or hashtags. You should make your Twitter bio clean and accessible. If you want to update the color scheme of your entire profile, there’s also a button for “Theme color.” Use a color that matches with your brand so everything seems uniform with your logo and company colors.

4. Start Sending Tweets

Now that everything is ready, you’re set to start sending Tweets. Remember, each tweet only allows 140 characters (including Twitter usernames and links). This will help you keep your messages short and sweet, which is much of the allure to Twitter. Aim to be concise without getting too casual. Your business won’t look very professional if you use Internet lingo shorthand.

Abbreviations like TBT (throw back Thursday) and ICYMI (in case you missed it) are perfectly fine for businesses to shorten their message. On the other hand, using words like “ur” for you are and “cuz” for because can seem unprofessional.

Twitter provides two sample posts that you can start with, complete with the #myfirstTweet hashtag. If you want to start with something more unique, you can compose your own first tweet in the text field below the samples. Hit the “Tweet” button and you’ll be off and running.

5. Engage

One of the best things about Twitter is how well you can engage with others. You can do this by asking other users for Retweets, followbacks or answers to your questions. You also should continually Tweet from your profile. There’s nothing worse than a stagnant Twitter account, and simply put, you won’t get much interaction if you give little effort.

Instead, try to schedule Tweets out each day and at specific times that work for your followers. Peak post times always seem to be up in the air, but with Sprout Social’s Viral Post feature, you can schedule Tweets to be sent at the time when your followers are most active on Twitter.

It’s also good idea to be visual on Twitter whenever possible. This doesn’t mean you need an image in every single Tweet, but trends show more social media users engage with visuals than plain text.

Engagement is all about communication. This is why it’s important to collaborate with other influencers. With the right connections, you can promote other brands on your profile to get shout-outs on their site. Generally you want to use Twitter to showcase your brand’s personality to connect with others. The more active you are on Twitter, the likelier you’ll engage with new users and gain a better following.

6. Integrate With Sprout Social

To completely harmonize your Twitter business experience, connect your profile to Sprout Social to get the most out of your social media campaign. By linking your profile to our platform, you’ll be able to:

  • Monitor social networks for mentions of your brand
  • Create and schedule all of your social posts in advance
  • Pull unlimited presentation-ready reports on your success
  • Shorten links automatically in the compose box
  • Track hashtags associated with your brand
  • Automatically post content via RSS from your trusted sites

Through these features, and many more, make sure you have a Twitter management tool you can trust and use to monitor your activity and engagement.

twitter engagement statistics example

Build Your Social Media Knowledge

Twitter is just like any other social network, it takes time to master. However, it doesn’t have to be a strenuous process to get out and start Tweeting. Remember, the most important key to being successful on Twitter is staying active. If you’re still worried about how to use Twitter effectively, take a look back at numerous posts about Twitter today!

This post How to Start a Twitter Account for Your Business originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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How to Speed Up Your Social Media Content Production


Are you spending too much time posting content to social media and not enough time engaging? Do you want an effective strategy for creating social media content quickly? By creating and scheduling content in batches, you’ll be able to make more efficient use of your time on social media. In this article you’ll discover an [...]

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How to Find Local Customers With Twitter


Do you use Twitter for your business? Looking for ways to connect with local customers? There are tactics you can use to improve the visibility of your local business and identify potential leads. In this post you’ll discover three ways to connect with local customers on Twitter. #1: Add Location Data to Your Tweets Enabling location [...]

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Monday, 21 December 2015

7 Highly Effective SEO Tips for Bloggers

seo tips for bloggers cover art

Search engine optimization (SEO) gets a bad rap among bloggers. On one hand, search engines are one of the top traffic generators for most blogs. But on the other end, there’s a false belief that writing “SEO optimized content” means stuffing keywords into paragraphs and headers, resulting in barely readable blog posts. However, that’s not what SEO is about.

At its most basic level, SEO is about showing search engines like Google and Bing that your blog is a relevant resource for people searching for information about your topic/industry. Figuring out how to relay to search engines that your website is relevant to different queries is where a lot of bloggers and marketers get lost. This can eventually lead bloggers to tactics that could potentially harm their websites.

There are always new SEO tips for bloggers popping up around the Web. It’s even more difficult for new bloggers to get a grasp of what they’re supposed to do when it comes to getting content to show up higher in search engines. It seems like the go-to tactics are popular one day, and become absolutely toxic a few months later.

Despite several changes to the algorithm Google uses to determine where your content will rank for different queries, the best practices for SEO have remained fairly consistent over the years. If you can stick to these concepts and tactics, you’ll be much more confident. No one wants to be the anxious marketer having sleepless nights because of rumors of Google updating Panda or Penguin on Webmaster.

Here are seven highly effective SEO tips for bloggers that you need to start implementing right now:

1. Write for Your Audience

When “SEO content” became a buzzword, we started to see some pretty big drops in the quality of writing from bloggers. They were starting to write specifically for search engines (robots) instead of people. Unfortunately, some bloggers still write this way today. But luckily it has gotten a lot better, especially after the Hummingbird update and the trend toward voice searches.

The Hummingbird update was created to help Google better understand the [em]intent[/em] of searches. For instance, if you were to Google “places to get burgers,” Google would interpret that as meaning you’re looking for local restaurants.

This impacted SEO because search engines are catering toward answering questions and semantic search, rather than just being focused on keywords. Think about it. When you use Google, Bing, YouTube or even Siri, you’re usually looking for the answer to a question. Take that concept and apply it to your blog. Your content should be written in a way that answers your target audience’s specific questions,. Your blog should not just be a place to rank for a specific keyword.

Here’s a real-life example. In our recent post on how to run a Twitter audit, we walked you through the step-by-step process of performing an audit. The audience the article caters to are people who want to learn how to audit their Twitter accounts, not people who are just interested in what a Twitter audit is. The content answers questions like “what’s included in a Twitter audit?” and “how can I improve my Twitter account?”

Shift your focus away from thinking about keywords, and more toward providing content that solves the problems of your target audience. You can use Quora, forums, social media and other resources to find out what your audience’s struggles are. Then provide the solution with your blog.

2: Relationship Building Is the Best Form of Link Building

Getting other websites to link to your content is still one of the strongest search engine ranking factors according to data from Moz. Over the years, bloggers have tried everything from spammy directory sites to buying links from low quality blogs in order to get as many links pointing to their website as possible.

search engine ranking factors moz

As search engines began to penalize sites engaging in “black hat” link building tactics, bloggers were forced to become more creative with how they got backlinks from other sites. We hate to break it to you, but there is no magic secret to link building. The one strategy that has stood the test of time is building relationships. People link to sites they trust.

Start by making a list of websites, influencers and authorities in your industry. Then think of ways you can get on their radar, usually by offering some type of value to them. For instance, you could include authorities in a blogger roundup post, or engage with popular websites on social media.

After you start to form a relationship, they’ll be much more likely to link to your content on their own site. You could even work together on future projects that would put you in front of a wider audience while earning a backlink or two in the process. Even if you don’t get a backlink, just getting influencers to start sharing your content will have a huge impact. Having just one influential person share your content can result in 31.8% more social shares.

Number of Influencers Sharing

3: Nail On-Page SEO Basics

In the same Moz study mentioned earlier, the second-most important ranking factor was on-page optimization. The great part about on-page SEO is you have a lot more control than off-page factors like backlinks. There is a lot that goes into on-page SEO, but you don’t have to be extremely technical to get started. Just doing the basics will put you ahead of the game.

SEO friendly URL’s: The URL for your website should clearly show what the page is about. Let’s say you had a blog post about the best ugly Christmas sweaters. Instead of “;, it should be “; Keep your URL limited to roughly 2-5 words and include your target keyword.

Meta title: A meta title helps search engines determine the main topic of a page. It’s what shows up at the top of your browser, and also in search results. Include your target keyword in your meta title, but keep it natural. No keyword stuffing!

H1 tag: Every page on your site should have an H1 tag. It’s the headline of the page. If you use WordPress, then the post title will automatically be given the H1 tag. However, sometimes certain themes will override this feature so it’s always nice to do a double check.

Subheadings: In addition to the H1 tag, you should also use subheading tags like h2 and h3 to clearly structure your posts. The subheadings make it easier for readers and search engines to navigate your content.

Images: Adding multimedia in your posts makes them more visually appealing. When it comes to optimizing your images, one of the most important tasks is setting an alt tag. Since search engine bots don’t see visuals and only text, alt tags allow them to know the content of an image. Your alt tags should describe the images you’re adding.

Alt Text Image Tag

Outbound links: Adding links to relevant content within your posts helps search engines better understand what the topic of your content is. Not only that, but you can reach out to sites you link to and build a relationship. In turn, they might share your post with their audience.

Internal links: If you’ve been blogging for a while, you should have a solid library of content that you can interlink. Adding internal links (links from one of your posts to another post on your site) helps search engines better understand the topic of your blog content, and keeps people on your site longer.

Usability: It sounds simple, but so many bloggers overlook the importance of having a site that functions correctly. Do all of the images in your content work? Are there broken links? Does your content load quickly? All of these factors affect user experience, which is very important for on-page SEO. We’ll go over some different tools to help you check and fix any potential usability issues on your site in tip No. 6.

Those are some basic steps you can take to improve your on-page SEO. The goal is to make it easier for search engines to understand the topic of your content. The more relevant your content appears to be, the better chances you have of ranking highly in search engines.

4: Get Familiar With Google Webmaster Tools

Remember back in grade school when the teacher would give you a warning when you did something wrong? That warning was your chance to straighten up your act and get back on track to avoid being punished. Well that’s kind of what Google Webmaster Tools is for your blog.

When something fishy is going on with your blog, Google Webmaster Tools will give you a heads up by providing you with diagnostics, tools and data to keep your site in good health. From the Webmaster Tools Search Console, you can see:

  • How many of your pages are indexed in Google
  • If Google’s bots are having problems crawling your website
  • If your website has been hacked
  • How your website shows up for Google’s bots
  • Links to your site
  • If your site has been manually penalized by Google

The beauty of Webmaster Tools is it doesn’t just tell you what’s wrong with your site, but also how to fix it. There is an extensive knowledge base of articles and a forum to help you take care of any issues Google finds with your blog. Getting setup is simple. Just go to If you already have Google Analytics installed on your site, it’s as simple as connecting the accounts.

Check your Webmaster Tools on a regular basis to make sure everything is working correctly.

5. Build Your Authority

While Google relies on algorithms to determine where websites rank in the search results, it also uses humans to manually review the quality of the websites that show up. Whether it’s good or bad criteria about a site, Google tells these manual reviewers to judge a site on its Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. Up until recently, that book has been unavailable to the public.

The book is over 150 pages long, and jam packed with great information. One of the key takeaways from the guide was the importance Google puts on authority. There are several mentions of E-A-T, which stands for Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness.

Your content should show that your website or the people contributing to the content on your blog, are credible and have some level of expertise on the topics being covered.

Authoritative content doesn’t necessarily just mean being written by a well known person. Crafting a piece of content that is the best resource on the topic could qualify. For instance, if you wrote an in-depth blog post about how to install a graphics card in a computer, and it has more detail and information than a post on a more well known site, your content could still be more authoritative.

As you start creating more great content and networking, your blog will start to get mentioned around the Web, which will help build your authority even more.

6. Invest in SEO Tools

Just like with social media marketing, SEO is something that can be handled manually, but it’s more efficient to use tools. There are hundreds of SEO tools available to help with different aspects of optimization. Here are some basics to get you started:

Keyword research: Keyword research is one of the most important parts of SEO. You want to make sure you’re creating content about topics that your target audience is searching for. In addition to brainstorming, you can use these tools to streamline the keyword research process:

Rank Tracking: Although keyword rankings are losing some of their relevance as personalized search results become more popular, rank tracking tools will give you an approximation of what position your content shows up in the search results for your target keywords. Here are some options to consider:

On-Page SEO: Manually trying to ensure that you hit everything on the on-page optimization list we mentioned earlier can be tedious. Luckily, these tools can handle the dirty work for you.

Link Building: As we mentioned, getting other sites to link back to you is one of the top search engine ranking factors. You shouldn’t use automated link building software, but these tools make it easier to find new opportunities to earn genuine backlinks.

Content Creation: Not only do you need to target the right keywords, but you also need to write about topics of interest for your audience. Coming up with new ideas for content is a lot easier with these tools.

All-in-one Tools: In addition to these tools, you can also consider using these all-in-one tools that perform several different SEO related tasks.

7. Create Linkable Assets

A linkable asset is a unique, extremely useful piece of content that’s so valuable people can’t resist linking to it. It’s like when you go to an amazing restaurant vs. going to one that’s just ok. You’re going to go out of your way to tell everyone about the amazing restaurant, but you’ll probably only talk about the one that was just ok if someone asks if you’ve been there.

A great example of a linkable asset it the ProBlogger job board. It’s a great resource for freelance bloggers looking for paid writing gigs. The page is constantly linked to in blog posts about how to make money blogging or paid freelance writing sites. Why? Because it’s unique and extremely valuable.

problogger job board

Here are some ideas for linkable assets you can create for your blog:

  • A free tool or app
  • Ultimate guide posts
  • Mega lists
  • Infographics
  • Online guide
  • Influencer round-ups
  • Quizzes
  • Case studies
  • Industry research or surveys

Before creating your linkable asset, look at the top-ranking content for similar topics. Your goal is going to be to make something even better. After you form your linkable asset, the next step is to spread the word. Try these five content distribution techniques to start promoting your new asset.

SEO Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Hopefully these SEO tips have given you a new outlook on how to use search engines to get traffic for your blog. You don’t have to be a Web developer or have 15 years of experience with SEO to optimize your site. Focus on creating awesome content (with proper on-page SEO) and building relationships.

The next time you start writing a blog post, keep these SEO tips in mind. You might be surprised by how much of an impact these changes have.

This post 7 Highly Effective SEO Tips for Bloggers originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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How to Use Facebook Local Awareness Ads to Target Customers


Do you want to promote your local business to customers using Facebook? Have you heard of Local Awareness Ads? Local Awareness Ad campaigns are easy to set up and let you reach Facebook users based on the business location they’re closest to. In this article you’ll discover how to target customers near your business with Local [...]

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Nominate Your Favorite Social Media Blog: 7th Annual Top 10 Social Media Blog Contest


We’re now accepting nominations for our 7th annual Top 10 Social Media Blogs contest and we’re looking for the blogs you read and found most valuable in 2015. This is the biggest contest for social media blogs and the winners will be promoted in our 430,000-reader newsletter and announced on Social Media Examiner. How to [...]

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Saturday, 19 December 2015

Facebook Takes on Yelp With New Service: This Week in Social Media


Welcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in social media news. To help you stay up to date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention. What’s New This Week Facebook Tests New Professional Services Feature: Facebook is “in the early stages of testing a way for people [...]

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Friday, 18 December 2015

#SproutChat Recap: How to Create a Killer Instagram Strategy


It has quickly become necessary for every brand to maintain a profile on Instagram. The focus on image and mobile are likely two key features in the channel’s growth in popularity. So how can brands focus on these two aspects and grow a presence that is sought out? The brilliant Nycole Hampton from Choose Chicago joined us for #SproutChat this week to discuss. She has grown her organization’s Instagram account 17,000% in the last two years and shared valuable learnings to create a killer Instagram strategy.

Start With a Well-Conceived Plan

Strategy should be thought of holistically before posting any kind of content. Do some research on what others in your industry are doing as well as what your community is posting. Figure out what your goals are for maintaining an Instagram presence and plan posts from there. Key components to think about include:

  • Quality content
  • Consistency
  • UGC
  • Community
  • Engagement
  • Hashtags

Hashtags: How Many Is Too Many?

Hashtags enable discovery. Making them one of the most important components in Instagram. You have likely seen Instagram accounts that use an abundance of hashtags and others that use none at all. People have different opinions on the subject, but employing hashtags does increase visibility of posts. Use a mix of popular hashtags and hashtags that are exclusive to your industry or brand. One way to make hashtags less distracting is to post them in a separate comment instead of in the post copy. Keep an eye on the kind of reception you’re getting, and scale up or back from there.

Build Community to Strengthen Relationships

Similar to other social channels, building community is the best way to create a strong bond with the people within your audience. On Instagram, this can be achieved through frequent interactions: follow people with your audience, and like and comment on their posts. Incorporate their images into your content efforts (with permission, of course), and introduce people to each other. Campaigns are a good way to get people to continually return to your profile. If nothing else, be sure to maintain consistency.

Tap Influencers to Grow Your Following

Research the Instagram accounts of top influencers in your industry and figure out what motivates them. Have they partnered with brands before? What did that relationship look like, and how can you forge something even deeper? Establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial and can be maintained for the long term. Be sure not to push stiff marketing messages; instead, allow for flexibility and creativity. Your brand awareness will have a bigger impact that way.

Join Us

See you next week for a special holiday #SpoutChat. We’ll have social media trivia and give prizes to the fastest fingers (first one to Tweet the correct answer)! See you at 2 p.m. CST this Wednesday on Twitter. Be sure to join our Facebook community in the meantime to stay up to date with the chat.

This post #SproutChat Recap: How to Create a Killer Instagram Strategy originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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Meet Team Sprout: Rachael, VP of Operations

Rachael Pfenning
Much of the work that goes into making a business successful happens behind the scenes. At Sprout Social, keeping everything running smoothly—from finance and customer support to talent acquisition and human resources—is largely the role of the operations department.

Rachael Pfenning, VP of Ops at Sprout, orchestrates all of these efforts with 360-degree oversight of the day-to-day operations of the company. She has managed various teams over her tenure, built out hiring and training across the organization and worked closely with Justyn (Sprout’s CEO and Co-Founder) to build the foundation for what the sales, success, marketing, finance and support teams are today.

As Sprout’s seventh employee, Rachael has seen the product, team and customer base grow significantly over time, and her perspective in this Meet Team Sprout interview provides great insight into where Sprout has been and where it is headed.

Name: Rachael Pfenning
Department: Operations
Started at Sprout: August 23, 2010

You’ve been at Sprout since almost the beginning. Can you tell me what you were doing before as well as how you got to Sprout?

I worked in a variety of operational roles in entrepreneurial environments prior to going to business school at UCLA Anderson. Right before joining Sprout, I was working for a technology company in San Francisco that was focused on social products, and I saw that social was an area that everyone was trying to figure out.

In the summer of 2010, I was in Chicago, visiting my now-husband, and a business school classmate of mine connected me to Lightbank (Sprout’s original investors). I interviewed with the founders of their different portfolio companies, and Justyn really stood out to me. He seemed uniquely sharp, down to earth and witty, and I knew he was someone I could get behind. At the time, Sprout had six employees—four co-founders and two engineers—and he needed a right hand: someone with a business mindset who was scrappy and could help him build out the business. And Sprout was exactly what I was looking for: a fun, young startup with a business that made sense. A month later, I moved to Chicago.

As VP of Operations, you oversee a diverse team. What’s your charge, and what does a typical day look like for you?

Currently, I am responsible for customer support, finance, product education, HR, talent acquisition, general office ops, and I’m the catch-all for everything in between. The founders and I also work together on any company-wide policies or anything that affects the group at large.

A big part of my job is to keep a pulse on our business and help connect dots with others across the company. There is absolutely no typical day. A lot of what I do is very behind the scenes and not particularly glamorous. The cool thing is that the job has evolved: Every six months, I seem to be doing something different for the organization based on Sprout’s ever-evolving needs.

Aaron (CTO and Co-Founder) once described me as an incubator. I have grown and managed various teams at Sprout, helping develop our talent and business processes across all organizational levels. Teams would start with me before they were even teams. I would work with Justyn on creating the foundation of a team and managing its day-to-day operations before we brought in experts to build out those functions further. This continues today but on a much smaller scale.

The organization has grown tremendously since you started. What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen? What has surprised you?

I would bucket the changes into three categories: product, team and customer base.

  • Product: In 2011, we launched a new version of Sprout: S2, which is a multi-user environment. That was an enormous undertaking that set the foundation for us to be able to scale at the rate we have over the past four years. Also, seeing how fast we can push out new features under our recent restructure into a squad model has been a huge change for the organization.
  • Team: Seeing new teams form and evolve has been a significant change. For example, a year ago, the Success team didn’t really exist, and now they have 14 people, build real relationships with our customers and have a significant impact on our revenue. As a side note, when I started there, I’m not sure how many employees were married, but nobody had babies. Now everyone’s getting married and having kids! Going through those life changes has been a significant change and an awesome thing to experience together too.
  • Customer base: When we first launched S1, we had a lot of success with small and medium businesses (SMBs). Watching the customer base grow upstream to include an impressive list of enterprise and agency customers has been incredible. The fact that we can provide a solution that works for smaller businesses and can scale all the way up to enterprise customers has been key to our success.

How do you preserve culture in a quickly growing organization?

The culture has remained eerily similar to what it was in the beginning. Our people really define what our culture is, and we hire people who can get behind our mission and be insanely loyal to it. From there, we work to be as transparent as possible, from Justyn on down.

Our founders are a very humble, behind-the-scenes group of people, and a lot of our culture trickles down from them too. They still work crazy hours and are constantly looking for new ways to keep employees happy, motivated and energized. We never stop thinking and working to improve things for people at Sprout. The four of them have also consistently been 100% committed to building great software, and it shows. People are proud to work to build, market, sell and support our product. This is a huge tie-in to our culture in my opinion.

We also like to promote people internally into management roles, which helps preserve culture. While you learn a lot about managing through experience, this year we began offering management training. We wanted to give people the resources they needed to become better leaders and managers, which in turns improves the work experience for other team members.

You and Aaron lead a session about Sprout for every new hire. What is the most important thing you want new employees to know?

Giving new employees a high-level understanding of all the departments and teams we have, along with their respective functions, can help them see where they fit into the puzzle. We want them to feel a strong sense of purpose and see themselves as part of the bigger picture.

It’s also important to us to keep the flattest organization possible. I want new hires to know that they can come talk to us. We’re normal, approachable people who genuinely care and want to hear how to make Sprout better. I also lead this session so I selfishly get an opportunity to meet all of our new talent personally.

Outside of the office, where are you most likely found?

Hanging with Wally, Brady and Socks. Wally’s my husband, Brady’s my 1.5-year-old, and Socks is my beloved pit bull. We like to be outside at much as possible, so you’ll often catch us walking around or at the park, even during the Chicago winters.

What are your hobbies?

What I like to call myself—what I’d really like to be in my next life—is the VP of Arts & Crafts. I like doing anything crafty. I make a lot of my own Christmas decorations and things like that. I also like anything outdoors, like playing tennis, skiing, paddleboarding or skateboarding. Pickup soccer is one of my favorite things, so hopefully, I’ll be able to jump back on it as my kids get older. Or I’ll just play with them!

What’s your favorite place in Chicago?

The lake. I realized when I first moved here that people go to the beach but don’t actually go in the water. I don’t get that—I’m one of the weirdos that actually goes in.

Do you have a favorite beer?

I rely strictly on Pete (Director of Web and Mobile Engineering and Co-Founder) and Aaron to tell me what beers to drink. They’re true beer connoisseurs, and they know what I like. I am a big fan of beer in general and have been missing my IPAs and Belgian beers currently while I am baking baby No. 2.

Any final words of wisdom?

The beauty of working at Sprout is that you carve your own path. This organization doesn’t have thousands of layers and jobs; many people have naturally evolved into their roles. I’m a perfect example of that. I didn’t start out doing the same thing I do today. As the business grew, Justyn played to my strengths, and I stayed nimble and added value wherever I could.

sprout social careers

This post Meet Team Sprout: Rachael, VP of Operations originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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