The 5 Coolest Things I Learned at Social Media Marketing World 2018
By: Emily Truax, Assistant Director of Social Media | Boston University
As a first-timer attending Social Media Examiner’s “Social Media Marketing World” in sunny San Diego, I can sum up my experience in one word: overwhelming — but in the very best way possible. The amount of knowledge and passion of both speakers and attendees was invigorating and as someone whose background is in organic social media, learning about the paid strategies being used by some of the world’s largest brands was illuminating. Below are my five biggest takeaways from the three-day affair.
- All About Twitter’s Algorithm
Ever feel like Twitter has abandoned you? You’re not alone. Once the social network moved from a chronological timeline to an algorithm, things got… messy. There’s a perception that people are spending less time on the platform and the timeline algorithm itself makes it much easier for users to miss content they’ve opted in to receiving. Content marketing duo Andrew & Pete outlined their strategy for gaming the Twitter Algorithm in the form of an acronym: TUCEPM
T: Timeliness: Newer posts still get shown more often than older ones making it important to post in real-time and at relevant times to your audience. Trending topics and off-hour tweets help you get extra reach.
U: User Interest — Twitter’s algorithm takes into account what it thinks users are interested in and favors relevance over quantity. The platform’s native analytics even show you what Twitter thinks your audience cares most about! Use this to your advantage.
C: Credibility: Algorithms favor accounts that are deemed “credible.” What does this mean? Basically, accounts that are spamming may be obvious. Less obvious? Accounts that are sending folks to broken links, or sites that are non-mobile responsive or have high bounce rates can also impact your tweets’ likelihood of being viewed.
E: Engagement: Sure, you know the standard engagement metrics — RT’s, likes, clicks, views — but Twitter also takes into account the amount of time spend reading a tweet, if it’s added to a “moment,” shared via DM, or if it entices someone to click on your profile or follow you. The more engaging a tweet, the greater its likelihood of being favored by the algorithm.
P: Past Engagement: People get shown more tweets from people they have engaged with in the past. What does that mean? Bad engagements on a tweet are affecting future potential engagements making it even more important to be proactive. Get into other people’s notifications to improve past engagement which increases future reach
M: Media:Twitter’s algorithm is such that people are shown more of the media type they prefer based on what they’ve engaged with before. This means that using a variety of media types is incredible important. Sure, you may think you know the options — video, images, GIFs, text, polls — but don’t forget Twitter moments, Twitter cards, and even branded GIFs you can create and which become searchable within Twitter.
2. How to Game the Facebook Apocalypse
When Facebook announced changes to its newsfeed in early 2018, brands everywhere began panicking. The new strategy claims to shift “from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” per Mark Zuckerberg. This “Facebook apocalypse” necessitates a change in strategy from content producers, said Social Media Examiner’s own Michael Stelzner. The days of Facebook generating serious traffic or creating massive exposure are over. Facebook itself has said that videos will get less watch time and links off-platform will also receive less visibility. Instead, brands will have to accept that a smaller, more relevant and engaged audience is more valuable than a larger and less engaged one. Instead of scale, brands need to focus on meaningful, ongoing opportunities for connection.
So, just how can these brand pages ensure that their content resonates? The obvious answer is to increase their use of paid, but as demands for ads increase, even that will begin to generate smaller returns. It helps, then, to know exactly how to “game” this new system. Michael gave us a peek under the hood at what Facebook’s new algorithm will favor — which is branded as “meaningful interactions.” These include:
- Posts that are shared into Messenger and generate a group dialogue
- A person commenting on/liking another person’s photo or status update
- A person reacting to a post from a publisher that a friend shared.
- Even within this category, Facebook weighs longer comments more heavily than shorter comments
- Multiple people replying to each other’s comments on a video or article
3. How to Get the Most Bang for your Digital Dollar
Multiple sessions at #SMMW18 focused on refining a paid social strategy to improve ROI and reach evermore relevant and targeted communities. Each emphasized that often, underperforming social ads’ lack of success are attributed to poor ad copy or creative, but more often than not, the audience they’re targeting is all wrong for the objectives.
In combination, these sessions talked through the fundamentals of finding success on Facebook ads — from crafting offerings that solve target audience’s problems and making use of the platform’s “lookalike” audiences. As a relative novice in the pay-to-play space on social, I was especially intrigued to learn more about how to best craft custom audiences.
Of course, there are demographic and behavioral audience targeting capabilities, but perhaps most interesting were the way businesses are using custom audiences to retarget receptive audiences who have engaged with the business in some way in the past. The “essential” custom audiences defined are:
- Email Recipients: Facebook usually matches anywhere from 30–70% of email addresses on file. From this custom audience, you can easily create a lookalike audience to target users similar to those you’re already emailing
- Website Visitors: Retarget people who have visited your website, a landing page, or a specific page. These folks can be targeted based on how long they spent on the site, how recently they visited, etc.
- Video Engagement: A great strategy with video is to identify audiences who viewed a certain amount of a video (i.e. 3 seconds or 25%) and create lookalike audiences to increase the odds of reaching folks likely to view it.
- Facebook Audiences: It might seem like a no brainer, but frequently creating custom audiences of those who have interacted with your page
These presentations emphasized the importance of continual testing and adaptation of custom audiences based on ad performance.
4. Tips & Tricks for Nailing Instagram Stories Every Time
It’s no secret that Instagram Stories have been taking off, with 300 million active users watching and creating Stories daily. Since their widespread adoption, engagement is actually down in the Instagram feed as users spend more time at the top of their screen in the “Stories” bar. From a brand perspective, Instagram Stories are a great tool to keep you top of mind and build one-to-one connection while driving traffic. The expert herself — Sue B. Zimmerman (aka @TheInstagramExpert) — provided master tips for creative storytelling on Instagram Stories. My favorites? Live broadcasting which can be shared with others and learning how to create polka dots within stories!
Another great technique? Using the erase feature to build suspense and curiosity, thereby improving retention.
The beauty of Instagram stories, as was echoed all week, is the ability to be real-time, raw, authentic and human but in a visually appealing and creative format. With the rise of Instagram Stories highlights, brands are using them as playlists, creating episodic content that keeps audiences hungry and returning.
5. Where Social Media is Going
In his keynote, Brian Solis did a great job of outlining the past of social media — how it democratized society by giving everyone a voice and giving access to people, places and brands that were previously impenetrable — and the current state. In the present, he said “people are now brands and brands are now people.” As a result, the balance of power has shifted with trust in authoritative figures — like CEOs and leading academics — falling precipitously as “a person like yourself” becomes the preferred standard source for credible information.
So, where is social going? Contrary to some predictions, Solis believes that social will only continue to become more embedded in our daily lives. However, the power will continue to shift and by 2030, power will rest almost exclusively with individuals, not with institutions. That means digital storytelling and human connection will become increasingly important. Building relationships with the right people and fostering advocacy will be the key to success in our social media future.
Did you attend this year’s Social Media Marketing World? What were your favorite takeaways?