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How to Get a More Engaged Audience With Your Social Media Content

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On social media, increasing audience engagement is like keeping the attention of a two-year-old. There’s so many things published each day that we’re often “on to the next” before finishing the content in front of us.

So as a brand, the social competition can make it feel impossible to keep your audience engaged and focused. You can’t expect everyone to like what you post on social media, but there are ways to stay current and relevant by posting content viewers will want to read.

Before we get too far into what makes up this content, let’s actually look at what defines audience engagement on social media.

What is Audience Engagement?

Audience engagement is a marketing process that guides potential and current customers to take actions whether it’s clicking a link or signing up for a trial. Successful audience engagement will lead prospects through the marketing funnel and keep them coming back.

On social media, audience engagement can be defined as clicks, impressions, profile views, likes and shares. The more active users are with your social content, the more likely they’ll continue to follow and trust your brand.

Marketers know the importance of a well-engaged audience. In fact, a 2015 TrustRadius report discovered 61% of marketers agreed audience size was the the most important metric to measure social media marketing effectiveness.

top metrics for measuring social media success

Ask the Right Questions for Audience Engagement

There’s so much that goes into building an engaged audience on social media. It takes great content, attention-grabbing visuals or details and subject matter that’s original and fully entices readers to go forward.

In order to gauge how engaging your social media content is, ask yourself these questions:

Does Your Content Pique Curiosity?

Marketers often rely on social media to get users from point A to point B. This means social media posts have to engage users and make them want to read or learn more. You often can’t rely on 140 characters to fully explain one of your marketing landing pages.

However, you can direct users to these pages with engaging illustrations, videos and Tweets that have a call to action. These phrases should focus on the results. Don’t be ambiguous with what users will see if they click on your link.

Instead, you have to pique curiosity by making a promise or highlighting a subject they might not know a lot about. Levis does this with its Instagram by showcasing its women’s commuter shorts. As a brand on social media, you have to keep the attention of your audience, but also drive them to where you want them to go.

You can also do this by creating excitement on social media. Running contests, user-generated content and other social media sharing campaigns can seriously pay off. Building excitement can get your audience to engage with your content.

Is Your Content Unique?

It’s important to ask yourself this question regularly. What makes you stand out in the crowd? If your content is the same as everyone else in your industry, what’s going to push you above the rest?

You don’t have to surprise or shock your audience to get them to engage. Stick to your brand’s main message and identity. People always relate with truthfulness and like-minded content that resonates.

Finding the balance between amicable and unique content can be challenging. However, it always pays to be engaging and create posts that ask questions, inherit a response or highlight an individual. Focusing on engaging posts will not only make you unique but build a better connection between your brand and those who follow you.

Does Your Content Make Sense?

If you’re posting content about gardening tips, but run social media for a coffee shop, you’re obviously not hitting the right audience. Even if the content is helpful, fresh and enticing, you still need to stick to your industry.

There are plenty of angles you can take if you’re considered to be in a “boring industry.” If you need any helpful tips, do some social media competitive research to find out what they’re posting. Like we mentioned before, you need to be unique.

So don’t simply post the same content and hope for similar results. Try to build your audience engagement by posting unique content that most readers would expect. There’s a way to spark interest and still be on topic.

Choose the Best Network for Audience Engagement

After you’ve asked the questions above, you need to know how to boost engagement on each social network. Every social media channel works in its own way, which can get confusing for some marketers.

Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report discovered 86% of marketers are confused on how to find their target audience through social media. While it might seem simple enough to post creative content to resolve targeting, you actually need to be relevant and post for the right audience.

And for each social media network, the way you capture your audience’s attention changes. Let’s take a look at the major social media channels to see how audience engagement works differently across the board:

Audience Engagement on Twitter

With more than 500 million Tweets per second and the fact that less than 50% of users login to Twitter daily means you should aim to strike gold regularly on the network.

Twitter is known for its free-flow of communication, which means you have a huge opportunity to engage. The speed of Twitter doesn’t have to be gloom and doom. Instead, use Twitter’s speed to get your point across more effectively at the right times.

co schedule best time to post report

Maintaining engagement is always a great way to never let the conversation sour. According to a Co-Schedule report, the best times to post for maximum engagement are noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Setting a schedule to post at those exact times can be tricky.

But with Sprout Social’s intuitive ViralPost feature, you can simply schedule a post to publish based on when your most engaged readers are present. Take the guesswork out of when to publish and let ViralPost do the work for you.

publishing sprout queue

Audience Engagement on Facebook

Approximately half-of-a-billion people watch 100 million hours of video on Facebook every single day. With those kinds of numbers, it’s clear why so many businesses see success with audience engagement and building with video.

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, Facebook puts significantly more weight on video content through its Newsfeed algorithm so followers have a better chance to view. Facebook is the ultimate video network for marketers and there’s no reason why any of your video content shouldn’t exist here.

If you don’t have a large video or product team, think of other ways you can focus on engaging your audience with video content. In fact, numerous brands have noted at least 85% of their videos are viewed without sound.

Hipmunk does a great job at creating Facebook videos that show you the new way to search for hotels on it’s site. You don’t need sound and it’s visuals would catch most scrolling through their Newsfeed. People want to view your content and get onto the next. So it’s critical to keep users around with the visual medium. Try uploading videos from Instagram so you can style, edit and better present your content on Facebook.

Audience Engagement on Instagram

There’s no doubt that Instagram is all about the visuals. With the newest Instagram feature called Stories, more people are turning visual even in the way they chat. Because you can only link in your bio, it makes it hard to get your audience to your marketing pages.

You have to get creative with this social network over almost all the others. Colors play a big part in marketing your products or services. In our Instagram best practices infographic, we highlighted how 93% of buyers noted “visual appearance”  as the main reason for making a purchasing decision.

instagram best practices infographic screenshot

This same approach should go for engaging your audience. Visual content is more likely to be clicked and shared. Additionally, you want to ensure your Instagram captions are just as to the point as your Tweets.

Captions are what drives your audience to answer questions, share your post or leave a comment. Just remember to always refer back to your Instagram bio for the link.

Audience Engagement on LinkedIn

Known as the biggest community of professionals, LinkedIn is a venue many marketers look to when building an audience. LinkedIn is a great space for businesses to promote their evergreen content and get groups back to your page.

LinkedIn is about bringing people together in groups who might be looking for the same content. Your brand can excel by posting relevant industry content in areas where it fits. Although LinkedIn can be great for lead generation, remember not to be spammy with your content.

linkedin audience engagement example

Like every social network, engagement is a two-way street. You have to participate, communicate and give feedback to get others interested in your brand. However, using LinkedIn to publish content a great way to grow your business.

Additionally, LinkedIn content can be indexed just like your blog. This means you want to focus on SEO basics for social media. Ensure you have the proper links directed back to your site and that you have optimized your content to target specific keywords.

This will help you get your LinkedIn content ranking on search engines, so never discount SEO on this social network.

Effectively Measure Audience Engagement

After determining your content strategy and best social media channel to engage, you need to measure how well your content performs. Measuring audience engagement can be done on several native platforms, but their social media analytics only dive so far.

With tools like Sprout Social, you can take engagement analytics even further. You can track metrics like:

  • Inbound message vs. replies
  • Daily response times
  • Daily response rates
  • Response time distribution

At the same time, features like Facebook analytics tools show audience growth rates to measure your different campaigns and peak engagement times.

facebook audience analytics

Don’t just rely on vanity metrics like shares and likes. Dig deeper into audience growth patterns and see what content is working successfully.

Always Look for Improvements

Engaging your audience can bring a lot of challenges to your brand. But this shouldn’t deter you from wanting real social media audience engagement. By analyzing your content, post times and publishing habits, you’ll discover what works and what needs improvement.

This post How to Get a More Engaged Audience With Your Social Media Content originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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An Introduction to Social Media for Business

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Despite the growing popularity, social media for business is still put on the back burner for a lot of organizations. There’s skepticism around its effectiveness for local or small businesses because we see huge brands like Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks get all the success.

However, social media can benefit businesses of any size. Many small- and medium-sized companies see growth in brand awareness, site traffic, shares and customer engagement when there’s a plan in place.

Social Media for Business by the Numbers

Social media allows smaller companies to compete against some of the larger businesses to reach more customers. One of the biggest advantages of social media marketing is it’s less reliant on a large budget. Being successful with social media for business comes down to creativity and engagement. The lower barrier to entry make it possible for any business to compete.

Just in case you’re not completely sold on social–or have to convince higher-ups it’s worth it–here are some statistics that make it more than evident that social media is the way to go:

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Social media for business is a necessity just like paid ads, flyers and other traditional marketing efforts. In order to compete, businesses can’t afford to be inactive on social media.

The Benefits of Social Media for Business

Despite all of these stats, some businesses still aren’t sold on social media as a marketing tool. In fact, one in three small businesses don’t think social media is important for their business.

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One of the primary reasons for this is because organizations don’t realize all of the benefits it has to offer yet. And this is partially understandable due to the nature of social media. It’s used as a way to build brand awareness, fuel content marketing and other important aspects that aren’t as measurable as what small businesses on social media are used to.

It’s time to do away with the old mindset and outdated views of marketing. The internet has completely changed the way your business has to look at marketing. And social media is the perfect example of this shift. Here are some of the benefits of social media for businesses.

Get to Know Your Customers With Social Media

When is the last time you filled out a customer survey? If you’re like most people, it has probably been months or even years. The old ways of finding out information about consumers aren’t as effective today. People have grown to hate unsolicited messages from marketers. Social media gives you the opportunity to find out about your customers in a completely non-intrusive way.

Knowing the age, gender and psychographics of your audience allows you to create and share more targeted content. There are a couple ways to find additional information on your audience. For one, you can manually search through your followers.

Browse your list of followers and get a sense of who they are. Some users put a lot of helpful information in their bios, which often gets overlooked by social businesses.

Admittedly this is a long and tedious process. Luckily there are easier ways to get the information. For instance, Sprout Social gives you insight into your audience’s demographics.

twitter demographics

In addition to demographics, you should also pay attention to what your customers share on social media. Do they Tweet links to industry news? Do they post quotes on Instagram? If they’re sharing it, you can trust it’s the type of content they enjoy.

All of this information lets you dig deeper into who your customers are and what they like/dislike. Before social media you’d have to pay thousands of dollars to put together focus groups and send surveys. But now it’s all at your finger tips.

Know What Customers Really Think

People aren’t afraid to voice their opinions on social media. It makes social networks a great place to get honest and raw feedback of what people think about your products, services and brand. You can monitor what’s being said about your business and resolve issues right away which is a huge advantage.

In the past, if a customer was unhappy with the service at your business, they would just go home and tell their friends. Then they’d never come back. Not only do you lose them as a customer, but you’re also losing referral business without ever knowing.

In the age of social media, when people don’t like your products and services they Tweet about it publicly. That might seem like a bad thing since other people will hear about the bad experiences. But it’s only negative to your business if you ignore their feedback or respond inappropriately. Use social media to rectify customer issues and improve your business.

If you’re monitoring mentions of your company on social media, you’ll can see it in real time and fix the issue. This could save you from losing customers.

You can manually monitor all your mentions, or use a tool with social media monitoring features. Social media monitoring allows you to track specific keywords and mentions of your brand on social media. Don’t limit your keywords to just “Brand Name.” Include variations like #brandname and other potential ways someone would mention your brand on social media.

Social Media Monitoring

Engage With Your Customers

People don’t only Tweet negative things about companies. Social media has done an amazing job of breaking down the wall that used to exist between businesses and customers. People post Instagram pictures of themselves enjoying their favorite brands, check in on Facebook when they go out to local bars and restaurants and happily show off their brand loyalty. User-generated content is one of the best parts about using social media for business.

When companies promote their own products and services, it can easily come off as spammy. But when people see photos on Facebook or Instagram of their friends wearing a company’s t-shirt or bragging about how much they love a certain product, it’s more genuine and effective. Consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than product descriptions made by the company itself.

Send More Traffic to Your Website

Traffic is something all business owners want, but struggle to get organically. While search engine optimization is usually the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to traffic generation, social media can be just as effective. For instance, 75% of Buzzfeed’s traffic comes from social media.

Social media traffic is on the rise. In 2014 social media accounted for 31.24% of overall online traffic, up from 22.71% in the previous year.

Social Media Referral Traffic

Sharing your blog posts and other content from your website on social media is an easy way to get more visitors. Just make sure you’re not only Tweeting your own content. Curate content from other sites in your industry, share images and other types of media.

Generate Leads

One of the biggest misconceptions about social media is that it doesn’t generate leads. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not only can you generate leads through social media, but you can also get a nice ROI.

Generating leads on social media is a bit different than other platforms because selling isn’t the primary goal. A majority of the content you share should be non-promotional. Instead of blatantly asking people to buy your product, look for people talking about problems your product solves. Then give them the solution.

An easy way to do this is through Twitter Advanced Search.

Enter some phrases people would use to describe a problem your products or services solve. Then check the question box at the bottom.

Twitter Advanced Search

You’ll see the latest Tweets from people using your keywords and asking a question. Then you can reply to them with a solution. You can reply offering a free trial of your product or share a link to a blog post you made that walks them through the solution.

It’s a good idea to save searches for questions that are frequently asked. Twitter doesn’t allow you to save your searches, but you can do it in Sprout.

Save Twitter Search Sprout Social

When you want to look for some new people to interact with you can just go to your saved searches and see the most recent Tweets. You can also see who you’ve engaged with before, which is a nice added benefit. It’s much more convenient than manually doing new searches every time.

The New Players in Social Media

We’ve seen the rise of a lot of new social networking sites in recent years. Unlike a lot of failed platforms in the past, these new players have really started to solidify themselves and become real contenders. Part of using social media for business is having the ability to pivot to the new networks your audience is using.

Some of the top new social media apps/sites we’ve seen recently are:

  • Snapchat
  • Periscope
  • Instagram

The interesting thing about all of these is unlike Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+, they are mobile first. All you have to do is download the app and you’re set to go.

The great advantage of these new apps is even though they have large audiences, they’re not as competitive as major social networks like Facebook and Twitter. This is because many businesses have been slow to adopt newer social media channels.

Creative campaigns tend to generate a lot of attention and have a greater chance of going viral. Plenty of brands do a great job standing out on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat instead of limiting themselves to only Facebook and Twitter.

Be a Breakfast Pioneer with Coffiest. Available now at www.soylent.com.

A photo posted by Soylent (@soylent) on Aug 9, 2016 at 8:14am PDT

While visuals are an important aspect of being successful on Google+, Facebook and Twitter, images and video are the primary focus of these new apps. The trend toward visual marketing is growing thanks to all of these apps. And it’s time for your business to start taking action to be successful with social media.

How to Be Successful With Social Media

Each social network has its own quirks and best practices. But there are also some general tips for success no matter which platform your company is focusing on. Here are some tips for using social media for business growth:

Define Your Audience

We’ve established that social media is one of the best ways to reach your target audience. But before you can begin connecting with those people, you have to start by figuring out who they are. Defining your audience or customer avatar is going to help you:

  • Choose which social networks to dedicate your time to.
  • Choose a voice that connects with them.
  • Determine what type of content to share.
  • Develop a strong social media marketing plan around them.

Don’t just talk about who are your ideal customers, write it down. Include things like:

  • Age
  • Income level
  • Career/profession
  • Location
  • Hobbies
  • Education level

Here’s a great example from RyanBattles.com

customer avatar ryan battles

The more you’re able to define your avatar, the more targeted your social media approach will be. After you’ve put together your avatar, ask yourself what are their struggles? How can you add the most value to them? Then you’ll have a strong foundation to build on.

Don’t Get in Over Your Head

Where most businesses fail with social media is trying to take on too much too quickly. As tempting as it is to jump on every hot social network, it could end up doing more harm than good. Social media marketing isn’t about just blasting out your new blog post across 20 different sites. It’s about establishing a real presence and adding value.

Unless your business has a dedicated social media team, it’s extremely difficult to build your audience on seven different social networks at the same time, so we recommend starting with two to three maximum.

Take a look at this social media demographics post to see the findings of the top social media sites. Compare that information with the avatar you created and that will help you determine which site to focus on.

The second issue businesses run into is inconsistency. The fun and excitement of sending out Tweets and taking pictures for Instagram can start to fade away if you’re not gaining any traction, and then you get burned out.

A good way to combat this is to just dedicate a small portion of every day strictly to social media marketing. Around 30-45 minutes a day is a good place to start. Use that time to find new content to share, reply to any relevant social media posts and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on.

Breaking social media marketing into smaller bite-sized pieces will make sure you don’t get overwhelmed and give up too soon.

Don’t Spam

This tip can’t be shared enough. People don’t want to follow businesses on social media that only publish promotional content. If every other Tweet is about your newest product or a 10% off sale, you’re not offering any real value to your audience.

According to a study by Buzzstream and Fractl, the most common reason people unfollow brands is because their content is too boring or repetitive. Promotional posts tend to fall into that category.

Reasons Users Unfollow Brands on Social Media

Instead, focus on sharing content that’s helpful or entertaining. People use Vine, Pinterest and Facebook as a way to get a break during the day, not to be bombarded by advertisements. A good way to judge how promotional your brand is on social media is by looking through and asking yourself if you’d follow your accounts if it wasn’t your business.

Take a Unified Approach

Do you have consistent branding across all of your social media platforms? If your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages all look like they’re for different companies, it’s time to reevaluate. Each profile doesn’t have to look completely identical, but your company’s core message should be evident in each one.

Sweet Frog Social Media Branding

Aside from just aesthetics, you should also take advantage of the ability to connect different social platforms. For instance, you should be sharing all of your YouTube videos to Google+. And Vine is owned by Twitter so the two integrate very nicely. All of these different connections make it easier to publish content across multiple channels.

Also consider the role your website plays in your social media marketing plan. As the home base of your business, it’s very important to have all your social media profiles prominently displayed on every page of your site. Make it as easy as possible for people to connect with you. To help spread your content across social media, you should also consider having social sharing buttons on your blog posts.

sprout social media share buttons

Don’t Be Afraid to Connect

If you want to use social media for business growth, you have to engage and connect with other users. Unfortunately, the only time a lot of businesses interact with people on social media is when:

  1. They’ve been mentioned
  2. Someone shares a link to their content

Instead of being on the defense, how about going on the offense? When you see someone share a good piece of content that’s not yours, reply. If you see someone post something funny on Google+, give it a +1 and comment. Follow some new people on Instagram, participate in Twitter chats and really dive in head first. If you’re sitting around waiting for everyone to follow you and share your content, you’re going to wait a long time.

Pro Tip: The companies that get the most love on social media are the ones that are the most active and engaging.

Social Media Management Tools Are No Longer Optional

There was a time when social media management tools were seen as something that only large corporations needed. That’s not the case at all, especially today. There are so many tasks associated with social media marketing that trying to juggle them all using native apps can become a mess.

Social media management tools like Sprout Social make it easy to share content across multiple social networks, track brand mentions, get detailed reports and a host of other crucial tasks that every business needs.

Social media scheduling

The Secret to Social Media for Business

The secret is work. You may be looking around at your competitors and wondering what you have to do to achieve the same level of success as they’re having on social media. We’ve outlined all the steps for you in this guide, but the most important step is putting it all into action. Here’s a recap of the most important things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t believe the myth that social media marketing isn’t effective for businesses.
  • Define your target audience.
  • Start small and focus on three social networks at the most.
  • Add value by sharing amazing content, not just your own.
  • Be consistent.
  • Engage and interact.
  • Stay organized with a social media management tool.

If you can do this, your work will pay off. Social media marketing is here to stay, and it’s proven to be one of the most effective tools for business growth.

How are you using social media to grow your business? Let us know in the comments!

This post An Introduction to Social Media for Business originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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SearchCap: Google drops “mobile-friendly” label, Bing Ads & AMP for e-commerce

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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google drops “mobile-friendly” label, Bing Ads & AMP for e-commerce appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Does Your Nonprofit Need Marketing Automation?

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Every marketing team is overworked. We’re all looking for ways to maximize the ROI on our efforts. For many organizations, using a marketing automation tool and workflows can provide a quantum leap forward in marketing results.

Of course, implementing a market automation system takes some money and know-how, which raises the question whether the investment makes sense for any given organization. It may well for your organization. Don’t buy into the overhead myth and assume higher marketing costs are a bad thing for your organization. The increased costs can be the best expense you make if they’re going to increase your membership and donations.

But not every organization’s marketing team is ready for automation. If you’re not already set up to take advantage of automation’s potential, that’s when you spending money and energy without getting the return. Your organization has important work to do with its funding. It’s no good spending it on marketing automation before you’re ready to make the most of it.

Here’s an overview of what marketing automation is really about, as well as a checklist you can run through to determine if you’re organization is ready or has some marketing gaps to fill in first.

What Marketing Automation is Really About

Most importantly, don’t think you can sit back and “set it and forget it.” That’s a big myth. Marketing automation doesn’t do your marketing for you. It amplifies the processes you already have in place. So if they’re good processes – terrific! If they’re not so good this checklist is a great starting place for your team to start building its own content marketing framework.

Creating a good framework means you’ve got a reliable system in place for publishing valuable inbound marketing content. Content that will attract and generate a strong, steady stream of leads you can nurture along to become members or donors. If your current challenge is generating traffic as well as leads using your content, focus initially on getting your system in place, and creating the desirable, valuable content your personas will want. 

Then when you’re steadily getting new leads, and your team becomes overwhelmed trying to respond to them, that’s the time to step up into your marketing automation system more completely. Turn on those lead nurturing and re-engagement campaigns. Start testing one lead nurturing email sequence against another. Tweak. Refine. Improve.

Marketing automation done well means leads won’t get ignored. The best of them will also automate the personalization of the content that you send. This is where marketing automation can take you a quantum leap forward.

Marketing automation is about scaling all the great marketing you’re already doing, so it’s executing the campaigns you design at a pace and volume that your team couldn’t possibly do manually. But you and your team need to still be at the heart of it all.

So Is Your Organization Ready?

Go through these questions with an objective eye to gauge whether your organization could benefit now by implementing a marketing automation tool.

1) Are you generating a constant stream of new, qualified leads?

To realize the benefits of marketing automation, your database needs to be a good size and constantly growing. Furthermore, the new leads coming in need to be good fits to convert into members and donors. If your database is too small, automation will just overwork the leads that are there. People will start to feel spammed and you may well see your list shrink rather than grow.

For more tips on this first crucial step, check our our introduction to inbound marketing and lead generation for nonprofits >>

2) Does your team feel overwhelmed by the number of leads pouring into your database?

If so, you may well benefit from marketing automation to make sure all these leads get their due attention.

3) What emails are you sending manually right now? Do you have email series that can be put into an automated workflow?

To reiterate the main point about what marketing can and cannot do, it can’t make a blah email series to re-engage dormant constituents, that only has middling results, into a success. What it can do, is take a string of your best performing nurturing emails and put them on autopilot for you. 

If you want to improve the efficiency and automate your lead nurturing campaigns, marketing automation can help with that. If you’re content to send one-off emails on a campaign-by-campaign basis, then marketing automation may not add much value  for you. 

4) Are you engaging with leads, members, and donors across multiple channels?

The more information your marketing automation system can gather about the people in your database, the more it can do for you. This means that marketing automation becomes more powerful the more you already engage with people through multiple channels. It’s easy to think of marketing automation only as email, but that’s selling it short. You can automate workflows that rely on other digital channels both to gather intel and push out content.

5) Do you already have manual “triggers” you use to push out relevant content to leads?

A lead who visits your donor page a certain number of times. Or a member who downloads your most recent annual report. A lead who watches a new video about the organization’s work. These can all be triggers. Do you know when your leads take relevant actions? If you do, do you have a plan that you execute that’s relevant to the action the person took 

These are all steps that marketing automation relies on. You can tell the automation system what triggers to identify and what to do with them once trigger conditions are met, but you need to know first.

6) Got the content needed to support personalizing and scaling up your marketing efforts?

The triggers and data collection intel are all about sending the right content to the right lead at the right time.  So you need the right content that speaks to different leads who are at different points in their journey. You don’t want to send a solicitation letter to join your highest donor circle level on someone’s first download. Maybe send an invitation to join your newsletter instead.

If you need sufficient input (leads) into the marketing automation machine to make it work, you also need sufficient output (relevant content). Your team needs to be producing and publishing content that’s mapped to a lead’s journey so they can be successfully nurtured further down the path.

Getting Your House in Order First

Content marketing is a continuous growth process. When you first start with inbound marketing, you learn along the way what messages and formats get your audience to respond at different points in their journey. As you refine your content and the donor’s journey, you start building workflows and criteria that make putting new campaigns and content together more efficiently

The next step in this process is marketing automation that moves your workflows from manual to automatic. The timing to move to automation makes sense when you have a steady stream of leads coming in, along with list segmentations, and lead nurturing campaigns that are getting good results.

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. Start working on the steps on this checklist. You’ll start to see great advances in membership and donor amount drives every step of the way towards marketing automation. 

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11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year

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The 2016 Summer Olympics are officially over. But for two weeks, billions of eyes from around the world watched athletes attempt to break records and bring home the gold. What a perfect opportunity for marketers, no?

Many brands jumped on the Olympics bandwagon, leveraging its popularity for their own campaigns. Some of these brands created particularly inspiring campaigns, both to viewers and marketers alike — whether for the emotion they elicit, or for the reminder of exactly how to execute a remarkable ad or marketing campaign.

We rounded up the ones that tugged at our heartstrings as viewers, or inspired us to be better marketers. (Sometimes both.) Check out this list of 11 of the best campaigns from the 2016 Summer Games and what made them so great.

11 of the Best Olympic Marketing Campaigns, Ads, Commercials & Promotions This Year

1) Under Armour: Rule Yourself

The Under Armour brand doesn’t just value the success that comes from hard work; it values the hard work and 24/7 dedication that leads to that success. Their emphasis is on self-improvement and self-reliance — which is why they acquired the fitness tracking platform MapMyFitness back in 2014.

Under Armour’s ad campaign for the 2016 Summer Olympics perfectly embodies these deep-seeded values. It focuses on the side of athletic achievement that no one sees. For Michael Phelps, that’s the ice baths, cupping therapy, and 12,500 calories he has to eat every day. For an ordinary person, it might be taking the stairs, getting a full night’s sleep, or tracking your meals using their MyFitnessPal app. But the message is the same, and it’s a powerful one: “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”

2) Procter & Gamble: “Thank You Mom”

For the 2012 Summer Olympics, Procter & Gamble created a campaign called “Thank You, Mom” that showed flashbacks of Olympic athletes from all over the world growing up and practicing their sport with support from their mothers. That same campaign is back again this year, featuring athletes and their mothers from this summer’s Games.

This year’s campaign shows athletes’ mothers helping them through times of stress, cheering them along, and supporting them. Notice the clickable link they added to the video that takes viewers to a web page where they can send a personalized thank-you note to their own moms. Take a look … and maybe grab a tissue.

3) Panasonic UK: #Superfans

Cheering on your country is a lot easier when you’re the one hosting the Olympics, as Great Britain did in London in Summer 2012. With the Games in Brazil this year, Panasonic, a long-time official partner to the British Olympic Association, wanted to help Great Britain keep up the fan-fueled momentum. So in April 2016, they announced a crowdsourced campaign called #Superfans, which invited fans of Team GB to post pictures on social media using the hashtag to encourage engagement.

“It is a great opportunity for us to share our passion for the Olympics as a company and to connect with consumers on an emotional level,” said Managing Director of Panasonic UK Andrew Denham. “This is why Panasonic’s heritage as a global Olympic partner is so important to me – it adds some real spark and colour to the brand.”

All the fan photos posted with the hashtag #Superfans was posted on a dedicated web page on Team GB’s official site, and Panasonic UK offered extra incentives like Twitter contests.

Here’s a sampling of the fan-sourced content on Twitter:

Even the U.K.’s premiere parachute display team got in on the action:

4) Apple: “The Human Family”

What makes the Olympic Games so special? The elite athletic competition, yes — but also the bringing together of people and cultures from all over the world. And it’s that second part that the folks at Apple chose to focus on in their Olympics commercial.

The ad showcases beautiful photos and videos of people all over the world taken using an iPhone, and it’s set to Maya Angelou reading excerpts from her poem, “Human Family.” What a beautiful message.

5) Coca-Cola: #ThatsGold

Not all of us can be Olympic athletes — but the folks at Coca-Cola make the case that even ordinary people like you and me can experience the feeling of winning gold. To do this, they launched the campaign #ThatsGold, which they first integrated into a TV ad (shown below) with the “Taste the Feeling” campaign they launched in January 2016.

The Olympics commercial tied to the campaign is all about drawing a parallel between the thrill and excitement of winning a gold medal at the Olympics and the thrill and excitement of having a good time with the people in your life. They did a great job of drawing those parallels with compelling quotes and visuals, and nailed the ending with the line, “Gold is a feeling anyone can taste.”

In addition to the commercial, they set up a fully operational “real-time marketing” global hub in Rio that monitored the #ThatsGold hashtag during the course of the Olympics and created content around key moments in real time on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and more.

6) Virgin Media: #BeTheFastest

Virgin Media is all about being fast, advertising their WiFi speed as “fast,” “superfast,” even “ultrafast.” So it comes to no surprise that they chose to pay tribute to Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, for their Olympics campaign this year.

Bolt set the World Record for the 100-meter sprint at 9.58 seconds at the 2009 Berlin World Championships in Athletics. To demonstrate what 9.58 seconds feels like, Virgin Media created an advertisement that strung together ten, 9.58-second vignettes that each cast light on a different part of Bolt’s life. The purpose? Both to celebrate Bolt’s spectacular accomplishment and to emphasize the importance of speed.

7) Airbnb: “Alternative Accommodations” Sponsorship

Back in March of this year, Airbnb became the first official “alternative accommodations” sponsor of the Olympics — the first time the Olympics has ever had an alternative accommodations sponsor, according to local Olympic officials. Why’d they do it? Mashable reports that when Rio won the Olympic bid in 2009, it had just half the 40,000 beds required for the games — so it was definitely a win for the city, the games, and Airbnb.

In exchange for an undisclosed amount to local Olympic organizers, Airbnb was included in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’ ticketing platform by way of a specific landing page where customers were able to rent private homes and apartments in Rio. They also got a link to their site on the official Olympic website, along with calls-to-action encouraging people traveling to Rio for the Olympics to use the service for rentals.

Here they are in the first spot on the official Rio Olympics 2016 website’s homepage:

rio-olympics-website-airbnb.png

To help promote homes and apartments for rent in Rio, they created Rio-specific videos and content for their larger #StayWithMe campaign, which invites Airbnb hosts to post photos or short videos on social media to showcase their countries. Here’s one Airbnb published right before the Olympics started, in June 2016:

8) Chobani: #NoBadStuff

Goodness is a choice you make, claims Chobani with their Olympic-inspired campaign #NoBadStuff. From a literal standpoint, their campaign is about the good, healthy ingredients in Chobani yogurt; metaphorically, it’s all about having a positive attitude, working hard, treating others well, and properly fueling your body.

Their campaign has a few moving parts, starting with a page on their website where you can meet the U.S. athletes they’ve partnered with who embody the positive, hardworking attitude that defines their campaign. Each athlete’s story includes an interview about their biggest challenges, how they stay positive, their favorite meal growing up, and so on — along with, of course, a giant picture of them enjoying Chobani yogurt

chobani-no-bad-stuff-campaign.png

Their campaign also includes a TV ad, content where U.S. athletes give advice on things like how to stay cool under stress, and — my personal favorite — a few limited-edition yogurt flavors inspired by Brazil.

chobani-rio-inspired-flavors.png

9) Folger’s: “Coach”

“Olympic glory doesn’t just belong to athletes, and it doesn’t just happen every four years. It happens one morning at a time, and one cup at a time.” That’s the message coffee company Folger leaves us with in their commercial, “Coach.”

Instead of focusing on the athletes, the folks at Folgers used their ad time to focus on the coaches that help those athletes get to where they are. Specifically, it follows the relationship between a boy and the coach that helped him through every win, every loss, every injury, and every moment of glory before he was eventually chosen to represent Team USA.

10) NBC & BuzzFeed’s Olympic Parternship

NBC is known for doing a thorough job covering the Olympics, from its online live streams to its TV interviews with medalists. But their roots are deep in old-school media like cable, which isn’t the most well-used and attractive medium for the younger generation. That’s exactly why the folks at NBC decided to partner with BuzzFeed for the Olympics this summer, where they produced special Olympic features and posted them to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

They sent “about a dozen” BuzzFeed staffers to Rio to create social media content, including a daily edition on Snapchat Discover, which is one reason this co-marketing partnership was a win-win for both brands. According to Steven Perlberg of Wall Street Journal, the President of NBC Olympics, Gary Zenkel, “wants to give BuzzFeed free rein to connect with Snapchat’s young audience.”

What kind of content did they produce? “The U.S. women’s gymnastics showed how friends have your back, like when they prevent you from texting your ex or have an extra hair tie,” wrote Perlberg. The women’s wrestling team destroyed watermelons. Swimmer Natalie Coughlin tested out waterproof makeup. The U.S. men’s gymnastics team took off their shirts, and readers were asked to guess the abs.”

Here’s a screenshot from a Snapchat Story featuring Olympic Swimmer Townley Haas, who showed off some tall people problems:

buzzfeed-nbc-snapchat-tall-people.jpg

Image Credit: BuzzFeed/NBCU

11) Budweiser: “America is in Your Hands”

Nothing says “America” like a can of Budweiser — and I mean that literally, thanks to their campaign leading up to both the 2016 Summer Olympics and November’s U.S. presidential election. In May, Anheuser-Busch announced it would be replacing the Budweiser logo with “America” on its 12-oz. cans and bottles this summer. The temporary re-packaging was accompanied by their summer campaign, “America is in Your Hands.”

The campaign itself has had mixed reviews, with complaints mostly surrounding the brand tapping into the polarized political climate. But the campaign did help increase Budweiser’s ad awareness and purchase consideration, at least initially. A week after the campaign began, the company reached its highest purchase consideration level of 2016 (i.e., the number of shoppers 21 and older who said they’d consider Budweiser the next time they bought beer), although that numbers have dropped back down since.

budweiser-america-campaign.jpg

Image Credit: STL Today

There you have it. We hope you found these examples inspiring. What other Olympics campaigns have inspired you, in 2016 or from previous Olympics? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Niantic’s release notes read:

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