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The Ultimate Digital Marketing Glossary: 50 Terms You Need To Know

Most industries have their fair share of jargon, and digital marketing is no exception. From the CTR of your adverts to the bounce rate of your website, there are numerous terms used by marketers that might sound like gobbledegook to the uninitiated.

However, there’s often no substitute for explaining things in plain English. Today, we’re going to look at fifty of the most common words, phrases and acronyms you’re likely to come across in the world of digital marketing – and reveal the meaning behind the neologisms…

  • A/B testing: The process of creating multiple variants of a page and showing them at random to different website users, to see if the ‘A’ variant or the ‘B’ variant might be more popular with visitors. Sometimes, this is also known as A/B/C/D testing, or ‘split-testing’.
  • Abandonment rate: The proportion of users who initiated a predefined conversion process, but left the website before completing it. For example, if 10 of the 100 people who started to buy something from your online shop left without submitting their order, your abandonment rate would be 10%.
  • Algorithm: A set of rules, logic or calculations followed by a computer. In the context of digital marketing, we usually talk about things like ‘the Google algorithm’ or ‘the Facebook algorithm’ when trying to craft content that will be favoured by these automated processes.
  • Anchor text: The visible text of a hyperlink.
  • Authority: One of the factors considered by Google when ranking websites on its results pages. A site that has been around for years and is a well-respected source of information (such as Wikipedia) is said to have high authority – and tends to rank very well in search results.
  • B2B / B2C: These acronyms stand for ‘Business-to-business’ and ‘business-to-consumer’ respectively, and describe the operating model of a commercial organisation – in other words, whether they primarily offer their services to individual end customers, or to other businesses.
  • Backlinks: Backlinks are all of the links on other websites that point to your page. Collectively, they make up what’s known as your site’s backlink profile.
  • Black Hat SEO

  • Black hat / white hat SEO: ‘Black hat’ is a euphemism in many tech fields for unethical practices, and in the world of SEO can include engaging in optimisation practices that contradict Google’s guidelines, fill websites with spam and other ‘quick fixes’ that don’t provide long term results and often result in ranking penalties. By contrast, ‘white hat’ SEO is essentially doing it the good guy way and improving your rankings as a consequence of making your site genuinely more valuable for human users.
  • Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who arrive at your website but then leave without accessing any other pages. High bounce rates can indicate a problem with the website’s content or layout – it may be that users find it off-putting, confusing, or uninteresting.
  • CMS (Content Management System): The system used behind-the-scenes to handle all of a website’s content. For example, WordPress is an extremely popular CMS used by numerous websites to handle main site pages and blog posts. Other content management systems include the likes of Drupal, Joomla, Concrete5, ExpressionEngine and Magento.
  • Conversion rate: Simply put, the percentage of your total users who complete whatever process you consider to be a ‘conversion’ (which might be buying a product, successfully submitting a message to your sales team, registering for the site, or whichever outcome you ultimately hope to achieve).
  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition): The average cost of a single conversion in a paid ad campaign. If you spent £100 on ads and got 100 signups, your CPA would be £1.
  • CPC (Cost Per Click): Similar to the above, this is the average cost of each user who clicks your advert in a paid campaign. As not everybody who clicks an ad will necessarily go on to sign up or buy anything, it’s useful to consider these as two separate metrics.
  • Crawler/bot/spider: A crawler is a program that automatically visits (or crawls) a large number of websites and pages to build an archive of data about them. Googlebot, Google’s own crawler, is perhaps the most famous and seeks to build an index of the entire Internet as best it can. Many other companies have produced their own crawlers to mimic the behaviour of Googlebot or to perform other useful SEO-related functions (such as Moz, Majestic, and Screaming Frog).
  • CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation): The process of amending a website or page to increase the percentage of users who go on to complete a conversion process.
  • CTA (Call To Action): A call to action is a short message used on a website or elsewhere that encourages the user to perform a specific action using unambiguous language (“buy now”, “sign up today”, “click here”).
  • CTR (Click Through Rate): The percentage of people who, having been shown your paid ad, have clicked it.
  • Featured snippet: The box of information that often appears at the top of a Google search results page – before the actual results – in an attempt to answer the user’s query by extracting a highlighted passage from the top search result. These can be quite important for SEO, and many search optimisation specialists spend a lot of time tweaking pages to try to get Google to use them as its source for a featured snippet.
  • GDPR: Short for the General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR is an EU law that places certain restrictions on the types of personal data that websites can collect about users (and for what reasons). For more information, please see the Wikipedia article on GDPR.
  • Geo-targeting: The practice of targeting different content to different users based on their geographic location.
  • Google Ads: Google’s paid advertising network.


  • Google Analytics: The industry standard for user analytics, Google Analytics allows webmasters to access a very detailed wealth of anonymised information about their site and its users – which pages are the most popular, where traffic has come from, how many visitors are converting, and a great deal more besides.
  • Google Search Console: Google provides a free tool for allowing webmasters to check up on their site’s search performance and visibility.
  • Hashtag: On social media, a hashtag is a word or phrase (without spaces) marked with a hash symbol (#). This causes the post to be tagged with that hashtag, and users can search for all of the posts that have been tagged with the same identifier. Thus, tagging your Instagram post with #dog will cause your photo to show up for anybody who is looking at the hashtag feed for pictures of dogs.
  • Heatmap: A user heatmap is a popular tool that allows a webmaster to see a Predator-vision-style representation of which areas of their page are the most used by visitors. Tools such as HotJar can record how many clicks are received by each element of the page, and use that data to create a visual display of which links are ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ in terms of user interest.
  • Impression: Every time your paid ad is shown to a user, this is called an impression. However, this doesn’t concern how many times it has been clicked – only how many times it has been displayed. Therefore, an ad with high impressions but a low click-through rate (CTR) may need to be rewritten or redesigned to be more appealing (as people are seeing it, but not clicking on it).
  • Indexing: When Google collects data about a website for its list, it is said to have indexed the page.
  • Keywords: Keywords are the most important words and phrases that describe the content of your page and what users will type into Google when searching for your topic. Keyword research is using various tools to identify which keywords are the most important for optimisation of the site.
  • Keyword stuffing: The outdated SEO practice of padding out a webpage with repetitive and redundant search engine keywords. It’s a terrible idea – in fact, we wrote a whole thing about why you shouldn’t do it
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): In essence, a KPI can be whatever benchmark you decide is a good way to tell that your marketing efforts are actually working. It could be that you want to see an increase in traffic or conversions, a reduction of bounce rate, an increase in the number of returning visitors, or any other metric of your choosing.
  • Landing page: A landing page is a page on your site that users arrive at from search results or an advert. A common SEO practise is to identify which pages on your site are key landing pages and clearly define them as such for Google’s crawler.
  • Link building: The process of getting links to your website from others. This might be achieved via guest posting, leveraging pre-existing professional relationships, requesting link insertions, or any of a number of other techniques.
  • Local search: Google will often serve different results to different users based on their geographic location – somebody searching for ‘Italian restaurants’ from a computer in London won’t see the same results as a user from Glasgow. Thus, many businesses find it essential to optimise their site for good visibility in local search results.
  • Long-tail keyword: Whereas we might imagine that most keywords are short, single-word items (such as ‘toys’), long-tail keywords are longer phrases that are much more specific (‘barbie doll clothes and accessories’). These search terms are often easier to rank for than generic keywords, and crafty keyword research looking for these sorts of phrases can sometimes yield good SEO results.
  • Meta-data: Encompassing meta-titles, meta-descriptions, and (to a much lesser extent) meta-keywords, meta-data is information stored in the header tag of a web page that contains data about the page for search crawlers to use. The contents of these tags can often make a notable difference to a website’s SEO performance, and are often the first port of call when seeking to improve the Google presence of a page that doesn’t rank very well.
  • NoIndex: Noindex is an attribute that can be added to a website’s header tag which asks Googlebot to not add the page to its index. This should be thought of as more of a suggestion than a hardline command, but Google’s crawler tends to respect the directive more often than not.
  • Organic traffic: Visitors who find your site from a search engine results page, as opposed to a direct link from another site, a social platform, or a paid advert.
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): A type of paid marketing, where you pay only when a user clicks your advert.
  • Rankings: The order in which websites are returned on a search engine’s results page.
  • Remarketing / retargeting: This is the practice of targeting advertising towards people who have already demonstrated an interest in your business. For example, this might be users who have previously visited your website or interacted with you on social media.
  • Rich Snippet

  • Rich snippet: Whereas a normal snippet is the short excerpt of a web page that Google displays with each listing on its results pages, a rich snippet has additional features (which might include imagery, review stars, the preparation time of a recipe, or any of a number of other additions).
  • Robots.txt: A file that can be used to recommend to Google’s crawler that it should index or ignore different areas of your website. Googlebot will always look for this file in the root directory of your site (eg.,
  • Schema: Schema markup is a special kind of HTML that can be used to explain the structure of your content to Google. For example, you might want to make it very clear to Googlebot that what you’ve written might be a postal address, medical information, or a movie review – and by using the right type of schema markup (as described on you can make sure the search crawler understands what it’s seeing.
  • Search query: The word or phrase used by a user looking for something on a search engine.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The process of making improvements to a website to increase its presence in search results. This can involve on-site factors such as changing the meta-data or improving the content, or off-site and holistic factors such as seeking to better the site’s backlink profile and overall authority.
  • SERP (Search Engine Results Page): The page of results that a search engine presents in response to a user’s query.
  • Sitemap: A sitemap is a list of all of the pages on a website. This can either be a publicly visible HTML sitemap for the use of human visitors, or an XML sitemap used to help Googlebot find its way around.
  • Tracking pixel: A small chunk of code that can be added to your website to collect data for a particular service (eg. a Facebook tracking pixel to keep track of Facebook users who end up on your page). Sometimes this code may incorporate a literal ‘pixel’ in the form of a 1×1 image file, but not always.
  • USP (Unique Selling Point): The thing that differentiates your business, service, offering, or website from that of others. For many marketing projects, identifying your USP is the foundation of knowing what messaging to put on your site and in your ad campaigns.
  • UX (User Experience): User experience design is concerned with making sure a page is intuitive and pleasant to use. If a website has a high bounce rate, improvements to UX may be the solution – and if users are confused or frustrated, they are unlikely to stick around.

The field of digital marketing does come with a lot of complicated jargon, but it needn’t be an ongoing mystery for newcomers.

By bookmarking our handy reference guide, you can return to this page in the future as a refresher if you should happen to encounter a buzzword you don’t recognise – and by staying abreast of the industry lingo, you can make sure you’re always part of the conversation.

5 Common Social Media Mistakes: What Not To Do

Much has been said about the marketing power of social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Each of these platforms represents a great opportunity for small business promotion – placing your marketing messages in your customers’ feeds right next to content from their friends and family.

However, while these channels can undoubtedly be effective, good results aren’t always as easy to achieve as we might hope. Many businesses and marketers jump into the world of social media without much of a plan for success, and unfortunately mistakes are common.

Today, we’re going to outline a few everyday social media missteps and offer some advice for getting those underperforming channels working for you…

Social media

1. Forgetting to be human

Many businesses (especially on Instagram) simply post endless product photographs and adverts for their services. While one of these posts might be effective on an individual basis, it’s no way to build a brand – customers will likely be slow to follow a page that offers nothing but an endless stream of self-promotional material.

Instead, take the time every so often to break things up with a personal touch and some human interest – a photo of your team out for lunch together or of the office cat sleeping on somebody’s keyboard will go a long way to help your company seem as though it’s full of real, lovable people.

Social media is at its best when marketers and customers are able to build a relationship. Bombarding users with nothing but self-serving spam is unlikely to get them to care about you, so let them put some faces to the business name.

2. Inconsistent posting

We get it – for many small businesses, social media isn’t a top priority and it gets done when somebody remembers. However, much like exercising, it’s rarely effective when you only do it once in a blue moon.

Dog on a treadmill

In order to get the best results from social media, you’ll need to get serious about your posting schedule and maintain a constant stream of good content. It’s an unavoidable fact that a ludicrous amount of material is posted every day on social media and unfortunately it’s necessary to bang a drum loudly and often in order to get noticed.

The good news is that consistent posting can be a great way to accumulate followers; as users notice they are seeing more and more content from you that they enjoy, they will be much more likely to sign up for further material.

We know it can be hard to find time every day for social media, but with tools such as Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Buffer and Post Planner you can queue material up ahead of time and leave the software in charge of publishing it when the time comes – meaning you can prepare a whole week or month’s worth of content in one go and then turn your mind to other matters.

3. Not being ‘social’

It’s a sad fact that brands and businesses often seem to forget the ‘social’ part of ‘social media’. All too often, content is queued up, published, and then later checked hopefully for ‘engagement’ – all without actually engaging any users themselves.

As a strategy on social media, this is tantamount to sitting alone in the corner at a party and hoping somebody will come over to talk to you: it happens occasionally, but it’s a poor approach for making friends.

Lonely frisbee

Many businesses don’t do nearly enough to start conversations, reply to commenters and interact with other people’s posts – and so it’s hardly surprising that users rarely look their way. It’s always worth remembering that social media is at its best for marketing when time is taken to interact personally with users and to build real relationships and trust.

Speaking of interacting personally, another common issue is…

4. Mis-handling complaints

It’s bound to happen eventually.

Maybe you’ll screw something up, or maybe the commenter will just be a troll trying to make you look bad – but from time to time you’ll get the dreaded Negative Comment (cue thunder clap/dramatic organ sounds). It’s an unavoidable consequence of being active on the Internet, the same way that getting snowed on every now and then is a natural side-effect of living in Alaska.

The question is what to do about it – many businesses are in the habit of simply avoiding, ignoring or (in some cases) actually deleting negative comments, thinking that having customer complaints sitting out in the open is a bad look.

You Didn't See Anything

These actions may seem sensible, but really they erode consumer confidence and trust – if people realise that their complaints are being ignored and removed they will start to lose faith in whether you truly care about your customers, whether you’re listening to what they’re saying and even whether you might secretly be keeping other transgressions on the downlow.

As with many things in life, it’s often best to come clean and own the situation. By responding to the complaint with apologetic respect and explaining how the situation is being rectified you may actually earn admiration – most consumers know that businesses aren’t perfect 100% of the time, and they’d rather see the inevitable complaints and slip-ups get handled with grace and professionalism than swept under the proverbial rug.

5. Not tracking results

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” is a well-known pontification of the business management thinker Peter Drucker. These days nobody can seem to agree if it strictly constitutes good or bad advice, but there is some logic to it – especially in the world of digital marketing.

Simply put, too many businesses on social media don’t really have much idea of whether or not their efforts are actually getting anywhere. They may be watching the follower count, but what about their engagement metrics? Are they tracking user clicks and keeping tabs on which posts are generating the most conversions? Are their posts attracting more likes and comments than those of their nearest competitors, or fewer? Have they done hashtag analysis to identify the most promising tags for each post?

Data is the friend of digital marketers everywhere. The more information you have about what works, what doesn’t and what users best respond to, the better your marketing output can become – otherwise you’re just blindly trying things and not keeping any record of what’s working, or why.

At the end of the day, social media in its various forms can be a seriously powerful marketing tool, but there are many ways to do it wrong. It’s not something you can get into ‘a little bit’ and expect it to work for you, and social media channels each require careful planning and dedicated effort to get real results.

By maintaining a scrupulously consistent update schedule, keeping tabs on your data and taking the time to come across as a real human you can lift your brand’s social media marketing to the next level – and make a great connection with your followers and customers along the way.



Six Digital Marketing Tips For Game Developers

In today’s games industry, making a great product is only half the story. “Build it and they will come” no longer rings true, if it ever did. Many developers seem to operate under the assumption that a self-evidently great game will just “sell itself”, and unfortunately this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The good news is that there are always things you can do to generate interest in your game, even if your marketing budget wouldn’t cover the cost of a Happy Meal – so here are some things you can do right now to start getting people excited.

  1. Start early

Many new developers think that the marketing process starts a couple of months prior to their big release. Unfortunately, they might as well just load a gun and point it at their toes.

When should you start? As soon as possible. Right at the beginning of development. Yesterday.

Start banging a drum about what you’re making as soon as you start making it. This can go against all of our impulses to only show the world things “when they’re ready” and they have a bit of polish, but today’s gamers and social media users love to see projects develop.

If you haven’t even made a prototype yet, post some of your concept art. Post something. The unfortunate truth is that it can take months and months, perhaps years, for your message to start to take hold in a big way, so don’t short-change yourself by trying to do it in six weeks.



By the way, don’t be afraid that people will copy your brilliant game. Howard Aiken once said, “don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” Ideas are ten-a-penny, and largely worthless without good execution – so put them out there and show the world how well you can act on them.

2. Find a niche

So, real talk: your development company probably isn’t Ubisoft . You almost certainly do not have ten hojillion dollars to market your games the way the big guys do, blasting your message on the biggest and broadest wavelengths possible.

In a way, though, those triple-A marketing efforts are often more wasteful than they are effective. It doesn’t matter if 100 people see an advert for the latest FIFA title and 99 of those people have never had the slightest interest in buying a sports game.

This just means you will have to get creative with your approach. Don’t try to reach “all gamers” – that’s daft. Instead, start thinking of ways to reach those specific types of people who might be interested in what you’ve got.

  • If you’re making a game in a specific genre, could you target people who have enjoyed other games in that genre – for example, could you sell a new hardcore platformer to people who enjoyed Super Meat Boy or Cuphead?
  • If your game has a nostalgic, creepy vibe, could you sell it to people who like Stranger Things, or gamers who are fans of Stephen King stories?
  • If you have a game about wizards and spells, could you find a way to reach players who are crazy for Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

In essence, try to identify a group of people who might be interested in your product – particularly a group that might have a fan community or a way to reach them.

Jurassic Jump Ad Banner
A screenshot of an ad seen on a Jurassic Park fan community site – that’s the way to do it!

For some marketing projects, you might be forced to think outside the box; if you’re making a game about cartoon carrots, you’re probably not going to find a passionate carrot fan community waiting to buy a videogame. You might, however, be able to find people who like quirky things and silly concepts in general – perhaps by trying to reach people who like Adventure Time, say, or The Muppets.

On a related note…

  1. Ditch #gamedev

Every game developer in the universe seems to post their work on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtags #gamedev, #indiedev, #screenshotsaturday, and so on. These are all well and good – you may even seem to be getting good engagement with them.

But let’s not forget who uses these hashtags; it’s other game developers.

Yes, game developers buy games, too. But are they your main target market? You want to reach people who play games, not just people who make them, and #gamedev has become little more than a big incestuous mess of game developers trying to sell each other their creations.

Identify the people you do want to reach, and then find out what hashtags they use and where they congregate. To do this, a combination of Googling for fansites and hashtag research for social media can help you to zone in on the right gamers ( is an excellent tool to help with the latter).

  1. Have a compelling trailer

No, not that kind of trailer…

Trailers are one of the most important aspects of your marketing activities, and to some extent can make or break your game’s success (it won’t matter if you get ten thousand gamers to watch your video, if it makes your game look like a piece of crap that nobody in their right mind would get excited about).

Here’s some tips for a great game trailer:

  • Keep it short – a good rule of thumb is to not exceed a 1-minute duration unless you have a really, really good reason. People online have short attention spans, and if you can’t hook them in 60 seconds you’ve got a problem.
  • Be sure to feature a lot of gameplay – this sounds obvious, but everybody hates those trailers that are basically just cutscenes and flavour narration and don’t show you what the actual game is. Triple-A development teams with established followers can get away with this, but everybody else? Nope.
  • Identify upfront what you want your trailer to say. You’ve got one minute of your viewer’s attention to communicate the essence of your project, so clarify this before you start editing the video. For example, you might say, “I want the viewer to know that this is a horror game with a creepy vibe and not too much action.”  Use that motto to guide your decisions about which shots to include in the trailer and how to communicate that with the presentation.
  • Don’t front-load a bunch of logos; nobody wants to sit through several seconds of “So-and-so Game Studios presents…” stuff before anything happens. If you have to have those idents in there, consider putting them at the end.
  • Make sure your game’s Unique Selling Point (USP) comes across very clearly – if you’ve been able to make a game with a compelling hook, your trailer should be shouting that from the rooftops. If you’re lucky enough to have any awards, accolades, good reviews, or a previously well-received game project under your belt, then get it all in there as well. You know, “From the makers of…”
  1. Utilise calls to action

This is Marketing 101 – if you’ve gone to the trouble of putting your promotional materials in front of a lot of people, you should definitely make sure they know what to do about them.

A call to action instructs someone to take action then and there, and it can simply be something like, “Buy now!”, “Play now”, “Buy it here”. It might sound obvious, but a surprising number of developers just put their material out without really stating what they’d like people to do with it.

If your game hasn’t come out yet, you can’t do a call to action, right? Wrong! You still want to gather up all those interested gamers so that they can later find out when the product gets released – so your calls to action in this situation might be things like:

  • Wishlist the game here!
  • Follow us for more updates!
  • Sign up to our mailing list!
  • Check out our development blog!

A person who sees your marketing material, and is interested, should not be left wondering what to do to find out more – so make sure there’s a clear instruction they can quickly carry out.

  1. Think twice about courting YouTubers and streamers

Yes, this flies in the face of a lot of conventional wisdom when it comes to marketing games, but the truth is that getting streamer coverage of your game isn’t a magic potion for mega-sales – in fact, it may even harm you.

The Binding Of Isaac
The Binding Of Isaac

It’s true that there is a type of game that can benefit hugely from video coverage. If your game has a lot of generated content and variation in play experiences, then getting big views on YouTube can make your game look like a fun experience without spoiling anything; some games, such as the procedurally-generated The Binding Of Isaac, owe a huge portion of their success to Twitch users watching streamers having fun with the game and deciding that they wanted to play, too.

But consider a more content-authored game, one with a linear narrative progression – what are the chances that somebody will watch a video of the gameplay and then “not need to play it” for themselves? Who would want to buy a puzzle game after watching their favourite YouTuber find all the solutions? Depending on the type of game you’re promoting, you may well decide that streamer and YouTube coverage is unlikely to work for you and focus your efforts elsewhere.

In the end, the most effective videogame marketing strategy is one intelligently tailored to the specific project you’re selling. By starting your promotional efforts as early as you can and carefully targeting the people most likely to be interested, you can sometimes achieve great results even with little to no financial outlay.

Facebook & Instagram Algorithm Updates To Be Aware Of In 2018

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular and potentially powerful social media tools in the world of business – and in recent months, algorithm updates have made them smarter than ever. The machines are learning, and marketers and brands will need to adapt to and play by their rules.

For many digital marketers, hearing the word ‘algorithm’ provokes a sensation that’s not a million miles away from having ice water poured over your nether-regions while someone removes your appendix with a rusty spoon. 

While algorithm updates might have historically only been seen as a part of search engine marketing, things have changed – fast. Social media may once have offered a brief respite from the hoop-jumping forced upon us by pandas, penguins, and a host of other seemingly innocuous fluffy animals, but alas, things have changed.

These AI systems are now an integral part of almost all social media platforms – and in recent months, Facebook and Instagram in particular have seen some fairly hefty changes.

In January, the world of marketing trembled as Mark Zuckerberg (the social media equivalent of a demigod) announced that Facebook’s algorithm would be altered (again) to favour content created by friends and family. Brands are reeling, but this is far from the only change in the social media game.

From virtual sin-binning to banned hashtags, these are the Facebook and Instagram algorithm updates marketers should be aware of in 2018:

Facebook Algorithm Updates

Facebook’s algorithm is getting smarter…

Arguably the Godfather of all social media platforms, Facebook has gone through a huge number of changes over the years.

The newsfeed that many of us take for granted today is, relatively speaking, a fairly recent addition – and the algorithm used to determine who sees what and when has become frighteningly advanced.

In January, Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement of Facebook’s content-serving reshuffle resonated with the marketing world – and struck fear into the hearts of countless social media executives, marketers, and business owners.

Cries of the ‘death of Facebook marketing’ were echoed among the community, and while this seems a little hyperbolic, things have certainly changed, and marketers need to make sure they’re clued in to how Facebook is going to ‘think’ from now on.

Here are a few key algorithm updates to the platform that you might not be aware of, and what this means for your Facebook strategy:

1. Facebook is prioritising content from family and friends (again)

This is less of a dramatic change, and more of a return to form. Unfortunately, from a user perspective Facebook has become less of a social platform, and something closer to an enormous digital advertising board.  

Those of us who logged in to Facebook when it first launched all the way back in 2004 will remember that originally, the whole point was to connect us with other people, not brands or companies.

In fact, Facebook didn’t even have a newsfeed until 2006 – and the ‘like’ button didn’t get introduced until 2009. That’s right, content on the Facebook newsfeed was unlikeable for 3 years, and for the first 24 months of its existence, you couldn’t even see user content without specifically searching for your friends’ pages. *shudder*.

Over the years, the newsfeed has gone through many incarnations: from displaying posts in chronological order, to giving more sway to content that had the most engagement, and even a few weird iterations of the two.

The purpose has always been, according to Zuckerberg, to show people what they want to see. And no matter how well crafted your company or client’s content, chances are people would rather be reading about their friends’ recent drunken holiday stories than learning what your brand has to offer them.

On January the 11th, 2018, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was aligning itself with “a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being”, and admitted businesses are going to have to work harder than ever to gain customers’ attention.

How businesses should respond:

In essence, Zuckerberg has already answered this one for us. Bluntly put, businesses and marketers are just going to have to work harder, and take more care, in order to get their content in front of users. 

This might seem a little trite or vague, but the key takeaway is that the algorithm has its crosshairs on content created by company pages. In other words, you shouldn’t be posting anything you wouldn’t want to see on your own personal newsfeed.

One useful tactic will be to focus on content that can generate interaction between individual users, not just between users and the company.

Posts that stimulate conversation or tap into people’s desire to share things with their network might (and we stress the word ‘might’) be able to break out of the digital reach jail cell that businesses on Facebook currently find themselves in.

This focus on engagement is a vital one, and one that brings us nicely onto the next point:

2. If people don’t engage with your content, it’s going in the Facebin.

We’re not sure we ‘like’ the sound of this… (we’ll see ourselves out.)

Engagement has always been an important metric, but Facebook’s algorithm is now going to be even more scrutinous of posts from businesses when it comes to likes, comments, and shares.

If your content doesn’t receive a good amount of engagement (and what constitutes a ‘good amount’ is entirely at the behest of the algorithm), then Facebook’s bot is more likely than ever to decide it’s unworthy of appearing on your potential customers’ newsfeeds – and relegate it to the digital rubbish bin.

Worst still, it seems that if you’re on the receiving end of such virtual sin-binning, then the content you publish following your ill-received post will be deemed less worthy, and will in turn be shown to fewer users.

This implies that businesses failing to receive enough engagement on their posts could find themselves in a vicious circle, whereby a post’s poor engagement leads to the following post being shown to fewer people, which leads to even worse engagement metrics, etc. etc.

How businesses should respond:

The simple solution to this is, unfortunately, not that simple. The implication of these changes is that the best way to ensure your content reaches a consistent number of people is probably to opt for paid media, via promoted posts.

Content curation is more important than ever

Facebook is still offering the same comprehensive advertising package, and promoting content is a surefire way to get it in front of a wide, targeted audience. Although it also means sticking budget towards your campaign, and it won’t have an impact on organic reach.

The other option is simply to take a lot more time in crafting your content. Study your insight data carefully to determine what works, and what doesn’t.

Create content that users simply can’t resist sharing or engaging with: be humorous, provocative (in a positive way), and original. Generate discussion – but whatever you do, don’t beg for engagement.

Which leads us nicely to:

3. If you beg for engagement, Facebook can tell – and punish you accordingly

No one wants to receive poor levels of interaction on social media, and businesses looking to rectify downward-curving engagement metrics might feel tempted to simply ask people to engage with them.

It’s annoyingly common to see pages begging users for engagement with phrases such as ‘Like this post if you think X, or Share this post if you prefer Y’, along with other tactics used to try and game the algorithm – but Facebook has clamped down on this too.

Asking users to Like, Share, or Comment on content has been dubbed ‘engagement bait’ by Facebook, and these tactics will also be feeling the wrath of the latest algorithm update. Since December 2017, Facebook has been penalising content that uses phrases such as these, with repeat offenders having all of their posts demoted.

Quit it Fido, no one likes begging

How businesses should respond:

A fairly obvious point, but don’t ask people to engage with you. As mentioned previously, great content speaks for itself – ask questions, or create posts that inherently stimulate engagement, but resist the urge to ask people to hit the like button outright.

One thing you can (currently) point users in the direction of, is the ‘see first’ option. By visiting a business page, users can hover over the ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ icon, and click ‘see first’.

This acts like a vote in favour of your brand’s content, and means that when you post something, it’ll be a lot more likely to be shown to those who opted to ‘see first’.

This ability to tactfully point users in the direction of the setting could mean that even if your content starts to reach fewer people, those that actually do want to see your posts will still be able to do so.

Just be careful and respectful when giving your followers this advice – don’t demand or insist they do so, and try to highlight that this is simply a way for users who enjoy your posts to ensure they continue to see them.

This also comes with the caveat that you need to be creating content that users actively want to keep receiving in the first place. And remember that things change regularly in Facebook-Land; if this becomes another spammy tactic used by brands, then the algorithm may start to recognise it as ‘engagement bait’ too.

Instagram Algorithm Updates

Instagram used to be so quaint. Images of quinoa and other hipster meals were a common feature, along with more photos of animals than the entire National Geographic back catalogue. But while Instagram was a fun platform, it wasn’t always seen as a great marketing tool.

Boy, do times change. With over 800 million active users as of September 2017, Instagram has become the global epicentre of image-based marketing, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

As the key platform for many influencers, Instagram has quickly become a must-use tool for any brands with a visual or aesthetic aspect to their services and products, and there are thriving communities for almost every niche imaginable.

But with this popularity comes a catch.  

In in the early days of the internet, SEOs and marketers quickly discovered how to game the search engines’ keyword ranking algorithms – but these strategies were identified, and stamped out. A similar thing has happened to Instagram.

When the platform was first identified by marketers and brands as a source of potential customer reach and lead generation, a few simple tactics could ensure your posts were seen by a huge number of people.

It was only a matter of time, then, before the platform became clogged with content that people didn’t really want to see. Lo and behold, the platform’s algorithm has now been changed to prevent marketers abusing Instagram.

Posts are getting far less exposure than they used to, with estimations that only around 10% of your following actually see your published photos. In 2016, Instagram abandoned its chronological timeline, favouring content that was more ‘interesting and engaging’. Sound familiar?

This (along with many other updates to the algorithm) has far-reaching implications for marketers and brands aiming to use the platform for business. Here are a few of the most important Instagram algorithm updates to be aware of in 2018:

1. Instagram wants us to tell stories

Launched in 2016, Instagram’s story feature falls in line with the rising demand for instant, ephemeral content first popularised by platforms like Vine and Snapchat.

Instagram stories have continued to soar in popularity, with over 300 million users actively engaging with the feature daily (almost double that of Snapchat).

This seems a logical pattern with a platform that’s constantly updating and changing the content displayed in its newsfeed. Many users are familiar with the sense of frustration that comes after a big update to a platform they know and love, so it makes sense that with Instagram shaking user feeds up so much, people are turning to Stories as a more reliable source of content from accounts they actually care about.

What’s particularly interesting is the fact that this is now having an impact on how well an account’s content performs in the standard feed. Instagram takes the engagement of stories (including the number of times they’re viewed) into account when deciding which posts to feature in users’ news feeds.

How businesses should respond:

The key thing is that businesses and marketers shouldn’t ignore the potential of Instagram stories, and should dedicate some time to finding ways to integrate it into their Insta strategy.

Put simply, create stories that generate decent engagement, and your standard posts will be shown to more people.

Spending some time to figure out how this could be used in relation to your own brand’s content could be the key to ensuring your posts are seen by a wider audience.

Stories offer a great opportunity to capitalise on timely content that doesn’t always need as much curating as a normal post. Short videos and behind-the-scenes snaps perform particularly well here, along with ‘exclusive’ previews of products, events, and other news pertinent to your brand.

Instagram even offers a few features that only integrate with stories, such as the increasingly popular ‘polling feature’ (allowing you to create a multiple choice poll on a story image, which inherently stimulates engagement).

Stories offer a great way to show a more personal side to your brand too, and make users feel like they’re ‘getting to know you’. (Nawww.)

2. Instagram feels the need – the need for speed (and time spent viewing posts)

Time is of the essence with Instagram engagement…

Another relatively new update to the way Instagram rates engagement is an increased emphasis on speed. Yep, it’s no longer just about how many likes and comments you can get; it’s also about how quickly you can get them. On top of this, the algorithm also now takes into account how much time users spend looking at your content.

The logic behind this seems fairly straightforward – if a post gets published and then immediately gets a lot of likes and shares, it’s probably a good post. Similarly, a picture that people look at for longer is probably worth looking at.

How businesses should respond:

It might be tempting to organise a Mission Impossible-esque synchronisation of likes among everyone you know with an Instagram account, but in reality, the best way to ensure you get that all-important early engagement is to be crafty with your timing.

Instagram provides a useful analytics tool for business accounts, that lets you know the times of day when your followers are most active. You should be using this as a guideline every time you post, as these peak activity times usually vary on different days of the week.

Try to coincide your publishing with these times to get a surge of likes and engagement as soon as your post goes live, which should show Instagram that you’re the best darn brand around.

When it comes to time spent viewing your content, things are a little trickier. You need to try and find ways to stop users in their tracks when they see your content, instead of scrolling past without giving it a second thought.

They key to success here lies both in the quality of images you post, and the captions you write. Try to only upload good photos, and take a bit of pride in making your images aesthetically pleasing. If you need to, spend a day or two taking an abundance of Insta-worthy snaps, that you can draw upon for a few weeks or months to come.

Similarly, when it comes to captions, quality is vital. Instagram doesn’t display an entire caption to a user until they click the ‘see more’ option, so your first two lines are crucial. Ask a question, add some intrigue, make people laugh, and try to find things to say that users will want to continue reading.

3. #Bannedhashtags

“Oh hey #books! Huh? You want to be tagged in our next post? uh, this is awkward…”

In our most recent blog post, we looked into things your brand should be doing with instagram hashtags, and one that really stands out in 2018 is the introduction of banned tags. Sadly, the world is full of people who – intentionally or not – end up ruining things for everyone else. This is exactly what’s happened to Instagram hashtags.

By posting content that violates Instagram’s community guidelines to specific hashtags, spammy accounts have managed to get these tags banned. Nice one, dicks. This is why we can’t have nice things.

If an account uses a banned hashtag, the content associated with the tag won’t appear in the feeds of those it may otherwise have reached. Accounts regularly using banned tags can even have their entire accounts ‘shadowbanned’: a penalty imposed by the algorithm that prevents any future posts (and sometimes all past content) from being seen by anyone but existing followers, or even anyone at all. *quakes in fear of our mighty robot overlords*

How businesses should respond:

The most important thing is to be careful whenever you’re using hashtags on Instagram, and avoid using any banned tags at all. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to find out if your chosen #s are greenlit or not, so, annoyingly, you’ll need to do things manually.

#balls is officially a no go. Balls.

In Instagram, if you search for a phrase and the relevant term doesn’t appear as a viewable hashtag, it’s been banned. Some tags are still searchable however, so even if it appears in the dropdown list, don’t stop there.

Click on the tag, and see if you can scroll down through the images using it; after a few historic ‘top posts’, banned tags will prevent you from scrolling, and will display a message saying something like this:

‘recent posts from #example are currently hidden because the community has reported some content that may not meet Instagram’s community guidelines’ 

If you see that message, don’t use that hashtag.

What’s particularly surprising is just how seemingly harmless some of these banned tags are – you might assume that none of the hashtags you’d want to use could be associated with anything seedy, but this isn’t always true.

Case in point: #books and #desks – banned. (We know, ridiculous.)

It might seem like an agonising and time consuming process to check every tag you use, but it’s important not to leave this to chance. Make a list of the tags you’ve used and that you know are all clear. And if you come up with a hashtag that you’d like to use, only to discover it’s been banned, add it to the naughty list and avoid.

Final thoughts

The ever-changing algorithms used by Facebook and Instagram might be a source of endless frustration, but ultimately, they’re simply trying to ensure that the end user experience is a positive one.

These updates are just steps along the way to ensuring that the content we get to see is the kind of content we want to see, not the content that’s been shoved in front of us against our will.

As we move into 2018 and beyond, these updates are a sign of a simple premise that should be at the heart of social media marketing for businesses – create content for the user, not for yourself. Craft posts people genuinely want to see, and that stimulate engagement, and you algorithms will continue to show it to them.


Why Your Business Should Engage With Influencers (And How To Do It)

Influencers. To some, the appeal of these social media celebrities is baffling and ephemeral. The idea that shouty YouTubers can have a bigger and more specialised audience than most primetime TV spots simply doesn’t compute, and isn’t worth thinking about.

This line of thinking has solidified in the wake of the PewDiePie scandals and YouTube’s unfortunate ad placements. These platforms seem scary, and many industry figureheads are willing to bet that ‘influencer marketing’ is a bubble waiting to burst.

However, this is short-sighted. Like any new trend or platform, influencer marketing is simply stuck between flailing infancy and market saturation, and yet to be utilised properly. Here’s how you can ride out the pessimism, avoid the mistakes, and use influencers to their full potential. Continue reading “Why Your Business Should Engage With Influencers (And How To Do It)”

Trump: Genius or Fuckwit?

As we leave the period of unending suffering formerly known as 2016, many questions remain unanswered. For the bulk of the continental United States, the main one is “can I freeze myself for four years?”

But the ever pragmatic business community has a different set of questions: what do the likes of Trump’s election victory and Brexit say about the needs and mores of the public? Are they all idiots, and if so, can we take advantage of that?

How can the principles of their successful campaigns be applied to business marketing and brand image? Is it possible or wise for that strength of resolve, personality projection and ignorance of facts and morals to be applied by businesses in any way? Continue reading “Trump: Genius or Fuckwit?”

What Do The New Facebook “Reactions” Mean For Your Brand?

Things are about to get a lot more emotional over on Facebook. After years of resisting a “dislike” button for fear of making the social media behemoth too negative, Mark Zuckerberg has introduced Facebook Reactions – icons that allow users to respond in a much more emotionally expressive manner than has previously been available. While the “Like” button is still in action, the narrow scope of this function (where you were limited to either liking or ignoring a post. Unless of course you decided to comment with your opinions instead, which anyone who’s ended up in a Facebook argument with oddly virulent strangers knows can be a big mistake) led to users demanding more options.

In this update, this is exactly what they have. Now you can love a post, express your sadness, and even let people know your frustration. With some small potential to ruin friendships, (“Why did you say that my selfie made you angry?!”) posts will now show their top three reactions- putting brands in the new position of knowing when their followers and customers have responded negatively to their content.  Or, indeed, absolutely loved it.

fackbook reactions
Image Credit: Facebook

This is fairly unchartered territory. People are famously free and easy with their opinions on the internet, and can be much ruder than they would ever be in real life. This being said, more often than not people on Facebook would either like a post, or scroll past it, even when it elicited a minor negative reaction. The lack of an appropriate response to convey their feelings meant that they simply went unrecorded.

Previously, brands would know by the number of engagements- measured in comments and likes- how their content had gone down, but only in the broadest sense possible. Now, if you were aiming to be funny, you can have a much better idea whether the joke completely bombed by the lack of “Haha” reactions. You’ll also be much more aware if you’ve pissed customers off. Of course, if you wanted to evoke an angry emotion in your audience (perhaps in a “look how outrageous and unfair this is”) then an “Angry” response will be exactly what you were looking for, but generally brands will be aiming to be Loved.

Unfortunately, although you can assess with much more accuracy how people feel about your branded content with Reactions, in marketing terms it’s still a very blunt tool. An “Angry” response counts as engagement as much as a “Love” response does, and at the time being companies have no powers to target their content according to these reactions. So a post may be getting an overwhelmingly negative response – but it’s still engagement, and Facebook will still target your ads at these Facebook users, simply because they have interacted with you.

In finding out more about your audience, and tailoring your content, Facebook Reactions will be an incredibly useful tool. Being able to distinguish between what people have Liked and Loved will give a much greater insight into what goes down really well, rather than just fairly well, and you can assess whether your posts have had the emotional response that you intended. You will also know very quickly if a large number of people have found your post offensive, and it will increase empathetic relationships between brand and consumer.

A potential downside, apart from the current inability to target ads based on Reactions, is a new nervousness when you are creating content. Even a few “Angry” responses that you didn’t foresee or intend could really throw you off your stride and shake confidence, especially given the very public nature of this medium. Here it’s important to remember that not everyone will be a fan. If your pleasing most people, then there’s not an issue, especially as only the top three reactions will be displayed to those viewing your posts.

Targeting your ads accurately so they do not irritate the people for whom they are irrelevant will be a good start in making sure your reactions are positive, and you should be aware that many more people are now going to be empowered to interact with your content. Where the limited emotional range of the “Like” button meant that many people who would see your posts didn’t engage with them, the Reaction buttons gives them much more a chance to do so. This could be a great opportunity for your brand, and this new insight could end up improving your social media presence and benefitting your business.

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