• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • As the year draws to a close, I thought now would be a good time to look at what the next twelve months hold for social media marketing.

    As the year draws to a close, I thought now would be a good time to look at what the next twelve months hold for social media marketing.

    With anything in the digital industry, social media is developing at a rapid rate, so it’s worth taking a look at what direction it will be taking in 2015.

    If you’re also interested in the SEO/content side of things, Amy will be sharing her Top 7 SEO and Content Predictions For 2015 tomorrow!

    1) Much More Video Content

    While video has been a popular social media marketing option for a while, I think it’ll gain a lot more traction in 2015.

    With the rise of young video bloggers (or vloggers) such as Zoella, Tanya Burr and Alfie Deyes (they have millions of YouTube subscribers each and have signed beauty and book deals worth thousands of pounds), it won’t be surprising to see brands jumping on the video bandwagon, with some of the larger companies vying for the chance to have one of the famous vloggers front their campaigns.

    2) Goodbye Google+?

    2015 might be the time that Google says au revoir to its own social network for good.

    As Vic Gundotra – Google’s Senior Vice President of Social and the “father of Google+” – announced he was leaving the company back in April, and Google killed Authorship back in August, so it seems that they’re phasing out the platform.

    A lot of people spent time building their Google+ profiles in hopes that their content would appear higher in search results, but now that Authorship’s been scrapped, it wouldn’t be surprising to see people migrating away from the network, and Google ultimately closing the project.

    3) Even More Paid Social

    Anyone who manages a company’s social media presence will know that Facebook has been dramatically decreasing organic page reach in a bid to promote their paid advertising offerings, and that unless you’re a huge brand with a significant following, the only way to reach all of your fans is to stump up the cash.

    Couple this with Pinterest rolling out its Promoted Pins feature to more businesses in August, and Twitter expanding their advertising offerings to include more specific mobile targeting, businesses will more than likely boost their social media advertising efforts, as well as explore the possibility of hiring paid social media experts (we covered this in our digital job trends blog here).

    4) Mobile

    It seems an obvious prediction to make, but there are lots of reasons to suggest that 2015 will see an even more dramatic increase in focus on mobile-first in terms of social media marketing and advertising.

    With Twitter developing its advertising platform and giving businesses the chance to target users by mobile network and users with new mobile devices, as well as buying mobile ad firm Tap Commerce back in July, it’s clear that social is leaning heavily towards mobile.

    With this in mind, it won’t be surprising to see teams in larger companies purely focused on mobile social media advertising.

    5) Bigger Use of Data/Analytics

    Several social media platforms have really upped their game when it comes to analytics and data on offer in 2014, so I would expect to see even smaller companies making more use of the information on offer to them in 2015.

    This comes after Pinterest released its revamped, incredibly detailed analytics dashboard in June, and Twitter announced that they’re experimenting with inbuilt analytics within tweets last month, so it’s clear that social media platforms are keen to share their data with their customers, and this will have a knock-on effect on businesses who will use this information for more intelligent social media marketing.

    So there we go, some predictions on social media marketing in 2015. Do you think these will happen in the next 12 months, or do you have any predictions of your own?

    Let me know in the comments below!

    McKinsey & Company recently published "How Big Data Can Improve Manufacturing," which provides insightful analysis of how big data and advanced analytics can streamline biopharmaceutical, chemical and discrete manufacturing. The article highlights how manufacturers in process-based industries are using advanced analytics to increase yields and reduce costs. Manufacturers have an abundance of operational and shop floor data that is being used for tracking today.

    McKinsey & Company recently published How Big Data Can Improve Manufacturing, which provides insightful analysis of how big data and advanced analytics can streamline biopharmaceutical, chemical and discrete manufacturing.

    The article highlights how manufacturers in process-based industries are using advanced analytics to increase yields and reduce costs. Manufacturers have an abundance of operational and shop floor data that is being used for tracking today.  The McKinsey article shows through several examples how big data and advanced analytics applications and platforms can deliver operational insights as well.

    The following graphic from the article illustrates how big data and advanced analytics are streamlining manufacturing value chains by finding the core determinants of process performance, and then taking action to continually improve them:

    Advanced Analytics Big Data in Manufacturing

    Big Data’s Impact on Manufacturing Is Growing

    In addition to the examples provided in the McKinsey article, there are ten ways big data is revolutionizing manufacturing:

    • Increasing the accuracy, quality and yield of biopharmaceutical production.  It is common in biopharmaceutical production flows to monitor more than 200 variables to ensure the purity of the ingredients as well as the substances being made stay in compliance. One of the many factors that makes biopharmaceutical production so challenging is that yields can vary from 50 to 100% for no immediately discernible reason. Using advanced analytics, a manufacturer was able to track the nine parameters that most explained yield variation. Based on this insight they were able to increase the vaccine’s yield by 50%, worth between $5M to $10M in yearly savings for the single vaccine alone.
    • Accelerating the integration of IT, manufacturing and operational systems making the vision of Industrie 4.0 a reality. Industrie 4.0 is a German government initiative that promotes automation of the manufacturing industry with the goal of developing Smart Factories. Big data is already being used for optimizing production schedules based on supplier, customer, machine availability and cost constraints. Manufacturing value chains in highly regulated industries that rely on German suppliers and manufacturers are making rapid strides with Industrie 4.0 today.  As this initiative serves as a catalyst to galvanize diverse multifunctional departments together, big data and advanced analytics will become critical to its success.
    • Better forecasts of product demand and production (46%), understanding plant performance across multiple metrics (45%) and providing service and support to customers faster (39%) are the top three areas big data can improve manufacturing performance.   These findings are from a recent survey LNS Research and MESA International completed to see where big data is delivering the greatest manufacturing performance improvements today. You can find the original blog post here.

    LNS Graphic

    • Integrating advanced analytics across the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control) framework to fuel continuous improvement.  Getting greater insights into how each phase of a DMAIC-driven improvement program is working, and how the efforts made impact all other areas of manufacturing performance is nascent today. This area shows great potential to make production workflows more customer-driven than ever before.
    • Greater visibility into supplier quality levels, and greater accuracy in predicting supplier performance over time.  Using big data and advanced analytics, manufacturers are able to view product quality and delivery accuracy in real-time, making trade-offs on which suppliers receive the most time-sensitive orders.  Managing to quality metrics becomes the priority over measuring delivery schedule performance alone.
    • Measuring compliance and traceability to the machine level becomes possible. Using sensors on all machinery in a production center provides operations managers with immediate visibility into how each is operating. Having advanced analytics can also show quality, performance and training variances by each machine and its operators.  This is invaluable in streamlining workflows in a production center, and is becoming increasingly commonplace.
    • Selling only the most profitable customized or build-to-order configurations of products that impact production the least.  For many complex manufacturers, customized or build-to-order products deliver higher-than-average gross margins yet also costs exponentially more if production processes aren’t well planned.  Using advanced analytics, manufacturers are discovering which of the myriad of build-to-order configurations they can sell with the most minimal impact to existing production schedules to the machine scheduling, staffing and shop floor level.
    • Breaking quality management and compliance systems out of their silos and making them a corporate priority.  It’s time for more manufacturers to take a more strategic view of quality and quit being satisfied with standalone, siloed quality management and compliance systems.  The McKinsey article and articles listed at the end of this post provide many examples of how big data and analytics are providing insights into which parameters matter most to quality management and compliance. The majority of these parameters are corporate-wide, not just limited to quality management or compliance departments alone.
    • Quantify how daily production impacts financial performance with visibility to the machine level. Big data and advanced analytics are delivering the missing link that can unify daily production activity to the financial performance of a manufacturer.  Being able to know to the machine level if the factory floor is running efficiently, production planners and senior managementknow how best to scale operations.  By unifying daily production to financial metrics, manufacturers have a greater chance of profitably scaling their operations.
    • Service becomes strategic and a contributor to customers’ goals by monitoring products and proactively providing preventative maintenance recommendations.  Manufacturers are starting to look at the more complex products they produce as needing an operating system to manage the sensors onboard. These sensors report back activity and can send alerts for preventative maintenance. Big data and analytics will make the level of recommendations contextual for the first time so customers can get greater value. General Electric is doing this today with its jet engines and drilling platforms for example.

    Additional sources of information on Big Data in Manufacturing:

    Courtesy – Louis Columbus

    top image: big data / shutterstock

    Companies need to know that as attractive as BYOD can be, that doesn’t mean they should ignore the costs that can come with it. Few policies are without some drawbacks, so a realistic approach to BYOD can foster the benefits while appropriately examining the costs. With the right plan in place, the transition to BYOD can be a smooth and productive process, paying dividends for many years to come.

    With all the hype surrounding bring your own device (BYOD), it’s easy to see why businesses are so eager to adopt BYOD policies. For one thing, there’s the promise of getting more productivity out of employees since they’re more familiar with the devices they can now use at work. That can also lead to higher rates of job satisfaction from all who participate in a BYOD program. Beyond these benefits, many companies are also enticed at the prospect of cutting costs through BYOD. After all, having employees use their own devices seems like it would lead to lower operating costs since organizations wouldn’t have to provide the devices themselves. This line of thinking, however, might not be entirely accurate. So businesses need to think beyond what is BYOD and instead ask themselves if it really saves money.

    There is no true consensus as to whether BYOD by itself saves organizations money. Some studies, like the 2012 research done by the Aberdeen Group, show large businesses actually lose money as they adopt BYOD. That Aberdeen study found organizations that used at least a thousand mobile devices spent $170,000 extra on BYOD each year when compared to other mobile plans that used corporate-owned devices. While that may seem convincing, other studies and use cases show different results, where business actually saved money in the long run when adopting a BYOD policy. From these differing results, it becomes clear that simply implementing BYOD may not be enough to save on costs; it’s how the expenses from BYOD are managed that is the most crucial component.

    One area that certainly deserves attention is the hidden costs that can accumulate from having employees bring their own devices to work. Without knowledge of these unexpected burdens, the costs of BYOD can quickly spiral out of control, effectively minimizing any benefits that could come from the program. The biggest source of concern with hidden expenses usually originates from employees engaging in costly behaviors. When expenses are paid for by the company, some workers may end up taking advantage of this and billing their employer for expensive data plans they normally wouldn’t purchase. Employees that are out on the road a lot may accrue roaming charges that the company would have to take care of. Some workers may also choose to upgrade their phones, again having their employer foot the bill. The key to ensuring none of these expenses gets out of control is to outline clearly in the BYOD policy which actions and behaviors are allowable and which are out of bounds. Equally important is the enforcement of these guidelines to make sure employees are always following the rules.

    Perhaps the most important thing all businesses should focus on when adopting BYOD is the way the program will reimburse the employees. Some companies may choose to simply give employees a monthly stipend to cover the added costs that will add up from using personal devices on the job. A second option is to have employees fill out expense reports that will see them get reimbursed for specific charges. Either option is a viable strategy, but each one should be approached carefully, knowing full well that there are potential costs to each choice.

    Handling expense reports is a straightforward solution with its own hidden costs. While the reimbursement is itself a cost that needs to be calculated, each expense report is also an added expense. According to business analysts, the cost of processing an expense report can range from $15 to $20. In large companies, the total cost can add up quickly. Part of that expense comes from having to deal with different parts of the company, like the finance and IT departments. The best way to manage the reports is to allow employees to file them less frequently, at least quarterly or even yearly. As for stipends, management should take a larger role in centrally planning how stipends are given out. That amount should be determined by factors such as the employee’s role, expected device usage, etc. Having a centrally managed BYOD plan also allows companies to negotiate better plans with providers, thereby reducing the costs of BYOD even further.

    Companies need to know that as attractive as BYOD can be, that doesn’t mean they should ignore the costs that can come with it. Few policies are without some drawbacks, so a realistic approach to BYOD can foster the benefits while appropriately examining the costs. With the right plan in place, the transition to BYOD can be a smooth and productive process, paying dividends for many years to come.

    The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is out with its annual list of content marketing predictions. Here are a few of them that stood out for me.

    The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is out with its annual list of content marketing predictions. The organization published its list in a blog post yesterday titled 60 Content Marketing Predictions for 2015.

    It’s hard to believe CMI has been publishing predictions on “content marketing” for seven years because it doesn’t feel that long, perhaps serves to underscore the important role of data.  While my own writing on these very pages often laments how far we have to go – one thing that struck me in reading through this year’s predictions was the realization of just how far we’ve come.

    It is perhaps, the beauty of paradox: it is nearly impossible to look forward without in some way, shape, or form, reflecting on the past.

    Below are a few content marketing predictions – in some cases bits of predictions – from this year’s list that stood out for me, though I’d encourage readers to make time to read through the entire deck. 

    1. Content by acquisition.

    “Medium-sized and large businesses will begin to purchase niche media companies because they thirst to create real relationships with targeted audiences,” says Joe Pulizzi, who founded CMI.

    In my view this is a well-grounded strategy for business leaders who take the time to understand the media landscape shake up – and the opportunity in developing a community. What Adobe has done with CMO.com and CDW with BizTech Magazine, for example, are notable proof points.

    Joe’s book also tops my reading list for any business leader trying to understand what content marketing means for business.  Here’s my take on his book: 8 Epic Takeaways from Joe Pulizzi’s Epic Content Marketing.

    2. Rise of marketing ops.

    “In B2B in 2015, we will see…Marketing ops will come of age,” writes Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners, based in the UK.

    I couldn’t agree with Doug more, because I view this as a corporate huge pain point that can only be solved from within. More than just driving consensus on what is and what is not a qualified lead – and then routing those accordingly – I see marketing ops as the engine behind marketing automation, to include people, process and technology.

    Marketing ops needs to be both business marketing and technology consultants.  They need to be able to paint artful pictures, draw effective flow charts all while writing scripts in code to link together tech systems.

    3. Cooperative content.

    “2015 will bring decentralized content creation programs with participants across the company (not just marketing), as well as content initiatives that rely on user-generated content in expanded and highly strategic ways. The best source of content in most companies may be right under your nose: your employees and customers,” says Jay Baer of Convince and Convert.

    In my heart of hearts, I could not agree with Jay more. The businesses that nails this prediction in 2015 will find good fortune.  Jay has also written a book that I place quite high on my recommended content marketing reading list.  Here’s my review: Book Review: 7 Takeaways from Jay Baer’s YOUtility.

    4. Participation marketing.

    “Participation marketing is co-creating content with existing customers, partners and especially with prospective customers in the community, and I think we’ll see a lot more of that kind of crowdsourcing, which will affect content development and promotions,” says Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing.

    Lee is an absolute master of co-creating content. It’ll take just a few minutes of scrolling through the posts on his agency’s blog the Online Marketing Blog to see examples.

    I have followed Lee’s blog for a very long time – probably longer than any other marketing blog I still read consistently. So when he published his book…you guessed it…I called it a must read.  Here’s the review: Nine Takeaways from Lee Odden’s Optimize.

    5. Distribution side of the equation.

    “Content creation has gotten a lot of attention lately, but content management and distribution will rule the day in 2015,” writes Mike Myers who pens a blog titled Always content, never content.

    Creation gets all of the glory but distribution must account for the other half of the content marketing equation.  This seems to be a recurring conversation of late, I have the sense Mike is right and predicting a renewed focus on distribution is a pragmatic expectation for the next 12 months.

    6. Content marketing as a minimum barrier to entry.

    As for my own prediction, here’s what CMI found fit for print (click here or image to enlarge):

    Pragmatic Content Marketing Predictions

    I’d be interested in your views, so please feel free to sound off in the comments.

    Photo credit: Flickr, Rob Shenk; CC BY-SA 2.0

    There are many different types of native ads, and two of the most common ones are search advertising as well as content marketing, the latter being particularly useful for businesses who are trying to increase their brand awareness, to diversify their target market as well as to boost their revenue. Sponsor-funded content is often placed alongside editorial content, with the specific purpose of reaching the target audience.

    There are many different types of native ads, and two of the most common ones are search advertising as well as content marketing, the latter being particularly useful for businesses who are trying to increase their brand awareness, to diversify their target market as well as to boost their revenue. Sponsor-funded content is often placed alongside editorial content, with the specific purpose of reaching the target audience. 

    Why Are Businesses Expected To Invest More In Native Ads In 2015?

    The answer to this question is very simple: native advertising is flourishing across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms and content portals, as well as news websites and streaming services. More than two billion people have constant access to Internet, and this is precisely why native advertising is one of the most efficient and straightforward ways to send a message and to raise visibility for a product or a service, thus helping business owners increase their sales and awareness. 

    At the same time, another reason why the native ads spending will increase is because an increasing number of people have started to rely on mobile devices, such as tablets or smart phones, in order to access their favorite news portal for information or to buy items online, from retailers and online marketplaces. Statistically speaking, it was proven more than once that native ads are the most efficient in the content streams that are commonly accessed by mobile phone users – and media publishers, advertisers, marketers and business owners certainly want to make the best of that. In addition to this, recent surveys have revealed that the print ad spending is expected to decrease by $1 billion in the United States in the next few years – while the print ad spending records a decline, the online advertising industry (and native advertising in particular) will record a significant increase. 

    In the United States alone, the digital ad spending on both online magazines and newspapers was of little over $7 billion, and it is expected to revolve around the sum of $8.5 billion a year, within the next several years. In 2015 alone, there is expected to be an approximate 30% increase in the native ads spending, as opposed to 2014. Native ads are literally being used by everyone – from high tech companies like Dell and IBM to internet fads like Ukraine dating. Media companies, social networking websites and all the other publishers are eager to create new revenue streams based on native advertising that would help them compensate for the constant decline in the print ad spending mentioned above – the more streams available, the more likely it is for marketing and advertising agencies as well as businesses to invest in native advertising. 

    Google has certainly played a very important role in the increase in native ads spending over the past decade, as it has repeatedly launched products and tools to help marketers and publishers reach common ground. Taking Product Listing Ads as an example, this marketing tool has become an $8 billion market within only two years from the moment it was launched, back in 2012. Google was, and still is, the primary destination for searching products and services, even though increasingly more people have started to rely on mobile devices to get what they want. 

    Online retailers are recording a 60% yearly increase in the revenue that originates from social networking websites. At the same time, the Product Listing Ads program mentioned above helps businesses that use it increase their mobile-generated traffic (people who visit their website via smart phones or tablets) by almost 50% each year. 

    Overall, it is important to mention the fact that native advertising offers brand agencies the opportunity to help business owners gain an edge over their main competitors. The traditional native ads as we know them are somehow becoming obsolete as they are replaced by the native mobile ads, one of the most powerful and efficient tools used by digital marketing professionals in the United States for brand affinity. 

    Last, but not least, it must be said that besides the fact that online advertising is slowly taking over offline advertising, there are several other notable benefits to native ads that will make them even more popular and sought-after in 2015: in addition for being a great tool for promotion, native ads are also great for lead generation and for increasing the conversion rate. From many points of view, it is safe to say that native ads play a much more important role in the sales and branding niche than direct-sales agents, and this has certainly caught the attention of large corporations.