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Ask Yoast: True location in URL?

If you own a business in a small town near a big city, you’re probably a bit jealous of your competitors in this big city. The search volume for that city will most likely be significantly larger, and with that, the amount of potential customers as well.

So, is there any way you can still benefit from this proximity of potential customers? Perhaps if you also appear to be located in this city? You could, for example, easily use the name of a city in your URL, even if your business is actually located in the neighboring town. But how does this affect your SEO? And are there perhaps other reasons to avoid doing this? Let’s discuss in today’s Ask Yoast!

Vincent Ramos emailed us his dilemma:

I have a website with a city name in the URL, but my actual location is in the neighboring city, which gets smaller search volume. Our NAP is in the footer of every page with our actual address. Does it hurt my SEO that there’s a different city in the URL?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Adding a different location to your URL than your actual location

“Does it hurt your SEO? No, but it might hurt your visitors when they come and visit your site because they expect you to be in city A and you’re not. So, I’d always tend to go to the side of honesty: just say that you’re in the city that you’re actually in.

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You’ll find that actually being close to the center of the city that you want to be found in is very important in terms of local SEO. It’s very annoying, but that’s how most of the local rankings work. So, don’t lie, put your real location in your website URL if you can. See how that reflects on people and just say on your page, “We’re very close to ‘whatever the name of the city is’…”, because that’s the honest truth that usually lasts longer than any tricks around that. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Maybe we can help you out! Send an email to ask@yoast.com.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: ‘Ranking your local business’ »

 

The post Ask Yoast: True location in URL? appeared first on Yoast.

The Beginner’s Guide to Google Tag Manager

Collecting data using tools like Google Analytics is critical for expanding your business’s online reach, converting leads into customers, and optimizing a digital marketing strategy to create stronger relationships with your audience.

However, collecting data is easier said than done. Google Analytics and other similar analytics tools aid the process, but they work more effectively with the addition of tags.

Tags, in a general sense, are bits of code you embed in your website’s javascript or HTML to extract certain information.

For marketers, necessary tag information typically includes how long users visit a page on your site, form submissions, how they arrived on your site, which links they clicked, or even what products they removed from their shopping cart.

Each tag tracks something different. For instance, you might create a tag just to see how many people fill out the form on your “Contact Us” page. That tag can then send more precise information to Google Analytics, or AdWords, or another third party.

Unfortunately, manually coding tags can be a tedious and difficult process for marketers without much development or coding experience, and it’s time-consuming to fill out tickets for the IT department.

With Google Tag Manager, your whole tagging process becomes much easier. All you do is embed a code into your site pages once, and then each time you want to create a tag, Google Tag Manager codes it and embeds it for you.

Google Tag Manager does a few things: first, it allows your developers and IT department to focus on bigger-picture tasks by eliminating the burden of coding each individual marketing tag.

Second, since Google Tag Manager codes the tags for you, it significantly reduces the possibility of human error.

And third, Google Tag Manager enables your marketing department to take complete control over the tags they create and monitor. Giving your marketers full reign over their tags increases efficiency. Plus, using tags improves the accuracy of your analytics system, guaranteeing higher-quality reports and a better sense of your true online audience.

With all that said, it’s still a tool you might want to try for yourself before deciding if it’s a perfect fit — perhaps you already have a tagging system in place, or you don’t feel you need that level of organization, since your website doesn’t usually need new tags.

Google Tag Manager is free, so you can try it out virtually risk-free. Here, we’ll show you how to set up an account, how to create a new tag, how to use Google Tag Manager with your Google Analytics account, and how to embed the tool in WordPress.

After that, you can decide for yourself if it’s the right system for your business.

Google Tag Manager Tutorial: Set Up an Account

Setting up a free account is an easy two-step process, but it’s separate from any of your other Google Analytics or Gmail accounts. To ensure a painless set-up for you, we’ve recorded our process for setting up an account.

Here’s what you do:

1. Go to https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager and click the green “Sign Up for Free” button. It will ask you to input your account name (company), country, and website URL, as well as where you want to use Google Tag (web, iOS, android, AMP). When you’re finished, click the blue “Create” button.

2. Next, you’ll be given codes and instructions to include one code high in the <head> of your page, and the other after the opening <body> tag. You can do this now, or apply the codes to your site later (they are accessible in your dashboard). Once you’re done, click “Ok”. 

Google Tag Manager Tutorial: Set Up a Tag

Once you have a Google Tag Manager account, the first thing you’re going to want to learn is how to set up a tag.

You can create unlimited configurations of tags in Google Tag Manager.

This is helpful for creating in-depth reports on your audience’s behavior, but it can become inefficient if you don’t organize your tags properly.

Google recommends using the following naming convention: tag type – name of app – detail.

Perhaps you name one tagging configuration, “AdWords conversions – iOS – 2018-02 campaign” and then another, “Google Analytics – CTA – About Us page”.

This way, you can correctly identify and collect data related to specific campaigns or pages.

For instance, the second tag, “Google Analytics – CTA – About Us page,” tells you how well your About Us call-to-action button is performing. That information is valuable, and might be lost if you named your tags more generally, like, “CTA button”.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s check out how to set up a tag:

1. Within your Google Tag Manager dashboard, click the “Add a New Tag” button, circled below in red.

2. Title your tag, and then click anywhere in the top “Tag Configuration” box, to choose a tag type.

3. There are dozens of tag types (they are not all displayed here, and you can also customize a tag type). I chose “Classic Google Analytics”.

 

4. If you want your tag tracked in Google Analytics, the next step will be to input your Web Property ID, found in your Google Analytics account. Then, select a “Track Type”. I chose “Page View”, but there are plenty of other options.

5. Next, choose a trigger (a trigger means when you want the tag recorded, i.e. “every time someone visits the page”). I chose “All Pages”, to get insights every time someone views any of my web pages, but this varies depending on your purposes. 

6. When you’re happy with the information in the “Tag Configuration” and “Triggering” boxes, click the blue “Save” button. 

7. Next, click the blue “Submit” button. Your tag won’t work until you do so.

8. When you click “Submit”, you’ll be taken to this “Submission Configuration” page. There are two options: “Publish and Create Version” or “Create Version”. Since I’m ready to push the tag onto all my site pages, I selected “Publish and Create Version”, and then I pressed the blue “Publish” button in the top right.

9. Finally, you’ll be shown this “Container Version Description”. To keep your tags organized, add a name and description to understand what you’re trying to record with this tag.

10. Ensure your tag appears in your “Version Summary” report.

 

 

Now, you’ve successfully created your first tag.

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics

If you want to use Google Tag Manager in conjunction with Google Analytics, there are a couple steps you need to take. However, it’s a worthwhile endeavor — embedding tags in your site will increase the precision of your Analytics reports.

First off, you’ll need to remove your GA code from your site pages. You’ll only need your Google Tag Manager tag code embedded — if you use both, it’ll just report everything twice and mess up your data.

Second, you’ll probably want to create a variable for your Google Analytics Tracking ID. A variable is a Google Tag Manager tool meant to increase your efficiency by saving additional (optional) data you provide.

If you save your GA Tracking ID as a variable, you won’t have to look it up every time you create a new tag for Google Analytics (which makes the lazy-person in me very happy).

How to Create a Variable in Google Tag Manager

1. Click “Variables” on your Google Tag Manager homepage. 

2. Under “User-Defined Variables”, click “New”.

3. Name your variable — I named it “GA Tracking ID” so I’d remember. Then, click the “Variable Configuration” box.

4. Choose “Constant” as your variable type, since you don’t want the ID to change for different tags.

5. Now, input your Google Analytics Tracking ID number into the “Value” box, and then select “Save” in the top right.

Next, let’s edit our “TestTag1” that we created earlier in this post, and include the new variable you just created.

How to Edit a Tag and Change its Value

1. Back on your homepage, select “Tags” from your side bar. Click on the tag you want to edit (I clicked “TestTag1”).

2. Click the grey “+” icon beside the “Web Property ID” box.

3. A “Choose a variable” box will pop up, and the first option, “GA Tracking ID”, is the variable we just created. Select that. 

4. Now, your tag’s “Web Property ID” should say (or whatever you named your variable). Click save, and your tag is updated. 

Google Tag Manager for WordPress

If your business uses WordPress to host its website, there’s an easy two-step process to integrate Google Tag Manager into WordPress.

There are plug-ins available if you’ve paid for a business version of WordPress, such as DuracellTomi’s Google Tag Manager.

However, if you’d rather do it manually, it’s relatively simple to do. It will only get tedious if you have a ton of different pages of your site and want to use tags on all of them — you’ll have to copy and paste a code below the <body> tag on each page.

Here’s what you do:

1. Copy the Google Tag Manager code you are given during the set-up process. If you’ve already set up your account, click the blue “Google Tag Manager” code beside “Workspace Changes” on your Google Tag Manager homepage (circled below in red). That blue code will also supply you with your specific Google Tag Manager code.

2. Now, paste that code below the <body> tag of each page on your WordPress site.

Images courtesy of WordPress.org

Now, your WordPress site is prepped for any tags you want to create within Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager will automatically code future tags and embed them in whichever page you’ve selected.

How Do You Set Smart SEO Goals for Your Team/Agency/Project? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Are you sure that your current SEO goals are the best fit for your organization? It’s incredibly important that they tie into both your company goals and your marketing goals, as well as provide specific, measurable metrics you can work to improve. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines how to set the right SEO goals for your team and shares two examples of how different businesses might go about doing just that.

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Setting Smart SEO Goals for Your Team, Agency, or Project

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about SEO goals, how to set smart ones, how to measure your progress against them, how to amplify those goals to the rest of your organization so that people really buy in to SEO.

This is a big challenge. So many folks that I’ve talked to in the field have basically said, “I’m not sure exactly how to set goals for our SEO team that are the right ones.” I think that there’s a particularly pernicious problem once Google took away the keyword-level data for SEO referrals.

So, from paid search, you can see this click was on this keyword and sent traffic to this page and then here’s how it performed after that. In organic search, you can no longer do that. You haven’t been able to do it for a few years now. Because of that removal, proving the return on investment for SEO has been really challenging. We’ll talk in a future Whiteboard Friday about proving ROI. But let’s focus here on how you get some smart SEO goals that are actually measurable, trackable, and pertain intelligently to the goals of the business, the organization.

Where to start:

So the first thing, the first problem that I see is that a lot of folks start here, which seems like a reasonable idea, but is actually a terrible idea. Don’t start with your SEO goals. When your SEO team gets together or when you get together with your consultants, your agency, don’t start with what the SEO goals should be.

  • Start with the company goals. This is what our company is trying to accomplish this quarter or this year or this month.
  • Marketing goals. Go from there to here’s how marketing is going to contribute to those company goals. So if the company has a goal of increasing sales, marketing’s job is what? Is marketing’s job improving the conversion funnel? Is it getting more traffic to the top of the funnel? Is it bringing back more traffic that’s already been to the site but needs to be re-earned? Those marketing goals should be tied directly to the company goals so that anyone and everyone in the organization can clearly see, “Here’s why marketing is doing what they’re doing.”
  • SEO goals. Next, here’s how SEO contributes to those marketing goals. So if the goal is around, as we mentioned, growing traffic to the top of the funnel, for example, SEO could be very broad in their targeting. If it’s bringing people back, you’ve got to get much more narrow in your keyword targeting.
  • Specific metrics to measure and improve. From those SEO goals, you can get the outcome of specific metrics to measure and improve.

Measurable goal metrics

So that list is kind of right here. It’s not very long. There are not that many things in the SEO world that we can truly measure directly. So measurable goal metrics might be things like…

1. Rankings. Which we can measure in three ways. We can measure them globally, nationally, or locally. You can choose to set those up.

2. Organic search visits. So this would be just the raw traffic that is sent from organic search.

3. You can also separate that into branded search versus non-branded search. But it’s much more challenging than it is with paid, because we don’t have the keyword data. Thus, we have to use an implied or inferred model, where essentially we say, “These pages are likely to be receiving branded search traffic, versus these pages that are likely to be receiving non-branded search traffic.”

A good example is the homepage of most brands is most likely to get primarily branded search traffic, whereas resource pages, blog pages, content marketing style pages, those are mostly going to get unbranded. So you can weight those appropriately as you see fit.

Tracking your rankings is crucially important, because that way you can see which pages show up for branded queries versus which pages show up for unbranded queries, and then you can build pretty darn good models of branded search versus non-branded search visits based on which landing pages are going to get traffic.

4. SERP ownership. So ideas around your reputation in the search results. So this is essentially looking at the page of search results that comes up for a given query and what results are in there. There might be things you don’t like and don’t want and things you really do want, and the success and failure can be measured directly through the rankings in the SERP.

5. Search volume. So for folks who are trying to improve their brand’s affinity and reputation on the web and trying to grow the quantity of branded search, which is a good metric, you can look at that through things like Google Trends or through a Google AdWords campaign or through something like Moz’s Keyword Explorer.

6. Links and link metrics. So you could look at the growth or shrinkage of links over time. You can measure that through things like the number of linking root domains, the total number of links. Authority or spam metrics and how those are distributed.

7. Referral traffic. And last, but not least, most SEO campaigns, especially those that focus on links or improving rankings, are going to also send referral traffic from the links that are built. So you can watch referral traffic and what those referrers are and whether they came from pages where you built links with SEO intent.

So taking all of these metrics, these should be applied to the SEO goals that you choose that match up with your marketing and company goals. I wanted to try and illustrate this, not just explain it, but illustrate it through two examples that are very different in what they’re measuring.

Example one

So, first off, Taft Boots, they’ve been advertising like crazy to me on Instagram. Apparently, I must need new boots.

  • Grow online sales. Let’s say that their big company goal for 2018 is “grow online sales to core U.S. customers, so the demographics and psychographics they’re already reaching, by 30%.”
  • Increase top of funnel website traffic by 50%. So marketing says, “All right, you know what? There’s a bunch of ways to do that, but we think that our best opportunity to do that is to grow top of funnel, because we can see how top of funnel turns into sales over time, and we’re going to target a number of 50% growth.” This is awesome. This can turn into very measurable, actionable SEO goals.
  • Grow organic search visits 70%. We can say, “Okay, we know that search is going to contribute an outsized quantity of this 50% growth. So what we want to do is take search traffic up by 70%. How are we going to do that? We have four different plans.
    • A. We’re going to increase our blog content, quality and quantity.
    • B. We’re going to create new product pages that are more detailed, that are better optimized, that target good searches.
    • C. We’re going to create a new resources section with some big content pieces.
    • D. We’re going to improve our link profile and Domain Authority.”

Now, you might say, “Wait a minute. Rand, this is a pretty common SEO methodology here.” Yes, but many times this is not directly tied to the marketing goals, which is not directly tied to the business goals. If you want to have success as an SEO, you want to convince people to keep investing in you, you want to keep having that job or that consulting gig, you’ve got to connect these up.

From these, we can then say, “Okay, for each one, how do we measure it?” Well…

  • A. Quantity of content and search visits/piece. Blog content can be measured through the quantity of content we produce, the search visits that each of those pieces produce, and what the distribution and averages are.
  • B. Rankings and organic traffic. Is a great way to measure product pages and whether we’re hitting our goals there.
  • C. Link growth, rankings, and traffic. That’s a great way to measure the new resources section.
  • D. Linking root domains plus the DA distribution and maybe Spam Score distribution. That’s a great way to measure whether we’re improving our link profile.

All of these, this big-picture goal is going to be measured by the contribution of search visits to essentially non-homepage and non-branded pages that contribute to the conversion funnel. So we have a methodology to create a smart goal and system here.

Example two

Another example, totally different, but let’s try it out because I think that many folks have trouble connecting non-e-commerce pages, non-product stuff. So we’re going to use Book-It Theatre. They’re a theater group here in the Seattle area. They use the area beneath Seattle Center House as their space. They basically will take popular books and literature and convert them into plays. They’ll adapt them into screenplays and then put on performances. It’s quite good. We’ve been to a few shows, Geraldine and I have, and we really like them.

So their goal — I’m making this up, I don’t actually know if this is their goal — but let’s say they want to…

  • Attract theater goers from outside the Seattle area. So they’re looking to hit tourists and critics, people who are not just locals, because they want to expand their brand.
  • Reach audiences in 4 key geographies — LA, Portland, Vancouver, Minneapolis. So they decide, “You know what? Marketing can contribute to this in four key geographies, and that’s where we’re going to focus a bunch of efforts — PR efforts, outreach efforts, offline media, and SEO. The four key geographies are Los Angeles, Portland, Vancouver, and Minneapolis. We think these are good theater-going towns where we can attract the right audiences.”

So what are we going to do as SEOs? Well, as SEOs, we better figure out what’s going to match up to this.

  • Drive traffic from these regions to Book-It Theatre’s pages and to reviews of our show. So it’s not just content on our site. We want to drive people to other critics and press that’s reviewed us.
    • A. So we’re going to create some geo landing pages, maybe some special offers for people from each of these cities.
    • B. We’re going to identify third-party reviews and hopefully get critics who will write reviews, and we’re going to ID those and try and drive traffic to them.
    • C. We’re going to do the same with blog posts and informal critics.
    • D. We’re going to build some content pages around the books that we’re adapting, hoping to drive traffic, that’s interested in those books, from all over the United States to our pages and hopefully to our show.

So there are ways to measure each of these.

  • A. Localized rankings in Moz Pro or a bunch of other rank tracking tools. You can set up geo-specific localized rankings. “I want to track rankings in Vancouver, British Columbia. I want to track rankings from Los Angeles, California.” Those might look different than the ones you see here in Seattle, Washington.
  • B. We can do localized rankings and visits from referrals for the third-party reviews. We won’t be able to track the visits that those pages receive, but if they mention Book-It Theatre and link to us, we can see, oh yes, look, the Minneapolis Journal wrote about us and they linked to us, and we can see what the reviews are from there.
  • C. We can do localized rankings and visits from referrals for the third-party blog posts.
  • D. Local and national ranking, organic visits. For these Book-It content pages, of course, we can track our local and national rankings and the organic visits.

Each of these, and as a whole, the contribution of search visits from non-Seattle regions, so we can remove Seattle or Washington State in our analytics and we can see: How much traffic did we get from there? Was it more than last year? What’s it contributing to the ticket sales conversion funnel?

You can see how, if you build these smart goals and you measure them correctly and you align them with what the company and the marketing team is trying to do, you can build something really special. You can get great involvement from the rest of your teams, and you can show the value of SEO even to people who might not believe in it already.

All right, everyone. Look forward to your thoughts and feedback in the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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17 of the Best Brands on Instagram Right Now

Contrary to what your friends’ photos suggest, Instagram isn’t just a social network for selfies and brunch pics. In fact, Instagram has a whopping 700 million active monthly users as of September 2017 — the last 100 million of which joined in the prior five months.

In a world where visual content remains a crucial part of any business’ marketing strategy, Instagram marketing presents a unique opportunity to visually represent your brand, celebrate its personality, and keep it top-of-mind for all those users who scroll through their Instagram feeds every single day.

Although they’re few and far between, there are some brands out there — in every industry, and with every type of target customer — who are doing really, really well on Instagram.

Get the essential tips to starting a successful Instagram account for your  business.

Ready to get inspired? Check out this list of brands that are thriving on Instagram right now, and what about their posts sets them apart. For each of these brands, we’ve included examples of their best posts. For some of them, we’ve also included their most popular Instagram post of all time in terms of engagement (i.e. combined total of likes and comments) thanks to data from Instagram analytics and management platform Iconosquare.

(Psst — Want to get a stunning Instagram Story auto-magically created for your brand? Check out StoriesAds.com, a free Story generator from HubSpot and Shakr. Click here to get started.)

17 of the Best Brands on Instagram

1. Lego

Followers: 2.6M

If you’re not following Lego on Instagram, you’re missing out on some entertaining content that isn’t just product plugs for kids.

The famous plastic building block brand populates its Instagram feed with fun takes on pop culture references everyone is bound to appreciate — something many businesses can learn from on their own Instagram accounts.

While most of Lego’s posts do serve to announce the release of new Lego characters, the main value in its Instagram account is to emulate familiar social tropes in a classic Lego way. Some of them are pretty impressive, like the life-sized princess carriage below, celebrating the recent Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Lego built princess carriage on Instagram, celebrating Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Of course Lego doubled down on the Royal Wedding craze with a Lego-style animation of the bride and groom, below …

 

And they lived happily ever after! #RoyalWedding #LEGO #BrickHeadz

A post shared by LEGO (@lego) on May 19, 2018 at 5:04am PDT

2. Califia Farms

Followers: 100k

Califia Farms natural beverage products have some of the most attractive packaging we’ve come across. In fact, it’s so iconic that it won top honors in the global packaging design category from Beverage World Magazine.

Instagram is a perfect platform to showcase that cool, curvy bottle, and the folks at Califia don’t shy away from doing just that — most of the brand’s posts feature the beverage’s containers in some way, whether they’re the main subject of the photo, or more of an accessory in the context of the active, healthy lifestyle Califia’s buyer personas love.

Califia Farms Instagram showing waffles
Califia Farms Instagram

Something Califia does really well on Instagram is create fun, playful videos and GIFs. Check out this one, which they used to teach viewers how to create a veggie-based penne pasta:

And this one, which is just plain fun to watch:

3. #FollowMeTo

Followers: 515k

Ever seen those photos of a woman leading a man by the hand in all different parts of the world? That pose was made famous by a couple named Murad and Natalia Osmann for their #FollowMeTo project.

Their Instagram account is a mix of stunning images of the classic #FollowMeTo pose that have been edited beautifully, as well as some really interesting behind-the-scenes photos of their world travels — including some fun photos of the “making of” the famous pose.

FollowMeTo Instagram account showing snow on mountains FollowMeTo Instagram account showing Chichen Itza FollowMeTo Instagram showing woman in blue dress follow-me-to-instagram-2.png

4. Lorna Jane

Followers: 813k

If your brand were a person, how would you describe its personality? Australian activewear company Lorna Jane has done an awesome job answering this important branding question with its Instagram content. Spend just a few seconds scrolling through these photos, and you’ll quickly be able to name the target Lorna Jane buyer: a young, sporty, twenty- or thirty-something woman who values looking good while maintaining an active lifestyle.

The images posted by Lorna Jane, which often show the brand’s clothing and accessories, as well as images of women who embody its target buyer persona, are colorful, playful, and inspirational, which is a perfect representation of the brand’s essence — in other words, its heart, soul, and spirit.

Lorna Jane Instagram account showing woman holding dog
Lorna Jane Instagram account showing donut holes and limes
Lorna Jane Instagram showing woman doing yoga
Lorna Jane Instagram account showing woman in boxing gloves

5. Letterfolk

Followers: 289k

Letterfolk is a small business run by a husband-and-wife team who create and sell beautiful, handcrafted felt letterboards. Each letterboard comes with a full set of characters so people can personalize the walls of their homes, which means endless room for creativity.

Instagram is the perfect platform for them to inspire customers and aspiring customers with real customers’ boards, as well as ideas they’ve come up with and staged themselves. Their Instagram content is funny, thought-provoking, and relatable — all recipes for shareability.

Letterfolk Instagram account showing they said meme Letterfolk Instagram account showing couple on June 24 2017

Letterfolk’s Most Engaging Post

Letterfolk's most engaging Instagram post

[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: Not only is this photo showing a funny and clever message, but it’s also very, very relatable for parents of young children — a very large audience and also one of Letterfolk’s target customers. It’s also a very taggable photo, so the comment section is rife with Instagram users mentioning their friends’ usernames so they can share in the fun.

6. Apartment Therapy

Followers: 1.5M

Apartment Therapy’s Instagram account really is a source of therapy, if you love the sight of cozy homes. If you’ve seen social media posts from Apartment Therapy before, rest assured the pictures of residences on its Instagram account are just as creative. 

Two recent posts to Apartment Therapy’s Instagram feed are below. From the plant-friendly living room on the left, to the comfortable A-frame on the right, this brand gives its Instagram followers plenty of inspiration to personalize their own space and, according to its Instagram bio, “live happy, healthy lives at home.”

   Apartment Therapy Instagram account showing plant-inspired living room   Apartment Therapy Instagram account showing bedroom in A-frame apartment

7. Paris Opera Ballet

Followers: 262k

The city of Paris is known for many lovely things — wine, cheese, and art are just a few. But that last one, art, is photographically captured on the Instagram account of the Paris Opera Ballet, or Ballet de l’Opera de Paris.

The account captures candid images of the ballet’s dancers during performances, rehearsals, and backstage, giving viewers an artful glimpse at what goes into the ballet’s productions. It also makes use of something called banners on Instagram, when larger photos can be divided into multiple pictures to create a tiled banner of smaller photos. (There are several apps available to pull that off, but to start, check out Tile Pic).

The way this account highlights performance venues is noteworthy, too. The third photo beneath the first two below provides an intimate shot of rehearsal, conveying a gritty behind-the-scenes feel that can generate excitement for productions.

Paris Opera Ballet Instagram account showing performance of Crystal Pite
Paris Opera Ballet Instagram account showing male dancers

8. Tentsile

Followers: 188k

“Stunning” is the first word that comes to mind when I scroll through Tentsile’s Instagram photos. The company sells tree tents, what they call “portable treehouses” that will “literally take your camping experience to a new level.” Their Instagram is full of shockingly beautiful scenes of their product in use in all matter of terrain: rainforests, mountains, beaches… you name it.

Tentsile Instagram account showing campground Tentsile Instagram account showing water hammock

Tentsile’s Most Engaging Post

Tentsile Instagram's most engaging post

[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: Contests draw engagement: It’s as simple as that. In this particular case, Tentsile used an Instagram contest as a co-marketing play with a few of their partners by asking followers to follow three partner accounts to be eligible to win. In addition to following those accounts, they also asked people to Like the photo and “tag your 3 best adventures buddies in the comments below.” That’s a great way to expand reach and do co-marketing on Instagram.

9. Desenio

Followers: 594k

Look at the colors of any well-known brand and you’ll notice that they use the same colors over and over again — in their logo, on their website, and in their social media images. Using the same colors over and over again is a great way to establish brand consistency and help consumers become familiar with your brand.

That’s what the Swedish online art print company Desenio does beautifully on their Instagram account. They use a lot of blues, greens, greys, and blacks, which evoke senses of calm, healing, luxury, and trust.

desenio-instagram-1.pngdesenio-instagram-2.png

Desenio’s Most Engaging Post

Desenio's most engaging Instagram post

[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: At first glance, this post doesn’t seem to stick out much from Desenio’s other Instagram content. But what’s unique about it is the universally relatable subject: a really beautiful, comfortable-looking bed in a beautiful bedroom, combined with hints of life like a laptop and some munchies.

Many of the comments included exclamations of how beautiful and inspiring the setup is and how it’s the commenters’ “dream bedroom.” To increase your comment rate, follow Desenio’s lead by posting images of things and situations your followers aspire to in their own lives.

10. No Your City

Followers: 26k

The folks at No Your City produce a documentary series that captures the fascinating stories of people all over the world, but mostly in New York. The brand’s Instagram account, though, is less about these stories and more about showcasing gorgeous images from the city itself.

What we love about these photos is how closely they follow the best practices for taking great photos with your phone. Each one of No Your City’s photos seems to follow at least one of these recommendations, whether it’s focusing on a single subject, embracing negative space, playing with reflections, or finding interesting perspectives. The photos are consistently stunning, and as a result, the brand has built a solid following.

No Your City Instagram account showing Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, New York No Your City Instagram account showing brownstone apartment in Brooklyn, New York

11. Vans

Followers: 11.4M

Vans is known for its stylish shoes, but the brand’s use of social media is just as stylish. Its Instagram business account is no exception.

The maker of the classic checkered slip-ons has an aggressively flashy Instagram feed, featuring both standalone product shots and action photos of people expressing themselves in their favorite Vans gear.

Vans’ Instagram account’s most unique quality is likely how much skateboarding content it has. The brand doesn’t just appeal to teenage skaters anymore, but it shows its loyalty to that lifestyle in an engaging way. Below, Vans features an Indian girl with a caption that describes her as the “only girl who regularly skateboards in her town.”

Vans Instagram featuring Kamali, an Indian girl who skateboards

Vans’ Most Engaging Post

 

Coming soon… Be the first to know! Sign up now at Vans.com/Marvel #VansxMarvel

A post shared by vans (@vans) on Feb 27, 2018 at 9:12am PST

Why it’s engaging: Vans’ recent video, above, teases a vague but enticing partnership with Marvel Comics. This campaign alone displayed a logo that attracted not just Vans fans, but Marvel fans who likely wanted to know when they can expect new shoes with a decal of their favorite Marvel super hero. The video received more than half a million views.

12. Divinity LA Bracelets

Followers: 251k

Here’s an example of a small business performing very well on Instagram. A beaded bracelet could have any theme.

divinity-la-instagram-1.png Divinity LA Bracelets Instagram account showing woman kayaking

Divinity’s Most Engaging Post

Divinity LA Bracelets' most engaging Instagram post

Why it’s engaging: The caption reads: “Each Sea Turtle and Hatchling bracelet sold helps a Hatchling make it to the ocean.” People tagged their friends to show them the cute sea turtles, or to say “WE NEED TO SAVE THEM!”

13. WeWork

Followers: 283k

WeWork provides shared office spaces in cities and countries all over the globe — so it only makes sense that they should post a lot of photos showcasing their beautiful co-working communities. They do an amazing job photographing the spaces in ways that make followers like us wish we could jump into the photos and plop down with our laptops and a coffee.

They don’t stop at posting photos of their shared workspaces, though. WeWork uses Instagram to capture and share moments from some of the largest branded events that members (and their friends) look forward to all year, like WeWork Summer Camp. Hashtags are used to label these events — like #WWCamp — and to encourage customers to share their own photos of the spaces, using WeWork’s memorable slogan: “Do what you love.”

Our favorite is the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag. Not only is it awesome because, well, dogs … but it’s also a great way for the company to promote their laid-back culture while also inviting customers to interact with their brand on social. Near the end of each year, they actually choose the best photo submissions to the #DogsOfWeWork hashtag on Instagram and Facebook and put together a calendar for the following year.

WeWork Instagram account showing wall graffiti 'Do What You Love'
Creative WeWork office space
Creative WeWork office space with mural and palm trees
we-work-instagram-6.png

WeWork’s Most Engaging Post

WeWork's most engaging Instagram post showing sign 'Work Hard & Be Nice to People'

[Click here to see the post.]

Why it’s engaging: For all their beautiful photos of people and office spaces and dogs, some of you might be surprised that their most engaging photo of all time is a picture of a simple quote. This goes to show the power of motivational quotes on Instagram, which tend to perform very well. Instagram is, after all, a platform for inspiration — and simple quotes that are inspiring and easy to digest are often welcome in a user’s feed.

Use free design tools like Canva, PicMonkey, or even PowerPoint to create these images easily.

14. Finfolk Productions

Followers: 202k

Ever wanted to be a mermaid? You can come pretty close, thanks to companies like FinFolk Productions. Believe it or not, silicone mermaid tails you can put on and swim around in are actually quite trendy in certain areas and for certain age groups — typically young girls, which is one of Instagram’s core users.

Finfolk Productions’ Instagram feed is full of beautifully shot photos that play into the mermaid fantasy by looking more like mythical art than real people.

Finfolk Productions Instagram account showing woman underwater wearing mermaid fin Finfolk Productions Instagram account showing mermaid fins

Finfolk Productions’ Most Engaging Post

Finfolk Productions' most engaging Instagram post

[Click here to see the post]

Why it’s engaging: One of the reasons this post was so popular is because it was accompanied by a long, heartfelt caption written by the company’s founders — which prompted an outpouring of supportive comments from their loyal followers. Here’s part of that caption, below:

Wish you could be part of our world? The good news is, you already are- just by being here! We might not always have custom silicone slots or Mythic tails readily available, but it’s only because we are busy constantly creating and making mermaid tails for every type of mermaid, in every size or color, gender or nationality … A tail is an investment of time, money, and emotions- each one is unique and beautiful, just like you.

#finfolk #finfolkproductions #thelittlemermaid #littlemermaid #ariel #partofyourworld #mermaid #mermaidtail #disney #mermaidlife #finfolkmermaid

Commenters wrote that they love the founders for their dedication to beauty and quality, that they love the designs, and that they can’t wait until they have a tail of their own. What it all comes down to, though, is brand loyalty.

15. Shiseido

Followers: 392k

Shiseido started out as Japan’s first Western-style pharmacy 140 years ago and has since developed into selling high-quality brightening and anti-aging skincare, makeup, and fragrance products.

Its company mission is to inspire a life of beauty and culture — a mission they portray beautifully through their Instagram content. If you take a look at their feed, you’ll notice they post three images at a time so the posts appear in a row pattern on their larger feed — a very clever and original way to organize their content.

shiseido-instagram-content-1.png

Shiseido’s Most Engaging Post

 

A post shared by SHISEIDO (@shiseido) on Apr 23, 2018 at 7:32pm PDT

Why it’s engaging: Back in late March 2016, Instagram started rolling out the ability to upload 60-second videos — and we’ve seen some amazing Instagram videos from brands ever since, like the one above from Shiseido. This one is much shorter than a minute, but its close-up product demo above is curiously satisfying to watch.

But don’t be intimidated by highly professional Instagram videos like theirs. You can post highly engaging videos on Instagram without a huge video team or a bottomless budget. Here’s a step-by-step guide for making great videos on Instagram without breaking the bank.

16. Sephora Collections

Followers: 322k

Sephora Collections’ brand personality is playful, colorful, and feminine. It does a wonderful job of characterizing this personality in its Instagram content, using bright colors, patterns, and fun captions.

This branded Sephora account also diversifies its feed with a lot of fun Instagram video content that gives off the same playful vibes.

Sephora Collection’s Most Engaging Post

Why it’s engaging: No matter what channel you’re creating content for, real stories of real people resonate with your audience. In the video above, Sephora is promoting the hashtag, #lipstories, which spotlights the experience of real Sephora makeup user.

17. Staples

Followers: 55.2k

The folks at Staples do a lot of things right when it comes to Instagram content, but there are two that particularly grab our attention — engaging with followers by asking questions and including calls-to-action in captions, and staying true to the brand’s playful-yet-practical personality.

When it comes to engaging Staples’ followers, it’s all about asking questions in the photo captions. For example, check out the second photo below featuring a series of emojis — its caption reads, “That’s pretty much our day. How about yours? Tell us in emojis.” Scroll through the comments on that photo, and you’ll see followers had a lot of fun responses. The caption paired with the first photo below — the one with the cupcakes — asks users to tag someone who they want to thank.

Staples does a great job staying true to brand by posting fun photos such as the “2016” shot written in office supplies and using the #OfficeHack hashtag to engage their following.

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The folks at Staples also use Instagram to post cute videos and GIFs, like the one below that shows businesses how they can use Staples supplies to create a “revamped breakroom.”

 

A revamped breakroom = a reenergized office

A post shared by Staples (@staples) on Feb 7, 2018 at 8:58am PST

Ready to populate your Instagram Story with pics and videos that are as captivating as the content above? We believe in you — just download the free branding guide below and get to posting.

Instagram for Business

 
https://offers.hubspot.com/instagram-for-business-in-2018?hubs_post-cta=slide

GDPR and the Right Side of History

Brian Halligan sent this note to all HubSpot employees this morning:

Yesterday, I got three emails from vendors asking me if it is okay that they keep sending me emails. I imagine you got a few as well. The irony is hard to miss.

Rather than making a sarcastic joke, though, I actually welcome these notifications. These companies are trying to get on the right side of history, complying with GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation enacted by the European Union, which goes into effect today.

History has a way of catching up on you. Auto manufacturers fought government mandates in the 1960s to add seat belts as standard features, arguing that it would raise costs, give consumers the impression that cars are dangerous, and that safety was not a selling point with customers.

Before seat belts were a requirement, some forward thinking car companies had already made them standard features. By getting ahead of that trend, they were years ahead in making safety part of their differentiation.

One of the things I love about working at HubSpot is that our customers are all on the sharp part of that curve, on the right side of history. HubSpot customers have made how they sell just as important as what they sell. They don’t just look to grow — they look to grow better, attracting their own customers by being responsive and helpful, not by engaging in disruptive and unwelcome intrusions. They embody what it means to be Inbound.

The GDPR is a positive step for the marketing discipline at large. The GDPR is wholly consistent with the Inbound approach to business.

Some companies already distinguish themselves by being relevant, helpful and transparent: GDPR will help them refine what they have in place and grow better.

Some companies are at the other end of spectrum. They have little interest in adapting their marketing to an evolving marketplace. GDPR compliance may feel like a burdensome regulation.

And then there are all those companies in the vast middle, that were perhaps willing to become more Inbound in their marketing, but were not quite as ready or able due to competing short-term priorities. For them, GDPR-compliance may be a useful forcing function, a chance to get on the right side of marketing history. A chance to grow better.

Compliance with the GDPR, regardless of a company’s state of readiness, can be a daunting task. We can empathize. For the last few months, HubSpot has readied our company to adopt the spirit of the regulation globally.

For our customers, we’ve enhanced the HubSpot platform to enable easier compliance with the GDPR. You and your customers can read more about the product changes and deeper details on HubSpot and the GDPR here.

I’m excited for our future in a post-GDPR world. Buckle up!

 

Facebook Has Launched Its Political Ad Archive

Facebook today unveiled the publicly searchable archive of political ads it said it would develop in April.

The launch comes alongside new labeling requirements for all election- and issue-based ads, which includes a disclosure of who paid for them.

The History of These Changes

These latest developments come after months of efforts by Facebook to emphasize its focus on election transparency — particularly after revelations were made that the platform was weaponized by foreign actors to spread misinformation and influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Earlier this month, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Minority released roughly 3,400 of these ads, which ran on Facebook and Instagram leading up to the 2016 elections.

They were purchased by the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), and ran between Q2 2015 and Q3 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffacebook%2Fvideos%2F10157388013956729%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Anyone wishing to run a political or issue-based ad must also go through an authorization process that requires submitting a government-issued ID and physical mailing address to Facebook, which the company announced in October.

Facebook later took similar measures to verify any Pages with large follow numbers — it’s unclear what that threshold is — in order to prevent the creation of fake accounts that are often responsible for publishing divisive ads and misinformation.

What the Ads and the Archive Look Like

Facebook’s officially-named “Archive of Ads With Political Content” is a searchable database of any ads of political nature, both active and inactive.

However, the archive does not contain ads that were published prior to May 7, 2018. Any ads it contains after that date will be available for up to seven years.

Rather than serving as a library of ads that can be filtered according to a date range, topic, or sponsor, users must type in keywords to find ads pertaining to a certain subject or person.

Facebook archive of ads with political content

To see how it works, I started with the search term “Clinton,” where I came across at least one ad that ran without a “Paid for” label, and was therefore removed by Facebook.

Facebook political ad without 'paid for by' label, featuring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton 

The company scans ads for political content through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and human intervention. In addition to the ad reviewers Facebook continues to hire, users of the site can report an unlabeled political ad, which is explained in the video below.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffacebook%2Fvideos%2F10157388015456729%2F&show_text=0&width=560

In addition to the content of the ad itself — its current status, the dates when it ran, and who paid for it — users can also view its performance, including the number of impressions it received, how much was spent on it, and a breakdown of the audience it reached.

Facebook paid ad performance page

An Imperfect System

Despite these efforts, many are taking issue with Facebook not providing even greater transparency. TechCrunch‘s Josh Constine, for example, argues that most users won’t know the details of the organization that paid for an ad — such as “BOLD PAC,” which paid for this ad — and that these labels should come with more information about the sponsor, its motivations, and donors (in the case of political candidates). 

Others, according to a formal statement from Facebook, have argued that the network should rid itself of political ads altogether, saying it was “the only sure-fire way of guarding against foreign interference.”

But in the end, the statement says, defining what constitutes “political” content was too difficult of a line to draw, which is why Facebook enacted these policies and practices, instead. 

“Deciding what is or is not a political issue is inherently controversial, and not everyone will agree with our approach,” say Facebook Director of Global Politics and Government Katie Harbath and Outreach Director Steve Satterfield. “But we believe in giving legitimate campaigns a voice — while also helping to make sure that people can find out who is trying to influence their vote and why.”

But how far these new labels and requirements go to define the “why” is still up for debate. Again, the issue of a lack of information about the sponsor of an ad comes into play — especially given that Facebook rolled out a feature earlier this year to add this sort of transparency and information about news publishers.

Still, the timing makes sense. The U.S. midterm elections will take place this November, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has faced questions about election integrity from the country’s lawmakers, as well as officials in the European Union.

Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social media editor, says “this is coming at a good time, with several global elections this year that could have huge implications for the political environment” — even if the efforts do fall short in some areas. “This is a good step towards increasing transparency into the world of political advertising on Facebook.”

Facebook to Roll Out ‘Similar’ EU Privacy Options to All Users

Facebook announced today that it will be sending all users a News Feed alert asking them to review their data and privacy options. 

The alert, says Facebook, is “similar” to the one received by users in the European Union (EU), as required by the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force this Friday.

But now, Facebook users worldwide will receive an alert in their News Feeds — an “interruption,” as Facebook lightly calls it — asking them to review privacy and data controls pertaining to ads, facial recognition, and what they’ve shared on their profiles.

There’s a key difference between the alert for EU users and those located elsewhere, however: For non-EU users, reviewing these settings is optional.

As for these looming alerts, Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan says users will receive “a customized message that puts [such] information in front of them,” such as how the company uses “data from partners” to create more personalized ads.

The message will also remind users what kind of political, religious, and relationship information they’ve elected to share on their profiles. Additionally, it will offer information on how Facebook uses face recognition — which the company claims is sometimes used to enhance privacy.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Ffacebook%2Fvideos%2F10157386434321729%2F&show_text=0&width=560

During a session with members of European Parliament (MEPs) earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg was challenged to answer questions about Facebook’s GDPR compliance — and whether it would extend the same data privacy protections to non-EU users.

Zuckerberg has previously given mixed responses to the question of implementing GDPR-like protections on a global scale during interviews and during his U.S. congressional testimony in April. His responses ranged from agreeing with it “in spirit” to subsequently remarking, “if we are planning on running the controls for GDPR across the world … my answer [is] yes.”

This latest development is seemingly part of the recent campaign Facebook has undertaken — since March revelations that personal user data was improperly obtained and misused by voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica — to convince users that it’s putting them back in control of their own data, and that Facebook takes their privacy seriously.

In April, for instance, the company announced it would be updating its terms of service and data policy to make it easier to understand, which Egan says will also be included in these alerts displayed to users.

“Reading through the fine print in the video, there are actually very surprises in there,” says Henry Franco, HubSpot’s social media editor. “But this update isn’t going to change the opinion of anyone who’s already made up his or her mind” — like those who have opted to delete or leave Facebook altogether, for instance.

“I think Facebook’s doing a great thing by trying to be more transparent,” he continues. “But the number one priority for the company is clearly to show lawmakers it’s capable of self-regulating.”