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Twitter Direct Message: To DM or Not to DM?

Twitter Direct Message Tips-01

Private or public messaging, that is the question—especially when it comes to social customer service. While most customer service interactions on Twitter start as a public message from a consumer, mentioning the name or @mentioning the handle of a brand, public messages aren’t always the best place to share certain information or resolve an issue.

So when and why is it appropriate to initiate a Twitter Direct Message with a consumer? Read on to learn the ins and outs of Twitter DMs, how your brand can use them to provide better customer care, and other creative ways to use DMs to improve your presence on this popular network.

What Is a Twitter Direct Message?

The public side of Twitter allows users to Tweet messages of 140 characters or fewer, and these messages show up on their profile page and on the Home timelines of their followers. Direct Messages, on the other hand, are private one-on-one or group messages that only show up to those involved.

While Direct Messages used to be limited to 140 characters, just like public Tweets, Twitter expanded the character limit of Direct Messages to 10,000 in August 2015. Users can also send pictures, videos, GIFs and emojis via Direct Message.

You can start a Direct Message with any user or group of users who follow you, and you are also able to reply to anyone who sends you a DM even if they do not follow your account. Many businesses on Twitter have also enabled a setting that allows them to receive DMs from anyone, even accounts they don’t follow, which is a strategic way to offer customers a private way to reach out. To receive DMs from anyone, you need to enable this functionality from the Security and Privacy settings page on Twitter.

Enable Twitter Direct Messages from Anyone

Direct Messages for Twitter Customer Service

Brands can use Twitter Direct Messages in a variety of ways, from customer care to sales outreach. The most common use case is for social customer service. this allows brands to communicate in a private message, which gives users greater security if they need to share sensitive information to help resolve an issue. Additionally, the longer character limit allows both parties to explain an issue in greater depth.

Consider using a Direct Message if you want to:

  • Send or request sensitive information
  • Use more than 140 characters to troubleshoot an issue
  • Change channels to email or phone and request contact information to do so
  • Gather feedback on customer service interactions

To allow the customer to DM you, make sure you are following their account or have the option to allow DMs from anyone. In terms of protecting sensitive information, we recommend moving the conversation from public Tweets to Direct Messages if you need to ask for any of the following:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Mailing or billing address
  • Personal account information
  • Billing information
  • Specific items they have purchased from you
  • Security question or verification

You can also use Direct Messages to gather feedback after a customer service interaction. The Customer Feedback survey experience from Twitter allows users to privately share their feedback after service interactions with businesses. This feature is only available through Twitter customer service solutions partners like Sprout Social. Get more information on this feature here.

If you manage social for a brand, develop a protocol for when to use Direct Messages instead of public Tweets, and make sure everyone on your team is aware of guidelines and best practices. Protecting your customers’ information should always be a priority on social and in customer care.

Make the Switch: Taking a Conversation From Tweets to Direct Messages

While users often reach out with a Tweet, you can prompt them to switch to Direct Message instead. On native Twitter, you can simply reply to their Tweet with a request that they send a DM.

If you use a social media management tool like Sprout, it’s even easier to switch to Direct Messages. Once you have configured your settings on Twitter to allow anyone to DM your business, you will see an option in Sprout to send a DM prompt in your Twitter reply window. When responding to a Tweet, click the Add DM Link button to add a deep link that will take the customer directly to his or her Direct Message Compose screen.

Twitter Request DM and Feedback (Blog Post)-01-1

When switching from public Tweets to Direct Messages, we recommend sending a public reply first so it’s clear you’re addressing the conversation in a private channel. This way any other users who witnesses the interaction will know your brand is responsive and available to address any issues that arise.

Creative Uses for Twitter Direct Messages

DMs can also be used as a channel to facilitate sales outreach, connect with influencers and potential partners, surprise and delight community members or develop relationships with members of your community.

Surprise & Delight Your Fans

A quick look at M&M’s handle shows its social team practices social media monitoring to identify opportunities to create deeper experiences with consumers and fans. When one user shared her love for the song in an M&M’s commercial, the brand found an opportunity to share a sweet treat and sent her a message to take the conversation to Direct Message.

Connect With Influencers & Members of the Media

Monitoring mentions of your brand on Twitter should be part of every business social media strategy. When you use these mentions as a talking point, you begin fostering relationships that ultimately build up your community.

Start by identifying mentions from members of the media and social media influencers, and develop a strategy for personalized outreach using Direct Messages. Whether you send a simple thank you, offer to put them in touch with the best point of contact for future stories, or propose a partnership, DMs can be a great way to get the conversation started.

Nurture Sales Leads & Facilitate Social Selling

Consumers are increasingly turning to social media to research products and services before buying. In fact, 75% of consumers say they use social media in their buying process. Paying attention to conversations about your brand as well as adjacent topics can help you identify opportunities for social selling.

For example, here at Sprout Social, we often see Twitter users asking their peers to share their favorite social media management tools. When appropriate, we casually strike up a conversation to answer any specific questions they may have about Sprout and offer a link to a free 30-day trial if they’ve expressed interest.

In many cases, these conversations are public-facing. However, when someone wants to schedule a demo, inquires about custom pricing often take up more than 140 characters. So we take the conversation to Direct Messages in order to get contact information and to connect people with a Product Specialist.

Develop Relationships With New Followers

Welcoming new followers to your community is a nice touch, whether you send a Tweet or a Direct Message. Consider using Direct Messages to start a conversation with new members of your audience. For example, you can open with a question about what brought them to your brand or offer to help. You can even provide a discount code to thank them for their interest in your product or service.

Some brands opt to pursue new follower outreach with automated Direct Messages. But we encourage you to think about all the possible ramifications before adopting automatic social media messaging platforms for your business. An impersonal and clearly automated message comes across as spam. Automated DMs can quickly transform a new follower from an eager potential customer to someone who dismisses your brand and unfollows you outright.

Bad automated direct message

When considering whether to automate any part of your brand’s social presence, ask yourself whether you’re adding value for your audience. If the answer is no, automation probably isn’t the best fit.

Best Practices for Twitter Direct Messages

Most of the best practices that apply to using Twitter Direct Messages ring true across public and private social channels:

  • Be human. Treat DMs as a conversation and reflect the same brand voice and tone you use publicly—even when dealing with a frustrated or angry customer.
  • Send timely responses. If you have a Twitter account, customers will assume they can use it to talk to your brand. If you ignore DMs or take hours—or even days—to respond, you are missing an opportunity to make your customers happier and increase brand loyalty.
  • Provide value. Your social media strategy should include both marketing tactics and a significant plan for social customer care. Make sure you are using DMs to effectively resolve issues, help customers and leave them with a positive impression of your brand.

As Twitter has expanded its offerings to help businesses practice social customer care, Direct Messages have continued to provide a way to build trust and relationships between brands and consumers. Don’t be afraid to address your customers on a more personal level. But at the same time, make sure you’re following the right DM etiquette before you start messaging away.

How does your business use DMs? Leave a comment and let us know!

This post Twitter Direct Message: To DM or Not to DM? originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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