Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School
According to a number of reports Google has implemented a substantial search engine algorithm update in January, plus a number of smaller ones in February 2020 … But what does this mean for businesses?
The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms
and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its
search engine results pages (SERPs) and we’ve seen these changes have a direct
impact on the Google Analytics results and effectiveness of the customer
journey to gain sales for businesses. An example of this, is the page ranking has changed to
be more themed based. However, there are
ways for businesses to enable their website to be high up in the SERP. These
Dominate More Search Clicks
Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”
For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-
Create something better than the current Answer
Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions,
listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
Focus on the most frequently asked types of
questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”
2. Keywords no longer work
Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective. Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources. Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website. In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused.
3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.
On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained. If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly.
4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and
With the growing use of mobile devices and home devices, voice searches are becoming an increasing trend. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.
Questions asked via voice instead of entering search queries
are going to make short choppy keywords less relevant and therefore search
terms have become more conversational and targeted. This increasing use of
voice searches has already had an impact of Google’s algorithms and Artificial
Intelligence systems since the search engine needs to do more work to get the
relevant information that the user is looking for.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important technology
behind Google to deliver better search results to its users to create
personalized experiences for consumers.
The AI has been learning the characteristics of what makes websites of
high quality or not, then classifies these web pages and determines their
rankings. Therefore, high-quality
content is essential for effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is
relevant, helpful, and timely, so Google tends to place websites with
consistently themed high-quality content with higher search engine rankings.
If you’d like to know more about becoming an expert in using data driven strategies to lead businesses to success including how to use data to analyse, design and test elaborate customer experience systems in the customer journey to optimise growth, plus learning to work in development environments for Fitbit, Alexa and Google home and mobile devices/smartwatches/ smart home devices as well developing using cloud computing, have a look at our MSc in Customer and Data Analytics.
Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/
Eerik Beeton, MSc Digital Marketing Management student
There are a few reasons why your Google Ads might not work as well for your business as it seems to work for your competitors. Make sure you follow these three steps and you’re guaranteed to be more productive with your Google Ads.
Many businesses have struggled to make most out of their digital marketing efforts and have employed strategies where they use an external marketing agency to handle paid digital marketing. I’m here to suggest that outsourcing Pay Per Click and Cost Per Mille (PPC/CPM) is not sensible anymore in the 2020’s. Why would you pay someone else to do what you can do yourself?
To prove this to you, the next three steps in this blog will bring to your attention some issues around outsourcing your Google Ads and how to do it yourself to both save money and increase the effectiveness of your paid ads!
1. Exploit automation, lose that agency and save up to half of the cost
Historically, making your ads has been time-consuming and has required a lot of technical input from marketers to stay in top of the game. Year 2019 was the year of automation, this also changed how PPC works. Now your PPC can be automated with budget diversification and smart audience targeting, making the use of an agency inferior. I’m listing more handy tools throughout this blog so keep reading!
If you buy click-based advertising services (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), a service provider will usually charge a 10-20% of the ad spend and a minimum monthly fee for their work. If your competitor advertises their services in-house for £300 per month and you outsource this service, then your advertising spend on Google AdWords is £150-200. This gives your competitor 30-50% higher advertising budget and an advantage.
As the average return on advertising pounds spend on google is 1 pound spent, 2 earned, you’re most likely giving your profits away using a marketing agency.
2. Optimise and save up to 69% on your Ads
Poorly optimised Google Ads are a costly mistake, not only are they more expensive but they won’t get your business the leads they are after. Once you get your Ads optimised, your Ad spend can be decreased by 69%.
Maybe the most important part of your Google Ads optimisation is that they need to be eligible for Google auctions. This means that your ads need to focus on a few strange terms like Quality Score, Maximum Bid and Ad rank. Ad rank is influenced by the maximum cost-per-click (CPC) you choose for your ad and your ad’s Quality Score. In the following, I will explain how you can create the best quality score for your ads.
To improve the quality score of your ads, focus on the following 4 strategies
Use keyword planning to increase relevance of your adds by making ad groups based on keywords
Often, micro-conversions, such as referral browsing, shopping cart additions,, are ignored in tracking. However, they are essential metrics that tell about the quality of traffic and enable accurate re-marketing to visitors who completed a specific activity. This can also be used to track the performance of your paid advertising and to make changes accordingly. See the short video below on how to set you tracking!
The importance of setting conversion actions to help your customer tracking is essential; if you’re not sure how to do this here’s a link to a Google Ads article that explains it step by step.
Lastly, understanding the whole customer journey and to assess all the steps is important. By setting tracking and using retargeting can feed into 3 times more leads for your campaigns.
Future-proof your Google Ads revenue
Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There have been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s, but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:
Next big things in the early 2020’s
Google has focused heavily on machine learning and keeps finessing the technology in order to deliver helpful and frictionless customer experience. There has been some setbacks in the technology and most of the features are not fully functioning for the SME’s but this said: – The year 2020 will be the year to look out for improvements in:
Cunningham is working with Valentine
Clays in Fenton. The placement will be focusing on a strategic digital
marketing plan and improving their SEO performance of their main website, along
creating website content for their sub-companies LoveClay and Art in Clay.
Eerik Beeton will be completing his placement with a Staffordshire local IT Company, CoRE Educational Ltd. During his placement Eerik will improve the SEO performance of the company’s e-commerce site selling refurbished IT.
Charlotte Gooding will be completing her project placement with City Stage Crews Ltd. The project will focus on implementing a digital marketing strategy due to the business currently not having one including creating a website for the business.
Sohnia Butt will be undertaking a project at The Mitchell Arts Centre in Hanley, Stoke on Trent. The project will focus around the social media marketing, email marketing and website revamp to increase sales with their target audience
Amber Mottershead will be completing her placement in her current employment at Stone Cricket Club. The placement will focus on developing and implementing an improved digital marketing strategy. This will include building a new website, monitoring the Google Analytics, developing a clear and consistent brand identity and managing multiple social media channels.
Grace Thomson will be completing her placement with Staffordshire University in the Careers Team. Grace is focusing on implementing a social media strategy with an aim of increasing brand awareness. Grace is also working on increasing website traffic.
Leah Mahon will be completing her project placement at creative recruitment agency, The Candidate in Manchester. The project is focused on creating a content marketing/SEO and social media strategy to increase reach, particularly with client audiences.
Craig Holdcroft, will be completing his placement with The Donna Louise Trust, a charitable organisation located in Stoke On Trent. The initial plan will be to extend the digital reach of the charity with the aim to grow followers and charity engagement within the Staffordshire and South Cheshire area.
Keair Bailey will be developing the website and social media content for PeakMyRun
The MSc in Digital Marketing Management is one of our awards to meet the changing demands of industry. Marketing is going through a fundamental change with ever more marketing carried out online – a major consequence of this is the incredibly detailed data that is generated which leads to data driven policy.
To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:
‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)
The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is desirable but not essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises, or it could be a mix with some days in the company and some work off site.
We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.
As the module is part of the course then paid remuneration is not required. However, we would expect travel expenses and any other identified costs of the project to be paid – these can be discussed and agreed before the placement starts.
Below are profiles of some of the students on the course so reach out direct to them if you are interested or if you want to discuss it with a staff memebr contact Jon Fairburn 01782 294094 firstname.lastname@example.org
a lot of experience developing and leading teams to achieve results. This is
proven through a history of achievement working with Active Lives Education, Cheshire
Football Association, Birmingham County Football Association, Walsall Local
Authority, Sported UK, Sports Across Staffordshire, and The Football
I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management. I have experience in creating and managing marketing and communication strategies and also have experience in website management, email and text marketing, social media management, content curation, and online paid advertising.
I currently run a business called Active Lives Education however am looking for a project that helps me gain further experience in digital marketing, to develop my skills and develop a career or business in this field.
I hold a foundation degree of science in Film and Television Production and have recently graduated from my BA degree in Events Management (2 year fast track) which I gained a 2:1 in. I have a large work experience portfolio from volunteering to paid work. For 4 years I was a manager of a Children’s play centre then moving onto the cash manager of B&M. I now work as an Events Assistant at Moddershall Oaks. For my volunteer work I have experience of working for the likes of Channel 4, Woman of the Year and Stone Food and Drink Festival. I have also worked several corporate events such as the Hotel Marketing Conference and Land Rover.
I have skills within Web design, as well as using all social media
platforms for brand building. I also have quite a good understanding with
photoshop and other computer software that may be needed, I am a quick learner
and can pick up things fairly quickly.
Ideally, I would like a placement within a sector that holds
Events, but I would be open to offers.
Or if you’d like to have a look at some of my volunteer work you can find this on Instagram: @amottevents
I have recently graduated from my BA Events Management (2 Year Accelerated) in which I achieved a first-class honours. I have previous work experience as a bar supervisor for three years as well as voluntary work experience with Channel 4, The Stone Food and Drink Festival as well as being a student representative for my course.
I currently work for The Student Hub at Staffordshire University as a Digital Marketing Ambassador. In this role I manage multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) as well as improving the overall engagement and reach of the platforms.
I am able to use social media
platforms to build and uphold brand image. I have experience in using analytics
to improve the reach of posts as well as identifying demographics which not be
being reached and making steps to target them.
Ideally I would like a placement
in tourism, events or hospitality but I am open to offers.
I have recently graduated with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Events Management and have now started studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a large work experience portfolio from both paid and volunteer work. I have been a chef for the past three years at The Orange Tree Bar and Grill, I also hold a range of customer service skills which I have been able to develop by working at a bar and on a hotel reception. To broaden by experience in events management I have volunteered at numerous events such as Woman of the Year 2018, Stone Food and Drink Festival and The Royal Oak Gin festival.
I have skills in web design, brand building and analytics, I
can also use all forms of social media and some computer software which may be
required. I am a reliable team player who learns quickly, I enjoy expressing my
creativity when carrying out jobs and ensuring all tasks are completed to the
best of my ability.
If possible, I would like to find a placement within the
events, tourism or hospitality sector although I am open to other
have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Events Management and am now
currently studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a wide work
experience portfolio varying from paid work to voluntary. Over the last three
years I have been a bar staff member for Stonegate pubs working for Walkabout
until it closed down in April this year and now Yates Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Within my role at Yates I tend to work on the bar and occasionally the kitchen,
but recently I have taken on the role to be more involved in the social media
for the business. To help to widen my knowledge of events and volunteers I
volunteered for the Stone Food and Drink Festival in 2017/18.
main stills revolve around social media and helping to design promotional
material. I am a reliable person with work ethic and put all my effort into
anything that I do.
ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or hospitality
industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may broaden my
knowledge and skills
graduated from Staffordshire University with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Business
management and I’m now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I am a
team leader at the Staffordshire
University Students’ Union. This role requires excellent communication
skills, the ability to delegate tasks to the team I am managing and making sure
the venue (LRV and Verve) is running as smoothly as possible. This has taught
me a multitude of transferable skills within customer service as I have
developed my interpersonal and leadership skills. This is reflected within my
dedication to the Staffordshire
Stallions American Football as a team player and a defensive captain.
looking for a digital marketing placement for my work based digital marketing
project. This will give me a chance to utilise the skills and knowledge that I
have learnt within my masters and apply it to a professional environment. Any
opportunity to be able to get this experience would enable me to further my
My degree has
given me an insight into a variety of different aspects within Business
Management. This has given me fundamental knowledge on topics that also relate
to the MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I have extended my academic skills
and abilities by studying into a specialised area of Business. An MSc has enabled me to have a greater
understanding of analytics, search engine optimisation and the ability to
design a global digital marketing strategy.
I have graduated with a BA (Hons) Journalism and I am now studying my MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Throughout university, I worked as a venue member for Staffordshire University’s Student’s Union in front and back of house customer service roles and as a Student Ambassador. These roles have instilled me with strong interpersonal skills and self-organisation through working in these multifaceted positions.
I have experience working as a Trainee Journalist at The Sentinel newspaper and Staffs Live, where I was responsible for researching and writing feature and news content for print and online publication. I utilised my qualifications in Reporting and Shorthand at 100WPM from the National Council of Training for Journalists, ensuring accuracy and time management.
I am an experienced CRM Marketing Assistant, where I was responsible for curating content for email marketing campaigns and market research. Studying Digital Marketing has developed my knowledge within integral marketing theories, brand development and content curation/SEO. I am now implementing this in the creation of my own lifestyle blog, The Wordsmith.
am interested in opportunities in the content marketing sector, and I am open
to writing diverse content in an array of industries.
As technology evolves, the digital marketing bar is being raised higher for more transcendent usability and intuitive user interaction. For such, accuracy, speed and ease are the punch that will keep your clients loyal for the long haul. According to Gartner, consumer experience is the practice of designing for and reacting to their interactions to meet and exceed their expectations in order to increase consumer satisfaction, advocacy, and loyalty.
Highlighted below are some of the digital marketing tools that will give you competitive advantage.
Website Analytics tools
User-centered design is the first checkpoint you put your customers through. According to Brilliance, 75% of stores losses sales due to cart abandonment. So, how do you avoid cart abandonment? By having an intuitive navigation. Website navigation is like a table of content. The navigation should be organized, easy and grouped. Having complex and lengthy navigation creates confusion with your end users. For instance,
Imagine being at a new airport with 3 terminals and 6 floors and several concourses, you need to reach terminal 4A in under 10 minutes. How will you reach the gate without proper sign boards? A website without proper navigation is like an airport without proper signs. Your users will get frustrated and take off, hence leading to high bounce rate. How can you solve this issue? Create a website with a uniform design style, color scheme, and typography. Besides, include navigation tools within your website.
UX design involves creating something that users love, while analytics help designers/businesses understand what the elusive thing is. Analytics provides businesses with a measurable benchmark. There are four types of analytics.
Predictive analytics: Used to test scenarios and make suggestions.
Prescriptive analytics: Check on new trends and determine the optimal patterns.
Diagnostic analytics: Tracks and reveal trends over time.
Descriptive analytics: Indicates how many and how often.
Today, web analytics tools can perform all the above. If combined with research, measurement, and analysis, then business can create and maintain businesses that meet clients’ needs. You can achieve this using the following tools.
Kissmetrics offers analytics that helps businesses increase their conversion rates and track visitors. Besides, it helps to identifying barriers to conversions. Thanks to the use of Engage feature. Engage uses behavior based data to display notifications to site visitors. Using Kissmetrics, marketers can specifically set the following behavior based actions: Lightbox, dynamic content modal, announcements, bumpers, and notifications. Marketers can design triggers that prompt these actions for instances, when a customer is idle for a certain period on the website, he/she is prompted to take some action like signup for newsletter or display related products that they may be interested in. This helps reduce bounce rate, and thus leading to high ranking. The tool is pricy and not affordable to SMEs, besides being a good tool.
Currently, twitter has 326 million users. Do you want to get more out of Twitter and aren’t sure where to start? Creating an engaging and impactful strategy can make the difference. Firstly, you need to find your own voice. As a business, establish a well-defined brand strategy by creating fresh and original content that reflect your core business values. Besides, try and resonate with your audience in a positive way.
Planning and organization are key to great marketing. One of the best ways to get much out of Twitter is to join chats. There are chats for almost every topic. The key success to twitter chats is to be an active participant by following people, replying to their messages and keeping the relationship going even after the chat has ended. If there is no chat that relates to your brand, consider starting your own.
Although planning ahead is always great, the best tweets are created on the go. Ensure you capitalize on the trending topic and world events. However, as a caution, never use a tragedy as a branding opportunity. As a rule of thumb, don’t use one-sided marketing. Your Twitter marketing strategy should be a mix of organic tweets @replies, and Twitter Ads. Nonetheless, maintaining a Twitter account requires certain level of commitment and training. Besides, you must be weary of parody accounts, which can negatively affect your business. In 2019, businesses should watch the status updates to encourage conversation between its users.
Facebook Power Editor
Specifically designed to run hyper-specific advertising campaigns. The tool often issues new targeting and budget-friendly features for all users. In order to get more out of Facebook Power Editor, you must understand Ad basics. Use of catchy headlines, engaging images and strong Call to Action dictates how well your ad will perform.
Image Source: Neil Patel
The catchy headline, and strong call to action makes the above ad more appealing to the target audience. Currently, Facebook Power Editor is only available on Google Chrome, thus, users of other browsers are not privy to using this powerful tool. Currently, Facebook is testing CTAs to be used on stories create on pages. This something to watch in 2019.
Customer experience requires a health check. One of the ingredients to this challenging task is knowing the ins and outs of your customers’ behaviour. In digital marketing, communicating with your consumers and anticipating their needs and problems even before they arise is what you need. Getting the right tool to address customer experience is what will give you a competitive advantage since the war will not be won on product features or price page.
Plugins can often help us implement some specific functions so that people who don’t understand the code can also add features to the website, thus avoiding re-development. WordPress, as a mainstream content management system with many themes and plugins, makes its extensibility to the fullest extent. Currently, many famous blogs, news media, music sites, Fortune 500 companies and celebrities are using WordPress, such as favourite blogs like TechCrunch and BBC America on WordPress. How do you get the best performance out of your WordPress and let it fully demonstrate the benefits of your content in modern web pages centring on speed, search engine optimisation and user experience? This blog will introduce some new plugins.
Ready to work
After we use WordPress to build a website, as the website develops more and more visits, we often encounter unsatisfactory opening speeds in the foreground and background, and even exhaustion of memory. Aside from the speed of the network, there is still a way to improve performance from the WordPress. Since WordPress only allocates 64M of memory by default, we have to modify this default parameter; otherwise, it is easy to cause an error: “fatal error, allowed memory size of xxxxx bytes exhausted”.
First, you need to open the WordPress WP including a directory to find the file of default-constants.php.
The first is to increase the memory limit for running WordPress and the second chart is to raise the memory limit obtained by the background supporter. This grade is more appropriate for modern server’s hosting services.
It is modified and saved.
Restart the server to see the effect.
Add AMP functionality to WordPress
Recent changes with Google search techniques will make Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) increasingly important (Dopson, 2018). AMP is Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages.
As the name suggests, it is to speed up the loading of the mobile web to enhance the experience.
From the official statistics, the webpage average speed has increased by 4 times after use it. At the same time, it is Google’s AMP Project advocating a solution for speeding up mobile networks. WordPress provides full support for AMP pages. You only need to download two plugins and enable them to add an AMP version to your WordPress website.
Even if it is a free version, you can get quite a bit of structured content, including site names, individual text tag translations, logos, GTM, GA, structured data, etc.
You can also add a cache for WordPress
Having a slow-loading site is a serious problem because it can be catastrophic to your bounce rate. As is well known, if websites are not loaded quickly and reliably, they are more likely to leave the site. 47% of Internet users want to load in the site within 2 seconds. It is worth mentioning that a delay of one second can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions.
WordPress occupies a massive amount of CPU resources. Generating a normal page often involves dozens of SQL queries and second-level runtimes. Hence, dynamic page statics for WordPress is the best choice for optimising performance.
Optimise WordPress images
Website image optimisation has always been a significant content. Compressing images can not only make the website faster but also improve SEO optimisation. Therefore, I recommend a WordPress image optimisation for the friends of WordPress website. Plugin ShortPixel is a full-featured image optimisation plug-in based on image compression, which provides a very comprehensive image optimisation option, including:
Image backup recovery
All the work can be handed over to ShortPixel, and it will do the job for you in the background supporter.
Automatically add related articles
To help a website improve its Google ranking, “visitor stay” can be extended by highlighting additional topics the readers might be interested in (Dobson, 2018).
The addition of related articles has allowed some users to stay longer on the website. Some topics cannot be clearly explained in an article, and readers are able to understand it through related articles better. I recommend Related Posts for WordPress. This plugin works best, which can go to the other articles cited and then recommend according to the label and classification.
According to the reports, the number of Internet users using search engines has steadily increased, so that search engine optimisation becomes more important than ever. Yoast is known as the best SEO plugin because of its various powerful features: Internal link suggestion, Redirect manager Keyword report, XML site map, content and page analysis tools. As a simple and easy-to-use SEO plugin, Yoast SEO can provide webpage snapshots for search engine optimisation, evaluation of page readability, content length, alt attributes, keyword, title tags, meta descriptions, outbound links and URLs, etc. Furthermore, the basic optimisation elements can be easily done with Yoast SEO.
The Yoast plugin, like an advanced version of the plugin, offers a freemium model. However, most users still prefer to use the free version. There are a lot of advertisements and sales information on the free version. Although it does not affect the use, seeing it for a long time is still annoying. I will provide a plug-in for advertising to use or hide the back-end advertising content of SEO Bloat hidden Yoast free SEO plugin.
Ben Hocking, MSc digital marketing management student
Facebook is going to be one of the main places to focus your social media marketing for the foreseeable future. But will you be marketing in the right place? For a while now, the news feed has been the place to be to engage with consumers, using display ads and chatbots. However, these methods had varying success due to them being easily overlooked and being a nuisance when posted too frequently. In response to this, 2018 saw an update to Facebook’s algorithm in order to reduce the amount of fake news and improve the reputation of the platform. As always, with the changing of Facebook algorithms comes a change in marketing culture within the platform. In an environment that has ever increasing scrutiny on user content by employers and relationships, users are experiencing a shift from news feed-based engagement to an increasing popularity of private messaging and stories.
With Facebook messenger becoming increasingly popular with 1.3 billion users a month, a huge new market is presenting itself. Thanks to copying of the original innovation by Snapchat and the subsequent success of stories on Instagram, stories (short videos and images that appear temporarily on a user’s social media) are becoming the next big thing in social media, with users clearly finding more comfort in the creating limited time content that can be forgotten about much easier than a public post on social media. Social media platforms are predominantly buying in to having stories on their platform, even with private messaging groups such as WhatsApp making the transition. Always attempting to be remain the leader of social media platforms, Facebook have clearly thrown their metaphorical hat into the ring and transitioning Facebook into a more story-oriented experience, and in typical Facebook fashion, making it bigger and better. These improvements are much needed for Facebook, as when it comes down to private messaging, it still lags behind WhatsApp by hundreds of millions of users.
One of the main changes to Stories is how the platform now uses the story cards (a collection of images taken from the stories of other users that provide a link to their complete story). Bigger cards, easier access and constant reminders: Facebook is clearly showing its cards on how it wants users to engage, and we can understand why. By using stories to market to users, pages can post as often as they like without filling up the news feed of their followers and risking being branded a as “nuisance” content. From a marketing perspective, this allows advertisers to place ads in the middle of a stream of content more seamlessly than before interruptive. Even if you scroll past the initial set of stories, there is no escaping them. After every few posts on the news feed there is another opportunity to engage with stories, this time Facebook even doubles down with the amount you can choose from on your screen.
Interestingly, Facebook is clearly playing the media platform game and winning. On mobile, stories are king, but switch to desktop like over 30% of users, and we are greeted with the same old Facebook we know and love. Other than stories being available along the right-hand side when you first open your news feed, their presence is very limited, showing that the ease of image-based content curation that mobile provides has been accounted for when transitioning, as well as accommodating desktop users in the changes. (Need to find data for older audience not engaging in stories).
So, you’re probably asking yourself why the predominance of stories is so important in shaping the future of marketing. Well, by using stories you can combine all your posts into one convenient little package to, believe it or not, tell a story about your product. Stories let your content be consistently viewed in the order you decide you want it to, allowing you to engage your audience with the correct posts without the risk of them missing the good bits. They also allow you to get the users invested in your content before presenting them with your long-form marketing through the stories themselves and the ability to swipe and tap to take them from Facebook to your website effortlessly, and the best bit- they already know they want to go there, reducing bounce rates and encouraging good quality engagement with your content. Another amazing feature of Facebook stories is the integration between the Facebook platform and the messenger app, with stories appearing seamlessly between the two platforms as is typical for Facebook messenger. This will allow advertisers to target any users from either platform with meaningful content.
The final trick up the marketer’s sleeve with Facebook stories is the ability to embed polls and links within the story itself. Want feedback on a new service? Add an emoji slider and let them show you how happy they are, the possibilities are endless. And this is only the beginning, with the increase of popularity for Facebook stores expected to overtake news feeds as the primary way to share on social media in 2019. With more than double the users of Instagram, Facebook may have been late to the party, but they are soon going to be the life of it.
Written by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean at Staffordshire business school
There’s an Autumn nip in the air, the Great British Bake Off has begun and the annual McMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is just around the corner. Kenwood mixers are whirling into action in kitchens across the UK.
Meanwhile, bags are being packed, goodbyes said, and freshers are itching to begin their university life. Around the World lecturers are preparing to welcome their new students and planning for the academic year to come.
It strikes me that these two situations have something in common. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all lecturers are good bakers (far from it!), but there is something vaguely familiar about the nurturing, caring principles of baking and lecturing; the desire for a good outcome and the commitment to working hard to achieve this.
Ever tried baking a cake with less than quality ingredients – with a dodgy cooker and scales that don’t quite weigh correctly? The chances are your cakes won’t turn out to be as good as you would like them to be. Quality, fit-for-purpose equipment and excellent ingredients are needed to guarantee the bake that you are looking for.
When choosing a university to spend three or more years of their life at, prospective students similarly seek quality – high rankings in the league tables and TEF, good NSS scores, high levels of student satisfaction and committed, highly qualified academics. A quality university is needed to turn out a top-notch, highly qualified and work-ready graduate.
The Recipe Even quality ingredients can’t ensure a perfect bake if the recipe is wrong. One too many eggs or not enough baking powder and the cake’s a flop.
The same balance needs to be considered within the course that a student selects. The onus is on academics to create a balanced mix of exciting learning content, activities, guest lecturers, trips and course materials to ensure that students learn exactly what they need to know. Miss out a vital ingredient and students will struggle to achieve success in their assessments.
Too hot an oven and your cake will burn. Too cool an oven and your cake won’t rise. Getting the temperature right is as important as having the correct recipe.
Lifelong friendships are made at university, so a good balance between studying and fun is needed. The correct work-play balance creates an environment in which students flourish – without the fun some students struggle with the pressure of study and can be tempted to drop out. Too much fun and grades may suffer. A good university seeks to provide exactly the right balance between social and study. Student Unions, personal tutors, pastoral care and student guidance teams are all there to support students in getting it right.
Jam and cream fillings, a sprinkle of icing sugar here, a coating of chocolate there and your cake is more than a cake, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s those finishing touches that make your cake the one that everyone wants to take a bite out of.
Similarly, a degree is not enough. Employers are inundated with graduate applications for advertised vacancies, and applications that stand out are those where the candidate has more than just a degree. Work experience, success in student competitions, self-awareness, confidence, professional presentation, global awareness…these are many of the added extras that lead an employer to choose YOU over other applicants.