Local SEO AuthorityLabs HoA Recap

This episode of the #Authority HoA was originally broadcast on July 8th with featured guests Loren Baker from Foundation Digital and Andrew Shotland of Local SEO Guide,and hosted by Melissa Fach, produced by Michelle Stinson Ross, and color commentary from AuthorityLabs CEO, Chase Granberry. Below we a have a quick written recap, the video and a podcast from the hangout, but first we want to introduce you to our guests.

Loren is the founder of Search Engine Journal and VP of Business Development/Co-founder of Foundation Digital.Over the last decade, Loren has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, universities, financial institutions and startups.

Andrew is the founder of Local SEO Guide. With 15+ years experience in TV and Internet, Andrew specializes in Search Engine Optimization, Local Search, fund raising, business development, and strategy. Clients include major media co’s, social networks, start-ups and ecommerce sites.

The Recap

Melissa Fach: What Changes have you seen in local in 2015 and what do businesses need to be aware of?

For Andrew, the changes to local search have been very small and gradual over the last year and a half. What is having the greatest impact is Google’s obvious commitment to developing everything mobile. It is that infiltration of mobile into all other aspects of search that is having a greater impact than anything specific to local search optimization.

Loren commented that although Google has made small incremental changes to local search, there is a much greater awareness of local not just on the part of SMBs and brick and mortar businesses, but also large enterprise and web based companies. He points out that local used to be available only in major metropolitan areas. Now with the high degree of mobile use, every zip code will give local results.

Andrew furthered the discussion by adding that many companies are getting pushed out of page one organic search results by the local pack and local related services like Yelp and TripAdvisor. In order to win at SEO these companies need to find a way to tie into local even though they may not have a physical presence.

MF: What impact does the increased use of mobile devices have on local search?

Loren adds that apps are a part of this game. For example, Uber has built out local directories within it’s app to cover the geographic areas it serves even though it does not have a local office or dispatch center.

Mobile is also starting to train search users to leave off local qualifiers and expect that local results for a particular key phrase will appear at the top of the results.

What Andrew finds interesting is that since there is now so much competition in the app stores, mobile first companies are now discovering that they need to develop an SEO strategy. It’s not just enough to build a great app, mobile companies are finding they need to aid the discovery process by showing up in search for their website.

MF: Do you think that small businesses are going to have a shot to rank on page one organically, or will they have to pay for that placement?

Andrew confidently confirms that small local businesses still have a huge advantage over large national companies because they have a well established physical presence in their community. The big companies like TripAdvisor don’t have the ability to focus on a very specific set of keywords like a local business will. When you don’t have to rank for millions of permutations of keywords over large geographic areas, it’s much easier to own the handful of keywords that really matter to your local business.

Loren pointed out that competition for placement still varies greatly by location. While some areas like Los Angles get results for OpenTable, Yelp, and LA Times listings of restaurants other locations will present specific restaurants in the top results. What is important is that local businesses really understand the landscape of their local area and either work to build their SEO or work to get listed in the top ranking directories.

MF: Are there any instances where carousels or snack packs negatively impacting local placement?

Andrew has noticed a trend particularly for directory sites. Since January they have found their organic rankings displaced by snack packs creating a loss in search traffic.

Loren notes that Siri and Google voice queries are shifting user behavior. More people are verbally asking their devices for recommendations and directions than performing an online search. With Google Now push notifications, the user can get a recommendation BEFORE they even take the step to search.

MF: What marketing/SEO strategies or techniques would you recommend moving into 2016?

Andrew is still a firm believer in getting the basics right. Large multi-location businesses in particular seem to struggle with keeping name, address, and phone information consistent across the web. It’s critical no matter how large or small a business is that every instance of contact information is current. Mixed signals at this basic level is a killer. Loren adds that social media is a contributor to this. A branded rule book is necessary so that each location properly sets up and maintains their social profiles in a way that is consistent with brand standards and guidelines. Brands also need to have a plan in place that eliminates the constant creation of new profiles with personnel turnover.

MF: What suggestions do you have for businesses to stop or avoid in the future?

Loren recommends passing up on bundled offers to create a webpage for your business. You are diluting the effectiveness of your brand online with multiple pages for your business. Andrew cautions to also beware of companies that offer to set up a subdomain on your site and earn based on their performance. Usually those kinds of offers lead to SEO nightmares that will take months to correct.

Loren and Andrew had some great answers to viewers questions as well, so make sure you watch and listen to the rest of the hangout at the bottom of this post to learn more about getting the most out of your Local SEO efforts.

Our Next Hangout, July 22, 2pm EST

Be sure to mark your calendars now and join us for the next #AuthorityHoA to discuss SEO audits with Annie Cushing and Alan Bleiweiss on July 22nd.

Video and Podcast


How to Use Your Visitors Favorite Keywords Throughout Your Marketing

Most people think about keywords when they are optimizing their website for search, buying PPC ads, and when they are creating content. But if you stop there, you are not getting the most out of them. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can extract the top keywords your visitors are using to get to your website throughout your marketing.

How to Find the Best Keywords Driving Traffic to Your Website

The first question you might be asking is how to find the keywords your visitors are using to find your website in search. Google Analytics was your one-stop destination until they implemented keywords (not provided). So now you have to rely on a couple of other choices.

Your first stop might be the Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools. Their search console will tell you the keywords that lead to impressions and clicks through to your site in search. You can use it to view the top search queries (keywords) that drive traffic to your website as a whole or look at a detailed report of keywords that drive traffic to specific pages on your website.


You can also use AuthorityLabs (Now Provided) reports. They tap into Google Analytics to give you even more information about your top pages and the keywords your visitors are using to find them. As opposed to Search Console, this report shows you the best keywords you should be tracking for your content as opposed to any and all keywords that may have little search volume.


How to Use the Additional Keywords You Find

So now that you know where you can find the keywords people are using to get to your website and to your content, here are some ways you can use those keywords throughout your marketing.

Re-Optimize Your Homepage

For most businesses, the homepage is the most trafficked page on a website. The Now Provided reports will likely reveal new keyword phrases that you could be using on your homepage to get even more traffic from search.


If you see one or two that have great search volume and you’re not already using in your homepage’s SEO settings, try adding them. In the above example, the homepage could get a higher ranking for freelance writing by inserting it into the title, thus gaining more of the traffic from that phrase.

Optimize Social Profiles

Another way to use keywords suggested for your homepage is for your social profiles. If people are searching for particular phrases on Google, chances are, they are searching for them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Hence, you should use the top keyword phrases that appear in your Now Provided reports in your social media profiles, bios, and headlines.


This will ensure that you are more likely to be discovered in social searches, like Twitter’s shown above.

Re-Optimize Your Content

If you notice that one of your top pieces of content is getting little traffic from a keyword phrase with higher search volume than you originally optimized it for, it’s time to re-optimize your content. The best way to do this is to change the title of the content to include a long-tail keyword phrase.

For example, let’s say that you have a post on your website with the title 10 Ways to Contact Facebook. You look in your Now Provided report to see that you are getting traffic from keyword phrases like how to contact Facebook and contact Facebook support, but you don’t rank #1 for either. You could probably boost your rankings if your post title actually included those phrases.


Hence, you could update your post title to How to Contact Facebook Support: 10 Ways to Get Help. This will optimize the post for contact Facebook, contact Facebook support, how to contact Facebook, and how to contact Facebook support

The important thing to consider is whether you update the post’s URL to also include those keyword phrases. On one hand, you can redirect the old URL to the new one to save any links to your post. On the other, if you had a popular post with thousands of social shares, you’ll lose the social share count by changing the URL. So consider that when choosing whether to update the URL.

Optimize Social Updates to Promote Your Content

Hopefully, you are taking the time to promote older content from your website. If it’s popular on search engines, it’s likely going to be popular on social media as well. You can take the keyword ideas from the Now Provided report to create lots of new social media status updates to promote that content.

Using the above example of the contacting Facebook post, you can create tweets like the following.

  • How to Contact Facebook Support: 10 Ways to Get Help [link]
  • Need help from Facebook? Here’s 10 specific ways to contact Facebook support. [link]
  • How to Contact Facebook: 10 Ways to Get Help When You Need It Most [link]

You can follow CoSchedule’s guide to content promotion over a three month span to put the new keywords you find into action.


This is an especially important strategy to use for your evergreen content that performs well each time you share it, regardless of age.

Optimize Email Subject Lines

If your emails are not being opened at the rate you expected them to be, you should start by analyzing your email subject lines. One way to get people’s attention is to simply use keyword phrases they are likely to use.

You can use your email marketing service’s A/B testing features to figure out what keyword phrases works best in an email subject line. Here’s what it would look like in GetResponse.


This would allow you to find out the types of email subject lines that your subscribers will be most likely to respond to or engage with.

Create More Content

As you’re browsing your Now Provided keywords, you may find keywords that do not exactly match the content for the page they are linked to in search.


This should inspire you to create new content around those keywords. For example, here are the keywords linked to a post on Gmail filters that move automated emails out of the inbox. There are three additional content ideas that can be pulled from this list: Troubleshooting Issues with Gmail Filters Not Working, How to Clean Up Your Gmail Inbox, and How to Create Gmail Filters: Advanced Edition.

Since these keywords are already driving some traffic to your original post, you can link your new content to them near the top of the original post. That way, if someone came to your article looking for information about how to clean up their Gmail inbox, they can click through to that article instead of leaving your site when they realize the original post didn’t suit their needs.

Search for Discussions

Did you know that you can market your products, services, and content through discussions? People create discussions on Q&A networks, forums, social media groups, and other networks in order to find something. Keywords in your Now Provided report can be used to discover those discussions.


Armed with the keywords your visitors are using to find your business and your content, try searching for them on the following specific sites.

  • Q&A networks including Quora and Yahoo Answers. Both have search boxes right at the top.
  • Find forums for your niche or industry and use the forum’s search box. It’s usually in the sidebar, or a link in the top menu bar (or under the Tools menu in some cases).
  • Don’t forget about Q&A and forums on niche sites, like the ones that can be found on Amazon, Credit Karma, The Knot, and similar networks related to your business. Most have a search box.
  • Facebook groups – use the search box at the right, below the cover photo.
  • LinkedIn groups – use the search link in the group’s menu.
  • Google+ communities – use the search box below the group’s photo in the left column.
  • Twitter – use the search box at the top of the network.

If you find great results using the above options, you may want to automate their discovery. For example, a simple IFTTT recipe will send keyword mentions in tweets to your inbox. Google Alerts can help you with Quora, Yahoo Answers, and forums. You can even specify site:quora.com your keyword phrase as the alert so you get results only from Quora and other sites you specify.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to automate Facebook and LinkedIn group searches. If you find a particular group that seems to discuss the topics related to your keyword phrases, you should remind yourself to run regular searches to ensure you are on top of discussions. Or, on Facebook, just turn on notifications so you can be the first to reply to new topics relevant to your business.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are lots of ways to utilize the keywords visitors use to find your website and your content in search to help you throughout other areas in your marketing. Use them to improve your homepage, social profiles, content, email subject lines, social updates, and promotional opportunity discovery.

6 Ways to Increase Rankings Using Social Media

Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing can populate social media pages as search results. Occasionally, a Facebook business page will even rank higher than the actual business website will. How does this happen?

Search engines want to populate results people want. So if users engage with a specific keyword-rich post on Google+ more than a blog post from 4 months ago, Bing may rank it higher. Just as a blog post can receive authority, social media pages can receive authority by sharing valuable content people engage with.

The simple truth is engagement. Without comments, link clicks, and shares, social media updates sit idle. Increase your ranking by increasing your engagement on social media with these tips.

Share Links to Your Website

Every social network has somewhere you can type copy, whether it’s in a caption box for a video or a new tweet, there’s a designated area for users to create text. This is your opportunity to shine, marketers! Create relevant updates that include a link to a specific page on your website. For example, if you want to share an update about a product, post an image with a link to the product page in the caption.

URL shorteners are mandatory when posting links. If your business or agency uses a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social, link shorteners are provided when scheduling posts. If writing an update in real time, posting directly on a social network, use URL shorteners like Bitly, Google Shortener, or TinyURL. This comes in handy when you have limited characters and is also much more appealing than seeing a long URL.

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Create Viral Content

The more you produce high quality content, the more likely you are to have people share your content and achieve virality. This is necessary because more shares equals more activity, brand awareness, and improved rankings. Search engines can use high engagement on social media pages to help rank different search results. Try these tactics below to increase engagement, and ultimately improve rankings.

  • Appeal to emotions. The best way to create a viral post is by appealing to people’s emotions. Emotions trigger reactions, such as engagement, purchases, and referrals. Use emotions like anger, sadness, and humor to receive the greatest response. You want to not only communicate, but connect with your audience’s emotions.
  • Share more videos. Visually appealing elements such as videos receive higher engagement than content posts. Business Insider conducted a study reviewing posts with links, photos, text-only, and video updates to see which received the most organic impressions. Videos won by a long shot.
    screenshot 2015-02-16 at 12.15.07Image Source: Business Insider
  • Ask questions people want to engage with. Make users stop at your update and think for a moment. Let them ponder their thoughts as they spend just a little bit more time hovered over your update before commenting with an answer. There are several different ways to ask questions on social media. Depending upon the complexity of the audience, the simpler the response to a question is the more likely you will receive comments and replies.

Image Source: Kissmetrics

Add Website URLs to Page Bios

As easy as it is to do, so many businesses don’t fully complete their “about” section on social media pages. Every social media profile gives businesses an opportunity to include a link to their website. Include it! Including a website URL on Facebook acts as a reference point for users to continue research on a business and encourage traffic from social to a website. Search engines can also use this information to pair websites to their correct social networks and rankings.

Hashtags Are Your Friend

Hashtags truly are a marketers friend. They make following trends and topics a synche for users, and even easier for businesses to pop up on the radar with. Keep track of trending topics by using hashtag tools like Tagboard, RebelMouse, and Keyhole. Join in on the conversation and use trending hashtags to help improve your chance of ranking for a relevant topic.

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Use Local Listings to Your Advantage

Updating a business’ local listings should be one of the first few steps in a new marketing plan. When updating local listings on business directories, it’s important to include each social network that is associated with the business. Include the correct social network’s URL and make sure to customize the URL, using the full business name.


Don’t forget to also hashtag #yourlocation in your profile on Twitter, include it in the bio on Pinterest, and hashtag it with Google+ posts. The more a business location is included in social media profiles, updates, and business directories, the more search engines can recognize the right locations and correlations.

Start Using Facebook Graph Search

When thinking how can Facebook’s Graph Search help me rank better, go back to the basics of marketing: Do more of what customers like and less of what they don’t, while keeping a close eye on competitors. Facebook’s Graph Search allows you to do just this.

Graph Search is the perfect way to analyze information about a target audience and competitors using a social network. Filter results by things your audience likes: Pages, interests, groups, etc. The Search populates results based on actual language, not just keywords. Learn what people are responding to, what they like, and replicate it. Keep track of what your competitors are doing and keep your Facebook page at the top of search results.

Social Media blogger Jen Smith compiled this quick guide for ways to research using Facebook’s Graph Search. Enter the following information into the search bar in Facebook:

    Pages liked by people who like [page name]
    Pages liked by people who like [page name] and [page name]
    Interests liked by people who like [page name]
    Interests liked by people who live near [location]
    Groups joined by people who like [page name]
    Groups joined by people who are interested in [interest]

In case you didn’t notice the pattern, increased engagement on social media, and basically everywhere online, can result in increased rankings for businesses. Producing overall quality content that people want to share will help business profiles show up in search results, boosting branding and rankings.

Do one of your business profiles show up more than the other? Comment below with your top performing social network!

Mobile & SEO – AuthorityLabs HoA Recap

Authoritylabs-hangoutsThe premier episode of the #AuthorityHoA went live on June 24th with featured guests Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz and Cindy Krum from Mobile Moxie, and hosted by Melissa Fach, produced by Michelle Stinson Ross, and color commentary from AuthorityLabs CEO, Chase Granberry.

Pete is the Marketing Scientist at Moz. He is well known in the SEO industry as the guy to go to when the SERPs are changing to get answers. In fact, see his post today The Colossus Update: Waking The Giant.

Cindy is perhaps the top expert in mobile marketing today. People travel far and wide to hear her speak on the subject. Cindy’s insights in this hangout, combined with Pete’s, will be valuable to any business today. The AuthorityLabs team discussed changes in the mobile SERPs, what businesses need to do to remain competitive in search and more.

The Recap

Melissa Fach: Pete and Cindy, what kind of impact have you seen from April’s mobile algorithm update? Has there been a true impact on mobile rankings?

The answer to that depends on the industry. Some sets of results chanced dramatically, especially in segments that also compete with mobile apps. Other market segments demonstrated very little change in rankings as a result of the Google mobile algorithm update. The big shift had more to do with the number of mobile friendly sites by the launch date compared to the number before the announcement of the update. Dr. Pete indicated that prior to Google’s warnings to get your mobile act together, fewer than two thirds of search results in mobile were “mobile friendly.” Since the release of the mobile algorithm update they are seeing up to 80% of results showing up as “mobile friendly.”

MF: Cindy, can you elaborate on the app side of things, please?

If your business is centered around keywords that are also commonly used in the App Store or in Google Play, searches for those terms were affected to a greater degree by the mobile algorithm updated. The way the App Pack displays in mobile search can push even first place organic rankings way below the fold and causing businesses to not only compete for placement with similar businesses but also with Google’s media rich results.

MF: Do you feel this update has or will hurt the small business owner in the long run?

Cindy indicated that small local businesses that were already doing a great job of their local SEO should have seen very little change in mobile rankings even after the release of the update in April. For them it’s not so much about having a mobile friendly site as it is about getting proper placement in Local Packs and interactive location cards in mobile search results. Again the media rich results that Google places before organic results are the prime spots to land. For local businesses, that has far more to do with local SEO than mobile SEO.

Dr. Pete did, however, warn small businesses that while local SEO may have given them a reprieve for now, updating their web presence to mobile friendly will still be critical over the long run. Small businesses need to keep in mind that there is a continuing shift toward multi-device and cross-device use and a much richer way of accessing search in general.

MF: How much of search is now mobile vs. desktop?

Dr. Pete commented that although Google reports that searches are about 50% mobile and 50% desktop, it’s not actually an either or proposition. Desktop searches have not declined in favor of mobile search. While the number of searches has remained about the same on desktop devices, the number of mobile searches has increased to catch up with desktop. So rather than the number of searches remaining the same and more of those searches happening on mobile, what is actually happening is an overall increase in search volume with mobile making up the difference.

Here’s what’s key, although businesses are not losing business with a shift away from desktop, since that search volume remains the same, those same businesses are missing out on the new opportunities represented by the increases in search on mobile. Dr. Pete cautions businesses not to be lulled into felling that since they are not losing desktop traffic that mobile is not quite as important to their online operations.

Dr. Pete also reminded us that App Pack results are quite common and those results in affect kill a valued organic placement by pushing them off of page one the results in mobile search.  Cindy pointed out that along with the App Pack, there are also carousel results that will present other less directly related content like Wikipedia and YouTube videos toward the bottom of the first page.

MF: What other crazy things are you seeing in mobile SERPs?

Along with the App Packs, Local Packs, and various content carousels, Cindy also highlighted instances of branded boxes for certain large sites with deep links and a mobile app that highlight that particular brand, like Urban Spoon or Pinterest, and provide the install button there in the search results.

There are also instances where a Knowledge Graph answer box will trigger some longer descriptions for organic results as well as doubled information with the organic result that won the knowledge graph box at the top of the page.

For Dr. Pete the oddities are a result of Google’s drive for mobile first development. The snack packs and carousels are now developed for mobile search first and then pushed to desktop. Those same packs display in weird sorts of ways on desktop. There is also a divergence in how much more engaging these media rich displays are on mobile versus desktop. The features that you see on desktop are displaying as much more appealing in mobile search.

There is much more we asked Cindy and Dr. Pete about, but you will have to watch and listen to the rest of the hangout at the bottom of this post to learn more.

Coming Soon

Be sure to mark your calendars now and join us for the next #AuthorityHoA to discuss Local SEO with Loren Baker and Andrew Shotland on Wednesday July 8th.

AuthorityHoA with Loren & Andrew


How to Respond to Negative Feedback Online

As a business owner, I understand how much it hurts when someone doesn’t appreciate your business or your employee’s hardwork. No matter how hard you try to always put your best foot forward, there will always be someone who has something negative to say about your business. The accessibility and ease of the Internet encourages such critics to express their opinions even more, resulting in a constant online battlefield for business owners. This is especially true since bad reviews can result in decreased revenue and rankings.


Image Source: Search Engine Land

Last year, 72% of people in a BrightLocal survey said positive customer reviews encouraged their trust with a business. Talk about a majority! When it comes to rankings, Google Maps tends to populate local results based on reviews. If a business is suffering from bad reviews, their local rankings may be suffering as well. It gets even worse when it comes to mobile. Review counts and average ratings are used to help sort results on mobile search.

Let’s combat the negativity online by reinforcing the positives of a business and following these steps when hit with a bad review.

Have a Plan of Action

Social networks and review sites like Facebook and Yelp have become a starting point for consumers. Before choosing their next Thai restaurant or picking the right plumber, a majority of people are searching online first. Bad reviews will hinder the chance of them choosing one company over the other, hurting the reputation and ultimately revenue. In order to be efficient, it’s important to plan ahead, knowing at any moment your business can get hit with a bad online review.

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Plan of Action:

  1. Decide who is going to respond. Do you have a specific person who can manage reviews? Designate someone who is in charge of handling feedback. This will help avoid chaos and create timely responses.
  2. What kind of review is it? Generic, spam, disgruntled customer, business competitor, etc. Diagnose what kind of review it is and what type of response would fit best. If you notice you’re being hit with several spammy reviews, blocking that person or reporting them to the social network or review site may be in order. Whereas a disgruntled customer review needs extra special attention and a personalized response.
  3. Keep track of the data. Create a review log and add the new reviews to it. Notate all of the info: who the person is, date/time, star count, where the review was posted, who responded, how the response was made, what kind of response, etc.
  4. Scan across the board for patterns. Check all social networks and review sites to see if the same review was posted elsewhere. If it was crossposted on multiple sites, reply accordingly so you’re still responding to each review. After you have resolved the issue with the customer, you can reach out and ask them to remove the multiple reviews, helping salvage your reputation on each website.Updated-Review-Management-Tools-Chart-600x180

Image Source: Search Engine Land

How to Avoid Being Generic

The key to a proper response is by personalizing the message. Copying and pasting the same automated reply will be noticed by multiple users. Noticing several of the same automated responses takes the humanization out of a business and shows little to no respect for the customer’s concerns. Customize each response so it is slightly different than the last, leaving a name and contact information to be reached at.

When to Bring Management In

It’s important to step back when responding to bad reviews and look at the bigger picture. Is this issue something management needs to be aware of? Is there still an opportunity to salvage the relationship by offering them something in return? If so, respond with an email address and phone number so the customer can communicate directly to management.

PrestonSmith_Review1Image Source: Infusionsoft

As a customer, when a business or employee upsets you the first thing you want to do is talk to someone superior about the experience. That’s why it’s important to explain in the response how apologetic management is and how much they want to make the situation right.

Insider Tip: Instead of publicly explaining what free offers you’re about to bribe them with, share those types of details personally over the phone or in an email. If others see how many free coupons you hand out with each complaint, you’ll start to receive a lot more complaints and have a lot less free coupons available.

Drinking Haterade is Contagious

One bad review can inspire others to share their not-so-pleasant experiences and point out certain things they wouldn’t have noticed before. If you start to notice several bad reviews popping up in a small time period, release a new sweepstakes or contest to encourage your fans to share their positive experiences. This will help filter through some of the bad reviews, as well as increase engagement on your social networks and website. Offer a prize or free coupons so your fans have an incentive and want to share their great experiences.

A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. Therefore, each positive review can help combat the negatives.

Don’t Pretend Like it Didn’t Happen

Unfortunately, ignoring reviews won’t make them go away. If anything, it might make more reviews appear. A responsible business needs to meet each of its customers needs, including responding to negative feedback. No matter how it makes you feel as a business owner, your customers need to know that you’re willing to do what it takes to make things right, that you care about their experience.

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Take Advantage of Every Opportunity

Use bad comments and reviews as a chance to display how proud of your business you are, how long you’ve been in business, and the significance of each customer. Flip the negativity upside down and use it as an opportunity to change their mind about your business, while talking them into giving you a second chance.

Have you been hit with a review you couldn’t recover from? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

How to Run a Successful Social Media Contest


Contests are a great way for businesses to increase engagement and gain leads. Hosting one on social media is even better. With so many ways to engage, share, and make your contest viral, social media is the perfect place to host your next contest. Follow the tips below and you will be on your way to a successful social media contest!

Choose a Primary Network to Host the Contest With

It’s important to avoid confusion as much as possible when hosting a contest on social media. One way to avoid chaos and having to answer several of the same questions is by hosting the contest on one social network. Promoting the contest across all networks is recommended, and necessary for a successful contest, as long as it doesn’t require users to enter on each network. Additional entires for sharing on additional networks is a plus, but shouldn’t be one of the required steps.

I like to host contests for my clients on their Facebook page using third party apps. Facebook is usually a client’s most engaged social network and has great options for paid promotion. Once the contest is setup and paid promotion has begun on Facebook, I’ll share the contest and it’s details on the client’s other networks: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. The other networks help spread the word while increasing entries using their other fanbase.

Choose What Part of the Contest to Share on Which Network

As we discussed above, just because a contest is hosted on one network, doesn’t mean it can’t be shared on others. For example, Pinterest and Instagram are the best networks to share captivating contest images with short image descriptions, usually informing users how to enter and what the prize is. Use image tools like Picmonkey to easily add text over contest images, either explaining steps, the contest title/prize, or how to enter.

Twitter is a great opportunity to share a quick update on how many entries you’ve received so far and how many days left to enter. A contest hashtag is a must. Each tweet, and pretty much every social post, has to include the contest hashtag so users can easily follow along.

Regardless of where you are sharing details, make sure to maintain branding and similarity in all of the images and copy you use. With so many contests posted daily on social networks, you want your contest to stand out from the rest, while being known with it’s brand.

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Choose a Third Party App

A third party app is going to be the easiest, and smoothest, way to run a contest on social media. Create different contest tabs on a client’s Facebook Page using tools like Woobox and Rafflecopter. You can also direct traffic from social networks to a specific landing page using a third party app that collects and organizes entries. Some apps will even choose the winner for you by the amount of entry points per person or at random. These third party apps are some of the most commonly contest apps: Woobox, Rafflecopter, Votigo, Wildfire App, PromoSimple and Giveaway Tool.

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Create Simple Steps to Follow

The steps to a contest give direction and fluidity to how a person can enter. A photo or video contest will have minimal steps:

  1. Take a photo/video
  2. Hashtag it #contesthashtag
  3. Share it!

Having too many steps in a contest immediately discourages users and shouts “Too much work!”. The least amount of steps you have to enter a contest, the more entries it will receive. Over and over again I’ll see contests on Instagram that have too many steps, or overly complicated steps, for a social network that strives on the two simple acts of “tapping” and “tagging”.

  1. Like these 5 Instagram users
  2. Re-post this image
  3. Hashtag #awesomecontest on the images
  4. Tag 4 friends you want to bring with you

Simplify and clarify your steps. It will increase the contest and brand visibility while gaining more entries than you know what to do with. Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Clarify Any Required Rules and Legalities

Rules are different then steps, and very important to contests and their host. Rules set boundaries that protect the company throwing the contest, as well as give users a full understanding of what to expect. The rules to a contest should also be simple and easily understood.

To protect yourself, and the client, you’ll want to include a set of legalities in the rules section. Depending upon the clientele and type of contest it may be beneficial to work with a lawyer to develop the official contests’ rules and regulations. The NBA did a great job, most likely with paid legal guidance, to develop this set of contest rules for the Warriors contest. #Curry


Image Source: Total Pro Sports

Obey The Social Network’s Rules

Each social network has their own rules to obey. Facebook is a big one. It’s terms are fairly lengthy, and were recently updated in January. Scroll down to “Section E” to read all of Facebook’s requirements for Promotions, also known as contests or sweepstakes. Other than lawfully being responsible, you must include the official rules, eligibility requirements, and any necessary regulatory approvals if your contest is hosted on Facebook. You also want to release Facebook by each entrant or participant and clarify that Facebook is in no way sponsoring, endorsing, administrating, or caring about your contest.

Other than the basic legality rules, any Facebook Page can host a contest. You just can’t ask for the contest to be shared by users on their personal Timelines for entries. For example, this step would be violating Facebook’s rules:

#4: Share this post on 5 of your friend’s Facebook Timeline for an additional 2 points.

Decide How You’re Going to Choose a Winner Ahead of Time

Running a social media contest can be a little hectic and unorganized at first. Part of creating a seamless experience is by planning everything ahead of time. Deciding who’s going to choose a winner is one of those important steps to conquer prior to the launch. Is the agency going to pick a winner or is the client? Do you want your boss to have a say in it, or just the marketing team? Make it clear in the beginning so once the contest is over the designated person can quickly choose and announce a winner.

Generate Leads From the Contest

Most contests should have some sort of form or required information to submit as part of the rule. This is a great way to add to your contact list and generate leads. These entries may turn into potential customers next week, in a month, or even a year from now, all from one contest ran on social media.

Does Your Demographic Want to Win the Contest?

The main reason for hosting a contest is to get new leads, drive traffic, and increase engagement. In order to achieve those goals, you need to make sure you’re offering something your demographic actually wants.

2269_Selfie_Comp_SliderImage Source: Anaya

If your client sells shoes and they host a contest offering a $50 giftcard to Victoria’s Secrets, what are they telling their audience? Not only are they pushing them to go to another store, but a store that doesn’t even sell shoes (well, mostly). The prize needs to have a direct correlation with the brand.

A pair of shoes valued at $50 or a choice of one of the newest sandals from the summer collection would be a more effective prize. Each entry received means that person actually wants to win a new pair of your client’s shoes, they like them. This data can help you launch products in the future based on which contest prizes were the most successful, by which prizes received the most entries.

Tips For Hosting a Contest on Facebook

  • Use Facebook Ads. Advertising on Facebook is just about the only way to get your audience to see your posts, especially when it comes to contests on Facebook. Promoted Posts are a great way to increase the contest’s visibility, as well as engagement. Create several posts introducing the contest, and then promote these posts using Facebook Ads to encourage users to enter. Website Clicks is another great Facebook Ad that will push traffic from Facebook to the contest landing page.
  • Share entries on the Facebook Page. If you or your client is having an image or video based contest you can share the images and videos you receive on Facebook. This will encourage other users to enter by giving them an idea of what people have done so far, as well as inspire new ideas for entry.

Tips For Hosting a Contest on Instagram

  • Encourage hashtags and reposts. The best way to get engagement with a contest on Instagram is by having user engagement. Creating a contest-specific hashtag will give users a feed to follow and track the progress of entries. Reposts increase your potential entry base, while automatically adding additional eyes on the brand.
  • Time the Contest Perfectly. Create your contest around upcoming events, holidays, and/or seasons. This adds a fun and unique way to add relevance to a contest and even more hashtags to choose from on Instagram.

Tips For Hosting a Contest on Pinterest

  • Send Pinners for a whirl. Work with sponsors of the contest or local business partners to spread the word about the contest by making their Pinterest page one of the steps to enter. This will send users on a hunt from Pinterest page to Pinterest page, meeting allied businesses and Pinners along the way.
  • Create a New Pinterest Board for Entries. Encourage users to make their own board sharing images that represent the contest, while using the hashtag on each pin. This alerts their followers of a new board, increasing visibility, and adds additional pins to the hashtag.

Tips For Hosting a Contest on Twitter

  • #Contest. Including #contest or #sweepstakes in your contest tweets will improve it’s visibility tremendously. People who regularly enter in #contests check the contest hashtag frequently, scrolling through the feed until they find a contest or prize that relates to them.
  • Track the Engagement. Using social media monitoring tools like Sprout Social or SocialBro track how many @ mentions, favorites, retweets, and favorites each contest tweet receives.

Have you hosted a contest on social media before? What were your results like? Comment below!