Social media automation, when done with care and the right strategy, is awesome. It can amplify your great content while freeing up your time to create more of it!

We’ve talked before on the blog about automating some processes through services like If This Then That and Alfred, and in this post I wanted to share some of our favorite uses of another fantastic automation tool: Zapier.

Zapier integrates with more than 400 different web apps, which means most marketers are bound to be able to find at least a few ways to use it to work smarter, not harder. (See all of them and find tips on getting started at their Zapbook.)

big list of zapier hacks

First: How Zapier works

In a nutshell, Zapier lets you create connections to push data from one app to another using triggers and actions. They call each connection, made up of a single trigger and a single action, a “Zap.”

sample zap

To set up an integration, you follow these steps:

  • Define a trigger: The first event that instigates another action. The trigger might be something like “A New Email in Gmail” or “A New Payment in PayPal.”
  • Define an action: An action is what happens after the trigger. It might be something like “Create a Contact in Highrise” or “Send an email to the accounting department.”
  • Check to make sure your Zap works and then you’re all set. Zapier will monitor for the trigger and complete the actions associated.
  • Repeat for more tasks! You can make up to 5 Zaps for free, and Zapier has paid plans that offer lots more functionality.

Let’s take a look at some ways to use Zapier for marketing and for supercharging your Buffer account. I’ll also show you how we use Zapier at Buffer to streamline our communication as a team.

How to use Zapier for social media marketing

With so many tools available to work with, the ways to use Zapier for marketing and social media are really limited only by one’s imagination and tool set. I scoured the web to find some of the most useful and unique Zaps out there; maybe this will trigger some ideas for you.

Click on any photo to dive deeper into learning about the topic or setting up that Zap!

Share new content automatically

First thing first: Sharing your new content everywhere! You can create Zaps to send posts via RSS to many of your favorite social media sites, or into your Buffer queue.

share new posts

Build your email list

Integrating with Mailchimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor and more, Zapier could be super helpful for building and maintaining your email list.

Use Wufoo forms to collect email addresses? Set up a Zap to add them directly into your AWeber account. Have GoToWebinar sign ups entered into MailChimp. Create a new Salesforce lead every time someone fills out a form on your website.

list building zaps

Zapier has collected a ton of interesting email list building Zaps that you can check out here.

Promote events on the perfect schedule

Create a new event in your calendar, or in a meeting app like Meetup, Eventbrite or GoToWebinar, and Zapier will share your events on your social networks. You can even have Zapier delay the post to make sure it’s seen by the most people possible.

promote events

Later, you can share event reminders, too:

event reminders

Create and nurture leads following events

This Hubspot post provides a number of ways its customer can maximize their efforts with Zapier, including the idea of simplifying lead collection at events like tradeshows and conferences through a Zap focusing on Eventbrite.

Just choose “New attendee in Eventbrite” as your trigger, and “add or update a contact in HubSpot” as your action. As users register for events, they’ll get a contact record in HubSpot that you can use to trigger emails, workflows, build lists, and more.

eventbrite hubspot

This Zap also works with tons of other CRM and lead collection systems.

eventbrite salesforce

Eventbrite infusionsoft

eventbrite pardot

Monitor a Twitter community or list

If you’ve got a Twitter community or list that you want to keep an extra special eye on, Zapier has a few Zaps that can provide a big assist:

twitter monitoring

Build a list of people who share your content

Wondering who you biggest advocates and influencers are? Uberflip’s François Mathieu wrote a great post of 9 marketing automations hacks powered by Zapier. This one was super interesting: He suggests feeding Twitter into Google Docs to build a list of every tweet that matches your blog domain. You’ll end up with a spreadsheet of useful data, including the people who tweet your content.

twitter search mention to spreadsheet

You can also use Zapier’s Twitter search integration to find specific keywords such as like, love, and awesome when mentioning your brand name, or create this spreadsheet for mentions of a particular keyword or group of keywords instead of your blog domain.

Get notified of Reddit mentions

I’ve found Reddit a bit challenging to monitor in the past, so I’ve just turned on one of these Zaps for Buffer. These recipes allow you to automatically search Reddit for mentions of specific topics and then gather those mentions wherever you’d like to read them.

reddit mentions

Personalize your webinars with Unbounce and GoToWebinar

A very cool example from KISSmetrics follows their well thought-out webinar path that increased signup rate by 1,000 percent.

KISSmetrics uses GoToWebinar for their events, but uses an Unbounce landing page for signups, in order to have more control over the look and feel and run A/B tests to increase conversions. Zapier connects the two services.

unbounce to gotowebinar zap

Send content ideas from Feedly to your team

Danny Schreiber of  Zapier shares lots of cool ideas to work with Feedly through Zapier in this post. I particularly liked the idea of using a Zap to share ideas that occur while reading through your Feedly sources.

There are lots of ways to do this, depending on how you like to share ideas with your team:

feedly idea sharing zaps

Get push notifications for things you want

Push notifications are a really helpful way to get real-time alerts for the activities that matter to you. With Zapier, you can create push notifications for activities like new support tickets, new calendar events, new YouTube videos, and lots more. Here are some neat ideas for Twitter specifically:

push notifications for twitter

Get SMS alerts for crucial activities

Prefer to get notified via your phone? Set up Zapier with Twilio or use Zapier’s own special phone number to quickly set up notifications for anything you want to be alerted about. (You can also create email alerts in a similar way.)

Stripe to SMS

Sync Linkedin connections with Gmail contacts

Another great list of Zapier uses comes from Jessica Malnik at SheOwnsIt. She notes that it can be a challenge to have to sift through your email contacts plus all your Linkedin ones separately and suggests using Zapier to sync them like so:linkedin connections to google contacts zap

Share posts to your preferred real-time “chat” communication tool

If you use a tool like WordPress or Tumblr to share content or even internal information, Zapier can share posts those to chat tools like Slack, Hipchat and Yammer.

wordpress to yammer

Create a Mailchimp autoresponder

This one comes from Brad Knutson and is an interesting workaround if you want to add a bit more customization and individuality to your email autoresponder. He provides a whole tutorial on this process here.

mailchimp gmail zap

For even more social media and marketing Zaps, check out Zapier’s great resource, 101 Smart Ways to Use Social Media Automation for Sales and Marketing.

How to use Zapier to supercharge your Buffer account

If you’ve got a Buffer account (grab one here if you like!), there is plenty of potential to use Zapier to make your account work even harder and connect with tons of handy tools that might also be part of your workflow.

(One note about how Buffer works with Zapier: We like to give you as much control as possible at Buffer, so when you choose to connect any of these networks to your Buffer queue, you’ll be able to select which queue in specific: whether it’s Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn or Google+.)

Social media automation to Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and more

With Buffer, you can share, queue and schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. With Buffer plus Zapier, there are some really cool additional networks that might be helpful. For instance:

• Instagram to Buffer: When you post to Instagram, like an Instagram post, or tag something on Instagram, you can use Zapier to send that post to your Buffer queue

instagram to buffer

• Pinterest to Buffer: When you pin something on Pinterest OR when anyone adds something to a specific board you’ve selected, you can use Zapier to send that pin to your Buffer queue

Pinterest to Buffer

• YouTube to Buffer: When you post a new video to YouTube, you can use Zapier to send that video to your Buffer queue.YouTube to Buffer

• Other social media accounts to Buffer: If you like, you can also connect Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook to your Buffer queue through Zapier. Depending on your workflow and needs, this might be handy—for example, if you wanted to connect a business account to a personal account, or vice versa.

Buffer LinkedIn status

Connecting blog posts to Buffer

Another popular automation is to connect your blog to all your social media accounts so that every time you publish a new post, your social accounts gets updated as well.

Zapier makes it easy to connect a WordPress blog or a Tumblr blog to your Buffer account to make this process automatic.

• WordPress post to Buffer:

wordpress to buffer

• Tumblr post to Buffer:

Tumblr to Buffer

Later on, you can go back into your Buffer queue and check out your analytics to see how those posts did.

From there, you can change the  wording or the formatting, try a new headline, add a new or different image and share it again. This is one of our favorite ways at Buffer to A/B test headlines and other elements of social media posts to always keep honing in on what’s most effective.

Curating content

Content curation is a great way to grow your authority, trust and thought leadership, but finding content to share is one of the things that takes marketers the longest.

You want to create a system where the best content is easy to find, easy to tag, easy to access. Once you’ve got that, you can sit down for a few curation sessions a week and fill up your social queues with great content really quickly.

If you use tools like Evernote, Feedly, Trello or Google Docs as part of your content curation process, Zapier and Buffer can lend a hand.

• Evernote to Buffer: When you create a new note in Evernote and tag it with a word like Buffer for example, you can use Zapier to send that note to your Buffer queue

evernote to buffer

• Google Docs to Buffer: When you create a new row in a Google Sheets spreadsheet, you can use Zapier to send that article to your Buffer queue

Docs to Buffer Zap

• Trello to Buffer: When you create a new card or list in Trello, you can use Zapier to send that activity to your Buffer queue

trello to buffer

• Feedly to Buffer: However you might use Feedly for content curation, you can likely use Zapier to send specific articles, categories of content or whole feeds into your Buffer queue

feedly to buffer

If you find yourself returning to the same sources of great content, you might want to check out Buffer’s Feeds feature. Awesome and Business customers can add up to 15 RSS feeds to your Buffer social profiles and share links directly from your favorite sites from right inside your Buffer dashboard.

Sending Buffer posts to communication or workflow tools

So far we have talked about actions you can take that will create an activity in your Buffer queue. In this section, we’re going to talk about the reverse: An action you can take in your Buffer account that will create another activity elsewhere.

These are handy Zaps for those who want to communicate their social media activities within a team or keep a quick record of what has been posted to social media accounts. Some of these examples might be:

Buffer queue into Slack, Hipchat, or Yammer: Great to keep the whole team aware of new posts and shares. This is really handy if you’d like to encourage teammates in sharing your content.

buffer to slack

Buffer queue to Trello, Evernote, RescueTime: Perhaps useful if you’re keen on time tracking or project management for a client.

buffer to rescuetime

Buffer queue to a spreadsheet: This could be handy for your own records or as a kind of basic reporting to others.Buffer to spreadsheet zap

If you find yourself regularly reporting to a client or a boss we would love for you to give Buffer for Business a try! It gives you lots of rich analytics, insightful charts and graphs, easy ways to sort your best-performing content and export all your data.

Learn how to make these Zaps in our webinar!

I recently had the pleasure of talking with my friend Alison Groves of Zapier about all the ways one can combine Zapier and Buffer for social media marketing super power. Check out the webinar recording here:

How we use Zapier at Buffer

Finally, I thought I might share a few of the ways that we personally use Zapier in our daily work and communication here at Buffer, in case it might spur any ideas for you.

Sending what we’re reading to Facebook

facebook group notifications for kindle books

At Buffer, each teammate gets a Kindle and unlimited books for free. Reading is important to each of us, and this amazing perk that helps us focus on our self-improvement goals.

To keep up with what everyone on the team is reading, we use a Zap that sends each gifted book, which we keep track of through Trello, to our Facebook Group for Buffer team members. The end result looks like this:

books zap to facebook group

We also send these book selections to Hipchat through Zapier.

(P.S. If you’d like to keep up with what we’re reading, we keep our Pinterest board updated with the latest)

Sending Github notifications and pull requests to Hipchat

Buffer’s development team uses Zapier to funnel both Github notifications and pull requests into the Hipchat Engineers room.

Github to Hipchat

Sending new blog posts to Hipchat

We blog quite a bit at Buffer. Here, on the Buffer Open blog, on our Overflow developers blog, and on many team members’ individual blogs. So we’ve enlisted Zapier to help us keep track by connecting all our blogs’ RSS feeds right into Hipchat, our remote work central “office,” so to speak.

new blog post

This way we all get notified when a new post is published, with a link to go check it out:

new blog posts in Hipchat

Sending blog comments to Hipchat

In a similar Zap to the blog posts one above, we also send any comments on any of our Buffer blog posts into our Hipchat Crafters’ room.

blog comments to Hipchat

This is super helpful so we don’t have to sign up for notifications though Disqus for every post we write—Hipchat simply collects them all as they come in, like so:

comment in hipchat

Then we can quickly go in and answer questions and comments from our audience.

How do you automate?

If you’ve given Zapier a try, I’d love to hear about your experience and your favorite Zaps for marketing, productivity or anything else. Share your insights in the comments!

The post The Big List of Zapier Hacks for Marketers appeared first on Social.

You’re rocking social media.

You’re finding great content to share, you’re writing the best headlines, you’re engaging and automating and seeing your brand soar.

How will you let your boss or client know all the great stuff you’re up to?

Is there an easy way to see for yourself how things are going?

Creating a social media report can be key to explaining your progress on social media. You can choose the stats that matter and deliver it in an easy-to-understand way; there’re tons of personal insights to gain as well as valuable info for your boss or client.

We’re grateful for the example of so many Buffer users who are already creating social media reports of their own to share with a boss or client. I’d love to share a bit about how these reports come together—and how you can make one for yourself.

social media reports

Before we get into the details of the social media report, I thought it might be useful to go over the many different factors—metrics (and reasons for the metrics), timeframes, growth—that might go into a report.

In asking around with our awesome Buffer users, we found that social media reports can differ person-to-person and brand-to-brand in a number of ways.

First: Which stats matter to you?

A social media report is simply a collection of data and stats.

Which data and stats should be on there? And why?

The answer likely depends on your specific social media strategies and goals.

  • Followers tell you the number of people who wish to connect with your brand. The benefits of followers are for the reach of your content, the social proof of your brand’s popularity, and in some cases a simple vanity metric to boost your confidence!
  • Clicks tell you that the content you’re sharing is of personal interest to the user. Clicks send traffic to a URL and establish your social profile as a great resource for curated content.
  • Retweets tell you that the content you’re sharing is perceived as potentially interesting to one’s followers. The benefits of retweets is for advanced exposure to people who aren’t your followers and social proof that you know what you’re doing on social media.
  • Favorites are somewhat of a wild card. The benefit of favorites is as a social proof metric, and beyond that, it’s a bit hard to tell what people are thinking when they favorite because there are so many different strategies and reasons (curation, appreciation, bookmarking, etc.). On some channels, favorites/likes may surface the content higher into the News Feed.

Which timeframe is most valuable to you?

Here’re the timelines that have come up most often in our discussions:

  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • From campaign start to end

(Note: For monthly reports, some use a 28-day period so that it’s consistent across all months, since the months may vary in length. Also, for quarterly reports, often a 90-day period is used, as you can fit four 90-day periods into a year.)

How do you want to track your progress and growth?

Also, there can be some differences in the way you view progress. For instance, are you most interested in seeing where you are today, or how you’ve grown from a previous point in time?

Here’re some of the different ways we’ve found to look at reports in this case:

  • Snapshot – A look at the numbers for a chosen period, with no previous history considered
  • Week over week, period over period – A comparison of stats for a chosen period with stats for the previous period, or even from the previous year

If you’re interested in digging further, we’ve written about goal-setting for social media, as well as some popular goal-setting strategies.

A Weekly Social Media Report Template

placeit (1)

I put together a quick sample with some of the reports I talk about below. Feel free to grab a copy to use for your own purposes.

The report is built in Google Sheets, and it works off of a data export from Buffer. You can likely rig it to work with exports from other social media analytics tools as well.

Download the Social Media Report Template for free –> 

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to your Buffer for Business dashboard and export your analytics for the past 30 days.
  2. In the Google spreadsheet on the “export” sheet, click on cell A:1.
  3. Go to File > Import. Upload your export file, and choose “Replace data starting at selected cell.”
  4. The “Report Card” sheet should automatically be filled in with data from the “export” sheet.
  5. Edit any of the headings or titles (e.g. Retweets for Twitter, Reshares for Facebook).
  6. You’re all set! There’s a Report Card view for online editing/viewing, and there’s a Print-Ready view that’s been formatted for creating pdfs and printouts.

10 Useful Ways to Create a Social Media Report

To come up with some of the report ideas listed here, we asked some of Buffer’s users what they do with the Export Analytics data from their Buffer dashboards.

Many of the reports you’ll read about can be made using Buffer’s Export Analytics feature, which is available as part of Buffer for Business. Also, you can create these reports with exports from Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights.

1. Follower growth

“We’re gaining 1,000 new followers every week!”

new followers

When your boss or client looks at followers, they could draw lots of conclusions: popularity, reach, brand awareness, etc. And each one is valid. People follow social media profiles for a variety of reasons, some to receive the content from that profile, some to show their affiliation for the brand.

As you grow the followers on your social media profile, your influence gets a little wider, both in the number of people you will potentially reach and in the perceptions others have of you. A growth report is a great way to capture these two ideas.

How to create the report:

The free version of TwitterCounter shows you stats on your followers, how the number changes on a daily basis, your daily average of new followers, and your projections for the coming week.

You can grab this information directly and place it into your report.

Also, follower info is available for all your Buffer accounts by going to

Alternately, if you’re working from the dashboard of your social media management tool (say, Buffer for Business), you can view follower growth via the analytics.

  • On the Analytics tab, click to view followers on the analysis chart.
  • Mouse over the starting date for your desired range. If you wanted to see weekly growth, hover on the data point for seven days ago.
  • Jot down the follower count at the start of the range and at the end of the range.

Followers now (minus) Followers then = New followers gained

New followers gained (divided by) Followers then, multiplied by 100 = % growth

(I’ve found that follower growth is often best kept as a whole number, i.e. “I gained 35 new followers this week” as opposed to “My followers grew 0.3% this week.” The whole numbers seem a bit easier to compare.)

As you continue pulling these reports, you can also compare growth from week to week by looking at the New Followers Gained stat based on different time periods.

2. Influencer report

“Wow! Check this out! Taye Diggs is following us!”

taye diggs

Sometimes, it’s just really cool to know that someone big or influential is following you. In the long run, it’s likely a vanity metric, yet it’s still a fun occasion to celebrate—and perhaps to share with your boss or client.

The practical value of having influencers among your followers is that any social media update of yours has the chance to take off big time. And influencers among your tribe is great social proof for others to see that you’re being taken seriously by big-time users.

How to create the report:

To identify Twitter influencers, Followerwonk and SocialRank are a couple of the handful of tools that can help identify influential followers.

Sign up at either of these websites, connect your accounts (Followerwonk focuses on Twitter, and SocialRank does Twitter and—coming soon—Instagram), locate the followers with the largest followings, and add it all to your report.

3. Volume of posts

“Here’s what we’ve been up to for the past month. 110 posts!”

posts published

I was really interested to learn that one of the key reports that people run is a simple counting of the number of times they’ve shared to a social network. The report shows quantity of posts. You can compare it to previous periods to see how the volume has changed over time. (You can go super advanced and see how volume affects other stats like engagement and follower growth, too.)

How to create the report:

  • Export the data from Buffer, Twitter, or Facebook.
  • The export file will contain rows of your social media updates with columns for the individual stats on each update.
  • Count the number of rows (which equals the number of posts) by running this formula:


“A” represents the column with the update text.

4. Reach Rate

“Lookit! Our posts are seen by 10 percent of our fans.”


One of the Buffer users who shared some reporting insights with us had a great description for their process. Their team looks for reach and resonance. 

Reach is the amount of people who might see a post.

Resonance is the interactions with the content.

Reach can sometimes be a bit of a tricky term. Facebook uses it to refer to the number of people who see a post. Twitter calls the same thing Impressions. Either way, this metric can often be the best way to understand exactly how many people are seeing the content you share (the actual reach), regardless of how many followers you have (the potential reach).

How to create the report:

Twitter Analytics is currently the best place (and maybe only place) to find Impressions data for tweets. When you export your data from Twitter, one of the columns will be impressions for each tweet.

Buffer tracks reach for Facebook and potential reach for Twitter (potential reach is the sum of your followers plus the followers of those who retweeted you).

Get the reach/impressions per post by totaling up reach and dividing by the number of posts.

Reach per post (divided by) total followers = % of followers who see your content

5. Total engagement

“Does our stuff resonate with people? You betcha! 425 total interactions this month.”

Total engagement can mean different things to different people. In general, engagement is the sum of clicks, reshares, likes, and comments—basically every interaction one can take on a social media update.

What this information tells you is the overall effectiveness of your tweet. Did people like what you shared? If so, engagement will be high, regardless of whether the interaction was mostly due to one metric over the others. Engagement is the catchall for social media success. Good engagement = good sharing.

How to create the report:

  • Export the data from Buffer, Twitter, or Facebook.
  • In some cases, engagement may already be added together for you. If not, add up the total interactions in the columns for clicks, reshares, likes, and comments.
  • Done!

6. Engagement per post

“Every time we post, we can expect to get 25 interactions!”

The next step from the total engagement figure above is engagement per post. Instead of looking at total engagement for a certain period (which can fluctuate based on how many times you post), you can drill down into engagement per post, which shows a somewhat clearer picture of exactly how engaged people are with your content.

How to create the report:

Divide total engagement by number of posts.

7. Engagement per follower

“Nearly 3% of our followers engage with us each time we share an update! Wahoo!”

The cool thing about tracking engagement per follower is that you get a sense of how you might be able to scale your social media sharing. If you’re working to gain more followers, and you know you’re capable of getting a certain engagement/follower, then you’re likely to see your engagement go up. If you’re able to move the needle on engagement per follower, you’ll likely see an even bigger jump in engagement once your followers increase.

Another super helpful area for you, the social media manager, is using this stat to compare performance across multiple social channels, for instance Twitter vs. Instagram. Engagement per follower helps to normalize your metrics and easily compare.

How to create the report:

  • Add up the total engagement for your posts (see above). Divide by the number of times you’ve posted.
  • Take this engagement per post figure and divide by the number of followers you have.

8. Clicks

“Our social media posts have sent 350 visits back to our website this week!”


We’ve been using clicks as a key part of our goals and strategy for several months (if not years) here at Buffer. Clicks are the most direct metric that you can tie back to your website. When someone clicks, a couple of great things happened: 1) you wrote a great headline or created an awesome visual, and 2) that person is now checking out your site, signing up for email lists, reading more articles, advancing into the marketing funnel.

How to create the report:

Export the data from Buffer, Twitter, or Facebook.

If you’re interested in total clicks, add up the clicks from each post in your date range.

If you’re interested in clicks per post (a favorite metric of ours), divide the total clicks by number of posts.

If you’re interested in clicks per followers, take the clicks per post number and divide by total followers.

9. Social referral traffic

“Look at how many visitors to our site have come through social media!”

social traffic

Clicks are a great way to measure the success of your individual posts. Social referral traffic is a great way to show how successful a social network as a whole is for driving people to your website.

With social referral traffic, you see how many visits each social network sent to your site. This would include any links that you shared personally as well as any links that were shared by others on social media. When seen side-by-side with organic traffic, referral traffic, and direct traffic, it does a great job of putting the impact of social media into perspective.

How to create the report:

In Google Analytics, go to All Traffic > Channels.

This report will show the percentage of traffic that comes from social, alongside traffic from search, direct, referral (other websites), email, and other.

To see the individual breakdown of traffic by social network, go to Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals.

This report will show you how much traffic has come from each website.

10. Funnel stuffs

“See these sales? How cool that these people started their buying journey on social media!”

For advanced users, funnel reports show not only the clicks and referral traffic back to your site but also where that traffic ends up going and what they end up doing. Does your social media traffic convert into leads? Into subscribers? Into sales? The funnel reports take into account the whole visitor journey, from tweet to visit to action.

How to create the report:

There are lots of ways to go about funnels. There are some helpful tutorials from KISSMetrics and Social Media Examiner that do a good job of going really in-depth on the topic.

One quick way I’ve found to set up some simple funnels tracking is to use Google Analytics Goals.

  • After logging in to Google Analytics, click the Admin link at the top of the page.
  • Select your website from the drop-down list at the left, and in the right column of the page, click on Goals.
  • Click the “+New Goal” button.
  • Give the new goal a name, choose the type of goal you want to create, and set the goal details so that Google Analytics knows when a goal is reached

Once this is all set up, you can view the analytics data for this goal—including the amount that social media contributes to goal conversions—by clicking on Conversions > Goals in your Google Analytics dashboard.

Over to you

How do you go about creating social media reports?

Have you tried looking at some of the above stats?

I’d love to hear about your experience (and if Reports is a feature you might find useful in Buffer!). I’ll look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder, Death to the Stock Photo

The post How to Create a Social Media Report and Explain It to Your Boss or Client appeared first on Social.

Digital marketers—like you!—are all stars. You have your hands full with all the many ways to reach your audience. At any given time, you may need to be fluent in email, content and social media because your audience is cross-platform.

Few people make buying decisions anymore based on information from a single medium. So when marketers focus all their energy on one channel, they could be missing out on other opportunities and the natural rhythms of the buying cycle.

So how can you keep on top of channels as different as social media and email? And how can you do so in the most efficient way possible?

I’m excited to share are a number of ways to integrate social media and email marketing to help save you time and let you reach your audience where they are. In this post, I’ll show you six of my favorite tactics to get more out of each channel.

email social

1. Upload your subscriber list to social networks.

There are a few key reasons you might want to do this:

  1. Relationships. It puts a face and a name to your email subscribers.
  2. Listening. Following them on social networks will give you a better idea of their needs and wants.
  3. Community. If you are publishing interesting content on social networks, you might earn some new followers.

Uploading your subscribers to social networks differs by platform. Here’s how to do it on a few popular networks.

Uploading Subscriber Lists to Twitter

You can link your Twitter account to your Gmail or Yahoo! account to scan your personal contacts. This is a good place to start.

First, head to On the left sidebar, look for a link that says Find people you know.

1 twitter who to follow

Here, you can connect your personal or work email account. Twitter will check those emails against their user database and show your contacts’ profiles. Now follow them!

2 twitter connect gmail

This works especially well if you use Google Apps for Business since you can easily sync all of your professional contacts with your personal or business Twitter account.

To upload a CSV of contacts from your email service provider, the process is quite different.

First, export a CSV from your email provider.

3 vero export csv

Now, head to Click “Tools” then “Audience Manager”.

4 twitter audience manager

Create a new audience list by first naming the audience, then choosing the type of data you’ll upload.

5 twitter audience creator

Next, upload your list.

6 upload to twitter

It will take a few hours for Twitter to process the list. Once it’s ready, you can use Twitter ads to target this group. This is a great way to promote things like offers, new content, and downloads and can even be used for retargeting (more on that in a minute).

Uploading Subscriber Lists to LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to search contacts in your personal email or upload a list of contacts.

From the LinkedIn home page, hover over “Connections”, then click “Add Connections”.

7 linkedin add connections

Next, click “Any Email”.

8 see who you know on linkedin

Then upload your file.

9 upload to linkedin

LinkedIn will process the file, then show you a list of matches. You can connect with them all at once or pick and choose who you want to connect with. Once you are connected, you can invite these people to groups or to follow your company page.

(I’ve blurred names and faces since these are actual Vero blog subscribers.)

10 linkedin connections

Uploading Subscriber Lists to Google+

From any page in Google+, hover over “Home” and select “People”.

11 google+ people

Next, select “Connect services”.

12 connect services

Then, “Open Address Book”.

13 open address book

Upload your file and see who you know!

14 google+ open address book

Uploading Subscriber Lists to Facebook

While you can import contact lists to your personal Facebook, I don’t recommend doing this. It’s common for people to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ for professional networking but that isn’t always true for Facebook.

Instead, you can create a “Custom Audience” and run targeted ads. You can use these ads to get more “Likes” on your Facebook page or use them as part of a retargeting campaign.

To start, navigate to the Ads Manager.

15 facebook ads manager

Then look for the “Audiences” link.

16 facebook audiences

On the right side of the page, click the green button that says “Create Audience”, then “Custom Audience”.

17 create custom audience

Next, choose “Customer List”.

18 customer list facebook

You need to choose how you plan to add these people. Uploading a CSV will work regardless of which email provider you use.

19 upload a file facebook

From here, Facebook will prompt you to create an ad. Facebook Ads are a huge separate topic, so I’m not diving deep on that here. Instead, I recommend checking out Noah Kagan’s post What I learned spending $2 Million on Facebook Ads.

2. Run retargeting ads on Facebook and Twitter for people who click your emails.

This is a super smart trick that hardly anyone takes advantage of. Blindly running ads is an easy way to spend a lot of money. But matching intent and interest with targeted ads is a good way to make a lot of money.

Here’s how retargeting works.

You install a tracking code on your website. This allows your ad platform to cookie visitors, then show them ads on other platforms (like Facebook).

If you create a targeted email campaign for your subscribers, then retarget only the ones that clicked through, you eliminate guesswork. Social networks are perfect platforms to run your ads because 1) it’s affordable and 2) these sites are heavily trafficked.

How to Retarget Email Subscribers on Facebook

Perfect Audience is a great tool for Facebook retargeting. To get started, you’ll need to create an account and install the tracking code on your website.

The first thing you need to do is queue up a smokin’ email. Let’s say you’re offering a free trial to people who downloaded an e-book. Segment your list in your email provider and get the content ready to send.

Now head back to Perfect Audience, hover over “Manage” and select “Retargeting Lists”.

20 perfect audience list

On the right side of the page, click “Create new list”.

21 create new list

Once you name the list and decide how long to run your ad, you need to decide how to track people. I prefer to use a querystring since I use them to track email campaigns anyway. That way, when people end up on a landing page, you’ll know how they got there and Perfect Audience will know to cookie them.

To do this, head to Google’s URL Builder and define a campaign source (“freetrialoffer”), medium (email) and campaign name (retargeting). Append these parameters to the links in your email. (Read more about how to use parameters here.)

22 perfect audience create list

Next, you’ll need to create an ad. Hover over “Manage” and select “Create Ads”.

23 create a facebook ad

There’s an art and science to creating ads that goes beyond the scope of this post. Check out another Noah Kagan post How to Spend Your First $100 on Retargeting Ads to learn all about it.

How to Retarget Email Subscribers on Twitter

Retargeting on Twitter is a little trickier since it’s managed directly through Twitter.

From, create a new campaign.

24 Campaign_overview_-_Twitter_Ads

Again, ad creation is a separate topic so I’m going to skip to the part about retargeting your email subscribers. Scroll down until you see “Add tailored audiences”.

25 twitter retargeting

Here you can create a custom audience by uploading your email list (as we covered earlier) or monitor behavior with a tracking code. The tracking code allows you to do real retargeting since you can specify that ads are only show to people who clicked through in an email.

Learn more about this on the Twitter blog.

3. Let social networks send emails for you.

File this strategy under “indirect email marketing”.

I got this idea from Scott Van, who wrote a detailed post on how he caught Copyblogger sneaking into his inbox.

Here’s Scott describing how it works:

When you subscribe to a LinkedIn group, unless you consciously decide to unsubscribe from email notifications, you will start regularly getting emails from LinkedIn triggered by activity inside the group.

Since LinkedIn is most likely tied to your primary email account, not some junk account set up to catch all those emails you subscribed to but didn’t really want to read, Copyblogger is regularly getting to the top of your inbox and they never once hit the send button on their email list.

The key to making this work is to run a great community. It’s not about self-promotion — rather it’s about helping people in your niche. If you’re able to do that and grow your group’s membership, you’ll end up in the inbox on a daily or weekly basis.

As an added bonus, the emails are really good. The “from” name is the same as the group name. They tease new content and use a nice blue button to call readers to action.

26 linkedin group digest email

You can even send email announcements to your group members via LinkedIn.

27 linkedin group announcements

4. Automate email outreach to drive more social shares.

What’s the secret to getting influential people and blogs to share your content?

Social proof.

I’m hesitant to reveal this strategy because it’s one of our best weapons here at Vero but we believe in transparency, so here we go.

When you publish new content, you have to seed it with shares before you can ask influential people to share it too. If you write something great, then email Guy Kawasaki asking him to share it five minutes later, he will see that it has no shares. The content has not been validated.

That’s where email comes in.

At Vero, we use email to get social sharing rolling. Once a post has a few hundred shares, I start reaching out to bigger sites and more influential people who can see that people love our content. This is the exact method I used on our Email Marketing Best Practices guide, which has now been shared more than 10,000 times.

The fastest and easiest way to do this is to use a tool called SendBloom which helps you automate emails from your personal Gmail account.

First, start a new campaign.

28 sendbloom new campaign

SendBloom will walk you through a few self-explanatory steps, then it’s time to create the email.

SendBloom will ask you how many times you want to email people. You can choose to email them once, or choose to email them once but send a follow-up if they don’t open your message.

29 Sendbloom Campaign Builder

Then you decide when to send a follow-up.

30 Sendbloom Campaign Builder Bumps

And then you can start creating the emails, which you can personalize with first names and a number of other variables. Here’s an example of a template I’ve used successfully in the past.

31 our latest guide

After that, just schedule your emails to be sent and you are done. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, you can use social proof to pitch bigger and bigger influencers.

If you don’t have a SendBloom account, you can also do this process manually. The idea with SendBloom is not to send marketing emails, but rather to speed up the process of sending personal emails.

Alternatively, you can include a call to action to share your content in a newsletter to achieve the desired effect.

5. Collect email addresses on Twitter and Facebook.

Did you know that people can signup for your email newsletter directly on Twitter? It’s really easy to setup and works very well.

32 twitter email addresses

So how can you get started for yourself? First, let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

  • Something valuable to give away: No one is giving away their email address for free. Be prepared to offer a book, guide, webinar, course or something else valuable.
  • A privacy policy: Because there is an exchange of sensitive contact data, you must show Twitter and Twitter users how that data will be handled.
  • A credit card: Even if you don’t plan to run ads, Twitter requires a credit card to use this tool.

Head to Click “Creatives” then “Cards”.

33 twitter cards

Next, click “Create Lead Generation card”.

34 create-card

Twitter will ask you to write a headline, description and call to action. You can also ad an image, which should be 800 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. Use a tool like Pablo or Canva to make the perfect image.

The idea is that people can signup for your newsletter without leaving Twitter, so your button call to action is key. Twitter will store leads that you can download later or you can use a POST URL to pass the data directly to your email provider.

For more details and an instructional video, check out our post How to Collect Emails Addresses on Twitter.

Using the Facebook Call to Action Button

You can do something similar on a Facebook page, although the setup is entirely different.

There are a few ways to go about this. First, you could use a Facebook app to embed a signup form on a tab on your page. This okay but it has to be hacked together. If you want to try it, Aaron Lee will walk you through it here.

I prefer to drive traffic to a page I have more control over. You can use Facebook Call to Action button to send people to a landing page.

Here’s how to set it up.

Head to your Facebook page and click the button that says “Create Call-to-Action”.

35 vero facebook page

You can choose a number of different calls to action depending on your objective. For newsletters signups, choose “Sign Up”, then add a URL to your landing page.

36 vero signup facebook

That’s it! It’s the first thing your Facebook fans will see when they go to your page and you can even measure clicks using Facebook’s analytics.

6. Create an exclusive social group for your email subscribers.

This is a hugely underrated tactic. I learned it from Noah Kagan, who used it to create a 5,000+ member Facebook group. Here’s how he did it.

First, he created an email course called Email1k. He recruited a bunch of smart people to contribute lessons and made the content free to anyone who signed up.

When people sign up for the course, they are asked to email two friends about it. If they do, they get access to the private Facebook group.

37 Email_1K facebook group

The key to making this strategy work is to create an active, engaged group. The Email1k group is moderated to keep the user-generated content informative and useful. No spam and no self-promotion here. Their hard work has paid off. Posts often get 20 comments and sometimes 50 or more.

You could double-down on this strategy by creating an exclusive LinkedIn group to leverage strategy #3. That way, LinkedIn will send email digests to members, bringing your email to social to email strategy full circle.

Over to you

Are there other ways you integrate social media and email marketing? We want to hear about it!

Image sources: Pablo, Death to the Stock Photo, IconFinder

The post 6 Creative Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing appeared first on Social.

For gaining more engagement, clicks, retweets, and replies, Twitter images work.

It’s why we created Pablo—a simple way to create social media images in under 30 seconds—and it’s why we love sharing all the tips we can about creating great visuals for social media.

Our own research has helped us see the value of Twitter images as being eminently click-worthy and shareworthy. There are a whole host of different ways to add these engaging images to your tweets. I’d love to round up a list of 10 favorite ways that we’ve tried with Twitter visuals (plus hear any ideas you’ve got as well!)

shareworthy twitter visuals

The Data Behind Shareworthy Twitter Images

Our early research into Twitter visuals for the @buffer Twitter account, back in November 2013, showed that tweets with photos earned 150 percent more retweets and 18 percent more clicks.

Additional research, from Twitter’s data team even, confirms the power of images.

Here’s a brief overview of what Twitter found to be the most influential factors in being retweeted.

twitter retweet study results

The study looked at a set of thousands of verified users in the United States, analyzing over 2 million tweets. The final verdict from Twitter:

  • Photos average a 35% boost in Retweets
  • Videos get a 28% boost
  • Quotes get a 19% boost in Retweets
  • Including a number receives a 17% bump in Retweets
  • Hashtags receive a 16% boost

In reviewing this data, Clark Wimberly noticed the high numbers for photos and quotes—two areas that can be smushed together into one visual (see more ideas on this below). His takeaway:

The logical conclusion? Any brand that’s tweeting should likely be tweeting images and quotes. Now, that isn’t law, but if it’s in the data, it’s worth experimenting with to see how it fits your own brand (or a brand you manage).

There’s more evidence, too, that Twitter visuals are key for social media marketers.

The Sotrender blog analyzed the 500 most-followed brand profiles on Twitter over a six week period in late 2013. They looked specifically for the effect of links, Vine videos, links, and Facebook and Instagram links.

  • Tweets with a link and photo had 141% more retweets
  • Tweets with a Facebook link or an Instagram link received 19% and 52% fewer retweets, respectively
  • Tweets with a Vine video or link showed no significant effect.

And finally, Dan Zarella analyzed more than 400,000 random tweets to see the effect of Twitter visuals on retweets. His findings:

  • Tweets with – 94% more likely to be RTed
  • Tweets with Facebook or Instagram links – 47% and 42% less likely to be RTs, respectively

From Dan:

Tweets with images uploaded to were nearly twice as likely to be retweeted while the use of Twitpic increased the odds by just over 60%. On the other hand Tweets that used Facebook or Instagram links were less likely to be retweeted.


How to Create and Share an Image on Twitter

We did a bit of research into the ideal image sizes for Twitter images to find the best sizes for sharing in the Twitter stream.

On desktops, Twitter images appear in the timeline at 506 pixels wide by 253 pixels tall.

This size works out to an aspect ratio of 2:1, meaning that for every two pixels wide, your image is one pixel as tall. If you create images at 800 x 400 or 1,000 x 500—any size within the 2:1 ratio—the image will appear fully in tact in the Twitter stream.

(Note: Uploading an image that is smaller than 506 pixels x 253 pixels will result in whitespace to the right of the image.)

The default Twitter image size we use at Buffer is 1,024 pixels wide by 512 pixels tall.

If the dimensions fall outside the 2:1 aspect ratio, Twitter crops the image to fit, and the full size can be viewed only by clicking the image.

Twitter crops these images from the top and bottom, leaving the middle of the image as-is.

twitter crop

10 Types of Shareworthy Twitter Visuals and How to Create Them

1. Watermark your images with Pablo

Vox media—home of some of the leading blogs on the web like Vox, the Verge, SB Nation, etc.—built an internal tool to help its social media team easily create Twitter visuals.

One of the keys to this tool was branding in the form of a watermark logo on each image.

vox media example

There’s a really neat way to do this with Pablo, the free social media image tool we’ve launched here at Buffer.

  1. Create your engaging image of a quote, headline, question, etc. Add a cool background photo.
  2. Click on the “Add an icon” button. Upload your logo—a GIF or PNG with a transparent background works best, and you can even set some transparency on the logo itself by editing with a tool like PicMonkey.



2. Share an Instagram photo or Facebook photo

As mentioned above, Twitter visuals from Instagram or Facebook links may lead to less engagement than tweets with no images at all.

This is a tricky one because Instagram and Facebook visuals do not show up natively in Twitter. A user would need to click the Instagram/Facebook link in the tweet to see the image over at Instagram or Facebook, a fact that likely affects the ease of retweeting, favoriting, etc.

Is there any way around this? Can you manage to get full Instagram pics into your Twitter stream?

There seem to be some ways to post Instagram pics directly, using an IFTTT recipe.

This one, for instance, pulls in any images from Instagram that you tag with “#tw”, sharing the image caption as the tweet text and the image URL as the tweeted image.

instagram-twitter ifttt recipe

3.Create a visual from a template in Canva

Some of the most beautiful images I’ve seen on Twitter are rich templates with cool text, textures, filters, backgrounds, etc. And the good news, it’s quite easy to create these images in Canva—whether you’re a design pro or not.

When you start up Canva, choose the Twitter image design from the list at the top.

You’ll then see a full list of different pre-built template options that you can customize.

canva templates

4. Create a collage

You can add up to four photos within a single tweet. Ad Age had a great way of explaining the benefit of collages for marketers:

Photo collages have the potential to let them do more storytelling with the space they have and go well beyond the former 140-character boundary. … Share more photos — which appear in a collage format underneath the text of a tweet — and effectively pack their tweets with more content.

Here’s a really cool example from General Electric of a way they combined the photo collage with additional text.

general electric photo collage twitter

To create a collage in Twitter,

  1. Compose a new tweet.
  2. Click to Add Photo, and choose a photo to add.
  3. Then click the Add More button and continue adding photos, up to four total.

Note: Multiple images in tweets is something we’d be keen to explore further for the Buffer app. If you’ve got any ideas, we’d love to hear from you in our UserVoice forum!

5. Tag other people in the photos you create

When sharing natively from Twitter, you can tag other users in your photos, which then gives them a notification on their account.

The tagging is similar to how Facebook tagging works. And marketers have found some useful ways to tag relevant people and brands in posts and photos that reference them. It could be a strategic way to get the attention of the people you’re talking about and hoping to engage with.

(It’s likely best to only tag those who are relevant to your tweet, otherwise it can feel a bit off-putting and spammy.)

To tag someone in a Twitter photo,

  1. Add a photo to a tweet.
  2. Click on the Who’s In This Photo? link to the right of the attached photo.
  3. Start typing a username or full name into the search box, and select the user you wish to tag. You can tag up to 10 people.

The people you tag will receive a notification, alongside their @-mentions and favorites.

5. Vines

Vines are the super-short, 6-second videos that users create and share on Twitter. The videos loop, creating a GIF-like impression, albeit with audio.

Since Vine is a creation of Twitter’s, the Vine videos appear natively in the Twitter timeline. You don’t have to click anything to see the Vine right away.

Though the statistics mentioned above seem to point to Vines not having much of an effect on overall engagement, they could still be worth experimenting. Brands have done some cool things with Vines already, and they’re a novel visual medium that could help get your message across in a new way.

You can create and share a Vine using the Vine app for iOS, Android, and Windows devices.

6. Buffer this image

With the Buffer browser extension installed, you can share any image from any website directly to your Twitter feed. This comes in quite handy when sharing a link to an article: You can write out the title, the link to the article, and add an engaging image straight from the story itself.

To Buffer an image from any web page, right-click the image you wish to share and select Buffer This Image from the drop-down menu.

buffer this image

One of the ways we’ve found to be most useful with sharing Twitter visuals in this way is to look for images that are self-explanatory. In our experience, clear and descriptive images have a higher impact on engagement than abstract images do.

For example:

explanatory vs abstract

(And that being said, the research as a whole makes little distinction between which type of image works best. It seems that any Twitter visual will have a positive effect, whether detailed, abstract, or otherwise.)

7. Pablo and quotes

As noticed in the Twitter research above, photos and quotes are two of the biggest factors in getting more retweets. So why not smush them together?

There are lots of great tools out there to help make engaging image quotes—Canva and Spruce come to mind immediately. We’ve noticed people getting lots of great use out of Pablo for creating image quotes as well.

To create a Pablo quote,

  1. Go to
  2. Enter your quote and source into the text box.
  3. Choose an image from the options below (courtesy of UnSplash), or upload your own.
  4. Add any photo effects or text styles to further customize the image.
  5. Click to share straight to Facebook, Twitter, or Buffer. Or click to download to your computer.

pablo screen capture

If you’re looking for some inspiration on where to find great quotes, here are a few of our favorite places:

8. Screengrabs

I’m so grateful for picking up this tip from our co-founder Leo and startup founder Hiten Shah. It’s so simple and works great.

Take a screengrab of text on an article—perhaps a bullet point list or a quote or a heading—and add the screengrab to your tweet.

patrik tweet

The visual is eye-catching in the Twitter stream because the text stands out from the standard tweet text. And it’s a great way to add even more space to tell more of a story—a cool hack to get beyond the 140-character limit of a tweet and to share bigger thoughts, ideas, quotes, and questions.

I tried this recently with a question from one of our blog posts, and I saw great engagement—15 replies, which is way up from average for me.

9. Animated GIF

GIFs in Twitter can be a cool way to add some variety to your Twitter images. The GIFs do not play automatically; rather, they appear as standard, inline images with a play button over the image. Click the play button, and the GIF begins to play and loop.

Here’s a pro tip for getting around this. You can pin a tweet to the top of your profile page, and the animated GIF will play automatically.

kevan homepage twitter

(See this live.)

One way we’ve found animated GIF visuals to be of great use is in tweet replies, either from a marketing perspective (making people feel good for engaging with you) or from a customer support view (making customers feel great for getting in touch).

The browser extension is a fun way to add animated GIFs easily to tweets.

10. Soundcloud, Vimeo, YouTube, SlideShare, and more

Twitter has partnered with a huge variety of different media sites to provide native support (and some pretty cool visual effects) when you share links from these sites.

Here’s a list of some of the major ones that look great on profile pages. (This media appears as links in the main Twitter timeline.)

  • Soundcloud
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare

(Here’s a SlideShare example.)

slideshare twitter

Twitter cards are another branch of rich media that you can use as Twitter visuals. Courtney did a great job of covering all the 9 different options for Twitter cards in her complete guide blog post. If you’re interested in setting up Twitter cards, I’d highly recommend reading her simple-to-use instructions and overview.


I hope this helps with some new ideas for how to share Twitter visuals. There’s quite a lot of neat ways to try things. Some of our best ones for the Buffer account include:

  • Buffer This Image
  • Screengrabs of blog post content
  • Pablo images and quotes

Which ones work best for you?

I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave a note in the comments, and I’ll be so happy to reply!

Image sources: Pablo, IconFinder, Dan Zarella, Twitter, UnSplash

The post How to Create Shareworthy Twitter Images: 10 Ways to Maximize Engagement on Your Tweets appeared first on Social.

Of all the hundreds of social media acronyms and abbreviations out there, I think “KPI” has confounded me the most.

I think it’s because the phrase “key performance indicator” always sounds like something you need to be wearing a suit in front of a Powerpoint presentation in order to say.

But when you get down to it, it’s really quite simple. KPI is just a way of saying “This is the stuff that’s important enough to me to focus on and measure.”

Basically, social media KPIs, or social media metrics, are whatever is most important for your business. These are the goals and benchmarks that help you determine how well your campaigns and strategies are performing.

Social media KPIs could be the amount of engagement or shares you’re receiving on your social media networks. You could also track clicks back to your website via social media, or conversions once visitors get there.

In fact, there are so many different KPIs that it can be tough to keep them straight sometimes. In this post, we’ll look at a variety of social media metrics you might choose to focus on, with a brief explanation of each and how to measure it.

social media metrics defined

First, a quick view of the social media funnel

Funnels probably deserve a post of their own, but for our purposes here it might help to keep an image in our eye of what a typical customer journey with a brand or product looks like (or one version of it, anyway).


There are measurement opportunities at every stage of this journey. These are the big sections we’ll focus on in this post (click on any section to go to those metrics directly):

Activity metrics: The output of your social team

activity metrics

These are the numbers that show what you’re doing, the basic output of your social media team — including posting, scheduling and optimizing content, answering questions and solving problems. These can appear quite simple but become important to measure as you experiment and try new things. It’s great to be able to say whether increases in your activities produces increase in some of the other metrics we’ll be mentioning later on.

Average response time: The average time it takes a team member or brand representative to respond to comments and inquiries from the brand’s social media audience.

Content rate: The number of pieces of content you produce per period. Depending on which types of content you focus on, you might want to content post rate apart, focusing on:

  • Blog posts per period
  • Presentations per period
  • Videos per period
  • E-books per period
  • White papers per period
  • Infographics per period
  • Other types of content creation per period

Post rate: Number of social media posts per period. Depending on which networks you’re active on, you might want to break post rate apart, focusing on:

  • Tweets per period
  • Facebook posts per period
  • LinkedIn updates per period
  • Google+ updates per period
  • Pins per period
  • Instagram posts per period
  • Forum posts per period
  • and any other social media networks you frequent

Post topic mix: The percentage of posts to each social media network per period broken down by content topic (e.g. resources, special offers, blog posts, etc.)

Post type mix: The percentage of posts to each social media network per period broken down by type (e.g., image, link, video, text, poll, etc.).

Response rate: The percentage of questions, comments or problems from people talking about your brand that you respond to within a certain amount of time.

Social media marketing budget: The amount of money your team is spending per period

Reach metrics: Your audience and potential audience

reach metrics

These are the metrics that focus on your audience and potential audience’s size and growth rate—as well as how often and how well your messages are tapping into that audience. Many social media management tools (like Buffer!) provide a number of these kinds of metrics.

Audience growth rate: The rate at which a brand adds (or loses) audience members per channel, found by dividing new audience members by total audience members

Average position: The average position where a brand’s ad appeared on a search engine results page (with the top position on the page being 1)

Brand awareness: The overall number of mentions of your brand online per period

CPM: Cost per thousand ad impressions in paid advertising

Fans/followers: The total number of people in your various networks per period

Influence score: Influence scores, offered by providers like Klout and Kred, measure how influential a person or brand is on a particular social channel

Keyword frequency: The number of times that a particular keyword or phrase is found within a brand’s social graph

Post reach: The estimated number of people who see a specific piece of your content at least once during a time period

Potential impressions: The number of times a piece of content could be displayed, regardless of whether it is interacted with, during a time period

Potential reach: The potential number of people in a brand’s audience, compounded by friends of audience members or others in a community who could have the opportunity to see a piece content, during a period of time

Share of audience: The rough percentage of people a brand will reach as compared to its competitors

Share of engagement: How a brand’s engagement metrics compare to others in similar fields

Share of voice: How big a brand’s portion of the conversation is compared to others in their space

Sentiment: Percentage of overall brand mentions that are positive, neutral and/or negative in sentiment

Video views: Number of views your video content gets on channels like YouTube, Vimeo or Facebook

Engagement metrics: Interactions and interest in your brand

engagement metrics

These figures focus on how people are interacting with, sharing and re-sharing your content on social networks.

Amplification rate: The number of shares on average for each post. Depending on which networks you’re active on, you might want to amplification rate apart, focusing on:

  • Twitter retweets
  • Facebook shares
  • Google+ shares
  • LinkedIn shares
  • Pinterest repins
  • Instagram regrams

Applause rate: The number of approval actions, or virtual “applause,” you get from your audience per period, including +1s, likes, thumbs-ups, favorites, etc.

Average engagement rate: The percentage of your total audience that has engaged with your content in any way on a social channel per reporting period.

Comment rate: The average number of comments your content gets per post

Conversation rate: The number of conversations going on per social media post. On Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, this will be comments. On Twitter, it’s replies

Engagement as a percentage of audience: Total engagement actions across all social networks divided by total audience

Engagement per fan/follower: Total engagement actions for one network divided by the number of fans (or followers) for that network

Virality: The rate at which a piece of content spreads across the social web. A good way to measure this one is total shares per piece of content

Acquisition metrics: Building a relationship

acquisition metrics

At this stage, those who were once simply chatting with your brand on Twitter or Facebook may begin to dive deeper, poking around your site to see what you have to offer. Acquisition metrics focus on their experience there—whether your audience matches up with your offering and what value you provide. An analytics provider like Google Analytics can offer many of these metrics.

Blog subscribers: Number of subscribers to your blog

Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who only went to a single page of your site, bouncing back to the place they came from rather than clicking further into the site

Click-throughs: The number of clicks on a link within a post on a given social network

Click-through rate: The rate at which your audience clicks on a link within a post on a given social network, found by dividing the number of clicks on a post by the number of impressions for the post

CPC: Cost-per-click (for paid search or social advertising)

Email subscriptions: Number of subscribers to your email list

Leads: The number of potential sales contacts earned through social media per time period

Links: Number of pages linking to a specific page of content on your site

Micro-conversions: Any measureable activity that a brand’s users frequently engage in before a conversion

Pageviews: Number of pages viewed or clicked on a site during the given time

Percentage of social visits: The percentage of traffic to your site that is referred by a social media source

Rank per keyword: Average position your content earns in a search engine for a specific key word or phrase

Sessions (formerly unique visitors): A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame (A single session can contain multiple screen or page views, events, or social interactions)

Session duration (formerly time on site): Total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions

Traffic: Number of visits and visitors social media drives to your sites per period

Traffic ratio: Percentage of traffic from each of three main segments, including:

  • Direct visitors – Those who visit your site by directly typing your url in their browser address bar,
  • Search visitors – Those who visit your site based on a search query
  • Referral visitors –Those who find your site through another blog or site.

Conversion metrics: Actions, sales and results

conversion metrics

The ultimate goal you hope a visitor will achieve with your brand is the focus of conversion metrics. Your conversion might be a sale, a subscription, a download, a signup or many other things. Again, a tool like Google Analytics might be handy here.

Average purchase value/average order value: The average value of each purchase made by your customers

Average revenue per customer: How much the average customer spends with a brand, found by dividing yearly revenue by yearly customer count

Conversions:  Number of conversions per time period (Conversions can be defined as the ultimate action you’d like users to take on your site. Examples might be: email subscriptions, downloads, registrations, installations widget or tool, etc)

Conversion rate: The percentage of users who take a desired conversion action, found by dividing number of conversions by total traffic per period

CPA (cost per acquisition or cost per action): Dollar amount of how much a brand pays in order to attain a lead

Cost per conversion: Dollar amount of how much a brand pays in order to attain a conversion

New visitor conversions: Number of conversions that occurred per time period by visitors new to a brand’s website

Return visitor conversions: Number of conversions that occurred per time period by visitors returning to a brand’s website

RPC (revenue per click): the average amount of revenue generated per click in paid advertising

Social media conversion rate: The percentage of total conversions that can be attributed to social media, found by dividing social media conversions by total conversions

ROI or return on investment: Revenue generated by social media efforts divided by all known social media expenses

Retention metrics: Happy customers and brand evangelists

retention metrics

These KPIs—many of which go beyond the traditional social media metrics and into general business metrics—cover the last and perhaps most crucial state of the customer journey. This is where we make and create happier customers who can go on to be a brand’s most important sales force—in other words, we turn the funnel upside down.

upside down funnel

Brand evangelists: Number of customers your brand would consider evangelists based on their social media advocacy

Customer annual or lifetime value: A prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer

Customer retention rate: The percentage of the total number of customers retained in context to the customers that have cancelled.

Customer reviews/ratings: Number of positive or negative customer reviews or ratings received per period

Customer satisfaction: A measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation

Customer satisfaction rate: A score expressed as a per­cent­age between 0 and 100, with 100% rep­re­sent­ing com­plete cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. This metric is most often deter­mined by a sin­gle ques­tion in follow-up sur­veys along the lines of, How would you rate your over­all sat­is­fac­tion with the ser­vice you received?

Customer turnover rate/churn: A measure of the number of customers who leave over a specific period of time

Customer testimonials: Number of positive customer testimonials gathered per period

K-factor: The growth rate of websites, apps, or a customer base

Net Promoter Score: To calculate this one, customers answer the question, How likely is it that you would recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?  using a scale of 0-to-10 points.

Support cost per ticket: The total monthly operating expense of a support team divided by the monthly ticket volume

Don’t forget…

As you might have noticed from a quick scroll-through of this post, there are dozens of metrics you could analyze. But only you will know which ones that tell you whether your strategies are working.

Don’t forget that you’re the expert. Make sure your metrics are working for you, not the other way around.

More great reading on social media metrics

From Buffer:

The Moz Blog: Tracking the KPIs of Social Media

Share your metrics!

Which social media metrics did I miss? And which ones are the most important to you and your brand? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

The post 61 Key Social Media Metrics, Defined appeared first on Social.

Note: This post will be updated on an ongoing basis with all the latest information for ideal image sizes in social media posts. Feel free to check back in for the best, most current recommendations!

You’ve got all the great tools to create engaging images for social media. You know what the brain loves about visuals and how to build something beautiful to drive engagement. You’re all set to make something great!

One last thing: How exactly should your image look so it fits in the News Feed, timeline, or stream?

There’s so much to consider in creating great images for social media—for me, the size and shape tend to get locked in before I even realize what’s happened. Yet the size and shape—the height, width, and orientation—are the elements that most influence how an image will appear in a social media stream.

Fortunately, there’re some answers out there on how to create ideal images that show up consistently great in your audience’s timelines. We’ve collected all the answers here, along with our favorite two templates to fit any network. 

ideal image sizes

Ideal image sizes for social media

Image sizes are a huge topic to cover.

There’re ideal image sizes for cover photos and profile pictures, Facebook ads and Twitter cards. Several in-depth blog posts have tackled an overview for what’s best in all these many different spots. Here are two of my favorites:

Most of the major social media channels like Facebook and Twitter now give you added control over how your profile picture and cover photo look. You get some really neat tools to resize and scale these pictures until they’re pixel perfect.

Here’s the process for a Facebook cover photo, for example.

facebook cover photo size

For ideal sizes on cover photos and profile pictures, I’d highly recommend the sites mentioned above. They’ve got it all covered.

I’d love for this post to focus specifically on the social media images you share with your updates, either as image attachments or as links.

The best sizes for sharing images on social media

We’ve long been interested in the impact of social media images for engagement, retweets, clicks, and more. We found that tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than those without.

One of the big questions for me is how you get an engaging image to look its best when it’s in a stream, timeline, or News Feed?

What’s the best—and maybe even the easiest—way to go about it?

In general, here are the best sizes for sharing images on social media. (Click on any link here to jump to the details for a specific network.)

Facebook – 1,200 x 628

Twitter – 1,024 x 512

LinkedIn – 800 x 800

Google+ – 800 x 1,200

Pinterest – 735 x 1,102

Instagram – 1,200 x 1,200


Our two favorite image size templates that cover most networks

In experimenting with the fastest, easiest way to create images we know will work well in social media feeds, we came across a couple of image sizes that became our go-tos: one size for horizontal (landscape) images and one for vertical (portrait) images.

  • Horizontal (landscape) – 1,024 x 512
  • Vertical (portrait) – 800 x 1,200

Note: If you’d like to grab either of these as a Canva template, we’d love to make this easy for you. Click here for the horizontal template; click here for the vertical template.

One of the simplest ways we’ve found for creating the 1,024 x 512 pixel images is to use Pablo. You can create an image in under 30 seconds and share directly to Twitter, Facebook, and Buffer. 

pablo button

We use the horizontal size for sharing to Facebook and Twitter.

We use the vertical size for sharing to Google+ and Pinterest.

The horizontal size, as you’ll read below, fits perfect for Twitter’s 2:1 aspect ratio. The fit isn’t quite spot on for Facebook, yet we’ve found that it’s close enough where no important bits get cropped when Facebook resizes things.

If you prefer to have a square image size to go along with the portrait and landscape orientations, Constant Contact has some good recommendations for what they’ve used successfully.

  • Square – 1200 x 1200 (share to Facebook and LinkedIn)
  • Landscape – 1200 x 627 (share to Facebook and Twitter)
  • Portrait – 736 x 1128 (share to Pinterest and Google+)

Ideal image sizes for Facebook posts

The orientation of your image—whether it’s horizontal (landscape), vertical (portrait), or square—will determine which dimensions Facebook uses to show your image.

If you upload a square image to share, it will be 470 pixels square, the maximum allowable size in a Facebook feed. This’ll be the case no matter what size square you upload, be it an 800 x 800 image or a 400 x 400 image (the smaller images might appear a bit blurry when they are sized up to 470 pixels square).

facebook square

If you upload a horizontal (landscape) image, it will be scaled to 470 pixels wide and the height will be adjusted accordingly.

facebook post wide

Landscape images smaller than 470 pixels wide could appear at less than the 470-pixel width, aligned left with whitespace to the right of the image.

If you upload a vertical (portrait) image, it will be scaled to a height of 394 pixels, aligned to the left, with white space to the side. The adjusted width will be relative to the 394 pixels. For instance, if you upload a 500 x 700 image, Facebook will resize it to 281 x 394 pixels.

portrait facebook dimensions

If you plan on sharing multiple images in the same Facebook post, there’re some great insights at Have Camera Will Travel that cover all the various options that ensue here.

Sharing links to Facebook (and the images that come with them)

If you share a link to Facebook, the image associated with the link can be displayed in a number of ways. Again, all depends on the image size (pixel width and height) and shape (orientation).

Images previews for shared links are scaled to fill a box of 470 pixels wide by 246 pixels tall.

facebook featured image size

When choosing an image to go along with a link, Facebook looks at the Open Graph tags for a page, specifically the og:image tag, which specifies the image that Facebook should use when sharing in the News Feed.

You can add the og:image tag manually into the <head> section on every page of your website, or you can try out a plugin like Yoast SEO for WordPress, which handles the code and implementation for you. (We’re big fans of the Yoast plugin for the Buffer blog.)

If you are creating an image to be used in the og:image tag for your link, keep in mind that anything outside of 470 x 246 pixels will be cropped from the top and bottom in order to fit.

facebook crop top bottom

Additionally, if the link you share does not have the proper og:image tags installed or the image in the tag is not large enough, Facebook will not display it full-width. A thumbnail image will be placed in a small box to the left of the link text.

For most all image orientations—square, horizontal (landscape), and vertical (portrait)— the thumbnail will be scaled and cropped to fit a 158 x 158-pixel square.

facebook thumbnail size

In certain cases, very tall images (like infographics, for instance) will have 158-pixel width and 237-pixel height.

facebook tall thumbnail

What we’ve found to be the best solution for creating and sharing images to Facebook is to build an image that is 1024 x 512. While this doesn’t quite fit the dimensions above perfectly, it is large enough to look great on retina displays (where the pixel density is greater) and large enough so as to fit with the full-width areas in the News Feed.

(And as you’ll see below, this image size is ideal for Twitter as well.)

Ideal image sizes for tweets

On desktops, Twitter images appear in the timeline at 506 pixels wide by 253 pixels tall.

This size works out to an aspect ratio of 2:1, meaning that for every two pixels wide, your image is one pixel as tall. If you create images at 800 x 400 or 1,000 x 500—any size within the 2:1 ratio—the image will appear fully in tact in the Twitter stream.

Here’s an example of an image that is 1,024 pixels wide by 512 pixels tall (a 2:1 ratio), scaled to fit the 506 x 253 frame.

twitter landscape

(Note: Uploading an image that is smaller than 506 pixels x 253 pixels will result in whitespace to the right of the image.)

If the dimensions fall outside the 2:1 aspect ratio, Twitter crops the image to fit, and the full size can be viewed only by clicking the image.

Twitter crops these images from the top and bottom, leaving the middle of the image as-is.

twitter expand images

Image sizes for Twitter cards

Images are also present in each of the nine different Twitter Cards. If you’re interested in trying out something like a lead generation card or a product card, AgoraPulse does a great job of breaking down the images sizes for each type of card. I’d like to get a bit deeper into a couple of specific ones that seem key for content sharing.

  • Summary card
  • Summary card with large image

Summary cards show a headline, description, link, and photo when you share a url from a site that contains the appropriate Twitter Cards code. All this information is pulled via HTML tags, often the same ones that are being used by Facebook to display links.

(The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin mentioned above also includes support for Twitter Cards.)

Each type of summary card contains a thumbnail or featured image.

For summary cards:

The image must be a minimum size of 120px by 120px and must be less than 1MB in file size.

For an expanded tweet and its detail page, the image will be cropped to a 4:3 aspect ratio and resized to be displayed at 120px by 90px.

The image will also be cropped and resized to 120px by 120px for use in embedded tweets.

twitter cards small thumb

For summary cards with large images:

Images for this Card should be at least 280px in width, and at least 150px in height. Image must be less than 1MB in size.

All images for the large-image cards will be scaled to fit a width of 480 pixels. So landscape and portrait images will be resized to 480 wide and however many pixels tall (there doesn’t seem to be a maximum or a minimum here). Square images will be resized to 480 x 480 square.

Any image smaller than 480 pixels will appear aligned to the left with whitespace filling the empty space to the right.

twitter card large summary

One thing that’s interesting to note here is where the images get cropped. For the basic summary cards, photos will be cropped in the following ways:

  • Square and portrait images will be cropped from the bottom up and not from the sides.
  • Landscape images will be cropped from the outside in, and not from the top or bottom.

For the summary cards with large images, there don’t appear to be any noticeable crops.

If you’re curious how your images might look with Twitter Cards, you can enter your link into Twitter’s free card validator to get a quick preview.

Ideal image sizes for LinkedIn posts

When you share links and articles to LinkedIn, the thumbnail photos appear at a maximum of 180 pixels wide by 110 pixels tall.

linkedin thumbnail

If you upload an image directly, the image will appear at a maximum width of 350 pixels. The height of the image—whether square, landscape, or portrait—will be scaled to fit the new width. For example, a 700 x 500 image will be scaled to 350 x 250.

linkedin large upload

One outlier among these standard sizes is for LinkedIn’s Showcase Pages, a feature that allows companies to create pages based on offshoots of their brand (for instance, Adobe created pages for Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud, etc.)

On these pages, thumbnail and featured images for links appear either at the standard size of 180 x 110 or at a larger size of 442 x 248.

linkedin company showcase page

LinkedIn uses the same Open Graph tags as Facebook and other social networks. If you’ve got your site well-optimized for Facebook links, then you should be good to go for LinkedIn as well.

(There’re a few neat ideas from SmashingBoxes as far as LinkedIn thumbnail workarounds if Open Graph tags don’t seem to be a possibility for you.)

One additional way to share content on LinkedIn is by publishing articles that appear on people’s home pages via LinkedIn Pulse. LinkedIn built a substantial publishing platform for this content, which includes the ability to add featured images to the articles.

In the home page feed, the featured image on a Pulse update is 180 pixels wide by 110 pixels tall—same as it is for all link thumbnails. If the story is placed in the recommended reading list below a featured Pulse story, the thumbnail will be 70 x 37.

linkedin pulse homefeed

Inside the Pulse page, a list of articles runs along the left-hand column. The image thumbnails here are 70 x 70 square images.

The featured image at the top of the article is 698 pixels wide by 400 pixels tall.

(Cropping for these images occurs from the outside in, so the very middle of the picture will be what’s displayed in the smaller thumbnails.)

linkedin pulse publishing

Ideal image sizes for Google+ posts

When you share links and articles to Google+, the featured photos appear at a maximum width of 426 pixels. The height scales accordingly.

mcdonalds g+ portrait g+

Similarly to the other social channels mentioned here, Google+ pulls in images from URLs using Open Graph tags. If the image used in the Open Graph is not at least 426 pixels wide or if Open Graph tags do not exist for a url, Google+ may instead place a thumbnail image to the left of the update. This thumbnail is 150 x 150 square.

If you upload an image directly to Google+, the image will appear at a maximum width of 426 pixels also (same as above). The height of the image will scale to fit according to the new width.

Clicking through to the update URL, the image will be 506 pixels wide, maximum, with a height that scales accordingly.

url page g+

If the image is smaller than the 346-pixel width, Google+ places the image centered on the update with white space to each side.

One other way that Google+ may display photos is as a full-width image that spans across both columns of the Google+ stream. These images are 886 pixels wide. The height scales accordingly.

gopro full width g+

Ideal image sizes for Pinterest Pins

There are a couple of different places where a Pinned image can appear on Pinterest.

In the feed, Pinterest images have a width of 235 pixels. The height scales accordingly.

pinterest size

If you click to expand a Pinned image, the image will have a width of 660 pixels. The height, again, scales accordingly.

pinterest big

Beyond these two places, the other spots that you might find a pin include the cover for Pinterest boards and in side ads for recommended and related Pins.

According to Pinterestthe best aspect ratio for Pinterest images is between 2:3 and 1:3.5, with a minimum width of 600 pixels. 

So this might raise the question (one that I’ve asked a lot before): What is aspect ratio?

It’s how the width and the height of an image relate to one another.

For instance:

A 2:3 aspect ratio could be

  • 600 pixels wide by 900 pixels tall
  • 800 pixels wide by 1,200 pixels tall

A 1:3.5 aspect ratio could be

  • 600 pixels wide by 2,100 pixels tall
  • 400 pixels wide by 2,800 pixels tall

Pins with an aspect ratio greater than 1:3.5 will be truncated in the feed, cropped from the bottom up with a small “Expand Pin” link covering the bottom. If a user clicks to expand, the cropped portion of the image appears.


Ideal image sizes for Instagram photos

Instagram makes things pretty easy. Every image on Instagram is a square.

The Instagram photos in a feed appear 510 pixels wide by 510 pixels tall.

instagram feed

The thumbnail photos that appear on one’s profile page are 161 x 161.

instagram thumbnails

The images in the header are either 204 x 204 (for the smaller featured images) or 409 x 409 (for the larger featured image).

instagram featured


I hope these image size overviews might be useful for you. We continue to learn lots about what’s best for all the different social networks, and I’ll be happy to continue updating this post with all our latest findings.

(I’m also eager to experiment with mobile sizes as well!)

Is there anything we can add to this resource to make it more useful for you? What has your experience been with sharing different image sizes to social media?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Image sources: IconFinder, Pablo, Startup Stock Photos, Blurgrounds

The post The Mega Guide to Ideal Image Sizes for Your Social Media Posts: Guidelines for All 6 Major Social Networks appeared first on Social.

We’d all love to show up first in Google for something.

There’s likely at least one golden search term or keyword you’re striving for —and we’ve all heard plenty of different get-to-the-front-page-of-Google formulas.

It can get a little dizzying keeping all the approaches straight.

But it can be done. If you’re willing to invest some time, resources and brainpower, you can create the top content on any topic.

creating top content

To share exactly how, I made an infographic mapping out not one, but six foolproof, can’t-miss strategies that real-life people (including me!) have used to top the charts for specific keywords.

These methods draw on advice and examples from Neil Patel, Brian Dean, the folks right here at Buffer, Noah Kagan, and a few others.

Check out the flowchart for a high-level overview of how to create the top content on any topic, then read on as I get down into specific how-tos for each method.

6 strategies to rank for any search term


Flowchart magic by Laura Kranz (my wife and partner at GradLime).

A quick look at each option

I’ll overview each of these approaches, then drill down into how to choose the right one.

  1. Do the research and write the first article of its kind

Occasionally you’ll stumble across a search term idea and find that nobody’s tried to rank for it. There are no really satisfactory results in sight. When that happens, you have the rare opportunity to write the first piece of content on the matter.

  1. Write something far better than the #1 result

This is probably what you’ll end up doing most of the time. Someone will have an adequate piece out there that gets ranked first—but it could be more thorough, more current, more visually appealing, etc. That’s where you come in! Pull out the stops and write the end-all, authoritative, ultimate post on that topic.

  1. Write an authoritative article from an alternative perspective

Sometimes the #1 result is really, really well done—but you and the people in your niche have a different perspective or conclusion on the matter. In those cases, you write the article your audience needs to read.

Think of it this way: if #2 is all-around better, #3 is narrower.

  1. Write the ultimate list of awesome articles

When it’s clear that most of the space on the first results page is occupied by awesome content (some of which may be yours!), it’s time to go broader. Make the ultimate list of ultimate articles, giving people a detailed look at what’s out there.

You’re doing the work of pulling all the awesome content together, trimming the overlap, and saving the people searching for the term the time it takes to research all the awesome articles out there.

  1. Try a new format

Don’t rewrite already-amazing articles. Instead, find ways to add value by presenting them in new formats. Put the high-ranking awesome content into an infographic, make a video walkthrough, or host a webinar—add value by putting that awesome content into a different format.

  1. Outsource it

If you know you want to rank for a keyword and you don’t have time to create an original article, find a top-notch copywriter and/or designer to create it for you.

A step-by step guide to creating top-ranking content

We can pull this information off a lot better if we understand the rationale behind these steps. So let’s work through this infographic step-by-step.

Step 1: Determine the search term you want to focus on

Take a minute to think about a particular keyword that sums up what you’re all about or has proven to be how people might be searching for you or your brand online.

For example, for Buffer this might be a term like “social media scheduling,” “social media management tools,” or even “schedule my tweets.”  Keep this keyword or phrase in mind as we walk through this together.

It helps to make sure people are actually searching for that word. To find out, jump into Google Adwords’ Keyword Planner (or one of these alternatives) to see just how often people are Googling that term.

Here’s an example: In my spare time I run a Bible literacy blog. Before I wrote my piece, “The 5 shortest books of the Bible, in order,” I looked up the search volume for keywords relevant to that topic. Here’s what Google says:


(Granted, the graph covered an earlier time span back when I wrote that article.)

One note on niche industries: If you’re trying to gain traffic in a really small market, or if you’re trying to create a new market, this isn’t going to be as helpful. There won’t be a lot of search data surrounding something that doesn’t exist yet, or something that only 100 people in the world will ever be interested in.

Not sure which search term to target?

There’s always the FAQ trick. Think of a question your customers ask you often. It might be as simple as, “How much does your product cost?” (This was a real money-making question for Marcus Sheridan).

Have your target search term in mind? Great! Let’s go to step 2.

Step 2: Google that search term (in an incognito window!)

The next step is to see just what content Google serves up when someone searches for that term. But don’t just open a new tab and Google this term.

Instead, Google that term while you’re in incognito or private browsing mode. In Chrome, just hit Ctrl+ Shift+N for Windows or ⌘+⇧ Shift+N for Mac. (Not in Chrome? Use one of these methods.)

Why the extra step? Because incognito mode strips out some of the skewed results you might see when you’re logged in, based on your Google account. You want a more objective view, right?

Step 3: Evaluate the search results

This one’s not so straightforward, but it’s the most important step in this process. If you’re going to have a page 1 result, you need to know what you’re up against. Once we get a good view of the frontier, we’ll know where to stake our claim, so to speak.

The first thing to do is open up all the organic results on the first page. Don’t worry about the ads (that’s another post).


Now we evaluate each one.

This is where things get a little subjective. There are plenty of metrics you can use to evaluate a page’s quality: grade level, word count, images, social shares, etc. (I wrote another post entirely on this topic, and even made a template you can use to evaluate pages the way I do.)

But really this all comes down to one question: Are any of them satisfactory?

Or, is there at least one article that would completely satisfy someone searching for that term?

Sometimes the answer is a clear “No.” But you’re more likely to find at least one result that would satisfy the person Googling the search term in question. Once you’ve looked them all over, you’re ready to choose one of these 6 specific strategies.

Step 4: Pick a strategy

1. Do the research and write the first article of its kind

When there’s nothing satisfactory on page 1, you have a rare opportunity.

You can be the first person to write the article that answers the question the searcher has in mind. There’s no real competition: the only question is, “Who will write it?”

If you’re already an expert (or THE expert) on the subject, then the answer is, “You!”

But I find that often I’m not the one with all the necessary information I’d need to write a very helpful article. That’s when I have to ask myself, “Is it worth my time to research this material and write the article the world needs?”

If it is worth your time to do the research (heads-up: it could take 20+ hours), then you’re still the one who should be pulling this off.

And while we’re on the topic of research …

Do it well, and let it show.

Because if this really is a search term you want to rank for, odds are someone else will want to rank for it, too. They might even be writing that article now. So you need to make yours top-notch:

  • Pull in screenshots that demonstrate what you’re talking about
  • Quote experts
  • Cite case studies
  • Embed videos
  • Use charts, graphs, and full-scale infographics to make your content more learnable

Knock it out of the park!

2. Write something far better than the #1 result

If there’s at least one piece of content that would reasonably satisfy the person searching, then we come to another question:

Is the first result absolutely awesome?

An awesome result goes beyond just satisfying the searcher: an awesome result is going to blow their mind. You’ve seen awesome articles before. They’re the articles that scroll for days, and each paragraph makes you feel smarter and smarter.

Hint: awesome content is usually long content.

Neil Patel ran one of my favorite SEO articles to date on how content length affects ranking and conversion. Here’s what he found:

  1. The top 10 results for most keywords are at least 2,000 words long.
  2. Longer content gets more backlinks.
  3. Neil’s longer content (>1,500 words) got 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than his shorter posts.
  4. Longer content gives you a better shot at ranking for long-tail keywords.
  5. Longer content converts better, too.

It’s not always the case, but long, rich, meaty content tends to win.

If you want a great example, Google “How to get backlinks.” The #1 result is Brian Dean’s post, “How to Get Backlinks with Guestographics.”


This really is an awesome post. Brian spells out every single step, gives thorough advice all the way, and shows how it works for him.

If the first post isn’t awesome, be the one to write it better.

It totally works.

For example, remember how I was researching the “shortest book of the Bible” for my blog? The post that was getting all the traction for that search term at the time went live in 2001 and hadn’t changed much since.

I put together a post almost twice as long, more specific to the search term and that delivered information in a more learnable way compared to the former leader’s list. I say “former leader” because as of today, my post is the number one article answering that question.


This approach is what Brian Dean (the guy who wrote that aforementioned awesome post on how to get backlinks) calls the “Skyscraper technique:”

Have you ever walked by a really tall building and said to yourself:

“Wow, that’s amazing! I wonder how big the 8th tallest building in the world is.”

Of course not.

It’s human nature to be attracted to the best.

And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest “skyscraper” in your space…and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.

All of a sudden YOU have the content that everyone wants to talk about (and link to).


This is the approach you’ll take more often than not. It takes a lot of research, writing, and promotion, but that’s pretty much how it is when you’re out to make the best content.

3.  Write an authoritative article from an alternative perspective

Strategy #2 is a proven method. So proven, in fact, that sometimes others in your space may have already used it.

But you don’t always have to top the leading article. This is especially true if:

  1. You’re not competing for the same readership as the site with the top piece, or
  2. You have a different conclusion or perspective than the top piece

If either of those are true, then your mission changes: Write an authoritative article from a different perspective.

For example, let’s say you’d really like to gain a few clients by doing inbound audits. It would be really cool to rank for “How to do an inbound audit,” right?

Well, you’re going to have a rough time, because Eli Overbey and Noah Kagan are the #1 result.


I’ve read that post. It’s legit. I honestly don’t know if I can write a better one.

But Eli’s inbound audits set the standard for the world. I’m really just trying to set the standard for a super, super narrow niche.

In this case, I don’t really need to have written the end-all, inbound audit article. I need to write the authoritative article on how seminaries should do inbound audits.

Bottom line: If you can’t own the whole Internet for that search term, focus on owning it for your own niche.

4. Write the ultimate list of awesome articles

It’s not too common to get a page full of amazing material. But you’ll know it when you do. To see my favorite example, Google search the phrase, “Ideal length of a blog post.” You’ll get this:


Neil Patel and Kevan Lee (and the Buffer bloggers in general) make terrific content. In this case, there’s plenty of fantastic stuff for people to find when they’re searching for the ideal length of a blog post.

You might run into this situation, too. When that happens …

Write the ultimate list of awesome results

You don’t have to write the deepest piece. Write the piece that brings all those pieces together.

This is what Brian Dean calls an “Expanded List Post,” and it’s part of another strategy he uses to jump to the top of search results. You’re essentially writing the executive summary of all the awesome content out there. Here’s how it works:

  1. Open a new post, and make a list of all the helpful pieces of content.
  2. Under each of those results, write a few paragraphs that tell:
    • The big takeaways or high-level steps
    • Why you included it in your master list
    • How it differs from the other list items
    • If appropriate, strengths and weaknesses
  3. Write a few introductory paragraphs at the beginning to set the stage.
  4. Write a conclusion paragraph that sums it up, gives your favorites, and asks for more potential list items in the comments.

The other post strategies we’ve talked about have been win-win posts: the readers win because you’re satisfying their curiosity with terrific content. You win because you rank for those keywords. But this strategy is win-win-win:

  • Readers win because you’re doing all the legwork for them. You’re researching all the articles and giving them the survey of the best the Internet has to offer. That’s really valuable.
  • The people who wrote the awesome content you sourced win. You’re sending traffic their way, and telling them their content is valuable.
  • And of course you win, because you rank.

This is a fun type of piece to put together. But the next one might be the most fun of them all …

5. Put awesome content in a new format

Sometimes there’s a lot of really well-written, thoroughly-researched blog content out there. If that’s how it is for your golden keyword, then here’s what you need to do:

Push that awesome content beyond the text.

Long-tail SEO is usually a writer’s game. (After all, longer content tends to rank better and get more backlinks.) But as you look around the blogosphere, you’ll find that very few of these awesome posts come with a short-form means of summing it all up.

That’s fine for the readers who will set aside 15-20 minutes to read a blog post. But what about more visual learners? And what about the people who need to write their own TL;DR summaries and pass that awesome content on to the rest of their team?

You can give them an infographic.

Or a video, or a checklist, or anything that sums up the great content out there and presents it in a new way. Of course, give credit to the people whose hard-researched articles made your new piece possible. Then for bonus points, float that infographic (or whatever) past the people who made the great content that inspired it.

“Why rehash someone else’s work?”

Well, the point is to not just rehash someone else’s work. The point is to make their work even more valuable by making it easier for people to learn, remember, and share the material.

“Will that annoy the original authors?”

This is a fear I dealt with originally. The first time I pitched a blogger on making an infographic, I was kind of worried that he’d think, “Dude. Make your own stuff and leave my stuff alone.”

I was wrong. He was totally on board, and it turned out to be a really fun time. He liked the interest that I took in his work, and was happy to post it on his own blog.

But that’s nothing compared to the ultimate case study: Matt Ragland.

Remember that terrific post by Kevan Lee on the ideal length of everything online? My friend Matt Ragland was reading through it and realized that the content didn’t just make a great post—it had a lot of potential as an infographic.

So he spent a little time (less than two hours) sketching up this infographic and sharing it in the comments:


As you can see, this sketch racked up a good deal of comment upvotes. This one comment pulled more than 2,000 visitors to his blog in 2014. And this sketch has been shared more than 300 times across the socialsphere.

Buffer’s readers loved it. I asked Matt if he would do it again, and I think you can guess the answer.

That was just a comment …

Imagine what you could do with a full-length infographic (which Buffer went on to do with SumAll) or video that lives on your blog—or as a guest post on someone else’s blog?

6. Outsource it

Finally, if you can’t make any of this content, but you know you really should be ranking for it, then you need to find someone else to do it for you. Here’s a guide to get started outsourcing quality content.

Step 5: Promote it!

Your epic content isn’t going to start ranking on its own. Once you have your killer, authoritative piece, it’s time to do the following:

  • Decide whether to run it on your own blog or as a guest post.
  • Reach out to anyone you mention positively in the article to let them know it exists.
  • Send a note of thanks to those whose work inspired or informed your piece.
  • Tell your email list about it.
  • Tell prominent bloggers who have written similar content about it.
  • Tell the major influencers in the market about it (I recommend using BuzzSumo for this).
  • Spread it on social media.

A few key takeaways

By this point you’ve noticed something about all these strategies for keyword ranking: each one makes a helpful contribution. After all:

  1. When you write the first piece, the contribution is obvious.
  2. When you write it better, you’re adding more helpful content to the conversation.
  3. When you write a different take, you’re adding a new perspective.
  4. When you write an expanded list post, you’re giving people a summary of the awesome content out there.
  5. When you put it into a new format, you’re making it easier to learn for others.

Which of these strategies is your favorite?

How about you? Which one of these do you tend to enjoy most? Which has worked for you? Or do you do something entirely different? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Editor’s Note: A version of this post was originally published at GradLime. It is reprinted here with permission because of the awesome value we believe it brings to Buffer’s audience!

The post 6 Foolproof Methods for Creating the Top Content on Any Topic appeared first on Social.

Having a list of go-to blogs can be a great source of information and inspiration.

In our case, the blogs and websites we visit most often provide some amazing articles with in-depth insights, tips, and strategies that help inform our social media sharing. Likewise, the amazing content gives us something to aim for and ideas for what to cover next.

We’ve shared a bit about favorite blogs for content marketing and blogs for advanced marketing.

Now it’s time to ask you: What are your favorite blogs and websites? 

We posed this question in our end-of-year survey to Buffer blog readers, and I was amazed at the breadth of responses. You all read some really wonderful blogs! And I’m really happy to share the list here in hopes that maybe some new go-to blogs might surface for you.

favorite blogs

Share your thoughts!

If you missed a chance to share your favorite blogs, I’d love to open things up to you here. Please do add your favorites into the comments.

Here’s the question we asked in the original survey:

We’d love to hear any other blogs, sites or publications that you enjoy reading.

Which ones stand out for you?

Your 50 Favorite Blogs on Marketing, Social Media, and More

Adding up the full list of responses, there were over 250 blogs that were mentioned, covering everything from digital marketing to lifehacking to inspiration. You all read some really awesome stuff!

I did my best to narrow down the list to those blogs that were mentioned most often and the ones that might be most relevant to the Buffer blog audience as a whole. If you’re interested in all 250 specific responses, feel free to grab them from this spreadsheet.

(HT: Jon Collins and Inside Intercom for the inspiration for this article.)

Social Media Marketing blogs

sprout social blog

We loved seeing so many great social media blogs mentioned in the survey. These blogs cover a wide range of content types, aimed at a wide audience—beginners to experts and everyone in between. Here were the social media blogs that were mentioned most often.

1. Social Media Examiner

2. Jon Loomer Digital

3. Social Media Today

4. Post Planner

5. Socially Stacked

6. Sprout Social Insights (pictured above)

7. Convince & Convert

8. Razor Social

9. Mari Smith (if interested, you can learn more of Mari’s story from our interview with her!)

10. Rebekah Radice

Plus a couple under-the-radar choices:

r/socialmedia – This subreddit has tons of interesting questions and answers about all things social media. Not only can you ask your own question here, you can also see which topics are being mentioned most often by the Reddit community—great validation for future articles or just to learn what people are talking about!

Boom Social – Kim Garst’s blog focuses on social media tips for small business owners and covers some really actionable topics that you might not see elsewhere—her post on how to use Twitter lists is a great resource.

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.

Writing & Content Marketing


You chose a great number of awesome writing blogs, some that cover the words themselves and some that cover the strategies and tips for successful online content. Here are your top choices.

11. Copyblogger

12. The Writer’s Room (a Medium publication)

13. Content Marketing Institute

14. CoSchedule

15. Fizzle’s Sparkline blog (pictured above)

16. Contently’s Content Strategist blog

17. Boost Blog Traffic

18. Blogging Your Passion

19. Kopywriting Kourse

20. Copy Hackers

Plus a couple under-the-radar choices:

Grammar Girl – Mignon Fogarty shares tips on some of the most common grammar questions that writers face, things like “affect vs. effect” and “i.e. versus e.g.” She also hosts a grammar podcast.

Blog Tyrant – Ramsay’s tips on blogging are designed to help you turn blogging into a source of income and eventually even a career.

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.

Inbound Marketing

ok dork

This category covers all sorts of digital marketing sites whose content can include social, blogging, SEO, design, and any other tool in a marketer’s toolbox.

21. HubSpot

22. Moz

23. Quick Sprout

24. Marketo

25. Marketing Profs

26. OK Dork (pictured above)

27. Unbounce

28. {Grow}

29. Marketing Land

30. Social Triggers

Plus a few under-the-radar choices:

LKR Social Media – Laura Roeder’s social media and business blog contains the tips and strategies that she’s personally used to grow her consulting business and launch new products. The posts are super actionable and interesting, and her email newsletter and resources are a great introduction.

Video Fruit – Bryan Harris’s blog is full of ways to grow your business with video. His articles cover video along with other growth skills like writing, content, email, and more.

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.

Company blogs


There’s likely to be a lot of crossover in the topics from these company blogs and the topics in the above lists. Company blogs exist in support of a product (kind of like the Buffer blog supports Buffer). Here were some of your favorites.

31. KISSmetrics

32. Groove

33. Help Scout

34. Wistia

35. SumAll

36. Inside Intercom (pictured above)

37. Shopify blog

Plus a few under-the-radar choices:

Refinery29 Intelligence – The Refinery29 website covers emerging fashion trends. Their Intelligence blog shares the details of how their marketing works. Past articles have included deep dives into analytics and strategies, with highly transparent sharing.

Swiss Miss – The blog for the Swiss Miss design studio, run by Tina Roth Eisenberg who founded TeuxDeux, Tattly, and others, covers all sorts of interesting topics and categories on productivity, inspiration, marketing, content, writing, and more.

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.

Productivity, Lifehacking, and Inspiration

brain pickings

So many people named blogs in the productivity/lifehacking or inspiration topics, which are some of our favorites, too. While these are a bit off from the social media focus of the Buffer blog, we think there’s a lot of value and interesting stuff to be found at these cool places.

38. Lifehacker

39. Four Hour Work Week

40. Farnam Street

41. Brain Pickings (pictured above)

42. James Clear

43. Zen Habits

44. 99U

45. Michael Hyatt

Plus a few under-the-radar choices:

Smart Passive Income – Pat Flynn shares his best tips on how to build an online business (and earn passive income). Lots of great marketing/productivity articles, how-to tutorials, and more.

Stanford Behavior Lab – Yes, this is a link for the actual laboratory at Stanford that studies human behavior. The publications stemming from Stanford’s research are all available here.

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.

Thought leaders

marie forleo

Some of the big names in digital marketing arrived there with great blogs to back them up. You may recognize most (if not all) of the names in the list here. They’re all great ones to get to know.

46. Seth Godin

47. Jeff Bullas

48. Chris Brogan

49. Gary Vaynerchuk

50. Marie Forleo (pictured above)

View these great blogs in Feedly, and subscribe in one click.


Major news sites –

General Marketing –

Email –

Design –

WordPress –

What can you do with these blogs?

It was an absolute pleasure to see all the great blogs that the Buffer blog audience knows and loves. I got a handful of new ones to follow from browsing the list. I hope you found some intriguing ones also!

What to do with this wealth of new blog options?

  1. Subscribe to updates via Feedly. You can follow along with every new post by adding the RSS feed to Feedly. There are some neat Feedly integrations that can help with moving articles from Feedly directly into Pocket, Buffer, or your favorite business tool.
  2. Add a site to Buffer Feeds. Those on the Awesome or Business plan have 15 slots for Feeds per profile. You can add one of these sites to your Feeds and quickly add new or favorite articles from the feed straight to your Buffer queue, without ever leaving the dashboard.

Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration here with us! I’d love to hear if any other blogs we might not have mentioned. I’ll look forward to your thoughts in the comments!

Image sources: Pablo, The Noun Project, Blurgrounds

The post Your 50 Favorite Blogs: The Most-Loved Marketing, Social Media, and Productivity Blogs of Buffer Readers appeared first on Social.

Imagine having a quick and simple way to instantly increase the engagement on your social media posts.

We’ve found that oftentimes images are the hook that draws more clicks, shares, and favorites on social media. And a number of marketing studies report the same:

Engagement-grabbing social media images might be the closest thing we have to a magic wand on social media. And to make it even easier to design these images in a snap, we’ve whipped up a new, free tool we’d love to share with you.

Meet Pablo, the easiest way to create engaging social media images.

pablo launch

Creating with Pablo

With Pablo (like Pablo Picasso!), anyone can create engaging images. No sign-in, no design experience and no money needed—just head over to

Type any text you’d like into the text box (Pablo comes pre-loaded with 130 inspirational quotes we love, in case one of those strikes your fancy) and choose an image as a background.

Pablo comes equipped with a ton of beautiful photos via our friends at UnSplash, or you can upload your own image to use. (Need a great source for images? We’ve got ya covered!)

Now comes the fun part: Styling your image! You can make the text larger or smaller, change your font type or color, switch the photo to blurred or black-and-white, move things around, and add a secondary line of text or even an icon!

When you get your image looking the way you want it, you’re done! With one click, you can share to Twitter, Facebook, or add your creation to your Buffer queue. You can also download the image to use in a blog post, social media post or anywhere you like.

Ready to give it a try?

pablo button

10 fun ways to use Pablo for engaging images

We’ve had a lot of fun exploring different ways to use Pablo, and I thought I might share with you some of our favorites. I bet you can think of lots more!

1. Inspirational quotes

Quotes are super popular online (oh hello, Pinterest!) and can be a great way to connect with your community. Pablo makes it easy to share your favorite uplifting or funny quote:

pablo quote

2. Facts and stats

Got a shocking statistic or a fun fact? Help it spread further with a visual treatment. For instance, let’s see what one of those stats from the beginning of this article looks like in an image.

pablo stats

Share your stats image to social media, or use them in blog posts! At Buffer, we’ll sometimes do full blog posts on interesting stats. They’re often a big hit!

3. Blog post teasers

If you frequent the Buffer blog, you might have noticed that most posts tend to have an image near the beginning of the article that generally sums up what a reader will get from the post. We find these images are really handy to give our audience a visual to share with every post, and Pablo is coming in very handy here!

For example, a recent post on the Buffer Open blog about our company retreats got this accompanying image:

pablo blog teaser

4. Blog post quotes

Got a great interview or experts’ roundup on your blog? Why not share some of those killer quotes with a quick and simple image?

We’ve been employing this practice more and more with our content, both in the posts themselves and as social media extras. They’re also handy when the quote is a bit too long to share as text on Twitter!

For our recent interview with Rand Fishkin, we shared some images like this one with a link back to the article in the body of the update. You could also try adding your website or a custom URL!

pablo blog quotes

5. Facebook preview images

We all want our posts to stand out in Facebook’s crowded News Feed. One big way to do that is to make the most of every link by optimizing your images.

Pablo images are a default size of 1,024 pixels wide by 512 pixels tall – a size that we’ve found works really well for both Twitter and Facebook sharing.

With Pablo’s help, a Facebook link share can go from this:facebook link shareTo this:

pablo Facebook finished

6. Product images

I have a friend who sells jewelry on Etsy, and we’re always discussing new ways she can stand out in a crowded marketplace. I bet many other folks feel the same way.

One idea could be to share some appealing product images via social media, and Pablo can lend a hand:

pablo product pics

You could give this a try for special offers and sales, too!

7. Testimonials

When people give positive reviews of your products or services, why not share them? They’re great examples of social proof.

A few Buffer buddies have taken the time to share some praise for Pablo on social media, and it got me thinking that another fun use of Pablo might be to share short testimonials, both on social media or maybe in a blog post as well.

Here are some fun testimonials I’ve seen so far:


pablo testimonial 2

8. “Conversation starters”

One thing we love to do on social media is share what we call “conversation starters.” They’re not intended to sell anything or promote any content – they’re just to start a fun conversation!

Pablo images are a great way to make these community-engaging posts even more fun:

pablo conversation starter

If you try posting some conversation starters to any of your social media accounts, get ready for some interesting chats!

9. Events and announcements

If you regularly hold webinars, meetups, conferences or other events, you probably rely on a variety of tools to get the word out, perhaps including social media.

Adding visuals to the mix makes for a simple way to share your news. I can’t wait to have Pablo handy for Buffer’s next meetup!

pablo events

10. Lists/instructions

Sometimes a visual can be quicker and easier to understand than written words – and often a bit more portable as well. Try Pablo for lists of items or even sharing a short instructional process like a recipe:

pablo recipe

Your turn: Share your Pablo creations!

We’re really excited to turn Pablo over to you and see all the fun and creative things you’ll do with it!

pablo button

If you create a Pablo image you’d especially like to share, hashtag it with the phrase #madebypablo and we’ll add it to our image galleries on social media!

And we’re all ears when it comes to making our new pal Pablo even better and more useful for you. Give it a try, and feel free to share any insights or suggestions you might have either in the comments below or on social media anytime.

The post Engaging Social Media Images in 30 Seconds Flat: Introducing Pablo by Buffer appeared first on Social.

More and more real estate professionals are utilizing “Virtual Staging” for their vacant properties.  The photos below illustrate how this service can effectively enhance your listings that are unfurnished.  The pictures on the left are the “before” and the pics on the right are the “after”.  Tech Savvy Agent wants your help! What is your experience with “Virtual Staging”?  Is there a “Virtual Staging” company that you recommend?  PLEASE type in your answer to these questions in the “Comments” section below.


(Special thanks for the “before and after” photos to Nick Baldwin, Realtor in New Jersey)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts or experience with “Virtual Staging”!!!

-Tech Savvy Agent