Here at Flying Cork, our SEO and Analytics team switched to using Google Tag Manager to implement various tags, utilities, and platforms on the websites and analytics accounts we create and manage, rather than placing codes in their respective places directly into the HTML. Since we switched over to the tag manager method, simple implementations and coding tasks have become so much faster and easier. I’ve started questioning how I ever lived without GTM. I’m convinced that everyone with a marketing plan should implement Google Tag Manager on their site!

Here are my top five reasons why:

  1. It’s easy for non-developers to understand. If you don’t have a background in Javascript coding, implementing in-line event tracking or other tags can get confusing or overwhelming … and sometimes it may just not work. With Tag Manager, you can skip the Javascript for most tracking tasks. You don’t need to add lines to the Analytics code or manually add event tracking snippets. Instead, you set up these same tags through a user-friendly interface that feels more like software than frontend coding.
  2. It saves time and resources. Once your web team has placed the GTM code snippet on your site, you’re ready to roll – solo. You don’t have to harass your developers or clients for simple things like changing out pixels or adding event tracking (most of the time). You can run tests and install utilities without needing login credentials or CMS access. After you’ve set up your tags, triggers and variables, you can test right in the browser, clearly see what’s firing, and troubleshoot what’s broken until you get it right. With a plain old Analytics implementation, you may have to get a developer to place the code, then push it to a dev site, where you can test the results in real time. If the tags don’t work, you go back to the developer, make changes and repeat the process. With Google Tag Manager you can stop making simple tasks a multi-person effort. Sure, every now and then you’ll come across a utility that isn’t supported by or compatible with GTM; in that case, you’ll have to get the snippet coded on to the page. But for the most part, you’ll be able to handle a lot more on your own. You can get your pixels up and running with little to no downtime.
  3. It makes tracking a breeze. Want to see how many people are clicking a specific button? Need to trigger virtual pageviews for your goal funnels? What about setting up cross-domain tracking? Google Tag Manager makes this process practically foolproof: There’s no need to alter the Analytics tag or write event tracking codes. You can easily remove these functions, too. You can find events and triggers a lot easier in a Tag Manager container than in code, and get an at-a-glance idea of what tags you have running and where—provided you’re keeping things organized!
  4. There’s a ton of support documentation out there to help you get started, so you’ll never be lost. If you don’t know how to implement a tag or push certain kinds of information to Google Analytics, chances are you’ll be able to find a detailed step-by-step tutorial with a simple search. You can find tons of free, custom Javascript shared by tracking experts to do things like track page scrolling or video plays. The resource that really got me hooked on GTM was Google’s Tag Manager Fundamentals course, which offers a detailed overview of crucial Tag Manager concepts that you’ll use daily; this is stuff that can apply to almost any site.
  5. It can help introduce you to more complex concepts, ultimately making you more well-rounded and tech-savvy. One of the things I love about Analytics in general is that the skills you learn are incredibly buildable—once you understand one thing, it’s easy to segue that knowledge onto something deeper. Tag Manager has helped me dig into things like understanding the data layer, grasping how information moves from the webpage to Analytics, and getting a better understanding of Javascript. I know I’ve said over and over that you don’t need to have a coding background for GTM, but it has inevitably exposed me to a technical side of tracking that I used to depend on developers to carry out. But with GTM, it’s presented through a more right-brained approach, which definitely makes it easier for the less technical among us to comprehend.

Honestly, this just touches the surface of my deep, deep love for Tag Manager, but for anyone who’s just starting out or thinking about giving it a try, hopefully this gives you the push you need to get going. With its amazing flexibility for general analytics maintenance and overall marketing strategy implementation, there’s really no reason to wait any longer!

Emojis might have started out as a nice embellishment in text messages, but they have been gaining more and more traction as an essential way to articulate a message across social media.

When you think about it, digital communication innately lacks tone-of-voice. Sure, you can add emphasis on words by putting them in bold, italics or even underlining, and if you’re really trying to get a point across you do all three. That’s all well and good in a written document or an email, but what about texts and tweets? Before emojis, they used to be even more limited—we were only able to show a touch of emphasis in ALL CAPS!

With emojis, you can add context, enable wordplay, and add a more precise range of emotion. Let’s face it: “lol” can only express your laughter so far. When you add the “crying of laughter” emoji, you’re telling the person you’re talking to that they did, in fact, say something hysterically funny.

Some people try and argue that emojis are taking away from conversations, but I think they’re adding to them. If you take a look back in history, you’ll realize this isn’t new! Long before emoji was even a word in our vocabulary, cave people were scribbling symbols on their cave walls as a form of communication. They may not have invented the “salsa dancing” emoji, but it was the start of communication through symbols.

Advertisers are now seeing added value in this type of communication, too. Last week, Twitter announced the dawn of emoji targeting, meaning that marketers can use emojis as keywords for ad targeting. Yes, you read that right – emojis will be keywords, and marketers everywhere are either going to roll up their sleeves and get to work, or scratch their heads and wonder how emojis can help their efforts.

Lately, Twitter has been under constant scrutiny: critics are saying that the platform is slowly but surely losing ground as a big social competitor. So when Twitter made this announcement, you bet I was excited to dive in and see if this new initiative could be part of a bigger strategy to revive the network. More importantly, I wanted to see how it could work for marketers!

Here’s an example – let’s say you’re the owner of a hamburger joint, and you’re trying to spread the word about your Fourth of July hamburger-palooza.

You’re on Twitter and you see that someone has sent a tweet with a hamburger emoji. Because that particular emoji was used in their message, you can then send a meat-loving advertisement for hamburger-palooza to that user. In this example, their usage of the “hamburger” symbol was your trigger to send a targeted, well-craftedad for your event.

What do I think about Emoji targeting?

I’m glad you asked! I think that emoji targeting can help businesses connect with their consumers on a more personal level. At their core, emojis are meant to be playful—but they’ve become a universal way for people and brands to communicate their feelings beyond the written word.

I think that this update shows a shift in the social landscape.  Since the waters of Twitter have become tepid over the past few months, emoji targeting should enable marketers to get creative and reach their audience in a fun, refreshing way.

Marketers cannot deny the impact these digital icons have on the way people communicate: Since 2014, more than 110 billion emojis have been tweeted. However, I personally believe that marketers are going to have to tread lightly when using emoji targeting.

There’s going to be a fine line between subtlety and intrusion. Balance is essential when carrying out these advertising campaigns, because if done wrong—if ads are too frequent or obvious—it will most certainly create backlash and could possibly result in a reduced number of emojis that are used on the social network.

Another point to keep in mind is the risk of wasted advertising dollars if an emoji is off-base to the advertisement. In the beginning, marketers are essentially going to be shooting in the dark given the fact that emojis aren’t quite as definite as actual keywords. To this point, I foresee a lot of trial and error while the kinks are ironed out.

Right now, this feature is limited to Twitter, but select partners like AdParlor, Amobee, HYFN, Perion, SocialCode, and 4C will be able to use emoji targeting in the near future. For the rest of the general public, emoji targeting is TBD.

If this feature takes off, this could be the start of Twitter’s resurgence as a top social network, or it could be the final nail in its coffin.

What do you think of emoji targeting? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. 

There’s an ebb and flow when it comes to social media networks. What worked one day might not work the next, and platforms are constantly adapting to the needs of their users.

Now that the dust has settled from yesterday’s breaking news that Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for a cool $26.2 billion in cash, we’re ready to wrap our minds around what this business deal might mean for the future of LinkedIn.

From interns to college students to the most important CEOs, LinkedIn is a central hub for business people to connect, create relationships and nurture them.

As Microsoft and LinkedIn are both leaders in the professional network space, this means that there is certainly untapped potential waiting to come to the surface as a result of this deal.

For quite some time now, LinkedIn has almost been stagnant.

The newsfeed interface was flooded with articles shared by the user’s network. The articles cycled quickly, and what was on top one minute was quickly replaced with new content. For more of a personalized experience, a user could hop over to LinkedIn Pulse to tap into the minds of influencers and business professionals and thought leaders. Without a doubt, there’s a lot of informative content on the site, but while other social media platforms are constantly revitalizing the user experience, LinkedIn seems to be slow to the draw.

Just take Facebook and Google. Google changes its algorithm 500-600 times a year. Facebook is constantly adding algorithms of its own and implementing new products and features that are keeping people glued to the social site. For example, users are now able to use Facebook Live, and the network is gearing up for the addition of 360-degree images to their platform. They’re staying current, they’re listening to their users and they’re making changes to adapt – they’re malleable.

With these platforms being in a constant state of change, some big and apparent, others more subtle and harmonious, it was only a matter of time until LinkedIn followed suit and revitalized their platform.

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for $196 per share will give the tech giant access to a database that’s home to the identities of LinkedIn’s users – a goldmine of data. Now, we’re left to ponder – and wait until the end of the calendar year when this deal is set to go through – what this immense source of data will mean for Microsoft. How will they turn this raw info into something bigger, something better?

There’s a lot of speculation that this merger could elicit an integration of Microsoft Office 360 and Dynamics with LinkedIn. Other ideas that have been swirling around the industry within the last 24 hours are that this deal could also lead to the seamless integration of Outlook and LinkedIn. Either of these possibilities could be a viable resource for sales representatives and business development, as well as marketers.

As pieces of information continue to emerge, I want to offer my two cents on how I think that this merger will be beneficial to LinkedIn’s users. Have a look:

Users:

I think it’ll open the doors for a sharing of information between two large companies – one in the tech industry, the other in the social sphere. If the rumors are true, the joining of these two forces will give Microsoft platform users more of the information they yearn for – data about people. After all, people are what make social media just that – social. Furthermore, I think there will be a revitalization of LinkedIn and its capabilities as a means for business professionals to connect. We may soon see more multimedia capabilities on LinkedIn, or better ability for users to filter information from industry thought leaders.

Professionals:

Microsoft’s Dynamics platform offers not only CRM and ERP capabilities, but also significant marketing capabilities. If information is shared between LinkedIn profiles and Dynamics, marketing teams will have access to data on job histories, current roles and targeting – not to mention info on users’ personal business networks. Depending on how privacy policies are ironed out, the information that could be made available to marketers could be huge.

That’s not all; this merger could be a big play for Bing advertisers. I think the biggest sign of growth and potential is that advertisers can manage their campaigns on Bing Ads (search and display) with the Bing Ads Manager and LinkedIn targeting options. This can help advertisers target users on a more granular level. Essentially, I think that the sheer amount of data that will soon be available between both platforms is going to help revolutionize how advertisers and marketers target their audiences and refine their content to create relevant messaging.

The driving force of this acquisition still remains unclear. Could it be LinkedIn’s faltering number of users? Could it be the fact that LinkedIn’s sales and growth began to go south and this is Microsoft’s attempt at bailing out a slowly sinking ship that’s taking on too much water? Or is there just too much data available to pass up?

This is a lot of information to digest, a lot of speculation to take into consideration, and a whole lot of waiting until we see the fruits of this merger’s labor.

The world is waiting – what’s next?