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  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

  • HFTP Report: Hospitality Data Security — Strategy for Data Protection and Regulation Compliance

    This guide from Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(R)) covers safeguards that can be implemented in hospitality businesses today, tips on how to continuously improve security and data regulation compliance.

  • HFTP GDPR Guidelines: Privacy Policies for Hotels

    This document offers points to consider in the development of a hotel’s privacy policy. In view of the multiple organisational and legal structures under which hotels operate, as well as the complexity of the third party landscape that may be part of the complete guest experience, this document serves as a guideline only.

9 Resolutions Every Marketer Should Make for 2019

MDG Advertising ·12 December 2018
As we head into the new year it's time to make some resolutions.On top of personal commitments -- does eating healthier, getting physically fit, and saving more money sound familiar? -- what should marketers seek to improve professionally? Which approaches should you embrace to make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective?Here are nine resolutions we believe every marketer should consider making in 2019 to have a more productive and prosperous year:1. I will use social media to engage, not just to postOver the past few years, many brands have fallen into the habit of using social networks primarily as distribution platforms for content and advertising. While this is certainly an important role, it is not the only one. In the year ahead, brands should remember that social media is a powerful tool for interacting with audiences, not just for delivering offerings.Why is using social to engage so important? Because utilizing it as a service channel can lead to a big payoff: 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand say they are likely to recommend it to others.2. I will embrace voice-controlled assistantsDigital is undergoing a profound shift that marketers should pay close attention to in 2019. Thanks to the integration of platforms such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant with smartphones and other devices, consumers are increasingly utilizing voice rather than typing to ask questions and issue commands.Some 58% of consumers say they have already used voice search to find a local business and it is predicted that half of all searches may be conducted via voice by 2020. This is important to brands because voice and typing spark different types of queries and are processed in different ways by digital platforms. That means it's necessary to employ targeted tactics to optimize your offerings for voice.3. I will respect consumers' privacy and protect their dataIn 2018, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gave consumers much more control over their digital privacy and imposed strict requirements on how businesses can collect and use data.This should not be dismissed as a one-off event or as the act of overzealous European regulators: GDPR is just the tip of the iceberg and it highlights the growing concerns consumers across the globe have about how brands use and protect personal information. Given that, ensure that you are diligent in the year ahead about respecting consumers' privacy and protecting their data.4. I will focus on quality, not quantity when it comes to contentHere's a sobering statistic: it's estimated that 5% of a brand's content generates 90% of engagement, on average.One takeaway from this is that quantity is not the solution to your problems: simply producing more and more pieces is not likely to attract more interest, boost interactions, or generate more revenue.Ultimately, focusing on quality is vital. If you concentrate on developing a few superb pieces rather than on many mediocre ones, your content investment will reap a much higher return.5. I will be transparent and honest with my audiencesWhat do people want from marketers on social media? Transparency.Some 81% of consumers say brands have a responsibility on social networks to be transparent and 86% say a lack of transparency makes them more likely to take their business to a competitor.As for what demonstrates transparency, it's relatively simple: consumers say they want brands to admit mistakes, provide honest answers to questions, be clear on pricing, and avoid withholding information.6. I will start with my mobile deviceIt's no secret to brands that mobile is ascendant. More than two-thirds of Americans now use a mobile device to access the Internet and more than half of US online traffic originates from smartphones and tablets.Despite this, when reviewing digital campaigns many marketers still default to using a computer. This desktop-first approach in a mobile-first age creates a disconnect between consumers and brands.So, what can be done? Try learning from what a very old-school organization, The New York Times, did to emphasize the importance of mobile. For a period of time, the publication blocked the desktop version of its site in its offices, thereby forcing its staff to make their phones or tablets primary rather than secondary.7. I will pay attention to the metrics that matterWhile measurement is always a good thing, many marketers continue to pay too much attention to vanity metrics and too little attention to actionable metrics.What's the difference? As HubSpot puts it: "Vanity metrics include data such as social media followers, page views, subscribers, and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don't move the needle for your business goals. They offer positive reporting, but no context for future marketing decisions -- something actionable metrics can do."Often actionable metrics are more difficult than vanity metrics to collect and analyze, but the effort is worth it. Fundamentally, your marketing efforts will only become more effective if you truly know what is and isn't working and if you know which specific things need to be done in order to improve.8. I will maintain my brand voiceOften marketers will spend time developing their brand voice but then lose it when executing campaigns.This is understandable. With constant demands on time, and so many channels to engage on, it's a difficult challenge to concentrate on carrying your identity across everything you do.Our advice: do it anyway. Your brand is your defining attribute and must be part of everything you create. We've seen over and over again that whether it's through design cues or vocabulary, maintaining consistency in all facets of a brand can exponentially increase its recognizability.9. I will embrace the changeFinally, here's some food for thought: less than two decades ago Facebook and YouTube didn't exist, the iPhone hadn't been released, and print was the second-largest advertising channel.In other words, while things may seem relatively stable in the moment it's important to remember that we live in an age of rapid advancements. While emerging platforms and approaches may seem like just buzzwords today, they could soon be critical to marketers. For example, it's estimated that the augmented reality and virtual reality markets will surpass $94 billion by 2023.Of course, there's no way to predict exactly what will become big and what will fizzle. What we do know is that things won't stay the same. For marketers, then, the most important resolution may simply be to adopt a mindset. In the year ahead, don't become entrenched; instead, start to get excited for what's new and embrace the change.

How Digital Has Transformed the Creative Landscape [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·28 November 2018
How exactly have things changed? Which shifts have had the biggest impact? Did digital kill the creative star?To find out, check out MDGs infographic, How Digital Has Transformed the Creative Landscape.1. Creatives Are Developing Many More Formats for Many More PlatformsThe biggest change brought by digital to creative is that it has both increased the number of platforms brands need to engage on and the number of content types they need to develop.In addition to traditional channels and formats, marketers must now create a wide range of content for a wide range of platforms. These include:Blog postsSocial postsLong-form textInfographicsImages and slideshowsShort-form videosLong-form videosInteractive experiencesOwned websitesExternal websitesOrganic social mediaPaid social mediaOrganic searchPaid searchDisplay advertisingEmail newslettersIn many ways, this mirrors the shift other industries underwent long ago: marketing and advertising creative has moved from focused craftsmanship to production at scale.2. Personalization and Programmatic Are Driving Even More Demand for CreativeAnother major impact of digital is that it has made it cost efficient to target specific audiences, and even specific individuals, with specific pieces of creative.These approaches and technologies, such as personalization and programmatic ad buying, have been widely embraced because of their effectiveness.70% of creatives say its important to personalize content around the customer journey81% of agencies now engage in programmatic buying of digital advertisingA key consequence of targeted marketing is that it has sparked demand for more creative, since multiple versions of ads and content pieces are often needed. That is largely why:65% of creatives say they are creating more content than 5 years ago60% of creatives say they spend more time creating content than 5 years ago3. Data and New Tools Have Changed the Nature of CreativeDigital has not only changed how pieces are distributed, but also how they are made. In part, this has taken the form of new tools, such as hardware and software, for developing creative.69% of creatives say they are using different tools compared with 5 years agoHowever, the shift goes well beyond just new tools. The combination of constantly-updated data and fresh content types has made the entire creative field more iterative and collaborative.73% of creatives say it is now important to be able to collaborate easilyIncreasingly, development is organic and fluid, not static. This means teams are being required to do more on a day-to-day basis than simply creating.Compared to five years ago:40% of creatives spend more time on asset management and collaboration38% spend more time on iterating designs and getting approvals28% spend more time on meetings and administration4. Creatives Have Started to Rely Increasingly on Automation and AIHow have creatives been able to develop many more pieces as well as take on much more collaboration and iteration without massively bigger budgets?A large factor, and another transformative aspect of digital, has been automation.The share of creatives who say they use automation to help with:46% templates40% photo/design retouching34% file naming31% style guide implementation20% smart grids18% localizationAutomation may just be the start of how technology transforms the creative process. AI has already been incorporated into design software to enable the development of dynamic experiences, and a significant share of creatives believe it will soon have an even bigger impact.69% of creatives foresee their use of AI increasing over the next 5 years45% of creatives think AI will take over some of their job responsibilities5. The Democratization of Creative Has Made Talent More Important Than EverA key way digital has transformed creative is that it has democratized it; with smartphones and social media nearly anyone can share nearly anything online.This has led to a growing flood of content from consumers, not just creatives.Every minute online people:Share 2 million snapsWatch 4 million YouTube videosPost 50 thousand Instagram photosPublish 80 thousand Tumblr postsAt first glance, this would seem to make creatives less valuable: who needs a professional when everyone with an smartphone can post something? However, thats not actually the case.A study of the Instagram preferences of 13-24 year-olds found they want posts that are:Thoughtfully composedArtfully presentedBeautiful/engagingHave rich/authentic narrativesIn other words, young, online-savvy audiences highly prize the abilities of professional creators, like skillful design and deft storytelling. Ultimately, while digital has transformed nearly every other aspect of the field, it has not killed the creative star. In fact, talented creators are more valuable than everand now they have more powerful tools than ever.

5 Things Marketers Should Give Thanks For

MDG Advertising ·15 November 2018
'Tis the season to reflect and express gratitude.So, what should marketers be thankful for this year? Which evolutions, tactics, and trends impacted the field positively in 2018?There are countless options to choose from, but these five in particular stand out for both the scale of their influence this year and for their potential to continue to affect marketing for years to come.1. The GDPR Data RegulationAt first glance, Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) seems like something marketers should lament, rather than be thankful for. This sweeping legislation, which went into effect in May, gave consumers much more control over their own data and required businesses to disclose their data collection practices as well as ask for explicit consent to utilize information. Although the regulation was enacted by the EU, it impacted firms of all sizes across the globe.Why was this good for marketers? Because for years data had been collected, used, and stored sloppily: too many firms had embraced the power of data without accepting the necessary responsibility. This was leading to ever-increasing distrust and anger from consumers.Essentially, GDPR forced businesses to take much needed steps that had been avoided for far too long. While this brought some short-term pain, it made the long-term future of data-based marketing much more secure.2. Voice Search and Natural Language ProcessingWhile search engine marketing and search engine optimization have been powerful tools for businesses, there has also been a largely unacknowledged flaw: the way search platforms are used and they way operate has not matched real-life behavior. Specifically, the keyword-based approach to search hasn't been a good fit with how people naturally use language.Two trends are changing this. First, thanks to the popularity of tools such as Siri and Google Assistant on smartphones and devices enabled with Alexa-like helpers, consumers are increasingly using voice to search instead of typing. Second, search engines like Google are utilizing approaches such as natural language processing (NLP) to better understand how humans communicate. Essentially, people are searching more conversationally and search systems are simultaneously getting better at deciphering conversational language.For marketers, this combination means that trying to anticipate stilted consumer queries is becoming increasingly less important. The major benefit of this is that efforts can be focused on targeting what people truly want -- not the keywords they happen to use in a search engine.3. Account-Based MarketingWhile new technologies usually get most of the buzz, sometimes changes in approaches can be just as transformational to marketing.One prime example is account-based marketing (ABM). This framework, which transitioned from a buzzword to a mainstream strategy this year, is used to market to firms or even individuals with specific messaging, rather than lumping them into segments. While this may not sound revolutionary, its impact is: some 97% of marketers say ABM has a higher ROI than any other marketing initiative.Why is ABM such a big deal? Because it's an example of an approach maturing at the same time as the tools needed to execute it properly. Thanks to sophisticated marketing platforms, marketers and salespeople can now to highly tailor messaging, advertising, and content at scale. This means each target is delivered the most effective materials, resulting in higher engagement and revenue.4. InstagramWhat if there was a social network that was based on the visual content types audiences love (images, videos, ephemeral posts), that was adored by valuable audiences, that wasn't tainted by scandal, and that had highly-effective advertising capabilities?There is: Instagram.The platform now has more than 1 billion active monthly users, is catching up to Snapchat in popularity with young consumers, and has avoided the controversies surrounding parent company Facebook while still utilizing its incredibly powerful advertising engine.Basically, this was the year that Instagram became the Goldilocks network: just big enough, just popular enough, just trendy enough, and just sophisticated enough. In a time when audiences are increasingly wary of big social platforms, it has become a much-needed haven for marketers.5. MillennialsFinally, this year marketers should be thankful for a demographic that has been much maligned: Millennials.For years, businesses have been struggling to understand this group, which is expected to overtake Boomers as the largest age cohort in the United States in 2019. Unfortunately, much of the coverage has been alarming: supposedly these younger consumers want firms to be hip and political by diving into cutting-edge technologies and controversial causes.The data, however, paints a different picture. As with all other groups, Millennials' top concerns with products/services are cost and quality. Beyond that, this group doesn't necessarily want companies to take stands: just 15% say they pay attention to brands' political and ethical positions. Rather, what they care about are authenticy (97% value), trustworthiness (77%), loyalty (74%), and responsibility (73%).Fundamentally, Millennials are simply pushing brands to ditch artifice and focus on providing authentic messaging, high-quality service, and good value. That's a positive shift that both consumers and marketers should be thankful for.

Travel and Hospitality Marketing Budgets for 2019: 4 Trends to Watch

MDG Advertising ·10 October 2018
As you dive into 2019 budgeting, what trends should you be thinking about? Which approaches, platforms, and tools should be top of mind for travel and hospitality marketers?The team at MDG Advertising recently analyzed a host of recent analyst reports and industry surveys to find out.What came from that deep dive are these four key trends trends that every travel and hospitality firm should be watching closely in the year ahead:1. The Power of SearchWhen it comes to travel and hospitality marketing, search has become the digital workhorse. Newer channels may get more buzz, but it's search that continues to most consistently deliver audiences, engagement, and bookings.Some 48% of all US travelers say they begin trip planning with a search engine and 57% of travelers ages 18-34 go to a general search engine to check accomodation prices.In addition, travel and hospitality advertising on search is especially effective: 36% of consumers overall recall viewing a travel ad on a search engine and 50% of consumers ages 18-34 recall viewing a travel ad on a search engine.Moreover, search is becoming more important, not less important. Due in part to News Feed changes made by Facebook, search engines overtook social media as the top referrer of traffic to content sites this year.Given all that, make sure to budget well in 2019 for the tried-and-true (and highly effective) approaches of search engine marketing and search engine optimization.2. The Value of Visual ContentTravel and hospitality has always been an especially good verticals for visual content. What's changed in recent years is that images and videos have become more central to digital platforms, enabling consumers to more easily access these pieces.Today's trip planners engage across formats and channels: 49% say they look at travel content sites, 30% look at social media, and 23% watch videos.In other words, it's now highly likely that audiences will encounter--or will even seek out--images and videos related to your brand before finalizing travel plans.Visuals are also increasingly a key part of advertising: consumers rank images as the most memorable element of online travel ads, ahead of prices/deals and personalized features.This combination of organic and paid potency makes visual content a win-win for travel and hospitality brands: pieces can be utilized in different ways across different channels, engaging multiple audiences effectively.3. The Rise of InstagramMark Zuckerberg has done many smart things in his life, but the smartest may have been buying Instagram. The Facebook-owned social network has been experiencing tremendous growth over the past few years and now has more than 1 billion active monthly users.The combination of scale, a visual-based feed, and receptive audiences has made Instagram especially important to the travel and hospitality industry.How important? A survey of UK travelers found that 40% of respondents under 33 prioritize "Instagrammability" when choosing their next holiday spot, and US consumers rank Instagram as among the most influential platforms for travel advertising (along with Snapchat and YouTube).Moreover, influencers say Instagram is far and away the social network they use most, as well as the social network that's most effective for posting content.Put simply, Instagram is a perfect fit for travel and hospitality marketing as it's an ideal showcase for visual content, is prized by younger travelers, has highly effective advertising capabilities, and is where influencers can wield the most weight.4. The Popularity of Deal- and Impulse-Based TravelTravelers have always sought out deals and procrastinated planning. However, the rise of digital and smartphones has made it easier than ever to shop around and take last-minute trips.When Google did an in-depth study of modern travelers earlier this year, it discovered these interesting behaviors:Loyalty isn't a given: Just 9% of US travelers "always" know which brand they want to book with prior to researching and two-thirds of US elite hotel loyalty program members say they would pick a different hotel for a better price.Instant gratification is on the rise: Some 60% of US consumers say they would consider an impulse trip based on a good hotel or flight deal, and most US travelers plan to take more short getaways (three nights or less) than longer vacations (more than three nights) in the next 12 months.Again, this behavior isn't new, but it does seem to becoming more widespread. That's why brands shouldn't rest on their laurels next year and assume they'll have loyalty: it'll be more important than ever to compete for travelers' dollars based on price and timely prompts.Ultimately, the takeaway from all of these trends is that travel and hospitality marketers shouldn't be complacent in 2019. To succeed in the marketplace in the year ahead will require continuing to engage on established channels such as search, investing in fresher approaches such as visual content and Instagram, and remaining ever-vigilant about shifts in travelers' behaviors.

It's All About the Images [Infographic]

MDG Advertising · 3 October 2018
Why is this case? How exactly do visuals help? Which approaches can marketers take to increase the impact of their images?To find out, check out the key findings below, as well in MDG Advertising's newly updated infographic, It's All About the Images.People Are Wired to Value ImagesThe power of images lies in the fundamentals of human nature; we're wired to notice, remember, learn from, and respond emotionally to visuals.People remember only 10% of information three days after hearing it, on average; adding a picture can improve recall to 65%Nearly two-thirds of people say they're visual learnersConsumers are significantly more likely to think favorably of ads that emphasize photography, over ads that emphasize textGiven the powerful pull of images, it's no surprise that they're valued by brands:Marketers rank images as the most important content type, ahead of text and video68% of marketers say they plan to use images more in the futureAvoid overused stock images to ensure that your pieces stand out from those of other brands.The Impact of Images in ArticlesImages are powerful on their own, but when mixed with text they become even more impactful. Audiences consistently respond well to the combination of words and visuals.Articles with relevant images get 94% more views, on average, compared to articles without imagesResearchers have found that certain types of articles especially benefit from images:The Top Content Categories Where Images Boost Article Performance:General newsPoliticsSportsTo maximize the effect of images in articles, optimize all accompanying captions and metadata.The Impact of Images on Social MediaSocial media was initially text-driven and audiences tended to react most strongly to this content. Today, it's visual pieces that garner the most views, likes, shares, and comments.Images on Facebook receive 20% more engagement than videos and 352% more engagement than linksThis trend is likely to accelerate given that younger audiences prefer visual-first social networks.The Social Networks US Teens Use Most Often:SnapchatYouTubeInstagramYounger users say the images they like most on Instagram are beautiful and well composed.The Impact of Images in Press MaterialsGone are the days when an all-text press release would do the trick. Today, reporters and publishers want materials from brands that include multimedia elements, especially images.Journalists say images are the most-used multimedia and data element in storiesJournalists say providing images is among the most valuable things PR professionals doThe more multimedia you include in your press materials, the more views you're likely to get. That's according to an analysis of more than 10,000 press releases.The Impact of Images in SearchA key benefit of images that's often overlooked by brands is their search impact: visual pieces are highly valued by both search audiences and search engines themselves.Consumers, especially local ones, respond strongly to images in search:60% of consumers say they're more likely to consider or contact a business that has an image show up in local search resultsSearch engines understand this preference and increasingly prioritize visual-heavy content:Pages that appear in Google's featured mobile snippets have 12 images, on averageEnsure that your business shines on search by making your pages well structured and image heavy.The Impact of Images in E-CommerceIt's no secret that high-quality images help to sell products online, but sometimes brands overlook exactly how important they are.Simply put, consumers believe that good images are essential to an e-commerce experience:67% of consumers say that the quality of a product image is "very important" in selecting and purchasing the productIt's not just that images are valued, it's that they're often more valued than other content:More customers value the quality of a product's image than value:Product-specific information - 63%Long description - 54%Ratings and reviews - 53%When it comes to product visuals, don't skimp--provide many high-quality images for audiences.

Online Reputation Management 101: What Businesses Need to Know

MDG Advertising ·14 September 2018
It's time to get serious about managing your brand's reputation online.When done well, online reputation management (ORM) can be a huge boom for businesses, leading to increased interest, stronger loyalty from consumers, and significant boosts in everything from in-store visits to purchases. When not dealt with properly it can suppress demand for products/services and directly impact revenue.Why is online reputation management more important than ever today? What exactly is ORM? How can you begin to approach it effectively?MDG Advertising's newly updated infographic, Online Reputation Management 101: What Businesses Need to Know, answers these questions. We cover the specifics of what online reputation management is, which platforms matter most, why doing it properly is so vital, and how to get started.Check out the infographic to learn the key things every business should know about ORM.

Travel and Hospitality Advertising: 5 Digital Spend Trends to Watch

MDG Advertising ·30 August 2018
As travel and hospitality marketers get ready to set their budgets for 2019, which digital advertising trends should they be keeping a close eye on?To find out, the team at MDG Advertising went through a recent in-depth research report, which was based on interviews with major industry advertisers and an analysis of 160 metrics from 16 third-party sources.What did we learn? Are travel and hospitality advertisers increasing their digital advertising budgets? Which channels and formats are receiving the biggest share of spend? What are the key industry evolutions impacting the ad market?MDG's latest blog post, Travel and Hospitality Advertising: 5 Digital Spend Trends to Watch, shares the highlights from the research. We cover projected budget growth, spend trends by format, what impact video is having on the market, the effects of programmatic buying, and how mobile has changed the industry.Read the full post to find out the key digital advertising trends every travel and hospitality marketer should be watching.

How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers - MDG

MDG Advertising ·22 August 2018
Even now, many years into social media having become nearly ubiquitous, these seemingly simple questions continue to vex many firms. In fact, according to a recent survey, only 23% of senior marketers say they can quantitatively determine the impact of their social efforts.Often these struggles are rooted in the belief that measuring social media ROI is a nearly impossible task, involving endless measurement and analysis.The truth is that it is relatively easy and is achievable for firms of all sizes. MDG Advertising's new infographic, How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers, outlines a clear approach you can take to determine the impact of your engagements across platforms.Check out the infographic to find out how your brand can measure its social media return on investment using a simple four-step process:

How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers - MDG

MDG Advertising ·22 August 2018
What is the return on investment of your social media efforts? Are your audiences taking the right actions on the right platforms? Which social tactics are truly helping your brand achieve its marketing and sales goals?Even now, many years into social media having become nearly ubiquitous, these seemingly simple questions continue to vex many firms. In fact, according to a recent survey, only 23% of senior marketers say they can quantitatively determine the impact of their social efforts.Often these struggles are rooted in the belief that measuring social media ROI is a nearly impossible task, involving endless measurement and analysis.The truth is that it is relatively easy and is achievable for firms of all sizes. MDG Advertising's new infographic, How to Measure Social Media ROI: A 4-Step Plan for Marketers, outlines a clear approach you can take to determine the impact of your engagements across platforms.Check out the infographic to find out how your brand can measure its social media return on investment using a simple four-step process:

Facebook's New Recommendations Feature: What Local Businesses Need to Know - MDG

MDG Advertising ·10 August 2018
If you thought summer would slow Facebook from making major updates to its platform, you were wrong.The social network just unveiled a host of changes intended to make it easier for its users to connect with local businesses. Included in the release is a redesigned look for mobile Pages, additional Events functionality, an expanded job application tool for firms, and a stand-alone Local experience.The most impactful element on local businesses may be the new Recommendations feature, which is a combination of existing and new functionality.What exactly is Recommendations? How does it work and what effect will it have on local/multi-location businesses?Here's what marketers need to know:1. What Is Recommendations?Essentially, Recommendations is replacing the existing ways that Facebook users leave feedback about local firms.Whereas in the past people would engage via ratings and reviews on a business's Page, now they'll have a unified experience: Recommendations.The changes are not superficial -- everything from the underlying way the feature works to the user experience has been completely redesigned.

7 Tips for Succeeding with Instagram Marketing - MDG

MDG Advertising · 2 August 2018
This year is set to be a big one for Instagram marketing.According to Social Media Examiner's annual report, in 2018 some 69% of marketers plan to increase their investment on the platform and 74% plan to learn more about how to best use the social network.What's driving this spike in interest? Largely, a quickly growing audience and considerable popularity with younger consumers: Instagram now has more than 800 million active users, with 71% of US adults ages 18-24 and 72% of US teens ages 13-17 utilizing it.However, while most marketers understand the power of the platform, actually establishing a successful presence remains a challenge. Many marketers are still unsure about which types of content to post, when to engage, how best to reach audiences, and what the social network's full range of features is.To help, here are seven steps that every brand should take in order to make the most of its Instagram marketing efforts:

How Social Media Has Changed the Ad Game - MDG

MDG Advertising ·18 July 2018
Social media has evolved into the perfect landscape for advertisers hoping to expand audience reach. Brands are shifting away from old-school advertising tactics as social media becomes more and more popular.To help you understand the key factors and changes that are driving the move toward social media advertising, the team at MDG Advertising just refreshed our popular infographic, How Social Media Has Changed the Ad Game, with vital statistics and tips for 2018. We've done the legwork for you, narrowing down the approaches that matter.With more than a third of consumers spending their online time on social sites, there's never been a better time to implement a winning social media strategy. View MDG's full infographic to find the answers to your most pressing social media advertising questions.Click here to see full article

5 Global Advertising Trends Every Marketer Should Watch - MDG Advertising

MDG Advertising ·16 July 2018
Most marketers know that the advertising landscape is changing--but how? Are digital channels growing quickly? Will ad spend growth increase? What formats are on the rise?To find out, the team at MDG Advertising analyzed recent research reports. Our new article, 5 Global Advertising Trends Every Marketer Should Watch, reveals key highlights from the current data and provides answers to some of the most frequently asked advertising questions.So, what should marketers take note of when planning a strategy? The research shows that the years ahead should offer plenty of opportunity, but they'll also bring major changes. Advertisers should remain optimistic, nimble, and hyper-aware of the big ad shifts--while not abandoning traditional ad approaches that are working well.For essential insights on today's global advertising trends, check out MDG's full blog post.

12 Social Media Trends from Mary Meeker's 2018 Annual Internet Report - MDG

MDG Advertising ·11 July 2018
What are the essential Internet trends to watch? How is digital changing our lives and the world around us? Every year Mary Meeker--general partner at KPCB and long-time technology soothsayer--wades through a tremendous amount of research and conducts interviews with top industry experts to find out. Her 2018 annual report is chock-full of thought-provoking insights, from an outline of the ways in which consumer spending habits are shifting, to an exploration of how the nature of work is changing. One of the key areas that Meeker covers in depth is social media. Specifically, she examines the latest platforms, user behavior, advertising, and content evolutions. Here are 12 of the key social media observations from Meeker's report that every marketer should be aware of:

The ROI of Social Media [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·28 June 2018
So, how can you effectively measure the success of your social media initiatives? To shed some light on this controversial topic, we've updated our infographic, The ROI of Social Media, with the latest statistics. The infographic offers tips and techniques that will help you know whether your social efforts are increasing revenue--or whether it's time to step up your game.Struggling to Measure Social Media ROI? You're Not Alone.If you've had difficulty measuring social ROI, know that it's a common problem. Forty-four percent of CMOs say that they haven't been able to measure the impact of social media on their business, while only 20 percent say that they've been able to quantify social media's success. Plus, 36 percent of CMOs say they have a qualitative sense of its impact, but they haven't been able to translate that into solid figures.Brands aren't the only ones struggling to quantify social ROI. Research has shown that 28 percent of marketing agencies face their own difficulties when determining the impact of their social media initiatives. More than half of agencies--55 percent--say that they can measure social ROI somewhat, and only 17 percent say that they can quantify it accurately.Today's marketers often rank measuring ROI as one of the top issues with their social efforts. So, why is it so difficult to measure social media ROI? We outline some of the challenges marketers face in the next section.The Challenges of Measuring Social Media ROIToday's marketers face four key social media challenges:Measuring ROI: Social media still is a relatively new marketing channel, making it difficult to determine its impact on revenue.Publishing content: Generating compelling content ideas can be difficult at times. Plus, many firms have limited resources when it comes to creating digital content.Developing a strategy: Social media marketing is more than simply posting on all platforms; companies that are successful go beyond basic posting. To use social media to its full potential, companies must create campaigns and advertisements that engage their target market.Tying social media to business objectives: How will your social media strategy impact your overall business goals? Many businesses find themselves struggling to figure out where social media fits into the big picture.What Marketers Are MeasuringAs mentioned previously, marketers face multiple challenges when quantifying the success of social media--but it doesn't mean they aren't trying. More than two-thirds--73 percent--of businesses regularly track their social media efforts, though the metrics analyzed are limited. Most marketers are looking at likes, comments, and other engagement statistics instead of overall sales.More than half of businesses measure engagement, which includes views, likes, and shares. A smaller percentage of firms--21 percent--measure conversions, including revenue and goal conversions. Just 16 percent of firms measure amplification, and a meager two percent measure customer service metrics.So, what about firms investing in paid campaigns? Surprisingly, the most popular metric analyzed by these firms isn't directly related to sales. Those using paid campaigns are focusing on audience reach and growth, clicks to website, and engagement. The conversion rate takes last priority, despite the firms' financial investment in the social campaigns.Social Media Works, But Exactly How Much Is Hard to QuantifyThe majority of marketers believe that as a whole, social media has helped their businesses--even if they can't quantify its exact impact. Most believe that the benefits of incorporating a social media strategy include:Increased exposureMore website trafficDeveloping fan basesGenerating sales leadsGrowing business partnershipsBoosting salesMarketers' budgeting plans often reflect a belief in social media's effectiveness and optimism about its future. A survey of CMOs revealed that businesses are spending 12 percent of their marketing budgets on social efforts. This number is expected to rise to more than 20 percent over the next five years as brands increase their presence across multiple platforms.Why Is Measuring Social ROI Difficult?It's clear that social media gets results, but it's also apparent that most marketers struggle to measure its overall impact. So, what's holding brands back from measuring the success of their social initiatives?Marketers claim that there are multiple causes. Here are the top reasons brands struggle to quantify social ROI:They're unable to tie social media to business outcomes: Despite tracking engagement metrics, brands can't see how social posts and shares affect overall revenue.They lack analytics expertise and resources: Many marketers are new to social media and analytics tools. There may be a learning curve as marketers adapt to new platforms and begin to allocate resources toward measuring social ROI.They're employing inadequate measurement tools and platforms: While there are many social media tracking tools available today, not every platform will provide the data marketers need.They're using inconsistent analytical approaches: Some marketers are unable to receive a clear picture of their posts' success due to inconsistent reporting.They're relying on poor or unreliable data: The quality of social data received also matters. For example, social media platforms are littered with fake and duplicate accounts. Activity from these accounts can sometimes affect the accuracy of your data.While there's no magic bullet for making the process simple, it's possible for every organization to measure social ROI by investing in skilled staff, analytics platforms, and high-quality data. Finding the right approach will take time and effort, but knowing how to track social media's impact on your bottom line will make the investment worth it.

Local Search Evolved [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·16 May 2018
Google's location-based searches are growing rapidly, and so are consumers' expectations. So, what key changes should you be aware of this year? We've updated our popular infographic, Local Search Evolved, with fresh approaches and statistics, giving you the tools you need to boost search engine rankings and expand your business. Here's what you need to know as you evaluate your local search strategy in 2018.Mobile's Impact on Local Search BehaviorWhen it comes to online search, Internet- and GPS-enabled smartphones have completely changed the landscape. Search has become even more localized in the past few years--in 2017, 61 percent of consumers primarily used a smartphone to access the Internet. This shift is significant because with the move to smartphones, searches are likely to be local.The vast majority--82 percent--of smartphone users rely on search engines when looking for local businesses, and over a third of these are related to location. In the past, consumers had to manually localize their searches by adding a ZIP code or other information. Today, with GPS services enabled, a smartphone user doesn't need to input any location information when conducting a search--Google does this automatically.Local Search Is Driving Small Business GrowthWe know that the popularity of smartphones has had a profound impact on how consumers find nearby products and services, but how will it affect business growth? The results are profound--mobile devices are expected to influence $1.4 trillion in local sales by 2021.So, why does local search lead to a boost in sales? It's because local searches often lead to action. A whopping 72 percent of consumers often visit a store within five miles of their location after performing a search. Plus, 28 percent of nearby searches result in a purchase. Essentially, attracting the local search market means that you'll have first access to those who are in the last stage of the sales journey.This is great news for small businesses, which can use local search to their advantage by optimizing their website pages. As Google focuses more on ultra-relevant results, small-business websites with well-crafted content will become even more prominent on the first results page.Search Engines Determine How Consumers Find BusinessesWhile there are multiple ways that consumers find local businesses, the power and effectiveness of search engines have made them the primary method. Eighty percent of consumers use search engines to find the products and services they need, and 63 percent will go on to visit a company's website. Social media also plays an important role in how consumers locate businesses. Forty-eight percent of consumers search through social media to find business information.When the search for a product or service aligns with the convenience of using a smartphone, the inclination is to choose a store or service nearby. Brands that take advantage of these "micro moments" created by on-the-go consumers will see great results in 2018.The Significance of Local SEOThe importance of developing a local SEO strategy cannot be understated when it comes to mobile search. Google search results no longer display a list of simple blue links--today's pages include several important elements. These include images, informational pieces, and more.Marketers must consider which factors are important in different scenarios, including Local Pack (map-based) results and traditional organic results. Strengthening your Google My Business signals will be key when increasing local pack results. Business addresses are the number-one piece of information searched for by local customers, making it essential to keep that information updated. It's also important to make sure your contact information is consistent across all channels.Marketers also can boost map-based results on their websites by adding link signals and optimizing titles with local keywords. Boosting your citation and review signals will also help raise your rankings. The more your business is mentioned across different websites, the higher it will appear in search results.Optimizing your link, on-page, and citation signals will also help you improve your localized organic rankings. You'll also want to examine your behavioral signals, including the click-through rate and URL access and duration. Personalization is another significant ranking factor, which includes targeted elements like location and browsing history.Reputation Management Plays a Key Role in Local SearchA major development in local search has been the importance of reviews and rankings. A staggering 93 percent of consumers look to local reviews when deciding if a business is good or not, and 35 percent always read the reviews when searching for the right business. More than half of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to choose a local business; conversely, 40 percent of users state that a negative review would cause them to shy away from a business.Consumers consider reviews deeply valuable information. Because of this, they often are displayed front and center in Google's results and can significantly affect website traffic. In fact, many searchers won't look past the Google My Business listings to view the other organic results. If your goal is to increase website visits or rise to the top of search engines, you must receive glowing reviews.Busy, on-the-go consumers want immediate, relevant information--and brands must deliver. Finding success with local search involves embracing several different tactics. Focusing on mobile search queries, optimizing your site's SEO, and improving your Google My Business page are all-important when developing a local search strategy. In addition to implementing these tactics, brands should focus on producing high-quality content and providing great customer service. These fail-proof techniques will encourage stellar reviews and keep customers coming back.

Facebook's Custom Audience Tool: A Guide for Brands - MDG

MDG Advertising ·11 May 2018
Facebook recently removed third-party ad targeting segments, which were built into the Advanced Audience page. Called Partner Categories, these segments included supplemental material from Experian, Axciom, Oracle Data Cloud, and other sources of personal data.While these tools were considered helpful means for targeting users based on their offline activity, there are other robust tools within Facebook that enable brands to take advantage of their first-party data in targeting the right audiences.

Inspire Future Travelers with Trip Consideration, Facebook's New Ad Feature -

MDG Advertising ·26 April 2018
When planning a future trip, many people may have a beach getaway or hiking adventure in mind--but they still may be wondering where to go. With Trip Consideration, Facebook is giving travel advertisers the opportunity to help consumers answer that question.Trip Consideration is a new pixel-enabled conversion event that allows travel advertisers to match people from Facebook's database who have expressed interest in traveling. Advertisers will also be able to overlay their desired audience characteristics and present targeted ads to these individuals. Trip Consideration does not require dynamic ads to function, but it is designed to optimize any existing dynamic ads. To use this service, you must have a pixel implemented in your digital campaign.With more than 68 percent of Millennials finding ideas for their most recent trip on Facebook, introducing this conversion objective made sense. Travel discovery and trip planning are already happening across other platforms, including Instagram, where 60 percent of Millennials draw trip inspiration. Facebook aims to give travel marketers a way to reach people who have already been struck by the vacation bug, allowing them to showcase deals and popular destinations.

Affluent Consumers in 2018: Demographics and Spending Habits - MDG

MDG Advertising · 5 April 2018
While the cliche of wealthy consumers may be that of living a life filled with trust fund-fueled spending sprees, the reality is often much different. Newly published research from eMarketer on affluent Americans reveals the makeup and behaviors of this segment are nuanced and complex. Specifically, the demographics and spending habits of the group vary significantly from how they're often portrayed. Here are some of the key insights from the report, which was based on a range of sources, including U.S. government data and recent surveys:DemographicsContrary to the idea of inherited-wealth playboys and kept women, affluent Americans are in fact more likely to be married and more likely to live in households with two income-earning adults than the population at large, the analysis found.A poll from Deseret News and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, as cited by eMarketer, found that 70% of Americans with a household income of $100,000+ were married, compared with 55% of those with an income of $30,000-$99,999 and 25% of those with incomes under $30,000.U.S. Bureau of Labor data cited by eMarketer shows that households in the top income bracket ($200,000+ annual income) have an average of 2.1 earners; this compares with 1.3 earners among total households.

[Infographic] Hospitality Marketing in 2018: 5 Digital Trends to Watch

MDG Advertising ·29 March 2018
MDG Advertising's new infographic, Hospitality Marketing in 2018: 5 Digital Trends to Watch, reveals which trends and channels are worth watching this year. We examined an array of recent reports to determine the top five developments in hospitality marketing.Marketers who take note of travelers' ever-changing behaviors will see success in 2018 and beyond. Check out the full infographic to discover how these trends will influence your digital marketing strategy this year.

7 Tactics Every Digital Marketer Should Learn to Love in 2018 -

MDG Advertising ·13 February 2018
Committing to specific digital tactics can be difficult for marketers. There are so many different approaches that it can be tempting to continuously swipe left in search of something better.While there are quite a few bad matches out there, there also are some strategies and channels that are keepers. These approaches aren't perfect--some have even broken marketers' hearts in the past--but settling down with them can lead to something beautiful.Specifically, every digital marketer who wants to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts should learn to love these seven key tactics this year:

4 Steps to Unlocking the Real Power of Marketing Personalization [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·22 December 2016
Personalizing offerings and messaging presents an incredible opportunity for brands to engage consumers more effectively.Nearly three-quarters (74%) of web users say they're frustrated with sites that aren't tailored to their needs, 72% of consumers say they don't like generic marketing, and 58% of shoppers say they'd like companies to better focus their discount offers.Yet, despite this clear demand, most brands still feel their personalization efforts aren't connecting. In fact, one recent survey of marketers found that 60% say their organization struggles with the tactic.Why? The root cause is that many firms aren't delivering the personalized experiences that people truly want.To overcome this challenge, check out the new infographic, 4 Steps to Unlocking the Real Power of Marketing Personalization, which was developed by MDG Advertising. It highlights approaches that have helped our clients significantly improve their targeting strategies.The areas covered include:Smart vs. dumb tactics: Personalization means much more than simply including a name. Basic personalization has minimal impact on engagement; however, messages based on specific user actions have a 2X open rate and 3X click rate compared with standard emails. Learn how dynamic targeting is the real key to effective engagement.Single view of the customer: Consumers say the top benefits of personalization are fewer irrelevant ads/messages, quicker discovery of new products/services, and higher-quality shopping interactions. To deliver these experiences and harness the power of targeting you need rich, constantly updating consumer profiles. Discover why having a single view of the customer is the foundation for success.Data and systems: Personalization and data/systems aren't just linked, they're fundamentally intertwined. Of those marketers who say they don't personalize content, 59% say a major barrier is technology and 53% say they lack the right data. Explore how investing in the right platforms and people can pay off immensely.Transparency and security: People remain wary of personalization because they aren't sure how data is being used and stored. That's why control and security are so important. Some 60% of online users want to know how a website selects content personalized for them and 88% of consumers prefer to determine how their personal data will be used. Understand how to best address these concerns.To find out how to make the most of these tactics for your brand, check out 4 Steps to Unlocking the Real Power of Marketing Personalization.

[Infographic] Snapchat 101: What Brands Need to Know

MDG Advertising ·12 October 2016
for now.Snapchat has become the most important social network among teenagers.Teens' favorite social networks:Snapchat (28% rank #1)Instagram (27%)Twitter (18%)Facebook (17%)Tumblr (2%)Pinterest (2%)Among adults, Snapchat's user base also skews younger.Share of adults using Snapchat:Age 18-24: 69%Age 25-35: 18%Age 35+: 14%However, the fastest growing Snapchat audience is users over the age of 25.50%: Half of new Snapchat users are over the age of 25.2X: The growth rate of the 25+ audience is double that of the 25 and under audience.Key takeaway: Right now Snapchat is primarily used by consumers 25 and under. That said, adoption is quickly growing among older adults.3. Are most brands using it?Many brands still haven't taken the plunge and started using Snapchat for marketing purposes.5% of companies say they're currently using Snapchat as part of their marketing efforts.However, bands are curious about the service and many plan to start using it soon.16% of marketers say they plan on increasing their Snapchat activities in 2016.28% of marketers say they want to learn more about the platform.Key takeaway: One of the biggest barriers to adoption by brands is that many struggle to assess reach and engagement on Snapchat. This makes it hard to determine the ROI of investment.Marketers rank social networks by ROI:Facebook (96% see good ROI)Twitter (64%)Instagram (40%)LinkedIn (38%)Pinterest (10%)SlideShare (4%)Snapchat (2%)Key takeaway: Snapchat currently has relatively low usage among marketers. This seems to be changing, though, as the audience grows and the platform matures.4. What are brands doing on it?As with any social network, there are countless tactics marketers employ to reach consumers on Snapchat. That said, there are currently two primary ways brands are using the platform.1. Directly Interacting with FollowersMany marketers use the Chat and Story features to engage audiences either on their own or via influencers. Common approaches include:Giving audiences peeks behind-the-scenes.Sharing discounts and big announcements.Entertaining with fun, strange content pieces.2. Reaching Audiences Via Special Features and AdvertisingThe second major way that brands are using Snapchat to reach audiences is via the service's paid advertising features. The three main paid formats currently offered by Snapchat are:Snap Ads: Short, vertically oriented video ads run as part of other Snaps.Sponsored Geofilters: Overlays that appear when a Snap is taken in a certain location.Sponsored Lenses: Animated filters that appear over a user's face in a Snap.Key takeaway: While the platform can be a bit daunting to figure out at first, Snapchat already has a number of fun ways for brands to engage with audiences.5. Should your brand be using it?So, the big question: Is it time for your brand to dive in and start using Snapchat? The answer is: it depends.If you want to connect with a youthful audience, then you probably should be engaging on the platform.41% of all 18 to 34-year-olds living in the United States can be reached via Snapchat.The average user now spends an average of 25-30 minutes a day on Snapchat.Put simply: Younger consumers love Snapchat and they use it a lot, so it makes sense to engage them there.If your target demographic is older, and/or less tech savvy, then the situation is more complicated. Our advice for these brands is to wait and see; keep an eye on Snapchat--a very close eye--it could be essential to your business very soon.To understand how all this impacts your digital marketing efforts, check outSnapchat 101: What Brands Need to Know.

The 4 Keys to Creating Exceptional Travel Content in 2016 [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·15 August 2016
Why? Because online information and tools increasingly drive every major trip decision, from where travelers go, to how they book, and which businesses they visit while on the road.To better understand this shift, check out the new infographic, The 4 Keys to Creating Exceptional Travel Content in 2016, which was developed by MDG Advertising. It highlights key insights from a set of recent independent research reports.

Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Digital Trends [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·12 January 2016
Just as travelers plan their trips to make the most of their stays, travel marketing experts need to plan their digital budgets and strategies to make the most of their spend. But with a new year come new choices, channels, and chances for online success. To make the best digital decisions, travel marketers need to know the top trends, tech, and tactics that will matter to marketing in 2016. Rather than track down all of this data, your ticket to the latest travel insights is a fact-packed infographic created by MDG Advertising called Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Trends. It pinpoints the five key strategies for making the most of your travel marketing budget and business over the next 12 months. To arrive at the right budget decisions, check out this informative infographic.1. Spend on Your WebsiteInvesting in your website is one of the wisest decisions you can make. With more and more people looking and booking on travel brand websites than third-party sites, your website delivers the first impression of your travel brand. And an optimized, user-friendly website can create a lasting impression and drive visitors to book without a second thought. The infographic shows:67% of travelers think it's simpler to book on a travel brand website than a third-party site.Almost two-thirds of travelers think it's less expensive to book on a travel brand website.Top Takeaway: To make the most of this mindset, view your website as an important digital hub that gives online users everything they want and need.2. Optimize MobileMobile has become a must in people's lives, especially when researching and reserving travel. In 2016, even more travelers will be searching for travel online. According to the infographic, you can expect:49% increase in mobile search for hotels and cruises.47% rise in mobile search for car rentals and tours and attractions.Top Takeaway: To serve this mobile market, make sure that all of your digital offerings, experiences, and communications are optimized for every mobile device.3. Expect to Welcome More MillennialsMillennials already make up 40% of leisure travelers who book travel online. In 2016, their share of both the business and personal travel market will increase even more. To target these young adults, it's essential to understand that Millennials have specific travel tendencies, such as:They frequently book travel and share their experiences on mobile devices and digital platforms.They tend to extend and blend business trips into personal vacations.They spend more each day on trips than other age groups.Top Takeaway: Use these Millennial insights to develop your digital properties and target your online messages.4. Revisit ReviewsIn 2016, online reviews and review sites will matter more than ever to travelers. According to the infographic:64% of travelers visit travel review sites like TripAdvisor for vacation ideas.Almost half of travelers have been compelled to write a review after a travel experience.Top Takeaway: Since these reviews are so important, travel brands need to regularly revisit and review all guest reviews to learn what they liked and lacked in their experiences.5. Keep Your Eye on VideoDigital video is becoming more and more popular with travelers, especially on social networks. The infographic reveals these stunning statistics:Top Takeaway: In 2016, video is a vital investment that must be incorporated with social media to reach and resonate with travelers.

The State of the Internet 2015: Social Media Trends [Infographic]

MDG Advertising ·22 September 2015
As the infographic explains, there are five key social media trends marketers should be paying attention to. They are:1. Who rules the social media kingdom. A recent survey of marketers from around the world reveals that the top three social networks for engaging customers are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook nabs first place with an impressive 93% share of business. Twitter ranks second at 79%. And LinkedIn holds a strong third slot at 71%.2. Who's showing interest in Pinterest. It's no surprise that Pinterest has been gaining ground with women interested in beauty, food, and fashion. But what may be surprising is the number of men who are also using the platform. Pinterest has experienced a 96% growth in men's fashion pins and a phenomenal 118% increase in car and motorcycle pins.3. The type of post taking off on Facebook. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg predicted that the social site's news feed would become mostly video within five years. Looks like he may have overestimated the timeframe. Already, half of Facebook's daily active users watch at least one video each day. All total, Facebook garnered 4 billion video views per day in 1Q15. That's a whopping 1 billion increase over 3Q14.4. Social media gets serious about generating purchases. Although social media makes it easy to reach a promising market, convincing that market to buy has been somewhat of a struggle. To combat the problem, many social media networks are now integrating purchase buttons into their mobile ads. Specifically, Facebook offers a "Buy" button for sponsored posts. Google has introduced "Buy With Google" into its mobile apps. And Twitter now features a "Buy" button in its sponsored Tweets.5. Getting the message about messaging apps. Messaging apps are quickly gaining popularity in our increasingly mobile-first world, particularly among the young. They now comprise six of the top 10 most-used apps globally. WhatsApp ranks number two, right after Facebook. Facebook Messenger comes in at number three.These are just a few of the latest trends shaping the social media landscape. View all the statistics in MDG's fact-filled infographic below.


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