What started as a few Facebook ads for Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies became something so much bigger. Northeastern CPS’ entire strategy depends on lead generation. So in addition to advertising in targeted verticals, we recommended using some newer tools to generate leads and hyper target based on the individual programs. In order to do so, we created best practice document after document. We made a case to go paid social. And it “paid” off!
In a recent post, I introduced the reasons why LinkedIn Publisher & Pulse should be a part of your 2015 content marketing strategy. Once you’ve got great content and you’ve decided to leverage LinkedIn Publisher, though, you need a few rules of the road to help get maximum impact. Because who wants to spend all that time on a great article, if no one sees it?
10 LinkedIn Publisher Best Practices for Maximum Impact:
- Take it personally. Brands can’t publish posts for a reason. It’s about individuals and individual expertise and influence. So, if you’re developing a content plan for a brand, consider who would be the best social advocates to set up to use LinkedIn Publisher on the brand’s behalf. It’s a win/win situation, because it’s extra exposure for the individual and the company. But this means that every post must have a personality that’s authentic to the individual. And the content posted should make sense for his or her own unique experience. The more personal the post, the more it will resonate. People can see through BS, so you (or your social advocates) must stand behind each article, as much you stand behind the experience listed in your LinkedIn profile.
- Tailored Approach. You know your LinkedIn network better than anyone else. Are you connected with mostly B2B PR professionals? CEO’s? Up & coming professionals? Maximize the relevancy & share-worthiness of your posts by staying on top of what the majority of your network is interested in, and giving it to them. And, if you’re re-posting something you wrote for your corporate blog, be sure to tailor it for your network (if it differs).
- Responding. Insert “preach-it” mode here. The reason social networks are called social networks is because they’re networks made for being social. Nothing you ever post should be with a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. The whole purpose is to interact. Every time you publish an article on LinkedIn, there’s another opportunity to make a real connection with someone based on their comments or questions on your post. Respond like you’re having an actual live conversation, use the other person’s name, and pretend to look in their eyes if you have to. Avoid, at all costs, canned responses which defeat the purpose of a response in the first place. If the answer is longer than a few sentences, suggest getting together or having a phone call to discuss. Who knows how helping someone out today could come back to you tomorrow…maybe in a new biz lead!
- Legit Content. As mentioned above, this is a professional network. This doesn’t mean you have to be bland – there’s certainly room to be quirky, funny, spirited and passionate. But, if you want people to take you seriously, you need to provide value in the form of real, legitimate information, insight and opinions that make sense in today’s world. And, proofread. Grammar and spelling errors are a huge turnoff.
- Post Frequently. Post often. The more you post, the more engaged your network will become in your content. And, the more you post, the higher your profile will rank in LinkedIn’s search results. So maximize viewership by simply being consistent.
- Think about Timing. Practically half of our Boston office comes in from outside of the city, so we find that posting on LinkedIn Publisher in the mornings and early evenings is the best time to engage with our audience – commuters are literally looking for content to keep them busy.
- Imagery. Images make your post come to life and attract eyeballs, and LinkedIn Publisher allows you to insert videos, charts, images and infographics into the body of your post, as well as in a header image. Think outside of the box when choosing an image, too. The more it stands out for being a little unusual, the more likely you are to get views. I recently posted a blog about Facebook with a picture of a bear. Yes, a grizzly bear. It’s been my best performing post to date.
- Links. Where the magic happens. Use LinkedIn as a referrer to your company blog or website. And I don’t mean by posting a short-form version of the blog and making readers leave LinkedIn to read it somewhere else. You can do that, but it provides an annoying user experience! Give users an opportunity to check out your site for additional information or other blog posts about the topic, or provide your contact information at the bottom of the post. These are ways to easily prove the worth of what you’re doing. But believe me, when your exec sees that your LinkedIn article made it to the front page of LinkedIn Pulse, you’ve got all the proof you need.
- Branding. If you’re posting on behalf of your company in some fashion, consider including some sort of branded element, either on your LinkedIn profile or your post itself (or both). Including an email signature-type image at the bottom of your post with a link back to your company blog or website is a great way to accomplish this. Or you can add your brand’s logo to the header image of your post. The goal is to associate your expertise with your company’s expertise.
- Share It. Okay this might be obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many people create amazing content and then forget to share it with people. Obviously using your other channels (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn status update) is a great way to get extra eyeballs. But have you considered emailing current or prospective clients, coworkers, etc.? If you’re not excited about your post, no one else will be. For instance, we’ve had a few clients ask us about LinkedIn Pulse before. Wouldn’t we be remiss if we didn’t email them and say, “hey – remember that convo we had about LinkedIn Pulse? <Insert Blog Here> Thought you’d find this helpful! Reach out with any questions.”
With these best practices in your back pocket you’re ready to starting LinkedIn Publishing!!
Quick How-to on actually publishing your first LinkedIn article:
Then, click on the little yellow box in the top right corner that reads “Write New Post.”
Once you’ve create one post, you can then view, edit and create more posts on your LinkedIn Profile page, they’ll appear right underneath your contact information.
When you click on the “Write New Post” button, you’ll be taken to a page where you can write a new one, edit an old one, etc.
I’ve heard it time and time again from clients, and I’ve even considered it myself, what’s the ROI of this blog post? Is it worth the time creating it, when I could be finishing my laundry? And while we’re all trying new innovative ways to drive traffic to our blog in order to answer this question, we’re finding that the number of blog views isn’t always the best indicator for success, (nor is leads generated).
Rather it’s the quality of the people who read it, the impressions they’ve drawn and their importance to you or your company. And, we get it, more traffic increases the likelihood of getting quality views. But, really, it only takes one important prospect reading your post to justify its ROI. So how do you ensure that both important and relevant people read your blog post? Two answers: LinkedIn Pulse & Publisher.
LinkedIn Pulse has been around since earlier this year, and it recently opened up its Publisher tool to everyone. Now there have always been concerns about LinkedIn’s actual relevance for marketers – LinkedIn’s UX has taken more than one attack, LinkedIn Groups are a bit lackluster when it comes to providing genuine engagement, and many see the network solely as a recruiting and job searching tool – however, with LinkedIn Pulse and the new Publisher tool, LinkedIn has moved to the top of our must-use content marketing tools list. Here’s why:
- Exponentially Increase Impressions. As with any social network, your content has the ability to increase exponentially based on the size of your network and extended network. As you publish blog posts via LinkedIn Publisher, your network receives updates in their LinkedIn feeds about your posts. As they begin to share this content, people in their networks will then see your content as well.
- Hyper Relevance. Your network of LinkedIn connections likely includes former classmates, colleagues, clients (new and old) and industry-related professionals that you’ve met meaning that they’re predisposed to either be invested in or interested in the content you create.
- Showcase your expertise. Blogs published via LinkedIn Publisher also get posted to your LinkedIn profile. Consider the new business prospect you just Linked in with. He or she will not only know who you are and your experience, but he will also be able to see all of your thought leadership in the form of blog posts. A powerful tool to showcase your knowledge as well as your company’s expertise.
- Enhance your LinkedIn profile & LEO (LinkedIn Engine Optimization). By publishing, not only are you upping the ante on your profile, but as with SEO, the more you post on LinkedIn, the more eyeballs your posts and profile will receive – we like to refer to this as LEO. The more eyeballs, the more opportunities to connect and engage with leads.
- Ease of Sharing. LinkedIn may not win any UX awards any time soon, but it does make sharing very, very easy. Though easy sharing has become standard practice, we’ve actually found that our posts are more likely to get shared on Twitter when they’re posted via LinkedIn Publisher, than when we post them to our blog alone. So there must be something special about LinkedIn’s sharing experience.
- Ongoing Engagement & Optimization. Once your post is seen, users can easily follow you on LinkedIn Pulse so that each new post you share gets automatically shared with them, and also raised to the top of their LinkedIn feed. Users with the LinkedIn Pulse App will also get push notifications on their phones about any new posts. This speeds up your ability to notice which blogs resonate with the majority of your network, allowing you to tailor posts moving forward based on what gets shared most often.
- Opportunity for Super Stardom. Okay, well you may not be a super star over night, but if your LinkedIn post gets enough views, it could get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse and re-posted under a particular category (like social media, marketing, etc.). LinkedIn Pulse curates the top articles to show to each individual user based on their interests, so once placed in a category, your post can then be viewed by even more people who will find it interesting, giving you the potential to connect with new contacts or new biz leads. If your blog is amazing, it could even get posted in the Pulse’s “Top Posts” section and viewed on the front page of Pulse. Content marketing gold.
- Knowledge of the “Who.” This might be the most important element. Not only are the people who see your post more likely to read it and share it, but you’ll know exactly who shares and comments on it, including a link to their LinkedIn profile. This is the piece of the puzzle missing on traditional blogging platforms, because people often use aliases or different usernames. But with LinkedIn, you know exactly who that person is, their name, their profession, where they’ve worked, etc, in order to reach out to them in a meaningful way.
So, now that you’re convinced. How should you get started and what are the best practices for using LinkedIn publisher? I’ve got that covered – 10 Best Practices for Maximum Impact with LinkedIn Publisher.
Times are changin’ – literally and figuratively. Yes, we’re moving into 2015, switching over our calendars and preparing ourselves for another countdown. But the countdown we should really be paying attention to is the countdown to a very, very new Facebook (at least where marketers are concerned).
We’ve talked about this before – organic reach on Facebook (and soon other networks) has already decreased for most brands. But in January, Facebook plans to make an even more substantial change to its algorithm (not EdgeRank anymore), significantly decreasing organic reach for any Facebook content that is deemed as promotional in any way. If it looks like an ad, smells like an ad, reads like an ad, you’ll have to pay to ensure that users see it starting in January 2015.
Here’s the deal. Facebook reports that an average of 1,500 stories are generated each time someone logs in. Of those, a user’s Newsfeed only displays around 300. And its algorithm is the deciding factor as to which stories you see – it filters based on factors relative to what each user likes, their clicks, articles they’ve commented on, etc.
And recently, via a user experience survey, Facebook found that users wanted to see more stories from friends & pages they care about, and less promotional content. This didn’t mean ads, though. This meant salesy posts from the pages users already “Like.” So in response to this, Facebook has rejiggered their algorithm to filter out any “overly promotional page posts.”
Facebook constantly makes updates to its algorithm, however this recent change is one of the most substantial updates they’ve made so far. In effect, Facebook is forcing marketers who often use the network as a means of promoting their contests, new products and events, to spend money on ads, if they want these messages to be seen (even by their existing followers).
And, not only does Facebook want to control how & how many promotional messages users see, but they also want to control who sees them. If someone is going to see a promotional message, Facebook wants to make sure that it’s marked as such AND that it’s shown only to users who will find it highly relevant. And the only way to do that, is by paying for an ad and selecting a very specific target audience. In theory, the more hyper targeted your ad’s audience, the more relevant the ad creative can be, the higher the engagement rate, and the more satisfied Facebook users will be.
This is certainly great from a UX perspective. But for marketers, this means more money, more creativity and, our favorite, more time. And we’re a little suspicious of Facebook’s actual motives i.e. Facebook is likely looking to get rich quick (or wait, have they already done that?).
Okay, so what’s all of this mean for YOU?
- Take a deep breath.
- You need a budget. No matter what you have planned for the next year on Facebook, if an ad budget isn’t a part of that plan, you need to start over. Facebook ads are no longer an option, they’re a requirement, especially if you want to increase your reach and amplify your promotional messages. Remember, if your post has any of the following involved it MUST be posted as an ad: contests, events, product-heavy, “buy this.” The specifics are outlined here.
- Get creative with your organic posts. You can’t post about a gift card sale. You can’t post about an event. You have to add value to people’s lives in some way. You have to provide quality content that’s creative, that makes people stop & think, and then share.
- Be relevant. If you want to increase your organic reach, you must increase your engagement rates. What’s the best way to do that? Talk about what matters. Have a point of view about trending topics and always think about what’s going on seasonally, and personally for your community.
- Measure. If you’re not already tracking your social metrics, get on it. You’ll need to ensure that both your organic posts and paid ads receive high engagement rates. Because this will be one of the biggest factors determining whether users will see either type of post. Now, you not only need to spend more money with Facebook ads, but you also need to spend more money reporting out on organic and paid content.
- Optimize. And what should you do with those reports? Use them as the basis for continual optimization. Use the insights to discover which content is best performing and replicate it. Do A/B tests with your paid ads to determine what’s going wrong with the ads that receive low engagement rates – is the creative off or is your targeting off? Or both?
This is a lot to take in. Facebook and the constantly changing world of social media can be a bear. Fortunately brands who are already leveraging paid social will have a little easier time making this transition. They’ll just need to review their ad creative and optimize for the highest engagement rates and be sure not to post any ads to their wall as organic posts.
But for marketers who have yet to explore the world of Facebook advertising, this may take some ramp up time and potentially some consultation with someone who knows the ins and outs of paid social.
Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2014? It seems like a minute ago we were planning for a long Summer and now, here we are, well in the midst of FY2015 planning.
Arguably the hardest time to plan for the new year is toward the end of the year before. It’s the holidays, people are out, people are sick (crossing fingers!), and budgets are like mythical creatures looking for confirmation they exist.
With all that, the question quickly turns to, “How can you make a lull period a super productive period?” Our recommendation: A Social Media Audit. We specifically recommend taking this time to do a little dirty work for the greater good of your social strategy.
We see far too many brands moving forward with fresh social campaigns that are grounded in nothing more than their own experiences OR (and arguably worse) their campaigns are exact replicas of a competitor’s strategy. And while it’s exciting to embark on anything new in the digital space, often the post-campaign reports that correspond with these efforts are less than scientific:
“We got more followers!”
“People really liked what we did!”
The key to making a social media audit an effective use of your marketing budget is to make it useful and actionable. So many times we see companies develop audits but then never do anything with the results from the audit itself. That may satisfy someone’s curiosity, but it won’t do much more.
So, if you want a report with actionable insights and a strategy grounded in research that really resonates with your audience, you need to do a social media audit right.
To ensure success, the components of an audit should vary slightly based on your own 2015 goals, but there are 7 elements that make for a truly actionable social media audit:
- Identify Competitors - This step may seem obvious, but while you may already have a good perspective as to who your competitors are, they may vary a bit in the digital space. We like to use a little SEO mastery to discover which companies are leveraging the same search keywords as our clients and include any of the top players as a part of our audit.
- Examine and Rank Competitors’ Social Media Efforts – The best way to inform this section of your audit is to do a little research into the social networks that are most relevant for your target audience. These habits will help inform a score card approach to guide your competitor analysis. Basically, it allows you to create a weighted scale (giving more weight to the social networks used most often by our client’s target audience), and score a company and their competitors across each network. In addition to baseline ratings to give you a first and last place for each network and overall, this section should include anecdotal information on how each competitor is approaching each particular network, how often they’re posting and what they’re posting about.
- Analyze Social Media Landscape as a Whole – Compare your brand to what we refer to as the “landscape average,” meaning the average amount of followers, posts or engagement experienced across all of your competitors. This will tell you how your follower counts, post cadence and engagement rates line up.
- Evaluate Top Content – Determine which content receives the highest engagement rates across the board and which content resonates most often with the entire landscape of followers.
- Analyze Audience Engagement & Influencers – Audits should include a high level glimpse at the types of followers each competitor has individually, as well as a
holistic view of the types of followers and influencers that exist across the entire landscape. Often, we like to perform a “follower overlap analysis” to determine how similar our client’s followers are to their competitors’ followers.
- Provide Insight Into Competitors’ Social/Content Strategy – A really excellent audit always includes a little background into competitor strategies. Basically, based on what they’re posting on each channel, what can we surmise is their overall approach?
- Provide Opportunity & Gap Analysis – Finally, what does all of this mean? The part of the social media audit that makes it truly actionable are the insights and intuitions drawn from all of the data. Where are there gaps left by competitors in terms of thought leadership and customer service that your brand can fill? Where are your opportunities to improve? Take this section and run with your social strategy.
Together, these seven components will help arm your team with the information it needs to develop a social strategy for the coming year – or even just the next quarter. And this also serves as a nice benchmark report to draw comparisons over time and to discover how your brand is improving (hopefully!) versus the rate at which your competitors might be improving.
Now, go forth and audit. And, of course, if you’re interested, we can help!
There are quite a few ways we like to think about how Thanksgiving began. Some versions are warm and fuzzy. Others are down right disappointing. Regardless of what you believe, or choose to believe, or choose to disregard, it’s what Thanksgiving is about now that’s most relevant.
For many of us the holiday is symbolic of our human need for community. Our need for human interaction and celebration, with a little sustenance thrown in for good measure.
I remember when Thanksgiving really was just that. A day full of cooking, laughter, hugs, watching the Macy’s parade, watching football, sleeping, eating, eating again – We’re sure you all know the drill. It all revolved around not just being together, but also being present.
But in today’s modern world Thanksgiving has become very, very different. Not necessarily for better or for worse. Just different.
We’re all there, but are we really all present?
Now that we have cell phones, well mini wifi-enabled computers, we’re hyper in touch with the digispace, but sort of out of touch with face-to-face. We know we rely on our phones to get us through the day. We pull it out to get a recipe. We may pull it out to tweet a #turkeyselfie, facebook, or google search to end an argument. We pull it out to constantly refresh our inboxes, check in on work projects, and worst of all, to shop (no more waiting for Black Friday, the deals start on Thanksgiving day people!).
It’s a lot. It’s so useful. So functional. And it has certainly made Thanksgiving dishes substantially better (TY Food & Wine app!). In fact, 44% of recipe searches came from mobile on Thanksgiving Day last year, and it’s already trending higher this year.
But, I still find myself thinking about the Thanksgivings we enjoyed pre-smartphone. Somehow I wasn’t bored, the food tasted just as good, and I felt relaxed. I have very vivid memories of live conversations, endless games of pass the pigs, and “accidentally” adding too much rum to the rum bread pudding.
So…what would it mean if we got rid of our smart devices for the day? If we turned off our phones <gasp>, turning down our digital connection and turning up our in-person, in-the-moment connection?
I’m not sure how it’s going to go folks, but I’m doing it. And I’m challenging you to do it too.
Tell me how it goes (the day after obviously!) with #TurnDownForTurkey!
Recently I saw yet another case of a social media “campaign” campaigning for something completely the opposite of its original intention.
Dr. Oz’s social media team set out to solicit health questions from his 3.58M followers. An idea that seems harmless, well helpful really.
And it was helpful…for some.
But for most…it was just humorous…
Long story short, it got a little out of hand.
And there are plenty, plenty more.
Now, I’m not here to re-hash the Dr.Oz story. But I am here to ask, was this preventable? And if not, what does that mean for social engagement strategies? And, how do you respond when your hashtag is taken over?
Those are some pretty lofty questions. But in my experience, I’ve found that honesty, trust, and transparency are the keys to getting through or preventing something like this from happening. It’s happened before (remember Bill Cosby Memes gone wrong?) and it will happen again.
And this is precisely what scares big and small brands alike from trying to actively engage with people on Twitter. The problem is, interaction is what Twitter is meant for. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go through it. It’s the only way to get to the other side of the Twitter success and karmic bliss.
There will always be risk. But there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk:
RULE #1: NEVER IGNORE & ALWAYS PARTICIPATE
Check out Dr.Oz’s Twitter feed. There is nothing, nada, zilch in response to this hashtag takeover. If you’re going to be on Twitter, you have to actively participate. You can’t ignore conversations, and you especially can’t ignore the 254 tweets (according to Topsy) that you solicited with your ostensible “Q&A.” Let’s face it, there’s no “A” happening here, except for the “A” that stands for “Avoidance.” So, responding is a must. And when you do…
RULE #2: BE HONEST & PROACTIVE
The collective vent session via #OzInbox is the result of quite a few publicly harmful tidbits provided by a licensed doctor. Something Dr. Oz has never spoken out to apologize for or even defend. We get it…Things happen. You will say things that wish you had never said or things that will come back to bite you (and probably somewhere you really, really don’t want to be bitten). If you don’t proactively nip this kind of stuff in the bud by giving your own HONEST and transparent response, then when your attempt at engaging via a Q&A will likely garner the same results as Dr.Oz’s. People will use it as a chance to converse with you finally. And this conversation will, most likely, not be good. Consider the Renee Zellwiger new face controversy a few weeks ago. Twitter was abuzz about her supposed plastic surgery and her response was perfect. What happened after? People gave her kudos and moved on.
RULE #3: FOSTER CONVERSATION AS A HABIT, NOT AS A ONE-OFF.
It’s disingenuous to begin a conversation for the sake of engagement, with no intention of actually engaging. You can’t post a Q&A that sits among several other auto-scheduled tweets. If you are going to participate on Twitter, make sure you participate as often as possible. As often as regulations allow. And, as often as the industry demands. If not, when do you post a question, it will seem coerced – like something your social team developed, without fully thinking it through. And that’s frustrating to everyone, not just social media nerds like me.
RULE #4: BE READY.
No matter what the conversation is that you’re trying to start or be a part of, be ready for anything. Have responses ready. Know your brand personality and use that to drive how you participate in the conversation and how you might respond to any negativity. Check out Taco Bell for instance. Its brand personality is snarky. So it tweets that way and it responds to conversations and mentions whether they’re positive or not:
Now, not all brands can be Taco Bell. But they can be creative and true to their brand. If that means needing to create conversation guidelines and examples, do it. If that means having one creative and conscientious person man your feed, than do it. This is how you prevent negativity and come out on top.
The morale of the story is this: the only way to prevent negativity is to be there and be prepared, always. And to recognize that when you’re playing in the conversational, two-way, two-to-many world that social media has created, you have to have to have to interact and you have to expect the unexpected. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.
How do you plan for Twitter crises or foster engagement on Twitter?
Though paid social has been around for a while, right now we’re experiencing a real boom in its global acceptance across industries. It may be the shiny, new ad products or (and more likely), it’s because we’re finding that paid social ads work, especially Twitter ads.
There’s a whole army of social ad types including: LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Promoted Facebook Posts, YouTube Video ads and Twitter Promoted Tweets (Instagram ads are in the pipeline as well as Promoted Pins on Pinterest & Promoted blogs on Tumblr). However, as is often the case, with more options comes greater confusion, which can ultimately paralyze a brand from using any paid social at all. Or worse, to use some paid social haphazardly without reaping the full benefits. Which is why we’ve been getting more and more inquiries from our clients about how best to leverage paid social.
Choosing a social ad type should depend on the answers to the following questions: Where’s your target audience? How do you want to engage with them? What are your goals?
Because of its ubiquity and conversational manner, we are actually pretty partial to Twitter’s ads products. And there’s one more important reason we include them in our recommendations: Promoted Tweets are actually proven to convert more prospects than organic tweets - yep, Twitter ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users (Convertro 2014).
Why is this? Twitter has a unique combination of targeting, timing, and ad unit options that are both engaging and effective.
In addition to the normal demographic, location and device-based advertising, when we target with Twitter, we’re also able to use strong relational and interest-based targeting. We’re able to target users based on hashtags, interest categories, the Twitter handles they follow, etc. We can even upload our own list of prospects to either include OR (and this is new) exclude. And, if you use Sysomos or SimplyMeasured, you’ll soon be able to target users by the specific keywords in their Twitter bios or based on things they’ve tweeted about in the past 30 days. So as long as you’re smart about what you advertise, to who and when, you can easily create something very relevant using Twitter.
This is especially so, because of the amount of ad units available. Twitter gets it. They know brands need to be able to justify media spends with clear metrics. Depending on your objective, you can usually find a Twitter ad unit that allows you to reach a goal AND to engage–convert & converse! And isn’t this nice – we’re here to help you navigate through them. Here are a few of Twitter’s ad types and best practices:
If a brand is looking to engage with its target audience, increase its followers, and create a conversation, Promoted Tweets are the way to go. These tweets appear in a user’s timeline, in search results or in a user’s Hootsuite dashboard, and can contain images or links. The best way to use them is by including great stats, quotes, promoting new blogs or articles you’ve created, or simply by participating in a Twitter chat.
An offshoot of the Promoted Tweet, Promoted Account ads allow brands to get their Twitter handle in front of a specific target audience AND, in conjunction with a tweet, make a case for why a user should follow them. Users see these ads in the “Who to Follow” area and the tweet appears in their timelines. Promoted Account ads are very successful when done alongside traditional Promoted Tweet campaigns and really do result in high new follower counts. The catch? You have to engage with those new followers ASAP. Give them content they want to consume, or you’re very likely to drop off their radar.
Lead Gen Cards/Website Cards
Oh how we love Twitter Cards! Introduced a little over a year ago, Twitter’s Lead Gen Cards allow advertisers to showcase an offer, a piece of content, a registration, really anything in exchange for that user’s information. And it all happens with the click of a button. Lead Gen Cards appear as a link within a tweet and upon click, expand into a user’s timeline. Once a user clicks to claim your offer or read your white paper, Twitter automatically collects and provides their twitter handle, name and email address. You can even have this information automatically imported into your CRM so that you can follow up with an email. Post-click users are then directed to a custom landing page of your choice.
When to use these? Well if your goal is to generate leads it’s an obvious choice. But it’s also great if you have pieces of content you know your target audience would love to read OR if you have a great discount to promo.
Recently, Twitter also unveiled Website Cards, which are similar to Lead Gen Cards, except the offer is always your website or landing page. Good to use if you have a game or something experiential on your landing page to provide users.
Still in beta, Twitter’s Promoted Video ads will be available as a self serve option for all brands soon. These are done on a cost-per-view model (vs. cost-per-enagement for the other ad units) and streamlines video playback with a one-tap viewing experience. These ads create an even richer sense of engagement with your target audience. An average Promoted Tweet costs anywhere from $1.50-$3.00 (depending on audience size). So if Promoted Videos stick to the standard, brands could also use these as a way to test out various videos before launching with larger online video or even TV strategies.
Last, and most expensive, is the Promoted Trend. This was Twitter’s earliest ad unit, as it places your hashtag in user’s trending topics area. However, from our experience promoting a trend for just one day can cost you $15,000! And you would be remiss if you promoted a trend without using Promoted Tweets and Promoted Account ads in conjunction. So, you’re likely going to exceed $20,000 for just one day of exposure. And you have no control over the other trending topics your hashtag might be showcased alongside.
However, if you’re looking for mass exposure, Promoted Trends are the way to go. These are great when used to enhance other large PR announcements to exponentially increase impressions and awareness of this news.
For more information about Twitter’s ad units or other paid social media efforts, feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.
(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)
Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:
- The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
- The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.
But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.
Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.
After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.
The answer: dollars.
Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.
The good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.
So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?
How many apps does it take to post one picture to Instagram?
Actually, with the recent launch of Hyperlapse, the question should probably be:
“How many apps does it take to post one video to Instagram?”
The answer: more than one.
Hyperlapse, the newest social media one-hit-wonder, is an app that helps shaky cam holders stabilize their videos and allows average users to create time lapse videos. Hold applause.
It’s an amazing app. Believe me, I’ve played around with it already:
But, do we really need another app?
Don’t forget that to post images on Instagram, people are already going to some “extreme” lengths. For example, want to combine multiple images? There’s an app for that (well lots of apps for that). Want to “re-gram” an image posted by another user? There’s an app for that. Want to create a time lapse video? There’s another app for that, too.
And now, instead of incorporating these already-existent technologies and this amazing new video technology into its native platform, Instagram has added to the app-mania with yet another step for users to take pre-post.
Maybe Instagram has taken a little advice from its parent, Facebook, which just launched a new messenger app, separate from the normal mobile Facebook experience. And we can’t forget about Paper, the Facebook stories app that launched and then…wait, what happened to it?
And then there’s Vine, which just made some major updates to its video capabilities – namely adding the ability to import multiple videos to one Vine. A capability Instagram doesn’t currently have.
So, with the mega-millions of apps, how do we, as advertising and PR pros, decide which ones will stick? And more, how do brands decide which new apps to leverage – considering that the quicker you are to the game, the greater your potential following usually becomes.
Experience and intuition.
We’ve experienced the hype associated with google plus (which still exists, but for very different reasons other than traditional user engagement) and we know not to trust everything that’s shiny and new in the digital space.
We trust our intuitions and consider the app-implications (excuse the play on words). Will the masses use it? Maybe not. Will professional bloggers, videographers, agencies, big brands, foodies, fashionistas, who care first and foremost about quality, use Hyperlapse? You bet.
As for brands, trust your gut. Think about whether you have the resources (internally or via an agency) to experiment and to add another step to your posting process. Or at base line, determine if you have enough storage available (GB) for yet another app! If the answer to all is yes, then go for it. Just make sure to download the correct app…you wouldn’t want to pay $0.99 to download the Hyperlapse app by Google.
Have/Will you download Hyperlapse? Tell us why…
Incorporating social media into your nonprofit event, or any event for that matter, is a great way to build relationships with your audience in a comfortable format. It’s also a great way to ramp up an event and keep the conversations alive after everyone goes home.
But, being truly engaging with live events means more than slapping a hashtag on an invite. In order to really get the most out of your event, and to encourage conversations and excitement among attendees, there are a few things to consider:
- Check Your Internet Connection – First and foremost, before you plan any social engagement around your event, you MUST double check with your event site to make 100% sure that you’ll have access to wireless internet and that your guests will either have the same access, or will be able to utilize their cell data plans. If you wont, you’ll need to check for hotspots or create an engagement strategy that doesn’t rely on live tweeting or uploading as the event occurs. Also be sure to test the connection the day of the event.
- Social Feed Display – One of the best ways to encourage interaction among your attendees is with the promise of visuals. We’re all narcissists at heart, we’re much more likely to contribute to the conversation if we know our tweet or post will make it to a feed the entire conference can see. Not to mention, that dedicating screens to showcase social activity is also a subtle reminder to guests about your social networks and their opportunity to connect with your brand. We recommend using Tint, as it has the ability to pull in social data from several different networks and to create an appealing visual presence.
- Really Go for it – If you really want to leverage social during your event, try to think about ways to incorporate it into your program or make it central to what you’ve already planned. Along with a great team, I recently created a whole segment based on live Twitter questions, that not only inspired greater conversation, but gave the whole night a much more interactive feel. Check it out.
- Schedule in Advance – Even though your plan may be to generate content as the event goes on, you’ll get way behind if you haven’t considered the kinds of content you’ll want to share in advance. We like to generate sample tweets and posts (based on the event’s program) that are either scheduled in Hootesuite or saved as drafts in Twitter. This way you can make small changes, add live photos and then push live on your schedule, without feeling constantly behind everything that’s happening.
- Take Advantage of Pre-Planned Events – Events can be crazy! There are usually more than several compounding elements happening all at once and, unless you have a team of 50, it’s hard to cover everything from the perfect angle (photo-wise and quote-wise). So take advantage of any event dress rehearsals or pre-planned events in which you may be able to snap higher quality images or predict what content you’ll want to share. That way you’ll have a database of great content to pull from on the fly.
- FYI to Followers – If you do plan on live tweeting, be sure to let your current followers know that you’ll be tweeting or posting more regularly. Otherwise you can risk annoying or alienating followers who aren’t used to you posting as often.
- Scope out Influencers and Attendees – Either in your registration process or right before the event, do your best to figure out who is likely to be tweeting & generating content during the event. It’s not uncommon for attendees to forget to use your promoted hashtag, so making a Twitter list or stream in Hootesuite of these influencers will allow you to engage with them no matter what hashtag they use (or don’t use). Not only can you engage with them at the event, but you can encourage their participation by welcoming them to the event before they tweet.
- Hashtagging – Create a hashtag that works easily within sentences or is pretty short so that attendees are able to fit it their statement and the hashtag into the very strict, 140-character limitations. Try to chose something memorable and can be leveraged again and again.
- Follow the “WWYS” principle – When you’re deciding what to share throughout the night, think: What Would You Share? Unless your strategy is to tweet every word (which it shouldn’t be), you need to be sensitive about how much content you decide to post within your time frame. Because of this, you need to choose the quotes, images, and elements you share carefully. Be sure to share things that are memorable, give a human element to the event, and that others can relate to.
- Be present! It’s easy to get sucked into the small things while an event is happening, whether it’s responding to attendees tweets or making sure you get every word of a quote correct for a tweet. But all of that is irrelevant if you’re not able to accurately reflect the vibe and tone of the event. Instead of making sure to share the video that played at the event, make sure you watch along with the audience and pay attention to how they respond. You need to attend the event with everyone. This will ensure that all your content is on point and, at the end, you’ll know that you captured the event adequately.
- Be Relevant & Evoke Emotion- This is especially true in the nonprofit world. No matter what you share, be sure there’s some emotion tied to it. Tweeting straight facts and figures alone is boring unless you compare it to something that makes sense to the audience. For instance, if you’re talking about childhood hunger, give statistics around how many children are at-risk of hunger in the town in which the even is held.
- Calls to Conversation - Yes, you want to include calls to action (see #13), but you also want to encourage conversation. Give your audience ways to talk amongst each other and with you before, during & after the event with Twitter chats, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. that allow people continue interacting post-event.
- Save calls-to-action & RT-type Posts for Meal Times or Breaks – A good way to encourage participation among people who aren’t usually socially savvy, is to create posts that are easily re-tweetable or that have calls to action within them. But many events will schedule or post this content at inconvenient times for their attendees. To increase engagement rates, consider when there will be the most down time for your guests and schedule that type of content then.
- Consider the Virtual Attendee – With every piece of content you share, make sure you add enough context that users who aren’t at the physical event can understand and participate. Believe me, people will be curious as to why you’re posting more often, so give them a reason to follow the conversation.
- Tweet Afterward – No matter how late event your ends, it’s a good idea to continue posting content and engaging with your audience afterward. Most people don’t go to bed right away, they need unwinding time, or “networking time” aka post-event drinks. So keep that night’s engagement going, or give them ways to keep the conversation going themselves.
What are some of your must-do’s for live events?
Considering the videos you watch on YouTube, you might not think that it’s the right place for B2B companies to communicate. Isn’t it for videos of cute kittens and babies? But as online video consumption increases, YouTube is becoming a top online destination for everyone, including the B2B industry. Increasingly, video is proving it can engage users much more than any other medium, no matter who they are.
Why should B2B marketers use YouTube?
YouTube has evolved over the years from a novelty into a mainstream method for executives to receive business information. In fact 75% of executives watch work-related videos each week (Forbes Insights). Studies show that decision-makers increasingly want to watch, not read.
You can probably draw from your own experience. How many times have you reverted to YouTube to learn more about a company ? Or to learn more about some business-related subject matter?
B2B companies often have involved concepts and processes that are hard to explain with text. A dynamic video can explain these much more efficiently and in a more captivating way than a long text-filled web page.
Not only will executives appreciate the brevity and ease of a video that can spark their interest, but they’re also apt to share it with their colleagues. Younger execs, in particular, are more inclined not only to view video but to also create and share it over the business-oriented social web. The more your videos are shared, the greater the likelihood that other people will watch it.
If we haven’t given you reason enough to consider YouTube as part of your B2B marketing strategy consider this:
Studies show that people who have seen a video are more likely to convert to a lead.
So, YouTube is not only helping B2B marketers build incremental reach among decision makers, but it’s also helping to engage and convert them. All in all, YouTube is helping B2B organizations sustain long-term customer relationships and carve out potential leads.
Using YouTube has a few other added bonuses:
- YouTube improves a brand’s SEO and natural search rankings. Because Google knows that people prefer videos, a keyword-titled video shows up in search results much more often than a written post. In fact, videos attract 300% more traffic than a plain-text article, according to Marketing Sherpa.
- On YouTube people are able to leave comments, creating an even stronger bond between them and your brand.
- YouTube provides comprehensive reporting and analytics to track your efforts, so that you can be absolutely sure you’re creating the right content for your target.
How to properly take advantage of YouTube & video marketing for your organization?
B2B marketers who use YouTube can increase awareness and preference, demonstrate products, share knowledge, and put a likeable, human face on their company, but it takes a sound strategy in order to do this. This strategy is built by learning what information and content your current and prospective clients are looking for and what they want to know about you. American Express has done a wonderful job leveraging YouTube for their B2B communication needs: Amex Open Forum.
Craving more information? Leave a comment below with your questions or email email@example.com for more specific strategic approaches to YouTube as well as information about YouTube advertising!
The first time I heard the term “second-screen viewing” or “second-screen viewer,” I rolled my eyes. Hello…we have been watching TV and eating, reading, doing homework, “studying,” emailing with clients, etc. for as long as the TV tray has existed.
But what we haven’t experienced for decades is the ability to track what viewers are doing while they’re watching. Are they playing Candy Crush and sort-of watching CSI or are they watching The Voice and following the singers virtually as they sing on screen? In other words, are they tuned out or hyper tuned in?
But just how much second screen viewing is actually happening and what’s the potential for second screen engagement?
In 2012, Nielsen reported that 40% of smartphone and tablet owners used their devices while watching TV. In just 2 years, that number has increased to 80 percent! So as advertisers and “official engagement engineers,” how do we capitalize on this?
Thankfully, technology has given us the ability to track the real-time interactions happening across multiple networks, platforms & devices and associate those with what’s happening on TV. And they’re not mapping back to to the TV guide to determine when something’s airing. It’s way more sophisticated than that – companies like Bluefin Labs (now a part of Twitter) have technologies to determine what’s on TV in conjunction with real-time conversations on Twitter and Facebook.
All of that aside, engaging with TV viewers is now not just an opportunity, it’s a necessity. But what does this mean for advertisers?
- In-depth knowledge of your target audience. Gone are the days of shot-in-the-dark intuitions around where your target audience is and what they’re talking about. To engage in the second screen, you have to KNOW what shows your audience is watching, when they’re watching it (live or DVR?), and what networks, hashtags, etc. they’re using while viewing.
- Live Interaction. Okay well that’s sort of a given. With social, you need someone manning your account basically 24/7. But if you want to engage with TV viewers, you must also watch along with them – otherwise how would you know what they’re even referencing in their #scandal tweets?
- On-the-fly Content Creation. Brands always struggle to find the perfect balance between getting content approved before it goes live and creating content that leverages real-time conversations. But with the second screen, this balance is even more important. You can’t wait until the second commercial break to promote a tweet about something that happened in the first two minutes of a TV program. So you either need to be able to predict a few content areas and have the ability to adjust based on the show OR you need the ability to create images and associated text with an “ask for forgiveness, rather than seeking approval” mentality, forgoing the approvals process.
How do you engage with brands and/or TV shows while watching the tube?
A few weeks ago I read an interesting study by Business Insider about brands that “get there first” (so to speak) when it comes to new social networks.
They found that there’s a positive relationship between being an early adopter and a brand’s audience size. Basically, the brands who created their profiles on a new social network the fastest also tend to have the most followers.
It makes sense – the longer you’re on a social network, the more time you have to accrue more followers. But, there’s much more to the story for bigger brands.
- Longer Lead Time - The big brands who are first the game likely already knew the network was about to launch. Their agency partners or higher ups probably have met the owners, or have been told about the network by a rep in anticipation of future ad dollars. Because of these relationships, bigger brands have more lead time to think about the network and a strategy that aligns with their goals and other efforts. This way when a mega-brand creates one of the first branded profiles, it looks good and it makes sense, which translates into better engagement with users and…..more followers!
- Press – Once a company creates one of the first brand profiles on a new network, the digital presses go crazy. Is it good? How are they using it? Is it used correctly? The commotion is endless. I like to call this the “early adopter” early adopter effect. All of us social, techy, digital, UX people flock to see it. We gaggle over it. Then we write articles about it, sharing our opinions about whether it’s the right fit for the brand or the network or both. The more articles we create, the more traffic is driven to look at that brand’s profile. And, thus, the more attention and followers the brand builds.
So how can you compete with these massive brands?
- Read, Read, Read. Keep up to date on new startups & tech news, so you can try to predict the next new thing.
- Dive in, personally. Get the app, make your own profile, and be a part of the community as an individual. This experience will really give you the insights you need to figure out how this network may be used to connect your brand and its consumers.
- Create Cross-Medium Social Strategies. When you create social strategies, don’t think about how it lives on one social network, think about how it lives as words, images only, videos, etc. This way when a new medium is created, you’ve already got some way to imagine how to use it.
- Be agile With Existing Content. No one ever said you must reinvent the wheel when a new network launches. Instead of thinking about sourcing new content, think about how this technology serves to make your existing story or strategy come to life? Then think about what content you already have that can be altered in some way to work for this network. #makeitwork
- Get Buy-In Early On. If you want to take advantage of this “Early Adopter Effect” you need buy in on this type of approach from your higher ups (or from yourself, as the case may be). This will give you the excuse you need to prioritize reading about the network, being a part of the network individually and figuring out how it fits within your strategy. You need to be able to drop everything in order to play catch up with the bigger brands who have a leg up. And in order to drop everything, you need a quick approval process…or none at all.
- Agency Partner. No matter how big your brand is, it’s always good to have a relationship with, or an ally at, an ad agency. The good ones make it a part of their job to know everything there is to know about new & emerging social networks. When you combine that knowledge with creativity and an intimacy with your brand and your brand’s social strategy, the turn around on an amazing new social presence can happen with just one call.
Are you an early adopter when it comes to social media?
Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).
Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:
- What are your goals?
- How are you measuring success?
- What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
- What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
- How do you want users to change with your content?
To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:
Right-hand Side Ads
These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.
Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.
With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.
Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image
Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.
There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.
Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.
The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.
The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.
Link Promoted Posts
A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.
Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.
Page Like Ads & App Install Ads
There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.
The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.
What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?
I’m more than happy to answer them – just tweet @social_allie.
In just a few weeks, Facebook will turn 10 years old.
To put it differently, I’ve been using Facebook for a decade.
Somehow it’s not even a teenager and it’s one of my best buds.
But it’s not just a reliable pal, it’s also revolutionized the way the world communicates.
Don’t get me wrong, Facebook didn’t go it alone, but it did give social media the mass appeal it now enjoys, paving the way for some of our favorite networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram…Jelly?!) to thrive.
I remember when I built my original profile on thefacebook.com. I’d known about “the Facebook” for a little while, but I had to wait for my .edu email address to sign up. Yeah..remember that? When only college students could sign up??
Back then, I used it for the basics: posting pictures and finding out if my fellow classmates were single (I sort of don’t want to admit that). It became the first stage of profiling, even before the exchange of numbers for old-school texting.
Soon it was event central. If you were having a party at your dorm, you were definitely making a Facebook event and inviting all of your friends (well…maybe not all of them).
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook finally launched their Newsfeed. Yes, I’m serious…there was a Facebook without the feed…which I, at the time, checked probably 17 million times a day.
Fast-forward four years, and Facebook (& Twitter & YouTube & LinkedIn) had become a mainstay of my job, even though there were no classes about it in my undergrad advertising program. The marketing world was changing while I was in school, and by the time I had my first “real” job, social was the topic of conversation for CMOs across the country. Four years…that’s it.
By the time Timeline was introduced in 2011, small businesses and huge marketing companies alike knew that social media (not just Facebook), could not be ignored. And it’s not because it was another outlet to shout at consumers, it’s because consumers were now growing up, as I had, with social media. It was not only a part of our everyday, but Facebook was now a part of our story.
Sure, there are still significant negative associations with social networks (privacy risks and big data are a few), but I challenge you to consider the significant strides we’ve made since Facebook gave social media its popularity.
Family, friends and brands are able to connect and converse (like actually converse) with each other, while also communicating with an entire circle of people, so that it’s not just one conversation, but it’s one and many simultaneously. We’re able to remember the important things happening in each other’s lives and feel connected, even if we haven’t seen or heard from someone in years.
So I’m sappy. But Facebook is one of my oldest friends and I interact it every single day, multiple times a day. So, to me 10 years is a big deal. And I’m anxious to see what will happen in the next 10.
What’s your first memory of Facebook?
If you’re interested in a little more Facebook history, check out this infographic by Inside Facebook.
It’s no surprise that video, in general, is on the rise. It’s been talked about by marketers since YouTube became a major player. But video consumption has increased substantially in the past year. Video plays on smartphones tripled from 2011 to 2012 (Adobe). The viral reach of video is also now outpacing any other type of content, with the viral share-of-reach for video growing from 55% in 2011 to 77% in 2012 (versus non-video content) (Adobe).
Being a part of the video game is now an option marketers are being forced to consider. But, the creation of videos can often seem daunting for marketing managers. How high quality should the videos be? How long should they be? What should be included? All of these questions have become barriers preventing brands from diving into video content creation.
Fortunately with the introduction of both Vine and Instagram Video, most of these difficult decisions can be avoided. Not only do these apps make videos easy to create and upload, but consumers also seem to prefer this type of short-form video over static images. In fact, before Instagram Video was available, Vine videos were shared 4 times more than any other video on the internet (Unruly Media), and the number of Vine video links posted on Twitter surpassed the number of Instagram photos posted (Nick Bilton, NY Times Columnist).
Because of its unique video platform, Vine quickly became one of the most popular apps available, but as soon as Instagram introduced “Instavideo,” its popularity started to wain. Using Topsy analytics, we put together a chart of the past 2 weeks, showing the amount of Vine and Instagram links shared on Twitter. From the graph you can tell that more Instagram links (including both photos and videos) are being shared on Twitter. This is due to one thing: short-form video.
Now that there are two players in the short-form video world, marketers who wish to engage with users in this way must decide which app to use. From the chart, one might be quick to assert that Instagram Video is the best avenue as Instagram Video has had a major effect on the amount of Vine videos created and shared. On June 26, less than 900,000 Vine links were shared on Twitter, compared with nearly 3 million shared on June 15 (as reported by Marketing Land). So does this mean that brands should opt for Instagram Video over Vine?
We’re not so sure. There are too many differentiators keeping the two video content creation apps from usurping the other. AND, don’t forget that each will continue to develop their platforms to keep their loyal users around.
If you have the time, why not create a presence on both apps? If you really must choose one, consider your audience and the types of videos you want to share. Where do they fit the best? No matter which app you choose, though, you’re doing something right by engaging with your audience using short-form videos.
As for us, we got hooked on Vine from the get-go and haven’t been able to stop. But we also love Instagram Video because we already have an Instagram account, the videos are unintrusive, and the footage is undeniably beautiful.
Interested in some of my Vines? Look up social_allie when you’re on the Vine app.
Which video app do you prefer?
When isn’t Facebook in the news? It seems that, no matter what, there’s always a story. Facebook stock has gone down! Facebook stock as gone up! Facebook changes its layout…again. Facebook allows video ads! The list is endless.
So, sometimes the really HUGE information can get lost. In this case it’s Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Techcrunch and some of the other tech-savvy pubs covered this news. But somehow its importance to advertisers just didn’t break through. Instead, consumers were more worried about the impending transfer of personal data from these services to Facebook (understandably so).
But from an advertisers standpoint, this news is groundbreaking. These data services will match up a user’s online browsing activity (outside of Facebook) with their Facebook user IDs, thereby allowing Facebook to provide advertisers over 500 new unique targeting groups (with more to come).
These third-party data services provide additional data to make your target audience come to life in an even more relevant manner. Here is an overview of the targeting capabilities provided by these data services and a little more about each company:
Acxiom is a data company with 32 billion data records. It’s one of the industry leaders when it comes to compiling, managing, and applying consumer & business data for marketing. Facebook’s current partnership with Acxiom allows you to target based on the household information of a user (their dwelling type, the market value of their house, whether they rent or own, etc.). You can also target users based on what sort of bank cards/credit cards they use, whether they invest some of their money, and what their job role is (administration/managerial, clerical, educator, farmer, financial, etc.).
Datalogix has a database containing more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data. They convert this data into an online universe of custom-made targeting profiles. Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix seems the most beneficial as it includes general buyer personas (e.g. fashionista, healthy & fit, green consumers, sportsman, etc.), retail categories (flower buyers, childrens products, pet supply, etc.), and subscription service categories (enrolled in online higher ed, has a mortgage, signed up for online auto insurance, etc.) to make it a bit easier for advertisers to put together their targets.
When I first learned the word Epsilon, it was as a letter in the Greek alphabet (I have my 10th grade teacher to thank for having memorized the entire thing!). But Epsilon, the data company, provides transactional data and consumer-reported survey data. Its partnership with Facebook now allows advertisers to create target audiences based on the type of business a person works for, their occupation, whether they have auto loans, if they donate to charitable causes, buy magazines, and more.
All of these data options make it easier for advertisers to reach audiences that they might not have been able to in the past. Gone are the days of having to resort to LinkedIn to reach someone in a certain profession. Gone are the days of guessing the items people purchase based on their “Likes.” Now there’s actual data to back these suspicions up.
Because of these partnerships, Facebook ads will not only be more targeted, but they will also be more relevant to they users they’ve targeted. B2B companies, retail companies, and all other companies now have the capability to know that they’ve targeted the right person with a message that’s relevant to them.
Today Facebook & Instagram confirmed our suspicions. Instagram has incorporated video into their platform!
It’s seamless, beautiful and available today. Here’s the down & dirty on what makes it different from Vine:
- Instagram videos can be up to 15 seconds long, as opposed to Vine’s video lengths which are capped at 6 seconds. According to Instagram’s co-founder it’s the “perfect medium” between longer format videos and ultra-short videos.
- With Instagram’s video interface, users will be able to edit bits of their video and re-record. Whereas on Vine if you need to edit a clip users are forced to re-record the entire video (though it seems this may be changing soon).
- Instagram is known for beautiful photography and according to today’s announcement videography will be no different. Instagram has developed 13 unique filters into its interface, made specifically for videos. These filters are similar to the filters for photographs, but are all their own. With Vine there is currently no filter option – what you see is what you get.
- With Instagram Video, users can now select their own cover photo. This cover frame is the image that will be published to their friends feeds. With Vine, there is no option to select your own cover photo, it just automatically assigns one.
- Instagram Cinema is here and pretty groundbreaking. Instagram teamed up with video scientists all over the world to create a stabilization feature within their camera interface so that no Instagram Videos are wobbly. This is a pretty remarkable feature that will allow users to seem like professional videographers (much like how Instagram pictures allow users to seem like professional photographers).
- There is no loop. On Vine, videos automatically play when you scroll through your feed and they also loop over and over again. With Instagram Videos, the cover photo is what appears in a users’ feed, with an overlay of a video icon. As soon as users lift their finger while scrolling through their feed the video plays. Seamless and unobtrusive.
- All Instagram videos will be on the web as well as on the app, so that users can link to their Instagram profile or specific video. With Vine, users must point their friends to the app if they want to share their profile or video or ask people to follow them.
Instagram Video seems to be “everything we know and love,” about Instagram already, “but it moves.” Oh…and did I mention it’s available right now on both Android and iOS?
Will you ditch Vine for Instagram Video?
This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.
Here’s what we learned about the new products:
We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.
TV Ad Targeting:
I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.
Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.
But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.
Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):
- Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
- Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
- Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
- Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
- $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
- Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013
With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?
While I strongly recommend well-thought-out social media strategies that predominantly include organic social media tactics, I also understand the necessity for paid social media advertising (though I wouldn’t advocate for Twitter promoted trends unless you have a luxurious marketing budget).
Paid social ads, particularly Facebook ads, are relatively cost efficient, have the ability to kickstart a campaign and, most of all, they provide one of the most highly targeted mediums available.
Gone are the days of the “cast a wide net” theory. Now it’s the online networks and publications with the ability to provide hyper-targeted niche audiences that are of most interest to advertisers. Facebook is one of the best when it comes to reaching these tightly woven target audiences.
For some reason, though, whether it be the hype associated with the Facebook IPO or the general misuse of Facebook ad campaigns by the average user, the amazing targeting options and high click-through rates of Facebook ad campaigns are often lost on marketers.
Some suspect that their target audience simply isn’t on Facebook or that Facebook users don’t click on ads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Q1 of 2013, Facebook reported that it had 1.11 BILLION users. A wide variety of reports confirm that these users also check Facebook daily, if not multiple times per day (especially on their mobile devices)…even while they’re working out. And if you’re using the correct combination of creative elements and have the correct strategy in place (e.g. lead generation), Facebook users WILL click on your ads.
Now that we’ve tackled that elephant in the room, let’s dive into what exactly the Facebook targeting options are:
- Demographics: You can target users by location (by zip code, city, state, country, within x miles of specific cities), age (any range up to age 65), sex, and relationship status (married, engaged, single with interests in males or females).
- Birthday: You can create ads that are targeted at people who have a birthday in the next week (or other specific timeframe).
- Precise Interests: Facebook considers information such as the Facebook pages the users “Like,” the apps they use, and any other information they have added to their Facebook timeline, to determine their precise interests. These can be drawn from their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, groups they belong to, and more.
- Facebook Broad Categories: If you need a little help developing your target audience and can’t quite come up with precise interests, Facebook also has broader categories. These are also based on users’ status updates or any actions they have taken on Facebook.
- Education: Target users by the year they graduated, whether they’ve graduated or are still in college, which university they attended, and even which subject area they majored in.
- Connections: In addition to this demographic data, you can also target people who have “Liked” your page, joined your group, RSVP’d to your event, or users who have used your app. You can even reach the friends of people who have taken any of these actions, which is a powerful way to gain new users/”Likes,” as friends tend to have similar interests.
- Partner Categories: Here’s where it gets even more robust. Facebook has partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix & Epsilon to provide over 500 unique groups (with more to come) of people to target via Facebook. These services allow Facebook to combine information from their partners (which is based on a user’s online browsing activity on websites other than Facebook) with the information gathered from the user’s activity on Facebook. Click here for more about targeting with Facebook’s Data Partners.
- Custom Audiences: Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific set of users based on a previously owned list of phone numbers or email addresses. Basically, Facebook matches these email addresses and/or phone numbers with Facebook user IDs and encrypted data to build an audience that’s completely your own.
- Lookalike Audiences: When you create a custom audience list, you can also create a “lookalike audience” that includes people who are similar to your custom audience list. This way you’re reaching people who have the same interests and demographic information as your custom audience, but that you have not established a connection with just yet.
In fact, a significant amount of marketers (80%) incorrectly begin with tactics instead of goals when it comes to social media strategy. They consider the creation of a Facebook page or twitter handle to be “free” and place them in the “as time permits” category.
This passive approach has led to one of the largest challenges in social media marketing as of late: How to measure and determine the ROI of your social media marketing efforts. The creation of a social media strategy is the only way to adequately answer this question, as it provides a critical context for evaluation of these efforts.
Your brand is too important to be treated so casually!
If you jump on the social media bandwagon by thinking about tactics first (e.g. creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle), you risk spending time on something that might not actually make strategic sense for your brand. Here’s why:
1. Time is Money - First of all, all of these “free” social media networks should take real time to manage properly, especially if you want to be successful. The time you or your co-workers spend updating each of your social media profiles, creating content, and (hopefully) optimizing it, all equals money.
2. Opportunity Cost – Think back to intro level economics. When you spend time updating your status, tweeting, pinning, creating videos etc. you’re not spending time doing another activity. Our time is not infinite, so we must make choices on how we spend it. As such, it makes sense that we should spend our time on activities that are proven to drive revenue or generate leads. But how can we determine if our time is well-spent with no measurement tools in place? That brings me to my next point…
3. Measurement & ROI – The key to determining the worth of your efforts is creating metrics to follow and measure throughout the course of the campaign. Here’s the problem: without actual goals in mind, you are unable to delineate key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure your activity. Sure, you can do daily maintenance and discover, for instance, that funny quotes get more retweets and that shorter YouTube videos get the most shares. You might even track how many hits to your website you get from each of these channels. But…so what? All of this means nothing if you have no plan in place or goals to work against. Without measurement tools, you’ll have no idea whether it is actually worth your time to maintain these social media profiles. You’ll have an even smaller idea about whether your target audience or customers are even receptive to these efforts – or if they even know about them?
Essentially, without goals and a strategy your efforts are seemingly purposeless. You’re posting updates, tweeting, blogging, and creating content all in hopes that something is going to move the needle. The problem is that you have no clue how you’d know if it did move or how.
The bottom line is, in order to determine the ROI of your efforts or to justify the budgets and time allocated to social media marketing, you must create a strategy that starts with clear business goals.
Why else might a social strategy be useful?
This is the second in our series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, we will cover topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, and more. Click here to read the first in the series: Why Embrace Social Media & The Groundswell.
This is the first in a series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, I’ll cover more sophisticated topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, social strategy and more.
“So what? – what’s the point of all this ‘social media’?”
The pervasiveness of social media is undeniable. As of August 2012, 69% of online adults use social networking sites. But why should brands and marketers alike spend their time and money developing a social media strategy? The simple answer is that they cannot afford NOT to. Here’s why:
Why should brands embrace the social media “trend?”
Since the first real social network in 1996, consumers have been privy to more information and more connections to brands and each other than ever before. We have more knowledge at our fingertips and we have the ability to share that knowledge using just 140 characters (if we like).
Along with the incipience of social networking sites, came a fundamental change in our online behavior. Forrester calls it the “groundswell” – by their definition it’s “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions…” It started with networks like Craigslist and Napster – allowing people to share music or apartment vacancies. And now, people turn to one another for advice about almost every aspect of their lives – including which products to buy and brands to give their loyalty.
Customers have always formed opinions about what a brand signifies and shared that with their friends over a few drinks. Now, as a part of the groundswell, they’re spreading that opinion online, in seconds, to an exponential number of people. They’re posting reviews on Yelp, tweeting about your brand, etc., and by doing so, they’re redefining your brand one post, tweet, review at a time. In fact, a recent study by Massrelevance found that 75% of consumers use social to find & share info about brands.
The balance of power has changed and is now in the hands of your consumer.
As a consequence of these connections, this knowledge, and the ease of sharing amongst our network, brands are now forced to be more open, more transparent, more consumer-centric, and more connected themselves. It’s no longer okay to sit back and watch others participate, now brands must listen to and engage with the groundswell in order to get its attention and help influence the conversation.
Connected consumers simply will not accept brands that aren’t participating, aren’t listening, or aren’t responding to them in real time. Convinced yet?
Stay tuned for more in our “So What?” series about social media, ROI, strategy and more. And – feel free to leave suggestions for “So What?” posts in the comments below.
To learn more about the groundswell, check out Groundswell (the revised edition) by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff.