Social Media Strategy – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:39:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Social Media Strategy – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting 32 32 11 Hot Instagram Marketing Tips from Social Media Experts Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Instagram's user base is pushing one billion. If you're hunting for tips on getting in on the action, this infographic offers a goldmine of Instagram marketing tips straight from the experts.

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11 Hot Instagram Marketing Tips from Social Media Experts

If you just landed here from planet Outbound Marketing or its satellite, planet Offline Marketing, I may be doing you a service by telling you Instagram is the blazing hot channel you want to master.

If you hang out with us here in the inbound and online world, such a proclamation would simply solicit a “no duh.” Nary a day goes by—when I get to my inbox each morning—that I’m not offered a blog post or content of some sort about capitalizing on the rocket ship that is Instagram.

And when my family convenes, which includes two teenagers and their expanding buying powers—and everyone’s tapping away on their iPhones—I don’t even have to ask what they’re doing. They’re cruising and using Instagram.

Is everyone?

Well, no, not everyone, but nearly a billion people are (as you’re about to see). And a surprising 60 percent of them are adults.

Instagram's user base will likely hit 1 billion in 2018.
Click To Tweet

So over on the ShortStack blog, where I contribute often, and where social media marketers come to learn about the power of Instagram contests and promotions, I rounded up a series of great marketing ideas from Instagram experts. I tapped the minds of the leading Instagram bloggers, authors, and leaders of companies that deliver Instagram-specific software services to social media marketers and collected a little goldmine of tips.

I invite you to check out ALL the tips here or simply scroll to take in my favorites, an infographic I titled “11 Hot Instagram Marketing Tips.”


Instagram Marketing Tips from the Experts, infographic

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How Participation Marketing Elevates Your Social Media Strategy Mon, 05 Feb 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Employees tell better stories than you do. Participation marketing, or employee advocacy, empowers your employees as storytellers and activates your brand's voice.

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How Participation Marketing Elevates Your Social Media Strategy

Innovative brands are activating employees to be storytellers. They are doing this to reach new audiences, extend the reach of organic content in social and humanize their brand. The current buzzword for this practice is “employee advocacy,” or even “social selling.” I call it participation marketing, and the reason is clear. Employees tell better stories than you do. They have no agenda. They are authentic, and they are trusted by their peers.

But don’t take my word for it.

Credible research and data validate the proposition that mobilizing employees as media is a good thing:

  • Peer recommendations drive business value. Research from the Boston Consulting Group and the Edelman Trust Barometer are explicit when it comes to measuring trust and credibility. The data clearly shows that people trust “employees of a company,” “consumer opinions,” and “colleagues and friends” when seeking information about a product or a brand.
  • Technologists are active on social media. It’s a fact. Do a quick search on Twitter or LinkedIn for topics like Hadoop, DevOps, or SecOps. You’ll find both technical and business-focused conversations.
  • Brands are investing in employee advocacy. Altimeter’s 2015 State of Social Business Report revealed that “building employee advocacy” programs are becoming a high priority and strategic initiative for marketers, jumping from 13 percent to 45 percent in 2015.

While the data paints the perfect picture, activating employee storytellers just because your competitors are doing it isn’t a smart strategy. You must ensure there is brand alignment with your employee content strategy.

Employees tell better stories than you do.
Click To Tweet

Employee-Driven Content Strategy

You can’t use AI to activate your employees. Your employees aren’t robots—well, not yet. The last thing you want to happen is for them to do and say everything you tell them to. There should be a balance of what employees talk about and share online. While you want to ensure that they find their own voice and feel free to talk about whatever they want, they should have a general understanding of the brand’s value proposition. They should also understand the best practices for engaging in social media.

The following model can help align employee-driven content to your brand voice and positioning.

Align employee-driven content to your brand voice and positioning

Let’s start at the top of the model. Audience and market intelligence uncover whitespace in the market and give editorial and creative direction to your stories. Whitespace could be a very simple idea, or it could be that spark where you can find the universal “moment of truth”—a message or narrative that no one else in the market owns, like a tagline, manifesto, or internal “rallying cry” to motivate your employees. Quite simply, it’s the north star to which you’ll align your employees when they tell their own stories online.

This framework is one of many ways to build your content strategy. In this model, employees can tell their stories through three different lenses, whereby:

  • Your employees are the hero of the story. These are stories all about your employees and the unique insights they bring to the market. It’s their expertise, experience, and thought leadership about a topic. This can be perceived as narcissistic and self-serving if not balanced with other types of stories that add value.
  • Your employees are characters in a broader story. These stories are usually about someone else, like a customer, politician, or a member of the community. The narrative is about the value they receive from solving business challenges using your technology or by partnering with your employees. This should not be self-serving, and stories must show humility and lead with customers first.
  • Your employees comment on third-party stories. These stories are all about thought leadership, education, and how they view the market. This should always add value to everyone involved in the conversation and should never revert to trash talking your competitors, regardless of how heated the conversation may become.

One of the most important things to remember is that employee-driven stories must be integrated with brand content and amplified through paid, earned, and owned media channels. This helps battle the decline of organic reach in social channels.

Combatting the Decline of Organic Reach

The major social networks have been changing their newsfeed algorithms for years. Brands are investing more and more budget in paid media in order to reach their audiences. A study by Social@Oglivy in 2016 found that Facebook Pages with more than 500,000 likes are seeing less than one percent in organic reach.

Additionally, a white paper by Hootsuite revealed some interesting data points showcasing how employee advocacy programs are delivering more reach and engagement with content distribution. For example, Whole Foods found that content shared by employees gained eight times more engagement than the same content shared on brand channels.

Other data suggests the same. MSLGroup (in partnership with Forrester, Forbes, and Dynamic Signal) found that brand messages reached 561 percent further when shared by employees versus the same content shared by official branded social channels. That branded content is shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees.

Employee advocacy isn’t going to solve all of your marketing challenges. But it sure will help reach new audiences, influence others, and drive employee engagement at the same time.

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5 Digital Marketing Predictions for the 2018 Olympic Games Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:27:38 +0000 The rise of social media has turned coverage of the Olympic Games into a complex, all-hands-on-deck affair. Expect these five trends to shape the 2018 Games.

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5 Digital Marketing Predictions for the 2018 Olympic Games

Beginning February ninth, the neglected cable boxes that occupy our living rooms will get some much-needed attention. All month, Americans will switch on the tube to ignite dormant dreams of snow-dusted Olympic fame.

Or, if you’re like me, with no cable to speak of, you’ll frantically search the world wide web for Olympic coverage. Thankfully, sports networks are leaders in the global adaptation to digital.

With the rise of social media, coverage of the Winter Olympics has become a complicated, all-hands-on-deck kind of effort. Athletes, sponsors, reporters, publishers, and schools duke it out to earn a rare piece of the highly topical, keyword-specific pie. Therefore, Olympic content is everywhere, nearly impossible to avoid.

Thanks to my time at Indiana University, I got a peek into this media frenzy. The 2016 Summer Olympic Games presented an amazing opportunity for the school; we had over 15 student athletes competing. For weeks, everyone wanted a piece of the fame our students garnered.

One such athlete, Lilly King, became a particularly exciting target. King won two Olympic Gold Medals after wagging her finger at “Russian drug cheat Yulia Efimova,” confirming her title as an Olympic celebrity.

Consequently (and predictably), every one of IU’s social media posts about Lilly King saw exceptional engagement, such as the post below:

Congratulations to Lilly King. The IU Olympian won the gold medal for Team USA in the 100 breaststroke with an Olympic record time of 1:04.93!

Posted by Indiana University on Tuesday, August 9, 2016

While IU, a public university, could not comment about King’s famous finger wag, we undoubtedly benefited from the spunk, talent, and dignity of this record-holding athlete. In short, King helped Indiana University to a healthy slice of the Olympic pie. That’s a lot of responsibility for a 19-year-old student, right?

With insider access into the inner workings of NCAA-regulated collegiate sports coverage, I’m happy to report that King received social media training—to protect her privacy, her reputation, and the reputation of the university she represents.

Social media training is imperative in situations like these. Social platforms enable athletes to share their unfiltered thoughts, publically, independent of traditional media coverage restrictions. During the 2016 Olympic Games, I watched as Lilly King’s Twitter following grow from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Now, any athlete can build their own fame, reputation, and influence through their social media platforms. Articles like the one below are widespread.

Olympics draw social media attention to athletes

As the 2018 Olympic Games quickly approach, I am nearly as excited for the Twitter arguments as the competitions. Tweets will fly; reputations will be built and broken; influencers will be born.

While sports networks are predicting athletes’ positions on the podium, I’d like to provide you with a forecast tailored to those of the digital marketing persuasion.

1. TV Viewership Will Be at an All-Time Low

The majority of young adults (under 30) are live-streamers. The funny thing about young people is that we get older, start families, and pass on media habits to said families. For sports coverage, millennials will turn to the web. How networks will adapt continues to baffle me.

2. Sponsors Will Get Wise

As I’ve said, athletes are now responsible for building their own following and reputations. No longer will sponsors look to simply the most talented athletes; they will look to socially engaging athletes.

Since the 2016 Olympic Games, I’ve kept a close eye on track athlete and social media influencer Sage Watson. Watson has grown and maintained an engaged audience through her strong voice and consistent storytelling. Through her Instagram account, fans can know her, trust her, and vicariously live through her. It is no wonder Nike was quick to sponsor her following her graduation from University of Arizona.

Sponsors no longer want simply the most talented Olympic athletes. They want socially engaging athletes.
Click To Tweet

3. Terrible Advertising Will Happen

The U.S. Olympic Committee is incredible at identifying and crushing any advertisements that unlawfully allude to the Olympic Games. That said, many businesses will make attempts to piggyback on the hoopla surrounding the Olympics, no matter how completely unrelated their products or offerings. Bad advertisers just can’t resist the potential rewards, whether the message is true to their brand identity or not.

4. Political Discourse Will Dominate

These Games will undoubtedly be highly political. Russia is banned. The Koreas continue to struggle. Will Americans athletes kneel during the anthem? Online conversation will surround many heated topics. Unfortunately, I predict this will be a rocky year, but hopefully an enlightening one.

5. Heart Will Be Ever-Appreciated

In my opinion, the most extraordinary outcome of athletes’ access to social media fame is the widespread sharing of gratitude, inspiration, and pride. Feel-good moments will be just a Tweet away. I personally can’t wait to see the outpouring of support and love the world will feel, and now voice, to athletes of all nations.

Let the games begin!

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When Should You Use an Instagram Slideshow? Thu, 25 Jan 2018 14:30:03 +0000 Got a fresh crop of photos you can't wait to show your audience? Keep your Instagram feed clutter-free and avoid Insta-faux pas with an Instagram slideshow.

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When Should You Use an Instagram Slideshow

Remember that one time you were tempted to post all 20 images from your friend’s bachelorette party, all at one time, within the 30-minute window it took to filter each and create ~the best~ captions?

Yeah. Don’t do that. (Kim Kardashian, I’m looking at you.)

Kim Kardashian on Instagram

When should you use Instagram’s slideshow? When the answer to the following question is “yes,” resort to a slideshow: “If my friend posted all these photos individually as single images, would I consider him annoying, self-indulgent, or out-of-touch?”

Even a solid “maybe” in this case elicits a slideshow.

Yes, this goes for brands, too.

Instagram is not a full representation of your life or your brand. We all understand this. With that understanding comes the expectation that you will carefully curate your own photos, selecting only highlights intended for the enjoyment of your audience.

In social media, the enjoyment of your audience always comes first, at least for brands. Here are some tips to help marketers (and everyone else) use Instagram slideshows to benefit both the brand and their audience.

Avoid Insta-Faux Pas

While your audience enjoys your photos, they don’t want to know how much you enjoy your photos. Posting gratuitous photos gives your audience the impression that you, or your brand, is self-obsessed (and not in a trendy way). Oops.

Your audience likes you bunches and wants to know about all the awesome things you do. They love seeing snapshots from your trip or your brand’s philanthropic event. However, they don’t want to see three in a row. (Still looking at you, Kimmy K.)

Kim Kardashian on Instagram 2

Think about it this way: It’s cute when you have one missed call from your boyfriend. It’s not cute when you have eight missed calls in the span of five minutes. That’s just overwhelming.

In short, posting too often is a major Instagram faux pas. When you have more than two pictures to share at a time, use a slideshow; avoid appearing insta-rude.

Reduce Clutter

You’ve got to understand a brilliant purpose behind these slideshows: They reduce clutter. It’s the same purpose of the algorithm—the constant challenge social media platforms are facing. With more users comes more content, and not all of it’s valuable. How can we best deliver the content our audience cares about most? How can we reduce the clutter?

Slideshows allow you to share more than one aspect of a story without contributing to the clutter, as @the12ishstyle‘s Katie Sturino has done. Choose up to ten images of your trip, your brand’s philanthropic event, or in Katie’s case, a lookalike Barbie. Publish all images in one post to let your audience explore your slideshow at their leisure, not against their will.

the12ishstyle Instagram slideshow

Additionally, if your brand has a healthy social media advertising budget, slideshows allow you to send your target audience the full story, all at one time. Rather than boosting each post under multiple budgets, you can combine the budget for a larger spend, allowing you to reach a larger audience.

Instagram slideshows let your audience explore your images at their leisure, not against their will.
Click To Tweet

Creative Storytelling

Slideshows also give brands new, creative ways by which to intrigue audiences or tell their brand story. Comic accounts, for example, use slideshows to tell longer stories than can be told in one photo. The audience can swipe through the slideshow as if turning the pages of a book.

To the delight of their audience, brands can also sneak surprises into slideshows, as I once did for Indiana University, shown below. These little surprises engage your audience, giving them a good laugh while increasing brand affinity. Everyone loves someone, or some brand, who can laugh at herself.

Indiana University Instagram slideshow

The caption to the slideshow above reads, “Please enjoy these five images of what one might consider g.o.a.t.” At the time, g.o.a.t. stood for greatest of all time. I crack myself up.

User-Generated Content

One caveat with slideshows is that they still aren’t great when it comes to mass user-generated content (UGC) shares. Therefore, if your brand has an overabundance of quality UGC (lucky you), slideshows may not be your clutter-reduction solution.

Currently, the standard is to post credit to the photographer by tagging her in the caption. As all photos in a slideshow share the same caption, there’s really no graceful way to credit all photographers when sharing more than two pieces of UGC in a slideshow. Yes, you can tag each photographer in their image within the slideshow, but, it might not be considered enough for your generous UGC providers.

On the other hand, Photoshop found a nice way to tell an extraordinary visual story from one photo-editing influencer, @hobopeeba‘s Kristina Makeeva. All photos of the slideshow are examples of Kristina’s work. In the caption, Photoshop provided an explanation of each photo.

Photoshop Instagram story

If you want to post all 20 of those pictures from your friend’s bachelorette party, first wait until you are 100 percent sober. (You’re welcome for that advice.) Then, choose the two most amazing photos. Post twice, ten photos each. Make sure you lead each slideshow with one of the amazing top two photos.

And there you have it! A faux pas-free, engaging, still self-obsessed (but in a polite, charming way) solution to your over-sharing problems. Your audience will love, adore, and thank you.

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6 Ways to Use Hashtags in Instagram Stories Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:00:14 +0000 When you “do it for the gram,” you want the most views possible for your Instagram Stories. Strategic use of hashtags can get you there.

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6 Ways to Use Hashtags in Instagram Stories

You know what you should do? Add hashtags to your Instagram Stories.

You invested serious resources into creating and capturing the perfect Instagram Story. Maybe you put yourself in precarious situations. Maybe you spent eons testing filters and pondering witty captions.

When you “do it for the gram,” you better get the most views for your Story. Hashtags get you the views you deserve.

Instagram’s Story feature is completely supportive of hashtags—unlike, say, our good friend and pal Snapchat. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to use hashtags, let’s go over how hashtags function on Instagram.

How Hashtags Function on Instagram

In Instagram Posts: When you put hashtags in the captions of your Instagram images, the images will appear in the public aggregation of those hashtags (assuming your profile is public). If your Instagram posts are highly engaging (more than others posted around the same time), your posts will appear in the top posts—the first 9 images when you search a hashtag.

In Instagram Stories: Now, when you add a hashtag to Instagram Stories, you can place the hashtag in a sticker, in text, or by way of a location tag. The hashtag goes directly on the image and can be stylized just like all text and stickers. When posted in text, linked hashtags are often underlined.

Hashtags on Instagram Stories

The Bad News: When you place hashtags in your Instagram Story, your images or video will not always be accepted into the hashtag aggregation—yes, even if your profile is set to public. The aggregation of these hashtagged Stories depends on engagement and the quality of the image or video posted.

That said, adding hashtags to your Stories is worth a try. With hashtags, you have the potential to reach thousands of Instagrammers in your region, within your industry, of a similar mindset, or across the globe. The question is not if you should use hashtags in your Instagram Story, but how.

Six Ways to Use Hashtags in Instagram Stories

1. Geographically

For this article, I am counting location tags as hashtags, because YOLO. Also, in Instagram Stories, location tags function nearly identically to hashtags—users add a linked location to an image or video just as they add hashtags. The only differences are:

  1. A location can only be posted using the Instagram sticker (no text).
  2. Only one location tag can be in an image/video.

Geographic hashtags in Instagram Stories

This location tag is your best bet to make it into an aggregated Instagram Story. Nearly every location has an aggregated Instagram Story. Furthermore, when you tag a location, such as a neighborhood, the tagged picture or video could be visible in the city Story, state Story, or even country Story wherever that neighborhood is located.

The location tag is especially good for brands with a campus. When your audience posts to the location Story, adding to that Story will attract that audience in the most authentic way—you are, in fact, one of them. The location tag is also good for brands that are hosting location-bound PR events.

2. Supportively

Hashtag campaigns on Instagram Stories

In support of brand campaigns, that is. Here’s the best case scenario: Your campaign hashtag is so popular that an aggregated hashtag Story is created to highlight all that amazing user-generated content provided by your audience. The catch is that your brand is not (at this time) able to control this aggregation.

Unfortunately, the best case is not always the most likely. Although you may never be able to guarantee your campaign will have its own hashtag aggregated Instagram Story, adding a branded linked hashtag to all your brand Stories will increase engagement and awareness of your campaigns within your current audience.

3. Strategically

Find your niche and make use of it. Take, for example, @thegirlfriendmanifesto’s use of #dreambigger.

Strategic hashtagging in Instagram Stories

Social media done right will result in conversions; good social leads to increased profit. If you got money on your mind (as all brand managers should), shamelessly stalk individuals who are already engaging with your brand. Ask yourself: What hashtags are they using in posts and their Stories? Then use those hashtags.

If you are already converting on social from a small but loyal audience, use learnings from your current audience to reach similar Instagrammers. Grow your audience by engaging with your current audience as they are engaging with their friends.

For example, a chocolate company discovers that the #treatyoself hashtag is trending within their audiences. When searching the #treatyoself Story, the brand discovers that many of the aggregated photos and videos perfectly match imagery with which the brand wants to position itself. Immediately, the brand posts to their Story using the #treatyoself hashtag. When the brand’s images appear in the #treatyoself Story, the chocolate brand sees more traffic to their e-commerce website through the link in their Instagram bio. Bon appétit!

4. Excessively

Hashtag everything, liberally, desperately, enthusiastically, all the time. Because why not be that brand unabashed by excessive self-promotion? If vanity fits your brand personality, roll with it. In the end, you’ll increase the chance of getting your royal self in front of more eyeballs. #fame #sorrynotsorry #treatyoself #likeforlike #goodmorning

Excessive hashtags on Instagram Stories

5. Sparingly

Hashtags are not necessary to build your brand on Instagram. I repeat, hashtags are not necessary to make your brand discoverable, to gain those coveted likes, or to create a profitable social media strategy. Therefore, one option is NOT to use ‘em, abuse ‘em, or worry ‘bout ‘em.

Unfortunately, a brand’s use of hashtags says a lot about the brand. What does it say exactly? It removes that thin veil that separates content marketing and blatant advertising. A brand that overuses hashtags can appear to be too focused on likes to give time to more authentic forms of engagement.

Instagram without hashtags

As seen in the image above, thanks to Instagram’s amazing discovery features, a brand can completely bypass hashtags and still attract new audiences. All it takes is the most relevant, timely, valuable and inspiring brand content ever. That’s not hard, right? Right?

Yes, a brand CAN completely bypass hashtags and still attract new audiences.
Click To Tweet

6. Creatively

Tell a story with hashtags. Set your mood. Embrace trends. Be personable.

Creative hashtag use

In a way, hashtags are emojis. They have a literal meaning and a societal meaning. For example, #OOTD literally means “outfit of the day.” However, the use of #OOTD connotes the shameless vanity many millennials hope will vault them to Instagram stardom and therefore a life of curated leisure, à la @girlwithnojob. Do you blame them? #sorrynotsorry #deep

For example, if I were managing a salad dressing brand, I would use #OOTD #everydamnday. I would exploit the heck out of this trend. Every single beautifully dressed salad would have #OOTD slapped on the brand’s Instagram Story. Then I would strategically place a big ol’ tomato wedge and two radishes on top of said beautifully dressed salad to make a nutritious smiley face. Why? Because you’re never fully dressed without a smile. #OOTD

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A Comprehensive Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing Wed, 17 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 This foolproof guide explores why marketers should consider Instagram influencer campaigns and how to build campaigns with the best influencers.

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A Comprehensive Guide to Instagram Influencer Marketing

If you use Instagram, you’ve probably seen influential users promoting brands and products. You might be wondering how your brand or business can work with influencers on Instagram too. This guide will provide you with an in-depth look at what you should do to run a successful Instagram influencer marketing campaign.

Why Use Instagram for Influencer Marketing?

First of all, you want to make sure that this type of campaign will yield the desired results. You already know that influencer marketing is effective. Now you need to determine if executing your campaign on Instagram is really the best option. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should use Instagram for influencer marketing.

Massive Reach

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. According to the Pew Research Center, it’s the second most popular social media platform after Facebook. The report found that 32 percent of internet users in the U.S. are on Instagram.

Instagram is the 2nd most popular social media platform

Image via Pew Research Center

High Engagement Rate

Instagram is also the most engaging social media platform. According to a study by TrackMaven, Instagram sees the most average interactions per post per 1,000 followers. The average engagement ratio is 29.67 on the platform, while Facebook sees around 16.54 average interactions per post per 1,000 followers.

Instagram is the most engaging social media platform

Image via TrackMaven

Influencers’ Choice

Instagram is also a great platform for executing your influencer marketing campaign because influencers prefer it. Bloglovin talked to 2,500 micro-influencers and found that Instagram is their most preferred platform. 59 percent of them say that it’s the most effective platform to engage their target audience.

Influencers love Instagram

Image via Bloglovin

Influencers testify that Instagram is the most effective platform for engaging their audiences.
Click To Tweet

Understand the Cost

Before you can start planning your campaign, you should also consider your budget and make plans accordingly. While influencer marketing isn’t always expensive, proper planning and budgeting can help you avoid unnecessary costs.

It’s crucial to understand that the cost of working with influencers will vary according to the influencer’s follower size and the industry you’re in. According to, influencers charge more as their audience size increases.

Those will fewer than 2,000 followers may charge around $124 per Instagram post. The price may increase to $258 per Instagram post for influencers with 75,000 to 100,000 followers. And if an influencer has more than a million followers, they may charge over $1,400 for a single Instagram post.

Influencers charge more as audience size increases

Image via

The cost of working with influencers on Instagram will also vary according to the sector in which the influencer specializes. The report found that travel influencers charge the highest, taking an average of $220 for each sponsored post. Next come entertainment influencers, followed by home and lifestyle influencers charging $209 and $204 per post respectively.

Once you understand all of these costs, you will have a better idea how much you might need to spend on your campaign. And depending on your budget, you can decide how many influencers you can work with and how much you can afford to spend on each of them.

How to Find the Right Influencers

Now comes the process of finding the right influencers. This is easily one of the most challenging steps in influencer marketing, whether it’s on Instagram or on other platforms. In fact, a study by Econsultancy found it to be the biggest challenge of working with influencers.

If you want to overcome this challenge, you need to be clear about what you’re looking for in an influencer. What characteristics will define your ideal influencer? First of all, they should be relevant to your brand and campaign. They should be creative and engaging. And depending on your campaign goals, they should also have significant reach.

By defining your ideal influencer, you’ll find it easier to narrow down the best influencers for your brand from a list of potential influencers. There are several options to find these potential influencers.

1. Search for Branded Hashtags

Look for influencers who are already fans of your brand and creating content about your brand. Conduct a search using a branded hashtag so you can find relevant content created about your products. You can then check out the users who have created these posts to look for potential influencers.

For example, the cosmetics brand Too Faced might conduct searches using hashtags like #toofaced or #toofacedcosmetics. They could even include the name of a popular line of their cosmetics such as #toofacedbornthisway.

Too Faced Instagram branded hashtags

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the posts in the search results. The first one is posted by @flawlessdolls, but as you can see in the description below, they’re only reposting someone else’s content.

Instagram branded hashtag content

We’ll examine the account of the original content creator instead. The original content creator is Mari Maria, and judging from her bio, she has expertise in beauty and makeup. Not only is she relevant, but she also has 2.8 million followers. She’s a perfect influencer for Too Faced because she’s already a fan of the brand and has massive reach.

Instagram beauty influencer

2. Search for Relevant Hashtags

If you’re not an established brand yet, or if you’re not satisfied with the results from the previous tactic, you can also conduct a search of relevant hashtags. Just like with the first tactic, you’ll need to examine the results and the accounts of users who have created the content that appeals to you.

Let’s say you’re a brand that wants to promote a new line of ingredients. In this case, you’d ideally be working with foodie influencers who can also cook and implement your ingredients into their recipes. Let’s try searching for the hashtag #homechef and analyze the results.

The screenshot below shows content created by @claudialiciouslondon, which shows up in the search results for #homechef. Next, check out the user’s profile and see if they would be relevant to your campaign.

Instagram relevant hashtag

As you can see in the screenshot below, the user has 12,300 followers, qualifying her as a micro-influencer. In addition, most of her posts are related to food and are of high quality.

Instagram food influencer

3. Use the Right Tools

You can also make use of influencer marketing tools to simplify your search further. Using these tools, you’ll be able to get a list of potential influencers based on a relevant keyword or category. Some of the best tools you can use are BuzzWeb, BuzzSumo, Ninja Outreach, and is an exceptional choice because it’s free to use. And you can easily filter the results based on location and Instagram follower count. So you can easily conduct your searches based on your campaign requirements.

Influence co for Instagram influencer marketing campaigns

BuzzWeb also has a free usage plan, which allows you to conduct searches on over 100,000 influencers. You can then analyze their audience and see which influencers would work best for you.

Or you can skip all of this and work with an influencer marketing agency instead. In this case, the agency will carefully analyze your needs and expectations to connect you with the most relevant influencers in their network.

Execute Campaign Based on Goals

Finally, you can start executing your Instagram influencer marketing campaign based on the goals you’ve set. Some of the most popular types of campaigns on Instagram are:

  1. Sponsored Post: Here, you’ll be paying influencers to create content for your brand. They could simply feature your product in their content or tell an entire story about your product depending on what you choose or need. This type of campaign can be useful for achieving any type of goal.
  2. Contests: Send out free products to influencers so they can organize a giveaway contest. This is an excellent tactic to engage a new audience and can help you gain new followers to raise brand awareness. It could also help build buzz around a new product.
  3. Branded Content: You can also feature influencers in your branded content to give the content a little extra push. The content will be created and published by you but involve influencers. For instance, have an influencer create something using your product or participate in your storytelling. Branded content can be effective for promoting a new product or reaching a new audience in general.
  4. Reviews: You could also have influencers review your products so their followers can make an informed decision when buying from you. Make sure the review is as honest as possible so you can win the trust of your target audience. This form of campaign is perfect for those who wish to raise brand awareness, build trust, and drive conversions.
  5. Brand Rep Programs: You could even turn influencers into representatives for your brand. Provide each influencer with a custom discount link or code, which they can share with their audience. For each conversion they drive, pay them a small percentage. This type of campaign can help raise brand awareness and drive conversions effectively.

After you execute your campaign, don’t forget to track your progress and see what kind of results the influencers are driving. Having a custom URL or unique discount code for each influencer will make it easier to track the performance of your campaign. Based on your analysis of the campaign results, make changes and improvements as needed.

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9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze Mon, 15 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Facebook algorithm changes don't mean you should abandon the Facebook News Feed. Here are nine ways you can still succeed, from Jay Baer.

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9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze

The Facebook algorithm is changing again, and it’s bad news for brands who want to show up in the news feed.

In a recent, inscrutable, Kremlin-esque press release, Mark Zuckerberg and team announced that they are changing the Facebook algorithm and will henceforth . . .

“. . . prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to—whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.”

In this release, they also acknowledge that organic reach among business pages will dwindle, and that “engagement bait” posts such as “click like if you want this puppy to live” will be algorithmically punished.

Reactions to this move were immediate among the social media cognoscenti, and ranged from full-blown “The sky is falling” mode to “So what?

Now that everyone has engaged in their newsjacking (the Social Media Examiner BREAKING NEWS video got 273,000 views, and spawned a ton of traditional media opportunities for Mike Stelzner—well played!), let me tell you what all of this really means.

The Facebook Algorithm Separates the Wheat and the Chaff

First, this move should come as NO SURPRISE. Many people (including me) have been predicting this for years.

Remember this: Facebook is a public company. They have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize profits for their shareholders. They do not have a responsibility to maximize your profits. Of course, if they can further entice you to buy more ads by minimizing free exposure, they will do so eventually.

Facebook's responsibility is maximizing profits for shareholders, not maximizing YOUR profits.
Click To Tweet

Further, it is also true that many company posts do not succeed on Facebook today. This is not because Facebook is evil and is trying to convince you to buy ads (although that’s somewhat accurate), but more so because a lot of business content on Facebook SUCKS. It’s a Yellow Pages ad masquerading as an organic social post. It DESERVES to fail. Facebook is just hammering the last nail in the coffin.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you saw something on Facebook and said, “Wow! That’s great content from a business. I cannot believe it doesn’t have more engagement?” Rarely, if ever. The truth is that Facebook’s algorithm already does a pretty good job of separating the wheat from the chaff, at least among business content. Whether they can keep #FakeNews at bay is a different issue for a different post.

The Facebook Algorithm Change Doesn’t Mean Abandon Ship

Will this move make it harder and more expensive for businesses to succeed on Facebook? Probably. But it’s not as if you can just log off the platform, throw up your hands, and go home. There are two billion people using it. Don’t give up. You just need to get better, and get smarter.

Thus, here are the 9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze. None of these are “buy more ads.” Follow them, and you’ll very much still be able to succeed on Facebook, even as a business page.

1. Post Content That Solicits Thoughtful Responses

The key phrase in the press release is that Facebook is prioritizing posts that “spark conversations and meaningful interactions among people.” Given that this all has to be sorted out in a nanosecond, Facebook has to look for behavior that indicates “conversations and meaningful interactions.” What might that be? It’s not “likes” or “shares” or even “comments” per the release. While they don’t overtly describe the desired behavior, my bet is that they are looking for comments of a certain length, and replies to comments.

This is a “conversation” in social media, a threaded back and forth rather a passive clicking of a like button.

So, when you add content to Facebook, try to post about topics that have more than one opinion. Complex, non-obvious topics will work better than topics that everyone agrees upon.

2. Get Serious About User-Generated Content (UGC)

Right in the release, Facebook admits that posts from real people will take priority over posts from brands. This has been the case for a while but will become even more acute. The more you can encourage your actual customers to post on their personal page (and mention your business), the more likely you are to reach a decent audience.

This is the Facebook version of prioritizing consumer-driven word of mouth.

3. Get Serious About Employee-Generated Content (EGC)

Similarly, most of your team members have a personal Facebook account. They will likely have a better chance at Facebook engagement than will your company account.

This will be a boon for employee advocacy software programs (I am an investor in a great one, Trap.Itas companies try to encourage their team to carry the messaging water on behalf of the organization.

4. Post How-To and Youtility Content

Facebook says they will de-prioritize viral videos and other content that is passively consumed on the platform. However, they will give extra credit via the Facebook algorithm to content that attracts conversation. Think about how you can post how-to videos, video FAQs, and other interactions that encourage viewers to ask questions.

Using Facebook for customer service and customer support and showing off interesting and innovative product use cases, etc. could be very successful in this new algorithm environment.

5. Use Live Video

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Facebook is going to push recorded video down the priority list a little, in favor of live video. This is because live video is often more urgent and important, but mostly because it routinely generates more conversation. In the press release, Facebook says live video gets SIX TIMES more interactions than regular videos.

If you’re using video on Facebook, it’s time to ask yourself why that video isn’t live. Do you lose some production polish? Possibly. But if the Facebook algorithm is going to push live video up, and recorded video down, it’s absolutely worth trying to make it work live.

6. Create Facebook Shows

Similarly, it’s time to stop random acts of content (one of my 10 Content Marketing Commandments for 2018). This is particularly true on Facebook. If our overlords at FB want conversation, the best way to achieve that is for the people likely to create that conversation to actually KNOW WHEN THE CONTENT IS COMING.

Think of your Facebook strategy like a TV network thinks about their schedule. Every Wednesday, they have the same shows. The shows do not change. Viewers know when to tune in, or at least set their DVRs. You need to do the same. Create one to three Facebook shows and replicate them every week at the same time.

7. Engage Your Community with Facebook Groups

Already, some of the most rewarding elements of Facebook are contained in Groups. Group-created content performs better in the news feed and is often delivered to members via email, depending upon how they have their notifications configured.

If you don’t have a Facebook Group for your best customers, prospective customers, employees, fans, or some other cohort, 2018 is the year to experiment with it. For business, Groups work in ways that the news feed simply does not.

8. Use Messenger Bots to Deliver Choice Content

Messenger and WhatsApp are still Facebook’s play to take over the person-to-person messaging space. Already, I bet you’re getting way more notes from your friends on Messenger than you were six months ago. Why? Because it breaks through the clutter of the inbox, and it’s easy to add multimedia.

Adoption isn’t universal yet, but it’s moving quickly. If you can develop a solid Facebook Messenger bot that can deliver solid content to your audience, the response rate is MUCH HIGHER than for email, and INFINITY HIGHER than for the news feed. You want people to see your stuff? Get them to subscribe to your bot.

Want to see how it works? Click here to subscribe to my bot, and I’ll send you cool stuff now and then.

9. Use the Mom Test

Remember that when you publish content on Facebook that does NOT succeed, it impacts the likelihood that the next piece of content will succeed. This means that the rich get richer, and the boring get forgotten. When in doubt, do NOT PRESS PUBLISH unless you’re fairly certain the content will indeed create conversation.

I use “The Mom Test” to help with this decision. I ask, “Would my Mom, who loves me unconditionally, engage with this content?” If the answer is “yes,” then at least you’re on the right track. If the answer is anything else, think very long and very hard before posting, because if your Mom doesn’t love your post, I’m almost positive that Zuckerberg and Co. won’t love it either.

Facebook not giving you the ability to send mediocre content to your customers for free isn’t the end of the world. In fact, they are probably saving businesses from their own worst instincts, in some cases. But all is not lost. You can still succeed on Facebook WITHOUT SPENDING A TON OF MONEY if you follow these nine antidotes.

If my team and I can help you think through these necessary shifts, let us know. Convince & Convert works with many of the world’s most interesting brands. What do we do? We’re personal trainers for digital marketing and word of mouth. If you want to shape up, holler

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Is Our Social Media Terminology About to Change? Thu, 11 Jan 2018 14:09:19 +0000 Social media platforms are beginning to outgrow their terminology. When will we stop calling all these increasingly interconnected networks "social media"?

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Is Our Social Media Terminology About to Change

“She does social media,” is the go-to introduction my friends bestow on me at parties. In 2018, in a world where many of my millennial friends have more captivating Instagram accounts than me, this introduction sound about as impressive as, “She Googles real good.”

Who doesn’t?

Currently, I don’t directly manage any brand’s social media channels, though I have in the past. Instead, I most often consult in overall digital strategies that involve many promotion outlets, be it email, website, social media, and/or display.

That said, my friends’ misleading introduction results in some lovely party conversations, the most recent being, “Do you think we’ll always call social media ‘social media’?”

As the resident social media expert person, I blurted out, “Of course! What else would we call it? We still call TV ‘TV,’ don’t we?” I chortled. My friends chortled. We all slapped knees (our own, not each other’s). The conversation pivoted.

I went home, brushed my teeth, changed into my egg jammies, and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night Don’t Wake Daddy-style. We don’t call it “TV”; we call it Netflix, Hulu, or whatever specific show we intend to binge watch. Unless we spent time staring at some reality show we’d rather not admit to watching, we rarely say, “I just watched TV.”

Now that my moment has passed to have this dinner party conversation with man buns (brotrepreneurs) over cheap wine, I ask you: When will we stop calling social media “social media”?

Don’t get me wrong—this will be a mass effort, a shift of the collective conscious—we will not solve it here. However, in the way someone circa 2010 started asking where she left her “phone,” abandoning “cell” as if the specifier was superfluous, someone will start calling social media “social.”

Oh, no. We already use “social” in isolation. Has the end begun? Probably.

The Evidence ‘Social Media’ Is on Its Way Out

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 (over five years ago?!). Almost immediately, the two began melding into one. Facebook introduced video; then Instagram introduced video. Instagram introduced Stories; then Facebook introduced Stories. Now, ads can be sent through both platforms at the same time, from the same tool, using the same audience parameters.

Will Instagram eventually just become Facebook? Will we call all newsfeed-centric social media platforms “Facebook” in the way we colloquially deem all search engines “Google”?

What happens when Facebook overtakes YouTube once and for all? YouTube, a platform I’ve always struggled to call a “social media,” had a rocky 2017. With ridiculous scandals, a massive redesign, original shows, and mixed Red reviews, who and what is YouTube anymore?

For one, YouTube is a sibling of Google and therefore, undoubtedly, a powerful ad platform. However, advertising alone social media does not make, young padawan.

What happens if Netflix introduces comments à la Youtube? What happens if Snapchat introduces a discovery section à la Instagram? Wait, did Snapchat kind of already do that? What happens if Twitter . . . nah, I’ve all but given up on Twitter.

Nevertheless, what are we going to call all these social media platforms as they evolve? It seems to me they are outgrowing their terminology.

Will we one day call all feed-centric social media 'Facebook' like we call all search engines 'Google'?
Click To Tweet

Does Any of This Really Matter?

I don’t know, man. Maybe analyzing terminology just feels like splitting hairs. Still, sometimes you need a silly question like “when will we stop calling it social media” to get the brainstorming juices flowing, to tiptoe to the questions that really matter to your business as we cruise through 2018, such as:

  • Where is social media going?
  • Where is our audience likely to be in five years?
  • What platforms should we consider adopting?
  • Where should we be putting our digital advertising dollars?
  • What type of content will we need to produce? Video? Audio?
  • Are we ready to serve a mobile-first audience?
  • What are we measuring in terms of KPIs?
  • Are we converting? If not, why?

Scary questions, right? In time, they will need to be answered. But for now, tell me, what are your 2018 predictions for social media terminology? Better yet, what changes to individual social media platforms will necessitate the evolution of our current lexicon?

I’ll grab my cheap wine. Brotrepreneurs, come one, come all.

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The Secret to Leveraging Purchase Intent Through Instagram Mon, 08 Jan 2018 14:00:00 +0000 Instagram's challenge is switching a user’s mindset from passive browsing to active shopping. Here's how to make the most of that purchase intent.

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The Secret to Leveraging Purchase Intent Through Instagram

Instagram is the king of engagement. People flock to the platform to see what friends are up to, get the latest news and celebrity updates, and window shop their favorite brands. The challenge for companies using Instagram as a marketing tool is switching a user’s mindset from passive browsing to active shopping, and getting them to click through to products or content outside of the social platform.

Unwanted interruptions won’t inspire users to take action. However, with the right approach, you can measure purchase intent and increase conversion rates through Instagram.

The challenge with Instagram is switching a user’s mindset from passive browsing to active shopping.
Click To Tweet

Create Desire, Then Follow the Data

While Instagram as a social platform is not new, its usefulness as an e-commerce channel remains cloudy for many marketers. This is especially true for non-millennials who are less familiar with the platform.

With the release of a new API in July, Instagram now offers all business accounts the ability to track organic content performance on third-party tools. A new comment moderation feature also gives businesses added control over how users interact with their feed. Brands are gaining a clearer idea of how their followers behave within the app. However, getting people to click through to a mobile-optimized website is still the best way to glean insights into their purchase intent.

If people do click on a product link from Instagram (say a watch, or a piece of jewelry), this is usually a sign of high intent to purchase. Once someone visits your website from an Instagram link, you can start to identify what they’re most interested in.

Use Instagram to Promote Purchases

When using Instagram to drive conversions, you want to know how many people land on your website (and ultimately make a purchase) from the platform. Instagram has implemented two new features in recent months that help promote and measure conversions.

If you have a business account with more than 10,000 followers, you can use the “swipe up” function on Instagram Stories. This lets you add a link to a specific product page on your website.

With Shoppable Instagrams, companies can tag products in their regular Instagram posts. This feature originally had a limited roll-out, but the integration is now available to thousands of Shopify’s merchants and any U.S. company using Bigcommerce, an e-commerce platform that serves over 50,000 businesses.

Tagging products helps identify which items earn the most traffic and allows you to build engagement around them. To get users out of the browsing mindset and into a purchasing one, use a pixel to track them. Retarget them on social channels or search engines with ads for the products that caught their attention. Then, use A/B testing with different images and CTAs to see which method drives the most conversions.

As you build your process, reverse-engineer your findings to see where purchasing intent tends to originate. You can use in-app insights to see what types of products or posts your followers interact with most. Use this data to inform the links you include in Instagram stories and ads. See how many purchases came from a specific product link within an Instagram ad or story, and use that knowledge to further refine your marketing approach.

Our team at Later created a tool to help companies determine which products users are most interested in and which posts see higher click-through and conversion rates.

Keep Consumers Engaged on Instagram

Once users engage with your Instagram, you can track and identify user behavior to drive them to your website landing page. But you’ll also want to keep users engaged with your Instagram account to help further your brand’s reach. The best way to do this is to continue providing valuable content. This two-step process can help make that happen.

1. Develop a Comprehensive Content Strategy

Your audience wants to relate to your brand through your Instagram posts. Don’t just flood your Instagram with purchase links—tell a story they want to hear. Build a content strategy that fosters a relationship with your audience while educating them on your business and products.

To ensure your Instagram content is consistent and relevant to your audience, use a content calendar and visual planner to plan out what to post and when. Do a bit of research to find the optimal time of day to post. We surveyed social media managers and found that the best times to post to Instagram are generally lunchtime and between 7 and 9 p.m., but different times may work better for you. Instagram can also show you the most popular times of day for your followers through its Insights tool.

Once you’ve nailed down optimal times to post, plan out the photos and captions you’ll post. Keep your audience engaged with your posts by choosing themes for specific months or seasons, running contests or giveaways, and interacting with fans who post about your brand.

Greats, a Brooklyn-based shoe company, has perfected its Instagram content strategy. The company’s Instagram blends Italian pride (the shoes are Italian-made), lifestyle content, and product news to connect with its millennial following.

Greats shoes Instagram strategy

2. Embrace User-Generated Content

Instagram remains a social platform—to succeed on it, your brand has to be social. Interacting with user-generated content is one of the most authentic strategies at your disposal to build engagement around product pages.

Vanity Planet recently ran an A/B test that helped the company increase visits to its checkout page by 24 percent simply by linking to users’ real-life Instagram photos on product pages. With 76 percent of consumers perceiving user-shared content as more honest proof of credibility and trustworthiness than brand advertising, companies can no longer afford to draw an absolute line between brand and user-generated content.

To embrace user-generated content, encourage your followers to tag you in the photos they take of your products or services. Repost those photos with shoutouts to the users who originally posted them. Not only will people featured on your Instagram feel great that a brand used their photos and mentioned them, but your followers will see that real-life people are interacting with your brand and loving it.

Instagram might seem impenetrable on the surface, but brands that learn how to navigate it reap the rewards of improved engagement, conversions, and brand perception. With the right approach to both content and data, you can transform your Instagram presence into a more profitable arm of your social media strategy.

Tracking sales and ROI through social media has become increasingly important. Are you strategically engaging and retargeting visitors from your Instagram page?

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How to Build a Social Campaign for a Hard-to-Reach Audience Fri, 29 Dec 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Connect with even your hardest-to-reach audiences using targeted social campaigns, niche content, and intentional amplification.

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How to Build a Social Campaign for a Hard-to-Reach Audience

The merits of using social media campaigns in business are hard to deny, but they also don’t always seem perfectly suited to every business in every industry. If you’re struggling with how to use social media in your prospect outreach because your audience seems unreachable, keep reading. Here’s a look at a powerful story of how NetApp and Cisco, along with partners, overcame similar challenges in order to increase FlexPod’s digital presence and engage with its technical audience.

The Challenge of a Hard-to-Reach Audience

Initially, the challenges seemed plentiful. For one, the audience we wanted to reach included engineers, architects, and executives, none of which are historically avid social media users. Furthermore, FlexPod is a leading converged infrastructure solution, so buyers are generally well-educated, highly technical individuals. The quick and informal nature of social media doesn’t naturally lend itself to this type of material, so there was a further challenge in figuring out how to make this work.

NetApp and Cisco partnered with our team at Yeager Marketing to create a compelling social nurturing campaign, adding in Mercer-MacKay Digital Storytelling to support content amplification through FlexPod’s Twitter channel. Our team ended up delivering the FlexPod Brainteaser Campaign, resulting in the highest-performing campaign in both Cisco and NetApp history. In a span of eight months, ten posts generated over 900,000 impressions and over 8,000 clicks across three main social channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s how we did it, so you can apply similar principles to your biggest social challenge.

Finding a Point of Entry

“We wanted to launch a FlexPod social media campaign that would create buzz and conversation across our target audience,” said Robin Holden, Global Alliances Marketing, NetApp. “But gaining social media mindshare from the engineers, architects, and executives we want to reach is tough. We needed a content strategy that would resonate with smart, busy people who solve problems for a living.”

So the team at Yeager Marketing dove into the messaging around FlexPod and worked to find out what would gain the attention of this particular group of prospects. Since all members of the target audience were in problem-solving roles and generally proud of their knowledge level, our team landed on the word “smart” as a focal point. We decided on a Brainteaser campaign that intrigued visitors and piqued their problem-solving nature. Each brainteaser was attractively designed and included a compelling call-to-action like “Solve the Mystery” or “Your Challenge” as the title, hitting on the one thing that most of these engineers, architects, and executives would have a hard time turning down (solving problems).

Once users clicked on the brainteaser, they arrived at a landing page that provided the opportunity to download additional FlexPod resources. Cisco and NetApp also made the decision to give a donation of $1 per opt-in they received to the One Laptop Per Child organization. They did this to reinforce the companies’ commitment to giving back and to encourage more opt-ins by supporting a worthy (and relevant) cause.

Amplify by Sharing

The brainteaser content was effective on its own when distributed through the NetApp and Cisco social media channels. However, our teams wanted to make it easy for employees and partners to extend the reach of all these materials. To do this, we developed an email nurture campaign that included one-click sharing capabilities. We also made sure to equip all salespeople, alliance managers, and the FlexPod partner ecosystem with good content to help establish themselves socially and position themselves in an authentic way as subject matter experts online.

The sharing didn’t stop there, however. NetApp, Cisco, and our team at Yeager Marketing also included Mercer-MacKay in our efforts, the team responsible for handling the @FlexPod Twitter handle. “On average, we see about 15 percent growth in followers month-over-month. But the numbers spiked both in followers and engagement once the Brainteaser campaign started,” said Gail Mercer-MacKay, chief storyteller at Mercer-MacKay. “Two years ago, Twitter @FlexPod had about 1,000 followers—now we are well over 10,000 and growing. But more important is that the community is invested and engaged.”

2 years ago, @FlexPod had ~1K followers. Now they have well over 10K and growing. Here's why.
Click To Tweet

Highly Targeted Equals Big Results

The collaboration among NetApp, Cisco, Yeager Marketing, and Mercer-MacKay was seamless. Each of our companies played to their strengths and focused on complementing the others’ contributions. As a result, the Brainteaser campaign became the highest-performing social media campaign in both NetApp and Cisco history, achieving extraordinary results across LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, including:


The targeting of the content, crafted specifically to cater to the minds and penchants of the desired audience, is largely responsible for this impressive response. All of this propelled the FlexPod Brainteaser campaign to receive a finalist spot in the Killer Content Awards 2016 and in the Cisco Marketing Velocity Awards 2016. It’s also a testament to the fact that even audiences who are traditionally hard to touch on social media can be reached, powerfully, when targeted with niche content and intentional amplification.

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4 Strategies for Connecting With Schools on Social Media Thu, 14 Dec 2017 15:00:00 +0000 Social media is the perfect channel for marketing to schools, where teachers are influencers. Connect with schools on social media using these strategies.

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4 Strategies for Connecting With Schools on Social Media

For young students, there’s no forbidden door more enthralling than the one labeled “Teacher’s Lounge—Staff Only.” What’s going on in there? Wild parties?

The truth is much more mundane than the fabrications of a nine-year-old’s mind. They’re likely to find teachers doing the same thing in their downtime that most working adults do: perusing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The Social Side of Educators

Teachers are humans, too. They catch up on social media just like the rest of us. So for companies that want to speak to educators, there’s no better place than social.

In many ways, social media is the perfect marketing medium for reaching educators. When the creative well runs dry, teachers search for inspiration online for new lessons. If they’re looking for fun, engaging classroom design ideas, they check out colleagues’ Pinterest boards. In Facebook and LinkedIn groups, they trade tips and tricks gleaned from their own experiences.

Brands on social media typically find teachers to be a receptive audience. In a recent MDR study, about a third of teachers said that they trust social media for product information, and about two-thirds have become fans, friends, or followers of a company’s social media accounts.

Teachers are always hunting for ways to improve the learning environment in their classrooms. If they discover a product that can help, they’ll invest in it. According to our study, teachers spend about $480 of their own money on school supplies each year.

Most teachers buy classroom items online—in fact, 80 percent have made purchases on the internet. But teachers don’t just hop online and click that “Check Out” button. Teachers are all about learning, and they use the internet for that, too. 75 percent of them head to the internet first when they’re looking for information about a product.

Social media is the perfect marketing medium for reaching educators.
Click To Tweet

How to Reach Teachers Online

Even if your company isn’t selling glue or colored pencils, getting in teachers’ good books can still make a difference. Teachers are influencers. When they love your antibacterial wipes, they’ll recommend your brand to parents. If teachers are fans of your young adult novels, they’ll share them with students. And if they like your technology, they’ll say so to administrators.

If your company is ready to boost its signal on social media to reach teachers, here are a few marketing strategies to get started.

1. How-To Videos

Teachers love fun, interesting lessons as much as students do. But after being bombarded with questions and suffering from decision overload all day, teachers have little energy left to create engaging activities.

A how-to video that clearly and succinctly describes a great classroom activity is like gold to teachers. Think about those short recipe videos you see all over social media. Use a similar style in your videos: snappy, 30–60 seconds, cute, clear, and well-produced. A fun, helpful video will spread like wildfire among teachers on social media.

If your company isn’t particularly education-focused, WeAreTeachers can help. PepsiCo recently worked with WeAreTeachers to produce a video about recycling a plastic bottle into a trophy. The video gave teachers a new craft project, and Pepsi and its recycling initiative got some exposure. It’s a win-win.

2. Giveaways and Sweepstakes

Teachers love free stuff as much as anybody else. If they can get something at no or reduced cost for their classrooms, they’ll jump at it.

In addition to hosting how-to videos, WeAreTeachers promotes giveaways for clients who want to reach teachers. These campaigns often bring in 5,000-10,000 teacher sign-ups each.

Sweepstakes can put your company in front of thousands of teachers and get your products into schools where even more people will see them. Sanford Health’s fit4Schools partners with MDR for a fitCommit Sweepstakes. Sanford holds sweepstakes for teachers who commit to doing one healthy thing for their classes. Winners get all kinds of fun prizes for both the gym and the classroom.

3. Timely Lessons

Teachers and parents often turn to social media for inspiration around teachable moments. So if your company has a connection to a news story, holiday, or upcoming event that might be relevant to teachers or students, talk it up on social media.

For example, October is Fire Safety Month. To get the word out to teachers and their students, the National Fire Protection Agency produced an entertaining classroom video aimed at students about the history of firefighting. Through this video, as well as fire safety games, a teacher website, and more, the NFPA spreads awareness about its organization and the important issue of fire safety. Teachers, for their part, get timely, safety-focused content to teach in their classrooms.

4. Student Competitions

Many companies also reach out to schools, students, and teachers with competitions. One example is Samsung’s annual “Solve for Tomorrow” competition, which challenges middle and high school students to use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts to improve their communities. Samsung promotes this event to teachers on the WeAreTeachers Facebook Page.

Teachers love events like “Solve for Tomorrow” because they combine hands-on learning and healthy competition. Students and schools can win prizes, while their communities benefit from student-led initiatives.

Behind that teacher’s lounge door, you may sometimes find cake and balloons. But most of the time, you’ll see a group of people committed to their job discussing ways to improve their schools, their students, their communities, and themselves.

Companies may not have a physical seat in that “social network.” In online versions, however, they’ll find that teachers are more than willing to connect.

The post 4 Strategies for Connecting With Schools on Social Media appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

6 Reasons to Unite Your Customer Service and Marketing on Social Media Tue, 05 Dec 2017 19:12:48 +0000 Ditch the siloed approach to social media marketing and social customer service. Unify your service and marketing, and reap these six rewards.

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6 Reasons to Unite Your Customer Service and Marketing on Social Media

If you haven’t ventured over to REI’s social accounts lately, you should. Something amazing is happening. For years, we’ve been told that silos between customer service and marketing are just facts of life–something to expect. Yet, REI’s customer service replies look like, feel like, and even using the same language as their other posts.

It’s common knowledge at the enterprise level that silos wreak havoc. But how to fix the problem? REI breaks theirs down through social, a channel more visible and real-time than any other. Social should be your brand’s first responder: available to support your customers whenever they want to reach out.

The management of social channels is evolving at a mind-numbing pace. Customer expectations, network features, and, as a result, business responsibilities have grown, creating pressure on the different teams responsible for handling social channels. According to recent Forrester research, one of the most significant hurdles to excelling in this new reality is support teams and marketing teams not being on the same page. The report’s authors, Ian Jacobs and Erna Alfred Liousas, say that when brands don’t tackle these silos, “customers lose.”

On the flipside, creating alignment can pay dividends. Customers enjoy a better and more consistent experience, and brands gain more control of the customer journey. Let’s explore six great benefits businesses reap when service and marketing unify on social.

1. Consistent Brand Voice

REI recently dedicated the remainder of 2017 to promoting gender equality in the great outdoors. The effort is called Force Of Nature: It tells the stories of women outdoors, features female-oriented adventure gear, and of course, boasts a hashtag. So when REI’s marketing team publishes a post on the latest women’s rock climbing gear (which was finally brought up to the same standards men have enjoyed), the folks replying are right there with them. For a brand to live its values—that is, on its public social channels—marketing and support must be united.

REI’s marketing team spearheaded the #forceofnature campaign, but it was Support who spotted and responded to this fan’s touching photo.

Marketing owns the voice of the company, while service owns that voice’s support. Both are well-versed in talking to customers and prospects. It’s marketing’s job to ensure what they say to customers matches how service is responding. When REI’s support team uses marketing’s #forceofnature hashtag, they reinforce marketing’s message and unify the brand’s voice.

For a brand to live its values on public social channels, marketing and support must be united.
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2. Unified Customer Experience

I recently purchased a GMC. After the enthusiastic, smiling, and incredibly friendly salesperson handed me the keys, I was back just a day or so later for some follow-up services. And what do you know? An equally enthusiastic, smiling, and incredibly friendly service person was there to greet me right when I pulled in.

Car dealers learned a long time ago that offering an excellent customer experience anywhere the customer interacts with their brand is not only a differentiator but something they can use in marketing. Brands should take this same approach on social: No matter how a customer wants to interact with a brand, they should expect a cohesive experience.

3. Smarter Planning

Spredfast’s vice president of Research and Insights, Chris Kerns, created one of my favorite quadrants ever. It describes various scenarios marketers might encounter on social and was originally designed to help brands understand real-time marketing. But, with a bit of rewording, it works perfectly to help brands get service and marketing on the same page when it comes to the type of scenarios they may encounter with their marketing content.

Chris Kerns quadrant

  • Planned messages: These are scheduled social posts your brand plans well ahead of time. These are the messages you control and can include anything from daily engagement to huge product announcements.
  • Agile messages: These are opportunities that may arise or problems that pop up during events known well in advance. For example, the Oscars botching the best picture announcement and your brand deciding to make a post about it.
  • Watchlist messages: These are known topics that could bring about a totally unanticipated headache. Example: The President of the United States decides to tweet about your pending military contract.
  • Left-field messages: These are things you know nothing about that flare up on a semi-regular basis. Wendy’s could not have predicted that their response of “18 million” to a kid who asked how many retweets it would take to get chicken nuggets free for a year would turn into the hashtag #nuggsforcarter (and become the most retweeted tweet of all time).

In every quadrant, coordination between marketing and customer support makes the brand’s overall response smarter. Giving visibility to the support team on the upcoming editorial calendar pays dividends: Teams can plan resources, write FAQs, and pre-approve response language more effectively. Marketing keeps support up-to-speed on upcoming posts and big brand events, both internal and external. Both teams win big.

4. A Holistic View of the Customer

Stellar customer experiences are the foundation for loyalty and advocacy, but you can’t expect the customer to feel the love if you greet them like a stranger every time they reach out because of your internal setup. As Forrester says, “Customers don’t care about your internal organizational silos.”

When the service and marketing teams have a united view of their audience, everyone wins. The marketing team gains valuable information about the people who are contacting the brand and for what purpose, helping to identify influencers and better segment their audiences. The support team has a full interaction history, meaning they don’t need to dig around or ask the customer for information they have already given in previous interactions. The customer receives a personalized experience tailored to their particular location, status, and personal preference.

5. Data to Influence the Rest of the Business

Brands use social data to inform product decisions and trigger PR responses on the marketing side. The most advanced companies also include information gathered via social support channels into their day-to-day decisions—like influencing the type of products that need to be on the shelves, tracking the most commonly reported issues on a product, or helping R&D make decisions on product direction. Social care data can help with triggering recalls, informing press releases, and understanding if the brand has “permission” to lean in on an inevitable controversy—or should stay far away.

The marketing team understands the macro trends on social. The support team can spot potential PR threats early and use that information to prepare for a crisis. The customer support team can, well, “support” its marketing team, too. The support team can help the marketing team understand when a brand wants to lean into a conversation, or even what messaging is working best.

6. Breaking Down Social Silos with Technology

“Technology to the rescue!” says the technology marketer. But it’s true. It’s the origin of why we (Spredfast) exist. Facebook, Twitter, and others have made it easy for someone to reach out to your brand, publicly and privately. But brands historically lack a unified interface or controls for the tens, even hundreds, of people who work for the brand that needs access to those channels. It’s technology, specifically Spredfast, that allows for teams across the company to control company social accounts. Spredfast provides a holistic picture of customers on social, keeping track of history and influence. Spredfast also provides visibility into planned content, collaboration among teams via chat, workflows between groups, and enables shared asset libraries.

But establishing an integrated social strategy is only half the battle. Marketing and support teams must unify on the technology platform that drives this strategy. It’s what makes all of the benefits possible, ensuring your company’s values truly come across to customers no matter where they interact with your brand.

But How?

With two cooks in the kitchen, you might ask, “Who will do what?” If marketing and support are together on social, it must be clear who will address which types of interactions, on which channels, and to what extent. Typically, in a “best of both worlds” scenario, the marketing team owns proactive messages, focusing on brand awareness, lead generation, conversion, and driving positive mentions of their brand. The support team will react, handling questions, problems, and complaints. Basically, if the content is negative or requires some action from the business, it likely belongs to the support team.

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. How can you improve the way your business communicates with people? Customer interactions on social offer brands too valuable of an opportunity to not get right. Forrester offers great advice on how you can be using social to bridge the gap between marketing and customer service.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a paid partnership between Convince & Convert and Spredfast. To find out more about how Spredfast can help you tackle the divide between support and marketing at your enterprise, request a demo today.

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4 Reasons Marketers Should Embrace Instagram Over Snapchat Mon, 13 Nov 2017 15:30:25 +0000 Shrinking Snapchat engagement and new innovations at Instagram suggest that marketers should start embracing Instagram over Snapchat.

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4 Reasons Marketers Should Embrace Instagram Over Snapchat

The race between Snapchat and Instagram might finally have a clear winner. Adweek recently announced that Instagram Stories, an Instagram feature considered to be in direct competition with Snapchat, now has 250 million daily active users—more than Snapchat’s entire user base. But even more impressive than Instagram’s number of daily users is the speed at which the app continues to grow compared to its competitor.

According to Apptopia, Snapchat lost six percent of its daily users from May 2016 to May 2017. During that same stretch, Instagram grew its daily user count by 7.7 percent. Apptopia also reports shrinking Snapchat engagement and increased Instagram engagement. This suggests that Instagram—not Snapchat—is the platform of the future for marketers.

Instagram—not Snapchat—is the platform of the future for marketers.
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The Fall of Snapchat

The decline could be even worse than Snapchat is letting on. When Nick Cicero, CEO of creative studio and video analytics company Delmondo, had his company analyze 21,500 Snapchat Stories, the numbers it found are alarming: From August to November 2016, Snapchat saw a decrease of about 40 percent in the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story.

Meanwhile, Matt Cutshall, a former Vine and Snapchat star now enjoying life on Instagram, recently told Buzzfeed: “For me, Snapchat has completely fallen off.”

Part of the reason for this decline is that Snapchat is focusing more on its role as a messaging app rather than an e-commerce channel for brands. Separate areas for brands and users provide a clean experience, but when publishers have limited time and budget to spend on social media engagement, Snapchat’s brand quarantine doesn’t provide the best return on investment.

Instagram Stories might be the copycat, but the feature seems to have exceeded Snapchat’s version already. The feature uses the more discoverable background of the main Instagram platform and offers improved brand-focused features without segregating the social messaging and e-commerce aspects of the app. Instagram Stories gives users and marketers the best of both worlds—and users are responding. Mediakix reports that, as of August 2017, influencers were posting to Snapchat 33 percent less often. Meanwhile, those same influencers were posting 14 percent more often to Instagram Stories.

Apparently, Snapchat is fine with this exodus of influencers. When Sarah Peretz, a year-long Snapchat star in the food and beauty worlds, told an executive at Snapchat that she was considering leaving, his response shocked her. He encouraged her to go, saying, “Snapchat is an app for friends, not creators.”

If Snapchat is fine with letting influencers walk, marketers should have no problem heading out with them. Assuming Peretz’s story is true, Snapchat might actually be rooting for that to happen.

New Instagram Features for Marketers

Discoverability is the biggest differentiator for Instagram—and it’s the primary reason users are gravitating to the app. This, combined with smarter tools for marketers, means Instagram now provides a more viable channel for marketing. Below are four in-app reasons marketers should join the migration to Instagram Stories.

1. Extended Stories

Engagement remains king on Instagram Stories, just as it was on Snapchat. Instagram understands its marketing userbase and continues to add features that appeal to both consumers and brands, like Extended Stories.

Extended Stories boosts engagement by allowing Instagram users to upload content from beyond the typical 24-hour window used by Instagram and Snapchat. This allows marketers to pull content created days earlier and post it to their main story. Although not out to the masses yet, a few lucky people are already playing with it, and early results are promising.

For brands and influencers, more control over Stories equals more opportunities to boost engagement and strengthen marketing narratives.

2. Shoppable Posts

Instagram now allows e-commerce brands to link out to their products with links and buttons in posts and Stories. While this gives brands an easy way to drive conversions, consumers also love it: 72 percent of Instagram users claim to have purchased an item they saw on the platform. With 62 percent of Instagram users following brands they love on Instagram, it makes sense for marketers to monetize—either through the app itself or through useful tools that help create a more shoppable app experience.

3. Analytics Tools

Snapchat has never been a friend to marketers in the analytics department. Instagram identified that opportunity to compete, and so far, the Facebook-owned platform is making the most of it.

Snapchat forces influencers and marketers to check their story analytics and take screenshots to share their metrics with brands. Meanwhile, Instagram’s analytics tool, Instagram Insights, makes it easy for businesses and influencers to understand and manage their social engagements. Information like influencer follower demographics, impressions, clicks, and follower activity are all available through the provided tools. Marketers have come to expect this level of sophistication from their analytics. Thanks to Instagram, they finally have access to the kind of data that Snapchat has denied them for years.

4. Access to Facebook Ad Tech

Ever since Instagram entered the Stories market, it’s had one giant advantage over Snapchat: Facebook. With the expansion of Canvas ad format to Stories, Instagram now has a new tool for marketers to use—one that is already wildly successful on Facebook. These full-screen ads load quickly, providing a seamless experience for users. They also give advertisers a chance to engage with users organically as they consume content.

Other tools, like the Power Editor and Ads Manager, allow marketers to save and use Stories media in later campaigns. This streamlines the advertising process, making it easier for advertisers to leverage Instagram content across all Facebook-owned properties. It’s good for Facebook, good for marketers, and good for users. Everyone wins.

Snapchat is still a key player in social media, but it likely won’t share that space with marketers for long. Instagram Stories are already better in every respect for engagement and analytics.

Instagram is commited to keeping marketers on the Stories platform. Now is a great time to learn what the technology has to offer and start reaching an ever-growing user base.

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Why B2B Companies Need to Get Started with Facebook Live Mon, 06 Nov 2017 14:03:17 +0000 Going live on video isn't just for B2C companies. Learn why it's high time for your brand to get started with Facebook Live.

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Why B2B Companies Need to Get Started with Facebook Live

Live video is nothing new. In fact, live broadcasting has been around since the 1950s. However, while people are increasingly familiar with live video—particularly thanks to Facebook Live—there is still hesitation from companies in adopting this strategy to grow their business.

When I speak with B2B companies about Facebook Live, they claim it’s only something for B2C companies and celebrities. I disagree. Any brand trying to increase their trust and awareness with their customer can and should go live on video. In this article, I’ll reveal why B2B companies should go live on Facebook and share tips to get started.

Any B2B brand trying to increase trust and awareness can and should go live on video.
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Live Video Builds Trust with Your Customers

One the greatest benefits of going live is increasing trust with your customers. Live establishes a strong level of humanization that is hard to achieve through your website, email newsletter, or even static videos. Through live video, brands have the opportunity to show their culture and passion for their work. You can be a little less polished so your audience can get a better sense of who you really are as a company.

If you build trust with your audience, they will continue to buy from you and refer you to their network. Trust is a valuable currency these days, and through going live, you can make some hefty deposits into your brand bank.

Live Video Is Highly Interactive

Live video generates real insights in real time. Each episode gives your brand actionable insights that you can fold into your business. Live video can even help draw the attention of current and prospecting clients to a business.

At Experticity, I partnered with our existing clients to broadcast over 25 live episodes on Facebook. Over time, our other clients began to take notice and asked our sales team what it would take to participate in live video. Our sales team started to include live video in their initial sales conversations with prospects as an innovative way to position their brand to the end user.

Here’s a live episode I did with our client LifeStraw where we answered questions from fans and demonstrated their product.

Join us Live with Lifestraw – ask your questions below and enter to win a Lifestraw bottle here:

Posted by Experticity on Thursday, October 13, 2016

Live video is the breath of fresh air we so greatly need in our newsfeeds that also plays in favor of the Facebook algorithm. Facebook announced earlier this year that videos that have high completion rates, and high engagement helps your content rank higher in the newsfeed. It takes practice, but as your brand improves its live video strategy over time, this tactic will help reach your audience through organic content.

Facebook Live Video Is Easily Shareable

Facebook Live allows viewers to ask questions easily, react to live content, and share on their feed. A study by quintly found native Facebook videos (including Live) drove an average of a 1055 percent higher share rate than YouTube. Facebook Live makes it easy for the content to come to the user, rather than the user having to go search for it.

Matt Wolpin from Juniper Networks joined the Social Pros Podcast and shared the success they are seeing from incorporating live video into their content strategy. He shares how they shifted their mindset from looking at social as a lead generation channel to more of an advocacy channel. They saw a 500 percent increase in link clicks year over year and a 200 to 300 percent increase in engagements after launching their live video program.

Here is an episode from the Juniper Networks Facebook page where they interviewed a guest and took questions from their followers about the cloud.

Ask-the-Expert: Scott Sneddon on Multi-cloud

Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud. We’re discussing the future of the cloud with Juniper’s own Scott Sneddon in today’s Facebook Live session at 10AM PST! Join us and share your questions and comments below!

Posted by Juniper Networks on Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Going Live Requires Face(book)ing Your Fears

Live video is scary for a lot of people. Here are the fears I hear most from brands:

  • “What if I make a mistake?”
  • Unsure about Wi-Fi connection
  • “Will anyone watch our live video? Do we have anything interesting to go live about?”
  • Not comfortable on camera

Take a minute and list out your fears. They may include a few from above, or you have a few to add to this list. Now, breathe. It’s going to be okay. I’m going to help you address these fears and share some tips to get you recording in no time.

  • What if I make a mistake? If you’re trying your best but trip over your words a few times, your audience will forgive you. Remember: Live video is a way to build trust, and by being yourself, you can do that.
  • Unsure about the Wi-Fi connection? Test! Before going live on your business page, try going live on your personal Facebook account. You’ll get a better sense of connectivity before you go live with your brand.
  • Will anyone watch our live videos? I can’t answer that question, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. After five to eight live videos, assess your performance. Find what people were attracted to and what may have fallen flat. Address the insights, and pivot your content strategy going forward.
  • I’m not comfortable on camera. I get it. Live video is scary. Think of it, instead, like Facetiming with a good friend for 20 minutes about a topic you both enjoy. Overcoming this fear comes with practice. You’ll feel way more comfortable on your tenth live video than you do on your first.

Amplify Top Performing Live Videos

If 1,000 people find value in your live video, there’s a good chance 100,000 will like it as well. Don’t take engagement lightly—if your audience is asking questions and enjoying what you’re sharing on Live, broaden your audience.

If one of your live episodes performs well, this is a great opportunity to boost the video with paid media. Some live videos drive interesting conversations that you can also share with your email subscribers to amplify the content to a broader audience.

When I started doing the live shows with Experticity, I was nervous that we wouldn’t see much engagement in the beginning. Early on, we were surprised with how much our audience enjoyed the shows and looked forward to upcoming episodes. It was as if we woke a sleeping giant in our content strategy.

If live video is producing good results for your brand, other teams at your organization need to know about it. Live video can benefit various arms of the business by attracting new business, optimizing ad spends, and engaging current clients.

4 Ideas for Your Next Live Video

You’ve seen the data. I’ve given you tips to overcome your live video fears. Now it’s time to hit record and go live. Below are four live video ideas for you to try with your business this month.

  1. Ask Our CEO Anything: In my career, any time I’ve included the CEO in the content strategy, the audience pays attention. CEOs are comfortable being interviewed which makes it easier for them to join a live video. They can share recent questions they’ve received and give a view of where the company is headed in the future.
  2. Join Our Great Debate: Identify two topics that you can pit against each other, and invite your audience to weigh in. Invite a guest to join who holds an uncommon opinion, and allow them to share their reasons for having that opinion. Your audience likely has an opinion, too—give them a platform to share it.
  3. Product Deep-Dive: I find the best live videos are about the most obvious topics that companies often forget about. Host a live video walking your customers through the product, and allow them to share feedback or their own experiences with your product. You don’t always have to create new and exciting content for live video.
  4. Meet the Team: I’ve gotten great results by interviewing employees. Whether they are on the product team or in customer service, they each have their own story and experience with the company that your audience enjoys learning about. This also shows off your culture which helps with recruiting talent in the industry. I’ve had HR tell me they see an increase in applications days after we do live video.

The qualities that make live video so popular with B2C brands—interactive, accessible, and personal—also make it a powerful addition to your B2B marketing toolbox. Why hesitate, when you could be connecting with your audience via such a candid, engaging new medium?

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The 7 Ways Brands Use Social Listening Mon, 30 Oct 2017 14:41:58 +0000 Learn how other brands use social listening, what they're choosing to monitor, and how you can fine-tune your listening strategy for greater social success.

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The 7 Ways Brands Use Social Listening

Listening has become the stalwart of social data analysis techniques. Years ago, in the early days of social’s prevalence in society, brands recognized their buyers were spending more and more time on social, and they asked the obvious question: “What’s everybody saying out there?” Fast forward to today: The questions have become more complicated, and software has become a requirement for answering those questions. As a result, many organizations are turning to social listening tools to make sense of the online conversation.

In March of this year, Clutch released a study analyzing how medium and large businesses use social listening tools. Here’s what they are monitoring with social listening tools:

  1. Customer requests, questions, and concerns: 86% (of businesses surveyed)
  2. Competition: 77%
  3. Brands and products: 75%
  4. Industry terms and trends: 61%
  5. Industry/brand influencers: 60%
  6. Company’s name: 55%
  7. Company’s executives: 44%

What Businesses Monitor with Social Listening Tools

Responses aside, the list above is a relatively comprehensive summary of what you can do with a social listening tool. And frankly, I’d argue you should be doing all of these things—not just the top three or five. Let’s walk through this list and discuss the importance of each and how you can use social listening to execute these tactics more effectively.

Customer Requests, Questions, and Concerns

Social is one of the few multi-purpose communication channels for brands (along with email, chat, etc.). It’s a marketing channel, but it’s also a customer service channel. Customer service representatives often have their own set of tools for managing questions on social, but that doesn’t mean social marketers are exempt from listening to their customers’ commentary on social. They may have the luxury of relying on the customer service and PR teams to handle complaints and crises, but they’re not off the hook on this one.

A social following cannot thrive without a strong community as its foundation, and community is not built by shoving content down people’s throats—it’s built by engaging in conversations. Like any conversation with someone you don’t know well (yet), there are some topics you’ll want to avoid. By using a listening tool to stay aware of the types of concerns and complaints coming through social, you’ll keep from putting your foot in your mouth when you reach out to engage in positive conversation with people who could become brand advocates.

A social media following can't thrive without a strong community as its foundation.
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This one is too easy. Good marketers are both knowledgeable and wary of their competition. As you position yourself for success in the competitive landscape, you’re going to need to know your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. They will tell you all about their strengths on their website; that side is easy. The weaknesses side is a bit more challenging.

Social listening tools make it possible to tap into the rumor mill about your competitors, so you can discover what people don’t like about their brand, products, etc. After you’ve learned their shortcomings from the most credible sources out there—their customers on social—determine how you can double-down on your competitive advantages.

If your brand operates in the fidget spinner market, and you discover your competitor is catching a lot of flack on social for their products breaking, you can reposition your message around the quality and durability of your spinners (assuming that’s a strength of your product). Now you’re better positioned to gobble up market share from the competition. Be careful—this goes both ways. More on that later.

Word clouds for social listening

A word cloud can be a good starting point to determine which of your competitors are being talked about most, especially if you are in a saturated market, and what attributes people associate with your competitors.

Brands and Products

Let’s focus on products for a moment. Most people just think about brands when they think about listening, but you’ve got to go the next layer deeper and analyze the conversation about products as well. There are a couple ways you can do this. (This is one of the places you can tell the difference between a quality listening tool and a tool that’s entry-level.)

  1. Product Category Listening: This is where you listen to a conversation about a defined product segment. For example, let’s pretend you work at Under Armour. Beyond just your brand, you’d also want to listen to what people say about basketball shoes, and then zoom in to analyze what they say about your basketball shoes versus competing products in the same category from Nike, Adidas, etc.
  2. Product Theming: This is where you listen to a conversation around your brand (or a competitor’s brand) and create sub-segments within the conversation about specific products and product lines. For example, you may listen to the conversation about Under Armour, then create thematic segments for posts about shoes, hoodies, shorts, etc.

There are merits to both options. Option one will capture discussion of your products even when your brand name isn’t mentioned. Option two will constrict conversation to your products when your brand name is also mentioned, but you can get a consolidated overview for your brand’s various product lines.

Social listening through thematic segments

Creating thematic segments by product or product characteristics help you determine the scope of conversation and affinity for various products and product lines.

Industry Terms and Trends

Organizations are always looking for ways to extend their own message, and one way to do that on social is to hitch your wagon to a trending hashtag. A good social listening tool will not only tell you what happened but also help you understand what’s emerging. Finding emerging hashtags that (1) align with your brand voice and message and (2) are already being used by people talking about you is an effective way to stay relevant and shareable.

Industry and Brand Influencers

Influencer analysis is something everyone is talking about but only some are doing.

Identifying and listening to influencers have become playing stakes for any respectable listening tool. There are some tools that exclusively do influencer identification; frankly, I recommend just going with a listening tool that has influencer identification functionality. You’ll get more bang-for-your-buck, and you need to be able to see the activity of the influencer within the context of the rest of the conversation to determine if they are in line with the tone of the audience you want to access.

How do you determine what makes a good influencer? Consider what outcome(s) you want from a potential influencer partnership. Are you seeking more reach? Consider someone who has a large following and whose content is shared a lot. Do you want more engagement? Go with someone who gets a lot of engagement on the content they are already posting related to your brand. Do you want to improve brand sentiment? Find someone who is already an advocate for your brand and posts frequently about your brand.

Social listening and audience demographics

Analyzing specific demographic groups by gender, age, and location tells you what types of messages and media will resonate most with a given audience segment.

Company Name

Come on; this one’s too easy. Yes, you should listen to what people say about your brand. Frankly, I’m surprised only 55 percent of people surveyed said they were using a listening tool to hear what people say about their own brand. Not listening to what people say about your brand is like going on vacation and leaving your door wide-open. You’re just asking to get ransacked.

But, even if we entertain the idea of an imaginary world where nobody ever says anything bad about your brand or products on social (see the “Competitive” section above), you’re still in trouble because your content will be tone-deaf. Social starts with community, and community starts with conversation.

Use a listening tool to understand the demographics of the people talking about your brand, what gets them excited (positive sentiment), and what subjects are a little touchy (negative sentiment), so you when you publish your own content, it’s relevant and well-received. People buy from brands they like and boycott brands who make insensitive remarks. Keep your foot out of your mouth. Listen to what people say about your brands and products.

Company Executives

In many ways, social has leveled the playing field for credibility and influence. Maybe Elon Musk isn’t a member of your executive team, but your executives, even at a small company, can be powerful thought leaders and build brand trust. Some brands and many agencies are already leveraging their executives’ social presences as part of their marketing mix, but for those who aren’t already, a listening tool can help you get started.

You’ll want to listen to what competitors’ executives are saying on social, as well as how some of the major executive influencers conduct themselves on social. Your executive team will likely need a little coaching, so study what messages are resonating, what posting frequency is appropriate, and how other executives stay on message while being authentic. Then, after using your listening tool to research these elements, use it to measure the engagement and shareability of your executives’ content, so they can see the difference they are making.

Speaking of measurement, listening tools can do a lot for you, but they can’t do everything. Social is a part of the entire buyer’s journey, which means you’ll also need to measure how people engage with your brand’s social content, how they get to your website from social, and ultimately, the role social played in their decision to become a customer.

If you’re interested in a demo of Simply Measured Listening and the rest of our full-funnel social analytics solution, so you can measure social’s role in the entire buyer’s journey, click here.

This post is part of a paid sponsorship between Simply Measured and Convince & Convert.

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7 B2B Brands Using Instagram the Way You’re Supposed To Mon, 09 Oct 2017 14:00:01 +0000 Show your audience the real people behind your B2B brand using Instagram. These examples from 7 big-name brands can get you started.

The post 7 B2B Brands Using Instagram the Way You’re Supposed To appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

7 B2B Brands Using Instagram the Way You're Supposed To

Instagram is a fantastic platform for B2B marketers. It provides a space for making new connections in almost any industry, at almost any stage in their development. With more than 600 million users, it’s a gold mine for connecting with your current and potential customers.

Over half of millennials are active users on Instagram. You might be thinking, “Why do I want to target millennials?” Well, what if I told you that 40 percent of the workforce in most average companies is made up of millennials? In fact, it’s estimated that in 10 years, more than 70 percent of the workforce will be millennials. You need to be marketing to this demographic, which means you need to consider marketing on Instagram as a great opportunity to build your brand and generate leads.

It’s time for marketers to walk away from the stereotypes about millennials and acknowledge they’ve innovated across multiple industries and now play a major part in the economy. And Instagram is one of the best ways to reach this group of business executives and entrepreneurs.

In this guide, we’ve rounded up several examples of B2B brands leveraging Instagram to get closer to customers and drive real results. You’ll notice that none of these brands use shady, behind-the-scenes tactics like buying and selling followers. We’re talking about real brands reaching real people with unique and interesting content. Here are seven examples of B2B brands doing Instagram marketing the right way.

1. MailChimp Finds Opportunities for Inspired, Whimsical Design

Whimsical content shows the playful side of your business and represents a laid-back yet intelligent corporate culture. Content that embraces good design and takes a different angle with a popular trend will captivate your audience. A fun, whimsical graphic might be the thing that pushes a new follower to learn more about your business.

This post from MailChimp’s Instagram account leverages a timely hashtag (#NationalHotdogDay) and brand name to show MailChimp’s quirky side:

MailChimp whimsical design

At the end of the day, people turn to Instagram to be visually surprised and inspired, often scrolling through their feed mindlessly until something catches their eye. Artistic content is appreciated and gives value to your customers without hiding the fact that the content is marketing-focused.

2. Hubspot Provides Value through Rich Content

HubSpot consistently provides value to its followers on Instagram by posting informational content. This video from July 2017 gives an overview of five different ways a company can promote great work-life balance:

Hubspot video content

This post functions essentially as a mini blog post, giving five key points about a central idea in a way that’s easily digested. The suggestions include remote work options, generous parental leave, and paid time off. Noticeably absent: Blatant marketing for HubSpot!

Hubspot video content 2

HubSpot doesn’t try to use this as an opportunity to plug their own product. It’s all about adding value! The post communicates company values and establishes trust between HubSpot and their customers by offering information without asking for anything in return.

3. Hootsuite Shows Off the Folks Making the Sale

Instagram provides a great opportunity to show off your company’s corporate culture and give your audience a chance to connect with your people. At the end of the day, B2B is really just people selling to people on behalf of organizations and brands. In many industries, B2B sales stills happen on a one-to-one basis, and it’s a brand’s sales rep or account manager who actually closes a deal.

Hootsuite shows off sales reps

Hootsuite often posts images of its employees having fun together at the office, playing ping-pong, volunteering, or bonding over a meal. Just as a hiring manager is likely to check out a potential employee’s social media presence, potential customers are likely to browse the brand’s social media to see what its employees are all about as well. First impressions mean a lot, and an Instagram post that showcases your people and culture could make the difference between a warm first interaction or a call that is as cold as ice.

4. IBM Stays Relevant with Reactive Storytelling

Reactive storytelling means combining a top-of-mind story or idea with a compelling marketing message that your audience finds interesting.

Reactive storytelling

IBM uses reactive storytelling during popular events to share how these events are leveraging the company’s technology. Did you know that the US Open Tennis Championships collects data using IBM technology? Neither did I—until I saw this post a few days ago on IBM’s account.

IBM reactive storytelling

This picture is effective because it uses an interesting perspective—a spectator in the stands viewing live data on their phone—and because the US Open was top-of-mind for so many at the time. People who were following the #USOpen hashtag were likely to come across this post and form an association between the event and the IBM brand.

5. General Electric Keeps Its Brand Interesting to a Wide Audience

There are no boring industries—just boring marketers who are not passionate about their company or engaged with their customers.

A great example of a brand that embraces their history—sexy or otherwise—is General Electric. GE is over a century old and has a history of involvement in some of the most important developments in defense, aviation, and technology, to name a few.

General Electric company history Instagram post

Many people don’t know exactly what GE does, even though they recognize the name, and that is where storytelling becomes important. People respond to nostalgia. Dr. Seuss is a classic figure from many people’s childhoods, and it is interesting and surprising that he made advertisements for GE before writing children’s stories.

As I wrote in the article “How to Create Great Content For A Boring Industry,” your product doesn’t have to be cool, but your story does. If your product is highly technical or you operate in a niche industry, it might be tempting to solely focus on features, but don’t let that discourage you from identifying and amplifying things that make your brand’s story unique.

There are no boring industries—just boring marketers.
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6. IBM Takes Advantage of Its Company History

IBM and General Electric have a long, storied history in the technology industry. Instagram provides a golden opportunity to share some of this history with potential customers who might not have known about your company’s rich history. In B2B sales, there’s credibility at play when it comes to organizations and companies that have stood the test of time.

There’s a common saying in boardrooms: “No one has ever gotten fired for buying IBM.” That saying holds weight across many different industries if you’re a brand that has history. People want to work with companies that have years of experience delivering solutions. People want to work with solutions that have helped organizations like theirs. People want to ensure that when they sign a contract with you, they’re not going to lose their job.

Take this photo from IBM as an example of IBM flexing its history muscle:

IBM leverages company history

This humblebrag throwback highlights a major achievement while building credibility. The fact that IBM is able to highlight its role in establishing the entire PC industry, which changed how people interact with technology forever and made computers accessible to the general public, is huge. Instagram is the perfect platform for sharing these kinds of stories if you’ve got some old photos in the archives or vintage ads. If you have any old content in your archives, dust it off and use it to show your audience how rich your history is.

7. Shopify Keeps Its Content Design Consistent

B2B brands should monitor the consistency of their posts, including how each post looks alongside others to users who visit branded social profiles.

A great example of content consistency comes from Shopify, which recently posted a series of videos from its #buildabiz campaign, showcasing the stories of some of the company’s most successful entrepreneurs.

Shopify Build a Business campaign

Shopify’s Build a Business campaign is now in its seventh session and has become the world’s largest competition for entrepreneurs. Every video from the campaign starts with text overlaid on a black-and-white still photo of one or more people. This design consistency makes for a striking and cohesive story when users visit Shopify’s profile.

Instagram content with faces receives 38 percent more likes. Using faces is an easy strategy that any business can adopt because even if the product you are selling is software, there are people using your product to do great things in their own business. Shopify’s design strategy unifies these stories in a way that makes good design and business sense.

Putting It All Together

The most successful B2B brands on Instagram recognize that the channels being ignored are the channels where opportunities lie. Instagram, while growing quickly, is often still a channel that B2B brands are overlooking as an opportunity to drive results.

Take some of these insights and use them for inspiration to try Instagram for your brand, or maybe try something entirely different. The key here is to recognize that the most innovative brands aren’t those that go with the flow—they’re the ones that take a shovel and create their own stream.

What have you found to be a successful way of finding success on Instagram? Share your thoughts in the comments and help the entire community better understand the value of this channel.

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Is Twitter in 2017 Even Worth the Trouble? Wed, 06 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000 Would it just be easier to quit Twitter? That’s the question social media marketers are asking these days about the little blue bird. Not all that long ago, Twitter was a terrific way to interact with your customers, fans, and colleagues, as well as a solidly reliable method to create engagement around your own content. […]

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Is Twitter in 2017 Even Worth the Trouble

Would it just be easier to quit Twitter?

That’s the question social media marketers are asking these days about the little blue bird.

Not all that long ago, Twitter was a terrific way to interact with your customers, fans, and colleagues, as well as a solidly reliable method to create engagement around your own content.

Only one of these is still true.

No doubt, Twitter remains a conversation platform for media and influencers. And Twitter’s role as a customer service platform remains strong, partially as a result of positive functionality tweaks.

But as a way to get new people to discover your content and read your blog post, or listen or your podcast, or watch your video? Nah. Twitter just doesn’t do that these days.

New research from our partners at RivalIQ found that the average engagement rate on Twitter for brands is now 0.049%. That includes all likes, comments, retweets, etc. Every action but clicks.

Twitter average engagement rate is now just 0.049% (the new banner ad?)
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Thus, according to RivalIQ’s 2017 Social Media Benchmark Report, a tweet to 10,000 followers will, on average, generate 4.9 engagement behaviors.


The New Banner Ad?

Per Dave Chaffey at Smart Insights, the average banner ad click-through rate is 0.05%. This means that Twitter’s engagement rate is actually less than the click-through rate for the much-maligned, often-mocked banner ad.

Twitter engagement rate is now lower than banner ad click-through rate. Yikes.
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Interaction rates in this vicinity do not mean that the tactic is pointless. Considering there are millions and millions and millions of dollars spent on banner ads every day, somebody is making a CTR of 0.05% pay off.

Twitter, I suppose, is the same. A minuscule engagement rate hasn’t yet convinced me to pull the plug on the platform. For now, Twitter is worth it just for the personal interaction and customer service elements alone.

However, big brand social media managers on my Social Pros podcast are consistently telling me that they are spending far less time on Twitter, and devoting little strategic muscle to the platform outside customer service. Further, almost no guests in 2017 have said that they are spending serious money on Twitter advertising, which exacerbates the underlying revenue issues at Twitter.

I’m not saying it’s time to bail out. But I am definitely saying that if your social media strategy relies upon a lot of audience interaction and click generation on Twitter, it’s probably time for an overhaul of that strategy.

Do you agree?

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The 12 Best Social Pros Podcast Episodes of All Time Tue, 05 Sep 2017 13:00:00 +0000 As Social Pros approaches its second birthday, we revisited some of Social Pros' best conversations to bring you this list of the 12 most popular episodes.

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The 12 Best Social Pros Podcast Episodes of All Time

Every week, the Social Pros Podcast serves up insights from real professionals doing real work in social media. Host Jay Baer and his guests dig deep into the inside stories and behind-the-scenes social media secrets at companies like Ford, ESPN, and many more. As Social Pros approaches its second birthday, we revisited some of Social Pros’ best conversations to bring you this list of the 12 most popular episodes since 2015—the best of the best.

12. How Buffer Does Social Media and Why Less Is More

Brian Peters, Digital Marketing Strategist for Buffer, reveals what Buffer’s arsenal of tools and data have taught him about the surprisingly promising future of organic content. This episode serves up fascinating insights into how transparency leads to content gold and why increasing engagement means posting less on social.

11. Which People Skills Are Most Important in Social Media?

Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, teaches us how proper listening can make you a better person, partner, and social pro. As Kerpen explains, even the most well thought-out and perfectly executed social plan can fall flat if it loses sight of the essential humanity of its audience. Listen in to learn the crucial difference between “being interested” and “being interesting,” plus two simple questions that lead to deeper relationships.

10. When and How Does Snapchat Work for Business?

Carlos Gil, Head of Global Social Media Marketing for BMC Software, defends Snapchat as a social tool for B2B and B2C businesses. Carlos knows a thing or two about raising brand awareness and driving global demand through social media, and his perspective on Snapchat is not to be missed.

9. How to Use Social Media to Delight Customers Across 11 Brands

With a global portfolio of eleven brands that encompasses 638 properties in 52 countries, social and customer engagement can be both tricky and overwhelming for Hyatt. Luckily, they’ve got Dan Moriarty, Director of Digital Strategy and Activation. In this episode, he shares his approach to managing a global brand’s social across different platforms, experimenting with new channels, and breeding internal advocacy through employee empowerment.

8. Why Social Media Customer Service Is the New Marketing

80 percent of businesses think they are delivering great customer service, but only eight percent of those customers agree. In this episode, our own Jay Baer digs into this staggering statistic, with help from research featured in Hug Your Haters. You don’t want to miss this one.

7. How to Sell on Social When You’re Not Trying to Sell

Richard Margetic, Former Director of Global Business at Intuit, discusses social media’s role at different stages of the sales funnel and throughout every department of an organization. Listen in for insights on transparency, teachable moments from Google’s failures in social media, dealing with negative reviews, and humanity’s need to be social.

6. How to Use Influencers to Amplify Social Media

Influencers are causing a marketing paradigm shift, and Heidi Sullivan and Todd Cameron can prove it. Heidi, Senior VP at Cision, and Todd, Head of Content and Strategy at TapInfluence, tease their Influence Pros Podcast and share their ever-evolving 50,000-foot view on influencer marketing.

5. Be More Productive in Social Than You Ever Thought Possible

David Horsager, business strategist and best-selling author of The Trust Edge, provides concrete steps to increase productivity and deepen relationships while maintaining peak creativity. His go-to tips for decluttering your professional life will help you get back to focusing on what you love about your job: creating and expanding relationships through creative social engagement.

4. The New Rules of Social Marketing and PR

David Meerman Scott, Marketing and Sales Strategist for Freshspot Marketing, chats with Jay about the latest edition of his bestselling book, The New Rules of Social Marketing and PR, newsjacking, and the unification of sales and PR/marketing. You’ll hear this internationally acclaimed strategist’s take on everything from collaborative networking to the dangers of overzealous influencer marketing.

3. How to Use Content to Build Your Online Influence

John Hall, author and CEO of Influence & Co., pulls back the curtain on creating ambassadors and influencing people through content and social. In this episode, you’ll hear John’s expert advice on scaling influence, gaining trust, staying top-of-mind, and when to prioritize vulnerability over profits.

2. Podcasts and Facebook Are the New Community Levers

Coming in at number two is this must-listen episode with Jason Keath, Founder and CEO of Social Fresh. Jason dives deep into the low-tech ways social media experts are finding success, share his insights on the untapped potential of social media ads, and reveals why Facebook groups and podcasts are leading the charge in building tight-knit online communities.

1. Gary Vaynerchuk and the Currency of Attention

The most popular Social Pros episode of all time stars none other than Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and legendary business-builder. In this episode, Gary talks to Jay about his approach to social media “land-grabbing,” his long game, building your brand in spaces you don’t own or control, and why you can never have too much attention.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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3 Simple Ways to Protect Your Content on Social Media Fri, 01 Sep 2017 13:00:40 +0000 Social media makes content attribution an uphill battle for many brands. Protect your content on social with these simple tactics.

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3 Simple Ways to Protect Your Content on Social Media

Do you own your ideas?

If you strive to position yourself as a thought leader in your field, this question may inspire anxiety. Because your professional success is judged by your ability to cultivate original ground-breaking content, the fear that you will lose ownership of those ideas is very real.

Think of that time you were in a brainstorming meeting, and your coworker spouted off an idea you shared with him in confidence, as if it were his own. Unfortunately, it never goes over well to interrupt your team’s enthusiastic responses to announce, “Um, that was actually my idea.”

We’ve all felt this: If no one knows that you are the source of revolutionary ideas in your company, how can you prove your value to your team and employer?

Brands face the same issue, every day—especially brands whose bread and butter is content surrounding thought leadership. As social media has enabled the wide sharing of ideas by way of articles, photos, and videos, the question of who owns what ideas is only intensifying.

In the social media era, the question of who owns what ideas is only intensifying.
Click To Tweet

Facebook Rolls Out New Protection Tools

In 2017, Pew reported that, through social media, readers identify the source of their news only 56 percent of the time. That means 44 percent of the time, the thoughtful article you labored over for hours, weeks, maybe months, isn’t being attributed to your brand. Ouch.

The good news is that Facebook is identifying these growing ownership issues and taking action. In an effort to increase insight into news sources and article ownership, Facebook is placing publisher logos next to article links featured through trending and search aggregations.

Example of publisher logos on articles on trending news

Publisher logos on articles on trending news

Example of publisher logos on articles on searched news

Publisher logos on articles on searched news

Facebook’s update benefits both brands and consumers. In order to rise above the noise of a clickbait-filled environment, credible sources need their branding in the forefront. Additionally, recognizing and engaging with articles from credible sources remains important for, among other reasons, avoiding “fake news.” In other words, the addition of publisher logos is truly a win-win—a step towards more responsible reading, sharing, and creating.

While this update is currently rolling out on trending and search articles, Facebook’s goal is to place publishers’ logos wherever their content appears. Until then, take steps to protect the ownership of your ideas and content by consistently practicing the following branding techniques.

3 Simple Ways to Protect Your Content

Example of Convince and Convert content protection

  1. To be sure your content is closely knitted to your brand, post and share content from your brand’s website. In doing so, if you or your audiences share your content, your brand’s website will appear in the link preview of the post—a non-editable stamp, naming the content forever yours.
  2. Place your logo in the featured image of your blog posts. As Facebook updated its rules surrounding edited link preview images, your featured blog images will always appear in the link preview and cannot be edited. This means no matter who shares your content, your logo, if placed on the featured image, will always appear with the link to your content. (If your logo contains letters, be sure to abide by Facebook’s 20 percent text rule.)
  3. Stay true to your brand colors and create a reusable treatment to append to your blog posts’ featured images. The image doesn’t have to contain the name and author as we do at Convince & Convert. Instead, consider framing your images or creating a graphic that strongly represents your brand so that, beyond the logo, your images are instantly recognizable.

Finally, if you don’t have time to adjust all your social branding techniques, Facebook has you covered. Marketers itching to jump on the publisher logo bandwagon can use this amazing step-by-step guide provided by the good folks at Facebook.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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6 Ways to Track (and Beat) Your Competitors on Social Tue, 29 Aug 2017 14:00:00 +0000 Outshining your competitors on social is an audience-first strategy. Track and beat your competitors on social media using these six strategies.

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6 Ways to Track (and Beat) Your Competitors on Social

According to recent Pew findings, 69 percent of the public uses social media today. This means that a huge portion of your market is active on social media, which you probably know already—and your competitors know, too. Define, track, and beat your competitors on social media using the tools laid out below.

1. Be Intentional About Choosing Your Competitors

You think you know who your competitors are, but you might not be seeing the full picture. This depends on how you define competitors. There are two categories of competitors.

  1. Your direct competitors: These are the brands competing with you for dollars in the bank. They sell the same (or comparable) product or service.
  2. Your competitors for audience awareness and interaction: These brands don’t do the same thing you do. The overlap is in target audience, as an increasingly large number of brands compete for similar demographics. If you’re having trouble identifying your target audience, check this post out.

You should be tracking competitors from both of these categories on a regular basis, so you can learn which new content ideas and delivery mechanisms your competitors are investing in, learn from their successes and pitfalls, and gain a deeper understanding into which content resonates best with your shared audience.

2. Determine Your Baseline

After you’ve identified the different competitive sets (one for direct competitors, one for audience competitors) that you want to track, it’s time to set a baseline. Run an easy analysis to understand how you stack up against each competitive set, and zero in on the specific posts and campaigns which are driving engagement and audience growth for your competitors.

Then, set a goal. Be as specific as possible when setting your goal: The more specific the goal, the more likely you are to hit it. If you’re behind when it comes to the engagement metrics that matter to your brand, whether those are shares, replies, likes, comments, and/or interactions on a specific social network, set a goal for percentage growth over the next quarter and year.

If you’re ahead, take a look at your past growth, and make a goal to replicate or exceed that growth percentage so that you stay in the lead.

3. Know Who Is Receiving More Positive (and Negative) Sentiment

By viewing the conversation around your industry topic across multiple social channels, from Facebook to Reddit, you can discern whether you or your competitors are defining and dominating the conversation from an earned social perspective. In other words, how do people really feel about you and your competitors? How do you match up when it comes to brand health?

Not all engagement is good engagement, after all.

4. Deliver a Clear, Effective Message

The best way to deliver a message your audience will connect with—and get a leg up on your competitors while you’re at it—is to understand what they’re talking about with one another. How is your target audience interacting with their own following around relevant topics to your brand and industry?

5. Own Relevant Events and Holidays in Your Field

Beating your competitors on social is an audience-first strategy. Which events matter to your audience, and how can you become a part of these conversations? Spend some time researching popular events for your target demographic, listening to what they’re talking about now, and planning your content calendar around the events which are hot in your space.

Beating your competitors on social is an audience-first strategy.
Click To Tweet

6. Be Strategic About Where You Put Your Ad Dollars

There are so many places to spend your social ad dollars. Be thoughtful about which social channels and campaigns you devote money to—and make sure that if your competitors are there, promoting hashtags and boosting posts, you’re there, too. Keep an eye on your competitors’ promoted posts, and use social analytics to gauge which social posts are performing best organically, so you can make smarter ad decisions using that information.

Want to learn more about how you can use social analytics—listening included—to beat the competition? Head to the Simply Measured blog or give our product a spin today.

Get a weekly dose of the trends and insights you need to keep you ON top, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert. Sign up for the Convince & Convert ON email newsletter.

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