How Buffer Does Social Media and Why Less Is More

Brian Peters, Digital Marketing Strategist for Buffer, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss the surprisingly promising future of organic content and why success on Facebook means using less of it.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Social Media Opposite Day

It’s hip to say that organic social is dying, paid content is the only way forward, and you have to blast your content out to break through the noise. But if that’s hip, then it’s finally smart to be uncool.

Brian has put Buffer’s arsenal of social media tools and data to work, uncovering some surprising information in the process.

Not only is organic alive and well, but it can lead to and support a successful paid social strategy. It is the yin to the yang of paid and a well-rounded approach includes dedication to both forms of dissemination.

While video is rising among the ranks of content types, apparently not all formats were created equal. The difference between square and landscape video is the difference between engagement and indifference. Choose your orientation wisely and you will be rewarded.

Last but certainly not least, for a variety of reasons cutting your Facebook posting by 80% can increase your engagement over 300%.

Less truly is more.

In This Episode

  • Why using social media doesn’t mean a focus on driving traffic anymore
  • How transparency of operations leads to content gold for social marketing
  • Why embracing the rise of social video means tossing that landscape option
  • How time spent on cultivating organic content leads to successful paid content in the long run
  • Why increasing engagement means posting less on social

 

Quotes From This Episode

“The best way for us to drive marketing growth is to get people to that blog because they’ll find eminent value there and eventually sign up for the buffer product.” —@Brian_G_Peters

“We’ve started to realize that social media is not necessarily just a traffic driver… it’s more brand awareness.” —@Brian_G_Peters

“We know if they don’t necessarily become a customer now, if they just try the product or even if they don’t try the product, there’s a good chance that interacting with us over time will lead them down that path.” —@Brian_G_Peters

“Transparency opens up a world of content opportunities that you’re just not going to find out there.” —@Brian_G_Peters

“We’re not going to lie and say that we’re the best content creation platform, but we are the platform that will allow you to be most effective with the content that you’re creating.” —@Brian_G_Peters

Focusing on the maximum effect of organic content only provides better paid content in the long… Click To Tweet

“Don’t promote everything because if it’s bad or mediocre, no amount of budget is going to change that.” —@jaybaer

“If you reduce that five to one and you start having to choose between content, it’s pretty incredible how quickly the best content springs to the top of the pile.” —@Brian_G_Peters

“If you think about themes and what each platform is made for, that helps put that content in perspective and how you should be sharing it to each platform.” —@Brian_G_Peters

It's better to be great at one platform than it is to be average at five. Click To Tweet

“If you’re going to commit to social media, you have to also be willing to commit to content.” —@Brian_G_Peters

Resources

 

See you next week!

Transcript

Jay: Welcome everybody to another episode of Social Pros. The podcast for real people doing real work in social media. I am as always Jay Baer from Convince and Convert joined as usual by my special Texas friend, he is the Executive Strategist of Salesforce Marketing Cloud from the great city of Austin, Texas. Please put your hands together unless you’re using a lawnmower for Mr. Adam Brown.
Adam: Unless you’re using a lawn mower, scissors, or other any implements of destruction.
Jay: A riding mower though. If you had a rider mower you can, you don’t have to drive that thing that carefully. It’ll be fine.
Adam: I had to buy a new riding mower a couple years ago and I’ve noticed, and this has probably happened in the last three decades much like cars, when you rate a riding lawnmower, you rate it by the number of cup holders.
Jay: That sounds like mixing activities in a way that could be dangerous. Don’t drink and mow.
Adam: Yeah you have distracted mowing and distracted driving.
Jay: I love it. How do you get your lawnmower home if you don’t have a trailer or giant truck? You just drive it home through the streets?
Adam: That’s right. You put the hazards on. That’s exactly right. You haven’t been to Texas lately, have you?
Jay: I have but maybe not in the right season. I don’t know. I need you to send me a video of the lawnmower on the streets.
Adam: There you go. I think they have delivery services as well.
Jay: You know who doesn’t live in Texas? Or really doesn’t live anywhere officially, our guest on the show today.
Adam: That was the coolest thing I have ever read in a pre-show note interview about our next guest.
Brian: Well, thank you.
Jay: He is unhinged. He is unmoored, he is a man of the streets. Of all the streets. Brian Peters who’s the Digital Marketing Strategist of Buffer, one of my favorite companies in the whole world, is here. Brian, we mention this because you are on this mission, a quest if you will, a vision quest, to live in all the places that there are. You and your wife are changing cities, is it every 60 days? Is that your deal?
Brian: About 60 days, yes.
Jay: Man, I tell you what, it is hard to get mail for you. How do you pick what city to go to? Are you opening up to a voting process or are you just spinning a globe?
Adam: Crowd sourcing?
Jay: Or do you have a plan?
Brian: It usually starts with we’ve kind of dwindled it down to three factors. Number one, absolutely have to have good Wi-Fi. So any, pretty much South American country is out of the question at the moment. Number two, it has to be a city near the outdoors because we do like to spend some time outdoors. Number three, it’s gotta have good food. That’s kind of where we go.
Jay: And you gotta stay one step ahead of the law.
Brian: Always.
Jay: That’s it.
Adam: Those interstate commerce laws.
Jay: Interstate commerce. So where’s your next destination, where are you now and where are you going next?
Brian: Currently in California but I have to say, Jay and Adam, I’m not quite doing the digital nomading thing 100% right because I’m still paying taxes in California and I was speaking with someone the other day, our founder Joel. He was like, “You know you should just establish residency in a state where income taxes are low and then you should travel after that.” Like Texas. Exactly. It blew my mind. I need to figure that out soon.
Jay: Here’s a tip, ladies and gentlemen. If you’re going to go digital nomad, have a good accountant first. That’s my piece of advice for this.
Brian: Exactly. Taxes were not fun.
Jay: That’s it for this week. We’ve had H&R Block on the show. We’ve had Jackson Hewitt on the show. We’ve had a number of great social media managers from big tax brands on the show so if you need any tips we can hook you up. Just go through the show notes at socialpros.com.
Brian: Perfect. Love it.
Jay: Brian, for anybody out there listening to the podcast, this is unlikely, but just in case they’re not familiar with the supernova of Buffer. Tell them a little bit about what you do, how the software works, and how your team’s structured.
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. If you’re not familiar with Buffer, we are … our elevator pitch would be we’re an intuitive social media tool allowing you to essentially schedule all of your social media posts across platforms. We also happen to provide some nifty other tools along with that like re-buffering your best content, social media analytics. We offer one of the best Chrome extensions in my humble opinion, out there. My current role at Buffer is I’m the Digital Marketing Strategist, which means I manage our social media profiles, I host and edit our podcast The Science of Social Media, I also do video marketing, and a host of other things.

Our team structure is nine people. We all have individual roles. Sometimes overlapping with each other, but I’m kind of the only quote unquote digital strategist. We have PR and we have an executive marketer, but we kind of all do our own thing daily.

Jay: Is there an offline equivalent to you? I don’t suspect that Buffer’s doing a ton of offline marketing but is there some folks on the marketing team who are not really in the digital ecosystem?
Brian: No, we are all in the digital ecosystem. I do do in-person workshops and speaking events. I guess you might call that evangelism? I do do the in-person stuff as well as my colleague Ariel, who also helps with that. With Buffer meetups and all that sort of thing.
Jay: Tell us how a company like yours, which is a leader in social media software and certainly social media education as well. The Buffer blog is one of the finest content sources available for social media practitioners. I’m sure a ton of Social Pros listeners are familiar with the Buffer blog. How does a company that teaches and practices social media use social media to generate new business or awareness for the same?
Brian: That’s a great question, Jay. Obviously-
Jay: It’s kind of meta. The whole thing is sort of meta, right?
Brian: So meta and I try to think about this daily ’cause the constant challenge as a lot of your listeners probably understand. I think the number one thing is first and foremost, get people to our money maker, which as you said is our blog. It’s kind of an industry leading blog where we talk about social media marketing tips and tricks. I think number one, it’s the best way for us to kind of drive marketing growth is to get people to that blog because they’ll find eminent value there and hopefully eventually sign up for the buffer product.

I think with social media over the last few years, or at least particularly last six months to a year, we’ve started to realize that it’s not necessarily just a traffic driver, right? We talked about this when you came on our show. Fixing your broken content marketing. It’s more in a way brand awareness, social media is for us now. Of course we want to drive traffic to the blog, but focusing on engagement and connecting and building relationships and even just posting fun social media posts to get that virality going about the Buffer name. It’s a two step approach. One is getting people to our blog and our owned assets and of course number two is driving brand awareness using social media.

Jay: From that perspective would you say that you are interacting either purposefully or accidentally moreso with existing Buffer customers? Or are you still trying to target net new customers with the things that you’re doing in social?
Brian: It’s both. We actually have a team of dedicated what we call Happiness Heroes, which is in our Happiness Team, which is separate from marketing. We also have a few people within the marketing team that are focused on number one, customer support with the product. Number two, building relationships and building what is now known as our Buffer community through Slack channels and Facebook groups and all that different marketing channels. Then number three is, or I guess on top of that, is also connecting with new customers. Whether that’s through social media posts or delivering some articles through messages that might help drive more value through the conversations that we’re already starting with people.

It’s a multi step approach. It’s first and foremost, helping the customers that are already paying customers. Number two, building a community with the people that are our customers. Number three, trying to get as many people as we possibly can into that community and into that Buffer kind of sphere. Because we know if they don’t necessarily become a customer now, if they just try the product or even if they don’t try the product, there’s a good chance that interacting with us over time will hopefully lead them down that path.

Jay: You do a lot on Facebook. A lot on Instagram. Your Instagram videos are terrific. Love what you’re doing there with stories. Obviously Twitter’s been part of the formula for a long time. Buffer does not do a lot on LinkedIn and really never has because it is sort of a prosumer tool but certainly Buffer Professional is very much suited for a business audience. Does that seem strange to you that you’re not really operating in a social network that is more business focused?
Brian: That’s funny because I think about LinkedIn a lot. We don’t really do anything on LinkedIn, but I always tell myself we should probably be doing more. The thing is is that traditionally LinkedIn is a very powerful tool for salespeople. We don’t have a sales team at Buffer. All of our marketing growth is through content marketing and social media. It’s kind of hard for us to find a place for LinkedIn in our marketing strategy because I think one of the best things that you do with LinkedIn is create one on one relationships with people, CEOs, to then help deliver value and then eventually drive them to your enterprise or business platform.

But we don’t have a sales team and so it’s kind of hard for us to connect that dot between you have to have someone follow-up on LinkedIn, you can’t just deliver a piece of content and expect people to become enterprise customers. We at Buffer are in a unique situation where that hasn’t really become part of our plan because we don’t necessarily have anyone there to follow up. Or the specific skills or people who could follow up effectively.

Jay: One of the things that Buffer is known for is the transparency of the company. Always been incredibly open and honest about product roadmap. About how people are compensated in the company. How the investment structure is set up. It’s always been that kind of an organization. It’s one of the key principals of the company. Does that make your job in social easier or more difficult? Having a company that’s really based on the notion of transparency?
Brian: I think it makes it a lot easier because it opens up opportunities for some really, really interesting content. Especially on the blog and especially on social media because we’re sharing things that you’re not going to find anywhere else. I have no problem sharing the back end Facebook analytics or how much we spend on Facebook ads or our traffic from Twitter or our traffic to our blog. I think that puts us in a very unique and interesting position because we can take our content places, into private places that are private for a lot of companies, but we can take our content to those places that you’re not going to see.

That opens up a world of content opportunities that you’re just not going to find out there. We’ve been doing that since day one, which I think as you eluded to, one of the reasons why our content marketing has become so successful over the years. Is that we’ve been able to do and say things that you’re not necessarily going to find and just be open with people about the successes and the challenges that we’re seeing.

Jay: You have a tool that is based on the principal of getting better at organic social. Yet as we all know, social in many ways is shifting from organic to paid, at least circumstantially. How do you align those two trends? You’ve got a tool that gets better and better at doing more and more things with Cadence and calendaring and yet you have customers that are spending more money on the paid side, which isn’t necessarily an area where Buffer’s super involved yet. What does that look like going forward?
Brian: I actually get this question a lot whenever we’re doing our in-person workshops. I think one of the things I like to tell people is that 95% of your time should be spent outside of Buffer. Creating content, monitoring Facebook ads, which hopefully actually, sneak peak, we might be getting into in the near future. I always tell people that the majority of your time should be spent outside of Buffer because that’s the most important part. Creating content that people are going to interact with. Whether that’s through advertising or organic reach. Buffer is simply the best tool to get your organic content out to your followers. Out to your audience, out to new audiences, and then to measure that after it’s gone out.

I think that’s one of the cool parts about it is we’re honest about that. We’re a simple intuitive social media tool that will help you schedule your social media posts. We’re not everything for everybody. We’re not going to lie and say that we’re the best content creation platform, but we are the platform that will allow you to be most effective with the content that you’re creating.

It has been interesting watching this shift to paid advertising because it’s obviously something we want to get into, but there’s also still room, in my opinion, for organic reach. Things are moving to paid, but I think there’s still a lot of opportunity out there. Again, Jay, we talked about this before, but focusing on the maximum effect of organic content only provides better paid content in the long run.

Jay: Sure. Yeah we talk to clients about that all the time at Convince and Convert. This idea of don’t promote everything because if it’s bad or mediocre, no amount of budget is going to change that. What you want to try and do is promote your winners to make them even better winners. This idea of promoting everything I think is just financial suicide. It’s insane to me. Here’s mediocre content, let’s push it harder. We always say get it out there and make sure you know what you’re baseline historical performance is and once you exceed that baseline, then you turn on the faucet.
Brian: Absolutely. That’s exactly how we approach it every single time. All of our content goes out thru Buffer, it’s all organic. Then we simply pick and choose our best and that’s what we promote. Our cost per click is extremely low for that reason.
Jay: If you have a hit, you just make it a bigger hit. That’s really the philosophy.
Brian: Exactly.
Jay: I want to ask you one more question and then have Adam jump in here. I know he’s got a bunch of questions for you as well. I want you to talk about your recent research on Facebook Cadence. It’s very important for all of our listeners, everybody listening to the show is involved in Facebook in some way, but your research found that most people are publishing on Facebook too frequently. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Brian: Yeah, thanks for bringing this up. This is a very exciting article for Buffer and for me to write. Basically it’s this idea that, as you talked about before, that organic reach is declining and paid advertising is increasing. For people or small teams with little budgets, we don’t necessarily want to hear that organic reach is decreasing so we decided to take a deep dive into these stats. What we found out is that a … posting more essentially, so to break it down in the most simplest form, posting more does not equal more reach and engagement.

What we found at Buffer is that you can actually point directly to the time when we reduced our posting frequency to let’s say five or six posts per day on Facebook down to one or two. There’s a direct correlation between reduced frequency and increased reach and engagement, which is a counter intuitive thought for us. Because before it was kind of like put all your content out there and see what does best. Now Facebook is rewarding content and rewarding pages that are only focusing on the best content possible.

This was tough for us because we have a lot of blog posts going out on both our social blog and our open blog and we used to post everything because we wanted to post everything. But now focusing and really questioning, “Is this content perfect for Facebook? Is this something our audience is going to engage with? And is this quality?” Has actually increased threefold, 330% actually, our Facebook reach and engagement over the last six months. It’s been incredible for us.

Adam: Brian, I thought that study was fascinating. I read it and had a couple of questions and of course you are the gentlemen to respond to this. You may not have certainly scientific goals, but as I read that statistic and as I read the report, what popped into my head was A, is this an algorithm based thing? I mean is edge rank actually in this case pushing down or penalizing multiple posters? Or is it B, a little bit more on the creative side that because people are focused on fewer content perhaps the content itself is better?

When you have to spread yourself over four or five posts instead of one or two posts, maybe the quality of the content is a little bit better. Or even third, is it a combination of those things? Did you go into any more detail on the whys there?

Brian: Adam, that’s a really great question. I think it’s still a bit of a mystery why, but I think I can hopefully help out with a few things. Number one, absolutely the algorithm does play a part in this, but I think the algorithm is getting so sophisticated that it number one, can recognize quality content from not quality content. Number two, the algorithm only has so much let’s say Buffer posts per day in its … dispersing as much Buffer posts as it possibly can in one day. So if you post five in a day, the algorithm has to choose for you in a sense.
Adam: Right.
Brian: The second thing is, is that it’s amazing the mental change and it’s so subtle. The mental change that happens when you cut your posting frequency and you start to have to choose between content. Before it’s okay, we have five slots for today, we can throw everything we want in there because we have five slots. If you reduce that five to one and you start having to choose between content, it’s pretty incredible how quickly the best content springs to the top of the pile. I think it’s both algorithm and then just a simple mental change that forces marketers to really question, “If I only have one post today, is this worth it?” You know what I mean?
Jay: You’re essentially becoming Facebook’s algorithm inside your own editorial calendar at that point, right? You’re going through the same mental process that Facebook does algorithmically, which says what content that’s available to you is the best content, I’m only going to show you that content. Your sort of pruning your own tree through the same set of principals.
Brian: Yeah, exactly. Then Facebook prunes it even further, which is awesome. If you post once a day, I’m not saying that every single post is now going to be great, but it increases the likelihood that it is because you’re right, Jay, that it’s already been pruned by yourself. Then not to mention, now Facebook only has one post that you’ve already deemed quality to then pass out to your followers for that day.
Jay: I don’t think once a day is the magic. I think the lesson here is, I wrote about this a few weeks ago. Post when you have something worth posting.
Brian: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely.
Jay: Kind of advice. Maybe that’s once a day, but you guys publish, how many things do you write a day? How many posts?
Brian: We usually do three posts per week so not a ton of content. More than the average.
Jay: You have a lot more than one thing per day that you could post. You just choose to post one and other people may post one a week or one every other day. It’s whenever you have something worth people’s attention is really the answer.
Brian: Exactly. It’s funny because I follow a few Facebook pages like the Oatmeal is a really funny Facebook page. They post maybe once a month and it’ll be zero. If you watch them on Facebook pages the watch will be zero, zero, zero posts and then they’ll post something and it’ll get like 300,000 engagement. Like you said, it’s an obvious sign that Facebook doesn’t necessarily care about the frequency. It cares about the quality.
Adam: For me it harkens back, Brian and Jay, to the old times when we were just kind of getting started with social media. Where we really hand crafted, for lack of a better term, each post. I think we’ve gotten to a point where there’s a little bit more of an assembly line methodology and a process and again, I’ve always thought that quality trumps quantity.

To that point, Brian, I know as you speak to your customers of Buffer and as you speak to the prospects, I’m curious, and this is actually very tangentially related, how do you tell them to kind of customize or tailor content for each platform? Both from a standpoint of Cadence, like you and Jay were talking about. As well as all the other things. Certainly we know on Instagram you want to use visuals and this and that. Do you recommend, and I know your tool does some of this, strategies for different platforms, for different messages? Or more specifically, actually curating and tweaking that message for let’s say, Twitter versus Facebook?

Brian: That’s a very challenging question because it’s … I’m not going to give the cheesy response it depends on your audience. What I will say about that is the way I look at Facebook or I mean social media platforms is I think about them in terms of themes. Instead of maybe types of content that works best. So themes … let’s say like you said, Instagram is very visual so I don’t think we’re ever going to post anything that isn’t visually pleasing on Instagram so a lot of our blog posts don’t necessarily fit the Instagram platform.

Whereas Facebook I like to think of as the edutainment sort of platform. It’s educational or entertaining content only on Facebook. That’s kind of the theme of Facebook. Whereas Twitter is the very professional, news sharing, up to the minute, update sort of platform.

I think everybody’s posting strategy is going to vary per platform. Whether that’s the amount of times you post, the kind of visuals you use, whatever that may be. I think if you think about the themes and what each platform is made for, that kind of helps put that content in perspective and how you should be sharing that to each platform.

That’s the cool thing, for example, we’ve been putting a lot of focus on Instagram growth over the last six months. If you ever see in our Instagram feed you’ll be like, “This isn’t social media advice.” What it is, it plays into that visual aspect of digital nomading. We’re able to grow our Instagram account that way. Whereas Instagram stories maybe plays to a little bit more of that educational factor. We not only have the visual aspect of digital nomading on our feed, but then we can feed people social media advice and growth strategies through Instagram stories.

That’s kind of how I think about it. I don’t necessarily think there’s a one size fits all for everyone, but if you think about social media platforms in terms of themes it helps to fit that content in perspective.

Adam: Sure. To the meta point that you and Jay were talking about a little bit earlier. In that you’re using social media to reach social media professionals. Have you found a platform that is really working or emerging as the de jour place for social media folks to interact and promote and market to other social media folks?
Brian: I think for the longest time, and Jay said this earlier in the show, but Twitter has been kind of our main platform because that’s where a lot of social media marketing professionals are. I think we’re a very bubbled group where we all are holding out on the effect and awesomeness of Twitter. It’s hard to deny the powerful and epic nature that is Facebook marketing. I think a lot of people were questioning Facebook organic reach declining, is it really only paid? It’s hard to deny the fact that Facebook has I think just passed 1.8 billion monthly active users. I think Twitter and Facebook but if I had to put all of my chips or eggs into one basket, it would absolutely be Facebook.
Adam: Okay. Taking that one step further. Let’s pretend that you’re a brand new brand. You’ve done absolutely no social media marketing or communications, this is a brand new from the ground startup brand. What platform would you tell them to start with? Why? Are there any other kind of big four to five that you tell them, “You might want to avoid that or postpone use of that platform until you really get your sea legs.”
Brian: Absolutely. This might seem like the obvious answer to a lot of people, but Facebook. You have to start with Facebook. I actually believe that every business or brand should have a Facebook page. It’s essentially today’s yellow pages. The reason though that I think Facebook is so great is that they have so many opportunities to manually grow your audience.

When you’re just starting out as a brand, one of the questions you ask, “Okay how do I grow my audience?” A lot of that is manual labor. You can’t just expect people to follow you. Of course you could put out good content, but if you have no followers then they’re not going to be able to see that content. Facebook allows you to number one, promote your page, which is great. It’s not going to get you a ton of followers, but it’ll get you a good baseline. It also allows you to boost your content, which could have a big, major effect on audience growth. It also allows you to run targeted ads based on let’s say, certain audience types or who your potential customer might be.

Facebook is just such a great way and then anybody who likes those posts, it has a really cool feature where you can click on the likes and actually invite the people who have engaged with your post to like your page. There’s just so many options to grow your audience manually and then automatically through Facebook. Absolutely have to have that.

Then I think the overarching strategy is never overstretch yourself. It’s better to be great at one platform than it is to be average at five. I know that’s an old saying in social media, but if you had to move somewhere else, you would look directly to where your audience is. I think it’s hard to argue with the powerfulness of Instagram and their audience growth over the last few months. I think they’ll be the next to hit a billion users, but it’s hard to say that you need to be anywhere but Facebook if you’re a small business to start out with. Get really good at that and then kind of look out after.

Adam: As a follow up to that. Kind of to the 90% rule that you gave a little bit earlier in the show. Would you tell this brand new brand that is starting from scratch to make sure to allocate some of their marketing budget, as limited as it may or may not be, to paid activities? Or try to go at it with organic?
Brian: Totally. One of the biggest things that has been helpful for our Facebook page growth has been this boost the post strategy. I think it’s Dennis Yu who talks about the dollar a day strategy. I think you could … anybody … heck, even when I first started at Buffer, we had zero budget and I was almost willing to take money out of my own pocket to do it, but you can start with a very small budget and you can grow your Facebook page exponentially.

The thing is, is that you can’t grow your Facebook page based on average content. If you’re going to commit to social media and you’re going to commit to Facebook in particular, you have to also be willing to commit to content because I think the one thing that I hear a lot frustrated marketers say is, “Well, we’re not growing our Facebook page.” Then I look at their Facebook page and it’s all links. Or it’s all self-promotional ads or whatever it may be.

The truth of the matter is that curated content and edutainment, entertaining and educational type content works the best. You just have to be willing to go there.

Adam: Again, this goes back to the way that marketing and advertising and public relations or communications have always been. You’ve always had to do a little bit of both. You’ve had to do the earned media type activities, which would in this case be more like the organic posts and the paid activities. That’s kind of where marketing has always been. I think initially we thought that social media was going to allow us to do everything organically. Think everybody realized that as soon as these companies went public and there were shareholders involved, that would stop being the case.
Brian: Yeah, exactly.
Adam: One last question, Brian, for you kind of on another research topic before I hand it back to my esteemed colleague Jay. I know another study that you did. Not only the Buffer kind of less is more study of less posts drives more engagement. You also did a study on kind of the shape of video. When I say that, I mean that literally. Not the shape of the industry, but square versus landscape. I thought it was fascinating and for so many of us social pros that are doing more video, whether it’s streaming video or more produced or curated video. It’s a really important topic and some really interesting research came out of your study.
Brian: Thank you, Adam. I really, really appreciate you saying that. That was my baby over the last couple months and Anna Moto was a great partner in that. It was extremely fascinating to see how that study played out because a few key takeaways for your listeners is number one, square video absolutely outperformed landscape video in pretty much every test we ran. So square … 16 by nine which is the landscape versus the one by one which is the square. Particularly performed well on Facebook and I think on mobile. Considering the fact that I think 90 or 92% of Facebook users use it on mobile daily, the implications of using square video in your marketing efforts is huge. The reason that square video, or one of the reasons that it works so well is that it’s simply takes up more feed.
Adam: Takes up more space on a portrait size smartphone.
Brian: Exactly. It takes up nearly three quarters of the screen versus the landscape video. Actually, believe it or not, Adam, it works the same on Instagram. I don’t know if you’ve noticed a shift in this too, but people used to post landscape photos, we have way more success when we post vertical photos on Instagram because ever since they made that change that actually have it post the way that the photo is framed, it just takes up more feed. It’s hard to pass posts that take up an entire screen. So that was one of the big kind of takeaways from that square video study.
Jay: It is amazing how we went from one version of photos and videos being the only way you can do it to now a totally different set of advice in just a year. No wonder social media managers who listen to this show are pulling their hair out. That’s why they have to listen to this show because all the best practices are constantly changing, right? I guess it’s job security for us all, right?
Adam: There you go.
Jay: It’s good for Salesforce marketing cloud, it’s good for Buffer, it’s good for Convince and Convert, it’s good for us, and probably good for everybody listening to the show, but boy, sure would be awesome if we could just keep the same rules for a year. That’d be amazing.
Brian: Yeah, couldn’t we? I mean I’m pulling my hair out over here. Every time that Facebook releases a new stories or feature to their platform, it’s like here we go again.
Jay: I just saw that post today as we’re recording this from Facebook just a minute ago that they’re going to automatically do closed captioning on Facebook live videos in real time, which is pretty slick.
Brian: Yeah, very slick. That was another thing we came from the video study. How important captions were as well
Jay: Huge.
Adam: Well findability and searchability, there you go.
Jay: Let’s think about this and here’s my segue. Here’s some more best practices for you. For social media managers, Adam and his team at Salesforce Marketing Cloud put together a fantastic eBook called “The 50 Standout Practices for Social Media Marketers.” All kinds of tips about social media listening, about content creation, about KPI’s and metrics. Paid, how to create content that stops the thumb. All the things we’re talking about here with Brian from Buffer. Really great eBook. You can get it at candc.ly/getsocialebook that’s candc.ly/getsocialebook.

Also new eBook from our friends at Yext. I actually co-wrote this one with Jeff Rohrs who’s the CMO at Yext, formerly the host of this show. It’s all about the everywhere brand. The everywhere brand is all the places that your company is represented online. There’s hundreds and hundreds of place that you’re represented that you may not even know about. And how to keep your brand information consistent in all those places. It’s going to be a really important topic in the next year. There’s a whole new suite of type of people that are going to be hired in marketing teams called knowledge managers. There’s a lot of things happening here that you need to be paying attention to. Go to offers.yext.com/everywherebrand. That’s offers.yext.com/everywherebrand to get that free download.

Obviously if you miss the link and you’re not sure where it is or you couldn’t write it down fast enough, no problem. Go to socialpros.com, we have the archives of every single episode of this podcast dating back six years. You can get it all there at socialpros.com.

Adam, back to you.

Adam: Jay, thank you. Brian, great to have you on the show. Digital marketing strategist of Buffer, Brian Peters, who told us in the open that he is currently, technically homeless. I think that is fascinating. I want to kind of talk a little bit more about that. I want to present it in an environment around our industry. One of the great things about what we do as social pros and being in a marketing or communications oriented role here in 2017.

There’s so many great flexibilities that we have. Jay said so many great things about Buffer and the culture. You did as well, Brian. Being as accommodating and transparent as it is and that’s one of the hallmarks of an industry that we’re in today. You get to travel around the country being a digital nomad with your wife and living in a different place every 60 to 90 days. I’m curious how you feel about your role and your career and that it’s enabling you to do that. Isn’t that one of the benefits of this industry that we live in?

Brian: Oh my gosh, yes. It has to be one of the greatest benefits about pretty much anything online nowadays is that you can manage social media. You an even host a podcast from anywhere in the world. I was traveling around recently to Europe and other locations with my microphone and my backpack and it was easy to set it up on the computer. You just gotta find a quiet space. I found that Starbucks provides the best Wi-Fi, a little plug for Starbucks there, anywhere in the world. It’s such a great part about this industry is that I only see this becoming more ingrained in the marketing and social media world. This ability to work from wherever you are because you don’t necessarily need an office to be able to speak with teammates or perform your duties as a digital marketing manager.
Adam: I tend to agree and I work in an organization that kind of applauds that flexibility. Jay, as leading Convince and Convert, Jay leads an entire organization that’s based kind of upon that. That virtual concept. We are hearing though, there are companies, I think IBM is one of them, that are saying, “Hey, we want you to come back. We want you in the office.” I’m curious, Jay, I’ll even ask this question to you as well, where do we think this is going? I do see the benefits of what we’re doing. There are times I miss not being next to someone, although I’m in our Salesforce offices kind of around the country and around the world just about every couple of weeks. Curious, kind of Jay, Brian, what your thoughts are on that trend?
Jay: I think it really helps people take accountability for their own work performance. I find a lot of times when you’re spending your days in a traditional office environment, you spend a lot of time doing things because that’s the ways it’s always been done in office environment. There’s a lot of inefficiencies in a face to face, three dimensional work environment that get stripped away when everybody is not co-located. However, it certainly requires everybody on the team to be self-motivated and have systems and processes and tools in place to make sure that work gets done.

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned. Having now done this for nine years at Convince and Convert and our team’s smaller than the Buffer team, but we’ve got them all over. Is that it’s all about hiring, right? It’s all about bringing people onto the team who can handle that kind of extreme freedom and people who actually thrive in that environment instead of abuse that kind of environment or shirk from it or have a frustration because they can’t sit down next to somebody. Obviously we make a lot of use of video conferencing and chat and all the other tools out there, but to me, what I’ve discovered is it’s really more of a hiring circumstance than anything else.

Brian, what do you think?

Brian: Yeah, Jay, I couldn’t agree more there. I think that’s one of the reasons that Buffer has been able to be so successful is that because that with made the decision a few years ago to do the whole company remote. It wasn’t half the people are going to be in the office, half of the other people are going to be remote. We made the decision to make the entire company remote and then from there, we’ve placed an emphasis on hiring people who thrived in a remote work environment.

So that was one of the first things that you ask. Is number one, have you ever worked remote before? Then number two, are you a culture fit for Buffer? It was those two things that predicated the entire hiring process and you’re right I think it all revolves around that ability and the willingness. I will say that I worked in an office for four or five years previous to Buffer and I’m almost too productive at Buffer now. So it becomes a thing where you have to really manage your time to not work too much as a remote worker.

There are though, I will say there is some magic to being together in an office and I think that’s one of the hardest things to get over as a remote employee is that you’re not sitting next to anyone. A lot of the communication you do is through writing and through texts so you have to be able to communicate nuances and language and body language. So it’s a challenge but at the same time, the productivity’s up, but you lose a little bit of that in-person magic.

Adam: It really made me think as I thought about this and preparing for our show today, Brian. How this is actually changing the way that we communicate. You articulated a really important point. And that is because of this nature of remote working and because we’re seeing more and more organizations doing it. A, it’s changing our products. I think the Buffer product much like the Salesforce products or from anybody have much more of an approval queue and workflow and importance there.

But you hit on I think something very important and that is the written word versus the communicated or verbal word. And how we articulate ourselves and how we actually read content has changed. I’m curious if you have to take some of those things into consideration as you’re creating new content. Whether it is your amazing blog. I think the Buffer blog should be must see reading for anybody who’s in the social or communications business. How does that change the way you think that we’re going to present marketing activities or even market toward social media marketers in the future?

Brian: That’s a great question. I think it all is based around just the availability and the I guess evolution of tools. If you’re communicating everything through writing, you have to have a system in place for making sure that everything follows a certain standard flow of what you’ve set up at your company. So we use Dropbox Paper is a critical tool for us. Trello is a critical tool for us. I would say those two are kind of the- and then Slack of course, we have Slack, Trello, and Dropbox Paper. That’s how we do the majority of our communication is through that.

Honestly, it’s amazing because what happens is is that it’s almost like you’re more motivated to create the content so that you can share it with your teammate who then gives feedback. Over time that kind of funnel and that system becomes more and more clear the longer you work with your team and the longer you maybe perform a specific duty. A lot of the success of remote teams is based around the tools that they use and then how efficiently that they use those tools to communicate and to create new content.

Adam: Last question kind of around this, Brian, before I hand it back to Jay because I think this is an interesting topic. At least it was for me, I hope it is for our listeners and for the two of you.

If you go in and you use whether it’s Twitonomy or Seartwi or one of the other tools that I think all of us I think social media marketers use to see how people are looking at our content or how people are actually posting or publishing onto their social channels, you will see so often, and even this is true with really big brands. Not only native use of Twitter or Facebook, but also that they’re using the mobile application to do this, which gets me kind of to my final question.

One of the great things about you being a digital nomad or us as social media marketers being able to do our job is that we can do our jobs from virtually anywhere. And we can do that literally with a smartphone. We can almost run our business from our smartphone. Do you see that being truly the case? Could you do your job just with your smartphone and a pair of earbuds? When you create content on a social mobile platform, does it actually change the type of content you would create then if you were sitting at a desk, in front of a desktop computer in an office somewhere?

Brian: I love that, Adam. That’s a good one. I think the family of four that I’m on, the Verizon plan, I consistently go over our data so I should probably switch to unlimited data here pretty soon. At this point in technology I could probably do 60% of my job via mobile. The reason being is because the other 40% I spend my time with more sophisticated graphic and audio and visual editing. Of course they have iMovie for iPhone and that sort of thing, but you know the Adobe Suite products like Photoshop Premier Edition. Those are kind of more desktop friendly features. That being said though, I think we’re still in the very early stages of mobile technology and what you can do.

I know Camba has an app. I know iMovie has an app. Adobe Spark just came out with an app. So there’s a ton of really really great products coming on the scene. I think they’re still early in their evolution of what they can be in the future. But I think at this moment I can do about 60% of my job via mobile, but I could definitely see nearly 100% being capable in the future. I think the tough thing would be be maybe writing a 3,000 word blog post.

Jay: Well, we’ll see. Sometimes you figure that kind of counter programming is going to be the success, right? That if most things go to short form, most things go to video, then the long form maybe will succeed disproportionally because it’s so different that what people expect. We’ll have to see how it shakes out.
Brian: That’s a great point, yeah.
Jay: Brian, I’m going to ask you the two questions that we ask everybody here on the Social Pros podcast. Which is, what one tip would you give somebody looking to become a social pro?
Brian: The one tip that I would give somebody looking to become a social pro is be a student of social media number one. So read and get your hands on as many resources as you possibly can. Whether that’s the Social Pros podcast, the Buffer blog, anything you possibly can to become a better social media marketer. Read it, do it, take certifications. That’s what I did when I first started out. Practice.

Then the second thing I would have to say is that social media, I am constantly surprised by what works on social media. Every time I post something that I think is going to do well, it does average. Every time I post something that I think is going to do average, it goes viral.

I think the key takeaway from that is to always be experimenting and looking outside of your own bubble of your own industry for what’s working on social media and learn from the companies, the big brands that have million dollar budgets, multimillion dollar budgets. To see what they’re doing. Take that and implement on that and evolve that into your own ideas because experimentation and evolution is huge.

Learn everything you possibly can and never stop experimenting ’cause you’ll always be shocked about what works on social media.

Jay: That’s such a great point and it was true before then for email and web design and landing pages and all of digital. Banner ads. Every time you think you know, you actually run some analysis you’ll realize that nobody actually knows anything. The difference between success and failure, it’s true, the difference between success and failure is not knowledge, it’s knowing how to find the answer, right? It’s understanding how to determine what works is really the difference. Not actually having some sort of magic formula, crystal ball intuition, there’s no such thing. If you’re right 55% of the time, it’s just like gambling. You’re in pretty good shape.

Last question for you, Brian Peters, Digital Marketing Strategist at Buffer, a company I love, have been investor in Buffer since the very very beginning. I’ve been a customer since the very first day. Brian, if you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be and why?

Brian: I love this question because I was asked this the other day and I gave the answer and I didn’t like the answer so I thought about what I would say next time someone asked me.
Jay: You get a redo now on Social Pros.
Brian: I get a redo. I would have to sit down with Elon Musk, no doubt. I just got done reading his book. It was fantastic. I would love to just know what goes through that guy’s mind.
Adam: Just 1% of what he knows.
Brian: Just give me 1%.
Jay: I said earlier that nobody knows anything, I’m going to make an exception in that case. Although even in that instance, I don’t feel like Mr. Musk has any disproportionate crystal ball. It’s just that he has an imagination that’s so much bigger than anybody else’s, right? There’s no governor on his sort of possibility matrix and that’s the thing that’s really interesting to me. It’s not being super smart at astrophysics or finances or anything else. It’s anything that can be conceived he’s like, “Well, why couldn’t you do that? Tell me why that’s not possible?” Everything is possible in his world and that is just a level of big thinking that I can’t really conceive of.
Brian: Absolutely. Another thing too is kind of like I said before about reading and getting your hands on everything you can. Is that he didn’t know astrophysics and he went out and read like eight textbooks.
Jay: Just taught it to himself.
Brian: Yeah.
Jay: You know what I should do over the summer, I should teach myself astrodynamics, that’s what I should do.
Adam: There’s your summer reading list, Jay.
Brian: Yeah.
Jay: Or I could just make the perfect hamburger. Either way. But you know both have value. Just in different ways.

Brian, thanks so much for being on the show. Congratulations on all the continued success at Buffer. Hey, do you have any other cool studies that you’re working on? You want to tease?

Brian: Yeah we are working on a few at the moment. We’re working on an email course, which will be a 25 day all you can get your hands on email course coming out soon. A couple other studies in the works. They haven’t been cemented yet so I won’t tease them yet, but that email course should be pretty cool.
Jay: Fantastic. Where can they go to get it?
Brian: It will be on our social media channels but blog.buffer.com will have all the details when it does release.
Jay: There you go, folks. Blog.buffer.come if you’re not on there, get there. On behalf of Adam Brown from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, I am Jay Baer from Convince and Convert. He’s Brian Peters from Buffer. This has been Social Pros.

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