Social Media Strategy – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting Sat, 18 Aug 2018 17:16:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Social Media Strategy – Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting 32 32 Which Social Platform Is Right for Your Next Video Campaign? Tue, 29 May 2018 15:22:18 +0000 So many social channels now host video content. Learn which platforms best align with your goals and how to tailor your video campaign for each platform.

The post Which Social Platform Is Right for Your Next Video Campaign? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

Which Social Platform Is Right for Your Next Video Campaign

Are you thinking about marketing with video in social media, but not sure which platform will get you the best results? Well, you’re on the right track and asking the right questions.

Customers LOVE video:

  • 85 percent of Americans watch videos online. [comScore]
  • 45 percent of people watch more than one hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week. [Wordstream]
  • 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. [Invodo]

And video drives business:

  • Viewers are 85 percent more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. [Internet Retailer]
  • 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in their online purchase decisions. [Internet Retailer]

But there are so many video platforms! Where should you publish your videos? There are so many platforms to choose from!

  • YouTube videos
  • Facebook videos
  • Instagram videos
  • Snapchat videos
  • LinkedIn videos
  • Twitter videos
  • Pinterest videos

Can you really create and post video on all the platforms, especially when they all have different specs and requirements?

Watching product videos

All the Specs and Requirements for the Major Video Platforms

Each platform has different requirements for video size, size ratios, and length, and they each treat audio and captions differently.

Horizontal Video

  • YouTube: 16:9 or 4:3 ratio, 854 x 480 pixels, 12 to 360 seconds, audio on by default.
  • Facebook: 16:9, 600 pixel minimum width, 720p, up to 240 minutes, but average view length is 15 seconds. Audio is muted by default, so captions are a great idea!
  • LinkedIn: 4:3 or 16:9, up to 30 seconds, but the best are under 15 seconds. Audio muted by default.
  • Twitter: 16:9 or 1:1 ratio, 640 x 360 pixels, 140 seconds.

Square Video

  • Instagram: 1:1, 600 x 315 pixels, 16 second maximum. Audio is muted by default, so captions are a great idea.
  • Twitter: Can be square too, as you see above.
  • Something to consider: Some tests say people respond more to square videos on mobile, while horizontal videos perform better on desktop, regardless of platform.

Vertical Video

  • Snapchat: Canvas fullscreen: 9:16 ratio, 1080 x 1920 pixels, three to 10 seconds, audio on by default; expand to long-form with different video.
  • Pinterest: 9:16 ratio, 240 pixels wide minimum, up to 30 minutes.

For more details, check out this infographic on video specs.

(We’ll come back to this topic later to address this question: Is there a way to create one or two videos that work for all of these? There is!)

Can You Get Big Video Exposure and Results Without Ads?

Some marketers may think, “I’ll just post my videos on all the networks. Then we’ll be good, right? I’ll get tons of exposure.” It’s a good idea but not always true in practice.

Are you looking at your actual stats to see how many people you reach with unpaid social video? Most people are surprised by their actual reach numbers—it’s often not as many as they thought!

Is your actual reach anywhere near the number of potential customers you need to reach? Wait—how many customers do you need to reach? How many customers are out there for you, and how many should you be reaching?

Most businesses haven’t given thought to having actual quantified awareness goals. Think about the thousands, hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions of potential customers you want to reach. Ask yourself, “How often do I want my future customers to hear from me, so that I make an impression in their brains, and they don’t forget about me? And how many times do they have to see me before they take me seriously and want to buy from me?” You’ll begin to realize that serious weekly or monthly reach goals are hard to achieve without advertising.

A few people are lucky enough to strike on some type of content that quickly gets them a lot of exposure. But most businesses have a harder time creating great content that can sustain itself without a little push.

Some businesses choose to do only unpaid social because they don’t have an ad budget, or they think they can get away with saving the money. But our experience with data and case studies of successes and failures indicate that advertising gives you a much better chance of success because of three major factors.

3 Reasons Video Advertising Rocks

1. You Get in Front of the Right People

Do you want to be sure you reach your target customer? That can be a challenge when you go unpaid only. There are specific, hard-to-reach audiences that all but require the targeting features of ad networks. Those audiences include people outside your brand’s connections, many B2B targets, and the people who are on social media less often or are less active.

2. You Reach Enough People

If a YouTube video plays in a forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If you want to be sure people see your video, ads help out a lot. You can’t control how many people see your video, but look at your reach and impressions right now. Compare that to even a small-spend ad campaign, and you quickly see how limited unpaid reach is in most cases.

3. You Get Business Results

If you want significant views, traffic, and sales from your videos, ads are important. Ad platforms allow you to look at all your creative at the same time and discover which resonates best with your target audience. You’ll know for sure which video is best at achieving your business goals. Overall, this boosts your views, traffic, and sales and puts you ahead of the competition.

So, if you choose to advertise, how much ad spend do you devote to each channel? Or should you focus your ad spend all on one platform that best fits your current campaign? And for your campaign goals and your videos, which is the best platform for that?

Video Goals and Metrics

What are the strengths of each network for video? Networks achieve different results for different goals. The easiest way to illustrate this is to show the range of performance we’ve seen on each network for a variety of our clients in 2018.

A few notes on the chart: Every industry and audience is different, and the more you optimize, the better your metrics will be. Your mileage may vary a bit from our chart but should be in the same ballpark. Also note that these numbers are for video ads only, not for other types of ads.

Who’s Watching Each Video Platform?

One way to choose a platform for your video is to look at the users of each network, and which network is best at reaching which specialized audiences. Research from Pew indicates:

  • YouTube has the most users but ranks fifth in frequency of use.
  • Facebook has the second-most users but is the most frequently used (51 percent of users visit multiple times per day), so much so that there are still more 18- to 29-year-olds on Facebook than Instagram or Snapchat. The user base is slightly more female than male.
  • Instagram has a younger audience, with Facebook-powered targeting, and is growing faster than Snapchat. It’s third in frequency of use, and their user base is also slightly more female than male.
  • Snapchat has the youngest audience and is not as good targeting, but ranks second in frequency of use.
  • LinkedIn is home to professionals and better B2B targeting, but users spend less time on the site than other social networks. It hosts a bigger proportion of college grads than Facebook or Instagram and the highest proportion of high-income households. Its user base is evenly male and female.
  • Twitter, like LinkedIn, has a bigger proportion of college grads than Facebook or Instagram. Its user base is evenly male and female, and only 26 percent of users visit multiple times per day.
  • Pinterest’s user base is much more female than male

Yet another great source for checking which platform you should be on is Buzzsumo. You can analyze the content for any keyword and find out where the most engagement happens. Here an analysis of the staffing and recruiting industry:

Note that according to Buzzsumo’s data for the staffing and recruiting industry, list posts, how-tos and videos do best in that industry. If you’re making a video, why not use a list-post format when creating your video, or do a how-to video?

18 to 29 year olds

Rules of Thumb for Choosing Your Platform

Next up are the biggest strengths of each network, in our experience with clients. If this seems simplistic, understand that my goal here is to give you rules of thumb, not overgeneralizations.

  • YouTube: Best for getting long video views, if you want to do in-depth content; harder than other platforms for driving website traffic.
  • Facebook: Best for website traffic, leads, and sales from video.
  • Instagram: Hipper, younger, positive lifestyle audience with access to Facebook’s awesome ad platform, so it’s another good source of traffic, leads, and sales.
  • Snapchat: New and affordable; very unproven; jury is out.
  • LinkedIn: Reach the upscale, smart business people and decision makers. Expensive, but high quality.
  • Twitter: Reach smart geeky people. If you have customers who prefer books over TV and movies, but want to bring video to them, Twitter and LinkedIn make sense.
  • Pinterest: Reach women who like crafts, cosmetics, and do-it-yourself projects.

How Many Platforms Does Your Video Really Need to Be On?

Obviously, you can easily post your video organically, without ads, everywhere, as long as you deal with the specs. But how many should you actually spend money on?

It’s worth considering whether you’ll reach the same people on one platform without having to be on five of them. Interestingly, a lot of the same people use YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. But Twitter users aren’t necessarily LinkedIn users, and LinkedIn users aren’t necessarily Twitter users (according to more research from Pew).

The 80-20 Video Ad Platform Approach

Based on all the successes, failures, efficiencies, and wasted money I’ve seen in digital marketing over the last 20 years, I’m a big believer in the 80-20 rule: You’ll get the best ROI by doing the 20 percent of things that yield 80 percent of the results.

Focus on the one out five video ad platforms that yields 80 percent of the results, even if you have a lot of resources. Get really good at the most popular, effective networks that have your best customers rather than being a mediocre jack-of-all-networks.

The platform that’s your 20 percent may vary depending on your audience and goal, but for most companies these days that want traffic, leads, or sales, it’s Facebook.

At our agency, we recommend that most businesses run ads on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google AdWords. If you have a special audience-related need or goal-related need (not just a personal philosophy) that dictates that Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or another network would be a better fit, then add it on or substitute it.

But unless you have really solid proof (not just opinions) that they’re not good for your industry or goal, all the data and case studies I’ve seen suggest you should first get good at getting results from Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This rule of thumb frees you to focus on just Facebook and Instagram, or just Facebook and YouTube, and get great results. You don’t have to worry about missing out.

Jack of all networks

The Retargeting Add-On

If you are worried about missing out by being too narrow on your platform choices, just add retargeting on the other networks to make sure you’re present to some degree. It doesn’t require a big time or money investment. You may try a combination like this:

  • Facebook and Instagram video ads (cold audiences and retargeting): Both video view and conversion campaign types for traffic, leads, and sales.
  • YouTube ads (cold audiences and remarketing).
  • Twitter retargeting ads.
  • LinkedIn retargeting ads.

Now you’ve got your main focus driving a lot of traffic and visibility from both new people and retargeting AND you’re covering your bases by being visible to all these people on multiple networks via retargeting. Because retargeting spends are typically small, and the campaigns are much easier to set up, you’re not wasting time or money. You’re not a jack of all trades master of none. You’re increasing your bang for your buck without having to worry about focusing so much that you’ve left something out.

And that’s the best of both worlds.

The post Which Social Platform Is Right for Your Next Video Campaign? appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:06:36 +0000 Marketers will need to revisit their social media strategies and listening tools, now that Cambridge Analytica's misuse of user data has forced new changes on Facebook.

The post What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News

Image via Thought Catalog

If you work in the world of marketing, the Cambridge Analytica news didn’t exactly shock you. In fact, most of us in the business reacted somewhere between a shoulder shrug and an eye roll. It’s not that marketers’ support the misuse of data—especially for the purposes of spreading false or “less accurate” information to sway an election. But most of us have known that Facebook and Instagram’s business models are all about selling data.

It always has been that way, and unless they pay-gate the platform, it always will be. Furthermore, most marketers have used similar data to target their content to specific demographics or personas online. The Cambridge Analytica news, therefore, hit us less as an, “OMG!” and more of a, “Well, of course this happened.”

What’s Ahead for Facebook

As I told my son when he left for college, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because Facebook allowed organizations like Cambridge Analytica to flood a social network with questionable content in an attempt sway an election doesn’t mean Cambridge Analytica should have done so. Organizations with evil motivations have always existed, so I doubt any of us are surprised.

But many of us are genuinely shocked that Facebook either willingly turned a blind eye to this corrupt use of data or was too stupid to connect the dots. (They’re definitely not stupid.) Using Facebook/Instagram data to sell potato chips or toothpaste is one thing. Using that data against the TOS to try and ruin a democratic election is another thing entirely.

Facebook lost $60 billion (that’s “billion” with a “B”) in the week that the news dropped, but it is unlikely that fact alone motivated this mad dash to turn off the Facebook data faucet. It is more realistic that Mark Zuckerberg knows once trust is lost, brands often crash and burn. The recovery from such a huge betrayal is going to take years, if not longer.

And remember, Facebook is a public company—selling data for ad targeting is inherent to their business profit model. It’s not that your pics of Muffy the poodle in PJs aren’t valuable. But ads that sell you PJs for pets are more valuable to shareholders.

Facebook lost 60 billion

How Facebook Has Taken Action So Far

After days of silence (and a statement that seemed to aggravate people more), Facebook is taking some stiff action. Here’s what’s effective immediately:

  • They have shut down part of the Instagram API.
  • They are limiting the data available from (or requiring user approval for access to) Facebook’s Events, Groups, and Pages APIs, plus Facebook Login.
  • They are shutting down search by email or username and changing their account recovery system after discovering malicious actors were using these to scrape people’s data.

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer told TechCrunch, “Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.” There is a new API access coming, says Facebook/Instagram, so while some functionality may return, it may not return in a significant way.

Instagram data pop up

Pop up found on technology vendor site

What the Cambridge Analytica Story Means for Brands

A huge marketing technology industry has grown on the backs of these data streams. There are hundreds of apps with tools to interpret the data, visualize the data, and activate on that data. That means some of those MarTech subscriptions you have to monitor competitor accounts (or any account without permission) will have extremely minimized data results. Work with your technology providers and vendors to rescope those relationships and determine if limited data is better than none.

In addition, if you are a business and have not yet opted to sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts (thereby creating an official Business Profile status), you will not be able to use technology partners to have access to your own data. Rival, a social media analytics platform, discussed this here with its readers.

Paid media will still work, but with fewer data inputs, it may be become less targeted. A  Facebook rep told a Techcrunch client that “for any Custom Audiences data imported into Facebook, Advertisers will be required to represent and warrant that proper user content has been obtained.” Understanding this is essential for your plans and will likely require revisiting your conversion goals, click-through goals, and more.

A representative from Centro (a leader in paid advertising) tells us via email, “Bottom line: You have to be everywhere. Programmatic, where there are plenty of third party data segments—way more than Facebook ever had—needs to be part of the media mix for every full-funnel approach.” And Sam Bruni of Bruni Media actually seems to see a positive: “Overall, we are optimistic that the paid advertising side of our business will improve as Facebook cleans up less relevant content that we have to compete with continually.”

It’s time to adjust your digital marketing strategies. If you have dedicated large chunks of your marketing budget to content programs that rely on this deep layer of data, it’s time to sit down with your agencies or in-house teams (or, ahem, call in brilliant advisors) to determine a pivot path. One area of consideration—already on the rise after the last Facebook algorithm shift, which prioritized “friends and family” content over loose connections—is influencer marketing. With the loss of potential insight from data driving your content targeting, it will be more important than ever to work with content creators who can get your messages in front of communities and audiences that they “own” in strategic and authentic ways.

Facebook is changing its handling of user data. It's time for your business to build a pivot plan.
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  1. Rescope your MarTech subscriptions and partnerships.
  2. Sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts to generate a discoverable Business Profile.
  3. Reset your paid advertising KPIs for conversion, click-through rates etc.
  4. Consider increases in programmatic, given the additional data sources still available.
  5. Work with your agencies and partners on new content syndication strategies like influencer marketing.

Confused? Worried? Don’t be.

As with all things involving the major social platforms, we will all adjust to these changes and move forward. In the meantime, if you would like to dig deeper into the effect this has on your business, give Convince & Convert Consulting a call. We are here to help.

The post What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events Tue, 10 Apr 2018 15:00:07 +0000 Are you events generating enough buzz? Add breadth and depth to your events by implementing these essential social media strategies.

The post 7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events

It used to be you spent five minutes registering for an event and then showed up on the big day, went to a few workshops, drank two free Coronas, and went home.

Social media changes all of that, enabling events and their planners to have long-term, nuanced, shifting interactions with attendees.

I gave a speech in suburban Cincinnati to the Mid-American chapter of Meeting Planners International, titled “7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events.” My recommendations are based on my work with MarketingProfs and Salesforce to add social frosting to their already fabulous events, and my experiences speaking at several dozen conferences annually. There’s a total of 39 specific suggestions in the slides, but here are the highlights.

1. Engage

Get your potential attendees interacting with you early on by enabling some measure of feedback or crowdsourcing on the conference programming. South by Southwest has always led in this area, with its “panel picker” process that turns over 30 percent of the programming selection to potential attendees.

Another way you could simplify getting feedback from your audience is use tools like Twtpoll or PollDaddy (as I did when I asked you for feedback on potential new designs for this blog back in the day).

2. Intrigue

Almost all events have an official website. But very few (except for the geek events) take full advantage of all the free event listing and event management opportunities. At a minimum, you should create event pages on:

  • Facebook Events
  • Eventbrite (where you can also sell tickets if you’re so inclined)
  • Linkedin (if it’s a business event)

Make sure to select the platform or registration software that fits with your audience.

Sure, its a bit of a hassle to oversee all of these event pages, but your attendees swim in different ponds. Plus, every conference has the same MVP attendee: some guy named Google. Why would you pass up a chance to double, triple, or quadruple your search engine listings?

These tools also serve as a way to message your attendees leading up to the event reminding them to invite their friends or what they can look forward to.

3. Invigorate

As the event draws closer, you have to pull potential attendees off of the fence with content hors-d’oeuvres.

Social Media Examiner does this well by consistently sharing what attendees can expect at their annual Social Media Marketing World conference leading up to the event. They share what speakers will be presenting and fun events to look forward to.

Collaborate with your speakers to produce teaser content. Most speakers are already creating short videos and content they are promoting to their audience. This can be a great opportunity to partner with them to align promotional calendars

Actively promote the event hashtag and invite users to share their content on Twitter and Instagram. Begin interacting with attendees before the event begins to build buzz and personal relationships with attendees. Social Media Marketing World has a healthy mix of attendees and speakers consistently adding content before and during their event using the hashtag #SMMW.

Use Pitchengine to create multi-media enabled press releases, and send the URL for the release to any and all “maybes” on your list. You should also gather social information from all registrants. Create a Twitter list of all attendees, and update it each time a new person registers.

4. Integrate

Now we’re talking about the on-site experience, which is where social media can really add impact and get people talking.

Pick a hashtag for your event, so attendees and remote watchers can monitor the event on Twitter. The shorter the better, please! Depending on the size of the event, host multiple meetups for attendees to gather for dinner and hold meet-and-greets.

When attendees register for the event, ask them specific questions about their industry or job title. This information can help pair them in a meetup group that is beneficial to them.

I’m not a big fan of the geek conference staple of having a live streaming Twitter wall behind speakers while they speak. It’s too distracting. But I love having a big Twitter wall in a central conference location. This requires very little effort now, using something like Tweetwally.

Create an event within the event by running contests on Twitter during the conference. You can use metricool to show how many people are using the event hashtag and identify top contributors during the event. Share the leaderboard throughout the event and award prizes to top contributors.

metricool for live events

5. Inform

During the event, invite attendees to share their feedback about the sessions for real-time insights. You can use an app called Yapp, which allows attendees to take a poll in the app for the event. This is also a great tool for informing attendees about updates and contests throughout the event.

This is a far better approach than sending a survey a few days after the event asking them what they thought about the session. This way, attendees can vote right after their session ends right on their phone.

6. Propagate

Create your own media during the event. Use Facebook Live and Periscope to capture key moments during the event to engage people who couldn’t make it and create content you can repurpose later to promote future events.

As attendees create and share content using the event hashtag, compile their content and share it later to re-engage attendees after the event.

7. Aggregate

Take the conference content and spread it as widely as possible. Your goal is to get the doubters that didn’t come this year to view that content and decide to go the next year.

Take every conference presentation, and instead of just putting them on your website or emailing links to attendees, release them on SlideShare (one per day for maximum impact). Create content from key moments that happened during the event to share small pieces of content on social.

Reward good content. Invite attendees to share their best quote or photo from the conference for a chance to win a software subscription from a sponsor or free registration to the next event. This also is a great way to promote sponsors and encourage them to partner in upcoming events.

Here’s an example of Social Media Examiner awarding a year’s subscription to a sponsor’s service.

SMMW event contest

Why couldn’t you do that? Why can’t you do all of this?

The post 7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:00:00 +0000 Organic reach is dwindling, and marketers are setting aside more and more budget for paid social media advertising. Make sure your team checks these boxes when building its next sponsored social campaign.

The post The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads

As organic reach dwindles, social media ads are becoming more and more appealing to marketers. In fact, social advertising budgets doubled from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

I predict this trend will continue to rise in 2018 and beyond. The question is, how can you ensure your campaigns generate clicks and revenue?

After analyzing over 30,000 paid media accounts, we’ve learned the difference between a campaign that gets ignored and one that captures attention. Here, I’ll distill these lessons and apply them to social ads. You’ll learn how to optimize your ad creative, targeting, and format for the best results.

1. Hyper-Focused Audience Targeting

Using social ads to reach your entire audience is a huge waste of budget. Each audience is unique, with its own set of interests, demographic segments, and preferences. Targeting the right portion of your audience while maintaining your brand voice can be challenging, but getting this right leads to more success with your social ads.

Facebook’s Ad platform provides a great environment to reach your core audience. Here are just a few ways to do this:

  1. Use Interest Targeting to reach users based on brand affinity and the content they share on their timelines.
  2. Audience Behaviors allow you to target users with a specific intention, like travel plans, purchasing activity, etc.
  3. Understand the demographic and psychographic makeup of your audience to ensure you’re serving the right content to the right people.

Save your custom audiences to optimize settings and recycle for future campaigns. Custom audiences will also assist with your A/B testing efforts later.

Audience targeting with Facebook ads

Start with a broad audience and refine later. For example, if you’re targeting yoga moms in North America, then save an audience based on those parameters. Refine and tweak specific subcategories after testing ad creative.

2. Two-Cent Video Ads

Video ads are far more memorable than static images and plain text. Furthermore, they can drastically improve your relevancy score. By paying per impression, you can optimize your CPM to just $0.02 per view. But to achieve this low cost, your video must abide by a few principles.

First, focus on the story, not the sale. Create value for the user instead of another sales pitch in their news feed.

Appeal to your audience’s needs and seek to elicit an emotional response. Ensure you’re contributing to your strategic marketing goals by including tracked URLs in the description and end of your video.

Make it fun! Videos that rely solely on facts do not generate shares. Your customers want to laugh, feel moved, and entertained. No matter what industry you’re in, video marketing doesn’t have to be conservative. Make your videos fun to watch.

You have 10 seconds or less to capture attention. Make them count. Create punchy videos that quickly get to the point. If you’re creating a long-form video, use these ten seconds to set expectations.

Ask questions that pique the viewer’s attention, making them anticipate what’s about to happen next. Is your video educational or entertaining? Make it clear why they should watch. Adding subtitles will capture attention when devices are on mute.

Finally, allow your best videos to shine on multiple platforms. For example, if a long-form video performs well on Facebook, upload it as a YouTube video to capture attention there.

For inspiration, watch this example from UNICEF. Here, the non-profit brand has brilliantly humanized a pressing political issue using the power of storytelling:

3. Experiment with Other Social Channels

Many marketers fixate their advertising efforts on Instagram and Facebook. But did you know Twitter’s targeted ad features allow you to tap into 316 million monthly users?! And it doesn’t stop at Twitter. Reddit, Snapchat, and platforms like Outbrain all provide platforms to reach your audience.

When evaluating whether or not to advertise on a platform, take these factors into consideration:

  • Are your competitors advertising there?
  • Do you have content that supports the format of the platform?
  • Are your customers there? What are the user demographics?
  • Are you already seeing success on this platform organically?

Repurposing content from Facebook to other platforms (e.g., Pinterest or LinkedIn) will expand its reach with little effort. For example, you can take a promoted Instagram post and repurpose it into a story, just like J Crew did here:

J Crew sponsored post

4. Optimize Quality Score

The term “quality score” is a broad term worded differently for each platform. For example, on Facebook it’s known as “Relevancy Score,” while on Twitter it’s “Quality Adjusted Bid.”

Regardless, these are factors that make or break the success of your advertising campaigns. A great quality score leads to more impressions at a lower cost-per-engagement, while a low quality score will lead to less impressions for a higher cost.

This is why it’s important to promote your best content. By promoting content that has been proven to perform well, you can run tests that are more likely to succeed.

Use A/B testing to uncover which campaigns perform best. Post content organically and see what generates the most likes, shares, retweets etc.

5. Combine Remarketing with Customer Segmentation

Remarketing on social media allows you to reach website visitors who haven’t taken action on the platforms where they spend the most time. Using social remarketing campaigns, you can double your conversion rates while reducing your overall costs. These are users who have already interacted with you. Serve messaging that encourages a purchase, demo, or consultation.

Amazon remarketing

Here are three social retargeting techniques you can test immediately:

  1. Retarget your blog readers. At the top of the funnel, a user’s first visit is often their last. By retargeting them on social media, you can recapture their attention and get them back into your marketing funnel.
  2. Reach past buyers. Segment your customers by purchase frequency and last transaction. For example, create a retargeting campaign that markets to those who haven’t purchased from you in the last three months. Use special offers and limited discounts for scarcity and exclusivity.
  3. Recycle from other channels. Visitors may already engage with you through other paid campaigns. Retarget visitors to a specific landing page with an offer higher up the funnel. For example, if they visited a landing page offering a free trial, tempt them with an ebook instead.

You’re already spending thousands of dollars to generate visitors to your content and landing pages. Invest a little further to capture lost opportunities with remarketing.

6. Only Pay for What Matters

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the “Like” button is a huge waste of budget. It’s a common reason why marketers see such a low ROI from their social advertising efforts. Instead, focus on the activities that matter most to your business. If you’re promoting an ebook, then pay for leads. If you want more readers to your content, pay for clicks.

Have a proper understanding of your goals. Don’t go in blindly. Prioritize your objectives and choose the leading metric on which you’ll base your budget. Here are five common goals that social ads can help you achieve:

  1. Impressions: If you’re trying to get your message seen by as many people as possible, pay per CPM (impressions per 1000 people).
  2. Engagement: This means likes, retweets, shares, and comments. While these metrics contribute little to revenue, they can be indicators of how well your content resonates with your audience.
  3. Traffic: Aiming to get more eyeballs on your landing page or blog? Then make sure you’re operating on a CPC bidding model. This way, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  4. Lead and Conversions: This is ideal for gated content and lead magnets. If it’s conversions you’re after, make sure you’re paying on a CPA basis.
  5. Sales: This goal looks straight to the bottom of the funnel. This will contribute directly to ROI.

Remember, a promotional campaign will still generate impressions and visits to your social profiles. But it won’t cost you anything, as you’re bidding for the end result.

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the Like button is a huge waste of budget.
Click To Tweet

7. Create Contextual Content

Like each social platform, not all content formats are created equally. As we discovered earlier, the Facebook algorithm favors video content, but will the same video fly on Pinterest?

It’s important, therefore, to create content that works within the context of your target platform. For example, Instagram stories tend to be off-the-cuff in nature. Consider, then, shooting a message directly to the camera, keeping video dimension sizes in mind.

Look at your organic content to see if you’re striking the right balance. Which of your posts generate the most engagement? Reverse engineer your top performing posts when setting up new campaigns for the best results.

8. Advanced A/B Testing Ideas

You won’t always hit a home run from the beginning. And you’re not going to know if you’re getting the best results without testing. Running A/B tests can quickly improve results with a degree of certainty. By experimenting with different variations of the same ad, you can discover new ways to reach your audience and persuade them to act.

To wrap up this guide, here are three A/B techniques that you can test today.

A/B Idea #1: Different Ad Formats

You know who your audience is. But do you know what kind of content they like best? Once you’ve nailed down your saved audiences, test different ad formats on them. Facebook, for example, has over 10 ad types. The format you use will depend on your objective.

If you’re promoting a product, try testing static images versus carousels. Carousels are ads that serve the user with several images, each with a call-to-action. This is popular among e-commerce brands promoting several products to customer segments at once.

A/B Idea #2: Illustrations versus Photography

While testing ad formats can yield better results, don’t forget about the imagery used in those formats.

One example is to test illustrations over photography. This is what Eventbrite did when attracting new users to run events:

Eventbrite AB testing

The principles work the same for video content. Test animations over videos that feature landscapes, people, etc. Compare the two to see which generates a higher engagement rate and ROI.

A/B Idea #3: Copy Length and Emojis

With so much focus on visual content, it can be easy to forget the text that goes with it! Emojis, for example, can attract more attention to your ads. Try placing them in the ad copy, as well as the headline. Use Emojipedia to search for relevant emojis and apply them to your ads.

Emojis in ad copy

Finally, see what effect long copy has over short copy. Facebook allows you to include 500 characters in your ads, but it’s not always necessary to write copy that long.

Short copy tends to require less effort to read. It grabs more attention and generates more engagement. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test the two. Test long and short copy to see which generate the best results. You may find that, while long copy doesn’t generate as much engagement, it does attract more leads.

Now it’s your turn. What are you doing to ensure more people click on your ads? Which A/B tests have proven to be most effective?

The post The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest Fri, 02 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Social media contests require careful planning and nimble execution. Here's a checklist from Jay Baer on the 13 ingredients necessary to do social media contests right.

The post 13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

13 Ingredients in the Perfect Social Media Contest

With the competition for attention online at an all-time high, the struggle to keep followers engaged with your company’s social channels is real, and ongoing. In addition to the smart use of visuals, businesses often turn to social media contests and promotions to stir excitement and drive activity from their audience.

It’s not as easy as tweeting “Who wants to win an iPad!?”, even though we’ve all clicked on that at one time or another. Excellent social media contests require substantial planning and nimble execution. They have many moving parts and potential points of failure.

Here’s a checklist of 13 ingredients you’ll need before launching the perfect social media contest:

1. Venue

Where will this contest take place? Facebook? Instagram? Twitter? Or will it be present in multiple venues, like a photo contest where participants can enter on Facebook or Instagram? Remember that each time you add a venue for participation, your oversight responsibilities grow geometrically.

2. Entry Mechanism

How do people qualify to enter your social media contest? There are hundreds of variations, but there are six main categories of participation mechanism. They are: Sweepstakes (nothing required—most common on Twitter); Connect (like/follow the company’s social account to enter); Like (like a particular piece of content to enter); Share (share a piece of content to enter); Vote (state preference from among multiple pieces of content to enter); Create (develop user-generated content and upload to enter).

Remember: The more you ask your audience to do, the fewer will do it. Remember too that the younger your audience, the more comfortable they will be creating content for your contest.

The more you ask your audience to do in a social media contest, the fewer will do it.
Click To Tweet

3. Theme and Name

Is this contest seasonal? Does it tie into a particular product or service? Remember, the theme/name will guide the rest of the creative. Take some time to come up with something that resonates. Try to keep your contest name short, as long names eat up valuable characters in tweets and ad headlines.

4. Timeline

This is where you coordinate the major elements of the social media contest. The best approach here is to work backward from the date that you want to announce winners. From there, figure out when judging starts/ends (if applicable), when entries close, when entries open, when promotion starts, and other key milestones. Be sure to account for time to develop the creative, get approval for the contest rules, and any other internal hurdles that you need to cover before launch.

5. Visual Identity

In today’s social media landscape of visual billboards, you’ll need strong graphics and video to support your contest. Graphic needs may include cover and profile images, logos, headers, landing pages, emails, promoted posts, carousel images, or ad images (to name a few). Videos explaining and promoting the contest should be in both vertical (Snapchat, Instagram) and horizontal (YouTube, Facebook) formats, and likely various other lengths to maximize impact across different social channels. To make sure your design team doesn’t mutiny, use your timeline from step four and give them a single list of everything you need, including specific pixel dimensions and required language or copy. For Facebook, remember the 20 percent rule when creating graphics for promoted posts and ad images.

6. Prizes

What will winners receive? This is a place for you to be creative, and most social media contests are far too obvious here. (See “win an iPad” above.)

Remember, the prize itself can be the theme for the contest, as with the legendary “best job in the world” campaign from Tourism Queensland. The best contests have prizes that tie directly back to the company itself. This becomes particularly important when you consider the downstream results of this effort. You want to activate and attract people who are genuinely interested in your business, not just “contest hunters” who enter everything they can find. If you sell fishing gear, give away fishing gear as a prize, not an iPad.

7. Editorial Calendar

Here’s where you map out (via Excel, a custom Google calendar, and/or your social media management software) all the social media posts, email messages, advertising support, and other communications about your promotion. You don’t necessarily have to write all of the messages in advance—although it’s not a bad idea, and your legal team may require it. Remember that your social media contest (and corresponding communications) has five phases: pre-launch, launch, last chance, completion, and winners. You need to plan multiple messages across multiple platforms for each phase.

8. Seeding Strategy

This applies to the pre-launch and launch phases of your social media contest. This is where you figure out how to give your promotion the best chance of lift-off in the critical early days of the promotion. What you’re trying to do here is make sure that the people who already love you, and the people who have a disproportionate number of social connections, are fully aware of the contest and are ready to participate and spread the word the minute the promotion begins. This could include special “Shh, Coming Soon” emails to key customers and social influencers, making sure all employees are aware of the event and other opportunities.

Remember: You do not want to “soft launch” a contest. This is especially true on Facebook, where the algorithm dictates that slow starters get buried.

9. Amplification Strategy

With the exception of simple Twitter contests and basic Facebook contests that are managed within your timeline, you will probably need some sort of amplification to ensure that your contest has the reach (and garners the attention) you desire. This may include Facebook and Instagram ads (think about custom audiences ads shown only to your email subscribers), Facebook promoted posts, Twitter promoted tweets, ad opportunities on Pinterest, amplification networks like Outbrain, Taboola, and Stumble, and other options. Remember that even if your contest takes place on one platform, you can use multiple platforms to amplify it.

10. Rules

I purposefully put rules and legal advice tenth on this list because I have found it is much easier to have legal weigh in on the entirety of the program (including seeding, editorial, amplification) all at once, instead of having them look at the mechanism and prizes first, and then going back to them later with a second round of inquiries about the other elements. As with the design team, make legal’s job easier by giving them the total picture up-front. Be proactive by doing your research first on what each venue allows for contests, and have the links ready to share with legal. (Here’s Facebook’s Pages Terms.) It’ll make them happy, and you absolutely want to keep them on your side.

11. Community Management

Participants and prospective entrants will have questions and comments about your contest. Some will be easy to address. Others may not be so simple. It is absolutely critical (even for simple contests) that you have a defined plan for who is moderating and overseeing your social outposts. This doesn’t just mean the channels where the contest is located and normal business hours. What is your plan for coverage on nights and weekends? Your day-to-day community management realities will likely be modest compared to what you need to accomplish during a contest. Plan for this.

12. Crisis Plan

You should already have a social media crisis plan. If you’ve never created one, the launch of your new contest provides excellent leverage for getting it finished. Will something go massively awry with your contest, causing you to activate your crisis plan? Probably not. But if it does, and you don’t have that crisis plan to turn to in that critical moment, the chances you’ll ever get to do another contest are just about zero. Consider this to be the “I’m not about to get fired because of a contest” ingredient of this recipe. (See my popular “8 steps to manage a social media crisis” post and slides here.)

13. Software (Sometimes)

As with amplification, you may not need software if your social media contest is very straightforward. But for any sort of contest that requires data collection as part of the entry mechanism, you’ll need software to help build and manage the affair. There are literally dozens of software packages that help you do this, either as their sole function or as part of a larger suite of social media management capabilities. Here at Convince & Convert, we’re familiar with most of them but haven’t used them all first-hand.

Software I can personally recommend (please feel free to nominate others in the comments) includes:

  • Wyng: For mid-sized companies on Facebook and beyond, this software packs tons of campaign and content templates and ideas.
  • Shortstack: For small businesses up to large agencies, this is one of the legacy providers for contests on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Strutta: For medium/large companies hosting contests on Facebook, Instagram, or their own microsite, their DIY and custom packages make this software accessible for most.
  • Woobox: This software is designed for mid-sized companies and large brands that make Facebook a top priority.
  • Wishpond: This tool works best for medium/large companies connecting contests to lead generation.
  • Rafflecopter: This is one of the best options for bloggers and solopreneurs looking to run a simple giveaway with multiple entry points.

Those are the 13 ingredients of the perfect social media contest. What did I miss?

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Social Media Automation Is Bad, and Other Marketing Lies Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:00:00 +0000 Social media automation doesn’t have to be spam. Rethink your publishing schedule and save valuable time with a little smart-o-mation.

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Social Media Automation Is Bad, and Other Marketing Lies

When it comes to social media and marketing automation, there are ways to win big. However, there have also been some runaway dumpster fires.


Remember AT&T’s super-spammy debacle called the “Ticket Chasers” program? It was a chance for people to win free NCAA tickets. They outsourced the campaign to a contractor, who then outsourced the Tweets to a robot, who then spammed the crap out of thousands of Twitter users.

ATT Ticket Chasers social campaign

The problem was that many of the recipients didn’t even follow @ATT or have any interest in NCAA.

Or, more recently, take @McDonaldsCorp’s unfortunate tweet.

McDonalds Twitter mistake

There’s not a lot of substance there, but @Wendys sure loved it.

Wendys Twitter reply

Even the best of us make mistakes, and public ones at that. But some point to these instances as proof-positive that social media automation is bad marketing—that it undermines the purpose of social media altogether: community engagement and meaningful conversations.

After all, you’d never automate messages to your friends and family, would you? Then how can you (gasp) automate messages to your beloved audience?

The truth is, these accusations miss the point entirely. Social media automation done well is both brilliant and has a positive return. The difference is using what I call “smart-o-mation” rather than “spam-o-mation.”

I don’t like spam. Nobody likes spam. But social automation doesn’t have to be spam.

‘It’s Only Time’

Once upon a time, my company, CoSchedule, ran a test around the perfect recipe for social promotion. We wanted to know how many times we should promote a single piece of content. Which networks work best?

We dug into our own data packed with millions of messages from tens of thousands of users. We also crunched the numbers from over twenty industry-recognized studies on the best times to schedule social media messages on every network.

I’m talking time of day, day of the week, every detail down to the hour. Then, we published our findings.

Recently, I met a marketer who was absolutely raving about this article. That was pretty fun to hear. In fact, he found so much value in it, he had it bookmarked and followed it religiously every time he scheduled a social media messages for his brand’s many accounts.

“For every message?” I asked him.

“That’s right, every message.”

“Doesn’t that take you a ton of time?” I asked.

“Nah, it’s not that bad. Just a few hours per week.”

He was an awesome guy, and we talked for a while longer. Eventually, though, I gave him some good news that I could get him the same results—perfectly scheduled messages—in one percent of the time with some of our automation features.

Surprisingly, he pushed back. It took some time for me to convince him that he should give up the intensive manual labor of scheduling things by hand. He kept saying, “It’s only time—it doesn’t cost me anything!” However, that’s where he, and many other marketers I’ve met, are wrong.

Dollarize Your Time

A few quick questions helped me calculate that his time was worth about $100 per hour. In his mind, he was saving money by not dropping $60 per month on an automation tool. By the end of our conversation, it was pretty apparent that while he was “saving” $60, he was actually spending $1,200 in time to accomplish the same function.

He was stuck in the “it’s only time” trap. He was grossly undervaluing his time. And we constantly see this in marketing teams.

Too many marketers think their time is free. But they don’t realize that it’s actually more valuable than their money.

The purpose of promotion is to get the right people to the right place at the right time—all with the goal of driving profitable customer action. The mechanics of promotion are about ruthlessly outsourcing tasks that can be performed just as well, if not better, by automated processes. When you don’t, you’re stuck in an unscalable pattern.

My marketing friend, like each of us, has 168 hours per week. Let’s generously say he only works 40 hours per week. (He probably works much more, like a lot of you reading this!) That means the three “free” hours he spends each week on perfectly timing his social messages equals 7.5 percent of his time.

Now, I’ll ask you the same question I asked him: “How would it feel to put in fewer hours and get better results?”

It’s possible because that same time previously sunk into menial tasks is now available for high-return pursuits—the stuff you absolutely cannot delegate to another person or tool.

It’s time to embrace smart-o-mation to get bigger results in less time.

Smart-o-mation versus Spam-o-mation

Smart-o-mation is a way to 10x your social media results while saving time and money. In fact, I believe in its power so much, it’s actually a part of my content marketing formula.

However, when people hear me talk about automation, some think I’m advocating for “Ticket Chasers”-style spamming, where you simply spew the same tweets, posts, and pics ad nauseam. This is spam-o-mation, a virtual recipe for alienating your audience in a public way. It’s also the form of automation people actually have a problem with.

Rethink Your Publishing Schedule

Harnessing the power of smart-o-mation is dead simple. It’s all about rethinking your publishing schedule.

Spoiler alert: It’s time to get aggressive.

In my experience, under-sharing on social media is a marketing epidemic. It looks like this: You publish a fresh blog post, then share a link on Facebook, Twitter, or maybe LinkedIn. Hopefully, it picks up some traction and nabs some likes, comments, and shares.

But within a few hours, your post evaporates from people’s feeds. In fact, some studies indicate a tweet’s shelf life is five minutes or less before it evaporates for good.

Now, couple that shelf life with the staggering amount of noise on social. Every single second, there are:

  • 814 images published on Instagram
  • 2,644,941 emails sent
  • 7,844 messages tweeted

This is further compounded by the dismal reality of that post’s reach. According to a report by Social@Ogilvy, brands may experience as little as two percent organic reach.

If you’ve got 10,000 followers, a cool 200 of them will see the post as they breeze through their feeds over the course of two hours.

From our own data, we know that 77 percent of our users share their content on social media less than three times. 37 percent share content on social media just once after it’s published.

Here’s the deal. If you’re sharing a piece of content just once, you’re absolutely wasting your content. You’re leaving tons of engagement and traffic on the table—and this means revenue!

We know this for a fact because when we ramped up our posting schedule, our blog posts got 31.5 times more click-throughs—that’s a 3,150 percent increase in one week. And all because of our frequency.

We more than quadrupled our traffic with essentially no more effort.

How a social media calendar helps content succeed

Our first tweet attracted only two link clicks. A measly two people visited our content.

If we’d stopped there, this channel would have been a nothing burger. Fortunately, we kept talking about it. We tweeted about this piece of content eight more times, attracting 63 additional click-throughs.

You can take a deeper dive into exactly how we did it with a webinar Jay Baer and Nathan Ellering tag teamed.

One of my favorite quotes from Jay here was, “The goal isn’t to be good at social media. The goal is to be good at business because of social media.”

That’s exactly what a more robust posting schedule helps you do.

If you’re sharing a piece of content just once, you’re absolutely wasting your content.
Click To Tweet

Smart-O-Mate Your New Posting Schedule

Over time and with constant testing, we settled on a social media promotion schedule that’s about 40 days long for blog posts alone. But, since we publish so much content, manually keeping up with so much social media posting legwork would cost an incredible amount in dollarized time. It would also be a huge opportunity cost.

While our marketing team would be doing excellent social media work by posting at the best times on the optimal days, their time to actually create more content and engage with our followers on social media would be seriously undercut.

That’s why we define our cross-platform promotion schedule and then automate every message with just a few clicks.

We still custom design graphics. We still write valuable copy for every social message. We’re doing far more than shooting out a title and link for 40 days.

But the point to embrace is that intelligent automation will save you time, and therefore increase your ability to drive business value with social media.

Get yourself unstuck from the “It’s only time” trap, get aggressive with your promotion schedule, and capitalize on social automation tools to do the time-consuming tasks for you.

In fact, Convince & Convert saves north of 10 hours each month via the same process. But remember, be smart, not spammy. Add value to your audience at every turn. This will allow automation to supercharge your results rather than sour them.

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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.
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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'?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

The post 4 Reasons Marketers Should Embrace Instagram Over Snapchat appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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.

The post Why B2B Companies Need to Get Started with Facebook Live appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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?

The post Why B2B Companies Need to Get Started with Facebook Live appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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