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How to Advertise on Facebook & Instagram

Great ads are more than just pretty pictures. In this post, we’re zooming in on what makes a truly eye-catching creative (and one that sells, at that). 

You don’t have to be a designer-photographer-stylist extraordinaire to get a positive return on your ad creatives. You just need to know the guidelines while sprinkling in a few of the tips below to produce something your potential customers will love!

Through this series of tips, we’ll show you how to stop the endless social media scroll and awe your audience. Think about when you’re checking in on the goings-on, scrolling through your Instagram like a madwoman, when something flashy catches your eye. This is what you, as an advertiser, need to be aware of and emulate to create a great ad. 

Keep your customer in mind and ask thyself when creating ads, “What stops thee in scrolling, and therefore, what will stop thy in scrolling?”

1. Interactive movement

Don’t worry – you don’t have to be a videographer! You can use Facebook’s ad creation tool to simply upload photos to make a slideshow or a video with text overlay.

2. Color and contrast

Bright colors stop users from scrolling but so does negative space. Play around with both, but don’t stray too far away from your existing brand’s attributes.

We’ve found that high-contrast and slightly over-saturated photos tend to out-compete others. Turn up the contrast and saturation ever so slightly to make your ad POP!

3. Emphasize text

Text matters. When you see something while scrolling that your brain wants to process, it can be more efficiently understood depending on its size
 
Highlight triggering words that you’d like to get across to your audience quickly by increasing their size. Be highly selective when you do so, adding emphasis to one spot rather than every bit of text on an ad. 
 
Be sure and use   Facebook’s Image Text Check  to ensure your ad’s compliant!
Pro tip: create folders in Instagram to save any ads or imagery that stopped you in your tracks (scroll).

4. Size matters

We’ve all heard it, and we’re here to tell you – it’s true. When creating an ad, keep in mind the platform(s) you’ll be running it on. This way you can size and resize your creatives to take up maximum space, and therefore exposure, in the feed!
 
Here are the most popular ad types and platforms, and they’re preferred sizes.
 
  • Facebook Feed Desktop/Mobile: 1200px by 628px OR 1080px by 1080px
  • Carousel Ad: 1080px by 1080px
  • Instagram Feed: 1080px by 1080px
  • Facebook or Instagram Story: 1080px by 1920px
  • Video Ratio: 16:9 to 9:16
 Or take a look at this full list and specs from Facebook:
 
Facebook now lets you upload different creatives for different platforms. That way you can customize each ad to perform its best.
Simply click “Select a placement to customize” to upload different creative sizes for different platforms.
 
Here’s our last tip!

5. Don’t be a hero: use tools 

Here’s some of our favorites:

  • Canva – free and user-friendly
  • Pexels or Unsplash – free stock images
  • Adobe Spark – a tool in Adobe Suite, so it’ll cost you
  • Cut Story – intuitive phone editing app
  • Instagram Story – create an Instagram Story full of stickers + other fun movement, then download for free (easiest video ad
Now there’s nothing standing in the way of your brand and profitable ads! Get creative and seek feedback from your teammates or influencers in your field.
 
Before we forget, Happy Holidays! While you’re tying up this year’s loose ends, how about you let us save you some time. Check out our   Holiday Backgrounds + Step-by-Step Instructions – this education includes 10 unique holiday-themed graphics in all + four versions of each for a total of 40 visual assets (transparent PNG files).
 
Find and spy on your competition to launch better Facebook and Instagram Ads
Honestly, launching ad campaigns can be scary. You don’t want to waste a bunch of money on ads that don’t convert. 
 
Our first piece of advice? Don’t reinvent the wheel. The smartest marketer in the room knows what their competition is up to. Pull existing inspiration from your industry to educate yourself on what’s already working. Now, here’s how we’d recommend you spy on your competitors.
Find the Competition
If you don’t already know who your competitors are, here is a simple way you can find them. 
 
Go to your Instagram profile, then click the arrow next to “Contact”. Instagram should populate with various accounts that are similar to yours. Go through them to find some direct competitors. Then repeat this process on those competitors’ profiles to find more competitors.
Find your competitors on Instagram
Make a List
 
Make a list of 3-5 top competitors you admire in your space. We like to add ours to a spreadsheet that lists the competitor’s assets like Instagram, their following and website. That way, we can quickly check up on these accounts.
Make a list of your competition
Spy on their Marketing 
 
Your next step is to see what type of ads your competition is running. Never copy and paste their work. That’s not only plagiarism, but your audience will see right through it. 
 
Simply go to  The Facebook Ad Library and type in your first competitor’s name. Facebook will populate all the ads this page has run. Take note of the following.
Use the Facebook Ad Library to see what ads your competition is running
1. How long has the ad been running:
  • Usually, longevity means it’s a winner.
Facebook Ad Library
2.  What creative is being used:
  • Do they have lots of videos? If so, are they educational videos, testimonials, slideshows? Do they run carousel ads? Catalog campaigns?
Facebook Ads Library Your Competitions Ads
3.  What copy works:
  • Is their copy short or long? Are they offering discounts or coupon codes? Are they educating in the copy of going straight to the offer?
Long versus short copy Facebook Ads
4.  See where people are being sent:
  • Click their CTA buttons to view their landing page. Are they sending customers straight to a product page on their website or to a longer sales page (to warm up leads)?
Checkout where your competition is sending their traffic, Facebook Ad Library
5. See who’s being targeted:
  • Click on the CTA button and learn more about who they’re targeting by looking at their UTMs.
Checkout your competitions UTMs to see who they are targeting
6. Get on the list:
  • Sign up for their email list to see what their opt-in flow is like. Do they send educational content? Do they run promos? What type of ads do they serve you after you’re on their list?
7. Abandon checkout:
  • Go to your competitor’s site and move through their checkout flow. Enter all your information then abandon your cart. See what type of abandoned cart email sequence and ad campaign you get. Do they offer a coupon code? Do they push any type of scarcity (Ex. “This offer is ending soon!”)

And that’s how you can easily spy on your competition and launch better Facebook ads!

Of course, you could always off load the ad work.   Schedule a free strategy call with our team    to discuss social media advertising that stacks up to the competition.

facebook advertising catalog social marketing
Ever heard of the Facebook Catalog? Often called a Dynamic Product Ad (DPA), it’s basically a database of your products ready to advertise and sell.
facebook catalog Dynamic Product Ads
Ad features clothing brand Lou & Grey, a fave among our team for standout fashion pieces.
 
 It connects directly to your site to collect information on your inventory, like whether a product is stocked and if a price or description changes. Your catalog can even pull information from your store on a daily basis in order so your catalog ad campaigns stay up to date.
 
Your Facebook catalog allows you to dynamically retarget users based on the product they viewed and deep link them directly back to that product page. When you connect your catalog to your Instagram account and Facebook page, those users can shop your profiles directly. You can even create multiple product sets in your catalog to create specific upsells and cross-sells based on what a user did or didn’t do on your site.
 
The Facebook catalog is so great because it’s an adaptable tool. It’s generally the first ad campaign we recommend launching as it can retarget users that are the lowest hanging fruit – you can send people who’ve clicked into or abandoned their cart directly back to the product pages they first viewed. In this way, these ads tend to yield the highest returns for one’s business.
 
So without further ado, we’re going to show you our favorite ways to spice up your catalog to get even more bang for your buck!
1. Stand out with a frame
dynamic product ad facebook creative examples
A video ad we made for Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi – illustrates this product’s probiotic pop with a super simple frame-by-frame animation!
 
We already know color can help catch the attention of a scrolling user, so adding a colorful frame to your product catalog to show off that mouthwatering deal will almost certainly seal the sale.
2. Be relevant
facebook advertising targeting copywriting social media
If you wanna recipe for Chocolate Banana Pancakes with Bone Broth Protein, you gotta check out Ancient Nutrition.
 
In your catalog, you can dynamically retarget people that abandoned their cart and be super relevant when you speak to them through ad copy.
3. Make a slideshow
You must have multiple photos in your Shopify product page for this one to work – great way to showcase lifestyle product photos along with your run-of-the-mill product photos! 
 
If you’ve got several product photos for each product, create a product catalog – this way, each frame is its own slideshow and catches the attention even more from the scroller!
4. Get creative
facebook slideshow example baby food
Playful catalog ad for Serenity Kids – can’t resist a cute little veggie garden.
 
Get creative and interactive by making a wide motif with copy they’ll want to read until the end. Here, the labels each have a clear subject that highlights what sets the brand apart to naturally entice the reader to continue a story or idea by clicking through the entire carousel. Try publishing the same ad with different subject lines and copy to see which tests better with your audience.
We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite ways to spice up your Facebook catalog. If you’re not constantly looking for ways to entertain your audience, you’re not doing it right. For more inspo, browse Facebook’s Ad Library or read another one of our related blog posts: 5 Key Tips to Producing  Profitable Facebook & Instagram Ads.
 
Design a great landing page

Y’all, we’re excited about this one! We’ve seen amazing returns on landing pages that follow these techniques.

First, let’s define a Landing Page (LP): It’s a stand-alone page where someone “lands” after they click on an ad or a marketing campaign. A landing page is not usually found anywhere on your main site, as it generally contains a really great  offer that you wouldn’t want just anyone to see. 

Now, here’s  10 best practices to creating landing pages that we keep in mind. 

1. Know your audience

Before you do anything, get to know your customers. Seriously! 

Yes, keep your brand guidelines in mind when creating your landing page. But, also remember who this page is for. It’s not for you, it’s for your customer. Speak to them by using colors and language that they resonate with.

2. Provide a great offer 

This may be a no brainer, but make sure you’ve got a killer offer. 
 
If this is your entry offer, are you offering a really bad ass mini course, an ebook, or a free-plus-shipping product offer? How can you sweeten the deal? 
 
Consider bundling multiple deals. Don’t get too caught up on if you’ll break even or lose a little on your first offer. You can always add an upsell on the next page!
landing page tips that actually work
You can see here that Winc offered customers (directed from a Facebook ad) 4 bottles of wine for $39. By contrast, users shopping on their website rather than this landing page would only receive 35% off.

3. Clear offer above “the fold”

Users should come to your landing page and immediately know the offer they’re getting. 

Your offer’s language should be clear and concise + fit on the screen (of any device) without a user needing to scroll to see it.

above the fold landing pages

4. Find social proof

Social proof is so important in helping secure the sale. Customers raving about your product on Twitter? Add it to your landing page! 

According to WebDam, testimonial videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%. So, when someone tags you in a video Instagram Story, hit screen record and save for later. Always ask for their permission before use.

5. Address pain points

Know what pain points your offer is solving for the customer. 

Before you start, list out the top three pain points that your landing page offer will resolve to keep your landing page focused when building it out.
pain points marketing tips
Pain point: a number of factors get in the way when shoppers are buying a product online. Solution: Bolt seeks to eradicate those distractions to increase sales and presents a number of studies to prove their methods do just that.
 

6. Less asks, the better

Don’t ask for too much on the first page. 

If you do require a lot of information, like a mailing address or phone number, take care to make it a two-step form where you are sure to at least secure name + email from step one in case the user drops off. This way, you can follow up via email.
landing page examples that work
Daily Harvest’s page is bright, white and clean! Products are clearly presented and both pages ask for minimal info to start so they can always follow up with email marketing if the customer doesn’t decide to purchase right away. 

7. Put their blinders on

This means no menus or links that lead away – all clickable assets lead directly to your goal. There’s no way for us to be clearer on this one. 😉
landing pages that sell
Every click leads to HelloFresh’s delicious offer. Also, that initial pop-up message is a little tricky with a reverse yes-means-no tactic.

8. Brighten button colors

 Your CTA (call-to-action) button should be a contrasting, attractive color that screams “click here!” Our favorite button colors are green, blue, yellow, and orange.  


If your brand is design heavy, feel free to use colors that match your branded color scheme, but do try to make the button pop in other ways. You can make your buttons stand out by –

  • only using a specific color for CTA buttons and not anywhere else on the screen.
  • making your CTA buttons animated: add a button hover or wiggle to make your CTA draw attention.
  • using large text, a drop shadow, or arrows pointing toward your button. 
CTA button color call to action

9. Is it mobile friendly?

Cause it really does matter: “40% of users turn to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience,” (Compuware). Now think of that in terms of people – if 430 people visited your site (nice!) and had a bad time, you could lose out on as many as 172 purchases (not so nice).

Guesty’s page isn’t just mobile friendly – it’s color coordinated! Bright illustration’s make their objectives clear to understand with just a quick glance.

10. Track conversions and optimize

What’s your goal? Leads, sales, registrations, or otherwise? 

Be sure to set and track your goals. That way, you’ve got a benchmark for success and can properly determine if your offer + landing page is converting well. Once you know your benchmark, you can do things like A/B test your landing page design, your CTA button’s text or color, or your landing page offer all to optimize for a better cost to acquire a customer.

How can you use these strategies to put together a great landing page that entices customers to your brand? Take these recommendations and run with it! 

If the process seems a bit much, that’s because it is – but, it gets easier over time! If you’d like a second pair of eyes, schedule a free strategy call with our team.

 

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How To Create Content That Captivates Audiences

how to create content that captivates audiences
Introduction

Content Creation or the “material people contribute to the online world” is an ever-changing art. Social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube allow users boundless opportunities for creativity. But, only so few people rise to the top by finding their niche + a voice that entertains or educates viewers.

As a marketing agency representing a number of CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands, it’s vital we stay agile when crafting content, keeping our clients a cut above the rest. Through this series of blog posts, we’ll share our why behind creative tooling and how-tos to keep your creative process flowing.

Glossary
Social Media Marketing Tools & Software to Optimize Your Workflow: For Agencies AND Small Business Owners

It’s been a process finding the right tools for our team.

For one, there’s the commitment factor – you get the cheapest rates if you sign up for a year-long payment plan, but then you’re stuck with whatever you get. Good or not.

Obviously try (by free trial offers) before you buy, if it’s an option. But, we’re here to save you time and money.

Here’s the comprehensive list of tools we rely on for day-to-day management; social media planning, posting, and engaging; as well as reporting + the pros and cons behind each one.

Facebook page entrepreneur social media desktop mobile
Google Sheets, 15GB free

Cloud-based spreadsheet program

We use it for: 

  • Customizing weekly and monthly reports.
  • Drafting social media post ideas internally.
  • Manually recording social media, email, and advertising analytics.

Pros:

  • It’s a cheap, accessible program that you and the majority of your clients are already familiar with.
  • If you’re familiar with Excel or Google Drive at all, this program yields a steady learning curve. 

Cons: 

  • It’s a great place to create and store information, but it won’t cover all your bases – you’ll still be manually posting across social media platforms and recording data by hand. 

Those looking to save time would benefit from using the additional programs listed below.

Trello, 10 free team boards

Kanban-style list-making application

We use it for:

  • Drafting social media posts or advertisements + sharing those ideas with clients on approvals.
  • For those looking for a closer agency-client relationship with thorough reviews before publication, this is a great site to exchange ideas before anything goes live.

Pros:

  • It’s mobile friendly – if you’ve got a client requesting last-minute edits, or you’re always on the go, Trello’s app interface is super user friendly.

Cons:

  • You can’t schedule out posts on Trello to directly post on Instagram, Facebook, or any other social media platform.

If you need a place to store and share multiple drafts, Trello is a great asset. If you’re in need of a system where you can queue up posts weeks in advance and aren’t afraid to put a little money down, read on.

Basecamp, $99/month
Project management system 

We use it for: 

  • Keeping our team on the same page.

Pros:

  • Once you’ve got a queue full of tasks and enable BC’s push notifications across your smart devices, you’ll be alerted whenever a teammate comments on tasks or assigns you a new project. 

Cons: 

  • When you spread communication out across platforms, some ideas may slip through the cracks.
  • Outline how your team will utilize BC versus email, GChat, Slack, or otherwise before putting this site to use.

Buffer, $15-$99/month
Software app for managing, posting, & reporting across social media accounts

We use it for: 

  • Scheduling out posts across Facebook and Instagram. 

Pros:

  • It’s an affordable option with a simple-to-use interface.

Cons: 

  • We’ve noticed Buffer will occasionally downgrade the quality of an image – vibrant red uploading as so-so crimson is no good, especially for food and beverage brands hoping to convey quality to their audience.
  • Buffer addresses this occurrence in their FAQ section and while customer service offered suggestions on how to avoid this result, it’s certainly an annoying issue.
  • No scheduled boosting.
  • You can’t schedule out multiple images within a single Instagram posts – however, you can set up a notification to remind a teammate to post. 

Sprout Social, $99-$249/month
Social media management software

We use it for: 

  • The whole nine yards! Well, almost. 
  • Scheduling out posts across Facebook and Instagram. 
  • Instant customizable monthly reporting.
  • Boosting in advance or day of.  

Pros:

  • Reporting is soo easy. Just set your preferences and export within a minute. Awesome for clients who need weekly in-depth reports. 
  • Calendar is intuitively designed with in-app cropping + adjustment tools.

Cons: 

  • Like Buffer, you can’t schedule out multiple images within a single Instagram posts – however, you can set up a notification to remind a teammate to post. 

Honorable Mention – Planoly
free resources online

We use it for: 

  • Industry updates 
  • General inspiration 
  • National holiday calendars
best social media tools marketing team iphone ipad

There it is! A list of tools that we currently use for social media planning, execution, and client communication.

You may gather that Sprout Social is our favorite software – against Buffer, it does have a few additional features that we prefer.

For big-picture planning, a combination of Google Sheets, Trello, and Basecamp may serve your team best. If you have to pick just one, how about Google Sheets as it’s cheap, diverse, and collaborative.

With Turkey Day right around the corner, it’s time to execute a killer Black Friday, Cyber Monday (BFCM) marketing plan. That’s right – it’s not too late to improve upon any existing plans you have in the queue or start a campaign from scratch sourcing some inspo from the ideas we’ve collected for you below.

In any case, you need to take part in the sales madness to some extent: “In 2018 the average adult spent $483.18 over the shopping holiday, making a total spend across the US of $90.14 billion,” (Oberlo). Yeah, that’s a chunk of change.

Okay, time to share our favorite BFCM examples.

1. Promote Giving Tuesday Instead, Ivory Ella

Ivory Ella is an online for-profit clothing store affiliated with Save the Elephants, an organization specializing in wildlife conservation. So, it only makes sense for this cause-based brand to lean into Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday following Thanksgiving) rather than Black Friday. 

For every customer who purchased a beanie on Giving Tuesday, Ivory Ella donated 100% of the proceeds towards buying coats for children in need. By holding their sale on a day outside of the Black Friday rush, the competition had certainly simmered down. 

It’s awesome that this campaign reconnected their audience with the meaning of the season – giving! – while spreading the word about their brand. Users were encouraged to snap and share a photo wearing that hat online with the #GivingTuesday, seamlessly spreading the brand’s reach for the foreseeable future.

2. Create a Gift Guide, Trouva

“Gift guide themed emails see a 48% higher transaction rate than purely promotional emails,” (Campaign Monitor). This! ☝☝☝

Put together a compelling gift guide based on any number of details, like gender, price point, or product color. Don’t forget to have fun with it to set your post apart from the crowd! Here’s a short list of some of our favorite gift guide titles from PopSugar: 

  • “13 Unique Gift Ideas For the Dad Who Says He Wants Nothing”
  • “30+ White Elephant Gifts So Cute, Everyone Will Be Fighting Over Them”
  • “Psst, Santa — All We Want For Christmas Are These Sweet Treats From Target”

Here’s an example from Trouva (a curated marketplace for brick and mortar independent shops) of a gift guide based on sustainable products.

They sent this email out with the subject line “Gifts with a Conscience.” A little serious, but clearly targeting an eco-minded audience.

It’s this idea of specificity paired with a curation model that differentiates Trouva’s platform and overall marketing efforts. And, with notable success: “[In 2018, Trouva] was recognised   for the second year running as The Next Web’s Tech5 list of five fastest growing technology companies in the UK, as well as the 8th fastest in Europe, with revenue growth of 3,332 per cent over the past two years.”

3. Make a Statement, Cards Against Humanity

Okay – this one’s a little crazy, but hear us out!

Back in 2013, Cards Against Humanity took the opposite approach to BFCM. Instead of decreasing their prices, they increased them by $5 across the board.

“Amazon  [was] hesitant, but green-lit the price-rise and sat back incredulous as the card game’s sales actually increased year-on-year. The ‘sale’ was widely shared on Twitter and Tumblr, was the top post on Reddit and was widely covered in news outlets the world over,” (Our Social Times).

CAH continued to profit off this absurdist approach: In 2016, they crowdsourced over $100k so they could dig a hole for as long as people could pay to keep the backhoe running. 

In 2018, they had a 99% Off Sale: “Every ten minutes, a new deal will go live on this page. Don’t be frightened by the deals. Just click and let the savings wash over you.”

“The sale started off by offering 99% off of a twenty dollar bill, and then REALLY got creative. A 17th-century halberd, a slightly used car, a 30ft inflatable bald eagle, and a sort of “Royal Throne” soon followed the initial offer,” (IMPACT). Users actually bought and received these items – wild.

If it weren’t already obvious, CAH aren’t fans of Black Friday and would rather uplift anti-consumerist culture. This move ultimately fosters brand loyalty. So, don’t be afraid to go against the grain if you’ve got a niche audience or especially fun product line + service. 

4. Time Is Running Out, Lou and Grey

It doesn’t take much to get your audience on the edge of their seats – convey a clear sense of urgency with a short-term + significantly discounted sale and the purchases will roll right in.

When it comes to emails, you can’t go wrong employing minimalist imagery + a dynamic element (see: this clock’s minute hand ticking away). Remember to be super intentional with what you draw attention to in this way – here, it is very clear that time is of the essence.

We recommend running a 3-day promo with a series of automated emails: Email 1, 72 hours prior (introduce your super short sale); Email 2, 48 hours prior (increase intensity of language); and Email 3, 12 hours left (harp on scarcity: “almost completely sold out of our stock, better hurry!”).

That’s it – four of our favorite BFCM campaigns! Did you have a favorite? Or, are you planning something totally different that you’d like our thoughts on? Shoot us a DM on Instagram sometime – we’d love to hear about it.

Looking for a little something more to fuel your BFCM marketing plan? We’ve got a guide to help you out from start to finish: check out  our Black Friday, Cyber Monday Total Execution Plan now.

fb ig branded content tools

What

Earlier this year, Instagram announced a new tool for business-influencer collaborations: branded content ads. Now, “advertisers have the ability to promote creators’ organic branded content posts as feed and stories ads,” (Instagram Business).

Why

We love this because –

  • The tool is available on the Facebook ads platform – already familiar to most.
  • It could cut down on the amount of time your team spends making ad creatives in-house.
  • You’ve got easy access to analytics + can optimize and test campaigns against your set goals for more effective marketing.
  • Businesses & influencers will reach targeted audiences beyond the people already following them.

As these ads appear across feeds and stories, people will see “Paid partnership with” along with the brand name on each post. This not only abides by FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines, but adds an element of transparency which empowers users to knowingly support the influencers or brands of their choice.

ig branded content tools screenshot news

How

  1. “Branded content creators need to enable their business partners to promote their post or story as an ad, which they can do in Advanced Settings.”
  2. “The business partner will see the post on Ads Manager under Existing Posts and can choose to run it as an ad in feed or stories format.”
  3. For more detailed step-by-step instructions,   follow along here.

When 

So, when’s the right time to put a branded content post into play?
 
As we mentioned before, you may want to cut down the time you spend making ads in-house – if an influencer provides you with an awesome testimonial video, promote their post or story.
 
According to Business Insider Intelligence estimates, ”the influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022.”

“Influencer marketing works because it uses tactics like word-of-mouth marketing and social proof, which are now critical aspects of any successful marketing strategy. Customers trust their peers, friends, and people they admire more than the companies selling the products and services they buy and use.” (HubSpot)

Why does branded content work better than any ole ad? It may help you target your core demographic with content creators they already love or resonate with! <- Tweet this!

Imagine this – you’re minding your own business, scrolling through your IG feed and two ads come up. One is a standard skincare ad with a SKU of beauty products. This is shortly followed by another skincare ad, but this one feature Chrissy Teigen – you love how authentic Chrissy seems online (her tweets are gold).

It’s a no brainer – the second ad resonates with you more. At best, you purchase the skincare product that Chrissy endorses. At least, you engage with the ad in some way, could be as simple as liking the post or clicking through.

This type of influential ad is much more likely to get your audience to engage in some way, which warms them up for a potential purchase in the future.

We’re excited this option is available. Already got an idea on how you’ll leverage it for your next influencer partnership or looking for advice on how to do so?   Schedule a free strategy call with our team.

 

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How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

how to use instagram to grow your business

Introduction

Instagram: We eat, breathe, live, and love the app. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Plus, it’s an invaluable tool for marketing whether you’re managing ads, photographing content, or carving out a marketing strategy for one of your clients.

You better believe whenever Instagram comes out with a new feature, we’ll be the first ones testing + optimizing and sharing our findings via a blog post.

Glossary

IG takeovers film easy how to best of

Instagram (IG) Takeovers: Our favorite way to form lasting brand-to-consumer connections. Inviting a guest to take over a brand’s Stories for 24 hours helps viewers put a face (and personality) to the brand and expand their reach exponentially.  

It can happen between any two users: founders of a company sharing what a day in their life looks like, an influencer endorsing a brand, or a customer sharing their overall experience with a product. 
Now, we’ve compiled a few of our recent finds to share with you! Plus, we’ll speak to why this varied marketing approach elevates each brand’s overall strategy.

1. Bustle – Be My Guest
Lead consumers to website (to purchase)!

Bustle’s Be My Guest IG Takeovers “[take] you inside cool homes so you can gather design and decor inspo for yourself.” Each IG Takeover is linked to an article that Bustle has published on their site, including this one featuring Summer Rayne Oakes’ luscious plant house.

We love this IG Takeover because it serves viewers a digestible version of a larger piece of content while enticing users to move away from Instagram (an outpost) and onto Bustle’s site (their homebase, where content and ad distribution is fully theirs).

2. Belletrist – STACKED (show your shelf)
Individualize offering + nurture customer loyalty. 

Belletrist is, “an online platform that celebrates great books and the people who read them,” hosted by co-founders Emma Roberts (kweeen!) and Karah Preiss.

They promote their newest book of the month by welcoming the author to share their book collection via an IG Takeover. This not only puts a face to a name, but adds a human element back into this remote book club experience (a service that competing book clubs may not offer).

To stay in the loop, users are encouraged to join the Belletrist email list that features more original interviews as well as “promos and recommendations of things we think you will enjoy.”

With brand loyalty obtained through the exchange of free content, users will more readily subscribe and participate in those promotional offers (free author interviews = soft lead magnets).

3. Serenity Kids – Parents Share
Boost credibility (and retention).

Serenity Kids recently welcomed @mamaknows_nutrition onto their Insta Stories – a Toddler Dietitian whose Insta feed mostly consists of educational infographics. Results were twofold – 

1) Brand awareness: lead Kacie’s +104k audience to Serenity Kids baby food.

2) Boost credibility: With her reputation for thoughtful, educational content, Serenity Kids got a big stamp of approval that will live on their Instagram Stories Highlights for any new consumers to view overtime.

4. Birch Benders – Leanne Vogel
Educate audience. Promote unique product.

Birch Benders has quite the varied SKU of nutritionally dense pancake and waffle mixes appealing to diet-specific audiences in particular (paleo, keto, and vegan consumers).

Inviting Leanne of @healthfulpursuit to lead an IG Takeover focused on her positive experience with a ketogenic lifestyle speaks volumes to viewers searching for a healthy diet – specifically those who’ve already tried vegan or paleo diets with so-so results.

In this way, consumers are directed from one of Birch Benders products to another. They’ve covered all their bases and leveraged Leanne’s experience to drive existing purchasers to their keto-specific mix.

As you can see, Instagram Takeovers do everything from emphasizing a brand’s credibility to individualizing one’s services. Like the cherry on top of a sundae, it’s fine if you leave it aside – but, will you really have the best dessert without it?

If you’re ready to boost your overall marketing strategy with an IG Takeover of your own, we just came out with a guide that’ll cover all of your bases (email templates and infographics included for FREE) – check out The Complete Guide to Running Amazing Instagram Story Takeovers: Use Influence to Attract New Customers.

So you wanna engage like a pro? Or, you’re wondering what the value of engaging across social media platforms really looks like. We’ve seen firsthand how it can make waves, so we’re excited to provide you with a breakdown that we personally apply on the daily!

Engaging with users shows people that you’re a real brand: You care about your customers and want their business. You wouldn’t let a customer service email go unanswered – right?! Same thing here – if someone mentions your brand or floats a question, it’s essential that you step in and field those mentions. People you’re engaging with will start to perceive your brand as friendly, reliable, and trustworthy. This translates to an increase in followers, substantial brand loyalty, and lifetime customers.

Plus, it’s a compounding strategy to gain more clients or sales as social channels favor posts that have more likes, comments, and shares – that’s the social media algorithm at work! When you consistently show up, more people end up seeing your brand and how well you interact with others.So, play nice!

Through years of trial and error, we’ve boiled down our tried-and-true strategy to three points that fuel impactful engagement: Listening, Engaging, and Interacting.

1. Listening

There are two core arenas that we recommend you pay special attention to: 1. the web and 2. all social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.).

For the web, here’s how to setup a Google Alert.

How to Set Up Google Alerts
  • Log in. Visit google.com/alerts.
  • Select keywords unique to your brand
  • Select the frequency – real time or when I have time. If you want to receive notifications in close to real time, select “as it happens.”
  • Choose your sources. Google Alerts doesn’t cover social media, but you can choose whether to track news, blogs, videos, or books.

For most brands, Facebook and Instagram are the two giants that you’ve got to have your brand tapped into. Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are a tad more nuanced. If you’ve got extra time, research how similar brands are engaging on those platforms to understand if your brand has a community that it could also support there.

To be a good listener, you have to remain present. This means getting on the choice platforms for your brand Monday through Friday, even popping in over the weekend, to see what your audience is talking about + how they’re engaging with your recent posts. You may choose to set up various notifications via Google, Instagram, and Facebook, so you’ll receive an alert relevant to hashtags, other brand accounts, or influencers that are in line with your brand.

We include a short activity to get you thinking more about who you should be listening to here: “Engaging with Social Content”.

Engaging on Instagram

2. Engaging

Take note of positive and negative comments.

If the comment is positive, find a natural way to respond that feels genuine. Record especially good testimonials to utilize in future marketing materials.

As is the way of the internet, negative commenters are inevitable. You’ll have to decide if the comment is customer service related and needs real attention or just a troll trying to get the best of you – in which case, we’d suggest ignoring it, hiding it, or blocking the user if future harassment seems likely. If it’s a true customer service complaint, take care to reply on the platform the user commented on, letting them know you have DM’d or emailed them so you can move the conversation off your public channel into a private channel.

3. Interacting

Create a few hashtags related to your brand. If you’ve got a long brand name, consider abbreviating it. You could also employ an adjective related to what the brand’s experience is or the mission behind it.

For example, the brand @hailmerrysnacks created their branded hashtag #sinkyourteeth, because it’s more relatable and more likely to be used by fans.

  • Include branded hashtags in every post, encouraging users to tag their own content with said hashtag.
  • Comment and like those using your hashtags – thank them for being a fan!
  • Interact with other hashtags that relate to what your brand does. For a gluten-free snack brand, this could be #healthyeats or #whole30.

Users that click in to your custom hashtag will view a plethora of posts with your product front and center.One of the most challenging aspects of engaging is knowing how much time to pour into the different relationships you’re building. We like to focus on these three core relationships:

  • Influencers – an individual who has the power to impact purchase decisions of others because of their established following. This could be at a micro (less than 5k followers) or macro (more than 5k followers) level.
  • Like-Minded Brands – brands with similar qualities to your own, oftentimes prospecting the same audience. Careful not to interact with a direct competitor (example: you both sell matcha-based energy bars).
  • Potential Customers – your ideal demographic in age and interests.

Start to schedule time in your day for engagement, dividing how you engage based on which relationships matter most to your brand. Experiment with different ratios, like half an hour for influencer + like-minded brand relationship building versus an hour sifting through relevant hashtags. It can get pretty complicated, so we did include a timetable that breaks down how + where to invest your time in our   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers! 

And that’s it! We hope you found this overview helpful to jumpstarting your brand’s ongoing engagement strategy. Get out there and learn how to best engage with your audience one comment at a time.

So you want to learn how to create an Instagram giveaway – and not just any Instagram giveaway, but one that’ll earn you authentic followers truly interested in your brand.

We’ve been there and asked the same questions we’re sure you’ve got, like what kind of Instagram giveaway rules do I set or how do I connect with other brands? In this post, we’re giving you a free taste of all the juicy goodness packed into our agency’s in-house guide:   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers!

1. Pick A Goal

Do you want to grow your follower count, email list, or something else entirely? Free advice: If you’re starting at follower count zero, building out your follower pool is the way to go. Then, you’ll have a greater network to interact with if you’d like to collect emails in the future (product familiarity alone often sways users to forfeit their email in the hopes of a potential discount).

2. Find Brand Partners

If you spend anytime at all on Instagram, you’ve likely got a handful of potential brands you’d love to partner with. Start there and see what happens. There are SO many ways to build out a list of brands – this is just a jumping off point, but we’ve got a few more suggestions within our guide as well.

3. Make Contact

Start with a simple DM. Show a little love for the brand you’d like to team up with and share important details regarding the kind of giveaway you intend on hosting as well as when you plan to launch it. If you’ve hosted a giveaway before, take care to hint at past areas of success.

4. Take Photo + Create Copy

Whether you buy participating brand’s products on your own, have free product shipped over, or design some sort of graphic that represents those brands, now is the time to snap a photo or pop into Photoshop. Situate all the subject matter so it fits inside of a square to look good in the feed, use natural lighting, or invest in some photography lighting to ensure products are adequately lit. Use bright color backdrops when you can to make the image shine!

Then, get to typing up a killer caption. The main thing here is that you state instructions for participants in a very clear manner with a call to action while including a gentle disclaimer that protects the brand you represent from legal allegations.

You can borrow our Instagram Giveaway Legal Disclaimer Template:

We’ll randomly pick a winner next week. Open to US residents only. Must be 18+ with a public profile to win. By entering you acknowledge that this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram and release Instagram of all responsibility. Good luck!

5. Set Dates + Amplify Reach

Nail down a date. We bet you’re wondering: “How long should I run an Instagram giveaway?”

The optimal length of time may vary, but three to five days is pretty standard. We share more info like this in our guide.

After you launch your giveaway, it’s time to promote it accordingly. Share it via Stories – add it to a highlight. Then, budget for the dollar amount you’d like to put behind boosting your post. Note: boosting often makes a HUGE difference! Take care to optimize your post by sending people to “Your Profile” and select Target Audience to “Automatic” – we’ve tested this and got the highest amount of new followers this way!

6. Choose a Winner

Contact the winner(s) and obtain their address, ensuring they receive their prize.

Take time to appreciate your newly acquired followers – follow up with a discount code or email to solidify a connection.

Don’t forget to share the giveaway results with the brands you’ve partnered with! They’ll be eager to learn about the results + you may want to work together again in the future.

As mentioned, we’ve got so much more info to share on planning, launching, and wrapping up a giveaway. We dive into the details – little nuggets of giveaway planning gold – AND think picture by providing you with essential resources: checklist, organizational spreadsheet, and messaging templates.

We’ve spent YEARS and TENS of THOUSANDS of DOLLARS perfecting giveaway strategies. And before you ask, we’ve used these strategies across multiple verticals (from supplements to kimchi) – and it proves effective every time!

We put in the work to save you time and money – purchase our guide to grow your brand today:   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers!

Why You Should Be Using Instagram Story GIFs

It starts with a simple question: “Who the heck decides which GIFs are available for use via Instagram Stories?!”

Instagram story gifs how to use

And then, if you’re anything like us you’re asking yourself, “Okay, now how can I get a GIF on here for my brand and clients??” If you’re not thinking like this yet, you should be: It’s free exposure! When it’s done well, you’ve got hundreds, even thousands of users utilizing your branded GIFs.

A little background – Instagram’s GIF function is powered by Giphy. A huge bank of GIFs & animated stickers. So, they make the rules when it comes to Instagram’s interactive GIFs.

The rules go like this

You’ll need at least five GIFs to get your official Giphy Brand Channel activated. You must have an official Giphy Brand Channel for your GIFs to populate through the Instagram GIF search function.

If you don’t already have someone on your team that’s familiar with GIF creation, we recommend connecting with an experienced freelancer. We’ve had great luck finding freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork.

Giphy Brand Channel activation

giphy brand channel application instagram stickers
  1. Create a new account using a brand-designated email address. Examples: hello@yourbrand.com or social@yourbrand.com


    Your GIPHY username must accurately reflect the name of your business. Get rid of any non-applicable numbers, underscores, or other special characters – anything “off” may fail your application.

    Add a working link to the website field. Social accounts do not qualify – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Your website must be public.

    Add an avatar, preferably your brand’s logo. 250×250 JPG, PNG or GIF files are all supported.

  2. Upload five GIFs minimum.   Take care  to fill out their tags section with   branded key words and common phrases that apply to the product or service you’re spotlighting.

  3. Apply for a brand channel. Here’s the application.

  4. Wait 1-4 days for your application to process. If your application is approved, GIFs will populate on the Instagram GIF search function. If they’re not appearing or your application was denied, connect with Giphy support – they’ll walk you through the necessary steps to get your app approved.

Ideal GIF export settings

Something extra! If you’re making these GIFs on your own in Photoshop, use these settings to export clean transparent images:

  • Colors: 256
  • Dither: 88-100%
  • Diffusion Transparency Dither
  • Adjust as needed to export your GIF – if you’re met with an error message, decrease dither to 88% or and colors to 128.
best gif export settings transparent dither
Check your stats

Observe the impact of your work by  reviewing your Giphy  analytics. In the top right-hand corner, select your username > Dashboard >   Channel Activity. Here, you can review weekly, monthly, and all-time results. This is especially useful to gauge impact on GIFs for special events or timely releases. 
giphy brand channel analytics

IG Story GIFs can be easily overlooked. But, they make an appearance across thousands of Stories every day. It only makes sense to get in on the fun and create a set of five branded GIFs for your own brand + clients.

branded instagram gifs

Looking for more ways to elevate your IG presence? Consider hosting an Instagram Story Takeover. Our education The Complete Guide to Running Amazing Instagram Story Takeovers: Use Influence to Attract New Customers has all the step-by-step instructions you need to kill it.

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