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How to Use Instagram to Grow Your Business

Use Instagram to grow you business cover photo

INTRODUCTION
It’s about time you learn how to use Instagram to grow your business!

Why’s Instagram (IG) so important? It’s one of our favorite platforms for countless reasons, but just to name a few –

Brand Awareness 
Good IG feeds lead to better brand awareness which translates to more purchases online and in retail stores. People likely won’t seek out your product unless they already know about it – this way, you make the first move.

Word-of-Mouth
Your business should work for you while you sleep (passive growth), but chances are it hasn’t up until this point. As you build your fan base on Instagram, you’ll have others spreading the word about your business for you through IG Stories, IGTV, and main feed posts.

Competitive Edge 
When you show up on Instagram, you connect with different audiences while keeping your existing fans engaged. You immediately have that special edge against other brands in your niche that aren’t nurturing their online presence.

We’ll Break It Down Into Four Small Steps

This step-by-step post is not only easy to follow, but jam-packed with tips we’ve refined over the years. Both seasoned social media gurus and brand-new influencers will have something to gain from this post. Read on for all the juicy Umai growth tips.

SECTION 1: ACCOUNT SETUP

You can’t grow your business using Instagram if you don’t have an account yet! Create an Instagram account on your phone via the Instagram app or a desktop computer – we’ve included instructions for both. Already have an account? Skip ahead to the next step in this section: Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account.
 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Phone App

  1. Download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android).
  2. Once it’s installed, tap the app to open it.
  3. Tap Sign Up With Email or Phone Number (Android) or Create New Account (iPhone), then enter your email address or phone number (which will require a confirmation code) and tap Next. You can also tap Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  4. If you register with your email or phone number, create a username and password, fill out your profile info and then tap Next. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out. 

Create an Instagram Account on Your Computer

  1. Visit instagram.com
  2. Click Sign up, enter your email address, create a username and password or click Log in with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  3. If you register with an email, click Sign up. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

Now, let’s refine your account preferences and user experience by discovering which is the right Instagram account type for you.

Choosing a Personal, Business, or Creator Account

There are three kinds of Instagram accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator. Instagram began with Personal accounts, and it’s what you’ll have set up by default. It leaves much to be desired, so it wasn’t long before creatives + brands desired analytics and deeper insights to measure their performance.

The Business account option – while sufficient – has served as a catch-all for brands, influencers and every kind of artist under the sun. Now there’s a more specific option you can also try out: the Creator account.

The Creator account was added at the end of 2018. It’s a Professional Instagram profile that allows users to access more features to control one’s online presence, understand growth and manage messages. Meaning, you’ll gain access to in-depth performance insights and Direct Messaging organizational tools.

It’s also important to note that we’ve seen no negative impact from Instagram’s algorithm or an account’s reach when switching over to the creator profile –  unlike some who have seen a negative impact from  switching to a business account.

The names for these accounts speak for themselves! Are you using Instagram for personal, business, or creative reasons? Here are some more questions you should ask yourself… 

The Personal account is right for you if –
– You’ll use Instagram to stay in touch with friends, family, or specific communities.
– You’re not going to earn an income from day-to-day activities on IG.
– You get or expect to get some Direct Messages (DMs) but have no need to sort them.

The Business account is right for you if –
– You operate a more traditional business by selling a product or service.
– You get or expect to get a lot of DMs but mostly just the same FAQs.

The Creator account is right for you if –
– You use Instagram to run a business or plan to, but you or your specialty craft is your business. In some cases, your face or influence drives profit.
– You get or expect to get a lot of DMs that vary a ton because you offer multiple services or handle a high volume of unique commissions.

At the moment, there are no special requirements you must meet to switch over to the Instagram Creator account. If you’re a creative on the hunt for 1) insights on your IG growth + performance or 2) managing a ton of varied DMs, then this account type is likely for you!

Also, there’s Creator Shopping! With this feature, you can create shoppable posts to support the brands you love + those you’re partnering with. Users can directly purchase through a link displayed on your photo. Just another way to measure ROI and convey your value as a content creator!

Example of instagram creator profile

Finally, you’ll also gain access to the Instagram Creator Studio, “an easy-to-use dashboard management tool that allows you to see all your Facebook and Instagram analytics (that you’d otherwise access in the app) – on your desktop,” (Keyhole).

How to Switch to a Creator Instagram Account

Here’s your step-by-step instructions –

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Creator.
    – If you currently have a Business profile, choose Switch to Creator Account.
  4.  Choose a category that best describes what you do – so many options!
  5. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  6. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.
  7. Choose your profile display options. You can decide whether to hide or display your category and contact details on your profile.

Note: “If your personal account is private, completing these steps will make it public. All pending follow requests will be automatically accepted when you go public,” (Instagram).

How to Switch to a Business Instagram Account

  1. Go to your account and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
    – If you currently have a personal account, choose Switch to Professional Account and tap Business.
    – If you currently have a Creator profile, choose Switch to Business Account.
  4. Option to connect to your Facebook Page
    – If you have a Facebook Page you would like to link to your account, select it from the list that appears.
    – You’re also able to skip this step.
  5. Review contact information. At least one contact is needed to proceed. You will have the option to display or hide this on your profile.

Of course, you may change your mind once you make the switch so here’s…

How to Switch Back to a Personal Instagram Account 

  1. Go to your profile and tap the menu icon in the top right-hand corner. 
  2. Select Settings by tapping the gear icon.
  3. Select Account.
  4. Select Switch to Personal Account and tap Switch Back to confirm.

All in all, it’s exciting to have more options on this oftentimes influencer-driven platform! Now, it’s time to discuss the content you’ll be thinking up, creating, and sharing on Instagram to grow your business.

 

SECTION 2: CONTENT CREATION

We could go on about branded content creation forever – it’s a beast! So, we’ll keep this short. These are the most important strategies to keep in mind while creating content. 

Create Messaging Buckets

Maybe you haven’t heard of messaging buckets before! They’re basically different categories you can sort future content into, ensuring you touch on all aspects of your business or brand.

As a jumping off point, we recommend the following buckets –

Example of social media messaging buckets

From there, you can create subcategories that fit inside each bucket. Here’s what that would look like for a brand like Purely Pecans, a clean label pecan butter company + what kind of visuals they might use –

Product (or Client) Highlights

  • A photo of a jar of their Pecan Butter

Recipes (DIYs + Tutorials)

  • This one’s self explanatory! Take a product and incorporate it into a recipe or DIY
  • Let’s say you’re offering a service – you’re a realtor. In this case, you’d record a video or snap a series of photos related to home financing or shopping

Education

  • Share the why behind your product or service
  • Spotlight an ingredient or your products nutritional benefits

Community

  • An ingredient photo of salt and sugar that asks users to answer the question: “Are you feeling sweet or salty today?”
  • A caption with a call-to-action in the caption: “Drop an emoji in the comments that perfectly summarizes your weekend plans!”
  • A photo from your day volunteering at your local food bank

Fun, Quotes, and Events

  • A shareable meme video that’ll make your audience laugh
  • You may use your caption to tie this content back to your product or service – or, leave it open-ended to let the moment just be

Assign the buckets different colors and use a highlighter tool to mark them on your calendar along with a short description of the content. Example –

Example of social media content calendar

Write Varied Captions

Once you’ve got a visual picked out, it’s time to write a caption.

Consider what you’ve seen other brands in your space doing. In most cases, a blend of short and long captions is a win.

Sometimes you need the space to really get in-depth, especially in an educational or recipe post. Other times, you can let the graphic mostly speak for itself – the caption could be as short as a single emoji that plays up the theme.

Captioning a photo is an artform, and you’ll learn what works best for your audience from trial and error. It’s also a medium to speak to your audience on a deeper level, beyond a simple graphic. Your visual drew them in – now, what do you really have to say?

Do note that you can preface a long caption with a couple of words that summarize what you’re about to jump into, enticing users to hit “read more” to see your full caption.

Choose Legit Hashtags

There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it! You should be using hashtags.

Why? Some users follow hashtags, so your content will find its way to their feeds automatically and it’s a great way to aggregate your content.

Also, it’s an easy way to be discovered. It connects your content with new or existing communities that people tap into on a daily basis.

Hashtags are also important as a tool for you to use when engaging with others. We’ll touch on this more in Section 3: Daily Strategy.

You can use up to 30 hashtags on Instagram. We’ll use anywhere from 10-25 for our clients. This is because quality outranks quantity once again. Find hashtags that an everyday person uses – not a bunch of bots!

Start with a key hashtag. For a brand like NutriSuits (a prebiotic-probiotic supplement), that could be #guthealth. Paste your key hashtag into Instagram’s search bar. The results not only show you posts, but related hashtags as well.

Browse through the recent tab to get a sense of how often people are posting, what they’re posting about, and if it’s a match for your brand (keeping your ideal consumer in mind).

Using Instagram Line Breaks

When you start to look out for them, you’ll see Instagram line breaks everywhere! And, you’ve probably noticed you can’t just hit enter to make one in your own caption.

how to add spacing to IG captions
@Milkimchi uses spacing to isolate giveaway instructions, highlighting how simple it is to participate.

When it comes time to write out some longer captions, we recommend using line breaks to increase readability! But, you can’t just hit enter on your phone while creating a post through the Instagram app – this function isn’t currently supported.

That’s why a number of workarounds have been thought up. You’ll see influencers, brands, and even your average Joe using hashtags, periods, characters, or emojis to create line breaks.

how to add spacing to Instagram bio
Really yummy IG account here: @thedefineddish! It’s your call as to whether or not you use a character or blank space as your line break. Always better to have the choice by learning this Instagram formatting hack.

This works for the most part, but doesn’t always translate the same on desktop. Plus, you may not want an added element distracting from your post – why use an emoji when you could instead have a clean distinction between paragraphs?

How to add spacing to your Instagram captions or bio

You simply need the right number of spaces to achieve a clean line break. And, here they are –

[                                                              ]

While you could copy-paste the space within these brackets wherever you’d like a line break, there’s something even easier you can do!

Create a shortcut on your phone that includes this spacing. Here’s how…

For iPhone –

  • Tap Settings, General, Keyboard, Text Replacement, then tap the “+” button in the top-right corner of the screen.
  • In the blank next to “Phrase,” type in [                                                              ]. Then, in the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Tap the “Save” button.

For Android –

  • Tap Settings, Language & Input, “Personal dictionary,” then pick a language or choose the “For all languages” option. (Note: the exact settings may differ depending on the make and model of your Android phone.)
  • Tap the “+” sign in the top-right corner of the screen, then enter [                                                              ].
  • In the Shortcut section, name it Linebreak.
  • Tap the Back key, and you’ll see an entry for the shortcut you just added.

Now, you’ll just have to type in Linebreak and the optional shortcut will pop up. Just delete the brackets afterward.

Important: Take out any extra spacing between the last word or punctuation before adding your line break! Also, try drafting captions on your phone’s notes app to see your lengthy caption as a whole + double-check for spacing errors.

instagram line break shortcut [⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀]

So easy, yet a heavily neglected Instagram formatting tip!

Now that your content is ready to go, there’s the matter of engaging with users who interact with your posts. And, connecting with users in the comment sections of their own content to wrangle them over to your page.

 

SECTION 3: DAILY STRATEGY

You may be wondering what the value of engaging on Instagram 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 tags your brand or floats a question via DM, 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, saves, 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 Instagram engagement: Listening, Engaging, and Interacting.

Listening

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

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 deleting 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 them so you can move the conversation off your public channel into a private channel.

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 created this timetable that breaks down how + where to invest your time.

Once you’ve got this daily strategy down, there are a couple special monthly events you can use to increase your following + engagement on a grander scale. Namely, giveaways.
 

SECTION 4: GIVEAWAYS

 Content creation and daily engagement will ensure you use Instagram to grow your business properly. But, we truly can’t recommend this final step enough: host an Instagram giveaway! 

Surely, you’ve seen Instagram giveaways on your feed. Aside from a product or influencer shot, they include a call to action in the caption that ultimately forwards a brand or influencer’s growth –

  • “Follow our page, like this photo, and tag as many friends as you’d like in the comments! One comment = one entry!”
  • “Like this photo and follow the link in our bio to sign up for our newsletter!”

We’ve earned hundreds, even thousands of followers and email subscribers for brands by implementing monthly giveaways.

They’re no small feat to host. You’ll have to coordinate brands, manage influencers, snap product shots – it’s a lot. And that’s why we not only have this post for you to follow along with. We made an entire guide to ensure you succeed:   Create a Winning Instagram Giveaway: And Get Tons of High Quality Followers!

So, what kind of Instagram giveaway rules should you set? How do you connect with other brands? Let’s dive right into it with these six easy steps.

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.

CONCLUSION
And that’s it – our four-section guide to ensure you use Instagram to grow your business starting today!

Maybe you’re jumping in from the beginning and setting up your first-ever Instagram account. Or, revamping your long-standing strategical process. In both cases and anything in between, these tips will come in handy as you refine your online presence to develop brand loyalty and earn lifelong sales.

Running a giveaway is one of the most effective ways to quickly grow your following. That’s why we put together this guide, where we dive into the details – little nuggets of giveaway planning gold – AND provide you with our EXACT system and essential resources: checklist, organizational spreadsheet, and messaging templates.

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

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

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4 IG Takeovers Your Marketing Team Needs to See Now

4 Instagram Takeovers Your Marketing Team Needs to See Now Blog Cover Photo

All About Instagram Takeovers

One of our favorite ways to form consumer-brand connections as of late is with a well-planned Instagram Takeover. Inviting a guest to takeover a brand’s IG Stories helps viewers put a face to the brand. As a result, it expands their reach rapidly. 

It can happen between any two users. This can range from founders of a company sharing their daily routine to an influencer endorsing a brand. This may also include a customer sharing their product experience. 

Now, we’ve compiled a few of our recent finds to share with you! Plus, we’ll explain how this marketing approach boosts each brand’s strategy.

Lead consumers to make website purchases.

Mobile screenshots of IG Story by Bustle featuring Summer Rayne Oakes

Bustle’s Be My Guest takes “you inside cool homes so you can gather design and decor inspo for yourself.” Each Instagram Takeover is linked to an article that Bustle has published on their site. For instance, this article featured Summer Rayne Oakes’ luscious plant house.

Most importantly, we love this Instagram Takeover because it shows viewers a slice of a larger piece of content. This attracts users to move away from Instagram and onto Bustle’s site. Therefore, it moves users from the outpost to their home base, where content and ad distribution is fully theirs. 

Individualize offering. Nurture customer loyalty.

Mobile screenshots of Instagram Takeover by Belletrist featuring Lauren Shippen

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

They promote their newest book of the month by welcoming the author via an Instagram Takeover. Then, the author shares their book collection to the viewers. This puts a face to a name. In other words, it adds a human element back into this remote book club experience. It acts as a service that competing book clubs may not offer. 

In addition, users are encouraged to join the Belletrist email list. It features exclusive interviews and “promos and recommendations of things we think you will enjoy.”

Certainly, brand loyalty is obtained through free content. Users will more readily subscribe and participate in those promotional offers. That is to say, free author interviews equals soft leads. 

Boost credibility and retention.

Mobile screenshots of IG Story with Serenity Kids featuring Kacie Barnes

Serenity Kids recently featured @mamaknows_nutrition. She is a toddler dietitian with a platform for educational infographics. After the takeover, results were twofold! 

Firstly, brand awareness increased. It led Kacie’s audience of 104k followers to Serenity Kids Baby Food.

Secondly, the takeover boosted credibility. With her reputation for thoughtful and educational content, Serenity Kids got a big stamp of approval. Most importantly, this will live on their IG Stories Highlights for any new consumers to view over time.

Educate audience. Promote unique product.

Mobile screenshots of IG Story with Birch Benders featuring Leanne Vogel

Birch Benders has quite the varied SKU of nutrition-packed pancake and waffle mixes. They appeal to diet-specific audiences in particular, like paleo, keto, and vegan consumers. 

Leanne of @leannevogel led a takeover focused on her positive experience with a ketogenic lifestyle. It spoke volumes to viewers searching for a healthy diet. For instance, it was helpful to those who have already tried vegan or paleo diets with mediocre results.

In this way, consumers are directed from one of Birch Benders products to another. Certainly, they covered all of their bases. As a result of leveraging Leanne’s experience, they could drive existing purchasers to their keto-specific mix.

To sum it up, an Instagram Takeover does everything from increasing a brand’s credibility to personalizing 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?

Similarly, if you’re ready to boost your overall marketing strategy, we just came out with a guide that’ll cover all of your bases. We included email templates and infographics  for FREE! Check out The Complete Guide to Running Amazing Instagram Story Takeovers: Use Influence to Attract New Customers.

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Why You Should Be Using IG Story GIFs

How to use Instagram GIF on Story

Using the Instagram GIF Feature

“Who the heck decides which Instagram GIF is available for use via Stories?!” It all starts with this very simple question. 

Instagram story gif examples

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 since it’s free exposure! After it has been 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

As a rule, you’ll need at least five GIFs to get your official Giphy Brand Channel activated. That is to say, you must have an official Giphy Brand Channel for your GIFs to populate through the Instagram GIF search function.

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

Giphy Brand Channel activation

Firstly, you’ll need to activate a Giphy Brand Channel. 

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. In other words, anything “off” may fail your application. 

Add a working link to the website field. Although, social accounts do not qualify. For example, 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. In this step, 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. However, if they’re not appearing or your application was denied, connect with Giphy support. In this case, they’ll walk you through the necessary steps to get your app approved.

Ideal Instagram GIF export settings

best gif export settings transparent dither

Secondly, adjust your export settings! 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% and colors to 128.

Check your Instagram GIF stats

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

In short, IG Story GIFs can be easily overlooked. But, they make an appearance across thousands of Stories every day. So, 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

Also, are you looking for additional ways to elevate your Instagram presence? Consider hosting an Instagram Story Takeover. Our education has all the step-by-step instructions you need to kill it! Check it out here: The Complete Guide to Running Amazing Instagram Story Takeovers: Use Influence to Attract New Customers

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How to Advertise on Facebook & Instagram

5 tips for creating profitable ads

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. Interaction and movement

This could be in the form of a Facebook carousel, poll, or augmented reality ad. Or, you may  create movement with slideshows and video creatives. 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).
 
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.

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.
 

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.

As advertisers, we’re always looking for new ways to delight and “WOW” our audiences. The best way to do that? Through ad creatives!

Creating interesting, educational and eye-catching ads is one thing, but adding an interactive element will take your ads to the next level.

In this post, we’re talking polls. If you haven’t heard of or seen Facebook’s poll feature, here’s what it looks like:

Emmy’s Organics is using a Facebook poll to ask their audience which flavor they’d choose!

Facebook implemented the ability to add polls to video ads at the end of 2019.

It’s so important to connect and engage with your audience, and polls are helping you do just that.

Facebook ran a study testing their new poll feature for video ads, with pretty great results… They said, “For example, in 5 out of 9 brand lift studies, we observed poll ads increased brand awareness compared to video ads.”

We ran an experiment of our own testing a poll video ad versus a regular video. In the last two weeks, our poll video converted completely cold audiences at a ROAS of 6.30 – outperforming the other non-poll video ad.

That’s huge! Video ads have always been queen. 👑 So now just think what you can do with video plus a poll! 👑👑👑

The poll possibilities are endless. Try using polls to:

  • Ask the audience which variation or different flavor of a product they would like best!
  • Learn more about your audience by asking them a question about themselves or their interests
  • Ask if your audience liked the information you provided in the video or if it was helpful!
  • Discover your customers’ biggest pain point by asking them questions
  • Find out which new flavor or variation to launch by getting your audience to choose in the poll

Enough chatter, let’s walk through how to launch your first poll ad:

  1.  Hop inside your Facebook Ads Manager and create a new campaign
  2.  Poll Ads are only supported with the following objectives, so be to sure to choose: Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, App Installs or Conversions in your ad set
  3.  After you’ve uploaded your Video click “Add Poll”

          4.  Enter your Poll Question and your 2 Choices 

           5.  Pro-tip: add specific URLs for each choice that the user can visit after they’ve made their                                   selection!

P.S. Facebook only shows your polls on your video ads in the Facebook mobile feed, but will play your video without the poll in other placements.

You’ll quickly start to collect valuable poll data, here’s how to view your poll results:

  1.  Go to your Facebook Ads Manager
  2.  Select your ad with the poll on it
  3.  Click on “See Charts”
  4.  Scroll to the bottom of the page to see Interactivity Results

We’re curious: Are you testing video poll ads? Let us know how they’re working for you!

If the process seems a bit much, we’re here to help! If you’d like us to run profitable campaigns for you, learn more by scheduling a free strategy call with our team.

During a livestream on May 19, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s newest feature: Facebook Shops. A free way for businesses to set up product listings on their Facebook Page, Instagram profile, Stories, or in ads.

This really could not have come at a better time as small businesses continue to struggle in light of COVID-19 closures, stay-at-home orders, and sustained social distancing. A new way for these businesses to market their goods and services online could quite frankly change the game.

What Will Facebook Shops Look Like?

There will be a dedicated section for your shop on Facebook where you can catalog inventory. Similar to Facebook Groups, you’ll be able to add a cover image and accent colors for that extra branded touch. Users will have the option to purchase, save, or share items. Or, select inventory may be attached to ads, posts, Instagram Live, and Instagram Stories to divert users to your shop.

Zuckerberg reassured audiences that this tool will be an easy one to use: “It’s one simple and consistent experience across [our] family of apps.” Basically, a lifeline for brands that are masters at their craft but aren’t so tech savvy – if you’re already familiar with Facebook, using this tool may come naturally.

They’re Still Refining Checkout

Though, you won’t be able to complete the entire transaction on Facebook just yet. Users will be prompted to go to a business’s website to complete purchases. 

Facebook has launched an invitation-only beta program for Checkout that is currently being tested. This would make it possible to complete a transaction from start to finish on Facebook. But, they do plan to charge a selling fee and haven’t yet disclosed how much cash this will tack on to each purchase.

This means third-party partnerships are still entirely necessary. Facebook is currently working alongside Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube, and Feedonomics. Businesses may use these platforms to manage their Facebook Shop as well as their Facebook Shop ads.

Shopify paints a clearer picture of how all this will work: “Facebook Shops allows Shopify merchants to get control over customization and merchandising for their storefronts inside Facebook and Instagram, while managing their products, inventory, orders, and fulfillment directly from within Shopify.”

We still recommend you diversify by selling your goods or services on other competitive platforms, like Amazon or your own website. Basically, be everywhere if you can. 

Try Before You Buy With Augmented Reality

Another Facebook feature rolled out recently: Augmented Reality (AR). Yep – the future is basically here folks, and it means you can actually see if that blush and your skin tone are a match made with the help of Facebook AR.

Not sure which shade best complements your eyes? You can now use Facebook’s new augmented reality feature in Facebook Shops or ask for help through a customer service inquiry within Facebook Shops – you’ll be able to message businesses through various channels, like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct.

Final Thoughts

As usual, this will not only be a benefit to small businesses – it’ll be a huge moneymaker for Facebook as an increase in ad spend is likely to follow. 

Facebook does plan to charge a small fee on each purchase made through Shops, but no specific details regarding this rate have been released.

There’s also talk of eventual loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases. Such programs could increase customer advocacy and lead to greater brand awareness, so fingers crossed.

We’re excited for Facebook to step it up with these new e-commerce features, connecting more users with small businesses. Though, we’re unsure how many people will actually want to complete purchases directly on Facebook. We’ll be following along closely and monitoring analytics during this beta phase to see what’s best for our clients’ sales in the future with or without this tool.

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How To Create Content That Captivates Audiences

Create Captivating Content.

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

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.

Successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday marketing ideas

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.

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. 

How to establish a branded Instagram feed

When Instagram launched, it was just another social network for photo editing and sharing (where are our Valencia lovers at?!). But due to its visual nature and inventive audiences from across the globe, it has exploded in growth since inception (the acquisition by Facebook helped with that, too). 

Some influencers and brands have created main feeds like a work of art – colors, subject matter, and cadence 100% on point. Though, others just snap a photo and hit publish without much scrutiny.

One method isn’t more “right” than the other, but when carving out a client’s online presence, there is a happy medium to be found. Not every photo needs to be spot-treated to perfection. In fact, we’ve seen amazing engagement on lower res photos for their air of authenticity.

Why use Instagram for marketing? A lot of good can be said about memorable branding – it helps to grow an audience base, it’s appealing to look at, and ensures better brand recognition. 

That’s why we’re sharing this quick guide to posting on Instagram in a way that’ll make your feed more branded. 

Limit colors + fonts

You may be thinking, “Does this tip apply to me? I don’t put text on photos on my IG.” Yes! Some users choose not to incorporate text in their main feed, instead they prefer to share additional information in their captions, Instagram Stories, or a link in bio. Let’s get into that.

When it comes to IG Stories, don’t use every font in your wheelhouse (there aren’t many, but still) when publishing IG Stories. It can distract from your overall messaging to have too many things going on at once.

Instead, use only 1-2 fonts – a primary font that’s easy to read and a secondary font for flourish. Or, just two primary fonts for clear readability.

Here are some suggested pairings:

We consider STRONG, CLASSIC, and MODERN to be primary fonts as they’re super readable typefaces. Secondary fonts would include TYPEWRITER and NEON – they can be harder to read, but fun to use as an accent.

There are plenty of apps out there for designing custom Instagram Stories with even more fonts + templates. If you’d prefer to use one of those, go for it – the same idea applies. Find a couple of typefaces and templates that work for you and be consistent in how you use them.

Layer on this idea when it comes to your main feed. If you’re starting from scratch, you may be wondering how to build a brand on Instagram. When you represent a product or service with existing branding applied to packaging or a website, you can leverage those typefaces and brand colors across graphics on your main feed for brand cohesion.

Social graphics for @cruxtablets are heavily inspired by product packaging – notice the same typeface and colors!

Create a series of branded graphics

A single branded graphic here and there is just fine. But, you could also create a series of branded graphics to pepper across your page – this gives your audience something to expect and even look forward to.

For @myserenitykids, this takes shape in the form of quote posts and #SKparentinghacks.

Both employ the same font – Veneer – and complement each other nicely on the main feed.

A fan of these series can easily locate them on the feed, checking back regularly for new facts or quotes.

Pick 1-2 filters for photos

So, how do you maintain a similar look and feel between photographs? There are a couple ways, but our favorite and one of the most commonly used options is applying a filter (we use VSCO).

VSCO is a photo editing app with hundreds of filters. There’s something for everyone – warm and cool tones, black and white, and retro effects.

But don’t go applying starkly different filters to your photos and posting the results all on the same feed. Instead, pick one or two filters from the same family that fit your brand. 

To achieve your desired look, choose 3-4 photos and apply the same VSCO filter across all of them. Repeat the process with as many different filters as you’d like. Now, you may want to phone a friend for a second opinion or work on something else for awhile – this way you’ll return to the photos with a fresh perspective. Once you’re happy with 1-2 filters, you’re all set!

Here’s some more reasoning behind the filter-picking process: CANTEEN Spirits uses L4, L5, and L9 – a vibrant filter with semi-sepia hues that complement nature shots and give their canned product an almost vintage feel.

Like we said in the beginning – work toward a happy medium. Give yourself or your clients some wiggle room while developing a curated Instagram feed. If something doesn’t work later on, you can always archive it.

Have fun with it and be willing to pivot as Instagram marketing, you, or the brands you represent evolve over time. Join us on IG @umaimarketing for more quick editing tips for fostering brand awareness.

How to use social media during a pandemic

Times are strange, but the world keeps on turning. That’s why it’s important to pivot, no matter who you are – influencer, brand, or agency. Knowing this, we joined @naturally_austin’s  Virtual Town Hall on April 8 to share what strategies we’ve learned + implemented so far.

We’d never keep that valuable knowledge from you! Instead, we’ve compiled our favorite clips + a transcript of our answers to ensure you and your team can execute a stronger, more respectful social media strategy.

Q: “What’re your dos and don’ts for organic content right now?”
A: We’re figuring out ways to be flexible and suggesting our clients do the same.

“That’s a question on everybody’s mind right now! We’re just trying to find ways to be flexible. That’s my biggest piece of advice for clients. Yes, we have content scheduled out two weeks, sometimes a month out in advance, but it might not work anymore. Be flexible and more willing to tweak content. Invest your time and energy into content creation now, and in the long run you won’t sound tone deaf - you’ll sound one with your community. Again, do what you can by checking scheduled posts and planning things out differently.

And you know, we’re at home. We’re all in this together, in so many ways. Especially if you’re a food brand, cook with us! Show us your recipes. Get on Instagram Stories. Align with your community in ways you may have not been able to do previously. As much as you can. I know a lot of CEOs and Founders don’t like to put their faces on camera - talk to your employees about it and do some recipe videos together. Or, share hacks on how to stay sane at home! Build community in that way while staying true to your audience. Don’t be pushy on the sales front.

Entertain! Post memes or happy content to IG Stories. We have a client right now that we’re doing a campaign with called RAISE YOUR SPIRITS! It’s a vodka soda beverage, so it’s on brand. It’s generating about twice the amount of taps forward (people are moving through the IG Stories rather than exiting) likely because people want an escape.

Follow @canteenspirits for more positive Stories.

There’s a benefit to maintaining normalcy rather than shutting everything off. Some brands are scared to do giveaways since it may seem insensitive. I think it’s great! It gives that sense of normalcy and excitement - it’s awesome giving your followers a chance to win something, even now.”

Q: “What’s working on Instagram Stories versus one’s full Instagram feed?”
A: On the feed, it’s education on wellness + lifestyle benefits of your product; staying authentic, sometimes with long-form videos on IGTV; and recipes or health-minded how-to graphics. For IG Stories, it’s raw video footage of your team at home or using your product.

“On the full Instagram feed (meaning static posts), we’re seeing brands being true to their product by educating on the nutritional and health-related benefits. People are being a little bit more honest. You know, really raw and that’s what’s doing well. Long-form videos for IGTV are getting lots of engagement. Everyone’s on their phone right now, wanting something to entertain them.

And, recipe videos are murdering it! Any time you can go online and tell people how to cook something or - even if you don’t have a food-based product - you can still talk about the things you’re doing at home to stay well.

For IG Stories, we’re seeing a lot of raw behind-the-scenes footage of people at home dealing with this - what they’re eating, or where they’re working. My dog is literally whining in the background, so you know! That kind of honesty will go a long way with your community since it makes them feel like we’re all in this together.”

Q: “Do you feel like we’ve taken a step back from polished looking content to move toward a more authentic posting style?”
A: Yes! We’re connecting on a way more human level.

“100% - you’re still going to see a lot of polished content anyway, especially since the content has already been created - the photoshoots have been done. But, sprinkling in a more human aspect is going to make social media stronger for all of us after this is over.”

Q: “What about influencer relationships right now?”
A: Yes, we’re still doing them! Word-of-mouth recommendations are SO strong and encourage participation with new audiences. 

“Yes, we're still doing them! We all know word-of-mouth recommendations serve as one of the strongest marketing techniques that any of us can monetize from. So that’s something we’d definitely recommend.

If you are doing a collaboration with one other brand, reach out to four or five influencers in your space that may be interested in participating with you as well. Also consider extending the length of your campaign to try and reach as many people as possible.

Influencer marketing is so powerful. If you get people to encourage participation in any campaign you’re running, it’ll definitely be a benefit for your brand - sometimes more so than wrangling another brand in.”

Q: “What’re you recommending for ads?”
A: It’s up to your discretion. If you keep ads up, double check copy + imagery and pivot as needed, especially with copy. Make discount codes more relevant, example:  INTHISTOGETHER. We’ve included some more examples of when brands pivoted well or failed to pivot at all.

“No one wants to capitalize on this pandemic, so I think the biggest question from our clients and the CPG world right now is, 'How do we continue to grow our business while remaining privy to this sensitive situation?' There are definitely a few strategies. Some 25% of accounts have pulled their Facebook and Instagram ads. But since more people than ever are connecting on social media, it’s a really great time to show your audience that you’re there for them while staying relevant.

Take a look at your campaigns and ensure there’s nothing insensitive in your visual creative or copy. For example, say you’re running a site-wide promo with copy like this - “Get 25% off our site!” Change the copy to something more relevant, like this - “We’re here for you! Use the code INTHISTOGETHER for 25% off.” Those small changes can really show your audience that you’re thinking of them.”

Here are some more examples we pulled. We chose these specifically because a lot of them don’t necessarily require a new photoshoot or creative deep dive – just a change in copy. 

  1. If you’re in the hand sanitizer business, congratulations! This is your time to shine. This brand paired their product photo with simple, strong copy to push people to their ecommerce site.

  2. This one’s straight to the point – anyone could’ve made this creative. It’s eye catching. They’re using the code STAYHOME, so it’s relevant. And, spotlighting delivery.

  3. We love this interactive creative! It’s a carousel that features a long dachshund with this caption: “How quarantine is starting to feel.” Pretty relatable.

  4. Some larger brands with recognizable imagery are practicing social distancing in their logos. It’s a gentle way to show that your brand is aware of what’s going on.

  5. Finally, another simple service shot with an edit to copy – “We’re in this together.”

Here are some examples of when brands should’ve pivoted –

  1. This campaign asks you to gather your squad – something you definitely should not be doing right now.

  2. The copy, “COMING ASHORE SOON,” is a little daunting. We would’ve loved to see something like “BRINGING THE BEACH TO YOU” or “BRING THE VACATION TO YOUR HOME.”

“Finally, if you’re seeing a downturn in your campaigns, consider reducing them to $1/day, pausing them, or reducing spend during this time. We highly recommend keeping your catalog or other retargeting campaigns on at this time, just with lower budgets if needed.”

Important ecommerce policies to keep in mind:

  • DO NOT price gouge – you will get banned
  • Do not use terms like “Pandemic”, “Lockdown”, “Quarantine” even “Coronavirus” in your ad copy – you MAY get banned

Q: “Do you see a change in ads and paid plans for Instagram versus Facebook as of now?”
A: Mobile feeds for Facebook perform just as well as Instagram, as long as the ad creative is thoughtful. Now is a great time to reach people – everyone’s online right now. We’re seeing cheaper objectives + higher clickthrough rates across the board.

In summary, pivot so your organic social is personal and your advertising strategy speaks to the very real situation at hand in a positive manner. Use this time to educate and support your audiences rather than shutting off, risking a loss in brand awareness. For additional tips and future webinars, follow along @umaimarketing.

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