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4 IG Takeovers Your Marketing Team Needs to See Now

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 favorite finds to share with you! Plus, we’ll explain how this marketing approach boosts each brand’s strategy.

Lead consumers to make website purchases.

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.

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.

Serenity Kids 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.

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?

For additional tips, tricks, and inspiration, join our CPG CORE 3 Facebook Group.

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Why You Should Be Using IG Story GIFs

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. 

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

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. 

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

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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. 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.
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.
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.
1. How long has the ad been running:
  • Usually, longevity means it’s a winner.
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?
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?
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)?
5. See who’s being targeted:
  • Click on the CTA button and learn more about who they’re targeting by looking at their UTMs.
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.
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
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
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
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!
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.

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 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.
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. 😉
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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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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