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.

1 thought on “How To Create Content That Captivates Audiences

  1. […] could go on about branded content creation forever – it’s a beast! So, we’ll keep this short. These are the most important […]

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