Tagged: Social Media

How to Maximize ROI on Every Social Media Platform

- by Alyson Shane

By now most businesses realize the importance of having and maintaining social media accounts. With close to 3.5 billion people using social media each month, it’s a way to connect with your customers, boost sales, and increase brand awareness. 

If you own or manage a business, posting tweets and engaging with followers on multiple platforms likely isn’t at the top of your to-do list. It’s also not something you can pass off to just anyone. 

The person crafting your messages sets the tone of your brand, curates content that will resonate with your followers, and works on a strategy to yield a positive ROI. 


It’s not just playing on social media all day. Crafting your content takes time.

Here are some of the factors you need to consider for each platform and how much time they take.

Facebook

Post image size: 1200 x 630 (ads, cover images, profile pictures, link images, event images are all different sizes).

Character count: The max character count is 63,206, but generally, you shouldn’t be maxing that out. Keep your CTAs strong and put your important information first. The ideal length is 40-80 characters.

Hashtags: Use rarely on Facebook.

Strategic scheduling: Posts published between 1-4 pm have the best click-through and share rates on Facebook. This can vary, so make sure you measure the performance of your posts from Facebook Insights and schedule accordingly.

Tagging: With 1.69 billion Facebook users, it’s important to tag the correct people and companies.

Copywriting: Who are you speaking to? Do you have a strong CTA? Is there a link you can share in this post? Is your target market interested in this post? Is this shareable content? What’s in it for the reader to share this? Is this content timely?

Hashtags research: N/A

Image sourcing: Make sure the image you select reflects the content you are sharing. It’s important to have permission to share the images you select, especially if you plan on branding them. Pexels, Unsplash, Canva, Pixabay, and others offer a selection of free images, but make sure they are free for commercial use before you share them.

Graphic creation: Use a tool like Canva or InDesign to add your logo, copy, and other graphic elements that draw attention to your viewer.

Pin the post: You want your most relevant marketing campaigns to stay at the top of your feed. Your pinned post will likely be one of the first things people see while visiting your Facebook page, so make sure it’s timely!

Other factors: Facebook generally suppresses business posts, so the best way to get your content seen is to have your followers share it on their pages.

Total time: ~ 45 minutes


Instagram

Post image size: Landscape 1080x608 px, square 1080x1080px or portrait 1080x1350 px. (Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and IGTV are different sizes)

Character count: Max 2,2 00 characters. 138-150 characters is ideal for maximum engagement.

Hashtags: Max 30. The ideal number is 5-10. Too many hashtags can get your account shadow banned.

Strategic scheduling: The general best time to post is between 9 am-11 am, but the best time to post is based on your unique audience. An app like Buffer automatically calculates your best times to post.

Tagging: People and businesses are always looking for content to share. Do you have a pen from a local art store in your photo? What about flowers from your favourite florist? Tag whoever you mention in your post to maximize your chances of being shared on their pages.

Copywriting: It’s a good idea to write both short and long posts. If you are writing a long caption, write a short, engaging summary of what you are posting about first, so your audience doesn’t miss your key message. Make sure your post has value. Is your audience learning something? Will it make them emotional? What’s in it for them when they read this post?

Hashtags research: Did you know that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement than posts without a hashtag? Hashtags work to organize your content and make it easier for people to find. There are community hashtags, branded hashtags, and campaign hashtags. Use these to find your niche audience, collect UGC, or promote your campaign. Look for tags that your audience, industry leaders and competitors are already using.

Image sourcing: Since Instagram is a visual platform, the photos you post are very important. Not only do you need to worry about each image, but you should also consider how your profile looks as a whole. 

Do you have a colour scheme? What filters are you using? 

Free image sourcing is a great option, but if you want to make sure your brand isn’t being confused for other brands or you want specific quality, try buying images from Stocksy, Twenty20, or Social Squares. They provide quality content, and it still saves your business from costly photoshoots and time spent taking and editing photos.

Graphic creation: Since people are mainly using Instagram on their mobile devices, it’s important to use an image that will quickly draw attention and get your point across. Instagram is not the place for complicated infographics and small text.

Add to highlights: It’s a great idea to share your new posts to your Instagram story and increase the chances of your content being seen. If your post is important enough to keep at the top of your page, add it to your highlights so your viewers can easily find it!

Other factors: Instagram is one of the only platforms that doesn’t allow you to link to a webpage in your caption. Asking people to go to your link in bio and leave the app gives them more steps than people are generally willing to do. Make sure you have all of your important information on Instagram, and if needed, direct them to your link in bio for more information, but you better make sure it’s updated!

Total time: ~ 50 minutes


Twitter

Image size: Min. 440 x 220 px

Character count: Max 280 characters.

Hashtags: Twitter recommends using no more than two hashtags per tweet for best practice.

Strategic scheduling: The best times to post for B2B are 7 am-8 am, 11 am, 6 pm, and 9 pm. Schedule around peak times, but make sure they are the best for your business. Find an app like Later that will analyze optimal times to post content.

Tagging: Giving an @ mention informs people or businesses you posted about them. Everyone loves to share positive content about themselves or their business. One RT can lead to many more!

Copywriting: Be concise! The ideal Twitter caption is 71-100 characters. Since Twitter moves fast, you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention.

Hashtags research: Give people a reason to use your hashtag. Are you running a contest? Can they participate in a larger conversation this way? Or use your hashtags to get your content discovered. Just use them sparingly!

Image sourcing: Twitter data says people are three times more likely to engage with Tweets that include visual content. Include video, images, and GIFs to your tweets.

Graphic creation: Make your visuals eye-catching, appealing, and informative while using your brand tone and voice. Use your logo to build brand recognition. Try using GIFs to add some humour to your posts.

Pin the post: If your pinned tweet is out of date it looks like you aren’t active on Twitter, or you don’t pay attention to detail. Update your pinned tweet as necessary.

Other factors: Twitter is big for sharing content. Look for opportunities to share content from your audience, affiliates, and industry leaders.

Total time: ~30 minutes


LinkedIn

Image size: 1104 x 736 px

Character count: 700 characters (business accounts) 1300 (individual accounts)

Hashtags: LinkedIn recommends 3-5 hashtags per post.

Strategic scheduling: Working professionals and college grads make up the majority of LinkedIn users. The most successful posts on LinkedIn are posted between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday.

Tagging: LinkedIn is all about making connections and showcasing your abilities. If you can tag people in your posts, do it! Often they will want to share their involvement with your company on their own pages to show off to their network.

Copywriting: You have 140 characters before LinkedIn will cut off your copy with the “See more” button. Make sure your first sentence in compelling. An interesting first sentence can get more eyes on your profile, and the rest of your content.

Hashtags research: Following hashtags on LinkedIn is a great way to find new content ideas and stay informed on what’s going on in your industry. Go to ‘Hashtags trending in your network’ to find relevant hashtags – choose ‘My Network’ and then ‘See all’ under the ‘Hashtag’ section.

Image sourcing: Many LinkedIn statuses will revolve around less visual topics like leadership, motivation, success, so you have more freedom and creativity with choosing images. Pair your image with a strong caption and you’ll be on your way to getting clicks and shares!

Graphic creation: Always stick to your brand guidelines with the same font, colours, and logo to create a cohesive, curated look.

Other factors: LinkedIn is the place to keep things professional. Make sure your profile is always up to date and offer plenty of opportunities for people to learn about your brand.

Total time: ~ 45 minutes

As you can see, hiring a social media manager is the best way to get your key messages across on each platform and maximize your ROI.

Social media platforms are constantly evolving their algorithms and interfaces. Marketers should be staying updated with the latest information. Starling Social’s high-level approach to digital marketing allows you to focus on your customers with the reassurance of knowing your social media channels are running seamlessly. 


Your business needs a marketing plan that aligns with your growth goals. We develop strategies that help you create memorable, lasting connections with your customers and grow your business.

Get in touch if you’re looking for help with growing your business.


 

What to Say on Social Media for International Women’s Day 2020

- by Alyson Shane

Is your business ready to celebrate International Women's Day 2020?

Sunday, March 8 2020 is International Women's Day (or 'IWD'), an annual celebration of the important contributions women make to our businesses and communities, and to reflect on the work that's still needed to build towards a truly equal and equitable society.

As businesses, this is our opportunity to lend our voices to an important discussion. But that doesn't mean we should be happy with just ReTweeting someone else's post, or throwing up a generic "Happy IWD 2020" post and calling it a day.

It's more important than ever for businesses to find ways to tell stories about their brand, and leading the discussion with your own content articulates a strong point of view while also showcasing your brand's core values and purpose across your social media.

Luckily, it's easier than ever to tell thoughtful stories on social media. Here's how you can capitalize on storytelling for International Women's Day 2020:

1. Get Input From Women in Your Company

The first thing you need to do to prepare to celebrate IWD 2020 is to talk to the women in your business about the key challenges they feel need to be addressed to achieve equality in the workplace.

Whether that's not being talked-over by male colleagues, trying to succeed in male-dominated industries, or figuring out how to carve out a career path, the women you work with probably have strong feelings on these topics that you can draw from to create honest and appropriate content for the day.

Remember: "diversity" doesn't just apply to gender. Make a point to talk to women from diverse ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and across age groups to get as much information and insight as you can.

2. Increase Value by Being Specific

Anyone social media manager knows how easy it is to craft a post that says "Happy International Women's Day! We support diversity in the workplace" and consider the job done.

While this type of post may get you a few likes, but a generic post doesn't add to the larger conversation about equality, women's rights, or addressing diversity in the workplace.

A more generic post also suggests that you haven't taken the time to understand the event besides looking into which hashtag is being used this year.

Consider that International Women's Day has a history that dates back to the early 1900s, and has been highlighting women's rights and achievements since before diversity and inclusion became a priority in many companies. 

Considering how long it's been celebrated, it probably comes as no surprise that how we celebrate International Women's Day changes from year to year. This year the theme is "Each for Equal" - here's what their website says:

An equal world is an enabled world.
Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day.
We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women's achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
Let's all be #EachforEqual.

Your social media strategy should speak directly to how your business is working to create a more equal world for everyone.

That could mean hiring more women, creating a mentorship or peer-networking program, or participating in conferences that focus on women in business, like SHEday here in Manitoba. 

You should also consider using the 2020 hashtag #EachforEqual to show that you're speaking specifically to this year's event, as well as ongoing, more general hashtags like #IWD and #IWD2020 to make sure your posts are included in searches for similar kinds of content.

3. Be Creative With Your Creative

One of the keys to being successful this IWD is to do a little pre-planning to help save time (ad sanity) before March 8th.

For example, instead of posting a single image or post, develop a series of posts that can be added to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram profiles (bonus points if you use Instagram Stories to share your International Women's Day stories!)

While planning your creative, remember that different social networks favour different kinds of content.

For example, while a post featuring short text with an image and a URL leading back to your website is perfect for Twitter, Instagram's layout requires a stronger visual strategy and doesn't let you link to URLs in the body of your posts. 

Once you've decided which social platforms to post to, take time to tailor your messages to each platform's requirements so they stand out and shine.

Walk the Walk

This year's theme for International Women's Day 2020 is "Each for Equal," and that doesn't just mean posting about quality for 24 hours and then ignoring these values until the same time next year.

Use International Women's Day as an opportunity to share how your business is addressing diversity issues in the workplace, and keep the conversation going - not just on social media, but around the board room table.

Take the time to listen to the women in your organization are saying, and use International Women's Day 2020 day as an opportunity to show that you're committed to a more balanced, equal future for everyone.

Want help developing a digital marketing strategy that tells your company's story on social media? Drop us a line

You can also tweet at us, follow us on LinkedIn, and connect on Instagram.

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**This post was originally published for International Women's Day 2019, and has been updated to include new and relevant info.**


 

20+ Useful Marketing Terms to Help You Grow Your Business

- by Alyson Shane

Do you struggle to understand the marketing jargon you read online?

If so, you’re not alone. Many of the business owners we talk to and work with give us blank stares when we start talking about SERP rankings or keyword proximity.

That’s why we compiled this handy list of 20+ marketing terms to help you grow your business.

These are the expressions that seem to stump people the most often, all listed in one handy place.

If you’re a business owner who wants to develop a deeper understanding of how to market your business online, then keep reading:

20+ Useful Marketing Terms to Help You Grow Your Business

1. Application Programming Interface (API)

APIs are rules in programming that determine how an application extracts information. Essentially, APIs act as windows into a software program that allows other programs to interact with it without accessing the entire code database.

We typically encounter APIs in digital marketing when sharing information on social media. The Facebook API, for example, is the set of rules programmers need to follow when writing their code so that websites can interact with elements of Facebook.

Similarly, there’s the Twitter API, LinkedIn API… you get the idea.

2. Business-to-Business (B2B) 

The term used to refer to businesses that sell to other businesses. Examples include Salesforce, Google, and HubSpot.

3. Business-to-Consumer (B2C)

The term used to describe companies that sell to consumers. Examples include Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.

4. Buyer Personas 

Buyer personas are exactly what they sound like: they’re fake people you create in order to develop a better understanding of different customer types. 

Many businesses are tempted to say “everyone is our customer,” but that’s an over-simplification. Even if your business serves a variety of demographics, like Amazon or Netflix, there are still specific areas about different customer types you can dig into in order to better understand your customers’ needs, and how they vary depending on the category they fall into.

Ready to start building your own buyer personas? Click here to use our free guide.

5. Call-to-Action (CTA)

A call-to-action (CTA) a web link (text, image, button, etc.) that encourages a website visitor to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or contacting a sales rep. Some examples include:

  • Subscribe now
  • Download our free PDF
  • Contact us

CTAs are how marketers move potential customers through various stages of the sales funnel by enticing them to take the action we want them to take.

6. Churn Rate

Your “churn” is a metric that measures how many of your customers you retain, and at what value. This metric is especially important for companies that rely on a monthly recurring revenue (MRR) model.

Calculating churn is easy: take the number of customers you lost during a specific time frame, and divide that by the total number of customers that you had at the start of the time frame (don’t include any new sales.)

For example, if a business had 1000 customers at the start of January 2020, but they only have 750 customers by the end of the month (excluding new customers gained), their churn rate would be (1000-250)/1000 = 750/1000 = 25% churn rate.

7. Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

Your clickthrough rate is the percentage of your audience who “clicks through” from one part of your marketing campaign to the next. 

To calculate your CTR, just divide the total number of clicks that your page or CTA has received by the number of opportunities people had to click (emails sent, total number of pageviews, etc.)

8. Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

CPA is a sales-based measurement that identifies the total marketing spend needed to move a lead (potential customer) from Awareness to Decision stage in the sales funnel.

CPA is useful when applied to marketing because it’s essentially on par with ROI (return on investment) and can be a strong indicator of long-term success in a lead generation campaign. To calculate your cost-per-acquisition, divide the total campaign/channel spend by the number of new customers acquired from that campaign or channel.

By working to lower and optimize your CPA, marketers can respond to challenges in a campaign quickly, which makes their campaigns more cost-efficient in the long term.

9. Cost-per-Click (CPC)

Cost-per-Click (CPC) is an ad model used to drive traffic to websites where a business pays a publisher (usually a search engine or social network) whenever the ad is clicked.

Calculating your CPC is easy: just divide the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks. 

CPC is sometimes used interchangeably with pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, though most marketers use PPC to refer specifically to marketing through Google Ads, and CPC to refer to the process of calculating a click-through rate.

10. Cost-per-Impression (CPM)

Cost-per-Impression (CPM, or cost-per-mille) is the rate that your business pays per 1000 views of your ad.

If the goal of your ad campaign isn’t to generate click-throughs, but is more about getting as many eyeballs on your ad as possible, then you can select this option and only pay when your ad is displayed in front of someone. 

Each time an ad appears in front of a user counts as one impression.

11. Custom Audiences

Custom Audiences are also exactly what they sound like: they’re groups of people who are defined by a series of shared characteristics (geolocation, for example) and served ads based on those characteristics.

12. Evergreen content

Evergreen content is content that can still be useful no matter when someone reads it. For example, a post referencing a specific event or cultural moment can become less relevant over time, whereas a how-to article may stay relevant and useful for years after it’s been published.

One of the biggest benefits to evergreen content is that it’s extremely good SEO material because people keep clicking on the same link for an extended period of time. This tells the search engines that your website has highly valuable content, and will reward your business with a higher SERP rank.

13. Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

KPIs are how marketers track progress towards specific marketing goals, and the best marketers continually review their KPIs in order to understand and evaluate their performance against industry standards.

Examples of KPIs include:

  • Website and blog traffic
  • Homepage views
  • Cost-per-acquisition

14. Keyword Proximity

Keyword proximity is one of the factors that Google’s search algorithms take into consideration when weighing different keywords. It refers to how close two or more keywords are to one another, and you can increase your SERP rankings.

If a website is hoping to rank for the search term “digital marketing agency Winnipeg” you might be tempted to use a heading that reads: “Trust our digital marketing agency to grow your business in Winnipeg.” This phrasing isn’t bad, but a better version would read: “the digital marketing agency Winnipeg businesses trust to grow.”

15. Lookalike Audiences

A Lookalike Audience is an audience created from people who share similar characteristics to another group of users on a social network, but who wouldn’t otherwise be included in more detailed targeting.

Lookalike Audiences are created b analyzing existing customers (or other audiences) and finding commonalities, which allows businesses to find highly-qualified customers who may have been harder to reach. 

Though originally pioneered by Facebook, Lookalike Audiences are not available through GoogleAds, LinkedIn Ads.

16. Mobile Optimization

“Optimizing for mobile” is the process of formatting your website so that it’s easy to read and navigate on a mobile device. 

Most modern websites are built with mobile optimization in mind, and will generate different layouts depending on the size of the screen being used to view the website. The process of building a website that can detect and react to screen size is called “mobile optimization.”

Google and other search engines reward websites that are mobile-friendly, so if your website isn’t fully optimized for mobile devices, you may rank lower on a search engine results page (called a SERP — more on this below.)

17. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

MRR is the amount of revenue a subscription-based business generates per month. There are several aspects to calculating MRR, including:

  • Net new: MRR gained from new users 
  • Net positive: MRR gained from upsells 
  • Net negative: MRR lost from downsells
  • Net loss: MRR lost from cancellations

18. Pay-per-click (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) is another way of describing cost-per-click (CPC) ad revenue models where businesses get charged whenever someone clicks on their ads. 

Within marketing circles, however, PPC is generally used to denote using the GoogleAds advertising platform, whereas CPC is used to discuss the actual cost of the PPC ads.

19. Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is a performance measure used to assess the profitability of an investment. 

It’s measured by measuring the gain from the investment minus the cost of the investment. The results are presented as a percentage that tell us whether a company is losing money on the investment (a negative percentage) or generating revenue (a positive percentage.)

For marketers, we want to measure the ROI of every tactic and channel we use to promote businesses online. Some ROI is easy to track, like cost-per-click (CPCs), while longtail forms of marketing like content marketing are harder to track 1-1.

20. Sales Funnel

A sales funnel is the visual representation of the journey a customer takes from the first time they become aware of your brand, to when they complete a purchase.

The sales funnel is usually broken up into four stages:

1. Awareness. Potential customers are encountering a specific problem and are researching and learning about how to solve it.

Content at this stage should inform and educate, and should be easy to produce like blog posts, quizzes, and videos.

2. Interest. Potential customers are diving deeper into the specifics of their problem. They’ve moved from “why does my back hurt?” to “how do I choose the best mattress for lower back pain.”

3. Discovery. Potential customers are aware of your brand, and are weighing their options.

The content that works best during these two stages are in-depth guides, checklists, pro and con lists, and other pieces that offer insight and guide the purchasing decision.

4. Action. Potential customers are now ready to become actual customers.

The best content for the bottom of the funnel are FAQ pages, videos and product features, competitive analyses, and live demos. These content pieces should serve to reinforce your potential customer’s view of your product or service as the best option to solve their problems.

21. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) + Search Engine Page Ranking (SERP)

SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that search engines like Google can read and index it as quickly as possible. 

How quickly your website can be indexed in a search engine depends on a variety of factors, including page load speed, keyword relevance, how many websites link to your website, and many other factors.

Your SERP ranking is where your website ranks among organic (non-paid) search results, and is influenced by your SEO efforts.

22. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS businesses are internet companies who host a specific service, like Salesforce or HubSpot, that stores your information in the cloud. 

Improve your business’ digital marketing strategy today

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How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro Pt 2: How to Use Hashtags on Social Media

- by Alyson Shane

Do you wonder how to use hashtags on different social media networks?

Then you've come to the right place! In the second instalment of our "How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro" series, we'll cover:

  • How to use hashtags on Instagram
  • How to use hashtags on Twitter
  • How to use hashtags on LinkedIn
  • How to use hashtags on Pinterest
  • How to use hashtags on Facebook

How to use hashtags on Instagram

Hashtags may have started on Twitter, but they've become one of the most important ways to find and connect with others on Instagram.

Once you've figured out which hashtags to use (for more info on choosing the right hashtags, click here), keep these tips in mind:

  • Add hashtags in your post captions. Type the related hashtags into the caption section of the photo. Add your hashtags below the image caption whenever possible.
  • You can also add more hashtags in the comments if you'd like.

The maximum amount of hashtags you can add to an Instagram post is 30, though we don't recommend maxing out your hashtags every time you post.

If you want to use an aggressive hashtag strategy to help more people find and follow your account, go nuts - just don't post 30 hashtags with every post. 

Instead, space out the posts with lots of hashtags in-between posts with limited numbers of hashtags. This helps your content feel more authentic overall.

Using blended hashtags on Instagram

Here at Starling Social, we like to use a "blended" hashtag strategy to help our clients' content be seen by the maximum number of people. It works like this:

When choosing which hashtags to post, use a combination of popular and somewhat-popular hashtags (vs. focusing only on high-performing hashtags.)

This tactic helps your posts be seen by a large number of people right away. But because content gets buried quickly in the Timeline, those additional, less-popular hashtags will mean your posts will stick around at the top of those feeds for a lot longer.

For less-popular hashtags, we suggest choosing niche hashtags related to your brand or geo-location. These tend to be less popular by virtue of being more niche, but still allow you to connect your content with people who may be interested in seeing it.

How to use hashtags on Twitter

Twitter is the easiest place to get the hang of using hashtags.

You can get started by checking out the 'Trending' column on the right-hand side of your desktop view. This is a great way to stay on top of the hottest topics and trends.

You can add hashtags to your Tweet as you compose it, and as you write, Twitter will suggest hashtags based on what you've typed, like this:

This makes discovering new hashtags super easy!

As for where you should put your hashtags in your Tweet - the jury's still out on this one. Some brands love to embed hashtags into their Tweet text, like this:

But lately, we've been seeing lots of Tweets that are adding hashtags at the end of the post, which is an interesting way to keep followers focused on the content. Check it out:

Which way do you prefer? Tweet at us and let us know.

How to use hashtags on LinkedIn

Since LinkedIn is a professional network, the best hashtags are the ones that are content focused, or specific to a topic.

When writing an update from your LinkedIn homepage, you can add hashtags to your post by typing # and the combination of words/terms you'd like to use, or you can click on any of the suggested hashtags next to the the 'Add hashtag' button.

Like with other social networks, hashtag suggestions will pop up when you start writing your hashtag.

You can also add hashtags to articles you publish on LinkedIn. Just follow these steps:

  • Write your article.
  • Click 'Publish' in the top-right corner
    • A pop-up window will appear
  • In "Tell your network what your article is about" field, add text and hashtags to help readers find your article. 

The hashtags you choose won't show up in the article but can be found in the description that shows above your article on users' feeds.

Important: you can't edit, add, or remove hashtags after you've hit 'Publish' - so choose wisely!

How to use hashtags on Pinterest

Hashtags are an essential way for your Pins to be categorized and seen by the right people, so don't leave them out! Make sure to add them to your Pin descriptions whenever possible.

When adding hashtags on Pinterest, be specific and descriptive. Use hashtags that are closely related to the topic of the article you're Pinning, or your brand hashtag.

Related: we covered how to create a brand hashtag in part 1 of this series.

Like Instagram, make sure to add your hashtags at the end of your description. This helps keep your reader's attention focused on your content and prevents them from accidentally clicking away to a hashtag feed before they can click through to your website.

To add a hashtag on Pinterest, follow these steps:

  • Create your Pin and type "#" followed by a keyword or phrase in the description.
  • If you're Saving a Pin using the Share button, you'll see the suggested hashtags pop up as you're sharing.

Pinterest recommends adding no more than 20 hashtags per pin, but similar to Instagram we want to keep our "spammy" use of hashtags to a minimum. 

Ideally, try to use 4-8 high-quality hashtags per Pin.

How to use hashtags on Facebook

Despite being available for use since 2013, hashtags on Facebook have never really exploded in popularity. 

One reason is that most Facebook profiles are private, compared to other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, which are public by default. People with private accounts can't be involved in public hashtag conversations, so their use is quite limited on the platform.

Another is that Facebook hasn't really promoted their use or published a lot of material on "best practices" to date - clearly it's not a priority.

Do hashtags work on Facebook?

There's a lot of conflicting information about whether or not hashtags increase or decrease your reach on Facebook, but generally they don't seem to have a net positive effect.

If you choose to use hashtags on Facebook, limit yourself to using one or two. Bonus points if one of them is your brand hashtag since this will help users see all the posts about your brand on Face.

How to use hashtags like a pro: conclusion

Hashtags are one of the most important ways to help new users discover your brand, and to engage in relevant and timely interactions with your followers. 

If you're just getting started with using hashtags, check out our first post in this two-part series, called How to Use Hashtags Like a Pro Part 1: The Basics for all you need to know.

Do you have a fav way to use hashtags in your social media marketing? Tweet it at us!

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5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020

- by Alyson Shane

Are you planning to invest more time and resources into your business’ social media in 2020?

There’s a lot out there about what you should do in the coming year, and the marketing trends to keep in mind… but what about what not to do?

Just in time to start planning your next year’s marketing strategy, we’ve got a list of the top 5 mistakes to avoid. 

So dig in, take note, and start preparing for a successful year on social media:

1. Failing to plan your strategy

Here at Starling Social, we put our clients through a rigorous onboarding process that involves creating multiple, brand-specific documents like:

  • Audience/buyer personas
  • Copywriting style guide
  • Affiliates and competitors lists
  • Company info sheet
  • Content calendar
  • Social media master strategy document
  • How-to documents per social network and deliverable

This might seem excessive, but going through all this work beforehand means that we have a deep understanding of who our clients are before we begin posting on their behalf.

It also means that we can explain our reasoning to our clients, and refer back to agreed-upon documentation when making decisions or reviewing a process.

2. Not doing audience research

Spoiler alert: your audience isn’t “everyone.”

One of the reasons why we build audience personas is to develop a better understanding of exactly who we need to be talking to online.

This research matters because different demographics of people spend their time in different places online. For example, a B2B salesperson in their mid-40’s is more likely to be spending time on LinkedIn than Instagram. On the other hand, a millennial is much more likely to be spending time on Instagram than LinkedIn.

Audience research also helps you understand the specific pain points felt by different people who might want to buy from you. Having a deep understanding of their pain points and how your business solves them is critical for effective social media marketing.

Use our guide to building effective audience and buyer personas, and make sure you’re marketing to the right people in the right places.

3. Using engagement bots or buying followers

Some brands who feel anxious about their social media following may feel tempted to “invest” in tools that automatically like and comment on Instagram posts, or in purchasing followers to boost these numbers.

If this is something you’ve considered, we strongly suggest you reconsider. Here are two reasons why:

  • Fake engagement doesn’t build real relationships with your followers. People want to buy from brands they trust, and that means spending time showing them that you’re paying attention by doing the work of manually engaging with them.
  • Fake followers don’t help your business grow. Fake followers aren’t people who genuinely care about what you have to offer, which defeats the purpose of having them. Sure, having 20K followers might look great. Still, those 20K followers don’t have any value because they aren’t genuinely interested in buying what you have to sell.

We talked about how using engagement bots is against our company values in one of our older blog posts, which you can read here.

4. Posting on too many social media networks

The key to staying ahead of the competition on social media in 2020 is to identify the best social networks for your brand and to develop individual marketing strategies based on those platforms.

Spreading yourself too thin across too many social networks stretches your resources. It often leads to poor implementation of your social media marketing strategy.

Doing the audience/buyer persona research, we talked about earlier is critical to determining the best places to spend your time. Once you’ve identified the top 3-4 social networks, focus on developing unique and exciting marketing messaging for each one and hone as you go.

5. Ignoring LinkedIn and Pinterest

We’ve seen a resurgence on LinkedIn throughout 2019, and this momentum appears to be building as we move into 2020.

40% of monthly active users use LinkedIn every day. People using LinkedIn typically use the platform to find new and relevant content, which makes them more receptive to anything you may be sharing.

Pinterest is a unique social network because it acts more like a search engine than other social media networks. Even better: pins on Pinterest can continue to drive traffic to your website for years after your initial pin.

Avoid these social media marketing mistakes in 2020

Building a social media presence that generates awareness about your brand and grows your business takes concerted time and effort.

By keeping these mistakes in mind, you can avoid some of the pitfalls marketers find themselves in, and create a lasting, positive impression about your brand in the minds of your followers.

So what are you waiting for? Start planning and get posting!

Want more articles like this one delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning along with the hottest industry news and resources? Subscribe to our newsletter.

Want help developing a social media marketing strategy that gets results for your business? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help.


 

How to Increase Click Through Rates Using Emojis

- by Alyson Shane

It's hard to stand out online these days.

Between social media, digital ads, email marketing, and every other kind of advertisement out there, users see an estimated 11,250 ads each month each month. That's a lot to take in, and it's a lot to try to stand out from.

But it's not enough for your business' content to stand out; you also have to get your customers to engage with it, and take action. But how can you do this?

We're going to tell you:


How Emojis Can Solve Your Low Click-Through Rates

The most effective way to tell if your campaign is going well is to calculate your click-through rate (CTRs.) Your click-through rate is “the percentage of people who view your ad (impressions) and then actually go on to click the ad (clicks.)”

Low CTRs are usually an indicator that your campaign messaging isn't resonating with your audience. Sometimes it's the messaging; other times it's the visual elements. Occasionally, low CTRs are due to poor audience targeting. 

Most often low CTRs are because your content sounds stuffy and wooden.

Modern consumers expect their brands to talk and sound like them, with 45% reporting that they like "brands that don't take themselves too seriously." These results, along with the growing consumer class made up of Millennials, may explain why big food brands like Wendy's have started roasting their competitors on Twitter:


Now, we understand that most businesses out there aren't about to start sassing people online, but an easy way to copy the "humanness" of a Wendy's tweet is to start using emojis.

According to one study, 68% of millennials said they are more comfortable expressing emotions using emojis, and by literally speaking their language your business immediately becomes more relatable and will stand out from the other brands competing for their attention. 

But how can you choose the right emojis to increase CTRs without committing emoji abuse and sounding inauthentic as a result?


Be smart with the emojis you use. 

A recent study found that this list of emojis earned the highest click-through rates: 

What do you notice about this list? If you noticed that none of them are faces, then you're correct! In fact, the data shows that using uncommon emojis increases click-through rates by attracting extra attention to your link because people don't see them very often.

Increase CTRs by Adding Emojis to Email Subject Lines and Body Text

Did you know that 44% of consumers prefer email as their favorite way to interact with a brand, and that email users send and receive approximately 269 billion emails every day?

That's a lot of email to compete with. 

Even worse, one study found that even though people are opening your emails, 52% of them are unlikely to bother taking an additional step to click-through to your website.

Luckily, research shows that emojis not only increase email open rates, but emojis increase click-through rates as well. The study compared campaigns for Valentine's Day and Father's Day that A/B tested two email subject line formats: one with emojis, and one without, and the results were startling: 

The Valentine's Day email that included a "lips" emoji in the subject line drove a read rate of 24% and an inbox placement rate of 89%, compared to a read rate of just 20% and an inbox placement of 83% for text-only subject lines. 

The Father's Day campaign that used a "wrench" emoji in the subject line earned a read rate of 22% and an inbox placement of 96%, compared to a read rate of 21% and an inbox placement rate of 88%.

These are huge differences that you can replicate right now just by using emojis in your email marketing campaigns. In fact, there are lots of ways to get creative with emojis! 

Use Emojis Make Your Emails Stand Out

Emojis help your emails stand out in a reader's inbox. Think about most of the emails you get: how many of them are text-only subject lines? 

It's pretty uncommon to see emojis in subject lines these days, which makes using them a power move in terms of grabbing your readers attention.

One of the companies rocking the emoji game is CoSchedule. Check out how they use emojis to enhance their message in their email subject lines:


See how they embed emojis in their titles to enhance their messaging? They catch your eye and make them seem fun without losing their informational value.

Use Emojis in Social Media Ad Copy and Headers

We've already talked about the fierce competition your business faces against the 11,000+ ads audiences see every single day, so businesses need to get creative and think outside of the box in order to create ads that grab attention and drive action.

Luckily, results have shown that using emojis in your social media ads can dramatically increase the number of CTRs your ad generates.

One company called Scoro A/B tested two ads: one with an emoji in the subject line, and another without. Check them out:


The headline with emoji resulted in 241% higher click-through rate. Wow!

Ask yourself: what are some upcoming social media campaigns your business is planning that could use an 'emoji injection' in the ad copy? Get creative and start experimenting!

Use Emojis on Social Media

Adding emojis to your social media content is an easy way to sound relatable and authentic. Check out how thredUP uses emojis to easily respond to a tweet:


We also love how Cath Kidson uses "checkmark" emojis in their tweets to break up the text and create the feeling of a checklist in their tweet:


Use Emojis in Meta Titles

That's right: emojis now show up on search engine result pages. 

Emojis now appear content that's "relevant, useful, and fun." Obviously emojis will stand out in on a results page made up entirely of text, the using emojis in meta titles has an even more important function:

Did you notice that an emoji search for a dragon also returned results without the emoji in the page title? This matters, because Google is showing a variety of results relevant to the specific emoji. 

This means that by including emojis in your meta titles you can show up in search results for emoji searches as well as text based-searches. Not sure which emojis to use, and which to avoid? Check out this list of the most-used emojis

Use Emojis in Your Push Notifications, Messaging, and ChatBots

Does your business have a mobile app, or use chatbots on your website? 

If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, then it's time to start integrating emojis into your copy asap. Check out how Air Tailor uses emojis in the welcome message on their website:


According to this case study, Air Tailor has used emojis in their messaging to grow by 100% every year

This should come as no surprise as research found that push notifications with emojis drive higher engagement rates than those without. This is because emojis sound human, and make the content you're sharing (and the action you want your customer to take) more fun than just text-only notifications.

Improve Your CTRs with Emojis

Using emojis gives your business a competitive advantage by drawing attention to your content and helping your brand sound more "human" and authentic. 

Just like with all your business' content: strategic and thoughtful in what you say, and use emojis to showcase your business' casual and playful side to increase your click-through rates.

How do you love using emojis in your content? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

What's your favorite brand using emojis on Twitter? Tweet us your answer!

Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn!

Love visual eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram!

Oh, and if you want some help using emojis and a killer content marketing strategy to connect with your audience and grow your business, drop us a line


 

4 Social Media Faux Pas You Need to Stop Doing Right Now

- by Alyson Shane

Have you ever laid in bed and thought about a specific scenario, something that you said or did in a public setting or at an event, that still makes you cringe? If yes, you're not alone! 

Social faux pas happen all the time; whether it's an offhand remark that gets taken the wrong way; a joke that doesn't land; or any other behavior that negatively impacts your ability to make a good impression on those around you, people commit faux pas from time to time.

And just like committing a social faux pas at a party or in real life can make other people feel less inclined to talk to you, committing a social media faux pas can cause people to lose interest in what you have to say. 

Are you committing any of these social media faux pas with your social media strategy that are preventing you from truly connecting with your audience? Keep reading to find out:


Faux Pas #1: Spreading Yourself Too Thin

Many business owners feel compelled to try and maintain an active presence on as many social media networks as possible in order to try to reach as many people as possible. 

So let's put this social media myth to bed once and for all: 

Your business doesn't have to be on every social platform. Full stop. 

Taking the time to understand your business' social media needs and developing a content marketing strategy specific to each platform means you'll be engaging in meaningful conversations on the social networks that matter to your audience.

Applying a "shotgun approach" to your social media, on the other hand, often means you're spreading your resources too thin, and usually means you're spending time on social networks that won't help you connect with potential customers or generate leads. 

Faux Pas #2: Ignoring Context Online

We love our social media scheduling tools, but using a scheduling service without thinking critically about the kind of content you're scheduling (and when) can have dire consequences.

For example, if your company's Twitter feed is exploding with a tragic event or breaking news then it may be prudent to put the promo on "pause" for a little while and take the time to tweet some words of encouragement, condolences, or feedback (where applicable.)

Not only can ignoring context make your business look cold and uncaring... it may make you look like you're asleep behind the digital wheel.

Faux Pas #3: You Don't Listen to Your Followers

Another issue with relying solely on scheduling tools is that they only work one-way, meaning that you can't just "set and forget" your social media content and expect it to drive audience growth and lead generation.

People want to feel like they're being listened to, and that means starting and participating in conversations on your target social networks. 

When was the last time your business started a real conversation on social media?

If you don't know, then it's time to hop back in and get chatting, because by ignoring your audience you're missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with them, build trust and familiarity, and generate new leads and customers for your business.

Faux Pas #4: All Talk, No Strategy

The biggest faux pas we want to cover today is posting and engaging without knowing how or why you're doing it. 

This is where your voice and tone document comes in, as well as a comprehensive marketing strategy that outlines who you're talking to, why, and the topics you want to talk about in order to have authentic interactions with your audience.

After all, while we love memes as much as the next marketer, if you're not taking the time to act with intention then your voice will get lost in the social media noise, and your efforts won't yield the results you're looking for. 

However, make sure not to sound too wooden. Nobody wants to interact with a business (or anyone!) who sound like they take themselves too seriously and act stiffly and without humour. So make sure to toss the occasional joke, meme, or authentic reaction to current events into the mix - your audience will appreciate it.

Do you have a question for us about social media and how to create a killer content marketing plan? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!

Found a hilarious meme you think we should see? Tweet it at us!

Want to subscribe to our updates? Follow us on LinkedIn!

Love visual eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram!

Oh, and if you want some help with developing a digital marketing strategy that grows your business, generates new leads, and endears your customers to you? Drop us a line


 

Case Study: The Local Oyster Blending Food + Fun for Social Success

- by Alyson Shane

This post comes from our Owner, Alyson Shane.

I met Jen and Nick, owners of The Local Oyster, during a recent trip to Caye Caulker, Belize at a local restaurant called Meldy’s. As the sun set over the ocean we bonded over business, beers, and the best damn coconut curry shrimp you’ll ever eat.  

What struck me about their business was how much fun they had running it and finding creative and interesting ways to promote it. At Starling, one of the challenges our B2C clients often face (and which we help them overcome) is the fear of looking “silly” or “unprofessional.”

In fact, lots of business owners I’ve spoken to over the years have expressed concern over taking an active role in promoting their brand.

Whether that’s by physically being present for photoshoots, hosting and participating in local events, and publishing photos and videos on their social media profiles that aren’t perfectly polished; which is why I wanted to shine a light on this unique and interesting social media success story:

The Challenge

The biggest challenge was raising awareness. “There are several brands that are immediately associated with Baltimore (Natty Boh, UTZ, Berger Cookies, Old Bay, etc) and my hope was that over time The Local Oyster would be one of them” Nick states.

He started The Local Oyster five years ago as a side project to help pay the bills, with the intention of it eventually becoming a full-time business. He began by using a “guerilla marketing” campaign where he plastered stickers featuring The Local Oyster logo all over Baltimore, but without any previous digital marketing experience, it was a challenge to determine the best social networks to use to promote the brand.

“I had tried but never really understood Facebook, and I had never even seen Instagram until someone told me I had to use it for my business,” says Nick. “I originally used Facebook and Instagram to let the few followers I had know where I was going to be set up shucking oysters…”

The Solution

“I’ve always considered myself a bit goofy, so that’s what I do,” says Nick. “I take pictures of stupid stuff and food and post it on Instagram.

Instead of trying to game Instagram’s algorithm or spending time determining the best hashtags to reach the widest possible audience, Nick and his team have instead chosen to focus on being as authentically themselves as possible.

Where many business owners would shy away from handling the social media for their business, Nick decided to play on his strengths and use his creativity and outgoing, goofy personality to create interesting, funny, and timely content for The Local Oyster’s social media profiles that got followers as excited about the restaurant as he is.


Nick regularly dresses up in silly costumes, takes videos of himself promoting local events and collaborations with other restaurants, businesses, and nonprofits, and uses this content to showcase just as much of The Local Oyster’s brand as the delicious, local food they serve.

By documenting themselves having fun at events, posting silly group photos, videos, and by not taking themselves too seriously Nick and his team have cultivated an engaged and excited audience of people who take their restaurant (and their food!) very, very seriously.

In addition to growing a loyal online following, The Local Oyster is now recognized as one of the best oyster bars in Baltimore.Your Takeaway

The fear of “looking silly” often trumps people’s ability to create interesting and unique content for their brand, which puts them at a disadvantage.

This is especially true for many restaurants and other B2C businesses, many of whom are apprehensive about appearing on their Instagram feeds, participating in Facebook Live videos at events, and partnering with organizations like nonprofits which may not be directly “on brand” but which convey their personal and brand values.

However, as we always tell our clients: social networks, algorithms, and hashtags change, but the thing that will keep your customers buying from your brand over and over again is your brand values and personality.

Or, as Nick puts it:

“My ultimate goal with social media is to make the viewer smile a bit or even laugh every once in a while. Most restaurants post beautifully staged pictures of fancy food and are so serious. Just like me and The Local Oyster, I want our social media presence to be fun and engaging, and not so fucking fancy.”

So the next time you feel apprehensive about showing your face on your business’ social media feeds, or balk at an employee’s suggestion to shoot a quick video to promote a special or unique service, be default yes. Don’t take yourself so seriously and have some fun with your brand; your business, and your customers, will appreciate it.

Big thanks to Jen Whalen and Nick Schauman from The Local Oyster for the laughs and memories we shared in Caye Caulker, and for taking the time to answer our case study questions.

Do you need help building an online presence for your brand that's as fun and exciting as The Local Oyster's? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help; we're always looking for innovative businesses to work with. In the meantime get to know us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on LinkedIn - we can't wait to meet you.


 

4 Social Media "Bad Habits" to Kick in 2018

- by Alyson Shane

The start of a new year is an opportunity to consider what we want to spend the next 365 days doing with our time, and provides an important benchmark by which we can measure our progress.

We say "this year I'm going to get in shape" or "this year I'm going to eat fewer pancakes" (yeah, right). It's also an opportunity to assess how we've done over the past year, and to start setting goals to make positive changes in the year ahead. 

Luckily, there's no better time to start making positive changes than right now, so here are a few "bad habits" that you may be guilty of making on social media over the past year, as well as some handy suggestions on you can improve on them in 2018:

Being "All Business" Online

One of the biggest challenges facing the modern business landscape is how social media saturation forces brands to be more personal, quirky, and entertaining to their potential customers than ever before.

These days it's not enough to have a great logo and a website that converts; your brand has to have a strong set of values, an identifiable voice and tone appropriate for each social network, and the confidence to crack a joke once or be clever in a post or reply. Having a strong brand identity is essential in a world where most markets are over-crowded at best, and by being bold and confident in the content you share helps you stand out from the pack.

Your social media profiles are where your customers get to know you best, so use them as opportunities to show off your personality while still maintaining a professional and courteous approach.  

Steps You Can Take

There are a few ways you can infuse your social profiles with a little extra personality from time to time. Some things you can try right now include:

Sharing curated content

Bonus points if it's from a thought leader in your industry, an industry partner, or a fellow colleague (assuming the content is appropriate.) Sharing curated content says "we liked this and wanted to share it with you. Since we both like this content, we have something in common."

Piggybacking on popular hashtags

Hashtags are essential to growing your audience on Twitter and Instagram and we love using popular hashtags like #WisdomWednesdays on Twitter to share insights from our clients' industries to their followers and help them reach a broader audience using the same hashtag. 

Embracing memes 

We're not suggesting that you start posting photos of Scumbag Steve every time you get a customer complaint, but memes are an easy way to add some "cool" points to your brand, and tools like memegenerator allow you to make your own, industry-specific jokes you can share.*

* If you make any silly industry memes, please tweet them at us.

Selling on Your Personal Facebook Profile

Unless you keep your friends in the dark about what you do, it's likely that you've shared updates and posts related to your business on your Facebook Timeline sometime within the past 365 days - and that's okay, you're a business owner and you need to hustle to keep the lights on. 

What you should aim to nix in the new year is promoting your business directly through your Personal Profile, and working to grow your Business Page Audience instead of posting about promotions through your personal profile.

By focusing your efforts on growing your Business Page to a wider target audience, you increase the likelihood that you'll attract customers to your Page who have never interacted with your brand before, and who probably don't know you personally.

Steps You Can Take

The best way to promote your business on your own time is to re-share content from your Business Page through your personal profile (by clicking "Share > Share on Your Timeline" on the post) and to use your Business Page to find new customers beyond your personal Facebook connections (friends and family.) 

Here's what you can do:

  • Set up a Facebook Business Page (if you don't have one already)
  • Fill in as much detail about your business as possible.
  • Invite people to 'Like' your page.
  • Post to your Facebook Page often, and measure the results.
  • Use existing Customer Lists (if available) to create Facebook Custom Audiences.
  • Use those audiences to create Facebook Lookalike Audiences.
  • Invest in some Facebook Ads to expand your audience beyond just your family and friends.
  • Re-target previous audiences, test, and keep expanding!

(If this sounds like way too much work just give us a shout. We're happy to handle this for you.)

Not Engaging With Your Followers

Real talk: all the content scheduling tools in the world won't help you build an audience who actually care about what you have to say, online or otherwise. 

We believe that the best way to get others to care about you is to care about them first, and that means being engaged and responsive whenever someone mentions your brand. If someone has taken the time to leave you a comment, post a review, or re-share your content the easiest way to show them that you appreciate them is to say so.

Not responding tells your customers that you don't care about them, and that you aren't paying attention to them when they try to talk to you, address a concern, or file a complaint. It may feel tempting to 'hide', 'delete' or just ignore any negative commentary but think about it this way: how would you feel if a brand you used to love deleted your comment instead of addressing your concern?

So be thankful for it all: the bad, the good, and make sure to let your audience know how much you appreciate them.

Steps You Can Take

Showing your audience that you care about them not only builds brand loyalty with your existing customers, but it also shows any newcomers that they can always expect timely, helpful, and positive interactions with you online.

Here's a quick breakdown of ways you can show your audience that you're plugged in and listening to what they have to say:

  • Respond to Tweets, Facebook and Instagram comments as soon as possible.
  • Check your Twitter and Facebook DMs daily. 
  • Check your Instagram Story Mentions and Messages daily.
  • Thank critics for their feedback and never lose your cool.
  • Be genuine in your replies and say "thank you" a lot.
  • Re-share user generated content related to your brand, like Instagram photos and Tweets.

Not Paying It Forward

The best thing you can do for someone else's business is buy from them. If you can't buy from them, re-share their content, give kudos or congratulations, and take time this year to lift up the businesses in your industry and community through your own social media channels. 

Lots of businesses are wary of spending time promoting other businesses or people - we often get asked "what's the benefit of promoting other businesses?" and our answer is always the same: people want to do business with people they like, and the easiest way to be liked is to support others.

Steps You Can Take

By paying it forward with your social media you're directly contributing to promoting a business ecosystem which benefits both your business and those around you. You get to be a good person while also building good will within your industry and community - it's a pretty great deal, if you ask us. Here are a few easy ways to get started:

Showcase your values

Is you're an SME then you probably rely on your connection to your local community at least to some degree in order to keep your business running. With this in mind, re-sharing content that showcases your company's values can go a long way towards helping grow both your community and your customer base.

For example, if your office is full of animal lovers consider periodically sharing news from your local humane society. 

Give shout-outs

Identify businesses in your industry and community that you can support through your online presence, such as other members of your local Chamber of Commerce, nonprofit member associations, and past and present clients (ask permission first)

For example, if your business is sponsoring an event, take the time to give a shout-out to the other sponsors who also made the event a possibility. 

That's a wrap on 2017!

Do you have any big social media habits you plan to kick in the coming year? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or drop us a line on LinkedIn!

Oh, and PS: if you're looking for a team of creative, data-driven writers and digital marketers to take your brand to the next level in 2018 we're now accepting new clients. So y'know, give us a shout.

Happy New Year everyone!


 

How To: Create Facebook Lookalike Audiences That Deliver Results

- by Alyson Shane

In our last post we talked about how to choose the right Facebook Custom Audiences for your business' targeted advertising campaigns, and now we're back with an even better, more hands-on set of steps to help stretch your advertising dollars further and increase conversions: 

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?

Facebook Lookalike Audiences are exactly what they sound like: they're audiences created from the profile data you've previously uploaded when creating your Custom Audiences. 

This option is a huge boon for marketers and business owners alike, as it allows you to take a relatively small sample size (say, 10,000 of your customers) and create a Lookalike Audience of hundreds of thousands of people. 

Facebook will use the profile data from these audiences to create a new list of Facebook users who share similar demographics and interests. This is a super-reliable way to optimize your campaign targeting and make sure that you're not just re-targeting the same people from previous campaigns. 

Before we get started, you'll need to have the following prepared and in-hand:

  • Access to your customer lists (emails or phone numbers), usually pulled from a system like MailChimp, or Shopify for our e-commerce friends.
  • Facebook Conversion Pixels set up on the pages you want to track results for.
  • The visual assets, headline and ad copy that you want to test*.

* We recommend using at least 2-3 of each, which will allow you to test how different combinations of words and text perform with your audience.

Let's get started!

1. Open your Business Manager and click on the "Audiences" option under your Assets column. 

2. Select 'Custom Lookalike Audience' from the drop-down "Create Audience" menu.


3. Select the Audience Size you'd like to target. We recommend creating two versions of the same custom audience: one at 1% and 3%, which will allow you to target users who most closely match your original Custom Audience, as well as a broader audience of users who may not be as close a "match" as the 1%.

4. Click "Create Audience" and wait while Facebook matches users and populates your new list. 

5. Once this process is complete (it may take a few minutes) open up your Power Editor and begin setting up your Ads as you normally would. When setting up your targeting, just select your new Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu:


... and that's it! Now you can take your visual and content assets and begin setting up your Facebook Ads like you normally would.

Using Lookalike Audiences to Increase Sales

Now that you've learned how to create your own Facebook Lookalike Audience, it's time to begin using it to drive conversions and increase sales... starting now!

Here are a few ways you can leverage the power of your audience:

Grow Your Facebook Page 

One of the easiest ways to grow your Facebook Page is to target one of your Lookalike audiences. This allows you to save time and takes the guesswork out of targeting new users who may not have interacted with your page before. 

Increase Sales for Your E-Commerce Store

If you run an e-commerce store you can set up Facebook Ads that deliver to your Lookalike Audience which sends them directly to your website to start buying. For example, if you have a women's wear section on your website you can create a Custom Audience of only women, then you can use Lookalike audiences to deliver ads to women who closely match interests or demographics of the women who have completed a purchase.

Increase Subscribers, Signups, and Get Leads

For B2B businesses like us here at Starling, we want to focus on increasing the number of actions which will allow us to connect with other businesses (lead gen). The easiest way to do this is to encourage people to take any of the following actions:

  • Fill out a contact form
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Sign up to receive a piece of gated content

This tactic is similar to what an e-commerce website would do: upload a Custom Audience, create the Lookalike Audience, and then send people directly to a landing page on your website specifically set up to encourage them to submit their information.

Get started!

Now that you know how to set up and use Facebook Lookalike Audiences, it's time to start implementing them as a routine part of your Facebook Ad strategy. If you still have questions, drop us a line or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. We're always happy to chat.


 

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