Tagged: Social media

How the TikTok Algorithm Works (and How to Make It Work #ForYou)

- by Alicia Kurz

If you’re like us, you may have joined TikTok as a joke and are now obsessed with cleaning hacks and follow someone who teaches you how to correctly fold laundry — with a little sprinkle of #GhostTikTok on your feed to keep that anxiety high. 

Whether you joined as a joke or you were one of the first die-hards on the app, it’s clear with 2.6 billion downloads, people love it. Reminiscent of Vine and more addicting than Instagram, it’s where people are spending their time. 

TikTok has made an algorithm that’s more addictive than coffee on a Monday morning, so we’re giving you the rundown on how the algorithm works, and how to make it work for you. 

How Does the TikTok Algorithm Work?

As with any social media platform, the algorithms are always changing, however, with the recent demand for applications to be more transparent, TikTok released a press release explaining just how their algorithm works. They also have a Transparency Centre based out of Los Angeles. 

Engagement 

This one is pretty typical for social platforms in general. When you engage with content on TikTok, it wants to show you similar content. The For You feed displays a stream of videos curated to show you the content you are more likely to interact with. 

You can expect to see similar content to the videos that you:

  • Follow 
  • Comment on
  • Share 
  • Like 
  • Add to favourites 
  • Watch through to the end 
  • Make videos similar to 

You’ll see less of the types of videos that you:

  • Hide
  • Mark as “not interested”
  • Report inappropriate

Account Settings 

These are one-time settings like your language preference, country setting, and device type. While they will optimize your performance, these don’t impact your For You page as much as how you interact with videos on your page. 

Video Information

This is what you search for while using the app. This can include details like:

  • Effects 
  • Captions 
  • Sounds 
  • Hashtags 
  • Trending topics  

Diverse Videos 

Sometimes you will see videos on your For You feed that seem irrelevant and have very few likes. This is an intentional move from TikTok to give lesser-known creators a chance for their content to be seen, and gauge your interest in a variety of topics.

“Our goal is to find balance between suggesting content that's relevant to you while also helping you find content and creators that encourage you to explore experiences you might not otherwise see.” 

Safeguards

TikTok won’t show you duplicated videos, content you have already seen, spam, or videos that the app deems upsetting. 

The “For You” feed generally won't show two videos in a row made with the same sound or by the same creator.”

What is TikTok’s “For You” Page and How Does It Work?

TikTok’s For You page is the first screen you will see when you log onto the app. 

While most other apps have the content you have already liked, followed, or subscribed to as the first thing you see when your log on, TikTok’s For You page is a curated stream of videos they think you will be interested in based on what you have already engaged with. 

How to Make the #FYP Work For You

You don’t need to have a ton of followers to go viral. Let’s be clear: if you have more followers it definitely helps your chances. However, TikTok will show content that people like to a lot of people — so make your content relatable! 

Proven Hacks 

Pick a Niche

You can be good at a lot of things or you can be amazing at one. People will follow you because they want to know more about your niche. Focus on creative content that suits your page. 

Create Short, Engaging Videos

TikTok allows you to post videos up to three minutes long, but the most popular videos are 15-20 seconds. Make sure to start your video off with interesting content right off the hop so people will stick around. 

Use Hashtags

Don’t go overboard. TikTok’s captions are limited to 150 characters, so use the space wisely. Use hashtags from challenges, trends, and your niche. 

Post During Your Most Active Times

To figure this out, you need a Pro Account to finds insights on:

  • Video and profile views
  • Follower growth 
  • Best times to post 

Follow Trends

Create videos doing the current trends. Use trending songs, sounds, effects, and hashtags to make your way onto the For You feed. You can find what’s popular on the Discover page. 

Unverified Tips

While we have zero proof that these factors play into what ends up on the For You page, other content creators and our personal experience suggest these theories might have something to them:

Using #FYP, #ForYou, or #ForYouPage 

Take a peek at the hashtags you see on the For You page. Many of them have some version of #FYP, #FYpage, or another hashtag indicating they want it to be on TikTok’s recommendation feed. Coincidence? 

Close the App

Next time you upload a video to the app, close it and walk away. 

TikTok wants you on their platform. In order to get you there, they want to send notifications. Those notifications can be when someone likes, comments, duets, stitches or engages with your video in any way. Let the app show your video to more people and build engagement opportunities for you. 

Post 2-3 Times Per Day

Many creators on the app say posting multiple times per day is key to getting on the For You feed. That’s a lot of content to put out every day! Tools like the Creator Fund (currently not available in Canada) pay creators for their content, which would make all that work a lot more worth it. 

We Tried It

Yes, we’re the stereotype that joined as a joke, but now @rod is our new life coach. 

In fact, our Account Manager Alicia tested these theories with a mix of verified and unverified tips and went viral in six videos!

Check it out!

If you have a chance to test these theories, let us know.

If you liked reading these in-depth insights about the hottest digital marketing strategies, subscribe to our weekly newsletter


 

Are Instagram Giveaways Killing Your Growth?

- by Alyson Shane

Instagram giveaways are one of the most popular “IG hacks” out there — but are all those contests and giveaways helping or hurting your growth?

In this post, I’ll talk about why all those contests and new followers you’re gaining might not be as good for your business as you might think.

Does this situation sound familiar?

I’ve been thinking about (and doubting) the efficacy of Instagram contests for a while. Back in the “before times” when the pandemic wasn’t keeping us all at home, I was visiting a small business and chatting with the owner about how things were going.

She said, “we’re working with an agency who just helped us throw a huge contest that grew our account by over 10,000 new followers!”

I replied, “that’s awesome! How did the contest increase your sales?”

She blinked and said she hadn’t seen an increase in sales. 

I followed up by asking if she’d seen a boost in engagement with her Instagram content, and she replied by saying that it was lower than ever.

“I don’t get it,” she sighed “we got all these new followers and brand awareness, but it isn’t generating the results I was hoping for.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you been running Instagram giveaways, hoping to grow your business, but not seeing any sales or return-on-investment (ROI) beyond more IG followers?

If so, keep reading:

Why (most) Instagram giveaways are bad for growth

Instagram giveaways have been popular ways to grow your account since the beginning, and not all giveaways are bad (more on that later). 

However, since Instagram changed its algorithm to distinguish fake accounts from real accounts and began rewarding engagement over numbers, everything changed.

Instagram’s goal is to create the best user experience possible. It’s why they abandoned the chronological feed and replaced it with a feed showing the “best quality” content, which is measured through engagement: likes, comments, shares, and saves.

Instagram rewards accounts who spend time on the platform engaging with other accounts and creating real relationships.

How does the Instagram algorithm work?

To understand why contests don’t work, we need to dive into how the algorithm works.

Instagram’s algorithm is programmed to provide users with the best experience possible, which means weeding out fake accounts, spammy activity, and buying likes and followers (which we’ve also been against since day one).

Instagram is too big to track down and shutter all those fake accounts by hand, so the company relies on the algorithm to monitor for sketchy activity, like commenting on thousands of posts from a single hashtag, liking too many posts in a row, and other spammy actions.

This is why the algorithm is so focused on engagement, not on how many followers an account may or may not have.

The two types of Instagram giveaways

As I said at the top: not all giveaways are bad. There’s one type of giveaway that can be useful for growing your business, so let’s explore:

Giveaway one: big, generic giveaways

Giveaway two: small, niche-specific giveaways

Type one, the “generic giveaway,” is the kind of giveaway that hurts your business. Here’s an example:

The business owner I was talking to runs a niche business that sells female-focused products and services. She’s a local business, so most of her followers were young women in Winnipeg and the surrounding areas. 

She started with 6K followers, was posting once a day, and receiving 200 likes and around 30 comments because her followers are very engaged.

She hosted a month-long giveaway where people have a shot at winning a $500 gift card if they like, comment, share, and tag a friend in the post. This giveaway earned her 2500 new followers a week. Now she’s got over 15,000 followers! Great, right?

But, then she starts to notice that her likes per post are down to about 100 per post, even though she has all these new followers.

She also sees that she’s only getting about half the number of comments as before, and it’s mostly from people she knows, not any of the new followers.

She’s also not seeing an increase in sales or business growth.

What happened?

The answer is pretty clear: by hosting a generic giveaway, she attracted a bunch of people who only cared about winning the prize, and not enough people who actually cared about her business.

Her new followers might not be the kinds of people who would typically buy her products or services, have the same interests, or even be located within the same geographic location.

So while the giveaway increased her total number of followers, it caused her engagement to drop as soon as the giveaway ended, which  told Instagram's algorithm that her content wasn’t as useful as it used to be. 

Now her posts are seen by fewer people less often, which means she has to work harder to grow her presence on the platform and turn the limited engagement she gets into sales.

Other drawbacks of generic giveaways

Here’s a short summary of why generic giveaways hurt your business and Instagram growth:

  • They increase your total number of followers but decrease the percentage of engaged followers
  • This results in lower engagement for your posts
  • Which results in your account being shown to fewer followers
  • Which decreases the average number of likes and comments
  • Which, in turn, makes authentic growth even harder

If you’ve artificially inflated your total number of followers with people who don’t care about you, then Instagram’s algorithm will conclude that your content isn’t as interesting as it used to be. It will also conclude that your followers aren’t as engaged with your content as they once were, and show fewer of your posts to them. 

This starts in a spiral that shows less of your content to the people who are most likely to support your business. 

And, worst of all: generic giveaways attract people to your business who are less likely to buy from you. Why invest money in a “sales strategy” that doesn’t generate sales?

Effective Instagram giveaways

Like I said: not all Instagram giveaways are created equal. 

Small, niche-specific giveaways can be great for growing your follower count and attracting real customers to your business. 

Let’s use the business owner from earlier as an example. Since her business is local and targeted at a niche of women in a certain age bracket with particular spending habits, here’s what she could have done:

  • Offered to give away something specifically appealing to the audience she wants to attract
  • Something that would not appeal to people who aren’t in her target audience

Sure, giveaways of this type aren’t going to net 1000 new followers a week — but as we just discussed, we don’t want that kind of growth.

A small niche-specific giveaway would have had the following impact:

  • More likely to gain followers who are interested in her business
  • Rewarding the followers she already has, and attracting more like-minded women who are likely to engage with her posts
  • Often cheaper/less resource-intensive than big, generic giveaways

Who benefits from doing Instagram giveaways?

Don’t get me wrong: businesses do benefit from Instagram giveaways! 

But they benefit the most when they’re giving away products they already make or sell, and when their giveaway is targeted at their audience on the platform (not everyone).

For example, our client Portage & Main Press / Highwater Press specializes in educational curriculum material and Indigenous-focused literature. We regularly help them host contests and giveaways where the prizes are niche-specific: we give away copies of popular or upcoming titles, free sets of books for classrooms, etc.

These contests don’t earn them tens of thousands of new followers, but that’s not the point — the point is to get their books into the hands of people who will use and enjoy them, and to encourage people who care about the books they publish to follow them on the platform and buy from them in the future.

These small, niche-specific giveaways help us grow their total followers and increase engagement at the same time. 

Don’t make these Instagram growth mistakes

Running too many giveaways

Just because niche-specific giveaways are more effective than generic giveaways doesn’t mean we should overdo it. 

Remember: contests and giveaways are an artificial growth strategy. They motivate people to follow, like, comment, and share in the hopes of winning something — not typically because they care deeply about your business and what you have to say.

Running lots of contests and giveaways risks attracting people for reasons other than wanting to see your posts. But if you focus on niche giveaways that appeal to your target audience, you can help people with similar interests find your account. 

Focusing on vanity metrics

“Vanity metrics” are numbers that make you feel good, but don’t actually help you grow your business, increase sales, or generate a higher return-on-investment (ROI). 

On Instagram, the vanity metric people obsess over are their follower counts. 

Instagram giveaways: final thoughts

Like I said above, vanity metrics are just that: vanity. Who cares if you have 10,000 followers if only 100 of those followers genuinely care about buying from your business?

While small giveaways targeted to your niche can be great ways of growing your Instagram following, running big, generic giveaways hurts your growth, business, and wastes your time and money.

True, sustainable growth takes time, energy, and real commitment to fostering a community of people who love and support your business — something generic giveaways don’t do.

Do you have questions about running nice-specific giveaways? Drop us a line and let’s chat about how you can run contests and giveaways that actually grow your business.

And hey — if you like what you’ve read here, sign up for our weekly newsletter that’s jam-packed with articles and resources to help you make more strategic, informed decisions about your digital marketing. 


 

How to Find New Leads on LinkedIn

- by Alyson Shane

Want to use LinkedIn to find more leads? Looking for more ways to turn your cold connections into warm leads that move through your sales funnel?

With almost 700 million active users in 2020, LinkedIn has become more than just a job-hunting and networking tool. These days, LinkedIn isn’t just for CEOs and salespeople - it’s a must-use tool for any B2B business looking to increase brand awareness, find new leads, and increase sales by expanding their customer base.

If you’ve never tried using LinkedIn to generate leads, then don’t miss this post! These strategies will help you start reaching prospects and nurturing them into warm leads. 

Update Your LinkedIn Profile To a Custom URL

This simple strategy is one of the most overlooked tactics on LinkedIn. Custom links create a sense of consistency across your LinkedIn profiles and helps you look more professional. 

Instead of your LinkedIn profile URL looking like this:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/d5...

To this:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/al...

Updating this field is super simple! Just follow these steps:

  • Start by clicking on the Me icon on the top-right of your LinkedIn home page
  • Click View Profile

  • On your profile page, click Edit Public Profile & URL on the right

  • On the new window that opens up, click on Edit your custom URL on the top-right

That’s it! This simple step will help create a sense of cohesion across your LinkedIn profiles.

Invite connections to like your LinkedIn company page

It seems simple, but it works! This new(ish) feature might not be available for all company pages yet, but once it’s available inviting your connections to like your page is super easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Navigate to your Linkedin company page
  • Under the Admin Tools drop-down menu, select Invite Connections

  • A pop-up window will appear with all your connections listed
  • Select each person you’d like to invite, and click Invite Connections
  • If an error appears, you may have reached your invitation limit

To prevent companies from spamming their contacts, LinkedIn only allows 100 invites at a time. These invites are “credited” back to your account once someone has accepted your invite to like your page.

Share curated content from LinkedIn Content Suggestions

Another way to find new leads on LinkedIn is to regularly share posts focusing on topics they’re interested in. 

If you’re not sure what to share, LinkedIn has a handy Content Suggestions feature for company pages. This tool helps you discover topics and articles that your audience is engaging with on LinkedIn and is a quick, easy way to share content with your followers.

To use this feature, take the following steps:

  • Navigate to your Linkedin company page
  • Select Content

  • In the pop-up window, select your industry and a few demographics about your audience (ideal leads)
  • Click View Content Suggestions

LinkedIn will generate a list of trending content from the last 15 days based on your selected industry and audience demographics. You can refresh this list over and over to find new content suggestions that appeal to different audience types.

But beware: not every content suggestion will resonate with your followers, so choose wisely.

Use LinkedIn Messaging to build relationships

The more people become familiar with you, the more they like and trust you. This is also known as the Mere-Exposure Effect. Our favourite example of this effect in action is this chart of Benedict Cumberbatch

Obviously this chart was made as a joke, but it demonstrates exactly how the Mere-Exposure Effect works: the more someone sees Benedict Cumberbatch’s face, the more attractive he becomes.

So what does the Mere-Exposure Effect have to do with finding new leads on LinkedIn? 

Building the authority and brand awareness necessary to move a prospect from a cold lead to a warm lead takes time. After all, people want to buy from people and brands they like and trust, and the higher the investment in a product or service is, the higher that trust level has to be.

One of the easiest ways to establish this trust is to use LinkedIn Messaging to build strong relationships with prospective customers. 

How to develop a LinkedIn messaging strategy

Sliding into people’s DMs and asking them to buy from you right away is a tactless move, and it’s honestly a little rude, especially if you don’t know the person you’re messaging.

If you want a response you need to approach the relationship naturally. Ask questions, provide value, and be a real human being before pressing for a consultation or sales call. Think about this outreach as a multi-step process that could look something like this:

Step 1: Send a connection request

When you send a LinkedIn connection request, always click Add a Note to customize the invitation. Here’s an example of the kind of note we add (notice it’s focused on them and doesn’t try to sell anything right off the bat):

Step 2: Thank them for connecting with a value-add

Once someone accepts your connection request, send them a follow-up message as soon as possible. This message should thank them for connecting, and include a link to a relevant article or group you manage.

Here’s an example of a follow-up message on LinkedIn:

Hey Sandra,

Just wanted to drop you a line and say thanks for connecting! I’m looking forward to keeping in touch. 

Since you work in a technical field, I’d love your thoughts on this article we recently published about writing technical blog posts. You can find it here: [LINK]

Looking forward to your feedback!

Cheers, Alyson

Remember: the purpose of this message is to show them that you’re a trustworthy resource of content they care about. Make sure to tailor this value-add to the person you’re talking to!

Step 3: Share a link to a high-quality 3rd party resource (article, video, webinar, etc.)

We recommend waiting at least a few days between sending these messages so you don’t seem pushy and overbearing. 

This message should again relate to something they’ve said, posted, or shared on the platform. Be specific about why you think they’ll be interested in the resource and what you think about it as well. Don’t forget to ask for their feedback!

Here’s an example of what this message could look like:

Hey Sandra, 

I hope business has been going well! I found this article and it made me think of you, so I wanted to send it your way. It talks about the importance of showcasing company culture in “technical” industries like yours. 

You can find it here: [LINK]

I thought the suggestion to use the new Instagram Reels feature to introduce followers to your office team was really great. I’d love to know what you think!

Cheers, Alyson

Message 4: Request a phone call

Unless you’re a born salesperson, this is arguably the most anxiety-inducing of all the messages in this strategy.  This message should be short, polite, and to the point.

Here’s an example of what it could look like:

Hey Sandra,

I’m working on getting to know my LinkedIn connections a little better, and since we’ve been crossing paths lately I’d love to hop on a quick call and see how we can both benefit from being connected.

Are you free to chat next week? How’s Thursday, November 5th, in the morning work for you?

Cheers, Alyson

Did you notice that we suggested a specific date and time to meet? This strategy makes it easier for someone to say “yes” because they can quickly check to see if they’re available.

Message 5: Follow up

If the person doesn’t reply, send this follow-up message a few days after you’ve sent the message above. 

Hey Sandra,

Hope you’re doing great! Just following up on my invite to have a short phone chat to get to know each other a bit better. I’d love to learn more about how we can both benefit from being connected.

If not, that’s totally fine! You can always reach me directly via email. I hope to hear from you soon!

Cheers, Alyson

Only send this message once. Sending it multiple times will look pushy and might damage both yours and your brand’s reputations. 

How to find new leads on LinkedIn: conclusion

These are just a few of the many strategies you can use to generate new leads for your business on LinkedIn. 

Remember: the best way to use LinkedIn is to be helpful, positive, and consistent. By posting regularly, liking and commenting on the posts your connections share, and using the strategies we outlined above, you’ll be generating new leads for your business in no time.

Want more resources like this delivered to your inbox once a week? Subscribe to our hand-picked roundup of the strategies you need to know. 

If you’re ready to level-up your LinkedIn marketing strategy, drop us a line!


 

How To: Create Facebook Lookalike Audiences That Deliver Results

- by Alyson Shane

Hey there! This post was originally published on December 2017, but has been updated as recently as September 2020.

Are you looking to connect with more customers and increase leads for your business? 

Are you wondering how to use Facebook Audiences to create Custom Lookalike Audiences?

This post will be your guide! In our first post about Facebook Custom Audiences we shared how to choose the right Custom Audiences for your Facebook ads, but this one will go into one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when you use Facebook Ads: Facebook Lookalike Audiences.

What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences are audiences created from the profile data you've previously uploaded when creating your Custom Audiences.

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.

Lookalike Audiences allow you to take a relatively small sample size (10,000 customers, for example) and create "lookalike" audiences comprised of hundreds of thousands of people.

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... 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

The fastest way to turn a lead into a customer is to increase the amount of interactions they have with your brand. Examples of "interactions" can include:

  • Answering a survey
  • Filling out a form
  • Subscribing to a mailing list
  • Downloading a piece of 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 take the action you want them to take.

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.


 

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.

Looking to stay up-to-date with our posts? Subscribe to our newsletter.

**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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Ready to level up your business’ digital marketing strategy? Get in touch and let us know how we can help your business reach more customers online.


 

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!

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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


 

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