How to Use Snapchat Codes to Market Your Business
Looking to make inroads with Snapchat’s 188 million daily active Snapchatters? It may be time to crack the code—Snapchat codes, or Snapcodes, that is.
In this guide we’ll cover the basics of Snapcode marketing, including Snapchat codes for filters, and Snapchat codes to add friends and gain followers.
Plus we’ll look at the savvy ways brands like Pepsi, Burberry, and Disney have used Snapcodes to put a little snap into their digital marketing campaigns.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.
What are Snapchat codes?
Snapcodes are scannable badges that can be read by smartphones. Think QR codes, but with a white ghost, yellow background, and a unique arrangement of black dots. Each Snapchat user has their own individual Snapcode, which doubles as a profile picture and shareable “follow” button.
Snapchat codes allow Snapchatters to add friends and followers quickly, but that’s not all. Special Snapcodes can be created to share branded filters and lenses, unlock exclusive content, link to specific web portals, and more.
For brands, Snapcodes are an ultramodern way to connect with customers where they already are, and engage them with contextually relevant experiences.
Brands that take advantage of Snapchat platform features can level up from merely advertising to entertaining followers with personalized, immersive, and interactive branded content.
8 ways to use Snapchat codes for business
1. Get more followers on Snapchat
The most obvious use of Snapcodes is to promote your presence on Snapchat and gain more followers. Include your company’s Snapcode on any touch point where customers may be with smartphone in hand, which is virtually anywhere, nowadays.
Newsletters, packaging and business cards are all places you may want to add your profile Snapcode too. Some brands even swapped their Facebook and Twitter avatars with Snapcode profile pics, but that trend has dwindled, likely in response to updated branded content policies. However, Snapchat influencer and artist Cyrene Q. still uses her Snapcode as her Twitter avatar.
2. Connect with your customers in stores
Access to more data and behavioral targeting can make it easier to connect with consumers in the virtual world. But while brick-and-mortar environments may be comparatively data barren, in-store engagements are one of the most crucial touchpoints between the consumer and your brand.
In fact, a 2015 study found that in-store communication is more influential than all other communications, including advertising.
To bridge the offline retail experience, many brands have turned to Snapcodes. For the launch of Mr. Burberry in 2016, the luxury fashion brand put QR codes on the tags of its merchandise at select retail stores. When scanned, the Snapcodes connect customers to Burberry’s Snapchat Discover channel. At the time, the channel contained style and grooming tips, as well as a Steve McQueen-directed cut of the Mr. Burberry campaign ad.
The Snapcode campaign didn’t just lift Burberry’s Snapchat follower count. It positioned the high-end retailer as an authority on men’s fashion. Mr. Burberry was no longer just a fragrance and menswear line, but also a personal tailor and sartorial guru.
3. Create a gamified experience
If there’s anything to learn from the success of Pokémon Go! it’s that people love a good scavenger hunt, especially when augmented reality is involved.
Disney, Universal, and Six Flags sprinkled Snapcodes throughout their theme parks in summer 2018. Visitors who scanned the Snapchat codes got special access to Mikey and Minnie Mouse filters, lenses showing Minions puttering around Universal park grounds, and Superman’s heroics.
It’s easy to see the gamification potential of Snapchat codes for franchises or brands that have multiple or regular engagements with customers.
Imagine unlocking a special discount code with Lyft after scanning Snapcodes on five previous rides, for instance.
Or an airline with a leaderboard of frequent flyers who scan Snapcodes at airline lounges.
What about a coffee shop that unlocks secret menu items after a certain number of Snapcode scans?
4. Generate buzz and intrigue
To promote its thriller Girl on the Train, Universal Pictures released a mysterious series of billboards with a large Snapcode and the eerie question: “What happened that night?”
Scanning the Snapcode unlocked a branded filter, available only for one hour.
Cryptic campaigns that ask Snapchatters to “crack the code,” using Snapchat cameras as detective magnifying glasses, taps into our irresistible urge to solve mysteries. Done well, the result can lead to a memorable and rewarding “a-ha moment” or “wow factor.”
Include a call-to-action like “Snap to Unlock” for those users who may be encountering their first Snapcode in the wild.
To drum up some buzz for the Gilmore Girls revival and to celebrate the show’s 16th anniversary, Netflix converted 200 real-world coffee shops into Luke’s Diner, the fictional greasy spoon in Stars Hollow. Customers received coffee cups with Snapcodes that opened Gilmore Girls-branded filters, complete with “Netflix” charred into a piece of toast.
In one day the filter was used more than 880,000 times.
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5. Turn fans into brand ambassadors
Snapcodes that unlock branded filters and lenses have the power to transform Snapchatters into ambassadors for your brand.
A 2016 KFC campaign featured Snapcodes on posters and packaging with the call-to-action “A quick pic with the colonel.” A scan of the code unlocked a chance to take a selfie with the Kentucky colonel. “By unlocking the secret filter, people can have fun with the Colonel and share the moment with their friends,” said Joshua Benge, KFC’s social media manager in UK and Ireland.
From July to September this year, in one of the largest lens campaigns in Snapchat history, Pepsi Canada printed Snapcodes onto its 20oz bottles, 12 pack cases, and out-of-home ads. More than 20 codes were created, unlocking a variety of branded summer experiences, from campfire cookouts to skydiving. The activation resulted in 70 years worth of total playtime, and a reach of 8 million Snapchatters.
Brands can also encourage Snapchatters to share exclusive lenses with friends to expand the reach of their branded content and increase brand consideration.
6. Let followers “try things on”
In June 2017, Lancôme launched the first-ever bespoke makeup filter on Snapchat. The filter was essentially a makeover à la augmented reality, allowing Snapchatters to try Lancôme’s Monsieur Big mascara and Matte Shaker lipstick shades without the need for makeup remover or travel to a store.
The filter was available for a limited time and then offered exclusively via Snapcodes.
This type of try-before-you-buy activation may not work for all brands, and could backfire if not implemented effectively. But done right, a flattering filter paired with a shoppable Snapchat ad could lead to instant conversions.
7. Offer exclusive content for second-screen engagement
Presenting peeks behind-the-scenes and extras are a great way to appeal to the second-screen impulse many viewers have during programs and live events.
In anticipation of the season 7 premiere of Game of Thrones, an exclusive viewer’s guide was made available via Snapcode. The guide included extras, a who’s who inventory of characters and houses, an interactive map, and histories. Viewers could look at this guide on their phones while watching the episode on TV.
The Seattle Mariners was the first professional sports team to share a Snapcode on a jumbotron, with several other teams quickly following suit. A code on the big screen can offer fans quick access to player and team stats, locker room and practice footage, and more.
Sports games provide brands with a captivated audience of fans. With the right calls to action, they can keep their fan base engaged post game, too.
Of course it makes sense for sports franchises to push Snapchat subscription on their own turf, but nothing is stopping other brands from tapping a captive crowd and getting in on the second-screen sports action, too.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.Get the free guide right now!
8. Learn about your audience
One of the greatest perks of using Snapcodes is that it provides brands with more user data.
Information about where Snapchatters are scanning codes and engaging with products, which products are being engaged with, and more can be culled from campaign analytics.
Data mining can also be a strategic element of a campaign. For example, Gatorade deployed Snapcodes to offer fans access to exclusive content featuring pro athletes JJ Watts and Karl Anthony Towns. But to unlock the content, Snapchatters were asked to provide their names and email addresses, which could be used by Gatorade to retarget fans on Snapchat and other social platforms.
Snapcodes can also be employed to link to surveys, votes, or questionnaires. Use these as prompts for entry into contests and campaigns. It’s a win-win when your brand can create a compelling experience for followers and collect customer feedback and information at the same time.
If you use Google Analytics and your Snapcode links to a URL, don’t forget to add a Google Analytics tag.
How to access and share your Snapcode
Sign in here to download a high-resolution .PNG and .SVG version of your Snapcode.
To share your Snapcode from Snapchat:
How to scan a Snapcode
How to create your own Snapcode
To generate a URL Snapcode, simply add the website link of your choice and hit “Make a Snapcode!” You’ll be given the option to add an image to the Snapcode as well.
You can also create Snapcodes in the app with these steps:
From the Snapcodes section of the app you will also have access to the Snapcodes you’ve created and their stats, as well as your scan history.
Bonus: Download a free guide that reveals the steps to create custom Snapchat geofilters and lenses, plus tips on how to use them to promote your business.
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October 16, 2018 at 08:22AM
How to Use Instagram Quick Replies for Direct Messages
In this article, you’ll discover how to create multiple Instagram quick replies to your Instagram Direct Messages.
What Are Instagram Quick Replies?
Instagram has relatively quietly rolled out the Quick Replies feature to all business accounts. Quick replies are previously formatted responses you set up and then insert into a direct message to avoid having to type the same response time and time again to different people.
The average, everyday Instagram user likely doesn’t have much need for this tool, which is why Instagram has limited the feature to business profiles. Businesses and marketers will find it extremely helpful and efficient.
Note that quick replies aren’t automated responses like a chatbot on Facebook Messenger or an automatic email rule set for certain keywords or phrases. You’ll still need to access and read the messages sent to you and then select quick replies from your list of responses to send.
Reasons to Use Instagram Quick Replies in Direct Messages
If there are specific questions you’re repeatedly asked via Instagram direct messages or topics that frequently come up, you’ll find the Quick Replies feature very beneficial. Below are a variety of situations where quick replies might benefit your business:
In addition to these specific reasons, quick replies also allow businesses to better manage their customer service and virtual storefronts.
According to Instagram, more than 150 million people use direct messages every month to converse with businesses. And almost a third of those people come from Instagram Stories, where currently the only way to respond to a story is via a direct message. With all of this messaging happening with businesses, it’s easy to see how simplified messaging and efficient communication will benefit businesses on Instagram.
#1: Outline FAQs and Compose Answers for Instagram Quick Replies
To get started with your first set of quick replies, look through previous message threads in your account to find commonly asked questions. Copy one of your existing answers or draft a new response that properly answers those questions or topics.
Common topics often relate to your business hours, your prices or rates, tutorials on your products, or the best way to order something or confirm a reservation with you. For example, if you run a hair salon, you might frequently be asked about the cost of a cut and color.
If you plan to run a campaign or promotion that you expect will generate comments or questions via direct messages, plan those quick reply responses prior to the campaign and have them loaded in your list so you and other team members will have easy access to them during the campaign.
Although quick replies are standardized responses, make sure the voice and tone of the messages align with your brand style. If your Instagram posts are typically fun and casual with emojis and slang, your quick replies should have the same feel. Format the replies to look and sound as if the same person wrote everything. The responses shouldn’t sound automated.
#2: Create Instagram Quick Replies
There are three ways to set up a quick reply in your direct messages. The first two methods require you to be in a direct message chat thread with one or more recipients.
Create a New Quick Reply From Scratch
To create a quick reply from scratch, tap on the Quick Reply icon (it looks like a three-dot chat bubble icon) in the message field of the chat screen.
The first time you set up a quick reply, you’ll get a screen that briefly explains the Quick Replies feature. Tap New Quick Reply or the + icon to set up your first reply.
After you’ve set up at least one quick reply, you’ll see a list of all of the replies you’ve saved. To add a new one, tap the + button on the pop-up screen.
To create your quick reply, type the standard message you want to use in the Message field. Then create a shortcut. The shortcut also can’t exceed 15 characters in length. Then tap the checkmark to complete and save your quick reply.
Create a New Quick Reply From an Existing Message
Rather than writing a new quick reply from scratch, you can save any message you’ve previously sent to someone.
To do this, open the message thread where you’ve previously answered a commonly asked question with a standard response.
Tap and hold the message you want to turn into a quick reply. From the pop-up screen, choose Save Quick Reply.
The Add Quick Reply screen will appear with your text autofilled in the Message field. You can edit any of the information here, deleting text, adding more info, or changing the content to be more generic. Create your shortcut as explained in the previous section and tap the checkmark to save it.
Add a Quick Reply From the Quick Replies Tab in Your Account Settings
To access this option, tap the three-line button on your profile to open your account settings. In the pop-out menu, select Settings at the bottom of the screen. Then navigate to the Business Settings section and tap Quick Replies.
This will open the list of quick replies you’ve saved. To add a new one, tap on the + icon and follow the steps mentioned above to create your quick reply.
You can always add more quick replies to your list as you need them. As of the publication of this blog post, I haven’t found a limit to the number of quick replies you can create.
#3: Edit or Delete a Quick Reply You’ve Created
To edit your quick replies or delete one, open your list of saved replies from the Business Settings option mentioned above. Then in your list of replies, tap on the quick reply you want to edit or delete.
From here, you can edit the text or change the shortcut. Tap the checkmark to save your changes.
Or to delete the quick reply, tap Delete Quick Reply and then tap Yes on the confirmation screen.
#4: Use Your Quick Replies in a Direct Message
Once you’ve set up your quick replies, there are two ways to access them and add them to your message thread.
The first way is to tap the Quick Reply (three-dot chat bubble) icon in the Message field. When the list of saved quick replies pops up, select a quick reply to add it to the thread.
Once inserted into your message, you can edit the text as needed or simply tap Send to send the quick reply.
The second way to use a quick reply is to tap in the message field and type the shortcut key for the quick reply. When the blue Quick Reply icon appears, tap the icon to automatically insert the text associated with that shortcut. You can then edit the text as needed or hit Send to send the message.
Pro Tip: When you add a quick reply to a message, personalize the message by including a greeting and addressing that person by name. You might also edit the response to specifically address the question, topic, or industry of the person who messaged you. The key is to remember that quick replies are meant to facilitate quality responses, not replace them with automated content.
Instagram is making it more efficient and reliable for businesses to communicate with their audiences. The Quick Reply feature is one more option to keep you connected to your customers and help you build your relationships with them.
What do you think? Are you excited to try out the Quick Replies feature? Or are you already using them for your business? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments below.
More articles about using Instagram for business:
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October 16, 2018 at 05:09AM
How to Use A/B Testing to Experiment with These 13 Elements of Your Website
You’ve done a great job of finding new ways to drive more traffic to your website. But if that traffic isn’t translating into conversions, you’ve still got plenty of work to do.
I see this common misconception in my consulting work all the time.
Businesses spend much time and effort trying to improve their organic SEO while simultaneously running PPC campaigns to get more website visitors.
There’s nothing wrong with this strategy, but increasing site traffic isn’t the only metric that matters. You also need to focus on how visitors behave after landing on your pages.
Are they converting?
If not, that traffic isn’t translating to dollars. That’s why you need to learn how to use continuous A/B testing to increase conversions.
These experiments will help give you a better understanding of how to optimize certain design elements of your website. Subtle changes can make a major impact on getting your traffic to convert.
To those of you who have never run these tests before, I recommend reviewing my guide on everything you need to know before you start A/B testing.
However, if you already know how to run A/B tests but just don’t know what you should be testing, this list is perfect for you.
In reality, the number of things you could test on your website is seemingly endless.
That said, I narrowed down the top 13 elements you should start with. You can continue to tweak these and run several tests for each component on this list.
I’ll even give you some examples and real-life data to explain how other websites improved conversions by testing specific elements.
1. CTA size
As you read through this guide, you’ll notice that CTA buttons will appear several times in the discussion. This makes sense since it’s the most important feature in terms of driving conversions.
Start off with the size of your CTA button.
For the most part, this button needs to be big and bold. That way, it’s obvious and jumps off the screen. The last thing you want is for someone to be unable to find your CTA button.
How big should it be for optimal conversions? The only way to know is by experimenting with different sizes. Here’s an example to show you what I mean:
As you can see, these two CTA buttons are identical. They have the same font, color, and placement on the page.
The only difference is the size.
But bigger isn’t always better. In fact, after running this experiment, it was found that the larger CTA actually had 10% fewer conversions.
There could be a number of different reasons for this, but we don’t need to get into that right now. The important thing is that this would have never been discovered without running the A/B test.
Don’t assume that your giant CTA button is ideal for conversions. Test the size so you can be sure.
2. Headline wording
Your landing pages will have different headlines. These headlines will tell your visitors exactly what they’ll find on the page.
Depending on your goals, the wording can also prompt people to take a certain action.
Plus, you want your headlines to be SEO-friendly as well. Obviously, lots of thought should go into crafting these words.
That’s why you need to learn how to increase clicks by mastering your headlines.
To do this effectively, you’ll need to run A/B tests to find out which phrasing yields the highest conversion rates. Check out this example from the Movexa website:
At first glance, the two pages look the same.
The only difference between the control and variation is the headline. As you can see, the difference is minor. All they did was add one word.
Movexa increased sales by 89% after adding the word “supplement” to the headline on this landing page.
So don’t assume your headline is perfect until you test different variations. You may be surprised with the results.
3. Free shipping information
This one is more specific to ecommerce sites. But it’s an important feature that shouldn’t be overlooked.
First of all, you shouldn’t be charging your customers for shipping.
If this expense is coming out of your pocket, just include it in the base cost of each item as opposed to charging separately for it.
This added charge is the top reason for shopping cart abandonment.
But simply not charging for shipping isn’t enough. You need to display this information proudly on your website.
This way your customers won’t have to get to the checkout page to know that shipping is free.
But where do you tell them? That’s for you to find out through A/B testing.
Try different locations on the banner of your website. Maybe include it in the headline.
After you experiment with the placement, you can continue to run tests on the size, font, and color of this text as well. Try using all capital letters, or add an exclamation point to see if these variations change your results.
4. CTA phrasing
Let’s get back to discussing the CTA button.
Now that you know the optimal size of this button from a test I talked about earlier, you can start to experiment with the phrasing.
Obviously, the phrasing will depend on your goal. For example, a “buy now” CTA won’t make sense if you’re trying to get website visitors to subscribe to your email list.
Here’s an example from a landing page that targets visitors who need a loan:
The team tested “apply now” against “submit.” Everything else about the pages was exactly the same.
The hypothesis here was that the word “apply” implied that the visitor could be rejected from a loan, which would discourage them from converting.
On the flip side, the “submit” button makes it seem like anyone can be approved simply by filling out the form field above.
I highly recommend experimenting with CTA button phrasing on each landing page of your website. This button is too important for you to overlook.
5. Pricing display
Some websites don’t display their prices on their landing pages. Do you?
Depending on the type of business you have, your branding strategy, and the industry you’re in, you may not think this is necessary.
However, it’s possible that displaying your prices could help increase conversions. Check out this example below:
Adding the price to this landing page increased its conversions by 100%.
After adding the price, you can also run other tests to make sure it’s optimized on the page. Change the location, color, font, and size to ensure you’re getting the maximum number of conversions.
6. Promotional content
Promotional content on your landing pages gives your website visitors an incentive to buy whatever you’re selling.
In theory, these elements will drive conversions. But don’t make assumptions without testing them.
Look at the example from this case study on the SimCity website:
The original landing page had promotional information at the top of the screen, below the menu bar.
It’s simple. Pre-order the game, and you’ll get $20 off your next purchase.
An incentive like this must be good enough to get people to convert, right?
Not so fast. By eliminating this promotional content from the landing page, they saw a 43% increase in checkouts.
Adding too much promotional content to your pages can make it difficult for the visitor to focus on your CTA buttons. Removing unnecessary text can actually be beneficial.
I’m not saying you need to completely trash all of your promotional content. I’m just trying to show you that you have to run experiments to see if it’s worth including.
7. CTA placement
No, you’re still not done testing your CTA button.
Now that size and phrasing are taken care of, it’s time for you to find the best location on the page for this button. You’ll need to run lots of experiments with this.
Typically, your CTA should always be above the fold. Make sure it’s clearly visible at all times.
But test different locations on the page. Try the middle, left side, right side, or even slightly off-center to the right. Try every location.
Experiment with two CTA buttons. Keep running these tests until you find a winner.
8. Image subject
Your website shouldn’t always have a plain white background with no images. You need to use visual elements to improve your marketing strategy.
But don’t just pull a picture out of thin air and assume it will make your website better.
Michael had nearly 5% more conversions than Jocelyn.
This may seem marginal, but depending on the amount of traffic to a website, it could be the difference in tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
9. Navigation menu
How do website visitors find what they’re looking for on your pages?
Typically, navigation menus are the best way for them to jump from page to page. However, if these menus are too complex, it can hurt your conversions.
Remember, keeping things simple is always your best bet.
Take a look at what happened when Yuppiecheif removed the navigation menu from its homepage:
As a result of this design change, Yuppiechef was able to increase conversions by 100%.
If it worked for them, it could work for you as well.
Even if you don’t want to remove your menu completely, you can experiment with other elements of it. Change the color, size, placement.
Consider removing some of the options to keep people focused on converting.
10. Value proposition
Earlier we talked about the importance of free shipping.
But you can test other elements of your value proposition as well. Here’s a look some of the other key phrases that give consumers an incentive to shop online.
By highlighting these other benefits on your pages in the form of a value proposition, you’ll be able to drive more conversions.
Refer to my guide on how to create a highly effective value proposition if you want to learn more about this concept.
11. CTA color
As I said before, your CTA needs to stand out and be obvious in order for it to be effective.
That’s why the color of this button is so important.
Sure, you want the color scheme of your website to be visually appealing, but that doesn’t mean your CTA button should blend in with everything else.
A blue CTA button on a blue background will get lost in the shuffle. And a color like bright yellow will be difficult to read.
So what colors work the best? Run tests to find out.
Here’s an example testing green and red CTA buttons:
Usually, we associate green with go and red with stop. So you could assume that the green CTA button would outperform the red one.
But the results of this test were surprising, which is why we shouldn’t make assumptions.
The red CTA button got 21% more clicks than the green one.
12. Product page layout
On an ecommerce website, the design of your product pages will have a major impact on conversions.
Since these conversions will ultimately translate to dollars, you need to prioritize these A/B tests because a mistake here could be costing you money.
Here’s an example from Smartwool socks:
At first, they tried to highlight certain items on their product page.
But after transitioning to a uniform grid system with an A/B test, they saw a 17% increase in the average revenue per visitor.
Try this as well.
Experiment with the number of products you display on the screen at once.
If you have a grid, test rows of three compared to rows of five. Or maybe two columns instead of three columns.
Test the size of your product icons.
After running numerous tests, you’ll be comfortable knowing you have the optimal design for the most important pages on your website.
13. Length of form fields
Test the length of form fields on your landing pages.
For the most part, shorter form fields have higher conversion rates.
But as you can see from this graphic, that’s not the same across the board.
Right now, if you have six form fields and you can get that down to four, you could assume your conversions will increase based on this graph.
However, some of you may need to have longer form fields if you need to collect lots of information from your customers.
If you look at the data above, it implies that a form with 28 fields won’t perform as well as a form with 40 fields.
So there are certain instances when shorter isn’t always better. Run an A/B test on these forms until you get this figured out.
When it comes to the design elements of your website, you should never make assumptions.
Instead, create a hypothesis, and run A/B tests to test it.
As you can see from the list I’ve created, the CTA button has a huge impact on your conversions. But there are other elements that should be tested as well.
Don’t stop after one test.
You should always be taking steps to improve your design, drive conversions, and ultimately increase your profits.
What elements of your website are you trying to improve with A/B tests?
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October 15, 2018 at 10:06AM
How to Improve Your Facebook Ads Relevance Score: 7 Methods That Work
In this article, you’ll discover seven ways to quickly and significantly lift your Facebook ads relevance score.
What Is the Facebook Ads Relevance Score?
Facebook’s relevance score is a rating on a scale of 1-10 that demonstrates how well your Facebook ad is being received by your target audience. Once an ad has received 500 impressions, Facebook will generate a relevance score for it, with 10 being the highest.
Your ad’s relevance score is a significant predictor of Facebook advertising success. Ads with low relevance scores (4 or less) rarely generate great results, at least not for very long.
Ads with high relevance scores (8+), on the other hand, often deliver fantastic CPA (cost per action).
The two ads below have high relevance scores of 9. The cost per purchase for these ads is significantly lower than the three ads above, which had much lower relevance scores.
Why the Facebook Ads Relevance Score Matters
Facebook grades ads with their relevance score system to provide advertisers with useful feedback, and more importantly, to ensure their platform isn’t cluttered with annoying advertising.
Ads with low relevance scores are punished with higher costs, and ads with high relevance scores are rewarded with lower costs. The difference in cost between low and high relevance score ads can be significant, which encourages advertisers to stop running ads with low relevance scores. The more attention you pay to the relevance score of your ads, the more likely your campaigns will succeed.
What Influences the Facebook Ads Relevance Score?
Several factors are used to determine an ad’s relevance score including ad engagement and social proof. The most important factor, though, is positive and negative feedback from your target audience.
Positive feedback is a catchall term that describes people taking your desired action. For example, if your Facebook campaign is designed to generate link clicks, then a link click is your desired action. In this case, more link clicks would equal more positive feedback and therefore increase your relevance score.
Negative feedback refers to ads being hidden or flagged by your target audience. Some of this is inevitable, because most people don’t want to be advertised to. Hiding ads on Facebook is the equivalent of fast-forwarding through TV commercials.
But if your ad is relevant to your target market and displays something your audience is interested in, more people will take your desired action (positive feedback) and fewer people will hide or flag your ads (negative feedback). This in turn will increase your relevance score and decrease the cost of your Facebook ads.
Now that you understand what Facebook’s relevance score is and what affects it, let’s look at some techniques to improve it.
#1: Shorten Retargeting Windows
Retargeting website visitors on Facebook can be incredibly effective. The highest ROAS (return on ad spend) numbers I see consistently come from retargeting website visitors.
Facebook will let you target people who have visited your website within the last 180 days, and that’s the retargeting window most advertisers use. However, if you’re consistently retargeting your website visitors, 6 months is an awfully long time to see the same ad from the same company. Ad fatigue can easily set in and negatively impact your relevance score.
You can achieve better results from shorter retargeting windows. I prefer to use 30-day or even 14-day retargeting windows if a website generates a lot of traffic. To create a 30-day website custom audience to retarget, head to the Audiences dashboard within Ads Manager.
Then click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.
In the Create a Custom Audience window, select Website Traffic.
The image below shows the default settings for a new website custom audience. Because you want to target all website visitors in the past 30 days, simply give this audience a name and click Create Audience. After 30 minutes or so, this audience should be populated and ready for you to retarget.
#2: Target Cold Audiences With Lower-Cost, Top-of-Funnel Offers
As mentioned above, you need people to take your desired action to receive positive feedback and achieve a high relevance score. So if you directly advertise a $5,000 product to cold audiences, very few people will click on your ad and make that purchase. That means low positive feedback and a low relevance score.
It’s much better to advertise lower-value offers, lead magnets, or content to cold audiences. That way the barrier to entry for your prospects is much lower and more people will take your desired action.
#3: Promote Video via Page Posts
Video ads are more time-consuming and costly to create than image, carousel, or slideshow ads. And because of that, a lot of Facebook advertisers don’t use them. But the vast majority of the time, video ads are significantly more effective. In fact, videos are much more popular than any other post format on Facebook.
When it comes to video ads, quality is very important. Your videos don’t need to be shot in a studio, but the lighting and audio quality must be decent. If you have the budget, consider hiring a professional.
To get better results, it’s helpful to make your ads look more like regular Facebook posts. With this technique, you’re not trying to trick anyone; your target audience will still see the little “sponsored” tag by your ad. However, when implemented correctly, you should avoid getting your prospects’ guard up and high levels of negative feedback.
This tactic is particularly relevant for video ads. When you create a video ad, you’re able to add a headline and a call-to-action button, but both of those features very clearly mark your ad as an ad. You’ll often see better results when you omit them.
To do this, it’s best to publish your video to your Facebook page and then use that post to create an ad, instead of creating a video ad within Ads Manager.
Navigate to your ad within Ads Manager, highlight it, and click on Edit. Then click Use Existing Post instead of Create Ad.
Now select the post you want to use as your ad. Click the down arrow and choose your post from the drop-down menu of your Facebook page posts. Your ad is now good to go.
#4: Target a Broader Audience
One of the most attractive features of Facebook advertising is the specificity with which you can target people. Unfortunately, a lot of Facebook advertisers go overboard narrowing their target audience, and that can adversely affect their ad performance and lower their relevance score.
Targeting larger audiences on Facebook is becoming increasingly important as the ad platform becomes more sophisticated. When you first launch an ad, Facebook will start the learning phase. During the learning phase, Facebook will try to work out which users within your target audience are most likely to take your desired action. If you use a larger target audience, Facebook has more scope to find high-converting segments within it.
So if you find that your relevance scores are low and you’re targeting a relatively small audience, try increasing the size of your audience first. I’m now very reluctant to target a cold audience of fewer than 100,000, and prefer to target cold audiences that include 250,000 people or more. Of course, this isn’t always possible, particularly with local businesses.
#5: Use Multiple Ad Variations
Facebook ad frequency refers to the average number of times someone within your target audience has seen your ad. Once frequency climbs too high, your target audience will become bored with your ads and your relevance score will start to drop off as negative feedback increases.
What constitutes “too high” depends primarily on what type of audience you’re targeting. Warm audiences will tolerate much higher frequency numbers than cold audiences.
When targeting cold audiences, I tend to see a dropoff in relevance score when frequency reaches 2.0-2.5. At that point, it’s best to target a new group of people or make significant adjustments to your ads.
A great way to combat this is to run a number of different ads to the same target audience at once. Varying the ad creative helps keep things fresh and prevent ad fatigue. This is particularly important when you’re targeting relatively small audiences.
The Facebook ad campaign below is retargeting people who have visited a specific webpage. The total audience size is roughly 3,000 people, so having many ads running simultaneously prevents the frequency of any one ad from climbing too quickly and impacting the relevance score.
#6: Qualify New Campaigns With Social Proof From a Warm Audience
A warm audience consists of people who are already aware of your business. This includes website visitors, email subscribers, Facebook page likes, video viewers, and a number of other options.
Because these people have interacted with you previously, they’ll almost certainly respond better to your ads than cold audiences. They’re also far more likely to leave positive comments, and like and share your ads. Lots of social proof on an ad helps convince people to take your desired action. This makes sense because social proof acts as an online endorsement.
For these reasons, it can be beneficial to promote your ads to your warm audiences before promoting them to cold audiences. Targeting Facebook page likes is an effective way to quickly and inexpensively build social proof.
To target a warm audience of your followers, navigate to the ad set level of your Facebook campaign and scroll down to the Connections section within Audiences.
Click Add a Connection Type and select People Who Like Your Page from the drop-down menu.
I recommend that you spend around $5 promoting this ad to your Facebook page likes to quickly acquire a lot of social proof. Once you’ve done so, your ad will perform better when it’s promoted to cold audiences, which will increase your relevance score.
#7: Limit Ad Image Text
Facebook doesn’t want advertisers to use ad images that contain more than 20% text. Most of the time, they’ll allow you to do so, but they’ll limit your reach.
If your ad image contains too much text, you’ll see this warning message above your ad.
Limited reach will obviously reduce the amount of positive feedback your ad receives, which will lower your ad’s relevance score. To ensure this issue doesn’t affect your ads, it’s best to steer clear of ad images with more than 20% text.
Bonus Tip: Boost Engagement With Emojis in Your Ad Copy
Because you need people to take your desired action to improve your relevance score, the first step is to grab your audience’s attention. One tactic that may help is to use emojis. A lot of advertisers avoid emojis because they have a reputation for being frivolous or unprofessional; however, on Facebook they’re effective.
Ad copy with emojis stands out more than ad copy without them. Here’s an example with and without emojis. As you can see, the emoji version of the ad copy is much more noticeable, fun, and engaging. Most people would prefer to read the copy in the first ad than the second.
The easiest way to include emojis in your Facebook ads is to use a tool like Emojipedia. Simply copy the code of the emoji you want to use and paste it into your ad.
Warning: Don’t overdo it with emojis. Facebook doesn’t like it if you include too many, so you may struggle to get your ad approved if you do. Too many emojis can also make your ad copy difficult to read.
The Facebook ads relevance score is a key indicator of ad success. Adjusting your Facebook ad campaigns to achieve high relevance scores of 8 or more can make a significant difference in your results.
What do you think? What’s your experience with Facebook’s ad relevance score? Have you implemented any of these techniques to boost your relevance score? What tips can you offer? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
More articles about Facebook ads:
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October 15, 2018 at 05:08AM
Portal From Facebook: Marketing Experts Weigh In on Facebook Smart Speakers
On this week’s Social Media Marketing Talk Show, we discuss how to implement Instagram’s new two-factor authentication update and weigh the pros and cons of Facebook’s new smart speaker and video calling devices. Our special guests include Jenn Herman and Jeff Sieh.
Watch the Social Media Marketing Talk Show
If you’re new to the show, click on the green “Watch replay” button below and sign in or register to watch our latest episode from Friday, October 12, 2018. You can also listen to the show as an audio podcast, found on iTunes/Apple Podcast, Android, Google Play, Stitcher, and RSS.
For this week’s top stories, you’ll find timestamps below that allow you to fast-forward in the replay above.
Instagram Rolls Out App-Based Two-Factor Authentication: In late August, Instagram announced plans to enable app-based two-factor authentication to the Instagram app. This past week, Instagram rolled out this security update to all users on both iOS and Android. (7:50)
Admins and profile owners can now opt into using an authentication app rather than a text message to secure their account. If you don’t have an authentication app previously downloaded, Instagram will even recommend one for you. Find out how to turn on two-factor authentication for multiple devices on the Instagram Help Center.
Instagram Adds Stitched Instagram Story Videos: Instagram Stories is now allowing longer videos by splitting them into 15-second segments that will play back to back as one long stitched video when uploaded. Users can also customize each interval with text, stickers, and more. Our guest, Jenn Herman, notes that this tool is currently only available on Android devices. (13:02)
Instagram Enables Quick Replies in Direct Messages for Business Accounts: Instagram is rolling out quick replies to direct messages to business accounts. This new functionality gives businesses the ability to craft messages that can be sent in response to commonly asked questions like store hours, shipping rates, and more. Instagram began testing this tool in May and it’s now available on the web and on iOS and Android. (22:22)
Facebook Unveils Two New Video Calling Devices, Portal and Portal+: After months of speculation and rumors, Facebook officially unveiled two new smart speaker and video calling devices, Portal and Portal+. Powered by AI, the Portal devices feature a smart camera that automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view and a smart speaker that enhances the voice of the person speaking while minimizing background noises. It also includes music, entertainment, and technology integrations, including Amazon Alexa. The Portal and Portal+ are available for pre-order online and are expected to begin shipping in November. (33:26)
Other News Mentioned
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October 13, 2018 at 05:07AM
How to Increase Your Brand Exposure in 2018 with Public Relations
How are you managing the reputation of your company?
If you are struggling to find an answer to this question, you may need to re-evaluate your strategy moving forward.
There are certain aspects of your brand’s reputation you have control over, e.g., the way you distribute content through your marketing channels and use website elements to add credibility to your website.
But a news story or a review of your product on a third-party site can be out of your hands.
Your public relations strategy encompasses all these scenarios.
Public relations, or PR, can help expose your business to new audiences.
Simply put, public relations is how businesses communicate with people.
There’s a common misconception about PR. Many business owners I work with don’t have a PR strategy.
They believe it’s only for companies that made a mistake, needing to run PR campaigns to issue apologies or make their businesses look better in the public eye.
While that would fall under the public relations category, that’s not the only reason why you would implement a PR strategy.
Your PR efforts will manage how you spread information. It’s part of your overall branding strategy, except it focuses more on your reputation and communication as opposed to things like your company slogan and logo.
In a digital era, information gets spread faster than ever. That’s why every business needs to have a public relations strategy in 2018.
It doesn’t matter how new or old your business is. Even if you’re trying to create an effective marketing strategy for your startup company, it’s not complete without PR.
I’ll explain everything you need to know about the basic concepts of PR and how it can help your brand gain more exposure.
Differences between PR and marketing
For starters, it’s important for you to be able to separate your PR strategy from your marketing strategy.
Don’t get me wrong: public relations and marketing are very similar. However, there are differences in the goals of these two departments.
For example, some goals of your marketing campaigns would be to drive more traffic to your website, get new email subscribers, or drive sales.
While you ultimately want your PR strategy to result in revenue, the primary goal of these efforts will differ from that of your marketing strategy efforts.
There isn’t necessarily a measurable impact on sales from public relations. It’s more of a big-picture strategy.
The goal of your PR efforts would be to improve the reputation of your business. You may already be doing this with things such as:
However, these campaigns would be marketing-oriented.
To improve your reputation through PR, you’ll focus on things such as press releases and guest-speaking engagements at industry events. These are indirect strategies to promote your brand.
With a marketing campaign, you’d run a promotion on one of your distribution channels. Do you see the difference?
Ultimately, your PR efforts will still support sales.
People don’t always buy products. They buy brands.
That’s why PR is so important.
If a consumer buys your products as a result of one of your marketing campaigns, that person has already established a connection with your brand through your PR efforts.
Understand the different types of media
To keep things simple, public relations can be segmented into three main categories:
All three of these will help establish and build your brand reputation. This will help you get one step closer to achieving your goals.
I’ll go into greater detail about each one of these categories to give you a better understanding of how they work.
Owned media is any piece of content your company has control over.
Although we are grouping owned media as a function of PR, it’s similar to your marketing strategy.
I’m referring to things such as your blog posts, social media content, and website copy.
For example, if you’re learning how to enhance your content by building infographics, this type of media is owned by you.
You control how it gets created. You control when and where it gets distributed.
Owned media will help improve your overall PR strategy. When someone hears about your brand from another source, you want to make sure the content you own is informative and drives them to convert.
To improve the visibility of your marketing campaigns, you may consider using a paid media strategy.
Just as the name implies, this is when you pay someone to display your content.
Social media ads and PPC campaigns both fall into this category.
But for a PR strategy, you may want to consider using social influencers to increase your product credibility.
Influencer marketing has become increasingly popular in 2018.
Incorporating a paid media strategy will help expose your business to a more specific group of people who fit within your target market.
This is more effective than content that’s distributed to everyone and anyone who just happens to turn on a local news station.
Earned media is out of your control, at least to some extent.
Your actions, behavior, and the quality of your products and services are all within your control. If you can get those things right, your earned media should be positive.
However, you don’t have control over what’s said about your brand with earned media.
That’s the biggest difference between paid media and earned media.
For example, let’s say your brand or one of your products is reviewed on a third-party website. That’s an example of earned media.
Customers saying positive things about you on social media is earned media as well.
But earned media can also be negative.
Let’s say you did something wrong. In this case, you probably won’t be bragging on your website about your mistakes. That’s not something you’d highlight in your owned media content.
But if a news channel picks up that story and writes an article about your company on its website, it could give people a negative perception of your business.
That said, there’s an old saying I’m sure you’ve heard before:
I can’t say I agree with that statement 100%, but don’t let one mistake discourage you too much. Your other PR efforts can still improve your reputation and increase your brand exposure.
Inbound public relations
I’m sure you’re familiar with inbound marketing.
This helps you reach customers through campaigns related to SEO, branding, social media, and content marketing.
But what about inbound PR?
You may have heard of it although you may not be very familiar with it. The concept and application of this term are actually quite simple.
With inbound marketing, you’re targeting customers. That’s not always the case with inbound PR.
Inbound public relations focus on media outlets. Here’s a visual aid to explain the inbound PR methodology:
As you can see, strategies targeting consumers and media outlets involve many of the same marketing channels and types of content.
In the past, I’ve explained how to develop a customer persona that improves conversion rates. You can apply the same concepts to creating a media persona.
Now, you just need to tweak a few things based on whom you’re targeting.
For example, let’s say you’re a local business owner. To help give back to your community, you make a donation to sponsor an event at a nearby high school.
You’re doing this to be charitable, but you also want some recognition for your donation.
In addition to sharing this information on your website, you could make the announcement at an event where you know a local news station would be present.
This increases the chances of getting the story picked up, which will give you positive PR.
Instead of focusing on repeat customers, as you would with inbound marketing, you want to focus on repeat publishers. This makes things much easier for you.
These are the media outlets that will continue running positive stories about your business.
Measuring PR goals
As I said earlier, it’s tough to see the result of your PR efforts with metrics such as sales.
But you can still use attainable goals to see if your public relations campaigns are working.
One of the first things you should do is track your brand mentions.
A brand mention occurs whenever someone talks about your business. This is a form of earned media.
Just because someone mentions your company doesn’t mean they’ll provide a link to your site. You do want that if the mention is positive.
Consider using a tool such as Mention to help you keep track of your brand mentions.
In addition to helping you see what people are saying about your brand, products, or services, Mention can also connect you with potential influencers.
This tool is used by PR agencies, but it also has options for business owners. You can manage your PR efforts in-house instead of outsourcing them.
A mention of your brand may not be a good thing.
You need to take the time to review what people are saying. Sort out the positives, and use this to your advantage.
Reach out to certain websites talking about your brand to help you consistently build backlinks to your website.
With these backlinks, the earned media audience will be able to navigate directly to your site. The combination of more traffic and backlinks will improve your SEO ranking.
You also need to measure your website traffic.
Track new customers.
All these metrics will help you determine whether your PR strategy is working or whether you need to go back to the drawing board.
Responsibilities of a PR manager
Whether you’re looking to hire someone new or promote an employee from within, you need to know what a PR manager does on a daily basis.
For starters, a good public relations manager needs to have outstanding communication skills. That’s because they will be the voice and face of your company at times.
It’s common for the PR manager to be the one who speaks at events.
You should also find someone who has great writing skills. This person will write content, e.g., press releases of news related to your company.
It’s possible for you to use this person to write blog posts and other website content as well.
Find someone creative. And PR managers need to have strong research skills.
They’ll use tools, as I previously discussed, to find out what people are saying about your business. Then they’ll leverage that feedback to benefit your company.
The majority of businesses believe it’s hard to find new employees with the skills required to build and protect the reputation and credibility of their companies.
Even if your new hire has an MBA, it doesn’t necessarily qualify them to do the job of a PR manager.
We know 93% of business leaders say PR is just as important to their companies as every other type of communication method.
Whether you take on these responsibilities, hire someone, or delegate tasks to an employee, these are some of the things a PR manager would be responsible for:
Make sure you find the right person to handle this job. Otherwise, your PR efforts won’t be effective.
Learning how to manage your public relations strategy properly can help improve your brand exposure.
While PR and marketing have many similarities, the two departments are not the same. It’s important for you to know the differences between these two strategies.
Understand how owned media, paid media, and earned media all have an impact on your brand reputation.
Use inbound PR tactics to target media outlets as opposed to consumers.
Track metrics that relate to your PR goals.
Part of having an effective public relations strategy means putting someone in charge of those efforts. You need to make sure that role is clearly defined in your company.
If your company is new to public relations, use this guide as a reference to help you build brand exposure.
How is your company leveraging owned media, paid media, and earned media to improve your PR strategy?
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October 12, 2018 at 10:01AM
Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack
Let’s be honest, if there was a trick to instantly boost your Instagram engagement overnight, most of us would be first in line. As such, you’ve probably heard a lot about Instagram engagement pods recently—everyone seems to be in one or talking about one. Usually they’re either raving that pods are the best thing ever, or they’re writing pods off as a useless trend.
So in the name of science (and the Hootsuite blog), I tried a few Instagram pods myself to see if they really work.
Wait, what’s an Instagram engagement pod?
An engagement pod is a group (or ‘pod’) of Instagram users who band together to help increase engagement on each other’s content. This can be done through likes, comments, or follows.
Whether you’re looking for something more general, or even something exclusive, chances are there’s a pod to cater to it.
The amount of people in each pod can vary. There are often pods with over 1,000 active users, and ones that have 50 or fewer active participants.
Each pod has its own rules, but most include these general guidelines:
There are also a few other rules you’ll come across, such as having a certain amount of followers before you can join, what kind of content you post (e.g. wedding photography, baking, lifestyle, etc.), and how much time you have to fulfil your engagement requirements (anything from one to five hours usually from the time that the content is dropped).
Why would I use an Instagram engagement pod?
Instagram changed their algorithm from showing content in the chronological order they were posted, to highlighting posts it believes you’ll care about based on past behavior. The algorithm also prioritizes content from accounts that already have high engagement.
Since this change, users and brands alike have found it harder and harder to build engagement and followings on Instagram
To get around this, pods help users generate engagements and follows. In theory, this should work—the more likes or comments you have on a post right away, the more you signal to Instagram that your content is engaging. So the next time you post, your content should automatically be served up to more of your followers.
It can seem like a daunting task to both increase follower numbers and get engagement on your posts too, so these pods are seen as an attractive way of bumping up your numbers.
How to join an engagement pod
To be honest, I tried, and it’s not easy.
Actually, let me rephrase that, joining a quality pod isn’t easy.
I’ve found that pods can generally be broken down into two distinct groups: the mass pods that have over a 1,000 members and are easy to join, and the small, niche pods that generally have 20 people in them max, and are hard to find.
Facebook and Telegram
There are a multitude of places you can find pods. Facebook and Telegram, an encrypted messaging app similar to Whatsapp, are the most popular. I found googling “Telegram Instagram engagement pods” usually gave me websites that contain a list of the bigger groups that I could join.
Telegram is a good place to find mass-pods of a 1,000 or more users, although there are smaller, more exclusive pods on this platform too.
Facebook also has a lot of groups that you can join. However, unlike Telegram, these are often closed and require an invitation to become a member. Your content is also vetted to ensure you make the grade. They don’t tend to ‘drop’ or exchange their Instagram content on the platform itself either. As Facebook is Instagram’s owner, they don’t want to potentially flag themselves as users who are ‘gaming’ the system.
Reddit has a subreddit—IGPods—where you can find pods that are calling for members, or even put a call-out for members if you want to start your own. These pods will often live within Instagram’s messaging system. Members will message the rest of the group to say that their new content is live, and the rest of the pod is required to go through and like and comment.
And finally, of course, there are pods that start within Instagram itself. I have come to see these as the ‘White Whale’ of engagement pods, as they’re very difficult to find, and very difficult to get invited to. More often than not, users don’t want to admit that they’re using pods, so it’s a bit of a game of hide-and-seek, and gentle prodding to see if you can get an invite.
How I got banned from an engagement pod
Turns out, it’s very easy to get banned and kicked out of an engagement pod. On my first day of testing out these pods, I overestimated my ability to keep up with my side of the engagement bargain.
Eager to dive into research, I enthusiastically signed up to two ‘drops’ that happened in two different groups at the same time on Telegram. I thought to myself, ‘How hard can it be to go through and like the last posted piece of content of everyone else who also joined that drop?’
That was my first mistake.
Both of these pods had over 2,000 members. That doesn’t mean that each member will be active in every drop, but with that many members the participation number is often very high.
When the drop is over, an automated bot will send you a list of everyone who is participating, with the recommendation to copy and paste all of the handles into an Instagram message to yourself to make it easier to click-through. Both of these pods had the rule that all likes must be done within an hour and a half, otherwise you’d be warned or banned for leeching.
I frantically copied and pasted the lists—a task that took 15 minutes alone to do. Then I went on a big liking spree. I didn’t even finish half of one pod before the allocated hour and a half was up, and I got kicked out of the other.
Luckily for me, the automated admin messaged me and told me that I could buy my way back in for $15. This was an offer I didn’t accept.
What were the results?
The results have been a mixed bag. I tried a variety of different pods—the mass ones as I mentioned above, smaller pods with around 100 members, and finally a couple of small pods that I found via Reddit.
On average I received between 40 and 60 likes on content that I posted. I used hashtags and did a small amount of outreach when I posted to help boost the content’s engagement.
View this post on Instagram
Also, before the experiment, my follower number was sitting around 251, give or take, with comments on my posts being rare as well. I’m not a prolific poster on Instagram. I generally post three to four pieces of content a month if it’s been a good one for photos. But for this experiment I tried to post every day.
The mass-pod gave me an instant injection of likes. As I mentioned previously, I joined two of the pod drops and ended up with 749 likes—an incredible increase of 1398 percent. But now I had a problem: the number is so abnormally different than what I usually see on my content, so it looks fake. I also didn’t see an uplift in followers, which suggests that my page as a whole wasn’t being looked at either.
View this post on Instagram
I know from my personal experience of trying to get through the list sent to me that I didn’t look beyond the latest post, so I knew that other users wouldn’t be “enjoying” my content either. They were merely getting through the list themselves, or they were using their own bot to do this for them.
I decided to look for other pods that didn’t have such a big undertaking to be part of them. I found pods that required participants to like and comment on the last five drops, before posting their own content (or some variation of this rule, such as liking and commenting on everything from the last 24 hours).
In theory this should increase both your comment count and like count by and average of five. I found this to be hit and miss though—I did see an increase in the number of comments, but overall likes didn’t change much. Also, checking back into the pod that I dropped in, I could see that there were a few people who posted after me that were definitely leechers.
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Finally, I joined a couple of smaller pods that I found on Reddit. These were simple to get into, and as soon as I was added I went back as far as I could—commenting, liking, and following all members to show that they had added me in good faith.
Both of these pods were laid back, with no real rules apart from “don’t overpost, and stay active and on top of your engagements.” A lot of the members shared similar content to my own, so I didn’t feel as though I was ‘faking’ my interest in their content in order to boost my own.
I let my posts sit for a while to see if organic engagement would increase as a result of my pod work, but I didn’t see any meaningful results. My follower numbers and comments increased—8.7 percent and 700 percent respectively, but as my average comment number before the experiment was between zero and one, this increase wasn’t dramatic. Similarly, likes haven’t really seen a dramatic increase.
View this post on Instagram
However, it’s important to bear in mind that this experiment was done over a short period of time. I’m currently still active in the two small pods that I found via Reddit—so this could have a long-term impact on my overall engagement.
Should brands use Instagram engagement pods?
Instagram engagement pods are a very alluring way to increase engagement on Instagram, but there are many pitfalls and reasons to stay clear of them:
However, there are a couple of reasons why pods could work for you and your brand:
If you work hard to gain access to a niche pod that’s connected to your brand, this could work in your favour. This is especially true if you’re a small or new brand looking for ways to connect with your audience. You can learn from them what your target audience is looking for, as well as find ways to improve your content.
Much like the niche pods, small pods can also offer a more genuine engagement experience—many of them could be open to giving you tips on your content if you’re in a pod of like-minded social managers.
So there you have it—the real truth behind Instagram’s engagement pods.
Although they can look like an alluring quick-fix to help bump up engagement on your Instagram channel, it’s a good idea to do some research to get the full picture on whether or not they’d be useful for your brand.
Don’t feel like engagement pods are for you or your brand after reading this? We’ve got lots of content to help you organically build your following on Instagram—from simple ways to get more Instagram followers to quick tips to up your Instagram game.
Suffering from a lack of Instagram engagement? Hootsuite makes scheduling and publishing Instagram content—alongside all your other social channels—easy, so you spend more time creating quality content, tracking your performance, and learning about your audience. Try it free today.
The post Do Instagram Pods Work? The Truth Behind Instagram’s Latest Engagement Hack appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.
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October 12, 2018 at 08:04AM
How to Cultivate Community With Facebook Groups
To explore how to build a loyal and engaged community inside of Facebook groups, I interview Dana Malstaff.
More About This Show
The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.
In this episode, I interview Dana Malstaff. She’s the author of Boss Mom and host of the Boss Mom podcast. Her membership site is called Boss Mom Vault, and she’s built a thriving community in a Facebook group.
Dana explains how to lay the groundwork for a new group and attract members.
You’ll also learn how to foster group culture and engagement.
Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below.
Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:
Facebook Group Engagement
On New Year’s Eve, Dana rang in 2013 celebrating her last day at her full-time job. She started the new year as an entrepreneur and an expecting first-time mom. Although she was scared and had no idea how to do either, she wanted to be amazing at both. At the time, she felt isolated, living in Columbus, Ohio, surrounded by people who had full-time jobs and no kids.
After Dana’s son was born, he went to daycare while she worked, and she felt a massive amount of guilt working at home and sending her baby to school, even though that’s what she wanted to do. At one point, while she was working on her laptop in a café, the sight of a mom, daughter, and grandma made her cry.
When Dana told her husband that she wanted to move back to San Diego, California, where her parents still live, he said, “I’ll quit my job tomorrow, and we’ll sell the house.” Two months later, when her son was five months old, Dana was living in San Diego, surrounded by people who had kids and businesses. Being among people who were doing something similar to her was empowering.
At Hal Elrod’s Best Year Ever Blueprint, Dana met some people who started a mastermind group, and one of them was Azul Terronez, who helped Dana write her book, Boss Mom. The book talks about how she stopped feeling guilty about creating things while raising a child. As the book succeeded, Dana wove the Boss Mom idea into her whole brand.
As part of that effort, Dana created the Boss Mom Facebook group, but Boss Mom is something much bigger than a Facebook group. Dana envisioned it as a movement with a culture.
In the Facebook group, Dana guides the Boss Mom culture and creates a foundation for what people expect from it, a process similar to building culture at a company. This summer, Dana launched Boss Mom meetups, so the community has an online and offline presence.
When you think about your topic as a movement with a culture, you treat it differently than many people treat their Facebook groups. With this approach, Dana’s Facebook group has grown to 33,000 members, most of whom discovered the group organically through Facebook recommendations or referrals from friends. The group adds an average of 120 members weekly.
Dana’s group isn’t only large and growing; it also has high engagement. Each month, on average, about 70% of her group members are active participants. The group has 85,000 to 89,000 interactions and about 5,000 posts each month.
Listen to the show to hear Dana and me discuss possible reasons why she found more entrepreneurs in San Diego than Columbus.
How to Build a Facebook Group
When Dana started her Facebook group, she made a common mistake: posting in the group and telling people they should hang out with her. For a while, she was the only one posting, which is a sad and depressing experience for most group owners. She hoped other people would comment and thought engaging everyone was her job alone. Otherwise, she thought no one would engage.
However, the group took a turn when Dana stopped trying to manage the group and be the host. She needed to recognize that people would naturally engage on their own.
To create a community and a culture that will grow and thrive, Dana says you need to manage from the bottom up. Instead of making rules, you set a tone and let other people find their roles. People naturally become motivators, leaders, administrators, project managers, informants, and so on. When you allow people that space, they can help you accomplish your goals for the Facebook group.
Rather than creating all the posts yourself, consider creating a challenge or call for people to post themselves. Dana might post, “Hey everybody, it’s hard to be moms and entrepreneurs. Write your own post about this struggle or post an article on this topic.” As members begin to post, the Facebook algorithm starts to think your group is interesting. Then your group can gain momentum naturally.
After your group has some members, you can also ask what types of posts they like or want to see. Dana recommends involving members in this way early on. You can ask members for their suggestions on making the group better. For example, if you write prompts every week, ask the group what kind of prompts they want to see or what would best motivate them.
To get those members, Dana built her group by spreading the word elsewhere online. In fact, she spent more time promoting her group in other spaces than she did inside the group. She sought out interviews on podcasts, created guest posts, collaborated with other group owners to offer free training, and started The Boss Mom Podcast. These activities were all opportunities to promote her group.
When Dana talked about her group, she focused on what she cared about and how she wanted to support people in her group. She chose that focus because she believes selling a movement is easier than selling a service or product. Similarly, she didn’t create a group about how to do something. Instead, she created a group around how she feels the world should be.
For Boss Mom, her movement manifesto centers around the feelings she had when she was new to parenthood and entrepreneurship. She’s the mom who doesn’t want to be judged for working at home while her kids go to school. She wants to be able to not shower for the day and know this doesn’t diminish her intelligence.
To promote this manifesto, Dana created phrases that other women found exciting and prompted them to hang out with women who also feel this way. To help set the tone, she also promised to fiercely protect everyone in her group. She believes this promise is important when you’re building any kind of community.
When you protect the community instead of focusing on numbers, you’ll have to remove members, but your numbers will still grow. In Dana’s group, her promise means that if someone attacks another member, they get kicked out of the group; people are kicked out of the group if they judge people for the way they potty train, the way they run their business, etc.
Listen to the show to hear Dana discuss how growing a community by protecting it is similar to providing value to potential customers.
Establishing Culture and Guidelines for Facebook Groups
To lay the groundwork for the group culture you want to foster, begin by thinking about why you want people to come to your group. People might come for tips, information about events or locations, support, or space to commiserate and complain together. In Dana’s group, people come for ideas and a sounding board, and to brainstorm together in a safe space.
When you know why people will want to come to your group, you’ll know how to set the tone. In Dana’s group, people know it’s a positive place where members support each other, the content is about 80% business and 20% parenting, and you’re encouraged to ask questions. The group can help you feel confident instead of guilty.
To determine why people will come to your group, look at your target audience. People don’t spend enough time on this point because they assume they know their audience. However, if you don’t map out the drivers for your group, you won’t know how to stand behind your community and beliefs when someone breaks the rules of engagement, and the community can fall apart quickly.
You can communicate the group culture and guidelines in several ways. The group description, which appears on the sidebar, is visible to anyone. Also, at the top of the group timeline, Dana pins a welcome video in which she tells members what to expect in the group and how to engage, including what they can and can’t post.
When people ask to join the group, Dana uses two of the three onboarding questions to communicate the tone. One question notes the group is a positive space where members don’t feel judged, but support each other in making business and parenting decisions. Potential members acknowledge that they agree to follow the rules and breaking them can result in being kicked out.
The second question asks whether potential members agree to post promotional content only in a promo thread and not to go live in the group. The third question asks whether potential members want free resources, and if so, to share their email address. About 50% of the people who ask to join provide their email address.
Dana finds that the questions and the welcome video she asks new members to watch (which is also a pinned announcement) help reduce the number of people who break the rules.
Because Dana’s group is large, she has someone on her team help manage the community instead of group members who are leaders and ambassadors. This team member accepts requests to join, removes people from the group who haven’t followed the rules, and flags questionable posts. She also pulls new members’ emails into a spreadsheet that can be imported into Ontraport.
When communicating the group’s culture and rules, Dana emphasizes what members can do as much as what they can’t. For example, members who share an email address receive a welcome email. It explains why the recipient received the email, shares what group members can expect, asks how they want to engage with Boss Mom, and offers an option to download free resources.
Dana’s welcome video also helps new members understand how to engage in the group. She explains how they can get to know everybody and mentions the stores of other members. To encourage lurkers to engage, she explains why they’ll get more value from the group by posting and participating, and challenges them to post something within the first week.
The video is also a way for Dana to share her personality and let people get to know her. She shares a little bit about herself and how she engages with the group. Every 6-9 months, she updates the video because her life is different. She wants to share who she is now and how she’s constantly changing. Also, she’s more concerned about the video being authentic than perfect.
Listen to the show to learn why Dana uses email instead of group membership questions to learn more about group members.
Facebook Group Engagement Techniques
Dana’s introduction video outlines several ways members can engage because their engagement helps the group and helps members overcome their reservations. Because members join the group to find help with their business, Dana connects her suggested engagement tactics with that goal. New members also watch what other members do to learn how to engage and what’s allowed.
Decision-Making Help: Dana loves for members to ask the group for help in making decisions. Asking questions is a good step no matter what you’re trying to do, and everyone in sales and marketing leads with questions.
In Dana’s group, she encourages members to ask one burning question they have in their business or mom life. From a business perspective, asking members to help you make decisions about what you’re creating or doing can generate buzz for whatever you want people to know about you.
Say you’re writing a book. You might post three cover images and ask members to vote on the one they like best. Similarly, members can post about choosing a podcast cover image. Or if you’re making an opt-in resource, you might ask what to make, what to name it, or what your theme should be. Someone working on their brand might ask which logo members like best.
When you post these questions, the group rules prohibit including links to your book, podcast, or another item. However, from a business standpoint, you’re still creating those 7-10 touchpoints that allow other members to see what you’re doing and become familiar with you. Also, people love to engage with these questions. Everyone has an opinion.
Dana promoted the first Boss Mom retreat by asking a question about renting furniture in both her own group and other groups. She had pictures of different styles (such as 1920s, modern, and classic furniture) and asked which style people liked best. Hundreds of people responded, and she sold lots of tickets this way without ever linking to the retreat.
In addition to the engagement and visibility, the feedback you get from this tactic is also helpful. It’s a way to do informal market research. You might ask “Who here has dogs? When it comes to dogs, what’s the biggest challenge you have, A, B, or C?” When you provide options people can choose from, they can easily say, “Oh, I like A.”
Celebrating: Celebration posts are a fun way to acknowledge milestones or accomplishments. In Dana’s group, a member might post, “I finally potty trained my son. Post your favorite GIF of the moment your kid was potty trained.” Posting GIFs is fun, and people will spend more time than they should searching for the perfect GIF. Similarly, members might ask for birthday cake ideas.
If you’re the group host, you can celebrate reaching a certain number of members, like every 100 people. When Dana’s group hit 1,000 members, she produced a special dance video, and today, Dana hosts a live dance party whenever the group grows by 5,000 people. (Because Dana’s group grows so fast, she needed to increase the interval from every 100 members.)
These milestone celebrations generate lots of engagement. When the group is about to hit a milestone, she asks what songs members want her to play, and then members vote on the song they’ll dance to. The celebration itself is a great way to get people super-pumped about what you’re doing.
I ask how often Dana recommends doing celebration posts. Dana says if you have a group of positive, action-hungry people, you could celebrate all the time. During the first year of Dana’s group, she featured a Boss Mom of the Week to celebrate somebody. For each Boss Mom, she asked them questions, wrote a post about them, and celebrated them in the Facebook group.
However, you don’t want to do a celebration every day because the tactic can lose its usefulness and impact. The size and activity of your group can help you gauge how frequently to celebrate. Because Dana’s group is large and has hundreds of posts per day, posts can get lost in a short period of time. So her group can celebrate every week without overdoing it.
Movement Principles: When your group is built around a movement, you can use that to ask questions about your principles or things the group cares about. For this tactic to work, make sure your group has a clear understanding of the culture. Without rules in place, be wary of this tactic. For instance, the Boss Mom group doesn’t allow political or religious posts because they can be controversial.
For Dana, Boss Moms can talk about business and parenting. People who want to discuss other topics can find other groups for that. In fact, she’s done posts where people can share their groups, whether they’re political, religious, or focused on topics like pet ownership or pregnancy. This thread gives people an outlet. Also, her clarity about what’s allowed helps keep people happy.
In a post about movement principles, Dana might say, “I have this really strong belief that I am a woman and a mom and an entrepreneur. I should be able to wear a collared shirt on top with yoga pants and a pair of heels, so I can be all three at once. Who is with me? Will you post a picture of what you’re wearing today?”
With these posts, Dana wants to voice what other people are thinking but might not say. The idea is to give other members permission to share what they’re thinking, what they believe, and what they care about within the mom and entrepreneur space. Then the group can band together and help that person feel not so alone.
Dana’s second book, Confessions of a Boss Mom, shares stories of women in all different situations. Like her movement posts in the Facebook group, her goal is to show that whatever you’re going through, you’re not the only one in the universe going through it. These statements help group members feel connected and loyal to the group, and want to share the group with others.
Reinvigorate Posts: This tactic is about how you respond to people who engage with your posts in a Facebook group. Instead of liking and commenting on people’s responses all at once, Dana recommends going slow and easy. Like one post, let it sit for a while, like another, and let it sit for a while. Every time you engage, the post pops back up to the top of the group and new people see it.
With this approach, you can keep one post alive for a week or more. After the post has been at the top for long enough, it starts trending and gains momentum organically so that even more people see it. The more people who comment on the post, the more the Facebook algorithm shows the post in people’s news feeds.
Also, if you make a post in a Facebook group and no one comments on it, try editing the post. Tweaking the post can help make it successful. After you edit the post, you can ask a friend to comment on it so that more people see it. Sometimes, Dana edits a post two or three times before people start to engage. Don’t let your post die without a little bit of effort.
Priming Posts: These posts teach the Facebook algorithm that your posts are interesting. Whether you’re posting to a group or a page, in the 6 weeks before you launch something, you want to prime the algorithm by asking questions that have nothing to do with your launch, but which people feel compelled to answer.
For this tactic, you can try celebration posts or just little things people want to talk about. You might say, “I was in the supermarket and the person in front of me whipped out 40 coupons. Everybody post a GIF for how you would feel if that was happening to you right now. Here is mine.”
You don’t want to waste that priming of the algorithm on important blog posts that will encourage people to buy your stuff or opt into your offer. When you do that, nobody sees the important blog post or opts in.
To prime the algorithm successfully, start 6 weeks before you want to post the important item and post at least once a week. In other words, make six posts about whether people like cats or dogs, where your audience can’t help but comment and engage. Then when you post about your opt-in, program, or sale, Facebook thinks you’re popular and shows your post to more people organically.
Listen to the show to hear how a conversation about choosing carpet became the most engaging video in the first season of The Journey.
Discovery of the Week
SparkScore is an online tool for analyzing your Twitter engagement.
This tool, developed by Rand Fishkin of Moz, looks at followers, retweets, likes, and lists to measure your Twitter influence. A social media manager can check this report on the same day every week to get a snapshot of Twitter engagement and see whether it’s up or down.
Unlike tools such as Klout, SparkScore aims to be transparent about how it analyzes your Twitter account and offers reports on the metrics it examines. To use SparkScore, you have to connect it to your Twitter account. You can check up to 25 accounts per day.
SparkScore is free to use and you access it via the web.
Listen to the show to learn more and let us know how SparkScore works for you.
Key takeaways from this episode:
What do you think? What are your thoughts on Facebook group engagement? Please share your comments below.
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October 12, 2018 at 05:05AM
How to Cultivate Community With Facebook Groups
Want more engagement in your Facebook group? Looking for tips on shaping your group's culture? To explore how to build a loyal and engaged community inside of Facebook groups, I interview Dana Malstaff. More About This Show The Social Media Marketing podcast is designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing. In this episode, I interview Dana Malstaff. She's the author of Boss Mom and host of the Boss Mom podcast. Her membership site is called Boss Mom Vault, and she's built a thriving community in a Facebook group. Dana explains how to lay the groundwork for a new group and attract members. You'll also learn how to foster group culture and engagement. Share your feedback, read the show notes, and get the links mentioned in this episode below. Listen Now Here are some of the things you'll discover in this show: Facebook Group Engagement Dana's Story On New Year's Eve, Dana rang in 2013 celebrating her last day at her full-time job. She started the new year as an entrepreneur and an expecting first-time mom. Although she was scared and had no idea how to do either, she wanted to be amazing at both. At the time, she felt isolated, living in Columbus, Ohio, surrounded by people who had full-time jobs and no kids. After Dana's son was born, he went to daycare while she worked, and she felt a massive amount of guilt working at home and sending her baby to school, even though that's what she wanted to do. At one point, while she was working on her laptop in a café, the sight of a mom, daughter, and grandma made her cry. When Dana told her husband that she wanted to move back to San Diego, California, where her parents still live, he said, "I'll quit my job tomorrow, and we'll sell the house." Two months later, when her son was five months old, Dana was living in San Diego, surrounded by people who had kids and businesses. Being among people who were doing something similar to her was empowering. At Hal Elrod's Best Year Ever Blueprint, Dana met some people who started a mastermind group, and one of them was Azul Terronez, who helped Dana write her book, Boss Mom. The book talks about how she stopped feeling guilty about creating things while raising a child. As the book succeeded, Dana wove the Boss Mom idea into her whole brand. As part of that effort, Dana created the Boss Mom Facebook group, but Boss Mom is something much bigger than a Facebook group. Dana envisioned it as a movement with a culture. In the Facebook group, Dana guides the Boss Mom culture and creates a foundation for what people expect from it, a process similar to building culture at a company. This summer, Dana launched Boss Mom meetups, so the community has an online and offline presence. When you think about your topic as a movement with a culture, you treat it differently than many people treat their Facebook groups. With this approach, Dana's Facebook group has grown to 33,000 members, most of whom discovered the group organically through Facebook recommendations or referrals from friends. The group adds an average of 120 members weekly. Dana's group isn't only large and growing; it also has high engagement. Each month, on average, about 70% of her group members are active participants. The group has 85,000 to 89,000 interactions and about 5,000 posts each month. Listen to the show to hear Dana and me discuss possible reasons why she found more entrepreneurs in San Diego than Columbus. How to Build a Facebook Group When Dana started her Facebook group, she made a common mistake: posting in the group and telling people they should hang out with her. For a while, she was the only one posting, which is a sad and depressing experience for most group owners. She hoped other people would comment and thought engaging everyone was her job alone. Otherwise, she thought no one would engage. However,
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October 12, 2018 at 05:02AM
Influencer marketing: what is it and why you should care
Marketing is more about delivering messages than selling products. Companies seek to understand who their consumers are while identifying the best ways to reach them. In a world of ever-growing connectivity, digital marketing, as well as social media influencing, are some of the best strategies to use. So, what does influencer marketing mean?
Digital influencers go beyond celebrities; a digital influencer can be any regular person with the power to influence the perception of others. Influencer marketing is employing the ability to change the public’s perceptions about brands and products, which can lead consumers to buy products and, hopefully, become loyal customers.
Different influencers have different reaches and credibility in specific niches, and therefore, will charge differently for their services. The reason why social media influencers get interested in marketing is straightforward: regular people can make money from their power to influence the number of followers they have, and the quality of the relationship they build with them. But why is this relevant for marketers?
Influencer marketing is growing
The overall trends in digital marketing indicate that influencer marketing is becoming more relevant. The Influencer Marketing Hub 2017 Study produced some interesting data; the study documented a 325% increase in searches on “influencer marketing” in a 12-month-period, and 230 new platforms and influencer marketing focused agencies in a 24-month-period. On the marketers’ side, the Hub also found that 37% of the surveyed companies had budgeted for influencer marketing, while 67% planned to increase their budget in the next 12 months. Another study, by the Association of National Advertisers, found that approximately 75% of the surveyed brands are utilizing influencer marketing, while almost half of them are planning on increasing their budgets for it over the next 12 months.
As you can see, different pieces of data point to the same trend: the growth of influencer marketing. On top of that, Edelman’s 2017 Global Trust Barometer found that 55% of people trust individuals, while only 45% trust institutions, resonating a broader trust crisis that hits politics, business, and media. According to the Fullscreen and Shareablee report, 37% of people engaging with influencer posts say their trust in a brand increases when an influencer mentions a brand; this is especially true for younger audiences: 44.3% of Gen Z and young millennials surveyed trust influencers over brands, which is also true for 35.7% of older millennials.
How can marketers connect with influencers?
A brand that understands the importance of social media influencers will need ways to connect with them. That might explain why Facebook launched its Brand Collabs Manager search engine–to help connect marketers to social media influencers. Such an effort by the biggest social media platform reinforces the relevance this kind of marketing is attaining. But for those firms who want to go beyond Facebook and reach the younger audience that is increasingly interested in Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube — there are further ways to connect.
PATRON, a company recently founded by Atsushi Hisatsumi–an individual who was previously a social media influencer in Japan–seeks to bridge this connection with influencers through an app that will be launched later this year. The platform, built on blockchain technology, will connect brands to influencers in different niches, according to their dissemination ability, their power to engage others, and the evaluations they received from other users. MuseFind, a web, and mobile-based platform seeks to provide brands and marketing agencies a way to manage their influencer marketing campaigns. The company is also offering a self-learning resource, called the Influencer Marketing Academy.
These and other platforms can also support those who want to become influencers. As mentioned before, social media influencing is not exclusive to celebrities, regular people who want to become social media influencers can do it too, all they need to do is put in some effort! It is important to find a niche in which you have some authority or knowledge. As for the content created, one should consider not only expanding the number of followers but also building a relationship based on trust with them. With that in mind, it is possible to become a channel through which brands want to communicate with customers.
Influencer marketing is a rising trend in digital marketing. Consumers are increasingly more inclined to trust digital influencers, and that might snowball as niches expand. In that scenario, the goal of marketers is to make connections with potential customers and increase trust in their brand. The goal of influencers is to expand their reach and trust in order to connect with their audience and also benefit financially from their power. The social media influencing story is still unfolding, but for now, there seems to be a rare instance where everyone–consumers, brands, and digital influencers–can take advantage of this nascent market, become involved, and share a piece of the pie.
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October 12, 2018 at 02:50AM